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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
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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.

Important Black Leaders To Introduce To Your Class Year-Round

BlackHistory_pstrSince 1976, American educators have officially recognized February as Black History month.  However, if February is the only time you mention the contributions of people of color in your classroom, then it’s time to reevaluate. Black history is integral to the story of America, a history that has for too long been skewed to reflect a white European perspective. And, while most Americans are familiar with the names of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, there are many other African American leaders who made an enormous impact on our country’s history.

Below you’ll find a short list of some of these leaders and suggestions of how to incorporate their contributions into your curriculum.  Remember that the lessons that are most meaningful to students are those that are given all year long, not just during one designated month.

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Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a writer and social activist.  He was particularly known as an innovator of jazz poetry and for his role in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s.  Hughes was one of the few black writers at the time to express pride in his heritage.  He wrote of both the joys and the pain of being black in America. Check out  Read, Write, Think for a in-depth lesson centered around his poetry.

Samuel Kountz (1930-1981) grew up in one of the poorest towns in the poorest state of Arkansas.  Although the odds were against him, Kountz became the first African American to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School. He was a pioneer in the field of organ transplants. And, in 1961, he performed the first kidney transplant between a recipient and a donor who were not identical twins. Consider using Samuel Kountz on this timeline lesson about American inventors.

Fredrick Dougwho_is_fdlass (1818-1895) was an escaped slave who became a leader of the Abolitionist Movement, eventually rising to power as the first African American to hold a high US government rank. Besides fighting for equal treatment for African Americans, he was also a champion of women’s rights. In 1848, he was the only African American to attend the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Urban Dreams has created a lesson plan that ties the biography of Fredrick Douglas to lessons about freedom and social development.

Emmet Chappelle (1925- ) is recognized as one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists of the 20th Century.  His work was primarily in the field of medicine, philanthropy, food science, and Astrochemistry. Some of Chappelle’s most influential advancements were in luminescence, or, light without heat. He was able to show how satellites can monitor luminescence levels to monitor the growth rate and harvest timing of crops.   Laser Classroom has an interesting lesson about fluourescence that can be linked to a study of Chappelle’s contributions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) grew up in the streets of NYC. His difficult childhood fueled an anger in him that he channeled towards graffiti art. His cutting edge artwork propelled him to the forefront of the Neo-Expressionist movement. Graffiti Art provides a lesson plan to show students how artists like Basquiat make art accessible to everyone.

Faith Ringgold (1930 -) is a Civil Rights activist, author, and artist.  Her s999b787fd04a50ea2772189b9955c105eries of paintings-American People-capture the racial tensions of the Civil Rights Era.  Her gorgeously illustrated book, Tar Beach, gives a unique perspective of Harlem in the 1930’s through the eyes of a young girl. Here you will find a rich series of lesson plans geared towards grades 3-5 about Ms. Ringgold’s work that integrates reading, writing, social studies, and art.

Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) was a singer, songwriter and music producer. He helped shaped Motown, a rMarvinGayeecord company owned by African Americans that played an important role in the racial integration of popular music. His hit song, What’s Going On was a reaction to police violence towards protestors marching against the Vietnam War. What’s Going On Now is an excellent project that uses history and music to compare the time period that Marvin Gaye sang about to current day issues.

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to provide affordable, convenient Professional Development courses for educators. Our Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom course features a TED talk by Rita Pierson, a prominent African American teacher and speaker. Check out this class and many others in our course catalog!

Tips for Dealing with Disruptive Students

The amount of demands placed on us teachers can be overwhelming.  Amongst other things, we are expected to keep test scores high, please our administrators, and run a productive, orderly classroom… not to mention develop good relationships with students and parents.

Even with a classroom of pefunny teenager girl mad about school with blackboard backgroundrfect students (does such a thing exist?) these goals can be difficult to achieve. But, when you are presented with one or more students who are consistently disruptive, it becomes almost impossible to meet your goals.

Fortunately, there are many resources to assist you.  Here are a few of the most helpful tips and online resources to manage students who can be disruptive and keep your classroom moving smoothly.

6 Tips for Dealing with Disruptive Students

 1. Set your expectations early.  Work with students to create a list of classroom rules and consequences very early in the year.  Make the list brief and to-the-point so students do not get overwhelmed. One code that has been proven succes3260607785_8a630d847d_bsful is  Effective Behavior Support. The basic tenements are that all staff recognize and abide by the same set of expectations for students.  These expectations are explicitly taught to students and reinforced with consistent praise and rewards. The Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice is an excellent resource for help implementing this program.

2. Treat all students with respect and compassion.  This is not always easy. We are human.  For a variety of reasons, particular students can simply be more or less enjoyable for you to be around.  However, students are quick to pick up on favoritism or negative feelings.  This can become an unfortunate cycle.  If a child’s behavior causes you to harbor negative feelings towards him, he may sense your negativity and act out even more. Try breaking the cycle by spending one-on-one time with the student.  Find a common interest or joke that makes you both laugh.  Building a bond will help motivate the student to behave more appropriately.

 3. Learn the “Matching Law”.  This states that, “the rate of any given behavior matches the rate of reinforcement for that behavior.”  What that means is that if positive social behavior is reinforced more frequently than aggressive behavior, the student will eventually choose positive behavior more often. So, while students may come into your classroom with a pre-learned set of behaviors, that behavior can be unlearned with consistent praise of positive choices.

4. Help the child be successful academically. Research shows that academic success Frustrated school boy working with teacher in the classroomand good behavior reinforce each other.  Often discipline problems can be curbed just by ensuring that the child gets the necessary support to do well in school.  Providing extra help in or out of the classroom can help boost the student’s confidence in her academic ability and, in turn, improve her behavior.

5. Address the behavior, not the person.  It is important for students to understand that, while their behavior may not have been acceptable, they are still valued members of the community. Labeling students as “bad” or “troublemakers” can often result in more of the same negative behavior.  Instead focus on concrete steps that they can take to change their behavior and reestablish their good standing in the classroom.

6. Ignore the litI have a good ideatle stuff. Focusing on every minor infraction will frustrate students and make them feel as if they can’t do anything right.  This is particularly true for students with ADD or special needs.  Giving them the space to fidget or talk during down times will help them focus when you need them to. KqED provides a helpful list of outlets for students who need time to fidget.

Effective classroom management is much easier when teachers are calm, focused and aware.  Check out The Teacher’s Academy Course, Mindfulness in Education, to help implement this practice both for yourself and your students.

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to provide convenient, affordable Professional Development courses to educators around the country.  Check out our course catalog to find a class that is right for you.

 

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 Creative with Field Trips

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear brown bag lunches, matching t-shirts, bus rides, and chaperones? FIELD TRIP! The yearly field trip is a chance for freedom and a time to get away from the day-to-day and experience something nSchool Trip - Berlinew. Many teachers fall into a rut, going to the same place every year. Incorporating art is a great way to jazz up your field trip! Art-based field trips can often be cheaper and more inspirational than more traditional outings.

Here are some destinations that will provide your students with a whole new perspective on life!

MUSEUM

Viewing great works of art can inspire an interest in even the novice critic.  Many Pmuseums have programs specifically designed for field trips that guide groups through designated areas and point out interesting facts. These can be very helpful and require almost no work for the teacher, but there are ways to make them even more stimulating! Consider making a student scavenger hunt for featured pieces. Divide all kids into groups and give each group a different list of art to locate and report back on. You could even theme each group (find landscapes, portraits, sculptures, etc.) and have them solve a riddle or puzzle. To assist you in creating a scavenger hunt, reference the museums’ website for a list of their inventory and any special exhibits or upcoming features. Parents.com offers a list of the best art museums for kids, along with a description of what makes each of these museums accessible and interesting to the younger crowd. If you don’t have an art museum near you, any museum will do.  In college, I was assigned to go to the Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh and design a sculpture from a dinosaur bone. I had never considered such a thing and it really opened my eyes to a whole new place of inspiration. There is art everywhere!

SHOW

What do drama, dance, and music all have in common? They are all forms of art in motion. Having students draw the climax or major turning point in a play can help them remember it. If you are going to see the Phantom of the Opera as a class, coordinate with the art teacher to provide extra credit opportunities for students to do research on the theater or draw an interesting architectural detail they found in the opera house. Have students create an abstract work inspired by one particular song from the musical. They could design alternate costumes for a modern day ballet or make a flip book showing movement from a stack of post-it notes. The possibilities are endless. Check out our Teaching Drama Across the Curriculum Course for some ideas of how to make the performing arts an integral part of your lessons.

NATURE

YIn every state and every town in America you’ll find parks and green spaces to explore. Some of the best and most famous painters got all the inspiration they needed from the great outdoors. Impressionists like Claude Monet made their life’s work outdoors. They experienced certain challenges when creating art outdoors with temperature and light changes, along with wind and rain. Giving your students a few hours to explore and create awesome things in nature will heighten their awareness of the beauty all around them. Team up with the history teacher and do some research on how your local park started or do a joint lesson about the majestic landscapes that the early American painters like Thomas Cole created. Don’t forget to have each student bring a sketchbook and pens to take notes and make drawings of something interesting they’ve found. The Minnesota Department of Art Resources provides a helpful list of ideas to interweave art and music with nature and environmental studies.

INDUSTRY

My favorite episode of Mr. Rogers was when they went to the Crayola Crayon factory to see how crayons are made. There are tons of factories and plants that invite kids to come check out how things are built or processed. Team up with your science teacher and see how water is treated in your local city or take a trip to the recycling center. Bring back what you learned by creating a bulletin board summarizing the process for the whole school. Another great idea is to make your next art project out of all recyclable materials. Try making beautiful Chihuly inspired sculptures out of painted water bottles. (Look at all of these projects for kids inspired by Chihuly on Pinterest). Check your county website for interesting ideas about the industry that surrounds you.

VIRTUAL

Not every art teacher or classroom can afford to go somewhere for a field trip, but that shouldn’t limit your learning. There are tons of online resources to check out and explore a kids computerfaraway place. No public school can afford to send all of their students to Paris to see the Louvre and the amazing pieces of art it holds, but why not look at the Mona Lisa right in the museum from the computer lab? Almost every museum website features some sort of online gallery. A great place to start is by taking a virtual tour of the National Gallery of Art.

Whatever route you opt for, incorporating art into your next field trip will enrich the experience for your students.  The Teacher’s Academy is a proud supporter of the arts in education.  Check out the Art/Music section of our course catalog to find a list of classes to help you weave the arts into your classroom.  Start earning Professional Development classes the affordable, convenient way with The Teacher’s Academy.

Culturally Sensitive Thankgsiving Resources

Many of us gRoasted Thanksgiving Turkeyrew up with school Thanksgiving celebrations that consisted of making head dresses, Pilgrim hats and turkeys out of construction paper. Some of the more progressive teachers may have asked us to write lists of things that we were thankful for or to imagine what it was like for the Pilgrims coming to America.

But, times have changed.  Our children are growing up in a world that is far more diverse and culturally aware than in any time in history.

As 21st century educators, we are well aware of the misrepresentation of the native people as well as an overwhelming amount of inaccurate information about the events that took place on that very first Thanksgiving Day.

We have sifted through the great wealth of online Thanksgiving curriculum resources to find the most thought-provoking, culturally sensitive lesson plans to use in your class room.

  •  You are the Historian is an award-winning lesson plan designed by Plimoth Plantation.  Students take an interactive journey through history and play historic detective in order to figure out what really happened at the first Thanksgiving Dinner. Along the way, they will learn about Wampanoag traditions of giving thanks and visit Pilgrim Mary Allerton’s home.

 

  • The Learning Network provides a list of helpful resources to engage your students in Kid on field with basket of vegetablesProject Based Learning activities dealing with the realities of hunger in America. This is especially important around Thanksgiving, a time when many of us are celebrating a bounty of food that is just not the reality for many Americans.

 

  • The American Indians Children’s Literature website put out a list of books to help children learn about Native Americans.  These can be read around Thanksgiving, but are even more effective when integrated into your curriculum year- round.

 

  • Story Corp does an incredible yearly project in which high school students are asked to record an interview with an elder during Thanksgiving weekend.  Your students Friends studyingcan participate or just listen to the rich oral history that has already been collected.

 

 

  • Scholastic: The First Thanksgiving provides students with letters written from the historical perspective of a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy living in the New World.  If you sign up by November 14, your classroom will receive all of the letters together on November 17.

 

  • Indian Education for All has created an in-depth lesson plan that provides students with a more accurate understanding of the events that led up to the celebration of the first Thanksgiving.  The lesson plan was written for grades 5-8, but can be adapted for both older and younger students.

 

  • Readwritethink.org provides a lesson plan in which students are presented with common myths about the first Thanksgiving and asked to do a thorough exploration into the truth behind each myth. The lesson is geared towards grades 6-8.

 

  • The Library of Congress has a collection of primary resources including the original Proclamation for the First Thanksgiving, a letter from George Washington, and paintings of historical events that occurred during that period in American history.

Handsome Young Man

  • Teaching Tolerance presents a collection of resources and activities to help students understand how, what can be a holiday for some Americans, is actually a day of mourning for others.  This can be an especially powerful lesson in teaching kids about perspective and empathy.

 

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to provide you with these and other educational resources for your classroom, along with an extensive catalog of online Professional Development courses. Check out our affordable course list and find a class that is right for you!

 

 

How to Make a Real Difference by Bringing Social Justice Issues into your Classroom

Why we Teach…

There are many reasons that people become educators. Perhaps they’ve always loved children, are natural teachers, or possess a deep love of learning. These are all excellent Ereasons for becoming an educator.  However, there is another underlying reason that many people decide to go into education, a reason that can often get pushed to the wayside under the strains of meeting standards and deadlines—To change the world.

Making a Difference…

The role of a teacher in students’ lives is invaluable.  Every lesson, every interaction, every conversation, is an opportunity to impact how the students look at the world, and, in turn, how they can change it.

As teachers, we have the ability to do so much more than relay facts to our students, we can teach them how to think, and, in turn, how to become thoughtful, contributing citizens.  One of the best ways we can do that is to bring issues of social justice into our classroom.  Dealing with problems of equality and fairness helps give students valuable experience in critical thinking, research, and respectful, meaningful conflict.

While bringing social justice issues into your classroom can potentially be of enormous benefit to students, it cannot be done without a lot of careful thought and planning.

10 Tips to engage students in conversations about social justice

1. Help guide students, don’t try to control.  One of the major goals of social justice education is to give students experience participating in, and even leading difficult Hands_Smallconversations.  Your role as an educator is to help lead students in the right direction when they get off-course, not to dominate the conversation.  If done correctly, you will find yourself spending most of the time listening to the students’ discussions, interjecting only if the conversations go off topic or become volatile.

2. Find relevant topics. Read social media.  Check the local news.  Talk to your students about what is going on in their neighborhoods. Is your town considering closing a skate park? Are there students in your school who are going without regular meals? Are students of color treated unfairly?  Students will be most motivated by issues that they have observed or have affected them.  The Anti-Defamation League’s website offers a wealth of topics and lesson plans that deal with social justice.

3. Be hopeful. Dealing with heavy topics can be oppressive to young people.  Try to help them find the light in even the darkest issues.  Help empower students to believe that all problems, even the most hopeless seeming, are solvable with cooperation and hard work. For example, if you are discussing the plight of local homeless people, show them examples of how other communities have created programs to feed and shelter the homeless. Giving them real-world examples of difficult problems that have been solved will empower them to look for viable solutions to issues of social justice.

4. Model and expect respect. Encourage debate, but find common ground.  When conversations become heated, divisiveness can occur. Often students become so entrenched in their own perspectives that they lost sight of the bigger picture.  Something as simple as helping students find common ground can make a big difference in the tone resizedimage241159-teacher-and-studentsand effectiveness of the conversations.

It is your job to ensure that students have a safe, respectful environment in which to voice their opinions.  Make it clear that bullying or name-calling will not be tolerated.  The Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution provides an extensive list of resources for dealing with conflict management.  For further assistance and professional development credits, check out our course on the causes and prevention of cyber-bullying.

5. Have age-appropriate expectations.  Kids as young as 5 or 6 can tackle issues of social justice.  However, the topics and level of conversation will be much different than those that take place on a middle school or high school level.  When working with young students, make sure to choose topics that are more concrete. Some ideas could be to discuss ways to make the playground more fun for everyone, ensure each child has a Phealthy lunch, and debate the fairness of “team picking” in gym class. Education World offers some social justice lessons designed specifically for younger students.

6. Teach students how to do good research. While discussing issues of social justice, it is important that students learn to back up their opinions.  One way that they can do that is by conducting research on the topics at hand. The internet offers a wealth of resources for information, of varying degrees of credibility. Help students understand how to tell the difference. Literacy Education Online provides some useful tips on assessing a source’s credibility.  Learning to discern between reliable and unreliable information is one of the greatest lessons you can teach your students.

7. Bring in speakers.  There is nothing like a first-hand account to help students become invested in an issue.  Have a military veteran come to your classroom and talk about the difficulties of re-adjusting to civilian society.  Invite a local wheel-chair bound woman to explain why she has trouble navigating your town’s sidewalks.  Ask a former high-school student to talk to your students about how bullying affected his education.  Do you know someone who has been naturalized? Ask her to speak about her immigration experience. Putting faces to the causes will give students a personal connection and ignite their enthusiasm.

8. Understand that students come from different backgrounds/perspectives.  It is our job as educators to put our personal biases aside when helping students confront issues of social justice.  Although you may be socially liberal, understand that some of your students may come from religious, conservative backgrounds.  And vice versa.

It is not your job to cPupils working together at desk in libraryhange the students’ views, only to help them understand and respect other people’s perspectives. Discrediting a students’ background or life experiences will only seek to alienate them.  Instead, work on finding commonalities and building bridges. With experience and maturity, you might find students with previously established beliefs opening their minds to other perspectives.  Dealing with issues of social justice is one of the most effective ways to help expedite this process.

9. Keep up-to-date on current events.  Social media and 24-hour news has given this generation access to more information than any other generation to date.  It is crucial that we, as teachers, also stay informed in order to retain our relevancy and credibility. Besides reading news that is of interest to you, try informing yourself on topics of interest to your students.  One easy way to do this is to instruct students to use sites such as CNN Student News and PBS News Hour Extra to bring in articles for classroom discussion. You may find that even issues of pop culture or celebrity news can inspire discussions of social justice.  The recent “taking a knee” stance of Colin Kaepernick is one current example.student and teacher looking smiling at the library

10. Take real-life action.  There are few things more powerful in education than showing students that they can, indeed, make a difference.  While not every issue of social justice is adaptable to a classroom project, many are. The basis of many project based learning lessons are issues of social justice.  The Bucks Institute for Education website is one of the best resources to teach you how to use PBL in your classroom.

The Teacher’s Academy is committed to providing teachers with the most relevant, affordable professional development courses.  Our classes meet Act 48 requirements and can be taken from the comfort of your own home.  Check out our course catalog to find the class that’s right for you.

 

 

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!

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!