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by Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed.
So, you’re looking for a fun way to begin your math class each day. It needs to be quick, engaging and easy to execute. Well, look no further because we’ve got a great one that students of ALL ages love–and it seriously couldn’t be easier.
Mini white or black boards (one per child)
White board marker or piece of chalk (one per child)
- Pass out white/black boards and respective writing instruments to your students. Tell them that they will use their board to participate in some fun math races.
- Then, simply call out math equations that are on-par with your class’s ability level or current topics of study. Everything from simple addition to complex long division and algebra equations will work for this activity.
- The students solve the problems and write the answer on their boards as quickly as possible. When they have their answer written, they silently hold their board above their heads.
- Award small prizes daily (or keep track of points and award a larger prize, like a full-sized candy bar, to one “Math Champion” each month). Prizes can be awarded for: first correct answer, second correct answer, third correct answer (to keep students working even after the first board gets raised into the air), neatest writing, or best display of steps (if “show your work” is a necessary instruction).
- At the end of the activity, you can collect the boards or allow students to keep them in their desks for drawing and writing when they finish their work.
Your students will look forward to this fast-paced activity…almost as much as they’ll look forward to writing on their own white/black board!
Helpful Hints: Laminated pieces of white poster board, cut into 9 x 12 sheets, also make good erasable boards for use with dry erase markers. They may have to be replaced after a few months, but they’re cheap and easy to make. And, old (clean :) socks make great erasers, as well as holders for chalk and white-board markers.
To purchase mini white or black boards and pens/chalk, visit The School Box…or check out these links:
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Here’s a list of invaluable insights for students, which will prepare them for college and beyond. Print this for the student(s) in your life and encourage them to take ownership over their education!
TIP ONE: Practice public speaking. The vast majority of future careers, not to mention courses in college, will ask you to speak in front of others. If you struggle with it, practice it while you can so it won’t be as terrifying when it really matters.
TIP TWO: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone struggles sometimes, so don’t feel like you’re less successful because you need a little help.
TIP THREE: Try to balance your life. Your education is extremely important, but don’t make your life all about school. Give some of your time to friends, the community and hobbies, as well.
TIP FOUR: Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no such thing as a perfect person. Give yourself a break when you make a mistake and take it as a life lesson.
TIP FIVE: Take risks. Your school years are the ideal time to try out new things, follow new interests and explore your talents. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
TIP SIX: View school as an opportunity, not an obligation. Many people around the world do not have the chance to pursue a quality education. Remember that education will pave the way for opportunities in life.
These tips were adapted from www.onlinecollege.org. Part two in this series (Study Tips for Students) is coming soon!
Uncovering Literature-Phobia in Secondary English Classrooms
by Anastasia Teasley
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It can be difficult to present Shakespeare (or other curriculum-required writers) to high school students summoned to their seats at 8:00 in the morning with nothing on their minds but not to be there. Students commonly find these writers to be too hard to read, outdated by a few hundred years, or boring—having no practical application in their own drama-filled lives. While looking for creative ideas to teach Hamlet, I discovered wonderful approaches to presenting literature that I believe will benefit other teachers looking for inspiration.
The English Journal, a resource for teachers published by the National Council of Teachers of English, provides journal articles written by professionals who have faced down their own classroom’s challenges. Here are some of their unique ideas:
- “Using the Original Approach to Teach Shakespeare” by Bruce Robbins: Role Play! Let the students read over a piece of literature and clarify any uncertain words or meanings. Have the students act out the parts, but not just by reading out of the book. Robbins had students read the same text in different ways from a script made on homemade scrolls. The students not only identified with a character’s situation, but they identified with another student’s perspective and had fun doing it.
- From Tabes-Kawk: Use Music! Have students pick out music that, in their opinion, would best fit a scene of a story. Encourage students to bring music from home and play the music while the student reads that scene aloud and justifies their musical choice with a literary explanation. Says Tabes-Kawk, “This assignment brought even the toughest student to class on time with a rewarding, ‘this is awesome!’”
- From Cindy Bowman and Brendan Pieters: Use WebQuest! WebQuest is a computer program that incorporates the Internet, word processing, and story building programs to stretch a student’s understanding of a literary work. The students can research a play, write something about it, and build a model of a particular scene or act. The program pre-approves appropriate sites for use beforehand, allowing students to have access only to scholarly resources. Students can do everything from creating their own story boards to designing costumes and stages.
- Chat It Up! By using chatting software, teachers can group students in partners or small groups, where they then take on a character’s role and chat to each other based on the story line. These chats are recorded and can be printed for a grade. Discuss (http://www.discussware.com/discuss/) is an example of this software.
Hopefully these techniques will work to bring Shakespeare (and his peers) into the 21st century for your students!
Anastasia Teasley is a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in English from Kennesaw State University. Read more by Anastasia at www.tandemmedia.net.