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Keeping Your Sanity Heading into the Holidays

Thanks for checking in for another stop on our 12 Days of Christmas blog hop! Today, Nouvelle ELA and I are offering up some suggestions for how to stay sane with the holidays happening!

It's that time of year again: the holiday season. As this time of year rolls around, I know that our schedule starts to get a little crazy, and our students start feeling a little restless.

Let's admit it: we're all ready for a break after the long fall semester. But, how do you keep your sanity in tact with chaos ensuing all around you? Stick to a schedule.

Having a structured schedule can solve so many of our classroom management challenges, especially during this time of year when there are a million different things going on. As a write my lesson plans, I jot down a general outline of my lesson plans on my desk pad. This allows me to have a simplified version of my plan of action within arms reach.

Here's what my daily schedule looks like. It's not the same content every day or the same approach every day, but this "schedule" helps my students know what to expect and how to transition.

We start off with 15 minutes of independent reading every. single. day. Every single day. We never skip independent reading.

Then, we move on to bell ringers.

The bell ringer schedule is posted in the classroom so that my students know what we're doing each day. Vocabulary on Monday, article of the week on Tuesday, status of the class on Wednesday, combining sentences on Thursday, and reading responses on Friday. 

When we finish these two things, we check out our grammar and vocabulary that we're working on. This is sometimes mentor sentences and sometimes it's breaking down roots, prefixes, and suffixes. 

After this, I teach a short mini-lesson for reading or writing workshop, depending on which week we're on, that doesn't last more than 15 minutes. Then my students spend the rest of the block applying the content that they've just read. 

Here's the thing. It may seem monotonous, but I mix it up. Sometimes vocabulary is a game of kahoot or quizlet live. Sometimes grammar is a video or prezi, and sometimes it's an egg toss race. I change the lighting and music to fit the mood. I switch up their groups. I change the arrangement of the room. It's chaotic structure. They know what they're going to get (reading, bell ringer, grammar/vocab, mini-lesson, practice), but they're don't know exactly how it's going to be delivered. 

We've followed this routine for so long that my students know how to run our classroom without me. Which brings us back to the chaos. Even though we've got a million things going on, a million announcements, a million tests, a million meetings, and a million activities, they know what my expectations are. 

Following this routine/schedule allows me to keep my sanity because they know that we're not going to deviate from the routine. We follow this schedule right down to the day before semester tests which is a review day. 

It's nice for them to know exactly what to expect when they come to class, and it's nice for me to know exactly what to expect when it comes to their behavior. We all leave the classroom happy when winter break gets here. 

Need some help keeping it together as the holidays approach? Click on the picture below and download this free desk planner to jot down your plan of action. Trust me. You'll thank me later. 

If you haven't stopped by yet, don't forget to check out today's other blogger in our 12 Days of Christmas giveaway: Nouvelle ELA! Then head over to bloghop to enter the giveaway to win some awesome gifts! Today, you have the change to win a $20 Target giftcard! Yes, yes, yes! 

Click on the picture below to check out these awesome teacher authors' sanity saving ideas!

The 12 Days of December

Stay sane my fellow teachers. Stay sane.

Teach Box for ELA

Do you like subscription boxes like birchbox, ipsy, barkbox, or others? Do you teach English? If your answer to these two questions is yes then you're going to LOVE teach box! When this picture pops up in your inbox, you know it's going to be a good day!

Teach Box is a subscription based "box" that is curated for English teachers, and it's awesome! These are the lessons that you wish you were using when your administration walks in for an observation visit.

Interactive Notebooks: Writing

Interactive Notebooks for High School English has been a labor of love. There is so much information to share, and sometimes I get so wrapped up in actually using our interactive notebook that I forget to share the values and challenges with you. Sorry.

I know you've been waiting a while, so here it is: the writing section of our interactive notebook. This is a dark place that I once dared not to tread. :( I'm going to be honest; teaching writing isn't my strong point. I spend a lot of time researching and trying new ways of teaching writing. So, be forewarned that this section isn't as pretty or manicured or "perfected" (not that any of the other sections are); this section is a messy work in progress.

5 Books that you won't want to put down

Do you ever experience book hangover? You know what I mean: when you finish a book and realize that you're left feeling empty because there isn't a sequel (or it hasn't been released yet). I've got a serious case of book hangover right now. Because I know that everyone enjoys a good book hangover ;) and is continually expanded their "to read" lists, I'm going to share what I've been reading lately.

Interactive Notebooks: Literature

Y'all week one was TOUGH for me. I'm sorry that I didn't get this posted sooner, but I've been riding the struggle bus for about two weeks now. Ok, I'm done with my excuses, here's the content. :)

Back to Interactive Notebooks for High School English. Five down, four to go. We've looked at the person, skills, content, informational texts (article of the week), and reading response sections. The next section up is literature. This section really is the meat of our notebook.

Interactive Notebooks: Reading Response

We're on to the next section of Interactive Notebooks for High School English.

So this is how reading responses usually go....student "reads" the book, student looks up summary on amazon or sparknotes, student "borrows" that information to write a summary, and student hand in the "summary". Y'all, if I never saw another book "summary" for independent reading it would be too soon.

I hated reading them. That's honesty y'all. Hated. It. 1. I had either already read the book and knew what happened. 2. I had been wanting to read the book, and now it was ruined. 3. I didn't want to read the book, but could have gotten the same summary that they submitted from an online source if I wanted to. Ick.

Interactive Notebooks: Informational Texts

Today in Interactive Notebooks for High School English, we're looking at informational texts.

One of the biggest struggles in Literacy classrooms can sometimes be incorporating informational texts into literary units. Another struggle, getting students to read on level. Another struggle, getting students to respond to what they read. The list goes on. I know that each specific content area has its struggles.

Something that I do to combat these issues is to have my student read about and respond to an article about a current event. How do I do this without driving myself bonkers trying to find appropriate current events articles? Kelly Gallagher is the answer.
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