Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Knowing Better Doesn’t Always Mean Doing Better

cementIn A Head Like Concrete from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

Is your head like concrete about some things? What are they?”

There are times that know I should do something but I don’t. My heart is willing but my head is not.

I know that I should eat sensibly and keep away from a lot of carbs. I am trying to eat more protein and not a lot of carbs and sugar. But then when I’m hungry and the food is in front of me, all sensibility flies out the window. Or if the food at the restaurant is a good price and it is my favorite food, I’m getting it! I know that isn’t the best way to be but I do it. I also think in the morning that I will drink more water so I won’t be so hungry when we eat meals and then I won’t be tempted. But I really don’t like water so I drink diet pepsi which is also not good for you.

I also think if I increase my exercise, it will help with the calorie balance but since we have been traveling, I spend a lot of time in the car and don’t have a chance to walk as much as I like. This is frustrating because when I get home, I have to start from square one all over again. Before our journey, I tell myself that I will get on the treadmill each morning at the hotel but then I don’t. Again, my heart is willing but the head just won’t do it.

I know all the “rules” or suggestions but my head is like concrete and won’t absorb the information.

I can see my students feeling the same way. I can hear them planning on studying and getting good grades but then sensibility (or life) gets in the way. There are more exciting activities than studying. Sometimes they try their best but it still isn’t enough so frustration sets in. In the same way as losing weight for me, their heart is willing but the head is concrete.

I need to appreciate that they may be going through the same feelings that I am about different things. It might be good to openly discuss this. We may be able to find ways to support and encourage each other. Maybe we will be able to find a soft spot in that concrete head.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get around this? Please share.

Image: 'Underground Garages Entrance'
Found on flickrcc.net

Monday, October 20, 2014

Road Trip to New Hampshire and Vermont 2014

Last week we left Maine and headed to New Hampshire and Vermont. Our adventure continues.

Here is the link to my pictures!

10/12/14 – New Hampshire

DSCF0893We left Maine and drove to North Conway, NH for a train ride on the Conway Scenic Railway. It cost $59 per person and lasted for about 5 hours. It was a nice train ride and the fall colors were fabulous! We sat on one side on the way to Fabyan and then they announced that on the way back, everyone had to switch sides. The scenery was beautiful but almost impossible to take good pictures from a moving train.

10/13/14 – Vermont

DSC_0008We had a lovely day in Vermont. We ended up driving along the road that the train traveled by yesterday and we got to look at the sights again from the car. First we took a free tour of a maple sugar factory and bought a box of pure maple candy. Then we went to Cabot where we took a tour of the cheese factory for $2 each. We drove to Stowe but left because we had to find a new hotel room other than the one we booked (see the story below). We stopped in Montpelier and thought the town looked cute but the visitor center rep recommended that we find a hotel room as soon as possible because they fill up fast. We found a cute motel in Barre, VT called Hilltop Inn of Vermont. We had a coupon for $59 and it is a lovely room with a tiny kitchen and sitting area. For lunch, the desk clerk recommended the Wayside restaurant which was absolutely wonderful! Then we did laundry ($10 to wash and dry one load) which seemed to take about 2 hours but at least we have clean clothes now.

Disappointed in an Airbnb reservation we had for tonight. We were supposed to be at a B&B in a double bed/private bath. Yesterday afternoon, the host emails me and tells me that they are going to a museum today and won’t be able to clean that room after the last guest leaves so they moved us to 2 rooms with single beds and no bath. The bathroom is in the hall. She didn’t think I would mind since her and her husband enjoy separate beds when they vacation! We’ve only slept apart 2 times in 32 years! Plus there won’t be anyone there when we get there so just make ourselves at home! Hubby refuses to go into a house with no one there (what if we got the wrong house or what if this is a scam and not really there house!). Plus, how safe would we be or even our belongings because there wouldn’t be anyone there to give us a key. So we called the credit card company and asked for a refund (I was charged for the full amount when we made our reservation in August) and will have to find somewhere else for the next 2 nights.

10/14/14 – Vermont

After breakfast at the motel, we headed to the Rock of Ages visitor center where we bought tickets for the 9:15 tour of the quarry. It cost $5.50 for adults and they gave a AAA discount plus senior discount for Don so we only paid $9.50 total for the 45 minute tour. Art was a great tour guide as we rode the school bus to the quarry. Before the tour though, we watched a short video that explained a little of the background. After the tour, we went into the factory for a self-guided tour where we watched the people make monuments from the slabs of granite. Then we went downtown Montpelier and had a tour of the Capitol building and walked downtown. Don found an antique store right next door to a knitting store! Then we drove to the Hope Cemetery to look at the unusual headstone sculptures made by the sculptors for their own graves. After that we hunted for the floating bridge (road on huge floating barrels) but when we found it, it was under reconstruction and wouldn’t open until 2015. We decided to spend another night at the same hotel as last night since the price was right and included breakfast.

Things I Learned:

1. The pure maple candy has only 40 calories per piece.

2. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

3. Cabot cheese is a coop of many different dairies.

4. Vermont law only allows 25 tons on the roads.

5. Barre granite is monument grade granite and it has feldspar, mica, and quartz in it.

6. Many people have died from the granite dust in their lungs.

7. There used to be hundreds of sculptors (mostly Italian) but now there is only 1 at the factory.

8. Now most of the etching is done with sand blasting and rubber for the stencils.

9. Vermont is the only one of the 6 New England states that is landlocked.

10. There are many nautical themes in the Capitol building.

11. That Capitol building was destroyed once by fire and the portico is the only thing saved from the fire.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Friday, October 17, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/17/14

tools2Here 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

WordWriter Halloween Activities - We've designed some free, downloadable resources to use with our new tool WordWriter, for you and your students to have a creative (and chilling!) October. (L:E; SA:LA)

Interactive Historical Thinking Poster – “Teaching history involves showing students how to use clues from primary and secondary sources to ask and answer good questions.Primary sources give us many clues about the past. They are the evidence—such as letters, newspapers, drawings, photographs, tools, or clothes—from the time period under investigation.Secondary sources are written by historians who use available materials to interpret the past. They provide analysis, summary of historic moments, and change over time.Use this poster with your elementary students to help them learn how to be history detectives.” (L:E; SA:SS)

Fakebook - “’Fakebook’ allows teachers and students to create imaginary profile pages for study purposes.” (L:G; SA:A)

Sound Uncovered – free iPad app; “Explore the surprising side of sound with Sound Uncovered, an interactive book featuring auditory illusions, acoustic phenomena, and other things that go bump, beep, boom, and vroom. From the makers of Color Uncovered—the Exploratorium—this app puts you at the center of the experiment: Hear with your eyes, see with your ears, make and modify recordings, test your hearing, and more. How do you make a saxophone growl? Are there secret messages in music played backward? Why does the sound of gum chewing drive some people mad? Listen up and find answers to these questions and more as you take an auditory trip to the place where sound gets truly interesting: the space between your ears.” (L:; SA:)

Alphabet Organizer – “Engage students and build phonemic awareness by using Alphabet Organizer in the classroom. Students create an alphabet book or alphabet chart with words for each letter of the alphabet. Or choose just one word per letter and upload an image to help early readers make a visual connection between the word and the beginning letter. Alphabet Organizer features our worksaver so that students can save a draft of their unfinished work or share their final work via e-mail.” (L:E; SA:LA)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reading Nonfiction

booksIn In the Eye of the Beholder from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

“Do you turn your nose up at certain types of art or certain genres of books?’

I have to confess that nonfiction is my nemesis. I don’t know why but it is. I have always loved fiction and can read a fiction book quickly. Nonfiction makes me cringe and it takes me much longer to finish a nonfiction book. I don’t know why. Maybe because with nonfiction I have to pay attention and really think. Maybe it invokes feelings that I don’t always like.

I think this is kind of strange because I love watching movies that are based on true stories. Of course, to sell this kind of movie, I’m sure they fictionalize some of it to make it more interesting.

I wonder if my students have this feeling towards assignments that they are given. Maybe it is the type of assignment that they shy away from. It would be interesting to poll them to see what assignments they prefer and what types of reading they prefer. Maybe I can gear my lessons and assignments to their preferences to make it more enjoyable. Then once in a while, I can give them something that is not in their comfort zone to help them broaden their horizons. Knowing that they aren’t in their comfort zone can make me more aware that they might need more help.

One of my goals this year is to read at least one nonfiction book per month. I was wondering if I’m not comfortable with them because I need more practice. Maybe if I read more of them, I will read them more easily and enjoy them more. I have enjoyed the ones I read so the content isn’t the problem.

I like sharing with others that I’m trying to read more nonfiction books and asking them for suggestions. What suggestions do you have for me? Have you read a nonfiction book that you think I might enjoy? Please share.

Image: 'Trial by Sasswood, Esther Sietmann Warner Dendel'
Found on flickrcc.net

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Changing the Way I Teach

boringIn You are boring. What are you going to do about it? From Blogush, Paul Bogush 

“So what are you going to do about it?  Tomorrow just stop.  Stop and look out at your kids.  For the daring amongst you ask your kids…”Am I boring?”  For the daring but not brave, ask your kids to answer the question anonymously on a piece of paper.   For the daring but not ready to make it personal yet amongst you…ask them the question but make it about your lesson or unit.  For those of you who are just curious but not ready to talk about it with your kids…just pause long enough to look at the expression on  each kids face.  Are those the faces you imagined on your kids when you started teaching?  Based on what you see, based on what your hear or read from them…what’s your plan?”

I remember taking a class in public speaking in high school and even in college. I hated it! In fact, I don’t know many people who liked it. Public speaking is hard and scary.

Sometimes I get so involved in my lesson that I forget about my audience. Have you ever told a hilarious joke and then look around and see that no one else gets it? Sometimes I get so excited about my lesson that when I’m done, I look around and no one else is excited like I am. What I am hoping for is that students will pick up my excitement and feel excited about the lesson too.

Sometimes I over practice a lesson and it loses its thrill. Then I teach the lesson and I’m bored before I even get started. Students can pick up these feelings and if I am bored, they will start off being bored.

I need to remember to look at my student’s faces and their body language as I am teaching the lesson. When I see that they are bored or misbehaving, I need to ask questions and check for their understanding. Maybe I’m going to slow and I need to pick up the pace. Maybe I think they don’t understand a concept and I’m over explaining it because they already understand that part. Maybe I’m going too fast and they don’t understand it so I need to slow down. The important thing is that I need to pay attention to my student’s reactions.

I might need to change the activities because I am talking too much and I need to have the students be more interactive. Or maybe there is too much group work and the students are overstimulated and need more direction.

There are no magic solutions to this. The key is for me to gauge my lesson according to how the students are responding to my lesson. If they are bored, I can’t necessarily change their behavior but I can change my own. I can change the way I teach and try to make it more interesting.

What do you do when you think students are bored? Please share.

Image: 'Day 2 - Boring'
Found on flickrcc.net