Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Win a GIFT CARD for the TpT #BTSSALE

When I thought up that last idea for the $10.00 Gift Card Giveaway, it didn't occur to me that my teacher colleagues would NOT be in a writing mode.  I do apologize!!! So-o-o-
$10.00 GIFT CARD.



Tomorrow, August 1st, begins the TpT Back To School Sale-#BTSSALE. I am giving away a $10.00 GIFT CARD to a randomly chosen teacher who responds to my topic: Share your funniest teaching memory.  Tonight, July 31st at 10:30pm EST, I will randomly select a post. It doesn't have to be the one that makes me laugh the hardest, it just depends on where my finger lands as I wave it over the responses with my eyes closed.

One of my favorites:

My1st period seniors slogged, shuffled and stumbled into class that gray sleeting February morning and slid into their chairs. As I took attendance, the students were supposed to be responding to the Warm-Up topic: "Was Meursault an existentialist or just lazy as he sat on his balcony watching the people strolling on the sidewalk below him?" Instead, my peripheral vision caught a bright red balloon floating above the rows. Sam had started yet another one of his balloon volleyball games.

Steam began boiling in my brain.  After driving over unsalted icy roads, and finding I was out of Keurig Cups for my coffee, I was. not. in. the. mood. for any of his let's bug Mrs. C antics. When I saw the balloon drifting toward me, my only thought was, "I MUST GET THAT DARNED THING!" Without nary a thought, I threw my body into a horizontal lunge, my arms in a full stretch. With an, "OOF!" I landed on the tiled floor clutching the errant red orb.

When I realized total silence filled the room, I glanced at the students who were all showing total shock on their faces. Nary a chuckle, smirk, or whispered OUCH passed through their gaping mouths.

Slowly, very slowly, I butt-crawled over to the nearest desk - thankfully the student who usually occupied it was absent - slapped my left hand on the seat as the right hand held the offending balloon in a death grip, and slowly raised myself to a standing position.  At that point, the pain had yet to course through my soon-to-be aching knees and elbows.

Glancing over the class, I grinned, "Well THAT woke you up!" Then I picked up a black Sharpie, wrote, Mrs. C WINS!, tied a string to the knot, and tied the balloon from the metal TV stand at my forehead level. Next, I feigned nonchalance as I brushed off my black slacks and slid onto the stool behind my podium. Looking over the kids trying to stifle their hilarity, I began to laugh along with my 26 wide-awake seniors.

To this day, I cringe at the sight my balloon save must have been!

Now... it's your turn.
I can't wait to read your stories. If you're like me, it will be difficult to choose one.

Go to facebook.com/TeachitWriteLessonPlans and share YOUR funniest Teaching memory
The clock is ticking to the 10:00 pm deadline.

What will you do with the $10.00 GIFT CARD?

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

CLASS MATTERS is Launched!

Just in time to be ready for a new year, but still kick back and enjoy summer.  Check it out!

Class Matters: Planning, Teaching and Managing Secondary Classrooms

CLASS MATTERS: Planning, Teaching, and Managing Secondary Classes includes handouts and printables to meet teachers' wants and needs in these three focus areas, and also offers posts that suggest how, when and why the various  focuses will be most useful to them.  Although some of the information here is self-explanatory to rookie and veteran teachers, other ideas become clearer with short discussions. And sometimes …sometimes we just need a heads-up on how to use a new item-especially during Teacher Week because of all of the meetings- when we just. don’t. have. a. free. brain. cell. to. think. about. it.

This 100-page teacher resource bundle is divided into sections: PLANNING, TEACHING, and MANAGING CLASS MATTERS. Within each segment I have interspersed blogs to show teachers how to efficiently create flexible lesson plans, classroom rules, and behavior standards. Numerous teaching ideas, handouts and classroom management forms will meet many of your wants and needs in ONE PLACE to save you searching time. In the final pages, I invite you to take a break from all of your planning and organizing, and to kick back and relax with two posts: A Labor Day Lesson: A Contemporary Tale, and In Defense of Teenagers.

This bundle includes Freebies and paid products from my TpT Store, posts from my website, and many new ideas and printables. Here is a summary of the planning, teaching and managing secondary classrooms that comprise this 100-page teacher resource:

PLANNING pages 3-22
·        Let's Begin- Classmart Lifesaver List
·        When Planning- The Rule of Three Rules
·        Plan Up! Getting Started
·        Common Core Anchor Charts Grades 6-12
·        Bloom's Taxonomy Wheel
·        Class Matters- Keeping Track: Assignments Form
·        Class Matters-Keeping Track: Grades Form
·        Plan Up! Creating the Agenda (Using Animal Farm, George Orwell)
ü  Teacher Notes
ü  Student Calendar-Animal Farm
ü  Unit Structure Sample Form
ü  Unit Structure-Blank Form
ü  Unit Structure Activities Plan-Blank Form
ü  Response Letters: Alternative Animal Farm Activity
TEACHING IDEAS pages 23-55
·        Quartet of Ideas – 4 Freebies from my TpT Store
ü  Ten Sentence Format
ü  Analyzing Novels using the Elements of Literature
ü  Reel in Readers with Magnetizing Hooks
ü  Just say, NO!" to Dull Writing
·        First Day Activities- 3 Freebies from my TpT Store
ü  First Day Writing Assignment
ü  First Day Activity- Four Corners
ü  Writing Activities (First Day)- What About Me?
·        Friday Night Lights- Hook Students with a football and fall Non-fiction Unit
·        Teaching Ideas- Teaching Tip #1
·        Teaching Ideas- Teaching Tip#2
MANAGING CLASS MATTERS- Proactive Prevails pages 56-93
·        Five Teaching Tips That Eliminate Classroom Chaos
·        Managing Student Behavior: Obligations & Expectations
·        Managing Student Behavior: Alleviating Off-Task Behavior
ü  UhOh Bag
ü  UhOh Bag Writing Consequence Form
ü  General Incident/Consequence Form
·        Managing Classroom Behavior: Proactive Prevails: 3 Teacher Survival Lessons
·        Managing Class Matters: Form, Function and Flexibility
ü  Getting to Know You: A Teacher's Back To School Assortment of First day Forms and Activities
ü  Teaching Lifesavers: Twelve Classroom Management Forms
1.      Lesson Launch: Writing Warm-Ups (Teachers)
2.      Lesson Launch: Writing Warm-Ups (Students)
3.      Honor Statements
4.      Book Sign-Up Sheets
5.      General Essay Grading Rubric
6.      Late Homework Request
7.      Tardy Sign-In Sheet
8.      Restroom Pass
9.      Hall Pass
10.   Completed Assignments/Graded Assignments Folders
11.   Incident Form
12.   Closure: Exit Pass
·       Class Matters: Oh No! I Need a Sub
Relax and Enjoy-Two Posts
·        A Labor Day Lesson- A Contemporary Tale
·        In defense of Teenagers

Class Matters: Planning, Teaching, and Managing Secondary Classrooms

I sincerely hope that you are thrilled with these PLANNING,TEACHING and MANAGING CLASS MATTERS posts and printables. For more ideas, check out my products for the basic secondary English curriculum as well as for two of the most important electives –in my opinion- journalism and creative writing in my TpT Store -  Store/Connie. 


Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day,

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Class Matters Coming Soon


Since I am always concerned with What Teachers Want besides What Teachers Need, whenever the chance arises, I ask classroom colleagues these two questions. Although a fine line exists between Want –desires for a  satisfying  career- and Need- what is necessary for a successful career, all too often during a school term, we teachers know the lines cross instead of remaining parallel. Statisticians rely on quantitative answers. Me? I prefer qualitative knowledge - what I learn from my colleagues. The following list reveals  some of the answers to years of asking, “What do teachers Want?”.  I have compiled  CLASS MATTERS: Planning, Teaching, and Managing Secondary Classes to meet the wants and needs of my classroom colleagues leading students in grades 6-12.

1. Students should come to school ready and excited to learn.
2. I would be a happy camper if students completed their homework on time. I assign it so they can increase their knowledge, and so I can see how I can help them understand what we are studying.
3. Oh, to never again hear, “Oh, that’s right. We’re having a test today. Well, I forgot to study.”
4. When I ask for their thoughts and analysis, I don’t want students to answer what they think I want to hear. I want them to think and to share their thoughts.
5. What is  most aggravating is that it’s usually the kids who don’t turn their work in on time who complain when I don’t hand their papers back the very next class. How is this respectful?
6. Can they please, please get to class on time? It’s not fair to the others when I have to repeat what I have already covered.
7. Although my colleagues and I work together to follow the criteria set by the Program of Studies and how to weight our grades, we have different class rules., and that should be respected by students, colleagues, administrators and parents.
8. Students need to understand that school rules are in place for their safety and well-being and to create a positive and courteous learning environment. Running in the halls, texting, listening to music on their IPods, or whatever, foul language and dressing inappropriately for school are detrimental to this goal.

9. All I ask is that students just try in each aspect of school life, be it academic, social, behavioral, or extra-curricular areas.

Not only does this collection include handouts and printables to meet  both your wants and needs in these three areas, but it  offers posts that suggest how, when and why the  various  focuses will be most useful to you.  Although  some of the information here is self-explanatory to rookie and veteran teachers,  other ideas become clearer with  a short discussion. And sometimes …sometimes we just need  enlightenment on how to use  a new item because we just. don’t. have. a. free. brain. cell. to. think. about. it.

This 100 page teacher resource is divided into sections: Planning, Teaching, and Managing. Within each segment I have interspersed blogs to show  teachers  how to efficiently create lesson plans, classroom rules, and behavior standards. Numerous teaching ideas , handouts and classroom management forms will  meet many of your wants and needs. In the final pages, I invite you to take a break from all of your planning and organizing, and to kick back and relax with  two posts: A Labor Day Lesson: A Contemporary Tale, and In Defense of Teenagers.

Stay Tuned, and remember- 
CLASS Matters, and CLASS MATTERS always matter.


Monday, May 21, 2018

PTA- 12 Summer Ac-Cool-Ades for you!

12 Summer Ac-Cool-Ades for Teachers, Administrators, and Parents
Click! Click! Click! From about the third week of May through the third week of June, this clatter resonates around the country as teachers, parents and administrators snap off their alarm clocks, roll over to catch a few more zzzzzs and sigh, “Finally!”

Teachers, parents and administrators are the triple-tined spear that prod children into successful students and lifelong lovers of learning. 

Cheers to Teachers, Administrators & Parents

Here are 12 summer Ac-Cool-Ades spiked with my admiration for all that you do.  May they add more sweetness to your sandy, sleepy summer days.


Strawberry Lemonade Splash
Teachers not only hold the key, but they are the keystone of any successful educational program. Classroom instructors need to assess, sometimes instantly, why Johnny isn’t engaged and what type of hook they must bait to reel him into learning, and, consequently, his success. Each and every day they make the choices that will build Johnny’s confidence and help him understand that, “Yes, he can,” read any book, compute any equation, pass any test and write any essay because “Yes he is” smart enough to do so.

Pina Colada Slush (Mocktail or Cocktail- Sipper’s Choice)
Teachers understand that Jane and her 24 plus peers are not balls of clay composed of the same exact ingredients. Therefore, educators know that they need to create lessons that are fast-paced for Jane, hands-on for Joey, auditory-based for Betty and visually-grounded for Bob. The lessons need to be lively for Liz, hushed for Harry, repetitive for Rhonda, yet varied for Victor. Also, they all need to be focused on state and/or Common Core standards of learning, A.P. exams, and/or other testing criteria so Jane and her peers earn at least a proficient  or, in the case of A.P. exams- a score of 4 or 5.

Caramel Cappuccino Quencher
Teachers, knowing that the majority of their energy must be student-centered, spend hundreds of hours planning engaging lessons, assessing students’ progress (or lack thereof) and constantly making adjustments for their charges’ needs.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Milk Shake
Teachers appreciate the fact that they must form professional bonds with parents if their students are to experience success. They understand that parents are more than willing to discuss their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses as well as the attitudes and behaviors that could, and most often, affect their offspring’s’ success. Speaking of parents…


Southern Sweet Tea
Parents know that their children need their fierce protection, but recognize when to allow a teacher’s sincere worries about Johnny or Jane’s lack of success to penetrate this armor. During collegial conferences, they are open to listening to instructors’ concerns and to work with the teachers and their children to form academic action plans.

Cool Cucumber Lemonade
Parents put school first-and not their children’ jobs. Some kids work to pay for their cars, clothes and extra-curricular activities, but most moms and dads set a reasonable limit to this so that school remains a priority. Even parents whose kids must work to help to pay the rent and food bills push classroom success because they realize that their children’s future financial stability rests on a solid education.

Berry Blaster
Parents promote respectful attitudes toward education and teaching. They let their kids blow off steam about the dictatorial history teacher, the micromanaging algebra instructor and the never-ending reading and writing assignments from the English educator with a My Class Rules attitude. But…but, they never join with their children in denigrating these educationalists.

What a Peach Punch
Parents might disagree with the word picture about their son or daughter that the teacher paints, but they understand that the teachers see a side of their children that they don’t. They know that their children are multi-faceted, and reveal various sides of their personality to teachers, bosses, friends, frenemies, Aunt Marge and Grandpa George, and to them. They realize that those lessons on rounded, dynamic characters they survived in high school English classes are meant for actual living beings and their children, and not just for characters that spring from a writer’s imagination. They staunchly push this fact to administrators that their Jane or Johnny is not just a clay clone of any of the 24 plus children in each of her or his classes. Speaking of administrators…

Rockin’ Caffeine-Me Iced Coffee
Administrators hire teachers that they know will be the best fit at their school, and who bring with them goody bags overflowing with appealing activities, provocative lesson plans and inspiring attitudes. They hire professionals in their fields and never deny them their hard-earned classification.

Frozen Banana Foster Smoothie
Administrators understand the importance of data in the quest for AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress), but also know that each child carries to class a backpack crammed with feelings and fears, the reality of life situations, and the effects of prior academic circumstances. Respecting the fact that they hired professionals, they allow their teachers the space and time to help their students to jump any hurdles that could keep them from being successful test takers, but most importantly-lifelong lovers of learning.

Chocolate caramel Nut Frappuccino
Administrators will respectfully listen to any complaint against one of their teachers, but will not make any judgment at that time. Like parents with their children, they will close ranks around their staff member until they have collected all pertinent information from whatever necessary source (s). Only when armed with this information will they make a decision and privately, but in person, inform all involved parties.

Dock of the Bay Raspberry Bomb
Administrators will never forget the rigors of the classroom that they experienced and that their teachers face daily. Because of this, they will never turn a deaf ear to any staff member, parent, student or citizen of their district. They hold firm to the knowledge that a solid curriculum will stand up to any test, any scrutiny and any non-educator’s one size fits all dictate.

To teachers, parents and administrators, known and unknown, I send these Ac-Cool-Ades of appreciation, today and every day. Whether it’s during the school year or summer vacations, you struggle constantly against tides of criticism and waves of love-hate relationship with all things educational, yet you shine on and on and on.

This-NOT This! Summer Vacation

Now, it’s time for you to slide into an Adirondack chair, a hammock or a beach chair, open a good book, click on Hulu, Prime or Netflix, or fade into an earful of tunes and sip one or two of these Ac-Cool-Ades while you relax, rejuvenate and refresh.

Happy Summer to you all!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Teachers can and do, and do, and do!

Tomorrow, May 8th is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Better than that, some places celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week from May 7th-11th. My former school district chooses to honor their teachers with a full week of goodies. That makes my colleagues still leading classrooms very happy.
In appreciation for all that teachers can do and choose to do, and do, and do, here is an alphabetic listing of just a few of the people who enable us to enjoy lives that are healthier, happier, safer and enriched.

Athletes; Air conditioning and Heating service people; Air Traffic Controllers; Artists; Architects; Accountants; Administrative Assistants; Auto Mechanics
Bookeepers; Bakers; Butchers
Chefs; Caterers; Counselors; Clergy; Computer engineers, analysts an programmers; Curriculum designers; Construction managers and workers; Chauffeurs
Doctors; Dentists; Dairy farmers; Dieticians; Database administrators
Engineers; Electricians; Estheticians; Epidemiologists; Exterminators (insects and rodents)
Fire personnel; Financial advisors; Farmers
Geologists; Gynecologists; Geneticists;
Historians; Home designers; House decorators; Hair stylists; Human resources specialist;
Intelligence and counter-intelligence personnel; Internists; Information Security Analysts; Insurance agents
Judges; Journalists; Janitors; Jewelers; Jockeys
Keyboard operators;  Kiln builders and operators; Kitchen supervisors
Lifeguards; Lawyers; Laboratory technicians
Musicians; Military men and women; Mathematicians; Meteorologists; Marketing researchers and analysts; Manicurists; Maintenance workers 
Nurses; Nutritionists
Obstetricians; Ophthalmologists; Opticians; Occupational Therapists
Pilots; Police; Professors; Physicists; Psychologists, Psychiatrists; Physical Therapists; Physician Assistants; Pharmacists; Plumber; Paramedics; Principals
Quality Control personnel; Quilters
Ranchers; Respiratory Therapists; Real Estate agents; Receptionists; Restaurant servers
Software developers; Scientists; Social Workers; Statisticians; Speech Therapists
Thespians; Teachers; Technology specialists; Taxi drivers
Urologists; Underwriters; Upholsters; Utility workers
Veterinarians; Vacuum Cleaner service people; Van drivers
Writers; Web developers
X-Ray Technicians
Yacht designers and builders

And the list goes on, and on and on.

What do all of these professions and careers have in common?  They include people who do what they do because teachers taught them how to read, write, add and subtract, speak various languages, compute, invent, createthink, reasonanalyze, try and try again, and then do.

Teachers Appreciation  celebrations be they a Day or a Week remind us to thank teachers for all that they can do, and all that they choose to do, so that we can successfully do what we do. What an awesome profession!

Thank you, Teachers!!!

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

7 ways to Savor April's Poetic Sensory Explosion

Mother Nature must be in an incredibly perverse mood this April, because she is continuing to hold the Mid-Atlantic region captive under dismal, gray skies and chilled from February-Early March temperatures.  And did I mention precipitation? When it is not misting or raining - lots and lots of rain - the weather-wand lady is emptying buckets of wintery mix on our heads.

We are three days into April and fifteen anemic sunrises from the first day of Spring. Did she lose her calendar? Does she not realize that April is National Poetry Month, a time for students to blossom from the power of vibrant verses instead of wallowing in wells of weariness?

Obviously Mother Nature was never privy to the power of poetry… but we teachers are. This month we can feed our students with sunshine and the wonders of manipulating words by Showing Them poems from the masters of couplets, the geniuses of free verse, and the experts on scansion, Helping Them practice creating word pictures of their sensory reactions and their emotions, and by Letting Them move from novice poets to prodigies.

Take students on poetic journeys - even those who are veterans of this literary genre - by encouraging them to be active observers of the world around them, not passive spectators. Remind them that the same path, on any given day, can ignite a WOW! perspective instead of an apathetic blindness. Turn their days into Sensory Explosions- the foundation for poetry.

Remind them to keep a pencil and paper handy at all times this month, or to jot down notes on their phones before they lose the thought, memory, mental picture, etc.

Show Them:
1. Turn the walls of your classrooms into art galleries. Pin/tape up photographs, pictures from sites like pixabay, morguefile, the Public Domain or found through a Google search.  Ask students to add to the art show with their own (appropriate) images.
A.   For a bellringer or warm-up, ask each student to focus for 15 seconds on a picture that hooks him/her, and then to write down the first ten words that come to mind in their journals. 

B.    Have them write a paragraph about the people, place and or things in the image in prose form. When they are done, explain they need to cross out unnecessary words and turn the core thoughts/emotions into a poem.
They should date their entries and note the picture they chose.

Help Them:

2.  Play 2-3 minutes of music-rock, country, classical, jazz, rap, etc., and then ask the class to jot down how the music made them feel, and to describe the images rolling through their minds as they listened.

3. Ask them to listen to the words flowing around them in the cafeteria, the halls, other classes, walking through a crowd anywhere, and to jot down their general reactions to the various conversations, as well as specific emotions that they experienced as they heard them. 

4. Wrap various items with strong aromas in brown paper bags. Number each bag. Tie the opening closed, but allow a small opening so students can smell the scent. When they have finished, have them describe each aroma that remains in their minds. 

5.  Explain to the students that they need to be aware of the texture of objects as they move through their days- the smooth chill of the wall tiles in the hall, the grittiness of the floor by their back packs, the silkiness of the blooming tulip leaves, or the heat of the hood of their car after it sat in the sun for seven hours. Remind them to take  notes immediately so they capture their original emotion(s).

6. Encourage them to be aware of the textures and tastes of the food they eat and the drinks they consume - hot, room temperature, or cold. Bring in, or ask students to bring in: a bag of pretzels, a bag of chocolate chips, a bag of lemon drops, and a can of cocoa( with straws broken into pieces they can use to dip into the container instead of their fingers). Have them experiment with their tongues' taste buds: sweet on the tip, salty on the sides, sour behind the salty, and bitter in the back., and write down their reactions

Let Them:
After each activity, ask students to compose a poem in a format of their choice. Give them a due date for each exercise, and mention each of them will share one of their poems in class, but they can choose the activity that led to the piece they will read.

National Poetry Month
For 21 more ideas to make April a cool and not a cruel month, download this brand new FREE product: Poetry: 21 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month (Poetry-21-Ways-to-Celebrate-National-Poetry-Month).

Enjoy a (Sunny) Teach It Now April Day Every Day.