Discover, Curate, and Share

August 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Favorites

Gone are the days of wasting trees and desk space!

This summer, I’ve been curating articles, videos, images and links to use in the classroom.  To kick-off this fabulous new school year, I’d like to share my ever-growing collection.  Peruse for personal or professional use:

A.  Delicious:  Here you will find my curation of articles I discovered over the summer to share with students.  The main bundle consists of 70 informational, high-interest articles.  One of my goals is to incorporate as much non-fictional reading as possible into both my reading and freshmen curriculums.  The other bundles include various public speaking articles, articles for college-bound seniors and articles about writing.  Take a peek

B.  YouTube:  My collection of videos to use in and out of the classroom  . . . . Here are the playlists:

~ Education:  Videos that can be shared in just about any classroom . . . everything from social media to punctuation is explored here.

~ Motivational:  Videos to motivate to think, act or believe

~ Speech:  Speeches to watch and instructional videos on performance components of public speaking

~ Writing:  Instructional videos on forms of writing and writing inspirations

~ Reading: Videos to show my reluctant readers . . . videos to motivate as well as inform on reading strategies

~ Shakespeare:  Videos to enjoy and/or share about the Bard

~ For My Seniors:  Great tips on entering college or making career choices

~ For My Honors Freshmen:  Critical thinking videos

~ Just For Fun:  Videos to make us smile

~ Music:  My compilation of my very favorites 🙂

C.  Vimeo :  3 more video playlists (videos not on YouTube)  I wish there was a more organized way to categorize these.  The hardest part is remembering I bookmarked them in the first place; moreover, remembering them during opportune occasions is the challenge.

~ Education:  More videos to share with my students

Music & Misc:  Basically, my own personal “likes”

~ Speech Class:  More videos to share with speech students

d. Pinterest:  I’ve been having the most fun with this social network as of late.  I’m utilizing Pinterest both for professional and personal use.  For instance, you will find a board for literacy coaching as well as a board for yoga; there is a board for writing as well as a board for recipes to try.  The list goes on!!  Check out the 60 boards I’m always adding to – including illustrations, photos, graphic organizers, infographics, recipes, etc.  See my recent post about Pinterest:  Post or Pin?  Pinterest Pulls My Time for details.     Better yet, go straight to my Pinterest page and follow me there!!

e.  SlideShare:  Miscellaneous slideshows I’ve favorited along the way . . . including visual writing prompts and a presentation on interactive notebooks.  There are only 7 favorites here.  Clearly, I don’t use this platform too often.


I’m curious – where else are you collecting material?!  Are you using Diig?  Let me know!!!!  Let’s collaborate and share the wealth of information!

Post or Pin? – Pinterest Pulls My Post Time

May 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Favorites

Besides simply being happily busier lately, there’s been a new kid on the social media block that’s peeked my interest and taken away a portion of my posting time.  By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard about and/or dabbled in the #3 most popular social network (beaten only by Facebook and Twitter) – Pinterest.  This rank is according to the latest report by Experian Marketing Services, and was acheived in a very short amount of time.

I’m here to post that I’m joyfully contributing to that jump!  During the past four months since I signed on, Pinterest is benefiting me both professionally and personally.  I’m so excited about this that I recently presented my case for Pinterest and other social media channels at a  recent literacy coach meeting at my school; I’m happy to say I have created some converters . . . slowly but surely.  🙂  For those of us still thinking that it is “another waste of time,” or “something I don’t have time to dabble with until summer,” perhaps this post will sway you to pin a few and see what happens!!  Even my principal, a converted social media enthusiast, emailed the faculty recently, tauting the benefits of teachers pinning boards!!  So, here it is . . . a rundown of how Pinterest is benefiting me (so far!):

My Professional Pinterest:

1.  I have the following educational boards on which I collect lesson plans, videos, articles, and images to use in and out of the classroom.

a.  Read, Read, Read: Collection of pictures, strategies and videos that motivate me and my students to read

b.  Yes to YA Books:  Books I or my reading students have read, enjoyed, and recommend to others

c.  Literacy Coaching:  a collection of tools to share with faculty as we spread best practices in literacy instruction that aligns with our common core standards.  Note:  I just started this board and look forward to continuing to add to it throughout the sumer as we “facelift” our current literacy coach program.  I am the coordinator of the literacy coach program at my school and truly enjoy getting out of my classroom and visiting/observing classes in other subject areas.  Watch for future pins that will reflect ALL content areas.

d.  Writing Well:   Here is where I pin resources for my own writing as well as lesson plan ideas for my own students.  Loads of writing prompts here!

e.  Greatly Good Grammar:  Need to brush up on your grammar?  I’m pinning quick and painless grammar tips here.

f.  Speak the Speech:  Collection of speeches, body language tips, interpersonal studies . . . As speech class is an entirely different curriculum all its own, I foresee this board growing into 3 – 4 boards.  Stay tuned!!

g. Excellent English Endeavors:  Those items that could be used in a number of different English classes (i.e. genre identification, spelling errors, etc)

h.  Shakespeare:   Board devoted to the Bard . . . links to sites, pictures and quick facts about him and his works.

i.  Education:  Items that can be useful to any educator – everything from appreciation gift ideas to school supplies to graphic organizers.

j.  Teacher Technology:  I will be referring back to this board quite often this summer as I prepare to flip my classrooms as much as I can.  I’m adding to this one every day, so stay tuned!!

k.  Carefully Counseling Careers:  As I contemplate pursuing my PhD in Counseling, a collection of resources for college and career.  One of the reasons I enjoy teaching Senior Expository Composition so much is because I revel in our college preparation unit.  After assisting my daughter through her own very successful college admissions journey, I feel experienced and passionate about this step everyone should be privileged to take in life.

l.  Cozy, Cool Classrooms: Ideas for setting up my classroom walls, bulletin boards, and organization

m.  High School Show & Tell: Videos my students can benefit from and/or simply enjoy

n.  Educational Leadership:  I just started this board; but, stay tuned for applications, articles and artifacts to aid in staff development, administration  (yes, I have my Type 75)

o.  Book Lovers’ Apparel/Accessories: Items that book-driven educators may enjoy wearing and/or using

Follow me on Pinterest!!

My Personal Pinterest:  (a sampling . . . too many to list all)

2.  I have a collection of boards on which I collect artifacts to aid me in my hobbies, personal goals and every day life.

a.  Fitness Fun:  This board holds a plethora of workout and training ideas for my close second passion – fitness.  When I retire from teaching, I plan on pursuing my personal training and nutritionist certification.  By that time, I’ll be working with the older generation of us who will probably still be wanting to train but not being told what to do by a perky 20 year old.  That’s where I’ll come in – a perky 60 year old.  🙂

b.  Nutrition Nuggets:   The power of food fascinates me.  The more I learn about food, the more reality sets in that we truly are what we eat.  Here is where I will be collecting facts and figures about nutrition.  This is also a fairly new board so plan on its immense growth!!

c.  My Visual Bucket List:  Honestly, when I signed on to Pinterest, this board was why.  I planned on pinning my bucket list desires and that’s about it.  Well, that certainly flew out the window quicker than a suffocating fly!!

d.  Yoga Love:  I LOVE yoga.  A dear friend introduced it to me a few years back, and I’ve been stretching my way happy ever since.  My only wish is that I had more time for it.  I make time once a week for Hot Yoga – but my body craves more.

e.  Quotable Quotations:  True followers of GG will remember I already have a category devoted to quotations on this site, Quotable Quotations.  I wouldn’t be a true English teacher if I didn’t love the written and spoken word.  This is the one board that gets the most repins.  I simply pin those words that I’m feeling at the moment.  Once, when having a difficult moment, I pinned a quotation that was exactly what I was feeling at the moment – I woke up the next morning to 1500 repins!!  Apparently, many could relate to what I was going through!!  Power of the pin!!

f.  i Heart iPhones:  where I collect new app and shortcut information

g.  Books Worth the Read:  when I’m not at school, I’m working out.  When I’m not working out, I’m reading (after a few pinning moments, of course!).  Here is a collection of my favorite books along with a few I plan on reading this summer, poolside of course.

h.  Now You See It InfoGraphics:  While I have infographics posted on other boards having to do with those subjects, here’s a collection of graphs that I find interesting and useful

i.  Food to Taste and For Fun Food:  Of course, I have to have the healthful and the not-so-much foods.  It’s all about eating right so one can afford to cheat once in a blue moon.  Pinterest is a FABULOUS place to hold recipes!!

j.  Particularly Pleasing Products and Ideal Ideas and Goods Good to Know . . . all boards that provide a convenient place for me to store products I wish to make note of/buy in the future, ideas I may wish to try, and life lessons good to know.

And the list goes on . . . check out my Pinterest page for all 47 of my boards.  

My Pinterest Tools:  

~ Pin a Quote:  Allows me to create and pin my own quotations

~ Pin Page:  Allows me to pin an entire web site

My predictions for continued Pinterest improvements in the coming months

a.  allowance for privacy settings – I know there are many of us who hope this comes soon.   🙂

b.  easier tracking of traffic – this will be a great tool for serious bloggers

c.  more “who to follow” tools – always helpful

There you have it – my take on one of the most popular social networks currently available.  Pinterest truly is a place to quickly hold and organize pieces of information that you wish to hold on to.  There are seemingly endless possibilities:  plan a special occasion, plan a lesson, collect for a portfolio, have students pin character boards, etc.

While I don’t see my zealous for Pinterest winding down any time soon, I will be making a concerted effort to divide my online time between pinning and posting.   In the meantime, join me on Pinterest @ www.pinterest/gradinggirl.  I look forward to your pins!!!  By the way, if you are currently on Pinterest, please feel free to click the little “Pin It” you see at the top or bottom of this page.  That will get this post on Pinterest – another great way to share information!!  Thank you!!!

The “iGeneration” in the Classroom and Beyond

January 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Favorites

Free Hot Technologies

(these are courtesy of a handout prepared by the tech coordinator at my school!)

~ . . . Website for creating electronic forms.  Best of all, data can be collected and imported to Excel.  This site allows you to be much more paperless and “green.”

~ . . . Website that allows you to share live video.  (Teachers, if you assign your class a project that requires them to interview people, they can use their phones to record and then use to store and playback the interviews for their project almost immediately.)

~ . . . Computational knowledge engine  [Example given:  3x + 2, enter your birth date, enter your name, Burger King Whopper, AAPL Stock Look-UP.]  Also does data comparison.

~ . . . You are able to animate movies by typing text, picking characters and camera angles.

~ . . . Easily make comic strips about a variety of topics.  Cartoon characters are easy to edit and the gallery has a vast amount of pictures and backgrounds to choose from.

~ . . . Geographic location sharing with your smart phone.  Useful for parents!!!  (New York Times rated it as one of the top 10 must have iPhone applications!)

~ . . . From any email address (Gmail has largest capacity to send attachments), send Posterous PowerPoint attachments, Word docs, music, etc, and it will create a free webpage with all your content.

~ . . . Can open any version of Word, PowerPoint, etc.  Has a sky drive (25 GB free) to save per account and internet TV useful for showing clips.

See my previous free technology site recommendations here:  Technology Tools to Try

Resources Every College-Bound Senior Needs

January 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Favorites

As a teacher of a senior writing course and as a mother of a college senior, I have particular interest and personal experience in college preparation.  Below is a collection of videos, sites and articles that I’ve used personally and in the classroom.  Share these and let me know what you think:


1.  William and Mary Admission Prompt:  Many students envision the admissions officers as formal, unapproachable, stuffy old souls.  This illustrates that they are, in fact, normal peeps just like them. (as recommended by @AndersonGL on Twitter)

“>The Social Media Revolution 2012 . . . underscores the importance of continually educating ourselves in today’s fast-paced technological society:


 7 Prestigious Undergrad Scholarships:  Students should apply for these!!  I’m having my second semester students choose (at least) one.  The essay they create for the scholarship will be a graded assignment!

 NY Times – DeMystifying College Admissions and Aid:  The New York Times has a wonderful site devoted especially to college-bound students.  My seniors love exploring this!

 Going Beyond Cliché – How To Write a Great College Essay:  from that same NY Times site . . . another example of how practical the site is.

 Beloit College Mindlist List – These lists put it all in perspective, illustrating the cultural milestones that helped shape their lives thus far.


 The Joys of Attending College Far From Home:  For those wondering if they should attend out-of-state, one student perspective . . .

4.  VIDEO FROM USC STUDENTS:  What I Wish I Knew as a Freshmen . . . applicable advice for freshmen attending any university.

Technology Tools to Try

October 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Favorites

This week, I attended a workshop on practical ways to incorporate my school’s new net books into our Title 1 classes.  Besides training on the net books, my colleagues conducting this shared some great online tools they use in the classroom.  Here are the new tools I’d like to try in all of my classes – Title 1, accelerated, and college-bound.  

To my followers who are not educators, these sites offer great resources for you as well.  Create a Photostory with your family photos, utilize BrainFlips to help your child memorize terms, turn to Diigo if you’re taking college courses and want to bookmark and organize your online research, peruse TedTalks when you’re looking for videos from credible speakers, etc.

Diigo – a great way for students (and teachers) to organize, store and share research.  This can be a convenient method to move toward paperless research that can be available on-the-go.   I would like to try this with my senior expository writing class.

Photostory – I’ve heard so much about how much the most reluctant reader enjoys this.  I watched some powerful examples from students who normally never turn in homework (I was told).  I’m definitely using this VERY SOON with my reading students!   It’s a user-friendly way for students to create slide shows that go beyond the average PowerPoint with voice narration, fun effects, etc.

Brain Flips – I may try these with both my reading students and my accelerated freshmen.  Another method for internalizing vocabulary is always welcome.

Voice Thread – This could be an interesting motivator as a personable way to comment on blogs, videos, artwork, etc.  Besides the usual typed comments, one can leave voice messages. Perhaps I’ll use this with online book talks.

Ted Talks – Use these video resources here to supplement discussions and units of study.  More organized and less commercial than YouTube, these credible, educational speakers and presentations are categorized by theme.

TeacherTube – I’ve already been using this, but I felt the need to add it here.  You will find videos specifically recorded for classroom use.    (Search for “Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration” for a ‘rocking’ take on the Declaration of Independence.  I never thought I’d see Ben Franklin play the electric guitar! 🙂 )

Edmodo – this social network for teachers & students looks like Facebook once you log in.  I’m not sure what I’ll use this for.  I’m having my students each create their own blogs (via WordPress) and the discussion threads on those blogs should be sufficient for sharing comments.  We’ll see . . . there’s so much great stuff out there!!

Foods I’m Eating and You’re Not (But Should Be)

September 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Favorites

I recently added these 3 foods into my diet.  Not only are they very surprisingly palatable, they pack quite the healthful punch.  Grading Girl recommends these for EVERYONE!!  Try them once . . . you just may be glad you did.

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds - Prized More Highly Than Gold by the Aztecs!

Talk about super food, chia is a high fiber seed that is the richest known vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids.  It has three times the antioxidants of blueberries, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and is a better protein source than beans or soy!!!!!!  I mix them in fat free cottage cheese, yogurt, oatmeal, and I even sneakily sprinkle them in my baked goodies.  2 tablespoons a day is all it takes.  Buy this – your body will thank you!  I bought my 1lb container at Whole Foods for $19.99.  Check it out!!!

Pitted Prunes

Don't roll your eyes and laugh - these REALLY are sweet and satisfying!

My favorite is Trader Joe’s Dried Fruit Pitted Prunes.  With only 12 grams of sugar per serving, it holds less sugar than most dried fruit . . . and less sugar ultimately means less belly fat.  Don’t underestimate the power of prune – it is a rich source of potassium, Vitamin A and iron.  This will give you energy and boost your immune system.  Pop a couple of these prunes when your sweet tooth is nagging at you.

Baby Beets

You can eat these hot or cold!

Tired of a side of potatoes?!  These are normally messy to prepare but Trader Joe’s Steamed & Peeled Baby Beets are ready to eat hot or cold.  I was hesitant to place these in my cart one day, but they were something new and different . . . and I’m constantly looking for unique food to try or cook.  (ask me about my new chicken burger recipe!!)  B is for beet – they are a good source of Vitamin B, an essential folate that helps our tissue grow and prevent cancerous diseases.

Bon Chic Bon Genre

May 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Fashion, Favorites, Reviews

My Favorite Designer!!

No, GG has not gone French!  While I’ve studied 7 1/2 years of French, my site would not be complete without me raving about my very favorite fashion line.  I can’t say enough about this line!!  BCBG’s Max Azria has been my favorite designer for six years . . . and counting.  It all started with a little red velvet halter dress I purchased for a wedding in 2003.  This dress fit like a glove without hugging too tightly; moreover, it was comfortable and spawned many a compliment.  Since that first fateful find, I’ve purchased (and received gifts of ) many BCBG dresses, shirts, sweaters, pants, shoes, and handbags.  I wear BCBG pieces, on average, three times a week.  BCBG is my go-to apparel when I’m pressed for time and don’t have a chance to answer the infamous “What Shall I Wear” question  – I know that if I grab a BCBG piece, I’ll look polished and refined.   I even attribute BCBG to one of the bonds between my sister-in-law and me.  I became very excited when I discovered we shared BCBG as a fave; today, scavenging a local BCBG boutique is a staple activity we share whenever I’m in town to visit.

BCBG is an acronym for the french phrase bon chic, bon genre—or good style, good attitude. This illustrates the vibe of the line.  Designed by Max Azria under the close supervision of wife Lubova, the label hosts legions of celebrity clients, 475 retail boutiques worldwide, inclusions in major department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy’s, and a slew of offshoots – including the more casual BCBGeneration (which my daughter enjoys!), the more upscale Max Azria Collection, and BCBGirls footwear.   Dresses and mix-and-match separates are the brand’s bread and butter: youthful but not cutesy, easy-to-wear, and with a bit of an edge.   Clients include Paris Hilton, Angelina Jolie, and Sarah Martineau.  I personally have had the surprise pleasure of spotting two specific pieces that I own on television celebrities:  Misha Barton sported the same matte-jersey pink mini dress on “The O.C.;” Eva Longoria sported my blue wrap top on “Desperate Housewives.”  It’s fun to spot your own clothes on celebs!  With all this famous following, you’d think the clothing would cost an arm and a leg to purchase.  Not so – this is the one upscale clothing line with the midscale price tags.  In fact, I can almost always scoop up a stellar piece (or two or three!) in the surprisingly stocked sales racks.  Purchasing BCBG is a win-win!

On GG’s Wish List for this Season!!

Every season, I “doggy-ear” my catalog’s favorites before I head for the boutique.  Here are the dresses I just bought this weekend.  I’m very happy and proud to say I purchased each at Macy’s or Lord & Taylor’s @ 30 – 50% each!!!

Admittedly, this is cuter on than in the picture - I won't wear the clunky dark shoes with it. My shrunken jean jacket goes perfectly!!

Matte jersey is my favorite dress material. This lays perfectly in all the right places. It's more coral than red - a good color for me!

The dress I have on order!!!!! So fabulous - I just might have to post a picture of me in it . . . maybe.

Grading Girl gives BCBG an A+ for timeless class and elegant, easy-to-wear style.  In fact, I wore a black cotton BCBG dress when I shopped for these . . . the third time this week that I donned BCBG.  I see myself continuing to be faithful to this line for a long time to come.  Thank you, Mr. Azria!

A Fortunate Favorite

April 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Favorites

Love, love, love this movie. I’m blogging on another subject, but had to take a detour to share a favorite as my daughter and her friend play this in the background. Serendipity is definitely my second favorite movie of all time.  The title is such a happy word!  This movie embodies those little fortunate accidents that we never expect or plan for but can completely change our lives.  They happen every day if we take the time to notice them.

One of my favorite scenes

One of my favorite scenes

If you are an unfortunate soul who has not yet seen this romantic comedy, Jonathon Tragger (John Cusack) meets Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) by chance.  Both are in relationships so when Jonathon asks for her number, Sara decides to write it in a book, sell it to a bookshop, and have Jonathon try to find it; she has him, in turn, place his name on a five dollar bill and gives it to a newspaperman. She states that if destiny wants them together, Jonathan will get that book back or she will receive that bill again. This marks the beginning of a “chase” as they both realize their current relationships aren’t their soul mates.  Has anyone ever tried something like this in “real life?!”

With co-stars such as Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon, this movie is written with memorable, quirky lines and approachable characters in which viewers can easily find pieces of themselves.  The soundtrack hails tunes that raise spirits, from David Grey’s peaceful “January Rain,” (a GG fave!) to John Mayer’s “83” to Louis Armstrong’s “Cool Yule.”  I’ve seen this movie probably 10 times within the past few years, and it tickles my heart each time.  Granted, this is coming from someone who saw the movie, Grease, 12 times when it was released in the theatre years ago (GG’s #1 fave movie), but I give this grade with a guarantee.  GG dares anyone who views this to dislike it – it’s impossible.  A+

During my daughter’s first trip to New York, we paid a visit to the Serendipity3 cafe where Jonathan and Sara infamously share a frozen hot chocolate.  While we didn’t spot anyone famous at this notoriously star-laden spot, GG gives this cozy coffee boutique an A for both food and atmosphere.  The menu offers unique choices such as my order, the Summer Bries (smoked turkey,apple and brie cheese on raisin pumpernickel bread, yum) and, of course the frozen hot chocolate.  The frozen hot chocolate is as boastful as hot hot chocolate and as creamy as a milkshake. With its Tiffany lampshaded 19th century decor, the cafe has been drawing people by the lines outside since opening in 1954.  We experienced an hour wait, but it was completely worth it.  One can browse through the sweet shop boutique and score a take-home frozen hot chocolate kit or Serendipity ice cream bowls. Andy Warhol once claimed this sweet shop as his favorite! Grading Girl shares the claim. Oh . . . and it looks exactly like it does in the movie.