35 Ways to Start a Conversation with Your Teen

35 Questions for Teenagers

  1. What was the best part of your day today?
  2. If you had $100, what would you do with it?
  3. If you could move to another state, where would you go and why?
  4. What’s the last thing that made you really laugh?
  5. Who do you respect the most and why?
  6. If you could have one superpower, what would you choose and why?
  7. Where would you like to travel?
  8. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
  9. Who would you / will you  vote for and why?
  10. What’s your favorite class?
  11. If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be?
  12. Describe your perfect day.
  13. What makes you feel good about yourself?
  14. Teach me a slang word you like to use.
  15. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  16. What color is your mind?
  17. If you could be an animal, which one would you choose and why?
  18. If you could have 50 of one item, what would it be?
  19. Which song is your jam?
  20. What was your favorite childhood toy?
  21. What do you think you will be doing ten years from now?
  22. If you could choose any other time period to live, when would you choose and why?
  23. If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would you choose and why?
  24. Which of the four seasons is your favorite and why?
  25. If you were the ruler of the world, what things would you banish?
  26. If you could do something you have never done before, what would you do?
  27. What is the best thing you have ever done?
  28. If you could change one thing about school, what would it be?
  29. What is the best thing about being a boy / girl?
  30. What is the worst thing about being a boy / girl?
  31. If you had three wishes, what would they be?
  32. What is the most difficult things about being your age?
  33. How could school better prepare you to be an adult?
  34. If you had one week to live, what would you  do?
  35. What is the best present someone could give you?
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An Introduction to Yearbooks

CCC Introduction to Yearbooks

Click here to download now!

I advise a 400-page chronological yearbook, and we publish on a year-round basis. Training new staff members at the beginning of the year is important, and it must be done as quickly as possible. This is the first activity I have my new staff members do as an introduction to the parts of a yearbook and some of the terms that we used in publishing.

This worksheet is to be used in conjunction with sample yearbooks. I keep 20-30 different yearbooks in my classroom at any time as they serve as good inspirational and educational resources.

Each student takes a sheet and a yearbook. The form is rather self-explanatory and directs them to look for certain elements in the book. Upon completion, students are asked to rate the book and then present their findings in from of the class.

Most students are familiar with what a yearbook looks like and what he or she can expect to find inside on. This worksheet focuses on important terms and vocabulary that students will need to know for the rest of year.

It Happened to Me: True Tales of Teaching, part 2

True Tales of Teaching-What is the most unexpected thing that has ever happened to you while you were teaching? I bet it had nothing to do with your students. My most unexpected moment of teaching came in an otherwise ordinary afternoon, but I never would have suspected the danger that lurked just over my head.

At the time, I taught freshmen and sophomore students at a beautiful high school in the middle of an otherwise deserted area. We have seen all manner of wildlife, from rabbits to hawks to barn owls, find their way onto our campus. Needless to say, the students are not the only creatures who have made their way inside the walls of my classroom.

It was a lovely spring afternoon, and I had just settled in with my sixth period freshman English class to read Act Three of “Romeo and Juliet.” Rome had just slain his new wife’s cousin, and things for the Montagues and the Capulets were going downhill fast. My students were on the edge of their seats, DYING to find out what happened next.

There was a sudden movement in the room. If you have ever taught a class of freshmen, you know that they can be squirrelly, but even this was out of the norm for my students. A subtle rustle began, a murmur like a gentle hum, and then a general movement. Something was amiss. The students knew what it was, but I was  clueless.

Frustrated by this interruption of the great Shakespeare, I demanded to know what was going on. “Ms. Flint!” The kids said excitedly, “There’s a bat on the floor.” They pointed to a small brownish object lying on the floor next to my storage cabinet.

I looked, and then I looked closer. “What is it?” I asked the kids. We gathered around it, giving it a respectable berth. “It’s a bat,” they chimed.

I looked it over again. It was small and looked unreal. For a moment, I wanted to believe one of my students had brought in a fake bat. “Did someone put this here?” I asked. “No,” said one brave soul,” It came though the ceiling.”

I looked up. I was in a second floor classroom, and it was true that I had heard scampering in the ceiling when the students were gone for the day, and I walked through the empty hallways. I had assumed it was birds, or even a squirrel. The thought of a bat had never entered my mind; but there it was, lying prone on the floor of my classroom.

There are things they teach you about in college: methodology, techniques, how to write a lesson plan, aligning your teaching with standards. But never had I been taught how to handle this.

“Is it dead?” a quivering voice asked. We stood staring, nobody answering, and nobody wanted to see for sure if the creature was actually alive. It was about that time that I remembered I was the only adult in the room. It was up to me to take decisive action, although I just really wanted to flee from my room.

A ruler, a puppy-emblazoned student folder, and a panicked phone call to the school custodian later, and the bat — which was not dead after all, only stunned — and the disruption was over. The bat was gone, the students returned to their desks, and the rest of the period was free for Romeo and Juliet. But really, after a bat falls through your ceiling, can Shakespeare really compete with that?

 

 

 

Sell Your Lessons; Make a Plan!

 

When I first joined Teachers Pay Teachers, I got a little overwhelmed with the process of adding new products.

Hence the “TPT Planner” — The ultimate product planner that will help you put down all of the important details you need to complete your product description and your post-uploading action plan for promoting your product on social media platforms.

Form works for any and all grade levels / subjects / TPT product. It includes spaces that will assist you in completing the product addition process. Additionally, there is space on this form that will help you market your TPT product on social media platforms.

This is a PDF file. The downloadable form is free of CC logo and watermark.

Are you interested in selling your own lesson plans? Start here.

 

 

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.

coffee

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.

(more…)

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