The Package

Everyone LOVES getting mail. Who doesn’t? It’s even more spectacular when it’s a WHOLE BOX OF GOODIES! Really, how much more exciting could that be? I must say, I watched the FedEx tracker like my Springer/Beagle on the scent of a bunny in our backyard. I texted my mother from work this afternoon about every hour asking her if it had arrived yet. And finally, it happened. I got the text. “Your package arrived.” And what was in this glorious little package I had been waiting for so impatiently!? My new Erin Condren Teacher Planner.

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It arrived in a pretty box, and was wrapped so gingerly in bubble wrap and matching purple tissue paper. Pealing away the paper revealed my pack of goodies!

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My markers, head/planner bands and thank you stickers were right on top! Though I love these, the real treasure was underneath.

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This is my cover and inside flap. I won a gift card and had the extra few bucks to add that little personal detail. Picture by the wonderful Kimberly Kunda. She is Eric’s cousin so we’re slightly biased. ANYWHO! The covers a super thick and sturdy. I have no doubt that they will last dragging it around to college, high school, my house and Eric’s over the coming year.

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Here are some better pictures of my add on goodies. I was able to get 2 packs, one for me and one for my cooperating teacher. They are bright, fine tipped and don’t bleed. PERFECT for grading! The planner/head bands are AWESOME! They will be great to wear running around and working out!

Now for the nitty-gritty!

The planner opens with a page for personal information, classroom info, Holidays & Dates to Remember, Birthday Pages to keep track of student Birthdays, pages to keep track of absences and missed work, and graph paper.

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There is a year at a glance section where you can write things in like breaks, quarter endings, conferences, testing etc.

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Each month has a pretty cover, month over-view, and note pages. The month overviews have circles for you to manually enter the date. Kind of a pain in the butt, but I understand the purpose of it. There is also a nice quote that is relative to teaching at the top of each month over-view.

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After the monthly views, there are the lesson plan sheets! There is room for 7 classes and the 5 days of the week. I know that I am not teaching 7 solid classes, and actually will be teaching the same lesson multiple times in most cases. I am using at least 2 columns for my own personal classes. Thank goodness I am ALMOST DONE with school myself!

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There is the equivalent of an old-school grade-book. Being that I’ll just be student teaching, this will be more than enough room for what I’d be using it for. You do have the option to have extra of these pages added when buying. As a future high school teacher, we don’t have quite as many grades as, say an elementary school teacher.

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The planner came with 4 sticker pages. The stickers read as follows: Reminder, Progress reports due, Benchmark, Testing, Computer Lab, Conferences, Library, First Day, Last Day, Emergency Drill, Field Trip, Observation, Assembly @_____, IEP, Duty, Staff Meeting @_____, furlough, and Holiday. There are then 2 full pages of blank stickers to fulfill any other sticker needs you may require. Below, you can see the stickers that I created separately.

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After the sticker pages is a 2 sided folder. Tucked in this folder was my personalized stickers. My stickers read as follows: Test, Quiz, Payments, Spirit Week, Finals Week, Observation, Movie and First Day HS. Because I am still in school, I will have additional observations throughout my last field experience and student teaching. Both the high school and college have spirit weeks. OBVIOUSLY these are extremely important. Dressing up for 80s day is a MUST!

After the folder there is 3 awesome things. The first is a heavy duty, clear sheet protector. Perfect place for important school and emergency phone numbers/phone lists. The next awesome thing is a clear zip pouch. This hold paperclips, pens, stickers, what ever floats your boat. It is not removable so I would be careful keeping pens/pencils so as to not have bumps writing in the planner. Inside the pouch there were personalized stickers with my name on them already with blank To: and From: stickers. The third awesome thing is a 2 year calendar over-view. Awesome because you have to manually enter the dates in the month over-views, and also just nice to be able to look at it all laid out.

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There were 2 unexpected surprises with this purchase. The first was a $10 EC GC as a Thank You/Welcome gift! The second was a sample pack of gift stickers that say “Enjoy-Anna, Just a little something from Anna.” There are a few variations and they come in multiple Erin Condren patterns. As per all of the planners, teacher or life, it came with a ruler that is great as a place holder for what page you are on/using.

I have already started entering some little things into my planner. Stay tuned for more decorating and organizing as I begin to use the planner in earnest and begin both my last year of college and continue my trek to becoming a high school English teacher! I am obsessed with this line and all of Erin Condren’s great products. By using this link, you can get $10 off of your own EC Planner! I’m sure you will see more posts on new goodies coming to me in the near future as well!

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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!