Showing posts with label middle school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label middle school. Show all posts

1.15.2013

Brighten Up the Winter Blues with a Poetry Cafe

Have a poetry cafe event in your English class www.traceeorman.com
Host a poetry cafe this winter!

For me, January through March seems to be the hardest part of the school year to get through. The students are either restless (or just plain tired), the weather is always cruddy (I live in the Midwest), and there's really no holiday breaks to look forward to. (Not that I don't love my job, but you know what I mean...)

To break up the monotonous routine and get students excited for literature, my colleagues and I have put on "poetry cafes." The students all gather during their English class period in the media center and take turns sharing their favorite poems, songs, and other literature. Some of them share their own original poems, others read old favorites. The Foods classes make coffee, cocoa, and treats to sell and our librarian put together packages of books, writing journals, candy, and gift cards to give away toward the end of each class period. Every student who reads aloud is given a raffle ticket. Each class period we drew several tickets for the prizes. It has always been a favorite event of students in English classes.

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You can easily host a poetry cafe in your own classroom before doing a school-wide event. We tend to do the school-wide cafe every-other year or once every three years. During those off-years I host my own in my English classes. We move all the desks out of the way and have pillows and beanbags so students can relax on the floor (I do have carpet). Then I put up holiday lights. Students sign-up ahead of time to bring goodies and bring their own beverage. I usually pick up small gifts of pens and journals/notebooks from Target's $1 spot.
Poetry cafe raffle or door prizes ideas www.traceeorman.com
Find clearance items in the school supplies section for door or raffle prizes.
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This past fall I found some great magnetic poetry kits at WalMart for 50¢ each. They were 75% off from their back-to-school sale. I also picked up some locker white-board kits, cute post-it notes, and locker fresheners. It's so much easier to find things the girls would like, but the boys seem to like anything they could use in their car. Of course, candy always works for them, too. (I teach high school, so if you have any suggestions for other things that boys would like, please share!).

Do you host a poetry cafe? Share your ideas or a link in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!


8.23.2012

To Decorate or Not Decorate...That is the Question

I love looking at all the cute elementary teachers' classroom pictures. There's something so magical and inviting with all the colors, rugs, story time areas, and cute tiny tables and chairs.

Then, as students get older and the desks get taller, classrooms start to turn...well, a little bland.

What happened to the bright colors?
The rugs on the floor?
The polka dot curtains?
The decorated doors?

Are those things reserved just for the tiny tots in the primary grades? To be honest, I don't think I could picture students in chemistry class sitting around little decorated chairs doing a lab experiment, could you? And if you let high school students sit on a carpet square in the room for story time, wouldn't they just fall asleep? And wouldn't group desk formations encourage cheating?

These are all excuses we high school teachers come up with because, quite frankly, who has time for this?

There are syllabi to copy!
Lessons to plan!
Rosters to load!
Apps to be ran!

Yet, elementary teachers do many of these things and even though they may only have 30 students to our 150, they do have prep work that does not involve decorating. So perhaps high school teachers just decide that classroom aesthetics aren't that important. But...are they? Do you decorate your high school room? If so, how does it impact the learning environment, if at all?

I've actually given this a lot of thought because I like a colorful room. I love hanging quote signs and posters relating to the novels we read. And an English classroom wouldn't be complete without books! These things count as decoration, right?

I think having a happy-looking room will brighten the students' moods. At least I hope it does. I've never done any formal research on the topic, but would love to see a study about this for secondary classrooms.

So I'm going to share some of my classroom pictures that may not be as colorful or organized as my elementary teacher friends', but I love my classroom. :)

Can you tell what we were studying?
Who says the flowers have to be real? These tulips never die. :)

Please share how you "decorate" your secondary room and feel free to link up a post to your blog or website. I'd love to see more examples of secondary rooms! And thanks to all the elementary teachers out there who bring color and joy into the lives of millions of school children each year. :)


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7.15.2012

Back-to-School Activities to Inspire Creativity

Back-to-School Activities to Inspire Creativity from http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

 This summer seems to have flown by and I find myself debating different activities for back-to-school. No matter which ones I choose, I do love to inspire creativity in my students from the first day. It's important for them to see that I value and encourage creative thought. So here's a list of some great back-to-school activities you can share with your students.
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ICEBREAKERS

Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

1. I just uploaded a new freebie today, which is based on an old favorite: Create a Caricature {South Park Style}. In the past I've had students create caricatures from the novel we were currently reading. But why not have them create little miniatures of themselves? Last year when we started our class blog, my students created their caricatures but most were unable to upload their pictures on Blogger because of some filters on our school servers. I created a work-around in a Google Doc that should allow my students to not only share their caricatures, but collaborate on some additional activities. This is also included in this back-to-school free download.

Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
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The download has a student information planning guide so they can write information about themselves before creating their image. I always learn a lot about my students when I see their "mimi-me" creations. You can share them with parents on Open House night, as well.

Journalism connection: You can also have students create the caricatures for the yearbook or school newspaper. Have all the seniors create their own caricatures and use them for quotes or shout-outs throughout the book. The newspaper staff could have these figures as their head/mug shots rather than the standard staff picture.


And students aren't the only ones who should have fun creating caricatures: you can make a welcome back sign in your likeness, as well. Have fun with it!

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Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

2. Another free activity is my Back-to-School Top 10 Lists. Have your students come up with positive reasons to be back in school. The lists my students have come up with over the years are hilarious. I included some samples in the download, along with additional ways you can incorporate the activity into your curriculum.



Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

3. And who doesn't love BINGO? This is a variation from the traditional, and I certainly did not come up with the idea. I am sure I picked it up early in my teaching career somewhere, but I've included a couple of templates that I did create. And because each of us differ, I also included a blank template.

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The Collage Mobile - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.htmlThe Collage Mobile - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.htmlIcebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

 4. Last year I blogged about my collage mobile activity, which actually takes longer than a traditional icebreaker and it is a priced item. But it is another great activity my students have enjoyed.



Create a Meme - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
 
5. Create a Meme: This is a new activity I uploaded this week to guide students to create their own meme. (It is priced.) The lesson goes over what a meme is, characteristics of memes, and loads of examples--most that are hilarious! It includes a 55-slide presentation and several student templates. I want teachers to be able to use my activities more than just once a year, so this has additional ways to incorporate the meme into your curriculum: research project, literature/history connection,  and so on.

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Use Tagxedo or Wordle - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

6. Welcome to Class Word Cloud:  In the spring I blogged about using your class list to make a nice end-of-the-year word cloud (On Wordle.net or Tagxedo.com). Though it was an idea for graduates, why not make a word cloud of your new group of students' names to welcome them to your room?


Use Tagxedo or Wordle - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.htmlUse Tagxedo or Wordle - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

7. "Me" Poem Word Cloud: In April 2011 I showed you how to make a character word cloud on my other blog, Hunger Games Lessons. In my poetry unit I have my students create "me" poems (or "I am", "bio" poems), then have them paste their poems into Wordle or Tagxedo. Instead of doing this during the poetry unit or for a character, you could have your students do this activity as a way to get to know one another. Have them print and hang in the room for their classmates to see.
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CLASSROOM RULES & PROCEDURES

See another post I have on this topic HERE.
8 Awesome Ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
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8. Can I Chew Gum in Class? How many times have you heard that question on the first day of school? I always hated going over the rules and procedures because it always took so long and students were zoned out. I would explain that cell phones were not allowed and a minute later a student would ask if she could have her cell phone. Ugh!

8 Awesome Ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
This prompted me to create an activity that was student-led and more fun as we go over the rules and classroom procedures. I like to have students read the statements aloud, then they search the school handbook for the answers. If it's something not in the handbook, I'll have them guess the answer, or give it to them to record on the handout. (Writing it out helps them remember. Then they keep it in their class folder so if they forget and happen to ask if they can have gum, I'll tell them to refer to their notes from the first day.) I always have plenty of volunteers to read the statements because I wrote them in "teenage" lingo--basically quoting questions my own students have asked year after year. However, it is editable so you can customize it for your classroom and school. And because I am always curious about how others are running their classrooms (am I too strict? too lax?), I included the answers I give my students. If you are a first-year middle- or high-school teacher, this will be very helpful.

I hope you find some useful activities for your first week of school. And make sure you enjoy the rest of your summer! :)

Check out more activities and ideas in my teacher store on Teachers Pay Teachers:

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