Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Importance of Connecting with Others

hospitalI have to share an extremely touching experience that happened last week involving technology.

My friend, B. is 87 years old and was put in Intensive Care at the hospital last week. He is on a ventilator and feeding tube and is pretty serious. His daughter, K. flew in from Curacao but his three sons were still in Holland. K. has a cell phone but the hospital won’t call it because it would be an international phone call. So, we went out and bought her a prepaid phone in my name. They won’t sell one to someone who doesn’t have a social security number (not sure I understand why). But that still doesn’t help K. communicate with her brothers in Holland.

Luckily we found out that the hospital has free wifi but K. did not bring her laptop when rushing to get to her father in another country. So, I brought my laptop to the hospital and she was able to email her brothers and get in touch that way. Since I was on Skype and so were her brothers, she was also able to talk to them easily.

When B. began bleeding internally, the doctors had to do surgery to try to stop the bleeding. We were able to get the brothers on Skype and let them say goodbye to their father. The surgical team waited patiently while B. heard his sons. What a touching moment and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house even though none of us understood them as they spoke Dutch.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was the ability to Skype in every hospital room? Patients could have a choice and instead of having TVs, there could be laptops with webcams. Then patients can watch shows they want to see online or Skype with family members around the world. Patients with family members who are unable to visit could visit through Skype. Maybe this would cut down on the germs that enter hospitals. Maybe patients wouldn’t be so depressed and could heal faster.

I am so thankful that we have technology like that available. I wonder if many of us realize the potential that technology has in our lives. Even though many refuse to learn how to use it, what if this was you and your family? Isn’t this a great example of why we shouldn’t be afraid of technology and its potential uses?

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

Original image: 'Lubbock Heart Hospital, Dec 16-17, 2005'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/35034360660@N01/76765412 by: Mark

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

MemorialMemorial Day is a United States federal holiday that honors soldiers and is observed on the last Monday of May every year.

Many of our students have no idea what Memorial Day means other than it is usually a holiday. I found a great Memorial Day site that has a lot of information about Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was proclaimed in 1868. The first state to recognize this day as a holiday was New York in 1873.

There has been a push to get the holiday changed to the original date of May 30th instead of the last Monday of May.

It really doesn’t matter to me as long as people remember those that we should be honoring. Whether we agree with the reasons of war or not, many soldiers have given up their lives doing what they believed was right in protecting us. Many of these people had families, lives, and dreams that they will never experience again. We should not forget them!

I hope that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday. And I hope you remember that many have made sacrifices for us to have this day!

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

Original image: 'Remember'

Friday, May 27, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 5/27/11

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!

Patrimonium-mundi.org360 degree panoramic views of sites around the world;Click on the picture to visit 275 great sites from all over the world ! Discover wonders as if you were really there.”

Internet Safety Quiz – cute game for young children about internet safety

Google Map Maker – “lets you add to and update the map, for millions of people to see in Google Maps and Google Earth. You can add your local knowledge for over 180 countries and regions. Get started mapping the places you know.”

Present.me – “is simply the easiest way to record and share your presentation. With Present.Me you just upload your slides, click record, present into your webcam and then publish instantly on the web.”

Explore.org – “The lesson plans accompanying explore’s films are written for use in the K – 12 classroom and are connected to grade level national standards. Background information about the non-profit organizations is provided along with questions for guided discussion about the films. The questions are intended for students to connect to the people and issues profiled by exploring and developing their own viewpoints and opinions.”

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Activities

summerIn Summer Dreams from Our own International Multiples Club, Stephanie shares,

“Then I happened on two calendars put together by our local school district. These calendars have suggested activities for every weekday from the first non-school Monday in June to the last non-school Friday in August. And most of these ideas are cheap or free! AND they will reinforce things that my children have learned this year. AND they will provide a distraction. How could I not be excited?!”

When I read this, I thought it was a great idea!! I also thought it would be a great idea to do for my own classroom. Since I would know what skills and topics were taught, it would be a great way to reinforce the lessons learned during the year and hopefully it will keep students engaged in learning. I remember as a child being so excited that summer had arrived but it wasn’t long before I was complaining to my parents that I was bored and there was nothing to do.

Here is the Greenville County School District Summer Activity Calendar.

I loved looking at the suggestions that were mentioned!

I also thought of other activities that could be done this way. Here are some other ideas:

· Choose a topic for the week (ex.: cars, horse, dinosaurs, reptiles, insects, nutrition, cooking)

· and gear activities to focus on that topic. Activities can include an art activity, cooking activity, and a field trip.

· Choose a project and create something new. Each day could involve one step of the process.

· Keep a journal for each day and keep a record of your actions.

· Young children: Choose a letter for the day and see how many things you can name all day using that letter. They can end the day by drawing some pictures of the things they remember.

· Pretend you bought an island in the Pacific Ocean and you let people come live there. What rules would you make? How would you set up the place so people can live peacefully together?

· Think of something children would like to support (anti litter campaign, no smoking etc.) and come up with a short video promoting their cause.

If you have time, check out the calendar and see if any activities tickle your fancy. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to share.

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

Original image: 'Big Meadows - discovery walk (found a caterpillar)'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73645804@N00/1430509591 by: woodleywonderworks

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Toss the Unnecessary Stuff

storageAs we near the end of the school year here in the US, it is time to think about getting rid of the old.

Get rid of:

· those old books that have outdated information,

· Old workbooks that have pictures of today’s people with yesterday’s hairdos.

· Maps of the world with countries that don’t exist anymore.

· Folders full of worksheets that you will never use.

· Paperwork from years ago that is meaningless.

When I retired from teaching 4 years ago, I saved boxes and boxes of stuff that I would want to use again if I decided to go back to teaching. I saved my favorite workbooks, reference books, and folders and folders of lessons that I enjoyed teaching. For 4 years, these materials sat in my dining room blocking the way to any use of this beautiful room. It also kept us from entertaining because I was not willing to part with any of this stuff.

This year I finally decided that I probably would not go back to teach in the public school since I have enjoyed teaching on the university level now. I enjoy teaching teachers and showing them the effective strategies that made my classroom successful. I enjoy sharing success stories of my students as they made their way into the world.

I packed up many of my children and young adult literature and delivered the boxes to my friend who teaches in middle school. I wasted 4 years by hoarding them in my dining room when students could have been reading them. At least the literature is timeless and won’t be out of date no matter when they read them. It was hard for me to part with my library because I enjoyed buying the books out of my own money and sharing the books with my students. As I went through the books, I couldn’t stop the fond memories that came back to me.

Then I packed up all the resource books that I thought my teacher friend could still use. A lot of the books were still useful and could be used to enhance the lessons that she will be teaching.

Unfortunately there was a tremendous amount of material that was out of date and useless. I guess it was hard for me to part with some of the books and files because again, they brought back some good memories. But I wish I had gotten rid of them earlier. Maybe someone would have been able to use them a long time ago before they became obsolete. None of the files I have would be of any use for anyone

I wish someone had given me suggestions so that I didn’t end up saving a bunch of useless stuff.

Here are some suggestions that I would give a new teacher.

1. Rate your materials (1 is something you used a lot, 2 sometimes and 3 not at all this year.

2. Write this rating of 1 or 2 and the date on a tag and label the material.

3. Toss all your 3s (offer it to someone else, donate it to Goodwill, or trash it!). Do not keep 3s around.

4. Store all your 1s together and 2s together.

5. At the end of the year, repeat this process. Decide if any of your 2s should become 3s. Toss any 3s

I think this would have saved me a lot of space and needless energy over the years. I think I need to apply this system to my clothes too and see how it works

Do you use a system to keep yourself from collecting too much “stuff”? If so, please share your system!

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

Original image: 'Went to an auction today.'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28591968@N00/139366184 by: Joel Washing

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Take the Mystery Out of Learning

mysteryI am currently doing an online knit-along to make a Mystery Shawlette. The designer is giving us the pattern in parts which come out online on certain days. I have never done this before so I find it exciting and interesting. But I think the reason is that I know how to do the individual stitches and there are lots of online friends to go to for support. I also have made a few shawls before so I have an idea of what it should look like in theory. But I have no idea what it will actually look like when I am finished and if I will like it or not. Part of the fun at this stage is the ability to create something new with the skills that I have.

I kind of feel like I am putting a jigsaw puzzle together but I have no idea what it will look like when it is put together. I am given only a few puzzle pieces at a time and I have faith that it will all fit together and come out beautifully. I can use some reasoning skills and see which parts fit together as well as some color matching but I have no idea of the big picture.

I wonder if that is how I teach my students sometimes. I teach individual skills but they have no idea how to fit these skills together to make anything. Then eventually I ask them to use these skills to create something new but I don’t give them a clue as to what the finished product should be like. Sometimes I don’t help them practice using these skills to make something they recognize first.

I need to give them visuals to see the finished project so they can understand what I expect them to create. As they feel comfortable using the skills they have learned, they will feel confident to try them on new creations. Eventually they may feel confident to come up with their own designs. Using their own emotions and knowledge, their new creations can be things that I had never imagined before. The possibilities can be endless.

But first, I have to take the mystery out of learning. I can’t jump into the mystery without first making sure that my students know the necessary skills. Once I know they are able to perform the skills, I need to show them how to use them together to make something new. By modeling the use of the skills, they learn how and when to use these skills. Once they see how I do it, they need to perform the same task using the same skills. When they could see how to put it all together, they can then take the skills to create something new.

I like the thought of giving the tasks in small steps. I like the thrill of the mystery but I’m not sure this would work in a classroom setting. Many of my students are easily frustrated and I’m afraid this would turn them off. Due to their previous challenges and frustrations, I think making learning a mystery would not help them at all. In order for my students to be successful, I need to take the mystery out of learning!

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

Original image: 'Puzzling'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29818924@N00/409083204 by: John Hritz

Monday, May 23, 2011

Standing Indian Camp Out

035(If you want to see pictures of this weekend, click here: Friday and Saturday)

I had an awesome weekend camping with friends in NC. We got to the group site at Standing Indian campground first and set up our tent. Of course I forgot the batteries for the pump to blow up our air mattress so we headed to Franklin for supplies and lunch. When we arrived back at camp, the others had arrived and we did a short hike (4 miles) to Pickens Nose. At the end, we even saw some rock climbers as well as wildflowers. The rhododendron was in full bloom. We saw a junco nest on the trail under a step. It was truly amazing. I never knew birds built nests like that. Of course the views were breath taking!

Then on Saturday we did a killer hike (7 miles with 2000 ft. elevation gain) to Albert Mountain Fire Tower by way of Bear Pen Trail and Appalachian Trail. We met some Univ. of Georgia students who were taking a environmental class and they showed us a vireo nest in a tree and we all thought it was just blown debris. Amazing what I learned about birds this weekend. I thought I would never make it up to the fire tower and the last half mile was straight up hill and was almost rock climbing. I did finally get to the top of the fire tower and had a 360 degree view of the scenery and it made that miserable uphill worth it.

Flora and Fauna include:

1. Rhododendron

2. Junco’s nest with baby bird

3. Indian Cucumber

4. Yellow Star Grass

5. Trillium

6. Clinton’s Lily

7. Jack in the Pulpit

8. Mayapple

9. Ferns

10. Squaw root

11. Toothwort

12. Mushroom

13. Ladybugs

14. Vireo nest with bird in it.

There were 15 of us camping and I enjoyed being with them so much! Some of these friends I only see once a year at this campout so it is wonderful to catch up on news.

(crossposted on Life of Loonyhiker blog)

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

Original image: 'Rhododendron’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23240330@N03/5748081706/in/set-72157626656446919 by: Pat Hensley

Friday, May 20, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 5/20/11

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!
Resource Centre – “I’m hoping to encourage more teachers to link with their ideas many of which will be able to be used by parents with their children at home. For those who are not teachers, there is a great way for teachers to get some informal training and support.”
Who Am I? – a history mystery, you are given 6 mystery people and need to choose 2 pieces of evidence to help you figure out who they are.
Google Art Project - Explore museums from around the world, discover and view hundreds of artworks at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share your own collection of masterpieces.
Trading Around the World – “Play this game to experience the challenges and excitement of international trade. See if you can get the best price for the goods you sell and the biggest bargains for the goods you buy. Watch how the global economy is doing: the prices you'll be able to get and the deals you can make depend on how healthy the global economy is.”
Tsunami Mapper – “This mapplet shows how your local beach could be affected by a tsunami. Simply type in your location and click 'Find' to center the map. Then enter the wave height, the direction for the wave to travel, and double click on the tsunami starting point.”
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celebrate Uniqueness

uniquenessIn ReThinking: "He Doesn't Want to be Seen as Different" from EdTech Solutions - Teaching Every Student, Karen Janowski says,

“Unfortunately, I realize another team is unaware of Universal Design for Learning principles.  If they understood UDL, they would appreciate the importance of offering MULTIPLE methods of engagement, presentation and expression. Instead, they are sticking to the "one size fits all" approach, an approach which fails to meet the needs of all learners. It's an approach that allows teams to agree, "He doesn't want to be seen as different." 

My challenge to the team is to change the culture, don't let the student be seen as different. Offer multiple methods of expression. Give choices. Offer alternatives to the traditional methods which fail many kids.”

Maybe we need to think about what message we are telling kids. By trying to make everyone fit one size, we are telling them that it is wrong to be different. I’m not sure that they start off believing that they don’t want to be different. As children grow and observe, they learn that adults expect them to fit in, to conform to the rules, to be the same. We teach them that they don’t want to be seen as different.

We need to start spreading the message that it is okay to be different because we all are different.

Isn’t that why we all have our own unique fingerprints?

Don’t we all like different foods? Different clothes? Have different personalities?

We are not made to be carbon copies of each other!

I believe when we stop trying to force this message on children, everyone will be much happier and our children will be more successful, not just in school but in life.

Maybe if we start changing the way we see children, there will be more tolerance in the world for those that are different. Maybe it won’t be such an issue to be different. Suddenly by being different, we all fit in the same group – the Different group. Suddenly we all belong.

By allowing students to learn in different ways we are acknowledging their uniqueness and teaching them that it is okay. We are showing others that it is okay too. Suddenly being different is okay. Eventually this message will spread but it has to start somewhere. Will you start sending that message today?

It is time.

Celebrate uniqueness.

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

Original image: 'rain rain go away'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21560098@N06/3555181787 by: Nina Matthews

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Using Available Resources

AmishIn How Technology Purchases and Policies Failed My Students from The Tempered Radical, Bill Ferriter shares,

“What really sets me off is that our entire campus is blanketed by wireless access points.  I can take my teacher laptop ANYWHERE and get online.

But teacher laptops are the only wireless devices—outside of our two outdated, slow, badly-vandalized-yet-always-reserved mobile laptop carts—in the entire building.

Worse yet, students aren’t currently allowed to connect their own wireless devices—laptops, netbooks, iTouches, handheld gaming systems—to our school’s network.”

This is a great example of how we don’t use available resources and waste taxpayers’ money!

It just makes sense to allow students to bring their own laptops, netbooks, itouches, or use cell phones with teachers permission and supervision in the classroom. Think of all the money that would be saved from buying these things for the school. The money saved could be used to pay for more bandwith which would be used at the school. Actual relevant learning could take place.

Let’s face it, computers are here to stay and is a part of everyone’s life every day. Why we continue to ignore this in the classroom is beyond my comprehension. To constantly complain about allowing students to do this is unsafe is just plain hogwash. It is an excuse and nothing else. Sure there are sexual predators out there in cyberspace but they are also in real life. Does that stop us from letting our children go out with their friends to the mall or to the movies? No. We teach them to be safe. We protect them with knowledge. We don’t hide them away and keep them ignorant.

This would be like teaching about horse and buggies as the main mode of transportation in today’s world. We would teach the rules of getting around in horse and buggies and ignore the fact that everyone is driving cars. We would teach students how to take care of the horses and repair the buggies but none of that is relevant to our students!

There is so much creating and collaborating going on and we need to make sure our students have access to the right tools in order to move forward. It is no wonder to me that other countries are moving ahead faster than we are. They are providing the necessary tools for their students and encouraging them to learn to be productive in today’s world. We are too busy holding our students back using obsolete tools and hiding our heads in the sand while the world around us leaps forward.

This is so frustrating to me whenever I think about it. I talk about it endlessly to other educators and parents who get the picture. I guess that is like preaching to the choir. We need to contact our legislators and administrators to impress upon them the simple solutions that are out there. We have to stop letting them take the easy road by not rocking the boat. Someone needs to start the ball rolling!

Does your school allow students to bring in their own tools? If so, how effective is it? If not, how can you get your school to allow this?

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

Original image: 'Looking Back...'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/57038667@N00/227582138 by: Cindy Seigle

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Communication Magician

magicIn I am a Special Ed Teacher (read communication facilitator) from Teaching All Students, Patrick states,

“Special Education teachers have many hats - we are inclusion facilitators, behavior modifiers, aide trainers, academic advisors, and the list goes on.  One hat that I think is often overlooked in many cases is:  communication facilitator.”

How true this is! But sometimes I like to think of special ed teachers as communication magicians. Many times it is up to us to figure out what the student needs or wants to say through the students’ words and actions. The administration and general ed teachers look to us as if we can pull a rabbit out of the hat without any effort. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a teacher show up at my door and say in frustration, “Do something with little Johnny! He is driving me crazy!” Or a teacher will send little Johnny to my room as a last resort.

Many times when I sit down and talk with the student, I find out that usually he didn’t understand the directions or questions. Or there was too many distractions in the class for the student to concentrate. Or there are so many variables that affect this student and I have to investigate to find out the real problem before we can find a solution.

I understand that in the general ed classroom the teacher just doesn’t have the time to do this investigation and that is why it is left up to me. Sometimes it is easy to get frustrated and resentful because I am asked to do this but then I realize that it is in the best interest for the student for me to take time to do this. Once I am able to determine the problem, I am able to work with others to come up with a solution and then it is a win-win situation.

Sometimes the student isn’t willing to be open about the problems and will blame it on the teacher. As a communication magician, I need to get the student to open up about the true cause of the problems.

I start by asking questions that ask for details and this helps to not put the student on the defensive. I ask for details about what was the lesson about, where was the student sitting, where was the teacher, what was the student asked to do, what else was going on in the classroom. By asking for specifics and leaving the opinions/emotions on the side, it helps to calm the student down. Sometimes I might even ask the student to draw a picture of the location of everyone.

Next I ask for details about the lesson. What was the topic and the objectives? I then move to find out specifically what the student was asked to do. Usually at this point, I find out that the student doesn’t know. Now I need to investigate why the student doesn’t know. Did he not understand what was asked? Where others distracting him? Was he distracted by other things (personal issues, health issues etc.)?

Once we figure out what the problem is, I ask the student to help come up with a solution that I can bring back to the teacher. Many students are surprised that they are asked this. Too many times I have seen solutions given that the student doesn’t agree with or is not asked to give input on and this is why that solution doesn’t usually work. If the student has something invested in the solution, they will work harder at making it work.

When the student returns to class and is able to apply the solution, everyone is happy! The rabbit has been pulled out of the hat once again!

I’m so saying this process always works and sometimes the parents need to be called in to help find the solution but this is a great way to start. Calling in others is more like sawing a person in half rather than a simple rabbit out of the hat trick. But whatever is necessary to help the student be more successful is what my goal is all about.

How are you a communication magician (or facilitator)?

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

Original image: 'Day 167 - The Magician'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/35258026@N03/4321365261 by: Christophe Verdier

Monday, May 16, 2011

Measuring My Writing

In The Inclined Plane---Or Raising Chickens, C. Hope Clark-Blue Tape MeasureStyle from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,        

“As writers, how do we measure the work we do?  Do we solely count up the places where we've been published?  Do we tally up the hours we spend on writing every week?  Do we count up the "tasks" we accomplish every week  ( __ queries sent off, ___ submissions mailed, ___ many rough drafts started, and so on)?
         And what work do we consider the most difficult?  The students discovered that the same amount of work was being done each time (the length of the ramp was unchanged) but the work was easier to do when the ramp was gentle versus steep. What is the most difficult work you do as a writer?”

In order for me to measure my writing, I need to decide on a few things.

· What is my purpose?

· Who is my audience?

· How will I communicate my thoughts?

· How committed am I to what I am writing about?

My overall purpose is to share my thoughts and ideas mainly about teaching, sometimes about life in general with others.

My audience is mostly educators or anyone interested in education.

I want to communicate my thoughts by sharing from my point of view, by including examples from my personal experiences.

I have to believe in what I’m writing about. I have to believe that what I’m sharing is important.

I have a self imposed schedule of writing Monday through Friday with weekends off. This works for me because I am a schedule oriented person and I like things to run on clockwork. It stresses me out if I can’t figure out a schedule for myself and then this stress would keep me from writing. Having a schedule also helps me plan my writing and looking constantly for new ideas, inspirations, motivations about topics to write about.

As my subscribers grow and comments come in, I feel that is an indication that my writing is improving. Compliments sent to me by my readers makes me feel so thrilled that it is like an enhancement to my writing. These things make me want to write more. It is a validation that my ideas and thoughts are being heard and people are willing to enter the conversation with me. It is also thrilling when I’m reading someone else’s blog and see them refer to my blog in their post! (That sounds so conceited, doesn’t it?!)

Some days the thoughts just roll off my head like a roller coaster out of control. Other times I know what I want to say but it just doesn’t come out right or easy. It takes lots of revisions to make it come out the way I want. Sometimes I just have to accept that the last version is the best that I can do and throw it out for all to see. I’m constantly amazed that the posts I think would interest the most people don’t seem to cause a ripple and others that I think might not matter to others causes the biggest impact.

I grew up in a world where you don’t rock the boat. My high level classes were more of rote memorization and regurgitation of learning with very little critical thinking. My writing has pushed me into the world of critical thinking. I constantly struggle to find out how I feel about different topics and other people’s beliefs. Then when I decide if I agree or disagree, I force myself to show why I feel this way. This is the hardest part of writing for me. It is hard for me to write my thoughts clearly and not doubt or second guess myself when I do this. Writing for everyone else to see makes me feel so vulnerable. What if someone disagrees with me! I am learning to find myself through my writing and I feel like I am growing into my own skin every day.

When I first started, I couldn’t imagine myself writing on a regular basis. Now I can’t imagine myself NOT writing on a regular basis. I guess for me that this is the true measurement. I can read my earlier posts and actually see how much I’ve grown and improved, not just in my writing but also in my own person.

So, how do you measure your writing? Please share!

(A thank you goes out to Sioux who is constantly inspiring me and motivating me to grow! If you get a chance, please check out her blog because I feel it is a must read!)

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

Original image: 'Blue Tape Measure'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42179515@N06/3901158717 by: Darren Hester

Friday, May 13, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 5/13/11

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!

Internet Safety Hangman – Fun and educational game; great to use when you have some extra time in the classroom

Joliprint - Save web articles as PDF for reading later.

Arts Alive – “the National Arts Centre's performing arts educational website. Learn about orchestral music, dance, English and French language theatre, and explore engaging archival collections.”

JellyCam – for making free stop-motion movies.

Weatherspark – “a new type of weather website, with interactive weather graphs that allow you to pan and zoom through the entire history of any weather station on earth. Get multiple forecasts for the current location, overlaid on records and averages to put it all in context.”

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Straight A Students

In Beware the straight-A student from Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson asks,
“But here is another concern I have about straight-A students: Are they demonstrating, not intelligence, but the ability to conform, to mindlessly follow instructions, to support the established order? Do truly original thinkers and creative problem-solvers get high grades in school?”
I confess to being one of those straight A students because my parents did not accept anything less. I was such an overachiever that I did not want to disappoint my parents, ever! My parents were more proud of my As than I ever was. Of course, I was considered a nerd and a social misfit among my peers so I hung out with the other nerds and social misfits. I never misbehaved and I worked hard to please everyone.
When I went to college, it was so competitive that when I got my first B I practically had a nervous breakdown. Of course I fit right in with everyone so I was no longer considered a nerd or social misfit. But if my grades fell, I believed I would become a misfit due to low grades. So, I pulled all-nighters studying and even told myself I wasn’t working hard enough. Eating and sleeping took a back seat to improving my grade which of course took a toll on my health.
As Doug points out, I didn’t know how to use critical thinking to solve problems. I know how to memorize and regurgitate information but no one taught me to problem solve. I worked so hard to please everyone that I really didn’t know what I was good at or what I needed to do to find this out. I was scared whenever I was put in a situation where someone didn’t spell out exactly what I needed to do, say, or think. What good were my straight As at this time? I didn’t feel prepared for real life at all!
When I became a teacher, I realized that I didn’t want my students to focus on the grades as much as the learning. I worked with parents to make them realize the importance of this by sharing with them my experiences. At times I felt that my street-wise students were much smarter than me and even told them that. Many of my students had low self concepts and told me that I was the smartest person they knew. We had many discussions about how book smart doesn’t mean that I’m any better than they are and that they have helped me learn a lot about common sense. It made them feel so proud especially when I told them that I truly believed this.
When I would have an inspiration about teaching a certain topic, I would get all excited. Sometimes my excitement would get the better of me and I would toss the idea out to my students. They loved to help me look at the pros and cons of the idea and offer many useful suggestions. Usually we were able to work out a plan that made us all happy and since they invested time and energy into the project, I had no problem keeping them engaged in the learning. If I took the time to do all of this, the lessons were usually successful!
Do you encourage straight As? Please share why or why not!
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Put it on the [flickr] fridge'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7577938@N02/5268692927 by: Rebecca Bernard

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finding Success

workIn Poking the Box and Doing The Work! from Angela Maiers Educational Services, Inc. , Angela Maiers talks about the Domino Street team’s first “Worlds Biggest Book Club” with our first book, “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield.” One quote she shares is:

“Success doesn’t come to you. You go to it.”Marva Collins

Then she asks, “What does “doing the work” mean to you?”

Of course I couldn’t resist answering this!

First, let me say, that many times I look around at people who seem disappointed with life and their future. They stand around waiting for success to hit them like it was the same as winning the lottery. When they don’t win, they blame their failure of getting the things they want on not winning. They depend on outside sources in order to achieve success and happiness with their lives. What a sad shape they are in.

As with many things that I do in life, I feel that I get out of life what I put into it. I guess that means that “doing the work” is the only way I will get what I want. I can’t stand around waiting for something to happen because life doesn’t work that way.

Growing up with a hard working father who supported my mom and the three of us girls, money was tight. I was told that my dream of going to a private out of state college was impossible. But once I knew my dream, I worked to make it happen. I didn’t let anyone keep me from working on achieving what I planned for my life. Yet, I didn’t wait for money to fall in my lap.

I learned that good grades would help me win scholarships. Then I learned that great grades would help me win lots of scholarships. So I needed to make it happen.

I learned that I could save money by working and not spending. I also learned that working more than one job would bring in more money. And I learned that I did not need all the things that my friends were buying just to fit in with the crowd.

Once I became a teacher, I had to find my own way of teaching that worked for me. Even though I saw other teachers using good strategies, sometimes they didn’t work for me. I learned that once I found what worked for me, I was able to be successful in teaching. When I wasn’t trying to be someone that I wasn’t and I could truly find my own style, I was happy with what I was doing. Too many young teachers give up before they find that style. I had to work to find this point which involved many trials and errors, self evaluation, and also constructive criticism from my colleagues, parents, and students. I had to be willing to accept their opinions and use it to help me find my way.

I guess “doing the work” to me, means persistence. I refuse to give up. I may not be able to find a solution right away or even tomorrow. It might mean that I need to put something on the back burner for awhile but I don’t forget about it. Moving to something else for a little while may actually help me relax and gain perspective in order to come back to find the solution. It is too easy to give up and I don’t believe that taking the easy road will ever make me feel happy with myself.

So, now I ask, what does “doing the work” mean to you?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Cat Excavator'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/67513462@N00/123643126 by: Bill Jacobus

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street - A Book Review

ONE DAY AMAZING MORNING ORANGE STREETI recently read the book One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin 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 5 out of 5. I enjoyed reading about the characters and the author describes them in ways that you feel like you actually know them. Great topics to discuss in the classroom include friendship, family, relationships, changes, family illnesses, neighbors, powers of observation, curiosity, and even magic. I think the students who read this book would enjoy it and be able to relate to one of the characters. This book is just chock full of learning opportunities and I would definitely use it in the classroom.
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thank You Mothers!

mothersYesterday was Mother’s Day here in the US (I don’t know if other countries celebrate it and if they do, on the same day.) I want to thank all the mothers out there, not just in my circle of family and friends but all the mothers who have supported me in my teaching career.

I remember all the mothers who were in PTA (or PTSA) on the elementary school level who were class mothers, or PTA officers. Some of the mothers brought goodies to my class. Others went with me when I went on home visits.

When I taught on the high school level, many of the parents were involved in Teacher Appreciation Week as well as special gifts throughout the year.

Many of my students’ mothers have been there when I called to support me when I was teaching their children. I had such a special relationship with many of the mothers that when I felt discouraged, I would call them for a pep talk. When they felt discouraged, they would call me and I would try to be encouraging. It was this kind of support that made me feel great about teaching.

Some of the students’ mothers knew me from extracurricular activities around the school because their children weren’t in my classroom. They also were supportive and encouraging. They always found time to thank me for supporting their children.

Mothers are important! Whether she is your mother or someone else’s mother, a mother is special! Thank you again to all the mothers who have touched my life!

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

Original image: 'We Three Lions---A Family Portrait.'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/80835774@N00/2286088319 by: Vearl Brown

Friday, May 6, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 5/6/11

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!

Google Apps Lesson Plan Selector – “Easily incorporate Google Apps into your curriculum with these classroom-ready lesson plans. Have a Google Apps lesson plan? Submit it for review.”

Safety Land – from AT&T; game for kids to learn and practice safety on the internet; at the end of the game the students even receive a certificate that can be printed out.

Random Name Selector – tech tool for pulling names out of a hat

Anatomy Arcade – “makes basic human anatomy come ALIVE through awesome free flash games, interactives and videos.”

Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?Put in an amount for income and filing status (married, single, etc.) and it will show you how your tax dollars were spent.

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

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Day 4

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Here are my notes from Day 4 and pictures can be found HERE:

In the morning we had a wilflower hike with Richard Clements, Mary Priestly, and Carol Ann McCormick on the Chestnut Top Trail (by the Townsend Y). There were a lot of people so we broke up into 3 groups and we were in Richard’s group. Here are the flora and fauna that we saw:

1. Maidenhair fern

2. Sweet Cicely

3. Crossvine

4. Spice bush (make tea out of the stems)

5. Solomon’s Plume

6. Solomon’s Seal (the root part looks like a seal of Solomon)

7. Bloodroot

8. Dutchman’s Pipe

9. Seersucker sedge

10. Miterwort

11. Stonecrop

12. Heuchera

13. Purple Phacelia

14. Golden Alexander

15. Hepatica

16. Beardtongue

17. Shaggybark hickory

18. Wild yam

19. Fragile Fern

20. Milkweed

21. Firepink (base of flower is sticky to catch flies so it is also called Catch Fly)

22. Summer bluet

23. Devil’s Walking Stick (has lots of thorns)

24. Rattlesnake weed

25. Cranefly Orchid

26. Galax

27. Little Brown Jug Ginger

28. Sassafras

29. Dwarf Iris

30. Maple Leaf Virburnum

31. Doghobble

32. Squaw root (some people call this bear root)

33. Black throated Green warbler

34. Ebony Spleenwort

35. Marginal wood fern

36. Yellow mandarin

37. Yellow wood

38. Evergreen wood fern

After lunch we did another wildflower hike on the Kanati Fork Trail with Mike Dennis and Leon Bates. The flowers we saw were:

1. Canada Mayflower

2. Solomon Seal

3. Indian Cucumber

4. NY Fern

5. Partridge berry

6. Snail (which is a hermaphrodite)

7. Sweet white violet

8. Witch hazel (curled leaves with a caterpillar in it)

9. Clinton lily (also called Speckled wood lily)

10. Striped Maple

11. Doghobble

12. Grapevine

13. Virginia Creeper

14. Foamflower

15. Rattlesnake plantain

16. Wide eyed vireo

17. Buffalo nut shrub

18. Wild yam

19. Wild hydrangea

20. Carex

21. Vasey’s trillium

22. Trillium grandiflorum

23. Rattlesnake fern

24. Trout lettuce (saxifrage)

25. Purple Meadow Parsnip

26. Toothwort

27. Christmas fern

28. Sassafras

29. Wood Bettony

30. Meadow rue

31. Showy Orchid

32. Umbrella Leaf

Over the past four days, I noticed it was easier and easier to identify some of the flowers. The repetition really helped and seeing the flowers sometimes in different stages and in different places helped me to generalize the knowledge that I had learned.

I think this was a worthwhile event to attend and if anyone is able to go next year, I would highly recommend it. The cost wasn’t too bad ($75 for the week plus hotel, which was $49 per night for us). I learned a lot and met lots of wonderful people!

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

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Day 3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Here are my notes from Day 3 and pictures can be found HERE:

Our morning session was Forest Foods and Pharmacy led by Darryl Patton. This was an awesome session and I would definitely do this again! I have lots of notes that he talked about but I do not recommend this to anyone or encourage anyone to try these. I may do some more research on this before I even try some of this but I found the information interesting.

1. To make tinctures use 80 proof vodka.

2. Broadleaf Plantain (ribwort) – mild tasting like spinach,eat in a salad or cook like spinach. Can be used on brown recluse spider bites; abcess teeth, crushed leaves on bee stings; cilium seeds like Metamucil; blend, strain, and drink juice

3. Wild Lettuce – makes you sleepy, kind of a non narcotic opium; soak in alcohol, squeeze out and add more, then boild and dry out, take as a sedative or pain reliever; young leaves in salad; latex takes off warts, moles, skin cancer (like milk from fig tree)

4. Sassafras – calming, relaxing; helps hunger pains, used in tea as blood purifier, jaundice, hepatitis, helps live, antiviral, can make you sweat; used to make hair shiny and grow, keeps mice out.

5. Bay leaf- gets rid of roaches

6. Poison Ivy – dry 3 small leaves and eat once a day for 2 weeks to build up an immunity

7. Joe Pye Weed – like boneset; roots are antiviral, can make you sweat; tea

8. Tulip poplar – old time bitter tonic, stimulates liver, anti-inflammatory; builds appetite, makes you lose weight, use bark, pods

9. White pine – syrup; cough medicine, expectorant, soothing effect, bronchitis, congestion, resin seals it and heals it, boil needles for vitamin C

10. Greenbriar – raw or steamed with butter and salt; root is good too; steroid precursor, builds muscle in men, hormonal for women; anti-inflammatory, good for arthritis, good for IBS; suck on berries for hoarse throat; use like stuffed grape leaves

11. Lichen – (ooznia); antiviral, antibacterial; medicated salve for 3rd degree burns; fights MRSA and brown recluse spider bites; boil tea or use as tincture

12. Cracked capped polipor – shelf fungus on locust; anticancer properties, antiviral, antibacterial, fights uterine cancer, boil and drink tea

13. Violets – cook like spinach or raw in salads, more vitamin C than oranges; has rutin which strengthens veins and capillaries, chew on it can cure heartburn, builds body to fight cancer

14. Prickly Ash – shrub in the ginseng family,circulates hormones (helps lymph nodes); take bark and put on sore tooth; make tea

15. Yucca – use for cordage; root for anti-inflammatory; arthritis, eat flowers; leaves and root for antiseptic for hair and soap, stalk for handdrill to make fire

16. Heal all – for herpes, shingles, chicken pox; inhibits virus from reproducing; flu; respiratory illness; use in tincture (For tinctures- mix pint jar full of plant, add 80 proof vodka, stick on dark shelf; take 15-20 drops (1/2 tsp) 3-5 times a day)

17. Homemade Airborne – Japanese honeysuckle and forsythia blossoms; make tincture

18. Winter huckleberry – diabetes and blood pressure

19. To make salves, use lard

20. Crossvine – works on adrenal; better than ginseng (make tea using leaves or vine or flowers); under leaf is purple and in the winter (solid purple)

21. St. Johns Wort – flowers for mild/moderate depression; soak in olive oil and is great salve for wounds

22. Wild Yarrow – crush and chew and put on bee stings, insect bites or bleeding; put in tincture

23. Wild geranium – acts like alum for diarrhea, dysentery but too much can cause constipation, astringent, internal bleeding, heartburn

24. Squawroot – eat raw, dry and pull off so tannic acid stops bleeding

25. Partridgeberry – helps labor, post partum bleeding, use as tincture

26. Cinquefoil – poor man’s golden seal; astringent, mild antibiotic, mouth ulcers, canker sores, internal bleeding; tea

27. Low thyroid – kelp or bladderwrack

28. Lupus – pokeroot

29. Blackberry Root – dysentery but can make you constipated; make tea, blackberry juice or jelly (jam is a scouring laxative); natural antihistamine

30. Hayfever = fenugreek seeds in powder, thyme, goldenseal, benzenite clay powder. 50/50 fenugreek seed and thyme plus pinch of goldenseal, large pinch of clay (1/4 tsp), mix and put in capsules. Take 2a day or put in applesauce

31. Lyre leaf sage – for nears, heat poultice and put on skin cancer

32. Nine bark hydrangea – root is anti-inflammatory, liver, gall bladder, called stone breaker herb

33. Virginia creeper – make tea for poison ivy in the spring when green

34. Tag Alder – good for hives in children dry green pine cones and burn, use ashes to stop bleeding

35. Sweet shrub is an aphrodisiac

36. Solomon’s seal –bruises, strains, ligaments and tendons; tea

37. Dogwoods – fight malaria dn yellow fever

38. Heuchera – roots are astringent

39. Foamflower – cleansing kidney medicine

40. Dwarf Irises – liver medicine, laxative

41. Pussytoes – poor man’s rabbit tobacco

42. Blood root – cancer, cough,

43. Yellow Dock – natural iron, leaves canbe cooked with fat back, liver herb, blood purifier, salve for skin cancer and wounds that won’t heal

44. Elderberry – flowers (hot tea makes you sweat and cold tea makes you pee), takes off age spots and freckles; antiviral, juice out of fruit is antiviral; gastric purgative, ointments, hard wood for hand drill

45. Jewelweed – for stinging nettles

46. Mullein – poultice heals wounds, inner leaves in tea make you sleep, outer leaves in tea cause nightmares, flowers in tincture for pain relief

47. Dutch white clover – anti cancer

Searching for Salamanders took up the afternoon. This was fun for all ages. I found out there were woodland salamanders and salamanders in the water. We found spotted dusky salamanders, Blue ridge two lined, Oconoluftee, Redbacks, American toad, ring neck snake, blue bellies (seels), Santeetlah.

Come back tomorrow for Day 4.

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

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Day 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Here are my notes from Day 2 and pictures can be found HERE:

Our morning session was about Native Americans using Nature’s Garden led by Karen LaMere from the Winnebago trip.

1. Pioneer men married Native American women for sewing, nurturing
2. Cherokees invented the first alphabet.
3. Fishing involved putting black walnut husks in a mesh bag. Put it in a small pool of water and let it soak. The toxins will stun the fish and make them float up to the top of the water.
4. 3 Sister=corn, beans, squash
5. Dandelion:use roots for tea, greens for salads, and make wine
6. Cattails – new shoots; peel off green leaves, eat whitish stalk like celery.
7. Rosehips – eat skin, spit out seeds, eat rest of it.
8. Nettles – boil 3 times and strain to get rid of hairs, cook with butter and garlic.
9. Queen Anne’s Lace
10. Ginger Root
11. Spearmint
12. Peppermint
13. Wintergreen
14. Partridge berries – eat off ground
15. Juniper berries – make tea
16. Slippery elm – tea
17. Pumpkin seeds
18. Black walnuts
19. Pemmican
20. Wild Rice
21. Hominy
22. Don’t harvest all plants so they can regenerate
23. Books: Edible Wild Plants by Petersen; Native Harvests by Barrie Kavasch– recipes; Spirit of the Harvest by Beverly Cox and martin Jacobs

After lunch we did a wildflower hike from Indian Gap to Newfound Gap. These are the flowers we saw:
1. Spring Beauty (tons all over; the ground was carpeted with this!)
2. Trout Lily
3. Bluets
4. Clinton’s Lily
5. Club Moss
6. Rugel’s Ragwort
7. Viburnum
8. Yellow Birch tree - good for fires
9. Beech
10. Spruce – has square needles
11. Canada Mayflower
12. Turks Cap Lily
13. Yellow Mandarin
14. Toothwort
15. Squirrel Corn
16. Black Cohosh
17. Jack in the Pulpit
18. Umbrella Leaf
19. Partridge berry
20. Indian Cucumber

Come back tomorrow to hear about Day 3.

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

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Day 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Last week we attended the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage which we have never attended before. I was a Pilgrim!! (Say that with a John Wayne tone of voice please! And if you don’t know who that is, please don’t tell me!) I will be sharing my notes and information that I learned during this week.

(Go to my Flickr collection to see pictures from Day 1)

Our first class/hike was on Terrestrial insects led by ranger Andriean Mayor. We started on the Ashopper Branch Trail near the Sugarlands Visitor Center. We saw swallowtail butterflies, parasitic wasps, beetles, millipedes, and lots of different caterpillars. As we hiked up the trail it started to rain but we still continued on. At one point, we heard a loud clap of thunder and then a giant tree falling. We couldn’t see the tree so we were happy that we weren’t near it but we decided to turn back at this point. On the way back, the lady in front of my husband (who was in front of me) stopped to look at something on the left side of the trail. All of a sudden a tree fell on her! The main trunk of the tree missed her head by inches but the branches got her head and arm. We could see that it tore her rain coat and her shirt with some scratches but that is all we saw. Later that night we saw her and she showed us that her whole arm was black and blue! The rangers even called EMS to look her over and said that she might have some broken bones in her hand! It was an exciting morning.

After lunch we had a wildflower hike at the Oconoluftee Visitor Center led by ranger Caitlin Worth. It was a lovely hike along the river. We saw the following plants:
1. Bedstraw
2. Stonecrop
3. Cancer root (near stonecrop)
4. Meadow Parsnip
5. Golden Alexander (near the meadow parsnip)
6. Wood Bettony (reminds me of heal-all but has yellow flowers)
7. Narrow leafed toothwort
8. Jack in the Pulpit
9. Catesby’s Trillium (white nodding trillium)
10. Mayapple
11. Squawroot
12. White phacelia
13. Geraniums

And we even saw a snake, but I’m not sure what kind it was.

n the evening we saw a Chautauqua type program with a man portraying William Bartram. It was interesting to see life from the person’s point of view.

Tomorrow I will share with you Day 2 of our pilgrimage!

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