Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone!

I'm taking the next few days off, so no Five for Friday, Awesome Weekend Videos or episodes of "Dear Mr. DeRosa" this weekend. The next posts you'll see will likely be a look back at the best of 2009 here on the site.

If you're bored and hungry for content, there's 400+ posts preceding this one on all sorts of topics.  One way to find something interesting is to scroll down to the Tags on the sidebar and click through.  If you're looking for something specific, go to Google and add this to the terms you're searching for:

...and you'll only get results from this website.  For some reason, it works better than the built-in Blogger search box (go figure).  Happy hunting!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Download My Book for Free Until Tomorrow

I realized that I neglected to make my book Ten Cheap Lessons: Second Edition available for free download as promised on Monday (I was traveling home for the holidays), so I'm making it available for the next 24 hours.

Click here to download it!

15 Continuing Education and Career Development Resources for Teachers

The web is an excellent place for teachers to research continuing education and career opportunities. There are sites that offer information on accredited teaching and certification programs, sites that provide details on teaching grants, and sites that allow educators to browse new job opportunities. Here are 15 resources to explore when you're ready to advance your education or career.

NEA - The National Education Association (NEA) provides educational resources for teachers in addition to information on teacher grants and education events.

TEAC - The Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) offers a list of accredited teaching programs for current and future teachers.

All Education Schools - All Education Schools provides details on undergraduate and graduate education programs in the United States. Other site features include articles on teaching careers and certification.

Online Masters Degree - The site isn't specifically geared toward teachers but it does offer helpful information on earning a masters degree from an accredited online program.

National Center for Alternative Certification - The National Center for Alternative Certification provides answers to frequently asked questions about alternative routes to teacher certification.

TeachersCount - TeachersCount is geared toward aspiring teachers, but the site also offers a nice list of grants, continuing education resources, and professional development resources for current teachers.

Fund for Teachers - This non-profit organization provides grants to teachers who are interested in pursuing new education and career opportunities. Fund for Teachers also links to other online teacher resources.

Teachers Support Network - The Teachers Support Network offers information on teaching certificates, education programs, professional development, job hunting, and other education-related topics.

The Apple - The Apple is an online community for both current and future teachers who want to network, explore teaching opportunities, and learn more about available teaching degrees and scholarships. - is a recruitment service and job board for teachers and administrators who are looking for education-related employment opportunities. The site includes postings from more than 1,700 U.S. school systems and private schools.

Education America - This education employment network allows teachers to search for jobs online and gives employers access to teachers who are actively looking for employment opportunities within the U.S.

The Chronicle of Higher Education - The Chronicle of Higher Education offers a job board for educators who are looking for administrative, executive, and faculty positions with colleges around the nation. Teachers can also elect to search for jobs with organizations other than colleges.

TedJob - This online higher-education job marketplace makes it easy for teachers to find jobs with universities, colleges, and other academic organizations. The site also allows teachers to make their resume available to employers online.

AFT Salary Surveys - The American Federation of Teachers publishes an annual survey and analysis of public school teacher salaries. The survey and the analysis can be downloaded for free.

TeachStreet - Teachers who are want to find new students can market their classes and services through this site. TeachStreet also offers tools to help teachers enroll students in classes, send invoices, and collect payments online.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

52 Teachers, 52 Lessons #37: Bucket o' Fun

This week's entry comes from Jessica Lepore, who teaches Spanish at The Chicago High School for the Arts in Chicago, IL.

I have what is lovingly referred to as my "Bucket o Fun". This small bucket is filled with plastic baggies full of activities related to the current unit and recycles concepts from previous units occasionally. The baggies are filled with verb conjugation matches, vocabulary cards, sentence builders and activities to help improve subject verb agreement. I use these in many different ways:
  1. If a student needs tutoring, I have him/her work with the cards that meet their needs
  2. My teaching aide is in the classroom once a week, and she uses them to informally assess student progress one on one
  3. If there is extra time at the end of a lesson, I distribute them around the room and the students work in groups on the material
  4. I use them to quiz special education students who may struggle with more traditional pencil and paper tests
The options are limitless. This is a really inexpensive and easy way to differentiate instruction for all students. The little bucket can be picked up at the dollar store. I use simple 3x5 notecards, a Sharpie and Ziploc baggies for the individual activities. As the students learn a new concept I add a new activity to the bucket. My teaching aid also will work on keeping it up to date if I get behind - a student might even work for this and would probably enjoy it.

Read more about this project here, then email your entries to teachforever AT gmail DOT com. Week 38 is scheduled for next Monday, December 28th, but there is no entry in the queue.

As promised, the download
version of Ten Cheap Lessons: Second Edition will be available for free all day today!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tear Down the Ladder of Consequences: How to Become a Master of Classroom Management

This is the latest from my teaching advice video series "Dear Mr. DeRosa". I love the randomly selected still picture (thanks, YouTube!).  It says, "I can chop you right in half!"

Check out or subscribe to my new YouTube channel to see the rest of the series and future videos as well!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Five for Friday: Student Lifehacks, Boring Schools, a Great Scholarship and more

  1. 100 Essential Lifehacks Every Student Should Know - The list is aimed at current and future college students, but most of the ideas apply to high schoolers as well. 
  2. Posse Scholarship - A post on Sup Teach? reminded me of this great scholarship opportunity for underprivledged students trying to get to college.  If you teach in a Posse city, you can nominate your best and brightest for this honor.  Last year in Boston, one of my seniors made it as far as the final round of the selection process, and while they didn't get it, they paved the way for many others who will apply in the years to come.
  3. Fix Boring Schools, Not Kids Who Are Bored - The Innovative Educator hits the nail on the head yet again.
  4. Emergency Homeschooling: How to Survive (and Even Thrive) When Schools Close - I'm a little late sharing this, but it will certainly still be useful for many of you for the next few months!
  5. "Math is all around us" activity - Quick and easy idea from teachingmathcreatively.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How Teachers Can Help Make Their School's Security a Priority

Without invoking sensationalism, you must admit that media coverage of school shootings can bring a chill to the bone. Aside from being chilling for the obvious reasons, is it also because as a teacher, you worry if such a thing could ever happen at your school. Thankfully, shootings occur at a tiny percentage of schools. However bullying, fights and theft are extremely widespread and are nothing new to many teachers’ classrooms and school yards.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report, 2008, 86% of public schools reported one or more serious violent incidents, thefts, or other crimes, amounting to an estimated 2.2 million crimes. That number is astounding! This means that 86% of schools are seeing distractions to learning, student and staff unease, and inappropriate behaviors that detract from the process of learning. These are only a few reasons why teachers, among other school administrators, are becoming more concerned – out of necessity – about security risks.

The foundation of a safe learning environment is where students feel safe and can focus on lessons and assignments instead of worrying about if they will be robbed or bullied after class. While teachers may not be responsible for designing an overall security program for their school, they can still make a huge difference by proactively getting involved. Below are a few simple steps to help teachers create a safe environment by supporting administrators and School Resource Officers (SROs) in their efforts:
  1. Have an anonymous reporting program - Give students a way to report things they see, hear and are afraid of without drawing attention to themselves. Given the popularity of cell phones among students of all ages, some local law enforcement departments have seen success with better crime reporting by allowing young people to anonymously text tips to their hotline. With an appropriate and well-defined cell phone usage policy in place, phones can be used to help create a safer learning environment.
  2. Address issues - Schools that address issues swiftly and consistently create an expectation among the student body that inappropriate behaviors will not be tolerated.
  3. Minimize opportunities for violence – Become involved in the use of tools like access control, video and physical presence to monitor potentially volatile areas (underneath stairwells, blind spots/corners in the school, restrooms) and make them less attractive spots for violent activities. For example, teachers at your school responsible for monitoring large rooms – i.e. cafeteria, gymnasiums, libraries - should also have access to live video surveillance during certain parts of the day.
  4. Take action - When teachers get involved by sharing information with SROs, helping with natural surveillance, immediately addressing or reporting issues when they see them, and generally being aware and proactive, students understand that security is a priority at the school.
Small steps can make a big difference when it comes to security. From a personal safety perspective, it is well worth some thought and effort. I invite you to visit the Wren Education + Network Video blog for more recommendations and ongoing trends in school security. A school with fewer security problems yields a richer, more focused learning environment.

This is a guest post from Bret Rachlin of Wren Education + Network Video blog, who focuses on school safety in depth.  Wren Solutions, the security company that hosts the blog, has a lot of quality tips and information for teachers and administrators interested in school security.  Also, the company is sponsoring a scholarship for School Resource Officers to help further their education.  Read more about the scholarship here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Five Gift Idea Guides for Teachers and Students

Last year I wrote a few posts with gift ideas for teachers, and since you're likely thinking about that now, here they are:
  1. Seven Great Gifts for Teachers (and Three to Avoid)
  2. The Best Gift Students and Parents Can Give Teachers
In addition, here's three more lists from around the edu-blogosphere recently:
  1. Gifts for math lovers [from Math Mama Writes...]
  2. Top 20 Holiday Gifts for Teens [from Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology]
  3. Edutopia's 2009 Guide to Holiday Gifts for Teachers
I hope you can find something for your favorite teacher and/or student?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Video: 4 Episodes of "Dear Mr. DeRosa"

Besides writing here on I Want to Teach Forever, I also write a weekly advice column for Teach for America Corps Members and Alumni called "Dear Mr. DeRosa".

Back in November I started video blogging to answer reader questions, and while the original posts are on the members-only site, the videos are publicly available on YouTube.  You can view all of them on my YouTube channel.

I just posted today about whether it's a good idea to send students home with work over break:

There's three more "Dear Mr. DeRosa" videos, plus my "commercial" for 52 Teachers, 52 Lessons (which has now been without an entry for 4 straight weeks).  I'll post updates here when there's a new video so you can join in the fun.  In the meantime, you've got some catching up to do!

Mr. D's YouTube Channel

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Awesome Weekend Video #2: The Muppets do "Bohemian Rhapsody"

I think this is going to be a new weekly feature. Sometimes it will have to do with education, sometimes (like today) it won't.  I laughed the whole way through this, and I'm pretty sure you will too:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Five for Friday: Just One More Week (Give or Take a Week) Edition

  1. Chaos Reigned Supreme - Mrs. H recounts what happened when the forecast called for an amazing 1 inch of snow in temperate south Texas last week.
  2. Believing in Your Students - Awesome inspirational story from We CAN Fix Education about how simple gestures can be so powerful.
  3. Wolfram Alpha Teaches You Math, One Step at a Time - Lifehacker gives a great example of just how powerful the Wolfram Alpha engine is.  Who needs TI?
  4. Cardstock Geometry Puzzle (video) - Denise of Let's Play Math tracks down an interesting lesson idea.
  5. Technology and Your Local School: What to Donate and What NOT to Donate - Wired's GeekDad blog breaks things down at a perfect time for those getting into the spirit of the season.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Would You Buy For Your Classroom With $1000?

With the holiday season upon us, I think it's safe to assume that besides having a personal wish list, every teacher has a classroom wish list as well. Let's imagine that you've been given $1000 to spend solely on classroom materials.  What would you buy?

I'm really curious as to what items come to mind immediately--is it all technology?  Books?  Pencils, paper and other office supplies?  Furniture?  Or something else completely?

We can use the prices from Amazon's stores for Office Products & School Supplies, Books, and Electronics. If you've got something else in mind, a search from the home page should help you find it quickly.

Post your wish list, prices and links in the comments.  I think this is a good exercise for you to think about what you might do with grant money and a way to share great books, technology and other resources with educators who may not know about them.  Go forth and explore!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Free Access to Lesson Plans on Thru 1-18-2010

The holidays have come early for teachers!
The TeachHUB Holiday Lesson Plan Giveaway provides all TeachHUB members with unlimited access to an archive of 500+ lesson plans through January 18, 2010. All lesson plans are inspired by pop culture and news headlines, aligned to national teaching standards and are a great way to enhance existing curriculum. For more information and to access the archive of Pop Culture Lesson Plans, please visit

If you know of other great freebies and deals (or you're the one who's giving them away), please contact me so I can spread the word!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mr. D on Twitter!

I know I'm way behind the curve on this one, but I'm finally on Twitter.  I've noticed a steady stream of readers coming in from the site each day, but I haven't really been able to figure out who is linking here and why without an account there.  So if you're on Twitter, send me a message so we can get connected!

My username is teachforever09.

Follow teachforever09 on Twitter

Monday, December 7, 2009

Entries Needed for 52 Teachers, 52 Lessons

Unfortunately there's no entry for this week's 52 Teachers, 52 Lessons project yet again.  That's three straight weeks!

If you need motivation to get involved, check out the video I made called "5 + 2 Reasons to Contribute":

Read more about the project here, then email your entries to teachforever AT gmail DOT com.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Awesome Weekend Video: School of Rock

Friday, December 4, 2009

Five for Friday: Countdown to Winter Break Edition

It seems like only yesterday we were counting down to Thanksgiving!  Of course, Thanksgiving is like a sneak preview of the break we're really looking forward to: winter break!
  1. 40+ College Resources for Parents and Students - Personal finance blog Wise Bread offers a huge list of ways to save money and pay for college.
  2. 21st Century Educators Don’t Say, “Hand It In.” They say, “Publish It! - The Innovative Educator scores again with a guide on integrating technology into your lesson plans easily.
  3. It's Not The School, It's The Student - The Simple Dollar reflects on a study that says the college you go to ultimately doesn't make a difference in your future success.
  4. Guide to Online Schools' Top 200 Education Blogs - Featuring this blog among many others!
  5. Use Basic Fat Math to Lose Weight - Does this equation on Lifehacker really add up?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You Can Count on the Sequence Numbers Board Game

Sequence Numbers board game
The original Sequence Game is a classic mixing traditional cards, a board game, and a little bit of Connect Four.  I'm always looking at old school games for their possible classroom applications, but I didn't see where this one would be directly educational.  Recently, I learned about a new version of the game that you should definitely have in your elementary school classroom (and at home as well).

The Sequence Numbers Game allows students to practice addition and subtraction number facts in the context of an easy to learn game.  The game goes like this: each player/team has a handful of these number facts cards.  The game board, as you can see in the picture, has color-coded numbers that match the cards.  Each turn, you can put one of your chips on the answer to one of the cards in your hand.  The object is to get five chips in a row.

I've played this, and watched some students play it as well, and I think this would be a big hit with kids in grades 2-5.  It would make a great Christmas present for your favorite elementary teacher or student.

Buy Sequence at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Best of I Want to Teach Forever: November 2009

After years of writing mainly about middle and high school math, I've been excited to expand my horizons and write about elementary math, books, technology and other education-related topics over the past few months. With that in mind, here's my best work from November:

If you like this site, there are many easy ways to support it:
  1. Pick up my revised and updated book, Ten Cheap Lessons: Second Edition ($12 spiral-bound paperback, $5 digital).
  2. Contribute to 52 Teachers, 52 Lessons.
  3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or become a Follower (click Follow on the sidebar).
  4. Send in a guest post.
  5. Click the Share button below to add posts you like to StumbleUpon, Technorati and other social bookmarking sites (or share links on your own blog).
  6. Email me your ideas, questions and suggestions!
Thank you, as always, for participating! If you've only recently discovered the site, here's the most recent "best of" compilations:

Best of October 2009
Best of September 2009
Best of August 2009