Sunday, August 25, 2013

Just Whistle While You Work! Staying Positive--a Lesson from Snow White

I had a little discussion with my mentee the other day. She was moaning about school starting again. Beside her was another teenager, also a mentee, so I asked that girl how she felt about school.  She laughed and said she was excited.  Both were minority girls from impoverished backgrounds, and struggling sometimes to keep up in school.  One's glass was half full--the other half empty.  I drew a glass on a piece of paper for my mentee and pointed out the difference between positive talk and negative; I hope she got it but we will revisit this.

It's also something for teachers and staff to keep in mind as we start school tomorrow.  Negativity abounds given poor salaries, removing tenure, removing the pay differential for advanced degrees, cutting assistants, no instructional supply money, mice in the building, mold, and myriad other bothers.  Needless to say, the kids are naive to this, and will be coming into school scrubbed and happy.  I'm going to whistle while I work! And smile, laugh, and enjoy the children--that's why I do what I do.  My glass is actually very full.

When I looked more closely at this video, I was amazed at the parallels to school culture:
  • an overwhelming task
  • a team effort with assigned duties and jobs
  • diverse team members
  • a team leader using positive and gentle directives
  • quantitative results
The overwhelming theme though was 'positive energy'---I don't think Snow White would have been successful here if she had been bemoaning her fate.

Have a good beginning of school!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Collection of Apple-themed Materials (free to browse and download)

Since I've been doing this blog for a while, I now have small collections of themed materials.  One such collection is all about apples.  Each link below goes to a blog post.  Within the post is a link or two that takes you to a free download.  Have fun!!!  Happy Fall!!!

Ten Apples up on Top---printables to go with the book

'Counting apples' book, and 'Let's Make Applesauce' recipe book---download both together.

Ten Apples Smartboard lesson--download free

Way up High in the Apple Tree---printable book

Friday, August 23, 2013

Way up High in the Apple Tree---printable book (free as usual)

On Monday, the kids return--many familiar, some new, and most smiling and happy to be in school.  I'm happy too!

I posted previously about the 'back to school' materials I made.  I'm now moving on to Apples--which is a favorite September theme among the younger set.  Here is my first book---made from Boardmaker to go along with this poem on YouTube. 

 Here are screenshots of the book: 

Title Page

I have included apple icons.  On selected pages, the kids can remove an apple--great for counting and subtracting.

Click here to download the book in Boardmaker.

Click here to download the book in pdf.

entire book in boardmaker.  Print, laminate, bind, velcro, have fun!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hard work becomes easy when your work becomes your play. Never underestimate the value of loving what you do.

Birdwatching in Arizona

This is a quick family update.  One of my twins, Vicki, just graduated with a B.S. in biology.  Her first love is birds, and as you can see in the photos, she watches them everywhere.


She just left for a bird-banding internship on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  
I think she'll be happy there!

Birdwatching--eastern North Carolina

Birdwatching--Presque Isle, Pennsylvania

If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.
Charles Lindbergh

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Embracing Your Past--sponsored by Geocaching

I'm not one to get all teary-eyed about the past--it is what it is. It never really occurred to me to see where my parents or ancestors grew up.  My husband, however, has been doing research and found the house in Steelton, Pennsylvania where my dad was raised.  Since we were traveling through the area, we decided to check it out.  My grandparents and their kids lived in the house here from about 1920 until 1945.  My grandfather worked in the steel industry---back then, thriving.

Grandparents home in Steelton

Alas!  It's being auctioned off!!!

peeking in through the window--if walls could talk!
After finding the house, and taking some pictures, my husband and I wanted to continue our trip out of town.  I plugged in one random geocache into the GPS---it took us here, to Steelton Veteran's Park.  

Steelton Veteran's Park
 Steelton Veteran's Park---my first thought was to just find the cache, a dinky magnetic container; nothing special.   If you don't know what geocaching is, click here

Then I took a look at the list of names of the veterans on the WWII memorial.  I thought to myself that there sure were a lot of Steelton people who died in WWII; then I realized that it was a list of the veterans, most of who survived.

When I looked closely, I found my dad's name.
(Norman Howells) 

 I had no prior knowledge of this park. 

I'm still amazed at how a random selection on a GPS brought me to this site, and am grateful to have been here.   I'm sure that my father would have felt honored to have his name posted. (This is the part for me that brings tears.)


Thursday, August 8, 2013

What Do You Hear at School---printable book with icons, free as usual

I'm adding to my back to school collection with a free book.  I made this on Tarheel Reader, then uploaded it to Google Drive, and tweaked it a bit, adding a page for icons and sentence strip, and a blank page for the kids to generate their own ideas.  I still have a couple of weeks before really starting to work.  How about you? 

These are all screenshots from the book.

I wanted to make a point that AAC use is talking, too!

Click here to download the book and icons.


On a different, grimmer subject, here's another stupid and dangerous bill the NC General Assembly passed.  Just what we need--concealed weapons in cars in a school parking lot, on public playgrounds, and greenways.  Sorry for any of those who are reading this who have other opinions.  These views are my own.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Urban Biking in Toronto

I'm officially on vacation and spending some time in Toronto.  Rather than give you my latest insights about speech therapy, or rant and rave about the stupidity of the North Carolina General Assembly, I thought I would offer some images of urban biking.  Normally, when David and I bike, it's on a beautiful rural rail-to-trail somewhere- far from sirens, bus stops, traffic, and graffiti. Urban trail biking is completely different---in some ways more interesting, and let me experience a city like none of my other middle-aged friends have.
Martin Goodman trail
Don River trail
 We started off on the Don River Trail, and then ended up on the Martin Goodman Trail.  Highlights included seeing the CN tower from all angles, stopping at the Distillery District, biking along the waterfront, crossing bridges, zipping through tunnels, and seeing every type of graffiti imaginable.  I loved it and we logged 30 miles round trip.

It started off looking slightly woodsy--that lasted about 5 minutes.

It's a big city
Distillery District

Distillery District (this looks like a pacifier, don't you think?)

Can you spot the CN tower behind the graffiti?

Over the Don River

How did the painters do this without falling in?

Thirty miles!

 Stay tuned for more!!!!