Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)

      Today, we’re back with our series How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again, and we're going to explore how using the Element of Surprise … and the Fear of Missing Out … can help your classroom management.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/RoNGrAal77I
Today, we’re going to explore how using the Element of Surprise … and the Fear of Missing Out … can help your classroom management.
       Classroom management … it’s kind of this nebulous thing, right? Let’s break it down real quick. What goes into managing our classrooms?
  • Getting our students learning.
  • Engaging their minds and passions
  • Running things efficiently
  • Keeping them out of trouble
       So of course our students need to feel comfortable with lots of our consistent procedures. Those are vital. But then there’s all the ways we engage their minds in the midst of all those classroom systems. That’s where we either get creative or get boring.
       So our topic today helps with all four of these. We want to explore how to be predictably unpredictable ... NOT predictably predictable.
       Sounds confusing … predictably unpredictable. Let’s go deeper. There are a couple of levels to this.
  1. Our students know what to expect from ANY ordinary classroom lesson. They’ve seen a lot of them.
  2. They know what to expect from YOUR ordinary classroom lesson.
  3. The question is … What do they expect from yours?
       Think of it this way … Imagine you walk into class tomorrow and tell your students you are going to learn about nouns. Then ask them how they think you’ll teach it. What tools will you use? What methods? That’s the default you’ve been creating. That’s what they expect.
       Then ask yourself … are they ever expecting anything surprising from you? Any spontaneity? Do they have to pay attention for fear they’ll miss out on something interesting?
       Some TV examples, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert are masters at this. There’s a huge element to their shows that you never know what you’re going to get next. But you know that every time you watch them you’re going to not know what will happen. You know that at a couple of key moments they’ll be unpredictable. It’s predictable that they’ll be unpredictable.
       And you don’t want to miss out. They have our attention. We can build that element into our classroom environments. Not only can our content be surprising (e.g. Grammar Ninja) but so can the delivery.
       Students will be engaged, and even the troublemakers won’t feel as much desire to cause trouble. This will help things go more efficiently and will create an environment more passionate about learning. It helps with all 4 areas of classroom management.
       So let’s look at some real classroom examples … let’s take a few standards and brainstorm how to be unpredictable and surprising.
       How about in grammar? Nouns. We all know how to teach a predictable lesson on nouns. The students know exactly what that looks like. So what if you started out with the expected worksheet, bookwork, or PowerPoints … whatever they expect from you.
       Then give them a surprising location or situation and have them brainstorm interesting nouns in that place.
       Or take them safely outside and have them find the most interesting nouns of each category.
       All students are likely to be more engaged and processing what they already learned.
       We could be similarly unpredictable while teaching Prepositions. What if instead of describing what prepositions are, you acted them out. And not just acting them out with an object and an object. You put yourself in the locations compared to something. And what if you planned ahead and didn’t just compare your location to a desk, which is predictable. What if you busted out a beach chair? Or a giant stuffed animal from the county fair? Or a big trash can (use a clean one!)? Take every element of the lesson and make it surprising. The students won’t want to miss out.
Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)

       Or what if you’re teaching shapes? You could bring in surprising objects that have shapes. You could take pictures of surprising objects all around your local town that students will recognize. You could even have them with an assignment to take their own pictures of surprising objects around their neighborhood or at school that have all the shapes they’re learning. This could be for young learners or even in secondary level Geometry as they’re learning the different proofs for circles and rhombuses and all that.
       I love what our friend Luke at Students of History is doing. He’s taking his own fun field trips on weekends and filming himself at various historical landmarks and battlefields and giving tours for his students. Then as they learn those topics year after year, it’s surprising and cool to see those locations with, not some random outside person, but with their very own teacher! This is riveting, engaging, and surprising. It shows his street cred and is a creative way to deliver the content instead of him just talking about it that day.
Use the Element of Surprise and FOMO to Help Your Classroom Management (Episode 57)
       And as he does that enough in various different ways, he builds a classroom environment where his students can predict that he’ll be unpredictable.
       Conversation of the Day: Take a second look at a topic you’re teaching this week and share a way you can teach an element of that lesson in an unpredictable way.
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
Today, we’re going to explore how using the Element of Surprise … and the Fear of Missing Out … can help your classroom management.

7 Ways Grammar Ninjas Are Better than Boring Grammar (Episode 55)

       You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas! Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/gtsAXMeVsV8
 You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas! Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.       First off, what are the Grammar Ninjas?
       They are a bunch of grammar lessons I created and used in my middle school classrooms to make grammar fun. I was tired of how repetitive grammar can get and how unengaging the topics are, so I decided I wanted something different. And I especially wanted to engage boys, so I thought, What’s better than ninjas!?!
       And I remember when Jonathan first came home after teaching these with your students … how excited he was.

       So let’s get into the 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar!
  You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas! Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.

       The Grammar Ninjas are fun. Students love them because they’re so different from any grammar lesson they’ve ever done before. Different is good, especially when it’s quality!

       The Grammar Ninjas know their English standards like the blades on their katanas. They do. Whether it’s Parts of Speech, Commas, Subjects and Verbs or any other grammar topic, the ninjas make sure learners have all the nuances covered.

       The Grammar Ninjas will still let you use your boring grammar books. Jonathan used them every year in his classes. They’re useful … they are. But let’s not kid ourselves about their boredom level. The Ninjas are great supplemental resources to fix all that boredom stuff.

       The Grammar Ninjas are cheesy … and awesome. The humor just keeps coming. Boys and girls alike love to laugh while doing their grammar learning. There are so many jokes mixed in about ninjas that students will be rolling their eyes and still begging for more.

       The Grammar Ninjas go deeper into ninja history and legends. We talk about the famous ninjas, the infamous ones, the legendary stories, the connection to samurai, the historical wars, and the creative tools they used to be so sneaky. Students love learning this new info.

       The Grammar Ninjas tell creative stories about made-up ninjas in ancient and modern contexts. Learners love reading stories, especially about ninjas, which then helps them have fun learning the grammar we’ve attached to the stories.

       The Grammar Ninjas are done for you. As former teachers, we know how much time we spend on planning and making learning interesting, so we know how much time these will save you. And we’re going to be developing a lot more of these in the future, so let us know what you wish you could have.

       Explore all these different ways to invite the Ninjas into your classrooms.
       Conversation of the Day:What grammar topic do you wish you had non-boring resources to use with your students?
You might not have heard of the Grammar Ninjas yet, but they’ve heard of you. And they’ve been watching you. Cause they’re ninjas. Today, we’re gonna talk about 7 Ways the Grammar Ninjas are better than boring grammar.
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Hook Your Students from the Start of Each Novel Study (Episode 52)

       Today, we’re going to talk about Class Novel Studies and how to hook student learners from the Get-Go.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/-9CgdiILxl0
Maybe you’ve been there before … you’re about to start a 6-week study through a novel and you’re looking for a way to get them into it … to get them emotionally engaged … to get them to not be bored. So we want to give you a quick practical tip to get things started off right.
Death by Classroom: How to save our meetings from the doom of boredom       Patrick Lencioni’s book DEATH BY MEETING (Read the other blog we mentioned in the vid ... on Death by Classroom and how to use conflict to liven up classroom management.) talks about the most interesting thing to us humans … and yes, students are humans too … the most interesting thing to us is ………….. Conflict! We love it. We love to disagree and fight and discuss and joust and all that. So when thinking about how to start your novel off, think how can I engage them in healthy conflict to start?        Another super important way to engage them is to activate prior knowledge and opinions. People love sharing their opinions and what they already know. They love feeling like they’re in on the conversation and have something to contribute.
So you're looking for that perfect activity to hook the students from the start of a novel study? We're here to help. Today, we talk through the 3 crucial elements to any engaging introduction activity.        And since we’ll be studying the novel for a while, wouldn’t it be great if we could foreshadow the important themes and events and plant seeds in their minds?!
       We start all of our novel units the same way, and we want to teach you how. Our method does all of these: instigating healthy conflict, engaging prior knowledge and opinions, and foreshadowing compelling themes that will come up in the story.
       We think through the major themes and events in the story. Then we craft 9 statements that assert something to be true. Some samples:
  • It is okay to lie to people. (The Giver)
  • People are the result of their choices, not the environment they grew up. (The Outsiders)
  • Some kinds of people are trash compared to others. (To Kill a Mockingbird)
  • Everyone should have to work just as hard, no matter how rich they are. (The Great Gatsby)
       The purpose here is to make them choose a side. No maybes here.
       This gets really fun when you get the learners up and moving around the room. 1st, have them make their 9 choices on their own. Then have them stand up and move physically to different sides of the room depending on their opinion on each question. Agree … over here. Disagree … over here. (We like to use a PowerPoint with each prompt on it to project so we can examine and analyze all the words we disagree on).
       I love this activity because they all have opinions and in this fun action format, they all really love sharing their ideas. As the teacher, you’ll need to moderate the environment with respect, but encourage their honest opinions. I’m always amazed at how my middle school students would think through these issues.
The Great Gatsby learners will enjoy this prereading activity that gets thinking about and discussing (and maybe even engaging in some friendly arguing!). Then after the novel is done, learners will revisit these questions to consider how their minds have stayed the same or changed based on the events, characters, and themes they've just read about and felt.        And allow an organized argument. Let people from each side share their thoughts. Then ask for people who disagree. The more conflict the better.        This usually takes a solid 45 minute class period for my students. And they’re still discussing things on their way out of class.
       As you work through the story, these topics will come up and you can reference the discussion from this day.
       Then after you finish reading the novel, revisit these topics and see how their opinions have changed. They will be surprised at how the story has influenced and informed their beliefs. It’s pretty powerful.
       So a quick recap: to hook students into a novel, (1) stir up conflict, (2) engage their prior knowledge, and (3) foreshadow the big themes that will come up. Any activity you do that does all 3 of these is bound to hook them from the start.       Conversation of the Day: What activities do you love doing to hook students at the start of a novel study?
So you're looking for that perfect activity to hook the students from the start of a novel study? We're here to help. Today, we talk through the 3 crucial elements to any engaging introduction activity.
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Teaching Onomatopoeias - How to Not Kerplunk the Topic (Episode 51)

       Today, we’re gonna show some practical ways to teach onomatopoeias … so you don't kerplunk the topic!
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/PxqxMtlPBYI
 Teaching Onomatopoeias - How to Not Kerplunk the Topic (Episode 51)
We want to start of with a huge welcome to all the new teachers in our community. If you've already subscribed, awesome. If this is your first time with one of our videos or blogs or you've watched/read a couple and we've been able to give you value for your teaching life, would you take a moment to click the subscribe button. It means a lot to be a part of a community like you all.
       So today's topic: Onomatopoeias! A simple kind of figurative language that can be so much fun to engage students with.
       But like with any topic, if we're not thoughtful about our approach, we can kill it and make it boring.
       Onomatopoeias, besides being the hardest figurative language to spell … They are any word we invent to communicate how to spell a sound. We have hundreds of them and use them all the time.
       I doubt any of us have any problem with our kids learning this topic. The question is: how do we make it more fun?! And this one is easy.
 Teaching Onomatopoeias - How to Not Kerplunk the Topic (Episode 51)       It's one of the 5 senses: Sound. And sounds are interesting … Anything sensory is interesting.
       So use this to your advantage! Start with the easy ones for them: Boom! Smack! Thump! And here's the key … Actually make the sound on different things in the room.
       And then have the kids make the sounds. They love this! This is gonna be a loud lesson, and don't let that scare you.
       Have a couple of containers of water filled with different levels. Drop some marbles in them and have the students write out the sound each one makes. Splunk! Plink! Kerplunk! Sploop!
       Then maybe let the students pick some things they want to drop in. Record the sounds.
       Let the class pick some objects that you're gonna smack the desk with. Record the spelling of the sounds.
       Then keep going. Split them into groups and have them brainstorm as many sounds that aren't connected with smacking things or dropping into water. Give them 30 seconds for a practice round. Let them share the results. Then give them a longer couple of minutes and see what they come up with. Encourage them to make the noises to discover.
       You'll love what they come up with, and they'll have so much fun. My favorite is plblbplbblblplb!!! I tell the class it's my favorite and write it on the board. They always look at me confused and ask what the heck that is. Then I stick my tongue out at them and blow to make the sound. They laugh. They love this stuff!
 Teaching Onomatopoeias - How to Not Kerplunk the Topic (Episode 51)       We just wanted to take this quick time to show you possibly a new way to look at teaching a topic to draw the fun out and make a lesson fun and memorable.
       And it may seem contradictory, but fun lessons like this actually help with classroom management. It's why the old Batman series was great. And it's a great activity to do when you're being observed by your admin or on Parent Visitation Day.
       We’ve created an activity that you subscribers can get in our teaching store. It's free for this week because you're amazing, so go grab it! (Link in the description.)
       Conversation of the Day: Think up an onomatopoeia and spell it out down in the comments. Leave a short explanation if you need to.
Teaching Onomatopoeias - How to Not Kerplunk the Topic (Episode 51)
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
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