I've Got Writes!

Teacher, Writer, Proofreader

Archive for the category “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!”

What I use to Engage Students Before Reading a Novel

How does a reading or English teacher get students excited about reading a novel? Perhaps you’ve used the following strategies:

  • Fill out and discuss anticipation guides.
  • Preview text features.
  • Examine the picture on the book cover.
  • Read the summary on the back of the book.

I’ve used all of the above pre-reading activities during my twelve years of teaching. Not a huge fan of any of them. I mean, they’re fine if that’s what you want to use. Maybe you’re much better at using those methods to get kids geared up to read a story than I am. However, I’ve used something for 4 years now that sucks them in more effectively and is tons more fun for me!

About five years ago, I watched a teacher on Teaching Channel who created a bulletin board full of objects, pictures, and words that related to The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. If I remember correctly, she used it to give the kids a heads-up on some unfamiliar vocabulary and to provide some background knowledge to help them understand what they would be reading before each chapter. I loved the idea of using tangible items, not just pictures.

Since I do not have time or motivation to be changing my bulletin boards with any kind of frequency, I modified this idea. Also, I wanted something I didn’t have to tear down. I wanted to create something that I could use year after year. Something easy to store. So I did.

I created a prediction board for The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer. (I’ve blogged about it before.) I used words and objects that related to the story, but did not give any details away. See photo below of the original:

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This is the first one that lasted me 3 years.

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This is the new and improved version. I added two more words and two more images.

This one board creates more questions, more curiosity, more class discussion, and more fodder for writing a prediction paper than any other strategy I’ve used.

More details later . . .

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Rampant Apathy and Learned Helplessness

Twelve years ago in central Oklahoma, I began my teaching career in middle school in an area infested with gangs. I’ve probably learned boatloads more than I’ve taught. I’ve had roughly 1200 students pass through my classroom door. (Would’ve been more, but I looped with a group of kids through their middle school years.) I’ve witnessed and experienced a lot of sadness, joy, apathy, excitement, fear, fury, bat-shit craziness, “you can’t fix stupid,” and straight-up “I can’t make this shit up!” Any educator should know exactly what I’m talking about.

Which brings me to today. This school year with sixth graders. I have many hard-working, creative, and well-mannered kiddos for whom I’m grateful. It’s the “others” that are a problem. A problem not just for me because they’re in my class and make me question why the hell I did this to myself, but a problem for you and everyone else in society who will have to deal with their “idiosyncrasies.”

All kids are self-centered and think the world revolves around them and think the world owes them something and think that every adult in their presence is a complete idiot. It’s the age. It’s normal. Irritating as hell, but normal. We all did it to some extent.

Here comes the “but” …

BUT, THIS GROUP! Holy freakin’ cow! The apathy, the learned helplessness, the unwillingness to participate in any way in their own learning is ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING! I’m truly frightened for anyone who has to deal with them as adults. I can only pray and hope that somewhere along the line, someone will be able to connect with them and motivate them toward excellence, or some semblance of it, at least.

 

Strong and Steady

Strong and steady is our love. Love is different this time. Why? Could be that I’m not 20 or 30 years old any more. Could be that I’m wiser. Could be that I’ve been “established” on my own for many years and have learned to be independent, even when it wasn’t fun. Could be that I’m “set in my ways.” Could be that my libido is lower and doesn’t overpower conversation or reason. Or the need to sleep. Ha!

Could be that I never really needed the “type” of person that I thought I needed. Could be that chains of legalistic religious viewpoints have clinked to the ground and changed my perspective. Could be that I’m not as judgmental as I used to be, given the aforementioned release from legalism. Could be that I can love more unconditionally than I used to be capable of (although, that’s a trait I always strived to attain and live by). Could be that I take my people (my loved ones) for granted less and less as reality taunts that none of us are promised another minute, day, week, or year on this earth. Make the most of each moment, be aware and available. Make memories. Make friends. Make love.

Am I head-over-heels in love? I don’t know. Does my love for him grow daily? Absolutely. I think I prefer the latter. Is he my soul-mate? I don’t know, but based on how things have been going the past 10 months, I think we could grow to be soul-mates. It’s about the journey together. The experiences together. The gains. The losses. The trying new things. The nostalgia. The disagreements. The times when I feel that he gets me. The times we shake our heads, utterly confused by the other.

It’s still new. Still floundering. Still discovering. I hope that one never stops. Keeps it interesting. I need some adventure. I also need stability. Comfort. I feel that with him. Comfortable, that is. He is stable. He’s not quite an adventurer, though maybe the fact that he chose to be with me is adventure enough for him. {smile} Suffice to say, I’m enjoying the ride. I’m enjoying loving him and being loved by him.

 

Working On Me!

Since the whole Tinder-scammer fiasco last year (see posts below), I have had some pleasant dates with actual, real non-scamming dudes. However, I’m still trying to figure out this whole dating gig, even after being single for {cough}, let’s just say, a while now.

I’ve been on another dating site that has been a little less scammy, but I’m finding out more and more about myself as I trek along.

I don’t remember exactly how, but last summer, I stumbled upon multiple YouTube channels of these guys who provide dating and relationship advice to women. I’m a teacher, so that whole lifelong learner mantra stands true with me. I’m a sponge for information, especially when it’s secret intelligence that promises to enlighten me about the male psyche and how the hell I can avoid the emotional peril and perplexities I’ve encountered throughout my not-so-impressive dating life. So, I subscribed to a few of these guys’ YouTube channels.

Now, these experts charge for classes, webinars, downloads, and videos because these are their businesses. But, they also offer free tid-bits, to lure you in. I don’t mean that negatively, though. Truly, the only reason I haven’t already purchased one or more of their programs is because I’m an Oklahoma teacher, and I HAVE. NO. MONEY.

Let me tell you what their videos have done for me thus far.

  • They have encouraged me.
  • They have reminded me that I’m valuable, and that I need to act like it.
  • They have made me more aware of times when my behavior or attitude exudes insecurities instead of confidence.
  • They have shown me that I sometimes allow the negative and hurtful things from past relationships (dating or platonic) to dictate how I perceive the world, my circumstances, and men.
The main takeaway for me is this: Work on me. Make sure I’m happy within myself before I add a long-term relationship to the mix.

Now, I’ve known this in my head for a long time, and I thought just knowing it to be true was all that was necessary. But it’s not. I have to work on it, apply it, keep learning about myself and adjusting accordingly as I go. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s not a I’ve got it, I’ve arrived thing, either. It’s a growing, cultivating work of art. Yep, I’m a work of art and God is the artist. I know that analogy is overused, but it’s true. And I like it, so there. 😉

Does this mean I’m not allowing myself to meet and talk to guys? Nope! I’m just doing it with incremental confidence. Baby steps. Keep learning, keep trying, keep enjoying.

Tell me in the comment sections what you’ve learned about relationships and yourself lately.

Below are the aforementioned Tinder posts, in case you missed them. Know someone on Tinder? Share these posts!
  1. My Tinder Mission
  2. Tinder BS-O-Meter Sounds Again
  3. Actual Tinder Scamming Profile
  4. Tinder Photo Swiping
  5. Bye Tinder, I’m Swiped Out!

Writing Prompt Day 10: Top Five Pet Peeves

These are in no particular order. I’m  sure there are more–just ask my students.

1) Grammatical mistakes in posts or articles that are meant to be poignant but immediately lose credibility due to complacent ignorance or blatant irreverence of the English language. (Is that grammar snobbish enough?)

2) Disrespect.

3) Arrogance. (Unless you’re a member of the grammar police, like me. Ha! Am I hypocritical?)

4) Students (or anyone) exuding entitlement.

5) People who are energetic, early risers. If you speak to me within two hours of my waking, you simply don’t know me and don’t value your life. (This amends #2 for those of us who are not morning people.)

Writing Prompt Day 9: Something I Crave A Lot

Crave physically? Mentally? Emotionally?

Physically

Sometimes I crave french fries dipped in a chocolate malt. Yumminess.

Mentally

I crave intelligent and inspiring conversation.

Emotionally

I crave love and companionship from a man who will love me inspite of my flaws. I also crave to reciprocate that.

Let me be clear. I know how to be single. I’m independent and do enjoy facets of my singleness. Alone time is important and necessary for me to recharge and regroup. I can come and go as I please. I can decide when or if I’ll cook or do the dishes. However, singleness and loneliness are sometimes synonymous.

I don’t NEED someone in order to function and thrive, but I WANT to share life with someone. Someone who can bring out the best parts of me that I wouldn’t easily discover without that significant other to inspire and encourage me toward new adventures.

I know that some people in the world have found their perfect match or soulmate. You might scoff at that word, soulmate. Scoff if you must, but I choose to believe it can happen. To me. No one’s perfect, I get that. But, perfect simply means a perfect fit for me.

I’m going to keep growing and learning, to keep cultivating a better and better version of me. I’ll continue on my journey, hoping, trusting, moving, enjoying, fighting, and loving. He’s bound to show up, ready to be my fitting soulmate.

Writing Prompt Day 7: My Hopes and Dreams

Well, this is a little overwhelming. I’ve got lots of hopes and dreams.

  • I dream of my degree actually paying off. Of paying off debt that I’ve accrued from living paycheck to paycheck on an Oklahoma teacher’s salary.
  • I dream of getting my freelance writing/editing/proofreading business off the ground to, at the very least, supplement my teacher pay.
  • I dream of traveling the U.S. and any place where I can bury my toes in the sand, listen to the waves, and enjoy the mood-lifting sunshine.
  • I dream of loving and being loved by a man who brings out the best in me. I want a relationship in which we encourage, challenge, and support each other; in which we are better people together than we are apart. I dream of having authentic, honest communication with him. I’ve waited long enough to know who I am, know what I’m worth, and know what I have to offer. I don’t say these things lightly or arrogantly. Anybody who really knows me, knows that to be true.
  • I hope that my family and friends know how much I love, need, and appreciate them.
  • I hope that others see me as a caring, grateful person.

That’s all I can come up with for this sitting. What are your hopes and dreams? Share them in the comment section! 🙂

 

Writing Prompt Day 3: A Habit I Wish I Didn’t Have

 

I hate that I have Cool Project ADD. Is that a thing?? If not, it is now.

I have experience with students who struggle with ADD/ADHD or whatever the current acronym is for having an attention deficit. My question is, can a person have ADD when it comes to particular parts of their lives? Namely, for me, it’s This-would-be-a-cool-project! ADD or I-can-do-that! ADD or That-shouldn’t-be-too-difficult ADD. Do these exist for you?

I can’t tell you how many crochet projects I’ve begun and been distracted from before that last stitch. There are some successes, even items I’ve made and given as beautiful gifts to friends. Even sold a few. But, the crates of yarn and bags of partly constructed … hats? gloves? sweaters? tank tops? I don’t remember and have no idea what pattern, if any, I was using when I started.

I have tried to turn an old dresser into a new and improved dresser with an additional shelving unit made from the drawers. I started on it last summer, and the shelf is still not finished. Also, it looked much better in my head–thank you, Pinterest images.

This blog is certainly an ADD issue for me as well. Sticking with a daily writing plan or pattern is challenging, but I’m trying again!!

Back to Day 1: Selfie and 15 interesting facts

Back to Day 2: Background on my blog title

 

30 Day Writing Prompts Day 2: The Meaning Behind My Blog Name

After playing with words and trying to close in on a certain niche or area of expertise, I finally decided I would just start with a writing blog that would give me a place to vent, to be creative, and to play with different topics of interest. My hope was that I would eventually cultivate a more specific blog. Ummmm … still cultivating.

I enjoy a good play on words, so I’ve Got Writes conveys my freedom (rights) to express my thoughts through the written word. One of the perks of those pesky English homophones. 🙂

I’m trying to catch up, so this will be posted the same day as Day 1. My apologies if that messes with your OCD.

30 Days of Writing Prompts: Day 1

I’ve been inspired by getadatein2016 who happens to be participating in this writing challenge, so I thought I would follow suit. I’m starting late but at least I’m starting. I frequently come across these challenges on Facebook or Pinterest and promise myself I’ll get into writing gear again. Inevitably, scrolling and pinning keeps me from the actual writing part. Ugh. I’m my own worst nightmare.

Anyway, maybe with the continued reminders in my inbox–thank you, getadatein2016–I’ll stick to it. I need to write several today and tomorrow in order to catch up, so let’s get crackin’!

Prompt #1: Post a recent selfie and list 15 interesting facts about yourself. Hmmmmm, this could take a while.

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  1. I’m not compulsively late, per se, but I live mostly in the “-ish” time frame. So if something starts at 7:00, being there at 7-ish could mean 10 ’til or 15 after.
  2. Which brings me to the fact that I’m NOT a morning person. I’ve been accused of speaking Wookiee in the mornings.
  3. I’ve been to Ecuador 3 times visiting my former exchange student/daughter and her family. (One of the best decisions of my life.)
  4. I live in Oklahoma but desperately want to live near a beautiful beach.
  5. I panic in deep water because my swimming skills are lacking.
  6. I hate winter. I hate when the sun goes down at 5:30 PM. I hate cold. (It was 3 degrees farenheit this morning–another reason to stay in bed.)
  7. I’ve been a middle school English teacher for 11 years. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I need to figure it out because this teacher pay SUCKS!
  8. I’m Dory when it comes to projects. If it’s not something that can be finished quickly, I get bored or frustrated and move on to the next one. The end result always looks better in my head than in reality.
  9. I’m known for my grammar skills. I edit and proofread much better than I write.
  10. I’ve learned to embrace change as I’ve gotten older, though it’s not always easy. Change causes you to grow in ways that you never expected. You get to see what you’re truly made of.
  11. I don’t subscribe to Netflix or dish or cable. Just regular ‘ole tv stations. (Did I mention I’m a teacher?)
  12. My favorite 80s movie is The Princess Bride–“As you wish …”
  13. I’m in my 40s, never been married, and won’t be having any little humans. It’s ok. And, NO, there’s nothing wrong with me. (I would like to find the right man and spend the rest of my life with him.)
  14. I know bits and pieces of Spanish. Wish I were fluent.
  15. I want to travel to Europe, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and any place with beautiful beaches.

Ok, there you have it. Day one writing prompt complete! Score!

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