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Engage students with the help of your interactive whiteboard!

This post was written by Erin Dye, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who tweets regularly at GreenLightLT

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Thousands of classrooms across the country now have interactive whiteboards (IWBs) at the front of the room. Many teachers use these boards the same way they once used a pull-down screen and an overhead projector: to show transparencies and presentations. But the IWB can be so much more than that. Without much change in your classroom routine, you can use the IWB as a valuable tool for classroom management.

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Boys on one side, girls on the other…

This post was written by Melissa Myers, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

I went to a Catholic high school that had only become co-ed a few years before I attended. The boy to girl ratio was not yet balanced out, and the issue of gender bias became particularly evident in my 9th grade PE class when our teacher announced, “Boys will play football, girls can walk around the track and talk.” As a competitive gymnast, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be told not to exert myself, and there were several boys who warmed the bench for the entire quarter having been dubbed too “unathletic” to participate. But no one complained because, as 14-year-olds, it was easier to just remain in our gender enclaves where we didn’t have to deal with each other, or even worse, consider identity issues. For younger students, it’s routine that they clump themselves together on playgrounds like penguins in the arctic, but this is all the more reason for teachers to aim for a more integrated classroom, uniting students rather than dividing.

Here are some ideas for how teachers can integrate and unify classrooms no matter what the gender ratios may be:

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Never give up on parent engagement — find a way to get them involved!

This post was written by Ali Hearn, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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Although it has been unintentional, I realize that my actions have led to families feeling disengaged from the school environment. This statement may cause some to be shocked, angry, or defensive — however, I believe it to be the truth (at least with regards to what I have experienced during my time as an educator). 

Beginning as early as pre-school we start inviting families to come to school-based “meetings” to discuss behavior and academics. Instead of this experience being about working together for the student, I have noticed that these meetings often feel more like a lecture for the parent, as the school team members have typically met and dialogued before this meeting and appear very confident and clear on what it is they are about to tell this parent. If a student is considered “a behavior issue” or “low performing”, these meetings will likely take place with greater frequency, longer duration, more intensity, include more unknown acronyms, and quite possibly leave the parent feeling worse than they did pre-meeting. Unfortunately what began as a well-intentioned series of meetings from the school-team and a hopeful family needing assistance, over time, can result in a tired, frustrated and disengaged family.

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The evolution of EdCamps

This post was written by Brad Currie, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who tweets regularly at BradMCurrie

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Have you ever attended an EdCamp? If the answer is no, you are missing out. On what you might ask? An innovative, sharing-based day of learning that will forever change your view on professional development. Typically held on Saturdays, educators meet up at a particular location and either present or attend sessions that focus on best practices in education. My first experience with this new type of professional development was in the summer of 2012 at EdCamp Leadership. It forever changed my view on how educators, including myself, should learn and share. 

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Adapting your teaching style

This post was written by Sarah Pottle, a ClassDojo Thought Partner image

Most of us are probably holding on to some super-fun activity that our students just love. Maybe it’s one that we’ve spent three years tweaking. As these new educational shifts encourage us to reflect on our practice we might start to think that perhaps the ratio of class time spent on an activity is not proportionate to student learning. Maybe the activity is actually more “hands-on” than “minds-on”. We may argue with ourselves that the activity is worth it when deep down we are questioning whether or not it is. Change is tough. We may say to ourselves that we’re smart, and it’s not like our intelligence is measured by our ability to change, or anything.

Except for the fact that a guy named Einstein once said, “Our intelligence is measured by our ability to change.”

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Keeping track of your online resources: well worth your time!

This post was written by Emily Dahm, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who tweets regularly at EDahmTeacher

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It may seem obvious to most that keeping track of resources you’ve found online is helpful, but it took me a long time to realize that this was something I must do in order to prevent myself from reinventing the wheel every year. Sure, I have a file cabinet stuffed to the brim with handouts and things I’ve used over the years, and I sometimes I use it when I’m looking for a specific activity, but I usually hit the internet if I’m looking for something new to try.

There are endless ways you can organize yourself to keep track of things, but this is the system that works for me.

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Avoiding the pitfalls of popular technology!

This post was written by Kelly Connolly-Hickey, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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Technology is intended to make our lives easier in the classroom. However, there can be unforeseen consequences! From social media mishaps to students who won’t get off of their smartphones, here are some ways to cope with — and avoid — the pitfalls of popular technology.

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Set your year up for success: start communicating NOW!

This post was written by Vicki Davis, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who tweets regularly at CoolCatTeacher

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Communication starts with expectations. If you start the year with a strong, clear message about you, your classroom, and your expectations you can be on track for an incredible school year. Here are four suggestions that can get your year off to a great start.

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Communicating with parents from day 1!

This post was written by Christine Flok, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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During my first year of teaching, I made the mistake of making a phone call home to discuss the negative behavior of a student in my classroom. This was within the first few weeks of school, and I received a jarring response, yet one that I learned a lot from. This student was refusing to do work, constantly disrupting the class, and often using disrespectful language to other students and to me. It came to a head one day, and I made a phone call after school to his mom. The conversation went something like this:

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Teacher-leaders going the distance

This post was written by Olivia S. Blazer, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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Research proves that children learn best from each other. Likewise, teachers learn best from each other as well. We all know that as teachers, when we teach a concept, we personally learn that same concept all over again. We internalize it, and learn it better as a result of teaching it! So why not teach each other? This encourages positive growth for all involved parties.

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