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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

 

 

 

Integrating the Arts in the Classroom: 5 Fun Activities for Busy Teachers

The Teacher’s Academy has just released their newest course, Integrating the Arts in the Classroom. This fun 18-hour course is designed to help teachers “spice-up” their current lesson plans with some outside-the-box art projects. The course starts off with a little inspirational music (by Metallica of course) and then progresses through the importance of art in education. Teachers will develop their own definition of the arts, learn about the value of the arts in education, understand how the standards support the arts, and even create a few of their own art-inspired projects! We understand how busy teachers are so we took 5 quick, fun integration activities from the course to share in this blog… Enjoy!

Guitar#5: Music Integration Activity

Activity: Add music to enrich your read aloud books, fiction or non-fiction literature, poetry and teach literary devices.

Skills: Literary devices, critical thinking, memory

Applied in the classroom: Students studying the social, economic and political events of the 1920s were exposed to music, rare video and artwork to further bring the era to life. Students got to listen to the music of the times while writing their own stories!

 

Group Of Children Enjoying Drama Class Together#4: Theater Integration Activity

Activity: Improvisation – give students a setting and let them react without a script.

Skills: Connect to characters, core-content comprehension, communication, language, vocabulary and presentation, public speaking and listening

Applied in the Classroom: In a circle, students are given a story starter. The teacher chooses one student to begin the story and the students point to their peers to continue the story when cued by the teacher. Add parameters to the game to increase the challenge and encourage critical thinking and problem solving…Must use a new vocabulary word, must incorporate certain parts of speech, must speak from a historical person’s point of view, etc.

Ballet#3: Dance Integration Activity

Activity: Interpretive Dance – Students use movement to teach letters, language or math concepts. Students form letters or actions with their bodies and display knowledge of math concepts like symmetry. To incorporate higher-level academic concepts, students can perform interpretive dance to “act out” events in history or scientific theories.

Skills: Communication, core content, language, vocabulary, and presentation skills

Applied in the Classroom: Students were asked to show understanding of symmetry through dance movements. One student chooses a position, a partner student must replicate that position. If one student moves, the other must move. Students take turns choosing positions to show symmetry, parallel lines, intersecting lines, angles, etc.

Kids art#2: Visual Arts Integration Activities

Activity: Drawing Poetry

Skills: Listening, language, poetry, drawing, motor skills, connection to poetry, critical thinking

Applied in the classroom: Students were read a poem and asked to sketch or draw what they heard in the poem. Students could make their own interpretations of the author’s message and articulate how they connected with the poem. The activity could be altered by selecting a passage from a novel or content area.

Art Hands#1 Fine Arts Integration Activities

 Activity: Sculpture and Writing

Skills: Writing, observation, communication, memory, descriptive language

Applied in the classroom: Students were asked to create a sculpture based on a profession then write an opinion piece about the profession. This activity could be altered to use paints or digital photography. The subject could be a core content topic, book review, word problem. For example, students could create 3-D models of plant and animal cells or dioramas of important events.

A few more integration activities…

  • Playing/ Making Instruments
  • Chanting, Rapping
  • Listening to Music / Poetry
  • Composing Music, Songs
  • Drama Games / Charades
  • Pantomime, Puppets
  • Move to Words, Poetry or Ideas
  • Popular and Creative Dances
  • Clay / Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Textiles
  • Research Artists
  • Research Works of Art

This is just a small sampling of what teachers will receive when they open the  Integrating the Arts in the Classroom course. Teachers, you do not have to be an expert in the arts to deliver an effective, integrated art activity! Have fun with your students and enjoy teaching with the arts.

The Teacher's AcademyNeed Professional Development? Now is the Time…

The summer is not only a great time for teachers to catch up on reading, but also to get started (or finish up) those pesky professional development requirements. It does not matter if teachers live in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Bloomington, Detroit, Green Bay or Nashville, our courses are downloaded to computers so teachers can work from anywhere in the United States!

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

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

Have a great summer, teachers!

4 Reasons Teachers Mix up their Lessons with Mix!

A Teacher’s Review of Microsoft Mix

Microsoft just released a new add-in for PowerPoint. This free downloadable feature Mixencompasses the familiar PowerPoint presentation design tools with the technology to create real interactive presentations for your students that can be viewed online. As my own teaching has evolved to include a class web page with tons of resources for students, this new app brings that page to life with interactive presentations and opens the door to the flipped classroom. To be honest, it’s mixed up my lesson planning; It’s mixed up my presentations; it’s mixed up my assessments; And I love it!

Here’s my disclaimer:  I am not a paid representative for Microsoft or Mix. But I am beholden to the greatest, most important industry on earth- teaching! I love sharing what I’ve learned with fellow teachers. This one is worth it! Plus, if you already know PowerPoint, there’s not much of a learning curve. Did I mention this feature is free? Sill not sure if Mix is worth it? Here are four good reasons I recommend teachers mix up their lessons with Mix.

#1: You can Record your Presentations!

kidscomp1

Ever prepare that crucial lesson and notice two or three students were out that day and missed it? Or maybe you wish

 you could be in two places at one time when students are moving through centers in your room.  With Mix, you can record your presentations, post them to your web page, or send a link to view them on the Internet. Presentation recordings can be done “on the fly” or in a controlled setting. I, personally, love the raw and real experience I capture in a live slide recording. And I can quickly post it to the class web page for my absent students. Even parents have appreciated these presentation recordings as a window to what was being taught that day. Regardless of the subject area you teach, if you use PowerPoint to present information, this tool will add a few valuable features that are sure to mix up how you deliver lessons in the future!

How I use it:Parents and students replay presentations to review solving an algebraic equation; rewind the explanation of the law of diminishing marginal utility; share their class poetry reading.

 #2: You can add Quizzes to your Presentations!

Mix_Quiz

You might be reading this and thinking, my presentations already have quizzes… I know mine do! I use the animation features in PowerPoint to create what I thought was an interactive quiz. But the reality was, if students didn’t click on the right object or they clicked objects in the wrong order, the quiz might not work properly! Or, if it did work properly, it was a result of hours of planning and design in PowerPoint. Mix allows me to quickly insert multiple choice, true/ false, short answer and even polling questions. The result looks and functions like an online survey. And get this… as the creator of the Mix, I can view the analytics of the quiz takers. These analytics don’t only show how well the students did on the quiz, they also show (1) How long they spent on each slide; (2) If they skipped to the end or; (3) If they had to revisit certain slides. It’s all that behind the scenes stuff that teachers need to determine the effectiveness of their lessons.

How I use it: Using slide recording, I create a mini lecture followed by a quiz that I have used in class “centers.” These centers are student-driven. They seem to like it because they get to wear headphones, but also, they can complete the exercise at their own pace! Some quiz questions have “hints” that students can choose to show. Some questions may allow second or third chances. Some don’t! It’s all up to me. Plus,  I see what students need help on  and in what areas, thanks to the analytics. I also observed a Science teacher use a Mix he created that contained polling questions about an experiment they were conducting. Students were given a link to this Mix before the experiment began. As they went through the different stages of the experiment, he would ask the students to open the Mix and answer the polling questions. Again, the analytics gave him instant feedback of student comprehension.

 #3: You can Screen Cast!

Mix_ScreenCastI’ve always shied away from attempting a flipped classroom experience because each flipped lesson I attempted needed some sort of specific tutorial. After the flipped experience, I would hear students say, “The directions didn’t make sense!” “I couldn’t find that web page!” “I don’t know how to write a formula for that in Excel!” So, I found Screen Recording in Mix. Using the familiar workspace and tools in PowerPoint, recording my clicks and clacks on the computer was so simple. The video automatically inserts in the presentation, so it’s easy for my students to view it! No more excuses for not completing the work at home! (Well, at least no more of those excuses!)

How I use it: As I mentioned, I would record myself doing any type of tutorial from how to conduct a web search, to how to save a file, to how to write a formula, to how to post a blog. Anything my students need to know how to do on the computer, I hit record!

#4: You can Publish your Presentations!

This means the viewer of your presentation does not need PowerPoint to view Mix Publishthe presentation. You know how you can send YouTube links to friends? Now you can send your PowerPoint presentation using a similar format. When viewed, it doesn’t open PowerPoint, it uses the Internet browser to view the Mix like a video. And yes, if there is a quiz in there, they can view and take the quiz! How convenient!

How I use it: Rather than uploading large PowerPoint files to my class web page, I just post a link to the Mix. Usually the Mix is the class presentation, a quiz, a tutorial- or a combination of all three!

Sounds great, but I don’t have time to learn Mix. I’m a teacher, remember?

You do now! The Teacher’s Academy recently released a new course called, Microsoft Mix for Educators and it’s worth 18 hours of professional development. Like all The Teacher’s Academy courses, this one is approved for professional development hours, continuing education units, PDUs, or whatever your state calls them!The Teacher's Academy

In Pennsylvania, we are Approved Providers of Act 48 hours. In Texas, our Continuing Professional Education (CPE) number is 902185. The Teacher’s Academy is also approved to offer the IACET CEU. (International Association of Continuing Education and Training).


The Teacher’s Academy has a variety of courses in
technology, health and even resourceful teaching methods. Check out our course catalog for a complete listing of courses. The Teacher’s Academy was started by teachers, for teachers… like you!

 

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.

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!

 

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!