I know it’s only July, and I also know you’re probably already thinking about the fall. Today, let’s talk about a routine that helps successfully launch class each day:

Click here to see a M.U.G. Shot mini-lesson in action.

Click here to check out my M.U.G. Shot semester #1 materials.

Click here for Lit. Term Tuesday materials.

Click here for Words on Wed. semester #1 materials.

Click here for free Sustained Silent Reading (S.S.R.) materials.

Click here to read more about the nuts-and-bolts of the S.S.R. program.

Click here to read the Quarter Trios blog post.

Click here to learn more about the no-cheat vocabulary quiz strategy.

Click here for Brain Teasers semester #1 materials.

Click here for Commonly Confused Words/Homophones semester #1 materials.

Am I wrong about daily SSR and/or journals? What’s working for you as a class starter? Leave a reply below and share your success! Teach on, everyone.

Join the conversation! 14 Comments

  1. This is a must for new teachers! I think most new teachers underestimate the power of routine and expectations, especially at the beginning of a new school year. This serves as a good reminder about routines and activities that have worked well with my students, as I go into my 7th year. These all work with the most struggling 9th graders to the most advanced/AP 11th graders. (I have never taught seniors.)


  2. I was wondering if you could do a video or a blog post about how you handle differentiation. I know that differentiation can take a lot of different forms, especially depending on your context. I used to teach at a tiny school that did not do tracking of any kind in the ELA department; I had students with IEPs, ELLs, gifted students, etc in the same class period. Other schools have levels like regular, honors, pre-AP, etc. Differentiation would look different between those two types of schools. The school that I moving to this August will be like the second category, and I will have a few “regular” classes” and a few honors classes.

    Could you talk about your experiences with differentiation or helpful strategies? I know you touched on that topic just a little bit at the end of this video with the semester note packet for the IEP students, and I’m curious to hear more.


  3. Agreed, Rachel. It took me way too many years to figure this out. Initially, I resisted the idea because I thought the kids would think a routine was stale; the exact opposite turned out to be true. They like the familiarity as we launch and we still do lots of various interesting and, yes, unpredictable things in the bulk of our time together. Glad our experience aligns! 🙂


  4. Great suggestion, Julie! I definitely have room for tons of improvement in this area – my Big Plans are often thwarted by the daily reality of huge class sizes. Still, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. I just added your suggestion to my “make this video” topic list. I have quite a few projects in line ahead of it, though, so be patient with me. I’ll get there…eventually. 😉


  5. Hi Laura . . . I used your MUG’s this year with my 7th and 8th graders. I loved the notes about grammar. I have done some kind of bell work with my students because it gets them settled and ready for class and I get to do attendance. I have also used journals in my class since I first began teaching, but I changed from free writing journals to more academic writing. I used writing prompts and quotes and poems with my students. This way I do not have to read everything and I have a check list of what I am looking for with their journals. Once again, you rock. When I taught in Ohio, I taught at a school that was on the A/B 90 minute block. I enjoyed it. I also do SSR with my classes. My students read for 15 mins. on Tues. and Thurs. and they work on their reading logs or take RC quizzes. That’s all for me. Happy summer.


  6. This sounds like a really solid plan, Kendall, and I’m intrigued by the academic focus of your journaling prompts. Definitely something to think about/explore. Thanks for watching! 🙂


  7. Hey Laura! I am a big fan of yours! I use your materials, but I use them a little differently in my classroom. I love the vocabulary words/lessons you created. However, I wanted to quiz my kids over the words they were learning, so I usually give five words at the beginning of the week, then over the course of the week I give activities for bellringers using those five words (create synonyms and antonyms, research etymologies, and make flashcards). But I also love the M.U.G shots, so I use them when I have those pesky five minutes left in class, or if I need a break from the vocabulary words (aka grading the quizzes), I take a break from the vocab lessons and just do M.U.G shots for one week. I did this routine last school year, and it worked well. I actually went through all of the M.U.G shots and most of the vocabulary lessons!

    I HIGHLY RECOMMEND ALL of your products, and I agree: bellringers are a must for classroom management!


  8. I LOVE when teachers take my raw stuff and tailor it to fit their own routines and personalities, Katie. I never would’ve thought of chunking up the vocab. tasks like this, but I can see so much value in this approach. I also am now thinking some my extra MUG Shot slides would be awesome Quarter Trio challenge tasks. Oh, girl, you got me thinking… 🙂


  9. Excellent review of strategies for the beginning of class! Even though I’ve been teaching high school English for over 18 years, I love the resources you’ve compiled on this page and I look forward to reading more of your blog in the coming weeks when I have some off time during the summer. I already am thinking about stealing your “Lit term Tuesday” activity. Question about that: do you share with students the entire list of terms at the beginning of the year before you hit each word? Wondering if the order of terms is specifically organized around the content you are reading/studying during a given week. If so, are students given an overview of thematic areas of study before you go through sequentially?

    Using modern examples and having students provide their own examples is important in my classroom also. Thanks for sharing great ideas to stimulate us teachers during the summer months!


  10. So glad you found my blog, Marc. I wish I could say that I had a masterfully coordinated schedule of lit. terms built to reflect our current week’s literary work, but I’m just not that organized. Sometimes, there is a nice convergence, but usually not. We just go for it. I don’t give out a master list of terms at the beginning of the year, but I agree that would be a great addition to my practice. Basically, I sat down one summer and wrote a list of all the terms I thought a kid would need to know to do well in any English class and went from there. Some of the terms are – I hope! – review for my high school kids, while others are new to them. For example, they all know protagonist and antagonist, but adding anti-hero and foil is usually new info. for most of my kids. Hope you’re enjoying a restful summer!


  11. I hear you about hoping for a “nice convergence” in terms of content/material matching up with what students are learning in different classes. At the beginning of the school year, there always seems to be a concerted effort among Humanities teachers to align content throughout the year. But come November or December, the alignment gets out of whack and all one can hope for our those natural convergences that can occur and that students can benefit from.

    Really enjoying your blog and will be exploring other topics posted here!


  12. Indeed, Marc, the best laid plans of mice and men…


  13. I just found you via Pinterest bell-ringer board. THANK YOU for your openness in sharing all the ideas and for taking your valuable time to do so. Heading over to Twitter to follow you.


  14. So glad you found me, Michelle. Welcome to the blog community! As for Twitter, that’s one path I haven’t yet walked. I have the blog, Pinterest, Facebook, TpT, and YouTube – more than enough for me for now. Be sure to subscribe to the blog, my home base, and you’ll get an email every time I upload something new. Thanks again! 🙂


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high school English, middle school


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