A few months back, some middle and high school teachers weighed in about what worked wonderfully during the 2014-2015 school year and what could use a little fine-tuning for the upcoming year. You can check out the blog post here: A Look Back: The Secondary School Year. Fabulous, fantastic suggestions!
The incredible responses didn’t stop rolling in, though… which brings us to this post right here. Here you’ll find lots more write-ups from secondary teachers in the areas of math, science, S.T.E.M. social studies, ELA, and world language. They’ve had some awesome home runs in their classrooms and can’t wait to tell you about it. Get inspired for the new school year!
In the Math Classroom…
“Last year, I began trying to add more student reflection into my math lessons,” says Math on the Move. “I added questions to practice pages, activities, and assessments that got students thinking, discussing, or writing about what they were learning. Questions include how well they understand a concept, what’s easy or challenging for them, what common errors can be made, and more. These questions lead to great class discussions! An example of a reflection page can be found with this freebie: Pythagorean Theorem – Partner Practice and Reflection Worksheets (grades 7-9).”
Janet Knox says, “High school math includes classes that a lot of students wish they didn’t have to take. Games and small-group activities helped keep my students engaged and willing to work harder. Three of my favorites include Algebra Bingo: Slopes and Intercepts, Linear Equations (grades 7-9), Quadratic Equations Algebra Activity: Personality Match-up, Two Levels (grades 8-10), and Logarithms Project: Mega-Bucks, Comparing Interest Rates (grades 10-12).”
In the Science Classroom…
“It’s essential for students who will be collaborating on labs and activities as groups (both large and small) to understand the best ways to communicate their thoughts and listen to others,” says Scienceisfun. “I always start out the year with some simple team-building activities and then revisit them over the coming months. Here’s a simple one (with few materials needed) that any teacher can try: Circle Of Words Teamwork Challenge Cooperative Learning Communication Activity (grades 5-12).”
From Science Rocks: “Last year, I started a year-long science project with my honors class. They picked a topic, did background research, conducted the experiment, and made a poster similar to what they’ll do in college. Students came up with great projects! For example: ‘How does the amount of bacteria on your cell phone vary depending on the number of cracks on the screen?’ and ‘How does photoperiod (amount of light) affect bioluminescent algae?’ The projects didn’t always yield great results, but students learned that is part of the scientific process. I really feel they’re better prepared for college after completing these projects. Here’s the complete resource: Scientific Research Poster Template (grades 9-12).”
In the S.T.E.M Classroom…
From Get Caught Engineering – STEM for Kids: “Setting up a Maker Station in the corner of the room was a huge hit. It was the place to go when all the other work was finished. With bins of items and tools to tinker with and task cards for inspirational ideas, ‘I’m done…what do I do ?’ evaporated as an excuse for fooling around. Some built prototypes, some wrote paragraphs, and some illustrated their ideas, but all embraced our theme of: ‘You are only limited by your own imagination!’ These are the task cards we used this year in the Maker Station: STEM SPARKS – Maker Space Task Cards (grades 3-8).”
Adventures in ISTEM says, “One thing I did last year that worked really well was flipping my 8th grade science class using videos with questions embedded in them for quick checks for understandings. I didn’t flip every class, just the beginning of the unit’s basic information. The students really liked the immediate feedback they got from the lesson and the ability to go back and watch the videos again before tests. It also allowed for more differentiation and for tackling higher level activities in the classroom. Here’s a free how-to guide for flipping your class (grades 4-12), and here’s a lesson plan template I use to help organize my flipped classroom (grades 4-12).”
In the ELA/Literature Classroom…
Middle School Cafe says, “As a literature teacher, I’m always looking for ways to get students to think beyond the words on the page. It’s easy to get students to read, but it isn’t easy to get them to think about what they’re reading. When I introduced literature circles to my middle schoolers and allowed them (as a group) to choose their book, I noticed an immediate impact on student engagement. They started to take more ownership of their learning and had more of a desire to help each other. I created a few simple, easy-to-use assignments to guide students through their discussion and hold them accountable. Take a look: Literature Circles for Middle School (grades 4-8).”
From B’s Book Love: “One thing that worked so well for me that I’m scrambling to create or find more like it is kinesthetic learning in my high school classroom. My Literary Yoga Activity (grades 5-12) has been a huge hit! Most high school students have 90-minute classes, so finding meaningful ways to add movement is key to keeping them engaged.”
“My most successful PBL last year was letting students take the responsibility for teaching a novel,” explains Making Meaning with Melissa. “I broke the class into as many groups as there were chapters, and each group was responsible for creating a lesson plan with their objective, doing a ‘think aloud’ passage annotation, and providing class activities, among other requirements. They also had to write a reflective essay about their experience. The lessons were fantastic and the reflections were truly insightful. I can’t wait to use it again. Here’s the complete resource: Project Based Learning – Let Students Be The Teacher – Secondary English (grades 8-12).”
In the Social Social Studies Classroom…
History Gal says, “The best change I made was re-doing a handout about the Fall of Rome. There was nothing really wrong with it — it was just boring. I decided to completely overhaul the activity by making it into a simulation. It was a complete hit! The students were thoroughly engaged and loved it! Plus, they came away with a greater understanding of the complexities of the issues that led to the collapse of the Roman Empire. I can’t wait to use it again! Take a look: Can You Stop the Fall of Rome? (grades 6-10).”
“Rotating the way topics were introduced and reviewed kept my students from getting glassy-eyed as the year progressed,” says Stephanie’s History Store. “Examples include orally brainstorming what the unit would entail by looking at a series of images, responding to creative writing prompts, casting and outlining movies, and putting together puzzles made up of pieces of images of the people and events they learned about. Some of my most popular intro and review activities are thoroughly detailed in the free sample of my back to school bundle (grades 8-12).”
In the World Language Classroom…
“Speaking early and often is really important for foreign language learners,” says Mme R’s French Resources. “I dedicated myself to creating a lot of fun speaking activities last year to use in my French class. Not only did my students have a lot of fun, but they really made a lot of speaking progress. Here are a couple that they really liked: French passé composé speaking activity – avoir and être (grades 6-10) and Find someone who… French imparfait and childhood activities (grades 8-12).”
From mrslryan: “I love to show my high school French students that there are many ways to do ‘authentic’ French tasks, even in the classroom! Here are a couple activities that have been hits in my class: French – Shopping in Paris, France – Internet Activity! (grades 7-11) and French – Food Shopping in Paris, France (grades 7-11).”
Three cheers for the secondary classroom and the dedicated, devoted, talented teachers (like you) who bring lessons to life!