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.


  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.


  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.



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! 


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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?