Friday, November 28, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/28/14

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

Dipity – “Dipity allows users to create free timelines online. Digital timelines are a great way to increase traffic and user engagement on your website. Dipity is the fastest and easiest way to bring history to life with stunning multimedia timelines.” (L:G; SA:A)

Smarty Pins – Fun geography game (L:G; SA:SS)

Time is Money – a Chrome app; shows the number of hours you have to work to have enough money to buy something you find listed with a price on the Internet. (L:G; SA:A)

Ask Smithsonian – short videos to use when introducing new lessons (L:G; SA:S)

Block Poster – Create any size wall posters with any size image (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US. It is a time to be thankful for the many blessings that have been given to us. It is a great time for families to come together and be thankful for blessings that they have as a family. I have been lucky enough to be given many blessings each and every day so I’m thankful for every day that I’m alive. There are too many things to list that I’m thankful for so I won’t bore you with them. Just know that I’m thankful to all of you for being a part of my life!

Image: 'Twin Toms'
Found on

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Writing Needs

writingIn What Writers Need from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

What do you need as a writer?”

I love writing, as you can tell from the number of posts I’ve written on this blog. I like writing almost as much as I like talking, which is a lot! This question had me thinking about what my needs for writing are and I realized that I don’t need much in order to write. It was fun to list them so here they are.

1. Time – this is the most important because I hate to be rushed when I write something.

2. Inspiration – I might hear something in the news, or see something that triggers a discussion with my husband which in turn becomes a blog post. I might read someone else’s blog post that makes me want to write a response (like this one). Usually my responses are too long to leave as a comment so I end up writing my own post.

3. My laptop – that is my tool of choice! Sometimes I jot notes down in a notebook so I don’t forget or I leave a voice memo on my phone, but the final writing is done on my laptop.

4. No interruptions – I like to get up early in the morning before my husband gets up so I can write with no interruptions. Sometimes I have to save what I’m writing and come back to it, but the best writing gets done when I’m not interrupted.

What are your needs for writing? Please share.

Image: 'Be seeing you'
Found on

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Places We Visited

Places We visited
Make yours @
Make yours @

Thanks to Doug Johnson and his post Where have you been?, I found Big Huge Lab’s Map Maker where I can see all the places I’ve been. I could pick either states or countries and since I know the only states I haven’t been to are Hawaii and Wisconsin, I picked countries. I feel like we have traveled a lot but when I look at the World Map, I haven’t touched the surface! I feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland! I want to hurry hurry hurry and see more of the world! So many places, so little time (and money!).

Check it out and let me know know – where have you been?

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Use of Technology

timeIn Wasting opportunities at ed tech conferences from Dangerously Irrelevant, Scott McLeod shares,

“I wish we had far fewer tools sessions and much more discussion about technology for the purpose of what?, with an emphasis on the what of deeper learning. What do you think?”

This statement had me really think about my own actions over the past few years. It seems like seven years ago I really was into all of the new tools and programs out there. I couldn’t wait to try all of the things and share them with everyone I knew.

Over the past few years I have even given presentations to help others try these new tools and use the different programs in the classroom. I think they were useful at the time.

But now, I think most people have moved beyond that. I don’t see too many new things out there to introduce to teachers. I think there are many variations of the same tools or programs that do the same things in various ways. Most of these things involve just working and practicing using them.

Now is the time to steer our conversations into using these techniques in the classroom for more effective teaching.

I recently went to a seminar on engaging the student in the classroom and was still surprised how it is still an issue and has been for over 30 years that I’ve been teaching. The problem has been that too many advertisements show new tools and programs as the magic for great teaching but there is no magic cure for teaching. Good teaching is just what it says it is – good teaching which may involve tools, programs, and strategies but it is the teacher who directs the teaching not the tools, programs, or strategies.

I also attended a Council for Exceptional Children meeting and that was the topic of discussion also. Teachers are still having that problem in the classroom.

So, I agree with Scott. It is time to start having more discussions on how we can use technology wisely and effectively in the classroom.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please share.

Image: 'wasting time'
Found on

Friday, November 21, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/21/14

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

Augmented Reality in Education – Augmented reality resources for education (L:T; SA:A)

NASA@HomeandCity – interactive site to see how technology developed by NASA affects our homes and our lives (L:G; SA:S)

Klondike Gold Rush – unit developed by the national park service for grades 2 – 8. (L:T; SA:SS)

Newsela – “Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news.” (L:T; SA:A)

Down for Everyone or Just Me – how to tell if the website you are trying is down for everyone or just for you (L:T; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Walking in Their Shoes

shoesIn Benefit of the doubt from Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson states,

“Seems we do this as a species a lot, especially with students. Presume guilt instead of innocence. Forget Hanlon's Razor (Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.) when somebody screws up.

Lighten up. Presume innocence, stupidity, and often a rational explanation. You'll be happier with the human race - and yourself.”

Too many times I am quick to judge people. If I’m annoyed or agitated, I always think the worst of people. I need to think about what it is like if I walked in their shoes.

When a salesperson is mean to me and I complain to my husband, he is always quick to say, “Maybe that person is just having a rough day.” He is much more generous and tolerant of people’s behavior than I am and I wish I was more like him.

I need to remember to do that more in the classroom. When a student doesn’t study or does poorly on a test, I need to be calm and privately question the student to find out what is the reason for this behavior.

Many of my students face obstacles at home that I never had to when I was growing up. I need to understand that they may face challenges like this and be more sensitive. I’m not saying that I should excuse bad manners or rudeness, but if the student shows some behavior that is out of character, I need to look closer at the source.

Sometimes a reprimand from me ends up with a quick apology from a student and we move on. If the student wants to argue or gets upset easily, I need to back off (not back down), calm down, and meet with the student privately. This way the student doesn’t have to put up a show and look tough. I might not be able to solve the student’s problem but it might help to just have someone listen to the problems. Some students feel like no one listens to them. I know this takes time but sometimes it is worth it to put the time in at the beginning than to deal with behavior that explodes later and the consequences are worse.

I have even discussed this with my students. I used to have two small stuffed animals on my desk. If my pretty pink and rainbow dragon was on the desk, I was in a good mood. If I ever put the green angry bull on my desk, it means I’m not having a good day and I need space. The students took this very seriously. One day, I had a student having a bad day and he came in and asked if he could borrow my bull to put on my desk. I told him absolutely! It was a great way for students to self-monitor their own behavior and to help others be more sensitive to their classmates.

So, now I try to bite my tongue before reacting to a student’s behavior and try to put myself in his or her shoes. It helps me from regretting my actions later. Sometimes it calls for strong action and sometimes it calls for a much gentler handling.

How do you feel about this? Please share.

Image: 'Blue power!'
Found on

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More than One Answer

roadsIn No One Right Answers Anywhere from Actualization, Walter shares,

“Today I’m announcing a game-changer. And once you let it sink in you won’t be able to look back. Ready? Here it is: there is no one right answer. And I’m not just talking about in classroom instruction and achievement assessments. This is bigger than that. There are no one right answers anywhere, at any time, in life.”

There may be times that there is only one right answer such as a math calculation or some known fact. But I feel that there is more than one way to arrive at any given answer and it is my job to help students learn that even though the answer might be important, there are multiple ways to arrive at this answer.

I have such a hard time when I’m helping my students with assignments from other classes. I may not show them the exact way that their teacher did or I’m told that it has to be done exactly the way the teacher showed them. I remember having the same conversation with my parents when they tried to help me with my homework.

When I give an assignment to my students, I make sure that they know there are usually more than one way to come up with the answer. As long as they don’t cheat or copy someone else’s answer, I’m happy with them getting the right answer. I may ask them to explain how they came up with the answer because it might help someone else in the process. But I’m not stuck on one way only. Sometimes I can learn a new way too.

Sometimes the student gets the right answer by luck and when sharing the process, I realize there is a flaw in this process. That opens up the discussion and we try to solve other problems the same way. The students are able to discover that this was more of an exception to the rule rather than a rule for all. I feel that my students learn more by doing this than just hearing me tell them how to solve the problem.

I feel this helps students learn better problem solving skills. They won’t be in school forever and someone won’t be there to always give them the answer. I want them to learn how to work through a process and look at all options. One option is definitely to go to someone else for help and I don’t want them to ever be ashamed of doing that. But I think that option should be the last resort. My students feel so good about themselves when they can solve a problem on their own.

But this is usually a slow process because so many of my students have faced failure. They are afraid to take new risks and fail again. I try to explain to them that getting the wrong answer is not the failure; it is not trying or taking the risk that is the true failure. By getting the wrong answer, it gives us a stepping stone towards success. You can now rule out that answer and work towards a better one.

I encourage students to solve the problem but if they have trouble, I share my way of solving the problem. Then I encourage them to look for other ways that this can be solved. They are so proud of themselves if they can find a new way. I think learning this skill will be important to making them successful in life.

How do you feel about having only one right answer?

Image: 'The CNCC'
Found on

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Carnival Splendor 2014

DSCF1306Last week we cruised on the Carnival Splendor. We had cruised on her before but it has been a long time. Our Captains were Luigi De Angelis and Candeloro Donato, Hotel Director is Niksa Pelic, and the Cruise Director is Malcolm “Woo Hoo” Burn.  I don’t know why our captains switched in the middle of the cruise but I noticed the different names on the daily schedule. The décor is pink and in some areas it looks like a pink zebra attacked. I like it but I think it has to grow on Don.

Here are notes about our adventure:

Here is the link to our pictures!

On the Way:
The three of us (our neighbor, David went with us) left SC around 3pm and arrived in Miami at 2am. We stopped at McDonalds for dinner and fun taking pictures of David wearing a McDonald’s bag around his head. It was impossible to find a hotel room so we ended up driving to Miami Beach and looking around. It was party central at 3am there and we were amazed. Around 4am we found a Colombian restaurant for a bite to eat which was packed with people. Then we decided to go to a public parking lot and take a nap until we could go to the port.

Day 1 (Embarkation):
On Sunday we drove to the port and boarded the Carnival Splendor. We met lots of nice people! We also saw another couple who cruised with us in August and they are at our dinner table. After lunch we walked around the ship. Then we decided to take an hour nap before the life boat drill. In the afternoon after the life boat drill we went up to the aft bar on Lido deck and bought a bucket of beer. We found the Facebook group and it was great meeting them face to face. Then since we were so exhausted, we took a nap until dinner time. After dinner we went to the Welcome Aboard show but was too tired to go to the late night comedy show. I decided I am way too old to do all night partying anymore!!

Day 2 (At Sea):
We ate breakfast in the dining room with Walt and Maggie and 4 other ladies from Illinois and Iowa. They were a lot of fun! Then we sat around and visited until it was time to go to the food demo. They have the same menu but I like tasting them! After the food demo we walked 3 miles around the track. We took a nap before dinner and it was formal night which means I had lobster tail and prime rib for dinner. After dinner we skipped the show and went to bed early.

Day 3 (Grand Cayman):
We ate an early breakfast and headed to the Spectacular Lounge to get our tender tickets. While we were there, we found out that our shore excursion (Cayman Shore Snorkel) was cancelled due to rough water. In fact, it was so rough that we didn’t drop anchor near Georgetown as expected but instead docked at Spott’s Bay. We were disappointed but decided to get off the ship and see what we would do. David found a vendor selling a snorkel excursion for 3 hours for $40 so we decided to go. We left at 9:15 in a bus which took us to a boat (Captain Bryan’s Sail and Snorkel). Jake, the Captain, took us to the Stingray Sand Bar where we held the stingrays, kissed them, and let them rub our backs. After that we went to the barrier reef and went snorkeling. The water was choppy and we didn’t stay in the water long. After that, we went to the coral garden for more snorkeling. We got back to the ship around 1:30. We were so hungry and tired! After a big lunch on the ship, we took a nap. We sat and listened to one of the bands before dinner but after dinner we went to bed.

Day 4 (Cozumel)

We had a lovely day in Cozumel on Wednesday! We took a cab to downtown ($8 for 3 people) and walked around town for a while. We found a place that sold $1 Coronitas so we had one when we got hot. Then we walked some more until lunchtime where we found this neat place to eat. Don and I had nachos while David ate some seafood soup. After that we shopped some more and David got a 15 minute massage for $10. Finally went to the grocery store to buy some diet pepsi (12 oz. for .50). Then we took a cab back to the ship and went across the street to this little bar. Don and I had a couple of buckets of beer before going back to the ship. We had a little snack before taking a nap until dinner.

Day 5 (Belize)
We met in the Morocco Lounge at 8am but we didn’t get off the ship until around 9pm. We met the group ashore for Cave Tubing and Lunch ($69). The bus ride was 1 ½ hours and our tour guide, David Brown, talked nonstop for the entire time. He was very interesting though and had a lot of great information about Belize. Then we got to the cave tubing where I got a large locker for $6 and left my bag there. We were given a life vest, helmet with light, and tube. Then we walked about 30 minutes up a trail before getting in the water. The guide, Elmer, tied all 8 tubes together and we floated through the caves. The caves with the waterfalls always amaze me. After tubing we had a lunch of chicken and rice. Then we got back to the tender around 4pm. We were the last ones on the last tender back to the ship so I’m so glad we took the tour with the ship instead of on our own! After cleaning up, we went to the lobby bar and listened to the band before going to the 6:30 show Vroom which was really good. We went to dinner after the show.

Day 6 (Roatan, Honduras)
We got off the ship around 8:30 and walked over to the beach at Mahogany Bay (about a 5 minute walk). We got 2 chairs in the shade and went snorkeling. We stayed at the beach about 3 hours and returned to the ship for lunch. I ran to arts and crafts which involved this girl giving me the kit and directions and then telling me to go figure it out. The ribbon flowers were too complicated for me so I brought them home as a gift for a friend. In the late afternoon we had a reception for Gold, Platinum, and Diamond members. After a nap, we had dinner and went to the show called Motown with Consuela Ivy.

Day 7 (At Sea)
This day went really fast! We had brunch in the dining room and off course I overate. After that we packed our suitcases and by then it was lunch time. I was still too full from brunch to eat anything. Then we walked 3 miles on the track. At 3, we went to tea and it was met some nice people. After that we took a nap until dinner. It was sad that it was our last dinner on the cruise but the prime rib was wonderful. It was time to say good bye to our wait staff and dinner mates.

Day 8 Debarkation
We had zone 1 tags and had to meet in the Black Pearl dining room by 7:30. By 8am we were off the ship and in our car. The luggage was on a carousel and we got our bags easily. It was the smoothest debarkation from Miami that we ever had. On the way home we stopped by my parents for about 40 minutes and we were home by 8pm.

Things I Learned:
1. It is always fun to meet people online and then get to meet them in person!
2. At Sea days can be just as fun as port days.
3. You can order a banana split at dinner off the children’s menu.
4. It is not too smart to book an excursion at the port after they cancel the ship’s tour due to bad weather. Luckily the weather turned out nice and all went well but it could have gone wrong too.
5. When you ask if the seafood soup has fresh or frozen seafood, it is a good place when they show you the kitchen and the fresh seafood.
6. Learn the exchange rate in a foreign country so you can change the local prices into your own currency to see if the prices are reasonable or not.
7. Belize used to be known as British Honduras.
8. There are about 350,000 people who live in Belize.
9. There are 4 major ethnic groups in Belize.
10. There are no trains in Belize at all.
11. It is illegal to cut the mangroves without a permit.
12. The fish and coral are more plentiful near the dock in Mahogany Bay.
13. I can’t help but overeat on a cruise ship. I really need to eat healthier on the ship.
14. It was fun cruising with a first time cruiser and seeing things with a fresh perspective.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Classrooms

joyIn Create Joyful Space from Practical Theory, Chris Lehmann  shares,

“I believe deeply that kids — and adults — can work hard in service of things they care about. I believe deeply that we, as people, can understand how meaningful, powerful work can be joyful, even when it’s hard.”

Just because something is hard work, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun! I have seen many classrooms where teachers never crack a smile because they believe if they smile, students won’t take them seriously or respect them. Some have told me that if it is fun, they aren’t working their students hard enough. This is not the way to prepare our students for the real world. This is not reality.

Some teachers don’t seem to even enjoy teaching and are just there for a paycheck or to reach retirement age. I feel so sorry for them. They aren’t happy so their classrooms reflect their attitude. Like a rolling snowball, this affects the students’ attitudes and behaviors. I like to walk by classrooms and look in the window. It warms my heart to see students looking happy while they learn. Usually the teacher has them engaged in some activity or is very animated while teaching. The teacher sets the tone for the classroom.

I want to set a good example for my students. By showing them that I appreciate my job and that I enjoy it can help them see that having the right career that suits them is important. They will learn how important it is to be happy in your job. Happy classrooms are the starting point for a student’s career exploration.
I’m not saying that because I smile and laugh that my job isn’t hard. Teaching is hard work. But I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy watching students understand concepts that they struggled with before. I like to watch them discover new learning and learn more about themselves in the process.

Sometimes boring paperwork is involved. Even going to boring meetings is required. That is part of the responsibilities I have in order to be a teacher. But the overall rewards heavily outweigh the inconveniences.

I love to smile and laugh with my students. Sharing the joy helps my students be more relaxed and receptive to new learning. If I’m stressed out and beat “serious” into them, my students seem to shut down. They don’t seem to remember as much and aren’t even willing to risk taking a chance of making an error. I want my students to see that an error isn’t a terror. That we all make mistakes but that is part of learning. As long as no one is hurt, we need to jump right in and try again. If we can’t succeed alone, it is alright to ask for help.

How do you feel about happy classrooms? Do you think they are important or not? If so, what do you do to make your classroom a happy environment? Please share.

Image: 'Happy lane'
Found on

Friday, November 14, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/14/14

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

Time Glider – “Web-based timeline software for creating and sharing history, project planning and more ... Create, collaborate, and publish zooming and panning interactive timelines. It's like Google Maps,
but for time.” (L:G; SA:A)

Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments – “Recreate an avalanche, dust storm, flood or tornado in the comfort of your own home by watching these short videos investigating extreme weather.” (L:T; SA:S)

Map Your Recipe – “you enter the ingredients of a recipe and it will show you where the fruits and vegetables that went into it were first domesticated.” (L:G; SA:LA, SS)

Word of the Day - NY Times word of the day (L:G; SA:A)

MyHistro – “Watch and read thousands of fascinating timelines, or create your own. Complete with text, video and pictures to create a dynamic timeline mashup. Using myHistro, you can combine maps and timelines seamlessly into one great presentation, convert any public timeline into a personal pdf file, or export it into Google Earth format for offline storage. All completed timelines can be embedded into your blog and websites for maximum exposure.” (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/14/14

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

Knoema – “access to a very powerful and easy-to-use service to handle and visualize data and statistics from all around the world on numerous topics.” (L:G; SA:A)

Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People – “This page includes links to each of the individual Music Theory pages I've created in PDF form.” (L:G; SA:FA)

ThingLink “Easily create interactive images and videos for your websites, infographics, photo galleries, presentations and more!” (L:G; SA:A)

Youngzine“Youngzine is a one-of-a-kind Web site where children can learn about current news and events shaping their world -- in a simple, engaging and interactive manner. Our goal is to help parents and educators create a vibrant community of globally aware young citizens in an increasingly connected world. Along with news stories written specifically with our young audience in mind, Youngzine strives to inform using fun trivia, compelling visuals and videos.” (L:E,M; SA:LA, SS, S)

Picadilo – “Picadilo's array of editing tools consists of many different and unique instruments to help you in obtaining the exact results you want: brushes, selections, effects and anything else that has the power to enhance photographs.” (L:G; SA:A)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Looking Ahead

PlanningIt is now November and I’m already starting to think about my goals for next year. I am thinking about what I want to accomplish next year.

I think I want to work on goals in the following areas:

Personal improvement, crafts, hiking, reading.

I am thinking about ways to improve my health and eating habits.

I also want to improve my knitting and spinning skills.

I want to be out hiking more.

I want to push myself to read things out of my normal reading habits.

I don’t have any definite goals yet but I want to have a rough idea of where I want to go.

During the next month I plan on writing more specific goals that I plan on working towards for 2015. I don’t want to just write down some goals that I thought up quickly. I want to think and plan hard for next year.

Sometimes in my classroom, I expect my students to come up with these goals or come up with decisions at a moment’s notice. I don’t give them enough time to think about them and do some planning. Just like I am planning ahead of time, I need to give my students the same amount of planning time.

Are you thinking about your goals for next year? What major areas of your life do you need to work on? Please share.

Image: 'Maze Puzzle (Blender)'
Found on

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veteran’s Day


November 11th is a US holiday that honors the people who served in the US Armed Forces. It was made into a holiday by Woodrow Wilson in 1919.

I’m not sure that enough young people respect and appreciate all that veterans of the Armed Forces have done for them. I’m not sure the veterans feel appreciated for all that they went through. I think it is important to impress upon my students that this is an important day and we need to always remember what it stands for.

If you live in the United States, I hope you take the time to thank a veteran for the sacrifices that they made for Americans.

Image: 'Veterans Day parade'
Found on

Monday, November 10, 2014

Handwork in the Classroom

handworkI recently listened to a Knit Picks podcast talking about handwork in the classroom at the Cedarwood Waldorf School in Portland Oregon. According to the web site – “Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head.” It was a really interesting philosophy and wondered why we don’t have more of this in the schools.

I did some research and found the following information:

From the Journey School:

1st Grade - “At seven years old, a child enters a new phase of development. Expanding neural connections between the two hemispheres of the brain man that for the first time the two sides of the brain can communicate with each other effectively. This is the ideal time to start knitting when each hand has a separate but coordinated activity to perform. Knitting enhances intellectual development by building neural connections, and helping form efficient pathways for doing, feeling and thinking.

2nd Grade – “Human beings use their hands in infinite ways and recent research confirms the inter-connectedness between hand agility and brain development. Working with the hands expands neural connections in the brain, improving performance in other academic areas. Building respect and admiration for the work of the hands while engaged in enjoyable activities that require patience and perseverance to complete, is the task of handwork”

3rd Grade – “At nine years old the child enters a turning point in childhood, and takes a big step towards the consciousness of adulthood. As a child begins to explore the necessary skills for living, handwork subliminally answers many questions and builds confidence in a child’s ability to face the future.”

4th Grade – “Human beings are people of action, intellect and emotion. Many educational systems tend to focus on the intellect at the expense of the education of the whole person. Steiner inspired education aims to serve the needs of the whole human being: Head, Heart, and Hands. The involvement in handwork, challenges the child to learn from the material through to the conceptual and vice-versa. During this process the child experiences development on an emotional, social, practical and intellectual level.”

5th Grade – “Handwork is the education of the will. “The will is connected to thinking. It is the task of every Steiner inspired teacher to help children become clear, imaginative thinkers, human beings who can go into any profession or any area of work with new, creative ideas – ideas that will be urgently needed in the 21st century.” (Patricia Livingston)”

There is obviously a strong connection between handwork and the brain. While involving my students with handwork, I can also incorporate the subject areas also.

Reading/Social Studies – Students can research the history of their particular handwork and share what they have learned. Students might want to read more about a specific technique they are interested in.

Writing: Students can write about what they are doing, explain the process, or share how it makes them feel. They can keep a journal about how they are progressing.

Math – A lot of handwork involves measurement and counting.

Science – Researching how handwork improves the brain would be enlightening for students.

Social Skills – Students can learn a new skill and help each other to improve. This involves listening and communication skills.

I would like to incorporate more handwork in the classroom. Do you do this? If so, what kind? Please share.

Image: 'Entrelac Scarf'
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/7/14

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

How Things Fly – “What makes an airplane fly? How does a spacecraft stay in orbit? Why does a balloon float in the air?What are you waiting for? Come and find out!” (L:G; SA:S)

Your Life on Earth – “Explore BBC Earth's unique interactive, personalised just to you.Find out how, since the date of your birth, your life has progressed; including how many times your heart has beaten, and how far you have travelled through space.Investigate how the world around you has changed since you've been alive; from the amount the sea has risen, and the tectonic plates have moved, to the number of earthquakes and volcanoes that have erupted.Grasp the impact we've had on the planet in your lifetime; from how much fuel and food we've used to the species we've discovered and endangered. (L:G; SA:A)

Comprehension Units – “These research-based units facilitate close reading, precise questioning based on evidence in the text, and focused discussion to enable comprehension of the entire text. Read-aloud and paired text lessons embody the most effective research-proven instructional practices to support student comprehension. Units are based on superb, carefully selected leveled books, with authentic paired passages. The easy-to-use alignment tool allows you to see how each lesson aligns with Common Core and state standards.” (L:E; SA:LA)

Nature Sound Map – “A group of professional nature recordists from around the globe have collaborated to develop Nature Soundmap, an enjoyable and interactive way of exploring the natural sounds of our planet. Combining high-quality field recordings with the latest satellite imagery, the project brings together some of nature’s most beautiful, interesting and inspiring sounds.” (L:G; SA:A)

PhotoMath – a windows and iphone app (android app is coming out in 2015); “PhotoMath reads and solves mathematical expressions by using the camera of your mobile device in real time. It makes math easy and simple by educating users how to solve math problems.” (L:G; SA:M)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Acting Crazy

playIn The End of Freedom from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

“What is the craziest thing you ever did as a kid?”

I remember playing outside in the neighborhood when I was a child. When it was time for dinner, mothers would stand on their front steps and call their children by name. Sometimes you waited and let them call you twice but if your middle name was ever used along with your first name, you went running…or else. You never wanted to find out what the “else” was! In the summer, after dinner, we were allowed to play in the neighborhood but you were told to come home by dark.

We used to take big refrigerator boxes and make towns out of them. We would draw on them and paint them and cut holes for windows and doors in them. The imagination made the possibilities endless.

I was a quiet kid who followed the rules. I really never did anything crazy that I can recall. I was the youngest of three girls and my sisters were ten and twelve years older than me. I never really had a chance to do anything rebellious or crazy. I felt like I had three mothers watching me every minute and I couldn’t wait to go away to college.

I think the craziest thing I did was when I applied for college. I was underage and knew my parents would never let me go far away to college because we couldn’t afford it. I applied to the one university and forged their permission on the application. I never thought of the consequences I would face if I was accepted. I never thought about the financial implications of being accepted either. I just had faith that I would be accepted and that I would find a way to pay for it. This faith helped me get through the tough times over the four years I attended the university of my dreams.

I like to share this craziness with my students (not the part about the forging my parent’s names) but about doing what was necessary to go after my dreams. I believed in myself and knew that I had it in me to do what I needed to do to achieve my goals.

What is the craziest thing you ever did as a child? How has it helped you later in life. Please share.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

If My House Was On Fire

fireIn If your house were on fire... from Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson.

"If your house were on fire, what would you grab on the way out?"

When I first started teaching, it was drilled in our heads that if we lost our grade books, we would lose our jobs. Any time I left my classroom, I took my gradebook. It went everywhere with me, even the restroom!

Years ago, our house caught on fire in the middle of the night. While my husband ran around cutting off the breakers, I collected important things and left the house. The oil furnace caught on fire and the fire department put out the fire quickly. When they left, we stood in the driveway looking at each other, thankful that we just had smoke damage in the house. My husband asked me what I grabbed on the way out and the only things I had were my dog and my gradebook! For many years, that has been a standing joke.

Now that we are Red Cross volunteers, we have helped needy families and know what documentation is needed to get help.

Now I know that if we had a house fire, here are the things I would grab:

My purse which holds my driver’s license (which is proof of address), credit card, and check book.

My laptop.

My husband’s medicine bag.

As long as I have these three things, all other things in the house are sentimental. I would hope that we don’t lose them in a fire, but I could live easily without them.

I know that I have too many “things” that I think I value but when it comes right down to it, I value them because they make my life fun or comfortable. Yet many of the things I own are not necessary. They are true luxuries.

By thinking about these things, I really appreciate what I have more.

This would be a great lesson for our students to do. It would be interesting to see what things our students value most. I would have them list the things they would grab and give an explanation why these things are important to them.

What would you grab if your house was on fire and why?

Image: 'Neighbor's House on Fire'
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Letter To Verizon Wireless

attitude(Yesterday I had crummy service at a local Verizon store which is unusual because I normally have good service there. When I tried to email a complaint to the company I found it impossible. You can contact support about anything except a problem with customer service. I called and was told that I could mail a letter or fax a letter but that was the only way. In today’s world and with Verizon wanting to show that they are technologically advanced, this is not the way to show it. They sell data plans but they don’t want people to have a way to email the company if there is a problem. I felt like they were making this as difficult as possible as a way of hoping that I would go away. Instead, I’m posting my letter on line and would be interested in seeing if I get any response. )

To Whom It May Concern,

I was very disappointed in the customer service I received today (11/3/14 at 11:45am) at the Verizon store at 365 Harrison Bridge Road in Simpsonville, SC. I have been a loyal customer for many years and if you look at my record, you will see that I have purchased numerous items from this store. Over time, I have recommended Verizon to many family and friends. I usually rave about how great Verizon is and the great customer service that I normally get but today was not that kind of day.

I went into the store because I wanted to know what plan was available to add on to my phone because we are going on a cruise to the Caribbean and Mexico. I know I could have called but I wanted to have a live human help me. A couple of months ago I did the same thing when I asked about adding Canada on my plan and the customer service rep immediately helped me get this information. I had hoped to do the same thing today.

I also wanted to know if you could see when I bought this LG Bluetooth mono headset (HBM – 260) and see if it was still under warranty. It has broken in two places: the hook that holds it on my ear and the cushion on the sound piece. If it was not under warranty, I planned on buying a new headset.

I was helped by a tall man wearing a gray sweater with a distinct accent but I didn’t notice any name tag. I asked him for help about the available plans and he told me that I needed to call to get that information or he could call there and put me on the phone but it was going to take a long time. If I wanted to do that, I could have done that at home.

When I asked about my headset, he immediately had a rude attitude and did not look up the information I asked for. He told me that it wasn’t under warranty and that Verizon would go broke if they replaced things like this. This is not how I feel that I should have been treated. When he kept making me feel like I was trying to get something for nothing and that I was not a valued customer, I walked out without even considering buying a new headset.

Please let me know if this is the trend for how Verizon plans on treating their customers. I would like to know this so that I can consider looking at other options for meeting my mobile needs. Thank you.

Image: 'Deepak Chopra No matter what the situation,+remind+yourself+I+have+a+choice'
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Monday, November 3, 2014

Monthly Review of Goals from October

GoalsOctober was a tough month because we were on the road most of the month in Canada, New England, and New York. Since we were in the car most of the time, we didn’t exercise much. 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 – The plant engineer at the school gave me loads of squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. So, I diced up some chicken and sautéed 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.
    10. October – I didn’t cook anything new since we weren’t home much.
  2. Reach my target weight by the end of the year. – I gained more weight this month due to eating everything and little exercise.
  3. Knit a Fair Isle vest. – I finally started it! I finished my gauge swatch and started on the ribbing.
  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.) – Started a new Loop batt and will try this again.
  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, September and October
  2. Daily - Do strength exercises for 30 minutes each day. – I have done this very well for October.
  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. September – 148.8 miles (avg. 5 miles per day)
    10. October - 108.2 miles (3.5 avg. miles per day) – this has been my lowest mileage all year so far
  4. Weekly - Keep a journal and write down 5 things that I’m thankful for – I need to do better with this and haven’t done it much in October.
  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
    10. October – Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney

My mileage was really low this month. I need to do better with this, eating, and keeping my journal. I was excited about starting my fair isle vest!

Image: 'Goals
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