February 26, 2013

Keeping Their Attention

Keeping Their Attention-A How To Guide

In my recent giveaway, I asked people to share with me what they'd like to see more of. Keeping students' attention was one of them...so here we go.

We all try to have rigorous, relevant, and engaging curriculum, but sometimes we just lose their attention. For the past two summers I've been to an amazing teacher training put on by the Quantum Learning Network. They give wonderful tips and ideas for making our classrooms more engaging.

But one of the most effective tips I learned was about students' attention span. Students can pay attention for about as minutes as their age...I teach high school, so I've got about 15-20 minutes of full focus at a time. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to change activities or that they're useless after 15-20 min. This means you just need to change their state of being, give a little jump start if you will. So I compiled a list of the state changers that have worked for me and have allowed me to keep attention during an 80 minute class. I've got a whole handout at my TPT store [FREE], but here's a few ideas:

-Sit up straight and take a deep breath
-Turn to your neighbor...
-With your index finger, point to _______ on your paper

I also like to do weird things that get them thinking in order to pay attention. For example, I have been known to say "Put your left ring finger on your nose when you're done", or "Touch your right elbow with your left thumb". These are kind of funny, and a lot of kids surprisingly have to think about which is their left vs. right :/

So check out my handout for more tips and explanations on keeping their attention in class!

Click here to visit my TPT Store for your FREE Keeping Their Attention Handout with lots of helpful hints :)

Have a great day!

February 21, 2013

Grading Organization

On my 'Fifty Follower Giveaway' post, I asked people to tell me what they'd like to see more of...and I listened! Organization ideas was a huge request, so I'll be creating a few posts under that category in the next month or so.

My first tip, and I think one of the most important, is how to keep your grading organized. Over the last few years I've worked out many kinks and think I have found a great system. Try it out and see how it works for you; not everything works for everyone, but maybe you'll glean an idea or two that would fit into your teaching style.

I keep a tray for each period, and put all the work that needs to be grades in that tray. Then once I grade it, I enter the scores in the gradebook, and put the work in the corresponding period's gradebook folder in my grading binder. Any work that is ready to be handed back is in that folder and I know it's graded. I've also recently been making piles on my TA's desk with labels- "Pass Back P.1" or "Pass Back P.4" etc.

Yup, I still need to grade period 4's assignments from today. I'll do that before school tomorrow :)

Step Two: I've always been a believer in having a paper copy of grades, and then input them into the computer grading system-you never know when the system will shut down or something. Some people enter grades and then every now and then print them out for back up...but what if it shuts down before you've had a chance to back up again?! I don't trust it :/

I use an exel spreadsheet [idea from my master teacher] to keep track of names and grades. Our new computer system does however, allow us to print blank grade sheets that have customizable columns! So I create a sheet that has the names in alphabetical order down the left, just like when imputing the grades into the system, that way there's no confusion. I then create 10 additional columns to the right of the names to write the assignments in. I write the date the assignment was due below all the columns.

I enter grades everyday after school so that their gradebook view is always up to date and they always know what they're missing. But if you don't have time for that, or only enter grades once a week or something, this next trick is for you. Once I've entered a grade into the system, I highlight the assignment in different colors; if it's not highlighted, I haven't entered it into the online gradebook yet. Here are the different colors:

PINK-homework assignements
ORANGE- writing assignments
YELLOW- in-class work or projects
BLUE- Tests/Quizzes

I weight my grades by these four categories, hence highlighting in four different colors.  If a student turns in late work, I put the new grade in the appropriate column, and then circle it so it catches my eye when entering grades. See below:
 You'll notice too that I put an 'A' if they were absent and a 0 if they just didn't do it. 

My policy is that if they have an excused absence, they can have an extra day to turn in an assignment without penalty. However, if they just didn't turn in an assignment, they receive a zero until they turn it in for late credit. 

Hopefully this post gives you some great ideas for organizing your grading system, or just reinforces that yours is awesome!!

Happy grading,

February 18, 2013

Monthly Themed Journal Prompts-FREEBIE

I sometimes have a hard time coming up with a journal prompt, or forget it's a holiday and have a prompt in mind, or come up with some great ideas for a journal the day after. The first set of journal prompts was well received, so I created this second set. This set has ten journal prompts for each month, and address the major holidays. There are also a few fun minor holidays that are addressed too... like Earth Day in April, National Peanut Day in March, and Lucky Penny day in May! Makes for some fun writing time :)

I am going to print these out and keep them in my lesson planner, and in my journal that I keep at school to write alongside the students with.

Click here to go to my TPT store to download your FREE copy!

You can also check out my original journal prompts at my TPT store as well.

Happy Writing!

February 15, 2013

And the Winner is...

And the winner is....Raelena at Throuthehaze Reads!

Thanks so much for becoming a follower and entering the raffle! I'm so excited that people got involved and left great comments! I plan on using those comments to help create the next several posts. I want to give you guys what you want! :)

So Raelena, just send me your mailing address @ talesofteachinginheels@gmail.com, and I'll get that Starbucks card off to you :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a great Three-Day Weekend! 

February 12, 2013


Wow! I'm up to 60 followers!!! Thanks everyone! Don't forget to enter the Fifty Follower giveaway for a chance to win a Starbucks giftcard :) The raffle is over in 2 days, and I'd love everyone to get a chance to enter!

From the comments on the giveaway, I've received several suggestions as to what people would like to see soon in the blog...yay! Can't wait to start coming up with some new ideas, and spice up some old ones too :)

Now that cheer is wrapping up, I'll have more time to create goodies for my classroom, and I'm so excited!!!! Can't wait to share them all with you.

Don't forget to check out all my free items on my TPT store....and if you have any suggestions for goodies you'd like to see, let me know!

Have a great week!
[Image from myvlink.org]

February 10, 2013

Freebie Poster-How to Hook your Reader!

I love fun posters for the classroom! And this one comes out of necessity. I often have students asking how to start their papers, even though by 10th grade they've written more than a fair share. So this fun poster offers some suggestions :)

I teach mostly persuasive writing, so I don't suggest using a question as a hook. I suggest using: a quotation, a fact or statistic, or imagery.

Visit my TPT Store for a free downloadable poster [or use as a handout for your students to keep in their binders]. If you want to turn it into a poster, just print it out on 8.5 x 11" and then take it to Office Depot to have them blow it up to a 2' x 3' poster :)

Here's the one in my classroom! :-)
Enjoy your new, FREE, poster or handout!

February 7, 2013

50 Follower Giveaway!!!!!

So excited for my Fifty Follower Giveaway! Thanks everybody so much for following the blog and sharing your teaching experiences with me!! Please enter below for a chance to win a Starbucks Gift Card :) Teachers run of coffee!!!! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck! 

February 4, 2013

Facebook Character Profile Sheets-FREEBIE

I've realized that the students are not super into the charts that I'm having them fill out to chart character progress throughout the novel. So I decided to keep up with the times, since all high schoolers have a Facebook page, and create Facebook profiles for each character. The name and 2 friends are filled in for them, but the students are responsible for filling out the rest of the information.

What I like about the profile pages is that they still let me monitor whether the students understand the novel or not. I ask the students to create a post from each character, from the beginning, middle, and end of the novel to trace character development. Then, under each post, the students are asked to write down which characters in the novel would "like" that comment. This is GREAT for making sure the students comprehend the novel...if Snowball is liking Napoleon's post about kicking Snowball out, then I KNOW they're not understanding the story :)

This is a FREEBIE that can be downloaded from my TPT store :)

Here's a glimpse:
This is for Animal Farm, but it's a word doc, so you can easily change the characters and any text :)

Just please keep my name at the bottom, for credit, and then feel free to tack yours on after mine :)


February 2, 2013

February Currently!!!

It's February! I can't believe it's here already! And what better way to start off February than with Farley's Currently February :) I love her monthly links and look forward to them all the time. I also have some great goodies coming up this month that I can't wait to get started on.

So here's to a fabulous February everyone!

See you soon!