Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Losing is Not an Option

Recently I read a book (Move the Needle by Sherry Brander) about knitting and the story of how an owner of a yarn shop started her business. She mentioned a friend who said, “There is no losing. Every time I step into the ring, I either win, or I learn.”

What a great mindset! I wish I could teach my students that mindset because then they wouldn’t be afraid of learning!

My husband also has that same kind of mindset. Whenever I want to try something new but I share my fears with him, he always encourages me. He reminds me that I really have nothing to lose if I have the time and money to give it a try. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Nothing except losing a little money and time I put in to try it. Plus, I always learn something from my efforts.

My students really have nothing to lose. Their education is not costing them any money personally and since they have to be in class anyway, they won’t be losing any time that they would be doing something else.

I was always told that “if you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” I’ve tried to remind myself that whenever I feel like giving up.

Whenever my students don’t succeed the first time, but they do after a few tries, I ask them to reflect on what they did differently. What happened that helped them succeed? Sometimes I have them write down their reflections. This may help someone else from making the same mistakes. If possible, I have them teach someone else who doesn’t know how to do that skill. By teaching, it helps retain the information that they learned. The students may be able to explain in a way that is easier to understand than the way I explained it. I watch and listen so that I too can learn how to teach it differently.

Students are always fascinated to see that I am learning something along with them. Once they get past the feeling that I know everything and they will look weak in my eyes for not succeeding the first time, they are more willing to try new strategies. I tell them that they are helping me be a better teacher because I need to see how learning takes place from their eyes. Sometimes I am so used to doing a certain skill that I take some skills for granted and assume that everyone knows all the steps. This is not always true so by watching the students teach a skill, I can see what steps I might have left out unintentionally.

How do you encourage students to see the opportunities in learning? Please share.

Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

Monday, August 30, 2021

Relate to the Real World

There are so many lessons that I think students need to learn. Yes, they need to learn the basics of reading and math, and writing but how we teach these skills is also important.

Just learning facts and memorizing things won’t help students retain the information.

It is important that all learning is related to how the skills will be used in the real world.

There are tools that my grandparents may have used in school that are no longer relevant to skills needed today. There are also tools that are important to learn how to use today that were not even invented during my grandparents’ time.

I like to think about the skill that I’m wanting to teach and then list all the ways that I use that skill currently. I also like to think about what occupations may use these skills on a daily basis. That is a great way to introduce a lesson. It is important for students to learn why they are having to learn something because this helps keep them engaged. By knowing the purpose helps students know that it isn’t just busywork. At the end of the lesson or unit, I might invite a speaker in that specific career who could tell about their occupation and how they use these skills in the workplace.

Reading is a skill that everyone uses every day whether it is reading a newspaper, road signs, or directions on how to do something. The better a person can read, the more opportunities that are available to them.

Many math skills are needed in everyday living skills. Counting money, Budgeting, paying bills, savings, paying for recreational activities all involve math skills. Cooking and measurement go hand in hand.

Writing is necessary for communication. Many forms require personal information and signatures. People leave notes for others when face-to-face communication is not available. Texting on phones or sending emails are commonplace activities now.

As long as I can show my students how they will use a certain skill in their life right now, students are more engaged and willing to learn. If I can’t show a purpose for learning that skill, I need to rethink what I’m teaching. Am I just doing this for busywork? If so, I should be teaching something that they need to learn.

How do you relate your teaching to real life? Please share.

Photo by Carl Jorgensen on Unsplash

Friday, August 27, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/27/21

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

Weathering and Erosion - “In this episode of Crash Course Kids, Sabrina gives us a real world example of how the Hydrosphere and Geosphere affect each other in the form of Weathering and Erosion. Think of Weathering as the force that makes a mess and Erosion as the force that cleans it up. “ (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:G,;SA:A)

K-5 Geosource - “Welcome to K-5 GeoSource, a professional development and resource website for Earth science teachers!If you are involved in elementary science education in any way, these webpages are for you. We have a rich store of content, activities, services and links for you to explore.” (L:E,;SA:S)

Lori’s Story - Gratitude Grows - “For more than a year, artist Lori Portka painted her gratitude through individual pieces of art for 100 people who have made a difference in her life.” (L:G,;SA:FA)

Aquation - “​​Choice, strategy, balance, and . . . water equity? Parts of the planet are struggling to get enough water. Use each region's wealth to build pipes, desalinate water, and conduct research to bring water where it's needed most. Monsoons, dry spells, disease, and even cursed lawn sprinklers can help or hinder your progress. Manage your wealth and water carefully to solve the world's water crisis!” (L:E,;SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Better Feelings

In Narrative and feelings from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“If our goal is to help people make better choices, it helps to first create better feelings.”

Years ago, I worked hard on getting a merit bonus when it was offered. One of the things I believed was that if students had a better self-concept, they would be able to make better progress in their academic skills. At the beginning of the year, I had students complete a BASC (Behavior and Emotional Screening Test). That gave me a base level of how they were feeling about themselves. I also gave them an achievement test to determine where they were performing academically.

During the school year, I worked hard on improving their self-concept. We spent a lot of time discussing self-concept and what can be done to improve it. Students also did role-playing activities so they could learn how to respond to difficult situations. We also talked about alternative behaviors when dealing with situations that made them feel bad. Instituting a class motto went a long way to improving class morale and students’ self-concepts. Before each class and at the end of each class, students had to recite together the class motto: I am a Born Winner! Eventually, students started to believe in themselves and each other. Outside of class, students started encouraging each other also. .

As students started feeling stronger emotionally, they started having more confidence in learning new skills. They were learning to take risks in learning and not being crushed when they didn’t get it right at first. Mistakes were not as horrific or humiliating anymore. They became a little blip in the learning and with my help and encouragement, they were able to move on.

At the end of the year, I gave my students the BASC again and was able to show a huge improvement in their self-concept. Also, there was a large improvement in their academic scores also.

All of this encouraged me to continue these strategies every year. Years later, when I met up with a former student for lunch, she pulled a piece of paper out of her wallet to show me. On the paper was our class motto, “I am a Born Winner” that she carries with her all of the time. During tough times, she pulls it out to remind herself that she can face whatever difficulties she is going through at the time.

How do you help students have better feelings? Please share. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Mackinac Bridge Stamp

Recently I found another stamp in my husband’s stamp collection that intrigued me I found one with the Mackinac Bridge on it. On June 14, 2015, we were able to drive across the Mackinac Bridge and it was beautiful. It was hard to imagine how people got across the water before the bridge was built.

The Mackinac Bridge Stamp (#1109) is a 3 cent stamp issued on June 25, 1958, and was printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The design features two towers of the bridge and a ship sailing underneath the bridge. This stamp was issued to coincide with the celebration of the link between the upper and lower Michigan peninsulas.

When the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883, people began to wonder if the same thing couldn’t be built in Michigan. The state of Michigan ran 9 ferry boats at a time between the two peninsulas and carried 9000 cars every day. This traffic could be backed up 16 miles and took a long time to get across. Even though it was popular, it was also expensive.

Construction began on May 7, 1954, and took almost four years to complete because they could only work on it during the summer. It cost $100 million to build the bridge. There are grated openings between the center lanes to help airflow and keep the road from being affected by strong winds. High winds can cause the road to move 35 feet from side to side.

The bridge was completed in 1957 and rises 200 feet above Lake Huron and Michigan. It’s nickname is “Mighty Mac and it extends 5 miles across the Straits of Mackinac. Before the bridge was completed, people would have to travel by ferry or drive around Lake Michigan and through Wisconsin to get to the other side. The bridge opened on November 1, 1957 and was considered to be the largest suspension bridge in the world. After the bridge was built, it only took ten minutes to get to the other side and added about $100 million a year to their economy through tourism.





Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Laziness is Fear

In Discipline vs. fairness from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“The opposite of discipline is actually laziness, and that’s often associated with fear. Fear of responsibility and fear of the truth. Responsibility and truth are required if we’re going to get on the right track.”

Sometimes when my students appear lazy, it is actually because they are immobilized by fear. You have heard the saying, “deer in headlights?” That is exactly what my students remind me of when I announce we are starting some new skill. They immediately go on the defensive and I can feel the “fight or flight” atmosphere infect the whole class. My students seem to be thinking of ways they can get out of this situation immediately. Suddenly some students find the need to desperately go to the bathroom. Others begin to act silly to distract the class. Some may start doing something at their desks rather than pay attention to what I’m saying. All of these things are common for my students. They are so used to failure that they fear taking the risk to learn something new. Many are not willing to fall down one more time.

It is this situation that makes my introduction to a new lesson so important! I need to find the “hook” that makes them want to learn more. I want them to be just a little curious enough to want to learn a little more. I want them to be just a little interested that they want to fight to learn instead of taking flight. By being really excited about my lesson, they will want to know what the excitement is all about. They can choose to exhibit their defensive behaviors after they find out what this is all about. Then when they get hooked, they will forget about their defensive behaviors.

While I’m getting them excited about the lesson, I continually let them know that they are not alone. They can ask me for help or they can ask their classmates. We will learn together. Knowing that they are not alone is also helpful to the students. When you feel safer, it is easier to take risks.

So when students look lazy, I need to look beyond their behavior. I need to ask myself why they are acting this way. Usually, I find out that none of my students are lazy. They are just afraid. Wouldn’t I act the same way if I had intense fear? How would I behave if I knew there was someone there to catch me if I fell?

How do you get your students past the fear? Please share.

Photo by Anderson Rian on Unsplash

Monday, August 23, 2021

Dyeing Yarn

Last week I decided to play around with some dye and dye some yarn. Here is the process I went through.

Gather all my materials: cooking pot, soaking pot, kitchen tongs, rubber gloves, mask, reusable zip tie, yarn (1 skein/100 g of superwash fingering weight yarn - BFL 75% and 25% nylon, citric acid, measuring spoons, paper towels, dye, paintbrushes. All of these are dedicated to yarn dyeing and none are used for food cooking.

First I put a zip tie around the yarn and shook it out. Then I soaked my yarn in a citric acid bath (1 T of citric acid to enough water to cover yarn). I soaked the yarn for 30 minutes.

I filled the cooking pot with enough water to barely cover my yarn and heated it up to a simmer. I also added 1 T citric acid to the water. Once it was simmering, I squeezed the excess water from the yarn and shook it out to let the yarn strands flow freely. Then I lowered the heat and added the yarn. I rearranged the yarn some of one side was pulled over to the top.

I added ¼ of a tsp of teal dye by sprinkling over the top of the yarn. I barely pushed it down in some places. After a minute, I pulled out the yarn and rearranged it on the zip tie before returning it to the hot water. I raised the heat a little to bring it back to simmer and then lowered the heat again. When it soaked up all the dye, I pulled up the yarn and moved it around the zip tie again. Then I lowered the yarn back into the water and rearranged it some of the yarn on the bottom side was on top.

I followed the same process with the sapphire blue dye but too much of the dye fell in one spot. Next time, I would use a paintbrush for the sprinkling.

Next, I followed the same process with hot Fuschia dye but I used a paintbrush for sprinkling.

Following that, I used sun yellow and sprinkled it with the paintbrush.

I decided I needed more pink so I used a paintbrush to sprinkle more pink over the yearn but I don't think it made much of a difference. 
Once I was sure all the dye was absorbed, I raised the temperature again and brought it to a simmer to help set the colors. Then I took it outside and let it cool down.

Once it was cool, I washed it in a cool water bath with some Soak detergent. I squeezed the water out and put it outside to dry.

I was happy with the results but I would do some things differently next time.

Things I would do differently:
  • I would measure out the dye but I would dip my paintbrush into the measuring spoon and then sprinkle it on the yarn. That I way I would know how much of each dye I was using.
  • I would start with the lighter color and speckle with the darker colors.
Having students learn something new is a good way for them to learn about following a procedure. Then have them reflect on what they could do differently next time. I think reflecting on my actions will help me make a different color yarn next time.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Friday, August 20, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/20/21

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

Modern Classroom Accessibility Guide - “In this Accessibility Guide, you will find resources and tips for making your blended, self-paced, mastery-based classroom accessible for all students, including students with special needs and students who are emergent bilinguals. This guide examines specific tools and techniques that educators can use to apply teaching strategies in Modern Classrooms.” (L:T,;SA:A)

Back to School S.C.A.M.P.E.R. - “I am slowly updating a lot of my materials, and I just completed my “Back to School S.C.A.M.P.E.R.” A quick recap of S.C.A.M.P.E.R.: S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is an acronym used to help one remember some great tools for creative thinking. “Substitute” is the first tool, followed by “Combine”, “Adapt”, “Modify”, “Put to Another Use”, “Eliminate”, and “Rearrange.”’ (L:T,;SA:A)

Superhero Science - TEDed lesson on superheroes (L:T,;SA:S)

100 Fun Science Experiments - “​​Enjoy the huge collection of Fun and Interesting Experiments / Science Fair projects for all Kids!” (L:G,;SA:S)

Charming Butterfly Garden Ideas to Refresh Your Yard - “In this guide, we’ll go through how to set up a butterfly garden, list several great butterfly-friendly plants, and provide design ideas for your vibrant new space. Since setting up a garden can be a wonderful family activity, we also included some printable butterfly activities to help get the kids involved.” (L:G,;SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Wacom Intuos - Review

I was recently sent a Wacom Intuos Creative Pen Tablet to review and I’m not being paid for this review. I’ve heard about these but I’ve never used one. When I was asked to try it, I was so excited because I wanted to know if it was worth teachers or schools buying one or not. I was sent the Wacom Intuos 6100 with Bluetooth.

One thing I noticed was that there weren't a lot of instructions on how to begin. So I used the directions that were sent to me which were mainly pictures. I attached the tablet to my laptop (MacBook Pro) with the USB cable that came with it. Then I went to the website that was given in order to download the software and drivers needed. Along with the tablet, 3 bonus software packages were included. I was able to download 2 of them but I needed to update my laptop software in order to open the third one. I also watched the tutorials that were given.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to use the pen and tablet without any directions so I opened up the Clip Studio Paint program on my laptop. I opened up a new blank page and used the pen on the tablet, I was surprised to see the writing on the blank page on my laptop. When I hovered the pen on the tablet, I could see the cursor on the screen. I clicked on the calligraphy button on the left and made sure the “ink” was black. Then I started writing and like magic, my writing was there. It was so much fun experimenting on this page with different fonts and styles.

Then I opened up the Clip Studio AfterShot program and played with it also. I was able to adjust and enhance pictures more easily. There were a lot of features that I will need to play with when using the program to understand what they do but using the digital pen was very easy.

I also opened up a Microsoft Word document and was able to handwrite my notes onto the screen. It is so much easier to draw diagrams and examples to show students. It is also easier to write math equations just as if you were writing on a piece of paper.

I tried using it connected to my laptop as well as using Bluetooth and both worked very well. I like the freedom that Bluetooth gives me if I need to walk around a classroom.   

I know why there weren’t a lot of instructions because it is pretty intuitive on how to use the pen. The pen works better than using a mouse or a trackpad! It does take some practice with using the pen and writing legibly but it was a lot of fun. With more practice, I think I will feel more comfortable using it.

I’ve talked with other teachers who say they have used this in their classrooms. Many have old Promethean Boards that no longer get tech support but teachers are able to use their Wacom when teaching the class and using the Promethean Board.

I think this will be a handy tool to have in the classroom as well as a tool to use for personal reasons. I would definitely recommend someone getting this if they feel they don’t have the flexibility with their computers that they would like to have. If they need to draw pictures or diagrams, this would be extremely useful for a teacher. If students are using drawing or editing photos, this would be much easier to use than a mouse or trackpad.

Do you have a Wacom tablet? If so, what do you use it for? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

In Memory Of

August is a hard month for me. It is the month that my oldest sister, Betsy, and my mother died. I want to take this time to remember them and let them know that they will never be forgotten. 

Original photos by Pat Hensley


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Speed Bump vs. Obstacle

In Speed bumps from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“Often, the only difference between a speed bump and an obstacle is our decision about which one it is.”

When I have a problem, I try to work on it until I can solve it. Sometimes I ask for help but then I’m able to solve it. This is a speed bump.

When I give up, it becomes an obstacle and keeps me from achieving what I want to do. Giving up never solves the problem.

I try to get my students to understand that their learning disability is just a speed bump and not an obstacle. They might have to go slower over the speed bump but they will eventually reach their goal. Many of my students see their learning disability as a brick wall that can’t be penetrated. I feel it is my job to help them see that this is just an illusion. I want my students to see that I am there to help them see clearly. The more we work together the brick wall suddenly gets shorter and shorter. before long that brick wall disappears and in its place, it's just a little speed bump.

Unfortunately, this process does not happen overnight. It takes time and patience which many of my students do not have. They feel they have lost so much time that their peers are speeding past them. Because of this, they continually feel like they are beating their heads against the brick wall and getting them nowhere. I have to convince them that being patient and taking the time the move forward with me is worth the effort.

How do you help your students see the difference between a speed bump and an obstacle? Please share.

Photo by Riley Pitzen on Unsplash

Monday, August 16, 2021

Back to School Time

Preparations are underway for the start of a new school year. This week, the teachers in our county return to their classrooms, and next week the students will be back for a new school year.

In 2017 I had written a post about returning to school and I think it would be a good time to see it again. You can read the post here: Return to School.

This year may be a little different because you may have some students returning from virtual school last year. Please be patient because they may need time to readjust to the school culture. They may need reminders about appropriate behaviors and schedules. I think it is important to remind those students who were in school in person at the end of last year to be patient and welcoming to those who were in school online.

I would also spend the last couple of minutes checking with students on how they are doing. Find out what problems or concerns they have. They might not be having any problems but it is good to know that someone cares, Coming back to school can be a stressful time for all.

What other advice would you give to those returning to school? Please share.

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

Friday, August 13, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/13/21

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

How Do Rockets Fly? - “Rockets are super amazing, but how do we get something that weighs as much as 100 elephants all the way into space?” (L:G,;SA:S)

Periodic Table of Elements - interactive periodic table of elements (L:H,;SA:S)

Space Math - “This resource offers over 1000 math problems that reveal the many ways math and science work together to help us understand the universe. Some problems involve the simple counting of integers to reveal the structure of molecules. Other problems explore more complicated methods of statistical analysis, algebra, geometry and, yes, even calculus! All problems are matrixed into the national math and science standards for a quick review.” (L:G,;SA:M)

PhET Sims - Science and Math - “A collection of fun, interactive, research-based simulations for science and math instruction in Grades K-12 and university, developed by PhET Interactive Simulations at University of Colorado Boulder (https://phet.colorado.edu). All simulations are based on the results of education research and tested with students. Each PhET simulation provides a highly interactive environment which supports student exploration and discovery – making the invisible visible, including models and representations, providing measurement tools, and emphasizing real world connections.” (L:G,;SA:S,M)

Whichbook - “Choosing books by mood and emotion You can mix our mood sliders into great combinations - try unpredictable, lots of sex and optimistic and check what comes up. Flip the slider setting from optimistic to unusual and the books offered are quite different. Click on a book cover that intrigues you and you can find out more. No need to wade through long reviews, or complicated plot summaries. There’s a short comment designed to convey the essence of the book, what it feels like to read. You can get a direct experience of the author’s voice in a sample paragraph. And there are a few Parallels – other books and sometimes tv shows, songs and even paintings which have some similarities with this one.” (L:T,;SA:LA)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 12, 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. This is my last one in the series and I hope you enjoyed them.)

If you’ve ever watched the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you will be able to commiserate with the students who are sitting in a class while a teacher calls out names in a monotone voice. One can only imagine what his teaching must be like! Nothing is worse than sitting in a class where not only are you bored learning the topic but the teacher is also bored teaching the topic!

Before I plan a lesson, I try to think about why I’m excited about this topic. If it is one of the course requirements or required to meet standards, then I ask what aspect of this can I make exciting. What can I do to make this an interesting lesson for both myself and the students? I want to put a little zing in the lesson.

If I’m excited about a lesson, my excitement usually rolls over to the students. They can’t help themselves. Of course, they might act bored or too cool to be in school, but I believe there is a tiny spark hidden in them that makes them want to know more. This is the zing that I believe should be in every one of my lessons.

There might be a certain point of view that I think would be interesting to look at. Or there might be a specific event or person that we want to know more about. We might want to dig below the surface of the information we have in order to find out the motivation for the event.

I might ask students what would bring out the zing in a lesson. They may have additional ideas that I hadn’t thought of. Students love the chance to give input and even appreciate it more when I listen and use some of their ideas! When students feel they have input, they tend to be more engaged in the lesson.

What do you do to bring zing in your lessons? Please share.

Photo by Genessa Panainte on Unsplash

Wednesday, August 11, 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.)

People may a big effort to treat others well but at times, don’t treat themselves the same way. It is important to be kind to others, but you also need to be kind to yourself.

I know that it is important to get students to think about others but we also should help students love themselves.

When you love yourself (I’m not talking about a super-ego personality), it shows in your body language and your tone of voice. You stand up straighter and you look at people instead of the floor. You have confidence when you are around others.

The other day, one of our young students came to school with a shirt that said, “If you are looking for awesome, you found it!” What a great saying!

People who feel good about themselves are willing to have open minds. They can listen to different perspectives before making a decision. Those who don’t feel good about themselves immediately go on the defensive when hearing different perspectives.

If you feel good about yourself, you are willing to take a risk and try to learn something new. You know if you fail, it is just an opportunity to try again but in a different way. You don’t give up. You are willing to ask for help when you need it because asking for help doesn’t mean you are stupid or weak.

If someone makes an error, you are supportive and encouraging to them. But if you make an error, it feels like the end of the world. An error should not be a terror! You should be supportive and encouraging to yourself in the same way you would be to someone else.

If you feel good about yourself, you are willing to work with others. You know that many times, there is strength in numbers. For example, if you take one strand of dried spaghetti, it breaks in half easily. But if you take the who pack of dried spaghetti and hold them together, they are much harder to break in half.

Trade those negative saying to yourself for positive ones. When you hear the words in your head, stop what you are doing and rewind those thoughts. Replace them with positive words immediately. Before long, you won’t need to rewind as often.

How do you help students feel good about themselves? Please share.

Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Advice to the General Education Teacher:

Recently a Special Education teacher was creating a document to use at the beginning of the school year as a helpful resource to General Education teachers. This teacher was asking for people to share what advice they might give to a General Education teacher and I thought I would share some thoughts.
  1. Use all accommodations and modifications as stated in the IEP even if you don’t like them because it is a federal law.
  2. Transitions can throw students with special needs off track so give some warning before changing to a new activity.
  3. Announce the plans for class at the beginning so the student knows what is going to be expected.
  4. At the end of class, remind students what is due the next day by writing it on the board and announcing it. This helps visual and auditory learners.
  5. If possible, have students get in pairs to retell the new information they have learned. By telling someone, it reinforces the learning for some and by hearing it from their peers helps others.
  6. Use the special ed teachers as a resource when you get frustrated that students are having difficulty learning a concept. They may know a strategy that you can use to help your students be more successful.
If you are a General Education teacher, what other advice should I add to the list that others might find helpful?

If you are a Special Education teacher, what do you think should be added to the list?

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Monday, August 9, 2021

You’d Be Home Now– Book Review

I recently read You'd Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow. I read a review copy compliments of Netgalley and I am not being paid to give this review.

Emory is a junior in high school who follows in her popular college sister’s footsteps and also is a self-appointed guardian to her older brother who is an addict. After a tragedy, Emory returns to school and faces some difficult times along with her brother who has just returned from rehab.

This was a fabulous novel and I would highly recommend it for a high school library. It deals with many topics that students face in their daily lives such as dysfunctional families, drug addiction, sex issues, social media, peer relationships, friendships, and bullying. The characters in this novel are so diverse that I believe any high school student will be able to relate to someone. It could open up great discussions in the classroom where students can talk through the characters rather than reveal their own personal issues. I was unable to put the book down because I enjoyed it so much.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 8/6/21

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

Math Pickle - “Puzzles, games and mini-competitions organized by grade.” (L:T,;SA:M)

ERIC - “search educational resources.” (L:T,;SA:A)

Using Digital Archives - “Three Ideas for Encouraging Students to do Research in Digital Archives” (L:T,;SA:A)

Gitmind - “GitMind is a Free online mind mapping and brainstorming tool designed for concept mapping, project planning and other creative tasks. 100+ Mind Map Examples for Free. Boost your productivity now!” (L:T,;SA:A)

Sea Turtle Facts - “Sea turtles are fascinating creatures. Learn some facts about these much loved marine reptiles.” (L:G,;SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 5, 2021

The End of Summer Learning Place 2021

Today is the last day of my EDEX962/963 class and the last day of our summer program - Summer Learning Place. It was one of my best years and I know it is because of the awesome teachers I had! They went above and beyond what I expected of them. They all were a very cohesive group and I enjoyed being around them. Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious. I really feel the children benefited from their instruction and I enjoyed seeing new strategies were used.

I decided not to do a final performance and ceremony for the public this year due to Covid and mask concerns. Instead, we had classroom ceremonies and the students received a gift and a certificate. I think it was a lot easier on the teachers and the students so I may discontinue that stressful activity in the future.   

My goals were:

  • I want to observe the teachers teaching lessons in reading, math, and writing.
  • I want to learn new strategies that they use to teach different skills.
  • I want to help the teachers grow professionally.
I believe I met all three goals this year and I hope the teachers were able to meet theirs also.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, August 4, 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.)

A xenophile is a person who is attracted to foreign peoples, manners, or cultures.

I need to teach my students to be xenophiles.

I want them to learn about foreign cultures so they can understand differences without being afraid of these differences

I feel racism occurs because people are ignorant of these differences and are afraid when they are around people who are different.

Instead, we need to embrace these differences.

My husband and I love to go on cruises because we go to different countries. When we visit different countries, we like to visit their local grocery store and we can learn a lot about the culture from this store. We can see what kinds of food they eat as well as the different values of certain foods. We can tell if electricity and freezers are normal or a luxury. There are certain types of food that may be unusual to us and I like to ask people how they cook it.

Many cruises have crew and staff from many different countries. I like to talk to them about their life in their home country and information about their families. It is very interesting to hear how they had to adapt to life on a ship and how they deal with their cultural traditions aboard a ship.

I ask students if they are willing to share their family’s background and sometimes a parent or grandparent is willing to come to talk to the class. I make sure that my students are respectful when we have a visitor. Sometimes we plan our questions before the visitor comes so we can be prepared to ask appropriate questions. If I don’t do this, sometimes my students get too shy and are afraid of asking a “dumb” question.

How do you help your students learn about foreign cultures? Please share.

Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Pink Beds Trail

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

Monday, August 2, 2021

2021 Goals Review for July

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

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

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

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

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

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

a.     Counting by Deborah Stone

b.     My Paddle to the Sea by John Lane

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

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

e.     In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

f.      The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

g.     The Body by Bill Bryson

h.     Kiss Me Like a Stranger by Gene Wilder

i.      The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron

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


How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.


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