Memories and Looking Ahead!

2014 brought some good times with going to concerts, 
watching various football games that my sons played, 

This was at the Will Muschamp 2014 Jr. Gator Camp

Disney stay-cations and trips to the Florida Disney parks, 

but the most special was the trip to England with my Husband and two sons!

We are not sure we can top that one this year, but we hope to go out West on 'ol Route 66.  We'd love to find a way to RV it, but they are just so darn expensive!

As for school, well let's just say that I still teach Special Needs but the way it's structured now I only work as a Facilitation teacher for my Special students and spend the rest of the day teaching 8th grade ELA.  I enjoy ELA immensely so this is not a problem except that we're taking a brand new State test and all courses now also have a local End of Course Exam....yikes!  

I am hopeful though, as this year is the first year of all these tests, I know that we will learn a lot for next year.  

And speaking of next year -  2015...

I am thinking that I'd like to include verses in my boys lunch at least once per week and then we can discuss them in the car on the way to school.  It would be a good way to focus the day.

Plus, I'd like to be able to make some scarves and hats that would be nice for those nippy days we get sometimes here in Florida.  It might be fun to teach this to my students too!

As for blogging and such, I plan to blog at least once per week and add one new product at least once per month.  I am going to go back to my "secret sauce" - novel games.  Up next - the game for Hatchet!

Susan was my inspiration for these last 2 goals - putting time on them makes them seem so much more "do-able"!
You can join the fun by clicking {here}.

And now, for those of you looking for a way to do this New Year's resolution thing with your students, I'd like to share a freebie:

Click {here} to get your freebie!  I'll be using this and making sure my students add a time frame to make it more "do-able" too.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Winter Things to Do

Yay!  It's Christmas break!  No school for two weeks!!  That means I have lots of time to do what I want to do.  What would that be, you ask?  Well, here's a small list:

I also want to sleep in and read some books, but that wouldn't fit on the list!  I hope I have time for all these things, but mostly just to be in the moment of all the holiday fun!

You can share your list at Teaching with Grace!

You might also want to check out this great giveaway:

Thanks for stopping by!

Anchors Away with Logos & Pathos

Today I am linking up with Deb at Crafting Connections for

We have been working on close reading of Argumentation texts.  With that, we have been focused on diffusing vocabulary, using the ACE method to write short answers and thanks to Darlene at ELA Buffet, we are using RACES for longer answers.

As part of our quest, we have been learning that argumentation authors use various persuasive appeals.  The two that we have focused on are logos and pathos.

I made this anchor chart to help us remember which is which:

Living in Florida, we hear a lot about the sun and sun protection so I thought this would be pretty relevant for the students.

This week the students will be creating their own project to compare/contrast the appeals in the two texts we have been studying in our SpringBoard textbooks.  If you are interested in that, I'd be happy to share the projects and the rubrics - just let me know.  :)

Not very holiday-y but this is what we must do.  I will at least play some lovely holiday music in the background while we work!

Before I go, I want to wish my Granny a Happy Birthday!  
Today she is 101!

This was taken last year on her 100th Birthday - I so wish I could be there today, but alas, she lives in NY and I am in FL.  I will, however, try to get my Uncle to Facetime for us.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Sparking Motivation with Music

I am linking up with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for

We all know that music is motivating, but I found something that worked so well for me this week that I just had to share.

I am sure many of you are working with your students to help them learn to write text-based short answers.  A lot of people call this the "ACE" strategy (Answer, Cite, Explain).

We were working on this through a close reading workshop in our Springboard curriculum on Argumentation when I found this:

It was perfect!  

And as luck would have it, I had an unexpected (surprise!) observation while I was using this!  And not just an ordinary observation - our district ELA coach was part of it!  Yikes!

I started class with my planner routine, followed by a discussion of the learning target in relation to the scale, then we watched this video, made an ACE foldable from Lovin' Lit's Interactive Writing Notebook, and finally used our text to create a sample ACE response as a class.

Thankfully, with this video, the kids were super motivated and into the lesson.  I received much praise and great feedback.  Whew!  The district coach even asked me to co-teach a model lesson with her next week so I guess she was impressed!

Now I just have to find something motivating for that...  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Show us what you bought!

I'm linking up with BlogHoppin' to show you what I bought!

I love this kind of linky because I really enjoy seeing what everyone has bought for their classrooms - it always gives me more ideas for my students!

Here's what I bought:

I bought this because I am thinking that this will help me prepare my students better for our new Florida Standards Assessment that is coming in the Spring.  I am thinking that I can use these for bell-ringers or homework.

Since I am teaching 3 classes of "regular" Language Arts, you can imagine that there are time when I am up to my eye balls in essays!  I definitely needed this!

This was a kind of impulse buy - I like the idea of essays being "graded" by peers in a competition sort of way.  I am thinking there might be many uses for this idea - community building and some healthy peer pressure too!

So, what did you buy?  I hope you'll link up because I will definitely be reading all those posts to discover new and exciting things to put on my wishlist for the next sale!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, Monday...with Argumentation

It's hard to believe my Thanksgiving break has come to an end!  It went by soooo fast...sigh.

When I get back today, we will be beginning a close read workshop through our Springboard books for Argumentation.  

Unfortunately, it looks a bit dry.  I am hoping to satisfy the requirements by using it as an "I do" activity, but then branch out with some great little items in my TpT shopping cart!

I also had an idea of my own... what about using popular children's books and then posing a great open ended question for the students to "argue" about using text evidence?
I am thinking about the one about that mean green fella (I heard that using the actual name will bring lawyers out of the woodwork) and "Polar Express".
I think this would be a great "we do" activity where students work with partners to outline an argumentation essay.  I have just the pattern for them to use...

Then maybe for a "You do", the students could read "The Gift of the Magi" and then get another open-ended question for which to choose a side.  This time, they would independently read, plan and write an argumentation essay.

I'll have to run this by my PLC....fingers crossed that we can inject some holiday fun into our plans!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Finishing up the Week of Giving Thanks with "S"

I've really enjoyed linking up this week with Blog Hoppin'.  It's good to reflect on life and take stock of who and where you are and where you are going.

Today's letter "S" is brought to you by Sincerity.  

This is a word that I have lived by pretty much all of my life.  It was one of my main "requirements" in a husband.  It's something I look for in my students and something I am conscious about being with my students.  

I think of sincerity as saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

Sometimes, drama tries to creep into my life at school and with my extended family so I have to remember to stay sincere.  

Maybe that's why I have a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree in my classroom.  :)

I would also like to sincerely thank Dr. Emily Levine and Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching and  for participating in my PIN it to WIN it a giveaway.  They will both receive a prize!

And speaking of Head Over Heels for Teaching, Joanne is hosting a fun linky:

The two most Wishlisted items in my Store are:

Getting off to a good start with any class is always a must!  I love to make fun, getting to know you items and these 2 fit that perfectly!

Now here's the item I'm saving to buy during the sale:

I think this will really help me to help my students be ready for our new Florida Standards Assessment which is very similar to Common Core.  

Has anyone else used this?  I'd love to know your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Black Friday Giveaway!

Since it's Thanksgiving Eve as I write this, I am going to share my next two letters all in one post...

A - Auctions:  My husband and I fantasize about becoming "American Pickers" and want to begin by going to auctions.  We haven't done this yet - we've spent more time at Estate Sales and such but it's a nice dream and since it's one we both share, it knits us together and I am certainly thankful for that.

N - Nerds:  No, not the candy, the ones that live in my house - namely my husband and my son who are known as "the science nerds".  I liken my son to the main character Lewis from "Meet the Robinsons".  (My younger son is so totally Stitch.)  

I am thankful for their fresh perspectives on things and for keeping things logical when I am most definitely not.  :)

And now, here's something else for you:

 I will be holding two flash freebie giveaways on Friday for my 2 newest text-based writing products:  PROS writing domains visual organizer AND Writing with PROS for Informative/Explanatory Essays.  


Stay tuned to this blog or check me out on Instagram or Facebook to find out the exact times!

And if you miss it, then there's still a chance to PIN it to WIN it by clicking {here}

And then there's also this "little" sale going on... :)

Thanks for stopping by - Happy Thanksgiving!!

Black Friday Wishlists!

I have to confess - I LOVE Black Friday!  The thrill of the hunt and finding the deals is so much fun to me.  So naturally I am super excited to participate in this super fun linky!

Now this week is BlogHoppin' s giving thanks week and today's letter to share what you are thankful for is "H".  So of course, I could choose "hunt", but I am also fond of "handmade".  Yesterday my son was amazed to learn that all the things on Teachers Pay Teachers are things people made themselves.  I guess it is pretty amazing when you think about it!

First up, my wish list:

Here are my wishes "life-size" - they are linked to the product listings:

Now here's a few items you might like to add to your wishlist:

And here are the "life-size" images that are linked to the product listings:

If you are a savvy Black Friday shopper, you know that there are terrific deals on this day as long as you know where to look.  

I suggest looking on Instagram this Friday.  That's when I will announce the times that I will be giving away the individual PROS products for free - but for one hour only during Black Friday!

If you happen to miss that, you could still Pin it to Win it by clicking {here}

Now don't think I have forgotten all about what this week is for! The hunt is fun because I do love a good deal - the deals I look for are hardly ever for me because I LOVE giving and making gifts.  

I make loads of handmade (remember, today is  "H" day) goodies every year and this year I have decided to make extra to give out to the local fire department, police, crossing guards and such other helpful folks.  You can share what you are thankful for too - join in the fun at BlogHoppin'!

Thanks for stopping by!

Anchors Away with PROS!

I am excited to share my newest anchor chart I made myself!  It's all about how to organize an informative/explanatory essay that is based on text:

My Mnemonic System for teaching students how to write a text-based informative essay!

This anchor chart was born from my PROS writing domains visual organizer:

Make an essay anchor / word wall like PROS!

PROS is a neat little acronym that I made up to help students remember the key areas in essays.  

P - Polestar Focus
R - Rules of Conventions
O - Organization
S- Support

Each part is broken down into manageable pieces that you hang up as you teach them, thereby making a great visual display like this:

Make an essay anchor / word wall like PROS!

My visual learners loved this and thought of it as an anchor / word wall for essays!

Then I added in this:

Teach the organization of text-based informative/explanatory essays with step-by-step examples, Cornell notes and interactive notebook activities all along the way.

It can be used with or without the PROS visual organizer and has Texts, Cornell Notes, Model paragraphs and Interactive Notebook Foldables!

My kinesthetic learners really enjoyed creating and using the INB foldables.  They said it helped them literally see the parts of their essay.

So what about the auditory learners, you ask?

They loved the acronyms - HAT, ACE IT, and ATT!

So you can see there's something for everyone with these writing systems.  :)  And I have them all ready to go!  

Thanks for stopping by!