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Monday, August 22, 2011

Homework- To be or not to be?

Please remember my blogs are MY opinions. If I use articles and resource I will cite the source. Otherwise my opinions come from common knowledge and experiences I've had. These opinions my differ from your child's teacher. We all have our differences of opinion and our own unique teaching styles.

Students hate homework, parents get fed up with homework, teachers get bogged down grading homework. So why have homework?

I agree that some students have too much homework. That only creates stress and resentment toward school. I feel homework is very important especially when it comes to math and reading. A classroom becomes like home. It is familiar and students get comfortable in the classroom because they feel safe (hopefully) and it is part of their everyday life. When math lessons are given the teacher usually goes through the concepts step by step. Sometimes there are posters that remind the students how to do certain concepts. When math homework is sent home it helps the teacher assess what the student knows outside his/her element. I had such a struggle in math I feel that a little math homework is important. No more than 30 minutes. Same with reading. I think it is important that a child reads a few minutes each night for practice. The more a child practices a concept the better he/she will get with that concept. Same thing with adults. ;) 

Three hours of homework...I have to disagree with. If your child is bogged down with homework each night I think it would be a good idea to talk with the teacher. This could be an indicator that something isn't quite right if he/she is not getting their work finished at school. It could be something as simple as they are getting distracted by a friend they are sitting near. It could be they are piddling and not staying on task. It could be the child has a learning challenge. When you talk to your child's teacher it is important that you do not come across as accusing the teacher of not knowing how to do her job. Talk together figure out what is best for your child and work on strategies to help your child.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kermit, it is pretty easy to be green!

I am going to toot my own horn, mainly because I like to do that. I was making math fact circles and decided to use the large pieces of the leftover card stock to make math fact strips. I noticed I still had a lot of leftover so the light bulb went off! That rarely happens. I started cutting the rest into tiny squares of assorted sizes. I am going to put the alphabet and numbers on them put them in a sandwich bag and have one of my little students to draw a square out of the bag and identify what is on the square. TOOOT!!! I came up with that idea all on my very own! I could also put dolch words on them, vocabulary words, spelling words...the list is endless.

So have you had any ingenious ideas that is easy on the environment or your purse lately? Please share!

Bipolar is not a bad word

When many people hear of a mental condition of any kind it scares them. What do they think the people going through these conditions are feeling? It is bad enough to have to deal with all the symptoms PLUS being labeled as "crazy." Bipolar is something we hear more about every day but people still want to whisper the word as if by saying it out loud they will "catch it." Bipolar is often hereditary, people have gone years being bipolar trying to fit in and work like "normal" people before they get help. There are medications and therapy for people suffering from bipolar to help them lead a "normal" life. I use the term normal loosely because I've yet to figure out what normal is. 

Several well known people lived or live with bipolar disorder. Abraham Lincoln has been noted as having manic depression. A condition now known as bipolar. He was a Senator then our President during our country's most trying time.  Here are a few other famous people that has/had bipolar disorder.

If you have a relationship with someone who suffers from bipolar disorder or anything other mental health condition please educate yourself. Read books, articles, search the net, or go to the doctor with your loved one to see how you can help this person and still maintain a healthy relationship.

Other links:

Several mental health issues can be found here

Monday, August 15, 2011

Depression is a serious thing

When I started feeling like I was slurring my words and my mind was going totally blank I blamed it on stress and Fibro Fog. The fibro part probably didn't help, as a matter of fact it generally goes hand in hand. Depression was the farthest thing from my mind. What did I have to be depressed about? I have always been very blessed. I was raised in a good Christian home, had a loving husband, my kids were healthy, and I was realizing a dream. What I never wanted to admit was I had several bouts of depression over the years. I am not even sure when it started. I can thank genetics for this chemical imbalance.

Depression is not just being a little sad. It is a demon that must be fought. For some people it is a daily fight that is hard to win. My body hurt so bad, I did not have enough energy to raise my arms to put my clothes on. I thought I had a stroke or something. I always believed one could control depression. I was proved very wrong. I started having morbid thoughts that did not seem like my own. I could not remember anything from one minute to the next. All these things did just happen over night either. I was just oblivious to what was happening to me. When I started thinking how much better every one would be with out me and planning out what I hoped to be my death I still was clueless as to what was happening. People say they do not understand how other people can commit such an atrocious act. Be thankful you have not reached a point in your life where you have that understanding. Don't get me wrong, there are people who try things for selfish reasons only to get attention. People suffering deep depression have little or no control over their thoughts. Thankfully I had the support I needed. My sister drove me to the doctor, my husband was supportive, and I had MANY friends praying for me. I was one of the lucky ones to get help. Many are not. It is hard to understand for those who have never suffered from depression to realize it isn't just a mood you can get over.

My daily plea is if you know someone suffering from depression please help them to get help. There is help out there. Medication is what saved me but there are tons of therapies offered as well. Help this person with research, talk to others who have been going through the same difference. Help the person keep a log. My husband went to my doctor with me and told him things I did not realize I was doing. This really helped me to understand things and figure out what steps to take.  

Friday, August 12, 2011


In college we were told to remember not to use "remembering" in our lesson plans. Remembering is on the low level of Bloom's Taxonomy. OK, I think it is a little more important than that. We have to remind students to remember to go to the bathroom and have their things in order before the bell rings every day. We have to tell them to remember to study for a test. When they study they need to remember the information they are reading. Therefore, I think remember is an important part of learning. Sure, it's simple and probably should be "understood" in any behavior you use on your lesson plan but really we need to teach these kids to remember things. For example, when they start learning multiplication they are taught it is adding numbers multiple times. They are shown how in many ways. They are expected to remember them but we do not teach them to remember their facts. Many middle school aged students do not know their multiplication facts. They know how to do it for the most part but it should not take nearly a minute to figure out that 12x6=36. They should know it in a split second. So by all means, let's use "remember!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Worksheets don't grow dendrites...but they are inevitable

Even before I heard of Marcia Tate's philosophy about staying away from worksheets all the time I was already doing my planning as such. BUT those worksheets are still necessary. For one reason if you have 20 plus students with multiple learning differences you still only have two hands and one body and you need to see that each student is getting the help he/she needs. That is why we have morning work. :/ If everyone had an aid or two in their classroom perhaps we could almost eliminate worksheets altogether. Alas, this is the REAL world. 

When I do use worksheets I try to make them practical. I do not mind using the workbooks that go along with the text book programs at all. But what about reinforcing what students already know. "Practice makes perfect." OK, I don't agree with that wholeheartedly, but practice does tend to make us better at any kind of task. Repetitiveness in key in learning, worksheets do help out if used correctly. Handing out worksheets to have a child to do just have something to do is something I disagree with. Worksheets should include content the students are learning or have learned already. Review and practice sheets help the student keep this in his/her mind better. I like to make time to go over the worksheets. If I have a document camera I use that and fill in the blanks for them and I discuss each problem. I like to have the students to answer and explain how they go their answer (especially in math). I can remember several worksheets I did when I was in elementary school. I know, I am a little on the weird side anyhow, but at least those trees weren't cut for nothing. 

Although many different teaching strategies should be used in a classroom, let's not burn all the worksheets yet.

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