July 15, 2024

Do You Want to Find Great Back to School Deals on Amazon Prime Day?

Are you getting ready to go back to school?  Many educators in the U.S. just finished teaching only a few weeks ago but in some places, teachers go back to school at the end of July.  If you have started thinking about what you'll need to get your classroom ready for the beginning of the school year, it's a good thing Amazon Prime Day is happening July 16 – 17, 2024.

This blog post tells you how to get ready for it and offers links to materials and supplies you'll probably want to have in your classroom.  Each link is to a general page on Amazon that shows all kinds of items in that product category.  Products are for both teacher and student use.

Title in black text at top, photos of various school supplies scattered in the middle, and The ESL Nexus logo on the bottom left
Some of the items available on Amazon; graphic created by The ESL Nexus

(Please note that the links below are affiliate links. That means I make a small commission if you purchase anything after clicking on them but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)

Getting Ready for Amazon Prime Day

Signing Up

To take advantage of Prime Day deals, you need an Amazon Prime account.  Just sign up here to get a free 30-day trial.  After that, you can pay monthly or yearly.  If for some reason you don't want to continue after your free trial ends, just cancel and you won't be charged.  

5 Benefits of Amazon Prime

Click on the green links for more info.

* Free shipping on items you purchase – regardless of the price of the item.
* Prime Video – watch some movies and TV shows for free or which aren't available anywhere else.
* Kindle Unlimited – read books from Amazon's online library, including books not available elsewhere.
* Audible Premium Plus – listen to audiobooks for the first 3 months for free.
* Amazon Music – get your first 5 months free.

How to Shop on Amazon Prime Day

Actually, there are 2 days so I don't know why it's called Amazon Prime Day.  Unless it's because the first time they did it, it was just for 1 day.
Anyway, after you've signed up, you'll want to go to the webpage where all the deals are listed.  There, you can scroll down the page and through the categories to find what you're looking for.  But if you're only interested in Back to School supplies, you can find lots of ideas in the section below.
It's helpful to create a wish list where you can put in one place everything you're interested in.  In case you've never created a wish list before, when you find something you want, you'll see a small box that says "Add to Wish List" under the section at the right of your screen with the info about buying an item.  Click the "Add to Wish List" button, then click the plus sign to create a list and click the yellow button to actually make it, and lastly, tap the name of your list to add the item you're looking at to that list.  Repeat with all the other things you're thinking of buying.
Before and during Prime Day, you can refer to this list to see if the price has changed on any of your selections.  If a price has decreased, then you should probably buy it quickly because you never know when the cost might go up or if the item will sell out and become unavailable.

Back to School Supplies for Teachers

To save you some time, below are 12 categories of Back to School supplies.  Instead of specific items, each link takes you to the first of several webpages offering products in that category.  This way, you can choose the items that will work best for your own teaching situation.  Just click on the green links to go to those webpages.
* Flip Charts
Write lesson objectives, vocabulary lists, timelines, and word webs and mind maps you display to your students, or have students use them for work they display to their classmates.
* Expo Markers
These are perfect for writing on whiteboards.
* Other Markers
Use these for posters and flip charts you make or give them to students to use in their projects.
* Notebooks
Give notebooks to your students for their classwork and homework.  They can use 1 notebook for taking notes and doing writing tasks in class.  Students can use a different notebook for vocabulary work so they can keep it all in the same place and easily refer back to it.
* Pocket Folders
Help students stay organized with folders!  Give each student 2 folders: 1 for class work that stays in school and 1 for homework so it never gets misplaced.  You can let students choose what colors they want or give the same color to everyone for their classwork and a different color for their homework.  If you teach multiple subjects, you can color-coordinate that way, with each subject getting their own color.
* Sticky Notes
Perfect for your own notes you make about your lessons and also to send home with positive news about your students' work.  Students can use them to take notes when reading novels and textbooks.
* Pens
You'll want to have a stash of these on hand to write comments on your students' work as well as write notes home to families, fill out forms, and write up lesson plans if you do them by hand.
* Pencils
It's so easy for students to lose pencils so having a supply on hand is helpful.
* Index Cards
There are so many uses for them!  You can use them to label objects in your classroom for Multilingual Learners of English, create vocabulary flashcards for playing Concentration or Charades, list historical events that students have to put in order, and write questions and answers to help students prepare for tests.  Students can use them to take notes for research projects, to make their own flashcards, and to create their own study guides.
* Scissors
If your students are making models or doing any kind of project, they will probably need scissors to cut things.  And you'll need scissors if, for example, you've created printables that duplicate a text on the same page or you need to cut sentence strips apart.
* Glue Sticks
If you or your students are creating things, gluing pieces together may be necessary.
* Printer Paper
If your school doesn't supply you with paper, or if you run out, here are lots of options.
Good luck scoring great deals during Amazon Prime Day!


June 17, 2024

Travel Back in Time and Around the World with these Summer Book and TV Recommendations!

I was always exhausted at the end of the school year. Not just from all the craziness of the last week or two with the students but because I always had to pack up my classroom (as did all the other teachers). That was so the custodians could do a deep cleaning, which I appreciated, but it took me a few days to get everything put away and I was just drained when I finally finished.

So I spent the first part of my summer vacation totally relaxing and not thinking about school. I took that time to rejuvenate because when mid-July came around, I was often on summer curriculum development teams or doing some other kind of professional development.

If this sounds familiar, I have some suggestions of books and TV series that will help you decompress. What they have in common is that they take place in another time period and/or location. If you don't have the time or money to travel, you can take a relaxing vacation vicariously this way.  :-)
They're mostly historical mysteries and the settings range from the Viking Age to medieval England to 17th century Japan to 19th century America to 21st century Botswana. I've read all the books on the list, some of them several times. You should also be able to find some of the books at your local library.
Title text in black at top on pale yellow background, with middle-aged Black woman sitting and reading a book in a garden.
For more book recommendations, click HERE; graphic created by The ESL Nexus

Below are my recommendations.  The first 3 are only available as books.  They are followed by 6 books that were also made into TV shows.  Those are followed by 4 stand-alone TV shows that are not based on books.   
(Please note that the book and DVD links are affiliate links. That means I make a small commission if you purchase the book but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)
Click on the green links for more information about each book and TV series.  In the last section, for just TV shows, the links are for the DVDs but if you have subscriptions to the streaming services they're broadcast on, you can watch the shows there for free.  Also, fyi, the last recommendation in my list, for a TV show, is not a clickable link.

Book and TV Recommendations

Book Recommendations

* Tomb for an Eagle: The Orkneyinga Murders (5-book series by Lexie Conyngham)

This is a wonderful mystery series set in Orkney, Scotland, during the Viking Age. The 2 main protagonists are fictional but Earl Thorfinn, who is also a main character, is a historical person. I really enjoy the descriptions of Viking life and culture. Having visited Orkney, and the Brough of Birsay where many parts of the stories take place, it's really interesting to read about what it was like there 1,000 years ago.

* Cathedral of Bones: The Ela of Salisbury Medieval Mysteries (10-book series by J.G. Jones)

Murder mysteries set in early 13th century England that are solved by Ela Longespée, the historical Countess and Sheriff of Salisbury. I'm currently on Book 9 and really enjoying the series.

* The Skull Mantra: The Shan Tao Yun Mysteries (10-book series by Eliot Pattison)

A disgraced inspector from Beijing is in a Tibetan prison camp and is forced to investigate the murder of an unknown man. Lots of info and detail about Tibetan culture. I've read the first 2 in the series and look forward to reading the rest of them soon.

Book Recommendations That Were Also Made Into TV Series

* A Morbid Taste for Bones: The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael (20-book series by Ellis Cadfael and some stories available on DVD)

Arguably, the first mystery series set in a historical time period and what got me hooked on this genre; this is about a Welsh monk in an English monastery during the Anarchy of the 12th century who uses his knowledge of herbs and the outside world to solve mysteries.

* Whose Body? The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries (15-book series by Dorothy Sayers and some stories available on DVD)

Lord Peter, his butler Bunter, and his friend Inspector Parker solve the mystery of a dead body on a bathtub in this classic mystery set in 1920s England. One of my all-time favorite series.

* Shogun (book by James Clavell; TV show on Hulu)

I just finished watching the TV show and it is amazing! I have the book (and have read it a couple times) and watched the original show way back when. This version is wonderful – the production design and costumes are terrific and the extra features on the website that give background info really add to my understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture.

* Outlander (9-book series by Diana Gabaldon with 10th book forthcoming eventually; TV show on Starz and Seasons 1-6 of 7 on Netflix)

A World War II English nurse suddenly and unexpectedly finds herself in 18th century Scotland on the brink of the Jacobite Rebellion. What can I say: I randomly picked up this book soon after it was published and have been hooked ever since.

* The Last Kingdom (13-book series by Bernard Cornwell; TV show on Netflix)

The life of a Saxon boy kidnapped and raised by Danes whose adventures support King Alfred's dream of a united England. I'd been interested in early English history long before I first watched the TV series and then read the books, and they bring this time period to life.
* The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (24-book series by Alexander McCall Smith; TV series on DVD)
A woman opens the first and only detective agency in Botswana and solves mysteries in spite of the many obstacles she faces. A fascinating look at modern-day Botswana's society and culture.

TV Series Recommendations 

* Jamestown (TV show available on PBS with Passport, also on DVD)

Fictionalized account of the English settlement of Jamestown. Interesting to watch after teaching my students about Jamestown Colony and reading a young adult novel about Jamestown with them.

* Vienna Blood (TV show available on PBS with Passport, also on DVD)

About a Jewish doctor in early 20th century Vienna, Austria, who uses Freudian principles to solve mysteries in collaboration with a local police detective. I'm looking forward the the 4th season, which is supposed to be broadcast later thisyear.

* The Brokenwood Mysteries (TV show on Acorn)

Modern-day mysteries set in the fictionalized town of Brokenwood, New Zealand, that are solved by the local police. I've never been to New Zealand so this is interesting, especially the episodes that include aspects of Maori culture in them.

* Death in Paradise (TV show on BritBox; not available on DVD)

A fish out of water English detective works with the local police on the fictionalized island of Saint Marie in the Caribbean to solve murders. Formulaic but lots of fun.
I hope you have a very relaxing summer!


May 27, 2024

3 Reasons Why Students Should Do an End of Year Review Activity

After Memorial Day passes, it feels like the end of the school year is just around the corner.  But in many places in the U.S., there are still 3 or even 4 weeks of school left.  It's hard to keep students engaged, especially when there are lots of fun, special activities going on that interrupt the typical flow of the school day.  One way to keep students both engaged and learning is to do an end of year review of what they learned in your class.

Middle school smiling Black girl holding 2 notebooks is at the right and the title text is at the left; the background is the color of a blackboard.
Graphic created by The ESL Nexus with an image from Canva

Why Students Should Do an End of Year Review

Reinforce Knowledge

Having students do an end of year review means they continue to use the concepts and skills learned and that will help them retain the information.  Using that knowledge in different ways means it is more likely to stick; that is, remember it later on.  Reviewing skills and concepts learned earlier in the year can transfer information from short-term memory to long-term memory, where it can be retrieved in the future.  Research has also shown that new concepts, for example new vocabulary words, need to be used several times before they are "learned" so an end of the year review helps students imprint them in their minds.

Get Ready for Next Year

Reviewing what they learned over the course of the school year builds a foundation for future learning.  It ensures students have mastered the necessary skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the following year.  An end of year review can also help identify what students haven't learned so you can focus on reteaching that in the time you have left.

Foster Confidence

When students do end of year activities, that lets them reflect on the progress they've made from the beginning of the year to the end.  They discover how much they've learned and what their strengths are, which boosts motivation to continue learning.  Students may also see what their weaknesses are, which lets them know what they need to pay attention to next year.  If you used my Student Self-Evaluation Forms, students can refer back to them to analyze their progress over the course of the school year.

How to Make an End of Year Review Fun

One way to make an end of year review appealing to students is to give them a choice of how to demonstrate what they learned.  When students can decide for themselves how to show they learning, they are more motivated to do a good job on their work.
My Fun End of Year Choice Board Review Activities does just that.  It's a choice board with 6 options in 2 categories.  One row of 3 activities asks students to create something and the other row of 3 options asks them to write something.  Each group of activities includes an easy, intermediate, and challenging task to meet the needs of students at various ability and language proficiency levels.  After students have completed their projects, they can present them to their classmates if you'd like.
You can have your students select 1 or 2 of the activities to complete, depending on how much time you have available.  Complete instructions for every activity are provided and an evaluation checklist for each activity is also included, which saves you time when assessing students' work.

On a pale yellow background, text IDs 2 images underneath as the choice board and instructions for 1 activity; at the bottom of the image, more text on a pale yellow background says assessment checklists are also included and that refers to the 3rd image in the graphic; all 3 images are angled at 10 degrees and are on a light blue background.
Click HERE to get this resource
The end of the school year often has lots of interruptions to classroom teaching.  Having students do an end of year review is the perfect way to accommodate that.  Because students work independently on their activities, those breaks to your regular classroom routine won't negatively impact their work and students can just pick up from where they left off when they return to your class.
To find out more about this resource and to purchase it, please click HERE.


April 29, 2024

Teacher Appreciation Day and Week Deals for Teachers: Resource Roundup for 2024

Here is my annual blog post with discounts for Teacher Appreciation Week!  Like last year, instead of listing specific offers for teachers in disparate categories such as restaurants, stores, and museums, this year's post is a round up of websites that have collated all kinds of deals.

Overhead image showing yellow notepad announcing Special Deals, coffee in cup, and tablet saying dates of 2023 Teacher Appreciation Week. Background is white wood with a few color paper clips scattered on it.
Graphic created by: The ESL Nexus

When is Teacher Appreciation Week in 2024?

In 2024, Teacher Appreciation Week goes from May 6th through May 10th and Teacher Appreciation Day is on May 7th.  Not all sites have announced their special deals for teachers yet.  However, I'm publishing this blog post early so you have time to read through all the offers and see which ones you’d like to take advantage of next week.   
These meta lists have been updated for Teacher Appreciation Day and Teacher Appreciation Week for 2024.  They also include year-round offers so hopefully you will find them useful longer than for just the week designated for teachers.  (Because teachers should be celebrated all year long, not just 1 week, right?!)  So you'll have to click on the links that appeal to you to see which offers are valid when, although in some cases that is noted in their blurbs.

Websites with 2024 Teacher Appreciation Week Deals

Click on the green links below to go to each website:

* From DontPayFull: Teacher Discounts 2024: The Complete List of Offers for Educators

* From We Are Teachers: The Best Teacher Appreciation Giveaways and Deals for 2024

* From Dealhack: Teacher Discounts Guide: The Ultimate List of Stores

* From Teachers of Tomorrow: 25+ Teachers Appreciation Week Discounts and Deals for 2024

* From Rutgers Graduate School of Education: 68 Discounts, Deals and Resources for Teacher Appreciation Week

* And from PTO Today: Teacher Appreciation Week 2024 Resources 

The first 5 websites overlap each other and include many of the same resources.  The last website is more about the ideas for how families, friends, and colleagues can honor the teachers in their lives. If I find more discounts, I will update this post.

I haven’t verified all the links within the websites so it’s possible that some of them won’t lead to special offers in your own geographical area.  And, sorry international educators, but I'm pretty sure these discounts are only applicable in the US.

Special Food Deals and Discounts

In the past, these restaurants have had deals for teachers but they haven't announced them yet so I don't know if they will again this year.  They may not have anything on their websites until the weekend beforehand. Click on the green links below to see if these places are offering any specials on May 7th or during the whole week:

* Abuelo’s
* Applebee's
* Firehouse Subs
* Freddy's
* The Green Turtle
* Grimaldi's
* Insomnia Cookies
* Logan's Roadhouse
* McAlister’s Deli
* Mod Pizza
* Perkins
* Potbelly
* TGI Friday’s
* Whataburger
* Sonic

The restaurants usually ask to see your teacher ID so make sure you bring it with you in case they ask for proof that you're an educator.  They might also have other requirements so just check in advance.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!