Unshakeable - Day 11

20 Ways to enjoy teaching - no matter what!

Book study

These are just my thoughts, notes, connections while reading Unshakeable by Angela Watson.

Chapter 11 - Create curriculum “bright spots” you can’t wait to teach

Whenever you start to feel dread about going to school, remind yourself of the bright spots you have planned and stay focused on them instead of whatever is stressing you out.

What motivates me to get out of bed and go to work in the morning? What about the days where I am truly exhausted, or the day when I am frustrated and want to just stay under the covers all day?

Angela says the trick is to intentionally create bright spots in my routine and curriculum. Bright spots are little rewards that help compensate for the drudgery and break up of monotony aspects of our jobs.

She says that it’s okay if I don’t enjoy teaching every - single - standard (still have to teach them, though )

"Resist the urge to throw all your energy into planning your favorite subjects and units. If you enjoy a subject inherently, it’s not going to need as much improvement and passion will naturally make the lesson more engaging at first. Instead, try to develop enjoyable lessons that can serve as bright spots in units that are hard to teach with enthusiasm.”

Favorite Strategies

Think back to a lesson(s) that went really well, kids mastered the content with enthusiasm. Make a list - with specifics, take photographs of favorite strategies to remember them. Pinterest them HA. Use these to spice up an uneventful lesson you aren’t crazy about.

I think back to 2nd grade when Paula, Michelle and I would do the paper mache snowmen. UGH! I hated paper mache! But .. boy did the other gals love it, and the kids would loose their minds. We did it as a culminating narrative writing unit. We read Snowmen at Night. We incorporated math by giving them “money” to buy the parts to create their snowman (they earned $ then had to calculate what they could purchase to create their snowman). It was a fabulous culminating writing activity and probably produced the best pieces of the year. It definitely made the winter blues fade away for a couple of weeks.

Maybe as we unpack standards, this summer could be about those performance/project - based assessments that would engage students in the drudgery of learning in order to be successful with the ending performance?

Writing in math? Here’s the author’s example:

As I instructed the kids on various geometry terms, they took notes in their mini notepads. They created one page for each line or angle, defined it, drew it, and jotted down some examples we discussed. This gave them a break from writing in their math journals and played into the newspaper reporter angle. The kids then worked in groups to write their articles, incorporating photographs of different angles and lines they’d found around the school and community. After a thorough peer editing process, they published their articles on the blog for other classes and their family members to read and comment on.

Angela Watson. Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day...No Matter What (Kindle Locations 1863-1867).

Student-Directed workstations

Angela’s example about subject-verb agreement:

I tried having students explore the topic with partners in workstations. There was a station in which students intentionally wrote incorrect sentences and switched papers with a partner to correct; an iPod station where they listened to an audio recording of me reading a passage with incorrect grammar and were tasked with recording themselves reading it correctly; and a station where they read a short story, identified the subject and the verb in any 5 sentences from the story, and then re-wrote the sentences using a different conjugation. Each day for three days, I conducted a 5 minute mini-lesson with the class and then gave the kids 10 minutes to work in one of the stations, so that by the end of the three days, every student had completed all three stations. The kids loved it and retained the information so much better than in the past where my lesson consisted of guiding them through the completion of grammar worksheets. It took me about a half an hour to plan and create the workstations (as opposed to two minutes for running off copies of the worksheets), but I never again dreaded teaching subject-verb agreement to students, so it was time well spent!


critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity

Provide opportunities to create rather than just consume, collaborate rather than go it alone.

"Start slowly— perhaps with the topics you’re most comfortable with, and then add them throughout your curriculum. As you infuse 21st century skills into dated, rote, or boring standards, you’ll start to see the curriculum come alive… and that will make you and the kids come alive, too.”

Spend one hour a month looking for engaging ways to teach a topic you dread

As you think about the skills you dread teaching in an upcoming unit, set a timer for searching. You can spend longer, but setting a limit makes a task seem less daunting and won’t get you sucked into the Google hole.


Mondays - have breakfast with a colleague before school - might get you out of bed for Monday morning

Tuesdays - lunch in the lounge to talk about what’s happening on your favorite show

Wednesdays - team teach a lesson in science or social studies?

Thursdays - have lunch with your students IN THE CAFETERIA LOL 20 minutes - it’ll make their day, connect with them without having to make sure they are doing their work.

Fridays -

Whenever you start to feel dread about going to school, remind yourself of the bright spots you have planned and stay focused on them instead of whatever is stressing you out.