Make today ridiculously amazing

Friday, August 3, 2012

Preparing for the new year

I have had one of the best summer breaks yet.  My family and I had the opportunity to take a fabulous trip to Hawaii, I celebrated my 10 year wedding anniversary and was swooped off to the Grand Canyon, and have now started to coach volleyball.  And of course had many fun days with my 3 little ones at home.  We exploded soap in the microwave, played with water beads, made a light box, took glow in the dark baths, make things glow with a blacklight, froze small toys and chiseled them out, blew up balloons with baking soda, and some other crazy mad scientist experiments. I don't know who had more fun me or the kids!! (:  Now to prepare for the school year, in less than 3 weeks I'll report back to my classroom and be faced with a lot of work since our school is part of a turnaround process.  My goal for next week is to prioritize what I have left to do in order to have a great start to the year! I don't want to be playing catch up, my kids deserve the best!  My tip is to make a list and commit to getting 1-2 things done each day.  What strategies or tips do you use to make sure you are ready for the year?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

End of the year celebration with Cake Pops

So as part of our end of the year celebration we made various types of cake pops. Keep in mind none of us have ever made them before.  I honestly thought it would be super easy...roll the dough, dip in the candy, add some sprinkles, and let them dry.
Here are some pictures of our adventure and the story...

We found a recipe online that gave simple steps for the students to follow.  We even watched a video on making Cake Pops on EHow.com! Very cool that we had a visual of someone else walking us through the steps.  We then broke the students down into 4 groups with each group getting a different flavor of cake. We had chocolate, strawberry, yellow, and then a white with confetti.  We had thought about using a gluten free brownie mix but decided to pass at the last minute (not feeling very brave today...lol).  The first step of making the cake and letting it cool was a breeze.  We've made cakes plenty of times and the students were pros!
Next step after the cake was cool was to crumble it up and add some frosting to help form the balls.  This step is where it got pretty messy, and the adults ended up doing most of the rolling ):  We really try hard to set up activities that the kids can be almost completely independent during the steps, so it was a little disappointing. We still laughed a lot and had fun so that counts for something! Next we stuck a stick in each ball and melted the candies at the same time.  When dipping the cake balls into the candy melts, the balls kept falling off!! As you can see in the picture, we had blue candies to dip the balls..hehe. Anyways, the candy literally just ran right off the cake and made a big blob.  We decided to refrigerate the cake balls for a bit to see if that would help the candy set better.  It did seem to help quite a bit. Unfortunately, this job seemed to be a little to involved for our students, so we dipped and they chose which type of topping they wanted.  At this point, we were a little rushed, otherwise the students probably would've sprinkled the pop themselves. The candy seemed to harden quickly but still wasn't quite like the cake pops I have tasted before. The students were still satisfied and proud of their work. In the end that's what matters!! Better luck next time!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UPdated with pictures! Rock N Roll CBI

UPDATE: Finally

Here are some fun pictures of our trip....

It is finally time for us to go on our last CBI of the year! We are going out with a bang and taking a tour of the Kiss Monster Mini Golf course that just opened in Las Vegas. Toby Bolton, a LPGA Pro will be talking with us and then the students will get to learn to play miniature golf.  I was told there is an app now to keep your miniature golf score! Go figure, I shouldn't be surprised, there is an app for everything. I can't wait to teach the kids how to golf and see them experience all the black lights and other KISS decor! Darn, we should've listened to some of their songs and viewed pictures in our Pop Culture lessons this week. Oh well, it'll be a big surprise! Lol.  I'm going to have to be up extra early tomorrow to go pick up a district van for our trip, so super short post tonight.

P.S. Supposedly they have boots for you to try on.. Stay tuned for some rockin pictures!(:


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stocking Shelves

 As part of our vocational training on campus, we were able to designate one room that was split into various sections: stocking and pricing, setting a dinner table, folding and hanging clothes, a student store with a cash register, lounge area, bedroom, and an office.  We didn't get a chance to perfect each area, but we definitely have a head start for next year. 
Thanks to all those who helped us collect all these items!!
Other jobs on campus included sweeping common areas throughout the day, helping in the Graphic Arts room, custodial tasks such as dusting, washing windows, sweeping the carpet, cleaning chairs and tables, house jobs such as watering plants, cleaning out the refrigerator, wiping down a microwave, shredding important papers, sorting recycling, and even running school errands and checking mailboxes. 

Next year we hope to be back working in the cafeteria and in the school-wide student store.  We were proud that 5 of our seniors and post students were accepted into the District's work programs!

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

I'm going to miss our weekly CBIs to Smiths grocery store!  Since the school is within a mile of the grocery store, we are expected to walk. However with the high temperatures and the students' sensitivities to the sun and heat, we no longer can go.  We had a lot of fun finding recipes, making grocery lists, exploring the store's weekly ad, hunting for the items in the store, comparing prices, checking out, paying for the groceries, and then finally getting to cook on Fridays.  There is so much learning that can take place when going to a grocery store and after.  I think my favorite part was taking pictures (I took some and then showed a student how to also, he loved it!) of the various aisles, areas of the store, and signs.  We printed all the pictures and then used them as an activity in the classroom for matching and categorizing. Some of the other highlights of our trips over the last months were seeing grandparents of students shopping many times, having a student run through the aisles cause he didn't want to leave, walking around the whole store twice to look for milk, becoming familiar with the bathroom, knowing where chairs were to rest, getting weird looks for taking pictures, people walking away from us like we were a disease, and many more POSITIVE things (=  I can't wait to start all over again in September!!! 
Here is a list of some of the foods we prepared this year, we tried to use various appliances: ice cream, rainbow cupcakes, cornbread, smoothies, cereals, tacos, quesadillas, ham and cheese sandwiches, ice cream floats, mini-muffin pizzas, brownies, baked potatoes, cake pops, crock pot chili, grilled cheese, cookies, cinnamon rolls, muffins, jello, pudding, etc.
My plans for next year are to push for a healthier menu and attempt to put a cookbook together for each kid to take home at the end of the year...and all the chefs could sign it!!

And I'm looking for any ideas on how to store our pictures from the store, so they last longer and are quick and easy to set up.  I'm afraid an album would get torn up easily with those thin plastic pockets. I was thinking of just a box, but it would be nice if I could display them so kids could look through them also.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Darn that PG-13 Rating

UPDATE: Our tour of the hotel and CBI to a movie turned out wonderful! The kids asked appropriate questions during the presentation and were polite during breakfast.  When they arrived at the theater, we only had one minor issue of wanting to buy more snacks than they brought money for.  So we will be adding that to the list of activities for the rest of the year! The kids loved the movie and of course the popcorn.  We even had a chance to teach them about cleaning up the theater after the movie. Next CBI includes a presentation at Monster Mini-Golf with an LPGA Pro.

One of my student's wrote this list and drew pictures with the help of his classmates. My favorite one is "flatulence"!

First Happy Mother's Day, I hope all of you had a wonderful day.  I enjoyed our busy day with the kids and all the family, so thankful all worked out so well.  Now back to work already,  man these weekends have been flying by!
So the agenda this week for community outings includes a tour and presentation at Aliante Hotel and Casino followed by a movie.  Originally, the plan was to get a tour of the hotel area and learn about the various jobs they have to offer and then find an age appropriate movie that would be interesting to our students.  All the students in my classroom are high school aged and a few older ones. They had been watching movie trailers as part of our, Pop Culture lessons that we do daily. The students loved watching the one for Avengers, so we knew right away this was the one we wanted to take them too see. When submitting the paperwork to get approval for the outing, I was unaware that PG-13 movies were banned in the District all together, no matter what the movie is or if all the parents give permission (which they did, all 30).  First we were denied the trip all together. The Principal loved the idea of the tour and seeing various jobs but didn't see the connection with the movie portion and direct instruction. We were thankfully able to meet with him and show him that we were following a curriculum that was purchased by the school earlier in the year.  The curriculum has assessments specifically for learning appropriate social skills in a movie theater setting...score!!!  That idea right there helped our Principal see the light and reconsider our trip, and it's educational value to my students.
So the next problem goes back to the PG-13 rating, no go there. We were told find another movie that would be age appropriate...I thought no problem that has to be pretty easy, plus I was so excited that we still were given the chance to go the movie. Ha! Everything good for high school students IS PG-13.  Instead of dwelling on this, we just found the only PG movie that was somewhat appropriate, Pirate Bands of Misfits.  Well I take that back, Three Stooges is only PG, however I will not take my students to a PG movie that shows people punching each other in the head or where ever. So Pirates, here we come! I heard the movie was pretty funny, so I'm hoping the students pick up on the humor also AND of course learn jobs at theater, purchasing tickets, buying concession stand items, not talking loud during the movie, or getting up out of your seat many times, the list could go on of all the skills the students will be practicing that day! Catch you on the flip side.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Homemade Cards


A card made independently by one of my students!! He actually did this activity, it was good stuff!

Cuttlebug in action

I have been into scrapbooking and making cards for many years and have always wanted to add it to my curriculum in the classroom, whether for fundraising, just for fun, or even following multi-step directions.  The problem I always faced was that it was kind of cumbersome to set up and get completed in a short amount of class time, and I felt like we wasted a lot of the supplies.  So when starting off this year, I completely through that idea out the window and went on maternity leave as well! haha.  While on leave, I caught up on some cards and scrapbook pages and once again thought there has to be a way to simplify the process but still turn out really cute cards.  A friend suggested we try the Cuttlebug which dry embosses cards and can cut out die cuts. You just place the accessories and paper in the machine and turn a crank that rolls it through. What a great idea! Just paper and glue for these cards. I don't have to worry about stamps, inks, fancy scissors, etc. Not to mention having to clean the stamps off, kids hands off, and even clothes at times! I wanted the kids to make the cards, not me or my staff, so we would teach each step and let them do it. Don't get me wrong, the kids had so much fun using inks, but it was messy and the supplies aren't cheap.
Embossing Folder Design
So I had some classroom money left and needed to spend it quickly otherwise it would get used on other stuff, and Joanns was having a sale on die cuts and machines, perfect!  So I took the plunge and bought the Cuttlebug, some simple embossing folders and die cuts, paper, glue, and some chalk inks (much cleaner than stamping inks).
Our first project was Mother's Day Cards, it went so well I couldn't believe it!!  We made 4 stations: picking your color paper and cutting to size, using the Cuttlebug to design the outside of card, writing sentiment inside, and designing front with a phrase and getting your envelope. We made 18 cards in one class period and every kid could participate and made a unique card for their Mom.  The students only needed some assistance here and there, but I can definitely see that the kids will be independent soon enough with some more practice. And how easy to assess and show progress in following directions and many other vocational skills! Huge thanks to my friend Laura, who suggested this great little machine! I hope to add some pictures of our cards soon (=