Most of you are probably in survival mode just trying to get through December. Christmas break is coming. I promise! But in the meantime, let me make your life a little less stressful. I just finished my Christmas Party Pack a few days ago, and I am super excited about it. It’s big! Like over 100 pages big. There is way more in it than you can do within the typical hour long party, so you have plenty to choose from. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the things in the pack.
First off, it has this cute Christmas charades game. The kids bust up laughing watching each other try to act things out. There are over 30 cards so each of your students can have a turn. And, it requires almost no prep on your part. How great is that??
This next activity is my favorite because it teaches students about giving. There are 3 Christmas cards that your students can decorate and write in. I had my students make Christmas cards for a nursing home for veterans. I was a little worried that my students might complain about doing this during our Christmas party, but my students LOVED doing it. They wrote some really cute things, and it made me so happy to see them taking time during their party to serve others. If you have time, taking your class on a mini field trip to the nursing home to drop them off would be super fun, but if you don’t, you can just drop them off to the receptionist there.
At the end of each class party that I had, I always gave my students some small gift. I am in love with the student gifts in this pack. It is by far my favorite, plus it’s incredibly easy. All you have to do is buy a Hershey’s chocolate bar for each student in your class, print out the candy wrappers that are in this pack, cut them out, and wrap them around the chocolate bars.
There is so much more included in this pack (remember this was just a sneak peek), so head on over to my store to check it out, and save yourself some stress.
Being a teacher can be stressful. Really stressful. I caught myself thinking, “Why did I get myself into this??” on a regular basis. But, because Thanksgiving is just around the corner (no, it's not time to put up the tree yet), I decided to list some of the things that are great about being a teacher. Because there are lots.
If you are feeling really down about teaching, just remember that there are so many good things about it. You have the most important job in the world; you are preparing the future.
Share what you are grateful for in the comments.
It’s Friday!! You made it through Halloween on a Monday. Hopefully you still have your hair. I know that all of you have had a long week, so I will keep this post short and sweet.
When I was teaching, I always loved to hear about new technology that I could use in my class, so I wanted to tell you about a FREE resource that your students will LOVE. It’s called Kahoot!. If you haven’t heard about it or used it before, read on. If you have, stop reading and take a break!
Kahoot! is a website that turns your multiple choice questions into a fun, competitive quiz game. You can add videos and pictures to the questions, and you get to pick the time limit for students to answer the questions. You project the question, read the question aloud, and then the students compete against each other as they answer the questions on a tablet or computer. They earn points for being correct and for how quickly they respond. The top scorers show up on a leader board at the end of each question.
You can also use Kahoot! for discussions and surveys to draw your students into a lesson. After you finish with a quiz, you can share your quiz with others. Or, if you are in a rush, you can search for quizzes that others have made.
I love Kahoot!. It is fun for all ages. I have even played it at a professional development, and my coworkers and I had so much fun. It is great for practice at the end of a lesson or for a review game at the end of a unit.
This is such a fun and engaging resource. So, if you are looking for something new to try in your class, check out Kahoot!.
If you are a teacher, or if you were ever in elementary school, you have probably heard of the game 4 corners (If you don’t know what it is, don’t worry; I’ll explain). Usually, 4 corners is used as an easy indoor recess when you get that dreaded announcement over the intercom that it has somehow snowed 10 feet and you’ll have to keep your students inside. And, in my class because I had to do indoor recess once every day, I would use 4 corners frequently. However, I also used it to teach, and I’ll show you how.
4 corners is a great way to get your students moving and engaged without them even realizing that they are learning. You can use it as a practice game, or you can use it to get students’ opinions, or even as a fun way to introduce debates. Here is how to use it:
The great thing about this activity is that not only is it very engaging, but it is so easy to change up. You can change it to 2, or even 3 corners to fit your multiple choice questions. You can even let students who are behaving well decide how to travel to the corners, such as skip, crab walk, etc.
You can also make it a competition if you want. Simply have students sit down if they get the answer wrong. They can still answer the questions, just they can’t leave their desk. The last one standing wins. Or, if you don’t want to compete, just let your students keep playing even if they get the answer wrong.
Now you might be thinking, “Oh, well my students will just change their answers when they see other people’s answers.” Or maybe, “My students will make fun of students that get the answer wrong.” But, if you establish clear rules the first time, you won’t have these issues. So here are the expectations I set with my students.
Teaching these simple expectations at the beginning will save you in the long run. Help your students to understand that this activity is a privilege. And if you students don’t follow the expectations, stop. Showing them that you expect them to follow the rules is much more important than trying to be a “fun” teacher and letting them do the activity anyway.
So, as you can see, this is so easy to use for any subject. If you try this in your class, let me know how it works for you.
“It’s so much easier to manage students when they are at the rug.” I’ve overheard this several times in the workroom and at professional developments, but I think that this is only partially true. So, I wanted to take some time to address this.
Yes, there are some advantages to having your students at the class rug. They are all in one spot, you can easily see them, and they don’t have anything with them to distract them.
But, there are also downsides to it. It’s more difficult to move around and use proximity when the students are sitting so close together. And, it doesn’t work well if you need the students to be doing any writing. You have to have the students get their pencils and clip boards, and then wait for those students who forget to awkwardly climb over their peers and spend forever digging through their desk trying to find their pencil.
I would say that it is easier to manage students when they are at the rug for some types of instruction. But, for other times it is just easier to have them at their desks. Don't limit yourself by only teaching at the rug! You can teach your students wherever they are sitting if you just manage them correctly. So, if you are a teacher who avoids having your students stay at their desks while you instruct them, or if have your students stay at their desks but they are out of control, read on.
This first tip I have to credit to my amazing coworker who shared this idea with me. It saved my life! Plus, it’s as simple as having your students change the way their chairs face. All you need to do is teach your students these 2 chair positions. (Note: This will not work for all seating arrangements. This is meant for arrangements in which the desks aren’t facing the front of the classroom, such as some table group arrangements.)
The first chair position is called learning position. This means having your students turn their chairs and their bodies to face the front of the class, folding their arms, and looking at you. (If you are confused, don't worry. I thought of you and included a diagram to show what in the world I am talking about.) If you have a compatible seating arrangement, this means that your students will have their desk to the side of them. This helps to discourage students from playing with anything because they can’t hide it as easily, plus it is now easy for you to see when their arms aren’t folded. (If you have a student who still plays with things in their desk, turn their desk around so that the desk opening isn’t facing them anymore.) It also makes it so none of the students are facing each other, so they are less likely to talk. Have your students turn into learning position whenever you are instructing them and they don’t need to be writing or doing anything they need a hard surface for at the moment.
If you need your students to be able to write during your instruction, then simply have them turn into the second position, which is called working position. All this means is that the students turn out of learning position to face their desk again.
This next tip works no matter your seating arrangement, and it is essential to managing your students throughout the day, but especially when they are at their desks. Proximity. I know that you have probably heard this term hundreds of times, but it is key to managing your students when you instruct them at their desks. Walk around the classroom while you instruct. This keeps the kids on their toes because they don’t know when you will walk by them. So, if you notice a student misbehaving, simply walk over to their desk and instruct the class from there. The students won’t think anything of it, but most of the time it corrects their behavior.
Lastly, I highly recommend having a table group or row management system. So, if you have your students sitting in table groups or rows, reward the tables that are following directions while you instruct them. It can be as simple as giving them points and then giving a reward to the first table group to get to a certain amount of points.
These are just a few ways to help manage your students at their desks, but I know that you fabulous teachers have so many more ideas. If you do, please share your wisdom with all of us and comment below!
Hi! I'm Mackenzie. Teacher, wife, and Washingtonian. Check out my blog to get ideas and products for your class.
© Mackenzie Allen 2016.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.