Create Your Own Workbooks?

Print Workbooks
Don’t make copies, print workbooks.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed, this image caught my attention. Yes, you read that right, “Don’t make copies, make workbooks. Get your curriculum professionally printed for less” This made me sad, depressed, and horrified.

Disclaimer: This is a local business and they do great, quality work. This is NOT against the printing company. They are doing what businesses do. They are not ‘in the business’ of education; that’s you and me.

So what’s wrong with this? Well for starters, a worksheet is a worksheet whether in a booklet form or not. Secondly, worksheets are boring and nicknames ‘shut up sheets’ for a reason. And since this whole thing called education is up to you and me, let’s make it better! Do you enjoy filling out paperwork? Yeah, me neither! So imagine how students feel. I know, your thinking, “But they need practice!” And I agree. But how about making it more engaging and interesting. For example, in 5th Grade, students need to find equivalent fractions. Now, I can either have them do DOK level 1 work via a worksheet – 3/6 = ?/2 OR have them manipulate fraction tiles to discover, and record, all the fractions that equal 1/2. Which would you rather do? Okay, so you might not have fraction tiles, right? But what if instead of printing worksheets, your district took that money and bought manipulatives? It’s all about where the district chooses to spend its money.

So while if I want something printed, I prefer going locally and will use this company. However, I implore schools to think differently. Let’s get away from worksheets and workbooks!

First Day

Start Off Positive

We’ve all heard this, but what does it really mean? Yes, we all greet our students at the door and welcome them with a smile on our faces. Many of us have ‘fun’ activities planned in order acclimate our new students to our ways, rules, expectations, and personality. How many of us bust out the technology on the first day? How many of us have students creating something meaningful the first day?

Here’s what we did

  • Wrote out all expectations (learning goals, personal goals) on sticky notes and posted them around the classroom. As a group, we read them and talked about them. What I think I will do next year: write these expectations on a Google Form, take their answers and create a word cloud using abcya, wordle, tagxedo, or tagul (my personal favorite).
  • Paper Bag 5 ‘W’s – I wish I could site this, as it wasn’t my idea. I read it online somewhere. The idea is to give each student a paper bag with 5 items in it (I put in a pencil, eraser, Hershey Hug, mini candy, and a Smartee). Students answer the 5 W questions (Who, What, When, Where, Why). They then take the bag home, put in 5 items that represent them, and present it in class the next day. A bonus was, I was able to see the quality of their writing in a low-risk setting.
  • Students also worked together in the Marshmallow Challenge. I modified it to fit my needs. Students used spaghetti, mini marshmallows and 4 large marshmallows. I was able to see which groups/individuals communicated, collaborated, planned, thought out, and were innovative.
  • Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 2.41.29 PMFinally, each student created a Voki to tell me a little bit about themselves. This was a fun way for students to introduce themselves to me. They got to use technology, create something meaningful, and were able to view it online (and show their families). Here is my class and the other class (Mrs. Pursley).

This was a great way to begin the school year! We just finished our second week, and things are going GREAT. I am blessed with an amazing group of students. This may be the best year yet (and that’s saying something as this is my 20th year teaching).

Spring Cleaning

The things you find when you start cleaning house. This weekend I had had enough of my desk, in my home office. It was getting out of control! As I was sifting through everything, I ran across an article about something I started in October of 2008. I was ‘Skyping’ in the classroom before it was trendy.

I had to reread the article to remind myself of some of the details. The basics were that another teacher in the district (at another site) and I video chatted – well, our students did. I had gone to a meeting at our county office of education and gotten the idea from something I had seen there. We used Apple products – what our district invested in at the time – and iChat to communicate. We began with a closed network.

We had a great time that year. We began by focusing on speaking and listening skills, as many of our students were second language learners. We ‘met’ most Wednesdays to talk and share. At the end of the year, we met at a local non-profit art gallery. They were kind enough to let us use their backyard space for a picnic and gathering.

I love when spring cleaning results in such a treasure!