what really went down...

School has really taken off.  I can hardly believe I've made it through 3 units in both of the classes I'm teaching this semester.  Collectively, my students have been doing wonderfully.  However, there is always a moment that you just wonder... are they hearing me?

My moment from this last week occurred just after we talked about President Washington and his role in the Revolutionary War.  A girl looked to her desk neighbor and very loudly said, "I just don't understand...I always get George Washington and George Bush confused!"

I had to take a deep breath.
A couple weeks ago, I posted ideas I found on Pinterest that I was looking forward to implementing in my classroom.  And much like the year before, all of them actually happened!  This year I am teaching Government and US History.  So I thought I would show you a little bit about what really went down....
Bulletin Boards

I think it's really important to stay relevant with kids, especially when teaching high school.  Using things that they are familiar with, think are cool or just generally draws their attention.  When I was thinking about my bulletin board this year, I came up with a few ideas.  First, mustaches!  I mean they are just funny!  So I found some mustached presidents for my board and cut out a giant mustache.  Get it? "I 'mustache' you a question?"
I had a harder time with the rest of the board.  I really wanted to use the "Keep Calm and Carry On" sign, but couldn't think of anything cool enough!  I asked my husband to think about it as he walked to the mailbox, and he came back with this! Awesome!  Abe and Andrew are just chillin' in their glasses--excited to debate the differences between Republicans and Democrats!
Lastly, these kids love music more than anything.  I see Beats by Dre more times a day that I would like to.  So I thought the kids can look to this board to see what's on our "playlist" for US History!  It's really just a list of all the topics that coincide with each of their units.  However, I have seen numerous students go over to the board, just to see what it says!
Review Game

If you were ever a student at any point in your life, you probably know all about "trashket ball."  For some reason, it is a review game favorite.  We've never played it in my classroom before.  I've always tried to come up with new interactive ways to help my class review for an upcoming test.  I was inspired by a magazine someone put in my mail box at work.  It had all kinds of materials you could order to use in your classroom.  Unfortunately, everything was super expensive!  Don't they know we're teachers!
So I ripped out a page and headed over to the Dollar Tree determined to recreate something I really loved in that magazine....generic game boards.  I bought eight foam boards and construction paper.  The only other materials I needed I already had--eight dice and a hot glue gun.
I made eight games boards exactly alike.  Just plain, not geared towards anything.  I have a new set of questions for the game every time we use them!  I call it, A World of Possibility!  The students love it!  There are crazy things for them to do on the "Possibility Cards" and when they land on "Roll the Dice"!

Warm-Up/Do Now/Starter

Whether you call it a warm-up, do now, starter, or something else, those first few minutes of class always need to be planned strategically.  You need something that draws them in for the whole period.
One of my favorite warm-up activities is a scavenger hunt.  Now I don't let the kids run around the school, just my classroom!  I've been known to tape things under desks, under seats, on the ceiling, on the walls, hide Easter eggs, and more.  I try to keep my methods of scavenger hunting different and exciting so they never know what to expect!  I do it about 2-3 times a week and it never fails to be exciting.

What do you do to keep the attention of kids? Or stay relevant?


  1. Hey Courtney,
    I am your newest follower and I found you on Pintrest! I just wanted to let you know that when I clicked on the pin to read more about it it brought me to your homepage not the specific page of that blog post. This makes it more difficult to find the post related to the pin. I was looking for these two blog posts: http://pinterest.com/pin/179510735120382603/ and http://pinterest.com/pin/179510735120382604/ Could you please provide the links to those two posts for me? Thanks,

    Follow Dava Smith English Teacher on BlogLovin’

    1. Thanks for reading! This is a like to the post I made for back to school ideas! You will find them both there!