Tuesday, June 30, 2015

3 Things I'm Loving This Week

We are half-way through summer--closer to school starting back than ever. It's always a strange time--looking forward to school starting back but trying not to be consumed with plans for the fall, struggling to enjoy summer while the upcoming demands begin to loom larger. 

This week I'm pinning lots of ideas for my classroom. 

My list of things that I'm loving this week will give you an idea of what I've been up to lately (aka not much!)

This stuff smells SO good. I want to wash my hands all the time. I keep this in my kitchen and it motivates me to wash my hands after cracking eggs and handling chicken. Previously I would have just used the dawn.

OMG! After Whole30 I didn't think I would want a LaraBar again. I keep them around for emergency snacks but they definitely lost their luster...UNTIL I discovered this flavor. Sunday night we had a girls group and everyone brought dessert. I had this and it was just as satisfying without all the refined sugar!

I saw this Tervis while we were in Pigeon Forge. Adam agreed that I needed it so I ordered it as soon as I got home. The wonderful thing about ordering stuff MADE IN AMERICA is that, unlike my vacuum cleaner part that is still on the slow-boat from China, it arrives very quickly. I have been enjoying my Tervis for the past week--staying super hydrated. I especially love the straw lid.

I'd love to hear what you're loving this week!

Monday, June 22, 2015

3 Things I'm Loving this Week

1. Serial--the podcast
The podcast covers the story of a man who has served 15 years of his life sentence. Many, including the reporter, have begun to question his conviction. Each episode allows you to discover something new about the case along with her. We listened to all twelve episodes while on the road this weekend. Spoiler alert--the ending leaves a bit to be desired. I'm excited to begin listening to Undisclosed--the podcast, which follows the story as it continues to unfold.

2. Time with friends--whether a spontaneous trip to Sprouts with a friend or a girls weekend away, summer is the perfect time to spend time quality time with friends without all the stress of school and other plans getting in the way.

3. Crock-pot chocolate chip cookie bars--these are amazing! There is something about preparing something a few hours ahead of time that I love. I prefer to get most of my food prep done an hour or so before dinner and then all I have to do is put it in the oven, on the stove, etc. This recipe provides a way for me to make dessert ahead of time. It is also perfect because it keeps the cookies nice and warm should you need to transport them to a friends house for dinner. Food, Faith and Fitness did a great job on this one!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

3 Things That I'm Lovin' This Week

1. Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey
This girl is my new friend! I've laughed so much with her over the past two weeks as I've breezed through all the episodes in the archives while painting, cleaning, working out...These are great for those tasks you'd love to do with a friend but just don't have one handy at the moment!

At the end of every show she asks her guests "What are three things that you're loving right now??"...thus prompting this post :-)

2. Plantain Chips
Prior to paleo, I was a nacho expert. I judged restaurants, even non-Mexican ones, on their nachos. Jim N' Nicks for example...fantastic! However, I've been left wanting in the salty, crunchy department as of late, until I discovered these babies. Last night I had them alongside cashew cheese sauce and today paired them with salsa and guacamole. While hard to find around Birmingham, Sprouts has them in the bulk section from time to time and Walmart usually has some near the produce with their nuts and granola bars.

3. The library
At the beginning of the summer I tried to check out a book only to find that my library card had expired and had not been active since 2013--thus proving that the stress level in my life must have gotten out of hand sometime between then and now because WHY would anyone wait that long to go to the library? Now that I'm back in the saddle, I'm in the library at least once a week. The great thing about the Jefferson County Library is that you can go online and request any book in their arsenal, and they will deliver it to your local library within a few days. Many of their titles are also available for digital download. So far I've read

  • The Tipping Point
  • The Good Girl
Currently working on The Best Yes and The Glass Castle.

Have a great week! I'd love to hear what you're loving this week! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Messy Closets

You know that room in your house, the one that you close the door to when visitors come over? Maybe yours in not a whole room, but just a closet or if you've really got it together just a drawer. It's the place where you throw things that have no home, the place you prefer not to go looking for stuff, and the place that you'd need an expert to organize...so you just ignore and continue to throw stuff in, shut the door and act like it doesn't exist?

Well, over the past few weeks I have discovered something similar in my classroom.

Shortly after Christmas break I attended an LDC workshop (I don't know what the letters stand for...only that talking in code seems to make everyone feel more important so we say everything in acronyms). At the workshop we were forced encouraged to create a learning module in which our students would read various content-related texts and use their learning to produce a written product. Throughout the module students will be writing smaller pieces to practice their writing skills.

Sounds good right?

I must admit that we never did much writing in my classroom prior to this adventure, other than the typical short answer question which was mainly math-related. So, I began asking my students to write more, to do things like
  • Justify your response.
  • Provide evidence to support your claim.
  • Analyze the validity of a given claim.
  • Rewrite a given claim, correcting errors in grammar and/or reasoning.
What I have discovered has been a bit intimidating. Things I thought the students understood...they really don't, and even worse...I have no clue how to fix it. I could have the students read more, write more, experiment more, but we may be on the same chapter until Spring Break waiting on them all to understand.

Like that closet that you don't know how to organize, I have no clue how to get inside these kids brains and set the record straight. Worse yet, there isn't just one closet to organize, there are 30 at a time and many more than that in a day.

Part of me wants them to stop writing, stop reminding me that you really don't understand. Let's go back to doing chemistry math-style...where you just plug some numbers into a formula and we do practice problems until you memorize how to do the problem so you can do it on the test, and I promise I won't ask you to explain what your answer means. I'll just keep pretending that you get it. Deal?

Does this make me a horrible teacher?

This morning as I listened to a debate on common core, I wondered if part of the problem is that so many teachers and parents are feeling this tension. (Side note: I am aware that there is a lot more to common core and the issues are deeper than I am discussing here). Because when we ask students to explain why 3 x 5= 15 and they can't, we don't know how to help them. Wouldn't it be easier if we just went back to memorizing multiplication tables?

Because if we don't know that they don't understand, we won't lay away at night thinking of ways to explain it better, and we can make it through more than a few pages of leisure reading without being haunted by the discrepancies.

I am still not sure how I will respond to these feelings. On Monday, will I choose the rough but honest road? Will I open those closet doors, invite students to help me begin rearranging--throwing out misconceptions and organizing misplaced facts--and celebrate each improvement they make, no matter how small? Perhaps I will take the slightly smoother road? I am tempted to slam shut the messy closets and go play in a different room, where we can lounge on algorithms and prop up our feet on our pretty numerical answers!