Sunday, December 16, 2012

Helping Kids Cope with Connecticut Shooting all across the world are in mourning for those children and adults who were brutally shot on Friday, December 14th at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The horrific tragedy is incomprehensible for us as adults, but for school children around the globe who have seen or heard about it, the news may be frightening.  Children may have seen the reports on the news or heard about it through hushed tones as adults speak to one another while trying to make sense.  The thought that their beloved school might not be safe could cause fear, anxiety or confusion or other emotions.

How should teachers and parents help our children cope?  Students will most likely bring up the subject on Monday.  My 10 year olds will no doubt have questions or comments which they will not be afraid to voice.  I might ask the students what they know before discussing anything.  I will reassure them about the safeguards we have in place in our school.  Speaking to them openly but cautiously is suggested by the Sidran Institute.  Check out their suggestions and tips for helping to manage children's fears.  It might also be a good idea to minimize the media coverage at this time.   Children do not need daily reminders about the event.

Other resources that may help:
There is no right or wrong way to deal with such an event. However, the emotional well-being of our students and children is a priority.  Taking our cues from them by finding out what they know, want to know and need to know will help us proceed.  Often times kids just want reassurance and don't need details.  So finding out what they know will help drive the conversation, which may help us avoid sharing too much information.

On a a side note: my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy and I applaud the efforts of the teachers and staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School for their bravery and dedication.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Skype in the Classroom - Sometimes it IS about the Tool!

Being home sick is no longer an excuse to miss school!  Well, okay, it really is.  However, it doesn't mean you have to totally miss out with what is going on in your classroom.  With the right tool you can attend school even from home!

Student skyping from iPad while Ranger Skypes Class
Today, the fourth grade classes at our school participated in a skype call with Yellowstone National Park Ranger, Beth Taylor.  This pre-arranged call coincided with our study of another national park, Yosemite through the story, Letters Home from Yosemite, by Lisa Halvorsen.

For weeks the anticipation of speaking to a real park ranger had been building.  One of my students, a nature and animal lover, asked me almost daily if 'today was the day'.  Well, today was the day, and as it turned out the nature and animal lover was unable to attend school due to an illness.

Her genuine disappointment was evident through her mother's email as she shared her daughter's absence.  This program was something I knew this young lady would love.  So, I contacted her mom and suggested she procure a skype account so that we could skype her daughter at the same time we would be skyping with Ranger Taylor.  (We used two different skype accounts.)

As soon as my colleague received the call from the park ranger, I quickly skyped my student using an iPad.  She answered the call and was ready to go.  I placed the iPad near the laptop that was being used to communicate with the ranger.  Now as all the other students were watching the call projected on the screen at the front of the room, my absent student watched from inside her home. Talk about a front row seat!

Sometimes it is the tool!  Watching the excitement on my pupil's face when she first saw the Ranger was priceless.  (Watching the excitement on the 70+ others in the room was also priceless.)  Without Skype accessing this primary source would not have been available to her.   Just think of a child who is at home for one reason or another.  How could Skype be used to include that student in your daily lessons.  This really is one tool that can be used in so many ways to enhance learning! 

How have you used Skype to enhance the learning of your students?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Liebster Award - Times 2

Last year around this time I was nominated in one of the Edublog Award categories. Although I was a bit disappointed that I was not nominated this year, I was surprised and honored to find that two separate educators selected my blog for the Liebster Award!  The Liebster Award is given by other bloggers to a blogger who has less than 200 followers.  In this way, their blogs will be shared.  Thank you to Stacy at What's New in Room 202 and to Dana at Live Learn Teach for Life!

The rules for the Liebster are as follows:

1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. You must answer the questions that the nominator set for you. 
3. You must create 11 new questions for the people you nominate.
4. You must choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post. 
5. No tag backs to the blog that nominated you, but do leave a comment on their post with the URL of your Liebster post.

Random Things About Me:
  1. Have held only 3 jobs in my whole life! (A store clerk, an insurance assistant & teacher :))
  2. When I visit my folks we always enjoy a cup of hot tea!
  3. Before Thanksgiving I always dress up like a Pilgrim woman at school.
  4. Went skydiving twice (both on the same day)!
  5. My favorite car was my 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo!
  6. Love the smell of my sheets after they have been hanging on the clothes line.
  7. Will someday apply to be the Iditarod Teacher on the Trail!
  8. Pizza is my favorite food - especially Papa Gino's!
  9. Sunday nights I "Hang Out" with several other educators from around the US.
  10. I love musicals!
  11. My favorite thing in the world is spending time with my family!    
Questions from Stacy:
1.  Why did you start blogging? Was introduced to it in Grad School & found it interesting - then took the Edublogs 30 Day Challenge (glad I did too!)
2. How long have you been blogging? Since December 2010
3. What's your favorite post that you've written? No School - All Schools!
4. Any pets? 2 Cats - Striker & SeeSaw
5. Favorite vacation spots? Lake Winnipesauki & Cape Cod
6. Favorite TV show? Modern Family
7. Fears? Small Enclosed Places; Dentist chair
8. Celebrity you resemble most? Ingrid Bergman
9. Favorite quote?A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops. Henry B. Adams
10. Wine or beer? Beer
11. Thoughts on country music? I like it! 

Questions from Dana:
  1. National or International traveler? National
  2. main course or dessert? Main Course
  3. What is the best compliment you've gotten from a student or parent? I became a teacher because of you!
  4. What is your favorite technology to use in the classroom? I love using Skype with my students
  5. ocean or river? Both-but I spend more time on the river!
  6. Apple or PC? Apple all the way!
  7. What is your favorite first day of school activity? Find a Friend Who....
  8. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Carrot Cake
  9. If you could travel anywhere where would you go? Alaska
  10. Favorite quote? A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops. Henry B. Adams
  11. beach or mountains? Mountains
Questions to MY nominees:
  1. Favorite Book?
  2. What is your earliest memory?
  3. Favorite Sound?
  4. Book or eReader?
  5. Last movie you saw at the theater?
  6. If you weren't in education - what would you do?
  7. Can you speak another language? If so, which one?
  8. Favorite subject to teach?
  9. Sports team you like to watch?
  10. A favorite lesson to teach?
  11. Would you rather receive an email or letter in the mail?
Finally, my 11 nominees are:
  1. Mrs. White's Class
  2. Conversations Learning & Growing  
  3. The Connected Teacher
  4. Dare to Care
  5. Chalk & Slate
  6. Math is Elementary 
  7. The Sensibly Savy Teacher
  8. Wired for Technology
  9. wwwatanabe
  10. Sing to Learn
  11. Creation Castle