Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 2013 Day 2

059(Click here for Pictures from Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 2013 Day 2)

The first session of the day was Wildflower Photography with Jack Carman ( author of Wildflowers of Tennessee) and Bob Hutson (co-author of Wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains). I didn’t realize who our instructors were and I wish I brought my books for them to autograph! This was an awesome session and I learned so much.

Contrast and Control Techniques
1. Full sun casts harsh/very hard shadows, requires contrast. Control to lower contrast.
2. Mixed sun/shade - need to lower contrast
3. Cloudy bright - no contrast needed
4. Deep shade - raise contrast

Contrast Control
1. add light to shadows and subtract light from highlights; use reflectors (crumble tin foil, paste on foamboard with dull side out) and get as close to the flower as possible so as to light the flower and not the background; sides or angles but not head on.
2. Diffuser - white rain umbrella, frosted vinyl shower curtain, sheer white cloth
3. Shading tools - black cloth over umbrella
4. Use friend’s body, hat, coat, newspaper
5. Blocking only direct sun will diffuse
6. Block all creates shade
7. Diffuser in sunlight all the time.
8. Sometimes wait for cloud to block the sun.

Background Selection
1. Zoom: use optical zoom not digital
2. Longest focal length
3. Telephoto lets you control background better
4. Choose background that is far away
5. Make subject stand out
6. Increase contrast between subject and background

1. Zooming is cropping
2. Move to change composition
3. Odd number of flowers looks best
4. Simplify - focus in on what is the most interesting thing
5. Bulls eye pictures are less pleasing.
6. Get your subject off center
7. Thirds rule
8. Don’t let subject touch edges of frame
9. Bulls eye work with symmetrically shaped subject.
10. Get in as close as you can.
11. Make horizontal and vertical photos. Most subjects will lend themselves to one or the other.
12. Look for geometric shapes such as diagonal lines, curves, s curves. Diagonal lines look better than straight up and down.
13. Most things look better from their level.
14. Stop and study from all angles.
15. Sweep the edges of the frame with your eyes and look for distractions.

Taking the Picture
1. Highest quality image setting
2. Set lens for telephoto
3. Work under optimal lighting conditions (cloudy bright)
4. Get helper, tripod
5. Use light modification techniques.
6. Use auto ISO setting - shutter speed at least 1/100 of a sec.
7. Compose using LCD on back of camera, not viewfinder
8. Autofocus on what is most important
9. Manual focus if autofocus doesn’t lock on what you want.
10. Manually focus at the distance that gives you the composition you want.
11. Use 2 hands.
12. Brace elbows against body and squeeze slowly.
13. Use autoexposure -either program mode or aperture
14. Use exposure compensation - check your image for blinkies to see if you have blown the highlights.

1. If flower is blowing in slight breeze, be patient.
2. Photograph early in the day when wind is generally still
3. Shield plant with umbrella or other device.
4. Check image on LCD screen for exposure, focus, composition, and wind before you walk away.

Other Tips
1. Do it Right in the field. Photoshop never as good.
2. Search for picture or good specimen. Spend more time looking than photographing.
3. Small groups or single flowers are easier to work with then large mass. A large mass works better for a carpet or scenic.

1. Do not damage your subject or environment.
2. Gardening is the removal of things from the picture consistent with a natural look. Do in a nondestructive manner.
3. Use dead leaves to cover rocks and sticks and water to tone down/darken things.
4. Never remove or damage live plant material
5. Gently brush other vegetation out of the way or stake back if necessary.
6. Don’t remove all the leaves around the plant. Return everything back the way it was.
7. Think about what you are doing. Don’t trample other stuff to photograph something.

Our next session was on Bugs and Butterflies with Chuck Parker. Here are things we saw:

1. Millipede
2. Cranefly
3. Stonefly (characteristics are 4 wings, 2 prongs at end of abdomen, long antenna, mouth parts not well developed, wings specific)
4. Scorpion fly
5. Moth fly
6. Worm
7. Snail
8. Dark winged fungus gnat
9. Grasshopper
10. Caterpillar
11. Ground beetles
12. Rolled wing or needle stoneflies
13. Wasp
14. Caddisfly
15. Sowbug
16. Butterfly
17. Salamander
18. Carpenter bee
19. Tiger beetle - iridescent blue green
20. Adult mayfly
21. Saw flies - female ovipositor looks like saw blade.
22. Doll’s eye
23. Swallowtail
24. Beetle larva
25. Seersucker sedge
26. Sweat bee
27. True bug
28. True fly
29. Bee moth aka hummingbird moth
30. Crayfish
31. Leaf hopper
32. Lady bug
33. Water penny
34. Flatheaded caddisfly
35. Forester moth - day active; white belly, white stripes, black body
36. Caddisfly cases on rocks (if stuck - pupated)
37. Midge
38. Angelwinged butterfly
39. Black fly larva - look like bowling pins; can eat bacteria out of water.
40. Rhyme -
Sedges have edges.
Rushes are round.
And on grasses,
Nodes can be found.

Come back tomorrow to see my notes from Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Day 3!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 2013 Day 1

002(Click to see pictures from Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 2013 Day 1)

We began the day with the session Edible Mushrooms which involved a hike on the Engine Creek Trail which was led by Christine Braaten, a PhD student at University at Tennessee. I have to say she was pretty awesome! Not only was she very knowledgeable but you can tell she was enthusiastic about her subject. I got a lot of information and it made me want to learn more which makes me feel like it was a great session to attend. I like to end up wanting more and being inspired to learn. Here are some of the notes I took:

1. The trail is behind the Greenbrier Ranger Station and is about 5 miles long (which we didn’t do the entire trail). At the end, there is a train engine wreckage.
2. Peak time for mushrooms is late summer and early fall.
3. Mushroom hunting in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is legal. You can gather one pound per person per day as long as it is 200 feet off the trail. (someone might want to photograph the ones near the trail).
4. There are 3000 species of fungi in the park.
5. Trees to fungi ration is 1:5.
6. Lung lichen (Lobaria Pulmanarius) - sensitive to air pollution and probably won’t find any in Knoxville; air quality indicator
7. Mushroom - fungus, most of its biomass lives underground. Reproductive structure that produces spores is what we see.
8. Polypores grow off wood. Harvest young or it turns hard.
9. False morel (Gyromitra esculenta) might not be poisonous if parboiled (at least 3 times) (Correction from Christine: Gyromitra korfii a lighter colored false morel may be considered edible after par boiling and emptying the water each time, despite the name "esculenta" Gyromitra esculenta should never be eaten and its the only false morel that has been responsible for a death.)
10. Morels are toxic if eaten raw so don’t cut them up and put them in your salad.
11. Reishi - traditional Chinese medicine. Nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory. Easy to grow. When fresh, boil them 1/2c. to qt. of water for 5 hours. Drink tea (tastes bitter)
12. Oyster mushroom - has gills
13. Milk cap (lactarius volemus) -
14. Russula - red cap
15. Morels can be found on eastern red cedar, hemlocks, ash, tulip poplar
16. Usnea - also called old man’s beard - antiseptic properties
17. Devils urn (urnula craterium)- black, tough, if found it is the right habitat and right time of year for morels.
18. Deer mushroom (plutious servinus) - putrid smelling, gills are white, spores are pink
19. Velvet tooth polypore (tricaptum) - little teeth, fresh after rain.
20. 75,000 fungi have been discovered.
21. Mushroom related deaths in the US- 2 (Correction from Christine: Also the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) after a 30 year study, reported an average of 1-2 deaths "Per Year" in the US.")
22. Death Cap (Amanita philloidas) - Avoid, imported from Europe
23. Elvin Blue Cups (Chloro Cyboria) - bluish tint on logs, no gills
24. Crimini and portabella mushrooms are the same thing.
25. Lichen - gets food from partnership with the algae; no mycelium hidden, what you see is what you get; keeps moss from growing on the rock, secretes acid
26. False Turkey tail - smooth back
27. Turkey Tail - You can feel the spores; make tea; can chew and eat when fresh (Sept.), thick and juicy
28. Trimides Elegans - bigger and smoother than turkey tail (looked like a clam shell to me)
29. Chicken of the woods - bread and eat like chicken fingers
30. Hen of the woods - don’t take if growing on pine, usually get off hardwood.
31. False Hen of the Woods (Mytaki) - stains black, tastes like liver
32. Cinnabar Red Polypor - not poisonous but pretty and red; shelving
33. Orange Parchment Fungus (Sterium complicatum) - orange crust on log
34. Bleeding Canker - black on the tree, looks like someone tried to burn the tree.
35. Orange Witches Butter - orange
36. Lion’s Mane is also edible.

The second session was on Bears and Wild Hogs led by David Whitehead, a TN Wildlife Resource Agency Manager.

1. Hogs are non native to the US
2. Late 1800s - hunting clubs bring hogs back to hunt
3. Hogs like plants with rhizomous high carbs such as spring beautys.
4. Hog wallows attract salamanders but are detrimental because of the constant disturbing.
5. 1987 Congress appropriated funding for hog control in the park.
6. Hogs from coast show pseudorabies (kills dogs but not people) and Brucilosis (deadly to people)
7. Landowners can do anything except poison to control wild hogs; just needs to apply for exemption
8. Killing about 4000 per year.
9. Average litter size is 13-15 and 3 litters a year (in the wild, maybe 2). In the wild, bringing 6 to a year old is a successful litter.
10. Gives birth in Jan. and Feb.
11. Predators: man, bears, wolves, mountain lions. Bobcats and coyote eat babies.

1. Pregnant females will go in den.
2. 80% bears will den in a tree.
3. Males don’t sleep a lot unless it’s cold.
4. TN- 3500 bear including the park
5. Dens can be used over and over but not by the same animal.
6. Den used Oct. to April; bears have a fecal plug and their body recycles waste
7. Eat squawroot, berries, insects, yellow jacket larval bees, carion
8. Do not run from a bear!
9. Bears do not show aggressive behavior. They either attack or don’t’. They show non-defensive or non-aggressive behavior to scare you off (chomp jaws together, blow air, bounce up and down on paws, bluff charge). If it intends to attack there are no signals. If this happens, fight back. Nose is most sensitive part.
10. Babies -weighs 8 oz. when born, by April 5-10 lbs., in Dec. 30-50 lbs.
11. Hibernation now called winter sleep
12. Eggs fertilized, will float until Oct. and then attach. Used to be called delayed implantation and now called delayed development.
13. More bears killed on the coast than in the mountains.

Please come back tomorrow to see what happened on Day 2 of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 2013!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, April 26, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/26/13

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

Poetry Idea Engine - “this activity will allow you to write haikus, free verse, limericks, and more!” (L:G; SA: A)

Class Charts - “With Class Charts you get data rich seating charts and streamlined behavior management. You can even collaborate with other teachers and work as a team to tackle behavior.” (L:T; SA: A)

Story Starters - story prompts (L:T; SA: A)

Conservation Connection - “Students, check out how these weird conservation tools help make your favorite things.” (L:M, H; SA: S)

Nanospace - virtual amusement park that students can click through to find videos, games, and other short lessons about atoms and molecules. (L:E,M; SA: S)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Comfort Books

booksIn Comfort books from Blue Skunk Blog by Doug Johnson

“Every few years, I also find I need "comfort" books* - books that I've read before and can relax in the re-reading of, knowing the plot and the characters…

What are your comfort books?”

When I get bored or if I’m stressed out, I need comfort books. They are like getting a hug by words. Some are paperbacks that have worn covers from so much rereading. Here are some of my favorites:

1. The Narnia books

2. Little House on the Prairie books

3. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

4. Books by Janette Oke

5. To Kill a Mockingbird

6. Harry Potter Books

7. Little Women

8. Charlotte’s Web

9. The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew

10. The Little Princess

11. The Outsiders

12. Romance novels for when I don’t want to think and just want a happy ending (some favorite authors are: Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, Sherryl Wood)

What are your comfort books? Please share!

Image: 'Tome Reader'
Found on flickrcc.net

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yes, You Do Matter!

TeachersMatterIn Teachers Matter from Angela Maiers, Speaker, Educator, Writer, Angela Maiers shares,

“After my presentation, a young man approached me and said, “This is my first year of teaching. I had pretty much made up my mind that this would be also be my last year of teaching. I now realize that teachers matter, and there is no way I’m giving up a job that matters.”

Teachers matter.”

Her post had me thinking about how much we don’t tell teachers that they matter enough. So, this is my way of sharing with all the teachers that read my blog - Yes, you do matter!

It seems like I tell my family how much I love them and how much they mean to me.

I tell my friends how glad I am to have their friendship.

I tell fellow church members how happy I am that we attend the same church.

I tell my neighbors how glad I am that we all live in the same community.

I tell my students how awesome it is to have the opportunity to teach them.

But I don’t tell teachers enough how much they matter. The media doesn’t share enough about how much teachers matter. They are quick to share info about the teachers who mess up, make mistakes, or commit crimes but there are more teachers who are making a positive difference out there than negative impacts.

I wonder if we start telling more teachers how much they matter that maybe they will stay in the profession longer. Maybe they won’t burn out so fast. Maybe they won’t be as frustrated. Maybe they won’t give up so easily. Maybe they will teach more effectively. Maybe they will enjoy their jobs more. Maybe they will make more positive changes in the teaching environment. Maybe they will impact other teachers so that they can be better at what they do.

So this is for all the teachers out there, the ones who read my blog, the ones who don’t, the ones that I teach, the ones who I’ve worked with, the ones who I come in contact with at meetings and conferences…

Teachers Matter!

Image: 'worth a thousand words'
Found on flickrcc.net

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Being a Shepherd

sheepIn church this week, our pastor (Trinity Lutheran Church) talked about shepherds and how we are considered sheep. I started to think about how this related to the classroom. Teachers are a lot like shepherds and our students are our sheep.

Teachers have a close relationship with students (not the kinky kind!) like a shepherd does with sheep. Shepherds care about their flock like teachers care about their students. They want the very best for them and have high hopes for them.

Teachers guide students like a shepherd guides the sheep. Sheep don’t understand where they need to go and need help getting to their destination. Teachers can help students reach their goals. Teachers have the knowledge and can direct students to the best places to go to find information. We help students go in directions that focus on the student’s strengths rather than weaknesses. By guiding a student, we can help show them the potential that is in their life.

Teachers protect students like a shepherd protects the sheep. Sheep are vulnerable to many predators and students can be vulnerable to their peers, or even adults. We protect them from bullies that can hurt them physically and emotionally. We protect them for injustices as much as we can. We protect them from themselves sometimes.

Teachers rescue students like a shepherd protects the sheep. Sheep sometimes fall in ravines or holes and would die if left there. Sometimes students make bad decisions, and we try to help them find their way out of a bad situation. We try to be there for them and listen when they need a caring ear. We try to show them the options that are open to them.

Are you a shepherd? In what ways do you help your students? Please share.

Image: 'Shepherd in Morey Plains'
Found on flickrcc.net

Monday, April 22, 2013

Too Much Attention

evilAs this week’s tragedy was spotlighted in the news, I was truly saddened. I felt sad for the victims, for their families, for the people in Boston, Massachusetts, our nation, and the world. I was saddened that there is so much evil and hate in our world.

Yet, I wonder how much of this evil and hate is sensationalized by our media. Throughout the day, I watched endless news reports detailing the tragedy. During the week there were endless special reports about capturing the killers. There was so much attention given to these evil men. All day long, videos replayed the bombing at the Boston Marathon. I honestly did not need a blow by blow description of the investigation, killing, and capture of the killers. Now I’m watching reports about the aftermath and future prosecution of the captured killer. Enough attention to the bad guys!

I’m afraid that we are giving way too much attention to the bad guys. If someone wants attention, they look at all of this and think that they could do something bad like this to receive it. They might not care that it is bad attention because all they see is all of the media attention. I’m afraid of all the copycat unbalanced people who may look at this and want the same attention.

Our children are becoming desensitized to the evil around us. There is so much killing in video games, movies, and TV shows that children think it is all make believe. No wonder they don’t understand the impact of an actual gun shooting.

Why doesn’t all of the many good acts that go on around the world get attention? Obviously bad news sells and good news doesn’t. People seem attracted to the bad but I wonder if it is a bad habit that we have developed. Maybe we need to turn off the news and watch things that are more productive. Maybe if we stop giving all this negative attention to the bad guys, it might slow it up.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t know what is happening around the world but it seems like the regularly scheduled news reports are recapping what has been shown all day long. Why not stop the daylong show and just report it on the regular news programs?

Do you think we are giving evil to much attention? How can we change this? Please share.

Image: 'Evil monkey from the movie about the+evil+monkey+that+smiles+awkwardly'
Found on flickrcc.net

Friday, April 19, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/19/13

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

Witty Comics - make your own comic strip (L:T; SA: A)

3D Solar System Web - “This is a 3D solar system simulation application, which gives you the approximate location of the planets in the solar system at different time, and some information about each one of them.” (L:G; SA: S)

The Spacesuit - Interactive site from NASA about the spacesuit. ((L:M,H; SA: S)

Quizdini - “allows teachers to create and customize material for their students - for free! We are committed to providing you a simple, easy-to-use, cost-free system that helps you help your students” (L:T; SA: A)

Map Treasure Hunt - “Provide as many questions (clues) and answers (locations) as you like to create a virutal 'treasure hunt'.When you are finished you can save the game and share it with others.Players have to use each clue to collect the 'coins' that appear in each of your secret locations.” (L:T; SA: A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Daily Challenge

I’m participating in another year of the Photo of the Day project. I post to 2 groups on Flickr and one of them is where we get a challenge every day. I like these challenges because they help me decide on what I will photograph that day. Sometimes I’m unable to do the challenge but most days I can complete it.

I think this would be a great thing to do in the classroom too. Maybe a daily challenge for the students would look like:

  • Use a specific vocabulary word three times today.
  • Say something positive to five people today.
  • Use math to solve a problem you have today.
  • Resolve a conflict peacefully today.
  • Help someone who is having difficulties today.
  • Pick up ten pieces of trash today and put it in the trash can.
I’m sure there are many more but I thought this would be a fun activity each day. Then have the students report about their accomplishment the next day. This would be done on the honor system but if they have to explain it, it might make them more accountable. You can make a game of it and give points for each. Maybe at the end of the week, there can be a cheap prize like a free pencil, pass to the library etc.

What other daily challenges can you think of? Please share.

Image: 'Face off'
Found on flickrcc.net

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Using My Inner Critic

criticIn Kill Your Inner Critic, from Sioux's Page, Sioux talks about how everyone has an inner critic and she asks,

“So, how do you handle your inner critic? Do you kill them off (I'm overly fond of "death by wood chipper") or do you embrace them?”

I have a sensitive relationship with my inner critic. I think we finally understand and accept each other. If I allow her to exist in the background, she tries not to overshadow my attempt to do the things I want to do.

First let me explain that I grew up in a strict household. My parents were strict and I knew they loved me but they didn’t accept anything but the very best from me. If I got a B, they wanted to know why I didn’t get an A. If I got an A, they wanted to know why I didn’t get an A+. If I got an A+ they wanted to know why all of my work didn’t have an A+. I really struggled to keep up my grades because I never wanted to disappoint my parents. When I finally grew up, I think this attitude was passed on to my inner critic. Whenever I did something, she wanted to know why I didn’t do it better.

For many years I fought her but next to her, I hate deadlines even worse. I’m so afraid that I won’t have something done by the deadline that I will work hard on getting it done early. This means that there are times that I need to brush her aside and get something accomplished. Then I allow her to come back and look at what I have finished but I don’t let her review it more than twice. At that point, I accept what is finished and let it be.

I have decided that perfectionism isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to do the best that I can and if that isn’t perfect, then it is what it is. Accepting that I’m not perfect has made my life much more enjoyable. But I’m not saying that I need to do a slapdash job either. I know if I’ve given a task my best effort and if I have, I can live with the results and be happy. If I haven’t, then I know that I haven’t and I listen to my inner critic’s disappointment in myself. I deserve it.

So, while I listen to my inner critic, I don’t let her rule my life. I’m in charge of my own life and my own actions. It is alright to evaluate my work but not let it dominate everything I do. I don’t let it paralyze my actions because I fear failure. I try to use my inner critic to move me forward instead of holding me down or holding me back.

I think this is an important thing to show my students too. My actions can be an example for them to guide them in the future. I’ve had many students who refused to try anything because they had failed so much that they didn’t see a reason to even try. I needed to help them be successful in small ways so that they were willing to give things a try instead of letting their inner critic hold them back. I need to share my worries and concerns about my attempts and then let them see how I use them in positive way. As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”

How do you handle your inner critic? Please share?

Image: '327 of 365: Everyone's A Critic'
Found on flickrcc.net

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Am I Listening?

listenIn Public Service Announcement from Barn on the Web - Daily Happenings, RJ talks about someone he heard about who was killed by a train because he had earbuds in his ears while jogging and didn’t hear the train. He mentions,

“Have you ever taken the same route all the time and you get so used to it you say I can drive it with my eyes closed?  Well, when you jog, walk or run you normally take the same route and you get that used to the dogs, traffic and trains that  you can actually NOT hear it.”

What a sad story! It reminds me how sometimes when I read or I get involved in a project, I tend to tune everything else out. I stop listening to what is going on around me and that is without having anything in my ears. I ignore all of the sounds, words, conversations that happening and may be important.

I wonder if that happens in the classroom too. I get so used to the usual classroom noises that I tend to tune them out. I know that certain students can be whiny and others can be needy, so I stop responding to them. I stop listening to the conversations that they are having with one another. Or I can be so involved in the lesson that I’m teaching, I don’t hear the unasked questions that are visible on their faces. I don’t hear them because I stopped listening.

I can learn a lot about what is going on in their lives but listening to the conversations that they are having with each others. Sometimes it is easier for them to share what is going in their lives with their peers than with an adult. I found out that one of my student’s parents were going through and ugly divorce which explained about the angry behavior I was seeing. Another student was worried that she might be pregnant and I was able to talk to her privately after class and get her some help. I also heard of some trouble between a couple of students that might happen and was able to head it off so no one got in trouble with the school.

I can learn a lot by “listening” to their body language. I can see that they are bored or confused and may be tuning me out. I need to find ways to get them to engage in the lesson. They might not know what questions to ask in order to get a better understanding of what I’m saying. I may need to stop and explore what they don’t understand.

I need to stop ignoring all of the sounds around me and actually start listening. It may be important and I don’t want to miss an opportunity like this.

Do you do this in the classroom? Are you listening? How do you pay attention? Please share.

Image: 'listen to me...'
Found on flickrcc.net

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Next Learning Adventure

adventureIn Prompt #2: The Writing on Learning Exchange: What I Want To Learn Now from Classroom as Microcosm, Siobhan Curious asks,

“This week’s prompt: What do you want to learn next?”

I have always loved learning! I think learning is so exciting and each year I try to learn something new. My friends and family tend to roll their eyes when they hear that I’m learning something new but well, that is just me. I have a driving need to learn. I probably won’t stop until I die.

So, what do I want to learn next? I want to learn to shoot a bow and arrow. Well, actually relearn. I learned archery in high school and really enjoyed it. It was one of those few things that I could do well in gym class. As a nerd in high school (I still am in adulthood), I was not a desired player when it came to team sports and was usually the last one picked. In fact, I think teams argued over who would be “stuck” with me. So, when archery came along, it wasn’t a team sport and I just improved my score against myself.I haven’t touched a bow and arrow in almost 35 years.

We were in a sporting goods store one day and I saw the bows and arrows so I mentioned it to my hubby. He said he would be willing to give it a try. Then we were at a walmart when the sporting goods dept. clerk told us about an archery range very close to us. So, we headed there and found out that the owner gives lessons! We went home and talked about it but that was about it. Then one day, I saw an email advertising a groupon coupon for lessons at that archery range! It was meant to be! So I bought the coupons and now I just need to set up the lessons. I didn’t know that there were competitions all around the country that we could enter. This could be exciting!

Since the movies Hunger Games and Brave, I think archery is making a come back and I’m glad to see that. I’m also glad to see that this is not a “men’s only” sport.

I’ll keep you updated and let me know how my archery lesson goes!

What do you want to learn next? Please share.

Image: 'Hot-Air Balloon Flight over Cappadocia Rock Sites'
Found on flickrcc.net

Friday, April 12, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/12/13

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

Genius Hour Projects - “Goals of this project:
*to promote, support and model creative, innovative thinking and inventiveness
*to allow students an opportunity to discover/investigate one of their passions and reflect on/share their learning with others
*provide students and teachers an opportunity to develop skill sets that are valuable in any learning situation (research, experimentation, collaboration, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking)
*to provide an opportunity for classes to share their Genius and Passion Projects with others” (L:G; SA: A)

Spree Games - free K-12 educational learning games (L:G; SA: A)

Magnifying the Universe - “This interactive infographic from Number Sleuth accurately illustrates the scale of over 100 items within the observable universe ranging from galaxies to insects, nebulae and stars to molecules and atoms. Numerous hot points along the zoom slider allow for direct access to planets, animals, the hydrogen atom and more. As you scroll, a handy dial spins to show you your present magnification level.” (L:G; SA: S)

Image Quiz - “Welcome to ImageQuiz, a website that uses the power of images (1 image = 1000 words) to help you learn. The website contains a variety of quizzes, tagged according to topic: just select a topic that interests you from the sidebar, then select a quiz. Each quiz will prompt you to click on a particular part of the image that you will hopefully recognise. For example, the image might be a map of the world and the prompt asks you to click on Brazil (easy, it's the biggest country in South America!).” (L:G; SA: A)

Edcanvas - create a canvas where you can save resources for specific topics for your classroom(L:T; SA: A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 11, 2013

BAM Radio Interview


BAM Radio is considered “The Voice of the Education Community.” Recently I was interviewed on BAM radio by Rae Pica along with Mike Muir, Lee Kolbert, and Lisa Nielsen. The topic was: “Do You Have to Be an Entertainer to Engage Your Students?” I think we had a great discussion and if you want to hear it, click HERE. If you have time, please check it out. I think you would enjoy our conversation and if you have more to add, please share it in the comment section below.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Good Substitute…

substituteIn John: I Have My Teaching Certificate, Now What? Part Two from Reality 101: CEC's blog for new teachers, John shares some tips for substitutes. These are some good tips! He says,

“I’m going to focus on how to make a good impression with the teacher you are substituting for because that’s what I know best. Some of the tips might sound like common sense, but they are all here because someone has violated them at some point while subbing in my classroom.”

I decided to add a few of my own tips for a substitute teacher.

1. If you know in advance which teacher you will be subbing for, go meet that teacher ahead of time. Schedule a meeting with that teacher and explain you will be the sub and wanted any last minute tips or instructions that might not be in the plan. If you have the time, offer to volunteer during a class period so you can how the teacher runs the classroom.

2. Review the school’s discipline policy ahead of time. It helps to be familiar with it before you arrive at school. So, in case you have to deal with a problem, you are prepared and show that you are in control instead of looking for procedures on how to deal with it. This makes you look unorganized and the students will take advantage of it.

3. Find out the school’s schedule ahead of time (notice class change times and lunch schedules). This is one less thing you will have to deal with when you arrive. I hated when my students didn’t go to something planned or went to the wrong lunch shift because the sub was unaware of the different bells.

4. Take photos of the empty classroom and the teacher’s desk. At the end of the day, you will have a frame of reference to make sure that everything is put back to order as much as you can. I hated returning to my classroom and find all my pens and pencils had disappeared. Or I would have to put the desks back the way I had them.

5. If you lend something from the teacher’s desk or any materials, jot down the name of the student who borrowed it and make sure they return it. A couple of times my stapler disappeared and never returned.

6. Bring some of your own activities in case the lessons end quickly. Share something with my class that you enjoy or tell them stories about your hobbies. This keeps my students engaged and out of trouble. I hated having to deal with discipline problems that arose because my students were bored.

7. Please follow the lesson plan provided by the teacher! Nothing is more irritating than returning to class only to find out that the lesson plan wasn’t followed. Sometimes it is important that the lesson is taught in that specific time frame so when I return to the do the following lesson and find out I can’t, I’m resentful. I hate taking all that time to make detailed lesson plans and find out it was a waste of time!

8. Leave a note telling me what lessons you did, the response from the students, any problems, any notable good things that I can praise my students for. If you enjoyed subbing for me, leave your name and phone number so I can contact you again for possible future absences.

What other things would you suggest for a sub to be considered “good” and would hope for a repeat performance? Please share.

Image: 'Substitute Wanted'
Found on flickrcc.net

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My First School Memories

schoolmemoriesIn Prompt #1: The Writing on Learning Exchange: Learning About School from Classroom as Microcosm by Siobhan Curious, she says,

“Welcome to the Writing on Learning Exchange!  Every week or two I will publish a prompt that is meant to get us thinking and writing about some aspect of our learning and/or teaching experience.  Whether you are a teacher, a learner, a parent or just a citizen who cares about the growth and development of other citizens, I hope you will find some inspiration here.

So here’s the first prompt: What are your first memories of going to school?”

I have some early school memories and it was my first year of school. Here they are:

New Clothes - I remember buying brand new clothes and shoes for the first day of school. I was so excited because it seems like I had waited for years to go to school! (I think I was only 5 at the time).

Crayons - My parents bought me a brand new box of Crayola crayons - the 64 count box. As soon as I got to school, the box opened up and all of the crayons fell to the ground. Most of them broke and many were lost in the crowd of kids. We were hurried to a classroom and I never got my crayons back.

School Bus - I was 5 years old and it was the one and only time I rode a school bus. My two older sisters (10 and 12 years older than me) and my parents watched me get on the bus. Later in the day, the bus brought me home…or should I say, close to home. The bus driver let me off at a stop that was not my stop and I was lost. I didn’t know how to get home and started crying but soon a neighbor saw me and brought me to my house. My parents were furious and my father jumped in the car to hunt down the bus driver. I think he said a lot of angry words to her when he caught up with her. That was the last day I ever rode a school bus to school.

These are my earliest memories and I’m surprised at how I can still remember them after almost 50 years later. I guess this is proof that as teachers, we can make a powerful impact on children.

What are your earliest school memories? Please share.

Image: 'school friends'
Found on flickrcc.net

Monday, April 8, 2013

Episode 23 Spring is Here

1. Contact info:
a. loonyhiker on Plurk: http://www.plurk.com
b. Loonyhiker on Twitter: http://twitter.com
c. Blog – http://successfulteaching.net
d. Email me at successfulteaching@gmail.com

2. Music Notes
a. Every Child’s A Star by Danny O’Flaherty from his Heroes CD. : http://www.dannyoflaherty.com/.
b. You can watch a video and hear the whole song on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_j3aQg4iKA
c. Every Child’s A Star CD Campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/every-child-s-a-star-new-cd

3. Science Notes
a. My Fitness Pal
b. Fitbit Zip

4. Teacher’s Lounge:
a. Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage
b. Knitting: Bayside Pullover (Cascade yarn Heritage Quatro) Pipers Journey

Friday, April 5, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/5/13

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

Google Art Project - “The Art Project is a collaboration between Google and some of the world’s most acclaimed and diverse art institutions. Powered by a broad, connected suite of Google technologies, you can now explore art collections from around the world, view artworks at incredible zoom levels and create your own gallery.” (L: G; SA: FA)

Stat World - “interactive maps of open data” (L:G; SA: A)

Padlet - formerly Wallwisher; virtual post it notes (L:G; SA: A)

Surface Languages - “free online language learning resources in thirty-eight languages.” (L: G; SA: FL)

Choose What Happens Next - a series of video where your choices sends you to a different video involving a young girl who sends a photo of herself through a text message. See where different choices can lead. (L:M, H; SA: A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Clean Up Time

clutterIn Take out the trash: get rid of the apps, to do's and activities that clutter your life. from Cool Cat Teacher Blog, Victoria A Davis, Cool Cat Teacher talks about decluttering our lives. She suggests,

“When installing a new app, challenge yourself to always delete one you haven't used lately. Cut the clutter and clear your mind. I always keep one empty spot on the homescreen of my iphone. It makes me feel like I have room for more and it is a signal to myself that I will have margin and leave room for new things in my life…Let's make a commitment today to remove the trash so we can enjoy the circus.”

I've had to do this with my knitting and spinning. Since I've learned to knit and spin yarn, I keep buying yarn and fiber. I decided this year that I was not going to buy any yarn until I used some yarn - one skein must be used for each new skein bought. I am doing the same with my fiber. I must spin one before I buy one. So far, I've stuck to it and actually enjoying what I already have. Some of these are things that I didn't remember having.

I noticed that I do the same thing in the classroom. I collect things and it is hard to get rid of them. After moving to a new classroom, I realized that I had some games with missing pieces or books with missing pages. I needed to get rid of those things. I had many folders full of worksheets that I would no longer use or was so outdated that they were irrelevant. I have no idea why I was saving these things. I had some old history workbooks that were out of date but I had saved them. It was amazing at how much stuff I saved for sentimental reasons. It was time to sort out the outdated, broken, no longer able to use stuff and make room for new things. If I brought something new into the classroom, I would get rid of something I already had. I didn’t have to throw everything away. Instead, I could offer some things to a newer teacher or a church school program.

Then I went on my computer and saw how many files I had that I no longer needed to save! It is amazing how much space they took up. It is not that I needed the space but it is so much easier to find things when there isn’t so much to sort through. Some files were not named properly and were so old that I have no idea why I was saving them. Life is so much easier when I don’t have to sort through so much!

I went through my email inbox and put items I want to save in separate folders. I plan on keeping my inbox down to no more than 10 action items in it. Anything else will be put into a folder.

I went on my Ipad and got rid of some apps that I no longer use. It also gave me more space to put podcasts that I want to listen too. I also organized apps into groups according to use so they would be easier to find. It makes it easier for me to find the things I want too. I decided that if I found a new app, I would try it for a week. If I didn’t use it more than 3 times that week, I would get rid of it.

How do you handle your “clutter” and what advice would you give to others? Please share.

Image: 'the other side of my garage'
Found on flickrcc.net

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Not-Just-Anybody Family - A Book Review

NotJustAnybodyFamilyI recently read the book The Not-Just-Anybody Family Christmas by Betsy Byars. This is the review that I gave the book (I am not being paid to give this review):

I thought this was a great book! It was fun to read and I believe children (elementary to middle school ages) would enjoy this. They can either read this book to themselves or an adult can read it aloud. There were great opportunities for discussions such as: Safety when playing, situations that scare you, stranger danger, family issues, fear, loneliness, siblings, pets, abandonment issues, the court system. Many children feel like they belong to a family that may be very different from their peers. These are just a few ideas but many students experience many of these situations and using a novel such as this makes it more impersonal and easier for students to share their feelings and thoughts. I would recommend this for a school library, classroom, or even in the home.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monthly Review of Goals from March

GoalsNow that March is done, I want to see how I’m doing with my goals to this point. All of my goals can be found here.

For the year:

1. I want to spin the alpaca fiber that I processed with some wool. ( I accomplished this!)

2. I want to knit a sweater. (I am in the process of making the Bayside Pullover and I love it!)

3. I want dye yarn. (not worked on yet)

4. I want to spruce up my gardens this year. (I was able to go outside and garden for 2 hours yesterday!)

5. I won’t commit to more to more than I can handle. (I have already said no to some opportunities that I would have liked to do but knew that it would spread me too thin. There is always another year to do this.)

6. I will find something good in each day. (Every day has been good so far!)

7. I will learn archery. (I bought a groupon coupon for archery lessons but haven’t redeemed it yet.)

8. I will nurture old friendships. (I have gone out to lunch with several friends.)

9. I will lose at least 20 lbs. this year. (I have lost 5 lbs. so far.)


1. I will eat healthy. (I am watching what I eat and I’m logging it into MyFitnessPal.com)

2. I will exercise. (I am trying to walk or run every day working towards 10,000 steps each day.)

3. I will stretch. (I am doing strength exercises each day.)

4. I will read my bible. (I have been using an online bible reading program to accomplish this.)

5. I will do something that I have been avoiding. (I have not done this every day but most of the time.)

6. I will contact a friend and let them know I am thinking of them. (I have not done this every day and need to work on this.)

7. I will be happy. (I feel happy every day that I wake up!)

Overall, I’m really happy with how I’m working on my goals. Reviewing these goals every month has helped keep them in my mind more often. I’m proud of how many things I’ve accomplished so far and will be very satisfied at the end of the year if I keep up this kind of progress.

Image: 'La Jolla Goal Wall'
Found on flickrcc.net

Monday, April 1, 2013

Careers on Wheels Day

016The other day my husband and I drove the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to an elementary school for their Careers on Wheels Day. There were 10 stations and we were one of them. Students came in groups to each station for 15 minutes and we talked to them about the Red Cross, our job, the training we had, and the pros and cons of the job. Unfortunately our weather took a turn for the cold (about 32F after being almost 80F a few weeks ago!) so it was pretty cold for the children. Even though they were cold, many of the children asked very good questions. They seemed to enjoy looking into the back of the ERV and asking what the different items were. I spent some time explaining to them how much reading, math, writing, and following directions were involved or we wouldn’t be able to help people. We talked about different disaster and things they should have with them in case of a disaster. The main point I made was that in case of a fire, their main goal was to get out of a burning building alive. They shouldn’t worry about taking anything with them! Many teacher appreciated that I was able to tie in classroom skills with what the Red Cross does. It was an enjoyable day and I think we gave children something to think about.

Does your school have a Career Day? Is so, how is it organized? Please share.