December 15, 2014

IMWAYR & New Product Release

This isn't an apology. I've done that too many times to count. I've come to accept that the consistency of my blogging ebbs and flows like everything else in life, and I'm not going to make excuses for the times when I'm away. It's just part of life.

Today is Monday, which means I get to tell you about some things I've been reading. First up is Brandi Glanville from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with her newest book, Drinking & Dating: PS Social Media is Ruining Romance. I hadn't realized that Brandi perviously wrote a book, but I don't think mattered much that I read this one first. And to be honest, I probably won't go back and read her first one. My honest opinion about her book is probably skewed by the fact that she is a TERRIBLE reader. This becomes painfully obvious in her audiobook when she constantly trips over her own words - well.... at least they're supposed to be her own words. I'm not sure why production didn't make her go back and re-read many sections of this book because it was painfully obvious that she used a ghost writer because the language didn't flow naturally off her tongue. I like Brandi on RHOBH, but I would not waste my time reading another one of her books.

On a much happier note, I also started reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars) and David Levithan (author of Every Day). I enjoyed both of these authors so much that I practically leapt for joy when I saw that they collaborated on this book. I was pretty much hooked on this book from the moment I reached Chapter 2. The book is written in alternating points of view, which I LOVE as a reader. Will Grayson and Will Grayson have very little in common except that they're both teenagers living in suburban Chicago (Yay! I love reading about places I know in real life!), but when they meet during a chance encounter in the city, their lives become very much entwined.

As I read through this book (I'm about halfway through it at this point), I keep finding awesome quotes I want to remember. Here are some of my favorites:

"You like someone who can't like you because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot."

“When things break, it's not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It's because a little piece gets lost - the two remaining ends couldn't fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.” 

“this is why we call people exes, I guess - because the paths that cross in the middle end up separating at the end. it's too easy to see an X as a cross-out. it's not, because there's no way to cross out something like that. the X is a diagram of two paths.” 

“he is both the source of my happiness and the one i want to share it with.” 

“By saying you don’t care if the world falls apart, in some small way you’re saying you want it to stay together, on your own terms.” 

See what I mean?  Good stuff!

OK.. so now that I've updated you on my reading. I have an announcement!

I think we're all aware of how terrible I am about posting new products in my TPT store. I haven't done this is MONTHS. But... some of you will be proud to see that I have, in fact, posted a new product today. It's my Poetry Anthology Unit, which I've been working on since... oh... last February. Obviously, I took some breaks in there, but this was much harder for me than I anticipated. I've had an internal debate about how much I should share regarding this unit. Each year I've taught it, I've tweaked it a little more, and while I love how this unit works for me, I have to remember that everyone has a different teaching style. I have to "let it go" just a bit and expect that every user will do the same with my product to make it work for him or her. 

If you're in the market for a great, student-centered project that will easily keep your students engaged for a month's time, I hope you will consider my poetry anthology. I have seen mothers reduced to tears upon receiving these anthologies as Mother's Day gifts, and I've watched students pour their hearts and souls into this writing. I can also tell you that I contacted several former students to get examples of their poems to share in this product, and ALL OF THEM still had their anthologies. The students I asked are now seniors in high school or in college, and they STILL HAVE THEIR ANTHOLOGIES! This makes me SO PROUD!

December 1, 2014

Currently, IMWAYR, & a Freebie

I cheated a little bit this week by combining Farley's Currently with my Monday reading link-ups because I wanted to tell you guys that I finally finished reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. You may recall that I "lost possession" of this novel a few weeks back when my two week deadline passed. One of the nice things about OverDrive is that it remembered where I left off when I re-downloaded the book (after sitting on the waiting list for a while, of course). I had to rush through the reading so I wouldn't lose it again, and I'm glad I had the chance to finish it. Of her three books, I would rank this second, Gone Girl first, and Sharp Object last. I did enjoy all three stories, though.

I'm loving that our favorite Christmas tradition continues, as Joel and I have already been out to visit the Larsen Family's Christmas Light Display twice this season. This year, like last year, they have two different hour-long shows on alternating nights, and they added a few Frozen songs, which I LOVED! There's something so magical about this display that makes me content to sit in my car forever and watch! For those that aren't fortunate enough to see this in person, I'm including a video... but if you want to come watch, I'll totally be your tour guide!

I don't know about you, but I can't stop thinking about the impact of this Ferguson case. I heard on NPR today that there is talk in the white house about adding body cameras to some 50,000 officers to hopefully curb some of the mistrust, and while I agree that it's a step in the right direction for accountability, I'm just not sure it's the answer we need. Our nation is one where outright racism is intolerable yet a systematic racism is strongly in place everywhere. I, for one, am grateful for the conversations that are happening across the country. I'm glad this makes people uncomfortable because it should. We need a major change!

I want more art projects! I already shared that I did a wine and painting night the other week with some friends, and I loved it! I'm really feeling crafty these days and welcome any suggestions you have. I have this thing about creating my own art to decorate my home, so if it's something I can actually hang on my walls, you get extra credit for your suggestion!

What I need more than anything else right now are ideas for inexpensive winter activities. Joel really likes to be out and about rather than sitting at home, and we're both kinda at a loss for cold-weather options, which isn't good since we have a long winter ahead of us! We don't have any kids to entertain, but we are on a very strict (like nonexistent) budget. Any ideas are welcome!

I will give away a freebie TODAY ONLY! I just updated my Vocabulary Cartoon Activity to include three new pages, and I'd love to share it with my readers! Just leave me a comment below with a suggestion of a winter activity and/or an art project I can tackle at home! Please make sure you're not a no-reply commentator so I can email you my product!

Happy December!

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. 
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