Friday, February 12, 2016

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 2/12/16

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

Winter: Everything You Need – From Scholastic; Online activities, lesson plans, discussion guides, and other teaching ideas for celebrating winter(L:E,M; SA:S)

Buncee – “Our buncee.com web-based platform provides users with multiple easy-to use tools to add personal photos, text, drawings, and online content such as YouTube videos, Soundcloud audio, flickr, Google, or public Instagram images into a digital canvas called a ‘buncee’ that can be shared among all your social and private networks with just a few clicks. Our buncee mobile apps, ‘buncee bits’ for iPad and iPhone, and ‘buncee pro’ for iPad give users a quick and easy option to create fun buncees on-the-go! Visit our Mobile Apps page to learn more.” (L:G; SA:A)

Math Vocabulary Cards – free iPad app; Each card features three sections: a math term, a representative example or model, and a concise definition. Each section can be hidden or revealed providing multiple options for practice. Vocabulary cards can be selected individually or by category and switched seamlessly between English and Spanish. (L:E; SA:M)

Slide Hunter – “Download free PowerPoint templates and backgrounds with original slide designs for your presentations. Make awesome PowerPoint presentations with free illustrations or combine nice diagrams for PowerPoint with business characters and avatars to impress your audience. You can download free PowerPoint templates and themes compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, 2007, 2010 and the new Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 but also available to be used on Keynote presentations or Office for Mac.
Download free PowerPoint templates and backgrounds with original slide designs for your presentations. Make awesome PowerPoint presentations with free illustrations or combine nice diagrams for PowerPoint with business characters and avatars to impress your audience. You can download free PowerPoint temple “tes and themes compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, 2007, 2010 and the new Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 but also available to be used on Keynote presentations or Office for Mac.(L:T; SA:A)

Choosito – “Give your students access to curated content and safe web searches. We have built a language savvy tool that can read through web pages and figure out if they are appropriate for your students’ varying reading abilities and topic of research. Choosito innovates in education by offering a technology solution to the problem of finding resources that are right for your students. (L:T; SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Moth Repellent

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will see that I had new shelves built for my office. My pile of “stuff” was all unorganized and just kept piling up so I wanted these shelves. We thought about buying them from Lowes or Home Depot but my husband didn’t like the quality of them so we had a friend make these out of solid wood. I have to admit that I hated the sanding, caulking, and painting of these things but I’m glad the final look was perfect. It was exactly how I imagined they would look!

After sharing photos of my new shelves with friends, someone asked me if I was afraid that the moths would get into my yarn. I wasn’t afraid until she put that idea in my head. We really haven’t had any problems with moths (knock on wood) and I hope I don’t have any now but I will keep a close watch for them.

Then this morning I was watching a podcast while on the treadmill and the podcaster was talking about essential oils. I had forgotten that I read somewhere that lavender scent repels moths and I happened to have a lot of lavender essential oils on hand! I also had some hexipuffs (small stuffed hexagon shaped knitted items) that I thought about making into a blanket but I gave up. I decided that I could put the lavender essential oils on them and put them on each shelf with my yarn. Then hopefully they would repel any moths and it would make my office smell nice!

I thought this would be a fun lesson for students to do. I would have them find out natural insect repellents or natural home remedies that could be used. It is also important to point out that some people may have allergies so not everything should be used or not everything works for everybody. I think they would be surprised at what they would find out. Then I would  have them present their 3 most surprising research to the class.


Do you use any natural insect repellents or natural home remedies? If so, please share.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Meeting Everyone’s Needs

In Curb cut theory applied to education from Blue Skunk Blog by Doug Johnson talks about how curb cuts have benefited more people than just wheelchair users. Then he asks,

“Might this curb cut theory also apply to educational practices? Might interventions we use with our struggling learners benefit every child in a school?”

My husband and I have argued about this for many years. When I talked about having IEP meetings to meet the needs of my students, he always asked why isn’t the school meeting the needs of all of the students? I didn’t have an answer for him then or now.

I was so excited when Universal Design for Learning(UDL) came out because this was something that all teachers could use for all students. But the problem I see over the years is that teachers are coming up with excuses about why they can’t/won’t use this strategy.

During my graduate courses that I teach, I’m requiring that all of my students use UDL when planning their lessons.

I hope with practice that more and more of my students (the teachers) will make this a habit. Instead of having to make a conscious decision to meet the needs of all students, it becomes ingrained and done naturally.

Growing up, I saw too many students expected to fit the cookie cutter mold. Those who didn’t fit the mold, was either ridiculed or ignored. Teachers weren’t surprised when these students failed and focused only on the ones who fit the mold.  There were times that I struggled and felt bad about myself because I felt like I was the only one struggling. This meant that I wasn’t like everyone else and was afraid that the teacher might ignore or bring attention to my differences.

When I became a teacher, I was shocked to see many of my colleagues continuing this practice. I saw students in general education classes whose self concept plummeted when they didn’t fit the norm. I couldn’t be involved because I was a special education teacher and it was hard to watch this from the sidelines.

I don’t think that teachers plan on being this way but many are teaching the way they were taught. It is time to stop teaching that way and teaching the way we wish we were taught.

We shouldn’t just be meeting the needs of special education students. We should be meeting the needs of all of the students and if we aren’t trying, then someone needs to stop and ask why.

What do you do in your classroom to meet everyone’s needs? Please share.