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.
•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.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.
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.
• 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 dailyand 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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,
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:
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.
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
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.
Loom: Instantly shareable video. Capture your screen, record your front-facing camera, and narrate it all at once, then instantly share with a simple link.
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.
Thinglink: Tools to create interactive images, videos and other multimedia resources.
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 Teaching – The 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.
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.
Ask students to share any extenuating circumstances you should be aware of regarding their learning. Students can submit their response in writing, or as a video or audio recording. Flipgrid is a user-friendly video-based platform to use with students.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Given a concept, students sort or write various examples/non‐examples
Given examples/non‐examples, students determine concept
Fill In Your Thoughts
Written check for understanding strategy where students fill the blank.
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
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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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?
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.
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.
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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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!
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.
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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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 Mapof the journey and I am counting down the “sleeps” until I leave.
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.
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.
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?
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
The Primary Spelling Inventory, or PSI, can be used in kindergarten through third grade. The 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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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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Our granddaughter from Wales wanted to learn how to surf and she wanted her grandpa, an accomplished surfer, to teach her. He got her outfitted with a wetsuit and spent time on the sand prepping her and acquainting her with the basics. Her little sister was content playing near the shore.
I watched and it reminded me of when he tried to teach me to surf. I remember him telling me that the best surfer in the water is the one having fun. He is a retired teacher with so much experience and adventures with surfing. Our granddaughter walked into the waves asking if there were any sharks. I couldn’t hear his response, but that was when he took her hand.
Ever since I was a child I have loved books. I found the joy of traveling in my mind to exotic places where I could experience adventure, and become someone else. I could be a scientist, an explorer, a hero or a villain. Each book brought new possibilities.
Everywhere I went I would be sure to bring a book. Being called a bookworm was not offensive to me. I preferred reading to interacting with those who didn’t share my fascination with books. I can only assume that a person who doesn’t enjoy reading has not found the right book that captures their interest. To this day I carry a book with me (sometimes on the Kindle app on my phone).
I like to explore various genres to broaden my choices and gather information. There is much to be gained by selecting a book on a topic that has been on your mind. I knew I liked pictures of New Zealand, but reading about it and learning customs, culture and history has increased my knowledge base substantially. When discussing a topic it is always better to have facts from reliable sources. I never realized how much I would enjoy nonfiction books, but the information enhances my vocabulary while strengthening my knowledge base. A real win!
Historical fiction and thrillers are the latest genres that appeal to me. I have had the pleasure of joining two online book clubs and have engaged in discussions with a few authors. It opens up an entire world once your mind is open to learning from an author’s perspective. It’s often surprising when I find myself challenging my own long held beliefs. In that way books are helping me grow my mind.
I like to think that even if you did not have the opportunity to grow up in a loving, nurturing, healthy home, you can still create that kind of home for your own children. It is never too late to start building the kind of life you want. I am blessed with great kids and like to think I am much wiser as a grandma than I was as a mother. Time and experiences along the way helped to shape my priorities. I know how much laughter, forgiveness and feeling confident are essential elements in every day life.
My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters are visiting here from Wales. Every second with them is a treasure. Sitting at the dining room table as I listened to my daughter, I thought of how proud I am of her and her capacity to love. My oldest granddaughter helped me in the kitchen. The little one celebrated her 5th birthday here, in the US, complete with a unicorn theme. These moments are precious. There aren’t enough of them. All I want to do is make memories that they will cherish and pass on to their children one day.
It’s been in my head and heart to see new places, explore different cultures, learn about how to do new things. That’s why I spend time admiring posts of scenery from places I long to experience for myself.
Lately my fascination centers around waterfalls. My first encounter was in Costa Rica ten years ago with a group of surfers who managed to get a great travel package that included horseback riding to a waterfall and zip lining through a rainforest. It was an unforgettable and much needed adventure.
Most recently I saw Snowdonia where there are too many waterfalls to count. I sat in the backseat of my son-in-law’s car gaping at the majesty of it all. That is another trip I hold in my heart.
This world is full of magical memory making place waiting to be explored. I’m ready for another adventure.
I was in the grocery store to pick up a few items. I wore my mask and assumed that others would also. Not so. I pushed my cart through the produce section and a very large man yelled at me, “You don’t need a damn mask!” He scared me. I got out of the store quickly. The sign on the entrance said, “Masks required.” About half the people I saw were not wearing masks. I am fully vaccinated, and even got a booster shot. I am protecting others, as well as myself. What if I had a kidney transplant? What if I had a compromised immune system? The what ifs are endless. I should not have to respond to such an unfiltered verbal assault, and to be honest, I was too frightened so I did not respond.
The cases of Covid are going up in our little area. I am being responsible and this is a public health emergency. Hopefully we can all see that. We will all die someday, but if you know there is a vaccine that will provide some protection, why not take it? I watched my mother die gasping for air, and I imagine that being on a ventilator isn’t much fun. I lost an aunt and an uncle to covid. I hope that we all make it through this horrible virus. I hope we care about our fellow citizens enough to do what will help them survive.
Children need to practice reading skills by reading aloud. This helps them develop fluency. A child can read to a sibling, a pet, their toys, and even plants. Their reading becomes enjoyable when they have someone or something to share in the experience.
When I taught second grade I set up an experiment. My hypothesis was that plants that are read to do better than those that aren’t. I had the same type of plant (pathos) in opposite sides of the classroom. One plant was read to daily and one was not. Students clamored to be the reader. They kept a notebook of their discoveries. It may have been happenstance, but the plant that was read to flourished in contrast to the plant that did not have a child read to it. I’m not a scientist, but I am a reading teacher with a creative mind. My experiment was a success! It got students reading and writing.
I imagine that a sibling or a pet would love the attention. Anything that encourages reading is a good thing.
It’s good medicine to laugh. It’s even better to have a belly laugh. This is a great way to begin the day, a meeting, the school year. According to Psychology Today, “A hearty chuckle releases endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins are part of the reason laughing is so contagious. Laughing also has many health benefits such as increasing blood flow and improving mental and physical resilience. In fact, it’s not unlike a vigorous workout session.”
“The eminent psychologist on laughter, Robert Provine, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland, agrees that laughter isn’t really about humor. He contends that it’s more about relationships. Cutting-edge humor straight out of Comedy Central is great, but people actually laugh more in conversation and through interaction. Provine has unearthed a few facts on laughter including:
I began searching the internet for resources to give my online students who are in a Masters level course to earn their teaching credential. I have weekly resources for them that coincide with the week’s topic. I took a look at a topic that generally has them confused, the difference between phonemic awareness and phonics. I wanted the clearest information that would be easy to understand. Boy, did I go down a rabbit hole!
I could tell students a thousand times how important it is to know the sounds that make up words, and they always refer to phonics instruction. Most students are able to learn both the letter and the corresponding sound, but for some, the two skills do not stick. That is why it is important to teach sounds first. A child who can recite the alphabet but doesn’t have knowledge of the sounds, will not be able to read. There are important distinctions between phonemic awareness and phonics.
Phonemic awareness refers to the sounds in words. Not the letters, the sounds. The word cat has three phonemes: /c/a/t/. You can practice phonemic awareness in the dark because it does not include sight, just sound.
Phonics is awareness of both the letters and their sounds.
If child cannot read, you must go back and teach sounds. It is the only way they will be able to decode.
I spent part of the day with my grandson. It was just the two of us. When it was time to take a nap I asked him to select two books that I would read to him. He ran into his room and brought back two of his favorites. I always say, “Be sure you are comfortable so you can enjoy the story.” He got a pillow and put it right near me. We looked at the pictures first and found things we liked. We talked about what the story might be about. He snuggled next to me as I read to him. When I finished, I told him that I was very tired and needed to rest my body. He looked at me and said, ” You’re a good grandma and I love you.” He put his arm around me and fell asleep that way. I think I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. I thought about how good it is to be alive to witness those kind of moments. In spite of all the bad times, events that make me want to disappear, there are moments that are precious beyond words. I am grateful that I lived to have moments like this; to see that there are sparkling moments in life that are just around the corner.