Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Teaching Students How to Write an Email

I was never taught how to write an email. I just knew that I should include a subject, address the recipient, format it like a mini-letter, and close it. One might think that our current students, having grown up in a digital world, would have adapted accordingly and write something resembling a normal email. I don't want to speak on behalf of all of us, but this is certainly not the case from what I have experienced over the last few years. From what I recall, I have never received a properly structured email until after I explicitly taught my students the structure.

I have received emails with missing subjects, names, greetings, and closings. I have even received emails with angry emojis after I posted grades. Emojis. I have noticed the "Sent from my iPhone" default message at the bottom of their email which may attribute to their texting language, but at least in my opinion, it's not okay. They need to learn how to write emails and at least learn some email etiquette.

Think about how many times you have opened your email to find something that resembles the emails below:

All of this becomes even more frustrating when it's or I'll be the first to admit that back in my AOL days, I had some interesting usernames and email addresses, but by high school, I had a more professional one with my first and last name.

The good news is that it doesn't take long to address and fix their errors. Maybe it's not our job to help them or it doesn't fit in with our curriculum/plans, but it's a great skill to address especially as many schools are shifting towards a 1:1 digitally blended classroom.

How do you weigh in on this topic? What do you do in your classroom to address this? Comment below or let me know on Instagram!

If you want an easy way to approach this in your classroom, check out my two Emailing Activities products by clicking the pictures below! :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Semester, New Rules!

For many of us, the start of a new semester means the start of new classes. New classes, content, and students can be great. I have year-long classes, so I wondered how it would go if I tried to introduce new expectations midway through the year. Well, I did, and you should too!

The three images on my door were three PowerPoint slides that I reviewed prior to the start of class. They saw the large "Positive Vibes Only" as soon as they walked into the room. After that, we reviewed the new expectations, inspired by the Ron Clark Academy, some of which were "If someone does something well, we will recognize and congratulate that person" and ""We will high-five when you walk in and when you leave." As I've mentioned in other posts, I teach 9th grade, so their initial reactions were confused looks and "Whaaaaaat?", BUT I received a high-five from all 70 of my students, and it was awesome. Some even want a secret handshake!

We tested out the Positive Vibes Only throughout the rest of the lesson. We reviewed some awards for achievements from the last marking period, and we all held each other accountable. They kept repeating, "Positive vibes only!" Even later in the day when I saw them, they would say the little phrase.

I am excited to continue using the Positive Vibes Only method going forward and especially the high-fives. I was hesitant about using it, but now there's no looking back!

Do you high-five your students, or have you come up with any new strategies to try in the new term?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Musical Chairs in the Classroom

Musical chairs is a great brain break because it gets everyone moving, it's fast-paced, and it requires no prep or money. That's my kind of brain break! I'm not lying when I say that my students constantly ask to play this game. There are two ways that we play in my classroom:

Option 1: My students and I have recently been playing musical chairs with a twist, and they LOVE it! Instead of counting the chairs and students and moving chairs to the side, we keep all of the chairs in the game. I play the music (my go-to song is The Gummy Bear Song because it's upbeat, and most of the kids recognize it) and then they start walking around. I stop the music, and they literally RUN to the nearest seat. The last student standing is out and becomes a referee. This continues until there is one student remaining. Award that student with bragging rights, a little piece of candy, or some other reward. An entire game can be completed in under five minutes.

Option 2: Amp up the first option by throwing in some trivia questions about anything that you want so that students can buy their way back into the game after they are eliminated. For example: We just wrapped up with Romeo and Juliet, so any time a student lost, I'd ask a quick recall question about something from the play. If the student answered the question correctly, that student was able to play again. If the student answers the question incorrectly, they become a referee, and another student answers the question.

Do the chairs move? Yes. Will you room look a little disheveled afterwards? Yes. Is it worth it? TOTALLY. It's such an easy way to have the students out of their seats. I use it between activities, as a warm-up, as an exit ticket, and sometimes when I can just tell that they're having "one of those days." 

Try it out and let me know how it goes. What do you do in your classroom to get your students moving? Leave a comment!