10 Inspiring Teaching Quotes, Part 4

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I’m Advising Yearbook, Now What??? Part 1

So you are a new yearbook adviser, or you have been advising yearbook for a year or two, and you still aren’t really sure what you have gotten yourself into. Don’t panic! I’ll walk you through what your first steps should be to make sure that your first (or fourth) year is a huge success, and you don’t lose your mind in the process.

First of all, in Yearbook, we use the more proper term “adviser,” and not “advisor.” There is a long explanation for this, but just remember when you bemoaning bragging about your new title, you want to be as technically accurate as possible.

Secondly, there are many paths to becoming a yearbook adviser. Perhaps you were were a yearbook staff member when you were in high school. Perhaps you took on the position as a newbie teacher looking for a job. Perhaps you were asked to step in after a colleague vacated the position. Perhaps you were really looking forward to a new challenge. Either way, here you are, and you might bee feeling like Yearbook has a steep learning curve for you as a teacher.

There are many reasons that teachers do not fight over the position of yearbook adviser. Let’s be honest, there is quite a bit of extra work, and the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders if something should go wrong. It’s a daunting task, and that is why many of your colleagues will eschew the position, if given the opportunity.

But here is why you should not listen to the naysayers in your department: being a yearbook adviser has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. While it does require some extra work, I have found that being highly organized, delegating tasks to yearbook staff members, and focusing on the positives, I really do enjoy my time as an adviser.

Here are my top ten reasons to become a yearbook adviser:

  1. Being able to get involved with everything that happens — both on and off campus.
  2. Getting to work with students in ways I cannot in my English classes
  3. Watching my staff develop new skills and become leaders.
  4. Creating history.
  5. Getting to know all students.
  6. Getting to know all faculty and staff.
  7. Seeing all my hard work come to fruition at the end of the year.
  8. Seeing the student body and staff look at our hard work at the end of the year.
  9. It appeals to my love of organization and editing.
  10. It also appeals to my creative side.

Next up: How to structure your staff for best use of their skills and easiest management on your part.

 

 

Introductory Presentation and Notes for Brave New World

 

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This presentation provides all of the details needed for students to understand and appreciate the novel. There are 40 slides that cover author, historical context, related political terminology, settings, point of view, conflict, characters, themes, symbolism, and related videos. Additionally, this unit contains two sets of now (one question/answer form, one cloze note form for differentiation) that follows the presentation exactly. Click the images below to see a preview. If you would like to download this presentation, click here.

 

Brave New World Anticipation Guide

 

This is a perfect way to introduce the novel to your students! There are 10 thematically- and conflict-related statements that will not only give students a glimpse into the strange world of the novel and also get them thinking about their own opinions on the topics. On this two-page worksheet, students will determine their opinion for each of the ten statements and then write 2-3 sentences to defend each of their opinions. When I use this anticipation guide in my classroom, I use it as a springboard to start a class-wide discussion. Click on the images below to see a preview.  To download this anticipation guide, click here.

Blank Vocabulary Worksheet

This form works with any unit and any vocabulary. You supply the words; your students use this form to define, identify the part of speech, and to write an original sentence using the word. This worksheet has room for 20 vocabulary words.

I have used this form in my classroom over the past 13 years, and it really does work with any unit. This form has been a true lifesaver for me when I have had to call in for a sub at the last minute! Keep copies on hand, just in case.

This is a two-page. PDF file. You can download this worksheet here.

Awesome Research and Works Cited Activity / Bingo Game

CCC Research Bingo

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This fun activity will introduce your students to the how-to’s of online research and creating a works cited page (also known as a bibliography). Students use a traditional-style Bingo form to research the answers to interesting trivia questions. They also document their sources. In the second activity, students use their newfound sources to create a sample works cited page.

I use this activity just prior to assigning the research essay.

Why Failure is Sometimes an Option

Why Failure IS an Option

I’m at the end of my third quarter, and I’m dealing with those last-minute panicked pleas about grades and make-up work and college and parents. In fact, some of those pleas come from parents themselves. This is the week when I turn from my usually laid-back, happy self into the hard-nosed, crusty, experienced teacher that I can be.

You see, I value education. I value learning, and working hard, and defining success by the effort a child puts into the process of education. Grades are less relevant that the lessons learned and the skills a student achieves in the process. Grades may be important to getting into that college of choice, but they are less important in what really matters: succeeding in life.

I value education. I value learning, and working hard, and defining success by the effort a child puts into the process of education.

Look, I’m a mom; I get it. Nobody wants to see her child fail. We worry that it will affect his future, his fragile psyche, or his ability to succeed in the future. And there are plenty of special circumstances where we need to step in to protect our children: our child is diagnosed with a learning disability, our child is seriously physically or mentally ill, there are extenuating circumstances in the family or at school affecting our child’s ability to perform well in class. These are all valid reasons to step in and advocate for your child. Additionally, if you feel that your child is being unfairly treated by a teacher or staff member at a school, then you should most certainly intervene.

However, most of the contact I have with students and parents that I have about grades involve none of these circumstances. 99% of the contact I have this final week before grades post has to do with missing work and an unwillingness to accept responsibility for one’s own actions.

Here’s the situation: Student #1 has completed all of his work during the course of the quarter. He has studied for every test and quiz, come in for extra help on writing assignments, made sure he has asked questions when he does not understand concepts or instructions.

Student #2, on the other hand, is missing a large portion of her homework and in-class assignments. She rarely reads her directions thoroughly, completes haphazard work, and, more often than not, is checked out in class. You do your best to make sure she is focused in class, to alert her and her parents to her not-so-stellar grade on many occasions, and to tell her what she can do to bring up her grade.

failure2

She may be your precious baby, but you are doing your teen injustice by saving her from her own natural consequences.

Can you then understand my dismay when student #2 or her parent contacts me during the last week of the quarter wondering what she can do bring her F up to an A? Often, terms such as “athlete,” “college,” or “extra credit” are dropped. Here’s the deal, and this is what truly frustrates me: I do not understand why this grade is suddenly important when it hasn’t been for the past eight weeks. Additionally, fluffing a grade  or offering last-minute extra credit cheapens both my professionalism as a teacher and the experience of student #1, who honestly earned the A. It’s not going to happen.

Why this grade is suddenly important when it hasn’t been for the past eight weeks?

What is more valuable than a cheap A, or B, or C, in this case, is the lesson learned from the natural consequences of the situation. So student #2 fails, or manages, at the last minute, to pull her grade up to a credit-saving D. It’s not stellar, and it’s not going to get her into an Ivy league school that her parents have been dreaming about. What it might do is to teach her the value of hard work, and that our actions have consequences. It might create motivation within her to change. I have seen in it happen in many a student over the years.

What’s a parent to do? Be in contact with your student’s teacher early in the year. Come to open house night and conferences. Intercede early when you see that your child may be struggling. Ask questions. See if the teacher can give you clues to what is happening in class. Perhaps there is a comprehension issue or it ma simply be a refusal to complete work. Stay abreast of the grade situation; most schools have an online grading system that is updated weekly, or more often. Do not make demands of teachers that would put their professionalism into question. Last, but certainly not least, encourage your child to advocate for himself. This is especially true of high school students.

Encourage your child to advocate for himself.

Failure is a word that we like to pretend is not a part of success. But students, you are doing yourselves no favor by trying to avoid the consequences of your own actions. Parents, you do your children a disservice when you step in to protect them from the consequences of their own actions. Character is not as easy to come by, but it will take your children farther in life than an easy A.

Personality Research Webquest

CCC Personality Research Webquest

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This is a fun activity that I do with my 12th graders just before they embark on their major research paper. They love it because it is all about them, and I also get the added bonus of teaching them how to use the internet to conduct research, how to document their sources, and how to respond to informational text.

Students use computers or comparable technology to take a test and learn their Meyer-Briggs personality profile. From there, the complete research to see how this profile explains who they are and their plans for the future.

This activity could be used in an English or a psychology class. I use it with my 12th graders, but it could also be used in any high school classroom, college, or adult education situation.

This is a three-page PDF that contains detailed lesson plans, teacher tips, standards, objectives, and the two-page webquest form.

***COMPUTERS ARE REQUIRED***

Safeguard You and Your Yearbook Staff

I have never had to defend myself or my staff against claims of falsifying a quote in a yearbook, but I am ready if it happens. This quote collection form is one of the ways we proactively protect ourselves. My staff members collect a signature for each and every quote that is used in the 400+ pages of our yearbook.

This form is a requirement for all staff members, and I use it as a contributing factor in their grades. Additionally, I keep all forms on file, just in case.

You never know!

Click here to download this form now.