With the STAAR test (state standardized test) less than 2 weeks away, I am having to dig a little deeper to motivate my 8th graders.  I was wracking my brain over Spring Break last week to think of a motivational tool and then I remembered my STAAR students incentive that I used several years ago with my 5th graders.  When I went to find the file, I knew it needed to be updated.  No cute fonts anywhere in sight, which is just unacceptable for me nowadays. It took a whole whopping 10 minutes for me to fix it up and I am happy with the end product.

Basically the students can earn STAAR student tickets in 2 ways:
  1. By making good grades on any review work.- You would be amazed by how much harder they work when there is some kind of a reward. (And yes it works for 8th graders!)  I have had 90s & 100s from some of my lowest students the last few days.  (Think about it... they are rewarded if they pass their STAAR test by not having to take it again or attend summer school, so I am just trying to get them to push through until its over.)
  2. Participating in review activities. - I love when the students lead the instruction instead of me. They have an insight into the lessons and topics that are priceless.  This seems to be an incentive to those who are usually quiet.

What do I do with the tickets?
  • At the end of each period, students put their tickets into their period's fancy labeled brown paper bag.
  • I also staple them to any graded review work.
  • At any given time, I can draw names for prizes.  Now, this doesn't have to cost you money... You could you passes you print up, whether they be 5 extra points on a daily grade or a late homework pass.  I will also let them pick from candy or ice cream from our cafeteria.
  • I gage when I pick on how effective the tickets are.  If I can tell that students are starting to get over it, I will pull a ticket and viola they are back in the game.

These STAAR student motivation tickets are a freebie in my store.  Head over and check them out!
(I need to update the file in the AM-3/18 because I left my flash drive at school.  There will also be a STAR student added for those non-Texas Peeps)

I joining in with the ladies over at Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop.  I have a LONG list of things I need to do, but I'd rather procrastinate and blog about them.  Its not like I've had an entire week off for spring break to get things done, right?

Head on over and join me in my procrastination... :)

Hello all and welcome to my first ever linky party... {how is that even possible when I have been blogging for over 3 years.}
With Spring Break coming to an end, I thought that it would be the perfect time to do some reflecting.  Reflecting all that I got done over my break and a few reasons why I am not ready to go back to school.  Its totally up to you!  The only thing that I ask is that you show some love to those that link up around you. 
{Follow Farley's rule of 3.  Leave some love for the 2 in front and behind you.}
I had an amazing weekend to start off my spring break.  I traveled to Fredericksburg, Texas to go on tours of wineries (aka drink wine).  It was my first time to visit and I can't wait to make it back.  We only visited 5 wineries and there were a plethora more, so I obviously need to plan another trip soon.
{After the STAAR test anyone?!?}
I also had the pleasure to hang out with some teacher friends last night.  We decided to have dinner at Carraba's and painting at Painting with a Twist.  It was like my last hurrah before going back to school and getting back on track with my eating.  We had a blast... there might or might not have been a contest between two groups.   Of course my group won... winning!!

With as much fun as I have had, let's talk about a few reasons why I am NOT ready for Spring break to be over. 
I definitely haven't unpacked my suitcase from this past weekend, which also means that I haven't done laundry.  Joy!  I know its everyone's favorite pastime. {No judgment of the pictures}
I also haven't completed anything school related even though I made this on Tuesday...
That means that my Fri-Sun will be spent finishing my to-do list.  I am one of the best procrastinators I know, but I always get everything done.  So I guess that means I have to do more than take my papers to grade out of the bag, right? Grrr!
I am thankful that I have had a week to refresh and recharge.  The STAAR {state test} for my kiddos is March 31st, just 2 weeks to review.  I am ready to get back and hit the ground running with some amazing test prep reviews.  Be sure to check back for those!! {And share if you have any great ideas..}
Now its your turn... Link up & join the party!

I was super excited when I saw this linky go live last week.
As an 8th grade teacher, I, to the surprise of many, do not use many worksheets.  By the time students reach 8th grade, you would think that they have kind of leveled out. 
This is a very big misconception. 
 I have students who range from a 3rd grade reading level (ELLs) to a 12th grade reading level.  I have to be mindful of my instruction and assessing/checking for comprehension due to this.  Yes, worksheets do have their place (Standardized testing format), but they are much harder to differentiate, so I choose to work smarter and NOT harder.
I am always scouring TPT for open ended task cards that will work for my kiddos and recently found some that are amazing. 
Story Element Response Task Cards
Click image for TPT page.
They are from the fabulous Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6.  I know they say they are for up to 6th grade, but these worked perfectly as a scoot activity with my 8th graders after we finished our quick novel study of Freak the Mighty

 I gave them 5 minutes at each topic, so they had to stay on task and focused the whole time.  They even commented how much they enjoyed it.  Shaking things up causes student engagement to grow, which is always a plus when you have 54 minute periods.
This was also perfect "test prep".  The cards get progressively harder, but all require textual evidence.  This is a must for my 8th graders because the majority of the questions on the STAAR (Texas Standardized Test) are higher level thinking.  No more of those easy hunt and find answers.  I am excited to be able to use this earlier in the year for the next school year.
Here are some examples of student work:

I can't wait to check out these (which I went and purchased the minute I saw the engagement level the fiction cards achieved)...
Nonfiction Elements Response Task Cards
I can't wait to read about more non-worksheet options and continue to share mine on Wednesdays... Head over and check it out!


I know I am super late to the party, but I guess its better late than never.  Currently... here I come!!
  • So lets talk about all the reasons that "The Voice" is awesome...
    • Adam is a hottie
    • Blake is smoking
    • Adam is a hottie
    • Pharell has a way with words that would make me putty in his hands
    • Adam is a hottie
    • Christina has amazing girl power
    • Adam is a hottie
    • The talent they have this year might be the best yet
    • Adam is a hottie
  • Lazy days of watching TV and doing nothing of substance are few & far between for me.  I am happy that I set sometime aside today to just do a whole bunch of nothing.
  • My spring break to do list keeps growing...

  • My closets are filled to the brim with clothes and shoes.  They are busting at the seams.  I started to go through at Christmas to weed out what I haven't worn in the last year or the items that are too small for me.  This ended up in a pile in my closet door and still lays there waiting for me to move it.  I want to get it together, so that I can donate the clothes in the next few weeks.  If I get rid of clothes, that means I can buy more, right?!?
  • Our state test in 8th grade Reading is just 2 weeks after we come back from Spring Break.  I need to plan out hands on highly engaging activities for my kids to complete to review.  I think I have a few ideas up my sleeve and hope to make them come to life this week. (If they turn out fabulous, I plan to share.)
  • Spring Break started for me this week and it is jam packed.
    • Winery tours in Fredericksburg with my mother and sister.

    • Painting with some teaching friends.

    • Volleyball Tourney
Wow I had A LOT to say this month!! Head on over to Farley's blog to join in on the currently fun...

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