Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“Why do we have to learn this stuff” is a common question my students would ask me while learning about Julius Caesar and the fall of the Roman republic or other topics in social studies. Of course, I would explain that the the past is important to learn because past events are the building blocks that create our present. 
     With a new year beginning, it's a great way to start a discussion on just WHY study history and encourage responses from students.  
I like to remind students of when they were little and played the game of "Telephone". Remember, sitting in a  circle and someone would whisper something in your ear and you would  pass along the information to the person sitting next to you? History of the world is kind of like that game. People through the ages have passed down ideas which are still used today. 

EVERYTHING has a history, from the potato chip we eat, to the tissues we use to blow our noses, to the shoes we are wearing, to the pencil we use to jot down a note. Everything was once an idea that someone developed, passed along and in some ways was improved upon by those that learned of the idea. 

We are very connected to the past as it has shaped the present that we have today!

Here are some examples of "World-History Telephone"
1. You get up and look at the clock and see that it’s time to get ready for school. Did you know that the ancient people of Mesopotamia (people that lived in the present day country of Iraq) had a counting system based on 60? That’s how high they could count on their joints on their fingers and toes, and that’s the bases of our time counting today!
2. You look at the calendar and see that it’s Thursday. Thank the people of Mesopotamia again. They established a seven day week. Seems they had seven main gods that they wished to honor each day. 
3. Even the names of some of the days of the week came from people living many years ago. The Vikings had several main gods which they worshiped on a certain day. “Tiew’s day” became Tuesday, “Woden’s Day” became Wednesday and “Thor’s Day” became Thursday
4. Staying with the calendar, did you ever wonder why there are 365 day in a year? Yes, that’s another gift from the past. The ancient Egyptians had 360 days in their calendar and added 5 extra days at the end of the year for a BIG harvest party.
5. The earliest bathroom was excavated in a place called Orkney Islands, Scotland. The bathroom excavated dated back to 8000 BCE. 
6. You grab onto a bar of soap. Soap was invented about 600 BCE, by the ancient Phoenicians (of present day Lebanon). They made their soap from goat fat and wood ash. 
7.Pick up a fork and thank someone from the country of Italy who lived in the 11th century. Before this time, people ate with their fingers. In fact, for many years it was considered poor manners to use that metal contraption called a fork

I have a reading which I have developed sharing many things in our world that came from us from other past cultures. It includes comprehension questions and a couple of extension activities. It would be a great beginning of the school year activity to show kids that "history is all around us".

Note: The illustration is from and

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My A-Z Teacher LIST for the New School Year

A-Z Teacher LIST 
With the new year about to begin, I’d like to share my A-Z Teaching List.   If you have suggestions, please share.
Gail Hennessey

A-Always exhibit an interest in what you are teaching.  If you think it’s important , your students will, too. Have an assessment for how to grade your students.

B- Be prepared with your lesson. Have “bell ringers" to keep students on task when you  are collecting papers, etc. It’s better to have MORE than not enough for each day’s lesson.

C-Try to make connections with other areas of study with cross curricular activities whenever possible.  Critique your lessons each day for what you liked and what needs improvement. 

D- Dress for success, your “teacher uniform"  should not be too casual, Decorate your room.(It’s your “home away from home for 7 hours each day). Don’t READ your with the students.

E-Establish expectations and a class climate which students will come to expect each class. Keep an “emergency folder"with activities for a couple of days which a sub can do should you be called away and not have time to leave detailed lesson plans. Make EYE contact with your students.

F-Try and Focus on the positive each day.  Negatives will only get you down. Fire drill procedures and emergency Z Schedule procedures should be learned immediately and reviewed with the students.

G- Set up a Grading system. How many grades will you give a week, what will the different assignments be weighed for importance, etc. 

H- Have consequences for students not meeting your requirement and follow through with parent telephone calls, after school or lunch detention, etc. HANG students’ work around the room.  State and post your Homework policy.

I- Offer incentive especially for younger learners such as “praise"  for good work, less homework passes  or bonus point, etc. REWARD positive behavior. Make sporadic  “positive" telephone calls home.(Personal note: The initial voice of the parent was always suspect when I’d say I was their teacher calling. When I said I was calling to say how proud I was of their son/daughter for a particular reason  and wanted to call, their tone changed. I had a number of parents contact the principal AFTER my call to say how the call had such a positive impact. The student was always walking on air the next day,too! I remember some students sharing they got a positive treat because of my phone call!) 

J-Just try your best and realize you won’t always have a successful lesson.

K-Keep  note paper in your desk(or Thank you notes)  and distribute to students who show improvement, responsibility, citizenship, helpfulness ,etc.

L-Try and laugh each day! 

M- “Menu"  of what will be covered in the class-write it on the board so students know what is to be covered. Mark your papers.  If you give an assignment, look at what is done. (My feeling is students shouldn’t mark students’ work....that’s(in my opinion)  your job. Peer review doesn’t count as I believe this can be a useful learning tool).Motivate your students by “acting"  and performing.

N- Never be alone with a student!(especially middle school and high school students).

O- Be Organized. Keep folders of lessons developed, websites used so you have them for future reference. 

P-Use Primary sources to help to enhance the lesson and foster DBQ essay writinHomeschool Curriculum Marketplaceg, Gather Personal information on each student (birthday, telephone, address, study buddy to send work if ill, etc.) Proof read any work that is distributed to students for spelling and grammar. Speak professionally.

Q- Ask lots of questions to keep your students on task.

R- Review often all  terms and concepts throughout your unit. (Have the students HEAR, SEE , READ and WRITE , more than one method to help retain materials covered in class)Have a daily routine.  How will you arrange your room?  What works best for the particular students, rows, groups, assigned seats,etc.) *** Personally, I allow the students to sit with whom they’d like thus already finding “Friends"  and allow them to  stay where they selected unless they show that they can’t work well during class where they are sitting. Create a RUBIC for student assessment.

S-Share some personal self interests with your students(favorite color, favorite author or sports team, etc.). I shared my ballerina picture from when I was 10 and my 6th grade report card. There was a photograph of my husband and my dogs on my desk. Set an example, for some, you may be their only positive role model!  Smile!(it’s a great stress reducer)  Shake hands with the students on the first day and during the school year.

T- Ask experienced teachers for ideas on classroom management and other issues. Be open to suggestions. 

U- Use text to self connections whenever possible. Try and find a way for kids to see a connection with what is being taught and their lives.

V- Have variety of teaching styles and activities in your lesson.

W-Wrap up each lesson by reviewing the key concepts, vocabulary and any assignment to be given.  WALK around the room during the presentation of your lesson . Have students WRITE in journals, their notes(interactive notebooks), etc.

X- Do “xtras"  such as chaperoning a dance, going to a sporting event, having students come for lunch.

Y- “You"  set the tone of your classroom. Someone needs to be in charge of your classroom, make sure it is you!

Z- Get enough ZZZZZZZZZZ each night so you are well rested for the next day.

Gail  Hennessey

My website for teachers/kids:

Illustration from:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What Would YOU Do? Possible Bell Ringer Activity

What would you do? 

Possible Bell Ringer photograph to share with you to use with your students.
I was walking on a NJ beach searching for sand dollars(and found several in good shape) and took this photograph.  Hope you find this of value to use with your students!

Share the photograph with your students:

Your Turn:
1. Where would your footprints take you?

2. Write a paragraph describing the person that may have left these footprints. What were they thinking? 

Wishing you all a wonderful school year!