Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Purge

I have been teaching for 17 years and like many of you who have been at it for years, I have collected numerous books, units, games etc. My colleagues always tell me "You are so organized!" and in my head I think to myself "if you only knew". The other day I was working in my room and realized that I am "neat", not necessarily organized.  I have all of my files color coded to match that grades textbook (7th red, 8th green, 9th orange), I have set organization for classroom procedures, and of course gone digital and rely heavily on my clouds.  Yet I still felt like I was looking for stuff all the time.

Then I realized I just had too much stuff that I don't use. We all go through our closets every year (or two) and purge our belongings. We hold yard sales, and donate things. Teachers on the other hand, tend to find neat ways to hoard their stuff.  

So do schools in general. I am getting some much needed, and very expensive, new textbooks. I asked what to do with my old ones and they want to box them up and store them. Why they are not on their way to the dumpster is beyond me.

I started with books, literature sets, and units that I no longer teach and set them on one side of my room in rows like a yard sale. I then went to the elementary librarian (I am in the high school)  to announce that there were free books in my room at the end of their faculty meeting. Within one hour (no exaggeration) everything was whisked away. It was amazing! Someone mentioned Ebay, and I will admit I have made some decent money there selling teaching units and Big Books, but I felt that route was too time consuming. Plus, I feel better when I can help other people out rather than making a couple of dollars.

After that I took a trash can over to my shelves and started checking out binders. I did not even open them. If I did not use them last year I pitched them. I freed up two more shelves! It was liberating!

Monday I am going through the filing cabinets, No extra copies. Nothing that I have not used in the last two years is going to stay! I have people asking me if I am retiring, others probably think I am gravely ill, but the truth  is I am on a quest to truly get myself organized. We purge our homes, our bodies, even our emotions. Why not our classrooms? Take a deep breath and let it go, literally..

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In a Million Words or Less.....

This is a homework activity that I give my seventh grade parents at open house every year. It really helps me to connect with my kids right away. Parents seem like it and often share valuable information. I always send a thank you note back to the parents that participate wether it be by snail mail or email! In it I include their grade for completeing the assignment, which is always an A! (I'm blonde not stupid) I have updated and loaded this FREE activity to my TPT store.  Just Download it and insert in your information. This activity really gets my year off to a great start. I hope it does yours too.

You can down load your free copy here: In a Million Words or Less.....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Interactive Notebook Activities for Your Whiteboard

I love doing ISN's in my classroom!  However, sometimes I find myself explaining several times what I want on the left side due to multi-step directions. . This year I decided to create a PowerPoint of the various activities that I had into one PowerPoint so I could provide them with a visual.  This is a collection of fifty different activities to use in social studies or ELA . I am offering this as a FREE resource in my TPT store. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment and don't forget to follow me if you haven't already.

To download this FREE product click HERE

 I also have a document version and you can download it HERE

Sunday, July 21, 2013

That's My Pencil!

Last year I went through over 350 pencils! That's more than three pencils for every student in every class! It has gotten out of hand and I'm not going to take it anymore. So I say........

The fact is I am a softy when it comes to students asking for paper, pencils, and other supplies.  I am also often asked for supplies from kids working on projects in other classes and will try to help them. However, it has become so bad that I feel a little abused.

If you are a teacher and are planning on doing a project that requires colored pencils, construction paper, glue etc..... don't rely on other teachers to supply your classes, and if you do get the goods make sure to return them.

Sorry about the rant, but I must admit I feel much better. I did see a pin on Pinterest  of a cute way to mark your pencils so I made some. I bought the Zebra pencils at Mardel's and put red tape flags on them. Will it work to keep my pencils in my classroom? Who knows but they are easy and cute!

Let me know if you have any ideas on how to keep your classroom supplies from walking out the door. Maybe one of those detectors like they use at Walmart. No, they go off way to often.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas and don't forget to follow me.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Free Plot Diagram Posters

Hello everyone! This girl is finally getting back to teacher mode. It's been a great and productive summer, but now it is time to think about the classroom and all the things that that need to get done. I thought I would start by giving away a free gift to my fellow teachers.

Every Year I start with short stories and elements of a plot, genre, etc... One of the projects I assign is a plot diagram over an Accelerated reader book they have read. I have had this listed in my TPT store for $3.00 but am giving it away FREE to my followers. This activity includes student guide, teacher guide, and grading rubric!

Just click on the link below to get your free copy.
Free Plot Diagram Project

Here are some examples from my students:

This is really a great alternative to the traditional book report. If you use it let me know how it went and don't forget to follow me! 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Free Wet and Water Punch Cards

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer break. I know I sure am. So much so that my blog has been very neglected. As I attempt to get back into the swing of things, I thought I would share a little freebie. 

This is a templet for the punch-cards I use in class.  I laminate the cards and put them on a ring to hang by my classroom door. When a student needs to go to the restroom they find their card and bring it to me to punch for them. This was a great way to keep track of and limit the number of times students leave the room. 

My students are allowed to leave five times per semester for the restroom or get water.  Since they have time between classes, and are allowed to go in other classes this was more than enough passes. students who had unused punches got a piece of candy for each punch they did not use.  

This freebie  has five different colors and eight cards per page. It is in Word format so you can edit for your particular needs. You can download it free in my TPT store. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Academic Vocabulary

I am working on converting some of my activities to the Common Core standards. Today I completed the first vocabulary activity that I will work on with my kids. This is only Part 1 and is over definitions.   These items are free in my TPT Store or you can get them from My google drive below.

You can get a copy of this PowerePoint activity and the answer key  by clicking HERE.

This set uses the same words but students will need to use context clues to get the correct answer. To download this version click HERE

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Movie Segments for Warm-ups and Follow-ups: Freedom Writers: Teaching

Movie Segments for Warm-ups and Follow-ups: Freedom Writers: Teaching

Monthly Journaling Pages

My Freshmen are using  monthly journaliing pages, along with other activities. I do not know who the author is but I know they were beautiful and free. I have received several responses about these so I am re-posting. 

 I simply give my kids the page and check for completeness at the end of the month. I used to give them a prompt everyday and make them write it, date it, and write a half page response. With these I set no requirements, which threw them at first, but I simply explained that it was their journal and to do what they thought needed to be done. I could tell they thought I had lost my mind, and I wasn't sure how this would turn out. When I went to grade them I couldn't believe how much work my kids had put in to their journal pages! Full pages of poetry, illustrations, recipes, stories, etc.... Giving up control and letting them take over has been one of the best things I have ever done.

These make good activities for the interactive notebooks. Next year I plan on having a "grab a snack and write Fridays." This will allow them to share some of the recipes they have found or shared. This should be fairly quick to do, and can lead to other writing activities, i.e. writing critiques, responses, memories, etc...


         Here are the links to the other pages:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bust Out the Games and Have Some Fun!

I know that the entire school year is a busy time, but I always feel overwhelmed at the end of the year. Testing, purchase orders, field trips, grades, inventory, packing, collecting, and storing all have to be done before we close our classroom doors.

 We also have classes to teach, but after testing the kids tend to become whiny and don't want to work. With only a few weeks left, you are probably assigning projects and reports to keep the kids on track. Me too. For me it is also time to bust out the games and have some fun!

I am working on posting, creating and updating some of my games and will be posting them here over the next few weeks. They will also be posted in my TPT store for free. I hope some of you can use them to trick those kids in to doing a little end of year thinking.

BOGGLE - is similar to the original game and can be downloaded in my TPT store by clicking HERE


The Noun Game- This is one of my kids favorites! It is is a flip-chart format that I use with my Promethean Board. I highly recommend it if your looking for a fun and engaging game. I have written about this game before and you can find the full details in my October archives. To down load it from my google drive click HERE.

Brain Games #1- This is a PowerPoint of twenty-five brain teasers of various levels and subject areas. My kids (who say they don't like to think) love these. I guess the jokes on them! To download click HERE

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are We in Trouble?

We all occasionally have to miss a day of school due to illness, workshops, or for personal matters.One of my pet peeves is when I come back and find out that my kids did not behave well for my substitute teacher.  Having substituted during my college years, I truly understand how very difficult that job is. I tried everything from work overload to threats to get my kids to behave themselves, and nothing seemed to work. I really can't tell you why kids go absolutely insane when they find out their teacher is away, but we all know they do.

For the last three years, I have offered a Reward Day to the best behaved class and the winner is chosen by the substitute teacher.  I usually let them choose from one of the class games I have on the whiteboard such as The Noun Game, Scrabble, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, etc. What's great is I can actually slide in some review and they don't even realize it!

Since I have started this practice of the Reward Day, I have received many complements on how "good my kids are" and  "what hard workers they are". Seriously, it's like a trip to Bizarro World! Try it! It really is great to come back to class and have the kids ask if they were the "best behaved" instead of "Are we in trouble?". 

Monday, March 4, 2013

More Interactive Notebooks

Today I have just a few pictures of how some of my notebook activities are coming along.  So far with language arts I have found that it is easier to just go page to page when you are reading a novel. Novels can go so fast that I had a few blank left side pages. With mini-lessons the left-side, right-side activities work the best. I guess it just depends on your preferences, and what resources you are using.

 I have purchased many quality reading guides from TPT at great prices. Some of my pictures are not flipped up or do not show all of the pages in the book in an effort to not step on any toes.

This has definitely been a learning process! My kids suggested that I write the page number on my handouts before I copy them, then if the pages don't get glued in immediately, or they are absent, students can still figure out where to put them. Genius!!! I will be compiling a list of their suggestions at the end of the year. I think they will have a lot to teach us!

I teach 7th, 8th, and 9th ELA so the pics are a little random.

Flocabulary lesson. Kids really like this site. Check it out if you haven't already!

Road-map to nonfiction book report activity.

A Diary of Anne Frank activity that I used post-it notes with. Prompt: imagine that Anne was not the only one who kept a Diary. Write a diary entry from the point of view of The different characters to the events that happened in the story. Event 1: Anne wakes up screaming (Mrs. Frank, Mr. Dussel)
Event 2: Mr. Van Daan is caught stealing food (Mrs. Frank, Mr. Frank). Event 3: Anne has a date in Peter's room (Peter, Mrs. Frank) Event 4. Mr. Dussel joins the group (Mr. Frank, Mr. Van Daan).

Characterization Activity

To Kill a Mockingbird reading guides. for these I temporarily stopped the "left side, right side"
and just went on to the next page.

Outsiders reading questions and venn diagram.

To Kill a Mockingbird map activity.

Urban Myths and Legends activity

Awesome Facebook activity created by Tracee Orman! Kids loved it! Her templets are high quality and I highly recommend them.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Kids Should See This!

Something a little different to get your kids writing. This is a very interesting website that has short educational videos.  They are science related but I think they would make good journal starters by having them write a response to what they just watched. They would also be a good filler for that class that has a few minuets left at the end. Just click the link below to take a peek.

Human Strength and Courage

Getting prepped to do a wrap-up to my Diary of Anne Frank unit with a quick research project. We are going to be reporting about genocide that is or has happened in recent history. I have been scouring the web in an attempt to reinforce our theme of human strength and courage and found a few photos i wanted to share.

The two items below are from . This is one of my favorite blogs. The writer is fabulous and I get a lot of really funny and interesting articles to share with my kids. I highly reccommend that you check him out! Great stuff!!!

Pain is a temporary state, but if left unrelieved, becomes suffering.

Pain and suffering, whether physical or emotional, demand to be acknowledged—to be felt. 

How we deal with suffering clearly reveals the content of our character, 
and the resolve of our heart.