Showing posts from February, 2019

Teacher Tip of the Day #3: Color-Coding Your Classes

Teacher Tip #3: Use color-coding for each of your classes as a management aid. At a glance, you can find specific class stacks and digital resources.

Using Mnemonics to Teach Students to Think & Write Quickly

Roy G. Biv...Every Good Bird Does Sing...My Dear Aunt Sally...

Sound familiar? They probably do. These are examples of mnemonics we all memorized to learn key pieces of information in various subjects. And not just memorize concepts, but  they help us to remember things quickly.

If they work for art, music, and math why can't they work for learning key concepts in writing? 

They can and if your student writers are struggling with memorizing parts of any writing, then you should give mnemonics a try! 

You know those pesky timed writing tests? Yeah, me too. I feel your pain & so do our students. Regardless of which writing test your students take, if it's like the one my students take, they are required to think & write quickly to even have a chance at finishing a complete writing. Oh, and we want them to not just write & finish but to write well. 

Too much to ask? It can't be done you say? I always thought so till I started using the best old-school secret to getting…

Teacher Tip of the Day #2: Assigning Chromebooks

Teacher Tip #2: Assign Chromebooks and other devices to seats rather than students.

Student Goal-Setting Template

Growth mindset initiative has put the spotlight back on students to transform how they see themselves as learners. It is a hopeful, can-do, never-give-up attitude. One of the mechanisms that is often used, sometimes required by schools, admin, or districts, as part of a growth mindset agenda is to put responsibility back onto the student for setting yearly S.M.A.R.T. goals with clearly identifiable steps toward those big goals.

At the middle school level, you can talk and say all you want about anything, and as great as it may be, they won't think another thing about it until it's written down or recorded somewhere. This is where the STUDENT GOAL-SETTING GOOGLE SLIDE DECK TEMPLATE came into my head. The slide deck format is perfect tool because it's different from just another Google Doc that we normally use in my English writing class. And always as a teacher, my immediate thoughts were to create a template that was useful, first of all, for students to record their year…

Teacher Tip of the Day #1: Templates Folder

Today, I'm starting a new routine and collection here at I'm calling it the Teacher Tip of the Day. If you have a helpful tip you'd like to contribute and add to the collection, leave it for me in the comments or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you. What are your tips? Teacher Tip #1: Use a templates folder to quickly access frequently used forms.

Power Up Writing Speed With Power Writes

Need students to write faster? I feel ya. My students have 40-minutes on their first writing test and 90-minutes on a second one. This timed writing test runs from start to finish on a written response to a given prompt that students have not seen. I'll forego my arguments against this type of writing except to say that THIS IS NOT HOW WRITERS WRITE IN THE REAL WORLD!! Shew...I feel better just getting that out. Regardless of my objections, this is how my 8th-grade students are tested for On Demand Writing in Kentucky, and I have to do all I can to get them ready for it.

One of the things that I must do is get them to write quickly. If you are a middle school teacher, you know all too well how difficult this seemingly simple task is. Students at all grade levels, not just middle schoolers, work at the speed of a snail. Even student writers who are very speedy have difficulty thinking and writing with the time limit they are given. 

My strategy to turn slow-as-molasses students into …

Four Ways to Collect Quality Student Feedback

It seems that terms, labels, and acronyms are endless in the teaching profession. Just when you get used to the popular jargon making its rounds, new ones appear and others fade away. It's like a constant conveyor belt of "in" terms in education. Feedback is not one of those words. It is a constant in the world of education. Other words and phrases may come and go, but feedback will always be in for us.
It truly is a powerful process. At its best, feedback is purely communication between you and your students. However, most of the time feedback is used only to refer to a one way communication of information - you give your students feedback on their progress. On my agenda board in my classroom, I wrote "Feedback on Writing #2 Assignment." I stopped and realized that feedback is just as important for me as it is for my student writers. They need to hear and see my feedback on their progress as writers. I summarize the feedback I've given students on a whitebo…

Five Things I Believe

There's a post that routinely circles social media that says something like brain has 52 tabs open, none of them are responding, and I have no idea where the music is coming from...not exactly, but close enough of what I can remember anyway. I totally feel that. At any given time there are at least that many tabs, or channels as I call them sometimes, running simultaneously through my head. As teachers, this is routine. We are the masters of multitasking and multithinking (if that's not a word, it should be.) 

The tabs or channels running through my head are usually in the form of lists. Like most things in my teacher life, I have to have everything organized and in its place and to me, lists seem the most organized way to deal with constant mind clutter. So a list is how I'm organizing this first official blog post. 

This blog's focus is on teaching and learning and sharing great ideas with other teachers. On my ABOUT ME page you can read my background and a f…

Greenup County Education in Action News Program

Watch me in action! The following is a video of the interview of GC Teachers for the Greenup Beacon's segment, "Education In Action." I think I'll stick to my classroom. Cameras are not kind!!