Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Getting Ready for Students!

Tomorrow is the first day of school! 

I'm so excited to meet my students.

They are the most important part of our classroom. 

They'll make the biggest difference when it comes to our space but I still wanted to do a few things to get ready for them. I'm new to my position and I haven't taught in seven years so I was basically starting from scratch except for my classroom library (which I'll share in another post!).

My goal was to keep it simple (and not spend much money) but I did want to do some work to turn it into a more welcoming space. 

Here's what the room looked like at the beginning of the summer:

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

Here's what I did to make it more welcoming. 

1. At the beginning of the summer, my friend Carly posted on her Instagram that she was moving. She was selling some of her furniture and the two tall teal bookshelves came from her. My older son and I took the seats out of the van and drove down to Chicago one Saturday morning to carry them down from her 3rd floor apartment and get them home. These were free besides the gas we spent to get down there (and the breakfast I bought son for helping me!).

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***Since these were the first addition to my classroom, 
I chose my color scheme based off of these bookshelves.

2. My younger son helped me cut and staple up the special fade-less paper on the bulletin boards. One roll from Michael's $10 minus my 20% teacher discount and we had a little paper left over but not much. I liked how simple it looks and decided not to do any borders. 

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

3. I had been thinking about not having a teacher desk so I wanted to buy a cart for my supplies. As of right now, I still have my teacher desk but I also have my red cart which I bought for $40 with a 40% off coupon at Michael's. I really really really love my red cart.

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***Because of this red cart, I decided to use red as my accent color. 
My little helper put together for me and helped me carry it in!

4. I was thrilled to have bookshelves but they weren't in the best shape. I bought a can of paint for $30 and painted the three white and pink bookshelves. My aunt bought me a mini roller, a tray, and a paint brush and I had some sand paper in the garage that I used. It took me a few hours to sand and get a few coats of paint onto all three bookshelves but otherwise, I only spent money on the paint. 

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***With my teal bookshelves and my red cart, I knew I needed a fairly neutral color that would also be complimentary so that's how I ended up with navy blue for these bookshelves.

5. I'm not very good with plants but I love them and definitely want plants in my room. I have a gorgeous south-facing window with a ledge which is a perfect spot for plants. The cans were free and my aunt had paint for me to use. I started with a coat of primer and then used acrylic paints to add some color. I found indoor plants at Home Depot for $4 each. For $12 total, I bought 4 small pots and then divided them into the six cans.

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom
***The colors don't exactly match my bookshelves but they're close. 
I also added in one yellow can because yellow is my favorite color.

6. My friend Jenni shared that Menard's had rugs for sale so I dragged my family there when we were in Bourbonnais for Bears training camp. I was able to find two 4 x 6 rugs that match each other and my color scheme. They were each $15 so I spent $30 total but waaaaay cheaper than most rugs I've seen. 

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

7. Finally, we stopped in at Goodwill on my search for word games and stumbled upon two wooden benches. I might paint them at some point but for now I just wiped them down and found a spot for them. They might be my favorite addition. I paid $15 for each of them so another $30 total.

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

jen vincent, teaching, classroom

And here's what it looks like now:


Students come tomorrow! 


Monday, August 12, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/12/2019

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 


Last Week's Book Adventures:
I didn't get as much reading done this week as I had hoped...but I did start The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. 

Last Week's Posts:
exploring identity, jen vincent, identity, teaching, middle school

Shared Art Project

Founding Story Exploratory

story exploratory, giveaway, jen vincent, writing

Story Exploratory's Back to School Giveaway!

(Click on the image and/or links to visit the posts.)

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm going to keep reading The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman and I get to read some picture books with my students this week! I can't wait!!! I'm starting with The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Story Exploratory's Back to School Giveaway!

story exploratory, giveaway, back to school, jen vincent
Yesterday I shared how my identity is still evolving and how this year I became a small business owner. I'm so proud of Story Exploratory and am excited to share it with the world. 

story exploratory, jen vincent, writing

To celebrate back-to-school season, Story Exploratory is hosting a Back to School Giveaway!

story exploratory, back to school, giveaway


story exploratory, back to school, giveaway

Here's the link to the Story Exploratory Facebook page so you can join in on the fun!

jen vincent, story exploratory

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Founding Story Exploratory #exploringidentity

jen vincent, exploring identity, blog

I'm a small business owner.

In some ways it was a monumental change in my life and in other ways it was no big deal. 

Mentally, it took a lot to get Story Exploratory up and running. Physically, walking into the county building and submitting my application was a piece of cake. 

story exploratory, writing, workshops, stories, jen vincent

I dreamed up Story Exploratory because 
I wanted to be 
seen, 
celebrated, 
and empowered. 

I felt overwhelmed and tired and stuck. 
I felt under-appreciated. 
I felt like life had more in store for me.
I felt like I just had to figure out how to share it with the world. 

I wondered if maybe others were feeling this too. And I wondered if maybe I could create a space where people could feel seen, celebrated, and empowered. 

Story Exploratory is my contribution to the world. 

Story Exploratory is for awesome people who are ready to make the world a better place. If you are self-reflective, willing to put in the work, and not afraid to take action, then Story Exploratory is for you. By exploring our stories, we own the people, places, and experiences that have shaped us, share our journeys, and use our stories to impact change in the world. 

I believe you are more amazing than you know. 

My job is to see you and celebrate you. At Story Exploratory, I give you the time and space and love to explore your story, own your headspace, and maximize your potential. YOU will make the world a better place. I'll be there to guide you and help you along the way. It's not easy, but together, it will be an epic adventure. 

As the founder of Story Exploratory, 
see, 
celebrate, 
and empower people.

story exploratory, jen vincent, writing, workshops

It's the best! I help people unlock their stories and polish them up so they can shine. I help people navigate the ups and downs of life, tackle self doubt, and face their inner critics. I help people take action and live up to their amazing potential. I support people at every point in their journey. Best of all, I get to celebrate people and have fun. 

I'm a proud, small business owner.

Just when I think I'm old enough to know who I am, I start a small business and suddenly I'm taking on a new identity. It's exciting to think about how our identity can evolve over time and I want to be sure to share this with my students. I also am so proud to be able to share this new identity as a small business owner. I'm a Latina woman who started her own small business and that's pretty rockstar, right?!

If you're interested in checking out one of my upcoming workshops, you can find more information and register here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Shared Art Project #exploringidentity

exploring identity, identity, education, jen vincent, teaching

Last week I shared how I'll be using Jason Mamoa's short film Canvas of My Life to introduce identity webs to my students with Sara Ahmed's lesson from Being The Change. I also shared my ideas for inviting students to write about a door that has been significant in their life. After giving students an opportunity to get to know each other through these activities and others too, I then have a shared art project for them based on Canvas of My Life.

We've all heard of shared reading and shared writing, right? Well, this is a shared art project! I've always been an arts and crafts kind of girl. I come from a family of creatives and I'm lucky that they encouraged my creativity. Art is special and important and I want to incorporate it into my class as much as possible.

Here's what I have in mind for our first art project!

I bought a 5 x 5 canvas drop cloth from Home Depot for each of my classes and am going to ask them to work together to paint something that represents them as a class. My aunt is an artist and has tons of little bottles of acrylic paint and oodles of paintbrushes so I've asked her to come in and share her expertise and resources with my students. 

At this point, students will be familiar with symbolism so I'll talk to them about what they would paint that would represent them as a group. We'll talk about the message Jason Mamoa shares in the video and also what we've learned about each other from sharing our doors and what is important to us overall. Then we'll divide up the work and get started. I have space on one wall in our classroom where we'll display their artwork for the year. My thought is that at the end of the year, we'll cut the canvas up and students will each get a piece of the canvas to take with them as a keepsake and a reminder of the work we did together. 

My goal for our shared art project is to invite students to think about their identity in terms of being part of a community and how they impact that community. I'm so excited to see what they come up with because I already know it will be more awesome than I can even imagine. Don't worry, I'll share how this goes and how the art turns out!

Have you tried art projects with your students? I love the idea of bringing art into my classroom and would love to hear your thoughts or stories of what you've tried!

Monday, August 5, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/05/2019

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 


Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I took some time to disconnect from everything and just read. I finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, They Call My Güero, and The Stars Beneath Our Feet.

Last Week's Posts:
exploring identity, jen vincent, identity, teaching, middle school
(Click on the image and/or links to visit the posts.)

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'm looking forward to reading The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman and Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga.

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers,
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you.
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Doors In Our Lives #exploringidentity

exploring identity, identity, education, jen vincent, teaching

Last week I shared how I'll be using Jason Mamoa's short film Canvas of My Life to introduce identity webs to my students with Sara Ahmed's lesson from Being The Change. I'm also going to use the film to introduce the idea of symbolism and then segue into think about people, places, and experiences that have shaped us. I'm planning to do picture book book-a-day and have picked out books with doors in them so we can discuss what doors represent and then share doors that have been significant in our lives. 

bookaday, picture books, mentor texts, identity, doors, books, jen vincent
Thank You, Omu!
Door,
Doors In The Air
Wherever You Go
Knock Knock
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns
*not pictured: Journey
Why doors exactly? 

Because of this guy: Alan Benchoam.
jen vincent, doors, doors of the world, alan benchoam
Here I am with Alan Benchoam in his gallery in Guatemala.

When I was in Guatemala in June, I met a photographer named Alan Benchoam who takes photos of doors. You can find more information about him at Doors of The World. He also creates collages with all the doors and as I was looking at his art, I realized how amazing doors are. There are doors we go through, doors that open, doors that close, doors that take us to different places. Doors hold a lot of meaning. I love the symbolism but also that doors are a universal experience.

The picture books I shared above all have doors in them, whether the door is a focus of the book or just embedded in the story at some point. My goal is to read the books to give students an opportunity to think of doors in different ways as they choose a door they would like to write about. Students will be asked to take a picture of a door of their choice and to write about it. Then we'll share the photos they took and their writing. I'd love to display these but haven't worked through the details of what this would look like. Maybe I'll get the kids' input and go from there!

Of course, I believe in writing along with the students so when I was in Guatemala and had this idea of taking pictures of doors and writing about them, I snapped pictures of two doors that meant a lot to me while I was there. Being a writer myself is imperative as a teacher of writing but sharing myself is equally as important. I'll share both of these pictures, talk through my ideas, and model writing about a door that is significant to me. (I'll be sure to share my writing and how this goes with students!)

jen vincent, door, guatemala
While I was in Guatemala, I stayed with my cousin Andrea and her family and this is the door to their house. It looks like a simple brown door but when I look at it, I feel the love that welcomed me on the other side of it. I think of her, her husband, and her three kids. I think of the stories we shared and the memories we made while I was there. We played hide and seek and Chinese jump rope, they were fascinated by my bedtime routine, and they ordered a vegan pineapple upside down cake for my birthday celebration are some of my favorites.
k'ashem, guatemala, jen vincent, adventure
This is the door to K'Ashem, my cousin Edgar's adventure tourism agency in Guatemala. When I look at this door, I feel excitement. Going on an excursion with him was the highlight of my trip to Guatemala. I loved getting to see him in his element and to experience Guatemala with him. I'm such an outdoorsy, adventurous person and so is he so when I look at this door, I think of him and am reminded to live life to the fullest.

My goal is to take time for students to write about something in their life and share it as we get to know each other but then work on a shared art project based of off the Jason Mamoa video...I promise I'll share more about that next!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Jason Mamoa and Identity Webs #exploringidentity

jen vincent, writing, exploring identity, identity, teaching

I'm diving into learning on the very first day of school! This summer I read Sara Ahmed's Being The Change and truly loved her identity web lesson. My students are 7th and 8th graders so I wanted to pick a text that would catch their attention. I looked at the texts Sara suggests in Being The Change but ultimately decided to go with a digital text that I found from Katherine Sokolowski's blog post: Building Relationships at the Start of the Year

Katherine shared this Carhartt Handemade Film about Jason Mamoa called Canvas of My Life. I love it for lots of reasons and had already planned to show it as part of a community building art project but as I was thinking about identity, I realized this movie fits perfectly with Sara's identity web lesson. Here it is so you can watch it for yourself:


I'll ask students to watch and notice what we learn about Jason Mamoa and who he is. Based on Sara's lesson, we'll create an identity web for Jason based on evidence we find in the text, then I'll create one for myself, and finally, they'll have time to discuss and create their own identity webs. I'm toooootally simplifying this so you'll have to get a copy of Being The Change so you can read Sara explain this lesson in much more detail. 
being the change, sara ahmed, heinemann, identity, teaching
Building students' awareness of themselves and their identity is super important to me but I want my students to grow their understanding of how we fit into communities we belong to as well. Using this video for our identity webs will be a great foundation for our shared art project that invites students to develop their identity as a classroom community/team. More on that soon!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

On Blogging with Students #exploringidentity

My Writing Wednesdays posts are inspired by my friend Katherine Sokolowski who blogs at Read, Write, Reflect. She's a middle school teacher who writes too!

*****


Blogging has been an awesome addition to my life so I’m excited to share it with students! I first started our family blog in 2008 and then shifted to blogging about teaching in 2010 so it's a big part of my identity.

What I love most about blogging is that it's short and sweet. I try to keep my blog posts to the point but the writing process is also short when I blog. I spend time on my posts but I go through the process and publish what I’ve written fairly quickly (especially compared to traditional publishing!). 

I love that I can add a picture or a video and I can link to other ideas. And I really love that I have a cool artifact with all my thoughts in one place. It’s a unique sort of digital scrapbook that allows me to share my life with others. 

This year I’ll be sharing some sort of short text with students, either a photo, video, poem, or article. We’ll use these texts to practice visual thinking strategies, making connections, asking questions. Then students will think critically, discuss and maybe do some research, and respond by blogging. They'll have a choice to pick what they want to respond to from the week. Because blogging is meant to be short...both in length and turn around, I’m hoping this will be a place for students to explore ideas and experience publishing on a consistent basis. 

I’ll be looking for thoughtful content and for students to practice including different media in their responses but I won’t be grading their blogs. To start, I'm going to use Seesaw for the first trimester so they'll have a sheltered audience and then we'll discuss and decide if it's working for them or not. 

Shout out to Pernille Ripp and Tricia Ebarvia for sharing their thoughts on blogging with students and helping me plan for blogging with my students! Do you blog with students or have thoughts on giving students the opportunity to blog? I'd love to hear about it!

Getting Ready for Students!

Tomorrow is the first day of school!  I'm so excited to meet my students. They are the most important part of our classroom.  ...