Tag: English teachers

Using MMTS To Engage Students!

Posted on January 18, 2020 by

Using MMTS (multimedia text sets) is a simple, but not necessarily easy, strategy to engage students in topics, explore perceptions and get kids excited to learn!

What is an MMTS?

A multimedia text set – MMTS for short – is a gameboard of sorts that allows students to engage and explore a topic BEFORE having to do any heavy lifting.

Perception and Reality MMTS Grade 7

In my 7th grade English class, we’re studying “Perception and Reality”, so I created this MMTS to help my students get a jump start on the topic.

You can make your own copy of the Perception and Reality MMTS here.

How to build an MMTS

It’s pretty simple to build an MMTS – start with this template, or use any of my (or other people who share for FREE) already existing multimedia text sets.

Another great part of building and curating multimedia text sets is that you can use, reuse and remix them as much as you want to!

Once you have your template, the next step is to search for engaging videos, photo albums, articles, podcasts, music – anything that ties in with your essential question and will engage your students to think about the topic of study that’s coming up.

I love to use my textbook for this – yes, I do use a textbooks series in my classroom, but not in the traditional way. Textbook publishers are putting more and more digital resources in their series, but I find that the textbook websites aren’t very student-friendly. I like to see what the ‘experts’ suggest and riff off their ideas.

Ther are also excellent free sites like CommonLit, Newsela, and Actively Learn that offer free texts set on a variety of topics.

For video, I love curating YouTube playlists, subscribing to The Kids Should See This and TED-Ed to save ideas for using with my MMTS.

Don’t forget this key component of any MMTS

MMTS are not just docs to click around on – teachers need to build in reflection also. I use Google Forms that I embed in the center box to allow students to reflect on their learning, create their own ‘Wonder’ questions, and start making connections between the topic and their own lives. This critical thinking and communication component elevates the MMTS from simple to complex and primes the students for deeper analysis to come.

I asked these questions:

  • What was the most interesting exploration, and why?
  • Give an example of something in life that is not always how we perceive them to be. Tell me your thoughts about it.
  • What did the explorations make you think about?
  • What did you notice that the explorations had in common?
  • Create one ‘wonder’ question about perception and reality that you’d like to explore in this unit.
  • Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about this MMTS and/or perception and reality?

I got these answers:

  • They made me think that everyone is different, and when they look at a certain thing, every one may see it differently. It also made me think a little about hypnotize. And how that can sometimes be similar.
  • The way I perceive people, the ladder my mind goes through. The explorations made me realize that everyone perceives the world differently, and when we work together we can create cool new ideas.
  • It made me think about different things we could do to improve our world, like the robot thing I mentioned earlier and the augmented reality app on your phone.
  • I wonder how often our reality gets clouded with perception.
  • Even though there might be a lot of people in the world that have done bad stuff and that are unique races that you could assume are bad people don’t assume don’t judge and ask your self the question of what the reality is?
  • One wonder question that I have about perception and reality is what else can make me think about what I am reading, watching, and listening to?
  • Can people make you think differently by what they make you see?

MMTS and your students

When I am ready to roll out a new unit or project, I start with an MMTS.

I often ask students to complete a certain number of ‘explorations’ just to make sure they don’t rush through it. Another tip is to keep the form locked until you’ve given them adequate time to explore. I usually use an MMTS for about 60 minutes of exploration, depending on the depth of the topic and the length of the links I’ve added. The idea is to get them excited, not saturated! Plus, they can always go back to the links at any time in the unit for further investigations.

I love the time in class when students are exploring. They love sharing their ‘aha’ moments or encouraging a classmate to check out what they are viewing/reading/listening to.

Ready to try one?

There’s a huge community of educators creating not only multimedia text sets but also HyperDocs and other digital lessons – and we share them for FREE!

If you’re looking for inspiration or something to remix for your students, visit http://hyperdocs.co. Also, follow @TsgiveTs on Twitter, join the HyperDocs group on Facebook, or comment below what you’re looking for and I’d be happy to help you out!

And if you create an MMTS, it would be awesome if you could share it with me so I can continue to spread the FREE digital lesson love – share it with mamawolfeto2@gmail.com!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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hyperdoc PD

Hyperdoc PD: It’s What’s Happening This Summer!

Posted on July 23, 2018 by

Hyperdoc PD – have you heard of it?

It’s summertime, with days free from bells and lesson delivery and grading, maybe you have a little more time to catch up on PD? Personally, I love ‘pajama PD’ – PD I can do from my backyard garden table, while waiting to catch a plane, or at night in my jammies before I go to bed. Honestly, there are so many options for teacher PD that don’t involve going anywhere (although that’s super fun too); during the open days of summer I love utilizing Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to learn and create new ways of engaging my students – especially around hyperdoc PD.

Next year, I’m moving from 8th grade English (16 years…) to 7th grade (haven’t taught 7th graders since 2001)…and this is a perfect opportunity to up my lesson planning game. I’m excited to look at new strategies to go with my new content, and figure out ways to best create English classes that are hands-on, exciting, noisy and FUN!

hyperdoc PD


If you’re a regular reader of my blog, Twitter channel or Facebook page, you’ve heard me mention hyperdocs and what a game changer they’ve been in my teaching. I’m a self-taught hyperdoc creator – meaning I’ve worked and collaborated and read and modeled my hyperdocs after the pedagogy created by the Hyperdoc girls: Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis.

hyperdoc PD


Do you need some hyperdoc PD? Hyperdocs are NOT just docs or slides with links – they are a way of utilizing current educational pedagogy to help kids engage, explore, explain, apply, share and reflect on their learning….and they’re AWESOME and HIGHLY ADDICTIVE! They are a way of packaging learning and teaching through sound educational principles – thinking through lessons and units from beginning to end, considering any curriculum standards and assessments through creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication strategies. Hyperdocs can be created for ANY content, ANY grade level, and best of all, ANY type of learner.


Another cool resource for hyperdoc PD are the HyperDoc Hangout ON AIR; check out mine that was filmed in February 2018 with Kelly and Lisa. We invited a special guest student to testify about the power of hyperdocs, building relationships and engaged learning, too!

Want some FREE ideas?

So, are you ready for hyperdoc PD? Want to see some hyperdocs to use in your classroom? Check out my teaching/parenting resources page for some samples. I’ve also written a few posts about hyperdocs:


Also, for templates, tons of SHARED FREE hyperdocs, and lots of ideas to get you thinking, you need to visit Teachers Give Teachers, a website created by the Hyperdoc founders to create a community of sharing where teachers aren’t paying each other, but creating, collaborating, thinking and communicating together for no motive other than improving education for our students. If you haven’t checked out their website, hyperdocs.co –  go there NOW!

I’m excited to share with you – drop me an email if you have something you’re looking for. If I don’t have a hyperdoc for it, maybe we make our own hyperdoc PD session together!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Back To School, Digital Style

Back To School, Digital-Style

Posted on September 15, 2017 by

This year I’m going back to school with a twist – I’m going digital-style with my syllabus and lesson plans!

A few years back I experimented with different ways to engage students on the first day – and first weeks – of school. Building relationships, engaging my classroom and creating a sense of excitement helps me to keep a high energy level – absolutely necessary for teaching middle school – and also sets a tone of exploring new ideas, trying new strategies and risking failure.

Because seriously – we teachers are constantly asking our students to “push themselves”, to step out of their “comfort zone” and present their very best work, right? And yet how many teachers actually walk their talk? I’ve discovered that I build better relationships with my students when I do what I ask them to do, and as a result, we have a more productive, more creative and more growth-oriented classroom.

Last year was the year of hyperdocs for me – I wrote about how to teach narrative writing with hyperdocs, and have begun transforming nearly all my units into a digital-style package of pedagogy. I like that. I’m energized and invigorated and when I see what the students produce…mind blown!

This year I decided to go digital-style as much as I could for the first day, the first week, and beyond.

Going back to school, digital-style:

First, Creating a Digital Lesson Plan Book

To begin, I signed up for planbookedu.com. This is a HUGE step for me – I love tech, but still prefer to read a hardcopy and write in a spiral planner. I decided to switch to planbookedu, however, because in the process of hyperdoc-ing and transferring file cabinets to Google Drive, I found it challenging to access all the lessons that I had written down but had no direct digital link to. Having a digital-style plan book allows me to manage my multiple preps (4), to link my digital files onto each day/period, to copy the lesson for the one class that repeats and to search and save the plans for next year. I can also print it if needed. After researching the cost of purchasing a new paper planner, the fee for planbookedu seems well worth it.

Then, Digitizing My Syllabus

Back To School,digital-style

Next, I decided to digitize my syllabus. I’ve seen this trending online this year, and I found a shared Google Slide template I thought I could adapt. You can get a copy of it on my ‘free teaching and parenting resources’ tab of my website, jenniferwolfe.net. I’m not going to lie – it took me a good 4 hours to fiddle with the template, to fit in what I needed, to edit, revise, and edit some more…but then once it was done for one class, I just modify for my three other preps!

The amazing part of going digital-style with my syllabus was that it forced me to really THINK about how I wanted to present myself to parents and students; my hope is that the syllabus sticks around with them and becomes a reference point during the school year. On that end, I created a new technology and plagiarism policies and linked them to the syllabus for parents to review and return. I add links to my teacher Google site, to my class photo slide deck, my grading policies and my REMIND codes, and because it’s so visual I inserted more information than my paper syllabus ever did!

Finally, Using Google Slides For A Digital Daily Agenda

back to school digital style

Finally, I’m using Google Slides for creating a digital-style daily agenda that can be embedded on my website, shared with students and parents, and easily updated from home or school. This is probably my favorite change of them all. Last year I used a plain slide deck that I switched up fonts and colors every month to keep students engaged – this year I’m going to get a bit more stylized! I’ve almost entirely given up directly assigned ‘homework’, so my daily agenda will follow the ‘must do’, ‘should do’ and ‘could do’ format. I use “due dates” instead of “homework”, allowing students more choice and control over their work. I love using funny gifs or images or quotes to start the day off, and by using a digital template I save tons of time by not having to rewrite everything every day! You can also see and grab a copy of my digital daily agenda template on my ‘free teaching and parenting resources’ tab of my website, jenniferwolfe.net.

back to school digital-style

I’d love to hear some of your ideas about going digital-style with your teaching and moving your classroom into the 21st century – please leave ideas in the comments below!

*This post first appeared on theeducatorsroom.com – please visit this awesome website written BY teachers, FOR teachers!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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STEM in Education and The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Posted on March 21, 2016 by

If you haven’t heard, STEM in education is all the rage. Training in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is our 21st-century challenge in schools, and all educators are responsible – even English teachers like me. According to the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, “Employment in occupations related to STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.” In the next decade, STEM jobs are projected to grow more quickly and pay higher than any other type of employment- many in technology.

And that’s my job – helping to produce young adults who are educated, confident and employable in the new work force, preparing them for jobs that are likely not even in existence right now.

No big deal, right?


STEM in education

After 25 years in education, I’m learning a whole new way of teaching kids to read, write, speak, listen and collaborate – crucial skills for this generation of future workers. It’s not easy. It requires dedication, time, and an ability to open my mind to new ways of thinking – just like we’re asking our young men and women to do when they study STEM subjects in school. It’s not just about becoming skilled in math and science, however, learning how to think critically and communicate effectively are necessary skills for workers who will have to collaborate on long-term projects and communicate their findings upon completion.

Teachers like me need to help this generation advance STEM in education using the tools we have available. We need to train teachers to use technology in the classroom and how to step away from the teacher-dominated lectures towards a student-centered inquiry-based class. We need to encourage kids to develop grit and determination, and how to explore the ‘what-if’ and ‘I wonder’ questions rather than bubbling in a predetermined multiple choice answer. Our

This is no small task, to be sure.

One way teachers and parents are able to encourage kids to develop a love for STEM in education is through The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, the nation’s premier science competition for grades 5-8. Through the program, young inventors have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work closely with a 3M Scientist Mentor, compete for $25,000, and earn the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” The mission of the Young Scientist Challenge is to foster a new generation of American scientists at an age when interest in science generally declines. In 2008, Discovery Education teamed up with 3M, one of the world’s most notable innovators – to cultivate the next generation of problem solvers and give students an opportunity to receive mentorship from 3M scientists.

How the Challenge Works:

• Call for entries is currently open through April, 20, 2016. To enter, participants must submit a one-to-two-minute video describing the science behind a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact an everyday problem.

• Judges evaluate the entries through April and May based on creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness and overall presentation. Videos will not be judged on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or basic digital cameras.

• Ten finalists are announced in the summer. These participants will be challenged to develop their innovations that positively impacts lives (including them, their family, their community or the global population). The students will participate in a mentorship program during which they will get the opportunity to work one-on-one with renowned 3M scientists as their mentors.

• Each finalist will also receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn., to compete at the final event in October 2016. The grand prize is $25,000 and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a Discovery Network taping.

• Since its inception, the Young Scientist Challenge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in student scholarships and prizes, paired students with world-renowned scientists to give them real-world insights and delivered much-needed resources to millions of students, teachers and families across the country. Previous winners have met the President of the United States, addressed Congress and been featured in Forbes magazine’s annual “30 Under 30” list.

• The 2015 winner, Hannah Herbst of Boca Raton, Fla., created an energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries. She entered the contest because she wanted to help her 9-year-old pen pal living in Ethiopia who lacks a reliable source of power and electricity.

Other recent winners include:

o Sahil Doshi, 2014, who created a battery cell that uses carbon dioxide and other waste materials to help clear the atmosphere of greenhouse gas emissions. His project was spotlighted in the U.S. State Department’s Exhibit at the UN Conference on Climate Change, and he presented his project to President Obama.

o Peyton Robertson, 2013, who created a more efficient sandbag to reduce salt water flood damage. Peyton has since received a Notice of Allowance on his first patent.

For more information on the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge:

For more information on the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, including submission guidelines, tips from previous winners and complete rules, please visit www.youngscientistchallenge.com. Submissions will be accepted through April 13, 2016.

 This is a sponsored post on behalf of 3M. All opinions stated are my own. 
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34402227@N03/9080098737 via photopin (license)
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34402227@N03/9080098737 via photopin (license)

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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What Teachers Really Want For Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted on May 4, 2015 by

What Teachers Really Want For Teacher Appreciation Week

teacher appreciation week

I walked into my classroom this morning a bit groggy and bleary-eyed from a terrific weekend – a weekend not spent grading or lesson planning, but instead, spent with my daughter on a surprise early Mother’s Day weekend visit. There’s nothing easy about teaching first period English in junior high school – the only thing just a touch harder is teaching LAST period English – so I typically start the class with a bit of relationship building, often my best bit of comedy for the day.

“Wait – what are you all doing here today? It’s Monday of Teacher Appreciation Week – didn’t anyone tell you?” I quipped.

Moments of sheer panic washed over their face as they momentarily thought maybe they’d missed a sleep-in day.

“You were supposed to stay home today! But I’m really not surprised – you’re such dedicated, hard-working students, I know you wouldn’t want to miss a Monday with Mrs. Wolfe!”

Eyes rolled at this point.

“And I need to thank you all, for being on time this Monday morning – every single one of you,” I continued as they giggled and called out the names of the habitual sleepy heads. Another not-so-easy feat for junior high school students who would rather sleep than do almost anything else.

“Thank you for getting Teacher Appreciation Week off to such a great start. Now, as long as you’re here, let’s get to work.”

More eye-rolling, and a few whispers of “Wait – it’s Teacher Appreciation Week? I didn’t get you anything!” later, we were rolling along with our book v. movie analysis graphic organizers.

The day just kind of chugged along today, and aside from the coffee and baked goodies in the staff room, it was a pretty typical Monday in middle school. I kept thinking back to first period, and how much I love those moments away from the curriculum when I can really get to know the kids; as any middle school teacher will tell you, it’s all about having the kids connect with you before they connect with the content. I thought about what really keeps me going, year after year, when education is becoming more complicated and complex and when new teachers are shying away from the profession, and veterans are wondering how much longer they can keep walking through their classroom door with a smile on their face.


So parents, if you’re looking for a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week, I’ve got you covered:

1. Teachers want to hear how their teaching connects with their students’ lives.

Often, I’ll tell my students that when their parent asks them what they ‘did’ at school today, instead of saying ‘nothing’, they can explain they learned what dramatic irony is, or quiz their parents on the definition of pusillanimous, or ask them how the Reconstruction period connects with #blacklivesmatter in 2015. My students usually groan, roll their eyes a bit, and go on with their work. And honestly, I’m often left wondering how much they actually bring home to you. Did they tell you about our ‘essential question’ today, or that they learned the difference between dramatic, verbal, and situational irony? Could they share the staggering statistics they read about 21st-century slavery, and that their shirt was made in a country that utilizes child-labor? Do they have their ‘light bulb’ moments at the dinner table, or driving home from soccer practice? For Teacher Appreciation Week, I’d love to know what they tell you about our class and their learning – it would really make me smile.

2. Teachers want to have former students contact them.

Last week as I was sitting at my desk after school, one of my former students walked through my door. He was man-sized, which always means I need a moment to register them in their post-junior-high-aged body. I welcomed him back, asked how old he was and what he was doing. He told me 19, and that he was enrolled at the university. As I congratulated him, he said, “You know, I wanted to tell you that I’m actually going there because of your class. When you took us on that field trip to the campus and showed us around, I could picture myself there. It was because of you.”

I could hardly hold back the tears. Six years later, for him to come back to tell me that, made my heart swell. It made all the hassle of field trip forms, parent drivers, and permission slips worthwhile. For teachers, seeing our students growing up and turning into happy humans is all the appreciation we need.

3. Teachers want more time.

I have multiple student interns working in my classroom – not only is it good for young college students to see the power of teaching, but it’s equally beneficial for my students to have more ‘helpers’ and adults to see as role models. My interns help me with the most sought-after teacher gift of all – the gift of time. I don’t know an educator (especially my English teacher colleagues) who wouldn’t celebrate with the gift of more minutes to create curriculum, contact parents, grade papers, learn how to use new technology…the list is endless. Our teaching days are like the crack of a starter’s pistol at 8:00 a.m., and when the final bell rings 7 hours later, we’re lucky to have a moment to sit down before attending meetings, making copies, cleaning the room and checking email. And that’s all before we go home with our bulging bags of papers to grade – the other part of our job. For Teacher Appreciation Week, I’d love to have just a bit more time to make your child’s learning experience that much more exciting and relevant.

4. Teachers want to know they matter.

Above all, for Teacher Appreciation Week, I’d love to know that I’m appreciated. For some reason, teachers seem to be taking a huge hit in the media over the last few years. Most of the teachers I know didn’t start teaching because they wanted to make life harder for their students and their families. They didn’t start teaching because they felt it was their responsibility to become substitute parents, or to give failing grades or to do anything except make a difference in the life of a child. Teachers are service-oriented professionals who, for the most part, want to earn enough money to support their family, live in their community, send their own children to college and at the end of the day, know that their tired brains and stacks of papers to grade are worth it because they matter in the life of a child.

Parents, put down the Starbuck’s card, and instead, please try one of these ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week. I guarantee they’ll be the best present that teacher ever received.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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