Thursday, December 31, 2020

Thinking of January

It is at this time that I think of how I want to start the new year. I don’t like resolutions, but I do like setting goals. This might be something you want to do so when you see your students again, you will be able to share examples with them.

Here are some ideas:
  • Reflection of the previous year
  • Word of the Year
  • Goals for the Year (to be reviewed monthly)
What I like about the new year is that it makes me feel like I have a fresh new start. I start with a clean blank slate and I can make this year whatever I choose to make it.

I am not powerless. My mental attitude can make a big difference on how this year turns out. There are many things I can’t control but the one thing I can control are my own actions.

Reflecting on the previous year helps me see what changes I might want to make in the upcoming year.

My word of the year helps me stay focused on what mental attitude I want to have.

Reviewing my goals monthly keeps me on track and makes my goals more likely to be accomplished.

Once I have these done, I will have my students do the same activities and keep in a journal. Every month, I will have them review their word and their goals to see if they are moving forward. Each month gives them a brand new start if they need the motivation to continue to work towards their goals.

What plans do you have for the new year? Please share.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Smallpox - Stamp

Now that the Coronavirus vaccine has come out, there is a lot of news about it on the media. Students may be overwhelmed by all this information. No one really knows how effective the vaccine will be and what side effects may come from it.

This would be a good time to discuss the smallpox epidemic and the vaccine that eradicated it.

The origin of smallpox is unknown and dates back to the Egyptian Empire. It was so devastating that three out of every ten people afflicted with it died. Those who didn’t die usually were scarred terribly.

The World Health Organization started a plan to get rid of smallpox in 1959. Due to lack of money, personnel, and countries willing to work together in addition to the lack of vaccines, it was not successful. In 1967, the plan was put in effect again. At this time, many countries were able to make a higher quality freeze-dried vaccine. There was also a new bifurcated needle, a way to detect and investigate new cases, and a mass vaccination campaign (like we have today).

By 1980, smallpox had been eradicated totally in every country.

In 1978, the United Nations issued four commemorative stamps to mark the Global Eradication of Smallpox.” The four stamps consist of 13-cent and 31-cent stamps for use at the NY headquarters of the United Nations. An 80-centime and a 1.10-franc of a common design were used at the UN’s European offices in Geneva, Switzerland.

The two US stamps were designed by H. Auchli of Switzerland. His design showed the smallpox virus as seen through a microscope in black, with a pink and blue background. The Geneva stamps were designed by E. Weishoff of Israel. His design consisted of two globes, one was infected by the disease and the other was disease-free. There were sheets of 50 stamps, with four marginal vertical inscriptions.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

End of Year Review

In End of Year Review by Plant Based Bride, she asks 10 questions. I used her 10 questions to review my year.

Describe 2020 in one sentence. (2020 has been a year of unexpected results.)
  1. What’s one way your life has changed for the better? (I did a lot of things around our house that I’ve been putting off for a long time.)
  2. What is the biggest challenge you faced? (Teaching a graduate course online that involved teachers teaching small children reading, math, and writing.)
  3. What would you go back and change (under your control) and why? (I would have started this plant-based diet earlier in the year.)
  4. What major life lesson did you learn? (I can't trust the media to tell the truth at all.)
  5. List your Aha moments. (Plant-based diets really help me lose weight. I need to eat smaller portions if I want to lose weight. Just exercising won’t help me lose weight.)
  6. Did you achieve your goals this year? (Most of them)
  7. If so, how? (Reviewing my goals on a monthly basis.)
  8. If not, why? (One goal was almost impossible to achieve and I didn’t know it when I set the goal.)
  9. Set just one primary goal for 2020 using S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time sensitive) (Lose at least 5 lbs.)
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Monday, December 28, 2020

After-Holiday Blues

Now that the holidays are over, life will get back to “normal.” It is time to clean up and pack up holiday decorations. All the adrenaline rush of seeing family and friends, whether in person or on a video chat is gone from our bodies. Many stores are giving sales so they don’t have to store all their Christmas decorations and supplies. Most vacation days are unstructured and there is empty time on our hands.

Many people will experience a letdown after all the excitement. It happens often and is a normal emotion to feel.

It is important to prepare students for this. I find that if I know it can happen and that is is okay to feel this way, it helps me get through the tough time.

I find that taking little naps or finding quiet things to do that make me happy help me get over the blues. I can establish small routines that I do every day and the routine helps me get back on track.Many of my students are glad to return to school for this reason. Getting back into a routine helps to bring normalcy into their lives.

Encouraging students to write in a journal might help them express their feelings. Maybe they prefer to draw and can have a sketch journal.

How do you get rid of the after-holiday blues? Please share.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Friday, December 25, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 12/25/20

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

Nailed It – “During a thoroughly entertaining interactive session at ISTE 2020 last week, Tana Ruder, Adam Phyall, Carl Hooker (who also did a hilarious Lip Sync presentation), and Christina Zientek showed how you could use the concept from the hit T.V. show, Nailed It! in your classroom. If you are looking for ways to improve community, do Brain Breaks, and just have some fun with your students, their suggestions are awesome.” (L:G;SA:A)

Auto Draw – “AutoDraw is a new kind of drawing tool. It pairs machine learning with drawings from talented artists to help everyone create anything visual, fast. There’s nothing to download. Nothing to pay for. And it works anywhere: smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc. AutoDraw’s suggestion tool uses the same technology used in QuickDraw, to guess what you’re trying to draw.” (L:G;SA:A)

Winter Holiday - suggestions for winter activities in the classroom (L:G;SA:A)

CoSpaces – Making AR and VR in the classroom (L:G;SA:A)

Pick Your Plate – “A Global Guide to Nutrition is an educational nutrition game that will help teach students about building healthy meals while using nutritional guidelines from countries around the world!” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas 2020

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and I hope you and your family have a safe and merry Christmas. However you celebrate Christmas with your family, may it be full of love and laughter!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Newsletter 2020

This year has been a wild ride and full of craziness. It was hard to plan anything so we played everything by ear.


We returned home from FL so we could pay taxes and deal with any issues at home. It was cold and we missed Florida’s warmth.


We went to Myrtle Beach to the SCCEC conference. This was my last year as a board member and Child and Adolescent Network Coordinator. We had planned to leave from Myrtle Beach and head to Florida but Covid numbers were increasing and we were unsure of what the future would hold. So, we headed back home instead and we are glad we made that decision.


We spent the month in self-quarantine, only going grocery shopping every other week. We wore masks and gloves when we went shopping.


April brought an unexpected event. My parent’s neighbor contacted us to tell us that a tornado hit my parents’ house and damaged the roof. So, we headed immediately to Florida and had to deal with that. It took a lot of time and energy to get estimates, especially when some companies never showed up!


We found a great roofer who put a new roof on my parents’ house at a reasonable price. We did some other minor repairs before heading back home so I could teach my Furman course.

I was able to finalize probating my parents’ estate and Don and I bought my parent’s house from the estate.

June and July:

My Furman course that I usually teach every July in person, became an online course over June and July. This was very challenging, but my students handled it well. We ran a summer program with real children who were taught by my students on Zoom. It was nice not to have to drive to work but it was very mentally exhausting to teach this way.

We were also supposed to go to Minnesota for my annual knitting retreat but that was canceled due to Covid. I was so disappointed but the organizers set up a Discord app channel so we could talk regularly and then zoom meetings were set up every week so we could meet online. That was a really nice thing to do.

August – September:

We did some things around our house that we have put off for many years. We kept saying that eventually, we would get around to it. Since we were stuck at home, we figured it was time to get around to it. After getting things done, we felt good about the progress we had made.


We returned to Florida as new homeowners. We are now officially Snowbirds and will probably stay here until March or April.


We worked on the house and started making it our own place. It is fun to look and make plans at some work we want to do. I planted some new plants and did some weeding. We spent some time at the beach too which was wonderful.


Our daughter Dyanna and her husband Earl came down to visit for a week. We celebrated her birthday and Christmas early before they had to return back to South Carolina. Unfortunately, a cold spell hit and they couldn’t go to the beach much. On the day we went to the beach, it was still too cool to go swimming. After they left, we had a few nice days where we could enjoy the beach and go swimming. We will have a quiet Christmas here and just enjoy the beautiful weather.

It’s been a tough year worrying about catching the virus but we made lots of progress on things we put off. Don worked a lot on his postal collection and I got a lot of knitting done.

May you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Quality Not Quantity

Next year I will be attending a knitting retreat and I’m one of the knitwear designers in the Designer Showcase. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should be in it since I haven’t published a lot of designs this year. When I talked with a group of people about it, someone pointed out to me that the number of patterns I published wasn’t as important as the quality of patterns I publish.

That struck a chord with me because I feel that way about my students’ work.

When I give my class a writing assignment, many times, someone will ask me how long it has to be. They want to know the number of pages or words that I expect. I can understand what they are feeling because I remember asking the same questions. Now as a teacher, I understand why my teachers would respond that the amount needed to be whatever it took to full complete the assignment. They were looking for quality and not quantity. I know some teachers even limited it to no more than a certain amount because there was always that one student that went overboard and thought more meant better. I had one teacher who told us that our grade would be lowered the more “fluff” that we added.

Yet, I believe students need guidance. I hated the answer I got and I try not to do the same thing to my students. I don’t like vague answers and I feel more comfortable with guidelines. Without guidelines, I spend more time worrying about the details than about the topic. I stress about whether I have given enough detail rather than whether I have given enough evidence. This affects the quality of what I’m writing. Even when I’m writing here, I try not to worry about how many words I write but rather whether I’m getting my point across clearly.

I think it is important to tell students what I expect. If I expect to see just a sentence, a paragraph, several paragraphs, or pages, students need to know this. I think it is better to give students some idea of my expectations so I may say, “Please write at least 3 paragraphs on this topic.” Or I might say, “ I expect one to two pages.” This tells students that I want some details. Once they have some idea of what is expected, they can focus on the actual work and not the rules.

I want to know if my students understand a concept or topic. I want to know if they can support their ideas and statements in their writing. Basic writing rules (Complete sentences, punctuation, grammar) always apply but the amount of writing expected should be made clear to students. This should not be a guessing game for students.

How do you share your writing expectations with your students? Please share.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Monday, December 21, 2020

Pan American Games - First Day Cover

The Pan American Games is a sporting event held with athletes from North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is held every four years. The Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) chooses the host city for the games and also determines which sports will be contested. PASO is an affiliate of the International Olympic Committee. There are 36 sports with 400 events and over 6000 athletes compete from 41 different countries.

The first Pan American Games were held in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was supposed to be held in 1942 but was postponed because of World War II.

The US has been the top performer at all of the games except in 1952. Canada has participated in every game except the first.

The games feature some unique sports not seen in the Olympic games such as jai alai, bowling, and water skiing. Sometimes a sport is featured here as a possibility for it showing up in the Olympics. Equestrian sports first appeared in 1951 at the games.

Sometimes the Pan American Games are a springboard for athletes wanting to go to the Olympics.

The next Pan American Games will be held in Santiago, Chili in 2023.

Original photo of First Day Cover from husband’s collection by Pat Hensley

Principal Sources:

Friday, December 18, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 12/18/20

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

Quizziz – “Find and create free gamified quizzes and interactive lessons to engage any learner.” (L:T;SA:A)

Puzzle Calendar – Math puzzles for every day (L:H;SA:M)

Poster Generator – “This activity is designed to teach you how to create a template for displaying standard information about a subject; in this case, Supreme Court Chief Justices. This activity could easily be amended for a variety of other subjects as well -e.g. country, chemical element, author, animal, etc.).” (L:T;SA:A)

Christmas Jeopardy Game – Fun game during Christmas time (L:T;SA:A)

How to Handle Parent Complaints about Grades – “Complaints about grades are difficult to handle because it’s hard to know how to respond in a way that both you and the parent can feel good about.” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Happy Birthday to My Daughter

Today is our daughter’s birthday. I loved her when she was just a child and I love her as an adult. We are very close and talk multiple times each day. She brings light into our lives and We are so thankful for her every day!

Happy birthday Dyanna!


Original Photos by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Learning Something New is Hard

In If it were easy… from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states.

“When difficulties arise, it might very well be good news. Because those difficulties may dissuade all the people who aren’t as dedicated as you are.”

My parents always told me that if it was hard to learn how to do, then it might be something important or everyone would be doing it.

If something is hard to learn, there are fewer people that know how to do it so my skills might be worth something to someone else.

In my mind, quilting is hard. I have friends who quilt and make beautiful quilts. Some of them sell their quilts for a lot of money to people who want a quilt but can’t make it themselves.

I love to knit but it has taken me quite a few years to build up my skills in order to make things that I think are good enough to sell. Learning to knit was not as hard as perfecting my skills. I knew the technique but putting it all together was hard. By putting the techniques together, I’ve been able to make beautiful things.

I want my students to know that learning something new is hard for everyone. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much education you may have had. Learning anything new comes with a price. It takes time, patience, and practice.

When I struggle with something new, I try to complete my project and then decide if it is worth my time to continue to practice. If it is something I really want to do, I need to commit to practicing even though I’m struggling. I have faith that the more I practice, the easier it will become. This is what I want my students to understand.

Learning to read was not easy, but now I can do it without even thinking about it. I can read for pleasure or for work. Reading opens my mind to a lot of new adventures. As long as I can read, I feel like I can do anything. I want my students to feel the same way.

Learning to drive was not easy and it took a lot of practice before I became comfortable with it. Once I learned to drive and had a car, it opened the world to me.

I want my students to realize that even though I have a college degree, I still go through the same learning process that they go through every time I want to learn something new. There is no magic point in life where everything is easy. Let’s face it, life is hard so learning new things in life is not going to be any easier.

How do you help your students deal with this concept? Please share.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Building Trust

In Trading trust for attention from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“But the only purpose of advertising of any kind is to cause action, and action only happens when there’s trust involved.”

Students will have an easier time learning new skills if they trust the teacher.

I know when I want to learn something, I have to trust that the teacher is knowledgeable and capable of teaching me this skill. If I have no respect and don’t trust the teacher, my mind shuts down. I will not be able to focus on or retain any new learning.

In my own classroom, I need to earn my student's trust. At the beginning of the year, many students don’t know me. They don’t understand my methods of teaching or if they feel I’m knowledgeable about teaching.

At the beginning of the year, I give my students some background about myself. I also share the values that I feel are important in a person such as honesty and integrity. I explain that I want to help them succeed and will do everything in my power to help them, but ultimately the learning rests on their shoulders. No one can make them learn.

I also tell them that I will always be honest with them. They may not always like what I tell them but I promise that I won’t lie to them. If they ask me questions that I won’t answer because they are personal questions, I will let them know why I won’t answer them. I expect them to respond the same to me.

I will always try to do the right thing and I hope that they will do. I try to share the “rule” that I go by. If I have to hide it or lie about it, then it is not the right thing to do. If I can’t tell my parents or grandparents, then there is something wrong with what I’m doing, unless it is a good surprise for them. My students should practice this rule also.

I want them to know that I’m knowledgeable about teaching, but I don’t know everything. If there is something that they want to learn and I don’t know how to do it, I’m willing to figure out a way for them to learn how to do it. I might even enjoy learning it with them.

Students will test me to see if I mean what I say. When my actions speak clearly that I practice what I say, they will begin to trust me. When I ask them to do difficult things that involve them risking failure, they are more willing to give me a try. I’m basically asking them to trust me. I’m not promising them success, but I will promise that I will be there to catch them if they fall. I will help them get up again and try. I will encourage them not to give up and even see if there are other alternatives to reach their goal.

Once students learn to trust me, their goals can become endless. Success is waiting for them around the corner.

How do you get students to trust you? Please share.

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Monday, December 14, 2020

Foreseeing the Future

In Predicting the future from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“In matters of public health and engineering, the ability to have a good idea about the repercussions of our work is urgent.”

As a teacher, I always wanted to think that I was making an impact on a student’s life.

I hope I was making a difference.

Just like being a parent, I can teach my students skills and how to apply them, but I can’t make the student use it in everyday life.

I like to get to know the students and imagine what they will be like when they finish school. Some will work in a business and some will be entrepreneurs.

I have one student who was diagnosed with autism who has his own beehive and honey-making company. He owns 40 beehives! I’m so proud of him!

One student with emotional disabilities owns his own landscaping company. 

I’ve had another student with learning disabilities who started out as a stocker for Publix and is now the Produce Manager at one of the stores.

Another young lady with learning disabilities went on to learn how to be a paralegal and works in a judge’s office.

One student with learning disabilities went on to become a truck driver and he drives around the country making good money. He loves to travel so this is perfect for him.

Of course, there are some that I had high hopes for that eventually made poor decisions are spending time in jail.

I do like to hear from former students though, to see what kind of lives they are living now.

But I need to remember that I can foresee the future. I can’t make these students have successful lives. They need to make their own decisions and choices that work for them. I just hope that I can teach them the skills they need to do this

Have you heard from former students that make you feel proud of how you helped them? Please share.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Friday, December 11, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 12/11/2020

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

How do investors choose stocks? – “Every day, billions of stocks are traded on the New York Stock Exchange alone. But with over 43,000 companies listed on stock exchanges around the world, how do investors decide which stocks to buy? And what do individuals and institutions achieve by investing in stocks? Richard Coffin explores the tactics of different investing strategies.” (L:H;SA: M,SS)

How to Create Animated GIF in PowerPoint [2020] – “A step-by-step tutorial on how to create animated GIF in PowerPoint. Microsoft PowerPoint can save an MP4 video as an animated GIF, and I'll show to how add text to do the basics GIF, as well as animating your own custom frame-by-frame GIF with PowerPoint.” (L:G;SA:A)

PayGrade – “PayGrade is an online virtual bank and investment simulation used by thousands of schools around the world to teach students all about money.On PayGrade, students experience real world money situations and navigate the ins and outs of everything related to personal finance like saving, budgeting, paying bills, earning income, investing and more.” (L:H;SA: M,SS, C)

Memory Project – “The Memory Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding and kindness between children around the world through school-based art programs. We have been fortunate to have 280,000 youth involved in 55 countries since 2004.” (L:G;SA:FA)

Engineering Myth vs Reality with Mimi-Isabella Nwosu – “First in our new series! Civil Engineer Mimi-Isabella busts some myths about engineering. Can engineers fix everything? Do you have to be a genius to become an engineer? Are all engineers boring white guys?...”

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Tree of Joy

Christmas is my favorite season. I love the decorations and the music as well as the feeling of excitement. During this holiday season, I’m reminded of those who don’t celebrate the same holidays as I do. Yet, I want to include these students in my season of joy.

While watching an Arne & Carlos podcast, these knitwear designers are sharing their holiday traditions. Arne likes to look for Christmas ornaments all year long and may find something pretty that would make a nice ornament. It might not have anything to do with Christmas but he likes it.

This made me think that having a tree of joy would be a nce thing to have in the classroom. Students can bring an ornament that brings them joy and add it to the tree. This can be in the classroom all year long and students can add or take off any of their ornaments. When they add an ornament, they can share something about the item that brings them joy.

It helps to see things from a different perspective. Something that I might see as ordinary might bring joy to someone else. It would be good for students to see how different people can value different things.

Sometimes it is nice to remind ourselves that there are many things in our life that brings us joy. The bad things in the world can sometimes overshadow the good things. Having a Tree of Joy would be good to remind students not to forget the joyous things in their life.

What would you add to the Tree of Joy? Why? Please share.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

My Sister Betsy

Today is my sister Betsy’s birthday. She was born on December 9, 1947, in Canton, China.

In 1949, my parents and two sisters left China and returned to New York.

When I was born, my sister Betsy was twelve years old.

By the time I entered kindergarten, Betsy was graduating high school and was like a second mother to me.

Soon after she graduated high school, Betsy was diagnosed with Lupus. At the time, doctors didn’t know a lot about lupus, and her life expectancy was not expected to be very long.

In spite of her illness, we had wonderful times together. A lot of the best times of my childhood were spent with her.

In 1967, Betsy and I got on a bus and went to the Expo in Montreal. This was my first trip without my parents, and it was fabulous.

I remember afternoons when it was time for her to get off work, I would walk a mile up to the main road to meet her and she would look for me as she drove home. She would pick me up and I would get to tell her all about my day.

Green was her favorite color and the Christmas song Greensleeves was one of her favorite songs.

In the summer of 1974, she passed away. My best friend was gone. I would always miss her.

Today she would have been 73 years old.

Happy birthday in heaven dear sister!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Using Music in the Classroom

In Making students comfortable entering the virtual classroom from On an e-Journey with Generation Y, murcha shares,

“To allow time for all students to enter the classroom, relax and catch their breath after their previous class, it helped to play music as the class started.”

I would please different music in my class depending on the activity. When they would enter the room, I would play songs that I felt were welcoming.

During individual classwork, I would play classical music because I had read somewhere that students who listen to classical music while they study do better in math. I wasn’t sure but I figured what did I have to lose. It had a calming effect on students who tended to get frustrated with math. Also, it helped students with behavior problems. I’m not sure it helped their math scores other than the fact that they were able to focus better on the assignments. I also used it in all subject areas.

If I wanted the students to be more active, I would play livelier music. During brain breaks, it was fun to do some exercises to music.

During creative writing, I would like to play instrumental music and ask the students to imagine a movie scene that would play this music. Then I would have them write the story out. My students were able to write better because they could visualize the scenes with the music. Sometimes I would ask students to write a story and then find music that they would play at the beginning, before specific events, and the ending of their stories. It would really bring their stories to life.

Sharing favorite music is also a fun activity. I would not allow them to share any songs with profanity, violence, or illegal activities in it though. Sometimes I would see a song that most of the students liked and we would analyze the lyrics. This is a great critical thinking activity. I liked to share favorite songs of my own and have them look at the lyrics.

Songs can be used to highlight historical events. There are many songs to use that were written during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam Warm. Songs can help put the events in context with the people of that time period.

Find popular songs that students can alter the lyrics to and have them share the song with the class. I have had students rewrite many popular Christmas songs and it is a lot of fun to see what they can come up with.

How do you use music in the classroom? Please share.

Photo by Stefany Andrade on Unsplash

Monday, December 7, 2020

My Father’s Birthday

Today is my father’s birthday and I hope that he is enjoying it in heaven. I hope he knows that he is remembered and missed every day. Even though I can’t call him on the phone, I share many things that I do during the day with him in my mind. I wanted to take this time today to wish him a happy birthday and to let him know he is still in my heart and mind!

Friday, December 4, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 12/04/2020

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

Christmas 2020 Ad – “We believe that the world would be a better place if we all gave a little more love. So this year we're celebrating kindness, whether large or small, showing how each and every act of love has a positive impact on the world around us, as we pass them on to others.” (L:G;SA:A)

Can You Solve the River Crossing Riddle? – a TED-ed lesson; “As a wildfire rages through the grasslands, three lions and three wildebeest flee for their lives. To escape the inferno, they must cross over to the left bank of a crocodile-infested river. Can you help them figure out how to get across on the one raft available without losing any lives? Lisa Winer shows how.” (L:G;SA:A)

WordSift – “A teacher can use WordSift to review assigned text to identify challenging words or concepts prior to a lesson, and identify images and videos to use in class…In whole class or individually, students can preview text. Reading comprehension research suggests that previewing text is a useful strategy for improving comprehension. Using WordSift to identify the key vocabulary, and playing with the images and using the example source sentence feature to “skim” the text can help students who might otherwise struggle with the complexity of the text.” (L:G;SA:A)

7 Tools for Creating Word Clouds – “Word cloud generators can be useful in providing students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in passages of text they are reading and or writing. In the context of analyzing their own writing word clouds can help students identify words or phrases that they might be using a little too often.” (L:G;SA:A)

Knowt- “Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Knowt determines optimal questions for you to review. Each quiz is catered to your note to make sure you ace your next assessment” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Results Matter

In The gift of results from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“Results show up. They’re easy to see, easy to measure and they persist.”

I know I want my students to learn and sometimes they don’t learn as fast as others do but I have to find a way to measure their progress.

I have to help them set goals that are measurable in order to show progress. Notice that I said that I have to help them set goals. I don’t believe it helps if I set the goals for them because then they have nothing vested in meeting these goals. I need to help them see what the end goal is and then work with them in setting the smaller goals in order to reach the end.

I have mentioned before that without having an end goal is just like getting in a car and driving aimlessly. If you have a destination in mind, you can create a tentative route that you want to follow to get there. Like any journey, you might find roadblocks, roads closed, or detours that take you to new adventures. It might take longer than you hoped but eventually, you can get there, even if you have to have help getting there.

If I want to knit a sweater, I can learn to knit the different stitches to produce a finished sweater. If I learned to knit specific stitches but never put them together to make a sweater, how do I know that I can knit a sweater? How do I know that I can reach my goal?

Once I reach my goal and have a finished product, I can make new goals with new expectations and results. My finished product may not be perfect, or it may not fit so I will have to come up with a new goal. My new goal might be to knit a sweater that fits me. This involves measurement and other technical details in order to achieve my goal. But I would need to have a new result in order to see if I accomplished my goal.

Without being able to show results, how do I know that I achieved what I wanted? Just learning skills without knowing how to apply them to a finished product, is just spinning my wheels.

An effort is important and applauded but results are needed. Results matter.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Be Sensitive During the Holidays

The holiday season has arrived, and all the stores are decked out with decorations. Many ads on TV and the radio are trying to sell all of their holiday stuff. Radio stations are playing Christmas music. It is a time of joy and happiness…for most people.

Keep in mind that this season may be a tough time for some students.

Many people with mental illness or stress disorders have a tough time during holidays. The excitement and holiday spirit can be overwhelming and overstimulating. They may need a quieter environment. You can still show you care about these people but understand that they may need periods of quietness. They may seem withdrawn and you can acknowledge this and be there for them but don’t try to force them to join in the festivities.

This has been a tough year for many during the pandemic. Some may have lost a loved one or has a loved one who is hospitalized or sick. They may not feel so joyful so try not to keep reminding them through your joy and actions how much they have lost or are in danger of losing. You might spend some time with them and encourage them to talk about their loved ones. Ask them to share good memories.

Businesses may have had to shut down. Students may have parents who have lost their jobs. They are uncertain about their living conditions or even the food they will have to eat. You might contact the parents and ask if there is anything you can do to help the family, even if it is just to show you care. Students may worry about Christmas gifts so you can help them by doing class activities where they can make handmade gifts. Encourage these students to share their worries with you privately. Sometimes you can’t do anything else but listen and it can help the students to share their feelings with someone. They may not want to do this with their parents and add more worries to them.

This year has been a year full of changes and sometimes changes can happen weekly. Many of my students hated holidays out of school because they needed the structure and routine every day. They may start misbehaving or acting out of character. Have a class discussion about how changes during the holiday can affect our moods. Sometimes it helps to bring this out in the open. Have students offer suggestions about how to deal with this because these suggestions might help their peers.

What other situations have I left off that might cause the holiday season to be stressful? Please share.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

2020 Goals Review for November

I really worked hard on my weight during November. I focused on eating healthier and having smaller portions. We went to the beach several times and the walk and swimming in the ocean were great for exercise!

1. Lose 5 lbs. Hopefully this year I will be able to meet this goal. – I have lost 11 lbs. so far this year. This is the most I’ve lost in several years. I just hope I can keep it off until the end of December. I think by making my goal smaller, I was able to be more successful in achieving it.

2. Crafts – completed 4 out of my 5 goals. One of them was unattainable after further investigation.

3. Read 12 nonfiction books that are related to nature. – Completed. I think next year I won’t back myself into a corner by picking a specific topic. There were a few nonfiction books I didn’t read because it would not have helped me complete this goal.

How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.

Photo by 30daysreplay (PR & Marketing) on Unsplash

Monday, November 30, 2020

My Self Awareness

Recently I got an email from Angela Maiers who encouraged her readers to do this exercise,

“One of my absolute favorite exercises to help bring the awareness of our talents to the forefront and to set us free of their self-imposed limitations is called “Give Me 10”

1. We are going to share how you feel, how you see others and ourselves is in the form of a poem.

a. Write these two words on your paper: I AM…
b. There are no rules except that each stanza and statement will begin with “I am…”
c. Write ten "I am" statements on your paper
d. Statements can be positive, negative, or neutral, but they should be true.

2. Hold a mirror and say those ten statements to yourself. Give me ten qualities of YOU and what makes you unique!”

Angela is such an inspiration to so many people that I had to share this exercise with you. I am going to give it a try and I hope that you do too.

I AM a good teacher.

I AM happy when I can help others.

I AM a person who loves learning.

I AM able to do many things that I want to do.

I AM happy with my life.

I AM lucky to have people who love me.

I AM a spinner of yarn and I use it to knit things.

I AM a person who loves nature.

I AM a shy person when I’m in a group.

I AM a person who enjoys being around other people.

This was a fun activity and it really had me thinking about what I am. I wrote some statements and then realized that they weren’t really what I wanted to say about myself. I don’t think we stop to reflect on this enough and we should encourage our students to do this. It might be a fun lesson to do at the beginning and the end of the year to see if our views of ourselves have changed.

Give this a try and see how you do. Share your results on Twitter with @angelamaiers.

Photo by Andre Mouton on Unsplash

Friday, November 27, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/27/20

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

#YouCanBeABCs from Sam – “6 year old raps about careers A through Z” (L:G;SA:C)

Good work toolkit – “The GoodWork Toolkit engages individuals and groups in reflection and conversation about good work. The Toolkit consists of flexible set of materials, including vignettes of individuals who struggle to carry out good work, and accompanying questions and activities. Since 2007, educators at all levels—elementary school to graduate school—from around the world have implemented these materials in their coursework in a variety of ways. The Toolkit is not a prescribed curriculum; it is called a “toolkit,” because it contains a variety of tools” that may be used in a number of combinations. The materials are meant to be adaptable to a variety of contexts; in other words, the Toolkit can be used as part of a retreat, as a year-long theme in a particular class, as the basis of a two or three day seminar. There is no need to follow these chapters, in order, from beginning to end. Facilitators should feel free to pick and choose and adapt these cases and activities as best suits their goals and needs.” (L:G;SA:A)

Beating Pandemic Burnout – “In this spirit, I offer four reflective pillars that were crucial to my own recovery from burnout: focusing on purpose, compassion, connection and balance. Each pillar is a way to reflect on your well-being, consider ways to understand and address your reactions to the added stress, and experiment with curiosity and hope in these unprecedented times.” (L:T;SA:A)

A Teacher’s Experience With Vicarious Trauma – “When you teach students who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), you feel a double-edged sword: You care deeply about your students, so it’s easy for their pain to become your own.” (L:T;SA:A)

Secondary Traumatic Stress - A Fact Sheet for Child-Serving Professionals – “Our main goal in preparing this fact sheet is to provide a concise overview of secondary traumatic stress and its potential impact on child-serving professionals. We also outline options for assessment, prevention, and interventions relevant to secondary stress, and describe the elements necessary for transforming child-serving organizations and agencies into systems that also support worker resiliency.” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

There is so much that I am thankful for every day.

I’m thankful for:
  • My family
  • My friends
  • My physical health
  • My financial health
  • Eating healthier
  • Exercising regularly
This year has been an awful pandemic year but there is a silver lining this year.

We have been able to do things around our home that we haven’t taken the time to do. We’ve always put it on the back burner to do when we have time. So, this year, we had the time and we did a lot of things on our list.

I was able to finish probating my parent’s estate and finalizing all the legal stuff.

We bought my parent’s house after they passed away so we were able to go to Florida and quarantine there where the weather was nicer. Now that the probate stuff is complete, we were able to enjoy our time in Florida.

I decided to learn something new and I’m trying to learn how to quilt using English paper piecing.

I was able to use zoom to stay connected with many different groups. In fact, I feel more connected this year to others than I ever have before.

What are you thankful for this year? Please share.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Dreher Isand State Park

Dreher Island State Park is located in Prosperity, SC. It is made up of three islands with a bridge. There are 348 acres and 12 miles of shoreline for visitors to go fishing, hiking, or camping. The island sits in 50,000 acre Lake Murray which is a reservoir of the Saluda River. It is named for Billy Dreher, the former owner of the island.

Some feel that it is the best spot to fish for striped and large-mouth bass and many major national fishing tournaments are held here.

There are five lakeside villas and 97 paved campsites for RVs and 15 tent sites. For picnicking, there 10 picnic shelters that are available. Scattered throughout the park are three playgrounds. There are also three fishing tournament shelters which include wi-fi service, a live well, and a catch and release tank. Three boat ramps are accessible for boaters. Three hiking trails are open for hikers.

You can also see a lot of wildlife here in the park. You can see white-tailed deer, grey squirrels, egrets, osprey, purple martins, Canadian geese, and mallard ducks. Aquatic species include hard/softshell turtles, striped bass, large/smallmouth bass, bream, crappie, and catfish. There are no alligators in the lake.

It used to be owned by SCE&G who created Lake Murray by building the Dreher Shoals Dam.

It is a beautiful park to visit and I would highly recommend people to check it out!



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Small Steps Matter

In The ocean is made of drops from Seth Godin's Blog. Seth Godin shares,

“Even a puddle has more drops than we can count.”

I would show my students a drop of water and ask them if that is considered an ocean, or a lake, or a puddle. Of course, it isn’t. But if I collect many drops of water, it could add up to a larger volume of water and can keep growing bigger and bigger.

It is important to look at the big picture when I want to look at my goals. This helps me see where I want to go. Whenever I embark on a journey, I need to know my destination. Yet my journey is made up of the little steps. Each little step brings me closer and closer to my final destination. Without these little steps, I would never reach where I want to go.

Every major goal is made up of smaller achievable goals. Each smaller goal is necessary to reach a major goal. I need to make sure that each smaller goal is achievable before going on to the next step.

Sometimes in determining these smaller goals, I need to ask for help. There may be others with more experience or knowledge that can help me determine what smaller goals I need to accomplish. It is alright to ask for advice and help. This doesn’t mean that I’m weak or helpless, but it means that I want to follow the best course possible in order to achieve my goal.

I need to teach my students to have a long-term goal or a major goal that they can work for. Yet, in order to not overwhelm or frustrate them, I need to help them define the little steps in order to get there. I want to make sure that each step is achievable and can be done in a reasonable amount of time. If something takes too long, the step may be too big and need to be broken up even smaller. I need to be able to help them find others who might help them determine the smaller steps needed to achieve their major goal.

What major goal do you want to achieve? What smaller steps have you determined are necessary? Please share.

Photo by Omar Gattis on Unsplash

Monday, November 23, 2020


In An Experiment in Gratitude from Engage Their Minds, the author shares,

“In “An Experiment in Gratitude,” the host shares the results of a study devised to determine how much gratitude affects happiness.”

This is why I try to pay attention to at least one thing that I’m grateful for each day.

I feel like if I can at least find one thing, I know there are many others. Instead of focusing on the negative stuff, I want to find the good things in my life. I

It is always so easy to focus on the things we regret or the things we wish we had. It is easier to have a pity party than to see the good things in our life.

Sometimes we might have to dig deep to find the things we are grateful for but once we start this habit, it gets easier over time. The more I do this, the easier it is to find more than one thing. Before long, I start finding more things that I’m grateful for than things that I’m not. I started being thankful for the little things and not just the big things. I started realizing it is the little things that I take for granted but if they weren’t in my life, the big things wouldn’t happen. Suddenly I realized that I need to be thankful for all the little things that add up to the big things.

I also realize that the study is right. The more I’m grateful for, the happier I feel. The happier I feel, the more confident I feel that my life is going in the right direction. I’m able to make better decisions. I’m able to enjoy my daily life more and more. I think I’m a much happier person than I was and that other people see me this way too.

I want my students to feel this way. Many students are depressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. Maybe by focusing on gratitude, I can change their outlook on their own lives. Once they can start feeling better about their life, they can start acting more confident and making better decisions.

It would be good to have students start a gratitude journal. It is okay to be thankful for the same thing every day but if they put the same thing down, they need to add one thing new. I would explain that this will get easier as we continue to do this. After 3 months, I would have them reflect on whether it is getting easier. Then I would do the same after 6 months. It will be interesting to see how they respond. Then I will ask them if they think their life is better now or 6 months ago. I think they will even be surprised by their answers.

What are you grateful for? Do you think about this on a daily basis? Give it a try.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Friday, November 20, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 11/20/2020

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

The First Thanksgiving – activities to do for Thanksgiving (L:E,M;SA:SS)

Balloons over Broadway – “This is a roundup of Balloons Over Broadway STEM activities and lesson ideas – both with and without technology – to use the week of Thanksgiving, the week after Thanksgiving, or anytime in November!” (L:E,;SA:SS)

Thanksgiving Digital Breakout Box – A Thanksgiving puzzle to work out (L:E,;SA:SS)

Better Thanksgiving Potatoes Through Chemistry – “Making delicious roasted potatoes is all about finding the right texture and consistency. Here at Reactions, we were inspired to give it a go after seeing J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s delicious recipe on Serious Eats. Today we’ll use chemistry (are you surprised?!) to create the roasted potatoes of your dreams. Get ready to wow your family and friends this holiday season.” (L:H;SA:S)

The Truth About Tryptophan – “Enjoy this compilation of Thanksgiving turkey chemical deliciousness! We’re celebrating the holiday with our favorite food science bits and pieces.” (L:H;SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Emotional Support

Recently I attended a stress webinar that was excellent. Even though I knew a lot of the things shared, I was reminded that I don’t always do the things I need to do in order to help myself. Like being on an airplane where you put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help others, I need to make sure I’m dealing with my own stress before I can help others.

One question asked was:

How many people are plugged into you?

This means - How many people do you support emotionally? Sometimes when you have too many people plugged into you, they are sucking out the energy and it is important that you replace this energy before you get depleted.

Giving occupations such as teachers, cops, firefighters, and medical personnel usually attract people who are very giving. They give so much that over time it can affect their health if they don’t practice self-care habits. When I was growing up, I was always taught that practicing self-care habits are selfish, I don’t think that people realize how detrimental that was, but I know that they hoped to teach children that giving was more important than taking.

I think we still can teach children the importance of giving but we need to teach them also about balancing with self-care. This is not being selfish. I think this will help people be more giving because they will have more energy and not feel overwhelmed.

I think it is important to find an outlet that you can do on a regular basis in order to recharge yourself. It may be a hobby or exercise, but you need to plan for it in your schedule and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be huge amounts of time and can be as short as 30 minutes every day or every other day. There may be times that you skip it but make sure these times are rare and your special time is not set aside for other things. Your special time is as important or even more important than anything else. When you set aside these times, don’t feel guilty about taking “me” time and when you do feel guilty, remind yourself that you are just recharging your battery so others can plug into you.

I try to take time every morning to write in my bullet journal. I include at least one thing that happened the day before that I’m grateful for. I also have a prayer book and will add a few things that I’m praying for today. I try to exercise for an hour at least 4 times a week and if I do more, I’m ahead of the game. I also knit which I find very relaxing.

What do you do to recharge your battery? Please share.

Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Showing Work

In Show no work from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“Show us why the logic holds up. Tell us how this has happened before.”

Whenever I teach a math skill, I always want the students to show their work. This tells me that they aren’t just guessing an answer. I’ve heard this saying in several situations lately and it applies to this situation: Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn every now and then. If you keep guessing at an answer, you might get the answer right some of the time and wrong some of the time without ever knowing why.

Many students find that having to show their work is tedious. They believe they know the answer and just want to write it down. Some students are in a hurry to finish the assignment and having to show their work takes longer. Some students don’t want to show their work because they really don’t understand the concept and aren’t sure how to show the work.

One way to help students with showing their work is to list the steps they need to follow in order to show their work. This list can be posted on the board or each student is given their own personal copy to follow. This will give them more confidence when they have to show their own work.

I think it is also important to explain to students why I want them to show their work. I think if they understand the reason why they should do something, the more willing they will do this even if they don’t want to do it.

Reasons for showing work:
  • I will know that you didn’t just use a calculator.
  • I will know that someone didn’t give you the answer.
  • You can show me that you know where to start in solving the problem.
  • You know the steps to follow in order to solve the problem.
  • You understand what operation you need to use in order to solve the problem.
  • If you got a wrong answer, I would know which step you used was the problem.
  • You will be able to see where you went wrong when we review the work you have given.
  • Once you are getting the right answer consistently while showing work, you will be allowed to stop showing your work.
Do you have students show their work? How do you get them to do this? Please share.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I Hope You’re Listening – Book Review

I recently read I Hope You're Listening by Tom Ryan. I read a review copy compliments of Netgalley and I am not being paid to give this review.

Something happens to her best friend that traumatizes Dee. Now Dee has to go on with life and we rejoin her ten years later. The story tells how Dee is still coping with what happened and how she is actively trying to make a difference in other people’s lives. Then something happens that brings the past into the present and Dee has to make some difficult decisions.

This is a great book for high school students to read. It can open up discussions about peer relationships, traumatic situations, kidnappings, podcasts, making differences, personal safety, and media involvement. I could see students acting out different scenes or maybe creating their own podcasts.

I enjoyed the book so much that I couldn’t put it down! The story was captivating and exciting. I wanted to find out what would happen and how Dee resolves her issues. I would highly recommend this for a high school library.