Tag Archives: high school

Student Grade Checks and Accountability

About three years ago, my student teacher and I decided to implement a weekly grade check with our class.  It has since evolved.

First, the “West Wing” (i.e. Intervention  hallway) adopted this procedure to be completed in Core Plus More on Mondays.

Last year, 36 grade check sheets were added to the back of the student agenda and it became a school-wide project.

I made a few adjustments based on student and teacher feedback, and we are rolling out a new and improved version in the student agendas this year.

First, let me show you the cover of the agenda, because it is ADORABLE.

Designed by a student, this cover displays our “goal” for the year. Short and simple: BE KIND.

Next, a shot of the entire grade sheet along with a PDF for you to download.

The top half is where they login to Progress Book and record their grades (as well as color code.) This helps them visually notice progress or a downward trend.

This part is a little more challenging, because it requires students to go through each subject and look for M’s for missing work or L’s for late work. They also have to read teacher comments such as, “Needs to retake this quiz.”

Our Building Leadership Team decided we should purposefully instruct the students on how to do this grade check the first few weeks of school.  It is definitely a learning curve to this, especially for our 6th graders. In general, many students struggle with the goal setting as well.

I created a Google Slide show for the staff which they can share in their Tornado Times (which is when grade checks are done.)  Usually this is done on a Monday so that they have the week to work towards completing missing work.  I’ll attach a PDF of the slide show as well.

Some highlights first:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This process, while time-consuming, especially at the beginning of the year, has been well-received by our staff and students. Check out the links below for FREE downloads.

Grade Check Discussion

18-19 Agenda Book Grade Check Recording Sheet


Do you have a similar activity in your classroom or building?
What goes well? What needs to improve? 
I’d love to hear your ideas. Leave a comment. 


2018 First Day of School Scavenger Hunt

Viral videos and big moves in the NBA have led me to change up my scavenger hunt for the first day of school.  Click the link: 2018 Classmate Scavenger Hunt for the PDF.  See the links below for other versions of this activity.

Screenshot 2018-07-28 at 1.35.57 PM

2016 Classmate Scavenger Hunt

With the same students as last year….and so many exciting things happening this summer, I decided to update my Scavenger Hunt.

2016 Scavenger Hunt

2016 Classmate Scavenger Hunt

Here are links to previous posts about this first day activity:

Updated: First Day of School Scavenger Hunts (Contains three variations for different age levels)

First Day of School Scavenger Hunt (Contains the rules, description of the activity)


Summertime Favorites

Lemon Shake-Ups.

Caramel Apples.

Cotton Candy.



Funnel Cakes.

Banana  Splits.

Strawberry Milkshakes.

Which is your favorite summertime favorite?

Hopefully you’ve had a great summer and done plenty of your favorite things and eaten plenty of your favorite goodies. (Lemon Shake-Up for me!)

August arrived almost 72 hours ago. Along with it, band practice, golf practice, back-to-school posts, and an earlier wake-up time (probably the most shocking of all.)

As I get back into the routine, I feel mixed emotions. My daughter is a junior and a squad leader in the marching band this year.  On the first day of practice, I heard her come downstairs.  I hopped out of bed, quickly got dressed, and started my coffee as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. She looked at me – water bottle, trumpet, music, and keys in hand – and I realized she doesn’t need a ride this year.  She has her own car.  (Imagine both our faces – and my heart – at this moment.)

My son, finally a teenager, is an 8th grader and is on the golf team.  He’s worked hard all summer on his swinging, chipping, and putting.  My parents bought him a giant net that he can set up in the yard. It’s been nice because I don’t have to pay for the driving range, or make his sister drive him to the golf course.   But when I look at my hacked-up lawn…. I think I should put up a sign that says, “A spoiled rotten golfer lives here.”

I’ve started a little of my back-to-school work, but considering this is Year 21, I feel pretty comfortable and have learned to use every second of this precious time for relaxing, refreshing, and re-energizing.

However, during a quick stop at the store this morning, I found the perfect ice breaker activity for my students.

Limited Edition Dum-Dums!

Limited Edition Dum-Dums!  How fun!  I bought two 10.4 oz bags for $4.00 at Discount Drugmart.

After brief introductions of myself and my student teacher, I will bring out the basket.


This is a good time for me to remind them of the rule of saying “Thank You” immediately after receiving a treat, and a warning that candy wrappers left anywhere but the trash can will not work in my classroom.

Now comes the fun:

Screenshot 2016-08-03 at 6.40.59 PM

I’m excited to have my first day activity planned and ready to go. I had most of these students last year in 7th grade, so I have to get creative each year. Plus, this lets us hold onto sweet summer just a little bit longer….

What is your go-to ice breaker?

Do you have something new planned for this year? 

I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments!

Writer’s Block? Sentences at Your Fingertips!

Have you ever been trying to make vocabulary sentences and cannot come up with anything remotely creative?

I found a nifty way to come up with random sentences for vocabulary practice and quizzes.

The website “Words in a Sentence” @ wordsinasentence.com will spit out 10 unique sentences for many words.

One of the vocabulary words from The Giver is disposition.

Here are the results:

  • Even though the old man appeared grumpy, he really had a pleasant disposition.
  • His gloomy disposition aside, Jeremy is a very nice person.
  • Whenever my uncle was feeling ill, his friendly disposition disappeared.
  • Janice has a bright smile and a warm disposition.
  • Howard’s disposition is often determined by the type of day he has at work.
  • Because I rarely smile, I am not known for my agreeable disposition.
  • With her inquisitive disposition, Sarah is an ideal candidate for the detective’s position.
  • Even though Eric had an awful day at the office, he still managed to have a welcoming disposition at his party.
  • Claudia’s cheery disposition has opened a lot of modeling doors for her.
  • Although he may look ferocious, my pit bull has a gentle disposition.

There are only 1500 words and it’s definitely geared towards more complex vocabulary, but it’s made things a little easier for me.  I like that there are a variety of sentences from simple to complex and that they are used in a variety of ways. I think these sentences would be great for context clues or having students fill in the blank with the correct word. This site could also provide mentor sentences for language/grammar.

Here’s a another example for inexorable from A Wrinkle in Time.

  • Of course, the public is enraged by the inexorable rise in gas prices.
  • Following her husband’s sudden death, Elaine went into an inexorable depressive state.
  • The inexorable truth is that Shelley is going to die within six months because she has cancer.
  • Because James hit a police officer while driving drunk, he knows it is an inexorable fact he will serve jail time.
  • In hopes of regaining their land, the army started an inexorable march through the country.
  • Mary did not want to watch the movie because she knew the plot contained an inexorable tragedy.
  • In his desire to make sure he was ready for the triathlon, Jason was inexorable when it came to following his training routine.
  • The changing of the seasons is an inexorable event because there is nothing you can do to stop one season from leading into another.

Now, if I could just figure out and remember how to say the word, “inexorable.” It’s one of those words that escapes me every time I try to say it in class!

Do you know of any other sites with similar features?

Where do you get your sentences for vocabulary?

Please share in the comments if you do!

#10 of 13 Teachers Who Made Me Who I Am: 9th Grade

In the 9th grade, I took Geometry. I loved everything about Geometry. It was so different from Algebra which was so abstract. I loved the concrete visuals, the shapes, the theorems and proofs, and the logic behind it all.

I loved that our teacher, Miss Egler, made us keep this fantastically organized Geometry Notebook. I am such a nerd I would rewrite my notes every night so that they looked perfect (rewriting notes is also a great strategy for memorizing information).

Being in the advanced track for math, there were many sophomores, juniors, and a few seniors in my class.

One day Miss Egler asked me to tutor a senior who was struggling. I worked with Wendy every day in a hallway by the cafeteria. At first she was a little resistant to (looking back with teacher eyes: more likely embarrassed about) this freshman girl helping her, but when she realized I was going to give her help and confidence, as well as respect, we became a good team and she ended up making enough progress to pass the class.

This was my first real experience as a “teacher” and I knew then that this was something I could realistically do for the rest of my life.

Lesson learned from a 9th grade teacher: Share you talents with others and see what you gain for yourself.

33 Learning Verb Posters

As I was cleaning up my flash drive, I found this PowerPoint from several years ago when I taught high school.

Learning Verb Posters

These are the verbs that students may see in testing situations like the OAA, OGT, etc. If a student doesn’t know the meaning of “differentiate”, then he or she will probably have a hard time answering the question.

I created these slides and then printed them out on 8 1/2 x 11 colored paper and hung them on a wall in alphabetical order. Students got used to looking up at the posters during class. We referenced them often when working one-on-one or in small groups studying for the OGT.

I wish they had pictures to aid visual learners, but these are some tricky words to illustrate. Feel free to explore, alter, and utilize them if they would be good for your students.

%d bloggers like this: