Monday, October 31, 2011

Education Buzz Carnival 10/31/11

carnival2Another edition of the Education Buzz Carnival is up and running at Bellringers! Don’t miss out on all the fun! See what is going on in the Edusphere. My article on 10 Tips for Confronting Difficult Parents 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

Friday, October 28, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/28/11

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!

Dynamic Periodic Table – interactive periodic table

Squishy Circuits – “Squishy circuits are a project from the Thomas Lab at the University of St. Thomas.  The goal of the project is to design tools and activities which allow kids of all ages to create circuits and explore electronics using play dough.”

My American Farm – “interactive online games which educate as they entertain. Built for educators, learners, and their families, the site offers free downloadable lessons and agricultural activities to explore.”

QRPedia – “is a mobile Web based system which uses QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles to users, in their preferred language.[1][2][3] QR codes can easily be generated to link directly to any Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), but the QRpedia system adds further functionality.”

TenMarks – “Set Up a Free Math Program For Your Class. Create interactive assignments for your students
- with hints and video lessons. Proven to deliver results. TenMarks is mapped to state and common core curriculum standards for grades 2 - high school.”

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Episode 11 October Highlights

Email me at
Yes I Can by Danny O’Flaherty from his Secret Garden CD.:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Reasons for Writing

writingIn Why I Write from Creating a Path for Learning in the 21st Century, bgaskins states,
“I sent out a tweet this morning to #whyiwrite stating “I write to learn.”  But why I write is so much more than those words in a digital space.”
This was such a great post because it made me think about my reason for writing. I think I more than one reason for writing but the reasons may change depending on where I am at that point in my life. I have been writing in this blog for four years now and have rarely missed a day which has resulted in 1160 posts. Obviously I have a reason or reasons or there is no way that I could have continued to write that many posts. Of course, my husband says I have an opinion about everything and will talk to the wall if it would listen.
So, here are my reasons for writing.
I write:
1. To learn.
2. To connect with others.
3. To share my knowledge.
4. To clarify my thoughts.
5. To understand my own thoughts.
6. To share my beliefs and philosophy of learning and life.
7. To help other educators and parents.
8. To share good and bad experiences in my career of teaching.
9. To share helpful tips and resources that others might find useful.
10. To start meaningful conversations that inspire others.
Why do you write? Please share.
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Image: 'road trip journal'

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Echoview Fiber Mill Tour

(click here for pictures of the tour)

023This past weekend was the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) which I always look forward to going. In the mail I received an invitation to the Echoview Fiber Mill which is still under construction. They shuttled us to the mill and even fed us lunch which I thought was really thoughtful.

The building (as seen from the model and drawings from the architect who explained it all to us) will be very lovely when finished. In fact, it was a huge building and much larger than I expected. There is a large reception area with a retail area on the side. There will be meeting rooms for community groups as well as a library with internet capabilities for those who need it. Julie (the owner), Didi (The marketing director), and Gwen (the mill manager) were very welcoming!

As a beginner spinner, I really don’t know much about processing fiber so felt this was an excellent opportunity to learn. I thought I would take the time to share pictures of the mill and the process as it was explained on the tour and in their brochure.

Here are the steps:

1. Washing/Scouring which involves cleaning the fiber of dirt, veggie matter, and other debris.

2. Opening/Picking which eliminates tables and clumps.

3. Dehairing separates coarse fibers from softer fibers and eliminates any remaining debris.

4. Carding to get fibers separated and aligned.

5. Roving/Sliver and Batts are created.

When you want your fleece processed, you would call customer service and they send you what is needed to send the fleece to them. They mark it with an RFID number so the customer can track it through the process. They also plan on putting some kind of dye in it so they know exactly what your fleece is so it doesn’t’ get mixed up with anyone else’s fleece.

I never miss an opportunity for a tour if at all possible. Sometimes our students can’t always go on tours so with pictures and explanations, it is the next best thing. As a visual learner, it helps to see things rather than just read about them. Even my husband who is not a spinner or a knitter found it very interesting.

Have you ever gone on a fiber mill tour? What other tours have you found interesting? Please share.

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Furman 30th Year Reunion

(Click here for Reunion Pictures)

002This weekend I celebrated my 30th year reunion from Furman University (Class of 1981). It was a great time of celebration and reconnection. I also met our new President, Rod Smolla for the first time at the Alumni Awards breakfast and was very impressed so I look forward to good things happening at Furman under his leadership. The Furman Singers singing Brown Eyes always warms my heart and I look forward to that each year (I think that is my favorite part of the breakfast!). I actually took a video of it and posted it on Youtube if you would like to hear it: Brown Eyes. Even the football game turned out better than many expected since Furman beat Wofford 26-21!

I felt like this was the best reunion we have ever had. Maybe I wasn’t so tense or felt the need to impress and could just be myself. Everyone looked great and seemed to have a good time Friday and Saturday. I remember thinking at past reunions that I wish I had done something more exciting in my life than just being a teacher to share with others. My class of 1981 has produced very impressive, important, and even famous people so you can see why I might have been a little intimidated. Maybe this year was great because I have accepted myself for what I am and therefore could enjoy everyone else’s successes rather than being envious. I realized that I was quite happy and proud that I am a teacher and feel I have accomplished a lot in these past 30 years.

I think in the past I was too egocentric (it’s easy to look back and see myself this way rather than in the present time) and now I was more interested in everyone else. I wanted to know what they were doing now and more about their families. I wanted to know how they met their spouse and what exciting things were they planning for the future.

Maybe it is my old age or lack of memory but many faces looked familiar even though their names wouldn’t come to my brain. Thank goodness for our Facebook group that enabled us to connect before this weekend. I mentioned to others that it was a great way to get to know each other again so this weekend was more of a reconnection rather than just getting reacquainted. I think we plan to keep our Facebook page to keep this connection going.

When some of us were talking about these reconnections, we wondered if we were friends with some of these people 30 years ago or did we develop into friends over the 30 years. Since I was a dining hall worker for my four years at Furman, I’m not sure I can remember who my friends were as compared to people that I served every day for meals. I have seen many of the same faces at the reunions and gotten to know them better from our gatherings. As we exchange business cards with promises of staying in touch, I’m grateful to have a chance to develop better relationships with couples that have touched our lives over the years.

Last night’s dinner was at High Cotton in downtown Greenville and it was a fabulous venue for a reunion. We had a buffet with tables set around the room. People could nibble off the buffet the whole evening and mingle with others without any rigid constraints. Our committee had planned a short program involving a trivia game but we played it by ear as to whether we would do anything or not. As it worked out, everyone seemed happy visiting with each other so Ken just played his presentation with trivia questions and answers on the screen for people to look at if they wanted to. It was perfect! Having a sit down dinner being served tends to tie people down to one table and eating every course there which limits the ability to visit with others. I’m so glad Donna worked this out for us in this way. I think I was able to speak to everyone who was there and even met some that I didn’t remember knowing. I think we all looked pretty good even if we were 30 years older!

It was such a success that I look forward to getting together in another 5 years! Go Furman Paladins!!!

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Friday, October 21, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/21/11

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!

Word Tamer – interactive site helping story telling development by developing characters, settings, plots. I think students would really enjoy the appealing way this approached!

Magazinify – “Convert your Bookmarks and Favorite Articles into a pdf and Mail It To Yourself.”

What People Don't Get About My Job: From A(rmy Soldier) to Z(ookeeper) “Over the summer, The Atlantic gave our readers a simple prompt: Tell us what people don't get or appreciate about your job. The response was so eloquent and overwhelming, it was practically encyclopedic. So we made an encyclopedia. From A to Z, we went through your responses to find the best vocational essays for each letter. These essays are as short as a short sentence and as long as an full article. They are funny, sad, often indignant, and always insightful. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed finding them in our comment sections and emails.”

The Kids Science Challenge – “The Kids' Science Challenge is a FREE nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders to submit experiments and problems for SCIENTISTS and ENGINEERS to solve. Play science games, watch videos, and enter to win awesome prizes and trips!”

Action Tracker – “The place to do and track small, positive Actions, with a wealth of stats, videos, useful links and resources to help you do more.”

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogs for STEM Educators

bloggerRecently I was notified that my blog was included in the 50 Best Blogs for STEM Educators. I was thrilled to see my blog included with many of those that I read and admire. If you have time, please check out this site for other blogs that you might find interesting.

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

Image: 'Rosie the Blogger'

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Estie the Mensch - A Book Review

ESTIE THE MENSCHI recently read the book Estie the Mensch by Jane Kohuth • illustrated by Roseanne Litzinger 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 is a great book for young children. It deals with a little girl who wants to be different and how people accept those who are different. It also would be a great introduction on appropriate behavior in different situations. With the great illustrations, it will be easy to hold a child’s attention. The word “Mensch” is also introduced and can lead into a discussion about other cultures and religions along with tolerance of those who are different than us. I would give this book a 5 out of 5 rating.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

15 Ways I Avoid Burn Out

BurnoutIn Avoiding Burn-out - What's Your Advice, Mr. Byrnes asks,
“What's your advice for avoiding burn-out as a teacher?”
Having taught special ed for 30 years, I think I did a pretty good job of avoiding getting burned out. But I did not have one thing that worked and instead had a variety of things to do depending on where I was in my life at that time. I think it is good to have a list that you can refer to from time to time to energize yourself.
1. Here are things I have done to avoid burn out:
2. When things get stressful, take a minute to stop, take a deep breath and calm yourself down.
3. Have a support system (my husband, close friends, close colleagues that I can trust).
4. Have a hobby. Over the years, I have developed different hobbies and move through them as I feel in the mood for them. I garden, hike, knit, read, travel, and play an accordion.
5. Get involved in a group outside of school (I belonged to a hiking club, gardening club, music club, knitting club, - not all at the same time of course).
6. Exercise at least 3 times a week! This is very important. I planned a scheduled time for exercise and stuck with it.
7. Drink more water. I never drink enough water.
8. Look for the good things in life every day. I wake up every morning with a positive statement that puts me in a good frame of mind.
9. If there is someone I dislike, I make it a point to think of one good thing about them when I come in contact with them.
10. “Fight” the important battles that really matter and let the petty battles go. They aren’t worth the time or the energy.
11. Read a good fiction book (great escape!)
12. Watch a good movie.
13. Get enough sleep.
14. Don’t skip meals. (I see too many teachers who skip meals end up getting burned out).
15. Eat chocolate!

Did I leave anything out? What would you add?

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Perspective on Differentiated Instruction

dioramaIn Why I Don’t Like Differentiated Instruction from Education On The Plate by Deven Black, he states

“Instruction focuses on what the teacher provides or what the teacher tells the student and differentiation merely postulates that teachers need to provide a variety of materials and tell in a variety of ways.”

At first when I read this post, I disagree with it because I think differentiated instruction is vital to a student’s success. Then when I read the statement I mentioned above, I realized that the success actually depends on the teacher’s perspective on differentiated instruction. According to this post, differentiated instruction just means giving different materials and teaching differently. If this is how a teacher perceives differentiated instruction, then I wouldn’t like it either, not as a teacher and definitely not as a student.

I believe that differentiated instruction deals more with how the student learns and what works best to achieve the objectives. Instruction is focused more on the different student rather than different materials and teaching styles. It also should include the students’ learning styles or it just won’t work.

If a student is an auditory learner, by all means, I would give oral instruction but also back it up with visual instruction. Just because a student is strong in one area, doesn’t mean I should limit my instruction to one area. By teaching both ways, I can reach more students. I believe that it doesn’t matter what type of learner they are if I can’t show them how relevant the lesson is to their own lives. Sure, to make learning interesting, I use a variety of tools, and activities because if it gets boring for me, it obviously will put students into a snooze!

Teaching new skills should involve different materials and teaching styles but should also include the student’s learning styles. If a student learns best by using his hands, then I need to find a way for this student to learn by using his hands. When I was teaching about the battles of the Revolutionary War, I let some students make a diorama of the specific battle. They used small soldiers and created the scene on their own. This helped understanding in a much better way than just reading about it in the textbook. My auditory learners researched about the conditions that soldiers had to exist in and did audio interviews with “soldiers” as if they were reporters during that time period. There are so many ways to teach lessons and encourage the student’s strengths if I can think outside the box. Instead of teaching the way I was taught, I need to teach in ways that I wish I was taught.

In the same respect, I need to see how students can show me that they can master a skill or achieve an objective in order to properly assess the learning. Assessment should not be a “one size fits all” activity. Before a lesson occurs, I need to decide the ways that I can evaluate and measure achievement. The best way for me has been to allow the students to create something new with their knowledge that they learned. This allows the student to be creative and also diminishes the temptation for some to cheat. Whenever we start a new lesson, I tell the students how they will be assessed. I share with them 5 possible projects for them to do at the end. This allows them to be thinking about it as they go through the learning. Their final creation from their learning can be part of their assessment that they turn in. Critiquing other projects using a rubric I created, can also be part of their assessment because it makes them look at the other student’s projects and use their knowledge learned in order to complete the rubric.

Sometimes I will even allow students to give input into the assessment. Over the years, I have developed a list of projects and pull from this list for different lessons. Students are allowed to pick 1 out of 5 choices for their assessment. If they have a suggestion that is not on the list, they are allowed to submit a proposal. They need to tell me what they want to do and how it will show me that they have mastered the objective. Sometimes the students come up with great ideas and by allowing their input, they feel they have some control over their learning and tend to be more engaged in the lesson.

It ends up being a win-win situation for everyone. The teacher has a successful lesson and the students are successful in achieving a goal and learning something that is relevant to their future.

How do you feel about differentiated instruction? What is your perspective?

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

Image: 'the redcoats were bastards'

Friday, October 14, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/14/11

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!

Go Social Studies Go – multimedia books created by a teacher about different social studies topics.

Boom Writer – “is a supremely engaging creative writing website that has students reading, writing and assessing content in ways they’ve never done before! It's easy & it's free.

  1. The teacher selects or produces his or her own story start, and the students let their imagination and writing skills take over.
  2. One chapter at a time, the students write, read, and then vote on the submissions they like the most. The winning chapter is then added to the story and the process continues.
  3. The teacher determines the total number of chapters to be completed, and when the competition is over a new book is ready to be published.

Pets in the Classroom – “Pets in the Classroom grants are offered to Kindergarten through Sixth grade classes only in both public and private schools. These grants are intended to support pets or aquariums in the classroom for the purposes of teaching children to bond with and care for their pets responsibly. The welfare of the small animals involved is of paramount importance. These grants must not be used for the purposes of research or experiments of any kind.”

Hohli – Online Charts Builder

UNESCO Places – explore over 900 World Heritage Sites

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Frustrations of a Leader

shipI think making these connections in real life are as important as online connections. I just wish I could get local colleagues to connect with each other more. I am President of Council for Exceptional Children Chapter 877 and we have a bunch of members. Yet, I find it almost impossible to get people to come to our meetings. We used to meet 4 times a year in person but after having speakers attend with no participants coming, we stopped meeting in person. We started having online meetings so people wouldn’t have to drive and could just attend from home. Again we have no attendees. The good part is that the online meeting is recorded so I’m able to share information and announcements so that others can view the meeting to get this. When reviewing the recording, I am able to see that people are viewing it at their leisure and I’m glad that they have that opportunity. But I feel that they are missing out on so much more. By connecting in real time, sometimes are interactions can be so much more meaningful.

I have tried to change the days and times of our meetings but it didn’t have any effect. I have asked for suggestions of topics so we can make the meetings more relevant to the needs of our members but have not gotten any input. I don’t want our local chapter to fold so I keep plugging along. I think this organization is important and has great information for teachers. But like any organization, it needs the members to make it this way.

It is really hard in a leadership position to increase and maintain membership when I am not getting any input. I feel like I am the captain of a ship and all the passengers have jumped overboard but I’m still supposed to go on the cruise and provide entertainment as if I have a ship full of people.

So, readers, do you have any suggestions or advice? I want to be a good leader and will continue on this ship but I sure could use some passengers to make it worthwhile for all.

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

Image: 'sunrise off the bow'

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Helping a Student with Mild Spectrum Disorder

blackandwhiteI recently received an email asking for advice and thought you might enjoy reading the exchange. The question is in bold and my answer is in italics below it.

“1. We have one student at our school is has been diagnosed as having mild Spectrum Disorder.  We do not have a special needs teacher at our school, so when we (the teachers) have a questions about "Is this a good assignment...." or "How can I adapt this assignment??" type question we do not have anyone that can help us know what to do. We asked him to write goals for this quarter of school.  It was enlightening to discuss his viewpoint of goals.  His thoughts are that setting goals are just asking to fail at something.  He said that everytime he has set goals he has been unable to complete them.  He then feels bad about himself for failing.  We were able to set some short term goals that were achieveable for him, and I have been checking on him regularly.  Is this a typical scenario with goal setting?  If not, do you have any tips for me on how to help him understand that it is not a set-up for failure.”

I think writing goals for a whole quarter may be too abstract for him right now. I also think it is great that he can verbalize why it is hard for him. I might try using a visual calendar and having him decide what he wants to accomplish by a certain date but 3 months ahead if really hard. Since he sees things in "black and white", planning that far ahead is too "gray." I think by letting him achieve short term goals will give him some confidence. Then maybe make those short term goals cover a little more time each time you set new ones. Another thing to suggest would be to show him that long term assignments with due dates could possibly be considered a long term goal. This would be a little more concrete for him to see when you put it on a calendar. His goal could be to: complete "assignment" by "due date." You might even put this on the calendar without calling it a "long term goal" which might add more stress on him. Once he achieves it, you can reflect back on it and show him how it was a long term goal and how he was successful with it.

“2.  Today one of his teachers came to me with an assignment that he refused to complete.  The main assignment was a "what if " type scenario that he was to write a paragraph about this topic.  His response was "I do not want / I can't think about these types of questions because I just don't know how it would have been .....Personally, I hate "what if" or "what would it have been like " questions.  I know this is 40 points of my grade, but I just can't do this. "   His teacher is not sure of what to do with this response.  Is there a modification that can be done in these type assignments.  The assignment is to assess the student's knowledge of a topic in a different way than just asked them to feed the information back to the teacher.”

Again, "what if" is too abstract for this student. Dealing in "black and white", "what if" is in the gray area. I wonder what the objective the teacher is trying to accomplish. Is the objective supposed to be writing a paragraph? If so, then would it be possible to write a paragraph on a topic that he is more comfortable with. Is the objective teaching some kind of social skill? If so, you will probably need to actually tell him what the desired response is and then practice it through social stories or role playing. Another thought, if the teacher is insistent that he write about that topic, may be look at the "what if" scenario and see if you can apply it to a situation that he has already experienced. Then he can write about it that way. 

You didn't ask this but I thought I would throw in another suggestion - if possible, giving him 2 choices would make him feel more in control of himself. Maybe if teachers gave 2 choices to write about, he would feel more comfortable with one and not be so resistant. But I would not give more than 2 choices or it might become overwhelming.

Also, writing abstract thoughts are much harder for these students. If at all possible, multiple choice, matching, fill in the blank are much easier on the student than writing short answer or essay. If checking for understanding (usually through short answer or essay), consider having the student give verbal answers either to the teacher or in a voice recorder to be turned in

Do you have any other suggestions for this teacher? If so, please share.

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


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Visit with @CogDog!

AlanPatYesterday my husband and I were able to meet Alan Levine (author of Cogdog’s Blog and @cogdog on Twitter) in person. It was so exciting to meet someone in person that I have seen and connected with online for a few years. I felt like a celebrity had come to town! We had a wonderful lunch at Coach House restaurant and then visited at my house. Then Alan shared his Storybox with us and we were able to share a story with him. It was exciting to see the Storybox in person because it is much smaller than I expected. 016

My husband always seems amazed when I want to meet online friends in real life. Of course he is pretty shy and tends to be more cautious than I am when meeting new people. I love to meet new friends and hear their story. My husband tends to think that I would talk to the walls if they would talk back to me. I have met a lot of friends in Kansas as we traveled through the state a couple of years ago and it was fascinating how we all connected. I also met digital scrapbooking friends in Puerto Rico (while we were on a cruise) and Oregon (when we drove through sightseeing).

I guess I want to meet people and find out what makes them unique. I want to know where they come from (other than just location) and what makes them tick. What makes them the person they are? What experiences have they had that makes them believe in what they are and what they do? What do they hope the future holds for them? I love hearing about their travels and just getting to know them. Someone’s personality goes a long way in telling me about that person. Maybe I’m just nosy but I find other people’s lives so fascinating!

It was fantastic talking with Alan! He is no longer a name and face on the internet but a real person. The best part is that my husband now will be able to know who I am talking about when I share Alan’s stories (which I have been doing for some time.) I know it was really hard for my husband to meet someone new. He is a basically quiet person to begin with and then due to his job, it is really hard for him to meet strangers. Luckily for me, he endures meeting my new friends and I’m so glad we were able to meet Alan. Afterwards, my husband even said how glad he was to meet Alan and that it was a great experience. This is high praise coming from my husband!

Thanks Alan for going out of your way to come visit us!! It was a special time for us!

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

Original Image by Pat Hensley

Monday, October 10, 2011

Giving My Best

MyBestThe other day I made hard boiled eggs for breakfast. While peeling the shell off, I sometimes get part of the egg white or the egg white gets torn so I put this egg on my plate instead of my husband’s plate. I want him to have the best pieces if at all possible. I know as a parent, I wanted my children to have the best in life and I know my parents felt the same way.

Then I began thinking about my students. Do I do the same things for my students? Do I make sure I plan effective and meaningful lessons? I hope that I look at what I am teaching and can see how they relate directly to their lives. By learning the skills I am teaching them, I hope that they can use these in other situations in ways that will help them be successful. I hope that not only do I teach meaningful lessons but that I can show my students why they are meaningful.

Do I look closely at the needs of my students and give them what they need instead of what I want? Sometimes I may feel tempted to go the easy route. I may be worn out or frustrated by particular students and their behavior but I can’t give up. I need to look deeper into why these students are creating obstacles and see what is needed to overcome these obstacles. I need to look at difficult situations and see them as challenges that I can face and win.

I hope when my students look back at their time with me, they can appreciate what I’ve done and know that I tried to give them best. By giving them my best, I have set an example for them to follow in the choices that they make in their lives. I hope that I have given them reasons to also give their best no matter what they do. I believe if my students do this, they will find success in their endeavors.

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

Image: 'Bali Kuta Beach : May their JOY+Embrace+U!'

Friday, October 7, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/7/11

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!

Pronunciator – “60 languages. 3 million lessons. 100% free. The world's largest language-learning service.”

Lyrics Gaps – “A fun method to learn and improve your foreign languages like English through music and typing in song lyrics”

Thinking Blocks – “is a suite of learning tools designed to help students solve math word problems accurately and efficiently. Using brightly colored blocks, students model mathematical relationships and identify known and unknown quantities. The model provides students with a powerful image that organizes information and simplifies the problem solving process. By modeling increasingly complex word problems, students develop strong reasoning skills which will facilitate the transition from arithmetic to algebra.”

Eyes on the Solar System – “s a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data. Explore the cosmos from your computer. Hop on an asteroid. Fly with NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft. See the entire solar system moving in real time. It's up to you. You control space and time.”

Tucoola – “Tucoola's team developed a platform that enables us to provide parents with a unique service that monitors, measures, assesses, and enhances the development progress of children aged 2-8 by employing fun games in accordance with their age. Tucoola’s Children's Zone provides a safe area for children, offering fun, age-appropriate games. The Children's Zone offers games, coloring pages and videos, and also grants virtual awards to the children as part of their activity at the site.”

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Episode 10 New Beginnings

Yes I Can by Danny O’Flaherty from his Secret Garden CD. :
Scary School:
SCCouncil for Exceptional Children conference date Feb. 17 and 18, 2012 (Friday and Saturday) in Columbia, SC
Council for Exceptional Children:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learn Me Gooder – A book review

LearnMeGooderI recently read the book Learn Me Gooder by John Pearson and wanted to share this review with you. I did get a free book by agreeing to write a review on Amazon and B& – good or bad. Those of you who know me, know that I love free books! Plus I love the thought of writing a review, good or bad. If I know I’m not obligated to write a post just praising something even if I don’t like it, I am more apt to be honest and can read something with an open mind.

Well, let me get to the point about this book. Here is the review I left on Amazon and B&

I loved this book!! It was an awesome book to read! It was stories written as emails to someone about happenings in a classroom. Of course some of it was fictionalized in order to protect the names of the “innocent” and also to make it more entertaining. Not only was it an easy read, but I could not put it down! I had it loaded into my kindle and as I read it, I had to keep reading funny parts to my husband! He had heard so many funny stories of my own that he could relate to the stories mentioned in this book.

As a teacher, I could actually relate to many of the incidents that this poor teacher talks about! The humor in the classroom was great because as teachers, sometimes we need to laugh and even enjoy our situations. Even though some of the stories were somewhat fictionalized, I could actually see the thread of truth in them from my own experiences. It also brought back many poignant memories from my own teaching experience.

I believe that all teachers, teaching any subject on any level, would love reading this book! I highly recommend it to everyone in the education field.

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10 Tips for Confronting Difficult Parents

ConfrontationRecently I had a colleague who had to deal with a difficult parent and both ended up being upset. I thought about some tips that have helped me deal with difficult interactions with parents and here they are:

1. Remember that these parents/guardians care about their child which may cause them to become emotional. Do not take this personal and be glad that they care.

2. Remember the goal is to work together to help the student be successful. This is a good thing to state right at the beginning to help both the teacher and the parent start on the same page. Make the parent feel valued and an important part of the team.

3. Try to imagine that this is your child and you are the parent. How would the words coming out of your mouth affect you if you were the parent?

4. Try to state facts and leave feelings and emotions out of it telling about something that happened.

5. Do not put the parent on the defensive.

6. Don’t put the blame anywhere. Instead remember the object of the meeting is to find some solutions.

7. Before the meeting, if you have some problems with the student, try to think of some possible solutions to offer. Don’t go in a meeting bashing the student without any positives. Remember you are the professional who was trained to help students. Even write a list down if necessary.

8. Ask the parent for input. Ask if there is something that is going on to cause the behavior. Ask the parent if this happens at home and what they do in this situation. Ask if the audience to the behavior is the same (are there almost the same amount of peers or adults when this occurs). This might help the parent see the situation more clearly.

9. If a plan for the students is developed, discuss how it will be evaluated and reviewed. Assure the parent that you will keep them notified how the plan is working and then make sure you follow up on this.

10. Have a plan in case the meeting does not go well and you need to end it abruptly. Plan out what you will say and have a plan of action. Hopefully you won’t need to do this but it is better to be prepared.

What other suggestions do you have? Please share!

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

Image: 'Warriors ...'

Monday, October 3, 2011

Yes, You Do Matter!

valueAfter reading What If You Knew You Mattered? by Angela Maiers, she states,

“Doing business as if the “customer” does not matter not only hurts the customer; it hurts the industry. Showing up to our jobs and to our lives as if how we act and behave does not impact the people we meet is not ok.”

I couldn’t wait to blog about my own feelings on this and how I think it relates to the classroom.

First, I understand that many teachers get overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. But that is no reason for us not to treat our students as if they really matter. I hear teachers talking and joking about the problems of their students. They don’t talk about having problems dealing with the problem but rather the student and the problem the student is having. Many teachers use sarcasm and cynicism to cope with these situations but don’t understand that it doesn’t help the problem but rather make it worse. Actions like this show that the student doesn’t matter when in fact, they should matter greatly.

Sometimes when emotions run high and everyone gets frustrated, we need to stop what we are doing and tell the other person, “You matter to me!” Sometimes in anger and frustration, people tend to feel like they are not valued when actually the other person may value them even more which is why they are more emotional. I used to tell my students that if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t get angry or frustrated. If something doesn’t matter to me, they can’t affect me at all. Suddenly this put the whole situation in a different light. When the students realized that they truly did matter to me, they were able to calm down and react differently. Also, by stating to the student that they mattered to me, I was able to calm down and realize that I needed to look at how I was handling the situation and see if another alternative was possible.

Not only did this help my students improve academically but it also helped the student’s behaviors in class. Students seemed to try harder when they knew I really cared. I even heard a couple of students talking about it once when they thought I wasn’t within hearing distance. One boy mentioned that he wouldn’t do something I asked him to do and shrugged it off by saying, “She doesn’t care!” The other student responded, “Yes, she does. If you don’t do it, then she will get mad and she might even call home. She doesn’t call home during school either but uses her own time to do that!” I realized then that my actions sometimes spoke louder than words.

So, to all of my readers out there – You matter to me! Thanks for reading my blog!

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

Image: 'VALUE'