Thursday, March 24, 2016

Stuff & Things: Daily Routine

Stuff, Things, etc.

Yesterday, Joey  published a post about mornings, and it included her routine.  I was inspired to write a post about what my regular daily routine looks like.

(Although, this is NOT my routine today, as I am on Easter break!)

6:00 A.M.  The alarm goes off on my phone.  I turn it off, turn on the local news on TV, and proceed to spend a half an hour checking my social media, email, and taking my turn in Yahtzee and/or Words with Friends.  (This time also often involves making a post on Facebook or Twitter about how bad I am at or how much I hate mornings....)

6:30 A.M. Pry myself out of bed to the bathroom to wash my face and put in my contacts.  Then I usually put on one of the shows on the DVR to "watch" while I do my make-up and hair and get dressed.

7:10 A.M.  This is NOT the ideal time.  I'd prefer it to be 7, but as I can't get out of bed until 6:30.... I go downstairs to make my breakfast protein shake.  (Although, last week, I made yummy, healthy banana nut muffins from The Balanced Life Sisterhood February Recipe Bundle to have each day.)

7:25 A.M. Out the door to drop my niece off at school and head to work.

8:00 ish A.M.  I usually arrive at school around 8 or a little after.  Our teacher report time is 8:10.  I get into the building, check my mail, go to my classroom, turn on my classroom lamps (I hate fluorescent lighting), and maneuver the desks back to where they're supposed to be.

8:10 A.M. Depending on the day, I either get to chill/work in my classroom until my students arrive, chat with my friend Kim who works in the building, go to rehearsal with the teacher's singing group I'm in, or attend a meeting.

8:30 A.M.-3:35 P.M.  Students arrive at 8:30, and from then on I am herding cats, so to speak.  I teach three 80 minute English Language Arts (Reading & Writing) classes each day.  Mixed in there is a 40 minute morning planning time, lunch, and at the end of the day a 30 minute enrichment/remediation period or activity period.

3:35 P.M.  Buses are gone (if we're lucky), and I hop in the car to head back home!

4:15 ish P.M.  Arrive at home and go inside to change for my workout.

4:30 P.M.-5:30 P.M.  Work Out (lately this has been walking on the treadmill and a #30DayPilatesBody routine

5:30 P.M. Make dinner

6:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. ??- The rest of my day depends on what needs to be done.  I've started trying to do at least one cleaning task each day.  Ideally, I would like to be in bed by 9, but more often, I am getting READY for bed at 9 including showering, Bible reading, etc.  Some days, I consider it lucky if I'm asleep by 10.

So  what's your daily routine look like??

Friday, March 18, 2016

Teacher Thoughts: Book Source

As a teacher, I have built quite a large collection of books for my students.  As a 6th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher, I feel that it is my duty to have a good selection of books for my students to read.

My first year of teaching 6th grade, I inherited a decent amount of books from previous teachers who retired and left books behind.  I added to this collection with books that I had as a child/teen and continued to build my library with my Scholastic Bonus Points.

Then I started to notice that books had gone missing.  Despite having what I thought was a check out system, it was truly impossible to tell who really did have my books.

Enter Book Source.

I wish I could say that I remembered how I came across this, but I don't.  All I know is that it has made a HUGE difference in how I track who has books from my classroom library.

The first thing that I did was download the app.  There is also a corresponding website, which is what I use most often in the classroom. 

Here's how I got things set up:

1.  I created an account when I downloaded the FREE app.

2.  I spent a great deal of time during my summer break entering books into my library.  
You can do this by scanning the EAN code on the book or manually entering ISBN numbers.  I had to use both methods.  I had books that were so old that they didn't even have ISBN numbers, so I just created listings myself.  I also had books that did not have a bar code or didn't have a bar code containing the ISBN, so I manually entered those, too.  I used the website to add any listings that I couldn't scan with my phone.  (I promise, that after the initial time commitment, it's not time consuming at all!)  As I get new books, I quickly scan them with the app and add them to the collection.

3.  Set up Login Information and Passwords for students.
Once I had the library set up, I created a classroom ID and password for both the students and I to login to the website.  From here, you also create a separate teacher password to access the teacher page to do things like manage students or the library.  I added the first name and last initial of all of the students that would come to my classroom this year and gave them all a general password.

Now, the set up was completed!  

During the first week of school, discussing my classroom library was on my list of introductory things to discuss with my students.  I have a poster hanging by the computers that goes through the steps of logging in and checking out books.

When a student picks out a book from my library, he goes to the website and logs in.  Then he clicks on the student tab, searches for his name, clicks on it, and searches for the book he has chosen.  Once he finds the book, he clicks "check out," and voila!  Book checked out.  I don't need to do anything.  I can pull up a list of students who have out books if I notice one is missing.

Students can return books on their own, but I prefer to be in control of that.  When a student finishes a book, they bring it to me to return.  I can scan it back in with the app on my phone or use the website.  I have a bin in my library for students to put the book back, and my classroom librarian will file it later.

I have it set so students can only check out 1 book at a time, and I know exactly who has it and how long it's been checked out!

As you can see, I have 740 titles in my library, and this has been a HUGE help!  

Teacher friends, do you have a system for managing your classroom library?

I was not approached by or compensated in any way by for this post.  All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Teacher Thoughts: Collins Writing (A Brief Overview)

It's been awhile since I wrote a Teacher Thoughts post!

Ironically, I'm avoiding grading tests and writing assignments in order to write this post.

But, I digress.

This year, I have had the privilege of attending some writing workshops with Dr. John Collins.  Not only is Dr. Collins an incredibly engaging speaker (he's HILARIOUS), his writing program is a teacher's dream.  Let me give you a brief run down:

Dr. Collin's has 5 Types of Writing.
Type 1- Quick, timed writing assignments

  • Students are required to write a specific number of items
  • The assignment is timed
  • Students earn participation points ONLY (in other words, it's not graded)
  • Responses can be correct or incorrect, participation is the key
  • Often  used to check understanding of topics covered in class

Type 2- Timed writing assignments; Quizzes

  • Similar to Type 1 in that they are timed
  • Can be a list or short writing assignment
  • GRADED- correct responses are the goal
Type 3- Longer Writing assignments using FCAs 
  • FCA stands for Focus Correction Area
  • Pick 3 FCAs on which students should focus their writing (On a recent comparison essay, my students had the following FCAs: Total of 10 similarities & differences, 4 paragraphs w/ paragraph components, Complete Sentences)
  • FCAs are each assigned a point value for grading 
  • Point values are determined by the teacher based on importance
  • Dr. Collins has each paper valued at a total of 100 points (Mine are usually 50-80.)
  • Students should read their own paper aloud in a 1 foot voice
Type 4- Same as type 3
  • The difference between Type 3 and Type 4 is that in Type 4, students get to have another student review their papers before handing in
  • Students should read partners' papers aloud in a 1 foot voice
  • Students should sign their names to their partners' papers after review
Type 5- "Perfect" Writing
  • These are pieces that are drafted, edited, and revised for publishing
I plan to get more in depth on Collins Writing in further installments of Teacher Thoughts.  I think that was enough for one post.

Fellow teachers, have you heard of/used Collins writing in your classroom?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Influester VoxBox: Filippo Berio Olive Oil

There are few things I love more than getting free stuff!

So as always, I was thrilled to be chosen for another Influenster VoxBox program.  This time, I was sent a mailer containing a coupon for a FREE 16 oz. bottle of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil or a Robusto flavor.

The mailer also included $2 off coupons for these two olive oil options, a butter to olive oil conversion chart magnet, a booklet with 101 ways to use olive oil, and a guide for hosting a tasting party.

Scott and I already use olive oil for all of our cooking/baking/frying needs.  We currently buy a large container of the Daily Chef brand when we shop at Sam's Club.  I was certainly willing to give another brand a try.

The first night I used this oil, I was making Quinoa Chili.  I used a tablespoon to saute some onions and garlic for the chili.

The bottle has a nice pour spout, I thought.  I didn't feel like I would accidentally dump it all over the place!  
When Scott and I make any kind of pasta, we always drizzle some olive oil over into the pot after dumping the pasta into the strainer.  Then we drizzle some more over the pasta and toss it to help it not to stick together.  I also gave this a try with Filippo Berio's Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

On Sunday, I made Kristin's Easy Pizza Dough Recipe, and this was the oil I used.  

I also used it to make some Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins for breakfast this week.  So far, everything has tasted great.

I can honestly say that I don't have any really knowledgeable, deep insight to share about this olive oil.  It doesn't really stand out, but it also doesn't seem to be different than the regular olive oil I use.  Both the regular Daily Chef Olive Oil and the Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil have the same nutritional facts, as well.  (I was always under the impression that EVOO was supposed to be healthier...?)  I also found that this brand is pretty expensive compared to the brand we usually purchase.  It was on sale when I bought mine, and it was still over $6 for a 16 oz. bottle.  If I didn't have a FREE coupon, I wouldn't have purchased it.  I may choose to use some of my $2 off coupons, but I will probably not buy it after that.

Have you ever used this brand of Olive Oil before?

I received this product free from Influenster and Filippo Berio.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February Books

AttachmentsAttachments by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was actually pretty disappointed with this book. I've LOVED the last two Rainbow Rowell books that I listened to on Audible, and this one just fell flat with me. I listened to it pretty quickly mostly because I just wanted to know what happens so I could move on. So I was interested enough in the story line, but I just didn't love this book. I guess I didn't hate it either, so there's that.

I didn't enjoy the narrator of this book. Since the majority of the actual story line was from the perspective of the male character, Lincoln, I think having a male narrator--at least for Lincoln's parts of the story would have made MUCH more sense. I also found the e-mail segments between Beth and Jennifer to be annoying at times. Perhaps, if I had read the book in print, it wouldn't have bothered me so much, but having a narrator constantly saying "Beth to Jennifer" or "Jennifer to Beth" after short one line emails got pretty irritating. It was like having someone read the script to a play while reading each character's name before speaking. While I also understand that this is fiction, I found the ending to be a bit ridiculous and far-fetched.

I did enjoy some of the interactions between characters in the book. The interactions between Beth and Jennifer actually reminded me of myself and a friend. I did have a few moments where I briefly laughed aloud at some of the things that the characters said and did, but ultimately, I didn't feel truly invested in them.

I went with three stars instead of two because I think some of my dislike of this book was due to it being the audio version, so I felt like it was a bit too harsh to go with two stars.

Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet TubmanFreedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am currently searching for a nonfiction novel to add to my 6th grade classroom repertoire for the coming school year. Freedom Train by Dorothy Sterling is the first book that I have read, and it is DEFINITELY a contender.

I enjoyed reading the story of Harriet Tubman. Of course, I have heard of Harriet and her role in helping slaves escape along the Underground Railroad, but there was so much about her that I didn't know! She played a major part in not only helping slaves escape but in the Civil War. I found this book to be incredibly interesting, and there are so many possibilities for making this an exciting and enriching experience for my students!

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I could, I would give this book 3.5 stars. I was torn between a 3- and 4-star rating on this one, and I think that 3.5 is EXACTLY how I feel about it.

I did enjoy this book, but I didn't love it. As I neared the end of the book, I became much more interested to know what happens to Werner and Marie-Laure, and I finished it very quickly. If you want a true World War II story, I don't know that this one really qualifies. It's more about what is taking place with each of these characters that happen to be living in Europe during WWII. I did like both of these characters and wanted to know how things would turn out for them.

One of the things I did not like was that the book jumped back and forth a lot. Not only are chapters switching between the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, but they are also jumping back from the present setting of the book (1944) and things that happened leading up to that point. Sometimes, I got confused and had to go back to find out what year I was reading about. I think I might have enjoyed it more with a more chronological telling of the story.

View all my reviews

What did  you read this month?

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