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Teaching Earth Science for the first time | Posted in Earth and Space Science

I don't remember where I got this (possibly Facebook - or here!) but I use an inflatable globe and throw it out to a student. The student catches it and tells me how many of their fingers are touching water. They then share something about themselves and toss it to another student. Tally up the number of fingers touching water for each student and then calculate the average at the end It should be close to 70%, the amount of the planet's surface covered with water.


Cris Dewolf

Guest Speakers in the Middle School Classroom | Posted in Next Generation Science Standards

I think that incorporating guest speakers is a great way for the students to be engaged and also for them to see how the content they are learning can be applied in the "real world." I am currently in a teaching program, and this is something I would like to incorporate into my future classroom. Based on my experiences in middle school, when we had guest speakers that could relate to the grade as a whole for cross-curriculum, we were able to have a class assembly. However, on the smaller scale, we typically received a handout and the speakers were always happy to spend the day to answer our questions and present. Additionally, I have even experienced a group Skype session that was a very influential experience.


Margaret Purtell

Seating Charts | Posted in New Teachers

I teach third grade so I can only give an elementary perspective. I have always with the exception of one time assigned seating spots to my students. I always start the school year in desk pods usually four to five to a pod depending on how many students I have. This year I have 18. There have been years when I had to make quick adjustments because certain kids just can't sit together. I like the beginning of the year to go as smoothly as possible with setting expectations and instilling good habits. I do keep students who need more help or direction closer to the front but I mixed them up with other students so they don't feel singled out. I never seat students by learning ability. When I was in elementary school I did have a teacher who did this and I always felt bad for the lower kids because we all knew they were the lower kids. Unless we are doing state testing, I never put my students in the traditional rows. This is my least favorite way to set up a classroom.
The one time I let my students pick their spots was when I taught 4th grade. Overall they were a good class so I decided to try it out. It ended up with boys sitting with boys and girls sitting with girls. They promised me they would behave so I wouldn't change their spots. They were good for about 3 days and then I could see they couldn't handle it. Once I had them back in assigned seating they were back to their old selves. Don't be afraid to move kids if needed.


Brenda Velasco

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