15+ Teaching Ideas to Get You Excited about Teaching

15+ Teaching Ideas to Get You Excited About Teaching

Our classrooms are full of ones. Not hundreds not hundreds of thousands – – not millions — but there are millions of ONEs. Each child is unique. Each child is an individual. So are you teachers! We don't do all the things quite the same. We all need ideas for improvement, but the best ideas for me come from OTHER TEACHERs who are DOING IT RIGHT NOW. Here are ideas from classroom teachers to help you level up your classroom.

I read a great quote from Beth Moore that represents teachers so well:

You don't have to see eye to eye to be glad to be side by side.

Do you need some ideas for improvement?

It fits.  I want to share with you some fast, easy ideas to make your classroom more excellent. For each of these ideas, I'm linking to a show that will help you learn more.

Which show? Well, many of you may not know but I do a bi-weekly (and sometimes more) show on BAM Radio called “Every Classroom Matters” and I'm celebrating 100 episodes this week!!!

The shows are a short 10 minutes. The focus is great education wherever it is happening: K12, highered, homeschool, virtual school, professional development. Learners of all ages in every country. Excellent teaching and trends – wherever they happen — are the focus (thus the name Every Classroom Matters.)

I want you to be encouraged and hopeful! Let's get some ideas from each other. Here are 15 ideas and shows (and videos) to go with them.

Teaching Idea 1. Let Your Students Make Apps

Kennedy and her teacher Marsha Harris. Kennedy made an app to help other kids learn French and about France.

Kennedy (a fifth grade student) and her teacher Marsha Harris, @marshamac74 did this at their school in Atlanta, GA using Crescerance(I'm going to be doing this too at my school. We'll start in October!)

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #93 “Students and Teachers Experimenting with Creating Apps [/callout]

Teaching Idea 2. Encourage Your School to Start Prototyping

Scot Hoffman at the American School of Bombay in India is leading the school's R&D department.

How do you innovate when you've “always done it this way?” The American School of Bombay has a fascinating approach: have an R&D department. If you don't know “R&D” stands for “Research and Development.” Companies who spend money on R&D will be innovators in 3-5 years. The intentionally research and develop products for their company. This can apply to our classrooms too. Learn about ASB's R&D department and some of the improvements that they've made with teachers. Apply this by experimenting and protyping teaching methods in your classroom.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #92 R&D: Identifying the Next Best Teaching Practices [/callout]

Teaching Idea 3. Encourage your Special Needs Kids to Make Videos

Two guests — one father and one award winning teacher — both found that videos are an excellent way to bring special needs kids into the larger classroom. Gary Dietz and John Lozano

 John Lozano and His Student Michael

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #73 with teacher John Lozano: Using How Do We Help Other Kids and Adults Understand Autism?  [/callout]

A Father Finds Videos Help His Son Give a Winning Report

Father Gary Dietz shares some stories about working with his son in the classroom. Dads of special needs kids will particularly love his heartwarming book, Dads of Disability(Read his post 5 practical lessons for elementary classroom inclusion about the impact that inclusion has on all kids in the classroom.)

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #91 with father Gary Dietz (author of Dads of Disability) : Understanding the Anxieties Around Educating Special Needs Kids  [/callout]

Teaching Idea 4. Consider the In-Flip Model of Learning if the Flipped Classroom Isn't Doable for You

The flipped classroom isn't doable for everyone — not all places have good Internet or computers at home for the kids. The in-flip model is one that every teacher can use. I love this model of teaching as I use Haiku Learning and prepare videos of the detailed work we'll be doing. Learn more about how Flipped learning is moving forward and about the in-flip from Flipped Classroom pioneer Jon Bergmann. (Recorded at ISTE 2014.)

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #90 with Jon Bergmann: Preparing Your Students for Flipped Learning [/callout]

Teaching Idea 5. Join Some Global Collaborative Projects This Year

Global collaboration is vitally important for every 21st century classroom. Whether you're using Mystery Location calls or learning about rhinos in South Africa, this is something you can do.  Here are several ideas for you.

(If you've read the book I coauthored Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds – you'll know that I co-developed a model for how to integrate global collaboration into your classroom and still meet standards. I still believe this book is THE definitive guidebook for global collaboration in education – I haven't read anything that comes close to the how-to. Yes, I'm biased. ;-))

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #89 with Toni Olivieri-Barton Getting Your Students Involved in Global Partnerships [/callout]

My students have signed up again for the AIC Conflict Simulation run by Dr. Jeff Stanzler at the University of Michigan and we start next week. This awesome program teaches the Arab Israeli Conflict like nothing you've ever seen.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #74 with Dr. Jeff Stanzler How Simulation Games Can Teach Complex Subjects [/callout]

Some challenges are hands on and use social media. This transformative project teaches about water poverty in a safe but powerful way.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #64 The 4 Liter Challenge: Teaching Students ABout Water Poverty [/callout]

Karen Stadler from South Africa won ISTE's Online Learning Award for this one. This is a great example of a project that a teacher has created that is making a difference.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #56 The Rhino Project: Teaching Social Consciousness.[/callout]

Students are connecting with Olympic Champions. Even if you don't get in the program, the videos are free for all of us to use. They are a gold mine of grit, determination and powerful stories!

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters with Steve Mesler and teacher Julieann Cappuccino about Classroom Champions: How Students are Learning Critical Skills from the Best in the World [/callout]

Teaching Idea 6. Learn the Tricks and Hacks for Google

Susan Oxnevad gives an awesome overview of 12 great tools to use with Google Drive. (If you're into this, you might also want to read my 15 top Google Add-Ons)

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #77 12 Great Ways to Use Google Drive [/callout]

Teaching Idea 7. Consider Gamification and How You're going to Gamify Your Classroom

Cat Flippen (yes that is her very cool name) is researching games in the classroom and what they are (and are not). You'll find yourself motivaed to use games with her work.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #86 Serious Games: Rethinking Gamification in Education  [/callout]

Watch this video that we recorded part of the Gamifi-ed OOC this past February with teacher Michael Matera who has gamified his entire history course. He has awesome ideas.

Speaking of Gamifi-ed – this past school year some higher ed educators and I combined our classrooms to study games. (We'll be at it again in February if you're interested.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #51 Gamification: What Does it Take to Create Games that Actually Result in Learning with Verena Roberts, Dr. Lee Graham, and Colin Osterhout [/callout]

Teaching Idea 8. Watch Videos of Best Practices and Share Them with Your PLC

Bob Greenberg is using his retirement to travel the country and record videos with leading thought leaders. The Brainwaves YouTube channel is must watch and share. These resources are fantastic snippets to use and discuss in any group seeking to improve education. Hear the back story behind what he's doing. (It will make you love Bob and his noble quest even more.) Sir Ken Robinson and Chris Dede are among his newest interviewees.

This is a perfect example of learning to use the subscription feature in YouTube — so you can keep up with a channel like this!

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #85 Capturing the Best Teaching Practices and Leaving a Legacy[/callout]

Teaching Idea 9. Dress Up and Hook Students

Elementary teacher Jeromie Heath has a costume closet! Great teachers remember that they are the most important asset they have in the classroom. When we dress up — kids take notice. (I also gave some clues into my own “Zombie Test Prep” example.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #84 Making Learning Fun: Engaging Students With Imagination [/callout]

Dave Burgess and his book Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator totally rocked my classroom when I read them during the summer of 2013. Every teacher should listen to this show and buy his book!

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #20 Teach Like a Pirate: Grabbing and Keeping Your Student’s Attention with Dave Burgess[/callout]

Teaching Idea 10. Encourage Students to Read a Renegade eBook

Twenty something's Seth and Chandler Bolt (one of them is a rock star – literally) have written  a fantastic ebook for teens: Breaking Out Of A Broken System. The back story and how they are using the proceeds to help those in poverty is even better. This is a refreshing look at success and education by two brothers breaking the rules and suceeding anyway. I loved it.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #83 Learning for Life Versus Learning for Grades, College or Career with Chandler Bolt[/callout]

Teaching Idea 11. Make Sure Young Children Use Technology in Age Appropriate Ways

Author Karen Nelson is a PreK teacher integrating technology. She uses so many ways to positively connect kids and keep balance.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #82 Generation C: When Very Young Children Are Connected to Technology [/callout]

Karen didn't know this but her work lines up with the research from Patti Wolman Summers' book about using iPads with kids under 4.

[callout]  Listen to #ecmatters Show #55: Toddlers on Technology: Touch Screens, Picking Apps for Young Kids and Setting Limits  [/callout]

These two listens would make great discussions for elementary age teachers in staff meetings and PD.

Teaching Idea 12. Make Sure Your Body Language is Positive

Matthew Kohut, author of Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential, shares about body language and the subtle cues that can help you be a better educator. Plus, don't miss the must-know body language tricks for speech coaches that you've probably never heard before!

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show with Matthew Kohut #81 Hidden Social Qualities of Effective Educators [/callout]

Teaching Idea 13. Write in Powerful New Ways

As those of you who read my blog know, I'm wildly intrigued by how writing is reinvented (thus my book Reinventing Writing). Linda Yollis is a classroom blogger-guru and has powerful ways for her students to connect.

[callout] Listen to  #ecmatters show #49 Trial and Error: 3 Strategies for Building an Authentic Audience for Your Student’s Work with Linda Yollis [/callout]

First grade teacher and award winner Karen Lirenman uses Twitter in her classroom. You can do this too!

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #10 Savvy Use of Edtech in Early Ed Classrooms with Karen Lirenman[/callout]

Annice Brave, 2012 Illinois Teacher of the Year uses Google Docs to co-plan with her fellow teacher Jeff Hudson. She also talks about journalism and AP Scores.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #27 Reinventing Your Classroom [/callout]

Teaching Idea 14. How to Have Great Test Scores and Focus on Learning

Superintendent Pam Moran has an epic interview where she shares the philosophy that has led her district to test less and score better. This is a must listen and share share with your superintendents and principals who say it can't be done.

[callout] Listen to #ecmatters show #69 The Proper Role of Testing with Pam Moran [/callout]

Teaching Idea 15. Find Your Own Passion

I wish I had time to list every single show but it is now 7:05 and if I don't get dressed, I'll be late for school.

As of this moment there are 100 show episodes listed on the Every Classroom Matters page! Look at the page and find one that interests you and what you're trying to do right now.

Shine the Light on Great Teaching Everywhere

This show is my own effort to shine a light upon everyday educators. Every day educators are AMAZING. Let's celebrate teaching and learning wherever it is. I hope these short 10 minute shows help you get energized and excited about all the things you can do in your classroom. And remember.

Every Classroom Matters — YOUR classroom matters. Level up a little every day.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Andrea Leyden September 16, 2014 - 7:30 am

There’s some really useful action points here for teachers who want to give their classroom that special oopmh, great post Vicki. I just published another idea/activity for teachers over on the ExamTime blog. It encourages teachers to ask students questions at the start of the school year to create an open and lively atmosphere. It’s the perfect way to start the school year on the right track and with the right attitude. You can read the full post here:


Brent Warner September 16, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Thanks for the resources again, Vicki! I think you’ve just filled up my week with more content to consume. I love that you’re mixing it up with some kind of “off the grid” ideas like Body Language as well. When I was in Admin I would always tell my teachers to be careful about how they’re communicating non-verbally. The ones who needed to hear it, unfortunately, didn’t believe in that “mumbo jumbo” *sigh*… I kept pushing forward though, and some started to see the changes!

Alicia September 18, 2014 - 1:53 pm

Love that quote from Beth Moore! These are great ideas. I wish in my area there was a little more freedom to “shake things up” like this without going renegade. ;)

Vicki Davis September 18, 2014 - 6:38 pm

That is a tough one Alicia. Do what you can and move forward a little every day!

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
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