* Suddenly, I really need to…

Edit!  Here’s my special ed take-away of Shirley McClain’s excellent post, 8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing.  If you didn’t read the post, it’s still there.  McClain’s suggestions include:

#1.  Cautious use of “suddenly.”  I do encourage the use of adverbs when kids write blah sentences.  In fact, I think kids should learn the parts of speech so they can better analyze their writing.  Knowing the parts of speech helps kids categorize words.  For those dyslexic kids who say, “I put the thing on the thing,” having a mental folder with parts of speech can smooth fluency in speaking and writing.

#2.  Avoiding list-like sentences connected by “then.”  I can only imagine how kids must feel when they spend kindergarten (and sometimes first grade) learning to use “then,” only to discover it’s a four-letter word.  I’m being facetious, but this is a dilemma when teaching struggling writers.  They often do best with a formula to follow, but can get stuck at that level if they aren’t provided practice with other transition words.  Knowing parts of speech (see #1) can help when they need to vary sentence structure.

#3. Rare use of “in order to.”  This one is easy.  I have yet to work with a kid who uses that phrase.  I suspect it starts popping up in middle school at the earliest.

#4. Stop using “very” and “really.”  Really?  I use these two very often.   It wouldn’t surprise me to scan all my posts for the word really….  OK.  I used “really” in 71 posts.  I used “very” in 242 posts!  That’s very surprising to me, because I really thought it would be the other way around.  I am very much mistaken.  So thank you, Ms. McClain, for giving me 313 posts to edit.  Not.  Obviously and suddenly, I realize why all my students sprinkle their sentences with really and very.  Whatever.

I’m worn out.  I’ll tackle the last 4 words “to seek and destroy” tomorrow.  I really hope you’ll read it!

* Color your world/eyeballs desert sand

Sand is a perfect medium for demonstrating the effects of erosion.  Get clean sand from a craft store.  Pour the sand into a plastic bin and have fun with water and wind.  This photo shows wind blowing onto a beach through a straw and whipping grains of sand into my eyes.  Don’t try this at home.



* Color your world charitable cornflower

When I was a kid, I thought cornflower was a yellowish color, of course.  You did too, right?  That’s why these flowers (and wings, etc.) seem perfect to me, a blend of the right color and my lingering misconception.  This is a part of the chapel at Stanford University.  I looked up the word Charity, as in “Faith, Hope, and ….”  It’s archaic but I like it.


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* Time will tell

This post is about my whacked sense of time, as well as the importance of timing in teaching.  Timing and pacing are key to a successful lesson.  There are some teachers who don’t look at the clock as often as I do, but I’m not checking the time to see when the lesson’s over.  I am trying to make sure I stay on track.  I usually plan my lessons with small chunks of different activities.  That reduces fatigue and boredom, allows kids the opportunity to absorb information, and provides time to move around.  It’s a better match for kids who are very active, hate school work, and must work extra hard (with repetition) to overcome dyslexia.  I do tend to get so involved in the lesson that I lose track of time, even though my lesson plans indicate how long I will spend on each segment.  Oops!

So what kind of clock do I prefer?  Analog, the dinosaur of clocks, for beginning clock watchers.  Why?  The significance of the number 12 in our non-metric systems of measurement, the vocabulary of quarters, sets of 15, fractional parts of a whole, and especially the visual relationship of seconds, minutes, and hours.  Like cursive handwriting, though, who uses analog clocks in everyday life?  And I agree that all of those concepts can be taught through other means, but where’s the fun in that?


I have been using a cheapo analog clock but its distinct tick-tock was seriously distracting to a student.  So I purchased another cheapo clock, this time digital, since we had already worked that analog through every skill I could think of.  The cheapo digital lasted about 4 seconds after I installed the batteries.  The clerk asked me if I wanted to exchange it with a twin when I returned the defunct model.  Seriously?  I went online and paid more for another digital clock.  This one had bells and whistles like temp and days of the week.  The instructions were very clear: set the year/ date, and the correct day of the week will pop up.  Well, the day has always been two days behind!  No one is looking except for me, but since I’m always a bit confused about the day anyway….  So I reset the clock several times and gave it a couple of good knocks, but to no avail.  Then late last night, when I wasn’t thinking about ANYTHING, I could see myself setting that clock.  I had punched in 2014!  Oh dear, I wish I had picked 2015.  I’m not sure what excuse I can make for selecting 2014, except that it was a very good year.

* Color Your World copper-fly

This butterfly, a native of the Costa Rica rainforest, was seemingly unaware of his beauty.  Maybe that’s why he seemed comfortable with all of us gawking and snapping pictures.  Gorgeous coppery creature!  You know I wanted to touch him, right?

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* When Harry met Chelsea by Chelsea Freund

Oh my! This is one of the sweetest, funniest, and saddest posts I’ve read in a while. The author is truly hilarious while living through enough difficulties that would slay a lesser woman. If you are a unicorn, please send her a message! You MUST read it all!

* When focus is a problem in piano class

From across the world, Eliza points out that every child who seems unfocused does not have an attention disorder. Interest level, the teacher’s instructional style, and overall lifestyle can create situations that make kids zone out- or bounce off the walls. Eliza’s kids are lucky to have her!