A yearlong plan will help you teach (all the) writing; it will save you time and energy — and help you remain accountable for what you’re expected to teach this year. The yearlong plan – your map Your district or school may provide you with a year-at-a-glance (yearlong plan) that provides you with quarterly writing teaching goals.  That means, you’ll be provided with a list of concepts to teach and when they should be taught. Your school has provided you… Read more »

Students often struggle with going beyond the obvious when it comes to character analysis. This skill requires students to infer information from a variety of clues, but they often get stuck on superficial detail or provide only basic analysis. A fun way to help students practice analyzing characters and developing those important skills is by using short videos clips.  (Be sure to read the “Tips for Teaching” at the end of this post for step-by-step suggestions!)   Easy-to-love short films:… Read more »

Looking for a fun way to engage students?  There lots of fun games to play with your class, but this year, you might want to try hosting a Scrabble Tournament.  Great for pre-Christmas craziness and year-end excitement. First steps Your students may or may not know how to play Scrabble.  Those who have played “Words with Friends,” “Bananagrams” or similar games will catch on quickly. Students who do know how to play may not know how to play by the rules…. Read more »

6 Reasons your students should write their own works cited page (rather than use an online app)

I teach my students how to create a works cited page from scratch — or the old, fashioned way as they like to tell me.  I know there are online tools that will do that for them, and I’m thrilled that they can use those tools … in other classes, not mine. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not living in the dark ages — I love technology!  So why do I “torture” my students like this? 1.  Why is a… Read more »

organize classroom ideas

This is going to be the year, right?  The year you are really, really going to get organized!  No more paper stacks, lost copies, or overflowing file folders.  No more wondering where those thirty glue sticks are or if there are enough colored pencils! This is the year, and these inspiration ideas can help you get there!! Here are nine super easy classroom hacks to help you get (and stay!) organized! #1 Go big or go home! Check out this… Read more »

5 classic novels that middle school students will actually want to read!

What’s a “classic” piece of literature?  Mark Twain defined it as “something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” Those words might ring true when you sit down to read War and Peace  or Moby Dick, but what about middle school classics? Modern Classics in Middle School A classic includes enduring themes, relatable characters, and a compelling plot.  It’s a book that feels fresh when we read it multiple times (don’t make me confess how many times I’ve read Pride… Read more »

5 terrific historical fiction books for middle schoolers -- and how to get them to read 'em!

How do you use historical fiction? If you’re in a self-contained classroom, using historical fiction is a natural connection with your social studies content.  It is an awesome way to build background knowledge and help students make strong connections. But what about me? I don’t teach social studies.  I do know what our social studies teacher is teaching, and I try to share historical fiction titles that connect with the time period they are studying. I also use historical fiction as… Read more »

Here are 5 book series that are sure to be a hit with your middle schoolers

Hey!  Happy to see you at this week’s Summer Reading Stash!  Today we’re sharing books in a series that have memorable characters.  But the real challenge is to pick just five series!  A difficult task since there are so many wonderful series written for middle schoolers. Teachers know series are serious Series are important business when it comes to keeping middle school students reading.  Reluctant readers love them because they are easy to slip into.  Students don’t have to invest a… Read more »

How to get middle school students interested in nonfiction.

I’m excited to join in the Summer Reading Stash blog hop this week  — especially since we are talking about  using nonfiction in the intermediate and middle school classroom. We all know the issues with middle school and reading.  Weaknesses in reading skills can take a toll on student achievement as we ask and expect them to read more — both in volume and depth.  But nonfiction is so tempting, so tantalizing, so dramatic…just dare your reluctant readers not to… Read more »

What are some of the best ways to create an awesome teaching team? Here are seven tips to help you and your team collaborate and thrive. Don't forget number 4!

Teaching teams are wonderful.  They offer an opportunity for teachers to collaborate, share, problem-solve, and create friendships that extend beyond the school building. That’s the theory, anyway.  They can also be dysfunctional, negative, ineffective, and destructive.  The truth is that great teaching teams just don’t happen — they must be intentionally created and nurtured. Whether you are returning to your old team, joining a new one, or welcoming a new member, keep in mind the following tips that will help… Read more »