Thursday, January 31, 2013

Celebrating Dickens Intro Post

With February starting tomorrow, I am doing my first celebrating Dickens post.  I am excited to get involved in this reading event from Fanda.  The whole point of the month is to read and talk about Dickens, and if you want to join in there is still time!  I have only read two Dickens novels my whole life: A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol.  I have loved both, especially A Tale of Two Cities.  So with this reading event, I have decide to grab one that I haven't done before though I was severely tempted to do T2C (as I fondly call it)....maybe I'll have to do some Character Thursdays with it.  But I will be reading.....The Pickwick Papers.

So why that one? Because of Little Women--which is one of my all time favorites books.  If you haven't read it, then you should know that the four sisters in the book form a society called the P.C. or the Pickwick Club which is modeled after the book by Dickens.  I have been told that there are a lot of references to the novel in the chapter that I will never pick up on until I read it.  AND...I want to know more about Dickens' characters and see if they make sense with the ones that the girls gave to themselves. So I am waay excited to do this....though I really want to finish Sense and Sensibility first.  I am SO close!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dear Snow

You are very pretty sometimes and very white and wet.  But trying to drive from Provo to Salt Lake City should never take three hours....but you made it be that way.  And then I couldn't go home last night.  And you are still around this morning when I wake up.  At least I was finally able to get home but you prompt a couple of other dears...

Dear Black Pickup with the White Trailer,

Tailgating me because I'm going 10 mph under the speed limit with the snow is NOT okay.  Yes I was in the left lane and you couldn't "legally" pass me...but the right lane was covered in snow and not plowed yet.  So excuse me for taking the one lane that seemed to be the safest. If you're going to follow so close you can pass on the right...

Girl who was very grateful when you finally did

Dear Snow Plow,

Thank you for plowing in front of me today as I climbed the mountain...I think I would have been okay with out you but it was very reassuring.

Girl who is home safe and sound

Thanks Elise's

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teaching Students about Filibuster

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to teach my students about the filibuster.  One thing that I have learned about U.S. History and Government students is that they are very curious about a filibuster.  What exactly is it?  Really they have to stand the whole time? What if they have to go to the bathroom?  The record is over 24 hours?!  How did he manage that?!
Picture from: 
So, after going over a few background things and making sure students know about the Senate and a cloture etc.  We watch clips from one of my favorite West Wing episodes!  The Stackhouse Filibsuter from Episode 2 is great because it shows how a filibuster is done and how it ends.  The students really strive off of the visual.  I fast-forward through the non-essential plot parts, because as all good TV has more than one story line going through.  So, I highly recommend that as how to teach filibuster.  Here is a quick clip to give you a taste:

Monday, January 28, 2013


This guy is waaay cool.  I love TED talks, though I don't listen to a lot--but each one I do is awesome.  This guy wrote a blog to get through a hard time--the 1000 things that make life worth living. And then he got a book deal.  So now he is like an expert on how to live life to the fullest.  So in this talk he gives us The Three A's of Awesome:
  • Attitude--Is everything!!! You can choose that though life is in the way
  • Awareness--Discover what is new around you again...embrace your inner three year old :)
  • Authenticity--Be real to yourself!! A novel idea, but you need to follow your heart.
and some great stories. He really reminds me of the perspective that we all an awesome way. Give this a watch...yeah it is a bit longer than you probably intended when you showed up on this site.   But it's worth it.  Thanks to elise's pieces for the link! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Technology and Students

I recently read this article called "Digital Immigrants Unite!" It is all about how students might know all about the social network sites and the video games but they don't know the power that technology has and how to use it smartly.  Students see it all as entertainment for them.  The whole thesis of his argument is that the students still need our help with technology.

I completely agree, and I think it is worse than some of us might think.  But what I consider simple troubleshooting on a computer can't be done by my students, I wonder how much we assume that they know everything about computers--or at least they should.  And you would be surprised how many of them don't know about the social networking sites either.  I would encourage schools to keep technology courses, because unless we make them use it--they won't learn how to do everything.

Thank you: 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Favorite Book: The Blue Castle

The Blue Castle

I liked doing the favorites last weekend, so here comes another favorite.  It is hard to just pick a favorite book.  But this one is really one that I have had as a favorite for a long long time and it has become my standard answer when someone asks what my favorite book is.

So what makes it my favorite?  It is the perfect romance.  She is too old to be marriage worthy anymore, and fears she will die an old maid.  And she is in the worst family ever...they are too strict and boring for her and she won't stand up to it.  Then she has a medical diagnosis that leaves her with just months to live.  So she throws away everything she knows and with new confidence does anything she wants.  She is going to die soon so what's the point of living life boring.  As part of her new found confidence she marries the man her family would not pick for her.  I won't spoil the ending because it is the best part.  I will only say this--he married her because it would be short, and he starts to fall in love with her.  What will they do when she dies?

The other part that I love about this book is my favorite quote:
"If you can sit in silence with a person for half an hour and yet be entirely comfortable, you and that person can be friends.  If you cannot, friends you'll never be and you need not waste time in trying."

To a certain extent, this is a mantra for me and a motto of mine.  I used it a lot when dating--if I couldn't sit in silence with a guy on the first/second date, then we really can't be friends and then what's the point of trying? I only had two guys that fit that I married and one I'm still friends with to this day.  So maybe it just works.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features #4

Here are my top five news stories of the week and I tell it like it is

5. Beyonce lip-singing at the Inauguration.  Really?! Why are we happens all the time.

4. Young tennis star Sloane Stevens beats Serena Williams.  Sloane followed Serena's footsteps...and then she beat her cool is that?! Though Serena didn't need to crush her racket...she could show a bit more sportsmanship

3. The irony of most of the eastern U.S. being suddenly very cold.  I sympathize with the -40 people in Minnesota, but the 10 degree people in Chicago and New York can just deal.  Thursday was the first day I left the house and it was above zero in over a month and today was the first day it got above 20 in that time as just be glad it is not there to stay.

2.  Hillary Clinton kicking butt in Congress.  She was fiery, emotional, and just all-around honest. I was not a fan of hers during her First Lady time but I am impressed with what she has done for women in politics/power, our country, and the office of the Secretary of State.  John Kerry won't be able to fill those shoes.
I liked this video about it:

1. Women are now allowed to try for all combat positions as long as they are qualified.  I think it is a great day for equality for women.  I would never serve, but it is good to know that the women who do/want to have all doors open to them. And I think more women need to serve in the military..if nothing else so the men know how to deal with women.  I work with three retired military men and let me tell you--it's no picnic. 

U.S. Army convoys are given a thumb up from a female soldier after crossing into Kuwait during the last convoy out of Iraq in this December 18, 2011 file photograph. REUTERS-Shannon Stapleton-Files
Thank you to:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Creative Writing Prompts on New Year Resolutions

Today I posted on my school's blog about a writing prompt that I gave to my students.  One of the things that I firmly believe is that students need a lot of practice with writing if they are going to improve.  Sometimes these writings can be really simple and fun--this took zero grading, I just read what they wrote.  So check out the blog here: 

and then if you want to see my inspiration check out:

The stars came from:

I added this twist to it so that I could put them on bulletin boards:

Pinned Image

Pinned Image
Even though all of these were written for elementary school kids, my high schoolers really enjoyed it and I did not get one complaint about them being too childish.  I got some snickers for the tiny corniness of the socks--but they didn't put up a fuss.  I think it was a real success.

P.S. Thank you Pinterest for the great ideas :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teacher Expectations

I saw an article today from Education Week that reviewed a research study about how teacher expectations can influence student achievement.  It states in the article that the fact that if teachers hold expectations for all students no matter what their income, race, etc. that the minority and low-income students perform significantly better.

I was not surprised by the fact that teacher expectations improve student achievement.  I see that everyday with my students.  The students that I work with do not do well in school, but I hold them to the same expectations that I would hold any "gifted" student.  These students rise to meet them despite the fact that everyone has said that they can't do it.  So the connection of the fact that minority and low-income students would do better with equal expectations makes sense.  If they are never expected to reach any higher than the stereotypes require them to, then they never will and/or they will think that they can't do better than that.

My firm belief is:
Thank you Pinterest for the cute way of displaying this....

We have to treat students as individuals---not as the group that they have been clumped into. So my question for today is, how do you keep expectations high for ALL your students?  The things that I do are:

  • Have the same expectation for everyone and I don't give anyone a break (though see below)
  • My fellow teachers know my expectations and help to back me up
  • I make sure that the expectations are reasonable for the student.  I hope that my students know that I do bend it toward their actual ability, but not until I know what that is.
  • I also show empathy for my students and spend time with them when they are struggling to understand the material, in which I have been known to give the occasional break.  The key is to not give them all the time or they will come to expect them.
What would you add to this list?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

English Teaching Strategy with "A Rose for Emily"

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner is a great short story that I read with my English class today.  So why read a short story as a class together?

  1. It allows you to see a whole plot from start to finish in the whole class period.
  2. The students discover it together
  3. The teacher can focus in on how to approach a more difficult text in a smaller chunk.
  4. Focus in on a particular literary technique/term, grammar usage, etc.

The third choice was my biggest reason for doing a short story today.  My students do a lot of reading on their own with our more independent study style of academics  (Find out more about my school at Cedar Ridge Academy).  As a result, I spend a lot of my class time building tools for them to use on their own.

When choosing a short story for today, I wanted to choose one that would appeal to the wide audience of my students and hold their attention.  I remembered reading "A Rose for Emily" as a high school student myself.  If you haven't read it, it has an element of creepiness and mystery to it that I thought that they might get a kick out of.  As I re-read the story this time around, I also noticed that it also is a great example of what you can do with chronological ideas and point of view.  You could also do a lot on foreshadowing too.

So today, we reviewed the different types of point of view and how that can affect a story.  Then we read the story.  As we went, we talked about unfamiliar words--when do we look them up?  When do we not?  Can we figure it out with context? When we look the word up does it make sense?  We also talked about the story line and the students started to pick up on the little cues that the story gave us that it was hopping backward or forward in time.

Overall, I think this group really liked the story--they were shocked by the ending, just as I predicted. And hopefully they will remember a bit about point of view and dealing with unfamiliar words.

Thank you for the picture

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Day Off...

Can be a very evil thing and a very happy thing....

I really like being able to sleep in...

But I don't like how I really didn't get going until about 11...partly because of a chiropractor appt....

Which brings me to how I really like being able to set appts....the dr said my neck was the worst it has been in a while...which explains my migraines last week---yay for full range of for going to take a few days to feel 100%

I don't like how you plan for all of these things to do...and you get maybe one or two done

I really like being able to just walk around in pajamas all day...

But I really hate how the day just kind of runs away from you.

Oh well!! Back to school tomorrow...full of an interesting week.  Haircut tomorrow (it got long again)...YWs busy day Wednesday...Praxis on Saturday (EEK!)..and working Saturday night!

Well hopefully I will be able to give more interesting blog posts than tonight--kind of just threw this together :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013


So I liked how yesterday I did a favorite movie thing. It was good inspiration for today too....because I can talk about the favorite presents I have gotten. Trish also inspired me with her post about her Kindle, which is the first favorite present that I have gotten.  Trish talked about how she doesn't use her Kindle very much, and how she is resolved to use it again.  I love my Kindle, though I don't use it THAT often.  I still do prefer actual books, but my Kindle is great for traveling, walking and reading, and carrying lots of books.  I also have like a TON of books on it which is AWESOME, because almost all of them were FREE.  (Apparently, I am really in a capital letters mood tonight.) So, I recommend to Trish, stock up on free books and if you bring it around you will be surprised what you read.  Also, it is great for games when you're bored!

My second favorite present of all heated blanket!  I got this Christmas and I have not stopped using it like every night on the couch in front of the TV.  With below zero degree weather it is VERY nice when I get home.  It warms up my feet very nicely too :) Got to love buying it at Wal-mart! :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Tribute to My Favorite Movie--You've Got Mail

I love this movie.  It is like my all-time favorite movie.  I can pretty much quote the thing in my sleep.  If I am having trouble sleeping sometimes I will start this movie in my head...I usually don't get very far because I fall asleep....but you get the picture about how well I know this movie.  I was thinking about it tonight because of this particularly favorite quote of mine...

People are always telling you that change is a good thing.  But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all has happened.  My store is closing this week.  I own a store, did I ever tell you that?  It's a lovely store, and in a week it will be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap.  Soon, it'll just be a memory.  In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something.  I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always say. But the truth is....I'm heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and my mother has died all over again, and no one can ever make it right.

I have been through a lot of changes in 2012...the last half of that year was one big huge whirlwind and I feel like I am still in that whirlwind.  Some people look at me and say that it is okay, you will get through it--because there is nothing else that they can say.  And I look at the time before that change and it is really depressing what it has turned in.  And a part of me really seems to have died...

I told myself when I started this 365 project that this blog wouldn't become one big pity-party and so far this week alone it has turned into a little bit of one and I am sorry.  I don't want people to think that I need another one of my favorite quotes from this movie goes: I don't want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void.  So...good night dear void.

P.S. This is my favorite funnier line in this movie...because I love how you can get a sense of self from making a decision like that--because it is SO true!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features #3

It is Friday here is my run down of the my favorite news articles. Hmm...this one was a bit harder...kind of a slow news week to me.

5. This one makes it on here because I am sick of hearing about it....Lance Armstrong meeting with Oprah.  My big thing with Lance Armstrong is that I heard about it like everyday leading up to the interview...Oprah has got to be loving the free advertising...and I just got sick of it!

4. Again, sick of hearing about it. The Notre Dame football player (Manti Te'o) needs privacy at this time, but everyone needs to just leave him alone--I would be embarrassed and just because we don't know the whole story is not that big of a deal---it is none of our business.

3. This was just cool....apparently NASA sent the Mona Lisa via a laser to the moon.  To a certain extent, this might not sound like a big deal....but just think about how cool it would be to send images that well through space! The technology that we have now just blows my mind. 

2. What is interesting to me this week is this Algerian stand-off...the situation is so fluid nobody knows exactly what to report.  24/7 news coverage is ok in the West, but good luck with that in Africa. 

1. TSA removes full body scanners that don't have privacy blockers.  Makes me happy.  I have written my Congressman about this and have avoided them like the plague when I fly.  They will still have some but they have a more generic view of the body on the screen which I think I can live with. 

Backscatter machines may be allowed again if the company develops the required software.
YAY no more :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Teaching "I Have a Dream" and the March on Washington

This week with my Social Studies classes, we have been talking about the March on Washington and the "I Have a Dream" speech. I wanted to share some of my lesson plan with everyone. One of the things that I focus on in class is a skill that the students will build in class that day.  Often a skill that I focus on in Social Studies classes is reading and decoding primary sources.

This week we focused on figuring out more information about a primary source by starting with the source.  My inspiration came from which helps you to investigate and examine a primary source that they provide.  The cool thing that the kids liked was the fact that they viewed a copy of an artifact that they could go see it in person at the Smithsonian.

After doing some group work about the artifact which was a handbill advertising the March, we started talking about the actual March.  I showed the students this video clip from ABCNews in 2008 on the 45th anniversary of the speech. This is the link:  The cool thing about this clip is that it contains interviews of people at the March, including Dr. King's Chief of Staff.  This gentleman informed us that King almost didn't make the "I Have a Dream" speech that day. He had given this speech about thirty other times, so they didn't want to repeat themselves again.  But even with a new speech written to be given that day, King decided to give the one he felt most comfortable with.

I ended the class with a discussion while we read the "I Have a Dream" speech. It was cool for the students to read the words and pick up on the speech techniques.  We ended by watching the last 5 minutes of the speech so that the students could hear his cadence.  Check out the school's blog for more information about our class that day: 

Image from:
and it is also on my wall in my classroom :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


This is day 16 of my 365 project.  I am shocked that I have made it this long...some nights it is hard to come up with what to write.  Though tonight is the hardest.  I am really tired and worn out from the day/week/month/year....the past six months.  The word that I keep using is overwhelmed.  I started to think about that tonight.  And then the English teacher in me came out...what is the origin of this word?  Overwhelmed goes to overwhelm...the root word is whelm.  According to, whelm comes from Old English which means to cover over.

I thought this was very appropriate.  I am covered up by a lot of different stresses, worries, and to a certain extent my own goals.  The life of a teacher can be really overwhelming.  Last night's post got a great response, and I appreciate that from everyone.  I hope that it highlighted for any non-teachers out there that are reading that our job is not easy.  As a five year old, when I dreamed of becoming a teacher and even in my late teens and early years in college it seemed like the perfect job.  You get to work with kids/teenagers all day and help them to learn.  But there is so much bureaucracy and ideas and opinions out there is really not all about learning.  

But we as teachers want it to be--and I think that is what overwhelms us sometimes.  We are geeks/nerds/etc. because.....

From Pinterest..
We would rather do this and teach them how to do it right than deal with the crap that the administration (both local and national) hand least this teacher would.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grades are Earned, Not Punishment

Have you seen this?

This went around Facebook for a long time, a while ago.  And the other day I saw this link: which is an article explaining why teachers don't like to grade papers.  The author gives six reasons that made sense to me.  Today I was reminded of reason 7: parents expect you to give them the grade they think their student deserves based on the effort that they see, not what the kid earned.

This is on my mind today because I had a parent rudely tell me today what I had done wrong with his student's grade.  I don't want to be negative about it, but I do want to say a few things that I feel like all parents need to hear.

Dear Frustrated Parent,

Teachers (the good ones) have expectations for their students.  They make these expectations very clear, and to a certain extent these expectations are common sense.  We are not out to "get" your student, and we have a lot of better things to do then to come up with ways to trick your student.

If your student leaves questions blank, they will be marked wrong.  If your student puts down on an inaccurate answer, it will be marked wrong.  If your student does not follow the expectations, their grade will go down despite what they might get on tests.  It can also happen that way even if they spend a lot of time on their assignment.  I am willing to work with your student to improve your grade, but that is tricky to do if your student does not come to class or ask for help. So, I am not punishing your child--I am simply trying to teach them that they EARN their grade and to put in effort in all of their assignments.

In addition, if you come to me to advocate for your student that is one thing. I am happy to discuss that with you, because we both want what is best for your student. However, if you come to argue about what you think should be right instead of having an open mind about what might be my perspective, that is just insulting.  We don't blame doctors for the diagnosis they give us, and tell them it is their fault we are dying.  Why are you doing it to me? Please just let me do my job.



Monday, January 14, 2013

My Love Affair with Pinterest is kind of pathetic.  I first started hearing about Pinterest and thought that it was the silliest thing ever! Why would anyone virtually pin anything to a bulletin board? What purpose would it hold?  Then as the initial fervor died down....I began to see people getting craft ideas from Pinterest.  And I was like, "Sure,  that makes sense."  One day on a really big wim, my sister-in-law sent me an invite.  We were seriously sitting on my couch and she was like, "I barely use it but it's fun."  That was when the ridiculousness all July day last year.  Now 20 boards and 1,938 pins later...I am officially hooked.

One of the things that I have known/learned about myself is that I am a SERIOUS pack rat. I save just about everything...esp if it has to do with teaching  There are still boxes at my mom's house full of high school work that I did that I thought I might use one day in my classroom.  I have saved all of my notebooks full of notes from case I used them in my classroom.  I saved all the worksheets and articles and textbooks case I used them in my classroom.  One problem that I kept running into was how to save stuff on my computer that I have seen.  I have many folders entitled "Possible Teaching Ideas".  But you know what the sad thing is?  I don't go to these sources as often as I know I should.

I think the reason why is because it takes forever to find something good, or what I am specifically looking for.  I am victim to the instantaneous search...and the fact that I will be going to bed about 5 hours after I get home from work so things need to be fast (how sad is that!...a post for a different day).  But now with my good friend Pinterest....I pin it to my board and then I can search my board. And sadly, I have a bit of a better memory of my Pinterest stuff.  I don't know if it is because it is recent, visual, or what.

Amongst all of this love affair with Pinterest...I have gained so many followers that I don't know but I know are fellow teachers.  That is just a cool thing to me :)  So if you want more ideas go to my Pinterest boards:
Funny Workplace Ecard: Pinning teaching ideas should get you some kind of professional development credit.
My absolute favorite! Thank you so much
for the reminder that it has some sort of use :P

Thank you The Dynamic Duo for this soo true statement

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Opinion on Changing the Length of School Time

I saw this article today on Twitter: and it intrigued me.  I currently teach at a year-round school and went to a 9 month school so I have seen to a certain extent both sides of the coin.  Honestly though, I don't know if one or the other is the best.

Advantages to the year-round school that I see:

  • Students won't forget everything over a long holiday so review can be a bit smaller
  • Students can learn more at their own pace, which is what I like about the way our school does year-round school.  By not having to worry about getting done in 180 days, slower students can really learn the material that they struggle with
Disadvantages to year-round school that I see:
  • Students and teachers can burn out rather quickly without breaks.  Breaks would need to be lengthy to avoid that.
  • Professional development opportunities would need to be provided for teachers.  Often, at least for history teachers there are trips and many conferences provided over the summer to save teachers from having to get subs. I have never been to one of these with my current job.
  • The article mentions that some places have changed to year round school and went back, mostly because of parent complaints.  One of the things that I have noticed with this is that a junior high will switch but the elementary school and high school won't (or some combination).  However, parents want to take family vacations but their children are all not on the same schedule.  So if a decision is made, it needs to be done in all three areas to get parents on board more.
FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, right, visits with Brandy Toliver, left, and Mariah Neyland, in their first-grade class at the CICS Washington Park School on Chicago's South Side. The Chicago Public Schools extended the school day from 5 hours and 45 minutes to 7 hours in 2012 after a heated offensive by parents. Emanuel, a proponent of longer school days, had originally proposed a 7 1/2-hour school stay, but adjusted his proposal after discussions with parents, some of whom had been critical of the original plan. Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast
Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has recently increased
Chicago public school hours from 5 hrs and 45 mins to 7 hrs
In addition, the article also discusses about making school days longer, even if just by a little bit.  I think that might be where to start if we insist upon adding more school time because it does not prevent current plans.  Also, it might not be a bad idea to consider having this extra hour for working with students in certain areas that they are struggle and for enrichment for those that are not.  Though I caution schools to not make this a "free hour" because students will do everything that they can to get out of going. 

Add your ideas to the subject...what do you think should be done, if anything?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie

Again...finished at the end of last year and getting around to reviewing it.

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (explanation of ratings)

Why Did I Read?  Looking for a good book for an English class novel study.  I need a book that my students would be interested in, haven't read before (which is a trick), and appropriate for them being at a therapeutic boarding school--so bottom line it needs to be super clean. 

Summary: The story is about a teenage Indian boy named Arnold. Both of Arnold's parents are alcoholics which has caused his family life to be quite poor.  His future does not look that bright, but Arnold is actually quite smart for his age.  A teacher noticed that about him and encouraged him to go to the junior high just off the reservation.  Problem with that? He goes through some serious culture shock and rejection from his best friend.  

What Did I Love: Sherman Alexie has an amazing voice in his writing.  It really kept it in engaging for me.  Even though there were parts of the book that bugged me (see below), I finished it because of this writing.

What Did I Hate: So why did I give it such a low star rating?  It really isn't a bad book--but this teenage boy seems to think with his manhood quite a bit.  And talk about it too....which is never a book that I would recommend.  So the verdict...if you want to read this book know that going in but I wouldn't read it with a room full of inappropriate teenage boys and girls.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features #2

This week is a bit of a mixed bag....

#5. Thought this was interesting...NASA is still concerned about the future of space exploration...trying to sell a launch pad but no one will bite because of the future is of space exploration is questionable....though they did sell the landing strip to NASCAR 

#4 This one is a bit old news..but it finally just affected me.  End of the year with the end of the Social Security tax cuts my pay check went down by $25 a paycheck.  The frustrating thing is that is less money than I was making before my small raise last year. I don't really have that big of a problem with the end of the tax cut...but I have a problem with it being a temporary tax cut because it is like all of my hard work is gone.

#3 The nominee for Secretary of Treasury has a very interesting signature and I am curious as to how that could be on our paper currency now....

Jack Lew's signature courtesy of

#2 11 year old boy in coma after cardiac arrest dies after a sad!  He was a soccer player in Utah and went into arrest during a game.  I feel for his family and friends.

#1 Flu outbreak...apparently the shot is 59-62% effective (I have heard a range) but the weird thing to me was that the other day they were telling me about how I should go and get the flu shot because it will help so much.  Then the effectiveness of the shot comes out and I'm less convinced...and then today the doctor guy on the news says the number means that I am less likely to go to the doctor but apparently not less likely to get the flu.  What's the point then?  *Knock on wood* I haven't had the flu since I was 10....and I have NEVER had a flu shot.  So why start now?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Inspired by a Quote with a Teaching Strategy

Today I am inspired by a quote:

Books are not made to be believed, but to subjected to inquiry.  When we consider a book, we mustn't ask ourselves what it says but what it means...--Umberto Eco (Author of The Name of the Rose)

Honestly, never heard of that book or author, but I like the sentiment.  Part of reading is actively thinking about what you are reading and responding to it.  One of the things that is hard for students to do is actively respond to their readings--especially if it is a non-fiction reading.  With stories they can relate to the characters or the plot line gives them motivation to keep going. But with non-fiction readings students respond with, "It's boring!" or "It's too hard!" or "It's too long!"  Sometimes they will just skim it and then they do not do well on the project, analysis, etc. that you have after the reading.  As a result, I have started to make students write all over their readings. I taught one of my new students this technique because he struggled a lot with a Thoreau reading.  After working with him individually on the first few paragraphs, he began to figure out that as long as he was thinking about the reading and writing that thinking down he will understand it better. I call it active reading writing assignment with my students.  The cool thing is that after a while it becomes second nature to them and they respond without me prompting them.

What do you do to help students understand "what it means"?
Thank you to

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: The Host

The Host.jpg

I finished this book awhile ago but just now finally getting around to writing about it.

Title: The Host
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (For an explanation of star ratings go here)

Summary: The world has been taken over by aliens--they have implanted themselves into human minds to take over the world.  They believe that they are improving mankind.  However, there are some humans who have not been implanted.  That is where our main character comes in: Melanie.  But the world changes for Melanie when she is captured and implanted with a host, Wanderer.  Wanderer and Melanie have to figure out how to live in the same body together, which doesn't usually happen! 

What Did I Love: The story was very engaging. I always wanted to know what happened next and I came to really be invested in the characters--especially the relationship that forms between Wanderer and Melanie.  Def. better written than Twilight series.  

What Did I Hate: This is the probably a book that took me the longest to finish ever! I did listen to it on audio and sometimes that takes me longer because I have to be driving to Provo or in a good cleaning mood to listen sometimes.  But it is really long--it doesn't drag just I think she could have done a series or trilogy instead. But she did leave it open for a sequel.

A Word About the Movie Coming Out Soon: I put the trailer below in case you haven't seen it yet.  I hadn't until tonight when I went looking for it.  I'm not wild about what I have see so far.  It makes it look more lovey dovey and action packed than I felt it was and they didn't answer my number one question: how are they going to deal with the Wanderer/Melanie relationship.  A lot of that is internal conversations...harder to do in the movie.  P.S. I pictured the men in this movie a lot cuter than they picked out...

Have you read this? Will you go see the movie?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back to the Classics Challenge 2013

To help me reach my goal of 30 books this year, I thought that I would give this challenge a try! This post will serve as my announcement post.  The rules of the challenge are to read a book in each of the six categories.  You can also choose any of the five optional categories to go with it.  I love the idea of the prize too :)  Sarah said that in the announcement post it is more fun to plan what you are going to read.  I like that idea so here we go...

  1. A 19th Century Classic: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  2. A 20th Century Classic: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  3. A Pre-18th or 18th Century Classic:  Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  4. A Classic that relates to the African-American Experience: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  5. A Classic Adventure: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  6. A Classic that prominently features an Animal: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Optional Categories:

    A.  Re-read a Classic: Emma by Jane Austen
   B.  A Russian Classic: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
   C.  A Classic Non-Fiction title: A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
   D.  A Classic Children's/Young Adult title: A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle
   E.  Classic Short Stories: Three Edgar Allen Poe Stories: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Fall of the House of Usher

I am so excited to get started!!!  Teaching ideas and book reviews to come...most of the ones that I picked I can use in school too :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Love-Hate Relationship with Twitter + Reading Like an Historian Thoughts

So...each Monday a group of Social Studies teachers get on to Twitter and discuss a topic for about an hour or so.  I found out about this at a recent Utah Council of Social Studies teachers conference and I finally got up the courage a little while ago to start my own Twitter account.  Feel free to follow @KimberlyNHawks :)  However, they had taken a break for the Christmas holidays and this was the first time that I felt like I could know what I was doing enough to get involved this time and not make a mess. Problem is I didn't realize that it started at 7 ET time not my MT! Hence the hate relationship with Twitter...I lose track with ALL of the posts.  I get why people have it on their phones, because that could be the only way to possibly keep up.  Though I would not want it constantly bugging me with new alerts.

My love relationship with Twitter is how much I have learned from everyone on Twitter!  Since I missed the chat, I got on and look at a couple of the posts that went through.  If you want to go see it is always #sschat and the moderator tonight was @SHEG_Stanford.  They did a great job talking about teaching ideas with primary sources and helping the students read as historians.  I want to do a quick run down of what I learned and my own ideas since I didn't know the time difference.

  • Students need to be writing about what they are reading--and it doesn't have to be an essay because we all know that we are SO busy to grade.  There was a def theme of even writing a paragraph is great because you can focus on different things at different times.
  • I retweeted the best idea I saw: : frequent quick writes on 3x5 cards. Thesis para on front, 6 bulleted pieces of evidence on back I can see my students actually maybe willing to do this.
My Quick Ideas
  • Along the same lines as the 3x5 cards, since I have the benefit of a small class but you could do this in groups too--come up with what the main purpose/thesis of the source was and then have the students chalk write the supports/evidence of that thesis
  • I love the site: because they are set up for the kids to be detectives.  I did The Case of Sam Smiley to introduce the ideas of being detectives.  The kids really got off on the CSI idea of it.  

P.S. Tomorrow there is a #Wrldchat at 8 pm I will be getting on promptly at 6 pm....if I remember :P

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Classics Club Readathon Wrap-up

So now that the Read-a-thon is over, I am finally getting on to do a quick wrap up.  I haven't gotten too much farther from last night, I had some deadlines that I needed to meet.  So this will be a really quick post.

  1. What book(s) did you read during the event? Sense and Sensibility
  2. What book(s) did you finish? Didn't finish it yet, according to my Kindle I am about 24% through
  3. What did you like about our event? I liked the excuse and motivation to get some reading done.  With everything that I do for school, I rarely get to read for myself unless I have got a completely free day.
  4. Do you have suggestions for future Readathons through The Classics Club? Maybe have everyone start on a certain day and time for their own time zone...for example, everyone could start at 8 am on January 5th their time.  
  5. Would you participate in future Readathons? Yeah I probably would

File:Sense and Sensibility Illustration Chap 12.jpg
Thank you Wikipedia for the image.
This is a scene from ch. 12 in which Willoughby cuts a lock of Marianne's hair.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Classics' Club Readathon: Sense and Sensibility

Classics Club Readathon January 2013

So today is the first-ever Read-a-thon by the Classics' Club.  Now, I have seen these things before and have admired people's determination to read ALL day--they are going for 24 hrs!  I did sign up, however, I molded it to my particular style today.  I had A LOT of grading to do (which btw is still not done--ugh) so my reading of Sense and Sensibility was going to be my break.  It actually worked out very well to do that because I would grade for an hour, read for an hour, grade for an hour.... you get the idea!  I thought that I would take a different break to blog and then maybe get a bit more reading in before bed.

Oh and since I didn't do a start-up post...better late than are the questions for the Classics Club to come peruse and see tomorrow for the wrap-up :)

  1. Snacks and Beverages of Choice: Did the pretzels and Sprite thing today
  2. Where are you reading from today? Home...all over.  I have the audio, Kindle, and print versions to choose from.  Audio for the treadmill and cleaning portion, Kindle for the eating portion, and print for everything else
  3. What are your goals for the Readathon? Get some reading and grading done :P
  4. What book(s) are you planning on reading? Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  5. Are you excited? Of course!! I get to start one of my reading goals for the year: The Complete Works of Jane Austen

Friday, January 4, 2013

Five Favorite Front-Page Features

With my job as a Social Studies teacher, I put in a lot of effort to make sure that my students know what is going on in the world.  I make sure that I especially do this at my school because they are somewhat isolated from the outside world as they focus on themselves therapeutically. As a result, I end up watching and reading a lot of news stories--and a lot of variety to meet everyone's interests. 
With this new restart on my blog, I wanted to have something that is a weekly regular thing.  I thought that each Friday I will highlight my top 5 news stories of the week.  I think I'll call it: Five Favorite Front-Page Features.

5. McDreamy buys a coffee company in Seattle---I so want to go there and I don't even drink coffee :P

4. One of my fav records: 21 by Adele, is the first record to be the most sold two years in a row

3. A teenage girl stands up for her rights against the Taliban and she is recovering enough from their attack that she can be released from the hospital.  I admire her determination.

2. For the first time in history, 1 in 5 Senators are women...a grand total of 20 women were elected and started work this week. With women making up 53% of the electorate, it is about time :) See all of their pictures and their advice for the future generation: 

1. Sandy Hook Elementary School students return to school.  I am very grateful for the effort of these teachers, because I know that we all do a lot of hard work to create a safe learning environment for our students and it would be hard to go back but I am glad they are getting back to normalcy.

Photo of Sandy Hook memorials courtesy of:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dear Boys sister does this on her blog sometimes (which is great btw..see button on the side).  I think it is technically a Wednesday thing for the linky party with the original poster Elise (see button below) but it fits my mood today.  I have kind of promised myself that this blog will not be a complaining/life sucks/ranting/venting kind  of blog---it goes against the whole Inspirefly idea that I have.  I want to be able to inspire people to do something BUT mostly inspire myself to do something.  So today, I decided that I needed to be clever and cheeky about my not so great day.

Dear Whiner,
Though you think that you can talk to your only female teacher like you are the best thing since sliced bread and get me to be super nice to you....not writing your assignment correctly as I have already told you five times...will not get you your way--you have to do it right no matter how much you try to talk me out of it.
Love, your patient teacher ;)

Dear Essay in a Dayish,
Really?! You read the whole book yesterday, did the prewrite today, wrote an essay today, and will give me a final tomorrow because Mom and Dad decided to transfer you? In expect me to read it right away....ugh you have not learned anything about respecting teacher's time! And you spent about two weeks on your first essay for me about two-three months ago?  I find it very hard to believe that this paper will pass....Good luck!
Love, your skeptical teacher

Dear Men at Work,
Yes I know that I am like the only female professional in the whole building--that does NOT mean that I have super powers of being able to get everything done---but I know what matters and most of you aren't doing it!!! Please just give a girl a break :)
Love, exhausted teacher

K so can't figure out how to get the link to work so it is:  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review: The Paper Bag Princess

Yay I made it to day 2!  Thank you for all of you that have started following and have come to look--it does amazing things to one's ego when the stats tell you that people have actually come and read!  I hope it stays interesting.

One of the things that you will learn very quickly from this blog is about my religion. Since this blog will be a lot about my life, and my religion is very important in my life--it is a bit unavoidable. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons. One of my favorite opportunities being a member of this Church is working with the teenagers--specifically the junior high/high school girls. They are so much fun and we get together every Wednesday and do fun stuff.  We talk about the cute boys they see, the annoying homework, the pressures that they face being teenagers in this society, etc. Tonight was no exception.

I had never read this book before, but one of my fellow adult leaders read this to the girls tonight and I saw such a great teaching moment for school teachers but also parents as well!!  So here comes my first book review! Hopefully they all won't have this long of an intro ;)

File:The Paper Bag Princess.jpg

Title: The Paper-Bag Princess
Author: Robert N. Munsch     Illustrator: Michael Martchenko
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (For an explanation of star ratings go here)

Summary: This cute book follows the life of a princess Elizabeth who has found her one true love: Prince Ronald.  Problem is a dragon comes, destroys their castle with his fire breath, and runs off with Ronald.  Elizabeth goes to follow her future husband, but she doesn't have any clothes since the dragon burned them all.  All she can find is a paper-bag to wear.  She goes on a long journey, tricks the dragon into falling asleep, and goes in to rescue Arnold.  He takes one look at her and says that she smells awful, is dirty, and really needs to go put real clothes on so that she will look like a princess.  To which Elizabeth responds:

“Ronald,” said Elizabeth, “your clothes are really pretty and your hair is all neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.” They didn’t get married after all. 

What Did I Love: I loved that last line--because he really was a bum.  And that was the point that we brought up with the girls.  It doesn't matter who the guy is, if all he cares about is looks--then what's the point?!  We had a great discussion about the values that Elizabeth showed and the values that they as young women could show and gain throughout life as they prepare to meet their "prince".

What Did I Hate: Nothing :) It was really cute...I am actually considering buying it on Amazon...I can get it used for like a penny.  Too bad I have to pay waay more than that on shipping

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year's!

Welcome 2013!! I started this blog just a few months ago, and I have really neglected it!  I always think that, "Oh I should blog this, or oh I should blog that." But I never get on and blog.  I blog occasionally at work so I wonder if it just takes that writing drive away (go to to see my recent blog). I spend a lot of time on other people's blogs, Twitter accounts, etc. and I sure get a lot of ideas of what to write.  Just recently I was reading a blog that talked about a 365 project instead of a New Year's Resolution.  I immediately thought that I should do a 365 project with my blog. I will be posting something every day on here. So here is my very first blog post of the 365 project!  We will see how long I can keep coming up with ideas.

So to kind of restart this--look forward to book reviews, Pinterest stuff, lesson plan ideas, and anything else I think of!
365 project
Picture courtesy of: