Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Under the Sun, Moon, and Stars a - A Book Review

I recently read Under the Sun, Moon, and Stars by Laura Kosann. I read a review copy compliments of Netgalley and I am not being paid to give this review.

It was a great young children’s book! A young girl is discouraged by classmates and made to feel inadequate. Then one day a fairy queen helps her look at her strengths and she learns to find herself and feel proud of who she is what she can do. All young students who are feeling lost because of what they can’t do need to read or hear this book. It is encouraging and hopeful. I think as a class story, this would open up a great discussion on how we can help our classmates and encourage them instead of discouraging them. It also can lead to a discussion on looking at what we are good at instead of focusing on our weaknesses. This would be a great addition to a class or school library.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

World Gratitude Day

September 21st is World Gratitude Day.

I don’t think we teach students about gratitude enough.

People and media focus so much on the negative that it becomes a habit.

We feel resentful about what we don’t have enough of such as time, money, friends, games, or anything else we want.

Yet, we forget to focus on what we do have.

I have a bullet journal that I intentionally think about things that I’m thankful for. Every day I think about something from the day before that I’m thankful for and write it down.

Maybe doing this on a daily basis would be too much for a class but it would be good to have my students list the things they are thankful for at least once a month.

Maybe have a class discussion and ask for volunteers to share something that they are thankful for. Each day I could pick 3 -5 students. At first, it might be slow to start but as this becomes a habit, it will become easier. Students will start looking at things from a different perspective so they will have something to share the next day.

Do you do something like this in your class? If so, please share. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Changes

"The NVIV (Next Vista Inspiring Video) series of posts are written by Rushton Hurley and designed to provide students and teachers with fascinating discussion prompts.”

In Major Change, he features a video of a glacier melting. I was lucky enough many years ago to take a trip to Alaska. We took a 10-hour boat tour in Kenai Fjords and were able to see glaciers up close and personal. We even saw a glacier calving (chunks of ice break off the glacier) which is amazing to see in person.

He gives the following prompts to accompany this video:

“Watching this happen, how many things do you see that generate questions for you? Are there places near where major changes have happened in the environment?

Are there little changes in your area or even in your community that make you wonder if something big might happen in the near future?”


Many times in my student’s lives, they face so many unknowns. Some of them don’t know where they may live next month. Some of them aren’t sure their parents will be there when they get home. They face a lot of changes that I was lucky enough not to have faced as a child.

Watching this video can help open up discussions as a class on what changes a person might face in their lives. Sometimes have a general discussion helps students talk about a personal issue without identifying themselves. Some students may have helpful strategies that they use to cope with these major changes.

Of course, this video can also generate discussions on climate change, glacial melting, flora, and fauna in the tundra, and life in places with glaciers, Students may feel inspired to do research on topics that relate to these and share their information with the class.

Please check out the video and think of other prompts you might come up with. Please share.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/17/21

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

African-American History - “306: African-American History is a digital program that brings to life a number of important leaders and events that impacted the fabric of America. The lessons span four key eras, allowing students to navigate principal figures and moments in Black American History in a self-paced environment, whether remote or in the classroom.” (L:M,H,;SA:SS)

Future Goals - Hockey Scholar - “is a digital course that leverages highly interactive gameplay to reinforce key STEM math and science concepts through real-life applications.” (L:E,M,;SA:M,S)

The Compassion Project - “The Compassion Project is a first-of-its-kind national initiative to provide compassion education to elementary school students across the US. Our mission is to ensure that every primary school student in the US understands what compassion is and how to demonstrate it in
 their lives.” (L:E;SA:A)

Prescription Drug Safety - “High School Prescription Drug Misuse Prevention - An evidence-informed prevention program used by 90,000+ students across North America.” (L:H;SA:A)

FutureSmart - “By assuming the role of Townville’s Mayor and helping the citizens achieve their financial goals, students address real-world financial decisions within the context of a larger goal. The result is a learning experience that builds healthy financial habits and encourages students to apply a variety of financial skills to many connected decisions.” (L:M;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fourteen Years Later


I have been writing on this blog for fourteen years. My first post was on September 16, 2007.

Time flies when you are having fun. I’ve been writing posts every Monday through Friday for fourteen years. When I first started this, I told myself I would quit when it stopped being fun. I guess I’m still having fun.

Here is my first post on “Why I’m Doing This.” My reasons are still the same but I throw in some lessons I’ve learned through my travels and sometimes some other personal memories. I still hope that others enjoy reading my posts and get something out of them.

Here are the stats from Google Analytics:
  • Over 2.3 million people have read my blog.
  • I have 261 followers.
  • Over 3730 posts.
  • Over 3500 comments
  • Most people use Chrome.
  • Teaching is the most popular keyword used for search.
  • The top locations that view this site are the US, France, Russia, UK, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Brazil, and the Philippines. 
Overall, I think I’m meeting my goal of having meaningful content for my readers.

I want to thank everyone who has visited and supported me over these 14 years.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Student Cam 2022


Student Cam Contest

“StudentCam is C-SPAN's annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and our nation.

For the 2021/2022 school year, we are asking students in grades 6-12 to create a short (5-6 minute) video documentary on a topic that relates to the competition theme, "How does the federal government impact your life?"

The submission deadline for all entries will be Thursday, January 20, 2022. With cash prizes totaling $100,000 each year, C-SPAN awards prizes to the top 150 student documentaries. If you are a teacher and listed as an adviser on one of the top 50 winning films, you will also receive a cash award. Since 2004, C-SPAN has awarded over $1.2 million dollars in cash prizes to students and teachers.



"How does the federal government impact your life?"

Explore a federal policy or program that has an impact on you or your community. Evaluate the effectiveness of this policy or program by researching multiple perspectives on it.




Click here for a printable Student Checklist (Google Doc)

The competition is open to all students in grades 6-12. Grades 6-8 compete in the Middle School category, and grades 9-12 compete in the High School category. For more information, visit our Prizes page.

Students may compete individually, or in teams of either 2 or 3 members.

Documentaries must include clips of supporting or opposing C-SPAN video that relate to the chosen topic.

Winning StudentCam documentaries will thoroughly explore a variety of viewpoints related to the chosen topic, including those that may oppose the filmmakers points of view. We recommend that you interview experts on your chosen subject.

Documentaries must be between 5-6 minutes in length. *End credits, if applicable, must begin after the 5-minute mark but are permitted to run longer than the allotted 6-minute time frame.

Entries must include either end credits or a works cited list. Students can use whichever format they currently use to cite their sources.
For the complete list of competition rules, click here.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Dyeing Yarn - Cool Vat Method

I recently dyed some yarn trying a new dyeing method (to me). I thought I’d share the process I followed and the results. It is helpful for me to look back and this in case I want to try it again and see what I would do differently. This is also good for students to see because they need to know that learning is a lifelong process. 

Materials I used: rubber gloves, mask, kitchen tongs, plastic spoons, 6 dye powders, scale, coffee filters cut in half to lay flat on the scale,  tall pot with lid, steamer basket, 6- 1 quart glass jars with lids, 6- 20g mini skeins of bare yarn. 

  1. Soak mini skeins for 2 hours in tap water.
  2. Put on a mask and gloves. 
  3. Weigh dye powder, and 1 cup of warm water to dissolve the powder. (.8g of dye for 20 g mini). 
  4. Pour each color into a separate glass jar. Add water to fill jar ¾ full. 
  5. Add yarn to jars.
  6. Let yarn sit for 10 minutes. 
  7. Add ½ tsp. citrus acid and stir. 
  8. Leave in jars overnight to 48 hours if needed.
  9. Squeeze out excess water.
  10. Put in the steamer basket. Place in a tall pot, cover,  and steam for 30 minutes. 

Things I Learned:
  1. I weighed the powder outside and the wind was blowing slightly. The coffee filter did not want to stay on the scale. Next time I will use plastic cups. 
  2. It was hard to weigh .8g of dye. I understand now why it is easier to make a stock solution and take out the necessary liquid needed. 
  3. When putting the yarn in the steamer pot, I will make sure none of the yarn touches each other. The blue touched the yellow and there was some color transfer so I had to redo the yellow yarn again. Some of the green got on the blue but I don't think it is very noticeable.
  4. I want to do this with the other dye colors that I have. This would be a great way to have samples of all the colors in their saturated state so when I want to make variegated yarn, I will know what the colors look like. 
Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, September 13, 2021

Ideas

“The NVIV (Next Vista Inspiring Video) series of posts are written by Rushton Hurley and designed to provide students and teachers with fascinating discussion prompts.”

In Letting Ideas Take Flight, he features a TEDtalk about drones. It was a very interesting video to watch! Then he gives some prompts that would make a great class discussion for students.

He gives the following prompts to accompany this video:

“These ideas about the “future” of drones were shared back in 2016. How would you learn what has happened in the years since the talk? If this same talk were given now, would the audience give the speaker a standing ovation, like in the video? Why do you think it would or wouldn’t?

Ideas, when shared, create possibilities for others to build upon them. The creative energy that comes from sharing ideas and taking them in new directions is something that you can experience with others, if you’re willing to ask, “What if?”

We all have creativity inside us, including ideas that might someday change the world. How might you tap into your creativity? How might you help others do so, too?”


These prompts lead to a discussion about how to do research which is extremely important. I want my students to be able to find answers to their questions when they leave my classroom and I’m not available to show them how to find the answers.

I like how he invites students to think about their own creativity. It seems like the education system focuses too much on test scores and meeting standards instead of encouraging students to be creative. Without creative thinkers, we would never have all the inventions that make our lives as comfortable as they are now.

Please check out the video and think of other prompts you might come up with. Please share.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/10/21

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

Travel Posters - “content that is free to use and reuse.” (L:G,;SA:A)

Classroom Posters - “Print and post a set of early childhood posters to support your young learners. From counting 1-10, to identifying feelings, to naming the days of the week, you can leverage these PBS KIDS posters at Circle Time in Centers, and to support a school-to-home connection.” (L:E,;SA:A)

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

Getting Unstuck - “ Getting Unstuck is a 10-module intermediate Scratch curriculum to help your students develop greater creative and conceptual fluency with code. The curriculum reimagines the classroom as a design studio: a culture of learning in which students explore, create, share, and reflect. Get started with the curriculum by reading the orientation, then explore the modules.” (L:E,M,;SA:A)

The Traveling Salesman Problem - “The Traveling Salesman Problem is one of the most intensively studied problems in computational mathematics. These pages are devoted to the history, applications, and current research of this challenge of finding the shortest route visiting each member of a collection of locations and returning to your starting point.” (L:G,;SA:M)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A Good Teacher

In What Happened When the “Silly” Teacher Became Serious by Jason Haber, he shares,

“As teachers, we must remember that we don’t just teach math, music, or digital literacy. We teach kids. Those kids need a reason to care about what we’re teaching them.”

As teachers, we face a lot of pressure from parents’ expectations, state standards, and federal policies. It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the regulations that we must follow and the paperwork to document that we are following them.

Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves. We want to be as good as our colleagues or maybe even better than them. We want the students to like us but we want them to spread the word that we are good teachers and they really learned something from us. Sometimes their definition of a good teacher can be different from ours or their parents. How do we know when we are “good” teachers?

We need to remember that we are teaching kids and not subjects. We need to remember that they have enough friends and we need to be the teacher and not the friend. Students don’t have to like us to feel that we are being good teachers. They just need to know that we care.

I used to make an extra effort to contact the parent or guardians of all my students within the first two weeks of school. I also contacted them every two weeks the first quarter and then every month after that. If necessary, I contacted them more often in order to solve a problem with the student. I believe this showed the student that I cared and many former students told me that it made an impact on their lives.

I constantly let the students know that there was no problem in my class that they would face alone. I was always there for them if they needed help but my help did not mean I would solve the problem for them. Many of my students felt that just knowing they were not alone, helped them have the courage to take the risk of trying new skills.

I also explained that if I talked too sharp or sounded impatient during a lesson, it was not because I was angry with them. It was because I wanted them to understand the lesson so much that I would get frustrated with myself for not making it easier for them to master the skill.

I need to remind myself that it is more important to remember the students and how the students are feeling and not focus so much on the skills. If the lesson is fun for me, then I hope I can make it fun for the students. If the students are having fun, it may be a lesson that they will remember. I can’t remember all the lessons I hated but I could tell you many that I enjoyed.

What do you think makes a good teacher? Please share.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Being Like Everyone Else.

Recently a video, Pip, was recommended by my friend Rushton Hurley of Next Vista for Learning. He asks, “Is there something about you that you wish you could change to be more like everyone else?”

This would be a great lesson for kids of all ages. The question is appropriate for students of all ages and I’m sure their answers will vary according to their age.

It has taken me many years now to realize that I don’t need to be like everyone else and it is okay to be unique. I remember that I wanted to be as athletic as my friends (never happened). I wanted to be taller and skinnier (never happened). I wanted to be comfortable speaking to my peers as my friends seemed to be (still not there yet!). Even when I started to hike, I wanted to be able to hike as fast as my fellow hikers (nope, not there either).

I realized that I need to be happy with the skills that I have. I don’t need to be athletic if I really don’t enjoy competing in sports. I will never be taller than I am because I don’t have any control over that. If I want to be skinnier, I need to control my calorie intake. As for hiking, I like hiking slower and taking lots of photos of nature. I usually end up at the same destination as the others but it may take me longer and that is okay with me.

How would you answer the question? Please share.

“The NVIV (Next Vista Inspiring Video) series of posts are written by Rushton Hurley and designed to provide students and teachers with fascinating discussion prompts.”




Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Reading Lists

I have a Goodreads account and I log in the book I’m reading, the date when I’m done, and rate it. I also have a list of books that I want to read in the future. I’ve also connected with others who tend to read the same type of books that I do so when I’m looking for a book to read, I can glance at their lists for suggestions.

In August, I read 9 books. Four of the books were from a murder mystery series by Karin Slaughter. There are ten books in the series and so far I’m really enjoying the ones that I’ve finished. Two of them came as recommendations from friends. Two were sent to me for reviews. One was a nonfiction book that I read in order to reach my goal of reading twelve nonfiction books for the year.

I think keeping reading lists would be good to do with students. Older students could have a Goodreads account and follow each other. Younger students could keep a reading list of their own. They could list the book, the author, and rate it on a scale of 1 to 5. Students can get in groups and share the latest book they read and why they rated it the way they did.

Students who like mysteries can be grouped together. Others who like fantasies can be grouped together. Those that like an assortment of things can be in a separate group. These groups can change as student interests change.

When a student begins a book, the class can be asked to see who else has read it and what they rated it.

Different ratings of books can be discussed as partners. If the rating were different, partners can discuss why they rated it that way. This is a great way to have a critical discussion. The class can have a discussion on what they think makes a book “good” and what makes them rate books in a certain way.

Do you have students keep track of what they have read? Do they rate them and share their ratings? If so, please share.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Monday, September 6, 2021

Happy Labor Day

Today in the US we are celebrating Labor Day. It’s always celebrated on the first Monday in September every year. It is to celebrate workers and their achievements. 

The holiday honors the labor movement and the way workers have helped the United State’s economy. It is one of the 11 federal holidays that we celebrate.

In the late 19th century, there was a series of workers’ strikes because workers were protesting about unfair working conditions. This holiday was created as a response to that. “Labor Day” was celebrated by unions with the first parade in New York City.

In 1887, Oregon was the first state to celebrate it as a public holiday. Before long, thirty states were celebrating it as a public holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law on June 28, 1894, making it a federal holiday.

Many people celebrate it by having gatherings. Last year, due to Covid-19, it was a very subdued holiday where everyone was isolating themselves. This year, many people have had the vaccine and are feeling in the need to be around others and feel thankful that they can again. Many people will have barbecues or pool parties.

So, if you are in the US and celebrate Labor Day, I hope you have a safe and fun day!

Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash

Friday, September 3, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/3/21

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

Where I’d Like To Go - icebreaker activity (L:G,;SA:A)

The Almanac of Interesting Numbers - interesting number facts (L:H,;SA:M)

Pictures from around the world this week - “A selection of powerful news photographs taken around the world this week.” (L:G,;SA:A)

World History Commons - “An open educational resource with peer-reviewed content for world and global history teachers, scholars, and students. This website provides more than 1,700 annotated primary sources, 100 teaching guides, 30 overviews of methods and approaches, and 250 website reviews.” (L:G,;SA:SS)

Parents who raise ‘smart, well-rounded’ kids always avoid these 4 phrases, says tech education expert - “The way we talk to our kids about using technology can have a huge impact on their ability to become smart and well-rounded adults. After years of researching how to moderate kids’ screen time, I discovered how the most successful parents help their kids find balance. Here are four common screen-time statements they don’t use — along with examples of what to say instead.”(L:G,;SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Willodeen– Book Review

I recently read Willodeen by Katherine Applegate. I read a review copy compliments of Netgalley and I am not being paid to give this review.

This book is about nature and the community of all of its inhabitants. Willodeen is a young orphaned girl living in a town that has blue willow trees, hummingbears, and screechers. This explains how nature intertwines all of its inhabitants and how they depend on each other for survival. Over the past few years, there have been fewer and fewer hummingbears which affects their annual Hummingbear fair. Willodeen discovers the answer to why this is happening.

What a wonderful book for students to read. It touches on topics of loss, friendship, standing up for what you believe in, nature, the food web, and community. I think it would make a great addition for a school or classroom library. Boys and girls would enjoy it equally. I could see a middle school class reading this as a class novel.

I enjoyed reading the book because it spurred my imagination as well as appreciated the nature connection.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

2021 Goals Review for August

I worked harder on my exercise and walking this month. I didn’t lose weight but I think I’m toning up. I also did a lot of knitting and finished two sweaters. I read a lot but not much nonfiction. It’s been too hot to do much in the yard but I hope to make up for that when the temperatures cool off. 

  1. Lose 5 lbs. – My weight stayed the same this month but I’m doing a lot of core exercises. 

  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. This goal is complete. 

  3. Knit a sweater. – I finished the Nesting Cardigan,  The Rocket Tee, Bright Axis, and Recalibrate. – This goal is completed

  4. Design 3 new patterns – I published two designs (The Chinese New Year Cowl and the Double Happiness Socks). I’ve been working on a new sock design - Graveyard Field Socks. 

  5. Read 12 nonfiction books. – 11 books completed so far.

    1. Counting by Deborah Stone

    2. My Paddle to the Sea by John Lane

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

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

    5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

    6. The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

    7. The Body by Bill Bryson

    8. Kiss Me Like a Stranger by Gene Wilder

    9. The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron

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

    11. There’s a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers by Royd Tolkien


How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.

 

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