Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Day After Memorial Day

I know everyone yesterday was talking about Memorial Day so I thought I would wait until the day after.

Memorial Day in the USA is a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered.

Throughout our country, there were parades and special events of remembrance.

I saw a friend of mine on Facebook how he has already started telling his infant daughter about Memorial Day and what it means.

I also notice that many people take this time to thank those who are veterans for their sacrifices and service to our country.

It fills my heart with pride when I see and hear these things. I also see this a lot on Veteran’s Day in November.

I need to make it a point to thank those veterans still alive and remember those who died on other days too, and not just these two important days. Many suffered during their days of service and still suffer after they return home. Many families still suffer from loss.

So, on the day after Memorial Day, I want to thank those who served our country and I want to thank those who are still on active duty. You all are in my thoughts and prayers, not just yesterday and not just today but also every day!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Smokemont Camping Trip

Last week we camped at Smokemont in the Great SmokyMountains National Park. We had a lovely time and you can see the pictures I took here. Here is a detailed description about our trip.

We left home around 7:30 and stopped for breakfast at the Landmark Diner. We arrived in Cherokee around 11:00 and had lunch at McDonalds before heading to Smokemont Campground. Our campsite was D38 and we really liked this site ($10/night with senior pass). It was a drive-thru site between 2 bathrooms. After setting up camp, we walked around the campground and then hiked up the Bradley Fork Trail until dinner. For dinner we had hamburger steaks and cantaloupe. After dinner we walked around the campground again. We went to bed around 10pm.

It rained all night and I had to close the windows when the rain came in the camper. I got up around 5:30am and plugged my iPad and phone in the bathroom outlets. I tried to sit outside but it kept raining on me so I ended up staying in the car and reading and knitting. Every hour I checked the status of my electronics and finally unplugged them around 7:30. It was too wet to cook breakfast so we went to McDonalds in Cherokee. Then we drove to newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome so I could take photos. We got back to the campground to cook lunch (red hot sausages and cantaloupe). Then we hiked about 3 miles on the Bradley Fork Trail. Before dinner we relaxed at the campsite and for dinner we had more red hot sausages and macaroni and cheese. A couple stopped by to look at our Casita. Before bedtime we watched a DVD on my laptop.

I got up around 5am and it was 50F in the camper. I was able to sit outside but I got cold. I did some reading and knitting in between checking on my stuff recharging in the bathroom again.  I had fun watching other campers break camp and leave. One camper hit 3 trees as he tried to leave and finally got on the road. We ended up at McDonalds again for breakfast and I checked my voicemail messages and email. After breakfast we hiked about 4 miles along the Oconoluftee River. For lunch Don cooked bacon and eggs. After lunch we hiked on the nature trail and the Smokemont Loop Trail.

We got up around 6:15am and left by 7am. We stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and was home by 10:30am.

Things I Learned:
  • Smokemont has a dump station and water supply so we don’t need to bring water from home.
  • We need to bring about 1 gallon of good water to cook with per day.
  • I need to bring a collapsible clothes dryer that can be moved where the sun is instead of stationary clothesline.
  • It is fun watching people take equipment out of boxes and use them for the first time. But you should really try your equipment at home before going camping.
  • Cantaloupe should be eaten the first day because it smells up the place it is stored.
  • I need two saucepans and not just one. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 5/22/15

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!
Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

My Study LifeIt's time to say goodbye to your paper planner. My Study Life is everything your paper planner is and more. Rotation schedules, assignments, revision, exams? My Study Life has it covered on all of your devices. Oh, and did we mention it's free?” (L:G; SA: A)

SeeSaw – free iPad app; “Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students (as young as 5!) to independently create, capture, and store artifacts of learning. (L:G; SA: A)

100 Word Challenge – “It is a weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 years of age. Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and the children can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. This should be posted on a class blog and then linked to the 100 Word Challenge blog. The link is usually open from midday on Sundays until midnight the following Saturday.(L:G; SA: LA)

NASA Soundcloud - Here's a collection of NASA sounds from historic spaceflights and current missions. You can hear the roar of a space shuttle launch or Neil Armstrong's "One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind" every time you get a phone call if you make our sounds your ringtone. Or, you can hear the memorable words "Houston, we've had a problem," every time you make an error on your computer. (L:G; SA: A)

eSkeletons “eSkeletons provides an interactive environment in which to examine and learn about skeletal anatomy through our osteology database.”  (L:G; SA: S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Becoming Unique – Book Review

Recently I was sent the book Becoming Unique by James Charles.   (I am not being paid to review this book.)  Here is the review of the book.

The author writes about his life in England, Scotland and Ireland. I found it interesting to see how life is different politically and economically compared to the US. Even the healthcare system is drastically different from my life.

The author writes about his life chronologically and he isn’t diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder until he reaches the age of 40. I found it interesting how his interactions with others  was impacted with his disability but not really understood until he was diagnosed. He really struggled to make sense of the world around him and was somewhat successful even though he obviously had difficulties. I’m glad his wife was a strong support system throughout his story. I also liked the way he looked back at some of his difficulties and could understand how and why they happened.

It was a little hard for me to read the story because it wasn’t an easy read but when I reminded myself that this was written by someone who has a disability, it was easier to push myself to the end. I also could understand why it was written the way it was. I think that teachers would find this book interesting because they would see life from the perspective of someone dealing with a disability. It might help teachers see that the way they deal with students has a big impact on their life. Some students may have a disability but haven’t been diagnosed yet.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Little Things Make Great Impact

“We are driven by the notion that we might just make a difference in the lives of a handful of kids over the course of our careers.  And the best part of our gig is that each new day is FILLED with moments that have the potential to be powerful.”

This reminded me of things that I would do for students but have forgotten about it until years later, a former student reminded me of something that I did. At the time, I didn’t think it was anything major and even at the time wondered if the students cared. Now when I hear about it, I’m glad to know that it mattered. I may not have known about it at the time but it obviously mattered to some of the students.

Every high school teacher had a homeroom and usually these students were not in any of my special ed classrooms. I would see them for about 10 minutes every day. I was also the first person to see their report card before they saw them. On report card day, I would get to school about 30 minutes earlier and add a post-it note on each report card. I would write a positive comment to those who did really well and encourage others who were struggling. I didn’t judge or blame anyone for their low grades but tried to show that I cared about them and hoped that they would work hard to improve their grade next time. When I saw improvement, I would comment how their hard work was paying off.

Sometimes my students had working parents who just didn’t have enough time to say the right words that my students needed. I hoped that my small comments would show them that I cared. I watched their faces as they got their report cards and some smiled when they read my comments and others didn’t make any kind of acknowledgement. It was just knowing that I tried that was important to me.

Years later, I came across a former homeroom student at the store. He mentioned to me that he remembered I would take the time to comment on his report cards and it was my encouragement that helped him keep on trying. He wasn’t an A student but knowing that I would see his grades and be disappointed if they dropped was enough incentive to keep him from failing. He said he was really proud when I noticed that he made improvements. I have to confess that I don’t really remember this student but I’m glad he remembered me.

Sometimes it isn’t the big gestures that are remembered. It isn’t the big gestures that always make a difference. And sometimes we may never know the impact the little gestures make but I know it is worth the time to make them.

What small things do you do that you hope make an impact? Please share.