Sunday, March 23, 2014

Going Digital

One of my classes that just started up is a blended course.  50% of the instruction is online and 50% is in person.  I'm still trying to figure out the best way to set this up but so far I've...

Put most lecture materials/readings online with quizzes and summarization assignments.
Required students to set up Google Drive.

I'm the most excited about the Google Drive aspect!  In my standard face to face classes we do a lot of peer editing and revising so Google is solving that problem for me.  Each student has to create two folders.  1.  A turn in folder shared with me for their final products and 2. a drafts folder shared with 3 other students and me that is for their work in progress.

What will be awesome to see is the process they use to write.  Google tracks all revisions and allows others to comment on the work.  I think this will prove very useful to them.

Hopefully it all goes smoothly!

Have you used Google Drive in the classroom?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Finding Success on TPT

I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Teachers Pay Teachers, not only as a seller, but as a buyer as well.  In fact I started just as a buyer.  If you're like me, you've probably created from scratch lessons, worksheets, tests, and or quizzes for your classes.  Why not share your expertise with others?

If you're ready to start your own side business then take a look at these tips.  I'm by no means a top seller (yet) but I've learned a lot and there are a few things that I think I should have done in order to see success faster and to feel less frustrated.

Step 1:  Sign up as seller then READ THE FORUMS!  Don't post anything yet to sell.  This step is crucial because you'll learn so much.  This way you won't fall into the traps lots of first time sellers do!
Here's the link.  Go now, I'll wait.

Step 2: Prepare your products.  Here's a huge tip: Make everything in PowerPoint or in a design software.  This allows you to move things around much more easily than Word.  When they're done, save as a PDF.  Find out how to lock your PDFs.  There are great tutorials out there for Macs and PCs.

Step 3: WAIT to post until you have 5 or more products ready!  I wish I'd done this.  More products means you're more likely to sell.  It also helps your store look more established.  You might want to have a few on deck that you can upload once a week or so- this keeps your store active, and once you have followers they will get an email telling them you have new products so they are more likely to come back!

Step 4: Right away start a Pinterest account (business) and a Facebook page for your store.  If possible also start a blog (maybe start that even earlier) again you're getting your name and your products out there. (But make sure your blog has content that is unrelated to your products as well.  I hope I'm getting better with that.)

Step 5:  Learn the importance of hyperlinks and how to include them in your product descriptions.

General tips:

  • Create nice covers for your products.  
  • Free product (you must have one) should be high quality but just a sample of a larger product.  Maybe 1-2 pages of a multi-page unit.
  • Upgrade to Premium as soon as you sell 1-3 products.  You will make so much more money!  I waited till I'd made $60 but I'd have made that much way faster if I'd already upgraded.
  • Pin your products- but don't be obnoxious about it.
  • DO NOT GIVE UP.  It took me a LONG time to be successful but then again, I didn't know these tips!  You will get what you give out of this.  
  • There is a lot more to learn so again, GO TO THE FORUMS.
Have you signed up yet?  SIGN UP HERE!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Decorating a high school or college classroom

One of the things I miss while teaching at the college level is having my own classroom to decorate!  I really enjoy decorating but found it difficult my first year of teaching because most classroom decorations are very elementary in appearance!

I didn't want to decorate in bright primary colors and with cartoons.  I had a feeling that wouldn't jive with my students so I started searching for products that were academically appropriate AND would appeal to the aesthetic tastes of high school students.

Here are some of the products I found.  I love them, and students have responded really well.

Literary Techniques Educational Poster Series: Alliteration, Anthropomorphism, Personification, Hyperbole, Repetition, Onomatopoeia, Simile, Imagery, Metaphor and Foreshadowing

Then, using the general colors found in the posters up top I found this magnetic border to use on my whiteboard to help separate it out for my "I Can" statements, the daily agenda, and homework.
Learning Resources Magnaborders Circles

I used that color scheme as much as possible in my classroom and it was still bright and fun but didn't feel like a little kid room.  Now, why didn't I take any pictures?!

What do you do to decorate your room for older students?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 7, 2014

YouTube Channels to Follow for your Students!

I love YouTube in the classroom.  Several of my college students actually just told me that like how I use videos to enhance my lessons because it makes it more fun!  (I just use the same videos I do in high school.)  It does mix things up and presents information in a new way.

Here's my list of my top choices for YouTube videos.


Crash Course by Hank and John Green is absolutely one of my favorites.  On this channel, "John Green teaches you US History and Hank Green teaches you Chemistry. Check out the playlists for past courses in World History, Biology, Literature, and Ecology."  They are SO SMART and super engaging.  I love how fast moving they go and the quirky nature of it all.  Here's one of my favorites:

Thug Notes examines classic literature with an urban flair.  I will caution that sometimes the language is a little rough- but I'd be comfortable in most areas using it in high school.  Definitely in college. From their channel: "Yo, what's good? Thug Notes is yo main hookup for classical literature summary and analysis. Maybe you've read the Cliffs Notes. Maybe you even read the book. But you ain't know sh*t until you watched the Thug Notes, homie."  What I really appreciate about these videos is the quality analysis at the end!  He really does look at themes and motifs which is really important!  Here's my favorite: 

Flocabulary  has videos about lots of different topics.  To get the whole library you have to have a paid subscription to their website, but they do offer quite a bit for free on YouTube.  They describe their website as being, "an online library of songs, videos and activities for grades K-12. Hundreds of thousands of teachers use Flocabulary to supplement their instruction and engage students. Our team of artists and educators is not only committed to raising test scores, but also to fostering a love of learning in every child."  I enjoyed this one: 

Individual Videos

Here are some individual videos that I have used with success in the classroom, or plan on using soon!

I like how this covers many devices with real world examples.  I wish there was a slightly different one for Personification though.

This is the History of English in 10 minutes.  It's awesome, but definitely high school or college level.  VERY informative though.

Cute video that discusses some of my pet peeve grammar issues!

And, last but certainly not least, Kid President's Pep Talk for teachers and students!  I love this kid, and all his videos are great but this one is extra special.

What videos do you love?  Check out my post about the videos: "Pigeon:Impossible" and "The Passenger."

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Writing With My Students

My second semester first year writing students at the local community college are starting a new unit with me.  They are going to be doing a literary analysis of a short story.  They will be required to examine academic journal articles about the stories and or authors to respond to or to support their claims.  I've broken this assignment down into chunks:

1.  Read and annotate the short story.
2.  Conduct research and write an annotated bibliography.
3. Re-Read and annotate the story- examine concepts discussed in the research.
4. Write the paper- revise, edit, submit

I have decided to do this entire sequence along with my students to better support them in their writing. We are finishing step one and starting step two tomorrow so yesterday I read and annotated "The Cask of Amontillado" which I will be showing them in class tomorrow.

Do you do assignments with your classes? How do you use your writing to help inform your students'?

As I progress I will keep you updated!

Thanks for reading,