Scaffolding Novel Studies

Tuesday, August 23, 2022 No comments

 Many educators make the mistake of just jumping right into a novel or play without giving students and background information or just having one big project at the end of reading a new novel or play. This can be frustating for many students who may struggle during the duration of reading a text.

Introducing A Text 

Before reading a new text it's important for students to get some background information be it historical context, cultural context, or information on the author. Many books are hard for students to comprehend certain events inside the text without any background knowledge. In the case of science fiction or horror information on the genre may also be helpful.

Guided Reading

Don't leave your students hanging! Check for comprehension while students read each chapter. Go over vocabulary words or better yet-- have students find vocabulary words and define them. Study guides and graphic organizers are excellent tools for students to use to demonstrate their understanding of the text.

Assessment/ Projects

Novel projects are fun! Students can make a movie trailer, a board game, a pop-up book, and a lot of other activities that can not only prove mastery of the content but allow their creativity to shine through. 

Need More Help with Scaffolding Text? 

We got you covered! Try our Novel Units ... Don't see what you need? Let us now what novels and plays you would like to see covered. 

Positive Reinforcement

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 No comments

 I tend to find the best way to get my students to do their work and behave is to incoorporate positive reinforcement. Of course types of positive reinforcements to use can vary based on grade level and budget.

Elementary School

Most elementary school students are eager to please their teachers. The best types of treats for these students include

- Stickers! (especially shiney ones)

-Temporary tattoos

- Positive notes

- Candy

- Small dollar store items.

Middle School

Middle school students need alot of praise and are often pushing their limites behavior wise. Be sure to reward good behavior and not just academics.

- Candy

- Positive call home

- Extra Credit

-Homework pass

High School

High school kids need encouragement too! Many wake up very early, have other responsibilities besides school, and are easily disheartened.

- Candy

-Small snacks (can be healthy or unhealthy) 

- Positive call home

- Extra Credit

-Homework pass

All grade levels tend to love... class parties, movie days, or certificates. To help with budgeting I like Starbursts, Jolly Ranchers, or Airheads as candy treats. If you don't know what your students like...ask!

Data Driven Instruction

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 No comments

 The importance of data driven instruction has been a major topic among administrators, teachers, and professors; however, it can be difficult to administer in practice. Data based instruction is valuable for all students regardless of what level, as each student comes in with different strengths and weaknesses. So what is it and how can we accomplish it?

Getting the Data

Testing is one thing students and teachers hate, but is an excellent way to gather data on what skills students have mastered and which ones they struggle with. Even gifted students, find some tasks difficult. If possible access prior test scores; however, should a student not have a prior test score administer a diagnostic exam that covers a variety of standards. This should help in gathering the data needed about the students to see where their skills are.

Communicating with Students and Parents / Setting Realistic Goals

Data should not only stay with the teacher as students have a right to know how well they did on the diagnostic. Typically, I like to give the class an independent assignment while I call up students one by one to go over the data with them. Don't post individual test scores as for some students it can be embarassing or lead to problems with their classmates. Information regarding individual scores are not public information for the whole world to see. You may discuss individual information with the student or parent or guardian. You may also show average for the entire class score , so long as you are not pointing out an individual student. 

You may point out what the grade level concordant is , but when setting goals make them realistic for that student. Each child is different and even if a child doesn't reach the grade level concordant it's best to celebrate any improvement that child makes throughout the year. You never know, the child may surprise you. In addition, you want to be careful when a child is above level as regression can happen. If a child is above level give them challenging work to meet them at that level. This is where differenciated instruction kicks in to try to meet the needs of all the students. 

Lesson Planning

Lesson plans should be created based on the test scores and primarily to address student weaknesses. When lesson planning you may use centers, games, and assessments to foster a productive learning environment for students. The lessons need to be engaging and interactive, so that students don't get too reluctant or bored. Think about it this way... When you are building a house it's important to have a solid foundation before building any walls. Learning new skills is the same way. When a student is weak in a standard they often have a weak foundation, so fix the foundation first and gradually move on to building the rest of the house. Assessment should be varied and constant so that the teacher can self-evaluate their own lesson and see what needs to be retaught and reinforced. 

Repeat and Reward 

These steps will need to be repeated at least twice during the school year. Even if it's tiring, it can be rewarding to watch students improve throughout the school year. I like to celebrate improvement and often keep Starbursts around for such an occasion. Even big kids like candy, so it can be helpful to buy some in bulk. I recommend Starbursts, Air Heads, and Jolly Ranchers because it's easy to buy them in bulk. Be careful with chocolate as it may melt. I would also reccommend learning if any of your students have allergies or religious perferences (like if they only eat Kosher foods). Not sure what type of treat they would like? Ask them. They will gladly tell you. 

Need More Help? Get Our Free Editable Data Tracking Sheet in Google Drive. 

Parent Communication Made Easy

Tuesday, August 2, 2022 No comments

Communication is the key to help our students achieve success. In an ideal world both parents and teachers would work together to help students reach their dreams. Many times, I've heard of parents wanting to help their children, but not knowing what is going on inside of class or what they can do about it. Here are some simple ways that we as teachers can help. 


Old fashioned newsletters can easily be emailed to parents and help keep them in the loop as to what is going on inside of class without having to reach out and ask a ton of questions. Better yet, the students can't come up with the "I lost it" excuse to their parents. I reccommend sending it as a BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) as you don't want people's emails to be exposed to everyone else. If you are unsure how to get started why not try our free Canva Template .


Truth be told, students and parents are on their cellphones alot. Even if you have it under control in your classroom, you know once they leave they will be on their phones. Why not take advantage of it? With the remind app both students and parents and text you and you can text them back without having to reveal your personal phone number to them. You can even set 'office' hours so that students are not texting you at all times in the middle of the night. Remind is free to use. Go  to to learn more. 


I was introduced to ClassTag last year through my youngest child's teacher. It offers a common place for classroom communication and an easy way for parents to reach out to students. If you have a Google Classroom, ClassTag easily intergrates with Google Calendar and Google Meet. You can send photos, reminders, and parents can comment. I also like that it doesn't have the cutesy avatars or a limit on how long messages can be like Class Dojo doesI can see how it works well in elementary school but in middle and high school you would probably have to set up multiple accounts for the different periods. Go to Classtag to learn more. 

Back To School Sale

Sunday, July 31, 2022 No comments

 Back to School TpT Sale is August 2nd-3rd. Sign up for a chance to win a $10 TpT gift card August 1st. You would also have a chance to win a $25 TpT gift card in our monthly drawing August 23rd. Just go here:

Grammar Matters!

Monday, July 25, 2022 No comments

 Engaging Grammar Activities.

Grammar can be tough to teach and tedious even with older students. I'm always looking for different ways to teach grammar that will engage students and differentiate instruction. These activities work in both middle and high school, and are really easy to use.

Sentence Strips. 

Sentence strips are common in elementary school (as shown above), but they can have a variety of uses. You can give your students sentence strips and ask them to make one simple sentence, one compound sentence, one complex sentence, and one compound complex sentence. I like to laminate mine and stick magnets on the back (stick on magnets are easy to find- just search amazon)... I start by making a simple sentence and then I can ask students to demonstrate how to turn a simple sentence into a compound sentence, how to turn a simple sentence into a complex sentence, and how to turn a compound sentence into a compound-complex sentence. You can have fun with the words and even ask students to help: words such as aliens, ninjas, pirates, and vomit are some I've seen suggested before. 

An example of how these sentence types can build on each other could be...
Simple Sentence: The ninjas waited outside of the door.
Compound Sentence: The ninjas waited outside of the door, and the aliens hovered above. 
Complex Sentence: The ninjas waited outside of the door while the aliens hovered above. 
Compound-Complex Sentence: While the pirates slept inside their house, the ninjas waited outside of door, and the aliens hovered above. 
Of course sentence strips don't have to be used with sentence structure, they can be used to help students learn how to make corrections or even how two very similar sentences that are grammatically correct can have totally different meanings. 

For example you could ask students what the difference is between these two sentences. 
#1: The ninjas waited outside of the door while the aliens hovered above. 
#2: The ninjas waited outside of the door because the aliens hovered above. 

One word change between the two sentences changes the entire meaning. The first one is stating that the ninjas waiting and the aliens hovering just happen to happening at the same time. However, the second sentence is stating that the aliens hovering is the reason the ninjas are waiting outside. 

Grammar Bytes

If you haven't tried Grammar Bytes then you are missing out on an awesome and free online resource. Grammar Bytes offers many exercises and handouts for variety of grammar topics. Everything from Subject-Verb Agreement to Commas to Parallel Structure, and more. If your students do the interactive exercises, Grammar Bytes will even tell them when they get an answer wrong. This is great for a paperless classroom.

Khan Academy- Grammar Course

Many high school teachers use the SAT portion of Khan Academy to help students prepare for the big test, but did you know they have a separate grammar course as well. Just go to courses and under Reading and Language Arts there is a Grammar course. The course starts with Parts of Speech, but also covers Modifiers and Syntax. There are videos, practices, and mini quizzes to help students master these skills. Khan Academy is free to use and can also create a teacher account. 

Need More Grammar Activities?
Check out some of our products

Digital Task Cards are a great way to help your students with Subject-Verb Agreement for the SAT Writing and Language Section! These cards can work on a computer or mobile device! No printing of cutting just assign the deck to your students and you are ready to go! Boom Learning is free to sign up for. Students get immediate feedback and teachers can take advantage of reporting tools. Easy and effective! Great for distance learning or in a digital classroom. A total of 20 task cards.

***You can use Boom Cards in Google Classroom™! Just CLICK HERE to find out how!****

Looking for a fun way to engage your students? Look no further. Our Parts of Speech Escape Room has students going through all 8 parts of speech recognizing definitions, examples, and usage. This is a group activity which provides an excellent review for an exam or simply as a review.

A power point explaining what Pronoun Clarity refers to and how to make appropriate corrections.

Saturday, July 23, 2022 No comments

Subscribe for a chance to win a $25 TPT Giftcard in our Monthly Drawings.

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Thursday, July 21, 2022 No comments

 Teacher Savings!

Okay, let's face it, it's easy for a teacher to go broke with Back to School supplies when you are a teacher and buying for all of your students. Thank god some retailers know that! These deals are exclusively for teachers (some of them will apply to homeschoolers as well). 


 Target Teacher Discount

Get an EXTRA 15% off on school supplies till September 10th. You do have to be part of Target Circle (which is not a credit card and completely free to join) and you must verify that you are a teacher.

Go to Account - Settings- Teacher Verification. 

I was recently at Target and found 12 packs of Crayola Markers for .99, 12 packs of Crayola Color Pencils for .99 cents. and composition books for .50 cents. Add in that discount and I'm a happy camper. 

Barnes and Noble 

Barnes and Noble Educator Discount

The Barnes & Noble Educator Program offers Pre-K through Grade 12 educators, librarians, and homeschoolers a 20% discount off the publisher's list price on select items that we consider suitable for use in the classroom or with the student population, including most hardcover and paperback books, toys, and games.

This is a bit more tedious to get as you have to go into a physical Barnes and Noble store and show your id and proof of employment. However, considering it lasts for 24 months it's well worth looking into.

Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Pay Teachers

If you haven't signed up to receive TpT emails I recommend doing so. Teachers Pay Teachers often has a Back-to- School site-wide sale sometime between August and September. If you signed up for our newsletter you will receive emails about upcoming sales as well. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 No comments

 Four of the Best Back To School Activities 

1. Four Corners

Do you remember the game four corners? Many teachers would use it as a review for a test, but you can give your students multiple choice questions about themselves and assign different answers for each corner. 

Such as:

- What is your favorite color?

- Where would you want to go on vacation?

-What's your favorite sport?

-What's favorite subject?

-What's your favorite candy?

-What's you favorite video game system?

-What's you favorite genre of books?

- What (genre) or type of movies do you like? 

2. The Name Game

Let's face it, at the beginning of the year you are still learning names and so are your students. This works great if you have a seating a chart and want to make sure all your students know each other. You start out by asking a student to say their name and what their favorite color is (you could also use book, movie, game, food etc...). The student would then say their name and what their favorite color is and it moves on to the next student behind them who must repeat what the first student said and then add in themselves. For example..

Teacher: "My name is Ms. A and my favorite color is purple. '

Student #1: "Your name is Ms.A and your favorite color is purple. My name is Michael and favorite color is blue."

Student #3: "Your name is Ms A and your favorite color is purple, his name is Michael and his favorite color is blue, and my name is Natalie and my favorite color is gold."

3. Scavenger Hunt

Want your students to get familiar with things in your room and on your walls? Why not split them up into groups and have them do a scavenger hunt? This of course depends on what you have posted on your walls. Here are some examples from my room: 

1. What are the rules of this classroom and where are they posted?

2. On the Word Wall find three words that start with the letter 'A' and write them down as well as their definitions. 

3. Where are all paper assignments supposed to be turned in? 

4. What is the name and phone number of your counselor? (these are on a poster in my room)

5. If you are absent where can you go to find out about missing assignments inside of this room without having to speak to the teacher? (I keep a record log and a calendar poster with assignments on it)

6. In the syllabus, what is the policy on late assignments? 

You can also have them do a reflection at the end where they get ask any questions about the course they still have. 

4. One thing I wish my teacher knew...

I love this activity! It's a great way to get to understand some the struggles students face as long as you don't make the answers public to the class. Give each student a small slip of paper and have them write down their name and to finish the statement 'One thing I wish my teacher knew...' Have a dropbox for this (you can just use an older shoebox) and have students fold the paper and drop it in. Later on read the responses and get an idea of how you may be able to better help your students through this school year. This is great as an opener or a closer of the day. 

Still need more for back to school? Check out our store...

Beginning of the Year Escape Room

Thursday, July 14, 2022 No comments

5 of the Best Back to School Stuff for Teachers on Amazon! 

1. Calculator Holder (Cell Phone Holder)

Lets face it, we all know cellphones can be a major distraction in any class. Instead of constantly collecting cell phones or hearing griping about how one student got caught and another didn't it's easier to collect them in the beginning. A Cell Hotel helps ease some of the tension as you can display it behind your desk or in front of the room. You assign each student a number and their cell phone goes into the pouch that corresponds with the number. You can do this by a list or by giving the students a ticket. Last 5-10 minutes you have the students get their phones back. You can even place power strips nearby so that students can charge their phones. Click here to get it

 2. Erasable Calendar

I love this! It's a calendar that works like a dry erase board. It makes it easy to post due dates and helps students stay on track. You can also briefly give students a preview of what's coming up. Also you can post holidays, teacher's workdays, upcoming events, etc. This is a great resource for keeping both teachers and students on track.Click here to get it

 3. Glue gun and glue sticks

I have issues keeping stuff hung on my walls. Staples, tape, and mounting strips have never really worked for me. What did work was when a coworker showed me how well a glue gun works. I've never had problems with it damaging my walls.Click here to get it

4. Paper organizer (drop box)

I hate clutter on my desk. It happens but anything I can do to prevent it is good. While I assign a lot of digital assignments I still keep a drop box at the front of my room. The box is arranged by period and checked daily. This way I don't have students constantly dropping papers on my desk. Click here to get them

5. Bulk Highlighters (different colors)

I love highlighters, annotation, and color coding. One of the keys to doing this correcting is having a variety of highlighters. While I do expect students to have their own highlighters it often doesn't happen, so I get them. Buying in bulk makes sense to me because I use them often. Click here to see them
Tuesday, July 12, 2022 No comments

Fun with Escape Rooms

   Looking for a fun activity as a review in an English class?

   After reading a book, a play, or simply covering an important assignment it is necessary to review materials with students. Unfortunately many reviews can be long, boring, and lack student engagement. When I learn about escape rooms in which people need to solve different interlinking puzzles to 'escape' I hit review goldmine. Students were both engaged and learning as they worked in groups to solve the puzzles. This is a basic overview of how I set up my Shakespeare escape rooms. There are four tasks: plot, characters, close reading, and encrypted message.

    Task #1 Plot

For the first task students are given twelve plot cards with numbers on them. Only seven of the cards contain parts of the plot of the play. The other five are trick cards which have scenes written on them which never actually happened in the play. Students need to find which seven cards have scenes that actually occurred on the play in them and cast aside the other five. Then they need to place the cards in the correct order as to how they appeared in the play. The numbers go on the answer sheet, if you have a lock you may set up the numbers to be the combination to a locked box which contains the next task. This is optional.

Task #2 Characters

For the second task students are given ten character cards. Each card has a quote, or something that describes a character in the play. Students need to know the names of all ten characters and fill them into the corresponding boxes on the answer sheet. The shaded parts on the answer sheet will reveal a code word once all ten characters are named.

Task #3 Close Reading

For the third task students are given an excerpt from the play and asked eight multiple choice questions about the passage. Answering all eight questions correct will reveal a code word for the fourth and final task.

Task #4 Encrypted Message

For the fourth task students are given an encrypted message and need to use their resources from the other three tasks to solve the encrypted message. On the plot cards show symbols and what they mean. The character cards have two of them which if the students lined them up correctly show what the character's name is if it was encrypted. Task 2 and Task 3 also contained two code words in order to help students to solve.

How to use it?

A great review for a test to access knowledge. A good way to get students to work together and be engaged in an activity. Easy to check for comprehension.

Want to do an escape room in your English class but don't know how to get started?
Check out our pre-made escape rooms: Esacpe Rooms by Educate and Create
If you have any suggestions of escape rooms or other products you would like to see us offer please email me.

Fun with Shakespeare

Thursday, July 7, 2022 No comments
Many children struggle with Shakespeare mostly because of the language and some of them go in uncertain how the bard can possible impact their modern lives. In this matter I believe it is the job of every English teacher to attempt to make Shakespeare fun. Some of the best ways to introduce children to any Shakespeare play or sonnet is through music. Anyone who hasn't heard Sonnet Man needs to check out some of his videos:

Sonnet 130

When I taught middle school I would often use his performances to cover iambic pentameter. The kids loved it. Later on when reading a play, when then came along a soliloquy I would always have at least one student who would literally try to rap Shakespeare. The entire class would get into it and even I couldn't stop myself from laughing.

To Be or Not to Be

I found this video spoke a lot to many of my high school students. It took concepts from Hamlet, including his most famous speech, and relayed them to a beat and modern day settings. Showing how timeless some of the themes with the play Hamlet are including troubled families, lack of a father figure, and teenage suicide.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022 No comments

BOOM! Cards

If you haven't tried BOOM! Learning right now is a great time. Boom Cards are easy to use, self-grading, and fun. These interactive digital task cards make distance learning easy for both the instructor and the student. Right now Boom is their Ultimate Membership for free for the first two months. Afterwards it's only $35 a year (this is if you want the student reports) in which you get reports for up to 200 students! 

Pros and Cons


-Students get immediate feedback
-Paperless and completely online
-Works well in digital classroom
- Ultimate Membership is free for 2 months
- Can integrate with Google Classroom
-Can integrate with Microsoft Powerpoint


- Most sellers are elementary school sellers

- If you are a middle or high school teacher you may need to make your
 own (or we have some that may interest you)

- Cannot integrate into Canvas


Sign up for Boom Learning at
Need help getting started? Check out this tutorial: