Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holocaust Reference Book/Research Project

I don't know about all of you, but I definitely feel the need for my week off for Thanksgiving break this year!  Thankfully we only have two more days left and my students will be watching a movie about Anne Frank.  We finished the book just in time!  I was worried that we wouldn't finish before break and we would come back a week later with a few diary entries left.

Yesterday I introduced students to our Holocaust research project.  This is a project that I came up with a few years back.  I give students about 5 weeks to work on it, with 1 week of work in the classroom.  It combines research, informational writing, creative writing, and argumentative writing as well as research skills.

I've just posted the project in my TPT store, which you can check out by going HERE.

Monday, October 22, 2012

8th Grade ELA Common Core Checklist

I completed the 8th Grade Common Core checklist tonight.  I had several people that had requested it a while back and I was just able to get around to it.  You can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for $1.00.

You can get the 8th Grade Common Core Checklist HERE.

You can get the 7th Grade ELA Common Core Checklist HERE.

You can get the 6th Grade ELA Common Core Checklist HERE.

I've been working on an AWESOME Smartboard version on my Vocabopoly game that I hope to have posted tomorrow.  Stay tuned!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

6th Grade ELA Common Core Checklist

I made a 7th grade Common Core checklist for my ELA classroom over the summer and LOVE it.  I put the checklist up on Teachers Pay Teachers for sale for $1 and have had lots of great feedback.  I've also had lots of requests for other grade levels.  I was able to get the 6th grade ELA Common Core Checklist completed tonight and it is on Teachers Pay Teachers ready to go!  If you're interested, you can go HERE to take a look.

If you're interested in the 7th grade version, you can find it HERE.

I will be adding other grade levels in the next few days!

Here's a preview of the 6th grade version of the ELA Common Core Checklist.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Free Classroom Supplies!

I found a great site today where you can get FREE Elmer's glue sticks, Bounty paper towels and Puffs tissues for your classroom!  It's really easy to get the freebies, too.  All you have to do is enter your school supply list on .  This site is sponsored by great companies like Bounty, Elmer's glue, and Puff's facial tissues.

When you post your list, you will automatically have get a 2 pack of Elmer's glue sticks, a 2 boxes of Puff's tissues and a roll of Bounty paper towels mailed to you.  For every friend you tell that posts a list you will get 2 boxes of Puff's tissues AND a roll of Bounty paper towels.  Tell 5 friends that post a list and you get a SUPER box clean up kit.  The site says your kit will be "chock-full of tons of Bounty paper towels and Puff's tissues."

The only thing you need to make sure you do in order to receive a Clean-Up Kit is make sure that your list includes Puff's tissues and Bounty paper towels.  Your referrals must include these as well in order for either of you to get the kit.

This is a super easy way to score some free supplies for your classroom!  Go HERE to add your list and get your FREE Clean-Up Kit on its way!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Routine Writing Rubric

For years I muddled through grading routine writing in my classroom.  You know, all of those short creative writing prompts, starter activities, journal activities and the like?  If you've had the chance to dive into Common Core, you know that basically anything that isn't an essay is labeled as "routine writing".  Since routine writing is going to be a section of my students' writing portfolios this year, I finally decided to create a Routine Writing Rubric.

I wanted to create something that targeted the basics - formatting, punctuation, capitalization, avoiding fragments and run-ons, fully answering the prompt, as well as strong introductions and conclusions.  I also wanted it to be something fairly quick and easy to grade.  I added a comments box at the bottom of the rubric for teacher commentary, which can also be a great place to comment on skills not listed on the rubric.

I have 10 different criteria that I am looking for and 3 scores for each criteria - No Errors, Few Errors, and Many Errors.  I hesitated to put an actual number of errors for each score possible because this allows me the freedom to change what "few errors" means from one assignment to the next.

The Many Errors column still awards students with 4 points, which I believe allows for room for growth instead of complete defeat.  However, if a student had significant errors you could always leave that row without a score and award them zero points.

I made the document so that you get two rubrics per page, which will make your paper supply last longer!

I've used this for three different assignments this week and love it.  I feel like I can grade quicker, while also insuring that each student is getting a fair grade.  I hope that you feel like it might be helpful to you, too!  I've uploaded it to my TPT store.  HERE is the direct link to the rubric.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Let's make lemonade!

This year has had a bit of a bad start.  I think it's a combination of larger classes, implementation of Common Core Curriculum, furlough days (and pay reductions!), and a myriad of other things that seem to have everyone stressed.  Some of that stress hit home on my hall last week and was on a personal and professional level.  I LOVE to give and make gifts, and I thought that a couple of the teachers on my hall needed a little pick me up, so this is what I came up with.  I put a bottle of pink lemonade, a box of Lemonheads, Pink Strawberry Tic Tacs, some pink wrapped mints, a pack of gum, and a slice of homemade lemon bread into the little goodie bag.  Oh, and I knew that I better include a bar of Dove Chocolate, too!  I wrapped all of this up in a cute little clear cellophane bag that I found with the Wilton cake supplies at Walmart.  I tied it up with pink and yellow curling ribbon and attached a cute tag.  I have to say, I think it did the trick!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Argumentative Essay Peer Review - Beginning of the year version

One of the first things I like to do each year is find out exactly where my students are in terms of their writing skills and abilities.  This year has thrown me for a loop.  I teach two gifted segments of 7th grade ELA and one regular ed segment of 7th grade ELA.  I have found that my regular ed 7th graders are struggling to just indent and capitalize properly.  We worked a bit on argumentative essay writing last week, which is a bit different than persuasive, but Common Core requires it.

Tomorrow we will begin peer reviews.  My plan is to pass out the Argumentative Essay Peer Review forms that I created and have each student attempt to review 4 peer essays.  I will review each section on the form before I just let them loose to review.  I want this to be a learning tool to help students become better writers, so I feel that reviewing these concepts during the beginning of the lesson will help reinforce the type of responses and answers that I'm looking for.

Now, this is a SIMPLY peer review form.  This is no where near where I want them to by by the end of the year...or even Christmas.  However, I do want them to have a starting point where they feel successful.  So, please do not think this is all that be required of them in regards to argumentative writing this year.

If you'd like to take a look at the Argumentative Essay Peer Review form that I created, feel free to go HERE to take a look.  If you think you can use it in your classroom, then please print it and use it.  :-)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Remind101 - My personal review

I truly believe, at least I want to believe, that parents that know what it going on at school have children that perform better at school.  As a result, I'm always looking for new ways to communicate with parents to let them in on what we have going on in the classroom.  This year I found a great communications resource that I love so far.

Remind101 is a free service that teachers can use to communicate with parents via text message without  having to share phone numbers.  The process is completely "blind".  You never see the parents cell phone number, and more importantly, they never see yours.  It's super easy to get started.  All you have to do is go to the Remind101 website, found here and register as a teacher.  You will then be able to set your class or classes up.  I teach three different levels of 7th grade ELA, so the class content, homework, etc are all different from each other.  As a result, I found it best to set up a different text message groups for each class.  I simply labeled them "Gifted ELA", Cluster ELA" and "ELA".  Once you have your classes set up, Remind101 gives you a number and a code that parents text in order to register to receive the text messages.  I included the number and code in my weekly email to parents, but I also printed handouts right off the website that give parents directions for registering and I sent these home with students (just in case parents aren't reading the class emails).

I had a majority of parents sign up within a day or two.  Each day I log in on the site and send out a quick text message that reminds them on an upcoming assignment, changes to an assignment, etc.  Several parents have already commented that they love the service.  I have found it to be a great addition to my weekly emails.

**This is completely my opinion on the Remind101 service.  I was not asked or compensated for this's simply my opinion as a teacher in the trenches of middle school.  :-) **

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Teacher "To Do" List Freebie

I find myself with all sorts of "To Do" lists....on Post-It notes, in notebooks and legal pads, on my iPhone.  I'm a "To Do" list kind of girl.  Unfortunately, I often find myself looking all over for the particular list that I need.  Last year our principal had awesome 8.5x11 "To Do" pads printed, but it was made for his particular style, not mine.

This year I decided I wanted to try to be UBER organized.  This meant making a TO DO list with my particular needs in mind.  I've been using it for the past two weeks, and I must say, so far it is perfect for what I need.  They all have a grey chevron background, but I went ahead and changed the text to a couple of different colors to suite classroom designs and personal preferences.  I hope some of you find it useful!

I've had to change where you are able to download these from.  I had them on Scribd, which offers free downloads, however they fail to tell you that after so many months if your document is successful they start charging customers to download the files and Scribd keeps all of the money!  So, I now have them on my Google Docs file.  Let me know if you have problems downloading!

You can download the Chevron Teacher To Do List by going to the following links:

Hot Pink

Monday, August 20, 2012

Open House & Common Core

Our open house is tomorrow night, and I wanted to have parents something they could take with them regarding Common Core.  After only 9 days of school I've already found that parents are a little confused about what the Common Core will mean for students.

This will be the first year that we've had a "drop in" type open house.  In the past we've had parents run through a mini version of their child's schedule.  This has a lot of teacher scrambling and trying to figure out what to do to make the time the most effective.

I plan to have a PowerPoint scrolling that has info about classroom expectations, topics of study for the year, information on our Million Word Reading Challenge, as well as a few facts about me.  I figured this would give parents something to look at while I''m talking to other parents.

I'm also going to give them the following guide to the Common Core that I developed tonight.  Even though this might be too specific for everyone (Georgia 7th Grade ELA), I wanted to share so that you can get an idea of what I'm doing.  Feel free to use any parts if you would like.

Smartboard installers showed up at 4:00 today, resulting in a large area of my room being turned upside down.  When I left school today at 5:30 I had file cabinets in the middle of the classroom.  Did I mention that open house is TOMORROW...???  Ah, the life of a teacher.  :-)

See the entire 2 page newsletter HERE.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Classroom Ambiance

Several years ago I worked in an extremely low income school.  I taught three inclusion classes and one accelerated class each day.  It was during this, my second year of teaching, that I discovered gifted kids and kids with special needs often behave and learn the same way.

We always had our grade-level meetings in a very wise teacher's classroom.  I always enjoyed being in her classroom.  I felt calm when I was in her room, as it had an almost homey feeling.  The fluorescent lights were always off and she had no less than 8 lamps spread throughout her classroom.  One day I asked her what had prompted her to start using lamps.  She explained that just like I felt calm and at ease in her classroom, young students felt the same.  The lamps have a calming effect, making all students more at ease, while helping those with hyperactivity and attention issues to calm down and focus.

I immediately went out and purchased Chinese paper lanterns with light switches.  The lamp kits are made specifically for use in paper lanterns.  I can honestly say that I noticed an immediate difference in my students.

I always want students to enjoy coming to my room, and while they think the lamps are just a cool addition to the room, they are really a management tool.  I had a teacher on my hall come in today during planning and remark on how comfortable my room was.  I owe it all to the lights.

I have 7 Chinese lanterns spread throughout my room and a lamp on my desk.  I have changed my lantern colors a few times to match my decor, but this year I am using a mixture of all of the ones that I have.  I'm using hot pink, turquoise and black/white zebra print.  I purchased the pink lanterns at Big Lots, the turquoise at Lowe's, and the zebra at World Market.  Pier One and Ikea also carry a nice selection of paper lanterns.  The biggest thing you want to make sure of is that your lantern is made to accommodate a light bulb, and it's not just one to hang for decoration.  Many of the lanterns come with the light kit and can be found for around $7.  Pier One has their lanterns on clearance right now for about $4 each.

Lighting can make all of the difference in a classroom, which is why my lanterns are the first decorative item to go up in my classroom each year.

**Please excuse the blank bulletin board and lack of decorations.  This pics were made a few days before school started.  :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Classroom Goodies

I'm all the time wanting to give away little prizes in my classroom for things like meeting the million word reading goal.  In the past I have ordered things for my classroom from Vista Print.  I've made personalized postcards to send home when students did something great, business cards that I attached magnets to the back of that I sent home with my email address, classroom website and email address so parents could easily keep up with my contact information, etc.  I recently found an offer to get a free t-shirt and only pay shipping.  I was able to get 2 t-shirts (only one free) for only $10 and that included shipping.  I got them in the mail yesterday and I LOVE them!

I ADORE owls, so I just had to get the owl themed shirt for myself.  It says, "Hanging Out in Mrs. Brown's Class".

Vista Print doesn't have the t-shirt sale going right now, but they do it pretty often.  I've been ordering from them for about 6 years and they've never disappointed!  Check them out to see what goodies you can make for your classroom!  Click the link below to go to their site.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Free Printable Binder Covers or Dividers

I was working on some binder covers and dividers for my classroom this morning and thought I would share so that you can print them off if you'd like to use them.  I have two different designs.  One is a grey chevron with turquoise text and the other is a turquoise paisley background with hot pink text.  Here is an example of what they look like:

UPDATE:  I had my downloadable files hosted on Scribd.  This site was supposed to allow you to download for free.  I have since found out that after your file is on their site for a few months and if it does well, they begin to charge to download the file and they keep 100% of the money they charge.  So, I have took all of the files down from Scribd and hopefully you will be able to get them from my Google Docs below. Let me know if you have problems!

You can download the Turquoise Paisley files from the following links:

Substitute Binder Cover
Student Data
Lesson Plans
Emergency Plans
Parent Contact Log
Meeting Notes

You can download the Grey Chevron files from the following links:

Substitute Binder Cover
Student Data
Parent Contact Log
Lesson Plans
Emergency Plans

6 Traits Post-Its

If you've already started working with the Common Core Curriculum, you know the amount of required writing is increasing.  The biggest concern I hear from teachers is how they are going to find the time to grade all of the essays the Common Core requires.

I've often told teachers to only grade for one part of the essay (introductions, for instance) or one concept (transitions), however it is difficult for most English teachers to NOT grade the entire essay.  I found a great site this morning with a lovely little resource that just might help with grading. has a template for printing on Post-It notes.  They have a Post-It for each of the 6 Traits of Writing.  They have designed this to be used by the student to rank one statement about that particular trait against the others based on that one particular writing trait.  I'm not sure that I will have students rank each statement, as I think it is important that they do all of them.  Instead, I think I will change it so that the student or teacher can rate each statement on a scale of 1-5.  The templates on the Writing Fix page can be found by scrolling down until you see the bright colored Post-Its.  You then can print out 6 per page using their template.  You can find the templates by going here. has lots of great tools and resources to use in the classroom, so this is just one of many great things you will find on their website.

I am going to work on making something similar to these to use in my classroom, but I doubt I will print them on Post-Its.  I have almost 80 students, so printing them would be a time consuming and costly process.  I think I will make them so that I can run them off, cut them out and staple to the essay or writing piece.  I'll post back here when I come up with something.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Free PDF to Word conversion via email

Lately I've found lots of materials, both curriculum and decorative, that I like but would like to modify in someway.  Unfortunately many of them have been PDFs making them difficult to modify.

That was until now!

I found a great site this morning that converts the PDF file to a Word file (I could also open it in Pages on my Macbook) and then emails it too you.  It's completely free and you don't have to register or sign up for anything.

Here is what you'll need to do in order to use this service:

1.) Make sure the PDF file that you want to convert is saved to your computer.

2.) Go HERE to get to the conversion site.

3.) Click on Choose File on the left side of the screen to choose the PDF file on your computer that you want to convert to a Word file.

4.) Enter your email address.

5.) Click on the blue box that says Convert to Word.

6.)  Check your email, open the file and make any changes you'd like!

This site will be getting A LOT of use from me!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Organization Overload! My new teacher toolbox. :-)

I'm sure if you're a teacher and have been on Pinterest lately you've seen the teacher toolboxes made out of hardware organizers from Lowe's.  As soon as I saw the first picture of one I knew I had to have it and ran right out to Lowe's.  It took me forever to find the little suckers.  I thought they would be with the toolboxes or the hardware like screws, nuts, etc. Well, I was wrong.  They were stuck in a tiny part of an aisle in the middle of the store.  But hey, at least I had found what I was looking for!

Once I found them though I had to determine which one I was going to get.  I finally decided to go with the bigger one with 39 drawers.  I figured I would rather get the bigger one and have extra drawers than get the smaller one and not have enough.  Not only that, but the bigger one was only a couple of dollars more than the 22 drawer version.  The 22 drawers is $16.47 and the 39 drawer is $19.96.  If you'd like to see the one that I bought and all of the dimensions, details, etc, you can see it on Lowe's page HERE.

The color is an ugly shade of blue, so I decided to spray paint it a turquoise color to match my classroom. I picked up a can of Valspar spray paint in the color Exotic Sea.  

I took all of the drawers out and started spray painting.  It took 2 coats of spray paint, making sure to get all of the sides and pieces that the drawers slide in.  Here is what it looked like after paint.

Then the project sat for almost 2 weeks.  We had a big birthday party for my daughter that I had to get everything ready for and I had bought her a desk, mirror and chair that she was begging me to finish up making into her a vanity.  I'm so thankful that I waited.  I had been going back and forth on what type of paper to use for the drawers and how to get my labels just right.  Then, I found it.  A pinner on Pinterest posted a link to a blog were the teacher was giving away the cutest clipart labels made specifically for the Stack-On organizer.  They were perfect - already sized, in my classroom colors and they could be personalized.  Here labels were for the 22 drawer Stack-On, which meant I had to print 2 sets of labels.  If you end up doing this project and want the labels, you can find them on Kristen Doyle's Teachers Pay Teachers page HERE.

Her labels are already pre-labeled with many of the common school supply items, so I just left those as is.  I then added extra things that I knew I wanted to store in my teacher toolbox.  I printed them, cut them out and used double-sided tape to attach them to the inside of the drawers.  And here's my final product!

I must say, I really love it!  I can't wait to take it to school this week and fill it up with goodies!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Easy (and cheap!) poster prints for the classroom

I found a quote on Pinterest earlier today that I thought would be perfect to use in my classroom.  Rather than print it out on 8.5 x 11 paper or send it off to be printed and pay upwards of $10 for this one poster alone, I decided to use a site I found several years back.  You can upload a jpeg file, tell the website how many pieces of paper wide and long you want the poster to be and it will divide the poster up and print it out on that many pages.  For instance, I made my poster 3 pieces of paper wide and 3 pieces of paper long.

The pages print with a small white border around each page.  You simply cut part of the borders off, line the pages up and then tape the backs of the pages together.  Then all you have to do is send it through the laminator.  I've used this for many posters in my classroom and I really like it.  I've even blown up rubrics.  I have the Georgia Grade Eight Writing Assessment rubric hanging in my classroom throughout the year.

So, here are a couple of goodies.

First, this is what my poster looks like:

HERE is a link to the PDF file I created where you can print the poster out on 9 pages, trim it and tape it together.

Finally, you can get to the website by going HERE.  The great thing about this site is that you don't have to download anything and it is FREE!

If you go to the site and create anything you feel like sharing, please come back and post a link to the final product here!  I'd love to see what you create!

Easy Back to School Meal - P.F. Chang's Cashew Chicken

The first couple of days of the school year are usually so hectic that when my husband asks what's for dinner I usually ask him which drive through he feels like visiting.  I try to do some easy meals in the crockpot, but sometimes we want something a little different.  I absolute love P.F. Chang's.  Their Cashew Chicken is my favorite.  And don't even get me going on that sauce they whip up right at your table by adding a spoonful of this and a spoonful of that.  That stuff is yummy drizzled over their rice!

Last night I was craving P.F. Chang's.  The problem is the closest one is almost 90 minutes away.  I immediately started a Google search for mock recipes for the cashew chicken and the sauce.  Every recipe was drastically different than the next, so I decided to just wing it and incorporate some of the ideas I had found online.  We're not back in school yet, but this will be a perfect meal to make in those first days after school starts because you only use 1 pot and 1 pan for the entire meal.

Here's what the ingredients you'll need in order to make this meal:

For Cashew Chicken
- Boneless/skinless chicken breast - about 2 cups cut into chunks ( I used 7 breasts for my family of 4 - hubby and 15 year old can put down some chicken!.  I cut off all of the little fatty pieces.)
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- sliced onion (I used a frozen mix by Pictsweet)
- sliced bell pepper (this was also in frozen mix by Pictsweet)
-1 can water chestnuts, drained
- Cashews (amount according to your taste.  I added about 1 1/2 cups.)
-1 tablespoon cornstarch
-1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup cold water
****You can also add diced celery and mushrooms, but not everyone in my family is a fan of them so I left them out.  If you add them, add about 1 cup of celery and 1 cup of mushrooms.

White Rice

For Special Sauce
-1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce ( The recipes I found called for Sriracha Chili paste, but I couldn't find any.  Picture of what I used below.)
- 4 teaspoons hot mustard (I used Plochman's Chicago Fire.  It's the only one I could find.  It has Tabasco sauce in it.  I think you could probably just add Tabasco sauce to yellow mustard to get the same flavor.)
-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
-1 Tablespoon of white vinegar

Mix cornstarch, soy sauce and cold water and set aside.  You'll need to mix this again right before pouring it in to pan.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok.  I used a wok I picked up a while back at Wal-mart for less than $20.  it's great for making chicken and stir-fry meals.  If you decide to use celery, add it to hot oil and sauté for about 1 minute.  Add onion and bell pepper to hot oil and cook about 1 minute.  I always have a bag of Pictsweet onion mix in my freezer, so I just picked out enough onions and bell peppers to use.

If you're going to add mushrooms, add them now and cook for about 2 minutes in the hot oil.

Stir your cornstarch mixture again and add it to the vegetables in the hot oil.  Heat it until it is boiling, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick.

Once boiling, add the chicken and water chestnuts.

Cook until chicken is completely done, stirring occasionally.

Once the chicken is completely cooked, add cashews.

While your chicken is cooking, mix all of the ingredients for your secret sauce.  You can play around with the amount of each ingredient to get your flavor just right.  This is definitely a hot/spicy sauce, so if you like hot and spicy it will be perfect.  If it's too hot, add more vinegar or soy to tone the spiciness down.

You'll also want to use the pot to make enough rice for your family.  We like white rice, but you can use white or brown, just like P.F. Chang's.  I used Uncle Ben's 5 minute white rice.

I like to eat my rice and chicken separately from each other, while my husband likes to dump it into a big mound on his place.  I drizzle the special sauce over my rice, while he pours it over everything. This picture does not do this meal justice.  I couldn't believe how close it was to the actual taste of P.F. Chang's.  I will definitely be making this again in the next few weeks!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


In my last post I promised that I would post instructions for creating a VOCABOPOLY game board and directions for how to play the game. Here's the game board:

**I found my copy of my VOCABOPOLY game today in a stack on my posters looking a little tired.  I will be making new game boards for this school year and will be posting them soon!

To create the game board you will need one piece of poster board, dice, some play money and player game pieces such as small erasers or small shapes cut out of construction paper.  I will give you some links to printable money later in the instructions.  

Since I teach Language Arts, all of my spaces have to do with Language Arts terminology.  These spaces could be easily changed for other subject areas.  There are 2 different types of spaces that students can land on that will require them to draw a card from one of two stacks in the center of the board.  SPELLING BEE (has a little bee) requires the students to spell the vocabulary word correctly.  SENTENCE SHOWDOWN (has a cowboy hat) requires the student to say a sentence that correctly uses the vocabulary word.

I will list what I have in each space starting with the GO space.

- Collect $200 lunch money as you pass GO
- Metaphor Avenue
- Sentence Showdown
- Simile Place
- Spelling Bee
- Sentence Showdown
- Future Tense Avenue
- Spelling Bee
- Present Tense Place
- Past Tense Drive
- In D-Hall Just visiting
- Definition Place
- Sentence Showdown
- Alphabet Alley
- Dictionary Drive
- Spelling Bee
- Adverb Drive
- Sentence Showdown
- Noun Place
- Verb Avenue
- Free Lunch
- Paragraph Place
- Spelling Bee
- Sentence Place
- Word Avenue
- Sentence Showdown
- Pronoun Place
- Preposition Avenue
- Synonym Drive
- Go to D-Hall
- Clause Avenue
- Conjunction Drive
- Sentence Showdown
- Syllable Avenue
- Spelling Bee
- Sentence Showdown
- Singular Avenue
- Spelling Bee
- Plural Avenue

In the center of the game board I have two rectangles.  One says SENTENCE SHOWDOWN and the other says SPELLING BEE.  I used perforated business cards to create the cards to go in these two sections.  The SENTENCE SHOWDOWN cards have SENTENCE SHOWDOWN and a cowboy hat on one side and a vocabulary word and a dollar amount on the other side.  SPELLING BEE cards have SPELLING BEE and a bee on one side and a vocabulary word and dollar amount on the other side.  

Dollar amounts are $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500.

How to play the game:

Each student rolls the dice to determine who goes first.  The student that rolls the highest number goes first and then play moves to the player on the left.  

The first player rolls the dice and moves their game piece the number of spaces that he or she rolled.  

If the player lands on a property, they do nothing.  It's just a free landing spot.

If the player lands on SPELLING BEE, the student to the left of the player picks up a card from the SPELLING BEE stack and reads the work to the student that is in play.  The student that is in play then has to correctly spell the word.  If he or she spells the word correctly, they are to collect the dollar amount listed on the card.  If he or she spells the word incorrectly then they do not collect any money.  The card is placed on the bottom of the stack.

If the player lands on SENTENCE SHOWDOWN, the student that is in play picks up a card from the SENTENCE SHOWDOWN stack and reads the word to the other players.  The student that is at play then must make up a sentence using the word on the card and say the sentence out loud.  It is up to the group of players to determine if the word was used correctly in the sentence.  If the word was used correctly, the player collect the dollar amount listed on the card.  If he or she uses the word incorrectly then they do not collect any money.  The card is placed on the bottom of the stack.

Play continues until time is called by the teacher.

You can print a blank game board with the squares already drawn in by going here.

You can print blank money by going here.

I'd love to hear if you use VOCABOPOLY in your classroom!

Unpacking and Vocabopoly

I can't believe that teachers in my district officially go back to school next Thursday. This summer, just like all of the others since I've been teaching, has flown by. Today I spend about 6 more hours working on my classroom. I was moved to a new classroom on a different hall this year. Thankfully it is actually on the hall that the rest of my grade level share. It's my 9th classroom in 10 years of teaching, so I've grown quite accustomed to the packing/unpacking ritual that I go through each year. However this year is different and I blame it on Pinterest. I have so many ideas for curriculum and how to decorate and organize my room this year - all thanks to Pinterest. In past years I've worked 2-3 hours in my classroom before preplanning starts, but this year I feel compelled to have my classroom completely finished before preplanning. I think it is going to definitely help get the year started in a more positive way. Today I finally finished unpacking my room. Almost everything is in its place, but it still looks very clinical. I have yet to hang all of my decorations, posters, etc. That will come next week. One thing that I made a priority to do this year was to throw out all of the junk and give away everything that was still useful but I no longer needed or wanted. Today I went through my tall wicker laundry basked that I store rolled up posters in. I was so excited to find the VOCABOPOLY game that I created when I was in college. I thought I had lost it in a move between schools. This game was created to meet a course requirement in one of my college Education classes. The objective was to create a game that would be useful in our own classroom. I decided on VOCABOPOLY. The great thing about VOCABOPOLY is that it can be used in any subject area with a few simple changes to the game board. I've always used my copy of VOCABOPOLY as a station activity, so I've never took the time to make more than my original game board that I created 10-11 years ago. I tell you this so that you will excuse the condition of the game board. Part of our gifted program requires that all gifted students in grades 6-8 learn stems. Every other week students get a list of 20 stems, which they have a test on 2 weeks later. The test are cumulative, so I'm always looking for ways to help students study. This game has truly helped students remember their stems! In my next post I will give instructions on how to create a VOCABOPOLY game board and game cards as well as instructions for playing the game.

Annotated Common Core for ELA

I found a great resource back in the spring that I wanted to share with all of you ELA teachers.  There is a company called Secondary Solutions that has created annotations for all of the Common Core Standards for grades 5-12 ELA.  They have a document for each grade level.  When you download your grade level's document you will find that it has each standard listed and then it breaks it down and describes what students actually need to do and know in order to meet the standard.  After Georgia rolled out GPS a few years ago many teachers didn't really know what each standard was actually calling for to be taught.  Secondary Solutions has solved that for Common Core.

By going to this Secondary Solutions link you will find each group of annotated standards from grades 5-12.  You'll be able to download the one that pertains to you.  Get the annotated standards here.

 Secondary Solutions Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

7th Grade ELA Common Core Checklist

I cannot believe, wait....I don't want to believe that teachers have to report back to school next Thursday.  I worked for about seven hours in my classroom yesterday, so I think it's fair to say that summer is pretty much over.

Today I finally got around to completing a task from my summer to-do list - a checklist for 7th Grade ELA Common Core Standards.  I've uploaded it to my TPT store and you can snag a copy by going here.  I hope that some of you find it useful in your classroom this year!

Here's a preview of it:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

60 Sucks!

Well, this isn't exactly something to use in the classroom, however I thought it turned out cute enough to share!  My aunt celebrated her 60th birthday tonight, and I whipped up this little project for her to use as a centerpiece.  This is SUPER EASY to make!!

To make one just like this you will need a glass candle holder ( I bought mine at Walmart for $2.50.  If I would have had time, I would have went to the Dollar Store), a styrofoam ball (I should have bought a smaller one.  I ended up using about 120 suckers instead of the 60 I had planned to use), a bag of Dum Dums, and a hot glue gun.

First, I hot glued the styrofoam ball to the glass candleholder.  Next, I started poking suckers into the styrofoam ball.  It took a little trial and error to find out how close to put them and the styrofoam ball not show.  Thankfully the styrofoam is forgiving!  After I finished covering the ball with suckers, I made a little sign holder using a piece of wire that I covered with zebra print ribbon.  I made the small sign by printing and cutting out ovals, with the last one saying "60 Sucks".

Monday, July 9, 2012

One thing that I have found extremely useful in regards to students remembering ideas and concepts is the use of anchor charts.  These helpful little posters got their name because they are supposed to "anchor" a student's knowledge to that concept.  I use these throughout the year.  I always have students copy the anchor chart to keep in their ELA notebook.

I thought I would share several of the ones that I used at the end of the year last year.  I cut pieces of bulletin board paper if I don't have one of the big chart pads available.  Now, I'm not an elementary teacher, so I don't have perfect handwriting or the best illustrations, but they work.  :-)

Welcome to Simply the Middle.  I'm Amie - a wife, mother of 2, and a middle school ELA teacher.  I will begin my 10th year teaching next month, and I must say, I've already got back to school excitement.  Ok, here is where I need to go ahead and admit that I am an EDUNERD.  Yep an edunerd.  I'm one of those sick teachers that cannot make it 2 weeks into summer break before I'm breaking out the lesson plans and pinning ideas for posters, classroom decorations, and lessons like crazy on Pinterest.  I bet most of you are edunerds, too.

I hope that this blog will be a place we can share ideas and make our jobs easier and more fun.