Mrs. Spangler in the Middle Shares the Best of the Best ELA Lessons!

The Best of the Best ELA Lessons ~ Pixanotes™!

It was a regular old Thursday.  You know the kind.  The one that seems like every other day.  No big deal.

Until in walked the District ELA Coach AND the School Curriculum Coach -  iPads in hand - totally unannounced.


This particular day I had planned to teach my students the ACE method for writing expository paragraphs.  I had just picked out a fun video (thanks to my son's teachers at his school) to introduce the concept and then the students would use my new picture notes I made afterward.

Deep breath.

I showed the video:

It was catchy and the students dug it.  The ELA coach and the school coach were smiling.  So far, so good!

So then I introduced my picture notes.
First, students worked with a partner and a word bank on the board to fill in the blanks.  

Pixanotes™ help students comprehend & remember more key concepts!

After a short time, I displayed the correct answers so students could ensure they had the correct information.  Next, students cut out the picture flaps to match them to the definitions.  I handed out glue once I saw the flaps in the right places.
Pixanotes™ are a blend of traditional two-column notes and interactive notebooks!

Of course, about this time, the two coaches began to circulate in the room, to see what they students were really talking about and asking questions.  I was distracted by a few students who did not seem to be able to manage the glue appropriately so I couldn't listen in.  

Soon the bell rang and it was my planning.  The duo waited until everyone had left and then...the questions began.

"Those notes are fantastic!  Where did you get them?  
"You made them?  How did you get the idea?"

First, I was thrilled that they thought my work was valuable.  Then I was excited to hear my school coach use words like "innovating" (that later showed up on an official evaluation!).

The research behind Pixanotes™!But honestly, I made them because I read that visuals cause students to comprehend and remember more than words alone. The article explains that our brains are mainly image processors rather than word processors.  In fact, it says words are abstract to our brain and images are concrete which is why we remember things like the Starbucks logo much more easily than a grocery list.

That shouldn't exactly be shocking since the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" has been around forever.  Plus, you probably know that YouTube has pretty much replaced Google as the number one search engine for those under the age of 30.

So it simply made sense to harness the power of visuals!  I knew that my school favored the Cornell style of notes but I also knew that students responded quite well to interactive notebooks.   So I put the two together and called my new creation PIXANOTES!

The best tool to record key ELA concepts is Pixanotes™!

Not only do Pixanotes use visuals, they are differentiated in 4 ways so you can accommodate short class periods, students with special needs, students learning English and even absent students!

But really, the best part was that later the coaches told me that when they asked the students questions, the students specifically referenced the pictures when answering the questions.  
That makes it all worth it!

So, since that day, I have been continually adding to the 

Get every paper-based edition of Pixanotes™ with a Growing Bundle!

Pixanotes are digital too!

Pixanotes™ have gone digital!    

Save time and help your students enjoy increasing their comprehension and recall of important ELA concepts with Pixanotes®!  

Three are more great time-savers to reach all learners where this came from!  Join the Teacher Troop to get in on the action!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing these resources! Your Pixanotes look like an awesome way to adapt and scaffold note-taking for a wide range of students.

  2. I just have to tell you that I absolutely LOVE your Pixanotes! Having students use visuals and scaffolded note taking is such a great tool to help SPED and struggling students get a concept. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and fantastic resource with us! :)

  3. Wow! What a simple but amazing idea. Since I started teaching, I really saw the value of visual options-- graphic organizers, for example. Students really do benefit from having that visual guide.

  4. Wow! What a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is so great! And I love that it has a digital option, too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love this whole story, and I'm glad your admins see how awesome you and your work are! Thanks for sharing! :)


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