Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

Using Social Media in the Classroom

April 15th, 2021 | Comments Off on Using Social Media in the Classroom | Inclusive Teaching, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

If you teach young people ages ten and up (and often younger), it is a given that they are attached to their phones at every opportunity. Why not take advantage of social media in and out of the classroom to engage your students in a different and exciting way?

Many educators view social media as a nightmare to be tolerated, but it can be useful – and promote learning – in the proper context. Try one or more of these recommendations to tickle the interest of your students in a new way. It is an excellent opportunity for students to interact who may not feel comfortable speaking up in class.

Create a Class Blog
For a twist on traditional writing assignments, have students share their writing online in a class blog. Writing online where everyone in the class sees it can foster classroom community and teaches online communication basics in a blog format. Require classmates to comment on posts.

Write Twitter Summaries
With a limit of 280 characters in 2021, it can be challenging to get your point across via Twitter. Sharpen your students’ writing skills by having them “tweet” a summary of a poem or chapter, answer a question, or write a really short story within the character constraints.

Classroom Facebook Page
Although Facebook is no longer the “in” social media platform for most youngsters, use it to create a class forum by posting homework assignments, school activities, and contact information. Include parents, too.

Social Media Profile
Make history come alive by having students create social media profiles for historical figures, whether they are handwritten or posted to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Classmates can post comments and ask the person questions, requiring the poster to have extensive knowledge of the historical figure.

 

As with all online communication, it is essential to ensure that everyone follows the school’s rules for acceptable use policies. It may also be prudent to download monitoring software to notify you of at-risk behavior and protect students from cyberbullying.

Since students are online so much anyway, why not incorporate it in the classroom? It is easier than you think, and your class may surprise you with their creativity.

Professional Development for Teachers – COVID Edition

March 29th, 2021 | Comments Off on Professional Development for Teachers – COVID Edition | Certification Prep, Inclusive Teaching, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Not only has the pandemic affected instructors, students, and families around the world profoundly and unexpectedly over these last 12 months, it has created a multitude of other educational concerns. From computer access and proficiency to lack of socialization to innovations in teaching safely in-person, online, and in a hybrid setting, many issues must necessarily be addressed sooner rather than later.

One problem directly involving teachers is continuing education or professional development credits. Opportunities for district and state workshops, conferences, seminars, and retreats have been limited or altogether canceled over the last year, which may cause challenges for many teachers who do not have enough credits for their upcoming recertification.

The specific number of professional development hours required by state varies but may range from 50 to 120 credit hours over a five-year period. If you are one of the teachers who tends to wait until the last minute, you may be worried about how you will get in the hours you need before your time is up.

Fortunately, there are continuing education options online. Subjects are diverse and include core subjects like reading, writing, and mathematics, and working with students with disabilities in an inclusive classroom, as well as a myriad of other topics. You will find these options through many universities or companies such as PrepForward (www.prepforward.com).

With uncertainty still looming for the rest of this school year and, indeed, for 2021-2022, now is the perfect time to explore professional development options. Take a few minutes to browse online to find subjects that interest you and that will help you be a better educator.

Sign up for a course or two now or plan for the summer to ensure you have the time you need to register and complete a class and gain the hours necessary to maintain your certification status.

The #1 Way to Thrive – Not Just Survive – This School Year

October 29th, 2020 | Comments Off on The #1 Way to Thrive – Not Just Survive – This School Year | Certification Prep, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Whether you are a brand-new teacher or a veteran who has had some challenging school experiences over the years, there is one thing you can count on. This year will be different. Whatever you anticipate – it will likely exceed all your expectations – good and bad.

Covid-19 has changed the “face” of education, quite literally. You may be required to teach in-person classes, a combination of in-person and virtual (hybrid), or completely online. You may start the year one way and it may change after a week or a month.

Teachers need not only survive the 2020-2021 school year, but they also need to learn how to thrive despite demanding and ever-changing circumstances. How can you do that? BE FLEXIBLE.

Flexibility is one of the hallmarks of a good teacher. Situations arise all the time that necessitate rearranging your schedule, lesson plans, route to the cafeteria, teaching style, and so much more. This year, being flexible can save your sanity.

What can you do?

  • Do not create lesson plans too far in advance. Ultra-organized teachers often develop lesson plans over the summer, at least for the first several weeks of school – not the best idea for this fall. Try not to make plans for more than a week at a time, as they will probably change. It is much easier to rearrange a week’s worth of lessons than an entire month.
  • Prepare lessons that are easily adaptable for face-to-face teaching as well as online.
  • Stock up (if you can) on cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. If you do not use them in the classroom you can always keep them at home or donate them.
  • Practice talking all day from behind your mask. It can get stuffy. One way around this in the classroom is to teach for 15 minutes or so and then let the students complete an activity on their own for about 15 minutes.
  • Be open with communication with your principal, school board, parents, and students. Acknowledge that no one has all the answers. Everyone is doing the best they can right now.

Flexibility is key for teachers this year. Implement some of these ideas and add your own. You will not be able to eliminate all the stress, but you can certainly lessen it by preparing now.

Yays and Nays for Elementary Virtual Learning

September 14th, 2020 | Comments Off on Yays and Nays for Elementary Virtual Learning | Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Student Online Learning

For some young students, it does not matter what the educational platform is, they will succeed. Others will struggle, whether they are taught in a traditional classroom, in a virtual synchronous situation, where class meets “together” and works at the same time or asynchronously, where self-directed independent work is required.

Many elementary classrooms across the country are using a combination of these types of learning scenarios as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. More is coming to light as we evaluate how things worked in the immediacy of online learning last spring and how things are progressing this fall, where a few more options have developed.

What are the advantages of a virtual classroom setting?

  • There are fewer opportunities for social distractions from peers. The “drama” often evident in in-person classrooms does not exist online, or at least is drastically reduced.
  • Students who are self-motivated can excel.
  • In most cases, there are more chances for individualized teacher attention outside “class” to help students who need further instruction.
  • There is less pressure on students to speak up in class, which is perfect for quieter children.

How is virtual learning hurting some elementary students?

  • This type of classroom can bring challenges for the family. At least one adult or older teenager must be available to offer continual support and ensure a distraction-free environment. This can cause a significant burden for working parents.
  • There is a “technology gap” for some families. Not everyone has access to the latest computers or software or reliable internet access, according to Mary Stephens, longtime educator, and founder of PrepForward.
  • Socializing is difficult, if not almost impossible, in an online setting. Students must seek peer relationships outside school via extracurricular activities.
  • Students must learn in an unfamiliar classroom setting. Whether it is at home or a parent’s office, the traditional and often comforting classroom environment is nonexistent.

No matter which side of the debate you are on, the fact remains that virtual learning is not going away soon. We continue to discover more every day about the best ways to reach elementary students and guarantee their academic success.

 

Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning

July 24th, 2020 | Comments Off on Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning | Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

While some school districts have made their decisions about how school will look this fall, others are still working hard to offer the best scenarios for families, teachers, and students. It is likely that few people will be satisfied with whatever option they must follow.

What is certain is that educators will do everything they can to implement as many learning strategies as possible to ensure that they cover the required material and that students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of key concepts.

Here are just a few techniques to consider if some or all your instruction is relegated to online delivery.

  1. Start class each day with a 10-15 minute “warm-up” activity or question that involves two or three students sharing about themselves and what they are doing at home with the family. Questions can be light-hearted or more thought-provoking.
  2. Provide frequent feedback via email, highlighting both positive and negative comments about student work, attitude, diligence, etc.
  3. Screen sharing is beneficial for teachers and students, both for completing assignments and addressing technical issues that may arise with computers in general or the specific platform your district utilizes.
  4. Permit side chatting between students if the instructor can monitor the conversation. Some students have become more comfortable contributing to class in this format as it does not require them to “speak up” in front of others. Students enjoy it when the teacher participates, too.
  5. Prepare innovative assessments for individuals and groups that are interesting and fun.
  6. Develop a closing activity each day for each student to complete. It could be a simple form with questions about the lesson, a chat between students or groups, or a discussion that the class has about a given topic.

There are dozens more ways to actively engage students online. Note that these methods can also be utilized in an on-ground setting, as well.

No matter what form your classroom takes this semester, having a plan ensures that you can meet the needs of all your students.

 

 

Teaching Diversity and Acceptance in the Elementary Classroom

June 24th, 2020 | Comments Off on Teaching Diversity and Acceptance in the Elementary Classroom | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

PrepForward testimonials

Depending on your school district and where it is located, there are a variety of scenarios concerning the “look” of your elementary classroom. You may be situated in the inner city or a rural setting. Many educators are somewhere in between. Your group of students can be a daunting mix of backgrounds that include differences in religion, race, beliefs, socioeconomic status, and ability.

Often, these differences can lead to conflict, both in the classroom and on the playground. The best way to handle these disparities is to teach diversity and acceptance by integrating it into your curriculum.

Here are a few ways to launch discussions about diversity and bias and how to resolve problems you and your children may face.

  1. Carefully select current news stories about a chosen topic and bring them up in class. Build lessons around the theme and incorporate them into your math, language arts, science, and social studies instruction. Articles that feature instances of bias, standing up to it and justice triumphing may be particularly thought-provoking and inspire some deep dialogues.
  2. Children’s literature is an excellent resource for learning more about diversity, prejudice, and social justice questions. There are books on virtually any subject in this area. Read a story aloud in class or have the children read independently and present a book report or create a diorama. Discuss what is most important to them.
  3. Help students learn to accept others who may not be like them in some way. Bullying, teasing, and name-calling are common among school-age children. Setting aside time each week to deal with these identity-related issues helps students grow socially and emotionally.
  4. Utilize popular video games, television shows, and toys to discuss gender stereotypes, disabilities, and other diversity concerns.
  5. When you and your class talk about a bias issue, brainstorm ways to realistically resolve the situation.

The more we can teach our children about diversity when they are young, the better they will be able to handle themselves as adults. It is never too early to start the conversation.