I started a new teaching job. This year I’m teaching English, Spanish, and Theatre Arts at a small school. I’m mostly teaching 5th-8th grade, though I do have a specials rotation with 3rd abs 4th grade.
Every year I start my classes out basically the same way: students fill out info and goals sheets as bell work while I do first day attendance and housekeeping. Next, I do a basic introduction presentation and go over my syllabus. If there is time, we do the name game, and class promptly ends. Seven years. ~1000 kids.
This time, I did something different. Year 8 began with stations. I said hello, we made name tents, and off they went to 5 different stations. (1) student info and goal setting, #goals, (2) syllabus puzzle (using block posters) and syllabus quiz, (3) book tasting from my classroom library, (4) a reading survey, and (5) write a letter to yourself.
Doing something different has already changed everything about my class. I was able to teach my expectations by showing my students instead of telling them. They were able to experience my procedures for grouping and moving around the room. And, I got to see how and with whom they interact. It was a success.
Google Voice: In Any Classroom
Ah, the dreaded exit ticket.
Really, it sounds like such a great idea at first. Hold the kids accountable. Use those last few minutes of class productively. Get a quick snapshot of student understanding. Have something quick to grade for a daily grade. Have kids actually apply the standard you just covered.
Ha. Wrong. You see, first you have to cut out all those exit tickets. Pass them out. They have to do them. <–All of that is the easy part. People suggest these exit tickets as a regular part of the routine. Several times a week or even every day. The only problem is: there are some things that paper clips can’t fix. i.e.: my desk. See sample below.
You see, for teachers like me, who are moms and wives and department chairs and, you know, 12 other responsibilities to mention, we don’t have time for that. I don’t need another tiny slip of paper (or stack of them) to try to remember not to lose.
How can Google Voice help?
With Google Voice, you get a phone number. Not only can students leave you a voice message (as mentioned in Part 1 of this series), but they can also text the phone number as well! The messages collect in your Google Voice account, and are also sent to your email account.
This is life changing.
At the end of class, kids put their things away, and I ask them a short question. For me, usually, this is a short production task (in Spanish), perhaps, a question to answer or a topic to write about. Students text the phone number and the assignment comes to my email.
Why is this so awesome?
- Sometimes kids need more time to finish than time allows. They can take the cell phone with them.
- You can provide feedback! Text back!
- Are you worried about the privacy implications of that? Well, worry a little less. Texting through Google Voice creates a paper trail. All messages to and from the account are saved. Its the ultimate teacher “CYA”.
- Students without phones can still complete the assignment on a sticky note, or from the phone of a friend.
- It eliminates (or nearly does) the tiny stacks of paper ravaging your desk.
Other ideas: I haven’t tried but really want to!
- Give this phone number to parents instead of your regular cell phone number. Keep the conversation going via text.
- Encourage kids to text questions about homework, projects and more.
- Create lists in Google voice to text extra credit opportunities, links to important info and more.
Have any ideas yet??? Comment below!
A trick I learned from a friend when I was in college about Spanish pronunciation has come in handy for me in the last few years.
The trick is: after learning the sounds that the Spanish vowels make, to practice pronunciation, try saying normal English words in Spanish.
…its not very easy… but it has two effects: 1.) practice 2.) understanding why some Spanish speakers say certain English words in a specific way.
I’ve been using this on my husband… and he’s having fun with it, and it is helping him say words better in Spanish 😉
Brush up on your Spanish Vowels here:
Spanish vowel help, 1
Spanish vowel help, 2
Spanish vowel video
Hope this helps!