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3 Weeks Out, Panic Sets In

First off, I want to apologize for missing comments on previous blog posts. I used to get e-mail notifications, and just noticed last night as I was perusing my junk mail that they are all being redirected there. I will be responding today!

So yesterday I posted on the FB page, a bit stressed. :/

Our show ended on Sunday, and I really didn't work on much while that was going on because it was all consuming and amazing. Here are some pics - I cropped other people out of them because I didn't want to post them on here without permission, but you can get an idea of the 70's flair. It was a lot of hairspray, polyester, eyeshadow, and fun.

It takes a lot of work to poof the hair

If you haven't seen "9 to 5", there is a hilarious puppet scene. This is my partner, Flower, covering his eyes because it was the last show :(

I played Dr. Becker and Joan the Secretary

If you enjoy musicals, I highly recommend doing this during the summertime! It is such a great way to meet new people, and a lot of them are teachers (surprise!).

As much as I didn't want it to end, I can spend more time focusing on the upcoming school year now, and it felt like a semi-truck full of ideas and resources was coming at me full speed!

So here I am, navigating the space between a show ending and a vacation starting, and finding myself unable to focus on a single task for more than ten minutes. Probably because we leave for NYC in...3 days...

Thanks to Tieks for sending me the AMAZING gift box back in the winter, we are going to see Aladdin on Broadway, for FREE! We also tried out the Priceline Negotiator for the first time, and got hotels at amazing prices. I'm a control freak, but it was kind of thrilling to not know what you're going to get (to be fair, I only picked 5 and 4 star hotels, so it couldn't have been a total dump).

Ok, so back to reality. I gathered up all my unit resources, my previous years ISN's, and sat down to "wade" through the materials.

Here's how I start:

1. I make a list of activities that I know work in my classroom that are not part of the resources from the book:

-Close Reading
-Two Column Notes
-Preview Sketches
-Mind Maps
-NKQ's (New Knowledge Questions)

2. I determine which skills are a priority to do as an introductory unit, and map out what these will be. This year I am focusing on Close Reading, Types of Questions, Multidraft Reading, Notice and Note Signposts, and Analyzing Arguments. I am skipping the objective summary and academic vocabulary this year, as every grade level did it last year so they have already covered it.

3. Then I go through the book resources and determine which activities are best for my ET students based on previous years. In my Pearson book resources these tend to be:

-Vocabulary Warm-Up (even though they know most of these words, it's a great opportunity to have them write using these words)
-Reading and Literary Analysis Pages (these emphasize the skills featured in common core- fact vs. opinion, context clues, etc...)
-Enrichment (I usually use these as a jumping off page into a deeper project)

Narrowing these down really helps me because there are just SO many resources it is overwhelming!

4. Next it's time to pull out the curriculum map. We just did an overhaul of our curriculum map this year, making it much more streamlined, thank goodness!

5. We have required selections and suggested selections, and then I use exemplar texts to supplement. For example, last year with the drama unit we read "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" (a teleplay), and then I had them do "The Hitchhiker" (Radio Play) and "Sorry, Wrong Number" (Stage Play). Then they compared and contrasted how the different formats enhanced the story. These are both listed as exemplar texts and were free online.

With my ET students I can usually get through more selections, so I added in a few from last year that worked really well for certain skills.

 (Now that this step is done, I can go through a figure out individual activities and pull worksheets from resource books)

6. I also try to figure out when in the year I'll have time for a novel study. This year, it looks like 4th quarter I'll be doing a novel study with both my 7th and 8th graders. My 7th graders are going to read The Little Prince and my 8th graders will read Night again. I would love to switch it up with 8th grade and do Lord of the Flies, but I feel that Night is such a profound story they can't miss out on it!

7. Finally, I start setting up my Google Doc for my ISN Table of Contents.

Looking at's already going to change. Which is why Google docs is great!

Even though this seems like a lot of work, I feel that it gives me a great idea of where I need to go at the beginning of the school year, that way I'm not scrambling. I only have students update their table of contents when we put something new in, that way I can rearrange or add things if I need to at the last minute.

I hope that helps explain my planning process, I received a few e-mail questions about it, and I feel like this puts me in a good place to start the year!


  1. Thank you! This gives me a fantastic starting off point. After teaching 6th grade Lit/SS last year, I'm now teaching two classes of 7th and one of 8th -- all with a new anthology book (Holt) and extended block schedule -- 93 minutes. We start back in the beginning of September and I've been feeling stressed all summer :-(

    1. My 7th grade classes kind of end up being blocked, I have them for LA1 and LA2, and it is SO nice to have that extended time. Have you looked at the Holt book yet? Do you like it?


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