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...


  1. Your love for the middle grades is spilling out of this blog post. They are lucky to have you as their teacher. So many of my incoming freshmen love Spirit Bear. They talk about how great it is and how much they loved reading it in middle school!

  2. I love seeing all of your travel pics, MB. What an amazing experience it must have been.

  3. I love your pictures! So cute! I've also really enjoyed watching your summer adventures unfold on Instagram. Grateful to know you. :)

  4. Wow! Love the travel pics. What a fantastic experience! I have taken a mental note of your book recommendation - I always have a few reluctant readers each class.

  5. I love that you have taught in so many different and exciting places! I have always thought that I would like to teach in England. I love visiting there! I too have all boys here (2 boys + 1 husband) and even the dog! :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  6. I also love teaching Touching Spirit Bear! My students always enjoyed that novel unit when I taught middle school, as I'm sure yours do, too. I enjoy your travel pics, too!

  7. I have hear that this is a good read! I need to get in gear and get it read!
    Thanks for sharing! :)

  8. Your name tag activity is brilliant! It will help students start connecting with one another from day one. I'm lovin' it!

    Literary Sherri

  9. Can I be you? Such exciting adventures. I have a friend from Belize and so I have always wanted to visit there - I have heard it is just gorgeous! On a separate note, I just recently read Touching Spirit Bear and loved it too. I can see how it is certainly a student favorite. Have a fabulous Back to School, and keep up the amazing work you do. -Kristen @Simply Novel

  10. I love the name tag for visual learners and as a way to build community.

    Brynn Allison
    The Literary Maven

  11. Loved reading your post!! Your pics are awesome!!

  12. I always love your posts! Thank you!


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