Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jerry’s Magic – Book Review

I recently read the book Jerry’s Magic by W. W. Rowe. This is the review of this book (I am not being paid to give this review).

I loved the introduction or warning that the author starts the book off with and it had me hooked! I think anything with magic would interest most readers!

The story is about a ten year old boy who is coping with a life without his father who was killed in the Big War. He lives with his mother and uses his “magic” to cope with life.  It was an easy and fun story to read. I liked the story and was excited that the ending leads the reader to learn the story continues in another book.

This would be a good book to use for discussions on magic, death of a parent, lying, con artists, honesty, and homeless people.

I could see this book in a school library or a classroom. It would be appropriate for older elementary school children and younger middle school students.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fiber Lesson

Recently I sat in on a class that my colleague taught on fiber and dyeing. I had mentioned a year ago that I wanted to learn to dye my own yarn and she invited me to sit in on this class. I’m so glad that I did!

She started off by passing around a cotton boll. We learned to gin the cotton which means we tore the seeds out of the cotton. Then we took the cotton and pulled it slightly apart to try to spin it with our hands. We also tried some spindles and a spinning wheel. I was surprised how different cotton is from the animal fibers that I usually spin. Cotton is much harder! I also learned that it is illegal to grow cotton in South Carolina without a license. From my research, I think the government is afraid that the boll weevil will demolish the cotton crops and devastate our farmers so only licensed growers may grow cotton. The penalties for growing cotton seem even worse than being caught growing marijuana!

Next we learned how to process flax. We took the bundles of flax and did some “breaking and skutching” which breaks the stalks and removes the fiber. Next was hackling where we threw the fiber on a bed of nails and pulled them through as if combing them. What was left was the fiber that a person would spin. To spin the fiber, you would need a distaff (a long vertical pole) and you would need to spin it wet. We didn’t do that part but it was interesting to see how much flax you start out with and how little fiber you end up with at the end of the process.

Next we learned to dye things in the indigo bath. The indigo bath came out in a garbage pail and smelled really stinky! We used rubber gloves to put our items in the bath. The students dyed tshirts but I dyed some raw Knit Picks fingering weigh yarn that was in a skein. My yarn had to be wet in order to absorb the dye. I dipped the dye in the bath and held it under the water to absorb the dye. Meanwhile the stench made my eyes water! When I thought it absorbed the dye enough, I squeezed as much liquid out of the yarn as I could. Then I hung it up to dry but left the class before it dried. When I brought it home, I rinsed it in water and gentle soap (Soak or Euclan) and a lot of the blue dye came out. Then I hung it up to dry. I love how it turned out!

You can see the pictures from the class HERE.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Friday, March 27, 2015

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 3/27/15

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

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Text 2 Mind MapType an outline in the text area and you can then change it to a mindmap  (L:G; SA:A)

My Study Life – “It's time to say goodbye to your paper planner. My Study Life is everything your paper planner is and more. Rotation schedules, assignments, revision, exams? My Study Life has it covered on all of your devices. Oh, and did we mention it's free?” (L:G; SA:A)

EconEdLink – “EconEdLink is the leading source of economic and personal finance lessons for K-12 teachers and their students.” (L:G; SA:A)

Sight Words – “is a comprehensive sequence of teaching activities, techniques, and materials for one of the building blocks of early child literacy. This collection of resources is designed to help teachers, parents, and caregivers teach a child how to read. We combine the latest literacy research with decades of teaching experience to bring you the best methods of instruction to make teaching easier, more effective, and more fun.” (L:E; SA:LA)

Spent is an online game designed to teach players about the challenges of living on minimum wage employment. You choose a job which will provide the wages they have to survive on for a month. Then there are challenges that you have to handle.  After each choice your account balance is adjusted. (L:H;  SA:SS, C)

Original Image: Tools by Pat Hensley

Thursday, March 26, 2015

No More Common Core in SC

I was so excited to hear that Common Core Standards Dead in South Carolina!

I understand the idea behind Common Core standards but I didn’t agree with them. I think it was taking away basic skills that are important for our children to learn. I think we were trying too hard to make all children in our country be the same instead of teaching individual children according to their needs. Let’s face it; children in different areas of the country are raised differently with different values, different cultures, and different socioeconomic backgrounds. To expect all of these children to learn at the same rate is totally ridiculous.

I’m glad to see that they have brought cursive writing back (which was taken away with Common Core Standards). Cursive writing helps fine motor skills, and an important tool for cognitive development. Some researchers believe that cursive writing can even ease symptoms of dyslexia. 

Also returning is the requirement that students know their multiplication facts in grade 4. This is such an important skill for children and is the foundation for learning harder math skills. I’m not sure how students could progress without knowing their multiplication tables. Or maybe these were being taught anyway even though it was not required.

Some people complain that our new standards are harder. From the examples I’ve seen, I think they are more specific. Hopefully these will help guide teachers in their lessons.  I know that our new standards will have their problems too but I don’t believe there is a perfect set of standards that will magically make all of our students successful. I believe that we need to do the best we can and expect our students to do the best they can.

What is your opinion of Common Core Standards? How do you feel about cursive writing and multiplication tables? Please share.

Image: 'My first attempt at #cursive writing...' 
Found on flickrcc.net

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Holding Public Officials Accountable

In Texas Bill Would Make Recording Police Illegal, a Texas representative is trying to pass a bill that would not allow a private citizen to film police within 100 feet of an officer.

I don’t understand what they are afraid of? What are they afraid that someone will record?

It seems to me that this is a safeguard for the police and the person involved. Neither party can say something happened and this is evidence that shows the incident. The more people who film what happens make the evidence stronger. If one video shows one thing and another shows something different, one of the videos has been tampered with.

I feel the same way about my classroom. I don’t care if anyone videos my class or not because I don’t do anything in there to worry about. I should be acting the same way whether I’m being filmed or not. Since I felt this way, I assured parents that they were welcome to observe my class but they just had to check in with the main office first for security reasons. I didn’t care if they let me know because I was proud of my students and the way I teach. If I worry about doing something that someone might see, then maybe I need to reexamine the way I’m teaching.

When I was in fourth grade, I had a teacher who physically abused the students in her class. I believe if there had been a video on this teacher, this would never have happened. I don’t understand why the other teachers didn’t do something about it either because they would have heard or seen something that went on.  She would scream at us if we got a wrong answer and then drag students out of the chair by their hair and bang them up against the cement wall. Luckily I was a good student and studied so that didn’t happen to me! I think back and wonder what ever happened to many of these students. I wonder if they suffered in future grades because of the trauma that happened there.

I also had a former student teacher that was accused of abusing a student. The student was angry because he failed a test that the student teacher gave him. This was his way of getting back at him. Luckily I had been in the back office and the angry student didn’t realize this. I was able to vouch for the student teacher that nothing happened. If this student teacher had been alone, this could have ruined his future career! If there were cameras to video the classroom, this would not have even been an issue.

I think filming public officials helps hold them accountable. If they are in a public place, than anyone should have the right to film their actions. This is America and not some dictatorship! Taking away this right is one more example of how the government is eroding our rights little by little.

What do you think? Should this bill pass or not? Why or why not? Please share.

Found on