Paris is my kind of city. The people, the food, the sights live in my memory. When I saw all the locks on the Ponts de Arts Bridge, I thought of all the lovers whose hopes and dreams were placed there, likely with good intent. In my mind I likened the locks to graffiti. While the locks were unique in their symbolism, years later I learned that the weight of the locks caused portions of the linked fencing to collapse. Perhaps simplicity is best.
Due to the pandemic, teachers and parents are scrambling to provide educational opportunities to children. I compiled a list of great learning apps. It is my hope that they help during this difficult time.
I compiled a list of great learning apps:
Learn With Homer
Grade level: Pre-K, K
Skill: Comprehension, Phonics
A learn-to-read app for kids ages 3 to 6 that incorporates drawing, voice recording, stories, songs, and more, along with more traditional phonics exercises.
This app can be helpful for kids who have speech production issues and organization of language issues.
Grade level: 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
The Opposites app helps children learn vocabulary and the corresponding antonyms by challenging them to match up pairs of opposing words in increasingly difficult levels. The game also helps children understand the importance of word context, and is an opportunity for them to think about how the words they use oppose other words. The Opposites consists of 10 different levels, each stage with a corresponding level of vocabulary. The app also offers a dictionary option that provides definitions and antonyms in a kid-friendly format.
I saw the ad for a used golf cart in my Nextdoor app. There were two available, a red and a blue. The owner was storing them in a horse corral. I was saving money for a golf cart (even though I don’t golf) because I live in a small beach town with one main street and gorgeous scenery. As a recent retiree, it seemed to be a good idea. I would be one of many golf cart owners in my little town.
I can’t believe I was able to convince my husband to drive out to a horse ranch to take a look. The owner was a gregarious lady who raises thoroughbreds and uses the golf carts to get around her property. I wanted the red one, but it was out of my budget. The blue one looked like it needed a lot of care, but it was affordable. The owner even delivered it. I couldn’t wait to try it out. It gets plenty of use on weekends and on nice summer days. We have a lot of those.
What joy it brings to take in the often overlooked sights on the way into town. Feeling the air on my face and smelling the salt air while going 22 miles per hour helps me appreciate that I am alive during a pandemic. I realize that a walk would very likely achieve the same results. Yet there was something about saving for a goal, visualizing me riding in it, and then actually finding one.
I know how important it is to slow down. My brain needed to disconnect from the bombardment of negative thoughts that don’t serve me. If a golf cart can remind me to get outdoors, it was worth my small savings. I call it The Bluebird of Happiness.
No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy the sunlight today, mix good cheer with friends today, enjoy it and bless God for it. Do not look back on happiness-or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it. ~Henry Ward Beecher
I had a conversation with my mother before she died. I asked her if she would let me know that she is alright when she passes. I joked and said, “Don’t smack me in the head, just three taps on my shoulder.” She assured me she would, but I still made her promise. I spent…
Ever since my grandchildren, Kaia and Maverick were born I have played with them every opportunity I get. It is always something I enjoy. At each stage of their development I have tried to make our time happy and fun. We have danced in their living room, read loads of books, sorted seashells and made…
The book, “Man’s Search For Meaning,” by Viktor Frankl has had a profound effect on me. He knew suffering, having endured the horrors of a concentration camp and subjected to hard labor that included starvation and routine beatings. Anything I have suffered through pales in comparison. He felt that no matter what happens in life…
Close reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text’s form, craft, meanings, etc. It is a key requirement of the Common Core State Standards and directs the reader’s attention to the text itself. The skills gained from close reading help students locate information more easily and develop comprehension.
Strategies for Close Reading:
•Use Think Alouds
•Model it often. For example,
I might say, “I see a word I don’t know. I’m going to circle it or write it in my personal dictionary and find out what it means.”
•Make connectionsas you read. “I think the Empire State Building must be as tall as a roller coaster I saw once.”
•Ask questions: “What evidence or proof do we have that bats are nocturnal?”
1.Sequence: Which event happened first? Which happened last?
2.Character Traits: Name one character. What is one trait you infer that character has? Explain why you think that.
3.Motive: What is something that person does? Why do you think that person does that?
4.Summarize: Summarize the story in four sentences. Tell about the characters and what they do.
5.Main Idea: What do you think is the main idea of the story? Why?
The pandemic has made me a shut- in and I hate it. I am a traveler forced to travel only in my mind. Lately I have been dreaming of Costa Rica. I’ve only been there once, but it left such an impression that I find myself daydreaming of being there. I went with 22 avid surfers as part of a travel package. I was a wife tagalong (not an avid or even mediocre surfer), but happy to join the group. I did attempt to surf, but my board flew up and hit me on the nose so hard I thought it was broken (my nose, not my board). I spent the rest of the day laying in a hammock looking up at a sloth in a tree. No complaints at all. A trip to Manual Antonio Nature Reserve taught me about the native plants used to cure a variety of ailments. Our guide warned us of the Howler Monkeys who enjoy warning tourists to keep out of their territory by flinging excrement. Luckily they must have sensed our respect for their space, or they relieved themselves on the previous group. It was almost sunset and I decided to take a raft into a lagoon. The colors of the water were surreal, dark emerald and teal. The sky was on fire. I wanted to stop time. I was certain that this was what heaven looks like. On the way back to our hotel our guide told us about the crocodiles who use this part of the ocean to return to the estuary. I was grateful that I didn’t know that when my nose was gushing blood from my surfboard mishap. Costa Rica is teeming with life, what the natives call “pura vida.” The sunset lagoon is etched in my memory. I revisit it when I need to get away to a place of peace, even if it’s in my mind.
I have to confess that I am a little bit jealous of our dog, Max. He visits the salon more than I ever have. He is a rescued Great Pyrenees who stole my husband’s heart with his sad eyes and beautiful white fur as he sat in a too-small cage at the animal shelter. Max ate our spa cover, the legs on my rocking chair and a hearty piece of our coffee table. He even got a few pieces of my Ugg boots. My husband made sure he attended training (for him , not so much for Max). They are the best of friends. They go for walks in the early morning and again at sunset. Our den is now Max’s room. Who gives an entire bedroom to a dog?! Have you ever smelled a Great Pyrenees who has been in the rain? I truly believe it only took one time of being near Max after a rain for him to have his own room. If I buy a white fur coat and look at my husband with sad eyes, I wonder if I can get a SheShed?
From my years as a teacher I encountered many students who would shut down when it came to writing. Some would say that they could not think of anything to write. Others had trouble knowing how to begin. I came up with a few ways to inspire my young writers and hope you find them…
I have been an online instructor for a university for eight years. Each term I change my course based on what I feel would enhance the learning for my students. I learn so much from them. I love sharing my experiences and insights. This last term I decided to try a new course. I sent…
•The Common Core State Standards in 3rd grade fictional literature calls for students to identify and describe characters’ actions, thoughts, and motivations, which is no small task for an 8-year-old who is just beginning to read longer text. Character traits can be positive or negative. Begin with positive traits. Give examples. A great way to do this is…