This year is the first year where I have had everything laid out way ahead of time. I went into my first semester knowing exactly what would happen each week. And I am happy to say that it all worked out- even if we had a little tweaking here and there.
Top Five Things that Worked:
- Using Legends of Learning as an enrichment and remediation tool. If you have not tried this, then I urge you to do so. It is an awesome resource for science class. Students play video games and learn or practice. The best part is students don’t realize they are working!
- Vocabulary Sheets – I revamped the way I do vocabulary this year and I give weekly vocabulary sheets. The sheet has a chart for students to record vocab word, definition, and a picture. It also has them go back into their notes and highlight, star or whatnot the words. These have been an amazing asset and I think have helped students retain information.
- Weekly Homework instead of Bi-Weekly Homework – Last year I gave homework out every two weeks. It was too much time for students to have their homework assignments. This year I give out weekly homework and I have seen an increase in students actually turning in their homework.
- Having a set weekly schedule – Students know that we will have notes on Monday/Tuesday, A lab or other activity on Wednesday/Thursday and then enrichment or reteaching on Friday. It makes lesson planning easily and it also makes classes go more smoothly because students are prepared and know what to expect.
- Leaving school at school and taking time for family at home. I don’t want my daughter to see me as a mommy glued to her laptop. Therefore, I have prioritized using my planning period and actually leaving work at school. I have only brought work home a handful of times and I think it has made me a lot less stressed.
Two Things that Didn’t Work:
- Vocabulary Flashcards – My intention at the beginning of the year was to have students make cards for all their words. This did not work for several reasons. Time, not enough cards and students not using supplies wisely. It was a good idea in theory but did not work out in practice.
- Stations Each Week – This was a good idea and I love stations, but for some topics, stations don’t work. It is good to have a variety and not simply rely on station labs even if they are good!