Thursday, December 12, 2013

Flipped Classrooms

Are flipped classrooms the wave of the future for education? Are you doing a flipped classroom?

What are flipped classrooms?

Flipped classrooms flip the traditional day of school to make teaching done at home and homework done at school.

How does a flipped classroom work?

A teacher creates videos, lessons, or other teaching aids online and students watch these at home or anywhere there is a computer with internet. Then at school, the teacher assigns problems and helps students complete them in class.

What is the reasoning behind a flipped classroom?

Teachers better serve the students by being there when they are completing problems or tasks. No person should be as good as the teacher for this purpose. So why not have the help from the teacher available? There is more interaction between student and teacher. Teachers can give one on one help frequently. A teacher's time is better used for guiding and directing students through tasks rather than just tossing information at them.

Students can also view lessons over and over. They can fast forward or rewind to a certain point in a lesson that they need to see or hear again. You can't do that with a traditional classroom.

Are there problems with flipped classrooms?

A school or teacher may not be fully sold on the idea. Old traditions are hard to break. However, as the internet takes on a more significant role, the idea will become more palatable and looked upon as normal.

Not all students will have a way of viewing videos and lessons online. Schools must ensure that all students have sufficient time in the computer lab if they have the need. Smartphones and tablets are becoming popular. Many students already own one. They are used to viewing things online using things like youtube.

Teachers will of course need to create the lessons. This may seem like a time consuming task. Keep in mind that once it's created, it won't need to be done again, saving time in the future. It also means that a teacher could redo the lessons and tweak them if needed.

Parents might not understand why students have no homework. Well, you don't need to give ahomework just to give homework. And homework is not really gone, it now involves viewing a lesson as opposed to doing problems. Parents might be more happy with this arrangement, as their child will not have to ask them for help. Many parents feel uncomfortable now if they can actually help a student with a particular subject.

Any last thoughts on flipped classrooms?

We do more and more things online as the internet expands even more. We are learning how to do things now on youtube. Taking classes online is expanding the education experience. Your child's teacher is the best tutor. Why not utilize them in this respect, and get one on one help?

Keep in mind that having a flipped classroom does not restrict the teacher from doing lessons in class if he or she needs to go over something.

>> Check out: How teachers should be assigning homework.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Teachers and Student Loans

There is a teacher loan forgiveness program that could help you lower your student loan amounts. If you teach for 5 years in certain low income schools and areas, and qualify, you can have up to $5,000 of your student loans forgiven.

If you teach in some specialties, there is loan forgiveness up to $17,500.

For both of these programs, check with your student loan account.

Are you thinking of becoming a teacher but can't afford it? There are TEACH grants up to $4,000. This is the "Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education" program. Check with the financial aid office of the college you want to attend.

Other student loan forgiveness programs include the PSLF, or Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. You cna have your entire student loan paid for by working in public service full time for 10 years. Again, check with your student loan provider for details

Need more help? Try: Tips for teachers with student loans

Sunday, September 29, 2013

ipads or other tablets to all students?

It seems that quite a few school districts are giving out free ipads and other tablets to some high school students. They assume this will enhance learning, make things easier, put education on the cutting edge, etc. But is this really a good idea? Does it make a difference? We think there are some issues that need to be looked at before any district starts passing out tablet computers to students.

First of all, does this technology really make students better students? Not really. Sure, it might make things easier, but is easy always better? What's wrong with using the school library and computer lab? Remember, the founders of Apple Computers did not have any technology in their classrooms. We put a man on the moon using men and women who never saw a computer in a classroom. In fact, technology might actually dumb people down. We are tossing out cursive and spelling. Why bother? Just use a computer. Why learn research skills? Just google it!

Where does the money come from? Are your schools lacking supplies, books, classrooms? Are there over-crowded classrooms? Why not address these issues first before spending millions on fun tech toys? Sure ipads can be serious, but on the surface, they are ripe for just having fun.

Is the district locking themselves into one brand? Who is going to fix them? Upgrade them? And most important of all, replace them? After a few months they are all outdated.

Should they be given to all students, or just the ones that do not have this stuff at home? Some parents would see no need to give their child MORE access to the web.

parents might not even want their children doing things in a "lazy way."

If you have ever worked with kids, you know that kids are hardly responsible. Especially with things that are very expensive. Can you trust students with hundreds of dollars of equipment? Why would you?

Things break, They get stolen. They get dirty. They get dropped. They get misplaced. They go through the wash. Can we ask parents to be responsible for these computers? We wouldn't.

Do all these things out weigh any good a tablet computer might have?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Teachers and using Summer Break

Okay, the tough school year is over and you get to take a breather. You might be wondering what to do to keep your teaching skills sharp. Well, taking a breather is the first thing you should do. Take it easy. Relax. Teachers need time to de-stress. Take an easy vacation if you can. If you stay home, open up a good book. Just wind down your stress level.

But teachers are teachers through and through. We can't really stop thinking about teaching. So, here are some things to do during the summer.

Teach something. Sunday School, community classes, tutor, even volunteer your time in a learning environment like a library or museum. This will allow you to hone and maintain your teaching skills.

If you are lucky enough to be in a school that offers summer school, apply for it.

Go to an educational or teacher conference. Learn some new tricks, work on old ones.

Write down some thoughts on the last school year. What went good? What went bad? Did you not get to do something you wanted? What are some of your student successes and failures? Then come up with a plan to improve or change. No teacher is ever perfect. We can all learn new things.

Do some research and write down and least 5 fun, interactive, engaging, and enrichment activities you can do with your students next year. Keep the list handy and check it as the next school year progresses.

On a related note, if you do not keep a teaching journal now, start one next year. A daily log of good and bad things will allow you to reflect on your teaching.

At the end of each school year, you should ask the students to write down what they thought of the school year. Let them critique you. Teachers can learn a lot from their students.

Get excited about the next school year! Wanting to get back in the classroom will make you appreciate the experience and the joy of teaching. If you are not excited about going back, you really need to rethink your classroom, teaching jobs, and even your career.

Above all, plan on next school year being the best ever! And if you try your hardest, at the end of the year, you will be able to look back and be satisfied that you did you best and gave your students your all!

>> How to lower the stress of teaching.

>> Home loans for teachers.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

High School student rants about the teacher

High school student Jeff Bliss gives a teacher a piece of his mind. Actually, aside from the kid being kicked out, he stated sme very good things that teachers should be doing. They should not teach from worksheets or packets. They should not teach to a test. They should make students want to come to class. They should get up out of the chair and teach in an interactive way. You have got to motivate students. They should want to come to your class, show up early, and be in their seats waiting for you to get to it. You can do it! You can actually have your students love coming to your class and actually wanting to be there! Are you doing that? If not read these articles:
- Create a positive classroom
- How to motivate students
- Engage your students in real learning

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Home buying tips for teachers

Teachers are some of the most stable and reliable people in the workforce. They are very good credit risks, and that makes getting a mortgage a little easier for most veteran and some new teachers. So teachers, if you are not a home buyer and you are thinking about it, now is the time. Home prices and interest rates are beginning to go up. Get in the home buying game before the good deals are gone. Here are some home buying tips.

Always look at what you can afford. You can see a dream home and be smitten. The tendency to over spend will be great. Do not send yourself to the poor house by buying more home than you can afford.

Homes are now selling. That means in good neighborhoods, you probably will get into some sort of home buying bidding war. That means you must make your best offer, and make it standout from the rest. But always look back at the first tip. Don't buy more home than you can afford.

Getting preapproved in today's home market is first and foremost. Don't even think about going to look for homes if you are not prequalified. There will be many people looking at the same house. You want to be able to offer a concrete deal to the home seller. That means your credit must be good. If it's not, improve it and put off the home buying for now until your credit is high. Because teachers have steady jobs, your income will work for you. Steady income is one of the first things mortgage lenders look at.

But you must remember as stated above, you will be in a bidding war most likely. Prepare to put as much down as you can. The bigger the downpayment, the better it will be for your preapproval and home buying power. If you do not have the cash on hand, you will need to wait and build up a savings. If anyone gifts you money for a down payment, it must be documented and verified. Banks do not like to see unaccounted for deposits or money transfers.

Politeness counts in a close home market. That is, be very nice to the home seller. You might end up looking better than the other bidders, even though they might outbid you. One example is on the move in date. If you can negotiate this better than other bidders by accommodating the seller's date, you may win with a slightly lower bid.

Above all, you need to find the best and most experienced real estate agent that you can find. They will expertly lead you through the process.

For more tips, see: Home loans for teachers.

>> Tuition-free colleges.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New GED Test coming

If you are working on a GED, you might want to speed it up. On January 14, 2014, a new GED test will be coming out. The creators say it will align with the so-called Common Core curriculum that is being adopted by many states. This is to have students who get a high school diploma be more college-ready.

Study hard now so that you won't need to basically start all over again next year, especially if you are taking practice tests. If you do not pass all sections before December 31, 2013, your test scores will expire and you will indeed be starting all over again.

The new GED test will also be much more expensive at $120.

The GED test was first created to help out military personnel in WWII, helping them to get a high school diploma that would be good in all states.

The new GED test will undergo the most changes ever in the coming year. The test will no longer be five sections, but four: language arts, mathematical reasoning, science, and social studies. Instead of writing an essay, writing will be incorporated into the social studies and language arts sections.

Because these are "new" standards, many adults probably have not yet been exposed to them during their regular school years. Writing and analysis are more emphasized.

The new GED test will most likely be computer-based when taken, but some states are trying to adopt a pencil and paper pathway as well.

Bottom line, if you are going for your GED this year, get it done ASAP!

>> Home loans for Teachers

>> CBEST Test Prep

>> Read books online free

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Become a school counselor

This is National School Counseling Week, and school counselors will be celebrating their career choice. Have you been thinking about becoming a teacher, but thought it wasn't quite right for you? Perhaps you still want to get into the education field, but are having trouble with a career choice. Becoming a school counselor may be just the choice for you! You will be able to work with kids, helping them, without being in charge of a classroom at a time. School counselor is a rewarding job that can make a difference.

School counselors work with students at all schools, all grades, and all ages. They will help with education choices, but they do other things as well. They help students plan careers, discuss learning strategies, and help with the academic success of students. But they also deal with personal issues like drug abuse, conflicts, even family matters. Anything that affects the student in any way, a counselor is trained to deal with it.

Students are not the only ones a school counselor works with. They work with parents and teachers, helping each one to understand and plan for the needs of the student. They will help parents understand their student's achievement level. Counselors can help parents plan for their child's college and career choice. They are there to provide resources and references for teachers and parents. Teachers can readily get help for classroom interventions.

School counselors can also help teachers with lesson planning, helping to adapt them to students. Counselors can help with study skills and general academic support.

Administrators are also part of the mix. School counselors help with school policies on bullying, conflict resolution, as well as picking speakers for assemblies. School counselors will be expected to understand the school atmosphere and overall needs of the student body.

Counselors may also work with outside people and organizations, setting up job opportunities, shadowing, or other employment experiences. High school counselors are most involved with helping students with career and college choices.

Job opportunities will continue to grow for school counselors. And company or organization, from schools to residential facilities, utilize counselors. Counselors will become more involved in vocational training and drug abuse as the country changes and faces challenges in new ways.

How do you become a school counselor? First thing is to contact a local college, or a college in your state of choice. They will have all the details and requirements. Generally, a school counselor gets a bachelor's degree, then goes on for a school counselor credential. Normally these are graduate level programs, giving you the school counselor credential and a master's degree at the same time.

>> How to become a teacher.

>> Getting private scholarships.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teachers and Deep Learning

Standardized test have been getting a bad rap for the past few years, and now educators are coming up with alternatives. Or at least to supplement them. Deep learning is starting to be introduced in education circles. Are you doing deep learning, or have you even heard of it?

What is Deep Learning?
Well, it would seem it would be the opposite of shallow learning. That is, learning something just because the teacher says to. Like learn the state capitals. Can you go any "deeper" than that? We will discuss that. But in short, deep learning means to go beyond just learning something superficial. To go deeper in the subject, most importantly, introduce a real world connection to what is being learned. Most beneficial deep learning would involve something hands-on.

Here are some examples of deep learning.
For state capitals, for example, a student could draw a floor plan of the departments of the state, and label how each department is run and interacts with the public. Students could even build a scale model. A classroom could put on a play on how a law gets passed in their state.

Now do you get the idea of deep learning?

If your science lesson was on solar power, students could construct a solar project that used solar power to perform some task.

Any subject, it would seem, can go deeper into learning.

Fractions, students could measure pieces of wood, then add up the total in inches using fractions. They could even construct a small model using plans that include fractions in measurements.

We can't give each and every example of deep learning and a school subject, but each teacher should be able to come up with something "deeper."

Here are some generals ideas for deep learning.
Write a script and put on a play, skit, video, or even puppet show. Build or construct something. Draw diagrams. Put together a scrapbook. Keep a journal. Make a game. Design and model costumes. Have a mock trial. Teachers, are ideas going around in your heads now?

Are there problems with deep learning? Yes. Your students will not be used to it, so you will need to guide and sell them. It can be time consuming, and might take away from facts and figures that are part of the core curriculum in them. So, you need to devise ways of getting the core curriculum involved as well. Some projects are better done in groups. You will encounter lazy students. Some parents might object that their child cannot complete things. As an experienced teacher, you should be able to handle all these problems.

Here's two last things on deep learning. One, if you were a GREAT teacher now, chances are you are already doing things like this anyway! It's just good teaching. Second, we will still need standardized tests in some form. It's just the way the real world works. Standardized tests are not going away, and they are actually used in may careers and licenses.

Deep learning should make teaching and learning not only more enjoyable, but more effective!

>> Free worksheets for classroom teachers.

>> Substitute teacher tips and tricks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Homework does not equal more learning

In the past few years, it seems that teachers have been encouraged to pile on more homework, in the hope that it creates more learning. So, teachers have obliged, and now they seem to be fine with more homework.

However, popular opinion is growing in the opposite direction. More and more parents are beginning to see the burden that homework has put on their children. Many advocacy groups are showing similar opinions.

The conclusion will soon be reached that more homework does not lead to more learning.

It may have the opposite effect. Teachers just scramble to give homework with little thought as to the reason. Just assign something, actually pulling students away from enjoying learning what they are supposed to be responsible for.

AP classes are also being looked at Dartmouth College will no longer give college credit for them in a couple of years.

More homework puts stress on everybody involved with your child's learning. The child is stressed with more work. The parent is stressed trying to fit family time and activities around homework. Teachers are stressed because more homework means more grading, more paper work, and more planning.

Children are in school for roughly 6-7 hours a day. Does it make sense to give them more work? Would you like to work 8 hours, then your boss give you 2 more hours of activity at home to reinforce your work skills? Hardly.

Children need down time to regroup and be kids. They need to socialize and interact with family and friends. A better adjusted student is more inclined to be a better student overall.

Want tips on how to implement homework in your class? Try: Teachers and using homework effectively.

You might also like: Best teacher books.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teachers and Social Media

Everybody is using social media, including teachers. Facebook, twitter, and youtube are probably the most popular social sharing sites on the net. Should teachers be using them? Should schools have rules about how to use them? Is it appropriate for teachers to share classroom photos or incidents? Should teachers be punished for using these sites inappropriately?

Right now, there is a teacher in hot water for posting pictures of some of her students with duck tape over their mouths, with a caption about how to keep kids quiet.

Should that teacher be punished? For what? Using social media or duck taping students' mouths?

You must have a complete lapse of your brain if you use duck tape in that manner, and then post it.

The bottom line is this. Teachers are in the public eye and need to maintain a certain trust level with society. Teachers do have some sort of a moral clause in their contracts, even if this is not spelled out completely.

So why would a teacher jeopardize their career by doing anything inappropriate? Posting on facebook is actually a nonissue.

Facebook is just a way of getting caught.

Do not post anything personal about your classroom, students, or school. That could get you in trouble for violating students right to privacy.

Every teacher should be expected to know what is appropriate to post. Nobody should need to spell that out.

Teachers are under a microscope. Do not give anyone a reason to think you are behaving badly and give them reasons to discipline you.

Even blocking a facebook account to only certain people is not a good idea either, if you post inappropriate things. There is never any guarantee of your postings staying hidden. Why take that chance?

School districts should not need to have a policy. It's just common sense. Do you lack common sense as a teacher? I hope not.

Social media can be a great thing, but it can be a two edged sword. Teachers should especially use it wisely.

>> How to use homework effectively.

>> How to be a teacher.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Should school day and year be extended?

Teachers and public education are under fire from all sides of the political aisle. No state or district seems safe from being pressured into making school and students better. Two proposals seem to be getting a lot of attention these days. Either making the school day longer, or adding days to the school year. What do you think? Do we need to lengthen the school day and year?

The ones who are for it, seem to make the argument that making either the school day longer, or school year, will mean students are in the classroom learning longer. And, logic goes, that if students are in the classroom longer, then they must be learning more, right? It can't be anything but good to make school longer.

Those opposed see no reason to do either. They feel that the schools are not being given the resources to adequately teach students. More money should be spent on schools and students, not longer days or years. They feel they are not given a chance now to teach as well as they should. A longer school day will not fix the problems in public schools.

So what's the bottom line? Making students spend time in the classroom under the belief that students will somehow learn more and better, makes no sense. The school day and year have been roughly the same for a very long time. So, why all of a sudden should it be longer? Money also is not the real problem. Money cannot buy a great teacher, nor can it force a student to perform. Every school in the country is funded for a basic education. It's really what each school and district do with their resources that is the problem.

When I taught in the public schools, I saw an enormous amount of time wasted at school. And I mean wasted as in no real teaching or learning going on. The first and last few minutes of a school day are basically for entering or leaving. Toss in recess and lunch, and you have little time for real instruction.

What are other school day time killers? I would be stepping on a lot of toes if I said what I saw on a regular basis. If you think teachers teach and students learn for 7 hours a day, you are sadly mistaken. Forget about Friday afternoons, especially Fridays before a Holiday break or 3 day weekend. Does your child have a Christmas party? Halloween party? Birthday parties for kids who have mothers bring in cupcakes? Ever here of Friday fun time?

I once was observed a class that could earn free time during the week. That is, for each amount of time they worked and listened, they earned a certain amount of free time on Friday.

Not to mention assemblies, walking to and from recess, library time, and other stuff done during the day that teachers do just to break up the monotony. Sometimes you need a break and just relax, but then why extend the school day? Just causes more time to be wasted.

I know a lot of teachers will be honest and admit that they "waste" a lot of classroom time doing non-educational things. Some would probably say it adds value to the school day.

The real solution would be to get teachers organized now with the time they have. principals need to be responsible for making teachers utilize the school day teaching and learning.

Extending the school day and year will do nothing.

Think about this. If your boss told you that you are going to start working 9 hours a day for 6 days, what you think? Especially if he or she told you that it was to improve quality of your work!

>> How to be an effective teacher.

>> How to be a teacher.