Category Archives: Life

Back to School Shenanigans

15th August 2017

Welcome back teacher friends. I hope that your summer was restful and fun. I know mine was. I can’t believe how fast it went and that my daughter is in KINDERGARTEN and my baby boy is off to DAYCARE. It has been a rocky transition into our new routines (I am teaching 5 classes straight, talk about rocky…) but I think we are finally in the groove now. I will miss hanging all day with these two cuties though…

Well, I am in week three of back to school and there are three things that I am loving so far this school year that I wanted to share: a tool, an idea, and a strategy:

  1. Letsrecap.com

  2. Worst Essay Ever Baseline Essays

  3. My Favorite “No”

1. NEW TOOL – Letsrecap.com

This is going to be a game changer guys, I can just feel it. This website allows you to post a question to a class “Queue” and have the students respond in 15, 30, or 60 second video clips! It also allows them to post a written response, comment on each other’s responses and videos, and allows the videos or written responses to be private as well just to the teacher. Can you tell I am pumped? Last week I rolled this out on a whim after finding it on Pinterest the night before.

My Honors Sophomore students and I had close read the poem “My Mother Pieced Quilts” by Theresa Acosta together as a class under the document camera. But then we had a Chromebook roll out, Link Crew Assembly, and Student Policy contracts all run through ENGLISH CLASSES the rest of the week so it was three days between when I first taught the poem and the class period I wanted to build an analysis lesson off of it. So, I decided to have the students go on a “Walk and Talk” and review the strategies, tone, and theme of the poem with a partner or small group as they walked around the campus. At the end of their walk and talk, I told them they had to post a 30 second video to letsrecap.com (it gives you a login pin when you create the queue) with what they thought was the author’s most effective strategy she used to develop her overall message and why they chose that strategy. They FREAKED OUT. They didn’t want to film themselves but they reluctantly agreed! I told them they had 10 minutes to walk, talk, and post and they needed to be back in class.

When they returned, I told them that based on the strategy they chose for the video they needed to write an analytical statement that connected the strategy to the audience and theme. They got to work right away following the formula I taught them when they returned. They then posted their analysis attempt right under their videos!!! When I went to grade them, I was able to listen to the videos to see where their heads were at and to see if that translated into a written analytical statement. It was fascinating to compare their verbal responses to their written and it was a fun way to break up the normal warm-up routine.

I am also thinking of using this as a way to record a recap of their literature circle warm-ups on their independent novels. Easy to only grade 8 tables videos instead of 34 individual student videos. I highly recommend looking into this – the “how to” video tutorials are also amazing and there are more features that I haven’t even attempted yet!

  1. NEW IDEA – Worst Essay Ever Baseline Essays

Normally I always give a baseline essay prompt to all my classes to see what I am working with this year as far as my student’s skill levels. I think a lot of us do this and I think it is a good teaching practice. However, my colleague ran across this article and it made me stop in my tracks. I thought I would give it a shot with my Honors Sophomore students and boy, was IT A HIT. I gave the students eight sources the night before to read and annotate and told them they would have a timed synthesis baselines essay tomorrow in which they would receive the prompt at the beginning of the hour and would have an hour to finish. They panicked a little but I told them to trust me.

When they entered class the next day and grabbed the prompt that said: “using at least three sources, answer the prompt by writing the worst essay you have ever written”, they just busted up laughing. I told them they needed to think of five major writing mistakes and incorporate them strategically into their essay of at least four paragraphs. They were energized, smiling, and ready to write —- who knew?

However, halfway through writing it they were struggling. I was hearing, “this is harder than I thought” and “my brain is fighting itself.” Which is exactly what I wanted. The next day, they presented their essays to their teams and then completed the reflection included in the blog post article link above. They had to really think through what good writing is in order to be able to break the rules in a horrible essay. I then gave them the real prompt and told them they had two days to type it and submit it to turnitin.com. They were much more ready to write after reviewing what NOT TO DO and the typed essays still needed work but weren’t the result of summer brain.

  1. OLD STRATEGY, NEW USE – My Favorite No

I have used this strategy before but never consistently and so far I have used it twice with my classes this school year and I think I am going to continue it, I am seeing a lot of “light bulbs” go on and improvement in their writing already. Even though this video is a math example, I use it for English when practicing a new type of writing or working through thesis statements, hooks, topic sentences, closures, whatever they are struggling with really.

In this case, I took the analytical statement posts from the letsrecap.com lesson and found my “favorite” – the one that was the closest to what I wanted from them. I then found four or five that were my “favorite no’s” – the ones that made the mistakes that most of the partner pairs made and that I wanted to review so that they could correct them. I copied them into a Google Doc and then commented on what I would change or fix. I posted this to Google Classroom and also went over it in class and talked them through them (especially some of my more snarky comments since they don’t really know that they are from a loving place yet).

They were laughing at their mistakes and nodding their heads in my responses and comments. I also allowed them to rewrite their original analytical statements and post their improved statements based on my feedback to the comments under their original post on letsrecap.com. It was awesome for them to see their video (where the train started), their original post (where the train got off the tracks a bit), and their improved post (where the train arrived at its destination).

These three have really made my missing-my-kiddos-back-to-school-blues vanish. I hope if you need them that they do the same for you!

Education in America: Problem/Solution

2nd February 2017

I have to confess that I have been feeling the dreaded “teacher burnout” lately. This is something that I never thought I would feel. I have always heard and therefore believed that, “if a teacher stays in the field for three years they will teach forever.” And after three years of teaching, I had never felt more fulfilled in my career … until this year – year nine.

This feeling has a lot of contributing factors though: having a new baby and pre-schooler at home, switching schools and districts, being on maternity leave for a good 10 weeks, reading about Finland’s school system, and watching the recent controversy over Betsy DeVos. I am wondering, will I continue to do this? I am feeling exhausted and frankly underappreciated.

I recently gave my students the AP Language prompt about whether or not college is worth the cost. It was one of their first synthesis prompts so I used it as a teaching model and had them work with it as a team creating a poster representation of the sources (the assignment which I took from a GENIUS colleague and thus can’t provide here for you) and their ideas.

While creating these posters, they discussed the sources, found appropriate outside evidence to pair with each source, and then, using Google Docs, wrote some pretty awesome team essays. Team 2 in my 2nd hour wrote this:

“While it may be true that college does manifest unquestionable benefits such as monetary payoff and a wage gap, overall, it is not worth it. Contrary to prominent beliefs, college graduates do not always generate more money than an individual without a degree. On average, in Arizona, a teacher who had to obtain a degree, makes salary of 44,513 dollars a year. While in comparison, a Costco retail store manager, who did not necessarily have to obtain a degree, makes on average 57,233 dollars a year. It is proven that just because one has acquired a college degree, does not mean they are financially superior to someone without a degree. Wage gaps varies with the type of degree someone procures and the field in which they study (Source F).”

Nail-in-burnout-coffin. So, this got me thinking…I want my classes to be rigorous and relevant and what is more relevant than problems with our education system? The students had an interest in this as well and so we went with it.

This quarter, my AP Language and Composition students will be researching a problem with education in America. They will then research all previously tried solutions, ultimately synthesizing these attempts into a viable solution. 

After they wrote the essay on the worth of college, I decided to have them engage in a station rotation activity by watching some TED Talks on education, reading various articles on education with questions to accompany them, and participating in a Socratic seminar (with me at this station) to help generate ideas for their research.

The students then watched and took notes on the documentary Waiting for Superman and afterwards participated in a Socratic Seminar on the film using the documentary, the notes from the station rotation articles and TED Talks, and their own experiences in the educational system as evidence to support their claims.

With all these activities in mind, the students were then ready to create their own “documentary-eske” presentation on one problem and their viable solution.

FOR MATERIALS FROM THIS POST PLEASE CLICK HERE!

I truly hope this burnout will end soon as I do believe that what I do every day does matter. I also believe that the majority of my students will one day be in a place to make a large impact in our society, whether it be as a politician, activist, or teacher.

Maternity Leave

14th November 2016

Hello! Thank you for stopping by! While I am away on maternity leave from having my baby boy, Miles, on September 21, 2016, I thought I would link my three top viewed blog posts below and for anyone with baby fever, a picture of my new little buddy!

I will be back to teaching and blogging in December!

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How Desk Towers Saved My Sanity

Rhetorical Meme Analysis

Teaching Lens Theory

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New Classroom, New Tricks

27th July 2016

Back to school

Classroom Tour

I have to say, I can’t wait to get back to work. My colleagues and I have done so much planning, prepping, creating, and discussing over the summer for our classes that I am so excited to start a new school year and rock 2016-2017! I am returning to my former school this year so I had to move and create a new classroom environment. With the help of friends and family, mainly my mother (love you mom), I am pretty dang proud of my new classroom and am hoping it survives a 12 week maternity leave coming up soon!

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***I plan on using the QR codes on the back of the table numbers to link to my classroom Symbaloo for easy access for students if I need them to go to a video link or get to a Google Doc assignment, etc. 

Cell-Phone Daycare

This year I have decided to update my cell phone daycare from the desk towers to the wall. I saw this happening all over Pinterest and thought that it would be worth a try. I have noticed that my students, especially mid-morning through the rest of the school day, ask to be able to charge their phones in my room. I have always accommodated this request because usually it is 10 more phones I don’t have to worry about them trying to sneak out during a lesson or activity. However, it becomes a little unsightly with phones and cords lining the bottom edges of my classroom. 

With this all in mind, and the help of my hubs to get all the cords and electric stuff correct as not to overload any plugs, I decided to create a “Cell-Phone Daycare” in my own classroom this year with the following policy: 

Each class period, on the daily slide, Mrs. Bingold will indicate if it is a “cell phone on desk” or a “cell phone daycare” day.

If it is a “cell phone daycare” day the student has two options:

  1. To charge his/her phone in Mrs. Bingold’s Cell Phone Daycare (on silent) the entire period.

OR

  1. To keep his/her phone in their backpack (on silent) the entire period.

If the student chooses the “daycare” option they will be allowed to charge their phone during class; however, they will not be able to get their phone from daycare until the end of the class period. The student must provide their own charging cable. Mrs. Bingold and High School are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged cell phones in the cell phone “daycare”. Students are charging their phone and choosing this option at their own risk.

If it is a “cell phone on desk day” the student has two options:

  1. To keep his/her phone face-down (on silent) on their desk until Mrs. Bingold prompts him/her to use phone for educational purposes during class that period.

OR

  1. To keep his/her phone in their backpack (on silent) the entire period.

If the student chooses to keep their phone on the desk they may not use phone during the desk period to play games or browse/post on social media, they may not take or post recordings of still or moving images or voice recordings of students or the teacher to online websites or apps without permission and they must adhere to the BYOT acceptable use agreement and practice internet safety with online resources.

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I am really hoping that this policy will do two things: motivate students to detach from their phones for 55 minutes a day (which many have told me they want but just don’t know how, it has become an addiction for them) and help them stay focused in class, especially during team learning activities.

A couple of things I have to be aware of, although I am sure I am missing something: I cannot make this mandatory for students and I do not want phones easily accessible for others to be able to take and I will need to use the end of class time more wisely in order to send small groups up at a time to retrieve their phones. I am also banking on them being able to charge their phone in class as enough incentive to drop their “little darling” off at my daycare but we will see, it could be a bust! Stay tuned. 

First Day of School Station Rotation

Finally, I would like to share with you my first day of school activity: a station rotation. Now, it probably doesn’t seem too exciting to most but starting the year 8 months pregnant means figuring out ways to not have to stand very long in class but still keep the students engaged. I have to work harder for the teacher “buy-in” this year because I want them to at least sort of get a feel for my class before I leave in September to have my baby boy. 

Students will engage in a station rotation activity the first day of school that will take them through the syllabus at one station, a video at another station, a video response station, an article annotation activity station (sort of a pre-assessment), a get-to-know-you activity station (Six-Word Snapchat), and a get-to-know-the-teacher station (classroom tour and questions).

This activity will introduce the students to each other and to me without having to do the typical ice breakers or my students having to sit through another syllabus being read to them the first day.

My pregnancy waddle and my pregnancy brain might be at an all time high but nevertheless I am hoping my back-to-school excitement in spite of these things shows through to my students and colleagues next week! Happy new school year everyone, it is going to be an wild ride.

7months

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New Adventures

3rd May 2016

adven-216 I can’t believe the end of another school year is upon us; I feel like it was just yesterday I was setting up my classroom for my new 2015-2016 students. My honors sophomores did their last in-class synthesis timed essay for me last week and as they wrote frantically the entire hour to complete it, I thought to myself, “Whoa, they look like AP juniors today.” My sweet freshmen are becoming those sassy, sarcastic sophomores we all know and some love.

It is definitely May. It is time to reflect on the year and also get ready for some new adventures. 

Adventure 1: Moving a Mile

Well, my time at Perry High has ended as I move back to my old “stomping grounds” at Campo Verde High School next year. Looking around my classroom, I am anxious to take things down and pack things up. I have been trying to purge unnecessary items and I am amazed at just how much “stuff” I can acquire over two years. I am excited to return home to old friends and meet new faces and experience new curriculum and technology. I will miss my fellow Puma colleagues for sure, but am hopeful that this choice is right for myself and my family. 

Adventure 2: Baby Bumpin’ 

Speaking of family, we have some news! Our newest addition, a baby boy, will be joining our family in late September of 2016. This makes this summer with Q even more sweet as I try to soak up every last minute of the “just of two of us” love before her brother arrives. This also makes packing a classroom and redecorating a new one a bit more challenging, but luckily I have awesome family in my life to help me with this transition. 

baby boy Miles

Adventure 3: Teaching Teachers

Last but not least is the adventure I am perhaps the most nervous about. This summer, I will be teaching teachers at the SEATA Conference in Graham County, Arizona June 6-8. Even though I have done a ton of training for teachers at my school sites, I have never taught at a conference before. I am hopeful that the teachers will enjoy the content I am bringing with me and will be able to use it next year in their own classrooms. I will be posting my conference materials and presentations here after June 4th so check back for some FREEBIE materials and teacher lessons. 

I can’t wait for these new adventures and to grow as a mother and teacher this year! However, I also can’t wait for summer break! 

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My Classroom in 2016

20th December 2015

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I truly can’t believe another year has come to a close; however, I am looking forward to a few things in the next quarter of the school year. Keep an eye out for new posts and some FREEBIE worksheets and a Prezi presentation coming soon.

  1. Team shield competition cup challenge on the first day back! Gosh, I love Pinterest ideas.
  2. Teaching Critical Lens Theory to my honors sophomores and having them apply it to their reading of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
  3. Teaching style analysis essays to my freshmen and having them apply it through Tim Burton film clips.
  4. Having my sophomores analyze the role literature plays in recurring societal issues by creating a research magazine using jilster.com.

I hope you and your family have a holiday full of love and laughter!

See you back here on Jan. 4 for Critical Lens Theory lesson and some FREE links to the assignment!

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