Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Uphill is Hard

I do a lot of hiking and I know that hiking uphill is harder for me than going downhill. For some reason, I feel like gravity helps me move downhill, but I don’t have any help pulling me uphill.

I feel that negative thoughts are a lot like going downhill. It is easier to believe negative thoughts than positive thoughts. It seems like negative thoughts have more traction and weight. More people around me seem to support my negative thoughts but their words, facial expressions, or body language. They may not mean them but that is how I perceive them. It is always easy to expect the worst, so I won’t be disappointed when it happens.

Positive thoughts are very much like going uphill. It is harder for some reason to believe good things than bad ones. I don’t know if it is because I don’t always believe I deserve good things or if I think it feels too much like having a big ego. I might also think that maybe whatever I did that was so good was a fluke or a mistake where I expect bad things to happen. It can hurt to hope for something good that doesn’t happen.

I have to remember that my students feel the same way. As a teacher, I’m trying to give them hope for a brighter future. I want to open up the world and all its possibilities to them. But by the time I have them in my class, they have faced many failures and disappointments. They are very distrustful that I’m going to make any difference to them.

I like to start out with tasks that I know that my students can complete successfully. It is like walking uphill over little hills. The more hills I can get them to go over, the easier it is to move to bigger hills. Eventually, the inclines become steeper and longer. Eventually, the tasks I give them will be harder and more complex.

I also like to remind them that going uphill is always going to be harder. I burn more calories, use more muscles, and even breathe harder. But the views are usually worth the trouble! Without the uphill, we couldn’t appreciate the downhill. 

 Photo by Fabrizio Conti on Unsplash

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

13th Blogiversary

I started this blog on 9/16/2007 and I missed this year's blogiversary. It is now 13 years old and I would never have thought that I would keep it up this long. I promised myself that I would do this only as long as I enjoy it and I feel that I'm helping others. I guess I still feel this way!

I thought I would share some statistics with you:

I have over 2.21 million page views.

I have over 352,000 comments.

Most people use Chrome to read my blog.

Most people use a Windows operating system.

1.2 million readers live in the United States.

Other readers come from at least 18 other countries.

I want to thank all of you that continue to read my blog. Please feel free to contact me if you have a topic you want me to write about or if you have a question you would like me to answer. If you want to know how I feel about a specific issue, I'd be happy to have that conversation with you. 

Monday, September 28, 2020


Recently I read the book The Honey Bus by Meredith May. I found it in my library and for some reason, the title caught my attention. I decided to give it a read and I'm glad I did. The author mixes up her troubled childhood with her discovery of bees through her grandfather's beehives. She talks about the many lessons she learned about bees by observing bee behavior and learning from her grandfather. I really enjoyed this book and if you have any interest in honey or honeybees, you might enjoy this book also.

After reading this book, I wanted to learn more about honeybees. I think that is a sign of a good nonfiction book. It makes you interested in learning more, then the author did a good job of sharing information.

Interesting facts about honeybees:

They live up to 5 years.

Honeybees are social and cooperative insects.

They live in colonies which consist of one queen bee, thousands of drone bees (male) and tens of thousands of female worker bees.

The drone's job is to mate with the queen. Then they die.

Once mated, the queen can lay 2000 eggs per day.

Young worker bees are nurse bees and they clean the hive and feed the larvae.

The nurse bees feed one single female larvae royal jelly and she will eventually become a queen bee.

All of the bees have different jobs. Their duties change depending on their age.

Young bees go into training before they go on their own to gather pollen.

Bees do different dances as a way of communicating with other bees. Here is a YouTube video showing the "Waggle":

In the winter, the bees huddle together with the queen in the center. They work together to keep the center at a specific temperature. The worker bees rotate so no bee gets too cold. They eat stored honey to produce body heat.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Friday, September 25, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/25/2020

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

NASA artifacts – “NASA is offering Space Program 'Artifacts' and 'Special Items' for use or display in your science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) themed program. Learn more about each of these two programs below and click on the respective icon to see what is available and make a request.” (L:T;SA:A)

50 Birds 50 States – NatGeo Kids; “Barry the bald eagle soars from coast to coast to meet state birds and learn about their homes. Each episode is an animated rap music video focusing on the big cities, history, landmarks, and significant geographical areas of each state.” (L:E;SA:SS)

ClassTools – “Create free games, quizzes, activities, and diagrams in seconds.” (L:T;SA:A)

Lesson Plan: Evaluating Historical Presidential Campaign Ads
– “This lesson looks at what factors make good campaign advertisements. It has students view televised presidential campaign advertisements starting with Dwight Eisenhower's "I like Ike" ad and continues through the 2016 presidential election. Students will view these campaign ads, analyze them and evaluate their effectiveness.” (L:H;SA:SS)

Bad News – “game; From fake news to chaos! How bad are you? Get as many followers as you can. - Our information sheets for the adult and junior versions of Bad News help educators use the game in class and provide details, background and additional information about the game.” (L:H;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Birthday Gratitude

This coming Sunday is my 61st birthday and since I don’t post on the weekend, I thought I would mention it here. 

 I’m excited about my birthday because I’m happy and proud that I’ve made it this far! 

 I’m so thankful for many things as my birthday arrives. 

 I am happy with my life! 

 I am loved by a wonderful man and my best friend. 

 I have family members who love me. 

 I have close friends who like me. 

 I have excellent health. 

 I have enough money to pay my bills. 

 I live comfortably but not lavishly. 

 I’m eating healthier. 

 I’m exercising regularly. 

 I have many hobbies that keep me entertained. 

 I have peace and joy in my life. 

 Thanks for sharing my birthday with me! 

 Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wellness Wednesday

In Wellness Wednesday from On an e-Journey with Generation Y, murcha shares, 

“To encourage our students and staff to have a day away from their screens, we were all given the opportunity to enjoy a Wellness Wednesday. We were encouraged to participate in activities that we like to do to help us destress.” 

I thought this was a great idea and I’m going to copy it. George Bernard Shaw said, “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest form of learning.” 

On Wednesdays, I’m going to share things that have helped my emotional and physical wellbeing. I hope you take the time to share what you have been doing. 

This past week: 
  • I have walked on the treadmill every day for 45 minutes. 
  • I have spent an hour each day reading a library book. 
  • I have gotten on a weekly zoom get together with other knitters from the Zombie Knitpocalyse Retreat. 
  • I wrote down one thing that I’m thankful for each day in my bullet journal. 
It is important to take care of ourselves without thinking that we are being lazy or selfish. I hope you find some inspiration from the things that make me happy so that you can do some things that make you happy too. 

Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Student Cam 2021

“StudentCam is C-SPAN's annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and our nation. 

This year students in grades 6-12 are asked to create a short (5-6 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the competition theme, "Explore the issue you most want the president and new Congress to address in 2021."” 

• “The competition is open to all students in grades 6-12. Grades 6-8 compete in the Middle School category, and grades 9-12 compete in the High School category. For more information, visit our Prizes page. 
• Students may compete individually, or in teams of either 2 or 3 members. 
• Documentaries must include clips of supporting or opposing C-SPAN video that relate to the chosen topic. 
• Winning StudentCam documentaries will thoroughly explore a variety of viewpoints related to the chosen topic, including those that may oppose the filmmakers points of view. We recommend that you interview experts on your chosen subject. 
• Documentaries must be between 5-6 minutes in length. *End credits, if applicable, must begin after the 5-minute mark but are permitted to run longer than the allotted 6-minute time frame. 
• Entries must include either end credits or a works cited list. Students can use whichever format they currently use to cite their sources.” Deadline: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 “The upload and submission deadline for all entries in our 2021 competition. All eligible entries must be received by midnight PST at the end of the day on Wednesday, January 20.”

Monday, September 21, 2020

Hand dyeing Yarn

Recently I tried dyeing variegated yarn using the kettle method.  Here is the procedure that I followed. 

Supplies Needed: 
  • Plastic Tub 
  • Water 
  • Citric Acid 
  • Acid Dyes 
  • Mask 
  • Rubber gloves 
  • Plastic Ties 
  • Measuring spoons (1 T, 1/8 tsp) 
  • Stove 
  • Gentle Soap 
    1. Put plastic ties on each skein of yarn. 
    2. I soaked my yarn (BFLSuperwash Wool 85%/ 25% Nylon) in a tub of warm water with 1 Tablespoon of Citric Acid for 30 minutes. 
    3. I brought a pot of water to a boil and then turned it down to simmer. 
    4. Put on mask and gloves. 
    5. I squeezed out excess water from the yarn. 
    6. Add yarn to the pot and make sure it is covered by the water. 
    7. Using 1/8 tsp. of dye color 1 sprinkled the dye on top. 
    8. Let simmer for 5 min. or until water is clear. 
    9. Pull out the yarn and rotate 45 degrees on the holder. 
    10. Using 1/8 tsp. of dye color 1 sprinkled the dye on top. 
    11. Let simmer for 5 min. or until water is clear. 
    12. Pull out the yarn and rotate 45 degrees on the holder. 
    13. Repeat as many times there are different colors. 
    14. After the last color is completely absorbed, remove yarn into a plastic tub to cool. 
    15. Once cool, gently wash in soap and water. 
    16. Hang to dry. 
Things I Learned: 
  1. I should make mini skeins and try the colors first before I do a full skein of yarn. 
  2. Wet wool stinks. 
  3. The plastic ties really work well. 
  4. I need to get better gloves to handle the heat and the hot wool/water. 
  5. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to try it again. 
  6. I want to buy a different shade of blue, purple, and pink dye for the next time.
Original Photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, September 18, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/18/2020

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 to Design Posters and Print Them With a Standard Printer – “That alternative is to use Canva to design a poster and Block Posters to print the poster using a standard printer with standard size paper. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about using the combination of Canva and Block Posters. I made the following video to illustrate how easy it is to use this combination of tools.” (L:T;SA:A)

Why Do Whales Sing? – a TED-ed lesson; “Communicating underwater is challenging. Light and odors don’t travel well, but sound moves about four times faster in water than in air — which means marine mammals often use sounds to communicate. The most famous of these underwater vocalizations is undoubtedly the whale song. Stephanie Sardelis decodes the evocative melodies composed by the world’s largest mammals.” (L:G;SA:S)

QuickCite – “Simple and easy attributions for images, quotes, videos, and animations used in projects like slideshows and websites.” (L:G;SA:A)

Owning a Car – “In this personal finance lesson, students will analyze the cost of owning a car and decide what they can afford.” (L:H;SA:C)

Try This – Nat Geo Kids – “Try these fun, wacky, and cool science experiments at home!” (L:E;SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 17, 2020

It's Your Choice

I recently posted this on Facebook and I wanted to share this with anyone who reads my blog. Even though I didn’t write it, I truly agree with all of it! I hope you do too!

I don’t know who wrote this but someone FINALLY put into words what many of us are thinking. Please. Just be a good human being.

I’m sick of CoVid-19.

I’m sick of blacks vs. whites.

I’m sick of Democrats vs. Republicans.

I’m REALLY sick of the media.

I’m really sick of the wearing a mask debate.

I’m sick of no one being allowed to think what they want & feel how they do without offending someone.

I am sick of the people who are out there jumping on the bandwagon just to spread hatred. And start riots, looting & destroying others properties.

I am sick of blaming the world for the sins of a few.

We’re one race - the human race.

You want to support Trump? You do it! It’s your choice!

You want to support Biden? You do it! It's your choice!

You want to believe in God? You do it! It's your choice.

You want to believe in magical creatures that fly around & sprinkle fairy dust to make life better? Awesome... you do it!!

BUT how about being MATURE enough to be able to deal with the fact that everyone doesn’t have the same exact mind-set as you. Having our own mind-set is what makes us all individuals and beautiful. If you can’t handle that fact....oh well!

I don’t have to agree with everything you believe in & YOU don’t have to agree with me.

It's your choice! It's our own choice!

So be a decent human being.

You don't have to like it or agree. It's your choice! Keep scrolling... It's that easy!!!!

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Oconee State Park

One of our favorite SC state parks we like to camp at is Oconee State Park. It is located in Mountain Rest, SC, and consists of 1165 acres. The southern end of the 85-mile Foothills Trail and the western end of the Oconee Passage of the Palmetto Trail are also located in this park.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) created this park in the 1930s. There are fifteen cabins, the superintendent’s residence, four picnic shelters, a bathhouse, and a swimming lake. You can swim, rent canoes, and fish here.

The campground has 139 sites with water and electric and 15 designated tent sites.

Near the swimming lake is a CCC replica waterwheel plus an eighteen-hole miniature golf course.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Learning About Hawks

I recently read H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald. It is the story by the author about the year she spent training a goshawk after dealing with her father’s death. This year of training helped her deal with the death of her father.

I enjoyed this book because I learned a lot about goshawks. As I’ve said before, I enjoy learning new things. I didn’t realize what was entailed with training this hawk. Hearing about the different techniques and the process from start to end was totally fascinating.

I also learned new falconry terminology that I thought I would share with you.
  • Bate – beating wings impatiently
  • Braces – leather straps on the hood
  • Hood – a leather cap that goes over the hawk’s head to help keep it calm and quiet.
  • Jesses – short leather straps attached to the hawk’s legs
  • Mews – place where the hawk lives whle molting
  • Mutes – hawk poop
  • Pelt – dead bird caught by a hawk
  • Sails – wings of a hawk
  • Swivel – metal device on the leash of the jesses which prevents twisting
  • After reading this book, I couldn’t wait to look for some videos on goshawks.
Falconry: Introduction to Goshawks – “This video introduces the Northern Goshawk and explains basic biology, hunting abilities, and pros and cons of training a goshawk in the sport of falconry.”

Falconry Diaries | Cloud the Goshawk | Part 1

“Welcome to the first part of a series of training diaries documenting the process of training a falconry hawk. I hope to give you an insight into the work involved and the way the hawk develops as training progresses. There are lots of ways to approach falconry and training raptors. This is a way that works for me. Often I will tweak what I do depending on the bird as each are individuals. That's, after all, what makes falconry so challenging and interesting.”

If you get a chance, check out the book or the videos.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Bitmoji for the Classroom

I recently was contacted by Paul Burke, VP of Simple Slides. He wanted to gift teachers 100+ Free Bitmoji Classroom Templates.

Here is the press release:

Newest Trend for Engaging Students Virtually? 

Bitmoji Classrooms - Simple Slides Launches Bundle of 100+ Bitmoji Slides and Templates for Educators

SEATTLE, WA - -Simple Slides, a Seattle-based company offering the largest library of PowerPoint Slides and Templates online, is offering a new product designed specifically for educators… and restless students.

They are donating the first 5,000 orders to teachers for free.

The company’s Bitmoji Classroom Template and Slides Pack is the first and largest offering of Bitmoji Classroom Templates online.

“There are a number of teachers in my family and we’ve been having conversations for weeks about how education is changing,” says Paul Burke, VP of Simple Slides. “As soon as they mentioned this idea of Bitmoji classrooms, it became obvious that there was an incredible need to help teachers adapt to teaching online”.

Searches for Bitmoji classroom templates have exploded in recent weeks as Labor Day weekend approaches signaling the start of school for many districts.

While teachers can design their own classroom templates, it's a “tedious process,” says Burke.

The templates have a variety of backgrounds for science, math, language arts, history, space and more. Included are items frequent in classrooms like whiteboards--where teachers can pin assignments, videos and lesson plans--posters with inspirational quotes, chairs, plants and more.

“Especially now, educators need to deliver variety, spontaneity and fun to their students. This is an easy and fresh way to keep students engaged,” says Tom Cote, CEO of Simple Slides.”

I hope you check these out. It seems like they can be very useful!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 09/11/2020

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

SCETV Kids Club – “Designed for children ages 12 and under, the Kids Club provides an opportunity for access to special SCETV Kids activities and events, free swag, and a whole lot more! What better way to stay connected to all things Smart Cat, ETV, and PBS. As part of the SCETV Kids Club, members will receive access to cool videos from our pal, Smart Cat, and fun activities to share with family and friends.” (L:E;SA:A)

SC Drivers Ed Course – “First-time drivers often wonder where to begin their study of rules of the road, road signs and other essential driving topics. The answer is simple: start with a reputable driver’s education course! The drivers ed course provided on this page has been designed to accompany the official SC driving manual, to help you get ready for the DMV permit test and build your confidence behind-the-wheel. Unlike state-mandated drivers ed classroom courses, this program is completely free to use and need not be completed within a specific time frame. Get started right away and return to the South Carolina driver’s ed course whenever you need to brush-up, over the coming weeks and months.” (L:H;SA:LA,C)

SC DMV Practice Test – “As a new driver’s license applicant in South Carolina, your journey toward a learner’s permit begins here! This is home to our free SC DMV practice test for 2020 applicants, which covers road signs, rules of the road, traffic signals and other essential driving knowledge. We have put this quiz together to help you study for the SC DMV permit test, which you must pass with a score 80% or over to qualify for a learner’s permit. Working through the DMV permit practice test South Carolina questions on this quiz will introduce you to some of the key road rules and road signs which will likely be addressed during the permit test. It will also give you an easy way to track your development, as you work through the information in the SC permit test study guide.” (L:H;SA:LA,C)

Teaching Students with Visual Impairments – “The mission of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments is to provide all persons involved in the student's education with the necessary resources they need to help each student become successful members of their communities and to equip those in the visual impairment field with a readily available resource to meet the wide range of needs of the students they serve. If you are entering, or currently in the vision field, you will find information related to all areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum as well as other resources related to all aspects of instructing students with visual impairments and adapting the environment, materials, and method of instruction. You will also find information on teaching strategies, professional development opportunities, and resources to continue your professional growth. If you are a classroom teacher, therapist or administrator unfamiliar with working with students who are blind or visually impaired, this site will assist you in preparing and creating a learning environment that is adapted to meet the unique needs of the students and to help you confidently teach them.” (L:T;SA:A)

Brightful Meeting Games – “Just because you've moved your meetings online, it doesn't mean you have to lose the human connection. We've designed five ridiculously fun icebreaker games to spark a little excitement and laughter in your next virtual gathering.” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Positive Thinking

In Optimism as a choice from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“Positive thinking doesn’t solve every problem. But it’s a much better tool than negative thinking.”

It is so easy to get into the rut of negative thinking. Negative thinking is so much easier to do. For some reason, negative thinking floats to the top much easier than positive thinking does. Why is positive thinking so much heavier?

Is it because it is easier to believe negative thinking? Is it easier to think the worst than hope for the best?

When I have negative thinking, everything seems hopeless. I feel helpless and out of control. There is nothing that I can do that will make a difference. Why should I bother even trying? What good will it do? How can someone like me make any kind of difference?

I find that I am more able to solve problems when I am being more positive. When I’m being positive, I can hope to find a solution. I know there is an answer out there and I just have to find it. I need to keep trying and not give up. Even someone like me can make a difference. It reminds me of how a tiny pebble that is thrown into a huge body of water can still cause a ripple.

Sometimes when I get discouraged about my teaching ability, I try to remind myself this. I have a friend who is going through student teaching and is feeling overwhelmed. I want to reassure her that even experienced teachers feel this way.

There are some days that are lessons don’t go the way we hope and expect. That is okay. We just need to try to do better next time.

There are times that we don’t act the way we think was best. That is okay. It is important to reflect and see what happened and why we acted the way we did. Have a plan on how you will act differently if the situation happens again. With a plan, it is easier to know what to do.

There are some days that we are just not the best that we hope to be. That is okay. We all have bad days. It is important not to consistently have too many bad days in a row. If this happens, then some changes need to be made either in our thinking, acting, or teaching.

The important thing is to not let the negative thoughts win. You can’t make progress with negative thoughts. They are a dead end and leads nowhere.

Positive thoughts lead to hope. They lead to possible solutions. They lead to progress. Eventually they will lead to success in whatever you hope to do in life.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Not Myself Today – Book Review

I recently read Not Myself Today by Muriel Ellis Pritchett. I read a review copy compliments of Netgalley. I am not being paid to give this review.

The main character, Lindsey, is a high school senior who is about to graduate. Unfortunately, she dies on the soccer field and when she awakes, she is in the body of a 14-year-old sex trafficking victim. The story deals with how Lindsey adjusts to being in a different body and how her new body is in danger from two men who want to kill the body that she is in. This book would be a great classroom novel for the high school level. Topics that could be discussed would be death, paranormal, sex trafficking, and peer relationships. It was easy to read and very interesting. I think students would enjoy reading this book.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Being Unsure

In The opposite of confidence from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“Being unsure can be healthy. It can help us focus on how we can make our work more likely to become the contribution we seek.”

When I am unsure, I work harder to find facts that helps me become more confident.

As a teacher, I can be confident that I will work towards finding the key to helping my students become successful but I’m not confident that my students will be successful. I can’t guarantee that because that is up to the student.

That is why I need to make sure that I arm myself with as many tools as I can find to help my student. Since my students may all have different needs, there is no one tool that will work for everyone. This means that my tool arsenal needs to varied and abundant. Sometimes the same tool will not work for the same student because the circumstances are different.

It is also important that my students see and understand that I’m unsure about what will work for them. They need to see how to look for resources that will work and not be afraid to try different ones. They need to understand that just because a tool doesn’t work for them does not spell out failure. It just means that this specific tool was not the right one to get the job done.

By modeling this for my students, I can help them to learn how to do research and look for new tools. This is an important skill to learn because I won’t always be able to help them after they leave my class.

I’m reminded of this when I see a former student, who was diagnosed with autism, learn new skills, and become more and more independent over the years. We are friends on Facebook so I can see when she tries something new and is successful. I feel like I’m in the cheerleader section cheering her on! I hope that the things she learned in my classroom have enabled her to continue her personal growth over the many years since she graduated from my class.

I also hope that there are many other students who I don’t have any contact with who continue to learn new skills that help them become more confident in their lives. I hope these skills help them be more successful in their careers and in their relationships with others.

How do you help your students when they are unsure? Please share.

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Monday, September 7, 2020

How to Stop Cheating

I’m asked about this issue many times by new teachers. Now that many students are learning remotely, I’m asked about this by many teachers, even experienced ones.

The best way I think I achieve this is by moving away from tests that ask students to regurgitate what they have learned through multiple choice questions, T/F, or short or long essays. That really doesn’t show me that they have learned and understood what they have learned.

I think the best way to assess students is by having them produce something that shows they have learned something. This also can appeal to students who have different learning styles. Some students may be more creative than others, but all are expected to make something new from their learning.

Years ago my class read the novel, The Scarlet Letter. This was required reading in some English classes but my students with special needs read the graphic novel. I told them from the start that they would have to make something at the end to show they read and understood the novel. I suggested some things such as a movie poster, a skit, a song, a dance, wall graffiti (on poster board), a brochure, a clay sculpture or anything else that they could think of (if approved by me). I was so proud of my students with all the creative items they produced! One girl went to vintage stores and came up with costumes for the time period. I think her and her mother sewed some things up from scraps. Another boy who attended machine shop at the vocational school made a pillory from metal.

By creating something themselves, they took ownership in their learning. No one was able to cheat or copy anything. It also kept the students engaged during learning because they were looking closely at things that they could possible do as a final project.

I have no doubt that all of my students learned something from that novel. Their reading decoding skills improved, reading comprehension improved, and they were able to show their understanding in their own way.

Recently I saw a student who was in that class 40+ years ago, and he still remembers doing that project!

How do you prevent cheating? Please share.

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Friday, September 4, 2020

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom

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

NKCES Professional Learning Online – “At NKCES, #BetterTogether and #ConnectGrowServe are more than just hashtags - it's the foundation of our work. To support our community of educators, we're offering ALL of our online professional learning on this site for free!” (L:T;SA:A)

A Handful of Chrome Apps for Students with Learning Disabilities – “s for Chrome web browser, to empower it with assistive technology to help students with learning disabilities, we need to install third party extensions which you can find in Chrome Web Store. We have spent hours checking the options it has there and came up with the collection below. These are add-ons to help students with LDs learn and perform better. This is a work in progress and we will be adding more to the list in the future.” (L:T;SA:A)

Google Spotlight Stories – “Google Spotlight Stories means storytelling for VR. We are artists and technologists making immersive stories for mobile 360, mobile VR and room-scale VR headsets, and building the innovative tech that makes it possible. Enjoy the experience - look, listen, explore - and never worry that you'll miss anything.” (L:T;SA:A)

Playing History – “There are tons of free historical games, interactives and simulations on the web. Playing history aggregates info on these resources in a simple, searchable database making it easy to find, rate, and review historical games. There are currently 126 shared games.” (L:G;SA:SS)

Productivity Tool – Answer 6 questions to get tips on how to be more productive (L:H;SA:A)

Presidential Libraries – US National Archives You Tube channel (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 3, 2020

On the List

I am so excited that I made the list! Recently I was contacted about being one of the Top US Education Blogs for this year.

“We always love reading education bloggers’ excellent teaching tips, strategic lesson planning, and funny classroom stories, and we thought we’d take the opportunity to showcase some of our favorites from this year. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s our list of best U.S. education blogs for 2020…”

If you get a chance, please check out the list!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

2020 Goals Review for August

August was a good month. We decided to try a plant-based diet and it really kicked my body into some weight loss. I did a lot of gardening, reading, and knitting. We were able to go on 2 camping trips and disconnect from electronics. I was very happy with my progress this month!

1. Lose 5 lbs. Hopefully this year I will be able to meet this goal. – This month I lost 4 lbs. I’ve lost 8 lbs. from January 1. Since my weight goes up and down, I will not count this goal as met until the end of the year and I can keep at least 5 lbs. off from the beginning of the year.

202010,000 Steps +25g of sugar or less

2. Crafts – I’m on track for accomplishing this goal.
a. Knit 12 squares on my national park blanket. I have a total of 35 completed now. (There are 60 squares in the pattern, and this is year 3 of the project.)
i. Completed 10 squares this year
b. Charity – I want to crochet at least 3 prayer shawls and make 10 more NICU hats.
i. January – prayer shawl completed
ii. February – prayer shawl completed
iii. June – prayer shawl complete
iv. July – 5 NICU hats.
c. Knit a sweater. – Completed the Ground Pepper Sweater
d. Knit a ZigZag scarf – Completed
e. Repair the neckline on the Henley sweater I made a few years ago. – I looked at the sweater and realized that to fix the neckline, I would have to rip out both button bands and at this time, I’m not sure I want to do all that work so this goal probably won’t happen. I should receive partial credit for at least looking at it and considering it. 

3. Read 12 nonfiction books that are related to nature. – I’m on track for accomplishing this goal.
a. The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired A Nation by Elizabeth Letts
b. A Lion Called Christian: The True Story of the Remarkable Bond between Two Friends and a Lion by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall
c. The Adventures of Henry Thoreau: A Young Man's Unlikely Path to Walden Pond by Michael Sims
d. The Story of My Boyhood and Youth by John Muir
e. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
f. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf
g. The House of Owls by Tony Angell
h. Forces of Nature by Brian Cox
i. The Nature Fix by Florence Williams
j. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald 

How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.

Photo by 30daysreplay (PR & Marketing) on Unsplash

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Devils Fork State Park

Devil’s Fork State Park is located near Salem, South Carolina. The park consists of 622 acres and was created in 1990. There are many small waterfalls that feed Lake Jocassee and is the home of the rare flower, the Oconee Bell. 90% of the world’s population of this flower is found at Devil’s Fork State Park. There is a campground and a park store/gift shop at the ranger station here. Most of the activities to do involve the lake and water sports. You can fish in Lake Jocassee and you will find many boaters on the lake. On-site kayak and canoe rentals are available. This the only public access to the lake. Some people even scuba dive here where there is thirty-foot visibility. There is a swimming area with no lifeguard in the park. Some people even like to do geocaching here. There is also a 1-mile nature trail called The Oconee Bell Trail where you can find the flower and identify birds.

Lake Jocassee is a 7565 acre, 300-foot-deep lake that is fed by four mountain streams and several waterfalls. The lake was created by the state and Duke Power in 1973. The Jocassee Dam forms the lake and is 385 feet high and 1750 feet long. Most of the manmade structures were demolished when the lake was created but divers found the remains of a lodge that was left intact. The Mt. Carmel Baptist Church Cemetery was a setting used in the film Deliverance in 1972 and is now underwater in the lake.