Tuesday, November 25, 2014

American Heritage Girls: Stars and Stripes

 At long last, our American Heritage Girls journey is really over. Well, over for now. Who knows what the future holds? I retired from being co-coordinator of our troop over a year ago (see Saying Goodbye to a Decade of Little Girls), but Laurel still had a final year—her Stars and Stripes year.

Laurel actually received her Stars and Stripes Award back in August. The Stars and Stripes in American Heritage Girls is modeled after the Boy Scouts Eagle Scout Award. It's a long process, starting really several years beforehand with planning when to get which badges, earning those badges, and fulfilling all the other requirements before even beginning the Stars and Stripes project itself. There is a lot of work that goes into the project.

For her Stars and Stripes project, Laurel directed Troop 131 in making blankets, sleepers, cards, and soap packets for Newborns in Need of East TN, an organization that provides newborn necessities for families in difficult circumstances. She and her troop put in a total of 177 hours on this project, which included not only making blankets and sleepers and assembling hygiene packets, but also packaging 2700 diapers and sorting 300 sleepers. In addition, she held collections at three different locations for donations. In total Laurel’s project brought in 200 diapers, 70 bibs, 50 sleepers, 50 packs of wipes, 30 onesies, 25 pairs of socks, and dozens more items to make a difference in the lives of local newborns in need.

She started her project in August 2013 after approval from the AHG national office. Her major work day was on AHG's National Day of Service in September. On this particular day, she had close to 60 volunteers (girls and moms) working on her project for up to six hours. That was a huge day!

The other two days of her project were much smaller and shorter but necessary to complete the requirements laid out in the Stars and Stripes procedure. These days included sorting items, taking inventory, and packaging diapers.

After the project itself is done, she had to write it all up according to very specific guidelines and assemble it all into a binder—a big, thick binder. That was a long process and perhaps the most frustrating part, but ultimately, organizing her project in writing, collecting references, making out her resume, and writing her spiritual walk essay were excellent learning tools. In July she and her best friend both had their Boards of Review (another excellent experience), and both passed with flying colors.

After submitting her final project binder to the Stars and Stripes Board, she could take a few deep breaths and wait for approval, which arrived a few weeks later.

And then came finding time to do her ceremony. We chose the same location where we did our older son's Eagle Scout Ceremony, sent out invitations, and planned the ceremony. Laurel is a  no-frills kind of girl, and she wanted it simple. I modified one of the ceremony scripts that is available on the AHG website.We had around 80 guests there to help celebrate. It was a perfectly beautiful day and a fabulous ceremony.

Two of her best friends were the emcees. The three girls and we three moms started the troop together. Bess and Laurel finished their Stars and Stripes projects at the same time, and Katriel is just completing her project write up.

One part that we did add to the ceremony is to give Caroline, my co-founder and co-coordinator for a decade, a mentor's pin. AHG doesn't offer a specific pin for mentors, so we purchased an extra parents' pin.

This is the part of the ceremony where we present Laurel with her S&S badge, and then she gives us our parents' pins

Laurel presenting Caroline with a mentor's pin. Because none of this EVER would have happened without her.

Because I have an awesome village, I didn't have to make any food. I asked several friends to bring finger foods, and a fellow AHG mom who owns a cake business made the fabulous cake.

Her display table was simple: we made a project display board, had her Tenderheart and Explorer vests, a scrapbook, a few pictures.

 For a guest book, I had made a photo album, with pictures from her very first year to her S&S award and everything in between, on Shutterfly that we asked people to sign.

Here are a few close-ups of her photo album.     

And finally, the end. Here she is with a few of the girls who did her flag ceremony.

And here she is, done and ready to go home.

I'm so proud of her, the 141st recipient of the American Heritage Girls Stars and Stripes Award, and the 5th member of  TN 131 to receive the award. 

Well done, sweet girl. I have been so incredibly blessed by all these years with my daughter in this organization. 

Thanks, American Heritage Girls, for helping us lead little girls into women of integrity.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Teaching Macbeth: Book Covers and Poem Activity

We've been studying Macbeth in both my 9th/10th and 11th/12th grade English classes. The highlight of our unit was absolutely our trip to the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta to see a production of Macbeth, which I detail here. We did a lot of reading—and acting out— scenes aloud, which I'll detail in a different post. But I love this activity I had my 9th and 10th graders do.

Here's the assignment and a few of their amazing designs and/or poems below. (The "I Am" poem idea is not mine. I found it in multiple places on the internet, so I don't know whom to give credit to.)

The Assignment:

Your assignment is to design a book cover for Macbeth. There are two parts to this assignment.

1. Design a book cover. Your front cover should be amazing. You can depict a vivid scene from Macbeth or use a collage of images that best illustrate the play, or you can focus on an image or one character. This is really up to you: what best illustrates Macbeth to you? Think about colors, symbols from the play, significant words or phrases, etc.

You can draw, paint, make a collage of pictures, etc. You should also include the title and author. You may NOT use a Macbeth cover that is directly taken from the internet. You may download a picture and incorporate it into your book cover, but you cannot use only that picture or cover. In other words, there is no shortage of Macbeth illustrations on the internet. You can model your book cover on one of those, or use that picture somehow on your cover; but don’t just use a picture only without some of your creative modifications.

You can make your cover out of construction paper, regular computer paper, butcher paper, etc. This should be around 8 X 12.

DO NOT merely scribble something in pencil on notebook paper. You will be graded on the effort that I perceive that you put into this.

2. On the back of your cover, create an “I Am” poem for one of the characters in Macbeth. Use quotes, words, and phrases from the play itself. See below for poem details. You should follow this pattern directly. You can write this directly on the back of your cover, or you can type it on paper and affix it to the back. (You do not need to depict the same character on both front and back. In my example, I used Macbeth on the cover and Lady Macbeth for the poem.)

The Title is the Character’s Name (Lady Macbeth, for example)

I AM (two special characteristics of this character)

I WONDER (something this character is/could be curious about)

I HEAR (a sound this character is hearing)

I SEE (a sight the character is seeing)

I WANT (something the character desires/would desire)

I AM (repeat the first line of the poem)

I PRETEND (something the character pretends or might pretend)

I FEEL (what the character is feeling in the story)

I TOUCH (could be symbolic or real)

I WORRY (something that is bothering the character)

I CRY (what is making the character cry inside/would make him or her cry)

I AM (repeat the first line of the poem)

I UNDERSTAND (something the character feels is true)

I SAY (something the character could or did say)

I DREAM (something the character did or would dream about)

I TRY (something the character is making an effort about)

I HOPE (something the character wants to happen)

I AM (repeat the first line of the poem)

And a few of the results!

As always, I am astonished and delighted at what my students can do! If you use these ideas in your classroom, please leave me a link so I can check out your projects, too!