Underdog Blog Posts of 2021

I can’t tell you why, but I always tend to support an underdog. Whether it’s in sports, school, or life in general, it is the one who is behind, or at some sort of disadvantage, that tends to get my attention. Last week I shared with you the Top Ten Blog Posts of 2021, but while examining data from last year I also looked at which blog posts didn’t get much attention. When choosing the posts to include here I considered not just the number of views (these all had less than 200 views) but also the content of the post. I chose posts that included some sort of valuable content: a free activity my students particularly loved, step-by-step directions for creating something I use frequently in my classes, or a truth I learned the hard way. After careful consideration, here are the posts I think deserve a second look:

Favorite Activities

Pronoun Snowperson Craftivity

Pronoun Fun

Maybe it’s the cold of winter, or the amazingly still white snow outside my window, but our Snowy Pronoun People art project is one I remember fondly. I will admit that I’ve never tried it with my adults, but my elementary and middle school students loved it! (The picture is of a middle school student’s project.) The post describes the project and includes a link to download a free rubric for it, as well as a free quick reference sheet my students find helpful.

Text Features Digital Reference Book

Text Features & Literary Elements

These two posts came about due to the switch to online teaching. My students always used paper, markers, magazines, and glue to create reference books for text features and literary elements vocabulary. Each post includes links to the free digital version of these books I created for them to use instead. Descriptions of other practice activities are also included.

Literary Elements Digital Reference Book

Shades of Meaning

This bulletin board (or door, as the case may be) display is one of the many examples of student-participation classroom décor I prefer. It is also, along with French Fry Synonyms and Synonym Graveyard, one of the most popular activities we do to practice identifying and ranking synonyms. The blog post has all of the details for using this free activity in your own classroom.

Paint Can Questions

This very active game is possibly one of my craziest brainstorms ever. It wasn’t enough to have a game to practice adding question words to sentences themed around painting, I had to have a relay race involving actual paint cans! Get all of the directions for making your own game (including the list of questions I used) in the post. This is hands-down my students’ favorite question word practice activity, even more popular than Beach Ball Questions.

Preposition Practice

This is actually a set of three posts, all with fun and free ways to practice prepositions. Mousy Prepositions has links to get a free board game (paper and digital), More Preposition Fun describes three different free activities my students and I enjoy, and Picture Perfect Prepositions is another student-created classroom décor idea that requires only white paper, magazines, markers, and glue.

Paper Game

Adjectives Practice

These last two activity posts are all about using adjectives. Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag describes and gives links to a free board game (digital and paper). Appetizing Adjectives describes how I taught adjectives when I had a mixed proficiency level group. Details for two different activities (one for each proficiency level) are given. Both are free and neither require anything out of the ordinary to complete.

How To Posts

Digital Task Cards: Three Ways

One of my biggest frustrations when we switched to online learning was not being able to use my task cards. After much experimenting I figured out three different ways to create and use task cards digitally. Each post has step-by-step directions for creating your own sets.

Digital Task Cards–force students to click on an answer, not just random places on the slide.

Self-Grading Digital Task Cards–find out exactly which answer students chose and get a final score calculated for you.

Self-Grading Digital Task Cards with Drop Down Menu–spelling mistakes are no longer a problem when students simply click on the answer from a list of choices.

Digital Mystery Pictures / Pixel Art

During my first attempt at a digital mystery picture I was still thinking with a paper-based mindset. I thought I could only have three colors in the picture because there were three answer choices. I quickly realized my error though and branched out into more colors. This post gives step-by-step directions (text and video) for creating your own mystery picture activities.

A Truth Learned the Hard Way

Authentic Open Book Assessments?

It’s been quite a few years since I made the switch to open book assessments whenever possible (obviously standardized tests still can’t be included in my policy). The switch to online learning brought this debate back to the forefront as there was no good way to prevent students from referencing various materials when taking a test at home. This post details why I prefer open book assessments and how I keep them authentic.

I hope you found something to inspire you in the new year. I know taking stock of last year has reminded me of various things I want to revisit in the coming year. The review of 2021 isn’t over yet though, the next two weeks will include posts about the most popular free Teachers Pay Teachers downloads and most popular free blog downloads from last year. Happy teaching, everyone!