MAT Blog

Our Favorite Zombie-Themed Halloween Lesson Plans

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 30, 2014 9:50:16 AM

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been slowly building our collection of zombie-themed Halloween lesson plans. Halloween is only a couple days away and we couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to gather our goods and share them with you!

halloween_lesson_plans4 Zombie-Themed Lessons from PBS
These lessons, which you’ll find on the PBS website, ask students to compare the “normal” brain to a “zombie” brain. While you could use these lessons as “stand-alones,” each one follows an accompanying plot line where the world is fighting a zombie apocalypse and the best and the brightest young people are being trained as neuroscientists. The hope is that, with the proper training, students will be able to cure the zombie epidemic and save the world.

To browse these four lesson plans, click here.

halloween lesson plansPrepare for the Zombie Pandemic
This is a three-part lesson created by one of our Edmodo buddies, Mrs. Stauffenecker.

If you are skeptical about the academic merits of this particular unit, rest easy: Everything aligns with Common Core Standards.

Step 1
Before your students create their own preparedness plan, they’re going to need to do a little research. A good place to start is with the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Zombie Pandemic Preparedness 101 manual. This is written in an easily-digestible comic book format, so you’re students are sure to devour it (pardon the puns).

Step 2
Next, you might show them Tips for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse with P. Allen Smith.

Step 3
To get your students talking, try using Mrs. Stauffenecker’s Power Point presentation. This asks students to think about the nature of fear and teaches them about the different types of zombies they may encounter. To download the presentation, click here.

Step 4
OK, you’ve read the CDC manual, considered P. Allen Smith’s tips for surviving the zombie apocalypse, and had a discussion about the Power Point presentation. Now you’re ready to go over the specifics of the assignment. To download the rubric, click here. 

halloween lesson plans
Prepare Your Zombie-Escape Plan
If your school is following the rules, you should have a building blueprint or escape route posted throughout the building.

Grab one of these floor plans and photocopy it. You’ll need it for George Chilton’s zombie-themed lesson plan.

You can find the lesson plan by clicking here.




Tags: free halloween printables, Halloween lesson plans

Stream Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” for Free

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 28, 2014 2:24:15 PM

Halloween is upon us and I can’t think of a better time to bust out Edgar Allan Poe’s classic horror tale, “The Pit and the Pendulum.” The story is good on its own, but I think you’re students might also enjoy Ray Harryhausen’s award-winning, stop-motion interpretation of the story. You can watch the short film by clicking on the image below

In addition to the film, I recommend checking out the interactive comic book version of the story.







Tags: reading teachers, Reading, Literature Teachers,, edgar allan poe

5 Free Halloween Printables for Reading & Writing Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 28, 2014 9:35:07 AM

We love bringing Halloween into the classroom, but it’s even better when we can turn spooky celebrations into teachable moments. To help you do this, we’d like to share a few of our favorite free Halloween printables for reading and writing teachers.

5 Free Halloween Printables for Reading & Writing Teachers

free halloween printablesHalloween Shadow Makers
These spooky shadow makers are cute, but how can they help your students hone their writing skills? Simple, place students in groups and have them collaborate on their own spooky script. Once they’re done, pull out a projector, sit back and enjoy as your students perform their plays in front of the class.

To download templates for the shadow makers, click here.

3-1Halloween Haiku Cookies
While your students probably won’t want to eat these Halloween “fortune cookies,” they will enjoy choosing their template and learning how to fold it. What you have students write on the fortune is up to you, but we ask students to craft their own Halloween haikus, stuff them into the “cookies,” and exchange with their peers on Halloween.

You can download the fortune cookie template here. Folding might be tricky without instructions, so check out the tutorial here.


free halloween printablesAdd an Adjective and Tell a Spooky Story
Sometimes the hardest part about writing is getting started. Thanks to this free Halloween printable, your students already have a spooky story outlined for them. All they have to do is add the adjectives!

You can download the worksheet here.






free_halloween_printablesWhat Should My Teacher be For Halloween
This is by far our favorite Halloween activity on the list. If you’re a teacher with thick skin and a good sense of humor, give this free Halloween printable a shot.

Just grab a headshot of yourself, photocopy it onto the template, and have your students help you pick out your Halloween costume!

You can download the free template here.

free_halloween_printables.jpgHaunted House for Sale
This is another favorite. The goal of this activity is for students to create their own haunted house and produce a sale ad persuading people to buy their house. Who is the intended audience for this piece of writing? Why, a family of ghouls, ghosts and goblins, of course!

This activity is divided up into five parts:

  • Web: Brainstorm ideas about what features students would like in their haunted house.
  • Page 1: Draw the exterior of the haunted house. Name the haunted house.
  • Page 2: is optional: Draw two interior rooms in the house (most students like to draw the bathrooms or a bedroom). You may choose to leave this out based on time.
  • Page 3: Students fill in the name of the house. They should list the features of the house, address, and the realtor (they should think creatively on who might sell a haunted house). Lastly, they should write an opinionated description of why people should buy this house. Remember, they are writing to persuade the reader to purchase their house.
  • Page 4: Additional page if a student needs more space to write.

To download this free Halloween printable, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.


Tags: reading instruction, writing fluency, writing skills, Reading, free halloween printables

10 Reasons to Start Using Twitter in the Classroom

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 24, 2014 9:49:11 AM


Sometimes Twitter gets a bad rap—and when you scan the news headlines or read about the latest mis-tweets and social media blunders committed by celebrities, politicians and everyday Jane and Joe’s like us, it’s not hard to understand why!

That said, we still believe that there are lots of good reasons for teachers to start using Twitter in the classroom. Our list could have been longer, but here’s how we use Twitter in the classroom.

To Keep a Steady Stream of Calendar Updates
Just picture all the times you go home, are washing the dishes, and think, “I sure hope they remember that Project X is due tomorrow...” Now you can send a Tweet in the same time it

takes to think the thought. Boom.

To Give Students Shout-Outs
Few things are as pleasing as receiving appreciation—especially when it comes from someone we respect. Appreciation has the power to energize us, rekindle our enthusiasm and restore commitment and confidence. Why not go public and give your students a shout-out on Twitter?

To Engage Students in Discussions
Make “Tweeting one discussion question and one discussion reply” a homework assignment; then use the following class day to discuss the questions and comments.

To Set Up a Foreign Language News Stream
If you teach a foreign language, Twitter can help your students hone their language skills. Simply follow users who speak the target language and challenge your students to use their translation skills!

To Connect to Real Life
Tweet news feeds, links to YouTube videos, or even your own pictures or thoughts regarding real life objects or events that are related to your current classroom lesson(s). Students love interactive learning. Your Tweets will keep them in the intellectual loop or introduce them to new and exciting concepts you might not have had time for in the classroom.

To Keep Parents Connected
Using Twitter in the Classroom can also be a 2-for-1. Parents can follow the Twitter stream and will feel connected and engaged. Plus, they are much more likely to be on your side when it comes to missing assignments or “forgotten” test days.

To Connect With and Learn From Other Educators
There are lots of educational leaders, scientists, writers, historians, and other key players out there with whom you have educational and thought-provoking things to say. No tweets about what they’re eating, how many miles they ran, how good their latte is, or in Kanye West’s case, how cool ninjas are.

To Teach Students the Art of Concision
Twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with. We think that’s a good thing—especially if you’re trying to teach students how to be less wordy and more concise.

To Teach Students About Their Digital Footprint
Celebrity mis-tweets are funny to read, but we believe that they can actually facilitate teachable moments, lessons about what we should and should not share with the public.

To Live Tweet Field Trips
Not every parent or student can make it to the class field trip. Bummer, right? That’s where Twitter comes in. When you “live tweet” your trip, parents and students can follow along by looking at your pictures and text descriptions.

Photo credit: shawncampbell / Foter / CC BY

Tags: twitter in the classroom, apps for educators, technology in the classroom

10 Awesomely-Appropriate Halloween Costumes for Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 22, 2014 2:02:00 PM

Halloween is a little over a week away and if happen to be a procrastinator, or are still on the fence about what you're going to wear, check out these 10 awesomely-appropriate Halloween costumes for teachers. We're pretty sure you and your students will love all of these, especially if you pair your costume with a book you've been reading together in class!

10 Awesomely-Appropriate Halloween Costumes for Teachers

Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games


From Anytime Fitness Blog

A House for Hermit Crab
From Studio 220

Pete the Cat

Miss Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson is Missingeaeaea
The Idea Gal

From Cassie Stephens

Amelia Bedelia

From Flickr

Owl at Home
From Lauren Conrad

Sybill Trelawney from Harry Potter
From We Are Teachers

Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of Stripes
From Marcie Taylor

Fern from Charlotte's Web
From Leigh Mott






Tags: halloween costumes for teachers

Writefull: A Writing and Vocabulary-Building App for Students

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 21, 2014 12:06:54 PM

vocabulary_buildingWritefull is a “newish” five-dollar app that uses Google Books to provide students feedback on their writing. Here’s how it works:

After downloading the application, highlight any piece of text in in your Word document and choose one of the feedback options on Writefull’s popup menu.

For example, if your students are unsure about their phrasing, or whether or not something they’ve written makes sense, Writefull will scan Google Books and tell them how often their selected text has been used by other writers. If the number is low, chances are that your students still have some work to do. If the number is high, it’s probably good to go.

Writefull is also useful for vocabulary building. Say that your students are writing a descriptive essay, but want to use new words. All they have to do is click and highlight, and Writefull will give them a list of the most frequently used (and contextually sound) synonyms in the text they’ve highlighted.

To learn more about this app, check out the video below.


Super Brainstormers, A Superhero-Themed Brainstorming Worksheet

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 17, 2014 3:38:59 PM

Whether it is during an in-class discussion, a group exercise, or a writing task, many of our students have a tendency to jump right in without taking their time and fully thinking through the activity they are engaging in.

We want to help your students practice slowing down so they can more fully tap into their creativity, imagination, and prior knowledge. That’s why we designed Super Brainstormers, a superhero-themed brainstorming worksheet.

As always, the download is completely free for you to use, repurpose, and share with your students and colleagues. We hope you find it useful!

To download Super Brainstormers, click on the image below!


Tags: brainstorming exercises for students

5 Free Teacher Giveaways for October

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 17, 2014 10:31:07 AM

Has there ever been a time when teachers haven't spent their own money on their classrooms? Probably not, but in an era of slashed budgets, many teachers are reaching even deeper into their own wallets to purchase classroom supplies and teaching materials. To help you save a little dough on your classroom and yourself, we’d like to share a few teacher giveaways that are happening throughout the month of October.

5 Free Teacher Giveaways for October

teacher_giveaways_2Casio LampFree Projector
If your classroom is not equipped with a video projector, you might be interested in Casio’s LampFree Projector giveaway. This contest requires some legwork, but it might be worth the effort.

To enter the contest, you need to do a couple of things: First, educate your students on mercury and how it can impact human and environmental health. Second, have your students write a 300 word essay responding to, “How to reduce the hazards of mercury on a young person’s health.” Next, select the best essay and submit to Casio Education. To learn more about the contest, click here.

The contest is open to U.S. K-12 schools and ends Dec. 31, 2014.

teacher_giveaways_3.jpg$100 dollar Amazon gift card from Learning Liftoff
This is one of the easiest teacher giveaways to apply for. All you have to do is subscribe to Learning Liftoff’s newsletter and you’ll automatically be entered into the contest. You can do that by clicking here.

This contest ends at midnight on Oct. 24, 2014.  

teacher giveawaysWin $500 from School Outfitters
From now until Oct. 24, School Outfitters will post questions about classroom environments on their Facebook page. To be entered into their teacher giveaway, all you have to do is respond to the questions.

One winner each week will be selected from these responses to receive a $500 School Outfitters gift card. In addition to this, five winners each week will receive a $100 gift card.


teacher giveawaysK’Nex a Day Give-Away
Every day from Oct. 15 through Oct. 21, K’Nex will be giving away free building sets. All you have to do to win is fill out this simple electronic entry form and hit submit.





teacher_giveawayFree Elmer’s Craft Products
To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Elmer’s is giving away a free “Pink Prize Packs” every Wednesday. Last week, the prize pack included scissors, an x-acto knife, a repositionable hook, and a paper cutter.

How do you win? Simply respond to the posted Facebook question before 4 p.m. each Wednesday.





Tags: teacher giveaways

5 Spooky, But Not-SO-Spooky Halloween Read Alouds for Children

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 15, 2014 9:35:06 AM

Last week, we put together a list of our favorite “falltastic” read-alouds, but looking back on it, our list just doesn’t seem complete without these five spooky, but not-SO-spooky read-alouds. As always, it was challenging to narrow down the list to five, but here they are in no particular order!

5 Spooky, But Not-SO-Spooky Halloween Read Alouds for Children

read_alouds_for_children_5Shake Dem Halloween Bones
We’re willing to bet the farm that your students won’t be able to keep “dem” tailbones in “dem” seats once you start reading Shake Dem Halloween Bones.

It’s Halloween night. But as the lights go down in the city, the music goes up at the Hip-Hop Halloween Ball! Students will enjoy seeing their favorite fairy tale characters—Little Riding Hood, Goldilocks, and others—come together to sing their favorite refrain: "Shake dem Halloween bones!"

read aloudsBunnicula
Just when you thought that the vampire theme had been completely exhausted, Deborah and James Howe came up with this “spooktastic” read-aloud. In Bunnicula, we meet the Toby Monroe and his family, who decide to head to the theatre to see their favorite movie, Dracula. When Toby takes his seat, he accidentally plops himself down on top of a rabbit who is bundled up in the seat.

The Monroes love animals as much as they love horror movies, so what do they do? Why, they adopt the bunny and name him Bunnicula, of course!

But the family pets, Chester and Harold, quickly notice that something is amiss: Why does Bunnicula have pointy fangs, wear a cape, and have nocturnal habits? What happened to the once-red tomato in the kitchen? This read-aloud is as funny and “falltastic” as it is fast-paced. Enjoy!

read_alouds_for_children_2Skeleton Hiccups
Who knew that skeletons could get the hiccups? Apparently they can, and this bony protagonist can’t seem to shake them. Taking the advice of his best friend, Ghost, Skeleton does everything in the book to get rid of his hiccups: He holds his breath, drinks water upside down, eats sugar, but nothing works…until Ghost holds up a mirror!


read_alouds_for_children_3Boris and Bella
Boris Kleanitoff is terrifyingly tidy and his neighbor Bella Lagrossi is monstrously messy, so it’s no surprise that these two don’t get along—that is, until a Halloween dance brings them together.


This is one of our favorite read-alouds and if you’re a fan of Tim Burton tales like the Nightmare Before Christmas and the Corpse Bride, you’ll surely love this one.



read_alouds_for_children_4Pumpkin Soup
This is one of the “unspookiest” books on our list, but we had to include it.

In an old cabin in the woods (where else?), three friends make their famous pumpkin soup—just like they do every single day. As usual, Squirrel stirs, Cat cuts the pumpkin and Duck drop in the salt. But Duck is tired of dropping the salt and wants to stir. What ensues is a hilarious and heart-warming story—or soup!—for the soul.

Tags: reading teachers, read alouds, halloween read alouds

The Learning Network is Holding a 15-Second Vocabulary Contest for Students

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 14, 2014 10:46:59 AM

learning_networkI just found out via Richard Byrne that the The New York Times Learning Network is holding its second annual 15-Second Vocabulary Contest. This contest, which is open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 19, asks students to create a video in which they pronounce, define, and illustrate—using animation, drawing, acting, claymation, stop-motion, whatever—the meaning of one of the Learning Network's Words of the Day.

Submissions are due by November 11. Complete contest rules are available here.

To give you a sense for what the Learning Network is looking for in submissions, check out last year’s winning video created by Sam Jenks.

Tags: vocabulary building, vocabulary enrichment, vocabulary contest

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