Category Archives: teaching strategies

Great idea for a New Year

A great idea for a new year of classroom activities can be found at a blog on We Are Teachers.  Why not check it out.  While you are at the blog site, you could click around to some great ideas and even grant ideas. 

Everyone knows a teacher is always busy with many things but do your self a favor this year and investigate some websites that might spark an idea, brighten your day or lighten your perspective.

Perhaps someone out there has some ideas to share with us.  Go for it!


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Service Learning is a part of our school days but are they global?

This is a quick post to highlight another blog by an educator. If you do service activiites in your school or your classroom this post will give you some ideas on connecting it to global learning even if done right in their own back yard.  It also holds some good ideas for the reflection that is so important for service to be learning.


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Are there novelists lurking in your classroom?

Are there novelists lurking in your classroom?  Do you think you and they could each create a novel in one month?

Many educators believe that the answer to both questions is YES!  In this Edutopia Blog Laura Bradley, an educator and blogger, explains how her middle school students accomplished this with oodles of excitement among the young writers – they were asking to write.  Those who are teaching Grade 8 students know what a feat this was.

Look at her blog and click on some of the links she used to help the process.  It is all part of a national project that you can learn more about by going to the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo site.  This is for any age writer so elementary and middle school teachers take heart.  You can download free materials to help in the process.

Share your progress, your success, your challenges as you attempt this project in November!  If you are going to participate, you need to check it out now and plan your classroom activities leading up to the Big Write!


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What does a Garden Teach?

There is a wonderful article in the on-line version only of Educational Leadership magazine by ASCD.  In it the author describes and gives pointers on all the benefits of a garden in education.  She traces back to Dewey and his theories.  (Is anyone able to remember those theories of education?  I certainly still do!)

Gardens can be used for science, math, hands-on experience, and reading and language.  There is this video that demonstrates some language learning in a garden.  Perhaps you have your ideas as well.  Share them here. 

Do you have a garden for your school or class?  Perhaps you can at least develop a word garden to begin.



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It is already the middle of July and ….

It is already the middle of July and for most of you, things are beginning to look forward to the new school year.  No one wants to rush the rest of the summer but here are a few ideas for looking to the beginning. 

The network of teachers on We Are Teachers (WAT) site have put together a set of creative ways to look at that old stand-by of seating charts and classroom organization.  There is always room for one more idea on how to gather students for learning.  Personally I like the idea of giving students an opportunity to use a “gym” ball or exercise ball as a seat.  You do see everyday in a classroom those students who must fidget, well this idea allows that to happen without distraction. 

Enjoy the last weeks of July and begin gathering your enthusiasm for the new school year ahead.


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From the mouth of a Twelve Year Old

St. Nick sent a great gift today!  A little snow to enjoy and a great post on whatedsaid my favorite educational blog for teachers.  The point was – what are the benefits for students when they do a blog for class? 

The students themselves compiled their own reasons and you can read them – there are ten reasons given.  I will give you one reason by a twelve-year-old student from Australia noted on the list: 

 ” It helped me as a thinker because when you look at other people’s posts on sometimes the same thing, they could be very different and it could change your thinking too. Because you realize the other side of what you are thinking. My comments now are very different to the start of the year because now I am thinking as a learner, but before I was more thinking about being a worker at school. This helps a lot because you want to get something out of what you do – that is what a learner does, a worker does it to get it done.” (Josh)

Wouldn’t you like to have your students say this about some activity within their class  I have heard numerous teachers and principals note that they just wish students found joy in learning and not just look for the grade!  Well do your own experiment and see what you and your students experience. 

It is my belief that we may keep learning from happening if we don’t reach for real learning experiences beyond our own classroom walls.  Of course that might be very difficult for a teacher to do if that teacher does not keep learning beyond their own classroom.  Open your doors and windows (not literally) and make connections for yourself and your students.  This may be where real learning happens and not just work!

If you have done a classroom blog with your students – what did they think about it?  What did you notice?  Did you keep it totally walled in for your class only?  Why?  Would you do it differently?

Have you had a conversation with your students regarding what they learned and what they liked in learning experiences?  Perhaps your comments to this post will help us all learn the importance of student blogs and other experiences.

Let us hear from you and create our own list of benefits or challenges.


Do You Want Personalized Professional Development ?

In a previous post on this blog I gave some information regarding the METC (Missouri Ed Tech Conference) that will take place in February 2012.  Since many of you are full-time teachers at school during the day, you may not be able to attend.  However, there is something for you that is free, that’s right FREE that has 57 slots still open and it is on a weekend in February as a pre METC event.

All of you are welcome to attend and I believe it will be just what you want since the topics will come from the participants and the experts or information will come from the participants as well.  This event is called EdCamp.

It is a new concept that has only been done a few times, but it will be very good.  Sometimes we believe we need to have persons who are the “experts” be the only presenter.  However, this is an opportunity to learn from peers in a less formal atmosphere.  If you are a beginner, there will be others.  Often we say, I already knew that when we are listening – so get up and move somewhere else. 

I have heard that the topics at these PD days are never what helps me.  If you want to integrate technology into your lessons to be more effective, then reflect on what you need and attend this EdCamp and ask them.  Someone in the group will know how to help.  Even if the question is “How do I integrate technology when we have such limited resources or our internet is always down or we don’t have money for video conferences, etc, etc.  There has to be others out there that have already discovered some resources you can afford or that are free.

The challenge for every educator is learning from others.  We can’t be too proud to ask or too proud to share.  Remember those worksheets that used to be the way to engage a child – it was never a problem giving them free of charge to others.  “If you like it copy it!” was the often used phrase.  Now the phrase is “If you ask it, someone else has before you and here is their best answer, use it!” 

To be a teacher you must be a learner and a teacher of all!