Monday, June 30, 2014

Hands on Math Projects - Book Review

HandsOnMathI recently was asked by Flowerpot Press to review the book Hands-On Math Projects by The Flowerpot Children’s Press, Inc. editorial team. I am not being paid to give this review but here it is. This book retails for $12.99 and has 160 pages.

The book is an amazing book full of hands on math activities that are geared for children 6-8 years old but some of them were even enticing me! The pictures in the book are also helpful with the different steps that are given. There is a mixture of real photos along with illustrations. I really liked how the instructions were given in simple steps that were easy to understand. There are also helpful hints along with ways to explore the concept in different ways. Concepts include exploring numbers, fractions, patterns, number facts, shapes, and plotting points.

I could see this as a valuable resource for an elementary school teacher. By using this books as a basic start, the teacher can adjust the lesson to meet the needs of the students. This makes it great for a general education teacher or a special education teacher.

I could also see this on the classroom library shelf to be used by students who complete their work ahead others. By choosing a project out of this book not only are they improving their math skills but also their reading skills.

I also think this would be great for older children to use when working with younger children. Both students would benefit from completing projects in this book. It would improve reading, math, and social skills.

So, if you haven’t check out this book, I would recommend looking at it!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/27/14

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

Best Commencement Speeches – NPR picked over 300 great commencement speeches (L:H; SA:A)

Grammar Bytes – interactive grammar exercises (L:M,H; SA:LA)

Essay Map – great way to organize an informational essay. (L:G; SA:LA)

Measuring Worth - There two missions of this site. The first is to make available to the public the highest quality and most reliable historical data on important economic aggregates, with particular emphasis on "nominal (current-price) measures, as well as real (constant-price) measures. The second is to provide carefully designed calculators (using these data) that explain the many issues involved in making value comparison over time. (L:H; SA:M,SS)

Sugar: Hiding in Plain Sight – “While sugar is easy to spot in candy, soft drinks and ice cream, it also hides out in foods you might not expect -- including peanut butter, pasta sauce and even bologna! Robert Lustig decodes confusing labels and sugar's many aliases to help determine just how much of that sweet carbohydrate makes its way into our diets.” (L:G; SA:S)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happily Married for 32 Years

DSC_001332 years ago I was married to the love of my life at the Furman University Bell Tower. We work hard on our marriage every day and don’t take each other for granted. Most importantly we talk to each other about everything and we don't keep secrets from each other. Our marriage is built on trust, love, and hard work. We make sure that we are each other’s best friend and the most important person in our lives. I’m not saying that we don’t argue, disagree, or sometimes hurt each other’s feelings but it is after when we make up and learn from our mistakes so we try not to do it again next time that make us stronger. We try to build each other up, encourage each other, and support each other. We don’t tear each other down in front of others whether jokingly or not.

Who is the most important person in your life? How do you build on this relationship to make it stronger? Please share.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tree Cutting

DSC_0012The other day the city sent a company out to cut the trees along the street in front of our house. I’m always fascinated by other people’s professions that I can’t imagine myself doing. So, I brought out my lawn chair and throughout the day I took photos of what they were doing.

I was totally amazed how they could cut down tall trees and never had to ask my neighbor across the street to move all of his vehicles. I thought for sure that they would have to close the road and move everything out of the way. Instead they only closed one lane and never closed the road.

This one man went up and down in a bucket truck and I was impressed with how much he could do high up in the air with a chain saw. He wasn’t a young man either and the chain saw had a 3 foot blade on it so he had to use a lot of arm muscles.

After most of the smaller branches were cut off, they tied off the big limbs and when they were cut, they swung back into my yard away from any vehicles or the road. By watching them, I realized it was important how the rope tied off the limb and it was all about angles.

This would be such a great math lesson to use in a classroom. Too many times I hear students wonder when they would use certain math skills. This would be a great real life application of angles and their effect.

I love looking around in my day to day situations to see how reading, math and writing are used. Being able to show relevance and real life applications can help students stay engaged in some tough lessons.

What situations around you lend themselves to a real life application of a lesson? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

With Fresh Eyes

hikingA few months ago in The Power of Newness from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

“What new things/people/pets have caused you to look at things with new eyes?”

A couple of times a year my husband and I volunteer in the state park as Master Naturalists. We take second graders on a nature hike. I’m supposed to stop along the way and talk about the life cycles of trees, frogs, birds, butterflies, and plants to cover state science standards.

Many times I ask how many students have been to the state park and very few hands are raised. Some of them have never been on a nature hike before and some have never been in a forest. It amazes me how disconnected our students are from nature.

Our hike lasts about 90 minutes and along the way we may see a lot of different wildlife. Each hike is different. Sometimes we see tadpoles, salamanders, ducks, turtles, snakes, kingfishers and other birds, and butterflies. We also find many different wildflowers.

The best thing about leading these hikes are seeing all of these things through these children’s eyes. I never get bored from seeing these things every year because it is magical when I see it from the children’s point of view. Everything is fresh and new. Every time they look in wonder at all of these things, their amazement is thrilling to watch.

It is at this time that I talk about taking care of the things in nature and taking care of the world around them. It is this time that I feel I can have the best impact on them and hopefully give them a lasting memory. I hope that as they grow older, this will stay in their minds and help them be mindful stewards of the earth.

What has caused you to look at things with fresh eyes? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Do Camels - Book Review

camelsI recently was asked by Flowerpot Press to review the book Why Do Camels by Jennifer Shand and illustrated by T. G. Tjornehoj. I am not being paid to give this review but here it is.

This is a great book for young children to have read to them or for beginning readers to start reading. It can also be used by elementary teachers to introduce subjects for learning and discussion. The illustrations are wonderful too. I would definitely recommend using this book in a classroom, a school library, or even in child’s home.

Here are some teaching suggestions that could be used in the classroom or at home with this book.

Vocabulary lessons:

· Learn animal names such as kangaroo, camel, elephant, giraffe, and meerkat.

· Learn words with more than one syllable such as hopscotch, eyelash, earrings, lollipop, treasure and underground.

Science lessons:

· Learn about the habitats that each of the animals live in.

· Learn about how different animals survive in their environments.

· Learn about what kinds of food the animals eat.


· Look at the different types of sentences.

· Identify sentences that have question marks.

· Give students some of the passages without any punctuation marks. Have them add the correct ones.

Social Studies:

· Locate the countries where these animals live on a map.

· Study the countries where these animals live.

· Study the climate of the country.

· Identify other animals that live in the country.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/20/14

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

Exam Time – “Students and teachers all around the world are creating Mind Maps, Flashcards, Notes and Quizzes using ExamTime. The intuitive and easy to use tools in ExamTime allow users to create, discover and share study resources that can engage, inspire and endure. Plus, ExamTime is allowing teachers the freedom to easily form learning groups to share resources and conduct discussions.” (L:G; SA:A)

ContextU – learn about the Civil War. First you choose a topic from the Table of Contents and go on from there. (L:H; SA:SS)

SFS Kids- “fun and games with music!”; to learn about classical and orchestral music (L:E,M; SA:FA)

Science Friday“is your trusted source for news and entertaining stories about science. We started as a radio show, created in 1991 by host and executive producer Ira Flatow. Since then, we’ve grown into much more: We produce award-winning digital videos and publish original web content covering everything from octopus camouflage to cooking on Mars. SciFri is brain fun, for curious people.” (L:G; SA:S)

Math in Real Life – TED-ed videos that show videos where math is used in real life. (L:M,H; SA:M)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Being Crazy With Landscaping

plantingIn Being a Mom from Sioux's Page, Sioux asked,

Is there something you've done/considered in the past that made your friends or family look at you like you're crazy?

I love blogging prompts from this blog!! (Did I tell you I was one of her biggest fans!) And I love relating her prompts to my classroom.

There are many things I’ve done that just had my family shaking their heads. For instance, the time I wanted to teach my student how to frame pictures or when we studied vermiculture (worm farming) first hand for a whole year. There are many examples but I’m going to mention only one of them in this post.

My students were in a self-contained special education program and in the past had attended the vocational center to learn skills for employment. Over time, the center became a “career and technology” center geared for students who were going to college and not my students who didn’t even receive a regular high school diploma. They were no longer invited to learn skills like brick masonry, auto collision, auto mechanics, carpentry and wood working, and horticulture.

I was so disappointed for my students that I wrote a grant for my students to learn and apply horticulture skills at the main school site. Keep in mind that I knew very little about horticulture or landscaping but was willing to learn alongside my students. I worked with another special education teacher who had the training in horticulture and we combined our classes for activities.

In order to get the grant, we had to have a plan of action. We decided we would landscape the front of the school which included planting trees and bushes. After getting approval from the administration, we priced equipment, supplies, and materials we would need. Students learned how to price different companies and create a work budget and a work timeline.

When we won the grant, the real work began. I assigned a foreman (who loved working outdoors and had some experience with his dad at home with working in the yard). Different people had different assignments and willingly got into the project.

The fun began when we had to dig 30 holes, three feet deep and three feet in diameter. I joined right in so I could be an example for my students and realized why I became a teacher instead of a landscaper! I came home each night with blisters on my hands because we dug all those holes by hand! Then when the trees were delivered by a crane and put in each hole, many of the general ed students were curious as to what we were doing. Many asked my students how they could get into my classes (which made my student’s self-esteem shoot right out of the sky!) We also planted azaleas and juniper bushes near the building.

Before winter, we brought in mulch and mulched everything we planted! I can’t tell you how many days I came home filthy and exhausted but I felt so thrilled. My students learned new things every day. They learned about following directions, helping others, budgets, planting, landscaping, and working with others.

Many of my students said it was the best year of their lives! They were the stars of the school for the first time. Others were wishing they could be in their classes instead of the other way around.

It was a success from all viewpoints! I still hear from students decades later about how great that whole project was. Those trees are still there and I’m so proud of my students.

But during that year, my family and friends just saw me or heard about the project and just shook their heads. When I want to try a new project, I tend to jump in with both feet. Sometimes it is a success and sometimes it is just a life experience to learn from. Either way, I don’t regret a minute of it!

Have you done something crazy? Please share!

Image: 'birth tree: planting a snow bell'
Found on

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Remember Me

memoriesIn 15 More Days from Lisa's Lingo, Lisa Parisi talks about how her students will remember her. Then she asks,

“What will you be remembered for?”

Here is how I want my students to remember me:

  • She made a difference in my life.
  • She encouraged me to be the best that I can be.
  • She encouraged me to look for the best in all people.
  • She never let me give up.
  • She never gave up on me.
  • She kept an open mind.
  • She listened to me when I needed to talk.
  • She believed in me.
  • She cared.
  • She liked to learn new things and share them with us.
  • She admitted to not knowing everything but was willing to help us find the answers.
  • She made learning fun.

How do you want to be remembered? Please share.

Image: 'Reading Aloud to Children'
Found on

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chautauqua Comes to Town

TrumanThis past weekend we went to the Chautauqua Festival which is an annual event. Chautauqua brings history to life through interactive theater and it is free! The character comes out and talks about what is going on in his life or anything related to his life. Then the audience is allowed to ask questions of that character. Last the audience is allowed to ask the actor about that character since the actor has done extensive research about that character.

This year’s featured characters were Harry Truman, Robert Smalls, Clara Barton, and Patrick Henry.

Harry Truman arrived by car and his secret service men were with him. He talked about how he took office after FDR died and the atom bomb. He talked about his time in office and about his wife Bess. It was great to hear him answer questions from the audience.

We also went to hear Clara Barton speak. Her dress was absolutely beautiful but I was so hot there under the tent that it was hard for me to enjoy it. She also didn’t seem as well prepared as the first character we saw.

I think this is a great opportunity for students to learn about history. It is fun and makes history seem more real. The best part is that it is free! I also learned that there are only 10 Chautauqua groups throughout the US so if you have one near you, I would recommend that you check it out!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unwanted Advice

Good Advice for Hard TimesIn Request + Unwanted = Embraced from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,
How do you deal with unwanted/unasked for advice?

It is hard for me to accept unwanted/unasked for advice because I tend to see it as criticism rather than helpful. That is not saying that the person offering it is criticizing but that is just how I perceive it. I think it comes from being the youngest of 3 girls and everyone told me what to do when I was growing up. I often felt like I wasn’t allowed to spread my own wings and do things on my own. Everyone knew better than me and expected me to do what I was told.

I try to listen and keep an open mind because I have to remind myself that they might actually tell me something useful. I have to swallow my resentment and shut off the inner voices. I try to remind myself that some people have learned from experience and are trying to save me the trouble of making the same mistakes they did.

I try to remember that I do not have to do what is suggested. I might have a different personality or different values than the person giving advice. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to listen to what is being said.

Knowing how I feel and react by unwanted advice, I need to remember this when helping other people (you can replace the word people with words like students or family members too).

Rather than actually telling other people what they should do, I try to turn it around and mention what I have done in the same situation. Or I try to discuss what I would do if it was me.

I try to remember how I feel about unwanted advice and make an effort to keep my tone and my words from sounding like criticism. We have a saying in our family that is “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.”

I also make sure that others know this is just my opinion and I do not expect anyone to do what I would do because we are different people.

How do you handle advice you don’t ask for or even want? Please share.

Image: 'Good Advice for Hard Times'
Found on

Friday, June 13, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/13/14

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

Vox's Spell It Out Challenge – test you spelling skills and see if you could win the spelling bee (L:G; SA:LA)

Canva – “Canva gives you everything you need to easily turn ideas into stunning designs. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more. (L:G; SA:A)

Critter Cams – “The Wildlife Center currently has Critter Cam cameras in fourteen different locations and is able to provide three live feeds. A moderated discussion is shared for all three channels.” (L:G; SA:A)

C-SPAN Classroom – “free primary sources for social studies teachers” (L:G; SA:SS)

Museum of Obsolete Objects – “Sadly, as our daily lives become more and more digital some things fall by the way side as they are replaced by newer, «better» devices.Let us not forget those fallen appliances, tools and gadgets and relive those bygone times by taking a visit to The Museum of Obsolete Objects. Step inside to step back in time!” (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teaching a Superhero

I was notified about this neat infographic that I thought you would enjoy! It is called How To Teach a SuperHero.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carnival Freedom

DSC_0003 Last week we went on a fabulous cruise! I thought the service on the cruise was outstanding. Every time we saw crew and staff, they greeted us and smiled. If I needed something, I was quickly helped. I really enjoyed this cruise. Here is a run down on each day.

If you want to see the pictures, click HERE.

6/1/14 Day 1 Embarkation
We arrived at 10:30am which was the perfect time to get there. Traffic wasn’t heavy and we unloaded our luggage. The porter was unhappy with the tip we left and he let us know it too. We hugged my parents goodbye and headed to the entrance of the terminal. Then we heard Marge calling us to let us know that Don still had the car keys! Once we got in the door, we went straight through security and checked in. We did have to wait in the VIP Lounge for about 20 minutes but we enjoyed meeting new people.

Once on the ship, we went straight to our cabin and dropped our carry on stuff there. Next we headed to the Fish and Chips bar so we could have some bouillabaisse which my husband loves. Then after stopping for a soft serve ice cream cone, we continued to explore. About 2pm, we bought a bucket of beer at the Endless Bar in the aft of the ship. It was nice and quiet back there we enjoyed ourselves before we had to leave for the muster drill. After that, we sat out on the Lido deck and watched us to pull out of port and I’m glad we were under cover because a huge rain shower hit and everyone scattered like bugs! After we pulled out we went to hunt for our luggage since we still hadn’t gotten it. I stopped by the front desk and got a deck of cards and asked about our luggage. He said there was a room of untagged luggage nearby and when I went to look, there were our suitcases. We took them to our rooms and unpacked. By then it was time to prepare for dinner.

Our dinner table is a large round table for 11 people. Our dinner mates are Bob and Renee from FL, Cindy and Bob (my cruise critic friends) from FL, and Veronica and Eddie and their son Tommy (who has Aspergers) from FL. I think I will really enjoy have dinner with these new friends! I had the beef and barley soup and then the flat iron steak for dinner. Don had the shrimp cocktail and tilapia for dinner. For dessert I had the Black Forest Gateau (one of my favorites) and Don had the Crème Brule.

6/2/14 Day 2 At Sea
We had a lovely day at sea on Monday. I got up at 5am and played on my computer until it was time to wake up my husband. Then I had a veggie omelet while I waited for him to meet me on the Lido deck. Then about 90 minutes later we went to the dining room where I had steak and eggs for my real breakfast! At noon we went to a cooking demo which was fun and we were given samples of all the dishes made. We had mushroom cappuccino, spinach salad, chicken and macaroni and cheese, and then tiramisu. At 3pm we went to a tea where we had tea and scones. One of the table mates shared her recipe for Maryland crab cakes. At 4pm we met up with some of my cruise critic (online forum) friends. Then we sat on the deck and visited with another couple we met when we were getting on the ship. By then it was time to get ready for dinner where we had prime rib and lobster tails. After dinner we went to the show which we enjoyed. It was piano tunes from the great musicians like Billy Joel, Elton John etc. One point the show was stopped because of technical difficulties but about 10 minutes later it started back. After the show we went to comedy show so we didn’t get to bed until 1am! The comedian was John Knight and he was pretty funny!
I am really impressed with how customer service oriented the crew is. They are always saying hello when they pass by. If I need anything it is given quickly with a smile. I see a big change in the attitude of the staff and crew. I hope this is the new norm for the whole fleet and not just for this ship. This makes us want to cruise more often again.

6/3/14 At Sea
After breakfast in the dining room (I had steak and eggs again!), we walked on the track for 90 minutes. By then we went to meet up with my cruise critic friends but I didn’t recognize anyone. We walked around the ship for a while until lunch time. After lunch we went to the sauna and steam room. Next was arts and crafts where we made corded bracelets. It was not very organized because it didn’t seem like anyone was in charge. One guest just told me to get a packet of materials and read the directions. The crew member sitting on the side finally said she was just there to give it out but didn’t have any idea how to make the corded bracelets. So, we ended up taking our stuff and leaving. Then we had tea and decided after to take a short nap. Before dinner we went to the show featuring a juggler and then had dinner. It was a really pleasant day!

6/4/14 St. Maarten
We had a lovely day in St. Maarten on Wednesday. At 9am. we took the water ferry across to the beach and at first the captain had everyone get off at the first stop. Since we were the last ones off, I asked if he didn’t go to the second dock (closer to the beach area) and he said I could get on there on the way back. Then I told him that I wanted to go there now and he ended up taking us over there. Then we went to see our friend Suzette at the Caribbean Blend restaurant who ran out and hugged us! She told us to get our chairs and umbrellas from her brother Dwight. First we walked around town and went to the local supermarket. I bought some licorice candy there. When we got back to the beach, we got our chairs and umbrella from Dwight for $10 and a bucket of 5 beers for $10. We met 2 other couples who were on the Oasis to the Seas ship and spent the afternoon talking with them. About 4pm we headed back to the ship so we could get something to eat. We took a nap before dinner. After dinner we met up with my cruise critic friends at the Piano Bar and found out this was the only night it was closed!

6/5/14 St. Kitts
We got off the ship at 8am and walked around town until 11am. I bought some superglue to fix my sandal ($1) and a diet coke ($2). We also found the postcard lady and she gave me her card. The postcards were $1 each and she autographed each one. We bought a set to bring home and we mailed a set home. On the way back we bought some magnets made from calabash and hand painted by the artist (I took photos of her signing them). Then I bought a diet Pepsi for $2. We got back on the ship and the only thing open was the pizza place so we ate some pizza. Then we went to the sauna and the steam room. After that we tried the burrito bar which was a lot like Chipotle Grill where you build your own burrito. After a nap in the afternoon we watched the ship pull out of the port. Again, we were late pulling out but I’m not sure why. We did hear them call some names of people missing so maybe we were waiting on them. At 7pm we met our cruise critic friends in the Millennium atrium bar before dinner. After dinner we went to the show called Getaway Island which we didn’t think was so great. The show started off with technical difficulties and had to restart about 10 minutes later. Then we didn’t think the singing was that wonderful.

6/6/14 San Juan
We got off the ship at 7:30am and headed to the ferry at Pier 2 which was right beside the pier where our ship docked. We didn’t wait too long before it arrived (around 7:50) and it only cost us .50 per person for our short ride over to Catano. There were 2 other couples and 1 man from the ship on the ferry going to the same place. Then we got out of the pier and turned right until a cab driver asked us if we were going to Bacardi and he loaded us in the van to drive us there for $3 per person. We got there around 8:40am and we were on the first tour at 9am It was a great tour which was free plus they gave us 2 free drinks. We had no trouble getting a taxi back to the pier for $3 per person and then paid another .50 per person to take us back to Old San Juan. So, this whole excursion cost us $7 per person and the ship would have charged us $40 per person! We got there around 11:30 and walked around town. Don found his second hand shop again so we spent an hour in that shop. We got back to the ship around 1:15 and the line to get on the ship was horrendous! We finally got on at 1:39. I was starving so we headed up to lunch. We met the cruise critic group at the Red Frog Pub at 4pm and then we had the VIP reception at 4:30. Before dinner I gathered my laundry since it is free for us as Platinum members and my cabin steward collected it. We decided to walk around the ship before dinner and ended up visiting with our dinner mates until dinner time. After dinner we went to the magic show and I had a hard time keeping awake because he was so terrible and boring.

6/7/14 Grand Turk
We had a relaxing day in Grand Turk on Saturday. We got off the ship around 10am and walked along the beach past the rocky point to the right of the ship. Around there we saw tons of shells, especially conch shells. I swore I wouldn’t bring one home unless I found a perfectly intact one because I thought it was impossible to find one. Amazingly enough, I found one and had to lug that heavy shell around the island with me! We walked back along the sandy road and then looked in the shops. By then it was 11:30 and we decided to go back to the ship since it was lunch time. Don didn’t feel that great and it was so hot out. Finally I got to go to the Mongolian Wok since the lines were not long (I was the 3rd in line!). Then I wanted to sit outside in a lounge chair but it was so hot that I lasted about 5 minutes. Don had gone to the cabin to take a nap so I went back for a nap too. Around 4pm we went back to the Lido deck and got a burger and fries. Then we met up with my cruise critic pals at the Sports Bar. For dinner I had chateaubriand which was delicious! We had an early night and didn’t go to the show.

6/8/14 At Sea
We had a lazy day at sea. We went to brunch in the dining room and I had filet mignon and macaroni and cheese. We also used our drink coupons to get bloody marys which were delicious! At noon I met up with the cruise critic friends. At 3pm we went to the bingo game with our raffle tickets in hopes of winning a cruise but we didn’t win. At 3:30 I went to the arts and crafts but they were making the same things as the other day. Whenever we had time we packed our suitcases. It was sad to say goodbye to our new friends!

6/9/14 Debarkation
We went to breakfast at 6:30am and then met at our “Platinum Members meeting place” at 7:30. We were off the ship by 8:15. My parents picked us up by 8:45. Getting off the ship was fast and easy.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


When I was growing up I thought I knew it all. In fact, I KNEW I knew it all! I thought my parents didn't know anything. They didn't understand what I was feeling or thinking.

Then I gre up. I enjoyed talking to my parents as an adult. But I felt like I was more astute about current trnds and ideas. I still didn't appreciate my parents enough with all their life experiences and knowledge that they had.

Now when I visit my aging parents I see our time together on earth is limited. I want more! There doesn't seem like enough time! Why didn't I use our time together more wisely when I was growing up? Why didn't someone tell me this a long time ago?

So, now I am sharing it with you. Please appreciate your time with your parents! It doesn't matter how old you are or how old they are. You won't regret it if you do?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/6/14

tools2 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

Hughes History – Youtube videos; “United States History lectures brought to you by Mr. Hughes. These lectures are designed for broad based conceptual review for studying for eager middle school students, worried high school students and lost college Freshmen.” (L: M, H; SA:SS)

Physics 4 Kids – basic physics information for everyone (L:G; SA:S)

Blubbr – create interactive study quizzes (L:G; SA:S)

Educanon – “a tool for teachers to build lessons with interactive timed questions and engaging video content. Already, we've been amazed by the creative and inspirational uses of eduCanon by teachers--for flipped and blended learning environments.: (L:T; SA:A)

Purpose Games – “Create your own games, host your own groups / classes, study for a test, or just dazzle us with your knowledge. PurposeGames is a completely FREE service!” (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How We Treat Ourselves

children Recently I was listening to a Jillian Michaels Podcast episode and she talked about how we should treat ourselves like we should treat our children. This really struck home to me. As good parents, we treat our children like precious cargo (which we should) but we don’t do the same to ourselves (which we should!).

When we fly in airplanes, part of the emergency drill is talking about how we should put the oxygen masks over our own faces before we put it on our children’s faces. This gives both of us a better chance of survival because if we put it on the child’s face first and we die, the child may not live either. But we don’t do this in real life and maybe we should.

We make sure our children eat properly and when they should. We don’t want them to miss meals or eat ice cream and junk food all of the time. But I know many teachers (me included) who have missed meals and just ate junk food to get through the day. We encourage students to eat right before tests because it helps them think better, but we don’t treat our bodies the same way!

We expect our children to get enough sleep so they are rested enough to do the things they want to and need to do. Yet, teachers sometimes are burning the candle at both ends and get by on little sleep. Children who don’t get enough sleep can become lethargic, irritable, and have little interest in doing things that need to be done. In fact, lack of sleep can kill. We should be making sure that we get enough rest too!

Exercise and fresh air is important for our children. The same goes for our bodies! Too many adults talk about how slim and energetic they were when they were younger. Why do we not take care of our bodies when they are older?

It seems like we don’t value ourselves as much as we get older and think everything else is more important!

Now as summer vacation approaches, I urge everyone who reads this to take stock of their lives. Think about ways that you can take care of yourself the way you would your own child. Maybe stop and ask yourself, as you do things, would you let your child do this? If the answer is no, maybe it is time to rethink your decision.

We all have worth! I truly believe that God wouldn’t have put us on this earth if we didn’t. I’m not about to question God’s decision! Since I believe this, I need to start taking better care of myself physically and emotionally. By doing this, I will be able to help others more effectively, just like putting the oxygen mask over me first.

How will you take better care of yourself? Please share.

Image: 'Food of Love'
Found on

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spartan Up - Book Review

Spartan UpI recently was sent the book by Spartan Up! By Joe De Sena. This is the review that I posted on Amazon (and I am not being paid to give this review):

At first I thought this was just another exercise book until I started reading it. While I may not be totally into his gung-ho regime, I think the author is extremely motivating. There are so many great ideas that inspirational and motivational that I could not begin to give you a sample. I started underlining all the great things so I can come back to them again. I may not be ready to go to the extremes of his exercise program, it did motivate me to exercise more.

I think this would also be a good book for teachers to read. I think they would find it motivational in getting things done in their own career. Plus, I believe they would find a lot of statements would be motivational for their students. As a special ed teacher, I can see my students relating to many of the obstacles that were mentioned and how hard they struggle to overcome these obstacles. Like many of the contestants in the races, my students that succeed are the ones who never give up. Over years they have had to build up their own stamina and strength to face their fears, struggles, and defeats in their educational growth.

I liked the way that this book could be used in a variety of situations and not just in physical fitness. It can be used in a fitness class and other classes. Teachers could use this as a reference for some class lessons. I would definitely recommend this book to others that want that push to improve their lives.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Monthly Review of Goals from May

Goals May has involved a lot of traveling. We left the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Gatlinburg at the middle of April to head north until the first week of May. We spent time in the Shenandoah National Park, Washington DC, and Dolly Sods in WV. The best part of May was going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the beginning of May! In the middle of May we went camping for a week at Oconee State Park. All of my goals can be found here.

Yearly goals:
  1. Try at least 12 new recipes (one per month).
    1. January – Quinoa Meatballs
    2. February – Mushroom Lasagna
    3. March – Chicken Quesadilla
    4. April – Grilled Asian Chicken
    5. May – Simple Green Smoothie
  2. Reach my target weight by the end of the year. – My weight stayed the same this month
  3. Knit a Fair Isle vest. (not started yet)
  4. Learn to chain ply some handspun yarn. (not started yet)
  5. Dye yarn and fiber. (not started yet)
  6. Spin my camel, yak, and cashmere fiber. Amended to add: or try different techniques
    1. January - spun camel/merino/silk blend fiber in
    2. March – tried drafting back when spinning instead of my usual short forward draft. This made my yarn turn out much loftier.
    3. April – Spun my yak/merino fiber
Daily/Weekly/Monthly goals:
  1. Daily - Read the bible and keep a log so I can tell how I am doing. – I’ve read it every day in January, February, March, April, and May.
  2. Daily - Do strength exercises for 30 minutes each day. – I have done this every day.
  3. Weekly - Walk at least 10,000 steps for 4 days every week. (4.3 miles per day for 4 days/120.4 miles per month)
    1. a. January – 159.01 miles (avg. 5.1 miles per day)
    2. February – 130.27 miles (avg. 4.7 miles per day)
    3. March – 161.13 miles (avg.5.2 miles per day)
    4. April – 166.86 (avg. 5.5 miles per day)
    5. May -144.34 miles (avg. 4.7 miles per day)
  4. Weekly - Keep a journal and write down 5 things that I’m thankful for. – Every Sunday I take time to jot down the 5 things. – I missed a few weeks in May. I need to do better.
  5. Monthly - Read one non-fiction book every month.
    1. January - Life in Stitches by Rachel Herron.
    2. February – The Spinners Book of Yarn Design by Sarah Anderson
    3. March – To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
    4. April – David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
    5. May – The Biography of Shirley Jones
I think I had a pretty good month considering all of the traveling I did. It was really hard to get my exercise in when we were traveling but I did pretty well with my eating.

Image: 'Goals'
Found on

Monday, June 2, 2014

Leadership Traits Part 5

Goals In Welcoming New Leaders in Education from Actualization, Walter McKenzie talks about some leadership traits. He asks,

“How do these leadership traits resonate with you?”

Here is part 5 of 5 where I will share my thoughts of specific traits that he listed.

“Ecological – serving as good stewards of the environments in which they thrive
Voracious – hungry to engage, to learn, to lead, to make a difference
Trailblazing – clearing new pathways to personal and professional efficacy”

When I look at leaders, I like to see that they care about the natural environment as well as the work environment. I liked when they put motion sensor lights in classrooms that turn off the lights if they are left on and no one is in the room. I like for leaders to be watching out for taxpayer’s monies and making sure they are not being wasted on unnecessary or frivolous things.

I believe the desire to learn is extremely important. This desire means that I need to be open to new ideas, new strategies, and doing things differently. I need to be willing to learn in order to find a way to make a difference. If things stay status quo, I may not necessarily make a difference. Instead I’m just letting things continue the way they are. But by learning more, I might find a new and better way or I might find out that the way it is will be the best way. Either way, this learning will make a difference.

It takes courage and strength to be the first one out there. I can only imagine how Lewis and Clark felt as they embarked on their new adventure. It can be a scary time but someone needs to be the one to clear the way. Someone needs to be willing to take a risk and face possible failure. This person will pave the way for future success.

How do you feel about these traits? Do you agree or disagree? Please share.

Image: 'Transformational Leadership'
Found on