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August 4, 2010 Setting the Stage for a New School Year By Brent Vasicek
Grades 3–5

    Setting the Stage

    It's almost show-time. In a month, students will arrive at Studio 24, otherwise known as my classroom, and there is much to be done beforehand. This month my posts will focus on how to have a great beginning to the school year. For me, it starts with picking a good theme. This year we are actors earning our Academy Awards in our entertainment-themed room.

    New Challenges

    The 2010-2011 school year will be a unique one for me because I am teaching a 4th and 5th grade blended class. The hardships associated with the economy have affected our Michigan schools greatly. One solution to save money is to maximize the use of seats in each classroom. Miami Elementary has about 400 students with about three teachers at each grade level. The fourth and fifth grade numbers were such that combining two grades in one class allowed the cost savings of one teacher. Stay tuned to find out how one teacher can juggle both grade levels at the same time.

    Using My Past

    Because of my medical background (see my intro post for details), I love learning about how the brain works, and I will attend virtually any seminar that talks about practical ways to apply brain research to the classroom. Look for brain friendly tips sprinkled throughout my posts this year. I also love summer camp, so early on I figured, why not merge the fun of camp with the rigors of learning to create our own mini-Disneyland? Judging by my students’ genuine sadness when "Disneyland" closes on the last day of school, this approach to teaching really seems to work.

    While many people thought I was insane to leave medicine to become a teacher -- and work twice as many hours for half the pay -- I have found the decision to be the best one I have ever made. Much of my success with students comes from being committed to my philosophy of teaching and to staying focused on the students. In the coming months, I will show how you, too, can create a great learning community in the classroom.

    What's in Store

    Brain tips, building rapport, creating the environment, differentiated instruction, team building, technology, and more. You will find it all here over the next nine months.  What topics would you like to see covered? Let me know in the comments section below. Together we're sure to have a good run this year.

    Break a leg —

    Director Vasicek


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