Tips on how to RECHARGE your September Classroom Batteries!

Today has served as a reflective day after recently finishing a wonderful book titled, Teach like a Pirate by David Burgess. Recommended to me by a fellow educator and after seeing the #tlap buzz on Twitter, I dove into this book and had trouble putting it down during my vacation. 

Some of the philosophies and overall aims are to ensure a successful, engaging and authentic learning experience for every student in the classroom. What better way as an educator (in August) to begin thinking about how to change their own practice to get “back into the swing of things”?

So my question to those of you reading this blog is, are you ready to create a unique learning experience for every student? Have you considered what you can do differently to enhance your current practice and seek new, innovative & creative ways to infuse your passion into your each of your lessons? 

September. Being that this time of year is especially hectic, my recommendation is that if you happen to have the time to prepare & plan now, give it a try. Think about the upcoming curriculum that you plan to teach & how can you approach teaching it with a new lens….with your PIRATE lens! 🙂 

Here are a few (techie) suggestions for the start of the school year.

(1) Transform your current classroom syllabus! There are programs (some free) available online to help modify and create a visually stunning document. You may be thinking, but I love my current syllabus! What do you mean I should change it? I encourage you to take another look.

And instead of running off copies, why not create a QR code for the document & have students scan the code in order to read the syllabus? You can also choose to share the document with students electronically in the future as well. (Google: Piktochart, infogr.am, QR code generator)

The Creative Language Class blog has some great examples of what some teachers have done to re-vamp their classroom syllabus. http://bit.ly/13Oq54s

(2) Back to School Scavenger Hunt! Instead of assigning a written assignment or some sort of get-to-know you worksheet, have students learn about each other & you through an online scavenger hunt. QR codes can be scattered throughout your room! Or you use Edmodo! Here is a link specifying what you can do to help create an online scavenger hunt thanks to some great NJ teachers. http://bit.ly/1948w51

And if you aren’t using edmodo.com yet, make sure you sign up. As in, right now.

It’s wonderful!! And it happens to be one of the best tools educators & students can use to help enhance their learning experiences. I have yet to met an educator who hasn’t loved every feature the site offers. Visit their “Support” section for great tools & tips on how to use Edmodo in your classroom. As a World Language educator, what better way to connect with other classrooms around the world? 

(3) Introduce yourself to your students by creating a short video! If you are teaching a world language, creating a video about yourself in the target language is a great interpretive activity which can help you to see your students abilities right from the start of the school year. Websites such as Animoto, Stupeflix and others can help you create a show with photos, videos, text, music- whatever you chose to include to share with your students. As a way to see whether or not they understood what they heard/read about you, create some simple true/false statements or questions using a Google Form or a back channeling website, such as TodaysMeet. After they have enjoyed learning about you, spin it back on the students & have them create a similar video but about themselves. Showcase their videos using sites such as Edmodo and let feedback in the target language begin! 

(4) Join a professional social media network. With the start of a new school year, it is time for you to embark on something different or new! I know, I know, new is sometimes scary! But, I will still recommend that you take your pick!

Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Edmodo- which have you heard about but haven’t had the time to use & become familiar with? Take the time now to ease yourself into one of these social media sites. In doing so, you will be able to form relationships with colleagues all over the world and have access to several resources that you never knew existed. So, get out there and join the collaborative social media movement! 

(5) Consider how your classroom can help another. Whether it be within your own school, within another school in your district, county, state, country, world- how can your students serve as role models and help to show others what they know?

A great way to not only strengthen your own students’ knowledge of the subject matter but also promote active, responsible citizenship is to collaborate with other classrooms. Whether it is working collaboratively on an online project, offering peer tutoring virtually or conducting Q & A sessions to learn about each others culture & lifestyles- there is a way for every classroom to connect with another. Consider how you may bring this component into your classroom and select a class to do this with. Be creative and allow for student input- you’ll be amazed by how exciting it can be for everyone involved!

I hope that you will at least consider one of the above suggestions as you re-enter the new school year. Remember that each day in your classroom CAN BE unique, meaningful & engaging for each student- it is just up to you on how to design & execute these fantastic lessons!