Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dear Students, Never feel like you have to be Miley Cyrus.

Dear Students,

Never feel like you have to be Miley Cyrus. You can be so much more than this.

You guys are all on your own journeys through life. It is yours and yours alone. Your journey will take you through twists and turns, through storms and sunshine, to the most beautiful highs and the most desperate lows. The journey is yours, and I urge you to make it yours. I encourage you to take chances, to not fear failure, to love deeply, and to live happily. More importantly, though, I urge you to take paths that will lead to a better you, and to never give up your self-respect. I'm a firm believer that you cannot possibly love others well until you love yourself well.

While I agree that she has certainly taken a risk, and I agree that she is an adult and can make her own decisions, Miss Cyrus's recent VMA extravaganza proves to me, if nothing else, that she does not have much respect left for herself or her art. While there are always those who disagree, I do think that Miley Cyrus has talent, but I also think that, at least at this point in her life, she is choosing to waste it. Miley is not doing a novel thing here; her behavior is reminiscent of a small child willing to do anything to get an ounce of attention. If her goal was to just get people to talk about her, she's done that, but what a sad, sad thing for a twenty-year-old girl to reach out for all of this negative attention. I honestly don't think I've read or heard a single positive thing about this fiasco.

So, let's talk about you. You are amazing people with bright futures ahead of you, but you need to invest in that bright future. You have the potential to change the world, but you don't need a trashy cry for help to do it. Miley Cyrus should not be a role model for you. She isn't being edgy, or tough, or sexy, or a total badass. Hell, she isn't even behaving much like an adult. She's just dying for the spotlight, and she'll get it however she can. A certain foam finger has proven that.

You might know people who behave this way, who will do anything, who will give up anything, just to be the center of attention. There will be girls out there who want to model themselves after Miley, down to the tongue hanging out and the ill-fitting nude two-piece. Girls, resist. Remember what it means to be a strong woman, not a trashy chick with no self-respect. There will be guys out there who will talk about how smokin' hot it is for girls to be overtly sexual, who will talk about wanting "a piece of that." Guys, resist. Remember what it means to be a strong man, not a pathetic jerk who dehumanizes women.

Seriously, it's about self respect. It's about loving yourself and taking care of yourself. I can't imagine that Miley Cyrus is feeling a whole lot of love right now, and it's because she doesn't love herself enough to make good choices.

Want to respect a celebrity? Respect Adele. She doesn't feel the need to take off her clothes or do outrageous gimmicks to earn our love. She's classy. She loves herself, her body, and her art, and that's what people love about her.


Respect Neil Patrick Harris, who is perfectly comfortable in his own skin and proves it every time he walks out the door with his partner, David Burtka, and his beautiful children.

Respect Matt Damon, because that guy respects teachers and he's not backing down on what he believes!

Respect Natalie Portman, an actress who embraces her intelligence. She published a research paper in a scientific journal in 2002 while at Harvard, for Pete's sake!


And respect Ashton Kutcher, because that guy had some wise words for teenagers like you during his acceptance speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards (skip ahead to 1:35 to avoid listening to screaming teenage girls).

If you want to be "sexy" you don't have to twerk onstage. You don't have to prance around in a ridiculous costume. You don't have be so disgusting that the entire Smith family is revolted while watching you.

Will Smith and his kids watching Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. Classic Fresh Prince of Bel Air right there.

You just have to be really smart. And you have to respect yourself.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quick Note About 2013-2014 Calendar Pack

Hey Guys,
It was brought to my attention that the Word version of my free 2013-2014 calendar pack was messed up. I double-checked and realized that the font change (I used a specialty font when I created it) caused some of the dates to be messed up. I sincerely apologize for that. The 2013-2014 calendar is still available, but until I can figure out that issue, it is only available in PDF form. Everything should look correct that way. You can download the calendar and many other free templates by clicking the "Free Templates for You!" tab at the top of this webpage. Thanks to Jillian for letting me know about this issue!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Week Back and August Giveaway!

Hey guys! I'm finally back after a whirlwind first week back to school. There are all kinds of things at home I should be doing, but I need this day to recharge. I love getting back into my routine, but the adjustment from summer life to normal life usually takes a little while. I thought it might be entertaining at the least (and helpful at best) to share with you guys the things that I did right to start off my school year and the little failures I had as well.

Let's start with the fun stuff... the failures. :P

  • I definitely did not buy enough groceries to make my lunches for the week. I don't know what I was thinking! By Friday, I was eating a granola bar for lunch.
  • I went to bed late Monday night. Tuesday we had professional development and meetings... for five hours. Guess who probably wasn't as alert as she should have been? This girl right here.
  • I completely forgot to have my students say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning this week. I'm going to have to assign a kid to be our Pledge leader, because Mrs. Richardson is obviously not capable of remembering this daily detail.
  • I wore a sleeveless dress and a cute bright green cardigan on the first day of school. It was not only a very cute outfit that actually showed a bit of my personality, but it also looked very classy and professional. Sounds like a good thing, yes? Okay, my classroom, for the first time in history, was a million freakin' degrees on the first day of school. So guess who had to wear her cardigan all day long in the swampy environment of her classroom because she was wearing a sleeveless dress? That would be me... the one with a serious case of swamp boob by the end of the day. (too much information?)
  • I wore high heels on Friday. I don't usually wear heels to work, and I should have known better than to wear them during the first week, because I'm not quite used to being on my feet all day long again. I feel like I should clarify why I decided this. A few weeks ago I got a pixie haircut (which, by the way, is maybe the best decision I've ever made regarding my hair). It's super cute, but you really have to dress up a pixie haircut to maintain a certain sense of femininity. Friday, I wore my staff polo shirt (black) and khaki slacks. With my androgynous outfit and my black-framed glasses, I was sporting a not-so-feminine look that I didn't want to work with so early in the school year. I decided to class up my outfit with dangly silver earrings and the heels. The earrings were a yes. The heels led to a day of blisters and band-aids.
  • I didn't do my homework about Edmodo. Have you guys heard of Edmodo? It's a classroom website/network and I got super excited about it and I just jumped right in face first and set up my Edmodo classrooms and thought this was going to be the best thing since sliced bread to ever happen to my classroom. (This is extremely uncharacteristic of me, by the way. I'm the person who will deliberate for twenty minutes over which brand of cheese I should buy. I did research for four weeks before deciding to cut off my hair. I'm in the midst of deciding if I'm going to buy this cute pair of boots I saw in the store three weeks ago.) It turns out that our school computers hate Edmodo, approximately 30%(!!!) of my students don't have internet or computer access at home, and a teacher in the building had major issues with Edmodo in the past and apparently the "next big thing" is called My Big Campus. I've already been fielding parent phone calls over this whole thing. Tell you what, I'm about over the whole virtual classroom craze at this point, and I love virtual worlds! I blog, for Pete's sake! But seriously, this is dumb. Just let me teach in my classroom. Amen.
Now for the things that make me proud... the things I actually did right!
  • I made all of my copies for the first two weeks of school before we started back. I spent a ton of time in my classroom over the last several weeks and, even though I was banging my head against the copy machine a couple weeks ago, I did not have to make any last minute copies. This is a major success in my book.
  • I did my usual first day of school seating arrangement, and it worked like a charm. This year was the a record for me... fastest time taking attendance on the first day.
  • I let the kids pick their seats (for now) and instead of passing around the chart and letting them write their names in the correct spot, I took the time to make eye contact with each kid, look at their face, and write their names down on the seating chart. This is already helping me learn their names faster.
  • I'm going to tentatively say that my new Writer's Workshop program this year will be a success. I'm already seeing good signs. (I pinkie promise I will write about this very, very soon.)
  • My room is a well-oiled machine, better than ever before. It was so easy to maneuver around my classroom! I knew exactly where everything was, the layout of the room is comfortable, and it's generally just a pretty happy room to be in. I'm very pleased with my classroom at this point (exceptforthebackcabinetsbutIdontwannatalkaboutit).
  • I have the entire 1st quarter of the school year planned down to the day. My Friday prep for the upcoming week was exceptionally easy yesterday. Boo yah!
  • I arrived to school early every day this week. This, my friends, is a major accomplishment.
  • I ate breakfast every day except Wednesday, and that's because I had the first-day-of-school jitters. (Do you guys still get those??)
  • I have been much more sociable than usual with my coworkers, which is a big deal for this introvert.
  • I did not spill any food or drink on myself at work this week. Not even once. It's sad that I'm proud of this.

I think the year is off to a great start! I'm already particularly excited about the group of freshmen I have this year. They are enthusiastic, creative, and chatty. That's the way I like 'em!

And now for the giveaway!

Even though I'm back at it, lots of you lucky readers still have summer left! I've got a giveaway for August, and it's something a little different. For those of you who are still preparing for your school year, why don't you class things up a notch with some unique items from Etsy? Let me show you some Etsy finds for teachers that I'm loving right now.

Adhesive Chalkboards
Monthly Calendar Chalkboard Wall Decal

Classroom Sign

Teachers Plant Seeds That Grow Forever

Personalized Teacher Notepads

Hall Passes

Customized Teacher Stamps

Coffee Lovers Unite - Caffeine Molecule Tote Bag

Monogrammed Canvas Tote Bag

Custom Name Notebook

I don't know about you guys,but I would love to have every single one of these items, and tons of others! (Y'know, in case you are someone who wants to give me things. I hope my husband reads this...) 

A $25 Etsy Gift Card
You are on your way to adding some class to your class!

Your name can be entered twice in this giveaway!
Ways to Enter:
1. Leave a blog post comment telling us your funniest teaching moment.
2. Create a Facebook status including #EatWriteTeach. (If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.)

Convinced yet? Join the giveaway fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy teaching!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Year's Eve


My 2013-2014 school year officially begins tomorrow, which makes today the real New Year's Eve. I've been partying it up today, too. I slept in late, didn't work out this morning, I'm wearing blue jeans and Chuck Taylor knock-offs, I drank a soda with lunch, and I'm not planning on doing anything school-related for the rest of the day. I probably won't stay up until midnight tonight, but maybe I'll drink a glass of bourbon bubbly chocolate milk before calling it a night at 10:30.

Back in January, I shared my 13 for '13, which were my thirteen resolutions for 2013 (most of which are going fairly well, I'm pleased to say). Any teacher knows, though, that the beginning of the school year is the real time for change, so I want to share my School Year Resolutions with you. Some of these are old standbys that I try to live by daily, while some of these are things I'm really going to have to push myself to do.

To those of you who use PicMonkey for your photo editing needs, they now have a school theme!

1. Have some form of breakfast every single day.
2. No working during lunch break. This must be a time to recharge.
3. Avoid making copies frantically five minutes before class starts.
4. Arrive to work no later than 7:45 each day (I'm required to be there by 8:00).
5. It's okay to be busy, but it is not okay to burn your candle at both ends. I will try to better balance my work life with my outside-of-work life.
6. Turn in your attendance! (I'm notoriously terrible at remembering this, and that's not good.)
7. Make the most out of every single day and every single class period.
8. Become a bigger part of school culture. Attend more events (but don't risk breaking resolution #5).
9. Smile often and maintain a high level of enthusiasm.
10. Be tough as nails the first couple of weeks of school, then ease up later.
11. Avoid negativity in the building!
12. Be a game-changer for students. Empathize with them, advocate for them, and make them feel important every day.
13. Just breathe and eat that elephant one bite at a time.

Do you have any resolutions for your upcoming school year? What will you be working on?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Screen Capture for Windows: A Quick Tutorial

I'm a visual learner, so I also tend to be a pretty visual teacher. I had a comment from Renaissance Teacher on my Pacing Guides post asking me about screen capturing. This is one of those little computer tricks that is extremely simple and comes in handy a lot more often than you would think! Here's just a quick little tutorial (with pictures) about screen capturing.

Screen capturing (also known as "printing your screen") is a quick little trick that basically takes a picture of everything that is on your screen. You can then paste that picture into a Word document or wherever. Here is an exact screen capture of what I'm doing right now.

A little Pinterest, a little Facebook... that's pretty much what my tabs always look like. :)

As you can see, it's a picture of my computer, including the tabs at the top and the bar at the bottom.

As I shared in my last post, I use this little screen capture tool to help make my pacing guides. I start by opening the PDF document of our school corporation calendar. I zoom in or out on the screen to best display what I want to capture, and then I hit the Prnt Scrn key on my computer keyboard. You will likely be able to find this button somewhere above or around your Backspace key.

On a desktop computer keyboard
On a laptop computer keyboard (it will be somewhere in this vicinity)
Now, open up a Word document and click Paste (or Ctrl + V). Your screen shot should appear in your document.

Yeah, I still have Word 2007 on my laptop. Don't judge me.

Ta-da! You have a picture of your screen, and you can manipulate it like a picture. The first thing I always do when manipulating a picture in Word is to change the text wrapping. Double-click the picture, find the icon of the little dog on the horizontal striped background (labeled Text Wrapping) and choose In Front of Text for the most flexibility.

Once I've done that, I crop the picture. Choose the Crop tool and drag the sides and corners to cut off pieces of the picture.

Now that I've got half of the calendar like I want it, I can plug it into my pacing guide!

Yay, screen capture! Seriously, one of my favorite tools on a computer. :)

Update - My friend Ronnie just pointed out that Windows also has a snipping tool. I knew this was available on Macs, but I didn't realize it was also on PC. Just search for "snip" on your PC and you'll likely find it. Definitely a lot easier than all this mess! Thanks, Ronnie. :)

Let me know what other little tricks you guys would like to learn! I'll see what I can come up with for you.