November 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday with a Giveaway, Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

1. To start this week, I am thankful for my DVR. It's such a simple thing, but it really does make a huge difference. I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I sat through a commercial, which is why I almost never know what movies are playing these days. I love that I can go out and live my life, and my shows will all be waiting for me to watch at my convenience. I guess I can extend this thanks to include Netflix and Hulu Plus, which have made this even better (especially with series like OITNB). Right now, I have a backlog of primetime shows and movies I can't wait to watch over break while I'm snuggled in my pajamas because I don't have to work!

2. I'm a casual girl. It's not that I don't enjoy dressing up from time to time, but my happy place is in a pair of jeans (even better is a pair of yoga pants or leggings) and a hoodie. I'm not sure what it is about being able to dress down, but everyone always seems more relaxed and pleasant on these days. When I worked in Corporate America, our new CEO announced that our casual summer policy didn't need to end, and people were literally dancing and cheering in their cubicles! One of the nice things about being a substitute is that I can pretty much show up in jeans every day (but don't worry, I only really dress down on Fridays with my school shirt). Especially in cold weather, this brings a smile to my face!

3. I'm thankful for my sister, who celebrated a milestone birthday this past weekend, which officially makes her the oldest sibling now because I will forever be 29 years old. She had a cute idea to celebrate with a bunch of her friends (as well as our mom and me) at a local nail salon. We had a few bottles of wine and some snacks, and it made for a fantastic way to celebrate her day! I'm amazed that I've never thought to do this type of celebration for myself, as it's nearly impossible to get my friends together for an evening because they all have kids. Seriously... plan on a trip to the nail salon in March, friends!

I feel very fortunate to have Amy as my sister. We are, I think, a good mix of "OMG we're like the same person!" and "How is it possible that we come from the same family?!" I'm happy that she's finally in a career that she loves (nursing) because it's so fun to see her thrive. I'm proud to call her my sister and friend. xoxo

4. I feel like this is a given (like friends and family), but I can't imagine not saying so specifically. I am so thankful for my amazing students. Whenever I walk through the hallways, I'm bombarded by students in all grade levels with the question, "Who are you subbing for today?" My response is always followed by cheers when they learn they'll be with me or groans when they realize they won't. I have to admit, it's a great feeling! We actually bumped into three of my students yesterday while leaving a restaurant, and the girls were SO excited to see me (despite the fact that I literally just saw all three of them yesterday) that I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. To be completely honest, it's probably equally exciting for me to see them! :)

5. Finally, I'm so thankful for this blogging community, which has introduced me to so many wonderful friends across the world! I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to connect with so many of you, and I think it's pretty awesome how some of you have become "crossover artists" and are now counted as my IRL friends (including some of you I have not actually met in person due to location). I genuinely enjoy connecting with you guys and look forward to reading about your personal lives and hearing your classroom stories. Thank you for making this such an amazing community!

To show my appreciation for you all, I want to do a little giveaway today. Each person who links up to today's Thankful Thursday post will be automatically entered to win my 40 page A Christmas Carol Novel Study Packet, which is full of activities to help your students master characterization and symbolism. This product is my best seller in my TPT store, and this is your opportunity to get it for free! All you have to do is link up with your Thankful Thursday post! It's a perfect unit for those few weeks in December, and I've included everything you'll need to teach the novel from leveled vocabulary lists and activities, formative and summative assessments with answer keys, characterization and symbolism guides, and everything you need to help your students write an accompanying expository essay. Check out the Table of Contents for all the goodies that are included:

The winner will be selected using on Sunday evening after the linky closes. 

November 24, 2014

Bears Victory Freebie

I have to admit, since this has been a rough season for my bears, I haven't been good about having my freebies ready to go in case of a win. I'll keep this one live for at least 24 hours so you have time to pick it up! Please let me know if you have any issues with the download!
This Daily Research Log was such a lifesaver for me. Each year, I do at least one big research project, which requires independent work in our school library. As you all know, it's very easy to get caught up in assisting a handful of needy kids and never quite make it all the way around your class. This has left me with a few issues I needed to address:
  • I wanted to make sure my students were making progress in their research and not just looking busy when they weren't really doing much. It's incredible how skilled some students are in this area!
  • I wanted increased communication with parents about what their children are doing in my classroom. Yes, this gives them accountability because they have to share their findings, but it also gives parents a heads-up that the paper or project is on the horizon. This eliminates the element of surprise and lets them see the daily progress (or lack thereof).
  • I wanted to hold my students accountable for their behavior in the library. There's nothing worse than taking your students out in "public" and watching them forget all your behavior expectations, making you look as if you lack classroom management. I solve this with daily points, which can be removed for off-task behavior. I find that having these points on a paper, where I can physically cross off a number, serves as a great reminder to stay focused.
Using this log puts the responsibility on my students. If they can't tell you what they've done productively for the day, then they aren't using their time wisely (or they need to ask for help). It also gave me a quick way to assure that I am at least checking in with each student (because I have to initial each day). 

I left the file in a Word document in case you need to modify it for your needs. I hope you like it!

IMWAYR: Yes, Please!

Happy Thanksgiving week! DEVOLSON (for those that aren't teachers, this is the Dark Evil Vortex Of Late September, October, and November) is nearly done. After a good dose (or two) of turkey this week, we should all be in better spirits as we move forward. To be honest, I haven't felt the effects of DEVOLSON much this year, but I can see the toll it's taking on my co-workers.

Since it's Monday, and since my classes are busy watching Pixar short films this week (looking for principals and elements of art in animation), I have time to share with you my latest read: Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

I recently joined Goodreads because I wanted a place to record the books I've read, what I want to read, and to get suggestions of other books I might enjoy. If you're a user, I'd love for us to become friends so I can check out your bookshelves too!

When I signed up, I had to pick a favorite genre. I honestly hadn't ever given that too much thought, but it didn't take long for me to determine that I really enjoy a good memoir. I especially enjoy reading books by funny women. Here have been some of my favorites:

Kathy Griffin
Ellen Degeneres
Chelsea Handler
Tina Fey
Kristin Chenoweth
Jane Lynch
Jen Lancaster
Tori Spelling
Mindy Kaling

Amy Poehler's book Yes, Please falls easily into line with these other women. I find her to be very relatable while still very entertaining. I want to be her friend. In fact, when I read that her college roommate was a girl named Erin from Chicago, I hoped I could pretend that was me. Just don't mind our age difference! :)

This memoir isn't meant to be fully of belly laughs as much as it's an honest account of her life. She discusses her childhood, relationships, career, and all the successes and failures that have brought her to where she is today. I really enjoyed this book!

Of course, not all the memoirs I enjoy are by funny women. I like reading first-hand accounts of things I've learned about in the news or experiences I will (hopefully) never understand. Some of the other memoirs I've enjoyed include:

Amanda Knox
Sharon Rocha (Laci Peterson's mom)
Lance Armstrong
Nujood Ali
Mitch Albom
Dave Pelzer
John Grogan
John Howard Griffin
Todd Burpo
Cupcake Brown
Anne Frank
Jennifer Traig
Piper Kerman

I believe that reading (or listening, as the case may be) the stories of others helps us strengthen our empathy. It gives us the opportunity to see the world through someone else's eyes, which hopefully helps us become more compassionate about the struggles of those who aren't like us.

I think this is important for all ages, but I especially think it's important for our middle and high school students to learn that everyone will not share their same experiences and opinions. And there are some great lessons to be learned along the way, even from these funny books!
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