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Secondary Smorgasbord Happy Hour! Free and Fabulous Resources for Teachers

You've worked hard all week. You've got chalk-dust in your hair and two hundred essays to grade, Added to that, you waited too long to get to the restroom, so now some nasty urinary tract bacteria is making a comfy home in your bladder. Again.

Well, it's time for the most incredible happy hour you've ever seen. Because the Secondary Smorgasbord Happy Hour, brought to you by Pam from Desktop Learning Adventures and me, doesn't just promise you a temporary good time that will cost you dearly with a wicked hangover the next day. Nay nay.

You'll never regret stopping by, because we've got some of the very best secondary bloggers in the blogosphere ready and willing to actually help you do your work! They're giving you tips about amazing free resources in every content area, along with links so you can have them too!

What's that I hear? Angels, you say? Angels are singing? Yes! I hear them every time someone offers to help me do my work. Which means I've never heard them before now. Well, there was that one other happy hour...but I think that might have been the tequ...never mind.     
My contribution is my interactive notebook lesson on how to write a short response using text evidence. My middle school kids love it, and they automatically know when a RAPS response is needed. They use the technique in all subjects, and their other teachers love it too. 

I've included a reading passage, text evidence question, and a sample response. That's really all you need to teach the lesson. Beside students, that is. At lease one. 

My students love to use foldables, and they started to call them "foldanizers" because they fold and organize. Kids are so clever and creative, aren't they?
  RAPS Text Evidence Writing in all Subjects

So kick off your shoes, click through, take a look, and enjoy visiting the blogs and collecting these wonderful resources. I promise you won't have a headache tomorrow. Unless you don't like singing angels.

Tips for Teaching Nonfiction

Teachers, Lovers of Literature,...heck anyone...lend me your ears. Prepare for the Golden Age of Nonfiction.

It wasn't long ago that ELA teachers were freaking out concerned about the focus on informational text. Part of that is because we tend to enjoy freak-out parties teaching literature so much that we thought we would be turning kids off reading. And truth be told, many of us just don’t know enough about teaching nonfiction to feel competent enough to teach it.

Have no fear. Yes, the revolution has begun, but it’s not all gloom and doom. In fact, kids are fascinated by the people and world around them, so getting middle school kids hooked on nonfiction isn’t difficult at all. Neither is teaching it. Here are some tips to get you started.

1)     Immerse yourself- and your classroom- in high-quality resources. The nonfiction revolution has been a boon to the publishing industry, and they have heeded the call to action. Books are available on every topic under the sun and then some. Do you have students interested in Legos? Try putting Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don L. Wulffson on your shelf. Would anybody like to read about a dog that could climb trees? And who wouldn't?! Try Farley Mowat’s The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. Spies? Try Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy by Seymour Reit.  For more book ideas, check out my Middle School Nonfiction Pinterest board. I originally created this so I’d have a go-to list for my bookstore trips, but I’m happy to share!

2)    Teach students what to look for in nonfiction, some of which is the same as fiction. Just like its literary sister, well-written nonfiction includes figurative language like metaphor, simile, personification, etc...It also contains technical language exclusive to the topic, resulting in a goldmine for vocabulary development. Teach students how to read text features such as charts, graphs, and embedded text, which will aide their understanding of the text. Additionally, teach students to evaluate the difference between fact and opinion, so they will be able to evaluate arguments.

3)    This might be the toughest, but hear me out. Begin thinking of independent reading differently. Sometimes, requiring students to read a variety of shorter pieces like articles and essays makes more sense than asking them to read a book. Think about it. If I suddenly developed an interest in Pooktre art, a form of tree-shaping, what would I do first?
 Realistically, I would look it up online and read a few articles about it. If the shorter texts pique my curiousity, I would move on to a book on arborsculpture.  

        Short selections give us a chance to explore a myriad of topics, while requiring as much thinking as longer pieces. And kids will be much more likely to pick up some shorter selections. They don’t seem nearly as daunting as an entire book, especially for reluctant readers.

 It's an exciting time! About fifteen years ago I remember encouraging friends in my book club to read young-adult fiction. I think I may be ready to do the same for nonfiction. 

 Stay tuned for more blog-posts on middle school nonfiction. In the meantime, brush up on your Pooktre art, and share your nonfiction ideas-please! I'd love to learn from you!

 Viva la revolution! 

Meet...and Teach!

Would you like some wonderful, FREE teaching resources? What if I told you they are ready to print-and-go and were created by some of TpT's finest secondary teacher/authors? Well, you are in luck!

Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, and Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy have compiled 3 FREE Meet and Teach e-books profiling SECONDARY teacher-authors who have shared resources. There are 25 TpT stores represented in each e-book. That means 75 FREE, ready-to-use resources! 

The Amazing ELA Contributors!

The e-books center around ELA, Math & Science, and Humanities (Social Studies, Art, Foreign Language, and more ELA).  In them you'll find a 'meet' page completed by each seller that includes responses to 5 prompts.  You'll get to learn a bit about each seller like their favorite book or things that make them happy.  Then, each seller provided you with a 1-page resource that you can use in your classroom tomorrow.  
These e-books are filled with awesome teachers, little insights into each sellers' life, and resources that are easy to implement in your classroom.  They're pretty amazing.  And if you check out the linky, you can find out even more about the resources and how to use them! 

Of course, you don't have to take my word for it, you can find them here:

Clever Ideas for Teachers

     "I'll introduce you. But you'll regret it. Almost everyone does," my friend said, as she chuckled knowingly. 
     "Say goodbye to your husband. Your kids. Even the dog," she warned. 
     This was getting scary now. The dog? No. Not the dog!
     Oh, I would not be deterred. She was exaggerating anyway. You know how some people are.
     *Sigh* How naive I was back then. That fateful day I learned how to use Pinterest. 
    We've been through a lot, Pinterest and me. When we add in the dollar store, we are pure magic. Thanks to P and DS my classroom has never been so beautifully organized. My anchor charts have never been so colorful. My "getting to know you" ideas and writing prompts have never been so dynamic. 

      Regrets? I've had a few. The duct tape wallets my advisory class tried to make. I had that pinned to my "Clever Ideas" board. It's not so clever when your money sticks to your wallet because the designer doesn't completely fold in the edges. And we won't even talk about the NECCO conversation heart picture frames. Let's just say that dogs don't tolerate glue ingestion very well. And maybe you should watch out for my "Clever Ideas" board.
      But mostly, I've had successes. Wild, joyous successes. Here are a few of my favorites.
                                                This year's dollar store haul.
         Sunny T. had to hop onto the chair to get in on the action. Okay, maybe he was feeling a little neglected.
            Here is clever idea #1. No more multiple pinholes. I just hang these colorful clips on the pushpins. The board stays neat looking, and I can easily switch out the display.                

     Clever idea #2. All of my class rosters are hanging on one lanyard! All I have to do is grab it and dash out to save myself my class (kidding, people!) in case of an emergency, fire drill, or assembly. 

       Clever idea #3. No more missing pencils! These duct tape pencil markers work like a charm.

      Speaking of charm, My Love is beckoning. I haven't pinned in at least an hour.

Super Secondary Lifesaver Lessons Labor Day Linky!

          The new school year has started, and the book you need for your next unit was supposed to arrive yesterday... but didn't. Or, you need something wonderful to leave with a sub, and you need it NOW! Or maybe laryngitis is making you sound like Bea Arthur, and you want your students to work on something that doesn't require you to do a lot of talking.
         Take a deep breath. We've all been there. The great Super Secondary group is here to help with a Labor Day Lifesaver Lessons blog hop, hosted by the magnifique Tammy from Teaching FSL!
        Sometimes you need a lifesaver lesson; a low prep,easy to use, print and go lesson that will be meaningful to your students. No busywork. When I need such a resource, I turn to this.
        This study tip flip book is so easy and fun to put together that your kids will "flip" for it! Best yet, all you have to do is make the copies!
        The Don't Flip! Study Tip Flip book includes lifelong strategies on how to study. Organization, memorization, note-taking, and more are covered. Once students put the book together, they'll read through the booklet and answer accountability questions about each strategy. 

        I like to use the black-line version,because my students like to take the book home to color. If you're wondering, yes, 12 year olds DO like to color! And they are darn good at it too!
        Here's what it looks like:

Come and take a look!

Days of Gratitude

In my attempt to find some calm in the end of the year chaos, I decided to start a 7 Days of Gratitude series. I realize that we have set aside a day to show thankfulness, and this is not it. But one measly day a year is not nearly enough. If you think it might be refreshing to consciously practice gratitude right about now, please feel free to join me! Stores celebrate Christmas in July. Why can't we have Thanksgiving in Spring?

Two researchers in the field of positive psychology, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, describe gratitude as the ability to be keenly aware of the good things that happen to you and never take them for granted. They say that grateful people express their thanks and appreciation to others in a heartfelt, sincere way.

I would like to begin my 7 Days of Gratitude by thanking Michelle, The 3AM Teacher
Michelle is a talented artist and an absolute pleasure to work with! Somehow, she understood my vague requests, and figured out exactly what I would love. (Michelle may have the ability to perform magic, but this has not been confirmed.)  Please visit her blog, The 3AM Teacher if you are in need of a blog design. I know you will be as grateful as I am.

It is in the spirit of thankfulness that I introduce this freebie:
Warning: this product will leave your colleagues feeling warm and fuzzy. Has been known to cause grown teachers to cry.