July 27, 2015

Argument Writing Unit- NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Hello fellow bloggers!

I finally put up my Argument Writing Unit onto TPT! I'm so excited to share this with you! :) It took a lot of work to create, and then another 2 hours to make a Unit Plan layout with directions for each day/each assignment. I'm hoping it's all worth it and that you guys love it! :)

I created this unit last summer when I realized that my students were not improving in their writing. I thought I was teaching writing well, and I would do tons of different forms of editing and teaching, but when I created this, I noticed my students held onto information better. Their writing improved over the course of the semester, and they had a good solid foundation.

I used this unit at the VERY BEGINNING OF THE YEAR. Normally I do my fun Animal Farm unit to start they ear off, but then their first essay wasn't great and that was a headache for me. So I changed it up and did writing first, and their Animal Farm essays were WAY better!!!

Anyway, people were asking for this unit, so here you go! Finally ;) Sorry about that :)

Here's a few pics to peak your interest ;)

These are the notes they take on the first day; I then have them make flashcards to prepare for the little quiz on argument writing terms :)

Notes they take later on regarding Rhetoric.

And finally a picture of the Unit Layout/lesson plans I created with student example pictures!

Well there you have it folks! The Argument Writing Unit is available now on my TPT Store and is a great way to start the school year off, or, use later on when you feel you need a writing refresher :) Enjoy!

July 26, 2015

Book Review: Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee

Hi everyone!

Well I finished Go Set A Watchman on Tuesday and have been hesitant to write a review for a few reasons: one-I don't want to give anything away; two-It's just my personal opinion...I'm not an official book reviewer.

But I'm going to do it anyway :) I'm not going to get into too many details because I don't want to give the story away if you haven't read it. But I will tell you the premise and how it kind of plays out and the message of the story.

Here we go!
Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee. 

Go Set A Watchman is based in Maycomb still [written in the 1950s], with Scout as a grown woman. She has come back home for a visit from New York, and finds herself surrounded by the same old town. We all know how much Scout respected and looked up to Atticus, who is now old and suffering from an illness, but this book will put all that to the test.

This book is set in the time period where African Americans were looking for advancement in the country and wanted to fight for equality. We all know from To Kill A Mockingbird that Atticus is one to fight for what's right. But what defines "what is right"? Is it what is right in your heart? Or what is right according to the country or what others think?

Again we find ourselves reading about a situation where a black man has accidentally killed a white man, and now the town is abuzz with discussions of what should be done. Of course, naive Scout believes that Atticus will help him and give him the best defense possible, because well, he's a human and all humans deserve the same treatment. Well Scout is disappointed to find that this is not necessarily the case in the South at this time.

Scout follows her father and her sort-of boyfriend [when she's home] to a meeting one day, and is overcome with anger by what she hears. She cannot believe what her father and Hank are a part of, and her world is shattered. She always thought of her father as a moral compass, someone she could look up to and believe in. This news sends her in a tailspin and there is only one person that can help her out of it, her uncle. He tries to make her see what is going on in the world and to make her think for herself; separate her from her father. She needs to be her own person, and even Atticus knows this. Eventually things are resolved, sort of. Atticus and Scout have reached a crossroads, but it seems to be ok as is in the end.

In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is set up as this moral compass, a hero for what is right, and in Go Set A Watchman, all of that is questioned. I didn't want to think of Atticus as anything but honorable; I liked that there was a good guy and someone to stand up for what was right. Some people have been commenting that in this book, we learn that Atticus is a racist. I'm going to stick my neck out there and say that maybe he's not...maybe he's a normal guy living in the South, and at the time, people had to do what people had to do.

If you read between the lines, it does seem that Atticus does know right from wrong still, and is maybe laying low until the time is right. This is not what we would expect from Atticus, and so that's why I think so many people are critical of his character in this novel. But if you look closely, Scout is now that moral compass...the watchman...and she is willing to fight. So Atticus passed on the good and she has become the one we can look up to. So at least there is good in the end.

Review by Stephanie Wolters

I do recommend reading this book, if anything to form your own opinion. Nothing will compare with TAKM, but I don't think that was the point of this novel, nor should it be compared. Take it for what it is, and look at it as a lesson; we need to learn from the past, so as to help shape the future.

Thanks for reading :)

July 24, 2015

Fun Friday!

Last day of the week-long linky :) Thanks for Freebielicious for once again hosting a fun linky!

Today's post is Fun Friday...what fun things do you do in the classroom?

I have two favorite fun activities I do during our units. The first comes with our Cry, The Beloved Country unit. A character in the book is given an unfair trial, and so as a class, we give him a real trial! We pick a defense team, a prosecution team, and witnesses. I act as the judge/jury.

Here is the direction sheet that I give them :)

The kids get REALLY into the trial. They have fun and learn at the same time...WIN!

The other fun activity I do is the Renaissance Faire. It is probably one of my favorite activities that we do, especially since I participated in them as a student too :)
It is sooooo much fun! The kids make booths, and games, and food. There's archery, sword-fighting, cornhole, and much more. Here's a few pics to check out: 

So many more pictures, but students' faces were in them and it's hard to cover those up without making them look so silly :/

Well I hope you enjoyed some of the fun things I do in the classroom...please feel free to comment with some of the fun things you do in your classroom!!

July 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday

I'm throwing it really far back! 8 years to be exact! Thanks again to Freebielicious for hosting another awesome post to link up to!

So like I said, I'm throwing it back 8 years, to the summer before I started my first teaching assignment. I was so excited to get my first classroom and decorate it :) My mom came the second day to help set up and take a few pictures :) 

My first assignment was 7th grade English...and it was awesome! I loved it, absolutely loved it. It was a great school, I met awesome coworkers, and made a lifelong friend that will be in my wedding this Oct!

So here are some fun pics from that first year:
Shakespeare welcoming the students in and asking them to turn off their cell phones ;)

I made some "cool" signs with the major parts of speech: Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb. I didn't have a lot of money, so I made a lot of stuff myself...but it still looked great! As you can also see, I divided a section of the board for the agenda everyday; I still do that today and it's a great way that the students can see what's going on for the week. 

I also made a cute little reading nook area, and put a list together of age-appropriate books they could read! They had to do silent reading once a week [if I remember correctly], so they could use the books in my little library, or they could use this list and go buy a book that looked interesting :) The little reading nook had a bookshelf and giant floor pillows. Two special kids a week could win/earn a chance to get to read on the pillows.

And there is my desk/corner area. I think I changed it and cleaned it up a little after that pic, but still gives you the general idea :)

Well I sure hope you enjoyed the little sneak peek into my first year classroom. Quite the Throwback :)

Hope you all have a great day!

July 22, 2015

Wonderful Idea...Wednesday

Blogging two days in a row?! What?  :)

I'm joining up with Freebielicious again for thier link up party for sharing some wonderful ideas!

While post of the people linking up are in elementary school, I'm hoping people will still check my post out because I think this idea could easily be adapted for elementary school too :)

With the beginning of the year coming up, I have a great idea to share. At the beginning of the year, most middle school and high school teachers spend the first day or two going over the syllabus and what not; mostly because we don't have time to spare.

Well I found that taking the first day to do introduction type games and "have fun" is a great way to build a rapport with the kids, that will allow for easier classroom management and better buy-in down the road.

So here is my Wonderful Idea [it's two actually, but who cares]:
Icebreakers that Middle School and High School kids will do [I've tested them]. My favorite is the Find Someone Who BINGO!
This guy is FREE over at my TPT Store, so here's the link!

It takes about 15 minutes by the time the kids fill out the squares and play the game until someone has BINGO. They get really into it, which is funny. When someone wins, I verify the choice with the name out-loud in front of the class, that way we all learn things too :) You could do a prize for the winner; I usually do a piece of candy :/ Bad teacher, I know ;)

I also have a ton of other wonderful Icebreakers activities in my Icebreakers Packet if you'd like more tried and true ideas :)

This candy introduction is pretty good too. A little slower-paced, they sit at their desk, but still "fun" because they get candy ;) I switched from M&Ms to skittles because it was hot last year and I didn't want the M&Ms to melt. But, you have less color options with skittles, so your call :) If you're short on time, each student can get 2 pieces of candy instead of 4 :)

So I hope you enjoyed my Wonderful Idea Wednesday and maybe use these in your classroom this year! [Another idea, it's fun to do another icebreaker at the beginning of second semester too, just to get everyone together again.]

Thanks for stopping by!

July 21, 2015

Tell Us About You Tuesday

Well hello everyone! As if I haven't told you enough about me lately, I'm joining up with Freebielicious to Tell you about me Tuesday :)

Where to begin?...
I was born and raised in San Diego, CA and am a recent transplant to Texas :) It's really hot right now [like 102 for the next straight week], so I'm not too happy about that since I'm used to 75* all the time. But I am excited to be in Texas, as I've always loved the southern feel and do enjoy country music [not a lot of people appreciate country music in CA].

Here's a pic of me this past spring when we came to the Stockyards while visiting TX to find a house.

I have been teaching for 7 years now. I've taught every grade I'm eligible to teach with my credential [taught 9 & 11 while student teaching]. I've been teaching 10th grade for the last 5 years, but started out in the junior high with the little ones. I am considering switching back to the middle school level now that I'm searching for a new job anyway. I'm looking for a little less stress in my life, if you've taught high school, you know what I mean by this.

For now, I'll be subbing this year as I try to get my TX credential, and since we are getting married in October and I'll need time off in Sept & Oct for that :)

More about Me:
I'm getting married in Oct! Yay! We're doing a fun and casual wedding with lawn games and hay bales :)
It's a lot of DIY, so I've been working really hard on getting everything ready :)

So that's it for now. I'm staying inside a lot lately, fixing up the house, trying to work on TPT stuff, and mostly avoiding the heat. :) Hope everyone is staying cool this summer! 

Hope you fill out one of these too so we can all get to know each other better :)

July 19, 2015

End of the TPT Seller Challenge

What a great month-long challenge. I wasn't able to do the 3rd and final challenge due to moving, but I still enjoyed it and found it quite helpful!

The point was to raise awareness for my blog and to get my name and products out there. Looking at my stats, I think that definitely happened :)

So thanks ladies for hosting this challenge to help us all become better TPT Sellers!

July 17, 2015

For your Home-FREEBIE

Hi everyone! As you know I've been trying to put my new home together and unpack and paint and all that good stuff.

Well we finally got the master bedroom pretty much set, and so we were able to move out the guest bedroom, making it available to actually be a guest bedroom. So I put the sheets and comforter and fun pillows on the bed, and then thought of something. Whenever I go stay at my sister's house, or anyone's place, I have to ask for the wi-fi network and password to connect to so I can preserve my minutes and small data plan.

So I made a cute little sign and framed it, then set it on the nightstand in the guest bedroom :)

Below that is the network to choose, and then below that is the password, plus another little design at the bottom of the print.

This is so cute and helpful, I thought I'd make a freebie for you too!
This will not be on my TPT Store because it's not school related, but it is FREE here!

July 13, 2015

I moved...so here's a house update!

Hello blogger friends! In case you didn't know, I moved last week to Texas and have been busy trying to unpack, paint, unpack, clean, unpack, and oh yeah, unpack.

I feel like between the two of us, we have a lot of things. I had a garage sale before I moved and got rid of a lot of "stuff", but now that I'm having to unpack everything, I still feel like I have a lot of things...sigh.

Well as you may have seen on one of my Facebook posts, our Master Bathroom was neon green. So that was priority numero uno. I am happy to report that it is no longer neon green :) It is now a very nice grey color ["Anonymous" by Behr to be exact], and I think it goes really well with the white crown molding :)
Since I took this pic, the fiance put up a white cabinet over the toilet area :) He's so handy!

I also spent the second day of Texas organizing the kitchen and pantry. I am pretty happy with how it turned out...I have a ton of baking supplies because with being gluten and dairy free, I cook most of my own food. In CA there were quite a few places I could eat out, but I haven't found a lot in TX yet :( But anyway, here's a pic of the pantry :)
When we first got the house, I thought the pantry was huge and that there was no way I'd fill it up...WRONG! Like I said, we have a lot of stuff :)

And last but not least on this little update, we have some beautiful trees in our backyard. When the fiance moved out here in May, it rained for 3 weeks straight so he didn't really go out back much. Then he was busy with work and had someone come mow the lawn and that was about it. We were talking one day and he said "I think we have some sort of fruit on one of the trees, maybe a lime or something", but he never actually went out and looked to confirm. So when I moved out here last week, I went out to the backyard and checked. We have an apple tree!!! With fully grown, delicious, "granny smith" type apples!!!!
 Those are from our tree people! Don't they look like what you'd buy in the store?!? Crazy :) We still have a ton more on the tree, but we'd need to get out the ladder to reach the rest.

So that's my update right now on my move and my new house. I haven't looked into getting my TX sub license yet, so if anyone from TX has any helpful hints, that would be great! 

Have a great week everyone!