NAGC members find the Teacher's Corner each and every month in the electronic pages of Compass Points.
In an effort to increase your understanding about specific subject areas or themes, I will provide related book titles, websites, professional papers, and other relevant resources related to these. I welcome your ideas, opinions, and suggestions as well. It is only through communication that we can continue to build and solidify our understanding of Gifted and Talented vocabulary and resources.
Good Ol’ Homeroom Shenanigans
I suspect that if you are a middle school educator, or know someone who is, you are aware that teaching a class in a specific discipline represents only one of many responsibilities carried out over the course of a school day. I’ve written before about lunch supervision, extra-curricular activity moderation, enrichment class facilitation, and advisory discussion roles, but in this installment I would like to tackle the often dreaded, and potentially boring, homeroom teaching position.
The tasks that are required for the 15-20 minute period at the start of the day usually take about 5 to complete and so there is often plenty of free time left for the students, whom if left in an unstructured environment, can become loud and disruptive. In the past I have tried to fill this time with a creative writing prompt, quote introduction, or short story read aloud, but the recent addition of a smart board and projector in my classroom has allowed for a new and quite successful activity, the viewing of a variety of online videos. Students have come to look forward to it, and homeroom period has become one of the best parts of the day.
As soon as attendance is taken, announcements are made, any forms collected and handed out, and absent folders, assigned to students to record work missed (another good idea for a future column) are given out, the lights are dimmed and the daily-themed “show” begins. I’ve selected themes, which represent a variety of genres and styles, for each of the 5 school days. Access to any of the ones below can be found with a simple Internet search. Remember to review the selection in its entirety before showing it to the class. Here are the themed days of the week.
Monday brings live performances, music videos, or theatrical production numbers. I’ve tried to vary the styles and types over the weeks, ensuring that the students are exposed to both well-known and obscure artists. Of course I usually begin with my favorites. I typically use YouTube http://www.youtube.com/ , Vimeo https://vimeo.com/ , or MTV http://www.mtv.com/.
Ted Talk Tuesdays
Tuesday begins with a TED, TED-X, or TED ED talk http://www.ted.com/ and the topics can vary greatly. There are some great ones geared towards adolescents and you can access shorter ones (3-6 minutes in length) by including “short” in your search terms.
Wednesday provides the opportunity to share classic cartoons, comedy bits, humorous commercials, and popular but appropriate YouTube videos. It always surprises me how many students have never seen a great Tom & Jerry, Road Runner, or Pink Panther skit. A great site to start with is Nerd Fighters http://nerdfighters.ning.com/.
Thursday’s viewings consist of content intended to be inspirational, educational, and insightful. Short biographies on Achievement.org http://achievement.org/, science videos on National Geographic or Discovery Channel sites, How it’s Made is always a great choice. A new favorite of mine is Crash Course https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBDA2E52FB1EF80C9 .
Friday, the favorite day of the week, starts off with a short film, documentary or animation. There are a host of websites dedicated to short films and are usually organized by genre. Many well-known filmmakers have their first attempts at film online and students get a kick out of seeing them. I’ve even selected longer ones and spaced them out over the course of a few weeks. Check out Short of the Week http://www.shortoftheweek.com/, for some great content.
Once you have instituted this new homeroom activity, try enlisting students to offer their ideas for selections to be used. I place a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board for such choices and try to incorporate them when I can. Knowing that they have selected the day’s viewing goes a long way, especially for the students that tend to brush off this new idea.
The variety of videos found online offer a glimpse into the past, present, and future of our society. Give your students something to remember and talk about by incorporating a medium that they are familiar with during a time usually spent trying to keep them settled. It is a great way to begin the school day.
These are MY themed days of the week. Happy viewing!
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