Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thelonious Mouse - A Book Review

TheloniousI recently read the book Thelonious Mouse by Orel Protopopescu 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):

It was a fun picture book for young children. I think they would enjoy having it read to them. Some of the words may be hard for beginning readers to read. I thought the illustrations were fun to look at too. The tongue twisters would be great to use in a speech class or older children might enjoy the tongue twisters. This would also be a great book for older children to read to younger children if you were bringing the two age groups together.

I would give this book a 5 out of 5.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Teaching A - Z (part 4)

differentHere are my important points for teaching as inspired by Planning to teach from A to Z By Vicki Davis.

T is for Tolerance

It is important to teach tolerance of differences. When someone is different, many see it as someone to pick on. We need to get past this attitude and teach our students to embrace differences. Whenever I find a story, novel, or movie that emphasizes this attitude of tolerance, I use it in my classroom.

U is for Understanding

Sometimes we have to dig deep to understand why our students act the way they do. We can’t take their actions at face value. Their defiance or oppositional behavior may be a defense mechanism or a reaction to some frustration so we can’t always assume that they are spoiled rotten or just bad. We need to look for the cause of this behavior which takes time. Sometimes it is easier to react to their behavior rather than take a step back and try to understand why they are acting this way. I think in the long run if I take time to understand their actions, we all benefit overall.

V is for Value

It is important for all people to feel valued. This means that I value my students, my colleagues, and even my administrators. Many times we come down hard on administrators for the decisions they make but we have to realize that they are looking at the big picture. Sometimes my colleagues irritate me or I disagree with them but I need to remember to value their opinion, their knowledge, and sometimes listen to them because I can always find something to learn from them. Even my students are valued because I learn a tremendous amount from them. If I stop thinking about how much I can give to them and look at how much they give to me, it is truly amazing.

W is for Wait

Wait time is important. Too many times I want to jump in and give a student the answer rather than listen to that empty silence. While waiting, I see others jumping up and down out of their seats or yelling, “oooh oooh pick me!” Instead I need to allow the student I asked time to process the question and come up with the answer. When the students realize that I will give wait time, they aren’t so flustered into hurrying up with any old answer. I feel this gives everyone more quality instruction.

X is for Xray

Many times my students believed I had xray vision and it is alright for them to think that. When I see a student doing something, sometimes I turn away before I say anything. This makes them think I saw them with “eyes in the back of my head.” This also keeps them from misbehaving at times and let’s face it, it is just fun when they think that!

Y is for Yesterday

Let yesterday’s bygones be bygone. I let each student start the day with a clean slate. We talk about this in class. Sometime we act certain ways because we started off the day wrong or we had a problem at home. Things happen during the day that make it rough. Then we come in the next day and we have a fresh new start. We leave yesterday in the past. We don’t hold grudges.

Z is for Zeal

You have to have a passion for what you do. You have to truly believe and enjoy teaching to get the most out of it. Sure, you will have some rough days, and some downright bad days but that is life. Your zeal will help get you through those times. This will help you feel that it is all worth it and you won’t regret a minute of it all your life. After 30 years of teaching special education in public schools, I look back and I realize that I truly loved it!

Image: 'Successful integration / Gelungene Integration'

Friday, July 27, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/27/12

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!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

The Cat in the Hat - educational games (L: E ; SA: A)

SFMOMA: Explore Modern Art - interactive pages about art and the stories behind them. (L: G ; SA: FA )

The Global Economy - “Learn about economies of different countries.” (L: H; SA: SS)

Old Maps Online - See old maps of the area where you live (L: G; SA: SS)

SideVibe - “A simple way to place useful, formative classroom lessons over any Web page. Our Vibe© innovation takes away handout clutter and improves student learning with the Web” (L:T ; SA: A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Teaching A - Z (part 3)

quietHere are my important tips for teaching as inspired by Planning to teach from A to Z By Vicki Davis.

M is for Mistakes
Allow your students to make mistakes. An error should not be a terror. I believe that many times we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Or maybe we become complacent when we are successful and more aware when we make mistakes. I had a 4th grade teacher who treated us like criminals if we made a mistake. It was the worst year of my life! In fact, she was one of the reasons that I wanted to become a teacher because I never wanted a student to feel the way that I did. It is also important though to teach how we can learn from our mistakes so we don’t keep repeating the mistake. If we don’t do that, then students aren’t really learning from their mistakes.

N is for Nice
It feels good when students think we are nice and they like us. But it isn’t necessary. They don’t have to like us in order to learn (but it makes things a little easier). I don’t need to be their friend because they have enough friends but not enough teachers. One student called me mean because I made him do work that he didn’t like and I told him that it was okay to think I was mean because then I was doing my job. It meant that I was pushing him to learn and be more than he thinks he can be.

O is for Organization
Being organized is the key! It doesn’t matter what subject you teach or what grade level you teach, organization is vital. There are many different systems out there and every teacher needs to find the one that works for them but it is a must. I may try different things and then fine tune them to work for me. Life is much easier when I am organized. This is passed on to the students and helps them feel like the teacher is in control and knows what is going on. Students also see the organized teacher as a role model and can learn ways to organize their own life.

P is for Patience
It is sometimes easy to jump in and give a student an answer or read the word they are struggling with. But it is important to take a step back and let them struggle for a little while. There is a fine line between letting them struggle and letting them get frustrated. You might discuss this with your students. Explain that you will not jump in and give them the answers because you have faith in them and that you believe that they can sometimes figure it out on their own. In fact, I had a student once tell me that by jumping in, I was making him believe that he was too stupid to figure it out himself. I never want to do that again. They also feel so proud when they are able to figure some things on their own. So, this involves a lot of patience on the teacher’s part (and biting your tongue when you want to jump in!)

Q is for Quiet
Quiet is nice but sometimes quiet isn’t what is best for the students. I find that when my students are in controlled chaos and the room is somewhat noisy, that is the time most of my students are engaged in learning. Of course the key is “controlled chaos” so planning and organization is important for this to happen. For students who need more quiet, I allow them to wear headphone. Sometimes I let them listen to soft music (of my choice) through their headphones.

R is for Relevance
Students learn better if they feel that what they are learning applies to real life. I agree that basic skills are important but we need to tie these skills to real life situations. We need to show students how they will use these skills and why they are important. I can remember learning so many things in school that I have never used again. Maybe it was good to just be exposed to this information because I might need it one day. I just wish someone would have been able to share this with me. I can honestly say that I can’t remember half of what I learned because I had no use for it or I was never shown why I might need it.

S is for Sensitivity
Be sensitive. Remember that not all students are growing up in the same environment that you did. Not all students live in the same home environment and each situation may be different. Don’t make judgments or comments on the way they live. It is the life they live in and don’t have a choice so making them feel bad for this will only be harmful to their self esteem. I feel my classroom should be the neutral zone where my students can feel safe. They don’t have to worry about anyone making fun of them because of a disability, a difference in race or culture or even socioeconomic level. I strictly enforce this attitude in my class.

Image: 'Hush!'

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

And the Winner is…

003I used a random number generator and generated the number in front of my graduate students so no one would think there was anything fishy going on. The random number was 2 (see attached photo).

The winner of the HearALL Assessment Recorder is:


I will be contacting her to let her know the good news. Thanks for entering the giveaway. Stay tuned for future giveaways!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teaching A - Z (part 2)

laughterHere are my important tips for teaching as inspired by Planning to teach from A to Z By Vicki Davis.

G is for Gullible

When I first started teaching I believed everything my students told me. Then I realized I had been too gullible. I remember reading something once where a teacher told a parent, “If you don’t believe half of what your child tells you about me, I won’t believe half of what he tells me about you.” That is so true. I believed every hard luck story and how awful their home life was and cut them too much slack. When I finally realized that I had been taken advantage of, I realized that I was not helping them but in fact enabling them to find excuses for their behavior. Finally I told my students, “Things are the way they are. You need to work harder and look for a way out of your situation instead of spending your energy finding excuses and blaming others.” Once I started telling them that and not being so gullible, I truly believe that they worked harder. I had one student actually overcome difficulties in his personal life and go on and become a preacher in NC.

H is for Happiness

You need to find happiness in your teaching. You will find many teachers who like to complain and bad mouth education. But I believe the good teachers are the ones who feel happy with teaching. They enjoy it and feel they make a difference. Sometimes I want to tell the unhappy ones (the ones who are chronically unhappy not the once in a while unhappy ones) that they need to move on and find another profession. Their unhappiness isn’t healthy for them or their students.

I is for Individuals

Remember that we don’t teach subjects or grades but we teach individuals, the students. We need to look at their individual needs. We need to remember that many students learn differently and that we can’t expect them to all learn at the same pace and in the same way.

J is for Jester

Every class has the jester, the class clown. Enjoy the humor but don’t enjoy it at the expense of class learning. When it becomes an annoyance or a hindrance, watch the jester’s actions. Is this happening during a time the student is frustrated or having problems? It could be a defense mechanism to avoid work.

K is for Kindness

Don’t expect students to know how to be kind. This is not something they are born with but rather learn from watching adults. Unfortunately many students do not witness this outside of school so they really need examples to learn from during the school day. Talk about kindness, give examples, and show it in your daily life. You won’t be sorry for doing this.

L is for Laughter

Laughter (at the appropriate times) will help you through sticky situations. When I’m feeling frustrated or depressed, it helps to find my sense of humor. When my students start getting frustrated and a bad situation starts to escalate, I try to find something humorous to say in order to defuse the situation. Sometimes laughter is just a good stress reliever.

Image: 'Laughing'

Monday, July 23, 2012

Teaching A - Z (part 1)

believingIn Planning to teach from A to Z, Vicki Davis shares,

“As you plan to create a place of teaching and learning, think through these aspects of your classroom. I've shared some important points of teaching and a tip for each as well as books that I love that help me in each area. Feel free to add your favorite letter in the comments or on your own blog!”

First of all, let me tell you that Vicki Davis is one of my favorite bloggers who really inspires me. I subscribe to her blog and the many things she blogs about really get me thinking or energizes me to do more. This post of hers definitely inspired me to do more. Of course, I am so wordy that I decided to break this up into 4 posts about tips for new and struggling teachers.

A is for Action

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Actions move you forward. Inaction means you are stagnant. In order to move forward, you need to take action. That action can be good or bad but then you can make decisions about your actions.

B is for Believing

You have to believe in yourself. Confidence shows. If you believe in yourself and what you are doing, then others will do so also. Your students need to believe in you too. When they are trying something new or scary, they need to believe that you will be there for them.

C is for Connections

Connecting with other educators will help keep you sharp. Connecting with others (online or in real life) help you bounce off new ideas, get opinions, get help when needed, or learn new techniques and strategies in the classroom.

D is for Decisions

You will have to make decisions and sometimes there is no way that your decision will make everyone happy. You need to make the best decision that will positively affect the most people. You can’t base your decisions on whether or not people will like you.

E is for Energy

Teaching takes energy. It will also suck out your energy quickly so you need to make sure you know how to keep up your energy level. It is important for you to stay healthy so I highly recommend taking a multivitamin and a regular exercise program.

F is for Flexibility

I am a big planner but my plan is not written in stone. It is a tentative plan so that I have direction. But when teaching children, many times the plan has to be adjusted. Knowing this will help you be more flexible with what is going on around you. You can’t stress out every time your plan needs to be adjusted. Be aware that it will happen and deal with it. You can still be unhappy that it needs to be adjusted but don’t let your unhappiness become the main focus.

I think these tips could help make your teaching experience more enjoyable. If you are a veteran teacher, what words would you come up with for these letters? Please share.

Image: 'Believing, Building, Becoming'

Friday, July 20, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/20/12

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!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Physics Games - “online physics based games.” (L:H ; SA: S)

GeoBee Quiz - Take an online geography quiz. “You have ten questions to answer in as short a time as possible. The quicker you give the correct answer, the more GeoPoints you earn. In Apprentice mode, you have two chances to choose the correct answer. In Expert mode, you have only one chance. Once you've completed the GeoBee Challenge, see if your score was high enough to make it onto our Top 10 leaderboard. Come back every day for ten new questions!” (L:H; SA: SS)

Playfic - “Welcome to Playfic, the online community that lets you write, remix, share, and play interactive text-based games with the world.” (L: H; SA: LA)

Cube Creator - Great tool to organize reading notes, summarize information, check for reading comprehension. (L: G; SA: A)

Foodskey - videos, “the science behind what you eat and drink” (L: M, H; SA: A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Empowered by Leadership

EmpowerIn What ways has leadership empowered you to become a better teacher? Dean Shareski asks,

“What ways has leadership empowered you to become a better teacher?”

The principal that I remember the most is the one who influenced me the most. I probably grew the most professionally under him and he was the one that I spent the least amount of years with during my teaching career.

Here are ways that his leadership had empowered me:

He believed in me and never showed any doubt in my ability to be a good teacher.

He made me feel appreciated by what he said to me and the things he noticed that I did. He might mention this at a faculty meeting or even drop a short note in my mailbox.

He asked my opinion about how his decisions might affect my students. This may not have changed his decision but he let me know that my input helped him with his decision making. Sometimes it did change his decision.

He didn’t show favoritism to some teachers over others and tried to be fair and consistent.

His door was always open to teachers and if we had a problem, we knew we could go to him.

He encouraged me to try new things with the philosophy that if it didn’t work, we would just try something else. It never hurt to try.

He expected more of me than I thought I could do and I rose to the occasion. (I think I need to do that more with my students.) I accomplished what he asked and even surprised myself.

He encouraged me to grow professionally and made sure that I had opportunities to do so.

He treated teachers as professionals and expected them to act that way. Sometimes some administrators treat teachers as if they are the students.

This administrator stands out so much in my mind and I will never forget him. I truly believe it is his actions that helped me be a better teacher.

Image: 'Chapter 6: Empowering Self, Empowering Others'

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Hate Asking for Help

helpIn Asking for Help, Lisa Parisi shares,

“Asking for help seems to be difficult for many of us.  It means admitting that you are not perfect and cannot do it alone. And, in our society, we see that as a downfall. How many articles have you read about a "self-made man"?  No such thing.”

Asking for help is very hard for me. I remember one time putting this lightweight bird bath together that I bought on sale at some hardware store. I didn’t want to ask my husband for help because I figured that it would be easy to do. When I hit some problems I was frustrated but refused to ask for help. Asking for help was showing that I couldn’t follow directions and I was a teacher so I should not be having any problems. Three hours later, after much agitation and sweat (and possibly tears), I went to my husband for help. Within 30 minutes, he had the birdbath assembled and ready for my bird friends. If I had just gone to him for help when I needed it, I would have saved myself many hours of anxiety and frustration.

I realize now that by not asking for help when I need it sets a bad example for my students. I want them to come to me for help but I don’t want them to see that at times I need help too. Everyone needs help at some time and there is no disgrace for asking for help. I need to be able to show them the appropriate way to ask for help.

The problem that I see in the classroom is that sometimes teachers perceive some students as lazy when they ask for help. These are the students that just need to make the effort to find the answer but would rather have the teacher feed them the information. I explain these situations to my students and tell them these aren’t real situations that warrant help. It is like calling 911 and asking for help because you want them to deliver a pizza to your house. This keeps emergency people from responding to real emergencies. Asking for the teacher’s help when you really don’t need it keeps the teacher from helping students who really need assistance. I ask the students to imagine they are the one who really needs the help and I’m busy responding to students who can find the answer themselves. I ask them to imagine how they would feel.

One way that helps me handle the situation is by delaying the assistance for a few minutes. If I think the student may be able to find an answer on his own, I may assist someone else who I think really needs me. Sometimes during that delayed time, the student is able to answer his own question. If he isn’t able to, he will wait until I can help him. At that time I will help the student find the answer but I won’t give the student the answer.

Another strategy is that the students monitor themselves. They have to ask 2 peers for help before asking the teacher. This also helps the peer who is helping because they are learning the material better. Some students actually feel more comfortable asking their peers for help than the teacher (I have to admit that I have been known to ask a colleague a question before asking the same question to the administration).

Do you ask for help when you need it? How do you teach students how to ask for help? Please share.

Image: 'Un cop de mà '

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

HearALL Assessment Recorder - Product Review and GIVEAWAY!

HearallI was recently sent the HearALL Assessment Recorder by Learning Resources and asked to review their product (I am not being paid to do this review.) Here is what I think about this product:

What an awesome tool to use in the classroom! I love this recorder! It is very lightweight and easy to operate for students in any grade. The recording can be played back instantly or easily downloaded on the computer with a USB cord. It charges by connecting it to the computer and doesn’t take long to charge. I used it several classroom situations and was truly surprised how well it picked up sound. I sat in the back of a class and recorded the small group session in front of me. It was able to pick up what was said even though the teacher and students spoke softly. I was very impressed with how clear the playback sounded.

I could see using this in small groups where you want to record several people speaking. The 4 omnidirectional microphones are very effective in picking up the sound. I think this would be great to use when correcting speech, working on reading fluency, practice vocabulary and many other language lessons. It would also be great to use when recording group work so that even though the teacher might not be with that group, the work can be recorded and documented. The price for this is $99.99 and I believe is well worth the money!

Class Sample

Find out more info about Learning Resources:





Giveaway info:

If you would like to win this Assessment Recorder for your own classroom, you must leave a comment below this post answering the following question:

How would you use this in your classroom?

A random drawing will be held in one week (July 24) so also include your contact info or email me to let me know that you left a comment so I can contact you if you win.

Original picture from Learning Resources site

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Learning Place 2012 Week One

001Last week was the first week of Summer Learning Place 2012.

Needless to say it was an interesting week.

Monday – The school was hot as expected. The air condition is turned off on Thursdays so the school gets hot over the weekend. I met with the teachers and talked about what I expected from them. They were able to sit and plan with their coteacher and prepare the classroom for the next day. All of them seemed full of enthusiasm but somewhat anxious.

Tuesday - first day with children. The first 45 minutes went well until a 7 year old had a major meltdown. After conferring with the mother over the phone, it was agreed that the child would stay so he wouldn’t learn that his unacceptable behavior would get him what he wanted. For 2 hours and 15 minutes, he continued his meltdown. He refused to go to class and kept trying to run away. When the mother came to pick him up, we discussed his behavior. If he can not stay in class, then we couldn’t have him there due to a safety issue. The mother was under the impression that since we dealt with behavior issues, that we could “fix” him. (Really, in 15 days at 3 hours a day, we could “fix” him?) Needless to say, I was tired by the time all of the children left.

Wednesday - The 7 year old was an angel all day. Unfortunately when we put him in the car and bragged about him, mother’s response in front of the child and his sibling was, “ Great! But you know just because he was good today is no guarantee he will be good tomorrow.”I was able to observe 3 teachers today.

Thursday - The 7 year old was absent for a doctor’s appointment. I was able to observe the 3 other teachers today. It was a great day!

I really am enjoying this group of teachers this year! They are energetic and full of ideas. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I love all the great vibes I get just from being around them. Some are at the school before I ever arrive (and I get there really early) and they are still there when I leave. I can really tell how committed they are to making this whole experience a good one. Just in one week I can already see growth in them professionally.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/13/12

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!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

JoyTunes - Apps that are“ interactive video games controlled by regular instruments, helping children and adults to learn to play real music on real instruments.” (L: G: SA: FA)

Story Bricks - Build your story (L: G: SA: LA)

Artists Toolkit - “Artists use visual elements and principles like line, color and shape as tools to build works of art. Each title below has three sections: Watch an animated demonstration, Find examples of the concept in works of art from museums, Create your own composition.

Solar Storm - “Help them spot explosions on the Sun and track them across space to Earth. Your work will give astronauts an early warning if dangerous solar radiation is headed their way. And you could make a new scientific discovery.”

Who Pooped? - “One way scientists learn about animals is by studying their poop -- also called “scat”

or "dung." Let’s look at some animal poop and see if you can guess who left it behind. (L:E, M; SA: S )

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flexibility is a State of Mind

flexibilityIn Habits of Mind: Flexibility from Apace of Change, damian states,

I believe I save myself a lot of angst and aggravation by accepting there are some things I just have zero control over…I can’t always make everyone perfectly happy all the time, but what I can do is ask questions and listen to all the responses to try to develop a solution that is at least acceptable to everyone.  What’s more, I’ve learned that sometimes asking the right questions is more important than having all the answers, as those questions will often spark something in others that I hadn’t considered, and that may lead us all to a better solution.”

That is one of the hardest things for me to do. It is hard for me to accept that there are some things that I do not have any control over and I have to live with whatever is stressing me out. I admit that I’m a major control freak! I like having a schedule and a plan in my life and I like everything to follow that exactly. Now I know in real life, that never happens but I like to think that it could. I like to think that I am able to be the one in charge of this. But, life has a way of rearing its head and letting me know who really is in charge.

I finally have to sit myself down and make a list of things that are not going the way I had planned and causing me stress. Beside each item, I put a check by the things that I control and can make changes. For the ones that I have no control over and cannot change, I just put a line through them. Then I start focusing on the items with the checks by them. I think of ways that I can change them for the better. Once I am taking action on the things I can control, I stop worrying about items I can’t control. Just by acknowledging them on paper helps me put them in the right place in my mind.

Slowly I am teaching my mind how to be more flexible. The more I do this; I notice that I have less and less items that I am crossing off. Maybe I’m realizing that the things I have no control over do not play a major role in my life anymore. Maybe I’m realizing that flexibility is a state of mind.

Do you have ways you handle things that you can and cannot control? Please share?

Image: 'Magic of Elegance'

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Telling Stories

storytellingIn The Art of Learning from Tinkerings, Tim shares,

“I think it is because we learn best by telling and receiving stories.  Not facts.  Stories.  And songs are just stories set to music.  Sometimes they rhyme.  Sometimes they don’t.  Some are fast and others slow.  Some are melodic.  Others are nerve bangingly not.  The one thing nearly all songs (with lyrics at least) have in common is that they tell a story.”

When I read this I realized how true this was! I learn best by linking the stories to the learning. If I can remember the story, I usually can remember the concept that I have learned. Why would I not think that my students wouldn’t learn the same way?

I began thinking of the songs I liked and why I liked them. I definitely liked the ones that told a story set to music. I think many of the songs of today that I can’t relate to are ones that I can’t relate to. Many of these songs don’t seem to tell a story to me or I can’t make any sense of them.

I have started to make a list of concepts that are important to me and then jotting down the stories that symbolize that concept. The stories are personal and real life. They help me share memories and help my students see how the concepts relate to me personally. I find that if my students can’t associate the concepts they are learning to real life, the learning has no relevance to them.

Telling stories is fun for the storyteller as well as the listener. I love having guest speakers come in to share their personal stories. Near Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, it is fun to have veterans come in and tell their stories. They love to share and my students love to hear them. If I have a career day, I try to find what careers interest my students and find people in that field to share stories about their jobs.

Do you tell stories in your class to teach lessons? If so, how do you use storytelling in your classroom? Please share.

Image: 'Princess Storytelling with Aurora - Sleeping Beauty'

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Learning Place 2012

008SLPSummer Learning Place is comprehensive, small group, instructional program for children/youth ages 6-14 with learning difficulties.

This week I started to teach my practicum class which lasts for 4 weeks. I have 6 students who are getting their master’s degree in special education. During this time, they are teachers in a small school setting with 22 children (ages 6-13). Each of my students will be case managers for 3 or 4 students but there will be two teachers in each classroom. Letters were sent out to special education classes in the spring informing parents how they could enroll their children into our program. We usually have a waiting list every year.

This first week will consist of preassessment and goal setting for each child. Each child will have reading and math goals and possibly writing and social skills goals. Every week, parents will be given a report about the classroom and their individual child. The final report is more detailed so parents can actually give that to their child’s teacher when school begins.

Each of my students (the teachers) will turn in lesson plans to me and I will do formal observations as well as evaluate their reports. They will also have to write a blog reflection as well as comment on 3 other blogs each week. I will be posting their blogs here later and asking for my friends (that means you!) to check them out and leave a comment.

I am really excited about this month long adventure! I will keep you updated on how things are going!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Together Teacher - A Book Review

TogetherTeacherI recently read the book The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin and was truly impressed with the book! (I am not being paid to write this review!) I can honestly say that I would highly recommend this book to all teachers, new or experienced. I have always said that organization is a key to good teaching and this book actually reinforces what I’ve been saying.

This book doesn’t just say “Get organized!” It says it and then goes step by step and explains how to do this. There are ideas that everyone can use at any time in their life. I also like the fact that the organization tips can be customized to fit my own life. Sometimes when I read these kinds of books I tend to think that certain things just don’t fit my style or way of life. This author shows how I can personalize all of the steps to make it work for me. Of course, this takes away all of the excuses of why I can’t get organized.

I also like the fact that tools are mentioned but not specific tools are required. This means that I find the tool that works for me not just use the tool that worked for the author.

There are also tons of examples to show how the steps are completed by different people who have different organizational styles. There was always one that fit my style.

Included is a CD containing learning objectives, reflection questions, key summaries, and sample templates. This CD is chock full of useful information!

Every year I mentor a preservice Special Education teacher through Council for Exceptional Children. I plan to order one of these for my mentee and use it throughout the year in order to have an ongoing discussion. This is a great resource to use in the classroom too. I could see it used in college classrooms as well as a faculty project.

If you haven’t been able to tell you, I’m totally thrilled with this book! Please check it out!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/6/12

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!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Vifinition - “an urban video dictionary where you can define, or rather vifine just about anything with videos.” (L: G; SA: LA)
Cube Creator - great to use for planning in your writing (L: G: SA: A)

Can Do Street - “is an animated, interactive web site for young children where can-shaped characters need help in making good choices to be safe, have fun and learn new things.” (L:E ; SA: A )

Motion Math - mobile math games ((L:E ; SA: M )

Earth Observatory - “share with the public the images, stories, and discoveries about climate and the environment that emerge from NASA research, including its satellite missions, in-the-field research, and climate models.” (L: M,H ; SA: S )

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Teaching Students with Autism in an Integrated Classroom

InterviewRecently I was interviewed by Rae Pica the host of the Educators Radio on Bam! Radio: The Voice of the Education Community. The topic was “Teaching Students with Autism in an Integrated Classroom” and I was guest along with Dr. Stephen Shore of Adelphi University. Rae Pica was a gracious and very patient host which really helped. I really appreciate her taking the time to include me in this discussion and letting me share my thoughts.

You can hear the show by clicking HERE and clicking “Play.”

I guess it is normal but after the interview, I thought of all the things I should have/could have said. I’m not sure it was my best interview but I was pretty nervous since I’ve never been interviewed for an education radio show before. We were not given the questions beforehand so my answers were totally unrehearsed.

If I could add anything I think I would add that teachers can also use parents and students as a great resource. Parents have worked with their children much longer than I have so they know things that work or motivate their child. They also know what doesn’t work with them. This can really cut down the trial and error time that many teachers go through with new students. Depending on the age of the student, many times older students have great insight in what works or doesn’t work for them. I think it is important for teachers to listen to them too.

What advice would you give teachers? Please share.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

fireworksToday if the 4th of July where everyone celebrates our nation’s Independence Day.

We are heading to my friend’s annual cookout and pool party. It starts early in the day and we have a barbecue lunch but my hubby and I head home in the afternoon before the crazies are on the road (we hope!).

I hope everyone has a safe and fun day! Enjoy yourself and cherish the memories you are making with friends and/or family today!

Image: 'grand finale!'

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Education Buzz Carnival 6/28/12

Another 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 webinar on "Unveiling the Mystery of Project Based Learning" is there but there are lots of other great articles to read too! See you there and don’t eat too much cotton candy!
Original image: Carnival by Pat Hensley

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fascination Award Nomination

fascination-awards-sped-teacher-vote-for-mePlease vote for me!
An email from Matthew Pelletier that told me,

An article you wrote in 2011 titled 10 Tips for Confronting Difficult Parents has earned your blog a nomination for a Fascination Award: 2012's Most Fascinating Special Education Teacher blog. The comments posted in response to your post prove that your content not only inspires your audience, but it also creates discussion around your posts, both of which are requirements for the nomination of a Fascination award.”

The Accelerated Degree web page states,

“The Fascination Awards are an annual collection of the web’s most inspirational and thought-provoking blogs.
To be nominated for the award, your blog must:
· Inspire your audience
· Encourage discussion through comment posting
· Contain genuinely fascinating content
Blogs are nominated by our editorial team and are voted on by our readers.
Voting will take place on our Google Plus page. The nominee list shall be posted once voting begins:
· Nominations Posted & Voting Starts: July 02, 2012 (1:01 EST)
· Voting ends, 1st place winner is chosen: July 09, 2012 (11:59 PM EST)
Category: Special Education Teacher Blogs

To qualify as a Special Education Teacher blog, your blog must meet one of the following conditions:
· The blog is updated by a Special Education teacher, either a traditional school/university teacher, or a resource person on Special Education online.
· The blog gives updates and shares information for parents to help promote better understanding of special education procedures.
· The blog promotes emotional and educational growth in children with special needs.”

Badge by Accelerated Degree