Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Be a Steward in the Community - Donate your Children's Books!

Dear Dialog,

Working in a charter school, one of our pillars is to be "stewards in the community". Being a steward in the community to us, means being a role model, upholding community values and being an asset to the community.

Tomorrow, each teacher at my school is going to present to the student population one activity they will be doing this term that helps our students be "stewards in the community". Some will include yearbook where your job is to create a living memory of the school year and the people who helped you get there. My activity is a little personal to me.

Over the years, I have seen a severe lack of books that many HeadStart classrooms and Children and Family shelters have. This has led to decide to have my activity be the following:

Students will write, illustrate and publish childrens novels which we will then donate to both HeadStart Programs and Children and Family Shelters across Douglas County. 

I am currently looking for a company that will publish these books and create hardbound copies of them for free. If you know of any, please let me know so that I can get in contact with them.

I hope that my kids are able to produce works like these that will influence kids forever.

Have a good night all!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome to My Classroom

Dear Dialog,

Today I had the opportunity to take pictures of my classroom. It is still a work in progress. I plan on creating a "Graduation Tree" where my homeroom kids will paint their hand print on the tree and sign their name and year inside of it once it dries. This will happen towards the end of the year.

Now, I have three quotes on my walls. These are my themes in my room for the year. This years are:

"I can't teach you anything. I can only teach you to think."
When teaching Social Studies, more importantly History, I could care less about dates and facts. What I want kids to be able to learn is how to see what caused it. How to analyze a primary document. How to interpret what the original author meant over 100 or 200 years ago. I want them to be able to have a productive and meaningful discourse with multiple people and have the skills to do so. Teaching someone to think is a lot harder than teaching someone facts or dates and that is what I aspire to do.

"You will never get where you are going until you decide where you want to be."
This is a big one for my kids. Due to the economic down turn and the overall low socioeconomic status, the majority of my students tend to have a hard time deciding where and who they want to be after high school. This year I am really going to focus on helping them find something that they might want to do or study because without knowing or at least having a general idea of what they might like to do, they are less likely to get that college degree and obtain that higher salaried position that will provide for them and their future families.

"Education without desire, is no education at all."
I feel that in order to enjoy what you study, you have to like what you study. I am trying to make my lessons a lot more kid friendly. My focus has been on creating units that they specifically would want to learn about and projects they would actually want to complete, not just a regular assignment.

My room gets loads of wonderful natural sunlight, has five computers for student use, three whiteboards that get tons of use by me, 20+ mini whiteboards for my students to solve math problems and do mini pop quizzes in Econ, a NowBoard which is a much cheaper but just as good version of a SmartBoard and LOADS of storage space that works wonders!

Lastly, I leave you with some student art that hangs next to my desk. These are some of the extra special items I have collected over my now, soon to be three years of teaching in addition to my student teaching.

I hope you like my room just as much as I do!



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of School! The Excitement Begins!!!!

Dear Dialog,

Wow... What a day today was... If hectic/crazy/exhausting/overwhelming/absolutely amazing are not the words to describe how today went, I do not know what words will.

My classes were great. I have an amazing group of kids in the morning for my Academic Lab. We started their Diagnostic testing today in Reading and will work on their Writing and Math tomorrow. I will be then sitting down each each student and going over how they scored and what I can do in class to help them. This is very personalized and I think suits our kids better. I will also be creating an Education Plan and Profile which will help them see what classes they need to take, what skills they have left to learn and how close they are to meeting the requirements for graduation.

My 4th period US History class was a handful but good. My room is only set up to handle 20 students max, but because of a scheduling mishap, I had 27! It was crazy but fun. I have not had a class that large in 3 years! We are working out some of the bugs and kinks, and thankfully they will be fixed by Friday at the latest. We are also starting our Native American Unit tomorrow which I am very excited about. I have not taught this unit in two years, so it will both be a learning experience for me, but also a great opportunity!

And what can I say about my 6th period... I most definitely have some characters in there, one in particular that can either destroy my class or make my class wonderful. I am hoping to have a sit down with him tomorrow and see if I can make him a class leader so that he is able to keep the kids in line. He is the type of kid that likes to start a riot and then sit back and watch his work. If I can get him in the right direction, I feel that this is going to be my best Government class yet!

With all the craziness of the day, I did not get the chance to take photos of my room. I will post them tomorrow for your viewing.

And so, the glass of wine to my right that needs to be drank, the reading comprehension tests to my left that need to be graded then entered and the dogs who want to cuddle, I sign off for the day.



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meetings Meetings Meetings... Good things to come!

Dear Dialog,

The beginning of this year has been meetings, meetings, meetings... BUT, the good thing about these meetings is that we as a school are so much more prepared for the first couple of weeks of school and the policies and procedures that we plan to have for the entire school year than years previously. We are being held to a higher standard and more accountable but we are also pushing for a new model and one that I truly believe will be more successful.

This year, I for the most part, will be teaching the following classes:
Academic Lab: A class for students who have not met the OAKS Reading, Writing and/or Math requirements set forth by the state of Oregon. Students are scheduled into this class for periods 1-4, but will move to another class during Periods 2-4 if they need a higher level class. I will primarily be working with mid to high level students, meaning they are really really close to passing the OAKs exams. I will be helping them push through that last hurdle.

4th Period, United States History: I have not really taught a full on US History class in a bit so it will be interesting. I plan on having students start with Native American History, we are going to read a chapter from Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen called "Red Eyes". It discusses historical perceptions about Native American Tribes and how Native American History has been taught since Kindergarten. It is definitely a real eye opener. We will then continue on to the Colonial Period and end with the formation of the Constitution. This curriculum aligns up with the Local Community College and I am excited to have students read something that is not in a text book.

5th Period, Economics: I am upping the ante on my Econ kids this year. Instead of 12 weeks, this will be an 18 week course (so a trimester and a half). They will have to create work portfolios, create KBATs, do Quick Writes, Journal Entries and only be able to use an Index Card on exams. We are really going to exam study techniques. One fun thing I am going to have them do though is to Fix the Federal Budget. This will be their final exam after we discusses taxes and tax laws.

6th Period, Government: I am also upping the ante on my Government kids. They are going to have ample homework (although if they use their time wisely in class, their homework will be limited). We are really going to focus in on the formation of the US government, but also compare and contrast it to other nations. The last 8 weeks of the class or so, will all be current event and debates which I am really looking forward too.
7th Period, Girl's PE: This is definitely going to be my most interesting class. I have lots of work out created and just purchased T25. There is definitely an eclectic group of girls in there so we will see how the year progresses as they will be enrolled in it all year.

Well, that is all for tonight. One more day of meetings and prep and then a wonderful three day weekend! Classes start Tuesday so I will have much to report back then!

Till Tuesday!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

And the 2013-2014 School Year Begins!

Dear Dialog,

Tomorrow is the first day of in-service for us teachers here in Oregon. This means that my room is almost done being set up; I have been lesson planning like crazy; getting in touch with colleges with the best help of my colleague and friend, Kelly; I have five straight days of meetings; and I am one year closer to actually knowing what I am doing in my room! 

Year three tends to be a turning point for many educators. Many new teachers, do not make it past year three because of the bureaucracy, teens who think they know everything, parents who could be either over baring or totally uninvolved and because they are just not able to financially make it due to the SEVERELY low pay despite having a MASTERS degree. I hope that I am able to make it past year three and will continue teaching. While I am learning to work around the bureaucracy of education and the horrible and outdated laws that control us teachers, the teens who are learning that they might not know everything, being able to have parents take me seriously (even though for some of them, I am old enough to be a daughter or a sister) and almost debt free allowing me to actually live comfortably on a teacher's salary, I know that there is so much more that I cannot plan for and hope to make it past this last trial year. 

Lastly, many in education say that by the end of your third year, you actually know what you are doing. Your first year, you are a hard ass, over plan and micro manage. Your second year, you are a softie and become MUCH more flexible in your planning. By the end of the third year, you have your classroom management style down, have really started creating, if not already have a repoire with your kids, and know what you are going to be teaching (for the most part)

School starts officially on September 3rd and I have to say that I am excited for it. This summer has been one for the record books. The boy and I moved into a wonderful house. We got a second four legged family member, a German Shepherd/Alaskan Malamute/Lab mix named Kai who is oh so cuddly and thinks she is a human!, and we celebrated five wonderful years together. 
She naps like this but... 

                                          She sleeps like this!
Well it is time to sign off and get my last, good nights sleep before the meetings, hours of grading and sleepless nights due to planning begin... 

Get ready for lots of posts this year! There are so many exciting events to come!



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Graduation has passed and Summer Vacation is Here!

Dear Dialog,

I apologize for my severe delay in postings... This last term has been the craziest ever... I had 5 seniors graduate and I am so proud of them for doing so! They all worked so incredibly hard and deserved this wonderful achievement in their lives.

These are just two of the kiddos I had the amazing pleasure to help out the last two years. I am so proud and happy that they are able to move on and begin the greatest journey of their lives... Deciding "what they want to do when they grow up".

Now, this summer, I plan on enjoying my time off from teaching. This is the first summer in YEARS that I am not taking a full course load of undergraduate or graduate courses or nannying multiple wee-ones. I plan on soaking up the sun, taking a wonderful nap in a friends pool on a delightful floatie, reading multiple books, running, walking Sofie the Hound and taking as many Fried Fat BootCamps and Spin classes as I can. I am taking one graduate course this summer, but it does not start till the end of July.

I do have to say that while I am so happy in my job and I love what I do, the following picture below most definitely represents how I felt when 1:55pm came around on 6/12/2013!

Any who... I will be checking in several times this summer updating you on my summer escapades and adventures... I plan on doing some work on my classroom and putting up some new quotes that hopefully will give my students inspiration and something to think about. I will also be looking at creating a graduation tree that has a photo of each of my graduates, building from the bottom and then moving upwards.

Well, that is all I have for now... Talk to you all soon!


(Photos above have been posted with permission by my former students)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Dear Dialog,

I am so sorry that it has been so long since I have written last. This last term was a dooooozy for my schedule and I apologize for that. The photo below, seems to summarize the last 3 months quite well...

A lot has changed since I last wrote, including the fact that we are in our last trimester of the year with less than 10 weeks to go! And you know what that means... SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!  

This month is going to be quite busy as I am taking forty kids on a total of four trips to Colleges along the I-5 Corridor within a 2.5 hour drive of Roseburg. These colleges include: Western Oregon University, University of Oregon, Southern Oregon University and Oregon State University. I would love to take kids on more tours but We just don't have the time nor the money for the subs and gas for the vans to take more than four trips. Half of this trip is being paid for by a grant through Kappa Gamma Delta that I applied for back in September 2012.  Western Oregon University is our first college to tour and I am so very excited. I plan on having lots of photos to share. 

Today was a tough day and while I really do enjoy teaching, I am not sure that this is something I will be doing for 30 years. I think that I might explore a few other job avenues over the next few years. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas Break is Here!!!!!!

Dear Dialog,

This holiday break could not gave come fast enough! I have enjoyed 12 wonderful days off so far.

I have 4 more days of no classes, sleeping in till 8:30am, lounging around on the couch with Sofie and watching horrible horrible horrible tv...

I am excited to go back to work but those days are about to me behind me... Too Sad... :(