Mrs. Spangler in the Middle Goes Back to School!

I am blessed to be a part of this amazing group of secondary ELA teachers called The Literary League and am eager for you to meet the team!  

I am Lisa, a Middle School ELA & SPED teacher
I wonder if you would guess that my favorite novel is virtually anything dystopic (but maybe my favorite is The Giver)
I hear whispers from far across my classroom
I see buried treasures in old SRA kits
I want to travel around the world
I am a Middle School ELA & SPED teacher

I have had amazing success when using this
with my students who have special needs!

I pretend I am a hero that can help & teach anyone, anywhere!
I feel grateful to have been teaching for 21 years
I touch students' lives with streamlined tasks
I cry when students say they don't love books
I am a Middle School ELA & SPED teacher

The day I earned my Master of Education
from Rollins College

I understand that Special People find me everywhere
I say "You can do this!"
I dream about writing a best seller and being an antique "picker"
I try to be the best teacher I can be
I hope that all my children will be healthy, happy and significant
I am a Middle School ELA & SPED teacher!

My most recent antique find ~
I love collecting old books!

Yes, this is the tried and true "I Am" poem that I used to like to do with my students to get to know them.  Now I have even more community building tools in my toolbelt that I like to use.  

One of my favorites for the first day is "The TP Pass".

Pass around a roll of toilet paper and tell each person to take some.  Then after everyone has some, tell the students that for each square they took, they will have to share one thing about themselves.   I then reveal a list of things they could share to get them started like:
What's your name?
Why did your parents choose this name?
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
What was the best thing you did this summer?
What's your favorite thing to do for fun?
What's your favorite book?
What's your favorite song?

You could list anything you really want to know and you might just get it!  :)  If you'd like a couple more FREE ice breakers then you might want to take a look at this --------->

Now that you have a fun ice breaker to get you going, I'd also like to share a big time saver:

Every year, I pass out a syllabus with a "Student Information Sheet".  I always pass this out on the SECOND day of school.  I do this because the first day is such a whirlwind (and likely an overload of SCHOOL information) so I like to just focus on building community.  After all, the saying goes:


So how does this save time, you ask?  The time saved is in having the Student Information Sheet get 4 birds with one stone!

First, I will give you my syllabus and info sheet that's part of my Beginning Classroom Management freebie.

Next, I suggest that you offer your first reward in the system you use for the return of the sheet the VERY NEXT DAY. (I get at least 75% of mine back the next day because I really build up my reward system on the same day I hand out the syllabus.)  Instead of a stand and deliver with the syllabus, I use an interactive notebook piece with it and I turn it into a kind of game show 

(What's behind door number 1? :) ).  

This is part of my Back To School resource.

Then, use the back of the Student Information Sheet as a phone log.  I simply record the date, the reason I called, who I spoke to and what the result was.  Nothing fancy - but it gets the job done! 
(NOTE:  I do not pre-print this information on the back side of the sheet.  If the students know that this will be a phone log, you may not get it back or you will but with inaccurate or missing information.)

Last, you now have all information at your fingertips instead of having to spend hours to look up that information on the computer that may or may not be very reliable.  I find that my student information sheets come back with more accurate information than what the office has!  I keep them in a binder with my lesson plans and such.  Now I have time to do other things - like plan lessons!  :)

Thanks so much for stopping by!

I hope you'll take some time to get to know the rest of the Literary League!


  1. I love that toilet paper ice breaker! I can totally picture my boys taking a ton and then realizing what that actually means :) hahah! Thanks for sharing!!


  2. So fun to read your entry as an I am poem! Great ideas here (especially the toilet paper ice breaker). Thanks for sharing!

  3. I used to do a similar activity with my students, but I used Starburst instead. I wish I had thought of something as similar as a roll of toilet paper! It would have definitely saved some money! Thanks for sharing! :)


  4. Your poem makes me smile! Your love of teaching shines through every word! Wishing you a great year!

  5. Oh, my gosh! I LOVE that you are a picker!! My mom and I love to hit Thrift Stores and Antique Shops to find hidden gems! Thank you for sharing your ideas. I love that your post was written as an I am poem! Hope you have a wonderful back to school, and that you continue to share your ideas! - Kristen @ Simply Novel

  6. That's a really fun icebreaker! I love the picture of you with your beautiful family when year earned your Master's!

  7. I have never seen the toilet paper one before! Looks like a good way to grab their attention/curiosity!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope to hear from you and will reply via e-mail. :)