Friday, October 31, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/31/14

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

FlipQuiz – “free game-show style boards for educators” (L:G; SA:A)

Peep and the Big Wide World – “Many great activities for you to do, well, anywhere! Written by a preschool teacher who specializes in early childhood science, these easy-to-do ideas are fun ways for you and your kids to learn simple science and math concepts. Each activity extends the math and science ideas of each TV story.” (L:E; SA:M, S)

Freddy’s Fractions - “Compare fractions and collect correct answers, but watch out for submarines! The more answers you get correct the more coins you'll earn. Coins can be used to upgrade Freddy’s powers in 4 different ways -- protect him by adding shells, make him swim faster, keep his correct answer streak going to finish levels faster, and summon his explosive turtle call to scare off dangerous submarines.” (L:E; SA:M)

Congressional Moments“Find out how to use digital primary source materials of the Library of Congress and the Center on Congress.” (L:G; SA:SS)

Novels on Location – Find novels according to the location where they are set. (L:H; SA:LA)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Engaging Students in the Classroom

theaterYesterday I attended a professional development seminar at Furman University. The topic was Engaging Students in the College Classroom: Strategies from the Theater. The presenters were Jayce and Anne Tromsness.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour session and could see how it could easily become a full day session. We seemed to touch the surface of things but didn’t have time to go in depth. It made me want to learn more about the strategies.

There were about 13 of us and from all different departments. It was great to talk to people from other departments and see that we all struggle with many of the same issues.

We talked about the similarities between a director of a production and the instructor. We also talked about how every situation is a story.

Then we discussed strategies for positive engagement and I want to share some of my notes with you.

Don’t blame the audience – lower your status but becoming vulnerable. Share something personal (but don’t go too far) about yourself. Audiences love a vulnerable character. Admit when you don’t know the answer.

Teacher as performer – Teaching is action. Make it simple, based on a verb, something you can do. Look at the process more than the end result.

Listen to William Ball = find the positive. “That was great but…” Rephrase what they say and scaffold to the right answer but using some of their words. Go with the offer that sequences to the right answer.

Incorporate the 3D’s: Discovery, Disclosure, Decision. – Disclosure is like Quincy (TV show) talking to Sam, Disclosure is the aha moments, Decision is the forward action. Make sure you disclose (introduce), discover (reveal and expostulate), and decide (give a definite conclusion). Decision should be the last thing before the class leaves.

Listen to Stanislavski – for the passive student. “whatever is on the buffet table that works for you”; ex: Do you have experience with this situation? If no experience, substitute the closest thing. If that doesn’t work, this situation would be as ____ in order to relate to it. (There is no way out of doing/answering/participating).

Establishing the Given Circumstances – organizing the players. Use CRO/OWW – character, relationship, objective, obstacle, where, and when. We learn through story.

Work with the Stimulus/Response model – too much emphasis on the response and not enough on the stimulus, which leads to more memorization.

The Rabbit Hole – come up with a central idea. Then come up with immediate responses on this (words, songs, etc.). Then where does that lead. Everything is related and we just have to discover what that is.

Quick Exercises for In-Class engagement
1. Anonymity – Beginning of class; index cards, post it notes – what don’t we know. End of class: what do we know now.
2. Connection – I-circle (statement – all who agree move into the middle of the circle); word ball
3. Paraphrase – direct answers or text,, ideas, or practical application
4. 5 minute challenges – improvised or written – presenting an idea, moment, or concept as a story
5. What happens next? What do you do next?
6. Once Upon a Time exercise – one sentence for plot review for each person in the circle. Set a time limit.
7. Creating CRO/OWW with unit/subject and having the characters interact

Image: 'Queue The Last Act'
Found on

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Time with Friends

friendsIn Fierceness from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

“What do you do when you carve out some time with your friends?”

Every Monday night I join a group of ladies at Starbucks for knitting. Sometimes very little knitting happens but a lot of talking goes on. Sometimes we have show and tell where we share the new things we bought. Sometimes we have “tutoring” where someone will help someone with a knitting problem they are having. We discuss books, movies, social trends, things that happened during the weeks, jokes we heard, and many other topics. Sometimes we use the time to vent, celebrate, or just commiserate with each other.

This time to get together is so precious to me and I really enjoy being with my friends. They have different personalities and strengths so all of them are great fun to be around!

I found out too late though that my students with disabilities really don’t know how to have fun with their friends outside of school. Many of my students who graduated now are allowed to be my friend on facebook and I notice that they don’t have many friends their own age. They have their relatives who are their friends and other adults who are friends with their parents but not many friends their own age. Since many of my students were unable to get their driver’s license so they don’t usually leave their home during the day when their parents are working.

I find it sad that I don’t know how I could have helped them plan for recreational activities outside of school. There isn’t any public transportation near their home so they could have to go to places within walking distance. They don’t live near each other and usually the parents don’t want them out alone so we connect through facebook or text messages. They don’t have a job either so they are pretty isolated. There are no agencies that can help them with this either.

Do you have any suggestions that I could give them? Please share.

Image: 'Friendship'
Found on

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Favorite Season

DSC_0006In Global Seasons from On an e-Journey with Generation Y, annemirtschin talks about being a member of several global skype groups and how people across the globe are experiencing different seasons at the same time. Then she asked,

“Which season do you like best and what season is it now for where you live?”

My favorite season is spring! I love how I can see the new growth as it happens. It fills me with hope for fresh beginnings and new starts. I like the thought of new things happening. Things seem brighter and daylight starts getting longer. I like to see the new flowers as they emerge from the bare ground. Sometimes surprises emerge as things that I don’t expect come early or bloom different colors.

Right now it is autumn here in South Carolina. I love the fall colors and the world is beautiful on sunny days. Yet, sometimes I feel a tinge of sadness when I think about things dying and everything seems like it is getting darker. The colors seem to start fading away as winter approaches. Temperatures are getting cooler and I have to wear warmer clothes.

How would you answer the question? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, October 27, 2014

By the Numbers

DSC_0033We got back from our trip up north. Here are some of the statistics:

Days we traveled – 48

Countries we were in (Canada and USA) – 2

States we visited – 13

Canadian provinces we visited – 3

Days we rode on a train (Long Island RR and Conway Scenic RR) – 4

Days we rode the subway (NYC) – 3

Miles we drove – 6407 miles

Cruise – 1

Nights slept on the water – 13

Hotels/Motels/ stayed in – 12

B&B stayed in -1

Reservations cancelled due to no fault of our own - 2

Friends we made – too many to count!

Knitwear factory tour – 1 (Prince Edward Island)

Cheese factory tour – 1 (Cabot Cheese, VT)

Maple Sugar Factory tour – 1 (Vermont)

Granite Factory and Mine tour – 1 (Vermont)

Rainy days – 3

Percentage of budget spent on Food – 18%

Percentage of budget spent on Gas – 6%

Percentage of budget spent on Lodging – 20%

Percentage of budget spent on Other – 56%

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, October 24, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/24/14

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

Wildscreen Arkive – “With the help of the world’s best wildlife filmmakers and photographers, conservationists and scientists, we are creating an awe-inspiring record of life on Earth. Freely accessible to everyone and preserved for the benefit of future generations, ARKive is a truly invaluable resource for conservation, education and public awareness.” (L:G; SA:S)

Jeopardy Rocks – create an online jeopardy game in minutes (L:G; SA:A)

Go Soapbox - GoSoapBox is a web-based clicker tool used by educators around the world to keep students engaged and gain real-time insight into student comprehension. (L:G; SA:A)

CyArk – “free, 3D online library of the world's cultural heritage sites before they are lost to natural disasters, destroyed by human aggression or ravaged by the passage of time.”, Lesson plans included for teachers(L:G; SA:A)

eQuizShow – Create an online jeopardy game or use one already created (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Changing is Hard


changeIn Nobody likes to hear it from Dangerously Irrelevant, Scott McLeod shares,

“… we DO need to change, we DO need to do things differently, and we are NOT there yet.”

My husband hates change. He likes things to be the same when he works on his computer and if a website that he goes to regularly, changes its look, I hear about it! He says it is like learning something new all over again.

He likes his routine to be pretty much the same and when things get out of whack, he forgets certain things and he feels disoriented.

Well, we just returned from a trip and things are topsy turvy in our home. I have 6 inches of dust everywhere and my house needs a deep cleaning. My satellite dish didn’t work and after awful service over the phone, we decided to switch companies. Then we had the cable company install cable in our house which delayed the cleaning. On and on the saga goes. But the bottom line is that, I forgot to post this article this morning.

I look forward to getting back in a routine again. It seems to settle me down and I can focus on the non routine things that need my attention. I miss this routine when we travel and I think I need to come back home and get back into my routine to ground myself.

My students seem to feel the same way. After vacations and holidays, they seem to look forward to returning to school and getting back into the routine.

But sometimes we just the routine as a safety net which can turn into a crutch. Instead of broadening our horizons and learning new things, we yell about having to change and want things to be the way they were.

We need to find that line between the security of what was and the excitement of learning new things. If someone hadn’t learned how to do new things, we would still be riding in horse and buggies or living in the dark ages.

We need people who are willing to be daring and face the unknown. But we need the people who are willing to be in the background for security when things don’t go the way we hoped for. But the main thing is that we need to support each other. We need to encourage those who try the new things and we need to be thankful to those who are there to catch those that fall. But we shouldn’t let each other stay in the rut of never changing or always changing.

How do you feel about change? Please share.

Image: 'Seasons Change'
Found on

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Road Trip to New York 2014

Last week headed to New York and the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. Our adventure continues.

Here is the link to my pictures!

10/15/14 – New York

DSC_0006Today was kind of a rough day. We drove to our hotel in Lake George (The Georgian Lakeside Inn) which was supposed to have a restaurant and a couple of bars. It sounded lovely online. When we drove through town, we found that most of the town was closed for the season (even the McDonalds!). When we tried to check in at 1pm, we were told that the room wouldn’t be ready until after 3. When I asked about the restaurant or bars, I was told they were closed for the season and the girl was pretty rude about it. We ended up calling and asking to cancel our reservation without penalties since the hotel wasn’t as advertised. They immediately cancelled without any penalty. Then we drove to Kingston to find a motel for the night. On the way down we stopped at Martin Van Buren’s home and took a tour which was pretty interesting. We had a coupon for the Super Lodge and it seemed pretty nice. Then we went to the Stadium Diner for a wonderful dinner. For $9.95, I had the senior dinner which included a large bowl of mushroom soup, a large tossed salad, a huge hamburger steak with onions and gravy plus a baked potato. Included was also a large bowl of ice cream with whipped cream! On the way back to the motel, we turned in the wrong exit of a roundabout and looked up to a toll booth! When we told the girl we took the wrong turn and needed to go back, she told us to make a u-turn. We didn’t know we had to go through the cash only line and ended up going through the EZ Pass line. When we got back to the hotel, I immediately called EZ Pass and the girl said that when I got a violation letter in the mail, I just needed to write a letter and ask that they waive the violation fee.

10/16/14 – New York

DSC_0003We had a lovely day yesterday. We drove up to Albany to tour the USS Slater – the only destroyer escort ship still around. My hubby served on one of these in the navy in 1969 so he really enjoyed seeing it. We didn’t know it existed until we saw the brochure in the motel lobby! Then we drove down to Hyde Park and spent the rest of the day at FDR’s home. We took a tour of his house and enjoyed it. We decided to use another $55 coupon for the Super Lodge in Kingston. Then we had dinner again at the Dietz Stadium Diner.

10/17 – New York

DSC_0001We went to take a tour at the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park and then to the Eleanor Roosevelt Site after that. After lunch we headed back to Kingston to check in the Super 8 where we will be spending the weekend. My sister and her friends arrived and after chatting with them, we left for dinner while they went to the Indie trunk show next door. When we got back from dinner, we walked over to the trunk show and I saw Wendy, Lois, MadaboutMatisse, Diane, and SO Waters! Then I came back and knit in the breakfast area for a while with my sister and her friends.

10/18 – NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY

Link to pictures here.
DSCF1011It was a wonderful day! We got in line about 7:30 and bought our tickets ($17 for a weekend pass each). By 9am, they let us in the gates and we headed to Bldg. C where I got 2 skeins of Miss Babs Rhinebeck colorway in the yummy sock base. Then we walked around. I was so thrilled to meet people in person that I know online. At the Ravelry meetup I met Alana Dakos, Hannah Fetig, The Savvy Girls (Melanie and Deborah), Jadee, Stockinette Zombies (Megan and Amy), and Knitting in Circles (Darin and Amy). At Jamlknitter (Lisa)’s birthday celebration in the beer garden, we met up with Wendy, Lois, and Sheila along with BostonJen. After dinner, I came back to the motel to knit with my sister and her friends until bedtime.

10/19 – NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY

We got there too early because I thought it opened at 9am but it didn’t open until 10am. Don stayed in the car until it opened but I visited with other knitters. We walked around and I bought a few more things. It was great to see Caron (from home) and her friend Charlie. It got so cold that we left around 2pm. On the way out, I stopped and talked to Leslie from The Knitgirllls Podcast.

Things I Learned:

1. Martin Van Buren was the first American born President.
2. FDR’s library was the first presidential library.
3. NY Sheep and Wool festival was huge!
4. Bring your own drinks and snacks with you to a festival like this.
5. It is good to get an early start and miss the traffic.
6. Bring a big tote bag to hold your goodies.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Knowing Better Doesn’t Always Mean Doing Better

cementIn A Head Like Concrete from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

Is your head like concrete about some things? What are they?”

There are times that know I should do something but I don’t. My heart is willing but my head is not.

I know that I should eat sensibly and keep away from a lot of carbs. I am trying to eat more protein and not a lot of carbs and sugar. But then when I’m hungry and the food is in front of me, all sensibility flies out the window. Or if the food at the restaurant is a good price and it is my favorite food, I’m getting it! I know that isn’t the best way to be but I do it. I also think in the morning that I will drink more water so I won’t be so hungry when we eat meals and then I won’t be tempted. But I really don’t like water so I drink diet pepsi which is also not good for you.

I also think if I increase my exercise, it will help with the calorie balance but since we have been traveling, I spend a lot of time in the car and don’t have a chance to walk as much as I like. This is frustrating because when I get home, I have to start from square one all over again. Before our journey, I tell myself that I will get on the treadmill each morning at the hotel but then I don’t. Again, my heart is willing but the head just won’t do it.

I know all the “rules” or suggestions but my head is like concrete and won’t absorb the information.

I can see my students feeling the same way. I can hear them planning on studying and getting good grades but then sensibility (or life) gets in the way. There are more exciting activities than studying. Sometimes they try their best but it still isn’t enough so frustration sets in. In the same way as losing weight for me, their heart is willing but the head is concrete.

I need to appreciate that they may be going through the same feelings that I am about different things. It might be good to openly discuss this. We may be able to find ways to support and encourage each other. Maybe we will be able to find a soft spot in that concrete head.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get around this? Please share.

Image: 'Underground Garages Entrance'
Found on

Monday, October 20, 2014

Road Trip to New Hampshire and Vermont 2014

Last week we left Maine and headed to New Hampshire and Vermont. Our adventure continues.

Here is the link to my pictures!

10/12/14 – New Hampshire

DSCF0893We left Maine and drove to North Conway, NH for a train ride on the Conway Scenic Railway. It cost $59 per person and lasted for about 5 hours. It was a nice train ride and the fall colors were fabulous! We sat on one side on the way to Fabyan and then they announced that on the way back, everyone had to switch sides. The scenery was beautiful but almost impossible to take good pictures from a moving train.

10/13/14 – Vermont

DSC_0008We had a lovely day in Vermont. We ended up driving along the road that the train traveled by yesterday and we got to look at the sights again from the car. First we took a free tour of a maple sugar factory and bought a box of pure maple candy. Then we went to Cabot where we took a tour of the cheese factory for $2 each. We drove to Stowe but left because we had to find a new hotel room other than the one we booked (see the story below). We stopped in Montpelier and thought the town looked cute but the visitor center rep recommended that we find a hotel room as soon as possible because they fill up fast. We found a cute motel in Barre, VT called Hilltop Inn of Vermont. We had a coupon for $59 and it is a lovely room with a tiny kitchen and sitting area. For lunch, the desk clerk recommended the Wayside restaurant which was absolutely wonderful! Then we did laundry ($10 to wash and dry one load) which seemed to take about 2 hours but at least we have clean clothes now.

Disappointed in an Airbnb reservation we had for tonight. We were supposed to be at a B&B in a double bed/private bath. Yesterday afternoon, the host emails me and tells me that they are going to a museum today and won’t be able to clean that room after the last guest leaves so they moved us to 2 rooms with single beds and no bath. The bathroom is in the hall. She didn’t think I would mind since her and her husband enjoy separate beds when they vacation! We’ve only slept apart 2 times in 32 years! Plus there won’t be anyone there when we get there so just make ourselves at home! Hubby refuses to go into a house with no one there (what if we got the wrong house or what if this is a scam and not really there house!). Plus, how safe would we be or even our belongings because there wouldn’t be anyone there to give us a key. So we called the credit card company and asked for a refund (I was charged for the full amount when we made our reservation in August) and will have to find somewhere else for the next 2 nights.

10/14/14 – Vermont

After breakfast at the motel, we headed to the Rock of Ages visitor center where we bought tickets for the 9:15 tour of the quarry. It cost $5.50 for adults and they gave a AAA discount plus senior discount for Don so we only paid $9.50 total for the 45 minute tour. Art was a great tour guide as we rode the school bus to the quarry. Before the tour though, we watched a short video that explained a little of the background. After the tour, we went into the factory for a self-guided tour where we watched the people make monuments from the slabs of granite. Then we went downtown Montpelier and had a tour of the Capitol building and walked downtown. Don found an antique store right next door to a knitting store! Then we drove to the Hope Cemetery to look at the unusual headstone sculptures made by the sculptors for their own graves. After that we hunted for the floating bridge (road on huge floating barrels) but when we found it, it was under reconstruction and wouldn’t open until 2015. We decided to spend another night at the same hotel as last night since the price was right and included breakfast.

Things I Learned:

1. The pure maple candy has only 40 calories per piece.

2. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

3. Cabot cheese is a coop of many different dairies.

4. Vermont law only allows 25 tons on the roads.

5. Barre granite is monument grade granite and it has feldspar, mica, and quartz in it.

6. Many people have died from the granite dust in their lungs.

7. There used to be hundreds of sculptors (mostly Italian) but now there is only 1 at the factory.

8. Now most of the etching is done with sand blasting and rubber for the stencils.

9. Vermont is the only one of the 6 New England states that is landlocked.

10. There are many nautical themes in the Capitol building.

11. That Capitol building was destroyed once by fire and the portico is the only thing saved from the fire.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Friday, October 17, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/17/14

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

WordWriter Halloween Activities - We've designed some free, downloadable resources to use with our new tool WordWriter, for you and your students to have a creative (and chilling!) October. (L:E; SA:LA)

Interactive Historical Thinking Poster – “Teaching history involves showing students how to use clues from primary and secondary sources to ask and answer good questions.Primary sources give us many clues about the past. They are the evidence—such as letters, newspapers, drawings, photographs, tools, or clothes—from the time period under investigation.Secondary sources are written by historians who use available materials to interpret the past. They provide analysis, summary of historic moments, and change over time.Use this poster with your elementary students to help them learn how to be history detectives.” (L:E; SA:SS)

Fakebook - “’Fakebook’ allows teachers and students to create imaginary profile pages for study purposes.” (L:G; SA:A)

Sound Uncovered – free iPad app; “Explore the surprising side of sound with Sound Uncovered, an interactive book featuring auditory illusions, acoustic phenomena, and other things that go bump, beep, boom, and vroom. From the makers of Color Uncovered—the Exploratorium—this app puts you at the center of the experiment: Hear with your eyes, see with your ears, make and modify recordings, test your hearing, and more. How do you make a saxophone growl? Are there secret messages in music played backward? Why does the sound of gum chewing drive some people mad? Listen up and find answers to these questions and more as you take an auditory trip to the place where sound gets truly interesting: the space between your ears.” (L:; SA:)

Alphabet Organizer – “Engage students and build phonemic awareness by using Alphabet Organizer in the classroom. Students create an alphabet book or alphabet chart with words for each letter of the alphabet. Or choose just one word per letter and upload an image to help early readers make a visual connection between the word and the beginning letter. Alphabet Organizer features our worksaver so that students can save a draft of their unfinished work or share their final work via e-mail.” (L:E; SA:LA)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reading Nonfiction

booksIn In the Eye of the Beholder from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

“Do you turn your nose up at certain types of art or certain genres of books?’

I have to confess that nonfiction is my nemesis. I don’t know why but it is. I have always loved fiction and can read a fiction book quickly. Nonfiction makes me cringe and it takes me much longer to finish a nonfiction book. I don’t know why. Maybe because with nonfiction I have to pay attention and really think. Maybe it invokes feelings that I don’t always like.

I think this is kind of strange because I love watching movies that are based on true stories. Of course, to sell this kind of movie, I’m sure they fictionalize some of it to make it more interesting.

I wonder if my students have this feeling towards assignments that they are given. Maybe it is the type of assignment that they shy away from. It would be interesting to poll them to see what assignments they prefer and what types of reading they prefer. Maybe I can gear my lessons and assignments to their preferences to make it more enjoyable. Then once in a while, I can give them something that is not in their comfort zone to help them broaden their horizons. Knowing that they aren’t in their comfort zone can make me more aware that they might need more help.

One of my goals this year is to read at least one nonfiction book per month. I was wondering if I’m not comfortable with them because I need more practice. Maybe if I read more of them, I will read them more easily and enjoy them more. I have enjoyed the ones I read so the content isn’t the problem.

I like sharing with others that I’m trying to read more nonfiction books and asking them for suggestions. What suggestions do you have for me? Have you read a nonfiction book that you think I might enjoy? Please share.

Image: 'Trial by Sasswood, Esther Sietmann Warner Dendel'
Found on

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Changing the Way I Teach

boringIn You are boring. What are you going to do about it? From Blogush, Paul Bogush 

“So what are you going to do about it?  Tomorrow just stop.  Stop and look out at your kids.  For the daring amongst you ask your kids…”Am I boring?”  For the daring but not brave, ask your kids to answer the question anonymously on a piece of paper.   For the daring but not ready to make it personal yet amongst you…ask them the question but make it about your lesson or unit.  For those of you who are just curious but not ready to talk about it with your kids…just pause long enough to look at the expression on  each kids face.  Are those the faces you imagined on your kids when you started teaching?  Based on what you see, based on what your hear or read from them…what’s your plan?”

I remember taking a class in public speaking in high school and even in college. I hated it! In fact, I don’t know many people who liked it. Public speaking is hard and scary.

Sometimes I get so involved in my lesson that I forget about my audience. Have you ever told a hilarious joke and then look around and see that no one else gets it? Sometimes I get so excited about my lesson that when I’m done, I look around and no one else is excited like I am. What I am hoping for is that students will pick up my excitement and feel excited about the lesson too.

Sometimes I over practice a lesson and it loses its thrill. Then I teach the lesson and I’m bored before I even get started. Students can pick up these feelings and if I am bored, they will start off being bored.

I need to remember to look at my student’s faces and their body language as I am teaching the lesson. When I see that they are bored or misbehaving, I need to ask questions and check for their understanding. Maybe I’m going to slow and I need to pick up the pace. Maybe I think they don’t understand a concept and I’m over explaining it because they already understand that part. Maybe I’m going too fast and they don’t understand it so I need to slow down. The important thing is that I need to pay attention to my student’s reactions.

I might need to change the activities because I am talking too much and I need to have the students be more interactive. Or maybe there is too much group work and the students are overstimulated and need more direction.

There are no magic solutions to this. The key is for me to gauge my lesson according to how the students are responding to my lesson. If they are bored, I can’t necessarily change their behavior but I can change my own. I can change the way I teach and try to make it more interesting.

What do you do when you think students are bored? Please share.

Image: 'Day 2 - Boring'
Found on

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why I Reflect

reflectIn Reflection Trumps Connection from Ideas and Thoughts, Dean Shareski  asks,

“So if you don’t blog, how and where do you reflect? Twitter doesn’t count. It may spark reflection, as it did for me with this post but reflection is not found in 140 characters. If blogging doesn’t work for you, what does? Is it visible?”

As you can tell, I blog and that is how I reflect. But reading this post, it reminded me why I reflect and how important reflection is.

In the military and law enforcement, they call it debriefing. I guess reflecting is too sissy like for them! But even they think it is important to reflect and evaluate so why aren’t we doing more of that in education. Maybe we do it but don’t recognize we are doing it or maybe we don’t do it formally.

When I was preparing for national board certification, reflection was extremely important. It wasn’t enough that we taught a lesson well but we needed to reflect about what we did. We needed to explain the rationale for teaching the lesson, our process, and explain in detail why we did what we did.

What is the point of teaching something if I don’t know why I am teaching it? I respect my students too much to give them busy work. If I don’t have a good enough reason, then I shouldn’t be teaching something.

Then I look at the process I use to teach something. Am I teaching it in the most effective way? Are there steps that I take for granted but I am leaving out when teaching it? One way that I catch this is by practicing my lesson beforehand. This helps me check to see if I have all the materials I need.

Then after my lesson, I like to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. I also think about what I would do differently. This helps me make future lessons better.

Sometimes my reflections lead to new lessons because my students get so inspired that they want to learn more. That always tells me that my lesson hit the right spot! If it makes them wanting more, I feel that I’ve done a good job.

I think writing this reflection down is important, whether it is in a blog or a journal or even if I do it in a video. There is something about putting it in words that makes the reflection clearer and more meaningful to me.

So, do you reflect? If you do, please tell how you do. If not, why not? Please share.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Road Trip to Maine 2014

Last week we left Canada and drove around Maine. Here are my notes from the trip. At the bottom is a list of new things I have learned in my travels. You might find them interesting too.

Here is the link to my pictures.

10/5/14 – Canada to Bar Harbor

We had a long drive from Truro, Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor. It rained the entire time we were in Canada but once we got into Maine, it became nice. It was really nice to be back in the US. We had arrived late in the afternoon so we decided to skip the Roosevelt Park. When we arrived at our motel, we realized it was the same one we stayed in years ago and even the same room! We ate dinner at Denny’s and learned they were out of iced tea and ranch dressing for our salads. We stopped at WalMart and bought some supplies before going to our room at the Robbins Motel ($49).

10/6/14 – Bar Harbor

DSC_0106We had breakfast at the Mainely Meat BBQ place and it was wonderful. It reminded me of home! Then we drove to the Parkman Mountain Parking Lot to do a 2 ½ hour hike with the Ranger. Ranger Linda Morrison talked about Mr. Rockefeller’s Bridges. I like how she “invited” people to do things and not just demanded that they followed the rules. She also had a box with clip that I could use when I lead the second graders on hikes. We walked to the Hemlock Bridge, built in 1924 and the Waterfall Bridge, built in 1925. We ate lunch at Lundy’s Gateway Lobster Pound and thought it was overpriced. We had 2 soft drinks and 2 lobster rolls plus $5 tip for a total of $40! Then we took the free shuttle around the loop road so my hubby could see the scenery instead of focusing on his driving. Our dinner at Mcdonald's came to $3 when I used my two Monopoly-winning coupons for a free drink and a free sandwich.

10/7/14 – Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park

DSC_0082After breakfast, we drove around the loop road and took a lot of photos. Then we drove over to the Bass Cove Lighthouse and saw how pretty it was. After lunch, we headed around the loop road again and did a few short hikes. We also saw lots of activity around a shipwreck that happened earlier in the morning. In the afternoon, we had another ranger-led hike and I was worried that it wouldn't be as good as the day before. I was thrilled to see that our leader was Ranger Linda Morrison again! She led a hike on the Ocean Path from Gorham Mountain Trailhead to the Otter Cliffs. She is such a wonderful storyteller that 2 hours fly by before you realize it! I really like how she incorporated songs in her talks when she found them appropriate. This made me realize that we could sing This Land Is Your Land at the end of the hike I lead with the second graders! Another story she told was about the Story of Lichen. – Alice Algae and Freddy Fungus took a “lichen” to one another. Alice said she would supply the food and Freddy said he would supply the house. Unfortunately their marriage was on the rocks! See below for other things that I learned from this hike.

10/8/14 – Boothbay Harbor

DSC_0006We left in the morning during the pouring rain and headed south along the coast of Maine. Even in the rain, the leaves looked beautiful. Along the way, we stopped at antique stores to browse. One shop was going out of business and had 75% off of everything so of course Don found some treasures. I thought the man was extremely rude and nasty so I refused to buy anything. By then the rain had stopped and the sun came out again. It turned out to be a beautiful day! We stopped for lunch at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro and saw an ad on the placemat for an alpaca farm around the block. Of course, we had to go and I bought Don a pair of alpaca copper hiking socks. The man said athletes wear copper in their socks because it is antibacterial. Then we drove down to Boothbay Harbor to spend the night. We didn’t know where we would stay but when we both saw the Midtown Motel (classic 50’s motel), we realized that we had stayed there before. The room was only $75 and right downtown so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking. There was no internet though. Tim, the owner, told me his parents built this motel almost 60 years ago! The article on the wall said when it opened, the rooms were $7 off season and $10 peak season! Then we walked around town and stopped for happy hour at Kaler’s and had $2 Coors Lite beers. It was a very pleasant day!

10/9/14 – Maine

DSC_0009We got up early and headed towards Freeport, Maine. On the way, we stopped at antique stores. When we got to Freeport, I stopped at LL Bean and the LL Bean Outlet store. Boy, was I thrilled to find a pair of corduroy pants for only $8.50! We also went downtown and I found a wooden clothes dryer for $39! It is so big that it takes up the whole back of my car! Then we headed up to Bethel, Maine and found lots of antique stores along the way. We finally ended up in Gorham, NH for the night at the Gorham Motor Inn ($78/night).

10/9/14 – Maine

DSC_0012We left the motel and headed back to Oxford, ME where my hubby decided he wanted to buy more of the view master reels that he didn’t buy yesterday. After that, we traveled up Hwy. 26 to find Screw Auger Falls and look for Moose. It was really pretty scenery but we never saw any moose. We took Hwy. 17 south along the scenic byway to the Height of Land and stopped at more antique stores and yard sales along the way. Finally we headed towards Augusta to look for a motel room. We had hoped to stay at the Hampton Inn but they wanted $263 per night and was all sold out anyway. We had passed the Cobbossee Motel which looked very cute and inviting and when I called, a room was only $69 so we decided to stay. We were thrilled to find out that the room had a sitting room with a sofa and table and chairs along with a full kitchen! It was a wonderful room!

10/10/14 – Maine

We drove along the coast since it was Saturday and we stopped at the yard sales and flea markets. We didn’t buy a lot but it was fun to look. After lunch in Freeport, we headed towards Bridgton, ME where we spent the night at the Pleasant Mountain Inn. The desk clerk was a snooty young girl and the motel had rules everywhere, even in the bathroom. It wasn’t a very welcoming place to stay and we have two nights here! I wouldn’t come back to this place. 

Things I’ve Learned:

1. There are no moose, bear, or venomous snakes in Acadia National Park.
2. Rockefeller had 16 out of the 17 park bridges built.
3. But he also bridged relationships with his father, with the government, and with the public.
4. I found it interesting that during Rockefeller’s time, hiking trails on private land was acceptable practice and still is.
5. The sandy beach in Acadia NP comes and goes each year, due to the action of the water.
6. The round stones created by the water are called cobblestones.
7. The buoy that makes so much noise is called a Bell Buoy.
8. There are no otters at Otter Cliffs or seals at Seal Harbor.
9. There are a lot of antique stores on the back roads of Maine!
10. Screw Auger Falls was right along the roadside.
11. Height of Land was an overlook along Hwy. 17 overlooking Mooselookmeguntic Lake and it was a beautiful sight!
12. Moose hide well because we never got to see one.

Original Photos by Pat Hensley

Friday, October 10, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/10/14

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

Socratic Smackdown – “A versatile discussion-based humanities game to practice argumentation around any text or topic for grades 6 through 12.” (L:M, H; SA:A)

Professor Word – “Improve your vocabulary while you surf the web Get one click definitions and findSAT®/ACT® vocabulary words on any site. (L:H; SA:A)

My StoryBook – “Create your own storybook.” (L:G; SA:A)

Royalty Free Music – “offers a variety of FREE high-quality royalty-free items, including royalty-free stock footage, royalty-free sound effects, royalty-free clip art, royalty-free images, royalty-free photos, and of course, royalty-free stock music. Our free Royalty Free Music section provides you with the resources you need to complete a variety of educational, personal, and non-profit projects.” (L:G; SA:A)

NASA HIAD game – “A giant cone of inner tubes stacked together may someday help cargo, or even people, land on another planet or return to Earth. NASA calls the spacecraft technology HIAD -- Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator. Learn the challenges NASA faces as it works to develop an inflatable spacecraft. Choose the right shape, materials and trajectory to use a HIAD to bring cargo back from space. To successfully guide an inflatable spacecraft through the super heat of atmospheric re-entry requires the right stuff. If you inflate too early, your shape is incorrect or your material isn't strong enough -- you burn up. And if you get all that right and miss the target the mission is a bust. Try your hand at landing a HIAD and become a rocket scientist. Advance through all stages at each of the four levels, collecting up to three stars for each successful landing.” (L:H; SA:S)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 9, 2014


normalIn Taking Advice from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

“What has a friend (or specifically a writer friend) given you that has proven to be good (or bad) advice? Inquiring minds are dying to know...”

When No Child Left Behind came around, it was determined that I was not highly qualified. Even though I had taught over 25 years, had a Masters’ degree plus 30 hours (equivalent to 2 Master’s degree), and was Nationally Board Certified, I was still not highly qualified (according to our state and federal governments).

So, I found out that I needed to be certified to teach elementary level students along with my special education certification in order to teach my high school self-contained students with all different disabilities. I applied to take the test and was told that it was scheduled for 9/11.

When I was told about this date, I felt like it was a really bad omen and was instantly depressed. I imagined failing the test and thought about what other career I could have if I couldn’t teach. I love my special education students and I love teaching. I had worked myself up into a tizzy and couldn’t even think straight.

I whined and ranted to all the friends that would listen. Many who weren’t in education could not understand my anger and bitterness. Those in education could commiserate but had no words of comfort.

Then one day, my friend Sara looked at me and said the words that had the biggest impact. She said, “Pat, before the big 9/11 day, 9/11 used to be just a normal day like any other. That is all this is. It is a normal day. You will take the test and pass it. That’s it. Just do it.”

Wow! That stopped me in my tracks. I stopped whining and ranting. It was just a day like any other day! I knew my stuff. I knew how to teach. I was a great teacher. There was no reason that I couldn’t pass this test.

On that day, I went in to take the test with a new confidence. I saw this day as the “day that I had to take the Praxis test” and not any other day. I felt good about it and even though I resented having to take the test, I put on my big girl panties and did what needed to be done in order to do what I wanted to do.

Needless to say, I passed the test with flying colors and all was well in my world again.

Thanks to Sara, she put my life in perspective again. I had blown this day way out of proportion in relation to something I needed to do. This is exactly why I share my feelings with my friends. When I need encouragement and support, they are there for me. If needed, they help me have a reality check when I need one.

What advice has someone given you? Was it bad or good? What happened? Please share.

Image: 'I saw the wind and it hugged+me.'
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Expectations This Year

expectationsIn What are your expectations for the year? From Blogush, Paul Bogush  shares,

“Each year at the end of the first class of the year I ask the kids a simple question…What do you expect this year??”

I experienced this from my trip to Canada last week. I expected to do lots of different things and taste lots of interesting foods. My expectations were high! But after a week, I learned that even though the scenery was stunning, there wasn’t really a lot of things to do. Many shops were closed for the season so we spent a lot of time driving around and just looking at the scenery. The food was much different than I expected. Everything tasted pretty bland. The mashed potatoes I was served in several places was just a potato mashed up with no seasoning, butter, or milk. Many restaurants were closed for the season. It wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t a bad trip but different from my expectations.

When talking to a group, whether students or adults, I think asking this question is important. Their expectations for the session, class, or year can have an impact on how they feel about the outcome.

It may help me better structure what I say if I know what the expectations are. Or, I may be able to let everyone know what I plan to do and state up front that I won’t meet their expectations. This gives them a chance to leave (without any hard feelings) or adjust their expectations.

I think of a person’s expectations are vastly different from the teacher’s objectives, this leaves to a lot of discontent on both sides.

If I am not meeting someone’s expectations, then they feel that I have wasted their time.

If they are not meeting my objectives because their expectations are different, then I feel frustrated and might even feel a lack of respect. I want them to understand and achieve my objectives but it isn’t a priority to them.

I think the best way for me to teach is to talk about expectations right from the beginning. I need to share my expectations and then listen to their expectations. If they are vastly different, maybe we can work out a solution in the beginning in order for all of us to adjust our expectations and meet somewhere in the middle. I’m not saying we have to lower the quality or value of the lesson but try to meet each other’s needs.

I might need to add some things to my lesson in order to meet expectations. I also might need to skip some things that aren’t necessary to meet my students expectations. Some things may be required and neither of us may change that. But once all of the expectations are out in the open, it helps the students or adults and myself have an open mind. It makes us all active participants in the lesson.

How do you deal with expectations? Please share.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Road Trip to Canada 2014

Last week we were in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. Here are the details of our trip.

Here is the link to my pictures.

9/27/14 – Saturday (St. Stephens, New Brunswick)

We got off the cruise ship in Boston and headed up to Canada by car. The trip seemed like it took forever and I was a little worried about the border crossing because the last time they gave us such a hard time. On the way, Don stopped at a flea market and then we had a lobster roll at a roadside stand in Kennebunkport. We finally arrived at the Scoodic Motel in St. Stephens, Canada around 7pm, only to find out that we were in the Atlantic Time Zone which means it was 8pm when we checked in. The room was really comfortable with 2 double beds, a refrigerator and microwave for only $69 CAD!

9/28/14 – Sunday (Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick)

DSC_0004We got on the road early and stopped in St. Johns for breakfast at Coras. This was recommended by the nice guys at the visitor center we passed. Then we walked around town for awhile. This is a cruise port but no ship was in and most of the shops were closed because it was Sunday. We drove through Fundy National Park on the way to Hopewell Rocks. Around 4pm we checked into the Hopewell Rocks Motor Inn. For $75, we have 2 double beds but no refrigerator, microwave, or even ice bucket. We went to the Chocolate River Inn and Restaurant where we had a lobster roll platter for $10 each. After dinner we went to Hopewell Rocks and parked outside the gates. We were told we could hike in to see the rocks after 5pm for free. It was beautiful there and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow when the tide is low!

9/29/14 – Monday (Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick)

DSCF0701After breakfast, we headed to Hopewell Rocks and had a wonderful time walking along the beach at low tide. It was amazing to see the huge rock formations that were almost 45 feet tall but when the tide is high, they just look like small islands. It was a cold and rainy day but that didn’t stop us. After a nice lunch in the park, we walked to see the mud flats. Then we drove to Alma to see the boats out of the water until the tide comes in. Then we came back to the motel to warm up and rest until dinner. It was a nice day.

9/30/14 – Tuesday (Baddeck, Nova Scotia)

DSC_0036After breakfast, we headed to Baddeck, Nova Scotia which was about a 6 hour drive. We stopped at the visitor center in Nova Scotia and the girl recommended that we take the North Umberland Trail which was the same amount of time as taking the major highway but much prettier along the coast. Along the way we stopped at a Lavender Farm which was interesting. We stopped for lunch in Pictou at Sharon’s Family Restaurant. By 4pm, we arrived at the Auld Farm B&B which was delightful! We had room 1 (Ben MacDui) with a double bed and bathroom located over the dining room. There was a nice dining room with cookies, tea, coffee, milk, and hot chocolate available. Breakfast is served from 7:30 – 9. We left to explore downtown Baddeck and ate dinner at a restaurant called Three Doors Down. When we returned, we relaxed in the livingroom where I knit and Don read his iPad.

10/1/14 – Wednesday (Cabot Trail)

DSC_0047We had a lovely breakfast at the Auld Farm and left around 8:30am to start on the Cabot Trail. We drove all day and looked at the beautiful sites! (Please check out our pictures!) I’m so glad we came here. I think you could do this either clockwise or counter clockwise because the ledges weren’t that bad at all. We had a nice picnic inside this picnic shelter that had a wood stove and was nice and warm. We got back to Baddeck around 4:30 and had dinner at Two Doors Down.

10/2/14 – Thursday (Yarmouth)

DSC_0037We spent most of the day driving from Baddeck to Yarmouth which took over 8 hours. On the way we stopped at Peggy’s Cove near Halifax. We stopped at the memorial for the flight that crashed in 1998. We also stopped at the light house which is one of the most photographed light houses in the world. Then we headed to our motel in Yarmouth called the Lakelawn Motel ($59/night). It was a nice room with a microwave and a small refrigerator. The bathroom window didn’t lock though and our TV didn’t work well so I had to get the manager to come work on the cable. He said he would have maintenance either fix it tomorrow or replace the TV. We had dinner at Marco’s which was an Italian restaurant across the street.

10/3/14 – Friday (Yarmouth)

DSC_0002We had breakfast at McDonalds and took the coastal road east of Yarmouth for awhile but we didn’t see anything. Then we drove around downtown Yarmouth and went to the Frost Park where they had a disc to stand on. When you talked while on the disc, you echoed. Once you get off the disc, there was no echo. Then we went to the Cape Forchu Lighthouse. On the way, we stopped to watch the ferry arrive from Portland, Maine. After that we headed west of Yarmouth for awhile and then on the way back, we stopped at an antique store. We ate lunch at Joann’s Quick ‘N Tasty. We stopped back at our motel to organize our laundry and met the maintenance man who was installing a new TV and cabinet in our room. Then we did our laundry. After laundry, we stopped at another antique store before returning to our room for a short nap. We had dinner at Joann’s again.

10/4/14 – Saturday (Truro)

DSC_0039On the way to Truro, we stopped at an antique store. Don found some postcards and I found a salt and pepper shaker set. We arrived at the Tidal Bore Inn around 1pm and checked in. Then we had lunch at Smitty’s which was okay. After lunch we drove around town and then hiked to 2 waterfalls in Victoria Park. Then we went to Maitland around 5pm to wait for the Tidal Bore. While there, we met a nice family visiting from Australia and we had a wonderful time talking to them. Don spotted a bald eagle sitting on the rock. He also was the first one to see the Tidal Bore arrive because it was about 30 minutes later than the tide charts said it would be (it wasn’t very big at all). Then we drove 5 miles to South Maitland to wait for the Tidal Bore to arrive. It was totally dark while we waited and we ended up hearing it arrive even though we really couldn’t see anything. It sure was cold and windy and misty while we were out there!

Things I Learned:

1. The signage on the Canadian roadways are somewhat different than what I’m used to. When I asked about them at the visitor center, I was told that many of them were new even to them!

2. The Bay of Fundy reminds me of when we visited the tide pools in Oregon.

3. Hopewell Rocks is an attraction under the Provincial government but it is not a Provincial park because it doesn’t have camping.

4. The entrance fee of $9 per person is good for 2 full days at Hopewell Rocks.

5. Baddeck has a population of around 800 in the winter and about 3000 in the summer.

6. It is cold enough that when the lake freezes, they can snow shoe across the lake.

7. Get fuel before you start on the Cabot Trail. There are some gas stations but all looked kind of old and didn’t have any credit card machine.

8. The washing machine took 3 loonys to work. (A Loony is a dollar) and the dryer took 4 quarters for 10 minutes.

9. In Australia, mutton is old sheep and tastier than lamb.

10. The Tidal Bore can be seen in the daytime but on a cloudy night, it can only be heard.

11. You can see the Tidal Bore in Maitland, NS, and it takes an hour to reach S. Maitland which is only 5 miles away.

Original Photos by Pat Hensley

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Name

nameIn What's In a Name? from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

What do you think of your name? Did you ever have occasion to change it?

I like my first name which is Patricia but growing up, I was always called Patty. Over the years, I spelled it many different ways such as Patti and Pattie but finally settled on Patty. When I ran for public office, my husband told me that I would get more votes by going by Pat since it was a non-gender name. I can tell how long someone has known me by what name they call me. My family and older friends call me Patty and people who became my friends after I was elected call me Pat.

My middle name was Ruth and I was named after my grandmother. I didn’t mind it but it was never used. When I got married, I changed my middle name to my maiden name so it would always be a part of me.

Growing up I was called Loony since my maiden name was Loon. At first I’m sure I was called that as teasing but eventually it just became a way to identify me because there were so many Pats in my school. I was called that through most of school days and some in college too. I decided when I came up with my username on most things I use it as part of my user name. Unfortunately, everyone wants to put an “e” in Loony.

So, tell me about your name. Please share!

Image: 'Hello, my name is anonymous'
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Friday, October 3, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/3/14

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

H&R Block Budget Challenge – “The H&R Block Budget Challenge is a free teen financial literacy program in the form of an online game that simulates real life as an adult: paying bills, managing expenses, saving money, investing in retirement, paying taxes and more. Participants play classroom against classroom and students against students in this learning-by-doing simulation to win$3 million in grants and scholarships.” (L:H; SA:M, SS, C)

Expedition insects“A new e-Book from the Smithsonian Science Education Center ‘ Giant deadly hornets, gorgeous fluttering butterflies and stealthy crawling stink bugs: readers cannot tear their eyes away from these fascinating creatures. They can discover these and more mesmerizing world insects in Expedition: Insects, an e-book written, illustrated and animated by the Smithsonian Science Education Center.” (L:E; SA:S)

Trading Card Creator – “The Trading Card tool gives students an alternative way to demonstrate their literacy knowledge and skill when writing about popular culture texts or real world examples. This interactive allows students to create their own trading card about a real or fictional person, place, object, event, or abstract concept. These cards are can be used with any type of book students are reading or subjects that they are studying, and make for an excellent prewriting exercise for students who are writing narrative stories and need to consider characters, setting, and plot. Specific prompts guide student through the various types of cards, expanding students' thinking from the basic information and description of the topic to making personal connections to the subject.” (L:G; SA:A)

Jeopardy Rocks – “Create an online jeopardy game in minutes.” (L:G; SA:A)

Meet People from the Past –See George Washington is viewed through the eyes of his family, friends, fellow revolutionaries and slaves.(L:G; SA:SS)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Monthly Review of Goals from September

GoalsSeptember  whizzed by because we did so much traveling. We were gone all month! We tend to exercise more when we are traveling so I did get my steps in on most days. 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
    6. June - Barbecue Ribs with my father’s secret barbecue sauce. This is the first time I’ve made ribs.
    7. July РThe plant engineer at the school gave me loads of squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. So, I diced up some chicken and saut̩ed it with the diced up squash, zucchini, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. I added oyster sauce and soy sauce too. It came out really tasty.
    8. August – Fantastic Meatloaf from the Trim Healthy Mama book. I tried several new recipes from this book. Some were good and others were just okay.
    9. September – I didn’t cook at all because we were traveling all month.
  2. Reach my target weight by the end of the year. – I gained weight this month due to a 2 week cruise to the Caribbean and then a 2 week cruise to Canada. I will have to work hard to try to reach my target weight.
  3. Knit a Fair Isle vest. (not started yet)
  4. Learn to chain ply some handspun yarn. (I finished this in July and I’m glad I tried it. I think I overplied the final yarn though. I need to learn to treadle slower so it doesn’t twist so tightly and kink up on itself.)
  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, May, June, July, August, and September.
  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)
    6. June - 139.99 miles (avg. 4.67 miles per day)
    7. July - 117.02 miles (avg. 3.77 miles per day)
    8. August – 139.24 miles (avg. 4.5 miles per day)
    9. Septemmber – 148.8 miles (avg. 5 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 did this for 2 Sundays out of the 4.
  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
    6. June – Spartan Up by Joe De Sena
    7. July – Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
    8. August – The Little Book Shop of Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
    9. September – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I’m happy with the exercise I had during this month but I’m not happy with my weight gain this month. I’ve loved traveling but it has its consequences. My mileage was higher than 4 other months this year which was a good thing.

Image: 'Goals
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Toot Your Own Horn

hornIn Jealousy or Revelry? From Sioux's Page, Sioux states,

“So the next time you look a little green-with-envy, think of how you can bask in that warmth, too.”

When I read this this post, it made me think about the times that I have done something good or rewarding and I’ve been hesitant to talk about it in fear of bragging or making others feel bad. In fact, I had a friend mention that I just liked attention and that I was a too boastful.

I am afraid that society has made people afraid to feel good about their actions. It seems like not only should we not talk about our own actions but we don’t praise the good that we see others do. Look at the news. Everything is negative and there are very few times we see the good in people. The few positive stores that are mentioned and people act bored or not interested. Bad news sells and good news doesn’t.

Many administrators are too busy putting our fires (dealing with problems) to adequately praise the teachers who are doing exceptional things. I think it is important for teachers to let their administrators know when they do something good. In fact, the good administrators appreciate it because it is refreshing to hear something positive.

There is nothing wrong with tooting your own horn. It is okay to feel proud of yourself and it helps your confidence and self-esteem. By doing so, you are being a great role model for your students. You can show them an appropriate way of sharing your good news without putting others down.

The ones who make you feel bad are the ones who wish they had something to brag about. When they say things to make you feel embarrassed rather than being supportive, it is time to confront them about their own actions rather than retreating back.

If you hear someone else tooting their own horn, help them share in the joy. Support their victories and make sure your words aren’t tearing them down. Be a good friend/colleague and help them shine. You can do this by telling them how proud you are of them or sharing their news with others (especially administrators who might be interested in this).

Do you toot your own horn? How do you do this? Please share.

Image: 'Royal Marine Playing The Last Post in+Afghanistan'
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