Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Book Fair!

I LOVE the Book Fair...I told my students that it feels like Christmas to me :) I was able to buy some new books with Scholastic Money, and some fabulous students of mine also donated to our classroom from my wish list.

It made my heart SO happy. What made me even happier was seeing the excitement about these new books!
I kept them up on the board for one day to build some suspense ;) and the next day I allowed students to check them out. There are only a few left now!

Have you read any of these books? Which ones did you love?
I'm linking up with Miss DeCarbo for Wordless Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Table Hopping: Task Cards, Group Work, and Instant Formative Assessment

Whew! That was a long title...but there are a lot of things going on in this post. I tried something new today in the classroom and I'm really excited about how it works!

I love using task cards, but I've found that with some recording sheets it's hard to really gauge what students understand and what they need help with. Also, I'm always looking for ideas to get students collaborating and moving around! Enter: table hopping!

I came across this idea in the shower, the morning of the lesson...why is it that the best ideas come at the strangest, last-minute time?

I am sure I'm not the first person to think of this, but it here we go.

Anyways, I started off with six different task cards, because I have six different table groups. We are working on Author's Purpose this week, so I used these. Since these task cards need to be the appropriate level of difficulty for a group discussion, it's best to use longer or more complex ones. However, you don't just need to use task cards for could really use any sort of problem/short answer you want students to do!

I numbered the task cards 1-6 and put one at each table group. There's #5 in the picture below...

The set up: six cards, six clipboards (with six sticky notes each!) whew!

Then, I had each group use a clipboard with six sticky notes labeled 1-6.
Depending on the task card, they needed to write the answer on the corresponding numbered card (ex: the answer for task card #5 is written on sticky note #5)

Each group was also color coded because:
a) It made me happy
b) It looked pretty
c) I was able to tell which groups needed extra support
d) all of the above :)

(answer: D!)

The groups started "solving" the task card that was at their current table. They had to write the multiple choice letter (A-D) and WHY.
When I could tell that most groups were done (or when I asked them to give me a thumbs-up), I would say "switch!" and they rotated (along with their clipboard) to the next table group.

Here's the final work! Task cards with six answers from each of the six groups!
When they were done, we compared answers! Under the ELMO projector, I put a task card and asked the table leaders to come up with the corresponding sticky note. The majority of students agreed with each other, but we had some great discussions when there were discrepancies.

Example of compared answers
I loved that this activity involved collaboration, movement, and an easy check for me to see who was getting it! Oh, and lovely color-coded sticky notes ;)

Do you have any interactive response activities up your sleeve, or ways to use task cards? I'd love to learn more?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wish List Fun!

I have LOVED relaxing during this Thanksgiving Break. We had conferences until 8:00 pm Monday and Tuesday, so this break was much needed :)

One thing on my to-do list this weekend (which is still very long, oops!) is to update my cart for the TpT sale on...drumroll please...Monday and Tuesday!

I have had a few things in my cart for a few weeks now, hoping that there would be a sale around this time :) I am in luck!

I love seeing what other teachers are planning to buy - especially middle school ELA teachers. I am constantly finding new products that I have never seen before.

Before I share MY wish list, here are a few products that other teachers have wish-listed from my little store (which will be on sale for an 20% off, in addition to the TPT 10% off code!)

Neon Chalkboard Genre Posters (just right for middle school!)

I love how these look up on my wall in my library area. Not only do they add a fun pop of neon color, but I see students referring to them for book ideas and definitions of genres. When students write a reader's response letter to me on Fridays, they need to put the genre of the book in their letter, so these come in handy!

I am SO excited about these Roll and Retell activities. So far, I have made products for both Theme and Plot. I have a few more in the works, too!

"Roll and Retell" isn't just for elementary! Students enjoy adding some "chance" the their reading responses. Simply add dice, and responding to reading becomes a game :)

Use this activity with any literature text that students have read - as an entire class, in small groups, or independently.

In this product, you will find the following:
1) Roll and Retell Worksheet (use for on-level students who are working to master the reading skill)
2) Roll and Retell Extension Worksheet (use for accelerated students to extend their thinking)
3) Full page recording page 
4) Three-Question recording page (use if you would like students to roll three responses. These responses will be longer, and only choosing three adds some extra “chance”)
5) Half-page recording sheets (use these to save paper!)

Now for my wish list! This product is actually in my cart...I can't wait to purchase it on Monday. 

7th Grade Daily Common Core Reading Practice!

I plan to use these as a warm-up for my students. It will be a great way to reinforce literature skills to make sure my students are ready for all of our assessments. The passages look so interesting, too!

Does anyone else own this reading passage set? I'd love to hear how it works for you!

I am linking up to share my 2+1 TPTCYBER ideas!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Teaching THE MEssage {freebie and an activity}

This unit we are focusing on finding the theme of our text. I'm enjoying teaching this because I think (or at least I hope!) it helps students to see the value in reading - that there are messages in the text for us to discover and apply to our own lives.

This anchor chart has been SO helpful for referring to theme. I have taught students that the THEME is THE MEssage...and is different than the topic.

The TOPIC/big idea might be friendship, but the THEME is what the author is saying about friendship, such as "true friendship lasts through the toughest obstacles".

The mini sticky notes under "topic" and the big stick notes under "theme" have been good visuals to remember that topics are just a few words and themes are a lesson that is written as a sentences.

To help students remember THE MEssage, I created this poster.

Download for free on TpT!

What else have we done to find the theme?

Awesome theme passages from ereadingworksheets. I love that these free passages have a space to write the theme and ask for evidence. There is a wide range of passages - challenging enough for my high-level students and others at the perfect level for students struggling to find the theme.

This T.H.E.M.E acronym on TpT was a great find!

Lastly, today we did THEME roll and retell. We used a short fiction story from our textbook, and students rolled the die to see which question they had to answer. This added some fun and some "choice" (or luck, I should say) with answering questions. Just add a die and suddenly comprehension questions are a game :)
Though ultimately they had to answer all of them, it mixed things up from me telling them which questions to answer.

In this differentiated roll and retell, students are all working with the same grade-level, yet challenging, text.
Students who have an advanced understanding of theme can use the "Theme Extensions" roll and retell.
Students still working on finding the message have grade-level questions to use with a grade-level text.
 I would work in a small group (still using the same challenging text) with students who are struggling to discover the theme.

If you are interested in purchasing this product for your classroom, follow the link below!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Scoop & Breakfast Cookies

I love this short and sweet link-up over at Teaching Trio!

I always enjoy seeing what other teachers still have to do and look forward to for the week!

This Sunday, part of my "scoop" was making breakfast cookies :)

{EASY: quick oats, almond butter, bananas, honey, almonds, chocolate chips, and cinnamon!}

I love baking, it's a way for me to relax and experiment with new things. I've been wanting to make a "breakfast cookie" that I could grab in the morning and would keep me full for awhile. I tried this recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction and I am so happy with how they turned out!

If you're looking for an easy breakfast idea, I would recommend these cookies!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Freebie Friday! Proud Wall Banner

In the past month, I have implemented a few things in my classroom to try to make it a positive, student-centered, and affirming place.
I hope that my students always remember how to fix a run-on sentence, but more than anything I want them to remember 7th grade ELA as I place where they knew they mattered and had confidence in themselves.

The freebie I am sharing today is the sign for the Proud Wall in my classroom. This bulletin board has three "sections".

1) Exemplary work (hung up by clothespins) - this rotates and displays work for each of my classes. When students see their work on the board, they get that little trying-hard-to-be-cool-and-not-smile smile on their faces and I know they are proud of themselves.

*these clothespins were SO easy to make.
1) I just cut a strip of washi tape in half (the tape I bought worked out perfectly to be cut in half lengthwise)
2) I placed it sticky-side down (just like regular tape) the clothespin. If the top/bottom edge hung over a little but I just tucked it under.
3) Then, I hot-glued a pushpin to the back.

2) Affirmations - I will talk more about these in detail another time :) these affirmations are the ones either written to an entire hour or ones that students have chosen to put up.

3) Miscellaneous - awesome student work (aka a song called "All About That Plot" written to the tune of "All About That Bass"), an award from our custodian for a clean classroom, a "Happy Llama Day" card made in my creative writing class, etc. I know this will grow throughout the year.

Here is the link to the chevron "Proud Wall" banner. There is neon and a black and white version. Download for free on TpT! I simply cut out, laminated, and posted on the bulletin board with push pins. If you have space in your classroom and want to try something like this, I would love for you to download the banner!

Teaching Blog Addict Freebie Downloads

I am linking up to TBA's Freebie Friday (I love the adorable new button!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

MIA Blogger Confessions

1) It has taken me five minutes to write this first sentence. 

2) It has been so long since I last blogged that I first attempted to start a new post by opening up a "new email" message.

3) Teaching is hard.

4) I know that what I do matters. That makes it awesome and even more hard.

5) I told my mom that I would write a blog post so now I have to. It is possible that she will be the only one reading this post. Hi, Mom!

6) After reading this fantastic book, I planned out enough of my time to not have to go into school on weekends for the past month. Major win!!! Working less made me less bitter/stressed and helped me relax so much more.
This is definitely one of those books I need to read again (and probably again) but so far I would call myself a "mostly-together" teacher :)
Two of my major takeaways from the book are scheduling to-do's and using one "weekly worksheet" for everything!

Has anyone else read this? What did you find most helpful?

7) I am going to really really try to post more often. If I was really a "together teacher" I would schedule time to write blog posts. I want to share more about what I am doing in the classroom...make more products...connect with more teachers. One step at a time :) First of all, I need to blog more often that every two months!

8) I will leave you with this hilarious article. It takes "stock photos" of teachers and has comments about teaching that I can only assume came right from a teacher. I love all of the apple references and #21 made me laugh out loud.

Because this is what our lives look like every day, right?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Scoop

I made it through my first week! It was awesome, really. 7th graders are great and I am excited about the rest of the year.
Of course, every day I learn something new that I have to do - I am trying my best to keep up with it all.
I left school around 5:00 each day (keeping up with my goal! woohoo!) but I spent quite a few hours yesterday afternoon and today working on school stuff.
However, a lot of it is creating rubrics, setting up the reading response letter system, laminating vocab cards for the I am thinking that it won't always be like this :) right? right.

Here are a few activities students completed this past week:

(Intsa-goal, Twitter Student Profile, and Reading/Writing Survey)

The first week at my school is all about procedures and expectations - so starting on Monday (tomorrow!) we will be getting down to business.

The first unit is all about plot, setting, and character. We will start our first whole-group short story (Seventh Grade by Gary Soto) and start diving into elements of plot.

One of my goals this weekend was to get a candy jar...I saw a few other Middle School teachers in my building had one, so I knew I needed one too :)

Starbursts - $4.00
Jar -$3.00 (at Marshall's!)
Bribing students with candy...priceless.

Really though, my plan for this is as an extra reward for students who have gone above and beyond. This week, I am offering a starburst to anyone who finds the latin root "lect" in a new word that we haven't discussed.

I am linking up with The Teaching Trio for this short and sweet (love this idea!) Sunday link-up.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Classroom Reveal/Currently

Tomorrow is the big day - my first day of school of my first year teaching!
After working really hard for the past two weeks, my classroom is finally done...I am ready to show it off!
My plan is to post more in detail about certain parts of my room once the year gets started...and once I figure out how well they work :)

But for now, here is what my 7th graders will see when they come in tomorrow morning:

Classroom curtain (no sew!!! I am going to post about it soon because I was so happy with how it turned out, and how easy it was)

Word Wall/Group Work table
(I am going to put up academic vocabulary throughout the year)

My favorite part of the room - my classroom library!
Each bin is organized by genre. I haven't marked the books individually...but I am hoping that my classroom librarians will help keep them in order for now :)

Neon Genre Posters!
I just LOVE these - definitely my favorite product I have made.
Find them on TpT here

Whiteboard with I can statement/schedule for the day
(The lefts side is 7th ELA, the right side is Creative Writing)
The bulletin board on the right of the whiteboard has clothespins for hanging up anchor charts

"Proud Wall"
The clothespins are for "exemplary student work" examples :)
Students are going to write affirmations to each other throughout the year - and may choose to post these on the Proud Wall.

View from my desk

More pictures/blogging to come :)
Thank you SO much to those sweet bloggers who commented on my last post about how to balance everything as a teacher. I am definitely planning to set limits/hours for myself this year so I don't go crazy. 
My rough plan is to arrive about 45 minutes before school starts, and stay until 5. But once I am home, I need to RELAX! I think that seems reasonable. 

I am linking up with Farley for September Currently (of course back to school is the #1 thing on my mind!)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A very busy blogger

I have been the worst blogger! I feel guilty for not writing...but at the same time I've had to cut myself a little slack. I moved to a new apartment last weekend, and have spent all week in PD during the day, then stayed at school until dinnertime to work on my classroom. Needless to say, by the time I get home all I have energy for is to lay down and eat fast food at watch netflix. Well, that seems sad...
I tried to make a crockpot meal but 8 hours on high instead of 8 hours on low made for some very charred chicken. Oops. Better luck next time!

Which leads me to do teacher bloggers "do it all" during school? I guess I will have to get my act together or this blog is going to become very barren! And we don't want that.
I can't wait to be able to show pictures of my classroom...but not until it's done. It is getting there. Slowly but surely.

I'm really excited about a few things I bought during the TpT boost sale yesterday (I impulsively made some purchases at 11pm...) But I don't regret a single one! Having more resources make me feel much more prepared. Here are the goods...

For my 7th Grade ELA class:

For my creative writing elective:

Okay, so that wasn't a rhetorical do you find time for blogging (and eating regular meals?!) during the school year?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Binder Time!

I mentioned in my "meet me" post that something I love is to organize my life into binders...haha that sounds pretty dorky once I type it out ;) but I know my fellow teachers understand!

Do you have any binders that you refer to all of the time? I think my "teacher binder" will be my go-to!

I am linking up with Miss DeCarbo for Wordless Wednesday!

p.s. I found these binder covers and spines on TpT for free here! I loved the black and white designs!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Meet Me (Middle of Lit!)

I have loved learning more about other bloggers through this link-up, so now it's my turn!
Thank you to Falling into First for the opportunity :)

This year is my first year teaching! I will be teaching 7th Grade Language Arts (and a Creative Writing elective!) I am so excited to have a classroom of my own, and I know that this year will be quite an adventure. I'm glad you are along for the ride :)

Here is me in 7th grade. Awkward? Absolutely.
I think I'll show this to my 7th graders as a humbling experience ;) 

I am the oldest of three kids (I may have been the bossy older sister...) but I also think it's made me a good leader and someone who truly cares for other people.
My Mom is a first-grade teacher and I know I would not be the teacher (or human) I am today without her support! Hi Mom! She reads my blog.
After my parents, my boyfriend is my biggest fan :) he drove me to my teaching interviews and made me feel like I could do anything! And now I have a job - woohoo!

Now you know the basics...time for Q&A...

  • Traveling, thinking about traveling, and weekend trips
(my boyfriend and I on a cross-country skiing trip)
  • Spending time on teacher blogs (really! It is definitely a hobby of mine)

  • Food! Eating delicious food, trying new recipes, browsing Pinterest for food ideas
  • Good conversation, puns, and grumpy cat memes
  • School supplies, labels, organizing my life into binders


Oh man. This is hard for me because I've wanted to be a teacher for so long! Maybe an interior designer? I went through a phase in elementary school where I had an "interior design" notebook. I drew room plans and had fabric samples and paint chips to go along with each room...I do love decorating so that would be a fun outlet for me!

Compassionate. Listener. Organizer.

"I only work 40 hours a week"...okay maybe someone has figured out how to do that, but I know as a first year teacher I will be staying after school and working on the weekends!

BUT...I definitely know I need to set boundaries for myself. I think one of the best tips I received at a conference is that teachers need to set deadlines for leaving work at a certain time and sticking to it. This article is written by the speaker I just referenced and I think it's very helpful!

Hmm maybe the Queen of England. And lots of other princesses...we could have a tea party. That sounds lovely.

"Middle of Lit"...ha the only thing I can think of is my blog name. But that seems fitting! 

I would say the ability to fly! I could travel anywhere :)

Oh this one is SO hard for me. I love quotes and words and saying.

I have this poster that says "Choose Happy." Such a simple but important message (and sometimes hard to do!)

Oh I am a terrible singer. But I do love Billy Joel so perhaps one of his songs - though that would be incredibly difficult!

A night owl...I could stay up way too late if I don't make myself go to sleep! But, I also hate sleeping in too late. That may sound crazy, but I feel like I am wasting my day that way!


My Neon Classroom Genre Posters (for Middle School). It brings together everything I love right now - texts for the middle grades, neon, chalkboard, cute fonts, and developing a love for reading in my students! :)
Click on the picture to check these out on TpT :)


I studied abroad in Ireland for a semester! I was able to be a teacher's aide in a little school overlooking the ocean. It was an awesome experience...and being able to visit London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona during my Spring Break really fueled my travel bug. I can't wait until I can visit Europe again!

Standing on Giant's Causeway

 At the top of St. Peter's Basilica

Head on over to Falling into First to meet more bloggers!