Resources and Tips to Start a New Semester

A new year is here and so is a new semester! There are so many great things to having a fresh start in terms of a new calendar year, but also new students and classes. On this post, a few of our bloggers are sharing some tips and resources to help you ensure the transition to a new semester is as smooth as possible.

Resource and Tip #1 from Room 213

Building a classroom community is so much harder when students are learning from home, but it's so important that we do it. You may not be able to do your usual getting to know you activities, but you can get your kids to create a slide or a video that they can use to introduce themselves to you and the class. 

Then, you can create a scavenger hunt based on what your students give you: Which student has a black belt in Karate? Who has lived in South America? Whose student's favorite book is Lord of the Rings? It's not the same as the ice breakers you might use if they are in front of you, but students do enjoy this activity.

If you'd like a resource that is all ready to go for this activity, just click HERE. And, you

can check out Jackie's Back-to-School Digital Stations if you'd like an activity that helps you get to know your students while they find out about the expectations of your course.


Resource and Tip #2 from The Classroom Sparrow

Digital learning has not only taken over the way we teach, but it might possibly become the new normal. Why? It's paperless, lessons can be recorded and replayed at one's leisure, studies become more self-directed, tracked progress and more! 


One way that I am incorporating digital resources into my classes this semester is via interactive digital notebooks. I use my digital flip books as mini-lessons and review tools for English Language Arts. They are paperless. No printing. No cutting. No glue. Just send the link and your students can create their own digital reference points. 


Click HERE to check out these digital flip books in more detail!

Resource and Tip #3 from Presto Plans

Establishing routines are so important at the start of a semester, and my favorite classroom routine is instituting regular bell-ringers. I first realized the power of bell ringers years ago, thanks to a particularly unruly class that would bounce off my walls after lunch. After consistently wasting the first ten minutes of class getting the students seated, settled, and read to learn, I decided to give bell-ringers a try. They were immediately a classroom game-changer. 


Bell-ringers - sometimes referred to as "warm ups" or "do nows" - are questions, tasks, or other warm up activities that students complete at the beginning of class (or when the bell rings, as the name suggests.) They jump start students learning, calm classroom chaos, reduce uncertainty, and make transitions smoother, all the while allowing the teacher to maximize their time and maintain their sanity. 


Some tips to consider if you plan to implement bell-ringers:


1. Mix-up your bell ringer task each day. You might consider having students improve word

choice, locate figurative language, watch a video clip and respond or correct grammar errors. 


2. When you introduce the idea of bell-ringers, model a strong response for different tasks, so students will know what is expected of them. 


3. Set expectations for collecting the bell-ringer notebooks and returning them or sharing the digital files with you. Having a process set up in the beginning keeps the paper/digital cluster at bay. 


4. You don't have to grade everything. Listen, the LAST thing I want to do is add more work on your plate. Bell-ringers can be used as formative assessment and don't need to be graded. You might do a quick check to see where you need to focus your instruction or grade a week here or there, but keep it simple. 


Want to try some free bell-ringers to get you started? Grab a free sample of my favorite volume in digital and print format by clicking below:


Volume 3 Bell Ringer Sample PRINT Version (grab the FULL YEAR here


Volume 3 Bell Ringer Sample DIGITAL Version (grab the FULL YEAR here)

Thanks for reading! We hope these tips and resources will give you a heads start to the new semester! Happy teaching!

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