Technology in the classroom can be a huge help -- and sometimes it can be a burden. To enhance learning and really help students comprehend, this blog post shares 10 simple tech tools that will get the job done. Click through to read about all of the tech tools!

Technology can be an amazing tool in the classroom. But I think we need to be mindful when implementing it. Standards and content should always come first. If technology offers us a way to better teach the content, then we should use it. If it doesn’t, then we should leave it. We should be careful not to discount face-to-face discussion and paper-based activities--students need those, too.


Technology in the classroom can be a huge help -- and sometimes it can be a burden. To enhance learning and really help students comprehend, this blog post shares 10 simple tech tools that will get the job done. Click through to read about all of the tech tools!
That said, I’ve compiled a list of simple tech tools that can truly enrich your students’ learning and take it to a level that's difficult to reach without technology.

Here are 10 Simple Tech Tools to Take Learning to The Next Level



1. Open a PDF or Image File as a Doc to Extract The Text
Sometimes you have an old worksheet or a reading that you want to digitize. It’s simple to scan it to a PDF or snap a picture of it to upload for your students. They can use an app like DocHub to type, draw, or highlight directly onto the PDF.


But the text is flattened on a PDF. Sometimes you and your students need access to the text. When you have access to the text, you can use apps to read the text aloud to students or to translate the text for ELL students. You can’t use these apps with image or PDF Files. Google Drive can extract the text for you.


Simply take a clear picture or screen snipping of the text you need and upload it to your Drive. You can also upload a PDF to your Drive. In Drive, right click the image or PDF, and select “open with Docs.” The image or PDF will open as a Google Doc with the image at the top and the text extracted.


The image is shown at the top of the Doc. The text that can be manipulated is extracted beneath.
2. Use the Google Read&Write Extension to Help Struggling Readers
The Read&Write Chrome Extension is a powerful tool to help your students improve their literacy skills. It can be used with any text that is not flattened (see tip 1 for extracting text that is an image or PDF). Read&Write has many capabilities, including highlighting, text to speech, reading focus guide, vocabulary lists, picture dictionary, translate into French or Spanish, and speech input. It also has screenshot reader capabilities in the premium version. Here is a useful PDF explaining what each tool within Read&Write can do.


This is the focus guide feature. It really helps my students with processing difficulties read on a screen.
3. Use the Talk and Comment Extension to Give Your Students Verbal Feedback
There is little more frustrating than spending hours grading student essays and leaving productive feedback only to have students ignore it. With the Talk and Comment Extension, you can record your voice to give students audio feedback as you read their papers. I've found that they are generally more likely to listen to comments than to read them. Here is a helpful PDF for getting started.


4. Use Google Forms for Behavior Reflection
Early in my career, I read the book Teaching with Love and Logic, and it has had a major impact on my teaching philosophy through the years. One incredibly useful takeaway that I have implemented from it is a behavior reflection form (mine is free here).


When I had a large classroom, I created a corner for quiet reflection. If I sent a student back there, they had to fill out a sheet reflecting on their behavior. These days, my classroom is too small for that, so I have students fill out a reflection in Google Forms instead. Each time a student fills out the form, I have a digital copy that I can send to a spreadsheet. For minor offences, I like to keep it between me and the student the first time. If it recurs, I email their responses to their parents, letting them know that there will be progressive consequences if it happens again.


You can post a QR code to the form in your classroom, share the link through email to the infringing student, or post the link in a section of Google Classroom or whatever platform you use. Here is a copy of my form that you can use and modify.


5. Use Google Keep to Import Drawings into Docs and Slides
I have many students who are artistically gifted, and I love to give them a chance to shine with projects and activities. Digitizing their drawings is easy with Google Keep integration into Docs and Slides. Students draw their images in Keep, open a Doc, and click the Keep icon on the right hand side. They find their images, and drag them into the Doc.


Make your drawing in Keep (try not to be jealous of my abilities--we can't all be artists).

6. Use Google Arts and Culture App for Historical and Creative Writing
The Google Arts and Culture App is a useful tool for social studies, ELA, and, well, art. It has multiple categories, virtual tours, and 360 video. But the coolest part is the selfie feature. Students take a selfie and load it to the app. The app searches artwork to find one that looks most like the student.


Have students research that artwork and write an essay or creative story about it. Here are detailed instructions for implementing this feature. Be sure it will work for you and your students prior to class time.


7. Use The Explore Feature in Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Research
The Explore Feature is already in Docs, Slides, and Sheets, but many people do not know about it. Students can right click on a word in their Doc, select “explore,” and research on the subject appears in the right of the screen. If students select a quote to use, Explore automatically generates a footnote for them. Click the three dots to select the citation format. In Google Sheets, the Explore Feature will format results and generate graphs. In Slides, it helps with the layout. Here are detailed instructions for Using Explore in all three apps.



8. Encourage Student Creation with WeVideo
I teach heavy content classes, and it’s difficult to genuinely teach all of the standards. But I think it’s important to make time for students to create--it’s more meaningful than their just consuming the information and it helps to build skills they will need for the 21st century workforce. The more creative the assignment, the better. For example, instead of having students make a slideshow about Napoleon, have them create an ad for joining Napoleon’s army.


A free tool for making and editing videos with Chrome is WeVideo. Here are the basics your students will need to know to work with WeVideo. They can create documentaries, advertisements, music videos, skits, and so much more to share with the class. An added bonus is that they can share their videos in WeVideo, so there’s no need to use YouTube if your school has it blocked.


9. Use Symbaloo for Student Choice and to Create a Differentiated Workflow
Symbaloo enables you to organize web content into tiles on topical boards to share with students. It can be used to jigsaw topics, create a differentiated workflow, and personalize learning.


Create a free symbaloo account and create your first board, for example, “The Enlightenment.”


Technology in the classroom can be a huge help -- and sometimes it can be a burden. To enhance learning and really help students comprehend, this blog post shares 10 simple tech tools that will get the job done. Click through to read about all of the tech tools!To jigsaw the topic, link to a different website, say about various Enlightenment thinkers. Have one per tile. Assign each student or group a different thinker. Have them follow the link and research the person. They can take notes on butcher paper to create a gallery walk for the rest of the students to take notes about.


To differentiate workflow, color-code the tiles. There could be a Blue Flow, a Green Flow, and an Orange Flow. Each flow contains leveled work over the same topics. For example, if the Blue tiles are for the higher level students (not that you would tell them this), the initial reading will be more challenging than the initial reading for the Green and Orange tiles. The next tile in each may link to an activity (force a copy link to a Doc) that is slightly different for each group. The third tile may lead to a different extension activity for each level, and the fourth may lead to some sort of formative assessment.



You can also use symbaloo to personalize learning. Create a choice board with various colored tiles. Each tile of the same color links to an activity that asks students to do a similar activity using different modalities. Have them choose one activity to complete for each color.


All blue tiles, for example, could ask students to learn content. They can choose how they will learn it. One blue tile might link to a reading. Another might link to a video, and still another might link to a virtual tour.

All green tiles, for example, might link to an activity. They might all ask students to analyze a primary source over a similar topic, but the genre for each source might be different. One tile might link to a letter, another might link to images, and still another might link to audio. Students select one to complete.


All orange tiles can link to a creative extension. One might be text-based, one might be art-based, and one might be video-based. Again, students have a choice.


Make all yellow tiles different types of formative assessment that students can choose among--a quiz, a quickwrite, a storyboard….


Don’t forget to create a red tile, for example, that links to a spreadsheet, form, or Google Classroom assignment box where students can turn everything in. I would have a different “turn in” tile for each class I teach.


The Sybaloo Blog offers tutorials and ideas for getting started.




10. Use Forms and AutoMastery to Re-mediate and Enrich
I’ve written about this before, but it is too amazing a tool not to mention again. AutoMastery is a free Google Forms add-on that enables you to effortlessly re-mediate or enrich after teaching information.


Create a Google Forms Quiz containing key concepts you want your students to retain from a lesson. Click the add-on, and select an emerging (perhaps below 70) and a mastery level (perhaps above 85). The intermediate level will be the scores in between.


Insert a link to a different activity for each level in the appropriate box. Activities can include reteaching and extension, depending on score. The appropriate assignment will be emailed to each student based on their score, so don’t forget to set the Forms quiz to collect their emails.



Here is a detailed blog and video for using AutoMastery with Forms.

If we use technology with intention and not just for its own sake, it can save us time and transform student learning in a way that was far more difficult to implement in the past.

What technology tool has taken learning to a new level in your classroom? Share your favorite tools in the comments below!


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

Teachers sometimes can't avoid teaching using lecture or assigned readings in ELA or social studies classrooms, but class can still be engaging for students. This blog post shares three simple ways to encourage active learning. High school students will appreciate these activities that are hands-on and authentic! Click through to read the full post.

In the ELA and social studies classroom, sometimes we simply must lecture or, heaven forbid, assign readings. I used to assign readings, my students would do them, and we'd have a class discussion. When I'd lecture, the students were genuinely interested in the stories I told (or did I imagine these things?).

I've either become more perceptive in my middle years, or my students have become less attentive. Either way, the old ways I did things don't work anymore (or did they ever? Not sure).

I see lots of pained expressions these days, but sometimes, we have to stand up and talk or assign readings. There's no way around it.

I think most educators would agree that an effective way to do it is in short bursts with structured breaks for student reflection and action. After about ten minutes, most secondary students need a few moments of action so that we don't lose them.

I want to discuss three specific methods I use to break up any lecture or reading in order to get students to reflect upon the material, work cooperatively, and hopefully, to retain, analyze, and manipulate the content. I like these methods because I provide students with the framework, and they generate the content (the questions, summaries, etc.).

And yes, they do involve printing (but not a lot). I'm a huge fan of technology--I use it all the time to further my students' learning objectives. The most effective forms of technology for this purpose, I think, anyway, are paper, pencils, scissors, crayons, and glue--the basic stuff. I time each activity because I'm sure you've noticed that students will take as long as we give them. And we do need to get back to that lecture.

Three Simple Ways to Encourage Active Learning

Teachers sometimes can't avoid teaching using lecture or assigned readings in ELA or social studies classrooms, but class can still be engaging for students. This blog post shares three simple ways to encourage active learning. High school students will appreciate these activities that are hands-on and authentic! Click through to read the full post.1. Sorts: Put students in pairs and have them fill out a chart. It can be as simple as placing important
events in chronological order or as complex as identifying events, their causes, and their effects. They can even categorize information. Then students cut out the sections from the chart, shuffle them up, and optionally, place them into an envelope that they label so you can reuse the sorts for review or at stations.

Then they swap their strips with another pair and sort them into the correct order. Each pair checks the other and they use the sorts as a springboard for discussion.

2. Reflection and Peer Review: I give students a handout with a prompt based on our content. In a chart, they must state their opinion, provide an example from the lecture or reading, and explain why that example supports their opinion. 

Then they swap papers with their partner, and their partner offers a guided "peer review" on the right side of the page (see an example below). Partners take a moment to discuss feedback and then make revisions based on the feedback.

3. Jigsaw the Content: In groups of four, assign each student "a part" of the lecture or reading. They should summarize it in their own words or illustrate their part. It's also fun to hide discussion prompts within QR Codes and have the group assign them randomly so they don't know what each person has until they scan them. Then they should put it all together to form a whole and discuss it with their group.

Teachers sometimes can't avoid teaching using lecture or assigned readings in ELA or social studies classrooms, but class can still be engaging for students. This blog post shares three simple ways to encourage active learning. High school students will appreciate these activities that are hands-on and authentic! Click through to read the full post.

Your students' creativity is the limit with these--I love it that they are the ones doing all the work here--from creating to discussing to providing each other with feedback.

You can make your own, but I have a set of 20 available HERE, if you'd like to check them out. They are editable and they come with teacher instructions, plus student instructions in PowerPoint complete with activity timers. You can see a preview below.


How do you encourage active learning in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

Debates can be a really effective instructional tool in the secondary classroom, but they have to be very structured in order to be really effective. In this blog post, I'm sharing detailed information for how to implement structured debate in the classroom. Click through to get these teaching tips!
This post is also featured on the TPT Blog.

I have to admit that in the past, I haven't been very good at implementing debate in the classroom. I get the idea in theory, but it always seemed to degenerate into a string of unsupported opinions and logical fallacies. I see that everyday in my Facebook feed.

Debates can be a really effective instructional tool in the secondary classroom, but they have to be very structured in order to be really effective. In this blog post, I'm sharing detailed information for how to implement structured debate in the classroom. Click through to get these teaching tips!And what's the point of that? 
A. That's not what a debate is.
B. Students are exposed to enough fallacies in their social media feeds (though they do not touch Facebook).

I always felt like we should be doing better. After all, students need to be able to recognize poor arguments in order to be discerning citizens (think election cycle commercials or the abyss of social media "debates"). And what better way to do that than to ask them to construct logical arguments?

But students need to learn this skill in a variety of ways--first, through direct instruction, and next, through trial, error, and reflection. In other words, practice.

I'm going to show you how I implement....

Structured Debate in The Classroom

This method isn't perfect (I don't believe any method is). It involves practice and lots of reflection and feedback, but here are the steps I take:

1. Teach the students about the debate structure. You can find classical structures online. I created a modified one for my classroom. It looks like this:
Debates can be a really effective instructional tool in the secondary classroom, but they have to be very structured in order to be really effective. In this blog post, I'm sharing detailed information for how to implement structured debate in the classroom. Click through to get these teaching tips!
2. Teach students about logical fallacies with examples (I use film clips). Then use a series of film clips, and have students decide which fallacy(ies) each clip exemplifies. 

3. Then give students a topic with two clear sides. I like to initiate this with a simulation or a short film or podcast. For example, in sociology or economics, if students will debate the idea of Universal Basic Income, I begin the lesson with a Freakonomics podcast about the topic. As students listen, I have them construct a pro/con chart (or if it's economics, opportunity cost/ benefits).

Have the students briefly research each side and reflect. Then ask students to write a short paragraph explaining which side they agree with. 

4. The next day in class, hang a sign in one corner that says, "Agree," and one that says, "Disagree." Instruct students to go to the side that represents their opinion. Allow students to explain why they chose the side they did. If nobody goes to one side, the teacher should play "devil's advocate," and explain the opposing side.

5. And then (this is very important), have students randomly draw which side they will be on in the class debate. This exercise is not about students expressing their opinions--it's about them constructing a structured and LOGICAL argument.

6. Once students are in teams, give them a chart that assigns a specific role to each student. The roles I use are Recorder/Team Leader (writes everything down and gets the final say), Head Researcher, and the rest of the students are each responsible for one role in the debate, such as Argument Summary, Argument 1, Rebuttal, Closing, and Closing Rebuttal. I set the timer for five minutes while students agree upon their roles (note that the recorder gets the final say--I assign that role). This is what my chart looks like:
Debates can be a really effective instructional tool in the secondary classroom, but they have to be very structured in order to be really effective. In this blog post, I'm sharing detailed information for how to implement structured debate in the classroom. Click through to get these teaching tips!
If you have a large class, divide students into four groups and have two separate debates. If you are filming, they can happen simultaneously. 

I give them one class period to prepare, so they have to work quickly to construct an argument and anticipate counter-arguments. This is a great exercise in reasoning, and really, the first time, it probably won't be perfect, but they will improve with practice (and practice is often painful).

7. On debate day, either appoint a time-keeper or be the time-keeper yourself (this works well if you are filming). Have the Debate Structure in front of you and either have a timer set on your screen, use one on your phone, or use a stopwatch to keep track of time. Again, my structure looks like the one above (but there are many structures out there).

8. After the debate, reflection is key. Have students reflect by writing or by filling out a group and self reflective rubric. I fill out one rubric, and have students fill out another. Here's what mine look like:
Debates can be a really effective instructional tool in the secondary classroom, but they have to be very structured in order to be really effective. In this blog post, I'm sharing detailed information for how to implement structured debate in the classroom. Click through to get these teaching tips!
It is not easy to implement classroom debates, but I believe it is vital. Students learn to reason. They learn to argue logically. In the process, they learn to recognize the noise of social media and election season for what it is--noise. 

Hopefully, they learn to seek out (and recognize) the actual issues.

Search the web, and search your own creativity to come up with something that works for your classroom. You can preview my resource for this here. It's editable, so you can customize it for your own classroom needs.

Check it out here.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

Current events have an important place in social studies instruction because they're great for comparing to historical events. This blog post shares five ways to bring current events into your classroom - and they're easy! Click through to read more.
Every Teacher New Year, I have a classroom resolution. The first year I taught it was to survive. The second year, it was to make it another year. I don't remember what it was the third year, but I do remember being confident enough my fifth year to make the resolution something about pedagogy, even though I don't recall what it was. Last year, I worked to up my gamification skills.

This year, I want to enrich my curriculum with activities that foster critical thinking. One way I plan to do this is to bring more current events into the curriculum. I think current events are a good way to do this for a couple of reasons:

1. I want for my students to know what's going on in the world--not just what shows up in their social media feed--so that they can be informed citizens.
2. I want for my students to understand bias and to learn how to recognize it so that they can read the news intelligently, realizing that getting their information from one source is not always a good idea.

When bringing current events into your classroom or asking your students to, a good place to start is mediabiasfactcheck.com. This site ranks news sources according to bias (evinced in loaded language and omissions) and factual reporting. When you go to the homepage, type in the media source you want to check in the search engine. When search results appear, click on the name of the news source for information about the publication's veracity.

A reliable site for fact-checking is factcheck.org.

So here it is...

5 Ways to Bring Current Events into Your Classroom

1. Current Event Bulletin Board

My department head does this, and it's really cool. Hang a laminated world map at the center of the board. Have students bring in a current event and draw an arrow from the place on the map where the event took place to the article. The class can discuss these articles, or early finishers can get up and read them.

2. Current Event Retelling

Current events have an important place in social studies instruction because they're great for comparing to historical events. This blog post shares five ways to bring current events into your classroom - and they're easy! Click through to read more.As an ELA teacher, I loved doing this with novels, but this would work with historical figures, too.
Select a major news event or events, and have students retell it with a twist--they will cast people from history or characters in novels as the "who" in the articles. How would these characters behave in a similar situation? They should add interviews from the characters' perspectives. Have students put all of their stories together into a class newspaper.

*For this one, I would caution against local news and tragedies--you don't want to make light of someone's suffering. Stick to culture, business, and politics--there's tons of material there.

3. Same Story, Different Source

My co-teacher did something like this with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last year, and it worked really well. She pulled articles from pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian newspapers. But you can do it for any topic.

Discuss a current event with your class. Have students find it covered in various sources. They should note how it is told differently from one source to the next by identifying loaded language and omissions. Ask students what the effects of these things are. Use this as a catalyst to discuss bias.

4. Current Event Journal

My AP U.S. History teacher did this when I was in high school, and I really enjoyed it as a jaded 11th grader. Have students keep a Current Event Journal over the year or the semester in which they will describe and respond to major news stories each week. They can focus on events that are directly related to the course (business for economics, politics for civics, everything for history and literature :)).

At the end of the year or semester, have students decide what the "top stories" are and create a newscast in which they report them. They can partner up and film them to share with the class.

5. Current Event Paragraph

I have been doing this activity with my students for a decade, and it's been a valuable way to bring current events into a content-heavy course by asking students to make connections between the past and the present.

Have students bring in articles related to events, topics, or themes that you are studying. Discuss how the current event connects to your unit of study. Then have students write a paragraph that summarizes the article, explains its significance, and connects it to your current unit or topic of study. You can preview my handout here.

How do you bring current events into your curriculum? Leave a comment and let me know!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!

I don't want to say it. I mean, I really don't want to say it. Saying it somehow makes it true, and as much as I love my job, I have to confess that I don't want it to be. I want to keep staying up late and sleeping later. I want to keep not constantly having papers to grade. And most of all, I want to keep having longer than 10 minutes to eat lunch.

But I guess I have to face the reality that summer break is almost over, and a new school year is about to begin.

I truly am excited to meet my new students--I just wish I could do it at 11 A.M.

Every new school year brings new considerations and a chance to start fresh. I thought about it a lot this summer over leisurely lunches and in between Netflix binges. And I thought I'd share some of my ideas with you.

This week, I am considering classroom structure and community and simple tweaks I can make to simplify my life throughout the year. Next week, I will be considering skills that I think my students need and how I plan to build them into the curriculum.

Both weeks, I will discuss three ways to help us do this. So here's week one--

Three Ways to Make Back to School Better

Way 1: How I Will Set Up My Classroom

Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!If you've known me for a bit, then you know that I LOVE tables in the classroom. I took a job in a new school system last year, and I no longer have tables (sad day, but they are harder to come by than I ever knew). 

Here is why I love them:
1. Tables are ideal for collaboration. I put four to five students around a table and partnering up and discussion come without a second thought.
2. It's so much easier for me to maneuver around the room--desks just get in the way (they are so easy to trip over).
3. Desks send a psychological message to students that tables don't--school, desks, rows, isolation, "SHHHH".... 

This is how I compensate for not having them:
1. I clump desks into groups of four, all facing the front. Desks on the left front get the label on the left (Group 1, Seat 1). Desks on the right front get the label on the right front (Group 1, Seat 2).
2. Behind Seat 1, I put Group 1, Seat 4 (Label on the Right). Behind Seat 2, I put Group 1, Set 3 (Label on Left).

Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!
Grab the free labels HERE!
I do this so that I can implement Kagan Structures--amazing for the collaborative, interactive classroom. But instead of wasting time doing cute things like "Person with a summer birthday, go first," I can save time by saying, "Work with your shoulder partner. Even person go first." Or, "Work with your face partner, odd person go first." It's all about that number.



Grab my free labels HERE.

Way 2: Getting to Know Each Other with Avatars

Secondary teachers have probably noticed that our students are largely over traditional "getting to know you" games and activities. But they do still need to get to know each other. It builds community and validates them as individuals. It gets them used to the idea of collaborating with each other (in our information-based, post-industrial economy, collaboration is WAY more important a skill than competition).

I took a note from Google and other largely millennial-driven corporations, and decided to let my students get to know each other by creating avatars. Here's how I did it last year (and it worked well, so I plan on doing it again):

1. Share a Google Slides template with students, set so that everyone can edit. 
2. Send them to a free website like this one to build an Avatar.
3. Have them share their Avatars with the class.

How to Implement:

I start with a directions slide:
Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!

Then I show them my example:
Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!
Slight embellishment on the writing talent--we don't want students to feel shy about sharing their talents, so set modesty aside.

Then I give them about 15 or 20 minutes to create theirs. Finally, they share them with the class. Since they have all been editing the same presentation (I copy as many template slides as I have students into the presentation), I just project the one presentation. Here are two student examples:
Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!

Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!

It's a super fun and engaging way to get to know each other. If you are gamifying, wow, you have Avatars for your students' profiles.

This is a part of my gamifying system. Check it out HERE.

Way 3: Being Ready for Emergencies 

We all have to be out from time to time. Sometimes those times are completely unexpected. The best thing you can do is to set up an emergency sub folder at the beginning of the year. Make sure you keep an updated seating chart and your classroom rules in it (super important). Then put activities in it that will keep your class moving ahead--NOT wasting their time. The worst thing we can give subs is busy work. I know I don't want to return from an unexpected absence to spend my planning period calling parents and assigning detention.

My department's major focus this year is on writing. So here's what I did to make sub work count:
1. I created a three-columned chart. On it, I listed all of my units in one column and the textbook chapters that align with them in the next. If you don't have a textbook, you can link to online readings (a pain to do, but worth it in the long-run). I also found films on YouTube that go with each chapter and linked to them in the third column.
2. Then I have a week's worth of activities that will enable students to keep on track with the content and to work on their writing skills. (Picture this in an email to the school secretary: copy handouts 1, 2, and 3, and use the accompanying reading and video for unit 5--DONE!) It goes like this:

    - Students will read any chapter in any textbook or an online reading and complete activities that are more relevant and engaging than the questions at the end of the section. 
    - Then they will narrow a topic, generate a thesis statement, plan an essay, write a rough draft, engage in relevant peer editing, and finally compose a final essay draft.
    - Students will watch a film and complete a film guide over their topic and create a test.
    - Students will reflect upon their own performance with a self-guided work rubric. There is also an editable rubric for the essay final draft.
    - When you return, take questions from the tests they created and make quiz to use as formative assessment. This way you will get a better idea of what content to revisit.

This takes some time on the front end, but once you have it, it's done and unplanned absences are so much less stressful. These are the ones I made:
Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!

Back to school season always sneaks up on us teachers, but we CAN prepare for it by thinking ahead! In this blog post, I'm sharing three ways to make back to school better, including classroom setup, planning for substitute teachers, and creating student avatars. Click through to read the full post!
Check them out HERE!
How are you getting ready to go back? Leave a comment and let me know. And come back next week to check out vital skills I am finding ways to integrate into my curriculum for the upcoming school year.


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

Back to Top