July 30, 2016

Bell Work Freebie...and a Chance for a $10 TPT Gift Card!

August is quickly approaching, and with it the slow realization that I actually need to start thinking about September! I'll be teaching a Grade 5/6 split for the first time in my career, and it dawned on me that I had no suitable bell work for this particular grade.   It was time to get to work!

September Grade 5/6 Bell Work
For many years I've had my students do "bell work", in the form of answering one prompt each morning while I take care of attendance, reading notes from parents, etc.  Most of the tasks are directly curriculum related, while others are on the creative side.  I mix things up daily:  one day they might be working on a probability task, the next day on analogies, and the third day responding to a persuasive writing prompt.  I've found that this approach prevents boredom, both for me and my students!  It was time to gather my resources and get some bell work ready for my new students. 

I had already created bell work for Grades 2, 3/4, 5, and 6, so I decided to take out the Grade 5 and 6 bell work and see which prompts I felt would work well for both grades, both in terms of curriculum expectations AND interest level.  I always make September's work fairly easy, so that everyone is able to handle the tasks independently, and then increase the challenges as the year goes by.  I took the same approach as I put together a year's work of Grade 5/6 bell work.

Each month's bell work fits on one double-sided sheet of paper; I usually print on coloured paper just to make it stand out more inside a student's desk, should it come loose from his/her notebook.  I copy ALL 10 months the month before school starts, and file them by month.  I keep the original sheets in page protectors within the file folders as well.

When students enter the classroom on the very first morning of the school year, I have them find their desk and put their backpacks, lunches, etc under it.  I have already put a lined bell work notebook on their desks, along with the September bell work sheet, two sharpened pencils and an eraser.  I ask them to write the date at the top of the first blank page of their notebooks, and put a "1" to the left of the margin at the left hand side of the page.  (Sometimes I'm even organized enough to have this displayed on the Smartboard as well!)  I then have them read the first prompt and answer in their notebooks.  I want them to know from the very first minute of the year that work will be the priority in our class.  Only once I've taken up the work will I start dealing with the nuts and bolts of how we will run our classroom!  From then on students know that this is how every day will start, and I don't need to remind them what to do (well, maybe sometimes:)!  

A Freebie & A Draw!!

If you'd like to try this bell work in your own classroom, click the image to the left and download this freebie from my store!  I'd love to hear how it works for you.

Free to a Good Home:  A $10 TPT Gift Card!

While you're on the TPT website, you may find other great things you'd love for your classroom. Respond below, telling me your favourite wishlisted item from Coach's Corner, and you'll be entered in the draw for a $10 TPT gift card. I'll announce the winner the morning of Tuesday, August 2nd.  Good luck! ****UPDATE**** Marianne, you are the lucky winner (I've responded to you below)!  Please contact me at:  coachsteachingcorner@gmail.com so I can send along your gift card!

July 6, 2016

Planboard for Ontario Teachers

As I've been preparing for the coming school year, I began thinking about using a digital "daybook" to keep my lesson plans in order and easily accessible through the internet.  After a few inquiries among colleagues and friends, I was directed to Planboard, a FREE online daybook resource, courtesy of the Ontario Teachers Federation.  (Teachers from other parts of Canada will want to check with their school district or teachers' associations/unions to see if they have access to this site; I know that curriculums from some other provinces were among Planbook's options.)

WOW!  I don't think I've ever been so excited about a new education-related resource in my life!

With this online daybook, I can:

  1. Assign each subject a different colour.

  • Create a weekly schedule.

  • Input full lesson plans.

  • Attach files (ie. a Smart Notebook or Powerpoint file) within the lesson plan.

  • Embed videos directly into the lesson plan, so that I don't need to click a hyperlink to get where I want.

The video will play right within your day plan!  Or you could just insert a link and watch from there.

  • Move any lesson plan to a new spot, on those occasions when a surprise assembly or other unforeseen event prevents me from teaching it!
  • Attach Ontario curriculum expectations to the lesson plan.

  • Share my day plan with a supply teacher, colleague, or administrator.
  • Access lesson plans from other educators.  (I haven't tried this yet!)
Here's what the mornings look like for the first week in September:  

I was worried that it would be too confusing or complex for me to use, but it was very easy to set up.  First I assigned colours to subjects, then scheduled the subjects in a weekly master timetable, and then started planning.  OTF offers occasional webinars, such as Moving Forward with Online Planboard for teachers looking for extra support with this (and other) digital resources.

I'm looking forward to being able to do almost all of my planning from home now, instead of coming into the school during the weekend!  Saving time ALWAYS makes me happy, and I hope that it does the same for you.

What online education-related resources have YOU found that are saving you valuable time?  I'd love to hear them!