Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Teacher South Region Blog Award

I was recently given a Top Teacher South Region Blog Award from Online Education Degrees.

Here is what they say about this award,

“Do you want to find the best teachers in the south? Look no further; these award winning blogs bring the best of the best straight to you! Teachers face enormous challenges today with budget cuts, huge classes, and limited resources. The truly excellent teachers stand out above the crown in spite of the day to day trials they face both in the classroom and out. These well written informative blogs will spotlight excellent teachers, how the got there and how they stay there! Thank a teacher today you will be glad you did!”

Thank you so much for this honor. I’m truly glad that my blog helps others which is my main purpose for blogging about teaching. There are also others given this award too and I was glad to see that I follow many of them, so if you get a chance, please check them out.

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

Blogging Can Make a Difference

bloggingIn How to Make Better Teachers from Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech by Dean Shareski

“Want to instantly create better teachers? I know how. One word. Blogging.,,If you look at the promise of Professional Learning Communities that our schools have invested thousands, more likely millions to achieve, blogs accomplish much of the same things. The basic idea of the PLC is to have teachers share practice/data and work in teams to make improvements. A good blog does this and more. While the data may not be school specific, great bloggers know how to share data and experience that is both relevant and universal so any reader can contribute and create discussion.”

I truly believe that blogging has made me a better teacher.

By sharing ideas with others, I have been able to have a conversation that improved the original idea. I was able to fine tune the specifics so that I can be more effective in the classroom.

Through blogging, I am able to explain why I am acting in a certain way. I can base it on research or I can base it on instinct, but either way, I am able to share my reasons for my actions. Without knowing my reasons, I am blindly moving forward with little or no thought and this can not be in the best interest of my students.

Allowing comments means opening myself up to criticism. This was the hardest thing for me but it also helped me clarify my actions better. Maybe I didn’t explain myself clearly or maybe I needed to rethink my philosophy. Either way, these comments could only improve on the effectiveness of my teaching.

In order to be a better blogger, I find myself reading many other blogs. I look at their style and the way they impart information and try to determine what I liked about the style. This is how I want my blog to feel when others read mine. I also learn what topics are being shared and what others are talking about. By reading other blogs, I am able to form my own opinion about what I feel is important. I also may learn about things that work in other classrooms and how I can adapt that into my own classroom. In turn, I may also learn from others’ mistakes so that I do not make the same ones in my classroom.

Encouraging others to interact through my blog is important. It is this two way conversation that makes my blog more than just a thing to read. Others may gain information from reading it but I also gain information from the questions and comments that are given.

I feel that blogging is so important that I require those who take my university courses to blog as part of the curriculum. I hope that I can begin them on a journey that will be useful to them in their own ventures into teaching. At the time, my students may be overwhelmed with all the work that is required of them and may even stop once the class is over. Yet, I am hoping that once they have been given a taste of this, they will have the foundation to come back to it. I am hoping that they will see how this can be one of the most important things they do for professional development.

How do you feel about blogging? Do you think that it helps to make better teachers? Why or why not?

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

Original image: 'I'm blogging this.'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035655711@N01/24720422 by: Jhayne

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Years as a Student

studentFrom the Fall Blog Challenge by Melanie Holtsman, this week’s topic is thankfulness.

Challenge: Our students and colleagues never knew us as children. What were you like at the grade you teach? What were your interests? Did you like school? Share a photo if possible.

I taught high school for most of my career so I will talk about my high school years.

During grades 7-9, I attended a junior high and high school did not start until 10th grade. My oldest sister had died that summer and we were very close so this was a traumatic time for me. I was going to a high school out of my attendance area because my assigned school was so large that they had to hold 2 shifts at one school. Knowing that education was the only way out for me, I begged my parents to let me go to the school where my sister and her family lived which was about 5 miles away from us. I was able to take the public bus from my corner right to the high school and did that for 3 years. I know it was wrong to use my sister’s address but I was desperate. The school in my area was overcrowded and over run with gangs and drugs so I needed to get away from there.

It was very scary starting the first day at a new school but I was glad to see some people that I knew from my church youth group. They immediately took me under their wings and made my life so much easier. I ended up having a best friend, Bunny, who stuck with me all three years. Never one for cliques, I had many different friends from many different groups. I also became very involved in the drama club and worked backstage for every production that was done over the three years. And I remember being a “mathlete” and was part of a math competition team for our high school.

For some reason I had gotten further ahead of everyone and ended up taking all AP classes during my senior year. I took AP Calculus, AP English, AP Biology, and AP French and then was given an early dismissal since there was nothing else I could take. Since I planned on going to an out of state private college, I knew those AP courses would save me a ton of money so I studied furiously and passed all my tests with flying colors.

I felt very overprotected by my family since I was the youngest and was very determined to leave home and go very far away. I think I was so focused on studying and leaving town that I didn’t make a lot of deep friendships during high school. Even though I had many friends who were acquaintances, the only friend I stayed in touch with after high school was Bunny. Now that I look back, I guess I was in the group that would be labeled Nerds today. I wasn’t part of the popular group or any special group and stayed more to myself or on the edge of a lot of different groups.

I think that is why I understand students who don’t fit in with a crowd or are different. I remember being that student and how I felt. I hope my experience during those times can help a student who is going through the same thing.

Do you feel your experiences as a student made a difference in your actions as a teacher? If so, please share.

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

Original image: 'the professor is six minutes late'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/55779593@N00/127023370 by: Jonathan Pobre

Friday, November 26, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/26/10

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!

Fatworld – “is a video game about the politics of nutrition. It explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary U.S. The game's goal is not to tell people what to eat or how to exercise, but to demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations;” it has to be downloaded in order to play it.

Vocabsushi – “for anyone looking to learn vocabulary and have fun doing it. It is ideal for students studying for standardized tests, and is also perfect for anyone looking to expand his or her vocabulary to communicate more precisely.”

Encyclomedia – “is a free video encyclopedia that covers everything you need to know or want to learn. If your passion is entertainment, fitness, health, history, nature, people, science, spirituality, religion, or travel - free video encyclopedia provides the access you need.”

The Super Hero Squad Show – create your own super hero comic strips and comic books.

Speechable –“is a free photo service that lets you easily upload and add speech bubbles to your photos”

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

thanksToday is Thanksgiving Day!

I am thankful for so many things and that includes you (my readers) and I appreciate all your support and comments. I started this blog in hopes of making a difference and giving to the teaching community what I wished was available when I taught. Your support and comments encourage me to continue my journey. Thank you so much!

Enjoy your day and remember to be thankful for all the good things that are in your life, no matter how small they may be.

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

Original image: 'Thanks for My Flickr Friends!'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24882165@N07/4102336245 by: John

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Education Buzz Carnival 11/24/10

carnival2Another edition of the Education Buzz Carnival is up and running at Scheiss Weekly. Don’t miss out on all the fun! See what is going on in the Edusphere. My article on I’m Not Busy 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

The Art of Conversation

conversationIn What’s the first thing you say to me? from The Home of Peter Shankman - Shankman.com, Peter Shankman says,

“What’s the first thing you say to someone when you’re introduced? How do you say hi and not bore them? How do you do it without becoming a douche? Without making it all about you you you?

Have something to say! What’s your ten second intro? This isn’t a pitch. It’s not a life story, and it’s not a business plan. It’s a ten second intro. It gives me just enough information to want to follow up. You want to leave me wanting more. It’s our first date.”

I have to admit that when I meet someone new, I get all tongue tied. It could be someone famous or someone I read about on the internet or just someone that someone else knows. I start to think about how stupid I probably sound and that I have nothing interesting to say and I feel paralyzed with fear. So, if you ever meet me, please take pity on me and excuse my awkwardness because I really want to talk to you and sound somewhat intelligent and normal.

This whole topic reminds me of the neurological class next to my classroom. The students (most of them were labeled autistic) in the class had obviously been working on the art of conversation. Now, you ask, “How do I know this?” So, I will try to recapture my interaction with one of the students early in the morning before classes began.

Me: Good Morning S.

S.: Good morning Mrs. H.

(I begin to open my door with the key.)

S.: Now it’s your turn.

Me: Excuse me?

S.: Now it is your turn. You said something and then I said something. Now it is your turn.

Me: Oh. Well. How are you today?

S.: Good. How are you?

Me: I’m doing great.

(I turn back to my door…)

S.: It’s your turn again.

Me.: Ummm. Okay…

S.: I asked a question and then you answered. Now you have to ask a question back again. That is what they call a conversation.

Me: Oh. Did you have a good evening last night?

S.: No, it was boring. Did you?

Me: Yes I did. But I really have to end the conversation now because I need to get in my classroom and get ready for the day. Okay?

S. : Okay.

Later I told his teacher about this and she said that they had been working on the Art of Conversation so obviously he remembered a lot. She was pretty excited about this because he seemed to generalize the skills they practiced in class.

I still get nervous when I meet people who know me through other people we know in common. I guess I have gone up to this attorney way too many times and reminded him that he knows me through his former secretary who is a good friend of mine. I usually get flustered and say, “Hi Brad! I’m Pat and I don’t know if you remember me but I’m a friend of Sandy’s.” The other day I met him in a parking lot and started to say my usual phrase, when he interrupted me, smiled and said, “Hi Pat. Yes, I know you are a friend of Sandy’s. How are you?” I have been saying the same thing for the past 10 years every time I saw him!

I think we need to prepare our students for these kinds of situations too. I can’t tell you how many times I cringe when I see former students who come up to me in the store and say, “Hi Mrs. H! Do you remember me?” and then continue talking without ever mentioning their name. I have taught in the public school for 30 years and then on the college level. These classes have been in 2 different counties and four different schools. I also have attended many community activities over these years. So, I don’t know where I know you or when but I usually can recognize your face. Please remind me who you are so that I don’t rack my brains trying to figure it out! Then not only tell me who you are but remind me how I know you.

Now if you are going up to someone new, try to find out something that you have in common. Talk about the place you are at or something you know that they are involved in. Ask questions of the other person and while they are talking, it will help you calm down so that maybe you can feel more normal instead of awkward.

Now, if I can only remember this when I am in that situation! Do you have tricks that you could suggest to help the art of conversation? Please share!

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

Original image: 'elephant talk'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/47968145@N00/325235488 by: Gina

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writing to Share

thoughtIn My Life as a Writer from Fresh Fowlers , Laurie states,

“As my teacher put it, “Fowler, your writing always seems to spread weeps.” And so I did not share that piece with anyone outside of my AP class for a long time.”

Wow! This is just another big reminder of what impact teachers have on students.

First of all, I need to be very careful about how I say things because it might be perceived in a different way then I intend it. When I see how this teacher responded to Laurie, I wonder if this teacher meant it as a compliment and Laurie perceived it in a negative context. I also think the teacher should have watched to see how this comment affected the student in case this happened. I wonder if I thought I was complimenting a student and instead the student was offended. Of course, since I felt like I gave a compliment, I would not have felt that I needed to follow up with anything else. Yet, I might have caused my student to withdraw instead of flourish.

I believe that if a writer can cause a reader to feel some kind of emotion, then the writer has accomplished something positive. If something I read doesn’t make me feel something, then I find it is boring. I might disagree with the writer or feel that the writer has me confused. But my feeling doesn’t have to be negative and can be a feeling of agreement, excitement, motivation, or inspiration as well.

When I teach my students about writing, I encourage them to use words that draw a picture or make the readers use their senses. The reason for this is so that the reader can feel something. But I need to continue to make my students understand the reasons for their actions.

I don’t want to stifle anyone’s writing. I need to help my students know that there are different reasons for writing as well as different audiences. I may write differently if I am the main audience and I want to reflect on my feelings than I would if I want to persuade other professionals to do something. I don’t think either kind of writing is better than the other. The purpose is important and that determines the type of writing that is required.

I really enjoy Laurie’s writing and I think I do because her writing makes me “feel.” Her post made me feel that I had to write a blog post about it. It was a thought provoking post that made me think about my own practices.

If you have time, please read her post and let me know what you think.

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

Original image: 'Io ci metto il complesso di immagini...'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11464033@N00/3041614511 by: Matteo Scordino

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thank you, Teacher

Here is a guest post from Jill Hare, Editor, TheApple.com (http://theapple.monster.com) which is also posted on TheApple.

teacherIt's the time of year when we think about what we're thankful for. And while some words are spoken in thankfulness, a lot goes left unsaid. While I was watching an episode of Glee a few weeks ago, this quote reminded me of why I got into teaching.

"All of us were scarred by high school. Next to our parents, nothing screws a person up more. And people like us (teachers) are stupid enough to come back here and relive that pain everyday."

And why do we chose to relive the pain of school all over again? Because we want to provide better opportunities and foster kinder students than those that taunted and hurt us. We want the smart kids to feel cool, the glee club to not feel like outcasts and everyone to be on equal ground. Many of you out there are doing just that: creating a better school environment than you had, and doing it all with out any proper thank you.

So here it is. Thirty things you probably never get thanked for. It's just the tip of the iceberg, so write in more here.

Thank you, teacher, for….

1. Believing in me when no one else does

2. Trusting me to behave when your back is turned

3. Taking time to help me when everyone else gets it

4. Listening to my problems when no one else cares

5. Spending tons of time preparing lessons

6. Staying up late to grade papers

7. Giving up time on weekends to prepare and plan for class

8. Making a lower salary than you’re worth

9. Working in and trying to improve an archaic education system

10. Learning what technology I like and using it to help me learn

11. Loving what you do and showing it every day you have fun teaching me

12. Learning new techniques and tricks that help keep me engaged

13. Letting me have options and choices to drive my learning

14. Fostering collaborative learning, because I always remember what I learn with my friends

15. Caring enough about me to form a relationship with my difficult parents

16. Teaching me things I will use in the real world

17. Setting goals you know I can reach and be proud of

18. Being proud of me even when I accomplish only small goals

19. Encouraging me to be better and reach my full potential

20. Respecting me even when I don’t always show my respect for you

21. Being fair even when I don’t deserve it

22. Being my advocate so I get the services and help I need to be successful

23. Keeping my blended family straight, even though it’s complicated

24. Giving up your lunch to help me study, learn or just sit with me so I’m not alone

25. Knowing I’m not the coolest kid in school but treating me like I am

26. Giving me responsibility to prove I can be leader

27. Pushing me to dream I can be anything I want

28. Sticking up for me when others put me down

29. Noticing when I’m upset and asking me about it

30. Helping me try to avoid mistakes that may hurt my education and my friendships

What other “thank yous” go left unsaid? Leave them below in the comments.

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

Original image: 'Old School'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/50115004@N00/2915752375 by: Rob Shenk

Friday, November 19, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/19/10

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!

Math Open Reference – Geometry terms, “Mission:   A free interactive math textbook on the web. Initially covering high-school geometry.”

The Avalon Project – by Yale University; lots of copies of historical documents throughout history

Vocabahead – Vocabulary study videos for SAT, ACT, and GRE.

Strip Generator – create your own black and white comic strip; it was pretty easy and fun

mybrainshark – upload slides and record your voice for each slide; great way to add presentations to your website, blog, or wiki

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 18, 2010


curiosityFrom the Fall Blog Challenge by Melanie Holtsman, this week’s topic is thankfulness.

Challenge: During this time of the year everyone is taking time to be thankful. What is one thing you are thankful for and why?

I thought about this topic for awhile and wanted to write something interesting but something that I was truly thankful for. Over the years I have written the usual stuff because I am so thankful for my husband, my family, and my health. I thought this time that I focus on being thankful for something different (even though I am still truly thankful for the things I mentioned).

I am thankful for my curious nature. Of course this leads me to learning new things. Sometimes I am cautious to start something new but eventually my curiosity gets the better of me and gives me courage to take that first step. I tend to think about what is the worst thing that could happen to me if I try and usually the consequences are minimal.

During this year I learned how to:

1. Make collards and black eyed peas from scratch (Heard how homemade was better than canned)

2. Make a triangular lace shawl (I saw someone else do it and wanted to try)

3. Join and help in a community garden (My friend was involved and kept talking about it on facebook)

4. Make chocolate zucchini bread (Bought a huge zucchini at the farmer’s market and the lady gave me the recipe)

5. Spin my own yarn (I watched a friend do this in my knitting group and thought it looked fun)

6. Be a Master Naturalist (met a friend while we were hiking who told us about the program and how interesting it was)

I’m thankful that I’m curious or I never would have tried any of these things. I look forward to new adventures that curiosity will take me on in the future.

I believe we encourage students to be careful so much that we make them scared to try. When my children were growing up, I would tell them, “No.” “Don’t do that. You might get hurt.” “Be careful. You don’t know what might happen.” What if I stifled their curiosity and kept them from learning? I notice that as I get older, I give in to my curiosity more often. I wonder if it is because I have more experience in life and realize that being curious is okay, as long as I don’t put myself in dangerous positions. Maybe that is part of growing up. Maybe that is the real message that I need to share with my students.

What is one thing that you are thankful for?

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

Original image: 'curious roy'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035611977@N01/17200747 by: Stefano Mortellaro

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rocky Road - A Book Review

RockyRoadI recently read the book Rocky Road by Rose Kent 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. The book deals with issues that many students face and can relate to. I really felt frustration, despair, and anger for the main character of the book. At first I thought that students would find this depressing but then I realized that many of them could actually relate a lot to Tess and not feel so alone. I’m glad that things worked out well for her which gives hope for others who may read this book. This would be a great book for students to read who are facing many of the same issues. Topics for a class discussion could include: being a new student, deafness, bipolar disorder, elderly people, ice cream, creativity, interior design, peer mediation, and relationships. It would be great for middle school or even high school students.

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My 2010 Edublogs Awards Nominations

ebawardlogoHere are my nominations for 2010 Edublogs Awards. I had a really hard time choosing for each category because I read so many wonderful blogs. So, I finally bit the bullet and chose some for this. But if I didn’t mention you, it isn’t because I don’t think you are great, it only means that I had to choose only one. Thanks to all for inspiring and motivating me. These blogs have made me want to create, connect, and collaborate which I believe is vital to world of education.

First: The rules

Step 1: Write a post on your blog linking to:

You can nominate:

  1. For as many categories as you like,
  2. But only one nomination per category,
  3. A blog (or site) for more than one category
  4. Any blog or site you like but not your own blogs (sites) clip_image001

Step 2: Email us the link to your nomination post

Now, my nominations are:

Best individual blog: Learning is Messy Blog
Best resource sharing blog: Free Technology for Teachers
Most influential blog post: PSI Tutor: Mentor
Best teacher blog: Online Sapiens
Best librarian / library blog: Cathy Nelson’s Professional Thoughts
Best school administrator blog Principals Page: The Blog
Best educational tech support blog: E4Africa
Best elearning / corporate education blog: Universitatis
Best educational podcast: http://bobsprankle.com/bitbybit_wordpress/
Best educational use of a social network: Universitatis
Lifetime achievement: So You Want To Teach

Good luck to all of the nominees!

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Disability Awareness Program

Last week I volunteered to help with a program on disabilities at Powdersville Middle School. The purpose is to make students aware of what it is like to live with a disability. The focus was on four disability areas: learning, visual, hearing, and physical and tIMAG0118here were 12 activity centers set up in the media center. All of the 7th graders were brought to the media center at different times with their teachers. Each student was assigned to go to 4 centers (one for each area) and there were about 4-5 students in each group. There were activities at each center that simulated what it is like to have that disability and the students stayed at each activity for 5 minutes. If you teach in SC and want to know more about this program, you can find information at the Family Connections web site.

IMAG0123I want to commend Barbara Dansby, the guidance counselor of Powdersville Middle School (left in picture), for organizing this event. It took a lot of time and energy to put this together and then find volunteers to help all day. There were a lot of supplies for most of the centers which are easily found but take some time to gather. I feel it also took time to convince the administration and teachers that this was a worthwhile program to invest instructional time in. Of course, I thought that since the school felt this program was important, it also shows how much the school community values all students including those with disabilities.

I was at the “Signing” table which involved talking to students about sign language. I had the group figure out a sentence that I spelled out to them. Then we tried to imagine what it would be like to sit in class the whole time not hearing and having to pay attention to someone signing the lesson. Next I taught them some signs for Thank You, Sorry, Water, Eat, Pizza, Study, No, Telephone which they seemed to enjoy. We talked about how hard it must be for a person with a hearing disability to succeed in school.

IMAG0117I spent the whole day there interacting with the students and was extremely pleased with how this turned out and how well behaved all of the students were. The students took this program very seriously and all of the students participated wholeheartedly during my activity. Someone in each group asked how a person who couldn’t hear could use a telephone so I explained about a TDD device which many had never heard of. All of the students were respectful and I never heard anyone make fun of any disability. In fact, I was thrilled when one group had lined up before their teacher as they prepared to leave the media center and called out to me. When I looked up at them, they all signed “Thank You!” to me. What a thrill it gave me!

I would highly recommend this program to schools to use in making their students aware of those who live with a disability. By involving students in these different simulations, they learn the difficulties that many face each day. Many students tease others because they don’t know or understand disabilities so this program takes away the unknown. It helps students learn and be tolerant of others who face these difficulties.

I think one of the reasons the students were so well behaved was that they didn’t have time to get bored or misbehaved. They were only at each table for 5 minutes and they were active participants in each activity. Since they were being asked to do something, they had to pay attention to what was being asked. I need to pattern my lessons in this way: short lessons with lots of active participation.

When the volunteers left, we were asked to evaluate the day which I thought was also important. Changes for the positive can be made in this way. At the time, I didn’t have any suggestions for the actual activities. But I think it would have been good for the students to write about their experiences and reflect upon what they did and how they felt. By doing this, I think it would help clarify their feelings and affect how they interact with others who have disabilities more. I think it would also help embed what they learned into their daily life. Maybe they did that in their classes when they returned but I forgot to ask.

Does your school or you do something like this? If so please share what you do and what activities it involves.

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

Original Photo “WHS volunteers set up and practice” by Pat Hensley

Original Photo “Barbara and some volunteers” by Pat Hensley

Original Photo “Writing without hands” by Pat Hensley

Friday, November 12, 2010

Education Buzz Carnival – Thankful for Education

carnival4Another edition of the Education Buzz Carnival (Thankful for Education) is up and running at Emergent Learner! Don’t miss out on all the fun! See what is going on in the Edusphere. My article on Dark Clouds or Sun? 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

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/12/10

tools1Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Own Your Space – “Help teens ‘own their space’ online. Whether you are a parent, caregiver, or educator, you can keep up with the latest computer and online safety issues and help kids learn to avoid them. In partnership with security expert and author, Linda McCarthy, we offer a free downloadable version of her new book, “Own Your Space – Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online.” Written for Internet savvy “tweens” and teens specifically, this book is also a useful resource for the adults they rely on.”

Mapeas – News stories on a world map. The smaller the dot, the older the news. Includes news stories about entertainment, business, sports, science, and general.

Bubbabrain – review games to study for SAT and AP Exams

Snag Learning – great educational videos; some have lesson plans and some have discussion questions

YTTM ­ ­- You Tube Time Machine; lets you search for videos according to year and genre

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Life As a Writer

writingFrom the Fall Blog Challenge by Melanie Holtsman, this week’s topic is about my life as a writer.

Challenge: What is your life as a writer like? Do you write for work and or pleasure? What kind of things to you have to write as an adult? When you do write is it texting, computer, paper, journal or other?

I think I have loved writing ever since I was old enough to write. I remember having to go to a speech teacher because of a lisp that I had resulting from the loss of my two front teeth. She encouraged me to write stories with lots of “s” words. Then I had to read it aloud and when she would laugh and encourage me, I felt so good.

When I went to college, I wrote my parents a letter every day which my mother kept for me like a journal. After she passed away, I don’t know what ever happened to those letters.

Then I found out about blogging on the web and I was in heaven! I definitely like to write for pleasure. Of course the topics vary depending on the mood I’m in. I would much rather use a computer now instead of paper but if the computer is not available, I will use paper. When we go on our cruises, I won’t be blogging about the trip because my hubby worries that someone will rob our house when we are gone. Instead I will keep a paper journal and summarize the trip when I return home.

I hope that I have encouraged my students to write even after they have gone on to other grades. As an instructional tool, I would have them write in a journal the first five minutes they arrived in my classroom. I would suggest a topic or quote but they also were allowed to write about anything they wanted. I would look over their journals every Friday and they would get credit for writing at least 5 complete sentences in paragraph form. I would correct spelling and ask them to read it if I had trouble understanding it but they did not lose any credit for this because I focused on content, not grammar. It was interesting to see how their writing improved as the year progressed. When reading their entries, I also had great insight into their lives and what made them tick.

Do you make your students write? How often do you have them write? What criteria do you have them follow, if any? Please share.

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

Original image: 'Be seeing you'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/19487674@N00/58499153 by: Oliver Hammond

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ant and Honey Bee - A Book Review

AntHoneyBeeI recently read the book Ant and Honey Bee: A Pair of Friends at Halloween by Megan McDonald 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 book was a lot of fun and I think young readers would enjoy it. Teachers could use this book to introduce topics such as Halloween, costumes, pairs, rhyming words, homonyms, friendships, creativity and even science (bees). The illustrations were cute and so was the story. I would give this book 5 out of 5.

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Small Moments

momentFrom the Fall Blog Challenge by Melanie Holtsman, last week’s topic is about Small Moments

Challenge: Sometimes your day is not about the planned events but instead it's the small moments that make us think, reflect and savor what we are doing/learning. Tell about a small moment you had this week and what you learned or experienced in that moment.

I got behind on this challenge because my hubby has been experiencing health problems and we had to deal with it last week. The doctors saw something on his chest xray and sent him for a CT scan. Then we were referred to a pulmonologist. Of course all this has been scary for us and the fear of the unknown is pretty hard to deal with. Well, the pulmonologist basically told us that he couldn’t tell us anything. Whatever is in my husband’s body could be nothing or it could be pretty bad but the only thing we can do is watch it and wait. They will do another scan in a year to determine if any changes have taken place. Since my hubby is not feeling bad, we hope that this is nothing. But if it is something, then he will begin to feel bad.

We ended up sitting down and discussing this. Since we can’t do anything about it, we have decided we will live our lives as we have been doing which is enjoying each day and making sure we are living it to the fullest. No one knows what the future may bring but we should be doing the best that we can. We plan to enjoy each other and our friends and family as much as we can. By being more aware of the possibilities, we need to make sure we take nothing for granted and appreciate everything we have more.

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

Original image: 'Sailing to a Key West Sunset'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/43204851@N00/35185032 by: Asten

Monday, November 8, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 12

GroupBirdHat(For pictures, click HERE. Look for the totem pole picture!)

This was our last day of class and it ended at the SC Botanical Gardens. We started off the morning with Lisa Wagner, Education Director for the gardens. Then she took us on a tour around the gardens and even though it was raining, everything looked so green and fresh. Along the path we saw holly, gingko tree, ducks, camellia sinensis (used for tea), big leaf magnolia, sculpture over an old spring, cavities in a poplar tree, and hardy cyclamen. In the classroom Lisa showed us seed pods and other plants. She also shared with us volunteer opportunities in the garden.

Then we had lunch provided by the Upstate Master Naturalist Association. The food and drink were awesome! After lunch we graduated and each one of us received a certificate and a wooden name tag. Then our leaders were given gifts of appreciation and we filled the room with lots of laughter.

After graduation, we drove to the Cherokee garden where Karen explained the different parts and meanings to it. It was a great way to end the day.

I really enjoyed these 12 weeks of classes and will miss getting together with this group. All of my classmates were wonderful to get to know and I hope to see them at other gatherings and volunteer events. I am thankful for the leaders and organizers of the program who put in lots of hard work and time to make this program meaningful.

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

Original picture: Group Leaders by Pat Hensley

Friday, November 5, 2010

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/5/10

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!

The Art of Storytellingoffers educators a fresh outlet for introducing various writing genres to their students. Educators can use the lessons and related handouts below in their teaching.”

OpenStudy - is a social learning network where students ask questions, give help, and connect with other students studying the same things. Our mission is to make the world one large study group, regardless of school, location, or background.

Brain Nook – “BrainNook is a virtual world about helping children master basic concepts in Math and English by practicing them in mini-games, exploration, competition, and social interaction.”

Testmoz – “Testmoz is a test generator that sports 4 question types, automatic grading, a really simple interface and detailed reports.Testmoz is free, and does not require you (or your students) to register.”

Braineos – create your own flashcards or use those created by others

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Imaginalis - A Book Review

ImaginalisI recently read the book Imaginalis by J. M. DeMatteis 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 definitely give this book 5 out of 5. Once I began reading the book, I couldn’t put it down. I think this would be a great book for upper elementary to middle school students. I can see it being used in the school library or as a class novel. I love the way the author encourages the reader to use their imagination. I think we don’t do this enough with students anymore and I’m glad to see a book that allows for imagination as well as having a gripping story line. There are so many wonderful inspirational quotes in the book that can be used in the classroom as well. Topics for a class discussion can be peer pressure, loss of a loved one, imagination vs. reality, creative writing, and trusting others. I think girls and boys would enjoy this book tremendously. It was also interesting to see how the main character Mehera changed. This also would be a great discussion for the class in determining how she changed and what factors were involved in making this change. It would also be fun to have students continue the story after it ends and see where their imagination would take the main characters. I highly recommend this book!

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I’m Not Busy

busyIn Let’s Stamp Out Busyness from Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech by Dean Shareski, he states,

“I worked for a principal one time that I knew was had tons going on. His desk was full of notes from people to call, his day full of meetings but he made every kid and adult in the school feel like he had time for them. If people asked if he was busy, he would brush off the question and invite you to come in and sit down. He never made you feel rushed or that you were keeping him from something. “

Recently we went to see a doctor and my husband apologized for complaining and taking up too much of the doctor’s time. The doctor leaned back in the chair and said that he had all the time in the world for us. Wow! We felt very special and truly valued. This doctor didn’t rush us but instead made us feel like the time he spent with us was very important. When we left, we both talked about how much we liked this doctor because of the time he spent with us. Even though we knew he was a very busy doctor (we saw the waiting room), it didn’t seem to matter to him. Of course I need to remember this when I’m impatient to see a doctor and realize that he is spending the same important time with other patients.

I also worked for a principal who treated me the same way. I knew how busy he was but if I ever needed to talk to him, he always made time for me. He didn’t continue to work while I talked about what was important to me. He put whatever he was doing aside and gave me his full attention. Because I knew how busy he was, I tried to keep the information short and to the point. I liked to get to the bottom line first and then expand rather than give a long drawn out story with him wondering what I was getting at. In fact, he told me how much he appreciated that too. I also knew that because he would take time to listen to me that I did not need to abuse this or take advantage of this. It also made me feel valued as an employee and I was glad to work for him.

I hope when students come to see me that I take the time to value this person and take time to really listen. I have met with other people where they tell me that they are listening and that they can multitask so as I am talking, they continue to work on the computer. I know how that makes me feel so I hope that I don’t do the same thing with my students. It is not fair to them for me to not focus on what is important to them. Just allowing them to have their say is not enough. It is important to make eye contact and have body language that shows I care.

I feel that I am often busy and I like to stay busy. But I should never be too busy to connect with others. It is very important to remind myself that people are more important than being busy.

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

Original image: 'busy schedule?'

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Memory Tricks

forgetIn Interactive Monday is back!! from Learn Me Good, Mister Teacher asks,

So now I turn it over to you. What memory tricks have worked for YOU? “

Mnemonics really works for me. The first one I remember ever learning was how to spell Arithmetic (A Rat In The House Might Eat The Ice Cream). I loved the way I can make sentices like that. I have always loved spelling and letters so anything I can relate to words and letters, usually helps me remember things. I learned notes on the scale form Every Good Boy Does Fine and FACE. I learned metrics with King Henry Died Monday Drinking Chocolate Milk.

I also find that I remember things if I write them down and have a visual to look at later. Just hearing it does not work for me because I’m not an auditory learner. Seeing it visually helps me but seeing it after I have written it really helps me remember it. Later on I can picture it in my mind and actually visualize myself writing the answer.

Putting things in some kind of pattern or rhythm also works for me. When I need to remember numbers I am always looking for some kind of pattern. It might be connected to some other pattern that I can link it to and that helps me visualize it in my mind later. Songs have a rhythm to it and they help me remember things. I remember learning the ABC song when I was little. I know many people who remember the books of the Bible because they learned it as a song.

So now I ask readers of my blog, what memory tricks work for you?

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

Original image: 'Bridge'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/99707788@N00/2621376164 by: Andrew Mitchell

Monday, November 1, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 11

003(For pictures, click HERE)

Hi! I’m Herbie the hiking boot and today we went to the Bunched Arrowhead Heritage Preserve. It is a really cool place in Traveler’s Rest, SC and I never knew it was here. This preserve is 178.7 acres and is the habitat for the Bunched Arrowhead, an endangered plant because of the loss of habitat for it to grow in. While we walked around, we had to watch where we stepped because there were lots of poop around (dog and coyote that we know of) and who knows what else! I sure hate when that stuff gets on me because it sure stinks. And usually the hiker doesn’t smell it because his nose is further away than my nose is!

As we stood there and listened to Ranger Tim, we overlooked a meadow area, sometimes called a prairie or early succession field or old field succession. There will be a lot of mineral soil if it was plowed a lot. First there will be herbaceous stuff like asters and goldenrods. Lots of spiders will mean prey there.

We saw a thin legged wolf spider with an egg sac. We also saw tons of grasshoppers. The pictures will show many things that we saw such as morning glory, partridge pea (yellow flower), mulberry, staghorn sumac, black walnut, wild plum, rabbit tobacco, Queen Anne’s Lace (seeds feed mice and other small mammals. They are white multiple flowers and in the centers are a deep red which looks like where Queen Anne’s head would be with lace around the neck. Queen Anne had been beheaded.), Mullen (very medicinal plant, used as an antiseptic for wounds), sycamores, persimmon, sweet gum, honey locust (big thorns, birds can use these to store and spear prey), devil’s walking stick, maypop, verbena, and ferns.

I learned that sweet gum trees attract songbirds so I guess they are useful, even though I hate walking on those darn balls! The balls are actually the female part of the plant. They have actually developed some sweet gums that are all males but research shows that areas with these trees have high rates of asthma due to all the pollen they generate.

It was really cool when we came across a newborn box turtle. We think we saw the hole that it must have come out. If you look at their bottom shell, females are flat and males have a concave indentation on them which is necessary for mating.

After lunch, we went into the forest and learned how to identify ferns using a key. Good keys use reproductive structures and physical characteristic because you might be looking at a fern when the reproductive structures are not evident. I learned the following terms:

1. Frond is the whole fern leaf.

2. Blade is the leafy part of the frond.

3. Stalk or Stipe is below the blade.

4. Bipinnate means that it is like a leaf on a compound leaf.

5. Pinnatifid means the leaves are not individual and are lobed like an oak leaf; not divided.

We broke into small groups and had to identify five different ferns which were: Club Moss, Netted Chain Fern, Christmas Fern, Ebony Spleenwort, and Southern Lady Fern. There are over 800 ferns in the world and 34 are found in Mountain Bridge Wilderness.

Two books that Ranger Tim recommended were Peterson’s Guide to Ferns and Fern and Fern Allies of North America (Smithsonian Press) by David Lellenger.

Then we went to the piedmont seepage area where we saw the Bunched Arrowhead. They were in the water and not blooming at this time but they bloom in the spring. We had to crawl under the barbwire fence to get to them. I guess that fence is too keep people away and I’m glad that no one used me to step on the fence so people could get through.

As we walked around, we saw lots of bluebird boxes and we saw one at lunch on a power line. Did you know that bluebirds can have five broods a year? Each time they have less and less eggs but usually have five or six eggs the first time. European starlings like their boxes too. Boy, if I saw a starling in a bluebird box, I would probably nudge it with my toe and scare them away!

We walked to the area where DNR holds controlled burns. It was filled with many different grasses. On the way back we walked over an earthen dam and looked down on the bladderwort in the water.

Then everyone saw a red shouldered hawk but I didn’t because I was too low on the ground and by the time I looked up, it was gone. But I did see the “black knot” on the tree which looks like dog poop on a branch. I will remember this because when they tried to identify the verbena, someone said it was “verbena on a stick.”

Well, it was a full day and by the time we got back to the cars, my feet were tired. I’m just glad my laces stayed tied (most of the time). Sometimes when they get tired, they tend to act up!

(Here is another example of using creative writing to share facts that are learned. Students can choose the item or you can assign an item. It would be interesting to have different items tell the same story because then you can talk about perspectives. Maybe a hiking stick or binoculars might tell a different story than the hiking boot did. Have you ever done this? Did it work? If so, please share your experiences.)

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

Original Picture: Bunched Arrowhead by Pat Hensley