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What to Look Forward to from The Teacher’s Academy at the PETE&C

The Teacher’s Academy will be hosting a booth at the annual PETE&C in Hershey, Pennsylvania this February. At the conference, educators from across the state come together to learn from each other.PETE&C

Participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of the importance of technology in education — and, if they’re lucky, they might even leave with some great prizes and a few professional development hours under their belt.

Here are some details about the PETE&C (Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference):

  • Date: February 11th-14th, 2017
  • Location: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA
  • Provides programs based on technology in the educational field
  • Consists of keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, students showcases, and more
  • Educators can take a course, apply to enter their students in showcases, host a booth, volunteer, and more

To learn more or register, visit the conference’s website.

TTA

 

At The Teacher’s Academy, we offer a variety of Act 48-approved courses in hopes that teachers can learn relevant and advanced material to pass on to their students. As a website that offers professional development, we understand just how important technology is in the education field. To display our offerings and give teachers more information about our services, we will be exhibiting and giving away a few prizes at the PETE&C.

Here’s what to expect from our booth 116 in the Great American Lobby:

  • 4 Fun Best-Selling Teacher Books Giveaway
  • 3 $50 Visa Gift Cards Giveaway
  • Healthy snacks (and not so healthy snacks!)
  • Free Books for Teachers! (Our crowd favorite is back! Stop by booth 116 to take any gently used book donated by teachers from around Pennsylvania!)

Stop by our booth to ask about our courses, find out how to fulfill Act 48 requirements, learn about our affordable and convenient services, and win some fun prizes along the way!

Our online courses, which are Act 48 approved in PA, are creThe Teacher's Academyated by teachers, for teachers. Teachers can select courses based on the grade level they teach, their subject and interests, and more.

Browse our website or call us at 215-660-4926 today to complete your professional development hours in PA and learn more about The Teacher’s Academy: where teachers go to learn.

Top 5 Summer Reads for Teachers

 Only a few more weeks left, but who’s counting? Time start thinking about relaxing on the beach with a good book. We won’t judge if you pick a trashy romance novel for your first read, but when that gets old and you’re ready to reconnect with the world you love, we have a few recommendations that will inspire, motivate and gear you up for Fall! (Oops, sorry for dropping the “F” word in early June!) We’ve checked out a few “fun in the sun” books we think our teachers will love to dive into! This year we have chosen books to help ignite your student’s brains, create a more artful classroom and inspire you to overcome challenges. We hope you had a wonderful year and enjoy a long, well-deserved and restful summer.

 #5: Spark! The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Spark

Get out of the desks! The latest research suggests that students will excel academically, if they are moving. Check out this book for incorporating movement in your classroom and stay tuned for The Teacher’s Academy new course, Move to Learn being released later this month!

Integrating the Arts#2: Integrating the Arts Across the Elementary School Curriculum (What’s New in Education) by R. Phyllis, Gelineau

Integrating the Arts in your classroom can be used to jazz up some of your old lessons and activities. Get some great ideas on how to incorporate art, music, drama and movement to increase engagement and academics in your classroom. Stay tuned for The Teacher’s Academy new course release, Integrating the Arts in the Classroom.

#3: The Bridge to Brilliance: How One Principal in a Tough Community Is Inspiring Bridgethe World by Nadia Lopez

Be inspired by the story of one young principal determined not to fail her students. Nadia Lopez started a school in one of the poorest sections of the country and faced an uphill battle to provide a safe, nurturing, quality education for her community. She has received several awards and national recognition for her efforts but her greatest achievements are her happy students.

Smile big moon#4: A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Special Education Teacher, His Class, and Their Inspiring Journey Through U.S. Space Camp by Mike Kerjes

Follow a special education teacher and his students on a journey to one of the most prestigious space camps in America. Mike Kersjes breaks down barriers to show his students that nothing can stop them from achieving their dreams. Take your tissues along for this one!

#5: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by Make your bedWilliam H. McRaven

If you have not seen Admiral William H. McRaven’s 2014 Commencement address at the University of Texas, check out the YouTube video here. This book offers humble advice, hope and direction from a Navy Seal’s own life experiences. When life becomes too overwhelming, start the day by making your bed.

Need Professional Development this Summer? We can help!

The summer is not only a great time for teachers to catch up on reading, but also to get started (or finish up) those pesky professional development requirements. The Teacher’s Academy is created by teachers and we know how time consuming continuing education can be. Check out our online courses for cost-effective, relevant and convenient professional development.

Check out our Online Course Catalog for the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development courses, created by teachers for teachers.

Click, Find Your State for specific details on professional development from your department of education.

 Have a great summer, teachers!

The Teacher’s Academy

Where teachers go to learn.

The Teacher's Academy

 

The Teacher’s Academy Expands To Massachusetts

 Now Massachusetts teachers can have convenient, affordable and relevant professional development!

How it all began…

In 2012, a group of established teachers formed a company in Pennsylvania called Act 48 Academy in honor of a Pennsylvania law that requires all staff to maintain a high level of rockblogprofessional development. Act 48 Academy struck a chord for many teachers, and these services were needed outside of PA. Hence, The Teacher’s Academy was born.

We help teachers across the country…

Since then, we have been providing an affordable, convenient way for teachers to maintain their professional licenses.  In 2013, we expanded into our neighboring states of New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

In 2016, we were approved by IACET.

“The Teacher’s Academy is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET accreditedCEU.”

This approval opened doors to all states accepting IACET CEUS, including Massachusetts.

Today, our internationally recognized company, The Teacher’s Academy, reaches across the nation to support all teachers. We are extremely proud to share the same vision with the amazing teachers in Massachusetts.

Renewing Your MA Teaching License

Every 5 years, teachers in Massachusetts need to renew their professional teaching licenses by obtaining 150 Professional Development Points (PDPs).

1 Hour = 1 PDP
1 CEU =  10 PDPs

Here are a few examples of courses offered by The Teacher’s Academy and the PDPs earned for each:

The Teacher’s Academy offers a variety of courses worth 3, 6, 15 and 18 PDPs.

The Teacher’s Academy Courses

Because the founders of The Teacher’s Academy are teachers, we believe professional development should be convenient, cover relevant topics, provide choices, and, above all, be affordable.

Not only are our courses affordable, they’re also convenient.  The team of teachers that reviews your completed work will present your Certificate and professional development hours within 5 – 7 business days of submission.  Our process is faster and less expensive than community colleges or other private companies.  There are no administrative or extra costs for materials because everything you need to complete the course is emailed immediately.   We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any questions.

Since our courses are downloaded to your computer, the course, along with all of the great web resources and teaching tools, are yours to keep!

Check out our course topics:

Teacher Resources

Look for more courses like these under Teacher Resources

Music and Art

Look for more courses like these under Music and Art

Technology

Look for more courses like these under Technology

We are honored to bring our services to the excellent teachers of Massachusetts!The Teacher's Academy

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website and Course Catalog, for a listing of all of our courses.

Teacher Feature: Heather Anderson

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Beyond the Classroom…. 

South Africa, a nation ripwm.mailanyone.netped apart by apartheid, is making a slow but deliberate recovery. One very special teacher is helping to heal this nation with a few school supplies, some very eager students and a whole lot of love. Meet Mrs. Heather Anderson, a pastor’s wife (Mama Mfundisi in isiXhosa), a teacher and founder of Keep the Dream, (a project to solicit community support), who humbly considers herself just a “dabbler in many things.”

“Many things” is truly an understatement. In Port 1gay31Elizabeth, South Africa, Mrs. Anderson’s classroom consists of an entire community. Like any educator, she teaches young children to read and write, creates activities to help develop their motor skills and integrates the arts to keep them engaged. However, her teaching job extends beyond the walls of the classroom. She also teaches her students’ parents a variety of life skills, (including reading), and helps find them employment.

She teaches, “Whatever needs to be taught” to members of her community, looking to learn.

 Faith…

“Whether this is teaching faith or reading, someone has to go (to Africa). I read about what is happening in South Sudan and I am grieved more than I can say… students clamoring to learn but no facilities or teachers to teach them. It is a privilege to be an educator- no greater calling and I believe it really is a calling because there are no tangible rewards in many cases.”

Recently, Mrs. Anderson arranged for her students and their parents to visit the local library. Some of the adults had never been in a library before and were shocked and amazed to see the sheer number of books available for borrowing. They watched in delight as the librarian read books to their children, orchestrated art activities and emphasized the importance of reading. 1gavv5The librarian explained how reading will elevate their children out of poverty.  For the first time, parents used library cards to check out books for their children. As much as this simple activity has helped the parents, it is the children who will reap the greatest benefits.

  Soon, Mrs. Anderson plans on taking young women on their first hike up a mountain. She will teach them how to prepare, what to bring, how to follow the trail and how to face unexpected challenges. Her goal is not just keeping her students engaged with real-world, hands-on learning activities, but to teach them to depend on themselves, to depend on each other and to know that each one of them, “has worth and can achieve success just like any other person.”

With support from members of the community, Mrs. Anderson can continue to provide experiences that teach her students self-reliance, but, most importantly to have faith in each other. Faith that inspires, motivates and provides reassurance to the impoverished.

 Hope…

The education system in South Africa is broken. Students are desperate to learn but there are no facilities, very little supplies and even less teachers. The South African people have put pressure on the government to provide free education but that usually yields less-than-qualified graduates. Any funding from the government gets lost in bureaucratic red tape and leaves desperate communities floundering for resources. Sometimes their only hope is a teacher with a calling to serve.1gawcd

Mrs. Anderson has grieved over what seems hopeless, yet keeps hope alive through her work. She finds time to teach anything her students want to learn, from fun topics like crochet and cake decorating to life-saving lessons in nutrition and hygiene. She finds creative ways to integrate the arts and culture into her lessons to encourage a sense of pride in her students. In addition to her job-placement courses, she teaches a Little Lambs pre-school class to prepare young learners for placement in a private school, and a reading course to prepare 45 young readers for first grade. In a hopeless educational community, Mrs. Anderson is seeing results. She has had great success in placing her older students into higher-paying jobs and her Little Lambs in the private school of their choosing. She is determined to have all 45 students reading before they enter first grade. Like most teachers, her rewards are not tangible, but they are powerful and responsible for keeping hope alive.

 Love…

“The smile on a child’s or an adult’s face when they “get it” still is the greatest thing about being a teacher. That one “fireworks moment” when learning takes place and you know that you were a part of something great.”  

Mrs. Anderson is absolutely part of something great. Years ago, when she and her husband opened their church in the township of Gugulethu, the people were on the brink of starvation. She put programs in place designed not only to teach, but also to weave love and compassion through her work.

The economic situation in the township began to improve. In less than 10 years, the community was self-“THE ONE LANGUAGE THAT SURPASSES THEM ALL IS LOVE.” | made w/ Imgflip meme makersufficient. She is too humble to take much credit for the change. Her faith gives her strength, guidance and fills her heart with enough love for a whole township.

Teaching has a profound affect on her heart. As she develops lessons and provides learning opportunities for all people in Port Elizabeth, communication is not always easy.

“I want “my kids” to know that I love them and am committed to them. In their culture many are not raised by their mom or their dad but by some relative that can care for them. They are often shifted from one place to another and find people leaving them again and again. I am determined to be the one who stays… consistent, faithful, loving, and speaking positively about them and to them.”

Dream…

Mrs. Anderson is a graduate of Cornell College and received her secondary teaching degree from Southwest Texas University. She finds inspiration to continue her work through her father, a special high-school teacher, and her faith in God.

My husband is the pastor of a church called The Potter’s House Christian Church in Port Elizabeth South Africa.  Under that umbrella I have started a project called ‘Keep the Dream’.  I use this project as a means of communicating with the general community in obtaining various materials/support to use in teaching our typing, computer, pre-school, reading classes and general life skills classes.  I find that, for the most part, the community is very keen to assist the poor in obtaining skills and education to improve their lives. We open these classes up to the general public and trust that our testimony in presenting and participating in the classes will allow them to see Christ in us and encourage them to find Him as well.”

She, along wit1gaz4wh her husband, have moved The Potter’s House Church and the Keep the Dream project to Port Elizabeth where they are experiencing the joy of transforming another township.

With few resources and big challenges, Heather Anderson and her husband are doing their best to eliminate poverty and empower the people of South Africa.

Mama Mfundisi, thanks for dreaming big! You are an inspiration for all teachers!

The next Teacher Feature could be YOU!

For more inspirational stories on teachers that are making a difference in the community and the world, check out our other Teacher Feature blog posts. Do you know someone who is an excellent teacher that uses ingenuity, talent, and raw guts to face the unique challenges of teaching? If so, contact us. We love to honor great teachers! Keep up the good work, everyone! It’s almost mid-terms!!

The Teacher’s Academy provides affordable and convenient professional development courses for busy teachers. Check out our Course Catalog to get started on your professional development today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to Know Your Students Through Art

 

Getting to know your students through Art                                                                      paint hands

Our most important duty during these first few weeks is to get to know all these bright new faces sitting in front of us. All of your students will bring their unique stories and personalities into your classroom and it is your job to figure them out.  How will they learn? What are their likes and dislikes? What is their home life like? Will they respond to you? AHH! There is so much to figure out and so little time to do it. Instead of giving them a 100-point questionnaire, consider utilizing a few of these art activities. You might learn more things about your group than you thought you would! Oh, and it might actually be fun! Who would have dreamt it?

Name that Kid

The dreaded “name game.”  As classroom sizes inflate each year, teachers are challenged to find new ways to log their kids in the old memory bank. Of course there are always THOSE students who are burned into your brain almost instantaneously— the little boy that tells you he likes to eat boogers for breakfast or the little girl who blurts out how she likes to put makeup on her dad. Regardless, how are you to remember the other 28 kids staring back at you on the first week of school? Or even worse, what if you are a special area subject teacher that only sees these kids for an hour once a week or on Day 6? The task can seem pretty daunting.  One way that helped me on the first day was to have each child create his or her own nameplate. Jazz up the classic table tent or folder with a few of these variations.

  • Have the children turn the letters of their name into favorite things. For example, have each letter reflect something about themselves: a favorite animal, food, season of the year, subject in school, after-school activity, etc.
  • For younger children, print out blank bubble letter versions of their name and ask the kids to fill them in using stickers, cut-outs or stamps.  Each day of the first week, pose a question to the students and have them use their bubble letter name plates to answer it. The repeated exposure will help both you and your students identify names and provide associations with their favorite things. Check out Woo Junior for some great printable letter templates.
  • For slightly older children, ask the students to pick a “spirit animal” or an animal that best represents them. Then, ask the kids to pick their favorite color and an adjective that best describes themselves. Challenge them to incorporate all of these ideas into a picture with the first letter of their name.  By the end of the first day, you will have a bulletin board full of dancing horses with pink hair and skateboarding bears with blue sunglasses. By reviewing these names and drawings frequently, you will actually create a memory device to help you learn about your kids!

Under Your Roof

Finding out about students’ home life can help teachers a great deal. One of the best ways to learn about what is going on at home is to have your kids draw their families. Art therapists and child psychologists have long used children’s drawings to help analyze their feelings about a situation. Some characteristics may be exaggerated or left out and can house artgive insight into what a child views as valuable.

  • Fold a paper inward and cut the upper corners to make a house shape and have the children fill it with their family, pets, and favorite things.
  • Don’t forget to have them draw themselves in the portrait. If there is something alarming about their picture, seek counsel from a professional.
  • For older kids, ask them to draw a typical day in their house with their family or make up a cartoon where everyone in the house makes an appearance.

Learning about their home life will at least give you an idea if there are specific challenges your students are facing each day. Knowing that a child shares a room with a younger sibling or splits time between divorced parents may help avoid awkward exchanges and give insight into everyday struggles.  There are websites such as this one which can be helpful in analyzing your students’ psychological status, but always consult a professional if you have serious concerns.

My Superhero Alter Ego

art suppliesWho hasn’t fantasized about having secret superpowers? Personally, I’ve dreamt about teleportation on just about every Friday afternoon commute. This is a great activity for all ages with a few modifications. Challenge your students to draw their future selves as working adults. They can pick any career and environment that they want. Encourage them to dream about what they want to be when they grow up with no limitations or barriers. Then, have them draw their Alter Ego Superhero self (think Clark Kent/Superman).  They will need to be specific about their special powers and at least one weakness.

  • Encourage them to use details in their drawing like making their cape a favorite color, a poster in the background with their favorite pop star, or perhaps their favorite food on their desk at work.
  • Descriptive drawing is just as important as descriptive writing so have them tell you all about their characters by writing about them.
  • Questions such as, “If I could solve one problem in the world it would be…” can provide interesting responses and may even reveal a specific passion or emotion in some kids.
  • In order to make this a little easier on students, provide blank templates or drawings of people that they would need to change or add details to.
  • For small children, give choices or ideas about what sort of powers there are and what they could help solve.  You could prompt them to discover what their “kryptonite” is by giving them examples of unappetizing foods or unpleasant weather situations.

Believe it or not, a Superhero can tell you a lot about what someone values and fears. Be prepared to be asked what your superpower is as well.  It might help to come to school with your cape in hand that day. It shouldn’t be too difficult, since being a teacher gives you instant superhero status!  Have a great year!

The Teacher’s Academy is the proud parent company of Act 48 Academy. We provide Act 48 Hours for PA teachers, and professional development hours for teachers across the USA. Check out our Online Course Catalog for the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development courses, created by teachers for teachers.

Click Find Your State for specific details on professional development from your department of education.

Enjoy!

Building your Classroom Community

 How to Build a Strong Classroom Community

For many of us, September marks the beginning of a new school year. During these next few weeks we will be building the framework that will set the pace for the rest of the  year.

One of the most effective ways we can do that is to create a strong classroom community.  Students who feel like part of a community are more excited to come to Wschool, enthusiastic about learning, helpful, and accepting of others.

Creating a strong classroom community happens in ways that are both subtle and overt, but always intentional.  Here are some of the best ways that we have discovered to build a strong community of learners.

8 Ways to Build a Strong Classroom Community

1. Help your students feel safe!   If students are constantly worrying about their own safety, both physically or emotionally, they are unlikely to be successful learners or community members.  There are many things you can do to make your students feel safe, some more obvious than others. Modeling compassionate communication, allowing for vulnerability (both your own and students’), and being intolerant of bullying are some of the ways that you can help students feel safe.   Check out our online course to get some practical advice on combating bullying.

2. Arrange your classroom in an effective way! Desks that are all pointed towards the front of the room send a clear message that the teacher is the primary decision maker.  Arranging desks in semi-circles or small pods allows for more group discussions and community building.

bean bagsClassroom walls should be a place to display students’ work and projects, not teacher-created material or posters.  Consider allowing the students to coordinate to make a “Classroom Constitution” which can be hung up and referred to during the year.

Although it may seem contradictory, quiet corners can also be useful tools in making the classroom feel more like a community.  Sometimes the best way to foster students to engage with the rest of the class is to give them the freedom and space to take a few moments alone.  This is especially true for introverted students.  Plants and class pets are also useful in making all students feel connected.

Classroom Architect provides a helpful website to experiment with different classroom layouts.

3. Take a big step back!  Always being the one in control may make for more orderly days, but it allows little room for community building.  Group work, student-led discussions, and Project Based Learning are all excellent ways to build community.  The BIE website is particularly helpful for learning about Project Based Learning.

An important component of student-led projects is grouping. When left to their own devices, kids will often revert back to familiar groups, which doesn’t leave much room for Elementary school students studyingsocial growth and can often result in certain kids being left out.  Try some new ways to group your kids.  One fun way is to have each student anonymously write down a favorite book, hobby, or dream travel destination, and then put them in the group with kids with similar answers.  They might be surprised by who has similar interests!

4. Give opportunities for silliness!  Just as struggling to complete a class project together builds community, so too does laughing over a shared experience.  If humor is your thing, don’t be afraid to let the kids see that side of you.  Tell jokes, have playful conversations, and encourage your students to do the same.  If you are a more serious person, integrating student-created skits or songs into your curriculum will invite humor into your classroom in a natural way.

5. Celebrate each child’s unique spirit!  Being a community does not mean that everyone should feel pressure to be the same.  Quite the contrary.  A true community allows each member to be appreciated for the unique gifts that he or she contributes.  Allowing your students to use multiple ways to present their knowledge shines a light on all the amazing differences and talents that they possess.asian strong children against blackboard in classroom, Education

Our Universal Design for Learning course will show you how to re-design your lessons to be accessible and showcase the strengths of all your students.

6.  Hold them responsible!  An important part of community is understanding how instrumental each member is to the group’s success.  Giving students classroom jobs gives them ownership and helps   them feel like a vital part of the community.

7.  Build trust between all community members!  Trust is an important component in every relationship.  Since a community is, by nature, an interconnected web of relationships, a great deal of trust needs to be built in to allow things to run smoothly.  The most effective way to earn your students’ trust is to be consistent in your words and actions.  Not only does this help your students to trust you, but it also models the behavior that you expect from them.

Spiral StaircaseAnother important way to build trust is to ensure your students that you expect the best from them.  Instead of focusing on a lot of minor details in classroom conduct, assure your students that you have faith in their abilities and good judgement. You will be surprised by how often they rise to the occasion!

Trust-building activities can be a light-hearted way to help build trust between your students.  Check out Teampedia for some fun team building activities.

8.  Respect and celebrate emotions!  Intellect is only one component of a person.  When you acknowledge and honor the other aspects of what makes them human, students feel more comfortable communicating and taking risks.

Group work can be difficult.  With a lot of personalities involved, emotions often run high.  Let students know that it is okay to feel frustrated or sad or even angry.  Talk to them about ways to use those emotions in a productive manner and keep the classroom community a positive, safe place.

Beyond the Classroom…

Teaching kids what an effective, productive community looks like is one of your most important jobs as a teacher.  The lessons they learn in your classroom will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to provide Professional Development Courses to teachers from all across the country. We offer quality, affordable classes that you can take right from your home computer. Check out our catalog to find a course that will help you make this year the best one yet!

 

 

 

More of 2016’s Best Ideas from Teachers

Best Teaching Ideas from PA, NJ and TN

The teachers at The Teacher’s Academy are fortunate to meet hundreds of teachers every week from all over the country.  Our professional development courses emphasize teacher creativity and customized projects so that teachers get a chance to develop something functional. As a result, we are able to see fantastic lesson plans, design projects, video creations, hands-on activities and countless other completed assignments from some extremely talented teachers.  Last month we shared a small sample of these ideas with you.  The response was so overwhelming that we decided to share even more!

Pennsylvania Teachers get Creative with Resume Writing!resume

Writing does not always have to be in the form of an essay or a poem. Some PA teachers found alternative ways to include real-world writing skills in their current curriculum. Drafting a fictional resume has proven to be an engaging activity for students and quite effective in teaching a variety of writing skills, including grammar, spelling and creativity.

Resume Writing Fun!

Procedure:

  1.  Students choose the type of job they would like to have when they grow up.
  2.  Students research the skills and education needed for the job.
  3.  Students create resumes that state their education, experience, skills and interests   to align with the job they have chosen.  

Options for Resume Lesson Plans:

  • Explore the possibilities of different careers.
  • Research jobs within the community and create an actual resume to be used when applying for positions.
  •  Role play an interviewer/job candidate scenario
  • Create beginning-of-the-year resumes for a “getting to know you” activity.
  • Design a resume at the end of the year to highlight  strengths, past experiences, interests, and to help students prepare for future employment.

Not only are resume projects high-interest writing activities, but they also align with Common Core and help prepare students for college and career. CareerKids.com can be a great site to help you get started.  Also, check out our own College and Career Readiness course that highlights this activity and other entrepreneurial activities that teachers can incorporate into their existing curriculum.

New Jersey Teachers Redesign their Classrooms!bean bags

Most teachers strive to create the perfect learning environment for their students.  The layout of the furniture and unique spaces created for learning have a profound effect on the learning process. New Jersey teachers have taken the classroom design idea very seriously and the results are amazing!

Design Ideas for Young Learners!

  • Effectively designed reading nooks, like the ones used in high-tech offices, provide a quiet place for students to zone out with a good book.
  • Modern, sophisticated workstations and time-saving technology centers allow students to flourish in their surroundings and teachers to effectively support diverse learning.
  • Project tables and materials stored in easily accessible shelving keep resources organized and protected for science and math lessons.
  • Design Ideas for Middle / Upper Level Learners!
  • Hands-on project spaces, worktables or even individual student desks can be arranged to promote independence in learning and motivation.
  • Open, comfortable meeting areas and portable laptops allow students to collaborate or work independently.
  • Well-organized, uncluttered classrooms provide students and teachers with a more relaxed, but focused environment.

Customize for your Classroom!

Remember, what works for some teachers may not work for others. Consider your curriculum goals, student population and current classroom set- up. Look for inspiration in high-tech offices as well as your colleagues’ classrooms! New Jersey teachers use a variety of resources to implement change in their classroom.

Here are just a few of them:

Architizer.com, Becuo.com, Pinterest.com, Edutopia.org, K-12 Tech Decisions.com

 

Teachers can earn professional development hours by designing their own classrooms. Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom is a course that introduces teachers to different types of educational professionals and learning environments all around the world. After being inspired by a few new ideas, teachers are given resources to design the classroom of their dreams! Check out one of our most popular courses and earn 18 professional development hours for your creative ideas.

Tennessee Teachers Integrate Technology!google drive

The education industry is getting bombarded with all kinds of technology options for the classroom. As a result, choosing the correct technology is one of the more difficult tasks teachers must perform. In Tennessee, teachers are getting smart about finding and using the technology that fits their students’ best interests. Classroom tools and storage options, curriculum-based games and digital resources are what Tennessee teachers are using to enrich their classroom environment.

Techy Tools – Google Drive!

The tool of choice for Tennessee teachers seems to be Google Drive.  This web-based storage program allows users to create, edit and share files from any computer. The files they create can be saved and safely shared among users. There is an unlimited amount of free storage! Here is a snapshot of each program:

  • Google Docs – writing projects
  • Google Slides – presentations
  • Google Sheets – spreadsheets
  •  Google Forms – surveys

Teachers across the country can earn professional development hours while learning to use Google Drive. Just check out our Google Suite of courses: Docs, Sheets, Slides and see if these tools are right for your classroom.

Evaluating online resources:

Google Drive is an indisputably helpful tool.  But, there are lots of other technological resources out there which may be more questionable.  Searching for just the right websites can consume hours of valuable time.  Let the Common Sense Education website help you.  On it, you will find lists of technological resources rated by teachers. It is well-organized and has some great ideas on how to implement technology in the classroom.

The Common Sense Education site has become so useful to us, that we used it to develop our  Web Site Reviews courses. By taking these courses, teachers can earn 3 professional development hours while researching the latest technology resources for their classroom. See! Technology isn’t so scary!

Help us Help you!

The Teacher’s Academy is always looking for creative ideas to develop new courses. Our professional development courses are relevant, affordable and created by teachers like you! Have an idea for a course? Fill out a Contact Form! Or check out our course catalog to find a course that inspires your next great idea!

 

“Whoever is happy, will make others happy too.”

-Anne Frank

The Teacher’s Academy is honored to introduce our April Teacher Feature, Mrs. Lisa Mancini!

Fostering a love for reading at the middle school level can be a quite challenge.  Kids spend so much time immersed in the fast-paced world of technology that they often don’t have the patience required to appreciate classic literature.  We met one teacher who is able to use her students’ interest in technology to keep them motivated, curious, and persistent in the challenges that come with developing strong reading skills.  Simply put, she nurtures a good old-fashioned, love for reading.

Spark CuriosityMancini

The beauty of Mrs. Mancini’s teaching is that she is able to develop her students’ comprehension skills in such a subtle way that they become captivated before even beginning the book.

On the day I met Mrs. Mancini, she was introducing, “The Diary of Anne Frank” to her lively 7th grade students.  Before they were able to open the book, Mrs. Mancini used the website http://annefrank.org to allow her students to experience a virtual tour of the secret annex where Anne and her family hid for 3 years.

The realization of war and the occupation of the Nazi army in Holland were sub-topics that her students quickly picked up on.   They asked questions about Anne’s older sister who was called to report to one of the camps in Germany.  They wondered about how Anne’s friends must have felt when she just disappeared, unable to say goodbye.  They considered the risks taken by her father’s employees to keep the whole family hidden. In short, they were able to make the deep connections to the people and events in the book that are vital to reading comprehension.  Did you forget we were in English class?  I did!

Performing Arts and Reading…

Next step, reading!  Not reading from a textbook or even the diary, but from a scripted play.  Mrs. Mancini skillfully incorporates the performing arts to allow her students to further immerse themselves in the story.  The students have already chosen which characters they will portray.  They sit together, practicing their lines, while Mrs. Mancini helps to further define the characters.

 “I never thought I’d see the day where Mr. Frank goes into hiding.” She states to her students.  “What does that sentence tell you about Mr. Frank?”

The students discuss what they know of Mr. Frank’s character thus far and devise several responses:

“He’s a good person.”

“He’s trying to protect his family or else he wouldn’t have to go into hiding.”

 Mrs. Mancini offers a little more guidance. “What kind of people go into hiding?”

The enthusiasm in the room is palpable as students jump to chime in.

“Criminals!”

“Bad people, people who are wanted by the government.”

“Mr. Frank is not a bad person. That’s why no one can believe he has to go into hiding.”

“Exactly.” Mrs. Mancini smiles and leads her students into a discussion of the other 7 characters and some background information to help set the scene.

The kids have lots of questions.

 annefrank“Why are the names different in the video?”  One perceptive student asks.

 “Anne was afraid to get anyone else in trouble.  She knew if they were caught and the names of the people who shared the annex with her were in her diary, the Nazis would punish them too.”

Mrs. Mancini continues to explain why Mrs. van Pels has on 7 layers of clothing and a fur coat in July and why Peter might be happy to burn his Star of David, but Anne can’t seem to let hers go.  She points out how Mr. Frank, the eternal optimist, continuously tries to keep everyone’s moods elevated, even in the darkest of times.

Her students are comfortable with their characters and the play begins…

Foster A Love of Reading

Mrs. Mancini gives stage directions and supports the integrity of the play by encouraging her students to read their parts like true actors…

“Come on Zac! This is the perfect role for you! How would you act if your mom was embarrassing you?”

With Mrs. Mancini’s encouragement, Zac (reading the role of Peter) over-emphasizes the total embarrassment of having such a doting mother, “Pleeease Mother!” he says, with the dramatics of a seasoned professional.  The classroom erupts with laughter until the student playing Anne chimes in with her eloquent voice, evoking the energetic spirit of the real Anne Frank.

Mrs. Mancini’s students continue to have fun reading their parts. Mr. Frank, Margot, Mrs. Frank, Mr. and Mrs. van Pels, Peter, Mr. Pfeffer and of course, Anne, enjoy experimenting with voices and emotions, while the rest of the class encourages the actors to “stay in character.”

At the conclusion of the play, the students are directed to write about the characters.  Using laptops, they log into www.goformative.com. Mrs. Mancini hands out slips of paper with the names of two characters the students can describe.

Incorporating writing immediately after interactive visuals and a dramatic reading makes her students better equipped to respond.  They get to work right away, with very little discussion. Soon the classroom is filled with the clicking sounds of confident writers. Students are able to post their responses onto the common page where Mrs. Mancini can quickly read or share the comments.

At the end of class, students gather to sign up for characters to portray during tomorrow’s lesson.  “I’m going to read the role of Mr. Frank! I can’t wait until tomorrow!”  Chirps one enthusiastic student.

Kindness and Giving… Keystones of a Successful Teacher

“My favorite thing about teaching is having the chance to play a small part in so many lives. Knowing that I have had a role in the education of so many young lives is very powerful. I also love the opportunity to start again each fall; it gives me the opportunity to improve my craft and set new goals for myself.”

Even with a story as tragic as that of Anne Frank’s, Mrs. Mancini is able to find elements of life and joy that she then brings to her students.

Not only does this create strong readers, but it also develops compassion and interest in historical events that students may not have been able to connect to previously.  And, perhaps even more importantly, it demonstrates Mrs. Mancini’s ability to teach her students that to avoid hatred we must embrace kindness.

Mrs. Mancini performs her own acts of kindness in many different ways.  Along with her entire school community, she supports the Kelly Ann Dolan fund, which raises money for families of sick children. She organizes the Lee National Denim Day at her school, to raise money for breast cancer research.  She is one of the 7th grade team leaders, as well as backstage support during school plays.  She also serves as the CB Cares Boomerang Award Coordinator.  (A district-wide initiative to honor students for small acts of kindness.)

“I love helping students earn recognition for the great things they do each and every day.”

As a graduate of Bloomsburg University and a daughter of two teachers, Mrs. Mancini never dreamed of doing anything but becoming a teacher herself.  She was inspired to earn an additional certification in German by a very special, energetic 13 year-old girl, who also had a great love of writing.

“I LOVE reading. My love of reading turned into a love of writing.  I see the two going hand-in-hand. Good writers need to be good readers and vice-versa!”

Mrs. Mancini works with LearnZillion and the Louisiana Department of Education, writing curriculum guidebooks for teachers. She is also a Graphite Certified Educator, which gives her access to some really cool technology.  On first impression, she presents herself as quiet and modest, but don’t let that fool you! This 21st Century teacher loves to stay active! She is a competitive triathlete and a mixed martial artist. She has been fortunate to have support from some awesome people in her life in order to accomplish all of these amazing things.  Her husband and two children join her for adventures whenever they can. Each summer, the four of them escape to North Wildwood with her in-laws so they can be outside and hang with family and friends.

As an energetic teacher who loves to read and devotes herself to making this world a better place, Mrs. Mancini has some pretty high hopes for her own students…

“I want them to find something they love and go after it. I want them to know that great things are possible with hard work. I want them to know that they might fall down along the way, but there will always be a way to get back up and keep going.”

Thank you so much, Mrs. Mancini!  Anne could not have said it better herself.

Check out The Teacher’s Academy to find an array of affordable, convenient professional development courses. All courses are Act 48 Certified and accepted in most states. Click here to find a course that works for you!

A New Angle on Teaching Math with Ms. Zakuto

Teacher Feature, March 2016: Ms. Tammy Zakuto

What does it take to be a teacher today?

We expect a lot from our teachers these days. We want them to be… kind, but structured; Caring, but firm; Funny and smart. And a vibrant personality is only one Zakutocomponent of great teaching. We also expect our teachers to teach with passion and differentiate their lessons; Address different learning styles and teach the whole child; Teach, but guide students to make their own discoveries; and do this all for every child in the class.  Add to these great expectations a dash of never-ending curriculum content, and the ever-present standardized testing and you’ve got a recipe for a high-pressure, demanding public service. Teaching is not for everybody. It takes patience, self-discipline, personal drive, creative thought and a little sense of adventure. This month’s Teacher Feature, Ms. Tammy Zakuto, embodies these qualities of a great teacher and more…Just ask her third grade class!

zakuto quoteMs. Zakuto was nominated for a Teacher Feature by a peer that claims Tammy’s innovative teaching style, ability to differentiate lessons and desire to constantly challenge her students are what makes her worthy of celebration. By the end of my visit to Ms. Zakuto’s beach-themed classroom, I wholeheartedly agreed!

Is it possible to make math fun? Tammy thinks so! (And so do her kids!)

Measuring angles was today’s topic. Since I’m a Social Studies geek at heart, admittedly, I was a little worried that I might not find a good “angle” for this blog. I was skeptical that a lesson about teaching angles could showcase all of the wonderful things I had heard about Tammy and her teaching methods. I imagined I’d spend most of my time watching students breaking out protractors and measuring lines- the way that I was taught all those years ago. Simply put…things have changed. Math is cool. Measuring angles is fun. And I was wrong!

zakuto raise handsUsing Applied Learning to Tackle New Concepts

The students know it’s time for math when they see the three color-coded questions on the SMART® board. The green question indicates a review of their 3rd grade knowledge. Today’s question simply asks the students to identify the degree of the angle shown (90). The room is abuzz…everyone can do this one! They move on to the yellow question which is a bit harder and requires the students to apply what they already know (90 degree angles) to determine the size of another angle- one they haven’t seen yet. Ms. Zakuto remains encouraging, but does not reveal how to solve it. Most of her students have it and she still hasn’t given any instruction on how to do it. Next, everyone tackles the red question: Find the outside angle. Students are applying their knowledge to new situations- a few have the answer (without protractors) and their teacher still hasn’t told them how!

protractorAssociate and connect, and then associate some more, and then connect again…

Now, she will finally break out the protractors and tell them how to measure the angles- even those tricky outside angles, right? Wrong. Next is a lesson in understanding the degrees of the circle…without a protractor. Students understand the math right away. They pick up that 90 plus 90 is 180. But to bring it home, she takes it outside of math. With a little prodding, students start identifying elsewhere they hear these degrees. One sweet voice chimes in, “In my dance class, if we only turn half way around, we call it a 180.” Then another, “If I go all the way around on the bars in gymnastics, they call it a 360.” Then Tammy starts to jump and do ¼ turns and half turns so the students can see the degrees of a circle in a physical sense. “Who skateboards?” Ms. Zakuto asks. One boy raises his hand. “What do you call some of your tricks?”

“Well, on a skateboard, we do a 360. And if you can do it twice, it’s a 720.”

I could practically see the little neurons bouncing and connecting in these brains. She wasn’t really giving any answers. She was instead constantly building on previous knowledge, helping them connect the concepts to the world around them and watching them come to their own conclusions. It was beautiful! With this new understanding, the kids were able to figure out all sorts of angles now…and still no protractors!

Guide. Facilitate. Explore. Repeat

With a few more class examples, something special was happening. Students were beginning to see patterns. “Look! Every other one ends in a 5.” And, “I think it looks like a clock.” Or, “It looks like that thing we used in Art…a compass!” Finally, it was time. They were ready…Ms. Zakuto brought out the protractors. No longer a mysterious tool, or “rounded ruler thingy.” These guys understood the lines and the little numbers before she had to explain it. But to really get it and to go further with measuring different angles, a small-group instructional on the topic would’ve been ideal.


zakuto kidsSeparating into groups of 3 or 4, students spent the next 15 minutes in their math centers. Some were working on their choice of carpet-friendly math games, others explored an zakuto studentsintuitive math program on the Ipad. Another group worked playing Angle Kung Fu on the computer, and the rest were huddled around their teacher with protractors in hand in that coveted small-group instructional session. So this is how she does it! Differentiated instruction, addressing multiple intelligences and small group instruction were all rolled up into one lesson.zakuto laptop

What it takes to make the difference and affect student learning…

Great teachers have strong intuition. They need to read their students’ needs in that moment and make adjustments when situations change. I think it’s Ms. Zakuto’s passion for thrills, pushing limits and sense of adventure that foster her unique teaching methodologies. Students in Ms. Zakuto’s class are regularly pushed to challenge their minds and often given work that they may not see until next year. “If I sense they can go further, then I push them. I mean, why not?”

It takes a lot of prezakuto quote2paration to pull off this kind of learning experience and she does it…every day. It’s why her students love her classes, the parents see growth in their children, and her peers think she should be recognized by The Teacher’s Academy. Her daily lessons look seamless, and to the zakuto pickids it’s just another day at the beach. But to those who understand the depth of this craft and what it takes to make a difference in today’s education world, Ms. Zakuto is teaching at its best. Bravo, Tammy Zakuto. And thank you for surpassing today’s expectations of what every parent, child, administrator and colleague want in a teacher.

The Teacher’s Academy provides continuing education courses that meet Pennsylvania Act 48 requirements for busy teachers. Our online professional development courses are written by teachers so the content is relevant and the process is convenient.

 

Do you have a Rigorous Classroom?

Take this Teacher’s Academy quiz to find out if you teach with rigor.

Introduction

There’s a lot of buzz lately about integrating rigor into the classroom. There are workshops, webinars, articles and even blogs that define rigor for students and teachers. You’ve probably started to hear about rigor in your latest staff meetings, and if your state has adopted the hotly debated Common Core Standards, rigor is the new cornerstone of your lesson planning. But are you really infusing rigor into your curriculum? Are your students actually working rigorously? Take this quiz and see if you truly understand rigor in the classroom, and if your lessons and your students perform at a higher, more rigorous level!

1. Which of the following classes is an excellent example of a rigorous classroom?

a. An Honors Science class that requires a 20 page research report as their final exam.
b. An AP History class that coaches students to pass a college entrance exam.
c. An Algebra class that teaches students to use problem-solving strategies to analyze world hunger data they received in their social studies class.
d. A 4th grade class that assigns the most homework in the school.

“Rigor is the ability to solve complex problems and develop strategies to other content areas (Bogess 2007).” Since the adoption of No Child Left Behind in 2001, more attention is given to the way and the depth that teachers teach and students learn. It’s vital for us to compete in the global community, and according to test scores, the United States is falling behind. The quick fix for some teachers might be to assign more work. In the question Rigorous studentabove, all but one class focused on the amount of work the students had to endure. The correct answer is C. In the algebra class, students are using strategies taught and applying those strategies across the curriculum and to real world problems. Do you teach strategies that help students solve problems outside of your classroom? If so, you are teaching with rigor!

2. Which of the following teaching philosophies lends itself to incorporating rigor into the curriculum?

a. I believe all students can learn.
b. It is more important for students to respect than like their teacher.
c. I have high expectations for my students.
d. Fostering student effort is more important than high grades.
e. Both C and D.

High expectations are important and must include effort on the part of the learner (Wasley, Hampel and Clark , 1997). Most teachers believe all students can learn, and that’s a great teaching philosophy, but it doesn’t reflect the intent to teach with rigor. B is surprisingly a debatable topic to be discussed in another blog! The correct answer is E.students raising hands

Teaching with rigor requires the teachers to have high expectations of their students, and it requires effort on behalf of the student. It is up to the teacher to ignite that fire, so the student is compelled to work at a higher level, use more brain power, think harder and be ok with making a mistake. Do you have high expectations for your students? Do you celebrate effort over test scores? If so, you are teaching with rigor!

 3. Which of the following lessons is being taught with rigor?

a. After the science experiment, students will use primary sources to defend their findings.
b. Working collaboratively and utilizing the trends provided by NASDAQ, students will determine the best stock companies in which to invest for the next quarter.
c. After reading a passage from the classic Robinson Crusoe, students will refer to other literary texts and draw comparisons.
d. All of the above.

“Rigor would be used to say something about how an experience or activity is carried out and to what degree. Specifically, a ‘rigorous’ experience would be one that involves depth and care as, for example, in a scientific experiment or literary analysis that is done thoughtfully, deeply with sufficient depth and attention to accuracy and detail (Beane, 2001).” Memorizing facts is definitely an essential skill needed to get to deeper level thinking. Math facts, for example, must be drilled through a variety of practices until they become second nature. But this is not rigor. Once facts are established, what you and the students do with them sets the stage for rigor in the classroom. All of the lesson samples are examples of students using information that they comprehend and applying it to alternative situations. Do you give your students opportunities to deepen their understanding of basic concepts by analyzing data, comparing text or utilizing primary sources? If so, well done…that is a rigorous lesson!

 4. Which combination of classroom skills is considered “rigorous”?

a. memorize, explain, paraphrase
b. communicate, recall, comprehend
c. identify, paraphrase, solve
d. lead, collaborate, adapt

 “Rigor for the 21st century includes a focus on skills for life: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and leadership, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination (Wagner 2008).” Perhaps options A, B and C look familiar to you. They were taken straight out of Bloom’s Taxonomy. As mentioned earlier, the foundational skills of learning are important, but too many students, teachers, and districts stop there. The correct answer is D. Students must be given opportunities to utilize the concepts they’ve learned and apply them to other situations. Do your students get to lead, collaborate, adapt, initiate and analyze to stimulate their curiosity? If so, you’re providing a rigorous environment.

5. Which of the following is true about rigor in the classroom?

a. Teaching rigor does not require supporting the students. At this level, students should be able to adapt to a rigorous lesson.
b. When students demonstrate understanding of rigorous material, they should all come to the same answer using the same methods.
c. The best way to assess rigor is through testing.
d. A student may have to sit with a problem longer than others to develop deeper understanding of applying the concepts.

In a rigorous classroom, the teacher is the support, the motivation and the key to success for students. Rigor is higher level thinking; teachers must support students and guide them through questioning and analyzing material. Therefore, the answer cannot be A. If students are being guided to come to their own conclusions, it’s highly likely that they come to their solution through different means. Rigor includes providing a variety of ways that the student can comprehend information. Therefore, the answer cannot be B. Rigor cannot be assessed through standardized tests, unless these tests offer a variety of stacked booksopportunities to demonstrate comprehension. Rigor is best assessed through creative projects, discussion, and application. Therefore, the answer cannot be C. Rigor can be taught at all levels. If a student’s mental capacity requires them to sit with a problem longer than their peer needs to, the student sitting and working through the problem is experiencing rigor. Do you support your students as they work through difficult problems? Do you teach and encourage a variety of methods that lead to the same findings? Do you vary your tests and assessment strategies to incorporate analysis? Do you encourage students to sit with a problem until they get it? If so, you’ve got a pretty rigorous classroom!

So, what have you learned about rigor and your own classroom? As a teacher and life-long student, I believe there are always areas to grow and learn. Taking a good hard look at our own teaching philosophy, curriculum, lessons and methods can only put us on the path to being a better teacher.

Do you need more ideas? Check out our professional development course Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom.  Or check out how to integrate rigor in Teaching Math using Common Core Standards and Teaching Science using Common Core Standards.

At The Teacher’s Academy, we are always updating our courses to be the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development option. Check out our entire course catalog and get started renewing your certificate right away.