A New Year With New Ideas

For many readers of this blog post, school has begun or is about to begin.

Many of us have been in the classroom long enough to get comfortable in our routine and in that comfort, it is easy to overlook new options for a new year.

So, if I might, I would like to suggest the following ideas.

1. Invite new voices into your classroom this year.
Invite in your mayor, your police chief, your principal as guest speakers or guest readers!
Ask your parents to come share about their professions.
Have a special friends tea where students can invite grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc to visit their classroom.
Visit http://skypeinschools.pbworks.com/Directory to find educators who can skype into your class or http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/ to skype in an author

2. Replace at least 2 math worksheets per week
When I taught younger elementary students, I had my students bring in 10 items that could be used throughout the school year.
The items included: a blue item, a red item, a green item, a yellow item, a green item, something round and flat, something square, something soft, something that could hold items, and a sock.
All these had to fit in a large brown bag and were returned at the end of the year (if the parents/students requested that.)
These are items I would use during math time in place of worksheets.
Plus, you can use pretty much ANYTHING in your room as a manipulative to replace a math worksheet!!

3. Rearrange your classroom
Grab a piece of paper, a computer program, or your white board and design 5 different classroom set up scenarios.
Sometimes rows do work but be open to alternatives.
And look for various things to sit on....beanbags, couches, rocking chairs, etc.
For a first day of school homework assignment, ask your students to draw out a classroom seating chart and seriously consider using their options.

4. Join an online community or listen to some conversations to expand your idea possibilities but also ask your fellow grade level teachers to join as well.
If you are a twitter user, check out http://twitter4teachers.pbworks.com/ for teachers to follow.
If you are ready to wander into the world of projects, my website (http://www.jenuinetech.com) or the Global Education Collaborative website (http://globaleducation.ning.com/) can help you get started.
The K12 online conference archives (http://wiki.k12onlineconference.org/home/for-participants/2009-schedule) and the METC Virtual Conference (http://metcconference.org/moodle2011/mod/resource/view.php?id=13) are filled with some great conversations with people who WANT to help you be your best.
Use the resources at iTunes U (http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/whats-on.html) or TED (http://www.ted.com/) for some great conversations as well.

5. Surprise your students
Dress up in costume one day.
Reverse a daily schedule.
Go out and play at recess with your students. (My 3rd grade teacher came out and played 4 square with us. The rule was that someone said a state, and whoever the ball went to had to say the capital. I never had a clue I was learning my capitals until I became a teacher. And later, when talking to this teacher, she let me know she played at recess because she had a hard time with state capitals as well!)
Give verbal tests instead of written tests at times.....and decide really why you are giving out the test.
Let someone else teach your students -- have teacher swap days where your kids move from room to room for different subjects. This is such a WIN-WIN day for everyone!
Laugh more! Smile more! Pat on the back more!

Make this next school year a brand new year for EVERYONE!!
and if you want to try ONE more new thing.......start a blog and begin telling others about what you are doing!!


This blog post can also be read at http://jenuinetech.com/blog/?p=1527