5 Alternative Methods for Long Distance Learning

Everything has changed in the blink of an eye. Stores have closed. No one is advised to mingle. The world is becoming a place of fear. With all of the changes, one of our students’ constants has also been taken away: the classroom. While students may not be in our classrooms, they are still “here” and they need to learn. If your school is going into a flex learning process, what are some options you have as a teacher to ensure your students are getting the best education without you in front of them?

#1: Create a YouTube Channel
If your students have access to a computer, gaming console, phone, or smart TV they will have the ability to get onto YouTube. Put your links on your school page and teach your students how to do a variety of topics. In order to ensure students are getting something out of the videos, require them to post a comment or email you a video or response of some kind.

#2: Turn to Technology
This is one of the times our students being technologically driven is actually to our advantage. Various programs like Google Classroom and Schoology are free to use for teachers and their classes. The best part about Google Classroom is the ability for it to be used on gaming consoles. On both of these forums, teachers can post lessons, videos, and assignments. In addition, students can also submit work and teachers can give feedback and assign points.

#3: Learning Packets
If computers aren’t something that your school has, you can always turn to learning packets. A learning packet is a folder that includes notes, examples, and assignments for your students. When going to learning packets, you still have to be mindful of germs, so I would suggest having a specific drop off and pick up time that would allow people to stay in their cars. You can have a staff member available or a few available (depending on your school size) to help hand out and collect work for students.

#4: Co-Teach with Parents
One of the biggest assets you will hopefully have during this troubling time are parents. If you can connect with parents via text, phone, email, or in any way, you can give them tasks for their students to do throughout the day. No matter what a student is doing during this time is better than nothing. Plus, spending extra time with family is not a bad thing! Encourage students and parents to do something together like bake and write an equation for the amounts of each ingredient needed. Then have them send that recipe to a friend or to you along with a picture of the finished product.

#5: Go to Project-Based Learning
Being independent is going to be very important in the coming days. Designing lesson plans that are project-based will be incredibly helpful in ensuring students are still working and learning. Projects you can have your students do include: novel studies, science projects, conspiracy busters, etc. If you’re struggling to come up with project ideas, reach out to the world of TpT and don’t reinvent the wheel!

The COVID-19 virus has rocked our states and our classrooms. We need to stand together for our students and try to implement a form of normalcy for them and for ourselves. Without education, our nation will crumble; we can’t let a virus take away one of the most important parts of our society.



5 Money-Saving Tips for Teachers

5 Money-Saving Tips for Teachers

We all know that teachers do not make nearly as much money as they should. Their less than extravagant salary leaves a little to be desired for sure. I know that teachers work very hard and I am a big believer that they deserve to treat themselves as often as they can! I also know though that treating yourself can cost a lot of money.  No teacher should have to stress about money when they are focused on working hard teaching our children.  

That is why I wanted to take a moment to talk about these 5 money-saving tips for teachers. Let’s work together to boost the bottom line and improve our financial standing!

Check out these 5 Money-Saving Tips for Teachers

Take advantage of the tax deductions available to you

There are tax deductions available for teachers and you need to make sure that you take advantage of them! When it comes tax time this spring, make sure you remember that there is a deduction available for teachers' expenses, as well as deductions for tuition and professional development expenses. 

Track your expenses

Everyone needs to track their expenses in order to get their finances under control, or at least to stay on top of their finances. To best track your expenses, create a spreadsheet and start recording everything you spend.  Be sure to take a few minutes at the end of each day to go over your receipts and input them into your spreadsheet. Once you start doing this, you will be able to see exactly where your money is going and where you may need to cut back on your spending.

Skip the restaurant and meal plan

This is another one of the budget-saving tips that everyone should be following through on.  Planning and creating your own meals is one of the easiest ways to save money. I know that heading to a restaurant is tempting and easy, especially on those busy school days when you work for hours, but trust me, your wallet will thank you for skipping them. Making your own coffee, bringing your lunch from home and having a set meal plan can save you hundreds of dollars per month. I like to meal prep on Sundays. I'll prepare a few different meals and portion them out in containers in my fridge. I don't mind eating the same thing for lunch every day. Making your own food is both cheaper and healthier. As an added bonus, you will have a lot more time on your hands since you will no longer be wasting your time trying to figure out what to cook every night. 

Ask for donations

Do not be afraid to ask for donations. No, not for your everyday expenses, but for your classroom needs.  There are a lot of people out there that want to help teachers out. When you have classroom needs, make sure to ask around.  Ask your teacher friends if they have leftover supplies, send out a letter to parents asking them to pitch in, create a Donors Choose account and post it on social media, etc. You can also create a wishlist on amazon for your classroom. These expenses should not lay solely on your shoulders. There are options out there for you to get help with your classroom needs. 

Take advantage of educator discounts

There are quite a few businesses out there that offer educator discounts, many of which you may not even be aware of. These types of discounts are offered at businesses such as retail locations, eyewear companies, craft stores, travel companies, and so many more. Whenever I'm traveling I ask if there's a teacher's discount. Don’t buy something just for the discount, of course, but if you are going to be buying something anyway, be sure to check and see if there is a discount available to you. 

Being a teacher is hard work and you deserve to not struggle while working so hard! Are you a teacher? What tips and tricks have you learned that have helped you keep your budget under control?





Independent Reading Tasks to Get Your Students Thinking

As secondary ELA teachers, most of our readers can read texts independently. Their levels may be varied, but giving your students ownership over what they read and the tasks they choose can help them go deeper when it comes to analyzing and understanding what they read. Whether your students are reading fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, you can try these independent reading tasks to get your students thinking.


Characters

When it comes to reading novels, let your students try some independent tasks that help with exploring characters in the book. Young adult novels often focus on dynamic characters, characters that change throughout the novel. Coming of age stories are particularly popular in YA lit. Use fiction task cards to have your students focus on character elements like realism, how the characters are involved in conflicts, and which characters are their favorites or least favorites. 

Setting

In addition, fiction task cards also explore elements of the setting. The time and place of a story can influence so many other elements, such as theme, character, conflict, and plot. Have your students explain why they would not (or would) like to live during the time and in the place of their book. Also, have them describe the setting. Get them thinking about descriptive words and phrases they can use to evoke powerful imagery.


Autobiography, Biography

Explore informational text through nonfiction task cards. Nonfiction texts are as varied as fiction. Your students may read autobiographies or biographies. Have your students think about questions they may ask the subject of the book or a gift they would give the person.  

Author’s Purpose

Is the text your students are reading meant to inform, entertain, or persuade? The author’s purpose is an important part of comprehending and analyzing text. Have your students reflect on why the author wrote the nonfiction text with nonfiction task cards.

Poetry can be a difficult genre for middle school students to dissect. First, start by expanding your students’ ideas of what poetry is. Poetry can include songs and verse novels. Give them a choice in their poems and have them think about poetry in a new way with poetry task cards. Your students can answer questions about the meaning of the poems by reflecting on the author’s particular choices. Think about the time period the poem is set (if applicable), the details the poet includes or leaves out, and the use of figurative language. Poetry is a powerful genre when it comes to independent reading.

Thinking About Reading

Your readers are ready to explore their own book choices. Let your students choose fiction, nonfiction, or poetry texts and think about what they are reading with independent reading task cards. Use the cards in small groups or for early finishers. The independent reading task cards bundle comes with cards for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. With 140 task cards and 67 pages, these standard-based question cards will help your students think about what they are reading every day! Try these independent reading tasks to get your students thinking in your secondary ELA classroom. 


 

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