How many times have you heard statements like this:

“You teach middle school? You’re a saint!”

“I could never teach reading and writing — especially not to middle school kids!”

“What were you thinking?”

“Oh. My. Gosh.”

It’s true — our job is challenging. Middle school students are a different breed of learners, which means middle school teachers are a different breed of educators!

Add to that the complexity of teaching reading and writing in the middle grades — and it becomes clear that this is an important job, but also a very challenging one.

If you find yourself feeling a little shaky, overwhelmed, or intimidated by the task of teaching writing and reading, you’re in the right place.

You’ll find help here!

Who’s behind “Just Add Students”?

Hi! I’m Marypat — the person behind “Just Add Students.”

About me -- you can find out here!

I created this blog and resource shop to help teachers like you who may be struggling with teaching reading and writing to upper elementary and middle school students.

You are working hard to become the best teacher you can be, and you need help and support to get there.

That’s where I’d like to come in — to support you in your journey to be the amazing teacher you were meant to be!

I believe that anyone can teach reading and writing skills — and more importantly, students can learn to be successful writers and readers. These are not gifts someone is born with — they are crafts that can be honed and practiced.

And – it is so exciting to see our students grow. Middle school is the perfect time for students to read to learn and write to discover!

I have been a classroom teacher for over fifteen years and have been mentoring teachers for over ten.  My experience ranges from fourth grade to college, but the majority of my time has been in middle school teaching ELA.

My goal is to help teachers like you who are looking for ways to teach writing and reading — without taking on the exhausting task of more grading, planning, and…more grading!

What can you find here?

Do you want to teach poetry, but aren’t sure how to get started?

Are you new to teaching writing or want to explore using writing workshop?

Wondering how to teach types of writing?

Are you looking for ways to implement book clubs or literature circles?

Do you need help planning your curriculum or developing a yearlong plan?

Additionally, you can find professional development videos that dive into some tricky teaching strategies.

Other popular posts include:

You’ll also find a variety of free teaching tools in each post and in the freebie mall that will help you get started.

If you need ready-to-go resources, check out the items in my shop.

You can also find and follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

Why I’m so glad you are here

One of the most disheartening things is when I learn that a new teacher is leaving the classroom.  It just breaks my heart that good people who start the year with excitement and energy are burned out after a year or two.

I think of Emily Dickinson’s poem “If I can Stop One Heart from Breaking” — only it’s more along the lines of “If I can Stop One Teacher from Burning Out”!  With that in mind, I try to make posts and products that have everything a teacher would need to teach a reading or writing skill — lesson plans, rubric, graphic organizers, keys, checklists, student examples, and anything else I can think of!

My goal is that you will be truly able to “just add students” — and focus on the things you LOVE about teaching and our middle school students.

Because, you have something valuable and unique to add to the classroom!

I hope you will feel free to reach out to me. You don’t have travel this journey alone!

With gratitude for all you do,

Marypat from Just Add Students

You can email me directly at: Marypat@

6 Comments on About Me

  1. Marypat,

    Thanks for sharing your amazing ideas. As I look ahead to year 25 in my middle school ELA classroom, I am inspired by your enthusiasm and fresh ideas. I have about 5 more years in my journey, but I still love my kiddos and love finding new ways to teach!

    • Thank you Sarah! I appreciate your kind words! It’s wonderful that you are still looking for new ideas and methods for maximizing your time with your students — that is the sign of a master teacher for sure!

    • Thank you! It’s a pleasure working with you! Your students are lucky to have such a caring and charismatic teacher!!

  2. I am quite moved by your professionalism, your expertise, and your willingness to share. What is really impressive is the quality of your site and the care you have taken. Thank you for doing all of this. I know my students will benefit.

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