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

 





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

 





God can be real to your child.

30 10 2014
Clinging to God as a Toddler

Clinging to God as a Toddler

Reaching out to Him as an Adult

Reaching out to Him as an Adult

“What’s wrong, Al?” I asked. The fellow teacher always seemed joyful. Normally, his love for the Lord splashed across his face. God’s peace glistened in his eyes. But not that day.

He checked his mailbox with his shoulders slumped and his head down. As if to hide pain or frustration. Something happened to smother his joy.

Every teacher has one of those days from time to time. A day full of problems. When they’re barraged with a multitude of incomplete assignments, relentless unruly behavior, and unending interruptions.

“I’ll be okay once I get my eyes back on the Lord,” was all Al replied. And he went on his way.

That single sentence was the sermon I needed. His godly advice came in handy when I experienced those kinds of days. Those words helped me adjust my focus when difficult days knocked the joy right out of me.

I’ll be okay once I get my eyes back on the Lord.

Don’t we all experience those days? Days when life gets the better of us. When we can no longer cope. When it becomes impossible to hide the hurt under a painted-on smile.

God, are You there? I need You. I need Your help. Where are You?

No answer. That silent treatment form God is unbearable. What can we do when God seems to be elusive?

We desperately need to know how to find Him. Not just for us. But so we can offer wise advice when our children go through trials.

What’s the secret? It’s no secret, really. Al’s stated it in a way even a young child could understand it. Focus on God instead of the problem. Then the challenges will shrink in light of His greatness and power.

How can we teach children to maintain an eternal focus? There are subtle ways which would instill godly thinking.

When our boys were toddlers, adults would often ask the typical question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I taught them to reply, “More like Jesus.” They learned that God had a purpose for their lives. One they’d discover. No matter what occupation God prepared for them, the goal would always be to become more like Jesus.

Many people ask students in high school and college a similar question. “What’s your major?” A different question could help young adults shift their focus heavenward. “How and where are you going to live out your faith?”

I’m blessed to still have the opportunity to teach education majors at a Christian university (Cairn University). We discuss many scenarios they might encounter out in the field. The students offer solutions to each problem.  Their responses reveal insight into each situation.

Rarely, however, do their answers include God. Seldom do they add, “I’d pray for wisdom to handle the situation,” or, “I’d trust God to provide the resources and guidance.” It’s not that they don’t know the Lord. They’re simply responding the way many of us react to challenges. By handling things first and turning to God as a last resort.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for not seeking You when I need You most. Thank You for being so patient with me. And for being so accessible. Help me turn to You when I’m FIRST confronted with a trial. Teach me to rely on You before going in my own strength. Help me to lean not on my own understanding, but to acknowledge You in all things. How I want to see Your hand in every area of my life. Give me lessons I can pass on to my children. For Your glory and for Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Here’s a challenge:

Does a drama queen live in your house? It could be a toddler who throws temper tantrums. Or a teenager with raging hormones. What could you say or do (during calm times) to help her focus more on the Lord?





Burden Lifted

5 02 2014

Vickis.trees

Can God be found in misery? Sometimes burdens pound us so low we’re too depressed to seek Him. Thankfully, He finds us. When we’re too low to look up, He reaches down. He’ll remind us of His care. Just like what He did for me today.

Countless people are suffering due to the recent storm in the northeast. About half a million people are without electricity in my area. Thanks to the snow-ice-rain storm that struck last night.  Ice-covered roads, littered with downed live wires, have imprisoned residents in their homes.

I surveyed our trees and found only one down. Then I spotted our cluster of Leyland Cypress evergreens. They drooped under the weight of snow.

“Don’t worry; I’ll help you,” I told them. The load of snow on each branch threatened to distort their shapes.

I swatted snow off the first limb. It lifted slowly upward as if to say, “Thank you. That feels much better.”

The second branch responded similarly. Displaying its graceful relief.  The two released branches looked like a picture of praise to God.

Thank You, God, for this symbol of burdens. How I rejoice like this tree when I surrender my worries to You.

My mission continued. One branch didn’t raise its limb when struck. I peered closer to the trunk and investigated.

“What’s holding you down? Oh I see. Your neighbor is weighing you down.”

I understand, Lord. Others can pull me down. People who complain about their aliments entice me to admire my own aches. Tempting me to complain about my multiple sclerosis. I’m grateful for godly friends who, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)”

I aimed my snow scraper brush at the adjacent branch and smacked it. Both boughs floated heavenward.

Branches close to the ground were buried in snow.

Now, Lord You’re showing me how my cares can bury me. They beat me down so low I no longer focus on You. Like days I’m tempted to encase myself in blankets and remain in bed for the day. Without trusting You to help me serve others.

The whacks each branch received restored new life.

Thank You, Jesus, for bearing my burden on the cross. And for easing my daily burdens. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19)”

I finished the job; grateful God provided the strength and the lesson.

Ask God to reveal His presence to you today. Then watch and listen!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)”

Dear Father, Help me throw off everything that hinders my walk with you. Remind me of Your invitation to, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)”    In Jesus’ name, Amen

Has God surprised you with His presence? Did He speak to you during the busyness of your day?





Understanding Attention

4 01 2014

parent.teacher.ADHD.best.conf

“He has trouble paying attention.” That’s what every teacher told us throughout our son’s school career. As if we didn’t notice.

Diagnosed at age 5 with ADHD, Chris demonstrated classic signs of ADHD: impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization…  Back then, 28 yrs. ago, most people didn’t know about ADHD.  However, I was very familiar with the disorder. My training and experience teaching students in special education provided insight.

You can just imagine how it frustrated me when educators reported the obvious about Chris. Especially in such vague terms. “He has trouble paying attention.” That didn’t tell me anything concrete or helpful.

When I became a regular classroom teacher, I vowed to do a better job reporting information to parents of kids with ADHD. They deserved to know what I observed, how much redirection was required to keep the student on task, etc.

So I developed a rubric. You may find it useful. When you click on the link below, you’ll find a chart. Start with the first column and pinpoint precisely where a student falls. Write the date in the box that best describes the student’s behavior. Do the same for all the other columns.

After several months, repeat the process to update the information.

Attention Rubric





Some Simple Strategies with Big Benefits

24 09 2013

easy

Are you settling into the new school year (a-h-h-h), or are you THRUSTING into the new school year? Back on the treadmill?

Is this your schedule?

Get the kids up, fed, and dressed. Manage to load them into the van and arrive at school on time. Whew! Rush to work and put in a whole day. Hustle out to your car. Hurry to school to pick up the kids. Have a “meaningful” conversation about their day while speeding to after-school sports practices. Drop them off. Swing by to pick up food for dinner. Dodge slow-moving shoppers in the market. Race your shopping cart through the parking lot. Shove the bags in the van. Shoot back to the field to pick up the kids. Head home.

Instruct the troops, “Wash your hands. Change. Eat your snack. Do your homework.”

Get bombarded with questions about homework while trying to make dinner.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a collection of easy-to-implement strategies? Here’s a collection of my favorite ones.

Math Difficulties: Pre-teach the upcoming chapter. Often parents and tutors devote time to re-teaching concepts and skills a child hasn’t mastered. That’s like playing a catch-up game … a game the child can’t win. Instead, go to the chapter the teacher will be teaching next and introduce the concepts. When your child encounters them in school, s/he will be more confident. Maybe even confident enough to volunteer answers. The lesson will be a review. Your child will be more engaged. The teacher will begin to view your child as successful.

Reading Comprehension Difficulties: Reciprocal Questioning is a strategy that elevates a child’s attention to content while reading. Usually after a child reads a story, the adult asks questions. This is the reverse of what’s done during a typical review. In this case, the child thinks of questions s/he will ask you about the story. While reading the story, the child can write down questions or dictate them to you (stopping as s/he thinks of each question). After the story or a passage is read, the child asks you each question. Its fun to answer some of the incorrectly so the child can correct you (and provide the correct answer).

Homework Completion: Have the child predict how long it will take to complete each assignment. Often students can’t even begin their homework because the assignments loom so large in their minds. The task seems just too monumental to tackle. Why begin? Predicting how long each will take makes the job seem bearable. This seems like a simple strategy. But this approach works even with teens who have a learning disability. Optional: It’s fun to have the child use a timer to see how close s/he came to each prediction.

Behavior Management: A fresh perspective of the child can drastically improve behavior. It’s very motivating to a child when a respected adult believes in them. I once taught a second grader, Billy, who had ADHD. He struggled to pay attention, seemed hopelessly disorganized, interrupted often in class, and got in trouble regularly during recess. Each day numerous students told on the student for an assortment of offenses. Occasionally, his classmates compassionately asked for prayer for him (in our Christian school). Billy’s difficulties were no secret to anyone.

One day, out of desperation, I asked my students, “Has anyone else noticed Billy has improved his behavior?”

Billy’s eyes widened as big as saucers. He wondered how he’d miss such an accomplishment. My students responded with a deafening silence.

My inquiry wasn’t based on evidence of any improvement. I simply wanted to change the students’ expectations of Billy.

“No one? Well, if anyone does notice his improvement please tell me.”

Soon after, students began to report improved behavior. Why? Billy had renewed hope. His classmates began to watch for Billy’s good behavior (instead of studying him for any misbehavior).

Here’s the basis for the strategy:

Use the power to influence through the artful application of positive suggestion.  You can influence (but not control) what your students believe about themselves, you, the topic, learning, etc.  In fact, you already influence them in those areas.  You simply may have underestimated the power of that influence.  You could say, ‘This upcoming chapter is the hardest in the book, so everyone bear down!’ Or, you could say, ‘This upcoming chapter is my favorite, so get ready for a great experience.’  As an authority figure, the teacher carries the potential for vast influence.  It is common to have had a teacher tell us that we were ‘bad’ in math or spelling or writing.  Naturally, that subject became nearly impossible to master.  Such a bias can be carried with a student for the rest of their learning life.

From Brain-Based Learning Revised Edition  –  The New Science of Teaching and Training  by Eric Jensen

“Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) established that positive expectations tend to yield positive results and negative expectations yield negative results. 

They call this the Pygmalion effect or the self-fulfilling prophecy.”

From The Owner’s Manual for the Brain – Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research by Pierce J. Howard, Ph. D.





Living for Self or Others

9 09 2013

mapleseed

Do you wish you could live life more passionately? To have enough energy to serve others. To teach your kids by example how to have a servant’s heart. So they won’t be self-centered, but yearn to help others.  This story may help you begin a discussion with your child about supporting others instead of satisfying self.

 A Good-Enough Life

Once upon a time a tiny maple seed fell from a towering maple tree.  It fell onto a leaf floating down a stream.  When the wind blew, the tiny maple seed clung to the leaf and held on tightly.  It was a good-enough life for the maple seed.

Birds called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  We will have a place to build our nests.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

A squirrel called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  I will have a home to build my nest.  I will have branches to climb.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

Some children called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  We will have fun climbing your branches.  We can tie a swing from your branch.

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

Some adults walked by and called out to the maple seed, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.  We will have shade for resting when we rest.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

A chef went in search of a maple tree.  He spotted the maple seed and said, “Stop clinging to the leaf.  Let the wind blow you to good soil.  There you can grow into a tall maple tree.   I will have some maple syrup for the pancakes.”

But the tiny maple seed said, “I’m struggling just to float along.  This life is good enough for me.”

The tiny maple seed started to realize there could be more to his life.  He began to think he did not have a good-enough life.  It was not good enough just to float through life clinging to the leaf.  He started to think of everyone he could help by simply letting go of the leaf.  If he let the wind blow him to good soil, he could grow to be a tall maple tree.

A passion grew in him greater than any tall tree.  He was determined to grow branches for the birds, squirrel, and children.  A desire grew in him to help the adults have their shade and to help the chef get his maple syrup.  He let go of the leaf.  The wind blew him to good soil.  His dream of helping others became a reality.

*****************

Are you floating along hanging on for dear life?  Are you living a good-enough life?  Could there be more?  Could you have a greater purpose?  Could you impact the lives of others for God’s kingdom and for His glory?

We all share the passion of raising godly children.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

We all share the mission to share the gospel.

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” Mark 16:15

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”   Ephesians 3:8

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…”  2 Corinthians 5:20

We all share a love for the Lord.  Loving God is not only a command, but our delight.

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  Matthew 22:37   (Deuteronomy 6:5)

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5:5

“Praise the Lord!  I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.”  Psalm 111:1

Our love for God spurs us on to action.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  John 14:15

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:11

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”  1 John 3:18

How will you show God’s love to others?  What will be your passion, your burden, your life’s mission?  Will you be a voice for the voiceless, a support for the vulnerable, a help for the hurting?

We’ve all been given gifts which are to be used.

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…”  Romans 12:4-6

In that passage of Romans (Romans 12:4-15) many examples are given.  Some include: teaching (verse7), lead (verse 8), distributing to the needs of the saints (verse 13), and being given to hospitality (verse 13).

Using your spiritual gift will equip the saints and edify other believers.

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift…And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”  Ephesians 4:7, 11-12

The gift God has given you will become your passion.

Perhaps you have a burden for others, but limited time.  You could be a faithful prayer warrior.  Moses interceded for a multitude of God’s people and God changed His mind.   (Exodus 32:9-14)  Your prayers for others can make a difference.

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you…” Colossians 1:9a

“.. .pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”   James 5:16-18

Maybe like Nehemiah you have a passion to encourage others.

“And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses… Therefore, wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.’”   Nehemiah 4:14, 20

Perhaps you have a passion to comfort others and show compassion.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”    2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Maybe you have a passion to do good works by helping those in need (visiting the sick, helping the poor, etc.).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:10

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”   Titus 3:8

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’  Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  James 2:18, 26

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”  1 John 3:18

Have you considered sharing your talents to bring the joy of the Lord into the lives of others?

“And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”   1 Samuel 16:23

“For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”   Philemon 7

You may have a heart for the unlovely, lonely, or those rejected or ignored by others (the elderly, the handicapped, the homeless, the child without parents, the student who is unmercifully teased by others).  Ministering to them could be your passion.

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”   Matthew 25:37-40

If you think you have nothing to offer the Lord, think again.  Scripture tells us that weaker members have an important purpose.

“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’  No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty.”  1 Corinthians 12:11-23

What legacy will you leave to your children?  You can teach your children a powerful lesson simply by living your passion.