Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet and Greet with Secondary Sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers

Did you know that Teachers Pay Teachers has resources for teachers of all levels and all subjects?  The secondary community is growing on the site and I hope that you've checked it out.  But, just in case you haven't I want you to know that: 

The very talented Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, and Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy from Teachers Pay Teachers have compiled 3 FREE Meet and Teach e-books profiling SECONDARY teacher-authors and sharing print-and-teach resources from 25 TpT stores in each e-book.  The e-books center around ELA, Math & Science, and Humanities (Social Studies, Art, Foreign Language, and more ELA).  In them you'll find a 'meet' page completed by each seller that includes responses to 5 prompts.  You'll get to learn a bit about each seller like their favorite book or things that make them happy.  Then, each seller provided you with a 1-page resource that you can use in your classroom tomorrow.  These e-books are filled with awesome teachers, little insights into each sellers' life, and resources that are easy to implement in your classroom.  They're pretty amazing.  Of course, you don't have to take my word for it, you can find them here:

Download each free e-book and you'll get a chance to meet and teach resources from these teacher-authors: 

An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Quest for Organization: My Lesson Plan Book

I've written before about the challenges of preparing for a semester of teaching at the college level.  Deciding what topic to cover and what readings to assign for every single class meeting of a 10, 14, or 16 week course is challenging.  It took a few tries, but I've finally come up with a system that works well for me.

First, I decide what papers my students are going to write and approximately how long I want to spend on each of those units.  I always make sure my weeks add up to the appropriate number for that semester.  I assign each unit several chapters from the book that I think will correspond with the learning objectives.

Secondly, I take a blank notebook.  70 pages is more than enough.  I then use different color post-it notes to mark the days of my classes.  Thus far I've been lucky that they are all on the same days of the week.  I put my earliest class at the top of the page.  Each day the class meets gets its own post-it note.  Now I can start filling in starting with Day 1.

I almost always start with a syllabus review, diagnostic writing assignment, and a presentation on the rhetorical situation.  Depending on whether or not it is a 50 minute, 75 minute, or 90 minute session I may also add a syllabus quiz, or take away the presentation.  I slowly fill in which chapter or topic I want to cover each session, which journal entry the class will be doing, and any major due dates.  I try to mark due dates with a different colored post-it so I can try to keep papers due on different days for different classes.  This helps a lot when it comes to grading!

Why do I use post its?  There are several reasons:
1.  They are colorful
2.  I can remove them easily if I really mess up.
3.  If I really wanted to I could reuse them for the next semester by moving them onto a different date.

This method is extremely useful to me.  Now, when I am preparing for a class or the week I open to that week in particular and can see quickly what I want to cover.  I can then fill in details about in-class activities and homework as I see fit.  It has really helped me stay organized.  If I change something I can easily write it in so I can look back to it for future classes.

How do you keep organized?  Does it come naturally to you or do you struggle with it?

*I am not affiliated with National Heritage Academies, I just had their post it notes.*

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Assessing Writing: The Diagnostic Essay

When teaching writing you really never know what you're going to get.  This is true at any level!

Depending on a student's background and his or her general aptitude for the subject you can have many different levels of capability within your classroom.  So how can a teacher figure out what to tackle first?  Do you tackle specific grammar issues?  Organization?  Responding to a prompt?

I like to have my students write a diagnostic essay the first day or two of class.  This is an ungraded assignment that they complete in class.  This way I know it is truly what they know and not what their parents, sibling, or friend knows.  I keep the prompts generic- and typically have my students respond to a famous quote.

I don't include a length requirement but do use the term "essay."  It is always interesting to me to see how much a student chooses to write.  I find these essays quite informative.

For teachers in the 7-12 realm, you may want to be able to follow up for data purposes and give a similar prompt around winter break and another at the end of the year.

Would you be interested in a ready made set of 5 diagnostic essay prompts with lined paper?  I created a set on Teachers Pay Teachers- with 5 prompts you can choose to give multiple ones to one class, use different ones different times during the year, or give each class period a different one (I know reading the same thing over and over can get boring!).  It's really a steal and can be printed or projected easily!  I also provided a checklist that can be used for simple scoring.

Thanks for Reading!