Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ally Week, Homecoming and More!

This year we plan to celebrate ALLY WEEK the first week of October rather than September 25-29. Homecoming week at RVHS begins tomorrow. Our GSA felt it would be better to reschedule our Ally week activities until after Homecoming, concerned that with all that is going on for Homecoming, Ally Week would get ignored/forgotten/overshadowed.

So far our GSA members have planned a daily "scavenger hunt" activity, (we are still working on riddles which have turned out to be more challenging to write than anticipated) and daily announcements.  Last week several GSA members visited all of the "homerooms" to share information about the GSA and Ally Week activities. So far, all of the feedback I have received from students and staff  has been positive!

Our first "public" event of the year is planned for this Thursday night's Volleyball game. We will be selling concessions to raise money for much needed baby-changing stations for the restrooms. We will also be raising money for hurricane victims.

Friday our members will be marching in the homecoming parade!

Hoping to post some photos soon!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

English Syllabus

Once I revamped my U.S. History syllabus, I figured I might as well revamp my English 400 syllabus  (and all of my other syllabi)  as well. After three different versions, I think I am satisfied with my final product! I am sharing all of my syllabi in my Google classrooms this year so my students will never have the excuse, "I lost my syllabus!" I include various classroom codes and other important info in my syllabus that kids will need to refer to throughout the year. For example, in my courses, we use Khan Academy, TED Ed, Quizlet, Kahoot, NoRedInk, and a number of other online tools. Kids always seem to forget class codes and passwords. Hopefully this will no longer be an issue!






Like my syllabus? It's for sale in my TpT store!

The Age of Exploration Infographic

The Age of Exploration: Life on the Open Seas

From Visually.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

United States History Syllabus 2017-2018

I am excited to be teaching U.S. History again this year! Last year was the first year I didn't teach U.S. History in my 17 years of teaching. I am grateful I was able to teach my Civil Rights History course last year which SAVED me! I've been spending a lot of time this summer revamping my curriculum, including my syllabus! I am pretty happy with my latest version!



Do you like my U.S. History syllabus? I am selling syllabus templates for U.S. History, American Government, Civics, and Social Studies in my TpT store! Click the link below.
Alt-Ed Toolbox

Monday, May 8, 2017

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

This month I plan to spend quite a bit of time in my Social Studies course covering mental health issues. I've compiled some of my best TED Talk lessons focusing on mental health into a workbook for my students to work through over the course of the next couple weeks. I plan to share a new TED Talk with my students every-other-day.

Some TED Talks merit more time than others based on a number of factors including the complexity of the topic, the length of the talk, etc. For these talks, I assign "before-viewing" activities which could include reviewing vocabulary. Sometimes I assign a writing prompt before we watch. Regardless of the length of the talk or the complexity of the topic, I ALWAYS review the lesson before we view the talk which includes reading the questions beforehand. This helps prepare students for what they need to listen for as they watch the video in addition to alleviating any confusion over questions (for example the wording of a question, unfamiliar vocabulary, etc.)

Most of my TED lessons also include "after-viewing" questions and/or activities. One of my favorite TED Talk 'after viewing"activities is a collaborative bulletin board activity I sometimes assign after watching Nancy Lublin's Talk, "Texting that Saves Lives."

I uploaded my TED Talk Mental Health workbook to my store. Check it out here:
Mental Health TED Talk Unit



Monday, April 24, 2017

TED Talk Units (How and why I created TED Talk units for my Alt-Ed students)

This school year I have been using workbooks and interactive notebooks more than I ever have before. I can't believe it took me so long to utilize these types of resources in my classroom. As an Alt-Ed teacher, I often have eight or more courses I am either teaching or monitoring throughout the day.  Keeping everything organized can sometimes be a challenge. Workbooks and interactive notebooks are a prefect remedy to organizational "issues."

Another challenge I face is providing engaging, meaningful, and interesting lessons for students for multiple courses (sometimes going on simultaneously) in my classroom. The past few years I've infused TED-Ed, TED Talks, Khan Academy, podcasts (especially NPR and WPR) and Crash Course videos (in multiple content areas) in virtually all subject areas. My students love them. They are engaging, high-quality resources that my Alt-Ed students both enjoy and learn a tremendous amount from! (I've had former students write me years after graduation to "confess" their addiction to TED Talks and National Public Radio/Wisconsin Public Radio- and "blame" me for it!)

Although Khan Academy and TED-Ed already have high-quality courses, units, and individual lessons ready to go for students, Crash Courses and TED do not. I've been developing lessons for both the past few years. I've developed quite a few TED lessons focusing on the topics of race, gender, mental health, and education and have recently started putting them together in "units." This month I finished two TED Talk Units (one focusing on Education and the other on Mental Health). I anticipate using these units with my Independent Study students as well incorporating them into my Life Skills and English courses.






Thursday, April 13, 2017

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This month our high school GSA is planning several events the last week of April to raise awareness of the issue of sexual assault. In addition, the GSA will be selling teal ribbons over both lunch periods the last week of April to raise money for Hope House.

One event the GSA is planning is Denim Day on April 26th. We are working on posters for the event and our members plan to participate in the nation-wide event on the 26th. We also plan to sell ribbons that day to raise money for Hope House.

We just finished two bulletin boards (one for the math wing and the other for my classroom). The purpose of both bulletin boards is to raise awareness of the issue and encourage involvement (speaking out, supporting victims, etc.) among staff and students. Both bulletin boards are interactive. The bulletin board in the math wing has 27 cards which open up to display additional information for those interested in learning more about the topic. The front of each card is different. Some cards are quiz questions about sexual assault. Other cards contain information about resources for individuals in need of help. Some organizations included in some of our cards are RAINN, Crisis Text Line, No More, and National Sexual Assault Resource Center. Many of the cards have QR codes which link to websites listed above.

Our members are also compiling a list of facts, statistics, and quotes pertaining to sexual assault that we plan to include in the morning announcements this month.  We're in the process of sharing information and ideas via google docs.







Friday, March 31, 2017

Using TED Talks to Introduce a Novel

I often use TED Talks to introduce new units in my Social Studies and English courses. I wanted to find a good one to introduce our next novel, 1984. I found two powerful talks about North Korea that I shared with my English students last week. Both talks elicited a lot of questions and discussion among my students. Many concepts and themes we will be encountering in the novel were dealt with in the talks including dehumanization, isolation, repression, and abuse of power. Many of my students were eager to learn more about North Korea and read the novel after viewing and discussing these talks in class.

These are the  TED Talks I shared with my students:




I created a more formal lesson for the second talk. I used this lesson with my 6th period English 400 students last week.

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/TED-Talk-Lesson-This-is-What-its-Like-to-Go-Undercover-in-North-Korea-3081599



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Problem-Based Learning in Social Studies

This month my Social Studies students are undertaking perhaps their biggest challenge to-date. I posed a "Big Question" to them last week. The question was, "What do you think are the biggest problems facing humanity today and what can be done to solve those problems?"

We brainstormed lists. Each student had to come up with a minimum of five problems. None of my students had any problem coming up with five examples. Many recalled examples we discussed in their World Studies class as freshmen. (Proud teacher moment.)

Here is a sampling of what they came up with:
hate, poverty, hunger, disease, violence, war, genocide, terrorism, refugee crisis, sexism, racism, homophobia, intolerance, ignorance, unequal access/lack of access to health care, gender-based violence, homelessness, greed, slavery, sex trafficking, slavery, pollution, climate change, apathy, fear, unequal access to education, substance abuse, sustainable energy

We also discussed solutions. We discussed documentaries we've watched and books we've read about people working to make a difference. Many of my students recalled the film and book "Half the Sky" from their freshmen year. Many remembered TED Talks we've watched together in World Studies, United States History, and English courses including "Billions in Change" and 60 Minute segments about Darfur and child hunger. Some of my students who've taken Civil Rights History with me shared ideas they learned in class with regard to the work done by abolitionists and civil rights activists.

To inspire more ideas, we watched one of my favorite TED Talks, Sugata Mitra's, Build a School in a Cloud. We spent two days watching and discussing the talk. In addition, I created a lesson based on the talk. We visited his School in the Cloud page and reviewed some of the "Big Questions" students have posted there. 

https://www.theschoolinthecloud.org/




My lesson:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/TED-Talk-Lesson-Build-a-School-in-a-Cloud-3073852



I'm excited to get back to school and continue with the unit. (We are currently on Spring Break). When we return, we plan to spend some more time exploring how others are working on solving the world's most challenging problem's facing humanity. We will spend some time in the library and some time exploring online. By the end of next week I hope to start the next phase of the unit- the essay writing phase. I am going to set up pre-writing stations to help facilitate the process. Each student is going to narrow their focus to one problem and write an essay describing the problem and what steps they think should be taken to alleviate that problem.

I'm excited to see what my students come up with!


Friday, March 10, 2017

LGBTQ Awareness Bulletin Board

I am an advisor to my high school's GSA. We've stepped it up a notch this month with our school/community education and awareness campaign. Members are planning an assembly for next year, organizing movie/discussion nights, inviting guest speakers to present to classes and the GSA and most importantly, researching the issues so we can be better informed ourselves! One idea we came up with at a recent meeting was a LGBT Awareness bulletin board inspired by several bulletin boards we found on Pinterest. We wanted our bulletin board to be informative and empowering. We also wanted it to be visually appealing. We wanted people to notice it and engage with it! This is what we came up with.





Thursday, March 9, 2017

Black-out Poetry

Today my English classes had a lot of fun creating black-out poems inspired by the book, Room by Emma Donoghue. I was really impressed with their poems. Some of my students enjoyed the activity so much they created several poems!



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Legos for High Schoolers

Wisconsin weather is back this week and my students (and I) are really struggling to stay motivated (and positive). Today I am using a modified lesson I used with my students a week ago. Last week we had a blast working our way through an outdoor obstacle course in our 6th period English class. Since temps have dropped below 30 again, we're back indoors all day. So, I created a short indoor course for my 7th period Social Studies class. My favorite station is the "Lego Station." I can't wait to see what my students create!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

How I get my English kids ACTIVE...

This past week we've enjoyed unseasonably warm weather (mid 60 degree temps). That doesn't happen very often in Wisconsin in February! I wanted to take advantage of the warm temps and get my kids outside. Yesterday I created a quasi-obstacle course on the high school track for my 6th period English class. I created 16 stations and at each station kids completed a physical task and answered a question about the book we've been reading in class. I also included a couple "sit down and read" stations. The activity was a huge success! Definitely doing this again!





Another important benefit of getting kids outside and active:
https://www.edutopia.org/blog/brains-in-pain-cannot-learn-lori-desautels

You can find my Outdoor Literature Obstacle Course Activity here:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Outdoor-Literature-Obstacle-Course-Activity-3031202

Friday, February 17, 2017

Women's History Month Task Cards

Women's History Month is fast approaching. This year, in addition to the Women's History Month bulletin board project I usually do with my kids, I thought I would make some task cards to use in conjunction with the bulletin board. Once I got started, I decided to not only assign "tasks" incorporating the bulletin board, but I thought it would be beneficial to assign tasks incorporating our school library's Women's History Month display, community events planned to honor women's history and other tasks which would get the kids out of the classroom (and out of their "comfort-zone").

Here is a sampling of some of the cards I created:



All 32 task cards can be found in my store:


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Womens-History-Month-Quote-Analysis-Task-Cards-3012597

My Independent Study student and I also made a Women's History Month QR code bulletin board! Madeline helped with the "cutting" and assembly of the bulletin board. I love her! She helps with these sorts of "tasks" all the time, often without me even asking! We did run into a problem with the QR codes not working (apparently our school's internet filter blocked them). With the help of IT, the problem was quickly resolved. Whew!

Here is the finished product:



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pentagon Papers Film Guide (Interactive Worksheet)


One of my favorite topics to teach in my high school history courses is the Pentagon Papers story. I love teaching that time period. I love any story involving freedom of press. I also love stories about unsung heroes. This year I tried a new lesson with my students. This is my first year using interactive notebooks in most of my classes. To be honest, I was a little surprised how much my high school students liked them! So, I created an "interactive film guide" I could use with "The Pentagon Papers" (it would also work with the documentary "The Most Dangerous Man in America." My students did a great job on the lesson. I'm thinking about creating similar film guides for other films I use such as "All the President's Men." 


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Pentagon-Papers-Film-Guide-2993116

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Role-Playing in Social Studies (Introducing "The Most Dangerous Man in America")

Yesterday I planned a role-playing activity for my Social Studies 400 students. We've been studying the First Amendment- Freedom of Press the past week and a half. I'm planning to show "The Most Dangerous Man in America" and although I've lectured on the topic of the Pentagon Papers and New York Times v. United States, I still felt it would be beneficial to review the "cast" of individuals involved in the story as well as their relationship to the story. I found a fun role-play activity on the Zinn Education Project Page. Despite having a small class yesterday (four kids absent), the activity was a success. Each student played the part of a key figure involved in the story. Each student was given mini-biographies, a photo of the person they were role-playing, a name tag, and a role-play worksheet. In the activity, students pretend they are at a reception. Students circulate around the room and visit with each of the "characters" trying to learn as much as possible about each individual in the time available. Students answer questions about each individual as they circulate among the "cast of characters" in the role-play. The kids enjoyed and learned from the activity. Description of the activity and printable biographies and worksheets can be found on the Zinn Education Project website. Search "Most Dangerous Man in America."

https://zinnedproject.org/


Monday, January 30, 2017

Black History Month (Martin Luther King Quote Analysis Task Cards)

A couple weeks ago, I created some task cards to use with my Civil Rights History students for Martin Luther King Day. Unfortunately we had a snow day that day (and another one two days later!) Since it was the end of the semester (and mid-terms) I was unable to use the cards with my entire class. I did use them as "extra credit" for a handful of kids who had missed assignments and needed to make up the points. I ended up laminating the sheets of task cards and assigned one sheet per student. I had my students write their answers (using dry-erase markers) on the back of the laminated sheets. It worked great! Since I laminated the sheets, I can use them again with my Social Studies students next month.


Click here for my MLK Quote Analysis Task Cards:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Martin-Luther-King-Quote-Analysis-Task-Cards-2955071