SEATA Conference Details

12th May 2016


Southeast Arizona Teachers Academy Conference this June 6-8, 2016!

For materials from the classes I am teaching this week, please click here.

To meet the needs of our PreK-12 educators, we will have over 90 break-out sessions focusing on best practices across the curriculum.

Attendees will earn up to 24 hours of professional development credit.

SEATA is open to certified educators, early childhood education providers, and pre-service educators who will be certified and contracted to teach by August 2016.

Some of the confirmed session subjects, with more being added daily:

  • Google iPad Apps
  • QR Codes
  • Big Ideas of Early Mathematics for PreK-1
  • Writing with Pizzazz
  • iTeach AZ
  • Flipcharts
  • Integrating Art into Science, Math, Social Studies
  • Digital Storytelling
  • K-12 Science
  • K-12 Math
  • K-12 Language Arts
  • Plickers and Web Tools
  • Creating Embedded Assessments*
  • Integrating Children’s Literature in Math/Science
  • Mt. Graham International Observatory Trips
  • Bar Models and Tape Diagrams

Plus –technology integration sessions for all subjects!

To register, go to: superintendent/workshops/

Everyone attending should complete process. Your schedule of sessions will be provided at SEATA when you check-in at the Gherald Hoopes Activity Center at EAC.

Cost: $50 per day (you may attend one, two, three or all four days). Lunch is on your own.  Checks, money orders or P.O. should be sent to:

Graham County School Office Office                                                                 921 Thatcher Blvd. Safford,  AZ  85546

Purchase Orders can be emailed to Chief Deputy  Jill Davis at  or faxed to 928-428-8824.  Office phone:  928-428-2880. SEATA is brought to you by the Graham County School Superintendent Donna McGaughey and Greenlee County School Superintendent Tom Powers.


Come join me as I learn and teach at this awesome conference this summer!


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! 


teacher meme

The Book Thief Narrative

23rd March 2016

Narrative Essay Alas, Spring break is over and we are back to it! This quarter, my Honors Sophomore students are reading Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. 

Our state standards dictate that we teach or at the very least touch on each standard, each quarter. Which means I must teach or touch on narrative essay writing again which is…let’s just say not my favorite. I can hear English teachers and creative writing teachers everywhere screaming “WHAT?!” in their classrooms right now (like when I say I don’t like Shakespeare very much), but it is just not my thing – to write or to teach. However, I know for some students it is totally their thing and I love to see them shine in this area of writing.

However, I really did enjoy the Google Maps Narrative I did with them at the beginning of the year and so I wanted to end the year with another fun but worthwhile narrative assignment. I knew that in general I wanted them regularly looking at current events, watching the news, and skimming social media in order to collect more evidence to use in their argument writing. I somehow wanted to incorporate that into a narrative assignment so that the narrative’s facts and details where grounded in something real.

Since The Book Thief’s narrator is Death, and Death narrates WWII and the Holocaust with such chilling wit, I decided to create an assignment where the students had to find a fairly recent or very current event article online and then write a short narrative about the event; however, their narrator has to be an abstract concept, like Death, or an inanimate object. CLICK HERE FOR THE ASSIGNMENT SHEET.

One student wrote about the Boston Marathon bombing as narrated by the asphalt while another wrote about Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar win as narrated by his bow-tie. The range of narrators and events was awesome and when we presented them the students were not only engaged but were able to hear about several events going on in our country and around the world.


10 Reasons Why

18th February 2016

10 reasons why

I was at the park the other day watching Q play with some other preschooler-aged kids when another mom started talking to me. She asked me what I did for a living and I said proudly, “I teach high school English.” She gasped (like most do) and said, “Ugh, how do you teach them? They are so rude and annoying.” I always find this response rude and annoying because I love my students. Granted they can frustrate me at times, but most of the time they are just like adults: just trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in the world.

So here are 10 reasons I like teaching high school kids:

  1. When they have runny noses, they find a tissue, and figure it out.

  2. They challenge me to justify my lessons and units, which makes me a better teacher.

  3. They like my stories about my three-year-old’s antics.

  4. They are freaking funny sometimes, almost to point where I am laughing so hard I am crying.

  5. If I plan a lesson right, I can physically see their brain’s working hard and them growing as a learner and critical thinker. It makes my heart happy when I can see the light-bulb turn on.

  6. They aren’t as jaded about life, unlike most adults I know (and even myself sometimes).

  7. They live in a world filled with technology, but when I show them how to share a document using Google Docs with their partner for an essay it is like I have shown them Snapchat for the first time.

  8. They teach me “cool” lingo and remind me what I should NOT be wearing anymore. There really should be a Forever 31 though…

  9. They take constructive criticism without making it a big deal.

  10. If I place the bar high and hold them accountable, they will rise up (sometimes kicking and screaming).

Students need teachers who want them to be better for their own sake and the sake of society. I love the TED Talk by Rita Pierson that conveys that every student needs a champion – someone in their corner who will push them and make sure they succeed. I try to remember this every day, and even though I don’t always succeed or have my off or bad days, I hope my students know that I truly want them rise up and surpass any bar I give them so when they meet challenges after high school they are ready.

So, to the nice mom at the playground: Everyone is rude and annoying at some point in the day, week, month, or year and high school kids are no different. Actually, they are creative and unique individuals and one day your preschooler will be one too!


The Hero and Anti-Hero

6th February 2016

Ody vs. Burton

My freshmen classes are currently reading Homer’s The Odyssey. We basically read excerpts from Books 1, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 21, 22, and 23 as I assume many high school English classes do.

I read basically every other book with them as a whole class. We take notes on the book using an easy mind-map sheet, watch film clips that pertain to the book, and then discuss important literary elements present such as archetypes, epic similes, allusions, etc.

For the remaining book I do not teach as a whole class, the student teams are responsible for reading the book together as a table and then completing an assigned task that they will later present to the class on the book. This is a great way to break up the reading material and also deepen their knowledge of the text itself.

Ultimately, however, the goal is for them to understand that Odysseus is an epic hero who fits the hero archetype and conquers the hero’s journey.

I want the students to be able to argue who is more valuable to society: the hero or the anti-hero?

Once this is established, I will counter the hero archetype with that of the anti-hero. In this second half of the quarter, the students will begin to watch film clips of Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie), Edward Scissorhands (Edward), and Corpse Bride (Victor) – which they love, but still have to take pretty detailed notes on.


Students engage in a mini-film study in order to be able to analyze how Tim Burton uses specific cinematic techniques in order to present an argument about the role of the anti-hero in society (just like Homer uses specific literary devices to convey his message about the hero).

Finally, the students defend their choice, hero or anti-hero, in a Socratic Seminar using non-fiction articles (see above links to a few that I use) and their knowledge of The Odyssey and Burton’s film clips.

At the end of the quarter we crown a winner, is it Odysseus or Burton?



Group Magazine Project

21st January 2016

Societal Issues My Honors Sophomores are currently reading Of Mice and Men using a critical lens and are working towards writing their lens analysis essay. I am currently working on their next assignment. I am planning on having them examine literature through mainly historical, cultural, and economic lenses in order to answer the quarter’s essential question: What role does literature play in the examination of recurring societal issues?

My goal is to create a collaborative magazine that answers the essential question using literature we have read so far this year and the students own research.

Here is what I plan on asking students to do individually:

  1. Choose one piece of literature we have read this year that you feel examined a societal issue closely.
  2. Analyze this piece of literature through a historical, cultural, or economic lens and determine how the author used said lens to comment on the societal issue of the time period.
    1. You must choose an excerpt of the piece and annotate it digitally through your chosen lens.
    2. Explain the author’s argument on the societal issue you have selected through a 2 WWH paragraph analysis.
  3. Then, choose one piece of current media that examines a different societal issue (than the one chosen above) from today.
    1. You must show evidence from the piece (annotations or commentary) with correct MLA citation from the media you choose that best shows the author/director/producer’s argument on the societal issue at hand.
    2. Explain the media’s argument on the societal issue you have selected through a historical, cultural, or economic lens through a 2 WWH paragraph analysis.

Then, as a team they will collaborate and create the following:

  1. Using, an online magazine creator, synthesize your individual findings from above into a team project which includes:
    1. A magazine cover that:
      1. Has a clever and witty title for the magazine
      2. Words or phrases that synthesizes the magazine’s pages
      3. Largely displays the one sentence argument answering the essential question: What role does literature play in the examination of reoccurring societal issues?
  1. Graphics that represent the literature and media analyzed throughout the magazine
  2. Digital excerpts of piece analyzed (with annotations) and the WWH analysis paragraph of excerpted pieces (What is the lens? where is the evidence of that lens in the content? how does that lens identify the societal issues of that time period?) Statements with correct MLA citations.
  3. Four “filler” pages relating to your lenses and the literature included to entertain/amuse readers. Select from the following list, or add your own filler after getting it approved by me. Just remember all fillers MUST RELATE your magazine’s overall argument on the essential question.
    1. Paparazzi photo – catch a character/person in “the act”
    2. Horoscopes of Characters from pieces included in magazine
    3. Crossword puzzles/word searches/riddles
    4. Classified job section for Characters from pieces included in magazine
    5. Comic/cartoon/illustration created by a group member
4. MLA work cited of all literature/media discussed

I am hoping this assignment will get them thinking critically about what we read in school and what they view in the outside world, as well as, how these exposures reveal varying perspectives about societal issues.