Last Day of School: Write a Letter to Your Future Self

The end of the school year typically blows by in a blur of exams. I’m often left wishing I had done more to get my students reflecting on the year. Not this year! This year, I am going to have my students write themselves a letter to be delivered in the future.

Instead of collecting stacks of paper letters in envelopes to put in the snail mail years after my students have left my class, I am going to use Remind2Me to get my students reflecting on the year, articulating what is important in their lives, and setting goals for the future.

Remind2Me - Next Blog

 

Students simply go to Remind2Me and give their letter a title and begin writing. Then they can decide on a delivery date. Do they want their letters to be delivered at the end of summer, during their senior year, or after they’ve graduated? Students can decide when they want to receive their letters!

This is a fantastic way to build in reflection at the end of the school year! Plus, their future selves may just benefit from hearing their current thoughts, dreams, frustrations, and goals. Life goes by so quickly. It’s easy to lose track of what we really want to achieve. Maybe a letter written to our future selves is the best way to stay focused on what is truly important in life.

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Gmail: Undo a Sent Email

Are you using Gmail with students, parents, or co-workers? If so, it’s helpful to know how to undo a sent email. This is an easy tip that allows you to “take back” an email even after you click “Send.”

We’ve all experienced the sinking feeling of sending an email that has a mistake in it. As an English teacher, I feel immense pressure to make sure my messages are as close to perfect as possible. In an earlier blog, I mentioned using Grammarly to minimize errors, but there is nothing quite like a “take back” when it comes to emails!

Here is how you set it up:

1. Log into your Gmail and click the cog symbol in the upper right-hand corner of your screen then select “Settings.”

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2. Once you are in your settings, click “Labs” and scroll down until you see “Undo Send.”

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3. Click “Enable” Undo Send and “Save Changes.”

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Now when you send an email using Gmail, you will see the yellow message box at the top of your screen that reads “Your email has been sent.” Next to this message box, you’ll see you have a new “Undo” option. Default settings will give you 10 seconds to undo a sent message.

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Need more than 10 seconds? You can change the default setting by clicking on the cog symbol in the right-hand corner of your Gmail, select “Settings” and view the “General” settings page. Scroll down until you see “Undo send” then you can select up to 30 seconds before the “Undo” option will disappear.

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Teachers looking for more on Google should check out the following blogs:

Interested in  technology tips to help you teach the Common Core? My book Creatively Teach the Common Core Literacy Standards with Technology will be published in June 2015 by Corwin. Just in time for summer reading!

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Shakespeare Soundtrack Project

In my last blog post “Don’t Just Read Shakespeare, Perform It!”, I encouraged other teachers to have students perform Shakespeare’s plays instead of simply reading them. I want students to enjoy Shakespeare, but I also want them to think about why the situations, themes, and characters in his plays have remained popular for hundreds of years.

Since we perform the play in class, students don’t have reading for homework. Instead, they complete an ongoing Shakespeare Soundtrack Project. Each night they take the scenes we’ve performed in class and pair each scene with a song. They have to write a paragraph analyzing how the song fits the scene. I encourage them to think about the following questions:

  • Is there a theme present in the song that is also developed in the scene?
  • Does the song describe a person who reminds you of a character in the scene?
  • Are the emotions in that particular song reminiscent of the emotional state of the characters in the scene?
  • Does the song mirror the action in the scene?
  • Does the pacing of the song match the pacing in the scene?

Students must include quotes from both the play and the song (if there are lyrics) to support their analysis of how the song fits the scene. Instead of collecting their soundtracks on paper, I use my Schoology site and students post their analytical paragraphs to a shared discussion thread. This makes the activity more social and exciting because they can read and comment on each other’s song choices.

Below is a screenshot of our soundtrack project for the Prologue in Romeo and Juliet.

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Most students love music, which makes this project a fun challenge for them. I love that they are analyzing the play and supporting their statements with textual evidence. It’s a win-win!

Click here to view a Google document with a description of the project and some fun extra-credit ideas. If you have a Gmail address, simply log into your account then click “File” at the top of this document. Select “Make a copy” and it will automatically save in your Google Drive.

Interested in  technology tips to help you teach the Common Core? My book Creatively Teach the Common Core Literacy Standards with Technology will be published in June 2015 by Corwin. Just in time for summer reading!

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