Happy Birthday Bryan Collier!

Good Afternoon Friends,

On this final day of January, I want to pay homage to a terrific award-winning author by way of a little Throwback post. After receiving my daily Happy Birthday Author newsletter, I was struck with inspiration to share this post. Although this post would have served my teacher friends better had I done it last week, but alas. Enjoy!

Original Post: January 19, 2013
Happy Saturday!

Any fun plans for the three day weekend? I'm doing MCAS-Alt work (our state's standardized comprehensive assessment alternative - in portfolio format) for one of my students, going to wedding expos (yes, more than one!), and watching me some football with the fiancé. Oh yes, and studying. I am back in school now, for my FINAL semester of Graduate School!!! w00t.

As we all know, MLK Day is on Monday, and while we enjoy having a three-day weekend, it is important to commemorate such an inspirational historical figure. I make sure every year to celebrate Dr. King's life with my students, usually starting out reading Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport.  I use this opportunity to discuss issues of inequality, prejudice, and racism. It is a heated debate, but I think children deserve to know the truths of our history. It does them no service to shelter them for the realities of life. This is one of my favorite read alouds of the year, as it allows for really meaty and philosophical discussions.

 During our discussion of the book and the activity, we discuss the illustrator, Bryan Collier's technique and what the images make us think of. We discuss how the pictures make us feel and compare them to other techniques illustrators use. We discuss why the artist may choose mixed media collages instead of paintings or sketching. After our read aloud and discussion, we create our own images of MLK using the illustrator's technique of mixed media collaging.
I provide the students with different scraps of paper, ranging from tracing paper, construction paper, scrapping book paper, to paper with heavier textures. I use an image I created as an example for the students.

After creating the collage, students are provided with a quotation from the book. You could allow the students to choose their own quotations, but I find it easier for my students to have a quotation chosen for them, as I see fit based on their abilities. One variation I have done in years past has been to have students write what the quotation means to them. This year, I nixed that extension to focus more on what the quotation means explicitly, based on my students needs this year.

This is always a fun activity and incredibly meaningful discussion topic. I have found that as Black History Month rolls around, my students are eager to have more of these discussions on inequality and segregation, and are itching for opportunities to debate these topics and fight for equality!

What MLK Day activities do you do in your classroom?


Easy Like Sunday Morning #13



Easy Like Sunday Morning #12

I have not stopped listening to this song since I heard it. I'm complete obsessed. You will be too.



Make Changes That Last!

Happy New Year! Hope you had a wonderful holiday season and aren't too hungover today ;)

Seeing as it's not only New Year's Day, but also Thusrday, it's the perfect time to share a throwback post about making resolutions and sticking with them!

Original Post: December 30, 2012

Hi again,

As I write this, I am snuggled up on my couch, with my pup laying on my lap, a sherpa blanket wrapped around me, and my Christmas Tree blazing. Oh yes, and I am sick as a dog...

What a great way to spend the last couple days of vacation. NOT! Boo...

I'm really really praying that I kick this head cold before I go back to work. I can't afford to feel sick the day after Winter Break. I'll get eaten alive!

Oh well, aside from drinking lots of fluids and resting, there's not much I can do. So I might as well look ahead to my New Years Resolution...and start thinking of how I can meet my goals for the year.

Thankfully, I am not alone. Many, many fellow bloggers are also thinking of their resolutions for the upcoming year, and many have linked up with others to hold themselves accountable. What a brilliant idea!

Setting goals for myself has always been easy...it's the execution and accountability that is the tough part. I know the things I need to work on. I dwell on them throughout the year. When the times come for New Years Resolution, I dive in head first. However, usually within just a short couple of weeks (if even that!), my fire dwindles, and my dream dies. That's it! No long drawn-out goodbye, no preparation, nada. It's just gone, and I feel numb. Numb because it's so darn cold outside because it's still January.

I went to a fabulous Goal Setting Workshop through Lululemon this past autumn. It had a wonderful grid to help me visualize my goals and write them down on paper. Check out their blog section on goal setting.

This video may be of interest to you if you are wondering about the power of writing down your goals. It may also be worth a listen if you are nervous about making your goals more real, or concrete. This video comes from the Lululemon blog, and is short (only about a minute).

I have decided to link up for 3 Linky Parties! (because I just love me a good soiree) But before I link up, I want to really set meaningful, manageable goals for the new year, and I suggest you do the same. Further, we need to be setting goals for ourselves; things we want to achieve, not things others want us to achieve, or things we think we should change about ourselves.

My first step is to identify my values and goals for my life overall. It's hard to make a resolution if it doesn't fit with your life plan and values for yourself. At the Goal Setting Workshop, we were provided with a terrific double-sided worksheet to help define these goals. I have adapted the first page slightly as seen below.

get this worksheet from my Google Docs

This worksheet was downloaded straight from the Lululemon blog. If you download the PDF file from the website and have access to Adobe, you can type directly into the form. I prefer writing down my goals with pencil (I'm sure its something kinesthetic related, but I don't know what)

get this worksheet from my Google Docs

I find this worksheet fabulous! Something about the set up, the colors, the font...it's all very enticing. It also helps that it comes from Lululemon, as I love them (as evident from my latest Tweet). If this worksheet doesn't work for you, don't be discouraged! When in doubt, create your own! Whatever works for you! But make sure when you do create something that works, maybe share it? Other's would love to see it (I know I would!).

This may seem a little overboard for something as mundane and routine as a New Years Resolution, but let's be real...should changing your life for the better feel mundane? Should it be a chore? NO! The New Year should inspire you to change! Change is good! Opportunities are good! You should feel empowered to make these life changes, not trapped. So please, take this seriously, and I promise you, by this time next year, you won't feel like you've failed last year's "goals", nor will you dread expanding your dreams for 2014.

Cheers to making lifestyle changes that last!

What changes/improvements/goals are you making this New Year? Comment to start a conversation!

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