Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An interesting analogy for how to set up your classroom instruction:

Think of your lesson as a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

Bread, bread, with peanut butter and jelly in between....

First 5 minutes of class is the first slice of bread. Basic, necessary... the backbone of the sandwich..

inside there, the good stuff... the PB & J..... the tasty part

Last 5 minutes of class, the last slice of bread.. to hold it all together!

You start class by telling them what they are going to learn. The nitty gritty, capture their attention, that first slice of bread with its enticing aroma.

Then, you start filling the bread with the tasty parts of the lesson - the activities that will fill their minds with what you hope to accomplish with today's lesson....

At the end of the hour, you slap that last piece of bread on there to hold it all together. Bring the lesson to a conclusion, remind them what they have learned, tie it into their long term memory by showing how it relates to them, to what they have learned in the past, and how it will connect to what they will learn in the future.

First few minutes and last few minutes are most critical to long term storage. THe middle part.... the fluff, if you will. That is when you put the peanut butter and jelly between the 2 slices of bread that are the begining and end of the lesson. The middle is the tasty part, the fun part... but without the bread, you ain't got nothing but a sticky mess with no place to go.

Build strong lessons with sturdy slices of bread at the begining and end of your lessons. Make sure you capture all the essence within making use of your first and last 5 minutes effectively. Fill the minutes between those with good stuff, tasty stuff.... make it engaging to stick and 'sweet'. Smoosh all that sticky peanut butter, and that sweet jelly between those 2 slices of bread...

The sandwich will be complete, as will your students' long term retention of what you set out to accomplish.

Monday, June 08, 2009

This post I would like to share some of the great websites I have learned about this year, or just those I find particularly useful in my teaching.

One of the coolest sites I have seen lately is Wordle. This site takes a list of words and creates a display. The possibilities for use in your classroom are endless: book reports, vocab study, rules, text analysis, fun exploration, creative way to look at grade level content expectations... What could your students create with this tool? For more ideas, check out Thirty-Eight Interesting Ways to Use Wordle in the Classroom.

The next site is geared toward adult learners but has applications for the classroom as well, or could be used by teacher leaders developing professional development for their staff. Adult Learning Principles offers 10 strategies or ideas to consider when developing learning experiences for adults. From A is for Active Learning, to O for Open to Negotiation, all of these are easy, practical and applicable to students as well as adults. I love the simplicity of the site and its suggestions.

Taking Earth Day Literally offers 10 globes to share with students. Some of these are unbelievably cool! I would love to use this site as a springboard for a student project designing globes to meet various learning objectives.

Do you fall into the PowerPoint-less mode with students at times? Ten Ways to Get Beyond PowerPoints with Classroom Projectors offers simple and practical ideas.

A fun site is Let Me Google That for You. Middle schoolers would appreciate the humor in this site that googles a topic for you for all those times someone says they can't find information that would have been the top of a good Google search.

Garr Reynolds offers presentation tips at his site. These are meant for more professional presentations but could easily help students create more effective presentations and PowerPoints following his simple rules and ideas.

Are you looking for quotes to use in your classroom? Try Inspirational Quotes for Students.

For some provocative maps of the human impact on the world, try Human Footprint. The possibilities are endless!

I love The Story of Stuff. This site is a wonderful tool to get kids started thinking about how they can lessen their own personal impact on the world.

An oldie but goodie for writing prompts is Writing Fix:Home of Interactive Writing Prompts. While I do not always use the choices here, I do find it a wonderful springboard for creating RAFTS to use in my math and social studies classes.

A 90 second History of Religion is wonderful for showing an overview of both religion and history in general in the world. How these religions spread, where and when is quickly references.

Crappy Graphs is a fun interactive way for kids to create quick graphs to discuss trends. These graphs are not detailed, but still can be useful for discussions.

World Maths Day is a once a year event where students around the world practice and compete with math facts. My students did it for the first time this year and loved it.

Free Rice is a fun vocabulary game where students work to donate rice to developing nations. Students enjoy the tiered practice. While a grain of rice may not make a huge impact in world hunger, practicing vocabulary in an exciting new way enriches student learning.

Those are a few of my favorites from this school year. Hopefully, you find something useful on the list to share!