Thursday, May 5, 2016

#MTBoS30 - What's on your To-Do List for Summer?

May and I have a love-hate relationship.

I love May... 
... it's the last month of the school year
... the weather gets warmer and the days get longer
... no more new content in my AP class
... the AP Exam comes, giving my students the chance to "show what they know"
... I start thinking ahead to next year

I hate May...
... I won't see my school friends for a couple of months
... summer heat is coming
... most of my students graduate and run off, never to be seen or heard from again
... I need just one more week... day... hour to cram more info in their heads
... I start planning my summer workload before ever getting to enjoy a day of summer

Speaking of...

My summer started out as a plan to get up each morning for a walk, then come back to relax on the patio while enjoying the sounds of nature and a good book.  

Actually, I suppose that's still the plan.

On my summer reading list:
1)  Every issue of Forensic Science Teacher Magaine
2)  Mathematical Mindsets
3)  Multiple other #EduRead books that I need to go back and revisit
4)  Scoping out the ASCD Member Library (so many awesome books!!!)

On the rest of my list:
1)  Organizing my AP Stat binders
2)  Organizing my Forensic Science files - we are moving to a full year course!
3)  Prepping for a full year FS course
4)  Reconnecting with my MTBoS PLN
5)  Redefining my leadership role at school
6)  Some great Professional Learning Workshops

So who says that teachers have the summer off????

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

#MTBoS30 - One Good Thing

Several members of the #MTBoS blog over at the One Good Thing blog.  If you have a spare hour or two, go read some of the posts over there.. they really can warm your heart!

Today, while trying to figure out if I could really do this #MTBoS30 challenge, I started thinking about my day.  It was a good day overall, but one moment in particular will keep me going for these last 3 weeks.

Yesterday in Forensic Science, my co-teacher was lecturing on bones and the kids (as usual) were very engaged and asking a ton of questions.  One question they asked was answered with "maybe we'll be able to do that next year, but we are out of time this year."  The general response from the class was one of sadness.  This year's group has been awesome, but they are all a bit bummed because next year, we are moving the Forensics class to a full year course rather than a semester course.  One of the juniors immediately came up with a solution - a Forensics Club!  I told the student that we would look into it, but let's finish up the notes first.

Today, the student came to class asking if I had emailed the asst principal yet about Forensics Club.  This young lady went home last night, designed a t-shirt and already had a Google doc shared with some of the other students to generate ideas for club meetings, fundraising, etc.  Wow!  The energy and passion displayed by these underclassmen was just addicting.  The seniors even were jealous that they wouldn't have a chance to be a part of the club and asked if they could still get a t-shirt! :)

Any words of wisdom to a soon-to-be club sponsor? :)

Monday, May 2, 2016

#MTBoS30 - Finding Balance

Over the years, one thing that I have truly struggled with is finding a balance between my home and school life.  This is a common issue heard around the teacher table, so I know I'm not alone and I'm in great company... however, this year the lack of balance is really bothering me.

"Why?" you may ask... Well, that's something I've asked myself too.  I really don't know what is different this year other than I am turning 40 and having a mini mid-life crisis.  As a kid and young adult, 40 seemed the age of "grown-ups".  Now that 40 is just months away, I don't feel very grown up.  I don't feel like I have it all together and I should, right?  For some reason, 40 seems like such a milestone to me...

To be perfectly honest, I think the desire for balance is more than just my age.  My first love is the classroom and that needs to be brought back to the forefront of my mind.  Don't get me wrong, I haven't shortchanged my students in any way and they would never guess that I feel this way, but I really miss having the time and energy to create new engaging activities for them.  I am looking forward to spending time this summer reading and getting myself in the right mindset for rejuvenation.  I look forward to blogging and engaging with my PLN as I tackle this new era of my life.

Next year will be a time of change for me.  I am giving up some of my non-classroom responsibilities and that will be huge for me.  I will be taking on some new challenges as well, which will help me grow as a teacher and as a learner.  I will be refocusing my energies on my students and trying to connect with them on a regular basis.  I will find the balance that I sorely need in my life.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

#MTBoS30 - Happy May Day!

You might have noticed my absence... or maybe not. :)  It's been a good but very busy year.  However, with 3 weeks left of school, I decided to take @sophgermain up on her 30 day blogging challenge.  I can't (and won't) promise that any of these posts will be quality material, but I will try to post daily throughout May.

Spring is in the Air!!
Spring has always been my favorite season.  I love the longer days, the warmer weather, the sound of birds and wind-chimes in the air.  This year, spring is definitely my favorite because we had a door put in from our bedroom to the backyard patio, which has quickly become a favorite spot of mine!

Here's my view as I blog right now... It is so relaxing!  Today we decided to add some color, so we went out and purchased 4 hanging baskets to "plant" in our planters.  I know you can't see them, but they add a much needed splash of color.  I plan to spend most of the summer out here with a book and/or my laptop working on lesson plans!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

#MTBoS12days - Favorite Crockpot Recipes

This wasn't one of the original #MTBoS12days prompts, but it came about as a discussion on Twitter after reading @viemath's blog post on New Year Resolutions :)

I LOVE my crockpot... like with big pink and purple puffy heart loves.  I literally own 7 crockpots of various shapes and sizes and could literally cook every meal in the world in it :)

Here are my go-to recipes:
P.S. - I always use a crock-pot liner, so those aren't mentioned in each recipe, but now you know!

BBQ Pork (or beef)
- Boneless Country Style Ribs (can use a beef roast as well if you don't like pork)
- 20 oz bottle of Diet Coke
- BBQ Sauce of choice (we like Head Country
Put meat in bottom of crockpot.  Cover with Diet Coke.  Cook all day on low.  When you get home from work, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat.  Throw away the juices.  Put new liner in crockpot.  Use two forks to shred the meat. Dump in BBQ Sauce and stir.  Let it continue to cook on low for another 30 minutes or so.  Serve.

Buffalo Chicken
- 4 or 5 chicken breasts
- 1 package Ranch dressing powder
- 1 bottle Frank's buffalo wing sauce
Put chicken in bottom of crockpot.  Sprinkle Ranch dressing on top.  Cover with Buffalo sauce.  Cook all day on low.  Shred chicken using two forks in the sauce.  Serve.

Potato Soup
- Big bag of cubed frozen hashbrowns
- 1 can Fiesta Nacho Soup
- 1 box (32 oz) chicken broth
- 1 block cream cheese (cubed)
Put all of the above in crockpot.  Stir.  Cook all day on low.  Bacon bits are a yummy addition about 30 minutes before serving as well :)

Chicken Tortilla Cheese Soup
- 2 cans cream of chicken soup
- 2 cans fiesta nacho cheese soup
- 1 can red enchilada sauce
 - 1 soup can milk
- 3 or 4 cups cubed, cooked chicken (I use the canned chunk chicken)
Put all of the above in the crockpot and cook on low until it's all mixed and melted together.  Serve over tortilla chips. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

#MTBoS12days - Looking Forward to in 2016...

I can't believe that today is the last day of 2015!!  My break went way too fast and Monday will be here before I know it! :(

Here's a brief list of things I'm looking forward to in 2016!
  • My students in the Rose Parade!  Our HS band is one of the band's performing tomorrow.  My kids have been working on this for months and I'm so happy for them!
  • Spring Break!  We are getting another dumpster delivered over spring break with the idea of cleaning out our garage and finishing up the back yard... yay!
  • #EduRead - I'm eager to jump back into the EduRead crowd.  They push me to be better and I appreciate that!  Our first book is Embedding Formative Assessment with the T3Learns Slow Chat!
  • TMC16 - I'm not 100% sure if I'll be able to attend this year, but it's on my list!
  • Balance - I have 3 preps this spring, so it's going to be more and more important that I find time to rejuvenate with my PLC.  Please hold me accountable to this one and call me out on Twitter if I'm absent! :)
What are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#MTBoS12days - Something I want to Improve

This is probably the hardest prompt so far, mainly because it's hard to narrow down my list to just one thing that I want to improve.  I'm a person that is never satisfied with my progress, but that can lead to my downfall as well because I I am constantly looking for ways to improve rather than being happy with the improvement I've made.  This can cause a spiral effect of depression and giving up because I'm never going to reach my goal.  That's crazy, right?  I mean, we should constantly strive to better ourselves, but at what point is it okay to accept where we are without the constant push to be better?

Sorry, that got deep for a minute...

Anyway, back to the original point of this post... one thing I want to improve.

Oh my... so many things on the list!  MUST-NOT-GET-OVERWHELMED-BY-THE-LIST!  Deep breath... In and Out... In and Out... Whew... okay, better now!

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed a discussion yesterday morning on something I want to try this semester... Plickers!  Here's my plan:

First, I need to print out Plicker sets for my AP Stat classes.  Next Tuesday, when we set up our notebooks, I plan to give each student one to go into the front pocket of their notebook.  Due to data privacy issues, I don't plan to keep track of student names with the Plickers.  We'll do some testing that day too just to see how it goes.

My hope is to use the Plickers as a very quick check for understanding that requires no tech log-in, no downtime while everyone gets out a device, etc.  I know I am limited in only having 4 answer choices, but I think this will be an easy way to integrate MC questions into my lessons as well as a check for understanding at the end of a class period by taking a quick poll.  I'm thinking I could ask them to rate themselves as Red/Yellow/Green or something similar.  I'm really excited about the possibility and would love to hear your thoughts on how you use Plickers!