Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Her School Year 14-15 Reflections

Summer is in full swing - I have gotten into a good rhythm with my days of leisure (as Sean calls them). Last week I blogged about my goals for summer vacation; you can read them here. This week I am going to reflect on the 2014-2015 school year - focusing on what I would like to do differently next year. Thank you Mrs. D at Mrs. D's Corner for hosting this cool linkup. 

I had a class website that I LOVED, but my school system took down the server that it was run through so I had to go hunting for another site. I used Google Sites for a while, but wasn't a fan. It was a little boring and a little blah. Later this summer I am going to a training on Weebly, so my fingers are crossed that will be my new website. 

We got a brand new building last year and unpacked in August when we went back to school. It became a fast and furious race to get ready and some things did not get done. For example, my filing cabinet. Everything is in it but it isn't very well organized. I want to go in one day this summer and get that done. It will be such a relief.
I also need to organize my desk. Again, in August, stuff got thrown into it and it worked for the year, but I want it to be more organized this coming year.
My Guided Reading table was new to me - as was Guided Reading. I have a plan for organizing that spot in my room and the materials I need while there. It's going to be great!

I talked about this last week with my summer goals, but I only really have one big thing that I want to do this summer in regards to content and that is change up my English homework. For a few years now I have been doing weekly journal assignments with the essay prompts that Virginia has put out. Then I found a TPT product that is amazing for context clues. Then I discovered that my students need more work with analogies. So the plan is to combine all three into a weekly homework assignment that includes a journal, a page of context clues practice, and an analogy. It will be so much easier if I can get it done over the summer, rather than scrambling during the school year.

My Big Summer Project:
I kinda love that my big summer project is not school related. My friends and I are knitting an afghan together with about 40 other women and men, run through our favorite local yarn store. Each month the square is connected to a Sherlock Holmes story. We knit the square and read the story on our own. Then we come together to discuss the knitting and the story. It's like a knitting book club. I'm loving it! May's square was really hard so I fell behind, but I am rapidly catching up with all this summer knitting time I have. My goal is to be finished with May, June, July, and August's squares by the time I go back to school.

Do you have any changes or adjustments that you want to make for next school year? I would love to hear about them so I can possibly steal borrow those ideas. ;)

Happy Reflecting,

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Her TBT: Apple Picking

Angela at The Teacher's Desk 6 is hosting a Throwback Thursday linky party. The rules are simple - choose a previous blog post and re-post it.

Usually I choose a post of Sean's to share as our TBT post, but today I am sharing one of mine. Fall is my favorite season - it's absolutely no contest with the others. I love the crisp weather, the changing leaves, and the holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving). Summer is great because of my time away from school, but it is my least favorite season because of the heat. What better way to beat the heat then to reminisce about a fall activity and dream of cooler weather. Enjoy!

Two years ago, Sean and I were visiting friends in the mountains of Virginia and I decided I wanted to go apple picking. I had never done this before and thought it sounded like fun. We searched and talked to our friends and we chose Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, which is almost next door to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's house). We went and had a blast so I decided that this fall we had to go back and pick more apples! 

When we arrived, it was bumper to bumper traffic climbing the hill/driveway. I could not get over how many people were there. 

Kristin, my good friend, and I love Fuji apples and that was one of the options to pick this past weekend. We were both excited but to get to the Fuji apples you had to climb up a mountain with three switchbacks. We grabbed our bags and off we climbed.

Picking apples is not a super fun and exciting event. But it is fun to walk down the row of trees, try to spot the perfect apple, then pick that "just right" one to take home. I love it! Our friends loved it too I think.

Sean and I ended up with 12 beautiful (and tasty!) Fuji apples. We also stopped by the store on the way out and got some apple butter for me and my parents. I love apple butter and there is just something wonderful and apple butter that is made with three ingredients - apple, water, and spices. Yum yum!!

I am almost sad now that we are not going back to the mountains before apple picking season is over. I would so go again later this month when Pink Ladies are available at the orchard. Oh well, I guess I can wait until next year!

This is one of my favorite photos of us ever! :)


This summer weather is way too hot for me, but when that fall breeze picks up again, I will be back at the apple orchard picking apples. Something to dream about during these hot summer months.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Her Summer Bucket List 2015

It's summer-summertime! I love, love, love not having a set schedule, not having to set an alarm in the morning, not having to grade papers, and not being so stressed all the time. I am so excited about summer!

Natalie at What the Teacher Wants is hosting a Summer Bucket List linky party. I always set goals for myself over the summer and this seemed like the perfect way to do it this year.

I was introduced to the book "Learn Like a Pirate" by Paul Solarz through the Runde's Room blog. A bunch of teacher bloggers are doing a book study this summer and I am joining in. I can't wait to get started!
I had an epiphany at the end of the year about how I wanted to run my English homework throughout the 2015-2016 school year. I think it is going to be so much better! I will blog about it once I am done.
I give my students the option of extra credit each month, but it needs to be reworked. I want to tackle that over the summer because the school year is so crazy. I have good intentions, but not enough time.

I always set a workout goal for myself and I don't always meet it. This year I am using my Wii to help me meet my goal. I'm going to alternate between Wii Zumba and EA Sports 30 Day Challenge. 
With the working out, I want to track all of my food in MyFitnessPal. I horribly underestimate calories when I do it on my own. MFP really helps me keep things in perspective.
I have been seriously slacking with my personal reading. I used to read 70 books a year. Now I am reading about 20. Crazy! I am hoping to read 5 books over the summer and I have them all chosen. I will blog about them later this summer.
There are so many WIPs (Work in Progresses) in my knitting world. I am ready for some things to come off the needles. My goal is to finish at least 3 WIPs and make some progress on my Sherlock Afghan. Lofty goals, but I am hopeful.

Shellie and Tim will be here in exactly four weeks. I am about to jump out of my skin I am so excited - I won't, because that's gross, but I am so ready for them to be here! We are planning a week in New York City and Washington, DC. We are also going to do the tourist thing around home. So ready!!!

Pretty big goals for the summer, but I think I can do it. I will revisit them in August to let you know how I did.

What are your plans for the summer? 

Happy Summer,

Monday, June 15, 2015

Her What Works: The iHeart Radio App

Each Monday I share something that is working for me. It could be health related, a new product, or something completely random that I am loving. I just want to share what I have found that is working for me and will, hopefully, work for you too.

Sean made a cute button for it --- 

Want to share in this idea with us? Grab the button, link back to our blog, and share away. I think this would be a pretty cool linkup, full of ways of making life easier, more fun, more enjoyable, more...whatever! :)

A few years ago I was all about the Pandora Radio app. I loved using it to listen to music on my phone and iPad. Then I heard about a different radio app - iHeart Radio! It is so much better. Let me tell you how ---

Let's get our music on! ;)
When you open the app,  it shows a screen of channels you have listened to before if you are a returning listener. You can listen to radio channels from all over the country or channels that are specific music genres, artists, or time periods. I have found some great channels just by browsing the app.
They all look good to me! :)
My absolute favorite thing about this app and the reason that I deleted Pandora and won't go back, is the "Perfect for" feature of iHeart Radio. All throughout the day, they have different Perfect for options. This morning, this is what I saw.
I almost picked Road Trip just to see what would come up. Looked fun!
The Kids channels are fun - I've listened to them while playing with my niece. The Working Out channels are upbeat and motivating. My favorite channel that I cannot get enough of and listen to every time I open the app I found because I opened the app one morning and found a "Perfect for Getting Ready" station called Singing in the Shower. It is music from all genres, all time periods, that are fun and impossible to not sing along to.
You can "like" and "dislike" songs to help the app learn your tastes. After using it for a few months, I rarely have to hit dislike anymore.

Are you an iHeart Radio listener? What channels are your favorite? If you haven't tried this app yet, I think you should. I bet you will find something you love!

Happy Monday, 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

His and Her TBT: Vulcan Masaya

Angela at The Teacher's Desk 6 is hosting a Throwback Thursday linky party. The rules are simple - choose a previous blog post and re-post it.
For a while, we did Travel Reviews every Monday on the blog. We loved sharing our travels with you guys. This one was posted in February of 2014, originally, and is a favorite memory for both Sean and I. Enjoy this active volcano and photos of a much younger Sean and Amanda. hehe

Welcome to the Masaya Volcano.
We were sitting in church one Sunday morning, back in 2003, when they announced that there was an informational meeting for anyone interested in going on a mission trip to Nicaragua after the service. I paid it no attention, but I was taken to the meeting as Amanda had a big interest in going. After listening to the information that was given to us, we talked about it and we decided to go. I had no clue where Nicaragua was and originally thought it was in Africa but then found out it was in central America between Costa Rica and Honduras.

Old lava rock on the outside of the volcano cone.  
We had a great time at the camp where we helped with painting, construction, a basic medical clinic and bible school for the local children. One of the highlights of the trip happened the day before we flew back to the United States; we toured the capital city, Managua, and visited an active volcano. Neither of us had ever seen an active volcano and were looking forward to the experience. I had always wanted to visit a volcano, but was always worried that it would be too dangerous. We figured this is probably as safe as you can get, as it had been a long time since its last eruption. After a 4 hour bus ride we saw the sign for the national park and the bus started the long climb to the top.

We were told about the history of the volcano and that, although it was an active volcano, it had not erupted in over a century.
Steam rising from the crater of the volcano.
There was no guarantee of seeing lava but it was visible on occasion. Once we got to the top of the volcano, we had some free time to view the crater and we were given evacuation instructions in case the volcano decided to erupt or the sulphur levels got too high. We both went over to the crater to see if we could see any lava and although there was plenty of smoke (with a lovely sulphur smell as well) there was no lava visible. It was obvious that it was still very active due to the amount of smoke rising from the crater. After a while we all climbed onto the bus and then headed down to the city for our tour. It was a great experience and was a great way
Crater of the volcano.
to see just how powerful nature can be. I would love to see another volcano one day and hopefully one that has some lava to complete the experience. If you ever get a chance to see an active volcano I highly recommend it.

Our first summer mission trip to Nicaragua was an incredible, eye-opening, and heart-changing experience. We are so grateful for that opportunity. Being able to tour some of the sights of Nicaragua was a beautiful bonus. Masaya looked in the distance like a mountain, but as we climbed we could see the hardened lava rock and we could see the smoke pluming from the crater. Standing on the edge, looking down at the smokey center, and thinking about the last time it erupted when thousands died was an awe-inspiring experience. We did not see lava, but we smelled the sulfur. Not having volcanoes anywhere near home, made this a unique experience for both of us. It is, hands-down, one of the coolest things we have been able to visit on our excursions. Here are some more photos - they do not do it justice!

Crater of the volcano

Amanda and I with the crater behind us. Don't we look young?

Top of the volcano (There is a large cross at the top that is barely visible in this photo)
Tourists looking at the crater of the volcano

Group photo at the volcano.

Painting of the volcano erupting in the volcano museum.

Have you ever visited an active volcano? Share that story with us in the comments or on Facebook.


Our Nicaragua trips were life-changing for both of us. We consider ourselves blessed to have been able to take those trips. 

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Her Learn Like a Pirate Book Study

I follow several bloggers who are doing a book study on the book Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz. I have been intrigued about this book and his other, Teach Like a Pirate. I ordered the book this past weekend and cannot wait to get started.

I understand the importance of collaborative groups in both Civics and English class, but I will admit that I am a complete Type-A/OCD personality in the classroom. It's hard to relinquish that control and turn the learning over to the students - despite the fact that I know for authentic learning to occur, that is exactly what I need to do.

I am loving the idea of this book study and this book. I can't wait for the book to get here so I can get started. Want to join? Head to Amazon for your copy and The Primary Gal's blog to link up.

What are your initial thoughts about this book and the idea behind it?

Happy Reading and Learning,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

His: Living in America - Confusion in the Cereal Aisle

On my first visit to a supermarket in America I was a little surprised to see that we had many of the same breakfast cereals. What I wasn't prepared for was even though they looked the same and had the same mascots they had totally different names. Below are some of the more well known ones that have different names.

 Rice Bubbles / Rice Krispies
Snap, Crackle and Pop adorn the front of the box in both countries. In Australia they are known as Rice Bubbles and in America they are called Rice Krispies.

Coco Pops / Cocoa Krispies
In Australia the chocolate coated version of the rice cereal is known as Coco Pops and has a monkey as the mascot. In Americathey are called Cocoa Krispies and have Snap, Crackle and Pop as the mascots.

Frosties / Frosted Flakes
Tony the Tiger has been the mascot for both countries for decades. In Australia they are known as Frosties, probably because we love making names shorter. In America they are called Frosted Flakes.

Sultana Bran / Raisin Bran
The dried fruit that goes into this cereal are known as sultanas in Australia and raisins in America. This is why the cereals are known by different names in the two countries.

Nutri Grain Cereal / Nutri Grain Bars.
Nutri Grain is a popular cereal in Australia but is not found in America. In America the Nutri Grain name is also owned by Kelloggs but is used to market cereal bars and not a breakfast cereal. The cereal in Australia tastes vaguely like Honey Nut Cheerios.
I may be missing others but these are the ones that came to mind. Which names do you like better?  What is your favourite breakfast cereal? 

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