Welcome July

Happy 1st of July! 

I am really excited to begin this new month.  It’s going to be the craziest and busiest month for us because we have so many friends and family members who are coming to meet our son, Cliff.  How blessed are we that many people love us enough to take time out of their schedules for us.  Thank goodness Cliff has been working on his selfie faces because I’m sure there will be plenty of picture taking and memory making!

June was an interesting month for us, and went out like a bang…literally.  Here are the highlights:

  • I spoke at my school’s graduation ceremony and watched my first group of students walk across the stage.
  • Dan wrapped up the school year and started his summer vacation.  It’s been great having all three of us home during the day.
  • I joined Bailey’s Gym to help get me closer to my pre-baby body.  I forgot how much I enjoyed working out in a legit gym.  The atmosphere inspires me to push myself more than when I’m at home.
  • Dan celebrated his first ever Father’s Day.  I wish I could have done more to express how much Cliff and I love him and what a phenomenal father he is.
  • I attended a week-long Advanced Placement Literature conference and got SOOOO inspired!  I have been developing my new courses and reading/rereading books like a curriculum planning-aholic.
  • Dan and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary by watching “Hail, Caesar!” and eating a delicious dinner at home.  #NewParents
  • Two wonderful young ladies that graduated a few years ago came over to visit, and it was nice catching up with them.
  • Cliff also had his 3-month appointment and got a solid bill of healthy from his pediatrician.  We are working on his sleeping at night because it has been fluctuating lately.  The doctor suggested that he may be having some digestive issues because she noticed a pattern between the pace and quantity of his eating habits and his poor sleeping sessions.  She suggested some Mylicon, and that has made a huge difference already!

NOT my baby =)

What’s In Store for July

July is going to be hectic but in a good way.  Just because we will be entertaining friends and family doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals to keep up with.

Books/Reading & Curriculum Planning:

I want to review the books that I have included in my curriculums for this upcoming school year.  I have read all of them before, but not necessarily used them for direct instruction.  Also, with teaching a section of Advanced Placement Literature, I will need to revamp my teaching strategies to support a new way to analyze and write about the texts they will be studying.

One of the strategies that I took away from my week-long conference was to give students a specific task for their reading that qualifies under a “Seek and List” title.  For example: Read the poem, “Groceries” by Cathy Smith Bowers, and create a list of similes and/or metaphors for things that are damaged.  Then, choose two and explain how and why the author used these devices to create tone.

Goal: Review the following books & create “Lists”

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Health and Wellness:

New moms have a difficult standard to live up to when they’re trying to lose the baby weight.  I don’t like the term “get back” your body because that assumes that there’s a loss, a void, a deficit when you don’t have the same physique after having a baby.  A woman’s body is put through total trauma to carry and deliver a new life, and it should be handled with tenderness and love.  As a culture, we are too violent with our expectations that women should “snap back” and quickly.  EVERY SINGLE aspect of your life changes once you become a parent or add another sibling to the pack, so why stress about having a different body?  That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with wanting to be healthy and in shape, or ever aspire to fit back into your old wardrobe; I am someone who has focused on that specific goal now that I’ve had my son.  The difference is that I don’t demand it to happen before it’s time, or set unrealistic expectations.  I work out every day, true, but I also did that before and during my pregnancy.  I slowly built my cardio and strength training routines back up, slowly and carefully.  I am not back to my fitness level, but I am not beating myself up about it.  Some women may achieve their goals sooner than me, some may take longer.  Just like all pregnancies, like all babies, each woman’s journey is specific to them and shouldn’t be compared to others’.  With that being said, I do have a goal for July to help me get closer to my ultimate goal.

July Goal: Workout daily & fit into my black and khaki capri pants.

Ultimate Goal: Workout daily & fit into my old wardrobe.

*Notice I don’t have a weight or pant size goal.  I just want to fit into the clothes that I used to wear.

Family:

Clearly, it is going to be a full month for the Ferrari family!  My ultimate goal is to enjoy each and every moment that we will get to spend with our out-of-town guests.

An Update on Classroom Blogging

Initial post about using WordPress/Blogging/Feedly in the classroom

Several weeks ago, I discussed my desire to have my students begin blogging in the classroom.  My plan was to have them create their own WordPress accounts and write both creatively and academically, both inside and outside of the classroom.  The school year is only 3 weeks old now and I have successfully assigned two blog postings.

Blog Assignments:

  1. “Convince Me” Final Draft
    1. Students will participate in a Think-Pair-Share in order to create a list of the characteristics of a convincing argument.
    2. Students will share out their responses to create a master list of all the characteristics.
    3. Students will read a sample argument essay in which the major parts are labeled.
    4. Students will create their own definitions of the parts of an argument essay based on the samples and their purposes.
    5. Students will respond to the following prompt: I am a flexible teacher, so if I hear a convincing argument for something, I will give it genuine consideration. I typically assign homework three days a week. Write a one-paragraph argument that attempts to convince me to cancel assigning homework for Eng IV.  Alternative: You may like homework, so you can argue for why it should still be assigned.
    6. Students spent three days between peer editing, reading samples and grading them, and studying other argument essays before writing their final draft that is uploaded to their blog as their first posting.
  2. “To This Day” Inspired Poem
    1. In our synthesis essay unit entitled “Haters Gonna Hater,” I had students read multiple texts from various genres that all dealt with bullying.  One poem that was included in this unit was “To This Day” by Shane Koyczan.  There’s a fantastic rendition, in addition to the TEDTalk, of “To This Day” that you can watch here.  
    2. Students worked with “Arm Partners” (someone that is within arm’s length of their original seat) to read through the printed version of “To This Day” and they completed a Close-Reading analysis.
    3. After sharing their analysis with their partners, students watched the video version of “To This Day.”  This is the version we watched:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY
    4. Students were asked to discuss the specific writing choices that were made that separated this poem from others they had read.
    5. Finally, students were asked to write their own versions of “To This Day” in which they mimicked Koyczan’s style.  The topic was bullying.  Their poems had to be 10 stanzas with a minimum of 6 lines each.  This poem was posted on their blogs.

Friday Link Up!

Friday Link Up

1.  What to Read Next: 100 Timeless Books, Poems, and Essays by Terry Heick

P.S. Here is a list of titles that have immediately gone on my To-Read List:

  • Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
  • Jack Kerouac, On the Road, the Original Scroll
  • Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
  • Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  • Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

2.  10 Truths About Building School Teams by Elena Aguilar

As ELA department chair, the two areas of focus for me this year are:

3. Who you are as a leader has the greatest influence on a team.
Your emotional intelligence as a leader is the key knowledge and skill set from which all others emerge. Leaders must learn to recognize and manage their emotions — and recognize and manage the emotions of others. We need to make friends with feelings. They exist. The more we battle or avoid feelings, the bigger the mess. When we meet them head on, we can make progress toward building healthy teams and meeting the needs of kids.

9. Communication between team members is the thread that connects everything.
It always comes down to what we say and how we say it. But teams in schools never seem to pause and discuss the kind of communication that we aspire to have. We complain to each other off line, we bemoan the grumpy colleague or the one who dominates conversations, but we never deal with it head on. It’s time. We need to address communication in teams — down to the granular level of the words that we use with each other.

3.  Is This the Beginning of the End for the SAT and ACT? via NPR

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NACAC’s [the National Association for College Admission Counseling] own research has found that some schools are considered “selective” because of their lofty SAT or ACT average scores. But it’s not at all clear whether performance on those tests is a reliable predictor of future academic success.

4.  The Re-Debut of “Reading Rainbow” on Netflix on August 1st via Upworthy.com

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5.  Key and Peele