5 Resources for Thesis Writing

10:54 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Even my senior students struggle with thesis writing; my AP Literature and Composition class has been working on writing introductions to past AP exam questions as part of my AP Literature Redesign I started second quarter.  The students are communicating to me that the thesis (although some aren't using that word) is part of the struggle they face when approaching a questions.

My students can write a formula thesis, but that is not enough for the kinds of writing they are being asked to do on state and national exams like the AP Lit and Comp exam they will be taking in May.  In an effort to improve my teaching and my students' writing, I know I need to find other ways to address their paper topic that will lead to more sophisticated essays and less formulaic writing.

Here are five resources I've added to my tool box:

1) David Wright video on Writing an Effective Thesis Statement

We are going to start with this 13-minute video that takes students through many examples and non-examples of claim writing.  Any time I can have someone else talk to my students about a topic, I do because then it become less about me and more about making them better writers- it doesn't hurt that in the video he talks about Star Wars.

2) Gretchen Bernabie's Reviving the Essay

This book and others by Discover Writing Company can be helpful in directing students towards authentic writing like "read" writers do.  There are also resources on the site for teachers and students. 

Image Source:  the article by Ray Salazar.

This five part article not only makes a case for moving away from the 5 paragraph essay, but it also provides strategies to open students to greater thinking.

4)  Thesis Speed Dating

Speed Dating is an activity teachers use in many different contexts; I have used it when previewing texts for students to select their independent novel.

Speed dating thesis statements works as follows:
*Divide students into 2 groups-those that stay and those that move.
*Place the students in pairs in a circle.  Inside student is those that move during each round.
*Run a three minute round
*Have each student quickly share their thesis statement with their partner.  Then each person offers the other a suggestion or asks a question.
*Move to the next person and repeate

This activity allows students to share and revise their thesis statements while helping and learning from each other.

A two minute rap video about writing a thesis; I personally love that Flocabulary also provides an interactive of the lyrics for students (and teachers) to follow along and click open deeper explanations of the lyrics.


I am hoping to get two or three writers to speak to my students (either virtually or in person) about the process specifically focusing on claim/topic selection and revision.    The Michigan Library has a catalog of authors in Michigan and resources on author visits, and many other states have these databases too, but a search for authors in your area would lead you to some contacts for you.

 I have received no compensation for endorsing these resources; the opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Cyber Smile Sale

9:33 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

November marked six years since my first sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I cannot believe that it has been that long since I started my seller journey.  

My whole store will be discounted 20% off. 

For poetry check out these items in my store:

I love to teach poetry all year long!

For Shakespeare try: 

In addition I have a full, newly-revised Test for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I also have a Renaissance and Shakespeare Background Test, which is also available in Examview format.

My top seller:

Which is also available in the Examview version:

I have a vocabulary test too in Examview:

All of these go together or can stand alone.  Also, be sure to check out The Diary of Anne Frank Handouts.

Book Review: Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case by A. M. Rosenthal

8:45 PM Sarah Koves 3 Comments

 I have received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Open Road Media.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

So much more than a journalist's account of a horrific crime silently witnessed by thirty-seven bystanders.  This 100-page account from New York Times editor and reporter A.M. Rosenthal is an gut-wrenching account of society standing by as a horrific crime is committed.  Rosenthal was the editor of the original reporting on Kitty Genovese's murder outside her apartment building in New York City, and this book is his account of the events.  Not only does Rosenthal use the court and police documents, but he was fortunate to have a meeting with the police commissioner.

Not only does Rosenthal recount the events of the murder of Kitty Genovese, he also probes into the lack of motivation in the thirty-eight people who witnessed her murder.  Rosenthal seeks to answer the question: Why and how could thirty-eight people do nothing as this young woman was murdered?  He also projects the witnesses behavior onto himself and society at large.

My favorite parts of this text are where Rosenthal discusses his lack of social action while traveling the world.  He also makes the reader question why incidents across the ocean drive more public action then events in their own backyard.  His ability to take the reaction of the thirty-eight and subtly imply that most people would react the same way is thought-provoking.

This short yet gripping text pushes the reader to think introspectively.

Every spring when I am covering social psychology in my AP psychology course, my students discuss the Kitty Genovese case when studying the bystander effect.  This text is such a quick and easy read that having my students study this text prior to the discussion could easily be accomplished.  Secondary and collegiate students are sure to be intrigued by Rosenthal's account, introspection, and societal observations.  This text is going on my AP psychology reading list for spring.

Tweet: So much more than a journalist's account of a horrific crime silently witnessed by thirty-seven bystanders. @cera0316 http://ctt.ec/Eua83+

Click the image below to see my entire psychology series.
Pre-order a copy for your Kindle today:

Book Review: Tiny and Full by Jorge Cruise

12:57 PM Sarah Koves 4 Comments

 I have received a complimentary copy of this book to review from BenBella Books.
 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.


Perfect timing for the holiday season and New Year's resolutions.  Those were my first thoughts when I started Tiny and Full by Jorge Cruise, a leading celebrity fitness trainer and author.  This book focuses on helping readers be tiny and full at the same time by creating a plan for readers to go vegan for breakfast.  There are nutrient concerns when going completely vegan, and Mr. Cruise not only explains those, but he addresses them in his meal plan.

Mr. Cruise presents his plan only after providing background and research to the why behind going vegan for breakfast.  The numerous research studies cited provide reasoning for every reader to try his 12-week plan for a better you.  He approaches the topic in an easy-to-relate-to format that provides readers with strategies to successfully change the way they approach food.

After creating a picture of what tiny is and how to be full, a detailed menu and exercise plan for the 12-week program is outlines.  Not only are there pictures of how to do the exercises in the plan, but there are appetizing photos of the recipes included in the meal plan.

I learned about calorie density: different foods have more or less calories per ounce, so low density foods can help you feel full.  This is a new approach to food for me, but my affinity for soup (often a low calorie dense food) makes this plan manageable.  Pea protein powder is the other great discovery for me in this text.

There are so many recipes in this book that I can't wait to try:
-Tropical Mango Blast
-Sunrise Smoothie-Cocoa Banana Bowl-Coconut Chia Pudding-Chocolate Blueberry Muffins-Tomato Gazpacho Fresca-Roasted Zucchini Lasagna-Baked Cauliflower Casserole-Zucchini Pasta-Carbo Chocolate Bananas-Cocoa Bean Brownies

Finally, as an educator reviewer I see many benefits for this text in a secondary setting.  With the Common Core non fiction text standards texts like this one need to become a more regular part of student learning.  This text could be easily used in a psychology course, like my AP Psychology course, for the units on research, motivation and emotion, or self-improvement.  In addition texts like this one need to become a regular part of health classes; students need healthy plans for nutrition, fitness, and weight-loss.

If you desire to be a healthier you, this is a text that can help you on your journey, by assisting you in making a lifestyle change.  The research, menu plan, exercise regime, recipes, and support network are a combination that I am sure will make anyone who sticks with it successful.  I am adding this plan to my after-the-holiday season calendar.

Pre-order you copy now, so you are prepared for the new year.


Professional Reader 

9 Tricks on Google Drive from my Trainer Test

10:13 PM Sarah Koves 9 Comments

I have almost finished by Google Trainer Exams.  This past week I did the Google Drive Suite test after spending three days studying.  Many new trick are now in my arsenal, and I wanted to share some of the best tricks with you.

This little extension is easily added to Chrome through the Apps Store.  Once installed on your Chrome browser it adds a Drive button in the upper right hand corner that allows any web page or image to be saved to your Google Drive in one click.  This extension is one that I wish I had knows about years ago.

2) Change the color of your folders in Google Drive 
Some of you may be shaking your head at me, but I honestly had no idea I could do this.  I am a visually organized person, so having my folders be different colors for every category makes it easier for me to find what I am looking for quickly.

3) The template galleries
The school district that I work in is a Google Apps for Education school, so how I did not know about the template galleries for both all of Google and our domain, I don't know.  This is one of those things where I shake my head at myself for always creating from scratch.  The Google Docs Template Gallery is filled with  all sorts of pre-made documents to edit: photo albums, press releases, schedules, etc.  You name it and it is probably in there.  I liked looking through these Education Templates.

4) Scan feature on mobile devices
If you have the Google Drive App on your cell phone, you can scan documents right to a pdf.  When you open drive on your phone, hit the red plus sign, and then select scan.  I tried this with a bunch of the girls' papers from school: calendars and informational forms.  I am so thrilled to move from the piles of paper at home; I only hope I can convince my husband to do the same because he piles too.  See Google's directions for more information.

5) Convert PDF to google doc

PDFs in your Google Drive can be opened with Google Docs and therefore transformed into an editable document.  Now, it is not a perfect science, but I tried it out on a few PDFs that I thought would be nice to change like the scan of the W-2 I had from two years ago that I wanted to change.

7) Google Forms Tricks
Google Forms have been a staple for me since I wrote my Master's thesis. I have never found a data collection system that is better. What I didn't know was that after a response is submitted, you can publish the results or give directions or a link to another page. I also didn't know that you could email the form and have people respond right from the email. I believe this will be a game changer for me for my use of forms.

8) Revision history
The idea that Google keeps track of who changes a document and when should not surprise me or anyone else.  Know thing I could go File>See Revision History and look at what people have done to documents is a handy feature for a teacher that works very hard at peer and self-revision with her students.   My juniors just had research papers due, and the week before I showed them this feature in a sample paper, and I made them aware that it was how I was going to evaluate their use of revision.

9) Multiple ways to insert images
Most of us know Insert>Image and some of us know that Google Drive allows for drag and drop of images into documents (Blogger doesn't support this, but I won't go into that).  What I never paid attention to was that the window that pops up also has an option to search the web for an image.  Not that I promote the use of any image on the internet, but I can certainly see uses where it would be nice for younger students.

I am hoping to finish up my Trainer Tests this month and share more tips with you.

While you wait, follow my technology board for more great ideas.

Stitch Fix #13 November 2015

8:01 AM Sarah Koves 10 Comments

I really do like Stitch Fix service.  I know that my wardrobe has gotten a boost from getting one of these boxes a month.
 The opinions and words here are 100% mine!  This post contains referral links that provide a reward for me at no cost to you if you choose to shop.

What is Stitch Fix?

It is a styling service that for $20 (which gets credited towards any items you keep) you get five items hand-selected for you by a stylist.  You fill out a style profile and link a Pinterest board, so your stylists know what you like.  If you are interested in trying out this service, please use my referral link as I can get credit for sending you their way.

After a slightly disappointing box in October, I took my husband's advice and requested nothing specific, and I got pieces that were very much my style.  I did request a more inexpensive fix as mine have been running in the $300 range, and I wanted to see what a lower price point would be like.

My stylist sent a great note with lots of suggestions which I appreciate.

The first two items I pulled were the black shirt and infinity scarf. I prefer infinity scarves over regular ones, but I have several black shirts in different styles.

 I paired these with a pair of hot pink leggings from Old Navy.  I really like bright colors, so these pants are one of my favorite pairs.

The scarf was a great pattern.  I have been wanting a plaid scarf and the black cream color combination will work with numerous items in my closet.  I do wish it had been a little longer as it bunched up when wrapped twice.  The shirt was also nice, but it was a little big on me.  I probably would have been better with a medium.  Also, the scarf smelled funny- has anyone ever had a piece smell funny?  I know a wash will fix that, but it was off-putting at the time.

Look by M Sammie Plaid Infinity Scarf $34 KEPT
Market and Spruce Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee $44 RETURNED

This top was promising when I pulled it out of the box the texture, colors, and cut looked to be right up my alley.  I paired it with my new black pants from The Loft.

From the front this shirt looks fairly mainstream, but the back has this great bow detail that elevates it from a standard 3/4 sleeve top.

I had to laugh that the style card had white pants on it...it is currently snowing here in Michigan, so that style wasn't happening.   While it was a cute top, it wasn't going to work for me because I really prefer my back covered because I'm always cold and have some scares from teenage acne.  Also, I really try and stay away from horizontal stripes if I can help it.

Papermoon Kualo Bow Back Knit Top $44 RETURNED

The third top in the box was perhaps the most promising for me.  The pattern and bright colors alone drew my attention when I opened the box.

I paired this with the same black pants from The Loft.  The shirt was soft and of a good length.  I can see it working in all seasons as it is thin enough for spring and summer, but it is roomy enough for a cami underneath. 

Pixley Edmund Henley Knit Top $54 KEPT
I also got another skirt.  Now the first skirt I got was not a winner, but the second one was, so I was anxious to see what this one would be like, especially as I don't own many skirts.

The color and pattern didn't blow my skirt up (pun totally intended), but I don't own a swing skirt, so I gave it a try.  

I originally styled it like my stylist suggested with the hi-lo shirt and the scarf, but that was not working, so I didn't even take a photo.  Then I asked for my husband's help, and we struggled together.  It wasn't until I asked my 14 year old daughter how to style it that I got what you see above: black tank and her jean jacket (I still haven't found one I like and that fits).  Once she got my in that I actually really liked the skirt.

My biggest concerns with the skirt were that it was a little big around the waist and WINTER IS COMING.  I knew I wouldn't get much wear out of this until spring, so it was hard to justify keeping it.

Papermoon Jennifer Printed Swing Skirt $58 RETURNED 


 I am probably taking December off from Stitch Fix, but stay tuned for my next note to my stylist.

Be sure to follow my Pinterest Stitch Fix Board:

If you are interested, please use my referral link as I get a credit for letting you know about Stitch Fix.

I would love to know more about you in order to help you more: Do you Stitch Fix already?  What brought you to my post?  What kinds of pieces should I try in my wardrobe?

Six Year Sale and Giveaway

10:15 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Today marks six years since my first sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I cannot believe that it has been that long since I started my seller journey.  As a thank you to each of you, I am holding a giveaway for you choice of a product from my store.

There are tons of great items discounted up to 20% off.  I can't think of a better way to head into a three day week next week.

For poetry check out these items in my store:

I love to teach poetry all year long!

For Shakespeare try: 

In addition I have a full, newly-revised Test for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I also have a Renaissance and Shakespeare Background Test, which is also available in Examview format.

My top seller:

Which is also available in the Examview version:

I have a vocabulary test too in Examview:

All of these go together or can stand alone.  Also, be sure to check out The Diary of Anne Frank Handouts.

6 Years Worth of Sales Giveaway

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