Teaching Today publishes innovative teaching tips on a weekly basis. Written with the busy teacher in mind, each tip is concise, practical and easy to implement in the classroom right away. Topics covered in Teaching Today are classroom management, career development, high stakes testing, instruction and planning, parental involvement, reading in the content areas, using technology in the classroom, and portfolio development. Teaching Today also offers free weekly downloads that correspond to the tips. Our free downloads make implementing the teaching tips even easier. Teaching Today provides educational resources for teachers looking for everyday solutions to the challenges of the classroom.
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Weekly Tips

Students learn more effectively and deeply when they are actively engaged in their learning. This week, we focus on strategies you can use to incorporate "active learning" into the classroom.

Keeping students interested in learning is a difficult and ongoing task for all teachers. We know that a student's motivation of lack thereof can be a key component in the success or failure of a lesson. This week we focus on strategies that teachers can use to increase motivation in the classroom.

For many teachers, implementing strategies to accommodate special needs students in a regular educational setting is an intense challenge. This week, we offer straightforward tips to help educate special needs students whose least restrictive environment is the regular education classroom.

Writing across the curriculum not only reinforces essential communication skills, but also provides a means for students to record explorations and observations related to content. This week, we provide writing activities that are easily implemented in any content area.

chool-to-work programs ensure all students a smooth transition from high school to work, college, and/or military training. A typical school-to-work program includes school-based learning, work-based learning, and connecting activities in middle and high school. This week, we look at a variety of ways of promoting school-to-work activities in your classroom.

You want to cover the required content standards and utilize technology, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time. WebQuesting may be the answer! This week’s tips will help you plan, create, and evaluate your own WebQuest.

One challenge faced by instructors is recognizing and interacting with all students each class session. Often it is difficult to foster participation by all students in your class. This week, we present tips to encourage individual student-teacher interaction and participation during each class session.

Fair evaluation of subjective work is an issue faced by many classroom teachers. Rubrics offer an equitable manner in which to apply objective standards to seemingly subjective assignments. This week, we offer tips dealing with the definition, purpose, and types of rubrics.

Analytic reading involves breaking a text into its component parts, in order to understand its meaning and relate it to other texts. While critical to success in school, this skill is lacking in most students. This week, we will provide tips to promote analytic reading in the classroom.

Writing is one of the most critical skills a student develops in high school. It is also one of the most frustrating for students to master. By using a methodical approach, you can defuse some of that frustration, while helping students learn that writing is as much about process as product.

Note-taking is one of the most important skills students can use to improve their understanding and retention of material they read and are taught in class. Yet it is also one of the most erratic and unmonitored student activities that occurs in the classroom. You can improve students' note-taking skills by explicitly teaching them how to do it effectively. This week, we focus on concrete ways to improve student note-taking skills – and enhance their classroom learning.

Effective teachers have consciously made the decision to become professional educators. As professional educators, the goal is always the same: to enhance the learning of students. This week we offer reflection tips to promote effective teaching practices.

Providing opportunities for students to monitor their own learning is important, and teachers play a vital role in creating opportunities for students to assess personal learning and performance. This week we offer tips to promote student self-reflection.

Ideally, student, parents, and teacher form a learning team. Conferences create an environment of free exchange among all three components of a team. Unfortunately, in the secondary setting, conferences typically convene when there is a problem to solve, and the role of the classroom teacher becomes crucial. This week we offer tips to improve the quality of the student-parent-teacher conferences you host.

Graphic Organizers are maps that represent relationships and encourage organization of knowledge. Ideal as a primary mode of intake for visual learners, graphic organizers can be used effectively to make abstract ideas concrete and visible. This week, we offer you explanations of five graphic organizers and a version of each to download.

Embedded assessment differs from outcomes assessment in that it occurs throughout a unit in order to chart progress, rather than at the end of a unit to measure the level to which objectives have been mastered. This is also referred to as formative assessment. Embedded assessment raises student achievement, and this week we present tips about using embedded assessment in your classroom.

The end of the year means that tests and assignments are coming due. Your job is easier when students are on task and prepared for tests. This week's tips will help you give your students valuable strategies for getting through the last few weeks of school.

Creating a successful class Web site demands more than just technical skills. Planning, organization, and a good sense of how your students will use the site all contribute to its effectiveness. This week, learn techniques for producing a class Web site that works.

The upcoming school session is nearly upon us and it is time to get in high preparation gear. Make this school year your most productive yet. This week, we offer tips for planning for the upcoming school year.

There are many things to think about when planning for an Internet-based curriculum. The Internet provides a medium in which one can research and share information and collaborate with others on a variety of fronts. This week we offer some food for thought on using the Internet in the classroom.

Educators are always looking for new and innovative ways to integrate the Internet into classroom activities. One of the most logical ways is to use it to enhance and extend material presented in the course textbook. This week, we look at a variety of ways to use Internet resources to extend textbook content.

Short, ungraded and unedited, reflective writing in learning logs is a venue to promote genuine consideration of learning activities. This week, we offer a series of prompts designed to provide authentic writing experiences in any content area.

Since no two students are exactly the same, in every classroom there will be students of various abilities and skill levels. This week's tips focus on ways that teachers can intervene to assist the struggling student to improve his or her performance.

Portfolio assessment is an innovative form of alternative assessment that allows teachers to see the academic progress and accomplishments made by a student over time. Portfolios also provide students with the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned over the course of a semester or a year. When used appropriately, portfolios can be an excellent component of your overall assessment plan. This week we present five critical steps to help students and teachers begin the portfolio process.

Substitute teachers are unique to the profession of teaching. While the appointments of other professionals, such as lawyers, architects or doctors, can be rescheduled when an illness or crisis arises, a teacher’s day can never be canceled. This week’s tips provide pointers on preparing a substitute folder.

Most states have established a set of academic standards that identify the explicit content that students need to acquire at each grade level. Generally, academic standards describe what needs to be taught, but not when or how to teach it. The following tips will give you guidance on how to use academic standards to determine what to teach and when. Also, your district or site might offer you additional guidelines to follow while teaching to the state standards.

While a course outline and curriculum map are key to effective classroom instruction, daily lesson plans unlock learning for students. Daily lesson plans that work share core ingredients, and this week we offer tips to highlight aspects of effective daily lessons.

Oral articulation of ideas and presentation of materials is an important area in which many students need practice. Regular and frequent opportunities to speak in front of small and large groups should be provided to students. This week, we offer tips to incorporate speaking skills into classroom instruction.

Using the Internet to improve learning can be a difficult task for even the most Web savvy teachers. To help you improve your Internet teaching practices, we offer suggestions for getting more out of your Internet assignments.

Note-taking is one of the most important skills students can use to improve their understanding and retention of material they read and are taught in class. Yet it is also one of the most erratic and unmonitored student activities that occurs in the classroom. You can improve students' note-taking skills by explicitly teaching them how to do it effectively. This week, we focus on concrete ways to improve student note-taking skills – and enhance their classroom learning.

Students enjoy learning more when activities are stuctured to permit movement as well as cognition. Additionally, when students are actively engaged in learning, they are more likely to retain what they have learned. This week, we provide five dynamic learning activities that can be used in any subject area to kick it up a notch.

School hierarchies naturally create leaders and followers. This week, the target audience is the classroom teacher who acts as a leader to her students, but the tips are applicable to any situation where effective leadership is important.

Generally, gifted students are defined as students who can master school subjects at a faster pace and with a greater level of proficiency than their counterparts. Often, educators are excited by the enthusiasm these students have for learning. On the other hand, working with gifted students can be challenging as teachers search for means to engage and maintain the interest of these students. This week, we offer tips to help teachers get a handle on working with the gifted student.

As college seniors complete their final exams and prepare to enter college, teachers can give them a farewell present-tips for succeeding in college. Prepare your students for life beyond high school with these tips.

Increasingly, public educators stand before classrooms where no two children have the same background or ability. Whether your classroom is made up of students who are mainstreamed, possess limited English proficiency, or simply are of differing abilities, the need to accommodate individual learning is of utmost importance. This week, we offer tips to help teachers differentiate instruction.

A successful teaching team can be the catalyst for positive change within a classroom, department, or school. Team teaching can provide learning experiences that extend beyond those possible in the typical 50-minute period. Teaming provides a powerful forum for cooperation, creativity, and curriculum integration and can ease student transition into middle and high school. This week’s tips will help teachers have a successful, productive team teaching experience.

School systems apply various descriptors to determine students at risk of failing or dropping out. Unfortunately, necessary procedures often delay interventions for such students. Thus, classroom teachers find themselves working with students in need of serious interventions and at times feel ill-equipped to work with such youngsters. This week, we offer tips to promote positive interactions between teachers and at-risk students.

Reviewing content is an important activity in any secondary classroom; however, it isn’t always the most exciting or fun part of a student’s or teacher’s week. It may be time to spice up your review sessions. Use one of the activities presented this week to help students review course content.

The Internet brings easy access to information, images and data of all kinds. It also allows us to connect with people all over the world. Using the Internet for furthering communication and collaboration skills is this week’s topic. This week, we’ll show you ways to reach out beyond the walls of your classroom.

When parents and teachers meet to discuss academic performance, student progress and needs form the heart of the discussion. Yet the child often is removed from the process. In student-led conferences, students play the leading role, assuming responsibility for describing academic progress and goals. The success of student-led conferences is largely determined by the level of preparation of the participants. This week’s tips focus on preparing students to effectively lead productive conferences.

The presidential election season of 2004 has officially begun. Presidential candidates have embarked on campaign trails across the United States in search of votes. Newspapers and television are bombarding us daily with political advertisements, opinion polls, and issue debates. Voters are preparing to cast ballots. These activities provide numerous opportunities for learning in all content areas. This week, we offer ideas for using the elections as a point of instruction.

Employing cooperative learning strategies in the classroom is a creative and motivating way to help students learn. In well-structured cooperative learning lessons, students are accountable for lesson objectives and for helping teammates learn. Carousel Brainstorming is an ideal activity to activate students’ prior knowledge of a subject, while engaging them physically in the learning process. This week, we offer tips on the cooperative learning strategy of Carousel Brainstorming with groups of three.

Exchanging work with peers to receive feedback is common practice in the workplace, and is used increasingly in schools. Teachers use peer review in their classrooms most often to increase the amount of feedback students receive on writing. The short-term goal of peer review is to help students compose their best final draft of a paper. The long-term benefit is to help student writers give and receive constructive criticism in an environment of active learning. It can be used in virtually any content area to promote good writing practices. This week, we offer a series of tips on enhancing students’ writing experiences by integrating peer review into the classroom.

Metacognition, or "thinking about how a person thinks," is one of the most important tools for lifelong learning. People versed in metacognition understand the power of asking themselves “why” and seeking answers to that question in a multitude of scenarios. These people are the epitome of life-long learners, and one goal of many schools is to produce life-long learners. Thus, student metacognition, or a student’s ability to analyze his or her own learning and progress, is becoming increasingly important in many schools. This week, we offer tips in encouraging student learning through metacognition.

While it is possible for a teacher to assemble student work in a portfolio, the question is whether such an assembly fosters student growth and learning. The authentic instructional value and power of portfolios comes when students use criteria and self-reflection to make decisions about what they want to show about themselves and why. Self-selection of portfolio entries is integral to a successful portfolio program. This week, we offer tips concerning self-selection and portfolios.

Free Downloads

This handout can be used throughout the portfolio collection period to get students to think about the items they want to include in their portfolios. It also provides a space for teachers to write feedback about those items selected.

This diagramming handout can be used to help students visually organize concepts and facts that relate to a central theme or topic.

This reference sheet will help students learn the proper method for citing online resources, based on the MLA style.

This project planner provides students with a basic outline for using a methodical approach. It prompts students to complete a brainstorming phase, a planning phase, and an evaluation phase.

This worksheet allows students to document what they know about a subject, and what they want to know about it. (Similar to KWL, but for any subject and medium.)

This handy reference tool can be given to students and/or used as a guide when teaching basic test-taking strategies.

Use this Remediation Plan template to lay out a plan for students who are in need of intervention/remediation. It can be used for high stakes testing situations, if there is no formal remediation plan required by your school or district. It can also be used for mid-semester reviews or project-based work.

This organizer will help students organize vocabulary, related concepts, historical periods, and real-life applications of a topic.

This Grant Writing Primer is packed with tips that are critical to any successful grant writer. It is designed for both the novice and experienced writer.

This Class Web Site Map template will help you see visually how your site is organized. It will also help you decide where information should logically be placed within the site's structure.

This reference tool illuminates the options one has when conducting a through search by providing a search case using seven of the major search engines.

Use this convenient template to record information that will make any substitute teacher's experience in your classroom a little easier.

This activity will help students determine the types of skills they enjoy using in hobbies, work and other activities.

Raise students' awareness of career choices by having them complete this career categorization activity. Students will learn what occupations are available in a wide variety of fields.

This activity will lead students through three important steps involving envisioning and researching their ideal job.

This activity helps students learn how to develop a competitive resume.

This easy to use handout will help guide students through the cubing exercise. Once familiar with the process, students can cube independent of teacher guidance or the handout.

Students will use this worksheet with a visualization writing exercise. Simply provide them with a visual prompt, such as an illustration in the text, a slide, transparency, snapshot, etc. Encourage them to imagine themselves being transported into the visual. On the worksheet, students should list three to five sensory phrases (per sense) describing what they see, hear, taste, touch or smell while imagining themselves within the cue.

This WebQuest Lesson Planner will give you an easy-to-use design template for creating WebQuests for your classroom.

Use this Content and Skills Planner to incorporate skills into unit lesson plans. Include several levels of instructional plans in your professional portfolio to show your ability to develop both short and long-term goals.

These easy-to-use entrance and exit passes are the ideal tools to use during the onset and closure of daily lessons. Use them to jog students' memories at the beginning of class and/or reinforce learning at the end of class.

This sample rubric is designed for a ninth grade writing assessment. It clearly shows one way of designing a rubric that is easily used and can be shared with students.

Use this Anticipation Guide with students to help them apply analytical reading strategies.

Taking notes in class is one of the most effective ways for your students to understand the material being presented. Go over these useful guidelines with your students and they will be pros in no time!

Help students keep track of their learning with this simple learning log. Learning is enhanced when students know what they are expected to learn and can track their progress in an organized and efficient manner.

This easy-to-use worksheet will help guide students through the initial step of key word clustering.

This easy-to-use template will help you plan your next parent conference.

Use this graphic organizer to help students visually organize similarities and differences of two ideas, objects, or sets.

Use this graphic organizer to help students visually organize similarities and differences between three ideas, objects, or sets.

Use this graph to organize steps in a process, to trace plot development, or to record the stages of an event.

Use this graphic organizer to help students visually organize causal relationships in complex ideas or events.

Use this graphic organizer to develop an awareness of and mode for dealing with feelings and thoughts about sensitive subjects

This guide presents seven easy steps to mastering stress. It is an excellent resource to give to students, particularly at the end of the year.

Use these transition activities to keep students busy with meaningful work while they are waiting for class to start or another activity to finish.

This Internet Rules of Conduct poster outlines five simple rules that will help establish appropriate Internet-use behavior among students. As always, be certain to check with your school to see if there are established procedures for Internet use.

This "Writing-to-Learn" handout can be given to students to record the relationship between terms (key words) and the topic.

Rubrics work well for project-based assignments like WebQuests. On this form, fill in the objective criteria, make copies, and then use it as an assessment tool on your next WebQuest project.

Use this checklist to help you prepare a classroom folder for substitute teachers. It will ensure that your classroom runs as smoothly as possible in your absence.

This guide helps teachers break down an objective statement into its three component parts. It establishes basic guidelines to follow when writing objective statements.

Use this template to write down your lesson plans for block scheduling.

Use this rubric to evaluate students on content, preparation, voice, and nonverbal behaviors.

This set of guidelines provides suggestions for developing clear and effective consequences for dealing with students who break classroom rules.

Use this Gifted Enrichment Plan template to create a plan for your gifted students.

Use this monthly planner to document instructional goals, content, and correlated state standards and textbook material for each week.

Use this evaluation to get ideas for creating your own or use it "as is" by writing your name and the course name at the top. Distribute one to each student and then, you can either elect to stay in or leave the room while students complete the evaluation. When the class has finished, have one student collect and deposit them in a large brown envelope to be given to you.

Use this learning page template to create differentiated lessons for your class. Assign different reading passages, ask students to read for the same main ideas, and then have them gather in teams to discuss their findings.

This list shows the variety of projects that can be offered to allow for increased student choice. This project list was created for a ninth-grade class required to select a project after reading Romeo and Juliet.

Students can use this form during the Popcorn Response Activity to document their conclusions and support.

Use this convenient form to document your team teaching planning meetings.

This set of interview questions can help provide structure to a meaningful exchange of information with students from other countries.

Students can use these guidlines to select appropriate work for their portfolios.

Analyze a debate between the presidential candidates.

Divide students into groups of three to make role selections.

Use this form for students to review their peers.

Questioning Strategies to Activate Student Metacognition

Portfolio Self-Selection Reflection

Feature Articles

Increasingly, school districts are exploring new ways to configure the traditional school day, including adopting a block scheduling system. This month we explore the pros and cons of block scheduling.

School-to-Work programs have sprouted up across the country primarily due to the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994. This month, we offer a school-to-work primer.

With so many federal dollars pouring into educational think tanks these past years, you may wonder, what's in it for teachers? This month we review a wonderful new guide for educators, What Works in Classroom Instruction, published by the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL for short).

Summer is a great time to catch up on your professional development and there's no easier way to start about it than reading one of the many books dedicated to theory and practice. This month, we review a selection of titles that is sure to prove an interesting, if not enlightening read.

As most teachers know, effective reading skills are a critical key to academic success. Yet, they are an elusive and often mysterious set of skills for students to acquire. This month, we report on what constitutes proficient reading and how content teachers can incorporate good reading strategies to help their students become better readers.

Imagine a classroom where the teacher electronically beams assignments and grades to pocket-sized computers that students can take home. Imagine students working on group projects and exchanging information without pen, paper, or photocopy machines. This month, we report on a surprising technological leap occurring in K-12 classrooms across the nation.

Within the past year, activity at the Department of Education has shifted into high-gear to increase resources dedicated to education, but did you know that the federal government has been publishing millions of free materials online since the Internet began? This month, we provide a road map to the most valuable federally funded Web sites for teachers.

Cooperative learning techniques have been used by teachers for a generation and throughout history. But how do teachers make coperative learning more than just a group activity requiring more time, but resulting in less learning than individual work? This month, we look at why these techniques often fail and then provide basic steps for improving cooperative learning in your classroom.

This fall, teachers across the United States are welcoming classrooms filled with new students from a variety of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Alongside their English-speaking classmates, thousands of non-native speakers will attend mainstream content courses in their middle and secondary schools. This month, we examine the issues surrounding effectively teaching this special population. We will also provide a list of teaching strategies you can use to improve their performance in your class.

Since the early days of the World Wide Web, the WebQuest has been making an impact in classrooms across the country. Because technology integration has become a desired, but sometimes elusive goal, teachers have favored the solid instructional process WebQuests offer. This month, we delve deeper into the role of the WebQuest in today's classroom.

Reading is arguably the single most important skill to have mastered by the end of elementary school. Yet, year after year, teachers find students entering middle school and high school struggling with reading material. This month, we look at ways to help those students who may be struggling with content area reading.

With the No Child Left Behind Act, there can be no doubt that traditional standardized testing is grabbing headlines and class time. Yet, a number of teachers and schools across the nation continue to use alternative forms of assessment that go beyond short answer and multiple-choice questions. This month, we review what alternative assessment is about and why people continue to use it to compliment more traditional forms of assessment.

Can't make it to Washington for a tour of the White House? No busses available to take your students to the local aquarium to study marine mammals? Rather than scrapping your field trip plans altogether, why not consider taking your class on a virtual field trip? This month, we review issues to consider when planning a virtual field trip and provide links to some of the hottest educational destinations on the Web.

Across the United States, many communities are fortunate to have a school that is closely aligned with a community partner. Partners range from cultural institutions to zoological gardens and, in one of the programs profiled here, sometimes they can include both. This month, we look at the characteristics of learning that define these unique schools and profile some of the most successful programs in the country.

Standardization of the curriculum across schools and districts is an important issue facing teachers and administrators today. Knowing the skills, content, and forms of assessments being used across grade level and within courses is essential to making critical decisions about the curriculum and instruction. Creating a curriculum map can be an effective process for documenting and analyzing what is being taught and when. Read more about this useful process in this month's article.

Summer is a great time for teachers to get rejuvenated with new ideas and examples of successful classroom strategies. A great source of ideas can be found in either of the two inspiring books we've reviewed this month. Whether you are interested in integrating technology in the classroom or shoring up your teaching methods with what is known about how the brain works, you are bound to benefit from a little extra-curricular reading.

You've received your class assignments for the year, your curriculum is set, you have created lesson plans and prepared materials, and all you are waiting for is school to start. Have you thought about techniques for getting the class off to a good start on the very first day? Read this month's article to learn how.

Creating effective tests is an essential task for all classroom teachers. While it is a task that every teacher undertakes year after year, how can you be sure you are making the best tests possible? This month we examine the importance of good test question construction and provide a variety of solid suggestions you can follow when constructing your next classroom test.

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