Free and inexpensive extras for your classroom!
By Celeste Behe
A little of this, a little of that: little extras that can have a big impact on your teaching.
Each one of us learns best by a particular method. The individual with a visual learning style will absorb information most easily when the material can be seen or observed. The auditory learner prefers to listen to the subject matter, and the kinesthetic or tactile learner is the “hands on” type who learns by touching, feeling, and holding. As a teacher, you probably have observed a variety of learning styles among your students. While it’s fascinating to see the differences that contribute to each student’s uniqueness, those same differences can limit the effectiveness of your teaching. The folks at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth have put together a chart that explains each of the three major learning styles and gives tips for accommodating those styles in the classroom. Although the chart was designed for teachers of college students, its suggestions are helpful at all levels of instruction.
Make recess a learning experience with this set of Catholic Doctrine Playing Cards. It’s a standard deck of cards, but with a twist: Printed on the back of each card is one of the teachings of the Church. Students will be exposed to doctrine such as the Ten Commandments, Seven Capital Sins, the Mysteries of the Rosary, the Seven Sacraments, and more, all while playing their favorite card games.
Do you think Twitter is only for millenials and celebrities? Think again. Twitter is an excellent resource for teachers who would like to build community, share teaching tips and ideas, and keep on top of news relating to education. Cooper-Taylor Learning, an England-based company promoting online and digital learning, has created a short how-to video entitled “50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Teachers.” It will have you tweeting in no time!
“In my classroom,” says Katie Bogner, “I have been inspired to use the life of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen to lead my 5th graders on a learning experience. We focus on the life of Sheen, how the Sacraments are lived out in a real way, and the canonization process, as well as topics that Sheen taught throughout his life, including prayer and a devotion to Our Lady.” Katie’s wonderful Teaching with Fulton Sheen page includes links to a themed notebook, timeline, and graphic novel, as well as coloring pages, trivia, and videos. Katie’s blog, Look to Him and Be Radiant, is a treasure trove of “ideas and resources to teach the faith.”Fulton Sheen himself was a masterful teacher, educating millions in the Faith via his television and radio shows. He shares his philosophy of education in this video, originally broadcast in 1955.
Created by IBM, the Watson computing system gained notoriety when it defeated Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings in 2011. Now the supercomputer is helping to power a math resources database for teachers of students in grades K-5. Teacher Advisor with Watson offers free resources that can be accessed in seconds via a teacher-specific search and recommendation tool. Opened to the public in September 2017 after an intensive testing period, Teacher Advisor with Watson provides elementary level educators with the most advanced technology tools for math instruction.
“A good quote can be almost magical. In only a sentence or two deep truths can be conveyed. And lives can be renewed, refocused, and reenergized in unimaginable ways.” It’s for these reasons that middle school teacher Greg Aitchison has assembled “a 20 year-long collection of 1,753 faith-related quotes” on his aptly-named blog Catholic Quotations. Conveniently grouped by topic, the quotations pertain to such subjects as Modernity (“Money can buy everything money can buy, which is just a lot of stuff.” –Peter Kreeft), the Four Last Things (“Hell is full of the talented, but Heaven of the energetic.” –Saint Jeanne de Chantal), and Truth (“Theology is simply that part of religion that requires brains.” –G.K. Chesterton). Edify your students by “sharing Catholic truth and love one quote at a time!”
SlideShare is a slide hosting service that allows Individuals & organizations to upload and share slideshows on topics both secular and faith-based. A recent SlideShare search for the term “Catholic faith” turned up presentations on “Signs and Symbols of the Catholic Faith,” “Catholic Scientists,” and “Catholic Paleontology,” each of which could be used in the classroom to help increase student retention. Teachers are also able to post their own lesson presentations for students to view at their convenience. Additionally, slide shows on such topics as “The Art of Giving Effective Student Feedback” and “Principles of Classroom Management” can assist educators with their own professional development.
Nothing says “well-run classroom” like a properly decorated bulletin board. Fortunately, outstanding bulletin boards are only a download away. For a small fee, Tracy King, a.k.a. The Bulletin Board Lady, will provide you with a PDF containing the bulletin board display kit of your choice. Themes include Character Ed, Author of the Month, and Bible Heroes, to name a few. In addition to her namesake products, the Bulletin Board Lady offers editable awards and certificates, class management aids, “brain breaks” activities, and lesson plans.
Create a serene classroom environment with sacred choral music. Gloriæ Dei Cantores (“Singers to the Glory of God”) produce stunning recordings of lush choral melodies that soothe and refresh the spirit. GDC’s “Eternal Light” CD is a “collector’s edition of some of their most beloved meditative choral works.” Schedule a “music break” in your school day to allow your students to listen and relax, or let the CD play softly in the background while classes are in session.
Celeste Behe is a blogger, speaker, and ardent Toastmaster. She lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with her husband Mike and eight of their nine children.