Now that we’re a family of 3, I’m always thinking of fun new traditions to start and enjoy for decades to come. As I was passing through the dollar section of Target (aka a Mom’s Vacation), I came across these adorable felt envelopes. At a dollar a pop, I just had to snatch them up! They are very large and can fit quite a bit of goodies, including books. In the same section, there were also some felt hearts, which inspired me to personalize the envelopes (I created the felt letters myself). The extra one is for our puppies, Rocket and Ruffy, and yes they got some treats, too!
This was Elaine’s first Valentine’s day eating solids, but that didn’t mean I wanted her to have all of the traditional teeth-rotting sugary sweets of sticky candy and chocolate. I settled upon a book and some fun, special treats that we don’t get very often. She went straight for the Lucky Charms, and picked out all of the marshmallows (just like her mommy, sheesh!)
At 1.5 years old, I’m sure she was pretty confused by this new tradition. Nevertheless, she loved opening her envelope and getting presents, so that is a win! My sweet husband filled my envelope with various chocolates that he knows I love and a thoughtful card. I filled his with chocolate and beef jerky.
Can’t wait to bring out these envelopes again next year to continue our tradition!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy these Week 23 highlights!
1. iPad Check – With the year half over, the staff figured this was a great time to do a little housekeeping with the student iPads. The students got a refresher on how to reset their iPads, ‘clear the tray,’ and clean up any unwanted items including photographs and apps. After only 5 months with the iPads, some students had a shocking 5,000 photographs, and over 50 apps! We had them delete all but a few games, all but 50 photos, and then sanitize their iPads. A staff member checked each iPad for visible signs of damage. Finally, my favorite part, our Technology Instructional Coordinator spoke with the students in a large group about the rampant gaming problems we’ve been having. Not only are teachers annoyed with students sneakily playing games in class, but students find each other annoying and distracting as well. Our instructor showed the students a video about another school district that took away all App Store rights and completely restricted student iPad usage – all apps had to be downloaded and managed by the school. I hope the scare tactic worked. Anyway, it was pretty rewarding to delete apps off of the students’ iPads. Flappy Bird? POOF! Cookie Clicker? BYE! I maybe enjoyed that part a little too much.
2. New Kicks – So I got some new shoes that are as loud and obnoxious as I am! I kid. But seriously, these shoes are cRaZy, and the students love them. I got lots of, “Nice shoes, Mrs. D!” Anyway if you’re dying for a pair, here’s a link!
3. A Senior’s Words of Wisdom – On Monday of this week, I visited our district high school, which is luckily just across the street. School was not in session, but I enjoyed wandering around the halls and seeing all of the great artwork from my former students. I came across these quotes, shown above, and they stopped me dead in my tracks. These are quotes from my former 8th graders, now upper classmen, giving advice to younger students. They are things I try and tell my students every day, but I know they mean much more coming from someone who’s recently ‘been there.’ The quotes read:
* Many students shudder at the thought of doing even the slightest amount of thought-intensive work, and yet often view themselves as someone who is an intelligent and hard working person.
* If this educational epiphany would have arisen sooner in my high school career, the time put into my education would have been much more productive.
* You aren’t going to figure out what you want to do or what career you want to go into by sitting around and whining about how much homework you have to do or how horrible your teacher is. Take the responsibility no matter how terrifying it is.
4. My Valentine – In addition to a custom photo card, I also made my husband this lovely little book entitled “What I Love About ___ by ____” from Uncommon Goods. I surprised him by leaving it on his desk to find this morning. He is such a wonderful, caring, generous thoughtful man. Our marriage works because we believe in each other and we always have each others’ backs. We also each think we are the lucky one, which is pretty great, too. What are we doing for Valentine’s Day? My idea of a perfect Friday night – Ryan will bring home dinner from the Public Market, we’ll watch a movie (I rented “Now You See Me”), we’re going to pop some champagne, and I made a delicious Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie for dessert!
5. Battleground – We finished watching the movie version of “Battleground” by Stephen King this week. Reading the short story, then watching the movie helps us to reach those Common Core targets about comparing a story told through different media. The students were surprisingly insightful about the differences between the two versions, and why a director may have made the choice to alter the original story. Now, the movie has NO talking at all. At first, the students balked and whined, “Seriously? This is gonna suck.” 5 minutes into the movie, you can barely hear blinking and breathing, they are so riveted. I even had one kid tell me, “I was so excited to watch this movie, it’s the only reason I came to school today.” Um, great!
I hope you had a wonderful week and didn’t get too cold. Just remember, Spring is only 33 days away!
Can you believe it’s almost February? I’ve seen Valentine’s Day items popping up at stores around town, and I suddenly realized it’s only one month away! I have 2 great Valentine’s Day reading activities to share with you.
First, I will share with you a close-reading activity on The History of Saint Valentine’s Day. This 10-page activity includes a 3-page handout about the mysterious history of St. Valentine the martyr, and the evolution of today’s Valentine’s Day holiday. It gives 2 different historical accounts of the Christian martyr’s life and death, plus an explanation of Pagan influence on this celebrated holiday. There is also an explanation of Valentine’s Day as it is celebrated today, and the symbols and traditions around this special day.
This is a close-reading or text-based reading activity because the text is divided into smaller, manageable chunks with follow-up questions after each section. The student must find evidence within the text to answer the questions (following Common Core Standards and language) by highlighting or underlining.
This would be an excellent activity to do with your entire class, or with an intervention group of struggling readers. It would easily align to your Language Arts / English, Social Studies / History, or Religious Studies curriculum as a cross-curricular lesson. You can use this text any time, not just for Valentine’s Day! If you would like to purchase this activity, you can click here.
The next activity I will share with you is Author’s Purpose Guided Practice for Grades 6-10 a FREE activity. In this activity, students will learn about PIE: Persuade, Inform, and Entertain. Then, they will read 3 sample texts and discuss how each is an example of persuasive, informative, or entertaining writing.
If you enjoy this FREE mini activity and want to purchase a full lesson plan on Author’s Purpose, I also have the Identifying Author’s Purpose full lesson plan.
The Identifying Author’s Purpose activity includes 15 writing samples that students will first identify as either persuasive, informative, or entertaining. Then, they will decide what the author is trying to convince them of (persuasion), inform them of (informative), or entertain them with (entertain). It includes a handout explaining the key features and genres of persuasive, informative, and entertaining (PIE) texts, model/sample writing for each category (3 total). Read and discuss as a class, and guided practice sample writing for each category (3 total). Students can read, discuss, and identify the sample texts in small groups, while they also engage in close reading to determine the type of writing (PIE) and the author’s specific goal.
I hope these activities can help you and your students to engage in some close reading strategies and techniques throughout February!