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#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Tuesday 10/24 Topic: Learning Stations & Centers

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about learning stations and centers.
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, October 24, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about learning stations and centers.

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 do you use learning stations or centers in connection with reading? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: How do you use learning stations or centers in connection with writing? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: Are the activities in your learning stations or centers usually independent or collaborative? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: Is there always a tangible product in your learning stations or centers? How do you hold students accountable for their work? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: How do you manage student behavior during learning stations or centers? #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 Halloween Costume Ideas For English Teachers

Finding a creative, yet school-suitable Halloween costume can be challenging. Find 10 creative Halloween costume ideas for English teachers in this blog post from 2 Peas and a Dog. #halloween #teachers #teacherhalloweencostumes

Finding a creative, yet school-suitable Halloween costume can be challenging. Every time I try to shop for a pre-made costume, it is rarely appropriate for an educational setting. Some costumes are too revealing while other portray cultural or religious stereotypes that would be offensive to my students and fellow staff members.

Below is a compiled list of school and culturally appropriate costume ideas for English teachers.

Well known characters from picture and chapter books. E.g. Olivia, Where’s Waldo, the Paper Bag Princess, Katniss, Alice in Wonderland. The list is endless of great literary characters to derive inspiration from.

Alphabet Soup. Create a costume that resembles Campbell’s soup can colours. Then put random letters on the costume.

Spelling Bee. Dress up like a bee, but add words all around the costume. For extra flair wear a pageant banner and hold a trophy.

Grammar Police. Dress up in a police uniform or in all black or blue clothing. Visit your local dollar store for plastic toy handcuffs and a sheriff's badge. Add a sign to your shirt that says “Grammar Police”. Don’t forget your weapon of choice - a red pen.

School Supplies. Pick your favourite school supply pen, pencil, paper, glue, stapler, red pen, highlight. The list is endless. Work your magic with some paint and cardboard.

Social Media. For a group of English teachers, each person can come dress in the colours of their selected social media channel (Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Then tape the printed icon onto their clothes.

Play on Words. English teachers love their words, don’t they? Why not be the Spice Girls (Thyme, Oregano, Cinnamon, etc) or a Formal Apology (dressed up with many “sorries” written all over your clothes).

Be an Emoji. These cute pictures have replaced many words and are definitely not something any English teacher wants to see when grading papers.

Word Wall. These popular teaching tools are seen in classrooms everywhere. Have some fun today and becoming a moving word wall.

Vowels. Need an extremely last minute costume? Find a fun font, print out A,E,I,O,U, and Y. Make sure the Y is not around the rest.

Finding a creative, yet school-suitable Halloween costume can be challenging. Find 10 creative Halloween costume ideas for English teachers in this blog post from 2 Peas and a Dog. #halloween #teachers #teacherhalloweencostumes


5 More Mistakes New Teachers Make

In this informative blog post about 5 More Mistakes New Teachers Make, new teachers are provided with five essential tips for being successful in their first year. Experienced teachers read this post to see how you can best support the new teachers in your schools from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

A few years ago I wrote a blog post called 5 Mistakes New Teachers Make. I have had time to reflect on more of my experiences working with new teachers and I am ready to add to my original list of new teacher mistakes.

1. Bell Work. Bell work or daily warm ups are a key classroom management tool that should be used to some extent by teachers. This sets the tone for the upcoming lesson and teaches students that class begins as soon as they enter. These quick tasks are great for diagnostic and formative assessment. When students walk into the classroom they need to have a consistent routine of what is expected.Should they read the board? Get out their journals? Start the quick assessment on their desk? I have watched teachers let classes socialize for ten minutes before finally getting started on the lesson. Every minute counts.

2. Team Planning. Many new teachers feel that their ideas are not good enough to share, so they remain quiet during team planning sessions. However, there are a wealth of online resources to support teachers and help them when planning lessons. It can be very difficult for experienced teachers when new teachers do not contribute during planning sessions. I always love learning from new teachers - they have great ideas when they let them shine. It is important for new teachers to try and offer up some ideas. This shows the experienced teachers on your team that you are engaged in the meeting. The list below is a great place to start when looking for lesson ideas.

New Teacher Planning Assistance
  • Facebook Groups - use the search tool in Facebook to locate subject specific groups.
  • Pinterest - this website has transitioned from a social media sharing platform to a fantastic search engine.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers - this website has thousands of lessons available for purchase.
  • Subject Organizations - many subjects have specific non-profit organizations geared towards supporting teachers. 
  • Teacher Unions - my union produces quality educational lesson plans that support my curriculum. They also have a lending library which is free to use with my membership. Check with your local union to see what resources are available to you. 
  • Teacher Magazines - Educational Leadership from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is a good read about current educational thought.
  • TeachingChannel - this website has a wide variety of videos related to teaching sorted by subject, grade or topic.

3. Reading Emails. I reserve time on Sundays for planning and lesson prep. I take the time to read through my work emails and write down important information in my daybook. It is important that new teachers set aside time to really read their email (not just skim it on their phone) and have their daybook or calendar nearby to write down key dates and times. By showing up unprepared for a meeting, field trip or school event you are disrespecting your colleagues who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to arrive prepared.  

4. Social Media. New teachers forget that nothing is REALLY private on social media. Students are naturally curious about their teacher’s private lives. They will search for their teachers on social media and try to friend or follow them. If your settings allow students could even see your social media posts. Another thing for new teachers to remember is that if they friend or follow their colleagues than anything they post online could get screen captured and shared with others at school. Venting about colleagues and students on your social media accounts is unprofessional and could lead to serious consequences. Here are some key tips to maintaining a professional presence on social media.

5. Asking For Help. It is hard for new teachers to ask for help because they don’t know what or how to ask for help. It is difficult for anyone, especially a first-year teacher to admit they need assistance. However, by not asking for advice it can lead to other issues later on. Hopefully, you can find an in person or digital mentor ask your daily questions. I would much rather have the new teachers that I am mentoring ask for guidance and support than trying to stumble through on their own. Teaching is not an island profession, we must support each other through the good and the bad.

I love working with and mentoring new teachers. I get regular emails and have conversations on social media from new and experienced teachers looking to learn more about topics from my blog or teaching resources from my store. What I love about teachers is that we never stop learning, and I believe this enthusiasm is passed on to our students.      

New teachers, you have one of the hardest jobs in the world - and the only training is live on the job. You can’t flip to a manual to answer a student’s question. Your best resource is your in person teaching team, and the digital professional learning community you find online. Use all the available resources to you so that you can have the best year possible.

More Resources For Teachers:

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In this informative blog post about 5 More Mistakes New Teachers Make, new teachers are provided with five essential tips for being successful in their first year. Experienced teachers read this post to see how you can best support the new teachers in your schools from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.


#2ndaryELA Twitter Chat on Tuesday 10/17 Topic: Close Reading & Text Annotation

Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter. This week's chat will be about close reading and text annotation.
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, October 17, our #2ndaryELA chat will be about close reading and text annotation.

The Format:
8:00 – What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one. #2ndaryELA
8:05 Q1: What does “close reading” mean in your classroom? #2ndaryELA
8:10 Q2: What types of texts do you ask students to do a close reading of? For what purpose? #2ndaryELA
8:15 Q3: How do you teach text annotation to your students? #2ndaryELA
8:20 Q4: Do you have a standardized method of annotation or do you allow students to develop their own? #2ndaryELA
8:25 Q5: For what types of assignments do you require text annotation? How do you grade these assignments? #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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Creative Writing Lesson Ideas

The priority in today's education system is non-fiction and essay writing. It can be hard to remember that students enjoy the opportunity to flex their creative muscles with creative writing assignments. In this blog post, teachers share their best ideas for incorporating creative writing opportunities in the English Language Arts classroom from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

The priority in today's education system is non-fiction and essay writing. It can be hard to remember that students enjoy the opportunity to flex their creative muscles with creative writing assignments. In this blog post, teachers share their best ideas for incorporating creative writing opportunities in the English Language Arts classroom. 

Q1: What is the structure of your creative writing (CW) class or how do you incorporate CW into your ELA class?

  • My students free write in journals several times a week.
  • We start each class period with 5 minutes of quiet journal writing time. Some weeks the prompt is creative.
  • When I taught CW, I let the class decide the type of writing/genre and then used writing workshop format to teach each one.
  • When designing summative tasks for ELA units I try to add a creative writing option if it fits. i.e. short story unit
  • Our 1st major writing piece is a short story. A favorite for many students!
  • It's a semester class so 1 month memoir, 1 month fiction, 1 month screen/stage writing, 1 month poetry.
  • In our narrative unit right now, and Ss have choice in any topic. Need 2 do a better job of infusing CW throughout the yr
  • Read mentor texts, followed by mini lessons and workshop time. Ended w/ sharing in a celebration
  • I started every class with a quick write on a variety of topics and pulled a lot of lesson ideas from Don't Forget to Write
  • I have my students do free writing periodically. My juniors just finished a This I Believe narrative.
  • Creative writing is an area of need for me. I focus on essays that are state standard. Narrative writing is where Ss create.
  • I plan to do project based writing next semester with juniors. They completely create their CW projects. So excited!

Q2: Do your CW students keep blogs? If so, on what platform? For what purpose?

  • We don't use blogs, but if we did I really like the Blogger platform.
  • We didn't keep blogs. Students kept a notebook for play and practice
  • My fav. is poetry; we use stations for creating poems & also have friendly competitions.
  • We do not keep blogs. I am not sure if we would even be allowed. :(
  • Students don't use blogs but have used platforms like WattPad in the past to share their writing
  • I have my Ss blog. Anything inspired by their SSR. Sometimes they do choose a creative writing response. Great authenticity.
  • Students don't use blogs but have used platforms like WattPad in the past to share their writing.
  • I don't use blogs either. My students build stories around subject matter we study. I do run comment threads on Google CR.
  • No blogs yet! We have been doing a lot of collaborative work with Google Apps though.

Q3: Has anyone incorporated graphic novels or movie storyboards into a CW class? Share your experiences.

  • My CW class used storyboarding for our children's books
  • Before everything had to be essay writing, I used to have students make a children's book out of novel we read in class.
  • @Storybird and @StoryboardThat are wonderful visual tools to inspire/ appeal to creative writing.
  • In my ELA classes my students create a short film and learn to storyboard. It helps them to stay focused during filming.
  • This is my first year teaching ELA to grade 8. I would love to learn about incorporating movie storyboards into CW!
  • I suggest Blogger, but ultimately let them pick.
  • I love having Ss make comic versions of short stories we read. It's a great way to practice summarizing and still be creative
  • Storyboards for iMovie is a YES! Plan before you video. Create backdrops and make due with what we have.
  • Our prompts are always related to the reading we are doing in class. I use sentence stems with ELL Ss.
  • Ss creates storyboards on @StoryboardThat to practice imagery. They also use picture books to practice analysis
  • Adobe Spark is a fun tool! Not a storyboard but Ss can make trailers

Q4: In what ways do you provide an authentic audience for your creative writers?

  • Blogging is a wonderful way to provide an authentic audience and writing experience.
  • We are a Google school. Blogger is a Google tool.  The students can control the viewing privileges.
  • Looking for ideas here but I know my kids would love it if there was some kind of display - maybe a coffee shop type event?
  • I have Ss create according to what they feel is needed. it usually involves teen issues. Ss tell a story they want heard.
  • Ss presented This I Believe essays to classmates. Some even submitted to the official website! Loving the idea of using blogs though
Q5: What guidelines do you use for fairly assessing student creativity? Effort?
  • teenink is also a great place to submit/ read.
  • I use a rubric that basically looks for plot elements and conventions.
  • I don't grade their free write notebooks. I only read them if they share them with me, and ask me for feedback.
  • I do not judge their creativity - just that they have a complete story with good conventions.
  • My grading is based off of elements we collect from mentor texts and mini lessons
  • I look for implementation of ideas. W humor, the rule of three, etc.
  • Rubrics tailored to the assignment including whatever writing techniques we're working on i.e. fig. lang., suspense
  • I don't assess creativity. Measuring it is difficult. Quality in words can vary from brief to long, yet each can be profound.
  • Look for basics—ideas clear, organized logically, mechanics, etc. Looking for best efforts



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