Teaching

VIP Students

I often find that the most useful and engaging activities in my classroom are also the most simple!

A few days ago, I saw a great idea on Instagram from Brittney Briggs aka Miss5th. She does an end of the year countdown with balloons. Each student’s name is inside a balloon, and the day that the balloon is popped, that student is the VIP. I absolutely LOVED this idea (as with all of her ideas!! – go check her out!), and I hinted at it last Thursday when talking to my students. Of course, as all my inspirations and fun ideas do, it got railroaded by the 75 other things I was trying to do. Then, Friday rolls around and I still don’t have balloons. No problem – I just tell my students we’re starting fresh on Monday with our VIP student countdown. Monday morning rolls around and…you guessed it, I frantically realize right before my students arrive that I STILL don’t have balloons! As much as I love doing fun ideas like this, it can also be overwhelming and lead to disappointment when it doesn’t turn out as beautifully as what I envisioned. But never fear – I am the queen of backup plans and making boring things seem fun. 🙂

I had an extra bag of about 10 Tootsie Pops and I had some white labels. Five minutes later, I had student names wrapped around the Tootsie Pop sticks. Of course, with only 10 pops, I had to write “Buy more lollipops!” on my shopping list and then I had to hide the list of names that weren’t on lollipops yet. (Don’t worry – I stopped after school today and got the rest of the lollipops!) Delicately dropping the Tootsie Pops into the beautifully created hand-woven basket that I made just for this occasion (okay fine, I dropped them unceremoniously into a brown paper lunch bag that I haphazardly wrote “Summer Countdown! on), I was ready for the kids to get back from specials and for the first VIP student to be drawn.

When they got back to the room, I excitedly shared what would be happening. Each day, a new VIP would be chosen. This VIP would get three privileges. 1. Sitting in my inflatable hammock for the day, 2. Sitting in the wheeled teacher chair, and 3. Deciding when we do RTS time that day. You should have heard the excitement in the room! They were SO excited about the fact that they could choose ANY time of day to be our “Read to Self” time. They asked, “Wait, can we really do it in the middle of math??” I explained that I have 15 minutes set aside each day for RTS anyway, so wherever they choose to have it, we can just adjust everything accordingly. There’s nothing I need to do to prepare for this at all, and the kids are loving it!

I almost feel like I’m tricking them when they share my excitement for small things like this, but then I remember that I’m really helping them have a happier future by learning to enjoy the little things. 🙂

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Food, From my drafts...

Draft from 3 years ago: Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge: Review of Week 1

I’ve decided to clean out  my Drafts folder and post them here! Here’s the first one – a Buzzfeed Eating Challenge..from 3 years ago! Haha!

 

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After stumbling upon the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge online two weeks ago, I decided to give it a try last week. Before doing so, I read a few things online about it and found some mixed reviews. Some people were saying that the small calorie counts each day (ranging from 1,300-1,600 calories) were way too low, others were saying they were annoyed with the buzzwords “clean eating” and didn’t think it was fair for this to be called a clean eating challenge (more thoughts about that specific topic here), while still others were saying it was a good way to try new recipes and think about what you are eating. I’m fully in this last category – I was before I started and that’s where I still stand. However, I think the fact that I’m not the kind of person to just blindly follow something without using my own judgement helps here. I used the challenge meals more as a guideline than a strict rulebook. This may have something to do with the fact that I also started Insanity that same week, but either way, I decided to follow the meal plan while supplementing it with a protein bar or a handful of blueberries here or there if I felt hungry.

The biggest thing I’ve loved about this challenge has been eating 5 meals a day and sticking to that (99% of the time). As I’ve listened to my body this week, I’ve come to see that this is a really natural and intuitive way to eat. Before this, I would have 3 meals a day with lots of snacking in between. Without putting a name or real importance on the ‘snacking,’ it was free to become much more than it should. I had even gotten into a terrible habit of eating my dinner and then going to the pantry…to look for my second dinner? I don’t know why, but I had taught myself that I needed more snacks right after dinner, and this was certainly not the case.

A few takeaways from my first week:

-I was so surprised that I didn’t have real cravings or feelings of hunger very often (again, the only time I added something was after doing Insanity – and I only added something if I wasn’t already eating a snack or meal soon after)

-It was so much fun to try new recipes. This week, I learned that I LOVE roasted cauliflower and that I DO NOT LIKE fennel (raw or roasted haha, I really did give it a chance all days it called for it) or lentils. I also don’t love overnight oats, but I’m still willing to experiment with some different recipes.

-I thought I would most miss my ‘dessert’ after dinner (I had been having a blended banana with chocolate chips, or yogurt with chocolate chips every night before bed for a while), and while this plan does give you a night snack after dinner, it isn’t always my idea of a dessert. One night it was 2 pitted dates stuffed with an almond each…and while I can’t say that this was my favorite meal from the plan, I never ate anything additionally at night, which I thought would be my hardest time sticking to the plan. After dinner, I was always able to feel satisfied and know that in a few hours, I would eat a small snack and then be done for the night. This is probably my favorite thing I’ve taken away from this challenge so far!

-Meal prepping is fun! I really like having my meals planned out for the week! Even sometimes when I’m not in the mood for a certain thing, I still eat it and I find myself satisfied. It’s pretty fun to be excited for my “cheat meal” in two weeks as well (I’m thinking a cheeseburger and fries from this delicious restaurant downtown). A side note about cheat meals – I think this might work for me, eating well all week and saving my cravings for Saturday night. While I also like the idea of having a little bit of real dessert each day, I don’t always have the best self-control to keep it at that. With a seemingly more strict idea of having that one great cheat meal each week, I think I might get a better balance!

-All in all, I’ve loved the challenge so far and am looking forward to week 2. I’m also excited to take my favorite recipes and make my own 1-week clean eating plan when this is done for the following week!