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

Friday, March 5, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 3/5/21

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

MIT App Inventor – “MIT App Inventor is an intuitive, visual programming environment that allows everyone – even children – to build fully functional apps for smartphones and tablets. Those new to MIT App Inventor can have a simple first app up and running in less than 30 minutes. And what's more, our blocks-based tool facilitates the creation of complex, high-impact apps in significantly less time than traditional programming environments. The MIT App Inventor project seeks to democratize software development by empowering all people, especially young people, to move from technology consumption to technology creation.” (L:T;SA:A)

Historic Tale Construction Kit – “Two German students originally wrote the Historic Tale Construction Kit, with Flash. Sadly, their work isn't available anymore, only remembered. This new application is a tribute, but also an attempt to revive the old medieval meme, with code and availability that won't get lost.” (L:H;SA:A)

Samson’s Classroom – “The #1 way to learn Sight Words!” (L:E;SA:LA)

Pink Time – “Pink Time is a student-centered learning assignment - plain and simple.” (L:T;SA:A)

Vocaroo – a voice recording service (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Order or Choice

In The order of operations from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“And yet, we often do the least-scary or easiest parts first, regardless of what the order of operations tells us.”

There are many procedures that we teach students to follow that have to be done in the correct order. If you don’t follow the procedure, the outcome won’t be right.

Students many times feel restricted when they always have to follow the exact order of a procedure. They don’t feel they have any control over their actions.

That is why, when there is no need for a procedural order, I like to give my students choices.

I individualize a lot of assignments for my students because they have different needs. Students may be at different levels or abilities so it isn’t right to give everyone the same cookie-cutter assignment.

Each student has a weekly assignment sheet and all of the assignments are written down. If I want to go over a concept or topic with the whole class, I will get everyone’s attention for the lesson but their individual assignment for this concept or topic may be different. For example, we may be talking about Benjamin Franklin but each student may have a different activity to complete.

I like for my students to see their weekly assignments so they aren’t surprised by anything. They understand what they need to do. If they finish early, they can go on to the next assignment. If they don’t feel like doing one assignment, they can save it for later. Many like to do the easier assignment first and get it out of the way. Some like to get the hard assignment out of the way so the rest of the work is easier. Different personalities have different strategies and by giving them a choice, they have more control over their actions.

Giving my students choices helps them control their behavior and their frustration level. It helps them be more successful in the classroom.

Do you give your students choices? Please share.

Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Pi Day

In How Do You Really Feel About Pi Day? From Engage Their Minds. Engagetheirminds shares.

“If you’ve never celebrated Pi Day (March 14th) in your classroom, you may be missing an opportunity to get your students really excited about math.”

She also has a great wakelet for Pi Day resources.

The author suggests that before Pi Day, have students come up with arguments on why or why not Pi should be celebrated.

I think this would be a fun activity for high school students to do. Let them do research for their arguments a few days before Pi day and prepare a presentation to promote their side of the argument. It would be fun to see what students come up with. Then you can have the class vote which side they agree with.

What do you do for Pi Day? Please share.

Photo by sheri silver on Unsplash

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Email Replies

When I get an important (either to me or someone that is important to me) email, I try to reply within 12 hours of getting the message. If I can’t give a solid answer, I confirm that I got the email and I’m working towards getting an answer for the person.

If a parent of a student emails me, I try to reply as soon as possible. If a parent contacts me, they usually have a concern or a problem. If they have a problem, I do not want it to escalate where we are reacting instead of solving the problem. If they have a concern, I want to ease their worries as soon as possible just the way I would want to be treated if I was that parent.

Recently I had a graduate student ask for a zoom meeting which we’ve done several times already. I have no problem meeting with students when they have questions or concerns. When she asked for a specific date and time, I set up the meeting so we could meet at her convenience. Unfortunately, I waited 15 minutes and she never showed up. So, I emailed her that since she didn’t show up, I left. I still have no reply to my email with an apology or an excuse.

I also had an undergraduate student who has not turned in several assignments and her grade is dropping. When I emailed her about my concerns, she did not reply. After a week, I finally had to refer her to our academic assistance team.

If I’m taking a course and the instructor emails me asking for a response, I would definitely consider this an important email and respond as soon as possible. I want to show this person respect and make sure that I answer any questions that are required.

Not replying to an important email is rude and disrespectful. I don’t feel you have to reply immediately but replying within a reasonable amount of time is the right thing to do. When you don’t reply, you come across as unreliable and uncooperative.

Replying to emails can help you be more successful in the classroom and in life.

How do you feel about replying to emails? Please share.

Photo by Stephen Phillips - on Unsplash

Monday, March 1, 2021

2021 Goals Review for February

We spent most of the month in SC. Don ended up with 2 abscessed teeth and we caught Covid. Our refrigerator also died but after 5 days of being unplugged, it worked again. This means I stress ate and didn’t eat well at all. I have to do better in March!

Mindfulness (Word of the Year) – I’m still doing meditation exercises through the app Ten Percent (free phone app). I think it has really helped me focus on being in the present.

Goals: I didn’t do very well working on my goals this month. I’ve only worked on 3 out of the 5 goals so far.

1. Lose 5 lbs. –I haven’t worked well on my weight this month. I did not get over 10,000 steps at all 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.) – 43 squares complete but I didn’t work on any this month.

3. Knit a sweater. – I haven’t started on this yet. I have felt like knitting at all this month. 

4. Design 3 new patterns – I published one design (The Chinese New Year Cowl)

5. Read 12 nonfiction books.

a. Counting by Deborah Stone
b. My Paddle to the See by John Lane

How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.

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