Monday, November 30, 2015

TpT Cyber Monday Sale - My Purchases & Reviews!

Cyber Monday gets me much more excited than Black Friday, that's for sure!  As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've tried really hard over the years to not get swept up in the buying and over-consuming that these days encourage, but I do like to look for great bargains on things that I actually do need or gifts that I've actually considered purchasing for someone.  And then, enter...CYBER MONDAY!

I've done a little bit of shopping today - Photobucket has some great deals on photo products (the best gifts to give in my family...especially since I got married this year, I have more pictures that I know what to do with!) and my girl Erin Condren has some sweet deals on her products today too (an indulgence, I know, but being organized is just so addicting when the stickers are so darn CUTE!).

Of course, it wouldn't be a complete Cyber Monday with out treating myself to a few of the wishlist items that I have had on TpT for a while.  I wanted to share a sneak peek into the products that I purchased, even though I haven't used them yet.  I've read through both and I'm really excited to implement them in my classroom as soon as possible!

TpT Store:  Stacey Lloyd

My initial reactions:  This girl has got some graphic design GAME!  I love how these task cards are laid out and the response sheets that accompany them.  More importantly, I finally see how task cards can be used in a meaningful way at the high school level.  I never really understood what all of the buzz was around these cards, but after reading through Stacey's directions and looking through her handouts, I have a really clear vision of how I hope to implement these and how to make my own for some other things that I do in my class!

How I plan to implement in my classroom: I think I will be using this set in my classroom for my early finishers.  I have a class where students do a lot of independent work and they finish at a staggered rate.  I think having this as an ongoing project, it will be great to keep kids motivated and keep the class moving at a rigorous pace if this is what they're expected to do when they finish an activity early.  

TpT Store:  Julie Faulkner

My initial reactions:  I've been wooooooooooondering how TpT sellers are putting together their Close Reading assignments, and now I seeeeeeeee!!  My favorite part of this bundle so far are Julie's examples from her own classroom of annotations - LOVE seeing a teacher's own handwriting and how she and her class worked through the close reading assignment.  Everything is nicely coordinated and leveled from entry (easiest) to a challenge.

How I plan to use it in my classroom:  I've already been doing close reading similarly to how Julie has her's outlined in this bundle.  One new idea that she uses are the STEPS to close reading - they are clear, organized, and will help students get closer into any text that they need to closely read.  I think this is so clear and organized that I could actually leave this with a sub!

So there you have it - the two treats I gave myself this Cyber Monday.  Please make sure you swing on by the TpT stores of these talented teachers (linked above) and check out their blogs and what they're writing about:

So what are you waiting for?!  Head on over to Teachers Pay Teachers and pick up something for yourself!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tis the Season for ELA Bloggers to Unite!

Welcome to the ELA bloggers Cyber Monday blog-hop!

For those of you who have started reading my blog recently, you should know that you are watching me at the beginning of my journey - a journey that I've been picking at for years, and now, as of October, taking very seriously because I am so deeply passionate about the things that I get to write about.

Two bloggers that I follow, Julie from Faulkner’s Fast Five and Lauralee from Language Arts Classroom have decided to jingle the sleigh bells of the blogging community. In the tradition of "Top 5 Lists" I plan to join them and share my plans for wrapping up the year 2015.

To celebrate the holidays, I plan on…
ONE:  Bringing meaning to the season for STUDENTS: I already have my Pandora holiday stations ready to go for the whole month of December!  I plan to keep classes light and joyful and to help students remember the importance of family - and how much their families depend on their kids to earn a strong, deep education.

TWO:  Bringing meaning to the season for my FAMILY: I am committed to quality time with my hubby this Christmas.  It's our FIRST as husband and wife, and we are going to start our own traditions this year and I'm so excited to carve time out for that.  Life can get so busy and distracting this time of year that I've made it a focus (already!) to leave work at work and make time for home and family when I get home.  

THREE:  Adding to my TpT wishlist: I've been following Abby Gross for a while now, and I'm really excited to check out her rhetoric lessons, in particular: Rhetorical Devices in Songs.  It looks like just the right thing for my kids second semester!

    FOUR:  Adding to my personal wishlist: I really want a new FitBit or Garmin health tracking device.  I've had a Jawbone before but didn't really like how it felt on my wrist, but I loved how it kept me accountable.  As a teacher looking for ways to do this CRAZY demanding job and still be healthy and active, I think a new FitBit would help me do that!

    FIVE:Looking forward to this season: Warm cuddles with my hubby and my kitties, restful time off, and baking.  The one time of year that I really indulge in some crazy, unhealthy baked creations is the two weeks off in December.  Look for those on the blog coming soon! :-)

    Have a very happy holiday, everyone!!


    Friday, November 27, 2015

    Writing Argument: Does American culture tend to be more GREEDY or GENEROUS during the holiday season?

    Today is Black Friday.  How did you spend it?  I can admit, in the past, the craze has seized me.  I've felt the pressure, the need, the desire to "stock up" on the things that I NEED SO BADLY!!  After all, the deals seemed SOOOOO remarkable!

    This is the question at the center of the newest item up for grabs in my TpT store - does our society display more greed or generosity during the holiday season?

    Through a series of articles and YouTube videos, students are to investigate the evidence provided to them - I've provided TEN rich, rigorous, and challenging sources for the kiddos to dig through.  Once they're read through and tracked the evidence in their sources, the students will then prepare to take a stand; do they stand with greed or with generosity?

    This lesson plan can take you as little as two class periods and as long as probably nine or ten, depending on how much of the article reading and investigating you want to unpack and do together.  If you're looking for something to save you in these crazy weeks before break actually kicks off, I wanted to give my followers some something seasonal, but not cheesy - something challenging, but of high interest to teens.

    For example, take a look at what I've included as Source #7:
    Imagine the discussion that could surround just this one source!  Does this commercial capture greed  or generosity?  What are the rhetorical appeals?  The tropes?  The visual figurative language?  What is the argument of this advertisement, and what does it reveal about the culture surrounding the holidays?

    This ten-page lesson (CCSS rubric included!) is available in my TpT Store for only $3.50!  Today through Cyber Monday, enjoy 20% off everything in the store...this is the best time to shop for your own sanity.  Save time in your classroom and make more space for time with your family and doing the fun kind of shopping that's out there waiting for you!

    Turkey Meatloaf Recipe: Use up your leftovers

    As you all know by now, I am constantly in search of ways to make my teaching life easier AND my nutrition and lifestyle full of decisions that are good for my body.  Teaching is so demanding and it is so easy for me to focus ONLY on my classroom and neglect my health.  This is my go-to recipe that I love - TURKEY MEATLOAF!  I always keep ground turkey in the freezer so that when I want this meal, I'm ready to go.  The only other ingredients that you might need to plan for (if you don't keep them in your pantry regularly) are breadcrumbs (or crackers).  The rest of what you include can be any of the veggies and goodies leftover in the fridge that you need to use up.  This meal can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you're ready to heat it up, too.  So many benefits to this delish meal!

    Let's get started!

    You'll need:
    • A mixing bowl
    • Cutting board and sharp knife
    • A safe place for your rings!  You're gonna be mixing this raw meat with your hands, so prepare for that!
    Begin by placing all of your ingredients in the mixing bowl.  The core of this recipe requires ground turkey, one egg, one half cub breadcrumbs, and salt & pepper to taste.  That's the baseline.  The rest?  Mix, match, and play!  Pictured below is what I made most recently:  a handful of cheese, chopped spinach, vidalia onion, scallions, mushrooms, and a package of the dry french onion seasoning mix.  Smoosh everythign together by hand...

    Then form a log!  I've used the bread loaf pans before, but "loafing" it by hand and placing it in a bitter casserole dish makes it a bit easier to cut and serve.  

    Bake the turkey meatloaf in the oven a 375 degrees for 35 minutes.  With about 10 minutes remaining, remove the loaf and spread ketchup on top.  Place the loaf back in the oven to continue cooking.   When it comes out and your house smells amazing, it will look something like this!

    Whip up some mashed potatoes (because that's what we had to finish up on this leftover day!) and serve! My honey and I can unapologetically  finish almost this entire loaf ourselves.  If you're cooking for a crowd, consider doubling the recipe and making two meatloaves!

    I hope this recipe helps you conquer your nutrition goals and still leave you time to grade papers once it's all done.  After all, that's what I'm here to help you do!