New Year's Linky Party

I have been coming up with new ideas to use in my classroom as soon as we return to school from Christmas break. I have uploaded January Journal Topics to make it easier to keep my students' journals organized. Today, I uploaded It's a New Year Writing Activity to help my students brainstorm goals they would like to accomplish this year. This is a freebie, so make sure you head to my TpT store and grab it to use in your classroom!

I was still in search of more ideas to use. I stumbled upon Ms.M's blog Teaching is a Gift and learned that she is hosting a 2013 New Year Linky Party. Yay! There are additional resources there that are so wonderful. You definiely should head there and search through those resources.

In addition to the 2013 New Year Linky Party, John Hughes of An Educator's Life is hosting his "Share the Wealth" Saturday linky this Saturday. By visiting both of these blogs, you will be able to scoop up plenty of resources and ideas to use for ringing in the new year with your students.

2013 New Year Linky Party

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope that you spend this time making new memories and cherishing old ones, eating lots of scrumptious foods, laughing, and making merry during this holiday season. I have a lot to be thankful for, but the most important thing I am thankful for is my family. So from my household to yours, Merry Christmas!

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Let's take today and remember those lives lost, those families affected, and all the community members who have endured the horrific scenes of this tragedy. Lift everyone up in prayer and keep their memories alive.

Germs, Germs...Go Away!

How many of you are frantically cleaning your classrooms as soon as you have students leave? If you are anything like me, your hands are dry and the classroom smells like a chlorox bomb exploded!

We have had so many sweet students absent lately due to a terrible virus, the dreaded flu, and strep. It seems like everytime we turn around, someone else is getting sick. Because my students change classes, I find myself constantly wiping down desks, doors, the pencil sharpener, and markers all day long. Because I feel like I am cleaning as much as I am teaching, I have put some new practices into my classroom:

1. Before the end of each class, I hand the first person on each row a wipe. They wipe each desk down while the others are lining up. If more wipes are needed, I give them freely!

2. I have a door wiper! This saves me time to do some last minute things in class. I usually choose a student whose behavior was good and who looks like he/she needs to get up and move around for a minute.

3. I assign a homeroom student to wipe down the pencil sharpener and another student to wipe down the "community" pencil cup.

4. I handle wiping down the markers for the SmartBoard and dry-erase markers.

5. I have hand sanitizer available in three places in the classroom, and encourage its use.

6. And finally, I preach to the students about washing their hands and the proper methods of covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze.

What are some ways that you keep your classroom as germ-free as possible?

This past week, my little girl had the flu. I have stayed home with her because she needed me and I just could't bear to leave her with anyone else as sick as she has been. My house has undergone a major deep cleaning. It needed it! Now, we are germ-free, fever-free and ready for the weekend!

I hope that each of you have a wonderful, fun-filled weekend!

Cyber Sale Going on Now!

Who doesn't love a great sale? Going on right now, you can find thousands of resources for you to use in your classroom or in your home with your children. I have uploaded some new center activities for the holiday season. Click on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and take a look at all of the great products on sale. All of my products are 20% off, plus TpT is giving another 10% off. What a great time to stock up on some great resources!

Teachers Help Teachers

Teachers Help Teachers

I Need Help

As I was watching the news footage of Sandy sweep through the Northeast last week, my heart went out for all of those affected by such as powerful natural disaster. I thought about what I would do in their shoes, how I would conduct myself, how I would pick up the pieces and move one, what it would take to provide for my family, and many more. Then, I began to think about all of those kids who would miss their daily meals and encouragement with schools being closed. My heart just broke (and still does) for all of those affected.

I read on the forum where LauraJ was organizing a wonderful project: Teachers Helping Teachers. It did not take another thought, and I immediately signed up for this worthy cause.

If you are an educator and have online materials that you would like to donate please go to Teachers Help Teachers Blog Article and donate some of your wonderful resources to help the teachers who lost everything get some much needed resources.

If you are an educator and in the affected area, please go to I Need Help section and fill out the information so you can receive some great donated resources.

Let's all say a daily prayer that all electricity will be restored, rescue teams can continue doing their fine work, all flooding stops, and the people can begin to rest easier at night. Have a wonderful weekend!

Spooktacular Sale

Ghosts, goblins, and witches, oh my! Who doesn't love Halloween? The changing of the seasons, the pumpkin carving, the candy, oh the candy! For a teacher, Halloween can sometimes be a challenge, but you are in luck. You will be able to find some tools to use to make this week a little better.

It's going to be a Spooktacular Sale!. Jennie from JD's Rockin' Readers came up with the fabulous idea to have a sale on Wednesday, October 31st...Halloween!!! She invited all those who wanted to participate to join in the fun to do so.

Drumroll please...My Teachers Pay Teachers Store will feature all items 20% off for October 31st only. So spook on over to my store on Wednesday and get the items you would like for a discounted price. Be sure to check out JD's Rockin' Readers Blog to see who else is having a sale, too!

I hope everyone has a spooktacular week! Are you looking forward to all the candy as much as I am?

Fetching Water

This has been an exciting week so far! We began a new novel called The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. It is a story about a 14-year old girl whose life has been drastically changed by the Taliban. Her family once lived in a lavish home complete with all of the modern ammenities. Now, they live in a 10 x 12 one-room apartment with a cupboard and two toshaks. Parvana, the main character, has the chore of getting the water for the family. This is no easy task. She has to take a bucket, walk down three flights of crumbling stairs, walk down the road, get water in the bucket, walk back towards her home, up the flight of stairs, and finally pour the water into the basin. She does this six times in order to fill up the basin.

In order to give a students a glimpse into Parvana's chore, we did a little activity. I got a 5-gallon bucket, put water into it (not completely full because I knew there would be mess on my hands if I filled it all the way to the top). I set up two cones, not too far apart, but far enough that the students would have to work. I lined my students in a line so all could see the person carrying the bucket. The students carried the bucket to the far cone and back to the start. This is all it took for them to realize how fortunate they are and how difficult Parvana's task must have been.

Below are some pictures of a student in my class. I gained permission from his mother to use him on my blog. I love the first picture because he is truly deciding what is going to be the best way to carry the bucket without losing any of the water.

And, of course, the students wanted me to perform the task. I willing did this because I think it is important to participate in the activities I ask my students to do. They loved it!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

Like a Child on Christmas Morning!

Good morning! I went to bed last night with many things on my mind, but one that I was excited about was my new blog design. Megan has been working on getting all of my information together, and I knew that last night would be the night she would load everything. So, when I woke up this morning, I immediately turned on the computer to see it! I was like a child on Christmas morning!

I love it! It is definitely cuter and more visibly appealing than the design I had before. I would like to thank Megan from A Bird in Hand for all of your hard work!


Who doesn't love finding fun, innovative freebies that you can use with your learners? I know it is an awesome feeling when I stumble upon freebies. Well, you don't have to look to hard this time! Notebooking Nook is hosting a Fab Freebie Friday where you can find fabulous products for FREE!

I am participating in this FAB FRIDAY FREEBIE. The product I have linked up for free is a mini-unit full of math and literacy activities to use with the book Llama Llama Misses Mama. Little ones love this book! I know I have probably read this one hundreds of times with my daughter. By clicking this LINK, it will direct you to my TpT store to download the mini-unit for free. If you like it, please make sure you leave positive feedback. Also, follow my store to by notified of new products that I post as soon as they are posted.

Make sure you check out all of the other fabulous freebies that are available! And if you are not already, make sure you follow Notebooking Nook's blog!

Happy Fall!

October has arrived, and with it comes the start of a wonderful holiday season. I like the changing of the season, the smell of football (yes, football) in the air, the sounds coming from the high school marching band's afternoon practices, and getting wood ready to build snuggly fires. But best of all, I like that when October arrives, Halloween comes, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a brand New Year! I love holidays!

I have several items in my TpT store that would go wonderfully with your fall activities in your classrooms. One is tailored to elementary school (called Fall Activities {Math and Literacy Mini-Unit}), one that is tailored to middle school and high school students (called Halloween Writing Prompts), and one that can go anywhere in between (called Ghostly Nouns {Common and Proper Nouns}).

If you are teaching a special unit on Christopher Columbus be sure to check out Christopher Columbus {Math, Literacy, and Writing}. There are fun activities to use in your classroom that your students are sure to love!

What is your favorite time of year?

The Science Penguin $25 Gift Card

The Science Penguin blog is hosting a $25 gift card raffle. Why? Just because it is Halloween! Visit The Science Penguin for your chance to win! Follow the instructions for your chance to win. Good luck!

The Outside City

Welcome to the Outside City

We recently completed our novel study of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. If you have never read the book, it is a must! The students absolutely get into it, and never want to stop reading it once we begin. After reading the novel and completing all of the assignments and assessments, the students created their own "Outside Cities" using the names of the characters as the street names. Each business, shop, venue in their city had to be named using characteristics from the characters in the novel. The students loved coming up with names, and they were very creative, too!

Some of the examples of places of business the students came up with are Bob's Bling Jewelry Shop, Muscles by Dally, Ponyboy's Book Club, Two-Bit's Comedy Act Nightclub, Cherry's Sunset Grill, etc. I had a wonderful time walking aroune the classroom as they worked in their collaborative pairs on this assignment.

Below are a couple of examples of the projects. One is of a group of boys drawing their Outside City on poster board. Let me tell you, they took great pride in their artistic abilities. The finished product was absolutely wonderful! The other picture is of a group who decided to make an edible Outside City. They did a fantastic job, and all of the other students in the classroom loved it!

The Outside City Project is not in my novel study because I got this activity from a former collegue. However, my "The Outsiders" Novel Study Bundle has everything you need to teach The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Included in the bundle you will find the novel study guide complete with handouts and assessments, a "Talk is Tuff" Journal that has a journal prompt for each chapter, a PowerPoint Presentation to use while teaching the novel, and a review game to use prior to giving the final assessment.

If you are looking for some fun, spooky activities to use in your classroom during October, be sure to visit the Spooky Linky sponsored by graphic artist Graphics From the Pond. Here you will find over 45 activities to use. The activities range from early childhood literacy through upper grades literacy and math. Hop on over to see what wonderful activities await you!

Below is the item that I uploaded to the Spooky Linky. It can be purchased for $2.00. It is a wonderful activity that allows the students to practice spotting common nouns and proper nouns. It is called GHOSTLY NOUNS. It works as a center, and it also contains a handout for students to complete individually as classwork or homework. I hope you have a spooktacular time looking through all of the wonderful resources!

"Flipping Through Native American Cultures"

This past week in my 8th grade social studies class we learened about four Native American Cultures: the Paleo-Indians, the Archaic, the Woodland, and the Mississippian. One way that I always use to teach these cultures is to have the students create a flip-book of the cultures with characteristics that go along with each culture. The students enjoy making the flip-book because it is different than just writing down notes from the SmartBoard. It also serves as an excellent study tool! If you have never used a flip-book in your classroom, try it.  Your students will love it! Happy Monday!

Neil Armstrong- A Mini Unit

When I heard the news yesterday of the passing of one of America's most famous astronauts, I immediately went looking for resources to use in my classroom this week. I found a lot of articles, but not many activities to use with my students. Alas, I decided to create a mini-unit. If you are looking for a way to incorporate Neil Armstrong into your lesson plans this week, check out the Neil Armstrong Mini-Unit on TpT.

Fun with Expository Writing

Teaching expository writing, or informational writing as many refer to it, can really be fun for the students! Some of the most memorable lessons have come from writing lessons in my middle grades classrooms throughout the years. And if you can get middle school students excited about writing, well, miracles have taken place! 

What is expository writing? Expository writing is any writing with a purpose of explaining or informing. Think about how many times we read informative pieces of writing during the day. It is imperative students learn how to read and write informatively. 

One activity the students absolutely love is the "how to" activity. In this lesson, I have the students divide into groups, usually three students. Each student has a specific job: reader, recorder, and time keeper. Every job is vital to the success of the group. As the group works through the activity, the jobs rotate from student to student, so everyone gets an opportunity to work each job. 

There are five different "how to" scenarios the students work through during the activity. The five scenarios I use are: 
1. How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
2. How to Jump Rope
3. How to Make Your Bed
4. How to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich
5. How to Tie Your Shoe

The scenarios are cut into strips, and the groups have to put the strips in order of how you would complete each scenario. It gets tricky for some groups because they soon realize they skip steps or don't think about steps in the process. 

Here is how a typical "how to" scenario activity works: 
1. The reader reads aloud the strips. 
2. The recorder takes the strips and places the strips in the order in which they occur chronologically. 
3. The time keeper makes sure the group stays on track and adheres to the time. 
4. Once all strips have been placed in order, the reader reads aloud the strips the group placed in order. 
5. The group makes any final changes to the strips before checking it by the key provided by the teacher. 

Generally, I allow the groups to work through all five of the scenarios. The students have so much fun with this activity. As a follow-up to this activity, they (as a group) create their very own "how to" scenario.

If you are looking to incite fun into your classroom, give this activity a try! You will not regret it! It is student tested and teacher approved! 

Mapping Georgia... An Edible Experience

Last week in my 8th grade Georgia Studies class, we learned about the regions of Georgia and various points of interest in the state. On Monday, I began telling the students to bring in toothpicks and gel icing because they would need it to take a they could eat! This really sparked their interest, so they immediately began bringing in the requested items. On Thursday, I gave each student a handout with a map of Georgia. I told them this would be the size of their exam. I also told them the regions and various points of interest I expected them to know for the test on Monday.

In the past when I have used this activity in my classroom, I put the students into groups of four students per group. This year I decided I wanted the students to complete this activity individually. I knew it would be a little more preparation work on my part, but I wanted to experiment and try it out this way.

On Sunday, I spent several hour in the kitchen. I made a wax paper template of the map of Georgia (from the handout I gave the students). I used my grandmother's old cookie recipe (1 box yellow cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of oil). I mixed the dough and then spooned some onto a large cookie sheet. Then I used a rolling pin to smooth the dough. I used the wax paper template and traced the outline of Georgia in the dough. I removed all excess dough and repeated this process until I had several cookies on the pan. I baked them in the oven for approximately six minutes.

I continued tracing and baking until I had all of the cookies I needed. I also had a lot of help from my four-year old daughter who loves to help bake! Once all of the cookies were baked and cooled, I put a cookie for each student on its own plate. I then stacked the plates and put them in containers for safe-keeping. Then I waited until Monday morning to arrive!

I distributed the "cookie" maps to each student. They were given labels to make location flags with their toothpicks. This was the first time I printed out the labels for them, and it worked so smoothly.

Once their location flags were assembled, they were able to begin dividing their "cookie" maps into regions. The gel icing works best for this because it goes on smooth and isn't too thick.

Below are some pictures of a couple of my students' edible maps. They had fun taking this test! Not only were they showing their knowledge, but they were creating memories that will go with them forever.

I had to work quickly to get around to grading each "cookie" map before they devoured them. On their way out of the classroom, one of my students said, "This is by far the coolest thing we have done!" Score a point or two for me today. We will see what else I can develop to keep their attentions this year!

If you teach about Georgia and are interested in the handouts I used, click HERE to go to my TpT store. It has the handouts for completing this activity as a group or individually.

"Let Learning Light Your Way"

As the 2012-2013 school year begins, I am reminded of all the many reasons I became a teacher in the first place. I enjoy children. I love learning! I love teaching! I have just completed my first full week with my students (yes, this blog entry should have been posted a week ago!). It has been a week full of getting to know my students, their interests, and testing the waters to see how the classes are going to flow this year. As I said in a previous post, I am teaching some new curriculum this year, and I have some classes that I have 100 minutes with and some classes that I only have 50 minutes with. It is taking even more planning and prep time to assure that I have my lessons tailored to fit everyone's needs: mine, the students' needs, and the allotted time.

This year, our school-wide theme is "Let Learning Light Your Way." On the students' desks the first day, they received a black bag with a lightbulb attached with the theme on it. Inside their bags were pens, pencils, erasers, and some candy to help them get through the day.

All in all, it has been a wonderful first week of school. I am going to play with my PreK daughter and then get back to some more planning.  I hope that each of you have a great school year with a lot of successes! I will leave you with an acronym that I am going to put into play this year:

                                                               L = listen and love
                                                               E = educate, engage, encourage
                                                               A = accelerate and activate
                                                               R = rigor and research
                                                               N = no excuses

TpT Back to School Sale

BTS 12 250x125

It's here! It's here! The big "BACK TO SCHOOL SALE" is here! Get your shopping carts ready because on August 12-13th, you can get some really great teaching products at discounted prices. Most sellers will discount their stores up to 20% off, and then if you use the promo code (BTS12) you get an additional 10% off. Now is the time to buy those products you have been eyeing. I know there are quite a few I can't wait to get my hands on, too. Check out my store. I will be adding some additional products and units through Saturday. Happy Shopping! 

Christmas in July!!!

That's right! I am throwing a "Christmas in July" sale. I linked up with Elementary Matters blog, who is hosting a Christmas in July sale. I thought it was a wonderful idea, especially with so many teachers already back in school and so many teachers gearing up for the beginning of another great school year. My personal TpT store will go on sale Wednesday, July 25th! Please go browse and pick out something you like for a discounted price. And have a merry Christmas in July!

Update: The TpT site has been down since midnight for maintenance. When the site comes back up, I will allow my Christmas in July sale to go through tomorrow, July 26 for those who would like to purchase products at a discounted price.


New Freebie Added on TpT!

I have been busy getting myself psyched up mentally to begin a new school year. While in the midst of everything, I have also been creating more products to add to TpT! A lot of my new products are not really "new" because I have been using them in my classroom for some time now. However, I have just put them in presentable form for other teachers to use in their classrooms. My newest product is a free product that students love! Click on the link below to get your copy of "My Summer in Tweets." Please leave positive feedback on the product under ratings. Also, be sure to "follow" my TpT store so you will be the first to know when I post a new product. I have quite a few more that will be added in the next two weeks.

My New Schedule

I am so excited! I received the confirmed schedule for this year, so now I know exactly what I will be teaching! Yay! Let the planning begin!

At the school where I teach, we are very unique. So what we teach sometimes changes. We never know from year to year what we will teach. One could look at this as a negative aspect of teaching where I teach, but I choose to look at it as a positive. I get to try my hand at various subjects and grade levels without leaving the comforts of my hall. And it helps me stay current with the subject areas I am certified to teach.

This past school year, I taught 7th grade reading and 8th grade language arts. While it was fun to teach, I have missed teaching social studies. But this year, I will teach 7th grade reading/language arts combined, one 7th grade social studies, and one 8th grade social studies course. I am excited to get to teach social studies again! I love using hands-on activities for social studies and bringing history to life for my students. This will be the first year in many that I will not teach 8th grade writing. While I will miss this course, I know that I can use my teaching to prepare the 7th graders to be wonderful 8th grade writers.

I am looking forward to this school year! Now, if I can just get busy planning!

Reflection Time

I am back from our family vacation. I definitely needed it so that I could unwind, reflect on this past school year, and get my mind focused on tasks that I want and need to accomplish this summer. Here are some thoughts from my reflection:

1. Spend less time worrying! If you are anything like me, I worry all school year. I worry about my students learning the material. I worry whether or not I am presenting and teaching the material in a manner that my students understand and retain it. I worry about end-of-the-year test scores. Why? I know it seems silly, but I feel that if my students do not perform well on the tests, then I have not done my job. I realize it is only one day that they take the test, and that there are 179 others days the students spend learning, but I still worry. I worry about some of my students when they go home at night. I want them in a safe, nurturing home with food, loving parent(s), support, and encourgagement. I know these environmental factors are out of my control, but I love my students and want them safe. I am vowing to not worry as much about things that I cannot control.

2. Listen to my students more! During the school day, it is easy to get swept away with all the things that "need to get done" that when a student comes into my room during planning time, I catch myself half-listening. This is horrible! I need to do better. Obviously, when a student chooses to enter a teacher's classroom during a break, my ears need to be very attentive.

3. Stay positive! There are times in the school year when I feel that the atmosphere turns from a very positive place to one where negativity begins to creep into the picture. If I see this happen this upcoming school year, I pledge to divert the negativity back to its rightful place (not in my atmosphere) by trying to be the positive light for others.

4. Have fun! I love teaching my students! I refuse to let worry and negativity impact my ideal job. I will plan fun, creative lessons that both the students and I will enjoy. When kids have fun learning, they are more apt to actually learn the information and be able to use it later in life.

What are some of your reflections from your school year?

TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale


Who doesn't love a sale? It is time to celebrate teachers! Teachers Pay Teachers, along with many TpT sellers, are teaming up to offer you some incredible deals May 6- May 8, 2012. ALL items in my store will be discounted. Plus, if you use the promo code TAD12, you will receive an additional percentage off. It is going to be great! Make sure you load your TpT basket full of all of the items you would like ahead of time. That way all you have to do from May 6- May 8 is checkout with great savings! Visit my store today!

Happy shopping!


Teacher Appreciation Jackpot

Teachers inspire. Teachers create. Teachers motivate. Teachers encourage. Teachers love. Teachers give. On Sunday, May 6th we are having a Teacher Appreciation Jackpot for all the teachers who inspire, create, motivate, encourage, love, and give. It is time to celebrate you!

This Teacher Appreciation Jackpot will give teachers a chance to receive one free item from my Teachers Pay Teachers store and from the TpT stores of all who are participating. I will choose an item from my TpT store with a value range of $3 to $8, but I will not tell you my choice until late Saturday night. Please feel free to view my TpT store and make suggestions as to what free item you would like me to offer. I cannot make promises that item will be the one chose, but I would love your input. Simply click on "Visit My Store" on the right hand side on my blog. It will take you to my store.

For those wanting to get in on the action this Sunday, make sure you have a TpT account set up so that you can began downloading and shopping when you wake up on Sunday morning! Because the event is going to be so huge, the grade levels have been divided into three groups. My grade level is 7-12, but if you are interested in other grade levels, see these host sites.

PK - Grade 2 - April McNair on A Modern Teacher

Grades 3 - 6 - Laura Candler on Corkboard Connections

Grades 7 - 12 - Adrianne Meldrum on The Tutor House

At the bottom of this post, you will see all of the blogs that are participating in the Blog Hop on Sunday for free TpT items. These are for grades 7-12. This is going to be so exciting! Tell your friends and fellow educators about this wonderful opportunity. Visit my store to try to determine which item I am going to give away on Sunday! Happy browsing! See you on Sunday!

I am going to tell you the item that I am making FREE in my TpT store on Sunday, May 6th only!!! It is a brand new novel study that I have created based on the new book by Jeff Hirsch called The Eleventh Plague. The regular price is $7.50, but Sunday only it will be absolutley FREE! If you teach language arts, your students will love this novel. I highly recommend it. Please leave some feedback on my TpT store after you download your novel guide and look through it. Also, if you have any suggestions on how it could be better, please feel free to email me at The link below will take you to my TpT store for your free download. Thank you for this opportunity, and thank you for following my blog and TpT store. Have a great day!


Christine's Big Giveaway!!!

Christine with "The Crazy Pre-K Classroom" blog is having a wonderful giveaway. Once she reaches 100 followers, she is giving away a free unit to all of her members. ALL of them! What a great idea! To become a follower of The Crazy Pre-K Classroom and get a free unit, simply go to her blog and read the post about it. Follow the directions and you are on your way to earning a free unit that is too cute!

Career Shadow Day

Today was a fun, exciting day for our 8th graders. They were shipped out into the "working world" as soon as the attendance was taken this morning. I was lucky enough to get to go visit some of our students out in the various businesses that allowed our students to come into their places of business and get their feet wet. Some of the places and businesses the students were placed at were dentist offices, hair salons, local hospital, EMS, local newspaper, vet's office, computer programming company, two local pharmacies, welding shop, automotive collision center, construction, police department, probation office, physical therapy office, feed store, and several others.

Our school counselor distributed a survey to the students several weeks ago. The students were to complete the survey so that we could get some idea of their career aspirations and try to place them in a place similar to their desired future career. I know that she worked very hard trying to make those placements so they would best fit each individual student. They showed up to school this morning with smiles that were trying to hide their fears, but they returned with smiles of confidence.

Upon arrival back at school, they were ALL so excited. You could hear their stories floating throughout the air. They were all extremely happy that they were able to go shadow professionals in our community, ask essential questions about the business/occupation, and receive hands-on experience at the job. Any day you have that many students excited is a great day in education!

Teaching Diversity All Year

At the beginning of each school year, I have the students create their own personal banner. We do this on the first day of school. Instead of going over more rules with my students on the first day (because they hear the same ones from every teacher in the middle school), I do a fun activity with them to break up the sitting and listening. I call each student to an area in my classroom and take each student's picture. This works great, especially in middle school, because they all come dressed to impress on the first day in their new clothes and new hair-dos. While I am calling each student for their "own personal photo shoot," the other students are designing their banners. One one side of the banner, the students design the banner with his/her name, photo (to be added the next day), and any creative designs and colors they choose. On the other side of the banner, the students list their goals for the school year and list the ways they are going to accomplish those goals. 

The following day, I bring their printed photos and they glue them to their banners. I laminate the banners so they will last all year, and so they will be as good as new when the students take them home at the end of the year. They absolutely love this!

Next comes the task of hanging and displaying these banners. I use fishing line and paper clips, and they work wonderfully. Depending on the number of students I have, I divide the banners equally so that they balance out the classroom. Anyone who witnesses me hang these banners knows that it is an act of love for my students!

There are a several of reasons why I chose to do this activity with my students year after year (although there have been years that I swore I was never doing it again because of the workout my arms get from hanging them).
  1. They provide my classroom with a wonderful display of my students' faces smiling at me and greeting me every morning when I walk into my classroom.
  2. The banners are a daily reminder of the goals each student made for the academic year, and it keeps them on track when I simply point to the ceiling.
  3. The banners teach diversity, individualism, and tolerance. All of my students are unique individuals, and for at least one time during the year, they are able to be themselves on paper. They are not worried about what others think; they are simply letting their individuality shine.
  4. Last, but not least, the students enjoy them and love having them in the classroom all year. I have students in lower grades ask me all the time if they are going to get to do the banners, too.

If you would like to use this activity in your own classroom, visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I think it will definitely be something that you find enjoyable!

These banners can also be used during the beginning of the second semester when the students come back from break. 

New to Blogging

Today I am embarking on a new journey, one that I hope to be fun and encouraging. I have always thought about starting a blog, but like most things, I just continued to put it off due to time and life. Being an educator opens the door for many opportunities and items to talk about in a blog. I promise that I will never use real names of any of my students. If there is a name listed, it is definitely an alias I have given him/her to protect his/her identity.

My first post most definitely needs to be about my experience in education. I have been teaching for ten years. I have seen MANY changes in education in my ten years, but I am sure some of those changes will make other posts in the near future. I began teaching 7th grade reading and social studies. I was at that school for two years before going to the high school. I made the move to teach high school because I was the cheerleading coach and made the move because of that decision. I taught 11th grade United States History for three years. During my third year teaching 11th grade, I told my husband that I missed my middle school students. He looked at me like I was crazy, but said that if that was what I wanted to do then I should. So I expressed my desire to go back down to the middle school level to a teaching friend of mine at another school. It was almost instant. A position opened up at a school that afforded me the opportunity to teach middle school again. I have been there for five years now and love it. I now teach 7th grade reading and 8th grade language arts. I also teach two advanced content classes. I am glad to be "Right Down the Middle" because I know that teaching middle school students is where I am supposed to be!

I am married and have a sweet little girl. I enjoy reading any book, running, dancing, going to the beach, and spending time with my family and friends. I look forward to blogging and hope that I can keep up with it all.