Thursday, December 8, 2016

Making Reflection Meaningful

Welcome to our Making Reflection Meaningful Blog Hop!  I'm so happy to be a part of this amazing group of teacher-authors and hope you enjoy our tips and ideas!

I begin to have my students reflect on the past year by using video journals.  Using videos for student journal responses is a great way to incorporate technology, while also enforcing 21st century learning. The video journal responses address various areas included in an infographic (goal setting, SMART Goals, resolutions, making positive changes, symbolism, etc.).  I have students complete the infographic once they have finished the journal responses.  You can find the Student Reflection- Video Journal Responses here.

Another activity I use is New Year's Character Reflection Task Cards This activity requires students to think critically about the character(s) from a story that have read or are reading, as well as to support their answers with evidence.  The task cards can be used at any time in the year, not just around the holidays.  For a free sample of these activities, click here.  

How do you reflect and set goals, not only for yourself, but for the classroom, as well?


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Laughing All the Way Blog Hop

I'm super excited to be linking up with some amazing teacher-authors to share some of our ideas and stories that we use leading up to the holidays...not to mention the chance to win a Target and Starbucks gift card.  We all know that this time of year can be extremely hectic, and it's important to find ways that we can all keep our sanity!

For the last week and a half or so before the holiday break, I begin to have my students reflect on the past year by using video journals.  Using videos for student journal responses is a great way to incorporate technology, while also enforcing 21st century learning. The video journal responses address various areas included in an infographic (goal setting, SMART Goals, resolutions, making positive changes, symbolism, etc.).  I have students complete the infographic once they have finished the journal responses.  You can find the Student Reflection- Video Journal Responses here.

I also have a similar activity that my students do with task cards, based on characters from a recent story that we have read.  The tasks encourage students to think critically about the character being addressed, and to support their answers with evidence. Approximately half of the cards require students to reflect on the character’s past year or the year to come. The other half focuses more on characterization, in general (types of conflict the character has been involved in, internal and external traits, etc.). *These task cards can be used at any point throughout the year, not just for New Years. *  For a free sample of this activity, click here

Make sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a Target or Starbucks gift card.  Also, check out the other blog posts to get more ideas and resources to use leading up to the holiday break!
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Monday, November 14, 2016

How to Add Assignments on Google Classroom & Put Students into Groups

For those of you who are new to the AMAZING Google Classroom (I know, I'm addicted), I created a video to show you how to add assignments, as well as how to put your students into groups in G.C.  I hope you find the video helpful!  I'd love to hear how you use Google Classroom in the comments!

Click the link below to view video:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Best of the Best Secondary ELA Lessons

I'm SUPER excited to be a part of this amazing Best of the Best Blog Hop with such incredible secondary English teachers, hosted by Secondary Sara!   We're also giving away 3 $25 TPT gift cards!  I have learned so much from them, and it's awesome to be sharing our lessons together.  Our goal is to share our best lessons in order to help other educators gain tips and resources that can be used in their classrooms.

As a secondary English teacher, I want to develop strong writers.  In the 21st century, it's imperative that students understand how to implement complete sentences and paragraphs that are descriptive, well thought out, and demonstrate a variety in length and structure.  In order to be able to do this, they not only need to clearly identify the various parts of speech, but they also need to understand what constitutes a simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentence.  Because these aren't always the most engaging lessons, I wanted to come up with interactive and digital activities that students would not only learn from, but would also have fun while doing them.  This is how my Digital Grammar Skills & Parts of Speech Bundle was born.

My students absolutely LOVED these activities and have grown so much in the process!

This product includes:

• Capitalization Digital Task Cards
• Comma Digital task cards
• Quotation Digital Task Cards
• Subject & Predicate Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Types of Sentences Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Independent & Dependent Clauses Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Types of Verbs Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Types of Pronouns Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Interactive matching activities on all 8 parts of speech
• Individual interactive activities on nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections
• Answer Key

Google Drive Info
• Instructions for both teacher and students on how to use in your class
• Link to activities
• Instructions for Microsoft OneDrive users
• Tips & Tricks for Teachers and Students

What are some of your favorite go-to activities?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments.  Make sure to "hop" by the other Secondary ELA blogs for more tips and resources, and enter at the Rafflectopter below for your chance to win one of the TPT gift cards!!!

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spooky Story Lesson for Halloween

Every year I get so excited about Halloween, because there's so many fun activities that you can incorporate.  Around this time, the kids are usually pretty wound up, so it's always good to find lessons that will keep them focused.

For the last couple of years, I've used the 3:15 series by Patrick Carman, which is a collection of several multi-media short stories.  I first learned about this from the incredible, Erin Cobb of I'm Lovin' Lit.

What 3:15 stands for are the 3 elements that make up these stories:  listen/watch the introduction, read, and then watch the conclusion.  The 15 is because you're supposed to be able to do all this in 15 minutes.  But I'll be honest, my 6th graders haven't ever been able to do it that quickly.  I use this to teach story elements, which I go introduce prior to this story.  As I'm Lovin' Lit stated, this is a great story to use for teaching this skill, because the various parts of the plot are fairly easy to identify.  The ending is actually the climax and also leaves you with somewhat of a cliffhanger, wondering what may happen next. 

To have your students complete this lesson, you will need the following, which I have included here:
As they're reading/listening/watching the story, I have them fill in a story pyramid to check their understanding of story elements.  As a supplement to this, I also use these Digital Reading Response Task Cards, which address main idea, setting, main/minor characters, predictions, author's purpose, and more.

What spooky stories do you use around Halloween?  What activities go w/ the stories?  I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review & Resources

I'm constantly looking for novels that will not only interest my middle school students, but my 5th grader, as well.  After reading The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading, I knew immediately that this would be a great fit for both my students and my son.  It's a fantasy that's aimed towards ages 8-12; however, I can see both older and younger kids enjoying this book.  The book is also the first in a series, and now we can't wait to see what the next one holds!

Synopsis of book from the publisher:
The Dragon Of The Month Club, by Iain Reading, is the exciting first installment in a new middle-grade (ages 8-12) fantasy book series that tells the story of Ayana Fall and Tyler Travers, two best friends who stumble across an extraordinarily magical book and soon find themselves enrolled as members of a very special and exclusive club - The Dragon of the Month Club.

On the thirteenth of every month a new dragon conjuring spell is revealed and the two friends attempt to summon the latest Dragon of the Month. The varieties are almost endless: Air Dragons, Paper Dragons, Fog Dragons, Waterfall Dragons, Rock Dragons, Tree Dragons - not to mention special bonus dragons for all the major holidays, including a particularly prickly Holly Dragon for Christmas.

But one day when a conjuring spell somehow goes wrong Ayana and Tyler find themselves unexpectedly drawn into a fantastical world of adventure based on the various books scattered all across Tyler's messy bedroom. Travelling from one book-inspired world to the next with nothing to rely on but their wits and a cast of strange and exotic dragons at their disposal they must try to somehow find their way home again.

Drawing inspiration from some of literature's most memorable stories - from 19th century German folktales to the streets of Sherlock Holmes's London - the adventures of Ayana and Tyler bring these classic stories to life in delightfully strange and unexpected ways. Filled with fascinating detail and non-stop action these books will spark the imaginations of readers of all ages to inspire a life-long love of reading and seeking out books that are just a little bit off the beaten track.

This book is a great way to delve into an exciting adventure that the two main characters share, as they experience the different settings brought about as they travel from one "book-inspired world to the next."  Kids AND adults of all ages are sure to love escaping into this story.  

As we read the book, my students completed these digital and printable before, during, and after reading task cards that address the following:  main idea, setting, main and minor characters, compare & contrast, point of view, summarization, predictions, author's purpose, mood, and more.  It served as a great way to monitor students' understanding of the book.

For more info and to read an excerpt from the book, go to:

What fantasy books have you read w/ your students or children?  Fill me in in the comments below.  I'd love to have a running list to add to what I have for my students.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Creating Videos EASILY Using MySimpleShow

I recently found a GREAT tool that I have began using, and I just had to share with you!  I learned about Mysimpleshow from another great website called Cult of Pedagogy.

I'm always on the lookout for ways to incorporate videos and any kind of technology into my lessons.  My students have used GoAnimate, Powtoon, Power Point, etc. but most of these tend to be time consuming, and there always seem to be issues that arise in the process.  With MySimpleShow, this was not the case!

The Way it Works
Step 1- Draft- In this step, you choose whether the video you want to create is Professional, Educational, or Personal.  Of course, you would choose educational.  Then you choose what the main purpose of your video is:  educate somebody, introduce a topic, summarize a topic, or discuss a topic.
Next, you choose your "story line."  You can choose a blank template or one of the ones that are listed.

I chose to create my own.   Once you choose your story line, you move to step 2.

Step 2- Write- This is where you write your draft.  Each box explains what you need to include and also gives examples.

Step 3- Visualize- Using key words from your text, the program automatically selects pictures that you can include in the video, or you can choose to upload your own.
The picture above is from the video that I created for our team for Meet the Teacher night.

Step 4- Finalize- This is where you will choose how you would like the text read.  You can use their Text to Speech option, or you can record your own voice.  I actually had a student read mine, and it turned out pretty good.  

See our finished product below:

I'm planning to have my students use MySimpleShow to analyze a book we're reading and can't wait to see how it turns out.  What video programs have you used?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Winner Wednesday- September

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for Winner Wednesday again, hosted by Jennifer from A Dab of Glue Will Do and Sara from Sara J Creations!  I always look forward to this, because it gives me an opportunity to link up with several awesome teacher-authors who are also sharing info about one of their amazing products.  In addition, it gives all of you the chance to enter each TPTer's giveaway.  This also means you'll have multiple opportunities to win great products!!!

This month I'm giving away my Digital Reading Response Task Cards!   This product includes 24 task cards that differentiated and color coded to be used at the beginning, middle, and end of a novel or story.  The Common Core aligned task cards are an interactive way to hold your students accountable while they’re reading a novel, short story, etc. The questions are a perfect way to address the Reading Literature CCSS, and the options for using these are endless!

The questions cover the following:
• Setting
• Main Idea & Supporting Details
• Main and minor characters
• Compare/Contrast
• Summarization
• Point of View
• Genre
• Predictions
• Author’s Purpose
• Mood
• And more…

In addition, included is everything you need to use these with Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.

Thank you for stopping by, and make sure to head over to the other blogs to enter their giveaways.  Enter at the Rafflecopter below.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener Review

I am super excited to be doing a blog review for the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies!  The owner of these amazing products is also an elementary teacher, so he can actually identify with what we need in the classroom!

Last year, my electric pencil sharpener got broken for the millionth time by one of my "it's not my fault" students.  It was then that I decided that I was DONE with electric pencil sharpeners altogether.  So over the summer, I started researching, yes, I said researching (only teachers would actually research pencil sharpeners), pencil sharpeners to use w/ students.  I also asked around in my teacher Facebook groups, and everybody seemed to suggest the same one-- the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener.

Once I saw it in action, I have to say... I was AMAZED!  A few of my favorite things about it are:  it's extremely quite, has an auto-stop, AND it's portable!  That means you can take it with you any time you're moved to another classroom or school, take it home over summer break, and students can even pass it around to those that need to use it!!!  It does come with mounting hardware, but I prefer to be able to transfer it as needed.  My students and I both agree that we've never seen a better sharpened pencil!  To see how it works, check out this video.

My plan is to purchase several so that I can post them around my classroom and students can have easy access when needed.

See the website description below:
  • A "must have" for every teacher.
  • A unique and practical teacher gift.
  • Old-school retro look.
  • Quiet sharpening eliminates classroom interruptions. 
  • Automatic stopping once the perfect point is formed. This prevents over-sharpening.
  • Works on standard sized pencils.
  • Clear plastic disposal tray for easy cleaning.
  • Easy to use (as young as 5 years of age.)
  • Sturdy metal frame (approximately 3"x 3"x 5")
  • Portable or mounts to a surface. Clamp included.
  • Did I already mention that it was quiet?
  • Sorry, we ship to the USA only.
Here's a cute animated video of the sharpener in action:
To check these pencil sharpeners out, visit Classroom Friendly Supplies!  You won't be disappointed!

Back to School Tools

It's hard to believe that it's back to school time again!  My district has been back since the beginning of August, which is even harder to believe!   But for many of you that are just starting, that means Back to School shopping AND deals. To save you the hassle of checking around I've rounded up my top back to school picks in science, reading and writing and made sure you're saving at least 20%!
Tip: Use WELCOME16 for Free Shipping and 15% off if you're new to (you won't see that on their website).

How to Teach the 5 Paragraph Essay: Save 25%

A great lesson plan on this crucial skill.
5 paragraph

Science Graphic Book: Save 20%

I admit I'm surprised, but the comic book format of this science series has kids mastering materials because they're excited about the book itself! Definitely worth checking out, especially with the savings.

Life of Fred Beginning Reader Books: Save 19%

A perfect tie-in with the beloved Life of Fred Math Books for new readers.
life of fred

Analytical Grammar Set: Save 20%

Help your littles master this sometimes fun, sometimes maddening subject. Saving 20% helps.
alalytical g

Friday, August 26, 2016

Rock N Learn w/ Educents

Sale Alert! For just 24-hours, all Rock 'N Learn DVDs and board books are 50% off with FREE SHIPPING on Educents with code BLOWOUT. Rock 'N Learn's award-winning DVDs for children in grades PreK through 8th grade teach and entertain with music, humor, and super fun characters. Tip: if you're new to Educents use code WELCOME16 for and additional 15% off PLUS Free Shipping.  

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Save even more by getting a bundle! Here are my favorites, with each DVD now less than $10.

Multiplication & More Math Collection:

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This DVD bundle includes: Multiplication Rap DVD, Division Rap DVD, and Fractions & Decimals DVD. Kids discover what multiplication math is all about, learn facts through 12, and practice skip counting. Plus, kids learn division math concepts and facts and begin working with fractions and decimals. These fun math songs and zany characters hold attention and get results!

Early Math Collection:

This DVD bundle includes:Money & Making Change DVD, Telling Time DVD, and Addition & Subtraction Rap DVD. This math DVD set is a fun way to boost math skills for the early grades. Math facts are easy to learn with fun music and exciting animation. Kids learn all about counting coins and bills and practice making change. They'll also learn to tell time to the hour, half hour, and minute using traditional analog clocks.

Science Collection:

This DVD bundle includes: Physical Science DVD, Earth Science DVD, Life Science DVD, and the Human Body DVD. Award winning actor Vic Mignogna gives a voice to Marko the Pencil, who whisks learners away to his Super Science Station for an unforgettable adventure in learning. Special bonus sections present material as it might be found on a science test. And with Marko's test-taking tips, students are sure to improve on standardized tests.

Sight Words Collection:

This DVD bundle includes: Sight Words Level 1 DVD, Sight Words Level 2 DVD, and Sight Words Level 3 DVD. Sight words are the most frequently used words in the English language, and these DVDs helps students read them automatically. This set covers all pre-primer Dolch words, all primer Dolch words, all 1st Grade Dolch words, and many words from Fry's list.

Want to save EVEN MORE!?!  Use code  GETREADY for free shipping on ANY order!!!  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Blog Launch Giveaway for Hello, Teacher Lady

I'm super excited to be celebrating with Shana from Hello, Teacher Lady, as she launches her new blog!  Several teacher-sellers have contributed awesome products, along with other amazing items:  Chloe + Isabel's Sand + Sky Open Cuff bracelet, $25 in Lula cash, $20 in TPT credit to EB Academic Camps, and a $55 Target gift card!  To enter, visit:!
You don't want to miss this!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Secondary Back to School Giveaway- Prize Packs that are "On Point"

I'm so excited to be linking up with Lauralee Moss from Language Arts Classroom and Julie Faulkner from Faulkner's Fast Five for their annual Secondary Back to School Giveaway!!!  This year the them is... "On Point for Back to School!"

There are 87 sellers who have donated over $400 in amazing products for ALL subject areas!  The best part... TPT is sponsoring the grand prize winner with a TpT swag bag full of goodies along with Starbucks and Target gift cards!!  You can see all of the prize packs below.  Enter to win at the Language Arts Classroom between August 1st- August 5th!  You definitely don't want to miss this!!!  Best of luck, and I hope all of you have an amazing 2016-17 school year!!!

Monday, August 1, 2016

#Best.Year.Ever- Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale

Can you believe that it's time for another school year to start? No matter if this is your first year or your twentieth year teaching, the Back to School rush can be chaotic and overwhelming. Let the TPT Secondary ELA Sellers help you have the #BEST.YEAR.EVER! Join us in celebrating the TPT Back to School Sale. 

Visit the stores below during the #BEST.YEAR.EVER! TPT Sitewide Sale to save up to 28% off of products on August 1st-2nd:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Writing Wednesday Link-Up --July

I hope you gained as many ideas and incredible tips for developing and implementing writing as I did from last month's link-up! Hopefully by the time we have to go back to school, you'll have a ton of plans in your back pocket ready to break out and use with your students.

Last month I discussed how I introduced the argumentative writing process.  This month I'm going to share how I put the process into action by having my students write their own argumentative essay.  First, let me be honest.  I had really dreaded introducing this concept to my 6th graders.  I had quite a few students who really struggled w/ reading in general, so I knew explaining the whole argumentative essay process would be challenging to say the least.  But I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they grasped it, after taking them step-by-step, through each stage of developing the essay using my Argumentative Writing Unit.  This gave them the ground rules and all that they needed to know.  Now I just needed them to APPLY what they had learned.

To do this, I used the amazing an article called, "Why You Won't Find Her on Spotify" from the amazing Scholastic Scope Magazine!   For copyright issues, I can't post the article here, but if you Google the title, it should come right up.  This article discusses streaming services, such as Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and whether they help or hurt the music business.  The article talks about why Taylor Swift isn't available on certain streaming programs.  After reading the article, I created a digital chart in Google Slides for students to access, similar to the one that's included at the end of the article.  *FYI- In Scope, there were several graphic organizers that students are to use in the writing process.  I modified them for my students and created digital versions.  You can access all of these herePlease make a copy before using, so that you don't edit my original version.  To do this, once you open the document, click "File," then choose the "Make a Copy" option.* Using the chart, students had to come up with 3 reasons streaming is not good and 3 reasons it is good.  Then they were to choose the stance that they were going to take when they wrote their own essay, and use the 3 reasons to develop a thesis statement.  This was Step 1 of the process:

For step 2, after deciding which side they were on, they were to find evidence supporting their stance.  I told them they could use the pieces of evidence from their chosen side in the previous chart, but they also needed to come up w/ 2 or 3 more.  They did this using the digital graphic organizer below:

In step 3, they were ready to begin their intro paragraphs.  We had previously discussed writing strong hooks, background statements (as we call them-- some may call this a transition statement), and thesis statements when we began the Argumentative Writing Unit.  

Before students began to work on their body paragraphs, I reminded them that each reason HAD to be supported w/ evidence from the article, another website, etc.  When had previously spent a great deal of time on what this looks like and how to locate the evidence in the Argumentative Unit I mentioned before.  After gathering evidence for each reason, they completed the graphic organizer below in step 4.
For step 5, the conclusion paragraph, we reviewed that it should begin with a lead-in statement, where they acknowledge the topic.  Then they will restate the thesis statement by beginning with a concluding transition word.  The last sentence--the concluding statement-- will be their last chance to convince the reader that their side is the best.  Again, they did this using the graphic organizer below:
My students LOVED using an article that they were interested in, and I really received some excellent argumentative essays after doing it this way.  What has worked with your students?  Where do you find topics to use when attempting help your kids master these skills?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.  Also, make sure to stop by the other blogs to get more incredible writing tips!