It's Teacher Appreciation Week in the US, and we would like to show our appreciation to all of those amazing secondary ELA teachers out there.  Hopefully you're getting ready to wind down your year and have already started to look forward to summer!!!

Four of my favourite secondary TpT sellers have joined me to offer you the chance to win one of four $25 TpT gift cards, so you can find something to help you with your planning for your classroom.  Just take a minute or two to fill out the rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced Tuesday, May 3rd!

Thanks to Room 213The ELA Buffet, The Classroom Sparrow, and Danielle Knight!  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Addie Education Leaps Into Literature

Looking for new ways to engage your students in literature, especially with classics that might seem old and outdated? In this secondary English Language Arts blog hop, the Literary League showcases resources that can be used with any literary text, time after time, year after year.Here at the Literary League, we’re a group of English teachers who truly love literature (we bet you already figured that part out). Given free time, we can all agree that there’s nothing better than leaping into a good book. But, even as avid readers, we have to admit that those spare minutes tend to be few and far between, especially during the school year, and there are times that we just have to …
  • leap into a book recommended by a friend, a colleague, or especially a student, who is anxiously awaiting our review
  • leap into a new novel we’re teaching, whether or not we’ve had time to fully prepare a complete unit
  • leap into a classic, maybe not one of our favorites, but something we know students need to sit with in order to grow as a reader
For those instances, the Literary League is teaming up to share some of our favorite resources to help you Leap into Literature. These are resources that are not tied to a particular book, but ones that can be used over and over again, both with your favorite novels, as well as with new texts or classic pieces you’re trying to breathe new life into.

A favorite resource I use to engage my students in literature is my NOVEL STUDY - READING JOURNAL FOR ANY NOVEL.  I have used these graphic organizers with students from 5th-10th grade with success with many, many different novels!  Combine the graphic organizers with standard chapter questions or use them in different combinations for different chapters or sections of the novel.


You can read about other engaging literature resources from the other Literary Leaguers linked up below and also enter in the rafflecopter below for a chance to win them all.

Test Prep to Reduce Test Anxiety

We are coming up to the time of year that most students dread.... final exam time!  I currently teach secondary students and I see their anxiety and hear their fear.  The more they talk about their test anxiety the worse it gets... it's a viscous cycle!  I taught a student last year who spent more time fussing about a test than ever doing anything productive.  Over the last 20 years of teaching I've come up with a few ways to reduce their anxiety.

1.  Talk about it!  Address student fears and concerns by asking them what aspect of the test they're most worried about.  Ask them to share their concerns with each other... sometimes just knowing that others feel the same way is enough to make my students feel better.

2.  Create a plan!  Students at my school write a series of final exams over a week in June and my students can find that very overwhelming.  I give them a blank calendar and they write in the exams they have and then I ask them to schedule their study time.  Just seeing it all laid out on paper and creating a study plan can be helpful to reduce anxiety.

3.  Make sure there are no surprises.  I give students clear lists of what they are expected to know for their test / exam.  I provide a check list of topics and skills they will be assessed on.  Rather than saying "You have an astronomy test next Wednesday." I give them a specific list of vocabulary and concepts they will be tested on.

4.  Review, review and review some more!  Practice makes perfect!  We play review games (see this blog post for a fun review game!), we do crossword puzzles (my kids LOVE these as a take home study guide - I make mine using www.eclipsecrossword.com and I give them practice test questions.

Here's a fun and easy review activity for you and your students - FREE in my TpT Store!


5. Test Day Fun!  On the day of a test I always give my students a candy to suck on... a lollipop / sucker or a hard candy.  They love the candy of course... but there is something soothing and relaxing about having a sucker in their mouth.  Perhaps it's a throwback to being a baby?!?  But it's a very calming technique for my students... and it's an inexpensive, fun and tasty treat for them.

6. Teach Test Taking Skills.  I teach my students throughout the year little tricks to help them write a test.  I tell them to skip questions they're not sure about... and to go back to them later.  I tell them to never leave anything blank... there are a ton of tips and tricks we pass on as teachers.  Vocabulary associated with tests can also be taught.  I have a set of Exam Key Word posters that I use to teach key word vocabulary to guide students in test writing.  You can purchase a set in my TpT store HERE.


Would love to hear of any other test taking tips below to help reduce student anxiety!


Easy and Inexpensive Bookmarks

Okay... so I know that I'm not the first person to have ever figured this out and it's clearly not rocket science... but I can't believe how easy it is to make my own bookmarks with scrapbook paper!

My students love bookmarks... like really love... I had no idea that they would be so popular. However, buying bookmarks online is expensive "like $1.50-$2.00 each expensive" which is over $50 per class!!  As well, most of the bookmarks I see would not appeal to my middle/high school aged readers.

While wandering the stationary aisles of Micheal's Craft Store one day trying to think of something I could make with the beautiful stacks of scrapbook paper, I realized I could make bookmarks!  There are tons of teen-friendly papers and when I buy the books on sale I can make 200-300 bookmarks for less than $15!

And it turns out my students love them!  They ask for themes (they can't wait for the Valentine's Day bookmarks I've promised!) and love when I add new ones to my box of bookmarks.



I usually use a 12"x12" book and I can get 10 bookmarks per page.  For the Valentine's Day bookmarks above I used a 6"x6" mini-book and got 5 per page.

I just got this awesome pad of comic book themed paper on sale!! Can't wait to cut these up into bookmarks - my students are going to LOVE them!!


Have fun making bookmarks!!


Secondary Sub Plans





Ugh... we've all been there! You wake up in the morning and realized you're not going to make it in to school. I know I've dragged myself in to school on many days (when I really should have stayed home!) because the thought of coming up with a plan for the day can seem overwhelming!  Here's a fun linky to collect some ideas from other Secondary teachers to have on hand.  Thanks again to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for organizing all of us!

Here are a few ideas I have for last minute ELA plans:

Here's a FREE and fun writing activity that can be used just about any time during the year in an ELA, Social Studies or Science classroom.  Students must create the front page of a newspaper to practice expository writing.  Includes assignment sheet, graphic organizers and a marking rubric!

In the middle of a novel study?  Adapt it to be about an event in the novel!
Why not have your students write about an important historical event?
Teaching science?  Students could write a news article to summarize a current topic!

Great review for writing, editing and more!  Just click the image above to grab a copy!

Another handy pack to have on hand is my Poetry Package!  It includes 7 individual poetry activities that students could easily work on with a substitute teacher.  Each activity includes everything needed to get started right away and is "print and go" ready!





product links:

Holiday Resources - Tis The Season!

Thrilled to be joining up for the Tis The Season Blog Hop with an awesome group of secondary teachers!




How I Bring Meaning to the Season for My Students
Each year my school does a HUGE holiday food drive for our local Christmas Hamper Society.... and our students get so involved - it's truly amazing.  From organizing boxes for collections, jars for money, keep track of all of the donations and then getting it sorted and boxed up for delivery - the students do it all!  They truly learn that the best gift of all, is giving to others and their selfless acts touch 100s of families in our town.  The sense of accomplishment and the pride the students take in knowing they have made a family's Christmas special is amazing.

How I Bring the Meaning to the Season for My Family
My hubby and I try to think of a way to give back every year and it seems that Christmas time is the perfect time to do it.  This year we are taking some fruit / vegetables to a local animal shelter as they have 26 orphan bear cubs to feed - an unusually high number - and they're desperate for help!  We're also going to take my niece and nephew Christmas shopping for a toy to donate to the Christmas Hamper.... we'll let them pick out something for a child in our community and then take them with us when we drop it off.  It's something we all look forward to every year and it's important to us to show the younger generation the importance of giving to those less fortunate.

One Thing I'm Looking Forward to This Season
Getting out in the snow for some fun!  Last year we had very little snow on our local Vancouver mountains and we weren't able to enjoy snow shoeing or snowboarding like we usually do!  But we're off to a chilly snowy start and we are hopeful we can get up onto the slopes for some snowy fun!  Here's a picture of hubby and our dog snow shoeing at a local provincial park in 2014.


A Holiday Gift For You
Enjoy this fun and easy to use freebie! Perfect for January when we all have to go back to school.  It's a great time to set goals and resolutions for the year and it's an easy way to warm up students after some time off.  Just click the image below to grab a copy!



Be sure to hop on over to the other awesome blogs listed below for some more holiday cheer!



Peer Editing Tips and Tricks for Middle & Secondary Students



Peer editing can be a powerful tool in an English classroom but it can also be a colossal failure. As a result of too many failures I have changed the way I do it over the last few years and I have seen a huge improvement in my students’ editing and writing skills.

I used to ask students to switch papers with a partner and go through an editing check list with each other and then they’d hand their papers back to each other and get to work correcting their errors.  However, I found that their editing was very, very basic so I needed a way to switch it up.

Now, I have them switch papers with 10-12 people before going to work on their revising and editing.  This is 10-12 more people giving feedback and help… and it means that each student gets to see more examples of other student’s writing.

But… instead of getting students to look at the entire piece of writing, I ask them to focus on one particular aspect at a time.  It’s less overwhelming for my weaker students and it really allows students to see all the different aspects that make up a good piece of writing.

My technique involves a lot of paper passing, so you need to set up a system so that works with your classroom set up.  At each pass of the students’ papers I ask students to look for and do different things.  And what I ask them to look for, will be dependent on the type of writing they’re editing.  With each pass the students must read the entire piece of writing… you may need to allow a few minutes depending on the length of the work.

Here are some suggested prompts with EACH pass of the paper.  
  • Put a check mark at the top of the paper if there’s an engaging title. Put an X if there’s no title. 
  • Circle any words you think may be spelled incorrectly.  (I sometimes do this one twice!)
  • Put a star beside the topic sentence.  If there is no topic sentence make a note at the bottom of their page. 
  • Put a check mark beside the climax of the writing.  Make a note at the bottom if the climax was not obvious or was confusing.
  • Put a small check mark beside three words that you think were particularly helpful in expressing an idea. 
  • Circle any missing punctuation.  Period, quotations, commas….
  • Circle any words that should be capitalized.
  • Put a question mark beside an idea or sentence you were confused about.  Add some details about why it was confusing at the bottom.
  • What’s one thing you’d like to know more about in this writing?  Ask a question at the bottom of their paper.
  • Put a number 1 beside the first sentence that support the topic sentence.   Put a 2 beside the second…
  • Write a sentence at the bottom of the paper giving the writer an idea to improve their work.
  • Underline the concluding sentence.  Cross out anything that says “These are all the reasons why...” or “In conclusion…” 
  • Put a check mark beside the concluding sentence if it links back and relates to the topic sentence.
  • Circle a boring verb and write a suggestion for a new vivid one.
  • Underline the transition words.  Make a note at the bottom if there are none.
  • Write a note at the bottom of their page to let them know if they varied their sentences or if they are all the same.

I am sure you will think of more ideas as you get started and work through this process.  The type of writing will also dictate that types of things you ask your students to look for.  I try to make sure that when I ask students to circle something it’s an error that needs attention… this way when they get their paper back they know what needs to be done.  Check marks mean “well done”, underlining is also identifying positive structures in their work.

My students look forward to doing this—they get to read so many examples, they’re only asked to focus on one thing at a time and when their paper are returned they see so many great suggestions.

I hope you get a chance to try out this strategy with your students as I have truly found success with it in my classroom.  Good luck!