Christian Teacher, Public School

". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pinterest Boards Full of Back to School Goodness for Teachers


If you're like me, you're already scouring your Pinterest boards for fresh teaching strategies for the new school year. It seems like I'm constantly digging for helpful articles on organization, classroom management, lesson planning, and content area resources. Then in the middle of the school year, I head to Pinterest for glimmers of inspiration to help me get through the tough stuff of school. Whether it's a promise from the Bible or a funny baby animal meme, there's something in my boards to put a smile on my face.

In case you're looking for some Back-to-School teacher goodness, here are links to some of my favorite boards! Enjoy!

Classroom/Content
Elementary
Teaching HS (primarily ELA-focused)
High School Drama
Writing Fiction
Teacher Supplies (Okay, I love this one!)
Classroom Decor

For the Teacher's Well-Being
Christian Teacher, Public School
Smart, Professional Clothes
Painting
Healing Garden (Take a walk in my garden! It's soothing!)
Blessings (Can I get an "Amen"?)
Books to Read in My Nonexistent Reading Nook When It Rains

I hope you enjoy these Pinterest boards. Have a favorite teacher-pinner? Share the boards you return to again and again!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How I Use Famous Shakespeare Quotes to Teach Literary Elements

Visit Brevity on TPT!

Just a few more hours to scoop up savings at Brevity and other stores on Teachers Pay Teachers at the Back to School sale! I've already found lots of great resources to help inject some Core-aligned energy into my lesson planning.


First Folio, cardboard cutout, the Bard, teacher
Me and Will Shakespeare
One of the units I teach every year in 9th, 10th, and 12th grade English is Shakespeare. They say "Necessity is the mother of invention," and necessity certainly inspired some of the Shakespeare unit resources I've created. I wanted a memorable way to teach literary elements and introduce students to the plays they would be reading before they ever got to the prologue.

I also wanted a way to build character through quotes from the play and the discussions the quotes would ignite.

The wall docs I created for Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar help make connections for students, which is always a good thing. They build understanding of terms students will work with throughout the Shakespeare unit, and they help students remember what they learn.

How I Use Literary Elements in Famous Quotes Wall Docs in My Classroom


At the beginning of the semester, I hand out the full list of quotes and their corresponding literary elements, such as metaphor, symbol, or rhyming couplets. I explain that students will not be expected to memorize the quotes, but that they will need to be able to match the literary element to the quote that demonstrates it.

I then post the first quote doc on the wall and ask the class to read the quote aloud with me, either from the wall doc or from the handout. We then discuss the quote, the literary element, and how the language of the quote exemplifies the literary element. That's it for Day One. 

Macbeth quotes on my classroom wall
Each day, we repeat the reading and discussion for one week. On Monday of the next week, I introduce a new quote. Periodically, we review previous quotes and the terms that match them.

I assess students on terms and quotes as I see fit. This resource allows the teacher to use informal assessment daily without imposing an extra quiz on stressed-out students.

The beauty of working with specific famous quotes in a targeted way is that before students even read a line of the play, they become familiar with some of the famous lines and plot elements. Then, when we read the play and come across these quotes, light bulbs go on all around the room. Students see the quotes in context, understand the richness of the language, and remember the mechanics behind the poetry of Shakespeare. As an added plus, my students often tell me, "I was watching Sponge Bob and they quoted Shakespeare!" I love it when kids recognize literary allusions in the world around them. It's all about making connections!

Purchasing Shakespeare wall docs and other teacher resources from Brevity helps keep me blogging and helps keep ads on ChristianTeacherPublicSchool to a minimum. To take advantage of the Back to School Sale, just enter code BTS2017 at checkout! Thanks for your support!


Monday, July 31, 2017

Back to School Sale at Brevity on Teachers Pay Teachers



Welcome to August, teachers!

I'm excited to announce the Back to School sale at my shop, Brevity, on Teachers Pay Teachers! It's the first time I've participated in this fun sale, and I'm offering a 20% discount off all items in my store! The sale runs for just two days, so I hope you'll swing by and check out all the great deals and steals August 1-2! Remember, TPT shops offer freebies, too, so do yourself a favor, stock up and make your life easier this school year.

What will you find at Brevity on TPT?


greeting cards
8 Encouraging ECards for Teachers, Summer/Fall Collection

What else is new at Christian Teacher, Public School?

Dalene Parker (left) with Amy Ballard

I just got back from a wonderful visit with family in South Carolina and Kentucky. One of the added blessings of the trip was finally getting to meet my friend, author Dalene Vickery Parker, for the first time! Dalene and I talked about teaching, family, faith, and lots of other things over coffee at Due South Coffee in Taylors, SC. It was great to see her and talk with her instead of just exchanging emails and texts. 


If you haven't had a chance to read Dalene's books, please visit her on Amazon. Christian Teachers in Public Schools is a fantastic resource and an encouragement for the heart of the busy teacher. Words to Live By is a devotional focusing on one spirit-building word per week.

During my stay at my parents' home in Kentucky, my sister took me to an open mic at Etcetera Coffeehouse in Paducah. I got to read several poems from my chapbook, Landlocked. The room wasn't packed, but the crowd was great. And I highly recommend the coffee!

In other news, I decided to get off Facebook, so that means Christian Teacher, Public School is also off Facebook. You can still reach me by clicking on "Comments" below each post, or through my Web site, amyballard.com. Thanks for following!

I was recently challenged to organize a prayer walk to invite God's watchcare over staff and students at my school for the upcoming year. We'll see if my busy life can take that on, but in the meantime, let's all stop and pray right now for the new school year. I wish you all the best as you begin teaching soon!

Blessings,

Amy




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

More Fun at the P20 Educator Conference 2017

This afternoon I get to present Choose Your Own Adventure: Writing and Publishing Narratives Using Digital Technology at the P20 Educator Conference in Twin Falls. It's always fun to hear other teachers share strategies for teaching writing while we learn to hyperlink and create alternate-path stories. Narrative writing is such an adventure!

Want the slideshow? It's yours! Go to https://goo.gl/c49wS5.

For more encouragement today, one of my favorite conference-related posts is Avoid Burnout and Get the Most Out of an Education Conference. At the P20 conference, I don't expect to feel burnt out. It's only two days, and the sessions have been awesome! Hope you get as much out of your conference as I already have! Share in the comments some of your take-aways. I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

P20 Conference 2017

Amy at the P20 Conference
The P20 Educator Conference at the College of Southern Idaho is going full steam ahead, and I'm excited to share my presentations. This morning it's Faith and the Public School Teacher, followed by Choose Your Own Adventure tomorrow afternoon.

In today's session I'll give away a copy of Words to Live By: 52 Words That Lead to an Extraordinary Life, a wonderful devotional book by Linda Gilden and my friend Dalene Parker. Don't miss Dalene's first book, Christian Teachers in Public Schools: 13 Essentials for the Classroom.

Looking forward to an awesome conference with my fellow Idaho teachers! May the Lord bless us as we gather tools and strategies for the coming school year.

Words To Live By

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April: The Downhill Slope, or Uphill All the Way?

Easter, egg, daffodils, vintage, the graphics fairy, April, May, spring
April showers bring May flowers


April showers may be falling, but teachers and students can't slow down to go puddle stomping just yet. It's state standardized testing season! The juniors at your district may be taking the SAT, and everyone's talking about prom, academic fair, concerts, and drama plays to wind up the year. Next thing we know, it'll be final exams and graduation! Where did the time go?

From my white board
During this frenetic month of April, I'm constantly reminding myself to pause and pray.

If I don't, I'll lose sight of God's care over me. I'm praying for my students to learn empathy, to do their best on their ISATs, and to learn their lines for drama. For my own kids and myself, I always ask for a good day. No matter how rushed we are in the morning, I stop the car at the stop sign on our road (our "praying spot") and my sons and I pray for God's blessing on our day.

How thankful I am for the bright spots coming our way this stressful month! Students showcase their learning, teachers celebrate improvement, and we all start counting down the weeks till the end of school. April is National Poetry Month, National Child Abuse Prevention MonthAutism Acceptance Month, Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month, and, ironically (to me at least), Stress Awareness Month. April 24 is Idaho's Day of Holocaust Remembrance, a great opportunity to learn about a very dark time in history so we can prevent its being repeated. The message couldn't be more timely.

And for the believer, Easter reminds us of God's resurrection power.

Luke 24:5-8 says, "and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 'He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.' And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest."

May we all seek the Lord this Easter season and know His power to raise the dead and save the lost.









Sunday, April 9, 2017

Unpacking Idaho's 2017 Federal Programs Conference

 It's great to be back from the 2017 Federal Programs Conference in Boise! Now to unpack what I've learned. . . .

First some highlights for those of you who wonder what it's like to go to a conference like this.


  • Keynote speakers Charlotte Danielson, Luis Cruz, Diane Staehr Fenner, and of course rapper MK Asante brought inspiring messages encouraging us to be "merchants of hope," to remember that "If you make an observation, you have an obligation," and to keep doing the work that makes such a difference in the lives of our neediest students. 

    Amy with the great Charlotte Danielson
  • Breakout sessions deepened our understanding of topics under the Federal Progams umbrella (and at this conference, special education). I learned about reaching English Learners, using multicultural literature for inclusion, leveraging score changes in WIDA Access 2.0, apps that support student accessibility, and Socratic Discussions with my friends Wendi and Kim from the Idaho Coaching Network.

  • I presented Choose Your Own Adventure: Writing and Publishing Narratives Using Digital Technology to a great bunch of teachers. Want the slideshow? It's yours! Go to https://goo.gl/c49wS5. The hostess at my session gave me a goody bag with The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore inside. Can't wait to read it!

Amy's presenter badge
  • I got to catch up with some of the great folks from CSI who put on the P20 Educator Conference last summer. They're gearing up for this July, and I'll be presenting Choose Your Own Adventure and Faith and the Public School Teacher there again this year.

  • Came home loaded up with freebies like animal-photo posters from Discovery Education, a coloring book for my daughter, and oodles of books from Stan Steiner's session, "What's New in Multicultural Children's Literature." More on that session another time!

Multicultural literature
  • I got to explore Boise and meet new people. Networking is a huge part of why we go to conferences at all, and I try to take advantage of the chance to get help with issues I'm facing in the classroom, school, or in my district as a whole. (Okay, in my small community, the school and the district are one and the same. But you get what I'm saying).

View from the parking garage near the Boise Centre

What I'd like to see at next year's conference? A session called "Federal Programs 101." After all, some of us (me) are newbies to Fed Programs, and we need to know how to prepare for an audit, manage input from staff members, and make sure our school is doing the best it can to meet the needs of all learners.


More from the conference soon, but in the meantime, what do you think new Federal Programs Directors need to know about their job? Leave comments below! We newbies thank you!



Further Reading:
From eSchool News: 5 technologies to avoid in the classroom-and what to use instead
What Happened When I Interviewed Hip-Hop Artist MK Asante (And a Truck With a Confederate Flag Drove By)
From Dayspring.com: What's in Your Easter Basket?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Who Is My Neighbor? Better Information Means Better Compassion

But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:29


nonfiction 2017 book reading Europe Syria
The New Odyssey
Just finished reading The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis. Patrick Kingsley's reporting goes beyond information to find the heart of the story, the individuals and families who seek asylum from political upheaval and terrorism.

In addition to telling a captivating story, this book is a vital handbook to response for elected officials, students, humanitarian volunteer workers, prayer warriors, donors, voters, and people who simply want to be better informed about their world. Teachers of current events and world history in public high schools should consider making this book part of the curriculum.

Reading this book did not change my mind about what I think my own response to the refugee crisis ought to be. It informed my thinking and (although it is not a religious book) reinforced my belief that Christ calls us to compassion more often than to safety. If my neighbor is in need, I hope to be a Christian who shares what she has, rather than one who shuts the door and ignores my neighbor's knocking.

Who is my neighbor? The example of Jesus and the parables He told reveal that we must sometimes cross cultural and religious "borders" to help our neighbors. If biblical precedent is not enough, may books like The New Odyssey help believers everywhere to set aside their fears, cross borders, and offer aid to the world's most vulnerable.

Link Love
Follow Amy on Goodreads.

On March 8, read Amy's guest blog post "Getting To Conflict: The Absolute Necessity of Unpleasantness in Fiction" on The Artist Unleashed.

Sit in on Amy's narrative writing session at the Idaho Federal Programs Conference at the Boise Centre April 7. Teachers will learn how to use Choose Your Own Adventure story structure to teach ELA standards in narrative writing. Hyperlink your story's alternate endings using Google Docs and you have a current take on a 1980s reader favorite that inspired the gamebook genre.

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Tab: Autism Resource Links

"I will give thanks to You, 
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well."
Psalm 139:14 (NASB)


We've added an Autism resource tab to the top of the Christian Teacher, Public School blog. This small effort won't lead to the most exhaustive list of Autism Spectrum resources on the Web. Instead, I hope it helps readers of this blog form connections at crucial times in their journeys with autism (whether as parents, teachers, or as people on the Spectrum themselves) and to help others along the way.

Interested in writing about autism in the public school setting? I would like to connect with guest bloggers who are teachers or who are parents of public school children on the Spectrum. On the Spectrum yourself? Even better.

Here are some tips on writing about Autism for Christian Teacher, Public School:

  • Be clear: Who are you and why are your writing about this topic? What's your point? What are you helping/asking readers to do?
  • Be current and accurate in your research, citing sources as appropriate
  • Explain acronyms on the first use
  • Be personal, revealing actual perspectives of real people on the Autism Spectrum, not assumptions
  • Obtain permission, change names as appropriate, and be accurate in your representations of others
  • Connect readers to resources (lesson plans, accommodations, blogs, books, local chapters of Autism organizations, support groups, conferences, etc.)
  • Keep a positive and constructive tone
  • Be original (only your own work that hasn't appeared online before)
  • Keep the audience in mind. We exist specifically for Christian teachers who teach in public schools, although others may find us helpful. Our preferred content is uplifting, spiritually-relevant, and biblically-literate. We believe that God created all neurotypes as a reflection of His creativity, uniqueness, power, glory, and love. We celebrate autism as a gift from the creator. Not every article need express this perspective overtly, and "preaching" is not wanted. Just let your light shine.

How to Submit
Please query before sending submissions for consideration. Contact Amy Ballard by email at amy (at) amyballard (dot) com. Nominal payment may be available for quality content on Autism in the public school, especially if written by teachers or students (current or former) with Autism. We'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Stepping Stones: Children's Books on Immigration and Refugees

"And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."  Matthew 10:42

In keeping with my recent readings about the refugee crisis, I thought I would pass along a superb roundup of children's books about refugees. Jen Gann at NYMag.com's The Cut praises titles such as Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey by Margriet Ruurs for help with "explaining to children that the heart and soul of America is to welcome others to our country who need a safe place to make a home."

Stepping Stones


How can teachers use books like Stepping Stones in the classroom?
  • Read aloud and notice how illustrations enhance the narrative
  • Make predictions about what will happen after the end of the story
  • Pair with art lessons; allow students to illustrate part of the story in a different art medium
  • Conduct a Socratic seminar using the book and related texts to explore the facts and controversies of the refugee crisis
  • Give an art show displaying student interpretations of the story in art and poetry
  • Pair with current news articles and photos
  • Create a classroom newspaper with students' articles about the refugee crisis
  • Springboard to writing assignments like song lyrics, diary entries, letters, and research essays

From the blurb for Stepping Stones on Amazon.com: 

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.

Know of a good book to help children understand current events? Have a strategy for teaching current events through nonfiction? Share!