* Vote!

Sacha Black is hosting her second Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. There are all kinds of categories, from Kindest Blogger to Best Overall.  And much more.  Some of my faves are in the running:  Suzi Speaks, Cee, Ned Hickson, Steve Says, Sue Vincent,  Ronovan HesterSally Croninand Helen Jones.  It will take you 3 minutes or less to find them on the voting page.  There may be others you adore, as well.  Suzi and Cee are at the top of my list!!

  Suzi Speaks!!   best-overall                    Cee!    inspirational





* Batman was here

My dearest widower hired Batman to advise us on our bats-in-the-attic problem.  Remember this photo?


Brave Batman went over to these critters and discovered that there are 24 pregnant females hanging upside down in our attic nursery!  Yikes!  Who knew?  Brave soul that he is, Batman installed a one way door (OUT only) at the attic vent.  After they go out to hunt at night, these ladies will not be able to get back in our house.  My widower noticed that they all leave at some point during the night, so within a week, we should be bat free.  I don’t know where they live when they’re not hanging out in our house, but the thought of 50+ bats in our attic is daunting.  Creepy.  Yucky.

I do appreciate bats for their amazing ability to sleep upside down and for clearing out hordes of mosquitoes.  I just don’t want hundreds of them in our house.  And all child-bearing females?  Makes me wonder where the guys went.

* Lakeshore- More than a catalog

I admit to drooling over Lakeshore catalogs for years, but this teacher supply company has an impressive track record of giving back to the community, providing free online resources for teachers, and offering cool free online resources.  Starting in 1958, Lakeshore was THE go-to store for early childhood materials.  Gradually they have expanded their product line to elementary school and family-based materials.  Their partnership with Head Start focuses on STEM and STEAM activities.

Here are some of my favorite freebies from Lakeshore:

  • Their flashcard maker.  It’s simple to use and download.  I’ve made cards for multiple subjects and games.
  • Their free clipart, calendars, and templates.  Being artistically challenged, I appreciate the free thematic templates and teacher goodies.



  • Free worksheets.  Lakeshore offers free printables for math, language, social studies, science, and seasonal activities, and teacher resources.  I scanned 80+ reading worksheets and found well-created and catchy activities.  The Parent Scavenger Hunt (a way to explore the classroom) and Summer Reading List were terrific.
  • The Lakeshore Blog.  Their blog is full of family and classroom activities, crafts, science, and more.  Yes, they also explain clever ways to use their products, but these are hands-on activities that will appeal to a variety of learners.
  • Summer calendars.  Check out their calendars for kids pre-K through 3rd grade for summer fun ideas.  You might win $500 of products for completing one of three summer challenges!Lakeshore 4

No, I do not get a commission from Lakeshore, but hope you’ll take advantage of their freebies (and quality products) as I have for many years!

* Writing failure, writing success

After my two-part analysis of writing failure experienced by a twice exceptional student with dyslexia, here are some effective writing strategies to consider for older elementary students.

  1.  Address writing anxiety, which alone can derail all other attempts to learn new skills.  Dealing with anxiety is different for each student, but should include a strong validation of the institutional failures that led to the writing crisis.  There were many missed opportunities by the school/teachers/specialists to address a student’s difficulties before they became crippling.
  2.  Continue to work on phonological and spelling weaknesses by tackling multisyllabic words.  Teach spelling rules and patterns.  Teach syllable types, syllabication rules, and meanings of prefixes and suffixes.  Megawords is an excellent program for addressing these skills.
  3. Teach parts of speech if these have not already been addressed.
  4.  Provide ample time for students to learn new vocabulary associated with skill practice in #2 above.  Use crossword puzzles, games, word searches, mad libs, skits, and conversation to add these words to a student’s working vocabulary.
  5.  Teach vocabulary related to character traits.  By the later elementary years and into middle school, students will be required to analyze character development and use appropriate adjectives.  Many of our dyslexic students, despite high IQ’s, are still using descriptive words such as “nice” and “happy.”
  6.  Attack the disconnect between details and main ideas from “both sides.”  Have the student generate (dictate) lists of details and dictate main ideas (topic sentences/blurbs).  Also provide main ideas and require students to generate as many details as possible.  The first approach seems to work best, in my experience.
  7.  Graph or otherwise record increments of growth.  After years of struggle, these kids need to know they are climbing out of the abyss.
  8.  Allow kids to read and write on topics of interest.
  9.  Teach prewriting organizational strategies, such as graphic organizers.  Help kids use as many consistent shortcuts as possible for recording their ideas.  I suggest symbols and simple drawings.
  10.  Keep writing to a minimum until the student is well-equipped with spelling and organizational skills.
  11. Make use of technology, such as talk-to-text features and spell check.   All these kids should be able to use a keyboard efficiently.

It IS possible for students to recover from years of dismal writing experiences.  Supportive parents and teachers are crucial in validating a student’s effort and providing the requisite skills for success.  Who knows?  They may end up writing you a thank you note!


* Bats in the belfry?

My Half-of-Ten Things of Thankful (and thank you, Lizzi, for your inspiration, as always!) explores the wonders of nature.  Specifically, how to keep nature at a safe distance.  You might say, “What’s wrong with nature?” and I would say, “Nothing, as long as it doesn’t crawl in the house.”  I know my place and I wish nature would follow suit.  Here are my HTToT:

  1.  My dearest widower noticed an ominous stain on the outside of the attic screen.  I followed on his heels as we opened the super noisy attic door and peered into the darkness.  BATS!                                                                                                                                       bats.JPG
  2. See those two at the very top and bottom?  They didn’t like being awakened and gave us grim looks.  We quietly backed away, after noticing their babes and the humongous piles of toxic droppings.  The good news?  They can be shooed out in August after their babies are grown.                                                                                                                                                     
  3. It’s been raining cats and dogs here, which makes me happy.  But the worms have had a tough time of it, coming up for air and finding sharp robin beaks patiently waiting.  Slugs have also been seeking drier land, but in our kitchen?  Seriously?  The good news?  My dearest widower returned the slimy intruder to his natural habitat.                                                                                                                                                          
  4.  No one ever sees baby squirrels, right?   We don’t see anything under 25 lbs. because our squirrels have pot bellies from eating at the bird feeder.  But there must have been a squirrel nest catastrophe a month ago, because a baby squirrel appeared in our yard.  The good news?  It survived because I hadn’t cut the grass, not because it had any sense at all.  It’s gotten larger and a tad smarter.  It’s interesting to see that the grownups give it more leeway with eating.
  5.  That reminds me of another squirrel adventure.  This one also came in through the attic and set up a cozy home.  The good news?  Shrieking was effective it driving it back to the “wilderness.”  After it explored the bathroom.                                                                                                                             Squirrel in shower                                                       
  6.   The good news?  Ours is not the only home under attack.  (Misery loves company.)  These poor folks have an entire front yard filled with these holes every 6 inches or less.  They are not mole hills or fire ants.  These are tunnels for digger bee larvae.  Our tunnels are from voles, which seem less creepy to me.

mole hills

Good news simply abounds at our house.  I think our neighbors have termites.




* My new special educator bio

Thanks to Helen Jones, a writer and blogger at Journey to Ambeth, for her inspiration to create a new bio!  She focuses on writing (see her “bio generator below”) but I think I could create a brand-new me as a special educator, too!

(your name) was born (time, place) and grew up in (place, dimension etc)learning to (do something odd). They left (your birthplace) for (a far flung destination) where they (did something amazing). (your name) now lives in (somewhere fabulous and unusual) with their (living companions). When not writing bestselling novels, (your name) likes to (do some sort of unusual and creative hobby).

Katharine Everson was birthed under a desk in a special classroom for Ukrainian circus performers, where she grew up sniffing crayons and nipping the ankles of misbehaving students.  Accidentally boxed in a shipment of chalk to New York, she was immediately hired as a substitute teacher to replace 12 instructors who were last seen running from the school.  She now lives with her dearest widower in North Carolina, hoarding school supplies and sniffing Sharpies.  When not teaching the most adorable kiddos ever, Katharine can be found spending all her family income at school supply stores.

children- in costume 

OK, there’s a bit too much truth in this one!  No, I don’t sniff Sharpies but I do end up with a negative net income.  Hmm, a bio is harder than I thought!  Hopefully, my dearest widower won’t read this.  He’s more concerned about our finances than I am.


* Stuck Writing Your Author Bio? Try The (Totally Not Serious) Author Bio Generator

This is hilarious! I think we should all create fantastic bios. I may write one for my dearest widower, too!

Helen Jones

Aren't I fabulous and interesting? I’m so fabulous and interesting.

So I’ve been noticing a trend recently of, shall we say, somewhat overwrought author bios, in which every detail is teased into something magnificent, a picture of a life fabulously lived. I realise that there are, in fact, authors who do live wonderfully exciting lives but I also seem to remember a time when it wasn’t really important to know about it. A time when an author bio was a few lines at the end of a book, photograph optional, and usually read something like: ‘Author X was born in Wiltshire, and still lives there with her husband and three sons.’ Then, if Author X had written other books/and or won awards, these would also be listed. And that was about it. (I’m basing this on the very scientific research of spending time perusing my own bookcase and reading famous author bios, so you know…

View original post 482 more words

* Happy Caturday — bluebird of bitterness

You’ll be sorry if you don’t watch this short and hilarious video.  These two have a delightful relationship.  I laughed out loud.  It reminds me of some folks I know!  Teachers and parents can learn from this duo. so there’s an educational benefit to watching, as well.  

via Happy Caturday — bluebird of bitterness

* Travel theme: Breathe — Cee’s Photography

Here is my entry for Travel Theme Challenge for this week with is topic of Breathe. Alisa wants us to display photos that make us want to slow down and breath. I hope you enjoy my selection. Qi (energy) hugs Cee

via Travel theme: Breathe — Cee’s Photography

Doesn’t this make you want to peek around the curve, to see what lies ahead?   It’s also peaceful and still.  Cee has such a gift!

* A dystopian short story — David Snape and Friends – The place to show off your hidden talents

Originally posted on The Amazing Life of I: Okay so every now and then I write so here’s a fairly recent piece. I’m making toast when I hear the door clunk open. A familiar figure appears in the doorframe, a lab coat three sizes too large draped over his slight frame. “Long time no see!”…

via A dystopian short story — David Snape and Friends – The place to show off your hidden talents

I really love this story!  Very clever and see how few words he used to create a powerful and complex tale!