The Secret Sauce to 1-1 Learning

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

This year, our school was nearly jumping out of their seats to get their laptops. The kids finally each have a laptop! But, it quickly became our turn as the teachers to know what to do with them.

And, as I walked down the hallway during my plan period, I realized what teachers were doing with them…having the students keep them closed.

I heard the same thing coming from each room: “Who told you to get out your laptop?” “Why is your laptop open?” “You should know to have that closed!” “Does it say anywhere that you should be on your laptop right now?”

Of course, if you’ve taught middle school for even a hot second, you understand that middle school students have very little self control. So, I joined in with reminding students to close their laptops until otherwise told to open them. And, as I walked down the hallway day after day, I kept hearing the same thing.

So, week #2, I changed the rule. Ah, the sweet victory of secret sauce.

My students came into my classroom, itching to open their laptops. And I told them to do so every single time they entered my room.

Yes, you heard me right. Instead of having the expectation be that their laptops are closed until told otherwise, in my classroom, they are required to have them OPEN.

I’m a big fan of warm-up’s for class, as I believe they help the students focus in from the previous class period as well as the hustle and bustle from the hallway. Previously, I had been having my students journal about different prompts each day on paper, but this year, I have digitized it. I plan to offer these on my TPT store each month, so keep your eye out for that!

When my students enter the room, they see the day’s prompt is up on the board, and they know that the expectation is that they are to have their laptops open, typing about the prompt before I come in from greeting them in the hallway. I’m sneakily getting my kids to write about a paragraph at the start of every class!

Here is an example of one of my peardeck slides. My students go to the website, Pear Deck, and type their response. I can log in later to see what they write.

My district has recently adopted a website called Pear Deck, where teachers can present a lesson via google slides and it enables it to be interactive to anyone who has entered a class code. If you don’t have access to Pear Deck, you could always do this in google classroom, too, and have students submit the lessons by google forms.

I love using this at the beginning of class because my students are “tricked” into working hard, gets them settled for learning, and the urge to use their devices later in the class (if we aren’t using them during the actual lesson that day) goes down. It’s a win-win!

What is your secret sauce to 1-1?

Grading Conferences

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

Ah, the sweet smell of spring, the sound of birds chirping, and the taste of state testing right around the corner. This year, I spent my week before state tests in a sort of unconventional way: conferencing with students.

Many educators can become stressed during this time, and in my opinion, all that does is stress out the kids. This can’t help them do better on the test. My one-on-one conferences were a breath of fresh air! It worked out perfectly for my class because they had just finished writing an essay on a short story, and then they moved on to another essay comparing two poems. While students worked independently at their desks on those, I conferenced at my front table with them one-by-one.

Here’s why I liked it:

1. It made me step away from my class and just let my students write. All too often, I see my students thinking about a question and immediately raising their hand to ask me. I told them openly last week that they needed to dig deep in their noggins for the answer because at this point, they know what they’re doing! We’ve been doing this all year. Don’t worry, though, I still offered some support. I set up my deli counter (hehe) by cutting out numbers and placing them into a bowl. As I was working independently to grade a student’s essay during our conference, other students could politely take a number from my deli if they truly felt that they couldn’t continue writing without my assistance. This kept the questions to a minimum but still allowed me to help those who were really struggling. Plus, the class loved me saying “Number 2 to the deli” in a silly voice with my hand making a microphone. Too fun. You can purchase my deli number “kit” on my TPT here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Deli-Numbers-4521751

2. I was able to give in-person feedback to students during our conference. Especially at the middle school level, kids look at their grade, say “okay!” and then recycle the paper on the way out the door, without seeing why they got the grade they got (let alone the hours of writing comments all along the margins of their papers.) This forced every single student that I teach to sit down with me and process through why they wrote what they did. Then, they were able to go back to their seats and make sure to perfect elements they were missing or continue doing the great things they were already doing in their next essays.

3. It saved me a lot of grading time. Sure, it took me 4 days in class to meet with each student individually, but I wasn’t dozing off at 9:30 at night, trying to multitask by listening to The Voice in the other room. I also didn’t have to write out many comments because the kids were hearing them right from my mouth! I really liked this aspect a lot. It felt like time put to good use.

4. It instilled confidence in my students before the big state test. While I did give honest feedback, I’m pleased to say that the vast majority of my students earned an A on their essay. It felt good for me to assess where they were again, and I know it felt so good for my students when I told them, “If you do this next week, you’re going to get a great score on the test.” In fact, for a handful of my students, I couldn’t even find anything for them to improve upon, as they had followed all that we learned this year to a T. Their face lit up when I told them that I thought this was the best potential work they could hand in and I had no corrections for them. (I was sensing a lot of them going home and telling their families that news, as I’m far from an easy grader!!) And, while I gave constructive feedback where I could, I think every student left my table thinking that they had improved a lot this year and that I was proud of them. My hope is that they remember that when they go to write on the state test, with confidence in their hearts 🙂

I loved grading conferences, and I’d love to hear how they go in your classroom if you try them out! Here’s the link again to my deli numbers if you think they would be useful in your classroom, whether you could use them when you try out conferencing or if you use them when working with small groups, etc. It’s a great way to teach students to be polite when you are working with other students and gives them a way to signal they need help without interrupting! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Deli-Numbers-4521751

How Mini-Lessons Changed my Classroom

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

During much of my career so far, I’ve fit into the traditional teacher model, where the span of my unit usually fits in some way into the following setup: I deliver content up front through an example, I complete a model with my class, I let my students pair up and work on it with someone else, and then I have them try it themselves. During this last step, hopefully I can assess their learning.

The last days of this model are dreaded to me, as either one of two extremes happens: I either am bored out of my mind, begging students to ask me for help, or I am swamped with questions because my students realize at that point that they don’t quite get it yet. In this latter case, usually the questions are the same over and over again. Perhaps you’re in the same boat.

To change this, I’ve started offering Mini-Lessons in my classroom. These lessons are always review topics on something we are either practicing now or something that we’ve been building on this year that some students might still not have down yet.

You can download a copy of my mini lesson request forms at the following link on my TPT store for just $1! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mini-Lesson-Request-Forms-4492079

As an example, my students are currently writing an essay using evidence from the text. Because many of the students are working at different spots and different paces, today I offered these two mini lessons (shown above) so that they could receive help from me in a small group. We learned the graphic organizer yesterday, and we’ve been building on that thesis statement all year. It’s interesting to see that not many needed help on the more recent thing we’ve learned–the graphic oraganizer–but more needed help on the bigger monster, AKA their thesis.

I have students sign up for the mini-lessons on my whiteboard so I can gain an understanding of what topics are needed. If one fills up the entire way, I will usually deliver more whole-class instruction on it before holding the mini-lesson. (I can guess that it might then be a fault of my own that so many students still need help.) I also always tell my students that if they didn’t originally sign up, but then decide they could use the help, they are always welcome to just join us without officially writing their name. While I deliver the mini-lesson content to the students who sign up, the rest of the class is working at their own pace, quietly.

During the mini lesson session, I usually break out small white boards that I can show the group of students examples on. The mini lessons are totally unscripted; I don’t prepare worksheets or extra work for the kids. I simply talk with them and do an informal review presentation to them, specific to their concerns.

For the lessons, we usually just sit on the floor in a circle together. I sit, too, and I like that this shows I’m down on their level and approachable. For some classes, of course, I’m not able to do this as I need to keep a better watch on some of the kids for behavior reasons. You’ll know when it’s a good idea and when it’s not. Sitting at another table so you are more elevated can eliminate any of these concerns.

So, why do I think this mini-lesson system has changed my classroom?

  1. It helps my students with their retaining skill. Middle school students in general have a short attention span, but we also need to consider our students with specific educational needs regarding attention. When you think about all of the instruction that they receive throughout the day, it’s clear that they learn A LOT and expecting all students to just pick up from where they left off the day before (AKA maybe 9 classes prior) is unrealistic and almost unfair. Some students are able to jump right in, but for some, having 5-10 minutes to review with the teacher can help them drastically.
  2. No matter how friendly or approachable you think you are, some students are still afraid to ask you questions. I’ve circulated the room over and over again and somehow missed (once for 2 days!) that one of my quieter students was stuck on something and was afraid to ask me for help or accept my help when I asked if she needed any. Because she was stuck, she was unable to complete the assignment on time. Whenever you offer specific sessions, it allows kids to just sit and process the information again. This requires very little bravery!
  3. They create “positive peer pressure” where students are able to see that they’re not the only ones who need help. There’s something cool in middle school about joining in with the group, and I love to see the “cool” thing being getting extra help from the teacher! Using the sign up’s or seeing the circle of students form makes other students want to join in. I love this!
  4. It challenges my class to think more critically. For those days or periods that I was swarmed with questions, many of my answers ended up being either questions in return (trying to get them to figure it out on their own) or helping to point them to resources that I’ve given them that could assist them in figuring it out. Whenever I’m not circulating, and instead am giving mini lessons to small groups, it seems that many of my students back at their desks rely more on themselves to solve their problems by quietly asking a neighbor or checking their binder resources instead of always defaulting to me.
  5. I feel rejuvenated enough to make dinner, hang out with my husband, and play with my dog! On a serious note, I used to come home drained from answering 500 questions in one day (many of which were the same question over and over), so much so that when my husband would ask me what was for dinner, he would either receive a frowny face or a “is there a place you can find this information?” Not cool of me. Now that I can answer questions once with a small group of students all hearing the answer, I feel like I have the energy to still be a human. And that’s honestly important.

To help enhance your mini lesson system, I also provide my students half sheets in order to let them request what they want to learn during these mini sessions. Again, this helps my quieter students have a way to get the help that they need, and it helps me assess where my classes are at. You can pick up a digital download of this on my TPT for $1 by clicking this link! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mini-Lesson-Request-Forms-4492079

Mini lessons have changed the way independent work is completed in my classroom. I hope they help your classroom too! ❤ Mrs. Middle School

Movement in the Classroom

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

How do I get my students up and moving during instruction? How do I ensure that all of my students are engaged and learning? How do I make learning more fun?

Yesterday, I was the sub for gym class during one class period, and it opened me up to a whole new world! We played hockey, and while I’m still not completely sure that I understood the rules, I had a whistle, so I had a load of fun!

Because the kids were running, moving, talking, racing, and competing, they were so engaged in this hockey game. It blew my mind! They were all working so hard, yet having so much fun. What better way to learn! I truly believe that middle school students need to move in order to best learn. While sitting at a desk period after period can make your students easily become bored and lose focus, movement enhances their learning experience so much and makes what they are learning memorable.

While many days there might be more information that I need to get across in my classroom as compared to a gym class, my ultimate goal is to have my classroom be a space like what I saw in the gymnasium: we might get a little loud, but we laugh, we have fun, we compete, we move, and we are so engaged. I want these elements so that my students can be learning to their best potential, and I’m guessing that you do too!

There are several activities I do in my classroom to get my kids up and moving. Here are my top three favorites:

Station Rotation– Whenever I see a worksheet coming, I instead create questions on separate pages to post around my room. Because I have my students practice skills at stations so often, I have numbers posted on my walls around my classroom. This makes it easy to manage because my kids know exactly where to go when I declare that it is station time. My kids lovingly refer to this activity as “the whirlpool game” because whenever I want them to switch stations, I yell “whirlpool!” Who doesn’t love a swimming reference?! See this freebie on my TPT store, where you can download my pre-made station numbers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Station-Numbers-Freebie-4477703

Punctuation Pilates– Okay, so I know that this one is ELA-specific, but it could totally be modified for any multiple choice activity in your classroom, regardless of the subject area. In my Language Arts classroom, I wanted a fun game to get my students up and moving while practicing punctuation skills. I taught my students some “Pilates” poses that represented different punctuation marks that would be missing in the sentence. In the game, when I post a sentence on the board that is missing a punctuation mark, my students show me what mark should be inserted in the sentence by representing the mark with the pilates pose. My students were stretching, dancing, laughing, and most importantly learning! Plus, it was an easy way for me to quickly assess my students’ grammar progress and understanding without having a pile of papers to grade! I’d love for you to check out this activity on my TPT store here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Punctuation-Pilates-Game-4478792

4 Corners– This fun activity is great for any subject. Many times, I allow my students to work on an assignment in their table groups. But, because I think it’s important for them to talk with other members of the classroom and get up to move, I simply count them off by 4 and then instruct them to go to the four different corners to talk with different classmates about their answers. While they might only be up and moving for a couple of minutes, those minutes are truly important and beneficial to my antsy middle school students. Whenever it’s time to bring them back together, they are always ready to re-focus since they got a break from their desk!

Movement in the classroom is so crucial to student learning. What other ways do you get your students up and moving? Share below!

Hands-On Essay Scramble Game

Language Arts Resources

As many of you know, I teach language arts. It could easily be one of those subjects where the students are just sitting and writing. I do everything I can, though, to make it a hands-on subject.

One of my more recent favorite hands-on activities is my Essay Scramble Game.

If you have taught your kids a certain format or formula in order to help them remember elements of their essays (topic sentences, evidence, explanation, etc), this scramble “game” is super fun for them, while also acting as a quick learning check for the teacher.

For this particular activity, I write different essays on silly topics. From the picture, you might be able to see that it’s an essay about the reasons architecture is turning to building materials made of s’mores (chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers). I make up a silly essay because I feel this helps the kids have fun with it while also truly testing their knowledge of the formula. If they can correctly puzzle together an essay about buildings made of marshmallows, I know they understand the formula!

In my classroom, the kids work in small groups of around 4-5 students, and the group that puts the essay in the correct order first wins. And, while I’ve never done this, I love the idea of having the kids write silly essays themselves that I could print and cut apart for them!

Steps for this activity:

  1. Teach the writing formula you’d like them to use
  2. Write silly essays
  3. Print 6-8 copies of essays on card stock
  4. Cut apart essays and ideally laminate them
  5. Scramble up the sentences like puzzle pieces
  6. Put scrambled sentences into zip lock bags
  7. Play the scramble game!

Using hands-on activities like this in your classroom will help keep your students engaged and truly learning. I also love group activities like this because kids that might be falling behind on the instruction can hear other students teach it in this group setting. I often hear the kids say “no, this puzzle piece goes first because of the transition word!” or “this comes next because it’s the citation for the evidence.” Hearing their reasoning behind it is amazing!

How else are you using hands-on activities like this in your classroom? Comment below!

Discovery Centers in your Classroom

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

I had been seeing great ideas online about STEM centers in the classroom and was admittedly a bit jealous of the ease of incorporating something like this for a math-science classroom. At first, I had no ideas for how to make an application space like this in my language arts classroom. Once I began thinking and researching, though, it became apparent that regardless of what subject you teach, you could easily make a discovery center in your classroom.

Discovery centers are important spaces in our classroom. They should be an area where students are eager to come and learn something new–no teachers, assignments, or tests involved. Just pure fun and learning! Including an area like this in your classroom shows that you value learning, exploration, and the content you teach. It gives kids another way to connect with the content you teach and I’ve found it’s a good way to reel in those students who seem to want nothing to do with your subject. Think of it like hiding broccoli in a really yummy casserole; with enough cheese, I hear kids will eat just about anything!

For my classroom, I wanted a separate space that kids would feel it was a privilege to hang out. I envisioned it being a place that they would beg to be at; they’d want to leave lunch to eat here and they’d want to spend time here once their work was finished during study hall. So, during the summer, I re-purposed an older oak high-top table into an adorable farmhouse writing center for my classroom. You could definitely use a normal student desk, a small circular desk, or perhaps even create a discovery box or tray that contains materials that kids can unpack like a toolbox.

Here are some basic ideas for what you could put at this discovery area depending on your subject area:

Math: math blocks, cubes, word problems, calculators, graph paper, math card games

Science: building blocks, tinker gadgets (for building things), legos, nature supplies, research articles

Social Studies: news magazines such as Scholastic, trivia questions, maps, atlas, a laptop for research

Reading: Your favorite short stories, vocab flip books, flashcards, word games

Language Arts: stationary, gel pens, story starters, word games, madlibs

When I began to offer this area, my sign-up sheet was full to the brim during the first day! My kids were so excited to work at it, share stories, write letters, and play word games. It made me thrilled to see that taking a hands-off approach allowed them to simply explore, discover, and learn.

It makes me think a little about evaluating our students… seeing them learn so much at this area with so little pressure makes me wonder how much more they could learn without our constant assessments. That, my friends, is perhaps for a different post. 🙂 Happy Discovering!

Socratic Seminars

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

After attending a professional development session with my supervisor this summer, I became very intrigued in Socratic Seminar. This is interesting because I tend to stray from educational fads. They come and go, and I feel that I’m creative enough to make my own styles in my classroom. There was something about these types of discussions that I really saw beneficial, though. Many educators do Socratic Seminars differently, so in my opinion, if your students are creating questions and having discussions about them, every other aspect is pretty much fair game for the teacher’s discretion.

Socratic Seminars are based around Socrates, the philosopher. The premise of a Socratic Seminar is that students prepare questions to ask during a whole-class discussion on a shared text.


To find yourself, think for yourself.

Socrates

What better way to enhance my students’ critical thinking and analyzing skills?! First, I want to share with you the five things I’ve incorporated into my Socratic Seminars that have been helpful to their success.

  1. I give my students sentence frames in order to help them speak kindly and academically. I require my students to keep these sentence frames on their desks during their discussion. Different sections on the sentence starters worksheet are: To agree or add on, to disagree, to change the subject, and to add textual evidence. The one that always makes me smile is when one of my students says, “I believe we’ve exhausted this portion of the conversation, would anyone mind if I moved onto another subject?” I mean, guys, these kids are 11 years old, and hearing them speak so intelligently is adorable. I felt it was necessary to teach them this skill, though, because without these sentence starters, the conversation can be quite awkward and choppy!
  2. Before each Socratic Seminar, we go over speaking guidelines. In these guidelines, students are reminded to not interrupt others, to not raise their hands (discussion should flow pretty smoothly), and to use the text to support their answers. We also talk about how to not dominate the conversation and how to kindly invite others to speak up who may be a little more shy. During the discussion, I tend to be an active listener but try to stay out of it as much as I can. Because of my large class sizes, from time to time, I help students who give me the “help, I want to talk but I’m so quiet” look. 🙂
  3. In order to encourage my students to move the conversation along and all have a chance to speak, I have used different manipulatives. One item I have used is a soccer ball. I found this resource from Ashley Bible’s web page. You can check this out below. I have also given my students two pennies and told them they were required to put in their “two cents” before the class was over. They really liked this and tied right into the book we are reading, which is The Phantom Tollbooth. Who doesn’t love a good pun?! http://www.buildingbooklove.com/2017/01/how-to-liven-up-your-socratic-seminar.html
  4. I made a self-grading rubric where students take ownership of their own participation. On it, they tally mark how many times they speak and then grade themselves out of 5 points. I’ve attached a picture of this below. On the rubric, they also check mark if they have questions prepared for the discussion. I require that they prepare at least 3 different types of questions for the discussion: a connection question, a text-based question, and a deep/higher order thinking question. Most times, I give students the score they gave themselves, but I also keep track of the participation on a notepad on my desk. I write down their name when they talk, put a check mark by their name if they talk more than once, and star by their name if they encourage others to turn to a certain page to read a passage.
  5. Of course, there are always students who do not speak up during the discussion. Sometimes, there is simply a lack of time, but other times, they are just shy. In addition, I wanted a way for students who are absent to participate in our discussion. To give these students a place to either remediate their scores or get a score to begin with (if they were absent), I created different grids on a website called flipgrid, where students can post videos. During their video, I require them to ask one of the questions they had prepared, a response to a question, and to use their novel to support their response with evidence. http://flipgrid.com

Lastly, there are three main positive impacts I have seen in my classroom since I’ve started using Socratic Seminars:

  1. My classroom culture is better. During our socratic seminar, students use sentence starters and our discussion guidelines to invite others to speak, kindly change the subject, and even politely disagree with other students. I feel that taking a class period to let the kids lead the discussion instead of me has given many of them confidence and allowed them to rely on each other. I also see them encourage each other and work together to learn as much knowledge about the section as they can. Love it!
  2. My students are becoming better at public speaking and listening. It is no surprise that this is one of the PA standards includes there very things. In a socratic seminar, we put the chairs into a big circle and try our best to only have one student speak at once. Let me tell you, this is hard, as one of my classes has 34 students! We once tried to separate the class into 2 separate circles, but it didn’t work. Don’t be afraid to experiment, though! The kids have been super flexible as we test out different ideas.
  3. My kids are getting better at writing. There is no writing involved in the socratic seminar (besides preparing their questions), but they are doing SO WELL with finding text evidence to support their arguments. Whenever they have the opportunity to write on other days, I can see that this is improving in that area due to their mastery in our seminar. This has been an unexpected, yet awesome, perk. They are also finding what is important in the text. When we started socratic seminars, many of the questions were basic, but now, students are asking really great, text-based, challenging questions that provoke solid discussion.

I’m still far from being a socratic seminar master, but I’m proud to say that the kids are doing a really great job in my class with this! My hope is that something in this blog post helped you if you haven’t yet conducted a socratic seminar in your class. If this idea doesn’t apply to you, I hope that it at least inspires you to take a risk in your class and try something new and student-lead!

An Interest in Innovation

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

As a 6th grade teacher, I pride myself in making my classroom a place where students enjoy being. Seeing smiles on their faces or seeing them rush to get to my room makes me feel that, with small steps, I’ve successfully gotten to this goal for many of them.

My school district has spent a lot of time and energy this year with professional development on the topic of innovation. Much of this training revolves around technology, but I believe that stopping the innovation conversation at technology results in truly missing the mark.

If I could make up my own definition in innovation, it would simply be “thinking outside of the box.” Sure, technology can most certainly be incorporated to help influence innovation, but it is certainly not the end goal.

While many days go by and I feel like my kids are happy, learning a lot of new information, and applying their learning in fun, creative ways, I often find in my self-reflection that I feel my kids are coming up short in something. You guessed it: innovation. I made it a goal for this week to do 3 things to make my class more innovative.

Students used this soccer ball as a way to start discussions during our Socratic Seminar. I color-coded the spaces on the ball to represent different levels of questions that students could ask.
  1. Pick-your-own-project– It’s sort of like a fun shopping experience for proving their learning. Kids in my ELA6 class are getting up to 5 options (yes, 5!) to show their learning during each section of our novel. Some options this week included sculpting a character from our novel, making a movie about a character, or creating a social media page for a character. We have a show and tell time on the day the projects are due so we can see how everyone studied characters in different ways.
  2. Socratic Seminar– Socratic Seminars encourage students to question as they read, then share those questions to lead a discussion in class. This method is based off of Socrates himself! While there are several variations on the Socratic Seminar, today was the first one I ever lead. My enriched students formed questions and had a discussion among themselves in a super big circle about the book. There was a lot of academic talk and I was really impressed with this. Later, I’ll link more directions to how to make these seminars most effective (once I polish them myself!). I used a color coded soccer ball today in class to help our conversation move more smoothly. To add to the innovation, I also had my students keep track of how many times they spoke during the discussion and grade themselves on a self-reflection rubric. Again, more info to come on this!
  3. Flipgrid– Flipgrid is an online social learning platform where kids can make short videos and submit them. In a way, it is sort of like a vlog for classrooms. Other students in the class can view the videos and even like and make comments. This week was also the first time that I used this tool, and what better way to be innovative! So far, I’ve used it as a supplement to my in-class Socratic Seminar in order to allow the quieter and absent kids a place to prove their knowledge of our novel. Best part about this? It’s free!

What ways have you been innovative in roles? Comment below!

Giggles, Grins, and Belly Laughs

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

“Snip, snip, giggle, snip.” A few kids turned around while I was talking about the test that is scheduled for next week. “Snip snip.” I didn’t see the scissors, but I did see the grin.

“Good morning, sir,” I smiled at him. “May I ask what you are cutting?”

He held up a menu, neatly cut into three pieces. Behind the menu was his big smile.

Let me step back a moment. During the first semester of the year, we worked through parts of speech as our grammar skill. After many assignments, quizzes, and flipped classroom videos so they could learn at home, I had students work in groups as a final culminating project to demonstrate their knowledge. For the project, students had to create restaurant menus and label certain amounts of the different parts of speech. They needed to include interesting-named food entrees, sides, beverages, etc on a colorful menu, without forgetting, of course, a creative restaurant name.

At our restaurant grand opening party (oh yeah!) students presented their menus to some very hungry customers (cough cough students). That day, there was a group that made a fast-food themed restaurant where every food item on their menu was smothered, dipped, soaked, or fried in grease. They really did great with their verbs! During their sales pitch, I laughed so hard I cried. Honestly. Middle schoolers are so funny!

Another group of boys named their fancy steakhouse Forknife. Due to the Fortnite video game craze, their restaurant was a hit (rightfully so)! As I passed back their graded menus today, one student began to cut his apart. All his group members were so proud of their assignment that they wanted to share their finished project. So, 1/3 of a menu was all they had, but a belly laugh from their teacher was the result!

My wish for you, as we begin 2019, is that your job makes you laugh more than it makes you cry.

If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you’re not thinking hard enough.

Kid President

One of my favorite little dudes of all time, Kid President, said that great statement. I’ve modified it for today: If you can’t think about anything to laugh about, you’re not thinking hard enough. Giggle on! Enjoy yourself!