A Change of Plans

From This….
To This

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an airline stewardess (that’s what they were called back then). I had dreams of seeing the world, living in fancy hotels, and wearing a cute uniform. Sometimes things are not as glamourous as the seem. As an adult I learned that getting an education would be a better choice and lead to a career, not just a job. I started my educational journey slowly by taking a few classes at the community college. I was intimidated and fearful that I would not be able to overcome my long held hatred of math. A wonderful teacher with patience and a gentle way of infusing laughter into his lessons helped me pass many tests (Thank you, Mr. Longshore). He undid the damage done by my 7th grade teacher who told me, ” You know Blondie, don’t ever go into anything that has to do with math or thinking.” A speech teacher helped me overcome anxiety about speaking up. She encouraged me to get up in front of the class and do a role reversal with my son (Thank you, Margie Milroy). 
From that community college experience I went on to CSUSB and took classes in Liberal Studies in preparation for a teaching credential. I learned how quickly a quarter can fly by. I worked hard to get through classes, and received my Bachelor’s degree. Thank goodness for Chapman University opening a satellite campus close to my home so I didn’t have to drive Cajon Pass anymore. I remember carpooling with a friend when her brakes went out and we had to take the runaway truck ramp. With pain, sweat, tears, and a fear of downhill driving, I earned a teaching credential. The greatest achievement in this whole journey was earning a Masters degree from Cal Poly and another credential in Special Education. I would have pursued a doctorate but after paying off student loans, I decided that I would rather spend money on my beautiful grandchildren and traveling. It is never too late to change course and go after a dream.



Teach Your Children Well






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“I Wish You Happiness”

Try this. I just might change things…..

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I once read that Richard Gere, that handsome actor from An Officer and a Gentleman, said that when he encounters someone who is angry or hurtful toward him, he directs this unspoken thought to them, “I wish you happiness.” I recall thinking, ” How can he be so gracious in the face of such bitterness?” I decided to give his peaceful method a try.

There was the woman in Costco that shoved her way past me. Mind you, we are in a pandemic and she might just be afraid of covid. I wished her happiness in my mind. It didn’t prompt her to turn around and apologize, but I did feel a bit better that I’d chosen to react kindly (and silently). I tried it again when a man cut me off on the freeway. He was driving a huge truck with too many tires and I was driving toward the exit ramp with my turn signal on. He sped up and gave me a finger wave and a mean glare as he sped past me. I am grateful for my reflexes because he almost hit my car. Yes, I wished him happiness rather than yelling at a man who couldn’t hear me and didn’t care. I must admit, I felt calmer.

Would this practice be effective with my husband who on occasion gets on my nerves? We know each other’s triggers after almost 25 years of marriage. I figured it can’t hurt to try. He leaves 10-12 pairs of tennis shoes in our front entryway. I moved them to the garage on a brand new shoe stand right by the door. He moved them back. Although I wanted to yell, “I worked hard to clean up that area,” I told him that I like the area to be clear of clutter. Then I silently wished him happiness. It didn’t take care of the excess shoe issue, but I felt that displaying his large stash of shoes is obviously important to him. They remain where he put them. Who knows why, but I let it go, hoping he would be happy.

What I took away from this new mental exercise in kindness is that it only harms me when I unleash anger or react without taking a pause to assess how my next move may effect my health. My amygdala, the part the brain that warns us to fight or flee, would secrete cortisol. Too much cortisol leads to serious health issues. On the other hand, if I wish someone happiness, it oddly brings me a moment of happiness, however brief. I’ll take it.




Inspiring Young Writers

Ways to Encourage Reluctant Young Writers

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 helpful.


•Have a Writing Center (a designated space for students to bring a clipboard or a notebook and come to write.)

Review the rules for use of the Writing Center. I used these:

•  1.  Writing takes place here. 

•  2.  Work quietly to allow others to do the same.

•  3.  Leave your area clean.  

•Remember to:

•Stock the area with paper, cards, envelopes, pens, pencils, markers

•Have posters, anchor charts and/or a word wall for students to use as reference.

•Allow it to be a ”smart choice” when students finish early.  


Fun stationary invites students to be creative.


Use Story Stones- This could integrate art and writing!

•You could start with river rocks.

•Paint a simple picture.

•Put the in a bag or tub with a lid.

•Student pulls out a stone and makes a story.

Sometime allowing students to draw first gets them motivated to write. Often teachers allow students to draw AFTER they write.  Try reversing that order.  A visual helps them generate ideas.


Speaking of using visuals, try something creative, and give students a story starter: I woke up and looked in the mirror. I was a cat!


Use more creativity and get students to use a thesaurus! Have them re-write words to songs, logos, signs, etc.:

Pledge of Allegiance = Promise of loyalty

•Stop Sign = CEASE!

•Lost and Found = Absent and Established

•Bird cage = fowl pen

•Happy New Year = Merry recent term

•Animal shelter = Creature haven

•Good Night =Beneficial Evening


Most of all, students need good modeling, practice and opportunities to write about subject matter they can relate to. Have fun-it transfers to the students.

The following are Archived Posts.


My granddaughter using her journal

Differentiated Instruction

Research shows differentiated instruction is effective for high-ability students as well as students with mild to severe disabilities.

• When students are given more options on how they can learn material, they take on more responsibility for their own learning.

• Students appear to be more engaged in learning, and there are reportedly fewer discipline problems in classrooms where teachers provide differentiated lessons.

• Differentiated instruction requires more work during lesson planning, and many teachers struggle to find the extra time in their schedule.

• The learning curve can be steep and some schools lack professional development resources.

• Critics argue there isn’t enough research to support the benefits of differentiated instruction outweighing the added prep time.

There are 4 ways to differentiate instruction:

• Content- what are you teaching?

• Process- How will you teach it?

• Product- What will be the outcome?

• Learning Environment- whole group? Small group?


• Use Bloom’s Taxonomy (think lower-level to higher-order thinking).

• In Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create. Use robust verbs in your lesson plans. What will the students do?


•A flexible classroom allows for independent, paired, and group work.

•“Wiggle chairs”, floor space, and a quiet area are essential.  

Wiggle chair
Study carrel

•Examples:

•Break some students into reading groups to discuss the assignment.

•Allow students to read individually if preferred.

•Create quiet spaces where there are no distractions.


Refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy when planning a lesson.

My Advice to Parents


I did not do my best with my own children in regards to parenting. It has been through years of higher education and many years as a teacher that has shown me the results of both good and bad parenting. I am committed to being a good grandmother. Although I cannot change the past, I have hope for the future, Children look to their parents for guidance and boundaries. They are their own person, not here to entertain or stroke our egos. They need love that is unconditional and faith that is unshakeable. If the parents don’t have faith in something greater than themselves, their children are left to follow whatever comes along, not having a foundation that begins at home. Without a good compass they are prey to all measure of influences. Children need boundaries that are established with consistency. Toddlers are not meant to negotiate. Teach them that ‘no’ means ‘no.’ Children need their parents to steer them in the right direction and that means towards what is age appropriate, and that which will help them live a healthy, happy life. I have learned that discipline teaches and punishment hurts. To sum it up, my advice is: Give your children Love, Faith, Discipline, Consistency, and Boundaries.



My Love of Books

Once I learned to read at the age of five there was no stopping me. I read the back of cereal boxes and the ingredients in every can in the kitchen. I loved rhyming books the most. It was a special treat when my stepfather came home from the grocery store with Archie and Veronica comic books. The Sunday comics were something I waited for all week. Once I discovered Nancy Drew I wanted to be a detective. She was smart, confident and curious.

In school I usually had the task of helping the struggling readers. I often wondered why the teacher didn’t work more closely to bring along students who couldn’t read as well. I didn’t mind, as I was usually bored with the stories in the designated reader.

The teachers I remember the most are those who presented a book in a way that grabbed my attention. When I read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, I was wanting to know more. I didn’t want the book to end. One teacher introduced me to Shakespeare and I was hooked. She would ask open-ended questions and put us in groups to discuss and act out pivotal scenes. Another teacher introduced me to classics, Moby Dick, The Grapes of Wrath, Beloved, The Alchemist, My Antonia, The Call of the Wild, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Pearl, and so many more.

I have always escaped into books. It has been a way to learn of other ways of living, exploring different perspectives, trying out new vocabulary. Books are my friend, a constant I can count on for entertainment as well as enlightenment. On top of my dresser is a basket filled with “To Be Read” books. My guess is that it will always be full.




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What Students Need

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As a University Supervisor I have the task of observing and shaping future teachers. It’s a job I love. I try to pass on advice I’ve gained over the years. My work with both mainstream and students with special needs has shown me that for many students school is the best part of their day. They look to their teacher for validation that they are valued for their unique contribution to the class. It’s imperative that their teacher models enthusiasm, interest and compassion. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do when we have problems at home ourselves. I always tell my future teachers to bring their best self through the door of the classroom. If they have issues they cannot put aside, take a day off. Students need their teacher to be completely present, completely invested in moving students forward, and most importantly, happy about doing so.

So what can a teacher do to bring their best self to class? Get enough sleep. It seems simple enough, but looking at a screen before bed can hinder a good night’s sleep. Another useful tip is to exercise just before bed. Light stretching and deep breathing gets your body into a relaxed state. Reading a book before bed is another way to get your eyes tired enough that they close. Many times I have to reread passages not realizing that I was dozing off. Last but not least, say a prayer for everyone you know, especially the students who are in your classroom.



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A Wise Man

My great-grandfather was a very wise man.  He was my step great-grandfather, but I didn’t know it until I was an adult, nor did it ever matter.  My great grandmother was a widow raising three children when she met him in Los Angeles.  He worked as a secretary in a large steel company until his retirement, when he went to work for General Electric as a security guard.  

He bought a modest two- bedroom house in South Central Los Angeles.  That house was a gathering place, and often my home when I was growing up.  I called him Nino, but his name was Joseph.  He had a huge backyard where he grew fruit trees and vegetables. He always said that you should grow things you can eat.  He always made sure there was plenty to eat. For lunch he would holler in Spanish, “Ninos, venga!”  Lunch was an array of fruit from the yard and tortillas that my great grandmother made. 

Nino came from Cuba and was diligent about reading.  He told me that Reader’s Digest helped him learn English.  School and church were important to him.  He told me that reading books is the key to life.  When there was a Father-Daughter fashion show at my school I asked him to take me.  He also took me to Dodger games and explained the game to me.  He said that a fan is always faithful.  

When I got married, I asked him to walk me down the aisle.  He was the one constant in my life. Nino would tell me little bits of advice, like, “Brush your hair 100 strokes every day to have it grow long and shiny.”  I think that’s why I still have long hair.  

I never heard him raise his voice.  When he was displeased, he’d shake his head and walk away. 

When I got diagnosed with a very serious illness he gave me a piece of paper with the words, “Take up thy bed and walk.”  I think of his words when it gets hard to get out of bed.  

I named my son after Nino in hopes that my son would be as kind and loving as my Nino.  He is.  


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When Life Gives You Scraps…..

My sewing room is my happy place. It serves as my craft room as well as my office. It’s cooler downstairs, so on hot summer days I often go to my sewing/craft/office to relax. I am an avid follower of crafty blogs that repurpose fabric and findings to make interesting objects of beauty.

My most recent venture into craftiness is fabric-wrapped rope baskets and rugs. I decided to try my hand at it and if you don’t look too closely at the stitching, it came out pretty nice. There is something oddly meditative in wrapping fabric around rope and creating a unique design (even if you have no idea what to do with it). I started with a small bowl that I almost threw away, but thought I’d keep it to remind me that beginnings are often messy and imperfect. With practice, patience and time on my hands I have learned quite a bit. The kind ladies in my online group are truly inspirational. No negative comments to take the wind out of my sails, just encouragement. They are my kind of people.

Who couldn’t use a bit of quiet time while creating something unique? My scrap bins are thinning out and I am currently finishing up placemats for my daughter.



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Children’s Books That Are Inclusive

Children love books they can relate to. They need to see themselves represented in the pages. Books that present differences help students feel less alone, more connected. I have been carefully scrutinizing children’s books that lift children out of a sense of isolation. The following are books I highly recommend. I am not selling or being reimbursed in any way for my endorsements. Check them out to help students learn about the importance of inclusion.

“When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.” Rudine Sims Bishop

Grow Grit Press  (Author), Jelena Stupar  (Illustrator)



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Moments

True. Make your moments good ones.

I have had lots of time to reflect. The urge to get away to faraway lands is stronger than ever. I remember being asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always answered, “an airline stewardess.” I wanted to see the world. My life took another direction and I became a teacher. The traveling I have done has largely been a result of my daughter living in the UK. My son-in-law has arranged trips to France, Italy, Spain and Netherlands. The memories of those places are sealed in my heart.

When I got to see the opera Carmen in Verona, I was awestruck by the sheer majesty of the arena. We were huddled together in the rain as the performers sought shelter, then came out just as the rain stopped. It was a memory I will treasure forever.

Venice was magical and also a bit sad. The ocean is rising and many of the first floor buildings are under water now. Our gondola host shared his experiences having to duck to get under the overhangs. He pointed out apartments that are now submerged.

A trip to France to see the shrine at Lourdes was at the top of my bucket list. I waited with other believers to get into the baths. The water from the natural spring is said to heal. The real healing for me was within, not visible. I noticed that there were people with far greater needs than myself. As dramatic as it sounds, when I got out of the bath, I was immediately dry. I will always be grateful for the emotional transformation that took place in that holy place.

In Spain I walked around Barcelona admiring the Gaudi House, and the beauty of the city. The best way to learn about an area is to walk around and talk to people. We decided to go into a grocery store, buy food for lunch and sit out by a dock to enjoy a meal together.

I visited North Wales recently to see my family. It remains one of my favorite places. I have seen Snowdonia and now want to return to see how many more waterfalls I can find.

I am making a list of places I want to see. Life is just too short, but I plan to make sure I find a way to see some of them.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA




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New Vocabulary Words for Children

Did you know:

•Students must learn 3,000 words per year by 3rd grade. 

•Only 400 words a year are directly taught by teachers. 

•Students do not learn vocabulary words based on their age or their grade. 

•They learn words based on their experiences , (Beck, et al, 2002) 

•Academic demands are high

•Everyday speech consists of only 5,000- 7,000 words. 


Parents and teachers have a role to play in expanding a child’s vocabulary. The more children read and hear books read aloud, as well as listen and engage in conversations, the more they are exposed to new words. When a child asks, “What does that mean?” they should be told an accurate and appropriate definition based on their age and cognitive ability to make meaning of the word.

Children learn new words through experiences, therefore science experiments, videos, art, movement,  fieldtrips, guest speaker are important. Engaging in conversations allows a child to hear and practice new words. Visuals are particularly valuable to expand vocabulary, as most children are visual learners. Using multi-sensory activities helps place new learning into longterm memory. It’s important for new words to be presented in kid-friendly terms.

Here are examples of Common Core State Standards for vocabulary acquisition for Grade 2 (this is only a sampling, check out the full list online :

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4.A
Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4.B
Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known prefix is added to a known word (e.g., happy/unhappy, tell/retell).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4.C
Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., addition, additional).


This is a great way to show “shades of meaning.” Teach synonyms in a visual manner. Paint strips can be found at Walmart and hardware stores.

Great Resource


Remember that children acquire vocabulary primarily from experiences. MAKE IT FUN.

In order to teach vocabulary, you must be aware of the three different types or tiers. Tier 1 vocabulary can be classified as everyday vocabulary that we use in life around us. This type of vocabulary is often learned orally at a young age, reading, and daily experiences. 


Tier 2 vocabulary is high utility words found in cross curricular texts. 

• They are academic words that are general enough to be used across all domains, yet are not part of students’ everyday social language. 

Example:  students know “happy,” but may not know, “contented.” 

Tier 2 words need to be taught because they are not used daily and it increases a student’s vocabulary to know synonyms. 


Tier 3 vocabulary is domain or content specific. For example, if teaching about circles, the word circumference or radius would need to be taught. Or if you are doing an ancient civilizations unit on Egypt, the word hieroglyphics would need to be explained. Students’ academic success comes when specific instruction of both Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary is taught.


Have students create their own Vocabulary Journal.


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Shout Out


I thought this needed to be said loud and clear. If you can put one foot in front of the other, and smile while doing it, you are a champion in my opinion. These last two-plus years have been horrendous. It is not only the pandemic, but the atrocities occurring daily in Ukraine. There have been heavy blows to the economy, unemployment, suicides, the list goes on. At times it seems like there is no hope. I try hard to seek out the light, whatever glimmer of good there is in the world.

There are still good people in this world. It is those people I celebrate. The people who generously open their home to refugees, the school teachers who scramble to put their lessons online so their students get instruction, the nurses and health care providers who work covid units and still manage to smile and provide care to those in need, the grocery workers who stock the shelves, as well as the people who deliver food to those who can’t get to the store. There are so many good people who have empathy for others less fortunate. I hope they are all blessed immeasurably for their goodness. A shout out to you all.





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Childrens books for science lovers

These are great books for budding scientists.

Children are fascinated by animals and nature. Nurture and celebrate their curiosity through books that give them information and new vocabulary. The following are great for inquisitive minds.



One of the most interesting books I have seen to inspire budding scientists.


Another outstanding book to pique the interest of students in elementary classrooms.


The best visual encyclopedia for curious minds.


For the Little Ones, this is perfect.


This one is great for backyard fun.


Absolutely fabulous pictures and facts about the planets.


This one is edited by that wacky “scientist” from Back to the Future. Very well written and FUN


Important facts presented in a fun and easy to comprehend manner.



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Children’s Books for Visualization

The ability to visualize helps comprehension.

When a child is able to form an image in their mind, it helps them understand what they are reading. It provides a context based on the child’s prior knowledge. Teachers can lead students to visualize by reading aloud and having students either draw what they “see,” write about it, or discuss with a partner.

Here are some books to assist with Visualization:



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Anybody Home?

A child’s imagination is unlimited and should be encouraged and celebrated. Reading to children and asking questions like, “I wonder what will happen next,” allows them to construct their own scenarios. Children learn through repetition and exposure to a variety of experiences. 

Books that become familiar are like the foundation of a house. Once a child finds a book that sparks their imagination, they see wonderful possibilities that didn’t exist before.  A trip to the library can open a world of possibilities to a growing mind. Reading aloud is especially important in that it helps children equate reading with caring and enjoyment.  

Fairy Tales offer an opportunity to go outside reality and explore a creative world where animals talk, a lesson is bestowed and magical things happen.  My granddaughter in the photo above is looking for fairies or leprechauns. That beautiful gift of imagination grows through books.  Here are some books that are fantasy and fairy tales. Check with your local library to see if they are available.  

Elliot is in third grade and he has magical powers.
Sisters on a magical adventure
Celia’s grandmother tell her stories about fairies and Celia tries to save the woods from demolition.
It is exhausting being a unicorn. Read this just before bed.

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Random Thoughts

The day I became a grandmother I began evaluating my life, or I should say reevaluating it. I realized that this beautiful child is not mine and I am a part of a much bigger picture, yet only a part. What part do I play? As a retired elementary teacher I know the joy of teaching young children. I have learned things I never knew about when raising my own three. Will I have any credibility when I suggest ideas for my grandchild to learn to read or learn to navigate technology when I left it up to teachers to provide literacy instruction for my own children? Is it my place to offer any suggestions? I know best practices and I have learned to lean on researched methods with proven results, yet this little one is not mine and I have to realize that I am an eager grandmother, one with hopes and dreams, but this child is the child of my child. “Take a deep breath and slow down,” I tell myself, “Enjoy the moment, and let the parents have their shot at raising their own child.” I am going to listen to that not so quiet voice. I will read aloud when I get opportunities and rejoice in my child’s journey with his child. Now if I am asked for advice, well, that’s another story.

The Hike

My son called to ask if we could celebrate my husband’s birthday by hiking near the coast. He has two small children; a two year old daughter and a 3 1/2 month old son. The hike is 4 miles total, and seemed at first to be a bad idea. We met at our favorite cafe for breakfast and then drove to the headlands to begin our hike. I marveled at how much gear my son had for the children. My daughter-in-law wrapped the 3 month old around her stomach as my son put the largest kid seat I’d ever seen on his back. This contraption even had stirrups and a cup holder. My granddaughter had other ideas. She insisted on walking. Her parents went ahead as my husband, the birthday boy, and I walked with Kaia. She walked along dodging dog poop and refused to hold my hand. Other hikers smiled as they passed my independent granddaughter so determined to make the hike on her own. All I wanted was to hold her hand until I realized that this tiny human is giving us all a glimpse of the future. She will make her own way someday. She walked a mile before getting tired and reluctantly got into her 21st century backpack seat to let her daddy carry her. It was so much more than a beautiful long hike.

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Exercise

The numbers on my bathroom scale made me dizzy. How can it be that
I weigh that much? When and where did I lose control of my weight? How can I get back to my old self? How soon? Being at home during a pandemic is a recipe for weight gain.

One of the side effects of the medication I take is weight gain, but geez, this much? Being the clothes horse that I am this is unacceptable.

I decided to enlist the help of a trainer at a local fitness center. My trainer came highly recommended and her smile put me at ease immediately. She asked the standard questions and I shared about my personal illness and my goals to gain strength and lose weight. We went to work setting up a routine. My end of the deal is work out on my own 2-3 days a week and meet with her on Friday afternoons. She showed me how to set up and properly use the machines.

I was self-conscious at first, but kept telling myself that there isn’t a soul in the gym that cares if I am a newbie. They are there for their own health and well being. There were lots of smiles and people around me were more focused on their own goals.

I am either committed or not. My trainer could sense that I have a lazy streak, so she told me to think of it as my job to show up for work. Tomorrow I will travel 4 hours to Stanford Hospital for a medical procedure and allow myself a day or two to rest, then I plan to show up and get to work.

Update1 : The pandemic has put a halt to any gym activity. I purchased an eliptical and some stretch bands. I live at the beach where taking a walk is not a chore. I also bought a membership to Body Groove and dance myself silly in the living room. I am going to stick with my commitment.

Update 2: Down 6 pounds in one week. Woohoo!

Update 3: I joined an online group that gathers on Zoom to discuss healthy lifestyle choices. They are a great group of local women and I am happy to be on the same journey.

Update 4: Down 10 pounds. Woohoo!!

Update 5: I make my own granola and morning muffins– healthy and delicious

Update 6: Going back to my gym! Yahoo! What a nightmare these last two plus years have been. Like Maya Angelou said, “Still I rise.”

Update 7: I spent 8 days in the hospital with Covid and pneumonia. It was a nightmare. I was fully vaccinated, but still got it (pre-existing condition). The nurse said the vaccinations saved my life. Anyway, after a long period of recuperation, I am back to the gym to regain strength from reconditioning. I am a determined, strong lady who wants to enjoy life. Here I go……wish me luck.

Below are some archives.



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Saying Goodbye to Future Teachers

End of SpringTerm

I have been an online instructor for a university for almost seven 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 out an email to my course developer who put me in touch with a colleague who set me up with a course I have long wanted to teach, Children’s Literature. Whenever I try something new I get a bit anxious, and once I get into it (believe me, I research), I feel like Wonder Woman. On top of it all, I was given autonomy to make any changes I feel are necessary. Being brand new, I hardly changed a thing. To have that level of trust and responsibility given to me is life affirming. I went well above and beyond and made more work for myself than necessary. But oh, what a good class!

I now need to say goodbye to my students as they have completed the term. I received feedback from them stating how much they learned from the course. I wish the course was longer. We could have covered so much more in depth. Goodbyes are hard, but I know the students will make a difference in the lives of their own students. That’s the best outcome ever.




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The Power of Books

Begin your collection of children’s books. Make sure you check out your local library book sales, thrift stores, yard sales, online sources.

So good she just couldn’t put it down….

Last night I fell asleep reading a thriller (my new favorite genre). Mind you, it was 1 a.m. and I was hopeful I would finish the last third of the book. There is something hypnotic about eyes moving across a page, even if it is a thriller. When a parent reads to a child the child learns to equate books with pleasure and comfort. Changing your voice to match the personality of a character captivates a child. They learn to imitate the reader. So much of what children learn is through imitation. Parents who read books leave an imprint that promotes a love of reading.

It is important that children select their own books to allow them to explore their interests. Books are the passageways to other cultures, places, experiences. The books they choose must be at their reading level. It’s good to use the “Five Finger Rule.” If a child makes 5 mistakes when reading a page, that book is too difficult. Direct the child to a book that is appropriate for their reading level yet honors their choice. If they insist on a book that is too hard, offer to read it to them. It’s always best when they find a book they can read themself.

These days children are doing much of their reading on devices (iPads, phones, laptops). You may think, “at least they’re reading,” but a Harvard study showed that,

“...the use of digital devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, interferes with the circadian clock, the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning. Use of light-emitting devices at bedtime also makes one more alert, so it’s hard to fall asleep.” (https://www.thetechedvocate.org/4-reasons-printed-textbooks-are-better-than-digital/)

Put your Ipad or phone in another room before bedtime. Resist the urge to allow children to use a device prior to bedtime.

Make sure a child has access to books. Local libraries, thrift stores, Little Libraries, garage sales, online read aloud websites, and book swaps are ways to accumulate your personal library. Check out these:

Storyline Online: https://storylineonline.net

https://manybooks.net

https://openlibrary.org

https://www.gutenberg.org


Start early. Read aloud! Children will imitate you!
Introduce children to books and have a variety of rhyming books.



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Stop and Be Still

My grandson on a morning walk with his dad . This was taken half a mile from his home.

I learn so much from my grandchildren. They teach me how to enjoy the moment. They teach me to be still and absorb sights and sounds that I have taken for granted. I have learned to see nature through their eyes. It fills me with optimism and hope that the new generation will not take for granted the splendor that is all around them. My grandson is fortunate to live close to a nature preserve that he and his dad walk to often. On this particular day he was very still and watched as a deer crossed his path. He noticed everything about the deer, but knew to be very quiet and very still. He just stood there and looked on with awe at this beautiful animal. Such restraint from a two year old! I would have scrambled for my phone if I had been there. Obviously my son did just that. Not my grandson. That moment is in his memory bank.

Children learn through experiences. New information is stored in longterm memory when it is connected to multi-sensory experiences. These walks to nature are such good learning opportunities.
Perhaps next time I will join them and leave my phone in the car.


Get outside. Stop and be still. You never know what you might see.


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Oxygen

I spent eight days in the hospital with covid and pneumonia. Despite being fully vaccinated, my age and being vulnerable with a pre-existing condition contributed to covid finding me. I found myself unable to breathe and completely exhausted. A trip to the emergency room resulted in my admission to an isolation room for covid patients. I was joined by two women, one who moaned, “Help me, help me” continuously. The woman next to her tried to soothe her without success. Nurses came and went, but once they left, she would call out the names of what I assumed were family members. She was transferred to “another level of care.” That left me and the woman across from me who got to go home. You don’t know loneliness until you are by yourself in an isolation room. The staff that entered looked like beekeepers or those sci-fi people who are examining an extraterrestrial creature.

I was told that I needed to be flat on my stomach at least three times a day to help my lungs. I did as I was told. When the nurse left, I fell asleep. My arms were pinned down and the canula that supplied oxygen had somehow moved while I slept. I was breathless and began to panic. I reached for the nurse call button that I was told would be right near my hand, but I could not reach it. I struggled to breathe as my fear grew. I tried to locate the call button, unable to turn over or pull my arms up. I was the most helpless I have ever been and cried out just like the woman who moaned so much. Frantically I felt around near my hands and found the call button at last. I pushed and pushed to no avail. I cried and asked God to please let me live. I kept pushing areas of the nurse call button and realized as I fumbled with it that it was upside down. I flipped it over and pushed the whole thing until I heard a nurse respond. I cried out, “I can’t breathe. Help me.” The nurse arrived and helped turn me over. She put the canula in and the life-sustaining oxygen flowed. I cried, this time tears of gratitude.

I am grateful to the nurses who cared for me. One nurse noticed that my hair was a tangled mess that looked like birds were nesting in various spots. She brought a can of shaving cream and told me that after many years she discovered that it helps remove tangles. She sat and brushed the knots out of my hair. She then braided my long hair. The last person who did that was my great-grandmother.

Another nurse brought me chocolate ice cream and I don’t think ice cream ever tasted that good. A stocky nurse on night shift helped get me upright on a chair so he could change my sheets. These nurses are heroes. They are angels.

When my oxygen level was stable I was allowed to go home with portable oxygen. My bed never felt so good. After about two weeks I was able to walk to the kitchen. Another week and I could sit on my little deck for a few minutes without getting tired and out of breath. My heart filled with gratitude for the fact that there was enough oxygen in my lungs to sit on my deck. I have a new found love for oxygen, for life.





Children’s Books That are Awesome

I have been looking for children’s books that have a good message during these difficult times. I think
I’ve found some winners.


All about feelings and emotions


This delightful story of persistence and self-acceptance highlights the value of practice, friendship, and a good attitude.


30 great breathing exercise to bring about calm and mindfulness.


The book is about empathy, compassion and gratitude.


It offers creative strategies for children to set goals and have a positive outlook.


Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway



Student Engagement

Student engagement is a vital component in any classroom. Over the past year, remote learning has become a reality for most students around the world. As many students return to in-person learning, or any number of hybrid learning environments, here are some ideas to keep engagement rates high and help maintain student learning in any environment.  

Virtual, In Person, & Hybrid Learning Environments

  • Organizing Content
  • Nearpod: Software to create lessons with informative and interactive assessment activities.
  • Netboard.me: collect, organize and share any web content.  Create Web pages with texts, links, documents, videos, photos, presentations, etc.
  • Prezi: with a basic subscription and a profile that states you’re in Education, you get PreziNext and PreziVideo for free. Access to designer templates, millions of reusable presentations, etc.
  • Slidesmania: Free PowerPoint templates or Google Slides themes for education. You can find simple, formal and even fun templates.
  • Sutori:organize, plan and center  instruction. The collaborative nature and ease of use makes Sutori the perfect companion for student and teacher presentations.
  • Symbaloo:  is a cloud-based application that allows users to organize and categorize web links in the form of buttons, offering its PRO version to all educators at no cost.
  • Creating Digital Lessons

EdPuzzle: Video lesson creation software with lots of usable content.

Kahoot: A game-based learning platform that brings engagement and fun to players at school, at work, and at home.

Pear Deck: Facilitates the design of engaging instructional content with various integration features.

Squigl : Content creation platform that transforms speech or text into animated videos.

  • Management and Brain Breaks

Go Noodle – GoNoodle is a fun website with a variety of brain breaks and indoor PE fun right in one place!

Whole Brain TeachingThe teacher breaks up information into short chunks, using large hand gestures, varying the intonation of her voice by speaking loudly and then softly, quickly then slowly. The greater the variance, the more likely students are to recall and use the information. It activates various parts of the brain, locking information into long-term storage. 

Class Dojo – Encouraging and supportive behavior management device.  Teachers can encourage and support students for any skill or value — whether it’s working hard, helping others, staying on task, etc. 

Additional Resources

Virtual

DEVELOPING RAPPORT

Why Build Rapport with Students?

To create an environment that is safe and engaging for all learners: 

To create an inclusive Classroom Community:

  • Mapping Your Heart – view this video to learn about Heart Mapping, invented by Georgia Heard, as one strategy to begin building an inclusive classroom community.

Strategies to Build Rapport with Students:

Building rapport with students from the beginning of a placement allows Teacher Candidates to make connections early and start forming relationships, even in the Virtual Teaching & Learning Environment.

  • Spend time getting to know your students – 
  • Create a Classroom Community: Be intentional when creating and nurturing your class community – 

Maintaining Rapport

Equally important as building rapport with students is maintaining that rapport. Here are some suggestions to maintain connections with students virtually:

Linked Resources

Emergent Bilingual Students

Effective Practices that Support Emergent Bilingual Students 

  1. Identify your students’ language backgrounds and Proficiency Levels (please see page 18 of the ELD Standards Framework) 
  2. Provide effective Integrated ELD and Designated ELD instruction 
  3. Use appropriate and planned scaffolds to support academic language development and content knowledge
  4. View SOE Module #6: Supporting Emergent Bilingual Students for more effective practices and strategies.

Build Connections with Families 

  • Access students’ “Funds of Knowledge” via a Family Survey or Inventory, such as this one from the Learning for Justice website: Family Interview.
    • Connect learning to students’ lived experiences.
  • Ask students to share any extenuating circumstances you should be aware of regarding their learning.
  • Encourage families to have conversations in their home language to aid academic language development.

Provide Opportunities to Build Academic English 

Move On

I’m not sure if it’s the pandemic or the recent tragic devastation from tornadoes across six states that reminds me of how fragile our time on earth is, or maybe it’s old age, but I have been dwelling on mistakes I’ve made that can’t be undone. It hurts to know that one moment in time when I could have done something differently, is lost forever. Poor choices, a lapse in judgement, a slip of the tongue, all these hideous memories that haunt me can’t be undone. All that is left is my guilt and a desire to try to keep true to my values. I know that I can make better choices moving forward. More importantly, I want to do better. I want my time to be spent feeling the joy of knowing I did the right thing. I want to know I loved fully and I made good choices.




Check for Understanding!!


After you teach a lesson, even a mini-lesson, always make sure you scan your group to insure they have a clear understanding of what you have taught. Moving on without a check does a disservice to students. Form a small group to reteach the lesson. The hand method is a good visual that goes a step further than “thumbs up, thumbs down.”


Check
For
 Understanding
 Strategy
Description


3‐2‐1/
Fist
 to
 Five/
Thumbs
 Up,
Thumbs
Down


4‐3‐2‐1 

Scoring 
Scale


Students 
communicate 
their 
level
 of
 understanding
 to
 teacher 
using
 their 
fingers


ABCD
Whisper
Students 
should
 get
 in 
groups
 of
 four 
where
 one 
student 
is 
A,
the
n next
 is
 B,
etc.
 Each
 student
 will
 be
 asked 
to 
reflect 
on
 a 
concept
 and
 draw
 a
 visual
 of
 his/her
 interpretation.
Then
 they 
will
 share
 their 
answer 
with
 each
 other
 in 
a
 zigzag
 pattern
 within
 their 
group.

Capacity
Matrix
The
 capacity 
matrix 
is 
a 
charting
 technique
 used 
to 
break
 down
 topic
 areas
 into
 steps 
for
achieving 
a
 specific
 result. 

It
 identifies
 tasks,
 knowledge 
levels,
 and
 understanding 
of
 the
 topic
 area.

Circle,
Triangle,
Square
(Circle)
 Something 
that
 is
 still
 going
 around
 in
 your 
head, 
(Triangle)
 Something
 pointed 
that
stood
 out 
in 
your 
mind, 
(Square) 
Something 
that
“Squared”
or
 agreed
 with
 your 
thinking.



Clickers


Electronic 
surveying 
devices
 that 
give
 instant
 feedback
 and 
data


Decisions,
Decisions
 (Philosophical
Chairs)
Given
 a
 prompt,
 class 
goes
 to
 the 
side 
that 
corresponds
 to
 their 
opinion 
on
 the
 topic,
sides 
share
 out
 reasoning,
 and
 students 
are
 allowed 
to
 change 
sides 
after
 discussion

Entrance/Exit
ticket
Each 
student
 will
 be
 given 
a
 ticket
 to
 complete
 before
 leaving 
the
 room
 answering:
What 
is
 the 
most 
important
 thing
 I
 learned
 today?
 What 
questions 
do I
 still
 have?
These 
tickets
 can
 be
 given 
to 
the 
teacher 
when 
exiting 
the 
room 
or
 upon 
entering 
the
 next
 day.
 The 
teacher 
uses 
this
 information
 to 
guide 
the
 instruction.

Every
Pupil
Response
Each
 student
 receives 
a
 pink
 and 
yellow
 card.
 Each 
color
 represents
 a
 specific
 response.
 Students 
raise
 the 
card 
to
 provide
 the
 correct 
response 
to 
a
 teacher
 directed 
question.

Example/Non‐Example
Given 
a
 concept, 
students 
sort 
or 
write 
various
 examples/non‐examples
 

Example/Non‐Example
Given 
examples/non‐examples,
 students
 determine 
concept
 


Fill
 In
 Your
 Thoughts


Written 
check
 for 
understanding
 strategy
 where
 students
 fill
 the
 blank.


Description


Students 
use 
this
 strategy
 to 
help
 them 
remember 
information 
that 
is
 important
 to 
them.
 They 
will
“flag”
their
 ideas 
on
 a 
sticky 
note
 or 
flag 
die
 cut…


Students 
demonstrate 
their
 knowledge
 of
 transformations
 of
 functions
 by
 physically
 moving
 their arms 
and
 body


Draw 
your 
handprint. 

In
 each
 finger,
write
 one 
thing
 you 
learned
 today.


A
 kinesthetic
 activity 
where
 students
 in
 the
 class
 physically
 move
 to
 create 
a
 histogram,
where
 each
 student
 represents
 a
 data
point 
rating 
their 
view
.

Give 
One,
Get 
One
Cooperative 
activity
 where
 the 
students
 write 
response
 to 
a
 prompt,
meet
up
 with
 another
student
 and
 share
 ideas
 so 
that
 each 
leaves
 with
 something
 to
 add
 to 
their
 list

Onion
Ring
Students 
form 
an
 inner
 and
 outer
 circle facing
 a
 partner.
The 
teacher 
asks 
a
 question 
and
 the
students 
are 
given 
time 
to 
respond
 to 
their 
partner.
 Next,
the
 inner
 circle 
rotates
 one
 person
 to
 the
 left.
The 
teacher 
asks 
another
 question 
and
 the
 cycle 
repeats 
itself.

Pop
It
(Bubble
Wrap)
Students 
write
 what 
they
 want
 to 
know 
about
 a
 topic 
on
 a 
dot
 sticker.

 Place
 each
 sticker
 on
 the
 bubble
wrap.

 When 
a
 topic 
is 
covered,
 the
 student 
pops
 the
 bubble.

Project
Study
Group
Analyzing 
incorrect
 responses 
in

 multiple 
choice
 questions
 


Student
 Data
 Notebooks


A 
timed
 writing 
in 
response
 to
 a
 question 
or 
prompt
(can
 be 
used
 before,
during,
 or
 after 
instruction)


A 
scoring 
guide 
using
 subjective
 assessments
 that 
is
 generally
 composed
 of
 dimensions
 for 
judging 
student
performance.


Students 
take 
turns
 leading 
discussions 
in
 a
 cooperative 
group
 on
 sections 
of 
a
 reading 
or 
video


Slap
It
Students
 are 
divided 
into
 two 
teams 
to
 identify
 correct
 answers
 to
 questions
 given 
by 
the
 teacher.
Students use 
a
 fly
swatter 
to 
slap 
the
 correct
 response
 posted 
on 
the 
wall.


Check
 For
 Understanding 
Strategy


Timed 
Pair
 Share


Triangular 
Prism
(Red,
 Yellow,
Green)


Word
 Sort


Description


Given 
a 
prompt,
students 
pair
 up
 and
 share 
their
 perspective
 for
 a
 given
 amount
 of
 time,
taking
 turns
(A
 talks,
B
 listens,
then
 B
 talks,
A
 listens)


Students 
give 
feedback 
to 
teacher
 by 
displaying
 the 
color
 that 
corresponds 
to
 their 
level 
of
 understanding


Given
 a 
set 
of 
vocabulary
 terms,
 students 
sort
 in
to 
given 
categories 
or 
create
 their
 own
 categories
 for
 sorting


Take
and
Pass
Cooperative group 
activity 
used
 to 
share
 or
 collect
 information 
from
 each
 member 
of
 the 
group; 
students 
write
 a
 response,
 then
 pass 
to
 the
 right,
add
 their
 response
 to 
next 
paper,
 continue 
until
they 
get
 their 
paper
 back, 
then
 group
 debriefs.

Whip
Around
Teacher 
poses 
a
 question
 and
 students

 list
 three 
items. 
All 
students 
stand.
 Teacher 
randomly 
calls
 students 
to 
share , 
if
 their
 topic 
is
 called
 they
 sit.
Teacher
 continues
 til 
all
 students
 are
 sitting.






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Thinking Out Loud


Son of My Son

I was still a teenager when I had my son. I had no idea how to raise a child. I only knew that holding him was the best feeling ever. I knew that loving him would be easy. I had the luxury of staying home and caring for him while his dad went to work. My son received my full attention. I read to him from a variety of books. Teaching him was my full-time job. Playing with him, singing to him, and resting next to him are sealed in my memory. The number one song at that time was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I sang it to him at every nap and bedtime.

When my grandson was born all those sweet memories were visible in his beautiful face. He is inquisitive, fearless, and incredibly loving. I know my son will have the joy of his life with his own son. I am a blessed grandma.

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

The Talmud



This photo of my granddaughter serves to remind me to savor the images and times when I was captivated by someone or something. The sense of wonder is a cause for celebration. She was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and stood inside a tunnel that allowed her to see a wave breaking above her. That sense of awe is something that children encounter often as they have new experiences, ones I have taken for granted. They unabashedly show their feelings, and it is beautiful to watch.

I think it is my grandchildren that opened my eyes to a renewed appreciation for nature. They most definitely savor new experiences. They are expressive and inquisitive. The newness of everything and their sense of wonder is contagious. I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of their lives. I hope they keep their sense of wonder and embrace new experiences with the same curiosity and enthusiasm.






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RESCUED

Who Rescued Who? 

I was on my way home from work when my husband called me to ask how I like the Pyrenees. I told him that I absolutely love them. I thought he was referring to the mountain range I saw while traveling through Spain and France. He meant the dog breed. He told me he was at the animal shelter and he wanted me to stop by. What I didn’t know is that my husband had spent hours in an outdoor pen playing fetch, petting and getting acquainted with what I thought resembled a small white horse. I couldn’t say no when he asked if we could take him home.

Once inside our house the giant white dog galloped upstairs and took a bite out of the edge of the coffee table. Not satisfied with that, he went for my Ugg boots and tore them to bits. We chased and yelled, until he came to a stop near my rocking chair. We tried to get him downstairs by enticing him with treats, but not before he bit the legs off my rocking chair. I just cried. My husband kept saying, “ He’s scared and hasn’t learned yet.” I named him Max because he reminded me of the naughty boy from Where the Wild Things Are.

We thought we would try putting Max in the backyard. He chewed the top of our spa cover. I told my husband that either the dog receives training in order to extinguish bad behavior or we find a new home for Max. I obviously lacked the same patience and optimism that my husband had. My husband attended training classes every Saturday and after two months we had a different dog. Max is my husband’s best friend and they are inseparable. It turns out Great Pyrenees are very loyal, protective and gentle.

As for the tiny fur ball, she did not get along with her siblings so I rescued her. I did not name her, but Tootsie seems to fit. She is quite the alarm system when anyone approaches our house. I learned about Great Pyrenees; they are guardian dogs for sheep. I think Max considers Tootsie a baby lamb and he is very protective. Can you tell which one is the trouble maker? Fortunately we have a lovely dog park at the end of our road. The dynamic duo are the best of friends.

Tootsie and Max

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What If?


I teach an online course for future teachers in a master’s degree program. I was grading journal post last night when I read a student’s journal entry detailing her fears about interacting (or failure to interact) with parents. She was candid in describing possible scenarios. “What if a parent had a horrible school experience and hates teachers?” “What if the family doesn’t value education?” “What if I don’t make a good impression?” “What if I cannot connect with them at all?”

I asked myself, “What if I give her the wrong advice?” I found myself falling into the trap of fear and doubt that she carried. I’m a veteran teacher with 20 years experience dealing with parents. I know better. I know that being my authentic self is all I can be, and it’s good enough. I love teaching, and this student is obviously worrying herself sick over ‘what ifs.’ Her anxiety was reaching toxic levels. I thought about the most honest and heartfelt (hopefully helpful) advice I could give her. I told her to highlight the student’s strengths. I encouraged her to send notes home with the child

to report effort, acts of kindness, and any improvement. They send a clear message that you are noticing their child’s growth, and you care about their child. It will help build a bridge that may undo preconceived notions about the teacher or the school. This is crucial if they’ve lived their life with negative memories of a bad experience. A student that goes home happy and feeling supported is bound to share that with their parents. A teacher’s job is to make sure they get to know their students, let them know you value them for who they are.

Too often parents are not part of a student’s support team. That is a signal that the teacher needs to give even more of their heart and time to that student.

It’s good to give a glance at the what ifs, but more important is to be proactive in how you will connect with your students. What if you make a real difference? What if the parents want to decide to become involved? What if that student remembers you all their life?


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Relatable Books For Children

A good book can spark imagination, teach us, and take us on a journey.

I love to share resources for children by topic. Kindly share with me if you have collections of special interest and I will add them. 😉 Teaching children to read and to Love reading is my passion.


We have all had a lousy day. Relatable text is important for children to make text-to-life connections.


Lucy is teased for being different. She finds courage to be herself.


This book helps children learn our fears are greatly exaggerated.



“No more carrots, fruit or peas, I’m going to live with dog family!” says a little girl who’s had enough of her parents forcing her to eat her dinner. But what if life with the dogs isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? “Dog Family” is a loveable story about one little girl’s adventure as she discovers the importance of family love.

CAUTION: FOR OLDER STUDENTS

The powerful, unforgettable graphic memoir from Jarrett Krosoczka, about growing up with a drug-addicted mother, a missing father, and two unforgettably opinionated grandparents.In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what’s going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father. Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.



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Girl Power

I would replace shoes with tools. Traditionally girls have been limited in which dreams they could pursue. The changing landscape no longer relocates girls to secretarial or caretaking jobs (unless they choose such). I was pleasantly surprised when my granddaughter shared her dream of being an astronaut.

Education has opened new possibilities for women, releasing them from dependence on a man for their sustenance. Legislation has created laws to enable equal opportunities as well as broader opportunities for women to obtain jobs other than teaching, nursing and other traditionally female roles. Public outcry has shone a light on the issue of gender discrimination, but despite this, women are paid and advanced less than men. To break the cycle of power and poverty, women need confidence, strength and education.



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Early Morning Turtle Watching



Here are some of the best places to take your kids or grandkids to see sea turtles on the island of Kauai:

Poipu Beach — Great for kids because even waders can spot sea turtles hanging in the reef shallows while snorkelers can see them swimming in the clearer depths.

Kuhio Shores — Though a little rocky at the entrance to the water, the bay just east of Kuhio Shores is a favorite sea turtle hang out. Honu visit this spot year round to snack on the plants growing among the rocks.

Kipu Kai Beach — This beautiful crescent-shaped beach boasts clear waters ideal for seeing and swimming near sea turtles. Scenes from the movie The Descendants were filmed here.

Koloa Landing — Straight out in front of  Koloa Landing Resort is one of the best places to snorkel with sea turtles in Kauai. Guests can even grab snorkel gear from the resort or get hooked up with a local guide.

There are so many more, so get packing and have a memory-making time!

Caution:

  • Always stay at least 10 to 15 feet away from a sea turtle. Do not chase, approach, touch, dance with, high five or ride a turtle. Fines can set you back $100,000. Not worth it — not to mention cruel.
  • If you would like to move closer to a turtle, float or swim as gently as possible. They are living, breathing creatures that deserve respect and care. Look, do not disturb.
  • Never attempt to feed a sea turtle — unless of course you are a rock covered in delicious algae. 
  • Avoid loud noises and abrupt movements which will startle these timid guys.
  • Do not pour water over a beached turtle or try to push it back into the ocean. (You’d be surprised what people attempt!)
  • Always give a sea turtle a clear path, taking care not to block their access to land or sea.
  • Avoid following a sea turtle out too far or you could find yourself in dangerous waters. 
  • If you encounter a sea turtle that is stranded, injured or in distress, report it immediately to a lifeguard.
  • Use a sunscreen that is friendly to marine life and reefs. Today, Hawaii now sells only environmentally sound sunscreen.


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Wanderlust

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an airline stewardess so I could travel all over the world. As it turned out, I became an elementary teacher with travel limited to summers and books, where I can let my imagination take me away. I’ve had incredible trips to England, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, Canada and Mexico. My husband was stationed in Turkey during his time in the Air Force. He still longs to return. I have a former student in Germany and it’s on my bucket list to surprise her one day. I love learning about cultures and customs. I especially love meeting people who take the time to talk about their life. I have had serendipitous moments like the time that my husband and I were in an airport and saw a former student, or the time we were in a cafe and the waitress overheard me tell my husband that I had never eaten fried green tomatoes. She told the cook and he brought out a platter of them for me to try. In France my husband wanted to surf and the owner of a surf shop loaned him a brand new surfboard for the day. The world is filled with friends I haven’t met yet.


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Adventuring

This year I decided to join my daughter’s family in Wales for Christmas. Yes, during a pandemic, with a new variant waiting for its next host. I am triple dosed with the vaccine, have a pile of masks and will do may best to avoid crowds (in an airport?) I decided to reframe my thinking, kick my fears to the curb, and join in a joyous celebration with my granddaughters. My daughter really gets into the holiday spirit. She sent me pictures of the snow falling on her yard. I can’t wait to tromp around in the snow with my fun-loving granddaughters. The girls have a love of books that I like to think they inherited from me. The journey will be long so I have saved books on my phone as well as a book of puzzles.

Wales is a magical place that stole my heart on my first visit. Mind you, I ended up in Zurich overnight due to a snowstorm. Even that detour was filled with adventure. So I have made my Mind Map of the journey and I am counting down the “sleeps” until I leave.


Had to switch month to December due to covid

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Active Engagement Strategy

Use Think-Pair-Share at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation:

•Before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge

•After watching a film clip to gauge a reaction

•After reading a short text to begin a discussion

•Before students begin an assignment, such as an essay or a set of word problems, to gather ideas or formalize procedures

Ask a question. Be aware that open-ended questions are more likely to generate more discussion and higher order thinking. A think-pair-share can take as little as three minutes or can be longer, depending on the question or task and the class size.

Teacher can pre-select pairs.




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Hang In There

Some holidays are difficult. Especially now that my kids are grown and off living their lives. The house is quiet, too quiet, and there doesn’t seem to be any point in cooking a big feast, or even a little one. It’s those times when thoughts of the past seem to hold me in a vacuum. Thoughts of my grandmother’s kitchen remind me of the smells of freshly made tortillas and lentil soup bubbling on the stove. With my eyes closed I can see her wiping her hands on her apron while she makes sure everyone has a full plate. Then I think of people in line to receive food from a food bank, hopeful there will be enough to last a few days. I have a stocked kitchen. I can hear my grandmother saying it’s time to take that turkey breast out and make a meal. Gratitude covers me like an old quilt. As my grandmother would say, “Cuega ahi, mijita.” Hang in there.



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Spelling

Rote memorization is not an effective way to learn and remember.   How many kids forget their spelling words as soon as they finish the test?

BORING!!!

We need to give kids an active role.

Just a handful of kids’ needs are met when the entire class has the same word list!     

         NOT FAIR                                             NOT GOOD TEACHING

There is another way– Use WORDS THEIR WAY

●Use of multi-sensory learning
●Students are actively engaged
●Students learn word patterns 
●It’s fun

The Primary Spelling Inventory, or PSI, can be used in kindergarten through third gradeThe Upper-Level Spelling Inventory, or USI, can be used in upper elementary, middle school, high school, and postsecondary classrooms. If a school system wants to use the same inventory across all elementary grades, they can use the Elementary Spelling Inventory, or ESI. 


ASSESS First, then FORM GROUPS based on needs, TEACH needed skills, ASSESS

Stages of Spelling Development

Pre-Phonetic (Before a child learns letter/sound combination they will try to write letters they have seen)


Phonetic (child is learning letter/sound and will try to sound out words).

Making Learning new spelling words FUN and MULTI-SENSORY

Remember that the fun activities are NOT in place of direct instruction of a skill. They are meant to make the learning enjoyable  so it is stored in longterm memory.

**We learn through experiences



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Slow Your Roll

I need to remind myself that I don’t need to take on more than I can handle. I see stress on the faces of people everywhere. Rushing here and there to get things done. Always haunted by a mental list of what they must do to be whole. To be satisfied.

Worry lines seep into skin and leave a reminder of their power. I tell myself to enjoy every moment, but to do that means to actively pause what I have deemed the do or die tasks that wait for me. I choose to replace thoughts of procrastination with thoughts of peace. I will enjoy a peaceful day and get to my task list tomorrow. Ahh, it feels better already.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

 A 2019 report confirmed that experiencing traumatic things as a child puts you at risk for lifelong health effects.

What do we mean by Adverse Childhood Experience?

Sexual abuse

Abuse (physical or mental)

Exposure to domestic abuse

Exposure to substance abuse

Mental illness, parental discord, crime

Death of parent

Imprisoned parent

Impact:

Neurobiologic Effects of Trauma :  Disrupted neuro-development, Difficulty controlling anger-rage, Hallucinations, Depression,   Panic reactions, Anxiety, Multiple (6+) somatic problems, Sleep problems, Impaired memory, Flashbacks, Dissociation

Health Risk Behaviors : Smoking, Severe obesity, Physical inactivity, Suicide attempts, Alcoholism. Drug abuse, Repetition of original trauma, Self Injury ,Eating disorders


What Can a Teacher Do?

•Create a caring classroom

•Greet them when they enter

•Class Meetings- Compliments 

•Morning Message on the board

•Friendship Board- Messages of Encouragement

• Sprinkle Praise- Highlight Accomplishments

Convey that you care-get to know your students

If you suspect child abuse:

Tell your principal immediately

You are a mandated reporter- Call Child Protective Services 

Keep confidential notes in a safe place-date and time




Stay Weird


I was hunting in my closet for something to wear. At one point in time my closet was organized so all clothing of a particular color were together. It has now returned to a multi-colored mess. As I reached for a white blouse I thought, “No, it’s past Labor Day, I can’t wear white.” Who made that rule and why?

I have very long blonde hair that I am told should be short because I am older. A teacher I worked with actually said, “When are you going to get a hairstyle? You should cut your hair. You wear it up anyway.” I have no idea who made her the hair police, but I actually like my hair and wear it up because working with second graders means I lean over to help them with their work. Why do I need to explain? In retrospect, a simple, “I don’t want to cut my hair” might shut down all judging. What happened to, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything?

At my age I will wear anything I want! Rant over.


Welcoming The New

For six years I have taught an online course for a university. I enjoy staying connected to education by instructing teachers who are earning a Master’s Degree. So far I have only taught one course on Literacy and Reading and enjoy it very much. Today I was asked to teach an additional course on The Art and Craft of teaching. The university’s confidence in my abilities mean a great deal to me.

I am grateful for the additional course and the opportunity to instruct undergraduates. I genuinely hope I can continue to be a part of guiding future teachers.

Rest

It’s good to take an inventory of how you’re doing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Taking time to rest is an opportunity to recharge our batteries. If we don’t get enough sleep at night, we need to rest during the day. That’s a luxury that most people don’t have. It takes determination and commitment to stop all activity, turn off all devices, and go to sleep.

I discovered that apps like Headspace and Aura offer soothing music and meditations that assist in restorative sleep. The difference is remarkable.

Unplugged

I did it. I booked a flight to England to visit my granddaughters, daughter and son-in-law. I wrestled with the idea of flying during the pandemic, but felt that with two vaccines and a booster, I am as protected as I can be. The thought of being with family washes over me as I remember the laughter, silly jokes, heart-melting hugs, and general sense of wholeness. I love everything about the life my daughter has made in the UK. There is magic in the way she cooks for her family. Love in every serving. My son-in-law made it a way of life to include belly laughs with the banter that happens the moment he is home from work. My granddaughters share their day at school and everyone settles down for the evening in a very cosy family room.

The flight is my least favorite part of the journey. I try to make the most of it by listening to books on tape or writing in a journal. To truly unplug, I generally prefer not engaging in conversation with strangers. Books and journaling help me pass the hours. I think about places in Wales that I have been shown that literally took my breath away. If fairies exist, surely they live in Wales. The times I have been there have always given me a sense of peace. I so need that. I need to come back home with a renewed hope for happier days. I will have made new memories to hold onto.




What’s Important

I got to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters from Wales. It’s been years since we were together. My husband took our 10 year old out to the beach to teach her to surf.The little ones played in the sand and got their feet went in the ocean. I couldn’t wait to see the cousins meet for the first time. To hear my son and his youngest sister laugh took me back to when they were children. We kayaked, took walks, saw sunsets together and watched their children play. Our otherwise quiet home was filled with sounds of love and joy. These moments are what is important.





Truth

I said goodbye to my family from Wales. They came for a short visit as we have not seen them in years. I stood in line at the airport waiting for their turn to put their bags on the scale and show their passports. I looked at how much my granddaughters have grown since I last saw them. The tears came with intensity. Their presence brought life, laughter and love to my otherwise lonely, quiet house. I prefer a messy house full of love and life to being alone in a quiet, tidy house.

They divided their time in California to accommodate divorced parents. The stark contrast in climate and lifestyle was quite dramatic. They saw the high desert and the beach on their visit. We learned that time spent in a car to travel to any attraction is not worth our time. It was a unanimous decision (after the fact) that enjoying our beach town offered all the excitement that we could ask for. We made the long journey to Big Sur, and it is breathtaking, but being together at home was a much better use of time. The oldest grandchild learned to surf.

I can still hear their laughter. Cousins meeting for the first time is magical. I have a greeting card that says, ” She said she usually cries each day, not because she is sad, but because the world is so beautiful and life is so short.”

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