Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tips for Running with Your Dog

Let's face it: dogs are the best!  If you are a runner, they can be your best running buddy.  I got our dog, Daisy, with the idea that I would train her to be my running buddy and she really is the best there is!  It didn't start that way, however.  You do need some time, patience, and helpful gear to train your dog to run with you.  You won't regret it!

Tips for Running With Your Dog

1. Start off SLOW! When we got Daisy, she was a tiny little 6lb baby, so we definitely started from the beginning. Our mailbox is a community box two blocks away so I would take her there and back to get her used to the leash.  (We never check our mail that much, lol!)  As she grew, we took her out for longer walks, always in the same route so she gets used to smells.  Our neighborhood makes a perfect mile loop so that worked out great for training her.  Soon, all of my neighbors knew me because they would stop to pet her!  There are several studies that say to wait at least a year before you run with your little pup because they are like human infants whose bones are not fused together just yet. They need to grow into their skeleton, and running can cause injuries. (Links to reference articles are below).  So, when she turned 1, we finally went out for a run.  By that point, she was wearing the harness pictured because she was pulling too much on her collar around her neck, and the harness offers more control from me. When you start running, go shorter distances, just like you would for yourself.  Remember when you started; each time increase your distance with your dog.  I've gone 8 miles with Daisy and she loved it!

2. Get the right gear.  As mentioned before, harnesses are better for running.  They don't pull at their neck and offer more control.  I purchased this one at Petsmart because it matches her collar and leash, but you can find one that works best for you.  I also purchased a doggie bag holder from Amazon that has velcro that attaches to the back of her harness.  Gotta pick up after your doggie!  (And let me tell you-- running is a catalyst for poop!)  After about 6 months of training her on the same routes, I purchased a hands-free leash that clips around my stomach.  I was nervous about this at first, but she is a champ on this thing!  She runs in front of me so I can see her and make sure she is ok, and if we need to turn, I just pull the leash like reigns on a horse.  It's awesome to have hands free while running with her.  When we run in the summer evenings, I purchased little lights that clip on the front of her harness from Amazon. (Really, Amazon is just the best!)  They come in a 6 pack of different colors.  I have the green one on her harness and it's lasted for two years now.  They have different types of blinking modes, as well.  I just wish she had saddle bags to hold the filled poop bags when we are not near a trash can.  Running with a bag of poop is a bit awkward...

3. Be aware of your running environment.  I live in the south where it gets extremely hot in the summer, so I need to make sure my dog is ok while we run in the heat.  I always carry water in a Nathan's water bottle and let her drink from it every mile and a half or so.  She has the tendency to slow down and lick me when she's thirsty, too!  Be careful of the heat on the pavement in the summer.  You may not feel in through your shoes, but the dog can feel it on their pads.  Touch the pavement before you head out.  Would you run barefoot on it?  If not, then don't take your dog on it.  I have seen little booties you can put on your dog's feet to protect them (good for rocky trail running, too) but honestly, I don't think Daisy would let me put those on her!  It breaks my heart when I see someone out with their dog at 4pm when it's 100+ degrees outside.  Poor doggie!  On that note, you also need to watch for broken glass or anything on the road or trail that could hurt your dog's feet.  I see broken glass a lot (so sad!) so I steer her away from it as much as I can.  I'm always looking at the sidewalk ahead of us to make sure it's clear for her (and me!).

4. Have fun!!  Sometimes I can get caught up in making sure I complete certain training workouts, but they don't always happen.  A lot of the times, I get out there because I know she wants to.  Daisy knows where my running clothes are and gets excited, and it's the best thing!  

There are so many benefits to running with your dog.  You both bond on these outings, you both get healthier, and your dog could make you a faster runner!  I know that she has increased my relaxed pace over a minute per mile faster since we started running together.  The vet comments on her body weight and composition when we take her in for a check up.  We're better together!

I hope these tips were helpful for you so you can take your dog out on your next run and find a new running buddy!


References and Links:

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Global Running Day: My Favorite Running Gear

It's Global Running Day! (and it's 102 degrees...) I thought I'd share my favorite running gear today. When I started running in 2009, all I thought you needed was a good pair of shoes and some headphones. After almost 10 years, I’ve acquired the need for gear on the run.

1. Brooks Ghost. My first pair of shoes that I bought when I started running came from Kohl’s and were ok for the short distance and time I was covering at the time. When I realized I wanted to run more, my friend suggested I check out Brooks running for shoes. I went to a running store and they fit me with Adrenaline. I loved those shoes! They carried me through my first 10k and half marathon. When I realized you need to replace your shoes more often than I thought, I tried Brooks Ghost. I’m hooked! I wait very impatiently for them to go on sale at the beginning of every summer. Good running shoes are important; they can prevent injury and keep your posture and form strong. If you cover long distances, getting the right shoes is imperative.

2. Spotify. When I first started running, I created a playlist in iTunes and imported it to my click wheel iPod and I ran with it in hand with headphones attached. Now, I use Spotify to create a running playlist that I can download on my phone to save data from streaming. I also strap my phone to my arm so I can have a free hand. As a woman, I will never run without my phone. But that’s another blog entry.

3. Garmin Forerunner 230. I am obsessed with data. I loved the Nike Running app when I first started running and loved seeing my pace, elevation, etc. However, I didn’t want to use phone battery and data to track runs, so I got a new Garmin watch. In 2010, my parents got me a Garmin and I can’t remember the model, but you needed to add a foot pod to your shoe and then plug it into a computer. The screen and function was so archaic that I just stopped using it when I downloaded the Nike app. Technology has changed in leaps and bounds. I love the look of this watch and the functions are much easier to control. I love that I can download different faces, track steps, see weather, see my calendar, as well as emails and texts. The coolest feature is you can download speed workouts and it will tell you when to speed up and slow down. This is super helpf

ul when in training. The data in the app is more extensive than Nike and connects to MyFitnessPal to track calories. It also tracks your sleep and steps. The only drawback is that it doesn’t track swimming. You can also get the model that tracks heart rate (Forerunner 235).

4. Hippie Runner headbands. My sister-in-law bought me my first handband and I was so happy that it stayed on my head after a run that I bought 5 more! My head is shaped weird; headbands tend to ride up and off, but not these! They come in all kinds of patterns and colors with different slogans, too.
They recently added a bunch of new designs that I have yet to get my hands on but I can’t wait to order some for the summer.

5. Old Navy running capris. If you haven’t tried any of the athletic gear from Old Navy then you are missing out! I find it’s good quality stuff for half the price of most big name running brands. I’ve had a pair of their running capris for several years and they are still going strong! (Girls with thighs, you know this is a big deal!)

I only buy my running capris from Old Navy; most places have cute ones but they are totally see-through when you stretch them over your butt. How embarrassing! Old Navy also makes cute tops and durable socks.

6. Brooks sports bras. I am well-endowed when it comes to busts, so I bought two of the Juno bras two years ago and was hooked! I loved how this bra fit from the start. However, I bought two of the newest Juno model and I’m not that impressed. The band is a lot wider and I need to use the last hook, which means I don’t have room to wear them out. The band also rolls up, which is really annoying. Good sports bras are hard to come by and are rarely affordable. If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments!

7. Nuun hydration tablets. I'm a vegetarian and not a fan of sugar so these tablets are perfect for making sure I have electrolytes after long runs, or summer running. I go through a lot of them in the Texas summer months. Sometimes I'll add one to my water even if I'm not working out that day! My favorite flavor is Strawberry Lemonade.

And of course, I have to have sunscreen before those summer runs, as well as an old visor and some sunglasses. I hear Goodr makes excellent sunglasses for running, but I have yet to try them. Maybe I will buy a pair as the summer goes on.

I can't wait until the sun goes down so I can head out the door with my dog, Daisy, for our #GlobalRunningDay run!



Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hang in there, teachers! We got this!

I wanted to post more on this blog throughout the school year, but of course, after working 10 hours a day plus random weekends, working out, training for a half marathon, and keeping up with my household I just didn't find the time.

And now it's the month all teachers dread: May.

May is such a touch time of the year for teachers, students, and administration.  We are on the home stretch, the finish line is in sight, but we have a huge hurdle called testing to jump over.  But once that's cleared, what do you do with anxious students for three weeks when you are exhausted yourself?

In the fine arts world, May is filled with end of the year plays, concerts, and trips.  We are the reason students come to school, and rewarding them with fun trips is one of the best parts of teaching.  But not when you are just plain exhausted!

If you teach middle school like I do, you know the struggle is real right now.  All year long we ask students do to the same thing over and over again, and have they learned?  Probably not.  "Take your gym clothes home."  "Sit down when the bell rings."  "This is your 12th tardy of the 9 weeks and it's the end of the school year.  You know your schedule by now." "Walk in the halls."  They still exhibit the same behaviors at the end of the year as they did in August, and it's frustrating as teachers to be on repeat this late in the year.  Lucky for me, I get some kids three years in a row, and you know what?  These behaviors don't change after three years, either.  Hang in there!

State testing in Texas starts up again tomorrow.  No more last minute tutoring; no more cramming; no more notes and emails sent to parents about their child's performance in class.  What these kids do in the next four days determines if our school is good enough; if our teachers are good enough; if the kids are good enough.  It all comes down to this.

But does it?  These tests don't see what I see in these kids.  When I look up their test information to get an idea of their reading level before assigning monologues and scenes, it really surprises me sometimes.  The results don't match up with what I see from these kids on a daily basis. There are so many victories in our public schools are not tied to testing.

Like the little 6th grade girl who was too shy to perform her monologue in front of the class in September, so after some tears, she performed for me and her best friend one morning before the first bell.  She grew so much in the last year that she competed at the spring speech contest and was cast in two roles in our spring show.  Where does that victory belong?

Like the girl who was so shy in 6th grade that I was happily surprised that she came to audition for the musical.  She was cast as an ensemble member, and the rest is history.  She went on to win several plaques and ribbons at speech contests and acting awards for one act play in her 7th and 8th grade years.  Where does that victory belong?

Like the little boy who doesn't seem to talk much, but when he does, it's amazing.  When I first met him, his parents did all of the talking, then when he left the room, his dad told me to go easy on him because he's shy.  Of course I deal with shy kids all of the time, so I treated him like any other student in my room.  I held him to the same expectations as the rest of my students and he rose to meet them time and again.  And would you believe that this child, who's parents do nearly everything for him, including talking, is excellent at impromptu speaking?  Where does that victory belong?

Teachers, don't let the results of this week determine your self-worth as an educator.  You do more than drill them with math facts and reading strategies.  You mentor these young people to think for themselves, solve problems on their own, and create.  You nurture their emotional health because God knows middle school is a roller coaster of emotions from day to day.  You are the parent that is absent.  You mean more than test results.

As summer is approaching, I find myself too tired to go out and enjoy life on the weekends.  I just want to sleep, eat, then take a nap.  I'm feeling the end of the year exhaustion as I know you are, too.

Hang in there.  It's all worth it in the end.


Friday, March 3, 2017

How to Run a Drama Club (When You Already Have a Full Plate)

Finally, an update.  I have had ideas for my blog all year, but it hasn't been a priority compared to other things I have going on.  Veteran teachers, you know what I'm talking about.  First year teachers, you may feel like you are barely swimming, but keep going!  We are one week away from spring break, and almost at testing season.  Once that's over, the pressure is off and we can relax and enjoy our time with our students.

How many of you are usually the last car in the parking lot, walking out when the sun is going down or already down?  We don't have windows in our classrooms or auditoriums, and we don't see the sun when we leave, either.  Don't let the lack of vitamin D get you down!  Remember the tips from the previous entry about survival.  We can do this!

My campus is always looking for ways to get disenfranchised students involved, even though we have a great fine arts program where many students are already involved.  How can you get more students interested in drama?  Have an official Drama Club!  Some teachers use an official honor society, which is great for your dedicated kids who come to every audition.  I'm talking about involving those kids that are flat out afraid to audition, or they can't commit to staying after school every day.  Yeah, those kids.  Here is what I require of my Drama Club:

1. Every September club members submit permission slips and membership dues for the entire year.   Many districts require paperwork and a procedure for collecting money, and collecting dues up front saves time before events throughout the year.  This year I charged $20.

2. Benefits of joining Drama Club: t-shirt, field trip to see a play, Christmas movie party, and Mystery Dinner party at the end of the year.  At the first meeting, members design and vote on the year's t-shirt, and vote for officers.

3. Students vote on what Christmas movie to watch for the party and what play they want to go see.

4. Before the field trip, I collect a $5 fee to ensure that students will follow through and show up.  Every year I have students who submit their permission slips for the play, I buy tickets, and they don't show.  It also helps pay for those unused tickets or a bus if you need one.

5. I use for our Mystery Dinner Parties.  I teach 6-8th grades, so I can use the same parties on a three year rotation.  I like to play along, but this will be my fourth year doing them so I know the killer now. :)  I cater in Zio's, they get character information in their invitation, and we have a blast.  It's like a banquet, but more fun!

6.  We hold one monthly meeting where we discuss the next upcoming event.  I would love to include a service project, but with all the contests we have going on, I am finding a hard time to plan and execute one.  Maybe something as simple as picking up trash along the roads to school.  Still in the works!

I hope this helps you generate ideas to get more students involved in theatre.  I have 60 kids in the Drama Club, and not all come to auditions for plays.  They get to be a part of theatre without testing their fear of performance.

I'm hoping to add more to the blog and more to my store over spring break and in May! :)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Non-teaching Tips for First Year Theatre Teachers

Congratulations!  You got the job!  Your dream job!  You've been through new teacher orientation, staff development on your campus, and met a ton of new people.  Your students will be walking through those doors in just a few days.  You've been trained on teaching techniques, and behavior techniques.  Your passion for theatre runs in your veins.  You're so ready!

Returning teachers: finish your fruity, frozen drink, put away the swimsuit and floaties, and try to find your school ID badge.  It's time to inspire a new group of shiny students!  These tips could work for us returners, too.  As I was drafting this post, I realized that these tips are good reminders for myself, as well. We know that the day-to-day can be really hectic with all that we do.  It's good to step back and take it all in, and take care of ourselves.

The following are tips for new (and old!) teachers that have nothing to do with instruction, because let's face it: instruction only covers a percentage of what we do every day.

1. Buy a large, long-lasting water bottle.  I have a 32 oz bottle that I refill throughout my day.  Staying hydrated helps fight fatigue, headaches, and the grumps.

2. Train yourself to use the bathroom once a day.  I'm not kidding.  Last year, I had a morning conference, so between 11:20 and 5:30 I had to sprint to the bathroom if I had to go.  Those teacher memes about the bathroom are not jokes.  They are true.

3. Make sure you have a microwave and refrigerator near your room/black box/office/auditorium.  Lunch is precious, precious time and you don't want to waste it walking across campus to the lunch room.

4.  On that note: bring a lunch and sit down and eat it.  I mean it!  Preferably with other adults with whom you can engage in an adult conversation with.  Fellow middle school teachers: trust me on this.  You need a break from adolescents in your day, no matter how much you may enjoy them.  (Confession: sometimes I don't have food to bring, or I didn't have time to pack a lunch, so I get a tray in the cafeteria.  Some schools have a great lunch program; others do not.  Investigate first before it's too late!)  Also, keep plastic silverware, plates, and paper towels in your office.

5.  Don't wear your school shirt to happy hour on Fridays.

6. Keep healthy snacks in your office/desk.  Our days are long, and lunch times vary.  Our last lunch doesn't start until 12:20.  I would DIE if I had to wait that long between breakfast and lunch.  (for some reason I can make it from 11:30am-8pm with rehearsal and a workout before I get hungry.  Go figure.)

7.  Have instant coffee/a Keurig/tea.  I think scientific studies have been done that indicate humans need a siesta in the afternoon.  That's why it's the "afternoon slump".  Mine always hit during 6th period, with three classes, rehearsal, and a workout to go.  Caffeine in any amount is very helpful.

8.  Attend as many meetings on campus as you can.  Be visable.  Work with other teachers on campus.  Don't hide away and be forgotten.  Attend staff parties and happy hours.  Do Secret Santa at least one year.  Treat the office staff like queens (or kings), give treats to your custodians.  Participate in a pep rally.  Do the "non-theatre" fun stuff on your campus.  You are not an island; you are a part of a community.

9. SLEEP.  I confess that this is something I struggle with during the school year, and I LOVE sleeping.  I slept a lot this summer and I don't regret it.  My body needed it.  I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere sleep studies have shown that you can't "store" up sleep that you missed, but man it sure feels good!  One of my goals this year is to go to bed at a certain hour (especially during my peak running training).  It's so hard to multitask and not be grumpy when your body is lacking sleep.  Lack of sleep also leads to missed workouts and bad food choices, which leads me to...

10.  Make healthy food choices.  I'm not saying you should do a Whole 30 or even count calories.  Eat more fruit instead of processed food.  Avoid fast food on those evenings when you are just bone tired.  Mental exhaustion feels like physical exhaustion, but you can still muster up the energy to eat better to keep your body functioning the way it should.  Without that, how can you be there for your students?  Along those lines, schools and teacher's lounges are filled with junkie goodies.  For example, the first day of training we had candy scattered on our tables.  Tomorrow, the PTA is providing donuts.  (YUM!  You know I'm going to eat one, but the key here is ONE.)  It's ok to say no to free junk food.

The bottom line is: Take care of yourself.  We give so much to our students (it's THE reason why we go to work every day).  It's so easy to forget about taking care of yourself in this profession.  But, if we teachers don't take care of ourselves, how can we be at our best for our students?  Veteran teachers, I hope this was a helpful reminder for you, as well.

We have such an important job.  Do little things to make sure you are the best that you can be every day, from August to June!

It kind of feels like Christmas, doesn't it?  New school supplies, new clothes, new scripts, new faces.  Drink some night time tea and get to bed early, and have a GREAT school year!



Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Howdy!  Only a few days left to soak up the summer!  (And I'm working from home; it never really ends, does it?)

My goal this summer was to blog like crazy and add more to my TeachersPayTeachers account.  (As a runner, I need a little extra change to pay for new gear and races...)  Guess what I didn't do?  Blog and get on TeachersPayTeachers.  Sigh.

Well, I got on today and added the CHAMPS posters I tried to share in Google last year.  I updated the link in that post, as well.  You can find them here: CHAMPS posters

I also added a Melodrama Playwriting planning sheet that I use with 7th and 8th graders in the spring.  Middle schoolers are all about melodrama and they LOVE it!  It includes the elements you must have to make it a true melodrama, and a timeline at the end for both students and the teacher to keep track of the writing project.  I gave them three weeks to write (or type.  We use Google Drive.), then three-four weeks to produce their work.  They LOVE writing and producing their own scenes!

I'm going through my files right now to see what else I can add to the store before school starts that would be beneficial to all theatre educators, veterans and newbies.

What resources are you looking for the most?


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Teacher Burn Out: It's Real!

Howdy, folks.

I haven't posted anything since January.  It is now July.  Fellow teachers, you already know what I'm about to say: life is hectic as a teacher in the spring, no matter how many years you have under your belt.

January brings new challenges in my world: we jump right into our One Act Play contest rehearsals, and that's all I can think about until March.  Spring break hits, and I lose my drive.  The kids are antsy.  It's getting hot outside.  They can't bare to turn in any assignments, even the easy ones.

I wanted to write a complete post about how Interactive Notebooks worked for me this year.  I took pictures of how the storage area became a mess and stayed a mess all year long even with classroom jobs.  I don't even know where those pictures are right now.

Here's the deal with Interactive Notebooks in middle school theatre:  The idea is nice, and admin loves it, but it just doesn't work well if that's what you are basing your curriculum around.  I found out that I wanted to fit as much as possible into those notebooks, and by February we were all sick of them.  I kept supply tubs at each table with glue, scissors, rulers (aka swords), colored pencils and markers.  By Thanksgiving they looked terrible and I needed to reorder supplies.  Middle school kids will fiddle with everything they see, so those tubs lived on my bookshelf for most of the second semester.

Even though kids kept their notebooks in their class period's bin, they still lost them. (!!!!!!)

I want to continue with the notebooks, but here's what I'm going to change:

Don't fit all the notes into one semester.  It's ok to take half the notes one day, the other half the next.  Hey, you could even ask kids what they remember to keep them in engaged in the unit!  My theatre I kids this coming year will take the same amount of notes, but spread out throughout the year.  My need to get them ready for contest makes me rush through the notes and students hated it.

Add more opportunities for students to reflect and evaluate in their notebooks.  We had plenty of room in notebooks at the end of the year, so I pledge to give them more opportunities to reflect and evaluate in their own words.  I used to be really good at getting gets to evaluate performances and reflect on them.  I don't know what happened, but this year I felt their writing about theatre hadn't improved.

My returning students will already have the basic notes from last year, so they will definitely have less writing.  (And I can create assignments based on their notes for when I have a sub!!)  I packed up all of the notebooks in May, and come August I will unpack them and recycle those who are not in the class any longer.

Another thing that did not work again this year was getting students to do their warm ups.  In previous years, their notebooks were warm up books. They would write a paragraph or vocab word as their warm up in their notebooks.  Many students didn't do it, or lost their notebooks (in the classroom again), which is why I moved to interactive notebooks and I changed my warm ups.  They were a question with a short answer each day, written on a paper Monday-Friday, turned in every Friday.  Students did not even do this simple task, and I put them on my website.  Many students earned a C because their warm up was a daily grade every week.

Y'all, I even had an entire class that would not do active theatre games/activites, NOR would they sit and do worksheets!  They sat and did nothing all year!!  I got burned out from trying to motivate this class every day.  What can I do with a group of middle school students who don't respond to any type of activity or lesson?  I don't like to just put movies on; that's not my style.  But every day, that class wore on me.

So, after taking a good long break from even thinking about school, I think I am ready to dive back into it and try to retool my classroom, yet again, because that's what teachers do.  We are always trying new things to engage our students and help them grow.  I want my theatre students to grow academically, so I will not take writing out of my curriculum.  However, I know they need more hands-on, active learning.  As a teacher, that type of learning in the middle school environment is hard to monitor and control.  I will spend the rest of my summer figuring out how to do just that.

Sorry for the lack of posts.
Sorry for no pictures in this one.  (ain't nobody got time for that in the spring semester).

I'm going to direct you to my TeachersPayTeachers page where I have my "Make Your Own Lesson Plan Book" documents on sale until Saturday, and I will be adding more resources to my store in the upcoming weeks, as well.

Ms. Korth's Theatre Classroom and Other Tools

I hope my fellow educators are getting the rest and family time they need to be the best they can be for their students in August!  Enjoy the rest of your summer!