Google+ Badge

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Documentation, Documentation, Documentation!

As a beginning teacher, I had no idea how much documentations teachers really needed to have!  We need documentation that we are contacting parents, tutoring students, documentation of whereabouts of our students, etc!  It's enough that we have to grade tons of paper, put the grades into the grading system as well as into our grade book (always best to have a hard copy!)  and develop lesson plans!  We need to document everything else we do?! Documenting can really push a teacher over the edge and overwhelm a new teacher.  Fortunately, documenting can be very simple, as long as we do it right when it occurs.  For some of the documentation, students can do it themselves!

My cure to being stress-free (or well, at least reducing some of the stress that comes with documenting) is that I have created several templates for documentation.  I have a parent contact log, tutoring log-in sheet (students sign themselves in), hall pass that is kept in the room (students fill this out as well - students also have a bathroom pass they fill out on their own and only come to me to sign off on it - more about this later!), and Late to class sign in (students without a pass must sign in themselves and document why they are late).  The only thing I fill out is the parent contact log and I do that right away when I call the parents, everything else is done by the student!  It's great!

If you want to purchase these templates, please visit my store 

Seating Charts

During this semester, I have come to realize that seating  charts can be one of the most handiest things a teacher can have.  I love rearranging my desks according to the lesson of the day.

Therefore, I have 7 different seating charts!  Please visit my store,  to purchase my seating charts for your class!

The seating charts are designed with thirty desks in mind.

Seating charts include:

Drama (Large circle)

Group work

Pair seating

Traditional row and column

Few unique classroom set up!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012



Well it's been quite a while since I've posted!  Since I've last posted, I've been quite busy with Of Mice and Men with my students!

I have so much to talk about regarding the last month I've spent teaching that I don't even know where to begin!

I've turned my door into a "Twitter Door"!  At the end of class, students are given a sticky note and must write a question, a comment, or summarize the lesson.  I go over it and use it as a tool to refine my lesson for the next day!

The kids love it!  They must follow the rules of no more than 140 characters, can use hash tags, and comment on other posts if desired.

In an effort to promote student achievement, I have incorporated S.W.A.G.  - Students with Academic Greatness.(Click on S.W.A.G.  to purchase my S.W.A.G. packet for your class!)  Criteria to be a member is to be present in class ALL week, have 84 or higher, and be respectful and focused at all time.
While I am a huge fan of technology, and will do anything with technology, I prefer to have hard copies of EVERYTHING.  Therefore, I have created binders for each unit that I do.  I have created 2 binders - one for The Odyssey and one for Of Mice and Men.  I am putting a master copy and answers into the binder each time I print a class set so next year, I have a solid unit plan in place and can just pull from my binder instead of scouting the internet for resources!  :)

I have also gone to quite a few workshops since the last time I posted, and boy were they awesome!  The first one was on classroom management.  Now, my classroom, if you walk in, it's chaos, but if you stick around a bit, you will see it's organized chaos and students are engaged, even if some are walking around the room :)  I took the following away from the workshop:

  • Be consistent in your procedures and rules.
  • Make sure your students know the procedures - even if you need to practice with your students!
  • Make sure students know consequences and follow through.
  • Do not make a scene in the classroom.

The second workshop I attended revolved around lesson-planning.  While my group did not get to develop lesson plans we were able to discuss the importance of lesson plans and how to develop a lesson plans.  Oftentimes, teachers plan without realizing we need to model.  Some students may just not know how to do something (we learn to drive first by watching, then by our parents giving us the play-by-play, then we get behind the wheel - we never hop in the driver's seat without having some idea of what to do!)

The final and most recent workshop I attended was actually just yesterday.  It was just a handful of new English teachers from two high schools.  We met to discuss how things were going, what we would do differently next semester, and to learn all about google-docs, Holt McDougal Online, OneNote, and Moodle.  Being a fan of technology, I loved this workshop! My 9th graders have laptop so I can easily incorporate these programs into my lessons!!  I'm so excited!!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Today was a workday so I didn't have any students.  Today was devoted to putting grades in the system and working on benchmarks.  However, I had already completed those earlier by always putting grades in the system right away and working on the benchmark at the last workday.  Therefore, I was allowed the luxury of spending most of my day planning and developing lesson plans for my upcoming unit Of Mice and Men.

Last year, I started the year off by putting grades in my grading book, but not into the system.  I hated having to spend an entire day putting grades in the system for progress reports or report cards.  After that one quarter, I vowed never to do that again.  I started putting grades in the grading book AND in the system right away.  It saved me so much time! 

Lesson learned:  keep putting in grades right away instead of waiting.  It may seem like a hassle, but only takes up a few minutes of your time as opposed to waiting to do it all in one day and spending hours putting grades into the system.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Of Mice and Men

Hey ya'll!

It's a nice long fall weekend and I've been exploring different activities for students to do for my upcoming Of Mice and Men unit!  I am so excited about this unit and want my students to be just as excited as I am.  Therefore, I created a playlist on YouTube of music strictly relating to the 1930s and the Great Depression.  There are great songs such as Brother Can You Spare A Dime?, Hard Times, and Whistle While You Work.  Yes that last song I mentioned is from Snow White, but rings true for the ending of that time period.  I created a virtual field trip that will spare students from listening to me drone on and on as well as reading articles about the 1930s and instead allows them to explore different websites, view different clips about the Great Depression, Migrant Workers, Dust Bowl and John Steinbeck himself. I am working on my classroom tomorrow to get it decorated for the unit.  I feel if the classroom is decorated for the unit, students will be more interested and can make connections.  I do not plan on having students read and answer questions for 90 minutes each day.  Instead, I plan on splitting the blocks in half - spend half a block reading and completing their study guide and the other half doing activities relating to concepts such as theme, setting, characterization, etc.  This way I do not lose student engagement and students are constantly learning instead of just reading. If you would like to see the unit plan I have compiled, please email me and I will upload it to

Happy Fall!

Ms. Bergin

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Wow!  My school is starting a 1:1 laptop initiative.  Students are extremely excited about getting their laptops and I am very excited about this as well!  This means I can create more technology based activities which will hopefully increase student engagement and reduce paper use!  So far, only ninth graders get the laptops this year (thank God I teach ninth graders!) and next year all grade levels will get them.    I've been doing nothing except thinking about different activities and creating online activities for the students to do in the classroom!  So far, I've created a virtual field trip on Prezi for the upcoming novel, Of Mice and Men along with developing projects that are media-based.  I'm so excited!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Students slacking off?

Are your students slacking off?  Taking forever to complete assignments?  Do you feel you are pulling teeth with these kids?  Well I'll let you in on a secret, kids don't hold themselves accountable because you don't hold them accountable.  "But I grade their papers!  I encourage them to complete their work!"  you say.  Ah, but how much extra time do you give them to complete their work?  My first year teaching, I often times allowed them to have extra time to complete assignments. However, kids started taking forever to get it done, especially in group work!

My cure to this?  a Timer!  Having a timer on the board holds myself and my students accountable in completing assignments and instructions. 

How does it hold myself accountable?  I will occasionally have the timer on when I am giving instruction or a lecture.  After 10 minutes, I HAVE to stop talking and let students do some type of work (drawing a representation of what we discussed, filling in a graphic organizer, etc)  This keeps kids engaged and I'm not talking all block! 

For younger students,

For students who are in high school, a simple timer on the SMARTBoard will suffice.  If you do not know how to get a timer on the SMARTboard, open a new notebook, click on the picture frame tab thats on the left side of the notebook, under the page tab.  type in timer in the search and click on interactive and multimedia.

Another advice, give the students their graded papers back ASAP! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For all you newbies!

If this is your first year teaching, you should be now leaving what teachers like to call "the honeymoon period" and kids are comfortable with you and will try to test you, if they have not already done so!

Some things to keep in mind to maintain control of the class:

Students, no matter the age LOVE consistency.  If you stick to the rules and procedures of your classroom and do what you say you will do if a student breaks the rules, the disruption will be kept to a minimal.

Students LOVE positive rewards and respond to that way better than consequences.  Keep a bag of candy or fake money students can earn to get a prize in your desk and pass them out to students caught doing good things, doing what they are supposed to do, or simply because they did great on a test or quiz!  Make sure you reward students who are often trouble-makers when you catch them doing something good, or simply just being on task or keeping quiet for a whole 10 minutes!  Kids who stir up trouble are often times looking for attention and that is the only way they know how to get it.  Show them that if they behave and do what they are supposed to do, they will get attention.

If you get the "ring leaders" of the classroom on your side, it will help tremendously in classroom management.  Ring leaders like to be in charge, so give them something to do - assign them leader of their group, allow them to be paper passer or be the timer.

Make POSITIVE phone calls and notes to send home!  Parents don't get this often and it can help establish a good working relationship with parents if you do this, so when a student misbehaves, parents are more likely to work with you.

If you have a 90 minute block, allow time for students to breathe and walk around a bit, especially those hyper active kids! Incorporate movement into your lesson (IE gallery crawl, stations)

Flip Classroom

 Have you ever heard of a Flip Classroom?!?  A former colleague has just told me about it, and can I say, I'm in LOVE with the idea!  Video tape yourself, have students watch the video at home, and they can do the "homework" in class while you are there to assist.  This idea has to be genius.  It saves time on lecturing, and gives you more time to practice the concept you are teaching with the students!  Granted, it only works if the entire class has a *working* computer and internet they can access from home.  However, this idea is excellent for students who have been absent from class and need to get caught up.  Instead of scheduling time after school, you can redirect them to the classroom computer to get them caught up.  To see a sample video, please view my colleague's video:
This can also be GREAT if you want to do cross-curricular activities, for example, if doing cross curricular in English and History, have the History teacher video tape themselves and all you have to do is pull the video up on your SMARTboard!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


New and much cooler version of a PPT!

Sign up with Prezi:

Prezi is a much cooler version of a power point and kids LOVE it!  If you want to see a sample, please preview this prezi I made:

I recommend Prezi to any teacher, student, or even workers in the business world if you to really WOW your teacher or boss with your presentation!

Argumentative Writing

Argumentative Writing

As teachers, we know the importance of teaching our students argumentative writing.  We need to teach them the basics - claim, reasons, and evidence and then give them a writing prompt to respond to.  

What if you made argumentative writing fun?  What if students were engaged?  Then students would get it quickly, it wouldn't be painful to read the essays.  If you are interested, please visit my store at Teachers Pay Teachers for the lesson plan:

A quick preview of the lesson plan:

What I do is split my class into two groups facing each other.  there are three roles in the two groups: Reader, Writer, Speaker.  Each member of the group must eventually take a turn in each role.  I start off assigning the roles that best fit the students (The students that never stop talking are speakers, the students who love reading are readers, and the rest are writers).  A prompt is on the board and students must work together as a team to get their answer and evidence to back up their answer before the other team.  To read more, purchase my Argumentative writing lesson plan.

Teachers Pay Teachers

Online Store!

I have signed up with TeacherspayTeachers.  Please visit my store for lots of fun, creative, and educational materials.  Please bear with me as I am just starting up this site. I will have tons more materials up soon!  



I don't think people realize just how effective technology is in our classroom.  Sure, we all use the SMART board, but how many of us actually play around with the SMART board on our own time to see what we can find?  I don't know about elementary teachers, but middle and high school teachers don't concern themselves as much with creative ideas.  They stick to a routine that works for them.  

I am a proud technology addict and will proclaim my addiction to anyone that sticks around to hear it.  

Take an hour out of your day and explore SMART notebook, learn how to work the clickers, if you have an airliner, learn how to work it, and find creative interactive games students can play.  Students will become even more engaged than they already are and they will learn so much more.  Remember, technology is these kids' lives.  They have grown up around it and do not know a world without technology.  It is up to us to show students how technology can be used as a learning tool, and more importantly, use technology offered in your school to help develop and refine 21st century skills.  


Welcome to my blog!

I recently completed my first year teaching in an inner-city school before relocating to another school.  As a first year teacher in a tought inner-city school, I did not have many resources and help available to me.  Throughout the year, I have developed many different activities, strategies, creative decorations for the walls, as well as techniques for maintaining organization!

I hope you find this blog helpful and I will be adding more things as I work on it!

Ms. Bergin

If you ever want to make a few bucks for your lesson plans, click on the following link!  You won't regret it!

Not convinced? check out this article Yahoo posted: