-->

4 Things you Didn’t Know about Exercise and Learning

4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Exercise and Learning!

It started with the physical education teachers screaming from the rooftops, but no one listened. The “Specials” classes and even recess were being cut to make room for more instructional time that would ideally raise test scores. Soon parents, students and teachers began noticing the continued decline in academic achievement, test scores and a rise in behavior issues. This is something our physical education teachers knew would happen! Today, there are new studies that support what our phys ed teachers have been trying to tell us, exercise stimulates the brain and improves learning.  Once again, the education world is seeing a shift in teaching strategies. Here are five things that we are just now discovering about how exercise and learning go together like peas and carrots!

#4: More than half of our youth do not meet the minimum requirements of daily exercise.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least one hour of moderate aerobic exercise every day. In addition, children (ages 10-17) should have an hour of high-intensity aerobic exercise and strength training. Most schools don’t have a physical education class for every student, and certainly not every day! Do your students meet the requirements by the CDC? Does your school even know what they are? Most likely not. PE, like other “specials” have been hit hard by the renewed push to increase test scores as students find most of their day spent in the classroom, with little time left in the schedule for the gymnasium or playground. Perhaps if administrators and board members were aware of the scientific benefits of exercise, the times would be switched!

#3: Recess increases cognitive development.

In a study called, The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment, showed that developed social and emotional behaviors have a direct influence on cognition. In other words, students that easily make friends, take on leadership roles, play creatively, include others, solve peer arguments, show empathy, control their anger and demonstrate other areas of social and emotional growth also have strong cognitive performance results. They score higher on standardized tests than students who are not socially and emotionally balanced. More importantly, it’s easier for these students to learn! Isn’t that the goal? What can we do to get our children to learn, retain and apply new information? According to the latest in brain research, the answer is exercise and movement.

#2: Our brains were designed for movement.

According to John Medina, a molecular biologist and research consultant, humans were not designed to sit at a desk all day. In fact, he states, “If you were to design an almost perfect anti-learning environment, it would look… like a classroom!

He reminds us that our ancestors were in constant motion. They would walk an average of 12 miles a day in search of food and shelter (Medina, 2014). Those who didn’t walk or at least keep up were likely the next meal for one of the many predatory animals with whom we shared the land. The connection between the mind and the body is stronger than we ever believed it to be in the past.

Ask yourself: Why do we have a brain?

If you answered: To think, Dr. Daniel Wolpert, a Neuroscientist, would disagree. He claims we have only one reason for the brain: “To produce adaptable and complex movements.” As evidence, he cites living things such as trees and plants. They have a life cycle, but they don’t move and therefore don’t need a brain. The brain is designed to be stimulated through exercise. In fact, advances in technology have made hunting food (grocery shopping), dancing for rain (watching the news) and making clothes (online shopping) too easy! As a nation, we’ve become inactive and our brains have not evolved to keep up with this sedentary lifestyle.

#1: Beyond improved cognition, exercise is vital to social and behavioral growth.

According to John Ratey, more than just academic performance is enhanced when physical movement is added to a daily regimen. Take a look at this list of benefits that exercise provides and see if any might apply to the students in your class!

Reduced Stress

  • Reduced test anxiety
  • Decreased symptoms of depression after 3 days of exercise
  • Improved adaptation to challenges in a changing environment
  • Decreased toxic effects of high levels of stress
  • Reduced neuronal death caused by chronic stress

Balanced Mood and Behavior

  • Improved attention, motivation, self-esteem, cooperation
  • Ameliorated learned helplessness
  • Improved resilience and self-confidence
  • Increased ability to withstand stress and frustration
  • Fewer behavior problems
  • Increased coping skills when presented with a new situation
  • Increased self-discipline and self-esteem
  • Reduction or elimination of the need for ADHD medications and antidepressants
  • Regulated mood through the natural balance of neurotransmitters
  • Regulated sleep patterns for increased alertness during school hours
  • Intrinsic sense of reward, motivation, and satisfaction
  • Impulse control
  • Joyful attitude
  • Increased state of happiness and life satisfaction

Improved Social Skills and Behavior

  • Lower levels of drug use in teens
  • Better family relationships
  • Noticeable improvement in key personal, social, cooperative, and communication skills
  • Improved attention, impulsivity, motivation, self-esteem, and cooperation

Classroom Teachers- Start Implementing Movement in your Classes Today!

The evidence is clear, plus kids love to move around in class…if you aren’t already, implement movement and exercise in your classes. Need some ideas? Our course, Move to Learn is an excellent resource for justifying and implementing movement in education. Plus, you can earn 18 hours of professional development!

The Teacher’s Academy for Professional Development

Visit The Teacher’s Academy for all your professional development needs. We are teachers writing courses for teachers to obtain relevant PD in a convenient and affordable platform. We are Act 48 Approved (PA), internationally accredited (IACET), and likely approved in your state for professional development. Check us out to learn more!

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, June 4). How Much Physical Activity should Children Get? Retrieved March 31, 2017, from CDC CEnters for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm

Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules. Pear Press; 2 Upd Exp edition.

Pellegrini, A. D., & Bohn, C. M. (2005, January/ February). The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Admustment. Research News and Comment, 34(1), 13-18. Retrieved March 30, 2017

Ratey, J. J. (2013). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little Brown and Company.

Wolpert, D. (2011, November). TedTalks. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from The Real Reason for Brains: https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains

 

 

 

The FAQs of Professional Development for Teachers

Move over in-service days, The Teacher’s Academy is here!

Teachers are voicing their concern over wasting time in a lecture or workshop that doesn’t

TTA

relate to their craft, and schools are listening and adapting to their needs. The full-day in-service model is slowly being phased out in many schools. Some schools are offering a menu of workshop options for the day. Even so, it’s difficult to develop an instructional day that meets every teacher’s needs. We all have different areas of expertise, teach different subjects and have different struggles with our students. Administrators are catching on and allowing many teachers to find their own outlet for professional development. The Teacher’s Academy was born from these concerns. We are the fastest growing professional development company in the nation and have recently taken our accreditation international! Thanks for supporting us, and feel free to share this information with any teacher looking to have more control over their professional development experience!

How does customized Professional Development work?

Recently, many teachers have been contacting us and asking how they can get their professional development requirements through The Teacher’s Academy. We hear questions like…

Are you approved in my state?

A: Most likely! Check your state page. If your state requires an approved provider, we are likely on that list! If it doesn’t, it’s usually up to the district or administrator of the school. In that case, you can complete the Request for Approval form.

Do I get a certificate when I’m finished?  

A: Yes! And a Projects Feedback form for your records!Certificate

How do I submit my hours to the state?

A: In PA, we submit the hours for you! In other states, just print and submit your certificate (Certificates are customized to include all required criteria requested by your state).

How long does it take to complete a course?

A: It depends on two things: 1) The length of the course you chose (3, 6, 15, or 18 hour courses usually take close to the time specified, and 2) Your expertise in the subject matter. If you are a whiz at Microsoft Word, that 15-hour course may not take you the entire 15 hours. (Rest assured, you still get 15 hours of PD for taking it!)

Why does it take 5-7 business days to get my results?

A: Teachers are sometimes surprised to hear that real teachers (Yes, live humans!) are reviewing your course work and responding to questions. You will notice that the course projects are not easily assessed with a computer-generated multiple choice quiz. Teacher’s Academy course projects and assessments are varied for a variety of learners. (We practice what we preach!) Therefore, teachers, not computers, are the MOST effective tool we have for providing excellent service and support to our clients.

 What is the process of completing a course through The Teacher’s Academy?

A: It’s simple and we will spell it out for you in five simple steps!

 1.      Create an account at The Teacher’s Academy

Our teachers will use their accounts to upload coursework and maintain their records of completed courses.

 2.      Choose a Course

We offer courses in 3, 6, 15 and 18 hour increments. If you need just a few hours or all 180, we can help you! The Teacher’s Academy has a wide variety of topics ranging from technology to trends in teaching strategies to nutrition and mindfulness. Every course is designed by teachers for teachers!  Keep checking back, the Teacher’s Academy posts 3-5 new courses every year!

Roasted Thanksgiving TurkeyIMG_7716paint handsmindfulness pic

3.      Purchase the course and get started right away!

Once a payment has been processed, the course is sent to your email inbox immediately! You can start and finish your course at your own pace. J

The course text and most accompanying files are send in PDF format. Files are named in numerical order so you know where to begin. You will notice that you are not tied to your computer to complete the course! Teacher’s love that they can even print the course if they want! It’s also comforting to know that live support is a simple phone call or email away! We are here to help. J

 4.      Upload the Coursework

Once you have finished ALL projects required in the course, you are ready to submit them for review. Every course has specific instructions on uploading projects to your Teacher’s Academy account.

 5.      Final Project: Participant Evaluation Survey

The final step in completing your coursework is to complete the online Participant Evaluation Survey. This survey alerts the Teacher’s Academy Review Team that you have finished your course and it is ready to be reviewed. Within 5-7 business days (and usually earlier), you will receive a certificate of completion and Projects Feedback form from The Teacher’s Academy.

The Participant Survey might be the end of the course process for our teachers, but it is the beginning of the process for The Teacher’s Academy!

How does the Teacher’s Academy keep their courses innovative and relevant?

Every single idea, piece of advice, criticism and compliment is read and reviewed by the teachers at The Teacher’s Academy. Our team takes that feedback and uses it to create new courses or edit our current catalog. Many of our courses like, Nutrition, Mindfulness and our suite of Google and Microsoft courses came from teachers who gave us the idea on the Participant Evaluation Survey. As a matter of fact, we have tons of artists to add to our Rock History course when that gets edited later this year. We also have some cool updates for our Web Review and Tech courses, thanks again to the feedback and suggestions from our teachers.

I want to learn more about The Teacher’s Academy!

Teachers can find most of the answers to these and other questions on our About Us or FAQs pages. We take great pride in how we can help teachers earn professional development hours quickly with relevant content, so they can get back to providing excellent instruction to their students.

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.

Top 5 Take-Aways from the Pennsylvania Education and Technology Conference

The Pennsylvania Education Technology Expo and Conference was very special to The Teacher’s Academy this year. Not only did we get to see lots of familiar faces and meet new teachers, we were honored to be able to present a small section of our Mindfulness in Education course.

Throughout the conference, we received tons of great teaching tips, advice and tech tools that teachers swear by. Now it’s time for us to share the best of the best with you! Check out our Top 5 Take-Aways from PETE this year…

5: Words of Wisdom

Teachers were eager to share their favorite philosophies and quotes that keep them motivated from September to June! Here are our favorites:

  • “Kindness 1st!” -Rianna, Sayne School District
  • “Always be willing to learn from your students.” -Amanda, Derry Township School District
  • “Show students it’s okay to make a mistake or that things go wrong. Adjust and reset, that’s how we learn.” -Dom, New Brighton Area High School
  • “If you take care of yourself, you can better help each other.” -Kevin, Garnet Valley School District

 4: Mindfulness Apps
comp

As Mindfulness continues to make waves in public education, curious teachers may want to try out some mindful practices on their own before bringing these strategies to their students. Fair warning: Learning Mindfulness may change the way you live! Here are some of our favorite Mindfulness Apps:

  • Insight Timer.com Download this app to your mobile device for instant connections to group meditations, poetry readings, and more. The timer feature allows you to set your meditation time, background music, and peaceful meditation sounds. So nice!
  • Smiling Mind.com au A non-profit seeking to make mindfulness accessible to all. Take a survey to assess your current state and find recommended meditations based on the results. Their programs are designed for ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, etc. Included on the site is a meditation/ mindfulness tracker.
  • Buddhify.com For meditations on the go! Choose what’s happening in your life at the moment and find a 6-14 minute meditation for it: Traveling, difficulty sleeping, or just simple meditation- it’s all there!

3: Video Resourcescamera

  • YouTube You Tube is a dumping ground for all kinds of educational videos, movie clips, inspirational talks, tutorials, etc. Did you know that you can create your own playlist of saved videos and subscribe to helpful channels? (It’s not just for looking up old 80s rock videos anymore!)
  • Snip for MS Windows This is an easy-to-use feature for MS users. You can create your own screen casting video or convert your PowerPoint Slide Show into a video! You can even annotate on the screen and record your voice to customize your videos- and it’s free! Look for our new course on Mix to be released in 2017!
  • PBS Learning Media  A familiar site for many teachers, PBS Learning Media provides quick clips of historically accurate videos. Science news, as well as tutorials for English and Math concepts provide another way for teachers to differentiate learning, and for students to achieve deeper understanding of content.
  • Do Ink Your students will have a blast creating their own videos using a green screen backdrop. They can use pictures, video, or design their own graphics to create and retell stories or present information. Visit the tutorial page to see how you can use this in your own classroom.

2: Newest Apps

Do your lesson apps need an update? Are you just starting to integrate apps in your classroom instruction? Check out these tested and favorite apps submitted from both teachers and students.

  •  Epic! Encourage young readers with instant access to an extensive library for free! Audio and Spanish versions are available too! Anyone else can join for about $5 per month.
  • Seesaw Remember when students would keep all of their work in a folder? Using Seesaw, they can keep all of their work on an interactive, online folder that can be shared with teachers, family and peers. This is a great time management tool for teacherkidscomps and an empowerment tool for students.
  • Newsela This news source for students provides information on the latest scientific discoveries, political issues, weather, current events, etc. Students can use the information to write their own summary and teachers can use the quiz tool to assess. Stories are written in Spanish and English for students interested in learning another language. Lots of ways to differentiate instruction too!
  • MobyMax This is an educational tool designed to find specific gaps in student learning and then “fix” the gaps with differentiated instruction and motivational tools. Reading, writing, science and social studies content are covered. There is even a test prep tool!

1: Mindfulness in Education Workshop

This is particularly special because The Teacher’s Academy presented, Unplug: Mindful Practices that Work for 150 technology teachers! Our presenter, Maggie Haflett, was overwhelmed with gratitude for the immediate and eager acceptance of this new (to education) practice. Teachers came to this conference thirsty for the latest and greatest in technology, but came out of that workshop with a renewed appreciation for slowing down and fostering our abilities to focus more.

We want to thank all of the teachers who attended the conference for their support and promotion of Mindfulness in Education. To learn more about this practice and get 18 hours of PD, click here!

There were so many great ideas, it was impossible to fit them all into this blog. In fact, we are inspired to write another course to showcase what we learned from you! Look for another website review course to be released later this year. It will contain more suggestions from our PA teachers as well as our teachers from Michigan, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia, South Dakota, Tennessee and Colorado!

The Teacher’s Academy is honored to provide high-quality, relevant and affordable professional development courses for busy teachers. Visit our website to view a complete listing of courses in our course catalog.

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.

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!

 

The Best Teacher-Generated Ideas of 2016

The Best Teacher-Generated Ideas of 2016

The teachers at The Teacher’s Academy are lucky enough to meet hundreds of teachers every week from all over the country.  Even if we don’t actually have the pleasure of getting to know all the teachers in person, reviewing their coursework gives us a window into their creative minds.

Each week, projects are uploaded for our Review Team to assess and award professional development hours.  Our professional development courses emphasize teacher creativity and customization of the projects so that teachers get a chance to develop something functional. As a result, we get to see fantastic lesson plans, design projects, video creations, hands-on activities and countless other completed assignments from some extremely talented teachers. Not only do we get to see what these teachers can create for their own professional use, we also get a peek inside classrooms all over the country.

We’ve gathered a few of these amazing ideas for you to check out:

 New York Teachers Emphasize the Arts!

Leave it to New York teachers to incorporate the arts into their classrooms! The Common Core Standards have allowed teachers the freedom to choose the medium in which to deliver instruction. Music happens to be the choice of many New York teachers.music note

These high-interest activities are designed to engage students in learning and developing critical analysis and writing skills. They also lend themselves to teaching literary devices such as rhyme, personification, metaphors, similes and more. See for yourself which ones you may like to try in your own classroom:

Critique Writing – Students are able to choose a song to critique. After careful examination of the lyrics, students read other critiques of the song. The final project is an in-depth, written critique of the song.

Song Development – Students are given the opportunity to craft their own lyrics to music. They are able to listen to several samples of instrumentals and poetry. Students are responsible for a written reflection of the symbolism of the lyrics, and their connection to the song, as well as the completed song. Presentation of song could be optional!

Album Cover Design Students are given samples of albums. They are asked to pick a theme for the album and then create 12-16 original song titles that fit the theme. The final project is a completed (front and back) album cover and a written essay that explains the design and song titles and how they are connected to the students’ life and/or other current events being studied.

Oregon Teachers Create Future Engineers!

A few Oregon teachers have figured out a cool way to emphasize “Engineering” in their K-kids computer5 curriculum. STEM is becoming more commonplace in many classrooms around the country. Much of the activities students are doing are focused on Science, Technology and Math concepts. Even engineering strategies are ideal for young learners. See if you can imagine your students turning into creative engineers with these activities:

 Bridge Building – Oregon students are super engaged when their job is to solve a problem by building a bridge. Students are given a scenario where a bridge needs to be built to connect two important things. They could be asked to connect a mama duck to her baby ducks, kids to their tree forts or villages to each other. Real world problems could be introduced as scenarios too! After analyzing different types of bridge structures, students work in small groups to design and test their own bridges. Students learn about forces, motion and balance and how bridges redirect those forces. Pretty soon you’ll have some really smart civil engineers in your classroom! Check out Engineering is Elementary for more cool engineering ideas.

 Engineer Exploration –Free access to the Engineering Go for it website allows students to discover the many different engineering careers. After exploring the different types of engineers, students choose one to write about and present the information to the class. Real-world connections with engineering careers make dream jobs like working on a movie set or exploring shipwrecks a real possibility for students!

Colorado Teachers Encourage Problem-Solving!

Curiosity is the name of the game for these lucky students. The many benefits of Inquiry-based learning have not gone unnoticed in this state.  By starting a lesson with a question or a problem, students become engulfed in the process of finding a solution. See if you can expand a few of your lessons to include these Inquiry-based approaches:

Town Improvement –Young learners in Colorado were asked the question: How would you make your town better? Each student was given a variety of picture books to reference helpful places in a community, such as schools, hospitals, post offices, police colorado signstations, farm land, restaurants, stores, housing, etc. They were also given books that depict fun activities like playing at a play ground, gardening, fishing, playing sports, doing arts and crafts, etc. A teacher-led discussion using the picture books helped to guide students to answer the question.  The conversation naturally turned to focus on what things might need to be fixed in their towns such as empty lots, damaged streets, broken streetlights, dangerous intersections, etc. The teacher listed the “good” and “bad” items on a chart for students to use as a reference. Students were then asked to draw their towns and all of the things they believed would make their town better.

Heroic Traits – Colorado students in the middle grades were asked the question: What makes a hero? Students used characters in the books as well as real people to develop a list of traits. Each student was asked to design a hero by listing physical, mental and emotional traits. Afterwards, students developed a presentation for an audience of teachers and parents to present their results. Every student had a completely different idea of what made someone a hero. Some heroes wore uniforms while others were in wheelchairs. Some heroes were very old, some were very young, but all contained the traits of what these students believe makes a hero.

Not all inquiry-based questions need to involve math or science! Check out these great resources for inquiry-based lessons: Edutopia.org and Teachthought.com.

 For even more ideas…

Look for more great ideas from across the nation in our next blog! We will include ideas from Texas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and more!

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.

 

3 Strategies that Engage Students

(That You Probably Haven’t Tried!)

Finally summer is here! With this school year safely in the rear-view mirror, teachers will have plenty of time to reflect on what worked and what will need to be improved upon for the coming year. Keeping students engaged in learning can be a struggle at any point during the year. Having a variety of ways to reengage students can be the difference between a good year and a frustrating one. (This applies to both you and your students.)

Luckily, student engagement is a problem with a wide range of solutions to choose from and fairly easy methods of implementation. Do you already employ these strategies? Take a moment and see if you are doing what some experts recommend and if not, take advantage of the insight from experienced teachers…These strategies work to get and keep students engaged- and their teachers too!boy with a lantern

1. Project-Based Learning (PBL)

In a PBL classroom, the students create projects as a way of demonstrating knowledge. Students are given a real-world problem or question and then given the tools and support to find a solution or answer. The students are responsible for the research, design and presenting the solution to the audience. The teacher acts as a facilitator, guiding the processes and using embedded assessment practices to monitor progress.  In many cases, an expert in the field will come in to help guide the students as well. The expert acts as another resource for students as well as a strong connection to the real world problems that need solving. Solutions are often presented to an audience with the intent to implement. Students get an extra boost of motivation when they know their hard work is for more than just a grade!

In other words, take the subject matter and apply the lesson to real-world problems. For example, my second graders this year were learning about recycling. In the old days, we would read about recycling in a book and then take a class on what we read. In my class, however, we take a trip through our school to go through the class trash cans at school! (Ewe…Gross! And the kids love it, and they talk about it at lunch, and eventually it becomes “one of those projects you get to do in 2nd grade!”) After collecting some interesting things, we examine and determine what can be reused, recycled, or replaced with a better option.

Of course a lesson like this comes with a little extra preparation, like getting gloves for the kids, asking teachers for cooperation in advance and reminding the students to wash hands afterwards! But the lasting effects of a project-based learning experience is worth it!

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement project-based learning activities in your classroom: EdutopiaThe Teaching ChannelLesson PlanetTeach Thought

2. Genius Hour

This strategy, brought to our attention by Genius Hour.com, is a great example of how Young man using laptopeducation can look to industry for engaging. Employees at Google® get to spend 20% of their time, working on a project of their choice. The results have been impressive. During this “free time,” employees use their interest and expertise to solve problems, make processes more efficient or develop new software. It’s where Gmail was born! You might be thinking, “Yeah, well, those are professionals with a secure set of expertise. I’ve got a room full of silly 6th graders!” Even Google had to put a few parameters on the 20% time and you will too. Even so, it’s proven to be incredibly successful.

Many middle level and high school teachers have already adopted this philosophy, and their students are able to spend 20% of their class time working on solutions that are of interest to them. Genius Hour starts with a driving question or problem. The question or problem, although chosen by the student, must have a level of complexity that would require research. Once the teacher and student agree on the question or problem, the student uses a variety of different resources to try to answer the question or solve the problem.  Finally, the solution is shared with an audience. Many times, these solutions are posted on a shared site for anyone to view. This strategy develops independent learning skills, fosters creative thinking and brings fun back into learning.

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement Genius Hour activities in your classroom: Mind in BloomTeach Thought

3. Makerspaces

Makerspaces are small, dedicated spaces in a common location, usually a library or an empty classroom. In a makerspace, students can tinker around with almost anything of interest: Legos®, Kinex®, clay, blocks, circuit boards, craft items, gardening, health, etc. These spaces do not require any type of technology and can be tied to the curriculum. Students can learn about a math or science concept and then create something that represents what they’ve learned. Some Makerspaces have 3-D printers on hand for transferring the concept into a tangible item. Of course, students can share their creations with teachers, other students or the rest of the world. Expect to see an increase in student engagement, determination and creativity after a Makerspace has been implemented in your school.F

Makerspaces can be found in New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Ohio classrooms to name a few! Hopefully, some of these strategies will find their way into many more classrooms across the country.

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement Genius Hour activities in your classroom: Makerspaces.comEdutopia, How the Maker Movement Connects Students to Engineering and TechYou Tube, What is a Makerspace?

Where to get even more great resources for professional development:

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for some more great ways to keep teachers and students engaged all year long. Need to get caught up on those professional development requirements? Get them done this summer! The Teacher’s Academy is the place most teachers look to help maintain their certifications or fulfill teaching license renewals. Not sure if your district will accept TTA courses? Check out the Find your State Page and see if we can help. (We probably can!)

The Teachers at The Teacher’s Academy want to wish all of our amazing teachers and fun, safe and happy summer!

The Best of Summer Education Conferences

Summer is just around the corner! Are you dreaming of some much needed pool-time, ice-cream-eating, back-yard BBQ fun? We are! After you’ve packed up your last classroom box and sent off your final report card comments, you will be free to relax and recharge for the next two months.  While you enjoy the “relaxing,” we’ve got you covered for ideas for “recharging.”

Education conferences are a great way to recharge! They provide a forum for meeting some of the most influential people in education and help you to gather new ideas and inspiration for your future classroom.  However, because there are a variety of educational conferences planned in cities all over the country, it can be difficult (and time-consuming) to choose the one best suited to your interests.

No worries! The teachers from The Teacher’s Academy have organized a list of high quality, worth-the-trip, educational conferences planned for this summer.  Our list of conferences includes: location, dates, theme, keynote speakers, a sampling of sessions and a link to the website for more information. Enjoy this quick glimpse of the most popular educational conferences and find the best way for you to recharge!

ASCD Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.35.23 AM
Hilton New Orleans Riverside, New Orleans, LA
Theme: Teaching Excellence
July 8-10

Keynote Speakers:

  • Andrew Miller, Education Consultant for ASCD
  • Darlene Axtell, Teacher, Counselor, Presenter for ASCD
  • Carol Ann Tomlinson, Teacher of the Year, recipient of All-University Teaching Award and best-selling author
  • Erik Powell, Teacher, Curriculum Designer, ASCD faculty
  • Nicole Clifton, Instructional Leader, Author

 Highlights of the ASCD conference:

  • Expand your professional skill set.
  • Target your learning needs.
  • Uncover teacher-proven secrets.
  • Cultivate relationships with colleagues and experts.
  • Advance your career.

Sample of Sessions:

  • Designing Project-Based Learning Activities for Rigorous Learning
  • Designing Lessons with Student Engagement in Mind
  • Improving School Culture to Improve Student Achievement
  • Creating a Classroom Environment Focused on the Whole Child
  • Lesson Planning for Creative and Critical Thinking Skills
  • NOLA as a Classroom: Travel as a Resource for Excellent Education

For more information visit the ASCD website.

 

NAESP National  Association of Elementary School Principals naesp
The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, MD
Theme: Best Practices for Better Schools
July 6-8

Keynote Speakers:

  • Daniel Goleman, Psychologist and Author
  • Dr. Russell Quaglia, President of Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations
  • Pedro Noguera, Urban Sociologist

Highlights of the NAESP conference:

  • Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities 
  • High Leverage Leadership (Practices for 21st Century Principals)
  • Emerging Issues (Game Changers in Education)
  • Transforming Schools (Equality & Equity)
  • Arts Education (Spotlight on the “A” in STEAM for 21st Century Learning)
  • Technology and Social Media (Curriculum Integration, Digital Tools, & Communication Strategies)

 Session Samples:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders at School: Life Literacy and the Pursuit of Content
  • Band of Brothers: A Focus on Making Good Boys Great Young Men
  • Cultivating Creative Thinkers, Innovators and Masters of Core Content Through Design Thinking
  • Diggin’ Deep: What Matters Most for Student Results
  • Connecting Learners to Schools: Building a Culture that Engages and Supports Student Learning

 Note: This conference might be geared towards principals, but there are plenty of workshops for everyone.

For more information visit the NAESP website.

 

ISTE  International Society for Technology in Educationiste
The Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO
Theme: Educational Technology
June 26-29

 Keynote Speakers:

  • Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physicist and host of TV specials on: The Science Channel, The History Channel, BBC and The Discovery Channel
  • Ruha Benjamin, Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.
  • Michelle Cordy, Inspirational 3rd Grade teacher from London, Ontario

Highlights of the ISTE Conference:

  • Experience the latest learning technologies.
  • Explore interactive teaching technologies that enhance creativity and learning.
  • Network with like-minded educators at the after-hours ISTE Campfires. These organic, participant-driven learning experiences, organized by topic, are designed for learning and sharing in an open environment.

Sample Sessions:

  • iPad for Early Learners: Create and Collaborate
  • Filmmaking for Teachers
  • The Essentials of Online and Blended Learning
  • A Day in the Life of a Google Classroom

For more information visit the ISTE website.

 

TCEC Texas Career Education Conferencetcec
Forth Worth Convention Center, Ft. Worth, TX
Theme: Career and Technical Educators
July 25-28

Keynote Speakers:

  • Adam Braun, Best selling author and Founder of Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools in poverty-stricken areas around the world
  • Mick Normington, Author and expert in understanding the types of skills needed in today’s work place

Highlights of the TCEC conference:

  • Explore the latest trends in Career and Tech Education.
  • Get advice from experts in the field on improving your program and instruction.
  • Network and connect with other teachers in the field.

Sample of Sessions:

  • Can I Use Your Pen? No! Go Make Your Own!
  • Learning Games: Anatomy and Physiology
  • New Teacher Orientation: Arch & Construction, Arts & A/V, Info Tech, Manufacturing and STEM
  • Claymation Basics
  • Bringing Cytogenics into the Classroom
  • Work Based Learning Training for Career Preparation/Practicum Programs

Note: This conference is specifically geared for career and technical educators like: Administrators, Counselors, Business/Finance Teachers, Marketing Teachers, Health Science Teachers, Manufacturing Teachers, Architecture Teachers, STEM Teachers, Arts, A/V and Communication Teachers

For more information visit the TCEC website.

 

Campus Technologycampus technology
Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA
Theme: Education Technology Conference
August 1-4
 

Keynote Speakers:

  • Richard DeMillo, Executive Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities
  • Stephen Downs, Program Leader, Learning and Performance Support Systems
  • Amy Collier, Associate Provost for Digital Learning Middlebury College

Highlights of the Campus Technology conference:

  • Experience interactive, education workshops that focus on the advancement of educational institutions.
  • Discover innovative solutions to drive student success.
  • Develop new teaching and curriculum models to align with 21st century conditions.
  • Meet the pioneers who are revolutionizing the field of education.

Sample of Sessions:

  • Virtual Reality and the Future of Learning
  • Spruce up Your Campus Learning Spaces without Breaking your Budget
  • Coalescing Data-driven Student Lifecycle Solutions in Higher Education
  • Technology Trend Panel: Strategic Planning in an Era of Transformative Change
  • From Zero to Hero: Setting Up a 3-D Printing Infrastructure
  • Digital Learning for Arts Education

For more information, visit the Campus Technology website.

 

The Teacher’s Academy is a company created by teachers for teachers. We are an approved provider of Act 48 Hours in Pennsylvania and Continuing Education Units in Texas. We also offer ACSI hours for our Christian schoolteachers across the country.  We provide professional development hours for busy teachers in most states like Oregon, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, etc.   Find your state page on our website!

 

We hope you have fun checking out these conferences, but we really hope you have more fun relishing all that summer break has to offer.  Enjoy, teachers!

“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!

10 Ways Your Class Can Help Save the Earth

Make room for environmental education!sunflower

Environmental concerns will have a huge impact on our students’ futures.  And, yet, with so many mandated assessments and time constraints, teachers often feel forced to focus most of the school day on reading and math lessons. Remember, administration wants us to teach our students how to read, write, and do math but generally, there is room for creative content. Environmental awareness is a theme that can easily be integrated into the day’s lessons and still meet performance objectives of even the strictest standards.

Studies have shown that a lack of environmental education comes at a detriment to our students.  Learning about the environment is not only important on a global scale, it can have a profound effect on the future of each child.  The No Child Left Inside Organization has found that Environmental Education (1) Increases student success across the curriculum by integrating literature and math into meaningful lessons; (2) Improves the overall health of students by getting them outside and moving, and (3) Provides them with critical tools for the 21st century workplace.

Earth Day is the perfect time to start making environmental education an integral part of your classroom curriculum.  Here are 10 creative, fun ideas that will get your class excited about this amazing planet of ours.

Celebrate and protect our earth with these incredible resources!

1. Have a party! Cookouts are a great way to celebrate the springtime warming of the earth.  Even better if you can make them a learning experience for your students.  Scholastic’s “Host a Solar Cookout” Lesson combines math, science, and community involvement to give kids an in-depth understanding of solar energy.  Students will learn about the importance of renewable energy, sun safety, and engineering, all while creating tasty treats to be enjoyed with their friends and community members.

2. Start a compost pile! School lunches and snacks generate a ton of waste.  Allow students to witness firsthand how “garbage” can be turned into valuable organic soil which can then be used in school gardens, or even sold to raise money for class projects.  Organic Lesson provides a clear, colorful guide to composting to help you get you started.farmer

3. Host a swap! We all have things that we don’t need or use anymore.  Holding a classroom swap shows kids how what might seem like trash to them, can be treasure to someone else…. And it’s a ton of fun!  Planet Pals has some good tips on how you can use a swap to teach kids about conservation and upcycling.

4. Take the Catalog Cancel Challenge! Over 19 billion catalogs are sent out yearly and less than 2% are used.  This unnecessary waste results in the destruction of thousands of trees, the use of billions of gallons of water, and an enormous amount of pollution.  The Catalog Cancel Challenge has already saved 1,400 trees and 1.4 billion gallons of water.  Check out their website to see how your classroom or school can join and do your part to save the earth.

5. Conduct a role play! Role plays create an opportunity for students to do research and have meaningful conversations about environmental issues.  They help build communication skills and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.  Asia Society offers two excellent lesson plans to help you bring environmental role-play into your classroom.

turtle6. Adopt a Species! We are experiencing the worst species extinction rate since the time of dinosaurs.  Up to 99% of these extinctions are caused by human activity.  If nothing is done to stop this, as many as 30-50% of all species could be extinct by mid-century. These are alarming statistics.  Fortunately, there are things we can do to slow down this mass extinction. Learning to Give provides a lesson plan that shows how you can make adopting an endangered species a meaningful class project.

7. Make something interesting!  Science teachers add the extra challenge of creating the rube Goldberg with items found in nature! Nature is full of beautiful and unique items. A simple hike outside can get your creative juices flowing to revamp a lesson to include flowerMother Nature’s gifts. Want specific ideas? Tinker Labs has collected an incredible list of online resources you can use to create a wide variety of things using objects found in nature.

8. Cut down on packaging! Packaging accounts for a large amount of the waste that we create. Doing a self-audit can really help students become aware of excessive packaging and ultimately empower them to purchase without such waste. These are the types of lessons that trickle home and have the greatest impact. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has created a lesson plan that helps kids understand the dangers of excessive packaging and some key waste reduction techniques that they can employ in their own homes.

9. Learn about sustainability! Population growth is a crucial component to many of the environmental issues we face today.  Population Education provides a wealth of resources to help your students understand how we can create a sustainable living environment for our growing world.  Their website offers comprehensive packets of lesson plans for various age groups that can be used on Earth Day or any day!Garden 2

10. Grow a garden! Whether you have a big or small, indoor or outdoor, space available… School gardens offer an interactive, authentic way to get your students involved in nature.  The Teacher’s Academy offers an online course that will show the basics of creating a classroom garden, as well as how to use gardening to create meaningful, interdisciplinary lessons.

The Creating a School Garden Course is only one of the many valuable courses that the Teacher’s Academy offers.  All of our course fulfill Pennsylvania Act 48 requirements and can provide you an economical, convenient way to earn professional development courses from home.  Sign up for your first class today!