Holiday Lessons
by Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

It is difficult at best to keep students on task with the weather, holiday expectations, and even family trips diluting their concentration. As such, it is probably best to use teachable moments to help take those interests and prepare lessons that enable them to relate it to the Common Core expectations. It is also a great time of year to stress cultural differences and to use art and music to add depth to lessons.

A very important message that needs to be respected and that is the fact that public schools must be aware that celebrating a holiday MUST follow certain rules. The very best site for this is

A nice sampling of lessons that cover a variety of subject areas and are of high interest
This includes having students taking part in giving activities, too.

A huge collection of lessons for all holidays and special days. Well worth checking.

ESL holiday lessons

Physical Education Lessons based on holidays

December lessons
Covers major holidays.

Free printables for most holidays

Lesson plans for major December holidays.

Lesson plans by month and it includes weather related links

Cultural awareness lesson plans
For older students

Christmas Around the World
Easy to follow and enables students to get a look at how this holiday is celebrated in various countries. A great art lesson can be developed from these lessons.

Holiday songs
Fun and the students could even be encouraged to make their own

Songs for teaching the holidays
You don’t have to buy the songs, the lyrics are listed.

The story of Saint Nicholas
A high interest, easy to read story that includes links to related sources. Great for Common Core practice. This site has excellent, high interest stories that can motivate students.

Popular Educational Social Networking Sites
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

One of the realities of the expansion of media devises is social networking. This is both a curse and a blessing for many educators as it provides a way to share ideas with others and also as a time sink where countless meaningless mesaages are being receieved with little of value to the teachers. As such, I have made a list of the more useful sites.

A variety of slideshows that explain the history of social networking as well as the how they are used. A good starting point.

The pros and cons
This site also has some excellent examples

One of the best, and quite comprehensive is Educational Networking. Take your time to explore this site to locate those groups that have interests that align with yours.

Another large link site by subject

Edmodo is for teachers and students and has a great many facets. You need to create an account, but after that there is a plethora of content. Well worth spending time learning how to use this site.

Classroom 2.0
This site requires you to create an account, but once this process is completely there are thousands of others wishing to share ideas and events. Another first-rate site even for novices.

Educator’s PLN
Another comprehensive ning site dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators. Again, well worth a visit.

Large Pinterest Section
Shows links to many sites.

by Alan Haskvitz

Being retired is a full-time job. My retirement check came right on time, although it took a great deal of patience because I kept on forgetting the password. It would be easy if they would just accept the one I wanted, “1oldfart.”

Anyway, here is my current schedule:

Monday: Free stale bread at senior center. I have to come early and place small rocks on the floor to stymie those using walkers trying to beat me to the good bread (under two weeks old).

Tuesday: Free cheese at government agriculture office. They only have American and it comes in large blocks, but I don’t mind cutting the cheese. The bad news is that is binding and it is difficult to fully explain this to the receptionist at the doctor’s office.

Wednesday: I have volunteered to work at the teachers’ retirement home. They use a bell system to call them to lunch and for recess. The rest of the time they stay in their rooms with their doors shut. I usually bring rap lyrics and try to explain them to those who arrive on time. As usual, some just don’t get it. I think it is because their children don’t follow-up on the homework assignments.

Thursday: Free lunch at the senior center. They do ask for a donation and so I drop my recyclable cans in the collection plate. Very nice crowd and since I am helpful, I spend a great deal of time cutting the spaghetti into smaller pieces for them. I use a switchblades I confiscated from one of my students to cut the meatballs.

Friday: Free movie day. They show some great films and they keep the sound level at nine so everyone can hear. Some people try to ruin it for others by telling how the movie ends, but most people can’t remember and so by the end of the movie it doesn’t really matter.

Saturday: I usually spend the day grading essays I never got a chance to do while teaching. Some are quite good. The problem is a lot are from girls and they have married and I don’t know their last names now and so I don’t know where to send the essays. I sort of feel sorry about that and so I am waiting until December to send them to the “Dear Santa” section of the post office.

Sunday: This is my day of rest and so I stay home, organize my pills for the coming week, and re-order from the Canadian Pharmacy.

As you can see, it is a hectic schedule and thus I won’t be there when the sheriff brings the drug dog.

Your friend,

alan haskvitz has been selected as one of America’s best teachers six times and has received over 30 state, national and international awards for his work. He currently does inservices.

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

A list of great ideas for new and experience teachers.

Ice Breakers and Checklists from Education World

Planning for your first day of school

Establishing rules
Ten Ideas

Ideas for preparing to work with parents

Huge selection of ideas and links on everything.

Activities and sample handout forms

Middle and elementary school ideas including school tour

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

Interesting collection of back to school get acquainted ideas

Lots of lesson planning sites
A good place to look for new ideas

Set up your classroom seating arrangement virtually


Bulletin Boards by Month