Easy and Inexpensive Bookmarks

Okay... so I know that I'm not the first person to have ever figured this out and it's clearly not rocket science... but I can't believe how easy it is to make my own bookmarks with scrapbook paper!

My students love bookmarks... like really love... I had no idea that they would be so popular. However, buying bookmarks online is expensive "like $1.50-$2.00 each expensive" which is over $50 per class!!  As well, most of the bookmarks I see would not appeal to my middle/high school aged readers.

While wandering the stationary aisles of Micheal's Craft Store one day trying to think of something I could make with the beautiful stacks of scrapbook paper, I realized I could make bookmarks!  There are tons of teen-friendly papers and when I buy the books on sale I can make 200-300 bookmarks for less than $15!

And it turns out my students love them!  They ask for themes (they can't wait for the Valentine's Day bookmarks I've promised!) and love when I add new ones to my box of bookmarks.

I usually use a 12"x12" book and I can get 10 bookmarks per page.  For the Valentine's Day bookmarks above I used a 6"x6" mini-book and got 5 per page.

I just got this awesome pad of comic book themed paper on sale!! Can't wait to cut these up into bookmarks - my students are going to LOVE them!!

Have fun making bookmarks!!

Secondary Sub Plans

Ugh... we've all been there! You wake up in the morning and realized you're not going to make it in to school. I know I've dragged myself in to school on many days (when I really should have stayed home!) because the thought of coming up with a plan for the day can seem overwhelming!  Here's a fun linky to collect some ideas from other Secondary teachers to have on hand.  Thanks again to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for organizing all of us!

Here are a few ideas I have for last minute ELA plans:

Here's a FREE and fun writing activity that can be used just about any time during the year in an ELA, Social Studies or Science classroom.  Students must create the front page of a newspaper to practice expository writing.  Includes assignment sheet, graphic organizers and a marking rubric!

In the middle of a novel study?  Adapt it to be about an event in the novel!
Why not have your students write about an important historical event?
Teaching science?  Students could write a news article to summarize a current topic!

Great review for writing, editing and more!  Just click the image above to grab a copy!

Another handy pack to have on hand is my Poetry Package!  It includes 7 individual poetry activities that students could easily work on with a substitute teacher.  Each activity includes everything needed to get started right away and is "print and go" ready!

product links:

Holiday Resources - Tis The Season!

Thrilled to be joining up for the Tis The Season Blog Hop with an awesome group of secondary teachers!

How I Bring Meaning to the Season for My Students
Each year my school does a HUGE holiday food drive for our local Christmas Hamper Society.... and our students get so involved - it's truly amazing.  From organizing boxes for collections, jars for money, keep track of all of the donations and then getting it sorted and boxed up for delivery - the students do it all!  They truly learn that the best gift of all, is giving to others and their selfless acts touch 100s of families in our town.  The sense of accomplishment and the pride the students take in knowing they have made a family's Christmas special is amazing.

How I Bring the Meaning to the Season for My Family
My hubby and I try to think of a way to give back every year and it seems that Christmas time is the perfect time to do it.  This year we are taking some fruit / vegetables to a local animal shelter as they have 26 orphan bear cubs to feed - an unusually high number - and they're desperate for help!  We're also going to take my niece and nephew Christmas shopping for a toy to donate to the Christmas Hamper.... we'll let them pick out something for a child in our community and then take them with us when we drop it off.  It's something we all look forward to every year and it's important to us to show the younger generation the importance of giving to those less fortunate.

One Thing I'm Looking Forward to This Season
Getting out in the snow for some fun!  Last year we had very little snow on our local Vancouver mountains and we weren't able to enjoy snow shoeing or snowboarding like we usually do!  But we're off to a chilly snowy start and we are hopeful we can get up onto the slopes for some snowy fun!  Here's a picture of hubby and our dog snow shoeing at a local provincial park in 2014.

A Holiday Gift For You
Enjoy this fun and easy to use freebie! Perfect for January when we all have to go back to school.  It's a great time to set goals and resolutions for the year and it's an easy way to warm up students after some time off.  Just click the image below to grab a copy!

Be sure to hop on over to the other awesome blogs listed below for some more holiday cheer!

Peer Editing Tips and Tricks for Middle & Secondary Students

Peer editing can be a powerful tool in an English classroom but it can also be a colossal failure. As a result of too many failures I have changed the way I do it over the last few years and I have seen a huge improvement in my students’ editing and writing skills.

I used to ask students to switch papers with a partner and go through an editing check list with each other and then they’d hand their papers back to each other and get to work correcting their errors.  However, I found that their editing was very, very basic so I needed a way to switch it up.

Now, I have them switch papers with 10-12 people before going to work on their revising and editing.  This is 10-12 more people giving feedback and help… and it means that each student gets to see more examples of other student’s writing.

But… instead of getting students to look at the entire piece of writing, I ask them to focus on one particular aspect at a time.  It’s less overwhelming for my weaker students and it really allows students to see all the different aspects that make up a good piece of writing.

My technique involves a lot of paper passing, so you need to set up a system so that works with your classroom set up.  At each pass of the students’ papers I ask students to look for and do different things.  And what I ask them to look for, will be dependent on the type of writing they’re editing.  With each pass the students must read the entire piece of writing… you may need to allow a few minutes depending on the length of the work.

Here are some suggested prompts with EACH pass of the paper.  
  • Put a check mark at the top of the paper if there’s an engaging title. Put an X if there’s no title. 
  • Circle any words you think may be spelled incorrectly.  (I sometimes do this one twice!)
  • Put a star beside the topic sentence.  If there is no topic sentence make a note at the bottom of their page. 
  • Put a check mark beside the climax of the writing.  Make a note at the bottom if the climax was not obvious or was confusing.
  • Put a small check mark beside three words that you think were particularly helpful in expressing an idea. 
  • Circle any missing punctuation.  Period, quotations, commas….
  • Circle any words that should be capitalized.
  • Put a question mark beside an idea or sentence you were confused about.  Add some details about why it was confusing at the bottom.
  • What’s one thing you’d like to know more about in this writing?  Ask a question at the bottom of their paper.
  • Put a number 1 beside the first sentence that support the topic sentence.   Put a 2 beside the second…
  • Write a sentence at the bottom of the paper giving the writer an idea to improve their work.
  • Underline the concluding sentence.  Cross out anything that says “These are all the reasons why...” or “In conclusion…” 
  • Put a check mark beside the concluding sentence if it links back and relates to the topic sentence.
  • Circle a boring verb and write a suggestion for a new vivid one.
  • Underline the transition words.  Make a note at the bottom if there are none.
  • Write a note at the bottom of their page to let them know if they varied their sentences or if they are all the same.

I am sure you will think of more ideas as you get started and work through this process.  The type of writing will also dictate that types of things you ask your students to look for.  I try to make sure that when I ask students to circle something it’s an error that needs attention… this way when they get their paper back they know what needs to be done.  Check marks mean “well done”, underlining is also identifying positive structures in their work.

My students look forward to doing this—they get to read so many examples, they’re only asked to focus on one thing at a time and when their paper are returned they see so many great suggestions.

I hope you get a chance to try out this strategy with your students as I have truly found success with it in my classroom.  Good luck!

Halloween Tricks and Treats - A FREEBIE for you!

Happy Halloween from Secondary Smorgasbord!! Check out the Tricks and Treats we've put together for you by following the blog hop below!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Halloween?  Like... really LOVE Halloween!!  The colours, the pumpkins, the chance to dress up and the fabulously fun family night our neighbourhood organizes.  We get together for a big wiener roast and fireworks - I think the fireworks are a uniquely Canadian tradition for Halloween.  It's our biggest firework night of the year! (Our poor dog is a disaster by the end of the night - between the trick-or-treaters and the fireworks it's a stressful night!)

I know it can be a challenge to bring the holidays into a middle or high school classroom, but I've learned over the years that the older kids still like a little holiday fun too.  The key is to combine the fun with some valuable learning.

As an ELA teacher I really think it's important to have my students practice their writing as much as possible.  So I try to combine writing with some holiday fun whenever I can.

Here's a FREE Halloween TREAT for you and your students to enjoy.  Use this Halloween subway art as a writing prompt. 

Challenge students to use a word from each colour in their first sentence. To include 5 words, to include all of the words, to write a poem, to create a haiku, a spooky Halloween headline, a Halloween song...

Click the image to download a FREE copy from my TPT Store! Be sure to check out my other Halloween and Fall themed resources HERE.

Be sure to hop over to the other blogs below for more tricks and treats!

Happy Halloween!

The Literary League Back to School Giveaway

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by. It's alright’ cause I'm saved by The Literary League! That’s right, we are at it again! It’s one of the biggest back-to-school give-aways courtesy of some of your favorite ELA sellers. 

We’re teachers too, so we know that feeling of going back to school.  Cure those back to school blues by entering this HUGE give-away. Not only multiple prize packs, but also multiple winners!

The give-away will run Monday 8/31 to Monday 9/14. You’ll see some familiar and maybe even some new faces, so follow our stores and our social media accounts, and stay updated with what’s new! Winners will be announced Tuesday 9/15.

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

Prize # 1: Gift Card of Choice
Win a $50 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon, Staples or Target.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #2: Middle School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your middle school ELA classroom.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #3: High School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your high school ELA classroom.
Close Reading: Guide Your Students Through the Process
Interactive Notebook Bundle
Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion
Common Core Literature Bell Ringers for Secondary English
Found Poetry Packet
Introduction to Close Reading for Middle and High School - Model and Practice
Critical Thinking: What is Textual Analysis #2
Fiction and Nonfiction Test Passages
Short Story Starters Task Cards 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize # 4: Middle School TpT Store Shopping Spree 
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
2 Peas and a Dog
The Creative Classroom
Literary Sherri
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Darlene Anne
Fisher Reyna Education
Brain Waves Instruction
Stacey Lloyd
James Whitaker's Sophist Thoughts
Created by MrHughes
ELA Everyday

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #5: High School TpT Store Shopping Spree  
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
Room 213
The Daring English Teacher
Making Meaning with Melissa
Linda Jennifer
Brynn Allison
Juggling ELA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Super Secondary Science Giveaway

I wear many hats at my school which makes for busy and interesting weeks!  I teach ELA and Science and I love the variety I have in my day... I can go from a poetry lesson to a lesson on volcanoes to a lesson on climate change in just a few hours!

I've teamed up with some of the amazing secondary science sellers of TpT for a fun Super Secondary Science Giveaway!  Be sure to hop to the other great blogs to enter their contest too!

One of my favourite science topics to teach is Plate Tectonics - and the kids love it too!  I live in Vancouver, Canada and we are well aware of earthquakes and volcanoes.  We practice earthquake drills in class and spend hours talking about earthquake preparedness and earthquake safety.  My students also love volcanoes... they love my stories of seeing lava in Hawaii and love seeing the photos I've taken of volcanoes around the world. Living in the shadow of a volcano (Mt. Baker in Washington state) also makes volcanoes seem all the more real!  

I use many interactive activities to teach about Plate Tectonics! Read my blog post HERE about how I use Play-Dough as a final assessment!  I also use graphic organizers, flip books and fold out books - even with my senior students! They love the hands on nature of the activities! Check out a few of my favourites below.


Enter to WIN a $10 Shopping Spree in my TpT Store!  Click the Rafflecopter Link below to enter!

Be sure to hop on over to the other great Science Blogs!!

An InLinkz Link-up

Happy Back to School!