Secondary ELA Seasonal Blog Hop: Addie Education Shares Tips & Tricks

If I haven't said it before... I'll say it now... I LOVE Halloween!  I love dressing up, the decor, the season, the fun, the candy corn, the pumpkins... there's nothing I don't LOVE.  So... I'm thrilled to be hooking up with a bunch of fantastic secondary ELA teachers to share some tips and tricks for the Halloween season. 

My high school has a lot of fun with Halloween and the staff and students embrace the holiday fun with a Halloween Dance, costume contest, and of course dressing up!  I love to see what the students and staff can come up with - their creativity knows no bounds! As an English teacher it's the perfect opportunity to incorporate a little spooky fun into our writing activities.  Here are some of the ways I help my students with Halloween themed writing.

Set the Scene Visually
Add some Halloween decor to your classroom - it's cheap and easy to find at your local dollar store and I know my students enjoy seeing a few elements up in my room to help them create a spooky scene.  Fun and funky images and decor can also help spark their imaginations as they write!  You can even have students use your decor as a writing prompt! Why not have them free write and include two of the spooky Halloween elements in your room in their writing. A few Halloween treats also go a long way in motivating students. #iwilldoanythingforcandycorn   My students also love writing on themed paper - lots of free Halloween templates to be found online!  And it's amazing how excited they all get about a Halloween themed pencil from the dollar store!!

Create a Spooky Mood
Play some creepy music while your students work - it's a fun way to get students thinking about how they can set the mood in a story using vibrant and vivid verbs. How can they create the same eerie feeling with their words, that a musician creates with music?  It's easy to find a spooky or eerie playlist on Youtube - here's one to check out -  Halloween Music.  If it's easy to dim the lights or use floor lamps to dimly light your classroom I am sure your students will appreciate it! Or use flashlights to read. I also recently thought of using the "candles" that are lit with batteries as a mood setter too!!  I am fairly certain I can't use real candles at school #accidentwaitingtohappen

Spooky Pictures
Use creepy photos to help students with descriptive writing.  A quick image search on Google will yield some spooky results.  Brainstorming descriptive words can be a fun and helpful writing exercise.  Here's an example you can use!

Spooky Read Aloud
Despite the fact that my students are in high school, they still LOVE to have a short story read to them. I also love to read to's win-win in my classroom!  One of my favourites to read at Halloween is Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" - such a great story and so many elements to chat about with them.  You can also show them this short video of the short story narrated by James Mason (he has THE most perfect voice to tell the tale!)  If you're studying "The Tell-Tale Heart" be sure to check out my accompanying creative newspaper assignment HERE

Halloween Mystery Story Writing Activity
My students have always loved my Halloween Mystery Activity - it's got everything you'll need to help your students generate ideas for a spooky story, activities to help them plan their writing, peer editing guidance, grading rubrics and more! Everything is included so you can get started writing today!  I have it in a traditional paper version and a Google Drive version! Click the images to check them out!! 

I hope you have a spooky, fun and safe Halloween with your families and your students.  Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers who have linked up below. Happy Halloween!  

Secondary Science Giveaway

School is starting up again soon and the secondary science teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers are excited to help you start the new year off right!  We are giving away resources and individual store shopping sprees to give you a boost as you head back to school!  I'm excited to be teaching Earth Science again this year... what about you??

Here's what you can win!
  •  Enter my rafflecopter for a chance to win a $25 or $15 shopping spree in my TpT Store (here's a link to my science specific resources - SCIENCE but you can pick anything if you win!)
  •  Check out each blog linked up at the bottom of this post and enter their individual rafflecopter giveaways.
  • Not only can you win a shopping spree in my TpT store, but we put together one HUGE blog hop giveaway, just for science teachers teaching grades 6-12 science: Four $100 Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards!  Each blog post has a secret code word and a number.  My clue word is 12. PROBLEMS.  The number tells you where the word falls in the secret sentence.  Collect the words from each blog, write them down in number order, and copy the secret sentence into the joint rafflecopter giveaway.  This rafflecopter form is the same on every blog, so you only need to enter once from any one of our blogs!
To enter my Rafflecopter leave a comment about what you're most looking forward to teaching this year, follow my TpT Store, OR follow me on Instagram.

If you win my Rafflecopter here are some of my favourite science resources in my store!

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Encourage Students to Do Their Best Work

Are you tired of students asking you if their work is "good enough"? Or asking what grade they would receive if they turned their work in "even if it's not all done?". Or students asking why they received a poor mark because they "did it"? After a few years of teaching I came up with an easy way to explain it using a PIZZA ANALOGY. I knew my students could relate to pizza!!

So I started talking about their work in terms of a pizza and lo and behold they totally 'got it'! Here's how it works... I ask my students to imagine that their assignment is to make me a pizza. Seems simple enough right? Just make a pizza and turn it into me. However, once we start to delve into it a little more my students realize that there were several options available when making the pizza. They could simply turn in a basic cheese pizza or they could turn in a deluxe pizza and even throw in a soda for a little extra. We talk about how the person who makes a deluxe pizza (with the soda!) has done more work, put in more effort and gone beyond the basics! We even talk about the fact that some students would not even get their pizza finished in time or would have only gathered the ingredients... but not put the pizza together. It does not take long for them to realize that I'm relating their effort in class to the number of toppings they put on their pizza!

I created a series of posters to help students relate their work effort to the toppings on a pizza and the posters have made a huge difference in my class and how my students talk about their work. They often come in to the class and ask each other where they are on the pizza rubric and I hear them talking about how many toppings they included! Or where they are on the rubric... "Dude, I made a deluxe pizza, my project is totally topped up!". I often have to turn away and have a little giggle... to hear my high school students (mostly boys) talking like this just puts a smile on my face!

 The nice thing about the pizza rubric is that it works for any assignment and any subject - I teach a variety of classes (ELA, SS, and Science) and have used it successfully in all subject areas! In fact, many other teachers have my school are using it too and so the students have really bought into it. It's a great way to introduce a Growth Mindset and the idea that putting forth their best effort will yield good results. I often ask the students to self assess their work before turning it in and explain to me where they think they should be on the rubric. Here's the link to the poster set in my TpT store - I hope you find this as helpful in your classroom as I've found it in mine!

End of the Year - Calming the Chaos

The countdown is on for THE END OF THE YEAR and it still seems so far away!  I am in session until June 30th this year... I can do it... I can do it!!  Thrilled to be joining into this Calming the Chaos Blog Hop hosted by 2 Peas and a Dog!  Not only is there a great blog hop, but you can ENTER TO WIN A $60 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO TPT!!  (Contest is now over)

We've had some spectacular spring weather in Vancouver, Canada where I live and it's made my students much more "squirelly" than usual... the clear skies and beckoning city beaches make sitting in a classroom more challenging.

Here are a few fun and easy tips to help you make it through the chaos that always comes with the final weeks of the school year.

Ask for Feedback - I know this can be a scary thought... but I give my kids a chance to evaluate me and my teaching for the year with a quick survey.  I used to use a print version, but kids were hesitant to write things because I am so familiar with their writing.  Last year I used SurveyMonkey (free online survey tool) to get feedback... it was great! Kids loved the chance to go online and were more comfortable sharing their ideas anonymously.

Have Fun - Yup... it's true... it's the time of year when my students are stressed about final tests, graduation, final projects and more.  Take a few minutes to play a review game, watch a funny YouTube video, or just talk about summer plans.  My students LOVE to play Kahoot!  - it's free and students get to use their phones /devices!  What a blast we have!!

End of Year Literacy Activities - I often need quick, educational, and engaging activities for those awkward last few days of school... so I created a pack of ready to use activities for the end of the year! Click HERE to check it out!  Here's a sample page!

Teachers Supporting Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund

If you're like me, you watched the devastating wildfires sweep through the community of Fort McMurray, Alberta in disbelief.  The entire community of 90,000 people had to be evacuated... most people had only a few minutes to flee the flames.  Over 2,400 homes have been lost and those that still have a home, have no idea when they will be allowed to go back.   When the fires swept through the town on May 3rd, teachers stepped into high gear, many of them fleeing the fire with students in their own cars.  There is a ton of rebuilding to do (reports suggest that schools suffered extensive damage in the fire and one secondary school under construction was lost)... and the school year has ended abruptly - about 8 weeks earlier than usual.

A group of Canadian teacher authors has decided to donate all of our TeachersPayTeachers earning from Monday, May 16th to the Canadian Red Cross who is spearheading the relief efforts.  All money donated to the Red Cross will be matched by the Canadian Government and the Province of Alberta. Check out the full list of participating TpT authors linked up below!  Thanks to Room 213 for the great graphics and organizing all of us in this fundraising effort!

If you wish to donate to the Canadian Red Cross directly here is the LINK.

If you are looking for a way to talk about the wildfires with your students Light Up Learning Labs has this FREE resource.  

Addie Education Leaps Into Literature

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!

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 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!

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