How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.I have big plans every summer. And every summer, I waste A LOT of time. I'm worn out from the school year--don't I deserve to relax a little?

Well, yes, but I don't need to sit around all day in my pajamas, reading novels, and drinking copious amounts of caffeine while my son plays video games. This is such an easy trap for me to fall into. I am by nature very, very lazy, and almost as good at justifying my actions as the most typical of teenagers.

When I go to any bookstore or peruse the web, I find all kinds of summer bridge activities for the elementary set. But what about the teachers? What about the secondary students? We forget over the summer. We get lazy, too.

This is the first in my Secondary Summer Bridge Activity Series AND a part of a blog hop by the Tools for Teaching Teens group. Be sure to check out all of the great secondary summer advice.

So here is my summer bridge activity, perfect for any teacher and any student, but especially geared toward the secondary set:

Act Like a Tourist in Your Own Town

This is my summer plan for my family. We will visit the places only tourists go--museums, historic sites, theaters, town squares, cemeteries, local restaurants--If a tourist would think to go there, we will, too.

I can't think of how many times I've asked a person from Chicago, "Have you been to the Steppenwolf Theatre?" Or a person from Manhattan, "How 'bout the Cloisters?" Or someone from Oahu, "The Pearl Harbor Memorial?" The answer is almost always, "No."

Well, I'm from Atlanta, Georgia (born at Piedmont Hospital downtown, raised just north of the city, now living just south of it). And guess what? There are so many places I've never visited. Great restaurants, theaters, museums--of course. But battles of the Civil War took place here, Sherman burned the place, and like just about any other city in the world, a lot of colorful characters have lived here.

My goal is to play tourist once a week this summer. I will blog about it as my assignment, and my son will keep a journal reflecting on each place we visit.

We kicked off our "tourists in our own town," summer bridge activity by visiting (and taking a guided tour of) Oakland Cemetery, established 1850, in the Grant Park district of Atlanta. 

We arrived at Oakland at noon, picked up our tickets, and headed across the street to Six Feet Under, a charming Southern-style seafood pub that overlooks the cemetery. They also offer a nice discount with your tour receipt. 
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.

How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Nice discount at Six Feet Under!

















How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.Here's my family about to go on the tour, and me wishing I had remembered the sunblock. My Irish complexion is now painfully red.


                       Blue (and hot) Skies Over ATL
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.







How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Here's Martha's Tombstone
Atlanta was first called Terminus (it was a train stop) before being renamed Marthasville after the Governor's daughter. It was finally renamed "Atlanta" because Marthasville was just too cumbersome for the railroaders to write.

One of the best things I learned during the tour was the rich symbolism evident on the memorials. The statue below is of a mother and daughter. The Neal family had lost six children. They had two daughters left--a 14 year old and a 22 year old. They thought they were out of the danger zone (many young children died during the Victorian era [1/3 of the graves in Oakland are for young children]) when their 22 year old took sick and died. This was too much for the mother to take, so she died, too. The father had this statue constructed to commemorate the pair.
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
The two are barefoot to demonstrate their intimacy. The cross is Celtic to represent their religious faith and their Irish heritage. The mother has an open book in her lap to symbolize a lifetime of wisdom, and the daughter's book is closed to represent a life cut short.
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.Death of the young haunts the entire cemetery. Here is a common sight in Victorian cemeteries--cradle graves.
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
And here are two of the Inman (a prominent Atlanta family) Children's markers.

How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.Both faces are death masks (molds taken of the children's faces upon their deaths), so the faces look like the actual children. The 2 year old in the first picture is represented as an angel ascending to heaven, and the five year old in the second picture is seated next to a tree trunk--again, representing a life cut short.

The next picture is the tombstone of a mother and her two children. Her husband was away fighting in the civil war. She and her two children were staying in Atlanta. Sherman was invading. He would have his men point the cannons at places in the city and fire. Move them, and fire again. So they didn't fire in the same place twice. Therefore, the safest place to hide during an assault was in one of the holes created by a cannon ball.

That's where this mother and her children were hiding when her infant son succumbed to an illness. She walked through Atlanta during the battle, heading for Oakland Cemetery to bury her son. A slave returning to the city to lock up his master's house encountered her and urged her to go back. When she refused, he drove her in his wagon to the cemetery and dug this grave for her baby.
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.

Which brings us to the darker side of the cemetery (yes, arguably darker than Victorian childhood death). Atlanta's segregated past....

How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
The Black Section of the Cemetery (Thousands of Bodies...Few Tombstones)
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
The Jewish Section. The graves are so close because they had to be buried the next day after death by sundown. They are buried right next to each other, chronologically, rather than in family plots.
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Drains
There is a rich history in this old city that I take for granted that I am out to discover this summer. Look at items of architecture in the cemetery alone.

How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Carriage Steps!
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Hitch your carriage here!
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Memorial Obelisk 
  Or the history of the civil war.
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Monument for the Unknown Soldier
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Union Marker (There are 15!)
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Confederate Marker
 And, finally, the future of the city. I believe it's one of hope. I loved that my son got to see this final sight--the grave of Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor of the city. His marker is facing diagonally--toward the skyline of the city that he loved so much.
How do you spend your summers? Many teachers can fall into the trap of being lazy and soaking up some well-deserved downtime. However, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the Secondary Summer, where you can be a hometown tourist, for example. Click through to read about how I'm spending my summer and my first hometown tourist adventure.
Maynard Jackson's Tombstone Faces Downtown Atlanta.
 Here's the activity that I'm making my son do, BWAAHAAHAA!!!! I'm printing the pages for each tourist attraction we visit and placing them in a binder. By the end of the summer, he will have a journal of our field trips--and I'll share it here.

Secondary Summer Bridge Activity
Download FREE Here
Have you ever played tourist in your own town? Or will you this summer? Be sure to leave a comment below to let me know where you have or will visit!

And be sure to hop on over to Brigid, The Math Giraffe's Blog, to check out her summer plans!
Check it out HERE!




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Memorial Day is a time of reflection on the military personnel who have lost their lives in service to our country. War is a terrible thing that causes a great deal of destruction and grief, but veterans are regular people who deserve to be honored for their commitment to serving our country so that we all have the freedoms we enjoy. Read my brief stories that I learned in interviewing WWII and Vietnam veterans and how my school connects our students with veterans so they can learn more.My great-great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War, for a cause that I'm not particularly proud of. My great-great Uncle Fred fought in WWI. That one was a game changer, and apparently, he was never the same after. One of my grandfathers fought in WWII, and the other, "4 F on account of his ear" (like George Bailey), worked along side my grandmother at Lockheed Martin (then Bell Bomber) building planes.

My father lost many of his classmates in Vietnam and was getting ready to go himself when Nixon pulled us out. My father-in-law served in Vietnam. It's shameful how the Vets were treated upon returning home.

And today is Memorial Day--a time to reflect and be grateful for the service of our veterans. It is not a day to glorify war, though--a great evil in our world.

And I am thankful--for family members past and present who have served, for students (babies, really) who enter the service right out of high school, unaware of the full enormity of their decision, but making it just the same.

They say that every time an old person dies, a library burns. That's true. I remember the first time one of my former students was killed in action in Afghanistan. All I could think was how sad it was that he had barely even begun to construct his own library. There's a kind of tragedy in the death of a young person that is deeply sad because the destruction of potential is somehow worse than the loss of what was already built.

Either way, there's something in me that desperately wants to know their stories--from the Afghan vet who is younger than I am and describes the landscape of that country (that he considers beautiful, and hopes to visit again in less tumultuous times) to the WWII vet who guided freedom fighters over the Pyrenees and into Spain during the Nazi occupation of France (who would really rather tell me about his great grandchildren).

Memorial Day is a time of reflection on the military personnel who have lost their lives in service to our country. War is a terrible thing that causes a great deal of destruction and grief, but veterans are regular people who deserve to be honored for their commitment to serving our country so that we all have the freedoms we enjoy. Read my brief stories that I learned in interviewing WWII and Vietnam veterans and how my school connects our students with veterans so they can learn more.I am fortunate to work at a school that collaborates with our local veterans.Thanks to my department head, Steve Quesinberry, each semester, we have a Student-Vet-Connect for our students and local veterans. The veterans set up booths at the armory across from our school, and we take our students across the street to talk to the vets. Even my most disengaged students get into this.
Memorial Day is a time of reflection on the military personnel who have lost their lives in service to our country. War is a terrible thing that causes a great deal of destruction and grief, but veterans are regular people who deserve to be honored for their commitment to serving our country so that we all have the freedoms we enjoy. Read my brief stories that I learned in interviewing WWII and Vietnam veterans and how my school connects our students with veterans so they can learn more.

This year, I walked around frantically talking to the WWII vets. Their numbers are rapidly diminishing. I had talked to them many times before, but this time I wanted something else. I didn't want their war stories--I wanted the personal side. They were glad to talk.

I learned from one man that he was engaged to his high school sweetheart before he shipped off to the Pacific. He thought he would only be gone for a year and gave her his class ring as a keepsake. He was gone for three years, met his wife in the interim, and thought he would never see that ring again. In 1995, he moved back to his hometown. One day, out of the blue, he received a call from his former sweetheart. She asked him if he would like his ring back. He said he would, and she returned it.

He smiled, recalling how jealous that made his late wife.

Others recalled children being born while they were deployed. One Vietnam Vet (I didn't only interview WWII vets) flew a helicopter with his commanding officer to meet a recent arrival in a far-away town who had brought a picture of his new daughter. His "new" daughter is one of my current colleagues.
Memorial Day is a time of reflection on the military personnel who have lost their lives in service to our country. War is a terrible thing that causes a great deal of destruction and grief, but veterans are regular people who deserve to be honored for their commitment to serving our country so that we all have the freedoms we enjoy. Read my brief stories that I learned in interviewing WWII and Vietnam veterans and how my school connects our students with veterans so they can learn more.

One lady looked sad as she told me about leaving her young daughter to go to the Persian Gulf, but her face brightened as she described her newest grandchild.

Her grandchild, and all of us, owe them thanks. Not because they are heroes, not because war is noble, but for the opposite reasons. We owe them thanks because they are regular people who have endured the horrors of war so that we, they, and their and our progeny can continue to enjoy the freedoms that this nation affords us all.

What are your contemplations on this Memorial Day? Leave a comment below to let me know!
On this, the very last week of school before summer vacation, there's one thing you need to keep in mind: Just know you're not alone. Every teacher deals with squirrely students who are done with school and ready for summer. I'm giving three tips for how I remind myself I'm not alone, so click through to read them inside.This is officially the last Monday of the 2014-2015 school year for me. Four more days, a week of post planning, and then summer break--glorious summer break.

But what do you do with that last week? The students have checked out, and the administration has sent a "friendly reminder" warning us away from movies.

Sure, if you're high school like me, exam days are Thursday and Friday, but the kids are all tested out (thank you, standardized tests).

Seriously, what do you do? I'd really like to know. If you've been following my Spring Survival Tips, then you know what I've been doing for the past eight weeks (if you haven't, check out #s 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2).

But this last week has got me stumped. I can see it in the very depths of even my best students' eyes. "We're done," they say.

Well, me, too. But the school year's not over--not yet.

So, I'll remind my students of that with a final lesson (coupled with review). We will trudge along until the bitter end. And when things get crazy, and I start to think that maybe I made the wrong choices with my life, I will remember my last and most important spring survival tip:

Just Know You're Not Alone

I always doubt myself, I'll admit it. I think it's part of being a teacher. I even wrote about it here. When I start doubting myself at the end of the year--and I always do--these three things keep me sane.

1. I will remember myself in high school. I will try to recall the anticipation of summer vacation and how little attention I paid to my teachers in the last week of school. I will try not to resent their lack of attention because it's only normal. My students are only kids.

2. I will frequently visit the box of letters from students that I have kept over the years. You know the ones (and if you don't yet, you will). Those letters that we get unexpectedly from students talking about how much they liked our class or about how much we helped them in some way--these really help here at the end.

3. I will talk to other teachers to know that I am not alone. They will tell me about what happened in their classes, and I may even feel better. :) Whatever my students are doing (or not doing) this week, I will find comfort in the knowledge that it's not just me. And if it is, I will avoid people that I know will tell me that. :)

How do you get through the final days until summer break? Leave a comment below to let me know.


Thanks to Jewel Pastor for the awesome fonts!
Are you ready for my second-to-last spring survival tip for teachers? Here it is: Don't teach; facilitate. Students are done at this point in the year, being so close to summertime. Don't fight the battle of trying to teach new content, even if it's a short 10-minute lecture. Instead, facilitate interactive activities that engage students. Read more in this post.
I'm (thankfully) almost through counting down to summer break with my Spring Survival Tips. If you're just finding this, be sure to go back and check out my other Spring Survival tips--9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3.

These last two weeks drag on forever and ever. And ever. And today, I did something that I knew waaaayyy better than to do--I delivered a lecture.

It was short (maybe 10 min.). There was an accompanying Prezi. There were pictures, film snippets, and very little text. It delivered interesting information. I told a fun story.

The students couldn't tell me a thing about it when it was over.

It was a COLOSSAL WASTE OF TIME.

So that brings me to Spring Survival Tip #2: Don't Teach--Facilitate.

The second part of my lesson was a task card review set that they did in pairs. And you know what? They did it. They were on task, and all I did was monitor and answer questions.

I was given my own lesson, and it has become much more pronounced to me over the past five years--the students just don't hang on to my stories like they used to--times have changed, like they do. I can either roll with the punches or go crazy.

I'll go ahead and roll, thanks.

Here's a reflective task card freebie for the end of the year. Use it in good sanity, and get feedback while you're at it.

End of the Year Task Card Reflection
Get it FREE HERE
Also, full class review games turn to chaos (for me, anyway) here at the end, so I try to do small group review games. Board games, card games, whatever works! Here's an example of one.

Parts of Speech Board Game
Get it HERE
What do you do to facilitate learning and preserve your sanity in the last couple of weeks? Leave a comment below to let me know!

Super Secondary Appreciates Teachers!

Super Secondary collaborators are eager to "thank you...thank you very much..." for ALL that you do to make the world a better place! So shake, rattle, and roll on over to these TpT stores on May 5th and 6th to get up to 28% off on fantastic resources! Don’t forget to use the promo code: ThankYou



The Classroom Sparrow
Room 213
Darlene Anne’s ELA Buffet
Danielle Knight (Study All Knight)
Michele Luck's Social Studies
Teaching FSL
Juggling ELA
The SuperHERO Teacher
James Whitaker's SophistThoughts
Created by MrHughes
Lessons With Coffee
Leah Cleary
Addie Williams
Linda Jennifer 
MissMathDork 
Kristin Lee 
Lindsay Perro
All Things Algebra
Mrs. Brosseau's Binder
Tracee Orman
4mulafun 
Teaching High School Math
Pamela Kranz
FisherReyna Education
Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy
Lovin Lit 
ELA Everyday
Teaching Math by Hart
The Creative Classroom
For the Love of Teaching Math 
Kesler Science 
Live Love Math 
To the Square Inch- Kate Bing Coners
A Space to Create
Science and Math with Mrs Lau 
Brain Waves Instruction 
Literary Sherri 
Created for Learning 
2 Peas and a Dog 
Making Meaning with Melissa


Looking for another spring survival tip? I've got #3 here for you! This tip is all about three methods for calming the chaos at the end of the year: humor, music, and keeping students busy with meaningful work. Read all of the details inside this blog post!
I've linked up with some great secondary teachers to discuss how we "calm the chaos" here at the end of the school year. Thanks to 2 Peas and a Dog for hosting!

The end of any school year (whether it's elementary, middle, or high school) can be characterized by one word--CHAOS.

The weather is warming, summer is calling, and the last thing our students care about is all that we have left to teach. So how do we calm the chaos?

There is no magic wand to wave over the lure of cell phones and warm weather. But there are a couple of things that you can do to keep students on task in the last few weeks. There are three words, in fact, that I try to remember: Humor, Music, Busy.

This is the trifecta of magic charms for me at the end of the year. So take a deep breath, pour a cup of chamomile, and discover how I calm the chaos.

1. Humor...They're annoying us. We are trying to introduce a lesson, and they are just not paying attention.

Don't talk over them, but do look for the humor in the situation. It's there. I promise. So take a moment, know you're not alone, and find it.

The other day, I gave my students a crossword puzzle to complete after they finished a test. I sat there and watched a student waste about 10 minutes surreptitiously googling an answer key on his phone ("Wonder what's so fascinating about your lap, son?"). I said nothing because he would not find one. I had created the puzzle myself without the help of the internet. In all the time he wasted trying to cheat, he could have completed the assignment. I just smiled and filed the experience in my "Jenious Journal" (you can read about that here).

2. Music...Have a classroom soundtrack. Play 90s' T.V. shows themes for activities that get them up and moving. Play Chopin, Mozart, Baroque, Enya, and Loreena Mckennit when they need to sit down, calm down, and work. It works for them, whether they like it or not, and it definitely works for me. Everything is better with music.

I'm going to confess something here that I'm not proud of. On particularly chaotic days, when they leave for lunch, I close my door, turn off my lights, and spend the entire 20 minutes sitting in my chair listening to smooth jazz with my eyes closed. I'm getting old. There, I've said it, and I feel better now.

3. Keep Them Busy...With meaningful work, that is. But structure the assignments. At this point in the year, pairing them off and spreading them out across the classroom to work is a great strategy for me. It keeps me in control and gives them the freedom to work collaboratively. And partners tend to actually hold each other accountable

They all finish at different times. But they cannot. have. spare. time. Not Ever. That is the death knell. That allows chaos to swing in. And it most definitely will if they have nothing else to do. So give them busy work that counts! Let them practice with their vocabulary. It will keep idle hands busy and provide meaningful review.

Here are great vocabulary activities that can go with any subject:

                          Vocabulary Activities for Any Subject
              This one offers activities and extra credit options. Get it HERE.



Vocabulary Task Cards for Introducing or Reviewing Vocabulary
This one has a variety of options: 24 task cards and supplemental handouts. Get it HERE.



How do you calm the chaos? Leave a message below, and let me know! And be sure to check out the links below to find other great tips and tricks for keeping the chaos at bay.


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