Many education authors have written about the importance of reviewing academic content with students to improve understanding and retention. In fact, an important principle states that when children learn new material during the school day, their understanding and retention of that material increases significantly if they have the opportunity to review the new learning at least one more time that day before heading home.

Saturday, 15 October 2011 17:45

Halloween Monsters (Teaching Tip #45)

Every year on Halloween my school holds a big parade in which the younger students march around the playground in their costumes as the older students, staff, and parents cheer them on. The parade begins right after lunch, and there is usually just over an hour remaining in the school day when my students and I return to the classroom. Because the kids are so excited about Halloween, they usually have a difficult time concentrating on academic work as this day winds to a close.

Saturday, 08 October 2011 17:45

Ticket to Lunch (Teaching Tip #44)

The “Ticket to Lunch” strategy offers a quick, easy way to assess students informally. Though it is called “Ticket to Lunch,” this idea can also be used before recess, at the end of the school day, or any other time when students are about to leave the classroom.

This Teaching Tip is the fourth in my new “Starting the School Year in Style” series.

In previous years I have usually waited until our school’s annual Parent Conferences in mid-November to meet with parents for the first time. This approach worked well because I had a couple months to get to know the children as individuals before discussing their progress with their families.

Recently, I have tried a more proactive approach, and the benefits have been substantial.

Friday, 23 September 2011 17:45

Classroom Display Case (Teaching Tip #42)

This Teaching Tip is the third in my new “Starting the School Year in Style” series.

On the back wall of my classroom, I have set aside a large rectangular space for students to display their favorite pieces of work. In this area, known as the “Display Case,” the students each have their own spots that are roughly 15” by 15.” While the idea of displaying student work on a classroom wall is certainly not a new one, there are two aspects of this suggestion that I believe offer a different twist on how work is traditionally shown.

Friday, 16 September 2011 17:45

Back to School Night (Teaching Tip #41)

This Teaching Tip is the second in my new “Starting the School Year in Style” series.

A Back to School Night presentation is like the State of the Union address the President delivers to the nation at the beginning of each year.  It is a chance to speak with a sense of optimism and articulate a compelling vision of the upcoming year.  Because your presentation provides such a strong introduction to the school year, it is important to have as many parents there to hear it as possible.  Do whatever you can to maximize turnout.

Friday, 09 September 2011 17:45

Passion Survey (Teaching Tip #40)


A few years ago, I asked my students to complete a sheet on which they listed their favorite hobbies and activities and then drew themselves pursuing these passions. After the kids completed this "Passion Survey" at the end of the first week of school, I took home the papers and created the chart shown in the photo below. The following Monday I attached the chart to one of the closet doors in the back of the room, and the chart remained there for the rest of the year.


Welcome to a brand new year of Teaching Tips. Last year the first seven Teaching Tips I shared on this website comprised a series that focused on four important priorities that we need to emphasize in our classrooms at the start of every school year. I wanted to begin this new year of Teaching Tips by sharing these priorities with you again. Next week I will move on to a different topic. Should you wish to read the Teaching Tips from last year, you can find them on this site. Have a great year!
Saturday, 04 June 2011 17:45

Tip #38: Summertime Improvement

In this final Teaching Tip of the 2010-2011 school year, I would like to focus on one of the foundational components of a quality classroom: an emphasis on continuous improvement.  As teachers, we spend countless hours helping our students get a little bit better at everything they do.  Helping students improve involves various strategies and techniques, but more than anything else, continuous improvement is an attitude, a mindset.
Friday, 27 May 2011 17:45

Tip #37: Finishing Strong

With the school year winding down in areas operating under the traditional calendar, it’s critical that we take full advantage of the time we have left with our students.  As professional educators, we are not simply people who teach content standards to help children score well on standardized tests; we are passionate individuals who work hard to promote valuable character traits, social skills, and attitudes. All year we have emphasized these priorities, and the end of the year is our last opportunity to convey powerful messages, review what we have learned together, and achieve a sense of positive closure.  Rather than count down the days until summer vacation, we savor each of our remaining days and strive to maximize their value.