Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh what fun it is to give

Four and a half decades ago, when I was immersed in my college education classes, the fact that teaching was an extremely isolated  job never, ever occurred to me. This reality became clear after the first week of thirty-seven and a half hours spent with adolescents and nary any other adults- except for brief hallway encounters.

With barely time to breathe that first week of school, the introductions to the school staff, the PTA-sponsored food fests and the camaraderie of the teacher work days were relegated to my memory bank. Classrooms forty-three years ago proved that one could be lonely in a crowd. Today, the nature of teaching still can make us feel isolated from our colleagues.Now, though, antidotes for the loneliness of the full-time teacher are found in the plethora of social media sites.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, for three, offer
  • opportunities for connecting with teachers around the world
  • insight into issues that affect educators, 
  • places to vent about the frustrations and to share the successes of this most honorable profession, and oh so important in connecting teachers with the world outside of the classroom,
  • treasure chests overflowing with teaching tips, activities and classroom management ideas. 

Two sites that I love give teachers the opportunity to collect lessons that they can use in the classroom.

Academic Help
A few months ago, Nicholas Klacsanzky, the Content Coordinator of AcademicHelp (http://academichelp.net/) contacted me on LinkedIn about this site. It hooked me with its How To content for virtually any type of Academic or non-Academic writing. Classroom teachers as well as tutors will find detailed writing guides and activities to augment their own writing plans. Here is AcademicHelp's site intro-in their own words:


"AcademicHelp.net is a free writing guide with tutoring material on practically any type of academic or non-academic writing task.

Our writing guides and samples cover a variety of life’s spheres where you might face the challenge of having to write a document, a paper, or a reference. All our guides, along with their related samples, are logically organized in sections and subsections. AcademicHelp.net is a free resource aimed at nothing but helping us all become better writers."

Just reading their Table of Contents made my heart palpitate with the What If excitement I experienced when I was still in the teaching trenches and found ways to empower my students to be better writers.

The About Us link (http://academichelp.net/about-us.html) explains that

"AcademicHelp.net is:
  • a completely free resource.
  • a great teacher, with countless guides to teach you how to complete any writing assignment.
  • a collection of hundreds of samples to show you examples of format, style, and the quality that is expected.
  • forum for asking questions about your assignments – answered by our experts.
  • plagiarism checker to make sure that your content is free of accidental plagiarism."
Take a breather, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, or open a bottle of water, and check out their myriad writing ideas. Also, stop back every day for writing updates and not-to-be-missed posts.

Marjan Glavac writes and publishes an amazing FREE newsletter, The Busy Educator Newsletter every week (http://news.thebusyeducator.com/).  This on-line source provides articles focused on specific teaching ideas, issues, stories, technology updates, videos, health-related pieces, and leisure items from around the web that will hook teachers' interests. Another plus is that Mr. Glavac welcomes teachers-yes, you- to share your lesson ideas.
The Busy Educator

Not only is Mr. Glavac a retired teacher and a newsletter publisher, but he is also an author. He is offered two  inspiring reads for teachers.

 How to Thrive and Survive in Your Classroom is on sale for half price until December 31, 2013.
How to Thrive and Survive in Your Classroom book cover
In his book blurb he asks, "Do You Want To Know How To Create Your Ideal Classroom, Motivate Your Students, Maintain Their Attention And Keep Them On Task Without Screaming, Pleading Or Burning Yourself Out?” This marvelous book is a practical guide for everything from setting up a classroom, to time management, to instructional and behavioral techniques. Check it out.

How many times have you thought about writing your teaching memoirs?  I know I have- I even have a title, What I need is the time, energy and inspiration to create an idea outline with the anecdotes I want to include. Here is Mr. Glavac's memoir, Teaching Is: Moments that Inspire and Motivate Teachers to Make a Difference. Need a gift for a colleague, a retired teacher, or yourself? if so, you can find this five-star book on Amazon.com.

This post blossomed from my desire to share these sites that have kept me connected to educational matters, to the classroom and to my teaching colleagues-from my days in the classroom as well as from my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn friends. In this season of giving, I wanted to tell you about these sites, if you haven't found them already. They have kept me inspired, in the education loop, passionate about this profession that I love. Because of these sites and oh, so many more, teachers might be alone in the classroom, but they aren't lonely.

Thank you all, my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn connections and my followers on this site, for giving me the gift of friendship and for sharing your inspiring teaching ideas, your frustrations and your joys.

Seasons Greetings to all of you, and

Happy Teaching,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 Winter Holidays Tips and Freebies - Grades 7-12 Edition


2013 Winter Holidays Tips and Freebies  cover
What do grades 7-12 teachers need more than anything these last few weeks before Winter Vacation?
A. Sleep
B. Chocolate
C. Coffee/Tea
D. Teaching Tips and Free Activities
E. Time
F. Some of the Above (Specify)
G. None of the Above
H. All of the Above

I would imagine that the vast majority of teachers would choose: H. All of the Above. Many a year, I remember wishing that when I opened the door of Room 216, the Santa Claus of teachers would have visited the night before and left choices A-D on my desk (With C in a covered, thermal mug).
If this magical event happened, choice D. Teaching Tips and Free Activities would assure me that my December days would be filled with on-task adolescents instead of hyper teens bouncing off the classroom walls in anticipation of a few school-free weeks. And my evenings and weekends?  They would be free for me to complete my holiday Have-To list with smiles instead of frowns.

Knowing that our colleagues still in the trenches needed a quality holiday gift, some TpT sellers organized four Holiday Ebooks and asked for TpT sellers to each contribute a page that included a free activity and a teaching tip. Here is the outstanding 2013 Winter Tips and Freebies Grades 7-12 book, thanks to its awesome editor, Addie Williams.

Whether you need Art, English, Foreign Language (Spanish), Math, Music, Science or Social Studies lessons, you will find them in this 53-page Ebook.  Download this incredible FREEBIE from
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/2013-Winter-Holidays-Tips-and-Freebies-Grades-7-12-Edition-1008261. Although many of the activities are winter and holiday related, teachers can adapt most of the Teaching Tips  for lessons throughout the year. What a bonus that is!

Kudos to the hardworking editors who divided the Ebooks into four grade levels:

Ebook 1    PreK-K    Krissy Minor
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mrs-Miners-Monkey-Business
Ebook 2    1-2            Hilary Lewis
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Hilary-Lewis
Ebook 3    3-6            Rachel Lynette
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Rachel-Lynette
Ebook 4    7-12          Addie Williams
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Addie-Williams


Grade 7-12 teachers, like all of your colleagues leading classrooms, you deserve the gift of time- time for yourself instead of for planning lessons or completing other professional duties.  Do not delay- download  the 2013 Winter Holidays Tips and Freebies - Grades 7-12 today  You can find my free activity and teaching tip is on page 13.

And to all: Happy Holidays and Winter Vacation.

Happy Teaching,




Monday, December 2, 2013

Lesson Up Express: Dancing Through December


Dancing Through December cover
With Winter Vacation looming on the horizon, teachers probably need a few activities to keep students on task and having fun deepening their comprehension and writing skills. One fact is for sure: most students and teachers are dreaming about Snow Days to jumpstart their breaks.

In this post,I want to give my colleague teachers the gift of time. Whether they are six or sixteen, students' nerves are twanging with anticipatory energy, ergo, all too often the teacher's focus is spent on the frequent use of classroom management techniques, leaving each one sapped for the time and energy to create lessons.  Here, I offer three Free handouts to keep students engaged so teachers can teach. Two activities, Letters...We Get Letters and Dance to the Music are individual work and the third one, Pairing Up calls for student duos. Teachers may choose an activity for each full week in December that comes before the break.

In each Common Core and Bloom's Taxonomy aligned handout, the students' explanations will show how the characters dance to the tune of their own drummers. Students will flesh out characters and plots from their reading by focusing on the details the authors present in the stories. This will show their understanding of the elements of literature as well as their analytic and critical-thinking skills.


The whole objective of these three activities is for students to have fun showing their depth of understanding in their reading while teachers retain their sanity during this month of emotional highs and lows. Although I offer time-frame suggestions with each activity, I keep them general. Teachers should adapt this project to meet their needs and to address the needs and skill levels of their students. 


Happy Teaching,







Pairing Up

Letters... We get Letters

Dance to the Music