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All Treats & No Tricks - Free Resources for Teachers!

Can you believe we're already heading into the whirlwind that is the end of October?!?

Speaking of the end of October, look at these classroom tricks that will take your teaching to the next level this fall!

     The Power of Audio Books
     Meaningful Prompts for Struggling Readers
     Silent Signals: Cups

Of course, you can't have tricks without treats. Thanks to Darlene Anne from ELA Buffet and Pam from Desktop Learning Adventures, The Secondary Smorgasbord has you covered with some amazing free resources that are perfect for this time of year!

My treat for you . . . Tic Tac Tale! Nothing grabs students' attention quite like Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy classic, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” After teaching this spooky story, students use Tic Tac Tale to complete 3 unique writing responses, then choose one of those responses to revise, edit, and polish. Students love all the fun choices and teachers love seeing their students engaged in writing! Click here or on the images below to grab Tic Tac Tale for your students . . . then grab a mug of steaming hot apple cider and hop through the blogs below to enjoy some amazing free teaching resources for 6th-12th grade teachers!

5 Ways to Make the Most of the TpT Back to School Sale

It's the most wonderful time of the year . . . time to prepare for another school year! I love the excitement, anticipation, and energy this time of year! And I'm super-excited to team up with some amazing 6-12 English teachers to highlight a host of ideas, resources, tips, and strategies throughout the year that will help make 2015-16 one of your best year's yet!

Over the past 3 months, I've had the opportunity to meet several of The Literary League teachers in person. They are the cream-of-the-crop . . . master teachers, knowledgeable about relevant education trends, passionate about their craft, and genuinely good people!

Awesome Bonus: The 6-12 English resources these teacher-authors are creating are the best resources on the market, and several of these resources will be highlighted here throughout the upcoming year -- starting this week, with the annual sitewide sale at Teachers Pay Teachers!

That's right, it's time to take advantage of the the annual TpT Back-to-School Sale as you prepare for the exciting year ahead! Getting ready for a new school year can be expensive . . . let us help you with some top-notch resources at great back-to-school prices! The sale is Monday and Tuesday, August 3 and 4. Save up to 28% with the sale code: BTS15.

Here are some ways to take full advantage of the sitewide sale:

-Log in to your Teachers Pay Teachers account.

-Go to your 'My Purchases' page and make sure you've left feedback on all past purchases. Doing so builds credits that you can use toward your sale purchases, stretching your hard-earned dollars even further!

-Buy bundles! Many sellers reduce already-discounted bundles during site-wide sales. For instance, all the money-saving bundles in my store are reduced an additional 28% during sales . . . bringing your total savings to nearly 50%! Look for bundles to get even more bang for your buck!

-See if your favorite TpT Teacher-Authors have a "Buy My Entire Store" option. These super-mega-bundles usually save you big bucks. Save even more by picking them up during sitewide sales!

-Check your Wishlist! Sitewide sales are a great time to purge resources you're no longer interested in and nab those you still want!

-Finally, don't forget to enter your sales code before you checkout! Your code for this sale is BTS15. Use it and enjoy the back-to-school love!

Speaking of love, The Literary League puts a lot of love into their resources . . . and they're sharing the back-to-school love with you during this back-to-school sale! Don't forget to check out these amazing TpT shops . . . you'll discover a lot of resources you can't live without, and you may find a few new favorite TpT sellers in the process. It doesn't get better than that!

Literary Sherri
Danielle Knight (Study All Knight)
Darlene Anne- ELA Buffet
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Created by MrHughes
The Classroom Sparrow
The Daring English Teacher
ELA Everyday
Juggling ELA
Making Meaning with Melissa
2 Peas and a Dog
Secondary Solutions-Simply Novel
Addie Williams
Linda Jennifer
Fisher Reyna Education
The Creative Classroom
Stacey Lloyd
Room 213
Brynn Allison
Open Classroom
Perfetto Writing Room
Secondary Sara
Tracee Orman
James Whitaker
The Superhero Teacher
Created for Learning
Brain Waves Instruction

Happy Back-to-School Shopping!

Literary Sherri Goes Back to School

After a bit of a summer hiatus, I’m blog hopping today with The Literary League – some pretty fabulous secondary ELA teacher-authors. You should definitely know these teachers and their resources, as they create some of the highest-quality resources you will find anywhere. It’s a privilege to be collaborating with them, and I’m excite to introduce you to them!

First, a bit about me . . . I was the kid who loved school and everything about it. In early elementary grades, I cried on the last day of school before holiday breaks and summer vacation. Literally. I spent summers setting up a classroom on a blanket in the corner of the living room and creating schoolwork for stuffed animals – and later for siblings and neighborhood friends. In 4th grade, I announced that I would be a teacher when I grew up . . . and I never considered anything else.

I started teaching in 1992. After a brief stint in 6th grade, I settled into 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts and I love it! Middle schoolers are both fun and funny. They are curious about the world and their role in it; they exaggerate nearly every experience and emotion, and they are wildly optimistic about their possibilities and futures. They keep me on my toes and I thoroughly enjoy working with them!

In life outside of school, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, theatre and museums, weekend getaways, photography, and getting lost in good books.

Speaking of good books, one of my favorite books to teach is The Giver by Lois Lowry. I can read it over and over again and never tire of the story and the many meaningful discussions it lends itself to, and I always appreciate students’ thoughts about diversity, individuality, freedom of choice, wisdom, the importance of preserving memories and learning from the past, the possibility of creating a utopian society, and the advantages and disadvantages of sacrificing personal freedom to gain a more peaceful society. Middle schoolers have a lot to say about these thought-provoking topics and their insights never fail to amaze me! The Giver is an absolute must in middle school!

Speaking of school, it’s that time again . . . time to plan and prepare for a new year! I love the excitement and anticipation of a brand new school year! One of my favorite back-to-school activities is having students work in teams to design and build a new toy! Though you'd probably never hear them say it aloud, middle schoolers still love playing with interlocking building bricks! Ask them to get busy creating with a few friends, and they think they've just had the best school day of their entire lives! They think this activity is the bomb!

I also think it's the bomb because it fosters team-building, critical thinking, collaborative problem-solving, communication, and social skills amongst students. It's collaborative and hands-on, it integrates other disciplines, and it allows me to start understanding students' learning and communication styles right away. While this is not your typical "get to know you" activity, it truly helps students get to know one another and connect with one another right away -- and it helps me get to know a lot about the students in my classes, as well! In fact, I'm so crazy about this back-to-school activity, that I've made it free! Grab it here and enjoy your first week back with students!

I know you’ll enjoy hopping through these blog posts and getting to know a few other super-amazing secondary ELA teachers as much as I have!

Literary Sherri Looks Ahead

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . papers are all graded, tests are all taken, report cards are finished, textbooks are turned in, electronic files are organized, the classroom has been packed into carefully categorized boxes (that will seem chaotic in August!) and cleaned so that it virtually sparkles, the count-down is in single digits, and you and your students are actually enjoying all the various end-of-year activities . . . oh, and it’s time to start planning for next year!

After 23 years of teaching, the best advice I can give as you plan for next year is this: Take some well-deserved time off and enjoy unplugging from all things school-related this summer! Seriously . . . there are 8,658 things you need to get done this summer in order to be well-prepared for next school year . . . but the single most important item on that list is to get some much-needed R&R!

You have easily averaged 60 hours or more of school-related work a week. You have given and given and given and you are exhausted to the point of complete physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual depletion. So before you spend the bulk of your summer working a seasonal job, strategizing for next semester, planning an entire year’s worth of lessons, creating 9 months’ worth of fabulous bulletin boards, re-organizing all your digital files, scheduling fall field trips, attending inservice days and professional development workshops, and spending countless hours on back-to-school tasks, give yourself some real time to truly enjoy a restful break. Put your feet up and read a few books (not because you want to assess whether or not they will make a great read-aloud or will supplement a unit perfectly) . . . soak up some sunshine, enjoy those activities you always wish you had time for during the school year, relish time spent with family and friends . . . because the single best gift you can give yourself, your family, and next year’s students is returning to the classroom rested, relaxed, and reenergized!

Oh, and when you are ready to get down to brass tacks and put several hours of thought, reflection, and research into some serious planning for next school year, here’s a must-have resource for you to start your year off on the right foot:

Tools for Positive Behavior Management is packed with tools and tips to help you work effectively with tweens and teens to quietly diffuse potential mishaps, provide students with the encouraging recognition they need, create a positive classroom environment, set your students up for success, and save your sanity! Check it out . . . but not until you have taken some well-deserved time to rest and recharge!

Be sure to check out other ideas for looking ahead, as well as some fabulous resources for next year, from The Literary League:

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

I've taken a bit of a blogging hiatus to care for some other priorities, and I can't think of a better time to re-focus on blogging than Teacher Appreciation Week!

To celebrate YOU, I am offering my End-of-Year Awards: Idioms free for 24 hours. These figurative language awards print 4-per-page, making them more appealing to middle school and high school students. One teacher who purchased this resource said, "These are great! I can't wait for the students to nominate each other in each of the categories! The learning lasts all the way to the awards assembly!" Click either of the images below to take advantage of this 24-hour freebie. Enjoy!
The Teacher-Authors who make top-notch resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers also want to celebrate you and thank you for ALL you do with a 28% discount on TpT purchases! Here's some Super Secondary Sellers who think you rock 'n roll:

Check out these stores to get all shook up about some superb savings on superb resources for 6-12 Teachers with the promo code: ThankYou

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

St. Patrick's Day Writing Prompts and a Bit o' Luck!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
On March 17, everybody is Irish! If you're looking to luck out with a last-minute resource for students in grades 7-9, give these writing task cards a try! The 25 prompts on these Writing Task Cards commemorate and celebrate all things Irish, including the luck o' the Irish, Irish Blessings, the Blarney Stone, and St. Patrick's Day! Each task card provides a choice of two writing prompts, each with a wee bit o' history or trivia.
Here's one of the fun writing prompts in this set:
According to Irish legend, leprechauns hide all their gold in a pot at the end of the rainbow. Imagine you had a pot o’ gold that you were free to spend on anything other than yourself. Write a month-long series of journal entries explaining how you spent your gold.
Use St. Patrick's Day Writing Task Cards as Warm-Up Work, Bell Ringers, Class Enders, or for Writer’s Workshop! All cards are provided in full color and black-and-white. Here's a sample:

Click here to grab this resource for your students!
Speaking of lucky, here's a bit of fortune for you: My TpT shop currently has 961 followers. If I reach 1,001 followers by the end of the week, I'll make my most popular poetry resource free for 24 hours! Here's the unit . . . click here to see more:
If you're interested in high-quality print-and-go resources for busy ELA teachers, hop on over and follow my shop, then watch here for a link to this 24-hour-freebie!
May the luck o' the Irish be with you!

March Secondary Smorgasbord: Incredible Kids

With 23 years of classroom experience, I've had the privilege of working with a LOT of incredible kids . . . many of whom deserve shout-outs, kudos, and recognition for their selflessness, their innovation, their creativity, and their diligent work. It's difficult to narrow this post down, but the kids that keep coming to mind as I write this are some incredible 7th and 8th graders I recently worked with in a district with the highest poverty rate and lowest graduation rate in my state. It's heart-breaking how the odds seem stacked against some kids. Nearly every one of my students had multiple family members in jail or prison -- including one or both parents. Very few had a single family member who had graduated from high school. None of them knew anyone who had ever gone to college (except their teachers). Many of them did not have adequate heat, food, or love in their homes. Yet these kids had more motivation, determination, and tenacity than many students I've taught in affluent districts with all the privileges and luxuries one could hope for in life.

What I loved most about them was their never-ending sense of camaraderie, compassion, and empathy. Together, we chose community service projects for every unit we studied over the course of two years. In that short time, these kids collected Pennies for Peace, care package items for local homeless shelters and women's shelters, care packages for Soldier's Angels, and books for students in younger grades. We sent holiday cards to service members, created handmade quilts for soldiers, and sent boxes of books, food, and toiletries to our local Ronald McDonald House. The students appealed to local garden centers and nurseries for plants, flowers, and soil and we spent one entire "field day" cleaning up and beautifying a local elementary playground. Here we are planning our playground project at a "working lunch":

Photos used with permission

These kids, who seemingly had so little to spare, found more to give in those two years than any group of students I've worked with prior or since. They gave from their hearts, and their selflessness, kindness, and earnest compassion touched me as well as those who benefitted from their precious gifts. These are the moments and memories that keep teachers going with enthusiasm when days get tough! I'm so grateful for the hundreds of incredible kids I've met and worked with over the years . . . though I haven't seen many of them in eons, they still inspire me every day!

Visit other blogs in the Secondary Smorgasbord to hear about more incredible kids!

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