Freebie Monday!

Wow!  Teachers Pay Teachers has reached the 3 million teacher mark!
That definitely calls for a SALE-a-bration!  :)

And here's a great freebie to get you into it:  The first week of my 12 week expository essay unit.

This unit is 12 weeks of step-by-step instructions on how to write an expository essay.  It uses the writing process infused with the 6 traits of writing and grammar with the parts of speech.
The first week contains:

The entire unit contains PowerPoints, links to online games, graphic organizers, rubrics, checklists, teacher evaluations tools, answer keys, weekly quizzes for formative evaluations, a midterm and final exam for summative evaluations, and an outline of all lessons.
Just click on either blue image above to get the week 1 freebie!!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Freebie Fridays

What's in My Cart?

Perhaps you've heard that Teachers Pay Teachers is having a big sale this Thursday and Friday.  

I'm joining in and have recently been cruisin' around looking at some other special ed blogs.  The speech teacher and I work closely at my school to bounce ideas off of one another so I couldn't resist joining in this:

I have 2 main things in my cart:

by Teaching with a Mountain View

By Lovin' Lit

I am working to get my kiddos reading for state testing and can really use the task card bundle plus I am working on a project to inspire them and think the foldables will really add to it.  

If you are looking for any novel games or writing resources, check out my store by clicking on the the image below:

Thanks for stopping by!  :)

Sparking Writing Test Motivation!

Tuesday is the big FCAT Writes Test day and I will really need to turn it up for my 8th graders on Monday!  

I was thinking it would be great if I could make essay writing into a song and so I went looking for some cool videos and found these:

These really pump you up!  

I just wish I could put what we've learned to music, but alas I am not quite as talented as those in the videos above...

So I just made a chant:

We've got a test that we must take
But it's gonna be a piece of cake!
We have a HAT on the top of our head
As soon as we get out of bed
Our Support is never late
To Do Excellent Always Cooperate
Then when we're done we will see
Never leave without your AT & T.

Sound off - get a 4!
Sound off - get a 5!

Bring it on down now,
We write!

This chant reflects the organizational pattern that I taught my students:

See how the introduction spells HAT?

Then in the support we have TDEAC = To Do Excellent Always Cooperate

Finally the Conclusion:  ATT = AT&T because the last thing you grab before you leave home is your cell phone.  :)

And then of course, we will have some Lucky Charms because food is always inspirational to my special needs kids!

Fingers Crossed!

The Countdown is on!

FCAT Writes (our state's standardized writing test) is in one week!  


My special needs students' attitudes range from apathetic to angry about the test even though I have been doing my best to pump them up.  Which gives me an idea....

Do you remember these characters who want to "Pump YOU up!"? 

My kids will think this is funny - but of course they are boys and middle schoolers!  :)

You can guess that my week will be filled with "pumping up" for the big test!  I'm thinking of making a "Top Ten Reasons Writing is Important" chart with the kids, doing some exercises to help them with brain freeze, and anything else that seems kooky and fun to make the test feel more "do-able".  I'll post those things (if they work) later this week.

And then I had another idea....

I made these little study guides that are the size of a task card with the organizational pattern and other tips for a persuasive essay on one side and an expository essay on the other side.  

I am going to give these away as a freebie this week!  Just click on any of the images above.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Freebie Fridays

A Peek at My Week ~ 2/10/14

I am happy to link up with Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for A Peek at My Week!

This is what will be going on in my Middle School Special Needs Language Arts class:

My week will be spent guiding my students through the writing process as they independently write their own short stories.  This is culmination of at least 9 weeks worth of instruction using the SpringBoard curriculum.

Last week we planned a short story together as a class using an infographic I made and a picture from the book Tuesday.

I took this "map" and created a graphic organizer for them to use:

You can get a copy of this for free by clicking on the image above.  

Then, since this is meant to be an independent assessment of their learning, I gave each students 3 "Ask A Teacher" tickets.  This means they may ask me or the paraprofessional 3 questions and 3 questions only.

You can get a copy of this for free by clicking on the image above.

To help inspire the students, I am hanging little Valentine goody bags across the front of the room. Each time a student demonstrates academic focus,  I am going to drop a little treat into his/her bag.

I plan to give the students their goodies on Friday after they have completed all the steps of the writing process.  This way we can celebrate our hard work and Valentine's Day at the same time!  :)

Hope you have a great week!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Easy Vocabulary Review Game!

Here's a quick and easy way to review vocabulary in Middle School!  #diy #teaching #languagearts

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to review vocabulary, here is a low-tech idea that my Father passed on to me during my first few years of teaching:

Tic-Tac-Toe !

Ok - it doesn't sound earth-shattering but it really works in getting the kids up, moving and engaged!  This is how it works:

1.  Draw a tic-tac-toe board on the whiteboard.

2.  Divide the class into 2 teams - the "x" and the "o" team.

3.  You decide which team goes first.

4.  Let's say it's the "x" team - each student on the team takes a turn answering a question and the first student is "up".

5.  The student is asked a question.  If they give the correct answer, they get to put the "x" on the board for the team.  If the student gives the wrong answer, the other team gets a chance to answer.  

6.  Go back and forth between teams with each person on the team getting their own question and the first team with 3 in a row wins!

My Tips:
 - You could play several games and keep track of which team has won the most games to determine the "ultimate winner".  
- Consider keeping a  board that shows the wins throughout the year.  (My middle schoolers love having "bragging rights".)
-  Consider giving the winning team bonus points on a test/quiz.  

I have almost exclusively used this game to review for spelling tests and/or vocabulary tests but you could easily use this for any concept being taught and it requires very little prep!

Thanks for stopping by!

Want more great ideas and members-only extras?  Join the Teacher Troop today!

Tried It Tuesday - Infographic

I am happy to be linking up this week with Holly for Tried It Tuesday!
This week my students and are planning a short story as a class to prepare for the Embedded Assessment next week.  
Our textbook is called SpringBoard and it lays out all the steps in black and white but tends to be a bit overwhelming for my Special Needs students.  So I decided to make this:

It was made using which was super easy to work with.  

I had first tried piktochart but has a lot more free templates to choose from than piktochart.  Plus has more options for graphics and placement of text.  It just seemed much more user friendly.  I made this chart in about 1/2 an hour. 

Now throughout this week and next, I will display it as our "checklist" for our short stories.  I may also even print it out so the students can have a copy at their desks.  There are so many possibilities - it could also be used by students to create an assignment.  We'll see!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you'll drop me a line to let me know you were here. :)

Building Character in Middle School

Do you incorporate social emotional learning into your class?  Then these ideas are for you! #activities #lessons

Once upon a time, I would share five things from the past week that I did in my class.  This particular point in time was when I found myself focusing on character to help with student behavior.  Read on to see how you might incorporate some of these ideas into the social emotional learning in your classroom.

I use this chart to track progress on the skills we are learning in our middle school language arts class.  #anchorchart #criticalinformation

We have been working on narrative elements this last marking period and are just about ready for our Embedded Assessment.  This chart is a nice way to track the skills we have been learning and to make sure we are "Good to Go" for the assessment.  Of course, being "Good to Go" requires some honesty on the part of the students...which leads me to my next item:

It's important for middle school students to remember who they are and what they stand for to help them regulate their behavior.  #socialemotionallearning

I asked this question of my students to help them realize that their actions need to match who they are.  This led to a great conversation about character traits and how one's behavior is important!  Students hadn't really thought about what their behavior communicates about them.

I like to give my middle school students visual reminders of their character to help them make good choices.  #socialemotionallearning #activities

Then we listed our own character traits on our own "ships" as reminders of who we are and what we stand for so that we can be sure to steer ourselves to positive destinations!

I am also planning on giving away tickets to students who demonstrate their positive character traits on their ships.  Once students have saved 20 tickets, they can get a treat from my "store".  I have been inspired by the scratch off and QR code tickets at Head Over Heels for Teaching so maybe I will see how I can incorporate them too!

Since we are working on focusing the students on their words and deeds, I'm going to connect Random Acts of Kindness to the students being able to get their "ships" to their destinations.  

So I made these cards that list various acts of kindness that students will be asked to do instead of saying or doing the not-so-nice things they have been trying to get away with.  I also hope this sparks some motivation to do positive things in general!

I hope you found some ideas to boost social emotional learning in your classroom!

Thanks for stopping by!