Tag Archives: teaching

Are you working for the weekend?

15 Nov

The world of education lately can be pretty discouraging. I see daily posts from teachers and parents who are struggling with changes none of us can control. And it’s easy to lose sight of what we’re all in this for: the kids. I think a lot about my choice to become a teacher and how it may or may not be what I thought it was going to be. Regardless, it’s what I do, and I have to find ways to return to the reasons I chose it. If you don’t like you situation, you can sit there, complain, do nothing about it and blame others (which is what most people do), or you can choose to live your life a different way.

The negativity in education is almost overwhelming. I can’t even walk into the doors of my school without another teacher jokingly saying on the way in “Is it Friday yet!? Heheh!” I don’t want to live every week just waiting for Friday. Isn’t it weird that complaining and negativity just tend to seep into your pores as soon as the other person opens her mouth? That doesn’t mean I’m upset about Friday rolling around and taking the time to relax after working all week, but I truly want to find ways to enjoy each day and find happiness in little things instead of getting bogged down in all the complaining and negativity. I’ve decided to compile a list of things I LOVE about my job and my kids this year, and brainstorm ways I can capitalize and focus on the things I love instead of focusing on the negative which too many of us do.

Inspirational Quotes

1. I love the how fun, quirky and unique every single one of my kids is.

This year I am gifted with the most amazing, individual and fun students I’ve EVER had. The funny thing is was all last year, the teachers kept warning us about how ‘bad’ this class was and how we were going to have a terrible year next year. I just tried to block it out and it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I absolutely am overwhelmed with the amount of fun I have with these kids. Everyone has such an individual personality, and everyone of them is accepting of one another’s differences. When I was in middle school it was all about being ‘popular’ and ‘cool’. There IS no “popular” group in this class because they all just let their individuality shine and I love it. And they are also some of the most caring, self-less kids I have ever met.

2. I love being able to have deep conversations about literature with my students.

Many people are complaining about the “common core” and how it’s so horrible. When in fact, some of the standards regarding literature are asking me to have discussions with students about literature that I would never have dreamed we would be having because I thought it was ‘too advanced’. I never thought my 8th graders would be analyzing literature. That’s something I did in college. Believe it or not, I LOVE analyzing literature and it’s one of the reasons I became an English teacher. So being able to pass my passion on to my students makes me happy.  I thought getting 8th graders to understand symbolism was a thing of the past. I’m happy to bring it back!

and i'll feel sorry for the students who are forced to read my book and write essays on it :( pin by kay

3. I love designing lessons that will excite and engage my students.

I want to branch out and not do the same thing all the time. With the prescribed lessons that NYS is distributing to us, it’s quite easy to follow along to the lesson without deviating. However, that’s boring. What I like is bringing new things to the table that I know will interest and excite my own students. I love just trying something crazy that I know is completely impractical. Many times I think of creative projects that I’m scared to do because it takes up “test prep time”. However in the back of my mind I know how much my students will enjoy it and how much fun we’ll have doing it.  I try to do at least one of these big projects a year. Last year, we rehearsed and filmed scenes from Anne Frank’s Diary. The year before, we created graphic novels based on unrequited love for the Romeo and Juliet unit. A lot of times I’ll have a crazy idea and I know it will be fun but take a lot of work. I do it anyway.

If your dreams dont scare you they aren't big enough

4. Every class, every day, every year is different.

I cannot fathom how people go to work at desk job day after day, year after year. No offense if you do and you love it. I’ll admit there are some days when I think “why can’t I just go sit at a desk all day??”. But the truth is I would HATE it every day. Every day to me just flies by without even thinking about it. I blink and its 3pm. I’m busy up to the minute I leave. And every day is a new challenge, a different experience. Even from class to class- one lesson can go poorly and the same exact lesson can go great. That happened today! My lesson in the morning was very rocky and I got discouraged (actually why I thought of writing this post lol) and then the same lesson was amazing in another class! I love trying to figure out who my students are and what will work best for each class. I love noticing what went well and why and how I can improve it the next time. Every lesson I get to do 5 times since I have five sections of 8th grade. So by the fifth time you can bet I’ve made some tweaks. And it definitely keeps it interesting. And who else has a job where every September you get to start over?!? Like you get a new reputation. It’s like changing towns and nobody knows who you are and what you’re like and you can change things about the way you teach and no one will ever know!

I challenge you to start noticing what went well in your day. The good things. Instead of focusing on all the negatives. Whether it be in your job or just life in general. What are you grateful for and how can you focus on it to make each day count and stop living for the weekend? Seeing the good in every day truly makes a difference in your overall happiness.

ELA Common Core Bulletin Board + Expanding my Blog!

9 Nov

I am lucky and blessed enough in the school district I’m currently in to have a special ed co-teacher who works with me as well as an amazing teacher assistant. I wanted to share the great work she did on a bulletin board for (Thanks, Becky!) Although I consider myself very thorough as a teacher, I sometimes am not the most organized or most artsy-creative person in the world. That’s where my co-teacher comes in! I wanted to design a bulletin board that reminded students how to build an argument according to the common core- making a claim and using evidence to prove it.





I have also been teaching my 8th graders strategies I learned from the book Writing Analytically by David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephens (a book we used for professional development in the district I was in last year). This asks students to look for repetitions, binaries and anomalies in order to analyze a text. Believe it or not, the 8th graders are doing a great job with it.

Cooking adventures- healthy ‘pepper pasta’

Lately I have really been thinking about expanding my blog from just teaching ideas to a broader view of my daily life including recipes, food, fitness information and workouts. I know there are a million blogs out there, but I enjoy doing it and want to weave writing (why I became an English teacher in the first place) into my life. It is a goal I have set for myself and I don’t want to give up on it just because ‘there are a million blogs out there’. I am really having a tough time thinking of what to name my blog! I want it to let readers know what I’m blogging about- cooking, working out and teaching. I think I can appeal to more people and get more people to read my blog if I also blog about these things. In the past year I have been teaching myself to cook as well as adopting a healthier lifestyle and I want to incorporate those things into the blog.



My first 5K



I am having such a hard time thinking of something..but when I do be prepared for my blog to be changed from just lesson plan ideas to a place where you’ll find recipes I try out and workouts and ideas for health and fitness.

Any ideas for a blog name?!?!?

Spooky Tell Tale Heart Lesson for Halloween

31 Oct

arts,Edgar Allan Poe,famous people,famous persons,literature,men,persons,Poe,poets,text,writers

I’ve been planning for WEEKS and stressing out just to make sure I could do this lesson on Halloween. Things got a little derailed when we had an unexpected ‘weather’ day Tuesday due to the hurricane that didn’t really hit us. But I was still able to do the lesson today on Halloween.

For the last three lessons we’ve been reading Edgar Allan Poe poems and studying his life. Today we read “The Tell Tale Heart” and watched a short You Tube Video that went long with it. The website  Knowing Poe has a great interactive audio along with text for this story. The students followed along and listened to the story and did ‘sticky notes’. The interactive on the website allows you to add comments as you go along, so I would stop every now and then and ask students to share a comment. I really wanted to do this on the Ipads and students could have listened to it and done their own comments individually…..but you can’t get Adobe Flash on Ipads and that’s the program the website used 😦

Then we watched a short You Tube video that was a 10 minute adaptation of the story. The kids enjoyed it and pointed out the differences.

Then we answered some close reading questions that I made up. This was one of the first items I put on Teachers Pay Teachers, and it is my best selling item! Check it out!

Tell Tale Heart with Questions

Maybe I should have charged more than a dollar! Happy Halloween
celebrations,cropped images,cropped pictures,decorations,Halloween,holidays,jack-o'-lanterns,PNG,pumpkins,special occasions,transparent background

IPad Apps for the Classroom

22 Oct

Today was a professional development day and I was able to play around with my Ipad and test out different Ipad apps to use in the classroom. Our grade level has a cart of Ipads to sign out, and the sixth grade in our school is actually getting 1:1 Ipads. I’d love to get 1:1 Ipads someday but right now it’s not a reality, so I have to make do with what I have.

Here is a list of the ones I found most useful:

Voice Thread:
Voice thread allows you to record voice and make notes about a video or snapshot. It really doesn’t do anything that amazing, but it’s the creative ways teachers are using it that makes it cool. I plan on having students take snapshots of their narrative essays, and record their voice reading it and making comments on it.

They will do this for all their major assignments throughout the year and at the end of the year they will have a ‘digital portfolio’, with all their pieces of work and voice recording explaining the work.

You could also use it for class discussion about text- but it would require all students have their own Ipad and email addresses. You could take a picture of the text and have students write comments as you read. Here’s an edutopia article regarding more you can do with Voice Thread.

QR Reader:

This is a rather simple one that most people have heard of. You can embed a code into a certain QR, then have students scan the QR code with the Ipad and it will go directly to the link/video/website that the QR links to.

This isn’t much different than just giving kids the website or directions to find the video, but it’s much easier and avoids the headache of students not typing in the address right, not following directions, etc.

You could do a scavenger hunt of QR codes around the room/school and have students do a sort of ‘mobile’ web quest.

Show Me:
Basically another avenue to annotate and record over pictures and/or diagrams. The only thing is you can only work with one ‘slide’ as opposed to many pages. This would work well if you wanted to record yourself doing a math problem in action or explaining a concept to students. You don’t have to remember what you said each time, you can just record the notes and the conversation.
You can just this for white board notes and not have to re-write the notes for every class. This might be a good tool for teachers who teach in a lot of rooms.

If you have great Ipad apps and ideas that you are currently using in your classroom, please comment below! This is just a sampling of what I even did today…I know there are many more!

Peer Conferences: Are they worth it?

18 Oct

Today we did peer conferencing in class with the narrative essays the students have been writing. Many times I’ve done peer conferences and realized after the lesson that it had absolutely no value and was a complete waste of time. The students are not teachers. Sometimes they don’t give the best advice. Sometimes they give REALLY bad advice to each other.

For example, after peer conferencing in a lesson last year, a student showed me her paper. She asked me if the word ‘I’m’ needed to be capitalized because her partner had told her that it wasn’t. Every time she had used ‘I’m’, her partner had drawn a big slash through the capital I……head slap.

And then you get the usual useless advice that students give each other like “It was good!” That doesn’t really help anyone.

I’ve been training students to give comments to each other based on the items I’ve taught them and based on the rubric provided for their narrative essays. Using Angela Stockman’s model of ‘Warm and Cool Feedback’ (see more about this here), I framed questions on an anchor chart that students will use to give feedback to each other on their essays. Examples for narrative would be:




Warm Feedback:

I liked how you used ________________________ to hook the reader.

Your dialogue in (this part) of the story was great.





Cool Feedback:

Could you maybe start your story with _____________________ instead?

What did you learn about life from this experience? (prompting students to come up with a theme)




These sentence frames allow students to give specific advice on the items on the rubric. Therefore when students go and make changes, the changes they make will automatically make their essay better ACCORDING to the rubric and the actual graded items.

My narrative common core rubric, as well as others can be found here.

What are your thoughts on peer conferencing? Waste of time, or worth it?

Teachers Pay Teachers Experiment

10 Oct

Many people have mentioned to me over the past couple weeks about the teacher who became a millionaire by selling lesson plans online.  When I heard about this, I immediately thought about Teachers Pay Teachers. I know about it from doing this blog and visiting other blogs where teachers link to their TPT accounts in order to sell products and the ideas they have on their blogs. I have never been one to actually pay money for lesson plans for worksheets, as I really prefer making my own stuff. I will occasionally download stuff from TPT when it’s free or really inexpensive (only if I REALLY want it). 

 
I figured I might as well go ahead and set up an account because I know there are a lot of teachers who like downloading or copying things that are pre-made. Since I’m already doing this blog I figured I’d give Teachers Pay Teachers a shot. I put up a couple things last week just for fun…and I actually got two sales so far! Woo hoo! 

I don’t plan on making a million dollars…..but this is a way I can share some of the stuff that I talk about on the blog. I just recently put up a worksheet I used to help students find how writers use language to convey emotion. This is original work- you have to be careful what you put up because you can’t sell something copied from someone else obviously! Well….we’ll see how it goes! 

Amazing Common Core Standard Checklist!

2 Oct

I can’t really take ANY credit for this amazing idea I’m about to share….it was ALL my co-teacher’s idea. I asked her permission to post it because I am obsessed with it. My co-teacher was wondering if there was a way to track how many times we had hit each standard in lessons, as well as pay attention to those we focus on more than others. We were looking for a simple document with all of the common core standards but couldn’t find one. Then she came into my room with this outrageous creation:

It’s kind of hard to see but she cut out the list of standards for each category (reading literature, reading informational, writing, speaking, listening and language) and glued them on to large piece of construction paper. Then she laminated it. To the right are spaces for me to tally when I hit a particular standard in a lesson. I can keep track of it every day. THIS IS GENIUS AND I’M OBSESSED WITH IT!!! 
 

Here’s a shot of the whole thing.



Since these are laminated, I can erase and start all over next year! I just thought of the idea to use a different color for each marking period, so I can track which standards I hit each marking period. This will help me when I’m building my curriculum next year. Since it’s my first year in this position, I am still building my curriculum as I go along. Next year I can determine which standards I want to fall in which marking period and make sure I hit the important ones every making period. 

AMAZINGGGGG!!!! That is all.

Pencils and Pancakes

learning about life one lesson at a time

The Domestic Man

Gluten-free & Paleo-friendly recipes, inspired by traditional & international cuisines. New recipes every Tuesday.

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

Otherwise Simple

Living, Laughing and Staying Healthy...simplified

Laur Runs

...to the finish line, the mall, and the table: Fitness, fashion, food, and fun!

Daily Cup of Kate

Enjoying Life One Sip at a Time

The Cave Woman Cafe

Going forwards by eating backwards

Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind

Culinary Adventures in Paleo Cooking

#PaleoThugLife

Recipes and rants in R-rated language

Strictly Paleo...ish!

It's just real food...

Reading Tea Leaves

Blogging about Tea, Teaching, and Rejuvination

The Cookie ChRUNicles

Running through life while balancing healthy eating and single motherhood

The PhD Experiment

Because at this point, my life is one big dissertation project

Brain, Body, Because

searching for balance.

Read, Run, Repeat

A tale of fitness, books, food, and life in between

The Balance Beam

Thoughts on a Myriad of Topics

Cooking for the Other Half

life, in and out of a new england kitchen