Category Archives: Literary Sherri

Plan Now for a Brrr-illiant January!

As we enjoy the last of the busy school days with our students prior to winter break, now is a good time to think about January and helping our students look forward to returning to school! Here are a few things I do each year to prepare:

I introduce a new read-aloud book that we will start in January by reading an exciting paragraph or two that will hook students, then I display the book in the front of the room as a visual reminder that we have something to look forward to! The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is a wonderful read-aloud (yes, I read picture books to my middle schoolers!). Love that Dog and Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech are great January read-alouds that get students laughing (and thinking . . . and writing).  Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a riveting read-aloud for middle schoolers that hooks students on a series — many of them will go on to read the rest of the series — 7 books in all — on their own!

Give students a few minutes during the last day or two to cut out paper snowflakes while you read a book aloud. Provide students with either coffee filters or copy paper (cut into 8×8 squares or 4×4 squares) to make snowflake-cutting more manageable. Use double-sided tape to hang the snowflakes around the room. You may also want to hang a few from the ceiling with fishing wire. Add a few white paper lanterns from the ceiling and return to a Winter Wonderland in January!


Take a few minutes on the last day of school prior to break to have students clean and organize their own desks, tables, cubbies, and work spaces. I also organize my own work spaces and clean the tops of all surfaces (hello, Lysol Dual Action Disinfecting Wipes!). There’s something really energizing about coming back to an extra-clean room! Students seem better able to focus and concentrate when their classroom is clean and organized – it’s a nice re-set button to push!

Bring in a couple of lamps. January’s gray days can be brightened with a little extra light in our classrooms, and a couple of colorful, fun table lamps or floor lamps add an ambience that is much more effective for learning than harsh overhead lights!


Plan a fun activity for the first or second week in January and build it up on the last day of school before break. Activities that work well in January include marshmallow catapults, Snow Ball (a fun day filled with snow-related activities and read-alouds), and snowman-building challenges (students work in teams to build snowmen using balls of newspaper that can later be recycled).


January is the perfect time to either reinforce or re-establish classroom expectations, so I also plan a couple of fun ice-breaker-type activities for our first days back that will provide an opportunity to review classroom rules, routines, and procedures.

Planning ahead for January can help both you and your students look forward to returning to school after a long winter’s nap break! What do you do to re-energize your class in January?

Literary Sherri

Literary Sherri TPT Super Cyber Sale December 1-2

Plan Now for a Brrr-illiant January was written by Literary Sherri.

If you enjoyed this post, connect with me on Bloglovin, FacebookPinterest, and TpT!



2014 Holiday eBooks

holiday ebook featured image.001As a thank you gift for the holidays, Rachel Lynette and others collected, organized and compiled teacher tips and resources from sellers all over Teachers Pay Teachers.  These books are full of FREE resources to say “Thank You” to all of the teachers out there that support other teacher-authors on Teachers Pay Teachers. The books are a holiday gift to all of you from all of us!

Some of the authors here on The Teaching 2 Step were lucky enough to be featured in these books. We’d like to  give you a peek at those free products and make sure you have all the links you need to find these amazing eBooks! We are sure you’ll find a ton of great FREE resources in this book . If you find some new favorite stores, make sure and follow them to keep up with their TpT journey!

Art with Jenny K. made one of her paid products FREE just for this book! She says, “It’s one of my all time favorite “magic tricks” that I’ve used in the classroom, at birthday parties, and even with my niece. I wanted to share it with teachers to say thank you for all the support I’ve recieved for my store.  Using shaving cream, I  teach you how to make marbeliezed paper and then create original Christmas ornaments with the paper.” Click on the image below to see this product featured in the grades 3-5 eBook.

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Literary Sherri is giving teachers the gift of 12 holiday writing prompts that commemorate winter holidays around the world, including  Hanukkah, St. Nicholas Day, Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Winter Solstice, Festivus, Christmas, Boxing Day,
Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Omisoka, and New Year’s Eve. “These writing task cards are unique because they provide a bit of background information about each holiday, so they can be a teaching tool as well as a writing tool! Pique your students curiosity about traditions around the globe and give them the gift of a broader worldview by using these writing prompts to introduce them to the beauty and diversity of cultures around the world!” Click on the image below to add this free product to your December repertoire of resources!

2014 Winter eBook_Literary Sherri

Brain Waves Instruction featured her newest freebie.  It’s an end-of-the-year reflection and infographic.  “I’m totally nuts about infographics, so I thought I’d share the love with students and other teachers.  This freebie includes reflection questions about the calendar year for students and then an infographic template that students can present the events of their year on.  This is such a fun activity to do on the day before the holiday break or even the day they return to school.”  You can check out this freebie by clicking on the image below.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed looking through the books to read all the great tips and see the creativity of the teachers while they share their gifts with you!

Here is a list of all the eBooks. Please consider sharing them with your teacher friends and on your different social media sites — there is something here for everyone!

Grades PreK-K

Grades 1-2

Grades 3-5

Grades 6-12 ELA, Humanities, and Social Studies

Grades 6-12 Math and Science

Be sure you check out Rachel’s tips and gift! It’s so gracious of her to spend her time putting together these eBooks for teachers. And a huge shout-out (with a truckload of thanks!) to  Addie Williams, Rockin’ Teacher Materials, Mrs. Miner’s Monkey Business, and Julie Faulkner for compiling their books, as well!

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Giving Back this Holiday Season!

It’s hard to believe December is knocking on the door! While I’m not one who cares for the commercialization of the holiday season, I do otherwise love all things Christmas, including gift-giving!

Each year in early December, I read one of my all-time favorite books aloud to students: “The Quiltmaker’s Gift” by Jeff Brumbeau.


Afterwards, we discuss the importance of giving, especially to those in need, and we choose a class-wide community-service project. We’ve gathered books, food, and toiletries for Ronald McDonald House and local shelters, collected Pennies for Peace, gifted needy families with chickens and honeybees so they could support themselves throughout the year through Heiffer International, and made quilts and put together care packages for Soldier’s Angels — all causes that are near and dear to my heart!


A few years ago, my classes started donating to KIVA each holiday season. KIVA is a non-profit organization that strives to use the power of the internet to connect people who are in need with those who want to help. You make small loans – starting at $25 – to people around the world (including right here in America, by the way!) who are working diligently to provide for their families or to pursue higher education. The recipients pay the money back so it can be re-gifted to someone else in need — continuing the circle of compassion, kindness, and empathy– all the big lessons and life-skills we hope to teach in our classrooms! KIVA has a 99% repayment rate and one of the best aspects of the program is this: When your loan amount is repaid, you can re-gift the money to someone else in need!


My students bring in either .50 or $1 each and we send $25. When classes give, the next class usually gets to re-gift that money, as well as choose their own gift recipient! Students have so much fun deciding which country, then which person will receive their loan! This is truly a gift from the heart that keeps on giving and it’s fun to watch students give with such joy and enthusiasm!

If you or your class would like to give through KIVA this year, here’s a link:

Wishing you a beautiful December and happy gifting!

Literary Sherri


Giving Back this Holiday Season was written by Literary Sherri. If you enjoyed this post, connect with me on Bloglovin, FacebookPinterest, TSU, and TpT!

Fifteen Fabulous Reasons to Use Quick Writes in Your Class!

Since this is my first post to this blog, let me start by saying I’m over-the-moon excited to hop aboard and join the two-step! I’m Sherri of “Literary Sherri” and I bring 22 years of teaching experience, mostly in Middle School English Language Arts, to this dance. photo

I’m especially passionate about literacy, so the vast majority of my contributions will be literacy-based. Posts such as this . . .

Are you using Quick Writes in your class?

WHAT: Quick Writes (a fancy way of saying, “We’re going to write a quick response to a writing prompt”) is a versatile literacy strategy used to develop writing fluency, build the habit of reflection into learning, and informally assess student thinking. Quick Writes prompt learners to respond in 10 minutes or less to a given prompt, then share their response with peers. (I try to give students 10 minutes to write on most days – but some days we can only spare 5-7 minutes. No worries – this is informal writing!)

WHY: I’ve done Quick Writes with my students for years and I really believe it’s one of the most important activities on our agenda! I learn so much about my students that I would never know otherwise. Their writing helps me get to know students on a more personal level, builds rapport, and fosters a nurturing and caring classroom environment! Quick Writes (when shared aloud) frequently prompt my students to laugh together, celebrate together, and offer support to one another with hugs, fist-bumps, or high-fives.

Quick Writes also help students think critically about significant issues and broaden their worldviews as they hear their peers’ viewpoints. The most important ideas are often the most difficult to articulate. Quick Writes help students learn to articulate their thoughts in a safe environment, knowing the content of their writing is not going to be criticized.

HOW: When students enter the classroom, the Writing Task Card of the day is displayed using a document projector. Students go directly to their seats, open their writing journals, and choose one of the prompts to write about. This allows the teacher to care for housekeeping items, such attendance, lunch orders, checking homework, etc. while students are actively engaged in a productive learning activity.

If I finish my housekeeping chores with time on the clock to write, I write in my own journal. Students love it when I join them on a Quick Write! So without further ado, here it is . . . Fifteen Fabulous Reasons to Use Quick Writes in Your Class:

Quick Writes

When used consistently, Quick Writes:

  • Help students brainstorm their thoughts
  • Activate prior knowledge
  • Help students make personal connections
  • Promote reflection
  • Foster critical thinking
  • Prepare students for discussion
  • Increase background knowledge
  • Broaden students’ worldviews (when shared)
  • Reinforce vocabulary and language development
  • Informally assess student knowledge about a given topic
  • Increase engagement in Think-Pair-Share activities
  • Increase writing fluency
  • Improve writing organization
  • Increase students’ confidence in their writing abilities
  • Develop skilled thinkers

Those are some pretty fabulous reasons to implement Quick Writes, yes?!? I’m in the process of developing Writing Prompts for secondary teachers to use as Quick Writes (meaning, I’ve finished 4 months and intend on having the rest of the months finished before each month rolls around!) If you’re interested, here’s a link to November’s writing prompts:

Long Pin.November.rev

Happy (Quick) Writing!
Literary Sherri


Fifteen Fabulous Reasons to Use Quick Writes in Your Class was written by Literary Sherri. If you enjoyed this post, connect with me on Bloglovin, FacebookPinterest, TSU, and TpT!