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Integrating Technology Into The English Language Arts Classroom

Technology can be integrated into any subject area. Check out how other teachers are using technology in their English Language Arts classrooms from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Technology can be integrated into any subject area. I love using technology in my ELA classroom to share assignments, reduce photocopying and to help students show off their creativity when completing assignments. 

Check out how other teachers are using technology in their English Language Arts classrooms by reading the questions and answers below from our #2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Tech in the ELA Classroom. 


Q1: How has technology changed what and how you teach
  • Tech has allowed to me create more engaging lessons and differentiate my content more effectively. 
  • Not sure about the what, but my lessons are def more streamlined and engaging. Forces me to think in diff contexts.
  • I feel I can be more innovative with LP, and Ss have a larger range of how they choose to learn. 
  • Tech changed how I teach > what I teach, like using G.Classroom, Edmodo, Quizlet, Docs, etc. 
  • Makes learning more fun and gives easier access to resources. Also improves collaboration. This year I'll be 1:1
  • Tech definitely makes interventions and differentiation easier, providing Ss reading passages at their level is invaluable 
  • Technology has created a way for me to give instant feedback to students! It's also helped creation be normal in my class! 
  • Being a 1:1 iPad school completely transformed my teaching & I could never go back! Ss still need me, but tech is an amazing tool.
  • Tech has changed the way we discuss in the classroom - I love having digital discussions using Padlet and GoSoapBox.

Q2: What’s your most creative use of technology in your classroom?
  • I use tech to organize my lessons like a digital textbook see example https://t.co/KCf4sWU2Ka
  • Putting students in the teacher role more often, especially when they make their Grammar Videos (Screencast-O-Matic & Google Slides)
  • Theme project with To Kill a Mockingbird. Uses Google Sites & other Google apps for ed. challenging & meaningful.
  • I've used Twitter chats with my AP students. We discussed a poem with other Ss around the US - makes the world smaller! 
  • Ss presented new vocabulary info in a format of their choosing. Some used Slides, Powtoon, Snapchat, etc. It was interesting. 
  • I use digital interactive notebooks for our lit units.
  • The use of Numbers (spreadsheet app). I'm able to provide every Ss a personalized learning plan for each unit.
  • I edited live with my students when I was in the hospital We were on Google docs.
  • A2 & 3 Breakouts are my favorite and most creative. My planning process: https://t.co/btJccZOeDV
  • A2 & 3 And resources if you want to create your own digital breakout https://t.co/szGanoRSA5

Q3: What are your favourite assignments to give your students that incorporate technology?
  • My students enjoyed using Google Slides to create a digital graffiti wall about the novel we were studying 
  • Book Snaps for annotation, collaborative Docs and Slides 
  • They also enjoy using technology like QR codes. I am still learning a lot about technology in the classroom. 
  • I have my Ss create Kahoots and other digital activities to help class review for vocabulary quizzes
  • Interactive presentations. Ss had to create an infographic using Piktochart and get the audience involved using tech.
  • I love assignments that encourage creativity and collaboration. Visual representations of thought. Makes Ss really think.
  • I had Ss research a Holocaust topic & create a presentation, which subbed an essay. Ss learned more w/o pressure of an essay. 

Q4: What do you do when technology isn't working properly or the internet is down?
  • Always have a low tech backup! 
  • If I can't work around the problem, it's bonus reading time. Always a go-to backup plan. 
  • Read! Or have class discussions or do a mini-lesson. There's always a backup plan.
  • Independent reading time! 
  • Class discussions, reading, stations
  • Lessons should always focus on standards. If tech isn't working I try to flip the lesson. I think quick and remain calm.
  • I go back to the "old school" techniques. When the technology goes down, our discussion increases significantly! 
  • Always ALWAYS have a backup plan. Wifi goes down regularly.
  • I always try to be prepared with copies of texts and handouts. We have a lot of glitches with tech at our school.
  • Depends. Usually I try to have something that gets them interacting with each other (giant stickies on the wall for respond)
  • Remain calm!! Especially when starting integrating technology! Remember that ELA is the focus and tech is a tool! 

Q5: Share your favorite free online technology resources.
  • All the free resources @AppleEDU publishes
  • Google!! Padlet. Kahoot.
  • Lots of information in these blog posts https://t.co/5MkP7v1I0v
  • I loved using @ReadTheory this past year for reading interventions, exposure to test questions, and practice writing
  • I constantly follow a variety of hashtags on Twitter or FB groups for ELA and EdTech. 
  • Socrative, TED talks, NY Times Room for Debate 
  • I also love @Newsela! The free version is great and the pro version is better. Tool for article of the week!
  • Quizizz, Autocrat extension, everything Google
  • Padlet, GoSoapBox, Piktochart, Vocaroo, CommonLit, Newsela, ReadWorks, Dogo News, TED talks 



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Technology can be integrated into any subject area. Check out how other teachers are using technology in their English Language Arts classrooms from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Tuesday 8/15 Topic: Integrating Technology into the ELA Classroom

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about integrating technology into the ELA classroom.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week and we hope that you will join us again.

We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group, even if you aren't on Twitter. 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.


On Tuesday, August 15, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about integrating technology in the English Language Arts classroom.

The Format:
8:00 – What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: How has technology changed what and how you teach? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What’s your most creative use of technology in your classroom? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What are your favorite assignments to give your students that incorporate technology? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: What do you do when technology isn't working properly or the internet is down? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: Share your favorite free online resources. #2ndaryELA

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday from 8-8:30 PM EST.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #2ndaryELA in the search bar. Make sure to click “Latest.”
3. Introductions are for the first 5 minutes.
4. Starting at 8:05 (@literarymaven or @2peasandadog) will post questions every 5 minutes using the format Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. and the hashtag #2ndaryELA.
5. Respond to questions using the format A1, A2, A3, etc. with #2ndaryELA.
6. Follow any teachers responding and who are also using #2ndaryELA.
7. Like and respond to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your responses to the questions ahead of time using a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite (but don't forget to use A1, A2, etc. and #2ndaryELA). Links are encouraged, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurlbitlygoo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. Using images is also encouraged when relevant.

New to chats? Here are the rules:
1. Stay on topic & stay positive!
2. Please do not post or promote paid products unless specifically asked.
3. If you arrive late, try to look through other posts before beginning.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet.
5. Always use our hashtag #2ndaryELA, including in your replies to others.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to public. (Also keep in mind that Twitter is completely public – that means students, parents, and administrators can and will read what you tweet.)

You can also check out a quick video tutorial in this blog post.

Be sure to spread the word to any teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well. We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:








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10 Ways To Make History Class Engaging For Students

History class is much more than reading out of a textbook. Use these 10 tips to make your lessons engaging and relevant to your students from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

History class is much more than reading out of a textbook. Use these 10 tips to make your lessons engaging and relevant to your students. 

Tip #1 Use QR Codes
This quick technology can be accessed with personal or school portable technology (phones, iPads, tablets). The QR code embeds information (text, URL, etc) into the code image. Students scan the code with a QR Code reader app and they unlock the information. I use this in my classroom for introducing vocabulary words in a new unit or for students to access information in a different format. I try to make QR Code activities into scavenger hunts where they must locate the code before accessing information.

Tip #2 Incorporate Movement into Lessons
I love using the cooperative learning strategy called Four Corners. Around the classroom in each corner hang up four different answer cards such as Agree, Disagree, Undecided, and Need More Info (cards can be changed to align better with your lesson). Then ask the class a rich thinking question. Students move to the answer card area that best aligns with their opinion. In this new opinion group, students discuss their ideas. Ensure that they know they will be held accountable for these discussions either through written or oral means. When first introducing this strategy it is a great idea to have a Need More Information section where the teacher can stand and provide support.

Tip #3 Add Drama
Activities such as Historical Monologues, Wax Museum and Hot Seat make historical figures come to life in your classroom. Each year students in my Grade 8 history classes become the Canadian Fathers of Confederation. They research their Confederation father, write up a 1-minute monologue introducing the person to the class and create a costume (usually out of their parents dress clothes). This cross-curricular History, Drama and English assignment helps my students engage with the content beyond the textbook. I have also created monologue assignments for Canadian Prime Ministers and American Presidents.

   


Tip #4 Use Collaborative Discussion Strategies
Students are not always comfortable discussing in History classes due to their lack of subject area background knowledge. When we have class discussions I try to build up their knowledge and confidence by using strategies such as Think Pair Share or Four Corners Placemats.

Tip #5 Bring In Primary Sources
Where possible bring in primary sources. Photos from the time period and archival documents can make history seem more authentic to students. Lots of internet sites (government archives) have access to these excellent pieces of history. A quick Google search will contain lots of ideas. Your local library, historical societies and museums are also great places to look. Also, the New York Public Library has recently digitized a lot of pieces that could work in your classroom.

Tip #6 Picture Books
Do not discount the value of picture books in the middle or high school history classroom. Two of my favourite picture books for my Canadian history classes are The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Canadian Railroad Trilogy. The vivid images and story lines bring history alive. Picture books can also be used to provide background knowledge prior to starting a unit. In English classes, I often use the book Teammates by Peter Golenbock as a mentor text, which discusses Jackie Robinson’s treatment as the first African American Major League Baseball player.

Tip #7 Browsing Bins
To help ignite and maintain a spark for historical knowledge, create a browsing bins of books related to curriculum topics. Ask your school librarian or media specialist if you can borrow books from the school library that relate to your current unit of study. Keep these books in a special bin and in a highly visible area to encourage students to look through the materials and possibly check them out at the library. If your school does not have a library, visit your local library or contact any local historical associations to see what materials they can lend your classroom.

Tip #8 Historical Fiction
History classrooms are also literacy classrooms. Students engage each day with written text and make connections and inferences about the people they are studying. Keeping a good variety of historical fiction related to your topics of study can help students extend their classroom learning. Favourite books among my students are anything related to major wars or conflicts. The Dear Canada and Dear America series from Scholastic are great places to start for historical fiction.

Tip #9 Assignment Choice
It is also important that your assignments have different choice options. Students feel more empowered about their learning if given the chance to produce works of their choosing. Providing choice about content and product are a great place to start. My first major assignment in my Grade 8 History class is having students creating a persuasive piece to encourage the British Colonies to join Confederation. Depending on the school year, students have been offered choice in the final product: pamphlet, website, slideshow etc. They can also produce the product in either official language English or French. During historical inquiry assignments, students are given choice over what topics (from a list related to the curriculum expectations) that they want to learn about. I match them with other students in the class who want to learn about the same topic. For my inquiry assignment on Canada at the turn of the century, students can choose from a long list of topics ranging from technology and transportation to arts and culture.

Tip #10 Artifacts
Last year, for one lesson I setup my classroom as an interactive museum. The unit was called Canada: A Changing Society 1890-1914. I tried to find artifacts around my house and relatives houses that could potentially represent items from this time period. I also printed off colour photos of daily living artifacts. Students had to circulate around the classroom in pairs and guess what the object was and its modern day equivalent. The item that had most of the class confused was the manual meat grinder. They definitely had a better understanding of the challenges of daily living from touching and seeing the different tools than if we had read about it online or in a textbook. Another year, while studying the settlement of Western Canada, I contacted a local museum and borrowed an educational kit which had replica items from the mid-1800’s. Students loved seeing the toys and school materials from this time period.




Bonus Tips

Tip #11 Virtual Field Trips
The internet has changed the way I teach history. No longer are students only able to access information from library books, they can actually digitally visit the locations we are studying. This past year we used Google Maps to locate major battle sites and visit museum websites. Use Google to help locate interesting virtual field trips for your class this year.

Tip #12 Embrace Virtual Reality
Depending on your school budget Google Cardboard could be a very good investment. This small device allows students to download an app and view places in a virtual reality environment.

Tip #13 Use Engaging Curriculum Materials
At the end of the day, you still need to cover the contents of your curriculum. By integrating some of these tips into your daily lessons you will make history class more engaging for your students. If you teach Canadian history check out these two units by 2 Peas and a Dog which will help you keep your students engaged.

  

As a history teacher, it is important to contact local historical sites, museums, organizations and libraries to see how they can help enrich your program.


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History class is much more than reading out of a textbook. Use these 10 tips to make your lessons engaging and relevant to your students from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Tuesday 8/8 Topic: Curriculum & Unit Planning

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about curriculum, unit and lesson planning.
Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven & Kristy, 2 Peas and a Dog host #2ndaryELA on Twitter every Tuesday evening from 8 - 8:30 PM EST. #2ndaryELA is a weekly chat for secondary English Language Arts teachers focused on a topic. Every Sunday, we post the topic and questions on our blogs to allow you to prepare for the upcoming Tuesday evening's chat. Thank you to everyone who joined us last week and we hope that you will join us again.

We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group, even if you aren't on Twitter. 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction.


On Tuesday, August 8, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about curriculum, unit, and lesson planning.

The Format:
8:00 – What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: When you plan, do you start with the standards? The text? The desired outcome? Why? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What’s your approach to planning when there are texts you are required to teach? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: What does the structure of a single lesson plan look like for you? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: How do you assess throughout a unit to ensure that your lessons are helping students reach the end goal? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: What advice would you give to teachers struggling to plan a unit or an entire curriculum? #2ndaryELA

The Directions:
1. Log into Twitter on Tuesday from 8-8:30 PM EST.
2. Search for tweets with the hashtag #2ndaryELA in the search bar. Make sure to click “Latest.”
3. Introductions are for the first 5 minutes.
4. Starting at 8:05 (@literarymaven or @2peasandadog) will post questions every 5 minutes using the format Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. and the hashtag #2ndaryELA.
5. Respond to questions using the format A1, A2, A3, etc. with #2ndaryELA.
6. Follow any teachers responding and who are also using #2ndaryELA.
7. Like and respond to other teachers' tweets.

You can schedule your responses to the questions ahead of time using a scheduler like TweetDeck or HootSuite (but don't forget to use A1, A2, etc. and #2ndaryELA). Links are encouraged, so be sure to use a link shortener like tinyurlbitlygoo.gl or ow.ly Just visit one of those links and paste your long link to shorten it for Twitter. Using images is also encouraged when relevant.

New to chats? Here are the rules:
1. Stay on topic & stay positive!
2. Please do not post or promote paid products unless specifically asked.
3. If you arrive late, try to look through other posts before beginning.
4. Feel free to just read, like, and/or retweet.
5. Always use our hashtag #2ndaryELA, including in your replies to others.
6. Make sure your twitter feed is set to public. (Also keep in mind that Twitter is completely public – that means students, parents, and administrators can and will read what you tweet.)

You can also check out a quick video tutorial in this blog post.

Be sure to spread the word to any teacher friends who might be interested in joining us as well. We look forward to chatting with you Tuesday evening and in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group!

Get caught up on past chats here:








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English Language Arts Classroom Set Up Ideas

Middle and high school classroom organization and set up ideas. Read about seating arrangements, decor themes, and classroom storage options in the English Language Arts Classroom from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Every back to school season teachers think about the best way to set up their classrooms. Rows? Groups? Flexible seating? They also wonder where should they keep student supplies and textbooks. I love the ideas shared this week by teachers and can't wait to use some of them in my classroom. 

Check out the curated Twitter chat below to gain some ideas for your own classroom set up. Don't forget to scroll through the photos at the end of the blog post. 

Q1: How do arrange the seating in your classroom? Is it flexible or permanent?
  • I like to arrange students in groups facing board. I also share a classroom, so I have to be flexible of other Ts preferences.
  • I provide options & they have a home in a "traditional seat"
  • My seating plan is desks in paired rows or groups, but we move them almost daily depending on the activity.
  • Seating is flexible, but I'm looking to add more options. We have tables, standing desks, balance balls, and floor pillows.
  • My seating was permanent. I liked having the control to be strategic with Ss grouping. Flexible sounds intriguing though!
  • I always start with rows facing the Smartboard and change to pods when needed.
  • When working independently, many students elect to sit in groups on the floor as opposed to their desks.
  • We do permanent seating in tables, but I assign new seats quarterly and/or by the project. I prefer rows but the room is small!
  • This is going to be my 1st year with flexible seating.
  • This year we are in a new PK-12 building with new diamond shaped desks w/ tiered heights so it will be new for me.
  • I have tables facing the Promethean & a few flex seating options for independent reading/writing time - hope to add more soon.
  • I have some flexible seating options, like high top tables, comfy chairs, & two couches, but everything faces the front.
  • I have groups at tables. I have rugs, camping chairs, and pillows for flexible seating.
  • Seating is arranged in groups.
  • It depends on the day or activity. Sometimes they're in rows, groups, or pairs, & sometimes they get to sit wherever!
  • I'm still trying to figure it out. I did the Socratic circle last year, but it had its drawbacks. Still deciding for next yr.
  • I like the idea of flexible seating, but with a brand new building and brand new desks/chairs, I don't see that as an option.
  • My desks are set up in a U facing the board, which is good for a stage for my Speech classes. I'm looking for something new.
  • I have mostly desks arranged in groups of 3. I also have some in rows too for students that prefer that.
  • I have whiteboard tables in groups of 6, stools, & an open movement policy. Just no teacher chair!
  • I have my students sit in groups of 2 or 3 so that they can practice using their English. I move them every few weeks.
  • My seating chart is flexible! My Ss get agitated because it could change five times in one week depending on what happening!
  • Trying something new; two large tables - assigned table, not set.

Q2: Does your classroom decor have a theme or is it all about functionality?

  • I have a colour scheme. Ledges & shelves are coral; so try to complement with that. This year, I'm using black and lime green.
  • I loved having a theme! Monsters when I taught MS. I would switch it every year because I had to switch classrooms every year
  • Wish I had a theme. The classroom is a mashup of random things I hang on every flat surface & none of the furniture really matches.
  • I have a new bright blue accent wall; was thinking of a "beach" theme, but haven't committed to it -- I always incorp. owls!
  • I have more of a colour scheme!
  • I have a colour scheme this year, blue and white, but I'm not crafty enough for a whole theme!
  • I have a colour (teal). No theme but I try to make it homey.
  • No theme- I just like to make it feel homey with a lot of colour, book covers, and interactive BBs
  • Front board displays h/w and objectives. Plan to re-purpose cork placemats & picture frames for portability of displays.
  • Just a colour theme - we have a turquoise blue accent wall, so the rest of the room is mostly turquoise, black, and white!
  • I have a travelogue my theme/reading is an adventure.
  • Function & reflection of personality! Best compliment from SS "it feels like home!"
  • I have a theme...school colours- green and white then I added a lot of black (one of my favourite colours)
  • My classroom doesn't have a theme, but my decor is in the navy/light green/aqua colour scheme.
  • I'm going with a Starbucks-ish theme with black, white and green. The major bulletin board will have Prepare to Read a Latte!
Q3: Explain how you keep classroom supplies and materials organized.
  • Love using pencil pouches to store tape, scissors, glue, highlighters, etc. for each student. Clear lets me see inside, too. 
  • Labels!! And constantly getting rid of things I don't use
  • The classroom is almost completely digital, which helps reduce clutter & increase efficiency...still some hardcover books though!
  • I like plastic storage w/ lids from the $ store. I usually make my own labels (crayon, etc) and stack them in the cabinets
  • Everything is labelled and has a specific location.
  • ALL about labelled turn-in trays, milk crates, drawers, & cabinets. Couldn't live w/o chalkboard stickers and a metallic sharpie!
  • We are digital - all students have Chromebooks so that def helps reduce paper scraps! I have supplies on my desk SS can use
  • Shelf with supplies. Each material in its own container
  • My crayons, markers, colour pencils, glue sticks, & scissors are in plastic bins. Paper is placed on top of a cabinet.
  • Use one of the hardware drawers for storage of small items - also drawer carts, bookshelves, & plastic bins from Dollar Tree
  • Still have textbooks that we reference but those are in a bookcase. I have bookcases with novels and a wire stand w/ books  
  • I have plastic bins with lids -- one bin of supplies for each pod (4 students). Bins are stored in a cabinet.
  • Each group has an organizer that contains all supplies.
  • Crates for journals. student centre w absent work, sign out sheet, extra materials. I plan 2 use QR codes for easy doc this yr
  • I'm working on organization this year... Like every year lol! I have coloured crates for my stuff and a Ss station!
  • Each class/period has a basket where they turn in work. Pencils are placed in a small bucket by the pencil sharpener
  • Each pod has a plastic 3 drawer supply cart. Other supplies are easily accessible throughout the room. Dictionaries at each desk.


Q4: What are your favourite ways to display student work and evidence of learning?

  • Bulletin board for work samples. I also liked displaying student data with graphs so Ss can track their growth
  • With 11 iPads I don't display as much Ss work, but I have made bulletin boards for Ss work in the past
  • A small way is hanging students' pictures when they get perfect scores on vocab assessments for a little healthy competition
  • I'm going to make a fridge display on my door out of white paper and magnets to hang their work.
  • I have a large bulletin board in my room called the fridge
  • We are the Yellow Jackets so I have a Jacket Pride wall in my classroom. I pin the incredible work my students do on there!
  • I have cardstock hot glued to my cabinets. I use paper clips to hang work to the card stock. It is simple, but looks great.
  • Student work has 2 go in hallway or on my door, or else not enough students will see it. Needs to go in high-traffic zones!
  • Set up strong and clothes pin for easy hang up. Want to use class blog and digital portfolios this year.
  • I have a Ss work wall, and I'm going to use my closet door as well! We do so much stuff on computers that I forget to print.
  • I'm in a trailer, so I just tack it up on the walls. We ♥️ to see our evidence!
  • Displaying student work on a bulletin board. Students will also create and maintain blogs.
  • I'm creating a Reading Wall of Fame and students will add their name for every 📚 they finish
  • My students love our Poetry Wall in the hallway. Poems are a fun assessment tool! These assessed research skills.
  • I am wanting to try @aurasma this year as a way to display work
  • Ss work on walls; digital portfolio; QR codes to class blog or Ss pages
  • I am the queen of displaying work in the halls and from the ceiling! It oftentimes looks like an art gallery.
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Middle and high school classroom organization and set up ideas. Read about seating arrangements, decor themes, and classroom storage options in the English Language Arts Classroom from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.
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