Fashion · Uncategorized

Dressing and Educating: Days 79-83


Day 79: December 12, 2016

I would be lying if I said I was happy to wake up early and go to school this morning. For over a week the weather men had been predicting a winter storm for Sunday night. I pulled out all the old wives’ tales and superstitions hoping for that first snow day. I woke up to a few rain puddles and a damp yard. No snow in sight.

In History today my students presented their Industrial Revolution projects. This was a research based project where students selected their mode of communication. Some wrote novels, some made posters, and others created Google Slides presentations. Here is an artistic interpretation of life in the tenements and work in the factories.


I wore a cowl neck sling dress, black Lula Roe leggings, and Sperry boots this Monday morning.



Day 80: December 13, 2016

Today marked the beginning of snow season. It was the first snow storm this winter in Ohio. I arrived at school just before 7am to clear roads, but the snow started a few hours later and fell relentlessly through school hours and wasn’t expected to cease until 9pm.

As if the snow levels weren’t enough of a distraction the annual surprise lockdown took place today. Every year law enforcement officers from the county show up unannounced and conduct a thorough search of the campus. During this search they look for drugs and narcotics. Classrooms are held under a level 1 lockdown during this event which means students are not permitted out of the classroom and so I was held up with the same group of students for almost two hours.

I was wearing a top from Lula Roe, navy slacks from Old Navy and my Sperry boots which have become my best friend this winter.



Day 81: December 14, 2016

As a result of the snowfall last night we had a 2 hour delay at my school today.

Most classes were shortened and the kids were all rambunctious as they were armed with some extra sleep. It was nice to get the day started under sunlight, but I was really pulling for a snow day.

In my short classes we worked on reading and finishing up homework.

Today I wore olive jeggings, a black tunic sweater from The Limited, a scarf from Charming Charlies, and my Sperry boots.



Day 82: December 15, 2016

For the second day in a row we experienced a two hour delay at my school. Wind chills were below zero and so my district decided to give us all a little extra time to make it in to school. (Or to snuggle in the warmth of our beds as I did.)

On delay days, all but one of my classes is less than 25 minutes long. I had enough time to read one chapter of Not a Drop to Drink with my English classes and to go over a homework assignment with my Honors History class.

I wore my skinny black pants from the Limited, a polka dot blouse from The Limited, and a maroon sweater from Maurices.



Day 83: December 16, 2016

We were back on a regular bell schedule despite the frigid, single-digit temperatures. In English, we finished up the seventh chapter of the book we are reading and I had each small group write six review questions for next week’s test. I will use the questions in a Review Basketball game Monday.

In History the students are working on rap battles between Karl Marx and Adam Smith. many of them recorded their raps today. I’m excited to hear the finished products on Monday!

Today I wore jeggings, a pinstriped top from Lula Roe and an oversized brown sweater from Kohls.

This week was wet and cold and I did my best to dress to keep myself warm in the classroom. Which of the looks was your favorite?


The Ameri Brit Mom

Fashion · Uncategorized

Dressing and Educating: Days 69-73


Day 69: November 28, 2016

Monday after a long Thanksgiving break is rough. Not only was I physically exhausted long before usual, but today was also a tragic day for my city. At just after 9:30am a man of Somali descent crashed his vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians on the campus of Ohio State University. He emerged from his vehicle armed with a knife and began to stab people around him. Luckily, within minutes a security guard responded and neutralized the suspect quickly.

Although the fatality numbers were limited to the suspect it was still a tragic day as many students and faculty members of the nearby college were overcome with fear as they went to work and/or school. As a city the reality of threats and radical behavior have become real and security has been increased as a result. It was a strange day and I spent much of my off-periods tuned in to local news and browsing social media to ensure that my friends were all safe. It was such a strange and emotional day.

I was wearing a pair of LulaRoe OS leggings, a navy dress, beige cardigan and boots.



Day 70: November 29, 2016

I came in ready to start some new content in my classes today. In English, I introduced the Young Adult novel that my classes will be reading for the next several weeks. Not a Drop to Drink was written by Mindy McGinnis and last school year she visited with our students who had just finished reading her book. Every year the students leave my introduction lesson excited for this post-apocalyptic novel.

In Honors World History, I introduced the Industrial Revolution unit with a discussion of primary sources about the Agricultural Revolution in England. We discussed the Enclosure Movement and how it led to urbanization and the dawn of the industrial age.

I was wearing a silver sweater from Kohls, black pants from The Limited and black TOMS.



Day 71: November 30, 2016

This morning the Guidance Department at my school took my English classes to the computer lab to complete a survey about their needs and goals. As a result, I had some unplanned free periods to catch up on grading, planning, and data crunching. I was beyond grateful for this time as I was feeling a little overwhelmed about everything I needed to do outside of the regular activities of the classroom. As a teacher these types of days are golden!

In History, we spent more time investigating sources about the Enclosure Movement. Students were asked to decide if it was a positive or negative era in British History using evidence from the provided sources. We held an informal Socratic seminar where each student had the opportunity to voice their opinion and respond to the others in the class.

I was wearing navy slacks from Old Navy, a mint green scarf, matching camisole, a silver sweater and my favorite Sperrys.



Day 72: December 1, 2016

I officially ended my tutoring group for Air Make up testing today. For the past month I’ve been staying several days a week for an extra hour and a half to tutor students who failed last year’s state tests. It’s been a very positive experience and has helped me as a teacher as I’ve taken the opportunity to examine the tests at a greater length.

In English today we continued reading Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. We discussed the mood in the beginning of the story. In Honors World History, students were assigned reading last night and so we addressed the reading through questions and class discussion.

Today I wore a new sweater/tunic from The Limited, a blanket scarf, khakis and black boots.



Day 73: December 2, 2016


In English, my students were introduced to a new writing assignment. Once a quarter I assign them a writing prompt on Vantage, an online writing tool that my school has purchased for the past three years. Students are able to submit writing on this site and receive feedback and space to improve that writing. This is a valuable tool when utilized alongside class material and instruction. I always set a deadline for the writing to be finished and take the highest score for each student as they are able to submit their writing numerous times during the allotted window. This time around they are writing an argument and were given three prompts to choose from.

In Honors World History, we started our Friday as we usually do by watching CNN Student News and discussing worldwide news stories. Then, we jumped into our curriculum and reviewed the content from the week. I also introduced a new project in that class. Students were given three options for an Industrial Revolution project. They could write a story, make a poster, or create a presentation.

Today I wore a printed tank from Stitch Fix #6 , a cardigan from Stitch Fix #3, jeans from Stitch Fix #8 , and ankle boots.

Which outfit was your favorite this week?


The Ameri Brit Mom


A History Teacher’s Top 4 Techniques

Recently, in a discussion with a teaching colleague, the question came up, “How do you make history class interesting?” To me, the history nerd, it seemed like a silly question. As a student I was interested in almost everything I did or learned in history class, however, as a teacher I am learning that not all students value history in the same way that I did.

In response to my colleague’s questions I have decided to compile a list of some of my favorite techniques in teaching history. I must say that one way I keep my class interesting is that I never use the same technique more than once in a week. I have a large array of class activities and I try to make sure that the students are engaged in classroom activity and discussion everyday. I am a ninth grade Honors World History teacher and engaging students can become quite a struggle with that age level. From my long list of teaching techniques here are my top four history techniques and activities:

  1. Political Cartoons: Political cartoons are one way to measure student understanding in an out-of-the-box thinking activity. I present the cartoon at the beginning of the class period for bell-work. The cartoon is projected on the Smartboard and students have to explain what they see and the historical significance in one paragraph. This paragraph has to include answers to Who? What? When? Where? Why? as they apply to the cartoon. I also like to use cartoons to connect ideas. I use a cartoon that touches on some of the ideas from the previous class period, but which also presents a bigger picture that causes the students to draw some of their own conclusions.                               18th century --- A satirical criticism of the crushing burden imposed by the nobility and the clergy on the Tiers Etat (Third Estate), the third of the three orders of society in the Ancien Regime. --- Image by © The Gallery Collection/Corbis

2. History Notebooks: The first week of school I take one day to teach students how to organize their History Notebook for the year. Students purchase a 100 page spiral notebook. We number each page front and back. Then, we divide the notebook into sections and label them: Vocabulary, Notes, Reflections, Projects. We cut post-it notes in half to create tabs for each of the sections.

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In the Vocabulary section students list the terms and definitions from each section we cover in class. In the Notes section students take notes during lectures and readings. In the Reflections section students answer questions based on the information they have learned and apply those ideas to life or other ideas. In the Projects section students record topics for Current Event projects, draft essays, and complete some of the planning necessary throughout the year for various projects.

3. Jigsaw Learning: Whenever it becomes necessary to read a large portion of text or a chapter from a textbook what I like to do is section the reading off into smaller portions and assign each small group a portion. Each group is to take notes and become the experts on the content they read in order to present that information to the rest of the class.

We present that information in one of two ways. The first presentation method is having each group present their section to the entire class. The second presentation method is to assign new groups that contains one member from each of the originals so that every portion of the entire reading is represented in each group. Within their new groups, each member teaches the rest of the group about the information that they read in their assigned reading. This method may seem a little confusing, but it is a lifesaver and the students are far less likely to grumble if you shorten their assigned reading from a whole chapter to two to three paragraphs.

4. Visual Timelines: This teaching strategy can be used to either introduce a new unit or to review one that has been completed. In this method, I take ten important events from that unit and type them out and glue them onto colored paper. I ask for ten volunteers to hold up each of the events in the front of the classroom. Students have three minutes to try to sort the events in order on their own paper. Then, as a class we go over the events and ensure that everyone was able to put the events in order.

An example of a unit where I have used this strategy is the French Revolution. After we studied the revolution students reviewed the unit by organizing the events into order.


I’m always looking for new and innovative strategies for teaching so if you would like to offer some new ideas feel free to do so in comments. I hope that these four ideas help to provide a glimpse into how I make history class interesting and defeat the monotony that can so easily creep into my lesson plans.


Honorable Debate

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It’s been some time since I’ve written about what is going on in Mrs. Sisley’s classroom. So in case you were wondering the year is off to a great start and I’m excited to share a little bit. Currently, I am teaching six classes. In the mornings I have three English 9 classes one of which is an Inclusion class. During the afternoons I teach three Honors World History classes. This is the first school year that an Honors History course has been offered since I’ve been working in my district and I’m thrilled to get the privilege of teaching this course.

The first few weeks have been spent getting their feet wet and providing opportunities for my students to discover my expectations. In English so far we’ve written one essay, read two short stories, and each student has now completed two of their Nine in 9th Independent Reading books. Next week we will be presenting book #2. (For more information on my Nine in 9th reading program check out my post Nine in 9th)

In history we have familiarized ourselves with GoogleDocs and the submission process through several assignments. They have completed the first of nine Current Event projects, written an article about the construction of the Palace of Versailles and taken their first test over the Age of Absolutism. I’ve been really pleased with my honors students and their drive to meet the high expectations that I have set for them. I’ve asked for quite a lot to be done in the first month of school, but for the most part they have risen to the challenge.

This week I am braving new territory and assigning my first ever debate in my Honors World History classes. We are currently learning about the Enlightenment and the impact that this time period and its thinkers have had on our world. I have chosen to center a debate around the ideas that we are learning in class. I’ve also researched many different debate methods and have chosen to use a Team Policy Debate format since this is their first formal debate.

The students will be assigned to a partner and position. Their goal will be to argue for or against a specific idea that came out of the Enlightenment. I have modified the time restraints for the Team Policy Debate for this first debate to last only twenty-four minutes (essentially halving the time allotted for each segment.) I’m a little nervous that debates could become chaotic, but sticking to a format should help with keeping things professional and moving at a quick pace. I’m also allowing the students to use pre-made note cards to direct their points in order to promote research and use of data to inform dialogue as opposed to feelings and thoughts of the students alone.

The purpose of this activity is to give the students an opportunity to perform research and put into the practice the principles that we are learning about in this unit. I have three classes of highly intelligent and opinionated people that make me eager to try this activity.

If you are a teacher and have used debates in your classroom I’d love to hear from you! What went well? What was a challenge? And any other advice you may have.

I love my job, my students, and my calling!


3 Quote Challenge: Churchill

Over the past several days I have had the privilege of being nominated to complete the 3 Quote Challenge. I was nominated by Autumn at Welcome to My World and Liv at The Inspirational Dreamer to post a quote a day for the next three days and write about that quote and what it means to me. As I am in England vacationing and visiting with my husband’s family I found it to be only fitting that I should focus my three quotes around a British theme. I have chosen my three quotes from three of my favorite famous British figures: Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, and Princess Diana. I look forward to sharing these quotes and some of my own thoughts with you over the next three days.

So I will begin today with a little wisdom from good ole Winston Churchill. He was a brilliant man. My students sometimes refer to him as my “boyfriend” because I teach World History (a great deal of which is British history) and I have several quotes and photos of Churchill up around my classroom. Today, while milling around Eastleigh, the town where my husband was born and raised in England, I came across this quote and decided it was fate and I had to write about it today.


This quote was given shortly after Churchill became Prime Minister in England in May 1940 and was the official call to arms against Germany. With this statement England found itself at war with Hitler’s Nazi Germany. This heroic statement meant that  England was joining the fight against fascism and Churchill was beginning to prove that he was a leader that would stand in defense of others in order to aid in the fight against dictatorship.

To me, this statement can be profound in its application to our lives. In our society it is so easy to become an individual bare of any community involvement. However, it is when we band together with others like us that we are able to best move forward. We should come to the aid of those in need or oppressed the way Churchill called England to do. In living life in a community of helping one another we can accomplish vastly more than mere individuals.

Today I’d like to leave you with a thought. I am no Churchill, but I’d like for you to think of a way that you might be able to come to the aid of someone else. How might you help those in need or those oppressed? I won’t call you to arms or battle, but I do call you to action. Think of a person or a group today and find a way to help them out. It could be as easy as visiting a lonely relative or as trivial as giving spare change to a beggar on the street. Whatever it may be that comes to mind I call you to kindness and generosity today.

As always thanks for reading and I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!