Thursday, July 7, 2011


As the end of summer is starting to peek over the horizon, I'm thinking it's about time to get my butt in gear and get started with the lesson planning. Don't get me wrong. I have been thinking about the coming school year. A lot. However, I haven't actually sat down and started to come up with any concrete ideas. I've been enjoying summer and focusing on my photography business. However, it is really time to kick it into gear now.

My first step was to print out all of my standards and curriculum. I'm a fan of planning backwards. If you start with what you HAVE to cover, you are sure you've done your job. Then it becomes about HOW you are going to cover it to make it meaningful, relevant, and engaging. In my opinion, this is the most important part.

So I've got my game plan down. Yet, it's hard to find a good starting place. Looking at all of the standards and curriculum makes my head spin. I only have how many days to cover all of this?! It reminds me of one of the many frustrations I've heard regarding the teaching profession....there is too much to cover and not enough time to cover it. So this leads me to my next opinion. It's better to cover less, thoroughly then it is to cover more but only scrape the surface. Quality vs. quantity.

There are two things that I am certain I will be implementing in my classroom. First, my students will begin each day with a daily writing prompt. If they don't like the prompt, they can write about something else. The key is that they must be writing daily. Second, every Friday will be dedicated to recreational reading. My students will spend the majority of the class reading, but we will end with book talks. Each student will be assigned a Friday to present one of the books they've been reading through a book talk.

Now that I have these thoughts written down, it'll be easier to stick to the game plan. Bottom line? It's time to plan.

P.S. Hope you all like the new blog layout. There is no resisting cute little owls :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

House Hunting

With it being summer, I have been neglecting to write. However, I've got something very exciting/scary/stressful going on that I thought would be great to blog about. Who said my teacher blog has to be just about teaching?! So here goes...

The hubs and I are currently house hunting. We didn't think we would buy for quite awhile yet, but our 1,000 square foot duplex just isn't cutting it. Although it is very nice, there just isn't enough space, and it doesn't feel like ours. It feels like we are borrowing it...which we essentially are. But I want a place that is mine! Sound greedy, don't I?!

We started the search off a couple of months ago when we looked at an acreage on the edge of town. The outside was beautiful. It was a gorgeous 2-story white house with an awesome wrap-around porch. However, the inside left a lot to be desired. And the price tag was not very pleasant for such a project house. Then about a week ago, I noticed a house in a neighboring town that looked pretty darn cute. So we decided to give it a look. The house is beautiful inside and out. It is fairly new (built in 2001) and is move-in ready. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, with a full unfinished basement, so there is potential to turn it into exactly what we want it to be. The house is a little pricier, but like I said, it's move-in ready.

After viewing that house, the realtor suggested we take a look at an older, 2-story home in town that had just been placed onto the market. The house was immaculate for being 110 years old. The yard was beautiful. The basement was finished, so the space in the house was pretty much maximized. The only downside was it needed new doors, a new kitchen, and new appliances. And the price tag didn't reflect that. Two days later, the house was sold. Good thing we didn't like it very much...

Fast forward a couple of days and I was scouring the internet when I came across another cute little ranch home in the neighboring town. The home looked very similar to the other we had viewed, but it's price tag was much smaller. I was curious why, so we scheduled a showing. As soon as we walked in, it was evident why there was such a price gap between the two homes. This home, although in fairly good condition, was built very cheaply. The walls are not even drywall. They are some sort of composite board that is pieced together. The "partly finished" basement was slabs of mismatched carpet thrown down. It really wasn't finished at all. Seemed like a little bit of false advertising to me.

After seeing the second ranch home, the realtor suggested we look at another home he had listed. This would be house #6 for us. I know I skipped a house, but house #2 isn't even worth talking about. It was completely uninhabitable. Someone with more money and time than us can take on that project if they wish. It definitely wasn't meant for us. So anyway, back to house #6. It is a cute, 2-story older home. It has been well taken care of, and the previous owners started to remodel it, but didn't finish. It still needs a new kitchen, and the basement seems as though it may have some water issues. At the price point, however, it is the best house we have seen so far. However, it's still not THE one.

That brings me back to house #3, the ranch in the neighboring town. I am in love with it. It's adorable, has new appliances, a wonderful fenced-in backyard with a great deck for entertaining, and it's move-in ready. It needs slight cosmetic carpet in two of the bedrooms and some new paint in a couple rooms to cover up some scuffs. However, it is a higher price tag than we originally wanted. But everything we need is there. It's such a tough place to be in. Part of me wants to wait on it....see if they drop the price at all and save some more money. The other part of me, however, wants to jump on it before someone else can!

Then there is the hubby. I think he has cold feet. One minute he's all for it, the next he wants to stay put. I understand where he is coming from, though. A house is the biggest purchase one ever makes. It's a huge decision. I know that I'm just an impatient person. I should probably work on that...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

English Companion Ning

If you are a language arts teacher and you haven't visited English Companion Ning yet, you have to check it out!! It is an amazing FREE resource. The Ning is an online community of English teachers helping each other with everything from lesson plan ideas to classroom management issues. I have gained so much valuable information from it. Teaching a new novel and not sure where to start? Check out the Ning! Surely there is another English teacher out there who is teaching the same thing as you.

There is a link on the left hand side of my blog so you can access it anytime or visit it at English Companion Ning. Enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last Days

I can't describe what I'm feeling right now. It's a mix of so many emotions. Sadness to be leaving the students that I've fostered relationships with, excitement to be graduating from college, anticipation to start preparing for my own classroom in the fall. 3 days all went so fast. It's amazing how much has changed. From those first days where I was unsure of what I was getting myself into...until now as I spend my days scouring the Internet and books for lesson ideas for my new classes.

This morning I got quite the surprise. One of my students gave me a May Day basket and a photo of herself so that I will be able to remember her. It's moments like these that remind me why I became a teacher. This act of kindness tells me that I made an impact on this student. Honestly, it almost made me cry. This is why I became a impact the lives of students.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Anticipation Guides

I like to use anticipation guides prior to beginning a novel or play. The anticipation guide consists of a series of statements for the students to consider, then they must mark whether they agree or disagree with each given statement. The students then choose three statements they felt especially strongly about, and they write a short explanation of why they answered the way they did (typically a paragraph each). Finally, we go through each statement raising hands for agreement and disagreement. On each question, I ask students who felt strongly about a statement to share their response, and it often leads into a short discussion, and sometimes debate, over the topic. I have the students fill these sheets out prior to reading and again after reading. After they read, they are supposed to reevaluate the statements using the new knowledge and perspectives they have gained through the reading.

I really enjoy using these anticipation guides as it exposes the students to many themes they will see in the book. It gets them thinking about the book before they even crack it open. Typically the first session of the anticipation guide goes very well. We usually have some great discussions. However, the final session where they fill out their answers after reading the book, doesn't go so well. I notice that the students typically just leave their answers the same. It seems they aren't applying their new knowledge, which is the ultimate goal of this activity. Any ideas of how to get them hooked into delving deeper into the final product?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


My mind is overflowing with ideas to implement in my classroom next year. That's right...I got a job! I'm so excited to be given such a wonderful opportunity. I will be teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th English and 8th Reading. I can't wait to get started! As the days creep by, I'm finding it harder and harder not to think about my classroom. It's always on my mind! I've already purchased a bunch of stuff for it, too...and I haven't even seen it yet!

Out of the zillions of ideas floating around in my head, there are two that I am pretty sure I will implement. First, I want my students writing everyday. My plan is to have a daily writing prompt on the board each day as they walk in the door. They will write for the first five minutes of every class. If they don't like the prompt, they don't have to write about it. They can write about anything, so long as they are writing. I will read the entries each Friday. It'll be a little time consuming, but it's a good way to get the students writing, while also getting to know them better. Plus, bellwork is a good classroom management tool.

Second, I plan on implementing a day dedicated to recreational reading. I think recreational reading is so important. It is what fosters a love for reading. There is so much wonderful young adult literature out there. I'm pretty sure it will be Friday as it's the end of the week, and it will be a nice break for the students (and myself!). However, the entire period won't be dedicated just to reading. We will also do book talks! I love book talks. They're such a fresh idea. So much better than a typical book report. They're active and engaging. So my plan is to start the period with the writing bellwork, move into a couple of book talks, then silent reading, and finally a book response.

Well, the hubby just finished dinner. More on my ideas later :) If you have any ideas to contribute, please feel free!!