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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Tips for Planning the Upcoming School Year

Long term planning

In 10 years, I’ve learned that long-term planning is the #1 way to manage the crazy stress and overwhelming to do list faced by teachers. I’m sharing my process for planning below.  If you are reading this as a new teacher, I cannot stress enough the need to come up with some system for organizing your long-term goals and curriculum.  If you are a fellow veteran, I’d love to hear your process.  Either way, join the discussion in the comment section below!

Start with Goals and the Big Picture by Quarter, Trimester, or Semester: For each grading period include required literature, major projects, and other must do items. Tip: Add district and state assessments also!   Here’s an example:

  • Quarter 1:
    • Summer Reading
    • Short Story Unit (list specific stories here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 1-5
    • Grammar: Verbs- transitive, intransitive, linking, basic sentence patterns (lessons 1-5)
    • Writing: Intro to MLA and 5 paragraph essay + 1 process essay
  • Quarter 2:
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Vocabulary: lessons 6-10
    • Grammar: Parts of Speech
    • Writing: 2 process essays
    • Video Project
  • Quarter 3:
    • The Odyssey
    • Nonfiction Unit (list specific selections here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 11-15
    • Grammar: Phrases and Clauses
    • Writing: Research paper
  • Quarter 4:
    • Poetry Unit (list specific poems here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 16-20
    • Grammar: Sentence types
    • Writing: Infographic project

Move to a Broad Weekly View: This step is primarily meant to double check that you will have enough time to fit in everything from step one.  For example:

  • Quarter 1:
    • Week 1: Summer Reading (with vocab lesson 1 and grammar lesson 1)
    • Week 2: Intro to MLA and 5 paragraph essay: Writing Architect  (with vocab lesson 2 and grammar lesson 2)
    • Week 3: Elements of Short Story + “Short Story 1″  (with vocab lesson 3 and grammar lesson 3)
    • Week 4-5: Freytag’s Pyramid + “Short Story 2 and 3″  (with vocab lesson 4 and grammar lesson 4)
    • Week 6-7: Conflict and Characterization + “Short Story 4 and 5″  (with vocab lesson 5 and grammar lesson 5)
    • Week 8-9: “Final Short Story” + Essay (incorporate vocab and grammar from the quarter)

Pencil in a Monthly Calendar: You can buy one or print it out/save it from this website.  I love technology, but for some reason, it makes it feel some much less overwhelming to literally use a pencil on the printed calendar. You can just as easily type into the calendar template.

Work with Lesson Plans on a Weekly Basis: I have a couple of co-workers who stick to the long-term plan exactly as written, but I usually need to reassess weekly based on formative assessment and flukes in school schedules.  When I have done the long-term planning outlined above, my weekly lesson plans only take a fraction of the time.  I also feel like I’m going to meet my benchmarks without forgetting any of the many strands of my class!

Are you drowning in weekly lesson plans?  You are not alone!  Do you have ideas for managing long-term and short term plans? We’d love to hear from everyone in the comment section below!

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Back to School Sale on TPT!

www.secondarysolutionsblog.com

It’s that time of year – and we’ve got some great deals for you!  Check out the Super Secondary Yearbook to get a glimpse of the amazing Secondary teacher-sellers on TPT!  Save up to 28% August 4th and 5th with promo code BTS14.

We’ve got our entire store 28% off…so NOW is the time to grab all those wishlisted items you’ve been wanting! Visit Secondary Solutions TPT Store now!

Also, don’t forget to check out the Secondary TPT class of 2014-2015 and their great deals August 4th and 5th, 2014!

2 Peas and a Dog 

21st Century Math Projects

4mulaFun 

A Space to Create

Addie Williams

All Things Algebra 

Charlene Tess 

Connie 

Created by Mr. Hughes

Danielle Knight

Darlene Anne 

FisherReyna Education

For the Love of Teaching Math

James Whitaker

Juggling ELA 

Kate’s Classroom Café

Live. Love. Math

Liz’s Lessons

Making it as a Middle School Teacher

Margaret Whisnant

Michele Luck’s Social Studies

Miss Math Dork

Mrs. S

Pamela Kranz

Science Stuff

Secondary Solutions

Teaching FSL

Teaching High School Math

Teaching Math by Hart

The Career Ready Teacher

The Classroom Sparrow

The Creative Classroom

The SuperHERO Teacher

The Tutor House

Tracee Orman

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Where to Spend $5 to Get Tough Tasks Off Your Teacher To Do List

It seems like everywhere I turn these days I see a new resource to help students take short cuts around the valuable work we do in our classrooms.  When I was working on a side project recently, I came across fiverr.com, which is a global marketplace offering a variety of services, or gigs, starting at $5 each.  I was disheartened to see sellers offering to do homework or analyze a book, but it did get me thinking about how I could switch the dynamic around to give teachers some much needed shortcuts.  Here are the $5 gigs I found that can take tough tasks off of our teacher to do lists, so we can focus on other important classroom priorities:

1. Custom Songs: Many fiverr sellers will take your lyrics and make them into a song with your choice of genre (reggae, rap, country, pop, etc).  I have these little chants I do to help MLA rules stick and I always hear my students singing little ditties to remember long math formulas.  We could take that idea to the next level with a custom song for our classroom!

2. Custom Voice Overs:  This gig could bring interest factor to a prezi, flipped classroom video, or other in class project.  Sellers will do a range of professional and cartoon/impression voices.

3. Convert Powerpoint to HD Video: This is a great gig for  teachers who are flipping their classrooms and running out of time. It could be combined with the custom voice-overs in a pinch.

4. Website installation or help: There is a lot of pressure on teachers today to incorporate edtech into our classrooms including classroom blogs and wikis.  If we can’t afford a full service website technician, there are hundreds of fiverr gigs ranging from installing word press to trouble shooting that widget you are trying to install and everything in between.  Personally, $5 is worth my sanity in the IT department, especially when it can be done quickly and efficiently by someone else while I am grading that last stack of papers!

5. Custom Social Media Art: Most teachers I know are starting or maintaining a classroom Facebook/twitter/instagram/google+/edmodo/schoology/etc.  For $5 you can have someone create cute or creative custom cover art to give your classroom social media that polished look without a lot of effort on your part.

6. Design materials: If you have a great idea for a poster or infographic for your classroom wall, a custom stamp or any other simple graphic design project, there are designers waiting to make it happen for only $5.

 

Like other online marketplaces, there is a feedback and communication system so that you can make sure that your job is done correctly, but we should still exercise caution when purchasing gigs.  What do you think? Would you take advantage of fiverr to get one of those tasks off your to do list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Fiverr

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