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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!

Free eBooks for Middle School and High School Teachers!

It’s February – love is in the air! -- and I’m in love with these free eBooks for Middle School and High School teachers!

I'm over-the-moon excited to be working with Brain Waves Instruction, Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy, and Lindsay Perro to bring you another round of four FREE secondary eBooks filled with tips and resources from 30 top-notch teachers! Each teacher has one “get-to-know-a-bit-about-me” page that will keep you smiling – or outright laughing – as you discover ways to connect with each contributor.

The best thing about these books?!? Each teacher also gives you a one-page print-and-go resource right in the eBook! That’s 30 resources you can use in your classroom tomorrow . . . times 4 eBooks . . . 120 free resources in all! You also get links to over 100 high-quality resources in each book! Amazing, right?!?

Thank you to the organizing team who made this project possible, all the contributors who made these eBooks such a super resource for teachers, and to Jackie from Room 213 for designing the beautiful cover pages!

The eBooks are categorized into ELA, Math, Science, and Humanities (Social Studies, Foreign Language, Arts, and even more ELA). Take a look . . . maybe you’ll fall in love with a few new resources, too!

Click on the images for your free resource!

Missed the first series of free eBooks? Grab them here:         

Literary Sherri is Participating in an Epic ELA Giveaway!

It's the last week of January and I can't think of a better way to chase away winter blues and blahs than with an Epic ELA Giveaway!

I'm super-excited to join up with Mary Beth from Brain Waves Instruction and Jackie from Room 213 for their amazing giveaway featuring top-notch resources from 17 Secondary ELA TpT sellers!

One lucky ELA Teacher will receive a collection of resources including lessons and activities for reading, writing, research, poetry, speech-writing, media literary, and more! The best part . . . all resources are non-text specific, so they can be quickly and easily integrated with your own curriculum! See why this is epic?!?

Check out the Winner's Prize Package here:
Brain Waves Instruction:  Substitute Teacher Toolkit  
The Classroom Sparrow: A Speech Writing Mini-Book
The Daring English Teacher: Editable English Tests
Presto Plans: Grammar Resource Bundle
The Language Arts Classroom: Write a Tabloid for a Mobile Device
The OCBeach Teacher: Reading Strategies for any Text
The ELA Buffet: Poetry Close Reading
Secondary Sara: Movie v Text Bundle

The best part of this epic giveaway?!? You get up to 50 chances to win! Just follow each seller on TpT, Facebook, and her blog. Every click gives you a chance to win the amazing bundle of prizes!

The winner (AKA "Luckiest ELA Teacher on Earth!") will be announced on Sunday, February 7th at 5pm EST. Follow a few fabulous Secondary Teacher-Authors here . . . and best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy End-of-January!

Meangingful Prompts for Struggling Readers

When I was in fourth grade, my class had to memorize our math facts to automaticity and quote each family of facts to the teacher within a given time frame (60 seconds per fact family, if I remember correctly). Everyone who quoted all their fact families through 12s by Thanksgiving was rewarded with a Winnie the Pooh party after lunch one day. All the A.A. Milne characters were going to be at the party and the class was going to eat popcorn and a Winnie the Pooh-decorated cake and watch a Pooh movie. This was a really big deal when I was in 4th grade! Now, math has never been my strong suit – I’m a linguistic learner. Sadly, I was the only student in all of fourth grade who couldn’t quote all the fact families in the 60-second-per-family-time-frame . . . and so I sat in the hall with a student teacher, practicing my facts, while my peers enjoyed their hot popcorn and cool Pooh party. At the time, I was devastated. Not because I missed out on the movie and cake, but because I truly couldn’t remember that tricky 8x7 and I felt like a failure. My teacher was disappointed in me and my parents were none too happy, either, judging this failure to memorize my math facts as laziness or a lack of character. How glad I am that teaching methods have evolved since I was a fourth grader (many, many moons ago!) and today we look for ways to help students truly understand math concepts rather than just memorize them by rote. Unfortunately, that change in thinking about how we teach math doesn’t always transfer to how we teach reading.

In many (dare I say most?) classes, when readers are unsure of a word, they pause. Then one of three things usually happens: Either another student calls out the word and the reader repeats it and goes on, the teacher calls out the word and the reader repeats it, or the teacher says, “Sound it out” . . . but our students are so afraid of failure that most of the time they will remain silent until someone calls the word out (or they don’t understand what “sound it out” means . . . or sounding it out doesn’t make sense because challenging words are often not phonics-based words). This is a huge disservice to readers because they don’t learn the skills necessary to figure out words they don’t know. So, I’m here to say: when readers struggle, don’t give them the word – and teach your students not to call the word out, either!

The first few times this happens in my class, students do blurt the word out because this is what they are conditioned to do anytime there’s an awkward pause in reading. I stop everything and we have a teachable moment: thank you for wanting to be a good friend, but giving classmates the word robs them of an opportunity to learn how to figure it out. We all get stuck sometimes in our reading – and we all deserve the chance to learn how to figure out the words we’re stuck on. So, let’s not rob one another of those learning opportunities. After the third or fourth such discussion, it’s rare for students to blurt words out when classmates are stuck. Here’s the kicker . . . I don’t give students the word, either! Instead, I prompt them with thinking-cues, such as:

Struggling readers often freeze and wait for someone to blurt out challenging words, but allowing students to form such habits (either waiting or blurting!) doesn’t give them the necessary tools to repair their own reading and improve their own skills. It’s much more effective to create an atmosphere in which all students know that it’s okay not to know challenging words . . . but it’s not okay not to try to figure them out before getting help!

Students who don’t develop effective reading strategies slide along a downward spiral – they do less and less reading until they stop trying altogether. Students need to hear, “It’s okay to struggle with challenging words. Some words stump me, too! Let’s figure out how to figure tricky words out!”

On a separate (but somewhat related) note, let’s make it okay to struggle . . . even okay to fail in our struggles . . . because we learn perseverance in the struggle. We also learn how to do things differently and better. What? Sounding the word out didn’t work? That’s okay – that means we try a different strategy!

Here are a few great quotes to hang in the classroom to remind us – and our students – that it’s okay to struggle and fail and learn from what didn’t work and keep trying a new strategy until something does work! The key for students is to keep trying . . . and the key for teachers is to keep giving students a toolbox of strategies to keep trying!

Happy Teaching!

Literary Sherri is Coming Out of the Deep Freeze!

’Tis the season . . . cold and flu season, that is! The holly jolly days are over, the bills have arrived, the temperatures have dropped well below freezing, and all manner of colds, flus, and viruses are making their rounds. January is the month we’d all like to crawl back under warm covers for a long winter’s nap . . . which also makes it the perfect month to pull a great resource out of the deep freeze and add some sizzle to our lessons! 180 Review Games and Brain Breaks can help: 

This is one of those go-to resources when you have 5 minutes to fill or 20 minutes to review! Review academic content, take a quick brain break, get students moving, do a quick informal assessment, and energize your lessons with the games and activities on these 74 task cards!

For example, you could play "Pass the Chicken":
Students stand about an arm’s length apart in a circle, with one person standing in the center.

Give the person in the center a task (each student can receive a new category). Their goal is to respond to the task before the students in the circle pass a rubber chicken (or beach ball, beanbag, or other soft object) around the circle three times.
Repeat until each student has been in the circle.

Name 10 vegetables found in a salad              
Name 10 team sports
Name 10 words containing the word “sun”   
Name 10 countries
Name 10 ice cream flavors                               
Name 10 Greek gods
Name 10 nouns
Name 10 multiples of 8

Over 100 variations gives you more than 180 games . . . plenty of games and activities to add some sizzle in January and every other day of the school year!

Thanks to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for hosting this Secondary Smorgasbord! Look below for other fabulous resources that secondary sellers are bringing out of the deep freeze!

Writing Prompts: 15 Super Reasons Every Teacher Should Be Using This Super-Strategy!

I start every ELA class with a short writing prompt that students complete for bell work while I care for housekeeping items, such attendance, lunch orders, checking homework, skimming notes from parents, etc. (I have a few minutes to check in with students while they are actively engaged in a productive learning activity. It's a win-win!)

In my class, we call this a Quick Write. Quick Writes are a super-strategy used to develop writing fluency, build the habit of reflection into learning, and informally assess student thinking! Here's a few other reasons Quick Writes should be used in every class every day (a literacy teacher's dream!):

Quick Writes:
-Help students become fluent, organized, confident, skilled  thinkers and writers!
-Activate prior knowledge
-Help students make personal connections
-Promote reflection
-Foster critical thinking
-Prepare students for discussion
-Increase background knowledge and broaden worldview (when shared)
-Reinforce vocabulary and language development
-Informally assess student knowledge about a given topic
-Increase engagement in Think-Pair-Share activities
-Help students brainstorm their thoughts
-I frequently tell my students that the most important ideas are often the most difficult to articulate. I Especially love Quick -Writes because they help students learn to articulate their thoughts in a safe environment, knowing the content of their writing is not going to be criticized! (See why I call this a Super-Strategy?!?)

Here's how I use Quick Writes:
  • When students enter my classroom, the Writing Task Card of the day is displayed on a Whiteboard. Students go directly to their seats, open their writing journals, choose one of the prompts, and start writing. (I always have instrumental music playing in the background. The students think I'm just plain awesome -- or plain corny, depending on the music genre of the day -- they don't realize I'm just using the music to help them focus and concentrate!)
  • I provide two to three prompts each day so students always have a choice, which is developmentally appropriate for tweens and teens and results in more pencils-to-the-paper and less "I can't think of anything to write!"
  • Sometimes my students beg me to let them write about the other prompt, too, and inside my heart is doing flip-flops because real live students are actually begging to write! (This is the stuff this ELA teacher's dreams are made of!)
  • If I finish my housekeeping chores with time on the clock to write, I write in my own journal. Students love it when I join them on a Quick Write!
  • Students who do not have their writing journals are still responsible to complete their Quick Writes on a blank sheet of paper from a basket I keep in the back of the room. They are responsible to attach these papers to their journal at their convenience (meaning: they come to my room when it's convenient for me -- usually during their breakfast or lunch -- to tape, staple, or glue their Quick Write into their journal . . . or to rewrite it if it's mysteriously lost).
  • Any of the prompts can be expanded, edited, revised, and turned in for an actual grade . . . a lifesaver on days when there is a substitute teacher in the class!

I have done Quick Writes with my students for years and I believe it is one of the most important activities on our agenda! I learn so much about my students that I would never know if I did not invite them to share their writing with the class. This helps me get to know students on a more personal level, builds rapport, and fosters a nurturing and caring classroom environment. I'm not exaggerating when I say Quick Writes frequently prompt my students to laugh together, cry together, and offer support to one another with hugs, fist-bumps, or high-fives.
I know that some of you are thinking you can't possibly come up with 2-3 high-interest prompts a day every day . . . the great news is, over 23 years of teaching, I've developed hundreds of interesting and engaging writing prompts that I'm compiling into resources in my TpT shop!
Here's one example:
Click here for a freebie from this set of writing prompts!

Stay tuned for one free set of writing prompts each month!

Literary Sherri is Getting Nerdy: Nerd Year Resolution

Here's hoping everyone had a terrific first-week-back-at-school after a long winter's nap holiday break!

I always love January because it's the perfect time to push a re-set button with classroom routines and procedures, re-energize the class with some new, engaging resources, and remind students that they are closer to (next grade level) so it's time to really buckle down and be sure they are prepared to succeed the next year! I find (most) students ready and willing to get serious about their studies in January!

It's Saturday morning, and that means a nerd-lib, Mel and Gerdy style, so without further ado, here it is . . .

The truth is, I'd LOVE to take a quilting class, but this is just not the right time -- so on to the bucket list it goes. I think I could still bite my nails with my elbows taped together, so I better rely on the soothing powers of that hot cocoa instead! I don't own a library and sadly, my musical abilities are limited to playing iTunes -- not instruments! I'm not likely to ever perform at The Kennedy Center, although I would LOVE to attend a performance there one day! I better get busy making 2015 amazing in other ways!
One of my top goals for 2015 is to add 50 new resources to my TpT shop by December 31 . . . so I better go get really busy!
Leave me a comment and let me know how you are going to make 2015 amazing!

Let's Hear It for the Teachers! Wishing You a Fabulous 2015!

Happy 2015! After a holiday hiatus to make friends and family my priority, I'm back to blogging with a New Year's Resolution to be a more active blogger in 2015!
I hope this finds you all well and with many sweet memories of Christmas 2014 . . . and much energy for a fresh start -- though, let's be honest, many of us feel "January blahs" when returning to school after an extended break, and that's totally okay normal!
We're happy to interact with colleagues again, but dread the ringing of the alarm long before the first blush of dawn, especially after a night of school-induced insomnia.
We look forward to seeing our students again, but dread the infinite mountains of paperwork.
We're excited about the awesome plans in the back of our minds for some really super-engaging lessons that will captivate and inspire our students, but the excessive workload between now and state testing seems daunting.
We don't mind the hard work, but we do mind the ever-widening gap between our students as learners (and as people!) and the endless testing, artifact-collecting, assessments and evaluations that are designed to emphasize everything they are doing wrong rather than anything they are doing right.
We relish the time spent actually teaching but would enjoy it a hundredfold without the perverse politics that suck the life and the joy out of our otherwise beloved profession. 
To all of us feeling this conflict of emotions, and to all of us returning to classrooms with a bit of dread in the pit of our stomachs alongside the butterflies, I say brava! Let's hold our heads high and remember that we are making our world a better place every single day! We are changing lives for the better, we are empowering our students to believe in themselves and their abilities to reach for the stars, and we are inspiring the teacher down the hall who desperately needs to believe in our profession! We are making a difference! We are teachers!

May your first week back be filled with colossal bursts of sunshine!

Happy Teaching!
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