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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!

How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning?

 Kiddos sure have a hard time sitting for long periods of time, don't they?
 
According to research, they shouldn't! So how can we let them be active, yet keep them learning?
 
How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning? Here are three ideas to keep them moving AND learning, and even having some fun, too!
 

 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 moving as part of their learning:

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 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!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Science-and-Social-Studies-Brain-Breaks-Freebie-1983266?utm_source=blog%20post%20on%20active%20students%20&utm_campaign=s%20and%20ss%20brain%20breaks


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 is a blog post explaining how to play Scoot.

 
How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning? Here are three ideas to keep them moving AND learning, and even having some fun, too!

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. Explore the links below if you want more information!







 Keep those kiddos moving!


How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning? Here are three ideas to keep them moving AND learning, even at the end of the school year!

Organizing the Class Library

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


Organizing the Class Library: Children aren't always careful when it comes to putting books away. Here's an idea to help them learn to be responsible!
 
The kids are in such a hurry when they put books away, the tubs often look like this:
 
Organizing the Class Library: Children aren't always careful when it comes to putting books away. Here's an idea to help them learn to be responsible!

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:
Organizing the Class Library: Children aren't always careful when it comes to putting books away. Here's an idea to help them learn to be responsible!


Help! Teaching is Stressful!

Let's face it. Teaching is stressful. In so many ways! In fact, teaching brings on the worse kind of stress: chronic stress!
 
Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!
 
Taking care of a whole classroom of little ones (or big ones) who all need attention and help is pretty draining!

Not to mention testing.

Not to mention all the other things that we are required to do that has absolutely NOTHING to do with children and teaching!

OK, venting is over. 

But seriously, here are some of the dangers of chronic stress.
Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!

Dangers of Chronic Stress:

1. Chronic stress can cause cravings for sweet foods.
2. Chronic stress leads to excessive fat in the abdominal region.
3. Chronic stress has been linked to back pain. 

4. Chronic stress can make a person more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke.

5. Chronic stress can cause hair loss.
6. Chronic stress can cause an imbalance of microorganisms in the gut, leading to digestive problems.
7. Chronic stress can interfere with sexual function.
8. Chronic stress affects hormone production, causing fatigue and inability to handle stress. 
9. Chronic stress weakens immunity.
10. Chronic stress causes premature aging. 

Sounds scary doesn't it? All is not lost. There are plenty of things you can do about all that stress!
 

Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!

Strategies for Coping with Stress

1. Identify your stressors.
2. Meditate!
3. Spend time with friends!
4. Exercise!
5. Color! (I'm sure you've seen coloring books for adults!)
6. Hug! (Seriously, Science proves this helps!)
7. Experience Nature!
8. Religious rituals!
9. Acupuncture!
10. Aromatherapy!
11. Sing!
12. Dance!
13. Kiss!(See THIS post.)
14. Listen to music!
15.Enjoy a hobby!
16. Chew Gum!
17. Laugh more!(See THIS post.)
18.  Take a break!
19. Get extra sleep!
20. Express your gratitude!

Good luck taking control of your stress!


Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!



Illustrating Homographs to Internalize Learning

 Brain Research tells us that when children illustrate as part of the learning process, it deepens the learning. In fact, integrating any of the arts has this affect on learning!
 
Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
 
My students did this activity on homographs this week: 

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs


My kids were so excited about the double meanings of words, they had a blast!  Plus, they created some awesome illustrations to prove their understanding!  Here are some of them:
 
 
      Change can mean the money that you get back. Or Change can mean if you get your clothes dirty, you could change them!    
Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
Tip can mean a tip of a pencil or the tip at a restaurant.

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
Foot can mean football or foot can mean a foot.

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
Broke can mean I broke up or broke can mean no money.

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
Bat can mean a baseball bat or a bat who flies.

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
Key can mean a house key or key can mean a computer key.

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs

Rose can mean a flower or Rose can mean a girl's name.

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
Well can mean a wishing well or well can mean getting better when you're sick.

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs
March can mean they are marching or March can mean the month of March.

Aren't their drawings amazing? 

They actually thought of meanings of these words that I hadn't come up with! I love when they think of things I don't, in fact, I always love when the kiddos are thinking!

This is a perfect activity to keep in the "sub tub". It requires little preparation (just run off the papers), the kids enjoy it, and it's easy to leave directions for another teacher! 

Plus, these kiddos really know their homographs!

Illustrating Homophones: Children internalize learning by integrating the arts into their daily learning. This post tells about visualizing and illustrating to remember homographs

Shh... We Had Fun!

I have a confession to make. 
I strayed. 
On purpose.
Two days in a row!
 
Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!
 
Yes, folks, rather than sticking to my assigned programs, I strayed and did activities that I knew the children would enjoy.

Did they still learn? Yes! Honestly, there was more learning going on than the typical textbook learning.

Tuesday was Groundhog Day. I had to change my schedule because of another teacher being absent, so I ran with it!

First, I pulled out these Groundhog information stories and questions from my Science and Social Studies for February set.


Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!

I always try to have some comprehension question that can be answered directly from the text, at least one "word work" question, and one or two "beyond the text" questions. (These are my favorite!)
 
Since this reading was challenging for some, we first read as a group. After a discussion, I broke the children into pairs, and they re-read, then answered the questions. I love to have them work in pairs, since they have valuable conversations, especially on the "beyond the text" questions!
 
I told them I'd pay particular attention to question #4. (How would you keep a groundhog from eating things in your garden?) This reflects a problem I had as a gardener: 
The hungry groundhog actually learned to climb the fence I put up!

Their answers were delightful! Although they weren't all realistic, they showed an understanding of the problem, and creativity in their solution! (Plus, almost all kids solved the problem in a non-violent way!)
 
Once they learned about groundhogs, I had them make groundhog puppets and settings, and they created their own skits for Groundhog Day.
Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!
 
This guy put a couple of things to frighten the groundhog: the shadow AND a fox! 

Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!
 
The kiddos were so clever when creating their burrows! Some even designed the inside of the burrow on the other side! (In their reading, they learned a lot about the design of the burrows!)

Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!
 
 
As they performed their skits, they showed creativity, a sense of humor, AND knowledge of groundhogs! You can't get this on a computer test!

The next day was Day 100. 

I've had a little tradition going on that I started about 20 years ago. We go from classroom to classroom singing Day 100 songs!

We have 4 songs we sing. Here's one of them:

Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!

Sorry, the other 3 aren't mine to give you! 
 They kept them in their book boxes and practiced them during reading time. (It was hard to keep them SILENT during independent reading!)

Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!
It was loads of fun going from class to class. They rarely get to go into the other classrooms, and they got to go into almost ALL the classrooms! They saw younger siblings, older siblings, former teachers, neighborhood friends, and loads of other people they know. The teachers, students, and staff were amazing audiences! They welcomed us into their classrooms, listened to the lyrics, and applauded for the children. 
Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!

My favorite part is seeing the smiles on the faces of my former students as they remember Day 100 caroling in past years!

Later that day, we played a couple of games and activities, including Mental Math 100. Up until now the children had only worked with 2 digit numbers, but I had them adding and subtracting 3 digit numbers, and with this game, they were even dealing with 4 digit numbers! And, of course, they were successful!
Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!

Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!


It was a huge boost on their mathematics self esteem, and a whole lot of fun!

It's not actually what the manual told me to do, but it was truly a great learning day. 

Hopefully, I can sneak in a few more of these!

Shh, we had fun! I took a couple of days off from the required curriculum to enjoy learning about Groundhog Day and Day 100! This post offers resource ideas and has a freebie!

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