Put your general knowledge and geography to the test

Following on from Google's  spelling challenge game released in May called Spell Up the folks at Mountain view have again beefed up their educational profile with the addition of an excellent little Geography / General knowledge game called Smarty Pins.

The premise of this game is simple, you have to correctly locate as many geographical icons on a map using the clues provided in as little time as possible.  The closer you are the more questions you will continue to face.  It's great fun and very easy to play.

The feedback from an incorrect answer is pretty amusing.  It tries to belittle you as much as possible without killing the friendship entirely.

I am not sure how deep you can go with this as far as using it as a Geography tool for learning and teaching but it will definitely separate your students who understand that Austria and Australia are two countries that have very little in common.

Finally, it is regionally sensitive and as such will ask you questions primarily aimed at the country / region in which you live.

Click here to access.

Teach your students about the four different types of bullying


Bullying has become a very popular word amongst school age children. 

However, this word is often misunderstood.  Bullying is action(s) repeated over and over again by an individual or group of people with the intent to harm either physically, verbally, socially (emotionally), or through cyber sources. 

This lesson will discuss and explore the different types of bullying and provide students with the opportunity to identify the various types.

Click here to download the free 5 page lesson plan.

Teach your students about bullying and strategies to deal with it.


Bullying is a problem that often starts in the early years. At times, students may not understand the severity of their actions. For others, they may not know how to appropriately respond to those bullying them.

In any case, bullying bites! &This simple lesson allows for thoughtful discussion and reflection between teachers and students. Awareness can assist in preventing the lingering effects of bullying.

Click here to download the free lesson plan

How to add more detail to your students writing

Nonfiction writing is a primary focal point for language arts classes across the United States.  Students are no longer expected to just write creative short stories or basic poetry.  Instead, students are expected to pen informational feature articles, argumentative speeches, and other forms of nonfiction writing. 

Teachers will collectively agree that the best authors make use of a variety of detail types.  By using statistics, facts, historical examples, personal examples, amongst other detail types, one’s main idea can be accurately developed to reflect far beyond just an apprentice writer.

Click here to download the lesson plan about details in writing.


Click here to download the assessment tool around details in writing.

Getting started with Wolfram Alpha in the classroom

Wolfram Alpha is a search engine for statistics and facts.  It is linked to thousands of databases and is an excellent tool for analyzing and comparing data and statistics on virtually any field of interest... Literally anything.

The video below will explain the potential and how it differs from Google, which is a completely different search engine which becomes apparent after some use.

Wolfram Alpha have always understood the potential of using their tool in the classroom and have created an education portal made up of courses and resources for teachers and students.

The resources are more geared to the maths science area and would not be of great interest to junior primary teachers but the product is constantly evolving and works on every platform.

The education portal can be found here.  IF you have been using Wolfram Alpha in creative ways with your students we would love to hear about it in our comments section below.

15 meaningful recount prompts for secondary students

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Recounts can often be a dry and dreaded writing task for teachers and students as far too often we recount menial and boring events such as what happened over the weekend. 

These fifteen recount prompts will really encourage your students to think deeply and provide a an opportunity to find out a little bit more about ourselves and each other.

Excellent free recount writing tips for teachers and students can be  found here

Excellent free recount writing tips for teachers and students can be found here

If you are looking for an incredible free resource for teaching how to write recounts be sure to check out literacyideas.com.  It has complete guides to teaching all major styles of writing.

  • Looking back on our childhood, we often come back to key events that had a major impact on us. Tell about one of those defining events from your childhood.

  • It has been said that parents are our first and most important teachers. Describe a time when you learned a valuable lesson from one of your parents.

  • Recount a time when you found yourself in a perilous situation. Tell the story of how you got into that situation and how you survived it.

  • Far too often we take nature for granted. Describe an experience that made you appreciate our natural world.

  • We have all heard the saying “You should never judge another person until you walk in his or her shoes.” Tell about an experience that enabled you to better understand another person.

  • We all possess phobias and things that we are afraid of, and sometimes we find ourselves in situations that force us to face our deepest fears. Tell about a time when you had to face one of your greatest fears.

  • Sometimes something negative turns out to be positive—a “blessing in disguise.” Describe a time in your life when something bad turned out to be good.

  • Often we put people we have great admiration for so high on a pedestal that we forget they’re human. Describe a time when you realized that someone you admired was imperfect.

  • Have you ever forgotten something of extreme importance? Tell about your experience.

  • Sports are a big part of some people’s lives, either as spectators or participants. Describe a memorable sporting event.

  • Describe a time when you performed or witnessed a random act of kindness.

  • Describe a time when you witnessed something unbelievable.

  • Some unexpected experiences can help us mature from children into young adults. Describe one of those key experiences in your life.

  • It is an amazing experience when we create something beautiful. Tell about a time when you created something.

  • Rich experiences can take place when we travel. Tell about a memorable experience you had when you were traveling.

If you have any recommendations to add to these prompts please do not hesitate to share a comment below.


23 Persuasive writing Prompts for high School students


Writing a persuasive essay can be a difficult task for teachers and students if you don’t have a great idea to help get those creative juices flowing.  These prompts cover a range of issues and topics that are pertinent to middle school and high school students and can be easily adapted to work with a topic you have been teaching in your own class.

Students really enjoy the opportunity to try and change the world in which they live and hopefully these prompts might be a great starting point.


Remember that if you are looking for more great free resources and structured guides to teaching all aspects of English especially writing be sure to visit literacyideas.com

  1. Some parents give children a weekly or monthly allowance regardless of their behavior because they believe an allowance teaches children to be financially responsible. Other parents only give children an allowance as a reward for completing chores or when they have behaved properly. Explain what you think parents should do and why.
  2. Many schools now require teenagers to spend a certain number of hours each term doing volunteer work or community service. Some people believe this is an excellent idea as it promotes good citizenship and cultivates compassion. Others feel that forced volunteerism is not volunteering at all. How do you feel about this issue? Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
  3. Some parts of the world allow people to get a driver’s license at age  sixteen.  Many feel this age is much too young for the responsibility that comes with driving a car and that teenagers should not be allowed to drive until the age of 18. In your opinion, at what age should people be allowed to drive, and why?
  4. What is your all-time favorite book or movie and why? Write an essay persuading readers to watch this film or read this book.
  5. Have you ever made a life changing action that has had a positive effect on you or the lives of others? Write an essay that convinces readers to make a change for the better.
  6. You have been asked to write a letter that would convince a organizers of a major event to be hosted in your hometown.   Write an essay that convinces these delegates that your town would be great host.
  7. Top professional athletes often have salaries and bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars. Do you think these athletes deserve this type of income? Why or why not? Explain your position and use specific reasons and examples.
  8. Humans have always wondered about the possibility of life   on other planets in the universe. Do you believe extraterrestrial life exists? Write an essay persuading others to share your point of view.
  9. If someone discovered the ‘Elixir of life’ that would enable us to live forever, would it be a blessing or a curse? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  10. If you have you ever traveled to a place that you found very meaningful and rewarding? Write an essay that persuades others to visit this important place.
  11. Nearly all private schools require students to wear uniforms. Should public school students wear uniforms too? Argue for or against school uniforms for public school students. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
  12. You are to select one item from the twenty-first century to place in a time capsule for future generations, what would you choose? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice, explaining both the item’s significance and the reasons why it embodies the culture of the early twenty-first century.
  13. What would improve your town or city? Write an essay convincing officials to make a change that would improve your neighborhood.
  14. Some studies have shown students often perform better on exams if music is played softly in the background. However, some students may find the music distracting. Should schools play classical music during exams and/or allow students to listen to headphones whilst working? Take a position and explain your answer.
  15. Should parents be a child’s disciplinarian, or their best friend?
  16. Take a position and explain your answer using specific reasons and examples.
  17. Millions of people visit zoos around the world. But some people believe that zoos are inhumane and that animals should not be kept in captivity. Do you agree? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
  18. In most countries people pay taxes based upon how much they earn: the higher their income, the higher the percentage of that income they must pay in taxes. Many people argue that a flat tax, in which everyone pays the same rate regardless of income, would be a more equitable and desirable tax system. Which of these two tax systems do you think is best, and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  19. Is it wise to devote time and money to building a space station on the moon or Mars? Why or why not? Explain your answer.
  20. An ancient Greek proverb states, “All things good to know are difficult to learn.” Do you agree? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.
  21. Imagine that you know someone who is unfamiliar with computers and has never been on the Internet. Write an essay convincing this relative to get a computer and get online.
  22. Imagine that you have made it to the final round of interviews for your dream job. Convince your prospective employers that you are the one who most deserves the position.
  23. Is there something that you believe is truly worth fighting for?  Write an essay persuading others that this cause is worth a fight.

If you have any other great ideas for persuasive prompts please post them in the comments section below.


5 persuasive writing prompts about heading to college

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High school students heading off to college have a multitude of decisions and considerations to make regarding their transition into adult life.  

For many heading of to college will be a major point of consideration and discussion with parents and peers.

I hope these persuasive writing prompts for high school students heading off to college encourage them to put their ideas into an organised manner. 

Prompt 1) Many other countries including: England, Australia and New Zealand, encourage students to take a year off to travel and explore the world before going to college. While not a mainstay in American culture, this "gap-year" movement is beginning to take hold. Do you feel that it is a good idea for students to take a year off between high school and college? Or should they go straight into college following high school?

Prompt 2) You have just gotten into your dream school, the problem is that your family was pushing you to go to a different school. Which school do you go to and why? Site specific examples.

Prompt 3) More and more students are planning on living off-campus their first year of college. Do you plan on living on or off campus for your freshman year of college? Why? 

Prompt 4) A close friend of yours is interested in pursuing a career in a specific trade craft. Do you think they should go to a trade school that specializes in teaching that craft or should they go to a traditional college that offers that craft as a major? Write a letter to convince them to attend the school of your choice above.

Prompt 5) Your guidance counselor is asking for you to defend your choice of major. Write a detailed argument outlining why you are choosing to pursue that particular major. If you are still undecided in what major you are pursuing, write a detailed argument explaining why you haven't made that particular decision yet. 

Please feel free to contribute more below. 

Write Good or Die
By Scott Nicholson, Gayle Lynds, Kevin J. Anderson, M.J. Rose, Heather Graham, Douglas Clegg, Alexandra Sokoloff, J.A. Konrath, Harley Jane Kozak, Jonathan Maberry