Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - "What's Growin' in My Classroom"

April Secondary Smorgasbord

When faced with that proverbial piece of blank white paper- whether in a notebook, on a computer screen or rolled into my old Underwood Olivetti typewriter- my brain’s creative center teeters on the edge of the PITS – Profoundly Impacted Thoughts Syndrome.

A gasp or two rushes through my lips, my heart performs an arrhythmia jig and my brain clogs with cold, lumpy oatmeal.  It does not matter if the first page is fully inscribed on my mind’s walls, immediately before I type a quick an email, or creating a blog post, a lesson plan or a book.  All of the words stored in my brain’s Vocabulary Repository freeze the nanosecond I settle in to write, leaving me with no creative teeth, no fresh ideas-but just white noise buzzing around my brain.

Every. Single. Time.

The roots of impacted wisdom teeth wrap around the jawbone and scream at the dentist, “I refuse to let go!” The stalks that form PITS do the same thing in the brain. After entangling their stems in the Frontal Lobe, they insinuate themselves in every crevice of the Temporal and Parietal Lobes, squeezing out the energy, emotion and essence from each and every ingenious and imaginative, or mundane thought.

And Great Googly Moogly- I am not alone with my apprehension of the blank white page. Many writers also forge strategies to keep their writing fresh and to avoid tumbling into the PITS. (All of these quotes are from http://www.brainyquote.com/).

John Updike faced the blank page by letting loose his imagination, “Each morning my characters greet me with misty faces willing, though chilled, to muster for another day's progress through the dazzling quicksand the marsh of blank paper.

Jodi Picoult revealed the power of revision when she said, “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page,”

Vladimir Nabokov welcomed the challenge of the blank page issue when he shared, “The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.

Students often feel an onset of brain freeze when they face a blank sheet of paper, knowing that no matter how great or small the number, they have to come up with Every. Single. Word. And this may be the pits because it could lead to one of the major effects of PITS - Writing Phobia.

Everyone has anxieties when it comes to writing. For me it does not matter whether I am creating a two-page activity, a 350-page romantic comedy, a 176-page teachers’ program, or an email apology to my sister-the challenge to use my words to say what I truly feel- to paint word pictures- is daunting.

“Like anyone who has to record their words on paper or type them into a computer,” I explain to my students, “I am also subject to tremors when I wonder how others will receive and perceive my writing. But my biggest phobia coils around one concern- finding the confidence in my skills and abilities to use my words to clearly reveal my thoughts.” After they hear that even their teacher has to squash some writing fears, they are willing to face theirs.

The key for all writers is to avoid Writing Phobia and not fall into the PITS.  Like Updike, Picoult and Nabokov, when they steer clear of this menace, their writing will blossom. 
Following this same thought, no matter the season, classrooms that are garden-fresh, blooming with crisp thinking and energetic writing fortified with vigorous thought will banish the PITS!

Thanks to Pamela Kranz- http://desktoplearningadventures.blogspot.com/-
Desktop Learning Adventures!
and Darlene Anne Curran- http://meatballsinthemiddle.blogspot.com/- for this April-fresh Secondary Smorgasbord.

And a special thank you to Pamela for suggesting that I write about the PITS during a Facebook chat. Because of her encouragement, the PITS never chewed up and swallowed my words.

Check out What's Growin' in My Classroom garden.



Writing Warmup Activities: Creative Writing - Mental Stretches

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writing-Warmup-Activities-Creative-Writing-Mental-Stretches-19032 ($1.50)






Enjoy a Teach It Now Day, every day,












Monday, April 6, 2015

Three ELA Activities that Nurture Students' Writing Gardens

To paraphrase an old adage, "Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, it's time for students writing to fizz!" These three lessons, each with more than one activity, offer endless possibilities for middle and high school students to blow away the doldrums that entangled their brains during winter's dullness.

Writing: Write Right! Time for Spring Cleaning
In Writing: Write Right! Time for Spring Cleaning, students have the opportunity to

  • expel the roadblocks that stymie their chances for writing success before they can mine their hearts and minds for ideas where they can incorporate sensory imagery with the Writing Hang-Ups activity,
  • mine their hearts and minds for the ideas and the emotions that they want to express with the Airing Out Musty Memories activity, and to
  • choose the sensory imagery that will help them to accomplish their writing goal with Making Sense out of Scents.

Students may use these activities to sweep away the cobwebs that have clogged their creative endeavors.  Now, their analytic and creative writing pieces will blossom. As for these tasks where students had to spring clean their writing homes to erase fears, to find ideas and to allow the sense of smell to permeate their pieces? Consider them done.

Download these three Common Core and Bloom’s Taxonomy aligned activities that come with detailed Teacher Notes from
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writing-Write-Right-Time-for-Spring-Cleaning-656412  for $2.00.

Poetry Activity: April Excursions-Poetry in Motion
April, National Poetry Month, is the perfect time for teachers and students to take an excursion on the Lesson-Up Express.  Poetry Activity: April Excursions-Poetry in Motion offers two tickets:

Option 1- A Literary Connections Tour
This ticket offers students the chance to find poems, poets and lyrics that fit the themes of any novel or narrative non-fiction book that they are studying.  To complete this trip, students will work individually or in teacher-chosen groups to analyze a poem (teacher or student selected).  See the Teacher Notes for finding poems that connect with story themes.


Stops on this tour include:
A. Atmosphere Alley
B. Poetry Junction
C. Imagery Island
D. Theme Mountain
E.  Project Pass: On this final leg of this tour, students must prepare the final draft that includes the analytic results of each of their stops on the tour in a poster or in a travel brochure format.

and

Option 2- A Poetry Camp Trip
If students choose this ticket, they will create five original poems from the types written on the tree branches on the cover of this offering and/or types they choose with the teacher’s approval. After they have composed the poems, they will put them in a literary magazine that they created, and will illustrate  each one with original or found images.

Activity 3- Poetry Performance Buffet is Required
All students will present either the results of their Literary Connections Tour or two poems from their Poetry Camp Trip at the Poetry Performance Buffet at the end of the month. See the download for complete details on how to manage this aspect of the project.

This packet also includes Teacher Notes and is aligned with Common Core Standards and the Bloom's Taxonomy thinking skills.  The last page reveals tickets to the Poetry Performance Buffet.

With this packet, April will be the Coolest, not the cruelest month. Download it from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Poetry-Activity-April-Excursions-Poetry-in-Motion-639372 for $3.00.

Reading Comprehension - Writing About Reading
Finally, to strengthen the roots of students' comprehension and writing skills, check out  Reading Comprehension - Writing About Reading.  Teachers can never have too many ideas for secondary students to explore when their brain isn't sparking any thoughts, or when we want them to write to a prompt.

This packet,Writing About Reading, offers teachers two new activities
1. Quotation Journals: What did the character say?  What did the character mean? (Note: this is terrific for nonfiction pieces as students can explore the author's point of view, tone, etc.), and
2. Writing Journal Topics (30 writing ideas).

As always, a Teacher Notes page details the Common Core Standards and Bloom's Taxonomy objectives that apply to this packet. Download it from
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Comprehension-Writing-About-Reading-1118924 for $2.00.

When students have the chance to read text, to write about it and then to speak about what they wrote, they will remember so much more about what they are studying. At the same time, they will add depth to their comprehension, writing and thinking skills.

These eight lessons which offer almost a complete 9-innings, coincide with another Spring rite-the start of Major League Baseball.  Teachers, here is your triple play! Have a powerful  teaching season.

Enjoy a Teach It Now day every day,






Tuesday, March 31, 2015

National Poetry Month Activity- "April Excursions-Poetry in Motion"

In his poem, The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruelest month…”. Considering the
National Poetry Month Activity- "April Excursions-Poetry in Motion"
fickleness of the weather- bone-chilling sleet one day, sunbathing warmth the next- it’s no wonder peoples’ moods swing from gloom to gaiety.

Maybe April was chosen as National Poetry Month because of it quirkiness. Strong emotions create word pictures and poems are the Kodak moments of writing. 

April is the perfect month for teachers and students to take an excursion on the Lesson-Up Express. This posting offers two tickets:

Option 1. A Literary Connections Tour:
This ticket offers students the chance to find poems, poets and lyrics that fit the themes of any novel or narrative non-fiction book that they are studying. To complete this trip, students will work individually or in teacher-chosen groups to analyze a poem (teacher or student selected). See the Teacher Notes for finding poems that connect with story themes. Stops on this tour include:
A. Atmosphere Alley
B. Poetry Junction
C. Imagery Island 
D. Theme Mountain 
E. Project Pass: On this final leg of this tour, students must prepare the final draft that includes the analytic results of each of their stops on the tour in a poster or in a travel brochure format.

Option 2. A Poetry Camp Trip
If students choose this ticket, they will create five original poems from the types written on the tree branches on the cover of this offering and/or types they choose with the teacher’s approval. After they have composed the poems, they will put them in a literary magazine that they created, and will illustrate each one with original or found images.

3.(Required) Poetry Performance Buffet:

All students will present either the results of their Literary Connections Tour or two poems from
Performance Buffet Ticket
their Poetry Camp Trip at the Poetry Performance Buffet at the end of the month. See the download for complete details on how to manage this aspect of the project.

Also included in this packet are Teacher Notes listing the Common Core Standards, the Bloom's Taxonomy thinking skills that are addressed, and directions for teaching the lesson; a printable student handout with directions and information on how to match poetry, poets and lyrics with stories (with examples) and examples of the Personal Poem and the Rhyming Couplet make up the remainder of the octet of pages. On the last page, are tickets to the Poetry Performance Buffet.

Download this packet from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Poetry-Activity-April-Excursions-Poetry-in-Motion-639372 ($) and make April the coolest, not the cruelest month.

Another poetry activity
Poetry Analysis Activity: Poetry on Parade

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day,


Monday, March 23, 2015

News Flash – "Journalism Activity Bundle" Simplifies Teacher Planning!

"It's that time of year
When Fall course schedules appear,
And some teachers scramble to see
If newspaper sponsors they will be."

Stinger newspaper mascot
by Keith Naquin

Whether you have chosen to take on the responsibility of teaching journalism and sponsoring the school newspaper, or whether you have been asked to do so, between now and the opening of a new school year, your emotions will run the gamut from , "I can't wait!" to "What did I do?".

Saying, "Yes," to shouldering any new course, no matter the subject area can subdue the staunchest classroom leader, but taking on the obligation of a publishing class can be downright daunting. Teachers who are veterans of their own high school or college newspapers find that when sitting on the other side of the desk, questions blossom quicker than spring pollen. 


Where do I even start planning?
The school has only outdated texts and won't buy new ones. 
What do I teach? In what order of importance? 
Where do I find lessons?
How often should the class publish a newspaper- once a quarter, once a month?


Let me start with that last question first. When I became the school's journalism teacher and newspaper sponsor, my predecessor's student staff had been putting out one paper a quarter.  The incredibly motivated staff that I inherited desperately wanted to aim for once a month, so that's what we did.

Stinger staff member
Needless to say, that first month I felt like a hamster on a wheel that kept spinning faster and faster as Deadline Day loomed, because I had to create lessons for the separate Journalism 1 class and teach them while I inspired the Journalism 2,3,4 students through their planning and  researching articles and designing the layouts.  But we made deadline, sending the layouts to the printer with an hour to spare.

Oh, did I mention handling old and new advertisers, dealing with the printer's contract and learning the school's policy regarding financing and administrative review? Since these three topics differ from school district to school district, you will need to find answers to these very important questions. Let me suggest that you clarify these matters before this school year ends. You will be busy enough in the fall settling into your teaching and publishing routine to deal with these vital issues.

Journalism Whole Course Year Overview and Lesson Ideas

Now, for some relief from all of your concerns about creating lessons, browse through my Journalism Grades 6-12 category in my Teachers pay Teachers store
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Connie/Category/Journalism-grades-6-12. You will find 15 products that you may purchase separately - ranging from my Journalism Whole Course Year Overview and Lesson Ideas  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Journalism-Whole-Course-Year-Overview-and-Lesson-Ideas-45173 
to  Journalism: Reporting Practice Worksheets 

Or...or... you can purchase all 15 in my 94-page Journalism Activities Bundle 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Journalism-Activities-Bundle-1775930, and save yourself $10.00.  All of these lessons and activities are direct results of my decade as the Journalism 1-4 teacher and newspaper sponsor. I  tested, revised and retaught them  many times over the years.

Journalism Activities Bundle

When you add any or all of these lessons to your repertoire, send me some Feedback if you would like my email address.  I will be glad to talk with you about any teaching or publishing concerns you have or that might crop up during your first year teaching this course. If you would like to see a lesson on any journalism topic, let me know and I will create onet. Right now I am working on one about headlines.

On a very important note, be sure to check with the current journalism teacher for any lessons and activities. If this person will still be at your school in the fall, also discuss whether he/she will mentor you for the first few weeks or so until the journalism gene settles into your system.

Most of all, enjoy this exciting, energizing and yes, even the deadline stress. I hope that you will fand it as rewarding as I did.

As Edward R. Murrow would say, Edward R. Murrow
"Good Night, and Good Luck,"







Enjoy a Teach It Now Day - Every Day






Thursday, March 12, 2015

English Language Arts - "Poetry Analysis Activity: Poetry on Parade"


Poetry Analysis Activity: Poetry on Parade 

"Poetry, It's elemental, my dears." With this unit, Poetry Analysis Activity: Poetry on Parade,  I use this play on the famous quote by Sherlock Holmes to show my middle and high school students that poetry is ever-present in their lives through the music they pipe into their ears.
This is the format that I follow
  1. We listen to some of their music. In the days before I begin this unit, I ask students to bring in their favorite song that I s school-appropriate.  Along with the recording, they are to type out the lyrics for me to review. 
  2. I choose three-five and make enough copies of the combined choices so each student receives one song. Example - if I choose 3 songs and I have 25 students in my class, I make 8 copies of two songs and one copy of the third selection.
  3. Together, we review review some of the basic elements of poetry. After I write a few terms on the board, such as - Metaphor, Simile, Sensory Imagery, Rhythm and Rhyme- the students jot down an example from another song or from a poem that they know or that they have studied.  They initial their response.  For rhythm, students with examples of this tap it out on the desk. Each student gets 1 minute to explain his/her example.
  4. Next the students teach one of the poems that I selected for this unit, focusing on one of the elements.
  5. After that, they  write a poem that will include any number of the poetic elements we studied, but that focuses on the one that they taught.
  6.  The unit culminates with a test on the elements of poetry so the students can show their deeper understanding of these terms.
Poetry Analysis Activity: Poetry on Parade p.4
 Poetry Analysis Activity: Poetry on Parade p.5

Use this format as it is, or adapt it to fit the skills, abilities and needs of your students.
This product is aligned with Common Core Standards and Bloom's Taxonomy. In ten pages it includes
  • Teacher Notes
  • Complete student directions
  • A sign up sheet where students select a teacher-chosen poem to prepare a lesson for and to present
  • An Imagery Activity sheet
  • A 60 point test with an Answer Key, and
  • Two rubrics: one for grading the students' analysis of their poem and the other to grade their presentation.
  • Bonus: both rubrics can be used with any literary analytic essay and any presentation.
This plan will be music to teachers' ears, as it sets poetry in motion in students' minds, thinking and writing.  Download it from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Poetry-Analysis-Activity-Poetry-on-Parade-663467 ($2.50)

Happy teaching,






TEACH IT WRITE
BUILD POWERFUL ACADEMIC HOMES

Monday, March 9, 2015

ELA Teachers - Stock Up with Marvelous Manic Monday Madness

The Bangles might have complained, "It's just another manic Monday," in their 1986 song, Manic Monday, but you, my ELA teacher readers will rename this first day of the work week, "Marvelous Manic Monday!"  for 9 hours today, 
MARCH 9, 2015 from 6:00 A.M. EST to 3:00 P.M. EST ONLY.

Marvelous Manic Monday


Just follow these simple steps:
1. Go to my Teachers pay Teachers store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Connie 
2. Buy any product that you want.
3. Email me at conniecasserly@gmail.com with
  • your FULL NAME
  • your EMAIL ADDRESS, and
  • the NAME and FULL LINK for the product that you want for FREE. NOTE: this FREE product must be of equal or lesser price than the one that you bought.
  • Once I receive this information from you, I will email you a pdf version of your Free product.
You do NOT have to Follow this website and  my TpT Store for this MARVELOUS MANIC MONDAY BOGO, but I sure would appreciate it.

 Enjoy a Marvelous Manic Monday shopping spree.

Happy Teaching,






TEACH IT WRITE
 BUILD POWERFUL ACADEMIC HOMES






Sunday, March 1, 2015

31 ELA Writing Activities - "March Maneuvers - Sprint Into Spring"

Mother Nature continues to imprison much of the country in her wintry grip on this first day of March. Teachers are desperate for a few academic ice picks that will chip away the, doldrums encasing their students' brains and freezing their motivation to learn. Thirty-one Common Core aligned writing activities aimed to tone up students’ - and teachers’ -  winter-weary brains will do the trick.  

31 ELA Writing Activities - "March Maneuvers - Sprint Into Spring"
Teachers, say, "Hello!" to March Maneuvers - Sprint into Spring -  just the chisels you need to engage, inspire and motivate your students during Mother Nature's, "Which Season Am I- Winter or Spring?" month.

What's Included
• Thirty-One writing activities with directions and writing requirements
• A March calendar of celebrations with at least 2 events per day for each day of the month.



5 Sample Activities
1. Choose one of the celebrations under today’s date. Even if you don’t know why this topic became a day of celebration, imagine a reason for its existence. Explain the: Who, what, where, when and why behind its formation. Also discuss any ways people celebrate this day.
2. Write a persuasive essay that supports either promoting or abolishing this celebration.
3. Research the real reason this day came to exist. Explain the: Who, what, where, when, why and how behind its formation. Also discuss any ways people celebrate this day.
4. Choose a character from the literature you are currently studying and show his/her opinion about this day. Be sure that you are writing from this character’s point of view and not your own. 
5. Compose a scene from a book that creates a word picture of a fervent follower of this holiday. 

*General Writing Activity Project
1. Following the teacher’s time-frame and specific requirements for this project, create an

Month of Holidays: MARCH
  advertising campaign for this holiday that includes newspaper/magazine, radio and television ads. 
2. *Create three recipes for this day to share on a Food Network show. They can be appetizers, snacks, main dishes, soups, salads, desserts or sides, but no more than two can be from the same category. See the complete list of activities (31) and a March calendar with over 135 Celebrations when you download this product from 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writing-Activities-March-Maneuvers-Sprint-into-Spring-584169.

Think warm breezes and sunny days with March Maneuvers - Sprint into Spring

Happy Teaching,




TEACH IT WRITE - BUILD POWERFUL ACADEMIC HOMES