September 1, 2014

Currently & IMWAYR

Today's post is going to be PACKED, so I'm going to go ahead and get started by linking up with Farley's Currently:

Listening - One of the benefits of my 45-60 minute commute is that I've been listening to a bunch of books in the car. In the past two weeks, I've finished the following two books:
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) - This novel did not disappoint me in any way. When journalist Camille Preaker is assigned a double murder case in her home town, she is less than enthusiastic to return to her roots where she has to spend time with her estranged mother and a dark yet charismatic half-sister she barely knows. The more she unravels about the murders, the more she finds herself identifying the the victims. She's forced to "unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past" in order to get story she was assigned. 
  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham - This was a much lighter book, even though the topic at hand is death. Seventeen year old Tessa has decided to stop fighting her Leukemia and has accepted the fact that her life will end shortly. Before she goes, though, she has decided that she wants to make sure she gets to live! This includes crossing some big items off her bucket list, including sex, drugs, and breaking as many laws as possible. She gets more than she bargained for, though, when she ends up falling in love with a boy and realizes it's much harder to face death when you have something worth living for. If you enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, this would be a good read for you! 
Loving - Three Days of sleeping in! This should be the standard! I'm still of the opinion that a 5 day work week is unnecessary and vote we make the switch to 4!

Thinking - About the great time I had at our family BBQ this weekend! Our second cousin, Bill, whom we met a few years back, invited us to his first annual BBQ on Saturday, and I went with my sister and Joel. The predicted storms held off and made for a PERFECT afternoon watching the kids (and big kids) play in the bouncy house and on a bouncy water slide.

We also got to meet several other extended family members, some who shared with us some fascinating stories about our family. My favorite is about my great-uncle Jim. He was a priest working as a missionary in Peru when was completely taken by a nun named Jean. Ultimately, they both resigned their positions so they could marry, which I think is a fabulously rebellious story! The new part of the story to me was that Jean was featured on the cover of Time Magazine back in the 60s (when she was still a nun), and I am determined to find it! How cool!

Wanting - To find our new house! Joel and I have been searching for our own place. We weighed the options and are leaning toward renting a house versus an apartment, mostly because no apartment will give us enough space to get rid of our storage unit. We found the PERFECT place last week, which was listed the day prior, but by the time the realtor called me back, they already had an application. We've got a few other options we want to see, but this is a stressful choice... especially because we don't know where we'll be working long-term. My first priority is to be close to the expressway for this reason, but of course, those homes are little more pricey. Ah!

Needing - To start grading my history tests... 200 takes a while! I brought home three classes worth over the weekend and have not yet pulled them out of my bag!

Trips - Italy, Hawaii, South Africa. This was an easy list for me. I've always wanted to do a European tour, but Italy is my number one destination. There's just so much history there, and I know I'd love the food! :) Hawaii is for obvious reasons... beaches, luaus, fruity frozen adult beverages... yes please! And South Africa has always been on my bucket list. I REALLY want to do a safari!

Also linking up with:

August 26, 2014

The Human Timeline Race

To start the year in world history, we've been working on our map and timeline skills. Most of this is review, but we did add a few new elements for seventh grade. For example, in addition to the timeline labels BC and AD, which they already knew, we learned about BCE and CE. For those that don't know, these refer to Before the Common Era and the Common Era. The terms replace BC and AD as they are more culturally sensitive.

One of our learning targets is to correctly be able to plot BC/AD, BCE/CE dates on a timeline. To practice this we did a human timeline race, which was a lot of fun. 

I gave each student a card, on which was a historical date and event. They were instructed not to look at their cards until I told them to start. I taped a GIANT timeline on the floor, which spanned our entire room, and I marked "0" (which they know isn't really a year but a place marker) in the middle. 

The goal was to get every student to line up in the correct order WITHOUT TALKING! As you can imagine, the not talking part was the hardest direction to follow. Since I'm a meanie, I added 20 seconds to the overall time for talking of any kind.

Each of my six classes participated in at least 2 rounds of this activity. I was especially proud of my third period class because they came back with a vengeance after a rough start. In their first round, I clocked them in at 6 minutes 19 seconds, but they ended with 2 minutes 37 seconds after a little practice. 

My 9th period class also happens to be one of my honors classes. They beat my previous fastest time in their first round. I was blown away! One of the students suggested an extra challenge of not being able to see your own card, which I thought was a great idea! 

Who says learning can't be fun?! :)
So we busted out the tape... and had to pose for a class photo (most of the class anyway) before the big challenge. 

Even without knowing what was on their cards, they were able to complete the timeline in less than three minutes. I was pretty impressed! 

If we have any extra time tomorrow or Thursday, I've promised them we can do some in-class challenges! My students sure do love a little competition!

August 21, 2014

An Eventful Curriculum Night

Today was a LONG day. I arrived at school around 7:15 AM and didn't leave until about 8:45 PM because we had curriculum night. To say I'm exhausted is an understatement, but I wanted to fill you guys in on my eventful evening...

About 2 minutes before the doors were set to open to parents, the power went out. Now, we've had CRAZY thunderstorms all day long but at 6:30, it was dry. Well... we're probably dealing with 99% humidity, but there was no rain. 

We have a backup generator, which left us with some lighting. But projectors, computers, clocks, air conditioning... nope! That powerpoint and video I had prepared? Yeah... that was a waste of time!

By the time parents were done with the welcome speech and headed upstairs to my room, it was already toasty, and I was sweating. And then I became self-conscious about the sweating, which only makes the problem worse. haha

I was certain it would be an awful night. 

And then the first mom walked in, shook my hand and introduced herself.

Parent: Hi, I'm Laurie X!
Me: Hi... I know you!
Parent: I know you too!
Me: How do I know you?
Parent: I don't know, but I know I know you too. 
Parent: What did you say your name was?
Me: Actually, I'm Mrs. G's long-term sub. My name is Erin L.
Parent: OH MY GOD! ERIN L!!! You're so grown up!
Me: OMG! Laurie!!!
<We hug and laugh at this coincidence>

You guys... this woman was a coworker and friend of my mom's when I was REALLY young. Like elementary school. She used to babysit me! Her daughter and I actually ended up in high school together too. And now, her son (from a second marriage so much younger) is in my first period class. 

I never would have put it together. She has a different last name. One I've seen through her daughter's Facebook over the years, but not one that I would instantly recognize. And with 201 students, I'm not even paying attention to last names yet anyway!

Not 5 minutes later, as I'm standing in the hallway, my old coworker (who was also my cooperating teacher when I student taught) comes up to me to say hello. I knew she lived in the district, but I had no clue her kids went to my school. What a fun surprise!

I live a good 45 minutes away from my school. So, it's incredible to me that I had two connections like this in the first 10 minutes of the night!

And I was able to wing my presentation and still make the parents laugh... a lot. I explained some of my big expectations and shared a little about our pass the plate activity where I was sure to point out that a big part of this class will be clearing up misconceptions... like Early Humans were NOT mermaids, and China has given us much more than Panda Express and Bruce Lee! :)

I received a ton of positive feedback from parents who stuck around after each presentation. It was so reassuring to hear that their children are talking about how much they love me and my class, and I guess I really impressed the parents with my energy because they commented on it all night long.

This was definitely my most successful curriculum night... despite the glitches and sweat! ;)
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