Summer Show and Tell

I'm very happy to link up with Forever in 5th grade to show and tell about one big thing I was a part of this summer - hosting a Welcome Social that was held at the TpT conference in Orlando this past July!

The Florida bloggers welcomed over 600 teacher-authors to Florida to kick off the 2016 TpT Conference with swag bags, prizes a photo booth and more! 

We want to thank everyone for coming out and joining us as well as thanking our generous sponsors and donors!!

Mary, from Full of Smiles Photography, did a fantastic job of capturing the event!

First, we must thank Adam, Amy, and Paul for coming to our event!! Don't they look great?!

A huge thank you goes out to Sarah from Educlips for making this amazing clip art!

Seriously though, a big "Thank You" goes to Team TpT for coming out to the event!! It was amazing to have them come and join us in welcoming everyone to Florida!

Another BIG thanks to Tabitha Carro from Smartphone Marketing for all her support and fun giveaways throughout the event!

Another huge thanks goes out to A+ Images for sponsoring our event and giving away a class set of shirts!

We hope everyone enjoyed all the great stuff they found in their swag bags! These were packed with goodies from the Florida bloggers and specific donors!

Thank you to the amazing sponsors above as well as these great sponsors and donors for helping to make our giveaways and prizes the best!
A Modern Teacher
Safari, Ltd
Seat Sacks
Simple Soap
The Fit Teacher
Denise Boehm: Sunny Days in Second Grade
Amy Labrasciano
Cara Gingras: Kindergarten Boom Boom
Kimberly Solis: Elementary Antics
Your Thrifty Co-Teacher
Ta-Doodles Illustrations
Alexis Sanchez: Laugh Eat Learn Designs
Meg Anderson: The Teaching Studio
Teaching in the Tongass
Lyndsey Zurawski: Speech to the Core
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas
Lovely Leaders
Kristin Bowers - Kiwi Speech
Meg's Crayons
Learning Harbor
Hallie Sherman - Teacher Blogging School

It was terrific being able to host this social with all the Florida bloggers and we hope y'all come back real soon!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Top 3 Pins for Back to MIDDLE School!

Teachers in my district go back in just 5 days and so you can imagine I am having to shift my summer brain back into gear!

I'll be teaching 6th grade ELA exclusively at a new school this year, so my pins are focused on Middle School!


This pin leads to a collaborative blog post from Created for Learning.  My favorite was the idea of planning your walls to add things in an organized manner as the year progresses.  I know I need a word wall, an essay word wall, space for other anchor charts and students work.  Now I just have to figure out where everything should go...


This is one thing with which I am definitely going to use to decorate my room!  I think they're great discussion starters and are very decorative without being too cutesy.


Unless I have to have the same syllabus as my new PLC, I am so going to use this one!  An infographic syllabus is almost too cool.

BONUS! There is a terrific giveaway going on at

The GRAND PRIZE is a Big Swag Bag full of goodies from Teachers Pay Teachers with Starbucks and Target gift cards!

For more back to school ideas, check out my Pinterest board and the other fine bloggers that have linked up below. 

An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for stopping by!

Best Year Ever!

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! 

Save some time and take some of the pressure off with engaging week-long plans that focus on community building, going over class agreements (rules & procedures) and more!  Copy and go!

Click here to see all my back to school resources!

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:

Remember to use the code BestYear to get the full savings!  You can also leave feedback for previous purchases to earn TpT credits that you can apply to your purchase price.  

I hope this helps you get your new school year off to a great start!
Thanks for stopping by!

Hop Back to School!

Hop Back to School with Classroom Management Tips and Freebies!

I have exactly one week left before teachers in my district return to school.  It's been a very relaxing summer, and I'm excited to be teaching 6th grade ELA exclusively this year!

I'll be entering into my 23rd year of teaching and have spent all of those years in middle school except for one.  (I taught special needs at the high school level and then they changed the certification requirements so I went back to middle school - presumably where I belong.  :)  )

As we head back, I am running a checklist through my mind to ensure I have all my ducks in a row.  I think one of the biggest decisions that need to be made are those concerning classroom management.  As you can imagine, I have tried several different ideas out over the years.  The one thing that worked best for me is TICKETS.

I give a ticket to students who follow our beginning of the class routine and have their planner filled out and bell work ready before our daily song ends.  I give 2 tickets for every 100 on a test or assignment and 1 ticket for every 90.  I give tickets for answering questions when I call on a student as I pick their name out of my cup.  I give out tickets for someone caught being kind.  I give out tickets for...well you get the idea.  Then the students write their name on the back of their tickets and place them in the correct bucket.

I pass out tickets to students for all kinds of positive behaviors.  Then students put their names on the back and place them into buckets for a weekly drawing.

I use my system right away in the first week of school to help students to remember to bring back all their important papers (or to fill them out online).

On Fridays, I draw tickets for prizes.  Students can choose the "sure thing" - a piece of candy from my jar...

Students can choose to be rewarded with the "sure thing" with a treat from the Reward Jar or take their chances with my boxes!


what's in box #1, box#2, or box #3.

If a student's ticket is drawn they can try their luck at choosing an unknown prize from the 3 boxes of mystery!
At the beginning of the year, I make sure that 2 out of 3 boxes have really good prizes like full-size candy bars and bags of chips.  As the year goes on, I will put seasonal goodies in the boxes.

No matter what you do, be sure to have a plan.  And then follow through on that plan so that students know that you are on top of things and mean what you say.

To kick off your year, I have a great freebie for you!

But wait, there's more!  :)
You can also enter this giveaway to get even more great back to school resources:

Win great resources and even a Grand Prize of a Big Swag Bag of goodies from Teachers Pay Teachers including Starbucks and Target Gift Cards!

The GRAND PRIZE is a BIG Swag Bag full of goodies from Teachers Pay Teachers that includes Starbucks and Target gift cards!

To hedge your bets, you might want to also check out the Teachers Pay Teachers site-wide sale!  All my resources are a full 28% off with code: BestYear

Thanks for stopping by!

Writing Wednesday - How I Teach Organization of Essays!

I am very happy to join Lit With Lyns for this great summer link-up!

Last month, I shared how I introduce the essay writing vocabulary with a synergy of traditional two column notes and interactive notebooks called Pixanotes.  

This month, I promised to share how I teach the organization of essays.

As a 6th grade ELA teacher, I have found that my students can generally write complete sentences and paragraphs but have trouble figuring out how to use text to inform their work and organize it into an essay.  And even though I may show them model after model, the concept of organization still seems to evade them.

My solution?  Patterns with outlines/frames.

In my research on patterns, the ASCD said "When students seek patterns in the world around them, they see order instead of chaos, which builds confidence in their understanding of how the world works and gives them a feeling of control."

This makes perfect sense to me.  As teachers, we use patterns to create lesson plans as we use the same template over and over.  Sure, we add things to the template as the needs arise, but the same basic structure remains.  This same principle can be directly applied to students learning to write essays.

Essay Outlines ~Think about it like this:  How could one decorate the walls of a new house if the walls haven't been built yet?  They can't!  The organization of essays are those walls.  Once those walls are up, then word choice, voice and more can paint them and add other embellishments like mirrors or artwork.

I am all about taking thorny concepts and breaking them down into practical and fun activities.  These outlines work to do just that.  The idea is that on the left, the concept of what needs to be written is presented in words with a picture to help the student create a memory cue.   The right is where the student writes his/her own sentence according to the concept presented on the left.

Now I know some will say that this creates very basic writing and that is true because this is just a foundation.  Think about it like this:  How could one decorate the walls of a new house if the walls haven't been built yet?  They can't!  The organization of essays are those walls.  Once those walls are up, then word choice, voice and more can paint them and add other embellishments like mirrors or artwork.

To build on the concepts presented in these outlines, I have also created some great step-by-step lessons that make teaching what's contained in the outlines easier using original texts, Cornell notes, model paragraphs, interactive notebook foldables, graphic organizers and more.  

To build on the concepts presented in my outlines, I have also created some great step-by-step informative essay lessons that make teaching what's contained in the outlines easier using original texts, Cornell notes, model paragraphs, interactive notebook foldables, graphic organizers and more. To build on the concepts presented in my outlines, I have also created some great step-by-step argumentative essay lessons that make teaching what's contained in the outlines easier using original texts, Cornell notes, model paragraphs, interactive notebook foldables, graphic organizers and more.    

Click on either image above to learn more.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Show and Tell - More Top Google Tech

I'm always happy to join the fun with Forever in 5th grade's Show and Tell linky!

This summer, I have been researching Google Apps that can be used without Google Classroom.

I've been experimenting with using Forms to collect student information, Sheets to collect student data, and Doctopus to share assignments with large groups of students all at once.  (I'm still working on Doctopus - it's a bit overwhelming.)  I promised to post each Saturday and missed this past one but I think that this post will make up for that.  :)

With the new school year quickly approaching, I am focused on tech that will help me with my students that are learning English or have special needs.

First, I know I will have many ELL students this fall and certainly some with special needs or 504 plans.  I also know I will need to track their accommodations and be prepared to provide this information for observations.  This task can be daunting but I think Google Forms will make it easier!

All I have to do is make a Form for me to fill in with all the pertinent information:

Need to track students' needs and accommodations?  Use Google Forms!

Then later I could add dates or assignments to the form for even more detailed records.  Plus, anytime I need to add a student or change information due to a meeting, it's easily done!
To add, just complete your Form again.

 To edit, just click on "responses" and let the Form create a spreadsheet of the information.  Go into the spreadsheet and click on whatever you need to edit.

Easy Peasy and printable!

I know that many students have the accommodation of having tests read to them.  Did you know there's an app called Read and Write for Google that will read things on the computer out loud?  All you have to do is click here to find the app, then install the app, highlight the word/words you want read to you and then press the play button! 

Do your students have the accommodation of having tests read out loud?  Use Read and Write for Google!

You will see that there are premium features that seem to require you to pay in order to keep them.  However, teachers get a FREE premium account!  Click here to sign up for that free account! 

The last app that I have been playing with is Voice Recognition.  This allows you to speak what you want written and it will do the writing for you! This one takes some time to work with as it has to "learn" your voice, but I think it's worth it!  Imagine having students who can't seem to get the words out on paper, but could speak them and end up with a text they could edit!

Help your most challenged students write using the voice recognition app!

Click here to get this app!

I hope my little adventures help you find ways to differentiate for your students this year. I enjoy finding ways to break down thorny concepts into fun and practical activities.  You'll find lots of these activities in my periodic newsletter.  You'll also get ideas and freebies like the one below:

Tame the ELL and Special Needs paperwork with a free copy of a form that you can use to track your students' needs and accommodations!

Thanks for stopping by!