Category Archives: TeachersPayTeachers

Vol.#102: NCCAT Revisited

This week, I went to the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and attended the usually funny and always insightful sessions of Dr. Deb Teitelbaum during a program entitled “Teaching Beyond the EOG“. I hadn’t been to NCCAT since June 2012 as a Kenan Fellow. I wrote about that experience way back in Volume #5 when TSV was in its infancy.

I have taught middle school language arts for seventeen years, have a master’s degree in teaching, and am twice national board certified. One might wonder if there were professional development that could significantly improve upon the instruction of a teacher with this much time and training already dedicated to perfecting the craft. However, this week at NCCAT will unquestionably make a profound impact on teaching and learning in my classroom. I appreciated learning, practicing, discussing, and analyzing research-based pedagogical strategies. The time we were given to create materials using these high-quality strategies and then share them with each other was particularly valuable.

I learned about one particular strategy for students completing nonfiction passages on standardized assessments. This nonfiction strategy didn’t have a catchy name or clever acronym, as most all pedagogical techniques do. I was initially very skeptical, since it called for students to not necessarily read the entire passage. (*gulp*) Then we actually used the strategy on an 8th grade EOG passage. I got 100% of the questions correct. This was clearly a game changer.

I determined that to be comfortable using it with my students, I needed to convey to my students that I was not saying, “only read these parts”, but how to mark what to go back and reread as they completed the questions. After all, to get every question correct, I never read all of the body paragraphs, but I did read one of them three or four times.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 8.40.48 PMSo, with this message as my goal and my penchant for  designing these types of things, I created an alliterative name and an analogy to using GPS technology. These are the resulting directions for students. I am most excited to use it with my students in the coming weeks.



Vol.#84: “Is This A Grade?”

They say there is no such this as a bad question, but, “Is this a grade?” makes me think otherwise. This is one of my least favorite questions of all time, and teachers are asked this by students often.

It reveals a student’s thought process on if a learning experience is important and worth their time or not.

I have tried several approaches to this question. I have tried to ban  the question from the classroom without success. I have tried consistently using the vague response, “All things in life are assessed.” They have been undeterred.  My students have even gotten savvy enough to know to ask, “Is this formative or summative”?

I decided I do not want to answer this question again. To that end, I have created a flow chart to post on my wall:

Is this a GRADE-

PS: I love you Piktochart.

If you would like it for your classroom as well, it is available in my TeachersPayTeachers store here.

What habits of your students do you try to break?

Vol.#68: Teachers Pay Teachers

At the beginning of the calendar year, I created a list of ten tech tools I planned to keep using, one I would not use again, and three I wanted to explore in 2014. One of those New Year’s goals was to open my own TeachersPayTeachers store. Both my PLT colleagues and some colleagues who are already TpT sellers have been continuously encouraging me to do so.

Also, as a buyer I am a huge fan. I have found that searching on TpT nine times out of ten yields more results for what I need for my classroom than googling. Many items are free, and any paid items have been worth much more than what I paid simply in the time that I saved.

So after much contemplation and effort, I have opened a small TeachersPayTeachers Store. I have a goal of adding an item weekly, and I have linked the store to my Teaching Speaks Volumes menu.

Revising your own materials for others’ use requires a level of reflection that is really different. I know what is useful to me…but how do I know it would be useful to someone else? Would other teachers be willing to pay their very hard-earned, very limited money for it? If so, how much?

Here are just a few of the items I posted thus far:

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“All About Me” poster for the Middle Grades
Full Sized Spring Paisley Grade Scale
Full-sized Bright Chevron Grade Scale
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Literature Circle Jigsaw Unit
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Literature Circle Jigsaw Unit


I am only in the first baby-steps of this endeavor of teacherpreneurship. I’d appreciate any feedback from visitors and insight into what types of additional teaching materials for which you see a need in the comments.