Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Giving Back

The holiday season is always a great time to give back!  I've been donating 10% of my monthly profits from TpT for a few months now but on December 14th a bunch of other sellers are doing the same thing!  Shop these awesome stores and give back with your purchases.  Buy whatever you need for after break!



Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Traditions!

Hi guys!  Happy Holidays!  Now that Thanksgiving is over I'm allowing myself to start thinking about Christmas!

I decided to participate in a Holiday Blog Hop!



One holiday tradition that my family had for years, and is perfect for English teachers is reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson!
This is a hilarious story about a family of terribly behaved children and their participation in a local church's Christmas Pageant.  It's a quick read and very entertaining.  We'd read about a chapter a night for the week leading up to Christmas.

We also pass around olplatki which is a Polish word for "Christmas Wafer."  It is just an unleavened wafer--similar to host at mass.  The way our family interpreted the tradition is starting with the eldest member of the family you'd break off a piece and pass it to someone giving them a wish for the upcoming year.  If you wanted you could break off more than one piece and give it to several people.  I always liked this tradition because it was quiet and a nice way to spread some good will.

My family loves Christmas and is super goofy.  Enjoy these flashback photos!  Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season!

Getting our Christmas Tree circa late 90s. That's me in the pink pants!

Celebrating with family circa early 1990s.  I'm sitting on my dad's lap with my cousin.  I'm the one behind the little boy (my brother).  

Peace, Love, and Happiness to you all!



Check out all the other posts HERE.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Link Ups!

I'm participating in two Link Ups today!

First, I joined the Sunday Secondary Link Up! Check out this link party every Sunday for great products and resources from sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Secondly, I am participating in the Sunday Scoop!  
Here's mine:
Check out every one who linked up here:

What are you up to this Sunday?



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Celebrating the Season in the Secondary Classroom: Fall/Halloween Edition

I love holidays. I love parties and celebrations.  However, I am very aware that not everyone celebrates the same holidays that I do, and while in my dream world we'd celebrate every holidays possible from every culture that perhaps is unrealistic.  I also feel that secondary students do not get to have enough fun!  Sometimes we completely ignore the seasons and holidays as they come when teaching in middle and high schools.

Traditionally, at the middle and high school level, I've used October to celebrate fall and the spookiness of Halloween, without specifically referencing the holiday.  I've done this in a few different ways throughout the years.



1.  I have done a short story unit using Poe's stories, "The Black Cat," "The Tell-Tale Heart, "The Cask of Amontillado" and other stories by various author's such as "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and "Rip Van Winkle."  I let students choose which story and had them complete different activities regarding them.

2.  I have taught narrative writing and had students write scary stories.  I tell them they can get as creepy and scary as they want but they can't include guns.  I've let some students read them out loud with electronic candles lighting the room close to the holiday if they so choose.

Need some great resources for teaching creative narratives and or non-fiction personal narratives?  Check out my huge narrative writing pack!




3.  I've used Edgar Allen Poe's poems "Spirits of the Dead" and "The Raven."  I love having the students watch the Simpson's version of "The Raven" because James Earl Jones reads it so well!

Want to have your students work on examining two texts with similar topics?  Check out this set of handouts I created:

A great interactive activity for the days leading up to Halloween can be my task cards for "The Raven!" Get students up and out of their seats or just have them engage with the poem in a new way!




4.  As a nod to the season I have students read and discuss "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.   I think it's message is very important to the middle and high school age range.

Need a quick handout to help students examine this poem?  Try this:




How do you engage your older students in the seasons?

Thanks for reading!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet and Greet with Secondary Sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers

Did you know that Teachers Pay Teachers has resources for teachers of all levels and all subjects?  The secondary community is growing on the site and I hope that you've checked it out.  But, just in case you haven't I want you to know that: 

The very talented Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, and Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy from Teachers Pay Teachers have compiled 3 FREE Meet and Teach e-books profiling SECONDARY teacher-authors and sharing print-and-teach resources from 25 TpT stores in each e-book.  The e-books center around ELA, Math & Science, and Humanities (Social Studies, Art, Foreign Language, and more ELA).  In them you'll find a 'meet' page completed by each seller that includes responses to 5 prompts.  You'll get to learn a bit about each seller like their favorite book or things that make them happy.  Then, each seller provided you with a 1-page resource that you can use in your classroom tomorrow.  These e-books are filled with awesome teachers, little insights into each sellers' life, and resources that are easy to implement in your classroom.  They're pretty amazing.  Of course, you don't have to take my word for it, you can find them here:


Download each free e-book and you'll get a chance to meet and teach resources from these teacher-authors: 



An InLinkz Link-up


Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Quest for Organization: My Lesson Plan Book

I've written before about the challenges of preparing for a semester of teaching at the college level.  Deciding what topic to cover and what readings to assign for every single class meeting of a 10, 14, or 16 week course is challenging.  It took a few tries, but I've finally come up with a system that works well for me.

First, I decide what papers my students are going to write and approximately how long I want to spend on each of those units.  I always make sure my weeks add up to the appropriate number for that semester.  I assign each unit several chapters from the book that I think will correspond with the learning objectives.

Secondly, I take a blank notebook.  70 pages is more than enough.  I then use different color post-it notes to mark the days of my classes.  Thus far I've been lucky that they are all on the same days of the week.  I put my earliest class at the top of the page.  Each day the class meets gets its own post-it note.  Now I can start filling in starting with Day 1.





I almost always start with a syllabus review, diagnostic writing assignment, and a presentation on the rhetorical situation.  Depending on whether or not it is a 50 minute, 75 minute, or 90 minute session I may also add a syllabus quiz, or take away the presentation.  I slowly fill in which chapter or topic I want to cover each session, which journal entry the class will be doing, and any major due dates.  I try to mark due dates with a different colored post-it so I can try to keep papers due on different days for different classes.  This helps a lot when it comes to grading!

Why do I use post its?  There are several reasons:
1.  They are colorful
2.  I can remove them easily if I really mess up.
3.  If I really wanted to I could reuse them for the next semester by moving them onto a different date.

This method is extremely useful to me.  Now, when I am preparing for a class or the week I open to that week in particular and can see quickly what I want to cover.  I can then fill in details about in-class activities and homework as I see fit.  It has really helped me stay organized.  If I change something I can easily write it in so I can look back to it for future classes.

How do you keep organized?  Does it come naturally to you or do you struggle with it?

*I am not affiliated with National Heritage Academies, I just had their post it notes.*

Thanks for reading!



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Assessing Writing: The Diagnostic Essay

When teaching writing you really never know what you're going to get.  This is true at any level!  Depending on a student's background and his or her general aptitude for the subject you can have many different levels of capability within your classroom.  So how can a teacher figure out what to tackle first?  Do you tackle specific grammar issues?  Organization?  Responding to a prompt?

I like to have my students write a diagnostic essay the first day or two of class.  This is an ungraded assignment that they complete in class.  This way I know it is truly what they know and not what their parents, sibling, or friend knows.  I keep the prompts generic- and typically have my students respond to a famous quote.

I don't include a length requirement but do use the term "essay."  It is always interesting to me to see how much a student chooses to write.  I find these essays quite informative.

For teachers in the 7-12 realm, you may want to be able to follow up for data purposes and give a similar prompt around winter break and another at the end of the year.

Would you be interested in a ready made set of 5 diagnostic essay prompts with lined paper?  I created a set on Teachers Pay Teachers- with 5 prompts you can choose to give multiple ones to one class, use different ones different times during the year, or give each class period a different one (I know reading the same thing over and over can get boring!).  It's really a steal and can be printed or projected easily!  I also provided a checklist that can be used for simple scoring.


Thanks for Reading!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Grade Smarter

Grading.  Especially as an English teacher, that word sends CHILLS down my spine.  What I love about teaching is interacting with the students, presenting information, and getting creative.  I do not like assigning grades and pouring over a hundred versions of essentially the same essay.  I find it tedious.

I have attended several professional development sessions on assessment and I have taken classes in curriculum design.  The common theme deals with figuring out what you're trying to assess and to make sure your assessment focuses on that.  

I think, as English teachers, we often try to assess EVERYTHING all at the same time and that is what causes us to take so long and to get so frustrated.  Because of this I am currently experimenting with a few different grading techniques.  

The first, is color coded grading.  I had all of my students in my college class turn in their persuasive papers in via email.  They had to color code their papers.  I was specifically looking for persuasive techniques: Kairos, Ethos, Logos, and Pathos.  I required them to highlight each of those items.  I also wanted to make sure they had a strong thesis statement so I had them highlight that in another color.  

This allows for a couple of things to happen.

1.  Students, before turning in an assignment are forced to go through it one more time and see if they've included all the necessary elements.  If they haven't they can quickly fix it!  Ideally this means we are getting stronger papers overall.

2.  Teachers can quickly find all the elements that specifically need to be graded.  And, more importantly can see if the students understand what these elements mean.  Was the sentence they identified as a thesis statement truly a thesis statement?

Here's my process with this technique.

I read the whole paper and focus on the grammar for the first two paragraphs.   Then, I go to fill in my rubric (I always use a specific rubric with point values for this technique) and revisit each section.  I write my comments and move on.  

Because the submissions were made via files online I was able to type comments right in which, for me, is much faster.  

I have a few other Grade Smarter ideas that I will be posting about soon.  

What about you?  What are your grading tricks?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Teaching Online Check In

One thing I've come to realize during my stint teaching online is that I have to be very very explicit.  I think I forgot that I am not verbally presenting the assignments to the class which is where I often clarify what I want and answer lots of questions.  Most of my students seem to be understanding what I am asking for, but there have been a few points of confusion.  Now I'm brainstorming how to make this better...

1.  Write a lot more directions.  But I'm worried students just skim or focus on the wrong parts.
2.  Record myself giving the directions.  But I'm worried students won't bother watching.  It's also time consuming.
3... I dunno I'm stuck.

How do you suggest clarifying directions online?

Thanks for stopping in!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Summertime

For most of us summer is officially here!  And we, as teachers know, really deserve the break.  Anyone else wish people understood that we do 12 months of work in 9-10? I don't know about you but when I get to the last day of school I truly need the break or I'd snap!  

That said, after a few weeks I sometimes get a little bored.  I've found that I don't have that many teacher friends who live near me to hang out with.  There's also the problem that a lot of the things that I think of to do cost MONEY.  I spend way more in the summer than during the school year.  It's terrible.

This summer however, I am teaching my one online class and will be working on beefing up my teachers pay teachers store.  I am also traveling, attending professional development, and planning for my fall courses.   

What do you do in the summer to keep yourself from going crazy?  What are your plans for this summer in particular?  Anything you're dying to see in my teachers pay teachers store?


And don't forget, if you too want to start your own business sign up for your own store!  The summer is the perfect time to build your store so it's ready for the back to school rush come August!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Let's Have a Feast

I know we're gearing down for the summer, but if you're like me you're still looking ahead for the fall.  Here's an idea that could really take off especially with a little summer prep work.  Host a feast!  I wrote about this for the collaborative blog Cross Curricular Corner awhile back.  Check out a preview of the post here:



I love doing projects with students. I think that project based learning is the best type of learning. A few years back I had the opportunity to work with a group of seniors in high school and I really wanted them to conduct research. I knew however, that in order to get them to buy in and do their best, I would have to do something new and different.
At the time they were studying the Medieval time period of British Literature. I had each class for an hour and a half and decided to go big or go home. So, I created a Medieval Feast whole class project. I had students divide up into groups or pairs for categories such as food, music, knights, king/queen, and fashion. They then had to conduct research on their topic and prepare something to share with the class on feast day. Each student independently was required to write up a page report on what they learned, and then as a group they could work on the feast presentation.
medevial



Want the rest of the post?  Check it out at Cross Curricular Corner!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

FLASH FREEBIE: Trivia Style Review Game!

Have you ever played trivia at your local watering hole?  I love it!  I think kids would get into the fun team oriented atmosphere (minus the drinks) as well so I created this product.  Just add your review questions and you're ready to go.  Maybe this would be a great way to spend a day or two reviewing at the end of the year!

Free for the first 10 people to download it.  Guess what blog followers, you get the first notification!

Click on the image to download the freebie.  Make sure to follow my store to get immediate updates of all new products!  (TPT account required.)

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rubrics- What is best?

I'm having an internal debate about rubrics.  On one hand I love them.  I find the process of assessing writing difficult.  I find that it can be easy to be subjective when grading and I want to make sure I'm being fair.  I have a few types of rubrics I use but for all of them I try to be very specific about what a student needs to do.

Recently however, I was attending some professional development meetings and one of my colleagues was stating that she feels rubrics cause students to play a numbers game to figure out what they can get away with to get a passing grade instead of always aiming for an A.  She also said that she thinks some students think that writing is just a formula when writing from a rubric.  I think both of these are quite plausible.

So where's the middle ground?  I'm thinking that I might try a more general rubric.  There will be a list of requirements that match the objectives for the course, and then I will make sure to leave very specific feedback that explains exactly why I am giving a certain grade.  Perhaps this is what I will do for the summer courses I'm teaching and see if I notice any major differences in the students' work and their satisfaction with the course.


Rubrics- where do you stand on the issue?  How do you set up your rubrics?

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Teaching Wins!

Ever feel like you're "winning" the teaching game?  It doesn't happen all the time.  In fact sometimes it feels like I'm "losing."  But today, I had a win.

Here's a little backstory.  I decided for the second half of the term to give my students my cell phone number with some strict parameters so they can contact me with easy to answer questions.  It has gone perfectly!  I was nervous but I'm glad I did it.

Today, I gave my students the poem, "I like to see it lap the miles" by Dickinson along with questions (one of my products) and explained that for homework they were to complete the sheet.  I also explained that this poem is a riddle with an unknown "it" being discussed.  I challenged them to figure out what "it" was explaining that there are really two possibilities.

Now, here's the WIN...

A few hours later my phone buzzes and I see a text from a student, it says, "The poem you gave us to do.  Just simply cancel out some sentences, connect others that actually make sense and you'll see she is referring to a loud truck or train or something.  Not as hard as I thought."

Not only did he get it right (or at least one of the two options) but he took the time to already do the assignment and to message me about it!  I also thought it was interesting how he explained how he went about it.  It really made me happy.

Lots of other things are going well right now teaching wise too... got some teaching assignments for the summer, attended some awesome professional development meetings (no sarcasm), and have received some really interesting literacy narratives and memoir essays from my one class.


How has your teaching been going?

Thanks for checking in,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Going Digital

One of my classes that just started up is a blended course.  50% of the instruction is online and 50% is in person.  I'm still trying to figure out the best way to set this up but so far I've...

Put most lecture materials/readings online with quizzes and summarization assignments.
Required students to set up Google Drive.

I'm the most excited about the Google Drive aspect!  In my standard face to face classes we do a lot of peer editing and revising so Google is solving that problem for me.  Each student has to create two folders.  1.  A turn in folder shared with me for their final products and 2. a drafts folder shared with 3 other students and me that is for their work in progress.

What will be awesome to see is the process they use to write.  Google tracks all revisions and allows others to comment on the work.  I think this will prove very useful to them.

Hopefully it all goes smoothly!

Have you used Google Drive in the classroom?





Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Finding Success on TPT

I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Teachers Pay Teachers, not only as a seller, but as a buyer as well.  In fact I started just as a buyer.  If you're like me, you've probably created from scratch lessons, worksheets, tests, and or quizzes for your classes.  Why not share your expertise with others?

If you're ready to start your own side business then take a look at these tips.  I'm by no means a top seller (yet) but I've learned a lot and there are a few things that I think I should have done in order to see success faster and to feel less frustrated.



Step 1:  Sign up as seller then READ THE FORUMS!  Don't post anything yet to sell.  This step is crucial because you'll learn so much.  This way you won't fall into the traps lots of first time sellers do!
Here's the link.  Go now, I'll wait.

Step 2: Prepare your products.  Here's a huge tip: Make everything in PowerPoint or in a design software.  This allows you to move things around much more easily than Word.  When they're done, save as a PDF.  Find out how to lock your PDFs.  There are great tutorials out there for Macs and PCs.

Step 3: WAIT to post until you have 5 or more products ready!  I wish I'd done this.  More products means you're more likely to sell.  It also helps your store look more established.  You might want to have a few on deck that you can upload once a week or so- this keeps your store active, and once you have followers they will get an email telling them you have new products so they are more likely to come back!

Step 4: Right away start a Pinterest account (business) and a Facebook page for your store.  If possible also start a blog (maybe start that even earlier) again you're getting your name and your products out there. (But make sure your blog has content that is unrelated to your products as well.  I hope I'm getting better with that.)

Step 5:  Learn the importance of hyperlinks and how to include them in your product descriptions.


General tips:

  • Create nice covers for your products.  
  • Free product (you must have one) should be high quality but just a sample of a larger product.  Maybe 1-2 pages of a multi-page unit.
  • Upgrade to Premium as soon as you sell 1-3 products.  You will make so much more money!  I waited till I'd made $60 but I'd have made that much way faster if I'd already upgraded.
  • Pin your products- but don't be obnoxious about it.
  • DO NOT GIVE UP.  It took me a LONG time to be successful but then again, I didn't know these tips!  You will get what you give out of this.  
  • There is a lot more to learn so again, GO TO THE FORUMS.
Have you signed up yet?  SIGN UP HERE!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Decorating a high school or college classroom

One of the things I miss while teaching at the college level is having my own classroom to decorate!  I really enjoy decorating but found it difficult my first year of teaching because most classroom decorations are very elementary in appearance!

I didn't want to decorate in bright primary colors and with cartoons.  I had a feeling that wouldn't jive with my students so I started searching for products that were academically appropriate AND would appeal to the aesthetic tastes of high school students.

Here are some of the products I found.  I love them, and students have responded really well.




Literary Techniques Educational Poster Series: Alliteration, Anthropomorphism, Personification, Hyperbole, Repetition, Onomatopoeia, Simile, Imagery, Metaphor and Foreshadowing



Then, using the general colors found in the posters up top I found this magnetic border to use on my whiteboard to help separate it out for my "I Can" statements, the daily agenda, and homework.
Learning Resources Magnaborders Circles

I used that color scheme as much as possible in my classroom and it was still bright and fun but didn't feel like a little kid room.  Now, why didn't I take any pictures?!

What do you do to decorate your room for older students?

Thanks for reading!


Friday, March 7, 2014

YouTube Channels to Follow for your Students!

I love YouTube in the classroom.  Several of my college students actually just told me that like how I use videos to enhance my lessons because it makes it more fun!  (I just use the same videos I do in high school.)  It does mix things up and presents information in a new way.

Here's my list of my top choices for YouTube videos.

Subscriptions:

Crash Course by Hank and John Green is absolutely one of my favorites.  On this channel, "John Green teaches you US History and Hank Green teaches you Chemistry. Check out the playlists for past courses in World History, Biology, Literature, and Ecology."  They are SO SMART and super engaging.  I love how fast moving they go and the quirky nature of it all.  Here's one of my favorites:






Thug Notes examines classic literature with an urban flair.  I will caution that sometimes the language is a little rough- but I'd be comfortable in most areas using it in high school.  Definitely in college. From their channel: "Yo, what's good? Thug Notes is yo main hookup for classical literature summary and analysis. Maybe you've read the Cliffs Notes. Maybe you even read the book. But you ain't know sh*t until you watched the Thug Notes, homie."  What I really appreciate about these videos is the quality analysis at the end!  He really does look at themes and motifs which is really important!  Here's my favorite: 


Flocabulary  has videos about lots of different topics.  To get the whole library you have to have a paid subscription to their website, but they do offer quite a bit for free on YouTube.  They describe their website as being, "an online library of songs, videos and activities for grades K-12. Hundreds of thousands of teachers use Flocabulary to supplement their instruction and engage students. Our team of artists and educators is not only committed to raising test scores, but also to fostering a love of learning in every child."  I enjoyed this one: 



Individual Videos

Here are some individual videos that I have used with success in the classroom, or plan on using soon!


I like how this covers many devices with real world examples.  I wish there was a slightly different one for Personification though.


This is the History of English in 10 minutes.  It's awesome, but definitely high school or college level.  VERY informative though.



Cute video that discusses some of my pet peeve grammar issues!


And, last but certainly not least, Kid President's Pep Talk for teachers and students!  I love this kid, and all his videos are great but this one is extra special.

What videos do you love?  Check out my post about the videos: "Pigeon:Impossible" and "The Passenger."



Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Writing With My Students

My second semester first year writing students at the local community college are starting a new unit with me.  They are going to be doing a literary analysis of a short story.  They will be required to examine academic journal articles about the stories and or authors to respond to or to support their claims.  I've broken this assignment down into chunks:

1.  Read and annotate the short story.
2.  Conduct research and write an annotated bibliography.
3. Re-Read and annotate the story- examine concepts discussed in the research.
4. Write the paper- revise, edit, submit

I have decided to do this entire sequence along with my students to better support them in their writing. We are finishing step one and starting step two tomorrow so yesterday I read and annotated "The Cask of Amontillado" which I will be showing them in class tomorrow.

Do you do assignments with your classes? How do you use your writing to help inform your students'?

As I progress I will keep you updated!

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Look a Little Closer: Teaching Students do a Close Reading

Students are intimidated by poetry.  Who can really blame them?  It takes a lot of practice to understand how poets use language to create meaning.

My college students are about to start a literary analysis unit using short stories so I thought I'd review how to examine a piece of literature for literary devices with them.  I chose to do so by using my Ozymandias and Ode on a Grecian Urn sheets.

Here are some examples:





Students made annotations on their own, as we talked about the poem, and again as they worked through the line by line questions.  The students told me they liked this technique of going through the poetry.  My thought is, in a high school classroom, I'd go through several poems like this and then set them on their own with other poems.  By completing these sheets students will learn what questions to ask themselves the next time they read a poem or story.

If you want these sheets specifically you can find them HERE.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Buying from Teachers Pay Teachers

As I've been talking with my teacher friends and teachers I meet while subbing I've realized that a lot of teachers are unaware of what Teachers Pay Teachers can offer them.  So here's a guide to using Teachers Pay Teachers for buyers!

Who is TPT for? Is it just for elementary school teachers?
Teachers Pay Teachers is for EVERYONE.  The site has recently hit 3 million users so yes, there are materials for just about every topic, grade level, and even country you may need.  We have sellers from around the world, every grade level from preschool to college, speech language pathologists, special education teachers, counselors and so many more areas!

I repeat- TPT is not just for elementary teachers. The middle and secondary areas of the site are
BOOMING right now!




How does it work?  Are real teachers really making the stuff?
As far as I've seen the sellers are all teachers whether they are currently teaching, retired, or job searching.  The vast majority of materials have been tried in the classroom and are designed with a teacher's eye unlike many of the products we find with our textbooks!

Seller's list their products for any price they feel is appropriate.  (Typically much cheaper than in a store.)  If they have a free store then they get a smaller percentage of the purchase.  However, most sellers with established stores pay a yearly fee and they earn 85% of every sale.  This is what I love as a buyer- I love knowing that I'm supporting another teacher instead of big business.

What other perks are there?
There are a lot of perks to TPT.  One, that I see a lot of buyers not utilizing, is the TPT credits program.  If you purchase a product you should rate it.  Use it and see how it goes and then leave feedback.  By leaving feedback you earn credits that can be used for future products- this can be huge as you can save them up for when your favorite seller is having a sale or one of the (typically) quarterly site wide sales.  Here's the explanation from the site,

"You get one TpT Credit for every $ you spend on TpT. Thing is, you only get the Credits after you Provide Feedback -- both a fair rating and a fair comment -- on the items that you purchase. We will round up for you, too! If you provide fair feedback on a $4.75 item, you will earn 5 credits. Every 100 Credits is worth $5 that you can apply towards future TpT purchases, but there is no need to wait until you have 100 to redeem them. 50 credits is worth $2.50, for example." 

The other great thing about the feedback feature is you can also see what others think.  As a seller we really appreciate thoughtful feedback- tell us what really works well or what didn't; it helps us make better products!  You can also leave questions in the questions section on a site.  Before you rate a product as terrible (Which should be a rare occurrence) try contacting the seller- most will respond very quickly and work hard to fix whatever the issue is! 

You can also wish-list items if you don't know for sure that you want them.  Keep them on standby until you're sure or there is a sale going on.


Why should I buy things when there are so many free items?

I'm not going to lie.  I started using TPT to download all the awesome free items.  I think you should too, but don't be afraid to spend a little there as well.  Often times we see things and think "I could make that" and maybe you could, but what is your time worth?  I love making things for my classes, but why spend an hour or so on an activity for my students that someone has already made and I can buy it for $2.  

Whatever you decide, I think you should check it out.  And now, at the end of February is the perfect time because THERE IS A SITE WIDE SALE on February 27th and 28th!  Go now, build an awesome wish-list and then get everything for up to 28% off.  The code is TPT3!


EDIT: The 2015 Sale is February 25th and 26th using the code: HEROES Get the deals while you can!

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

FREEBIE! Writing Resources

I realized I never shared with you all, my faithful blog followers, my awesome set of MLA Research handouts that I have listed FOR FREE in my TPT shop!

These handouts are great to provide students with a little more information about how to write research papers.

I hope you find them useful!





As always, if you want to sign up to sell on TPT you can click here!  Opening a store is FREE!


Thanks for stopping by,



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Substitute Teachers

Anyone who has been a substitute teacher knows that with all the perks there are a lot of issues that subs face that regular classroom teachers do not.  Here are some tricks/tips I've picked up along the way that can help make a day in a new classroom go smoothly.

6 fantastic tips and tricks to help you be a successful substitute! This post will help erase any nerves you have about becoming a sub or help you turn around any negative subbing experiences you've had.



1.  If you don't know the students' names:
- pay specific attention when doing attendance
- make sure students have some sort of required written work.  Then, insist they have their names on it. I just casually walk around looking at the names when I need them.  By calling them by name they know I can write down problem students so they tend to behave more.  Also, if they have already been problematic I can easily mark down who it was.  Conversely I can give specific praise to students as well.

2.  If a class is being a bit rough overall:
- mark each student's paper with a star or a sticker if they are working hard and following directions. I announce that I will be doing this to show the teacher which students were using their time wisely and following directions.  I do this even with high school students.  It saves the time of writing lots of names.  Also, if students were behaving poorly but then really get it together they can earn the sticker later in the period.

3.  Pick your battles.  I can't emphasize this enough!
- know the culture of the school.  If a rule is really emphasized by administration make sure you follow it.  After all you may want to be hired there at some point and I've had principals come in multiple times to observe while I subbed (whether to see me or the inclusion teacher in the room I'm unsure).  If something is no big deal to other teachers don't make it a big deal as a sub.
- present things as a choice: "You can stay in this room and do xyz OR you can not do xyz and go to the office.  I'll let you take a minute to decide."  I've had students choose both but more often than not they groan, follow the direction and are fine the rest of the class.

4.  Show your expertise.
- Introduce yourself and be generous with your description of experience.  Students can tell if you're not confident or unexperienced- FAKE IT if you are.  The first time I subbed I hadn't done anything other than student teaching.  However I left out the "student" part and just said, "I taught 10th and 12th grade in such and such a city."

5.  Have some fun.
- Get to know the kids, try to learn as many names as possible so as you keep coming back to the same school you know your students.  Bring some cheap small incentives- I bring bookmarks I get in the one spot at Target.  They're great when I have small groups in elementary school or if I see someone reading a book without a bookmark.  It makes me seem extra nice and the kids really appreciate it.  I play instrumental music in the background whenever possible.  It's my thing.  Have a thing.  Here's a link to the playlist I use... Background Music For Teaching.  It is on youtube so sometimes you have to skip over commercials.

6.  TEACH.
- Even if the sub plan just has you handing out a worksheet go over the directions, define any terms or ask the students to.  Show that you are there to teach and they are there to learn.  I have had so many students say to me, "Wow, you really took the time to teach us, the other sub just sat on her phone."  They tell their teachers, and their teachers now call me first because they know they can leave more substantial work.  Frankly, I'd get bored if I didn't try to teach.  Walk around the class, spot check answers, stay involved.




What tips or tricks do you use?
*Edited to Add* See my follow up post with MORE tips for Substitutes HERE.


Thanks for reading,


Friday, January 31, 2014

Poetry Power!

This summer I wrote my final MA Essay that was required for graduation about how to address reading complexity requirements from the Common Core with regards to poetry.  Poems do not traditionally have reading levels assigned to them due to length and other issues.  This post isn't really about that though.  By conducting this research I gained more interest in how to teach poetry in the classroom and how to address the standards, i.e. which poems most align with the standards of a specific grade level.

I also feel passionate about giving students- at all grade levels- access to classic poetry written by well respected poets as well as the more modern poetry we often see in younger grades.

So here is what I've come up with during this Polar Vortex!

For grades 1-3 I created sheets that go with the poems "The Cow" by Robert Louis Stevenson and "Who Has Seen the Wind?" by Christina Rossetti.


For grades 4-5 I examined "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer.  I will say this was in my seventh or eighth grade textbook last year and even those kids liked it so it could be moved up, but standards wise fits a bit better in the upper elementary school.  If you teach this you might want to also have students listen to it read by James Earl Jones- I just love how he sounds!





Then, moving more into my wheelhouse, I went with grades 6-8 and the poem, "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost which is one of my all time favorite poems.



Lastly, we reached my favorite age group- high school.  Here students are looking at "Ozymandias" and "Ode to a Grecian Urn" by Keats and Shelley.   This pack is probably the most comprehensive.  There is a lot to work with here and it is PERFECT for differentiating!



I also created some task cards that students in grades 4-6 can use to analyze ANY poem.  I included four poems in the set that students can use as well.  These are great for May Do work or Early Finisher work.  Poems include "The Eagle" by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti, "Dreams" by Langston Hughes, and "My Bed is a Boat" by Robert Louis Stevenson.



Check out ALL my poetry stuff including some Shakespeare materials as well at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

Thanks for reading!