Thursday, May 24, 2018

Escape Room Fun- ELA Test Prep

I previously blogged about ways to use escape rooms in the classroom, as well as how fun it is to use escape rooms for test prep!  After recognizing how engaged my students are when we use these, I try to implement them as often as possible. This year after I saw how much fun my students had when they did the first escape room for ELA test prep, I HAD to create another one...

This is where ELA Test Prep- Digital Escape Room Vol. 2 came in!  Like I've said before, who wants to spend a bunch of money on locks, boxes, and any other props you may need for the escape room?!  By using the digital version, all teachers have to do is share the link with their students from Google Classroom, their teacher website, Edmodo, or whatever Learning Management System they use. Students click the link and are then on their way.  They will follow the directions to complete each task.  **Students WILL need access to a Google Drive, as this is necessary to store the files and information they input into the Google Form and Google Slides.**  

This is how it works:
  • Once students click the link the teacher shares with them, they will be taken to a Google Form.  The Google Form will have directions and a link to take them to their first "room."  
  • Escape Room #1- Figurative Language- Students will be taken to a drag and drop matching activity. Here, they will review the following types of figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, alliteration, hyperbole, and idiom.  Once students determine the code by matching all of the items and using the decoder at the bottom of the slide, they will go enter the code into the Google Form.  If it's correct, they will be able to move on to room #2.  If it's incorrect, they will get the error message, "STILL LOCKED," and they will need to go back and figure out what is wrong.

  • Escape Room #2- Author’s Purpose- Students will read short passages to determine whether the author’s purpose is to persuade, inform, or entertain.  Again, students will enter the code they get after answering all of the questions.  If the code is correct, they will move on to the next "room."

  • Escape Room #3- Parts of the Plot- Students will answer questions to review parts of the plot: exposition, rising action, falling action, climax, resolution, protagonist, and antagonist.  Students will enter the code in the Google Form, and if it's correct, they will proceed to room #4.

  • Escape Room #4- Point of View- Students will read short passages to determine the type of point of view being used: 1st person, 2nd person, or 3rd person.  They will enter the code into the Google Form, and if it's correct, they will proceed to the final challenge.

  • Jigsaw Puzzle- Students will put the puzzle together, and once they do, they will see the final code.  This is the last code they will enter into the Google Form in order to complete the last challenge and officially "escape."

If you're interested in fun, innovative ways to review before state testing or are looking to have engaging activities for students to complete towards the end of the school year, check this out!  What are you doing with your kiddos these last few weeks of school?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

100 End-of-Year Superlatives that Recognize ALL of Your Students' Unique Personalities

As a middle school teacher, I typically teach well over 100 kids a day.  Each year I find myself wanting to recognize each one for their unique qualities, but it always seemed virtually impossible to do.  With testing and all of the events that occur towards the end of the year, it's hard to find the time to come up with something.  This year, however, I decided that wouldn't be the case!  

I sat down and came up with 100 distinct awards that were sure to fit not only my students but the majority of kids at the secondary level.  I wanted to create something that was positive, yet humorous, that the kids would relate to.

Here's what I came up with:

·Most Likely to be the CEO of Wells  Fargo
·Most Likely to be a Pro Tennis Player
·Most Likely to be a Pro Baseball Player
·Most Likely to be a Pro Basketball Player
·Most Likely to be a Pro Soccer Player
·Most Likely to be a Pro Football Player
·Most Likely to be a Football Coach
·Most Likely to become an Instagram Addict
·Most Likely to be on Broadway
·Most Likely to be on Shark Tank
·Most Likely to become a well-known journalist
·Most Likely to become a Selfie Queen
·Most Likely to go broke at Starbucks
·Most Likely to be thankful
·Most Likely to talk in a library
·Most Likely to be in a band!
·Most Likely to talk during a test
·Most Likely to be a CEO
·Most Likely to be a mathlete
·Most Likely to be a famous actor
·Most Likely to have the heaviest book bag
·Most Likely to travel to Mars
·Most Likely to ask already answered questions
·Most Likely to read 100 million words in high school
·Most Likely to take their time
·Most Likely to build airplanes
·Most Likely to own their own farm
·Most Likely to have ants in their pants
·Most Likely to be crowned Mr. Nice Guy
·Most Likely to fly under the radar
·Most Likely to be a doctor
·Most Likely to have the cleanest locker
·Most Likely to be a school principal
·Most Likely to be the President of the US
·Most Likely to be the First Lady
·Most Likely to be an Olympian
·Most Likely to win an argument
·Most Likely to ask to get water
·Most Likely to be a pro wakeboarder
·Most Likely to laugh out loud
·Most Likely to be a firefighter
·Most Likely to cure a disease
·Most Likely to be a pro gamer
·Most Likely to lose an instrument
·Most Likely to live in a foreign country
·Most Likely to pop their collar
·Most Likely to ask permission
·Most Likely to have a great attitude
·Most Likely to wear a hoodie in 100-degree weather
·Most Likely to be Mr. Serious
·Most Likely to be a radio talk show host
·Most Likely to be out of dress code
·Most Likely to do the hair flip
·Most Likely to be prepared
·Most Likely to cross their I’s and dot their T’s
-Most Likely to talk about FortNite
-Most Likely to stop world hunger
-Most Likely to be willing to work with anyone
-Most Likely to exercise every day
-Most Likely to know all the words in a song
-Most Likely to become a famous musician
-Most Likely to direct Star Wars 2050
-Most Likely to own a baseball
-Most Likely to wear the best set of headphones
-Most Likely to be your boss
-Most Likely to be the world’s greatest chef
-Most Likely to change the world
-Most Likely to catch a teacher in an error
-Most Likely to be a hairdresser
-Most Likely to become a teacher
-Most Likely to be a pro cheerleader
-Most Likely to wear a cool headband
-Most Likely to work in IT
-Most Likely to think their laptop is better than the school’s
-Most Likely to be a famous author
-Most Likely to have the most interesting collection of items in their locker
-Most Likely to own more cats than Hemingway
-Most Likely to join WWE
-Most Likely to hike Mt. Rushmore
-Most Likely to think outside the box
-Most Likely to take the scenic route
-Most Likely to miss the bus
-Most Likely to graduate early
-Most Likely to say good morning
-Most Likely to be a vet
-Most Likely to have the best hair
-Most Likely to be a standup comedian
-Most Likely to be a public speaker
-Most Likely to be a motivational speaker
-Most Likely to help a friend in need
-Most Likely to be best buds
-Most Likely to be prepared in an airport
-Most Likely to become a video game addict
-Most Likely to be a pro diver
-Most Likely to be the first to get to class
-Most Likely to be the first to finish an assignment
-Most Likely to get the best researcher award
-Most Likely to forget their stuff
-Most Likely to keep you waiting
-Most Likely to get the Luke Perry hairstyle award

You can find all 100 Superlatives HERE!  This resource includes the PDF and PowerPoint version so that you can add text boxes, type each student’s name, the teacher’s name, etc. What fun awards do you give at the end of the year?  I'd love to hear all about them in the comments below!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

5 Reasons Escape Rooms Should be Used in the Classroom

A while back I did a guest post on one of my favorite educational websites, 2 Peas and a Dog.  If you haven't visited before, it's full of great tips and tools to use in the classroom.  Definitely check it out! My post discussed escape rooms and why they should be used in the classroom. 

Check it out below:

Over the last year, I have become completely crazy over escape rooms!  So much so that I find myself trying to figure out ways to implement them with practically every standard I teach.  If you aren't familiar with this, escape rooms are a series of games/puzzles/etc., where contestants (students) use critical thinking and sometimes teamwork to “breakout” of a room.

The first escape room that I created and used in the classroom was for end of year testing.  Kids dread nothing more than preparing for why not make reviewing for these dreaded assessments something the kids will remember??!?  And how perfect that they can remember skills we need them to know!!! After seeing how engaged my kids were, I knew that this was a fantastic strategy that every teacher should use, and I ended up creating another test prep escape room in the process!  Check out the bundle here.

Today I want to share 5 reasons why escape rooms should be used in the classroom:

#1- Team Building
Escape rooms are a great way to force your students to work together for a common purpose.  To determine how to unlock the code and move from one room to the other, they have to figure out how to solve the problem at hand using each others' strengths.

#2- Promote Critical Thinking
In order to escape and move on in the process, students must delve deep and discuss the options that are available to them with the materials they have.  The answers are often not right in front of them.  Instead, they have to typically read between the lines, and challenge themselves.

#3- Interactive
Whether they're done digitally or in a traditional manner, students must interact with each other, in addition to the material.  This allows for making connections and stimulates students' brains in a way that will help them to truly comprehend the material.

#4- Keeps Students Engaged
Just like we see when kids are playing games, escape rooms keep their attention.  People are often competitive by nature, and when our students see that the goal is to escape one room to move to another, they want to do what it takes to make this happen.

#5- Works for any Subject Area
Escape rooms can be used for any subject or skill.  Determine what it is that you want your students to focus on, and the activities that take place in an escape room can be used to assist them in mastering this skill/standard.

If you would like to check out my blog post about the escape room I created for end of year test prep, click here.  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Why Grammarly is a MUST in the Classroom!

Grammarly Writing Support

This post contains affiliate marketing links.  I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.

Do you ever find yourself grading your students' papers and wonder how they've managed to get so far with such poor grammatical skills???  I think they forget they aren't texting their friends... they're supposed to be writing formally, for educational purposes!  As an English/Language Arts teacher, I'm constantly working with my students on how to use the proper punctuation, when to use apostrophes, correct subject-verb agreement, and for goodness sake, to PLEASE check their spelling!!!

After discovering Grammarly, I realized that this would make all of our lives much easier (both teachers and students). With that being said, I now require all of my students to use Grammarly before turning in any of their writing assignments.  This allows both the students AND the teacher to check for any grammatical errors by pasting their writing (paragraphs, essays, whatever is written) into a document on the Grammarly website where grammar and spelling are checked.

You can also use the Grammarly Chrome Extension.  Once you add the extension, it will appear in the top, right corner of the screen.  Any time you're typing an email, blog post, etc. it will let you know if there are errors by underlining the word or punctuation mark.  It will also provide suggestions to fix this.
I have created a video to show you just how easy Grammarly is to use:

Below are some action shots of my students using Grammarly in the classroom:

Have you used Grammarly in your classroom?  I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year & New Semester... Means 50% Off Sale!

Happy New Year!!!  As I prepare to begin 2018, and... I don't even want to type the words...start setting my alarm again, I thought I would share with you some fun, new resources I'm going to use when my students return. 

The first activity I'm going to use is this Digital Student Reflection.  This digital AND printable resource includes 5 video journal prompts where students watch a short video clip and then reflect on the past year, as well as the year to come in their responses. Using the information from the journal responses, students will complete a New Year’s infographic.   These are great to print and put up on a bulletin board to remind students of the goals they have set.

Around the time of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I plan to have my students use this Digital MLK, Jr. Video & Song Analysis comparing U2’s “Pride: In the Name of Love” lyrics and video with the John Legend version. Students will also watch a short bio on MLK, Jr. and complete an interactive drag and drop fill-in-the-blank digital activity.  With these activities, students will gain a better understanding of who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, as well as what he stood for. 

These 2 resources will be 50% off for New Year's Day only!!!  What activities are you going to do when student return from Christmas Break?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

TPT Cyber Sale!!!

In case you haven't heard, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a cyber sale on Nov. 27-28, where you can get up to 25% off!  You simply have to enter the code cyber17 at checkout.

I recently posted some holiday-themed resources, just in time for the sale.  These Digital Holiday Figurative Language Task Cards are a fun way to review the following types of figurative language:

  • simile
  • metaphor
  • personification
  • alliteration
  • onomatopoeia
  • idiom
The task cards are a part of a larger set of activities that include differentiated resources-- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Digital Figurative Language & Writing Activities.  Students will identify the rhyme scheme and figurative language used.  In addition, this item is differentiated for lower level and more advanced learners.  By purchasing the bundle, you save $2.00.  If you're looking for the printable version, check it out here.

I hope you're able to get some great activities that will keep your students engaged as we get closer to Winter Break!  When do you get out for the holidays?  Our last day is December 20th!  I'm counting down the days...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Why Students LOVE Quizlet

I've been using Quizlet for years in my classroom and love it so much that I recently completed the requirements to become a Quizlet Ambassador.  For those few (hopefully very few) who haven't used Quizlet before, it's a great website that allows both students and teachers to create their own study sets, based on any topic you're focusing on at the moment.  You can also use the search feature to find study sets others have created.  Using the info you plug in, Quizlet creates digital flash cards on the material you're studying.  But that's not all!  This amazing learning tool also generates interactive games and even tests, as well!

For those teachers who have students that struggle with word pronunciation or for students who are learning a new language, Quizlet has a text to speech feature.  Students can hear the words and definitions spoken out loud, and 18 different languages are currently supported.

In my classroom, we've used Quizlet to help prepare for almost every skill we learn.  From vocabulary to sentence structure, the options are endless.

Just when I thought Quizlet couldn't get any better, they came up with a collaborative game component, which allows students to work in groups to come up with the answer. With these simple steps, students are collaborating to choose the best answer choice using the study set you're currently working on:

  • Students go to
  •  Enter the game code that Quizlet automatically generates when you choose the "Live" option.
  • Students enter their name.
  • After all students have joined, Quizlet divides students into random groups.
Each group has to work together to match the correct word with the information provided to them.  Each group member has a different set of answers, so they are forced to communicate with one another in order to determine which group member has the correct answer.  It's the perfect tool to promote collaboration and communication.  What's even better, your students will BEG for more!!  

Have you used Quizlet in your classroom?  If so, how do you integrate this amazing resource?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.