Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Prezi Presentation

I will show you my classroom this week, but I have been so busy lately! I started school this week, so my free time to peruse the internet has ended! Here's the latest Prezi presentation I created! Enjoy learning about the basic principles of government!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fired up!

Two years ago I worked in Flowing Wells as a high school World History teacher. It was my first public school job (worked three years at charter schools) so I was really nervous for the school year. Three weeks prior to school starting they ushered all first year teachers through an intense training program that completely changed the way I teach. I learned so much, but still felt confident I could use the techniques I learned in the classroom. I also met the most wonderful people there. The teachers were excited about their jobs, genuinely liked the kids and were involved in sponsoring extra-curricular activities (we had to, but most seemed enthusiastic). The principals were supportive and the counselors were helpful. It was the best school year I have had in my career. That may have changed as time went on, but I truly loved that job.
I still do love teaching, but it is not the same as working at Flowing Wells. This year we have a new principal, but I am cautiously optimistic. Our school was hit hard by poor leadership, infighting among the office personnel and a general feeling of malaise among the teachers. I will take the optimism Flowing Wells has for its school year with me and try to be the best I can be for myself and these kids. Watch this video! F-Dub it up!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I'm having a serious case of the blah's whenever I think about school. We are moving out of the house we are living in now to a new house that is much older, but closer to where everything is in Shreveport. The bathroom was neon orange, so I spent a day priming and then painting three coats of paint around the bathroom (Thanks Erin!). I also painted the dining room a bright blue in place of the dark green walls. The other rooms are also hunter green, but I don't have the desire to paint anymore. I painted and decorated the two most visible rooms to where I want them and I will have to leave it at that. We are still moving this week and will finish next weekend. Needless to say, school has taken a back seat. I will show up on August 16th for in-service training and then we will start August 18th. I'll be fine, but I have to get over the "blah, blah,blah's" before then. I promise more positive blog posts next week!

Friday, July 30, 2010

New Dress for the First Day

I want this dress for the first day of school! It's from Anthropologie which means its way too expensive for me, but I love it anyways. I can imagine myself walking on air through the aisles of desks, bringing my students to tears of gratitude as I inform them of the rules and procedures they will always obey and follow. Then I remember what it's really like: I usually trip over someone's bag in the aisle, the kids' eyes glaze over about halfway through my presentation and I smear dry erase marker on my dress...probably, embarrassingly, too close to my bust. No Mr. Holland's Opus here. Only Mrs. McCall stumbling through the classroom in a more sensible $25 dress from Target.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I created this in my class today. I took the PowerPoint presentation I did last year for the beginning of the year and then made it into this presentation using Prezi. The questions "Who are you?" etc. will be answered by me during the presentation, so there are some holes...but you get the general idea. It snazzes up presentations a little, don't you think? I was most impressed by this website, but I will continue to share more in the coming days! You can get an educator account for free on or you can play around on a more basic level. Tomorrow I learn about SmartBoards!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Classroom Decor during the Weekend!

I will only allow myself one more week of classroom decoration, then I'm taking two weeks off. No classroom work, lesson plans, decoration...nothing. I need some time off before school starts. Plus I'm going to move into a new house and I want to focus my creativity on a new space for a while. This weekend I took sheer white curtain panels and sewed some fabric panels on them for the two windows in my classroom. I also covered a wooden board with some batting and fabric for my "media cart" (an overhead cart sans overhead). Both projects were not difficult, but I have not sewn in over a year. It took me over three hours to complete the panels, but I think the turned out well! I'm excited to hang them up in my classroom. I will show you the "after" pictures tomorrow! P.S. The photo is a little dark and the curtains look crooked because I couldn't reach the curtain rod!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Working for the Weekend!

I worked a few hours today on the decor of my classroom. The decal took about two hours to get up, but I think it was well worth it! I love the way it looks alongside everything else. I also finished the M-F folders on my wall. I found some Martha Stewart travel stickers at Michaels today, and put those alongside the folders. The stickers kind of look like exploding candy from far away, but I still like them. I was also pleased with the way the luggage tag "days" turned out.
I'm going to make signs tonight labeling one of the boxes "Bellwork" and another "No Names." I'm ready for all this decor to be finished, so I can focus on lesson planning and teaching in a few weeks!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Have fabric. Must Travel.

I bought this fabric today for my tv cart and table I put in my classroom. The television cart is multi-faceted (like Cover Girl lip gloss) it not only houses a lot of technology, but it can also be used as a dumping ground when properly covered. I also will use this to cover the science table I stole out of another teacher's classroom (she is not coming back) that is completely full of grafitti. I liked this fabric because there were (a) no people featured on the fabric, (b) it features no real specific mode of transportation and (c) it has Paul Bunyon with Babe. I have to represent my state! I will show you before and after, I promise! More work tomorrow!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I've decided to go with a travel theme this year in my classroom. I loved Social Studies as a student because it opened up new worlds I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I've been blessed to travel all over the world, but many of my students feel (or in most cases, are) stuck in the town in which they reside. I know many families choose to stay in their home towns, but I feel its important to travel and see different parts of the country, if not other parts of the world.
I'm going to start the school year off with a piece of luggage (figuratively) and they will have to choose what to put it in it throughout the school year. What they choose (homework, participation and behavior) to put in the luggage will determine their journey into the future (their grade).
Anyone have any ideas how I can incorporate the theme of travel and journeys into my classroom? I've already purchased this decal from WowWall on Etsy, but I would love more ideas!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Great Giveaway!

One of my best friends in Minnesota from Coming up Rosemary posted a link to this great giveaway. You have to scroll down a bit, but its for the Silhouette Digital Cutting Machine. I would love to win this machine. It could definitely help me with the little decor problem I'm having in my classroom!

Monday, July 5, 2010


These would be so fun to use on the students' daily Bellwork! Saying "Thanks" to my students goes a long way. If my students walk in the doorand take out their Bellwork sheets, I say "Thank You ___________ (insert name)!" Surprisingly, they love it. I have juniors and seniors holding up their papers in the air so they can show me they're working the second they get in the door and so they can be thanked. Should I get these stamps? I already have a handful I use, but I love the vintage feel of these!

File Folders

So much has happened! I went to Minnesota, attended clicker training and started collaborating with one of very good friends and colleagues. At clicker training there was only one more Social Studies teacher there and she was from Middle School. She was great to talk to though and I thought she had a great idea for students who miss work, so I'm going to steal her idea and use it for next year! This is what teachers do best! I love that it is understood that teachers will use your ideas in their classroom if it will work for them. Academia was very secretive, for good reason, but I didn't like the climate of suspicion and sense of ownership around every piece of research. Teachers collaborate...need to collaborate to be successful!
Here's the idea: Set up five folders labeled Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, staple them to the wall and whatever leftovers for worksheets, etc. the you have put them in the folders for students to take when needed. I'm setting them up in the front of my classroom where students can grab work on their way in, but that's it. They are not allowed to walk around the classroom once the bell rings. If they miss a test I will put a note into the folder saying, "You missed a test!" followed by a call to action: "I will take this test on _________ (insert date) Signed, ____________" That way if a parent calls and says their child (who never lies and is perfect in every way) did not receive a test I can pull out a record saying the date she/he agreed to take the test and did/did not show up.
Love it!? I will use one set of colors for M/W/F and another for T/Th. We are going to an A/B schedule next year so I will only have the little charmers either 3 or 2 days a week. So confusing, but if I can help the students make sense of it even with the little things I think it will help.
Any other organizational ideas?

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I finished the book "Outliers" this week by Malcolm Gladwell. This was my first Gladwell book and I loved it! A friend who was with us in Korea sent Husband and I a whole batch of great books including this one.
The education lesson I learned from this book was simple, but profound: Our past dictates our future. The way we learn, behave with others, become successful/unsuccessful is not only based on the way we are brought up as children, but also in the way our ancestors (generations and generations) arrived to where our families are today.
At first I was frustrated (and validated) because I feel my biggest obstacle in teaching is not the student, but the family and environment they are raised in as children. The students who have parents that are interested in their education soar in the classroom.
Gladwell gave me hope though in the example of KIPP schools. KIPP schools focus on Math and Science for longer periods of time (hour and a half per day), work on Saturdays and have shorter summer breaks. The schools are in tough areas around the country, the kids are picked through lottery and it works. These kids are getting into top colleges in spite of their backgrounds...which is where I my hope lies. If I can keep my kids working in and out of class they can make differences in their lives in spite of their culture at home. There were no college graduates in my house growing up and I did it. I always tell my students and will continue to do so: You either let your past define you forever or you move on and become the person you want to be in life! I know it's not that are up against much more than I ever was growing up, but sometimes their past becomes an excuse. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Clicker Training

A colleague I work with called me today and asked if I wanted to go to "Clicker Training" with her at the end of the month. First thing that came to mind was the clicker training I did with Pawky (dog) a few years ago. I instantly imagined clicking a hand held remote and having my students answering questions, speaking and sitting when I wanted them to...a Pavlovian dream! I was close...apparently each student receives a clicker, the teacher asks them multiple-choice questions (test, practice, etc.) and then the student clicks their response. The teacher and the student do not know if they are correct, but the information is sent to the computer and both class and teacher see the results. I think it's sort of polling the audience. I use white boards to ask test questions usually, but I can definitely see the potential in these clickers. The kids will like the upgraded technology and they will be a lot less messy. Their about $2,000 a set and free (to me) if I attend the training, so I can't really lose. I will let you know how it goes! Here's a link to a video on the bottom I found explaining the clickers a little better. College professors are using these because they are lecture based and are realizing the new undergraduates need more interaction. It's about time colleges started to reform their education! Most students do not learn by lecture alone!
Here's the link:
A little boring, but good information!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Work outfit!?

I love this jacket from Ruche. It could definitely work as a jacket for school. Okay, I admit I'm spending more time on the internet looking at clothes than doing anything productive. Oh well, it's summer vacation...and it's a beautiful jacket.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Vacation

Today feels like the official first day of summer vacation even though it's really the fourth or fifth. Husband and I went to Boston right after I finished with the school year for our anniversary/vacation. I love being on vacation, but there's something about being home while not working. I slept until 10 a.m. this morning because we got in so late last night from quite the ordeal at the airport. I'm still exhausted, but thankful to be home safely on the ground.
Before I left for Boston I cleaned out my classroom a bit and took some pictures. I want to redo the seating chart and the decorations for next fall, so any input will be helpful!

This summer I want to sew some organizers for my papers, find a new way to display student work, maybe make some curtains for the windows and do something with the cabinets/counter that will make it look nicer! Suggestions?! Please!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Last Weekend!

This is the last weekend before school is finished! I'm very excited to have an entire summer ahead of me to travel, sew and plan for next school year.
My husband was gone this weekend, so I watched some television he won't watch like the Real Housewives of New York City (love it!) and shopped. I am also proud to say I bought zero school clothes! I did buy a metal crate for work handed in late though. One of by biggest pet peeves is when students hand me their late work in the middle of class. With all the other stuff I do, I invariably put it on my desk (a sea of papers) or on top of my overhead cart (a sea of papers). I haven't yet lost a student's work, but I have definitely, temporarily misplaced it. I have a big basket for student's work now, but they seem to think it's a "catch-all" because of it's size. I saw this one at Target and it reminded me of an old shopping cart, plus it's smaller and will fit there work much more neatly than the other basket.
I also purchased a three ring binder to help me organize all the recipes I tear out of magazines. I made Real Simple's Leek and Corn Fettucini this week and the Potato Bacon Salad this weekend. Both were great, with very subtle, but fantastic flavors!

Finally, I finished a book called "Why Don't Student's Like School" by Daniel T. Willingham. He is a cognitive psychologist, so his work was based more on the thought processes of students. I found myself wanting more practical application to his theories, but it was still very interesting. He argues that students need questions about a lesson to be interested in a lesson. It makes complete sense, but pushing students to ask these questions or creating a question for the students was not fully addressed. I try to ask questions to students in their daily Bellwork, but they do not always push the student to be interested in the topic, something I will definitely need to continue to improve on next year.
One of the other chapters that captivated me was about Gardner's multiple intelligences. He argues Gardner's original intention was to target students' multiple talents. Teachers should not be expected to appeal to all multiple intelligences, but focus more on the cognitive aspect of the material and the meta-cognitive process within students. If we help students master their thought process their natural talents/intelligence will emerge.
The last chapter encouraged teachers to observe one another which I have been pushing all year. I will definitely try to implement a department wide program next year if possible.
Anyways, I look forward to next week and will try to keep the blog updated!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Changes

I decided to start a new blog because I was not keeping up with my first try, "Camino Luz." When I started the blog I was traveling around the United States and the world while my husband was stationed in Korea for a year. I had time to sew, time to read, time to shop...too much time on my hands. I left Korea in August to move to Shreveport, Louisiana (our next Air Force assignment) to find a job teaching. I was hired two days before the school year started and began teaching American and World History full time. That has been my life this year. I wake up at 5:42 a.m., get to school by 7:15 a.m. and work until 4:30 p.m. on average. I typically bring assignments home to grade or lessons to plan each night, usually adding an additional two hours to my workday. This is the catch though: I love it. I love my job. There are days when I want to pull my hair out because of kids being disrespectful or rude, but most days I simply love what I am doing.
So...this new blog will be about teaching, the books I read concerning education (and otherwise), some crafting/sewing, lesson plans and maybe some personal stuff here and there. I'm really excited about this new adventure and I hope you are too!