September 29, 2013

New Book!

My gosh it's been a week since I've posted. I've been so exhausted and going to bed before 9pm every night. A little sad and depressing for a single gal ;) Oh well! I did get a chance to finish up all my lesson plans for the NEW BOOK I'll be teaching this year!!!!!! So excited :)

Cry, The Beloved Country is the new book I'll be teaching this year. "They" actually recommend it as one of the books to read for the Common Core 10th grade English plans. I decided to really get everything ready for Common Core this year, and so I've brought in this book a year early to check it out and make sure I'm meeting Common Core standards with it. The book [see pic below] had a few lesson plan ideas, but I came up with the rest myself and I'm really proud of it.
You can find this book at Barnes and Noble.

So I've created a great unit for Cry, which includes using informational text--something big in CC. 
My unit has so many elements!!! Head on over to my TPT Store to check it out.

This 5 week unit plan follows Common Core Standards while helping students learn to analyze both fiction and informational texts.
Unit Contains:
-­‐5 weeks of lesson plans
-­‐Introductory Webquest Project
-­‐Classwork including reading/analyzing informational texts
--Trial for Absalom activity
-­‐Writing prompts
-­‐2 Quizzes and Answer Keys
-­‐Final Exam and Answer Key
[Common Core standards listed on assignments]

Both Word documents [editable] and PDF versions available. It's a 35 page unit; the 69 includes the PDF and Word versions.
Here's a preview:

I think putting Absalom on trial will be my favorite activity!

Hope you have another fabulous week! And a special shout out to the gal that already purchased this unit and said "It was very well done". THANK YOU for the support!!!!!!! :)

September 21, 2013

Literature Circle Packets-Common Core Aligned

I love mixing up the way we read novels. I get tired of teaching the same thing 4 times a day, 2 times a year [we have accelerated semesters], so I like to mix it up a little.

I especially like doing this with our Holocaust Unit. There are so many wonderfully haunting stories of the Holocaust, it's hard to pick just one to teach. So last year I decided to teach the unit with Literature Circles. I'm sure you all know what they are. I let the students pick between Night and The Diary of Anne Frank. There were only two book choices because those were the two books our school owned copies of already, and we didn't want to spend more money on books :/ But those are great accounts of the Holocaust, so it's ok.

I had found a Lit Circle packet online and just used that. But I didn't really like how the discussions were turning out, and the kids weren't really learning a whole bunch.

So this year, I've made my own! Should have done that in the first place. This packet is Common Core Aligned though, so I'm glad I didn't make one last year. It covers:

Reading Literature Standards-9-10.1 Cite Textual Evidence, 9-10.2 Determine a Theme, 9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text
Speaking & Listening Standard- 9-10.1 Comprehension and Collaboration
Language Standard- 9-10.4 Vocabulary Acquisition 

I also created different roles that are more conducive to learning. The 6 Roles are:
-Discussion Director
-Theme Monitor/Connector
-Important Quotation Analyzer
-Literary Device Effectiveness Analyzer
-Vocabulary Builder

There's a PDF and Word version available for this packet at my TPT Store. Hope you find it helpful!

September 19, 2013

Lock-down Drill....FAIL

So we had a planned lock down drill today. Yeah.....kind of missed that. I knew it was coming and it I read the email carefully, and I even made sure my door was locked all day so that I didn't have to deal with that. Well, our school doesn't have a speaker system [I know], and so the security guys walk around to the rooms and say "Lock Down" and then we know it's happening. WELL since my door was already locked, they didn't tell me it was happening, so I just kept on playing Jeopardy review with my kids as they yelled out answers and laughed.

Then all of the sudden someone was unlocking my door and saying, "Lock down clear. Please evacuate". Shoot! I would have kept my kids super quiet and respectful had I known. So we did evacuate in a quiet, straight, single-file line to the designated spot. At least I did that part correctly!

September 17, 2013

Gifts from the Giving Tree!!! Wow!

So, many of you may have seen that I posted a "Giving Tree" on my door at Back to School Night. The response has been incredible!!!! I have received countless boxes of Kleenex [I NEVER have enough and somehow the school always runs out :/], tons of candy for prizes, 2 electric pencil sharpeners, Expo Markers, INK for my printer!!!!!!!!!!!!!, Granola bars for the kids [I made an emergency kit], and STARBUCKS CARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh I'm so overwhelmed!

I decided to use the granola bars, and a bag of candy, in an 'Emergency Student Food' kit. This kit could be for students who have diabetes, or, heaven forbid, a lock down. I have enough food for each student to have 2 granola bars and a couple of pieces of candy.

I am going to add a few water bottles too, but that is just what parents have given me.

And then here is my haul so far! And I say so far because I know I will be getting more as the weeks go on.

So much Ink, I'm so excited!!!!! 

I also received the coveted, the amazing, Starbucks cards!!!!!!!!

I hope that your Back to School Night yields the same haul!!!!!

And if you haven't had yours yet, here is the link to my Giving Tree gift tags  on my TPT store :)

September 15, 2013

Procrastinating Grading by Baking....

It's a disease.'s the end of week 3 and I'm already procrastinating grading. But the baking is so productive for my work week too! I made homemade, gluten-free, dairy-free, blueberry muffins! Now I can have my banana in the morning, and then bring the muffin with me to work as my 2nd breakfast before school starts :)

I also made gluten-free chocolate cupcakes for desserts this week. I've tried fighting the need for dessert, but every night it creeps up again; so I might as well be prepared ;) And if I were to go to the gluten free bakery and buy half a dozen cupcakes, it would still cost almost double what it cost me to make a dozen here at home. Sigh....the price of gluten free food is ridiculous! Oh well :)

So now I don't really have any excuses to not grade anymore :/ I just really don't want to. It takes so much time to write all the comments on the papers...but I really need to do that this first go around so they can start improving right away. I like to return mini papers [An Intro, Body, and Conclusion] within a few days, and they turned them in Thursday...I have to get them back to them first day back this week. I just get so distracted at my house by TV, crafts, magazines, etc. And at Starbucks I get distracted by people-watching... SO FUN! But I know I CAN DO IT!!!!!!

Where do you guys like to go to grade if not at home? I'd love any suggestions! :) Thanks!

September 10, 2013

New Blog Buttons

Thanks Erin over at Creating & Designing for adding my Facebook button! She created my blog design and I love it, so of course now that I have a Facebook button I asked her to add that. She also redesigned my TPT and Pinterest buttons so that they all match :) Thanks girl!

If you want a fabulous design, head on over to her page and check out her work!!!

September 9, 2013

B2S Night [Morning??] A Success!!

Well Back to School Morning was a great success!!!!

Our school is small and since we are a public charter, we don't technically have district boundaries. So we have kids from 20-40 miles away, and thus have never really done a Back to School night because some of them live so far away that traveling to pick up the kids and then come back at night would be too much.

Our school is also unique in that Mondays are home-school day and the kids just check online for the assignment for the day. So we decided to have our Back to School Morning option. The teachers had been saying how we really wanted to have a Back to School night because we want that face to face; so this was our solution.

My classes are small [don't hate me :/], about 25 total. I had an average of 10 parents per class show up. I thought that was great for our first attempt, being in the morning [hello...people work], and for only 2 weeks notice.  I had such a great time preparing for it, and the parents that came said it was great and that they're excited for the school year.

So here's what I did:

I made a little welcome chalkboard sign using those cool chalkboard pens-AWESOME!!!

The two handouts were: a handout about me, my info, and my goals for the year. The second was the Renaissance parent volunteer handout [thought I'd give them 2 months heads up in case they need to plan or anything].

Last Friday I had my TA call around to different Starbucks and ask if any of them would be willing to donate coffee for the event-woo hoo! Just had to give them a little 'donation' letter with our Tax ID # on it and I got 2 free carriers :)  I also made blueberry muffins and gluten-free, dairy free pumpkin scones that turned out tasting EXACTLY like the ones at Starbucks. Those puppies went quickly. Here's the link to the recipe on my Pinterest:
To make them gluten free I just replaced the flour with regular g-free flour, and instead of half and half I used Coconut Cream [basically coconut milk cream].

Lastly, I created a giving tree on my door with a list of things the parents could purchase to donate to the classroom. I only had about 6 things left when the morning was over! Woo hoo!!! Here's the link to these Giving Tree items with Thank You cards on my TPT.
The red apples have the items typed in them :)

To showcase my fab outfit [lol]...I got this great flow-y top from Target yesterday, wore a black cami under it, black skinny jeans, but not too skinny to be inappropriate, and black pumps, and leopard print earrings. And of course I have my Starbucks :)

Overall, a great success!!!

September 8, 2013

Renaissance Faire/Shakespeare Unit

I LOVE Shakespeare!!!! I love teaching it...and I LOVE the clothing from the time period. I remember doing one in 8th grade when we read Merchant of Venice, and in 9th grade for our Romeo & Juliet unit. I loved it. My mom made my costume, and my sister's when she had her's, and my group made hot cross buns.

Talk about a throw back, here's a pic of me in 8th grade at our Renaissance Faire next to our Hot Cross Buns booth. [I'm in the back row, on your right]

In past years, I've only had 2ish weeks to get through my Shakespeare unit with the kids, but this year, due to changing a novel out, I've got 3!!! So I decided to do a fun introduction activity that the kids will never forget:)

This unit has so much! 
-Lesson plans
-Direction sheet [with rubric]
-Parent Volunteer flyer
-Shield outlines for the boys to make shields to go with their cardboard swords
-A banner to cut out and hang
-And Renaissance-looking street signs

I'm so excited to try this out this year, and now you can too with the unit on TPT.
Click here to link to the Renaissance Faire unit on my TPT Store.

The parent handout flyer:

And one of the pieces of the banner:
A good day to you ;)

September 6, 2013

Bragging on my students :)

I am so proud!!! I have to take a moment to brag on my students from last year. I just got this in the mail...

Five of my students had their poems published!!!!!! 

I had a Found Poem assignment for my Black Boy unit, and they submitted those poems into this contest! I'm not sure how many kids submitted their poems, [I had offered it for extra credit] but these five were published! I am so beyond proud :) I just had to brag!!!

September 4, 2013

Teacher Devotional & September 'wreath'

It's September....Ahhhhhh! I've been really worried about going back to school with my health issues and keeping those under control. I've also been wanting to focus on starting each day off with some sort of goal.

I saw this book on Pinterest, and it seemed like it would cover both my worries- Morning Meetings with Jesus: 180 Devotionals for Teachers. I did the first 4 days and it's very helpful. Whether you're Christian or not, this book has some great anecdotes and verses that go with each day. You don't have to read the verse if you don't want to, you can just use the prayer as the goal for the day. I would definitely recommend this book to all teachers. 

Check it out on Amazon.

Secondly, I'm very crafty. All my friends and family tell me I need to have kids soon so I can do their birthday party and decorations and stuff....believe my guys....I'm trying on the whole kid thing! I just need a man first!! ;)

Anyway, I like to have a wreath on my door for every month of the year. Example...I have a St. Patrick's theme one for March, Easter one for April, 4th of July for....July! But I've never had one for August or September. I still don't have one for August, I think I'll make a flip flop and beach balls one for next year. But I just made my wreath for September! I LOVE it!!!!!!!!

I bought a little wooden 3 or 4" circle, Apple chipboards for $.29 @ Michaels, 20 rulers [$.25/1 @ Target], Crayons @ Target, and Erasers @ Target. I had the little chalkboard from my housewarming party [$1.99 @ Michaels].

First I hot-glued 10 rulers on the circular, then the other 10 on top of those to cover up the spaces. I then hot-glued all the other decorations on the rulers. I took a sharpie and drew a 'W' on the wreath for my last name :)

I am in love with how it turned out!!!!! Happy September!

September 3, 2013

Facebook Page!!

I did it! I caved and created a Facebook page for my blog! I didn't want to have another thing to deal with, but when Jen over at Teaching Teens in the 21st Century told me that my Bloglovin could just link my posts to it...I was sold!

So head on over to:

And like my Facebook page! It will keep you up to date with blog posts, sales on my TPT store, new TPT products, and pics from school! Hope you enjoy and thanks in advance for the support!

September 2, 2013

September Currently...really? It's September?? Ahh!!!

I can not believe it's already September...where did the summer go? It's crazy!! Anyway, I am so excited to be linking up with Oh Boy Fourth Grade for this awesome currently. I always love what Farley comes up with! This September design is really cute :)
Listening: Currently listening to nothing which is really nice. Sometimes the mind just needs quiet.
Loving: I really needed this day off. The first week back with high schoolers is crazy and exhausting; I even took naps after school. And yesterday I ran around all day with my mom, so today is hopefully a relaxing day!
Thinking: I personally think I have some really good quality stuff on TPT. The problem is that there aren't as many high school teachers out there looking for stuff. I don't have all the cutesy things that you can have in elementary. I've tried Pinterest and my personal Facbook page...any other ideas??
Wanting: If I had all the money in the world, my classroom would look so awesome!!! I also wouldn't be constantly worrying about getting out of debt and so on. [Another reason why I decided to start selling items on TPT]
Needing: I just can not bring myself to grade this last class' work! I did all the others' bright and early Saturday morning, and I think I used up all my motivation ;)
LOVE FOR MYSELF: I need to stop dwelling on the things I have no control over, and start giving those things up to God. I have to focus on things that I can control, and that will make my life easier!!!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy September!!!