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".

The "TP Pass" is one of the best ice breakers I have ever used with Middle Schoolers!

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?

TEN icebreakers + a "Get-To-Know-You" Activity to help you start the school year off right!

You could list anything you really want to know and you might just get it!  :)  If you'd like more icebreakers PLUS a "Get-To-Know-You" Activity all ready to go, then you might want to check this out --------->

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

FREE Syllabus Samples for Middle School ELA that include the time saving Student Information Sheet!

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.

The included Student Information Sheet is a huge time-saver and helpful organization tool.  How?  Well I see it as getting 3 birds with one stone:

Bird #1:  I get to introduce my reward system by offering all students a reward for turning in the information sheet TOMORROW.  (This generally results in me getting about 75% of my sheets back!)

Bird #2:  I get the best contact information from these sheets which saves me from trying to look up information that is usually only partially right.

Bird #3:  I use these information sheets as phone logs.  I record the date, who I talked to and the topic on the back.  (I do not pre-print this info on the backs because then some savvy students would figure this out and either not give me the info on the front or give me "mistaken" information.)

So there you have it!  Some of my best tips and tricks to help your year get off to a great start!

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

An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for stopping by!


  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. :)