Category: back to school

    14 Formative Assessment Strategies

                    It caused some controversy in a meeting when I said I was never surprised by test/quiz scores. Some teachers tried to hide their smirks, others just stared. No, I am not psychic, I just use a variety of formative assessment strategies to gauge learning during and after the lesson.                   There was also some debate about the definitions of formative assessment. Many of us put it in the grade book, others said that formative assessment is just a tool and never goes in the grade book.  But since I use formative assessment techniques daily, many will go in […]

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    Effective Student Goal Setting

    Goal setting is one of the activities I use in January when students return to school after the winter break. It begins a new semester and gives us a fresh start. In the past, I used the goal setting tools provided by the administration. But last year, after my winter reading, I realized students need more than to just “set goals”. Students need strategies to help implement and follow up on goals as well. It was so successful that we are going to continue with this practice. Students Need More than Goal Setting In a study of Harvard MBAs, it […]

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    Improve Your Teaching with a Morning Routine

    I love mornings even though I am NOT a morning person.  Have you ever had a bad teaching day?  An unpleasant parent conference?  A student who had a meltdown?  A coworker who had a meltdown?  Maybe YOU had a meltdown? Well, every new day is a fresh start—it’s a do-over for adults. And we all need that.  How you start your day, the routine that begins the day has a big impact on the rest of it. Think of it as setting the tone for your entire day. That’s why making over your morning is so important. I’m sure you’ve […]

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    8 Ideas to Deal with Absent Students

    Absent students create additional thought and organization in every classroom. Each school and district have district policies on dealing with missing work due to absences. In my district the students are allowed number of absences plus one to make up missing work, however, this is not a hard rule.  If a parent requests missing work, the teacher is expected to provide it even if this consists of the entire semester. Students with accommodations are allowed to turn in work “late” and last year I was required to provide 18 weeks of missing work. It was never completed and turned it. […]

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    Why I Refuse to Assign Homework This Year

    As a math teacher, I am expected to assign homework.  After all, math requires practice.    I can liken that practice (in my mind)  to a Olympic champion practicing the balance beam hours daily to perfect that one skill.  The problem is—my students are not Olympic champions or even Olympic hopefuls.  They have no interest in the balance beam or balancing equations. None. This year I am teaching what is commonly referred to as Repeat Algebra. I have 10thand 11th graders who have not passes Algebra and therefore are not on track for graduation. Let’s be honest, they have seen this same material […]

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    5 Tips for Successful Parent Conferences

    I remember as a new teacher looking forward to parent conferences, and parent calls home, and parent visits, etc.  Yes, I was a typical, over the top, optimistic new teacher.  That did not last long. That first year taught me several things about parents, students and my role in the classroom in dealing with both.  And like all things, parents and students have changed. 1)  It Isn’t a Popularity Contest.  And if it was—you lose.  Parents, guardians, family always chose the child.  It doesn’t matter what the child is doing in your classroom, the child is right.  Even if  the […]

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    7 Ideas to Increase Student Motivation

    This year I am teaching Algebra I to students who have already failed (some more than 3 or 4 times).  I teach it differently to these students because they have already seen it before.   They think there is nothing new in math.  They are wrong.  Here are some ways I get these bored students interested in math again. 1) Tell a good story. I can get really worked up about girls having the right to study math and be really good at it.   Did you know that Pythagoreas (father of the Pythagorean Theorem) had a secret society and allowed both […]

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    Unsolicited Advice for New Teachers (or how not to make the same mistakes I did)

    All of us began as new teachers so every teacher has stories that will curl the hair of even the baldest person. And despite all the advice new teachers are given—most of it unsolicited-New teachers will have their own stories by their fifth year.  I have been a coach/support provider for the last 10 years, helping teachers who are in their first two years of teaching avoid some of the obvious pitfalls that all of us have experienced.  1) Ask More Questions You are not going to know everything, so you need to ask questions.  Asking questions does not imply […]

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    6 Musts to Starting a New School Year

    Starting the school year is exciting.  It is also stressful.  I understand the student anxiety really well because I have the same fears: “What if no one likes me”, “What happens if I am bullied”, “What if I don’t know anyone”.  Yes, I have those same thoughts and I have been in school—for one reason or another- for over half my life. So if I am still stressed and worried at my age, imagine how young students feel—whether you have elementary students or high school. Here are 6 ways to get the year started successfully and if you are struggling  […]

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    3 Tips for First Day of School

    The first day of school is coming.  Ok, it’s still a while away, but I want to do some different things this year and it begins with the first day.  Three ideas beginning the first day that will change the entire year. Do the Unexpected 1.  Don’t read rules/syllabus the first day. Unless you are at the elementary level– I know adminstration expects this.  Students expect this.  Even parents expect this.  So I guess that’s why I’ve decided against it.  I like to do the unexpected. Look at it this way:  You have just met someone on an important interview […]

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