July So Far and Goals Check-In

The first two weeks of July have just blown by, and our little family has been thoroughly enjoying!  We have had two guests come to meet our little guy: my SIL and best friend.  Cliff fell in love with them both, and the feeling was totally mutual.

Cliff has been thriving and developing new skills so quickly these days!  Wednesday night we started feeding him some rice cereal from a spoon, and at first he wasn’t so sure what his crazy parents were up to.  He sort of let the liquid pool around his lips and tongue, then would let it seep further into his mouth.  The next night, he started catching on halfway through that he was actually being fed, so he opened his mouth each time I brought his red spoon to his mouth.  it was adorable.

 

 

Cliff had the same emotional reaction: rice cereal in formula is blaaaaaaaand.

What little boy’s life, whose name is Clifford, would be complete without these???

Exactly!  Three months old is the age when you start wearing backpacks anyways, right???

I was asked to run a two-week, SAT Reading tutoring session, which has been a great opportunity for us, not only because of the extra income, but also it forced to met get to know the updated test.


July is already halfway over, and before I begin to think about August, I thought it would be a good idea to check in with the progress that I’ve made with my July goals.

Books/Reading/Curriculum Planning:

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

Goal Update:

I have reread both The Great Gatsby and The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and have reacquainted myself with the specific motifs and themes from both novels.

I wouldn’t say that I have created specific lists, by chapter/section, that I want to have the students focus on, but I am definitely closer to having my first units completed.  Luckily, the texts and strategies are familiar to me, so I can easily outline the curriculum.

As for The Scarlet Letter, I have decided that I want to put that title on hold because I am not using it this year.  Instead, I want to spend more time organizing my first two units for English III and AP Literature.

Health and Wellness:

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

Goal Update:

There is definitely more room to breath in both pairs of these pants.  I wouldn’t call them wear-ready at this point, but I still have 15 more days.

A friend of mine asked me how I was able to get back to my pre-baby body so quickly in comparison to some other women, and I told her it was all through hard work and dedication.  I still go to the gym daily, but the harder part is monitoring my food.  I’m an “all-or-nothing” person, so I can’t nibble on things or feel successful with portion control of what I call “heavier foods.”  These include: ice cream, chocolate, fries, chips/crackers, “salads” that contain a creamy dressing that is mixed throughout the ingredients, and breads.

Instead of fighting to be the person who can indulge now and again, I figure it’s better to embrace who I am and just avoid those foods that may taste good for a moment, but make me feel bloated and deflated beanbag-esq.  So that means I have cut out most unnatural sugars and increased my water intake.  It’s not easy this time of the year, what with all the BBQs and appeals to eat ice cream on a hot summer day.

 

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.

Planning Tools

My preplanning work station.

My preplanning work station.

A few weeks ago, I started organizing myself in order to tackle my curriculum planning for the 2015-16 school year.  I addressed developing a Classroom Bootcamp for the first quarter, and relied heavily on the difference between a bootcamp and a simple review.  There are a lot of ways to organize yourself, but sometimes, especially when you’re a new teacher, it can be overwhelming.  Whether you’re working on an entire curriculum, unit plan, or just a weekly/daily lesson plan, you can become distracted by all the options and resources that are available.  So here are a few tools that I use in order to relieve some of the frazzle-osity of planning.

Online Organizing

There are two types of  websites that I use to help keep myself organized.  The first is what I call the “Catch-All” and the other is “Application and Reflection.”

Catch-All

unnamedEvernote – I’ve blogged in the past about how much I love this website/app/program.  Evernote is a multi-platformed resource that allows users to accumulate notes, websites, media, and other information that they would like to save for later.  The organizational capacity is fantastic!  Categories are designated into Notebooks and within each notebook, notes are created that can be customized by adding your own text, checklists, bullet points, lists, etc.  Additionally, users can attach pictures or other documents that coincide with that particular content.

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Sample list of notebooks from my Evernote account.

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One example of a note created in my English IV Curriculum notebook.

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Sample checklist in my English IV Curriculum notebook.

Picture-7-2-2015Pinterest – I don’t think there is a soul out there who uses the internet that doesn’t know about Pinterest.  It’s more than just a way to waste a couple of hours planning weddings and dream homes; Pinterest has been one of the most helpful resources for developing everything from classroom management plans to creating posters/anchor charts for my walls to interesting articles about texts we are reading in class.  By being able to create specialized boards to organize each of these “pins,” I am able to efficiently incorporate their contents into my classroom.

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Obviously, “I am a runner” and “Workouts” don’t make too many appearances in my curriculum, but they do give me the endorphins to make it through my lessons. =)

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Application and Reflection

suite_transparent_largeGoogle Docs – I have found myself becoming more reliant on Google Docs over the last year, and I admit that I have A LOT to learn.  I have uploaded all of my curriculum documents and lesson plans here, but I also complete reflections on my lessons.  This is something I am setting up for the first time this school year, so I will keep you updated as to my progress.