Another week of summer has started! Is it just me, or is it going by super fast? Between swimming lessons, birthday parties, weddings, and open houses, we are squeezing in a lot of relaxing time! I haven’t completely disregarded school work though. Does any teacher? Last week, I actually attended a fabulous two day conference focused on integrating technology into the classroom. I love this conference – it is in town, run by one of the nearby school districts, and many of the sessions are run by other teachers. In my opinion, those are the best kind of conferences – other teachers being real with what works and what doesn’t!
Here are some of the tech tools that were brought up in some of the sessions that are worth taking a look at!
Edulastic – By far the best of the tech tools I discovered for the session. Edulastic is an interactive online assessment program containing prewritten, standard-aligned questions. The site describes edulastic as: Technology-enhanced assessments instantly show who’s on track and who needs help so you can take action and see growth.You can select questions or make your own. Students can go online to take it. Results are immediate and you can track and keep record of different areas that your class and individual students need work on, all with a few clicks of a button! I definitely plan to use this in my math classes this fall.
Pear Deck – Want a more interactive slide presentation for your students? Look into Pear Deck. This Google slides add-on allows students to enter information from their devices along with your slides presentation. Rather than stopping to ask a few students their opinions on various topics, all students have a voice! Although I have experienced the “student” side in a presentation, I have yet to check out the teacher’s end of this extension. The basic version of Pear Deck is free to use, but like many tech tools, you can gain more features by paying.
Quizizz – This is another tool that I will immediately be using in all my classes. My best description of this site is a calmer version of Kahoot. Yes, students love Kahoot! But sometimes it is almost a little too wild. Sometimes students got so excited, they clicked the buttons without looking at the answers. Quizizz actually lets students go at their own pace on their individual device. The classroom may actually be quiet since students are still awarded more points for faster answering, but don’t have to wait for time to run to go on. You can choose already created assessments or create your own. And best of all… it’s free!
So try these three out – I’m sure at least one will be a hit. I have a few more that I’ve found, so stay tuned!
Do any teachers out there give out “summer homework?”
You know, the packet you give to students before the break. The one they need to do to “keep up” the skills they learned? This packet that most won’t complete until two days before school starts? Teachers typically give it to students to prepare them or to keep their skills “fresh” over the summer months. Maybe it is a book to read, or workbook pages to complete? I have not done the “packet” in my years of teaching, but I have thought about some simple project like collecting a few leaf samples or rocks from places you’ve been.
However, I had to share something that I found online a few days ago and I’m sad I did not find it before school got out. I think this is a great idea to give to students INSTEAD of that “packet” or assignments. Now, I don’t think it is a bad idea to keep up with the basic skills students have learned. Yet, summer is so much more than just a “break” from school. It is a time to learn more than what can be taught in the classroom, explore further than the recess field and spend extra time with your family.
The Summer Packet
This article from ABCNews.com emphasizes those things! It is a summer “homework” list, more for the parents than the students. Although it is directed more towards younger grade levels, I think it rings true for parents of any kids. As parents, we need to remember that some things are not and cannot be taught in the classroom! Kids get tired of being pushed and pushed and pushed in academics. And even if they succeed in those academic skills, social and emotional aspects are just as important!
The article ends with a quote that I love the quote from Betsy Eggart:
“I just wanted to remind my parents to slow down, look at their children and live some life together this summer,” she said. “I can’t put life on a worksheet.”
May has ended and June is in full swing. For many, this means graduations are upon us! Those of you that still teach through June may have a few weeks to go, but no worries, you will get there too! My school ended right before Memorial Day weekend, so I’ve had a few days to rest, readjust and get acclimated to the summer schedule! However, I know how crazy those last weeks of school can be!
Our school’s graduation was on the second to last day. It is typically a big deal for our 8th grade students, since our school does not have its own high school. After graduation, our students scatter to go to the three (or more) different public schools or two different private schools in the area. Although we have small classes (our graduating class this year was under 20 students), these students have been together for most of their elementary and middle school lives! Students are apprehensive and thrilled all at the same time to leave the “comfort” of our school. We celebrate them with a special graduation ceremony with a big party in the gym afterwards!
Because of all the feelings that go along with graduating from our school and moving on to the next phase – high school – I have been putting together small gifts for the students, full of treats and Bible verses. These “High School Survival Kits” are relatively inexpensive, but I hope students find some comfort and meaning!
High School Survival Kits
I originally found the idea for these kits online somewhere. I can’t remember exactly which, but the ideas were similar to the kits found here and here.
I actually created my own printable card (but I’m sure you could easily find some on etsy!) with the items I had on hand. I included one or two pieces of each item in a clear bag, along with the printable. The sheet had the name of the items and why they were included. I also added a Bible verse to connect to each item. I don’t always use the same items, as some can be easily interchanged for different candy or school supplies. You could easily adapt these kits to be any type of “survival” kit. For example, if you teach 5th grade, it could be a “6th Grade Survival Kit”.
This year I used the following items for my High School Survival Kits:
Smarties – To remember to study hard and to make smart decisions (Proverbs 1:7)
Piece of Gum – To remind you to stick with it, and that God always sticks with you! (Hebrews 10:23)
Hershey’s Kiss – To remind you of God’s love (1 John 4:7)
Tootsie Roll – to remind you not to bite off more than you can chew – and if you do, God is still with you! (Psalm 9:9)
Rubber Band – To help you stretch beyond your limits (Philippians 4:13)
Pencil – To help you to complete all your tasks (Colossians 3:23)
Snickers Bar – To remind you that God has a sense of humor! (John 15:11)
Students typically enjoy the candy inside the most, but my hope is that they will also take the time to look at the Bible verses included. Even if they keep the card at the desk at home, they could refer back to it when needed!