How to Create a Bootcamp Binder

MrsFerrariClassroom

2016-17 marks my 4th year of teaching Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, AP Lang for short.  I’ve been able to accumulate and streamline materials that I find to be the most effective for introducing, applying, and mastering the skills … Continue reading

Looking Forward to August

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I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I cannot believe how quickly time is passing! It seems like just a few days ago I was heading out of my classroom to begin my maternity leave, and now I am pulling materials together for the first weeks of the school year.

I definitely want to appreciate everything that is in store for our little family, and August is going to keep us on our toes.

What’s in store for August

Baby Boy’s 4-month check up
Back to school for my husband and myself AKA
My return to teaching since March 3rd
Birthdays upon birthdays! 14 big ones in our family (Who knew November was so sexy???)
The return of football, preseason
Family pictures with my parents
Bad Moms movie night with my girlfriends
A family visit with an aunt and uncle we haven’t seen in a few years
A massage appointment for this mama thanks to my godmother
July was fabulous, but I’m always eager to start a new month because it inspires me to try, try again at achieving goals.

Family Goals: Spend more time with each other than in front of a screen.

I know that his is qualitative, not a quantitative goal unless I literally keep track of minute-to-minute time spent. I do know that I will be gone from the house more than I ever have before since Cliff was born so it will be important to make each moment, each hug, each snuggle count. Nobody wishes that they would have watched one more episode of TV or checked Facebook one more time when they calculate their valuable moments. I may have less time, but I will be better quality time spent with my family in this upcoming month.

Health Goals: Keep everything in check and hit the gym daily.

I have reached my body composition goal by being able to fit into my khaki capri pants for work. It’s a dull goal, but now I just want to maintain that achievement. I can accomplish this by sticking to my 80/20 diet (80% healthy, 20% cheat food) and getting to the gym. I am grateful that I enjoy working out, mostly afterward, and it’s not a mental mountain to climb.

Professional Goals: Take in every day, remain present, and then become reflective.

Ask anyone who has been working full time for some time if they would like an extended period of time off, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would turn you down. I will not insult stay-at-home parents and call my maternity leave/summer break a vacation because trust me, I worked! But what I will say is that this time away from the classroom reminded me why I love my profession, why I believe it’s my calling, and refocused me on my objectives: support student learning through innovative and whole-child instruction. I want to work with students, their parents and my colleagues to support their educational advances. Money, power, and titles were not why I chose to become a teacher, and I have forgotten that in the past few years, allowing what I thought I was “owed” to taint my opinion of what I do and what I contribute. I was able to conduct a two-week SAT English study camp this summer, and it was just enough to remind that I love my job.

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.