Sunday, December 15, 2019

Cherish the Holiday Memories

Holiday Table with Food

When I was a child, we had a large, extended family and everyone came to a big party at my parents' house on Christmas Eve to celebrate. We always gathered around the piano and sang Christmas Carols, ate delicious snacks and desserts, and then bundled up to drive to a neighborhood known for its beautiful decorations. We walked along together viewing the pretty lights. 

On Christmas morning, the children opened their gifts, and after church, we had a huge Christmas dinner that various members of the family had prepared. We even had fun while washing the mountains of dishes left behind. It was a joyous, boisterous, magical time for all of us. 

I think it would be safe to say that family holiday traditions evolve as families grow. After marriage, spouses bring the traditions from each of their families and blend them into new and special ones to share with each other and their children.
Now, our extended family has scattered to many distant locations due to their jobs. We are still very close in matters of the heart, but it is impossible for all of us to get together like we did in the past. Now, our tradition includes using the same recipes that our mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, and cousins used to create scrumptious meals for our own smaller families. 

We refer to the dishes by name: Mema's dressing, Vi's pumpkin torte, Ken's pecan pie, Aunt Kay's green jello salad, and Aunt Mimi's yeast rolls. Even our children know whom to credit for the delicious food on our table. And when our grandchildren are old enough, the recipes will pass to them to recreate and share with their future families.

I think our children and their children will remember holiday celebrations with their senses. What did they see that was magical? What did they hear that made them smile and sing along or made them tear up when the church choir sang Gloria. What will they remember touching like soft blankets or crisp ribbons on packages?

Gifts delight children and adults as well, but many of us will remember the fragrance of yeast rolls baking in the oven or the taste of pecan pie with whipped cream or some other favorite family dessert long after the memory of a present received has faded. 

I think it is important for students to cherish the memories they have of holiday traditions with their families. Click here for a free activity they can do before or after the Holidays.

I hope that your holiday season is beautiful in every way and that your wish upon a star comes true.

Thanks for reading,

Here are some links you might like to click: 

Christmas Sentence Patterns Practice Grades 9-12 

Subscribe to my Newsletter for more Freebie

FREE Christmas Crossword Puzzle Grades 7-12Visit my store: Charlene Tess

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Meaningful Activities to Do Before Winter Break

On the day or two before a winter holiday begins, students have often completely shut down their studious brains and fully engaged their frolicsome personalities. On such days, giving students free time is about as much fun for the teacher as having a root canal.

Some teachers need activities to keep students engaged during seemingly endless class periods, and others need good activities for students to work on after they finish semester exams or end of semester projects.

I always had a couple of holiday-themed exercises ready that would be fun for the students to do, but would also stimulate their higher order thinking skills. A little planning on my part made the hours leading up to the much-needed winter break a whole lot easier on everyone.

Please click here or on the photo below for two FREE exercises. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thanks for reading,

Here are several more ideas from my teacher friends. Visit their blogs and find out all the helpful information they have to offer.

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fall Into Figurative Language

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. "
—Stanley Horowitz

My students enjoyed learning to recognize and write examples of figurative language. Yours will, too.

Although there are many different types of literary devices, the five that follow are used most frequently and are the most common: Simile, Metaphor, Alliteration, Personification, and Hyperbole. 

Alliteration - The repetition of consonants. There should be at least two repetitions in a row.  For example, Sally sells seashells down by the seashore.

Hyperbole - A figure of speech that uses deliberate exaggeration. For example, I’m so hungry I could eat a cow. 

Metaphor - A direct comparison between two things that are different but suggest some similarities. For example, The girl’s eyes were jewels glowing in the darkness.

Personification- A figure of speech that gives human qualities to animals or objects. For example, The daffodils nodded in the rain. 

Simile  - A comparison between unlike things using like, as, or as though. For example, The compliment was as sweet as sugar.  

Learning to recognize these 5 literary devices and to write original examples of them will give your students a richer understanding of literature, and their writing skills will achieve a new level of sophistication.

My 6-page exercise has 20 multiple choice questions and opportunities for students to write the five literary devices. The answers are provided for your convenience. 

I hope you have a colorful autumn filled with vivid images and joyful events.

Thanks for reading,

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Friday, September 13, 2019

BOOM Cards™ Are an Exciting New Way to Learn

I love it when I discover a new way for students to learn that will help teachers 
and make their lives easier.

I haven't been this excited about creating new lessons in a long time. For years, I tried to present lessons that students could complete on the computer and have fun while learning. The problem was that there was no way for them to have immediate feedback, and the teacher had to grade what they had done.

Next came task cards, but still, the teacher had to get involved to provide feedback and grades.

And now, there are BOOM cards. Rachel Lynette, a veteran TpT member, and an expert on task cards teamed up with an innovative company to make digital BOOM cards. Now, students can practice concepts they have learned by "playing" BOOM cards. They get immediate feedback, and if they get the answer wrong they can try again. And, even better, they are self-grading. The teacher gets a report on all student activity.

It's amazing. Students ask for them. They LOVE playing BOOM cards.

Try it for yourself:

The exciting thing is that you can create your own BOOM Cards and tailor them to your students' needs. You can use them for practice and for quizzes. You can find out what you need to know here.

BOOM decks are not expensive and they save the teacher so much time. Most of the ones I created come with a mini-lesson. If you would like to see more examples of BOOM cards, click here.

Note: If you have an idea for BOOM cards that you would like for me to create for your students, send me an email at

Be sure to read the helpful and interesting blog posts below.

Thanks for reading,


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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Getting to Know You Activities

Getting to Know You Activities for the First Week of the School Year

The first few days of school at a secondary campus are exciting, fast-paced, and often chaotic. As counselors balance class loads, and students adjust schedules to include elective classes, students are frequently added to classes and dropped from classes. At my high school, we had at least two fire drills during the first week of school, and the senior class had a class meeting. In additions to those interruptions, teachers have many administrative duties, including organizing equipment, books, notebooks, and the list goes on.

I developed a unit that I used every year with every class. The students enjoyed it, and after the introduction, it required minimal involvement from me for several of the days. I was free to prepare seating charts, get my groups outlined in my mind, label and organize equipment, and again the list goes on.

This unit will help you with activities for the first day of school to get your students seated and accustomed to your classroom.

It includes a series of activities that will help students get to know each other and introduce them to you. The activities included in this unit are:
  • filling out an information card for the teacher’s use.
  • learning to prepare the heading on papers due to the teacher's wishes
  • learning interview techniques.
  • writing a series of interview questions. interviewing a classmate.
  • writing a personality sketch.
  • learning to use a rubric.
  • introducing a classmate to the teacher and the other students in an oral presentation. After completing all of the activities, students will have received three grades, and they will know a little bit more about the other students in their class. I hope you will find this unit helpful. You can find it here.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Activities for the End of the School Year

The last few days of a school year can evoke many emotions. Teachers are tired. Students are restless and are often anxious about end-of-year tests. And yet, it is also a time for reflection, and a time to feel nostalgic about young people we have come to love and admire. They will leave us soon, and we hope to see them again and hope that we have made a difference in their lives.

After the test reviews are complete and we are satisfied that our students are ready to end their course of study with us, there will be days when we need to find something for them to do. You can call them filler assignments if you wish, but I like to make them both meaningful and enjoyable. The key is to make the students use their minds and give them Higher Order Thinking Assignments (HOTS). 

I will share two of them with you. One is free. Enjoy!

Click here for a HOTS Classification Exercise that will make your students think.

Click here for a FREE HOTS Classification Exercise that is perfect for the last few days of school before summer break.

Thanks for reading,

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

I Feel Bad for People Who Say They Feel Badly

Sometimes, even people who try to speak and write correctly end up making errors. I know I am guilty of that. Often those errors occur when people try to decide between the adjective “bad” and the adverb “badly.”

Here's a quick explanation that may help.
Be careful when using the words bad and badly,” so you will say exactly what you mean.

Most of the time, the choice is easy. 
For example: He has a bad cold. 
(Bad is an adjective that describes what kind of cold he has.) 
He behaved badly. 
(Badly is an adverb that describes how he behaved.)

The problem usually occurs when the word follows a linking verb, especially the linking verbs “feel” and “look.” (Remember that adjectives, not adverbs, should follow a linking verb.)

  • I feel badly. (This means my sense of touch is poor.) 
  • I feel bad. (This means my emotions are sad, unpleasant, or I am ill.) 

  • Jon looks bad. (This means he may be ill, or his appearance may be less than attractive.) 
  • Jon looks badly. (This means Jon has trouble with his vision.) 

Don’t feel bad if you have been making this mistake in your writing or speaking. The President of the United States and two famous television talk show hosts frequently use these words incorrectly. On one of the programs, the host said, “No one can make you feel badly about yourself except you.” I had a mental image of fingers moving around in the air.

The best way to avoid this mistake is to be conscious of the fact that you are using any form of the verb “feel” (feels, felt, feeling) or any form of the verb “look (looks, looked, looking), and then choose the correct word. 

If you need help with grammar or usage, be sure to check out my Simple Steps to Sentence Sense series of books. They have everything you need to become a better writer and speaker.

Thanks for reading,

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

6 Confusing Words to Master

Confusing words, Tess's Tips

Learning to master confusing words is an essential skill for all writers. If students learn to use them correctly, it will help them throughout their adult lives.

Dying – means that a living being is no longer alive. Dying is the present participle of the verb die. Examples: I am just dying to see your new car. The poor man is dying of a horrible disease.

Dyeing - means to change the color of something by using a dye.
Examples:  Mother is dyeing her hair brown to hide the gray hairs. Jane is dyeing her shoes to match her dress.

Weather – means changes in the atmospheric condition. Examples: We need to check the weather before we set sail. The weather is warm and dry today.

Whether – is used to indicate possibilities or choices.
Example: He was not sure whether or not to eat sushi.

Whether - also means if something is or was true.
Example: Will you find out whether or not they want to go with us to the movie?
HINT: When choosing between weather and whether, be sure to pronounce the “h” in whether. If you are talking about clouds, rain, and such, choose weather. There is no “h” sound in weather.

Advice – is a noun that means an opinion or suggestion that one gives to another.
Advise – is a verb that means to give an opinion or suggestion.

HINT: Try substituting the word feedback into the sentence. If it makes sense, choose the noun advice.
Example A: I need your (advice, advise) on how long my speech should be.
I need your (feedback) on how long my speech should be.
Since you could substitute the word feedback in this sentence, choose advice.

Example B:  You need to (advice, advise) me on how long my speech should be.
You need to (feedback) me on how long my speech should be.
Since you could not substitute the word feedback in this sentence, choose advise.

Click here for a free lesson and exercise on correctly using these 6 confusing words.

Be sure to visit my store for more free lessons and take a look at my Simple Steps to Sentence Sense books. Help your students learn grammar and usage the easy way.

This article is an update from an earlier post.

Thanks for reading,

Charlene Tess author of  Simple Steps to Sentence Sense

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How to Choose Between Eager or Anxious

Before choosing between the words "eager" and "anxious," decide exactly what you mean to say. 

“Eager” means excited, interested, or impatient.
“Anxious” means afraid or nervous about what may happen.

Note the correct words in the sentences below:
Jane felt (eager, anxious) about the math test because she had not studied for it.
The bride and groom were (eager, anxious) to say their vows.

Now you try it:
The puppy was (eager, anxious) to please his master.
The patient was (eager, anxious) to hear the doctor’s report.

These words are often used interchangeably, but they should not be. They are not the same. Take the time to say what you really mean.

Visit my TpT store for more helpful tips and lessons.

Here's a bundle of task cards to help your students master more confusing words. You will find them here.

Confusing Words Task Cards Bundle 1

This post is an update from a previous post.

Thanks for reading,

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