Saturday, November 9, 2013

What We've Been Up To

Let's just say that I'm really good at letting everything else get in the way of some leisure time, but I promise P and I are still around exploring our new roots in Des Moines. 

Here's what we've been up to: 

Center Grove Pumpkin Patch

A few weeks ago P, his mom and I had the opportunity to go back to one of my favorite places, Center Grove Orchard to explore their pumpkin patch.  Instead of coming back with just one pumpkin a piece, we might have gone a little crazy... 

Patrick and his mom Patty with their specially selected pumpkins.

The haul of pumpkins we came home with

Huddling behind a haybale.  It might have been a little cold and windy...

Hawkeye Football Game

I will still always have an attachment to Iowa City and a fondness for calling it "home."  I love the fact that it isn't a far trip to meet my parents in Iowa City to watch a game.  Although we were freezing until the sun came out the 4th quarter, we certainly had a lot of fun.  

Herky has a secret - he's Batman...

Free pom poms always make your day a little brighter. 
Freezing at the game and wearing a hand felted flower that I picked up at the Des Moines Farmer's Market.  It might have be a pin, but with a few bobby pins no one ever knew that it wasn't meant to be a hair accessory.

Crafting with Friends

I love the fact that we finally live close enough to our friends and family that we can spend time together again.  My beautiful friend Cindy had the BEST idea of hosting a pumpkin themed craft night.  I might have spent two hours mod podging sequins onto my pumpkin... 

The girls and I before the crafting began. 
Our finished pumpkins.  We clearly like a little sparkle.  
My finished pumpkin. 

Let's see if I can blog proactively before Thanksgiving and Christmas... no promises... :)

"Killer Breakfast" Vampire Doughnut Tutorial

So, clearly this post is a little late, but hey... I've been busy! 

Since I work at a school/ residential treatment facility for adjudicated male youth, the students that I work with don't get to see their families very frequently.  This fact really seems to affect the boys around holidays, so, some of the other staff and I like to do something to make the holidays a little more special. 

First, I do NOT take credit for this idea.  I ran across a picture showing a similar doughnut idea while I was scrolling through Pinterest (as I do more frequently than I would like to admit) posted by a cute little blog called Lovezilla.  Check it out for a billion cute ideas. 

Here's my take on how to make these "killer" little doughnuts. 

-plastic vampire teeth, 1 per doughnut (I purchased mine for 20 cents a piece at a local pop-up Halloween shop) 
-plain M&Ms (I used green and red ones) 
-glazed doughnuts (I picked up a few boxes of the simple glazed yeast doughnuts from Walmart)

Honestly, this is the simplest fun treat you will ever make. 

1. Grab a doughnut
2. Stick some vampire teeth in the hole of the doughnut
3. Add M&M eyeballs
4. Take to your students and enjoy!

Take a peek at how mine turned out!!!

Now, yes... I know I teach students between the ages of 12 and 19, but they still enjoy a little bit of holiday whimsy and a chance to eat some junk food for breakfast. 


Writing and Conducting an Interview - Handout and Lesson Ideas

I have the unique opportunity to be able to teach a Creative Writing class to some students over the lunch block to earn a little additional credit in English/Language Arts.  I like that Creative Writing gives me a broad range of potential teaching topics and allows me to really focus on fun ways I can help my students grow into becoming better writers, but sometimes the vast topic possibilities leave me, well. searching for what to teach next.  

With my school following the Iowa Core (almost identical to the Common Core standards), I felt that it was necessary to address the writing core in my classroom, but speaking and listening core standards as well, thus creating the idea to teach my students how to conduct an appropriate interview.

Let's be real for a second, though  - there are about a million and a half ways that you could frame writing and conducting interviews in a Creative Writing class, but I decided to attempt to make the interview a little more applicable.  That is, I wanted the students to actually be able to interview someone with the intention of gaining knowledge or information about a topic important and beneficial to themselves.  Anyone that has taught teenagers know that whether or not they want to be, there very much are very into themselves, so, I decided to ask my students to create interviews to ask their parents about themselves as part of a memoir unit.

The purpose of the interview was for students to create and conduct appropriate interviews to ask their parents more information about their families, lives, names, or any other topic that the students felt they might be able to include in a short memoir later.  

Once I introduced the topic and began gathering some pre-assessment information, I learned that my students lacked a lot of knowledge about the typical interview process.  I started out by facilitating a conversation about what the students knew about interviews (why we conduct interviews, when interviews are appropriate, what an interview looks like, etc.), then from that conversation we created a list on the whiteboard about the elements they felt that a "good" interview should include.  After creating this list, I showed students the YouTube video Katie Couric on How To Conduct an Interview.  My students needed a little background information on Katie Couric to understand why she was an appropriate authority on conducting interviews.  After watching the video, asked the students to help adapt the list of elements that a "good" interview should have. 

To show my students an example of what an interview looked like, I showed them the YouTube video @katiecouric: Drake , a video of Katie Couric conducting an interview with music artist, Drake.  My students were pretty intrigued and are still continuing to ask if they can watch another interview with someone like Drake. 

SO, after talking about interviews and how to conduct them, and watching an interview, I wanted the students to actually write one.  My class really struggles with getting started if I present them with a "blank page" moment, so I whipped up a quick graphic organizer to help the students create a rough draft of the interview they were going to create. 

The graphic organizer provides reminders that students should ask open-ended questions, make their interview conversational, and explain why they are conducing the interview to the interviewee.  If you're interested in picking up your own copy, click your way to my Teachers Pay Teacher's store to snag one for your class.  (Psssst... there's a preview below!)

After students completed their rough drafts on the graphic organizer, I split students into pairs to role play their interviews.  If any parts of the role play interview weren't quite right, the students had the opportunity to edit their graphic organizers.  Once all of the editing was complete, I asked the students to write the final copy of their interview on a separate sheet of paper.

I hope these ideas work as well for you as they did for me!  If you implement these ideas in your classroom, shoot me a comment to tell me how it went.

Happy Teaching!  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Current Indie Obssessions

Uggghhhh... It has been so long since I have taken the time to write a blog post, so here it is, albeit long overdue. 

It seems like in the last year I've taken a break from music.  Throughout college I spent a decent amount of time exploring new artists and songs that I liked, but after starting a "real world job" a lot of that went to the wayside.  In the last few days, I've decided to get back into that music exploration. 

Here's a list of a few of my new found obsessions.  Enjoy!  

1. Lorde - Royals 

I know that everyone has heard this song and it's been viciously overplayed, but how can you not love letting this tune get stuck in your head?  

2. Pacific Air - Float 

Pacific Air is actually a band that I discovered in Tucson while attending a Ra Ra Riot concert with a friend.  As much as I loved Ra Ra Riot, Pacific Air was an exceptional opener.

3. Tune-Yards - Gangsta 

Because the best bands are always discovered while listening to NPR...

4. Max Frost - White Lies 

LOVE his gnarly voice

5. Joywave - Tongues ft. Kopps 

A fun vocal electronica tune that will stick in your head all day. 

6. Tove Lo - Habits 

Gritty, a little cliche, and somewhat raunchy, but I'm intrigued by the improvement on the Kesha-esque image. 

7. Disclosure - White Noise 

The perfect upbeat background electronic for a workout. 

8. Lana Del Rey - Diet Mountain Dew 

Ok, so maybe this isn't a new obsession, but it's another song that continues to pop into my list of favorites. 

9. Youth Lagoon - Dropla 

The perfect background sound that fits in splendidly with the rest of my more mellow songs. 

10. Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell 

Again, maybe not the newest song, but still remains one of my favorites - plus, they're amazing live.