Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Pink Beds Trail

Last weekend we went in search of cooler temperatures so we headed to Pisgah Forest in Brevard, NC. The temperatures were lower but the humidity was still high. It was a comfortable day for hiking because the sky was overcast the whole time. Of course, this made it better for taking pictures so I was happy. The gnats were bothersome the whole time because there was a lot of standing water and boggy areas.  I hope you enjoy the video of our hike! 



Monday, August 2, 2021

2021 Goals Review for July

I started back to work this month so I didn’t exercise much. I also went out to lunch more often with friends. But I was able to get some other things done. It was a good month overall. So far I've completed 40% of my goals!

1.     Lose 5 lbs. – My weight stayed the same this month.

2.     Knit 12 squares on my national park blanket. (There are 60 squares in the pattern and this is year 4 of the project.) – 51 squares complete. I’ve knit 2 squares this month for a total of 12 squares this year.

3.     Knit a sweater. – I finished the Nesting Cardigan and I finished The Rocket Tee. – completed!

4.     Design 3 new patterns – I published two designs (The Chinese New Year Cowl and the Double Happiness Socks).

5.     Read 12 nonfiction books. – 10 books completed so far.

a.     Counting by Deborah Stone

b.     My Paddle to the Sea by John Lane

c.     Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl

d.     Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak

e.     In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

f.      The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

g.     The Body by Bill Bryson

h.     Kiss Me Like a Stranger by Gene Wilder

i.      The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron

j.      Sprinting Through No Man's Land: Endurance, Tragedy, and Rebirth in the 1919 Tour de France by Adin Dobkin 

 

How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.

 

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Friday, July 30, 2021

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

City X Project - “The City X Project toolkit is the most educationally relevant introductory 3D printing and design thinking curriculum available for 8 to 12 year-olds. It is a detailed guide to facilitating the City X Project workshop with your own students. Though it is best run with a 3D printer, the City X Project still works great using just free 3D modeling software recommended in our instructor’s guide.” (L:E,;SA:SS, M, LA)

Whimsical - “Whimsical is a unified collaboration medium combining docs and whiteboards.” (L:T,;SA:A)

Circly - “Visual organizer platform for you and your team.” (L:T,;SA:A)

Facing History and Ourselves - “Get more Teaching Ideas, Explainers, strategies and other resources for addressing current events and tough topics with your students.” (L:T,;SA:SS)

EdForm - “Transform your worksheets into interactive auto-graded digital activities.” (L:T,;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A couple of weekends ago, I went hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway with my husband. It really showed me how out of shape I was and how I need to lose weight. Nothing like a reality check to wake you up! Many of my students don’t get out in nature much so I always like to share pictures with them about my hikes. Here is a video I made from that hike. I hope you enjoy it! 


Video made by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Worth

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

Many of my students have failed so many times that they don’t feel like they have any worth. It is so sad to see a person so downtrodden at such a young age. They don’t have any hope and have such a lack of energy to even try to get better. They feel so lonely and just want to give up.

One of the first things I do in my class is to try to change this around. I don’t feel like we can move forward until I can show them that there is hope. They can succeed and I am here to help them. They are not alone.

I start off by introducing the class motto: I am a Born Winner! They have to write this on every paper they turn in for a grade. I start off the morning by having everyone say this together. Throughout the class, I may stop and ask individual students what our class motto is. Before they leave my class, everyone says this together. Eventually, they start believing it.

I also find out what levels they are learning at. At first, I may give an assignment that I know they can complete successfully. I may give several assignments like this so that they start having some successful experiences. Then I slip in some harder work and I stay close to help them navigate the work successfully. Eventually, I wean my assistance from them until they can do it on their own. Sometimes they don’t even realize that they have been successful. I tell them it is like learning to ride a bike. Sometimes there is someone holding their bike as they learn and then all of a sudden they can do it all by themselves.

I also try to learn something new with them. Sometimes I make mistakes but it is good for them to see this. I try to explain that making mistakes doesn’t change my worth at all. It is the motivation for me to not give up and to try harder.

I also explain that everyone has their individual strengths and no one is great at everything. Just because someone is better at something than I am doesn’t make that person better than I am. It is when we put our individual strengths together that make us stronger.

Once students start having hope that they can succeed, they are willing to take risks. Once they see that failure or success does not measure a person’s worth, they are more comfortable with trying new things.

How do you help students see their worth? Please share.

Photo by Sabrinna Ringquist on Unsplash

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Follow.It

If you subscribe to my blog, then you may have gotten a request from Follow.It. I had used Feedburner previously for subscribers to sign up for updates to my blog but Feedburner has been discontinued. I have switched over to Follow.It and moved my subscribers to this platform so you may get a message from them. I wasn’t sure how the process worked on switching over to this platform but they send you a message that you need to approve in order to stay subscribed. I hope you continue to follow me in the future. If you know anyone else who may be interested, feel free to pass the word along.

If you aren’t sure how to subscribe to this site, just look on the left and give your email address where it says, “Get New Posts by Email.”

If you are a new subscriber, thank you for subscribing and I hope you enjoy it!



Monday, July 26, 2021

Variety

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

Again, I have a balancing act with adding variety in the class. I know that my students find success in structure but I want there to be some variety in order to keep the students engaged. Here are some ways that I can have variety and still have structure.

Without variety, students may become bored and not as successful. By introducing some variety, it will help to keep students engaged in learning. When students are engaged, there are fewer behavior problems.

Have the same routine of activities but change the topics.

Allow students to suggest topics that they want to learn more about.

Allow students a choice of activities (pick 3 out of the 4 or 5 choices).

From a list of 4 assessments, let students choose which assessment they want to do.

Allow students to choose how they want to share information that they researched.

Variety is a good thing to have because variety will always happen in everyone’s life. It is better to learn to adjust to variety while students have a support system. Warn students ahead of time of any changes to their “routine” so the change will be easier to adjust to.

How do you incorporate variety in the classroom? Please share.

Photo by JACQUELINE BRANDWAYN on Unsplash

Friday, July 23, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/23/21

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

ONE-PAGER FOR GENIUS HOUR IN KINDERGARTEN AND FIRST GRADES - “Of course, with Kindergarten and 1st grades, many students may not have those foundational skills. I wanted to round up a few suggestions for primary teachers, so I went in search of resources that I could summarize and/or link to in case you want to save yourself a bit of time.” (L:E;SA:A)

Genius Hour Kindergarten specific - “• Students need to be taught that what they are already doing every day is wondering (asking questions, exploring, trying new things, etc.) and that it is a powerful skill to have.” (L:E;SA:A)

Beginner's Guide to Arcade Games - “Learn to create arcade games of your own by completing tutorials that focus on greeting cards, a clicker game, and a collector game starring a dinosuar that's determined to save dino babies!” (L:E;SA:C)

Quiver Vision - “QuiverVision produces and publishes the most creative and captivating Augmented Reality mobile apps for kids, families and schools. Established by a team of passionate Augmented Reality enthusiasts, and combining physical with digital, QuiverVision apps deliver truly magical experiences enjoyed by kids, parents, and educators alike. Our premier App is called “Quiver” and is available on iOS, Android and Fire OS.” (L:T;SA:A)

John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive - “The John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive is one of the most comprehensive documentary studies of vernacular commercial structures along main streets, byways, and highways throughout the United States in the twentieth century.” (L:T;SA:SS,FA)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Urgency

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

I feel a sense of urgency when I am in the classroom. I have a need to make sure all the standards and expectations are met that are determined by the school. I have my own personal goals that I’ve set for myself and if I don’t meet them, I feel discouraged. I feel the eagerness of my students who know that they are behind and they want to catch up to their peers. Yet, I also feel their anxiety and fear of failure.

It is hard to balance out this sense of urgency for this need for patience.

I know sometimes other people expect something from us and they have a need for urgency. Yet, we can let their need cause us to lower the quality of the results. I might have an urgent need for a piece of apple pie, so I will bake one. But if my urgency causes me to take it out of the oven before it is fully baked, it will probably taste awful. We need to make sure the timelines match the need for quality even if the need is urgent.

Sometimes we fall short of our goals because we want success to happen quickly and it won’t without practice and patience. Sometimes we learn from our mistakes which means progress will be a little slower. We feel impatient and discouraged when we make mistakes because we know that these experiences will slow us down. I explain to my students that all people feel this way. It is natural to feel this way and sometimes we have to give ourselves some room to grow.

Sometimes new learning doesn’t happen immediately. If we expect too much too quickly, we may be disappointed. Our brain has to process it and we might have to practice it before it becomes natural. Eventually what we have learned may become so natural that we don’t even think about it anymore.

That sense of urgency in the classroom comes from wanting to learn. I hope that my students never lose that sense of urgency even though they need to rein it in and learn to balance it with patience.

How do you handle urgency in the classroom? Please share.

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Thesaurus

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

When I was a child, I was given a thesaurus and taught how to use it. It was so much fun. Yet, we don’t teach our students how to use a thesaurus anymore, either in print or online.

I know when students are in elementary school, we teach them about synonyms. I believe it is during this time that we introduce them to the thesaurus. I show my students a print version (they can usually be found in the library). If there are multiple copies, I put students in groups and give each group a list of words. I have them find the “best” word that is a synonym for each word. Then I will have each group share their words and then we vote on the “best” word. This is such a fun activity that the students really enjoy it.

Next, I will find a paragraph in a book and display the paragraph. I ask students to pick a word that we think would be better if we found a different word to use. Then I have them look up the word in the thesaurus and give me some choices for a better word. At first, they want to look up every word and then they find out that some words are just better as they are.

Next, I have my students write a paragraph about their favorite toy or trip. When I review the paragraphs, I underline words that I want the students to look up in the thesaurus to find a more interesting word to use. Then they will share their paragraph with a partner or the class. This activity can also be done with a poem.

Some word processing programs will have a thesaurus in the program. It is good to show students how to use one if it is available.

Do you have your students use a thesaurus in class? If so, what activities do you do? Please share.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Structure

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

I am one of those people who like structure in my life. I like routines and I like knowing what to expect. Of course, this desire for structure needs to be balanced with flexibility. It is too easy to get into a rut and that makes any change in my schedule harder to handle. The deeper the rut, the harder it is to adjust to changes that happen. Of course, every day involves change.

My husband is not a planner so we have really had to compromise on planning trips so that we both feel comfortable with the plan. So, I come up with a tentative schedule and places I want to go. Each night on our trip, we reevaluate the schedule by looking at the weather, and what we want to do. Sometimes we stay in that city an extra day or we may go in a different direction because of the weather. I still feel like I have a plan (structure) and my husband feels like he has the flexibility so we both enjoy the trip.

I know many of my students with special needs do really well with structure. So, how do I balance structure and flexibility for my students?

One way that I do this is by giving a general schedule. I help my students know what to expect that we are doing today but explain that the specific things may change. We may do math at a certain time but the activities and assignments will change.

Knowing that changes are going to happen ahead of time helps everyone be prepared for the change. That is also a structure to embed in the schedule. For example, before I change to a different subject, I warn students that in 10 minutes we will finish Writing and will move on to Math. I then give a 5-minute warning to finish up and clean up what they are working on. So, when I make the transition to Math, it goes more smoothly. For younger children, this also works well for going to lunch, related arts classes, or recess and also returning back to the class.

How do you deal with structure in your class? Please share.

Photo by Vishal Vasnani on Unsplash

Monday, July 19, 2021

Reasoning

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

Reasoning means the action of thinking about something in a logical and sensible way.

I don’t believe that students are born knowing how to reason.

Reasoning is a very difficult skill and I believe even some adults have difficulties with this. The big problem is that seeing something as logical and sensible is very subjective. What I believe to be logical and sensible might not seem that way to someone else.

Many times my husband and I have disagreed on how something is done in our home. I think I’m doing it in a logical way and he thinks it is totally illogical. His way of doing things seems illogical to me sometimes. It all depends on the person’s perspective.

My students with special needs don’t always see things in the same way as other people see them. So, their reasoning doesn’t always match what others think it should be. Yet, too many times, they are told that their way is the wrong way and I disagree with that.

I try to explain to my students that achieving a goal can happen in different ways. It is like driving to a specific city and people may use different routes to get there. No route is the wrong way if it gets them to where they want to go. Some routes may take longer to get there or have construction on the way but if they reach their destination, each route was the right way.

When I make learning too rigid, I meet resistance from the students. I need to be open to the different ways that my students may show their reasoning skills. When I’m not sure about their reasoning, I have them explain to me how they got to their end result. By understanding how they arrived at this result, I may be able to find out where they may have gone wrong in their reasoning.

How do you help your students develop reasoning skills? Please share.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Friday, July 16, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/16/21

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

Using Data and/or Infographics for Learning - Resources for teachers to use with students. Curated by Terri Eichholz. (L:T;SA:A)

Give yourself permission to be creative - a TED talk by Ethan Hawke (L:T;SA:A)

ChatterPIxKids - “Simply take any photo, draw a line to make a mouth, and record your voice. Then share your Pix with friends and family as silly greetings, playful messages, creative cards, or even fancy book reports. And best of all, it’s FREE! AGES: 6-12.” (L:E,M;SA:A)

Narakeet - “Stop wasting time on recording voice, synchronising picture with sound and adding subtitles. Let Narakeet do all the dull tasks, so you can focus on the content. Edit videos as easily as editing text.” (L:T;SA:A)

PayGrade - “PayGrade is an immersive experience for students to learn everything related to personal finance like budgeting, paying bills, earning an income, saving, investing and more. Students learn to navigate the complex world of personal finance and experience real world money situations in a safe space - the classroom.” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 15, 2021

IEP Meeting Facilitator

It is really hard to be an IEP meeting facilitator because you are juggling many different hats. You are the liaison between administrators, educators, and parents. You are the leader who needs to keep everyone following the meeting agenda. You are also the peacemaker during conflicts.

Recently on one of my discussion boards, this question was asked:

“I am preparing for a job interview as an IEP meeting facilitator in my building. What would be the best way to respond to the question, how would you handle when a member of an IEP team disagrees with placement or eligibility?”

Here is what I responded:

“In response to how I would handle a situation when a member of an IEP team disagrees with placement or eligibility, I would do the following:
  • Listen to why the team member disagrees.
  • Consider their concerns.
  • Offer possible answers to their concerns.
  • If further information or consideration is needed to make an informed decision, ask that the meeting be reconvened at a later time to address these concerns.”
Further discussion brought other responses such as

“I have often dealt with this question. On my team we take the time to discuss the eligibility and the placement prior to the meeting. On our agenda we have a goal to meet at a Special Ed team up to 10 days prior to the meeting. As you know you have 45 days to meet with the parents therefore on my team we set a goal to have testing finished in 35 days. This way if there is any disagreement we can discuss it and make sure the team is clear on the recommendations. Be sure that the decision for the recommendation is based on the data of the testing, observations, teacher and parent input.”

As a response to the above comments, someone stated, “I know that a lot of teams will have 'the meeting before the meeting', but I would be very careful about discussing placement before an IEP is written because we cannot pre-determine placement. That is the last piece. After the IEP is agreed upon, the team must determine LRE. Be careful about documenting pre-determinations as that could get you into some legal issues.”

I also felt the need to respond because I feel that parent involvement is vital to helping the student be successful in whatever placement is decided. It is easy to fall into ways that seem easier for the educators but is really not appropriate no matter how much easier it is.

Remember that parents are part of the IEP team. Any discussions about placement or eligibility need to involve them in order to make the best decision for the student. The law clearly states that parents have the right to participate in meetings related to the evaluation, identification, and educational placement of their child.

By not including parents in the discussion and then having a meeting where it is apparent that the educators have already made a decision will only make parents and educators adversaries instead of team players. All discussions need to be transparent and all team members, of which parents are a part, need to be included in the discussion.

Photo by Redd on Unsplash

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Question

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

We spend a lot of time training our young students to follow directions and do what they are told.

Then we get to a point where we want them to ask questions. Yet, many teachers get irritated when they don’t like the questions that are asked. Some feel the questions indicate that the student wasn’t paying attention or was distracted by something else.

In my class, no question is silly or ignored. If the student didn’t hear something because they were not paying attention, then I will address that behavior and not ignore the question. When they need to ask the question, I know that at that point, they are paying attention.

Sometimes they are paying attention but have not been able to process what they have heard and will need the directions repeated or given in a different way. Giving information a different way may help clarify any confusion. I may even let another student explain it in their own words. This helps me see if the information was understood by others.

I also need to teach my students how to question. This skill was a challenge for me. When I was a student, I didn’t know what questions I needed to ask. By modeling the questioning technique, I can show my students how to use critical thinking in order to ask the appropriate questions.

Once students learn how to ask questions that clarify information, they will become more engaged in the lesson. They will know how to ask questions that are meaningful to them. By asking questions, they will retain the information better. Students are less distracted when they are formulating questions and seeking answers.

By encouraging other students to help answer the questions also opens up lively discussions and enhancing learning for everyone.

How do you teach students to question? Please share.

Photo by Rohit Farmer on Unsplash

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Potential

I remember when I was a student and my parents were given ideas on how to help me achieve my potential. I even heard my colleagues tell parents that their students were not achieving their potential. What is potential?

According to the Oxford Language Dictionary, potential means “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”

To my students, the word potential is scary or meaningless.

The word potential reminds me of an old Army commercial stating “Be All That You Can Be!”

When I hear people talk about not achieving their potential, I perceive it as saying that person is useless or lazy. So, I stopped talking about potential and started showing students how to achieve it.

I listened to students talk about their wishes and their dreams. Believe me, after facing many mistakes and failures, this is very hard for students. They are afraid to wish or dream so how can we expect them to reach their potential?

I notice the things that interest my students. They may be interested in something but not know how to do it or just want to know more about a specific topic.

I observe their strengths and discuss this with my students. Many of my students are often told their weaknesses but no one seems to focus on their strengths. A lot of my students are surprised when I tell them what I see.

I help my students look to the future and set small goals that are achievable. Once they start seeing a measure of success, they can begin to hope again.

Once I meet with the students and share what I have heard them say, notice their interests, observe their strengths, and help them set goals, we can start a plan of action. Without them realizing it, this action is what moves them to achieve their potential. Without all of these parts, I don’t think achieving potential is even a possibility.

How do you help students achieve their potential? Please share.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Monday, July 12, 2021

Summer Learning Place 2021

Today I start teaching my EDEX962/963 classes. They are the practicums for Learning Disabilities and Emotional Disabilities. My students are certified teachers getting their Master’s degree in Special Education. Since it is summertime here, I have had to create a small school so that I can observe my teachers. I will have 4 teachers and 18 children. My teachers will be observed teaching and will need to write blog posts reflecting their teaching during this session. I asked each teacher to come up with 3 goals they want to achieve in this class and also let me know how they are feeling about the course, the children, and their expectations. I like to do the same assignment.

My 3 goals:
  • I want to observe the teachers teaching lessons in reading, math, and writing.
  • I want to learn new strategies that they use to teach different skills.
  • I want to help the teachers grow professionally.
Feelings:
I’m excited about this class because we are holding it in person. Last year I had to hold this program over Zoom and that was very challenging. I missed being around the children and hearing their laughter and giggles when they were together.

I look forward to meeting my teachers face to face and getting to know them better. It was very hard to connect with the teachers over Zoom.

Expectations:
I expect my teachers to act professionally so that I can focus on helping them hone their teaching skills.

Original Photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, July 9, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/9/21

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 Seashells Are Made - “If you know that seashells are made of basically the same stuff as chalk, you might have wondered why chalk is crumbly but seashells are super tough. This week on Reactions, we explain: The secret’s in the biochemistry.” (L:G;SA:S)

Venture Lab - “A youth entrepreneurship curriculum for grades 1-12 that anyone can teach.”(L:G;SA:C)

The Scoop on Gorilla Poop - a .pdf document on gorilla poop (L:E;SA:S)

Genius Hour Resources - “Genius Hour is a time given during the school day to allow students to follow their passions and learn about topics that interest them. Click on one of the buttons below to see some of the resources I’ve collected over the past several years.” (L:T;SA:A)

Turtle Travel Tips: How Magnets Can Help Us Navigate | Magnetoreception - “When people travel a long distance, they'll usually use a map. But there are lots of animals that travel really long distances, too, and they can't use maps... so how do they not get lost? Our friend Dr. Turtleman calls in to explain!” (L:E;SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Organization

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

I believe organization is the key to being productive. When you are having to hunt something down that you use often, you are wasting time that could have been spent doing what you wanted to do.

Every person has their own system of organizing but I don’t think we are born with this skill. We have to teach our students how to organize things. Things can be organized by color, shape, purpose, deadlines, and many other ways I haven’t even mentioned. Sometimes I change up how things are organized because I want a change or I have more knowledge about something.

When I first started knitting, I didn’t have too much yarn and so I sorted yarn into what they were made of. Wool yarn went in one area and acrylic yarn went into another. Then I started spinning yarn, so fiber went into another area. As my stash of yarn grew, I separated it into colors. Then I had different weights of yarn so they were separated into more subcategories. When I’m ready to start a project, I find it much easier to find the yarn that I want.

I know that sometimes my clutter at home gets out of control and I need to take the time to organize my stuff that I was too lazy to do earlier. When I find myself looking for something in that clutter, I end up kicking myself because I know better. I should have had this all organized so I didn’t waste time looking for what I want.

I remember a teacher telling students that they need to organize their work instead of stuffing it into their desks but I don’t remember the teacher teaching them how to organize their stuff. Then I saw a teacher having students get three-ring binders with dividers for each subject and telling them to put their papers in the appropriate section when they get them back. Yet, I haven’t seen any teacher actually give the students time to do this.

If I ask students to organize their work, then I should build in a 5-minute window for them to actually do the task. Once this behavior is learned, they will automatically do it without prompting but first, I need to teach them to do this.

If I want shelves of toys or books organized, I will set it up the way I want it organized and then take a photo of it. I will post the photo so students can refer to it to see if it is organized the way I want it. I can’t assume that students will remember the way it was organized after it gets messy.

How do you teach students to be organized? Please share.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

2021 June Road Trip

6/13/21 – 565 miles Louisville, KY
Click here for pictures

We left home at 6:45am and headed to Louisville, KY. We got to Louisville Slugger Museum and were lucky enough to get a parking space right across the street. The parking meters only ran Monday – Saturday so Sunday was free. After taking lots of photos and walking around town, we left and headed towards Casey, IL. We crossed into the Central Time Zone. We ended up at a Hampton Inn in Princeton, IN for the night ($98). We had dinner at El Rodeo and the special was $5 (taco, enchilada, rice, and beans) which was fabulous! I was tired after driving 10 hours which is the most I’ve driven in years. I was so tired but tried to stay awake until 9 pm CT (which was 10 pm ET).

6/14/21 – 462 miles Casey, IL
Click here for pictures

After a complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Casey, IL, about 1.5 hours northwest at 7:30 am. . We ended up on some very rural roads that seemed like we were driving through farmers’ cornfields. We had a wonderful time in Casey! We saw a lot of the BIGGEST attractions such as
  • Largest Horseshoe
  • Antlers
  • Ear of corn
  • Yardstick
  • Bookworm
  • Mousetrap
  • Pencil
  • Pokemon Ball
  • Birdcage
  • Minion
  • Spinning Bat
And the World’s Largest attractions such as:
  • Pitchfork
  • Golf Tee
  • Wind Chime
  • Rocking Chair
  • Knitting Needles
  • Crochet Hook
  • Key
  • Barber’s Pole
  • Mailbox
  • Wood Shoes
  • Golf Club
  • Gavel
We bought a couple of postcards and got stamps from the post office in order to climb up into the mailbox and mail them. They will be postmarked from “The World’s Largest Mailbox.” We met some other tourists and Don gave them two stamps for their postcards.

We left Casey and headed to Madison, WI. Illinois felt like a VERY long state! We kept seeing a black cloud in the distance that looked like a mile wild tornado. What we were seeing was a chemical explosion! When we got to Rockton, IL, we found out that they were evacuating residents to shelters because that was where the explosion occurred. We just kept heading north to Wisconsin and didn’t stop. Rest areas were very rare. We got to Madison around 7pm and stayed at the Hampton Inn East, near a mall for $88. We were able to walk to Perkins for dinner.

6/15/21 – 375 miles Madison, WI
Click here for pictures

We drove downtown Madison and saw the Capitol. Then we drove around the University of Wisconsin and ended up at the Arboretum. Even though the visitor center was closed, we were able to walk around the grounds. Then we went to the Henry Vila Zoo which was free and it was a good zoo. We saw an orangutan, tiger, lion, giraffe, river otters, and a grizzly bear. After the zoo, we went to the National Mustard Museum (also free) and enjoyed the collection of vintage mustard collectibles. Next, we headed to the Pink elephant and the Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet where we bought cheese curds. Then it was time to head to Duluth, MN. That was a long drive and we got a room at the Comfort Suites in Proctor for $95. We were able to walk across the street to Perkins for dinner. After dinner, we booked a room for tomorrow night.

6/16/21 – 26 miles Duluth, MN
Click here for pictures

We got up early and went downtown to see what the parking situation is around the railroad museum. Once we found the parking area for train passengers, we decided to go exploring. We found a spot to stop and get pictures of the aerial lift bridge in action. Then we found a parking lot across from the Leif Erikson park that had 3-hour free parking. We walked along the lake for a little while. Then we drove around town trying to find the “Visit Duluth” visitor center but several roads were closed and we couldn’t get to it. All the parking we found was either metered parking or pay by license plate with a credit card. Eventually, we went back to the train parking and parked the car. We walked up to Starbucks and got mocha frappuccinos and made plans for tomorrow. Then we walked in the skyway and to the library before the train ride. Next, we went to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and then rode on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. The train ride cost us $14pp at Comfort Suites instead of $20pp at the ticket office. We had a nice 1 hour and 15 minutes. Luckily, we got our tickets at 10am which means we were virtually checked in. Around 12:45, they called you by name in the order that you checked in so we were the seconds one on the train. We walked to the back of the cars to the open-air car where we sat on the lakeside bench. That was the best seat! When we got back, we walked down to the Duluth Trading Company and bought some stuff. As we walked back to the car, we found an antique store where Don had a ball for a couple of hours until closing. We checked into our hotel, Tru by Hilton ($86) and it was very nice and modern looking. Then we went to Walmart to buy Don some M&Ms and stopped at Perkins for dinner.

6/17/21 - 148 miles Voyageurs National Park
Click here for pictures of Kettle Falls Hotel

See this post for more information

6/18/21 – 0 miles Voyageurs National Park
Click here for pictures

See this post for more information

6/19/21 – 383 miles International Falls, MN/Itasca State Park/St. Cloud

Click here for pictures of International Falls

We left Kettle Falls Hotel around 8:10am. The boat took us back to Ash River Visitor Center. After organizing our stuff, the visitor center opened and we watched a movie about the park. We left there and went to Lake Kabetogama Visitor Center which was closed but we found a huge patch of showy lady slippers that were pink and white. They were absolutely beautiful! Next, we went towards Rainy Lake Visitor center but stopped to take a photo at a Voyageurs National Park Headquarters sign. A photographer was going by and offered to take our photos for us which was so nice. We stopped at Rainy Lake Visitor Center and bought our magnets and Don bought a hat. Then we went into International Falls to see Smoky the Bear park and take pictures. It was a very small town. Since it was early, we headed to Itasca State Park and got there around 4pm. It cost us $7 per vehicle to get in. Then we hiked to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We decided to look for a hotel but were unable to find one anywhere close so we headed to St. Cloud. When we got in the area, we stopped and used Hotwire.com to find a hotel and got one at the Fairfield Marriott for $126. We had dinner at Perkins and got to the hotel around 9pm.

6/20/21 – 96 miles St. Cloud, MN
Click here for pictures.

It was a rainy day so we relaxed in the hotel room and Don took a nap after breakfast. Then we went to the Munsinger Gardens and they were absolutely beautiful! It sprinkled rain a little bit but didn’t start raining hard until we got back to the car. The gardens were full of different varieties of hostas that really showcased all the other flowers. Then we went to an antique store called The Rusty Pick. Don spent 3 hours hunting for treasure while I knit. Then we headed to Minneapolis where we got a room at the Sheraton Bloomington ($76 per night/hotwire). We had dinner at Perkins and then watched TV until bedtime.

6/21/21 – 100 miles Minneapolis, MN/Red Wing, MN
Click here for pictures.

We skipped breakfast and went to the Minneapolis Sculpture Park where we saw the Spoonbridge and Cherry along with other sculptures. It was free and a lot of fun. We found Pay Parking but went around the corner and parked for free on the street. Then we left there and headed to Minnehaha Falls. There was a lot of parking but it was all metered so we found parking across the street that was free. The park was very nice to visit! After that, we had lunch at Perkins and it was Free Pie Monday! Then we headed to Red Wing, MN. We went downtown and found the Red Wing Store where I got lots of pictures of the Big Boot! Upstairs was the shoe museum that was very interesting. They had a clearance/outlet store downstairs but we didn’t find anything we wanted. Next, we walked down to the Duluth Trading Company and downstairs were their clearance items. Don found a pair of shoes there he liked!

When we left there, we hunted for a hotel and found a room at the Super 8 that was cheap ($60). Yes, cheap should have been a warning sign! Since we had a room reserved, we went to Colvill Park and found giant sunglasses to photograph. We met a cameraman and a reporter who was doing a story on the water level and drought. The reporter said the barges were hitting sand bars because it was so bad. Then we decided this park was open and safe enough to organize our car and clean it out. While we were doing this, a couple with a dog stopped and we had a nice chat.

Then we went to check-in at the Super 8. We checked in and were worried when we saw unsavory characters hanging around outside. Then we went to the room through a smelly hallway. The room was dirty and smelly too. We left and looked for another hotel that was better. We found a room for $81 at the Nichols Inn which was clean and safe. When we checked in there, the receptionist warned us about the Super 8 when we kept saying how nice this hotel was! Then we went back to the Super 8 and checked out. They charged us a $30 cancellation fee but we didn’t care! Relieved that we had a nice hotel room for the night, we ate dinner at Rancho Loco which was wonderful! We had a hard taco, chile poblano, rice, and beans for $10.50.

6/22/21 - 96 miles Red Wing, MN/Pepin, WI
Click here for pictures.

After breakfast, we went to the Anderson Sculpture Park and it was nice. We found out later that Puffed rice and puffed wheat were invented there. Then we headed to Pepin, WI to look for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Birthplace. Along the way, we stopped at historical markers along the Mississippi River. We found a replica of the cabin she lived in which was about 7 miles off the main road. Then we went to the museum ($5 per person) and I found it very interesting. For lunch, we returned to Red Wing and went to McDonald's. Then we went to the Pottery Museum of Red Wing. There were several men who volunteered there and were willing to answer my many questions. I learned a lot from seeing the exhibits and listening to them. After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Pottery Place Antiques and Don found some more treasures. We stayed at the Nichols Inn again and had dinner at Rancho Loco.

6/23/21 – 54 miles Rochester, MN
Click here for pictures.

After breakfast, we left Red Wing and headed to Rochester. We stopped at Sam’s Club and Walmart for supplies. Before going to the hotel, we found an antique store, All American Antiques which was also a Feed and Seed store where Don found more treasures. We had lunch at a place near there called Cheap Charlies. Then we went to the hotel for my knitting retreat.

6/23/21 – 6/26/21 – Zombie Knitpocalypse 2021

See the post about it here.

6/27/21 - 678 miles Ames, Iowa and Columbia, Missouri

Click here for pictures

We left Rochester, MN at 7:30 am. Then we headed to Ames, Iowa to meet my friend Angela Prince and her family for lunch. Angela and I worked together at Mauldin High School many years ago. It was so nice to see her and Larry again! We had lunch at Cornbred BBQ and it was delicious. We met their 10-year-old daughter Chloe for the first time. Then we headed to Columbia, Missouri where we spent the night at a Hampton Inn. I was exhausted and had to stop twice to stretch my legs.

6/28/21 - 687 miles Sevierville, TN

When we left our hotel, it was pouring down rain. Luckily we drove out of it. There was so much traffic, that we skipped St. Louis. We hit lots of construction sections and at times was only going 5mph! At one gas station in Eddyville, KY, we filled up with gas and went to the restroom. I left my phone in the bathroom by accident and didn’t realize it until we were 15 miles away. Unfortunately, the next exit was another 10 miles away! When I returned to the gas station, they had my phone. The traffic was horrible the whole day. We decided to get through Knoxville so that in the morning we wouldn’t hit rush hour traffic. We got a hotel room at the Best Western in Sevierville for $89.

6/29/21 – 181 miles HOME!


Total miles: 3647

Things I Learned:

  • A lot of stores have closed for good due to Covid.
  • Many stores have shortened hours because they can’t find people to work
  • Many dining rooms in fast food places are not open because they don’t have enough workers. I wouldn’t recommend another road trip this year because so many things are still not open because they can’t get enough workers.
  • I love looking for the biggest things!
  • I like unusual kitschy things.
  • I don’t like driving on long trips but I can if I have to.
  • Saturdays in Rochester is like a ghost town. The only thing open early in the morning was Dunkin’ Donuts.
  • Pannakoeken in Rochester had a good lunch!
  • There are very reckless drivers on the road!
  • We meet the nicest people on our trips.
  • Hotwire mystery hotels were all great hotels. I would use Hotwire again.
  • Most places no longer require masks. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Normal

(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

Normal is a word that is overused and overrated. Who is to say what normal is? What is normal for me may not be normal for you. What is normal in one situation may not be normal in another situation.

Many times my students would come to me and tell me that they wish they could be normal. What do they mean by normal? They want to be like everyone else. That is not normal. That is being like everyone else. I think they want to be accepted and mistake that for being normal. I try to explain to my students that being unique is much more fun than being normal. Being unique means we have different strengths than other people have. Being unique is a good thing and not a bad thing.

Since Covid hit, all I hear everyone talk about is how they want things to get back to normal. Normal to them is getting back to the way things used to be. I don't think that everything was great the way it used to be. Our whole world was turned upside down and many people learn new things. This is a good thing. It pushed teachers to grow in their teaching techniques and learn these strategies to reach students differently. I don't think going back to the way things were is a good thing in this instance. If that was normal, I don't want to go back to normal.

Normal in a classroom may be a set of routines that everyone follows. Many of my students like having this structure of a routine in my class. When they go away on vacation, they like to come to class where things are normal. Normal for them means they know what to expect. So I think when people say they want things to go back to normal, they really want to go back to a time where they knew what to expect. But, in reality, I think we learned that we can't take anything for granted and we need to expect that anything can happen. We need to stay alert and be prepared for the unexpected.

Normal can be defined differently by many different people. We all have different values and standards so who determines what is normal?

Nothing is normal.

Photo by OpticalNomad on Unsplash

Monday, July 5, 2021

Zombie Knitpocalypse 2021


6/23/21 Wednesday
We arrived at the Doubletree Hotel in Rochester, MN around 1:30 pm. They didn’t have any King beds available until 2:30 so we hung around the lobby until then. It was fun meeting up with friends. Don couldn’t find his AirPods so after 2 trips to the car and looking all over, we decided that he must have left them at home so I connected mine to his phone. At 5pm, we met Susan, Pam, Amanda, and Michelle in the lobby and walked to Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse. We had the Happy Hour menu for dinner and it was good.  We all bought appetizers and then shared them with each other. When we came back, I sat in the ballroom and knit until bedtime.

6/24/21 Thursday
I was up early and my friend Pam, texted me around 6am that she was in the lobby knitting so I joined her. Then I woke Don up at 7 and we went to Bruegger’s Bagels for breakfast. After that, I went to the ballroom to knit until 10am when I had to teach my first class. I taught how to cable without cable needles and I had 10 students. It went well. Then I went to the drop-in sessions for designers Josh Ryks-Robinsky and Stephanie Lotven. After that Don, Pam, Ellie, Eleanor, and I went to lunch at the food court in the mall which was accessible by skyway and took about 5 minutes to walk to. After lunch, we came back and I went to the sessions for Shana Cohen and Megan Williams. All of these sessions were wonderful! They talked about their designs, showed samples, and even let us try things on. At 4pm was the opening ceremony and I was one of the lucky ones who won a door prize today! When it was over, Don and I went back to Pittsburgh Blue for happy hour for dinner. We had the Thai Chili wings and onion stack. After dinner, I went back to the ballroom for the PJ Party and hello event and treats plus the photo booth. It was a long day but a lot of fun!

6/24/21 Friday
I got up early and went to the lobby until 6:30 when I had to wake up Don. We went to Brueggers Bagels again for breakfast and then walked the ZK 5K. We finished in 55 minutes 54 seconds. I look forward to that every year. After that, I had enough time for a shower and then I had the mini skeins swap and the Designer showcases again featuring Shaina Scott and Kristen Ducker. In between the 2, I ran to the food court for lunch and had a slice of pizza and a drink ($6). At 1pm, I was the featured designer and since it was lunchtime, there weren’t many people there. and then stayed for the session with Lisa K. Ross. At 3pm, I had another class of Cables without needles which went well. At 4:30, we had a Romi Hill Shawl show and share. Then at 5:30pm, we took a group photo. After the group photo, all the teachers were taken out to dinner by Megan and Amy, the hosts of the retreat. We went to Victoria’s and the food was excellent. Our guest speaker at 8pm was Gaye Glaspie (GGMadeIt) and her speech was very inspirational.

6/265/21
I helped Erin (from Duluth, MN), od Three Irish Girls, and Angela (from NJ) od Molly Girl Yarn get their yarn down to the ballroom at 5:45 AM. Erin’s cousin, Cindy owns a yarn shop in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. After setting up the booth, Cindy bought us all breakfast from Pannekoeken and we ate it on the front porch of the hotel. Then at 9:30, we were open up for shopping to the 3 winners of ZK challenges. At 10, the marketplace opened up for retreat attendees and lasted until noon. I worked the checkout register (Square) on the iPad for Molly Girl Yarn. For lunch, Don and I went to Pannekoeken for our anniversary lunch, and even though we had to wait 30 min. the food was very good! The public marketplace opened at 1pm and lasted until 3 but I didn’t have to work again because they had an afternoon shift to help. When it came time to pack up and leave, I returned to help the ladies pack up their booth. After that, I sat and knit with friends until the closing ceremonies at 5:30p. Then I went back to the room to relax until the 8pm treats which were a variety of chocolates and they were SO good! What a wonderful way to end a retreat!

Things I Learned:
  1. I learned how much I had in common with others at the retreat.
  2. I met new friends.
  3. Seeing projects in person was so much better than just seeing pictures of them.
  4. I want to make all of the things and I want them finished tomorrow.
  5. I enjoyed helping out in the yarn booth.
  6. I never want to be a vendor at a craft fair because it takes too much work to haul your good to the event.
  7. People are SO generous and if you need something and they have an extra one of it, they will give it to you. 
  8. A man from the Mayo Clinic attended the marketplace because he saw the event mentioned on Instagram. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/2/21

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

Ziplet - making an exit ticket easily (L:T;SA:A)

A Math Dictionary for Kids - “A Maths Dictionary for Kids is an online math dictionary for students which explains over 955 common mathematical terms and math words in simple language with definitions, detailed visual examples, and online practice links for some entries.” (L:G;SA:M)

Summer Reading - Free Printable packets (L:T;SA:A)

The Time You Have - How much time we have in jellybeans. (L:G;SA:M)

The Wick Editor - “The Wick Editor is a free, open-source tool for creating games, animations, and everything in-between!” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley






Thursday, July 1, 2021

2021 Goals Review for June

We spent half the month traveling so I didn’t do well with my weight. I had to drive the entire time because Don’s vision still hasn’t cleared up, so I didn’t do too much knitting either.

Goals: I worked on some of my goals this month.

 

1.     Lose 5 lbs. – My weight went up this month.

2.     Knit 12 squares on my national park blanket. (There are 60 squares in the pattern and this is year 4 of the project.) – 49 squares complete. I’ve knit 2 squares this month for a total of 10 squares this year.

3.     Knit a sweater. – I finished the Nesting Cardigan and I finished The Rocket Tee. – completed!

4.     Design 3 new patterns – I published two designs (The Chinese New Year Cowl and the Double Happiness Socks).

5.     Read 12 nonfiction books. – 9 books completed so far.

a.     Counting by Deborah Stone

b.     My Paddle to the Sea by John Lane

c.     Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl

d.     Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak

e.     In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

f.      The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

g.     The Body by Bill Bryson

h.     Kiss Me Like a Stranger by Gene Wilder

i.      The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron

 

How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.

 

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash