Host a Teach-In to Celebrate Earth Day!

Earth Day ♥ Earth Day is a wonderful celebration, and perhaps your school is extending activities for more than one day.  But, we all want every day to be Earth Day!  That’s why extending Earth Day into a “teach-in” is a great way to end the year. What’s a Teach-In…Sounds Hippy-ish Get out your love beads, fringe vest, headband, and hop into the wayback machine!  Teach-ins were part of the 60s protest movements that also included sit-ins.  Started in university settings,… Read more »

Refresh your semester with these three ideas!

My favorite yoga teacher, Melanie, likes to say, “The left side is the side of wisdom.” Meaning that after you’ve held that grueling series of poses on the right side, you are now going to hold them on the left…and you know what’s coming!  Calling it “wisdom” instead of “dread” is certainly a more positive attitude! This month’s teacher talk topic is about how the second semester of school is like “the side of wisdom.”  We know our students, we… Read more »

Use a Writing Scheduler to keep writing projects under control.

Remember September?  When the school year stretched out before you — lots of time to do lots of teaching. Then, suddenly, it’s January.  Testing (might be) looming in the near future, you have a pile of standards to get through…why are there so many daily distractions that keep us from teaching content material?!  And let’s not even talk about flu season! If you’re an ELA teacher, you may be looking at the modes of writing your students need to master… Read more »

An easy way to organize writing projects.

There are a few things you can count on for January:  resolutions (made and broken!), the flu season, and ads promising ways to (finally) get you organized. The organizational promises are the ones that are always so tempting.  Who wouldn’t like their closet/garage/pantry to look like something worthy of Pinterest?! Classroom organization is no different.  Keeping track of handouts, extra copies, lessons, books, student work… Today I want to share just one, simple organizational technique I’ve used with great success.  It involves… Read more »

Fun writing activity to keep students engaged during the holidays.

It is difficult to keep students’ interested in content material during the holidays!  That is something we can count on! Lisa’s awesome blog post about reindeer stories shows how using an engaging topic can get students excited about writing. My favorite middle school writing prompt is:  Dear Santa, Please Take Me Off the Naughty List.  Students begin with a problem:  they are on the naughty list.  They must convince Santa that they don’t belong there by: 1) addressing the problem 2)… Read more »

Practices to put in place that will help your classroom run like clockwork

The time period between Halloween and the end of the year is probably the most challenging teaching time in the classroom.  Classroom management strategies that worked at the start of the year may not be as effective.  Your students’ minds quickly move away from content material to the bulletin board that counts down the days until Christmas (whose idea was that?!) or the Elf on the Shelf  or the gathering snow clouds out the window (“I saw a snowflake!” Class… Read more »

When I was in middle school, I remember the excitement of hearing my teacher proclaim dramatically that today we would do “Creative Writing” as if it were a magical, once-a-year event (which, unfortunately, it was!).  I loved “creative” writing so much that I wrote my own stories at home.  Sure, school had plenty of writing practice, but it was reports, papers, essays…nothing that captured my attention like “Creative Writing!” Hopefully in today’s classrooms, “creative writing” isn’t something that we do… Read more »

You can and should teach poetry all year! Here is how.

T.S. Elliot may have written that “April is the cruellest month,” but January through March can be pretty ruthless!  Snow days interfere with the flow of your class and students feel antsy if they can’t get outside because of wind chill factors.  Not to mention that anything happening outside the windows of a middle school classroom is infinitely more interesting than what’s going on inside:  “I see a squirrel!”  (All students rush to the window.  Lesson over.) A fun quick… Read more »