Monday, May 30, 2016

Six Years Ago Today

Stroke

Six years ago today, I had a life changing event.  It wasn’t necessarily a good one, but it changed my life forever.

On May 29, 2010, I had a stroke.

Luckily, I look fine. You'd never know just by looking at me.

Although, honestly, sometimes I think if I were somewhat maimed or deformed, people might be a tad more compassionate. There are actually people who think I’m just lazy and using the stroke as an excuse.

I much prefer to think of myself as a fighter. Or a survivor.

The stroke affected the left side of my body. You know that “pins and needles” feeling you get when you fall asleep on your arm? That’s what I feel ALL THE TIME. When I first had the stroke, it was my entire left side. I could actually draw a line down the middle of my face. Luckily, it has subsided some, but it’s still there. I have some “hot spots": my left elbow and my left knee, where the “pins and needles” feelings are the most intense.

My left side is super sensitive now. If you brush against my left side, it’s extremely uncomfortable for me. There are many of those “touchy-feely” types that have to touch people when they talk to them. In an effort to be polite, I try not to scream, but honestly, once someone has touched my left side, all I can concentrate on is NOT screaming, and I’ve lost pretty much everything they’ve said to me.

After the stroke, I went to Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy for several months, in an effort to get certain muscles working again. We made a little progress, but there are parts that will never work again like they used to.

My left hand is unable to grip things like it used to. I can hold things for a short time, but it takes a good deal of concentration, and it starts to hurt real fast. Blow drying my hair, putting on necklaces, or going through a drive through are some of the things that are very difficult now.

I can’t lift much anymore because of weakened shoulder muscles.

I can walk just fine, but I have trouble with balance because of weak core muscles. If I walk on soft or uneven turf, or have to turn quickly, I will lose my balance. Unfortunately, when I lose my balance, I look like I've had too much to drink. It's very embarrassing, not to mention all the bruises I wear all the time!

The hardest effect from the stroke has been the constant fatigue.

Before the stroke, I used to perform in a lot of musical theatre productions. We had rehearsals several times a week, often with very physical demands. I also was in an adult tap dance group. I was busy often after school, going from one rehearsal to another performance, both on weekdays and weekends. That was my release at the end of the school day. It’s what I loved to do for myself.

Since the stroke, I have trouble getting through the school day. I wouldn’t dare make any plans for after school. When I’m done with my daily school work, I go straight home to rest and relax.

I use weekends to catch up on my resting.

Want to read a good explanation of the fatigue? Google “The Spoon Theory” at http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/category/the-spoon-theory  

I am certainly grateful that I never hesitated to enjoy life when I had the opportunities.

Luckily, I have a job I love, since I really don't do much else besides my job.

I have a wonderful man in my life who is very understanding of how tired I get.

And I found a hobby I can do sitting down: blogging!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning?

Reading Comprehension for Active Learners

It's getting close to the end of the school year, but we're expected to keep teaching. How can we pull this off, when those kiddos just can't sit still any longer?

Clearly, the answer is... have them learn standing up!

I've got a very active group of kids this year, so we've been learning in a variety of positions all year!

Here are some ways we can keep kids moving as part of their moving:

1. Have them move as part of the learning. For example, when we learn to spell a new word, the kids "dance" the words. For each tall letter, we stand tall with our hands in the air. For each medium sized letter, we put our hands on our hips. For the letters that go below the baseline, we squat with our hands on the floor. A couple of my students really enjoy the "dance" concept, and have added a hip movement as we spell and dance out the words.  I'm all for making it more fun!

2. Brain breaks! Sometimes children need a break FROM the learning, and that's fine. But it's possible to add a physical break that's also part of the learning! For example, in math, the children could do "wall push ups" while counting by fives... or reciting math facts. When sharing a story with the children, the children can take a walk as if they were one of the characters in the story. 

Here's a little freebie with some Social Studies and Science related Brain Breaks!
Freebie


3. Scoot! Scoot is an active game where children move from desk to desk answering questions or performing tasks. It's fun to play any time of year, but I find it particularly necessary as we get to those last few weeks of school. Here's a blog post explaining how to play Scoot.

Bright Idea

Keeping these ideas in mind, I've made a couple of new resources! Each resource has an informational text with 10 text based questions, 4 text based sketches for drawing, and 6 text related brain breaks. These are perfect for Scoot, or simply as task cards for those kiddos that need to move. 
Click the links below if you want more information!



Keep those kiddos moving!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Organizing the Class Library


I've struggled with keeping my classroom library organized for years.

The kids are in such a hurry when they put books away, the tubs often look like this:

If you look closely, you'll see that not only are the books a mess, but hardly any of them go with the topic Information Books About Sports! Hopefully, the reason they're in such a hurry is because they're excited about the other books! (One can hope!)

What do I do?

I have the kids re-organize the books!

Yep, about once a month, I take about a half hour of my reading time to have the children re-organize the books. 

Yes, as you guessed, at first it's chaos. But once I get them going, it's amazing!

The Benefits:
1. The children learn to organize books.
2. The children have ownership of the book tubs.
3. The children learn the find the author of the books on the cover and on the title page.
4. The children usually find interesting books they didn't realize were in the classroom library!

Plus, the tubs now look like this:

This is a part of our Bright Idea blog post. 
If you like what you see here, don't hesitate to follow me on these social media platforms:




Be sure to explore more bright ideas in the linky below!


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