Secondary Solutions

Ideas, tips, and tools for the middle and high school English Language Arts teacher. Visit our store at www.4secondarysolutions.com!

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10 Things English Teachers Should Do this Summer

Summer

1. Read something the kids are reading. This is a double win that I don’t have time for during the school year.  Chances are, they are picking light beach reads that will entertain you and give you something to talk about next year.  I suggest John Green’s Looking for Alaska or The Fault in Our Stars.  Other popular books include The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Inheritance Cycle, The Private Series, and The Privilege Series.  I like to ask my students right before break which books they recommend.

2. Catch up on sleep.  You deserve it! Seriously, after all those late nights grading essays and early mornings prepping lectures.  Take a few vacation days to catch up!

3. Attend a conference.  There are so many amazing opportunities in the summer.  I’m excited for a week long conference I will be attending in San Diego, which I know will be professionally fulfilling and I’m making a little family vacation out of it too!  Check out our tips for getting the most out of any conference.

4.  Do something just for fun. We make so many sacrifices for our jobs and our students.  Take a day or a month to remember your passion for crafts or swimming or bad reality TV!  Time for pure fun will revive you come August and get you through that next year.

5. Read an author biography. We help students fall in love with literature every year.  Knowing the people behind the books and poems helps take it to that next level (and I certainly don’t have time during the school year to get in that much extra reading!) For something light hearted and appealing to teens, check out Secret Lives of Great Authors or you can pick something more traditional like the Robert Frost Biography of an American Poet ebook.

6. Take a field trip. One year when I was teaching Farewell to Manzanar, I visited Manzanar the summer before and it helped bring in that extra level of passion (plus pictures!).  This year, I think I will make it over to the Getty Museum to take in some of the great art.

7. Learn one new edtech tool. Might I suggest some video tutorials from yours truly: Google Drive, Grammarly, Collaborize Classroom, Quizlet, and more!  (Click on the tag “technology” in the right hand margin of this page for a full list) If you are not a tech person, don’t overwhelm yourself.  Just pick one that would make your life easier or your teaching more effective.

8. Organize your inspiration.  Use pinterest, use post-its, or use any other system you like. as long as you inspire yourself and organize the inspiration so you can actually use the ideas in real life.

9. Reflect on the previous school year. A few weeks into the summer, I like to review the course assessments I gave at the end of the school year.  With a little distance, I find this review even more informative.  Here’s a link to the post about my course assessment.

10. Set professional goals. Set goals in the summer, while you are still rested and idealistic.  I like to pick only one or two things to focus on during the year so I can keep my eye on them all year long and not be overwhelmed with a long list. Here’s a post about some of my goals from last year.

What do you think English teachers should be doing over the summer?  Any book recommendations?  Leave us a comment below.

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No Red Ink Video Tutorial: Teaching Grammar With Style!

I’m really excited to share a new teacher tech tool with you today!  Although, I am just getting started with it, I think NoRedInk.com is a tool to keep an eye on!  Here’s why I love it:

  • There is a free version (After I use it for a bit, I may upgrade, but it is nice to try it free!). It also appears to be growing rapidly in topics and such.
  • It covers a lot of the grammar topics that my high school students still struggle with, but I don’t really have time to teach in the older grades.
  • It allows students to pick topics of interest like sports, popular TV shows, disney, etc. These topics are then woven into grammar practices, keeping students engaged.
  • Students can practice as much or as little as needed before testing so that differentiation is built in. Students can work at their own pace with as much scaffolding or independence as they need.
  • The record keeping on the teacher side is very clear and easy to follow.

Here’s my quick video tutorial showing off the goods.  Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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End of the Year Tips: Pinterest Round Up

Last week, we gave away a free end of the year survey to help improve pedagogy and this week we are continuing the celebration of the end of this school year with a pinterest round up of awesome ideas to wrap up 2013-2014!  We wish you the very best end to the school year and a restful summer!  Don’t forget to stop by every week for more teacher inspiration!

Tips and Ideas for Ending The School Year:

Note: Click on each picture to check out the whole post/original source and click here to see all of our awesome teacher idea pinterest boards!

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I love this idea of creating top 10 lists!  You could use this at any grade level with a whole host of topics!  0f11d424aaf120624d43e19e342f59e3

This super cute picture frame idea may have to be a little bigger for my fellow high school teachers, but it could add up to a really cute decoration and it’s a cool way to capture the signature of the next famous scientist, athlete, or writer!78e1bdf81fae46b18e8c386125df99e0

It is never too late to get prepared for next year!  Check out these tips and resolutions that can generalize to all of our grade levels.
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When I think of the end of the school year, I think about celebrating summer with my family, but I really like the idea of celebrating with students at the end too!
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 Finally, I’m sure we all need tips for packing up that classroom!  This post has a bunch of creative and smart ideas for you!

What tips do you have for ending the school year with a bang?  We’d love to hear them in the comment section below!

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