Friday, October 20, 2017

Personal Narrative Writing Unit

Hello all!

WOO-HOO! So far this school year has been so fun and filled with learning! I am currently doing my student teaching in a fourth & fifth grade Spanish immersion classroom. Each of my team members (kiddos) are so bright intellectually and personally. Every day I am reminded why I want to become an educator; not a day passes that I don't smile. In an effort to be culturally responsive I will channel my excitement for this school year into a "GIF".


However, this student teaching experience would be nothing without all of the support given to me by my cooperating teachers. These two educators have provided professional and emotional support to help me develop, ultimately, into an impactful teacher. I am blessed to see two different teaching approaches which come together to create a learning environment to cater to each student's learning needs.

The first lessons I focused on were for writer's workshop, the narrative writing unit. With the help of Lucy Calkins, I dived into this unit. As a teacher I work to develop high objectives, because I KNOW, with hard work and support, my team will meet and exceed them. Now, my team and I are in the drafting and editing phase of our personal narratives and I couldn't be more proud! Each learner has brought their own life experiences to brainstorm juicy seed story ideas, develop believable characters, and sequence events with various plot maps. I am itching to read their completed first drafts to see how they utilize their planning information.

1. Brainstorming Seed Stories
     Day 1: Author inspiration articles (4) & learning sheet
     Day 2/3: Watermelon munchin' & seed story brainstormin': learning sheet
There really is nothing better than a juicy melon to inspire and motivate juicy ideas!
     Day 4/5: Expanding seeds with juicy details learning sheet

2. Developing Believable Characters
     Day 1/2: Nearpod class brainstorm w/class story:
     Day 3-5: Organize story and character details: learning sheet

3. Sequence events with plot maps
     Day 1: Plot map rap introduction & Nearpod class brainstorm w/class story:
This plot rap was a Pinterest find... PS the team loved when I epically embarrassed myself! plot RAP
     Day 2: Plot warm-up practice w/ Pixar short (Partly Cloudy): level 1 plot map
     Day 3: Oreo transitions activity & work time: learning sheet & level 2 plot map
This lesson was so fun and delicious! We used Oreos to sequence our unique method to eat an Oreo.
     Day 4: Plot map work time w/focus on description (color-code details: feeling vs event detail)
     Day 5: Finalize plot maps and teacher-student conferences rubric

Disclaimer: This unit has been a huge learning experience for me and I cannot wait to hopefully teach it again in the future! As a student teacher I have learned and accepted the inevitability of a "good" lesson. There will never be the perfect lesson, but that is the challenge I have learned to accept and cherish. Each learner is unique and this may have worked for my team, but I already have modifications I want to change for future learners.  I hope you find these resources helpful and you are able to alter them for your students' needs!

Please share any questions or feedback with me! It takes a village...I would love any suggestions!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

San Francisco, CA

Well guys,

I did it. That is, I somehow survived two weeks away from my sweet siamese kitten, Yeti. Please do not ask me how I avoided crying during our departure from home, because I didn't. The waterworks flowed and quite frankly I'm surprised I didn't flood the Mississippi.

We spent the first half of our trip cruisin' up and down Cali's coast to enjoy the soaring redwoods as high as the eye can reach, the picturesque valleys bustling with vineyards, and then to the relaxing seaside to observe the wild elephant seals and elk. We also enjoyed a romantic evening in the bustling city of San Francisco and savored the wine and family at nuptials in Napa. California treated us well and I urge you to relax with mother nature if the golden state ever calls your name.

San Francisco Dream Date:
My love and I spent an elegant evening exploring the city and losing our way just a few times. (Thank the Lord I printed a map of the city.) We began the night with a delicious dinner at The Stinking Rose. Now, in order to embrace the whole idea of this restaurant you have to imagine a foodie's Italian dream. This dream beckons hungry stomachs with the stench of garlic wafting out the windows to welcome them into paradise. The Stinking Rose allures the senses with its private booths, hanging garlic cloves & chianti bottles, and black & white Italian photographs. We completely indulged ourselves in savory garlic EVERYTHING. We began the garlic feast with the renowned garlic hottub, where we smothered buns with cloves. For entrees, my love devoured the stinky spaghetti and meatballs and I had the forty clove chicken dish. The garlic wine was a tempting pair for dinner but I settled on the pinot noir <3 and Eric had a fruity sangria. After dinner, I waddled down the streets of SF while supporting my food baby. Whether it was the full stomach haze or a faulty phone GPS, we made it to Lombard Street about an hour later. We ended the night with squeaking sea lions and Eric being the star of a sword juggling performance at pier 39.

Muir Woods Getaway:
Our first date with Mother Nature involved admiring the impressive redwood trees at Muir Woods. The location offers a variety of trails for every skill level. My love and I, along with my beautiful auntie and husband chose to take a big loop around the park using the trails that remained below the canopy. I loved having the opportunity to feel overwhelmed by the height and age of each of the trees. It also lends the experience to spot particular flora and fauna.

Must I say more? Of course, Eric and I made our way to a few wineries to experience all that California has to offer. I feel it would be a sin if we didn't... We began our flights to vino-self-actualization at Imagery Winery. This winery was absolutely stunning. The label on each bottle is distinct to the wine, and has been created by various artists. Throughout the tasting we stared menacingly at each bottle label until it revealed its secret trademark to us. What an enlightening experience to have as we tasted sultry reds. The next winery we visited, Andretti Winery, hosted the rehearsal dinner. The venue was absolutely breathtaking. I felt as if I was reliving my trip to Italy. For dinner, I enjoyed the view of the plentiful vines, while basking in the sunset, underneath a canopy of hanging lights, eating paella, and giving octopi tentacles to those who could handle. What a dream. Our final winery on our voyage to vino-self-actualization took place at the wedding venue, The Madrone Estate. Between the stunning vineyard view at the altar and the grape vines peeking out from behind, during cocktail hour, I felt as if I had been transported into a dream. Even though the venue was stunning, the love shared between the bride and groom captivated every heart.

Point Reyes Seashore:
Throughout the week spent in California, there was a constant whisper weaving between the bustling cars in SF, past the wide girth of the redwood trunks, and through the bundles of grapes hung on vines. The ocean air continued to rest on my shoulder as a reminder of what, still, craved my presence. My love and I were extremely fortunate to borrow the groom's car for a road trip of our own. Point Reyes Seashore is home of an unimaginable coast full of wild nature. Imagine cows meandering in valleys, whales roaming the coast, elephant seals lounging on the beach, and elk tousling with their full racks. Our day was filled with one breathtaking moment after another. We began with a trek down steps to reach a historic lighthouse. As we peered off into the ocean humpback whales surfaced to welcome us to the seashore. We continued our sight seeing with a short hike to observe the lazy elephant seals basking in the sun. Who could have imagined how engaging it is to observe a blubbery seal with an elephant trunk laying, without movement? After being engrossed in watching the waves crash against the shore I longed for the salty breeze to whip through my hair. What began as a tranquil stroll down the coast ended as a mission to find as many sand dollars as possible. I am so blessed to have found a love who is my best friend and is just as excited as I am when finding treasures on the beach. It was the perfect moment; I felt alive, free, and like a child. The seashore had welcomed us and blessed us with beautiful memories, as we drove home we couldn't have asked for better. That is, until our unforgettable day blessed us with an elk spotting. My love and I reveled in the chance to observe a herd of elk in their natural habitat. Our friends were so elegant as they boasted their huge racks and as a pair duked it out to prove most mighty.

Eric and I had a beautiful, blessed week in California with the presence of Mother Nature and our family. We could not have asked for a more fulfilling "first adult-couple" trip together. Our travels continue to the east coast to savor time spent with family in the upcoming post.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Branches Winery, Coon Valley, WI

Hello all!

I am so excited to share about the weekend my love and I shared! As the twelve work days dwindled down and as the weekend neared, the pesky questions of "what to do" arose. We both felt torn as to whether boating, fishing, or SLEEPING were the best options. Eventually, we decided on driving through the backroads of La Crosse, WI with windows down and music up into Westby, WI to savor a couple flights of wine.

Branches Winery did not disappoint! Their sweet wines will impress any wine palates. As for my love he prefers a fruity wine and is always a moscato miscreant. However, I tend to lean towards a rich pinot noir. With our differences in mind, we each found a favorite! As for myself, of course I tried their reserve first, and was pleasantly surprised. Though it is not as intense as some of my favorite pinots are, I found it to be smooth and fulfilling. This wine will provide the perfect baby step (for people like my love) branching towards reds.

Now Eric on the other hand, bless his adventurous soul... Enjoyed most the "Frozen Apple Blossom" and the "Celebration Berry"... So... when we were ordering our wood fire pizza and full glass, he had the two MIXED! I must admit, it did make a beautiful color and was quite tasty.  Speaking of wood fire pizza, PLEASE order three! One to eat while you're there, one for leftovers, and one to bring to ME. Branches Winery has the most delicious wood fire pizza, that had my mouth screaming to return to Italy. My love and I devoured the Margherita pizza in two minutes, finishing with nothing but sauce and pure delight on our faces.

Of course the day couldn't end there. We had to test out my new Lew's pole in some of the nearby creeks in Coon Valley, WI. Fishing was the perfect way to end the day (and spend all the next day doing). There's just something so rugged yet picturesque about trudging through fields and manure to find the perfect spot on the creek. Trout are such a beautiful fish and thanks to my super fisherman, I always get to admire his catches and reel in some dinks of my own.

"Vino, fishing, and loving every day are the words from which this country girl prays."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Meet THE Cat

Hello all!

I am blessed to be the cat mom to my sweet siamese kitty Yeti.

Growing up, my best friends were my cats. Between Boots, Misty, Elvis, and Sammi, I knew that being a cat mom was in my future. Last year my love and I adopted our little runt from the Humane Society and couldn't have been happier!

Even though Yeti is even more stubborn than I am and resists man-handling at all costs, I love him to pieces. The first thing I look forward to is coming home to his playful self.

Yeti is always there for me during late night lesson planning, recipe blunders, and cozy cuddles.