March Book Madness!

Are your students as obsessed as mine with March Madness?

Well, since my principal asked us to try to inspire our students to read more, I thought why not combine their love of the sport with books? 

I began by choosing the "Sweet Sixteen" book titles.

Then, in class, I had a book pass with the "Sweet Sixteen" books.  Afterwards, I  conducted a "draft" and everyone was assigned a book from the display to read.

Now, a month later, students turned in summaries and they will be read aloud on Friday.

Next, students will write one argumentative body paragraph to tell why their book is better than the one they are up against.  

Finally, we will vote and move the books into their new brackets until we have a BOOK CHAMP!  :)

I have this all written up & you can get an editable copy by clicking {here}:

Thanks for stopping by! 

A Product that Saved the Day!

There's a big sale a'comin' and since I enjoy a good sale as much as anybody, I'm joining Fifth in the Middle for...

Which of my products saved the day, you ask?

Well, I am not sure it completely "saved" the day, but it seems to have been just what someone needed!

This is a reading comprehension questions and answers game that reviews the four story elements of setting, characters, plot and theme of this novel.  

I typically have used these cards to play "Jeopardy" but they could also be used to play "Zap".  

I have also recently been in the process of updating my novel game products to include cards without answers already printed on them so you can play "Scoot" and "Scatter" too.  :)

And on February 25th, you can get this game (and any of my many other novel games) for 28% off with the Promo Code from below:

Thanks for stopping by!

Sparking Motivation ~ Finish Strong!

Well it's testing season again and in Florida we will have the new state writing test in just about a week.  I feel a disturbance in the force - the students seem to be gearing down for this test instead of gearing up.  

So we are busily preparing for what we need to bring in to the test with a GAME PLAN:

This past week we focused on working an argumentative prompt out and next week we will use the process on an informative prompt.  

Then the day before the test we will have a big review game - I 
may even try to put it on Nearpod.

However, not knowing if Yoda's words are cool enough for my middle schoolers to get the job done, I also found this:

I like the idea of "Finish Strong" and think I will use that as a hashtag on the board, on handouts, on our door, on the desks and anywhere else I can think of!

Here's hoping I can get my padawans revved up!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Secondary Smorgasbord ~ February Funnies!

Special thanks to Darlene Anne at ELA Buffet and Pamela at Desktop Learning Adventures for organizing this hop!

So it was my first year back in public middle school after teaching 6 years in a private school.  I was excited because I was going to teach students with Special Needs and I really felt this is what God intended me to do.

It was "Meet the Teacher" night and various students had come by to introduce themselves.  Some were quiet and awkward, some parents warned me their children were "runners", and one just walked up to within 3 inches of me and just stood there staring.  I politely welcomed her and she left.  

I was starting to wonder if I had made a mistake taking on this kind of assignment.

Then "Dan's" Dad came in the door.  He shook my hand and  sighed as he told me that Dan would be in my class.  
"And where is Dan?" I asked.  
Dad turned toward the door and hollered "Dan!  Get in here!"

And this is what I saw:

I thought I might just die.  
I am sure my eyes were as wide as saucers and all I could think was "What have I gotten myself into?"  I cannot remember exactly what I said to Dan's Dad but it was probably something like 'what an interesting greeting'.

Dan was a piece of work, that's for sure.

Thanks for stopping by!

Valentine's Day Blog Hop 2015

There's lots to love this time of year, right?  Well, I'll just keep it to these "fast five" things.  :)

I really love lesson-planning!  I enjoy looking for (and/or making) prezis, videos, games, craftivities, foldables and on and on to see what I can do to make a lesson really stand out and be interesting!    
Many things I create and use with my middle school students end up being a product that I will place on TpT because I know it works!  :)

Right now, I have a LOT of boys in my 8th grade ELA classes, so I have focused on trying to tap into their sports interests with football themed writing ideas.

This suits my need for creativity to a "T"!


Have you ever noticed that restaurants are super crowded on Valentine's Day itself?  We have and for many years we waited and waited even with a reservation and had some very negative experiences as a result (people getting tired and hungry - not a good combo).  
So now we get our taxes done on this day and save the eating out for another one. 
(We sure do seem to get in and out of the tax place easily!)

So I read on a TpT Forum that the next conference is July 9-10, 2015 in Las Vegas.  Living in Florida, this might be quite an expensive trip, but maybe I can stay with a friend and get a cheap flight?  

I just think it would be so very surreal to meet so many of the men and women behind the many blogs I read.  Then I imagine learning so much and being incredibly inspired to do more with TpT.  I get excited just thinking about the possibilities!

The post is called:

Very Important Info About Your TPT Free Downloads!

Here I read about how to leave feedback for your freebies the easy way!  
I know how important feedback is for sellers and I have wanted to leave feedback for many of my freebies, but have had trouble trying to back track to do so.  

Now it's NO trouble because there is a tab under "My Purchases" that lists the free downloads you have actually downloaded!

This image from Ideas by Jivey:

I am so glad to know this information and will get busy leaving all the love for my freebies!

Thanks for stopping by!

Secondary FREEBIES!

There are two things we know for sure… 
1 - Teachers are busy! 
2 - Teacher-Authors at Teachers Pay Teachers are working hard to make teachers’ lives easier! 

And here’s the proof… Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy, and Lindsay Perro have worked to compile 4 FREE ‘Can’t Live Without It’ eBooks filled with 120 instant print-and-teach resources for all you busy teachers out there! 

The eBooks profile middle school and high school teacher-authors and include printable teaching resources from 30 TpT stores in each eBook. 

The eBooks are categorized for ELA, Math, Science, and Humanities (Social Studies, Art, Foreign Language, and more ELA). In them you’ll learn things that each TpT teacher-author can’t live without and you’ll receive a 1-page resource they think YOU can’t live without! They’re made especially for all of you and you can check them all out here: 

My contribution is an ELA resource for writing an informative essay:

Enjoy!  :)

An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for stopping by!

February Pick 3 Pinterest Linky

Looking for some inspiration?  Then you have come to the right place!

Special thanks to Pawsitively Teaching and the Inspired Owl's Corner for hosting this great linky!

Now on to my Top 3 Picks!!

Source of pin
Pin link {here}

Every student writes one thing they love on an index card and then the cards are put together to make this "Wall of Loves".
What a great middle school Valentine's idea!  I would will add a big red heart behind all the index cards!

Source of pin
Pin link {here}

This is right up my middle schoolers' alley!  I thought about setting up an actual class Twitter account and then thought about how it might be difficult to track responses and then there might be objection from parents so I think I may just have to stick with paper unless anyone can offer me some organizational suggestions!  :)

Source of pin
Pin link {here}

Scales are everywhere, but this one seems so much more useful and concrete because this gives students something to compare their writing against.  
 So I took this pin to heart and have come up with this Writing Rating for writing sentences in our expository writing:

I think I may also create a Writing Rating for body paragraphs....stay tuned!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Resolution report card - February

I am happy to link up with Mrs. D at The Third Wheel because this is a great idea to check in on one's resolutions!

Here is my report card on my resolutions:

It's never done and one of the last things I want to do after a long day at school.  I did, however, tackle a mountain of it yesterday!  Still, I am by no means staying on top of it.

Stress Less.
The observation system and all the Special Needs paperwork can be overwhelming.  I have done a pretty good job at "letting it go".  (pun intended)

We steam veggies a few times a week, but I still can't get them into my son.  I have the Sneaky Chef books, but no time to implement them.

Posting and Blogging.
I have not quite kept up with the number of posts (it was benchmark testing crazy at school), but I have kept up with my commitment to posting new products.  

This month, I posted my "How to write an argumentation essay" product.  If you have special needs students in your general education classroom, chances are they need very structured, step-by-step instruction on writing argumentation essays and this is for you:

And, if you would be so kind as to leave feedback, I will give you a copy!  Just leave me a comment and your e-mail! :)

So, while my report card isn't completely horrible, there is plenty of room for improvement.  We'll see how February goes!

Thanks for stopping by!  Head over to The Third Wheel to link up!

Interactive Notebook Activities for Secondary Grades

I'm happy to link up with Mel and Gerdy to share the interactive notebook activities that I have created!

I teach general education Language Arts in 8th grade, but since I am also a Special Needs teacher, I seem to get a fairly heavy concentration of students with special needs.

That means I usually have to break concepts down into very structured steps.  Essay writing is no exception and that's how PROS was born!

To teach the components of essays, I knew I had to be strategic.  First, my boys LOVE sports.  IF I could connect writing to sports, I'd be able to hook them.  Plus, it makes the components easier to remember!  

As I taught the different components, I added a piece to the visual display.

Students have a corresponding flipbook in the their interactive notebooks to record their knowledge:

Then to specifically address the organization of the essay, I created this:

My students need a pattern to follow in order to be able to write essays as it is not enough for them to understand the components without a road map.  So, we learned the organization by first going over what should be in each paragraph with Cornell notes, then read some texts and used interactive notebook foldables to practice identifying and creating parts of paragraphs.

This product has an interactive notebook foldable for the introduction, the body and the conclusion (not to mention the texts, Cornell notes, checklists and graphic organizers).

So maybe you teach all advanced students or maybe you have some students that really need structure.  If you're like me, then this might just help you!

Thanks for stopping by!