Newest Resource Reveal!

I’m excited to announce the completion of the entire grade 8 ELA Common Core (and LAFS, for Florida) CIM series bundle! It’s taken me about a year to complete, and I’m very pleased with what I’ve been able to create for you. In the bundle, there are 17 different resources. Each targets an individual standard with three mini-lessons. Each CIM uses excerpts that have been adapted to be (or were, in their original format, already) appropriate for 8th-grade readers. This was assured through the use of the Lexile® analyzer as well as several other online readability calculators (Flesch, etc.).

If you’ve never heard about or used my CIM resources, they use the research-based “model – teach – assess” technique. They are quick (10-15 min) mini-lessons that target specific standards. The only Common Core practice I’ve been able to find is general and mixed standards. Mine is the only one I know of that does individual standard, targeted instruction and practice. It’s low-prep and easy to implement. It even includes suggestions for differentiation and extension!

I know many of you have been just waiting for me to finish the rest of the bundle, and now it’s finally ready for you! Buying the bundle instead of all the individual CIMs will save you a, well, bundle! If you’re looking for a quick, targeted, and easy resource for these standards, come check them out!

ALL RL.8 RI.8 Bundle

The Continuous Improvement Model

When I started teaching English, I was terrified. I had few ideas about how to effectively communicate what I knew about English and reading comprehension to my students. See, I was (am) really good at English. It was my strongest subject in school. I love to read. I love to write. It comes naturally to me. I rarely struggled with it. So when I encountered students who weren’t good at reading or writing, I didn’t know what to do with them. I had no strategies for how to help them learn and grow. My process for teaching writing evolved into something very successful, but that’s a topic for another entry. My process for teaching reading, however, improved as a result of my being assigned to teach a semester course of Advanced Reading, in which the curriculum embedded something called “FCIM,” which stands for “Florida’s Continuous Improvement Model.” The Continuous Improvement Model – or CIM, for short – operates under the best-practice assumption that education is a cycle of teaching and assessing, and is best communicated through some variation of the research-based strategy “model-guide-practice” or “I do, we do, you do.”


I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the curriculum – as is true for most large curriculum companies, there were errors, lack of explanation for answers, and virtually no guide for teaching metacognition (another research-based instructional component). But I did like, and find effective, the overarching principles of the instructional model. It was on this that I based my own CIM resources.


These resources are intended to be used in conjunction with other curriculum, instruction, and assessment. They should be a component of the Continuous Improvement Model within any classroom. They should be used to help the teacher gather data on student comprehension and achievement and that should drive further instruction.

This particular CIM targets the Common Core Reading: Literature Standard 1 for grades 9-10. It has a complete teacher script for lesson 1, which models metacognition for students and goes through how to determine the correct answer for the correct reason. It has a guided lesson script for lesson 2, which helps take students through the same process before trying it completely on their own in lesson 3. Although, lesson 3 has thorough explanations for the correct and incorrect answers so that it can be a part of the Continuous Improvement Model process.


Additionally, it offers differentiation options by having two complete sets of lessons: one using multiple-choice questions and one using open-response questions. This resource combines 2 essential features of quality education: effective use of time and best-practices teaching methods. Finding supplementary materials that specifically target a single standard are difficult to come by. You either have to take a resource and pick it apart to use only the questions that apply to the standard you’re targeting or you have to make it yourself. And few teachers have the time (or inclination, for that matter) to pick passages and write standards-based questions for them. This takes that prep-work piece away and does that labor for you. However, you, as the teacher, get to decide how to use the resource, how to differentiate and scaffold it, and even whether or not to use pairs or small groups – all while knowing you are engaging your students in the model-guide-practice research-based teaching strategy and gathering information and data you can use as a part of your classroom’s Continuous Improvement Model.


Although this is my first CIM for this level, I have a complete RL/RI (all 17 standards) CIM set for 6th grade and I’m almost halfway done with the complete 8th grade set as well. Eventually, the intention is to have sets for grades 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9-10.

How can you use this resource effectively? Many teachers who have purchased from my CIM line use this resource as bell work. Others use it as a part of a focus workshop. The product itself has suggestions for differentiation as well as collaborative work.

This line is also highly rated by teachers who have purchased the resource(s). Here are some of the things they’ve had to say about the different products in the CIM line:

On RL.9-10.1:

  • On July 16, 2016, Catherine R. said: This will be a valuable resource to walk students through the process of reading and using evidence to respond to questions. Thanks for sharing.

On RL.8.2:

  • On July 13, 2016, Wacky Apple (TpT Seller) said: Exactly what I needed.

On RL.6 (various):

  • On March 29, 2016, Megan F. said: One of the best resources I have seen in a while
  • On June 7, 2016, Rebecca Harris (TpT Seller) said: Excellent resource! I look forward to using these with my students this year!
  • On April 21, 2016, Janine L. said: Looking forward to using these to review the standards my students performed poorly on for their district assessments.
  • On January 24, 2016, Crystal V. said: I own the RL bundle and the RI bundle. Yes, they are a little bit pricey but I think it is absolutely fair considering the amount of content. You definitely get what you pay for! I love using these as Bell Ringer Activities, and to remediate standards since testing is coming up. Thanks!
  • On November 20, 2015, Shakera W. said: Thank you! this resource is so helpful for intervention! Thank you so much! Very thorough resources!
  • On January 20, 2016, Emily S. said: Great resource! Such a time-saver! Thanks 🙂
  • On October 14, 2015, Shakera W. said: Great intervention tool! Thank you!

If this sounds intriguing, head on over and check it out!

My Newest Common Core Practice Bundle

I’ve been MIA for a while because I grossly underestimated how much work it would be to go back into the classroom! But I put in a lot of work into making my Continuous Improvement Models (CIMs) for RI.6.4-6 (Author’s Craft & Structure) so I really wanted to post about it. I just want to give an overview of the CIMs in the bundle and explain to you why you should be interested in my resources if you teach upper elementary/lower middle English/Language Arts.

I’ve been working on my CIM for RI.6.7 and I was having trouble finding texts and even looking for resources with sample questions to make sure that my resources are valid and on point with the standards and other resources out there. Well, I started realizing there weren’t any resources out there that target individual standards. Sure, there are lots of things out there for teachers that have texts and questions for Common Core, but everything I’ve found gives teachers a handful of questions that target multiple standards. For example, I might get 7 questions, but each one only targets 1 standard, so I really only get 1 – or maybe 2 – questions on any given standard. And nothing I’ve found uses the format I do – the “I do,” “we do,” “you do.” And none of the resources I’ve found give teachers the tools to work through teaching students how to correctly identify answers for the given questions. Everything I’ve found only identifies which standard the question assesses and the correct answer. Sometimes it will have reasoning for why it is the correct answer, but nothing more than a few sentences. My resources are much more in depth. There are 3 mini-lessons for an individual standard. In this particular bundle, each individual lesson has at least 2 questions. For lesson 1, there is a full script that explains, in depth, how to determine the correct answer(s). In lesson 2, there is a script to guide students through determining the correct answer(s) themselves. In lesson 3, there is ample explanation on why the incorrect answers are incorrect and why the correct answer is correct, in case students need re-teaching or explanation.

If this sounds like something your students could use, check out my newest bundle for Reading Informational Text Grade 6 standards 4, 5, & 6.

Newest Common Core Practice Resource

I am continuing to work on my Continuous Improvement Model (CIM) line of resources for Common Core ELA and have just finished the mini-lessons for CCSS.RI.6.4.

6th grade CIM RI4 a

If you’ve not had a chance to use any of my 6th-grade CIMs, here’s a little bit about this lesson and why you might want to use it in your classroom this year.

The CIM is the basic “I do,” “we do,” “you do” method of teaching. What’s important and unique to my resources is that the “I do” section, where the teacher models the process targets meta-cognition. The teacher’s modeling of the skill and application of concept takes students through the reasoning needed to find the correct answer. It is more than just an explanation of why the answer is correct: it literally is a running commentary of the thought process behind figuring out the correct answer. The “we do” mini-lesson helps teachers guide their students through figuring out the correct answers, and the “you do” mini-lesson has detailed explanations of the correct answers.

6th grade CIM RI4 c

Another important reason you should use this in your room is that is a NO PREP resource. That means you don’t have to do any of the front-end work. It comes with an answer key and all explanations. The only thing you need to do is read through it before you teach so you know what you’re going to say and can stay on point. You can print out student pages if you want, but you could just choose to display the questions and have students answer on loose-leaf paper. It’s a huge time saver.

6th grade CIM RI4 b

An additional great feature of this resource is that you can choose to use multiple-choice questions or extended-response (open-ended) questions. Some teachers prefer one over the other, so I’ve included both in the product to give teachers the option. The explanations are even tailored for the specific question types.

6th grade CIM RI4 d

In this CIM there are 10 total questions (“I do” has 3, “we do” has 2, and “you do” has 2). It’s enough to determine if students really “get” the concept but not overwhelming and exhaustive. It’s perfect for bell work (starters, etc.) or a quick end-of-period lesson if you need to fill up 10 minutes.

If you think this sounds like something you’d like to use in your classroom but you’re not sure you want to shell out the cash, you can check out my free version that targets RL.6.1 and then go from there.6th grade FCIM RL1 freebie

Coming of Age

Picture this: Small-town girl’s best friend moves away the summer before high school starts. Small-town girl is insecure, introverted, and lonely. New neighbor moves in across the street: It’s another rising freshman from New York City. New girl is everything Small-town girl wants to be: pretty, talented, popular. They become unlikely friends. School starts: Cue the drama. New girl gets noticed by a member of the basketball team and invites her to high school party. Both girls go, and New girl gets raped by 3 boys on the team. Small-town girl wants to tell someone; New girl makes her promise to keep quiet. Small-town girl struggles with the decision to be loyal to New girl and keep her friendship or be honest and tell someone what happened and get New girl the help she needs. New girl begins drinking, smoking, cutting, and sleeping around. Drama ensues. The girls fight. New-girl climbs to the top of a water tower during a storm and dies. Did she fall? Did she jump? Small-town girl doesn’t know. Guilt eats away at her. She blames herself. She can’t handle the guilt. She starts cutting. She starts failing her classes. She climbs to the top of the water tower, and…she realizes she wants to live and decides to ask for help. She turns her life around. She comes of age.

purple storm kindle edition

Sound like just the kind of angst-filled story your students will love? Mine did. I read the novel over the course of a week and my students begged – begged, pleaded, cajoled – every day to continue the story. They loved it even more when they learned it was inspired by actual events. When it ended, they were devastated. They demanded more be written. I asked them what could make it better: they gave feedback. Based on that feedback, I crafted a revised version of the novel. That’s right, I wrote this story, and used feedback from the target audience (young adults) to make the book everything they wanted it to be.

It’s short (just 124 pages in paperback), readable, and engaging.

purple storm paperback edition

Buy a copy and see if you think your students will like it, then buy a copy for your classroom. Or, just buy a copy for your classroom and see what happens when one of them picks it up. Who knows, if it becomes a hit, you could even do a whole unit on it (which I’ve created – comprehension questions, vocabulary, graphic organizers, discussion questions, quizzes, and a test – everything you need).

If you teach a non-English subject, pass the information along to your English-teaching colleagues. They’ll thank you!

Novel - Purple Storm

Here are the links to the novel:

To buy paperback

To buy on Kindle

To buy the unit on TpT

Teachers are Heroes!

It’s true, teachers really are heroes! Teachers are leaders, nurses, parents, psychologists, social workers, friends, confidants, and so much more. If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to check out Teachers Pay Teachers, it has arrived! Today (only for a few more hours!) everything on the site – in every single store! – is at least 10% off! My store has everything 28% off! That’s right! If you’ve been eyeing that perfect lesson, activity, or resource, now is the time to stop by and stock up! There probably won’t be another sale until my birthday (that’s all the way in April, people!), so get test prep, Common Core and LAFS resources, math lessons, writing resources, reading activities, and so much more! And don’t forget, there’s a TON of free stuff on the site, too – not just my store, but hundreds – thousands (literally, there are over 70K stores on TpT!) – of stores with something for everyone. So no matter what or you teach – in a classroom K-12, early childhood, college, or even homeschool, there is something for you! Head on over and check it out!


Get your teaching resources while the getting is good!

Thanks, Mom!

My mother likes to email me things she thinks are useful and/or amusing. Nine times out of ten, I have little-to-no use for or interest in what she’s forwarded to me in my inbox. Every once in a while, though, she sends me a little gem. This week, my entry will be based on a top-ten list she sent me found here.

I won’t get it all covered in one entry, so I’ll carry it over to next week.

Coming in at the number ten spot on the important skills students need to succeed in life list is computer science. Not your basic keyboarding and word processing skills, though – something much more in depth and difficult: programming. I’ll be the first to admit that computer programming is not at the top of my “fun things to do” list. I took one computer information systems class in college, and it absolutely destroyed me. I had zero idea what I was doing. None of it made sense. Now I’m in a job where it would be beneficial to understand and be able to write programming code, but I can’t do it. Yes, I’m old, but I’m not so old that I couldn’t have had some instruction in basic programming. I’m pretty sure C++, at least, was around while I was in high school. Computer programming is a completely different language. It’s a completely different way of thinking. It’s not like trying to learn French if you speak English; it’s like trying to learn Chinese if you speak English. A completely separate alphabet, grammar structure, etc. With the technology industry continuing to grow, this ability is a virtual necessity. At best, however, it is something students will be introduced to if they choose it as an elective. Instead, it should be as mandatory as a visual art or physical education credit. What can the average teacher do about it? Not much, to be honest, but if you can get in the ear of the media or technology specialist at your site, or even the administrator in charge of scheduling classes, maybe you can plant the seed about this being a necessity.

Clocking in at number nine is the art of speed reading. Does every student need to know how to speed read? Does anyone, for that matter? Probably not. But the article makes a good point that the foundations of speed reading can be useful for other reading skills. Especially for struggling readers, the ability to skim lengthy texts and still get the gist of what the central ideas are is critical. Teaching students how to visually chunk text as they read can benefit them in many ways. So what can teachers do to foster this skill? For English and Reading teachers, direct instruction on this would be useful. Built-in practice time during class is easier than for other subject areas (note I said “easier” and not “easy” – I know no one has extra time to do anything that isn’t in the curriculum). But if you teach another subject, you still read. Modeling skimming or block/chunk reading to students is helpful. The metacognition (where you talk aloud as you “think” so students can follow your train of thought) teaches students how to do the task.

Last one for this entry is the number 8: Time management. This really deserves an entire entry all for itself. Teachers tend to be naturally good time managers. We have to be. There are a million things to do and about an inch worth’s of time to get it all done. But how did we get to be good time managers? For most of us, it was trial and error. Because we were self-motivated, we kept at it until we figured out how to be successful. Unfortunately, many of our students don’t harbor that intrinsic drive, and failure becomes routine. Teaching students basic time management techniques is critical. There really could be a whole class on it (in some districts, they’re actually moving towards this with programs like AVID). Students need to know how to use planners/assignment logs. They need to know how to prioritize. They need to know how to schedule their time and then keep track of it. Even just starting with something simple like time management on tests is a good place to begin. Teaching students to regularly check the clock to make sure they’re not taking too long on one question or that they’re not going to run out of time on a test can be the basis for good time management skills in other areas of their lives. Scheduling deadlines for students throughout long-term projects is another way to foster this skill. Even if the students don’t seem to want to manage their time or maybe don’t even seem capable, showing them successful tools and strategies can be impactful later. Once they “wake up” and realize they need better time management, they’ll have the arsenal of “Oh yeah, Mrs. Moody made me plan out my project work on that stupid calendar so I didn’t let it all pile up until the last day. I guess it wasn’t so stupid…” and other techniques they’ve been exposed to during their schooling. Every teacher can contribute to this. It doesn’t matter what you teach – you can model good time management for your students and teach them time management skills for them to use in their own lives. Who knows, maybe it will help you manage your own time a little better, too.

That’s all for this week! Stay tuned next week for numbers 7, 6, and 5!

Also, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and now I’m on Bloglovin!

Making Fan Fiction Cool

If you were to find any of the hundreds of students I’ve taught over the last decade and ask them to tell you one thing about me, I’d wager a hefty sum that the most popular response would be, “She LOVES Harry Potter!” I was notorious for using Harry Potter examples for nearly everything I introduced: all the literary terms, plot devices, archetypes…you name it, I found a way to relate it to Harry Potter. I would always issue a challenge at the beginning of the year that no student could ask me a question about the Harry Potter books that I would not know the answer to. I only failed that test one time in ten years. Eventually, my students would learn that I am an avid reader and writer of Harry Potter fan fiction. The other die-hard HP fans would think this was the coolest thing ever and demand to read my works, which I would oblige them (the appropriate ones, anyway). The majority of my students, however, thought that reading and writing fan-fictions was just about the dumbest, nerdiest, most ridiculous thing they’d ever heard of.

So I decided to teach them a lesson.

I not only write fan fiction material, but I also have original works that I have been developing for many, many years. One of these is a young adult fiction novel (it’s a coming-of-age piece, really well done, if I do say so myself…the novel and accompanying unit is available in my TpT store – the novel is titled “Purple Storm” – but enough of the product plug). Once I had finally finished it and had gone through several rounds of revisions and edits, I decided to read it to my students. They absolutely loved it! When it was over, they were all disappointed and wanted to know what happened to several of the characters. They knew I had written it, so they implored me to continue writing the story. I told them that I was done and there wouldn’t be any more added on to the story. I then asked them if they wanted to write more for the story – things that happened to characters after the story ended. My students’ eyes lit up and they squealed with joy! “Yes! Oh, Miss, could we do that? I mean, you’d let us do that?” I explained that my work was my own, but I couldn’t stop anyone from writing things about it, as long as they didn’t try to make any money off of it. Once I was sure they were all gung-ho on writing their own parts to my work, I dropped the bomb.

“You want to write what happens next? What you think should happen next? That, ladies and gentlemen, is fan fiction.”

Boo-yah. The looks on their faces were pretty priceless. I had lots of requests to read my HP fan fictions after that. It was a good day.

Encourage your students to write fan fictions. It’s such a good way to develop creativity and writing skills. In fact, I challenge you to write your own fan fictions. And find some good ones to read. They’re out there. I’m partial to the HP universe, of course, but others exist.

You might surprise yourself…

Here is a link to my novel, published on Amazon (for both Kindle as an ebook and available in paperback).

purple storm

Purple Storm novel unit