Friday, January 22, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 01/22/2021

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

Fossils 101 – “Fossils are echoes of an ancient past. Find out about the two major categories of fossils, how fossilization occurs, and how fossils can help paint a picture of the planet's history.” (L:G;SA:S)

A simple way to break a bad habit – “Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they're bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.” (L:G;SA:A)

Teach Phys Ed – “ A source for physical educators.” (L:T;SA:PE)

Loop – “student feedback made easy” (L:T;SA:A)

Cloze Generator – “Cloze Quiz Generator” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Teacher Burn Out

In Burned out/burned in by Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“Burn out, on the other hand, is often caused by trying to control things that we can’t possibly control. “

Over the years, I have seen many new teachers burn out quickly in the field of teaching.

I know when people start a new career, they are gung ho and want to give 110% to the start of this new venture.

Teaching is a totally different animal. I like to give advice to new teachers in hopes that the good ones will stay in the field and not get burned out. I think it is time to give this advice again so here are my pearls of wisdom that have come from teaching over 30 years and still loving it! Here are things that you can control and will help you from burning out. 
  • Pace yourself. You don’t have to do everything at the same time.
  • Keep a calendar and consistently write down when things are due.
  • If a form can be completed now, do it and submit it immediately.
  • Keep copies of everything you submit (take a photo or scan it into your computer).
  • Every morning take the time to write a list of the things you need to do today. Then prioritize the list. At the end of the name, mark off what was completed. Those not completed can be added to tomorrow’s list.
  • Be prepared. Get a few days head start on materials that you need for an upcoming lesson. Don’t wait until the day before to gather these items.
  • Copy papers a few days before they are needed in case the copy machine breaks.
  • Remember that you can’t save every student.
  • Reflect at least weekly on your lessons. What was the purpose of the lesson? How did the students react? What could you do differently? What went well?
  • Get a hobby! Have something you do that relieves your stress.
  • Take your lunch break. Don’t work through it!
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Cranky teachers aren’t very successful in the classroom.
  • Exercise to relieve stress. You can walk 15 -30 minutes a day. Believe me, this will make a difference in your life!
  • Develop a support group. Find like-minded people that you can bounce and share ideas for your classroom instruction.
  • Avoid negative people. Those people that constantly have nothing good to say about the school, their class, the parents, or life, in general, can be toxic to be around. Stay away from them.
What other advice would you give new teachers in order to avoid burn out? Please share.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

School of Life

In The “Short” Guide to Life from Engage Their Minds, the author shares about a podcast that he was listening to and something that stuck with him.

“Short reminisced about a tough period he was going through in his late twenties when he first asked himself, “What if your career was one of nine courses you took?” He explained that you could still get a “good GPA” even if you didn’t do well in one of the categories. You can read about the categories in this article by Ben Carlson. The comedian/actor reflects on his performance in each category about once a year.”

The article states these are the nine categories that Martin Short used to review his life each year:

“Category 1: Self. Your own personal health and safety.
Category 2: Immediate Family. The proverbial spouse and children.
Category 3: Original Family. The people you grew up with.
Category 4: Friends. The health of your friendships.
Category 5: Money. Right or wrong, the scorecard most people pay attention to.
Category 6: Career. How fulfilling your work is.
Category 7: Creativity. Your innate creativity outside of work.
Category 8: Discipline. Having the self-control to implement your goals.
Category 9: Lifestyle. Are you actually having any fun?”

I thought it would be fun to have my students do this review along with me.

Looking back at 2020, I think I did pretty well.

Cat. 1 – Grade: A. I self-quarantined with my husband for 9 months. We wore masks when we went out in public and we only went out when we needed groceries or had a doctor’s appointment. We did not do any large social gatherings. In December, we did go to stamp club meetings in person but there were only about 10 people in a large gym and everyone maintained social distancing.

Cat. 2 – Grade: A. I love being with my husband 24/7 and we have been this way for the past 13 years since we retired.

Cat. 3 – Grade: B. My sister lives hundreds of miles away and I have seen her in person for years. We tried to take the Amtrak train up to see her but had to cancel due to Covid. Her husband of almost 50 years died suddenly of heart failure in July and I couldn’t go in person to support her.

Cat. 4 – Grade: B. I didn’t keep in regular contact with some friends that I should have.

Cat. 5 – Grade: A. We spent a lot less because we weren’t able to travel. We were able to save a lot of money and buy my parent’s house after they died.

Cat. 6 – Grade: A. I’m agreed to teach 2 more courses for Furman even though I’m “retired.” The 2 courses are fully online. I’m still teaching 1 course every July and this past July the course was taught online which was extremely challenging.

Cat. 7 – Grade: C. I’m not very creative and I need to work harder on that. I want to do more knitwear designs this year.

Cat. 8 – Grade: A. I accomplished the goals that I set for last year and I’m extremely proud of that. This is the first time I was able to meet all of my goals.
Cat. 9 – Grade: A. I am enjoying my life. I have several hobbies that I can choose from at any time. I love to read, knit, crochet, spin yarn, and garden. I also love to travel which I have really missed this year but I‘ve been able to do other things anyway. I also love being able to get on Zoom to meet with others.

So overall, I did okay but I can do better. Now that I know what categories I will evaluate, I may do a better job this year.

I always think it is a good idea to teach students how to reflect on their behavior and actions. The more we are honest with ourselves about how we have done, the better we can be in the future.

Give this a try. How did you do in each category? Please share.

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

It’s All in Your Perspective

I never really hated the cold weather until we have spent a few months in Florida where cold means turning off your air conditioning. We came back home to South Carolina and I have the heat on full blast. When we were in Florida, we still wore shorts and t-shirts while the locals wore long pants and coats. Since we’ve been back home, I’ve worn layers of clothes, wool sweaters, wool socks, and a jacket but I still feel cold! Yet everyone here says the weather is mild for this time of year.

It’s all in your perspective.

This also applies to the classroom. As a teacher, I feel that many skills should be easy for my students and I take a lot of things for granted. I need to remember what it is like for a new learner and plan as if everything is going to be hard. I make sure that I include every step even if I think the student already knows how to do that step. This way, if they don’t know the step, it will be there to help them. If they do know the step, they can skip it and go on to the next step.

Another way that has an impact is how I introduce the new skill. I let students know why they are learning this skill and how they will use it in real life. I let them know that I believe they can do this easily if they follow the steps. Plus, I let them know that if they have any difficulty, I will be there to help them. I set the stage for their success. The belief that they can succeed can make a big difference in their mindset. If they believe they can do it, they will put a bigger effort into it. If they believe it is too hard for them, they will give up before they really give it a try.

During the learning and exploration stage, I encourage my students to help each other. They are seeing this lesson from a different angle than I am. Sometimes they will have a helpful suggestion for someone else that worked for them. I might have overlooked something because I am able to do the task but as they are learning it, they might see a step that I had left out. They also might see a shortcut that might help someone else.

Allowing different perspectives can help everyone be successful in learning a new skill.

How do you allow for different perspectives? Please share.

Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash

Monday, January 18, 2021

Doodle for Google Contest

The Doodle for Google contest has started again. Grades K-12 can enter the contest.

“We're excited to see some strong doodles this year! Students can work with any materials they want, but all doodles must be entered using the entry form. Parents and teachers can mail us the completed entry form or submit it online as a .png, or .jpg. The contest is open for entries until February 26, 2021 11:59pm Pacific Time (PT)…

Doodles will be judged on the following parameters:

Artistic merit: Based on artistic skill

Creativity: Representation of the contest theme, use of the letters in the Google logo, and the unique approach to the doodle

Theme communication: How well the contest theme is expressed in both the artwork and the written statement

Doodles will be grouped and judged by the following 5 grade groups:

  • Grades K-3
  • Grades 4-5
  • Grades 6-7
  • Grades 8-9
  • Grades 10-12
Finalists will be judged on a state-by-state basis as described below.
  • State and Territory Winners:10 or more winners for each grade group, 54 in total
  • National Finalists:1 finalist for each grade group, 5 in total
  • National Winner: Featured on”