New Teachers: Applying tech terms in a classroom setting

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Welcome to the language of education. As a new teacher, you’ll be asked to participate in a number of meetings and discussions where some of the terms used may get stuck in your throat, while they practically roll off an experienced teacher’s tongue.

The tech terms below obviously won’t be new to you on a personal level—technology today advances and evolves almost daily—but as you head into the classroom for the first time, this “vocabulary review” may be a nudge to help you understand how to apply them to a school environment and to your students, some of which may be as young as five years old.

ICT INTEGRATION

The development and constant evolution of digital media has influenced all walks of life—and education is certainly no exception. Students today live in the age of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), but not all schools are comfortable integrating ICT into classroom processes.

It’s important to remember that ICT integration refers to both using technology as a tool by teachers to enhance teaching and by students to enhance learning.

In this Teachers Media International video, Special Needs: Using ICT, a self-confessed technology novice explores using ICT with special needs students.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Whether you’re an avid Facebooker or a casual Tweeter, there’s no getting around it—social media is fully integrated into our everyday lives. Students are no exception.

As the cliché goes, “If you can’t beat them—join them!” Check your school’s social media policy first, and then see how you can use these online communication forums to share information, ideas, and lesson plans in your class. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Encourage students to share work socially through a variety of platforms — Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  2. Use hashtags to “speak” to your students on Twitter—you can remind them about deadlines, provide links to videos, or create a classroom hashtag to form an online community of your students.
  3. Introduce a class blog whereby each student must contribute throughout the year.
  4. Use Google hangouts or Skype to check in with students face-to-face or connect with classrooms in other parts of the globe.

In this Teachers Media International video, we explore the risks and benefits of using social media in the classroom. What tips would you add?

MEDIA LITERACY

For centuries, the word “literacy” has been associated with reading and writing. But in today’s age of technology, our information is woven through a web of media technology—thus creating a new term, Media Literacy.

Media Literacy is defined as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media, allowing us to better understand the complex and confusing messages we receive from television, radio, the internet, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards, video games, music, and all other emerging forms of media.

It is also the 21st century approach to education—an effective and engaging way to apply critical thinking skills to a wide range of issues and subjects. To see media literacy in action, check out these Teachers Media International videos for teenagers and experts.

GAMIFICATION

Whether or not you’ve jumped on the Pokemon Go bandwagon, the reality is, students have fully embraced their search for Pikachu in what is perhaps one of the most viral examples of gamification—which is essentially the integration of games for the purpose of learning.

Studies show that computer games can support curriculum, provide lessons in understanding how to win and lose, provide a forum for leadership, develop small and large motor skills, help students focus, and promote creative thinking. Impressive, right?

In this Teachers Media International blog post we looked at how educators can learn from Pokemon Go, but of course, there are many different games to choose from, including Microsoft’s Mine Craft. Pick the game that fit with your school’s policies and are appropriate for your students and get learning!

Got it? Great! Now head into the classroom with these terms securely on the tip of your tongue.

~ The Teachers Media Team

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Making the most of your initial teacher education

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Congratulations on your placement in a teaching programme! As you count down the days to your first day, Dr. Elizabeth White, Head of the School Direct routes into teaching at the University of Hertforshire UK, offers five tips for making the most out of your first day of school-based teaching experience—regardless of what point in your training you’re at.

  1. Develop a professional relationship with your teacher mentor. This is the key person for you during your school-based training. Dr. White notes that you don’t need to be best friends, but you should “be able to interact as collaborative professionals, focused on the task at hand.”
  2. Create a good rapport with your learners. Take time to learn about the young people in the age ranges you will be teaching. What interests are common to this group?
  3. Cultivate a learning mindset. “Space and time to reflect will be vital to your development,” Dr. White says. “Planning how this can be achieved regularly each week will be a great help.” She also advises that you ensure your laptop and internet connections are working well, your software is up to date, and your emails are making it to your inbox.
  4. Prepare to care for your own well-being. Plan now for a helpful life style. “It is natural that there will be peaks and troughs in your progress, as you learn how to handle new situations and master new skills,” says Dr. White. “Celebrate each achievement you make along the way and do not be hard on yourself when lessons do not go well.”
  5. Begin with the end in mind. At the end of your training, you’ll need to provide evidence to show that you are able to meet the teaching standards set out in your country. “Quality, rather than quantity is the key,” Dr. White says. “As you plan, teach and evaluate your lessons, you will be focusing on the impact that you are having on their learning.”

For the full scope of Dr. White’s advice, visit the Teachers Media International website to see the article, as well as links to complementary videos and other great resources for new and trainee teachers.

And thank you! As you know, good teachers not only play a vital role in children’s lives, but in creating a well-balanced and educated global community.

~ The Teachers Media Team

New Teachers: Making a good first impression

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There’s some truth to the cliché “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”

Similarly, you only have one first day of school. And if your nerves are shaking just thinking about it, we get it—“firsts” can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve gathered some tips and strategies from educational experts across the globe to help you get past those first day jitters.

Your first step? Breathe.

It’s true that new teachers have a tremendous learning curve, but as with everything new, practice makes perfect. You don’t have to have it all together on your first day—or even your first week—but the following is some sage advice that may make the day go smoother.

  1. Have a plan. Chances are you won’t be launching into your first lesson and assigning two hours’ worth of homework. Instead, use class time to set the tone for the school year. Have your seating chart ready, and introduce your students to some of the organisational features you’ve created—i.e.: a class mailbox, supply corner, library, etc. Whatever you want students doing on a regular basis, have them do it on the first day.  Involve your students early in decision making so they feel they are an important part of the class.  Depending on the age group, at the end of the week discuss with the class how these organisational features are working.  Listen, model respect, and acknowledge ideas even though you may not follow through on all.
  2. Engage students immediately. Icebreaker activities are a great way to get students “engaged” right off the start. Struggling to find some? This link has 10 great ideas. These kinds of activities can initiate a classroom discussion that involves all students—allowing you to identify the kids who are talkers, and those who may need some encouragement throughout the year.
  1. Reveal something about yourself. Set the classroom climate by demonstrating to students that you’re “human” too—share stories, a little known fact about yourself, or even some information about your educational background. How would you prefer students address you? That should be clear on Day 1.
  1. Establish rules. Do you intend for your classroom to be serious? Informal? Relaxed? Set the tone early, and be sure to include rules and expectations. What signals will be used for students to use the restroom? What are the consequences for late assignments? Now is also a great time to explore the expectations of your students. You may want to set some basic rules and expectations that are easy for all students to follow until you get to know your students a bit better. Try not to set expectations and rules that you will have to change right away.
  2. Smile. Laugh, even. First day jitters aside, you’ve made it! Congratulations.

Of course, this is only the beginning of your journey, and Teachers Media International is keen to help you every step of the way. If you’re planning to use technology in the classroom, you’ll find all kinds of tips in our Teaching with technology hub, and we have dozens of best-practice articles, videos and more for new and emerging teachers on the website, many of which have been collated in our Trainee teacher hub. Register today to access more than 3,500 inspirational resources!

Plus, for a limited time, refer a new teacher to our site and you could WIN an Amazon voucher. In the UK, click this link. For our North American audience, you can enter to win here. The contest ends Sept 30, 2016.

Have a great weekend!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Your first placement! How…scary?

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Your first placement. How exciting!

And how scary.

Being nervous is normal, but as teacher training expert Dr. Sara Bubb says in this article published on the Teachers Media International website, there are coping strategies.

Bubb suggests that before you even set foot in the classroom, make a list of things you’ll need to know. Then, familiarise yourself with the school environment, meet your classroom teacher, mentor, and colleagues, pay attention to codes of conduct, and perhaps most important, plan your route so you’re not late.

In the article, Bubb also offers some first-week advice, such as strategies to manage behaviour issues—Pro Tip: the key is organisation!—, working with your peers, and planning lessons. Plus, you won’t want to miss her sage advice on professionalism.

While this article is directed to trainee teachers, it’s great advice for new teachers as well—not to mention excellent reminders for experienced educators.

To access the whole article, sign up for the Teachers Media International professional learning service, which gives you access to dozens of trainee and new teacher resources, including this video that outlines great strategies for transitioning through the school day.

Inspired? Register today and get a 21-day trial for our Plus service. Our Lite service is free!

~ The Teachers Media Team

OLYMPIC WRAP-UP: Teaching lessons from the Games

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The 2016 Summer Olympics concluded last night with a stunning closing ceremony that honoured the hundreds of athletes that competed in the ultimate test of determination, commitment, and skill.

It should probably come as no surprise that the United States topped the medal count, winning a total of 121 medals, 46 of which were gold. Great Britain came second with a powerful finish, logging 27 gold medals, and China a close third, with 26. But what factors—aside from athletic prowess—play into these top medal-winning countries?

A matter of geography?

  1. Does geography impact an athlete’s ability to train? For example, football is an important part of the culture for many European countries. Does having the country’s support inspire a team to play harder? Be better funded?
  2. Why would Canada, for example, place more medals in the Winter Olympics?

Of course an analysis of the medals—perhaps even in a fun math lesson comparing statistics—is only part of what students can learn from the Games.

An inspired writing prompt

History was made as the first team of Refugees marched in the opening ceremonies, waving the Olympic flag in a universal symbol of hope and inspiration. While none of those athletes took home medals, their accomplishments—on and off the stage—are numerous.

Consider having students write a letter to a member of this team congratulating them on their success. Or, ask students to write a poem, personal essay, or journal entry describing their Olympic experience as though they are one of the athletes. What are some of the emotions that could be explored? What happens next?

Reflecting on the Games

If classes are not quite underway for you, perhaps some general reflection could be worked into your planning for the first week. Were students inspired by any of the athletes to train harder for a sport? Using the Olympic slogan (A New World) and the core values of unity, respect for diversity, and the will for change, encourage students to “think like an athlete” and set some personal goals for the school year, beyond sport. Maybe they want to win a “gold” medal in science improvement, for instance?

These efforts won’t be wasted as the world gears up for another important sporting event, the Paralympics, Sept 7-18. As we did with Rio 2016, we’ll gather some of our best teaching resources to help you follow along with the Paralympics, including providing access to videos, articles, and other great resources on the Teachers Media International website. If you haven’t registered for Teachers Media International, it’s not too late to access more than 3,000 best-practice resources—plus, our Lite service is free.

Until then, please feel free to browse through our blog archives. Which of our Olympic posts most resonated with you?

~ The Teachers Media Team

Teachers! First day in the classroom? You’re not alone!

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If this year will be your first time in your own classroom, the walls can either feel like they’re closing in, or that wide open space may seem pretty empty. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Obviously you’ll be surrounded by a team of professionals at your school who will guide you through your first year of on-the-ground teaching—not to mention all of those smiling faces when school is officially in session—but we hope you also consider Teachers Media International as another useful lifeline.

For the next few weeks on the blog, we’ll share some practical first-year survival tips, curated from our network of experienced teachers and our incredible library of best-practice videos, articles, and professional development packs. But you can ramp up the learning even more by registering for our 24-hour online service, giving you access to more than 3,500 quality resources and a trainee / new teacher hub that boasts a wide variety of videos, blog posts, articles, and a great forum featuring behaviour expert Sue Cowley who answers your common questions. Our Lite service is FREE!

Ready to dive in? Great. But first, take a look at this inspirational YouTube video featuring experienced teachers offering sage advice to their former first-year self. Which of these letters resonates with you?

And to our readers who have survived the first-year teaching trenches, what tips would you offer? Please share in the comments!

Until next week, have a great weekend,

~ The Teachers Media Team

Learning to teach? Great ideas for trainees from TMI

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By now, you’ll know if you’ve placed in a teaching programme for the upcoming school year, and whether you’re excited or nervous, the role of trainee (pre-service) teacher can be daunting. Don’t stress—Teachers Media International has your back.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll showcase some of our most-used resources that offer tips and strategies for trainee teachers to find their classroom groove. From comprehensive articles written by educational professionals to quality best-practice professional learning videos, we guarantee we have the tools to help you kick off your teacher training with confidence. Next week, for example, we’ll share an exclusive article from Dr. Elizabeth White, the Head of the School Direct routes into teaching at the University of Hertfordshire, UK.

Can’t wait? Why not register for our professional learning service? You’ll have access to thousands of videos, articles, learning packs and interactives that provide application to what you’re learning in class and gives you a unique opportunity to “see” the best practices you’ll learn. Plus, you’ll receive a weekly email showcasing our top resources of the week. Our “Lite” service is FREE!

Looking for confirmation you’ve chosen the right profession? Take a peek at this inspiring video that asks the important question: What would the world be like without teachers?

Sad? Chaotic? Yes, we’d have to agree. Thank you for choosing the teaching profession—we look forward to following your journey.

~ The Teachers Media Team

Integrating sport across the curriculum

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If you’re concerned you spent most of this past weekend glued to the television, don’t be alarmed—you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world are paying close attention to Rio 2016, and with every medal won, the importance of “sport” returns to the spotlight.

Through a series of blog posts this Summer, Teachers Media International has shared some innovative and fun ways to engage your students with the Olympics, but we recognise that long after the last gold is won, school sports remain top of mind, especially as warmer weather leads us into fall and continued use of the outdoors.

Teachers Media International can help keep students engaged.

If you’re not already signed up for our online professional learning service, now’s your chance. Register to access more than 3,500 resources including informative articles, a weekly email, professional learning packs, and best practice videos, such as this inspirational clip featuring British Olympic athlete, Kelly Holmes.

Watch as Holmes takes on the role of teacher in a basketball lesson that incorporates martial arts moves and motivational chanting to inspire the mentality needed for students to professionally succeed.

Haven’t registered yet? What’s stopping you? Our “Lite” service is FREE.

~ The Teachers Media Team

Celebrating International Youth Day: Youth Leading Sustainability

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Countries all across the globe will mark International Youth Day today, an annual celebration that promotes imagination and initiative among aspiring young leaders. It is a day to remind youth to aspire to be better—and to remember that they are not only the key to the future, but to the present as well.

With this year’s theme—Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainability—the focus will be on exploring how youth can continue to provide new ideas and alternatives to developing challenges, such as a renewed vision of consumption and production that will help combat global issues of climate change, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.

International Youth Day events will take place all around the world, but you can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #YouthDay and #UN4Youth.

Stimulate class discussion with this Teachers Media International video, Sustainability in a Tanzanian School, a short resource that profiles how a school in Tanzania is making extensive use of its local sustainable resources.

Like what you see? Register for the Teachers Media International professional learning service to access many more videos about youth initiatives from around the world. Our Lite service is free.

What International Youth Day events are happening in your area? We’d love to see some pictures!

~ The Teachers Media Team

WRITING PROMPT: Dealing with successes and failures

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Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci was 51 years old when he painted the Mona Lisa? Or that Dr. Suess was 54 when he wrote The Cat in the Hat? While both of these artists have earned success from these bodies of work, they’ve also both had several previous projects that never saw the light of day. Sometimes it easy to forget that “failure” is an integral part of success.

Consider Walt Disney. Today, Disney makes billions of dollars thanks to theme parks, blockbuster movies, and merchandise sold around the world. But did you know that Walt Disney was once fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas?” What would have happened if Walt Disney had given up?

With the 2016 Summer Olympics in full swing and the medal counts growing, we thought it might be useful for this week’s writing exercise to look at the impact of success—and the value of failure. Consider the writing prompts below. How can you adapt them for your classroom?

  1. Write a short story about a very successful person who wakes up to find himself in the opposite position. How has his past success prepared him for “starting over?”
  2. Write a character sketch of a person who has failed at quite a few things—ie: has difficulty passing Science; is unable to make the school volleyball team. What is his/her plan for finding success? How does he/she define success?
  1. Have students write a poem about a time they felt they had failed and the emotions that went along with that perceived failure.
  1. Ask students to write a mock letter to one of the Olympic athletes who did not medal place at Rio 2016. What words of encouragement could they use?

Looking for extra inspiration? Check out this list of famously successful people who failed at first.  What other examples could you provide?

~ The Teachers Media Team