Friday, March 22, 2013

Organization Resources

I wrote a book on being an organized mom, because I have that down, but I'm constantly trying to figure out how to stay organized as a teacher. Drowning in the paperwork is my achilles' heel. At the beginning of each quarter, I tell myself that THIS time, I will clean out my briefcase every day, file everything, purge etc... and every quarter I find myself facing a briefcase, drawers and a classroom awash in paper, despite some methods that have tamed portions of the beast (see this blog and this blog).

So I am constantly on the lookout for good ideas to improve. Here is a book, The Together Teacher, by Maia Heyck-Merlin, that the publisher sent me to review quite a few months ago. I finally had a chance to read through it, and I'm sorry I didn't read it earlier. There are a lot of great practical ideas here, but I like her approach of looking at the big picture first--determining what matters. There is also a CD included with customizable templates.
 The go-to source for keeping an organized classroom is Charity Preston's Organized Classroom Blog. She has many links, products, freebies and even an online magazine to help in the quest for organization. There is no better one-stop source.

Friday, March 15, 2013

What's in the Sack? Group Brainstorming Activity

Whether your students are preparing for a big essay assignment or a quick in-class effort, coming up with a topic to write about can be the hard part. Here is a fun activity I've used with my classes with good results. It loosens up the thought process, and is a nice change of pace.

Divide the class in to groups. Give each group a bag with six everyday items in it, such as a rock, a deck of cards, a piece of fruit, a magazine, a quarter, etc....Set a timer for two minutes and have the group pull one item out of the bag. During the two minutes, the group should come up with as many topic ideas as possible related to the object. For example, if the group pulls out the quarter, some topic ideas might be money management, saving strategies, summer jobs, economic policy, reward motivation, allowances from parents, getting paid for good grades....Tell the students to list everything that comes to mind without editing. The more ideas, the better. After the activity, have each group share of few of their best ideas for each object with the whole class.