* Back to school packets from ReadWorks

ReadWorks has published a set of cool packets for K-12 teachers.  And they’re FREE!  If you haven’t registered, it takes just a moment and is well worth your time.  These packets focus on the summer-school transition for the younger set and on grade level topics for older students.  Each reading packet has paired texts, research-based questions, and vocabulary support.  Topics range from being a good citizen at school and getting along with others to explorations of civil rights and “the most expensive house in the universe.”

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Download this and MUCH more!


Also new:  ReadWorks has gone DIGITAL and I’ll share more on that later.  Don’t miss out!

* Three Things from NitB

NitB??  That’s Nerd in the Brain, who challenges us to celebrate the good stuff on Thursday and everyday!  Her Three Things Thursday post has beaver toothprints and other found treasures.  Be sure to take a peek!

While I’ve been recovering from medical adventures, the deer have continued to ransack everything except this bush.  And look what I saw!

As I admired these butterflies, a hummingbird came to eat, apparently unconcerned about my presence.  Wow!   My phone camera is too slow, but if you look in the center below, you’ll see a green blur of a gorgeous bird.


Thankfully, I looked down and spotted some lowly slugs, seemingly unprotected.  It’s good that deer are herbivores- and that I was watching where I stepped!


What a beautiful creation we enjoy!


* Christopher & me & Bowser makes three

If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know I’ve been tutoring my 9-year-old nephew, Christopher, this summer.  He’s on the autism spectrum (ASD, aka A Sweet Dude).  Christopher has many strengths, narrow range of interests, and has floundered in school.  Lacking appropriate early intervention, combined with a tumultuous family life, academics and social relationships have been challenging.

This is where Bowser comes in.   You can’t teach social skills in isolation.  And we need a fall guy, someone who cannot keep up with Christopher’s newly emerging language and reasoning skills.

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As a powerful rascal and consequently a source of delight to powerless Christopher, Bowser provides me ample opportunity to develop a closer relationship to my nephew while exploring my nephew’s world of crime and punishment, idiosyncrasies, and failures.  Since he excels at video games, it would be natural for Christopher to gravitate to a Boss.  Bowser is the winner that Christopher wants to be, the embodiment of success and power in a predictable digital world.  Yeah, like lots of us, Christopher is a rule-bound judicial expert entangled with anxieties, competitiveness, and despair.

While Christopher is learning to replace finger sucking with pencil toppers (more in next post), Bowser engages in silly taunting, risk-taking, and surprisingly, academic support from his “protege.”   Christopher is learning skills that Bowser can use.  Bowser remains powerfully wild and ridiculous, but allows us to explore winning and losing, taking turns, answering complex questions, and exploring those gray areas of real life.

I imagine Christopher’s brain as one filled with a LOT of carefully filed information on video games, for instance, but little connection to real world problem solving.  He hasn’t grasped how the physical world operates and has a limited vocabulary outside his digital life.  He can identify social problems but gets stuck at sequencing and cause and effect levels.  My goal has been to broaden his connections, taking the jumbled information he already has and helping him to place it in “folders” for easier access.  Christopher’s idiosyncratic responses are diminishing as I prompt him to use categories for analyzing problems.  And Bowser?  He makes Christopher laugh with wildly improbable comments and behavior.  Bowser continues to rock and roll as Christopher makes sense of the world.

* School-wide bulletin boards

A recent “Coaches’ Corner” feature of Teaching Children Mathematics encourages the use of bulletin boards as teaching tools.  Robyn Silbey shares a cool example for grades K-5 by using a single prompt (What is equal to 10?) divided into columns for all classes to respond.  This tool seems appropriate for expanding algebraic instruction and thinking to all elementary grades, so here’s my proposed bulletin board.  Teachers could rotate through small group displays so that all kids get “on the wall” in one year.

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* Show me the money

Or show me the ice cream?  Working with a twice exceptional student who loves ice cream has its advantages.  That’s especially true since that 2e student is headed for an entrepreneurial lifestyle, aided by his organizational skills.  For some kids, I need to plan and rehash and continually tweak the reward system.  This kiddo had it all worked out.  Due to travel issues and my ridiculous health problems, he is behind in getting “paid,” but he’s ready to score some major desserts!  I wouldn’t support this kind of plan if he had eating or weight issues.  In fact, he’s a stringbean and eats really healthy stuff that I only learned to enjoy as an adult.

We are sharing this Google doc (a great feature, by the way).  He developed and I “decorated.”  That means I corrected spelling errors so he might notice that “whipped” has an h, “chocolate” doesn’t have a k,  and the plural of “cherry” requires changing the y to i.  I do plan to ask him to spot the differences.  Practice makes permanent.  Oh, I also added the color.

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I think I might drop by his house some evening in the near future.  I hear they are due for some ice cream parties!

* Stumbling along

That would be me.  Missing all blogging challenges for a couple of weeks, especially Cee’s, Nerd in the Brain’s, Jennifer Wells’, and Lizzi’s.  Major bummer.

I’m also missing my brain.

“I could while away the hours
Conferring with the flowers,
Consulting with the rain;
And my head I’d be scratching
While my thoughts are busy hatching
If I only had a brain.”  (apologies to Ray Bolger and the Wizard of Oz)

And “Where, oh where, did my energy go?  Oh where, oh where could it be?  I would search high and low if my legs they would go, oh where, oh where can it be?”  Seriously, walking to the couch has been difficult.  I’ve had a few dermatology procedures this summer which sidelined me, but the kidney infection (followed by a colonoscopy) has flattened me to the ground.  My kiddos are in mourning.  “Why is Mrs. Everson/ Aunt Katharine always sick?”  But thank you, faithful readers, for continuing to rummage through my virtual bookshelves!   And continuing to follow me, which means you are at a virtual standstill.


My dearest kidney infection widower is stuffing food in me at every opportunity, bringing tea and chocolate and comfort.  Yes, he says I will be able to think again.  He assures me my energy will return.  I AM improving but it’s s-l-o-w.  Maddeningly slow.

After living “brain free” for a couple of weeks, I decided to address my feeble-mindedness.  I rejoined Lumosity’s ranks last week after a two year hiatus.  I LOVE Lumosity and it’s better than ever.  (I wish I were!)  More games, nicely personalized, and costs less, too.  Sadly, they kept all my old scores on games I used to rock, like Word Bubbles Rising.  Would you believe 4,000 points under my highest scores?  I am now hitting 6-digit figures again, but my fingers are leaden, along with my brain cells.

In case you are wondering, this is not complaining.  Once is simply sharing, reblogging would be griping.   I’m stumbling, not grumbling.   I could deflate this entire post with “I know I have it better than most of the world,” but no, being flattened to the ground is not my ideal state.

* Fuzzy wuzzy abduction

Several folks have asked if I am OK or on vacation or recovering from an alien abduction.  Presumably, folks never recover from alien abductions, but I’m hopeful.  It’s a good sign that I have no actual memory of being abducted.  On the other hand, I have no memory of tutoring this alien last week.  He’s probably featured on the front page of tabloids worldwide.

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Speaking of tabloids, I read this newspaper article today about folks who live for (and are willing to kill for?) being on the front page of anything and everything.  Taken from Joseph Burgos’s book, “The Narcissist You Know,” it seems that narcissists are more than full of themselves.  They want to be in the news all the time, are aggressive, boastful, overrate their performance, and belittle others.  I can’t imagine why Americans would be fascinated with narcissistic personalities right now.  Probably nothing to do with the presidential race.

Now back to why I’ve stopped posting, started several posts which make no sense at all, and why this one is almost ready for the trash can.  My brain is kaput.  Dinged.  Fuzzy wuzzy.  It started with a kidney infection, which left me physically and mentally in Bleh Land.  Now I’m preparing for a colonoscopy, which has left me with little except a pounding headache and dizziness.

As I’m muddling along, I do have the sense to realize:

  • I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, which explains why I can’t remember the reason I opened the drawer in the first place.
  • If you gave me a penny for my thoughts, you’d get change.  And a blank stare.
  • There is too much chlorine in my gene pool.  If I ever have the energy to swim again, I might ask the pool manager for help
  • And my hard drive is spinning but there’s no operating system.  (music playing)  Little wheels in my head spinning ’round and ’round, ’round and ’round.  Little wheels in my head spinning upside down, all over town.

An alien abduction sounds good right now.  What about a spacecraft full of fuzzy wuzzy Tribbles?   That would make the cover of every tabloid, right?  You DO know what Tribbles are, yeah?  (If you answered no to those questions, you might have a kidney infection.)



* Three Polyhedra with Only Pentagonal Faces — RobertLovesPi’s Blog

If you haven’t visited Dr. Pi’s blog, you are missing some AMAZING creations.  Yes, he creates all of these using Stella 4d, a program I’d probably detonate.  Don’t you wish you had this (and so many others) hanging in your windows or on your Christmas tree?  They are spectacular.   

The polyhedron above has 72 pentagonal faces of two types. The next one below has three different types of pentagon for its 132 faces. After that is a polyhedron with sixty faces, all of which are non-convex pentagons. All three of these all-pentagon polyhedra were created using Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator. This program is available […]

via Three Polyhedra with Only Pentagonal Faces — RobertLovesPi’s Blog

* How to Become an Olympic Hero: 7 Golden Rules – By Elena Verigo — Kindness Blog

You could call these “rules to live by.”  In this spirit, we can all be Olympians.

Being a hero isn’t about killing yourself. It’s not about crazy persistence and unhealthy stubbornness. These qualities may lead to outstanding achievement. But often consume and destroy one’s life. Long-term success is about being kind to yourself. And others. Olympic values guide us on the way to becoming a hero in our everyday life. (1) […]

via How to Become an Olympic Hero: 7 Golden Rules – By Elena Verigo — Kindness Blog

* Laughter the best Medicine Revisited.. Court room humour M’Lud — Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

Oh my!  If this doesn’t make you laugh out loud, you’re a lawyer.

On the subject of judgements… Unless we are watching televised trials or Judge Judy, we rarely get to see what goes on in court… but these are some (real) exchanges that apparently have kept court reporters amused. HOW DO COURT RECORDERS KEEP STRAIGHT FACES???? These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts […]

via Laughter the best Medicine Revisted.. Court room humour M’Lud — Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life