Posted on | May 23, 2013 | No Comments
How would you like to see a photo of all The Mailbox editors wearing aluminum foil hats? I’ll make it happen before the end of the school year. But you have to do me a favor. I need lots of ideas for how a teaching staff can wrap up its school year in style.
In the Golden Days of Yore when I was a classroom teacher, we found ourselves walking ten blocks to a city park for Field Day. How was this fun for the teachers? Well, it involved a lot of fresh air, sunshine, lush grass, and students competing in old-timey sporting events—directed by parent volunteers! The most stressful part of the teachers’ day was acting as “impartial” umpires in the class kickball championship
How do you and your colleagues mark the end of another successful school year? Please tell me it involves aluminum foil hats. Twenty or more comments with great ideas delivered right here before Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 11:59 PM, and you’ll see The Mailbox editors in aluminum foil caps, I promise.
Posted on | May 21, 2013 | No Comments
It is my belief that every day you have students in your classroom is a day to educate. That includes the very last days of school. As much as I yearned for the opportunity to slack off a little, maybe show a film adaptation of a novel we had read, I rarely gave my students a day away from learning. And yet, I never encountered students reluctant to enter my classroom in the final weeks of school. We had already spent 160-plus days in a classroom where inquiry was rewarded and where it was clear that setting young people on the path of lifelong learning was the ultimate goal.
That said, creating lessons for the last few weeks of school that continued to engage students bent on celebrating the joys of summer was no easy task. A teacher really has to bring his or her A-game. Over at themailbox.com, we have plenty of engaging and creative lessons, ideas, and resources you can use and adapt for your classrooms as the final days of the school year slip from view.
What tips do you have for making the most of the last weeks of school? How do you take what you have learned about your students to form lessons and give assignments that are meaningful and manageable as the welcoming arms of summer beckon?
Posted on | May 14, 2013 | No Comments
Yesterday morning (May 13), the sun rose on silent wings, spreading its golden blanket across a land renewed. Renewed by what? Renewed by the fact that Children’s Book Week had descended upon us in the night.
Yes, this is Children’s Book Week (CBW), one of the longest-running literacy initiatives in the country. Established in 1919, CBW aims to instill a lifelong love of reading in young people. To learn more about Children’s Book Week, check out the Children’s Book Council’s website. Or, if you want great classroom activities that will motivate your learners to enjoy books, be sure to visit themailbox.com.
Every school year, it seems students respond to books differently than the year before. Last year’s hit turns into this year’s miss. What book have your students enjoyed the most this year? Let us know!
Posted on | May 9, 2013 | 2 Comments
For me, the answer is always 42, unless the question is “How many times per month do you buy school supplies with your own money?” In that case, my answer would have had to be “between three and six.”
What would your answer be? Submit a comment with your answer to my previous blog post and you’ll receive a coupon good for $5 off a purchase of $15 or more at The Mailbox and be entered to win $50—all part of our Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations. Click here to comment by 11:59 PM, May 12, 2013.
And if you’d like to stop spending your own money on supplies for your classroom, I urge you to register for our upcoming online workshop, “Top Tips for Teachers: Create Your Free Online Teacher Registry at Classrooms by Walmart to Save Money and Teach Smarter.” You’ll find out how to earn money for your school, simplify gathering classroom supplies, and lots more. Click here to register now! It’s free!
Posted on | May 7, 2013 | 15 Comments
By early May, with the end of the school year on the horizon and Field Day looming, a supply cabinet filled mostly with air and dust bunnies always stared back at me. The tissue reserves had been decimated by March, if not earlier. Notebook paper? Fugeddaboutit! Cleaning products? Sure, there were a few items left, including an emaciated roll of paper towels and a half bottle of Goo Gone. So May always included at least one trip out to buy school supplies. By the end of the month, hoping to never over-buy, I’d find myself out for the fifth or sixth trip for one more thing.
How about you? How many times per month do you buy school supplies with your own money? Leave a comment today! Everyone commenting on today’s post will receive a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $15 or more from The Mailbox and be entered to win $50. Submit a comment by 11:59 PM, May 12, 2013, to be eligible.
PS: Here’s another great chance to win prizes. Sign up for our free online workshop and find out how to set up your own Teacher Registry at Classrooms by Walmart. Spend less time and money buying supplies and more time teaching! During the workshop dozens of teachers will win prizes, from Lysol wipes to Kleenex tissues to Walmart gift cards. Click here to register now! It’s free!
Posted on | May 2, 2013 | No Comments
It’s that time of year. Take your students outside for fresh air and supercharged STEM learning! Courtesy of the STEMblog, here are “5 Ways to Take Technology Outdoors.”
1. Mobile Devices – Smartphones and tablets, with their wide array of apps, a camera, and GPS abilities, are great tools for documenting outdoor observations. As a result, it’s easy to direct students to become engaged scientists. For example, you can direct your class to observe wildlife, record weather changes, document schoolyard cleanup, and more.
2. GPS Units – These are great tools for getting students outside. They’re simple, easy to use, and provide lots of creative ways to reinforce math skills such as perimeter, area, distance, and more! They’re also helpful for documenting outdoor observations.
3. Digital Cameras – Capture area wildlife on “film”! Collect evidence for science projects. Present findings with words and images. Cameras always add excitement for students working on projects.
4. Digital Weather Stations – These are small monitoring devices put in place to collect real-time weather data. I’ve always enjoyed mine and am looking to upgrade. But they’re fun and easy, and teachers can utilize the data they provide in many ways. Plus you can connect your weather station to the Internet and share information with the world!
5. Water Quality Monitoring Tools – High-tech tools like electronic probes and infrared thermometers add accuracy and excitement to the process of monitoring water quality in streams, lakes, ponds, and rivers near school. Many towns, cities, and states have group water-monitoring projects you can participate in that can really bring home the lessons of environmental responsibility.
So get out there and have fun! If you have additional suggestions or want to share anecdotes, I invite you to do so in the comments.
Posted on | April 30, 2013 | No Comments
Sleep and I are good friends. In fact, I’ve known sleep about as long as I can remember. I’m so fond of sleep, we bond every night over a pillow and pleasant dreams. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back to the topic. I think a healthy relationship with sleep is a huge key to students’ success in the classroom. Research has proven that delta sleep—the deep, slow-wave, rejuvenating sleep—is essential for proper growth as well as physical and intellectual development.
Now, Vatsal G. Thakkar, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, ponders whether diagnoses of ADHD are missing an important culprit: sleep disorders resulting in a lack of sleep, specifically delta sleep. As Professor Thakkar sees it, a large number of diagnoses of ADHD in children may actually be the result of poor sleep, sometimes beginning in infancy.
I keep coming back to the topic of sleep. Every group of students that came through my classroom told me about their sleep habits at some point during the year. Night owls were often deemed the coolest by their peers. Were these night owls lethargic? Prone to “zoning out”? No. They were often hyperactive, unfocused, and forgetful. I did all I could to encourage more sleep, as I do with my own children.
Do you struggle with sleep-deprived students? Share your stories and opinions on students’ sleep habits and the diagnosis of ADHD right here.
Posted on | April 25, 2013 | No Comments
We sure do make life hard on ourselves, don’t we? For example: the afternoon nap. Ah, glorious afternoon nap, how I miss you! Oh, sure, it’s a good and important thing for preschool children, and it’s excusable when it’s Grandma Madeline in her La-Z-Boy. But for the rest of us? Sorry, no. And daydreaming? Whether you are a student at your desk, a teacher at the window, or a husband in a hammock, daydreaming is grounds for a reprimand, or worse—public shaming. Yet we may just be making life hard on ourselves. Daydreaming may not only be normal, it may be a sign of a brain functioning at a higher level.
A recent study* by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science reveals that “the mental processes underlying daydreaming may be quite similar to those of the brain’s working memory system.”
A Smithsonian article summarizing the study’s findings notes “Previously, working memory had been correlated with measures of intelligence, such as IQ score. But this study shows how working memory is also closely tied to our tendency to think beyond our immediate surroundings at any given time.” In other words, daydreaming is the brain’s way of utilizing unused thinking space to work out important problems.
So the next time you look over at a student (or Mailbox editor) clearly daydreaming, step back and realize that a genius is at work.
Share your thoughts with us. How do you deal with daydreamers in your classroom.
*The study, titled “The Persistence of Thought: Evidence for a Role of Working Memory in the Maintenance of Task-Unrelated Thinking,” was published online in the journal Psychological Science in March, 2012.
Posted on | April 23, 2013 | No Comments
Yes, unless you teach in a year-round school, that part of the academic year when you start looking at ways to wrap it up is here (or coming very soon).
My three kids have already informed me of how few school days are actually left before summer vacation. I nearly had a heart attack!
Mailbox teachers, as the remaining pages in your lesson plan book become fewer and fewer still…
- Are there particular classroom lesson successes you’re especially proud of from this school year?
- What is your favorite classroom memory from this school year (good, bad, or otherwise)?
- Were there lessons you created to meet a challenging standard that you’d like to share?
- What did you learn about yourself this year that you hope to take into the next school year?
- What major hurdles do you have left to jump before your academic year ends?
We’re always looking for great teaching ideas, classroom management tips, and more. So, before the end of the year gets too hectic, share yours with us! If we end up using one of your ideas, you’ll earn a $20 gift certificate from The Mailbox.
Posted on | April 18, 2013 | 2 Comments
Mix tapes. They were the best. I used to spend hours and hours putting together what I consider to be some of the world’s best music mixes ever. Ever. Without dispute. I was to the mix tape what a modern deejay like Deadmau5 is to electronic dance music. The advent of the recordable CD (or CD-R) didn’t really faze me at all. I adopted and adapted. But now, in the era of the digital song? I think I am done. My mix tape skills lasted a lot longer than I first might have guessed. The adoption of CDs took longer than I think the media was willing to admit.
I wonder if the arrival of e-learning—tablets, classrooms full of PCs or laptops, using apps instead of paper reproducibles—is the same.
How quickly is new education technology arriving in your school or classroom? For example, are you using tablets? Or do you keep hearing that any day now you won’t be using books— you’ll all have iPads?
I’m curious.keep looking »