Coming August 3rd! ...

Just throwing this out there!

More details to come! :)

Also, be sure to check back next week for your FREE First Day of School Lesson Plans!

Summer News & Helpful Info for Back to School!

I hope you're feeling human again!

I've had a crazy fun summer and I'm currently in the trenches of prepping for Vegas next week! Eek!

Be sure to grab the handout if you're planning to attend by clicking the thumbnail above.

I've also been working overtime to finish up some important projects before the back-to-school crazy is in full swing!

My Practice & Assess series is *almost* complete! Earlier this summer, I finished up the Practice & Assess Poetry packets as well as Level A of the Practice & Assess Writing packets. I'll be releasing Level B Writing by the end of July and Level C by the first part of August. 


When you're ready to get into back to school mode, here are some previous posts that you might find helpful! 

How to Run a Successful Independent Reading Program in the Middle Grades

Middle School Teacher's Survival Guide

Classroom Library Organization (by Genre)

Where to Find (FREE) Nonfiction Articles For Your Classroom

Meaningful Collaborative Groups in Reading

September 11th Reading Lesson

The Wednesday Wars Novel Study

Teaching The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963

Teaching "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"

Tour of My Classroom

How to: Literature Circles

Classroom Library Software (C.L.A.S.)

Sentence Writing: Build a Better Sentence

Automatic Grading in Google Docs with Flubaroo

Symbolism Scrapbooks

Looking Ahead Blog Hop: How I Find Great Literature!

Since most of us are finishing up our year or just starting our summer, I wanted to share with you something you can do NOW to begin preparing for your secondary ELA class next fall!

One of the MOST important and time-consuming aspects of teaching reading at the secondary level is, well, all that READING! Most of you already know that I'm not a cover-the-entire-anthology kinda girl - so just how do I select the best literature and short stories to teach the dozens of concepts I've got to cover?

If I had time, I'd buy dozens of giant anthologies and read them all front to back, sticky-noting those pages all-up! But.. ain't nobody got time for that!

So, here's what  I do...

I go on Amazon and search for "literature anthology audio CD" or the like. I look for all kinds of textbooks that are close to the grade I teach - since I teach 6th, I'll buy anything for 5th-8th grades. Here are the most recent ones I've ordered:
For around $30 you'll get hours of stories to listen to!   Then, I rip them into iTunes, add them to a playlist by the name of the audio CD, and then add them to my iPhone. Now, when I'm in the car,  in the tub, washing the dishes, laundry, or anything like that, I'll listen to a story. Sometimes they're so stupid I don't even finish them. Other times, I'll have to stop whatever mundane task I'm working on to jot down notes! The thing about this is - it doesn't require 100% of your attention. If your mind wanders, fine. If you miss something, fine. But overall, your'e going to find some GREAT stories that you're really excited about sharing with your students. Find a story that you want to use? I've never had a problem finding a story, as the majority of them are available online.  Now, you're not stuck to that anthology, and you've got a load of stories in your mind to pull from when you need them!

You can also check out my pacing charts that are available free to find many of the short stories that I've selected thanks to my anthology-listening habit!

Be sure to check out these great tips from other secondary ELA sellers.

Memorial Day Freebie & How I Made My Final Exams in Minutes!

Happy May, Friends! I've been bustin' it to get my finals written, study guides made, and room cleaned up. Next week, I'll be wrapping up the year, as the kids' last day is Wednesday and mine is Friday. C-R-A-Z-Y, right?!

I wanted to share a couple of things with you.. first, I almost completely forgot to do my Memorial Day Unit with my students. It's so easy to get mush brain this time of year, and of all things, a STUDENT reminded me last week that I still haven't done the Arlington unit I promised them. Those little boogers can remember some STUFF, as I haven't mentioned this since our Veteran's Day unit. I think they must have enjoyed it!

Anyway.. here's a reminder to grab this FREE Memorial Day unit. It's perfect for last-minute lessons as it's no prep and, of course, high-interest. And, I might add, a very important topic to teach your students about…

And another thing.. I must share that I have just put together the EASIEST final exams and final exam study guides I have EVER MADE! I literally went to my Practice & Assess packs, clicked, copied, and pasted the exam together from different lessons in the sets. Having these Practice & Assess packs is like having a HUGE question bank for each topic - in the differentiation bundles, there are literally 120 questions PER LESSON!

Here's a peek at the first couple of pages of my study guide for reading - it was put together the same way! :)

More soon.. good luck to those who are wrapping up this week, and God bless those who have weeks to go!

It's Bundle Palooza @ Lovin' Lit!

Bundle Palooza is for a limited time only - once these bundles are gone, they're GONE!

They're currently marked down over 30% - save even more when you shop during the Teacher Appreciation Sale May 5th and 6th ONLY! Use code THANKYOU to receive a total of 40% off these bundles!!

Hard copy bundles are also available and are 40% off as well!

Testing Is Over, So I'm DONE Teaching for the Year! Calming the Chaos Blog Hop

Yep, I said it! Testing has ended, so I'm officially DONE teaching for this school year. And here's why you should be done teaching, too!

There are about 4 weeks of school this year after the latest testing week we've ever had, and now we're down to 3 more weeks of school. Woohoo!

And since my students have already taken THE TEST and are no doubt exhausted from all of the information I've shoved their way, I'm DONE TEACHING!

What will I do during the last four weeks of school? Sit back and let my students do the hard work!

What I will do:
- facilitate
- coordinate
- assign
- assess

What I will NOT do:
- stand up in front of students in May and continue to deliver lessons - NOPE!

This is the time of year that I just...

I have tried teaching in May in years past, and it's one of the worst experiences of my life. Plus, I've taught so much information already, and this is the perfect time to let my students apply all of that knowledge independently. And I don't mean busy work- even though (I won't lie) I've certainly considered it - because that would be almost as bad as actually teaching!

For these last few weeks, I've grouped my students - almost like we're doing literature circles again - but for my own sanity and ease of implementation they're all reading the same books. We did this with If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period and now Wonder.

I'm using iPod shuffles and splitters so that my students can listen together in their groups and each group can work at their own pace. I gave students different roles so that the day-to-day routines can flow well and responsibilities can be shared. And, I made a huge checklist of what to do and how to do it. I ran off the rules/norms, roles, and checklist, handed them out, and my students are doing the rest. Yep! It's beautiful.

Here's the first side of the handout that has the group norms and responsibilities/roles:

And the back side that contains the checklist/task list:

This is highly personalized for my class, but hopefully it'll be helpful in really showing you how I'm doing and organizing this and give you some ideas to do something similar. You can also download the PDF here. Sorry, I don't have it in editable format.

If you don't have iPods or even laptops that the students can use for listening to audiobooks, you can always just have them take turns reading aloud so that they're still reading as a group. But, let me tell you.. the silence that befalls the room when all of my students are plugged in to the book is absolutely ah-mazing!

And just in case that doesn't take us all the way to the end of the year, I have some rigorous, interactive busy work. Nope, that's not an oxymoron!

Students will read and write about 8 different dangerous animals, and then they will draw them with the  how-to-draw guides that are included! 

Then, they'll watch one of my all-time favorite movies, Homeward Bound, and complete a viewing guide that includes a Figurative Language & Expression Challenge and a Literary Elements Challenge. Finally, they can make Homeward Bound lapbooks to analyze the plot. Fun for them, easy for you, and super-rigorous for your principal! 

Are you getting frazzled at this time of the year? Be sure to check out more amazing ideas for Calming the Chaos from these bloggers!


I have enjoyed reading your comments this week and have noticed that so many of you have come back every day, entering the giveaways and commenting. I hope you know that I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

Yesterday's Winners:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I absolutely can't wait to give you today's featured freebie! They'll be included in future paid products, so I'm only making them available to my amazing followers for 24 hours. Once they're gone, they're gone! **I'm sorry, but this offer has ended.**

Click the cover above to download this PDF through Google Docs!

The last book quiz set is for Rules by Cynthia Lord. I like how this book deals with a difficult topic - having a brother with autism -  without being too heavy. It sends a great (but not TOO corny) message about being accepting of those who have differences.

*I'm sorry, but this offer has ended*

Have you collected all 7 of these book quizzes? Congratulations! You're now ready to hold your students accountable for literature circle or summer reading choices! Sweeet!

Have you won a prize this weekend? I'll be contacting you before the end of this week, so thanks for being patient!

Today's giveaway is my favorite one. I'm giving away 25 (yes, twenty-five!) Winner's Choice items from my TpT store. Those are some pretty amazing odds! Here's how to play:

1. Visit my TpT store at
2. Choose your prize! You can choose any single item (up to $20 value!) as long as it is not part of a bundle. Bundles priced at $5 or below can be chosen.
3. Pin the item you've chosen by using the Pin It button on the TpT item description page.
4. Make sure you copy the URL of your pin(s) to insert into Rafflecopter!
4. To increase your odds, you can do this twice with two different products! Only two entries per person, please.
5. Comment below and let me know which item(s) you're hoping to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck, and once again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! I hope you've felt the love this week. :D