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11 Escape Room Benefits, According to Kids

Most of my students made it out of the forest alive.

Whew. 😉

The kids were totally immersed in their escape room activity. They had just escaped the forest and were chomping at the bit to share their experiences. So we charted advice to our future selves about things we can do to be successful during our next classroom breakout adventure.

It only took a second to see that these kids had tapped into something HUGE. Every bit of advice was also a REASON to engage in more escape rooms.

This is when I knew we were onto something with these escape rooms.Not only can they reinforce and/or introduce content, they do so much more! They tap into soft skills that we talk about and encourage every single day until we're sick of ourselves. Or is that just me? 😏

Take a look; you'll be inspired! And scroll down for a FREE classroom escape, as well as a link for tips you can use to create your own breakout.

Best Advice for Writing Teachers? Use Mini-Lessons

Let's imagine that you're stranded at sea in a tiny rowboat. The weight of all the writing instruction strategies you've got up your sleeve are weighing the boat down, so you've got to throw them all overboard except for ONE.

Which one will you keep?

I'm saving mini-lessons. And I'll never look back.

Why? Mini-lessons, aka focus lessons, are the most effective way of delivering explicit writing instruction for many reasons.

Keep reading to find out the following:

  • What are the characteristics of a good mini-lesson?
  • What are the advantages of using a mini-lesson format?
  • How can they be used in a middle school ELA classes? (I use them despite the fact that our class periods are only 42 minutes long!)
I'm even including a link to one of my most helpful FREE mini-lessons!


Writer's Workshop in Middle School

One of the most frequently asked questions teachers ask me is How does Writer's Workshop work in a middle school class?

Middle school ELA teachers only have so much time in which we must cover a lot of material. I only see my students for 42 minutes a day. (Crazy, I know!) So I completely understand why teachers wonder how they can successfully use the writing process in a middle school setting. Teachers often feel that if they spend 2-4 weeks on a single writing task they are NOT addressing reading skills, grammar, and all of the standards that we are required to squeeze into the all-too-short time frames we have with our kids. 

First, let me say that I've tried everything over my 20-year teaching career, and I can say with total certainty that the workshop approach is superior to any other model. 

Middle school writer's workshop works for three reasons. 

1. Students learn to write best through practicing writing. 
2. Students will write more and be more invested in a topic of their choosing. 
3. Workshop models enable students to begin taking control of their own learning and think of themselves as writers.

Through our workshops we don't only address writing, we also address punctuation, sound sentences, capitalization, and a host of other skills. To a lesser extent, the peer conferencing we do helps kids practice reading and communication skills. 

That's not to say there isn't a time and a place for specific writing prompts for which responses are rapidly written, collected, graded, and returned. Kids do have to learn how to write for a testing situation. But for honing the craft of argumentative, informative, and narrative writing, the workshop model can't be beat.
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