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Monday, April 29, 2013

Electronic portfolio

This weekend, I decided to put together a portfolio.  This portfolio is to show growth and includes artifacts supporting my growth as a teacher. It is STILL a work in progress - meaning I am in the process of uploading the actual artifacts now. :-)  You read that correctly,  I am doing an electronic portfolio.  It is so much neater, displays my knowledge for technology, and much easier to give multiple people access to at the same time anywhere they may need it!

Check it out when you have a chance and keep in mind it's still a work in progress.  I hope to have it completely done by the end of the week with all artifacts uploaded.

I used to have an eportfolio, but it was boring, confusing, and  a lot for both the user and guest viewers to navigate.  Weebly is so much better!  I could recommend blogger as a site to keep your artifacts, but I feel weebly is much cleaner and simple that even those who are not tech savvy can use it.

Ms. Bergin

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Students and reading assigned texts

When I was in high school, I was expected to read a certain amount of books each summer.  There were some required reading and then we were able to choose from a list of ten books some years, other years we had to read only the required reading.  I remember spending the summer before my freshman year trying to get through Everyman, Morte d'Arthur, and Edith Hamilton's Mythology.  It was pure agony.  I didn't even understand Everyman.  Out of the three, the one I enjoyed most was Mythology.  Based on this, you might think I went to private school or catholic school.  The reality is, I went to a Title 1 PUBLIC high school.  In the years that followed, I read texts such as Canterbury Tales, Grendel, Lord of the Flies, The Things They Carried (my favorite summer text of all texts), Portrait of Dorian Grey, and many more.  Generally, I hated reading these texts, apart from The Things They Carried.  When I re-read them much later for my own pleasure, usually at the request of someone to give the text another chance, I liked it.

These days, it seems summer reading lists have faded away and reading during the summer is an elementary school thing.  High school students don't seem to be eager to read.  A part of me feels we should require summer reading list for students and have the textbooks relevant to their English courses, and in some cases, other courses as well, if possible.  I asked several students this question. Whether they would be into summer reading requirement and they all said no.  I asked whether they would read if the list had popular books such as Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.  They said no, because they like the series and being assigned the text would make them hate it.

This brings me to my next questions, do students oftentimes dislike texts they read in English simply because they are required to read it?  Would they enjoy it more if they had the option to choose when to read it in the course?  How can we make the stories more enjoyable when it's already painful trying to decipher the text, such as The Odyssey, any of Shakespeare's play, or Beowulf?  I have noticed when students can understand the text, they are more inclined to both enjoy and understand it.  It's the texts that are difficult to understand due to language differences that make students and teachers alike sometimes feel a root canal would be more enjoyable.

I welcome your thoughts and advice on teaching students novels, poetry, short stories, and plays with hard to understand language.  How can we make it more enjoyable, make it more accessible, especially for those not on grade level?
I also welcome your opinion on summer reading lists.

Ms. Bergin

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Hey y'all!

It's been a hectic few days between classes and withdrawal symptoms of caffeine - yes I am giving up caffeine and it's been a long few days. 

My students are now finishing up Romeo and Juliet.  I think they're so estatic they're nearly done with the play, but secretly, I think I'm a little more estatic than they are!  It's just gruelsome getting through Shakespeare, and hearing them groan and complain about having to read and figure out the language does not help me.  I've tried to keep it fun and light, but it is time to move on... I'm at my 3 week cap limit!  Next is Of Mice and Men.  They are going to love that book so much more. 

I am so grateful to know that Boston and the rest of the country is having a calm week after last week.  While I currently live in NC, I am originally from CT, attended college in RI, a mere 1.5 hour from Boston.  The Boston Police did a fantastic job apprehending the suspects!  Keep in mind those lives who are forever altered and those who did not make it through the ordeal.  We stand united with Boston -- #BostonStrong!

My students were glued to the CNN Student News each day to find out updates.  They certainly asked questions about Boston, if I knew anyone there (I did, but thankfully, none were injured or near the explosion at the time it occurred). The one thing that flabbergasted me of all... they were not familiar with the Boston Red Sox... personally, I'm a Yankee Fan, but the majority of my family are Red Sox fans.  I still remember the day the Red Sox won the world series in 2004.  I spoke to my class about it, because even though I am a Yankee fan, I had to celebrate the fact they finally won after 81 years.  They just looked at me like"ok?" Tough crowd!

How did your students react with the Boston Marathon explosion?  The capturing of the suspects?  How did you deal with it?

Ms. Bergin

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Entry for blog hop is CLOSED

Wow!  It's been a busy few days for me!  Been busy cleaning my house, doing yard work and all I want to do is collapse on the couch! Before I do, I wanted to make a post.

We are at capacity for the blog-hop! YAY!  For those of you who emailed Kristy, Thank you!  We no longer have room to add new people to the blog hop.  Stay tuned for another blog hop, and I will let you know how this blog hop goes!

We are almost in the final grading period!  Grades are due this week (AH!), weather should be faring quite well (thankfully!) and I am on a new health streak.  It's day 2 of eliminating soda completely!  Those who know me, know that I am known to always have a Mountain Dew.  I've tried multiple times to quit in the past, just to get suckered in.  The last time I quit, I was quite successful, until I landed in the hospital for appendicitis and my mother visited.  While she visited, she stocked up my kitchen with food, and soda and I fell off the wagon.  I should have just thrown out the soda instead of drinking it all, but couldn't let it go to waste!  I've also eliminated processed food (I am also known for lean cusines in the teacher's lounge for lunch!) and am now getting pretty good at cooking my own food again (yay!). This week I plan to get into a routine that allows me to exercise and push myself.  Hopefully it will become a routine I can stick with!  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

End of Year Blog Hop Rules

If you are interested in participating in End-Of-Year Blog Hop that is being hosted by Kristy (  Please contact her at

Here are the requirements for the hop:
1.     Create a new posted called Calming the Chaos - this must be the title as it will affect the back links and the html code

2.    Schedule the post to go live on May 4 @ 12am EST (use World Time Server if you need to convert this to another time zone)

3.    Share 1 idea only that you do with your class at the end of the year to keep them engaged. Think about a one or two paragraph post at the most with a picture or clip art to attract the readers. We are all super stressed right now so please don't feel you need to write more than 1 paragraph.

4.    Have a freebie download to thank people for coming to your blog. The freebie has to be hosted somewhere that does not require a log in password (Google Docs). You can also offer links to Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook, but for those people who do not use those sites a blog based freebie is best. If you want to promote a paid product please only promote one, and position it under the freebie with clearly labeled the cost. I don't want people to get discouraged. Freebies can be 1 page. Do not feel you need to make a 10 page freebie. 

I will send you all the html code you need and introduction etc. All you need to do is write the post AND email Kristy the PERMALINK to your post so I can link it up. 
If you are using blogger right under the scheduler, their is a place called Permalink. It will tell you the link URL even though it has not been published.
Please email me with your permalink by next week and/or with any questions you might have. 

Please consider doing this blog hop, it means more exposure for all involved in the blog hop!  This is meant to be fun and give us creative ideas for our classes as we wind down the school year with students who are not as engaged due to warm weather, summer vacation approaching, etc.

Have a wonderful Thursday and I hope to see you all at the blog hop!

Ms. Bergin

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

End-Of-Year Blog Hop!

A fellow blogger will be hosting a "Blog Hop"!  So far, she has 16 people who are interested in the blog hop.  I know if more people knew about the blog hop, they would sign up! 

Her blog is

An email was sent to me regarding the blog hop and how it will work.

The requirements for this blog hop is to share 1 idea only that you do with your class at the end of the year to keep them engaged. Think about a one or two paragraph post at the most with a picture or clip art to attract the readers. I was also thinking we should have a freebie activity for download at each blog. 

I think we can blend our grade levels because I think most ideas can be adapted for older or younger grades. 

If you are interested in joining, please email Kristy at

Ms. Bergin

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to read aloud

Hey y'all!

Over the weekend, I scoured the internet in hopes of finding a strategy to use to help students become better readers.  My students tend to mumble, read quietly or plain refuse to read.

I found this website --

It helps student to learn how to read aloud by focusing on tone words and punctuation clue meanings.  My students had a blast doing this activity.  It's definitely worth a look-see!

Have a Terrific Tuesday!

Ms. Bergin

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What college students wish their high school teachers did...

I read a very interesting article on what college students would like to tell their high school teachers.  Some points were made and I think I will try some of these points (syllabus) for next year!  Read below..

Drew Appleby was the director of undergraduate Studies in the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Psychology Department. Now retired and living in Sandy Springs, he sent me this fascinating essay on what college students would like to tell their high school teachers.
By Drew Appleby
I read Epstein School head Stan Beiner’s guest column on what kids really need to know for college with great interest because one of the main goals of my 40-years as a college professor was to help my students make a successful transition from high school to college.
I taught thousands of freshmen in Introductory Psychology classes and Freshman Learning Communities, and I was constantly amazed by how many of them suffered from a severe case of “culture shock” when they moved from high school to college.
I used one of my assignments to identify these cultural differences by asking my students to create suggestions they would like to give their former high school teachers to help them better prepare their students for college. A content analysis of the results produced the following six suggestion summaries.
The underlying theme in all these suggestions is that my students firmly believed they would have been better prepared for college if their high school teachers had provided them with more opportunities to behave in the responsible ways that are required for success in higher education
1. Give us a syllabus on the first day of class that has the schedule for the class planned out for the whole semester (e.g., tests dates, deadlines for papers, and grading scales), and then stick to that syllabus the way college professors do.
2. Don’t tell us at the end of each class what we will be during the next class period. That allows us to be irresponsible because we don’t have to read the syllabus to know what we are expected to do. Please help us to become as responsible as possible when we leave high school and go to college.
3. Don’t accept lame or undocumented excuses about why we don’t have assignments done, and don’t allow us to sweet talk you into letting us make up tests that we are unprepared to take. College professors seldom accept these types of excuses because they try to be fair by making sure all their students have the same amount of time to study for tests.
4.  Be sure to teach us how to be academically honest by requiring that we cite all the sources we use to support what we write in our papers. Most importantly, don’t ignore situations in which you suspect we may be plagiarizing. We need to know exactly what plagiarism is so we can avoid it when we get to college. College students who are caught plagiarizing flunk classes and are sometimes kicked out of school or are not allowed to graduate.
5.  Don’t let us pass classes just because we earned a lot of homework points or extra credit. In college, we will be graded on our ability to demonstrate that we have actually learned the material we have been assigned by passing tests. In college we are graded on our performance, not our effort.
6. Don’t teach us the answers to all the questions on your tests. Be sure to ask us some questions that come from the reading assignments you haven’t covered in class. In college, we must learn to be independent learners by reading and comprehending the information in our textbooks without having to rely on our professors to explain everything to us. Our professors are more than willing to help us with difficult-to-understand information in our textbooks when we ask them questions in class, but they are unwilling to “spoon-feed” us all the information we are supposed to learn from our reading assignments.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Friday, April 12, 2013


Hi y'all!

Who is as excited as I am that it's FRIDAY!?!?  It's been a quick and long week back from spring break and I for one could use a few days to just relax. 

In honor of Friday, I have a few FREEBIES for y'all! 

Click here for grouping cards - fantastic way to group students.  Included are instructions for how to use the grouping cards

Click here for research topics.  High school students are required to do a research paper at one point in their high school careers.  This is a handout that list 30 topics.  Students must choose a topic and formulate a question pertaining to the topic of their choie that they plan to answer.  My students LOVE this, it gives them freedom and allows them to be interested in their project rather than be assigned a specific topic.  This can be modified to work with middle school as well!

Click here for a character analysis and timeline activity.  My students are currently doing these projects and it is remarkable the blogs students wrote up and timelines students created.  It is tailored to Romeo and Juliet,  but can be modified to fit any novel or play. 

If you download any of these, don't forget to leave feedback and follow my store!  Always looking for ways to make my products even better!

Have a Fantastic Friday :)

Ms. Bergin

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bright constructin paper makes all the difference in an assignment!

Construction paper, especially bright colorful ones seems to get students engaged into a project immediately!  I'm not sure what it is, maybe the fact it's so colorful and different from the boring construction paper, but my kids are loving it! 

What's more, the kids that have "Crazy Scissors" are probably even more engaged and designing extremely creative timelines!  I purchased the colorful papers at Walmart - a cheap 3 bucks a pack and borrowed the crazy scissors from the library.  I think I'm going to have to invest in my own set of crazy scissors. Something tells me it will be a good investment! I need to add that to my wishlist! 

If you didn't know already, I teach high school!!  When you walk in my room, there's alot of consistency, daily routines/activities we must do, but then we have fun activities like this! 

Some of the more tech-savvy are doing their timeline on the computer, using a variety of programs such as PowerPoint, online INTERACTIVE timeline (I'm extremely curious about this timeline and cannot wait until it's done to see it in action!) and Microsoft Word.

I uploaded the timeline activity handout to for FREE!  It may be modified for any novel study to assist students in remembering the order of events.

I will be honest, this is not an original idea of mine.  I had to do a timeline in my British Literature course in college and emailed my professor for her handout since I lost mine.  I refined it to fit my classes and it is going quite well!  I told the students this project was based on a project I did in college, but modified to fit the novel.  They are elated to know that I think they are capable of doing level 300 college course projects! My college project was much more extensive and more indepth thought required, this project is just to keep the events straight along with identifying mood changes and elements of the plot.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thoughts on Technology

While doing our timeline today (for Romeo and Juliet) as a review of what we read yesterday, students asked if they could take a picture of the timeline after we put it together instead of copying it down.  I was ataken back by that request, but allowed them to do it.  It definitely helped move things along quicker and I did not need to pause to have students spend 10 minutes copying it down. 

Is this an effective tool to use?  I have no idea and it remains to be seen.  We all know the old tried and true way - writing helps you remember. 

The thing is, this is a different generation than the generation I grew up in.  I  grew up on the brink of technology.  I grew up in the days of AOL Instant Messenger and E-mail as primary internet communication.  The landline was the primary use of phone and cell phones were big blocks.  I went to school and took notes - pages upon pages of notes  (It probably did not help I did not know how to take notes until I got to college).  Nonetheless taking notes was the primary way to get information teachers gave us.

Now, we have cell-phones, web sites where we can upload our powerpoint, activities, etc.  Smartboards can be found in the majority of schools across the country.  Students are always telling me awesome ways to use technology (still have not been convinced of twitter yet!) and it is easy to see that students are most comfortable with a computer.

After this class took photos of their timelines, I couldn't help but think, are we on the brink of drastic change?  Are our roles as teachers continuing to change?  The role of a teacher has changed drastically since I've been in high school, but it is still changing - rapidly!  Thanks to technology today, the role of a teacher is starting to become more of a facilitator, allowing students to discover and learn on their own.  At what point does the change stop?  At what point will teachers be able to breathe and relax a bit before the next piece of technology is thrown at us and we need to revamp our teaching style yet again?

I believe in teaching according to student learning styles, and that's the way it should be in all classes.  Yes, we have different learning styles over the years and we take that challenge head on and it makes us better teachers.  With students so dependent on technology, we need to incorporate technology in our lesson plans.  I love technology and incorporate it often.  Does technology make our students lazy?  It's so much easier to just take a picture of a timeline than write it down.  Will we reach a point where everything is done through technology?  Will it happen during my teaching career?  It's hard to say.  I will say, I will embrace the challenge head-on and am eager to learn about new technology.  I just worry that students may lose something if they use technology 24/7. I'm not sure what they will lose, but they will lose something.

I will continue to encourage students to use technology and embrace it because they are truly the first generation growing up with the world at their fingertips and every piece of information they ever wanted a click away.

Ms. Bergin

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Interactive Timeline

Hi y'all!

The weather is beautiful, my sister got into and is going to attend Notre Dame with little loans, and the day went well!  On cloud nine!

Today, we reviewed Act I, scene i of R&J and read scene ii and iii. 

Here's a fun way to have students review what they read the day before - have them do an INTERACTIVE timeline!

I created a timeline on the SMART Notebook, listing all the events that occurred in scene ii, along with the moods.  I placed them all at the top of the page and students had to take turns coming up to put the events in the correct order and with the correct family (the top of the timeline is reserved for Capulets while the bottom is for the Montagues).  After students put the events in order, they had to identify the moods of the events.  Students LOVED it.  It helped with their understanding and a great refresher - especially for those who were out yesterday!

Since students have a project in which they must create their own timeline, they copied the information down so they had the correct information.

What I plan to do is after ACT I, continue the timeline, but eliminate the mood and have students come up with THEIR OWN mood words.  Once we are at Act IV and V, students will continue to put the events in correct order, but there will be less events posted on the page so students will need to fill in the gaps by writing on the board the events in between.  This activity will be available on TPT when we are done with R&J.  Stay tuned!

Just FYI - Students also have to identify the element of the plot, so we are currently in "Exposition" of R&J. 

Here is a "before" and "after" picture.  It took a good half hour (with students writing the information down), but it will definitely be worth it with their projects!

Speaking of their timeline projects, we are only day 2 into the R&J unit and students are bouncing ideas off of me for their timeline project, and let me tell you, I am anxious to see their final product! 

Ms. Bergin

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's back to the grind!

Day one back to school after our much needed Spring Break!  Students were obviously very chatty about their spring break!  A good tip regarding day after a long break - give the students that 5 or 10 minutes to chat about their break.  Remember, they probably haven't seen each other since before break and want to catch up, and that's human nature.  So give them that 5 or 10 minutes - it can make all the difference in the world in terms of classroom management.  An idea - have a timer on the board and let students know when the timer goes off, it's back to the grind!  Students will appreciate the time given.

I started Romeo and Juliet officially today.  Most classes seem to understand what is going on in the text, but one class seems to be a bit lost, which we are all working together to decipher the language.  One thing that thankfully is consistent with all classes is they all seem to enjoy the projects I have designed for them! 

One project focuses on Character Analysis.  Students are to write down the thoughts and feelings of their assigned character after an event occurs and if they are in the event, explain their actions.  They must do this in first person.  The thing that really gets the students excited?  They are doing it on Blogger!!  So part of their grade is to decorate their page to fit the character's personality and mood. The students did their first blog today and did not want to stop - usually it's like pulling teeth to get them to write anything!

If you struggle getting students to write, consider (if you can) having them create a blogger or something similar.  It's so much cooler than writing in a notebook or on loose-leaf paper.

Happy Marvelous Monday!

Ms. Bergin

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cursive vs. Print

When I started the semester off with my new crop of students, I decided I was going to write and type everything in cursive.  I made sure the cursive on the board was large enough for the students to read and understand (or so I thought).

I grew up in a public school system, while we did learn cursive in grade school, we were not required to write in cursive on every paper we did (that was more of a catholic school thing).  Despite not being required to write in cursive, we were expected to be able to READ and WRITE in cursive when necessary.

So, when I started off this semester writing in cursive - something all students in my opinion need to be able to read and write in, students complained and would not do the work.  I quickly realized students did not know how to read in cursive, nor could they write cursive.  I could blame this on not being taught cursive since that appears to be the case, as well as typing everything these days instead of writing.  Since I teach high school students, I did not have time to stop and teach cursive to the entire class (all three classes mind you), I had to revert to print.  Is cursive going the way of the landline? Is it really becoming obsolete?  Everyone really needs to know cursive to be able to sign their names for crying out loud.  If you don't know cursive, you are to put an X as your signature.  Will it get to the point that every person puts an X as their signature instead of their own distinguished signature?

I propose we bring cursive back!

Jeff Foxworthy's You know you're a teacher when...

Here's a quick, fun read for today! How many of these apply to YOU!?

You Know You're a Teacher When...

by Jeff Foxworthy

1. You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line.
2. You get a secret thrill out of laminating something.
3. You walk into a store and hear the words "It's Ms/Mr.> _________" and know you have been spotted.
4. You have 25 people that accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another.
5. You can eat a multi-course meal in under twenty minutes.
6. You've trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day: lunch and planning period.
7. You start saving other people's trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom.
8. You believe the teachers' lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine.
9. You want to slap the next person who says "Must be nice to work 8 to 3 and have summers off."
10. You believe chocolate is a food group.
11. You can tell if it's a full moon without ever looking outside.
12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says "Boy, the kids sure are mellow today."
13. You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public.
14. You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.
15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.
16. You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own needs.
17. You can't pass the school supply aisle without getting at least five items!
18. You ask your friends if the left hand turn he just made was a "good choice or a bad choice."
19. You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils
20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer and finally,
21. You understand instantaneously why a child behaves a certain way after meeting his or her parents.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Technology - what is in and what is NOT...

A few weekends ago, my sister traveled from snowy CT to beautiful blue skies Carolina to visit me. During her visit, she mentioned a comment that my youngest sister made to my mother - "...Mom, no one emails anymore, we tweet, message, instagram..." Naturally, I burst out laughing because that had to be the most absurd thing I ever heard of. I consider myself to be up to date on social media and the popular way to communicate. I still email regularly as does every one I know (apart from my sister apparently). Fastforward to the last week of March. Students had to write a paper. Some students did not print their papers out and wanted to go to the library to print. I told them no one was going to the library and instead they had to E-mail their paper to me. Imagine my shock when after 10 minutes students were still trying to email their paper to me. I went around to different students' computer and saw they were either creating an email account, OR retyping their paper into the email. I was flabbergasted! I pull up my email account and directed all students to follow my directions and that it did not matter what email account they were on, it was all the same. I had to teach ninth graders how to attach a document to an email and email it to me. After this experience, I had to think back on what my sister had said -- did she have a point? Is E-mail really becoming obsolete with this up and coming generation? What methods of communication and exchange of documents will be use in the future? I currently use Moodle with my classes and it works like a charm - they had been exposed to it in the past and are familiar with it, though I am learning Moodle this year as I go since it is my first year using Moodle. If there's anything I can learn from this, it's that students will make sure I am up-to-date on the latest form of communication -- Students have already started trying to get me to have an Instagram and Twitter account and have made very convincing arguments why these social medias should be incorporated in lesson plans and activities. Ms. Bergin

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Classroom Walls

Decorating your classroom

If you are a new teacher, the first thing you think of when planning on decorating your classroom is running to the teacher store and getting all these colorful posters and hanging them up.  If you are a high school teacher, you may not hang up much except a few posters relating to your content, because quite frankly, who has the time to concern themselves with classroom decoration when the more important thing is to prepare AMAZING lesson plans that will leave your kids wanting more at the end of the lesson.  

The truth is, if you go and buy posters and hang them up (after laminating of course!), what use are they in the classroom?  Your classroom wall should consist of teaching materials.  They should be posters, life size graphic organizers, or student work that you can point to while teaching.  This will help your students learn easily!

The best way to decorate your classroom?  Have your students do the work!  Identify your best artists, students who may need the extra credit, students who like to stay after school and have them post student work on the board or create posters relating to the unit.  By changing your walls for each unit, you keep your room updated, interesting, and creative!  Make those assignments pop by putting construction paper behind the student work!

April Vacation - a wonderful time to relax and recharge!

I have been on spring break this week and let me tell you, it has been FANTASTIC to just relax and recharge!!  When I get back to work, we are diving right into Romeo and Juliet, one of my favorite plays!  I've already gotten the students set up on a few projects, one of which will require students to keep a blog of their assigned characters.  The students are really excited about it, since it will be online, students can decorate their blog, add photos, and blog the thoughts and feelings of the characters.  It's a modern twist of keeping a journal!  Another project that I am extremely exited about is creating a timeline.  Students need to have a timeline of the events that happen in the play and the timeline will be updated continuously and will be checked weekly!  In addition, there will be a CLASS timeline so students can refer to it during reading!  Students who want extra credit can come after school to work on the class timeline (because as a teacher, I certainly do not have time to do it myself, and isn't it much better to have it student-created?!  I started the timeline off, but students will continue it and finish it off for me!)

In the meantime, as I relax and recharge, I scouring the internet for more fun activities to do with my students!  I came across an awesome project where students work with another class in creating a movie of the book they are reading (at the same time).  I thought it was so genius I immediately called my friend I went through the education program with in college and she apparently came across the same project.  She lives in MA, and I am in NC, we have decided this is a project we need to try out next year!  To see what I am talking about, visit this link - 
It certainly looks like a very time consuming and intense project, but I believe if my fellow colleague and I plan extensively ahead of time, there is no reason why we should not be able to pull it off!  Any comments on it?!