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Halloween Descriptive Writing Activity

A fun and challenging Halloween writing activity for your middle school students! Get them using all kinds of figurative language and descriptive writing with this engaging activity for your classroom!

Fall is officially here...candy corn is on the shelves, pumpkin spice lattes are a morning staple, and in school, we’re settled into our new routines. Now, that we can catch our breath after the start of the school year, it’s fun to plan our first holiday ELA activity for Halloween!

Paragraph of the Week & Weekly Writing Prompts

Paragraph of the week with this weekly writing prompts made such a difference in the quality of writing for our middle school students! It is honestly the perfect resource for any English Language Arts classroom!

It’s no secret that we think consistent quality writing practice is essential for students’ success. That’s why we created a paragraph of the week resource for our students. It holds us accountable to include writing each week in our curriculum in addition to more substantial argumentative writing assignments (you can read more about that here).

How to Teach Argumentative Writing in Middle School

Teaching argumentative writing to your middle school and high school students can be SO hard! But this blog post and free step-by-step guide will really help teachers in their classrooms as they implement writing skills and strategies!

While we strongly believe that to become better writers, students should read, read, and read some more, we also know that explicit writing instruction is necessary. Yet, we notice that often writing time is not included in classroom schedules, aside from creative writing (definitely still important!). So many teachers have told us that they simply don’t have time to teach evidence-based writing skills, it takes too much time to grade all the essays, or they simply don’t know how to teach writing. Well, we’ve got you covered. And more importantly, we’ve got your students covered...

The Poe Poem Our Students LOVE

This is the best Edgar Allan Poe poem to teach to your middle school students! They will absolutely love it!

You know it’s an effective unit when your students continue analyzing and talking about the content long after you have finished your lesson plans! We just never thought it would be a poem from 1849 that our students would become obsessed with and spend recess time wanting to continue discussions and asking their for their parents' thoughts about the poem. And yet, Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” does just that!

9 Must-Teach Short Stories for Your Middle School Students

Top nine short stories to teach to and read with your middle school English language arts class! They are engaging, challenging, and accessible to all students! Definitely a must read blog post!
While we love centering our ELA lessons around a great novel, we’ve recently started incorporating more short stories into our curriculum, and we couldn’t be happier with the results: higher student engagement, increased proficiency in citing and justifying textual evidence, and more complex analysis just to name a few! You can read more about this here.

Absent Students: What To Do

This is a great blog post that walks you through an easy way to keep track of and organize absent student work in your classroom! Perfect for upper elementary, middle school, and high school!

We like to follow the Boy Scouts’ motto “Be prepared” when it comes to absent students. This means that during the first week of school somewhere between going over our bathroom policy and playing some back to school activities, we address our absent procedures with our students. 

Easy Tips to Prepare for Back to School


Between the two of us, we have switched grade levels and schools seven times in our teaching careers! With each transition there is obviously a new curriculum to learn and new expectations for ourselves and our students. We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to the teaching field (best job ever, in our opinion!) or switching grades this year after spending several years in one classroom, it’s nice to have a few things set in stone that you won’t have to think about while scrambling to get the rest of your classroom organized.

The Sub Binder: Why It's Important & How to Set One Up

A great blog post that walks you through how to set up an emergency sub binder for your classroom! This one includes emergency substitute lesson plans for your ELA (english, reading, and writing) classroom!

Something that’s proven invaluable for us in our ELA classrooms time and time again has been the emergency sub binder we have sitting on our desks. Even though emergencies are highly unlikely, and we're generally able to get some sort of relevant sub plans together when calling in sick, it's always better to be prepared!

An Anytime Classroom Activity: Balderdash

Balderdash is a great classroom filler to keep students thinking and engaged when you have a few random minutes! Use this with your middle school, high school, or even upper elementary students!

We all have those days when an assembly ends earlier than expected and we have twenty minutes to kill before lunch, or the copier breaks down for the hundredth time, and today’s lesson has to be postponed, or it’s the last week of school and students are getting a bit restless. While D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) is always a wonderful option to fill the time, sometimes it’s nice to switch it up. Enter Balderdash. 

Leads In Narrative Writing: Teach Your Students to Create Stronger Leads!

Use these easy tools to effectively teach leads in narrative writing in your middle school and high school English Language Arts (ELA) classroom!

This week our fifth graders are working on narrative writing. While we’ve read samples, provided brainstorming graphic organizers and outlining handouts, the single most effective strategy has been our discussion on leads. This leads activity that we’ll outline below has made SUCH a difference in our students’ writing because it sets the tone for higher level expectations and requires students to be deliberate with their word choice.