December 20, 2016

Fun with Shakespeare- Much Ado About Nothing

Happy December everyone! You're halfway finished with the school year, and this is a great time to think about the end of the school year ;)

One of my favorite units to teach is Shakespeare. I know many teachers don't enjoy teaching Shakespeare, but I think it's because the students come in with a misconception that it's difficult and boring. Well this play will turn that around :)

Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is a great comedy to teach students. The language is relatively easy, Shakespeare-wise, and is hilarious if the students understand it. Plus, who doesn't enjoy making fun of Keanu Reeve's horrible acting in the Kenneth Branagh movie version?? :)

I've put together some great activities to help you teach this play and keep your students' attention. Take a look!

This also pairs well with my Renaissance Faire unit--a great lead-in to the play. Have fun introducing Shakespeare to your students, and enjoy teaching it as well! You even have the weeks laid out for you with the download, as well as answer keys for the quiz and test.

And with that, I bid thee adieu!

December 5, 2016

Winter-Time Poetry Activity

Happy December all! You're so close to break...can you taste it?!

We all know that the students start to get crazy the week before break, so instead of trying to focus on a novel or lengthy assignment, try mini lessons for each day leading up to break.

In this mini lesson, "Winter-Time" poetry analysis, the students will analyze the poem "Winter-Time" by Robert Louis Stevenson and discuss the literary devices used as well. This lesson will only take one class period, and is best suited for 8-12th grade :) It's ideal because while it is educational, it's not a big deal if a student is absent or misses class. The poetry activity is a great way to refresh their analyzation skills without them thinking it's a big deal of an assignment. The poem is about Winter, not Christmas, so it's great for the public school classroom where it needs to be all-inclusive.

So head on over to my TPT Store and pick it up today! Give yourself a break and save the headache of fighting with the students to finish a major assignment right before break :)

November 27, 2016

Cyber Monday

It's the Holiday Season!!!! Black Friday is over, but Cyber Monday is coming to TPT! Actually, it's Cyber Monday AND Tuesday :)

Enjoy bettering your classroom from the comfort of your own home this Monday & Tuesday! Just head on over to my TPT Store and enjoy 28% off when you use code: CYBER2016 at checkout.

Happy Holidays everyone!

November 15, 2016

Well Hello, November!

Halloween came and went, so did Veteran's Day. Where has the time gone?? Thanksgiving is around the corner, then Christmas, then it's 2017!!! Ahhhhh!!!

Well I'm hopping back on the blog to let you guys know about a great new product I have available. As you know, I'm in the Sign Language Interpreting program at night so that I can add Sign Language on to my credential and teach it as a foreign language.

Side note, I've been making flashcards like CRAZY!!!!

But for the big news-I have created a bundle of quizzes for ASL 1 that focus on fingerspelling. While ASL focuses heavily on signs, it is important for students to know how to understand fingerspelling, both receptively and expressively. These 4 quizzes get progressively more difficult, and start to cover longer words and "things/places" with two names, i.e. Grocery Store.

The first quiz does not require a teacher to sign/spell anything, so it can be given on a sub day ;) The next three do require the teacher to spell the words that the students write down.

Take a look!

You can see here that Quiz #1 utilized the written letters [just to test for recognition and to see who is actually studying the alphabet] whereas Quizzes #2-4 require live spelling.

Answer Keys are provided for all quizzes, and they are available in both Word and PDF :) Check it out here!

Happy Signing!

October 24, 2016

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Congrats to Terri Wallace! You won the $20 Starbucks gift card :) Lucky you! I emailed you Terri, and if you can send me your address, I'll get that out to you!

Thanks everyone for participating and following my business. Have a great day!

October 22, 2016

700 Follower Giveaway!

Thank you again everyone for following my blog, Facebook, and supporting my TPT store :) It really means a lot to me that people are enjoying what I have to say, and love using my lesson plans and ideas...I appreciate you!!

And what better way to show my appreciation than with STARBUCKS!!!!
We all need a little pick-me-up now and then, and y'all gave me that with reaching 700, so I figure I can throw a little pick-me-up your way as well. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway This raffle will run Saturday through Monday, so hurry on up and get your entries in!

Thanks for entering! Good luck!

October 19, 2016

700 TPT Followers! That calls for a Celebration!

Holy Cow! Thank you so much everyone who follows my TPT store and interacts with the blog and Facebook :)

This calls for some LOVE! So I am going to be showing you all love and appreciation through Saturday the 22nd, starting with a 20% off sale at my store!

Stay tuned later this week for more LOVE!!!!!

October 9, 2016

Columbus Day Sale....

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety-two.

Anyone remember that rhyme?? Always stuck with me ;)

Anyway, having a little sale for all y'all on Sunday and Monday- 15% off all my products in my TPT Store!

I hope you get a day off! We have to work because the college is open...I thought all educational institutions had the day off...oh well...only working 3 hours Monday, so it's all good :) I'll still get to spend some time with the hubby :)

October 7, 2016

How to actually teach annotation

...not just hand out a helpful bookmark. The bookmark can now serve as a friendly reminder for students, but not the end all be all.

I now have a PowerPoint available for y'all to help you actually teach students how to annotate properly.

We've all seen the margins that say, "wow", "cool", or other meaningless phrases. How are these phrases helping students?!? THEY'RE NOT...

This PowerPoint can be used as a presentation in your classroom, or you can assign it for homework and have students take notes to prove they viewed it. Learning how to properly annotate [or perform a Close Reading] will help students engage with the text on a deeper level, and will make your job as a teacher EASIER!

Head on over to TPT and check it out :)

September 11, 2016

September 11-15th Anniversary

I just thought I'd share something my husband wrote on FB this morning:

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the tragic events that changed America and a majority of the people in it. Not since Dec 7th 1941, had our country seen and felt something like this. The day started with multiple events of cowardice and hatred, but ended with amazing displays of true heroics and sacrifice. 15 years ago, 19 cowards hijacked 4 separate planes and attacked this country on a clear and beautiful Tuesday morning. By the end of the day, America lost almost 3,000 people. Many of which were unsuspecting innocent people that were at work in the New York City and Washington, D.C. region or trying to travel by air on one of the 4 hijacked planes. But, others were first responders who answered the call made on that day and heroically risked their lives to try and save those directly impacted by the events on the 11th, many of which willingly paid the ultimate price and sacrificed their lives. These first responders were made up of thousands of Firefighters, Law Enforcement personnel, Port Authority personnel, and EMTs. These first responders, these heroes, didn't hesitate on this day and did exactly what they were trained to do. ......they saved lives, regardless of gender, race, and religion. All of this was irrelevant, they just knew that people were hurt and in danger and that they needed to do something about it.

At the end of the day, 343 FDNY, 23 NYPD , 37 Port Authority PD, and 8 EMTs heroically gave their lives trying to save the lives of others. Remember and honor these heroes today, as well the approx other 2,900 lives lost 15 years ago today. All of these people are heroes and deserve to never be forgotten!!!! I challenge everyone to do the research and read about the heroics on this day, 15 years ago. There were many and they need to be remembered. We need to remember how the country came together to not only support those involved, but to help recover and rebuild. That is what this country is about! Never forget!

Just some food for thought. Enjoy your friends and family today :)

September 8, 2016

New Job Update!

Hello blogger buddies! As many of you know from my Tales of Teaching in Heels Facebook page, I started a new job recently :)

I now work at the local college in their Writing Center, helping students write papers, giving presentations in classrooms about the Center and/or how to write an effective paper, or even help with resumes.  I have to tell you, I am LOVING this new job!!!!!!

Students come in on their one makes them come in. This is the great part about the job, the students want the help! On average I help around 3-4 students per day [I'm part time and so I only work 4 hours a day] and the assistance can range from MLA formatting, to organize a paper, or correct grammar, or even a complete paper overhaul.

Once I'm here a little longer, I'll be sharing with you the most common mistakes I see, and I'll share ideas with y'all on how we can combat that as middle school/high school teachers.

So far the thing I'm noticing the most is that the teachers are not clear on their expectations or directions. Now, as a teacher, I know that students often say I didn't tell them how to do it or what not...but I even looked on these kids' Blackboard accounts and the professor just says, "Write a 5 page paper about summer".... ummmmmmm....ok. Formatting? Theme? Dialogue? What do you want?!

Thus, my first helpful hint to all you teachers out there is to make sure your directions and expectations are clear. This will help students create an outline more easily and will give them an idea of where there paper is going.

Looking forward to sharing more with you guys as I experience more!!

August 20, 2016

#BestYearEver Bonus Sale!!!

Well TPT is at it again! The #BestYearEver was an awesome sale and a great way to get people excited about going back to school :) It was so great, in fact, that TPT is holding another Back To School SALE!!! Monday, August 22, 2016....ONE DAY ONLY :)

740 × 400 

If you use the code: OneDay at checkout, you can get 28% off ALL items in my TPT Store! How cool is that?

Here are some of my Must Have products that you might be interested in:

1) Common Core Novel Study SmashBook

2) Argument Writing Unit

3) Lesson Planner/Sub Binder

4) Cry The Beloved Country Unit

5) Standards-Based Novel Review: Speed Dating Style

6) Substitute Teacher Lesson Plans...that don't waste a day!!!

I love being organized for the new school year, so hopefully these discounted items will help you become more organized :) Make this year the #BestYearEver!!!!! 

August 16, 2016

Classroom Must Haves: I Can't Picture Myself Teaching Without...

Hello all! Back To School is upon us and I see teachers getting their classrooms ready, attending "professional development" meetings, staff meetings, etc.  Wouldn't it be nice to know what other teachers can't live without in their classrooms? Maybe you'd get some great ideas for this year!

Well Create-Teach-Share is having a giveaway and joining others in talking about what they can't picture themselves teaching without! I'm not doing this to join the giveaway or anything [they're upper elementary], just thought it would be a great way to share with others what I utilize in my classroom, and see what YOU can't live without in yours!!

[from Create-Teach-Share]

So, my must have classroom supply is the annotation stickers I have students use if they're borrowing a school book! I love to have students annotate/perform close readings of the novels we read because I truly believe it enhances comprehension and analyzing skills. 
 These are Avery See-Through sticky notes. They're big arrows, though I've seen students cut them in half to make better use of them.  These sticky notes allow students to annotate on the novel, and still see the text underneath so they don't have to lift up a sticky note every time we read or re-read a passage. 

Number 2 is my must have book for teaching. Recently, I found that writing has been the biggest struggle for students. I found a wonderful book that I incorporated in my Argument Writing Unit called,  Teaching Argument Writing by George Hillocks, Jr. 

 I loved the insight this book provided and with my Argument Writing Unit, I really felt like the students made huge strides in their writing skills!

I LOVE using my SmashBook to engage students in novels! I never had so many students tell me they enjoyed an assignment more :) I actually use this resource as their "homework" while I'm teaching the Argument Writing unit because I still want them to be reading as well. It's a perfect combination :) 

 [creative page for identifying figurative language]

 [learning to analyze characters/character development]

And lastly, my must have classroom freebie. When I started teaching annotation, I got a lot of students write: 'cool', 'weird', 'why?'...not exactly what I was looking for [even though we had done an extensive lesson about how to annotate]. So I created a bookmark for the students: this bookmark reminds them how to annotate/close read!

 I noticed much more extensive and deeper annotations after passing out the bookmarks. Turns out the students didn't want to have to look back at their notes to see what to annotate for, so they just "made stuff up". While I didn't want to encourage the "laziness", I did want to encourage annotation, so this was a compromise I made. 

You can get them for free HERE at my TPT Store

AFTER you download my freebie, COMMENT on this page to let us know what you can't live without while teaching :) I'd love to see what your resources are, and I'm sure others would love to know too!

August 4, 2016

Back To School & Open House Bundle

It's August...which means we go back to school toward the end of the month...some of you even sooner! [sorry about that] And with the start of school comes Back To School and Open House.

[photo from:]

I remember my first year-I didn't know what to say, if I should let them ask questions, if I should tell them I was a first year teacher...yikes!

I wish I had a guide that would have helped me through it or at least given me some ideas. I don't think Pinterest was big 8 years ago :/

So I am giving you what I wish I had...A How To Guide and Ideas bundle!!!

This download contains:
-A How To Guide and ideas....and even suggestions on what to talk about!
-Parents' Sign Up Sheets
-Parent Info Card
-Classroom Donations take-homes
The Back To School and Open House Bundle is in Word and PDF format, and even contains a few .jpegs. Even if you're a pro and you've been doing this 10+ years, sometimes it's nice to have something pre-made and different. Give it a try and let me know how your Back To School Night or Open House went!

July 30, 2016

Back 2 School Sale!!!

It's that time again...Back2School! I love back to school time; all the cute decorations, the supplies on sale, the fresh ideas, and renewed energy :)

Join me this August 1st & 2nd for the TPT Back to School Sale!

740 × 400

Head on over to my TPT Store and enjoy 28% off when you enter the code: BESTYEAR at checkout! This can be your best year ever, especially with the right lesson plans and engaging ideas.

Need a planner that fits your Middle or High School schedule? I've got that! There are just some things that secondary teachers don't need...why buy a planner designed for an elementary teacher?

Need some engaging unit plans that utilize informational texts? I've got that! Plus all my Unit Plans have that embedded in them too!

So head on over and get ready for BEST YEAR EVER!!!!

July 3, 2016

Happy 4th & A Sale

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! And don't forget what this weekend is all about...Our Freedom; and we only have this freedom because a select few are willing to fight for it.

I'm also holding a 15% off sale over at my TPT Store to help you get ready for this next school year!! Today and tomorrow only! [July 3-4]

Lots of organizational helpers: Planners, Posters, Sub planners, To Do Lists, etc.
Lots of great units: Cry, The Beloved Country, Argument Writing, SmashBook, Poetry, Fahrenheit 451
Lots of great freebies too: First Day Of School BINGO, Student Information Sheet, Annotation Bookmarks
So head on over and get energized for this next school year, and save 15% while doing it!

June 14, 2016

Planners and Planning and Perfection!

I know some of you are not ready to think about the next school year....but take it from a super organized person who never spent more than 30 minutes a week planning during the school want to!

The biggest tip I can give to teachers, new and seasoned alike, is plan over summer! You only need to spend a few weeks each summer going through your old lessons, switching things out, creating new ones, and filling in your plan book; this will allow you SO MUCH MORE TIME during the school year! I never spent more than 30 minutes a week planning my lessons during the school year-this is because I was organized!

This is NOT a humble brag...this is me sharing with you what WORKS!!! I used to see teachers stressing out, staying at school until 6pm trying to plan for the next day, or there at 6am trying to plan for the that same day! Now before yous tart yelling at me, yes, I know things change during the school day that may cause you to need to change your plans....I get it. I'm talking about IN GENERAL.

Another tip I give is to do your copying Friday after school FOR THE NEXT WEEK. I never ran into other teachers trying to get their copying done...the copier wasn't jammed, I wasn't rushing to get to my class. It's a great time to copy! That way too, if you're sick Monday morning, your copies are available for the sub :)

I use my Summer Planner/Back to School Planner to help over the summer. It has checklists and a timeline to help keep me on track. Then during the year, I use my Planner of choice to help keep me organized with each class. I've updated all my Planners in my TPT Store, and they're all ready for 2016-2017!

Take the first step...get your planner printed and bound [I use Office Depot] and decorated with Washi Tape and all that fun stuff :) That can be your "planning" time for this week!! You'll feel better knowing you're on the right track to organization!

 [I buy the plastic dividers and have Office Depot bind them in with my planner. I also have them laminate the front and back cover in their stiffest lamination.]

Here's all my Planner themes available at my TPT Store:
Pastel Hexagon
Watercolor Flowers
Grey/Teal Chevron
Turquoise & Black Arrows
Black, White, & Blue [Non-year specific]
Gold Polka Dot

And if you're just looking for a VERY basic planner, I have my Free Chalkboard Planner as well. It is very basic though...just the Planning pages, Notes pages, and Important Phone Numbers page.

And if you don't like any of my styles, THAT'S OK!!!!!! As long as you find a planner that works for you and helps keep you organized-that is the goal :)

June 1, 2016

Classroom Cleanout: What to Keep, What to Trash

Well you've made it! With all the end of the year drama like grades and yearbook signing, it's easy to forget about the little things.

If you're like our school district, you've got this one week left, and I've come up with a few lists for you to help clean out for your classroom in preparation for the new school year. Now, some schools make you clean out your classroom weather you're teaching there next year or not, but our school let us keep our stuff in our classroom. Regardless, here are some helpful "End of the Year" cleaning tips!

What to Keep:
1) Example Projects/Essays: NOT ALL OF THEM!!! I used to do that..oh this one is good, oh this one too!!! Here's my advice--For major projects, I would keep an A, B, and C example so students can not only see 3 different versions of a project, but then they get a sense of how you grade the project as well. Even if you have a rubric on day one, it still helps for them to see what they should strive for.

2) A few EXTRA copies of the books you read/teach in class. Undoubtedly a student will forget to bring it one day, and it's great to have an extra one so he/she can follow along.

3) ANYTHING you bought with your own money!!! Like sticky notes, electric pencil sharpeners, expo markers, etc.

4) Planning Binders/Lesson Plans: If you know you're going to teach the same information next year, keep them in your classroom. If you're not going to teach that particular unit next year, these would be something to keep either in a cabinet in your room that you don't access often, or, if you have room, at home in your home office.

5) Last thing to keep while cleaning out your classroom before the summer-Notes from the kiddos!! Find a cool way to keep them...either a picture book/scrapbook, a memory box, or a binder with page protectors. You'll need these around for a pick-me-up on those rough days :)

What to Trash:
1) Dried out markers, nubs of crayons, colored pencils that the lead just seems to fall out of! Have a TA go through them on the last few days of school; the ones that don't work well, just TOSS 'EM! If the school doesn't pay for your supplies, Target has their huge BTS sale in July, and there's always Dollar Tree :)

2) Spiral notebooks with only a few pages don't need them, and they'll just take up space. UNLESS you tear out the pages and put them in a bin of paper students can use throughout the year. Just keep it organized!

3) Student projects that they just left behind. Once you pick your 3 examples, throw the rest away. You really don't need more than 3 per me. I used to show several examples and it actually just overwhelmed the kids anyway.

4) Anything that doesn't work that you think you'll fix. I used to think I'd get around to fixing everything, and then I never did and just bought a new one anyway.

5) Anchor Charts that you made with the kids. You don't need to save it because the point is to do it with the kids. If you want a reminder of the chart, take a picture and store it on your computer in a folder labeled 'Anchor Charts". This way you have a reference, but not a bunch of rolled up or crumpled up papers.

Well, those are my helpful hints for cleaning out your classroom! I hope that you're able to clean out your room and stay organized over the summer. This will help you feel refreshed and less overwhelmed when you come back from break.

What would you all add to this list?? It's always so great to get everyone's opinion! :)

May 27, 2016

End Of The School Year SALE

You did it! [Or have almost done it!]

To celebrate the end of the school year, I'm holding a sale over at my TPT Store. This is a great time to stock up on items you may want to use next year...and start thinking about next year's theme!

I've got new planners, new units, and fun freebies! All on sale from today [the 27th] through Memorial Day :) So head on over and save!


May 22, 2016

How To Stay Organized Over The Summer

So this is sort of a #Repost...with all the cool info about my Back To School Planner.

This can also be seen as a Summer Planner, because it helps you organize your time during the summer to stay on track so you're not overwhelmed when the new school year starts!

If you do "backward planning" and look at what needs to be done [in a reasonable amount of time], this is just about when you need to start thinking about back to school. Yes NEED.

I DO like to plan over the summer so that I'm NOT stressed when the new school year starts. So I did some backward planning and decided that 6 weeks out is a very generous amount of time to start planning. Starting so far out will allow you to just do a little each week and still have time for summer fun!

Or you could take my 6 weeks of checklists and cram them into the last 3 weeks if you want ;)

 This is just a brief look into what you'll be getting when you purchase your planner...

And who doesn't love helpful checklists?!

I know nobody wants to work over the summer...but trust me! If you do one day a week of organizing over the summer, you will see a HUGE difference in your stress level, and how prepared you feel for the first week of school!

Happy Organizing!

May 15, 2016

The Last Few Weeks Of School..What to do, What to do...

AP tests are completed, Prom came and went, STAAR testing is finally finished. And now you have those last few pesky weeks of school.

Most Seniors have decided where they're going to college, or not, and have lost a little motivation to be at school. Well why not give them some of that motivation back? My College & Career Readiness unit is a great way to "fill up" the last few weeks of school, but also prepare them for summer jobs, college majors, and future careers.

If you have Juniors, this too is a great time to complete this unit with your students since college applications are around the corner, and summer jobs are too!

This unit teaches students how to:
-Write a proper Resume
-Complete a proper Cover Letter
-An activity to find errors in a Cover Letter
-A College/Career Research Project & Rubric

I also add to this unit by having a week where I invite business members from the community to come speak to my Juniors/Seniors about their careers. It gives them a taste of what they can aspire to, what goes into that career...what you should major in for that career, what you *can earn, what are the typical hours, etc.  The parents of the Juniors/Seniors REALLY appreciated this unit; I got TONS of thank you notes from the kiddos' parents :)

So enjoy your last few weeks of school and help the kids out one more time! :)

May 12, 2016

Reuniting with an old flame...ASL

Happy Thursday to you blogger buddies!

As you may have seen from some of my Facebook posts [if you follow my FB page], I'm taking up American Sign Language again. I'm actually very excited about this journey and am excited to be signing again after a 13 year break. It's scary to think college was 13 years I really that OLD?!?! Anyway...

I've decided to start the process of getting my ASL teaching credential. I still have my English credential, but would just like to add on the ASL. Now, I haven't taken sign in a very long time, but it's coming back rather quickly. I have enrolled in a community college Interpreting program to get my skills back, learn more, and become equip to teach ASL in the secondary level.

I took my test yesterday to try to test out of ASL 1, and take ASL 2 this summer. Let's hope I passed!!!!!! I don't feel the test was representative of all my skills and knowledge re: ASL, but hopefully they can see I do know enough to pass the first course.

So in honor of my new adventure, I made two free posters for y'all. One with the alphabet, and one with numbers 1-10.

Even if you don't teach ASL, these skills may come in handy some day. Perhaps you have a mainstreamed student in your class...wouldn't it be nice to not have to ALWAYS rely on the interpreter? Or perhaps you teach Special Education and have students that use ASL. Or perhaps you're interested in expanding your own skill set and thing ASL would be interesting. Well these posters are technically 8.5 x 11", so they'd be a great study sheet to keep around, or, they can be blown up to a 2x3' poster and hung in the classroom! Either way, they're helpful and FREE :)

Here's a peek of the posters:

Click here to get them for FREE! Enjoy everyone!

May 7, 2016

Two New Planner Themes!

As this school years starts coming to a close, it's that fun time of year when you get to start thinking about what theme you want to do next year!!

I've come up with two new themes that I'm very excited about, and finally ready to share with y'all :)

First Up: Watercolor Flowers

This download contains a Lesson Planner, a Sub Binder, and 3 Classroom Posters! It offers both Word and PDF so that you can edit if need be, and now has a 6-class planner instead of 5 :)

Here's some close ups:

Front of the Planner

MLA Formatting Poster

And monthly calendars from August 2016 - July 2017.

And by the way, this new theme goes perfectly with my Watercolor To-Do Lists that come in 3 options ;)

And if flowers aren't really your "thing", I've got another option for you!

Second Option: Pastel Hexagon Design

This download contains a Lesson Planner [5-class], Sub Binder, and 3 Classroom Posters. Also available in both Word and PDF, in case editing is needed.

And now, a few close ups:
Front of the Lesson Planner

Parent Communication Log page [make multiple copies to use all year long]

Monthly Calendars, August 2016- July 2017.

I hope these new themes get you excited for next year!! Enjoy shopping, and thanks again for supporting my store. My goal is to create products that are functional, yet fun for teaching, and hopefully make your lives a little easier in the process :)