Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Opening Doors For Students

doorsIn We Need to Teach So that Kids Will Care from Education On The Plate, Deven Black states,

“The first reason is because we don’t have to teach them the things they do care about. They learn those things with or without us.

…We have to teach kids things they don’t care about so that they will care about things they don’t know about yet.”

I totally agree! Kids will learn about the things that interest them and that they enjoy learning.

But let’s face it; all of us have had to do things we didn’t like. Sometimes we had to do it or the consequences were not something we wanted to face. Sometimes we do things for survival that are important but may not be fun.

My husband and I do a lot of hiking but I don’t like learning about what to do if we are lost or hurt. I guess I like to pretend that I will never be lost or hurt but that is like putting my head in the sand. It could happen so I need to be prepared. We watch videos and read articles about things that would improve our survival rate if we were in a bad situation. Now, my husband loves this stuff and loves to learn it but I really have no interest in it. Yet I understand it is important for both of us to know this stuff.

I never liked cooking when I was growing up or even when I was grown up and had a family. I cooked so that my family would be fed but that was the only reason. Now that I’m retired, I am starting to look at recipes and experiment. I wish that someone had taught me to care about this more when I was younger.

I wish that I knew how to use tools and could build things. I am having to learn this stuff on my own because when I was in school, only boys could go to shop class and girls had to go to home ec class. I wasn’t interested in sewing and cooking back then. I wanted to create things but girls were not encouraged to build things like boys.

I work hard to expose my students to different things and explain to them that they might not care about it today but someday in the future, they may be glad that they learned about this. I have introduced my students to many new things such as learning how to mat and frame pictures, build a worm compost system, baking and making dough ornaments, landscaping the school grounds and so many other things. I’m sure many of the students didn’t care about this at the time, but years later, I hear that some of my students have gone in the landscaping business, the framing business, and into culinary arts. You never know what the future may hold for the students so we need to open doors for them.

We cannot waste time only teaching them the things they care about because they don’t know what they might care about later.

My parents would introduce me to new food by asking me to take 2 bites out of it. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to finish it but I had to give it a try. I do the same thing with my students. I ask them to try new activities and complete them the best that they can (give it their all and not a half hearted attempt). I am not asking them to work towards a career in this field but just get a taste of the world out there.

By letting them just learn what they want to, then we are keeping them in the same building instead of moving out into the world. As teachers, we are taking our students on a journey and showing them the many doors that can be opened to them. On this journey, they may find doors other doors that interest them but we hadn’t seen. This can be a fantastic journey for them and lead them into having a successful future.

How do you get your students to care about learning new things? Please share!

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

Image: 'PorĂ…£i'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23837911@N08/3025002382

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Want to Be a Virus!

virusIn Are You a Virus? from The Clever Sheep, Rodd Lucier states,


“Viruses often innovate in the relative safety of a closed door classroom. If you use attempt to use technology in unexpected ways, or if you use tools before they become the norm, you may be a virus. There are many innovators out there, but most, like viruses, are difficult to see. It is only through the sharing of stories, that they become visible.


Virus can replicate but only within living host. If you are a virus, do you dare share your strategies and learning experiments with colleagues? In my experience, viral replication begins through such conversation and conversion. Open sharing may be just the thing that ensures that your district; your school; your department remains vibrant.”

I want to be a virus! I want to share and spread what I know and learn! But sometimes I get tired of always moving uphill against the stream. Sometimes I think, why bother? I get tired of hearing all the “talk” and not seeing any results. It is frustrating that the world is not moving as fast as I want them to. I even see others saying that they are through with all of the “talk”! For four years I have been hearing the “talk” and been part of the talk but we need action!

After reading this article, I realized that being part of the “talk” is action. By keeping the talk going, it is spreading the information like a virus. Maybe I am only reaching one person at a time but if all the people I know who are part of the “talk” is spreading it to one person at a time, changes are being made even if we don’t see the big picture.

So now I’m back in giving the “talk” to others. I will continue to bore everyone to death who will listen. I will keep talking about how we need to encourage technology in schools and how we need to let students bring and use their own devices in the classroom. I will continue to talk with teachers, administrators, school board members, and legislators about the importance of using technology in the classrooms. I will continue to train teachers to use tools in their classrooms that will enhance their lessons but not take the place of good teaching.

I will continue to be a virus! Will you come be a virus with me? How will infect others with your knowledge and experience?

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

Image: '365-223 TUE MAY 29'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/96123571@N00/520201209

Monday, November 28, 2011

Laugh It Off

laughterSometimes in teaching, as in real life, you have to laugh it off. You are going to make mistakes and though you may be disappointed and even embarrassed, you have to laugh it off. It will be easier if you don’t take yourself too seriously. I can’t begin to tell you all the stupid mistakes I made as a beginning teacher. I even made a bunch when I got more experience under my belt. There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to making mistakes. It can happen to all people at any time. This is a good opportunity to be a great role model for our students. They are watching a teacher’s every move and how they react to different situations.

Just recently I knitted a pair of mittens. They were blue with a pink seahorse in it. When I finished it, I was so excited and proud of my accomplishment. I ran into the other room to show my husband what I had finished. Imagine my surprise when I tried them on! First I put on the left mitten and it fit perfectly. Then I went to put on the other one only to realize that I had made two left mittens!! For a moment, the shock made me want to cry. Then my sense of humor kicked in and I started to laugh. When I showed my knitting group, they felt so bad for me and then we turned it into a big practical joke. When new people would arrive, we would show off my mittens and say how beautiful they turned out. Then we would tell the person that they couldn’t appreciate the beauty until they tried both mittens on. When we watched their expressions on their face when they couldn’t put both on, it filled us with laughter. Laughing about this helped easy my pain.

Sometimes when I hit a rough patch in teaching, I need to find the humor in my situation. I’m not talking about a devastating event but a time when I’ve messed up and there is nothing to do but admit mistake and move on. Being able to laugh it off can help ease the embarrassment. It also helps others when they interact with me. I know I’ve been in a situation where I wanted to support a colleague when this happens to them but I’m not sure how to react or what to say. As I remember this, I can imagine what my colleagues feel at this time.

This also helps students see that an error is not a terror. They can see that they are not expected to be perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. When they see how I deal with my mistakes, it helps them handle their own. Too many times I have seen my students act like they are expected to not make any mistakes and they are paralyzed with fear. I have to get them past this point so that they are willing to take a risk and give something new a try.

How do you handle your own mistakes in class? Please share!

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

Image: 'Laughing'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/94833286@N00/155421589

Friday, November 25, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/25/11

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!

Slide Shark – “app used to reliably and professionally show or view your PowerPoints on your iPad.”

Kids Health – “KidsHealth in the Classroom offers educators free health curriculum materials for all grades and subject areas. Each Teacher's Guide includes discussion questions, activities, and reproducible handouts and quizzes – all aligned to national health education standards.”

In 60 seconds on the Webgreat infographic sharing what appears on the web every 60 seconds

BBC: Day in Pictures - photos from around the world; great for current events discussions

Now I Know – videos; “Discussions with entrepreneursabout their successes, failures and lessons learned.”

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingToday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. There are parades on TV and in many towns. Homes are filled with family and lots of food. It is a time for rejoicing and being thankful for our many blessings so I wanted to share with you some blessings that I am thankful for.

1. My husband and the love he fills my life with.

2. Our family.

3. Our health

4. Our friends

5. Nature, the earth, water

6. My hobbies (gardening, reading, knitting, hiking)

7. My ability to read, write, and learn

8. My five senses

9. Our house and all of the things in it.

10. Our Prius

11. Our treadmill

12. Our hot tub

13. My camera

14. My laptop

15. My internet

16. My Droid cell phone

17. Skype

18. Our public library

19. Our doctors

20. Heat and Air Conditioning

What are you thankful for?

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

Image: 'Thanks for My Flickr Friends!'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24882165@N07/4102336245

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Episode 13 Thanksgiving



loonyhiker on Plurk: http://www.plurk.com
Loonyhiker on Twitter: http://twitter.com
Yes I Can by Danny O’Flaherty from his Secret Garden CD. : http://www.dannyoflaherty.com/.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Act No Differently

videocameraI recently read the article Teachers Caught on Tape Bullying Special Needs Student and appalled by the behavior of the teachers.

I will again say something that usually horrifies the teachers in my graduate classes. There needs to be video cameras in the classrooms. With the ability of using cellphones to record what goes on in the classroom anyway, teachers need to think about their own behaviors. We spend a lot of time focusing on the behavior of our students in the classroom, out of the classroom, and even online. But teachers need to start behaving professionally in the classroom and I feel this is a non-negotiable. There is absolutely no excuse for poor teacher behavior in the classroom and if it is going on, it needs to be stopped. It is these kinds of teachers that are giving our profession a bad name. Maybe with recordings on teacher behavior, it may be easier to get rid of bad teachers faster. Let’s face it, in a student’s twelve year career as a student, we don’t have a lot of time to waste with providing them with a terrible teacher.

I have seen two teachers on separate occasions be suspended because their behavior was captured on a cell phone. I have even felt resistance from teachers when I have recommend that students with learning disabilities to tape record a class so they can have the lecture to use for studying purposes. I remember doing this when I was in college so wouldn’t we be teaching them a skill they can use in the future?

In my classroom, I had a video camera set up on Day 1. The light was covered with black electric tape so the students never knew if it was on or not. Parents signed a permission slip for students to be taped to improve classroom instruction and strategies and would not be used in any public way. I would turn it on as soon as the students arrived in class and turn it off when the last student left. If I had a problem with one student, many times I would turn the camera towards that student. Even if the camera didn’t always show what I was doing, the audio was clear enough to hear what was being said. I would have 3 tapes for each day and label them A, B, C that would be reused over and over.

This protected me and the students. I never acted any differently in my classroom with the students if I was alone, being taped, or had visitors. My behavior needed to be consistent for the students. If it wasn’t, then I needed to take a hard look at what I was doing and why.

If a student makes allegations that I did something in the classroom, I would be able to show the tape to protect myself. I could also show parents the behavior that I wanted to correct, especially if the student denied doing it. Many times I could even show the student the behavior that he sometimes didn’t realize he was doing. I would have the student tally each time he saw the behavior that was inappropriate. We started to keep charts and the student could see his own improvement. It was a great way for self monitoring.

Highway Patrol cars in our state have a camera on the front of their cars which again protects them and the person they are stopping. I have seen it used many times. When my husband was a judge, he used one in his courtroom. Again, in both situations, the person in charge needed to act no differently, whether on camera or off. In both cases, when they first started, there was opposition but later the positives outweighed the negatives.

Many of my teacher-students tell me that it is an invasion of privacy. They complain that it could be used against them. Yes, it could. But if the teacher was acting appropriately, why would that person care who saw it? In this day and time where everyone is suing everyone, I would want as much evidence on my side to protect myself. I know I’m a good teacher and that I work hard. I don’t care who sees what I do in my classroom.

Parents were invited unconditionally at any time as long as they checked in with the administration first (according to school safety policies). This opened up a relationship of trust between me and the parents. Parents felt assured that I was doing all I could to help their child.

There are too many situations where teachers are getting so much bad press for doing terrible things. Maybe the press is only focusing on the bad things but that is what sells news. Maybe we need to focus on how we can get this behavior to stop or at least decrease. If forcing some teachers to change their behavior by videotaping them is one way, then it is time to start doing this.

Do you tape your classroom? Have you ever done it? Has a student ever done it and showed it to you or put it on youtube? If so, please share your experience.

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

Image: 'Panasonic AG-HVX200'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/83245449@N00/108616724

Monday, November 21, 2011

Upstate Master Naturalist Meeting 11/17/11

For pictures, click HERE.

For a video of Robin talking about stripping bark, click HERE.

010Our speaker was Robin McGee, who is an herbalist from Anderson. Her website is Cattle Grass Fed Beef where you can find out more info about her herb classes.

Here is some of the notes I took from her presentation:

1. Wild Cherry - sweet birch is like this, great smell, original cough medicine. Use pocketknife to scrape green layer (not white) which is the medicine; scrape off and put on paper to dry it out. Anti-inflammatory. Put a handful or 2 in water, boil, simmer, and reduce by half. Let it sit for a couple of hours and then strain it. Add honey to make it syrupy. Add brandy. Make a gallon.

2. White Oak - ally for poison ivy. Make a tincture. Cut branch the size of little finger. Fill half a jar with inch long pieces. Add 100% vodka and water or Everclear. Fights the itch. Rub on the skin or drink. Stops bleeding on gums or hemorrhoids.

3. Peach Leaves – good for morning sickness. Harvest leaves after bloom (late summer). Dry and put in a jar. Label all jars. Calming and cooling. Make a tea.

4. Hawthorne (not Indian Hawthorne) – for the heart, any cardiovascular diseases. Use leaf, flower, and berry to make a tea or tincture. Berries make syrup. Lowers blood pressure.

5. Elder – antiviral; berries and flowers. Good for anemia, increase red blood cell production. Used instead of flu shots. Tincture or syrup, good fever reducer; said to be a preventative for SIDS. Cook flowers and berries. You can dip flowers in pancake batter and fry them up. Use flowers in tea. Softens the skin.

6. Lemon Balm – antiviral, tincture. Good on cold sores. Reduces fever, calming

7. Sassafras – spring tonic, make a tea in the spring, thins out blood, lymph, flush out cholesterol, pushes blood out to the periphery.

8. Sourwood – used for sour stomach. Chew leaves and swallow juice. Satisfies thirst and hunger for a little while.

9. Chagu – grows on birch trees (yellow or black, high altitudes), polypore, cancer remedy. Drink tea, grind it up and use as coffee or ½ and ½ with coffee. Good for chronic illness, great for the immune system.

10. White Pine – 5 needles in a bundle (any pine will do). Make tea. Good source for Vitamin C. Resin is nature’s band aid. Antiseptic. Harvest dried resin and melt a little in herbal oils and beeswax. Mix with honey to make syrup. Suck on pine tears.

11. It takes 150 lbs. of lavender blooms to make essential oil.

12. Sweet Gum – like pine tears or needles; remedy for burns, burn gum balls, use ashes to make a salve to use on burns.

13. Use a grated white potato on eyes – juice in eye helps get rid of pink eye

14. Tulip Poplar – anti-inflammatory, tincture or tea. Peel bark (see video). Peel bark in spring when sap is rising. Tea has no taste. Use bark off live tree.

15. Japanese Honeysuckle – cold medicine. Save flowers before they open or when they open. Fill quart jar with flowers and add brandy. Do the same with passion flower. Good for throat and respiratory infections, put a few drops in tea.

16. Blackberry – root is most astringent, also use green berries, leaves, and ripe berries. Tannins help stomach upset. Root good for diarrhea. Tincture in brandy. One inch piece, boil in cup of water for 10 min. sit until cool. Only take 1 or 2 sips and no more or you won’t crap forever!

17. White oak bark is good for diarrhea too.

18. Kudzu – remedy for hangovers

19. Rabbit Tobacco – in transition areas not fields, best remedy for asthma. Tea or tincture; use all parts. Harvest in the fall when leaves aren’t pretty green after frost has “killed” it. The medicine is more concentrated at this time. Also known as Life Everlasting or Pearly Everlasting. Thin membrane on stem is like a cottony veil (magical properties – it is said to make the veil between the worlds thin).

20. Goldenrod – not wind pollinated like ragweed. Used for allergies (especially cat allergies). Tincture. No more than 10 drops 3 times a day or allergies will be worse. Harvest top 1/3 when it starts to bloom. Dry tops and make a tea or tincture in brandy.

21. Joe Pye Weed – used for lung and kidney issues, break up kidney stones, use with hydrangea root, also used for gout. Use ½ Joe pye weed and ½ hydrangea root. Take no longer than a month. Use with hydrangea, dandelion leaf, chickweed (mild diuretic, cooling, mucilaginous) cleavers (lymphatic drainer) – strain because of fine hairs.

22. Dandelion leaves are a diuretic that doesn’t deplete potassium.

23. White color is for nerve, bone, and fevers.

24. Crossvine – trumpet shaped flowers, harvest leaves, make tea, general tonic, use like ginseng.

25. Usnea – lichen usually on oak. Lung infections, strep, urinary tract infections. Gingerly wiggle green off, see white elastic thread running through it. Dry it, cook it, must have heat to extract medicine.

26. Witch Hazel – wait until it is in flower, cut tips of twigs and make a tincture. Or cut like white oak, cook it. Turn on low boil for 20-30 minutes (known as decoction), cool and strain. Add to vodka. Crushed leaves cool eyes. Chickweed does this too.

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

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, November 18, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/18/11

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!

Ipad in Education – “information related to the iPad in Education sponsored by the Department of Educational Technology in the School District of Palm Beach County.”

Videodropper – “Videodropper lets you send YouTube videos directly to your Dropbox folder, so that you can watch them later at your leisure. You can also choose to optimize videos for viewing in an iPhone/iPod Touch.”

Olympic Challenge 2012 – “An exciting collaborative project in which schools can compete against each other in a series of Olympic themed challenges.”

Story Wheel – free app for iphone and ipad; “Story Wheel is a cooperative story creation application for the iPhone and iPad, designed to work in conjunction with one of the most powerful computers in the world - The human mind. It will help you create stories, improve your child's cognitive abilities and most importantly, have fun!”

Typing Adventure – typing game for students

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 17, 2011

8 Tips for Explaining Inclusion to Parents

explanationAs I mentioned yesterday, I am a mentor for our Council for Exceptional Children organization and mentor a college student who is getting a degree in Special Education. My mentee mentioned a situation where a child was removed from an inclusion classroom but she didn’t think the parent had a clue about what inclusion was.

I know we explained this to the parent at an IEP meeting but I feel that the parents are so overwhelmed with information during these meetings that they really don’t understand the concept of Inclusion. At the beginning of the year, I think all of the parents of students in an inclusion classroom should be invited to a presentation that explains what inclusion is. Granted, some parents might not come but at least the opportunity is offered. Handouts can be sent to the parents who were unable to attend the meeting. This meeting should be well advertised in case some parents from other classes are interested in learning about inclusion also.

Every school handles inclusion differently so I can’t tell you how to explain your school’s inclusion program to the parents. I can suggest what I believe should be included in the presentation.

1. Explain that this presentation is an overview about the Inclusion program and not about individual students.

2. Offer to set up an appointment to talk about individual student’s needs.

3. Information about your school’s inclusion program and why your school feels it is important.

4. Discuss how inclusion meets student’s needs in the classroom.

5. Explain how everyone benefits and that general ed students are not held back. Give specific examples.

6. Have the teachers involved explain their planning process for lessons.

7. If possible, have parents of students already in the program speak about how it has benefit their child.

8. Allow parents to ask questions. If you don’t have the answers, admit this and offer to find the answers for them. Don’t try to bluff the parents because they can sense this.

Did I leave out anything? Feel free to give suggestions about what else should be included in a presentation for parents. I truly believe that communication is vital for any program to be successful.

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

Image: 'IMGP9329'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/64519085@N00/3439518204

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making Inclusion Work

teamworkI am a mentor for our Council for Exceptional Children organization and currently mentor a college student who is getting a degree in Special Education. My mentee emailed me about a situation that occurred and I thought it would be a great topic to talk about in my blog.

If you came to this post thinking you would find the magic answer, I’m sorry but it just isn’t out there. I can make suggestions that might make your experience more successful though.

Suppose you are told that beginning the semester, you would be coteaching with a colleague in an inclusion classroom. There was no request or suggestion for this pairing but it is now written in stone. What do you do? How do you begin? Here are some ideas to start with:

1. Suggest a meeting with the other teacher to brainstorm ways to make this model work. Don’t wait or expect the other teacher to make the first step.

2. Suggest that you both write down your strengths and weaknesses in the classroom as well as preferences and bring it to the meeting. Sometimes I tend to think the worse or assume that another person may feel a certain way only to find out that I was wrong. If another person’s strength is my weakness, we can build on that.

3. During the meeting, someone should take notes that can be emailed to both of you so that you can refer back to this information when needed. Both of you may be in highly emotional state at this time and won’t remember what you talked about.

4. Talk about the elephant in the room. Acknowledge that you both may be nervous and have different expectations so communication is essential for both of you to be successful.

5. As the subject area teacher, I feel that teacher should come up with the list of topics/curriculum for the year. In some schools, this may already be standardized and expected. If there is a specific topic that interests you or that you have some great material, share it at this time.

6. Talk about classroom procedures. Decide on a procedure that works for both of you. Sometimes you may need to give in to certain procedures that you don’t necessarily agree with but it isn’t the end of the world. Fight the battles that are important and not argue over the trivial.

7. Decide who will introduce the lesson, how both of you will instruct and interact with the students, how will assessment be done. This is a great time to talk about accommodations that can be done as well as alternative assessments.

8. Talk about record keeping and who will be responsible for what.

9. Decide on a discipline that you both can live with. This will be vital because by nature, students will play 2 adults against each other when given the chance.

For those of you who have worked in this kind of model, what suggestions do you have that would help these teachers be successful? If you haven’t worked in this model, what do you think would help you if you were put into this situation? Thanks for sharing!

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

Image: 'Teamwork'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12426416@N00/253055698

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite - A Book Review

DUKE ELLINGTONI recently read the book Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite By Anna Harwell Celenza  and Illustrated by Don Tate which was mentioned on The Picnic Basket. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review):
This was a great picture book with audio CD. It was really interesting and entertaining. The illustrations would definitely hold a student’s interest. This book could be used to introduce many topics or even enhance lessons on these topics. Topics could include Duke Ellington, Billy StrayhornTchaikovsky, different music genres, general music appreciation, jazz, geography, new vocabulary, musical instruments,
The audio CD was awesome too and I think children would enjoy that. It would be fun to hear children talk about what they think the music is saying. One of my favorite activities when I was in elementary school was to use my imagination and write stories to go along with the music.
I would give this book a 5 out of 5.
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Honoring the Deserving

VeteransDayLast Friday was Veteran’s Day. Maybe it was me and this always happened and I hadn’t paid attention. Or maybe this year more attention was made for honoring veterans. I noticed the usual town celebrations which are always a nice thing. But this year, there were more news stories about businesses giving free meals and services for military personnel and veterans. I saw these listed on local websites also. So, for the first time, we took advantage of one of these honors and went to Applebees so my husband (a veteran) could get a free meal.

All of the servers were wearing the same tshirt honoring Veteran’s Day. There was even a book to sign in that would be sent to those serving in Afghanistan. My husband was thanked for his service by the servers, managers, and even other diners. What a wonderful feeling of honor and celebration. It made me feel even more proud to be an American and warmed my heart..

Then I began thinking about honoring our teachers. I know we have Teacher’s Day sometime in the year but I’m not even sure of the “official” date. In the news, it seems like we hear all of the negative things that are going on in the school and crimes committed by teachers. The media seems to revel in the bad news.

I even see on one station that there is a “Golden Apple Award” for different teachers each week. I think that is a nice gesture but I also wonder if it makes the community complacent. I have heard people say that they don’t really pay that much attention to it. Someone has to nominate this teacher which is good if you have literate parents and students. But what about those who teach students who are either too young or not able to even fill out the nomination form? Many of the students in my special education class had parents that had learning problems themselves or the parents were so busy trying to survive that they didn’t have time for this nomination form.

I’m not saying that teachers make the same life sacrifices as veterans but let’s face it, everyone has had a teacher. Usually they had one teacher who impacted their lives. But I think we have watered down the appreciation system to where many really don’t seem to appreciate teachers and the difference they have made in many lives.

I think it is great to recognize great teachers and they should be recognized. But how do we get this positive attention to the forefront? How do we move it ahead of all the negative press? How do we get to where being honored really feels like an honor rather than lip service? I don’t have the answeres to these questions but it weighs on my mind often.

What do you think? What suggestions do you have?

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

Friday, November 11, 2011

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

tools2  Happy Veteran's Day to all of those in the USA! Thank you for all that you have done to keep us free!

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!
Channel Me – “Surf the Web Together with Online Friends Beyond link sharing or screen sharing, Channel lets you navigate through the same website with one or more friends.”
Open Study – “Make the world your study group”
Geosense – “Test your knowledge of world geography alone or against another online player.”
Mathematics in Movies – “This is a collection of movie clips in which Mathematics appears. To see the movies larger, or to see it on the iphone/ipad or to include a clip into a presentation, chose the quicktime ipod version. These are the files with .m4v extension.”
A Book and a Hug“Welcome to ABookandaHug where young readers can now write their own reviews of their favorite books.”
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lovelies by Loony

Shawl001aI have finally opened a store on Etsy to sell some of my handmade stuff. The store is called Lovelies by Loony and can be found at http://www.etsy.com/shop/loveliesbyloony. I have enjoyed knitting many things and have started to run out of room. I thought if I sold some stuff, I can make room for new things. It is really hard to part with some of the things but I remind myself that I can always look at the pictures. I will sell some of my knitted projects, some yarn that I spin, and some shawl pins. I just hope others enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed making them. I thought some people might be interested in buying some holiday or birthday presents.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Podcast: Episode 12 November Highlights

loonyhiker on Plurk: http://www.plurk.com

Loonyhiker on Twitter: http://twitter.com

Blog – http://successfulteaching.net

Email me at successfulteaching@gmail.com

Yes I Can by Danny O’Flaherty from his Secret Garden CD. : http://www.dannyoflaherty.com

Mathematics in Movies – “This is a collection of movie clips in which Mathematics appears. To see the movies larger, or to see it on the iphone/ipad or to include a clip into a presentation, chose the quicktime ipod version. These are the files with .m4v extension.” http://www.math.harvard.edu/~knill/mathmovies/index.html

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Great Hamster Massacre - A Book Review

GREAT HAMSTER MASSACREI recently read the book The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies and illustrated by Hannah Shaw which was mentioned on The Picnic Basket. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review):

I thought this book would be a cute book for older elementary students and early middle school students. The title is definitely appealing to students and the illustrations and fonts in the book make this a fun book to read.

As for the story, it was an okay story but I’m afraid students may get bored with it before the story ends. I was disappointed by the ending because I felt it was a little flat. When I have my students write, I encourage them to have a conclusion and I felt this story lacked a conclusion. The title and parts of the story lead to the Great Hamster Massacre and then when it happens; it seemed kind of a letdown because it seemed to be mentioned in passing.

I would give this book a 3 out of 5.

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

Making Our Voices Heard

voicesIn the need to blog from Blogging on the Bay, bgaskins says,

“I think in these times of Waiting for SuperMan and Oprah, we can’t stop our voices. We cannot be silent. We keep our focus on learning. We keep our focus on the student. We don’t budge.

In education the reformers have always been the silent ones who kept moving forward.

Our professional learning communities keep us moving forward. We support each other. We listen.”

I think this is absolutely right! I need to keep speaking up whether it is blogging or writing letters or speaking publicly. As a taxpayer and voter, I need to make my voice heard. Whether I agree with those in power or not, I have a right to voice my opinion.

I have learned that there are people out there that want to hear what I say. They also may not agree with what I say but it can get the conversation going. I may be able to change someone else’s mind or they may be able to change mine. But I do know that if we don’t start somewhere, nothing will change.

I have learned by talking to legislators that not many share their opinions like they should. I hear many people in the teaching field complain but when I ask them if they write letters, make phone calls, or share their opinions with the legislators, they always come up with excuses why they don’t or can’t.

I think I need to do more than just support others. I think I need to encourage others to make our voices heard. Just listening to each other isn’t enough. In order to make changes we need to push each other to take that extra step.

When I hear another teacher complain, I will do more than just ask if she has written letters or called someone. If necessary, I will help her do so. I will get her contact information and get her the address of her legislator. If I need to, I will help her draft a letter to voice her concerns.

Just encouraging each other and supporting each other is great but it isn’t enough. I need to do more. By doing more, I’m showing by example how others can do more. And if we all do more, than maybe we can make our voices be heard even more.

How do you make your voice heard? How do you help others make their voices heard? Please share!

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

Image: 'lauter protest'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73603628@N00/365973056

Friday, November 4, 2011

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/4/11

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!

Cartoons for the ClassroomIncludes cartoons and lesson plans.

Slime Kids“SlimeKids features an extensive collection of book trailers organized by year and by grade level as well as numerous language arts-related games in such categories as spelling, typing, vocabulary and grammar. Additionally, the website showcases an array of exceptional literacy-related resources such as author and book review websites as well as superb learning tools including reference works and search engines.”

Study Blue –“ Make online flashcards with photos and audio. Prep for exams with personalized practice quizzes. Get reminders about when (and what) to study next, and study on your phone with free mobile apps. Your Digital Backpack™ is here. Free.”

Graph Wordsvisual thesaurus

Soapbox – “Teach more effectively. SoapBox is a controlled digital space, designed to improve student engagement by breaking down the barriers students face when deciding whether or not to participate in class, and gives teachers a concrete assessment of student comprehension, in real time.”

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

Original Image: Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Subjects a Student Should Study

studyIn Which subjects should a student study?, Steven Horwich states,
I believe strongly that we should allow students to experience the world and all of its many offerings – and then let the student tell us what they find of interest.”
I think this statement refers more to how the student learns rather than the specific subjects a student should learn. I thought about this question for awhile and just couldn’t resist giving my opinion on this.
These are the subjects I came up with:
1. Reading – learning to read and comprehend what is read opens the door to just about anything.
2. Math – basic skills will help anyone get further in life especially skills in computation, money, and measurement.
3. Science – learning how to make a hypothesis, experiment to find an answer, and analyze the results help lead to discovery.
4. Social Studies – I truly believe history can help us learn from our mistakes and successes. Geography is so important now that we can connect and collaborate with people all around the world.
5. Play – students of all ages need to learn how to laugh and enjoy life. We spend so much time telling them to get serious about their studies and to grow up that I feel we have forgotten that they are children and should be happy about themselves and the world they live in.
These basic subjects should be taught at every level and incorporate the student’s interest in the subject. As the student matures, these interests may change but I think the basic subjects will still pertain to any topic. In fact, their interests can tie these subjects together and make them more meaningful. If students feel that what they are learning is relevant to their lives, they will be more engaged and eventually become successful in whatever they strive to do.
What subjects do you think a student should study? Please share!
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Image: 'Belinha has more than good looks'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/65768710@N00/2200198472

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Everyday Dress Up - A Book Review

EVERYDAY DRESS UPI recently read the book Everyday Dress Up written and illus. by Selina Alko which was mentioned on The Picnic Basket. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review):

I thought this was an awesome book for young children to read. Growing up, I loved paper dolls and dressing up and I believe most children still do. This book focuses on famous women that are great role models for girls. The illustrations are colorful and appealing as well as the story. In the back of the book, there are short biographies of all of the women that are mentioned. By introducing these women to young girls, it is a great way to encourage them to shoot for the stars because there are so many possibilities for them. I also think boys and girls would benefit from learning about these special historical women so I would definitely give this book a 5.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Day In A Classroom

008I spent a day last week volunteering in my friend’s classroom. It was exciting to listen to the middle school students and hear them chatter about life! The best part of my visit was the first class when one of the students asked if they had a new student in the class (meaning me)! It made my day!

The school was clean and cheerful looking. Even the grounds were neat and decorated for fall. What a great environment for kids and staff to work in!

I was impressed by hearing the adult conversations going around me. It was towards the end of the week but I didn’t hear anyone complaining. There was no complaining about colleagues, policies or even students. There were conversations about lessons and strategies and student behavior. I don’t feel that any of this was acted for my benefit because nobody knew who I was.

In the classroom, I saw the teacher use the Promethean board as a way to enhance her lesson. It wasn’t used as the lesson which made me quite relieved. It was interesting the different ways that it was used to share information and help students see visuals of what the teacher was talking about. Students were engaged the entire time and I never saw any behavior problems whether they were working with someone or on their own. I even saw the way the teacher made accommodations for students who had special needs. Of course these were never pointed out to me but my years of experience teaching special education made me recognize this when I saw it.

015I was able to file a ton of papers that needed to be filed while I was also observing the lessons and the students. Since parent conferences were taking place that afternoon, I was able to also put up a display of student work outside the classroom. Students showed their understanding of books they read in a variety of ways. Using fishing line and staples, I was able to also display a couple of dioramas that students made about their books.

The students’ behavior also impressed me. Whenever I helped students, they all thanked me. This was not something prompted by their teacher so I know this was their regular behavior. They were allowed to ask me questions when their curiosity got the better of them and their questions were appropriate and showed that they were interested in knowing more about me.

This visit made me willing to volunteer a lot more at this school. I think this atmosphere shows that there is great leadership at this school. The administration sets the tone for this school and it definitely shows. One Assistant Principal passed me and mentioned how good the display looked. I was quite pleased that he took the time to talk to me. I really look forward to having an opportunity to visit this school again!

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

Original pictures by Pat Hensley