Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life’s a Carnival - Education Buzz Edition #5

carnival4 Another edition of the Education Buzz Carnival is up and running at Bellringers! Don’t miss out on all the fun! See what is going on in the Edusphere. My article on From the Salamander’s Point of View is there but there are lots of other great articles to read too! See you there and don’t eat too much cotton candy!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Carnival by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Want To Be Sticky

ticky I recently read the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is not a book review but rather notes of things I don’t want to forget. There were ideas here that made an impact on me become some of the stuff I already do and I didn’t know why I do it that way or the significance of what I do. I began to wonder if I’m consistent in doing things and knowing how important it is, I hope I do it more often. If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it and I’m glad that I took the time to read it.

The book emphasizes seven basic principles using the acronym of SUCCES: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, story. I began to think about whether I use these in my classroom. I also looked at the lessons that I know really worked well and those that didn’t. I can analyze these and see the ones that didn’t work are the ones where I skipped these principles. When I looked at the ones that were successful, I saw the seven principles could be clearly seen.

Simple is very important. I have a relative that tells these long complicated stories whenever I get in a conversation with him and before he finishes the second sentence, I have drifted elsewhere. I can see his lips moving and hear sound come out of his mouth, but I quit trying to process what he is saying. It is too much work for me to try to figure out the point of what he is saying.

As for unexpected, I think it is important to think about what the students may assume. Sometimes their preconceived ideas can affect their attitudes so if I can stay ahead of them, sometimes I can surprise them. This surprise keeps them engaged into wanting to know more.

Concrete is a definite must. Many of my students have a hard time understanding the abstract if they can’t figure out the concrete part. I think most people are that way but we take it for granted that everyone knows this. I need to look at my lessons and make sure that when I introduce them, it is something they can see and experience.

I love to tell stories and I guess it helps me from being bored when I teach a lesson. If the lesson is boring to tell it, then I’m sure it is boring to hear it. So I like to throw in a story or two to keep us all interested. I believe that in my stories, I include the credible and the emotional part altogether. Knowing that something actually happened helps make it credible and usually if I remembered it, it is because it had some emotional impact on me. This emotion is something I want to share with my students.

When we do some review before a test, sometimes my students need a prompt to come up with the answer. I usually can remind them about the story that I told. When they recall the story, they are able to come up with the correct answer.

If you get a chance to read this book, I hope you take the time. If you have already read it, do you have any suggestions or comments to add? What was your opinion of the book?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'NASCAR Duct Tape, in association with 3M' by: Sean Neakums

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blogging and Me

blogging Bill Gaskins (author of Creating a Path for Learning in the 21st Century) asked me to talk to his Digital Writing class about my Personal Learning Network and Blogging. I jotted some notes down in case I ran out of things to say (You can stop laughing now!)

I first got on Twitter in January 2008 and found Bill on there. I was so excited to find someone from SC. I started accumulating educator friends and then adding their educator friends. From Twitter I started finding educational blogs to read and adding them to my Google Reader. Right now I subscribe to 317 blogs.

Reading other people’s blogs made me itch to try my own hand at it. At first I thought “I know nothing about blogging! What am I thinking?” I started this blog 3 years ago in 2007 when I retired. I told myself that I would give it a try because I had nothing to lose. I decided to use blogger which is free and I already had a laptop with an internet connection so why not? As of today, I’ve had over 212, 000 page views! I’m still truly amazed that anyone would want to read something I write!

When I retired, I decided that I had all these wonderful experiences and knowledge about teaching that I wanted to share with others. Of course, my hubby says I would talk to the wall about teaching if no one else listened! I thought that others could learn from things that I learned the hard way. Maybe I could help others in ways that I wish someone had helped me. So, I started my blog. I did a lot of reading other blogs to decide how I wanted to develop my blog. I noticed the ones that I liked and why so that I could mimic the same style. I also noticed the ones I didn’t like so that I didn’t write the same way. I’m not saying those are wrong, but they just aren’t the ones that I like to read but others might like them.

I have learned so much through blogging. I learned more about myself and what I believe in. This made me climb off the fence and state my opinion. Sometimes I’ve had to defend it which is good too. I also learned by reading others and writing how it affected me.

One of the people in class asked me what I was afraid of. I was afraid that I would say something wrong or have people disagree with me. One way that really helps me that instead of telling people what they should do, I tell people what I do in my own classroom and what works for me. They might disagree with me but I can say that I know it works for me in my own situation and it might not work for them. This actually made me feel more comfortable with my writing.

If I had to give them suggestions, here are some suggestions I would give:

Know why you are blogging. What is your purpose? This may help you narrow down your writing.

Know your audience. Who are you writing for? How will you get your message to them?

Make it interesting. If you are bored writing it, more than likely, someone will be bored reading it.

Quote other blogs and write about them. Share your feelings. This opens up conversations about different topics and through the conversations, we all can learn from each other. (I also feel so honored and thrilled when someone refers to me in their blog so I bet others feel the same way.)

Let others know that you posted a new post. Self promotion is good! At first I felt uncomfortable doing this but then I realized how much I wanted to know when others posted. I needed to do the same. Now I post on Plurk, Twitter, and Facebook when I have a new post.

Have I left anything out? What other advice would you give to new bloggers? Please share.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Oh no, here come the Bloggers' by: Brett L.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nature’s Villains and Heroes

033 (For pictures: click HERE. For video of Ranger Tim talking about turkey vultures: click HERE.)

Hello everyone. I’m Olivia the Owl coming to you from National Wildlife Radio. If you missed our weekly show last night, I’m posting the transcript of the interviews that took place. I had a wonderful time interviewing many villains and heroes that you might encounter in nature. I hope you enjoy them. Stay tuned next week because I will have another great show!


Olivia: Welcome to the National Wildlife Radio. Tonight I will be interviewing a lot of interesting guests who have an impact on the world around us. Our first villain tonight is Wilma the Wooly Adelgid. Welcome Wilma!

Wilma: Thank you Olivia for having me here tonight. You picked a great time actually because I had just finished some tasty hemlock when you called me.

Olivia: Hmmm. Yes, well, Wilma, please tell us more about the wooly adelgid and your life. Our guests are very interested in why you are destroying their forests.

Wilma: Well, I don’t really consider it destroying because I see it as my way of life. I don’t mean to be the villain because I can’t help it if I love those hemlocks! First of all, let me tell you how we arrived here. My ancestors arrived in the 1950s in the Shenandoah Valley on ornamental hemlocks from Asia. They loved it here so much that they headed north and spread out. Of course, they didn’t get really established and noticed until the 1980s when we started cleaning out all of the hemlocks in our path. We lay eggs in this wooly waxy stuff to protect them. If something tries to eat them, they will spit them out. We can lay two generations of eggs in five months around March to May. In June and July the eggs are laid but stay in hibernation. By the end of November, those developed from larva become adult and start feeding. Temperature drops, light changes, moisture changes are signals to become adults and begin feeding so more eggs can be laid in March.

Olivia: How do you move from tree to tree?

Wilma: We move on small mammals or catch a ride on the wind or raindrops. Sometimes birds will give us a lift without knowing it too. Of course we don’t let them know we are catching a ride because we are usually eating away their home.

Olivia: So, you think that you cannot be stopped. Is that true?

Wilma: Yes. Scientists are introducing some beetle from Japan that will take us out but we will find ways to outmaneuver them. Our families are banding together to find a way to wage war against them and no one will know how we will do that.

Olivia: Well, thank you Wilma for coming on our show. Hopefully one of our staff will show you out. (whispers: And hopefully that beetle from Japan is waiting for you outside that door!) Our next villain is Cindy the centipede. Welcome Cindy!

Cindy: Thanks Olivia. I’m glad to be here.

Olivia: Tell us about your day yesterday. You had some excitement?

Cindy: Oh yes. Ranger Tim brought a group of students out to find invertebrates on the forest floor. They sifted through the leaf stuff on the ground and found lots of interesting things such as ants, spiders, millipedes, snails, slugs, worms, red velvet mites, yellow jackets (and their nest), and earwigs.

Olivia: It sounds wonderful. Now, would you tell us the difference between you and a millipede? You both look so much alike to me.

Cindy: Well, centipedes are venomous and we kill our prey. Plus we have one leg per segment. Millipedes are poisonous and have 2 legs per segment.

Olivia: Well, thanks Cindy for being here today. One of the staff will show you the way out. And please don’t kill Millie the Millipede. She is quite frightened of you. Now our next guest is a good friend Teddy the Turkey Vulture. Some people think he is a villain and others think he is a hero. Hello Teddy!

Teddy: Thank you Olivia. I’m so glad to be here. Yes, some people feel that I’m a villain because I’m not as pretty as other birds and because I find eating dead stuff delightful! Hmm, is that a dead rat over there in the corner?! Oh, sorry, I get so easily distracted.

Olivia: Ummm, oh yes, well Teddy, let’s leave lunch for later, okay? Will you share with us some information about the area where you live?

Teddy: I live in the Blue Ridge Escarpment which is an abrupt change in elevation from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the piedmont. As the temperature changes, so does the flora and fauna. Moisture increases. Right now in the fall you will see a lot of blooming asters including White Snakeroot, New England Asters and Goldenrod.

Olivia: It seems like there are a lot of visitors at Caesar’s Head State Park right now. Can you tell us why they are there?

Teddy: Yes, they are there to see the Hawk Migration and many are volunteers to count how many hawks go through here.

Olivia: And how do you feel about this hawk migration?

Teddy: Well, a lot of us local birds have mixed opinions. Many feel aggravated because these hawks come in and take over the best homes and eat a lot of the food that is available. In fact, some may even bully the locals and eat them for dinner. The songbirds usually fly about early in the morning before the hawks get lively so they don’t get eaten. Others like me are just used to this happening and don’t let it bother us. Usually during this time, I find lots of extra food and even invite the relatives to visit to help eat on the buffet.

Olivia: Why do these hawks come here and how do they know where to go?

Teddy: This area is famous for the thermals that occur and make it easy for birds to get lift in order to fly longer distances. In fact, this area is well advertised in many of our aviary travel magazines! It is kind of nice to live in a tourist attraction I guess. Now, when migrating, the hawks have an internal compass, use the sun and light, as well as follow their buddies so they know which direction to go. Of course the ones that are too old, too sick, get lost, or give up and die become dinner for me! Yummy.

Olivia: Well, we appreciate the information you gave us Teddy and we hope to see you again soon (but hopefully not as dinner). Now our last guess is Penny the Praying Mantis. Hello Penny. Where did you encounter a group yesterday?

Penny: Hi Olivia. The same group that Cindy saw came over to Bald Rock Heritage Preserve to look at the area. I guess I surprised them when I hopped on Ranger Tim’s shoulder to get a better look at what he was talking about.

Olivia: Oh, and what did he share with the group?

Penny: He showed them different types of lichens (crustose, foliose, fruiticose, squamulose), citrus grass, and Appalachian Fame Flower. The group seemed very interested in the things they saw here. Of course some were fascinated by seeing me even though I’m not native to this area. Ranger Tim was glad that I wasn’t choosing him for a mate since I’d have to kill him! LOL

Olivia: Yes, I’m glad you didn’t have to kill the ranger Penny. Rangers are our friends and seem to understand our role in nature. I’m sorry to say we have run out of time for this show. I want to thank all of our villains and heroes for joining us. And until next time, have a great week!

(Having students act out different characters is a great way to learn information. Writing the character’s script would be a great way to improve reading and writing as well as integrating content. Have you ever done this with students? If so, how did it work? What advice would you give?)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, September 24, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/24/10

tools1 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!

Profile in Courage Essay Contest – “The annual John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest invites high school students from across the nation to write an original essay about an elected official who has demonstrated political courage.”

Thought Audiofree downloads of audiobooks

Picturing America – “Picturing America, an exciting new initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities, brings masterpieces of American art into classrooms and libraries nationwide. Through this innovative program, students and citizens will gain a deeper appreciation of our country’s history and character through the study and understanding of its art.” Lesson plans are also available.

Icould – “icould gives you the inside story of how careers work. The icould storytellers relate, in their own words, their real life career journeys. There are nearly 1000, they are easy to search, they are very varied and each is unique. From telecoms engineers to police officers, from landscape gardeners to web designers, from engine drivers to zookeepers; they talk about what they do, what it’s like, how they came to be where are and their hopes for the future.”

Story Corps – “…StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our broadcasts on public radio and the web.”

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Backchanneling at Conferences

audience In I felt naked…, Paul Bogush says,

“I have always been a bit undecided about the whole backchannel and people surfing the web thing at conferences.”

This had me thinking about how I feel towards backchanneling and realized that it doesn’t bother me.

As a presenter, I am offering information to others and how they receive it is up to them. I feel that these people chose to be there and as a professional, I need to treat them as adults and not children forced to be in my class. If people are so bored with my presentation and they are surfing the web, then the problem lies with me and not them. I need to engage them enough to where they want to surf in order to get more information about my topic or lead them to asking other questions. I want them to want to know more about what I’m sharing and hopefully the next time I present, they will want to hear more about what I have to say.

I went to one presentation where the presenter encouraged people to get out their laptops and use their cell phones. Throughout his presentation, he surveyed people and asked them to respond either by using their laptops or cell phones. That is a great way to make the presentation interactive and it helped me pay attention better because I was waiting for this opportunity.

I have taught graduate classes and encouraged my students to bring their laptops to class. I see my lessons as a presentation just like I would do at a conference. When I share new tools or concepts, I encourage them to go to the website that I’m talking about so they can see if they have any questions. Sometimes they might refer to a website that is opposite of what I’m saying and so they need clarification. I would rather have this discussion then have an audience who is bored to tears thinking about the grocery list they need to write out.

I have been to conferences where I have been asked to close my laptop and I find that very insulting. As a professional and an adult, I think that is a decision that I should make. If the presenter is that worried about holding my attention, then they need to look at what type of presentation they have. This also makes me think that this presenter has some kind of inferiority complex which makes me not trust the information that will be shared. I know I may be wrong in this thinking but that is how it makes me feel.

If I know how this makes me feel, I do not want to be that kind of presenter. I want to be an open and transparent presenter who is willing to let people use whatever tools they need in order to be engaged. If they are checking their emails or playing on facebook, then I am not engaging them enough to interest them. I would offer websites or tools for them to check out and even encourage them to look at the site at that moment. I would poll the audience on certain topics in order to engage them in the conversation. In fact, I find the thought of others bringing in their laptops as a sign that they want to be engaged in the conversation and will look through any fluff that I might try to offer. This keeps me on my toes and forces me to make sure that I have my information correct or at least can refer to where I got my information.

People choose to come to my presentations and their time is valuable. I want them to feel that the information I share will in some way improve their lives. If they spend the time resenting me or wishing they had their laptops then I am defeating my purpose and more than likely, they will not return to any presentation I do.

Of course, this is just the way that I feel and you may feel differently. Please share your thoughts!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'An Event Apart Design Conference - December 2009 - San Francisco, CA' by: kris krüg

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Basilisk's Lair - A Book Review

NATHANIEL_FLUDD_BASILISK'S_LAIR I recently read the book The Basilisk's Lair by R. L. LaFevers which was mentioned on The Picnic Basket. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review):

I thought this was a great book and would give it 5 out of 5. Even though I did not read the first book (This is book 2), it was a fun adventure for the reader. This young boy is training to be a beastologist with his aunt and seem to go on adventures looking for beasts. I think middle school students would enjoy reading this and it was just the right length. There were some great vocabulary words that could be used for learning in the classroom. I think this book would be appealing for boys because they could imagine that they were the hero of the story. I now want to go out and find book 1 and can’t wait for book 3 to come out! I could see this being added to a school library collection.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Do You Want to Learn to Do?

modelplane At the beginning of the year, I ask my students to list three things that they would like to learn to do. It might be rollerblading, framing pictures, knit, build a birdhouse or model airplane etc. We actually brainstorm some ideas on the board because otherwise, they will sit there and say, “I don’t know.” Once the ideas get rolling, I have them list the ones they like and pick the top three.

Then we come up with a plan on how to learn about it.

1. Research. Use the library, the internet, and talk to others who have done this.

2. Make a list of the materials you need.

3. Find out the cost of the materials.

4. How much time is involved?

5. Find written directions that give step by step instructions on the procedure.

6. Read the directions and make sure you understand all the steps.

7. Gather the materials.

8. Complete your project.

9. Evaluate the project. Did it turn out like you wanted? What could you have done differently?

10. What next? Is there another project like this you want to learn? Can this project be expanded further?

Once we agree on the plan and I approve of their project, I set aside an hour each week for everyone to work on their project. If they find out that they don’t have the money to gather their materials, they need to find another project to work on.

I have my own project that I work on at the same time. This way I can model the learning process for them. Sometimes when I hit a snag, the students help me figure out a solution. This is a great way to also model collaboration.

Every summer I would think about a new project that I would like to do during the school year. One year I wanted to learn how to juggle. Another year I wanted to learn how to crochet. I had one student who wanted to learn how to mat and frame pictures and open up his own framing store some day. Many times my students want to get involved in my project or each other’s projects. It is really fun to watch them do this.

This “Project” project is so relevant to the student’s learning. They improve their reading skills as well as math. Sometimes I ask questions about the project that make them look up the history or the science involved in the project. Using internet and Skype for their research helps the students improve their technology skills. Students are learning something they are interested in and are more motivated to learn. They also feel they have control over their learning.

Have you done this with your class? If so, how has it worked out? Do you do it differently? If so, please share.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Made From Scratch - Model Airplane' by: Erik (HASH) Hersman

Monday, September 20, 2010

From the Diary of Darren the Daddy Long Legs

006 For pictures, click here.

What a day I had today! I saw Ranger Tim heading down the trail with another group of “students” and I knew today would be interesting. I love when he brings groups here to Jones Gap because I get so learn so much from him. Of course my mom and dad worry about my adventures but they don’t mind when I come back and tell them how much I learned. When I get back home, my mom makes me write down everything in my diary so I won’t forget. They are just afraid that someone will decide I’m dangerous and step on me. So, today, I hitched a ride on Ranger Tim’s clothes because I knew he wouldn’t hurt me.

Here is what I learned today:

1. Private citizens formed the Mountain Bridge Wilderness and Naturaland Trust was a big part of this.

2. From 1931 -1963 trout were raised here.

3. Before then, this was the major thoroughfare from Greenville to North Carolina and it was the Solomon Jones toll road. Carriage with two horses paid a dollar but pedestrians paid a penny. Folklore says that Solomon Jones let Suzy the pig loose at the bottom so he would find the easiest way to home and food. That is how he knew how to make the road.

4. The Blue Ridge Escarpment is in NC, SC, and GA.

5. Jones Gap is in the top 5 ecological hotspots on the planet according to the Nature Conservancy.

6. Islands in the sky refer to the tops of mountains; certain organisms can’t survive in warmer climates so they move up in elevation.

7. Greatest diversity of salamanders in Appalachian Mountains because of islands in the sky.

8. A cove is surrounded on 3 sides by mountains; one way in and one way out.

9. The overlapping communities are what give the diversity.

10. The weather station behind the building is part of a microclimate study.

11. Jones Gap has an east west orientation. It has the same climate as Pennsylvania. Northern species growing right beside southern species.

12. Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004 and toppled trees on one side of the cove.

13. Beechdrops (Epifagus) – feeds on roots of beech trees

14. Beech trees are near water and have coppery leaves in the winter.

15. Pines and evergreens cause the soil to be too acidic for salamanders.

16. Green salamanders love beech trees because smooth trunk allows lichens and mosses to grow.

17. Holes in rocks due to drills for blasting. Due to erosion, soil is lower than the rocks.

18. Broad beech fern grows near beech trees; one stem and triangular in shape.

19. 5 distinct layers in this forest: canopy, understory or subcanopy, shrub layer, herbaceous layer, and forest floor.

20. Canopy gaps allow sunlight to reach forest floor.

21. Jones Gap is a young forest because a lot of the timber was used in the 1940s.

22. Fraser Magnolia or mountain magnolia – lobed on the bottom.

23. Deciduous magnolias – Tulip Poplar, Cucumber Magnolia, and Fraser magnolia

24. Maple Leaf viburnum – has a maple leaf and several stems and is not a tree

25. Sweet shrub – repeating pattern, opposite leaves, drip tip, entire seed pod stays on most of the year, mice feed on seed pod, shiny leaf (aka boobybush; blooms same time as service berry)

26. Saprolite is chemically weathered rock. This is where we get our sand from and why it is not the fine sand found on beaches like FL.

27. Bears – like tree cavities; dens that are tight and not wet.

28. SC black bears do not hibernate. Females that are giving birth will den and if it is cold, males will den.

29. Copper Button – terrestrial snail and are left handed

30. Chestnut Oak has white meat acorns. Red oak has red or orange acorns due to the tannic acid

Oh, now Ranger Tim is talking about me! He mentioned about how I like to use my 2 legs as sensory tools to check out my environment. I’m so glad he told the people that I was not poisonous because then they would get sick if they touched me. Then people think I’m venomous but that isn’t true either because I eat dead stuff. What would I use the venom for? I hate carrying stuff that isn’t any use to me, so I’m not dragging venom around with me, that’s for sure! I also don’t build a web but I harvest my food. And I do bite so you might feel me nibble on you a bit.

Okay, now back to my notes…

31. Jones Gap is a natural cold water habitat.

32. There are 4 major watersheds: Savannah, Santee, Pee Dee, and Ace Basin

33. Jones Gap is the water shed for the Middle Saluda.

34. Santee is the largest watershed in SC.

35. Santee Delta is the largest delta on the eastern seaboard.

Now it was time for the water fun. Ranger Tim pulled out the minnow traps and some fish to show the group. There were the 2 most common minnows: Yellow fin Shiner (males have red fins; during spawning, males are bright pink) and Blue headed chubs (builds the rock nests that the shiners use; black spot on back fin, clear tubes by eyes, during spawning, slate colored heads). The mouth shape indicates where they feed so bigger lower jaw means they eat above them and bigger upper jaw means they eat below them. He also showed a crayfish which has gills near its abdomen, pink due to iodine.

Then I got to watch the groups of people play in the water. They were looking for some of my friends under rocks to look at under the microscope. Others were testing the temperature and the turbidity.

When everyone returned to the lab, Ranger Tim put my friends under the microscope so the class could see them better. They were like TV stars as they showed up on the HDTV screen. The class saw a water penny, mayfly nymph, stonefly nymph, gilled snail, caddisfly larvae, caddisfly case and a crayfish and it was so cool to see everyone up close and personal! I can’t wait to tell my friends that I saw them on TV but I wish they could see this too. Of course, I’m sure they were scared because they didn’t know what was happening to them and they were afraid they wouldn’t get to see home again. But I could have told them that Ranger Tim would take care of them and not hurt them.

After that I had to leave so I wouldn’t be late for dinner. I also wanted to rush out before the class so no one would accidentally step on me. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much. Next week they will go to Caesar’s Head State Park. I wish I could go with them.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/17/10

tools1 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!

Books That Heal Kids – great resource for books including reviews

Student Handouts – “100% free teaching materials–lesson plans, worksheets, handouts, games–-everything you can imagine and then some. Everything on our site is instantly accessible and useable. We have materials for every major subject, with our primary focus on secondary education (junior and senior high school, grades 7 through 12).”

PopSci Archives – Popular Science; “We've partnered with Google to offer our entire 137-year archive for free browsing. Each issue appears just as it did at its original time of publication, complete with period advertisements. It's an amazing resource that beautifully encapsulates our ongoing fascination with the future, and science and technology's incredible potential to improve our lives.”

Science Net Links – “Providing a wealth of resources for K-12 science educators, Science NetLinks is your guide to meaningful standards-based Internet experiences for students”

Amazing Grade Calculator

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Visit with Wolfram Alpha

WolframAlpha The other day I had a wonderful phone conversation with Mike Looney (VP Vertical Markets) of WolframAlpha. Here is the bio that I was given before the phone call:

“Michael Looney started his career in education as an inner city school teacher for the National Teacher Corps in Portland, Oregon in 1969.  After earning degrees in Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Non-Profit Marketing and working in a variety of public sector roles for schools and universities, Michael joined Apple Computer as their first education account manager in Upstate New York.  This ultimately led to a 27 year career in high tech education sales, marketing and general management.  He led and grew the education businesses for Apple, Claris, and Adobe as well as much smaller Silicon Valley start-ups.  His achievements have been measured both in profitability for these companies as well as value-added curriculum and tools for students and teachers alike.

His primary focus is on the integration of the Wolfram|Alpha fact engine into education settings, and the application of computational interactivity through mobile apps, websites, eTexts, and eCurriculum.”

I was really excited our phone conversation and Mike showed me a lot of neat ways to use this tool that I want to share with you. He was able to show me many of examples that would be valuable to students.

You can see examples by topic at

When Mike put my name in, it showed that Patricia ranked 541 and that 552 people per year are named Patricia.

On the side of the examples page are things that you can try which I did and enjoyed seeing the results. You can enter a date, a city, a math calculation or a formula and see the results. What a great reference tool this can be for our students!

Mike also put “International Space Station” in and the results showed the orbit of the space station.

I really liked the math topics. He showed me how in Calculus, it shows the steps of how a problem was solved. This could help so many people who are trying to figure out the solution but don’t know how to arrive at the answer. Last year I had a friend whose daughter had trouble with a math problem and so I contacted a math teacher/friend who wrote out the solution for me so that I could pass this on to the daughter. Obviously that took a lot of time which the daughter really didn’t have. This would have been a great tool for her to use. If you have time, go to the Example by Topics page, Click on Calculus under the Math topic. Choose one of the examples under “Integrals” by clicking on the “equal” sign. Then in the right hand corner in red, click on “Show Steps” and see how this problem was solved. I think this would be a great self check tool for understanding. Students could find out what step was causing them the problem. Whether you teach in the classroom or home school your own children, this tool could be very useful to all students. Eventually they hope to do this same process with algebra. I can’t wait until that occurs.

You can also add this to your Iphone, Ipad, and Ipod Touch.

There is also an educator’s page: There are lots of suggestions on ways to use this in the classroom and Math, Science and Social Studies lesson plans for educators to use. You can use it for creative writing, geography, and algebra too.

Last night I couldn’t wait to share this information with my friends. I even asked Mike if I could share all this in my blog. I hope you take time to check out this free and wonderful tool. Even though it is educational, it is a lot of fun too.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Education Buzz Edition #4

carnival2 Another edition of the Education Buzz Carnival is up and running at Bellringers! Don’t miss out on all the fun! See what is going on in the Edusphere. My article on A Feeling of Connectedness is there but there are lots of other great articles to read too! See you there and don’t eat too much cotton candy!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Carnival by Pat Hensley

Visiting Boris the Bat

bat Welcome ladies and gentlemen. My name is Boris and I want to welcome you to my humble abode, the Stumphouse Tunnel in South Carolina.

I have lived here for a few years with many of my family and friends. As you can see, it isn’t very fancy but we love it here. It stays a pretty constant temperature here and protects us during the winter. I’m so glad someone put up that gate even though you may find it frustrating. It was really upsetting to us when we kept having uninvited guests who just walked into our homes uninvited and thought we should stop our regular routine and entertain them! Now we usually go in and out the back door where people can’t disturb us.

I would like to share with you some information that is scaring me and the others who live here. Just like in your world, you worry about cancer and AIDS¸ we have something called White Nose Syndrome or WNS. My wife Natasha was diagnosed with it. First we saw white stuff on her nose, then ears and then wings. She started to drive us crazy because she wanted to fly outside in the daylight instead of sleeping with the rest of us. When she left, she would whoop and holler so the rest of us would wake up. I don’t know when she became such a party animal but it was sad. Instead of resting in the winter when we were supposed to hibernate, she wanted to go out and party. Those that do that rarely lived long. She lost more and more body fat until she couldn’t survive any longer and we lost her last year. We had hoped to have another child this year but then she became afflicted with this disease. My son and I miss her very much even though we had only been together for two years

We appreciate all the researchers trying to find out what is causing WNS and trying to help keep it from spreading. We hope that they don’t give up on us. They have come up with some ways to hopefully keep the disease from spreading. Since they aren’t exactly sure how it is spreading, they are asking anyone who visits a cave, not to bring anything in it that has been in another cave in the past five years. One lady today had paper booties on to cover her shoes (wasn’t she thoughtful!). All of the people had the flashlights in Ziploc bags so they could throw them away when they left. Their clothes could be washed and disinfected. According to some government paper, they found some chemical products that kill the spores such as:

“1. Lysol® IC Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum) - 1 part concentrate to 128 parts water or 1 ounce of concentrate per gallon of water;

2. Lysol® All-purpose Professional Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum);

3. Formula 409® Antibacterial All-Purpose Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum);

4. A 10% solution of household bleach - 1 part bleach to 9 parts water (an estimate of 1:9 is insufficient);

5. Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes; or

6. Boil submersible gear in water for 15 minutes”

There is an organization that seems to be helping bats called Bat Conservation International that has some interesting information. You can also google “white nose syndrome” if you want to know more. Unfortunately we don’t have any computers here in the tunnel but we hear about these when there are educational groups brought into the tunnel. You see, my ears pick up on lots of neat stuff since we use echolocation to get around. So, if you have any secrets you don’t want bats to know, don’t say it anywhere near them. But at least we don’t go spreading any gossip!

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my home. Please spread the word to your friends about our cause. Explain to them that we love to have them visit and learn more about us but we would appreciate if they could take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure our survival. On this earth, we all have a specific purpose and we need each other. Thank you!

(If I did this lesson, I would have some kind of stuffed animal or prop that is a bat to talk to the class. Sometimes students are more motivated in hearing facts and information this way rather than just a dry lecture. I actually found a pattern to knit a bat for this kind of lesson: Boo the Bat and Flippy the Bat. It would be a great lesson to use in October.)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Little Brown Bat by Gare and Kitty

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 4 Part 2

For pictures, click HERE.

(This is part 2 of last week’s class. Check out yesterday’s post for Part 1. Tomorrow we will have a message from Boris the Bat.)

037After lunch, Dr. Rob Bixler (PRT professor at Clemson University) met with us. He helped us learn how to be an effective interpreter.

Interpretation – make things clear.

We have a recreation and leisure activity which is more of an experience rather than a program.

We need to create wonder about every day nature.

Get kids out being observant.

Early times, nature was very important and part of the curriculum. It was the dominant aspect into the curriculum until the 1930s.

Then cultural decay began because it wasn’t being reinforced any more.

Rachel Carson – mother of the modern environmental movement.

Environmental issues and studies became more important than nature study.

Decline in membership of conservation organizations.

Fewer students interested in natural resource careers

Public programs – self selected; people choose to come to these.

Don’t think too scientifically. Figure out ways to connect science to history or culture or pop culture or humanities.

Bring in special people.

Look for humor.

Use poems or music lyrics.

Sensory analysis is important (hearing, smell, touch, see – don’t use taste with young children)

Demonstrations are memorable


Look at other cultures.

Go to a local history society for more information.

Look for old, old books

Go to internet forums

Find famous people connected to your topic.

Interpretation does not mean interpret-torture!

People’s time is precious. They are taking a risk to come to a public program.

Vogel State Park has an “Ask a Naturalist” program

Encourage audience participation. They can identify with the information and feel good about adding to it.

Be early, clean and neat, start on time. Start off with general information, getting to know others for the first 5 minutes in case anyone is late.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

· Make sure they are comfortable. Make sure they know what to expect.

· Check safety and security. Make sure they are appropriately dressed for the activity.

· Develop a rapport.

· Recognize someone’s contribution.

Have a Theme statement.

The program does not need to be long and can be informal.

Mechanics of leading a hike

1. Walk past key thing and stop group, then walk back to it so you and key thing is in the middle.

2. End with conclusion; restate theme and subthemes.

3. Don’t end in view of the parking lot.

4. Make yourself available for informal interactions after program ends.

Questioning: Use open ended questions; only ask recall questions about information that you spoke about

Planning is essential! We were given a worksheet and we wrote down a topic and theme. Then we looked at different ways to promote the theme. These include alliteration, exclamation, metaphor/simile, limerick, rhyme, word picture. Don’t do more than one or it will be annoying.

Work with other people. Share ideas.

Look at YouTube videos: search for Piaget + conservation

Young children do not understand cause and effect; multiple relationships. They are very sensory oriented. They need to see, touch, hear and smell. They have trouble with zero.

If you can’t directly experience it, do not talk about it.

Young children do not understand how to ask questions; keep it concrete, simple, and sensory rich.

Group size – 1st through 3rd grade is usually best to have no more than 6 with a parent.

You need a finale! You want to get people back. You want them to be talking about this at home. Every program needs to end with a “what next.”

Sharing nature with other people is important to do!

Many of these techniques are ones that should be used in the classroom also. Planning is important because you need to make it worthwhile for people to invest their time in an activity that you do. It is important to engage the audience. If the audience is engaged, there will be less opportunity for misbehavior. Of course we want to tempt them so they want to learn more. I have attended many ranger led activities where I was wishing this person would have a “part 2” of their talk because they were so interesting. Whether you are in a classroom or leading an interpretive experience, the same should apply.

For our next class we will be at Jones Gap State Park and do some water activities. I’m really looking forward to this!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 4

For pictures, click HERE.

I took so many notes for the last class that I am actually going to make this a two part blog post. This is part one and part two will be posted tomorrow. I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone with all this information so I felt it would be better to split it all instead of putting you to sleep. Hope you enjoy it.

014First we met at Stumphouse Tunnel where we met Mary Bunch, the wildlife biologist with DNR. She suggested that we take this picture and turn it upside down so we look like bats!

Here are some bat facts that I learned:

1. White Nose Syndrome (WNS) – could be killing the bats, yet it is not invasive, not getting in external organs.

2. Afflicted bats cannot break down chitin (exoskeleton of insects)

3. WNS optimal growth 5°C - 10°C; marginal growth 15°C, and upper growth 20°C

4. Bats need 3°C-14°C

5. Southern bats live longer because they have shorter hibernation, warmer temperatures, more insects

6. Little brown bat – mountains are the southern most range for these

7. Extinction of little brown bat due to WNS in 16 years

8. Disease is spreading faster than research can happen.

9. Predominant species in Piedmont: Tricolored bats, big brown bat, Evening bats, free tailed bats (found in artificial structures in SC)

10. First 3 species in list given are not colonial cavity roosters

11. Bats swarm

12. In winter, tree bats are in the leaf litter.

13. Red bats are common in the Piedmont, won’t use a bat box

14. WNS is easily detected in early spring but no treatment. Look for flying in the cold and daylight, and bats dying.

15. Lifespan of a bat is 10-15 years.

16. Bats are slow to reproduce and only have pups once a year. They don’t usually mate the first year.

17. Female mortality rate is higher.

18. Bats in Europe are not dying from WNS.

19. Gray bats are expected to become the first species to become extinct; already endangered; go in caves for breeding and wintering.

20. Bats are true hibernators. They can delay ovulation and implantation. Bats can delay pregnancy.

21. No fruit eating bats in SC; SC bats only eat insects.

22. Big brown bats are great for eating agricultural pests.

23. Predators of bats include snakes, owls, bluejays

24. Check out website of Bat Conservation International

25. Recommended Book: Rocky Road to Nowhere (about the Stumphouse Tunnel)

Next Bill Dillard came to talk to us about Stumphouse Tunnel and the history of it. He was in the first master naturalist class.

Bill was the descendent of William Welch who was a contractor/engineer of Stumphouse Tunnel.

Prior to the Civil War, South Carolina was the wealthiest state in the nation. The railroad made a huge impact on the economy.

The tunnel never was finished.

I know that students in the classroom would really enjoy learning about bats. Students of all ages are fascinated by them. I think having a speaker like we did would really help bring this topic to life in a classroom and being able to visit their habitat makes it even more real. Of course, no one can guarantee that you would find any bats because it wasn’t our lucky day. We didn’t get to see any this time because it wasn’t cold enough for the bats to see shelter in the tunnel.

(Please check back Tuesday for Part 2 of my notes and on Wednesday for a message from Boris the Bat)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/10/10

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!

Eye on Idioms – practice using idioms. Great for students who are learning the English language or special education students who have trouble with idioms.

Tripline – “Tripline is a great way to plan your trips ahead of time, and when you're back home, you can share your story with a single click.”

Nook Study – from Barnes and Noble; “free software that you download to your computer to help you study smarter, not harder”; 500,000 free ebooks

History Pin – “Historypin is a online tool that acts as a digital time machine, allowing people to view and share history in a totally new way. Using Google Maps and Street View technology, Historypin aims to become the largest user-generated archive of the world’s historical images and stories.”

Virtual Cockroach - is a web resource focused on insect anatomy by Orkin.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear Principal

When I read What Do Teachers Need From Administrators? (Day 1) by Brian Crosby, it really made me think about how I would respond to this. I thought I would write it in letter form as if a principal asked me this question. First, let me give you some background. I have been a public school teacher for 30 years and now teaching on the university level. In this newest position I am able to be the “principal” of a summer school that we hold for teachers to get experience with working with students who have learning and emotional difficulties. I wish more administrators would ask this question but wish even more that some administrators would listen. Keep in mind that I realize that sometimes as teachers, we need to make sure that our requests are realistic also. So, without further ado, here is my letter.

Dear Principal,

Thank you for asking this question of me. Here are some suggestions that I have for this.

I need to be treated like a professional. I spend all day with students and sometimes their behavior rubs off on me and it shows. I’m sorry for that. But I need to know that you see me as a professional and treat me this way. If I need to leave the campus during my free time, allow me this opportunity because I spend tons of my own time doing things for my classroom. For those teachers that abuse this opportunity, take that privilege away from them but don’t punish me for their faults.

Be supportive and back me up in front of students and parents. If there is any question about the situation, announce that it will be investigated but don’t humiliate me in front of students or parents, even if I am wrong. Later, I can come back and apologize or take necessary steps to fix the problem but we all make mistakes at one time or another and deserve to be treated with respect.

Ask for my input when making a decision that will affect me. Let me give reasons why I think we should do something. Open up the dialogue for discussion. Even if the decision isn’t made in my favor, I will feel more in control because I was able to give my opinion.

Before we start something new, make sure that we all have the appropriate training necessary to succeed at our new task.

Make sure that I have the tools necessary to do all that you require of me.

Give me a chance to try something new if I think it would work. Your trust in me helps me succeed. Believing in me is a forward step towards my success.

Encourage me to collaborate with other teachers at my school, district, state, or globally. More brains are better than one.

Understand that I have a life outside my job and that my family comes first. Do not make me feel guilty when I have to choose my family over my job if I have the days available to me.

When you send for me to come to your office, please give me a hint about why you want to see me. Nothing is worse than my imagination running wild until I can meet with you. I also will be able to come to your office better prepared to answer any questions you might have if I know in advance what you need from me.

Be fair. Everyone knows when someone else is treated differently than someone else even if no one says it aloud. It really hurts morale.

Recognize me when I have done something good for my students, or received positive feedback from parents. I know you have no control over my paycheck but appreciation and acknowledgement goes a long way.

Thank you for listening to me! Asking me this question already shows what a caring principal you are!

Now what would you tell your principal if you were asked this question?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Letterwriting' by: Gene Han

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From The Salamander’s Point of View

(Today is a guest post by the Salamander we saw at Kings Creek Falls. Hope you enjoy it!)

salamander Hey, what are all these people doing here? Where did they come from? I was having a great day just hanging out here in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and all of a sudden this humongous group appears out of nowhere. Gee, it is fun to watch them cross that log! Maybe I will get to see someone fall in the water.

I see a group over on the side looking at the rocks. Hi there! That’s my friend Sammy the Snail that you are looking at. He likes when things are wet. I hope no one picks him up because he gets really scared when people do that. I bet he thought no one would come here so it would be safe to explore that rock.

That ranger over there is saying this is a spray cliff community. I didn’t know my subdivision had a name. Now I can tell people where to come visit me! Oh wait, that isn’t the name of my subdivision. I think that is the name of the type of place where I live; like some people live in the desert and some live in the mountains. I live in a spray cliff community! It sounds pretty impressive and I can’t wait to tell my friends.

I love where I live. There is plenty of cool running water. I also have lots of cool places to hide. There are different sizes of rocks and logs to hide under. I have to stay hidden so I don’t get eaten by all those things that think I’m a tasty morsel for dinner.

I peeked out at one time and these people were looking at the rocks right near me. One lady said that the rock they were looking at was feldspar with mica in it. Wow, I can’t wait to tell my friends what I know. They will think I’m so smart! I wonder if there is gold around me. Well, it wouldn’t matter because I couldn’t get rich from it and it would only bring in tons of people who would disturb my home. They would probably want to develop the area and really mess up the neighborhood.

There is another group over there looking at all the flowers. They like the alumroot, hemlock, and lobelia. I love when the flowers bloom around my home because I feel like I live in a fairyland. My favorite is the Joe Pye Weed because my friends the butterflies come to visit when it is blooming. Usually when they show up, we have a big party.

Whoa. Now this guy just put me in this plastic box! At least he put some water in it so I don’t get all dried out. Hey lady, be careful how you hold this box! Did you know I can see up your nose when you get this close. Man, you have big eyes!

No, I’m not the Geico gecko. I am a salamander! I'm a northern dusky salamander to be exact! (That isn't a picture of me but I thought it looked better than I do. I mean, haven't you ever wanted to use a picture of Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt instead of yourself?) I hate when people get me confused with that gecko though and think I’m in those stupid TV ads. Now, of course, I wouldn’t mind the perks and prestige so if you gave me an offer, I’d be glad to talk with you about it.

Well, after they passed me around and looked at me, that ranger guy decided to put me back in the water. What a relief! I was so afraid that someone would decide that they needed to take me home. I really didn’t want to relocate at this time and especially since no one had consulted me. I think I need to do a better job of hiding so this doesn’t happen to me again. Next time I might not be so lucky!

Well, it is time for me to go find my friends and share this all with them. They won’t believe the adventure that I had today!

(I had to write this post since my classmates and I had discussed what the salamander’s point of view would be. I thought it would be a great exercise in writing. I also think this would be a great writing exercise for our students. What if they wrote a conversation from the perspective of a tennis shoe, or a laptop, or their book bag, or their bathroom mirror? Or even better, let the students come up with an idea. This was just a thought for motivating writing skills. I think the students would like doing this because I know I did! What do you think?)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Red Eft, P6020048' by: Anita

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When I Was Joe - A Book Review

WHEN_I_WAS_JOE I recently read the book When I Was Joe By Keren David which was mentioned on The Picnic Basket. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review):

I would give this book 4 out of 5. This book is appropriate for a young adult and it is very thought provoking. The book involves a boy who witnesses a crime and ends up in the victim’s witness program. While I was reading it, I experienced a lot of different emotions. I felt outrage on behalf of Ty who seemed to get the short end of the stick when it came to mother. I also felt proud of him for trying to do what was right. Throughout the book, I also felt scared for him when it seemed like the bad guys were going to get him. It was a thriller that I couldn’t put down and I was disappointed when the book ended. I wanted to read more. I think the book could open up the discussion in a classroom about doing the right thing even though it may mean your whole life could change. It could also lead into conversations about gangs and peer pressure. I think it also is a great example of how your life can change in a moment depending on your actions and that it could happen to anyone. I did feel the book was kind of depressing and discouraging at times. I could see this book being offered in a school library.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 3

For pictures, click here. Then click the first picture. There is a small "action" button on the left above the picture and if you click on that, you will see "View as slideshow" which makes all of the pictures easier to view. Hope you enjoy them!

For this class, we met at the Andrew Pickens Ranger Station near Stumphouse Tunnel and then moved on to Burrell’s Ford.

We joined Amy, Vic, and Dan Rankin (from DNR) to learn more about brook trout. They (the trout, not Amy, Vic, and Dan) usually live about three years and their eggs need cold, running water to survive. Rainbow and Brown trout are non native fish that have taken over the Brook trout habitat. Dan talked about the different things that have been done to increase the brook trout population and lower the rainbow and brown trout population such as using a piscitoxin (not sure about the spelling) that only kills fish and nothing else. The toxin they used was actually an antibiotic that is dangerous to handle due to its high concentration and has to be diluted. 026Then the three of them entered Kings Creek to gather some trout for us to examine. It was fascinating to see how they used this shock system to momentarily shock the fish so they could net them and get them into a bucket of water. They used about 700 volts and4-6 amps of electricity from a 30 something pound pack that Vic wore on his back. It sounded harsh but they say the fish was not hurt. There were different sized brook trout so we could see what they looked at different ages. We also learned how to tell a male from a female during the spawning season. The males have more color (more red) and their jaws are bigger. When it is not spawning season, it is harder to tell the difference.

After this, we headed down the road for our hike to Kings Creek Falls and beyond. Along the hike we saw lots of flora and fauna. Along the way, Ranger Tim Lee stopped to explain some special things we were seeing. About noon we stopped for lunch along the creek. When we arrived at the falls we explored the spray cliff community on our own and then Ranger Tim explained the many things we observed

Here are some of the things that Tim pointed out:

Lady Ferns had hairy stems that were sometimes reddish.

New York Ferns were tapered at both ends. (imagine New Yorkers who burn the candle at both ends)

Pink Lady Slipper – found in an area with a lot of pines, veins are parallel on the leaves, dependent on fungi, almost impossible to transplant.

SC has 53 species of wild orchids and has specific fungi associated with each. That is why it is hard to transplant them.

Huckleberry – low growing shrub; also known as bearberry, doeberry, buckberry

Trees – on woody stem

Shrubs – multiple woody stems

Wildflowers – fleshy stems

Basal – low to the ground

Rhododendron likes moist ground, lower light while Mountain Laurel likes drier ground

Trailing Arbutus – epigaea repens; found on edge of cut slopes or trails, likes mineral soil

Repens = creeping

Soil is affected by rocks; limestone affects soil pH

Granitic gneiss is fairly neutral

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain – native orchid, multiple flowers and seeds, seed pod dries out and rattles

SC state butterfly is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

When talking to a group: face into the sunlight so the group doesn’t have to; keep main attraction to your back

Kings Creek Falls - Spray Cliff Community – even though it was in full sunlight, the spray keeps it cool

5 species of tropical fern are found in spray cliff communities

Observed at the waterfall:

· Alumroot looks like foam flower but likes it wet

· Hemlock looks like Queen Anne’s Lace

· Lobelia

· Joe Pye Weed

· Goldenrod

· Jewelweed

· Salamander

· Snail

Liverwort – loves to grow near creeks, non vascular

Mosses are non vascular also

Indian Cucumber – root is cucumber like


Creeping moss (repens) grows horizontally on tree because of moisture

Doghobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana) – likes to grow along the edge of creek (riparian zone); fetterbush is found in higher elevations and is deciduous; produces multiple white flowers and butterflies love it.

Great Blue Heron


Ground Cedar (lycopodium) – spores are highly flammable


· Waterfall Hikes of Upstate SC by Thomas King

· Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy

Again, it was another awesome class! All of the people in the class are great to be around and easy to get along with which helps make the class enjoyable. The teachers are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their subject. So far, I keep thinking that the next class can’t get much better than the previous class and each time, I’m surprised. I think that the topics are different, and that we are learning in a real life situation which makes it more interesting and relevant. Next week we will go into a cave and have a new adventure!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/3/10

tools1 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!

Podsafe Audio – free music for presentations

Frontline – from PBS, “classroom activities with streaming video, downloadable lesson plans and web-exclusive resources to accompany FRONTLINE programs in the classroom.”

Algebra Curriculum – 38 weeks of Algebra lessons published by Dan Meyer including slides and handouts.

TwistyNoodle – handwriting worksheets that you can customize

Historical Facebook – create a facebook page for any historical figure.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Photo A Day Project: August 2010


I’m into my second year of this project and I’m still enjoying it. It is actually easier the second year because some of the things I do have become a habit.

· I take my camera with me everywhere (even the grocery store.)

· Since it is a digital camera, I take lots of photos all day long.

· My husband has gotten involved with helping me find the “right” photo for the day.

· Sometimes I go to Daily Shoot for inspiration for the day and when I tell my husband, he is full of suggestions for this.

· I look at many things I’ve taken for granted differently.

· I am now noticing things I’ve never noticed before.

· I try to look at things differently and from different angles. I feel like I’m also doing this with the things I read or watch on TV.

I think this would be a great activity to do with students. Maybe a group of students could be assigned the photo of the day and take many pictures. Then the class could vote on the picture to be used for that day. Each week a different group would have this responsibility. It could open up many different discussions such as why the photo should be chosen or it could spark a discussion about the subject.

Do you do this project? If so, please share the link to your photos. What other ways could you see this project being used in the classroom?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Mosaic by Pat Hensley (August set of Flickr photos)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Feeling of Connectedness

connections When I first met Bill Gaskins online, I was in awe. We share an interest in education and technology. I read his blog Creating a Path for Learning in the 21st Century every time he updates and I see him on Twitter every now and then. We have also talked on Skype a couple of times but you see, Bill and I have never met. Yet, there is this feeling of connectedness.

I had read about Twitter on someone’s blog so I joined Twitter, not really knowing what I was doing. Bill was the first person that I saw from South Carolina and I felt relief that there was someone in my state on this new thing. I don’t know why I felt relief other than the fact that we were both from the same state which gave me some comfort. Hopefully people from my own state would be friendlier and more forgiving when I messed up. This feeling of connectedness was there.

He is the first person that I talked to on Skype when I felt brave enough to give it a try. I felt nervous but he was so calm and natural that I overcame my fear. I really see what keeps some teachers from trying new things like this because it is scary. Surviving my first call led me to talk to a class in Australia about a novel they were reading which was set in South Carolina. I also talked to a class in Connecticut about life here in South Carolina. By talking to others about common things, it helped me grow this feeling of connectedness.

Then I began to follow Bill’s blog by adding it to my Google Reader. This way I don’t miss out if he updates it. Through his blog, I have been able to see what motivates him and what he believes in. I really enjoy hearing other people’s opinions which help sharpen my own otherwise I become stagnant. Who wants to only hear their own thoughts? I also started adding many other blogs to my reader which made me feel closer to other educators as if I knew them in person. I have seen pictures of Bill’s garden and heard about trips he has taken. I have gotten to know others through the things they tell about in their blogs. Even though we have never met, there is a certain feeling of connectedness there.

Then I think Bill and I both decided to try Tumblr about the same time and it is easier to try something new if you have someone else learning along with you. We also attended a live K12 Online presentation at the same time and we had a Skype call to discuss the presentation. It is really helpful when you have a question; you know you can just connect with another person immediately to try to get your answer. I find it amazing to know if I have a question, I can plurk, twitter, or Skype someone and get my answer pretty quickly. Sometimes the person may be someone I had never talked to before but that is okay because I have that feeling of connectedness.

It has been almost 3 years since I dived into this new world of technology and it has really opened the world for me. Since that time, my online friends have grown exponentially and I have even had the opportunity to meet many of my online friends face to face. I feel like I could visit just about any state in the USA and if I needed help, any of my online friends would be there for me. I am more willing to try new things because I have met so many people out there that are willing to help me and not laugh at my mistakes because they have also been in the same boat as I am. All I have to do is ask and take that first step.

I know I may be rambling here but I guess this leads me to those people who are not trying new technology that is out there. It is okay if you decide that tool isn’t right for you but you will never know if you don’t try it. I know that it is scary the first time but maybe you can find someone who is willing to learn it with you. Maybe there is someone out there who wants to try and is hoping to find someone else wanting to do this too. How many opportunities are you missing that might give you a feeling of connectedness?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'The network' by: Christopher