Friday, September 28, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/28/12

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

Stop Frame Animator - Make your own animated movie! It is lots of fun and easy to use. (L:G ; SA: A )

Icebreakers, Fun Activities, Group Activities - “Our editors have handpicked more than 25 of our favorite icebreakers and group activities and have provided free instructions. “ These are broken down into group sizes or categories. (L:G ; SA: A )

Picture Book Maker - Create your own children’s book (L:E, T ; SA: A )

Maine’s Autumn Magic - video explaining why do leaves change colors (L:G ; SA: A )

Chockadoc - free online documentaries (L:H,T ; SA: A )

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fact vs. Opinion

factsIn Facts? We Don’t Need Facts from Tinkerings, Tim states,

“Nothing irritates me more than to watch the national news and hear the high paid talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum talking about what they “think” or “believe” rather than what they can prove.”

I wonder if it is just me, or does anyone else notice that there really isn’t real news on the news reports anymore. When I watch the evening news, it seems like everything is a commentary about a news event or they are promoting some charity.

When I was in school, I remember learning that a news story involved answering questions like who, what, when, where, and why. If I added my opinion or interpreted from my own point of view, it became an editorial and not a news story. In fact, I would get a lower grade if the assignment was to state only the facts and I added my own opinion to it.

We try to teach our students the difference between facts and opinions. We teach them to read stories and decide if the information is fact or opinion. It seems like if I did this same lesson with the news reports lately, all of the information would be mostly opinion.

When did the news suddenly stop reporting the facts. Our local news is starting to feel more like the tabloids. (Does anyone else remember the old Enquirer magazine? Inquiring minds want to know!)

Maybe it would be fun to watch a news report and then take out all of the opinions in order to write a news report with only facts. This can be done by watching a TV segment or even reading an article out of the newspaper.

I feel this is an important lesson to learn this time of year especially since we are going to have a major election. Students need to listen and read information about candidates and learn how to tell the difference between facts and opinions. It is important to see if statements given answer the questions of who, what, where, how, and why. If the statements deal with how someone is feeling, thinking, or believing, then they are opinions. Students need a lot of practice with this throughout the school year and not just during election times though.

How do you teach your students to tell the difference between facts and opinions. Please share.

Image: 'Facts'

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Close to Home

accidentOn the way home the other day, my husband and I were discussing how many accidents were happening on our highways. Just recently another high school senior was killed in a car wreck due to reckless driving, no alcohol involved. I mentioned that people needed to slow down but my husband insists that it is not speed that is causing the accidents but people who are driving recklessly (texting, talking on phones, playing with the radio, weaving in and out of traffic, etc.). This led to the discussion about how many accidents occur close to home. Here are some statistics on accidents and the distance from home. In fact, our wreck in 2000 happened within a mile from our house and we were almost killed. An elderly lady had a heart attack and was unconscious as she ran a stop sign. Unfortunately she didn’t live and we were lucky to suffer only minor injuries.

I think that many people get complacent when driving close to home. We feel relaxed and comfortable thinking that nothing can happen since we are near home. When we travel, we are on unknown roads and in different types of traffic so we tend to be more alert and careful.

I began to wonder if we get like that in the classroom. When I am teaching the same subjects as the year before or I have the same students, I tend to be more relaxed and less focused. When I teach a new subject or have students I’ve never seen before, I feel more alert and excited. The information I am going to teach will be a new challenge and keeps me on my toes. The new students are also a challenge because I have to get to know them and their personalities.

Maybe I need to treat every lesson and every students as if we are having new beginnings. They deserve my full attention and energy. By being too relaxed, I could be shortchanging them in what they deserve. Too be most effective, I need to stay on my toes and be excited about what I am doing. If the lessons are too comfortable, then I need to change them up a little so they can be exciting to me as well as my students. My students will pick up my attitude and if I’m bored with the lesson before we start, they won’t be motivated to learn. In turn, if I feel excited about the lesson, they will be more engaged.

What do you think about “being too close to home” when teaching? Please share.

Image: 'car flip'

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Royal Princess Academy: Dragon Dreams - A Book Review

RoyalPrincessI recently read the book ROYAL PRINCESS ACADEMY:  Dragon Dreams by Laura Rennert. which was mentioned on The Picnic Basket. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review):

This book was an adorable book and worth having in the elementary school classroom. The illustrations were cute and I think it would draw kids to the book. For the classroom, this book opens up many topics for discussion. They would include: Being different, peer acceptance, being yourself, never giving up, be willing to try, and problem solving. It was a fun story to read just for enjoyment also.

I enjoyed this book and would definitely give it a 5 out of 5!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shenandoah National Park

035A couple of weeks ago we visited one of our favorite national parks on the east coast: Shenandoah National Park. Every year we buy an interagency annual pass. The five agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program are:

· National Park Service

· U.S. Forest Service

· U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

· Bureau of Land Management

· Bureau of Reclamation

I think it is well worth the money and since we used the parks and forests so much, it is only fair that we help support them. As soon as my hubby turns 62, we will be able to get a Lifetime pass for $10 (unless it changes before he reaches that age.)

We traveled up and down Skyline Drive. The views were spectacular and I’m always amazed at how beautiful our country is! I have been here numerous times and every time we visit, I have to take a bunch of pictures of the beautiful scenery. One would imagine that I had never seen it before!

We did a few hikes and enjoyed nature. On one of the hikes we met another couple who were from the area. We enjoyed talking with them about hike in the area. The man was a Civil War enthusiast and it was really interesting to hear him talk about the area.

If you have never been to this park or any national park, I highly encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to explore nature. I hope we will always have these places protected and preserved but if we don’t learn to use it, to appreciate it, to share it with others, I’m afraid of what is in the future for these places.

If you go to national parks, what is your favorite park? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, September 21, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/21/12

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

Inside Jobs - gives information about different careers and the training that is required for them (L: M, H ; SA: C )

Citelighter - “Store, organize, and share your education and research for free.;” great way to capture and cite facts that you find online; can be exported right to a word document. (L:M, H ; SA: A )

Flightradar - live air traffic; see how many planes are in the air at any given time, look at specific flights too (L:G ; SA: A )

Imagination Prompt Generator - “Take as much time with each prompt as you need, or set a 10-minute writing timer. Your first "Imagination Prompt" appears above. To generate another, simply click the "Next Prompt" button.” (L: T; SA: A )

Storyboard That - “the easy storyboard creator” (L: G; SA:A )

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Biking down the Virginia Creeper Trail

065Last week we went to Virginia and biked down the Virginia Creeper Trail. We rented bikes from Blue Blaze Shuttle and got a ride up to White Top Station for $26 each. They also provide you with a bottle of water (But we also brought another bottle of water just in case, and some fruit for a snack). We have always used Blue Blaze Shuttle for the previous rides so we decided to stick with them again. We got there at 8am and signed up for the 8:30 ride. We arrived at White Top Station around 9:10. We got back to Damascus around 1pm but we stopped a lot and I took a lot of photos.

Flowers we saw:

Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Ragweed (ambrosia artemisiifolia)

Hearts-a-bustin’ (Euonymus americanus)

Milk Thistle (Silybum eburneum)

Yellow Coneflower (Rudbeckia pinnata)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Jack in the Pulpit berries (Arisaema triphyllum)

071It was a glorious ride and I will definitely do this again. If you haven’t ever done this, I would highly recommend it. I have hiked and biked this trail in the spring and the fall. I think either season is absolutely beautiful!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another Life - A Book Review

Another LifeI recently read the book Another Life by Keren David. This book was sent to me because I had written reviews on an earlier book, When I was Joe (the first book in the series) and the sequel, Almost True. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review).

Another Life was the 3rd book in this series. It tells the rest of the story of Ty (or Joe), a teenager who had witnessed a murder and was in the witness protection program. This book is seen mostly through the eyes of Ty’s cousin, Archie. I enjoyed the book because it concluded the agonizing story of Ty’s constant running from the people who are out to kill him. For some reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did the second book. Archie’s life seemed filled with confusion with the addition of drugs, thoughts of girls, and envy of his cousin. Yet, even though it wasn’t as good as the second book, I’m glad that I read it. I had to know what happens to Ty. I felt emotionally connected to the characters in the book and I needed to know that everything turned out okay.

I would also recommend this book for the high school library but only if you have the first two books. I think this book would be a little flat if you hadn’t read the first two books. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday a movie is made out of this trilogy because I think teens could really relate to the characters and the emotions involved throughout the story. The author hit the nail on the head when she was working on character development.

So, now that I’ve reviewed all three books, I would encourage you to give them a try. I’m glad I did.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Lessons

Top 10In If you could only teach ten points, what would they be? Ewan McIntosh asks,

“If you were to look at your school year ahead, and choose only ten things to actually teach explicitly, what would your top ten lecturettes be?”

I loved this question and it took me awhile to whittle down to the top 10. I first just started jotting all of the ideas I could think of and then deciding which were my top 10. Here they are:

1. Etiquette: table manners, social manners, transportation manners, over all good manners

2. Telling the truth: Your integrity is all that you have.

3. You are a Born Winner - Believe in yourself! Everyone is a born winner.

4. Strengths - Everyone has strengths. Some people don’t know what they are yet so you have to be willing to try different things in order to find out what they are.

5. How to Learn - Once my students leave the classroom, they need to know how to learn on their own. How do they find the information they need? What steps do they follow in order to learn how to do something?

6. Important Laws to Follow - Many students have heard different versions of the laws from their peers and these may be wrong or misinterpreted. A mistake like that could cause a person to be put in jail. It is better to discuss these laws and know exactly what they mean.

7. Why Reading is Important - I believe if you can read, you will find you can figure out just about anything. It can be the key to open any door.

8. How to Look at Things Critically in order to make your own decisions - There are always more ways to look at something than you would imagine. Making a decision involves looking at all perspectives possible and making wise decisions. How does a person do this?

9. Asking for Help - Many of us don’t ask for help when we should and sometimes we ask for help when we shouldn’t. We need to learn the difference. Then we need to learn how to ask for help appropriately.

10. Controlling our Own Behavior - we change the behavior of other people, only our own. How can we reflect on our own behavior? How do we make the changes in ourselves that need to be made.

Just by having these lectures, doesn’t mean I have all of the answers. I think these topics would open the door to great discussions. Discussion can lead to enlightenment. Sometimes we need to be willing to talk about the things that others feel is the “elephant in the room.”

What would be on your Top 10 list? Please share.

Image: 'Nailed it! My picture is a+perfect+10!'
Found on

Monday, September 17, 2012

Successful Teaching’s Five Year Anniversary

RosieThank you! Thank you to everyone who has come to this blog to read what I have to say!

Five years ago on September 16, 2007, I wrote my first post for this blog. I never would have imagined that I would continue blogging for five years. It was a new adventure for me and I really wasn’t sure how well I would enjoy it. I have to say that I love blogging and it is a big part of my life! Through blogging I have met the most wonderful people, shared ideas, fine tuned my thoughts and philosophies, as well as learned so many new things. I thought this would be a good time to share some statistics with you.

As of today, I have had:

· 1398 Posts

· 429,930 Page views


· 2809 Comments left

The Best Teaching Method has been the most popular post read.

Clustr Map has been a great way to show what states and countries have viewed this blog for this year (It is cleared out once a year). I love looking at all the countries and am in awe that someone from that country has read my words!

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog, left a comment, or forwarded my blog on to someone else who might benefit from reading it. I appreciate all of your suggestions and help and encouragement. Thank you for making me want to continue blogging!

Image: 'Rosie the Blogger'

Friday, September 14, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/14/12

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

Interactive Historical Thinking Poster for Elementary Teachers - “Use this poster with your elementary students to help them learn how to be history detectives.” (L: E ; SA: SS )

Interactive Historical Thinking Poster for Secondary Teachers - “Use this interactive poster to begin a conversation with students about what we know about the past—and how we know it.” (L: H ; SA: SS )

A+ Click - “Math And Logic Problems to develop logical reasoning and creative thinking (L: M ; SA: A )

A Magical Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism - an infographic guide created by Kate Hart based on a Harry Potter theme. I thought this was a fun and informative guide. (L:M, H ; SA: A )

Wili the Word Wizard Math Dictionary - “Wili the Word Wizard can help you learn the most important words you’ll need to understand Math and Science concepts.” (L: E, M; SA: M, S)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 13, 2012

From Hoof to Handspun all on my own

When a friend of mine gave me this free alpaca fleece, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was so excited because I have heard about getting a fleece and making yarn but never imagined that I would get that chance.

After asking for lots of advice, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. Luckily a friend came over to help me. We washed the fleece in plastic tubs in my bath tub. I was back breaking work and was pretty nasty. The water was so filthy that it looked like choco004late milk. We plucked out as much veggie matter as we could. When we finally got it clean (the water was pretty clear), we laid it out in the sun on sheets in the middle of my yard. I looked at this mess of stuff and wondered how in the world it would ever become yarn!

When it got dark, I brought the mostly dried fleece into my house and let it sit and air out for a few more days. After buying hand carders, I began to card the fleece and it was exciting to watch them turn into fluffy white balls of fiber. Another friend lent me a drum carder so I could see how that worked.

Before I carded all the fiber, I decided I would try dying some the fiber and see how it turned out. Then later I would spin some of the raw fiber in yarn first and then dye the yarn. After doing this, I would decide which process I liked best.

Here is what I did to dye the fiber:

1. I soaked three 1 oz. of alpaca fiber for 30 minutes in separate pots of water.

2. In three separate plastic cups, I mixed 2 c. of water, 6 T of vinegar, and two easter egg dye tablets (blue in one, red in another, and green in one).

3. After 30 min. I moved 1 oz. of fiber into a glass microwaveable bowl and poured the blue liquid in it. Then I covered it in saran wrap and microwaved it on high for 3 min. When it was done, it wasn’t enough so I cooked it for 3 more minutes. Still not enough, so I let it cool for 5 minutes and then put it in for 3 more minutes. More cooling and I had to cook it again for 3 more minutes. (Later I found out that after heating it for about 2 times, I could have let it set overnight to soak in the dye. I will try this technique another time.)

4. When done I put it back in the soaking pot filled withfiber2 cool water. I let it cool there to rinse out the vinegar for about 10 minutes.

5. Then I took it out in the back yard to dry on a wooden clothes dryer.

After it was dry, I ran it through the drum carder and decided to spin it up into yarn. I like the way it turned ofiberut. The yarn is so soft. Since it is 100% alpaca, I’m sure it is going to be very warm so I will make either a hat or cowl out of this yarn. yarn

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Making Time to Do What We Want

timeIn The Question Should be: Why Are You *Not* Blogging from CogDogBlog, Alan Levine aka CogDog states,

“In last week’s pre class discussion for the Program for Online Teaching Certificate Class I kind of jumped on someone in the chat who said “I do not have time to blog”. I was probably kind of rude, but I refuse to buy that as an excuse. It’s a copout.”

When I first read this, I wanted to jump up and down and applaud. It is so great to see that someone else says what I think!

But I don’t feel that this applies to just blogging. I think it applies to whenever someone uses the excuse of “I don’t have time to…” do whatever it is that I am doing. I would much rather have people say what they really mean which is more on the track of “I don’t want to do that.”

I think everyone makes time to do the things that they really want to do. This is part of being an adult in the grown up world. We learn to make appropriate choices and with these decisions we also learn to prioritize so we can do the things that need to be done.

We all take time to eat. It is a necessary thing for survival. Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t have time to eat but eventually their own bodies will force them to make the time to eat. I have even heard new teachers (yes, I was one of these too) that say they don’t have time to go to the bathroom. Well, after a few kidney infections (yes, that was me too!), new teachers will learn to make time or the results might not be very pretty.

When my husband and I got married, we talked about how we loved to travel. We made the time to include travel in our lives. This meant making sacrifices in other areas but it is a choice that we made because travel was important to us. Over the years, so many people told me how lucky we were to be able to travel because they didn’t have the time to travel. Well, we had the same 24 hours that they did each day. It isn’t like God magically added more time to our day than other people’s day. It is just that we chose to spend our time in this way and other people choose to spend their time differently.

So, this is to teachers who use the excuse of “I don’t have time to:

· Learn new technology.

· Blog.

· Build a professional learning network.

· Learn new strategies for the classroom.

· Learn something new.

· Build relationships.

· Nurture old relationships.

· Eat better.

· Exercise more.

· Live a healthier lifestyle.”

I have to agree with Alan. This is just a sorry excuse for not saying what you really mean. You really mean, “I don’t want to.” It goes back to taking responsibility for our own actions. By saying you don’t have the time, puts the responsibility somewhere else (who knows where but not on yourself) even though that is untrue. By owning up to not wanting to do it means you have to accept the responsibility for your own life.

Think about the last time you said that you didn’t have the time to do something you really wanted to do. Think of ways that you can change your life in order to make the time to do this. If you really want to do something, you will find that time. Of course it may mean that you have to sacrifice something else to do this but those are choices you have the ability to make. If you have too much on your plate, maybe it is the right time to reevaluate the things that you are committed to doing. Maybe it is time to step back and cut out some of the things you don’t enjoy doing or aren’t really necessary. Maybe it is time to have the courage to face up to others and tell them, “I don’t want to do this anymore because I want to make time to do something else I really want to do. “

Image: 'Me In Time'
Found on

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Education is Like Football

footballCollege football has started and it is my husband’s favorite time. As we watch the ballgames on TV, I realize how education is so much like football. Let’s compare.

Teams: Each team has a goal in mind and that is to win. In the classrom, each teacher has a goal in mind and that is to prepare and educate our students for the future, which in our mind, is winning. A class is like a team and everyone is working to achieve the same goal. Sometimes we have to help each other.

Touchdowns: Learning consists of steps that are like “first downs.” Each step leads the student closer to the goal line. Each step may be a struggle but it is worth the effort.

Field Goals: These don’t score as many points as a touch down but it helps towards a winning score. These are the small achievements that happen in the classroom. Each small achievement should be celebrated and enjoyed just like a field goal would be.

Penalties: Sometimes mistakes happen and penalties are given. There may be a loss of yardage that the team needs to make up. In the classroom, mistakes also happen. Sometimes for every two steps forward in the classroom, the students end up going back a step. But we don’t give up. We keep struggling to move forward, towards the goal.

Fans: These are the people who cheer for their teams. They are the ones who are on the sidelines encouraging the team to win. In the classroom, these are the parents, family members, friends, other adults who are there to encourage the students to achieve their goals. When the students feel discouraged and frustrated, it is these people who are there to cheer them on.

Referees: Referees are there to make sure that everyone follows the rules and to determine what penalties are given if someone doesn’t. They are there to make sure the game goes smoothly. I think the school administration is a lot like the referees on the field. They make sure that the day goes smoothly.

Coaches: The coaches are the ones to train the teams. They are the ones to encourage them and help them learn the skills they need to win the game. They are the ones who come up with the strategies for the team to use on the field. This is the same way the teacher is in the classroom. The teacher trains the students, encourages them to work toward their goals, and finds strategies students can use to achieve their goals.

Do you see any other ways that Football and Education are the same? Please share.

Image: 'Roll Tide Roll!'
Found on

Monday, September 10, 2012

Almost True - A Book Review

Almost TrueI recently read the book Almost True by Keren David. This book was sent to me because I had written a review on an earlier book, When I was Joe (the first book in the series). This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review).

Almost True was the 2nd book in this series. This was an awesome book and I could not put it down! It continues the story of Ty (or Joe), a teenager who had witnessed a murder and was in the witness protection program. The story starts off with a murder and is filled with excitement throughout the book. The author does a wonderful job with character development and it is easy to get caught up in the story. I wanted to know more and was sorry when the story was finished.
It is set in London but I believe teenagers from anywhere could relate to the themes that run throughout this book. I also think girls and boys alike would enjoy this book. This book deals with topics such as gangs, death, relationships (peer and family), confusion, frustration, need to feel accepted, telling the truth, and facing the consequences of our actions. I think this book would lead to wonderful classroom discussions and would highly recommend it for a high school library.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/7/12

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

Elements of a Story - “Elements of a Story is an interactive Web site where students can learn about different literary "ingredients" that make up a story. After watching and listening to an interactive version of "Cinderella," students will learn about various elements that are common to all stories: setting, characters, plot, exposition, conflict, climax, and resolution. This site features an interactive explanation of each literary element, which is then followed by a series of activities to enhance students' understanding. Students will be asked to put plot developments into the correct order, select appropriate settings and characters, and sort events and exposition.” (L: E; SA: LA)

Forensic Firsts - Game based on the TV show using forensic information. (L:H; SA: S )

Class Dojo - “ClassDojo is a classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It also captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators. Better learning behaviors, smoother lessons and hassle-free data - and its free!” (L:T ; SA: A )

ChemReference - online periodic table of elements with lots of great information (L: H ; SA: S) - “A Fun way to Master the World. Learn and explore the countries of the world with a system proven to help you learn faster and remember longer. (L: M, H ; SA: SS )

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Special Education 101


I got an email yesterday about this infographic that I thought was very interesting. You can find the original and more information at USCRossierOnline.

Original Image from USCRossierOnline

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Learning by Watching

videotapeIn What To Do When You Hate Teaching from So You Want To Teach?, Joel shares,

“I recorded my classes. I listened to what I said, how I said it, what the reaction was, and how much background noise was going on in the classroom. Using these recordings…I identified problem areas
I noticed when some things didn’t go the way I expected and sought out corrective solutions. I went back to some of my mentors and had new questions to ask them. And, I also sought out answers on my own…”

Watching a video of me is very hard to do. I don’t think anyone likes watching themselves on video. When I applied for National Board Certification, I had to video myself teaching three lessons. Then I had to watch them and write up a reflection about each one. That is where I really learned how to critique myself. It wasn’t just enough to watch myself. I had to really think about why I did what I did. Then I had to decide if that was the best way to do this and if not, what I would change.

This takes practice and it isn’t easy. I would start off the school year by videotaping my classes. Yes, they students hated it! I first cleared with the administration and I spoke with the parents. I explained I was videotaping my lessons in order to be a better teacher. How could either group have a problem with that! I then shared the same reason with my students so they would know that I was constantly trying to be a better teacher.

Sometimes I would discuss some changes in class and explain to them why we were making the changes. I would share with them some of the things I didn’t see working and wanted to try something better. I also hoped that this would be a great way to show them that I can’t control other people’s actions but I could control my own.

When I watched the video, I could see that sometimes I acted in a certain way that caused my students to act in a certain way. Sometimes I didn’t even realize I was doing this! By becoming aware of my own actions, I was able to change or two of my own behaviors and then watch on the video to see if that helped. It amazed me that it did change the way my students reacted to me.

As the school year progressed, I started seeing positive changes happen in my classroom. I started to see that I was being more effective and efficient. I started to see how simple changes can cause bigger changes in the classroom. These changes did not cost money and these changes didn’t take a lot of effort.

I really recommend this if you haven’t tried it before. I’m not saying to tape yourself every class but think about which class you struggle the most with and start there. Record yourself once a week during this time and then make time to review it. It may be an eye opener.

Image: 'Canon EOS 5D Mark II'

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The View Has Changed

changeI was not very popular when I was in school. No, let me put that in a different way. I was the least popular kid in school, at any grade, on any level. I was the nerd. Here is how I know I was a nerd:

1. No one picked me to be on their “team.” (Whatever sport it was because I could not catch a ball!)

2. I had thick “coca-cola” glasses that I wore.

3. Because I had “flat feet,” I had to buy special shoes with arch supports (they didn’t have them in all shoes like they do now). This means I had to go to a special store and all of their shoes had to be the ugliest, most out of style shoes that you had ever seen in your life.

4. While other girls were cheerleaders or popular athletes, I was on the math team and called a “mathlete.”

5. I wasn’t allowed to date. (My parents were strict Chinese from the “old school.”)

6. I made straight As because I had nothing else to do but study.

7. I had a few friends but they were as not popular as I was.

8. I joined the Drama club and helped out backstage by building the sets, painting, prop hunting, and then basic dogsbody on performance days. This helped me be near the major actors and actresses who could sing, dance, act like famous people.

9. I didn’t smoke -cigarettes or marijuana. I never experimented with drugs so other kids called me a “goody two shoes.”

10. I was different than others since I was the only Chinese kid around.

Now that I look back at the popularity or unpopularity of my teenage years, I’m kind of glad I had that life. If I could go back and talk to myself, here is how I would explain it:

1. It is okay not to be athletic. I can support the team by being there to cheer them on. Not everyone is athletic and when I get a job, no one will care if I was on someone’s team or not (unless I go into professional sports, which just isn’t going to happen.)

2. Eventually I could afford contact lenses or even lasix surgery. (When I had the surgery, I thought it was the best thing to ever happen to me other than marrying my husband!)

3. Now, I can buy the shoes I like. Arch supports are in most shoes. No one talks about “flat feet” anymore.

4. I should have been proud to be a mathlete. I wish more students were proud of this.

5. Dating is what it is. It is a way to meet others and see what you like and don’t like. This helps you choose a future mate. Unfortunately my parents were overprotective and there wasn’t anything I could do to change that.

6. Straight A’s helped me when I went to college. Those AP courses helped me save a lot of money! Now I’m pretty proud that I made them and that I knew how to study.

7. It is the quality of my friends that count and not the quantity. I would rather have a few close friends that a ton of acquaintances.

8. I enjoyed the Drama club. Not everyone has to be the lead in the play and it takes a lot of people to have a successful production. I believe my efforts helped do this.

9. I was concerned about my health even when I was young. That is nothing to be ashamed about and I never gave in to peer pressure about this. I’m very proud of this fact.

10. I would embrace my individuality and my uniqueness. I wish I paid attention more to my parents and relatives about my heritage.

I also look back at the many kids I thought were so popular and had it all. Many of them are now unhappy with their lives or dead due to poor choices they made. I’m not saying that all popular kids come to a tragic end of course. But I look back at these kids and try to see why I thought they were so popular. Many of them chose to do illegal things and got away with them (maybe in my immature mind, I thought they were brave). Others pursued their dreams but gave up their values. Some made poor choices about their health which have impacted their adulthood. Now I look back at them and think, “why did I ever think they were popular and why did I want to be like them?”

Isn’t it funny how our views change when we grow up? I wish there were ways we could get today’s students to understand this. How have your views change from your school days to now? Please share.

Found on flicImage: 'Snowy October morning in Millstone'
Found on

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

barbecueEvery year we celebrate Labor Day here in the US on the first Monday of September. Federal offices are closed. Schools are closed. Many businesses shut down for a holiday. This weekend is supposed to be a big retail sale weekend. This weekend symbolizes the end of summer for many. Many schools start the day after Labor Day. Where I live, our schools have started about 2 weeks before Labor Day. Families have big barbecues on this weekend.

But what is Labor Day? Why do we celebrate it? Who and what started it? I thought I would give us a little background in honor of Labor Day.

According to Wikipedia, Labor Day “celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers.”

I’m not sure anyone knows who started it. There are different stories about who started it but I’m not sure anyone really knows.

In 1887, Oregon was the first state to declare it a holiday. But it didn’t become a federal holiday until 1894. There was a major conflict between labor workers and the US military and US marshals that resulted in many deaths during the Pullman Strike. Congress unanimously voted to make Labor Day a national holiday and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law six days after the strike ended.

Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope you have a safe and fun day!

Image: 'Back porch family 1'