Friday, October 31, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/31/14

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

FlipQuiz – “free game-show style boards for educators” (L:G; SA:A)

Peep and the Big Wide World – “Many great activities for you to do, well, anywhere! Written by a preschool teacher who specializes in early childhood science, these easy-to-do ideas are fun ways for you and your kids to learn simple science and math concepts. Each activity extends the math and science ideas of each TV story.” (L:E; SA:M, S)

Freddy’s Fractions - “Compare fractions and collect correct answers, but watch out for submarines! The more answers you get correct the more coins you'll earn. Coins can be used to upgrade Freddy’s powers in 4 different ways -- protect him by adding shells, make him swim faster, keep his correct answer streak going to finish levels faster, and summon his explosive turtle call to scare off dangerous submarines.” (L:E; SA:M)

Congressional Moments“Find out how to use digital primary source materials of the Library of Congress and the Center on Congress.” (L:G; SA:SS)

Novels on Location – Find novels according to the location where they are set. (L:H; SA:LA)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Engaging Students in the Classroom

theaterYesterday I attended a professional development seminar at Furman University. The topic was Engaging Students in the College Classroom: Strategies from the Theater. The presenters were Jayce and Anne Tromsness.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour session and could see how it could easily become a full day session. We seemed to touch the surface of things but didn’t have time to go in depth. It made me want to learn more about the strategies.

There were about 13 of us and from all different departments. It was great to talk to people from other departments and see that we all struggle with many of the same issues.

We talked about the similarities between a director of a production and the instructor. We also talked about how every situation is a story.

Then we discussed strategies for positive engagement and I want to share some of my notes with you.

Don’t blame the audience – lower your status but becoming vulnerable. Share something personal (but don’t go too far) about yourself. Audiences love a vulnerable character. Admit when you don’t know the answer.

Teacher as performer – Teaching is action. Make it simple, based on a verb, something you can do. Look at the process more than the end result.

Listen to William Ball = find the positive. “That was great but…” Rephrase what they say and scaffold to the right answer but using some of their words. Go with the offer that sequences to the right answer.

Incorporate the 3D’s: Discovery, Disclosure, Decision. – Disclosure is like Quincy (TV show) talking to Sam, Disclosure is the aha moments, Decision is the forward action. Make sure you disclose (introduce), discover (reveal and expostulate), and decide (give a definite conclusion). Decision should be the last thing before the class leaves.

Listen to Stanislavski – for the passive student. “whatever is on the buffet table that works for you”; ex: Do you have experience with this situation? If no experience, substitute the closest thing. If that doesn’t work, this situation would be as ____ in order to relate to it. (There is no way out of doing/answering/participating).

Establishing the Given Circumstances – organizing the players. Use CRO/OWW – character, relationship, objective, obstacle, where, and when. We learn through story.

Work with the Stimulus/Response model – too much emphasis on the response and not enough on the stimulus, which leads to more memorization.

The Rabbit Hole – come up with a central idea. Then come up with immediate responses on this (words, songs, etc.). Then where does that lead. Everything is related and we just have to discover what that is.

Quick Exercises for In-Class engagement
1. Anonymity – Beginning of class; index cards, post it notes – what don’t we know. End of class: what do we know now.
2. Connection – I-circle (statement – all who agree move into the middle of the circle); word ball
3. Paraphrase – direct answers or text,, ideas, or practical application
4. 5 minute challenges – improvised or written – presenting an idea, moment, or concept as a story
5. What happens next? What do you do next?
6. Once Upon a Time exercise – one sentence for plot review for each person in the circle. Set a time limit.
7. Creating CRO/OWW with unit/subject and having the characters interact

Image: 'Queue The Last Act'
Found on

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Time with Friends

friendsIn Fierceness from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

“What do you do when you carve out some time with your friends?”

Every Monday night I join a group of ladies at Starbucks for knitting. Sometimes very little knitting happens but a lot of talking goes on. Sometimes we have show and tell where we share the new things we bought. Sometimes we have “tutoring” where someone will help someone with a knitting problem they are having. We discuss books, movies, social trends, things that happened during the weeks, jokes we heard, and many other topics. Sometimes we use the time to vent, celebrate, or just commiserate with each other.

This time to get together is so precious to me and I really enjoy being with my friends. They have different personalities and strengths so all of them are great fun to be around!

I found out too late though that my students with disabilities really don’t know how to have fun with their friends outside of school. Many of my students who graduated now are allowed to be my friend on facebook and I notice that they don’t have many friends their own age. They have their relatives who are their friends and other adults who are friends with their parents but not many friends their own age. Since many of my students were unable to get their driver’s license so they don’t usually leave their home during the day when their parents are working.

I find it sad that I don’t know how I could have helped them plan for recreational activities outside of school. There isn’t any public transportation near their home so they could have to go to places within walking distance. They don’t live near each other and usually the parents don’t want them out alone so we connect through facebook or text messages. They don’t have a job either so they are pretty isolated. There are no agencies that can help them with this either.

Do you have any suggestions that I could give them? Please share.

Image: 'Friendship'
Found on

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Favorite Season

DSC_0006In Global Seasons from On an e-Journey with Generation Y, annemirtschin talks about being a member of several global skype groups and how people across the globe are experiencing different seasons at the same time. Then she asked,

“Which season do you like best and what season is it now for where you live?”

My favorite season is spring! I love how I can see the new growth as it happens. It fills me with hope for fresh beginnings and new starts. I like the thought of new things happening. Things seem brighter and daylight starts getting longer. I like to see the new flowers as they emerge from the bare ground. Sometimes surprises emerge as things that I don’t expect come early or bloom different colors.

Right now it is autumn here in South Carolina. I love the fall colors and the world is beautiful on sunny days. Yet, sometimes I feel a tinge of sadness when I think about things dying and everything seems like it is getting darker. The colors seem to start fading away as winter approaches. Temperatures are getting cooler and I have to wear warmer clothes.

How would you answer the question? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, October 27, 2014

By the Numbers

DSC_0033We got back from our trip up north. Here are some of the statistics:

Days we traveled – 48

Countries we were in (Canada and USA) – 2

States we visited – 13

Canadian provinces we visited – 3

Days we rode on a train (Long Island RR and Conway Scenic RR) – 4

Days we rode the subway (NYC) – 3

Miles we drove – 6407 miles

Cruise – 1

Nights slept on the water – 13

Hotels/Motels/ stayed in – 12

B&B stayed in -1

Reservations cancelled due to no fault of our own - 2

Friends we made – too many to count!

Knitwear factory tour – 1 (Prince Edward Island)

Cheese factory tour – 1 (Cabot Cheese, VT)

Maple Sugar Factory tour – 1 (Vermont)

Granite Factory and Mine tour – 1 (Vermont)

Rainy days – 3

Percentage of budget spent on Food – 18%

Percentage of budget spent on Gas – 6%

Percentage of budget spent on Lodging – 20%

Percentage of budget spent on Other – 56%

Original photo by Pat Hensley