My Favorite Websites For The Classroom

My fellow teacher friends out there, I know you will agree with me when I say that we are always looking for good (and often free) resources to use in the classroom. I know I am! Right now since I teach technology to grades preK-8 I find myself doing this even more. I will say I have found some that I like better than others and the main one that I am using now I do have some pro’s and con’s, BUT I do have a small list for you!

 

1. Google Classroom

Now I will say that this is probably my number one favorite tool for the classroom, especially if you’re a middle school or high school teacher. This resource will be a game changer for you I swear. I will say that I’m not using it right now, but I do have it in the works and I’m hoping that my school will start to use it soon (my hope is next year!). But I was first introduced to this amazing tool when I was doing my student teaching. I was back in my old high school with one of my favorite teachers and a lot of things had changed. This was one of them. The school now had an iPad for every single student in the building and every teacher was being taught how to use Google Classroom. With this resource you’re able to post homework and the students can then put their answers straight onto the document from their iPad and submit it back to you. Umm hello who doesn’t love not having to run off 30+ copies of assignments?!? And no more taking home piles of papers to just not grade them! (Now you can just carry your iPad or laptop back and forth and still do the same thing…I kid….kind of!) Having this also meant that the students didn’t need 7 or 8 different notebooks for their classes. They could take their notes on their iPads and if you uploaded a PowerPoint presentation then it was right there for them and they could take their notes right on the slide.

I mean I could honestly talk forever about Google Classroom. It’s just an overall great resource for the classroom especially for older students. The only reason I have not set it up myself is that an administrator needs to initially set up an account for your school. But like I said it’s in the works! Now I know if you’re like me you might be worried that your kiddos might not stay on what they are supposed to be working on. But you my friend are in luck! Thanks to @mrswelchknows (on Instagram) I found out that Apple has created a free app to monitor student use! It allows you to “force up apps, lock the screen, see exactly what the students are doing and so much more” (her words! please go give her a follow on IG!!).

 

2. Kiddom.co

Now I wouldn’t say that this is my second favorite resource by any means, however I would say that if you can’t get access to Google Classroom right now, this is your second best option. (At least that I have found!) A teacher that I work with actually introduced this resource to me, he is currently using it with his 5th grade class and when I looked at it, it basically reminded me of Google Classroom except you don’t need an administrator to get it set up. Kiddom has the same basic setup as Google Classroom. You have different classes that you set up and name and add your students to (using a class code).

Kiddom does have a few different options than I remember Google Classroom having. When you post an assignment you can set a due date and if a student doesn’t post it by the time the assignment is closed then it’s late (obviously) but then there’s no questioning that you lost the work that the student “turned in” when in reality they didn’t do it. You can attach a point value directly to the assignment and you can also attach rubrics and standards to them as well.

In all honesty Kiddom is a great resource, but there is just one issue that I have with it. If you upload a document and when the student goes to download is, if they accidentally hit “submit” without realizing it then you can’t undo that action. You have to completely delete the assignment and start from scratch. Which I know is a first world problem but when you have this happen multiple times it gets frustrating (been there done that!).

Now I am of course still playing with this resource and I do not know everything about it. But what I do know, I like. I’m sure that there are tips and tricks that I haven’t come across yet. If I do I will be sure to do an update!

3. Starfall (free or paid)

If you have little ones this is great! Now I will say that last year we only had the free version and although the free version is great now that we have the paid version (we bought a subscription for our school) I would never go back.

Like I said earlier I teach technology to preschool – 8th grade and when I have my K,1 and 2 kiddos in there more often than not I already have Starfall up and running with headphones plugged in and all they have to do is sit down and play. Let me tell you I have never had them that quiet. It’s amazing. There are so many different things that they can do on there and it’s all educational and they love it. It makes their time in the computer lab go by so quickly they get upset when I tell them it’s time for them to go!

We even use it in the classrooms. I help out in the first grade room a lot and the other day we had the tablets out with our kiddos and we had them logged into Starfall and they were silent for a good 45 minutes, maybe longer. It amazes me every single time we do it how focused and quiet they can be on this site!

4. ABCya

Now I know a lot of my teacher friends probably know all about this one so I won’t stay here too long! This site is amazing for students all the way up to grade 5 and the games are awesome too! My kiddos love this one too! They have math games, word games and themed games. Personally I love using this website around a holiday because they have several themed games for that specific holiday that the kiddos can choose from and they are of course distracted for the full 30 minutes they’re with me. They love it, I love it and everyone is happy!

 

Now I know that there are a lot more websites and resources out there but like I said these are my favorites and my go-to ones.

Do you have a favorite website, app or other resource that I didn’t mention?? Leave it in the comments below! I would love to check it out!

XoXo Shelby

Advertisements

5 Reasons Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day!

I can remember growing up and not wanting to eat breakfast. In fact the only way that my mom could get me to even eat something for breakfast (before school) was if she fixed me a bowl of Mac and Cheese. Yes I said it, mac and cheese. I remember asking my mom not too long ago why she let me eat mac and cheese for breakfast and I remember her saying “well if it was what you would eat then I let you eat it because that was better than sending you to school with an empty stomach”. I totally get it. When I was in high school of course things were a little different, she couldn’t force me to eat anything (even mac and cheese) so there were days I would go to school with no breakfast. I remember feeling groggy and grumpy those days. Hmm I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that I was hungry?!?

Breakfast really is a must for everyone. It is the most important meal of the day. Ensuring that you have a healthy breakfast is important to ensure health and weight management, but if you can’t manage to get in a healthy breakfast at least make sure you eat something! Not eating is probably the worst option for you and your body. For me I know I have had to make it a habit to make time in my morning routine to eat breakfast. Now I won’t lie to you Monday – Friday I eat the same thing every morning. On the Sunday, it varies a little more but I still eat something. Saturdays I usually don’t eat right when I wake up because I prefer to do a fasted cardio session at the gym and I go to the gym quite early on Saturdays (between 8 and 9 am).

Okay, okay I’m done rambling now I promise!! Keep reading to find out why breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Continue reading “5 Reasons Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day!”

8 Reasons Why Books Are Better Than Movie Adaptations

Book Vs Movie

What is your opinion? Which one is better? Some people would say that the movie is better than the book. Personally I would look at that person and say I don’t believe that you actually read the book. As an avid reader and lover of books I will always 100% say that the book was better than the movie. I honestly can’t think of one instance where I enjoyed the movie more than I enjoyed the book. Were there movies that I thought lived up to my expectations? Sure. But they have never done a movie so well that I thought it was better than the book. I will say that I am also one of those people that will not see a movie until I have read the book. For example, I have yet to read Wonder, yes it’s out in theaters and I want to see the movie so very badly….but I will not see it until I’ve read the book. I also will not put down the book I am currently reading to start reading it. I just can’t do it.

Okay enough rambling…here are my 8 reasons why the book is always better than the movie.

 

1. Books are portable and timeless.

Now you’re probably thinking well duh. But I’m one of those people that always has a book on them, like there’s a book in my purse right now. Do I always have time to read it? Nope. Actually I usually don’t have time to read it. But that’s okay. Think about it when you own a movie how many times do you watch it? Once or twice a year depending on what the movie is. It only takes you a few hours to actually watch the movie and then its done and over with. Eventually it could even become broken, scratched or just be outdated. With a book it can sit on your shelf and collect dust for years but it will never be broken. It will always be there. Personally I feel like I have more of an emotional connection to my books. I’m not the type of person that can throw away a book.

2. Movies Have Time Limits…Books Don’t Have Page Limits

Could you imagine if an author was told that they could only write a book if it was under 200 pages?? Imagine all of the amazing details that would be left out! When you hold a book in your hands your lucky enough to have the whole story in hundreds, sometimes even thousands of pages. That to me is amazing! Movies however have a limited time frame, usually about two hours (or just over that). With a two hour time limit there is absolutely no way to get every little tiny detail into it (unless they decide to make it a two part movie…but you can’t do that for every book to movie adaptation). Because of this, you are often left with important events or details of the book being left out in the movie in order to fit that time limit. In my opinion, if you just watch the movie you’re doing yourself a disservice because you’re not getting the full story….just the condensed version.

3. You Can Experience a Book at Your Own Pace

Have you ever been watching a movie and thought that it was too much to handle all at once? Too many emotions being thrown at you? Maybe you need some time to contemplate what’s happening, some time to process it. Well with a movie sure you could pause it (if you’re at home) and come back to it at a later time, but what’s the point in that? Now think about all of the times you’ve been reading a book and you’ve thought to yourself “I need a minute to process this”. I know personally I’ve done that several times, I can think of probably a dozen books that I’ve been reading and I needed to put it down. Sometimes I need to put it down for a day, sometimes I need to put it down for a week, it just depends on what is happening. With a movie you can’t do that, if you did, it just wouldn’t make sense. With a book it’s a lot easier to put it down and pick it back up and still have a sense of what’s going on in the story once you do.

4. You Get to Experience it as the Author Originally Intended

Now sure when you’re reading a book you can obviously have a different take on certain messages than the author might have intended, but for the most part when you’re reading a book you experience everything just as they would have wanted you to. There are no Hollywood agendas, no screenwriter changes being made. Sure maybe the publishing companies made a few changes here and there, but it’s still the majority of the authors work. Have you ever read a book and then heard it’s being turned into a movie and been so excited to see it for it only to be completely butchered and destroyed by Hollywood? Yeah…me too and that is one of the most disappointing feelings in the world. I’ve learned my lesson several times so honestly I try not to get my hopes up when it comes to movie adaptations.

5. You Get A One Way Ticket into the Characters Thoughts

When you’re reading a book you tend to get more character development and you often get to experience what the characters are actually thinking and feeling. When it comes to the movie there are certain things you have to rely on in order to experience this. The characters must actually tell you what they are thinking or feeling and you have to be able to pick up on the subtext from the performance of the actor or actress. If the actor or actress is actually decent in character then you can easily pick up on those hints but there have been plenty of times where I’ve seen actors or actresses that were not fit for a character and it’s disappointing when you know what you should be seeing or what kind of vibe you should be getting from these characters and you’re missing it because the acting isn’t all that great. You also have to remember that there are certain emotions that can’t be seen just by looking at someone and if the movie doesn’t have a narrator explaining every tiny little detail (personally that would annoy me) then you’re going to miss certain things.

Which leads me to my next point…really I could’ve connected the two but I liked having 8 reasons instead of 7 and I couldn’t think of another reason to replace it with so there ya go!

6. You Get to Know the Character Better

Just like I mentioned above, a book allows you to experience so much more with each character. The character development and background story in a book vs. a movie is much more detailed. You’re spending so much more time with them in the book than you are in the movie. There have been times I’ve read a book and there have been several chapters dedicated to one particular character. Could you imagine if they added that kind of detail into a movie? Depending on the details and the length of the chapters that could easily become half of the movie. One of my favorite part of reading a book is learning the backstory of a character and experiencing every little detail of their development.

7. You Get to Imagine the Characters for Yourself

I love picturing what a character would look like in real life. Of course when you’re done reading the book and you see the final casting list you can often times be disappointed (when they casted Kristen Stewart as Bella in Twilight I was heart broken) but on occasion they get it right and I am over the moon (when they casted Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in Hunger Games)! Now don’t get me wrong I think Kristen Stewart looked the part….but her acting skills in the first movie just drove me nuts, but that’s beside the point! As you read, you keep your imagination fresh and alive. I love when I can sit with a book in my lap and just get lost in the story, it’s like I’ve been transported from my room into this new world. It’s the most magical thing ever to be able to imagine the story and watch it unfold inside your head. This is why I love reading so much.

8. A Book Stays With You Forever

I’m sure if you’re an avid reader like I am then you can probably remember the book that made you fall in love with reading right? I know I can. To Kill A Mockingbird. I read it in 7th grade with my language arts teacher and it was immediately my favorite book. I’ve loved it ever since and it will forever be my favorite classic. I honestly believe that it is a book that will never get old. I’m 25 years old now and I still love that book just as much if not more than I did the first time I read it. I also believe that everyone should read it at least once. It’s just that good of a book. If that doesn’t sum up what I mean about “a book stays with you forever” then I don’t know what will. I mean to be completely honest if you ask me about any of the 80+ books I’ve read in my lifetime then I could probably give you a pretty good summary of it and tell you what I liked or maybe didn’t like about it. Let me tell you, 80 books is a lot of books. But when you read something it sticks with you longer.

Okay so I may or may not have a bonus reason for you! The only reason I even thought of it is because I happened to be talking to a colleague about the show Gilmore Girls and if you’ve ever seen that show then you know that Rory Gilmore loves her books. There’s one episode in particular where Rory is showing someone around her college and she takes her into the library and tells her to “smell the books”. I honestly never would’ve thought about it until I heard her say it but books have a very distinct smell and let me tell you it’s a glorious one. If you live in Columbus Ohio and you’ve ever visited The Book Loft in German Village then you know what I’m talking about…or maybe you don’t and I think I’m nuts! But I feel like The Book Loft has that amazing “book” smell and I love it. There’s a comforting feeling when it comes to the smell of a book and if you add a cup of coffee or hot tea to go along with it, I’m in heaven.

 

Are you a book or a movie person?? Do you love the smell of books as much as I do or do you think I’m insane?!? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Bullying & Cyberbullying: Things We Can Do To Stop It.

The first federal uniform definition of bullying wasn’t released until 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Education. The first definition included some very important key points that are still included in the current definition today.

Bullying. Unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power of imbalance. Behavior is often repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Those who are bullied and who bully others may often times have serious, lasting problems.

Now, you will notice that in the definition that I wrote above I left out some key words. I left out the word “kids” and “children”. Though I know that bullying and cyberbullying are most common among school aged children, I am also aware that bullying doesn’t just stop once you finish school. Therefore I believe that the definition shouldn’t just be geared toward children. For the purpose of this blog post I will however be focusing on bullying and cyberbully in schools.

blow out candle

 

In order to define behavior as “bullying”, it must be aggressive and include the following:

  • An imbalance of power: the kids who are doing the bullying will often use their ‘power’ (this can be physical strength, information about a person that could potentially embarrass them, or even their sense popularity) to control or even harm others.
  • Repetition: bullying behaviors will more than likely happen more than once and if they haven’t they will have the potential to happen more than once. This repetition is often what makes the situations more difficult for the person(s) being bullied to deal with the issue. Knowing that it is going to continue or could potentially continue is very difficult to deal with.

 

Bullying actions can include but are not limited to:

  • threats
  • spreading rumors
  • attacking someone (physically or verbally)
  • excluding someone from a group on purpose
  • name calling
  • inappropriate comments
  • taunting
  • excluding someone from a group
  • hitting/kicking/punching
  • spitting
  • Tripping/pushing
  • taking, breaking or messing up someone else’s property
  • making mean or rude hand gestures or comments

 

Most of the time people assume that bulling only occurs at school. While it is often most common for bullying to occur during school hours it can also occur after school or even at home. With the heavy presence of the internet in the lives of our children today it is a lot more common for kids to be bullied at home and often times they might not even know who is really doing the bullying.

Statistics

 

Whenever I look at the stats for bullying or cyberbullying I am always shocked. I know that kids are bullied. I know that kids can be just down right mean. But when you see it in numbers….it brings a new perspective to it. I mean just look at the difference between the LBGT students and the non-LBGT students. We went from 20% and 9% to 55% that’s a huge jump!

I feel for the kids that have to deal with this day in and day out. I really do. I hope that this article if nothing else educated those that read it enough to be able to help at least one child that is being bullied. I hope that one day we can stop bullying all together. Now I know that’s a long shot. There are always going to be kids that are going to pick on another kid for one reason or another. But one can hope right?

Keep reading for a few ways that we can help to prevent or maybe even stop bullying.

(All of the above mentioned information and facts were found at http://www.stopbullying.gov if you would like more information about bullying please check out that website)

Continue reading “Bullying & Cyberbullying: Things We Can Do To Stop It.”

Stuck in a “Fitness Rut”? Here are some tips to fix it!

First of all let me just start off by saying that I know it is very difficult to get a good routine down when it comes to exercise. If you already have that then you’re one step ahead of the rest! We all have busy schedules with work and our personal lives it can be challenging to squeeze in time for the gym. So make sure that you’re at least trying to make it a priority!

Now I’m not saying that all of these are signs that you’re in a rut. So if you are reading through this and suddenly start to think “oh gosh I’m in a rut and I didn’t even know it!” pleases don’t think that!! Some of these things work for some people and you have to remember that all of our bodies are different. What works for one person might not necessarily work for the next. So keep that in mind. But after doing a little research these are some of the things that I found when it came to “fitness ruts” and how to fix them!

1. No Balance Between Cardio and Strength Training

Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with having a strictly cardio day at the gym. There are some days that I walk into the gym and just don’t feel like lifting, and that’s okay! Hoping on the treadmill or the elliptical will help you to get your heart rate up, burn calories and get those endorphins pumping through your system and that’s a great thing! But if you find yourself just naturally gravitating toward those machines constantly you’re not doing your body any justice. The key here is balance between the two. A well rounded program is key to maximizing your results from your workout. How do you fix it?? Incorporate a circuit into your routine, especially if your goal is to lose weight. By adding in resistance training to your workout routine you will benefit greatly, the more lean tissue you have in your body the more fat your body will burn throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy either. It can be as simple as breaking up your treadmill or elliptical routine into different time increments and in between those increments doing a set of different strength training exercises. Give it a try!

2.  You Find an Excuse to leave early…or not go at all…

I understand that there are going to be days where you can only afford a quick workout. Being an educator I get it, work and family obligations don’t always allow for the full workout that I would like to get, sometimes I don’t get to fit one in at all. Now that’s fine on occasion, but if you find yourself constantly cutting your workouts short or finding a reason not to go, something is definitely not right. How do you fix this one?? Start by taking a look at your eating (most articles I read while researching used the word diet but we all know how I feel about that word….or have I not discussed that yet??? Hmm…if not that will be in a later blog!). Your body requires the right fuel to run its best…it’s kind of like a car. If you own a diesel truck and you accidentally put in the medium grade gas….your truck isn’t going to run at its best. In order for your body to run its best you need the right combination of proteins, carbs, healthy fats, fruits and veggies otherwise your body is just going to feel exhausted. Also take a look at your sleeping patterns. If your body isn’t getting enough rest, its not going to operate at its best either.

3. You Find Yourself Constantly Watching The Clock

Are you constantly checking your watch or the clock during your workout? If so then your not allowing yourself to get into the flow of your workouts. When you’re in the flow of your workout, your in the zone and outside distractions no longer interfere with your goals. If you’re not able to find that state of concentration it’s possible that you could be bored with your routine and it’s time to shake things up a bit and try something new! How can you fix it?? Start by completely changing your routine! Use what you have been doing and the exercises that you know and love as a guide to make yourself a new routine. Maybe you’re used to a strict lifting routine mix it up a bit by trying a HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine instead. Use your same weight training moves, mix in some cardio moves and you have yourself a HIIT routine. Are you more into fitness classes? Try a new class! You never know you might just find something you love!

4. You’ve Hit a “Plateau”

I use the word “plateau” very loosely because here I’m not just talking about weight loss. For example if you’re a runner and your goal is to run a 10-minute mile instead of your usual pace and you can’t seem to break that 10:30 mark you might be in a rut. Something is holding you back from seeing the results that you so desperately want. In order to get past this start by making sure your goals are achievable and realistic. It’s great to have big goals and to reach for the stars, but sometimes we need to re-evaluate our situation and our goals. For example if you have a goal to lose 30 lbs in two weeks, I’m going to tell you to look at that goal again. Not only is that not safe but it’s just not realistic. Maybe try for 1b a week instead, that way you’re less likely to stress about it and you’re more likely to achieve your goal.

5. Your Body is Constantly Sore

No pain no gain right?? Well…yes and no. If that’s how you tackle your workouts and you find yourself tired, having trouble sleeping or getting sick then there is a possibility that you’re over training. The most important thing to remember when it comes to training is that fitness is a journey not a destination. The harder you push and the more you push the more your body will continue to break down and you could eventually injure yourself, meaning you could have to stop all together. In order to prevent that, make sure that you’re scheduling a rest day every once in a while. The basic rule of thumb is every 3 to 5 days. Now like I said earlier…not everyone operates the same as the next person. Fitness isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of a thing so make sure that you’re listening to your body and if you feel like it’s telling you to take a rest then do it.

 

Have you ever been in a fitness rut?!? What did you do to get out of it? If there’s something that you did that I didn’t mention please feel free to leave it in the comments below! I would love to hear what you did that worked for you! I hope that if you are in a fitness rut that one of these tips will help you! I know I’ve been there and the tip that worked best for me was to change up my routine. You’ll be surprised what something as simple as that can do for you!

XoXo Shelby

 

My thoughts on The Glass Castle…

The Glass Castle

Well, to start off I would like to say that this book took me longer to read than I would’ve liked it to. It’s not a very long book so normally I would’ve had it done in a day or two…maybe a week tops if I had a busy week. But it took me months to get through this book. No that’s not me saying that I didn’t like the book, to be honest I loved it! But there were parts that would just….anger me and I would have to put it down and walk away from it for a while.

 

The Glass Castle is a memoir written by Jeanette Walls, which details her unconventional childhood. She grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill. Walls began her memoir by why she felt the need to write about her family. She has finally “made it”, a successful writer in New York City. One day as she’s strolling down the street she comes across her mother…picking out of the dumpster, and out of shame, she sinks down into the seat of her taxi and pretends that she didn’t notice her. Later she will confront her mother, asking her what she is supposed to tell people about her parents. Her mother replies by telling her to tell the truth….simple as that. If you think about it, it’s really not that simple.

As Walls tries to come to terms with her upbringing throughout this memoir you begin to realize that The Glass Castle is anything but simple. We begin by learning of her young childhood on the west coast, her parents living as nomads. They moved so often between desert towns, always looking for the next big “adventure”. This chapter of Walls’ life we mainly get a look at her mother. She’s an artist and a writer, living in her own world. She doesn’t particularly show any concern in raising her children. She’s always looking for the next adventure…the next struggle. The family soon gives up their residence in Phoenix that her mother had inherited to move to her father’s home town of West Virginia…a small depressed coal town.

Once in West Virginia, the story begins to take a turn down a dark road. In this small town of West Virginia, the family begins to drift apart. Their father has taken a very dark turn, and up until this point he has always been the light of his daughters eye…..not so much anymore. Like their mother, their father has a big imagination. He takes small odd jobs that never seem to last long, and he is always chasing after this long lost dream to strike it rich with one of his crazy inventions. He continues to promise over and over again that once he strikes it rich he will build his family a “glass castle” – the most special project….a great big house for his family to settle down in. As their time in West Virginia goes on, things continue to get worse. However, Walls and her brother do their best to make the most of it. Feeding off of their father’s promise of the glass castle, they thought they would help him out by starting a hole in the backyard for the foundation of the new house. After it had been finished for a while, the family began to realize that there were certain things that they just couldn’t afford. One of them being trash pickup…which meant that the hole in the yard that was supposed to be used for the new house…would now be used for trash.

This is one of the situations that really angered me. These parents are just deliberately not taking care of their children. Making them empty promises and not caring how it could effect them later on in life. It really frustrated me that these parents…grown adults, could let their children go hungry, cold and without proper clothes or showers. These were the points where I had to put the book down for a while and breathe. The fact that I know there are still kids out there today that go through situations just like this one…makes me so angry. I feel for these children, I feel for the author, knowing that she lived this life.

Anyways…rant over. Determined not to end up like her parents, Walls moved herself to New York. She will go to college, graduate, gain employment as a writer, marry a rich husband, and settle down in her Park Avenue apartment. Walls tries to get her parents to visit her new apartment, to get a sneak peek into her new lifestyle. Her father of course refuses, her mother visits, but questions her values. Tells her that she raised her differently and that she shouldn’t be living the way that she is.

Umm values?? No offense but I didn’t realize that not feeding your children and basically living on the street were values that you wanted your children to pick up. I thought that parents were always supposed to want more for their kids. That they were supposed to want their kids to have more than they did, have better jobs, go to better schools. Just an overall better life. Instead, Walls has done just that and she is getting criticized for it….so unfair.

Now, I understand that there is probably more to this than meets the eye. Sure her parents were a drunk father and a somewhat lazy mother, but after reading and really reflecting on this memoir I feel like there are other lessons to be learned here. It reminds me of the quote….

money cant buy happiness

I mean if you think about it, as Walls grew up she never really seemed unhappy until she was really old enough to understand what was going on. Each time they moved she really did see it as an adventure. Did her parents always provide her and her siblings with the food, clothes and other things that they needed? No. But what they did provide them with was love and happiness. All of their kids grew up believing in themselves, with an appreciation for the things that most of us take for granted today but most importantly they were loved, unconditionally.

Though they struggled to get through this crazy thing called life, they did it. They all made it. Did they all make it big? No they didn’t but they made it. We all grow up with struggles, they’re all different. But our struggles are what make us beautiful.

 

Have you read The Glass Castle or maybe seen the movie?? If you have please let me know what you thought in the comments below! I would love to hear from you!!

XoXo Shelby

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/19195791/?claim=fymn2pphuc7″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

 

5 Reasons I love Science

I know science is one of those “love it or hate it” subjects. There’s really no in between and to be honest most people probably hate (or dislike) science more than they actually enjoy it. Most of the time it tends to be girls who stray away from things involving science (and math) because a lot of times they think that they’re not going to be any good at it. For years it has been planted into young girls brains that it’s “okay” to be “bad” at science and math because they’re “not geared towards girls”. As a teacher that breaks my heart. Was I the best at math? No! I can even admit that I struggled a little bit with a few topics in the science field. But did that stop me from learning the material and doing my best? No. BUT that is honestly could be a completely different blog post (and I might just do that!). Now back to what this post is actually about….now I know for a fact that I could come up with more than 5 reasons that I love science. I mean I didn’t major in it for nothing. I obviously love the subject a lot. But I wouldn’t want to bore you with a long list of reasons as to why I love science. So I have narrowed it down to my top 5 reasons why I love science!

1. Bill Nye The Science Guy – I mean who didn’t see that coming?!? I know for a fact that even if you don’t like science you know who Bill Nye is. He had (and has considering he came out with a new series on Netflix) the best educational show out there! When his new show came out on Netflix I literally geeked out and spent a whole day binge watching it. Yes I said I binged it. Call me a nerd that’s fine by me! When we were young he made science fun! But he’s also not afraid to be serious. He just has a way about him that draws you in and engages you in whatever he’s speaking about. He is just amazing!

2. Experiments! – I mean who doesn’t love to blow stuff up occasionally?? I’m kidding….kind of! I love science experiments because I love the hands on learning experience that they give. I’m more of a visual learner than anything else so if I can do an experiment or something like that to help me understand a concept them I’m better off. Do we occasionally get to blow things up or do other cool things like that? In chemistry yes, in college we did a few fun experiments that involved blowing things up outside and I loved it! But those experiments are few and far between. But there are other fun and exciting experiments that can be performed! One of my favorites from high school was the flame test. You were given different elements and you tested a small amount of them over a Bunsen burner and the different elements would burn off a different color. For example Potassium would burn off a lilac pink color. It was super fun!!

3. We get to study the things around us – I mean how awesome is it that we can look out our window and there is science?!? Science is literally everywhere! Once you learn to ask questions, observe, construct possible answers to your questions, develop and conduct experiments and think independently, you can begin to find life more challenging and worthwhile. Even the smallest thing in our every day life can reveal volumes about the world around us.

4. I love a Challenge and Science Challenges Us! – Studying science brings such a challenge into a persons life. You can explore and study so many different things in the world! But I also love the challenge of keeping students engaged in science. Science is one of those subjects that students tend to shy away from or tend to zone out during because they find it “boring”. But there are ways to make it not so boring. I mean just ask Bill Nye, he made science awesome!

5. So Many Awesome Career Paths – Science can open the door to so many amazing career paths for those who chose to purse them. You can be an astronaut, a doctor, a nurse, an engineer, a lab technician…the possibilities are really endless. I know I could list so many more things that you can do with a science background.

 

Like I said I could list so many more reasons that I love science, but I don’t want to bore you with a long list!

What is/was your favorite subject in school?? I also really loved English, I bet you can’t guess why! (I hope you can sense the sarcasm there!)

XoXo Shelby

The Hunger Games Trilogy

 

To say that I loved these books would be an understatement. I read these three books in 3 days, that’s one book a day. I stayed up way too late reading some of these books and loved them so much that I had a few dreams that I was in the Hunger Games! Kind of crazy if you think about it! But that’s really how much I enjoyed these books! Before I go into my review on these let me give you a brief description of these books!

(Summaries are from Goodreads)

The Hunger Games (#1)

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s younger sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Catching Fire (#2)

Against aall odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s curel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

Mockingjay (#3)

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – except Katniss

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. TO do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the personal cost.

Okay, so now that we have the background of all three books let’s talk about them and what I loved about each book.

Continue reading “The Hunger Games Trilogy”

The #1 Movie Every (Catholic/Christian) Teacher Should Watch

First of all if you haven’t seen God’s Not Dead…what are you doing?!? You need to check it out! It’s a great movie and it will forever be one of my favorites.

The name of Jesus is becoming less and less welcomed in the world (especially in schools) with each passing day. If we as Christians don’t take a stand now, who knows what will happen.

God’s Not Dead 2 welcomes us back to Hope Springs where a beloved teacher Grace Wesley (played by Melissa Joan Hart) helps her students to understand and enjoy history. Her love of her profession, her love for her students and her love of life in general all stem from the same place…her love of Christ and her love for her faith.

Now this is where it becomes tricky, Grace doesn’t work in a private Christian school, she teaches in a public school where bringing up the name of Jesus or God is tricky and can get you into a lot of trouble. By sending your children to public school it allows a separation of church and state, by discussing religion in the public classroom it violates that separation which can anger some parents. Non-believers can often view someone discussing their religion as them trying to push their religion on a person who might not believe exactly what they do. Though that is often not the case, it is often how it is perceived.

During the movie, Brooke, a student grieving the loss of her brother, reaches out to Grace at a local coffee shop. During their conversation Brooke asks Grace (Mrs. Wesley) how she deals with certain things in her life, naturally it brought Grace to sharing how she finds hope and comfort in Christ.

Now you’re probably sitting there thinking, how is that so wrong? They were outside of school and all she did was be honest with her. Brooke asked her a question and she gave her an honest answer. There should be nothing wrong with that…but it will later be used against her.

A little later into the movie Mrs. Wesley is giving a history lesson about Gandhi and his teachings Brooke raises her hand and asks a question…bringing up Jesus.  Thinking very carefully, Mrs. Wesley contemplated how she was going to answer this question, or if she was even going to answer it. But she did. Though her answer was very reasonable, it will later land her in big trouble. Her principal and superintendent join forces with a zealous civil liberties group and Mrs. Wesley faces an epic court case that could cost her the career that she loves so much.

Now I won’t spoil the movie for you and tell you how it ends. I mean I wouldn’t tell you about it if I didn’t want you to go watch it. But let’s think about it for a minute. Could you imagine being asked a question by one of your students and feeling like you can’t answer it because it could ultimately cost you your job? I couldn’t even imagine.

I loved this movie for so many reasons. It came into my life at the perfect time to be honest. I was going through a rough patch in my life. I had lost my grandma and several other people very close to me and I was having a hard time staying connected to God. I was angry and I was upset, I didn’t understand why God was taking all of these amazing people away from me, and all at once. It was heartbreaking and devastating and I wasn’t sure how to handle all of it. Instead of turning to prayer for answers, I let my anger and confusion consume me. I felt like God had abandoned me when I needed Him the most. I know that sounds crazy but I honestly believe that everyone goes through it at least once in their life.

I remember the first time I watched it and I felt this overwhelming feeling at one point (I would tell you what point but I feel like that might ruin the movie), and I remember just crying, sobbing really. I remember sitting there realizing that it was silly of me to think that God wasn’t there for me. I knew that God was there for me, He was always there for me and He always will be. I had just been so angry and confused and upset that I decided to block Him out. But watching this movie helped me wakeup and realize something that I should’ve known all along.

“Lord you said that once I decided to follow you,
we would walk side by side through life,
but when I needed you most, I saw only one
set of footprints in the sand.

The Lord replied, ‘I love you, and I would never
leave you. During your times of trial and suffering.
When you see only one set of footprints it was
then that I carried you’ “.

I have been a Catholic all my life, 25 years to be exact. Now I haven’t always known what it really meant to be a Catholic. As I grew up I began to understand and as Catholics we are taught that God will always be there for us. If you read the Bible it’s true, God is always there for us whether we realize it or not. Those times that we think that He is not there…I feel like it is really us blocking Him out. I know that’s exactly what I was doing. I was angry and instead of letting Him guide me through the pain and the troublesome times I blocked Him out. But the good thing about God is, that even if you do block Him out, when you’re ready to go back to Him, He is there waiting with open arms. I may have blocked God out from my mind during those difficult times in my life, but I know that He still carried me through them. How do I know that? Because I don’t believe that I would’ve made it through them if He hadn’t.

My point is, that if you’re a Catholic teacher and teaching in a Catholic school, realized that you are blessed because you get to share your faith daily with your students without fear of being punished or potentially losing your job. As for those teachers that aren’t that lucky, keep your faith strong and don’t be afraid to be who you are.

If you check out this movie, pleases let me know! If you have already watched it, let me know what you thought of it. I know this can be a controversial topic, so please no arguing in the comments. Let’s be respectful of each other’s opinions please.

XoXo Shelby

5 ways to make time to exercise!

The number one excuse for not working out is “I don’t have time” but I can promise you that is not the main reason that they are not working out. There is something more to is, maybe there’s a lack of motivation, lack of enjoyment, negative associations with working out or even low self-esteem.

Americans tend to live life as if it’s a race against time, we’re always worried about getting here or getting there on time and fitting everything we want to do into an already busy schedule. We can find time for television shows, social media and social networking and even household tasks but that is because there are not the same barriers associated with these activities.

If you want to exercise you will make the time. But the truth is that some of us are just in denial about our health. Before I started exercising on the regular and eating healthier I was in denial about my health and my body. I didn’t think that I was over weight, I didn’t think that I needed to exercise. I felt fine in my body and I felt like I was a healthy person. One day something in my mind changed, something clicked and I wanted to exercise, I wanted to lose weight and I wanted to eat better…so I made the time for it.

Do you want to make time to exercise but you’re not sure how? Let me share with you five ways that you can make time for your workouts!

 

1. Make a Plan: Fail to plan….plan to fail. The best way to ensure that you exercise is to have a plan written out, schedule your workouts like they are important meetings and do your best not to cancel them. Imagine that your boss scheduled an important meeting with you and you decided that you didn’t want to go so you just canceled….I don’t think your boss would be happy about that. Treat your workouts like a meeting with your boss…don’t cancel! In order to make a plan there are some things that you need to consider. What time of the day is best for you to make sure that you can fit your workout in on the days that you want to. Does the morning work best for you or the evening? Once you’ve decided on that put it in writing and then put it in your phone as a reminder on your calendar, this will help you know that you shouldn’t schedule something during that time.

2. Hit “Play” at home: There are so many at home workouts and exercise DVD’s on the market that are not only cost-effective but they allow you to be flexible in your workouts. When you workout at home you can workout at any time, if you belong to a gym there’s more of a chance that you have to work around the schedule that they are open. Working out at home also gives you that option of privacy, some people aren’t comfortable working out around other people and there’s nothing wrong with that. Working out at home also gives you the ability to multi-task…need to do a load of laundry? No problem! Start the washing machine, push play and exercise while it washes the clothes. Washers done and you’re not done working out? Again no problem, push pause, move the clothes into the dryer and start your workout again!

3. Rise and Shine….Greet the Morning!: I know that we all live busy lives, we all have jobs that demand our attention for most of our day. Some of us have a family and sometimes that’s another job in itself. No time in the evening? Well there are early morning hours that you can still exercise! I know, I know, the morning is not always a good option for everyone. Personally I can’t stand waking up before I actually have to, but I also have the luxury of getting off work at 3:30 every day (for the most part), which gives me more than plenty of time to exercise in the evening. Even if you’re not a morning person it is possible to wake up early and exercise. I’ve done it before. Lay your workout clothes out the night before, if you’re going to workout at home then have the DVD or program or whatever picked out all ready so you don’t waste any time. Set your alarm and you’re all set.

4. HIIT it Hard: See what I did there? HIIT (hit) it hard? No…okay I tried to be funny! Anyways! High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) if done right can be done in a short amount of time and can be highly beneficial. If you’re focused on what you’re doing and you have a set routine, there’s no reason that you can’t get results in less than 20 minutes a week. Need some inspiration? Check out Pinterest, there are plenty of HIIT workouts on there. The best part is that they will most likely combine cardio and strength training and they will get your heartrate up and take it back own in a way that will increase your calorie burn not only during the workout but or up to an hour afterwards! I promise that you will feel like you spent an hour or more exercising and you really didn’t.

5. Wear a fitness tracker: I know that for those of us that have a desk job it’s difficult to move throughout the day. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we’re doing that before we know it, it’s lunch time and we haven’t even moved from our desk once. According to the American Heart Association, it is recommended that Americans take at least 10,000 steps a day, but studies have shown that by the age of 60, most people are down to about 4,500 steps a day. I never realized how little I moved throughout the day (other than when I was exercising) until I owned a Fitbit. I immediately became more aware and started to make sure that I moved a little bit more. As Fitbits have changed over the years and the technologies have advanced, some of them will now give you a reminder when you haven’t moved in a while. I have mine set up so that my active hours are from 8am to 7pm (11 hours) and the goal for each hour is 250 steps. About 10 minutes before the hour is over if I haven’t reached my goal of 250 steps it will vibrate to give me a reminder to move. If that happens I get up and walk a little. If I have kiddos in my room, I’ll get up and circle the classroom, if my room is empty I’ll get up and walk to the bathroom or walk to the office or the water fountain. Something to get my body moving. You’ll be surprised how motivated you get when you know you have a goal to reach!

Now that I’ve given you some tips and tricks on how to make sure that you can make time to workout I don’t want to hear any more excuses! Now I will say this, please listen to your body! If you are sick or injured there is no reason to push yourself to workout, you are only going to make the problem worse.

What was your favorite tip? Let me know in the comments below!

XoXo Shelby