Resources right in front of me
I recently started a research unit with my students that involves reading several non-fiction articles as a class, developing research questions, finding articles relating to their questions (and revising their questions in the process) and finally culminating with students writing an advice column for teens about their topic. I will be writing more about this unit as it unfolds since this is the first time I have taught a research and non-fiction unit with so much student choice, but in the course of planning this unit I realized how many fantastic resources I have in front of me.
A brief reflection on the past: When I started teaching I really thought I had to do everything myself. I asked other teachers for advice on how to deal with management issues, but I really thought I had to make or create all my materials myself. Even when other teachers did share material with me (and many were kind enough to when they saw me drowning) it was rarely the “thing” I wanted, so I would make something myself, pretty much from scratch. Over the years I’ve gotten better at adapting other people’s materials to fit my needs rather than starting from scratch, and I have (obviously) built up quite a personal library of texts, resources, etc. However, I have also gotten better at articulating what I need, to myself, and to others, which has allowed me to take full advantage of some fantastic resources at my school when planning this unit! Here are my main example:
– One of the topics my students were interested in were “college and careers.” So, I asked our guidance counselors if they had any informational articles (one of the types I wanted my students to read) about applying to college. They directed me to a fantastic website, and I adapted my lesson plan to work in a 20 page packet about college preparation, which many of my students said was one of the most useful things we had done all year!
– I needed help teaching my students how to use the databases we have access to, thanks to the public library. I played around with it myself, but then I realized that our librarian/media specialist would be a much better resource for helping me and my students out. She was able to do a presentation for all of my classes about how to use the online-databaess for research, and in the process I learned enough to help students quite a bit more with their research than I would have otherwise.
I’m sure these uses of resources are not earth-shattering to most teachers, but my use of these resources in my unit development and planning really represent some of my growth as an educator. I have come to realize that I don’t have to have all the answers, and that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help or tools from others. I think that sometimes teachers are expected (by themselves or others) to live on their own little island of a classroom and solve all their problems on their own. This unit reminded me of all the fantastic people and resources I have right at my fingertips, and I was super excited to utilize them in my teaching!
This week I got back on track with making a large dish that can be eaten cold throughout the week as my lunch. I’ve had a hankering for macaroni salad with mayo-based dressing, and since I’m now 7 and 1/2 months pregnant, I figure bring on the mayo! So, I made a pasta salad that used some white beans from a previous dinner (which also added protein) and used a slightly modified version of the mayo-dressing from Veganomicon. It has been a great lunch, especially when paired with tortilla chips and my daily apple!
Marie’s Pasta and Bean Salad
8 oz penne pasta (or macaroni – I just had penne on hand)
2 cups of white beans
3 carrots, peeled, washed and grated
1/2 cup edamame beans (not the pods!)
3/4 cup vegan mayo (I used Earth Balance – it was on sale this week!)
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
several pinches of freshly ground pepper
1) Start water boiling for pasta. Then, whisk the dressing ingredients together until they are all fully incorporated.
2) Mix all the veggies and beans together in large bowl.
3) Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is done, drain it and run cold water over it for a minute or two so that it is cool enough to handle
4) Mix the pasta in with the veggies and beans, and the mix in the dressing to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or for longer.