mrs. yates class

A peek inside our classroom everyday!

A Bittersweet Goodbye

Well, I can’t believe I am writing this–but since many of you still are reading this–I felt this was the best place to make my announcement. I have decided to accept a new job with the Indiana Dept of Education.  My new title is Outreach Coordinator for Region 1.  I will still live in Newburgh.  However, I will be working with school corporations in the surrounding 14 counties.  I will help struggling schools get better and help showcase our standout schools.  I get to work with curriculum, instruction, data, and community partnerships.  I also still get to use and teach plenty of technology as well.

I went to school today to begin packing up all my materials! It was a bittersweet moment! I had such a great year with so many of you and I was truly looking forward to the next crew to enter into those chairs.  However, I am really excited about the next chapter in my life.  Please continue to stay in touch!!! You will be able to find my new email address on the IDOE staff page very soon!! (It is still being processed!)

Best of luck next year! I can’t wait to hear all the amazing things you are doing!!


Anyone home?

I hope you are enjoying your summer vacation! I don’t know about you–but it seems to be going so fast already.

If any of you are still checking this–I need some help!

I am presenting at the EVSC eRevolution Conference at North High School  on July 10 & 11.  My sessions are all about Blogging in the Classroom.  Why do it? How to do it? etc.  I’d love some of you to be there to give the student side of the story.  You would only need to be there for a couple of hours each/either day.  If you are interested–comment on this post or shoot me an email.  I’ll get back to you with the exact times of my sessions! 

I’d love to see some of you there!!!

Enjoy your summer!!!!!!!!

Final Time!

Well, today is the last day for me to miss.  I’m currently downtown creating online/digital resources that other teachers can utilize next year in their instruction!

So, here is the plan:

  • Hopefully-by now-all of you have acquired a netbook.  If we are short–go borrow some from a teacher in this hallway.
  • Read this blog in its entirety before moving on.
  • Go to the blog post “A Time to Reflect.”  It should be right below this post.
  • You will notice that I have written you a letter.  READ IT! (SILENTLY!)
  • Then, under the note is a survey.  It is NOT optional.  You can click on the link or answer the questions in the embedded form. It is up to you.  Please take your time and really be honest and specific in your answers.  All the answers will help me tweak the plans/delivery to the next crew that will enter our doors.
  • Finally, I would like you to write a letter to the next group of 8th graders that will enter.  I will give them your letters on the first day of school next year.  The letters should be full of advice, expectations, and helpful hints.  (They should NOT critique teachers, make fun of teachers, or be negative.) What do you wish someone had told you prior to this year? What tips could you pass along that might help someone be more successful in a class? (i.e. Mrs. Yates LOVES technology, Mr. Hauschild  LOVES Reese cups, Mrs. Yates is really good at catching gum violations and has excellent hearing.) Those tips are allowed–as long as they are written in a positive form that wouldn’t hurt a teacher’s feelings or make them mad.
    • You letter should be legible.
    • At least one FULL page.
    • You can put a big chunk about my class-since those will be the students reading it-but feel free to give tips on all your classes, NJHS as a whole, extra curricular, PRIDE, time managent, staying out of drama etc.
    • Let your personality shine through.
    • Be sure to sign the bottom–it is a letter after all.
  • You need to be sure you have also completed all of the blogs for this grading period.  You should have one per week. In a previous blog (look down 2), I have written out the topics we covered for each week of the grading period.  Please be sure these are completed since I will be grading them on Thursday.
  • While you are working today, you can plug in your headphones and tune the rest of the class out.  Check out this website, Songza.  You will be able to listen to streaming music-much like Pandora. (& it isn’t blocked–yet!)


  • I have left a list of names for students that still need to finish the summative assessment from last week.  Before you complete the items above–that has to be finished FIRST.   
  • Also, many of you haven’t finished your PARCC assessment.  You will have time tomorrow to finish that test.  Please come ready to write as soon as the bell rings.  I can give you no more time after tomorrow.
Enjoy! Behave! See you TOMORROW!

A time to reflect. . .

A letter to my students:

Dear Students,

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our year together and to thank you for being incredible!

This year was a year of many firsts! My first year back in the classroom after taking a year off to be an eLearning Coach. The first year that teachers implemented PLC’s.  The first year that I’ve had computers for all of my students to use all the time. (I was out of the classroom last year, remember!?) 😉 The first year where we ditched traditional paper and pencil and went for a digital approach! The first year for proficiency scores instead of traditional grading scales. The first year for Common Core Standards.  The first year for PARCC. The first year with a new administration. The first year with common Formative and Summative assessments.

You were fantastic this year with all of the changes.  Each time I came to you with a “first,” you took it in stride with little complaining or griping.  Sure, we made jokes, had a few laughs, but each time you worked right with me as we were trying to get it right! You were never rude with your comments or negative about the change.  You taught me a great deal about how to take things in stride and become a better teacher.  It is okay to take risks, to try new things.  Sometimes—amazing things happen—far better than what you hoped for.  Sometimes—you fail.  Miserably.  But each time I decided to take a risk-you were there with me. I LOVED that we had a classroom where it was okay to try something new and challenge the way things have “always” been done.  I saw such a transformation in so many of you as you learned to try something new and became rock stars through the process.

I want to applaud you for bringing your “A” game most days.  I really wanted to push you this year.  Some of you struggled with the release of knowledge and learning.  Although you were a little hesitant in the beginning-I watched many of you blossom into incredible learners and problem solvers.  Other teachers have commented to me this year that they can tell who my students are in the room.  They are the ones ready to try something new and don’t let road blocks stop them. (And the ones who stood out as technology leaders!) WOW! Could any higher compliment be paid?

Who needs paper and pencil anymore? When I met so many of you at 8th Grade Orientation, I told you we were going to try to become a digital classroom this year.  Many of you seemed so excited-but I don’t think you really realized what that meant! 😉 At the beginning of the year—you were making screencasts on Google tips.  By the end of the year you were creating multi-media presentations that could challenge many high school students’ abilities.  I have been AMAZED at the transformation in learning you have done.  Many times someone has commented to me, “Mrs. Yates, I didn’t bring any paper to this room.  We never use it.”  To me—that speaks volume of the classroom I was trying to create.  Although the netbooks caused plenty of headaches—overall they let us do things and learn in ways that weren’t possible just a couple years ago.

In closing, I want you to know how much I enjoyed teaching you.  Thank you for being my guinea pigs and letting me try all the news things with you.  Thank you for being understanding when my best laid plans didn’t work out the way I thought they would.  Thank you for trying and always staying positive.  Thank you for letting me teach you.  I have learned so much from you this year! I only wish we had another year together to continue the journey!

Best of luck next year as you enter the doors of high school.  I know you will do great things!! Enjoy your summer!

Best wishes,

Mrs. Yates

Now it is your turn to reflect on the year. . .

Here is a link to a survey I have created.  I hope that you will take time to be thoughtful and reflective about our year together.  This information will help me improve the class for the next group of students that will enter. (Please note–all questions marked with an * are required–the last one is the only optional question.)

You can also answer the questions straight from the embedded form below:

Blog Updates

Some of you have panicked because you realized that you aren’t caught up on your blogs for this grading period.  Listed below are the topics we covered and the week they pertain to.  Please use the previous blog posts as a resource to jog your memory and be sure that you are completely caught up! Remember–blog posts should be no less than seven sentences, have great grammar, word choice, etc–and show us your voice!

Mar 11 – Irony, Lamb to the Slaughter, The Lottery, The Luncheon, Jabberwocky, Context Clues

Mar 18 – Idioms, Figurative Language

Apr 1 – Main Idea, Summarizing

Apr 8 – Theme, Central Idea, The Most Dangerous Game, People Magazine’s Heroes Among Us articles

Apr 15 – Author’s Purpose, Author’s Point of View

Apr 22 – Paraphrase, Punctuation, ISTEP review

Apr 29 – ISTEP–oh, wait–just kidding, Game Show questions, Summative Assessment

May 6 – ISTEP, Flowers for Algernon  movie, PARCC

Istep Cumulative Practice

Games for Practice:

Reading Comprehension Skills:


Whole Practice Tests:

Paraphrasing & Quoting (or how to not plagiarize!)

YouTube Videos:



Author’s Purpose & Point of View

candyAn author’s purpose is the reason an author decides to write about a specific topic. Then, once a topic is selected, the author must decide whether his purpose for writing is to inform, persuade, entertain, or explain his ideas to the reader.

Resources you might need for author’s purpose 

PowerPoint Presentations

Handouts and Notes

Practice Exercises





  • Author’s Purpose and Point of View POST-TEST (Don’t peek until Wednesday!)

Central Idea

Graphic Organizer – Central Idea Graphic Organizer

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 12.06.02 PM

We do together – Teen’s company cleans up

You do alone (choose the one that interests you the most):


Here are some resources you will need for this week! Our focus will be on theme and central idea. (Theme = literature | Central Idea = Informational Text)


What is theme?

PowerPoints on Theme

Common Themes in Literature

The Cat’s in the Cradle lyrics – Cat’s in the Cradle Lyrics

Good Riddance lyrics – Good Riddance Lyrics – Green Day

Hold On lyrics – Hold On lyrics

The Most Dangerous Game text – most dangerous game (Sparknotes to help) (audio version-click hyperlinked mp3 next to title in orange)

The REALLY bad version!

Today’s thought for the day!

Today's thought for the day!

Please don’t forget to blog!

How to Create YouTube Photo Slideshows – A Good Alternative to Animoto

This is an amazing post I found and wanted to share with all of you! See what happens when you read blogs? You can find AMAZING things!! Keep this one filed away for next year!

How to Create YouTube Photo Slideshows – A Good Alternative to Animoto.


How to Create YouTube Photo Slideshows – A Good Alternative to Animoto

Animoto is an excellent tool for creating audio slideshows. But there are some limitations to it that some teachers don’t like. Most notable of those limitations is the time limit (30 seconds unless you get an Animoto for Education account), lack of space for text, and that students have to remember a username and password to use it. The YouTube slideshow tool provides a tool for creating audio slideshows without those three limitations of Animoto.

YouTube Photo Slideshows don’t have a time limit other than the standard 15 minute limit applied to all new YouTube accounts (there are work-arounds for this). YouTube Photo Slideshows allow you to specify the length of time that each image is displayed for. After uploading your images you can use the annotations tool to add as much text as you like to each frame of your video. If you’re working in a school that uses Google Apps for Education, your students can use their log-in credentials on YouTube so they don’t have to create separate usernames and passwords.

The images below show you how to create a Photo Slideshow on YouTube. (Click the images to view them full size).

Step 1: Log into your YouTube account and click “upload” then click “Photo Slideshow.”

Step 2: Select images from your Google Account or upload images from your computer.

Step 3: Drag and drop your images into the sequence in which you want them to appear.

Step 4: Choose a sound track and select the slide display duration and transition.

Step 5: Enter a title, description, and tags for your images. Select a thumbnail and privacy setting.

Step 6: Use the annotations tool to add text to each frame of your video. You can specify the length of time that each annotation is displayed for.

Watch my sample video below.


Watch this summary video!

Optional Resources:

Required activities:

Autism Awareness Day!

I started today in tears, seeing how many blue shirts were lining our hallways.  My students have been so supportive this year! I couldn’t believe how many of them turned out in blue today! I decided I had to take their pictures!! 😉

My Homeroom!


Block 1


Block 2


Block 3


There are many others in each class–but only the ones in blue made it in front of the camera today!

Main Idea

main ideaDefinition of Main Idea – Defining_MAIN_and_IDEA_SMEKENS

Main Idea Aliases – Aliases for main idea SMEKENS

Chapter Title (Main Idea) format – Chapter_Titles_TEMPLATE__Updated

Main Idea practice-click here!

Main idea Station Answer Sheet – main idea station answer sheet

Here are the song lyrics we will be using this week in our quest to find the main idea:

Main Idea Graphic Organizer 

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