Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Kettle Falls Hotel Adventure

On 6/17/21, we headed to Ash River Visitor’s Center in Voyageurs National Park. We arrived around 9:45 am. I asked the ranger about lodging in the park and she said the only lodging was at the Kettle Falls Hotel (which we booked in 2019 but we had to cancel). The hotel is run by Rick and Sean Oveson, the concessionaires.

After getting the phone number from her I called to see if there were any vacancies and they had some cancellations so we were able to book 2 nights there ($90 per night). The boat shuttle ($45 per person round trip) would be there in 30 minutes to pick us up and it was the only way to get to the hotel. So we rushed to the car and packed our packs as quickly as we could and made it to the shuttle (driven by Sean) just when it was dropping others off. We were on the boat with 3 other people and after mentioning my knitting retreat we were going to, one lady (Sara) said she was friends with Amy, one of the hosts of my knitting retreat. After a 25-minute ride along the Canadian border, we made it to the dock. The golf cart was waiting for us to bring us to the hotel. Lori, the receptionist, was so welcoming and excited that we made it. Our room (218) was very nice. We went to the trading post and had some ice cream before walking around the area. We had French fries for lunch, everything we bought, we were able to put it on our room tab. For dinner, I had a Philly cheesesteak and Don had a BLT. We sat and talked with people on the porch until it was bedtime.

The next day, I was up at 5 and on the front porch by 5:30. I was surprised by how many fishermen were up and leaving to go fishing. The mosquitoes were awful on the porch and I spent the whole time swatting at them. Don was down at 6:30 and he was wearing shorts but after seeing me swatting the mosquitoes, he went back to put long pants on. When we were properly covered up, we went down to the docks to look for river otters but we didn’t see any. But the views were absolutely stunning! We came back to eat breakfast which was a continental self-serve breakfast. We brought our packs down near Lori's desk since we had to switch rooms for the night. We were given a room with 3 beds. Then we went for a hike around the area. There were no designated hiking trails so we bushwhacked through the woods and we were so excited when we found an international boundary marker. When we returned to the hotel, they were cleaning and bringing in more furniture. Rick said that they were now able to be at 100% capacity (when we arrived, it was at 25% capacity). We sat and relaxed for a while reading the magazines that were available in the lobby. Then we went for another walk. We repeated this several times throughout the day and ended up having walked 6 miles total at the end of the day. We watched the staff portage a boat from Namakan Lake to the Rainy Lake side around the dam. For dinner, I had the Philly cheesesteak with fries again. Don had the South of the Border (grilled chicken). After dinner, people started returning from fishing all day. Jimmy and Dana had caught 4 fish over the past 2 days and had Kevin (the chef) cook it for them. They were nice enough to share it with us and I had never tasted walleye before but it was really good! After that, we just hung out on the porch and visited until 11pm. We met another couple staying here and they were from New Jersey (but he was originally from Minneapolis and she was from Raleigh, NC). I got up at 2am to look for the northern lights but I didn’t see any.

On our last morning here, I got up at 5 again and went out on the porch. It was 55F like yesterday but there were no mosquitoes! I was surprised! When Don got up, we packed up our stuff and had breakfast. We were going to leave at 10 but they said they had 2 boats going out so we could leave at 8:30 if we were ready. Rick took us to the dock in the golf cart and Craig took us by boat back to the Ash River Visitor Center where our car was located.

A big thanks to the wonderful people who made our stay memorable: Rick and Sean Oveson, Lori (receptionist) and Bruce (her husband), Kevin (the chef), Tom, Chad (bartender), Brian, and Craig. I heard them say they were short on staff but you would never have known it by how great our stay was! The whole operation seemed to run like a well-oiled machine!

Things I Learned:
  1. The history of the Kettle Falls Hotel.
  2. You could bring a cooler with your own drinks.
  3. They will cook the fish you catch.
  4. Pinkys are the featured drink there (pink lemonade and vodka slushie).
  5. Black flies are big and they hurt when they bite!
  6. Just because mosquitoes are bad one day, doesn’t mean they will be bad the next day.
  7. Rick Oveson has been running this hotel for 26 years.
  8. Walleye was a great-tasting fish!
  9. Rick says sturgeon doesn’t taste good.
  10. They will open up the Trading Post if you need something. 
  11. We could look south into Canada.
  12. People had to portage their boats from Namakan Lake to Rainy Lake.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


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

As I get older, my memory gets worse. I really don’t think it has to do with age. I believe it is from lack of use. Memory is like a muscle and if you don’t use it, you lose it.

When we are in school, we need to memorize things in order to learn new skills. These skills may be academic or social. As a student, we are constantly learning and using our memory skills to recall information.

As we get older, we take things we memorized for granted. Now we have the ability to look things up if we forget. We don’t worry about not being able to recall things and blame it on our age. We keep lists so we don’t forget things.

As we get older, we need to challenge ourselves to continue to grow and to learn.

We need to keep exercising our brains. I try to do puzzle games every day. This makes me try to find the strategy to get to the next level. I try to practice a new language using Duolingo. I may never become fluent but I am giving my brain exercise so my memory stays sharper.

Students need to be made aware of this so they can learn to sharpen their memory skills at a young age. I like to teach them mnemonic strategies that they might use when they are older. I have used these skills many times over the years.

I like to play games that exercise student’s memories. One game is We Are Going On a Picnic. The first student says, “We are going on a picnic and I’m going to bring ____.” The second student repeats the sentence and adds an item. The next student repeats the sentence with both items and adds one to it. This continues until one student misses and that student is out of the game. This continues until there is only one student left. The students enjoy this game and we get a lot of laughs at what they bring.

What games do you play with your students to help their memory? Please share.

Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Library

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

When I was a little girl, my parents introduced me to the library. It was a magical place and took me on grand adventures throughout the years.

My dad was a hard-working man and my mom was a stay-at-home mom so we couldn’t afford a lot of extras. Books were considered a luxury but borrowing a book from the library was free! It encouraged my reading and my sense of adventure.

Even today, the library brings me a lot of joy with the many options I have available to me. I can check out books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, and ebooks. If it isn’t available at my local library, I can even ask them to look for it at other libraries. Not only do I use it for recreational reading, I use it to get information on things I want to know more about. 

Whenever we want to make a big purchase for things such as an appliance or electronics, we head to the library to check out Consumer Reports magazine. This helps us make wise choices so we can save money.

We need to encourage students to use the libraries at a young age. Some of my high school students have never been to a library outside of their school environment. A field trip for younger children along with their parents may be educational for both. At that time, everyone can even get a library card if they bring the right documents.

It can be scary going to a new place so by being there for the children and their parents, it doesn’t feel so scary.

Do you use the library with your students? How do you encourage them to use the public library in their community? Please share.

Photo by Shunya Koide on Unsplash

Friday, June 25, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/25/21

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

Wow in the World - “Join hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas on a journey away from your screens, inside your brain, out into space, and deep into the coolest new stories in science, technology, and innovation. (L:E,M;SA:S)

100 Fun Science Experiments - “Amazing collection of science experiments and science fair projects that you can try with your kids and students at home or at school.” (L:G;SA:S)

Ports of Immigration: Angel Island and Ellis Island - “In this activity, students will identify the location of two ports of entry – Ellis Island and Angel Island – and analyze immigration documents to uncover where immigrants came from and why they wanted to live in the United States.” (L:M;SA:SS)

How do wind turbines work? - a TED-ed lesson; “Every 24 hours, wind generates enough kinetic energy to produce roughly 35 times more electricity than humanity uses each day. And unlike coal or oil, this resource is totally renewed each day. So how can we harness this incredible amount of energy, and is it possible to create a world powered entirely by wind? Rebecca Barthelmie and Sara Pryor dig into the science of wind turbine technology.” (L:M,H;SA:S)

City Guesser - a virtual vacation geography game (L:G;SA:SS)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 24, 2021


I write about this often because I don’t think there is enough kindness in the world. Being kind does not cost anything and it can mean a lot to someone in ways we don’t know about.

I can smile at someone and it might bring happiness to them.

I can compliment someone and it will brighten their day.

Holding a door open for someone is a nice thing to do.

Helping someone pick up something is a kind thing to do.

Picking up trash is kind to the world.

Giving up my seat for an older person is kindness.

Offering to throw away someone’s trash after eating is nice.

Helping an elderly person change lightbulbs in their house or taking their trash can to the street are welcomed kindnesses.

Offering to shovel snow off a driveway is very kind.

Raking leaves or doing weeding for someone is kind.

There are many other ways to show kindness and having students brainstorm other ideas may bring up things that you haven’t even thought of doing.

What other ideas would you suggest? Please share.

Photo by Mei-Ling Mirow on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


A school environment is open to a lot of jealousy. I believe jealousy is human nature.

Students feel a lot of jealousy towards their peers. They feel that the other students have it easier or better than they have it. Some might feel the teacher is showing favoritism and not being fair. What students don’t realize is that being fair doesn’t always mean being equal. I try to explain that it is like people who are shopping in a grocery store. Each person has different and unique nutritional needs. If each person had the same amount of money, they would buy different things according to needs and preferences. Having a teacher is like money, but students have different educational needs. This analogy helps students realize that they may learn differently from their peers and that is okay if they do.

I’ve had parents who were jealous of other parents. They would contact me telling me that they heard that other parents got some help that they didn’t. The only way I could handle this was by refusing to talk about other students and their parents. I would be glad to talk about the student whose parents I was talking to but no other students. I would be happy to discuss their child’s particular needs but no other student’s needs. When parents saw I was adamant about this and was consistent every time they talked to me, this no longer became an issue.

I also see a lot of jealousy between teachers. Some teachers feel like the administration is showing favoritism to other teachers. Some departments feel like other departments get more things than they ask for. When I became a department chair and attending department chair meetings, I learned how the administration works hard to be fair when making decisions. What many teachers don’t realize is that some decisions have to be made that will benefit the most people. Even though giving a teacher something they want, it doesn’t mean that is the best use of taxpayer’s money and support. I learned that the best way to get something I want is to get other teachers on board and work together to show that this will benefit a large group of students. The more students it will benefit, the better. This request had a higher likelihood of getting approved.

I also worked hard on my own time to connect with my student’s parents or caregivers. I kept in regular contact with them by phone and email. As a result, they were very supportive of me in the classroom and when there was a behavior issue, we were able to work together to correct it. I wrote very few behavior referrals to administrators because of this and my students were successful in my class. Unfortunately, this did not always happen in other classes that my students took. When we had a parent conference, the parents would bring this up and request that other teachers improve their communication with the parents. Later, outside of the conference, I would have teachers upset with me. I was told that I made them look bad and I needed to stop what I was doing. My actions were a personal decision for me and they worked for my classroom management so I was not going to stop them just because another teacher was jealous that the parent praised our communication together.

How do you handle jealousy in the school environment? Please share.

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


Many of my students with disabilities feel inferior to their peers in general education classes. They feel like damaged goods and that they aren’t good enough to succeed. This is the myth that I work hard at dispelling.

I want my students to know that they are as good as everyone else in the world and deserve to have good things happen to them. Even though they have a disability, they have other strengths that their peers might not have. For example, I had a broken radio in my car and two of my students knew how to work on cars so I let them replace the radio in my car. This was the first time that an adult let them do work on a car for them and I trusted them. I believed in them. Just because I didn’t know how to do that doesn’t mean that I’m inferior to them. When the radio was replaced and working well, they were learning to believe in themselves.

For many years, my students tried to hide the fact that they were in a self-contained special education class. When there was a class break and the bell rang for other students to change classes, my students would hide in the corners of my room so the other students couldn’t see them. Didn’t they realize that their friends already knew this? The only ones in denial were themselves. So, I made every student leave my class during a class break so they didn’t take up class time to use the bathroom because they wouldn’t go on break. I locked the door and wouldn’t let my students back in until right before the bell rang. I explained to them that if they acted like they had something to be ashamed of, then others would treat it this way.

My students had to learn that having a disability was not something they had control over. A learning/emotional disability was just like having diabetes or a prosthetic limb and was not anything they did on purpose. The important thing was learning how to live with this disability.

One way I worked hard to combat this mindset was by having a class motto. Every paper that they turned in to be graded had to have our class motto, “I am a Born Winner!” written on it. At first, they were embarrassed to write it. Then they just rolled their eyes and then slowly, they started to believe in it. They started holding their head up and accepting who they were. They stopped being embarrassed about themselves. What an amazing difference this made in moving forward in class. Suddenly success in school and life began to feel possible!

How do you handle this inferiority complex in your classroom? Please share.   

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Monday, June 21, 2021


Many of my students with disabilities feel helpless especially when they are overwhelmed. For so many years they have faced many failures and very few successes. They have been judged by others including family and friends as being lazy or stupid. Every time they try and make an effort, they feel like they are kicked down. They start believing that maybe they are lazy and stupid so why bother even trying. Life looks hopeless to them.

I believe this is a feeling is learned helplessness and I spend a lot of time fighting it. I want to try to break this cycle and turn their lives around.

My words won’t do it because they have had so many years of practice hearing the negative words. Why should they believe me who they have only known for a short time while all the others in their world tell them differently? I could talk until I’m blue in the face but they won’t believe me. I have to find a way to show them.

I start by doing a lot of pretesting so I can find out their instructional levels. This is important because I want to begin with something they know how to do that is right at the edge of what they don’t know how to do. I want to do a lot of activities during the first couple of weeks that I know they can be successful doing. I praise and encourage them a lot during this time including phone calls home letting their family know how well they are doing. My students aren’t fooled though and are a little suspicious but I keep plodding on.

After I feel they are comfortable with my process, I slip in a few harder tasks that I know they can do successfully with my help. Again, a lot of praise and encouragement goes a long way. Some of my students are surprised they are successful but they are afraid to hope. During this time, I have to be very patient and encouraging with my students because they are waiting for the shoe to fall and failure to occur again. Eventually, I will have them do the work while slowly taking away my help. It is like teaching a child to ride a bicycle and you hold the bike for a while until you have to let go so they can do it on their own. This may take another month or two but it is important to be patient.

I spend a lot of time the whole year talking to the students about taking a risk and trying harder things because I’m here to help them. I won’t let them fail. If I see them falling, I will be there to catch them. If they fall down, I will be there to help them get up. They are not alone.

I explain that everyone faces failures but what they do after them is what counts. President Lincoln ran for different political offices several times before he eventually became President. He didn’t give up and his failures made him more determined to succeed. Even Bill Gates had several failures before he found Microsoft. The ones that you never hear about are the ones that gave up after failing.

Before long, my students will start adding successes to their list of things they do and will have more courage to learn new things. My next step is to teach them what to do when I am not there and they leave my classroom. How do they go about finding help for what they want to learn? This is an important step to teaching independence.

Eventually, their helplessness begins to fade away, and hope for success takes its place.

How do you battle helplessness? Please share.

Photo by Roi Dimor on Unsplash

Friday, June 18, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/18/21

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

Be a Game Changer - “The Change The Game Design Challenge is Google Play’s initiative to build a more inclusive future through gaming and education. Gaming has the potential to inspire creativity, connect people, build communities, and serve as a gateway to new worlds, passions, and professions. We aim to inspire more teens as players and empower them as creators to drive meaningful change in the industry.”(L:M,H;SA:A)

If/Then Collection - We are pleased to offer the IF/THEN® Collection, a digital asset library of women STEM innovators, for educational and other noncommercial use. (L:G;SA:A)

Multiplication Games - free multiplication games (L:E;SA:M)

River Runner - “Click to drop a raindrop anywhere in the contiguous United States and watch where it ends up” (L:G;SA:S)

Simple Truths: 212 The Extra Degree - a video; “212º the extra degree is one Simple Truths book that is a must have in every personal and business library. A Simple Truths #1 bestseller, the concept is this: At 211º water is hot. At 212º, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive. The one extra degree makes the difference. This simple analogy reflects the ultimate definition of excellence. Because it’s the one extra degree of effort, in business and life, that can separate the good from the great. The 212º concept is vividly illustrated for every aspect of your life through powerful stories that will inspire and motivate yourself or your team to the next level of success. Join the people, businesses and schools that have taken action and adopted the 212º concept and attained their goals.” (L:G;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 17, 2021


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

Generosity means willing to give or share. This may be giving money, time, or skills.

For many of my students with special needs, they feel that people look down on them and see them as useless. With a disability, they feel like second-class citizens and inferior to others.

I spend a lot of time trying to tell them that if they act this way, that is how people will see them.

Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean that they can’t be generous to others.

I let my students brainstorm ways we can be generous to others.

Here are some of the things that we have done:
  • Collect food for a food bank.
  • Visit a nursing home.
  • Make flag pins for veterans on Veteran’s Day.
  • Write encouraging notes to others.
  • Pick up trash around the school grounds.
  • Help an elderly person with some difficult chores.
  • Create a flower bed on school grounds and maintain the bed.
  • Make public service announcement videos to share with other students.
  • Maintain a bulletin board in a hallway.
  • Make a display for the library.
After doing these activities, my students realize that they have a lot to give to others. They are just as good as anyone else and can help others. It goes a long way to restoring their pride and helping them feel good about themselves. The more that they do, the better they feel.

I’m so proud of my students when they start looking for other ways to help people without any prompting.

How do you encourage your students to be generous with others?

Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 16, 2021


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

Friendship is always hard for my students with special needs. Being in special classes makes my students different from students in general classes. Their curriculum is different so they don’t have a lot in common with the other students. Due to their disability, they might have trouble connecting with others and making new friends.

The problem for my students is getting started. No one likes feeling rejected or ridiculed. Over the years, students notice the widening gap between students in general ed classes and special ed classes, Many teenagers pick on students who are different. So, my students have learned over time to protect themselves from bullying by staying apart from others. They set up a wall as a defense mechanism which makes it hard to make friends.

Sometimes there are students who want to act like friends to my students because they want to ridicule them. They appear to want to be friends so my students will do things and then they can laugh at them. My students want to have friends so much that they are willing to do things they know are wrong just so they can be accepted by their “new” friends.

I work hard on helping my students become self-advocates and speaking up for themselves. I want them to know that having a disability is not something they should be ashamed about and it is out of their control. Yet, how they cope with the disability and their behavior is something that they can control. Having control over themselves makes it easier to make friends.

I also have some of my more outgoing students who are willing to talk about their disabilities share information with students in other classes. By working with another teacher, we set up a short time for my students to speak to other classes. Many general education students avoid my students in special education because they don’t understand disabilities or how my students feel. I noticed the more awareness that my students can spread throughout the student body, the more comfortable other students are in including them in groups outside of my classroom.

Friendship can start out by acknowledging another student’s existence and not being mean to them. It might mean including them in some activities. Inviting them to sit at your lunch table can mean a lot. Eventually, as students get to know each other better, there might be more opportunities to do things together Soon a friendship can develop.

How would you help students develop friendships? Please share.

Photo by Official on Unsplash

Tuesday, June 15, 2021


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

Empathy is being able to understand the feelings of others. Experts say that a child develops empathy around 6 years old.

I don’t believe that you are born knowing how to feel empathy. I believe that as you grow up, people make you aware of others and how they are feeling.

Many students might ignore the feelings of others and act selfishly. Whatever is going on in their lives, many students become selfish in order to survive day-to-day events. Selfishness becomes a defense mechanism and showing empathy feels like a weakness. I try to dispel this idea and explain that showing empathy will help them be more successful in real life.

I like to have at least one discussion a week to help students learn more about empathy. I share a story that has two characters in an emotional situation. I start off by asking the students which one they identify with and why. Then we talk about how the other person acted and why we think that person acted that way. We also brainstorm other reasons why that person may have acted in a certain way. It is interesting to watch them be surprised at the other possibilities that they had never thought about. The more often we do this, I see them becoming more aware of other people’s feelings in real life.

I think this is an important skill for students to learn. It will help students be more successful in school, on a job, and in relationships with others.

How do you teach empathy? Please share.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Monday, June 14, 2021


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

When I first meet my students with special needs, they deny having any learning problems. They state they are there because of behavior problems.

I spend a lot of time during the first month talking about learning problems and explaining that I believe everyone has a learning problem of some sort. It might stem from a lack of interest in the subject, short-term memory problems, or some genetic issue but I don’t care about the cause. It is important to learn to cope with the problem and move forward so they can be more successful in whatever they do.

Everyone has different strengths and building things is not one of mine. I love learning and reading books but if I have to build something, I’m a fish out of water. One of my students was able to build a car engine easily and I know I would have difficulty doing that. I could read about it and learn about it but I would still have difficulty with the hands-on work. Over time and lots of hard work plus some frustration, I eventually would be able to do it. Yet, that doesn’t make me stupid. I would know who to go to if I needed help building an engine.

I also spend a lot of time on different learning styles. I explain that I learn better visually so I like to see written instruction or pictures while my husband is an auditory learner. He prefers to hear the instructions and doesn’t want to read about them. Others learn by actually doing something and making something. One learning style is not better than another and it’s important to find out what works best for you

I also share that it is important for them to be self-advocates. When they are having difficulty, speak about it and we will try to brainstorm a different way for them to understand the topic. Other classmates might be able to help restate the information or even show them something. The bottom line is that they understand the information. By denying there is a problem only puts an obstacle in the way of finding a solution.

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

Friday, June 11, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/11/21

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

Name Coach - “Student audio name recordings collected on the web and delivered to your fingertips for easy learning and flawless ceremonies.” (L:T;SA:A)

Thinkio - “A free and simple tool to help teachers share, view and mark interactive worksheets for online lessons.” (L:T;SA:A)

Inspirational videos for students - pinterest board by Terri Eichholz (L:T;SA:A)

Life=Risk - motivational video (L:T;SA:A)

Whichbook - “Searching book sites usually means keying in an author’s name or a book title. But if you know the name already, your search is likely to turn up books you’ve already heard about. No surprises there. How about if you didn’t need an author name at all? If you could start with what you as a reader are looking for right now? You might be in the mood for a funny read, or something to make you think. Do you want a book that’s easy going or more of a challenge to get your teeth into?” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 10, 2021


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

This is one of my favorite words for education.

When I was growing up, there was a focus on working independently and doing the work all by yourself. Teachers didn’t want you to work in groups or with other students. They wanted to see that you could do things on your own.

I think that is a good skill to have but it should not be the only skill you have in order to be successful in today’s society.

In today’s world, employers are looking for people who can work on a team. They need workers who are able to collaborate with others.

Collaborating is a skill that needs continuous practice. It involves using people skills as well as personal strengths.

When I was growing up, I remember my mother helping me with a problem and saying that sometimes two heads are better than one. She was teaching me that there are times that it is okay to ask for help and to work with someone else to achieve your goal.

Too many times my students don’t want to work with others because they are afraid that they will look stupid or their classmates might make fun of them. I try to explain that this is a natural feeling and everyone feels that way when they join a new group.

The important thing to remember that everyone has different skills and when joined together, the group can be better and stronger. I relate this to a football game. Can one player beat an opposing team all by himself? No, he can’t. With a team, they can work together which makes them stronger than one person.

I also have my student imagine that they are parts of a car. Each one may be a strong part by itself but can the car run with only that one part? If you put all the parts together, the car will be able to run.

When we tell students to get in a group and collaborate, many of them do not understand what is being asked. They do not understand what they need to do in order to collaborate and this needs to spelled out for them.

This is what students need to do:
  • What is the problem/goal? What is the group trying to achieve?
  • How much time do you have to do this?
  • What materials will you need?
  • Break the job into smaller tasks.
  • Have people volunteer for the smaller tasks.
  • Assign different manager roles such as Task manager (assigns each group member their tasks), Time manager (keeping track of the time), Materials manager (gets the materials needed), Record manager (keeps track of any notes and task assignments)
  • Work on individual tasks.
  • Meet together and put all parts together.
  • Proofread their work.
  • Turn in the finished project. 
How do you teach collaboration? Please share.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 9, 2021


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

The biggest behavior problem in many classrooms occurs because the student is bored. Boredom makes kids act out. The attention they get breaks up their boredom.

Just because I enjoy a topic or a lesson, does not mean that the students will.

If there are mandatory topics or assignments, I try to find ways that I can make it interesting. If I can get the student engaged, they will interact more. When students are engaged, they don’t have time to be bored.

Whenever possible I try to take into account their interests and their learning styles. I have students fill out a learning style inventory that I’ve made up so I make sure that I’m teaching according to my student’s learning styles and not my own.

I try to give assignment choices that the student can pick from. By having choices, they are more invested in the assignment and will be more successful. I might even ask students to brainstorm possible projects they could do to show me that they understand the material. It is amazing at some of the things that they suggest because I might never have thought of them. They are very excited when I use some of their suggestions.

Once a month, I try to give students time to learn more about a specific topic that they are interested in studying. After they have time to do their research, they have to share their new learning with the class. They can make a brochure, poster, or give a presentation. I have them make a list of topics that they want to know more about. Sometimes I may be able to put them in groups if they have the same interests and have them do a group project together. The students have really enjoyed sharing their knowledge with others. I like to see how students gain more confidence the more they do this project. Most of my students really look forward to this and they have learned to be supportive of their classmates.

How do you keep your students from being bored? Please share.

Photo by THABANG MADNSELA on Unsplash

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


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

I notice that a lot of my high school students are very anxious when they first enter my class. They have spent so many years facing failure and the unknown of the future. After all the many setbacks, I don’t blame them for being filled with anxiety.

My main goal is to help students be successful in my class and in the future.

But how do I define success?

I want them to achieve their goals but first I have to help them make realistic goals. I want them to dream big but achieve the little steps towards a bigger goal. Once they start being successful in achieving smaller goals, they will take bigger risks towards achieving bigger goals.

It is okay to change your dream goal. It isn’t set in stone. I like to tell students that their dream is a living thing and might change as they get older. As they gain more skills, they may decide that they want to do something different with their lives. That is okay.

An error is not a terror. It is okay to make mistakes. As long as you are not hurt and you don’t hurt anyone else, a mistake is not a major thing. Everyone learns from their mistakes. A mistake is actually an opportunity to make changes for improvement. The problem happens when we don’t learn from our mistakes and keep making the same mistakes over and over.

My students have a fear of people making fun of them. They fear that others will see them as stupid and dumb. I work hard at making my classroom a safe place where everyone who makes a mistake can feel safe. When someone makes a mistake on a project, sometimes the class will brainstorm and give suggestions on how to make changes. I explain that more heads are better than one. Once they get in the habit of doing this, students learn to help each other instead of ridiculing each other.

Another way I help students is to explain that our class is like a family. We stick up for each other in and out of the classroom. I don’t mean violence but if we see our classmates being bullied, we stand by them and help them not feel alone. This might mean getting a teacher or administrator also but we don’t let them face adversity by themselves. This can mean a lot to my students who have felt very alone over the previous years.

Once I can get students past the anxiety stage, their learning happens in leaps and bounds. They are open to new learning and willing to try harder. Once they have that little taste of success, they want more.

How do you help students get over anxiety? Please share.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Monday, June 7, 2021

Alphabet Soup

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

If you have any words that you want to suggest, feel free to send me a message. Here is my tentative list (words may change due to suggestions):

A – Anxiety
B – Boredom
C - Collaboration
D - Denial
E - Empathy
F - Friendship
G - Generosity
H - Helplessness
I - Inferiority
J - Jealousy
K – Kindness
L – Library
M – Memory
N – Normal
O – Organization
P – Potential
Q – Question
R – Reasoning
S – Structure
T – Thesaurus
U – Urgency
V – Variety
W – Worth
X – Xenophile
Y – Yourself
Z - Zingy

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Friday, June 4, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/4/21

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

Catchy Words AR - “Meet a new word game made specifically with augmented reality in mind! Immersive experience without touching the screen. Just walk around, catch the letters with your device and solve the word! Loved by everyone! Catchy can be enjoyed by the whole family, regardless of age. Kids will solve the words and remember the spelling, but adults can help and show off their skills.” (L:G;SA:LA)

Dotstorming - “Dotstorming is a collection of tools that enable collaborative brainstorming, planning and decision making.” (L:T;SA:A)

Map Coloring - “When colouring a map – or any other drawing consisting of distinct regions – adjacent countries cannot have the same colour. We might also want to use as few different colours as possible. Some simple “maps”, like a chessboard, only need two colours (black and white), but most complex maps need more. When colouring the map of US states, 50 colours are obviously enough, but far fewer are necessary. Try colouring the maps below with as few colours as possible.” (L:G;SA:FA, SS, M)

Twelve Good Tools for End-of-Year Review and Practice - “If you're looking for some more ideas for review activities, take a look at the small slideshow…” (L:T;SA:A)

5 tips to improve your critical thinking - “Every day, a sea of decisions stretches before us, and it’s impossible to make a perfect choice every time. But there are many ways to improve our chances — and one particularly effective technique is critical thinking. Samantha Agoos describes a 5-step process that may help you with any number of problems.” (L:T;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Problem Solving

In Identity and ideas from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“If you’re doing a jigsaw puzzle and a piece you thought fit in a spot where it doesn’t actually fit, that missed fit is viewed as useful information. Go ahead and try the piece in a different spot–that’s not a threat to your identity as a puzzle solver. In fact, your identity as a puzzle solver is tied up in the idea that if the evidence shows a piece didn’t fit, you simply try a new spot, you don’t feel threatened or disrespected.”

I think it’s important to teach my students how to be problem solvers. Sometimes the solution doesn’t always happen the first time but we shouldn’t just quit when that happens. Finding the answer is important but what happens when they run into an obstacle and can’t get the answer? It is easy to give up but when you get in the workplace, giving up is not an option.

I need to help them learn some strategies when the solution seems just out of reach.

Take some time. Sometimes it helps to walk away from the problem and do something else. If I’m too focused on trying to find a solution, I can become frustrated and can’t see to resolve any issues. If I am away from up for a while, I can come back with a fresh perspective.

Get someone else’s opinion. Again, having a fresh perspective may help. The other person may have strengths that I don’t have and be able to see a possible solution that I hadn’t even thought of happening.

Restate the problem differently. By doing that, you may see some other angles that are clearer to getting the problem solved.

Think about the barriers that are keeping you from getting to a solution. You might be able to overcome some barriers and then come closer to the solution.

I can’t just tell my students these strategies. I need to give them time to practice them and see how they work in real-life situations. After they complete the problem, I would have them discuss the problem and see which strategy helped them.

How do you teach students to solve problems when they hit a snag? Please share.

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Taking Time

In “Take your time” from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“… when you have enough confidence to take your own time, to take your time to be present, to do the work, to engage with what’s in front of you right now, it’s a gift.”

Time is a big thing in the classroom.

We time kids to see if they know their math facts. We give them timed standardized tests. Classes are scheduled for certain amounts of time. Sometimes we warn students about how much time is left.

We have time to submit certain things. Meeting deadlines is an everyday occurrence.

It seems like we are always in a rush to get things done.

It is no wonder that when students are pressured to answer questions, many of them freeze like deer in headlights. I was one of those students. I was pretty smart and could write answers intelligently but if you asked me a question in class, my nervousness would keep my brain from working in the usual way and I was unable to answer any questions.

One of the hardest things I had to learn was to pause and give students time. They need time to process the question and they need time to formulate an answer in their brain. They need this time to get that answer from their brain to their mouth.

Sometimes other students want to quickly yell out the answer which only puts more pressure on the student who was asked. Some students will just give up and let the know-it-all student answer the question.

One way I start off the questioning is to announce that every student may only answer one question until everyone has answered and then I will start all over again. I use poker chips and once they have answered, they get a poker chip. If they answer out of turn, they lose their chip. At the end of the questioning period, those with the most chips get a reward.

Sometimes I will assign a question to specific students so they know that when it is their turn, they will have to answer that question. That gives them time to think and formulate their answer.

Another technique I use is to tell everyone that no one can answer the question for 2 minutes and then I will call on someone. This has everyone thinking about the answer they want to give.

What techniques do you give for think time? Please share.

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

2021 Goals Review for May

This month was a stressful month. Don had cataract surgery this month and the two surgeries were two weeks apart. This means he couldn’t exert himself where he was sweating because he couldn’t get sweat in his eyes. It also involved lots of eye drops which meant we couldn’t go far from the house. Being home meant that I was able to work in the yard a lot and I did that more than exercising.

Goals: I worked on 2 of my goals this month.

1. Lose 5 lbs. –.My weight remained the same this month but I honestly didn’t focus on it 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.) – 47 squares complete. I made 1 square this month for a total of 8 this year. 

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

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

5. Read 12 nonfiction books. - I didn’t read any nonfiction this month but I’m 2 months ahead of schedule though.)

a. Counting by Deborah Stone
b. My Paddle to the Sea by John Lane
c. Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl
d. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak
e. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
f. The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan
g. The Body by Bill Bryson

How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.


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