Surviving Homecoming Week: Tips for Secondary Teachers

How to survive Homecoming week

For middle and high school teachers, Homecoming week seems like an endless struggle to get kids to focus in class while competing with pep assemblies, float building, dress-up days, hallway decorating, and last-minute dance preparations.

I've known teachers who took pleasure in punishing students with extra homework, tests/quizzes, and detentions just for being a little over excited. I've also known teachers who have a free-day every day and the kids have too much time on their hands and end up causing major discipline problems.

I think there's a happy medium. I try not to schedule homework during the week, but do have some productive class periods. Albeit, they are not as productive as in other weeks, but this is the ONE week students get to be kids and have fun, so I cut them some slack.

Valuable skills are practiced during Homecoming Week
And despite what some may think about Homecoming week becoming a lost week of learning, valuable learning is still taking place that might be even more essential in the workplace: students are learning how to work as a team on large-scale projects, leaders are being developed, negotiation and problem-solving skills are at their peak.

Over half of my years teaching I have been a class sponsor and have supervised more hours than I care to count (all unpaid). But one thing is certain: more students are able to participate in building these skills when they have a lighter homework load. Seeing students working together as classmates with only their pride on the line is a beautiful thing to witness.

To help your students participate in more activities, consider relaxing your regular curriculum for a day or two during the week with some creative activities. Don't worry, they will still practice learning skills. Here are a few to try:


BOARD GAMES: Playing games can be educational. I like to play word games like Scrabble and Boggle in class. You can set up stations and students can choose which game station they wish to participate. Taboo, Scattergories, Apples to Apples, Mad Gab, Pictionary, Bananagrams, etc.

OTHER GAMES: These games get students up out of their seats.

Heads Up: Make your own version with words related to your content area or a unit you are studying. One student must hold the card with the word on it and the rest of the class (or divide into teams) give clues so the one holding the card can guess the word.

Charades: Again, make your own prompts related to your content area or unit you are studying. Students act out the words/prompts for their classmates to guess.

Who Am I?: Perfect for reviewing people, events, even concepts or vocabulary words.

Never Have I Ever: As a way to review characters in a book or story or historical figures, have your students pretend to be characters and use events from the novel for prompts.

Students play Quizlet Live in class
Students play Quizlet Live in class.

ONLINE GAMES: If you teach in a 1:1 school, playing online games together can be fun. Plus, students love being competitive with one another. There's just something about a "game" that makes any type of review fun.

Kahoot: My students love playing Kahoot and searching the most popular games brings up fun topics like Disney movies, brain teasers, popular logos, name the celebrity, etc. You can also, of course, search in your content area for games. Students compete in various educational content areas (vocabulary, math, grammar, art history, geography, etc.) and raise $ to feed starving families at the same time.

Quizlet Live: Use your existing word lists for students to compete in live competitions with one another.

Socrative: No need to type in any questions; just read review questions, random trivia, homecoming-related questions, etc. Students compete live against each other.


WRITING PROMPTS: Writing shouldn't be boring or a chore. Make it more interesting by relating it to Homecoming.
• Have students journal about their favorite Homecoming festivities (dress-up days, assembly, skits, game, dance, etc.).

• Give them a prompt relating to the Homecoming theme (ex.: if the theme is related to fairy tales, ask them their favorite fairy tale or to come up with their own story; if it's a Western theme, ask them what life would be like if they lived in the Wild West; if it's about outer space, ask them if they would travel in space if they had the opportunity, etc.).

• One of my favorite short writing prompts is one I share free. I have my students do it several times throughout the year and they LOVE hearing what their classmates wrote. You can find it HERE and read more about it HERE and HERE.

Students creating found poems
Students create found poems in class.
FOUND POETRY: I keep a collection of words from my Magnetic Poetry Kit and cut from magazines, newspapers, posters, etc. I store them in little baggies that I hang on the inside of one of my cupboards. These come in handy so often. I love to have students create spur-of-the-moment poems relating to whatever we are reading or studying at the time. Use this activity during Homecoming week and have students create poems relating to the theme or whatever you wish.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES (Classroom Edition): If you aren't familiar with the party game "Battle of the Sexes," it is a game in which men and women compete against one another by answering questions that are stereotypically geared toward the opposite sex. I use this activity as a way to jump-start discussions on stereotyping at the beginning of the year. But I like to have my students come up with the questions themselves. It can take a while to compile enough questions for a full game, so I do carry over questions from year-to-year. This is a game that students usually beg to play throughout the year, so it's a perfect addition during Homecoming week.

I hope these activities help you get through Homecoming week and have some fun with your students. Just remember: learning doesn't always have to come from a book.

If you are a class sponsor, look for my next post about the best materials to use and how to keep your sanity while float building, assembly organizing, dance planning, and more.

Surviving Homecoming Week: Tips for secondary teachers

Asking Questions & Reusing Posts in Google Classroom™

Create Questions and Reuse Posts in Google Classroom™

How to Create Questions and Reuse Posts in Google Classroom™

This is the fourth blog post in my Google Classroom™ tutorial series. I sincerely hope my step-by-step directions and examples have helped you set up your own classes and assignments to use with your students. Google Classroom™ is an excellent way to share digital content and interact with students in a safe and secure way. If your school has not created a FREE G Suite for Education account yet, encourage your administration to do so. It is well worth it no matter if you are using Chrome Books, iPads, laptops, desktop PCs, or students are bringing their own devices. Google Classroom™ is available on both Android® and Apple®/iPhone™ platforms. 

Today I'm going to show you how to use the "Create question" and "Reuse post" options when you click (or hover over) the plus (+) sign in your class stream. 


The "question" feature in Google Classroom™ is a nice option when you want to survey or poll your students, start an online discussion, and/or check for understanding and comprehension.  It is a perfect tool to use for a bell ringer or exit slip (quick 5-minute assessments to refresh, review, quiz, and/or survey your students). The only drawback is you can only ask one question, so if you have additional questions you want to ask, use a form in Google Forms™ instead.

To create a question, hover over the plus (+) sign and select "Create question." A pop-up window will appear that looks like this:

Tutorial to create a question in Google Classroom™

You'll need to decide the following in the drop-down menus:
  2. Do you want to post the question to certain students or the entire class (if you are sharing with multiple classes, you must post to ALL students)?
  3. When is your due date? (If you are using this as a bell ringer or exit slip and you want it done before students leave your class, make sure to set the time as well as the date.)*
  4. Do you want to tag this question with a topic?

*If a student is absent, you can assign this question to that student only when he/she returns. You'll want to follow the "Reuse post" direction below to do that.

TIP: If you need a refresher for decisions 1-4, see my previous posts.

Next, you will want to decide the following:
  5. Is your question a short answer or multiple choice question?

  6. (For short answer questions only) Do you want students to respond to their classmate's answers or not? This is good if you want students to be able to share their thoughts for an online discussion-type question. However, if you are assessing them on what they know or remember, you will NOT want them to see other students' responses.

Create a question in Google Classroom™
Short-answer options when posting a question in Google Classroom™.

  7. (For short answer questions only) Do you want students to be able to edit their answers? If it's not an assessment, you should probably allow it. If it is an assessment, then you won't want them changing their answers after they've submitted them. (See below for the option that comes up if you choose a multiple choice question.) 

After you've made those decisions, go ahead and type your question. Here are a couple examples using both types of questions:

Create a question in Google Classroom™
Example of a short-answer question in Google Classroom™.

Create a question in Google Classroom™
Multiple choice options when posting a question in Google Classroom™.

When you choose multiple choice (above), you will be given numbered answer options. You will also be asked if you want your students to be able to see a summary of their classmates' responses.

Create a question in Google Classroom™
Decide whether or not you want students to see a summary of their classmates' responses.

Again, if you are assessing them, it's probably wise to turn that off. But if you would like for them to see the results (as a discussion starter or to see poll results), make sure to allow this. It will show them right in the post how other students have responded. 

Here's another example from the students' point-of-view:
Question responses in Google Classroom™
Students will see this when a multiple-choice question is asked.

Question responses in Google Classroom™
Students can see how their classmates answered and comment on the post.
Question responses in Google Classroom™
The teacher will see a summary of the students' responses in the left column.
Clicking on each student will show individual results.

TIP: If you wish to ask more than one question, use Google Forms™ rather than the "Create question" feature. In Google Forms™, you can ask multiple questions and even vary the question types (i.e. have a few short answer, a few multiple choice, and offer checkbox-style questions for multiple answers). Leave me a comment below if you'd like to see a tutorial on making a form to use in Classroom™.

Here's a video tutorial for creating a question in Google Classroom™:

Reusing a post means exactly what it says: you can choose to copy a previous post rather than retype it all over again. This comes in handy when you forget to share an assignment, announcement, or question with multiple classes. It's also handy for copying posts from year-to-year. Since you will want to create a new class each year, you can just use "Reuse post" to copy those same assignments you gave in previous years.

To do so, you just select the "Reuse post" when you hover over the plus (+) sign:

Reuse a post in Google Classroom™

A pop-up window will appear that asks you which post from the current class you'd like to reuse. You can select a post OR click on the arrow in the top left corner to select a different current or archived class.
Reuse a post in Google Classroom™

If you click on the arrow, it will take you to a list of all your current and archived classes:

Reuse a post in Google Classroom™

Once you select a class to choose from, you go back to a screen that shows all the posts from that class. If the post has an attachment, make sure to check the box in the lower left corner that says "Create new copies of all attachments." If you don't click that box, none of the attachments will be saved in your class folder in Google Drive™, nor will your students have their own copies of the attachments.
Reuse a post in Google Classroom™

When you select the post to reuse by clicking on the "REUSE" blue button, you are given the same type of options as normal for posting:

Reuse a post in Google Classroom™

You'll need to make the same decisions as you do with any normal posting. It will then appear as any other post in your class stream.

Here's a video tutorial for reusing a post:

Thank you for visiting. I hope my tips have been helpful for you and your students.
My next post will walk you through the "Calendar" and "To-Do" features in Google Classroom™.

If you have additional topics you'd like to see me cover, please comment below. 

Here are ALL of my Google Classroom™ posts:

Tips for secondary teachers on how you should set up your classes (pros and cons of having one Classroom per subject or one Classroom per class period).

Google Classroom Tips

Includes tips and tutorials for creating new classes; customizing the look of your classes; adding new materials/online text; adding students; and adding co-teachers, teacher aides, or access for special education teachers. 

Includes tips and tutorials for creating assignments, announcements, and topics. Also has tips on how to save and delay posting and collecting work for students.

Includes tips and tutorials for creating questions, the types of questions available (multiple choice & short answer), allowing students to interact and respond to one another, and how to easily reuse posts from class to class and year to year.

To see all my previous (and future) posts on navigating Google Classroom™, click below:

Google Classroom™ tips from a veteran teacher user

Google Classroom™ is a trademark of Google Inc. Use of this trademark is subject to Google Brand Permissions. 

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