Posted in Education, New Ideas, Professional Development, Teaching

New Ideas for Next Year

The underclassmen departed campus last Thursday and Friday and the ninth graders graduated this past Saturday.  We finished our final faculty meetings yesterday.  And so, summer vacation has officially begun. Yah for us!  It feels weird to not be teaching today, but I like it.  It’s nice to sleep in and relax.  I ordered new sunglasses and fun bandages for my classroom as a way to use up my unspent FSA money.  Who wants to see that go to waste?  Not me.

Now begins the fun part, preparing for the new school year, which will be starting in three short months.  Where do I begin?  Should I read my professional development texts first or start planning my first STEM and Humanities units?  I suppose either way could work, but I’d like to learn a little first before I dig into planning.  That way, I can incorporate all of the new ideas I glean from the books I read into my new units.  Sometimes I make a lot of sense, while at other times, I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast.

Before I get into reading my two professional development texts, I wanted to lay out some ideas I’ve been brainstorming so that I don’t forget about them when I start planning my lessons and units for next year.

  • Incorporate a Financial Literacy component into my STEM class.
    • I really enjoyed the Stock Market unit I taught this past year and would love to help my students better understand how to save, spend, and grow their money.  I’m going to reach out to my local bank and see about getting some check books and other related materials.  I want to start the year with some basic lessons on checking accounts.  I will then have each student create a checking account that they will maintain and keep throughout the year.  While I haven’t solidified every idea about how they will earn money, I do have some ideas.  The students will begin with $20.16 based on the fact that the year is 2016.  They will earn money for their objective grades.  A 3/4, which is meeting the objective in the sixth grade, will give the students $5.  If they earn a 4/4 and exceed the graded objective, they will earn $10.  If they don’t meet the objective, they will owe the bank, which will be my co-teacher and I, $5.  If they turn in work late, they will lose $5 as well.  Throughout the year, they can spend money to purchase fun gifts, homework passes, or other academic related materials such as extra wood for the bridge building project.  Over the course of the year, I will introduce the students to different ways to make and earn money.  They will have an option to open a savings account or another type of account that will earn interest.  We will also complete the Stock Market Game unit again as another way to teach students how money can be earned or used.  At the end of the year, special prizes will be awarded to the students with the most money in all of their accounts.  I’m very excited about this idea because I feel as though it will help teach the students number and money sense.  Plus, it will be one more way to motivate the boys to put forth great effort and meet deadlines.
  • Return to Grading Rubrics.
    • A few of my students were often confused this year about their grades and how they earned them.  While I’m not a fan of grading rubrics because I feel as though they become checklists for the students and don’t promote great effort and exceeding the objectives, I do think that they might help my students see on what and how they are being graded and assessed for each project or assignment.  So, for each objectively graded assignment, activity, or project, I will create a grading rubric that the students will keep in their Planbook Binders.  My new co-teacher and I will enter the grades the students earn onto these sheets.  The grading rubrics will also include due dates and requirements for the assignment.  The students will be able to use them to check over their work prior to turning it in.  This will hopefully help the students understand the importance of reviewing their work before giving it to a teacher to be graded.  I’m hopeful that these grading rubrics will help the students be more successful and truly own their learning without confusion.

That’s what I have so far.  I’m sure I will generate many more ideas in the coming weeks as I learn and grow professionally.  My main goal is to find more relevant and meaningful ways to support and challenge my students, and I believe the two ideas listed above, will help me to do just that.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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