ELA Buffet Goes Back to School

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an English teacher in possession of great ideas, must be in want of other like-minded teachers.

Hence, the birth of the Literary League.

This English teacher is proud to be a part of the “League.” You’ll probably agree that it is a teacher’s nature to share. We were the only kids in the sandbox without a shovel.


Because some other kid wanted it, and we obliged. We share.

That’s how we roll. The Literary League is all about sharing creative ideas, best practices, and fantastic resources.

About Moi: (I do not speak French, but I have read every book the divine Miss Piggy has written.)

I love teaching. When Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” he could have been speaking about me in one of my past lives as a teacher in 500 BC. My master’s degree is from Stony Brook University, and I’ve taught almost every grade from 3rd through 12th. For the past dozen years I’ve been teaching middle school English.

I’m not quite certain if I love it because I’m darn good at it, or if I’m good at it because I love it. Either way, it works. I’ve won teaching awards, my curriculum resources have been successfully used in thousands of classrooms, and my methods have been used in professional development courses for teachers all over the country. But my most precious award is housed in a battered binder. It’s a collection of cards and notes from my students. I love that binder, and I pull it out for support when things get rough. If you teach middle school, you know exactly what I mean.

My Favorite Classroom Library Book 

Nay nay. Not going there.

If I say Freak the Mighty, I’ll get angry emails from the S.E. Hinton fan club. Pick a Wendy Mass book and the James Patterson fans will complain. If I say Harry Potter, I’ll get angry emails from… Rick Riordan.

Just kidding. I’ve met him and he’s quite pleasant.

Nope. Not choosing.

My Favorite Getting to Know You Activity

Most of my students have known each other since they were 5. Ask any one of them who ate the most glue in kindergarten or who is deathly afraid of clowns, and they’ll tell you. So a good old game of Two Truths and a Lie won’t fly. They can spot those lies like a pink moose in the school cafeteria.

 Back to School Tools of the TradeSince I’m the only one who can’t “see the moose,” I have the kids make name tents. They love it because they get to write and talk about their favorite topic- themselves. And I learn about their lives, while also getting to know their names. It’s a win-win. For those of you interested, it’s in my Back to School Tools of the Trade resource, but if you want a no-frills version they’re actually easy to make.

A name tent requires kids to fold a sheet of paper (held vertically) into thirds and write their name in the center. They draw pictures of things they love around their name. On the other two thirds they write two positive adjectives to describe themselves, along with supporting details.

 Back to School

Propping the name tents up on their desks allows me to learn their names in a just a couple of days. But the kids like to use them long afterward, and they even take them out when there is a sub in the room.

I hope you enjoy reading about the other fantastic Literary League teachers.

The most exciting part? We’re just getting started, people.