Thursday, April 30, 2009

Need some humor?

Our district has been administering it's state mandated testing this week.  So we have been in need of some humor around here!  So I got out one of my favorite books and thought I would share a few comments from it.  I have the 1,003 Great Things About Teachers by Lisa Birnbach, Patricia Marx, and Ann Hodgman.  

Things Teachers Know That Ordinary People Don't (pages 97-102)
1.  Facts about the Industrial Revolution besides the fact that industry got started then.
2.  When the Bill of Rights was written (and exactly what it is).
3.  What "factors" are.
4.  How to make necklaces out of gilded macaroni.
5.  How to make paper mache.
6.  The multiplication table past the sixes.
7.  When a haircut crosses that crutial line of being "over the collar".
8.  When a hemline crosses that crucial line of being too short.
9.  Who's already been line leader this week.
10. How to run a projector.
11. Whether 2.2 pounds equals 1 kilo or vice versa.
12. How to find the star in an apple.

I hope these made you smile.  Feel free to share any of your own "facts"!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Working with Different Sensory/Modality Strengths and Limitations

by Jane Bluestein, Ph.D.

Found at

Verbal Ability

Strong Verbal

Red Square Left-brain, right-hand dominant
Red Square Strong Verbal Skills
Red Square Can communicate even under stress
Red Square Like to talk about what they're learning
Red Square May be overreactive to noise, touch, visual input (difficulty paying attention)

Verbal/Communications Limited

Red Square Right-brain, left-hand dominant (stronger kinesthetically)
Red Square Left-brain, left-hand or right-brain, right-hand dominant
(may also be kinesthetically limited)
Red Square May need more time to think, respond
Red Square May be able to demonstrate understanding in other ways
Red Square May do better in conversation than in front of the class or "on the spot"

Visual Ability

Strong Visual

Red Square Left-brain, right-eye dominant
Red Square Can take in and understand visual input, even under stress
Red Square May notice visual dimensions of an experience (ex: scenery, lighting)
Red Square Receive info by looking, watching, reading or being shown
Red Square Need eye contact, need to see speaker
Red Square Do well with maps, charts, diagrams

Visually Limited

Red Square Right-brain, right-eye dominant or left-brain, left-eye dominant
Red Square Can overload in a "busy" environment
Red Square May look away from teacher or close eyes to concentrate
Red Square Keep maps, charts and diagrams simple
Red Square Provide verbal directions

Auditory Ability

Strong Auditory

Red Square Left-brain, right-ear dominant
Red Square Can take in and understand auditory input, even under stress
Red Square May notice auditory dimensions of an experience (ex: dialogue)
Red Square Receive info by listening or being told
Red Square Process with self-talk, inner voice
Red Square May need to look away (shut out visual distractions) or not look at speaker

Visually Limited

Red Square Right-brain, right-ear dominant or left-brain, left-ear dominant
Red Square May tune out speaker
Red Square May close eyes to concentrate, turn dominant ear toward speaker
Red Square Put directions in writing, make visual info avail, allow to create mental image

Kinesthetic Ability

Strong Kinesthetic

Red Square Often right-brain, left-hand dominant
Red Square Would rather touch than look
Red Square May notice kinesthetic dimensions of an experience (ex: action scenes)
Red Square Receive info by touch, movement
Red Square Often described as hyperactive
Red Square May have difficulty with visual or auditory input if kinesthetic needs are not met (especially if movement is restricted for a long time)
Red Square Provide kinesthetic outlets (ex: playing with string, clay, beanbag; chewing gum) during non-kinesthetic activities

Kinesthetically Limited

Red Square Fewer kinesthetic demands in traditional classroom,
so will generally do OK(may have trouble in classes that demand fine- or gross-motor skills)
Red Square Work from their strengths


Keeping Modality
Channels Open

Red Square Minimize stress in environment (weaker channels shut down under threat)

Red Square Do integration activities to "wake up" different parts of the brain

Red Square Accommodate more than one modality whenever possible (ex: saying and writing directions)

Red Square Teach kids to self-regulate (without disturbing anyone else)

Red Square Provide outlets, various ways of paying attention
(options you can live with, options that will not disturb other learners)

Excerpted from Creating Emotionally Safe Schools, by Jane Bluestein, Ph.D. © 2001, Health Communications, Inc, Deerfield Beach, FL.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Empowering Parents: working with children who have behavior issues

There is a fantastic newsletter by a website "The Total Transformation" called Empowering Parents. Please take a moment to visit it at Tell us what you think about it. This newsletter discusses how to stop victim thinking in kids. There is also a link to a parenting podcast.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Motivation 101

The following information was found in the March/April 2009 of Instructor Magazine from Samantha Cleaver.

Motivating students is a difficult skill to learn as a new teacher.  We all want our students to try their hardest out of their love for us, the teacher.  But how do you build that feeling of family?  Read on and feel free to add your suggestions to the comment area.

"Building Competency
When we're good at something, we're motivated to do it.  Especially after fourth grade, when there's an increase in content and pace, it's crucial that every student knows the basics and can do the work.

Stimulate the Brain
Make sure that students have had enough to eat, and get oxygen flowing with movement.  Change things up by letting kids lie on the floor while you project slides onto the ceiling.

Know the Six C's
Build creativity, community, clarity, coaching, conferencing, and control into the day, says Richard Lavoie, author of The Motivation Breakthrough.  Set group and individual goals.  Use conferences to learn more about your students, and let kids have control over some of their day.

Tap Into Television
When teacher Rick Ellenburg learned that his students watched Discovery Channel shows, such as How Stuff Works, he linked the programs to his science curriculum.

Talk to Other Teachers
If a student is motivated in art but won't lift his pencil during math, swap notes with the art teacher.  It takes effort, says Ashley Cooper, an elementary school counselor, "but it may save time you'd otherwise spend struggling with this child."

Set Clear Expectations
Michelle Harrison, a fifth-grade teacher, gives guidelines, uses rubrics, and allows kids some say in what's included in their final grade.

Make It Relevant
Teacher Laura Kabel tells her seventh-grade students how each skill she's teaching them now will pay off in college.  "If I knew this in seventh grade," she tells them, "I would have had it easier down the road." "

Monday, April 13, 2009

Math tips

Math is a tough subject.  It is hard to fall in love with a fraction like you do a good novel.  So it is important to find strategies that will engage your students effectively.  Try some of the following from an article in the March/April 2009 Scholastic Instructor magazine:

CHOOSE GAMES THAT ARE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL STUDENTS. With Four Strikes and You're Out, for example, I used addition problems that I knew all of the children could solve. When the math is accessible, students can focus on learning how to play.
Play cooperatively and competitively. Cooperative games foster communication and classroom unity. Competitive games help students test their skills, take risks, and learn to be graceful winners and losers.

. Games that combine strategic thinking with an element of chance are especially effective for providing practice and promoting thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. The chance aspect—rolling a number cube or using a spinner—helps level the playing field and makes it possible for students of varying abilities to enjoy playing together. 

TEACH THE GAME TO THE ENTIRE CLASS AT THE SAME TIME. Play sample games as many times as needed to resolve any confusion before expecting students to be successful independently. 

START A MATH GAMES CHART. Add the name of each game as you teach it. This creates a repertoire of independent math activities that you have approved and that are accessible to all. When students have extra time, direct them to the chart for an activity. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Promoting Positive Peer Pressure

Promoting A Climate of Positive Peer Pressure
This page contains ideas that bring about cooperation on the part of your class and promote "positive peer pressure" (students motivating others to behave appropriately). 

Devise a system of group rewards

1st way: 

 Use a kitchen timer (the type on which you twist the dial to a certain time interval and a bell sounds when it finishes the timing).  Tell the students that you will be evaluating their behavior at the very moment that the bell sounds.  Set the timer for any time between one minute and twenty minutes (shorter times for classes that misbehave more often).  Do not let the students see the timer.  You want the sounding of the bell to be a surprise.  In this way, they are never sure when the "ding" will occur, and must stay on task and behave well at all times for fear that they might be off task or misbehaving when the bell sounds.

Upon hearing the bell, assess the behavior of the youngsters at that very moment.  You can give each well behaved, on-task student (when the bell sounded) a point toward some prize, or give the whole group zero to 3 points depending on the percentage of students who were attentive, compliant, hardworking, and otherwise well behaved.  A predetermined prize/priviledge is earned when the group attains a certain preset number of points (make the amount to be earned a low total at first to give them success and encourage more compliance). 

2nd way: 
  When the bell sounds, evaluate the group's behavior during the interval between bells.  Award 0-3 points depending on their performance during that time period. 

3rd way: 
    Use two kitchen timers set randomly.  Have two different types so that the sounds of the bells are different.  Use one to assess group behavior at the very instant that the bell rings.  Use the other timer to assess behavior between bells.  This double bell procedure provides double the incentive to behave well. 

4th way: 
    Obtain a jelly jar and a large bag of marbles.  Drop a marble into the jar whenever your class pleases you.  Drop marbles when they are attending well, being helpful and polite, after having walked quietly in the hallway, etc.  When you can run a ruler across the top of the jar and knock a marble onto the floor, your class has earned a predetermined prize or priviledge.  Increase the size of the jar as the year progresses until you are trying to fill one of those big pickle jars from the cafeteria. 

5th way: 
    Obtain a scale and some light weights (e.g., washers, bottle caps).  Designate one side of the scale to be for the recognition of positive behavior.  Designate the other side to be for emphasizing your disappointment with the group.  Students attempt to keep the scale in balance or weighted to the positive side.  Weights can be added spontaneously (remember to focus on the positive), or whenever a bell sounds or period/activity is nearly over. 

Please visit for the original article and more information on behavior management strategies.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

20 Simple Ways to Calm A Child

The following information was found on page 5 of the Spring 2009 School Specialty Sensory, Learning & Behavior Solutions Integrations catalog, written by Miss Sue and Team.

  1. Soften the lights.
  2. Bring the child to a less busy room.
  3. Have the child face a simple wall.
  4. Keep a "chill-out" space always available..know the signs before someone needs it.
  5. Be aware of temperature and make sure the child hasn't over-heated. If necessary, turn on a fan, remove a sweater, etc.
  6. Provide soft, slow, rhythmic humming, song, or music (no words), or metronome.
  7. Repeat an affirmation rhythmically, such as, "It'll be okay, it'll be okay, it'll be okay..." (no other talking on ANYONE's part until everyone is calm.
  8. Dampen extraneous noises by closing the door or putting headphones on the child and providing calming music.
  9. "Swaddle" by wrapping the child in a blanket.
  10. Rub or rhythmically pat the back firmly.
  11. Have child apply pressure by sitting in a bean bag chair.
  12. Have child sit in a rocking chair, bouncy chair, or on a ball chair.
  13. Trampoline, or if not available, jump up and down 10 times.
  14. Wall or chair push-ups.
  15. Offer something to suck on, like a hard candy, or a snack-sized applesauce, pudding, or yogurt to eat through a straw.
  16. Crunchy foods can calm. Try goldfish crackers, pretzel rods, or carrot sticks.
  17. Deep breathing....
  18. Blow whistles and march to music.
  19. Have the child blog bubbles.
  20. Chew on a "chewy".