Making Meaning with Melissa Goes Back to School

Hey, there!  I'm so excited to be joining  my fellow Literary League members for a Back to School Blog Hop. I'm beyond excited to have you here, and for us to unveil the team.

First, let's get acquainted.  I'm Melissa, mommy to 3, wife to Scott, English teacher, book lover, TPT teacher-author, sun worshipper, wine're starting to get the idea. I'm lucky to live in sunny Southern California, Surf City, USA, to be exact, and when I'm not creating engaging classroom resources, you can find me on the beach or at the river. 

I'm a busy sports mom with my two youngest guys, Tyler and Ryan, playing football, soccer, and baseball throughout the year.  Our eldest son, Kyle, is in his second year of college at Cal State Long Beach and is also pursing his pilot's license.

I've been teaching since 2000, after I graduated from the University of Miami with my degree in English literature and secondary ed., and my teaching credential.  Remember I said I was a sun-worshipper -- well, that was a huge part of my college-choosing process and Miami fit the bill!  I've worked in both junior high and high school settings, but I'm going on my 11th year teaching at my current high school, where I teach freshman and junior English, as well as inclusion classes.  I also have a master's degree in educational administration, but I don't see me leaving the classroom for awhile - teenagers are too fun to work with!  Plus, there's no way I'm ready to leave my class library behind for a small admin office!
Wouldja just look at all these books!!  LOVE!
Books!  Now there's a subject I could go on and on about, but for now, let's narrow it down.  Asking an English teacher to pick a favorite book is like asking a fashionista to pick her favorite pair of's nearly impossible!  So here are a few of my favorites in different categories: for personal reading, I've loved Beach MusicMe Before You, and Leaving Time.  For reading to my boys, I've enjoyed Charlotte's WebThe One and Only Ivan, and Wonder (and I can't wait to start reading Harry Potter together).  To teach, I love To Kill a MockingbirdThe Hunger Games, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  And to recommend to teenagers, I love anything John Green, the Maze Runner series, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and my absolute favorite, All the Bright Places.  Because I have such a large class library (the picture above is from my old room. My new class has an office that I've converted to a library), and I read and recommend so many YA books to my students, they are willing to trust my choices and end up enjoying many of the same books that I do.  

When school starts up, I like to do a quick getting to know you activity right away, something that is low-risk and fun, yet doesn't put the new students on the spot.  This year, I'll be doing an this FREE getting to know you activity, where students will create an instagram post about one fun activity they did over the summer.  They can add a short summary and hashtags to sum up the fun. This is easy and fun, and makes for a great Back to School bulletin board.  Once a few days have gone by and students feel more comfortable in class (my little freshmen in particular), I like them to complete this focus-finding essay that tells me lots about who they are as people. Plus, it's super informative and thought-provoking for the students.

How ever you start your new school year, I hope that it's one of your best ever.  Now, don't forget to stop by the rest of the Literary League's blogs and check out their awesome ideas!


  1. I love the Instagram post idea! So much fun. I would love to do this with my students as well.

    1. Thanks! If you end up doing the Instagram activity, I'd love to hear how it goes. Have a great back to school!

  2. I love Aristotle and Dante! What a great book. The instagram idea is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I have to balance boys and teaching also - (2 boys + 1 husband) . I also enjoy most of the books you mentioned but have never read All the Bright Places so I will have to check that out! :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  4. I love your Back to School Instagram activity! It is such a fun activity and could also serve as a way to have students help you create one of your bulletin board by displaying their work! Thanks for sharing!


  5. I'm so jealous of your classroom library. You must have a huge classroom.

  6. Great pics of you and your boys! Your classroom looks amazing too!
    The Instagram activity looks like sooo much fun.


  7. Can you send some of that sunshine to Ohio, starting around October? :) Love your blog design, by the way!

  8. Your classroom looks AMAZING! I pinned the picture to my Classroom Inspiration Board because it is that awesome :)


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