1st Day Lesson — Expectations and Argument

1st-Day Lesson

Once school supplies hit the shelves of my favorite department store it’s hard to turn off my teacher brain. I start thinking about last year’s students–their personalities, their needs, their successes, their struggles. Then, I think about myself as a teacher–my personality, my needs, my successes, my struggles. I’ve learned over the years that my … Read more…

Counterintuitive Ways to Improve Test Scores

Counterintuitive Ways to Improve Test Scores

I teach a course that ends with a big standardized exam at the end. The first few years I taught it, I used to do test prep by the book. I gave my students a sample exam each quarter. They had 42 minutes to complete 40 of the 55 multiple-choice questions and I counted the results as a test grade. As a class, we would review the questions the following day, sometimes in small-group breakdowns, sometimes as whole-class instruction. The two weeks before the exam we were in full-on, test-prep mode, drilling and killing. I thought I was preparing them for the rigors of the exam. I thought I was exposing them to college-level work. I thought this was a sound instructional practice. … Read more…

The Flipped Grammar Experience

Community IN THE (2)

Last year my principal presented a very unique opportunity for me to flip instruction in my classroom. His motivation was to try and reach more students on all levels. As our conversation progressed, we discussed specifically students who struggle getting homework turned in and students who need to be challenged. Furthermore, we talked about how flipped lessons provide student an opportunity to go back and watch a lesson over as many times as needed if the student was not understanding it the first time as it often happens after a teacher is going through a lesson while in front of the classroom. Unfortunately, there is no rewind button for teachers. However, if a student is watching a flipped lesson, they can rewind as often as needed. 


Flipping is not a secret and is an innovative way to deliver instruction to students. A flipped classroom is where a traditional teaching methods are switched where instruction is delivered through online videos and other resources such as websites. In addition, the “homework” portion is then done in the classroom. Students watch lectures outside of classroom, working at their own pace and application of the learned processes take place in the classroom with the help of the teacher. Having some background knowledge of what a flipped classroom is and does, I was more than willing to implement this instructional strategy into my classroom. In the Spring of 2013, my principal sent myself and one other teacher to a professional development where we were able to have some hands on experience with how to flip our respective classrooms. In addition, he handed us Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. 

Upon furthering my own knowledge of flipping, I took the time to develop a plan to flip just one part of my instruction when it came to my language arts classroom. I didn’t want to overwhelm my students and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself when it came to this innovative way for my instruction. So, I decided to flip only the grammar part of my instruction. There are educators who do flip their entire language arts classrooms, but with me being a novice I was not ready to take that plunge. I have chosen to flip grammar because most students find grammar boring and to be quite honest, so do I as their teacher. Flipping grammar allows me to put together an instructional video where I use Camtasia, Snagit, or Touchcast. Camtasia and Snagit are both products from Techsmith and are fairly inexpensive. Touchcast is free, which fits everyone’s budget. Below is a sample of a Touchcast flipped lesson I did using Touchcast.

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Getting Real with Book Clubs

book clubs

Teacher:  Jennifer Brittin School:  Warren E. Sooy Elementary School, Hammonton, New Jersey Class:  4th Grade Language Arts   Along the Way I’m here to confess that I ruined book clubs for several of my fourth grade classes.  You may be wondering how that’s possible. Book clubs build community in the classroom, get students excited about … Read more…

The Giver Lesson Plan: Teaching Problem Solving

The Giver lesson plan


My freshmen are reading The Giver  this week. We were six chapters in on Wednesday and paused the reading for a day.

After reviewing how to brainstorm correctly, (time yourself and write as many ideas down as possible, not editing or organizing), students were given two minutes to brainstorm the topic “Problems in the World.” Students counted how many ideas they had written and the one with most received a piece of gum. Simple but effective. Gum is like gold at high school!Read more…