Saturday, January 14, 2017

Playing Educational Games in The Secondary Classroom

Some people think that playing educational games in the classroom is only for elementary school. Some people think that with all the mandates from state exams and getting ready for college that the secondary classroom has to be boring to be rigorous.

I teach in the inner city and my students need fun and innovative ways to learn. Students today don't have the attention span that students had when I was growing up. You can blame technology for that. Although my generation had TV and video games, I was in the generation that went through high school without the internet and definitely without cell phones. Although technology makes life much easier I am thankful that I grew up in a time-period before it took over our lives.

For the most part my students dislike reading. One thing I have always done is create Jeopardy review games before unit tests. I used to do this by hand and write on my chalkboard (go ahead and laugh). In 2012 I got a smartboard in my room and all of a sudden I was able to take my teaching to the next level. I use the website http://www.superteachertools.us/jeopardyx/ to create my own jeopardy games. You can save them on your account or simply email yourself the link. I love this site. You can also find games on there already. You can create other games on that site as well.

The NY State Exam (The Regents) has literary terms on it. Literary terms are also part of the Common Core State Standards. My students have always struggled remembering these terms. This is why I always have a word wall in my room with these terms. Last year I created a Literary Terms Bingo Game for my 11th graders. We played it on a day before a vacation early in the year. I gave out free homework passes as prizes. The kids had so much fun that we ended up playing the game (by request) every time we had either a half day or it was the day before vacation. I ended up posting this review game in my TpT Store.









Jeopardy had always been my go to for review games but to be honest with some classes the game got too loud. Playing with two teams sometimes leads to students making fun of each other when they win. When playing bingo it's every man (or woman) for themselves. This school year I decided to create bingo games to review difficult works of literature. Since my students have always struggled with Shakespeare I decided to start with that. So far I've created bingo review games for five of Shakespeare's plays. They're a fun way to review characters, symbols and terms in the plays. I plan on making more of these review games in the future for other works of literature.
















There's no reason why students can't have fun and learn at the same time no matter what age they are. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Argumentative Writing and The SEE Method

The common core places an emphasis on argumentative writing. In NYC high school students take a city-wide exam every year called the MOSL (measure of student learning) exam and that test has an argumentative essay on it. The NY state exam (The Regents) that students need to pass in order to graduate high school also has an argumentative essay on it.

My students struggled with their writing no matter how many times we practiced this style of essay in class. I tried picking topics that were relevant to them:

Should cellphones be allowed in school?
Should students have to wear uniforms?
Should minimum wage be increased?

Finally another teacher and I came up with a mnemonic device that was easy to remember and it worked every time. We called this The SEE Method.

What is the SEE Method?

  • The SEE Method is just a way for us to remember what we need to include in each body paragraph that we write.
  • One reason why this method is so great is that it is easy to remember, plus it's short and to the point.
I keep this up on chart paper in my classroom: 

State Your Claim
Provide Evidence
Explain Your Evidence
We use the SEE method to help us craft arguments. 




 I hope that you can use this method to help your students with their argumentative writing.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Secondary ELA Seasonal Blog Hop: Juggling ELA Shares Her Favorite Scary Story That She Teaches

This is my favorite time of the year. The leaves are changing color, I can wear my comfy sweaters and Halloween is just around the corner. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I like to celebrate it all month long. All of my students know that I have a bit of an obsession with Halloween.

I like to start off with a scary story unit and I end with my students writing their own scary stories. I have taught numerous scary stories over the years but here is a list of some of my favorites.

"The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

"The Bad Babysitter" by R.L. Stine

I love to teach basically anything by Edgar Allan Poe, but my absolute favorite scary story to teach is "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe.


There are many things that I love about "The Tell-Tale Heart." A lot of my students read below grade level and many of Poe's stories have archaic language in them. I find "The Tell-Tale Heart" to be more accessible than some of Poe's other tales. The story is fairly short so you can teach it in 2 or 3 class periods. I've successfully used this story in grades 9-12 but it can work with 7th or 8th grade classes that are advanced.

I find the plot of "The Tell-Tale Heart" to be absolutely terrifying. Can you imagine thinking that someone is your friend and your roommate (or boarder) and they're plotting your murder? Just thinking about it gives me the chills. One thing that I love to point out to my students is that in this story (and other Poe tales) the protagonist is an evil/crazy man. Most of my students think of the protagonist as the "good guy." When I teach multiple stories by Poe I like to compare and contrast his narrators.

In honor of my favorite holiday, I have teamed up with some other secondary ELA teachers from TpT to have both a blog hop and a two day sale. We all have 20% off on our Halloween products 10/16/16 and 10/17/16. Take advantage of these low prices to find items that will help you have a hauntingly good time in your ELA classes.


Check out everyone's blog and look at their sale items. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

I promise it won't be a year before I write another blog post :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Juggling ELA's Spooktacular Giveaway



Halloween is my favorite time of the year. In my classroom I start by teaching stories by Edgar Allan Poe ("The Tell-Tale Heart" is my favorite) and I end with my students using my Halloween Short Story Starters Task Cards to create their own scary stories. Sometimes I'll use other short stories like "The Monkey's Paw" or "The Bad Babysitter" as well.

Last month I reached 1000 followers on my Facebook page and to celebrate I decided to have this giveaway. Some of the fabulous English teachers from TpT have volunteered to donate Fall or Halloween themed prizes for this giveaway.

There will be two winners. One winner will win a $25 gift card to TpT. The second winner will receive a bundle of ELA resources from 17 different TpT stores.

Prizes include:

Halloween ELA Bundle

Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" Activity Pack

Text Analysis - Outside the Box Project

Short Stories - Writing Activities Bundle

Halloween Career Project

Short Story Choice Board No Prep Use With Any Story

The Tell-Tale Heart, Poe - Close Reading Unit, Halloween Appropriate

Halloween Grammar Worksheets

Halloween Writing for Teens: Choice Menu with 40 Prompts

Tell-Tale Heart (test; essay questions; detailed answer key)

Halloween Writing

"The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe Task Cards

Halloween Zombies Ate My Teacher! Creative & Narrative Writing Scenarios

R.A.C.E Writing Strategy Interactive Flip Book: For Teachers and Students

Halloween Bell Ringers: Text-Based Conventions Practice

Nonfiction Close Reading - September 11 Memorial Museum

Halloween Activities for Secondary ELA

If you have any questions let me know. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.
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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Literary League's Back 2 School Giveaway

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by. It's alright’ cause I'm saved by The Literary League! That’s right, we are at it again! It’s one of the biggest back-to-school give-aways courtesy of some of your favorite ELA sellers. 

We’re teachers too, so we know that feeling of going back to school.  Cure those back to school blues by entering this HUGE give-away. Not only multiple prize packs, but also multiple winners!

The give-away will run Monday 8/31 to Monday 9/14. You’ll see some familiar and maybe even some new faces, so follow our stores and our social media accounts, and stay updated with what’s new! Winners will be announced Tuesday 9/15.


The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

Prize # 1: Gift Card of Choice
Win a $50 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon, Staples or Target.

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Prize #2: Middle School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your middle school ELA classroom.
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Prize #3: High School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your high school ELA classroom.
Close Reading: Guide Your Students Through the Process
Interactive Notebook Bundle
Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion
Common Core Literature Bell Ringers for Secondary English
Found Poetry Packet
Introduction to Close Reading for Middle and High School - Model and Practice
Critical Thinking: What is Textual Analysis #2
Fiction and Nonfiction Test Passages
Short Story Starters Task Cards 


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Prize # 4: Middle School TpT Store Shopping Spree 
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
2 Peas and a Dog
The Creative Classroom
Literary Sherri
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Darlene Anne
Fisher Reyna Education
Brain Waves Instruction
Stacey Lloyd
James Whitaker's Sophist Thoughts
Created by MrHughes
ELA Everyday

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Prize #5: High School TpT Store Shopping Spree  
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
Room 213
The Daring English Teacher
Nouvelle
Making Meaning with Melissa
Linda Jennifer
Brynn Allison
Juggling ELA

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

They're Heeere! Are you Ready?


Where did July go? Before you know it another school year will be here. In fact I heard that some schools have already started. Monday, August 3rd and Tuesday, August 4th TpT is having a site wide sale. You will get 10% off when you checkout using the promo code BTS15. Many sellers are also having additional sales in their stores. I'm having 20% off of my entire store: Juggling ELA

The following is a list of amazing secondary ELA teachers who are participating in this sale. We call ourselves The Literary League. These men and women are some of the most creative teachers I've ever met. Check out their stores.

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
Nouvelle
Literary Sherri
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

I hope you have a wonderful school year.