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 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

Looking for an easy reading incentive for students?  Here are some quick and easy bookmarks to make to give to your students.

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!



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