Curriculum Overload in July

To the people who think that teachers sit around and sip margaritas by the poolside all summer, allow me a moment to correct that fallacy.


My circle of friends just happens to be comprised of mostly people in the world of Education and our summers have a planning theme.  We reflect and make adjustments to what we did in the previous school year and begin implementing those changes in our annual plans for the next.  There just is not an “off switch” in a teacher’s brain.


I won’t deny that I’ve spent my fair share of intimate times with my Netflix account or brought a good book to the beach, but planning for next year has always been on my mind.  Between office updates and family visits, I’ve been plugging away at creating a whole new curriculum for my new English IV and Pre AP English course.  Part of that development has included attending the CollegeBoard’s Advanced Placement Summer Institute at Bolles School for AP Literature.


If you don’t know anything about the Bolles School, you need to know that it’s an immaculate campus!  I feel as though I am either on a college campus or backpacking my way through a rustic villa in Spain.

Bolles 1



I will be spending four full days of being full immersed in learning the ins and outs of AP Literature with the objectives of 1.) learning what is required of the course to support my development of our Pre-AP course, and 2.) to support my own instructional knowledge for my English IV development.  I really enjoyed the first day, and while it was quite intense versus my normal 3-4 hours of reading and note-taking in the early afternoons of my DIY professional development, I am very glad that I am dedicating a week of my summer to this.

Speaking of AP, I received my students’ test results on Sunday night.  I am very pleased with the overall scores and was pleasantly surprised that some students did better than was expected.  I wish that I could take credit for their scores, but the truth is that I was blessed with a very advanced group of students who not only are intelligent, but they have the maturity to take AP classes seriously.  Regardless of whether my students “passed” or “failed” according to this one test, I am incredibly proud of them and I cannot wait to start round two of AP Lang.

Office Project 2014 Part Two

Once I had completed my closet update, I had the remodeling bug!

Closet Before Closet After 3

I had envisioned what I wanted my office to look like thanks to Pinterest, and because my sisters were coming into town, I knew that I had to put a pin in those additional changes.  Two days after we said goodbye to my family, Dan and I headed back to Lowes and I secretly began working on Phase Two.

Closet Before 2

Office Before

Ultimately, I wanted to change the wall color from Baby Blue to a soft white.  It took almost two coats of paint to cover the walls.  I learned my lesson that you should spend a little bit of extra money on paint in order to get the look and quality that you want.  In addition, we bought two ladder-style bookshelves and assembled them to adorn the window.

Office After


Office Upgrade Collage

  • I posted my “100 Great Authors” and “1984” posters along with my June 5th “The Fault in Our Stars” premiere sign.
  • I rearranged some of my furniture so that it would accommodate the additional space that was earned after donating our mattress to St. Vincent’s.
  • The desk was moved from the side wall to the center of the room.  I will be working with my mom to make a room-darkening curtain to tone down the glare from the sun on my computer screen.
  • I have two “Dumpster Finds” in my room as well: the first is my black coffee table that now houses my dad’s old toolbox and TV, and the other are two trays that I painted off-white and are sitting on the top shelves of the bookcases.

Ultimately, I am in love with my new space.  I have spent many hours putzing with my curriculum planning ideas and reading in my grandfather’s orange chair from the 60s.  In total, after buying lumber, paint, two bookshelves, and supplies, I would say that this room transformation came in around at $450.  I feel like an episode of Trading Spaces.


Office Project 2014 Part I

I’m proud to say that my absence has not be due to overwhelming amounts of research/writing/editing for a masters course or hampering bodily damage due to an over-exercised ugly cry reflex during “The Fault in Our Stars” viewings, but because I have been spending the first four weeks of my summer vacation both enjoying the Florida sun with my family and revamping my home office.

Beach Collage

My sisters brought their beautiful daughters down to Florida for a vacation to the beach and Dan and I were more than happy to accommodate their every wish to spend time at the beach and our pool.  All four girls had a wonderful time, and I’m convinced that my sisters, along with all caretakers of small children, deserve both a Medal for Bravery and sainthood.  It was a mere four-day visit, but I am still reeling over the amount of energy that was expended, both mentally and physically, to keep up with my nieces.

Office Project 2014

What started off as a desire to add more shelving to the accordion-doored closet in my office turned into a complete upgrade.  I am saddened to say that I did not do a very good job of taking before pictures of the office in general, but I will do my best to demonstrate the Before and Afters.

Office Before

Closet Before

I had a vision in my mind as to what I wanted this closet to look like and its functionality capabilities.  After sketching out a few ideas, I shared them with my dad, a licensed contractor in his previous life in Michigan, and we headed off to Home Depot for our necessary supplies.  In addition to paint, rollers, and screws, we would need to buy the lumber that would be turned into shelves.



Growing up with a father who owned a pole barn that, to a five year old, dwarfed our house, filled up multiple-purposed saws, drills, and other power tools, made this project something that was familiar, but my role in it was new.  I had helped my dad in the past with various stages of projects depending upon both my abilities and the probability of me cutting off body parts if left up to my own devices.  My dad is a very patient teacher, and I am still learning, but I am proud to say that I found a niche in wood working.

After painting the inside of the closet and the Home Depot-cut shelves, it was time for installation.  This proved to be a bit tricky because I requested that they be the full length of the closet.  In addition to having to be finessed into place, the sheer length of the shelves would require a support to be added underneath.  I chose a wooden curtain rod that was cut into appropriately sized pieces and installed them once the shelves were in place.  All that was needed now were the possessions to fill the shelves.

Closet After 3

Closet Upgrade Collage

I’m extremely proud of this project and I cannot wait to share with you the second phase to the upgrade!