Woke up this morning feelin’ like getting busy.

This morning, I donned my sports bra and some water, then dragged my tired butt to the gym.  I realize that the days when you absolutely do not feel like keeping your commitments are the days they matter the most. And for this reason… I arrived at LA Fitness for the third time this week.  

Most of my workout today was strength training because I have done extensive cardio this week (since Sunday) and felt my body needed a break.  The cardio I normally do varies based upon my needs for the day.  Usually, it alternates between time on the treadmill (interval training), running outside with my dog, the row machine, elliptical and the dreaded stairmaster.  I try to do these activities for a time period of 30 or more minutes.  Preferably more because there is an increased benefit in terms of burning fat after thirty minutes.  

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Today, my workout was arms, back, shoulder and abdominals.  I was focusing on my triceps and biceps for my arms. I did tricep dips, use rope training and free wrights to focus on these areas.  A machine I enjoyed using was the unilateral row machine which targeted my trapezius and lats as well as my biceps/triceps.  Most people have very weak backs or an abnormal distribution of strength in their back.  This contributes to postural deficiencies and back pain as well.  

To improve spinal support, I did wall push-ups in the corner of the room where two walls meet.  This is an exercise which can be done at home and it doesn’t take much to feel the burn!  To do this, you find a corner of the room, place one hand on each wall level with your chest. Your feet should be at a comfortable enough distance from the wall so that you can fall into the wall without hitting your face.  Once you are in position, you do a push-up into the wall. Another exercise you can do is to make snow angels on the wall.  You stand against the wall with your arms at right angles, elbows touching the wall.  Then, keeping that wall-elbow contact, you bring your hands together above your head.  

I finished my strength training with various abdominal exercises.  I have a pretty strong core and can do a three minute plank, but my lower abdominals need some additional support.  My reverse crunches and yoga class have shown me that my tolerance is lower for this area. 

In addition to my gym visit today, I also ate very healthy! Salmon for breakfast, almonds, a breakfast shake for dinner, two chicken nuggets and one piece of chex mix.  I normally struggle with making good food choices because I have a hard time resisting my favorite foods.  What has helped me is increasing my water intake.  I have noticed my snack cravings are usually thirst in disguise.

So here it is.  Me holding myself accountable with your help.  ABS by January 31st…here I come! 

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This year has been full of epiphanies; some of these realizations have been hard  to acknowledge.  Even though I know the truth, the appropriate action to the mental folly I feel seems to escape me.  Tonight is the night to brush myself off and to wipe the sweat off my brow.  The huffing and puffing of 2013 has not succeeded in blowing my house down, but it has allowed me to expand to incorporate another story.  So, as I say adieu  to 2013, I want to share some of these moments with you.  These awesome moments.

12.  I went to a Maroon 5 concert in Dallas. I never dreamed this would be possible, but it happened.  I spent months waking up to “Lucky Strike” as my six-alarm clock because it was the only thing that could get me to wiggle out from under the covers.  I have had their Hands All Over album take residence in my vehicle CD player for about a year now.  It was a GLORIOUS evening.

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11.  For the past year, I have been a diligent gym visitor.  I have lost 20 pounds through healthy eating and exercise.  By January 31st, I aspire to have abdominals.  I know everyone is getting engaged, married or having babies, but I’m just over here trying to get some abs and a booty!

10.  I figured out my life path.  I have been moseying around my future for some time now.  Hoping the answer would come to me in a moment of intuition.  In July, I quit my job as a teacher because I felt so hypocritical.  How could I tell my students to pursue their own dreams when I wasn’t being their role model?  Teaching is a career I am passionate about, but I did not feel the intrinsic satisfaction I expected to feel.  I gained weight and lost touch with my friends.  I poured myself into teaching and became a great teacher, but lost the zeal that I had once enjoyed in life.  When began researching, I knew that my future career would have some aspect of education, but would be based in the medical field.  By the time I resigned, I knew I wanted to be a Physical Therapist.  Every Friday, I intern at a clinic where I teach people about their bodies and help improve their symptoms.  Eventually, they once again become self-sufficient and are able to apply what they learn to other aspects of their life.  I can’t wait to attend a Physical Therapy school in Texas, but until then I aspire to get a job as a PT Tech!

9.  I began 24 Acts of kindness for my 24th birthday.  I am not completely finished with them, but these acts have given me the courage to try new things that will benefit those around me.  Some of  those acts of kindness were donating blood for the first time because I finally weighed enough to do it.  Others were more impromptu such as saving a turtle that was in the middle of the street and bringing a hospital patient I met their favorite Peach Cobbler Ice Cream. I have ten more to go!

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8.  This year, when it iced, I learned that you should never pour hot water on your car to remove the ice.  It causes a reaction which will crack your window! This was an epic fail, especially since I was a science teacher!

7. I became an avid user of the social media site Twitter.  It became even more exciting with Stephen Ridley (@ThisisRidley)  and Eoin Macken (@EoincMacken) from the show Merlin tweeted back at me!

6.  I played flag football and watched many of the Baylor games.  I even had the free time available to go to the homecoming game! During that visit, I had my first ever funnel cake.  Sic Em Bears! And did I mention…now we are BIG 12 FOOTBALL CHAMPS!!!!

5.  I saw a shooting star on October 7, 2013.

4.  I sang more.  I turned what I was doing into a song. I sang songs with different accents.  I just sang because I enjoyed it. My singing voice definitely improved and so did my car-dancing skills.  Now I no longer just make sound effects while driving…apparently, I put on a whole show.

3.  I began forgiving myself and others for things in the past so that we could all move towards a more positive future. I learned that the past should not be used as an excuse for a heavy heart.

2.  I ran my first 5K in March to benefit a student organization at Williams Preparatory.  It was hard and my knee injuries were acting up, but I made it through and am proud of myself for it!

1.  I passed Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 with an A during the summer sessions! This was a stepping stone and showed me that I had grown academically since my time at Baylor!

2014, I can’t wait for more amazing moments.  For now, I aspire to get into a PT school in Texas, work on making my flabs into abs and making all A’s.  2013, thanks for the moments of laughter and happiness.  I am thankful for the friendships, shennanigans, booze and boys.  Thanks for the problems, worries, anger and sadness.  At times life just seemed so puzzling and unsolveable. It feels great to be able to chuckle about how insignificant those tissue inspiring issues feel now.

I-I-I Work Out Part Deux

This weekend has been amazing.  Christmas is in the air; the music is heart-warming, the smells are brilliant and I FEEL fantastic.

I tried boxing for the first time and boy…was it difficult.  When you are boxing, you persist with strenuous cardio throughout your workout.  This is a great principle to apply to all of your workouts because if you are looking to burn fat, keeping your heart rate elevated will allow you to do that.

To determine your maximum heart rate, you take the number 220 and subtract your age. Your minimum heart rate is your “normal.”  You calculate this early in the morning before you start moving around.  While looking at the face of a clock, count your heart rate for 15 seconds.  When you are done, multiply that number by four.  Simple enough, right?

How do you use this to inform your workout? Well, Ventrelle wrote an amazing article which helps you determine this based on your overall goal…

(http://rushinperson.rush.edu/2011/02/23/determining-your-target-heart-rate/)

I-I-I Work Out

October 5th was a huge day for me.  I began my first workout at LA Fitness with my new trainer.  I decided that a trainer would be great for me because I needed to be held accountable.  I do that through two techniques.  One, I have a workout journal where I detail my activities as well as my measurements in mass, circumference and BMI.  The second is my trainer who pushes me a little harder each time and sometimes gives me homework.  Currently, I go at least three times a week, which has made a huge difference in my life.  This year, after graduation, I lost my health and gained an excessive amount of weight.  I had running injuries which I used as an excuse, as well as my lack of expertise in fitness programs.  January was when I resolved to make a change and I feel as though I have definitely progressed.  Knowing what to do is difficult and even now, sometimes I am confused in regards to what exercises I should focus on.  Here are some ideas for those of you who were also confused.  

I have learned that cardio, strength and a healthy lifestyle are the keys to feeling and looking great.  One supplemented with the other allows for fat to be transformed into muscle which results in a leaner, more tone, you.  Light weights and high reps are ideal for someone who is looking to tone. Heavy weights and low reps build mass. 

Be Healthy, Be Happy♥

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Be Healthy, Be Happy♥

See, it does exist. Haha.

This is part one.

This is part two.  *Use a water bottle if you don’t own any weights.Toned all over workout.

Phthalates and BPA

Teaching environmental systems has taught me a lot about the environment.  I am currently watching a documentary called Bag It and it has really opened my eyes in regards to what consumers really do not know.  Consumers put blind trust into the industries, government and the health industries who are not trustworthy.  Ignorance has been our bliss, but because we influence the government, our consumer awareness can make a change.

Phthalates are substances added to plastics to make them more malleable.  These substances are used in everything from cars to children’s toys.  BPA, bisphenol A, is also used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.  These are also found in most things from water bottles, the insides of food and baby bottle cans.  We consume these and absorb them, but what are the implications?

BPA’s and Phthalates (mostly found in PVC’s) cause early breast development, smaller anogenital distance (distance from the anus to the genitals), smaller penises, low sperm count, low sperm motility, uterine fibroids, diabetes, autism, undecended testicles, eczema, thyroid dysfunction, attention deficit disorder and so much more.  During pregnancy, these chemicals can cause female children to become more masculine and male children to become effeminate.

Before watching Bag It and Tapped, I had no idea that our world was so toxic.  Our culture emphasizes that simplicity in life is caused by convenience.  One use water bottles, plastic bags, and objects that cannot be recycled.  These objects are used in our everyday life, but a majority of the time we do not see these toxins on our ingredient labels.  Often times, they are deemed “fragrances” or denoted in a recycling symbol with the number 7.  But this number seven can also include the good plastics that do not consist of BPA.  The seven means other.   Any plastic tableware composed of polycarbonate is consists of BPA. This website (http://www.kidsmartliving.com/) identifies BPA free substances and there are other companies that also do the same.  This is one mechanism you can use to improve your overall health.  Sometimes, items are also labeled “BPA-Free” If the item is “a clear or tinted glass-like plastic product is labeled “Unbreakable, Dishwasher-safe” but is not marked “BPA-Free,” it’s probably polycarbonate.”

Recently, in 2009, because of disgruntled Americans, six phthalates were removed from consumer toys.  As a result, Wal-Mart removed baby products with BPA in them which caused companies to remove the harmful ingredients being produced.

I would suggest being conscientious in regards to what you purchase.  Be conscientious in regards to the products you microwave.  Do not microwave your plastics; instead, use glass, porcelain or stainless steel as much as possible.  If you can, do a “body burden” test which identifies the number of the hundreds of chemicals that you have in your body.  Simplify the way you live by buying what you need, and buying items with reduced packaging.  Also, buy products that are organically based, which means they are manufactured from plants and oils.   Try not to buy canned foods because the lining of the cans have BPA which can leach into your foods.  And watch Bag It.

The levels of these chemicals are reversible so a change is possible.  This information is being withheld, but it is not impossible to obtain.

PBL and Me

Hello Ladies and Gents! 

I am proud to unveil “My Approach to PBL.”

This is my first official Project Based Learning Unit.  I will be including my entry document  for you to read as well as my presentation and  the current version of  my launch.  I decided to go with a scenario based on Phineas and Ferb, a Disney children’s show.  The reason I chose this was because of everything the characters on the show stand for…human ingenuity.  I feel as though human ingenuity is the core of STEM education and through this MOVEMENT we can change the course of history.

Tomorrow, I present my idea to the UTD STEP in STEM staff and participants, as well as the representatives from TI Instruments.  I am nervous because I only have three minutes to  talk about something I have been working on for two weeks!  My closet is currently in shambles as it was raided earlier for potential attire for this presentation.  I feel like a student on the first day of school, trying to find something perfect.  Clothing that shows how professional I am, but also my creativity…

My 3 minute Presentation of my Project:  This is what is currently causing my tummy to fill with butterflies.  There are so many that it feels like my stomach is about to fall out of my butt…I feel like the boy who felt like his sister on his way to the bus stop.

My Current Launch: I am still working on the sound behind the part where Major Monogram is giving Perry the mission.  There is a scene where the sound vanishes…I just discovered how to fix that today.  Well, the launch is just an extended version of my presentation.  I am thinking about modifying my presentation to make it the launch instead, but we will see!  

A launch is an “Engage.”    This interests students and often leaves them on the edge of their seats.  They literally look like this…

My Entry Document: The entry document lists the expectations for the student.  It is not a rubric and does not break their project down through a point system.  Rather is gives criteria and expectations based on the essential questions you want answered.  You might be thinking…”What exactly are essential questions?” Essential questions are developed based off of state standards.  These questions are not easily answered because they require explanation and evidence.  By answering these questions, students are able to ultimately understand the project.  Example: How does scientific research of the past affect the future? Give evidence to support your claim.  While studying for the MCAT, I found that their website practice essay section has tons of interesting prompts that inspire critical thinking.  Occasionally I use the website for thought provoking “Do Now’s” for the beginning of class.   This is what my entry document will look like when I hand it to my students in August and tomorrow when I give them to our visitors.

I will upload more soon!

Deconstructing Standards and more for your very own Project Based Learning Unit!

In the past few months I have seen education from a perspective which I believe will lead to a better humanity.  Our secular system in the United States relies upon an antiquated form of teaching, but then doesn’t most of the world?  I wonder what education is like in different places.  I wish I could collaborate with  teachers and learn about the successes and challenges of their classrooms.  But here, in the United States, there is a movement.  This movement has been given the title of STEM.  Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.  

I think STEM is an amazing program because of the cross-disciplinary training students receive.  It caters holistically to the individual instead of isolated parts of a whole.  Students no longer go from “box to box” but education has become a spiral.  The goal is for students to make real world applications and use critical thinking to evaluate what they are being told.  The way to do this is through PBL.  Project Based Learning.  

Last semester, while I was teaching at Williams Preparatory, I received an email which explained a program which provided training in PBL.  I had heard of this while I proudly waved my “bear-claw” and yelled SIC ‘EM! But when I first tried to implement it, I thought it simply meant giving the students a project that would be self-directed. Needless to say, my guiding questions were mediocre at best and my students were very confused.  Through their lab reports, I discovered their understandings were shallow and the content escaped them.  Now that I have two days left in my training, I assert this shadowy understanding was the same one I had for PBL.  

I would like to say that teaching is natural for me.  I enjoy it, but as always, there is room for improvement.  PBL revolved around 21st century skills which make students better.  It prepared them for the work force by giving them projects which challenge them to solve a problem.  It usually incorporates creativity and engineering.  

As a teacher, the first thing you should do is deconstruct your standards.  Your state standards are your lifeline.  They outline exactly what the students will be assessed on.  These assessment topics often summarize a key area of understanding which pertain to the whole topic.  The UTD STEP in STEM training gave me a document specifically for this.  (Download Mine >>> TEK 3 Deconstructing standards worksheet)

Once you are finished with this portion of your planning, you think of a real world situation (preferably real world) that you could use to assess the standard.  Based on that you create a launch and an entry document to present it to your students.  I am currently updating my entry document and I am not quite ready to share my launch.  I did the launch in video format.  But I will share a highly entertaining launch that we watched today.  The launch serves as the engagement factor.  This is what makes the student interested in the unit.  It encourages curiosity and the entry document gives that curiosity a challenge that will create conceptual understanding instead of content regurgitation.  The entry document is a scenario and gives parameters for what students will have to do.  I know what you are thinking…you are smacking your hand to your head saying “Duh, a rubric…” but no.  It is not a rubric.  Rubrics are for teachers, students may receive guidelines or checklists, but when we give them a rubric we are encouraging lethargy!  I recently graduated college and when I started teaching my students would always ask me for a rubric or a review.  In college, I never received those! If I were lucky, I would get a checklist which I would use as a guiding tool for what I needed to learn. The school I teach at is a charter school that prepares students for college.  Because of this, I decided that I would use guidelines instead of rubrics for my students.  I was pleased when STEP in STEM encouraged this as well.  On that note, here is an entry document as an example.

I highly encourage teachers to try this and as I continue in my PBL I will post more evidence and documents to help guide you! Please comment with any questions or comments that you have. 

 

My Body is my Canvas

A few years ago, I was training for a half marathon.  I was ready to do my best and run a full 13.1 miles.  Unfortunately for me, I was over zealous (didn’t cross train or stretch as often as I should have).  That coupled with running shoes that did not fit the needs of my feet led me to postpone my goal.

It has been two years since.  Last week, with  the help of my best friend, I started to run again.  I ran 0.6 m to her home, then 0.6 m back to my own home.  I was scared, but I knew the peace and euphoria I felt in my element was more important than the possibility that I could aggravate my injuries.  I ran three times in 6 days.  On run three my Achilles tendon felt as if all of a sudden it had shrunk.  I was a little disappointed, but I was able to put that aside long enough to research possible treatments.  I came upon a few resources I would like to share with you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HejnlGCcIOA&feature=relmfu

http://www.active.com/page31704.aspx?PageMode=Print

http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml

I know that sometimes, it is easy to lose sight of your goals, but I know that tomorrow, when I try to run again after my four day rest, I will strive to make myself stronger.  I won’t give up on my passion to run. And I won’t forget to cross train and stretch either!

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Susceptible to Time

The air felt thick.  No matter how hard I tried to escape, I found myself sputtering and gasping for that cleansing breath of air.  I finally arrived home and even though my thoughts plagued me, I plastered on a smile and started to trudge towards the study where I was living.  I almost missed it.  The life that was starting to flutter out at the corner of the stairs.  A little bird sat in a crevice.  Its breathing had slowed and it aimed to take shelter from the wind.  Its head was tucked beneath its dark, black-brown wing.   It gave me a sense of purpose.  I wanted nothing more than to save it.

I went upstairs and got a shoe box.  I used latex gloves to help the bird into the box.  It was frightened, but it didn’t have the strength to resist.  I took it upstairs and made it a warm nest in which to spend the night.  After I secured it a space, I scoured the web for Bird Rescue Shelters.  I found one, but unfortunately, the bird passed in the night.

This glimmer of light reminded me to be compassionate.  It reminded me that there is a world outside my own and that my life touches many lives around me.  It showed me that we are all creatures bound together by an unseen force.  Fate. God. Science. An unseen force.

The one thing we have in common is that we are all susceptible to time.