Week # 4 Into 5

This week is a weird week because we have professional development on Tuesday. So we go Monday and then we have E-learning Tuesday and then the rest of the week is normal. The bad part about the new school year is momentum gets squished by days off. But it is all good.

Dual credit English – We are taking a break from our college curriculum and heading into some English 11 with Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible. We have been studying the history of McCarthyism and the Witch Trials. As well, I have been setting the stage so to speak for Puritan culture. I think sometimes the toughest connection for students to make is understanding the culture of the times. They apply our cultural norms and it doesn’t always make sense. For example, John Proctor cheats on his wife and his wife is NOT happy. Most kids don’t understand why she doesn’t kick him out and get revenge on Abigail. This week finally we dive in and just read and act out the play.

I usually teach drama key terms and stage production during The Crucible and I usually will use youtube videos of the play to reinforce those terms.

Dual credit speech – The kids are taking their first Unit # 1 test over chapters 1-4. We move really quickly since it is a college course. They are also doing their demonstration speeches. We started those on Friday and they will likely take us at least a week or two. We also start unit # 2.

24250701English 9 – We are reading Animal Farm and we read 2 chapters a night. I do a pre-reading activity that is kind of unique. But my students love it. They enter my classroom and there is a slide up on my board. The slide instructs them that I will not be participating in class today other than as an adult in the room. They have a list of tasks to complete for the period. However, they need to design the English classroom for the day how they believe to be most efficient for them. What usually happens is anarchy and serves as an awesome lesson we get to compare to the whole time to Animal Farm. Animal Farm is a satirical novella about animals that create their own society. My students love this activity.

Mass Media – We are recording and editing our “Day in the Life of…” videos where we are all Youtube stars. My kids always love this one and have so much fun with it. Then I will be introducing culture jamming/propaganda and I will share those resources with you next week. My students will create a culture jam and this always brings out the coolest projects. I love this assignment.

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Step Into It.

She sat alone and thought I’ve got to find a way to take a breath because I literally feel like I CANNOT breathe. No really like I CANNOT breathe. So she takes a breath and another. And another for good measure. But that tightness still sits on her chest, a brick ready to sink in and revealing what is really on the inside and her secret will be out.

But she wondered, “What secret is she really hiding?” That she was meant for this and built for this. Is that such a bad thing? Maybe someone will make fun of her or find a way to jab her from the right and the left in quips that are meant to filet. (You don’t get to do that she says in her head. But her mouth utters nothing and she shakes her head in agreement. Bullshit…speak up!!!)

Because in her experience that is usually how people strike. They don’t strike straight. What ever happened to those people in Gwendolyn Brooks poem? Did they grow up? Did they just say they strike straight? Or did they just nod and let someone bulldoze them over?

We strike straight.

I always took that to mean being real and being honest. A trait I learned as a young 17 year old girl who had a boyfriend who was just a little too controlling. My response to his final command was, “No thank you.” Okay or maybe something a little less polite. But the power of that word.

She found her no in that moment. She found her ability to take hold of her breath and not hold it for so long. She breathed. She breathed in and out steadily. So what happened? What happened is she grew up. She found her dreams and she lived in them, so she dreamed bigger. She dreamed bigger and better and instead of saying no which creates a road block. She said yes which leads to a vast opening.

An opening of insecurity wrapped in self doubt, wrapped in minimizing herself, wrapped in being small and unheard and behind the scenes. Giving her words to others to speak so she could shine through them and noble as it was, it dulls her. Dulling her words dulled her and that brick. It is back. Holding tight and sinking fast. Her words falling out of others mouths. Over and over again.

She watched her words on the page. She even liked them a little. Okay not a little a lot. But putting them out there, a quip here. A jab there. She cannot breath through that and what happens if you cannot breath? And all the feel good sappy crap runs through her mind, why fit in when you were born to stand out, but is it that simple? Hell no it is not that simple.

What if they don’t get it? Or worse they get it and they hate you for it. I’ve have seen that side of people. It is ugly and it hurts and then we are back to that breath. She CANNOT breathe. She understands the game they are playing. You are not fitting in cause you are standing out and that is a threat.

And damnit. The words of so many….

“I don’t want to and cannot afford to fit in” – Brene’ Brown

“A larger part of why I don’t want to be boastful is because I learned a long time ago that I was a little girl who had no clue what she was talking about. Being big while also being small is impossible task for anyone.” – Rachel Hollis

Yes damnit. I hear you. I hear you over and over and over and I get it. But sometimes being small is easier because it hurts less. But damnit it feels so good to be my big ol’ self. The one with the accomplishments that are NOT minimized. The one who did just do all of that and is okay if you see it, know it and hear it. Oh and even better she can breath. She breaths just fine and sometimes I am her. And other times I am not.

But I will get it. That is the optimist in me. But the pessimist exists too. She is the one with the brick. But she is me and I am her and with that….Deep breaths, no smallness, only you and only stillness. They don’t matter. You matter.

Go. Hit publish. Step into it. Be bigger than your biggest fear.

I am her. -MR

 

Meal Planning – Week of Sept 3rd

I cannot not give credit where credit is due….all of my meal planning happens the same every week. Baby girl # 2 and I as we ride back from Fort Wayne. We talk aloud about food that sounds good and things that we are hungry for. For the last 3 months this has been how our meal planning has been happening.

Today was no different. Conversation goes:

Blog1Me: #2…what sounds good for dinner this week?

# 2: Hmm, I don’t know. What sounds good to you? What do we have.

Same conversation every single week. Then comes the long list of what we have in the freezer, our daily calendar and options.

This week is going to be the start of 21 Day Fix for me. Yes Labor Day means 21 Day Fix start for me. It is okay. I am so controlling that I don’t want to wait till Tuesday because of the holiday. It will be fine, I promise. Sooooooo….

Monday – We are having parmesan chicken which I make keto though I am no longer doing keto. My kiddos just love it. I have no measurements and all measurements are a guess. But it is sooooo good.

  • 1/4 cup of a Duke’s Mayo
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan
  • garlic herb seasoning (no sodium)
  • garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp of butter (not needed but makes it extra keto)
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (not keto – keep in mind the star should be the fats, garlic and chicken)

Mix this all together.

FullSizeRenderCover the chicken in the mixture above and bake at 375 until temp inside chicken reaches 175 degrees.

Tuesday/Wednesday – Pot roast which will be sprinkled with minced garlic and black pepper. I will pour 1 cup of beef stock on a rump roast and throw it in the crockpot for 6-8 hours. We will serve with sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. My girls will want rolls as well.

All of these meals will be served with a salad and leftovers will be in my lunch.

My breakfasts will be these apple muffins (1 purple) and 2 hardboiled eggs (1 red) with a snack of almonds (1/2 blue). I will also include salads in my lunch (1 green/1/2 orange and a purple).

Thursday – Dinner out with in laws or left overs.

Friday – I am going to make a healthy pizza at home. Recipe to come.

 

In Mrs. E’s Class – Week # 3

In my Speech Communication classes the last week and half I have been laying the ground work for academic terms and understandings of the basics of communication. We discussed the following:

  1. social construction theory
  2. communication frames
  3. rhetorical situation
  4. communication theories
  5. Rhetorical triangle

IMG_2125This is where communications gets a bit more bookish. We did complete the 15 minutes of fame speech and they did amazing. I also introduced our next speech which is a “how-to” demonstration speech. We have been researching some speeches and sharing. They start those and have a test over their first unit (Chapters 1-5) the next week. We will then dive into unit # 2 (Chapters 6-9). We use The Art of Public Speaking by Stephan Lucas.

I always do the speeches for my students to see what I am looking for. So this week I made chocolate chip cookies for my students to see how to make them and I presented it as a speech.

In my English 11/English 101 course, we continue to also study rhetoric. We finished up the_crucibletalking more in depth about rhetorical situation where I introduced them to the academic terms to explain rhetorical situation. These would be terms like rhetor, exigence, rhetoricians, and the like. We also began to talk about rhetorical analysis. My first introduction to rhetorical analysis is an important one because it is the first skill they need to perfect to help them in their other college courses.

I have found I have to make it relatable. This year I used hypothetical situations in which they judged one’s rhetoric. For example, a mad customer at a store, a tension filled ex situation where you want something back from the ex, a parent that you are in trouble with. We determined the most effective rhetoric.

We also practiced proper email etiquette in academia. Our students will often work with professors outside of school at other universities, so learning to speak the language is so important. I have a fun little activity to practice this. Please email me if you want it. I am happy to share free.

We are moving into reading The Crucible next week. We will start with reading, “Half Hanged Mary” by Margret Atwood. My students love this poem every single year because it really introduces us to the life of a Puritan and sets us up for a better understanding of how the Salem Witch Trials even happened because inevitably every year kids struggle to understand how things could have gotten so bad. We will do some activities to aid us in that understanding and then dive into the play. My students always really like this one.

UPDATE—> Forgot to add that there is a movie coming out on Starz about Atwood poem. It is called ROPE’d. I have linked a trailer for it. Also important note Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood is dedicated to Mary Webster of “Half Hanged Mary”. 

In my English 9 course, we have been working on our personal narrative drafts. This has been a lot of you write, you share, and we critique. We have also worked on defining and understanding author’s purpose and main ideas. We have read Poe’s , “Cask of downloadAmontillado” and O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” to also help us understand those ideas. I also printed out a blank story line and asked them to plot out their own narratives to see if they could identify any weak areas. Final drafts are due next week. Then we move on.

In my Mass Media class, we are finishing up presentations about Mass Media examples. I have some really amazing presentations. They have been things like Fort Nite, KPop, Music in general, Disney, and Call of Duty. Our next project we are going to into exploring is the idea of being a YouTuber. We are recording, “A day in the life of…”

Weekly Meal Plans August 27th

I forgot to post this….this week was NUTS! My kiddos had busy schedules and then I had a busy schedule at work and woah!!!!

So last Sunday I meal prepped for the week.

Monday – Tuesday, I made my favorite carnitas recipe which is not really a recipe at all. I get a pork roast of any kind. We used a pork shoulder this week. I dumped a packet of taco seasoning on it, a jar of salsa. We like mild heat. I also got a little crazy and added some adobo sauce this time. It definitely spiced things up. I cook that in the crock pot and then once it is done I shred it all up. Then I put the meat in a pot and then pull off some of the juices it cooked in in the crock pot and let it cook until the moisture evaporates. Then you can serve. This usually feeds us for two days and it also went for my keto lunches until Thursday.

To keep it keto I just put everything I would put on a carnita (lettuce, avocado, queso fresco and salsa). I just serve it without a tortilla. It was so good.

Wednesday, Then for our other meal we had Schwan’s six-cheese tortellini served with spaghetti sauce, and ciabatta rolls. My girls love this meal and it is super simple to throw together. For sauce, we usually will use Ragu. Sometimes I will add alfredo sauce if the girls want it extra cheesy. My # 2 has a dairy intolerance, but loves it. But I try and go easy on her with dairy unless she requests it.

To keep my dinner keto I just made hamburgers and again did everything you would do for a hamburger except without a bun. I also topped my burger with Duke’s mayo which I love when I am doing keto. It is a good clean fat filled mayo. For my lunch the rest of the week I also had salad, tuna with duke’s mayo. Because the week was so busy I did have a few Atkin’s meal bars.  These are not the best idea for keto, so if you eat them be sure to watch your ketones. I usually will stay in ketosis with them though. However, I do try and use them sparingly. FYI – I decided Friday to break from keto. I got myself back into order and I am feeling good.

Thursday-Friday, we always go out to dinner with my in-laws and I had a taco salad and didn’t eat the shell. Then Friday I got pizza from Pizza King. If you don’t know what that is….you are missing out y’all. I had a cauliflower pizza crust and it was amazing.

I did make two desserts this week. I told my co-workers I would make “Lunch Lady Brownies” and I had the day off on Wednesday, so I made them then. But then for my students I presented a “How-To” speech and I made my mother in law’s chocolate chip cookie recipe which I have made so many times they are really probably also my recipe at this point. But she still makes them way better than I ever could.

 

 

Week # 2 – MR’s Classroom

These are the weekly happenings in MR’s classroom this week. We are moving strongly into academics and exploring ourselves, exploring others speaking positions, or media and what makes it considered “mass media”.

So this week with my dual credit English courses we will be exploring academic language and the privilege it provides us. I usually explore this through David Bartholomae’s academic article, “Inventing the University” which allows for some deep academic discussion of what makes things “scholarly” versus just good. I purposefully maxresdefaultmake the material hard, so I can gauge where everyone is at. We read sections together, then they will get some tough academic questions that I have them “translate” into language they better can understand and then they answer them. All of them introduces to the fact that college is a performance that always starts off with us not knowing.

Then we will move from that article to “Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott. Students will find this much more accessible and we discuss a lot that you are not supposed to start out sounding amazing. That is just not a reasonable goal or expectation. They are also currently working on essay # 1 which is due Friday. It is an identity narrative. They have three options for which to choose to write an essay. The first is an extended name narrative, the second is using “This I believe” narrative prompt, and the third is an identity recipe centered around a metaphorical recipe of what makes you or a literal meaning of a recipe that you can share that will tell some sort of narrative maybe of family or culture.

In my English 9 course we are reading “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe and I am using Laura Randazzo’s materials for this. She is amazing and has some of the most engaging materials I have ever used. My textbook has this same story but it is not as visually appealing to my students has her hand out. As well, the questions provided in her handout create the best discussion points and as an aside….my students LOVE anything Edgar Allan Poe. I also will be teaching her lesson of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” which is by far my favorite short story to teach. I am a true Victorian era enthusiast so it fulfills that need. In the mean time, they are getting ready to write a simple personal narrative, so we are learning elements of that, as well as, learning the basics of MLA. The only trick here is I write with them on my apple TV, so they can follow getty_615072736_357887along and make their MLA template for the year for my class and others.

In my dual credit speech, we are still working on starting Secondary Sara’s “15 minutes of Fame” speech from this post. The kids are loving it and having fun with it. I have quite a few drama kids this year, so the idea of using a persona of someone else was extremely appealing. Those speeches start Friday. In the meantime, I am lecturing quite a bit on the basic elements of speech and communication.

In my mass media class, we started exploring what makes media “mass” and they are completing that by researching and preparing presentations on a mass media of their choosing. They will start presenting those presentations on Thursday. I am really looking to make sure they understand how media reaches the masses. I made the assignment sheet for this assignment, so if anyone is interested just be sure to send me an email or message and I will email it. I love sharing my own created resources.

______________

Hope you have an amazing week teachers!

 

Keep them close.

TheKey2

Picture from Bam Radio Network.

Imagine this…it was my first year in the classroom. I did not go to school for education and had zero classroom management skills. In fact, I didn’t even know what that word meant until about 4-5 months into my high school classroom. So when a student acted up I let it frustrate me and I took it extremely personally. That usually ended up with me writing referrals and my principal sending them to in school suspension. They would come back even more mad at me and even more disruptive to my classroom and here in lies the cycle of dread of going to work.

I hated coming to work and I continuously looked at classifieds because I figured it just meant I was not cut out for this stuff. My boss was patient with me. My colleagues were great at giving advice. But it took time to see that didn’t work and what I was lacking was me in the classroom. I didn’t believe in that way of handling things.

I had an epiphany. Classroom management to me seemed to be something that maybe I could compare to raising children. Was I sending my daughters to their room when they were making bad choices? Was I taking what they were doing personally? Was I immediately disseminating a punishment?

My answer to all of those is no. I never did any of those. I am an empath and carry all the emotion that comes with that. If people around me are miserable….chances are I am as well. I have to be really careful with that and what that can look like in my classroom because it can derail teaching very easily.

So I took a ‘mothering’ approach. That meant we talked about what was happening when those issues would arise. I also didn’t give them the opportunity to escape the conflict. They had to look at me and discuss the behavior and choices being made. Just as I would my daughters. What I eventually realized is that most of the issues had nothing to do with me which allowed me to dismiss the feeling of it being a personal attack. It also allowed me to deal with the behaviors from a much different perspective.

I also found it very important to sit down with them. Something about being a teacher towering over a student in a power stance just never sat right with me. I am not in this for the power of the position. I am in this so they can find the power of their own voice and I have zero desire to take away that power because most do not even realize they have any sort of power. Power is a funny thing in the classroom and it is delicate and based on the make up of a classroom you have to be very aware of the use and abuse of it.

The term “keep them close” has been on the rise in the social media teaching world. This idea to not do referrals and not send students out of your room. As I was reading about it I realized that is what I have been ascribing to all along. This idea that we are not sending our problem onto someone else because of the message that it sends to the student. This idea that a student is not worth my frustration, aggravation or attention. That is the opposite of everything I believe deep down in my soul.

Once I let go of this idea of what a teacher did in those tense situations my classroom management skills got so much better. Some may see it as too squishy (aka motherly) and that is okay. But let me be clear, my students will tell you 1) they respect me (and my squishyness) 2) Also, they know good and well when that line has been crossed with me.

As well, I have some rules that will also get you sent out of my classroom. They are repeated tardies and violence or threats of violence. I will tell you right now I have rarely/if ever had those issues at all.

I just choose to handle the issues that arise in my classroom myself and I actually pride myself on that. Because sometimes that maybe what the hope of the issue is…that a student will be sent out and not dealt with. I feel like instead I am sending the message of importance of what we are doing in my classroom. I also operate from the idea that students want to do well and that I expect that before I expect misbehavior. But I also remember they are human. PERIOD. They are going to make mistakes. I am going to make mistakes. So we make mistakes together and create an a forgiving atmosphere that allows for those mistakes. And then we move on.

Meal Plan Week of August 20th

So one thing I learned last week….I need simple. Like super simple and easy. The beginning of the year is overwhelming to me. Too many new things. So guess what I am gonna do?

Keto. Keto allows me some great advantages. It makes things super simple for me. It helps massively with brain function. I don’t even know if I know how to explain it, but my head loses the clouds.

So for breakfast and lunch this week it is simple. 2 hard boiled eggs, 4 pieces of bacon and mid-morning a chocolate shake. Lunch Monday-Wednesday are going to be a salad, with bacon, ranch and then a side of salmon patties. Thursday and Friday will be a chicken bacon topped salad. All of that will be served with an avocado.

Monday’s dinner is tostada which is a recipe we got from a friend of my #2’s family. It is a hard tostada shell smeared with refried beans (warmed up with a tablespoon of olive oil). Then topped with lettuce, queso fresco and salsa. I won’t be eating that and will likely have breakfast of sausage, eggs or omelet of some sort.

Tuesday will be grilled chicken alfredo. I just grilled the chicken and will do gluten free pasta and ragu alfredo sauce. I will likely just eat the chicken and bacon baked green beans.

Wednesday is my version of salisbury steak. A favorite in my family which is basically hamburgers with onion them and then they are cooked in beef stock until it thickens and the meat becomes very tender. I can eat this.

Thursday is always dinner out and who knows what I will eat.

Friday, I will probably have homemade pizzas and I will make a keto crust out of almond flour.

All of these meals (as are all meals at my house) will be served with a salad. The sides will likely be the same this week and will be green beans and corn on the cob because I have ton from my garden. I also may make mashed potatoes to go with dinner Tuesday and Thursday.

All of these recipes are mine.

 

Meal Planning – August 13th

05921f74-5d4d-4889-b48f-cc47cad45f7d-64c34673-8617-44d4-8ecb-507e03aee8d3-v1Hi All, so Sundays during the school year are for meal planning. My school has non-traditional school hours. We go from 8:50-4:15 and then usually for me I sponsor clubs, so I am home much later. This means as a parent I gotta be on the ball in the feeding my children game. Most of my meals I make on Sunday or I have planned so my kiddos or guy can throw them together.

I have been doing this for almost 4 years at this point. I have a few small pieces of advice to aid in it. The first and most important is being flexible and forgiving with yourself. Meal prep requires time and sometimes what you plan either does not work out or doesn’t sound good. So if you are the two F’s you can still make it work.

You can move meals around if they sound better and you change the game up a little. I utilize Schwan’s frozen foods sometimes to aid when I need a change or an assist. Schwan’s is great about deals and then when you order from them you also earn points so you can spend the points like money. As well, I eat clean (low chem) most of the time Schwan’s brings pretty high quality as well.

MR’s BREAKFAST – I am soooo simple in this category. I eat 2 hardboiled eggs, fruit of IMG_8975choice and usually gluten free oatmeal with almond milk and sprinkle of cinnamon. I top with nuts and sometimes dried cranberries. I never change this unless I am giving up carbs for awhile. Then subtract oatmeal and add in 2-4 pieces of bacon (usually that would be if I were doing keto). I will include container counts if you do 21 Day Fix containers. 1 yellow, 1 red, 1 purple and 1/2 blue

MR’s LUNCHES – I typically have the same lunch for work daily. I have one pouch of tuna with a tablespoon of Duke’s mayo and 1 cut up pickle spear cut up. I mix it all together with a dash of pepper. I will usually have a fruit (banana is a fav) and then a salad with a sprinkle of some sort of nut such as sunflower seeds or pecans and then have it with a tablespoon of ranch dressing (make my own) or Makoto asian dressing. Sometimes if I snack at school I will have the 100 calorie pack of almonds or a granola bar. But usually I don’t snack too much or if I do I will have a VEGA shake. Yes I am a beachbody coach, but I cannot do Shakeology because it just does not do well with me. I have tried. When drama is in I will bring snack packs of granola or full on some veggies to munch on. If I am not feeling that lunch then I will have leftovers, but usually tuna does me just fine. 1 red, 1 tsp, 1 purple, 1 green, 1/2 orange / the snack will sometimes either be a 1 blue or 1 yellow.

Dinner Week of August 13th 

Monday – Chicken Bacon Ranch – No linkable recipe. I bake chicken in ranch seasoning (dry hidden valley powder) and chicken broth. Make gluten free pasta, make bacon and then add in Alfredo sauce and mix all together. I usually will have zoodles on the side for me. I don’t really do pasta all that much and substitute with zoodles always or I find the healthiest version of pasta I can find. We are trying to move to a gluten free diet for one of my kiddos who we think has some gluten sensitivities. Mine will be the same just separate container. 2 green, 1-2 red, 1 yellow and sauce can be 1 blue or I omit if I can’t have anymore.

Tuesday – Hamburgers, salads, corn on cob from my garden and fries. If I am adventurous and have time which I should this week. I will make turnip fries or jicama fries. My sister tipped me off to this and they are soo good. I cut them like fries and drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil and then season and cook in air fryer. I usually go bunless since doing keto buns are soo dry on a burger for me. I just eat like you would chicken or steak. I top with ketchup and dukes. 1 red, 1 yellow, 2 green.

Wednesday – Chicken sandwiches, salads, corn and green beans (corn and green beans from garden). Chicken is from schwans and is breaded. Again I go bunless. Add in buffalo sauce for some spice. 1 -2 red, 2 green, 1 yellow and sometimes 1/2 orange.

IMG_8805Thursday – We always go out to dinner with my in laws. Usually it is to our local taco joint (I am obsessed with tacos🌮 if you didn’t know.) 1 yellow (2 if you have chips and salsa), 1 red and 1 green.

Friday – Usually a repeat of Thursday but date night with my guy. So container counts the same as Thursday.

Saturday is our day to kinda just make up what we want as a family. Usually the girls and I will try an new recipe and I work on teaching them how to cook.

My be flexible back ups this week if something falls through are Chicken Florentine or lunch meat sandwiches.

I hope to do this weekly to help you all see what I eat. I also should note I have eaten the portion sizing for so long I have it memorized and can do it spot on perfectly. I do check to be sure I am still on track, but so far so good. I recommend that you measure them out if you are going to calorie and portion control. You can buy them from Beachbody, but I have also found them at Walmart and Amazon.

Year # 9 – Day # 1

In schools all over teachers will share their rules, their syllabai and play their ice breakers. Me. Not so much. I hated that as a student and even hate it more as a teacher. My school has 10 class periods. Imagine hearing 10x you can’t and you can statements. I don’t fault teachers for this let me be clear. I actually applaud teacher diversity in every single aspect, and if school is supposed to be a microcosm for life then differing teacher opinions and procedures are a must. So go for it you syllabus toting, rule tellers on the first day teachers. You have my support 100%.

IMG_3891I don’t really have rules. I have a golden rule. RESPECT. I cover that the first day and every day. Everything begins and ends with respect. I also follow it. I have notes almost every where I stand or sit that remind me I am working with humans. To be human is real and that is imperfect and it just what I want. A safe environment to make mistakes and try again or try something different. Risks. They must happen, too.

The first day for me is usually unique because the majority of my students are juniors in a small school which means they know one another well. That also means ice breakers are not really needed, or at least traditional ice breakers. My actual goal for all of my classes is to build a respectful community of learners. I teach two junior classes. I teach freshman composition (dual credit English) and I teach introduction to communications (dual credit speech).

In my speech class, we dive right in. I assign our first speech because we will do more activities in English with the same group to go over how things work with MR’s classroom. Every year I have taught speech I always start with an introduction speech that we do using music. Students are required to pick 5 songs that share the story of their life that they want to tell. I share mine on the first day as well, so as an aside:

Last years five songs to get to know Mrs. E….

  1. What Its Like – Everlast
  2. Keep Ya Head Up – TuPac
  3. Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
  4. She will be loved – Maroon 5
  5. Beautiful – Eminem

Every year they do change, but you get the point. I pair them up with someone I know they do not hang out with and they tell their stories through their songs. Then their partner does a speech telling their story through their songs. It allows me to assess their public speaking capabilities and it gives them some comfort because they are delivering their speech with a partner beside them.

This year though I am changing it up. That lesson after 4 years feels a little played out. I 20120802-141021.jpgwill likely narrow it down to just one song for introduction purposes this year and make it more improv. For their first speech, I am going to utilize a resource from Secondary Sara with the goal of being more purposeful in connecting speaking to real life. They will be researching and working on how public speaking is used in real life and emulate it.

At the conference I went to this summer, I got to hear a teacher from Illnois speak from Teach Better and she introduced this method (the Grid Method) of tying the real world into our classrooms and it has sparked some creativity in me and I am going to toy with it this year and see where it takes me.

In my English classes, I am also changing it up. In the past I handed out an index card or a post-it note and had students finish the sentence, “I am the one who…” and they had to share a fact with the class that would stump the class. The goal is to be the last one standing who no one can figure it out who it is. This worked nicely because as I said these kids have been together for awhile. It also let them see they needed to pay more attention to those they are spending so much time around. But again same ol’ tired feeling on this one. I want something new and more meaningful for my students.

And enters “Honoring Your Name Narrative” from Britt Hawthorne. Though it is not a source you can download, it was an idea sparked from her instagram stories (believe it is in her highlights if you want to find it) where she discussed the importance of having a student share their name stories and it aids teachers and peers in understanding their name, backgrounds and stories more. What I liked specifically was that it is not teacher centric on a students name and instead in student centric which I pride myself on in my classroom. As well, the first essay my students have to write for me is tied to their identities and their name if they choose, so it will help me to scaffold that learning. I also plan to show this video:

Now I teach two other elective courses…the first is Mass Media (10-12th grades) and the second is traditional English 9 (Grade 9). Those courses are little more structured because they are not college courses. The curriculum is pretty well set up for me, but on the first day I still do not go over rules and syllabai. However, I usually will do a writing activity that pertains to the course.

For mass media, we will look at one news story and see how it is covered by multiple sources and we define what ‘media’ is together. We usually do this in a scavenger hunt sort of manner and for English 9, these students are brand new to our school and usually brand new to each other because we are set up like a magnet school, so I take it slow with some writing, some partner discussion and then I ease into a more meaningful icebreaker.

And there you have it…what it will be like in MR’s classroom next week. I really like my students to get a feel for my classroom because I know it is pretty different from what they are used to and I want them to feel safe with that. That takes time to build that community.