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Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Get Your Weekends Back

Hi guys!

Caitlin here from The Styled Teacher (formerly Teach Inspire Change). I'm excited to talk to you today about two AWESOME strategies that I use to make sure that I can enjoy my weekends thoroughly. As much as I would love to take credit for this, my hubby is actually the mastermind behind the brilliance.

Basically, I got sick. and. tired. of working on Sundays. I was completely over spending 4-5 hours of my time prepping for the week, not getting to watch Sunday night football (go Niners!), etc. You all know what I'm talking about.

So my husband said one day, "As much as you probably don't want to, stay late on Friday and get everything ready for next week." JUST. DO. IT.

And so I did. And my life changed.

So I challenge you to do the same thing in order to more fully enjoy your weekends. I have some excellent tools that I use that you must absolutely begin to implement into your life.

STRATEGY ONE: This Friday Checklist that I use. You can download a copy of it for FREE by clicking here, or you can download my entire FREE Back to School eBook (that of course includes this checklist and much, much more) by signing up for my Teach Inspire Change newsletter, here.

I like to laminate the checklist, tape it to my desk, and reuse throughout the year. Gotta save the trees people!

STRATEGY TWO: I use this file folder to organize all of my copies for the following week on Friday. You can read about that here. This was the biggest game changer for me.

If you use either of these methods in your classroom this year, please post and tag me @teachinspirechange or send me an email so I can check it out at

Monday, August 24, 2015

Meet Julia from History from the Middle

Hi everyone!  I'm Julia from History from the Middle!  

Welcome to the Middle School Mob!  I'm so excited to join this AMAZING group of middle school educators.  Thank you for visiting our collaborative blog!

I LOVE to incorporate writing into my lessons anytime I can!  This Primary Source Analysis helps to support the Common Core push to provide evidence, and truly allows students to have a real connection with that particular historical period!

Although I currently teach single subject history, I come from a multiple subject background.  My specialty is being able to "bridge" the two, and bring that cross-curricular component into a single subject class!  I like to incorporate writing, science, math, and reading skills alongside my content area to make for a rich learning experience for my students.  

With that, I am also a technology LOVER and incorporate it into EVERYTHING that I do! 

 I teach at a 1:1 Chromebook school, so everything that I do and create is always done with a technology twist!  I'm hoping to be able to share my passion of teaching with a cross-curricular approach while incorporating technology with you all as I blog with my fellow Middle School Mob collaborators!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Meet Taliena from Koch's Odds 'N Ends!

Hello! I'm Taliena from Koch's Odds 'N Ends and I'm so excited to be part of such an amazing group of middle school bloggers!

I can't begin to explain how excited I've been for my first post on this fun collaborative blog! Even just the preparation for the start of it has been fun. I truly hope you've enjoyed getting to know all of my fellow Middle School Mob bloggers thus far, and without further adieu I'll tell you a bit about myself!
I live and teach in (always) sunny and warm Arizona! I teach 8th grade English and 8th Grade Honors English at a middle school in the East Valley. I am married to a wonderful man, who recently went back to school to get his doctorate in physical therapy. We don't have children, but we do have an adorable pompoo (pomeranian-poodle mix) named Guster who has is full of enough energy and mischief to keep us busy each and every day.

I can't say that I have any crazy or even interesting hobbies. Just like most teachers, I'm pretty exhausted after the school day and want nothing more than to flop down on the couch and pass out. I thoroughly enjoy binge watching Netflix while grading papers though!

With my school year in full-swing, I've already begun teaching my curriculum. With that said, I've included the link to an outline for basic paragraph structure that I have my own students glue into their own vocabulary notebooks at the beginning of the year. I hope you'll find it as useful as I do!

Happy teaching!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

About Shyra from Junior High Core Values

Have you ever felt like a juggler, in a circus tent, that was on fire, in an earthquake? But you loved it because it was the best earthquake fire circus juggling act ever?

That's one of many reasons why I love teaching junior high! Greetings! I'm Shyra and I blog at Junior High Core Values  I've been a teacher for 13 years and I've had the honor of working with every grade level. Junior high, however is my favorite.

I teach at a private school in California and we have "core values" that define our school. I teach sixth grade. This involves teaching religion, language arts, and social studies to 6th-8th grade.  I love staying busy, so I am also yearbook moderator, student council moderator, on the administrative team, the Learning Support Coordinator, and on the Diocesan Special Needs Board.  Who needs sleep right? I just wish I had the salary to support all the hats that I wear!

My blog name is important to me because in teaching our school's core values, I also believe that junior high students, particularly as they enter 6th grade, need to find out the characteristics that make them unique and who they are as a person.

A lot of my time is spent with school related things ( as you can see) but I also love reading, beading and making jewelry, scrapbooking/card making, painting and drawing and I'm a bit of a geek. Too many hobbies, but I love them all!

I'm excited to work and connect with other teachers from all over the country and globe because that's what makes society grow and improve!

Come take a look as the kiddos and I begin their junior high journey and discover where their core values are!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Meet Shana from Hello, Teacher Lady

Hi all! My name is Shana (pronounced SHAY-nuh) from Hello, Teacher Lady, and I’m thrilled to be blogging for the Middle School Mob today. I teach 7th and 8th grade language arts in Michigan. I'm married with two furry children (Jazzy and Wicket, pictured below) and I'm a big fan of posting teacher & style related things on my Instagram @helloteacherlady. Stop over and say hello! :)

As a newer teacher with my own classroom for the very first time (we have many teachers who share or are on carts), I’ve been relying pretty heavily on free/DIY resources to save money. Instead of jumping at all those gorgeous inspirational posters at the Teacher Store, I decided to create my own mini posters using PowerPoint and photos from the Internet. All it took was a little bit of time playing around with the layout, then I simply printed each piece onto an 8x10 sheet of computer paper, pasted onto construction paper and laminated.

Since I already had the construction paper and I used the school’s laminator, my total cost for this project was $0. I love the way they turned out, but I haven’t decided where I want to hang them yet. Here's a quick photo I snapped of some the posters pre-lamination, but feel free to download all 10 of them for free at my TpT Store.

Another project for my classroom that I’m really excited about is my Boggle Board. I may add some tweaks here and there, but here is the board so far.

The main idea behind the Boggle board is to have something that students can work on individually when they are finished with other classwork/homework. I usually tell students to read their AR novels or free write in their journals, but I've been in search of some other options as well. 

The borders were leftover from two of my other bulletin boards and the striped washi tape was given to me by a coworker. (I'm now obsessed with wash tape, by the way!) The Boggle letters were a TpT freebie from Mrs. Salvador. I bought the twine and clothespins from Amazon (a total of $8) but I have a ton leftover to use on other projects. Oh, the possibilities! 

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Three more weeks until school starts over here --- when do you go back?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Introducing...Just Add Students

Hello all!

I'm Marypat from Just Add Students.  I'm excited to be part of this energetic middle school mob!

I have been a teacher for over 15 years -- grades 4 - college.  But my heart has always been in middle school teaching ELAR.  The ups and downs.  The rewards and rigor.  The laughter and tears.  The drama...and that's just in the faculty room!!

As middle school teachers, we know that this age group of people is so interesting!  Struggling between childhood and adulthood.  Figuring out who they are and who they want to be.  It's tough, important stuff.  Add to the mix the subject material they must master, and you have the makings for an exciting, challenging job that is different every day.

My goal -- as a blogger, writer, TpT seller -- is to help pave the way a tiny bit for another teacher.  My heart breaks when I hear about new teachers who leave the classroom after only a few years.  So I have those new teachers in mind when I create my TpT products (with the knowledge that they'd help veteran teachers as well).

I want to share the newest freebie in my TpT store with you:  Homework scorecards.  I use these for "practice" homework:  vocabulary, spelling, grammar, sentence construction.  They can be used for math and at-home reading practice as well.

This resource takes pressure off students since they can choose the homework grade they like the best at the end of the week.  I also like it because I'm not a fan of completion grades, so students are still accountable for doing their best on homework.  This is also a great formative assessment -- and it saves time.  I hope you'll check it out.  Don't forget to leave feedback!  Love that!

I'm looking forward to new ideas we'll share in the mob!  I hope you'll look me up on Teachers Pay Teachers or my blog Just Add Students  or Pinterest at Just Add Students  or on Facebook at Just Add Students!

Take care!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Meet Mylie from Edison Education!

Hello, everyone! My name is Mylie and I am the blogger behind Edison Education.

I hope that you have enjoyed getting to know the Middle School Mob team so far! I have been so excited to be a part of this amazing blog and the chance to get to know all of you. It truly has been a blessing to get to collaborate with all of my middle school peeps!

Can you believe it is almost fall? I am so ready for football season to be in full swing. I was born, raised, and still reside in the great state of Texas.  Yes, we are the cliché football-watching Texans. On Saturdays and Sundays, only football is allowed on our TV. I attended Texas Tech University for both my bachelors and masters degrees so we never miss a chance to support our alma mater. Go Red Raiders! 

I am now entering my 6th year as a middle school math special education teacher. I have half resource classes and half co-teach classes so I have something different going on every single period in my school day!

With so many classes to plan for, on top of keeping up with special ed paperwork for 54 students who struggle in math, I do not have as much time to create lessons that require a lot of prep. With this in mind, I started creating my Scavenger Hunts.

These scavenger hunts are a life saver for me some days because the only prep is printing off answer documents (which we do a lot of in math anyway) and hanging the scavenger hunt on the walls.

Plus, the kids love doing them! SCORE!

This is the one activity they beg to do again and again. They like to race each other to see who can finish first! How’s that for motivation?!

Head on over to my TpT store for one of my scavenger hunt FREEBIES!

Hope you enjoyed hanging out with me today. Be sure to stay tuned for more meetings!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Meet Anchored in Reading

   Hello! Welcome to Middle School Mob! I am Susie from Anchored in Reading and I am very passionate about reading. As an avid reader myself, I find it difficult to accept that some students ‘just aren’t readers.’ Every year I strive to create life-long readers. I am met with resistance occasionally (ok, maybe more than occasionally!) but make it my goal to show my students that reading can be absolutely enjoyable. Like any skill, I feel that it is my duty to show students how to become readers. In addition to modeling, I set very specific times during class for independent reading and conference with every student each week. During this conference we discuss their progress from the previous week and set a new reading goal for the upcoming week. This goal might be to reach a certain page or chapter.
   At the beginning of the school year, students may find it difficult to reach their goals or they might feel it is a ‘job’ and become frustrated. To combat that, I offer some sort of incentive every other week in order to keep the momentum up. By mid-year, my students are flying past their goals and often ask to increase the expectation. I see wonderful growth and I see kiddos excited about reading. Reading becomes more than a set goal for my students. I know it’s difficult to find time for individual conferences, but the results you will see are worth it!
  To help me stay organized during our conferences, I created a chart to track progress. You can find this freebie here at my TPT store. Follow my store for more helpful tools!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Founders of EB Academic Camps

Caitlin here from Teach Inspire Change. Yep, I'm back again! But this time, I'm wearing a different hat - the hat of a co-founder of a company called EB Academic Camps. My business partner, Jessica, and I co-founded the company in the summer of 2014!

My business partner (and awesome friend), Jessica
That's me! Caitlin 

But enough about us. We want to talk to you about speed dating with books! As much as I would love to take credit for this awesome post, Jessica is the mastermind behind it ...

As I was doing curriculum planning this week for the new school year, I came across this great idea from my required summer reading book, Literacy and the Common Core (which was a much better read than I thought it was going to be based on the title!). There I was judging a book by its cover, which ironically, is what Speed Dating with a Book essentially asks kids to do!

Basically, you line up the desks in your room and place several books from your classroom library on each desk. Students rotate from left to right and get three minutes to go on a "date" with the books in front of them. They can look at the front and back covers, read a page or two, skim the illustrations, etc. At the end of the three minutes ... (you can continue reading Jessica's awesome post by clicking here). (Did you know it hurts your SEO to have the same content, verbatim, on more than one site? Nope? Now you do ... which is why I'm taking you somewhere else, but COME BACK because I have more for you!)


We also want to say THANK YOU for following along with the fabulous Middle School Mob by putting one of our favorite TPT products 50% off for you for today! Make sure to head over to our TPT Store and download The Most Dangerous Game Supplemental Activities. They are SUPER cool! Here is a look at what you'll find :)

Until next time, 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Meet Mandy from Caffeine and Lesson Plans

Hi, everyone! Welcome to Middle School Mob. I'm super excited to be a part of this collaborative blog focused on middle school. I teach fifth grade in Boston, MA (go Red Sox!) and love every minute of it. I am married to my best friend, and have a very energetic one year old son. I blog over at Caffeine and Lesson Plans.

Can you believe summer is almost over? Some teachers in other parts of the country have told me they are already back to school! I don't know where it went this year. Maybe it was ALL THAT SNOW we got in Boston, but this really felt like it flew by this year. In the spirit of getting back to business, I thought I'd put together one of my favorite back to school activities for a freebie!

Each fall, I have my students complete a math autobiography to get to know them better. Just like we tell our students, the best way to get information is from a primary source. What better primary source is there than the student's own voice? The questions are designed to help students to identify a mathematical strength and weakness, while also allowing them to express their feelings about math. 

The best part is that assignment works for all students. Those that are confident in math will love the opportunity to discuss their past successes, and those that struggle will appreciate the opportunity to express their troubles or anxiety before any true content is taught. Each year when I complete this activity I consider it my first "assessment" of students, and keep it in their math folder for the year. At the end of the year, I bring it back out and we reflect on their answers and growth.

So, head on over to TpT and get this freebie!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Who is behind Snapshots of Sixth Grade?

Hello everyone! Welcome to the Middle School Mob! My name is Megan and I am the blogger behind Snapshots of Sixth Grade.

I am a sixth grade language arts teacher in Nebraska and I truly love what I do everyday. I hope you find this blog helpful to you and we are a great resource!

As in the back to school spirit (I started on Wednesday--kids start next Wednesday, WHOA! Here we go, ready or not!) I do not have a TeachersPayTeachers store, but I still wanted to make sure I had special freebies for you! Bulletin board style! Who does need bulletin board help at the beginning of the year?

Here is a link to my "read me maybe" board. The picture is below. Grab that here. It is just the fonts, but you need to choose the book covers that would be appropriate for your specific students. You can do it! It's easy.
The next bulletin board option is my "Be You" board. The link to all my words is here. The picture is below.

Please don't hesitate if you have any questions! Happy BACK TO SCHOOL time!

Snapshots of Sixth Grade Blogger

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Meet Teaching Teens in the 21st!

Hi, everyone! Jen from Teaching Teens in the 21st here, and I'm so excited to be part of the Middle School Mob!

I hope to share with you all some great tips for keeping your classroom organized, and for managing the unpredictable environment that often is middle school!

To kick that off, I'm sharing my No Assignment Forms as a flash freebie TODAY only until 9pm! Head over and pick them up!

I have used No Assignment Forms in my room for the past five years, and they have been such a convenience!

There is no more confusion about who turned in an assignment, or if I lost something now that I use these. It also helps me with staying on top of students turning in missing work. I clip them to the board and remind students to check in with what they are missing each day. As I collect/check-in homework, I carry a stack of these around, or leave them tacked to my "Organization" bulletin board. If a student forgot or didn't do the assignment, they fill this out and give it to me. These are also great if a student has a legitimate excuse for not doing their work, and we can chat about it. 

I also use these to determine effort grades, since I do not grade homework as an academic grade. Since they are small, I can easily carry the stack down to the gym during parent conferences and they can see proof in their own child's handwriting of missing work. I actually input their "Reason" into our eschool comments section if they are missing an assignment, which cuts down on the bogus reasoning as well!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Meet Mrs. Spangler in the Middle!

I am very excited to join the Mob - the Middle School Mob!

My specialty is scaffolding.  I am able to break any task down to the brass tacks so that my students can get to the heart of the matter.  I have done a lot of work with scaffolding writing in specific, but I am also pretty darn good at behavior management.  
I plan to contribute as much as I can in these areas as I blog with the Mob.  

So now for a little offer you can't refuse... ;)

Do you teach students with special needs in your general education class?  You may have wondered how inclusion is meant to work.  Then you might have wondered where you could find some quick and reliable strategies to use...

And today, I'd like to thank you for stopping by selecting a lucky commenter to receive the
Special Needs Strategies Flipbook
for FREE!

 All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment about future topics you'd like to see here on the blog with your e-mail address.
Special Needs questions?
Need ideas for behavior management?  
General questions?

Comment below and let us know!  :)


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lyndsey from Lit with Lyns

 Meet Lyndsey Gresehover from Lit with Lyns!!!

 I'm so excited to be a part of the Middle School Mob!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Welcome to the Middle School Mob!

Welcome to the Middle School Mob! Your one-stop shop for all things middle school. We are a group of 16 teacher bloggers and TpT authors who really want to share our love and knowledge of teaching middle school with all of you. We hope you enjoy the useful content, freebies, classroom ideas, and much more that we will be posting here! As our motto says, we have come together to "collaborate and dominate", and we sincerely hope you enjoy this journey with us!

To express our gratitude and appreciation for your support on our FIRST launch day, we are doing a great TpT Middle School Bundle Giveaway. Check out these awesome products that the winner will receive:

PROBE Notebooks: A Yearlong ELA Research Project from Caffeine & Lesson Plans
Compound, Complex, & Compound-Complex Sentences Task Cards from Lit with Lyns
Writer's Workshop Guide from Teaching Teens in the 21st!
Essay Writing PROS! Acronym Anchor Chart System from Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Classroom Economy System from Edison Education
Information Texts Grade 6: Mini Lessons from Just Add Students
Student Behavior and Parent Communications Binder from Teach. Inspire. Change. 
The Most Dangerous Game Supplemental Activities from EB Academic Camps
Text Genre Classroom Posters from Koch's Odds 'N Ends
Back to School for Grades 4-12 from The Marvelous Middle
Back to School Themed ELA Task Cards from Anchored in Reading

You can enter through the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway runs through August 10th and the winner will be announced here, on the blog. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A little bit about me:

My name is Caitlin, and I blog over at Teach. Inspire. Change., and I also recently co-founded a summer academic camp company called EB Academic Camps. I taught high school English for four years, and moved to middle school ELA for two years. I also took a one year hiatus in between to "go make money in the business world", and it was awful. Don't ever do that to yourself! You can read about that journey here.

I love my wonderful husband and my two dogs, Charlie and Huck! If you follow me on IG, you know they're the center of our little universe :)

And, since Back to School is upon us, here is a GREAT free resource to use during your first weeks of school with your middle schoolers. I think they will just love it! :)

I'm excited to have you here for this journey and hope we are able to provide you with invaluable content and resources. Thank you so much for stopping by!