Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December Currently

Linking up!

We are sadly watching the live coverage of the most recent tragic shooting out in SoCal. Something needs to change in our country. I don't get into political views on here and don't want to invite arguments; but whatever we are doing as a country is not working. This amount of tragic mass shootings just are not happening in most other countries around the globe. This is so sad.

I feel weird and very trivial transitioning from something so serious into other topics, but we are very close to Christmas break and I am SO ready. I am also very excited for April and Spring Break to get here because we have decided to take a little trip out West to Las Vegas to celebrate my 30th birthday!

I hope you all have a very safe and happy holiday season!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November Currently

I feel like, once November begins, the holiday season is officially underway! Starbucks already had holiday cups out yesterday :)

Linking up with Farley.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Currently September

Linking up with Farley!

Listening...My husband and I love this show. We are catching up on the DVR from last night.

Loving....We both have the entire 3-day weekend off, which rarely happens. He usually has to work either Saturday, Monday, or both. It's going to be SUPER hot here, but we still plan to hit up a local wine festival and take the pup hiking at a state park in the shade.

Thinking....Open House/Meet the Teacher night is tomorrow. It makes for a late night for me, especially since I commute to work.

Wanting...It was so gorgeous last week, but now the high is 94 again.

Needing...We have a wedding to attend next weekend, and I found a dress and shoes, but now I need jewelry!

My 3 goals are pretty self-explanatory :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Start of the School Year

Well the 2015 school year is underway. I hope to blog more this year than last school year, but of course, I said that last year as well ha! And I hope to have more content-rich posts instead of only linking up for Currently once a month (which is actually right around the corner!)

Here is a pic of the back half of my classroom this year that I posted on Instagram and FB. I moved my desk to the back of the room instead of the front, since we went 1:1 and I want to be able to monitor what is on students' computers during study hall or when they are quietly working/writing and I don't need to be at the front of the room.

A lot of my friends commented on liking my purple walls lol. Our only choices were purple, gold, or white. We aren't allowed to paint them anything other than those, and gold seemed too bright for me, yet white was blah. So purple it is!

On my bulletin board, I typed up a bunch of job titles and how English skills were going to be necessary in those positions. I titled the board "English in the Real World."

To the right of the bulletin board are keyboard short cuts, like Ctrl+P for print and so forth. I printed them on pretty paper and took them to Kinko's to get laminated. Since all kids have laptops now, they hopefully will come in handy.

The posters around/behind my desk are mostly from Amazon, but a couple are from other sites like RedBubble. Thank you, Amazon Prime, for getting them here before school started!

So, since we all have devices, I decided to try out Google Classroom this year. It has been a change, but I am LOVING it so far. I find it pretty user-friendly on both my end and my students' end. The hardest thing for them has been getting used to using Google Drive instead of Microsoft Office and learning how to turn in assignments in Classroom. But all classes have turned in at least a couple assignments so far, and I hardly have any problems now. If Google Classroom is an option at your school and your kids have devices, I'd really suggest checking it out. I am no expert, by any means, but I can try and answer questions you've got. I just taught myself how to navigate it, with a little help from Google Help, as well as a friend who's a librarian and knows how to use it well.

Positives to using an LMS like Classroom:
1) Easy for days I have subs! I can post all my assignments and instructions online, and students can't claim they turned something in to the sub, who lost it. They submit directly online.
2) Less paper! No lines at the copy machine!
3) Students can easily get absent work when they are gone.
4) With Drive specifically--kids can share documents with each other, for instance to peer edit papers or what not.
5) I have found grading faster so far. Now, I will say, I plan on having them turn in major essays still in hard copy because I think I will prefer that, but for short assignments or writing samples, I have liked being able to type my comments instead of writing them.

I teach mainly seniors and am loving my sections so far. We've had some great discussions and all my classes are very well-behaved and respectful. Fingers crossed that it lasts! :)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Currently

Holy cow! The first of the month snuck by me. I can't believe it's already the month I go back to school. Womp womp.

Linking up with Farley for this month's currently.

Most of mine are self-explanatory. On the squirt gun one--my husband and I decided to throw it back to our youth this summer and purchased some water guns at Toys 'R Us last month. We've been having water gun fights in our backyard when it's been particularly hot and sticky, like today. My dog loves playing too haha!

For my RAK, I think I'm going to try and get birthday cards/little goodies for the co-workers I'm closest to this year. I am friends with them on Facebook, so I can find out their birthdays and just drop a little something in their mailbox. I know I love getting birthday goodies at work!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Currently!

Wow! I totally forgot July even began today. Where the heck is my summer vacation going?!

Link up with Farley!

Listening: It is cool enough today to have the windows open! I love hearing the sounds of my neighborhood in summer.

Loving: See above! I adore that it is only in the low 70s right now.

Thinking: I always get a little blue after July 4 because it means my summer is about half over. How did June go by so fast?

Wanting: We just got back from our vacation up north! It was incredible. I fell in love with Mackinac Island and the Leelanau Peninsula. A couple pics from our trip.

Mackinac Island
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

We hiked, we biked, we drank lots of wine and ate lots of good food, and I am sad it's over.

Needing: But now it's money-saving time. We have two weddings coming up for which we have to travel, plus house projects we need to do.

All star: I have always been the go-to paper editor. Obviously, now that I teach English, that is part of my job when grading essays. But even in college, girls on my floor would come to me and ask if I could edit their papers for them. I should have charged money!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Vacation: Time for Relaxation, Work, or a Bit of Both?

Well it's been almost two full weeks of summer vacation so far, and hopefully most of you are done or at least wrapping up the year now, too.

I have spent my summer vacation thus far with a variety of activities: two work meetings, house projects, hiking as much as I can, spending time with my dog and planning my husband's 30th birthday party, which is Saturday.

I know some teachers who spend their entire summer (almost) doing work-related things and/or prepping for the next school year. I have never been one of those people.

Two summers, I did do our credit recovery/summer school program for the month of June to earn some extra money. There are also sometimes committee meetings or department meetings I have to attend. But I really try hard to make my summer as relaxing as possible.

It's always a frustrating time of year to be a teacher, I think. There are a lot of negative feelings from the public about teachers getting summers off. But on the other side of that coin, I think *some* teachers try to be martyrs about the summer thing, too, and boast about how their summer isn't really time off because all they do all summer long is work anyway.

So frankly, both sides of this issue annoy me. Here is how I typically address anyone in the first camp that are upset about teachers getting summers off:

You want summers off too? Go back to school and earn a teaching degree. Then you, too, can have summers off.

Having 2.5 months off every year is a perk of teaching. Most jobs have perks. For some corporate jobs, that may be use of a luxury company car, fancy parties, dinners out, year-end bonuses in the five figures or the ability to work from home all or part-time. Teaching does not have those perks, but we do get ample vacation time. Going into your career, you knew this would not be a perk of your job and were obviously OK with it if you followed that career choice. It is not my fault you did not choose the job that has summers off as a job perk.

To the teacher martyrs I say: Give it a rest. It is OK if you DON'T spend the entire summer working. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Spend some time with family and friends doing fun things. If working and prepping for next year make you happy and less stressed, great. But your argument will fall on deaf ears anyway, so don't do it to try and prove a point to people. 

I enjoy my summer guilt-free. I start prepping for work in early August and do attend a few work meetings if I have to, but I have every intention of relaxing, doing things I don't have time for from Sept-May and kicking up my feet. I don't feel one iota of guilt about that and neither should you.

So how do you typically spend your summers?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June Currently

School is finally over for the year! Wahoo!

Linking up with Farley for the first Currently of the summer.

Listening....Nothing! It is totally silent in the house this morning, which is kind of lovely.

Loving....Many of my teaching friends are still in school for another week or two, so I feel very lucky to be done already (though in August, I'm sure I'll be jealous of them for not starting until September!)

Thinking....I still have a few curriculum mapping meetings to attend this week and we have to start planning out our curriculum for next year.

Wanting...My first weekend of summer vacation had absolutely horrible weather. Cold and rainy. We have an outdoor concert we want to attend this weekend, so I am really hoping for nicer weather.

Needing...With school and work not an excuse anymore, I've got to get on cleaning this house!

Summer Lovin'.....Headed to northern MI in 3 short weeks! Very excited. We have a few concerts planned this summer as well. And lastly, we have a wedding in July and one in Sept (though technically not summer anymore) that we are using as long weekends/short vacays.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Sunscreen Song: Activity to do with Graduating Seniors

Well the school year is really winding down here. Our last day is this Friday. I can't believe another year is almost in the books. This year has had its ups and downs, its challenges and its triumphs. But overall, I really enjoyed the group of kids I taught and was excited to incorporate some new lessons into my curriculum.

I teach mostly seniors, who finished up a couple weeks ago, and this year I incorporate a new activity on their last day of regular classes. I might be showing my age a bit, but the "Sunscreen Song" by Baz Luhrmann was really popular when I was graduating from 8th grade (lol) and I remember it kind of being a mantra for my class.

If you aren't familiar with this spoken word song, it actually started out as a piece in the Chicago Tribune by Mary Schmich entitled "Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young."

Then, two years later, Luhrmann (the man who directed films such as Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby) set it to music and turned it into a popular spoken word song for graduating seniors (or 8th graders, as it may be).

Here is the music video for it, which I showed to my seniors:

None of my seniors had heard it before (they were all 2 when it came out, which should make you feel very old!) I also gave them a copy of the lyrics.

After listening to it and watching the video, I had them go through and mark their favorite pieces of advice. What I love about this song/article is that even though it is silly at times, it does have very good and even poignant advice in it. Here are my favorite lines:

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't
Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't
Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the 'Funky Chicken'
On your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's

Many of my students loved these lines too.

After we discussed what their favorite pieces of advice were, I had them get in pairs and write their own "Sunscreen Song." They had to come up with at least ten pieces of advice for their fellow graduating classmates. The advice could be serious or silly, sentimental or humorous. I gave them about 20 min. or so to think about it and write, and then they each shared their favorite pieces of advice. I thought beforehand that most would want to write silly advice, but the vast majority came up with very thoughtful, heartfelt and sage advice actually.

It was a very fun activity, and I thought a perfect one for their last day as a high school student. Middle school teachers could easily use this with 8th graders graduating as well, since nothing in the song is inappropriate. 

What activities have you used with graduating seniors or 8th graders?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May Currently

I have missed participating in the Currently linky these past few months. Life had been super busy, plus, since becoming a Mac owner, I felt lost without MS Paint, where I had always done the Currentlys before (the English teacher in me is grimacing at the spelling of that plural, btw). But I decided to just use a free online photo editor (I used PicMonkey) to add text to the pic and voila! If anyone wants to know how to do that, just let me know. It is super simple.

Linking up with Farley.

Listening: I love that it's have-your-windows-open weather again! I love hearing the birds chirp, lawn mowers running, people laughing outside my window in the morning.

Loving: If you remember my posts from last summer, we put in a crap ton of new landscaping. We decided to add some more flowers this year, as well as our usual annuals in flower pots, etc., so we are planting a ton this weekend and it's making me SO happy.

Thinking: Allergy season needs to end. Enough said.

Wanting: May 29 is my last day of school, and it can't come soon enough. I need a break!

Needing: We are having a huge garage sale in 2 weekends, and I need to start getting stuff together for it.

Summer yes: Trip to Mackinac Island and Leelanau Peninsula in MI this June!
Summer hope: I set a goal to complete 52 hikes in 2015. So far I have 8 lol. It is just hard to do when in school. But this summer I hope to get up and go hiking most weekdays.
Summer dream: Ever since moving into our house, I have wanted to re-paint it. It is an ugly pale yellow with red shutters right now. I am crossing my fingers we can afford to do this this summer.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bulletin board idea

I am on Spring Break right now, and it has been wonderful! The weather hasn't necessarily been cooperating, with first chilly, gloomy weather and now severe storms! But it has been nice to have some time off, especially since my husband took a week vacation from his job too. We took a small getaway to a nearby town Mon-Wed where we did some hiking, wine tasting, and lots of shopping. Now we are back home and have big plans to paint our patio this weekend if the dry weather predictions are true.

Have you all had spring break yet? Any fun trips or events?

While I'm on break and avoiding grading the essays I brought home (shhh!) I am working on a new bulletin board idea for the small board at the front of my classroom. It is so hard to figure out what to put on high school bulletin boards. There are lots of cute ideas for elementary students, but I want something a little more grown-up for my seniors in high school that is still visually pleasing and possibly useful.

I decided that since I teach 80% seniors, I would do a "life after HS" bulletin board. I ordered some black graduation cap cutouts from Etsy and picked up a silver permanent marker. I emailed our guidance counselors and had them send me a list of all the colleges/military branches our students had committed to for next year. I think I have about 30 total.

I'm going to borrow from the popular Dr. Seuss book and title my board "All the places you'll go....class of 2015 plans" then write the names of the schools/military  in silver marker on all my graduation cap cutouts.

I thought it'd be fun for the students to be able to see where their peers are headed and it also is a way of patting them on the back and saying "Way to go! Look at all the cool places you guys are headed next year!"

I will try and take a pic once I have it all finished.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An update!

Oh my gosh! It's been too long since I last blogged. It was still 2014! Yikes.

I was going to participate in the monthly "currently" for Feb. and then March, but I got a new computer a while back--I made the transition from PC to Mac--and I haven't figured out how to do those without MS Paint. Wah. I will take the time soon. Who am I kidding? I will take the time once I am on summer vacation.

But I am alive and well, though I am buried under grading from now until at least mid-April. I just got 70 resumes graded for my Tech Writing kids. Tomorrow, I have 30 lit. analysis papers on Fahrenheit 451 coming in. A week from Monday I have 70 cover letters coming in. Then that Wed., I have 20 explanatory essays coming in from College English.

It gives me hives just thinking of all this grading. But at least we have experienced some 70 degree weather recently and Spring Break is just a couple weeks away.

I feel like I have too much to catch up on on here, so I think I'll just bullet point some highlights of the last three months of my life:

  • I was sick for pretty much all of Feb. with first a horrible upper respiratory virus/cough/cold thing. Then it turned into a sinus infection and I had to go on meds. I am finally feeling better....hopefully for good.
  • I have to proctor PARCC testing this week and am a tad nervous about it. Between that and ACT testing, I feel like we've been talking testing for forever recently.
  • I have started binge-watching both The Good Wife and Friday Night Lights and love both of them. I am late to the train on both shows but they are so, so good.
  • School-wise, we are beginning a verbal communication unit in English III soon. My Tech Writing students are right in the midst of their employment writing unit. And College English is in the throes of their first big research essay.
  • The snow has finally all melted!!
  • We booked two trips in the last couple months. One is to a quaint town called Galena, IL where we are staying at a mansion-turned-B&B over spring break. The other trip is to Northern MI this summer: two days on Mackinac Island and three days on the Leelanau Peninsula-WINE country. We are actually staying AT a vineyard and I am so thrilled.
I hope to get to posting more. I have been trying to keep up with all your blogs, though I haven't commented as much as I would like. I should sign off now since dinner is almost ready. Yup, we're eating at 8:30 tonight. It's been a busy day.

I hate posting without a pic, so here is a pic from our hike today: