"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar." ---Helen Keller

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An American Hero

Me...at age 8 and 1/2 ... July 1969.

That is me in July of 1969...the same month Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the surface of the Moon. I was completely and totally captivated by the event. 

We lost a great American hero today! I am sure much will be said about Mr. Armstrong in the upcoming days, so I thought I would share my take on him too.

I found myself as a young adult thinking... why didn't he talk more, do interviews, be more visible in public? Age has left me looking at those ideas from a different prospective. I have come to appreciate the way he handled the media and the attention that could have been lavished on him. He treated something that was an absolute marvelous feat of mankind with humbleness, something not seen too much these days. I believe he realized how much had gone into the trip to the moon, that it was not the work of one man, but the hard work of countless people who came together for an incredible mission. I like that he shunned the spotlight, and kept it from being about one man, but about the incredible adventure and hard work of many.

I am sad today that it seems our country has lost that "spirit of innovation" and "can do attitude" that made America a proud nation. The world stopped one day in July of 1969 and looked at something greater than just one person. They saw what we can accomplish when we work as a team with a goal in mind. Wouldn't it be great if we could recapture that attitude of exploration. We have been a country of countless "pathfinders" before us. Let us remember Neil Armstrong today and get back to making this country great.

Ronald Reagen said..." There's no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." 

Teachers, let us work hard to inspire this young generation to greatness. We are leaving them with some difficult tasks ahead, so it is our obligation to give them a spirit of hope.

A few years ago, I read First Man by James R. Hansen. It is probably in my top 5 favorite books. If you are anywhere close to the space nerd I am, it is worth your time.

Ironically, I am waiting on a possible hurricane. That same year in August of 1969, Hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast. Those are two events and the images that are emblazoned on my mind. I do sincerely history chooses not to repeat itself with the hurricane.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Go Away Isaac!

Hopefully next week, we will be talking about hurricanes visiting somewhere else (not that I am wishing troubles on anyone else). I just don't want to have to deal with it myself...Just sayin...

Either way, as the winds pick up, and everyone is talking about it, just thought I would throw out a couple of places to go for information about hurricanes.

You may remember this post on the website called Weather Wiz Kids. It is great place for any weather related items. The author of this website also has another outstanding website called Exploring Weather. You might want to check it out.

What a great place we live. Vacation Paradise!!!! until a storm approaches:( Then I am on edge!!! Everyone be safe and be prepared.

Clouds as I left Eglin the other day. Kinda scary looking...huh?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Optimum Learning Environment

Much brain research has been done on how our environment affects our feelings, behavior, health, etc. The classroom is no different. The classroom decor/look has certainly changed since I first started teaching, some of which has been for the better, but maybe not all (possibly a little bit cluttered these days). As teachers, we spend so much of our time there these days, that it is quite natural to desire to make it little more like home and to reflect our personalities.

I read a wonderful book last spring by Eric Jensen. He has done so much in the way of brain research and how it affects learning. The book is titled Environments for Learning. It is only about 50 pages, but full of interesting tidbits on how the classroom environment affects the learning process.

It begins with what I believe to be very true. When we walk into a room, whether consiously or unconsiously, we look around, listen, breathe, and form judgements about the environment.

It is a great read, and I will not do it justice with this post, but I thought I would share a few tidbits that I picked up while reading. I will arrange them by the senses.


One of the first things we notice when entering a room is the temperature.

  • 68 to 72 degrees Farenheit is the range of comfortable temperatures.
  • 70 degrees F. is ideal for most learning situations where optimal focus and concentration is required.
  • reading comprehension declines when temperatures rise above 74.
  • math comprehension declines above 77.
  • up to a point the cooler the brain the more cognitively sharp you are.



  • Sunlight enhances mood (that would be me...I can't stand being in a room with no windows.UGH!!!)
  • Bright natural sunlight is best. Take them on a walk if you are in one those windowless rooms. TRUST ME on that one. I am that kid.
  • Sunlit rooms produced 26% higher reading test scores in one study.


  • Best color for classroom is sky-blue tinged with red for thoughtful study, but also alertness.
  • Add color to presentations and visual display for better recall.


  • Post visuals on side walls above eye level. Don't purposely draw attention to them, but allow students to discover them.
  • The week before students are ready to learn a new concept, post the wall display featuring a very simple rule about it. It will subconsciously embed and build foundation. How often have we thought about this? We put things up there for all year. It might be interesting to try it!!!
  • The front of room should be kept neat and simple.


  • Quiet when taking exams or mental tasks are required.
  •  Music should be used purposely and judiciously. No more than 5 - 20% of a class period.

Smell, Taste, and Breathing

  • Plants not only make the air cleaner, but they enhance the environment.
  • 4-9 plants per square foot.
  • Keep the kids hydrated.

I truly didn't scratch the surface for all the cool facts Eric Jensen touched on, but it is something to think about when we look around our rooms. Are we providing an environment conducive to learning? There are some things you can't change, such as uncomfortable chairs, but you can add a plant.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Help them believe!!!

It is our duty to inspire the next generation. We have to show them America is still a place for opportunity and ingenuity.

Look at this video if you need proof that we still have what it takes.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Get Inspired!

I wish I had written this post. It is a must read for the coming school year! http://venspired.com/?p=3221


Reread the last two paragraphs when the talk of common core, testing, or the stress of too much at one time hits... and remember to just teach and love on those kids.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Classification Lesson with Shoes & more...

Here is an idea for teaching how scientists classify living things. Scientists classify living things into 5 kingdoms; animal, plant, fungi, protist, and monera.  They try to group them according to like characteristics. As an opening to the lesson, you could do a demonstration using shoes. Bring in a variety of shoes from your family. Display them at the front and then have students create ways to categorize the shoes. You can have them start with something that will make large groups such as dressy vs. active wear or closed-toe vs. open-toe. Then have them get creative with their groupings, but always justifying what they have in common.

Here is a sample of what you could bring...

You could look for things such as, what is their purpose; colors, sandals, athletic shoes, and the list could go on and on. I am sure they will discover that some shoes could fit in both categories, but just like those animals and plants one group wins out over the other. You could have them see that some categories would contain more shoes than others. The possibilities to this lesson are endless. It is good way to get them thinking though, so that when they look at the classification chart in their textbooks they do just more than glance at it.

MORE to do...

Since you took the trouble to bring the shoes in, you could use them for a reading lesson on choosing a good fit book.  The link below is to a lesson done by the 2 Sisters with the Daily 5. Shoes are a perfect way to illustrate choosing a good fit book as well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Yes! Curiosity Landed

Touchdown spectacular!!! Curiosity has landed on Mars after 36 weeks of traveling. It began sending pictures two hours after landing.

NASA administrator, Charles Bolden,  said, "The wheels Of Curioisity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars."

I am so excited. Maybe my dreams of seeing someone on Mars in my lifetime still have a chance. It definitely shows the American spirit of innovation that I have been worried about.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Two really good ideas for a new year

I know we are all gearing back up looking and thinking for all those new ideas. Summer is wonderful, because it allows us to reflect on things we want to improve on from the previous year. I have been blog stalking and reading! I thought I would share two ideas that I came across, although they aren't just science related.

The  2 Sisters have a new electronic Pensieve. It looks fabulous. I don't know how much longer you can look at it so hop over and see a preview of it. http://www.thedailycafe.com/public/2367.cfm If I were still teaching reading I would love that!!! On that note, I will sharing very soon some cool apps that I found useful.

The second really cool idea came from The Clutter Free Classroom. I love this site. She always has great room ideas with lots of photos. She has recently gotten rid of all her store bought posters. I nearly died last year just trying to pack up my classroom from nearly 30 years of stuff. I had an unbelievable emotional attachment to my stuff. She made some really good points in the  post called...."anchor chart planning and management (teacher tip #20). One of which was that she doesn't just act on something because someone says latest research. I posted earlier this summer on being open to try new things here, but I always like to try and think for myself. Through her personal experience in the classroom she has found that the kids pay no attention to those posters that we put up all year. They tune in more to the charts made in class together. I loved that someone else was like me on this. I just have to have NEAT!!! She had an idea to solve what she calls "the messy problem" when making anchor charts. She talks about rough drafts vs. publishing. At the end she writes rough draft on the chart they made together, then asks how it could be made to look nice enough to publish. Then she can redo it and I so would do that:)

Always looking for new things like a good pathfinder...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Curiosity Set to Land

Curiosity is set to land on Mars Monday, August 6th. Here are some interesting facts about the Rover.

  • It is part of a long term robotic exploration of the "Red Planet". 
  • Its size is coined a "mini-Cooper". It is much bigger than the Sojourner that landed in 1997. Sojourner was part of the Pathfinder mission:) It was about the size of a microwave oven. Curiosity is twice as long and four times heavier than Spirit and Opportunity that landed in 2004.
  • Curiosity will land near the foot of a mountain taller than Pike's Peak.
  • It will use tools to examine rocks, soil, and the atmosphere. It has cameras to study things far off and to study items that it comes in contact with. There are also tools that will analyze the composition of rock and soil samples.
  • As the Curiosity lands, a parachute will deploy to slow its descent, then a rocket-powered backpack will lower the rover on a tether during its final moments. This is different from previous landings where they used airbags. Curiosity is much heavier, so they had to make adjustments for the heavier object.
Watching and waiting with Curiosity!!!