Monday, August 10, 2020

Camping in the Smokies

For more pictures, click here.

We spent last week camping in the Smokies. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is our favorite national park and we spend a lot of time there.

We got to Smokemont Campground on a Monday afternoon. It was so easy to set up our campsite (Site D38). This is our favorite campsite. It is across from the group campsite which was closed. The bathrooms were right across the road and this building has outlets. Since I get up so early, I can plug in my iPad and charge it up if needed. I can get it all charged up before most people are even awake.

We like to go to the Oconoluftee River Trail which is about a 3.2-mile roundtrip hike that starts at the Visitor Center and goes to the town of Cherokee. Every day, we came across elk under the shade trees. On one day, there were several people who were extremely close to the elk to take photos and the male elk gave a bugle warning a couple of times, but the people didn’t move. We went an alternate way off the trail to avoid the elk and the people. For lunch each day, we ate at Subway. They did a great job of wearing masks and gloves as they fixed our sub sandwiches. On one day, we got in the river and played in the water. The water was just like bathwater! (Well, bath water in the dead of winter if you have no heat and no hot water.)

After a few days, we headed to Cades Cove Campground. We had a nice ride over Newfound Gap and stopped to see the views and take photos. We stopped in Townsend for gas and supplies (ice was $2 at the IGA) and lunch at Subway. We camped at site B37 which was a nice site. It was further away from the bathrooms and I had to use our external batteries to charge our electronics. After we set up camp, we went to the camp store and got soft serve ice cream (which we have gotten there for about 30 years when we visit!). I was surprised how much the price has increased (about $5 for a cake cone.) On the first afternoon, it poured down rain pretty heavily. I was so glad we had our Clam screen room and had the optional walls up to keep out the rain. I also had my Little Red Campfire going which made the room toasty warm while it rained. One man called it a “frog strangler” kind of rain.

Most of the trailheads were packed with cars and heavy crowds so we drove to Sevierville and went to the Tanger Outlet Stores. We both needed new tennis shoes and got some from the New Balance outlet store. Then we had a nice drive and lunch in Townsend. We found out our camper refrigerator wasn’t working so we had to put everything back into the cooler and buy ice from the camp store ($4.50). In the evening we walked around the campground and talked with other campers. When we went to bed, it was really hot, humid and miserable. We decided that we would leave in the morning and head for home.

The next morning, Don got up around 7:30 am and by 8:30 am we were packed up and heading home.

Things I Learned:

1. I really like Smokemont Campground D Loop (pull through sites).
2. Smokemont D38 is my favorite site.
3. I like playing in the river even if the water is cold.
4. It is good to have water shoes on in the river.
5. The Oconoluftee River Trail is a wonderful trail.
6. It is more crowded in the campground in the summer months.
7. People don’t wear masks even when asked that they should.
8. It is nice when people respect quiet hours in a campground.
9. There are a lot of mushrooms on the trails in August.
10. Thundershowers are expected in the afternoon during summer.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, August 7, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom

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

North Star Paths – free graphics (L:T;SA:A)

The 100+ Best Virtual Tours and Field Trips for Kids and Students [2020] – “We have compiled the ultimate list of everything from amusement parks to zoos so that you and your little ones can enjoy them from the comfort and safety of your own home!” (L:G;SA:A)

Empatico – “Empatico empowers teachers and students to explore the world through experiences that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy. We combine live video with activities designed to foster meaningful connections among students ages 6-11.’ (L:E;SA:A)

The Inspiration Walk – “The Inspiration Walk is an immersive audio learning experience designed to help you see things differently. It's an exercise in observation and synthesis that gets your body and mind moving into unexpected territory. Use it to find inspiration on a challenge that matters to you.” (L:G;SA:A)

Sending Smiles – “Over 50,000 cards have been decorated and mailed across the United States to sick children in hospitals, 25+ different Ronald McDonald Houses, and to children fighting battles at home. This is a quick fun activity that allows you to make a difference in the life of a sick child at no cost to you. We mail you everything you need to be a smile maker! Teachers, this is a great lesson demonstrating compassion and caring for others. This is a fun service project for girl/boy scouts, sport teams, and youth groups. Organizational leaders, this is a great way to team with your staff. BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF A SMILE- You can make a difference!!!!” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Online School

This summer I ran a summer program where my teachers taught children for 2 hours a day twice a week. The teachers did a great job but there were so many variables that cause a lot of obstacles for the children. I’m not sure they were able to absorb instruction like they did when we had face-to-face classes.

Even if they do some kind of hybrid school year, I fear that students won’t get the quality of instruction that is only possible by having face-to-face classes. Students will go face to face part of the week and the other days they will attend class virtually. Students and Teachers are going to find it very hard to remember which day they are doing which classes. Many will be unprepared and confused. Students will be extremely frustrated and this will affect their learning.

I worry about all these hybrid schedules that the districts are making. What about the parents who work? How will parents be able to get childcare for only a few days and those days can vary depending on the Covid-19 numbers in the community?

What will the schools do when most of the teachers test positive for the virus and are out for at least 14 days or more? Where are all the substitute teachers coming from? Will they be willing to risk their health for the low pay that they will get?

My husband believes that students are going to get lazy and not want to go to school. A whole generation of students will become lacking in an education!

I believe teachers are going to have to work hard to make online schools engaging and interesting. They are competing with gaming platforms and TV! Teachers are going to have to change the way they present material and think of ways to really hook students in!

How do you feel about online schools and hybrid learning? Please share.

Photo by Ozan Safak on Unsplash

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Recent Scrapbook Pages

I haven’t’ shared my recent scrapbook pages with you and thought I would. I have been enjoying doing these again. I get my kits from the website – GingerScraps. It is very motivating to belong to the group on GingerScraps because each month they have a monthly challenge. If you do 10 of the individual challenges by the end of the month, they send a free kit. I have gotten many free beautiful kits that way. It is very motivating and getting 10 pages done is very doable.

I also think this would be great for students to share their knowledge of a topic. It would be a great assessment tool.

I hope you enjoy my pages.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Summer Learning Place 2020 Review

This year my summer program – Summer Learning Place 2020 – was taught virtually. I had eight teachers and 32 children. There were 2 teachers and 8 children per classroom and each classroom was held on Zoom from 9-11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I asked the teachers to reflect on whether they achieved their goals, how they may have changed from the first week, a summary of the eight weeks, and whether it met their expectations. I enjoyed reading their reflections and I think everyone felt like they had grown professionally and that the whole experience was better than expected.

My goals were:

1. Help my students (the teachers) as much as possible to make this class meaningful.
2. Give constructive suggestions for online teaching.
3. Look at ways that I can make this online class better for the next time it is taught online.

I believe that I achieved all three of my goals and it was a very positive experience for me also. I think the program went well but I never had any doubts that it could be done.

It was very hard to not be in the classrooms face to face for me. Every year I get to know the children and enjoy seeing them every day. This year I didn’t get to know any of the children very well and I missed that part.

I think it was very hard to teach three subjects in a two hour period and if I have to do this again, I will only require them to teach reading and math. Time management was a major issue for everyone but it may be because they were trying to squeeze three subjects in. In spite of that issue, everyone did a great job of teaching. I enjoyed observing all of the lessons.

I learned a lot about teaching online and how there need to be some adjustments compared to teaching face to face. Here are some things I learned (not in order of importance):

· If using Zoom, set it up so everyone is “mute on entry.” This will help if there is anything inappropriate being said in the background.
· Have students use headphones or headsets. The children didn’t use them and there were a lot of background distractions. I should have enforced this.
· Take time, in the beginning, to go over a checklist of necessary materials (pen, pencil, crayons, blank paper, worksheets, manipulatives).
· Plan at least an hour for every subject. Make sure students have a break every 20 -25 minutes. It may be sooner depending on the age of the children.
· Incorporate as much movement as possible online.

If you have had to teach a class online, what other suggestions would you give? Please share.