Leap Year Lesson

24 02 2016

leapyear

The once-in-four-years date is quickly approaching. Here’s a lesson designed to teach the concept and also celebrate leap year. Enjoy!

Leap Year Lesson. 1-3

Leap yr. concept card

 





Winter Surprises

23 01 2016

Sharing the beauty of winter:

Enjoy a shovel-free view of winter from pictures I took and assembled in the “Winter Surprises” video I created:

https://youtu.be/bownpnIV7hE

On a serious note:

Winter Storm Jonas is affecting millions of people. The impact of the storm has taken some by surprise. It’s worse than predicted in certain areas. Please pray for people living near the New Jersey shore. Flooding already seems to be worse than Hurricane Sandy.

When such disasters strike, some wonder Where’s God? I don’t presume to have all the answers, but I would like to share something with you. Today a devotional I wrote was posted on Rest Ministries. Below is an excerpt of that message titled, “Discovering Winter Surprises Despite the Cold.”



I gotta admit; I dread winter. Cleaning snow off our cars exhausts me. One winter, the snowstorms were relentless. I barely had time to recover before another storm hit.

 One storm dumped a foot of snow. It took longer to remove.  I stopped to catch my breath and spotted a scene that took my breath away. The sun glistened off mounds of snow. Mounds that appeared to be topped with whipped cream by God’s own hand.

 That winter surprise propelled me to finish quickly. I jumped in my cleared-off car and set out to do a photo shoot. Some scenes grabbed my attention. Others were discovered by seeking them out. God’s beauty was found when I looked up, focused closer, and studied shadows.   

 We can face the winter seasons in life that way. Isaiah tells us to, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

 Seek God: look up, focus closer, study shadows. He is near.

 





Lessons from Winter

23 01 2016

Chalkboard and Apple

It never ceased to amaze me. Whenever my second graders spotted the first snowflakes, they’d act like it was the first time they were seeing snow. They’d squeal with delight and share gleeful observations. All talking and giggling at the same time.

Early in my career, like most teachers, I would battle to re-establish order and regain attention. Experience taught me I needed a creative solution—a proactive strategy that would embrace the situation.

On days when snow was predicted, I would keep the curtains closed. As soon as I’d hear stirring in nearby classrooms, I’d peek out my window to confirm the unavoidable interruption. Then I’d take control.

“Boys and girls, it has started snowing. I know you’re happy to hear that news. And I’m sure you’re excited. So, here’s what we’re going to do. When I dismiss your group, walk slowly over to the window. Once we’re all assembled by the window, I’ll open the curtains. Then on my signal, you’ll all let your excitement out. Be sure to get it all out so we can continue working.”

NOTE: Out of consideration for neighboring teachers, I’d let them know ahead of time to be prepared for a thunderous cheer of excitement from my students.

Early Dismissal Activity:

Early dismissals created several challenges. Let’s be honest: I dreaded them!

When inclement weather necessitated a mid-day school closing, student reactions would be varied. It would all depend on when the student got called to leave. Cheers would arise from the first students who were set free. Deflated looks would cross the faces of those left behind. I could read their minds:

Great. Those kids get to go home and play in the snow. I’m left here to do work!

I probably could read their minds because I joined them in their sentiments.

The first student dismissal announcement would signal the end of my preplanned lessons. I couldn’t cover new material with a dwindling class count.

Like most teachers, I’d plan early-dismissal lessons. I’d engage my students in activities which were structured, somewhat productive, and fun. Competitive math games using jumbo-size attribute blocks were a favorite. Students also enjoyed indoor Spelling Baseball (with words of varying difficulty “thrown out” by me—the pitcher). But the all-time favorite activity was a class debate.

Details for a Class Debate:

  1. Arrange chairs in a horseshoe. At the right end of the horseshoe, put a sign that says “POSITIVE OPINION” and at the opposite end, put a sign that says “NEGATIVE OPINION.”
  2. Announce the topic for the debate, such as winter.
  3. Have students identify their opinion about winter by saying, “Boys and girls, in your own mind decide how you feel about winter. Do you love it, hate it, or don’t care either way? Don’t tell anyone your opinion. Once everyone has decided, you’ll all move slowly to a chair on the horseshoe. You’ll sit somewhere in the horseshoe depending on how you feel about winter. If you love it, you’d sit in a chair near the POSITIVE end. If you hate it, you’d sit in a chair near the NEGATIVE end. If you don’t care either way, or if you like it sometimes and dislike it sometimes, you’d sit in the middle. Remember, the right end signifies strong POSITIVE feelings about winter. The opposite end represents strong NEGATIVE feelings.”
  1. Once all students have made up their minds, have them select a chair in the horseshoe. Students’ seating will represent their opinions about winter.

How the activity progresses:

Have volunteers take turns stating facts to support their opinions.

  1. Start with students sitting on the end signifying strong POSITIVE feelings. Invite them to state a fact.  A volunteer may state, “You can make snowmen.”
  1. Instruct students to think about that fact and decide if that information has persuaded them to change their seat. For example, any student sitting near the NEGATIVE end of the horseshoe might decide to move one or two seats closer to the POSITIVE end of the horseshoe (to signify their modified feelings about winter).
  2. Then give a student at the NEGATIVE end a chance to state a fact. For example a student might state, “You can fall and get hurt.”
  3. Once again, provide a minute to see if any students won the opposite end were persuaded to change their opinion and move to a different seat.
  4. Repeat steps 1-4 as time allows.

NOTES:

Unsurprisingly, most of my second graders would always cluster around the positive end. Playing the devil’s advocate, I’d sit on the opposite end.

Examples of POSITIVE facts:

You can make snowmen, go sledding, and get off from school.

Examples of NEGATIVE facts:

You can get slip and get hurt. Driving on ice is dangerous. You have to shovel.

Benefits of the Debate:

  • This activity prepares students for persuasive writing, where they’d first write their opinion and then provide facts to support their opinion.
  • Students practice reasoning skills.
  • This activity requires good listening skills.

Suggested Topic for a Debate:

Fiction & Nonfiction Books

I used this activity with my second graders to reinforce the concepts of fiction and nonfiction books. Students’ facts highlighted the benefits of each genre, and provided examples of each category of books.





Major Education Law Passed, With Barely a Whisper of Recognition

13 12 2015

whisperbest

Last Thursday, December 10th, a bi-partisan agreement was reached. That alone should have gotten every media’s attention. I almost missed the brief announcement on one news channel. Congress acted to make major improvements to the former education law. Where was the hoopla?

Because I’m sure you want to know…

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was signed into law on January 8, 2002, has been replaced. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed just last Thursday. It replaces NCLB. Both laws grew out of the premise that all students should have equal access to education and needed supports, regardless of race, income, zip code, disability, home language, or background.

The goals of the new bill echo those of NCLB. The intention of ESSA is also to ensure success for every student. To that end, the new bill also focuses on measures to improve poor-performing schools. Students will still take the federally required statewide reading and math exams.

Many of the changes sound exciting. Like more control being given back to state and local governments, limits put on the amount of time students spend on testing, and a required minimum of 30 days for public review of a State’s plan (which would include academic standards).

Clear and Concise Summary:

USA Today’s  article,  “The Every Student Succeeds Act vs. No Child Left Behind: What’s changed?” clearly breaks down the changes. It compares both laws with regard to the following categories:

  • The Problem
  • Testing
  • Common Core
  • Accountability
  • Remedies
  • Spending
  • Bipartisanship

Read for Yourself:

Find all the details of ESSA (Law: S.1177 – Student Success Act) posted on Congress.gov’s website:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1177/text

 





Stand Strong

5 10 2015

active.shooter

Horror has once again invaded our emotions. In the wake of yet another mass shooting, how are Christians to think?  Many of us bowed our heads in prayer.

Just yesterday, there was another online threat. It warned of a similar attack at a college or university in the Philadelphia area that will occur today, October 5th @ 1 PM. In the face of these threats, can we rise up and stand strong? As a resident living in the Philadelphia area and an adjunct professor at a local Christian university, I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to stand strong. With God’s perfect peace that passes understanding, we can remain calm.

Please pray for our first responders who are standing strong to protect universities in our nation—especially those in the Philly area today.

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) know it’s possible to stand strong in the face of terrorizing circumstances. Read my message, “Not again!” to hear my thoughts.

http://mentalillnessmom2mom.net/2015/10/04/not-again/





New School Year: SUPPLY Needed

26 08 2015

New.school.yr.SUPPLY.nded

The approaching new school year means…excitement or apprehension, depending on your circumstances.

Students entering school for the first time eagerly anticipate going to school “like the big kids.”

Students returning to school with mental illness (MI) may worry about “the big kids” who bully.

School pressures can cause concern to any student. But for someone with MI, it can easily increase anxiety. And threaten mental stability.

That’s why moms raising kids with MI can also experience increased anxiety late in August. As the start of school creeps closer, her thoughts might become more consumed with her child’s stability.

What can she do? Where can she turn? Read the rest of this message I posted on my “Mental Illness, Mom 2 Mom” blog:

http://mentalillnessmom2mom.net/2015/08/26/new-school-year-supply-needed/





Lessons for Life…Thinking with Eternity in Mind

20 06 2015

child.hand.Bible  child.Bible

Raising a child means preparing them for… How would you finish that statement?

Parents teach toddlers how to walk, talk, and dress. They show their young children how to play sports, do homework, and behave.

We want them to be happy and healthy. To have successful careers. And become responsible citizens.

Most of all, we care about how they interact with others and that they contribute to society. Efforts are made to improve their self-esteem and to build their character.

Should we be doing more? Can we teach children how to think—to develop Christ-like thinking and to have a biblical worldview? Is it ever too early to start teaching a child to have a biblical worldview?

What in the world is a biblical worldview? I recently attended a conference on Biblical Integration hosted by Cairn University. Information shared at that conference helped me create two documents (below). They may be helpful to you as you raise a child to have a biblical worldview.

One document summarizes information on a chart. The other longer document provides more details. It includes specific examples, strategies, and bible verses presented in ‘kid language’ in the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV).

Click on the document(s) that interests you.

  1. Biblical.Worldview.4.kids.chart
  2. Biblical.Worldview.4.parents (detailed information)

Here are two other resources that may help you in your endeavor to disciple you child:

  1. Bible Verses for young children-behavior
  2. Laying the Foundation with music’ (A Powerpoint presentation I created based Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. Bible verses support the concepts contained in the presentation.)