I'm linking up with the fantastic teachers at Secondary Smorgasbord for this post!

What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!


Seven more weeks (and counting) until that glorious time of year called summer break is upon us. Next week is my school system's Spring Break, so the excitement is palpable. And (minus this morning's torrential downpour) the weather is seductive.

If you've missed my Spring Survival Tips, Countdown to Summer Break, so far, check out #9 here and #8 here. They're technological in nature, but this week's tip is all about nature.

What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!
Being inside is torture when it's 70 degrees and sunny outside, and that's such a small window here in Georgia. By the time school's out, temperatures will be approaching 90 with humidity so thick that no one with air conditioning will want to go outside.

So it's important to give into the fleeting siren-call of spring while we still can and enjoy the outdoors.

Which leads me to Spring Survival Tip #7....

Give In and Go Outside!

Outside ventures lend themselves to low-tech lessons. Throughout my years as a secondary teacher, I have taught both English and social studies--both middle and high school. Here are five of my favorite outdoor activities.

What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!


What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!In honor of National Poetry Month, coming up in April, why not have your students write poems about nature?

Picture Nature Haikus decorated with clover and blades of grass, a cinquain  composed on a five-petaled flower, Odes to Nature....You get the idea.

What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!Grab a wiffle ball set, and head down to the baseball field (or the school's front lawn). Divide the class into two teams (this one is fun if you can combine with another class). Students must earn a turn at bat by answering a question correctly (borrow a cordless microphone from the drama department if you can, so the questions and answers can be heard by all).

Play according to the rules of baseball, except they earn a turn at bat for a correct answer and score a point each time a player crosses home plate.

What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!I use this one in sociology for culture, groups, and socialization, but why not have students hunt for examples of their vocabulary words? Or give the students clues and hide answers to guided notes around the school campus (an entertaining way to take notes). I only use scavenger hunts with classes I can trust!


What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!On a chart, flipbook, or foldable, have students find examples of figurative language in nature. For example, "The sun smiled warmly on me," "The flowers smell as sweet as honey," "The sky is a blue sea with tufts of white foam...." You get the idea. Take colored pencils outside, and have the students illustrate their work.


What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!These are my favorite because they are appropriate for any subject, and they introduce students to multiple books. Take the students outside to read and discuss their books. It's as simple as that, and more engaging because they're outside.



Do you ever have class outside? What are some things you do? Leave a comment below to let me know.

I'll be taking next week off for spring break, but be sure to check back in two weeks for Spring Survival Tip #6!

What's my seventh spring survival tip for teachers? I'm suggesting you give in and go outside! Your students will thank you, and there are SO MANY ways you can conduct low-tech but highly relevant lessons that cover social studies, English language arts, and more. Click through to read my suggestions!
ELA Buffet & Desktop Learning Adventures
Curious to see What's Growin' in other secondary classrooms? Take a look!





photo credit: PhoTones Works #4939 via photopin (license)
Here in Georgia, we have eight weeks to go until summer break. Eight. Weeks. In other words--an eternity. A text came from our principal this morning after first block, "Watch out for dress code violations!"

Tempers and attention spans shorten right along with hem lines, and if you're anything like me, this is the most difficult time of the year. So in the spirit of spring, I'm doing a series every Monday (except for spring break :)) on tips for keeping the kids engaged and yourself sane. If you missed last week, you can check it out here.

Ready for spring survival tip #8 for teachers? This time, I'm suggesting that you ditch the textbook - if you can. If your school has access to iPads, Chromebooks, or computers, then utilize those! It's easy to make a blended classroom environment, and your students will appreciate the change. Click through to get more ideas, including how to make QR codes!
My department is fortunate enough to have an IPad Cart!
That leads us to this week:

Spring Survival Tip #8: Ditch Those Textbooks

If you can, that is. If you have access to tablets and/or smartphones, then with a bit of discernment, the internet can offer so much more than the dated textbook of one publisher, and (also with discernment) has a much better chance of engaging the students than opening the textbook to page 198.


Have students take virtual tours, analyze pictures, read primary sources, search for examples, watch tutorials, take online quizzes and surveys, study vocabulary on Quizlet....The possibilities are endless.

The ease of creating and using qr codes makes using the internet just as easy as flipping to a page. Gone are the days of laboriously typing out URLs. If you're late to the qr code bandwagon, it's easy and free to generate static qr codes. I tend to use qrstuff.com, but there are a ton of sites out there.

Ready for spring survival tip #8 for teachers? This time, I'm suggesting that you ditch the textbook - if you can. If your school has access to iPads, Chromebooks, or computers, then utilize those! It's easy to make a blended classroom environment, and your students will appreciate the change. Click through to get more ideas, including how to make QR codes!

Ready for spring survival tip #8 for teachers? This time, I'm suggesting that you ditch the textbook - if you can. If your school has access to iPads, Chromebooks, or computers, then utilize those! It's easy to make a blended classroom environment, and your students will appreciate the change. Click through to get more ideas, including how to make QR codes!
Click here to see the lesson my students are working on!
And so they learn (hopefully). Here, my sociology students are reading current articles. Their textbook was published in 2003, so that's a definite benefit.

I'm constantly pinning articles, pictures, and videos to Pinterest that I want my students to analyze so that I have a lot of up-to-date information to choose from. It's empowering not to be limited to a single source!


How do you "ditch those textbooks" in your classroom? Leave a comment below to let me know. And be sure to check back next Monday for Spring Survival Tip #7.

8 more weeks! Hang in there!





The Tools for Teaching Teens group over at Teachers Pay Teachers is kicking off this crazy month of college basketball with a major give-away. For the tip-off, we've put together a bundle of fantastic freebies from each of our stores. Click here to get them.
The Tools for Teaching Teens group came together to create a free bundle for March Mayhem, in addition to throwing a giveaway! Click through to learn more.
Get it Here

I hope you enjoy these freebies, but they're only the beginning. We've each placed paid products in different brackets. At the end of the tournament, the winning bracket will replace the freebies, but the bundle will remain free!

Click Here To See The Brackets...

And may the best team win!

Tools for Teaching Teens
On Pinterest
Tools for Teaching Teens is a group dedicated to finding and implementing best practices in secondary education. Our Pinterest Board is full of great ideas that you can use today!

Tools for Teaching Teens
Click Here to Visit Us on TPT

Which team are you cheering for? Leave a comment below to let me know!


What happens when hundreds of wonderful TpT sellers decide that a fellow teacher is in need?
A MASSIVE fundraiser happens! That's what!
Teachers Helping Teachers is what happens when the Teachers Pay Teachers seller community comes together to support one of their own through a challenging time. In this case, Teachers Helping Teachers is supporting Diana of Bionic Teacher, who suffered losing her leg after a terrible accident. Her strength and resilience are so inspiring, and we're proud to help her raise money to afford a bionic knee. Click through to learn more about Diana's story!

We call it Teachers Helping Teachers, and it came about after TpT teacher-authors heard the story of Diana Salmon, a New York teacher who lost a leg in a tragic hit and run accident.
Teachers Helping Teachers is what happens when the Teachers Pay Teachers seller community comes together to support one of their own through a challenging time. In this case, Teachers Helping Teachers is supporting Diana of Bionic Teacher, who suffered losing her leg after a terrible accident. Her strength and resilience are so inspiring, and we're proud to help her raise money to afford a bionic knee. Click through to learn more about Diana's story!
Read about Diana's Story Here!
Diana is an inspiration to all who know her, sending a message of strength and resilience by returning to the classroom just months after the accident.

Unfortunately, the extensive injuries Diana sustained require an expensive bionic knee for her to be at her dynamic best. This is where Teachers Helping Teachers comes in.

Diana's fundraising store, Bionic Teacher, is now the home of TEN limited edition resource bundles promising HUGE savings to all who purchase one. There is a bundle for everyone, and they all contain the most amazing products from top sellers! Best yet, 100% of the profits go to Diana's fund!
Bionic Teacher
Visit Her Store!
Visit Bionic Teacher, download the freebie for Diana's Story, and take a look at the bundles. You will be happy you did!

If you would like more information about Diana, go to


The frost has thawed, the snow has melted, and the stinky pear trees are blooming. The sun's out longer, and the students' attention is shorter--way shorter. "'Tis the season we must outlast them," a former principal of mine would begin to chant.
Here's the first of my spring survival tip series, with nine weeks to go until school is out for the summer: Use Kahoot in your classroom! Your students will find it highly engaging, and it's an interactive and fun way for them to learn at the end of the year. Click through to read more!
They look sweet, but don't get too close!

The first sign of trouble here in Georgia? Those nasty little pear trees. When they begin to bloom, it's all over in the classroom. Let's face   it, though--we can't join them, and it's really, really hard to beat      them. Exhausting. Giving up is very tempting. Very. Tempting.    

But we can't. It wouldn't be right. There are nine more weeks until summer. Nine often painfully long weeks, but there's still so much more to learn.

That's why from now through the end of the school year, I'll be blogging about SPRING SURVIVAL TIPS.

You know, those little tricks you find to keep the students engaged (and yourself sane) through the homestretch to summer. Let's face it, this is when we'd all rather be at the beach, but there are still EOCTs, CRCTs, SLOs, and any number of acronyms looming on the horizon. And let's not forget the actual intellectual development of our future (it's a shame I put that one last).

So, let's begin the countdown with #9--KAHOOT!


Here's the first of my spring survival tip series, with nine weeks to go until school is out for the summer: Use Kahoot in your classroom! Your students will find it highly engaging, and it's an interactive and fun way for them to learn at the end of the year. Click through to read more!

Kahoot is a website that you can use to create surveys and quizzes to engage the entire class in a little friendly competition--and inadvertently--review. Students use their smart phones or tablets, go to kahoot.it, and enter the PIN number of your quiz.

Students then create a nickname. "School-appropriate," I strongly caution. While they're logging in, I like to embed a short YouTube video for them to watch (see the tutorial).

The questions are projected onto the screen, students get a set amount of time to respond, and then the correct answer pops up. Students are scored on accuracy and speed.

And here's the best part: the top five contenders' names are projected on the screen at the end of each question. It's only a quiz, but the kids are insanely engaged--they fight like crazy to get their names in the top five.

And so they learn.

Interested? Here's a tutorial to get you started on Kahoot. You don't even have to create quizzes from scratch. Oh, yes, and it is most definitely free.
How do you keep your students engaged during the "home-stretch?" Leave a comment below to let me know. And be sure to check out all of my Spring Survival Tips: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.




photo credit: 08.PearTrees.MadisonPark.HyattsvilleMD.6April2013 via photopin (license)
As a history and English teacher, I love integrating the two subjects whenever possible. As an undergraduate, I double-majored in both.

History is more than war and politics - but many kids might not realize it. This is why I encourage the use of primary source analysis when teaching history, to help kids understand the cultural, religion, and social aspects of an era. Click through to read more about my ideas on this topic.

I've always loved reading and writing. Stories make the world go round. I love grammar and language (hard to believe that anyone can, but I do, and I know I'm not alone).

But the ultimate surprise to me was how hard I fell for history in college.

I remember the class. It was Cultural American History. I always liked world history, but up to that point, I thought American history was boring. Law this. Amendment that.

But in American Cultural History, we discussed everything from the impact of religion on colonial America to why American women started shaving their legs (an influence of Vaudeville, probably).

"Really?" I remember thinking. "History's not just about kings and wars?"

Most definitely not.

History is everything--from the clothes we wear to the books we read to the ideas we embrace--history is all encompassing.

My high school teachers (who were amazing, by the way) always focused on war and politics. I enjoyed it, but I didn't decide to make it my major until I jumped into that Cultural American History class and saw that history is about the everyday lives of people like you and me.

In tandem with the standards we are required to teach (and you know we have to teach them), I always try to add a bit of everyday life from the times. A warm-up about the "scandalous" waltz during the Napoleonic Era, a brief prezi about Ancient Egyptian music, a look at the newly discovered writing system of the Inca (a binary-style system)....

History is all-encompassing, and I want my students to understand that they are a part of it--both creating it and living in its midst. That is why I bring source analysis into the equation whenever I can.

I want students to see through primary sources what people were thinking at the time we are studying, and through secondary sources how historians can offer differing interpretations of the same events.

History is more than war and politics - but many kids might not realize it. This is why I encourage the use of primary source analysis when teaching history, to help kids understand the cultural, religion, and social aspects of an era. Click through to read more about my ideas on this topic.

History is rich--history is alive, and I believe my primary and secondary source analysis help students to see that.

I sell them individually here, but I'm also offering a bundle at a 20% discount. If you get it, the benefit is that as I add sources into it, you can download them at no additional cost.


Have students compare ancient flood stories, see first-hand how juries in Ancient Athens voted, trace the path of the triangular trade, compare the ideas of Adam Smith to Karl Marx, crack codes like cytologists did for the Zimmerman telegram, plus so much more!


Check out a preview of the bundle:

How do you use source analysis in your classroom? Leave a comment below to let me know!




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