Monday, April 19, 2021

The Lucky List– Book Review

I recently read The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott.  I read a review copy compliments of Netgalley and I am not being paid to give this review.

Emily is about to become a high school senior and is having the worst summer ever. She is dealing with the death of her mother, breaking up with her boyfriend, being away from her best friend, and reuniting with her childhood friend. She is trying to find a way to fix it all and ends up finding herself.


I could see this book in a high school library. It deals with topics of death, peer relationships, communication with others, and sexual orientation.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/16/21

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

Don’t Gross Out the World – “Dont Gross Out the World is back! Learn about dining customs from around the world in this updated version of one of our classic games” (L:G;SA:SS)

Social Emotional Learning Activity Templates for Google Jamboard - “Have you been looking for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) activities to make a part of your regular classroom routine? If so, I can’t think of a better way than to utilize Google Jamboard with some pre-made templates that you can share with your students.” (L:G;SA:C)

Perusall - “The Perusall platform is free for students, instructors, and educational institutions.We aim to change the nature of reading — from the traditional solitary experience to an engaging and collective one. We aim to change education — so all students do the reading, come to class prepared, and are motivated to do so because they care about the content.” (L:T;SA:A)

Adobe Color - “Color wheel (or image in Extract Theme tab) can be used to generate color palette, which can be saved into Creative Cloud, after signing in. You can then use your saved color themes, in Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator, Fresco etc.), via Adobe Color theme panel or CC Libraries.” (L:T;SA:A)

Forky - mindmapping (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Making Things Equal

In All things being equal from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“All things are rarely equal.”

Too many times, students complain that things are not equal. They need to learn that usually, nothing is equal. Unless we are all made the same with the same attributes and are carbon copies of each other, there is no way that anything can be equal.

What students need to discover is how to come to terms with things not being equal. Many times schools call this “leveling the playing field.”

This occurs a lot in the workplace. Picture someone who cleans windows. One person is 6 foot 5 inches and the other person is only 5 feet. Can they both do a good job? Yes, they can. The shorter person may have to use a ladder to get to the higher windows but they are both capable of getting the job accomplished.

Many times we shop for things by comparing prices. Advertising experts for certain items do not want you to compare things so they change how they share certain information. My husband says it is like comparing apples to oranges and is impossible to see if they are equivalent in attributes but different in price.

Too many students feel like they should be equal to everyone else. I want to impress on my students that everyone has various strengths which don’t make them equal but if they work together they can be stronger and better. My husband can assemble things without ever reading the directions and I have smaller fingers to get into tight spaces. Apart, things may not get assembled quickly or correctly but together, we can put something together and enjoy it faster.

We need to embrace each other’s differences and encourage each other to discover our strengths. Once we recognize that usually “equal” doesn’t exist, we can move forward and be more productive.

How do you teach your students about making things equal? Please share.

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Earth Day Virtual Event

April 22nd is Earth Day and NASA is hosting an Earth Day Virtual Event. I think there are great opportunities for students and I wanted to share this with you. 

“A variety of Earth Day activities, including live talks, games, videos, and great downloadable posters and books, is now online during NASA’s Earth Day Virtual Event.

From April 21-24, anyone can join the free, online event that includes live panel discussions and chats with NASA Earth science experts, as well as on-demand content, such as coloring pages and activity sheets, eBooks and downloadable posters, Meet a Scientist videos, and information on how you can be a scientist for NASA. There’s also an online scavenger hunt to kick off #GrowForLaunch, a chance to learn more about the plants grown in space and how you can start your own garden.

Online registration is free and open now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Library

In The library: my home away from home from Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson shares,

“As I look back on my 40+ year career as a school librarian/library supervisor, I take the greatest satisfaction in knowing I created or helped create places for children in schools where they felt safe, welcome, and affirmed.”

This post reminded me of my younger days when I loved going to the library. I recall as a child in elementary school, I used to love going to the school library. My parents introduced me to the bookmobile from the public library and every week I anticipate the bookmobile coming to our neighborhood. I was so proud to have a library card.

When I got into junior high school, I had trouble fitting in with others. So, I discovered the school library. That was my refuge when I was feeling lonely or scared in junior high. Eventually, I got to know the school librarian and she knew what kind of books I liked. When I would enter the library she would welcome me and let me know what new books arrived that might interested me.

When I went to high school I didn't know many people there. But the public library was right next door to the school. When entered the library, I felt like I was among friends I knew and who knew me. I would go to the library right after school finished and then would get rides home near dinner time. I would get my parents to take me to the library and I would spend the day there many Saturdays. The books in the library were my friends.

Recently, we bought a vacation home in Florida. I couldn't wait to gather proof of residency so that I could go to the public library and get a library card. There are so many resources accessible online and at the library.

When my husband has a problem or wants to find out something, he says we have to go to the library. He feels that is the first place we should go to start looking for resources. It is the jumping-off place for finding information about any topic.

I want to show students that they have a friend in the library system also. I love to see young children at the library learning to love like I do. I'm so thankful for their parents who have introduced the library to their children.

I think it is important to take classes to the school library regularly. I would take them every other week. One week would be to find books to read for pleasure or look up information that interests them. The other week is for a specific purpose or assignment that I give them in class. They can find the necessary information at the library to complete the assignment.

Do you take your students to the library? How often and for what purpose? Please share.

Photo by Shunya Koide on Unsplash

Monday, April 12, 2021

Landsford Canal State Park

Landsford Canal State Park is located in Chester County, South Carolina. The part consists of 448 acres and includes the ruins of the Landsford Canal. Besides the canal, there are the largest remaining stands of the Shoals Spider Lily. The Spider Lily blooms from mid-May to mid-June.

There are also hiking trails in the park. There is the Canal Trail which follows the Landsford Canal. It is 1.5 MI. There is also a half-mile nature trail that goes along the Catawba River. You can see the Shoals Spider Lily from this Trail.

Utilizing slave labor, the canal was constructed to circumvent the rapids of the Catawba River. The canal was abandoned when the railroad became the better way to transport goods. There is an interpretive Museum in the former lockkeeper’s house. The canal was one of the best-preserved canals of the nineteenth century, and parts of its major structural features have been preserved. It was constructed from 1820 to 1835.

Land’s Ford Is also associated with the Revolutionary War. Thomas Sumter’s troops crossed here on their route to the Battle of Hanging Rock. The main British Army crossed the Catawba here in 1780.

I have been to this park to see the canals and the lilies. It is well worth going to visit! 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/9/21`

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

Blob Opera - “Create your own opera inspired song with Blob Opera - no music skills required ! A machine learning experiment by David Li in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture” (L:G;SA:A)

ThreadIt - “Short video recordings to share work, connect your team, and get your day back” (L:T;SA:A)

Connect Fours - You get 16 clues and have to put them into groups of 4. You can edit the template and put your own key words in. Great review for students. (L:T;SA:A)

Virtual Accommodations In Co-Taught Virtual Classrooms - “Tips on what a teacher can do while their coteacher is leading a virtual lesson” (L:T;SA:A)

Edji - “Annotate anything together. Whether its a PDF, image, web article, or GIF—annotation is better live and together. Edji works great in Science, Social Studies, and any content area, to shift the focus from "how to annotate" back to the material you are teaching. Use the content you already have, and use Edji to make it a collaborative, engaging experience while you get live data. (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Motivating Students

Recently I was asked this question about motivating students:

“I am in a 6th grade classroom. I have a couple of students who can do their work and succeed in their efforts, but just chose not to. I feel as though a lot of this is a result of the pandemic, and everything that went on with the pandemic, with the students thinking they can just coast by. My question is: What is a good motivating tool, activity, or any useful idea in general to help out with this dilemma in my class?”

Even as an adult, I sometimes hit this obstacle too and it would be good for students to know that it happens to everyone. But not doing what I need to do isn’t an option. Sometimes I need to jumpstart myself into getting things done.

I believe the students are old enough to have input into what would help them be more successful. Explain to them that you know they can do their work but just don’t seem to be motivated. Ask them what would help them be more motivated since not doing the work is not an option.

As you mentioned, this might be a learned habit due to the pandemic. If so, then they need to unlearn the habit and learn a better one. They might need to create a list of what needs to done and then check off the items as they finish them.

I would ask students to complete a survey that asks them what motivates them. Is it tangible rewards or movement activities? Try to find out what activities they like to do. Once you know what would help motivate them, have them help you figure out a plan on what it would take to get something as a reward. Write it out like a behavior contract.

It also would be a good time to involve the parents. They are part of the team to help your students succeed. They might have some insight into something that would motivate the students. Involving parents should not be seen as a punishment for the students. It would be good to involve the parents before the situation gets worse.

How would you motivate these students? Please share.

Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

Wednesday, April 7, 2021


We can learn a lot by observing others. When we want to learn something, we should observe those who know how to do what we want to do.

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, so I was constantly observing teachers as I went through school. I noted teachers that I felt were good and helped me be a better teacher. I observed those teachers that I knew I wouldn’t want to be like.

When students think about careers, they should go shadow someone already in the field. They should learn about the pros and cons of that career so they know what they're getting into if they decide to pursue it.

When I want to try a new craft, I like to go on YouTube and observe someone else actually making what I want to make. I can observe what they are doing so that I could do the same thing. If I watch several videos, I'll get a better idea of the different techniques used so I can decide which one will work best for me.

I believe students learn a lot by observing too and we don’t remember how influential observations may be.

When students are observing me, I want to be a good role model. I want them to see how I can solve problems. I want them to see how I deal with my emotions especially frustration, disappointment, and frustration. I want my students to observe that I try to be fair and kind to others.

Knowing that students are good at observing others, it is important to take time to discuss their observations. This is an important way to show you are not ignoring their knowledge of what others are doing and how they behave. By talking about the positive and negative things they observe, you can help them process what they have observed. They can learn to decide what actions are appropriate or not appropriate.

Observation is a crucial strategy in learning.

How do you encourage students to use the power of observation? Please share?

Photo by Elisabeth Wales on Unsplash

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

East Asian Women Leaders in Educational Technology

In What I’ve been up to: Silver Lining for Learning by Dangerously Irrelevant, Scott McLeod, shares about the Silver Lining for Learning initiative and lists Year 1 episodes that are available on YouTube. He explains,

“The initiative was meant to highlight interesting technology-enabled learning around the world and to spark some discussions about schooling possibilities during the pandemic and afterward.”

Over the past year, I have been going to the Silver Lining for Learning website where the episodes are listed or you can go to their YouTube channel and subscribe. You can also attend the live YouTube meetings.

“Silver Lining for Learning is an ongoing conversation on the future of learning with educators and education leaders from across the globe. Hosted by Chris Dede, Curt Bonk, Shuangye Chen, Punya Mishra & Yong Zhao, these conversations began under the “dark cloud” of the COVID19 crisis and continue today. We see these conversations as space to discuss the creation of equitable, humanistic and sustainable learning ecosystems that meet the needs of all learners. These conversations are hosted live on YouTube every Saturday (typically 5:30 PM Eastern US time) and are archived on this website.”

I thought since violence against Asians has been in the news along with this past month being National Women’s Month, I would share a recent episode about East Asian Women Leaders.

Episode 52 | Reaching Out and Reaching In | East Asian Women Leaders in Educational Technology

They explain the episode as:

“This episode will explore the recent projects and initiatives of three East Asian educational technology leaders, Insung Jung, Ok-hwa Lee, and Meifeng Liu, within their home countries of Japan, Korea, and China as well as their work around the globe. What have they each done during the past few years? What have they each discovered? And where will they go next? This session will also highlight what the governments in Japan, Korea, and China have been targeting since they start of the pandemic and the associated successes and failures. What insights do these prominent woman leaders have for the world community as well as for young female scholars in the field of educational technology and distance education?”

It is a fantastic episode and very interesting. I hope you take the time to check it out.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Cardboard Inventions

When I was a child I used to love to play with old cardboard boxes. I guess I was just like a kitten who liked to use the cardboard box as a toy. Whenever someone in the neighborhood would get a new refrigerator or washing machine, the big box was given to the neighborhood children. I remember one year when we took all the boxes and put them together in a yard and made little cities out of the boxes. We decorated the boxes as individual houses and apartment buildings. We even cut doors into them and would go in and out of the different buildings. Then eventually we would make up stories of the residents of each building. This kept us busy and entertained for weeks or until it rained and all the boxes got wet and soggy. Then we would wait impatiently for someone to get another new appliance so we could begin a new adventure.

Recently I learned about this Instructables site that has a Cardboard Speed Challenge. So far there are only 13 entries and the challenge ends in 7 days but it was fun to look at the individual entries. There are some projects that I would never have thought about doing.

I believe this would be a fantastic challenge for the classroom. Let students use their imagination and discover what they could come up with. The main material would be cardboard which should be easy to get. Anything else the students would have to supply such as glue paper clips or any other material they might need for attaching things. I would give them a deadline on when their projects would have to be done and then have them present their project to the class. You could even have judges come and judge the best project with the winner getting a prize.

Or you could have students chose one of the projects already entered and have them try to make one of them. Students would follow the directions given and see if their project turns out like the original one. This is a great exercise for reading and following directions.

What would you make with cardboard? Please share.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 4/2/21

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

Museo – “Museo is a visual search engine that connects you with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rijksmuseum, the Harvard Art Museums, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the New York Public Library Digital Collectionmore to come! Every image you find here is in the public domain and completely free to use, although crediting the source institution is recommended!” (L:G;SA:FA)

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.” Disney Concert Hall.” (L:G;SA:C)

A Concerto is a Conversation – “A virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer tracks his family's lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.” (L:G;SA:FA)

Random Acts of Kindness – “We have taken our CASEL approved, highly effective, evidence-based Kindness in the Classroom® social emotional learning curriculum and made it better. By including a focus on equity, teacher self-care, and digital citizenship, we are excited to share a more engaging, relatable, and inclusive curriculum.” (L:T;SA:A)

Overcoming Obstacles – “Overcoming Obstacles is a free, award-winning, and research-based curriculum that provides educators with the tools to teach elementary, middle, and high school students life skills. With hundreds of activity-based lessons covering more than 30 critical social and emotional skills, students learn how to communicate effectively. They learn how to make informed decisions. They learn how to set and achieve goals, resolve conflicts, solve problems, respect one another, and more.” (L:SN;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, April 1, 2021

2021 Goals Review for March

We made it back to Florida where we were exercising more and eating better. I didn’t focus so much on losing weight because I was trying to just get back my energy level.

Mindfulness (Word of the Year) – I’m still doing meditation exercises every evening. I also added Square breathing to my daily routine.


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


1. Lose 5 lbs. –.My weight went up this month. I walked over 10,000 steps for 14 days which is 12 more days than I did last 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.) – 43 squares complete but I didn’t work on any this month.  

3. Knit a sweater. – I started on the Nesting Cardigan and I’m finished with the body. I just need to add sleeves and pockets.

4. Design 3 new patterns – I published one design (The Chinese New Year Cowl) and I’m working on another one.

5. Read 12 nonfiction books.

a. Counting by Deborah Stone

b. My Paddle to the See 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

How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.


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

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Photo a Day Progress

I forgot in January and February to share my progress with the Photo a Day project. I have been enjoying it this year. It makes me pay attention to the world around me and I look for special interesting subjects for my daily photo. I’m also working on creating a title for each photo. Here are snapshots of each month that I’ve completed so far. 

This would be a great project to do with this students. You don’t need to to do a year long project. It could be one week or one month for them. I think they would enjoy looking at each other’s photos. 

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

In the Future

In Things Will Be Better When… from Ideas and Thoughts, Dean Shareski shares,

“ is full of struggles and wishing them away is natural but also shouldn’t be completely seen as something to get through.”

As a child, I remember wishing I was older. I couldn’t wait until I was thirteen because then I was a teenager. I couldn’t wait until I was eighteen, because then I was a grown-up. I couldn’t wait until I was twenty-one because then others saw me as an adult. After twenty-one, I didn’t seriously wish to be older than I was.

As an adult, I couldn’t wait until I got married. I couldn’t wait until we bought our new house. I couldn’t wait until I retired. I couldn’t wait until we went on our next trip. I couldn’t wait until I finished my current project.

I need to remember to enjoy the here and now. I need to appreciate my life as it is and observe the good things around me. By always keeping my head in the future, I sometimes miss the things that are happening in the present. I like to schedule and make lists and sometimes I get annoyed with my husband when he is enjoying what’s going on while I’m doing all the prep work. It isn’t fair! Then I tell myself that he is doing what I should be doing and living in the moment.

Since Covid has kept us at home more, I’ve been able to do many things on our house that we’ve been postponing. I’ve started a new crafting project that I’ve been interested in but never had the time since we were traveling so much. I’ve been able to do a lot of gardening that I’ve missed because we are not at home a lot.

Yes, in the future things may look different. In fact, the future always looks different because changes happen every day. Nothing stays the same. It might not be another pandemic but something else out of my control.

How I perceive the future will be determined by the attitude I have. I can accept the challenge of the changes and appreciate the present or I can resist the changes and be miserable every day. If the changes are something out of my control, then I need to look at the things I can control and deal with them.

I need to help my students learn to appreciate their life right now. They need to stop thinking about how life will be better when we get back to “normal.” What is normal? Some students want to avoid what is going on in their lives right now in hopes that they will deal with things in the future when things are better. Things will never get back to the way things were because we are different people than we were then. Changes have happened that have impacted our lives and we can’t undo some of these changes. These influences have shifted the way we see and do things. I need to help my student accept the way things are right now and deal with what is going on right now.

How do you help students who want to only think about “in the future”? Please share.
Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Monday, March 29, 2021

Wordtune – Review

I was recently asked to try out Wordtune and share my thoughts about it.

I have tried the free version and the premium version. It is an extension that you add for free on the Chrome browser. They even show a video on how to use it.

The free version includes suggestions for words and phrases. If you highlight a sentence and then click on “rewrite” it will provide you with suggestions on how to write that sentence differently. I believe that this feature has enhanced my writing tremendously. I have used it a lot when writing in Google Docs for my blog posts.

The premium version gives you the same features as the free version and a lot more. It can make your sentences longer or shorter. It can also change the tone of your sentence and make it more formal or casual. It can also give you other examples of your sentence or find words you can’t quite think about. The premium version is $9.99 per month. If you write professionally or do a lot of writing for your business, I believe this is well worth the money.

They offer a 50% discount to students and educators with a .edu email. There is also a 50% discount for non-profit and NGOs.

I think that students will benefit greatly from this program. My husband hated to write and once he learned how to use the spellcheck feature on the computer, he felt more comfortable doing it. Wordtune will make students feel more comfortable with their writing and less hesitant to start.

If you haven’t given Wordtune a try, I suggest you head over there and add it to your Chrome browser.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 3/26/21

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

Flipgrid Madness – “A whole month of innovative ways to use the Flipgrid camera. Click on any day to learn more and be inspired.” (L:T;SA:A)

Choice Boards – “Choice Boards and Menus for K-8” (L:T;SA:A)

Choice Boards – “Choice Boards and Menus – Secondary” (L:T;SA:A)

Conundrums – “This 14 episode learning series with Activities introduces the challenging idea that not all problems have a clear right answer. Each episode is carefully designed to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills!” (L:E,M;SA:A)

Special Educator Tools – Resources for special educators (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Poetry in the Classroom

In Ekphrastic Poetry from Engage Their Minds, engagetheirminds shares,

“Today I want to give you some ideas for using ekphrastic poetry in your classroom. If, like me, you have no idea what that is, don’t feel ashamed.”

April is National Poetry Month. This author shares some resources to use when planning ahead for this month. I was intrigued when she talked about Ekphrastic Poetry. Not only can I barely pronounce but I had no idea what it was.

According to ThoughtCo:

“Ekphrastic poetry explores art. Using a rhetorical device known as ekphrasis, the poet engages with a painting, drawing, sculpture, or other form of visual art.”

This would be a great classroom activity that all students of various abilities can take part in.

First I would teach them different types of poetry such as rhymed poetry, haiku, limerick, blank verse, and free verse. I wouldn’t pick more than five because I think it would be too overwhelming for the students. I would pick one type and spend a few days teaching about it by showing examples, substituting words, and then making up our own.

After I have taught all the different types, we would start looking at different pictures of art. I would give students a choice of artwork and ask them to pick out three and write a poem for each but each poem must be a different type of poetry.

For students having difficulty with writing, I may pick out some poems and have them create their own artwork to go with the poem.

I believe this would help students appreciate poetry and artwork at the same time. By helping students see that poetry can be fun, I think this lesson would be successful for the entire class.

How do you teach poetry to your students? Please share.

Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Helping Students with Anxiety

I was recently asked this question:

“I am am currently in a second grade classroom with a student who has anxiety. When anything changes in her normal everyday schedule she is off and extremely worked up. It's to the point that she cannot focus during the day. With COVID, our schedule constantly is changing so this anxiety is there very often. Even when things are different at home,the anxiety carries over into school. She also has expressed that she has had several nightmares and this will carry with her throughout the entire day. She randomly gets anxious over things like change in weather (rain, thunderstorms) , change in schedule, if the school is safe, etc…how can I support this student during the day when she gets anxious over things like this?”

Here is my answer to her question:

I have had many students that dislike changes in their schedules. As I get older, I find myself feeling the same way.

If you know in advance that things will change, you can give her a schedule so she knows what to expect. You can get her to help you plan the schedule for the next day while you are making it. This may give her some control and ease her anxiety.

During transitions, let her know when things are going to change so it doesn't surprise her. You can give a 5-minute and then a 1-minute warning so she can mentally prepare to make the change.

If there are things you cannot control, you might try to distract her from them. What things ease her anxiety? What activity might distract her from feeling anxious? If she likes to draw or read, doing this may help her. If movement helps her, maybe you can do walking or exercise activity.

What advice would you give this teacher? Please share.

Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Setting Limits

In The things we go back to from Seth Godin's Blog from Seth Godin states,

“Credit card companies have discovered that if a person carries $2,000 in debt with a $3,000 credit limit, they’ll probably have $4,000 in debt if the credit limit gets raised to $5,000.”

Most people like boundaries. In fact, I believe we need boundaries.

Imagine a world without speed limits or laws. They are essential for our community to work. Imagine our society without any laws!

My students need boundaries. They want to know the limits that a teacher sets. Yes, of course, they will push those boundaries and limits because they want to know if they are real. Will they be enforced? Does the teacher truly mean them or are they just lip service to administration?

When I was young, my parents explained they had rules for me because they loved me. If they didn’t have rules, I would believe they didn’t care and doubt that they loved me.

I believe my students feel the same way.

My classroom rules demonstrate that I care. I want all my students to have a productive learning environment that is safe to make mistakes. I want my students to feel that I will be fair and make all of them follow the same rules and the consequences will be fair for all. They need to know that I care enough about them to enforce the rules.

Without rules, my class would be chaotic. Students would feel they could do anything and not suffer consequences, and it would not feel like a safe learning environment for them. Students would be afraid of making a mistake and being ridiculed by others. Learning would be more difficult.

Students need someone to take a leadership role. If the teacher doesn't establish rules and doesn't establish the role of leader, one of the stronger students will. If this student is not the best-behaved student, the student will encourage disruption and bad behavior.

If I ask my students to write an essay, almost all of them want to know how long it should be. They want to know how many words, or paragraphs, or pages it should be. They want to know what my limits are. I know I felt the same way as a student and I felt very anxious when a teacher responded, “Write enough to answer the question.”

Do you establish limits in your class? Please share.

Photo by Ludovic Charlet on Unsplash

Monday, March 22, 2021

March 2021 Stamp Show

This past Saturday, our Cresthaven Stamp Club hosted a free Stamp Show. There were 8 vendors and approximately 60 attendees. It was a marvelous day and I think a very successful show. While I’m not a stamp collector, I did work the registration desk most of the day and really enjoyed welcoming people and listening to all the wonderful conversations. One member, Dan Maddalino, had three education displays set up and I find those extremely fascinating and educational.

Attendees included veteran stamp collectors to new collectors. One father brought his young daughter to learn about stamp collecting because she was going to inherit his collection. A teacher had heard about the show and brought her grandfather. One man showed up and was so excited that he left and brought back his family. Some people were interested in US stamps while others were interested in foreign stamps. One man showed up because he was interested in learning how to start collecting stamps so the president of the club, Bob Burr,  took time to show him how to get started. One man came with postcards and wanted to know if the postcards he inherited had any value, so a member of our club who collects postcards went through them and explained to him why they were valuable. There were people of all ages and all cultures who attended. Masks and social distancing were expected.

I learned a lot just by listening to all the conversations and asking questions. If you happen to see a stamp show close to you, I recommend you taking the time to bring your family and have some fun.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Friday, March 19, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 3/19/21

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

Find that Lizard – “A Science Communication Game on Social Media” (L:G;SA:S)

Grow – “Highlighting the Beauty of Agriculture” (L:G;SA:S)

Peanuts Lesson Plans – “Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the Peanuts Gang keep kids engaged and entertained while sharpening STEM, Language Arts, and Social Studies skills. These free resources, created for students ages 4–13, are available in 11 languages.” (L:E;SA:LA,SS,)

Actively Learn – “Texts (and videos!) for ELA, Science, and Social Studies with scaffolds and higher-order questions” (L:T;SA:LA,S,SS)

Arcademics – “Boost student engagement & fact fluency with our free skill-building multiplayer math games, language games, and more!”

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Audience and Purpose

In “Well, it seems great to me” from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“But if your music, your graphic design, your website–whatever your work is–isn’t resonating with the market, it might be because you forgot to make it for them.”

As I learned the hard way, I didn’t always realize that the way I learn best isn’t the best way my students learned. When they weren’t successful, I felt frustrated because it seemed clear and easy to me. I was explaining and teaching the way that I found it clear and easy.

I noticed that my teaching style did not match their learning style after paying attention to their learning styles.

Was my goal to teach myself or to teach my students? I needed to adapt the way I teach to make it best for them.

The students I taught were able to learn better once I adopted a new teaching style. They were understanding the material and able to apply their learning to new situations.

I admit that changing my teaching style was challenging for me but it was worthwhile. My knowledge and experience allowed me to make this change where my students could not. I was able to adjust my teaching strategies to make learning more meaningful for my students.

As the students became successful, I confessed to them that I had discovered what was causing us difficulties. I explained that learning is a collaborative effort between the teacher and the student and that we needed to find a strategy that works for both of us. Through being open with my students, I was showing them that it is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Also, I encouraged them to share with me what they thought might help them learn better since their input was vital. The more successful the students became, the more confident they became in advocating for their needs.

I need to remember who my audience is and what my purpose is. By doing this, my final result will be more successful.

Do you change your teaching strategies? Please share.

Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Due to all that is happening around the world and all the negative stuff that the media continues reporting, I believe having a reason to celebrate a holiday is a good thing. I enjoy St. Patrick’s Day because I like the color green and I love corned beef and cabbage which may not be official St. Patrick’s Day traditions but it is our traditions. I find it difficult to find corned beef except around St. Patrick’s Day and since I began cooking it in my Instant Pot, my husband even enjoys it.

I hope you have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!

"May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold —
and at the end of your rainbows may you find a pot of gold."
– Old Irish Blessing

Photo by Katie Bernotsky on Unsplash

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Spirit of ’76 Stamps

There are three stamps (U.S. #1629-31) depicting a famous painting by Archibald M. Willard. The stamps show a fife player and two drummers in the Revolutionary War. It was issued in Pasadena, California on January 1, 1976, and was commemorating the US Bicentennial. It was printed in a continuous horizontal design across three stamps. The stamps were designed by Vincent Hoffman. The USPS issued a series of stamps in the Bicentennial series and this set was part of the series. The 13-cents stamps were printed on “Bureau of Engraving and Printing seven-color Andreotti gravure press (601) as sheets of two hundred subjects, tagged, perforated 11, and distributed as panes of fifty. Mr. Zip, “MAIL EARLY IN THE DAY,” electric eye markings, and five plate numbers, one in each color used to print the sheet, are printed in the selvage.”

The painting was originally titled Yankee Doodle for an exhibit in the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. This painting was bought in 1880 by General John Devereux, a Marblehead native, and donated to the Town of Marblehead. It is displayed in Abbot Hal in memory of all the brave men of Marblehead who died for their country. My husband and I were able to see the original painting in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Music was used in the military to communicate orders to the soldiers. The fife and drums enabled messages to be heard at long distances even during battles. Boys under 16 and men over 15 were allowed to be musicians. Drums told when to load and fire muskets or which direction to march. Fifes told when to cease fire or parley.

This would be great to use in a lesson on the Revolutionary War or how music is used in wars. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Oral Hygiene

I did not take care of my teeth when I was young and I have a lot of fillings and crowns. I wish there was more instruction when I was younger. I have a twisted tooth because I tried opening a medicine bottle with my teeth. Here are some great resources to share with students.

5 Dental Health Printable Activities to Teach Kids About Oral Hygiene – Printables include “a tooth brushing chart, fun stickers, an official tooth tracker, coloring page and a receipt for the tooth fairy to leave behind after she visits.”

Oral Hygiene Lesson Plans – “By sharing these sample presentations and resources with your class, you can help educate students of all ages think about and discuss the importance of dental health. This section contains exercises ranging from learning and coloring the different parts of the tooth to more dynamic lessons that engage preteen students on why making smart choices can protect their teeth and health.”

Smile Smarts Dental Health Curriculum – “Smile Smarts! is dental health curriculum for preschool through grade eight students offering flexible, modular lesson plans, support materials, hands-on classroom demonstrations, student activity sheets, and suggestions for future dental health activities.”

30 Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Oral Health – “Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or simply someone who wants to help kids in your community live healthier lives, we’ve compiled lots of engaging resources to make teaching easy and learning fun!”

Photo by Rudi Fargo on Unsplash

Friday, March 12, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 3/12/21

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

The Tinkering Studio – “Experiments with science, art, technology, and delightful ideas.” (L:E;SA:LA)

Using Loom to create powerful learning activities – “And connecting with your students is always difficult, current conditions are making it even harder. Loom, a free, ready to use screencast recording tool, can help.” (L:T;SA:A)

Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep
– “Resources for teachers to use with students. Curated by Terri Eichholz.” (L:T;SA:M)

Colds, the Flu and You - When the weather starts to get cool, a lot of people start to get sick. So what’s making people sick and how can you avoid falling ill? Join Jessi and Squeaks to find out! (L:E;SA:S)

Educandy – “With Educandy, you can create interactive learning games in minutes. All you need is to enter the vocabulary or questions and answers and Educandy turns your content into cool interactive activities.” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Book Attacks

In Will you be remembered for what you did right or what you did wrong? from Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson shares,

“The depictions of Native Americans, Blacks, and Asians by beloved authors Laura Ingalls Wilder and Dr. Seuss are being criticized, and by implication, the characters of Wilder and Seuss as well.”

I have heard that some libraries are removing books by some of these authors and it pains me. By taking these books out of circulation, we are doing a major disservice to future generations. We are trying to change history by saying these books don’t exist anymore.

Instead, we need to be teaching our students values and acceptance. We need to teach them what happened in the past. If we think something isn’t acceptable, we need to teach them and explain. I remember when I was growing up, my parents didn’t want me to drink alcohol but they didn’t hide it and ban it from our lives. Instead, they explained the dangers of alcohol abuse and the consequences. By sharing their feelings and explaining things to me, I didn’t feel the need to rebel and sneak a drink.

I read many books where I don’t agree with some of the ideas or don’t like the characters in it. I have read murder mysteries that involve violence such as murder, kidnapping, and rape. Do we take all of those things off the shelves because someone is offended by violence? We need to stop having this knee-jerk reaction that someone might be offended by what the author is writing. What happened to free speech? If you find it offensive, stop reading it!

One of my favorite books is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It has some offensive words in it but it was realistic for the time the story was set in. It shows the racism of the times but they weren’t the major themes of the story. I’m waiting for someone to say they will take it off the shelves because of this. This story helped influence where I wanted to go to college, move to after college, marry and raise my children. I wanted to move to a place where people knew each other and the community cared for each other.

When we are teaching students, we need to make sure they take notice of when the book was written. They need to know what society was like at that time. They need to learn how to put things in context at the time it was written. They also need to put in context the time and place of the story. We wouldn’t enjoy a story about the old west and the characters driving a car or using a microwave! Good stories get you immersed in the story and make you feel like you are there at that time and place.

I’m sure that a hundred years from now, society will have changed and many things we find acceptable now won’t be acceptable then. But do we want our time hidden or even ignored? Don’t we think we are doing many good things to make the future better?

What do you think about this new attack on books? Please share.

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Sesquicentennial State Park

Sesquicentennial State Park is located in Columbia, SC on 1419 acres. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression. The park was donated to the City of Columbia in 1937 by the Sesquicentennial Commission to mark the 150th anniversary of its incorporation. That is how the park got its name.

There is a retreat center that includes a kitchen and dorm-style accommodations for 30 people. There are picnic shelters and a campground. You can rent fishing boats, pedal boats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes to use on the 30-acre lake. There is also 12 miles of hiking trails. An ADA-accessible two-mile loop goes around the lake and there is a 6.5-mile bike trail. It is the only SC state park that has a membership-only dog park where dogs can run off-leash. A park store sells firewood, ice, t-shirts, and gifts.


The campground consists of 84 standard campsites with electricity and water for RVs or tents. There are 5  primitive camping areas for up to 50 people per site


There is also a full-scale splash pad consisting of 26 sprayers. It is the only one in the South Carolina State Park System.


A two-story log house from the mid-1700s was moved to the park in 1969. It is believed to be the oldest building in Richland County.


We have visited this park but I would recommend going in the spring or the fall. When we visited in the summer, it was really hot, so we didn’t do much there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

To My Past Self

Yesterday I thought it would be fun to have my students write a letter to their future selves. Today I think it would be fun to write to their past self.

If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your past self?

I remember thinking things were the end of the world when I was younger but it wasn’t. As a more mature person, I can see things from a different perspective.

Here is my advice to my past self:
  • Mistakes that seem like they are the worst thing that could happen, really aren’t.
  • Don’t worry so much about what others are thinking because they probably aren’t even thinking about you.
  • Get outdoors more. It helps you appreciate the world around you.
  • Make wise friendships. You don’t need a lot of friends, just good friends.
  • Friends who give you ultimatums really aren’t your friends.
  • Notice who stays close to you and helps you during the tough times. They are your real friends.
  • Be kind to everyone, even those you don’t like. You don’t know what their life is like.
  • Don’t be so quick to judge people. Again, you don’t know what their life is like.
  • Don’t think you know everything. You don’t.
  • Appreciate your parents more. You will realize how important they are when you no longer have them.
  • Keep in touch with good friends. You will be glad you did many years later.
What advice would you give your past self? Please share.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Monday, March 8, 2021

To My Future Self

In A letter to your future self from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin asks,

What would you say to your future self?

I thought it would be more fun to ask my students to write a letter to their future selves. I think of elderly people I’m around and think that one day that will be me. I see them do things that I hope when I get their age, I will do differently. Writing a letter to my future self will be a way to remind myself of these things.

Here is some advice I would give to my future self:

  • Be more flexible. I have heard that the older you get, the more set in your ways you get.
  • Listen to your children who give you advice. I remember my parents ignoring our advice.
  • Watch out for scams. It seems as you get older, you are more trusting and vulnerable to scams.
  • Stay active. People who stay active live longer. Don’t just sit in front of the TV and stop moving.
  • Choose healthy eating habits and stay away from unhealthy choices.
  • Don’t keep telling people how good it was in the “good ol’ days.” No one really wants to hear that they should go back to the way things were. The world is a different place now.
  • Find a way to share your talents with younger generations. Don’t let a specific skill you have go into extinction.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. It is too easy to talk about your aches and pains and the negative things in life. Stay positive.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Others feel thankful to be able to help you.
What would you say to your future self? Please share.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash