Friday, November 28, 2014

Celebrate a TpT Super Cyber Savings Sale and a Brand New ELA Freebie!

This Super Cyber-Savings Sale is a BIG Deal, folks. 
Buyers will save up to 28% with sellers discounts along with TpT's bonus when they use the 
Promo Code: TPTCYBER.

And to add a little sweetness to your carts, how about a brand new FREEBIE to keep kids tuned in and turned on to learning?

Comprehension and Writing - "Sing, Sing a Story"
The debate about what motivates adolescents the most-food or music-is ongoing. This FREE Middle and High School ELA activity, focuses on food for students' minds,hearts and souls- Music.

Students choose one of two projects to complete in pairs, and if need be,one trio.

For "Option 1: A Lyrical Conversation," each duo/trio chooses a situation from the story that presents clear characters and conflict. After summarizing the circumstance, they create a dialogue that is formed from 90% existing song lyrics that show the conflict and characters.The narrative elements should be in regular prose.Here is segment of the example for this option from a scene in Geoffrey Chaucer's, The Nun's Priest's Tale:

“I’m so hot, hot, hot,” Chanticleer bragged as he strutted through the barnyard. (4)
Comprehension and Writing - "Sing a Story" p.3

“Ooh, He’s so-o-o fine…wish he were mine.” the Hen Chorus cackled. (5)
Partlet just yawned and pecked at the seeds by her feet. “He’s so vain.” (6)
Lurking in the bushes, Mr. Fox watched all the boasting and smacked his lips. “Gimmie some fillet o’chicken; gimmie some now.” (7a) To Chanticleer he said, “Dawg, you’ve got some pipes. That was hot!” (7b). Then he pounced on the rooster. 

Note: the numbers in the parentheses are song/singer/lyricist/speaker citations.

For "Option 2: A Song Story," students-again in pairs and one trio, if uneven class numbers exist, summarize the whole story-or novel- and then create a song-story, like Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer,: Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody,or Tracy Chapman's, "Fast Car".The story that the students spin must clearly, yet succinctly, show the whole story-its characters and conflict.

How do teachers use this activity? They introduce the activity by reviewing the Introduction and the Directions on pages 3 and 4. After reading the directions for "Option 1: A Lyrical Conversation," they ask students to offer suggestions of lyrics for characters’ words from the story. Then, after reading the directions for "Option 2: A Song Story," they ask students to name a song-story, the artist and to summarize the story.

For the teams, teachers either divide the students into pairs or allow them to choose their partners. If the class number is uneven, students may group into one trio for "Option 2: A Song Story". Students should have time in class to work on this activity, such as 30 to 55 minutes, depending on their skills and abilities.

To finish this activity, students may work in class the next day, and/or complete it as a
Comprehension and Writing - "Sing a Story" p.4
homework assignment. Teachers select their desired option, depending on their students’ skills and abilities and their objective(s) for the activity.

Teachers should set aside 2-3 days for the students to present their completed projects in front of the class. They will either pick the students to present each day, or randomly choose the first pair/trio on the due date, and then have those students select the pair/trio that will present next, and so on until all students have presented.

After each pair/trio has shared their project, they must turn in their final packet consisting of the typed Final Draft, the activity worksheet (page 5 of this packet) and any other notes.

With "Sing, Sing a Story," students will be thrilled to keep tuned in to their music and turned on to showing their comprehension, writing and higher level thinking skills. Teachers will want to dance to the music of their students' learning.

Download this FREEBIE from

Happy Teaching,

Friday, November 14, 2014

Secondary Smorgasbord 'Happy Hour'- "Just Say, "NO!" to Dull Writing"

Two of my teacher friends, Pamela Krantz (  and Darlene Anne Curran (, who I had the sheer pleasure of meeting at the TpT Conference in Vegas this past summer, have started a terrific blog- Secondary Smörgasbord.

Their first endeavor is aptly called, Happy Hour.  Whether teachers are enjoying a face-to-face Happy Hour, on an online one like this collaborative event, we love to share our favorite lessons-those that make the "Aha! I get it!" light sparkle in our our students' eyes. Since my year-long, Just Say, "NO!" to Dull Writing activity has always been one of my go-to middle and high school lesson plan stars that made my students and me, happy, happy, happy. I want to share it with you all for this Happy Hour

On the first day of school, the Taboo Words and Phrases list was always the first handout that I gave to my students immediately after we reviewed the syllabus and classroom rules and expectations ("Responsibility, Reliability, Respect and No Excuses form a two-way street in this classroom.").

Just Say, "No!" to Dull Writing Taboo Words and Phrases
 Not only did I explain to the students that they were required to refer to it for any writing-graded or non-graded - but I made a poster of it to hang in the classroom and I taped a copy of the list to each desk. I never, ever started a writing activity without reminding my students to refer to it.

Although it is a integral part of 'Chapter 2 - The Foundation' in my teacher resource book, The House of Comprehension, I offer it in my TpT store for FREE. The  list and coordinating lessons are crucial for empowering students to write clear, specific sentences instead of those with meaningless word choices and weak structures. 

Here are some suggestions for using this product:

1. The first day of school, hand out the Taboo Words & Phrases sheet to every student. Explain that they are to refer to it every time that they revise a draft of an essay, an original poem or fiction piece, or a narrative article. Mention that even if they only revise for these particular words and phrases, their writing will dramatically improve.
2. Discuss 
- that when they use these weak and clichéd words and phrases, their writing is vague, emotionless, and tells instead of shows.
- that no matter what type of writing they are composing, they should strive to create word pictures; 
- that their writing must show, not tell, and to do this they must use concrete, specific nouns and adjectives, and
- that Verbs form the backbone of writing, and should always show action as well as the emotion of the subject performing the action.
3. Write some sentences on the board that use these weak words and phrases, and have students revise them for strength and clarity.
4. Repeat this information over and over to the students and address it on their final drafts.
The Taboo Words & Phrases List also works as a poster to hang in the classroom. For a poster, add the following information:
Taboo Words & Phrases List

Effective Writing:
• -Shows instead of tells
• -Creates word pictures
• -Uses concrete, specific nouns and adjectives
• -Uses strong verbs to form the writing’s backbone; verbs must show action and emotion

The other day, former student who is now a senior in college asked me to send this list to her. On my Facebook Profile page she said, "Mrs. C- I am tutoring at CNU's writing center and have to do a presentation on making writing "concise and precise." Could you send me a copy of your taboo words list please? It has been and will continue to be the best advice on writing well that I've found " (Olga S). 

When this Taboo Words and Phrases list impacts your students' thinking and writing, their eyes will sparkle with that, "I get it" light that we teachers love like it did-and still does- for Olga. Like with her, it will become a lifelong tool, too.

Download it from

May all of your teaching hours be Happy!.

Happy Teaching,

Note: for another lesson which is also a part of The House of Comprehension's 'Chapter 2 - The Foundation,' try my Primary FreebieLanguage Arts Comprehension Check:Ten Sentence Format.

Language Arts Comprehension Check:Ten Sentence Format

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Set Stress on Fire With These two Giveaways

Who doesn't love a Giveaway?  Then TWO Giveaways will definitely light your fire. Starting tomorrow, November 2, 2014, teachers will have a chance to toss their stress into a bonfire hosted by Danielle Knight and Juggling ELA.

Love The Hunger Games and other dystopian novels? Then check out the materials that 13 TpT sellers have donated for  The Hunger Games Giveaway raffle. One winner will receive 2 movie tickets to Mockingjay plus 13 Freebie lessons totalling $150.00 in all.

The second raffle,  Go Away Stress! also hosted by Danielle Knight and Juggling ELA offers 20 lessons, activities, etc. from 20 TpT sellers and a $10.00 Starbucks gift card.

The WINNER for each raffle will be announced on

 Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 6 PM EST.

Check out Danielle Knight's blogs , and
for all of the details and the ALL-IMPORTANT Rafflecopter entry form.

Danielle Knight and Juggling ELA have organized an incredible Giveaway for you all.

Here are their TpT Stores
I donated a product for each Giveaway, too, but I don't want to ruin their Giveaway surprises before November 16th.  I'd love for you all to drop by my TpT store and stock up on some engaging lessons so you can get fired up like Katniss, "the girl on fire" and give youself  a chance to start lessening your stress.
Here are two ideas that fit both of these Giveaways:
Comprehension,Writing and Thinking- A Thanksgiving Cornucopia of Activities which I blogged about on October 29th

Spice Up Thanksgiving with This Cornucopia of English Language Arts Activities
Comprehension,Writing and Thinking- A Thanksgiving Cornucopia of Activities
and Teacher Resource - Dystopian Novels Generate a Teacher Utopia, the focus of my October 16th post, Dystopian Novels Generate a Teacher Utopia 16+ Teaching Ideas
As always, thank you for stopping by.  Now click on over to Danielle's and Juggling ELA's blogs for more details about these awesome giveaways and Enter, Enter, Enter!
Happy Teaching,