First Class Ice Breaker

I hate 2 truths and a lie. More often than not, it’s done with a group of people who know each other fairly well, so it’s not that exciting. During the first week of school the schedules are wonky, some things take forever, others only 5 minutes. For the days when I only have 5 min of stuff in a 15 min chunk, I came up with some fun questions. Some are more personal, some are serious, some are silly, some are would you rather. Along with questions for the students, I threw in “Ask the teacher a question” cards to give them the chance to ask ME some good ones.

  1. What animal are you most afraid of? Why?
  2. What is your favorite color. Be specific.
  3. Stripes or Polka dots?
  4. What is your favorite donut flavor?
  5. What motivates you?
  6. The best superpower to have would be…? Why?
  7. Summer or winter?
  8. Have you ever traveled out of the US? If yes, where did you go?
  9. If you could be a dinosaur, what kind would you be?
  10. What is your favorite TV show?
  11. What is your favorite movie series?
  12. Who is your favorite superhero? Why?
  13. What is your favorite book series?
  14. Do you have any idea where you want to go to college?
  15. If you had to be a teacher, what would you teach? Why?
  16. What was your favorite book as a child?
  17. Dogs or cats?
  18. If you had $5,000 how would you spend it?
  19. Coffee or tea?
  20. What is your favorite book? Why?
  21. What is your favorite time period? Why?
  22. What is your number 1 goal in the next 6 months?
  23. If you could be any animal for a week what would you be? Why?
  24. Do you have a fear of public speaking?
  25. What actor/actress would you have play you in a movie about your life? Why?
  26. Chocolate or strawberry milk?
  27. If you were on a TV game show, what show would it be?
  28. If you could eat dinner with a dead person, who would it be and why?
  29. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
  30. What is your favorite cartoon?
  31. If ability, time, and money weren’t an issue, what would be your dream job?
  32. Who is your favorite Disney character
  33. Who has been your favorite teacher EVER? Why?
  34. What are you most worried about this school year? Why?
  35. What hobby would you like to start/learn? Why?
  36. Who is your favorite author? What genre do they write?
  37. Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, verse, or motto?
  38. If you could be a Disney princess, who would you be? Why?
  39. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  40. What is your favorite book series? Why?
  41. Do you have any siblings? Who’s your favorite?
  42. The best song to dance too is…?
  43. M&Ms or Skittles?
  44. What is your absolute least favorite food? Why?
  45. If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Why?
  46. What kind of wake up alarm do you have? Song/music or buzzer/ring?
  47. Do you have any hidden talents?
  48. What is your favorite sport? Why?
  49. Beach or mountains?
  50. Where is your family from?
  51. Where were you born?
  52. When you think of comfort food, what do you think of?
  53. What has been your favorite Shakespeare play? Why?
  54. What is something you really struggle with that you’d like to improve/get better at?
  55. What is your favorite kind of soup?
  56. Would you rather: 30 screaming babies in a room or one very hungry alligator?
  57. Take a bath in ice cubes or tomato soup?
  58. Do you collect anything? What is it?
  59. What do you never leave the house without?
  60. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  61. If you could be a Disney villain, who would you be? Why?
  62. If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be? Why?

Have any other questions you think would be fun!? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

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Look At Me! I’m Organized!

STUDENT TEACHING HAS STARTED! Last week I got into my classroom for the semester. I have my own little desk, book-case and corner that’s ALL MINE! I can’t even begin to tell you all how excited I am and what it has taken to get here. Everything the last 4 years has led to this! I am in a wonderful school district, with a co-op that I LOVE.

Yesterday was my first day, and I finished moving in. Here is what my little corner looks like thus far.

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The front of my desk is rocking bead buddies and stained glass projects my summer school kids did this summer. If you can’t tell, the stained glasses are Beauty and the Beast themed.

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Recognize that pot? See how I made it HERE! Miss Swenda is written and facing front towards the students. “Called Equipped Prepared” is a reminder just for me! Cinderella’s glass slipper and the Disney princess cup are from a bridal shower I was at a few weeks ago.

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I am really proud of these drawers. Yes, I have an entire drawer of snacks. I have a schedule that gives me the ability to snack every few periods. I regret nothing. My other drawer holds my tea, binder clip collection, stationary, and other rando things.

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I have a nice little bookshelf to keep all of my stuff. Obviously, it’s full of classics and the majority of the Folger Shakespeare Library collection. My brother hooked me up with Dancing Groot and Albus Dumbledore and I certainly couldn’t leave them at home! Bob my Philadelphia Flyers Gnome has a place of love as well. One of the best things I learned from my previous co-op was unit binders. You can see the stack of them to the right of the above picture. For each unit, I have created a binder. Over the years I have and will continue to collect handouts, projects and general things to go with the different units. IMG_7189

The cool part of having a mom that has been working in schools for so long, is that she has some pretty fun decorations and ideas. Ma hooked me up with these cute little fall leaves. Together, we came up with “What Miss Swenda is reading…” The top leaf has the name of the book. The bottom leaf lists the author, genre, number of pages and style. I am currently reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. It falls into sci-fi/fiction/historical, has 414 pages and is written like diary/journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings. For different holidays/months I will have different shapes to show my what I’m reading. As an English teacher, I feel it’s important to show the kids not only that I am reading, but also give them a glimpse of who I am through my reading.

We have some awesome projects planned for the kids this year- I can’t wait to share some of them right here! 🙂

Spare Time Writers

I am SO excited to finally be student teaching in the fall. I was blessed to have an incredible field experience teacher who let me teach a unit on my own. That alone is an experience most students do not have before their student teaching. Another blessing that is coming with student teaching in the fall is that I have the entire summer to prep. I have already met with my co-op and she is in the same hallways as my field experience co-op so we already know each other!

I will be teaching 9th and 10th grade honors. When I first started college, I thought that I wanted to be a college professor. I wanted to run to that position as fast as humanly possible. Then I got into a classroom. I was spoiled with an amazing group of 9th graders, and I fell in love.

Writing can be a struggle and at times very boring, especially for high schoolers. Unlike elementary ed, secondary teachers usually don’t walk away with baskets of goodies at the end of their student teaching…or holidays…or at all really. I have come up with a way to get both.

I scoured pinterest, blogs, books and the internet for pictures and writing prompts. Some of the writing prompts are as simple as captioning a picture. Some are personal, asking the students to write about a mentor or a favorite book. Others require the students to write a scene or short story using a provided sentence, setting, character or phrase. Some are silly while others are serious and heartfelt.

I am going to be putting these prompts in a bucket. Students will be able to grab one if there is time at the end of class, if they need/want writing inspiration-whenever. They then write and return both the prompt and their writing to a bin. If there is time at the end of class, I will open the floor for students to share what they have written through the week, if they so choose. I will collect their writings throughout my 16 weeks of student teaching in a binder as my keepsake and memento of my time with them.

You can use these writing prompts for your own creative writing to aid writers block. You can use them in a classroom. I have done the work and I am now sharing it with the world, because, sharing is caring.

I suggest printing these spare time writers, cutting them, and pasting them on index cards for extra strength. To really make them last, laminating them might not be a bad idea either!

Happy Writing!

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Planner Bag and Sticker Storage with Taylor

This video was done by my planner friend Taylor! It combines two of my favorite things- Erin Condren planners AND Vera Bradley. I actually worked at Vera Bradley for a little over a year and have so much it’s crazy!

The Vera Travel Organizer is one of my favorite pieces. It usually sits on a shelf with the rest of my Vera, under-used because it’s a travel item. When I do travel and want to bring my planner stuff, it is a full Vera Tote of stuff all on its own. I like that each section has its own purpose and really keeps it organized instead of it all getting thrown together. I currently have a cute Target One Spot felt envelope that I keep my planner in. I see changing that in the near future! My planner fits perfectly and I have room on the sides to stash pencils/pens.

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I couldn’t have come up with better a better sticker storage idea if I tried! I currently have 3 Target One Spot accordion folders for my sticker collection.

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One small one holds my Erin Condren personalized stickers that come with planners/notebooks (top). My first medium-sized one holds stickers topically- animals, food, birthday, quotes, school etc. My second medium folder has stickers organized by month/holiday, February/Valentines Day, July/Fourth of July….you get the picture. It can be kind of a pain when I’m trying to plan. In my infinite wisdom I got matching folders to be cute…and I always grab the wrong one! By putting them in a binder like Taylor, that eliminates a lot of the problem because there is simply more room. I can put them all in one spot and have them labeled with tabs! Staples and Michaels constantly have binders like that for sale. One more project to add to the organizing list!

If you enjoyed her video, you can follower her YouTube account Ask Me About My Planner. To see more of her massive sticker collection and general cool planner things, follow her on Instagram @AskMeAboutMyPlanner!

Don’t forget to follow Brunetteswithbrains on Instagram for blog posts and other random fun, Pinterest and right here on WordPress!

Where can you find a planner to use all of these adorable additions!? Here is a referral link for $10 off of a purchase of an Erin Condren planner for yourself! After you create an account you will receive an email with the code. 2015 planners are currently 40% off and you can use the additional $10 off making planners $20! 2015-2016 planners will be rolling out in June! HAPPY PLANNING!

EC Life Planner Surprise!

A friend of mine at school mentioned that she liked my planner. I have a teacher planner and she is not going to be a teacher, so it would have been a bit much. I love converting people into Erin Condren fans….so I got her a life planner for her birthday next month! With the coupon that came along with the planner….I GOT MYSELF A LIFE PLANNER TOO! YAY!

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I absolutely LOVE Erin Condren boxes. They look as happy as the fun stuff on the inside! Because this is a gift, I covered up the name! This particular planner is “Scales” and I LOVE it!

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Each month there is a full view with a quote, holidays already marked and a notes section down the side.

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Every week has a full two-page spread! Every day has a “Morning” “Day” and “Night” section. This is going to be PERFECT for her to keep track of classes, practices and homework assignments! There is a section for Goals/Notes on the left hand side, and lines on the bottom to mark workouts, food, to-dos, etc.

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After the calendars and weeks are done there are lined pages and blank pages for notes, lists, to-dos-what ever you want to use them for!

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As with all EC planners, there are stickers in the back! There is one whole page of birthday stickers. Being that we are still in school PLUS family, we do have a lot of birthdays to keep track of! The second page stickers say “game!” “day off!” “hair appt @____” “dentist appt@____” “sale!” “doc appt @____” “concert!” “mani/pedi” “party!” and “vacation!” There are also two whole sheets of blank stickers to personalize as needed.

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The two-sided Keep It Together pockets also came with a “forget me not” calendar and contacts booklet! SWEET!

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The back clear zip pouch, as with all EC planners, came with personalized stickers. The bottom 3 are general and the top 3 match the planner and have her name printed on the bottom. Since this is a gift I hid her name. I LOVE these stickers and have a whole pile of my own. They really are great for gift giving and they are just so fun.

I can’t wait to give this functional, cute little gift! If you have a friend that would like some help organizing their life, this is the perfect gift. It’s not too bad as a gift to yourself either…ya know…Christmas gift to yourself, help you keep track of those New Year’s resolutions you keep saying you want to do….

Here is a referral link for $10 off of a purchase of a planner for yourself! After you create an account you will receive an email with the code. HAPPY PLANNING!

EC Teacher Planner Update

I LOVE MY ERIN CONDREN TEACHER PLANNER! Yes, I am obsessed. I love Erin Condren SO much I have now bought my best friend a Wedding Planner, there is a Life Planner in the mail on its way for another friend for Christmas and I bought my co-op teacher the Owl Lesson Planner Notepads!

Though I have the teacher planner, I am currently not in a classroom to need to use the lesson planning section on my students so I have been using it myself. Here are some pictures that show how I’ve turned my teacher planner into a student planner for the time being.

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I write in the lesson plan section left to right morning to evening. I use the last two columns to write out assignments that I need to do that day/evening. Work and classes fill up most of the other boxes.

I use the month view to keep track of my work schedule and write out when assignments are due. I also have breaks and visits listed.

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I LOVE the stickers that come with the planner and use them constantly. I have been cutting them in half to make them go farther and so they do not take up quite so much room in my little boxes and it has been working nicely. I have my classes, jobs and activities color coordinated as best as possible. It is not as pretty as some other planners I have seen, but I am working on it! My washi collection is slowly but surly growing!

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Ethan LOVES superheros so I was super excited when I found the onomatopoeia comic book tape I HAD to have it! Any visits to or from him are now denoted with the onomatopoeia tape! I can’t wait to grow my washi and sticker collection over the coming months to try and brighten and spruce up my planner!

To get a coupon for $10 off your own Erin Condren goodies, use this referral link! https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/annaswenda0116 

Check out my full planner review here, and my on-the-go notebook and calendar review here! Stay tuned for my Wedding and Life Planner reviews in the coming weeks!

Happy Planning!

Because I Need One More Notebook

Because I needed one more EC notebook….I got my second On-The-Go Notebook. This one, does not match my teacher planner or my first OTGNB. This one is personal.

My last notebook and goodies came wrapped up in pink. This time, I got a beautiful minty green! IMG_4164

And SURPRISE! A $10 off coupon! Seriously, I love EC and her little surprises SO MUCH!

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I purchased this notebook while EC was still sending a free On-The-Go 18 month calendar, so I got another one of them! I ordered a set of just the platinum head/book bands. I only wear them in my hair. They are AWESOME! I get compliments on them all of the time. As you can see, I got the British flag with this cover. Let’s all be surprised, the girl who is an English Lit concentration and LOVES English history got that particular cover. HAHA. To see what the notebook and calendar look like inside, check out my previous post The Notebook Has Arrived!

As with just about everything you order from EC, I got another set of stickers. 3 of them are repeats, but 3 of them specifically match my notebook!! I LOVE THEM! I have a whole collection of personalized stickers and I can’t wait to use them all of the time!

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Check out my other EC goodies at “The Package” and “New EC Notebook!

If you would like your own Erin Condren goodies AND a $10 off coupon on your purchase, click the link below! After signing up with the link, you will receive a $10 coupon code in a welcome email! 🙂

EC $10 Coupon

The Notebook Has Arrived

I LOVE Erin Condren packaging. It is so adorable. And so super exciting to receive when it comes!!! 😀

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Yes, I got ANOTHER pack of markers. They are the best and I plan on passing them out to my fellow teachers once school starts next week. THAT’S how much I like them.

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The notebooks come with a little ruler. Yes, my notebook and teacher planner match. The planner is the larger of the two. It also comes with a clear, plastic, zipper pouch, blank stickers and folder just like the planners which is really nice I think. It also comes with more of the personalized gift stickers. I now have a set of “Miss. Swenda” and “Anna Swenda” stickers.

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The notebook itself is pretty swell. The majority is lined pages with blank pages for free doodling/writing in the back.IMG_3995

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I was also able to get my notebook in time to receive the free 18 month calendar. This, I passed on to my mom. It is sleek enough for her to throw it in any of her purses. She is passed the point of motherhood where she needs the FULL life planner. She’s quite thankful for this. I also let her steal a few of my extra stickers to decorate the outside.

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Just like regular planners, there is a pretty display for the month and a page for notes. Unlike the regular planners, in the bottom right corner, there is a full month display with the dates. When you turn the page, there is a full, two-page, month spread with a column for notes. The top has a cute little saying, as with all of her other planners.

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My second notebook and pack of headbands will be coming shortly! I think it’s safe to say I have a problem. 🙂

If you would like your own Erin Condren planner, notebook or any other goodies, use the link below to receive $10 off your purchase in your welcome e-mail! 🙂 

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/annaswenda0116

Of Mice and Men- John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men was probably one of the shortest books you ever read in high school. You are probably reading this for one of 3 reasons. 1. You are a fan and like to see how other people feel about the book. 2. You are getting ready to reread it after a span of time since you read it in high school. 3. You have never read the book because you are either still in high school or went to a high school with a poor English department. Yes, those are fightin’ words. No student should make it through high school without reading this book.

It’s literally about 100 pages and takes a few hours to read. I read this my Sophomore year of high school and loved it then. My English teacher Mr. K was so excited to have a student that would debate and argue with him. I was in a basic, college prep class so participation was usually on the lower end. I, just the year before had had to go through the trauma of putting down our beloved English Springer Spaniel Ashley because she was suffering from stomach cancer. The theme of euthanasia is the hardest theme of the book to grasp. To come to terms with. Other themes like friendship, fraternity, and the American dream also permeate through the pages.

This past semester in my Secondary English Curriculum class we had to do unit plans. These unit plans were on Of Mice and Men. I also had to do one for The Canterbury Tales in my Writing Process class. The picture below does not quite do this unit plan justice. The unit handout gives you an idea of what all I had to create as far as extra handouts and the lesson plans themselves. It was longer than the book itself- honest to goodness.

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Obviously, I myself had to reread the book for this class. I had to look at it from a different perspective. I had to ask myself teacher questions like “What could be focused on in this section?” “What is the importance of this quote?” “How would students react to this part?” Catch my drift?

I put a TON of work into this project. I also reread the book twice while working on it. I thoroughly enjoy this book. This time period of American history is one of my favorites. Also, that English teacher that I mentioned above- he presented it in a way that made me LOVE IT. I wanted to learn, I wanted to read, and he inspired me to write a unit plan that gave my students the chance to interact and get as much out of those 107 pages as I had as a student.

To speak to those 3 kinds of people I referenced towards the beginning:

1. I’m not a huge fan of John Steinbeck. I’m sorry. Grapes of Wrath is still sitting on my self not even a quarter of the way read. BUT, he captured a moment in time, and addressed some very real issues in America then and issues that still drip through society today. I enjoy this book for so many reasons. One of them is that though it is short, it can pack a serious punch depending on who and how it is being read.

2. Students and adults alike could get something out of this book. It’s one of those books where, if read more than once with a few years in-between, each time it is read, new lessons and things stick out. For example, when I read it in high school, the big deal was euthanasia. As a college student reading it, I pay more attention to the relationships and interpersonal interactions that take place on the ranch. As a teacher I see how it all can be relative in the past, in the present and in the future.

3. If you are still in high school and just getting ready to begin- I know assigned books are a drag. I spent most of my high school and collegiate career putting assigned readings and books on the back burner because they are NEVER really that good. This one is, trust me. It’s all in what you make of it. See point #2 above. If you have graduated and STILL have not read this book. I am sorry. Truly, I am. If you were forced to read something like Huckleberry Finn but NOT Of Mice and Men at some point in your academic career, that is the fault of the department. Again, I will reference point 2 above.

Yes, this was the third time since February that I have read Of Mice and Men this year. It is my fourth time over all. It takes me about 2 hours to knock out depending on how in-depth I am reading and what I am expecting to get out of it this time around. Part of my unit plan was giving the students made up scenarios that people at that time may have faced. These ranged from farmers, single guys with no prospects, families on the coast wanting a new life, and one very similar to the situation of George and Lenny. The purpose of the exercise is to engage the students in the emotion. To get their wheels turning.

What would I do? What would I have done? I ask myself these questions a number of times throughout the reading. What would I have done had someone’s aunt asked me to take care of their mentally handicapped nephew? What would I do if my dreams suddenly had the potential to actually come to fruition after years of hardship and thinking it would only ever be a dream? What would I have done if I was in Lenny’s position? Candy? Slim? Curly’s wife?

Regardless of whether you are a 1, 2 or 3, I challenge you to really READ Of Mice and Men. Don’t just let the words and sentences float by. Stop now and again and answer those questions. Do some research into the time period. If you were placed in the same situation today would you make the same choices as the characters in the book? If you were placed in the same situation during the same time period of the book, do you think you would make the same choices then?

American literature classic. Everyone should read this book at least once, if not twice in their life time.

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If you would like more info on my Unit Plan: Handouts, Worksheets, ETC feel free to ask!