Upcycle school supplies to create a fun notebook or journal.

    The end of the school year is wonderful and exciting …except for the waste. Rather than having students chunk their partially used notebooks into the recycling bin, have them upcycle them by creating new notebooks.  Students can create their own reading journals for the summer! Earth Day was just a few weeks ago, so students just need a gentle reminder that one of the 3Rs is “reuse.”  This project can reuse a cardboard box (like a cereal or… Read more »

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 »

Create a fun journal jar for your students.

A journal jar is a great way to offer students choices during writer’s workshop or journaling time. I’ve always loved using a journal jar.  In the past, my journal jar consisted of topics written on strips of paper and stuck into a jar.  Students could pick a slip, glue it to the top of their journal page, and write. That was great except that I had to remember to replenish the jar.  Even though it sounds easy, it was one… 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 »

Why should you teach poetry all year? The whys and hows are all here!

If you love National Poetry month and feel sad when it’s over, consider teaching poetry all year! I’ve written a guest post for Rachel Lynette’s blog Minds in Bloom that includes ten reasons why you absolutely should teach poetry all year — and seven simple ways how to do it. My favorite strategy I like to just share a poem with students by reading it and asking them what their favorite part is…and then moving on to our lesson of the day! It’s… Read more »

http://middleschoolmob.blogspot.com/2015/10/use-notes-from-your-teacher-to-simplify.html

Ready to Simplify Grading? Are you ready to put away your red pen?  I use a simple tool that helps me simplify grading and increase the the productive time I spend with student writers. I wrote a guest post for the Middle School Mob blog on using my “Notes from your Teacher” product to help speed up grading and create differentiation in your writing workshop. Pop over there to read the post and leave a comment as well! Hoping you… 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 »

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”4″ gal_title=”freedom”] After finishing the last post about how a writer’s notebook differs from a writing journal, I was thinking about how choice is so important to students. It’s difficult to allow students to choose what to write when we have to teach a narrative, a persuasive essay, an argument, comparison contrast, etc. etc. Not to mention, students need to learn how respond to a timed writing prompt. It is often easier to just give the assignment and move… Read more »