May 17, 2015

Sailing into Summer...to Make Returning in the Fall Much Easier

The countdown is officially on!  While some teachers are already out for summer, I still have three more weeks.  I have to tell you that although I love my students this year, I am still more than ready to trade in my teacher clothes for a bathing suit and my lesson plans for vacation plans.  That's why I'm teaming up with Julie from Faulkner's Fast Five and Lauralee from Language Arts Classroom to bring you the Sailing Into Summer Blog Hop.  Hopefully some of these ideas can help you transition from teaching time to summer time, too.


With the end of the school year being so busy, I like to simplify my final exam process.  First of all, I teach in a school that does not require teachers to give a final if we have another educational plan, so I may have a little more leeway than some in this area.  Rather than have a standard scantron or paper test, I like to end the year with a project, finished up the week before school gets out.  That gives me enough time to grade the work, as students are doing something else.  For the last several days, I like to show a film that relates to the literature unit we’ve been studying.  For my freshmen who are currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird, I like to end with The Help, giving them a comparison chart to complete and keep them busy as they watch.  My juniors are reading The Great Gatsby, and will be watching the Baz Luhrman version of the film and again, completing an assignment to be turned in on finals day.



Next school year, I want to do my “You Be the Teacher” project again.  This year, I broke students into nine groups and assigned each group a chapter of The Great Gatsby to teach to the class.  Each group had to create a quiz to give, conduct a class discussion, model a passage analysis focusing on a literary aspect of the chapter, and develop a classroom learning activity for the students to complete.  They had the whole period to “teach” their lesson to the class.  If this sounds like something you’d like to try, I have the resource listed HERE in my TPT store.  The students really like it and the quality of there lessons has been fantastic!

This year, I started my freshmen with a nonfiction unit.  After many years beginning with short stories, and reviewing literary devices and plot structure, I felt that this year’s students were lacking in those areas once we started our first novel unit.  Next year I plan to go back to my original plan.  I will still incorporate lots of nonfiction, but I will also make sure they are competent in literary devices to make the rest of the year go more smoothly.  This unit on "The Most Dangerous Game" is my #1 seller, and works great for introducing a short story unit.


I like to show my appreciation in many ways, but who doesn’t like receiving gifts to brighten up their day.  This year, I plan to give my student teacher (who will be returning to my class in the fall) a gift card to Staples and a copy of Teach Like a Champion 2.0.  Another cute idea that I did for my own children’s teachers this year, is to buy mini bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes and attach a note that said “With you as my teacher, school’s a piece of cake” (of course, I made the cute tags using clip art I purchased from TPT!).  Switching up the wording a bit, can make this a cute gift for anyone you want to recognize.


Next school year I will be moving classrooms, from one end of campus to the other.  Right now I am caught up in a giant mess of organizing and packing.  I did two things that I think will be a big help.  First, I tackled my filing cabinets.  I blogged about this earlier HERE.  I took a copy of every single paper in by files and organized them into binders by subject.  Then, I recycled all the extra papers.  I have a tendency to hold onto extra copies of everything, and then not go back to reuse the extras.  Recycling all those extra papers took a ton of extra weight out of my cabinets, and made looking for my files a lot easier.  The other thing I did was to buy clear plastic containers for special extras.  Every year I have my students act out the trial scene from To Kill a Mockingbird.  I put my props, including a judge’s robe and gavel, character name tags, and the scripts inside one tub.  Another tub holds props for my class’s Great Gatsby party, including printed quote signs, streamers, and photo booth props.  For now on, every time I need these items, I will easily be able to locate them in the clear tubs that I can file in my cabinets.

If you're like me and still have a bit to go, take time to enjoy your last days with your students.  If you're already out, go sit in the sunshine and have a drink on me, you lucky dogs!  Enjoy sailing into summer...


May 3, 2015