Feature Friday: Teach Thanks

November’s a perfect month to teach that thanks is more a state of mind in all teams than a state of benefits received. Teams find it cool that thankfulness can recharge brains beyond challenges they face. It’s always fun to teach brain facts related to thankfulness — such as the fact that a thankful action literally reconfigures team brains for more fun and productivity.


My students use thankfulness as a tool that adds an adventure for all to enjoy in their teams. It’s a November go to that revs up brain power in ways that delight their groups.

Get these Brain Based Task Cards!


EllenBrain7 (1)Ellen Weber is a whole brain curriculum specialist at secondary and higher education. She works in secondary and college learning renewal where she has won awards internationally for her practical brain based Mita model to engage both sides of students’ brains.
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Feature Friday: Company Project for Real-World, Collaborative Learning

Company Project Long PinThe Company Project is an engaging activity that combines real-world writing and creativity.  Students work together to develop a fictional company, from the company history to the products to the testimonials.  Like any business, students have to figure out what to sell and how to sell it.  Plus, it includes several different types of real-world writing to use along with it– including business letter, complaint letter, response to a complaint letter, envelope, advertising and more.

I originally designed this project to keep my summer school students engaged, and it was so successful they barely noticed the most beautiful days of summer outside our windows!  And they certainly never asked “When will I use this?”

Includes student instruction sheets, grading, and lots of options to fit your classroom needs and time frame.

Note: The Tri-fold boards work really well for this project.  And, if students don’t take them home, some construction paper refreshes them for reuse.
CDickson Profile PicClair Dickson, high school English teacher, likes free eTexts and Project Based Learning to stretch her meager budget. Visit her store High School English on a Shoestring Budget to stretch your budget.
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Feature Fridays: Inequalities Hangman

Do you struggle to reach all students when it comes to independent practice of algebra skills? Adding the twist of HANGMAN to math work has enabled me to engage more learners in my classroom. Sure it spices up humdrum math drills, but I really love that I can reach all ability levels with this style of practice. Check out the preview for this Linear Inequalities Hangman.

inequalities hangman thumbnail

Two levels of the same worksheet is just the starting point for differentiation. A variation of messages on worksheets allows students to collaborate yet discourages cheating. Encourage those students who finish well ahead of all the others to create new messages to use on future students. A blank template is provided. Narrow down letter choices for students who just need a little extra help. Finally, for that student who really is much lower than all the rest, pull out that blank template again. Let them choose a message and correctly solve only those 6 letters. Then, let them experience a moment of pride (or sadistic pleasure) as you publish (as quickly as possible) that worksheet for other students to use.

AlgebraSimplifiedIconDawn is a secondary Algebra teacher in Maryland with a B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education and a Masters in Information Science and Learning Technologies.
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Friday Feature – Trashketball

I hate to admit it, but the truth is that there have been times during my 16 years as an English teacher when someone could hear a pin drop in the classroom. Although this might seem like a good situation, the silence wasn’t because my students were enthralled with their learning. In fact, an observer might have seen a few heads down on desks, and maybe even heard a little snoring.
But as most English teachers know, making grammar an exciting topic to learn can seem like a Herculean task. While grammar may be fascinating to fellow English teachers (we can talk about comma splices for an entire lunch period), most secondary students (and many adults) could care less about parts of speech, kinds of sentences, types of phrases, or innumerable other grammar concepts. And in the past, it didn’t help that I had resorted to boring lectures and worksheet practice.
However, happily this all changed a few years ago with the help of a student intern. He told me about a game that he played in his science class called “Trashketball.”


Image Copyright © 2014 Craig Costantino

It is brilliant! Students review concepts and shoot baskets into a trash can! My students love it because the game gets them out of their seats and motivates them with their love of sports. In our school, we have 90 minute class periods, and anyone who has had to sit for an hour and a half, can most likely commiserate with my students.
Additionally, the game encourages friendly competition because the teacher arranges the class into teams. This team approach is an excellent way to meet the needs of all students when they are arranged in heterogeneous groups. The rules also encourage students to work together on their teams to solve the answers; they can keep trying to find a correct answer even after they have made a mistake.
The game doesn’t require many materials, and my Trashketball products make it easy to play! I provide power point Trashketball games that include detailed rules and explanations for both the students and the teacher. Furthermore, each game provides a brief review of its topic and includes several rounds of practice exercises. My top-selling game reviews verbal phrases, but there are a variety of games to play addressing multiple concepts. Here are a few:

Pronoun and Antecedent Agreement       SAT PracticeAntecedent hhAkgr  nneeme
Pronoun and Antecedent AgreementSAT Practice

Or even get a bundle that can last 8 weeks!
CoverGrammar Trashketball Review Bundle

OC_BEACH_TEACHER_revised_finalKim, the OCBeach Teacher,  is a National Board Certified English teacher who is currently teaching American Literature and AP English Literature and Composition.  She shares classroom ideas and tips on her OCBeachTeacher Facebook Page.
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