Classroom management can be difficult in the digital age. There are so many tools and resources to keep your students on task, manage student behavior, and keep yourself organized. It can be frustrating to keep it all straight. What if there was a tool to keep everything organized and together?
Regular readers of my blog know that I’m an aspiring writer, and I’ve been working on my book for a couple of years now between teaching and learning more about edtech.
Here’s a great blog post I came across that’s written by an editor-turned-writer. It presents some unique tips for writers, and I found it quite valuable. Here’s an interesting snippet:
Writing is Revision
This won’t come as news to anyone, but I can’t stress it enough. The first draft is important, because you are working out the ideas and the plot on the page, and getting that first draft finished is an accomplishment, but what really matters is how many times you are willing to revise that draft. In my mind, this is where the role of hard work—as opposed to God-given talent—comes in. Some people are preternaturally gifted and can dash off a beautiful paragraph with no effort, but they aren’t necessarily the ones who are willing to revise, and revise again, and revise again, until their computer desktop is so cluttered with different drafts that the background is no longer visible.
For more, read the complete article here at Literary Hub.
Teaching in a classroom often comes from prescribed curricula and textbook material. We teachers rely on lesson plans that help us ensure that all the required material is covered within the semester. Thankfully, we also are encouraged to tinker with our lesson plans to incorporate fun activities so that students really engage with the subject.
There is always scope for tweaking the assignments we give our students or even our in-class exercises to help them relate better to out-of-the-classroom subjects that they deal with in everyday life. The opportunities for these kinds of activities occur more so in language classes, especially ESL courses, where we are required to incorporate the teaching of culture along with the structure and vocabulary of a language.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to make use of these opportunities to get our students invest more of themselves in each class project so that their learning becomes more personal, and thus, more memorable to them. More importantly, this helps students think outside the box.
Here are a few methods that worked wonders with my students.
Beginning the class with a short activity
I often start my classes with a short activity that connects with the topic I am going to teach. This activity helps immensely in triggering students’ knowledge about the subject and also prepping them for the topic at hand. I try to make these activities especially fun and engaging so that my students are focused. Playing a song that is closely related to the story/novel we’re discussing in class and asking students to interpret an abstract image have worked wonders for me.
Challenge students’ accepted notions
The great thing about English classes is that they encourage student expression if done right. I try to coax my more rebellious students into contributing more meaningfully by sharing a bit of themselves. One of my most successful argumentative essay assignments was about the validity of hip-hop as poetry. I had the pleasure of reading and grading many passionate papers arguing both for and against this claim, and I got to learn more about hip-hop than I could ever imagine. The most rewarding result was that some of my struggling students participated actively and made sure their arguments were heard.
Give and set clear examples
As teachers, when we clearly let students know that we are open to new ideas in class, we automatically signal to them that they are encouraged, nay, expected to get creative as well. To give them an additional boost, I also set group projects whenever possible in which I give free rein to students to represent their topic/theme in a manner they see fit. The emphasis here is on creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. I also list some of the projects students from previous years have done to give my class clear, illustrative examples of what they can do. I also set ground rules and hand them detailed rubrics well in advance so that they don’t let their creativity get out of hand. One of the most memorable such projects in my class was an amusement park designed in depict Dante’s 9 circles of hell.
These are just some ideas but there are lots more. With the help of the internet and the expertise of other teachers, we can always do more to encourage out-of-the-box thinking from out students and help them relate their lessons more to their everyday life. What methods have worked best for you? Share them in the comments below.
Monotony is one of the biggest reasons why students feel bored or demotivated in the class. Why? Imagine the daily routine of average grown-ups. We cringe and whine about our jobs throughout the week starting from Monday, all the way till Friday evening. That weekend feeling keeps us motivated. The different things that we plan to do during those 2 days with our loved ones motivate till the clock strikes 6 on a Sunday evening.
(P.S. I’m that grown-up who loves Mondays. Because I love my job and the different teaching methods that I apply with my students)
It’s the same with children. But unlike the grown-ups, children can have an option to change this situation. It’s the school’s responsibility to take out the monotony from the classrooms and make the lessons interesting for students.
What can teachers do?
We teachers can do a lot to change the way the lessons are taught in the classroom. It’s up to us and a little interest from our side to make learning interesting.
Children spend most of their time browsing the internet and with their smartphones. So the best way to appeal to them is to do things their way. The source of entertainment is unlimited and that’s what appeals to them. So Use mobile apps and games that they can enjoy using in the classroom.
For example, I use word games to engage my students. There are apps like Cram that let you create flashcards and your own version of their inbuilt word games.
Make the lessons visual
As I said before, things that stick to your mind firmly are the ones that appeal to you visually. Start using visual aids effectively in the classroom. Diagrams, videos, colorful charts, or even movies that explain the topics well. They all help solidify the understanding of the concepts whilst making them interesting.
Create a stimulating environment
Children spend more time in the classroom than they do at home (not literally). If you want them to love coming in every day, make their space attractive. use posters, models, student projects and seasonal themes to decorate your classroom, and create a warm, stimulating environment.
I agree that you can’t always be exciting but maybe you can do it once a week. We as teachers are responsible not only for completing the syllabus but also to understand our students, nurture their minds and keep them motivated throughout the lessons.
It’s a challenge that in turn, motivates me to up my game and keep learning.
Setting goals or rather setting realistic goals contributes a major part in motivating students to do more. They begin to show interest in what they do and start to believe that things can be done if only you focus and work on it.
How I set realistic goals?
Realistic goals can be anything. It can be solving a simple question paper, reading an online blog and writing their interpretation, making a PPT, or even just coming up with an idea for a fun classroom quiz.
As a teacher, you must know and understand your class and your students’ abilities. Accordingly, you must set timelines to complete each task that you give them.
Pairing and teaming
Every class has a set of students who are academically brilliant and another set who are not so brilliant and take time to understand the lessons. We have to make pairs and teams of students who can help each other complete the task.
This gives a chance for the brilliant kids to teach and the not so brilliant kids to learn their ways of studying.
There’s ought to be a best project or task. Use it as a benchmark for the rest of the class without belittling other students. A simple “Good job Bryan” should do it.
SMART Goals for classroom
The Goals which you set should be SMART. That a marketing abbreviation for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.
SMART goals can be something Specific to train a particular skill, Measurable where you can see and rate the performance and improvement. Attainable as the task be something that the students can finish with simple guidance, Relevant meaning the task should be Relevant to your class and subject, and Timely for the tasks to finish within a particular time limit.
By practicing this method, we can see that the students slowly get independent, efficient, focused, and motivated. Once you notice the students performing well, you can gradually raise the level of difficulty for each task.
So start simple, notice the change, and gradually, raise the bar.
AS an ESL tutor, my very first suggestion (that greatly worked for me) would be to set up a personal classroom blog for your students.
How does it motivate students? I’ll get to that in a minute. But before that, let’s get over the technical part. Setting up a blog.
Today, that’s nothing easier than setting up your own blog. There are so, so many platforms where you can get your own little place on the web. WordPress, Tumblr, Edublogs, etc. give you options to host and personalize your blog for free without having to write a single line of code.
Once you’re done setting up the blog, you’re good to go.
How does it motivate the students?
So it’s obvious that the best way to reach your students will be when they are online. People love being a part of a community. They want to be seen, want to be heard, and want to voice their thoughts.
A classroom blog does just that. But for your blog to be effective, you must make it engaging with content that would bring your students to the blog, contribute and share their thoughts.
Post your class discussions on the blog, invite students to share their learnings, what they understood, what they didn’t what they’d like to be changed, etc.
How I did it
I set up a students blog on Edublogs 5 days into my teaching career. I invited my students to subscribe to the blog for updates. They hesitated initially but did it just to play along. I was happy to get them aboard and it was now up to me to make them come in and stay.
I started posting the lessons with some humor and youtube videos. I opened the comments section for the students to engage and sat back with my fingers crossed. To my surprise, students did exactly what I planned. They were motivated to share. They were motivated to speak up, ask questions, answers other students, and post suggestions.
The next morning, I woke up and was thrilled by their interaction. I got some useful insights that I then incorporated in my future lessons.
This slowly became our routine and I’d hang out with my students almost every day even after going home.
This is the power of the internet. #MyStudentMotivation
We, teachers, love teaching. We really do. Teaching is what gets us to wake up motivated and go to bed satisfied. The best part about teaching is that you keep learning and the fun of working with the young minds gives us the much-needed rush.
But it’s not always fun when your students are not as involved in learning as you are in teaching. It’s definitely not motivating to look at students scattered around in the class with equally scattered thoughts, staring back at the board wishing they were somewhere else. It breaks you as a teacher.
When you’re done picking up your broken pieces, the first thought that plays inside your head is “Am I a bad teacher?” Nope. Not even going there. I tell myself that I’m a great teacher. With that note, I sit down to analyze the real problem.
Lack of motivation and how to fix it?
Students are not always motivated to study. There are very few who enjoy learning something new. Most of the kids perceive learning as a task that they have to do or are forced to do. We can totally relate to that right? We too were students at one point and wished for studying to be interesting.
Now as the tables have turned and since we are officially responsible for teaching the students, why not make our classes more interesting? Why don’t we get the students motivated and excited about learning?
After a lot of research, reading through blogs, talking to my students, ex-students, the parents, I’ve built some strategies to make learning fun for my students. I’ve tried them in my class and seen positive results.
I’m starting a weekly series of articles where I will share my methods of motivating students in the classroom. I’m positive that it will be helpful for teachers who want to make their classes interactive, and exciting for students.
Writing and rejection goes hand-in-hand.
For Holland Rae, a “no” can be deflating — but also energizing.
A friend and I met up to eat Mexican food the other day, because who doesn’t like stuffing fried tortilla chips topped with cheese dip in their mouth? She also is a teacher. She is on year seven of her teaching career, and I am on year two. She said something to me that has […]
What is STEM
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
STEM is a system of education that’s designed in a way to integrate the four disciplines of the school curriculum together. Here, students get to learn through real-life applications and examples.
A curriculum that is STEM-based has real-life situations to help students practice while learning. Programs like Engineering for Kids integrates multiple classes to provide opportunities to see how the concepts relate to life and hopefully spark a passion for a future career in any of the STEM fields.
Example: Imagine an architect designing a building. He doesn’t use the individual skills of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math separately. They are interwoven in a practical manner that allows the architect to make complex designs.
STEM activities provide hands-on and minds-on lessons for the student. Making math and science both fun and interesting helps the student to do much more than just learn.
What are the different subjects in STEM?
It’s almost impossible to list down all the subjects that fall under each of the STEM disciplines. But to get a good idea, here are the most common areas that a STEM student can expect to venture into.
Besides the basic Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Math, STEM gives you a taste of a vast array of subjects.
Aerospace engineering, astrophysics, algebra, astronomy, biochemistry, biomechanics, chemical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, computer science, mathematical biology, nanotechnology, neurobiology, nuclear physics, physics, and robotics.
Why should you pursue STEM?
Early STEM learners are proven to be better problem solvers, logical thinkers, and self-reliant
Hands-on learning offers essential skills for a future within the STEM sector
STEM drives the technology of our future and there is a rising demand for STEM
STEM salaries are on the rise and are expected to be the highest paying jobs in the future
If you’d notice, STEM is literally, all around us.
Science is present in even the simplest activities that we do.
Technology is continuously expanding into our homes, work-spaces, and daily life.
Engineering gives the basic designs for roads and bridges but also tackles the challenges of changing the global weather and environmentally-friendly changes to our home.
Mathematics in its basic form is a part of every occupation and every activity that we do in our lives.
By exposing students to STEM and giving them opportunities to explore STEM-related concepts, they will develop a passion for it and hopefully pursue a job in a STEM field.
List of Best 25 STEM Colleges Of 2018
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2. California Institute of Technology
3. Harvey Mudd College
4. United States Naval Academy
5. Rice University
6. Johns Hopkins University
7. United States Air Force Academy
8. Carnegie Mellon University
9. United States Coast Guard Academy
10. United States Merchant Marine Academy
11. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
12. Lehigh University
13. University of Rochester
14. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
15. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
16. Case Western Reserve University
17. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
18. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
19. Colorado School of Mines
20. Clarkson University
21. Stevens Institute of Technology
22. Stony Brook University
23. Illinois Institute of Technology
24. Missouri University of Science and Technology
25. Michigan Technological University
Is STEM for me?
Having said how good the curriculum is, the big question that may arise in your mind is “is STEM the right choice for me?”
When Americans are asked why more students don’t pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, they are most likely to reply that “the subjects are difficult”
According to a new Pew Research Center survey. About half of adults (52%) say the main reason young people don’t pursue STEM degrees is they think these subjects are too hard or “boring to study”.
To be ready for STEM, you must be interested in:
– Thinking and creating “outside the box” (Artistic)
– processing, organizing, & record-keeping (Conventional)
– helping other individuals and the society (Social)
– leading, persuading and selling (Enterprising)
Investigative people who are interested in finding out answers, knowing facts, thinking and analysing situations, and willing to explore often succeed at STEM.
You need to be realistic and interested in work that demands hands-on tasks, physical activities, practical solutions and tool-oriented problem-solving.
Can you answer the below question without looking at the solution? (JK! You can look.)
Yes? Looks like you’re ready for STEM.