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Sunday, August 28, 2016

4 Relaxation Tips for a Stressfree School Year

You've fulfilled one or two weeks of the beginning of the school year, so are you ready for some relaxation techniques? Students feed off your energy--if you are calm and relaxed, students will be, too!

Not only are teachers stressed, students are stressed, too. Several new studies on ASCD suggest that 80% of high school and university students are too stressed to perform properly. That's an alarmingly high number of stressed students sitting in our classrooms. There's even been debates on adding recess to some United States high schools. 

Adding stress relaxation techniques to your daily classroom is simple! Here are some easy to implement ideas:

1. Journal Writing--play relaxation/brain music the first ten minutes of class and let students freewrite. I've used this for sixteen years with huge success--I promise it works! Need tips on how to easily implement journals in your classroom? Try Journal Writing in the Classroom.

2. Get up and move! Use educational materials that include movements, such Get Fit Action Stories:

3. Address students stress levels by teaching test taking strategies and techniques with It's Testing Day!:

4. Use project based classrooms which allows students time to process, problem solve, and reflect on learning. Also, project based classrooms offer time for collaboration and research. 

Decreasing stress levels will have everyone smiling!

Hope you have a stress free school year!
Beth, Educator Helper

Monday, August 22, 2016

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Relaxed State of Grammar Rules

Remember that English teacher who corrected your grammar? It seems that grammar rules have relaxed over the past couple of years. Whether we can attribute changes to social media or today's fast paced society makes little difference, but what does matter is how these changes affect students in our classrooms.

An example of this is the apostrophe "s" ('s) rule. In the last two years there has been a shift to add an extra apostrophe "s" to the ends of words ending in "s". A couple of summers ago, a group of high school and college English teachers met to discuss changes to curriculum. High school teachers informed college instructors that on the new state test, some of the grammar questions were correctly answered using an apostrophe "s" ('s) on words ending in "s". An example was:

Incorrectly written: Chris' bike was red.   
Correctly written: Chris's bike was red. 

Old school English teachers cringed--what was the world coming to?  

Another great example is the use of "who", which refers to people, versus the use of "that", which refers to objects/things. This mistake is often made by people when speaking, but it should be corrected when writing. However, it's one of those grammar rules that has slowly become acceptable in the classroom.

How about the use of a comma before "and" when used in a series:

Mary, Tom, and Sue went shopping. 
Mary, Tom and Sue went shopping.

Both of these sentences are now correctly written. I like to explain this rule as a journalism rule from the AP Style Manual Book that has crossed its boundaries and is now accepted in academic writings. I'll accept this rule as correct if it's written either way, but students must use one or the other when writing and are not allowed to use both rules within one essay. Be consistent!  

Grammar changes affect students and teachers because of state testing scores, teacher evaluations, pay raises tied to test scores, and college readiness standards. Plus, many teacher preparation programs at colleges still have few classes that teach how to instruct students on grammar. Grammar is trial and error for many teachers, who are overwhelmed with other issues that take high priority over teaching basic grammar rules. 

Even though grammar rules continue to relax and change over time, I know if my elementary school English teacher was around she'd correct my grammar errors. Then, she would say we've gotten lazy about using proper English rules, and, once again, she is right...

Enjoy teaching grammar rules!
Beth, Educator Helper

Need help teaching basic grammar rules? Education Helper can help:

Need a complete how-to-teach grammar unit?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Preparing for Back to School

The arrival of August means the beginning of school! Start the year off right by getting to know students and their preferences while having fun at the same time. 

Begin by having upper level students complete a basic information sheet:
Need this form to be portable? Decrease the size when copying then have students paste the form onto a colored notecard that correspond with each class period.

Use a different get-to-know-you approach with younger students:

Encourage students to explore their new classroom with a scavenger hunt:

Help students learn new school rules:

Finally, remember to remind students that:

Click here for the entire unit!

Learning about students should be fun and interactive! Take time to enjoy learning about your students' preferences.

Happy planning!
Educator Helper

Make planning a new school year easy with back-to-school Educator Helper lesson plans!

Back to School Coloring Handouts

Wacky Wayne's Back to School I-Spy