Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Writing Needs

writingIn What Writers Need from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

What do you need as a writer?”

I love writing, as you can tell from the number of posts I’ve written on this blog. I like writing almost as much as I like talking, which is a lot! This question had me thinking about what my needs for writing are and I realized that I don’t need much in order to write. It was fun to list them so here they are.

1. Time – this is the most important because I hate to be rushed when I write something.

2. Inspiration – I might hear something in the news, or see something that triggers a discussion with my husband which in turn becomes a blog post. I might read someone else’s blog post that makes me want to write a response (like this one). Usually my responses are too long to leave as a comment so I end up writing my own post.

3. My laptop – that is my tool of choice! Sometimes I jot notes down in a notebook so I don’t forget or I leave a voice memo on my phone, but the final writing is done on my laptop.

4. No interruptions – I like to get up early in the morning before my husband gets up so I can write with no interruptions. Sometimes I have to save what I’m writing and come back to it, but the best writing gets done when I’m not interrupted.

What are your needs for writing? Please share.

Image: 'Be seeing you'
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Places We Visited

Places We visited
Make yours @
Make yours @

Thanks to Doug Johnson and his post Where have you been?, I found Big Huge Lab’s Map Maker where I can see all the places I’ve been. I could pick either states or countries and since I know the only states I haven’t been to are Hawaii and Wisconsin, I picked countries. I feel like we have traveled a lot but when I look at the World Map, I haven’t touched the surface! I feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland! I want to hurry hurry hurry and see more of the world! So many places, so little time (and money!).

Check it out and let me know know – where have you been?

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Use of Technology

timeIn Wasting opportunities at ed tech conferences from Dangerously Irrelevant, Scott McLeod shares,

“I wish we had far fewer tools sessions and much more discussion about technology for the purpose of what?, with an emphasis on the what of deeper learning. What do you think?”

This statement had me really think about my own actions over the past few years. It seems like seven years ago I really was into all of the new tools and programs out there. I couldn’t wait to try all of the things and share them with everyone I knew.

Over the past few years I have even given presentations to help others try these new tools and use the different programs in the classroom. I think they were useful at the time.

But now, I think most people have moved beyond that. I don’t see too many new things out there to introduce to teachers. I think there are many variations of the same tools or programs that do the same things in various ways. Most of these things involve just working and practicing using them.

Now is the time to steer our conversations into using these techniques in the classroom for more effective teaching.

I recently went to a seminar on engaging the student in the classroom and was still surprised how it is still an issue and has been for over 30 years that I’ve been teaching. The problem has been that too many advertisements show new tools and programs as the magic for great teaching but there is no magic cure for teaching. Good teaching is just what it says it is – good teaching which may involve tools, programs, and strategies but it is the teacher who directs the teaching not the tools, programs, or strategies.

I also attended a Council for Exceptional Children meeting and that was the topic of discussion also. Teachers are still having that problem in the classroom.

So, I agree with Scott. It is time to start having more discussions on how we can use technology wisely and effectively in the classroom.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please share.

Image: 'wasting time'
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/21/14

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

Augmented Reality in Education – Augmented reality resources for education (L:T; SA:A)

NASA@HomeandCity – interactive site to see how technology developed by NASA affects our homes and our lives (L:G; SA:S)

Klondike Gold Rush – unit developed by the national park service for grades 2 – 8. (L:T; SA:SS)

Newsela – “Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news.” (L:T; SA:A)

Down for Everyone or Just Me – how to tell if the website you are trying is down for everyone or just for you (L:T; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Walking in Their Shoes

shoesIn Benefit of the doubt from Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson states,

“Seems we do this as a species a lot, especially with students. Presume guilt instead of innocence. Forget Hanlon's Razor (Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.) when somebody screws up.

Lighten up. Presume innocence, stupidity, and often a rational explanation. You'll be happier with the human race - and yourself.”

Too many times I am quick to judge people. If I’m annoyed or agitated, I always think the worst of people. I need to think about what it is like if I walked in their shoes.

When a salesperson is mean to me and I complain to my husband, he is always quick to say, “Maybe that person is just having a rough day.” He is much more generous and tolerant of people’s behavior than I am and I wish I was more like him.

I need to remember to do that more in the classroom. When a student doesn’t study or does poorly on a test, I need to be calm and privately question the student to find out what is the reason for this behavior.

Many of my students face obstacles at home that I never had to when I was growing up. I need to understand that they may face challenges like this and be more sensitive. I’m not saying that I should excuse bad manners or rudeness, but if the student shows some behavior that is out of character, I need to look closer at the source.

Sometimes a reprimand from me ends up with a quick apology from a student and we move on. If the student wants to argue or gets upset easily, I need to back off (not back down), calm down, and meet with the student privately. This way the student doesn’t have to put up a show and look tough. I might not be able to solve the student’s problem but it might help to just have someone listen to the problems. Some students feel like no one listens to them. I know this takes time but sometimes it is worth it to put the time in at the beginning than to deal with behavior that explodes later and the consequences are worse.

I have even discussed this with my students. I used to have two small stuffed animals on my desk. If my pretty pink and rainbow dragon was on the desk, I was in a good mood. If I ever put the green angry bull on my desk, it means I’m not having a good day and I need space. The students took this very seriously. One day, I had a student having a bad day and he came in and asked if he could borrow my bull to put on my desk. I told him absolutely! It was a great way for students to self-monitor their own behavior and to help others be more sensitive to their classmates.

So, now I try to bite my tongue before reacting to a student’s behavior and try to put myself in his or her shoes. It helps me from regretting my actions later. Sometimes it calls for strong action and sometimes it calls for a much gentler handling.

How do you feel about this? Please share.

Image: 'Blue power!'
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