January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Eliminating Holiday Distractions: How to Keep Your Students Focused and On-Track

Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012

by Amanda Smith

The holidays are a time to work smarter, not harder. We all find ourselves busier than usual during the fall holiday season, both inside our classrooms and in our personal lives. However, we don’t want our students to lose their focus during these critical two months despite the numerous days off, fall/winter fundraisers, special events, and classroom parties. With this in mind, here are some of my personal tips on how you and your students can make the most of this year’s holiday season:

  • Keep to your pacing guide: It can be hard to stay on track in light of all the season’s distractions, but students thrive on stability – and frankly, so do we! Give your students activities and routines they can count on, such as consistent discipline, weekly homework, and classroom rules.
  • Call your parents: This is a great time to update parents about how their child is doing, not only in terms of their academic progress, but also about how well they follow your classroom rules and expectations. Although it takes a substantial amount of time to call every single parent in my spare time, these are such meaningful conversations to have and are an asset in the long run.
  • Add holiday cheer to your lessons and activities: If your school allows you to include holiday-themed lessons and other activities, use that to your advantage within your curriculum. For example, ask students to research how snowflakes crystalize for your science lesson.
  • Beat the holiday stress through efficiency: Take advantage of the fact that by this point in the school year, your students can work independently and/or in small groups. Try grading papers and working on lesson plans while students work on their own, and encourage them to find creative ways to keep busy (such as reading silently between activities).  Consider having students do an oral presentation so that you can evaluate their work during the presentation rather than taking written items home. Try structured peer review to let students help each other learn – you can always pair them up by your choice of method. For example, think about the purpose of the task, and decide whether the student would benefit working with a friend versus with a student with a higher grade.
  • Notice and reinforce success: Providing your students with genuine information about their abilities and competences can prevent many behavior problems in your classroom.  Be sure to commend behavior you have seen rather than behavior you wish to see, such as a direct reminder to the group: “Remember class, we all agreed to walk to recess quietly and in one line.” It’s also important to use positive words that do not single out a particular student, such as, “Many students did a great job cleaning up today after our activity, so now we have more time to read our story.”
  • Revisit personal goals for your students: At the beginning of your school year, you probably set some goals for both yourself and your students. Now is a great opportunity to reflect on your progress! Consider how your students are doing in terms of academics, social interaction, behavior, etc. Ask yourself if your goals need to be revised, or if it’s time to make brand new goals for the future.  It is never too late to make goals for yourself, either. Use your holiday breaks to revisit lessons that you have taught during the fall months, make notes in your planner about what worked, and what didn’t (it will be too hard to think about these things in June!). Last but certainly not least, make sure to make time for yourself and your family during this busy holiday time.

Written by Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a science teacher at Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Charter School and a member of CSTA.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.