Princeton, New Jersey

It was the perfect day for a mini road trip, so my friend Claire and I headed to Princeton. We had planned to go apple picking, but the line was so long we went to Princeton University instead. The campus is beautiful, and the weather was just right! We wandered around for a bit, then grabbed some hot coco and pumpkin bread from a nearby Starbucks (delicious!) for a picnic on the lawn.
P.S. My shirt is from Lauren James, it’s so comfortable! Perfect for fall!


3 Things I Love This Week

  • New Girl. I don’t know what made me suddenly give this series another shot, but now that I have, I can’t. stop. watching. I watched a bit of season one a couple of years ago, but it never held my interest. A stroke of boredom (can you believenew-girl-season-3-620x330 I even have time to be bored?), led me to watch season two episode one, and I have been hooked ever since! The lightness of it makes for a good break between everything else I’m doing.
  • The Great Debate. I have been going over commas with the kids this week, so after our lesson I showed this video about the Oxford comma debate. It gets the point across without taking a particular side, and the cartoons are pretty laughable. (P.S. TED Lessons are amazing, I will definitely be using more of them!).
  • Loft. I have absolutely fallen in love with a clothing store. Whenever I’m in Loft I’m tempted to buy everything, but my wallet stops me (you’re a teacher, not a doctor, remember?). Everything is super comfortable, but also very work appropriate. I’ve had my eyes on a pair of boots for awhile and I”m currently kicking myself for not buying them when they had a  40% off everything sale. Speaking of sales, Loft has a a lot of them – so be sure to subscribe to the newsletter! *UPDATE! In the hours after I posted this, Loft announced 50% off the entire site. I finally bought the boots I have been wanting! Use code: OURTREAT, move quickly the sale ends tomorrow (10/9). Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.37.44 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.49.36 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.38.11 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.41.26 PM

Do What You Love

I feel like I haven’t posted in forever! With Back to School Night, observations, and SGO’s, the past week was nonstop. It was my first Back to School Night, so I was pretty nervous, but for the most part I think it went well. I even got a few, “You’re my son/daughter’s favorite teacher!”, which is really nice to hear when you put so much time into what you do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately – how to balance it, when to compromise, and when to “ignore the clock”. I have probably mentioned before that I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in second grade. Now that I’m finally teaching, I have been dedicating nearly all of mrecite-20833--604341407-1b5s14ly time to it. At first it was really overwhelming to realize I wouldn’t have much free time anymore. However, as I got into more of a “groove”, I began to realize it doesn’t matter to me how busy I am, because I enjoy what I do. As cheesy as it may sound, when that struggling student has a lightbulb moment, or the girl who said she doesn’t like reading picks up a book and enjoys it – it makes all of the nights and weekends spent planning worth it.

What I’m getting at, is that you should find what you love and make time for it. As Steve Jobs said, work will take up a large part of your life, so don’t tread lightly on the idea of doing what you love. It should be the most important thing on your “to-do list”, to find the job that makes you happy. And if you’re not doing what you love, I’m a strong believer that it’s never too late to start over.



Everything You Need to Know About EF College Break

Three years ago, I took a thirty day trip to Europe with EF College Break. The company organizes trips to Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa for anyone age 18 to 26. The trip you book includes flight, hotel stay, most transportation, and a welcome dinner, and a farewell dinner. You can book alone, or with friends. I booked my trip alone, which at the time, was completely out of character for me. When I was younger, I would actually beg my mom not to take me to summer camp. So, voluntarily signing up to be away from home for 30 days was a big deal – and the best decision I have ever made.

Here’s everything you need to know about EF College Break:

BEFORE THE TRIP you’ll get a chance to “meet” everyone in an invite-only Facebook group for your particular tour (time to change that profile picture to something that says “I’m fun to hang out with!”). The tour guide also uses this group, so it’s a great way to ask questions, collaborate with others about what you’re bringing (a lot of people in my group discussed what kind of phone they were using), and even meet a potential roommate.


Quick Tip: Be wary of securing a roommate before the trip has even started. You don’t want to get stuck with someone before getting to meet everyone else. By not having a set roommate, I got placed with someone new every time we switched hotels, which led me to meet a lot of new people.

ON TRAVELING: You may spend a lot of time in a bus or tIMG_9188.JPGrain. I did the “30 days in Europe” tour and while I had the time of my life, I wish I was more prepared for the long hours we would be spending in the bus. On my trip, we had 5-7 hour bus rides every three days. Though it was exhausting, it’s all worth it because you see so much! The bus trips are usually broken up with short stops along the way. The picture to the right is when we stopped in Assisi (it quickly became one of my favorite places). Another time, we stopped at Pont du Gard in Italy to swim and sun bathe beneath the ancient Roman bridge (how many people can say they’ve done that?).

Quick Tip: When booking your trip, look at the itinerary and beware of the days that say, “Travel to________”. You may want to google the distance to see just how much time you’ll spend in a bus or train.

THE TOUR GUIDES: While I can’t speak for every tour guide (though I’ve heard good things), my tour guide was amazing. She spoke about four different languages fluently and knew all the best spots to eat, sightsee, or just hang out. Not only was she knowledgeable, but she was also fun to be around. So get your idea of the typical tour guide (remember Miss Ungermeyer in the Lizzie McGuire movie?) out of your head, EF tour guides are anything but.

ON TOURING: it’s good to know that nothing is mandatory. Every day your tour guide will have the day scheduled with things to do and places to see, but you don’t need to do any of it. A lot of people go along because it’s fun to be with the group and the trips are, 90% of the time, the exact thing you were wanting to do. However, there are times when a museum or tourist attraction won’t look appealing to you, and that’s okay.

Remember: Nothing is mandatory. Don’t waste your time on something you don’t absolutely want to do, you’re only in each city for 2-3 days.

IMG_9195.JPGON PACKING: I can’t stress this enough, pack light. This is not a vacation where your bag stays in the room and you can live out of your suitcase for a week. You are traveling constantly (see above) and there are many times you’ll have to walk around with your luggage. Often times the bus can’t park right in front of the hotels because of the narrow streets, so you’ll be forced to roll your luggage up and down the cobblestone side streets of whatever foreign city you’re in. And more often than not, the hotels will not have elevators. So when you’re deciding whether to bring that third pair of heels, think again.

Quick Tip: Bring non-perishable snacks from home. It sounds crazy, but you’ll be thanking yourself when everyone is spending money every time their stomach growls (it adds up!). Granola bars come in handy when you’re hungry in the hotel room at 3 AM.

ON GOING ALONE: Don’t be afraid to sign up for a trip alone. While a good amount of people go with friends, plenty of people sign up alone tooIMG_9189.JPG. Like most things worth doing it was scary at the start, but at the end of it all I was a better person. I came home from the trip with a sense of independence, a view of the world (okay, Europe), and friends I know I’ll have for a lifetime.

OVERALL I definitely recommend EF College Break if you’re within the age bracket and looking to travel. It’s the easiest way to go- just sign up and leave the planning to the tour guides- and it’s reasonably priced.


3 Things I Love This Week

1. Monsieur Adi Orchestral Rework of “Pretty Hurts”. This past Saturday I watched the “On the Run” tour HBO special and I soon after became obsessed with Beyonce. Jay-z is already one of my favorite artists, but seeing them together was mesmerizing. What a power couple! I stumbled upon this version of “Pretty Hurts” and it’s been on replay ever since.

2. Reading at the gym. With everything going on lately, I feel like I have no time for myself. I sometimes get frustrated thinking about all the things I want to do – there are just not enough hours in the day! On a particularly busy day I decided to kill two birds with one stone and bring my book to the gym. I wasn’t expecting to like the idea, but it turns out I love it. I try to do at least a mile a day, but when I’m reading I walk two miles without even noticing. It’s the perfect combination; not only have I found time for reading, but also a reason to walk a bit further!

3. Revlon nail polish. I normally don’t buy nail polish, I think it’s a waste of money ($8.00 for a teeny tiny bottle!) and whenever I paint my nails I chip them almost immediately after. So, I have grown to 300love the colorless look and embrace the au-natuarale. On a recent trip to my local CVS, Revlon’s Colorstay caught my eye. At 6.99 it was just the slightest bit less than Essie and OPI, so I decided to give it a try. I really love the way this nail polish looks professional without having to try too hard and it lasts longer than most other polishes. I had mine on for 10 days without chips (a new record!) and that’s without the top coat they suggest using.


Good Afternoon My Name is Russel!

In literature, we are learning about how we can make inferences based on indirect characterization: a character’s dialogue, thoughts, emotions, actions, and Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 9.29.05 PMlooks. When I first introduced this topic I used a clip from the Pixar movie Up (such a good movie!). We watched the clip twice. The first time, students identified character traits of Russell and Mr. Fredricksen and wrote them down in the balloons (I’m pretty happy with the worksheet I created; I found the picture on google images and then made “balloons” in Microsoft Word). Before beginning I did a quick review: “Should we write down that Russell is short?” Nooooo. “Right, because that would be what?” A physical trait! “We are looking for character traits“. The second time we watched, students looked for evidence to back up at least one of the character traits they found. For instance, we said that Russell is persistent because he continuously asks Mr. Fredricksen if needs help, despite the old man insisting he doesn’t.

This was all the perfect prep for the more difficult activity I had the students do next: a characterization worksheet I found here. I let them work in groups for the this one and encouraged them to use the thesaurus to find strong words. I was very impressed with what they came up with!

This clip has stuck with some of my students who now come into class everyday with a “Good afternoon my name is Russell, can I help you cross the street?”. I can’t help but laugh…at least they remember something, right? Haha.


Library Book Sales

IMG_9095.JPGYou know the feeling you get when you wander around a Barnes and Noble? You just want to buy everything…until you look at the price tag. 15-25 dollars for a book is outrageous, especially when there are so many less expensive options out there (I’m looking at you amazon!). Today, I decided to go to a book sale at a local library with the intention of buying a few (keyword: few) books for the classroom. Instead, I walked out with 18 books and six of them were for myself. The best part? All together it only cost me $7.40! That’s 18 books for the price of two cups of coffee. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to turn around and buy more, but the place was packed; it was really awesome to see everyone out buying good old-fashioned books. I will definitely be looking out for more of these sales and if you’ve never been, do some research to find out if a library near you is having one any time soon!

(P.S. You can find the Central Perk mug at Francesca’s!)


And We’re Off!

The first full week of school started out a bit bumpy (to be expected) and ended on a great note! I’m still trying to get in the groove of things, but so is everyone else – kids and teachers. Here are a few highlights:

  • I’m writing a personal narrative with the students. This week we started brainstorming ideas for our personal narratives, and I decided it would be nice to write along with the students. This turned out to be a great idea! Not only is it a good model, but it helps me to understand what the next step should be. I try out Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 10.16.49 PMtechniques from books and online myself first. If I like them, I share them in a mini lesson. My favorite technique (so far) has to be the 5W’s, it really helped us figure out what our small moments would be! I’m going to write my narrative about my trip to Europe, my small moment being when I wandered off alone in London and realized I could be independent.
  • We read children’s books to learn about plot. I put the students in groups and gave each group a book to read and analyze. It went really well, and I think the students enjoyed the books as much as I did. The books I used (in order of love to like): Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Boot and Shoe by Maria Frazee, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, I Don’t Want to be a Pea! by Ann Bonwill. (If you’re interested in using these books for plot, I can share the plot of each with you – just email me.)
  • We used our imaginations to write a fun story. I got the idea from Kristen Bower’s post, “25 Bellringer, “Do Now,” or Early Finisher Ideas to Start Your Year Off Right”, but used it as an assignment instead. Since we were learning about plot in literature, I brought the concept into language arts class by drawing a plot on the Smartboard and only giving students the exposition (Katniss EScreen Shot 2014-09-13 at 11.02.31 PMverdeen, at our school, yesterday). It was so nice to see the kids truly excited about writing; they couldn’t wait to share what they had written! One student even asked me if he could write part two of his story (Yes!! Of course!!). I told the students that although I wasn’t grading them, I was going to read them all. I think it’s important for students to receive feedback on their writing, without the stress of a grade. I will definitely be making this a more regular thing!

Now to plan this week!