" Addie Education - Teacher Talk

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Teaching What Matters - Teaching Vs. Learning

Thrilled to be linking up with Room 213 in the Teaching What Matters Most Blog Hop

This is a question that's been on my mind lately as I face a classroom full of students who are increasingly dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression... as well as students who are becoming disengaged with school and the curriculum.  Now, more than ever I have to find a way to make my course relevant and current... sometimes easier said than done.  I have to find a way to connect old world poetry to their lives, show them how grammar still "counts", how to express themselves through their writing, how to read a book simply for the pleasure of it, how to notice the world around them and connect to it in a meaningful and real way.

One of the things I've done over the last few years is to change my frame of mind... I've switched from thinking about "What do I need to teach?" to thinking about "What do I want my students to learn?".   

For example, I have to teach poetry and figurative language as part of my ELA class.  Instead of just thinking about all of the terms my students need to know, I'm focusing more on what I want them to learn about poetry and how to enjoy poetry so that there isn't a collective groan when I say the word.  I want them to learn that poetry is having fun with language, it's playing with words, it can be gut wrenchingly sad, it can be silly, it can be beautiful and most importantly it can be their own creative expression. I want them to learn that poetry is in our music, it's in advertising, it's in the books they read, the movies they watch... and that there's a place for poetry in their world.  Thinking about what the end goal is rather than ticking off the learning outcomes for the course has made the subject more relevant and more engaging.

Ultimately, although I teach ELA, I want my students to learn so much more than just my subject...

I want them to learn to love words and language as much as I do...
... to love to read
... to learn how to pick themselves up when the going gets rough
... to learn how to advocate for themselves in a respectful way
... to learn to be respectful and thoughtful
... to learn to be inquisitive
... to learn that it's okay to make mistakes
... to learn to love themselves
... to learn that the world of social media isn't "real life"
... to learn that I really do want the best for them and I really do care...

I could probably write a list of a hundred things I want my students to learn... and nowhere on my list would be things like "using apostrophes correctly" or "how to identify a simile".

What about you?? What do you want your students to learn??

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Poetry... Yes, It Can Be Fun!

I know when I tell my 8th grade students that we're starting a poetry unit, there's usually a collective groan... especially in my classes that have a lot of boys!  However, I have learned over the years that we can have a lot of fun with poetry and that by the end of our poetry unit I've usually convinced many of my students that poetry's not so bad after all.

Here are a few of the tricks I have up my sleeve:

#1 - Use music and song lyrics when you can to teach the elements of poetry.  There are so many opportunities to use current songs in the classroom.  Challenge your students to find examples of figurative language in their favorite song lyrics!  Have a class debate to decide if music lyrics are the same as poetry? Have students work with a partner to present their favorite song to the class - they need to discuss meaning and show example of literary terms in their presentation.

#2 - Use Youtube - there are a multitude of videos that illustrate figurative language and literary devices using examples from popular movies and music. There are so many available online it's a little overwhelming (be sure to preview for inappropriate lyrics!)  Here's a link to one of my favorite videos and it's always well received by my students!


#3 - Allow your students the chance to be silly! Poetry is all about playing with words and language and there are plenty of opportunities to have fun.  As part of learning about figurative language I ask students to write examples on the classroom whiteboard.  I hand out about 5 pens at a time and there's a flurry of activity as students write and then pass the pen to someone else. (The buzz of activity at the board means no students feel put on the spot and they can write anonymously.  Or... give each student a sticky note and have them post their example that way.  Either way, we have a lot of laughs reading everyone's examples.... it's hard to keep a straight face when I read out "He dances like a  horse when he eats tacos"!

#4 - Use interactive notebooks and flip books - give your students the chance to use their hands.  I love interactive notebooks / flip books for a variety of reasons, but one of my favorite things about them is that it gives my students a break.  The chance to get up out of their seats to grab scissors and glue, the chance to chat with a neighbor while they're cutting and the chance to use their hands is the best way to break up a long 75 minute English class.  My students also really benefit from the ease with which they can use their interactive activities to do review.   Click on the picture below to link to my Figurative Language / Poetry Terms Mini Flip Book.  Check out all of my Poetry Resources HERE.


#5 - Don't be afraid to try something new, step out of your comfort zone and take a risk.  Model that for your students and share your adventures together!  Have fun!

Thanks for reading!  Here's a fun freebie for you to use as a handy reference and review of Figurative Language with your students. Just click the image below to grab a copy!


Best of luck with your poetry unit!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Teachers Are Heroes - Super Secondary Sale on TpT!

Thrilled to have connected with such an amazing group of Teacher-Authors through TeachersPayTeachers to participate in the 
Teachers Are Heroes Super Secondary Sale ~ Feb. 25 & 26, 2015
on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Many of us are offering up to 20% off plus the 10% that TpT has!  So check out our stores and set up your wishlists.

Don't forget to use Promo Code HEROES... the last sale I forget to use the code ~ Oopss!!

Addie Williams
Danielle Knight (Study All Knight) 
The Classroom Sparrow
Michele Luck's Social Studies 
Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy

Mad Science Lessons 
Juggling ELA
Krystal Mills - Lessons From The Middle 
Teaching High School Math 
To the square inch- Kate Bing Coners 
Charlene Tess 
Pamela Kranz
The Creative Classroom

Kristin Lee
Mrs. Brosseau's Binder 
James Whitaker's SophistThoughts

Darlene Anne
ELA Everyday
Lessons With Coffee
Teaching FSL
Room 213
Lindsay Perro 
Liz's Lessons 
21st Century Math Projects

The SuperHERO Teacher
Science Stuff 
Kate's Classroom Cafe 
A Space to Create

Created by MrHughes
Leah Cleary
Secondary Solutions
All Things Algebra
Tracee Orman
Live Love Math

Ruth S.

2 Peas and a Dog
FisherReyna Education
Rachel Friedrich
Linda Jennifer
For the Love of Teaching Math
The Career Ready Teacher 

Mrs S's Health and PE Resources

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Valentine's Day Blog Hop 2015 - Valentine Writing Activities

I love that I've teamed up with the wonderful gals at Faulkner's Fast Five, The Language Arts Classroom and The Literary Maven for another Secondary Blog Hop! This month's theme is "Feeling the Love" in honour of Valentine's Day.

What I LOVE about teaching...
I love that each day is different and that I know I'm guaranteed a good laugh with each of my classes.  I also love seeing the "light bulb go on"... I love seeing a student suddenly realize that poetry isn't really that bad after all... I love it when former students come to find me in the school to say hello... and I love it when students see their hard work and perseverance pay off. 

Valentine's Day Resource I LOVE...
I have a series of resources called "Interview With A __________" and the one I created for Valentine's Day is one of my favourites.  Interview With Cupid asks students to pretend they have the opportunity to interview Cupid - what would they ask? What questions would they have for Cupid?  Students must create questions and then make up the answers to complete a Cupid Biography.  The things my students come up with are always hilarious and love reading their work when they're done.


Funny Valentine's Day Gift
On old boyfriend of mine once sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to me at school.  I was thrilled... and proudly put them in a vase on my desk.  I had no idea that those dang flowers would result in a student bursting into tears upon entering my classroom.  She walked in and said something along the lines of "Are those flowers yours? Are they for Valentine's Day?"  When I sweetly explained that they were from my boyfriend, she threw herself down at her desk, burst into tears and wailed "I HATE Valentine's Day and I HATE boys."  I managed to calm her down and quickly put the flowers in my office... hopefully out of her sight and out of her mind.  Aahh... the ups and downs of teen romance.

Something I'd LOVE to do??  
Do I only get to pick one thing? This is too hard... my list is really long:  Travel the South Pacific, do an African safari, adventure through South America... learn to cook better, drink less Coca-Cola, workout more often... I feel like I'm listing my failed New Year's resolutions... 

A Book I've Loved Reading Recently
I'm cheating again... I have two.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubika - If you loved Gone Girl, I think you'll also love The Good Girl. A great story - kept me guessing and on my toes.

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu - A fantastic young adult novel that focuses on a girl called Alice and the impact that one rumour had on her high school life.  A hard hitting a realistic look at high school bullying.

Happy Valentine's Day!
~ Addie

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Epic Secondary ELA Giveaway!

Thrilled be giving a helping hand to my friend at Room 213 and have donated a product to her EPIC prize pack!  Check out all of the wonderful teachers who have contributed!!  Whoa... that's a prize pack my friends!! Each of the prizes can be used in Middle or High School ELA classroom!!


The Daring English Teacher: Editable English Tests
The Language Arts Classroom: Write a Tabloid for a Mobile Device
The ELA Buffet: Poetry Close Reading
Here's the best part--you get up to 50 chances to win!  Just follow each seller on TpT, Facebook or her blog; every click gives you a chance to win this amazing bundle of products! Winner will be announced on Feb. 8th!! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review Game - Works for ANY Subject!

If you're anything like me, you like to mix it up and have fun with your students.  Here's a fun review game my students LOVE to play and it's easy peasy, lemon squeasy!!

I divide my students up into groups of 2-4 and have them sit together - I sometimes put friends together and sometimes I mix them all up.

Using sticky notes, I write as many vocabulary words as I can from our unit of study. (One word per sticky)  It's okay if you use the same word more than once because you will have different groups.  

I circulate the room and put a sticky on each student's back / shoulder.  The  students in their group are allowed to look at the vocabulary words on each other's back but they can't say any of the words out loud.  Then, taking turns, the students ask "yes" or "no" questions to their group members to try to guess what the vocabulary word on their back is.  When all of the team members have guessed what their vocabulary word is, I circulate again and add more stickies.  Usually 5-6 rounds is good - but my students often ask to play longer!

I teach science and there is a lot of vocabulary associated with each unit... this is a fun way to get the kids thinking about "good" questions to ask to help them narrow down their thinking to get to their word.

I also teach ELA and have used this same technique during a novel study to review literary terms, characters, plot elements and more!  

At the end of the year when it's time for what I call a "MEGA Review" I put the kids in groups and give each group their own pad of sticky notes.  They love to write vocabulary words for each other and try to outsmart each other - it's a lot of fun!

If you're looking for more ideas to help students study and review vocabulary and important concepts, check out the FREEBIE I have posted in my TeachersPayTeacher store.  Click the image below to grab a copy!  It's another fun activity using sticky notes!!


I've also got a set of posters to help students learn the key words associated with test taking.  My students often need to review these terminology of test questions and these posters have helped. Click the image to check them out.


~ Addie ~

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Out of the Deep Freeze - Poetry Resources

I'm happy to be linking up with another instalment of the Secondary Smorgasbord Linky hosted by ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures.
This month we're featuring products that we feel just aren't getting the love we think they deserve... so we're pulling things out of the deep freeze, thawing them out and putting them on display! 
(This also reminds me that I should really clean out my freezer... don't even want to know what's hiding in there!)

I've been working on some new POETRY resources that are a little more interactive than what I've traditionally done with my students.  I know that the word POETRY is likely to result in groans and whining from my students so I've created some resources to help keep them a little more engaged.  

My Poetry Flip Book is a fun way for students to learn the figurative language terms often associated with a Poetry Unit.  Students create a booklet that can be used on its own or as part of an interactive notebook. Click on the image below to check it out in my TpT Store.

Here are two more interactive POETRY RESOURCES you can check out in my TpT Store.

Be sure to check out the other really COOL blogs that have linked up for the Secondary Smorgasbord "Out of the Deep Freeze" Linky.

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