Valentine Recap

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. It was a very festive time in our house. But in the midst of the busy schedule and endless to-do list we made time to appreciate the people in our lives that mean the most to us.

Here’s a look at 3 events that we participated in last week.

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1. Random Acts of Kindness Week Ornament Drop

At the elementary school my daughter attends they focused on doing acts of random kindness. This was promoted with spirit-dress week and the end-of-week project.

For this project the students created an ornament with a positive message to be delivered to someone of their choice. They were to take a picture with their ornament and let their teacher know who they chose and why that person was selected. My daughter’s teacher challenged the kids to choose someone they don’t know very well.

Instantly, our daughter thought of our next door neighbor. She’s a single, middle-aged woman who tends to keep to herself. Whenever we have the rare opportunity to see her we wave and smile. Aside from doing yard work or shoveling snow at the same time we haven’t had many opportunities to interact with her.

Following our daughter’s lead, our whole family went next door and delivered the ornament. The neighbor was so grateful and let our daughter know that it made her lonely Valentine’s Day so much better to receive that gift.

 

2. Classroom Party

Weeks ago my daughter and I scoured Pinterest for the perfect Valentine’s Day box. Then, using my Cricut and a few supplies from Michaels we put together a pretty cute unicorn-themed box. With her craft skills she used blank heart-shaped notecards, stamps, and stickers to create homemade valentines cards for every member of her class.

I had the opportunity to attend her class party on Friday afternoon. My job was to bring healthy snacks for the class. Oh Joy! helped me out with a blog post about a healthy snack craft. My daughter and I used Thursday night to prepare our cupid-stricken oranges. These were a big hit in the classroom.

 

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3. Speed Dating in the Library

This last event I can take absolutely no credit for having put together. The librarian at my school put lots of planning and energy into the idea, but I have to share because it was so awesome.

On Valentine’s Day my classes reserved the library to pick out new independent reading books. Instead of turning them loose to select books on their own our librarian organized a speed dating session. Students were exposed to an array of books and got to know the one’s that caught their eye.

After the process was done they were to check out the book that they connected with the most. Many of them also took pictures with their books in a photo-booth themed heart. I snagged some of my teacher friends to jump in with me for my photo.

I’d love to see some of your Valentine’s Day crafts and boxes. Comment a picture or description below.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Holiday Pen Pals and a Letter Writing Challenge

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The art of letter writing may one day be obsolete.

With the changing tides of technology it is becoming increasingly rare to sit down with a pen and paper to craft a message for someone else. I love the ease with which communication is achieved via emails and social media, but there is something special about moving a pen across a page. We open up a little more when the words pour through the ink of the pen.

As a ninth grade teacher I see the impact of technology everyday. Most of the results are great, but one thing I notice is that the generation of students I am teaching struggle with articulating their thoughts in more than 280 characters. They think of communication as tweets, emails, and videos. And because of that I fear they are losing out on the authentic experience of written communication.

It is out of this observation (and a little help from author and teacher, Kelly Gallagher) that the idea of pen pals came to me.

Over the Holiday season my ninth grade students have all been assigned a student in my husband’s fourth grade class. Each of my students made a journal for their pen pal and wrote them a letter introducing themselves and asking questions.

In our first rounds of writing my husband and I both observed high levels of engagement among our students. Even those students who neglect assignments and perform poorly in writing exercises opened up in letters to their pen pals and offered them advice that helped us to see them in a different light.

Of course, we did establish some rules for these pen pal relationships. We wanted to make sure that conversations remained appropriate and we also wanted to keep privacy a priority so students know only the first name of their pen pal.

The opportunity to write to a REAL student excited my ninth grade classes. The day after the letters they authored were due they were already asking about when to expect a response. Many of them put a lot of effort into decorating and writing in the journals and eagerly looked forward to hearing back from their new friends.

I stated on Friday that I will be undertaking the challenge of writing one letter a day for the month of December. The motivation behind this challenge comes from witnessing the way my students long for this written form of communication. If you would like to join me in that challenge check out my post Deep: Five Minute Friday and let me know in the comments.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Spirit Week Outfits

Last week was Spirit Week at the high school where I teach. My goal was to participate (as I always do) without spending ANY money on my outfits. It was so much fun to coordinate with the themes chosen by the Student Council.

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Below is a look at what I came up with each day.

Monday: Superhero Day

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My husband had an old Superman shirt that he bought years ago at Walmart. I found it in his closet (it was an XL–which is even too big for him) and I tied it up to make it look less massive and more “cute.” I also wore cropped jeans paired with converse Sperrys in navy blue.

Tuesday: Tacky Tourist Day

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I wore a loud floral print shirt with khakis. I borrowed a floppy beach hat from my cousin and the Michael Kors fanny pack was bummed from a former student. To complete the look I wore strappy sandals that didn’t really match the colors in the rest of my outfit. This was probably my favorite of the outfits for the week.

Wednesday: Grease/College Day

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Our school’s annual college fair was scheduled for Wednesday night and so while the students were dressing like characters from Grease the staff was to wear college gear to promote the event. My sister recently moved to Canada to study at Brock University and she sent me this t-shirt so I could talk to my students about her school. I paired the college tee with army green pants and a cardigan with fall hues.

Thursday: Disney Day

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I joined a gaggle of teachers who dressed as dalmatians from 101 Dalmatians. I used my Cricut to cut out the spots and safety-pinned them to my white t-shirt. I put my hair in two high buns to make dog-ears. For my bottoms, I wore black leggings with shorts over top and black Toms.

Friday: Blue and Gold Day

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To show school spirit I wore a crew neck sweatshirt, blue and gold earrings, cropped jeans, and my navy converse Sperrys.

Which outfit is your favorite?

Go Vikings!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Anniversary: Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is a weekly link-up where a community of bloggers crafts a post based on a common topic. This week the topic is Anniversary. To check out the rest of the community and their posts click here. Now on to my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing:

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Next week I will begin my eighth school year as a teacher.

I cannot believe how fast time has gone. It feels like yesterday that my twenty-one-year-old self was nervously entering the teaching field. At the time I was unprepared and naive. I learned quickly to adapt to the demands of the job that college couldn’t prepare me for. My biggest challenge that first year was my age. My students weren’t much younger than I was. Because of that, I struggled with classroom management (although I’m pretty sure every first year teacher does.)

I did grow a lot that first year. By the end, I started to gain confidence.

Over the years I’ve fallen more in love with my job. My colleagues, friends, and students give me reason to go to work each day. I’m inspired by the people I’ve met and the kindness that exists at my school.

It’s been seven months since I last stood in front of a classroom of students. Those months were spent cuddling and bonding with my newborn. As I stare at the end of this blessed maternity leave I am reminding myself that if I have to leave my baby at least it is for something I love with people I also love. My teaching community will surround me with the love I need to get back at it. And I am looking forward to the adventures that this eighth school year will bring.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Teachers Pay Teachers?

 

Writing effective lesson plans is time consuming. Making learning at the high school level fun and engaging for students requires even more. This year I’ve been focusing on student engagement and getting my students more involved in both the English and History courses that I teach.

It’s taken more time than usual, but my results have been phenomenal. Overall, the students this year have bought into their education more so than those of the past. They are motivated to learn when I get out of the lecture rut and put them in charge of discovering ideas on their own.

During the last two weeks my English students have completed reading projects and a Socratic Seminar. I was so pleased with the results of  both. Students blew away the expectations and made me proud. Going to school is so much more fun when my students are happy and looking forward to class.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about opening a shop on Teachers Pay Teachers, a site where I could sell my lesson plans and classroom activities. I’m looking for advice from other teachers out there.

Is it worth it to package and sell lessons that have been successful in my own classroom? 

I’ve had an account with Teachers Pay Teachers for a few years. At this point all I’ve ever done is buy lessons, but I have a few of my own that might be beneficial to others. Any feedback is welcome and will be appreciated.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dressing and Educating: Days 105-109

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Day 105: January 30, 2017

Today I amped up my grammar instruction. We moved from identifying subjects and predicates (an intermediate skill) to defining phrases and clauses. We took things beyond simple identification and discussed how subjects and predicates interact within sentence structure.

In Honors World History we outlined the pre-war alliances and the failed attempt to end the war quickly by German General Von Schlieffen.

Today I wore Lula Roe leggings, a navy dress and cardigan from Maurices.

 

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Day 106: January 31, 2017

The picture quality is a bit terrible–my apologies.

Today I took part in a Literacy Framework meeting for my district. I was selected to represent the high school teachers and to relay information from that meeting to my department. I had a day of release for this meeting so I don’t have my usual classroom back drop. Instead of teaching I met and collaborated with Language Arts teachers from all over the district and discussed subjects I am passionate about as an educator and parent.

It was a great day!

I wore my Iglesia Pleated top by Papermoon from Stitch Fix #4 and my Adorra Skinny Jeans by Just Black from Stitch Fix #8

 

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Day 107: February 1, 2017

What happened to January? I walked in to my classroom this morning having completely forgotten about the shift in month. It is February which is “crunch time” as the national tests are just a few weeks away. Today in English we added more to our understanding of dependent and independent clauses and started putting them together to form grammatically correct sentences. (We also debunked the myth that you cannot start a sentence with ‘because’ according to clause rules.)

In Honors World History my students are researching battles from World War I which they will present tomorrow to their classmates via GoogleSlides.

Today I wore black slacks from The Limited, a white tank from Primark in England and a Dinah Open Front Cardigan by Staccato from Stitch Fix #3  .

 

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Day 108: February 2, 2017

For a Thursday I was pretty energized today. In English my students read a couple of chapters and we are nearing the end of Not a Drop to Drink. We outlined major changes in the main characters. In Honors World History students began their battle presentations. Most students went above and beyond expectations.

I wore olive jeggings, my Carlito Dolman Knit Top by Papermoon from Stitch Fix #4 and a navy vest from Old Navy.

 

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Day 109: February 3, 2017

Today marked the end of the third quarter interim. Students had an early release so that teachers could take part in Professional Development. In English, students completed a scramble activity where they had example phrases that they had to sort into phrase and clause categories. In Honors World History, more students had the opportunity to present their World War I battles.

The teachers focused on Blended Learning. We discussed and participated in lessons that taught us how to use these practices in our classrooms. It was fun to try something new and to think about ways to incorporate it into my classroom.

Today I wore spirit gear and jeans.

Which outfit was your favorite this week?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

**This post contains affiliate links and I may receive compensation for this post.

Dressing and Educating: Days 96-99

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Day 96: January 17.2017

After a long weekend of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day I decided to take a pause in my usual curriculum to honor the man and the movement behind the holiday. In English class today we analyzed the famous “I Have a Dream” speech and my students were asked to write an essay for homework reflecting on society today and whether Dr. King would be proud of the progress we have made. I’m looking forward to reading these essays. For many of my students it was the very first time they studied Dr. King. The class periods were engaged and asked thought provoking questions throughout the lesson.

In Honors World History we talked about the British conquest of India in the 1800s. We studied the Sepoy Rebellion and the general divide between Hindus and Muslims in that country which eventually led to the creation of West Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangladesh).

Today I wore my navy striped dress from Market & Spruce Spencer Striped Jersey Dress which was part of my Stitch Fix #5.

 

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Day 97: January 18, 2017

It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed getting to talk about China in my Honors World History classes today. I don’t often get to discuss Chinese History so talking about the Opium Wars and Boxer Rebellion was fun for both me and the students. They asked intriguing questions and together we discussed the end of Confuscian order and the Qing Dynasty. This was my final lesson in the Age of Imperialism unit.

In English we finished two chapters in Not a Drop to Drink today. The students had a pop quiz. It went well and I was able to have some data moving forward about their comprehension and analysis of the novel thus far.

Today I wore my Jessika Cowl Neck Poncho by RD Style from Stitch Fix #10, a long tunic from Old Navy and blue slacks also from Old Navy.

 

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Day 98: January 19, 2017

I tried something brand new in my Honors World History class today. It was the end of our unit on imperialism so we had a Risk tournament. Several students who owned the game brought them in and we set up around the room. It was a lot of fun and the students were given opportunities to think critically and strategically while participating in a group game.

It inspired conversations about imperialism and as I circled the classroom I made sure that they were able to articulate ways in which the game related to our curriculum. Leading up to a quiz next week it was a great review activity.

 

My top today is my Illaria Crochet Trip Tunic by Alice Blue from Stitch Fix #8. I paired it with coral leggings.

 

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Day 99: January 20, 2017

In English today my students visited the library to pick out new books for their upcoming reading project. In Honors World History we finished our Risk tournament. As a teacher it was a day of conversing and observing my student population. Between the inauguration and the beautiful weather it was a very eventful Friday.

I wore my striped sweater from Primark in England, a navy vest from Old Navy and Adora Skinny Jeans by Just Black from Stitch Fix #8.

This was a great week as a teacher. I was able to see growth in my English students with a practice AIR test and review the content of my imperialism unit with my Honors World History unit. I am excited for the weeks to come as the curriculum gets more intense in both courses.

Which look was your favorite this week?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

**This post contains affiliate links and I may receive compensation for this post.

Dressing and Educating: Days 84-86

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Day 84: December 19, 2016

I hit the home stretch toward Christmas break today. In English, we reviewed for our big test with a friendly game of Review Basketball. We recently finished the seventh chapter of Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis and so their test prior to Christmas Vacation is over the first seven chapters of the novel.

In Honors World History, my students performed their Epic Rap Battles between Karl Marx and Adam Smith. This was my first time conducting this project and my students really exceeded my expectations. I was so pleased with their finished products and enjoyed getting to see them rap live, listen to their pre-recorded videos, or present their slideshows about each philosopher.

I wore my brand new Perfect T and leggings from Lula Roe with a black cardigan, a scarf, and boots.

 

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Day 85: December 20, 2016

A few years ago we used to hold semester exams the last three days before Christmas break. Because of state testing and other requirements my district decided not to add to the already weighty test schedule with semester exams. I go back and forth on how I feel about taking exams off of the table, but one thing I know I miss is the order it created for the last three days. With an exam-adjusted schedule school was all-business those last days before break. I miss that.

Today my students were buzzing with talk about Christmas and many of them handed out gifts to friends in the hall way. It was a loud day and particularly challenging in my English classes as my students took their test over the first seven chapters of Not a Drop to Drink. I was not pleased with their scores on the test which has me worried that many of them have turned off their “school brain” a little early.

Today I wore red jeggings, a white tshirt, and a blue flannel from Primark in England.

 

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Day 86: December 21, 2016

Finally, the last day before break.

Students in Honors World History took their unit test today over the Industrial Revolution. It was a tidy end to the semester as we can begin a brand new unit after Christmas break. We will be moving on to the Age of Imperialism and barreling toward the first world war.

In English, since students took their test yesterday I decided to make today a reading day. Students were given a set of terms and ideas relating to irony. They defined the words and then we read “The Gift of the Magi” together. It’s a classic story that always leads into some interesting discussion.

Today I wore jeans and a pink sweater from Delias.

I’m so glad to be entering my Christmas break. By the time you read this I will already be in the midst of the most wonderful time of the year cherishing memories with those I love along the way. I hope you are all enjoying this same time during the Holidays season.

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dressing and Educating: Days 79-83

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Day 79: December 12, 2016

I would be lying if I said I was happy to wake up early and go to school this morning. For over a week the weather men had been predicting a winter storm for Sunday night. I pulled out all the old wives’ tales and superstitions hoping for that first snow day. I woke up to a few rain puddles and a damp yard. No snow in sight.

In History today my students presented their Industrial Revolution projects. This was a research based project where students selected their mode of communication. Some wrote novels, some made posters, and others created Google Slides presentations. Here is an artistic interpretation of life in the tenements and work in the factories.

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I wore a cowl neck sling dress, black Lula Roe leggings, and Sperry boots this Monday morning.

 

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Day 80: December 13, 2016

Today marked the beginning of snow season. It was the first snow storm this winter in Ohio. I arrived at school just before 7am to clear roads, but the snow started a few hours later and fell relentlessly through school hours and wasn’t expected to cease until 9pm.

As if the snow levels weren’t enough of a distraction the annual surprise lockdown took place today. Every year law enforcement officers from the county show up unannounced and conduct a thorough search of the campus. During this search they look for drugs and narcotics. Classrooms are held under a level 1 lockdown during this event which means students are not permitted out of the classroom and so I was held up with the same group of students for almost two hours.

I was wearing a top from Lula Roe, navy slacks from Old Navy and my Sperry boots which have become my best friend this winter.

 

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Day 81: December 14, 2016

As a result of the snowfall last night we had a 2 hour delay at my school today.

Most classes were shortened and the kids were all rambunctious as they were armed with some extra sleep. It was nice to get the day started under sunlight, but I was really pulling for a snow day.

In my short classes we worked on reading and finishing up homework.

Today I wore olive jeggings, a black tunic sweater from The Limited, a scarf from Charming Charlies, and my Sperry boots.

 

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Day 82: December 15, 2016

For the second day in a row we experienced a two hour delay at my school. Wind chills were below zero and so my district decided to give us all a little extra time to make it in to school. (Or to snuggle in the warmth of our beds as I did.)

On delay days, all but one of my classes is less than 25 minutes long. I had enough time to read one chapter of Not a Drop to Drink with my English classes and to go over a homework assignment with my Honors History class.

I wore my skinny black pants from the Limited, a polka dot blouse from The Limited, and a maroon sweater from Maurices.

 

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Day 83: December 16, 2016

We were back on a regular bell schedule despite the frigid, single-digit temperatures. In English, we finished up the seventh chapter of the book we are reading and I had each small group write six review questions for next week’s test. I will use the questions in a Review Basketball game Monday.

In History the students are working on rap battles between Karl Marx and Adam Smith. many of them recorded their raps today. I’m excited to hear the finished products on Monday!

Today I wore jeggings, a pinstriped top from Lula Roe and an oversized brown sweater from Kohls.

This week was wet and cold and I did my best to dress to keep myself warm in the classroom. Which of the looks was your favorite?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dressing and Educating: Days 74-78

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Day 74: December 5, 2016

Every quarter my school district expects the content areas to give a common assessment. This quarter in English our focus has been argument writing and so we decided to hone in on the skills needed to write a thesis statement and focus our assessment on that.

Today we gave a pre-assessment. This is a lesson that is rather famous in the circle of high school English teachers. I first heard about it from Kelly Gallagher in one of his books I did a study on last fall. The lesson is called Slip or Trip?

Students are given a crime scene and minimal information. Based on the evidence they gather they write a claim or thesis statement which defines their beliefs about the crime. It’s a really fun way to introduce the purpose and structure of writing a thesis statement. It’s one of my favorite things to do every year.

Today I wore my brand new Lula Roe Carly dress. I paired it with black OS leggings from Lula Roe, a black sweater, and boots.

 

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Day 75: December 6, 2016

In history this week I’m trying to drive home the point of using primary sources in research. Students are currently working on an independent project about the Industrial Revolution. They are using time outside of class to work on these projects as we move forward in the curriculum during class time. Today we took a look at four primary sources about child labor and machines replacing manual labor during the Industrial Revolution. The students took the sources home and for homework answered several Document Based Questions.

Today I wore a printed top from Stitch Fix 4, red jeggings, and because it was very wet and rainy outside I wore my Sperry rainboots.

 

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Day 76: December 7, 2016

In English today we made progress in the novel, Not a Drop to Drink. We focused on the inciting conflict of the novel where people from a nearby town decide to attack the main character and her mother on their homestead. In this scene the students analyzed characterization and plot structure. They also read a non-fiction text about water shortage in our world today. Many of the students were completely unaware of the fact that water shortage isn’t confined to a third world country problem. They were shocked to learn that California and many other western states are faced with this crisis as well.

Today I wore a white sweater than my sister bought me last Christmas, coral jeggings and booties.

 

Day 77: December 8, 2016

The nasty bug that seems to be popping up everywhere made itself a guest in my household today. It could be the fact that I’ve been going a mile a minute preparing for the end of the semester or maybe my new diet of paleo/gluten free made me susceptible, but I had to turn my classroom over to a substitute today. Sorry there are no cute pictures to share of myself lazing around binge watching Gilmore Girls.

 

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Day 78: December 9, 2016

Well-rested and recharged I hopped out of bed ready to conquer the world today.

I threw on my brand new spirit wear that I bought from the basketball team, pulled on my boots, and got myself to school extra early.

In history today we shared some of the Industrial Revolution projects which students worked on independently throughout the course of the week. I was impressed by narratives, presentations, and posters that the students shared as ways of displaying the research they conducted.

This was a fast pace, highly effective week despite my mid-week sick day.

Which outfit was your favorite?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom