Great Teachers Always…

Here goes my first blog post as a full-time middle school writing teacher after two years of working as an instructional coach.

For the first week in my 7th and 8th grade classroom, we worked on creating time capsules that each student will open on the last day of school. One of the items included was a survey where, among other things, I asked my students to complete this sentence: “Great teachers always…” Here is what they said, ranked by how many students said it:



tie for 3rd: HELP and are KIND

Put together, I feel like it makes a great sentence that I can use to guide my teaching this year:

“Great teachers always respect students, listen, help, and are kind.”

It also left me wondering, what does being respected by a teacher look like to a 12 – 14 year old? That may be the next thing I ask!


A New Path


My blog has a new name, that reflects the new path I have just begun… my husband and I both have new jobs at new schools, along with our new home. This year will be an adventure, and I’m not sure how quickly I will get back to blogging, but I am sure that I will be back eventually.

Don’t Be Afraid to Dive In – SAMR

The SAMR model for educational technology integration has been around for a long time, but this visual from @EdApAdvice represents the same ideas in a visually different way.

I like the idea that those who don’t integrate technology at all are left on the shore wondering what wonders lie in the deep, and that those who use technology to enhance their lessons are close enough to the surface to easily come up for air.

When technology is used to transform a lesson, to do something previously impossible, students and teachers are exploring deep in the ocean of possibilities that were previously inconceivable.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 8.01.43 PM.png 

Using Google Classroom for Building-Wide Student Led Conferences

Student Led Conferences (SLCs) can be a powerful tool for increasing student ownership of their learning and communicating with families, but some students struggle to put together a showcase of their learning, even with teacher guidance.

To provide guidance and consistency for the students at my middle school, I decided that this year I would try setting up team-wide Google Classrooms to house a Google Slides template that all students could use to guide their collection of evidence.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 6.10.45 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 6.10.04 AMMy middle school has 4 teams. I set up 4 Google Classrooms, and added each core teacher as a teacher in their team’s Google Classroom. I also added our administrators, counselor, and elective teachers as teachers in all four Google Classrooms. That way, each teacher has access to all of their students, should they want to discuss the students’ SLC Slideshow.

We had the students join their team’s Google Classroom during our Advisement (similar to homeroom) using the class code. The students then had 30 minutes on 3 consecutive days to add to and customize their SLC slideshow. These Google Slideshows will now guide the discussions during our upcoming SLC nights.


One Great Thing a Day #GreatThing

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 8.46.07 PMGreat things happen at school every day. Join this March Twitter challenge, inspired by this idea from George Couros ->

It’s simple to do. Tweet at least ONE great thing going on at school each day in March with #GreatThing. It can be something great going on in your classroom, a colleague’s room, catching a random act of kindness, an after school activity… anything that reminds you that schools are a great place to be.

When you have 5 minutes to yourself (rare, I know) search #GreatThing and see what ideas and inspiration you find there!


Tech Tools from METC 2016

One of the coolest, yet most overwhelming things about a technology conference is the sheer volume of online tools that are out there for the using. This post contains a clickable list of four classroom-ready tools I found this year. There’s something for everyone!

PhET Interactive Science and Math Simulations
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iCivics – Games for learning CivicsScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.39.02 PM.png

emaze – a Presentation Tool for those tired of GoogleSlidesScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.41.36 PM.png

ThinkCERCA – for Close Reading and Argument WritingScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.50.11 PM.png

Team Building in the Middle of the Year

Students need to have community building as a part of their school day, even in the 2nd semester. Below are 5 fun activities teachers can lead to help their class be a strong team.

Lip Sync Battle 

For: Team Bonding
Instructions: Ever seen one of Jimmy Fallon’s famous lip sync battles? Split your group up into teams of 3-4 people and let them decide who will be the singers, guitarists, drummers, etc. Give them some time to choose, rehearse, and perform a lip synced version of whatever school-friendly song they like.

Back-to-Back Drawing 

For: Communication Skills
What You’ll Need: Paper, pens/markers, printouts of simple line drawings or basic shapes.
Instructions: Split your group into pairs and have each pair sit back to back. One person gets a picture of a shape or simple image, and the other gets a piece of paper and pen. The person holding the picture gives verbal instructions to their partner on how to draw the shape or image they’ve been given (without simply telling them what the shape or image is). After a set amount of time, have each set of partners compare their images and see which team drew the most accurate replica.

Advisement Coat of Arms

For: Team Bonding
What You’ll Need: Coat of Arms Template Paper, pens, markers
Instructions: Have teams create your advisement coat of arms. In one space, draw something that represents a recent achievement. In the another space, draw something that reflects your advisement values. In another space, draw something that represents where you see your group going in the future. Post the finished coat of arms in your classroom.

Memory Wall

For: Team Bonding
Instructions: Write a few general school-related topics on the white board: “Kindergarten,” “First Day of Middle School,” “Summer,” etc. Gather your team together and have everyone choose one of the topics and share a story to laugh and bond over shared experiences.

Plane Crash

For: Creative Problem Solving & Collaboration Skills
Instructions: Imagine this: a plane carrying your advisement has crashed on a desert island. Teams must choose only 12 items from around the classroom that they think would be most useful in their survival, ranking each item in order of importance. Alternatively, have individuals make their selections first and then have the group discuss and come to a consensus.


These ideas are modified from ideas found here: