Monday, July 21, 2014

Rockets Red Glare - Book Review

RocketsRedGlareI recently was asked by Flowerpot Press to review the book Rocket’s Red Glare by Peter Alderman and illustrated by Bea Moritz. I am not being paid to give this review but here it is. This book which includes a CD sells for $16.99SRP and has 31 pages. This would be a great book in an elementary school classroom or library.

I have to start off by saying that I don’t think we do enough to teach our students about patriotism like we used to do. They don’t realize what a great country we live in and the sacrifices that people made throughout history to make it great. I was thrilled to a book like this and I thought it was an awesome book! Not only were the illustrations wonderful but the way the story was written was also wonderful. I felt anticipation and excitement as I turned each page and I think it would truly appeal to students in the same way.

This book could be used for recreational reading or as a classroom tool in the following areas:

Reading – The story is rich with vocabulary words such as fluttering, mast, patriotism, perilous, flagship, and defensive. It would also be great for using in teaching predictions before turning to the next page.

History – Overview of the War of 1812, the story of our national anthem, President James Monroe, Fort McHenry.

Social Skills – opens discussion for keeping your word, helping friends

Art – Make a US Flag

Music – Learn the national anthem.

I definitely recommend this book and think it should be on a school shelf whether in the library or the teacher’s classroom.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/18/14

tools1Here 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

Notezilla – “Notezilla is the first tool out there that successfully brings high quality audio and sheet music together. Our sheet music is synced to real recordings, so users can listen to the recording of a piece while easily studying the underlying sheet music.” (L:H; SA:FA)

World Digital Library – “The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.” (L:G; SA:A)

Cost Of Living Map – click on a state to see how much it costs to live there. (L:G; SA:A)

Molecular Workbench - Is a modeling tool for designing and conducting computational experiments across science, Provides an authoring system for instructional designers to create and publish model and simulation-based curriculum materials, Delivers an interactive learning environment that supports science inquiry, Is free and open-source. (L:H; SA:S)

Diffen – compare two things (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Excellent Habits for an Effective Special Ed Teacher

effectiveI am currently teaching a practicum for teachers who are getting their Master’s degree in Special Ed. We were discussing yesterday in our meeting about some habits for teachers and decided that I would make a list of excellent habits for an effective Special Ed teacher. I’m afraid that there are some misconceptions that new teachers have about what makes a great (or effective teacher). So, here is the list that isn’t in any order of importance:

1. Get a good night’s sleep – If you are up all night grading papers, then you need to look at your time management behaviors. Staying up all night doesn’t make you more effective; it just makes you more tired.

2. Eat lunch – Skipping lunch to do more work doesn’t make you more effective. It just makes you hungry, cranky, and not as mentally alert as you need to be.

3. Ask for help – It is better to ask for help when you need it than worrying that it makes you look incompetent. But, if someone helps you with a task that you may be required to do more than once, I recommend taking notes so you don’t have to keep asking for help about the same thing. This makes you look incompetent.

4. Start your day off by planning on it being a great day! – Your mental attitude will help you get through whatever curves that life throws you.

5. Stay ahead of your paperwork – If something needs to be done, get it done that day and don’t put it off. Paperwork seems to multiply on its own if you let it simmer. Then it becomes overwhelming.

6. Organize right from the start – Don’t pile things up with the plan that you will organize later. Think about your system and begin immediately. This will help you when you need to find something required immediately. But this isn’t written in stone and you can always tweak your system as you need it along the way.

7. Behavior Plan – Have a behavior plan right from the start. Don’t create one when you suddenly think you need it because that is like closing the barn door after the horse is out.

8. Be tough – It is easier to start out tough and ease up than go the other way.

9. Be fair – Make sure that you are treating everyone with the same standards. You can give accommodations and modifications but your values should not change.

10. Be prepared – Run off papers early in case the copy machine breaks down.

11. Emergency Lesson Plans – Have a set of lessons in case you suddenly can’t make it to school. You never know when you might be sick or have a family emergency so it is easier to have them already completed.

12. Be flexible – In over 30 years of teaching, no day was alike. What may have worked on one day may not work the next. It is important to fill your “toolbox” with different tools to use for different situations on different days. The more tools you have, the more options you will have.

13. Develop a support system – It might be close friends or family members but you need someone you can share your worries, doubts, and successes with. This support will boost you when you feel down and celebrate with you when you feel great!

14. Drink plenty of water – stay hydrated which will give you energy and keep you healthy.

15. Take a multivitamin – Let’s face it, you aren’t going to eat right, no matter how you try.

What habits would you add to the list? Please share.

Image: 'Day 25 / 365 ~ 2014 Its+all+about+Balance~+if+you+like+my+work+fav+it+so+simple+indeed+!'
Found on

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Smarts or Friends

focusYesterday I had a friend come visit with her daughter who is in 7th grade and my friend wanted my opinion as a teacher. Which is more important: Smarts or Friends?

My friend is worried that her daughter is making enough friends and learning social skills. She is worried that her daughter is spending too much time with books and being solitary outside of the swim team that she is on.

Meanwhile, her daughter tells me that she likes to read (She is reading The Three Musketeers) and believes that she needs to concentrate on being smart. She thinks that smart people can learn to be social but social people can’t learn to be smart.

I felt that the important thing for this young lady was balance.

I feel honing your intelligence is always important but not to where it isn’t the only thing in your life. It is good to concentrate on getting good grades and learning important information. It is good to keep your focus on learning when in the classroom.

Yet, learning social skills can only be learned when you interact with your peers. That is when we learn acceptable behavior in society with our parent’s guidance.

Let’s face it, middle school age is a tough time for boys and girls. Everything seems so difficult when your hormones are raging and everything is so confusing. It is hard to determine right from wrong when you are facing peer pressure.

I’m not sure if my young friend is having difficulties with making friends and hiding behind her “smarts” as an excuse.

I explained to her that when filling out a college application that most admissions officers look to see if the applicant is well balanced. They don’t want someone who just has good grades but are looking to see what extracurricular activities this person is involved in. It might be a sport or a volunteer activity or some other type that involves teamwork and collaboration.

So, I’m not sure I told either one what they wanted to hear. Which do you think is more important and why? Please share.

Image: 'I so need to FOCUS a bit+more+on+the+simple+things+in+life~EXPLORED+[+Way+over+10,000+Views+thanks+everyone+]'
Found on

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

bookOr a student or class either.

As our summer program began, I assigned some teachers to a class that may have been out of their comfort zone. After reading their blog posts, I learned how apprehensive some of them were.

Yet, they stiffened their shoulders and jumped right into their assignments. They didn’t whine and groan about how they didn’t want to be there. Instead they tried to make the best of a situation they weren’t thrilled about.

Over the past week, I have seen their students blossom and thrive. I have also seen the teachers blossom too. They have reached beyond what they thought they could do and really seem to be enjoying themselves. They have gotten past their anxieties and now actually feeling the thrill of it all.

These teachers were able to assess the student’s needs and developing goals for the students to work on during our program. With a direction in mind, the teachers are creating activities that meet each student’s needs. I love when I see the whole class engaged in an exciting lesson and especially love when the students come to show off their work.

How many times do I do this in my own life – professional and personal? I need to keep an open mind and be willing to try new challenges. I need to keep an open mind because without new challenges, I become stale and boring. With each new challenge I am also growing to be a better person.

Do you judge first or are you willing to face up to the challenge? Please share.

Image: 'The book'
Found on