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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

See You in September
Ann Stephenson

As the current school year winds down now is the time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in your classroom. This holds true for those ending their first or twentieth year of teaching. Of course next year’s class will have a completely different set of students who will bring with them new challenges and perhaps various exceptionalities. However, the science project where you tried to prove which type of bread gets stale the quickest and developed mold that was growing all over your room, can probably be eliminated from a repeat performance.

Creating the perfect classroom is an ongoing project.  Why not spend a little time this summer preparing for next year to ensure a smoother ride. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful feeling to have a lot of items prepared beforehand so that the beginning of the year runs effortlessly? Simply make a file on your home computer and add anything you can find that will help you and save time next year.

Begin by making a weekly chart on your computer which can be used as a template for your lesson plans. Then just print one a week and fill it in. Preparing them for the first few weeks will save a lot of time once school starts, so download your state’s benchmarks to add to the chart. While you are at it, create the inevitable three days of substitute plans which have to be submitted very early in the year. Make a file entitled “Substitute Plans” and whenever an interesting lesson or worksheet is found online, add it to the folder for days when you will need a substitute teacher.

A large monthly calendar is an asset to have on your computer as a daily reminder of the never-ending projects, deadlines, and papers due to the administration. A quick look each morning will start your day off right.

Using a desktop publisher, produce a letterhead to be used for notes to be sent home. Add a template that may state “Dear Parent/Guardian: Your child______________ did not complete the homework packet this week. Please encourage him/her to work on it every day so that he/she will be able to understand the lesson.”

Two or three of these templates can be made and will be easy to upload, print and send home without using too much of your planning time either typing a note or calling a parent. These letters can be signed by the parent providing you with a record to keep. You can also prepare a  positive note to parents regarding either conduct or academics.

For those students who finish their work early, behave well, or need tactile activities, keep a list of your favorite websites for academic activities.

Some good sites include:

Handwriting for Kids: www.handwritingforkids.com

Free Typing Game.net: http://freetypinggame.net/

Fun Brain: http://funbrain.com/

It’s also a good idea to keep a list of your own academic games and pull them out when needed. A sampling of these activities are bingo, connect-a-word (when a student says a word and the next one in line has to say a word that somehow connects to the first word and so on), around the world, spelling bee, name all 50 states, name a noun, verb, adverb and adjective that begins with the letter (choose a letter). As you acquire more you can build the bank for those days when you may have an extra fifteen to twenty minutes before lunch or at the end of the day.

There are many more ideas depending on what you are teaching and the type of class you have. So grab your memory stick and prepare yourself for a great new school year.

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail me.


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