Win-E-Mac English

Welcome to Mr. Hanson's Language Arts Classroom!

The Bored Board, Evolved

The Bored Board continues to evolve as I add more websites of resources and interactive activities. In fact, the list of websites that I’ve found has gotten to be so long, that I separated the websites into three categories: Reading Comprehension, Spelling and Vocabulary, and Writing and Grammar. I continue to add more and more resources each week. Check it out!

The Bored Board

As the end of the semester draws nearer and my students are finishing up their first round of semester projects, I’m facing a dilemma. What do I do when some students are done early, and some are still working on their projects but I want to give them time in class to work and ask me questions? Yes, students can send me private comments on Google Classroom, but I find some students get their questions across better when they can ask me in person. What do I do when I want to keep my students who are done with their projects “busy” while my “slower” students keep working on their projects? I don’t want to assign new for the entire class so the slower students end up having more homework, but I want to give my students something meaningful and “fun” to do that I don’t have to grade. From this dilemma came a bulletin board idea that I call “The Bored Board”.

When students tell me they have nothing to do or I see them try to do something that is not productive on their Chromebooks, I redirect them to the “Bored Board”. This bulletin board has a few interactive websites that are both entertaining (hopefully) and educational. Here are a few websites that are currently on my bulletin board (more to come as I find more):

  • a free vocabulary website that donates 10 grains of rice with each word you define correctly.
  • (free and PRO versions available): students read high-interest and engaging current events news articles and take a quiz based on what they learned from the article. The articles are adaptive to their reading levels.
  • a free powerful educational tool that offers reading activities for all ages and ability levels.
  • (free and premium versions available): a website that my students use to review for and take their spelling tests; there are so many spelling games that students can play to help them review their word lists every week!
  • (free and premium versions available): students learn vocabulary through interactive activities or games that quiz them on the definitions of words in different ways to achieve mastery. You can import your own custom lists that students can practice for free. Assigning quizzes to an entire class only comes with the premium versions.
  • where the wonders of learning never cease! I just love their slogan, so I had to include it. Wonderopolis is a free website where students start with a “have you ever wondered” sort of question: like, why are dimes smaller than pennies? Or, what is a lenticular cloud? Or, how does the electoral college work? Students read an article answering that question then take a quiz on the knowledge they’ve gained from reading the article.
  • I usually use this free website to assign fictional stories, poems or nonfiction readings to students for a grade (in addition to our assigned textbook), but you could use it as a bored board option. Students seem to enjoy using CommonLit better, however, because they have a “guided reading” option, where students have to answer a question correctly in order to continue reading. I’m hoping use CommonLit more often in the future.
  • Grammar: There are quite a few really great interactive grammar websites out there. I currently use three at different levels in my classrooms. I assign work rather than give it as a Bored Board option, but it could be an option:
    • GrammarFlip (free trial available): this takes its inspiration from the “flipped classroom”. Students watch a video on a grammar concept (beginning, intermediate or advanced) and answer questions about it.
    • NoRedInk (free and pro versions available): before students identify or edit any sentences, they are asked what their interests are. NoRedInk uses these interests to create more interesting sentences for the students.
    • (free and pro versions available): in my opinion, this is most robust of the three, with a lot more activities than the other two. My favorite of these activities: Quill Diagnostic, Quill Connect, and Quill Proofreader.

Do you have any English/Language Arts-related interactive website suggestions that I could include on my Bored Bored? Please share them with me! Thanks!

Google Projects and ePortfolios

It’s important to have goals, both as a student and as a teacher. One goal that I’ve had this year has been to give more meaningful assignments and projects. Obviously, learning and practicing spelling, vocabulary, grammar, etc is important, but using those skills in projects makes them more meaningful for the students. This semester, I introduced a “Choice” Google Project to all my classes. It involves two choices: 1) the students choose the novels that they want to read (within their reading levels of course), and 2) the students choose which projects that they want to complete to show their understanding.

There are four groups of projects: the easiest projects worth 25 points, harder projects worth 50 points, even harder ones worth 75 points, and the hardest ones worth 100 points. The goal of the students is to choose projects that add up to 100 points. They could do four projects worth 25, two worth 50, one worth 25 and one worth 75, or one worth 100, or any other combination, so long as they add up to 100. My full list of projects and directions are included below in a Google Doc. It is a work in progress; I may make some changes to it when I re-introduce the second-semester projects to my students.

I should clarify that I’ve focused on Google Apps and tools because all my students have Chromebooks and Google accounts.

One more “project” that I plan to introduce to all my classes as the second semester starts is the Digital Portfolio. Win-E-Mac Public School, where I teach, already does a “Writing Portfolio” that follows students from Kindergarten through graduation, but those portfolios include printed essays and projects kept in folders in boxes. My classroom, however, is paperless, so I wanted to have my students create digital portfolios using Google Sites. My lesson plans for that are included below.

If you are a teacher reading this, especially an English teacher, I would love if you could look it over and give me feedback on these lesson plans. I want to start simple and build on it so I don’t overwhelm my students when I introduce it to them. I plan to introduce the Digital Portfolios and the second semester Google Projects on January 22nd, day one of semester two!

Celebrate Pi Day with Pi Poetry!

Today, the Win-E-Mac English department joined forces with the math department in celebrating Pi Day (3rd month, 14th day). Firstly, let me give credit where credit is due: Jessica Strom ( sent a link to an awesome idea ( The concept involves using the numbers of pi to create a poem, where each word needs to have the correct number of letters to match up with each digit of pi. In other words, the first word has three letters, the second has one, the third has four, and so on. Punctuation doesn’t count.

Working on this project today was challenging, yet I think very rewarding, for my 9th-grade class. They’ve come up with some awesome poems so far, which I don’t have permission to share here just yet. However, I thought it was important to model a poem, to show the students what is possible with Pi Poetry. One of the requirements of the assignment was that it ties thematically to pi, so in other words, there has to be something round featured in the poem. I chose the sun.


A Pie Poem by Andrew Hanson
(click here for a little more color)

I wait
I watch
Preparing in wonder
Watch the light increase
Wonderful sunrise

Observing red or the filtered gold

Wonder at better days
The new daybreak has me waiting
Something great

Revamping and Refreshing

Welcome back! I’m so excited for the 2017-2018 school year!

If you’ve been to this “Win-E-Mac English” website before, you’ll notice that it’s undergone a significant facelift for the new school year. The theatre and testing sections of the site have been spun out to their own sites:

I’ve also totally revamped my Classroom Guidelines from a boring one-page doc to a slideshow! Check it out!

Lastly, I decided to paint an accent wall in my classroom. I could post a picture, but wouldn’t you rather come check it out for yourselves at Open House next week? Yeah? See you on Wednesday, August 30th from 5-7!

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