Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Gatlinburg Trip

For pictures, click here.

We left home at 7:45 and got to Treetops Resort around 11am. We took Exit 447 (Big Creek Rd.) off of I-40 to Lindsey Gap Rd to Groundhog Rd. This was a lot shorter than the route we usually take.  I read the reservation wrong and thought check-in was at 2 but it wasn’t until 5. Since our condo wasn’t ready, we went exploring. We went out the back road which was supposed to be a 2 lane road but it felt more like a winding one-lane road with steep drop-offs. My heart was in my throat the whole time and I was so afraid we might encounter another car wanting to go the other way! As soon as possible we got off that road and went hiking. We went to the Sugarlands Visitor Center and wore our masks inside (they required masks but didn’t seem to enforce them). Then we hiked to Cataract Falls and then did the Fighting Creek Nature Trail. After that, we hiked the Sugarlands Valley Trail which was exciting because we saw our first bear of the trip. He was busy looking for food and wasn’t interested in us. Next, we decided to do the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and stopped at Jim Bale’s cabin. Near the corn crib, we saw a snake (I think it was a water snake). After that, we continued our drive and saw another bear. We finally checked in our condo at 4 pm. Next, we went to Food City and bought some groceries. Dinner was peanut butter and jelly or honey sandwiches.


After breakfast, we got back on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and went to the Rainbow Falls trailhead. We got on the trail at 8:45 and made it to the falls at 11:30. It was a long tough climb! Along the way, we saw another bear crossing the trail. In fact, there were tons of bears on this trail and a mother and cub were above the trail in the trees. We had lunch there and returned to the car by 2 pm. When we got back to our room, we cleaned up and I paid for the cruise we booked. As we were leaving to go find some dinner, we found a raccoon outside our room going through the trash from a nearby trash can. We decided to go out for dinner at the “Best Italian CafĂ© and Pizzeria in Elks Plaza.” We really like this place. Don had manicotti and I had spaghetti with meat sauce. Both came with 3 garlic rolls (full of garlic and parmesan cheese!). As we were leaving, some ladies ran inside from the patio screaming. A bear came on the patio and wanted their garlic rolls. The waiters ran out and scared him off. The smart bear went around the building and decided he wanted to come in the front door. Again, the waiters ran him off. They say they have to do this 2 or 3 times a day. It was a wonderful day!

We got to the Grotto Falls trailhead at 9 am and it was full. All along the roadside cars were also parked so we decided to go do another hike. We went to Greenbrier to hike along the river but the area was closed because of heavy flood damage that happened in July. So, we headed to Pigeon Forge and walked around the outlet stores and Walmart. It might have been good to take the morning off since we were both a little sore and stiff from yesterday’s hike. After lunch at Olive Garden, we headed to the Sugarlands Visitor Center where we began the Gatlinburg Trail. It was an easy 4-mile hike and good to stretch our muscles. Then we went back to our condo and had Red Hot sausages and sauerkraut for dinner.

We left at around 7 am to go to Grotto Falls. The sun was just coming up and the scenery was beautiful. When we got there, there were still a lot of cars already parked and the llama trailer and truck were there also. The llamas bring supplies up to Mt. LeConte once a week. We got on the trail at 7:30 am and got to the falls around 8:22 am. It was uphill most of the way but much easier than Rainbow Falls. The falls were beautiful and we were able to walk under them. We were back in our car by 9:45. After stopping by our condo for a little while, we went to the grocery store to pick up some more sauerkraut for dinner. We went to the Little House of Pancakes and had their lunch special (Baked Spaghetti, salad, garlic toast, and a drink for $9.95) which was really good. After lunch, we went by Laurel Falls but there was no parking so we went on to Elkmont. We parked near the cabins by Jakes Creek Trail and explored the cabins that are being restored. Then we hiked a couple of miles on the Jakes Creek Trail. On the way back to the condo, we stopped at the Spinnery so I could talk to them about my spinning wheel. It has been a great day!

We were at the Alum Cave Bluff Trailhead by 7 am so we could get a parking place. There were only a few left but many of the cars belonged to those staying up at Mt. Le Conte. We also met the 28 Thursday Hikers from Knoxville. It took us 45 minutes to get to Arch Rock and then another 45 minutes to Alum Cave Bluff. We took our time, taking pictures and enjoying the views. We talked to a lot of people so the entire hike took us 4 hours round trip. The weather was beautiful! Since we left so early, the sun was just rising and it was a little overcast. This made it nice and cool for the hike up the mountain. The sun was out and shining later but we were on the way down the mountain. We stopped at the Little House of Pancakes for lunch. Don had a veggie plate for $6.49 and I had the lunch special for $9.95 (French dip, fries, and a drink). When we got back to the condo, we went to the pool for a little while. It was another fantastic day!


We started the Laurel Falls trail at 7:45 am. It was a beautiful 2.6-mile hike and paved most of the way except where the pavement was washed out. We were finished by 9:15 am. I carried my hiking sticks but never did need them. We left there and went to Elkmont and walked about 3 miles on the Little River Trail. It was a beautiful day for hiking. We went back to the Little House of Pancakes for lunch. Don got the special for $9.95 (Catfish, fries, slaw, hushpuppies, and a drink) and I got a grilled cheese sandwich and fries for $5.95. When we got back we relaxed and then went to the pool and hot tub.

I thought we were going to do an easy nature hike today but ended up going up to Chimney Tops at 8:40 am. Then I thought we would do a side trail to 2 waterfalls but when we got to the junction we met two guys who came from that direction. They said the trail was slick and involved some boulder hopping so we ended up going straight up to Chimney Tops instead. We haven’t done this trail in 20 years and I have no idea why we decided to do this today! It went straight up for 2 miles with almost 1400 ft.
elevation gain. There were many times when I wanted to give up but after a lot of short breaks, I continued upward. We made it to the platform which had a beautiful view of the Chimney Tops. A little further and the trail was barricaded but many people go under the barricade and continue to the rock outcropping. We met three young people and one of them (Shannon) graduated from Furman in 2021. We watched a couple go all the way up to the top of Chimney Tops and Shannon and her friends made it halfway. We got back to our car in time to head to the Little House of Pancakes for the lunch special (Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, bread, and a drink for $9.95). We spent the afternoon at the pool and hot tub.

We left the resort at 7am and headed home. We went past Cosby Campground and turned left on Groundhog Rd. and right on Lindsey Gap Rd. to get to I-40. This was a great shortcut and got us home by 10am. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Doing With Data

“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 Doing With Data, Rushton features Abu. He is a 17-year-old high school student who discovered the potential of machine learning.

Rushton gives the following prompts to accompany this video:

“What’s a moment in your life when you weren’t sure you could learn something, and ended up figuring it out? Who helped you? A teacher? A friend? Someone out there who created a YouTube video?”

As a special education teacher, I’ve seen how my students learn differently from others. I think seeing this video would make them realize that other students realize this also and that it is okay to learn differently. This might help them be more open to finding other ways of reaching their goals.

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

Monday, August 29, 2022

Doing Research

In Searching is a Thinking Skill from Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrne states,

“Researching is a thinking skill. It requires that the student first state what it is he or she is trying to determine. Without a clear purpose for the research, students will simply click around the web hoping to find “something useful.””

I have a friend who is a genius at researching! I love that she can think outside the box and give me advice on what to look for. She got her library science degree so I guess she learned a lot about researching from that.

But I don’t want my students to have to wait until after they get out of school in order to learn how to research a topic. I want them to learn how to do it while I can help them now.

I think a great activity would be to have students brainstorm keywords for different topics. Students can go in any direction and there are no wrong answers. I would start a word map with the topic in a circle in the middle of the board. Then each keyword would come off of that topic. There may be keywords that come off of the first keyword.

When students are given the freedom to go off on a tangent, it might actually help them look at the bigger picture. The more they practice this, the easier it will be for them. Eventually, they won’t need a group to help them do this kind of activity and can do it on their own.

The more research that students can do, the more successful they will be at finding information about their chosen topic.

How do you encourage students to learn how to do research? Please share.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Friday, August 26, 2022

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 08/26/22

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

Classroom Makeover - “This one's for the teachers! WIN $2,500 to makeover your classroom. Sign up for Lumio – it's FREE – for a chance to WIN!! (L:T; SA:A)

The Week of Inspirational Math Videos - “The Week of Inspirational Maths (WIM) resources are free lessons and videos about math and mindset designed to inspire students. They are ideal for the first week of school, to get students excited for the year ahead, but can be used any time. On this page, you can build your own WIM week by selecting one video, one resource for creating a positive maths community, and one task per day and adding them to your playlist. Then click “See Summary” to play videos, download materials and save/share your WIM week! (L:G; SA:M)

Base 10 Blocks - Great tool for students (L:E; SA:M)

Thyng - “Thyng is an Augmented Reality app that brings the world around you to life! Walk around your worlds and experience them in real space, seeing your own 3D objects, photos and videos like you never have before.” (L:T; SA:A)

Virtual Field Trip - Great Salt Lake - “How did the Great Salt Lake come to be and what happened to Lake Bonneville? Explore the history of this iconic landmark and its amazing ecosystem that supports all kinds of life today.” (L:G; SA:SS, S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Need for Hope and Inspiration

In 11 Ways to Increase Hope and Inspiration @DavidGeurin Blog, David Geurin shares,

“So I wanted to share a few thoughts on ways to inspire others, some ways to offer hope. If it seems like you've experienced more despair and hopelessness recently, you're not alone. I think that's a common experience for educators right now.”

I read this article and thought it was great! There were great ideas and inspiration but I hope the author posts this again in the middle of the school year too.

It is easy at the beginning of the year to feel motivated and energized because you have had all summer to “rest” (even though I’ve never met a teacher who rested during the summer!). The beginning of the year is always exciting and new but by the middle of the year, things get slower and older. This is the time I think people need to be reminded of hope and inspiration.

So, if you find things that inspire you, bookmark them, file them, or print them out and put them in a file to be looked at in the future. Many people share things that can be very inspiring but right now you don’t have the time to really look at them and get what you need from them. Don’t forget about these things or throw them away. They may come in handy in the future.

When you are discouraged and feeling down, it is time to pull out that file or bookmarks and remind yourself that there is hope for success. These things will help pull you out of the doldrums just when you need them.

There is hope and inspiration out there!

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Vesuvius and Pompeii


On August 24, 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii, Stabiae, and Herculaneum. When it erupted, it ejected stones, ashes, and volcanic gases 21 miles high. It erupted molten rock and pumice also. More than thousands of people died but the actual number is unknown.

Vesuvius has erupted many times since then. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of how many people live in its danger zone.


Many years ago, My husband and I were able to visit Pompeii and it was a wonderful trip. We were on a cruise ship that stopped in Naples, Italy for the day. Before going on the cruise, we did our research and found that we could walk to the train station and take public transportation to Pompeii which was much cheaper than doing a ship’s tour. We had plenty of time to do and make it back to the ship on time. Since we weren’t part of a group, we didn’t have to waste time meeting and waiting for others.

When Mt. Vesuvius erupted, Pompeii was burning under 20 ft. of volcanic ash and pumice. This ancient city was preserved under this ash and shows what Roman life was like at that time. There were many public buildings and private houses with lavish decorations. Even wooden objects and humans were found in the ash. As they decayed over time, archaeologists made plaster casts of the void they left behind. Pompeii is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy. Many excavations were done before 1960 and left a lot of areas decaying. The government banned any other major excavations and targeted specific areas. New discoveries were found in 2018.

Photo by Christopher Ott on Unsplash

Tuesday, August 23, 2022


As the new school year approaches (and for some, it has already arrived), it is time to transition back into school routines. It is important that we realize it may take a couple of weeks before we emotionally and physically do this.

Students and teachers may not get enough rest because they didn’t have a sleep routine during the summer. Having a set bedtime routine and time to go to bed is a good habit to get into. Getting up at the same time each morning is also a good habit to develop. Not having enough rest can make people cranky, anxious, and even hard to get along with.

Setting up a morning routine so that if you are sleepy, you can go through the routine without too much effort. Get clothing set up the night before so you know where everything is and you don’t have to frantically look for what you need. Have work material ready to go so you aren’t looking for it in the morning and place it where you can find it. Set alarms to get up at a certain time and an alarm when you need to leave. This will keep you track of time.

Students and teachers might find themselves hungrier than usual because there were no eating routines during the summer. People ate whenever they want which is not possible during school. This would be a good time to drink plenty of water to help with this hunger.

Having a set time and place for homework is another routine to set up. In this area, have the necessary materials available so you don’t have to keep stopping to look for things. Having a set time helps to develop a routine and makes it easier to get work done in order to meet deadlines.

Set up some kind of organization system. Set up a calendar that shows deadlines and a plan of action. Or keep a journal with a plan that you regularly visit to keep on target. Have a place for papers that need to be completed and another place to keep finished work so it is easy to find.

What other routines help to make the start of the school year easier? Please share.

Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash

Monday, August 22, 2022

Doing More

In More than your share from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“Whether it’s splitting a check, getting a project done or making an impact on the culture or a cause, if you want things to get better, the only way is to be prepared to do more than your fair share. Because we need to make up for the folks who don’t.”

Too many times, I’ve heard, “It’s not my job.”

If we only do the minimum and what is expected of us, how can the world be a better place?

When I borrowed something as a youngster, my parents always taught me to return whatever I borrowed in better condition than when I borrowed it. If I borrow a dish, I return it with some goodies on it. If I borrow a cup of sugar, I return 2 cups. If I borrow a tool, I clean it before I return it.

When I did a chore, I was expected to do a little more than what was expected. If I had to vacuum the bedroom, I did all the bedrooms. If I dusted one room, I dusted more than one room. If I weeded the gardens for an hour, I worked two hours. I always did a little more.

As a teacher, I had deadlines so I would apply the same mindset. If something was due in 5 days, I turned it in within 3 days. Sometimes, I try to do it immediately so I don’t forget it.

I usually have my students pick up all the trash on the floor before they are dismissed. They usually fuss about it not being their trash so they shouldn’t have to pick it up. When no one picks up the trash, I don’t let anyone leave so eventually someone will pick up the trash, and then they can all leave. This usually only happens during the first week of school. After that, I notice students picking up trash that they see so that they don’t have to argue about it at the end of class. I also see students holding others accountable for the trash that they drop.

It is never hard to do just a little bit more.

If everyone does a little more than they have to, everyone would be more successful in life.

What do you do more of? What do you notice others do more of? Please share.

Photo by James Healy on Unsplash

Friday, August 19, 2022

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 08/19/22

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

Hide and Seek - “Hide and Seek in Google Street View! Create your own account and join a random match or start a private match with up to 20 friends.” (L:T; SA:A)

Timeline Game - “The Timeline game is a bit like a card sort activity. You’re asking kids to organize information into patterns that help them make sense of data. With a card sort activity, you typically use people, places, or vocabulary. A timeline activity will use events.” (L:T; SA:A)

Zoomtastic - “Games to Learn Geography” L:G; SA:SS)

Wonderscope - I only tried the one free story but it was worth doing. I think the other stories are $4.99; “Wonderscope is an iOS app for kids that uses Augmented Reality to transform ordinary spaces into extraordinary stories.” (L:E; SA:LA)

Things that suck and your social studies classroom - “encourages high levels of thinking, connects emotion with content, allows for physical movement, and forces kids to make choices.” (L:T; SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 18, 2022


I have mentioned before that scrapbooking is a great way to have students learn information. When they are looking for images and thinking about what they will write about it, they are looking for information that may lead to more exploration. Students can do this on scrapbook paper, poster board, or even do it digitally. It is a great visual aid for learning and can be done for any subject.

Here are some of the digital pages that I made last month:

Wednesday, August 17, 2022


I believe that we should give students choices. It helps them feel like they have some control over their lives. It doesn’t matter how old they are, but it helps their confidence level if they are able to have some control over their lives.

In my class, I like to give my students control over some assignments. We might do a group lesson so they learn about the topic and main ideas. Then I might have several assignments geared towards ability levels. Within the ability levels, I may give students a choice of two out of three different assignments. These assignments may be geared to different types of learning styles.

If students can do an assignment within their ability and that is their kind of learning style, they are more likely to complete the assignment. Not only will they complete the assignment, but they are more like to retain the information they learned, Students can feel proud of their finished work and find success in what they have done. This will lead to more confidence and more assignments that get completed. Like a snowball, the success they feel will help them improve their attitude and skills. Their ability levels may improve and so will the difficulty of their choices.

Of course, as the teacher, this takes a lot of pre-lesson planning. I like to do the front-end work so I can enjoy and observe the learning as it takes place. I can move around to individual students and help them according to their needs.

Eventually, I ask them for input on the choices that they would like to see. Sometimes I use their suggestions and sometimes I don’t but this lets them see that I value their opinions. Some of their suggestions may be something I hadn’t thought about doing and if they have an interest in it, it is worth giving it a shot.

One important thing I have to remember is that I can not give them too many choices. Too many choices can be overwhelming and cause them to not make a choice. They agonize over all the possibilities and waste too much time on the decision-making instead of the actual assignment. I try not to give more than three or four choices. This depends on the student and their ability levels. Lower ability levels seem to do well with just three choices. As they improve on ability, they can eventually increase to four choices. When I first start out, everyone only gets three choices.

I like to use a choice board. It can be created for individual students or for small groups. This is something tangible for them to look at and touch for those who are visual and tactile learners. I also read aloud the choices for the auditory learners.

Here are images of choice board examples.

How do you encourage decision-making? Do you use a choice board? Please share.

Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Being Outdoors

“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 Being Outdoors, Rushton features a “video by an organization called Dirt is Good, you’ll hear from several men about what it means to be in prison. They talk about how they think and what they value. In particular, they talk about being outdoors.”

He gives the following prompts to accompany this video:

“If you were in prison, do you think you’d feel the same way that these men do? Why or why not?

Do you know people who aren’t in prison, but they are prisoners to something that holds them back from things they want to do? Without sharing a name, can you describe someone like that?”

As a hiker, I couldn’t imagine not being outdoors. We love to hike and camp because we love nature. It puts all of my problems and worries into perspective. There is so much to learn from being outdoors and too many adults forget about this. I think finding ways to bring learning activities outdoors can really impact learning.

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

Monday, August 15, 2022

Great Smoky Mountains Postage Stamp

The ten-cent Smoky Mountains National Parks stamp (#749) was issued on October 8, 1934, in Washington DC.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation establishing The Great Smoky Mountains National Park on June 15, 1934. He spoke at the dedication of the park on September 2, 1940.

It all began in 1908 when President Theodore Roosevelt felt that natural resources needed to be managed by the federal government. Two people stood out who advocated for establishing an organization in charge of the national parks. They were Stephen Mather and Horace Albright who later became the first and second directors of the National Park Service.

These two men want to overcome those in the government who were against the National Park Service and to get public support for the National Park Service. They began to promote the benefits of having one organization in charge of national parks.

Mather and Albright gained the support of influential organizations such as railroad and automobile companies, the Sierra Club, and influential individuals such as Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. National magazines printed articles about the national parks and encouraged people to visit them. Mather got seventeen railroads to publish a book with pictures and articles about the parks and sent them to each member of Congress. In 1915, legislators from California and Utah sponsored the legislation that led to the National park Service Organic Act. Mather became the first director and started creating a system of national parks.

Mather promoted the parks using advertising and publicity to get support for the parks. One thing he did was to get the Post Office to issue stamps featuring the different parks. Franklin D. Roosevelt was an avid stamp collector who recognized Mather’s efforts. Harold Ickes, Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior was a big advocate of the national parks and announced that 1934 would be National park Year. Roosevelt, Ickes, and the postmaster general (James Farley) discussed creating a series of park stamps.

The NPS Director, Arno B. Cammerer asked George Grant, the chief photographer of the National Park Service to select photos from artists that could be used as designs and engraving for ten stamps.

It was decided that ten parks would be featured on stamps ranging from one cent to ten cents. They were Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, Mesa Verde, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Acadia, Zion, Glacier, and the Great Smoky Mountains. There were a lot of photos to be looked at and decided upon. It only took 6 months from the beginning discussion to the creation of the last stamp! Each stamp was one color and the color for each stamp was different and printing. The lettering was white. Six stamps were horizontal and four were vertical. All of the engravings were done by the Bureau of Engraving.

The ten-cent Great Smoky Mountains stamp was the first US stamp designed by a woman (Esther Richards). A special one-sheet of the ten-cent Great Smoky Mountains stamp went on sale in Asheville, NC in 1937.

Class Activities:
  • Research national parks. Pretend the rest of the class is Congress and you have to convince them to financially support your favorite park.
  • Create a brochure of your favorite park. Include facts and pictures.
  • What other parks should be featured on a stamp and why?
  • Design a stamp for another national park.
Original photo by Pat Hensley


Friday, August 12, 2022

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 08/12/22

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 on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego - version of the old geography game using Google Earth (L:G; SA:SS)

Quick, Draw - “Can a neural network learn to recognize doodling? Help teach it by adding your drawings to the world’s largest doodling data set, shared publicly to help with machine learning research.” (L:G; SA:A)

Pictures as Math Problem Prompts - “...find some images that contain simple mathematics problems for your students to solve.”

Inspirational Videos for Teachers - compiled by Terri Eichholz (L:T; SA:A)

Google Arts and Culture Games - A variety of fun games (L:G; SA:FA)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Beginning of the School Year

The beginning of school
Is the best time of year.
It is filled with excitement
And anxiety and fear.

The first week of school is usually filled
With meetings and boring paperwork galore,
And greeting friends and colleagues we missed
As they gladly walk in the door.

It’s fun to plan on arranging the classroom
And moving the desks and the tables.
It’s even fun to hook up the computers
With the gazillion miles of cables.

Deciding how to decorate the classroom
With a room full of color and lots of great posters,
I can’t wait for the room to be filled
With a whole bunch of jokesters.

It is time for getting the new textbooks
And choosing what I should teach.
What is just right for my students
And what is out of reach?

Together we learn about new school policies
And relearn all the old school rules.
We are ready for the new school year
Armed with all the tools.

Each teacher and student
will each play their part.
And hope this new school year
Will bring a fresh new start!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

One Thursday Afternoon - A Book Review

I recently read One Thursday Afternoon written and illustrated by Barbara DiLorenzo. I read a review copy compliments of Netgalley and I am not being paid to give this review.

It is a great book for young elementary school children! During these difficult times of school shootings and worries about school safety, this story highlights the feelings of a child who had a lockdown drill at school. I think many young children are feeling the same way but don’t know how to verbalize their feelings.

This could be used as a whole class lesson that opens up a class discussion about feelings and school safety. If there is a child who seems withdrawn or worried, this might be a good book to read one-on-one.

It also might be a good book for parents to read with their young children. By sharing this story, children can learn that sharing their feelings with an adult can help them feel better.

I would highly recommend this book to teachers and parents. If you read it, please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Faith and Hope

As many of you know, I like to think about how I can take the Sunday sermon and apply it to my life, both personally and professionally. This week, Pastor Kyle's sermon about faith and hope really struck home. He talked about faith, hope, and what-ifs. He reminded me that I don’t walk alone because God is with me all of the time.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a scaredy-cat. I want to do many things but tend to avoid them out of fear. My husband on the other hand is always a positive and brave man so he encourages me to do what I want to do even if I’m afraid to try it. Whenever I am very worried about doing something, we always play the what-if game. I mention all the what-ifs that I’m worried about, and he always has an idea of how to handle the situation if it ever happens. Once I have a plan, I don’t worry so much and I can actually move forward. I have faith that we can handle anything together.

I used to be afraid to travel because when I was growing up, we didn’t travel much. After marrying my husband, life was an adventure. We began traveling to places I had only dreamed about going. At the time I had a lot of worries about our what-ifs. I wrote them all down and we talked about them. Once I knew what we could do if we ran out of gas, had car trouble, my parents got sick, or we had some kind of emergency, I felt more comfortable traveling. We always have a Plan B.

Most of my students want to learn but are also afraid of learning.

When my students arrive in my classroom, I know they are filled with fear and what-ifs. It is the elephant in the room so it is important to address it early on. I play the what-if game that I experienced as a student.
  • What if no one likes me?
  • What if the teacher calls on me?
  • What if I don’t know the answer?
  • What if the others laugh at me?
  • What if others are smarter than me?
  • What if someone is mean to me?
Then I ask students if I missed any what-ifs and usually, they feel comfortable giving suggestions since we are talking about me and not them (even though I’m sure many of them know exactly how I felt.)

Then I ask them to have faith in me.

Once they are in my class, I consider our class our family, and I like them. They don’t have to worry about anyone liking them because I like them. Eventually, others will like them once they get to know them. A family doesn’t let others be mean to each other because we stick together.

I let them know that I am their safety net and they are not walking into the world of learning alone. I will be there beside them and help them. Whenever I ask a question, I will ask a question first and give people time to think about the answer before calling on someone. I won’t laugh at them for not knowing the answer.

Don’t worry about someone being smarter than they are because everyone has strengths and weaknesses, even me. There are things that I can’t do because I haven’t learned how to do them. That doesn’t mean that those who can do it are smarter than me.

I have this conversation often with them and I show them that I mean what I say by my actions. I show them that I care about them and that they can have faith in me and then have faith in themselves.

Once they start having success in my class, they feel that it is okay to hope. Many of my students have been beaten down by their failures and they are afraid to hope for any success. By hoping for success and continuing to fail, they don’t want to risk getting hurt. I have to show them that not succeeding at something is not a failure but an opportunity. It is an opportunity to try it a different way or to ask for help. Only when they give up is it a failure. I won’t give up on them and I want them to not give up. This involves faith and hope.

Of course, this doesn’t happen all at once. Having faith and hope is a continual process. I am constantly having to remind myself of this when I get discouraged or afraid.

I remind myself and my students that no one walks alone.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Monday, August 8, 2022

Camping Trip

We headed to the Smokies on 7/31/22 for a 5-day camping trip. We camped in Smokemont campground at site D39. Next time we may want to try site D42.

When we got there on Sunday, it was hot and humid. After setting up camp, we walked around the campground and then relaxed at our campsite. About 30 minutes after we went to bed, it started to rain pretty hard. We had to close the windows because the rain was blowing in.

On Monday, it rained on and off for most of the day, We walked around the campground in between showers. We found a Mexican restaurant (Rancho Villa) in the Food Lion shopping center that had lunch specials for $6.99. We had to check email and I had to do my Duolingo lesson so we had to go into town each day for a cell signal.

Tuesday was much better and we went to Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome. We hiked on the Spruce-Fir Nature trail and found pink turtleheads.

Wednesday we tried to hike on the Oconoluftee Nature but the elk had other plans. We waited for one group to get to one side of the trail so we could go past at a safe distance. Then we came across another group who would not let us pass. This mama elk and baby came straight down the trail towards us instead of going into the woods. Eventually, after we had to keep retreating, we decided to give up and go back the way we came. We ended up going to Mingus Mill and doing the trail there. We were excited to see the Cranefly Orchids blooming.

On Thursday morning, we took our time and packed up for our ride home. We had hoped to visit some antique stores but the one we wanted to visit had moved.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 08/5/22

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

3D This
- “The fun place for animations. From morphing to 3D models, a large choice of free online apps” (L:G; SA:A)

What happens when you have a concussion? - a TED-ed lesson; Each year in the United States, players of sports and recreational activities receive between 2.5 and 4 million concussions. How dangerous are all those concussions? The answer is complicated and lies in how the brain responds when something strikes it. Clifford Robbins explains the science behind concussions. (L:M,H; SA:S)

eBird Status and Trends - “Discover when a species migrates, where they go, and where and when are they most common with these mesmerizing abundance animations. These state-of-the art visualizations highlight annual changes in abundance patterns that improve our understanding of bird biology and migration ecology, and guide conservation actions” (L:G; SA:S)

Me - The User Manual
- “...consider this as an alternative to the usual ice-breakers we assign students to give them the opportunity to make their own user manuals after you share yours. This could really work for any grade level with adaptations. Kinder students could do a few of the sections with some rephrasing, (What is important to you?) and by answering with pictures. Older students could use a program like to create a User Manual/Infographic…” (L:G; SA:A)

Back to School Activities - compiled by Terri Eichholz (L:T; SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong was a famous jazz trumpet player. He was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and died on July 6, 1971. His nickname was Satchmo. In 1922, he went to Chicago to play in the Creole Jazz band. Eventually, he went to New York where he became a band soloist and recording artist. He returned to Chicago and formed his own bands.

He had a very distinct voice and you can recognize it when he sang. He was very good at scat singing.

He appeared in several films and I remember watching him in Hello, Dolly with Barbara Streisand.

Class Activities:
  • Who are other famous trumpet players? Tell a little about this person.
  • Listen to songs by Louis Armstrong. What did you like about them? What didn’t you like?
  • Watch a movie with Louis Armstrong in it.
  • If you could play any musical instrument, what would it be and why?

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

2022 Goals Review for July

July was another busy month. I taught my Furman practicum class so I did not get to go to the gym as often. I only could go on Fridays because I didn’t teach that day. I also did a lot of stress eating.

1. Lose 5 lbs. – I’m 1 lb. lighter than I was in January so I’m happy with my progress. I’m eating less and eating more protein.


2. Finish my national park blanket. - complete!


3. Year of the Gnome - knit at least one gnome a month. Completed 7 gnomes.


4. Knit a sweater. - Complete!


5. Yarn - more out than in (use more yardage than I buy)

-Yarn used - 7635 yds.

-Yarn bought - 5610 yds.


6. Design 3 new patterns. – Finished one sock design.  


7. Learn something new. -  Complete! I’m mosaic crocheting a blanket and dabbling with watercolor painting.


8. Read 12 nonfiction books - read 8 books so far.          

-A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson

-Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

-Captive: A Mother's Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult by Catherine Oxenberg        

-That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life by Garrison Keillor

- The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, Laura Sullivan

-The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

by Erik Larson

-Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose by Sadie Robertson

-Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult by Robert Lacey


How is your progress towards your goals? Please share.


Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding was the twenty-ninth President of the United States from 1921 to 1923. During his term, there were many scandals including the Teapot Dome.

Harding was born in Ohio in 1865. He was a publisher of a newspaper, the Marion Star, a trustee of a church, and a leader in many fraternal organizations and charities. He even organized the Citizen’s Cornet Band to play at political rallies. He served as a state senator, and Lieutenant Governor but lost the election for Governor.

Harding married Florence King, a divorcee on July 8, 1891. They had no children.

Harding won the Presidential election by getting 60 percent of the popular vote. He signed bills that eliminated wartime controls, slashed taxes, established a Federal budget system, and imposed tight immigration laws.

Behind the scenes, it was heard that many of the President’s friends were benefiting from their official positions. It kept him up at night and worried him tremendously.

On August 2, 1923, President Harding died of a heart attack in a San Francisco hotel. The next day Calvin Coolidge became President.

Class Activities:

  • What was Warren G. Harding’s platform when he was running for President?
  • What new technologies were created during his term?
  • Why was Harding considered the worse President the country ever had?
  • What was the Teapot Dome and how did it affect the country?

Monday, August 1, 2022

Beginning School Year Activity

Recently I was asked to share a back-to-school activity and thought you might enjoy it also. You can find other activities here: 

It is always hard for my students to start a new school year. Many of them are at a new school and don’t have any friends. They feel very isolated and anxious.

I like to start with an activity where I can learn a little about them without having them get up to introduce themselves first.

I give each student a blank sheet of paper and crayons or colored pencils. Then I ask them to fold it in fourths.

I ask them to write or draw their favorite food in the top left corner.

In the top right corner, I ask them to write or draw their favorite animal.

In the bottom left corner, I ask them to write or draw something about their family. (How many brothers/sisters/ pets etc.

In the bottom right corner, I ask them to write or draw something that they like to do.

I also complete this activity with them.

When everyone is done, I share my answer about my favorite food. Then I go around the room and ask each student to share their answer. I continue with each square this way. By the time it comes we get to the last square, many students seem to feel less anxious and more comfortable. I also think it is a good way for them to see that they may have things in common with the other students in the class.

What is a fun activity that you do on the first day of class? Please share.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash