Friday, January 31, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 01/31/20

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

Making Maple Syrup – Learn how maple syrup is made. (L:G;SA:S,SS,FA)

The National WWII Museum – “The National WWII Museum features immersive exhibits, multimedia experiences, and an expansive collection of artifacts and first-person oral histories, taking visitors inside the story of the war that changed the world. Beyond the galleries, the Museum's online collections, virtual field trips, webinars, educational travel programs, and renowned International Conference on World War II offer patrons new ways to connect to history and honor the generation that sacrificed so much to secure our freedom.” (L:H;SA:SS)

Map Maker – Big Huge Labs; “Show off where you've been or where you're going.” (L:G;SA:SS)

Turbulence – “What is turbulence and why does it happen? Explore the phenomenon that has perplexed physicists for over a century. -- You’re on an airplane when you feel a sudden jolt. Outside your window nothing seems to be happening, yet the plane continues to rattle you and your fellow passengers as it passes through turbulent air in the atmosphere. What exactly is turbulence, and why does it happen? Tom├ís Chor dives into one of the prevailing mysteries of physics: the complex phenomenon of turbulence.” (L:M,H;SA:S)

A MAP OF MYTH, LEGEND & FOLKLORE – Click a location on the map and read about the myth, legend or folklore of that location. (L:G;SA:LA)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, January 30, 2020


This week in T’ai Chi class, our instructor talked about how this year, 2020, is like having eyes that have 20/20 vision. This means that you see clearly, and it had me thinking about how there needs to be clarity in the classroom.

I see confusion and misunderstanding as cloudy vision. It is hard to see the big picture or even the surrounding elements clearly. When this happens, it is hard to focus on the immediate activity because I can’t see where you are or where you are going. When I get in a situation like this, it can trigger fear, anxiety, or even paranoia. Then there is no progress to be made and I just stop moving. I can’t move forward or backward.

As a teacher, I can help my students when this happens. I can let them know that they are not in this “cloudy” situation alone. I can help guide them out of the “cloud” into a clearer view. Once they can see clearly again, their fear and anxiety will lessen. But I really want to help them when the fear begins and doesn’t get out of control, so I need to stay alert and aware of my students. I need to notice their tone of voice and body language as much as I notice what they are saying.

I also need to make sure that when I introduce assignments, there is clarity in my expectations. Students need to know exactly what I’m asking them to do. Giving a rubric may help them see my expectations clearly. If possible, showing them examples might give them visual cues of what I want. Sometimes I may try out an activity with my family to make sure that my instructions are clear and not confusing. If this isn’t possible, I may try to role play as a student and follow my instructions exactly as I would give them just to make sure that I haven’t left anything out.

It is also helpful to teach students how to ask questions when they don’t see clearly. Just whining that they don’t understand and giving up won’t help the situation. Try to get them to ask questions with specific words like why, what, how, when in them. This may help them verbalize what they need help in.

Over the years, students may have seen asking for help or asking questions as a sign of weakness in front of their peers. It might help to role play situations where students need to ask for clarity. Give a situation and have the students come up with ways to ask questions that would help the student in the role play situation. The more the students practice asking questions, the better they will get at them. Soon, it will become natural and they won’t be afraid to ask them as much.

I can see this behavior spilling out into other areas of their lives outside of my classroom. They will learn how to ask for clarity in other classes and situations. Asking questions may help them in their relationships with others.

How do you focus on clarity in the classroom? Please share.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

John Walker and the Summer White House

Recently my husband showed me a postcard of a proposed summer home of the Presidents. Neither one of us had ever heard about this so I decided to look for more information.

“If you’re looking for a little more adventure, or just wanting to extend your hike, then add on a trip to the Summer White House…This short trail (0.3 miles, 185 ft gain) will take you to a proposed site for a Summer White House. John Walker’s dream of building a magnificent summer retreat for the Commander-In-Chief never materialized, but the cornerstone remains as a reminder of his grand vision.”

John Brisben Walker was born in 1847 and served in the Chinese army, ran for congress and made and lost several fortunes in iron and real estate. In 1879, he came to Colorado to try agriculture and made a fortune by introducing alfalfa farming. He also developed real estate and an amusement park in Denver. He moved back east in the late 1880s to manufacture cars and stage America’s first auto race.

Walker had dreams of many projects in the early 1900s including Cosmopolitan magazine. He bought the failing magazine, improved it and sold it to Hearst Corporation in 1905 for a profit. Returning to Colorado in the early 1900s, he pioneered changes in farming and developed parts of Denver. He opened a casino, developed Red Rocks Park, and built Mount Morrison’s cog railway.

In 1909, Walker and his wife began building a mansion on Mount Falcon.  Walker also proposed a “castle in the clouds.” This was the proposed summer home for the Presidents.  The cornerstone made of Colorado yule marble was laid on July 4, 1914. The castle was to model European ones so that the President could enjoy the summer months here. It was supposed to have five floors built into a steep cliff and have 22 rooms, designed by Denver architect J.B. Benedict. Funding was a huge issue for this project though. Walker persuaded school children to donate dimes to the project and the foundation was laid.

After his idea for the summer White House took form, his life took a turn for the worse. His wife died in 1916 and beautiful home was destroyed by fire two years later. Stone ruins are all that remains there. Fundraising for the summer White House failed as World War 1 approached. Walker’s fortune was depleted, and tax debts increased so much that a lot of his property was sold, foreclosed, or condemned. So, he left Colorado to live with his son in Brooklyn where he died in 1931.

Activities for the Classroom:
·      Research The White House. When was it built? What President was in office when it was first built? How many rooms are in it? Name 3 interesting facts about it.
·      Research Roosevelt’s Little White House. Where is it? When was it built? How many rooms were in it? Why was it called the Little White House? When was it used?
·      If you were to build another White House, where would you build it? Why? How many rooms would it have? What would be special about it?

Original photo by Pat Hensley