Showing posts from June, 2014

Creating Writers in the Classroom

Sir Francis Bacon wrote, "Reading maketh a full man, conversation a ready man, and writing an exact man." As teachers, we want our students to be full, ready, and exact. But how do we do it without poking our eyeballs out with our red pen? Writing is not like other subjects where there is one correct answer. Writing requires that students look inside themselves for the answer, which most students are reluctant to do. Writing is both abstract and concrete; it is subjective and up to interpretation.

So how do we as teachers instill a culture of writing in our classrooms?

First, we must be writers ourselves. We need to know what it feels like to "have nothing to say." We should be able to describe our own process of sitting before a blank page and composing essays and stories from words. Students need to understand our passion and true belief that the pen is mightier than the sword. Teachers should regularly share their writing with students. Parents expect their chil…

Procedures and Routines for the Classroom

Classroom Rules are the first thing that you want to establish with your students; the second item on the agenda should be your classroom procedures. If your classroom procedures are clear and organized, you will cut down on the number of misbehaviors and classroom disruptions. Many teachers confuse procedures and routines with classroom rules, but they are actually different beasts that must be tackled in the first few days of school.

Effective teachers think about what procedures they want to see become routines and prepare to teach them just like they do any other lesson throughout the year.

Here are some procedures that you need to consider:

Entering the classroomBeginning classDismissal at the end of the periodTransitions between activitiesObtaining supplies and materialsHeading on papersTurning in homeworkSharpening pencilsRestroom passesAsking questionsFinishing work earlyPassing in papersFinding make-up work after being absentMoving into cooperative groupsFire drills and other …

Developing Your Classroom Rules

A classroom discipline plan (aka rules and consequences) is a primary hallmark of any effective teacher's classroom management system. You can't teach, and they can't learn if your classroom is chaotic. The classroom is not a home; it is a structured environment where children and students each have a role to play. Students want to know what to expect from you if their behavior does not meet your expectatations.
So how do you know what rules are good rules and what rules aren't. First of all, rules need to be observable. "Keep your hands and feet to yourself" is observable. "Be kind to one another" is not observable. Secondly, your rules need to be ones that you really are going to enforce. For example, when I first began teaching I had a rule that said, "You must bring all materials to class everyday." What I didn't know was that was a rule that I just wasn't going to enforce. I supplied pencils and paper for those who didn't…

A Teacher's Summer Reads

My name is Melissa, and I'm addicted to books.  I've always said that I have the greatest job on earth--I get to do what I love every day: read and write.

So what am I curling up with this summer? Here is my bucket list for this summer:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster child living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany.  She scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist--books.  With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt is the author's memoir of growing up in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. From his alchoholic father, he learns the power of a good story.

The Paper Chase by John Jay Osborn, Jr. centers around Hart, a young law student from Minnesota who attends Harvard Law School and becomes ob…

Keeping Teenagers From Being Bored in the Summer

As a teacher and a mother of two teenagers, one in high school and one who has just completed her first year of college, I know how hard the summer can be with bored teenagers.  Short of kicking them out and telling them to get a job, what can you do to keep your teens from sleeping late, playing video games, and eating junk food all day?  Well, I don't have the definitive answer; if I did, they would've made me Queen of Teens a long time ago.

Here are some ideas that I've used in the past few years and still pull out occasionally if I see some yucky teen habits forming:

When my children were little people and out for the summer, I made sure that they had a few scheduled activities each week to keep them busy.  We'd visit the city park early in the morning and walk the hiking trails.  We'd go to story time at the local library at least once a week, and the local science museum (not free, but we purchased an inexpensive family pass for the summer) was a wonderful …