Friday, May 24, 2019

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 5/17/19

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

Wizard School – “ We developed this app with educators, who have taught elementary and middle school, specializing in science, writing, math, geography, music, sports, and design. They created and reviewed all content in Wizard School (over 3000 videos, maps, images) for all grades and ages.” (L:E,;SA:A)

Fun Facts about the US National Parks – “Here are some surprising facts about each of the 59 parks.” (L:G,;SA:A)

The Power of Sunlight! | Science Project for Kids – “Jessi and Squeaks use the power of the sun to conduct a cool science experiment!” (L:G,;SA:S)

Novels on Location – find a location and see what novels are set there or look up novels to find out their setting. (L:H,T,;SA:LA)

Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature – “Listen to audio-recorded readings of former Consultants in Poetry Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks and Robert Frost; Nobel Laureates Mario Vargas Llosa and Czeslaw Milosz, and renowned writers such as Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and Kurt Vonnegut read from their work at the Library of Congress. The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress dates back to 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry. It contains nearly two thousand recordings—of poets and prose writers participating in literary events at the Library’s Capitol Hill campus as well as sessions at the Library’s Recording Laboratory.” (L:G,;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tell Me A Story

In The repetition of stories from Seth Godin's Blog , Seth Godin shares,

“And the same approach works for a feeling of optimism and possibility. Repeating stories (to ourselves and others) about good fortune and generosity makes those stories more powerful.”

I’ve said this opinion many times but I think it bears repeating. We focus too much on negativism in society and not enough time sharing the positive stories. Negative stories seem to promote depression, intolerance, and sometimes even violence. The media tends to promote this especially because negativism sells.

I’m not saying that we should paint the world as a nice pretty place all the time, but we should be realistic. There is probably a positive story for every negative story told.

I think so many of my students struggle because they have told themselves a negative story to themselves so many times that they start believing it. It starts with peers ridiculing them when they struggle. Maybe an adult has suggested that they were lazy or not putting enough effort in to explain why the student is struggling. Parents might complain and reinforce the teacher’s opinion.  When this story is constantly repeated to the student, they start believing it when they may actually have a legitimate reason for their struggle.

I feel it is my job to give my students a new story. I want them to hear a story about success and happiness. I want them to see that it is possible for them to overcome the obstacles in their life and that they are not lazy or incompetent. I want them to see that there are many different ways to conquer the “monsters” that seem to keep them from reaching their goals and that I am here to help them. I will walk beside them in their struggles and be there to support them when they need it.

At first, they are reluctant to believe this story because they have been tricked too many times by the hope for success. I have to show them that I mean what I say and I convince them to take the risk in trusting me. Little by little, I show them that they can be successful and with each positive step, they are rewriting the stories in their minds. I remind them of their success stories when they get discouraged. Eventually, they will have more recent success stories than past failure stories and can progress more easily.

This may be a slow process but I think it is possible to rewrite the stories we tell ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to write a story of success for ourselves and to make it happen. We owe it to our students to help them make their stories happen and learn how to make new stories for themselves.



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Lifelong Learners

Are you making time for your reading and growth? How do you find the time? Do you believe educators should be lifelong learners? 

I am constantly learning every day! Learning means you are interested in personal growth and makes you more knowledgeable about the world around you. Every night I think about what I learned that day because I think it is important to be conscious about my learning and not take it for granted. To me, each day is a clean slate and there are so many opportunities to learn something new. One way I do this is to blog about the new things that I have learned while traveling.

Sometimes knowledge from my earlier learning can really help me at different times. I might not need the information at the time I learned it but it will come in handy in the future.

I also like learning from people who have similar interests whether in person or online. I have learned a lot of knitting from my weekly knitting group and also from my online knitting friends. If I need help, advice, or suggestions about teaching, I can easily go online and ask my educator friends for input.

Traveling is a great way to learn new things! When I am able to go to a new place, I meet new people and learn about different cultures, religions, or local activities that are interesting. Every place we have visited in and out of the country has something unique about it that makes it special. We like to ask locals to tell us the one thing in their town that we should not miss. By doing this, we have a fun conversation with others and many times it makes them think about the special things where they live. I try to think about my town and how I would answer that question if someone asks me.

When we travel, I read blogs from other people who have visited the same places and wrote about it. I try to do the same thing so if I go back to the same place, I will have something to refer back to if needed. If others ask me about the place they plan to visit, I can refer them to my write-up in case my information could help them.

I think it is important that we model being a lifelong learner to our students. I also think we need to teach them how to find ways to learn new things after they leave the classroom. It is also important for them to think about the new things that they have learned.

How would you answer David’s question? Please share.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Worst Job

In Worst job ever? From Blue Skunk Blog by Doug Johnson asks,

“What was your worst job ever? Did it shape you?”

Over the years I have worked at many different jobs and some were better than others.

My first job was as a cashier in the Chinese restaurant that my father managed. At the time I thought it was horrible. I didn’t understand Chinese and I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Plus, it just wasn’t any fun.

Then in the summer, I worked at a camp counselor with children and I loved it.

When I went away to college, I was on campus work/study and I worked in the dining hall, class registration, cultural events, and dormitory “guard” where I had to check school IDs before visitors could enter. All of these were interesting and none of them were horrible.

I also had some side jobs such as babysitting, house cleaning, tutoring, and typing up papers for athletes. None of them really thrilled me but they brought in money.

Once I had a car, I branched out and got summer jobs off campus.

One summer I held three jobs. I worked a morning shift at a motel as a desk clerk which was horrible because the boss was mean and abusive. I only lasted about 3 weeks there before deciding that I didn’t have to take the abuse. I also worked at the mall in a clothing store called Fashion Bug. I enjoyed that because I got a discount on the clothing I bought. On weekends I worked 12 hours at the newspaper office in the complaint department. People called when they didn’t get a paper and I sent someone out to get one to them. I enjoyed that, especially since that is where I met my husband!

After I graduated, I became a teacher and taught for over 30 years! I’ve loved every minute of it!

Now to get on to my worst job:

My first summer home after I was in college, I found a job in a knitting factory. I’m glad that there are people willing to work in a factory but I thought it was horrible. It was hot and there was no air conditioning. It gave new meaning to the word “sweatshop” for me! The job was so monotonous and didn’t really involve any thinking. For 8 hours a day I threaded knitting tubes into coat sweaters as a belt. I stood on my feet the whole day doing this except for my lunch break. Of course, I needed the money for college so I didn’t complain. The best part of this whole experience is that it motivated me to do well in college. Even the workers there loved me and kept telling me that I needed to do well so that I didn’t end up like them in a sweatshop. When I was at college and I felt discouraged, I just thought of that job and the possibility of having to do something like that the rest of my life! That truly was a kick in the pants!

Maybe everyone needs a “worst job” so they can stay motivated to reach their goal.

What was your worst job? Please share.

Photo by Jayden Sun on Unsplash

Monday, May 20, 2019


In “I was wrong” from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“We get stuck defending what we already decided. Because it feels easier to defend than it does to be wrong.”

Most young children are taught early to say I’m sorry when they have done wrong. I think sometimes we teach then to feel shame when something is wrong and that is why as adults, it is hard to admit that we are wrong.

When we make a bad decision, the results do not turn out as we expect or hope for and we see this as a failure.

When we make a mistake in our relationships, we feel this as an inadequacy in ourselves that can’t be fixed. We see this as a flaw in ourselves that we have to live with.

If we take a wrong action unintentionally, we feel shame. We want to hide it so others don’t see us as imperfect.

Luckily, I had an awesome principal who was a great role model for me. When we made a mistake with some information to the parents, he told me that we need to own up to it and write a letter of apology and correction to the parents. Other administrators would have either ignored it or tried to find a way to justify the mistake rather than fix it. By admitting we were wrong and fixing it, it took a lot of stress out of the whole situation. Yes, it was embarrassing that we were wrong but it was better than parent complaints or even possible lawsuit threats.

I have talked to some parents who told me that they would not have sued the school if only someone would have communicated with them and admitted they made a mistake. A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way.

Teaching students that making a mistake is just an opportunity for growth and improvement. No one is perfect. I think it is important to teach students how to handle mistakes and also show it in my actions. When I make a mistake, I tell my students that I made a mistake and even talk aloud about the options I have in order to deal with it. As the students see my thought process and how I decide to handle it, they become more comfortable dealing with their own mistakes.

How do you help your students admit they were wrong? Please share.

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash