Erika Romero

a student and teacher of children's and young adult literature

Category: Teaching Tools/Resources

5 Great Places to Find Inspiration for Class Assignments

Creating innovative classroom assignments can be a struggle when trying to balance all your other responsibilities. It can be easier just to rely on your old faithful assignments, rather than consider how to enliven your syllabus with new assignments that might better engage your students. Today’s post provides a lists of places where you can quickly find inspiration for classroom assignments. It also provides specific examples of my own assignments that have received good results from my students. If you’re looking for new ways to find classroom assignment inspiration, definitely check out this list of five resources.

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23 Teaching Reflection Questions for a College Instructor

The fall semester has come to an end. I have a few more projects left to grade before I can fully move on to the break. If you’re overwhelmed by all the last-minute semester responsibilities you have, you might find this self-care post helpful. But, once you’re done with your work this semester, I recommend taking some time to go through a teaching reflection process for these past few months. With it being fall semester, the end of the semester coincides with the end of another year. Self-reflection and goal setting tend to be common pastimes during this time of year. For this blog post, I’ve created a Google Slides presentation with a list of questions that can help you end the semester on an introspective note. And, these questions can help provide a foundation for your spring semester lesson planning.

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Top 5 Online Resources for Teachers

I focused last week’s post on the top tool all college instructors should be using in their learning management system (LMS). In today’s post, I broaden my advice to some amazing resources I’ve come across while searching online for ways to improve my courses. My list doesn’t focus on online tools like Trello or Kahoot, but rather websites with plenty to offer teachers who want to create innovative and engaging course content. If you’re interested in learning more about useful tools rather than online resources, here are a few blog posts I’ve written that are all about that topic (post 1, post 2). Once you check out those, though, I still recommend giving this post a read, as well! Here’s a teaser: there’s a huge catalog of college courses with all their materials listed just waiting for you to explore…

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The BEST Tool in Your Learning Management System (LMS)

 

As a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), I’m a big believer in taking advantage of the university tools available to me as an instructor. I’ve never taught a fully online course, for example, but I’ve always used my university’s learning management system (LMS) when designing my courses and lesson plans. At ISU, we use “ReggieNet” (our mascot is Reggie Redbird), which is a version of the Sakai LMS.  Of course, I don’t use every LMS tool possible, as there are over a dozen and not all are necessary for the types of content I teach. I also believe you should only use a tool if it’s actually beneficial to the teaching/learning experience, rather than just because it’s available or the cool, new thing-to-do. I use my course website every day that I teach, even if I’m not in a computer lab classroom. In today’s post, I share the one tool I feel every instructor should use if they have access to a LMS at their college/university. To find out what it is, just keep reading…

 

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Keep Organized: The Top 5 Benefits of a Teaching Journal

 

In my last post, I described the eight steps I’m taking to organize all my teaching, research, and service digital files. Today, I’m narrowing down my organization advice to teaching responsibilities. Since I began my teaching assistantship as ISU, I’ve kept a teaching journal every semester. My teaching journal isn’t for writing down my feelings about teaching, though that’s one type of writing you can do in it if you want. For me, I use a teaching journal to keep track of my classes each semester. My lesson planning, class notes, and schedule information are all written out in my journal. In today’s post, I’m describing my top five benefits of keeping a teaching journal. If you’re new to teaching or feel frazzled rather than organized when it comes to keeping your teaching responsibilities in check, this post is for you. If you just want more general teaching advice, I suggest checking out this post.

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3 Digital Notebooks for the Tech-Loving Writer

 

I moved up the post scheduled for today to last Monday because I wanted to give new college instructors at least a week to integrate my top ten teaching tips. Today, I’ll keep things brief by going over some basic details about the three digital notebooks I’ve created for any of my website’s visitors. The hyperlinked PDFs are all available on my “Create” page, or you can grab them all here: vertical one, vertical two, and horizontal. They work in a similar manner as my digital academic planners, so you can find tips on using a hyperlinked PDF here and here. If you’re already familiar with using hyperlinked PDFs in annotation apps like GoodNotes, I hope you find these notebooks useful! [They’ll work on desktop PDF annotator apps, but the portability advantage of these notebooks is limited to those with access to tablets/iPads, or perhaps a smartphone).] If you’d like a few basic tips before getting started, though, keep on reading this post.

Digital Notebook - Erika Romero

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Top 5 Productivity Apps for Teachers, Students, and Writers (Trello Templates Included)

 

Using digital tools to help with productivity isn’t a new concept, of course, as there are dozens if not hundreds of websites and apps designed for this specific purpose. [Many pins on this topic can be found here.] Because there are so many options out there, though, it can be hard to know which ones are even worth trying out to see if they work well with your particular ways of planning projects, building habits, and/or going through the writing process. In this post, I describe my top productivity apps, a few of which I rarely hear mentioned among my peers, friends, and family. While most of the apps listed are made to be completely customized by the individual using it, Trello’s collaborative nature inspired me to create templates of the Fall 2018 semester to share with any teachers or students reading this post. Keep in mind that I use Apple products, so some of these apps might not work with non-Apple devices.

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Pinterest Tips: Using Pinterest Boards as Resource Archives

 

Pinterest is a visual search engine first, and a social media website second. Yes, you can follow people and/or their boards on Pinterest, but that’s not a vital element of the site like it is with sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Rather, in my opinion, Pinterest is a great search engine to use when you’re looking for resources on topics that interest you, and you want to see dozens of options instantly rather than having to scroll through Google or Bing, reading each listed link one by one. The visual nature of Pinterest is really appealing to me (and many others), and the organizational element of Pinterest boards makes archiving the resources you find and/or create extremely user-friendly. In today’s post, I offer a few tips for using Pinterest boards and go through my main Pinterest boards in case you’re looking for resources connected to the topics that I focus on in this blog.

 

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Planning for the New Academic Year? Try Out A Free Digital Academic Planner [Hyperlinked PDFs Included]

 

I started using a paper planner almost two years ago, and I’m still finding writing out my plans, goals, and habits to be very useful and calming. Recently, though, I came across a niche in the planner community: digital planners. These planners are basically hyperlinked PDFs that mimic the look of a paper planner. With PDF annotation apps like Good Notes, though, these digital planners can be customized to an incredible extent, all without using any papers, pens, markers, post-it notes, washi tape, stickers, etc. Of course, this form of planning assumes you have a digital tool like an iPad or tablet, so it’s not exactly the most accessible option. I’ve found experimenting with digital planning to be a very fun, creative pastime, so I’ve created my own version that I want to share with anyone who’s reading this post. As I’m assuming that most of my blog’s audience are teachers or students, and as most academic planners start in July, I’ve decided to focus my blog posts this month on prepping for using a digital academic planner for the next school year. Or, really, since it’s just a PDF that you can download as many times as you want, digital planners like the one I’ve made can be used over and over again (as long as you have the space on your device).

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