Fitbit Love #sol14

This past Christmas I received a Fitbit.  I was intrigued and willing to give it a shot, but I wasn’t sure if it would stick.

 

Three months later, I haven’t taken it off.  Well, it has to charge once a week, but otherwise I wear it all day and night.  And it is awesome.

I’m pretty active, thanks to the dogs, so I wasn’t too worried about the step counter.  However, I didn’t realize how competitive I am.  I friended a few folks through Fitbit and suddenly I can’t lose to them.  I find myself checking my step counter a few times each day and if it seems low I start walking around my classroom, the hallway, and even the school more.  Looks like Fitbit knew what they were doing, at least when it comes to folks with a competitive streak!

But the real reason I was interested in the Fitbit was the sleep tracker.  I am a night owl and I frequently think I don’t get enough sleep.  The sleep tracker was designed to tell you how long you slept and how often you were restless or woke up.

The first night I used it I was impressed.  Three months later, I am blown away.  First, it turns out I sleep more than I thought.  Still not enough (who does?), but more than I previously imagined.  I used to think I tossed and turned a lot before falling asleep but it turns out that’s not true.  And thanks to the placebo effect, just seeing the chart each morning makes me feel more rested and ready for the day.

I also like tracking how I feel in relation to how I sleep.  Last week my average weekly hours slept decreased and I could tell even before I got my Fitbit report.  But now, thanks to the three months of data that I have, I can predict when I will feel run down and I can try to prevent it.  How cool is that?

Do you have any fitness trackers or sensors?  How do they work for you?

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Romeo and Juliet and Adolescent Brains #sol14

I’m still knee-deep in rough drafts, but I have given feedback on 43 of them.  That’s more than half!  I am seriously working on them every minute of the day, but they are getting done.  And I know it’s valuable and the best thing I can do for my students.  But it may not have been my brightest idea.  Next year I need to find a way to provide feedback and not lose a week of my life.  The goal is to keep them writing and revising, rather than just turning in a “final” copy to me, only to ignore the comments I leave. It seems to be working so far!

This is one of my favorite assignments of the year.  After reading Romeo & Juliet we study adolescent brain development and the effects of love on the brain.  Students do research and decide who (or what) is to blame for the deaths in the play.  The rough drafts are fascinating because every student approaches the essay from a different angle.  I’ve read about placing the blame on the nurse, the friar, the prince, and the parents.  But most of the students place the blame squarely on Romeo and Juliet.  About half of them excuse the couple for their actions because of adolescent brain development and/or loves effect on brain function.  But the other half?  They show no mercy!  Romeo and Juliet should have had the common sense and knowledge to avoid suicide, and the students are very convincing.

And now it’s back to reading and leaving feedback…11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

An English Teacher’s Sick Day #sol14

Last night, I felt the crash coming.  The past two weeks were finally catching up to me.  I was cold, I kept coughing, and I was losing my voice.  Because my life never slows down I decided the best decision was to call out today and try to let my body rest.  So I did just that.

The plan was to sleep late, rest, have some chicken noodle soup, and hopefully kick this cold’s butt.  I did do some of that, thankfully.  But I forgot that the dogs don’t take sick days, so we still took 3 walks.  Then I remembered I had to leave feedback on freshman rough drafts.  The students are writing their Romeo & Juliet and adolescent brain development essays a little differently this year and it requires more work from me.  The students just submitted rough drafts and rather than grading just the final draft, I am providing feedback on the rough drafts.

Eighty rough drafts.

Three to five pages.

And a works cited list.

I am crazy.  I realize this.

Thank goodness the essays are really interesting and most of them are well-written.  But I spent a good 5-6 hours reading and providing feedback today and I only finished 25 essays. I know this is worthwhile work.  I know this is the best thing I can do for my students.  But oh my word.  So.many.essays.

See you all in 14 more hours.

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A Day in the Life #sol14

8am Wake up

8:05am Walk the dogs .75 miles

8:40am Leave for SAT tutoring

8:55am Stop at Starbucks because it’s Sunday which means I can have a frappucino!

9:10am Arrive at SAT tutoring.  Make copies, get organized, find my paycheck, get kids signed in,

9:30-11am Critical reading SAT class.

11:00-11:10am Break.  Make more copies

11:10-12:30pm Writing SAT class

12:30-1:00pm Run errands.  This means stop at the TJMaxx down the road and browse.

1:05pm Drive home

1:30 Arrive home and get ready to take the dogs for a walk.

1:40-2:50 Walk the dogs two miles at the local county park.  It was much colder than I expected it to be!

2:50pm Drive home and drop the dogs off

3:00 Food shopping and various errands

4:20pm Clean up around the house, watch some March Madness, check my bracket

5:30pm Eat dinner.  Thankfully, it’s leftovers so I don’t have to do much,

6:30pm Feed the dogs

7:00pm Walk the dogs another mile.  This is only around the block so it’s easy.

7:30pm.  Shower, do laundry, get the house straightened up.  Watch the end of the Iowa St/UNC game.  Check bracket.

8:15-10pm Work on comments for student research essays via Googledocs and answer email.

10:00-10:30pm Prepare Kongs to keep the dogs occupied this week.

10:30-10:45 Read for a few minutes.  Not enough minutes. :(

10:45-11:00pm Write blog post

11:00-11:30 Finish checking student teacher’s plans, leaving comments on students’ Slice of Life blogs, and plan what I am wearing tomorrow.

11:45pm Publish blog post and head to bed!

Honored #sol14

I’m still on cloud nine and it’s late so this will be short and sweet.

Today I spent my Saturday at the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English annual conference at Montclair University. I heard author Jeff Hirsch speak, I met great colleagues from across the state, and I got to hang out with Chris and Michelle (my amazing colleague).

Why was Chris at an English teacher conference?

Because this happened:

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Thanks to a nomination by Michelle I was named the NJCTE English Language Arts Teacher of the Year. Michelle gave a beautiful speech that included a letter from one of my seniors and I could barely keep it together.

I feel silly accepting an award like this because so many people make me the teacher I am today: my colleagues, my students, Chris, my family, my friends, my PLN, and so many others. So I share this award with all of them

Thank you. ;

Reminiscing #sol14

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hTonight I chaperoned the school semiformal.  It was a little bittersweet for me, as it was the last non-prom dance for my seniors.  But it was adorable because everyone was dressed up and we even had a few promprosals (one of which I was able to participate in).

But the best part of tonight was when the student DJs played Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie”.  Immediately I was transported back to college.  Without hesitation I pulled out my phone and sent a text to my college girlfriends.

love you girls and miss you!  the dj at the school dance just played shakira’s “hips don’t lie” and it made me think of you! *szeretlek*

I wasn’t expecting a response as it was 9pm on a Friday night. We are spread up and down the East coast now and some of us have babies, new jobs, new friends, and other things that keep us occupied on a Friday night.  But almost immediately I got a response.

ahhh!  I’m having flashbacks!

And before I could respond, another text came in:

Hahah! Just leaving the gym and “slave 4 u” and “toxic” both came on my ipod!

We proceeded to reminisce for a few minutes via text and it was great to share those memories.  Music has played such a huge role in my life and certain songs always bring me back to different moments in my life.  Those three songs we talked about tonight transported me back to Douglass College circa 2001-2003.   I love that we can reach out to each other thanks to technology.  While we may not see each other as often as we did when we shared a dorm, we can still get in touch with the pressing of a few buttons.  Those girls are still my best friends and I don’t know what I would do without them.

Now if only we could find some time to hang out!

Not-so-free Italian Ice #sol14

I’ve spent the past four days dreaming of my free Rita’s Italian Ice on the first day of spring.  It’s a tradition for Rita’s to offer free ices on the first day of spring and I’ve been going since college.  When I was at Douglass my girlfriends and I piled into a car for the short drive down Ryder’s Lane.  We’d wait on the line and shoot the breeze, enjoying the beautiful weather.  Then we’d sit at the picnic tables overlooking Ryders Lane and eat our Italian ice, sampling the flavors everyone got.

After that, Chris and I used to go after he got out of work.  We’d head to the closest Rita’s when he lived in his apartment after graduation and there was rarely a line.  It was glorious!

Then when I started working in Manalapan my friends and I would head to Rita’s immediately after school on the first day of spring.  We’d wait on line, usually behind some of our current or former students, and we’d eat our ices in the parking lot.  We’d decompress from the day at school and start counting down the days until summer vacation.

Now we all work at different schools.  Chris and I are on opposite sides of the state during the day and while there is a Rita’s near his office there isn’t one within 15 miles of my school.  Chris sent me a picture of the Key Lime Italian ice he enjoyed during his lunch and I waited patiently to get mine after school.  What flavor would I get?  Lemon? Mango?  Maybe pay a dollar for the dollop of soft serve on top?

I came home from school and took the dogs for a quick walk.  Then I got them into the car, figuring the outing would be good for them, and headed to the nearest Rita’s.  The parking lot was a bit of mess but from my vantage point the line didn’t look bad.  I’d probably have to wait a few minutes but I had time.

Then I walked around the other side of the building and saw the real line.  It looked something like this:

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It had to be an hour long.  And I didn’t have the patience for that.  Neither did the dogs that I had foolishly brought with me for the supposedly short trip.

I went home sad and still craving Italian ice.  Dinner came and went and couldn’t stop thinking about the water ice I missed out on.  I’d been waiting for it all week.

That’s when I decided I was going to get that water ice and I wasn’t going to wait on any lines.  Chris and I hopped in the car and made our way to Ralph’s Italian Ice, a local staple that I prefer over Rita’s.  Sure, it cost me $3 for my chocolate mousse creme ice but that was a lot cheaper than my time!

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Dublin is in the background, hoping he can have my Italian ice. I don’t think so, buddy!

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