Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tips for Staying Fit This School Year

Working out everyday in the summer is easy. Working out everyday when you are exhausted and mentally drained from teaching 75 students a day...not so much. However, I've found that if I keep to a workout schedule during the school year, I'm soooooo much happier and more pleasant to be around than if I don't make time for it. Both my students and husband thank me.

1. Plan out your life. I'm totally a check mark kind of girl. It gives me so much pleasure to write out a plan, follow through, and put a checkmark on it! It doesn't matter what kind of planner you use, but it does matter that it has a designated space to plan out exercise and meals. Here is one I made for myself as a teacher author. I also made a simplified version for teacher fitnessistas. It's a very simple format, but the little exercise symbols are great for scheduling your workouts and sticking to them!

If you want something cuter and more detailed, I would suggest Simply Secondary's Line. She has a ton of pretty ones to choose from. Then of course there's also the designer planners ($$$) from  Erin Condren. It doesn't matter what you choose, but the idea is to make a place for your workouts to fit into your teacher life because if you don't, it's not going to happen.

2. Find accountability partners. Last year this teacher at my school volunteered to teach a zumba class after work each Wednesday. It was fun because we could act silly with other teachers, get in a workout, and hold each other accountable to show up. There's also tons of opportunities to sign up with teacher friends for benefit runs and walks. If you from a teacher team, you are more likely to train together and stay motivated.

3. Wear comfortable shoes to work. When I wear my heels, I find that I don't get in nearly as many steps. I still wear them, but only on days that I've had a full workout before work (see below). If need extra steps that day, I will wear comfortable shoes and find more opportunities to walk. I recommend Reebok's Skyscape Runaround and Toms (I'm trying to like Born Flats, but they are rubbing my heels right now...hoping to break them in).
4. Fit in moments of activity into your teaching day.
I plan to do a full post on this soon, but for now I will tell you that I love to sneak activity time into my teaching. I do literary yoga with my students, ball toss review games, and a lot of fun ideas from this list: Move, Energize, Learn .

4. Become a morning workerouter. I know that some of you are thinking, "yeah right," but hear me out. Even if you only got up 15 minutes earlier, that's a guaranteed 15 minute workout. You can make plans to do more later in the day, but if those plans don't happen because of teacher issues that arise (after school tutoring, too exhausted from the day, etc) then at least you got in 15 minutes that day. Plus, you will be amazed at how much energy and clarity am workouts give you before heading to teach all day.
Here are my tips for making a morning workout happen:

  • Name your alarm something motivational 

  • Lay out your workout clothes, teacher outfit, and school bag the night before. You will be pushed for time, so make sure everything is in order before bed. 

  • Have your workout planned and queued up. If you are running, have your playlist ready. If you are doing a video, have it ready to play (I love Crunch Yoga Pilates!). If you are doing a youtube video, find the one you like the night before and have it ready (I hate it when I'm ready to workout but end up not liking the youtube video I thought I would love...a total motivation killer).
  • Consider using essential oils for better sleep. I just turned into an essential oil fan recently, and I'm so thankful to have found this stuff! We put it in our humidifier every night as well as rub some on our chests. My husband was going from 2 nosebleeds a day to zero. I love it because it opens up my nose and helps me to breath more deeply, thus helping me fall into a deeper sleep. I got some for my very skeptical stepdad, and he's already asking for more! We use DoTerra's Breathe. Here's another guide for essential oils for better sleep: Link

Here's to a healthy and happy school year! Be sure to follow me for updates and teaching tips! 

Instagram: Bsbooklove
Twitter: Bsbooklove

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Club Questions for Serial

I was super late to the game on this one, but you know something is good when you and your husband look forward to a 4 hour drive back from Nashville and all post-trip dinners look like this. Serial is intriguing, smart, and captivating. It gives you a glimpse into the dark side high school life (life in general really-- high school age or not) and leaves you pondering the lives of those involved for DAYS. It has changed the way I think about memory, adolescent innocence, and our justice system.

Even though this isn't a book per say, I recommended it to my book club, and they were game. Since I couldn't find many out there, here are the book club discussion questions I have planned:

1. You have to start out with the huge question everyone wants to discuss: Who Killed Hae? For fun, here is a poll. Click on your vote!

2. What was the key piece of evidence that convinced you of your choice?

3. The narrator, Sarah Koenig says many times how Adnan "just doesn't seem like a murderer." Why do you think this is? What about Adnan makes Sarah want to believe he isn't a killer? What makes you trust or distrust him?

4. What are your thoughts on Jay? At times he is most certainly lying, but at other times parts of his story match the evidence. If Jay is lying, what do you think his motive is for doing so? If he's not lying, do you think he should have been sentenced for his involvement (confessing to knowing the plan and helping with the burial)?

5. How do memories, or the lack there of, play a role in this story? Why do you think some of the witnesses have clear visions of that day but others can't seem to remember anything? How has this story made you consider your own memory abilities?

6.  Do you think the role of race and religion play a major part in this mystery and case?

7.  Speaking of religion, was anyone shocked at hearing about the disconnect of religion in comparison with private high school life? For example, Adnan seems so nonchalant about drugs and sex but yet fasted and followed other strict religious practices. Do you think this is normal, or was the prosecution right in calling it a red flag in regards to Adnan's character?

8. How does the podcast style of Sarah Koenig contribute to the appeal of this mystery? What does she bring to this story that couldn't be conveyed in a written book?

9. What questions do you still have that you wished could have been answered? See here for 15 Questions Unanswered in the Serial Finale 

10. Some have criticized Serial for having unethical journalistic qualities. For example, the narrator uses traditional fiction tactics (cliffhangers, dialog, flashbacks, etc.) and becomes personally connected to this story and Adnan. This leaves Serial in a gray area of serious journalism, but yet its popularity has led to opportunities for Adnan's potential retrial that might not have otherwise happened. Does the format and popularity of Serial make you feel uncomfortable in regards to journalism and the jurisdiction system?

Want to join along in the discussion? I hope to do a Periscope on August 4, 2015 at 7ish pm EST. Or, leave a comment to give your thoughts!

Follow me on:
Periscope @Bsbooklove
Instagram@ Bsbooklove 

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Tools for Scaffolding Your First Lesson + Secondary ELA Blog Hop

Truth--I'm going into my 8th year of teaching, and I STILL get nervous butterflies in my gut when I think about those first two or three days of each new school year. Will this ever go away!!?? Or the better question might be: Do my students feel the same? Just like doing  policy reviews and professional development recaps a week before school starts seems to calm my nerves, I feel that students greatly benefit from a reviews and recaps in a scaffolding format those first few days as well. Here are my favorite scaffolding tools to help ease students into rigorous learning:

1. Using songs to review literary devices and grammar rules. I started using a song a week last year to do our daily grammar practice, and the students really loved it. For some reason songs seem less intimidating than scary grammar workbook sentences. All I did was pick out a song a week (with student input) and make a sentence out of the lyrics. Then, we took about 5 minutes a day to do grammar work with the sentence (label parts of speech, combining sentences, etc) and on Friday Fun Day we looked at a literary device and did our interpretation of the lyrics. For scaffolding purposes, this is a great warm up to do before adding in hard core grammar test questions that you will see on standardized tests. As a bonus, you can play the song to serve as a timer. When the song is finished, they grammar work should be finished also! 

2. Using children's books to teach literature concepts. I love, love, love scaffolding with children's books in the secondary classroom! Students appreciate the nostalgia, and it really helps when you are reviewing or introducing a new concept. For example, I love using The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss to teach satire. Here are some great lists for other concepts as well:

Books to Teach Literary Terms 

3. Using cartoons, picture book covers, or magazine covers to teach close reading. I really liked Making Meaning with Melissa's idea and example of using cartoons to scaffold close reading, so I updated this post to include yet another fantastic tool for scaffolding! 

4. Combining all of the above plus a short story and informational text to add rigor. Using all of the strategies above will ease students into their first real lesson, but if you can find a way to match themes in a song, children's book, short story, and informational text, then you will have a highly dynamic lesson. For instance with my Comparison of "Lamb to the Slaughter" and Revolting Rhymes "Little Red Riding Hood" both by Roald Dahl, I have students close read an easy children's text then apply those same skills to the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" which has a similar theme as Dahl's take on "Little Red Riding Hood". Then, I up the scaffold one more time by adding in an informational text. By using easy, medium, and high level texts, students feel more and more comfortable with each step on the ladder of learning. 

For a concrete example of how I match themes, check out this Prezi I made which serves as precursor to the lesson above. I play on the theme of "Little Red Riding Hood" and use 3 interpretations of the story (fairy tale, song, poem) before tying it into the "Lamb to the Slaughter" short story and informational text comparison. 

For a chance to win this complete lesson as well as 11 other amazing lessons and a $25 TpT gift card, be sure to enter this giveaway and visit the other blogs in this hop!!! You only need to enter the giveaway once even though you will see it on other blog posts as well. Good luck! 

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Please hop on over to read all about first lessons from the other bloggers!

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Periscope Ideas for the Secondary Classroom

You guys. I just came back from the largest educational technology conference in the U.S., and though I gained tons of inspiration and new ideas, none of them match the tool I found last night from the comfort of my nightly Instagram browsing location (a far less exciting place than Philly, but just as productive ;) ). I haven't been this pumped over a new technology tool in a very long time--hence writing this post less than 8 hours after finding it. Do it right now, don't hesitate--go download Periscope to see what all my excitement is about!

As soon as I watched a live video from some teachers at the TpT Vegas conference last night, my mind started racing as to how I plan to use this AMAZING tool in my classroom this year.

What it is: 
Periscope is video conferencing app that allows users to comment as videos are playing live. You can "give hearts" to show that you like it, or you can ask questions or make comments. The person shooting the video will get these questions and comments in real time and have the opportunity to address them.  Once the live video ends, the presentation is stored for 24 hours (comments and all) so that others can watch it at their leisure. You can sign up for it using your Twitter account which most students have anyway.

Here is a screenshot of the first Periscope I watched: 

Look up Luckylittlelearners and Schroedershenanigansin2nd to see how they are using Periscope! 

Ideas for the secondary classroom: 

1. The Fishbowl Strategy on Steroids-Most teachers use or know about the fishbowl strategy where you take a group of students and place them in the "bowl" to discuss a topic. The observers sit outside the "bowl" and make observations about the discussion either by taking notes or actively listening.  With Periscope, you can take this strategy to a whole new level. Either the teacher or a designated facilitator in the fishbowl can film the discussion while students on the outside can comment and ask questions without interrupting the natural path of the discussion. Then, when the discussion comes to a pause, the facilitator can read the comments and questions to help the discussion go deeper or take another path. As an added bonus, this video can be viewed later for a recap or for students who were absent. Not only will Periscope add a new level to a traditional strategy, but it will help the students on the outside of the bowl to be active participants!

2. Feedback on Presentations- Common core loves to stress listening and speaking skills. Periscope can be a tool for students to give meaningful feedback during presentations. First however, the teacher must set the expectation of appropriate feedback. Periscope shows user names, so students (and teachers) will know who is making the comment. This *should* cut back on any inappropriate or hurtful comments, but setting expectations and consequences before trying this is a must to ensure students learn how to be digitally responsible and kind. That said, the point of this activity is to give helpful feedback.Not all comments should be "great job! hearts!!!"--some should be "Your information is great, but I'm having trouble hearing you in the back."

3.  Review Games- I'm constantly looking for ways to make test prep fun....well, as fun as it can be. I'm going to use Periscope for a game called "Quick Draw Questions." The idea is to put students in teams and make sure each team leader has the Periscope app (or you can do individuals if EVERY person has the app like in a 1-1 school). Then, I will take my review live and put the phone under the doccam so that students can see it too. I will ask the questions and first team to send in the answer (that will show up on the live feed) gets x amount of points. The winner(s) get either bonus points or a prize from my bucket of cheap toys. (You would be surprised how much 17-year-olds still love those cheap birthday party toys you can find in packs at Wal-Mart).

4. Lesson Recap for Differentiation- Sometimes, it helps students to be able to hear the important parts of a lesson just one more time. If I can take two minutes to review the essential parts of a lesson and post it Twitter, students would be able to access that video when they are home need to hear it again before doing their homework. To take this a step further...

4. Exit Tickets- Looking a the idea above, think about how POWERFUL it would be to do my 2 minute recap at the end of class and have students post questions and comments as their exit ticket!! Then, not only could students watch my review later that day, but they could see how other's questions were answered as well! How exciting is this!!??

5. Brainstorming Session/Group Project or Discussion Facilitator- All of the ideas above have mostly been teacher centered with students actively involved. However, once students get comfortable using this app, they will want to have more control. I envision Periscope being used as a way to monitor group discussions without being directly involved. There are many activities I do where my students need to group together outside of my room. What if I could listen in on and add to their discussions without actually being there?? What if I really could be in two places at once?? What if there really was enough of me to go around?? The potential of this app has me fired up ya'll!!!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see updates on how I'm implementing these ideas in real life! I'm going to be going live on Periscope today to talk about these ideas with a few teachers who want to see how the app works!

My Periscope username is BsBookLove
Instagram: Bsbooklove
Twitter: Bsbooklove