The beginning of any school year is an great time for teachers to share their favorite teaching tips as there remains ample time to consider and implement. This blog respresents an attempt to build a collaborative social studies education environment in which Delaware social studies teachers contribute to an ever growing and easily accessed pool of effective ideas- big or small. Do NOT understimate the things you do and consider ideas relating to a range of matters such as instruction, assessment, motivation, parent involvement, classroom management etc. Examples include:
*Collaborate with students in the formulation of classroom rules. Expose students to a brief list of poorly written rules (see "No Vehicles in the Park" at http://www.nhbar.org/pdfs/novehinpark.pdf ). Have students analyze the rules for defects with an eye toward improving them. Then ask, what are the quality of good rules and present them with a list of rules that you are proposing for the classroom (I always left some intentional as well as unintentional flaws ;). Have the students work in small groups to review, refine, and improve your drafts. Discuss and vote on the classroom rules. This process allows you to manage in a manner that suits your style while building a sense of democratic action and ownership within the classroom. You can always remind the students, "you wrote the rules."
*Make or send a few personalized phone calls or e-mails to parents/guardians every night at the very beginning of the year to establish a positive relationship. Don't wait until there is a problem! Some are very hesitant to do this but the payoff is significant. This is time VERY well spent.
*Maximize instructional time while improving management. Plan an "entry activity" or "bellringer" at the beginning of every day or class so students get to work the moment they enter the classroom. My entry activities were pretty consistent, unapologetically DSTP focused, and involved posting a prompt or task before class. I used to place a stack of index cards (cards resemble amount of response space on DSTP) on a table next to the door. As students entered they picked up an index card, took 2-3 minutes to respond while I took roll or conducted preliminary classroom business. Use the DSTP rubric formula (0-2 scale) to grade then share the rubric and have students grade each others' work (yes, it's legal).
DSSEP will post one new idea for every five posted by others. Please contribute to the improvement of the profession. Simply click on "comment" and post your idea.