TTEE2 Hot Topic Email Discussion

St. Nick Tip Exchange

It is the time for giving

Please share with the group what is the one thing that has worked the best in your classroom this first semester. It could be a particular lesson plan that went well, a classroom procedure, an instructional strategy…what is that one thing that went like magic this semester.

Be St. Nick and share with the group.


This year, I have experimented with "small group seating," that is, I have six groups of desks that each have 4-5 seats in them. During lesson time, after I work an example, I will give students the next problem on the notes to work while I circulate and hold a brief conversation with each group and each student to check their confidence and level of understanding. I find it's easier to catch possible errors before they happen on the homework. It has worked well with my Algebra 1 classes, although it does lend itself to students getting off-task easily. I've had to clamp down a bit lately.

Happy Holidays, everyone!



In my classroom, the students all use sign language to such an extent, that substitute teachers are given a picture page so they can understand the students. The best one is "bathroom." I will be right at that perfect teachable moment and instead of a hand going up or a student shouting out (remember...these are kindergarteners), they simply show the sign for bathroom and I sign back "yes" or "no".

GES Kindergarten Teacher


My 7th grade language class is in the process of finishing a writing assignment comparing and contrasting the novel Hound of the Baskervilles to the movie. We read the unabridged novel and discussed it chapter by chapter with periodic quizzes and a test at the end (plus the A.R. quiz). We then watched the classic 1939 motion picture. Afterward, we used the Smartboard to take notes on the similarities and differences between the two. I compiled the students' notes, typed them out, and distributed them to the students to use in writing their essay. Though I have not seen the finished product yet, the amount of effort I see from nearly all students as they are writing is quite impressive. And, this meets severeal Common Core requirements, including comparison/contrast writing and writing about two versions of the same story. I am anxious to see the end products at the end of the week.


Several years ago during one of our Mentoring/Mentee meetings we talked about the importance of Visual Prompts. First graders do well to remember 1-2 steps in a row without any assistance, so to help them remember how to do a task, I make a task list that has visual prompts for them. For example, today we had to make cut out and glitter a paper key for the Winter Program at GES and I had each step for them with a visual clue to help them remember (in case they had trouble reading all of the words). This allowed for students to work at their own pace and for all of the students to complete the task. It started with getting out glue and scissors and ended with cleaning up their desk and reading quietly at their seat.

I love to make check off lists for myself and this has helped my students stay on task, work at their own pace, and get the job completed. :)


1st Grade Teacher

Greenville Elementary


The best lesson so far this year involved having immigrants come in and speak to my U.S. History classes about their experiences. This was obviously during our unit on immigration, as it pertained to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We had studied political cartoons of that era that gave students an understanding of Americans’ attitude towards immigrants at that time. Then students created political cartoons focusing on attitudes of Americans about immigration today. Most of the student work portrayed Mexican immigrants (although the assignment did not specify a nationality) and showed the issue in a negative light. Having a member of the BCCU2 maintenance staff, Diego Gamino, speak to the class about his experiences was eye-opening, and actually brought some students to tears. I think having guest speakers, no matter what subject you teach, is a good way to break up the monotony of the same person presenting information, and gives the students a perspective they may have never considered before. I know Kelly Rinella would have Jerry Moyer come in to do science experiments, and my daughter loved those days (and I’m sure all the lessons with Kelly too :))!


Playing Who Has, I Have to prepare the students for the Constitution Test. Students have several index cards on their desk and the first person reads Who Has: The Right to Bear Arms and the student who has the matching cards says I have: The Second Amendment and so on and so on. The students like playing and it is a great review.

Terri, Social Studies Teacher

Greenville Jr. High


"Who Has, I Have" is great for any vocabulary.


Something fun I do is make the kids laugh. If I notice I have a few drifters, instead of saying, " Hey pay attention" I might say a joke. Sometimes I even talk in funny voices. The students really respond to this and keeps them on track. I also use positive reinforcement to keep students on task. Nothing to special and I am sure you all do this to keep the day fun and exciting! :)


Miss. Sarah

Greenville Elementary School


During a Declaration of Independence lesson I put a picture of King George III on the Smartboard and we gave him a little trashtalk while yelling the List of Grievances. We also threw paper wads at him. Rebellion is part of a Jr.High student so why not go with it.


I'm not sure how great this tip is. . . I've been taking more pictures of "everyday" activities with the kids. I print them up and display them in the room. The kids are enjoying this. Pretty cheap way to keep them excited about different tasks I'm asking them to do.


Everyday a student is chosen as the Student of the Day. This student is line leader and teacher's special helper. To add to special privileges, I give the student the opportunity to choose a friend to sit with at a smalll table in the classroom all day.


I feel like our science project on volcanos went very well. I had the students work in pairs and research volcanos on Earth. The students chose a volcano that interested them and designed a Powerpoint centering around that volcano. They followed a rubric and included all of the information that was required on their Powerpoint. They also created a posterboard based upon their volcano. Once the PowerPoint and posterboard were completed, we made papermeche models of the volcanos they had researched. The students really enjoyed the entire project.


With my younger students, I use a sticker chart to monitor their behavior as a class. If they, as a class, get a certain number of stickers, they earn a choice day. The kids have really bought into this becasue they feel like they control whether they get a choice day or not. Kids are helping each other stay on task so they can get a sticker at the end of the day. It is something very simple, but it helps the kids stay on task.

P.E. Teacher Sorento/Pocahontas
Pocahontas Boys Basketball Coach
Greenville Jr. High Track Coach


I try to have my students move around in the classroom. In band and general music we clap rhythms, and in chorus I have them clap on certain pitches during warmups. We have also started doing breathing exercises and stretching in chorus before we sing. A few times I've had the chorus students stand only when they sing the melody of a piece, and that was fun for them and amusing for me. I think it's a nice break for the students (and myself!), and it really forces them to wake up and become engaged in the lesson. I know this isn't ideal for some classrooms, but it works well in mine. Happy Holidays!