November 24, 2014

Bears Victory Freebie

I have to admit, since this has been a rough season for my bears, I haven't been good about having my freebies ready to go in case of a win. I'll keep this one live for at least 24 hours so you have time to pick it up! Please let me know if you have any issues with the download!
This Daily Research Log was such a lifesaver for me. Each year, I do at least one big research project, which requires independent work in our school library. As you all know, it's very easy to get caught up in assisting a handful of needy kids and never quite make it all the way around your class. This has left me with a few issues I needed to address:
  • I wanted to make sure my students were making progress in their research and not just looking busy when they weren't really doing much. It's incredible how skilled some students are in this area!
  • I wanted increased communication with parents about what their children are doing in my classroom. Yes, this gives them accountability because they have to share their findings, but it also gives parents a heads-up that the paper or project is on the horizon. This eliminates the element of surprise and lets them see the daily progress (or lack thereof).
  • I wanted to hold my students accountable for their behavior in the library. There's nothing worse than taking your students out in "public" and watching them forget all your behavior expectations, making you look as if you lack classroom management. I solve this with daily points, which can be removed for off-task behavior. I find that having these points on a paper, where I can physically cross off a number, serves as a great reminder to stay focused.
Using this log puts the responsibility on my students. If they can't tell you what they've done productively for the day, then they aren't using their time wisely (or they need to ask for help). It also gave me a quick way to assure that I am at least checking in with each student (because I have to initial each day). 

I left the file in a Word document in case you need to modify it for your needs. I hope you like it!

IMWAYR: Yes, Please!

Happy Thanksgiving week! DEVOLSON (for those that aren't teachers, this is the Dark Evil Vortex Of Late September, October, and November) is nearly done. After a good dose (or two) of turkey this week, we should all be in better spirits as we move forward. To be honest, I haven't felt the effects of DEVOLSON much this year, but I can see the toll it's taking on my co-workers.

Since it's Monday, and since my classes are busy watching Pixar short films this week (looking for principals and elements of art in animation), I have time to share with you my latest read: Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

I recently joined Goodreads because I wanted a place to record the books I've read, what I want to read, and to get suggestions of other books I might enjoy. If you're a user, I'd love for us to become friends so I can check out your bookshelves too!

When I signed up, I had to pick a favorite genre. I honestly hadn't ever given that too much thought, but it didn't take long for me to determine that I really enjoy a good memoir. I especially enjoy reading books by funny women. Here have been some of my favorites:

Kathy Griffin
Ellen Degeneres
Chelsea Handler
Tina Fey
Kristin Chenoweth
Jane Lynch
Jen Lancaster
Tori Spelling
Mindy Kaling

Amy Poehler's book Yes, Please falls easily into line with these other women. I find her to be very relatable while still very entertaining. I want to be her friend. In fact, when I read that her college roommate was a girl named Erin from Chicago, I hoped I could pretend that was me. Just don't mind our age difference! :)

This memoir isn't meant to be fully of belly laughs as much as it's an honest account of her life. She discusses her childhood, relationships, career, and all the successes and failures that have brought her to where she is today. I really enjoyed this book!

Of course, not all the memoirs I enjoy are by funny women. I like reading first-hand accounts of things I've learned about in the news or experiences I will (hopefully) never understand. Some of the other memoirs I've enjoyed include:

Amanda Knox
Sharon Rocha (Laci Peterson's mom)
Lance Armstrong
Nujood Ali
Mitch Albom
Dave Pelzer
John Grogan
John Howard Griffin
Todd Burpo
Cupcake Brown
Anne Frank
Jennifer Traig
Piper Kerman

I believe that reading (or listening, as the case may be) the stories of others helps us strengthen our empathy. It gives us the opportunity to see the world through someone else's eyes, which hopefully helps us become more compassionate about the struggles of those who aren't like us.

I think this is important for all ages, but I especially think it's important for our middle and high school students to learn that everyone will not share their same experiences and opinions. And there are some great lessons to be learned along the way, even from these funny books!

November 23, 2014

Sunday Letters

I have been meaning to link up with my girl Michelle at Big Time Literacy for weeks and weeks. I always seem to miss it, so I'm super happy to be on top of things this Sunday!

Without further ado, I present to you my Sunday Letters. 

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