Thursday, March 26, 2015

No More Common Core in SC

I was so excited to hear that Common Core Standards Dead in South Carolina!

I understand the idea behind Common Core standards but I didn’t agree with them. I think it was taking away basic skills that are important for our children to learn. I think we were trying too hard to make all children in our country be the same instead of teaching individual children according to their needs. Let’s face it; children in different areas of the country are raised differently with different values, different cultures, and different socioeconomic backgrounds. To expect all of these children to learn at the same rate is totally ridiculous.

I’m glad to see that they have brought cursive writing back (which was taken away with Common Core Standards). Cursive writing helps fine motor skills, and an important tool for cognitive development. Some researchers believe that cursive writing can even ease symptoms of dyslexia. 

Also returning is the requirement that students know their multiplication facts in grade 4. This is such an important skill for children and is the foundation for learning harder math skills. I’m not sure how students could progress without knowing their multiplication tables. Or maybe these were being taught anyway even though it was not required.

Some people complain that our new standards are harder. From the examples I’ve seen, I think they are more specific. Hopefully these will help guide teachers in their lessons.  I know that our new standards will have their problems too but I don’t believe there is a perfect set of standards that will magically make all of our students successful. I believe that we need to do the best we can and expect our students to do the best they can.

What is your opinion of Common Core Standards? How do you feel about cursive writing and multiplication tables? Please share.

Image: 'My first attempt at #cursive writing...'
Found on

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Holding Public Officials Accountable

In Texas Bill Would Make Recording Police Illegal, a Texas representative is trying to pass a bill that would not allow a private citizen to film police within 100 feet of an officer.

I don’t understand what they are afraid of? What are they afraid that someone will record?

It seems to me that this is a safeguard for the police and the person involved. Neither party can say something happened and this is evidence that shows the incident. The more people who film what happens make the evidence stronger. If one video shows one thing and another shows something different, one of the videos has been tampered with.

I feel the same way about my classroom. I don’t care if anyone videos my class or not because I don’t do anything in there to worry about. I should be acting the same way whether I’m being filmed or not. Since I felt this way, I assured parents that they were welcome to observe my class but they just had to check in with the main office first for security reasons. I didn’t care if they let me know because I was proud of my students and the way I teach. If I worry about doing something that someone might see, then maybe I need to reexamine the way I’m teaching.

When I was in fourth grade, I had a teacher who physically abused the students in her class. I believe if there had been a video on this teacher, this would never have happened. I don’t understand why the other teachers didn’t do something about it either because they would have heard or seen something that went on.  She would scream at us if we got a wrong answer and then drag students out of the chair by their hair and bang them up against the cement wall. Luckily I was a good student and studied so that didn’t happen to me! I think back and wonder what ever happened to many of these students. I wonder if they suffered in future grades because of the trauma that happened there.

I also had a former student teacher that was accused of abusing a student. The student was angry because he failed a test that the student teacher gave him. This was his way of getting back at him. Luckily I had been in the back office and the angry student didn’t realize this. I was able to vouch for the student teacher that nothing happened. If this student teacher had been alone, this could have ruined his future career! If there were cameras to video the classroom, this would not have even been an issue.

I think filming public officials helps hold them accountable. If they are in a public place, than anyone should have the right to film their actions. This is America and not some dictatorship! Taking away this right is one more example of how the government is eroding our rights little by little.

What do you think? Should this bill pass or not? Why or why not? Please share.

Found on

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Creepy Barbie

I recently heard about this story, “Talking Barbie is too 'creepy' for some parents” and couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

"Hello Barbie" uses speech recognition and connects to Wi-Fi. When someone presses a button on her belt buckle, Barbie will record what you say and send it it up to the cloud. It's saved, so Barbie keeps learning more and more about you, in order to inform her responses.

I just think this is bad on so many levels. When my children were little I didn’t let them talk to strangers. Talking to Barbie that connects to a real stranger is scary to me. Parents don’t know anything about the person who is getting this information. Who does a background check on that person? What kind of person is this?

Plus, if the child’s voice is recorded, there is a strong possibility of it recording background information also. Suppose the parents are giving their credit card number over the phone and Barbie records this? Information could be recorded and a stranger receiving that could do anything with it.

I believe we are giving children the idea that it is safe to talk to strangers. If they think it is safe to talk to Barbie, what is wrong with talking to others?

I think parents should think really carefully before getting this for their child. I would not recommend getting this for any child. But I do think this conversation would be great to share with others on how something that looks innocent might not really be innocent.

What do you think? Do you think this Barbie is safe? Would you buy it for your child? Why or why not?

Image: 'Happy Holiday Barbie 1992'
Found on

Monday, March 23, 2015

Excitement in the Park – New Book!

I’m excited to share that I’ve published another book. It is a children’s book called Excitement in the Park. All of the animals in the park are excited about the school children coming for a visit. Mr. Owl checks with everyone to make sure they are all ready.

It would be a great introduction for a nature lesson or to prepare students for a visit to a park. During the winter, it would be a nice story to read while inside wishing it were spring. Parents could read it to their young children or teachers could read it to their classes.

I took all of the photographs and most of them were taken in Paris Mountain State Park.

It is aimed for preschool to 3rd grade readers. $1 from each book sale will be donated to Paris Mountain State Park. Please check it out and let others you know about this!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, March 20, 2015

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 3/20/13

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

Pearltrees – visual bookmarking tool (L:T; SA:A)

Thematic – “You can create a Story from your computer or a mobile device. Currently you may upload up to 20 images in your story. We recommend using an image size not larger than 20MB. We will be working on adding support for new file types, but right now we only support the following file types: JPG, GIF.” (L:G; SA:A)

Quizzity – Geography game; it gives you the name of a city and you click on the map where you think it is. (L:H; SA:SS)

National Jukebox – “historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives. (L:G; SA:A)

A Book And A Hug – a book recommendation site (L:T; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley