6 Ways to Create Warmth & Joy in Your Classroom in December


Happy December, Everyone!

I am so excited to join 27 teacher bloggers in the 12 Day of Christmas Blog Hop and Giveaway.  We are all discussing six ways we create comfort and joy in our classrooms, and you can check out all of these bloggers right HERE.  You will get to meet all the bloggers, and see the schedule of all the blog posts.  In addition, we are giving away four pretty amazing prizes!

Raffle #1 (December 3rd) - $25 to Barnes and Noble
Raffle #2 (December 6th) - $75 to Target
Raffle #3 (December-9th) - $100 to TpT
Raffle #4 (December 12th) - $200 GRAND PRIZE to Amazon

You can enter the giveaway right HERE!

6 Ways to Create Warmth & Joy in My December Classroom

1.  Instilling Kindness:

Besides being an English teacher, one of my most important goals as a teacher is to instill kindness in my students.  I had the opportunity to teach Character Education for a few years, and we spent a tremendous amount on this subject.  In my classroom, I make sure it is repeated and learned.  

Last year, I created a kindness calendar, and started a campaign called, "Ignite Kindness." Check out the free calendar HERE.  Feel free to use in your classroom! My 8th grader created a hashtag on Instagram for this purpose.  

Using Class Dojo in the Middle School Classroom


Hi Everyone!

I wanted to share with you one of my classroom management ideas I use with my 7th graders.  You may have heard of Class Dojo, but if you are a middle or high school teacher, you normally do not see it used at our level.  It seems to be used primarily at the elementary level, and middle school teachers may not feel a need for it because they believe their students will find it to be "babyish".  Let me start by saying, my 7th graders love it, and because they are often competitive, it makes for a great incentive program in the classroom.

How does Class Dojo work?

First, Class Dojo is free.  All you have to do is sign up for an account.  Once you create yourself an account, you can set up your classrooms. The Class Dojo interface is very easy to use, and it is simply adding your class by "adding a classroom".  You will name your class, and then begin adding students.  I added my students individually by first name, last initial; however, you can enter your students' names in any fashion.  In addition, Class Dojo also has an easy upload, where you can download your rosters from Microsoft Excel.  You then can decide if you would like to invite parents to see their child's work.  I opt out of this, especially since I use this for incentives in the classroom and not specifically for classroom management.

Engaging Bell Work Activities and Websites




Hi Everyone!

Happy almost November!  Do you believe it?!?! This year is flying by.  I am in the throws of my short story unit with both my 7th and 8th graders, and soon enough, we will be reading our first novel.

This year, I have implemented bell work for the first time.  I have seen bellringers on Teachers Pay Teachers, and I implemented bellringers with my 8th graders last year; however, I will admit it was slightly disorganized.  This year, I have stuck to a schedule with my 8th graders, which I will share in a bit.  First though, I want to tell you about the bell work I have created for my 7th graders and work that they ACTUALLY rave over!

In the last two weeks, I have heard the following comments: "Mrs. Crouch...I love doing the bell work.  It is so much fun!" and, "This is my favorite part of the day."  I know...you would not think a 7th grader would say this about "work", but somehow I have hooked them.  I created the bell work with the intentions of keeping my 7th graders busy for the first five minutes, but I thought, "What a great product for TpT!", so you can find my bell work in my store.  I have gotten some great feedback, and my sellers look and ask for it each month!

Creative Writing Prompts That Will Get Your Students Writing (Particularly Boys) and Don't Suck!




Hi Everyone!

I hope you are having a wonderful September, and you have not been affected by these awful hurricanes that seem to not want to leave the islands and the mainland alone.  My thoughts are with those who have been affected by Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

My very good friend and collegue, Mrs. Jayne Traver, actually inspired this blog post.  Jayne is teaching an 8th grade creative writing course for the first time this year. When Jayne first found out she was teaching this course over the summer, she called me with such excitement because she is in the middle of writing her novel, and she couldn't wait to share and inspire her kids with her skills and techniques. She was also hoping her students would be able to inspire her as well, helping her gain momentum in her novel writing while her students worked on their own projects. This was also the first time our building has ever offered an elective like this for our 8th graders, so it was really energizing.

Teaching Your Students to Elaborate on Their Writing & Thinking


Hi Everyone!

As many of us are readying our classrooms to return back to school, I wanted to share something that works in my classroom when it comes to having your students elaborate on their writing and thinking.  This is usually a difficult skill for students, especially for middle school students. Middle school students do not always have the cognitive maturity to make deep inferences, and their explanations are usually vague and lack thoroughness.  Let me share with you with works in my classroom with elaboration:

Normally, in writing, our students elaborate when responding to a quotation, text-based evidence, and literature (fiction & non-fiction), and this goes for any subject.  Again, when we ask our students to elaborate on their thinking, it usually falls short.

I use a two-step method:

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