Celebrating with a Spring in our Step Linky and Giveaway!

I have a big spring in my step for being able to participate in this great linky and giveaway sponsored by PAWSitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner!

You have the opportunity to win THREE BIG prizes!

First prize:  $100 Amazon Gift Card
Second Prize:  $75 TpT Gift Card
Third Prize:  $50 TpT Gift Card

That's enough to put some Spring in your step, right?  And all you have to do to earn one entry is follow me on TpT!  :)  
(There are ways to earn more entries below.)

My biggest milestones professionally have been to reach over 200 followers on Bloglovin' and Teachers Pay Teachers as of this date.  I have enjoyed being part of a few giveaways and special events such as this one.  :)  This has inspired me to attend the TpT Conference in Vegas this summer so I can reach even bigger milestones!  

Now I have to figure out what to bring...

This Spring my classes and I will most definitely be celebrating when testing is over!  I plan to tie this to our book project and have a sundae party!  As they complete each stage of the book project, they will earn a "piece" of their sundae.  By the time we finish the project, we will have just about finished testing and the school year!

As I look back on this school year, there are definitely a few things I will do differently next year now that we have some experience with our new state tests under our belts.  I know I will work on the "writing game plan" I came up with right from the start of the year as well as my newest "reading game plan" (see below) :) .

My Spring Freebie is my new "Reading Game Plan".

I have found that my students know their skills but then become overwhelmed by "the test".  So, to help them stress less and perform better, I came up with a "plan of attack".  By this I mean, I made a step-by-step plan for how to approach the test.  This little freebie provides three posters/anchor charts and foldable to match to help them manage the test so they can be calm enough to remember their skills.

So that's the Spring in my step - now for the Giveaway part!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for stopping by!

Freebie Friday ~ State Reading Test Game Plan

This week, I have been on Spring break!  I know that when I return we will be in "crunch time" for the two weeks leading up to our big state tests.

I found that when we took our writing test, it really helped my students to know how to approach the test.  Yes, they had learned how to write, but "the test" seemed overwhelming.  They needed a plan to manage the test itself.  So I put together a step-by-step "game plan" so they could stress less and remember all the good writing know-how in their brains!

So I took this same concept and created this:

There are 3 posters/anchor charts with ways to tackle the test along with a foldable.   Having steps to follow keeps my students calmer so they can remember the reading skills they know by heart.  

I am giving this away as a freebie to help all my fellow teachers who are getting ready for their state reading tests too!  
I hope it helps!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sparking Motivation for Reading - Part 2

We have just finished the third 9 weeks and now I am on Spring Break!

This gives me time to ponder our 4th quarter reading project and the responses I received to my reading project questions.

Question #1
"What would motivate you to read?"

Choosing books we like
Gift Cards

I certainly want them to pick books they like and I think I can work in prizes - but gift cards?  Well, that's middle school for you, I guess.  I am not sure what I can come up with that would be as motivating as gift cards...

Question #2
"What kind of project would you like to do?"

Be creative and make a poster/collage
Use technology.

I am all about creativity and using technology would be great.  However, since we are entering test season - we will literally be in testing mode from April 13 - May 22 - the technology will be all tied up.  

So...what to do?  I am thinking about this:

Students can create a blog page on paper using this great FREE resource I found on Teachers Pay Teacher by Darlene Anne or create a live one with their own device!

They can be creative and use technology or at least their knowledge of technology with any book of their choice.

Then, for each stage of the project, they will earn one part of a sundae.  After all the projects are done, then we will have a sundae party - it may not be a gift card, but it is a good prize if I do say so myself and a perfect way to end the year!!  

Now I'm off to nail down the details for each stage and sundae part.  I'll share what I come up with next week!

Thanks for stopping by!

TpT Test Prep Giveaway!

Are you preparing for your state's BIG TEST?  Then you might want to check out this super giveaway!

There are three prize packs you can enter to win!

Yes, that's me in the picture above!  What am I giving away, you ask?  My "Acing the Big Test" book, of course!  :)  It's an inspirational story complete with all kinds of reading skills review.

See a full preview of every page in this book by clicking {here}

How do you enter?  Just visit http://languageartsclassroom.com !

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

Secondary Smorgasbord ~ Incredible Kids!

My story of Incredible Kids had a very opposite beginning.  

I was teaching in an affluent private school and had a classroom of 6th graders that were rather self-centered.  Everything was about being better than the other one and getting all the attention.

I was so upset that kids this young could be so self-absorbed.  I knew I needed a plan to work in their hearts, so it wasn't long before I came up with the idea of paying it forward.  

I took all my students to a local assisted living and paired them up with a "grandfriend" for Veterans' Day.  They went with questions to ask and a small gift to give.  I didn't really give them a rationale, I just told them we were going on a service learning trip because I wanted to experience to happen and then come back to that in the end.  I wasn't sure how it would go, but it was worth a try.  

Now here's the incredible part:  When we got back on the bus, the students were all buzzing about their new "grandfriends" and instead of trying to one-up each other, they were genuinely affected by how gentle and kind their "grandfriends" were as well as how knowledgeable they were and the fact that they seemed lonely.  They were beginning to think of someone else!  Then one of the kids said "When can we come back?" and everyone else said "Yeah, when?" and I think I just about cried.  

What we did was host a BINGO lunch for them at our school in the dining hall and invited them to campus every chance we could to be judges for our speech contest or talent show or whatever we could.  It soon became a right of passage for my sixth grade classes to "take care" of the "grandfriends" to the point my class one year actually held a 100th birthday party for one of the residents. 

Those were some of the best experiences I have had in my 21 years of teaching.  I absolutely wouldn't trade them for the world.

An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for stopping by!

Sparking Motivation for Reading

I teach 8th grade ELA and at our school, Language Arts classes are required to read at least one book per quarter and complete a project.  

Getting kids to read is like trying to walk uphill, in 10 feet of snow, barefoot.

I tried to make it fun by creating a whole "Book Madness" theme based on the concept of the Basketball "March Madness".

This has been more successful than anything else I have tried, but there were still quite a few students who didn't read their book. 
(You can read more about  how I conducted "Book Madness" by clicking {here}.) 

So now we are down to the last week of the third quarter and I think I am going to ask the students to anonymously write down one thing that would motivate them to read.  Then I will see if I can use that information to create a theme/project that gets EVERYONE reading during the 4th quarter!

Stay tuned - I'll share the responses I get next Saturday!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Big Test Prep ~ Vocabulary Freebie!

 Here in Florida, we are gearing up for our new state test:  The Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).  

It promises to be a challenging test that is rumored to be similar to the PARCC test.

Fortunately, they have posted the test item specifications and I have gone through the 8th grade ELA document very carefully to note all the question stems and critical vocabulary.  After pulling out all the challenging words, I made this for my classroom:

And it's a freebie for you!  Click {here} or on the images.

I know my students need to understand these words in order to understand the questions and have a chance at being able to accurately answer them.

So now what will I do with these, you ask?

I plan to reveal these words 10-15 a week and play a few games with them.  All the purple "cards" are the terms and the orange "cards" are the definitions.  I plan to put all the purple cards on the wall and then randomly put all the orange cards on the desks and have the students match them up.

Then I think I may also use the cards to play a vocabulary relay.  I'll put the students into teams on one end of the field and all the cards on the other end.  Then it's a relay race to see which team can make the most pairs!

Lastly, I will be placing all the words on Quizlet.com so the students can practice with them there independently and prepare for a weekly quiz.

What other ideas do you have?  I love new ideas!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wordless Hump Day Wednesday with a Celebration!

This is going to be an almost true Wordless Wednesday as I simply want to give a Hump Day Highlight to my very creative friend Deb at Crafting Connections and invite you to join in the celebration of her 5000 TpT followers!!

The giveaway runs from March 3-7 with different prize packs each day!  

Good Luck and Thanks for stopping by!

March's Top Pinterest Picks: Test Prep Fever!

Mnay thanks to Pawsitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner for hosting this linky!

For me, March begins "testing season" - we have our first state test (the writing test) on March 3 - today!!

Then we have the remainder of the month to prepare for the state reading and math tests.

Since I teach ELA, my students and  I will be reviewing for the reading test for much of March.  
Sooooo, my top Pinterest pins relate to test prep for reading!

Source1, Source2, Source 3

Ok, so I know this is actually 3 pins, but they are all related to vocabulary.  Each one offers some great words with which to work and ideas for practicing with those words.  What is especially good about these pins is that all offer ways for engaging with the words!  This is huge for me as I want to keep things as lively as possible to make vocabulary feel more like a "want to do" rather than a "must do".


This is a great pin for setting up test prep review centers with tons of ideas!!  I still use centers in middle school and contrary to popular belief, the students really like them!  Even though the centers from this pin revolve around 4th grade, they give me some great ideas for my own centers.  Luckily, I do have quite the stash of task cards!  Plus, I like the way Lisa gives her review a fun Hollywood theme to give it that something extra.  :)


Last, but not least, are some more engagement tips for test prep!  I am all for making test prep as fun as possible.  Sometimes, I think the kids just hear me say "Womp, womp, womp" like the teacher on Charlie Brown so whatever I can do to chase away the "womps" is just what the doctor ordered! 
I especially like the ideas of using whiteboards in a game show fashion and of students making their own flipbooks to review various concepts!

Well, that's all for me - I would love any comments relating to test prep fever or even just a note to let me know you stopped by.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!