Month: February 2016

10 Review Activities with No Grading

10 Review Activities

Do you ever find yourself with too much grading and not enough time? Yes, it’s the song of our people. I cannot honestly remember the last weekend I did not have a least a few hours of paperwork to catch up on that I did not have time for during my regular work week.

Splat: Divide students into two or more teams and give each team an unused flyswatter. Hang relevant vocabulary word on the wall. Provide the students with a definition or a sentence — minus the word. The first team to swat the correct word with the flyswatter gets a point. This would also work well with literary terms, characters, quotes — the sky’s the limit! This activity requires 30 minutes of preparation

Jeopardy: This is my absolute favorite way to prepare my students for a test over a novel, play, or other major unit. Simply create your Jeopardy game to highlight the important information you want your students to know. Divide the class into two teams, have them pick a spokesperson (the only one who can give answer), and have fun! I do recommend picking a squirrelly student to assist you with keeping score. Additionally, I take away points when a team is talking out of turn. You can find a template to create your own Jeopardy! review game here. This activity requires 1-2 hours of preparation, but you can reuse it over and over.

Timeline Puzzle: This is a quick review activity that requires 5-10 minutes of preparation. Take a short story, play, or novel and chose 10-15 important events. You can either write them on the board — out of order, or type them up and cut them apart. Have students, in groups, arrange the events in the correct order. When one group is done, send members out to help other groups.

Students create their own test: This is another one of my favorite collaborative pre-test activities. In groups, students create the test they think they may see in the next day or two. I have them write a mix of questions: multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay. Not only are they responsible for coming up with meaningful questions (no gotcha! questions, they are also responsible for writing the answer key to their test. Once complete, I team up groups to challenge their classmates. Preparation time: none! Give credit for participation.

Students Teach their Peers: Here’s another minimal-prep activity. Assign collaborative groups to a particular section of a novel or play. I use this all the time when I teach Shakespeare and The Canterbury Tales. Tell students they are responsible for teaching the rest of the class their assigned portion of the novel, play, or ____. (Add your own ideas here.) I grade them as they present their information. Additionally, all students are required to take notes during presentations.

Four Corners: This activity is good discussion theme, persuasion, and some controversial topics related to literature. The instructions can be found here, although you can adapt them to fit your needs. I love doing this activities with my older students, as the discussions we have are meaningful and increase their interest in the reading. Prep time: 20-30 minutes.

Who Am I? — This is a fun post-novel or play activity. Write the names of characters on tape or address labels. Put them on students’ backs so they cannot see their name, but other students can. Students may ask each other only yes or no questions until they figure out which character they are. This would also be fun with literary terms. Prep time: 15 minutes.

Snowball fight: This fun vocabulary game is a crowd-pleaser. This works with vocabulary, literary terms, or even as a review before a test. Prep time: 10 minutes.


My Blood Type is Coffee!

My blood type is coffee

coffeeAccording to this blog, teachers belong to one of the professions that drinks the most coffee. I’m entirely not surprised. After all, I know few humans who can wake up, dress, and get to work by 7 a.m. in order to lead a group of children without adequate caffeination. It’s just not done. I mean, I have heard stories, but they do not end well for anyone involved.

I may be a WEENSIE bit of a grump without my morning java.I’m usually pretty good about prepping a new batch and setting my timer on the coffee maker before I go to bed. If I forget and have to make it up in the morning, there is usually a bit of grumbling on my part. Thankfully, nobody else is crazy enough fortunate enough to greet the day as early as I do, so my invectives generally only reach the ears of the cats. 

The other Sunday I set my alarm for five a.m. (!) in order to beat the rush on the kitchen and get some grading in. I went downstairs with my eyes half opened, narrowly avoiding tumbling down and landing on the cold tiles of morning, and reached for that hot, glorious, dark ambrosia, but then — oh my dear goodness — the carafe from my coffee maker was missing. I looked everywhere — in the sink, the dish washer, the boys’ bathroom, the teenagers hampers, everywhere.  I woke up the man in the house — not once, but twice — and accused him of playing a cruel, cruel prank on me. I made that poor man get out of bed and come down to help me find my precious (insert voice of Gollum from Hobbit fame).

And you know what? We found that carafe. In the cabinet next to the coffee cups. It still had a quarter pot from the day before. I did the right thing, of course, and yelled at the cats for being so discourteous for leaving my coffee in the wrong spot. And then I promptly cleaned that sucker and made a fresh new pot.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s time to admit you are an addict. You have obviously hit your bottom.  But you are wrong. Until I find myself waist deep in a garbage can sucking on coffee grounds, I will never admit how coffee has it’s dark, roasted claws in my soul.


10 Inspirational Quotes, part 3


Teaching is Easy! …and other lies

Teaching is Easy Square

If you are anything like me, you have run into a lot of people who tell you that teaching must be easy. They say things like, “I’ve thought about teaching, after I’m done working” or “How hard can it be?” or “I don’t know why you’re so busy all the time; you’re just a teacher.”

Please. Stop.




Ms. Flint's Classroom

Love my new shirt!



20 Problems Only Teachers Will Understand

20 Problems SquaredThey day you are running late and need to make copies, the copiers will be jammed — all of them.

When you are halfway through a long teaching unit, you will get three new students.

Your administrator walks into your classroom during the last hour of the day, on a Friday, after a pep rally, when you are sick.

The parents you really want to talk to do not show up to parent-teacher night.

The one kid who always pushes your buttons is never absent.

Students enjoy the lesson plans you think up in your car on the drive to school more than the ones you spent hours writing.

You spill coffee on your shirt the day you wear that cute new outfit you have been saving up  for.

The school WiFi will go out the day you plan for that awesome technological lesson plan.

You have permanent bruises on your legs that are exactly student desk height.

When you are sick, you suck it up and go in anyway because it’s easier to go in and feel like you might die than to put lesson plans together for a sub.

They day you give a big test, there will be a fire alarm.

Parents blame you when a student is failing your class, even though the student has refused to do any work in your class.

You write the due date for a big assignment on the board, on the assignment sheet, and you   mention it every day in  class. Students continually ask you the due date.

You go two weeks without a meeting, and suddenly you have three, all on the same day. At the same time.

The one time you go out with your friends to have drinks, you run into all of your students.

You finally get a chance to have a sit-down lunch, and administration decides it the right moment to hold a fire drill.

On the morning after you stay up late to perfect your lesson plans, you will realize that you are out of coffee.

After years of perfecting your curriculum and honing your lessons, the standards change.

When you are trying desperately to quiet your class, one student will make a joke so good you have to fight not to laugh along with the kids.

You spend hours researching and writing a presentation, and then that one kid asks you a question you don’t know the answer to.

It’s finally the weekend, and you cannot sleep past 5:30 a.m.

It’s Friday night, and your family thinks you suck for wanting to go right to bed.

That one kid that really pushes your buttons will give you the best, most thoughtful thank you note at the end of the year.

This post seems to have received a lot of interest lately. I’d love to get to know you a little better! Please leave a comment and let me know who you are. Thanks! ❤ Monica


21st Century Teenagers

21st Century (4)


10 Inspirational Teaching Quotes, part 2


Time Spent Grading Essays

Time spent grading essays


What I Wish Politicians Knew About Education

I knew I would never make a lot of money as a teacher. But I did not expect that I would not be able to cover the basic needs of my family. I should not have to take a second job to be able to afford my first.

I don’t care how many years you sat in a classroom as a student. Unless you have taught children, day in and day out, for years, you can never have an appreciation for the energy and skill it takes to be a teacher.