Friday, August 25, 2017

My Nerdy Goal for This School Year

Each year I try to bring a bit more of myself into my classroom. Since finally embracing what I had been pushing away for so much of my life, I want to use it to my advantage as a teacher. It enhances my enjoyment in life and allows me to connect with students.

This year I chose to focus on my reading units in my classroom. My decision was inspired by a change in the subjects that I teach. I am first and foremost a Literacy teacher. My position, though, only covers 4 hours and not the required 5 hours (a total of 7 with 1 prep hour and 1 "team time" hour). So I always end up teaching one additional subject. My very first year I taught Science, but that was a rough year. My second year I picked up a 7th grade Literacy along with my 6th grade Literacy. Then I taught Social Studies and, in my sixth year, I am back with Science. Luckily our district just picked up a new program, so I am fully immersing myself in learning it and understanding it. We have all the resources and went through training and I am feeling really psyched. The only drawback is that my room is primarily a Literacy room, but that's my own issue to work through.

And yet... maybe it wasn't going to be an issue. I've always been drawn to Science Fiction. It is something that I absolutely love to read. Now, don't get me wrong, I do enjoy Fantasy, but I have found I am way more enamored with Science Fiction. In previous years I have catered to young adult realistic fiction, but with the flooded market and the rehashing of the same old things with new skins, I have a tendency to draw away from the market. Sadly, I found it very difficult to find Science Fiction directed at young readers that didn't just use the skin of Science Fiction as a vehicle for a different genre.

That got me thinking. . . how do we really define Science Fiction. I was shocked with what I learned. . .
Oh my goodness... no... absolutely not! Talk about pigeonholing an incredibly powerful genre of writing! Which got me to thinking. . . what if I gathered together a variety of different Science Fiction novels. . . I mean. . . all sorts of different types and let the reading groups pick what they wanted, but THEN they'd have to define what Science Fiction is. As a class we would do our own investigation into what makes Science Fiction Science Fiction! Let's say, too, that I'm straying away from the Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Science Fiction, because the kids have either read it or they have lost interest (primarily due to the movies being out).

The other benefit of this is for the girls. STEM is really being pushed in schools right now, because that's where the jobs of the future are. I am a woman teaching Science in Middle School, which leaves me with the position of fostering a love of Science and inquiry in my students. This is especially important for the female students, because research has indicated a sharp decline in an interest in Science once girls are in middle school. Having a daughter of my own, I want to help her understand all areas of life that are open to her, including all the amazing opportunities the field of Science can offer her. I especially love that The Girl Scouts of America offer STEM badges to really encourage girls to at least expose themselves to the field. I really hope I can reach some of our future Scientists with this unit and with my Science class!


So great! I have my unit. I am ready to go... oh wait... I don't have any books! I have some books, but... not enough for a group or enough for two classes! Even if I have copies borrowed from other school libraries I cannot find enough for my classes! I am going to need to seek funding.


Let the tears flow like Niagra Falls. I made a campaign on GoFundMe, because I really need these books. I also wanted to raise the money so I could purchase the books myself. See... when you're given money for your classroom, it's more a donation to the school and not to you, the teacher. That means all my books are checked into the school system and belong to the school. So let's say I leave the school for another position or, for whatever reason, I am just no longer at that school... I lose all of the books I used to create this unit. The unit materials would not follow me and I'd have to find all new materials! It seems minor, but I hate the thought of losing an investment like this.

I'll level with you... I am a very broke teacher. My household lives paycheck to paycheck just above the poverty line. I sink hundreds of dollars into my classroom and my students every year. Pencils, post-its, glue sticks, extra paper, project supplies, books, etc. I also teach a Tabletop Game Unit as a culminating unit with costs me a great deal out of pocket, but the burden is worth it for the experience of the students.  


Now, I hate begging for money. I always feel there are people out there more in need than I am, but right now... well... I care a great deal and am trying my best. I even asked authors whose books I have on my list to help me get the word out. Donate or don't, but please at least help me spread the word! It is honestly a worthy cause! Many of the messages in Science Fiction actually focus on society! Think about how that could impact our world!


So here I am... a week and some change for the doors to my classroom open to all the beautiful young minds eager to learn and I have nothing... $25 from my mom... what a nerdy thing to admit, but there it is. 

As my heart breaks... I make a plea to help me... please help me... to make this happen... spread the world, offer a wee donation... offer up copies of the books... anything helps...


5 Fandom Friday: Comfort Foods That Always Make Me Feel Better


This week's 5 Fandom Friday is "Comfort Foods That Always Make Me Feel Better." I find this one funny, because my husband has us going Keto and while typically I don't miss food... there are some days I just crave something so badly that I'd give up the whole lifestyle to have it. These are those 5 things.

1. Toast with Melted Butter and Honey
I'm being totally honest... that is such a comfort food and so sweet! There is no replacement for this nostalgic taste.

2. Pizza
Enuf said!

3. Macaroni and Cheese
This was always my favorite little food. From scratch or a box, I had perfect making any kind of Mac n' Cheese, because it was my favorite. I miss you pasta...

4. Salvadorian Breakfast Cakes/Cupcakes
I learned to make these and I fell in love. A Parmesan sweet/savory and I made a Chocolate version. Oh my goodness... they are so delicious, but sugar is everywhere! Will always love it.

5. Pretzels (Soft or Hard)
Pretzel fiend over here. Pretzel nuggets at the movies, pretzels at the ballpark, pretzel sticks with cream cheese... Supposedly there are Keto-Friendly pretzels, but... I don't know if I want to be disappointed.

Man... that entry was hard... let's get on to some geekier entries. Ha!



Friday, August 18, 2017

5 Fandom Friday: Geeky Clothing Items I Need In My Closet Immediately



This week's 5 Fandom Friday deals with clothing. I struggle with clothing, because I essentially have t-shirts I want and, like many women, it comes down to not fitting in things I want. So I'm not saying I would look good in these, but I'd really want them.

1. Star Wars Finn Jacket
I have always wanted this Finn jacket. It is so out of my price range, but I LOVE it. I saw a Poe jacket somewhere, too, and loved that as well.

2. Star Wars Princess Leia Costume
Just because... well... someday I'd like to own it, wear it, and legit OWN it. I just don't have the body for it, even though a coworker of mine had one made for her and she kinda rocked the whole thing. Now I'm thinking....

3. Star Wars Rey Dress
I don't know why it's all Star Wars right now, but I just like some of the things they're making. Besides, I have most of the Marvel stuff I want already. I just wish so much geeky girl stuff that aren't t-shirts didn't feel so... "on display" for girls.

4. Rey Flyaway Cardigan
Now this is something I could actually have, like... now please! I just am too insecure to feel confident buying it. Love her confidence and determination.

5. T-Shirts!
There are too many geeky t-shirts to count or this entry would go on forever! Right now I'm surfing through TeePublic's Science themed shirts, because I need to add some Science to my wardrobe. I am going to be teaching Science this year, along with Literacy.




Monday, August 14, 2017

IGGPPCamp 2017! Finger-Weave Bracelets

Every year I participate in the IGGPPCamp through GeekGirlPenPals.com and this year I not only did the Jell-O Aquarium and led a My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away Twitter Watch-Along, but I tried to do my best making a finger-weaving friendship bracelet video.

Enjoy!


Friday, August 11, 2017

5 Fandom Friday: Gateway Fandoms That Made Me Who I Am Today



I haven't done these in a long time, but I know the ladies who were running them became a bit busy. Look and my blog and tell me I don't understand that.

Essentially 5 Fandom Friday was a day to celebrate 5 things about being a fan! This was originally done by The Nerdy Girl blog. Since it took me so long to get into them, I figured I'd start from the very beginning and try to keep up on Fridays.

So let's get things started!

Gateway Fandoms That Made Me Who I Am Today

1. The X-Files
I was that kid who snuck into their basement on Sunday night to watch The X-Files or hide in my room. I "wasn't supposed to" watch stuff like that. Finally my dad watched some with me and that was really cool, but I loved The X-Files. I even got to comics and I hid them in the draw next to my bed. It fed all my needs and love of Sci-Fi/Supernatural/Paranormal. You could even credit this for helping to formulate my love of ghosts and zombies and whatnot! Amazing! I want to believe.... and I do.

2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I read this as a Sophmore in High School and it blew my mind! I think it was, honestly, my first real exposure to Sci-Fi reading! I had already read Fantasy and Fantasy is cool, but there is just something about Sci-Fi that I love without question. So much so that I've created a Sci-Fi reading unit for my sixth graders. It makes me the happiest when I'm reading Sci-Fi. I even have "Ender" engraved on the inside of my class ring.


3. Settlers of Catan
Our friend Jim brought this game out one day and I was completely hooked. So much so that I think I bugged him and my husband with how much I wanted to play it. It was just the coolest thing ever! The new got into Pandemic and Hero Quest and now my husband and I are gamers and we own over 300 games. Thanks Settlers!

4. Star Wars
You know this is where it all started! One of the first geeky movies I remember watching as a kid and I was from the 80s! We had the toys and everything! Star Wars permeated my life and kept me open to that type of sci-fi/fantasy and really created my love of geekdom. Moving forward I was addicted to Labyrinth and Adventures in Babysitting and Indiana Jones and other Spielberg awesomeness. I had so much to geek for!I could probably even credit it with keeping me open to amazing things like Mystery Science Theater 3000 when I was a kid! I loved it and it still permeates my adulthood today! Shockingly, I'd say Star Trek, but I wasn't really allowed to watch Star Trek and/or I didn't understand what it was as a kid. I remember one of the times I sat down to watch it at my parent's friend's house, my parents made fun of it and said to turn it off. I dunno. But for some reason Star Wars as alright and I am thankful for that!

5. Super Mario Bros
My brother and I each got $50 for Christmas. We pooled our money to buy a Nintendo Game System. Now, my brother had a tendency to take it over more than I did, but I loved my time on it and I loved playing Super Mario Bros. I've played almost all the games, but not things like Mario Cart. SMB was honestly my gateway to gaming and now we've introduced it to my daughter, but she prefers the Lego games more than SMB. Sad, but true... but she's REALLY good at gaming. I'm working on all the convoluted new expectations of using a controller. Man oh man.







Thursday, August 10, 2017

IGGPPC Camp Activity: Jell-O Aquarium

Jell-O Aquariums are all the rage right now, especially since it's summer and something young and old alike can enjoy! I streamline the activity, because there are so many variables that can make it fail. Talk about trial and error on my end. I essentially had to get rid of the gravel at the bottom, because it always turned a horrible color. So let's get started with what I finally settled on.

Materials
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Measuring Cup
  • Something to Mix With
  • Water
  • Something to Boil Water with
  • Wide-Mouthed Jar (or clear plastic cup... smaller is better and you'll make more than one)
  • Blue Jell-O mix (can't find this? see below)
  • Gummy sea creatures (Swedish Fish, Gummy Octopuses, Sharks, or other aquatic animals)
  • Something to break the surface of the Jell-O/Gelatin
  • Whipped Cream (optional)
Not Using Jell-O?
  • Gelatin Packets
  • Raspberry Extract 
  • Blue Food Coloring
  • Stevia
  • Electric Whisk

Directions for Using Jell-O
1. Following the directions on the Jell-O box (you'll need the bowl, measuring cup, the Jell-O mix, something to boil water with and water).
2. Pour into your jar(s) or cup(s).
3. Chill until you are ready to serve (the color from the fish will bleed into your Jell-O if you do it too early).

If you have some like-colored or candy you're sure won't bleed, try it out!
4. Take a butterknife or knife or something else and gently break the surface of the Jell-O an slip in your gummy sea life! You can put them up along the side or in the middle. Depending on how deep your jar is, you could probably get some on the bottom.
5. Then decorate as you wish! Whipped cream for waves or fishing jumping out of the water, etc.


Note: The Jell-O is a bit darker than I'd like, but it tastes better and is easier to work with.


Directions for Using Gelatin
1. Follow the directions on the box for making Gelatin. Mine said boil 3 cups of water and keep one cold. Then pour your 4 packets of gelatin into the cold water for 1 minute to firm up.
2. Once the water is boiling, add it to the cold water gelatin. Then use an electric whisk for 5 minutes.
3. Once hat is done, at 2 drops of blue food coloring, 8 drops of Stevia, and a TBSP of Raspberry Extract.
4. Gently whisk together and then pour into the jar. 
5. Put the jar in the fridge and let it set until you are ready to serve.
6. Before you serve, use something to gently create a slit in the gelatin. Then take your favorite aquatic gummies and carefully push them down into the gelatin.
7. You can put whipped cream on top to create waves or add any of your favorite things to the jar. 

Note: The Gelatin doesn't taste as good, but the color is preferable so you can see everything easily. You have more freedom to play around and really make it your own, but I found it to be much more tedious. I also could not put candy in before it set like the Jell-O.


Don't forget to take pictures and hashtag them #IGGPPC and #IGGPPCAMP for Twitter and Instagram! Or @IGGPPCAMP on Twitter! 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Orlando or Bust: Day 1 & 2 - The Road and The Walking Dead

My mum is always wanting to go on family trips to Florida. In the previous years we've been to Sea World and Universal, but this year she was determined to finally take my daughter to Disney. Now, I'm being honest, my anxiety hits 11 at the thought of Disney World, especially in June, but I wanted my mom to have this YOLO moment with my daughter, who is 6yo.

Racing to leave right after school lets out is something I wish on no one. I had to have my classroom ready to close, all grades in, and check out in the office before I left. Then I had to get home and finish packing up the car. We left for Milwaukee at around 6PM.

Our first stop from Oshkosh to Orlando was Milwaukee. We stopped at my mum's house to pick up her bag (she was flying) and grab a few winks before we headed out for real. Then we were off through Illinois and down, down, down.

When we drive down to Florida, I usually make a point of doing some location spotting south of Atlanta. The other bonus is that a certain AMC show is occasionally shooting when we drive through. Now, I should probably point out that my husband doesn't get into this kind of thing. It's a meh activity and he gives in to my nerdy, fangirl whims. What shocked me was that on this trip he was excited to location sight-see for The Walking Dead.

Using this map (organized by season, too) over the course of 24 hours, here are the locations we visited. All of them were legal, except maybe one, but it's sketchy at best as to whether it was or not. I should note here that I had already visited The CDC (not CDC), Terminus, and Woodbury on a previous road trip, but I'll post them below, too.

Terminus Tracks

The hospital entrance where Beth is brought out by Daryl.

The daycare where Maggie and Daryl pick up supplies for Baby Judith.

The graveyard Daryl and Beth walk through after The Prison.

Title Credits!

Where Morgan was holed up.

Used for a few scenes.

Beyond is the factory where Andrea hides from The Governor.

The house where Daryl and Beth hide after The Prison.

The restaurant where Carl finds the pic of his mom and Michonne takes a cat.

Maggie left a message for Glenn along the tracks.

More Terminus tracks.

Hershel returns to drinking. Found by Rick and Glenn.

Hershel returns to drinking. Found by Rick and Glenn.

Where Maggie first propositions Glenn, while Glenn looks for a pregnancy test.

Burned down Moonshine house. Permission to look.

After the farms goes. Ricktatorship scene.

After the farms goes. Ricktatorship scene.

After the farms goes. Ricktatorship scene.

After the farms goes. Ricktatorship scene.

Merle's last stand!

Merle's last stand!

Meeting with the Governor (across from Merle's last stand).

18 miles out intersection.


Alexandria

Alexandria

Alexandria

Alexandria

Alexandria

Rick and Carl take shelter after The Prison.

Rick and Carl take shelter after The Prison.

Carl's pudding house!

Merle cranks up the radio and lures walkers.

The side road used for like EVERYTHING!

The studio lot.

Sorgum barn!

The barn with names and messages on it that the Governor passes.

Supposedly where Daryl is ambushed and Denise is shot.

The gas station where Daryl and Rick meet Jesus.
The CDC (not CDC) in Atlanta.

The site of Terminus.


Woodbury