The Literary League 12 Days of Giving Freebie Round-Up & Sale

The Literary League's 12 Days of Christmas includes 12+ seasonal and year round freebies for secondary English Language Arts teachers and a giveaway for a TPT gift certificate.

Thanks so much for the overwhelming response to the 12 Days of Giving hosted by the Literary League!  

To celebrate the season and our favorite fellow teachers (that’s you!), we’re all having a sale in our TpT shops today, Saturday, December 12th and tomorrow, Sunday, December 13th.  That’s right!  Pop over to each of our shops and you’ll find all of our resources at 20% off!

The Literary League's 12 Days of Christmas includes 12+ seasonal and year round freebies for secondary English Language Arts teachers and a giveaway for a TPT gift certificate.

Oh, and if you haven't entered for a chance to win the Teachers Pay Teacher gift card, you can do so below. Today is the last day to enter!

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Just in case you missed one of the featured freebies, click the links below.

The Creative Classroom - Two Column Notes Organizer
Perfetto Writing Room - SteadfastTin Soldier
Literary Sherri - Winter Poems - Poetry Analysis
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle - Christmas Zap Game
The Classroom Sparrow - Holiday Essay Outline
2 Peas and a Dog - Christmas Writing Prompts
Brain Waves Instruction - Endof Year Reflection and Infographic
The Daring English Teacher - WinterThemed Grammar Worksheets

From all of us Literary Leaguers, wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays!

Day 3 of the Literary League's 12 Days of Giving

Welcome to Day 3 of the Literary League's 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop! We know that the holiday season is busy for both teachers and students. You want to make learning fun, yet still meaningful while attempting to channel some of your students' energy and excitement about the upcoming holidays and days off from school. Today you'll find two seasonal resources that will help you do just that.

From Brain Waves Instruction: End of Year Reflection & Infographic
As the calendar year draws to a close, engage your students with this fun and creative Personal Reflection and Infographic Activity. First, students will complete a personal reflection about their year - including lessons they have learned, significant events, memorable moments, accomplishments, favorites, and even set goals for the next year. Then, students will complete an infographic template to present their reflection information quickly and clearly. The infographic is a fun and engaging way for students to educate and inform others about their year. This End of Year Activity is the perfect way for students to reflect on their lives and discover how to effectively use and read infographics.

From Secondary Sara: New Year's Countdown Writing Prompts
Count down to midnight with this FREE set of New Year's Eve writing prompts! Assign them right before, during, or after winter break, either in class or as homework, to write in a variety of topics and lengths. With prompts written as an easy to use checklist, use the copier-ready handout to keep students engaged with academic and personal reflections to celebrate 2015 and 2016 in a meaningful way!

And if you haven't already, enter to win the Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate below. The winner will be notified on December 13th.

Visit Two Peas And A Dog and The Classroom Sparrow tomorrow for Day 4 of the Literary League's 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop. Look for a special surprise coming on Day 12!

The Literary League Kicks Off 12 Days of Giving for Middle and High School ELA Teachers!

The Literary League's 12 Days of Christmas includes 12+ seasonal and year round freebies for secondary English Language Arts teachers and a giveaway for a TPT gift certificate. Enter December 1st - December 12th.

Literary Leaguers are in the holiday spirit and we’re hosting 
12 Days of Giving!

We’re super excited to share some of our favorite freebies (both seasonal and all-year-round resources) with you and give you the chance to win a Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate!  The 12 Days of Giving runs Tuesday, December 1st – Saturday, December 12th.

The Literary League's 12 Days of Christmas includes 12+ seasonal and year round freebies for secondary English Language Arts teachers and a giveaway for a TPT gift certificate. Enter December 1st - December 12th.

Here’s how it works…
Day 1 of Giving:  Enter to win the Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate at any of the participating Literary Leaguers’ blogs.

Days 2-11 of Giving:  Stop by each of these blogs for links to favorite English Language Arts freebies.  Hint:  Follow each of the blogs via email or Bloglovin' so that you don't miss out on the updates. You can even get the Bloglovin' app for your phone and read all your favorite bloggers in one feed!

Day 9 - Nouvelle

We have a feeling that you’ll love the seasonal and all-year-round resources! 

Day 12 of Giving:  We have something fun in the works for you on the 12th Day of Giving! Stop back at any of the participating blogs on December 12th to find out what we have in store for you!

Get started...

Enter to win the Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate below.   The winner will be notified on December 13th.

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Thanks & Giving eBooks

Literary Sherri and I have been busy compiling TWO eBooks designed especially for Middle School ELA teachers.  With the help of 50 other teacher-authors, we've created two Thanks & Giving eBooks.  Each book is filled with 52 'Thanks' pages and 52 'Giving' pages!

The 'Thanks' pages are all about gratitude.  Each teacher-author designed a 'Thanks' page and filled it with information about what they're most thankful for...everything from a life moment, to a favorite Young Adult book, to a teaching strategy.  The 'Thanks' pages celebrate gratitude and the teaching profession.  Plus, they're a fantastic way to learn more about teacher-authors you already love and meet new teacher-authors to fall for.

Each teacher-author also contributed a 'Giving' page to the two eBooks.  The 'Giving' pages are print-and-teach resources that can be used in your classroom tomorrow.  You're going to LOVE the resources that are in the eBooks!  Each 'Giving' page is designed to be print-and-teach.  So, you'll be able to use the free printables in your classroom tomorrow.  Pretty great!

Ready to check them out?  Just click on the covers below!

Thanks for stopping by,

How to Nail Your Classroom Observation

As teachers we all know that two of the most dreaded words in our profession are Classroom and Observation. Just the thought of someone walking into our rooms to evaluate our every move and instructional practice can send some of us teachers into a tailspin. 

Early in my teaching career I would get so wound up before a classroom observation.  Then, during the actual observation my nerves would get to me. The good news is that as the years have progressed I'm much more confident during my classroom observations...and the following tips and tricks are why...

lesson observation tips, classroom observation success, classroom observation ideas

When preparing for a classroom observation, most teachers put a lot of pressure on themselves to plan an out-of-this-world lesson with all the bells and whistles and current educational trends...and can you blame a teacher?  Of course you want to create a dynamite lesson, but if you really want to nail your observation then you might be better off sticking with what you already know...and more importantly what your students know.  So, if you rock some amazing centers or stations activities in your everyday classroom, then develop an observation lesson around that.  Or perhaps you do an awesome job incorporating the arts into your lessons or tapping into the needs of diverse learners.  Whatever it is that you do well...that's what you should be showing off.  Skip the newest trend in education and stick with what you know.  You'll look a lot more comfortable and that will go a long way!


Of course you're going to write some detailed lesson plans for your observation lesson, but I'd like to suggest writing some back up plans as well.  After planning your observation lesson play out every worst-case scenario in your mind...

--- What will you do if the lesson ends early?
--- What if the entire lesson is a bust?
--- What will you do if you're incorporating technology into your instruction and the technology doesn't work?
--- What will you be teaching before the scheduled observation (in case your administrator shows up early)?
--- What do you have planned for after the observation lesson (in case your administrator stays later)?
--- What if your administrator gets tied up and doesn't show at all?

Then, come up with a solution for each scenario.  Is there a review game that you can play if the lesson ends early?  
Back Up Plans FREEBIE

Do you have an activity that aligns to your lesson that students can work on if you have to solve technology issues?  I'm a big fan of back up fact you find all my favorite ideas for tending to the worst-case scenarios above in this BACK UP PLANS FREEBIE.

For a long time, I thought that the classroom observation was a TEACHER observation.  So, I designed lessons that were extremely teacher-heavy.  Then, one day I had an epiphany.  It's a CLASSROOM observation.  Which means that as a teacher I should be showcasing what my class of students typically does while they learn.  

Sequencing Mini-Unit

Gone are the days when I monopolized the entire observation with my voice and perspective.  Now, during a classroom observation I let my students do all the work.  They're the ones talking, leading, thinking, questioning, and learning.  Nail your observation by keeping your students busy and active.

The foundation of every great lesson is great classroom management.  Without solid classroom management, even the best lesson will fall flat.  So, make sure that your classroom management system is in check. I've used the "Stop" and "Keep it Up" behavior cards in my classroom before and they're a hit (you can find them in this FREEBIE).  

Or one of the simplest ways to manage a classroom is to write a key word or phrase on the chalkboard.  Perhaps it's "Prize" or "No Homework." Then, explain to students that you will be erasing a letter for any behavior that gets in the way of learning in your classroom.  If there are any letters left in the word or phrase at the end of the class, the entire class can receive a prize (maybe a free answer on the homework or pencils or picking their own seats during the next class).  Of course, you probably have your own behavior management systems in place...and there's no better time to show them off than in a classroom observation!

This is probably the most important way to nail a classroom observation.  Just be you!  When I'm teaching, I'm very silly.  I like to sing songs off key and out of tune.  I like to jump off of chairs and dance around the room.  I like to share funny stories.  I also make mistakes while I'm teaching.  I sometimes get going too fast or fumble over my words.  Rather than hide all of those things, I've found that it's far better to just be me.  In fact, in one of my classroom observation feedback forms an administrator went on and on about the kicks that I was doing to celebrate students' learning.  It's something dorky that I do.  But it's me and it truly showed my administrator what it's like to learn in my room.  So whoever you that!  Your administrator isn't looking for a robot, he or she is observing what makes your classroom unique and the ultimate hub of learning.

There you have it...five of the tips and tricks that have helped to make classroom observations a lot less stressful in my world.  I hope that they help you too!  

I love sharing ideas and resources with teachers.  In fact, the Brain Waves Instruction Community is designed to do just that.  If you'd like to learn more ways to make teaching and learning more fun be sure to sign up for the Brain Waves Instruction newsletter.  
It's where I share exclusive freebies and ideas with the Brain Waves Instruction Community members.  Here's some of the freebies that many members are enjoying now...

I also love giving away units and resources to Brain Waves Instruction Community Members.  If you'd like to sign up for the newsletter just CLICK HERE (and receive a freebie instantly)!

Thanks for stopping by,
Mary Beth

Warm Ups that Work!

It's Secondary Smorgasbord time (thanks for setting this up ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures) and we're talking about bell ringers and daily warm ups today.

I'm going to honest here, I've attempted to create engaging daily warm ups for many years now...and I've failed at a bunch of them.  Although I had really good intentions, I just couldn't find a warm up that was the right fit for middle school students.  

Some of my warm-up fails were super boring (the kids wouldn't do them), or way too difficult (students needed a mini-lesson to even get started), or too easy (they were done in less than 30 seconds), or completely unrelated to what we were learning.

So, this past year I really focused on creating a set of warm ups for my students.  Here were my criteria...

The warm-ups needed to...

----- Instantly engage students so that I didn't have to spend the first five minutes of class begging my students to get working.
----- Include activities that they could complete all on their own without additional instruction from me.
----- Be simple enough so that kids could truly finish them in 5-ish minutes at the start of class, yet still challenge students to think.
----- Have a way to extend the leaning for fast finishers.
----- Tap into a variety of critical ELA skills.
----- Be EASY TO GRADE. 

And from this list, the THIS OR THAT Daily Warm-Ups were born.  Click the video below to see what I have to say about them :)!

And I'm not kidding when I tell you that I'm in love with them...and my students are too!  They meet each of my criteria.

INSTANTLY ENGAGING - Here's the cool part about the This or That Warm-Ups, they're all about choice.  That's right, students get to choose which portion of the warm up that they'd like to complete each day.  They can either do the "This" activity or the "That" activity.  It's built in differentiation and super motivating!

NO ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTION NEEDED - Along the top of each warm up I included essential information that they'll need to complete the warm up. That means that they can truly do the warm up without any additional instruction for me.  Love that!

FAST FINISHERS?  NO PROBLEM - Since there are two activities on each warm up, fast finishers can just complete the other version of the warm up.  How cool is that?  And fast finishers are rewarded for their effort with bonus points.  Easy!

SKILL VARIETY - Not only do the warm-ups have a variety of activities from matching to editing to fill-in-the-blanks, the warm-ups themselves tap into a variety of skills.  Within a pack of 20 warm ups kids will work on grammar, punctuation, mechanics, creative writing, and reading comprehension.  This helps them feel novel and engaging!

EASY TO GRADE - I've developed a simple system to grade students' warm-ups with grade sheets.  On the grade sheets students are required to write down what they learned while completing the warm up.  Then, once a week I review their work and grade it based on a check, check-minus, and check-plus system.  So simple!  Oh, and since I use the warm-ups in different ways throughout the year, I created 4 different grading options.  

Not only are the This or That Warm-Ups filled with choice for students, they're also filled with choices for teachers.  Of course there's the grading options.  But, teachers can even choose how they set up the This or That Warm Ups in their classroom.  You could have kids create folders to store their work or you could simply create warm up packets.  Oh, and some teachers are even using them in interactive notebooks.  How cool is that?

It's true, I'm nuts about the This or That Warm Ups, but my favorite part about them is that my students are independently learning and practicing critical skills as they settle into classroom each day...and that creates the opportunity to read aloud to them at the start of the class period.  It's such a calming way to start the class and sets the tone for learning.  

You can find two sets of the This or That Daily Warm Ups here and here.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

The Literary League's Back To School Giveaway!

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by. It's alright’ cause I'm saved by The Literary League! That’s right, we are at it again! It’s one of the biggest back-to-school give-aways courtesy of some of your favorite ELA sellers. 

We’re teachers too, so we know that feeling of going back to school.  Cure those back to school blues by entering this HUGE give-away. Not only multiple prize packs, but also multiple winners!

The give-away will run Monday 8/31 to Monday 9/14. You’ll see some familiar and maybe even some new faces, so follow our stores and our social media accounts, and stay updated with what’s new! Winners will be announced Tuesday 9/15.

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

Prize # 1: Gift Card of Choice
Win a $50 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon, Staples or Target.

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Prize #2: Middle School Resources

Win all of the resources listed below for your middle school ELA classroom.
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Prize #3: High School Resources

Win all of the resources listed below for your high school ELA classroom.
Close Reading: Guide Your Students Through the Process
Interactive Notebook Bundle
Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion
Common Core Literature Bell Ringers for Secondary English
Found Poetry Packet
Introduction to Close Reading for Middle and High School - Model and Practice
Critical Thinking: What is Textual Analysis #2
Fiction and Nonfiction Test Passages
Short Story Starters Task Cards 

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Prize # 4: Middle School TpT Store Shopping Spree 

Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
2 Peas and a Dog
The Creative Classroom
Literary Sherri
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Darlene Anne
Fisher Reyna Education
Brain Waves Instruction
Stacey Lloyd
James Whitaker's Sophist Thoughts
Created by MrHughes
ELA Everyday

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Prize #5: High School TpT Store Shopping Spree  

Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
Room 213
The Daring English Teacher
Making Meaning with Melissa
Linda Jennifer
Brynn Allison
Juggling ELA

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Back to School Sale!

It's happening!  Back to School Time!  I love dreaming of a new school year, setting up the classroom, and finding just the right resources for students.  Luckily, finding high-quality resources for secondary ELA is as easy as stopping by these sellers' stores on Teachers Pay Teachers...

The best part?  The Literary League of Secondary ELA Teachers are all participating in TpT's site-wide sale!  I'm off to check out these shops right now...

Wishing you a wonderful school year!

Brain Waves Instruction Goes Back to School

I'm blog hopping with some awesome secondary ELA teacher-authors from The Literary League today.

Everyone's sharing a bit about themselves and their teaching experiences, a favorite novel, and a favorite get-to-know-you back to school activity for the first days of school.  I don't know about you, but I'm super psyched to read all the other blog posts from the Literary League members.  (So, I won't be offended if you just skim over my post below and skip right to checking out the others' posts...after all, I can hardly wait myself!)

OK...if you're still reading, let's get started.  The first element of this blog hop is sharing about ourselves.  I'm going to make this pretty brief...mostly because I'm pretty boring. 

For my entire life I've wanted to be a teacher...and I've had lots of fun teaching lots of awesome kids (mostly adolescents) in different states and countries (Belize, Africa, and England --- see pics below).  

The majority of my teaching career has been in the middle school classroom and I love it!  Middle schoolers keep me humble --- they tell me when my outfit is horrible.  They make me laugh -- they call concrete poetry "cement poetry."  They make me proud -- they take risks and grow every day.  They're pretty great!

Aside from feeling happy in the classroom, I also love having adventures with my boys (two + one husband).  I'm crazy about home design, finding a great deal (on anything), laughing with friends, traveling to new places, escaping into a great book, writing curriculum, and eating dessert!

 Now, let's talk books.  Teachers are always on the hunt for a great classroom novel, right?  Well, if you haven't read Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen, you might want to give it a try.  It's a page-turner about a troubled teenager.  I love reading this book aloud to students (when they're doing their bell work) or teaching this book in small groups.  It's an especially wonderful book because it turns even the most reluctant readers into engaged readers.  It's a must-read...or must-teach!

And, now let's talk about Back to School!  One of my favorite get-to-know-you activities is to have students create name tags with a twist.  The twist part is that the name tags are also a way to get to know students.  

First, students complete a survey about themselves.  Then, they color in the name tag with specific colors based on their answers to the survey.  Finally, they fill in their name and assemble their name tag.  Once the name tags are made it's fun to have students find classmates with name tags that are super similar to their's or name tags that are very different.  When the name tags are on students' desks they're great for learning kids' names...and the added bonus is that there's a little inspiration on the back of the name tag for students to look at.  It's simple, interactive, and functional!

You can find FREE copies of this back to school activity in my 5 SIMPLE WAYS to PREPARE for BACK to SCHOOL blog post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Well, that's it for sure to check out these great teacher-authors...

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