The Resentment and Obligation of Valentines Day

It is official. The countdown to Valentines Day has begun in our house.

Resenting Valentines Day

My daughter Lilli gets so excited about Valentines Day, as it is a day in which she can shower her friends with the cutest little pre-made Valentines Day cards signed by her–attached with a cute little note that her 5-6 year old friends can’t read–BUT HEY, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Even five year olds know the value in feeling loved and how a small little card given with love could mean so much.

As she gets older, I know that her perspective on the holiday will change and evolve through time. What I want her to remember as she grows up is what this Hallmark holiday truly symbolizes: love.

In an article I read recently, “Valentine’s Day Isn’t About Love—It’s About Obligation” by Olga Khazan in The Atlantic, she states,

“Most people agree that Valentine’s Day is a good, if somewhat random, opportunity to shower loved ones with affection. At the same time, people also seem to resent the holiday’s obligatory nature.”

Valentine’s Day Isn’t About Love—It’s About Obligation, “Olga Khazan,” The Atlantic (February 14, 2014)

What makes people resent this holiday to the point where celebrating love becomes an obligation? Why resent something that represents what we need most in this world?

The resentment could be stemmed from insecurities of not having a significant other on Valentines Day–ultimately leading some to feel unloved and alone. Resentment could also come from unmet expectations– as many of us place such high expectations on this holiday. I think we ALL have a story in which we felt disappointed and felt unloved on Valentines Day. In fact, for the longest time I resented everything that came with February 14th as I, a hopeless romantic, felt every insecurity ringing in my ears. I would subconsciously ask myself why I was alone or why I didn’t have romantic plans to celebrate the day.

Recently, however, I have come to the realization that their is so much good that comes with celebrating love.

What I want my daughter and all who feel unloved or unwanted on this holiday is the importance of self love. There is beauty in confidence and power within the understanding that you do not need a significant other to celebrate what love can do for your life.

If you are one to call Valentines Day ‘Single Awareness Day‘, or one who simply feels alone and unloved, I encourage you to treat and love yourself this February 14th. Whether that means dressing up and taking yourself out to dinner or sitting on the couch (in your comfiest PJ’s) watching Netflix while eating your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream.

You are beautiful and wonderfully made!!! Let’s us love ourselves and love one another this Valentines Day!

The Gadabouter

It’s National Butterscotch Day!

January 20, 2020

Frosted Butterscotch Cookies

You are going to absolutely fall in LOVE with these cookies. If you are anything like me, you have a sweet tooth. These cookies are the cure! Even though I have been trying to be a little more cautious of what I eat lately, I do think we need to treat ourselves every once in a while.

The first time I had these cookies was over Christmas a couple years ago and I have been in love ever since. There is something about how they just melt in your mouth and are so light and fluffy. Once you ice these cookies, you are going to want to hide them from the rest of your family!

FYI, the frosting is the KEY to this recipe 🙂

Let me walk you through the process.

Recipe

Cookie Ingredients

  • (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter
  • (1 1/2 cup) Brown Sugar (will add the caramel flavor)
  • (1 tsp) Vanilla
  • (2 1/2 cup) Flour (all-purpose flour works great for this recipe)
  • (1 tsp) Baking Soda
  • (1/2 tsp) Baking Powder
  • (1/2 tsp) Salt
  • (1 cup) Sour Cream
  • 2 Eggs (adds moisture and richness in the cookies)

Frosting Ingredients

  • (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • (2 tsp) of Vanilla
  • (5 tablespoons) Milk
  • (2 1/2 cup) Powdered Sugar

The Cookie Process

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 25 Minutes

Servings: 24 Cookies

  1. Measure out the dry ingredients, set aside
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, mix again
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine
  5. Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes @ 365 degrees F, remove and allow to cool completely
  7. Make the brown butter and the frosting
  8. Frost the cookies and top with sprinkles if desired! Sugar crystals work best for this type of cookie!

Frosting Process

  1. Heat butter, stirring constantly, in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it browns and becomes very aromatic, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk confectioners’ sugar into butter until dissolved and remove saucepan from heat; stir in milk and vanilla extract.
  2. Beat butter mixture using an electric mixer until frosting is smooth; add more milk if frosting is too thick.

Frosting Tips

  • Although you may be tempted to use margarine, make sure to use the good stuff i.e real butter (that’s where you get your butterscotch flavor)! 
  • Use a light-colored pan because as the butter goes from yellow to golden, to a toasty brown you’ll be able to see the color change better.
  • The butter can go from perfect golden brown to burnt in an instant – keep an eye on it and don’t leave it unattended. You want the butter to be a perfect golden brown!
  • Using a stand mixer (wisk or wisk attachment), beat the vanilla and powdered sugar. Slowly add the brown butter. Beat until light and fluffy.

Cooking Utensils

I have fallen in love with these cooking utensils. First off, they are beautiful and simplistic in design. Second, they are inexpensive! I purchased the Brandless set over the summer and I am still in LOVE. They have held up well and they match my decor in my kitchen so well! Below, you will see pictures of what I use to bake–underneath each picture, you will find the link that will take you directly to the product! If you have used any of these products or purchase the in the future, leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Brandless
Brandless Silicone Spatula
Brandless Measuring Spoons
Brandless Half Sheet Pan
Brandless Parchment Paper
Kitchen Aid Mixer (on SALE!!)
Measuring Cups

As always, let me know what you think! Take a picture if you make these cookies and comment below or tag me on Facebook/Instagram @angietorreswilson.

HAPPY BAKING

The Gadabouter

Gadabouting Our Way to Japan!

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun
Tour Website Link Above

Summer 2021

If you have followed me and my journey for a while, you will know that traveling my way through the world is something that I love to do. More specifically, I travel with my students. I have always taken pride in the authentic relationships I am able to build with my students throughout the year–when I added traveling with students to my tool belt, I am truly able to experience something that is unforgettable.

Traveling overseas brought a newfound perspective on my life and knowledge. In
college, I was able to experience my first international trip to Africa, and it was during this trip that I fell in love with everything that traveling abroad has to offer. From my personal experiences with experiential learning, cultural immersion, and overall confidence building–traveling abroad provided me with learning experiences that are simply difficult to recreate within the confines of a classroom.
Ever since I became a teacher in 2011, I have wanted to provide my students with the
opportunity to travel overseas (or domestically) to deepen their commitment to learning.
There is something about students seeing something firsthand as opposed to just looking at a picture in a textbook—which ultimately makes it easier to connect to the topics introduced within a classroom. The excitement, visual stimulation, and first-hand experiences help students retain knowledge—overall promoting natural curiosity and interest in exploring their world.

Paris & London 2016

Bell Italia 2017

Ireland & Scotland 2019

Student Testimony

Travel allows you to empathize with people on a deeper level. You can learn learn so much from traveling– it allows the opportunity to take things you learn in the classroom and put it into something that is vivid and real.

Rachel Castellani, Southside Christian School Class of 2019

Japan Informational Meeting

If you are interested in coming to Japan–June 2021, please join us on January 17, 2020 at the Simpsonville Library (Address: 626 NE Main St, Simpsonville, SC 2968) at 4:45.

Clemson University Senior Capstone Project

Masters in Education: Teaching & Learning (Instructional Coaching)

If you are interested in reading the full study, I have attached the file for you above! There are several students who participated in the study–if you want to view their responses, read the RESULTS section–which starts on page 17.

Questions/Comments

As always, please let me know if you have any questions! You can email me at angie.torres.wilson@gmail.com or leave a comment and I will answer as soon as I can. Hope to see you on Friday!

The Gadabouter

Happy Three Kings Day! (¡Feliz día de los Reyes Magos!)

January 6th
Three Kings Day

There are signs of growing up in a Puerto Rican household. Not to stereotype–but my household, just like many other Puerto Ricans, was filled with Goya, rice and beans, Olga Tañón, loud conversations, telenovelas, strict parents, cousins, and one of my personal favorites–Three Kings Day.

Today, I want to talk about the importance of Three Kings Day and how I plan to pass down the same traditions to my two kiddos, Lilli & Jonah. I would also like to share a little part of my culture with those who may not be familiar with the holiday or story.

What is the importance of Celebrating Three Kings day?

Traditionally, Three Kings Day celebrates the biblical adoration of baby Jesus. Christians around the world celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ from His virgin mother Mary. On the day of His birth, according to the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a manger–as there was no place in an inn. The book of Matthew is the only one of the gospels that mention the Magi “came from the east” to worship the King of the Jews. Although the gospels never mention how many there were, Christian denominations around the world assume the number three– as there were three gifts brought to baby Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Popular depictions of the story of Jesus’ birth put the wise men at his birth, however, traditional celebrations put their visit 12 days after his birth. So, Three Kings Day is the commemoration of the arrival of the Magi–men who accepted Jesus as the incarnate.

The Celebration

There are many different variations of how people across the world celebrate Three Kings Day. Traditions include family gatherings, parades and eating the Roscón (or Rosca) de Reyes, a round cake with dried fruit, powdered sugar and a figurine hidden inside. The Rosca de Reyes has an oval shape to symbolize a crown and has a small doll inside, which represents baby Jesus. The doll figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant Jesus from King Herod’s troops.

Traditional Rosca de Reyes


In my family, the tradition is for kids to leave behind some water and hay (grass) for the camels of theThree Kings to eat. This year, Lilli thought of the idea to write a letter for the Kings. In the letter, Lilli and Jonah wanted to write a sweet message thanking them for loving and accepting baby Jesus. Once the letter is completed, we will place it in a wooden box filled with the grass and water for the camels. The box is then placed under their bed on January 5th and when the kids wake up on January 6th, they will find a note and something small (a gift from the Magi) left behind for them to enjoy.

I hope some of you will join me in the fun of celebrating Three Kings Day!

Until Next Time,

The Gadabouter

Charlie Boy

Dealing with the loss of a loved one.

I am sitting here just after a week of losing our dog Charlie. I have been a little M.I.A from the world as I do not really know how to handle the pain of losing Charlie so tragically.

I have been incredibly blessed that God has blessed me with a wondering and amazing life–one that has not really experienced extreme tragedy in the highest form. I have lost family members over my lifetime. I remember first losing my cousin Natasha to cancer. I was so young that I didn’t truly know how to process that loss…all I remember was seeing those around me mourn her life once she was called to heaven to be with Jesus.

The most painful loss for me after the loss of my cousin was my Abuelo Anselmo. My Abuelo was a hard-working man who raised his family through hard-word and determination–figuring out how to raise his children in the ghetto of Chicago with only a 2nd grade education. When I found out he had cancer, I felt for the first time in my young life, how fragile life is–and even the strongest of people do not have the ability to escape the pains of life. My Abuelo believed in me and he most of all wanted me to fulfill my dreams. See, my dreams of traveling began when my Abuelo was sick. I wanted to go to Africa for a month on a missions trip with some friends from school. The large dreams I had were not diminished by him, but rather he embraced them while funding a large portion of the amount it cost. I will never forget the smile on his face when he told me (in broken English) he could not wait to see the impact I would make in Africa. My Abuelo died before I had the chance tell him how my trip went…but I KNOW this–my Abuelo was with me every second I was in Africa. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his love still translates through my daily life and even though he is not here anymore, I know he is in heaven rejoicing with our King in heaven–NO LONGER SUFFERING with the pains of this world.

To those of you who are reading this right now cannot feel my pain and my hurt, but I know that everyone can relate to the pain and hurt someone feels as they try to deal with the loss of a loved one. Even though Charlie was not on this Earth in human form, he was a significant part of our family. His love was unconditional–despite my constant frustrations with his loud barking and his good taste in shoes. His life was precious to our family and looking back, I wish I could have embraced every moment instead of going through the motions of everyday life. In the midst of David’s new job, mom-life, teaching, and finishing my masters degree, moments of true clarity were hard to come by.

I want to think of Charlie as a martyr. Although his death was accidental, I have to believe he was placed in our lives for a reason. His death brought my little family of four closer together and helped us realize how precious life truly is. So although I still may cry, I have to have faith in knowing that God has a plan. Through life and through death–God ALWAYS has a plan. We need to take a step back and realize that He is working for our good.

Nehemiah 8:10 states, “do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Any of you who are going through a hard time, take a step back, breathe, and understand that it is okay to not be okay–it takes time to process the work Yahweh is doing in our lives. However, you must know that in the end God’s got you. He knows what he is doing.

If you need a song to bring light to your dark days, Danny Gokey’s “You Just Haven’t Seen It Yet” will be the flashlight to light your pathway.

It’s like the brightest sunrise
Waiting on the other side of the darkest night
Don’t ever lose hope, hold on and believe
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
You’re closer than you think you are
Only moments from the break of dawn
All His promises are just up ahead
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet (oh)
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet (oh)
Maybe you just haven’t seen it

He had the solution before you had the problem
He sees the best in you when you feel at your worst
So in the questioning, don’t ever doubt His love for you

I hope to see my Charlie boy again one day and I pray that I can live my life each day appreciating every moment that comes my way.

Until next time,

Angie

Formative Assessments in the Secondary Classroom


How to Choose Assessment Strategies that Maximize Results 

 

We must not equate assessment to testing. Assessment is an ongoing process. It is indeed the way we do business–constantly monitoring student development and the outcomes of our educational activity.

Image result for assessment

Formative assessments offer multiple benefits, but the number and variety of assessments can be overwhelming. Assessment strategies vary in their effect on learning, so to gain the most from them, it is important to focus primarily on those that directly improve student achievement ( Marshall,  2016 p. 104). 

Assessment Breakdown

Image result for formative vs summative assessments

Formative: activities that assess and provide feedback during the learning process 

Summative: using grades (or data) to demonstrate learner growth after instruction 

How do we understand what students have learned without giving them all too common and monotonous assessment strategies?

Don’t get me wrong, I have used these all to common assessments from time to time (it takes effort to think creatively), but how do we get students to make solid connections to learning without losing them in the process? 

But wait, what if I am NOT creative? 

Don’t worry–just understand that creativity within structuring meaningful assessments takes time and practice; be patient with the process. 

Self-reflection should be first in the process of determining effective and creative ways to informally assess students. Whether your formative assessments are in the form of visual models, verbal/written summaries, peer activities, self-assessments, lists, charts, or graphic organizers– formative assessments should  ultimately require students to make connections, derive personal meaning from learning experiences, become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, take responsibility in their learning,  demonstrate their ability to make decisions, clarify processes, and help solve problems. 

To begin, start by answering these questions: 

  1. How well do my assessments measure and support student learning? 
  2. What do formative assessments tell me about student progress relative to lesson/unit goals? 

Self-Application

The Daunting Task…

Teaching Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare 

This nine week’s I am overcoming the difficult task of teaching Shakespeare to my 9th graders. This is always a stressful time of year for me–especially since I am teaching my students terms and concepts that have never learned before. Not only do they have to know the term, I encourage students to apply that knowledge into what we are reading–Elizabethan English!

Iambic pentameter, sonnets, soliloquy’s, monologue’s, dramatic irony, asides, and so many other dramatic terms are implemented within the last nine weeks of the first semester!

How do I assess my students to truly measure and support their learning?  

First, I provide my students with a list of items to annotate throughout each act. This stimulates students to become active readers as they must integrate the knowledge they have accrued (dramatic terms) and apply it to identify literary devices throughout the text. My students take pride in this process–it is most certainly difficult to begin with, however, they eventually love the procedure of discovering these devices as it brings deeper and more critical thinking out of reading a difficult text. 

Students use colors to distinguish what they are highlighting (see below). They are also encouraged to look up specific words that they are unfamiliar with–to increase understanding of the text and its implications. 

My students are also given guided practice questions to answer along with the text to help with comprehension. I typically call on students randomly to answer these questions and sometimes I provide extra scaffolding to help them work towards the correct answer– always asking them to find coordinating textual evidence to support their response. 

Once the each act is read, I use SPIRAL–a collaborative suite of tools for the classroom as a formative assessment measure. Spiral is used as a measurable tool in various ways: 

  1. Quickfire- Use Quickfire as a formative assessment tool to see what the whole class is thinking. 
  2. Discuss- Allows the teacher to creative interactive presentations to spark creativity in class. 
  3. Team Up- Teams of students can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices. 
  4. Clip- Turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes. 

What do formative assessments tell me about student progress relative to my lesson/unit goals? 

I love using Spiral after reading– as it allows my students to become excited to share their knowledge about what they have learned throughout each act. This forum allows my students to use their creativity (through technology), while sharing their knowledge of the content. If at any point there are questions or concepts that are being missed by my students, I cover any part of the instruction that students need readdressed. I can also determine which students are mastering the content, which helps for grouping students according to their mastery levels (for any group work activity). My ultimate goal in using formative assessments from Spiral is to figure out where my students are with understanding the content. 

Debriefing a lesson is imperative.

Creating an environment in which students are excited to display their knowledge is extremely powerful. Aside from student enthusiasm, formative assessment forums like Spiral, gives teachers the knowledge and capability to determine and improve student achievement. “Once students acknowledge what they know and don’t know, they become more engaged, question more, and study harder” (Marshall,  2016 p. 105). 

Whether using formative assessment forums such as Spiral or through other creative alternatives, it is beneficial for teachers to provide an opportunity for students to think about their learning metacognitively. Provide moments to motivate your students and grant them with occasions at the end of your instruction that allows them to explore and debrief what was taught. 

That’s a Wrap!

Ultimately, knowing forums like Spiral, and becoming confident by implementing creative ways to use formative assessment, gives me the assurance to share my knowledge with other teachers around me. 

I have had the blessing of having great instructional coaches in my teaching experience, and I can only hope I can provide other teachers with the same helpful and effective resources that were given to me. 

Until next time, 

Angie Wilson 

The Gadabouter 

Sources

Marhsall, J. C. (2016). The highly effective teacher: 7 classroom-tested practices that foster student success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.