Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kicking off Another Narrative Writing Unit

Before starting this writing unit I met with my principal to brainstorm some ideas on how to kick it off. He is an excellent curriculum coach and he always seems to know what the best learning approach is. With his advice and a little of my own tweaking we worked on my unit that I created (still creating) from pulling resources from many random places. Most of my inspiration came from Kelly Anne's unit . She has awesome organizational ideas and mini lessons that I can add my own touch to!
I teach writing to twodifferent sections and they are very different groups. I was really surprised how well this went with both of them and both classes came up with different ideas that impressed me.

To start it off I divided kids into groups of 4-5 and gave them each a couple of books with a post it note. I told them all the books in front of them were narrative text and we are going to be looking through them to create a list of what makes them a narrative text. At first they were totally lost so I had to do some prompting. I took them to look at the cover pages and write what they notice, go through the text and write what they see or don't see. I gave them about 5-10 minutes and they created their list. At the end we collected back up as a group and everyone gave their ideas to create our "Master list"... Excuse the sloppiness. I only get about 35-40 minutes with one of my classes and my paper is taped to the wall when I write on it! We waste no time!! And don't worry...These were tossed after we created out master list.. I'm not hanging these up:)

After our discussions, the next day I went back over the other class' list and we talked about any differences that we missed as a whole.
For commonality purposes and to have everything in the same spot I typed up our final checklist. We will be using this throughout our story and during the grading process. You may notice that we put figurative speech in our writing. We are currently learning that in reading so we will be incorporating it into our writing for better understanding. You can download the editable version for yourself here.  After this we worked on creating a character and then pre-writing on a roller coaster format. What do you do to kick off your unit? Please note we did a pre-test writing prompt too:)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Relieving Stress Giveaway and Fun Snow Day Annoucements

I've always been passionate about staying healthy and I have always tried to put myself before my job. I don't want that to sound selfish but in order to help others you must be mentally capable of the stresses a teaching career constantly brings. In my few short years I've come to realize that there are things that can make you less stressed and now that I have them I can't imagine life without them.

In order to not look a hot mess before I go to work I never skip the necessities. The Shark clothes steamer can make any fabric look straight off the rack and it takes about 1 minute to heat up. And when I don't have that one minute, wrinkle release never fails. They even make a travel size that you can throw in your school bag! 

Breakfast is important to me. Some days I have to force myself to eat breakfast though. But I know if I don't then I will regret that come about 10 AM when I'm starving to death. When I don't have time to make oatmeal these bowls come in handy! Add some water, microwave, and ta-da you have an amazing, hearty, warm, gooey, FILLING breakfast that you can in the car or walking down the hallway.

Turn off the electronics and live in the moment. If you are anything like me then you may struggle with this. I have the attention span of a gnat and I could sit on Pinterest all night long and constantly twirl my little brain of teaching ideas. I'm training myself (slowly) to get away from school when I'm not at school and not worry about next week's guided reading lesson when I could be doing something more productive in my outside-of-work-life... Exhibit 1: Organize my socks (totally did that today BTW, E-props to me) If you haven't realize by now your job as a teacher never ends and you will never be caught up. So give it up Sista and get your panties out of a bunch.
Get a hobby. I'm currently training for a 10k...We got 13 inches of snow in the past 24 hours so maybe not currently but was and will be. Running is my outlet. I haven't been able to enjoy it in the past year as much as I did before because I constantly tell myself I'm too busy and I don't have time. Who am I fooling? If you don't have time for yourself then who will...probably not anyone. Let yourself go and you will go is my motto. You have to have goals outside of your job and you have to have do things that you enjoy without paychecks and children. Gardening, dog walking, organizing your socks (yes) not your desk will keep you sain... PROMISE.
Although I wouldn't recommend this...I would recommend taking a real vacation and using every single personal day you have. This past week I spent 5 days (3 personal, 2 weekend) in Houston with my boyfriend. It was awesome to fly away for a couple days and not worry about anything. Right in the middle of the week too! My first year of teaching and even my second, I was frightened to miss any school. I didn't want people to think I didn't take my job seriously because I do...probably way too much. I've realized that your personal days are your days and you deserve every second of them. Live them up. Take a Monday off and sleep in, eat in your bed, don't wash your hair and go to the store before 3:30...People will question why you aren't at school (been there, done that) but its okay to do things for yourself. Be selfish, go visit your friend from college  who lives 4 hours away and pretend you don't have to work tomorrow. But do your planning in advance:)
My last advice to keep your sanity and stress free life is to not reinvent the wheel. I'm the queen of TPT purchases. I'm not above it. With this in mind I'm giving away a $10 gift card so some lucky lady (or gent) can be stress free for 7.5 hours and not have to plan much for the day! Sorry, I spent all my  money on vacation so $10 is it :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
On another note this is from our local school district. Not where I work but closer to where I live.