Thursday, April 30, 2020

Happy Birthday to My Sister

May 3 is my sister’s birthday. Since her birthday will happen this weekend, I wanted to take today to wish her a Happy Birthday! I hope her day is filled with lots of love and laughter!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Without Internet

Recently I was asked about activities that students can do to connect others but live in a rural area without the internet.

This brought back memories of when I was growing up and the internet was never heard of.

Here are some suggestions for connecting with others without using the internet:

Pen Pals – Let students become Pen Pals with each other. Have them write weekly letters to each other sharing what they did that week and asking questions to get to know each other better. Students practice writing skills, letter writing skills, addressing envelopes, improve grammar skills, and spelling skills.

Traveling Story – The teacher starts the story with a prompt or several sentences. It is mailed to a student who adds three sentences to it and mailed to the next student. This continues until the last student finishes the story and sends it to the teacher. If the student didn’t finish it, the teacher can finish it. The teacher can type it up and fix any mistakes. Copies of the finished story can be sent out to all of the students. Students can practice reading the story to their parents.

Treasure Hunt – The teacher can create a treasure hunt involving letters or words or sounds. The teacher can put students in teams of two and send the treasure hunt to them. Students have to find things in their home or yard that have the letter, words, or sound in them. Students can call each other to help each other. Once the form is completed, they can send it back to the teacher.

Riddles – The teacher can make a sheet with riddles and send them to the students. Students can be on teams and once they figure out all the answers, one of them can fill out the form and send it back to the teacher.

Class Bingo – The teacher can make a bingo sheet with a fact about a different student in the class without giving a name. Students call other students in class and try to find out which fact is about which student. Students who find the student for each square can send the bingo sheet back to the teacher.

What other activities could students do to connect with their classmates without using the internet? Please share.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Keeping a Good Attitude

I saw on the news that this health crisis is affecting people’s emotional health. People are tired of being cooped up inside and being in close quarters can make people cranky.

Here are some things you can share with students that may help them keep a good attitude:

There are a lot of YouTube videos that have workout routines. I do a walking routine at home every morning to get my heart going. I feel pretty good after I exercise.

Go outside in the sun and get at least 20 minutes of sunlight. People who stay inside do not get enough Vitamin D. This can affect your moods.

Connect with others either through video chats (Skype, Zoom, Facetime), or call people you don’t normally call. I have a hard time with calling but now I would rather do that then feel isolated.

Mail a letter to someone and let them know that you are thinking of them. Before the internet, we used to mail a lot of letters. Maybe students can become penpals with another student and regularly communicate this way. This would help handwriting, spelling, sentence writing, and letter writing.

Food is always comforting. Trying a new recipe can be exciting.

Reading can be a great way to escape the real world. Reading outside in the sun can be doubly beneficial.

Gratitude Journal
Keep a daily journal with what you are grateful for. This helps to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

What would you suggest would help others keep a good attitude? Please share.

Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash

Monday, April 27, 2020

Reentry is Scary

On the news, I hear about countries talking about reentry back in the economy. I know our President is talking about it too. I recently heard that Austria and Denmark are planning to start soo. They plan on starting with schools, then smaller stores, bigger stores, and then restaurants and bars. Many of the parents are upset because they feel like their children are being guinea pigs.

I know the country can’t stay on lockdown forever. Our economy can’t survive that way. Eventually, it has to open up again.

But reentry is as scary to me as a lockdown. No one knows what to expect. No one knows what will happen. No one can look into their crystal ball and tell what will happen.

I believe that when the economy opens back up again, life as we know it will be different.

I don’t think I’ll be shaking people’s hands or hugging others. My husband and I decided when we see people, we plan to put our hands over our hearts to show how glad we are to see them.

When I’m shopping, I will continue to keep my distance from others. It seems like a good habit to practice.

I will continue to wash my hands often. I did that before the virus but now I’m more conscious about doing it.

I will appreciate others more because I am more aware that life is not something, we should take for granted.

I will stay on top of new technology and strategies because if something like this happens again, I will be prepared.

But as much as we talk about social distancing, taking care of our families, and remote learning, we also need to prepare our students for reentry. We need to remind them that it won’t happen overnight. It also may be different because some businesses might not be reopened again. Some families may have financial difficulties and we need to be extra sensitive and caring to others.

How will you talk to your students about reentry? Please share.

Photo by Lisa Walton on Unsplash

Friday, April 24, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 04/24/2020

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

Walnut – Learn new knowledge through video and quizzes. (L:G;SA:A)

Be Internet Awesome – a Google video; “To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence” (L:E;SA:A)

Fieldscope – “Teachers and parents across the country are currently exploring new ways of educating students. Many are seeking meaningful online science learning experiences for students at home. And for those who want their students to learn while enjoying the great outdoors, there are opportunities to contribute to citizen science! BSCS Science Learning has responded to the current situation by transforming a new set of citizen science lessons designed for classrooms into student-directed versions that can be done independently from home. Learn about and access these modified lessons at the links below.” (L:G;SA:S)

School Virtually – “Educators have access to many tools and resources for online and distance education. Create flexible and engaging lessons that support all learners, which are inclusive of students with disabilities and language learners.” (L:G;SA:A)

Webinars – by Next Vista for Learning; “Concerns with the spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) have forced school leaders across the world to close their schools and dive into the deep end of the online instruction pool. We hope these free webinars provide ideas, guidance, and encouragement.” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Graduation Ideas

“ Graduation in 2020 will be unlike any graduation before it. While the thought of losing the traditional pomp and circumstance is difficult, there are some innovative options available.”

She also gives some suggestions and I thought about some other ideas that are possibilities.

Depending on the number of students have a Zoom graduation where the principal gives an opening speech. The valedictorian and salutatorian can give a speech. Then the principal calls the name and the graduate in cap and gown states they are there. The principal virtually hands the student diploma. After all names are called, the principal can give a closing speech.

Years ago I used Second Life a lot for professional development. Students and parents could attend a graduation ceremony in Second Life. The same ceremony that takes place in real life can happen in Second Life.

Our church records the Sunday Service and incorporates videos in the service. The same could happen with graduation. Have each graduate take a picture of themselves in cap and gown. The school can make a video of the ceremony with recorded videos of speeches. Then the principal call all each graduate’s name with the picture of the graduate inserted.

What other possibilities can you think would be possible for graduation? Please share.

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Absent Students

Recently I was contacted by someone wanting to know the best way to handle students who are absent from their remote learning commitments. They either don’t show up to the meetings and/or aren’t turning in the work.

I think there are several steps to take in order to try to engage the student.

Depending on the age of the student, if the student is old enough, contact the student either by email, text, or phone and try to find out the reason the student is not doing what is expected.

If you are unable to reach the student or the student is too young to have a phone or email, contact the parents. There may be a reasonable explanation (no internet, power, computer, etc.) and you may be able to help solve a problem.

If you are unable to reach the parent or solve the problem, contact your guidance counselor and see if you can get any help from that direction.

If you don’t have a guidance counselor, it is time to contact your administrator. Explain the problem and give all the steps you have taken to try to solve the problem on your own.

During all of this, make sure you document your meetings and the student’s absences on those dates.

Also document all the communication you have had with the student, parent, and colleagues.

Hopefully one of these steps will take care of the problem. I think we need to keep expectations high so that when we transition back into the classroom, our students don’t fall into bad habits.

What suggestions would you give for remote learning absentees? Please share.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day is on April 22 of every year. This year will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

According to,:

“The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary.

Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.”

What you can do on Earth Day –

“On Earth Day 2020, we seize all the tools and actions that we have, big and small, to change our lives and change our world, not for one day, but forever.

While the coronavirus may force us to keep our distance, it will not force us to keep our voices down. The only thing that will change the world is a bold and unified demand for a new way forward.

We may be apart, but through the power of digital media, we’re also more connected than ever.

On April 22, join us for 24 hours of action in a global digital mobilization that drives actions big and small, gives diverse voices a platform and demands bold action for people and the planet.

Over the 24 hours of Earth Day, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day will fill the digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and more.

While Earth Day may be going digital, our goal remains the same: to mobilize the world to take the most meaningful actions to make a difference.

No matter where you are, you can make a difference. And you’re not alone, because together, we can save the Earth.

Visit on April 22 as we build an Earth Day unlike any other — We’re flooding the digital landscape with livestreamed discussions, a global digital surge, and 24 hours of actions that you can take, right now and from wherever you are.”

Will you be doing anything special for Earth Day this year? If so, please share.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Gardening for Students

While we are all stuck at home and it is spring, what better time to start a garden. You can start a vegetable garden, or you can start a flower garden, or you can start both!

Here is a great video -Fleet Education for Kids – “As part of #EarthMonth 2020, learn to garden at home with a fun activity for kids in Kindergarten through 5th grade.”

Seeds are available at Walmart, Dollar stores, and many home-improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot. Many of these places have seedlings already started if you don’t want to start with just seeds.

Growing plants is pretty basic. You need soil, water, and light.

I like to start my seeds in pots so I can watch as they grow. I don’t have to worry about pulling them accidentally with the weeds in the beds. Once they have grown enough to identify in a bed, I will transplant them. This would be exciting for students to watch and document the growth by measuring and taking photos.

My problem hasn’t always been getting started but rather keeping my plants alive. I either overwater or forget to water but now that I’m at home all the time it is much easier. With children, you can set up a calendar and keep a record of when you watered.

Gardening can become a great science experiment or just a fun experience.

Sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds, and cosmos are easy flowers to grow from seeds.

I like to get vegetable plants because I’m too impatient for my seeds to grow. I like to grow tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and yellow squash. My husband likes to try growing watermelon, but we have never been successful because of our traveling. This year we are going to try again.

I like the Square Foot Gardening method and I try to use a lot of principles mentioned in the book.

There are many resources online with lots of great advice. I have found it easier to get advice from people who live locally to me and have had success with growing seeds and vegetables that I like. Usually, they have great advice that pertains to my particular area and climate. Never be afraid of asking a gardener for advice because most of them love to share their knowledge!

What do you grow from seeds or plants? Please share.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Friday, April 17, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 04/17/2020

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

YoTeach – chat app for education; alternative to TodaysMeet. (L:G;SA:A)

Alphabet Sheets – practice writing letters (L:E;SA:LA)

12 famous museums offer virtual tours – “Take a look at just some of Google’s top museums that are offering online tours and exhibits.” (L:G;SA:A)

ClassHook – “Increase student engagement and retention; Easily find educational videos from TV shows and movies to use in your lessons” (L:T;SA:A)

Postal History Foundation – “The Stamp Discovery Education Program at the Postal History Foundation opens the eyes and minds of thousands of children and adults via beautiful and informative artwork on stamps. We do this through stamps, lessons, learning activities, field trips, merit badge services, and more. Art, civics, math, language, culture, science, and history can connect with visual, tangible postage stamps.” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Create a Newsletter

While we are all safe at home with our children, now would be a good time to have the kids create a newsletter. It can be something that could be distributed by email to family and friends or posted online.

Articles could include:

Favorite main dish recipe with pictures of the finished dish.
Favorite vegetable recipe with pictures of the finished dish.
Favorite dessert recipe with pictures of the finished dish.
Favorite cookie recipe with pictures of the finished dish.
Favorite snack recipe with pictures of the finished dish.

Cleaning tips for others.
Their favorite cleaning tool and why
Their favorite cleaning supply and why

Nature topics
Health topics
Animal/Insect topics

Favorite exercise. Describe the steps.
Create a workout program.
The benefits of exercise

Write an ongoing story with the next chapters in upcoming newsletters.
Write a short story.
Create a character and write a letter to the readers in each newsletter.

Create a puzzle with the answers given at the end.
Ask a riddle with the answer given at the end.

What else would you put in a newsletter? Please share.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

First Stamp Without a Printed Denomination

The first non-denominated stamp (also called no value indicated) was used in 1975. There was the uncertainty of a rate increase and Christmas stamps are usually printed in advance of the holiday.
By not putting denomination on this stamp, it gave the Postal service the flexibility of not having to reprint millions of stamps if the rate increase went into effect before the holiday. The stamp's value was 10 cents because the rate increase did not take place until December 31, 1975. This stamp was issued on October 14, 1975, in Washington D.C.

This stamp was designed by Bradbury Thompson after a painting of Madonna and Child by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Ghirlandaio was a 15th-century Italian artist of the Florentine Renaissance. Michelangelo was an apprentice of Ghirlandaio. This work of art is hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Class activities:

1.     What other stamp does not have a value indicated on it? Why did it not have a value indicated on it?
2.     What is your favorite Christmas stamp and why?
3.     Draw and color your own Christmas stamp.
4.     Find out more about Domenico Ghirlandaio and share it on a poster or a scrapbook page.
5.     Find out more about Michelangelo and share it on a poster or a scrapbook page.
6.     Research about the Florentine Renaissance. Give 5 interesting facts about it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Getty Museum Twitter Challenge

In The Getty Museum Twitter Challenge from Engage Their Minds, the author shares this challenge.

I thought this was a cool challenge from the Getty Museum and fun for students to do at home. You might give it a try. If you do, don’t forget to share it with the museum and here too! I’d love to see what you or your students come up with.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Changing our Teaching

In Learning Hasn’t Changed from Ideas and Thoughts, Dean Shareski shares,

“Learning hasn’t changed but the teaching has changed”

We hear so much about online learning and how this will all look different to our students. We talk about how this will be a new normal for them.

After reading this article, I agree with the author. Learning hasn’t changed a bit. It is our teaching that needs to be changed.

My goals for my students haven’t changed over time. I still want them to learn important skills and strategies. I still want them to learn how to use these things in real life. I want them to learn these things so that they can be successful in the future. Learning these things is not new.

How I help them learn these things are important and with having to teach online, I need to figure out how to change my teaching in order to accommodate their learning.

I have to change my mindset on how I teach.

I can’t teach the traditional way online. It is impossible. There are too many new variables in the students’ lives that impact learning the traditional way online. Students are cooped up at home with other family members of different ages and different needs. Technology may need to be shared with all members of the household. Parents may need the computer for work and other children in the house have to share the computer for their school work also.

I think it is important to look at activities that may not require technology in order to learn a specific skill. They might need instructions given in a short video or email, but the actual assignment would be done hands-on away from the computer.

I also need to take in consideration what supervision may be required of the assignment. If parents are working at home, helping their child with an assignment may take them away from their work.

I also need to consider what materials the student may have available at home. They may not be able to find the things they need to complete an assignment.

When planning assignments, I would want to give them choices. I would give at least three different assignments for them to choose from. I don’t want to give them too many because it might be overwhelming. The choices would involve different materials and possibly different stages of independence from supervision. From the choices, I hope that one of the assignments would fit their needs.

How has your teaching changed recently? Please share.

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

Friday, April 10, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 04/10/2020

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

30 Gratitude Games and Activities for Kids to Practice Thankfulness – “Gratitude is a transformative power backed by science. Practicing gratitude can improve our health, help us build deep and lasting relationships, and has even been linked to a longer, more fulfilling life. One study showed that practicing gratitude is linked with an uptick in weekly exercise and it can increase our happiness by 25%! These 30 gratitude games and activities for kids will teach your children to appreciate both big and small moments, turn mistakes into learning lessons, and be thankful for loved ones.” (L:G;SA:A)

Mrs. Wordsmith’s Foolproof Guide to Handwashing – “Kids will love Mrs Wordsmith’s free, Foolproof Guide to Handwashing. A fun, illustrated guide to give kids the most important information they need - what viruses are, how they spread, and what kids can do to keep themselves safe. The key message? Keep washing those hands. And don't pick your nose!”  (L:G;SA:A)

99Math – “How to get kids to practice their math skills during school closures? 99math helps kids learn from home.” (L:E;SA:M)

Nine tips for moving secondary teaching online – “Here Chandy offers advice for middle and high school teachers who are teaching online for the first time. While these tips can work with any digital learning platform — even an improvised one — they are designed for schools where every student has access to a computer and an internet connection.” (L:M,H;SA:A)

Resources from Two EdTech Guys Webinars – “Rushton Hurley of Next Vista for Learning and Richard Byrne of Free Technology For Teachers take your questions and share cool stuff in their free Friday webinars.” (L:G;SA:A)

Write an If-Then Adventure Story – “Collaborate with classmates to create an interactive story using Google Slides.”  (L:G;SA:LA)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Science Lessons at Home

While teaching remotely, it is important to find activities that will keep your students engaged. Hands-on activities and activities that involve movement are helpful. Visual lessons are also engaging.

Getting outside in the yard has a lot of science opportunities.
·      Look for things growing and keep a daily journal about growth.
·      Keep a record of the air temperature at the same time every day. Make a graph of the temperatures for one month.
·      Dig in the dirt and see what insects you find. Record the different things you find.

Having guest lectures by others is a great way to learn something.

·      Winter Adaptations at Yellowstone – “While the park is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, our education rangers are bringing the wonders of Yellowstone to teachers, students, parents, and lifelong learners virtually. Join Rangers Kate and Zach live as we explore the winter adaptations of Yellowstone’s wildlife!”

Live cams are a great resource. Students can watch animals and write about their observations. They can make up a story about the animal. They can research about the animal.

When planning science lessons, hands-on experiments are always the best but we need to make sure that if we ask students to do something they need to be supervised and have the materials available.

What other science activities would you recommend? Please share.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Lazy Teachers?!

In How Lazy Is Your Child’s Teacher? From Engage Their Minds, the author shares comments by a couple of podcasters:

“During the 3/28/2020 episode, the two hosts made a few comments about how teachers would be more willing for schools to open back up if they weren’t getting paid right now.  They suggested that teachers are not currently working, and that they are enjoying this paid vacation.”

I think this an easy thing for noneducators to say. For many, they see teachers as babysitters and resent that the children are now at home. Noneducators don’t really understand what it takes to be a teacher.

As in any profession, you will have hard workers and those that are just doing the job to get a paycheck. This is nothing new but to lump all teachers in the category of lazy is offensive and just plain wrong!

Noneducators need to realize that teachers are having to change the framework of their teaching. This does not happen overnight. You can’t translate traditional teaching into online teaching. It is as impossible as trying to translate the Chinese language into English word for word.

When noneducators have this attitude, they actually make teaching harder for the conscientious hard-working teacher. Let’s face it, it is hard to do a good job when you feel unappreciated for all the hard work that you do.

Imagine during this Coronavirus pandemic if people stated the health care workers are just doing their jobs to get paid. That is preposterous and insulting. They are putting their lives on the line just like policemen and firemen!

Sure, you may find some teachers who are overwhelmed and aren’t trying to change their teaching methods. They may feel resentful and discouraged by this whole situation. They may have family members who are negatively impacted by this situation too. By demeaning them and offending the whole profession is not helping.

If you feel that your child’s teacher is not meeting your child’s needs or being challenged, you need to do what you would do if this happened in school. Make a virtual appointment to talk with the teacher. If that doesn’t help, make a virtual appointment with an administrator. Don’t just claim the teacher is lazy and rant and rave to others. This doesn’t help the situation at all and only causes further resentment from everyone.

Over the past few weeks, I have attended many webinars with many other teachers that are geared to help teachers transition into online teaching. I have been in Skype conversations with other teachers in order to learn new strategies for teaching. I have been busier now with professional development than I ever have before. I hope all of this will help improve my online teaching performance.

How would you respond to the podcaster’s comments? Please share.