Category Archives: school

Student Teacher

I have agreed to take a student teacher for the last 10 weeks of the school year.Teacher Appreciation Cupcakes

There.  I have admitted it to the world, so therefore, I now have to follow that particular yellow brick road on the path to Oz.

I hate to sound so dramatic.  I mean, lots of teachers mentor pre-service teachers.  Lots of teachers do it all the time.  Lots of teachers do it well, all the time.  But, then again, lots of teachers are crazy.

The issue for me is control, the surrendering of it.  And I like my kids this year.  A lot.  And we’re really grooving into the 20th century now, the time frame when the students finally begin to “get” it and care a little.

But, I’m giving it up.  Instead, I’ll be watching a college senior have the fun.




Filed under Random, school


Wallwisher is a free, online collaboration site that has become very popular, and I wanted to share one of my current uses of it.

If you are new to Wallwisher, the concept is simple – imagine a wall in your classroom that students use to post comments, ideas, images, or audio and video clips via moveable (and removable) “sticky” notes (think Post-it notes).  Setting up a free account is easy, and privacy options allow for all posts to be viewed by the wall owner prior to going live.

As a way to earn bonus class participation points, my U.S. History students are permitted to post a “factoid” on the wall, one per person per week.  At the end of the week, my little boy randomly chooses the names of two student-posters (he draws from a hat and for some reason, my students love this idea) and they are awarded additional points.  I have found that the students who participate in this have fun trying to outdo each other every week, their “factoids” are usually really interesting, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the participation of students who are not otherwise very outgoing in the classroom.

The students are expected to post their source (if it is an online link) or be prepared to provide it to me when asked.

A recent "factoid" wall (click to see full size).

I have also used Wallwisher for announcements, KWL exercises, comments on readings or videos and as a source clearinghouse.  In another example, our librarian has used it as a “What Are You Reading Now?” page for teachers and students.

Have you used Wallwisher?  I’d like to hear about your experiences.  Can you give me some new ideas for using it in my classroom?


Filed under school, Tools

Can Writing Relieve Test Anxiety?

I’m sure I’m not alone in the experience of having a number of regular-ed students every year who suffer from test anxiety.  These are kids without directed accommodations (Individualized Education or 504 Plans) but who nevertheless suffer from a specific testing apprehension or difficulty.  Sometimes the students and/or their parents make me aware of their test-taking trepidation, or it becomes obvious when a student who usually performs well in other classroom areas shows consistent stuggles or failures during assessments.

photo by Fort Worth Squatch, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

So, I was very interested when I read about a recent study that found students’ test scores improved when they were allowed to write about their anxiety beforehand.  The senior researcher is Sian Beilock, the author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To, and she argues that the pre-writing exercise can “free up” the brainpower that would normally be focused on the test concerns.

Have you ever tried such an activity to curb test anxiety?  Was it successful?  Do you have any other practices that help students get past their performance fears?  I would love to hear some new ideas.


Filed under Reference, school

“70 Tools in 70 Minutes”

This is a really valuable presentation by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (Twitter: @langwitches) that highlights some great 21st century tools to help bring technology into the classroom.

7o Tools in 70 Minutes

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Filed under Reference, school, Tools

“Did You Know?”

I love this video (assuming the stats are correct).  The information presented is staggering – further reminding me that in regards to technology, we either need to go with it or get run over by it.

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Filed under school, video