The Best 6 of 2016

11:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The end of 2016 is upon us, and I am taking some time to reflect back on all my little blog has accomplished this year.  I bought my domain, gave my template a big make-over, and have grown as a writer.  In honor of that, I wanted to share with you Kovescence of the Mind's top 6 posts of 2016 in hopes that you will find some useful teaching tips to take you into 2017.

The end of 2016 is upon us, and I am taking some time to reflect back on all my little blog has accomplished this year.  I bought my domain, gave my template a big make-over, and have grown as a writer.  In honor of that, I wanted to share with you Kovescence of the Mind's top 6 posts of 2016 in hopes that you will find some useful teaching tips to take you into 2017.



Since teachers spend such a large part of their day on their feet, we need to take care of them.  Don't undervalue the importance of great socks and shoes in 2017.

The Best Shoes and Socks for Teachers


Everyone loves to give education advice, and being able to weed out what is useful and what is not useful is an important skill.  Here I share the MOST useful advice I have ever received on teaching.

The Best Teacher Advice I was Ever Given


All teachers need quick tips to improve their classroom and instruction.  This book study reviews a book full of those kinds of tips and tricks.

The Ten-Minute Inservice Book Study



Our school counselor wrote this guest post for us after he returned from a week-long professional development experience with the Marine Corps.  This is a program they run every year.

School Counselor Takes on the Marine Educator's Workshop


Now that I am teaching English 9, I will get to do Shakespeare twice this year.  See how I channel my inner pirate and Dave Burgess (who shared and commented on this post) to teach A Midsummer Night's Dream.

10 Items to Teach Shakespeare Like a Pirate


While this isn't August/September back-to-school time, we are headed back for a new semester.  Each of my five tips is perfect for January Back-to-School season.

5 Back to School Tips for the Secondary Classroom


What was the best part of 2016 for you?


7 Anchor Charts That Belong in the High School English Classroom

5:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I was recently looking back at my goals for the 2015-2016 school year, and one was to embrace some elementary teaching methods in my secondary classroom.  One of the ways I did this was with anchor charts.  I had a few in 2014 and even fewer the year before.  Now my classroom walls are as useful to my students as the furniture and supply bins.

I have made, re-made, thrown out, moved and crafted many anchor charts over the years, but here I have seven of my favorites for you.
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Real Reading vs. Fake Reading
Real Reading vs. Fake Reading: Some would argue that by high school, especially by 11th and 12 grade, students should not nee to be told what real reading is.  However, I find that is not the case.  I post this visual reminder and review it regularly; redirection is also as easy as pointing at the chart.

Some would argue that by high school, especially by 11th and 12 grade, students should not nee to be told what real reading is.  However, I find that is not the case.  I post this visual reminder and review it regularly; redirection is also as easy as pointing at the chart.
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Revision vs. Editing
Revision vs. Editing: This is my most often referenced anchor chart; it has a prominent place located at the top right of my front whiteboard.  As part of our weekly journal writing, we spend one day revising our writing from the week.  Just last week I asked students to explain the differences on their midterm exam.

This is my most often referenced anchor chart; it has a prominent place located at the top right of my front whiteboard.  As part of our weekly journal writing, we spend one day revising our writing from the week.  Just last week I asked students to explain the differences on their midterm exam.
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Daily Journal Expectations
Daily Journal Expectations: I am not really sure why it took me so long to make this anchor chart because every year I get question after question about our daily writing.  I am thinking about actually making this a little sticker and having them put it in their notebooks, so they have the directions right in front of them.

I am not really sure why it took me so long to make this anchor chart because every year I get question after question about our daily writing.  I am thinking about actually making this a little sticker and having them put it in their notebooks, so they have the directions right in front of them. 
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Lay vs. Lie
Lay vs. Lie: To be totally honest, this anchor chart started out to be for my own benefit, but the students use it just as often as I do.  I have debated recreating it to add: Lie- meaning to fib.

To be totally honest, this anchor chart started out to be for my own benefit, but the students use it just as often as I do.  I have debated recreating it to add: Lie- meaning to fib.
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Literature Discussion
Literature Discussion: I haven't held as many literature discussions this year as I had hoped, but here is to second semester being better than first semester.  Having a visual for students when they are participating in graded discussion is helpful.  In addition, my less outgoing students benefit from having sentence starters to help them form contributions to the discussion.

I haven't held as many literature discussions this year as I had hoped, but here is to second semester being better than first semester.  Having a visual for students when they are participating in graded discussion is helpful.  In addition, my less outgoing students benefit from having sentence starters to help them form contributions to the discussion.
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Literature Annotation
Literature Annotation: Annotation of both fiction and nonfiction texts has been a movement of my buildings for the last year or so.  There are lots of annotation charts out there, but I felt they weren't ever exactly what I wanted, so I created my own.  We will keep practicing to get this where it needs to be.

Annotation of both fiction and nonfiction texts has been a movement of my buildings for the last year or so.  There are lots of annotation charts out there, but I felt they weren't ever exactly what I wanted, so I created my own.  We will keep practicing to get this where it needs to be.
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A Lot
A Lot: Simple but effective.  Just the constant visual reminder and large space in between were enough to help me remember, so I use it myself now.

The last one is probably the most simple.  It is also a nod to my seventh-grade English teacher, Mrs. Lieblier, who passed away too young.  She was the person who taught me that 'a lot' is two words; she had 'a' on one side of her board and 'lot' on the other.  Simple but effective.  Just the constant visual reminder and large space in between were enough to help me remember, so I use it myself now.

A Lot: Simple but effective.  Just the constant visual reminder and large space in between were enough to help me remember, so I use it myself now.
A Lot: Simple but effective.  Just the constant visual reminder and large space in between were enough to help me remember, so I use it myself now.

I would love to know what anchor charts you have in your classroom.



Freebie Friday: Blank Bingo Boards

5:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I am on vacation, and I hope you are too.  I am bringing back Freebie Friday to celebrate.  This week I am giving away a bingo board template that you can use to review in your classroom regardless of your level or subject.


My juniors and seniors love playing games as much as my middle school students did when I taught middle school.  Any chance I have to incorporate competition, gamification, or games into my lessons or review, I will jump at it.

My Blank Bingo Board Freebie allows you to do the same.

Blank Bingo Board Freebie

This blank bingo board is a five by five board that is a fully editable document.

You can fill the boards in yourself, or you can work smarter:

Give each student a blank board and have them fill in the squares before playing a review game.  Students can select their own squares by pulling terms off from a spelling or vocabulary list or out of a chapter.

All of my vocabulary products include lists that can be used in conjunction with this bingo board.

A Midsummer Night's Dream Vocabulary
The Crucible Vocabulary List                  The Red Badge of Courage Vocabulary


Federal government branches vocabulary

Brain and Biology Vocabulary

Literary Terms List




Check out all my other Freebie Posts



5 Engaging Nonfiction Books for Students

7:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Nonfiction texts have become the "new thing" in education with the push for the Common Core Standards.  Regardless of how you feel about the standards themselves, I would argue that more nonfiction texts never hurt anyone.  In fact, many students find them more engaging than fiction stories or novels.  


Because of that, I have put together a collection of great nonfiction texts for students.
5 Engaging Nonfiction Books for Students

 I have received a complimentary copy of this book to review from the publishers, but the opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

Nonfiction pictures books aren't just for elementary students.  I love using them with my high school classes to teach background information and prior knowledge as well as to show text features and nonfiction analyzation.

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Adventures on the Queen Mary

This engaging true story about life as a teenage bellhop on The Queen Mary will delight any mind that has an interest in ships.

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To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space

I tried this picture book out with my high school women's studies class, who decided it was a winner.  Kathy Sullivan was the first woman to walk in space; her story will inspire any girl to head into the STEM field.

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Henry David Thoreau for Kids

Books with poets and poetry line the shelves of my Advanced Placement Literature class; students seem to be much less intimidated by poetry if it is found in a picture book.  In addition, the activities in this book ask the reader to interact with Thoreau's ideas.

I find that my students enjoyed perusing this book to read and analyze as nonfiction.  In addition my own daughter enjoyed looking at the pictures in the text.  I would love to add more books like this our classroom collection.

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Child Soldier

Our school taught They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky as part of our One Book, One County movement about five years ago.  This picture book would have been perfect to build prior knowledge; now we teach that novel as part of English 9, so Child Soldier will be making regular appearances too.

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Ten Ships That Rocked the World

My last pick is another book about a ship; well, actually ten ships.  This selection of quick reads about important boats in world history will engage any maritime or history buff from age 1 to 101.

Professional Reader

Do you have a favorite non-fiction children's book that I should check out?


Two Easy Christmas Gifts to Make Yourself

11:53 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Christmas is a week away and if you are anything like me, you still have a few gifts that you have not gotten covered.  These two DIY gifts are quick and easy to make, but they always get wonderful reactions from the recipients because they are so special.



Framed Family Cloud

Isn't this gift the cutest thing you have ever seen?

My oldest gave this one to her grandmother as a Christmas gift.

I have made no fewer than ten of these word clouds and each time the recipient has gushed about them.  We have one for our family that hangs in our hallway.

The first step is to type out all the family members first and last names in a word processing documents.  By having them in a document, so you can copy and paste or come back later if you are interrupted.

To create the image I use the site Wordle.  Word takes the number of times a word appears on your list and makes the word that sized based on the number of times it appears.  This is why you want first and last names so the last name will appear larger.  I also copy the adults' first names a couple extra times, so they appear larger than the children's names.

Then hit go!

Wordle will create your cloud of names.  Then you can change the font, color,  and formation until you get the combination that you LOVE.  This is my favorite part.

The last thing to do is to print and frame it.  I personally like them framed with matting as it makes it dressier to hang on the way.

Tweet: The whole gift takes less than an hour from start to finish. http://ctt.ec/uex50+ @kovescence #gift #craft The whole gift takes less than an hour from start to finish.

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Document Holiday Ornament

I am a packrat; I save all kinds of documents: every Christmas card, birthday card, notes from the teacher.  I have worked to sort and trash some of the boxes of papers that I have, but some are too precious to pitch, so I had to come up with a way to use and display them.  The document holiday ornament was born.

All I used was a clear glass bulb and the program from my friend's wedding.  I knew that I didn't need to keep the program from the ceremony, but I also knew that I did not want to throw it away.


Using my scrapbook paper cutter, I sliced the text of the program into one-inch strips.  Some of the border I trashed, and I could only use one side of the document.


Next, I rolled each strip into a spiral around a large marker that I had lying around to curl them.  I had to roll them fairly tight to get the strips into the bulb, but they uncurled once inside.


I was able to get five strips into the bulb without it looking crowded.


As the strips uncurled, you could see the back of the program as well, which was a very nice bonus.

What document would you like to put into an ornament for yourself or for a gift?





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