home schooling


Seven Vital Tips for the First Day of School
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
— Will Rogers

That quote might not be accurate, but it won’t hurt to be prepared and let the students know you are prepared. To enable this to happen there are seven important steps that should be taken to get the most of this first impression.

First, be prepared. Have your first day well planned out including a seating chart for the students. It is important to have good discipline from the first day, but that does not mean you have to be mean. Raising a hand to ask a question, asking permission to leave the room, even where to pick-up or hand-in work should be explained as well as the late work policy. Above all spend time reviewing school safety rules. Where are the exits, the fire extinguisher and the emergency routes? You don’t have to make the students afraid of you, but they need to know what your expectations are and when they can get extra help.

Secondly, take control. This is their first day in your class. They need to know the rules and the expect ions. Posting them in the classroom is always a good idea. I recommend having a handout for each student with the discipline code, your contact numbers, materials that they may need to bring, and any other school information. You may not have time to go over the school handbook, but make sure that every students has one as well as any textbooks that are required.

Thirdly, take a long look at your classroom. The first code in your community, if it is like other towns, usually limits the number of flammable items to about 20 percent of the wall space. There cannot be anything hanging from the ceiling or blocking the doors. Sofas and other upholstered items may also be deemed a violation of the rules regardless of how good an idea it might be. I recommend you dedicate at least one board to posting of school related items. As for the other space, I recommend you have students design them based on what is being covered in class.

Fourth, Some of the students may not know each other and so an ice breaker may be of value. I don’t use them, but some teachers find them of value. One idea I sometimes use is to bring in a wolf or other stuffed animal and have the students submit names to name our classroom mascot.

Fifth, Get personal information. I give the students a card asking them for their home contact numbers as well as their interests and favorite hobbies. I even ask them to bring a paper that they did in previous years that they are proud of so they can show it to me later in the week as I get to know them better. And, I always try to contact the parents within the first couple weeks of school or at a Back to School night. Sometimes messages from a students get changed by the time they get home, if you know what I mean.

Sixth, be open to new ideas. I have posted a great many links here. Spend some time and maybe you can discover frosh ideas. Consider having the students write a short autobiography to get to know them.

Finally, be yourself. Whether your first day of class or your 40th, the most important message to leave with your students is that you are a caring teacher. Yes, you have rules, but that does not mean you or without compassion and understanding. Remember you don’t want to mark Will Rodgers wrong.
Read up on classroom management
http://www.pacificnet.net/~mandel/ClassroomManagement.html

A list of great ideas for new and experience teachers.
http://iteslj.org/Lessons/Schroeder-FirstDay.html

Ice Breakers and Checklists from Education World
http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson074.shtml
http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson073.shtml

Planning for your first day of school
http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr360.shtml

Establishing rules
Ten Ideas
http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson274.shtml

Ideas for preparing to work with parents
http://www.middleweb.com/9637/parents-inclusion-classrooms/

Huge selection of ideas and links on everything.
http://www.proteacher.com/030005.shtml

Activities and sample handout forms
http://atozteacherstuff.com/Themes/Back_to_School/

Middle and elementary school ideas including school tour
http://www.cbv.ns.ca/sstudies/activities/1rstday/1rst.html

Back to school bulletin boards
Remember that decorating a door may be a fire code violation as well as having over about 10 to 20 percent of the walls covered with flammable items.
Mainly for elementary
http://tinyurl.com/ob5v2dk

Interesting collection of back to school get acquainted ideas
http://atozteacherstuff.com/Tips/Back-to-School/Icebreakers-Getting_Acquainted/index.shtml

Lots of lesson planning sites
A good place to look for new ideas
http://www.teachingtips.com/articles/Jthefirstday1.html

Set up your classroom seating arrangement virtually
http://teacher.scholastic.com/tools/class_setup/

haskvitz111

Bulletin Boards by Month
http://bulletinboards.theteacherscorner.net/monthly/

Discipline: training that perfects the mental faculties

Ten Skills Every Student Needs and You Probably Don’t Have Time to Teach
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

After 40 years of teaching there comes a time when you want to just yell at the curriculum designers and textbook publishers that they have the cart before the horse. Teachers need to be allowed to spend more time teaching students how to learn and less on preparing for a test which measures nothing applicable in the real world.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel that every teacher would love to really teach students how to get ready for the challenges ahead of them and use the curriculum as a stepping stone to that goal. Over the years my students always were at the top in the State in terms of standardized testing. Indeed, some of them had perfect scores. The problem was I was teaching them how to take the test. Fortunately, I as able to shorten the material required for the course by removing those elements I though were essentially chaff so that I could teach them essential skills. Essentially, I started by teaching them how to discipline themselves. This worked so well that I still get letters from students, some decades after they were in my class, thanking me for teaching them for life. I have never gotten a letter thanking me for teaching them the Monroe Doctrine.

Here is the list and it far from complete, which are skills that need to be taught. Feel free to comment and add your own.

Learning how to Learn

Developing a love for learning is essential for any educator. It is the most important lesson a teacher can impart to a student and it is also the most difficult. A teacher may have to face a variety of hindrances from lack of parental care, nutritional and emotional problems, and even severe mental concerns. Regardless, there needs to be an effort and the best way is to become a facilitator by prodding, motivating, and providing a diverse array of learning materials to challenge the student to learn for themselves. Most often the textbook, frequently filled with data with little relevance to the student, is the main focus of instruction. And, perhaps, that is the way it must be if the goal is a test that measures improvement in the acquisition of this data. The teacher can feel confident as he or she has covered the material by sticking to the textbook. Motivational, hardly, but that is how teachers are frequently judged. There is another way to do this, but it is time consuming and requires a multitude of rubrics. Providing a variety of materials and having the students learn from them is an arduous task. However, once it is done a teacher can spend the rest of years modifying, adding, and individualizing lessons to meet the needs of the students. ReachEveryChild (cited below) provides a variety of sources for this free material and is an excellent place to start individualization.

The second part of learning how to learn based on whether the student is an auditory, visual or kinetic learner and how to use these to their advantage. It is impossible for a teacher to use all of these methods when presenting lessons, but a student can create their own lessons to help them acquire the knowledge. In my classes I have students create poems, songs, graphic organizers and the Cornell note taking system. In this way there is a variety of methods for them to learn. I insist they use my linking and three transfer method of learning as well. The linking method makes them link what they are learning to other things they have learned and create a “learning tree” of it that they add to throughout the year. The three transfer method is to have students read the material, take notes on it, and transfer that material to another mode such as notecards. I also recommend presenting the answer to a question and have them supply the question. This is an excellent test of finding out what they know. It can be used in all subjects.

What is Valid

If you have time, giving the student a variety of short articles to read and asking them to figure out what would be the best way to judge this material is very worthwhile. This process should also include a study of the various types of propaganda, how to evaluate a website for bias, and stereotyping. That is a lot to swallow and so it is best as part of a school-year long program. If you are teaching social studies an ideal unit could be the differences of opinion between the South and the North about slavery. Learning how to learn is not just about the acquisition of skills, but for the student to acquire the ability to judge the material. One of the best tools to get students to read is Sherlock Holmes and the Sign of Four. As the students read the article they keep track of the characters and reach various conclusions as the teacher hands them the next page. The lesson makes them detectives, but more importantly allows them to learn for life. Seldom are we giving all the answers, but we must make decisions by what we know and judge what is valid.

Speed Reading, not just reading.

It isn’t any secret that the first basic skill is reading. But not just reading, but speed reading. Close reading will follow much more quickly if students can learn how to read rapidly. Reading for facts and reading for pleasure can both be more enjoyable if a student acquires the ability to focus on several words at one time. I taught second graders how to read over a 1000 words per minute at their grade level. The usual improvement was always 200 to 400 words per minute more and this was for language arts and social studies materials. Interestingly the comprehension improves as the speed level doubles as the student concentrates on the material. It is a win-win, but it most be reinforced until it becomes a habit and it takes at least 30 days for it to become a habit. Be warned that some students are resistant to it and so online speed reading sites can help them challenge themselves at their own rate.

Write at Grade Level +

The first thing on teaching a student to write is to explain the types of writing based on the purpose. Taking notes while on the phone or writing a compare and contrast essay may be different in length, but the ingredients are the same. However, for longer works you need to teach the student to write at grade level. I have the students write a one page paper on their favorite vacation either real or imagined. Next, I have them underline all the one syllable words. After that they circle any word that they have not known since primary school. The Fry Formula is applied and the students record their writing scores. They is always silence as the students realize that they are writing at several grades below grade level. Now, that isn’t necessarily bad, but it does force them to expand their vocabulary and that is good. I always have a few Thesaurus books on hand and show them how to use them. The results are immediate and the students not only improve their writing, but improve their thinking and organizational skills as well as they strive to improve. My article (citation below) provides an in-depth look at this successful practice that has enabled my students to win numerous writing competitions.

Teach Them to be Journalist

This vital profession is based on training that every student needs. The ability to communicate, to judge facts, and to influence others with their work. There is no other profession that is so vital for students to learn from because it is essentially what they are going to do nearly every day of their life. A good journalist seeks out evidence and judges it. They write using the who, what, when, where, why, and how approach. They use the inverted triangle that helps them organize facts. Finally, it teaches them to be curious and ask questions and, very importantly, take good notes.

Teach Them to be Lawyers

Perhaps, oversimplifying, but lawyers earn them living by researching and providing evidence that their cause is correct. This requires an examination of evidence and organization. This is another valuable trait that can help students of all ages. For example, was George Washington was a good president? Can you prove it? Can you provide evidence that he was not so good? Some may call this critical thinking, but that type of thinking can not really be utilized until a student is able to have a variety of experiences that enable them to make a critical decision. Thus using the basic skills of an attorney in proving a point and providing evidence to that end are skills they are going to need to write essays persuasive and expository essays and in life.

Be Accountable

At the beginning of the school year I ask the students to look around the room and, without naming names, tell me how many other students they would hire to work for them based on the knowledge that they wanted good workers. After that I ask them to write that number down, fold the paper, and place it in a basket. I take out the numbers and place them on the board to come out with an average. In almost every case it is ten percent of the students or less. That means that the others already have a reputation of not being good workers. The reason for this is that many students simply do not hold themselves accountable. Immediate gratification, poor parenting, the need for quick teacher assessment with little assessment of the assessment, all help feed a “who cares” mentality. This results in large scale cheating with little fear of consequence. Research has overwhelming shown that rewards must be intrinsic to be a lasting value. If students are to be held accountable there must be a reward system that works and entices parent buy-in.
People Skills

We aren’t talking about cooperative learning, we are talking about the ability to get along with others regardless of differences. We are talking about good manners, social skills, negotiating skills, and the ability to work together to create a common goal. Skills as basic as how to talk to people on the phone, how to ask permission, or even showing remorse or concern are missing and yet vital for life.

Handling Emergencies
Handling emergencies is also seldom taught at school. Yes, fire drills are held, but what value are they to the student when a fire really occurs elsewhere? My students wrote and had published in the American Fire Journal the problems with school fire drills in the hopes of enlightening others. School administrators essentially ignored it because it wasn’t an area to be tested. Sad, because the issues the students brought up were important. For example, why does the fire extinguisher stay in the room during a fire drill? Why do the students stand up in rows when an explosion could knock them over? Who knows where the dangerous chemicals are? What do the various colored helmets that firemen wear mean? Needless to say, handling emergencies is a vital skill. Why doesn’t every student know CPR? How to stop bleeding? Or to identify a person having a “fit” and knowing how to act? Taking this a step further, how to teach students not to panic and to learn how to identify people should be taught. But, who has the time?

Skills for life

Setting realistic goals, identifying propaganda and bias, budgeting time, operating a computer and touch typing, triage work assignments, handling money and investments, observation skills, where to find information and measure its accuracy, and learning how to listen can all be incorporated in the curriculum. Each of these carry lifelong importance and all can and have been taught within the curriculum if there is time. There are free units of study on almost all of these areas available. The teacher needs to be given the time and flexibility to personalize them for their class.

Before I get off my high horse I must add one more thing and that is for the student to learn how to be happy. My friend Larry Martz, an editor with Newsweek, wrote in his book Making Schools Better, about the small bite principle. This is a simple plan where small strides can result in large gains. An educator who just takes one of these ideas to heart could make a huge difference knowing well that it is at least as significant as anything on a standardized test.

Why Students Cheat
http://www.teachers.net/gazette/NOV08/haskvitz/

Making Schools Better
http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8129-1939-4

Car Rating Site
http://autos.jdpower.com/

Government fuel economy site
http://fueleconomy.gov/

How to Improve Student Writing
http://reacheverychild.com/blog/2014/not-so-secret-formula-improves-writing

Student speed reading lessons
There are others
http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/stancliffe59.html

Using the Inverted Triangle
http://www.multimedia-journalism.co.uk/node/2097

World Cup of Soccer Lessons: Teachable Moments
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

For more free resources go to
http://reacheverychild.com/blog/2014/not-so-secret-formula-improves-writing

The 2014 World Cup begins on June 12th in Brazil and is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world and the coverage is bound to be huge. There are 32 teams from around the world participating the event. The World Cup offers a great way to integrate lessons that involve a variety of subjects from art to zoology. With the results being available daily the lessons can be updated. Since some places may not have coverage of the event I highly recommend you use the Internet to keep current.

I find that even those students who are not interested in soccer enjoy getting involved in using the variety of information interesting for math practice such as percentages, graphing, and even probabilities. They also like to make a book of the animals that represent those countries in the form of an animal atlas and design flags for their teams. The lessons can easily meet Common Core standards in math and literacy.

Official site
http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/

This site has updates on the World Cup
http://www.espnfc.com/league/_/id/fifa.world/fifa-world-cup?cc=5901

Soccer lessons from Great Britain.
A wide variety including songs.
http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/themes/worldcup/

Compare the stadiums
A fun site that has pictures and data on the places in Brazil where the games will be played. Students can compare rainfall, temperature and even the capacity of each stadium to write an essay on why there choice is best or a compare and contrast essay or make a graphs of the information.
http://tinyurl.com/of8pkez
A free app
This site has flags of the nations.
http://eflclassroom.com/store/products/world-cup-resources/

Huge link sites
http://www.2learn.ca/specialedition/fifa/fifa.aspx

AND
http://tinyurl.com/246hfnt

Printables for younger students
http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/world-cup-for-kids

A photo essay on the history of the World Cup
http://tinyurl.com/q8q6td6
A unique math game based on soccer
http://www.sharemylesson.com/teaching-resource/Soccer-Coordinates-Math-Game-50012204/

ESL Lessons
Includes tests and listening skill practice.
http://www.esolcourses.com/topics/football.html

More ESL Lessons
News English Lessons
ESL / EFL Lesson Activity on Brazil World Cup
http://tinyurl.com/mml5eka

The New York Times has a blog about the event
The site has both synonyms and quizzes.
http://tinyurl.com/nnoq2lr
Probability lessons for older students
http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/05/28/1863382/lessons-in-supply-and-demand-goldman-on-the-world-cup/

Shakespeare for the Classroom: In Honor of His Birthday, Sort of
by Alan Haskvitz
National Teachers Hall of Fame

for more free resources go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/

No one knows for certain when William Shakespeare was born, but he was baptized on April 26, 1564 so why not use that date as an excuse to bring his work into the classroom. Here are some exciting ideas that can be used to meet Common Core standards and are useful for classes from upper elementary through high school.

I really like to read a sonnet to my students and have them discuss it. I use this site (http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/shakesonnets) Afterwords they create there own poem about the same subject. Some interesting and creative poetry comes from this, but most importantly when they are done they have to compare and contrast their work to Shakespeare’s and make a case for which one was the best. I let students work in teams based on the sonnets mentioned in the link.

Lots of good ideas for teachers are posted here:
Primary resources and videos of how to teach sonnets and other elements. Excellent.
https://www.folger.edu/index_sa.cfm?specaudid=2

The New York Times
All sorts of ideas to teach Shakespeare and make it come alive.
http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/teaching-shakespeare-with-the-new-york-times/

A great idea from the New York Times
This printable gives students an opportunity to learn that they may already know something about the bard.
graphics8.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/studentactivity/20081218a.pdf

These are quick, video overviews of some of Shakespeare’s work
It deals mainly with the plot.
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=shakespeare+sparknotes

The PBS offerings
Includes a webquest and more
http://www.pbs.org/shakespeare/educators/lessonplans.html

148 Ideas
Uneven quality, but well worth a look.
http://www.teachersfirst.com/spectopics/shakespeare.cfm
98 More Ideas
Lots of good stuff here. I like the Types of Female Characters in Shakespeare to get students interested in reading more. For older students.
http://www.onlinecollege.org/2009/12/16/100-incredibly-useful-links-for-teaching-and-studying-shakespeare/

The Release of #42”, the Jackie Robinson movie is an excellent teachable moment for students who can use Robinson’s story and baseball to create a number of lesson plans.

For more free resources go to :

Http://www.reacheverychild.com

Objective: To provide students with the opportunity to learn about segregation and the Civil Rights Movement based on the life of Jackie Robinson’s integration into the National Baseball League. The student shall be able to write about how the actions of one person can make a significant difference in the lives of others and the importance this event to society.

The student’s assignment should include the comparison and contracting of one person, they deem a hero, with another and also include their own opinion of what they would have done in a similar situation.

Lesson Plan

Students watch this video of Robinson’s life

http://www.biography.com/people/jackie-robinson-9460813/videos/jackie-robinson-full-episode-2190492587

Compare what Robinson went througth what Nelson Mandela went through in this story

http://www.awesomestories.com/flicks/invictus

Have the students make a Venn diagraph showing what Jackson and Mandela had in common.

Venn Templates

http://www.venndiagramtemplate.net/

Have the students review these traits of a hero

http://psychology.about.com/od/the-psychology-of/a/characteristics-of-heroism.htm

The students also need to create another Venn diagraphm and place those traits that they have in common with Jackson and Mendela.

The students create an essay entitled, Jackie Robinson, Nelson Mendela and I” that explains what they have in common.

As a group project, the students can look through the many entries in Awesome Stories and research those who they considered to be a hero and create a poster that commerates that individual or group’s actions to share with others.

Students can also be given a homework assignment to interview those adults that they know and to take notes on what traits they feel heroes have and their heroes. The notes have to be rewritten during class time and collected and placed in a class book.

Students can expand this lesson with the links below.

Awesone story links that can expand this lesson

The early history of baseball

http://www.awesomestories.com/sports/baseball-cards/the-knickerbocker-club

The color line in baseball

http://www.awesomestories.com/sports/baseball-cards/the-color-line

Other Heroes in American History

The Suffrage Leaders

http://www.awesomestories.com/history/womens-rights

Children Labor

Fighting for the end of child labor

http://www.awesomestories.com/history/child-labor/efforts-to-protect-children

The Underground Railroad

Harriet Tubman’s Story

http://www.awesomestories.com/history/underground-railroad

Civil Rights Links

http://www.awesomestories.com/search?channel=&search=civil+rights&x=0&y=0

Remember the Titans

A football movie about athletes and school integration

http://www.awesomestories.com/flicks/remember-the-titans

Other Sports Stories

http://www.awesomestories.com/sports

Suggested Reading

If there are funds, having the students read Baseball Saved Us: Ken Mochizuki

This can be used as a compare and contrast book.

http://erinschildrensliteraturepage.blogspot.com/2008/02/baseball-saved-us.html

Assessments will be done according to the grade level and Common Core rubric used by the school.

Jackie Robinson links

http://www.schools.pinellas.k12.fl.us/educators/tec/Mutert2/wbsts.html

Guided reading

By National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

For young and ESL readers guided reading presents a supportive and remediative form of learning to read that offers students the benefits of sharing accomplishments and overcoming weaknesses. It takes time to set-up, needs consistency, and a lot of time, but once the method is mastered it can nearly run itself if the necessary resources are available. Below are some of the best ones I could find about reading and guided reading.

Help for slow learning child

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/slowlearners.html

Strategies for motivating readers

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/motivating_readers.html

 

Phonics and teaching reading

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/phonics.html

Videos about guided reading

http://www.watchknowlearn.org/SearchResults.aspx?SearchText=guided+reading

A fairly comprehensive site

Most everything you need to know here from questioning skills to the time allocation.

http://www.oe.k12.mi.us/balanced_literacy/guided_reading.htm

A good how-to site

http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/de/pd/instr/strats/guided/guided.html

An excellent site for those just started using guided reading

It includes a full range of helpful resources.

http://www.tips-for-teachers.com/Guided%20Reading.htm

A good wiki article

It explains how to do it and provides lesson ideas.

http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Guided_Reading

Making Guided Reading Multi-level

Introduces the four block method.

http://www.wfu.edu/education/fourblocks/block1.html

The Significant Benefits of Guided Reading

With Specific Instructions on How to Use Guided Reading

http://righttrackreading.com/guidedreading.html

 9-11 Lessons and Links: 10th Anniversary Ideas

 by Alan Haskvitz

Voted 100 Most Important Educators in the World

for more resources go tohttp://www.reacheverychild.com

 From Time Magazine:

What my students did on 9/11

http://www.time.com/time/2003/kids/crisis.html

 9/11 Commemorations and Information

Get information about memorials, exhibits, and other means of remembering those who were killed or injured on September 11, 2001.

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/History_American/September11.shtml

Videos about 9/11

http://www.watchknowlearn.org/SearchResults.aspx?SearchText=9/11

Teaching about Patriotism

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/patriotic.html

 A large link site with lessons and more

http://www.textweek.com/anniversary.htm

 4Action

A free teaching booklet

https://sites.google.com/site/the4actioninitiative/

 The best sites to teach about 9/11

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2008/08/13/the-best-sites-to-help-teach-about-911/

 9/11 Memorial Site

Photos and information

http://www.911memorial.org/

 Lessons about terrorism

These are on terrorism.

http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson244.shtml

 Links and a poem

http://www.vickiblackwell.com/sept11.html

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorits

For older students

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/10/the_seven_habit.html

Time Magazine Photos

http://www.life.com/gallery/59971/911-the-25-most-powerful-photos?xid=newsletter#index/0

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