Friday, August 30, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/30/13

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

Healthy Heroes - free Ipad app; “Yogopolis is in trouble, and it needs your knowledge of nutritious foods to save it! Hungry monsters have come to destroy the city, and the only way to satisfy their appetites is by feeding them fruits and vegetables. Are you up for the food-chomping challenge?” (L:E; SA:S)

Food Play - free materials for teachers to teach nutrition (L: E, M; SA:S)

Quest for Credit - youtube video; “To illustrate the importance of staying out of debt while building and maintaining a good credit history, we give you's short epic, The Quest for Credit.” (L:H; SA:M, SS)

Capital Toss - “Capital Toss is an educational geography game for kids. The object of the game is to match states and countries to their capital cities. There are two modes of play: states and countries. If you get ten correct you get to select a new type of ball toss. If you get three incorrect in a row the game is over. HINT: Check out the map to see the location of the state or country.” (L:E; SA:SS)

Thought Boxes - organizational; make lists (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Photography Update

I realize that I haven’t shared much with you on my Photo a Day project this year. I will link to each month’s photos up to last month.








I think by taking photos each day and choosing the best one that fits the assignment, I’m really improving my photography skills. I’m really enjoying the challenge of completing the daily assignment whenever possible. If you haven’t tried this, I would suggest that you give it a whirl because it is well worth taking the time to do this if you want to improve your photography skills.

Original mosaic by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing Skills Are Important

writingLast week I attended a faculty meeting at the university where I teach. We spent the entire afternoon talking about the First Year Seminar and First Year Writing courses that freshman must take. Part of the discussion was whether students were really improving their writing skills and was the curriculum really effective. Another concern from one professor was that his course requirements were different than other courses and students felt that this was unfair. I think everyone agreed that their needed to be some consistent educational outcomes agreed upon.

A few discussions I had with others included concerns that students of today did not have good writing skills. Many felt they were not being taught these skills in high school and resented having to teach it on the university level. Others felt that we had no choice but to teach these skills. When I attended college (yes, many years ago), we were required to take a course in English composition but that no longer exists. Now it seems that writing is spread out across all of the disciplines.

To me, writing seems very basic. I think as soon a student learns to write, we need to encourage a lot of it and for them to do it often. The more they write the better they will be.

It seems like today’s student doesn’t write as much as I remember doing when I was growing up. In elementary school, we wrote stories using our spelling words. Even in junior high, I wrote papers in classes outside of English. By the time I reached high school, I had to write up homework papers daily.

I don’t think it is one set grade level or class’s responsibility to teach “writing” but it is every teacher’s job on every level to encourage this. I think an English class is a great place to learn basic tools such as citing references and grammar but the overall writing skills of writing sentences, paragraphs, correct spelling, and punctuation should be expected by all teachers.

I believe that by the time they reach college, college bound students should have a firm understanding of writing complete sentences, several paragraphs about a central topic, use subject - verb agreement, and know how to write an introduction and conclusion as well as use appropriate punctuation.

But what do we do about the students who reach the college level that don’t have these skills? Where do I begin? I’m thinking of making a writing checklist for them to use for proofreading their work before they submit it. What do you think? Please share your ideas?

Image: 'Be seeing you'
Found on

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Won A Book!

LearnMeGooderIn We have winners!! From Learn Me Good by Mister Teacher, I found out that I won a signed copy of Mister Teacher’s book, Learn Me Gooder! I’m so excited because I really like his books and I think his writing is humorous and fun.

If you are an educator, I recommend that you check out his blog and his books! You will enjoy both!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Movie Project Draft

filmI begin teaching my university course this week and I’m planning on an outside class assignment using movies about students with exceptionalities. The criteria for the movies I chose:

· May feature a student(s) with an exceptionality.
· May feature a culturally diverse situation or setting.

Here is what I have drafted so far:

Watch one of the approved movies listed below and submit a paper about the movie answering the following questions:

1. What exceptionality or culturally diverse situation stood out in this movie?
2. What have you learned from watching this movie?
3. What stood out for you in this movie?
4. Is there anything you disagreed with in this movie? What and why?
5. Would you recommend this movie to other classroom teachers? Why or why not?
6. How could watching this movie help you in the classroom (either for yourself or for your students)?

Approved movies (some may be available at the public library or on Netflix):

1. Little Man Tate (1991)
2. Temple Grandin (2010)
3. Dangerous Minds (1995)
4. Stand and Deliver (1998)
5. Blind Side (2009)
6. Radio (2003)
7. Lean on Me (1989)
8. The Mighty (1998)
9. Finding Nemo (2003)
10. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

If you have any suggestions of questions I could ask about the movie or a suggestion of any good movies to add to the list, I would love to see them.

Image: 'Sprocket loves some film...'
Found on

Friday, August 23, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/23/13

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

Cram - use flashcards already made or create your own to study (L:G; SA:A)

Climate - resources for teaching about climate and energy (L:G; SA:S)

Smart History - “a multimedia web book about art and art history” (L:H; SA:FA)

Plus Magazine - opens a door to the world of maths, with all its beauty and applications, by providing articles from the top mathematicians and science writers on topics as diverse as art, medicine, cosmology and sport.” (L:G; SA:M)

Nourish Interactive - “your free one stop resource for fun nutrition games for kids, interactive nutrition tools and tips for parents and health educators to use to promote healthy living for the whole family. “ (L:E, M; SA:LA, S)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

University Course Begins

classroomNext week I start teaching my university course called Education of Students with Exceptionalities at Furman University which lasts until December 17. I’m very excited and hope that my 22 undergraduate students are excited too! This is going to be a great opportunity for me to share my knowledge and experiences as a special education teacher over the past 30 years. I will be reviewing their readings from the textbook, have them applying some of their knowledge, and learning about tools that can be used as assistive technology. I hope to introduce them to the power of blogging and developing a personal learning network. I’m really looking forward to this experience so please keep me in your thoughts.

Image: 'final exam'
Found on

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

About Me Shelf

spinningIn Getting to Know Me Shelf from Thoughts By Jen, Jennifer talks about learning more about her students but realizes that the students don’t know a lot about her so she created a Me Shelf. Now she asks,

“So, do you have a ME SHELF — and if you do, please share what you have on it.”

I think this is a great idea. Sometimes we ask students to do things that we aren’t willing to do ourselves and they know it. It is hard for them to put energy into something and in a sense make themselves vulnerable when we aren’t sure we want to do the same.

If I had a Me Shelf, here is what I would have on it:

1. A picture of my husband and myself - to show that I’m married to the most wonderful guy in the world.

2. A book about hiking trails - to share my love of hiking.

3. Gardening gloves - to show that I enjoy gardening.

4. Yarn - to show that I love knitting.

5. Fiber - to show how much I love spinning my own yarn (and not many people know much about it)

6. Fiction books - to share my love of reading.

7. Photographs of nature - to share how much I enjoy photography

What would be on your ME Shelf? Please share.

Image: 'The Art of Hand Spinning'
Found on

Monday, August 19, 2013

Complacency is Dangerous

ComplacencyLast week there was a fire at an apartment complex where 40 families lost their homes. When the fire chief spoke on the news, he talked about how many people had become complacent because the fire alarms went off frequently due to smoke from cooking etc. When the fire department arrived, they actually found 2 families who had ignored the alarms because they happened so frequently.

This reminded me how important fire alarms and drills are. I need to take each one seriously because you never know if it is real or not. Luckily no one was killed in this apartment fire but sometimes in fires, people are because they didn’t take it seriously. I need to remind my students this same thing.

I was so proud of the teachers and students at our summer program when the fire alarm went off and they quickly evacuated the building. When I called the main office, they were just testing the alarm but we took it seriously which was good.

Too many times I am complacent about things that could possibly be important, dangerous, and/or life changing. I need to constantly be alert for these times.

When a student severely acts out, is withdrawn for a length of time, threatens bodily hard to themselves or others, I need to pay attention. I don’t need to see this as someone crying wolf but rather a possible dangerous situation.

When alarms go off in the school or we practice “drills,” I need to assume it is for real and not a monthly drill. After what happened to the children in Oklahoma who were killed during a tornado, this could be a life or death situation.

I need to watch for things that I take for granted or expect that time will help. Sometimes time can help but other times, time is too short. I need to take action. I need to stop standing on the side lines and move forward. There is too much complacency in our society and we need to wake everyone up about the possibilities of not taking things serious.

What do you see in your life that you need to take more seriously? What do you feel that you are too complacent about? How can you change this attitude?

Image: 'Sleeping on the Job?'
Found on

Friday, August 16, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/16/13

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

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

Smart Kit - “school safe puzzle games” (L:G; SA:A)

Historical Thinking Matters - “Historical Thinking Matters provides high school students with a framework that teaches them to read documents like historians. Using these "habits of mind," they will be able to interrogate historical sources and use them to form reasoned conclusions about the past. Equally important, they will become critical users of the vast historical archives on the web. Historical Thinking Matters equips students to navigate the uncharted waters of the World Wide Web.” (L:H; SA:SS)

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

Crossword Puzzle Tool - easy way to create crossword puzzles (L:G; SA:A)

Google’s Computational Thinking - “Google is committed to promoting computational thinking throughout the K-12 curriculum to support student learning and expose everyone to this 21st century skill” (L:T; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Do I Like My Students?

respectIn A teacher's heart speaks on the first day of school from Cool Cat Teacher Blog by , Victoria A Davis shares,

“Do students think you "like" them? This seems odd but students really want to know if you like them. Are you going to be fair? Are you going to give them a chance? They love you if you express an interest in something they love”

I know that many times we think that our students don’t have to like us; they just need to learn from us. As mentioned in a previous post, students will learn in spite of us. Of course, the learning is easier if they like us.

I have learned that I don’t have to be the prettiest or the youngest teacher students know. I don’t have to be cool for them to like me. I believe the most important thing for students is that I really care. They see that I care about being a teacher and have a passion for what I teach. They see that I really care about them as students and that I truly want them to learn. They see that I care about them as a person and not just some statistic on a piece of paper. They see that I care about the quality of what I teach and I’m not just there for the pay check.

I don’t have to be their friend because they have enough friends. I believe that students are looking for leadership in a teacher. They want someone who will lead them to an exciting learning adventure. They don’t want someone who is not in control because they have enough uncertainty in their lives. They want someone who is a steady force of nature in their lives. As a leader, I need to show them that I can control my own emotions, be a good role model, and be knowledgeable in what I say and do. I don’t have to know everything but I must know how to help them find the information they need.

Students need to know that I can be fair. Nothing is worse than feeling that a teacher has favorites or that rules only apply to some of the students. I’d like to think that no teacher is this way but unfortunately I have been in classes where I’ve seen this myself. I know what it is like to feel that the teacher doesn’t like me or that I’m not one of the favorites. That is the class that I didn’t like the most and the class where I don’t think I learned as much as I could have or needed to.

I’m not even sure that “like” is the right word. Of course there are times that the students won’t like me. There will be assignments they don’t want to do. There will be grades that they earn that they won’t like. There will be times when everyone is in a bad mood and no likes anyone at that time. There will be times that my students will be angry with me and I will be angry with them and “like” isn’t in our vocabulary at that time.

Maybe “respect” is the better word. Of course respect is more from the teacher’s point of view. Students will always hope that the teacher “likes” them! As a teacher, I need to respect every student. I need to respect their individual interests and abilities. I need to respect each student by treating everyone fairly. I need to respect every student by not having “favorites” and treating some students differently than others.

So if my students see my respect as my way of “liking” them, then that is what I need to do. I want to make their learning easier and enjoyable.

How do you show your students you like them? Is this important or not? Please share.

Image: 'humanity. love. respect.'
Found on

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teaching is like Getting a New Camper

camperA couple of months ago, we bought a new camper. It is something my husband has wanted for the past few years because he was getting tired of our tent camping. We ended up with a 16 foot Casita Freedom Deluxe trailer that we pull with our Tahoe. After camping the past few months in our trailer, I saw a lot of similarities to teaching. Here are some things that I’ve learned.

1. When trying something new, it takes a few months before I can really decide if I like it or not. I wasn’t sure if I would like camping in a camper but it is a wonderful thing when it rains a lot (which it has done this summer!). At school, whenever the administration introduces something new, my first reaction is to hate it but I should give it time before I make a decision.

2. With all things, there will be some good things about it and some bad things. There are some things I like about the camper and others that I don’t. I feel like it is keeping up a second house! The same thing for the classroom. I love the teaching aspect but I hate all the paperwork.

3. Certain things are good for certain situations, and not for some others. I think we will enjoy the camper more in the mountains than when we are at the beach, especially since hotel rooms can be found for the same price as a camp site. Certain types of lessons work for different size groups, different types of students, and different age levels.

4. When you fix one thing, sometimes other things which are weak may break down after the first repair. We fixed the brake pads on the car but apparently the hoses were weak and old which caused them to break after the new pads were put on. In teaching, I need to watch for the weak spots and be ready to give help when needed.

5. I’m never truly finished with learning new things. It seems like I learn something new every day with this camper. Other experienced campers are always willing to share their knowledge to make my experience easier and better. The same goes for teaching. There are many more experienced teachers out there who want to help make my teaching experience easier and better.

6. Extreme heat can make things smell worse. I didn't realize that you had to add deodorizer to the camper toilet or it smells really really bad. The same thing in the classroom. In extreme stressful situations (first days, before holidays or exams), you need to freshen up the class to help them from acting out. This might involve extra praise, more understanding, more patience, and a calm demeanor.

7. I have to be flexible. Sometimes the things we plan don’t always work out. When we arrived in Florida, it rained for 2 days and the forecast called for a week of rain due to a tropical storm arriving. We decided to pack up and head for home. There is nothing wrong with changing plans when something isn’t working instead of plodding through and making everyone miserable.

8. Having a positive attitude can go a long way to making the trip pleasant. We went on one trip where nothing seemed to go right. This made us cranky and argumentative with each other. We couldn’t wait to get home. The next time we went, I was determined to have a better attitude. Some things still happened but I didn’t let it ruin my attitude. We were able to deal with the problems and move on in order to enjoy our trip. This is also important in the classroom. Having a good attitude can affect my lesson I teach, the reactions of my students, and how the whole day can go.

Do you go have a camper? What lessons have you learned? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Learning Is A Journey

learningIn I don’t need Google Underpants from Blogush , Paul Bogush states,

“…learning becomes complicated when you try to make kids learn something that they feel is unnecessary.  When kids do not see the need for something, then teachers have to resort to teaching it.  If they see the need for it, they will learn it without you, or in spite of you.”

I think Paul stated this perfectly! Too many times I think I make learning harder than it is. as a teacher, I think I can control learning but that is impossible. Learning will happen whether I am teaching or not.

I have always talked about how important it is to make learning relevant to the student but when you mix common core standards, it tends to make this a little more difficult. But somehow I still think that I can use standards or core curriculum along with what learners find relevant. Of course it might involve a little more planning or a little more work, but that is what makes teaching interesting and fun.

When I look at common core standards, I see a lot of the same things that I have used as standards over the years but only worded differently. I don’t see that it is that much different than what we have expected students in the past. Using common core standards are a great road map to help plan the “journey” of learning. It is when I over think these standards is when I get lost in the red tape rather than the learning.

Students are going to learn these skills whether I teach it to them or not. If they don’t learn it in one grade, they will learn the skill in another when they find a need for it. There are times that I wish I had paid attention more when I was in school about learning a skill or concept because I find myself needing this information. When I look for the info, I find some recollection of the topic and find the learning easier a second time. Hopefully, my students will find this also later in life when they need some knowledge.

I think the need for certain knowledge makes the learning easier. This need makes the learning relevant where in the past; it might not have been true. Learning is a journey that takes a life time.

Do you think learning happens in spite of teaching or only through teaching? Please share!

Image: 'Little Pencil free creative commons'
Found on

Monday, August 12, 2013

Change is Hard

fearIn Dealing with Change from Tinkerings, Tim shares,

“For many, the changes have taken the fun out of being an educator.  Some are leaving the profession.  Others are sticking it out to retirement.  They are sitting around teacher lounges talking about happier times.  Some are squaring their shoulders back to take on the large stone of change and keep it from rolling down the hill and destroying everything in its path…We’re all dealing with change.  It’s just a matter of how.”

It is not always the change that really matters to me but the fear of the unknown. I don’t know if I will like the change or how it will affect me. Like a turtle, it is much easier to stick my head back in the shell and not acknowledge that change is going on around me.

I think experienced educators have seen so many changes over the years that haven’t been good. This makes it hard to appreciate that some of the changes that could happen might be a good thing. It makes some educators cynical and leery about trying something new. The bad changes somehow stick out in my mind much stronger than the good changes do.

New teachers worry about the changes because they are so busy trying to get adjusted to newness of their career that just when they are getting comfortable, someone comes along and changes it up.

There is such negativity when someone mentions change. We usually associate change with the attitude that someone thing is wrong. People tend to roll their eyes or complain when they hear that something is going to change. When new teachers hear experienced teachers sound fearful, this feeling can become infectious and spread rapidly. New teachers are already feeling their way around and think that experienced teachers must know something they don’t know.

Instead of looking at change in a negative way, why not think about it in a positive way? Why not think of change as something can be even better?

I had a great principal that helped me put change into perspective. He always felt that trying something new was good and if it didn’t work, we would just go back to the way it was. According to him, we should never be afraid to try something new because it is a great opportunity to become better. He was a great motivator in my life and helped me accomplish so much more because of this attitude. So, whenever change happens in my life, I try to remind myself that I could be having a wonderful chance to become better.

How do you handle change? Please share.

Image: 'F.E.A.R'
Found on

Friday, August 9, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/9/13

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

K-5 Geosource - “the one-stop professional development web site for Earth science!” (L:E; SA:S)

Math Chimp - math activities aligned with common core (L:E; SA:M)

The Dino Directory - “Select a country to view dinosaurs that were found there” (L:G; SA:S)

Jefferson Labs - educational games and puzzles (L:G; SA:S)

Chem Collective - “The ChemCollective is a collection of virtual labs, scenario-based learning activities, tutorials, and concept tests. Teachers can use our content for pre-labs, for alternatives to textbook homework, and for in-class activities for individuals or teams. Students can review and learn chemistry concepts using our virtual labs, simulations, and tutorials.” (L:H; SA:S)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Music and Writing

musicWhile at Hollywood Studios this week, we saw a movie about Walt Disney and his successes. There were clips of Fantasia where Disney mixed classical music with cartoons and it brought back some wonderful memories of my childhood.

I had a wonderful teacher who liked to stimulate our minds with classical music. All year long she would play music and had us use our imaginations while listening to it. We were encouraged to write a story using the music to make us think about what is happening at the time. I think that is when I began my love of writing. At an early age, I think my imagination was pretty wild. As I listened to music I could see the action happening in my mind. I couldn’t wait to get the action down on paper.

Of course my teacher encouraged me by giving me lots of praise which made me feel fantastic.

She could have told me about a play that used this music but she didn’t. She could have told me what the composer was thinking when he wrote the piece but she didn’t. She could have shared her ideas on what was going on when she heard the music but she didn’t. She told us that anything was possible and to write down what we thought was happening and that anything was possible.

What a world she opened up for me! Her openness meant that anything I wrote was going to be right. There was no wrong answer. I could make anything happen the way that I wanted it to. When I heard the music, I could write a romance story or a mystery story. As the music sped up or got louder, I knew the action in my story would get stronger and more exciting. Oh, the stories flowed from my hand! I couldn’t wait to write when given the chance.

Of course this opened the world of writing to me. But it also opened up the world for me. It made me realize that I could write my life however I wanted to and that my actions were up to me. If I didn’t like the way my life was going, it was up to me to change my actions. I was in control of what I wrote and what I did. I’m not sure my teacher meant to teach me this life lesson or maybe she did but it made a lasting impression on me.

Have you used music to encourage writing? If so, how? Please share.

Image: 'Bari_09'
Found on

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Making Time to Blog

timeIn Three Responses to "But I Don't Have Time to Blog" from Free Technology for Teachers by, Mr. Byrne shares,

“Earlier this month at the Authentic Learning Workshop I was asked, "what do you say to teachers who say I don't have time for a blog?" I offered a few responses …”

Here is how I would respond:

First of all, everyone makes time to do the things they want to do. If you value what you are doing and you feel it makes a difference, you will find time to do it. It is when you feel that it is a waste of time and you don’t think it is of value that you start finding excuses not to do it.

I also think that you need to give something an honest try to decide how you feel about something. I know someone who gives it the “three-try” rule where she tries it three times before she makes a decision about something. She doesn’t buy expensive equipment without seeing if she can borrow it and try it for three times before she makes a decision about it. I think that is a good idea with blogging but rather than just three times, make it a time limit such as three weeks or three months before deciding if it works for you.

I also think deciding on how often you blog will help. Just like exercising, sometimes by having a plan helps keep you on track. My husband plans to exercise at least three times a week and he says that anything more is icing on the cake. By deciding how often you want to blog and sticking with that schedule, you will find that it is not so overwhelming. But make sure you include some days where you don’t blog or you will get burned out.

Think about your purpose and your audience. Knowing this will help your writing. Sometimes when I hit a mindblock, I avoid writing and then think I don’t have time to write. But knowing that I want to stick to my schedule, I will force myself to sit down and write. Sometimes it just takes getting started to get the ideas flowing.

I like to think of blogging as a way to share my ideas. When other people comment on my post, it opens up a conversation. I remind myself that if I didn’t take the time to blog, I could be missing out on some valuable opportunities for a rich conversation.

So, how would you respond to people who say they don’t have time to blog? Please share.

Image: 'grandfather watch'
Found on

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Professional Book Sharing

booksIn Interesting Library Book Club Idea from Cathy Nelson's Professional Thoughts by Cathy Jo Nelson, Cathy talks about using this idea for professional development. She shared,

“Professional Development meeting with teachers interested in YA literature (or any literature for that matter)”

This had me thinking about even going further and not just teachers interested in YA literature. Why not have teachers bring in some books about teaching or their subject area? Many times I have heard teachers talk about how the meetings they attend aren’t meaningful. I know that when I contribute and listen to others contribute, I sometimes come away with more than when I just sit and listen to someone talk. When there is an exchange of information or ideas, I feel I haven’t wasted my time.

I could see departments meeting and sharing books that pertain to their subject areas. It could be professional magazines or books. It might be books that could enhance lessons. Why not go even further and discuss available videos that could be used in the classroom. How about other resources? If at every meeting, someone had to bring something to the table, these meetings might be more enjoyable and relevant.

I think this would also be a great idea for a professional organization meeting. I’m going to suggest this for my next local Council for Exceptional Children’s meeting. I would like people to attend and bring one resource (book, video, magazine etc.) to share.

Do you do something like this at your school? If so, please share how you do this.

Image: 'Tome Reader'
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Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Learning Place Week 4

Last week was the last week of our summer program. I finished up final observations and the teachers completed their final reports. The final reports were more detailed than the weekly reports and included recommendations for parents and teachers of each individual child. On the last day we had a closing ceremony where each class gave a short performance for parents and visitors. I was so proud of everyone for doing a great job. I didn’t video the final performance but I did record the dress rehearsal. I also asked parents to fill out a survey about the program so we can work on making it better each year. I was thrilled with all the wonderful comments that were made. You can watch our dress rehearsal below. Hope you enjoy it!

Original movie by Pat Hensley

Friday, August 2, 2013

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/2/13

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

Phrase.It - “Create your own comic strips online with, the free and easy to use speech bubble photo editor. Put speech bubbles on your photos and create your own comic strips within minutes! Great looking results guaranteed, no sign-up needed, 100% free. is probably the best speech bubble photo editor you will find on the web.” (L:G; SA:A)

Connect Safely - “ConnectSafely is for parents, teens, educators, advocates, policy makers – everyone engaged in and interested in the impacts of the social Web. The user-driven, all-media, multi-platform, fixed and mobile social Web is a big part of young people’s lives, and this is the central space – linked to from social networks across the Web – for perspective on safe, civil use of  Web and mobile technology” (L:M,H; SA:A)

Mindmup - mindmapping; it was not intuitive and took some exploring to figure out how it worked. (L:G; SA:A)

Snap - “(formerly BYOB) is a visual, drag-and-drop programming language. It is an extended reimplementation of Scratch (a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab) that allows you to Build Your Own Blocks. It also features first class lists, first class procedures, and continuations. These added capabilities make it suitable for a serious introduction to computer science for high school or college students.” (L:H; SA:A)

Digital Explorer - “inspirational lessons and resources from the world to your classroom.” (L:G; SA:S)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Monthly Review of Goals from July

GoalsJuly has been a busy month for me. I teach a course for Furman University every July and it helps make the month fly by. It is time to review my goals and see how I did last month. 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 accomplished this by making 2 so far and want to make the Gnarled Oak Cardigan next.)

3. I want to dye yarn. (Still haven’t done this yet but now I have all the necessary materials and equipment.)

4. I want to spruce up my gardens this year. (We have gotten so much rain that it has been hard to keep ahead of the weeds. But I’m trying. )

5. I won’t commit to more to more than I can handle. (I was able to say no to another request for my time! I can’t say I wasn’t tempted but I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to do it.)

6. I will find something good in each day. (Being around children every day is enough to bring joy every day.)

7. I will learn archery. (We tried to use our groupon coupon only to find that the company has closed! I am watching for another one at another local archery range.)

8. I will nurture old friendships. (I have been meeting several friends for lunch. )

9. I will lose at least 20 lbs. this year. (I have lost 17 pounds since January!)


1. I will eat healthy. (I have really worked hard on that this month and I can see a difference in my weight, how my clothes fit, and how I feel!)

2. I will exercise. (I have been walking on the treadmill and walking in the park regularly.)

3. I will stretch. (I stretch and do strength exercises for 20 minutes each day.)

4. I will read my bible. (I’ve been trying but I need to do better.)

5. I will do something that I have been avoiding. (I think I do this when I do daily chores around the house. I would much rather spin or knit than clean house!)

6. I will contact a friend and let them know I am thinking of them. (I have met several friends for lunch and enjoyed catching up on life.)

7. I will be happy. (I was very happy teaching this month!)

I think I’ve done really well with my goals this month and I’m proud of myself. I hope I can continue working on them throughout the year.

Have you reviewed your goals or resolutions you made at the beginning of the year? How are you doing? If you haven’t achieved something yet, don’t give up. Just begin now.

Image: 'La Jolla Goal Wall'
Found on