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Fortune Cookies and Furry Friend Love

Every Christmas Eve when I was a kid, my father used to take me to E.J. Korvette's Department Store to buy my mother a Christmas present. Being a kid who enjoyed shopping, I loved Korvette's, just like I love Barnes and Noble today. That's a lot.

Korvette's had typical department store fare, with a couple of interesting twists. One being a pet department. With real animals. Critters that walked around freely on the floor. Even baby chicks. I kid you not. Now it seems odd, but when I was a kid, it was just cool. I don't remember anybody working there, just me and my dad surrounded by chicks, puppies, and kittens.

Being a kid who loved animals, Korvette's was better than a petting zoo.
The other twist? Well, in order to get to the pet department, you had to go down the escalator. And directly in front of the escalator stood a gypsy fortune-teller in a big booth. Remember Zoltar in the Tom Hanks movie, Big? This baby was like Mrs. Zoltar. She had these creepy eyes that would follow you no matter where you stood. I was terrified of her-- certain that if I put my quarter in she would predict my imminent and gruesome death.

Being a kid who was a mini-hypochondriac, I kept my quarter to myself.

So is it crazy of me that I enjoy making and serving fortune cookies so much? They are easy to make and fun to serve. I've made them for my family, and I've made them for my students. To my knowledge, no one has ever been scared to eat one.

Being a person who doesn't like to creep kids out, I only include funny fortunes, which I predict...you can get right here...

The recipe, along with many others, is in the free 2014 Secondary Sellers' Holiday Recipe Book. It's been compiled by the lovely, Mrs. S., and I know I can't wait to dig in to some of those recipes. 

I also included Sunny T.'s favorite doggie treats in the ebook. We can't forget our furry friends during the holiday season!

You know what? Being a person who is really a chicken, I'm pretty sure that if I saw that gypsy today, I would still be scared. 


Secondary Smorgasbord: Teachers' Traditions

I never realized just how many classroom holiday traditions I have, until I tried to settle on one to write about. Does that mean I honor traditions? Or does it mean that I'm stuck on repeat? Is my whole life Groundhog Day? Am I destined to be that teacher everyone rolls their eyes at? Poor thing, there she goes again with that project... 

Enough with my existential crisis. Truth is, I just happen to love so much about the holiday season. For several years we would read Dickens' original version of A Christmas Carol. I grew to know it so well that I could probably play every part on stage. It kills me every single time Scrooge tells Marley's ghost the rationale behind his appearance, "You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” 
If you are lucky enough to be teaching A Christmas Carol, you are going to love this:



video
Created in 1901, it's the first known film adaptation of A Christmas Carol. The entire story is told in under five minutes, and it even has some impressive special effects for the time. By special effects, I mean that Marley's face is superimposed on the door knocker. Okay, this isn't a George Lucas film, but it's 1901 for goodness sake.

Let me know what you think!



I'm Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy!

Leave it to the most adorable nerds on the block, Mel and Gerdy from Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy, to come up with a fun "Mad Libs" style link-up. I just had to try it. But it had to be real, so I did not read through the passage first. You're not supposed to, right? Hey, I live on the edge.

Anyway, I had my son read me the categories, and these are my answers, in all their ridiculous glory. So here goes...


My little monster is my dog, Sunny T., who has taken to jumping on my bed and sleeping with his chin on my neck, thanks to his daddy (who says let him stay, the poor thing is scared and lonely, which is shocking since he gave me grief due to being dead set against getting a dog, blah blah blah.)

The watermelon margarita is because I pretend I live in the tropics. Sad. I know.

The covered wagon is because when I get too many emails I envy the Amish. 

The negligee is what I wear every night to bed. Over my sweatpants. 

Super Secondary Cyber Sale Savings!

Here's a riddle:

  • What comes around once a year and enables me to shop while wearing my flannel Miss Piggy jammies and my Kermit slippers?
  • What comes around once a year and allows me to plan lessons to address CCSS while simultaneously watching Ralphie shoot his eye out?
  • What saves me more money than the Crazy Coupon Lady's Velveeta coupons- without having to use any coupons at all?!

Okay, so as riddles go this one's not very clever. Or funny. But I do like my Miss Piggy jammies, and I will enjoy wearing them while I save up to 28% at the TpT Super Cyber Savings Sale, taking place on December 1st and 2nd.

The talented Super Secondary Team is participating in the sale, so you can get some phenomenal deals on resources for any subject area. Take a look at this beautiful graphic designed by the uber-talented and lovely Danielle Knight, and enjoy shopping in your Kermit slippers!

TpT SUPER CYBER SAVINGS 2014!  Up to 28% off the entire site ?Monday, December 1st and Tuesday, December 2nd  Promo Code at Check out- TPTCYBER  -Participating Stores:
Danielle Knight 
Super Secondary TpT Teachers Wish you a Wonderful Holiday Season!

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.     
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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: