Thursday, March 21, 2013

Can of Question and a Camera

One piece of technology I think every teacher should invest in are flip cameras. They literally can serve a great purpose in the classroom and save so much time when it comes to individual assessment. 

I have used flip camera for recording skits, interviews, conversations, or just a quick impromptu reply from my students. I think it's important to have an oral assessment with every unit. The kids need to know that they HAVE TO KNOW how to say it. Isn't that the point of being able to speak a language? 

Anyways, one activity I do which is quick and simple is I get a can (I have several of them). I got them for a 1.00 at the dollar store and I bought around 10, cut up questions pertaining to the current unit we are working on, and a put a camera in the can as well. I divide the class into groups...usually 5 to 6 groups. I tell them one person come get a can and then to scatter....some go in the hall, some in the back of the room, some in the front, etc. I tell them to record everyone pulling a question and asking the question on demand. 

Afterwards, I take up the cameras, plug them in, get my grade book and just go down the list grading oral responses right then and there. No pulling each one out in the hallway or figuring out how I am going to get to every kid. :) 

God Bless
-Brittany B. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quiet Sign means "BUSINESS"

So I teach freshmen....lovely little freshmen. I love their enthusiasm and creativity but sometimes having the freshmen separate from the HS allows them to act like well, freshmen :( 

There are certain classes where the chattiness ERKS me!!!! I am ready to teach and they are not ready to get calm, sooo.....I had to think of a way to get their attention. 

I try to be around my room but I'll be honest when I'm teaching I'm mostly around the front and the board. I have been saying for the longest time that I'm going to invest in a clicker but I always forget. 

I was so tired of teaching and having little conversations start off. I really got upset because I would spend time on these lessons and I felt like the kids were getting too chatty and sometimes it was about the content but it was just the wrong time. 

I was at the Dollar Store one day and I said a pack of attention getter signs. Now, I first thought this is too elementary but then I remembered Wait a freshmen act like elementary kids sometimes. 

Now, when I am trying to teach and the side conversations get too much or too rowdy, I hold up my "Quiet" sign...I give the kids 5 seconds and if there is still talking, I put a check beside their name on the roster. I tell the kids if they have 5 checks by the end of the week...I am calling home "ON A FRIDAY" Yes, right before your lovely weekend! 

Now, taking away points has been a controversial topic because some teachers say it's not fair to take points off their "grade" but I have in the past taken off their "participation" score. 

I have noticed though "calling home" is a much stronger punishment. This is something you will have to decide for yourself and what your district allows. 

God Bless
-Brittany B. 

Adjective Cards - Time Filler

When teaching the adjectives, there are so many fun things you can do with your kids. The kids love describing celebrities, other classmates, their parents and family, etc. 

One thing I like to do is the Adjective Cards...when there is only 3 minutes left of class or half my class leaves for a field trip...this is a fun and awesome learning activity. 

Here's how it's done:

Give every kid a flashcard. If you don't have any, tell them to use 1/2 sheet of paper. 

Have them answer these questions on their cards in this exact same order:

1. Chico o Chica (Boy or girl)
2. Pelo (Hair) - Brown, Blonde, Black, etc. (but in spanish) ;) 
3. Alto o bajo (short of tall)
4. Comico o serio (funny or serious)
5. Inteligente o estupido (intelligent or stupid)...the boys usually put "stupid" lol
6. Perozoso o ambicioso (lazy or ambitious)

and interesting thing about yourself (encourage them to make it funny but appropriate)...I have had kids who say "I like to wear one sock and dance in the rain." or "My nick name is wormy" 
The class usually gets a good laugh.

Here's how you play:

1. Have everyone stand up. The teacher stands on top of a chair (if you want) to see everyone.
2. As the teacher reads the card...if it doesn't apply to you...sit down...if so...keep standing.
3. The teacher keeps reading the cards until there is only one person standing. 

My kids LOVE this game. I keep their cards the whole year and if time, we always go to it. 

You can always do more cards for your favorite food, favorite class, favorite time of the day, favorite color, etc. This game is super flexible :)

God Bless
-Brittany B. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grading Tips and Tricks

In the teaching world, it is clear to say that we won't always get our weekends. I am guilty one too many times of going a few days in a row looking at that stack of papers hoping that they will magically grade themselves only to find my Saturday GONE by the task of getting 145 essays graded, quizzes, tests, correct writing errors, and entering participating. If ANY person says teaching is an easy takes every bone in my body not to haul off and attack them...ya know what I mean?!?! 

I'm still fairly new to this teaching "stuff" since I've only been in the teaching profession 3 years but I do know one thing about myself...I work on incentives. That's why you will always see my kids leaving with a star on their head or sugared up continuing their journey to the next teacher (Who I'm sure wants to give me 2 cents because kids are bringing their suckers into their rooms and not mine)...oops, sorry :( are a couple ideas of how to grade papers efficiently and maybe even somewhat 'ENJOY' the experience (yeah, I just said that)....


One thing that kills me is the dreaded fact KNOWING I have to be cooped up all day INSIDE reading a bunch of essays. I get tired, I say "I'm going to take a 30 minute nap" and I find myself sleeping for the next 3 hours, pushing off ANOTHER task. 

So..I leave. Yep, I pack my crap and I leave. I grab my laptop, charger (cuz the dang thing won't ever hold charge), my papers to grade, a couple nice handy dandy new pens, a pocket full of cash (COFFEE), and I'm gone. I have my selection of local cafes I go to. 

I tell myself I'm staying until X-amount of time and I sit my jolly butt down and grade. It works. It makes me feel better when I look around at the cafe and see a bunch of workaholics s like myself who are putting in their time too. 

Grab ya a coffee, plug up the laptop, get comfy, and grade. Take a friend with you if you have someone else who also partakes in this grading misery on the weekends as well.


So I'm not a procrastinator EVERY weekend...only the ones that have 2 days ;) Smart people will get that. Anyways, some week nights I have to get these dang things graded ASAP. So I assume the table cleared (no distractions), cell phone timer set, papers lined up, pen ready....GO. 

I start grading like a MAD-WOMEN. (Warning: grade the papers accurately and efficiently even though you set a timer.) Once the timer goes off...I am no longer obligated to grade ANYMORE papers for the night. I am off-duty, partner. PEACE OUT! But...usually since I get my momentum going...I end up adding 10 more minutes to the timer, and then another 7, and before I know it.....Yep, you guessed it...papers graded! It's a beautiful thing, people!


So I am as guilty as the next guy that if I get myself planted in that couch....done, finito, fin, he terminado! I am down for the night and there ain't no person going to stop designate certain nights as "work nights" the key is DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE. 

1. Get your papers ready to grade, lap top up on table, ready to grade and enter the grades. 
2. Start working around your house on your chores....straightening, laundry, cleaning, etc.
3. For every few minutes of back to the table and grade about 7 to 10 papers.....
4. Repeat and get those papers graded! 


If you get your momentum'll notice you'll get through the whole thing AND have a sparkling clean house afterwards. 

These are just some tricks that work for me!!! You guys post your ideas at the bottom. I am always up to new ideas of how to get those darn papers graded. :) 

God Bless,
Brittany B.