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Sunday, May 19, 2013

End of year suggestions

Hey y'all!

I cannot believe we only have 3 weeks left of school! Well, technically 2 weeks left and 1 week of testing.   Still, nonetheles, it's been a long and great year, I'm shocked it's finally ending!

I recently went to a workshop that discussed what to do at the end of the year, especially after exams.  Thankfully, my school does exams the final week so we do not have to worry about what to do following exams.

Here are some suggestions you can do with your students:

Project Based Learning - give them a rubric, set your expectations and let them go wild. Let them choose their topics! It's a fun project for the end of the year

Teach your students something you may not otherwise have time to teach - what are you most interested in? the Titanic? Pearl Harbor? the era of the 60's?

Ms. Bergin

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Hey y'all!

I just wanted to take a moment and thank all the tireless mothers out there.  The mothers who are stay-at-home moms taking care of their children, the mothers who work as teachers being mothers to not only their kids but their students at times as well, and mothers who work in the workforce.  You have done an amazing job so far and will continue to do an amazing job! 

Ms. Bergin  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Using Music to Teach

Hey y'all --

Let me start off by saying, I never really knew or understood how music can help someone learn.  I am not huge on music as I am hearing impaired. However, I don't let my hearing loss keep me from doing something that may be beneficial to students.  After all, our lessons should be geared towards student learning right?!

I have started incorporating music in my unit plans.  I did not realize it would be a big hit and help students retain and understand novel information.  I had originally compiled music videos as a way to make the lesson or novel entertaining.  After I had the playlist for Of Mice and Men playing in class, students asked if I could play it again after we discussed the music and how it ties into the novel.  An example: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? - this is geared towards the Great Depression and how people did not have money to spare.  This song launched into a discussion of today's recession and ultimately leading back to Of Mice and Men and how the men need to migrate to find jobs so they can earn money.

Below are playlists geared for three units - The Odyssey, Of Mice and Men, and 1960s-1970s - I use songs for poetry when covering this time period. For the 60s-70s, I use songs that focus mostly on the Civil Rights Movement and the War in 'Nam.

Enjoy, these are visible to the public on Youtube, so feel free to use!

Ms. Bergin

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Biggest Sale of the year is here!

The sale of the year is here!  FINALLY!  I have SEVERAL products in my store that are on SALE!!  Just click on the image above and hop over to my store.

Ms. Bergin

How to make life easier for our substitue...

Hey y'all!

Warmer weather approaches us and some of us might want to take a personal day.  However, we don't like leaving our class with the sub and chances are, we don't like what we return to even more.

 Most of us are required by our school administrator to put together an emergency lesson plan for subs in the event we must be absent and do not have time to put together a more current lesson plan to go along with what students are learning. This is what I call "busy work". Inside the folder we leave subs, we include our roster, seating chart, and a note telling the sub to leave names of anyone who gives the sub difficulties and we will take care of it when we return. As a teacher who has prior experience with day-to-day subbing, let me tell you, the plans the teacher left me are generally a joke. It had worksheets or reading assignments for students to do - assignments that with the teacher lecturing and conducting class may have taken the entire block, but with just the students, they can be done in 20 minutes or less. Sometimes, students know it is a joke and know teachers won't grade it so they don't do it at all. Substitutes do not have the same level of authority as teachers do, and students know this! Students also know the sub more than likely does not know their name and will take advantage of this tidbit. So WHAT can you do to make your classroom run more effectively in the event you are not there?

  • Leave your most updated seating chart If you leave the seating chart, the sub can announce that he/she is taking roll by seating chart and if they are not in their assigned seat, they are marked absent.  This helps the sub know who's name belongs to who in the event there is an issue. If you need seating charts, check out my packet of blank seating chart!
  • Leave constructive assignments Examples are: web-quest, project, assignment with a rubric and have the sub announce they only have that day to finish their assignment, it will count as X amount of test or quiz grades. If you think you've left enough, you need to double it - better to have too much than not enough and have your classes be loud and disruptive.
  • Leave your rules and procedures - for leaving the classroom to use the restroom, eating food in class.  Note any students who may need to be permitted to use the restroom at any time.  
  • Leave a list of students - good students and students that you believe may give the sub a difficult time. List tasks the "good" students may help the sub with, and inform the sub what they can do should the difficult students give the sub a hard time - who can the sub bounce the student to? How should the sub call the office if they need an administrator?
  • Leave a list of teachers  - the list of teachers should be teachers that can assist the sub - list one for each block, it would be smart to list a different one for each block (list the teacher for the block they have planning)
  • Leave writing utensils - students for some reason that I cannot understand, do not seem to have pens or pencils on them when it comes time to do their assignment.  If you leave a bag or box of pens/pencils out next to the lesson plan, the sub will not go through your drawers, students will not sit around doing nothing simply because they do not have something to write with.  It also does not hurt to leave paper with the sub in case students don't have their notebook.  It just eliminates excuses students use to not do the assignment.  
  • Leave your contact information - allow the sub to email you, or call you if you would like. If you build a relationship with your sub, you may be able to request him/her in the event you need to be out again.  Some subs leave notes, but not all leave their contact information when they do.  Be the one to open the line of communication!
The rest is in the hands of the substitute, if you do all of this, you have done your part.  If the substitute chooses not to do his/her job, and your class is disruptive and loud, you can relax knowing it was not your fault and the only thing you will need to do is discuss with your students how you were disappointed that they did not behave accordingly.

Another tip - does not hurt to go over expectations you have for your students in the event you are out.

Ms. Bergin

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The ULTIMATE Lesson Plan Template

Hey y'all! As teachers, we know the importance of writing out our lesson plans. However, we probably do not make it as detailed as we should. The more detailed, the better the lesson will be executed. I was given a lesson plan template by a mentor after I had seen it at a workshop she hosted. This lesson plan is so detailed, down to identifying how I differentiate, the 21st century skills I incorporate, and what NC teacher standards I meet with this lesson plan. I have made this template available at teacherspayteachers for FREE. This lesson plan template is fantastic for NC Teachers! Enjoy! Ms. Bergin

A way to make writing fun!

Hey y'all! Yuck, this weather has been bringing me down all week... I sure hope it gets warmer and the rain stops! In the meantime, I'm enjoying some country music while working on different things for my classroom :-) One thing I would like to try to incorporate next year is a writing piece - in this I would like to have my classes write (penpals) with another class that is in a different part of NC, or a different part of the country. I have found that students need to work on their writing, and what a fun way it would be if they could write to someone outside their school district, or even out of their state. It would be far better than writing essays upon essays that have no true purpose other than showing your teacher your writing skills. With pen-pals, the students have a purpose - they have a letter they need to answer to, they have a person who is interested in what they are writing, it is a conversation. Of course, there would be guidelines and all - that has yet to be developed, once I find a class to write to. If you want to do this, feel free to let me know! Anyone have any suggestions for improving writing skills that is fun? Ms. Bergin

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Calming the Chaos

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Hey y'all!

We are in the home-stretch!  One thing I have been thinking about lately is what I can do to keep students engaged.  This time of year is preparing and taking state exams.  After state exams, students just are not into the class anymore.  As an English teacher, I still have a good 2-3 weeks left with these students.  What do I do to keep them engaged?  Simple, I host competitions.  I do Trasket ball,  Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire as well as having a race track up on the SMART board with a variety of cars and each team can move their car to the next pit stop when they are done with a section of their assignments.  I generally keep hard candy in a jar so the winning team gets a little something other than bragging rights. 

I have attached the racetrack Pit-stop for your SMARTBoard as a FREEBIE!!  Who doesn't love a freebie?!  This is saved in Google Drive, so no need to sign up for anything to get access, just download and use :)

Click here  to get the Pit-Stop.  It has the Pit-stop plus a general description of how to use it.  Students can just go up to the board and move their car! 

Ms. Bergin

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Welcome to the South

Hey y'all! Well I got schooled today in the purpose of belt buckles (If you didn't already know, I'm originally from CT). This student came in flaunting off his belt buckle that he had in this case. He asked me if I knew why he got the belt buckle. I knew enough to know you earn it at rodeos, that's about the extent of my knowledge, or it was, until today. He was clearly extremely proud of that belt buckle. He went on to tell me all about how the rodeo works and how I really need to check out a rodeo event one of these days if I really want to experience southern country. Maybe I will catch a rodeo one of these days... maybe. I will admit the first time I asked a student a yes or no answer and I got a "yes ma'am", it threw me off. I guess a part of me thought it was just something you see in the movies, that it didn't really happen. Up north, you definitely don't hear a student say "ma'am" or "sir" - Culture shock much?! Other than that, I think I've done well with the culture difference and didn't really think there as much of a difference apart from a few things - yes, southern hospitality does exist down here - my sister and her friends visited in March, they could not stop commenting on southern hospitality. When I first moved down here, I did think the southern hospitality was a bit much, but now I like it. Though it does make northerners seem a bit mean and self absorbed when I visit the north now ;-) I have officially finished my online portfolio (yay!) if any of y'all want to check it out --