July 2015 Wrap Up

Highlights of the Month

Top Posts

Top 5 Posts of July:

5.  What is Your Reading Style?

4.  Analyzing Fiction and Nonfiction Strategies

3.  How to Begin your PrePlanning

2.  Planning Tools

1.  The Reading I Didn’t Do and Classroom Bootcamp 

Books I’ve Read:

Classroom FYI:

 

Planning Tools

My preplanning work station.

My preplanning work station.

A few weeks ago, I started organizing myself in order to tackle my curriculum planning for the 2015-16 school year.  I addressed developing a Classroom Bootcamp for the first quarter, and relied heavily on the difference between a bootcamp and a simple review.  There are a lot of ways to organize yourself, but sometimes, especially when you’re a new teacher, it can be overwhelming.  Whether you’re working on an entire curriculum, unit plan, or just a weekly/daily lesson plan, you can become distracted by all the options and resources that are available.  So here are a few tools that I use in order to relieve some of the frazzle-osity of planning.

Online Organizing

There are two types of  websites that I use to help keep myself organized.  The first is what I call the “Catch-All” and the other is “Application and Reflection.”

Catch-All

unnamedEvernote – I’ve blogged in the past about how much I love this website/app/program.  Evernote is a multi-platformed resource that allows users to accumulate notes, websites, media, and other information that they would like to save for later.  The organizational capacity is fantastic!  Categories are designated into Notebooks and within each notebook, notes are created that can be customized by adding your own text, checklists, bullet points, lists, etc.  Additionally, users can attach pictures or other documents that coincide with that particular content.

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Sample list of notebooks from my Evernote account.

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One example of a note created in my English IV Curriculum notebook.

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Sample checklist in my English IV Curriculum notebook.

Picture-7-2-2015Pinterest – I don’t think there is a soul out there who uses the internet that doesn’t know about Pinterest.  It’s more than just a way to waste a couple of hours planning weddings and dream homes; Pinterest has been one of the most helpful resources for developing everything from classroom management plans to creating posters/anchor charts for my walls to interesting articles about texts we are reading in class.  By being able to create specialized boards to organize each of these “pins,” I am able to efficiently incorporate their contents into my classroom.

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Obviously, “I am a runner” and “Workouts” don’t make too many appearances in my curriculum, but they do give me the endorphins to make it through my lessons. =)

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Application and Reflection

suite_transparent_largeGoogle Docs – I have found myself becoming more reliant on Google Docs over the last year, and I admit that I have A LOT to learn.  I have uploaded all of my curriculum documents and lesson plans here, but I also complete reflections on my lessons.  This is something I am setting up for the first time this school year, so I will keep you updated as to my progress.

Google Docs in the Classroom

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I’m trying to convince myself that it’s time to get to know Google Docs, and I’m using the excuse that it’s time to revamp my classroom.  I’m starting my 10th year of teaching this fall and it is time.  It’s easier to remain stagnant, but if humans were meant to stay the same their entire lives, I wouldn’t be buying regenerist serums by the gallon.

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Anyway, I have started fiddling around with how to make Google forms with my personal account.  I am going to be meeting weekly with my department members and I want to streamline the process as much as possible.  Here is the final product:

Meeting Minutes

I can open this form on my iPad during the meeting, fill it out, and then have the results accumulated in a spreadsheet for my convenience.  I also figure out how to have the results directly emailed to me for easy sharing with the individual teachers.

It was a little tricky getting used to the format and platform, and because I’m still working the kinks out, I won’t attempt to explain the process.  I’ll leave that to the experts.

It got me to thinking about how I can use Google Docs in the classroom.  I am completely envious of teachers who work in a 1:1 school or where technology is more consistently accessible.  What I do have control over is the use of my iPad in the classroom.  I can also provide Google Docs/Forms for students to use at home if they cannot access them on their smartphones or tablets.  So here is a list of uses that I intend to implement this year:

  • Behavior Logs
  • Individual/Group meetings with students
  • Surveys
  • Spot Checks
    • This has become the nomenclature at our school to replace the term “quiz.”  It will ensure me that students have read their assigned reading.  Through our PLN, we have decided that the first question must always be, “Did you complete the reading assignment?”  At first, we thought students would automatically respond, “yes,” but eventually as students became more comfortable, their honesty improved.  It helps the teacher know if there is a comprehension problem or if it’s Christmas treeing.
  • Lesson planning
  • Rubrics – I’m still new to this usage, but I definitely plan on getting better acquainted.

Question of the Day: If you use Google Docs/Forms in the classroom, what is your favorite method?  If you haven’t started, what is holding you back?