• Melissa

Theme: "The Middle School Survival Guide"

Activities: Botjoy, Podcasting, Snacks, and Book Fair

Difficulties to Overcome: Snow date (think rain date), wind chill warning, school had been canceled for the next day

Menu: "Sliding Through the Halls" Hawaiian sliders, "Chex Me Out" snack mix, "Cookie Therapy" cookies, and "Drowning in My Tears" water

On Display: Student art work

Outcome: Success!

Every year in conjunction with the Scholastic Book Fair at our school, we host a Title 1 Literacy and Technology Night. This year's theme was "The Middle School Survival Guide." We featured books about surviving middle school: How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart and The Middle School series by James Patterson. We served snacks prepared by FACS2 students and displayed art students created during first semester.

Podcasting: The Middle School Survival Guide

We used Anchor to record students and parents as they gave advice on how to survive middle school. We'll edit the audio clips and share it as the first CMS podcast.


I learned about Botjoy from Mason Mason at the Google Innovator Academy in Stockholm, Sweden. During Literacy Night, students and their families created robots on the back of dominoes as part of an international art project to help promote positive support of others. These "bots" will be handed out as reminders to be brave, kind, joyful, creative, and inspirational. Learn more about Botjoy HERE.

Themed Snacks

Our FACS2 students developed themed snacks for the evening. They planned the menu, named the items, created the shopping list, and prepared the food. They'll add their work to their FACS portfolio to submit for state-level recognition projects.

Book Fair and Book Swap Table

Students and their families had a chance to visit the Scholastic Book Fair, which is super exciting because the closest book store is an hour and fifteen minutes away. We also hosted a book swap table for students to "Take a book, leave a book." We collected book donations ahead of time and had the table well stocked prior to the event. We made sure we had enough books for each kid to take one, even if they didn't have a book to trade in during the evening. We take the extra books to our local Little Free Libraries.

Does your school host a Literacy Night? What types of activities do you include?

  • Melissa

It's the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, recognized by the United Nations. Dmitri Mendeleev is credited with discovering the Periodic Table in 1869. Learn more about the celebrations at The International Year of the Periodic Table.

Check out these amazing collections:

Elemental Haiku

The Periodic Table with a haiku for each element developed by Mary Soon Lee. Hover over each element to read its haiku. Join the fun with the hashtag #ChemHaiku on Twitter. Website: https://vis.sciencemag.org/chemhaiku/

Photographic Periodic Table

Hover over the images to learn more about each element. Click on the element for photographic examples. Website: http://www.periodictable.com/

TED-Ed Interactive Periodic Table

A video and lesson for every element! Website: http://ed.ted.com/periodic-videos

The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words

Click on the elements to see a close up each element in pictures and words. Website: http://elements.wlonk.com/ElementsTable.htm

Google's Periodic Table of Elements

Visualization where the elements are sized by their frequency in the earth's crust. Website: http://research.google.com/bigpicture/elements/

Periodic Stats

Click on the elements to learn history, general information, engineering, and more!

Website: https://periodicstats.com/


Communities are building real-life examples of the elements in interactive displays.

The Ever-Changing Periodic Table

An interactive display at The University of Toledo Website: http://www.utoledo.edu/nsm/ic/periodictable.html

Interactive Periodic Table

Located at the Downside School in the United Kingdom

Website: https://www.downside.co.uk/hot-science-news-our-interactive-periodic-table/

What are your favorite Periodic Tables?

  • Melissa

I recently ran across a lesson plan book that I had used about a decade ago. It was the spiral type with boxes that you fill in for specific content areas and times of day. Where you wrote everything in pencil and if you had a snow day or didn't get through a lesson as planned, you drew a big arrow over to the next day to indicate the lesson was on-going. It was at that point that I realized that I had been using a digital version of a lesson plan book for many years, but was wishing I had a version of both at my disposal.

I've created a few different types of lesson plan templates over the years and have liked different features about each of them. Some worked well with subject driven elementary-level content. But then that format didn't work so well with PBL and integrated studies. Some worked well for middle school, where classes were divided by hours. But still, it was hard to see the bigger picture of lesson planning, even with a week at a time.

Elementary Lesson Plan Form in Google Sheets

While teaching elementary students who were identified as gifted, I used a color coded format in Google Sheets. I created a template tab with the titles that I would reuse each week (days of the week across the top, content areas down the side). I added an area for "Special Notes" at the top so I could make note of things like recess duty, assemblies, and early dismissals. The text is blue means the item is hyperlinked to resources, documents, or websites I would need for the lesson. At the bottom, I listed the NAGC standards for gifted students as a reference. I created a page for each week in the semester, and just moved that week to the first sheet position as the quarter progressed. If you like this version, you can make a copy and edit it to fit your needs. Use this LINK.

Middle School Lesson Plan Form in Google Sheets

For the middle school version of the form, instead of listing content area, I identified the grade level and hour of day. The standards are listed at the bottom for reference and there is space at the top for special notes about duties, meetings, and events. There is also a spot at the bottom for reminders about after school activities. If you like this version, you can make a copy and edit it to fit your needs. Use this LINK.

Middle School Lesson Planning Google Sheet

In this version, I wanted one document where I could move around the dates/lesson plans based on the specific group of students I was working with. This year, I had a semester of students for an elective called Global Citizenship and a different group of students the second semester. Based on our experiences the first semester, I was moving lessons around to better meet the needs of the current group of students and the school calendar. I copied the tab from the first semester, changed the dates, and moved lessons around. I marked the checkbox when I covered that lesson to keep track of where I was. The blue text represents hyperlinks to websites, videos, Google Docs, and eBook supports.

One Subject Area Lesson Plan Form

With this Google Sheet, I have one class set up for a week at a time, and can plan through the lesson. At the top for each day, I list the object/success criteria. Then, any formative assessment, the opener or hook, the middle of the lesson, the wrap it up portion, then notes on differentiation. In the resources section, I hyperlink any videos and digital copies of lesson plans or documents. Here's a version you can make a copy of and edit for your own use.

Back to the Original "Paper" Lesson Plan Format

Over Christmas break I was planning how I wanted to change the format of my elective class and the sequence of lessons to use with my new group of students, along with adding some content about artificial intelligence. I found it hard to do those things with a digital form, so I started with sticky notes, moving them around on my office wall trying to figure out the best sequence of lessons. I soon realized that was not going to be efficient. My current method is using small sticky notes in a planner. This makes it easy to move them around in case of snow days, lessons that take more than a day, and changes in schedule. They are color coded by the type of lesson they are (classroom procedures, getting to know you, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, global awareness, substitute days). The little flags are opener activities. I'm using this in conjunction with the Google Sheet above, where I keep all of my digital links.

I think my lesson planning format will continue to change as my teaching style evolves and to better meet the needs of my current group of students. What format has worked well for your lesson planning?

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