Is Your Energy Sink Coordinating a BIG Event?

Is there a large event you’re responsible for planning? A math night? A science night? A reading night? These events are great at creating memories that last for a lifetime. Does it seem to take a lifetime of planning to coordinate activities, gather materials, prep volunteers, hold the event, and then clean it all up?   I have some advice for you to consider. Recruit colleagues, capable students, and parents to help with the event. That might be obvious but my suggestion is give each person just one task to do – this can avoid anyone feeling expected to “do it all” or wondering …

Is Your Energy Sink the Weekly Newsletter?

images by Education Graphics Group Do you want to publish a weekly communication? Parents say they appreciate it, kids love seeing their names mentioned, and it can keep everyone up to date on coming events. What can you do to keep it from taking two or more hours to write, print, and distribute each week? Focus on why you are writing a newsletter If you write about every subject, mention many students, give a detailed overview of the curriculum, AND a preview of coming events your newsletter will be L-O-N-G. It takes time to write and may not be read by parents. Define the purpose of your newsletter. Is it reminders, …

Is Your Energy Sink Grading Papers? Kids can help!

Students need timely feedback. While a student is wondering “I’m not sure about that last question” you have a great opportunity to capitalize on this interest to review answers. Tomorrow or the next day that student might not remember the assignment or the quiz. If you don’t need the information from the assignment to assess student understanding or plan activities here are a few suggestions for giving feedback quickly. Here’s your obvious choice: Project the answers or hand out answer keys. Students correct their own papers. This can be an opportunity to discuss an answer that students identify as needing clarification. Note: I usually avoid …

Is Your Energy Sink Grading Papers?

  Does it seem like there’s always papers to grade? Are there stacks of paper on your desk and a few more on the shelf? What information do you need to adjust your teaching and plan future lessons? Students need timely feedback, does it take an hour or more every day? Here are a few suggestions: Grade one assignment each day and set up the other assignments for students to grade themselves Plan ahead so you have time to grade an assignment that needs more time, like an essay Learn to quietly grade papers during a staff meeting IF your attention …

Let’s Play Memory Games!

Do your students need to practice a basic math skill? Do you want them to be more confident using that skill Would you like to send a game home so students can practice math with family members? While playing a Memory Game, students match up numbers with names, computation problems with their answers, fractions with their equivalents and much, much more! Print a set of cards and an answer key, zip both in a bag, and you have an easy to store game that’s an excellent way to spend a few minutes in class, review an important skill, or reward carefully completed work. When you create games …

Need Dice for a Game?

How is it possible I can buy dice and somehow they evaporate over time? I know it’s rare for a solid to sublimate into a gas, but every June I end up with far fewer dice than I had in September. And the ones I have can be in pretty bad shape. I hesitate to send dice home with math games because I know they don’t always come back to school. Many of my math games require dice so here’s my suggestion for you: use a six sided pencil! A student sharpens a pencil until it’s too short to sharpen. Do you …

Grade It Quickly!

No teacher wants a stack of papers on the desk waiting to be graded days after the assignment or assessment was given. Students need feedback and you need information to guide you as you plan the next lesson. One simple suggestion – make a pattern in the answers! Have students grade their own papers. Because you have a pattern in the answers – they won’t know it but you will – you can walk around checking answers as students volunteer the correct answers for the assessments.   Here’s a couple of examples. In my TPT products for introducing frogs, birds, bugs, whales, …

Need Even More Time for Science?

Who doesn’t need more time? There are many ways to integrate science and writing. Obviously, read and answer questions. OK, describe how to do an experiment and write an analysis of the results. Sure, but can science be used to encourage reluctant writers? You bet it can! I’ve had more than one student tell me they’re working to be better at math and writing because that’s what scientists do. Some students respond when there’s a reason to write clearly and solve math problems correctly. Here’s a few suggestions for integrating writing and science: Writing Clear Directions for making a peanut butter and …

Can’t Read Their Handwriting?

So you have an alphabet on the wall or on their desks. You just can’t quite read their handwriting. Consider having students practice their handwriting skills a few minutes every day while you walk around the room checking their posture, how they hold their pencils, and if they’re forming their letters correctly. More than a few minutes and your students tend to lose interest in working carefully. This can result in sloppy handwriting habits. I explain it by comparing practicing good handwriting to practicing a sport or a musical instrument. Do it well or not at all. I also try to emphasize that people …