Friday, October 29, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/29/10

tools2Here 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!

WordStash – “is half vocabulary builder, half dictionary, and full awesome!”

Worldmapper – “ is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest.There are now nearly 700 maps. Maps 1-366 are also available as PDF posters;” free

Show World – “SELECT a subject from the top menu and watch the countries on the map change their size. Instead of land mass, the size of each country will represent the data for that subject --both its share of the total and absolute value.”

Got Brainy – gives words, images, and sentences. Students will enjoy the images.

Timetoast Timelines – free, make your own timelines

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Education Buzz Carnival #7

carnival4Another edition of the Education Buzz Carnival #7 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 How Long 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, October 27, 2010

A Special Book


This week’s topic from the Fall Blog Challenge by Melanie Holtsman, is about a special book.

“What Book Made the Biggest Impact on Your Life? Was there a book you read or was read aloud to you that you have always remembered or that has impacted your life? Tell us about the book and why it touched you so deeply.”

bookThis may sound crazy but the first book I remember reading (and I’m sure I read others and had others read to me) is The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss. Maybe it was the first one I had ever read on my own but I remember it being a big milestone in my life. It must have been for me to remember this more than 45 years later. At the time, I think 500 was as much as a trillion in my young eyes. I couldn’t imagine owning that much of anything. I remember thinking that someday, I wanted to own 500 books that were all my own and not borrowed from the library. If I had that many books, I would not only be rich but I’d be very smart and could do anything I wanted in my life. I knew that reading books was the key to whatever I wanted. Since my mother was an avid reader, I’m sure she instilled that in me with her words as well as her actions. The fact that everyone in my family made sure I had access to the library whenever I wanted or needed books was another way I saw that reading books was important. I remember the praise my family gave me when I read this book on my own and then out loud to them. That was proof that I was a reader and my life was just beginning!

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

Original Picture: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dark Clouds or Sun?

clouds I found another great blog post “ Which Are You? Transmitter or Transformer? Light or Dark? by TJ Shay.

He asks, “So, which are you..... The dark rain cloud, or the light?”

When I first read this, I immediately thought that I wanted to definitely be the light all of the time. I mean, let’s face it; no one likes the dark clouds. And I don’t want people to see me as a dark cloud, right? I want everyone to see me as the sunny positive person all of the time.

But in reality, I know that it isn’t possible. I want to be the sunny person most of the time. I want to have a positive outlook on the future. I want to hope that I am making a difference by sharing my knowledge and expertise with others. Hopefully, this positive outlook will be infectious to others and grow like a ripple in the water.

Yet, at times it is necessary to be the dark cloud. Just like in nature, without the dark clouds, we wouldn’t appreciate the sun as much. Sometimes we need the dark clouds to make us realize where we need to improve or what we need to change. Real life isn’t sunny all of the time. Being the dark cloud can put the big picture into perspective. Nothing is perfect and there is always something that can be changed to improve the current situation.

I see the dark cloud part of me as the part that questions and doubts what I hear, see, or read. I should not just be accepting of what is shown to me or told to me. This is the part where I need to use my critical thinking and analyze what is being given. Eventually I might decide that what I am learning is worth believing in or it clarifies my thoughts better, but by blinding believing everything, is not what is best for anyone. The dark cloud does not have to be seen as a negative force in my life.

I need to make sure that the dark cloud is not THE driving force that gives my life direction. There needs to be a balance between dark clouds and light. Too much of anything is not good for anyone. I guess that is why I like living in the south so much because I feel nature has this balance that influences my life.

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

Original image: 'Retreating thunder' by: Niklas Sjöblom

Monday, October 25, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 10

(For more pictures, click HERE.)

030Hi! I’m Benny the Beaver, here at Lake Conestee Nature Park. I just wanted to thank the Upstate Master Naturalists for coming to visit my home this week.

This area is known as an Important Bird Area but we also have copperheads and timber rattlesnakes here. The lake was established when it was dammed up to give power to the local mill. At the time, Greenville was becoming a great textile center.

Ranger Tim led the group through the different areas of the park. First they stopped in an area that was the edge of an agricultural area going through some advanced old field succession. This ecotone had lots of diversity here and the group heard many different birds. Ranger Tim also showed the group the honey locust tree which grows in the Piedmont and has really long thorns. He also showed a wild cherry tree, a pecan tree, wisteria and a Bradford pear tree.

As they walked further into the forest, they came into a young forest which was obvious by the young trees they saw. There were mostly poplars and sweet gums all around. The soil was made up of sand and minerals because flooding took most of the organic material away.

Two ferns seen were ebony spleenwort (the stem is ebony colored and it grows in mineral soils) and Grape Fern. Ground Cedar was also abundant.

When they arrived at the lake, they saw Pickerel Weed and Spatterdock (the leave stays above the water and has a yellow flower) which makes for a great fish habitat. They also saw Parrotfeather which has a green feather like leaf that stays above the water also. Mosquito fern is the smallest fern in the park and looks like pink or rust colored flowered on the surface of the water. At one overlook, they got to see closer up at the beautiful dams that my family and I have built around. We really work hard and them and make the area look pretty too.

After leaving the lake, the group saw Box Elder which is the only compound leaf maple in North America. You can make maple syrup from its sap but it takes a lot of sap since it doesn’t ha047ve the same sugar content as sugar maple. Sycamore and Black Willow were also peeking out from the forest. On the ground were puffball fungus that were little round brown balls.

Of course the resident poison ivy was in full autumn color along the trail. More than 30-40 species of birds love these berries.

Luckily someone spotted a giant silk moth before everyone stepping on it. It was a beautiful lime green with red spots and a yellowish green line down the sides. After much investigation in the guide book, they decided that this was a luna moth. Ranger Tim reminded everyone that fuzzy caterpillars are moths but not all moths are fuzzy.

During lunch, Erica Hollis from Upstate Forever talked to the group and after lunch Dr. Jeff Beacham talked about wetlands. He mentioned that there are three criteria for a wetland: hydrology, vegetation, and soil.

All in all, I think everyone had a nice time visiting my habitat.

(It is much more interesting to talk in first person as a resident of a habitat rather than just spitting out boring facts. Students could be encouraged to do this as an animal or person to share information. Have you done this in your classroom? If so, please share!)

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/22/10

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!

Braingle – “Brain Teasers, Riddles, Trivia, Brain Exercises, Games, Forums and more...”

US History Tours – using Google Earth

Gapminder – “…by using the Google Gadget called Motion Chart. It allows everyone to make a Gapminder-like bubble graph that you can publish on your web-page or blog.” Or you can look at the graphs that they offer. These would be great to use in a presentation or to show information to a class.

Plus Magazine – free, “Plus magazine opens a door to the world of maths, with all its beauty and applications, by providing articles from the top mathematicians and science writers on topics as diverse as art, medicine, cosmology and sport. You can read the latest mathematical news on the site every week, browse our blog, listen to our podcasts and subscribe to our fortnightly email newsletter.”

Good Typing – free online typing program to help students to learn how to use their keyboard

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

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crow - A Book Review

Crow - A Book Review

CROW_COVER I recently read the book Crow written and illustrated by Leo Timmers 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 loved this book because of the illustrations and the story. The story is not the way things should be but rather realistic on the way things really are in life. The illustrations were fun to look at, colorful, and very appealing. I think this book could be better used for upper elementary school to high school students. Of course at a young age, this could be used for reading. But many people think that high school age students couldn’t benefit from young children’s books but I think the lessons learned could be very effective at this older age also. Topics for discussion using this book can be cultural diversity, new students, being different, peer pressure, perceptions, and social skills. A discussion on how people do things to fit in and how others accept them would be a great discussion starter. During this week, I have seen many things in the news that could be connected to this theme. I’m really glad I had a chance to read this!

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

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Life as a Mathematician

From the Fall Blog Challenge by Melanie Holtsman, this week’s topic is about Mathematics.

Challenge: When you're not at school are you still a mathematician? How do you use math to solve problems in your daily life? How did you use it today?

math I can’t imagine a day doesn’t go by that I don’t use math in some way, shape or form. Whenever I go to the store and buy something, I am using math to figure out the cost and the change. Every morning, I start the day by looking at the current temperature and the forecast so I can wear the right clothes. If I am using my checkbook, I used math to make sure my balance is correct. Even though I pay my bills online, I am using math to make sure I have enough money to pay the bills. I use time throughout the day to plan activities, for cooking, for watching TV shows. When I am cooking each day, I use measurements in adding ingredients.

I did find a wonderful site called WolframAlpha that is a lot of fun to explore because the whole site involves mathematics. There are so many examples there that show you how it can be used.

How do you use math today? Please share.

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

Original image: 'Little Professor Hand-held Calculator' by: jason toal

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thank You Speech

thankful My blog was named in Cory Plough’s EdBLOG14 The Featured Blog of the Week is…Successful Teaching. I was so thrilled that many people took this poll and chose my blog. The other blogs that were also in the poll are exceptional blogs too so I hope you check them out because they are blogs that I subscribe to and read on a daily basis. In fact, they inspire me and what I write in my blog. So, thank you Cory, and many who voted for me and for those that sponsor this project.

As a winner, Grace, the Marketing Communications Specialist at SimpleK12 contacted me about my Featured EdBlog giveaway. I was given a free 1 year membership to SimpleK12’s EdTech UNconference. I am so excited and can’t wait to take advantage of all the things this membership gives me access to and I hope you have time to check it out. I also plan on doing a write up about this once I get involved. Thanks so much SimpleK12!

Thanks also go out to Brady Wood of Shmoop who is sending me a free Shmoop t-shirt, some bookmarks and 1 free Shmoop Teacher's Edition of my choice. I chose Teaching the Transcontinental Railroad.

Original image: 'a thankful heart' by: Kyle Steed

Monday, October 18, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 9

(For pictures, click HERE)

Who or What am I?

Welcome everyone for today’s show on What or Who am I? I’m Olivia Owl, your host of today’s show. First I will let the mystery guests introduce themselves and then at the end, you will have a chance to guess who or what they are. I want you to write down who or what they are and then I will give you the answers at the end to see how well you did. Let the game begin!

Mystery Guest 1: I was first found in 1968 at Sassafras Mountain. A man from Harvard called Dennis Chastain and asked him to bring him to that area to find me. My species is only found in 3 places in North America, here, Savannah area and the panhandle of Florida. My relatives were here about 400 million years ago. Nearly identical species were found in West Africa. This means we were here when Pangaea existed.

012 Mystery Guest 2: I am formed on the twigs of a young white oak. I am red and round shaped. I secrete a honeydew substance that attracts insects such as wasps, bees and flies.

Mystery Guest 3: You can see evidence that I was here because I rooted around the dirt. It looks like a mini bulldozer has been through here. I am looking for insects, mushrooms, just about anything I can find.

 023 Mystery Guest 4: I am small and slender and vary from appearing bright yellow to a rusty orange color. There are two black stripes that run from my head down my body and well onto the tail. My tail is fairly long, comprising about half my total length. I am rarely seen in the summer, but may be found along the banks of free-flowing creeks and streams during other times of the year.

Mystery Guest 5: I am a tree that is usually found at old home sites. They used me for food and for dye. My wood is very hard like hickory and many times it was used for handles on things.

031 Mystery Guest 6: I am a waterfall located in the Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve and I was named after a lady who was the executive secretary of the Foothills Trail Conference for a very long time.

Mystery Guest 7: I am a bird that was seen at the North Carolina overlook on the way to the lunch spot. I am the national bird and symbol for the United States of America. Once I was on the endangered and then threatened species list but was removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in the lower 48 States on June 28, 2007.

Mystery Guest 8: I am something that falls off a tree and that animals love to eat. I am not shiny like the ones that come off the Chestnut Oak and I don’t have as much tannin as the ones that come off of Red Oak trees.

066 Mystery Guest 9: I am a beautiful area that people can sit and have lunch and overlook Lake Jocassee and the mountains. There is a nice monument honoring Dr. James Timmerman, Director of DNR there.

Mystery Guest 10: I am the place that the water was much lower on one side than the other. When the Upstate Master Naturalists stood here, they could see the Bad Creek Dam from here. It was really windy and the water was rough that day. Usually this is not open to the public but they had special permission to be here on that day.

FortPrinceGeorge Mystery Guest 11: I am the bonus mystery guest! This wasn’t discussed in class but I think I’m pretty interesting. I am a fort constructed in 1753 in what is now known as Pickens, SC. I was submerged by Lake Keowee after the completion of the Keowee Dam in 1971.

Okay now. I hope everyone wrote their answers down. Does anyone need any repeated? Did you have a hard time? Now, let’s look at the answers how you did. Here are the answers in order:

1. Mite harvestman

2. Bullet gall

3. Wild pig

4. Southern Two Lined Salamander

5. Black walnut

6. Virginia Hawkins Falls

7. Bald Eagle

8. White Oak Acorn

9. Jumping Off Rock

10. Jocassee Dam

11. Fort Prince George

How’d you do? Well, we have come to the end of our show. Hope you enjoyed it! Please come back again and meet some new mystery guests!

(Mysteries are wonderful for classrooms. Students always like to solve a mystery. If you have pictures or items they can handle, it will make the experience even richer. I remember having a mystery box in elementary school where we stuck our hand in the hole and felt something. Then we identified it by how it felt. You might find some items in nature to do the same thing. Do you do something like this? If so, please share your stories.)

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

Original Pictures by Pat Hensley

Friday, October 15, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/15/10

tools2 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!

Blogs, Wikis, Docs – which one is right for you? Here is a comparison chart to help you decide.

Dimensions - Dimensions takes important places, events and things, and overlays them onto a map of where you are.

Progressive Phonics - a free ebooks to help students learn to read and write

You Can Book Me – free scheduling tool using your Google Calendar

Join Me – “Get your people together without getting your people together. Share a single screen so everybody’s on the same page. You don’t need a plane, a projector or a sandwich platter. Just gather at to meet. So what is it exactly? It’s an impromptu meeting that happens wherever you are. It’s getting a second or third pair of eyes on your presentation from across the hall or across the continent. It’s sharing your screen instantly with anyone to get stuff done, quickly. “; you download the program and then share the link with others so they can see your screen.

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

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading Survey

books Challenge: Sometimes writing a blog post can be as simple as asking a question and getting everyone to give a simple answer. Example: What was your favorite part of the field trip? Scott: the giraffes Mary: the elephants or What did you learn today in reading?

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

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

Original image: 'Reading Is Fundamental' by: Troy Holden

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Life As A Reader

reading Though I am never usually at a loss for words, I came across this Fall Blog Challenge by Melanie Holtsman with topics to write about each week. I really liked the topics so I thought I would join in the challenge. I’m already a week behind so I’m going to start with last week’s topic and then tomorrow, do this week’s topic.

Challenge: What is your life as a reader like? Do you read for work, pleasure, instructions or emails? What is your favorite author and/or genre? What is your favorite reading spot? What did you like to read when you were the age of your students?

I have been reading since I was a little girl. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. At an early age, I remember my parents bringing me to the bookmobile that came around our neighborhood every Saturday morning. In fact, I looked forward to that the way most kids look forward to the ice cream truck! Books became my best friend and I could go anywhere in the world through a book and be anything that I wanted to be.

I don’t really have a favorite author or genre. I guess it depends on what mood I’m in and what I’m interested in at the moment. When I need to relax, I usually pick up a romance novel that is easy to read and always puts me in a good mood. At times I love a good mystery and read books by authors like Dan Brown or John Grisham. Sometimes I want to read something off the best seller lists so I can try to figure out what makes it a best seller.

I don’t have a favorite reading spot because I read in so many different places. I read when I eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner when I’m alone. I love to read before I go to bed because it relaxes me. I also like to read in the car when we are traveling. I usually have a book in my bag that I keep close by in case I have an opportunity to read.

When I was a student, I loved to read fantasy books where the hero was usually a person my age. I loved to imagine that I was the hero in the story and could do all that this person was doing. I loved books that took me to places I’ve never been before. Since my sisters were so much older than me, I was on my own at home without playmates so books became my closest friends and I was never bored or lonely.

How about you? How would you answer these questions?

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

Original image: 'Lost on stairs' by: Éole Wind

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scream Street: Fang of the Vampire - A Book Review

scream_street_cover I recently read the book Scream Street: Fang of the Vampire by Tommy Donbavand 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):

This was a great book! I think older elementary students and even middle school students would enjoy this. This would be a great read aloud for a classroom especially with Halloween coming up! It was easy reading and high interest. Right from the beginning, it captures the readers’ interest. I would definitely give this book a 5.

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 8

(For pictures, click HERE)

Natural Wildlife Trivia Game

Welcome! I’m Olivia Owl, the host of Natural Wildlife Trivia Game. Today our two contestants are Penny the Possum and Wilbur the Woodpecker. Each question is worth one point and each contestant will have a chance to answer the question. If they miss the answer, the other one has a chance to answer it. The winner wins a month’s supply of winter food (their choice). Now we did a coin toss and Penny will be going first.

003Olivia: What spider lives in a home that has an opening with a hinge and usually found in the side of road beds?

Penny: A trapdoor spider.

Olivia: Great! That’s one point.

Olivia: What is the largest conservation tract in South Carolina?

Wilbur: The Clemson Experimental Forest

Olivia: Another point!

Olivia: What yellowish stalk is a flower and indicates that beech trees are growing near?

Penny: ummmm, Daisies?

Olivia: I’m sorry, that is not the correct answer. Wilbur?

Wilbur: Beechdrops!

Olivia: That is correct. Now Wilbur it is your turn.

Olivia: What are considered the giants of the forest?

Wilbur: Beech trees

Olivia: One more point.

Olivia: Penny, what is an evergreen ground cover with small red berries.

Penny: Partridgeberry.

Olivia: Good, one point.

Olivia: Wilbur, what is considered the rarest type of habitat?

Wilbur: oak hickory forest?

Olivia: No, I’m sorry that isn’t correct. Penny?

Penny: a meadow!

Olivia: Okay, one point for Penny.

Olivia: What 3 purposes does the Clemson Experimental Forest serve?

Penny: conservation, education, and recreation

Olivia: Great! One point.

Olivia: What kind of pine is good for paper and lumber?

Wilbur: Loblolly

Olivia: Okay, another point.

Olivia: What is the difference between white oak acorns and red oak acorns?

Penny: Red oak acorns have more tannin, more nutritious and are on the ground longer. White oak acorns have less tannin, less carbohydrates, but not as bitter as red oak acorns. Bears love the white oak ones much better.

Olivia: Another point for Penny.

Olivia: The Clemson Experimental Forest was 26,000 acres. Now it is only 17, 500 acres. What happened to the missing acreage?

Wilbur: It is under Lake Hartwell.

Olivia: Another point for Wilbur.

Olivia: The Clemson Forest is broken up into how many parts?

Penny: 2 parts – The North part and the South part.

Olivia: one point for Penny

Olivia: Pine needles grow in bundles called what?

Wilbur: Fascicles

Olivia: one point for Wilbur.

Olivia: Name species that are making a comeback?

Penny: Bald eagle, wild turkey, white tailed deer, beaver, river otter, and black bears

Olivia: Great job! One point.

Olivia: How much were turkeys sold to other states?

Wilbur: $500 for each turkey

Olivia: Great! I wish I had turkeys to sell!

Olivia: What are some common characteristics of an old home site in forests?

Penny: rock piles (usually from the chimney or the footing of the house), daffodils, in the winter, it looks like a mowed lawn, and black walnuts.

Olivia: Good. One point.

Olivia: Why did people plant black walnuts?

Wilbur: For food and dye. And the chemicals in the walnut trees poisoned the area so no other trees could grow.

Olivia: Good.

Olivia: What is the Firewise Program?

Penny: a program to educate homeowners how to prepare for and prevent wildfires in their communities.

Olivia: Good!

Olivia: How many freshwater fish species are there in SC?

Wilbur: 150

Olivia: Great!

Olivia: How many species of crayfish are there?

Penny: 36 and 9 of them are found exclusively in SC.

Olivia: Wonderful!

Olivia: What book did the Stream Team recommend to their audience?

Wilbur: Freshwater Fishes of SC.

Olivia: Good.

pumpkinsseedsunfishOlivia: Well, that ends our game. It seems that we have a tie and we need to have a tiebreaker. Whoever buzzes in first, and answers the question correctly, wins our game and a month’s supply of winter food. What fish is on the forty five cent US postage stamp?

Wilbur: (buzzes in first) The Pumpkinseed Sunfish!!

Olivia: Wilbur wins! Congratulations Wilbur!

Hope you enjoyed our nature trivia game. Hope to see you next time!

(I think putting facts and information in a game form really helps students learn the material. If the facts and information is just given in a list, many students will become bored with the information. Students can be individual contestants or you can put them in teams. I think that many students are naturally competitive and will help their team members learn the material so they can win. You can have a trivia contest like this. Or put the answers on a bingo card and then ask the questions. If they have the right answer, they mark out the answer. There are many ways to play games in order to review information given. If you have any other suggestions for games, please share!)

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

Photo credits:

Original Picture by Pat Hensley

US Postage stamp of Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Friday, October 8, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/8/10

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!

Wordia – “is a high-quality online dictionary: a professional authoritative textual dictionary but with one big difference...Like a traditional dictionary, Wordia allows users to search for the spelling, meaning and etymology of a word but what makes Wordia unique is the ability for users to explore the personal connotation of word through video.”

Wild Sanctuary – hear wild sounds using google earth or google maps

Math Fun Facts – “resource for enriching your math courses and nurturing your interest and talent in mathematics! Each Math Fun Fact is a math puzzle or short article that contains a cool mathematics idea. You'll can learn about the mathematics of things like card shuffling to poker to computer vision to fractals to music, just to name a few. This makes great enrichment material for gifted math students or problem-solving groups.”

Storybird – “Storybirds are short, visual stories that you make with family and friends to share and (soon) print.”

Number Quotes adding scale to a number, great to use with students to help them gain perspective on big numbers.

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

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Being Flexible

flexible As I get older, I notice how it is harder and harder for me to be flexible in my routines and in my ideas. I think that is why it is harder for older teachers or teachers with more experience to try new things.

I really hate when my routine that I’ve had forever (or at least it feels like forever). Over time I have learned that getting up early works for me. I do things in a certain order that makes me feel like I have control. Control is important to me. Yet, sometimes my husband wakes up early and changes my whole routine. He offers to take me out to breakfast or do something special and even though it is wonderful, I still feel irritated by the interruption of my routine.

I think some teachers feel the same way about new technology. Even though it might be a great tool and may even help enhance their lessons, it still is a change in their routine.

So, the question is how do we change people’s routines and still encourage them to try new things?

I’m not sure there is a way other than mental preparation.

I think I am still learning that these interruptions may happen and I need to accept that they will change my routine. I have prepared myself for this. My mental preparation has become part of my routine.

When I think about how the possibility of a change in routine may happen, it helps me be prepared. Even thought I may not like having my routine changed, I can accept it easier if I keep preparing myself for the possibility. If I don’t keep mentally preparing myself, I fall into the same rigid rut.

This reminds me of exercising after a long time of not exercising. If I stretch every day, it helps me not feel so sore later. Even though I know that I am going to exercise, the stretching is important. I guess preparing myself mentally is just like stretching myself physically.

Maybe we need to constantly talk about it. I have read some blog posts lately where many people keep saying that we are past the talking and need to have more action. In fact, I agreed with them. But now, I’m not sure. Maybe the time for talking is not over. The more we keep it in the front lines, the more people will feel comfortable with it.

I remember a couple of years ago when Twitter first started. Everyone looked at me as if I was weird when I talked about it. Now it seems like most of the people I talk to use it too. Some of the people that now use it were pretty set against it back then but eventually they came over to the “dark side.”

I think that is how we will eventually persuade some people to try new tools. We need to constantly talk about the need for the tools and show examples of how they work. Eventually, something will click and they will be ready to try it.

What do you think? Do you think that we should keep talking about it or not?

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

Original image: 'Chinese juggler'

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Long?

time I recently got an email from a new teacher with a bunch of “how long” questions. You may have heard them before.

· How long before I get comfortable with teaching and it feels natural?

· How long before I can notice what all of the kids are doing at one time?

· How long before I can feel comfortable talking with parents?

· How long before I have an organized system and feel less chaotic?

· How long before I have control over my classroom?

Here is what I responded to each question:

It takes each teacher a different amount of time to feel comfortable with teaching. But I can tell you it happens and you don’t even realize it. With more experience and as time comes by, you feel as if you have been doing it all of your life. Remember learning to ride a bicycle? You were wobbly and unsteady for awhile but eventually you rode smoothly and naturally. In fact, you don’t remember the exact moment when it happened but still it happened. You will feel the same way about teaching. Be patient.

Having eyes in the back of your head comes with experience. Once you get to know your students, their behavior becomes predictable and you know what to watch for. One time I used a sound amplifier for a hearing impaired student and still had my headset on when I stepped out of the door to talk to another teacher. Without missing a beat, I told a student to stay in his seat and heard laughter erupt in the classroom. You also learn to keep your eyes moving around the room even when you are doing a different task. I stay in constant motion moving around the room and helping students while seeing the room from different perspectives. This enables me to get a “big picture” of what is going on in the room.

Getting more comfortable talking with parents can only be accomplished by doing it more and more. Many times I have heard teachers avoid doing this and that only makes the interactions worse when there is bad news to share. By staying in close communication with the parents, I am able to establish a rapport with the parents as well as the student. I liked to brag about the positive things that the student was doing but if necessary I would also discuss obstacles that we faced. Parents are more receptive if they know that you are not always calling to tell them bad news. This also helps in getting them to support you more in the classroom.

Unfortunately, organizing your classroom will also take time and experience. At the beginning of my career I tried different systems until I found one that I was comfortable with and felt helped my students be successful. Things that worked for others didn’t always work for me and things that worked for me didn’t always work for others. Once I found something I was happy with, I still had to tweak it every year to meet my changing needs as well as the needs of my students. Once you find a system that works, you can focus on other things but don’t be afraid to try different ones until you find the one that works.

Control over my classroom began on day one. It was important to let my students know that I was the one in charge. I had four basic rules and felt that all of the students were able to follow them (Follow Directions, Respect others, Be Prepared, Complete Work). There is a line between being a dictator and pushover that each teacher has to find for themselves. Usually my students rebel against a dictator and I can’t accomplish much. I also felt that the students had enough friends and needed me to be their teacher. Once the students understood that I would be fair and consistent in enforcing the rules, we were able to concentrate on learning. Classroom Discipline was the number one priority of the year.

How would you answer these questions? Please share.

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

Original image: 'Eternal clock' by: Robbert van der Steeg

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PowerPoint Repair Process

powerpoint In BFTP: Is Powerpoint evil? by Doug Johnson (Originally published on September 24, 2005), he states,

“1. PowerPoint doesn’t bore people: people bore people…Keep in mind Johnson’s Rule of Technology Neutrality: Technology is neither good nor bad. The same hammer can both break windows and build cathedrals…Your thoughts on pitfalls or promises of PowerPoint? What to do you do to make sure the tool is being used well?”

Over the years I have seen people struggle with using Power Point. For a long time it was used as a crutch for those too lazy to learn their material. Over time it became a habit to read the information to an audience. Then people became too lazy to make the presentation interesting for the audience. I still hear of people who read the bullets on each slide while the audience falls into a glassy eyed stupor. I don’t understand how or why after all this time that these people don’t wake up and realize that it isn’t working. Just this week someone talked about how their district tech person came and read the PowerPoint to them, not to mention the misinformation being spread.

I having really made an effort to look at older PowerPoint presentations and redesigned them in case I use them again. While I have time to fix them, I need to prepare them rather than wait until I am pressed for time. When I’m not under pressure, I am able to be more creative. I have decided to make up some guidelines while I am evaluating them and ask the following questions:

1. Is the title catchy? Does it spark the audience’s interest right from the beginning?

2. What message am I trying to get across to the audience and does this presentation do that?

3. Is the message simple and clear?

4. Is the message relevant to the audience?

5. Are the images relevant to the content?

6. Did I add the credit for each image?

7. Are there too many words on each slide?

8. Are the slides too boring or too busy?

9. What does the audience “take home” from this presentation?

10. After seeing this presentation, would the audience want to come back to another one that I gave?

I think if I can answer these questions about the presentation, it will help me use PowerPoint more effectively. When I see a person is going to give a presentation using PowerPoint, I tend to feel tense and even think some negative thoughts. I just can’t help myself. I don’t want people to feel the same way when I am doing one.

I think I need to give presentations like the ones I hope to see when I am in the audience. What am I looking for? What peaks my interest? What keeps me engaged and focused on the information? What am I hoping to gain by listening to this? That is the same way I want my audience to feel.

What do you think? Do you think I need to add any more questions to my evaluation? Please share.

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

Original image: '06_main-point01' by: Stevan Sheets

Monday, October 4, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 7

(For pictures, click here.)

LAKE EDUCATION – An acrostic poem


Look at fish in the lake like threadfin shad, shellcracker, blue gill, warmouth, sunfish, bass, catfish, carp

Animals like beavers chew up many of the trees so protection like drain tiles were put around the trunks.

Know Grimes Stress/Disturbance Model for Plant Distribution (handout)

Erosion of sapprolite is faster than compacted clay.


Elderberry, silky dogwood, buttonbush, willow are good for live staking. Cut off at least 3 nodes, push 2 nodes in soft soil with one node out.

Dendritic – arms that come in on a linear form; tributaries come into the reservoir. Man made lakes are dendritic.

Understand how storm water affects our water supply; run off may have pesticides, fecal matter, automotive oils, fertilizer, trash that pollutes our water

Cove gets sandy as points are grinding down; eventually smooth out and become straight but not in our life time; greener shores

A trench is dug, filter fabric laid and rip rap is put down to help stop the waves from eroding the shoreline.

The DNR stocks the lake with hybrids and stripers for recreational purposes.

Invasive species like Japanese honeysuckle can take over.

Open water distance that wind can blow is called fetch; where wind hits there is more erosion and waves cut into the toes of upland soils; eventually causes caves to form.

Native plants, switchgrass, maidencane, buttonbush, river birch, meadow beauty, bald cypress, alders, sedge willow, elderberry, silky dogwood, native hibiscus, tupelo tree were seen along the shoreline.

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

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, October 1, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/1/10

tools2 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!

Snappy Words – free visual online dictionary

Teaching the Civil War with Technology – blog with great ideas! Great links to other resources

Remind Post – “a simple, free service to let you send tasks to people, and be notified when they're done.”

Student Cam 2011 – “is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect our communities and our nation. Students are asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the competition theme listed below.”; grades 6-12

ActivityTV – “Find lots of fun activities for kids, with video instructions and printables. Crafts, Magic, Puppets, Science, and more!”

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

Original image: Tools by Pat Hensley