Oxblood and Speeches: Fall

Well, Hello there, October.  Can I just say that I am glad that it is October?  For most of the month of September, I thought that it was October.  I kept seeing dates that were 10/whatever and I was thinking that I either had something coming up or had missed an important meeting or event.  And, not to mention that September is a hard word for me to type fast.  I misspell it, a lot.

Tuesday my students delivered their first set of speeches.  I was so excited and anxious to hear them– I really had some high hopes.  But, as soon as the first student started I was reminded that these are beginning speakers and this is their first time.  The mistakes were plentiful.  I wouldn’t be so upset by it if it wasn’t things that we had covered and discussed.  They have a time frame of 5-6 minutes and the first student talked for over 11 minutes.  I have never had that happen.  I had decided that at 15 minutes I was going to stop him.  Luckily, he stopped himself.  This, and their uncertainty about what to do as the speaker and how to fill out the evaluation forms quickly negated my excitement.

I have to remind myself of all the things that they did well and remember that it is their first time.  So, let’s take a positive approach.  First, all 5 of the speaker’s that went on Tuesday made it through their entire speech without fainting or having a heart attack.  Secondly, many of them voluntarily dressed up and used presentation aids– which wasn’t required, so technically they were going above and beyond.  Third, all of them had their note cards and revised outlines.

I know that the speeches that the remaining students deliver today will be much stronger because they got to see their peers go and they can learn from their mistakes.  Sometimes, I just have to remind myself that no one is perfect and the reason why they are taking this class is to become better public speakers.

Black cardigan: Target. Printed ruffled tank (black): Target. Sunglasses: unknown. Red earrings: unknown. Black and red bracelet: gift from sister. Pandora bracelet: gift(s). Red leather bracelet: souvenir from Niagara Falls. Oxblood cropped pants: J.C. Penney. Black pointy-toed shoes: Shoe Carnival. Silver watch: Fossil.

Plus, I am just feeling stressed out because I got behind on my schoolwork– grading, preparing handouts to go to the printer’s, and prepping for lectures.  And, one week from today I have the regional bartender flair competition that I will be competing in.  And, (of course) one of the full-time teachers in my department is coming to do my annual teaching evaluation next Tuesday.  So, I have a lot on my plate.

On Sunday, which was date night with the BF, we went on a short shopping trip.  Last week we washed laundry and some mysterious red substance ended up ruining several of our clothing items.  Some of them were saved after a $75 dry-cleaning bill, but others were not salvageable.  I felt bad that my BF lost two dress shirts, so I wanted to go to J.C. Penney to see what they had on sale.  I scored big time and we found two dress shirts for him–one with a tie, on clearance for a total of $15!  I also bought myself something while we were there.  I was telling my BF that I wanted a pair of cropped pants and I was blabbering about oxblood being the “it” color for Fall.   And then we came across these pants.  He was a little unsure of them, but I knew that they were winners.

I liked these pants and was excited to wear my new ruffled printed tank top that I purchased from Target a while back.  At the time I didn’t have burgundy pants so I had planned on wearing them with black pants and a royal blue cardigan or a magenta button-up shirt.  But, once I added these pants to my wardrobe I saw an entirely different option for this tank top.

What do you think? Do you find yourself following certain trends? Did you go crazy for orange this Spring/Summer because of Pantone?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.




Although I have been tagging pictures and posts “Fall” for quite some time now, it’s not actually Fall!  According to the calendar Fall doesn’t begin for another two days.  But, nonetheless in my mind Fall is synonymous with back-to-school.  Plus, everyone is always pushing ahead and talking about what’s coming next and not focusing on the here and now.  Look at Fashion week– they are debuting clothing lines for the Spring!  We haven’t even had Fall and Winter yet.  And not to mention my Pinterest was flooded with pins of outfits comprised of leggings, boots, and comfy cozy sweaters captioned I LOVE Fall two months ago.  So, please don’t fault me for the erroneous tagging!

Printed cowl neck shirt: Target. Red earrings: unknown. Magenta skinny belt: Target. Khaki pencil skirt: Target. Gold watch: Wal-Mart. Brown heeled boots: unknown.

And, since we’re only two days away, I’ll go ahead and say this.  It’s beginning to feel a lot like Fall.  This week we have had some near record lows.  The cool crisp air is very Fall-esque and therefore, I have started wearing some Fall-like layers.  First up, this shirt which with the mustard yellow and burgundy tones just screams “fall pile of leaves” to me.  And the khaki pencil skirt.  And the brown knee-high heeled boots.  I’m no mathmetician, but Boots=Fall.  I told you in my last post that my outfit consisted of different elements from my creative closet play session, and here it is.  First, the printed cowl neck shirt from all of the outfits.  Second, the skinny magenta belt which gives this top the illusion of being a peplum top– which are SO on-trend right now (but not in my closet.)  Third, the brown boots from another outfit.  Switch out the denim colored pencil skirt for a khaki one, add in thick nude colored tights, and a brown jacket and we’re good to go!

I really like the way that I created the peplum top illusion by tucking under some of the excess length on this top and adding the belt.  But, the one thing that I didn’t like is that my skirt was all wrinkly by the end of the night.  I think that a good coating of spray starch will take care of that.

In class we finished up the lecture over outlining and then talked about organizational strategies for main points.  I have tried to stress to my students the importance of their outlines.  I have walked them through the process step by step.  In week 3 I required them to turn in their topic for approval, their general purpose and specific purpose.  A few of them were off course and had selected a topic that would work better for a process or persuasive speech.  Some of them had a good topic, but had written a specific purpose that treated the topic as a how-to or persuasive speech.  And some of them didn’t write the specific purpose according to the guidelines.

After they turned in their topics, I told them that they should be out there researching their topics and gathering support material for their outlines.  This coincided with the two chapters on finding resources and evaluating and using supporting material.  I constantly reminded them that they should be starting the process of piecing together their outlines.  Last week we began discussing outlining.  We finished that up on Tuesday and their outlines are due today.

I’m always a little worried for some of my students– especially the ones who don’t heed my warnings and get behind.  I had a student approach me at the end of class on Tuesday and ask me if she could change her topic.  I tried to conceal the look of horror on my face as I explained to her that she should be on the outlining stage and not at the selecting a topic stage.  Selecting a topic stage was so 3 weeks ago!  I asked her if she realized how behind she was, but I don’t think that she grasped the severity of the situation.  But, there is a silver lining to this situation.  She expressed concern to me about how to study for the quizzes.

I took a few minutes to sit down with her and show her a few tips and tricks for figuring out which information is most important in a textbook chapter and which information is least important.  I also explained to her about the cues that a teacher gives to the students.  For instance, if something is not covered in class that means that it is less important than other information.  Idea’s that a teacher repeats is something that they want you to write down in your notes and remember.  The same thing with PowerPoint slides.  The information written on a PowerPoint slide is usually written in short key word phrases with the intent that a student will copy that information down in their notes and then elaborate with the other information that an instructor provides orally.

I’m choosing to focus on the positive aspect of the student reaching out to me for help on study habits rather than focusing on the fact that she is so far behind where she needs to be on the first big assignment.

What do you think?  Are there any other basic study tips that you give to students to help them figure out what to study?  Do you reach out to students whose quiz scores are lower than the rest of the class or do you wait until they come to you?  Please let me know your tips and tricks– I love learning from others.


Last Day: Down or Up?

Wednesday was the last day of class for the Summer 2012 semester.  My students delivered their final speech, the Persuasive Speech.  One of the things that we talk about with the persuasive speech is establishing your credibility, and part of credibility does include personal appearance.  For the final speech my students are required to dress professionally.  I tell them that they may not wear jeans, tennis shoes, sandals, hats, or ill-fitting clothing.  The rest is up to them.   I only deduct points if it is clear that they forgot to dress up.

Their speeches were o.k.  It seemed like the end of the semester snuck up on them and no one was as prepared for the final speech as they were for the first or second.  I was hoping for a little bit more from them.  One student did not have their note cards completed, so that leads me to believe that there was very little practice time devoted to the speech.  It seemed like my students were all flustered and uncomfortable during the delivery of their speeches– more so than I noticed the first time that they had to get up and speak.

As is my new thing, rather than dressing to the nines on the final day of class, I take it as my opportunity to dress down– in what I am now referring to as “student wear.”  I don’t know if I’ll keep it up, but t is a nice way to remind my students that I am a real person– just like them.  Sometimes I think that they believe that I am an alien being.

Wednesday July 25, 2012
V-neck t-shirt: gift from sister. Jeans: Target. Silver watch: Fossil. Boat shoes: DSW.

I did have a student who was absent on the last day of class and did not deliver a final speech.  I had to contact my department chair for some guidance on how to handle the situation properly.  I did not receive any communication from the student, so I don’t know if there is something terribly wrong or what may have happened.  I am holding off on submitting my final grades in the hopes that this student will contact me.

What do you think– do you like the idea of dressing down or going all out and dressing up on the final day of class? Please let me know in the comments.

Blue? Black? Does it Matter?

Tuesday I went shopping!  I was looking for a myriad of things:

  1. silk blouses
  2. shorts
  3. colored beads for my Pandora bracelet
  4. white shirt
  5. black heeled boots
  6. black shooties
  7. curler clips
  8. iPhone 3 case

I had my day all planned out.  I was going to my local thrift store first to look for silk blouses and shorts.  Then, I would head over to the mall on the other side of town to visit the Old Navy for shorts and a white shirt.  I also planned on walking around the mall and stopping by one of the kiosk’s to look at colored beads for my Pandora bracelet.  Then, on the way back home I wanted to stop at a nearby shopping plaza with a dollar store that sells iPhone cases, ULTA and Sally Beauty Supply to look for curler clips.  And DSW to look for some Fall footwear.

But, Tuesday was not my thrifting day.  I found a few items, but nothing like the major score the last time that I was at the thrift store.  I had two blouses in my hands, but neither one of them were the half-off color of the day and they were both polyester, not silk.  So, I decided to pass.  Some days I am like that.  I did, however, purchase a brand new  (tags still on) pair of navy dress pants originally from New York and Company. According to the tag, they are the Summer Stretch 7th avenue pant–midtown fit, straight leg.  I was a little unsure because they are “petite” but, I was hoping that they would turn out to be an ankle-length cigarette style.  Besides, they were a half-off color so they came to $4.00.  I was willing to take that gamble.

I also purchased a straw cloche hat and a pair of white cotton-y riding gloves.  I am very excited about both of these little purchases.  The hat was a whopping 50 cents and the gloves were 60 cents.  After the thrift store, I continued on my journey to the mall.  At Old Navy I picked up a pair of shorts similar to ones that I bought earlier this summer and totally love, and a new white shirt.  They had a big sale going on, so the t-shirt was $6 and the shorts were $7. It wasn’t quite the haul that I was expecting, but sometimes that happens to me.

I looked at the beads for my bracelet, but didn’t see any that I had to have so I continued on.  I stopped for an Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzel and lemonade while I was there, though.  Back on my side of town, I went to a shopping plaza with all sorts of stores.  I got a new iPhone 3 case for $5!  I didn’t find the clips for my hot rollers at either of the beauty stores and DSW only had a smidgeon of their Fall shoes out.  Plus, I am pretty cheap when it comes to things like that!  Investment piece, or no, it’s hard for me to spend over $50 on a pair of shoes.

Wednesday, I wanted to wear my new navy pants.  Luckily, my gamble paid off and they did fit.  I had this shirt out from when I was making outfits last week, and I thought it would be the perfect compliment to my new pants.  Let me tell you something, people, I was operating the assumption that this shirt has navy polka dots on a white background.  But, my BF disagreed with me.  He thought that they were black polka dots.  I held up the buttons and compared them to my new pants.  They looked a little black.  Then, I held them up to his black socks and they looked a little blue.  Honestly, I can’t really tell.  Before the color comparison test I was certain that they were navy polka dots.  But now, my faith has been shaken.

And then it was like my whole world was shattering around me.  I have paired this shirt with red accents so many times and even wore it as my red, white, and blue outfit.  Could I still pair it with navy pants if the polka dots were black?  I was operating in a world of uncertainty.  But, it was starting to get late, so I did it anyway.

I put on these black patent-leather sandals and accented this outfit with a silver bracelet and watch.  And of course, red lips.  But, I didn’t really like the outcome.  Maybe it was lingering thoughts that the polka dots are blue and not black.  Or, maybe it was the neon pink toe nail polish.  Whatever it was, I decided to change up the accessories.

Wednesday July 18, 2012
Polka dot blouse: (thrifted.) Red belt: (thrifted.) Red bracelet: gift from mom. Navy pants: (thrifted.) Silver watch: Fossil. Pandora bracelte: gift from mother-in-law. Red ballet flats: Target.

I liked the new outfit more, even though I can’t say that it will make the favorites list for this semester.

Wednesday, in class, we began the last chapter of the semester: argumentation.  Our textbook makes a distinction between persuasive speaking and argumentation.  Although I understand how and why they are separating the two, I think that it can be a bit hard for the students to understand.  Especially when the goal of both types is to motivate the audience to take action.  Who really cares if you are using motivational appeals or logic and reasoning?  Besides, my tactic is to use both to make sure that you cast a wide net and reach those most people possible.

Also, it gets a little weird at the end because I am teaching them something that they really won’t utilize.  Their final speech will be delivered on next Wednesday and then that closes the book for the semester.  There is no final for this class, so what I am lecturing over they won’t be tested on.  I always keep my fingers crossed that they won’t figure this out, but they always do.  And then I get the inevitable question, Do we have to know this?  I always give one of those frustrating parent/teacher responses of “this will help you in your final speech, and you never know when there might be a POP! Quiz.”

What are your thoughts? Are these polka dots blue or black? Did you like the outfit better the first way or the second? Please leave a comment, I love hearing your feedback!

Demonstrative Speeches and Leopard Print

Wednesday was a speech day– one of my favorite types of day.  It is nice to be able to sit back and listen to the students deliver their speeches.  Although, it’s not all fun and games.  I still have to evaluate each speaker.  The class does peer evaluations also, but they only have to evaluate two speakers, so the other two they get to sit back and enjoy.  Usually, since I’m not going to be taking center stage as much, I like to take the opportunity to dress down a bit.

And, Wednesday was no exception.  I chose to wear my leopard print tie-neck button up.  I had originally envisioned pairing it with khaki trousers, but when I put the outfit on it was a complete khaki overload.  I’ve paired this top with a black pencil skirt and black dress pants before, so in an effort to style it differently, I reached for my denim colored trousers.  And they worked.  (I feel like I almost always reach for these pants on speech days– it’s about as close as I can get to wearing jeans in the classroom!)  To finish off this outfit, I chose red patent leather ballet flats and silver accessories (again, trying to be different.)

Wednesday July 11, 2012
Leopard print tie neck blouse: (thrifted.) Zodiac necklace: Target. Silver cuff: J.C. Penney. Denim trousers: Target. Silver watch: Fossil. Red ballet flats: Target.

The demonstrative speeches were very interesting. The students have to select something that ties in to their program of study or intended career choice, so I get to learn about a wide variety of topics!

“Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda:” Time Wasters

The delay in this post comes from the fact that Wednesday wasn’t a great day.  And it kind of breaks my heart because it was speech day.  If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you will know that speech days are my favorite.  I get to see my little birdies fly on their own and really strut their stuff.

But, these little birdies did not.  To make a long story short, my students indicated to me that they were feeling unprepared for their first speech.  In my opinion, they wanted to push all of the blame on to me and say that I didn’t prepare them.  This caused an explosion of feelings within me.  First, I was angry that they could even think such a thing.  Then, I was feeling very attacked and defensive.  (I honestly don’t know how I managed to keep my composure.)

I suggested that we could continue watching video examples and push the speeches back to the next class period.  After about 30-40 minutes of debate my students opted to deliver their speeches that day.  Of course this outraged me even more.  One of my main counterpoints to them not feeling prepared was that it takes us soooo long to get through the lecture material that I cannot spend time doing other activities–worksheets, showing video’s, group work, hands on learning activities, etc.  It’s my thought that they don’t read the chapters and come to class prepared, so when I begin lecturing over the information they have a very difficult grasping it because it is unfamiliar to them.

And Wednesday was a perfect illustration of my point.  They spent all that time discussing their speaking apprehension and telling me all the things that they think I should have done differently and then they gave their speeches, anyway.  So, guess what?  After the speeches I had this whole lecture on MLK’s I Have a Dream speech planned that tied in their homework from the previous day.  But, we didn’t get to it.

My BF picked out my outfit.  When I asked him what I should wear he said “a pencil skirt.”  I took it from there, selecting which pencil skirt (my newly thrifted one), a top (a lovely burgundy silk top with tie neck), and accessories (bronze/gold to match the hardware detail on the skirt.)  My BF did, however, pick out which shoes I wore with this outfit.  Sadly, I really like this outfit and I hate that it was such a horrible day.  (Also, my long-time readers might notice that, for once, I didn’t opt to go casual on speech day.)  What a bummer!

Tie neck top: J.C. Penney. Bronze feather earrings: Charlotte Russe. Khaki skirt: (thrifted.) Gold watch: Wal-Mart. Gold shell bracelet: The Jewelry Superstore. Brown pumps: (thrifted.)

What do you think? Do you ever start out the morning feeling great and then just watch the day start to unravel right before your eyes?

Flippy Hair, Outlines, and Student-Teacher Evaluations

On Monday, I was returning the outlines to my students.  Since this is their first big assignment I get responses that are all over the board.  Some students nail the assignment–turning in an outline with the appropriate level of detail.  Some students are perpetual overachievers and turn in way more than is necessary, and there are those who (for whatever reason) turn in something that completely misses the mark.

In order to quell any possible riots when I hand back their graded papers, I turn the tables and have them play teacher.  I bring in an outline that has several mistakes and a grading sheet, break the students up into groups, and have them slog through the outline.  This reinforces the criteria that they should have included.  It also helps them to make choices when something that is worth 5 points is partly wrong and partly right.  They have to ask themselves, how many points should I deduct?  What is a fair grade?  In doing this exercise they start to see mistakes that they made on their own outlines.  One group gave the sample outline a “D” and the other rated it slightly higher with a low “C.”  The highest grade that one of my students achieved was a “B.”  This exercise usually takes care of too much animosity towards me when I give them their grades.

Pinstriped short sleeve blouse: J. C. Penney. Red earrings: unknown. Button ring: Self-made. Black dress pants: J.C. Penney. Red peep toe pumps: (thrifted.) Silver watch: Fossil.

Besides the outline group activity, I also lectured on chapter 5: Understanding Your Audience.  The outlining activity took about 3 times as long as I had planned, but it was time well spent so it was o.k. in the long run.  However, I have been trying to find time for my students to play Pictionary and I just keep having to push it back!

One of the first “speaking” activities that I do is having them break into groups and play Pictionary.  This forces everyone to go up in front of the audience and do something silly: draw pictures.  Although they are standing in front of everyone they forget about having all eyes on them because they are so swept up in the game.  Also, it is just one more way that they can get better acquainted with the people that they are speaking in front of.  This really helps them get over some of their nervousness.

On Monday, I wore a very simple and slightly uninspired outfit– a short-sleeved button up shirt with black pants and burgundy pumps.  In some pictures you will notice that I am wearing a bracelet, while in others I am not.  I liked the idea of wearing the bracelet with the outfit, but I just wasn’t sure if it looked right.  I had toyed around with grouping two or three bracelets, but they made too much noise on my arm and it is distracting when I teach.  (I flap my arms, a lot.)  Also, my hair is doing its own thing.  It needs trimmed and I just haven’t been to the salon to have it done.  I’m trying to grow it out and wear it a little longer, but they keep getting the layers wrong and I have to keep going shorter.

What about you? Are there some days where you just don’t have the energy to fight against your hair flipping out when you want it to flip under? Or, finding an outfit that fits and feels the way you want while still being appropriate for the situation and comfortable? I am much more confident when I have taken the time to pick out and coordinate pieces of an outfit rather than just getting up in the morning and staring aimlessly at the closet. But, I am also concerned with looking stylish, put together, novel, and trendy, and not just putting clothes on my body.

Lastly, I handed out an evaluation for the students to complete on my teaching style.  My college does an official teacher evaluation at the end of the semester, but by the time I get the feedback those students are long gone.  (I just got Spring semester results in the mail.)  So, I decided to create one of my own to hand out to the students.  One of the things that I read a lot about is being flexible in your teaching style and methods and being willing to change and adapt to what they students want.  Now, I’m not so naive as to think that they won’t ask for things that are non-negotiable, like no tests or quizzes, extra credit for coming to class, etc.  But, there may be some gems.

Sadly, most of my students neglected to answer the write-in question “What should this instructor STOP doing, what should this instructor KEEP doing, and what should this instructor START doing?”  One of the only pieces of advice was to make the power points accessible.  The first or second day of class I had a student ask about this, and I told her that they would not be.  But, since she asked about it then, and another student suggested it on the evaluation I decided to go against my belief and do it.

Sometimes I get feedback that I have trouble understanding.  Take for example the question about “This instructor is available to help students outside of class.”  My students rated me high (disagree) and I don’t understand why.  I hold office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays for 30 minutes after class, and I have been there without fail (or leaving early) everyday of class.  I also make sure to remind them of my office hours in e-mail communications and announce them in class.  I have had 1 or 2 students stay after for help, but that is all.  I also tell them that I am available by appointment.  I can understand that after class may not work for them, and there are 5 other days in the week.  So, I take their responses seriously and with a grain of salt.