It feels GREAT to get ahead

As teachers, it seems as if we have a constant, never-ending to-do list that haunts our brains at night as we try to sleep. At least once or twice a week, or maybe every night, as we lie in our beds drowsily drifting off into a peaceful sleep, a sudden thought pops into our heads. We are suddenly reminded of something we have to do. And suddenly, we are no longer drowsily drifting off into a peaceful sleep. Instead our brains are going full throttle thinking about all of the work that we still have yet to do for our classes.

Sound familiar?

Tonight I just finished aligning my vocabulary words, activities, and quizzes with the Common Core Standards. Even though we are just starting Act I, I finished the vocabulary for all five Acts, and boy does it feel rewarding. You can check out the vocabulary bundle here.

Teaching a variety of different students all in the same class (Intermediate ESL through advanced English proficient students), I wanted to provide differentiation in my vocabulary lessons. I wanted to make sure that I challenged my advanced students while still providing scaffolded and differentiated activities for my ESL students. I've used these activities before in my classroom, but never for Romeo and Juliet before.

The table sort vocabulary activity is a hands-on, fun and engaging activity that really motivates the students, so I am excited to watch my students show what they have learned as they complete this classroom activity.

I am certainly looking forward to a peaceful slumber tonight....that is, until I start thinking up my next classroom activity and lesson.

Taking the Plunge: Romeo and Juliet

I love returning to school for the Spring Semester because that means I get to teach The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet  and To Kill a Mockingbird. I look forward to this semester every year.

Since I am in the process of aligning my curriculum to the Common Core Standards, I updated my vocabulary words, activities, and quizzes to better meet the standards. Teaching Shakespeare to struggling readers and ESL students is challenging, but I came up with a couple of vocabulary activities that I am hoping will make things a little easier for them. I created a table sort activity, two different vocabulary graphic organizers, a fun crossword puzzle for vocabulary review, and a simple vocabulary quiz for each Act.

I also wanted to make sure that I shared this resource with other teachers, especially teachers who might be new to teaching, or new to teaching ESL students.

If you are teaching Romeo and Juliet soon, I encourage you to checkout the vocabulary resources I created for Act I here. Best of all, it is entirely FREE!

My students are starting their vocabulary this week. After we return to school from the 3-day weekend we start reading the prologue.


Hi, and welcome to my blog.

This is a great time to begin an educational blog because it is a new year, and the new semester starts tomorrow morning. I am really excited to gear back up and get back in the classroom.

Seeing as how it is a brand new year, I have a couple ideas in mind for starting off on the right foot. In the very beginning of the school year I did a great ice breaker activity with all of my classes. It was a Post Secret themed activity, and it really worked. So many of my students opened up and shared some pretty deep secrets anonymously. I shared the secrets aloud, and by the end of the class period my students knew that they were not alone. Many had the same secrets, the same fears, the same hopes, the same doubts. I plan on having my students participate in another activity tomorrow that will hopefully open up their eyes.

The Crumpled Paper Experiment
In the beginning of class I will ask all of my students to get out a piece of paper. Then, I will instruct them to crumple it into a small ball as tightly as they can. Once this task is finished, I will then give them the impossible task of smoothing it out completely. They will work on their own paper. They will help their neighbor's paper. They will spend some time trying to smooth out the crumpled paper. I know that the paper will never be good as new, but I want my students to try and get their paper to look as new as possible. After several minutes of my students relentlessly trying to smooth out the old, crumpled paper, I will tell them the significance of this activity. Despite all of the work and despite all of the effort that they put into making their paper new again, the creases and lines are still there. The creases and lines represent the ever-lasting emotional scars that can result from bullying. After the activity I will give the students several minutes to participate in a free write.

After the Crumpled Paper Experiment, I am going to engage my students with a New Year's Goals Essay. I am going to ask my students to identify one educational, one social, and one community goal that they would like to set and work toward in 2014. This essay will take about two days in class, and then my students will be moving on to The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Fun times lie ahead!