SOL Review Fun
Posted by newbie-tchr at 9:10 pm in students, Web finds that work

Hard to believe, but it’s already that time of the year – total review for the SOL’s and then 1 month of teaching whatever I want before summer. While the review hasn’t been the most exhilarating thing in the world to plan, it’s something that has to be done. (especially since I’m trying to snag this job for next year – wanna look good!)

The biggest dilemma thus far has been that all of the computers are reserved for the tests – which means that all those cool online resources are totally unusable in my classroom. Now I have managed to get around it with some creativity, by using my own laptop and a loaner from the library – but it is a far cry from the many activities I had planned with online flashcards, games, review sites & the like.

The one site I’ve managed to use on both my own and the loaner has been, which is free for most parts of the site. Only a few review games require a password, but I highly recommend navigating it a bit to see if there are any public review games you could utilize in your classroom.  To accommodate the lack of technology, my 7th graders have been doing a lot of paper copies of review sheets…a lot. Going just two weeks with computers has reminded me how much I take them for granted in the classroom – and how much I hate the copy room. (Why is everything always broken in there? Are paper jams REALLY supposed to happen that much?)

Tuesday is the big day though, and I’m really anxious for the kids to do well. Granted I’ve only been in this longterm subbing position for two and half months, but in a way I think it reflects upon me – and there’s no doubt I want to look like a viable candidate for the job. Fingers crossed that the week of review we’ve been working on helps, and the kids ace it.

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Wrapping up Unit 1
Posted by newbie-tchr at 7:09 pm in They LEARNED!, Web finds that work

This week will wrap up our first unit in “Foundations of American Government,” and I thought I’d quickly share some really great resources I found online.First is this video from Soomo Publishing.The video is a youtube video so if your school system filters youtube, you’ll need to figure out a way to rip it at home and bring it on a flash drive.

I can not speak more highly of this video. It was a great way to hook all the kids into the Declaration of Independence, and led to a great conversation afterwards as to why it was “too late” for the king to apologize to the colonists. Every single kid loved it, and a few kids came up afterwards and asked if we could watch more of these.

The other awesome site that I found was this Constitutional Convention game. I used this as a learning center, and created graphic organizer for the kids so that as they went through and played the game they were able to catch the valuable information.

Lastly were some primary sources I found from this collection from the Library of Congress. I selected 6 primary sources from this site, and assigned students into 6 corresponding groups. Each group was assigned a different primary source and had to analyze it using APPARTS. (click here for info on that!) The groups had to fill out an APPARTS graphic organizer and then present short summaries to their classmates. In addition to summaries, student groups also had to present an argument as to how their source best showed how the Continental Congress had global effects. After all the groups had presented, the class took a vote as to which primary source was best. Great way to incorporate primary sources and make it fun!

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This past week was my first time in my student teaching placement, and was full of classroom decorating (so fun), syllabus planning and lots, and lots, of teacher workshops. The school district I’m in has embraced what they call “21st Century Teaching,” aka catching up in technology and incorporating it in the classroom. (Loved it, great idea – but I do think that if I heard wiki one more time I would have poked my eye out.) The workshops they put on were amazingly awesome, and I have to admit that they were far from what I expected. The teachers in my team had spent hours telling me funny, but true, stories of how bad workshops in years past had been, and even they were surprised to see what the district had put together.

For the most part, the presentations and workshops were put on by two very respected companies, November Learning and Stratalogica. The speaker, Alan November, was both practical and motivating – he even had the teachers try out a lot of the tools he was discussing during his presentation. The workshops preceding were equally informative, and I’ll include links to some of the tools he offered at the bottom of this post. Take one, pass it on:)

Beyond my own infatuation with the workshops, there were two different reactions to this I noticed: half the faculty was really excited, the other half looked ready to die. I know that technology can be a difficult thing to learn – my mom still calls me asking how to turn the DVD player on. I’ve been out of the house for 5 years and am 3,000 miles away. Has she stopped calling? No. Why learn how to turn it on when someone else can do it for you – even if it’s over the phone? So from personal experience with my lovely momma, I get it. What surprised me was that when it came time to pick workshops, all the panic-strickened faculty avoided the technology options like the plague. Why is it that when presented with an opportunity to learn about the clearly unknown, these people were the first to bail? In all seriousness, if you know the answer – don’t hesitate to comment, I’m still curious.

The second thing noticed was more about how the process of learning to be a teacher has changed, thanks to technology. Only a 5-6 years removed from the eldest kids we’re teaching, my cohort of fellow student teachers probably qualify in that category of “21st century learners.” In grad school, there is a large focus on incorporating technology – we even had to take a “Teaching with technology” class to graduate. Technology is incorporated in almost every class, using SMARTboards to teach, online assessments and collaboration, even clickers in class for formative assessments. Technology has seeped into teacher education, making it impossible for new teachers such as myself to picture educating students without it. Taking into consideration the reaction of some of the teachers in the field to technology – it will definitely be an interesting dynamic to watch.

For those curious, here are some of the resources given to us during this week – I highly recommend checking them out and seeing if you can use them in your classroom!

  1. – great way to use kid’s obsession with cell phones to your advantage!

  2. Titan Pad – This is great for chats with large groups of people, but be careful – without oversight, can lead to a lot of off topic discussions. This review from TeachersFirst describes it in greater detail.

  3. PrimaryPad – same thing as Titanpad but allows drawing!

  4. Khan Academy – endless resources, the link leads to another review from TeachersFirst

  5. Itunes U – in your Itunes store, this resource is towards the bottom of the page and hosts thousands of podcasts and any and all academic subjects.

  6. Maps of War – great for us History teachers!

  7. Student News Action – a really great place to find resources from all over the world on a variety of topics


Take One. Pass it on.