Teacher Prep: Making a Unit Plan

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

Since I'm finishing up school to be a teacher, I figured I would share some of my insights on what I've learned from my program thus far (after all, teachers learn from each other).

I do realize the school year just ended (or is ending for some districts). However, some teachers have to switch grade levels and have to start coming up with lessons and units for their new grade. New teachers also have to do this.

For one of my classes (Elementary Education Methods), I had to learn Backwards Design lesson planning and create a lesson plan. Now, I'd made lesson plans specific to language arts and reading groups before; but I had never done the Backwards Design model before.

For my class we turned in two lesson plans before working on our actual unit plan. Our unit had several requirements (like you had to have a technology lesson, cooperative lesson, and a lesson you found on the internet). Quite frankly, I found most of them on the internet, but I wasn't afraid to switch some things up.

I have the good fortunate to be getting my licensure in the state of Virginia, which means that I have the Standards of Learning (or SOLs) to follow.  Most (if not all) states have something similar.

Since I already knew I had a guideline, I picked out first grade citizenship as my focus for my unit. Citizenship is super important, especially for the younger grades as they're learning about society (gives them background knowledge they might now have) and it also teaches them about being nice to each other.

I took each standard, and put it into Google Sheets (I don't have Microsoft on my computer). I then had a column for each lesson (I had to have 10 lessons). Each time I completed an SOL, I put a check for the lesson plan.
(c) withsoutherngrace

This way, I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish in my lessons. I also thought about how I wanted to assess my students. Something I've noticed is there is way to many papers. I'm glad that students have stuff to take home to their families, but come on, no one needs that many papers. 

Therefore, I thought about ways I could ask questions to the students and do check lists instead. That way, I could write out the responses and be able to watch what they were doing instead of having 15 plus worksheets to grade throughout the unit. 

In Wiggins and McTighe's model of Backwards Design, after you figure out how you're going to assess, you have to figure out what the Big Idea/Understandings and Questions are (these are also known as Essential Understandings and Questions). Luckily, in the state of Virginia, it's essentially the SOLs, just reworded. This allows the students to have something to discuss. 

I then wrote out the lesson plan using the WhereTo format. I also typed out what materials were needed (worksheets, technology, pencils, markets, erasers, etc.). This way, when I pull up the lesson I know exactly what I need and can have it ready to go!

For some of the activities, I found them online (I found ideas on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers). However, some of them I had to tweak to the Virginia SOL specifications. I've even been thinking about putting them on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

How do y'all lesson/unit plan? How do you find your activities? Do you use Teachers Pay Teachers?

with southern grace,


7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Passion. The word that so many people are trying to find. I can't tell you how many times in college I was asked, "what's your passion?" or "what are you passionate about?". I get it now because that is what helps you figure out your potential career. However, what I'm passionate about now is much different than it was two years ago when I was fresh out of college.

When I was in my last semester, I thought about starting my own social media business. Then I realized I would have to do all the things I don't like: work all the time and live in a big city. Now, my hometown is a college town, thus about a quarter of the population isn't here four months out of the year.

Now, I can fully say my passion is in education. Both myself and future generations of children. Knowledge really is power.

After working a job that I lost my passion for, finding it again has been key to my success. I have maintained a 3.9 GPA in my program and have passed all of my tests so far on the first try (still waiting on the last one).

When I was thinking about my passion and how I found it, I also thought to myself you know what didn't prepare me for this? High School. I never took a career aptitude test, ever. The only time I took one was when I was already considering going back to school and I took one on the community college's website. Sure enough, teacher was the first suggestion.

I won't say my passion was easy to find. I did struggle and it took some time (and two bachelor's degrees, but who's counting?). However, I'm grateful for my story and I know that I am more passionate about teaching than anything else and I will continue to be thankful for my journey even when I have my own classroom.

What's your passion?

with southern grace,

Last Day of School Anxieties

7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Well, it came so fast (as it does every year), but tomorrow is the last day of school.

I've had children be "hurt" more than usual this week, seen more tears and fits, and overall general anxiety about the school year ending than I ever thought possible. I've also gotten more "I'm going to miss you" and hugs than I ever though possible. 

I work in two grades (first and second), and one of my first graders was telling me how he wanted to stay in first grade forever. Have his summers but every year go back to first grade every August. I looked at him and told him "that's awful silly". "But if we go to second grade we get Ms. Martin again!" shouted one student.

...except maybe not. I'm leaving behind my TA job to student teach this fall. While the main university in my hometown has already had their student teaching "match day" and know where they'll be (and most have already met with their mentor teacher), I have no idea where I'll be. I don't know what school, what grade, teacher, nothing. I might not even know something until late July. 

It's hard. Come tomorrow at 2:20, I'll be leaving behind a school that has literally raised me. My brother started there when I was around 2 1/2 turning 3. I went to school there. Most of my teachers are still there. It's hard to believe that this place has been around that long, but I'm super glad that it has. It's taught me how to be a good student and a great teacher. 

I haven't quite figured out how to tell them (my students) that I don't know what my plans are for the fall, and it's making it harder to tell them. I also know they're attached. Probably just as attached to me as I am to them at this point.

I'm hoping that I'll be put in a classroom at the school I currently work at. I'm checking my email religiously, hoping that I can find out something (literally anything). 

This was when I realized, I feel the same way my kids do. I have the same anxieties because I don't know what will happen come August. 

While some of my kids are excited for what the summer brings (camp, vacations, unlimited tablet playing time), others want the structure of school. 

I have two math methods classes to finish up this summer and one licensure test left before student teaching. Plus I have some other fun plans in the works. 

with southern grace,

Worth it...or Not?

7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

This is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart recently.

Not everything is worth it, others are worth more than their weight in gold.

I recently told an old friend about some stuff that was going on in my life. Her response was "wow that is a lot" and promptly stopped contacting me. Like, duh. That's why I didn't want to tell you, and quite frankly why I haven't told a lot of people.

But then, I remembered thinking back to how I felt in January and February of 2016. I had already started taking classes for my teaching licensure through the community college and was working full time. And by full time, I mean literally working all the time. I had maybe two days off a week (sometimes that was pushing it) and often worked long stretches (like 7 days without a day off). Also, I wasn't being treated that great at my place of employment. As many of you know I already knew I needed a change, so I took a leap of faith and applied for a job that could have only lasted from start day through the first week/week and a half in June. Luckily, that job continued for me through the next school year (my last day is Friday, and I'm  already super sad about it). I also have another job that has fulfilled my time during the summer and during school breaks (and makes it so I work 40+ hours during the school year most weeks).

I have friends like my college roommate and my best friend who are willing to talk to me about things and lend me a shoulder (or a cute puppy or kitten) when I need it.

I've also been looking at my spending habits. Especially since in August I won't have a paying job for most of the time, since I'm only going to be able to work a few weekends a month (instead I get to pay to work, yay student teaching). Even though, this means that I'm at the end of my teaching licensure path, I know that I will have to make my money stretch further than I'm used to.

Obviously I've done some soul searching recently. It became important to me to look at what I really need (and what I don't).

How do I know if it's worth the leap of faith?

Well, if I think it will benefit me in some way shape or form. I was willing to take the job in education because I thought it would help me really recognize it as a goal (and the experience doesn't hurt either). On the same token, I haven't bought a new computer yet because mine is still functioning and meeting all my needs (minus the fact that Microsoft Office doesn't work on it, but I've managed without it).

If it doesn't hurt anyone, its okay. This includes emotionally. I'm not so much of a go-getter that I will do anything to reach my goals, they have to be pretty reasonable actually. I do try to make it so that everyone (within reason) is taken care of. I would never buy a house that I knew would take me forever to pay off or that I wouldn't be able to live comfortably. I would make sure my family is taken care of. Why would I go on some ravish vacation if it meant something else was neglected?

However, I've also realized it isn't worth it if I'm emotionally drained all the time. I'm an important human, too. I (and everyone else) deserves to be listened to. We all deserve just as much emotional attention as everyone else. Believe me, I've been there. It goes along with if someone is always asking for your advice and then doesn't follow it and complains the entire time. When the situation is over they go "oh I should have listened"...why did you ask for my advice in the first place? Sometimes, that relationship needs to be ended unless there is a conversation about the changes that need to happen. A friendship or relationship or any sort is a two way street, it does take two to tango after all.

Moral of the story, the pros and cons of the situation need to be weighed before the metaphorical cutting of the cord or the jumping blindly into the abyss.

This doesn't mean that it isn't a mistake to cut the cord or jump blindly into the abyss. It also doesn't mean the relationships can't be fixed. Sometimes, it takes some soul searching and you have to be willing to be wrong.

with southern grace,

Working in Retail

8:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Is working in retail worthless?

I'll be the first to say, that sometimes it feels that way. We often get paid too little, and often aren't given the respect we deserve (from both customers and our employers).

It's often easy to find a job in retail (they're one of the most frequently hiring businesses around). However, it is a lot harder to know if you'll keep your job. Often times, I've found that management is not open about your performance. Plus, some people aren't afraid to cut you from the schedule without any explanation (often it is simply because they don't like you).

While there are definitely childish and tasteless tactics being used, you can also have your bff or your next great recommendation as your manager. This has really only happened to me three times, with about 6 different managers, in the three stores I have worked for.

Depending on the type of store you're working for you're voice might not be heard. I found it much harder to work in a chain retail store compared to boutique retail. I will say that often times it depends on the owners in boutique retail in how much they listen. Not that anyone asked my opinion, but if I think it is wise to take advice and suggestions from the people who work on the sales floor every day.

I will say that if you don't have a servant's heart, working in retail will be very difficult. You're goal as a sales associate or a manger is to make sure the customer is pleased. This can sometimes be hard to do. Customers can be hard to get along with and sometimes even impossible to get along with. However, they can also be your best friend. But you definitely have to be okay with getting the customer what they need and sometimes talking to a brick wall.

Each company has a different structure (and if you move between stores, you might even find a different structure between stores). I have always found it hard to understand how a company functions when one store does something one way but others do it a different way.

It is also entirely too easy to spend your entire pay check at your place of work. Retail stores give their employees a discount (most don't disclose it to the public; however, some retailers are very open about it). Some even allow a certain number of employee "gift" purchases. I think setting a budget (which is something I need to work on) is important.

I will say that working in retail bettered my people skills (I'm still awkward, but  I make it work for me). It helped me become better at technology and explore a field I considered going into post college (I currently run the social media for my location of the store I work for). Working in retail helped me create new friendships. One of my friends I reconnected with (we had gone to preschool together and were admitted to the same college), but we really became friends after working together for almost a year in retail. It helped me create new friendships and encourage people to look at CNU and ADPi. It really is shocking how much colleges and greek life come up in conversations (then again, I live in a college town so maybe I shouldn't be so shocked). Working in retail taught me to value my goals and to make sure I am always working towards them. I think it is hard for some people to understand and I know a lot of retailers refuse to talk about goals outside of their store (because obviously their store is the only place you can work). I think it is important for people to understand their goals are valued and that they're supported (but again, no one asked me).

Working in retail taught me that I will definitely stick to my style. I can't say I've really ever branched out from it. Working in retail taught me that it is okay to believe what you do, and not everyone is going to value you at the rate you should be valued (whether monetarily or as a human being). It taught me to stand up for myself and that change can be for the best (I wouldn't almost be a teacher if I hadn't quit my last retail job). I value people more, and I am far more patient when shopping (that doesn't mean I won't get upset if the employees are simply not doing their job). I value my free time, and the nights and weekends I do get to spend at home.

I will never say working retail was a bad thing. It was never demoralizing or horrible (minus a few time periods where management was truly awful). Working in retail gave me many life lessons, and at the end of the day that means I don't have many regrets.

with southern grace,

Plan Perfectly with The Day Designer

8:00 AM

Hi y'all,

I absolutely love this planner. I cannot say enough good things about it.

I was a tried and true Lilly Pulitzer planner user before I found the one. Honestly, I think if I had known about the Day Designer in college, it would have been a game changer for me. In fact, I've used it throughout all of my teacher licensure program and I can say I feel much more organized and on top of things.

I felt like my Lilly Pulitzer planners left a lot to be desired as I became older and outgrew the whimsicalness of the planners (not that I don't love Lilly Pulitzer, just feel like I needed a more adult look for my planner).

I even took it with me last summer to visit my college roommate and brought it with me. She liked it, so I bought it for her as a gift, and she had already bought it for herself. Needless to say, I jumped on getting us both one again this year.

Last year, I had found out about the Day Designer right before the new ones by Blue Sky came out at Target. I hopped on it y'all.

Little did I know, I wasn't planning effectively. But, that all changed.

This was by far a great decision. I did buy an identical one for my roommate as well.

I have actually found the daily planning super helpful because my life changes daily.

This is what a monthly layout looks like in this planner:

And the daily layout:

This year, I bought one from a shop when the regular yearly planner went on sale.
I bought the Blue Tile print for myself and the Palms one for my college roommate.

The monthly layout is a little different in this one, and it did take some getting used to.

And the daily looks like this:

I think I like having lines in my planner on the monthly (like in the Blue Sky one). I also think I like having 30 minute blocks instead of just hourly.

I do like the fact there is the daily scheduler, and I cannot wait to use it as a teacher (again I think the 30 minute blocks would benefit me more as a teacher) versus as a student.

I definitely think I'll be sticking with the Day Designer though.

Have y'all tried the Day Designer? Other planners? What's your favorite?

with southern grace,

Let's Go Back to Real Relationships

8:00 AM

Hi y’all,

Tinder. Bumble. Farmer’s Only. You’ve seen the ads, you’ve heard your friends talk about them. You’ve probably even used them. 

So this might sound ridiculous, but what happened to the old fashioned days of dating?

I cannot tell you the amount of people who will tell me the only way to get a date is to either use an app or go to a bar and get drunk. 

Hello, seriously? Is there no other way to meet people?

I do know people who have successful relationships (and most likely would not have met otherwise) from either websites or Tinder. 

What really kills me more than anything else is “friends” won’t set up their male friends with a female friend. When I asked people why they wouldn’t do this, they said “I don’t want anyone to have to put up with that”. Why are you friends with them then? 

While I don’t think the most important thing in life is having a significant other (sign me up to be a puppy mom, please). I do think it is important to have good quality friendships and people who care about you. 

Now, I was never the popular kid in school (and I really wouldn’t change that fact). I learned how to be a friend with myself and I truly value the friendships I do have. However, finding a significant other has been tough. I have been able to put myself first, though. I have increased by education, decided what I actually wanted to do with my life, and am more financially stable than I thought I would be. I won’t apologize for who I am. I will most certainly continue to wear the same style of clothes, being willing to get my hands dirty at any time, and work toward my own personal goals. 

I’ve also noticed that when my friends and other people I know go on dates, their dates don’t treat them the old fashioned way. Doors aren’t held open. Heck, some don’t even come to the door to get their date. Instead, the cool thing to do is “hide” your relationship.

Bottom of the line: It’s not okay for you to feel awful about yourself because your date doesn’t treat you the right way. Instead, stand up for yourself. Believe me, this relationship won’t be your last.

with southern grace,

Packing for the Long Weekend

8:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Memorial Day Weekend is almost here, and I bet you that unlike me, you probably are going on an extended trip (I have to work on Saturday morning). 

While I’m sad that I have to cut my plans short, I thought I would give a few quick tips for packing for your long.

Packing for the Long Weekend

Pack Necessitates
Less technology is more
Duffle bag
Separate your jewelry


  1. Pack what you (realistically) need. I am for sure someone who over packs. I have found it super useful to lay out the outfits you plan on wearing. This way, you know exactly what you have and what else you need to pick out. This also means don’t pack a lot of makeup. Chances are you won’t need it.
  2. Bring sunscreen. This is something I almost always forget to bring, but should. Especially during big holiday weekends it can be hard to either find sunscreen or a hassle. 
  3. Don’t bring all your technology. Take a break and enjoy your weekend. You don’t need your laptop, iPad, phone, and iPod. Maybe, just you’re phone. But, don’t forget to put it down and remember your charger.
  4. Use a flexible suitcase. Instead of using one of those rolling hard suitcases all the time, use a duffle bag. This is a total game changer because you can put it in places in a car you can’t put a hard suitcases, and you can also pack a little bit more because it’s flexible.
  5. Pack jewelry in little bags. This sounds really silly, but if you’ve ever bought from Kendra Scott, you get a bag with each piece. Keep them! Use them to individually pack your jewelry pieces. It prevents tangling and keeps the jewelry cleaner.

with southern grace,

Summer Lovin'

8:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

While I don't anticipate making many posts like this one, I thought I would share some of the items I'm loving so far for summer. I do like doing these posts, but I typically end up making at least one purchase while I'm creating them (even with this one, I bought some stuff from J.Crew).

Linen Rayon Dolman Dress

with southern grace,

101 in 1001 Update

8:00 AM

Hi Y'all,
Since it's been a while since January when I started this list, I thought I would give it an update.

Start: January 1, 2017
End: September 29, 2019
  1. 1. Finish my teaching program
  2. 2. Student Teach
  3. 3. Get my teaching licensure
  4. 4. Get a teaching job/contract
  5. 5. Pass my tests to become a teacher
  6. 6. Attend a professional conference
  7. 7. Start my master's degree
  8. 8. Learn CPR 5.5.17
  9. 9. Set up a virtual file for Word Study
  10. 10. Copy some math handouts
  11. 11. Update my resume
  12. 12. Keep a journal during practicums  March-April 2017
  13. 13. Keep a journal during student teaching 
  14. 14. Become certified with Hootsuite
  1.  15. Save $5000
  2. 16. Get a puppy
  3. 17. Read 32 books (1 for each month)-total complete: 12
  4. 18. Take a trip
  5. 19. Attend my sorority's 5th year anniversary celebration
  6. 20. Unplug from technology for 24 hours
  7. 21. Workout every day for 30 days
  8. 22. Go back to London/UK
  9. 23. Move into my own apartment
  10. 24. Sell some of my old Lilly clothes/clothes I don't wear
  11. 25. Buy a new computer
  12. 26. Watch a full baseball game
  13. 27. Run a mile
  14. 28. Run 2 miles
  15. 29. Run a 5k (does not have to be a race)
  16. 30. Attend a polo match
  17. 31. Go apple picking
  18. 32. Go ice skating
  19. 33. Drink 70 oz. of water every day for a week 1.15.17
  20. 34. Buy nothing for 30 days Feb. 2017
  21. 35. Go on a hike
  22. 36. Blog 5 days a week for a month
  23. 37. Visit Charleston, SC
  24. 38. Go to CNU's Homecoming
  25. 39. Celebrate my friend's Medical School graduation
  26. 40. Visit Chicago again
  27. 41. Take a trip alone
  28. 42. Clean out my technology- computer, iPad, phone, and iPod
  29. 43. Give to CNU
  30. 44. Give to Alpha Delta Pi
  31. 45. Frame my college diploma
  32. 46. Clean my room
  33. 47. Write a handwritten letter, that is not a thank you note
  34. 48. Unsubscribe from all unwanted emails
  35. 49. Get to inbox zero on all of my emails
  36. 50. Make my bed every day for a week 1. 29.17
  37. 51. Go one month without shopping Feb. 2017
  38. 52. Make dinner with a friend
  39. 53. Get Invisalign/teeth straightened
  40. 54. Learn to a shoot a gun
  41. 55. Take a trip with a friend
  42. 56. Work on my Spanish Started February 2017-use the app Duolingo.
  43. 57. Pray more
  44. 58. Take a day for myself
  45. 59. Clean out my closet
  46. 60. Go kayaking with a friend
  47. 61. Take 5 minutes a day for myself for a month
  48. 62. Visit a zoo
  49. 63. Visit a new museum
  50. 64. Clean my car myself
  51. 65. Clean my bathroom once a week for a month Jan. 2017
  52. 66. Celebrate best friend's graduation from college
  53. 67. Go camping
  54. 68. Hold a plank for 3 minutes
  55. 69. Clean out social media "friends" Jan. 2017
  56. 70. Take my coins to the bank
  57. 71. Buy myself flowers
  58. 72. Watch a documentary 5.11.17 {On the Farm: Life Inside Angola}
  59. 73. Go to a concert
  60. 74. Spend time in a park
  61. 75. Make my bed everyday for a month
  62. 76. Do a 30 day exercise challenge
  63. 77. Do PT exercises everyday for a month
  64. 78. Get a new doctor {scheduled appointment for June 2017}
  65. 79. Go to "Sunset Series"
  66. 80. Try paddle boarding
  67. 81. Have/go to a bon fire
  68. 82. Watch the sunrise with someone
  69. 83. Watch the sunset with someone
  70. 84. Have a day where I stay in bed all day
  71. 85. Walk 30,000 steps in a day
  72. 86. Plan outfits out for the next day the night before for a week
  73. 87. Cook someone dinner
  74. 88. Cook someone breakfast
  75. 89. Organize jewelry Jan. 2017
  76. 90. Binge watch a show I haven't watched before
  77. 91. Get my t-shirt quilt made of my sorority and college t-shirts
  78. 92. Reach out to a sorority sister
  79. 93. Have a rainy movie day with a friend
  80. 94. Go to a fair
  81. 95. Go to the beach
  82. 96. Visit Harry Potter Studio Tour in England
  83. 97. Have a picnic
  84. 98. Pick up for 5 minutes a day for a month
  85. 99. Go on a ghost tour
  86. 100. Post to Instagram every day for a month
  87. 101. Buy myself a nice piece of jewelry. 
*1 month= 30 days, 1 week= 7 days

Total Complete: 11/101 
To Go: 90