Thursday, May 13, 2021

Giving Choices

Recently someone mentioned that I stress how important it is to give students choices and asked me for more examples of choices that I give my students. When I give the students choices, they seem more engaged and the amount of work that they complete is much higher. I do not usually give more than three choices because more than that can be overwhelming for the student. When they are overwhelmed, they tend to not do anything rather than making a choice.

  • Choose which order you want to do the assignments. All assignments need to be completed but you can choose which one you want to do next.
  • Choose if you want to sit at your desk or in the reading corner or a private area with the desk.
  • Choose if you want to listen to music while you work.
  • Choose one of three writing prompts.
  • Look at one of three pictures and write a story about it.
  • Choose one of three books to read.
  • Choose if you want to read alone or find a group to read with.
  • Read to yourself or record yourself reading.
  • Choose one of three assignments (all on the same skill) to complete.
  • Choose one of three projects to complete using math skills.
Social Studies or Science:
  • Choose a topic that we have studied so far and do more research on it. Present it to the class by making a brochure, poster, commercial, or movie trailer.
What other choices would you give students? Please share.

Photo by Burst on Unsplash

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Is It Working?

In “But how will you know?” from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

"So the question: “How will we know if it’s working?” is a powerful one."

I have helped a few teachers set up behavior management plans for their classes. Each one was different because each one involves various amounts of time and energy required by the individual teacher. Different plans work for different teachers. Some involve extensive planning before implementation and may involve a lot of record-keeping during the implementation. That is just the first part though. Just because a plan is manageable for the teacher to implement, it doesn’t mean that it works.

I also advise teachers that they may attempt one plan but it doesn’t work so they should be willing to try something else if needed.

Of course, how do you know if it is working or not?

I had one teacher that tried a plan for two days and scrapped it saying that it didn’t work. Then she’d try something different for two more days and be frustrated when that didn’t work.

Whatever you chose to try, you need to try it for more than two days! I would give a plan at least two weeks before evaluating it for effectiveness. During these two weeks, students will test you to see if you really will follow through with the plan. It is important that you be fair and consistent with all of the students while implementing your plan. Students will want to see if you let someone else get away with something but enforce it with them. If this happens, your plan will never work.

During these two weeks, keep a daily frequency chart of the negative behaviors that you want to get rid of. At the end of the two weeks, this will help you decide if the plan is working or not.

At the end of two weeks, you can look at the frequency charts to determine if your plan is effective. You may need to do some adjustments to your plan but make sure your students know about these changes before implementing them.

What else would you do to see if a behavior plan is working? Please share.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Debra Wong Yang

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I am featuring another Asian and Pacific American that you might not know much about.

In May 2002, Debra Wong Yang was appointed the US Attorney for the Central District of California by President George W. Bush. She was the first Asian American woman to serve as a United States attorney.

Yang helped create the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles and served as President of the museum. She also was a founding member of the first Asian American Bar Association in Chicago.

Yang’s office was the largest US Attorney’s office outside of Washington, DC. It served about 18 million people. She served as an assistant US Attorney and prosecuted various crimes. She successfully prosecuted a person who got the longest prison sentence for computer hacking.

In 2006, she resigned from her position as US Attorney. She became a partner at Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher’s Los Angeles office.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Book Fair Equity

In Book fairs - unfair? From Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson shares,

“In reality, book fairs will be just one of dozens of things that will bring the attention of children to economic inequity in our society.”

He asked for readers to share their thoughts about school book fairs. This is what I posted as my response:

I grew up as one of the kids who couldn't afford to purchase books at the book fair but my parents always gave me enough to get one book. When I became a teacher, I decided to let students go to the book fair and make a list of the 3 books they would want me to purchase for our class library. From that list, I would attempt to buy one book from everyone's list with my own money. Sometimes the kids had that same book on their list so that helped narrow the list down. Then I decided to do a book exchange at the time of the fair for kids who couldn't afford to get any books. I had colleagues and volunteers who were glad to get rid of their children's books that their own children had outgrown. I let my students get one book from the collection to bring home and when they returned it, they could get another one. They really enjoyed that.

It would be nice if every aspect of life would be equal but in reality it isn't. I don't believe that this situation should be made equal for all because it is just another example of real life. Some people can afford cars while others have to rely on public transportation. Do we stop selling cars because everyone can't afford to get one?

How would you respond? Please share.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Friday, May 7, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 5/7/21

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

Blackbird - “Teach coding to more students, more effectively” (L:G ;SA:C)

CRITICAL THINKING - Fundamentals: Introduction to Critical Thinking - “Geoff Pynn (Northern Illinois University) gets you started on the critical thinking journey. He tells you what critical thinking is, what an argument is, and what the difference between a deductive and an ampliative argument is.” (L:G ;SA:A)

Five Tools for Staying On Task - “Productivity Tools I'm Currently Using” (L:G ;SA:A)

Images of the Revolutionary War - “The selected pictures listed below are among the audiovisual holdings of the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives that relate to the American Revolution. The images document the progression of the war, after the Revolution, and portraits of prominent individuals. The records are photographic copies of works of art. The dates, mediums of the originals, and the names of the artists are given wherever it has been possible to determine them” (L:G ;SA:SS)

Where the "Park" Am I?
- “The are more than 400 unique national parks throughout the country and US territories that are home to iconic places of nature and history. If you closed your eyes and were transported to a park, could you guess to which park when you opened them? Try to identify which park each of these 360-degree images are from and check your answers in the dropdown menus.” (L:G ;SA:SS)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I thought I would feature some famous Asian and Pacific Americans that you might not know much about.

Noriyuki “Pat” Morita was born on June 28, 1932, in Isleton, California. His father immigrated to California from Kyushu in 1915. His mother immigrated to California in 1913. He had a brother who was twelve years older than him.

When he was two, he was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis and spent nine years in the Weimer Institute and Shriners Hospital. For long time periods, he was enveloped in a full body cast and told he would never walk. While in the hospital, he became friends with a visiting priest who told him that if he ever converted to Catholicism, the priest would rename him to "Patrick Aloysius Ignatius Xavier Noriyuki Morita". When he was 11, he had spinal surgeon and learned to walk. He was reunited with his family, who were interned at the Gila River camp in Arizona. Almost two years later, he was relocated to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center.

After WWII, Morita graduated from high school in the Bay area in 1949. The family ran a Chinese restaurant. Morita entertained customers. In 1956, his father was killed in a hit and run accident so his mother and him kept the restaurant running for four more years.

In the 1960s, Morita was married and employed as a data processor for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Eventually he worked for Aerojet General and then Lockheed. He was the liaison between engineers and programmers mapping out lunar eclips for the Polaris and Titan missile projects.

After he felt burned out, he decided to go into show business and worked as a stand up comedian in the Sacremento and San Francisco area. He took the stage name as Pat Morita. Eventually he moved to Los Angelos to try comedy there. In the early 1970s, he got a role on Sanford and Son. From 1975-1983, he played Arnold on Happy Days. He was also Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. He played many roles after this. During his life, he suffered from alcoholism.

He was married three times and had three children.

On November 24, 2005, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita died of kidney failure after a urinary tract and gallbladder infection.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Motivating Students

Recently someone asked a group of us for help.

“Looking for ways to motivate the unmotivated students who are struggling to pass 9th grade classes and some end up repeating those classes. Are there any best practices that you or others have used that have been successful?”

Here is my answer:

I think it is important to remember that all students are different and are motivated by different things.

I like to start with an interest inventory. I like to find out the things they like to do and things they like to eat or drink. I know when I have to do something I don’t want to do, I like to reward myself with something if I get the dreaded task completed. I’m sure that students can be motivated the same way.

Students this age also need to have some input. They already feel like so many things are not in their control so completing assignments is something they can control. Talk to students about what is keeping them from succeeding. Ask them what would help them be more successful. Maybe they are overwhelmed by the assignments and need them broken down into smaller steps. When students have input, there is a higher chance of them having success.

Offer choices. Students with different learning styles can be very creative. Look at what your objectives are and then give them different ways to show you that they understand the work. Instead of a typical written test, let them suggest other ways they can let you assess their understanding such as a brochure, PowerPoint presentation to the class, diorama, or poster.

What advice would you give? Please share.

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of our favorite national parks is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We can be on the North Carolina side in about 3 hours and the Tennessee side in 4 hours. I thought I would share a little video of our trip last week. Students who have never been outdoors much might enjoy it. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

2021 Goals Review for April

This month was much better activity-wise. We also did a lot around our house that needed to be done as well as work on rental houses.

Mindfulness (Word of the Year) – I’m currently doing meditation exercises every evening. I also added Square breathing to my daily routine. This is actually helping me fall asleep and not let my mind go wandering.
Goals: I worked on some of my goals this month.

1. Lose 5 lbs. –. Rather than focusing on my weight this month, I focused on improving up my stamina and energy levels. I was able to walk 3 miles on the treadmill this month which is a huge improvement. I even incorporated intervals of jogging.
2. Knit 12 squares on my national park blanket. (There are 60 squares in the pattern and this is year 4 of the project.) – 46 squares complete. I’ve knit 3 squares this month for a total of 7 squares this year.
3. Knit a sweater. – I completed the Nesting Cardigan and I’ve started on The Rocket Tee.
4. Design 3 new patterns – I published one design (The Chinese New Year Cowl) and I’m working on a new sock design.
5. Read 12 nonfiction books.
    1. Counting by Deborah Stone
    2. My Paddle to the See by John Lane
    3. Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
    4. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak
    5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    6. The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan
    7. The Body by Bill Bryson
How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.
Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash