The excellent Mother’s Anchor organization system is not just for mothers! A well-designed and interactive system to get you and your home in order, Mother’s Anchor is an inspiring workbook for all- and free (although you should donate!).
Written by Carolyn Langston, an experienced teacher and organizationally-challenged (OC) person, this guide includes all the components you’d want to see in topnotch school lessons. She lists goals for each section of her workbook and tools for helping you evaluate your needs and strengths, along with her personal experience in the organizational journey. I appreciate how much Carolyn shares about her own journey, starting with a day back in 1982, when she was surrounded by 20 bags of “stuff” after moving to a new home. Fast forward to today and Carolyn is now helping others through her Mother’s Anchor.
What do I love most about this workbook? It’s hard to pick just one feature!
- The opportunity to examine what I truly want in my home and life
- The personal tips Carolyn provides, which I am now copying!
- The easy-to-read format of the guide
- Carolyn’s structure of organizational strategies which scaffolds skills for an OC person like me, step by step on my way to success
- As an educator, this workbook will be helpful in supporting students manage time, materials, and assignments
What’s next? Go to the Mother’s Anchor blog and start your own journey towards a simpler, more peaceful, and clutter-free life!
Carolyn Langston, inspiring educator and writer
Oh, what a joy to rejoin Cee and her Share Your World blogging challenge! Check out the adorable Miss Mackenzie in Cee’s photo!
A piece of clothing from my childhood that I still remember: This one is easy because I remember lots of my clothes, probably from photographs. I do recall that my sister and I were often dressed as twins and my mother would even sew herself a matching dress. For this photo, my curly hair had been pasted into place, giving me temporary bangs and braids that were hanging almost vertically. I probably remember more about the agonies of getting my hair braided than any clothing!
Irregardless of your physical fitness, coordination or agility: If you could be an athlete what would do do? Remember this is SYW, dreaming is always allowed. I have long pursued my desire to do a cartwheel. I could run and jump but never managed a cartwheel. When I took a gymnastic class at college, my instructor was thrilled with my passion and told me she would make it happen. I was a bit anxious, having had a number of falls in previous attempts (seriously, how do you fall while doing a cartwheel?). She lined up all the participants on both sides of me, placed a lane of mats in between, and said she would also spot me. After watching my first attempt, she encouraged me to start with more “spring.” I sprang and flew over the line of spotters, landing with a crash on the hard gym floor. On my ambulance ride to the ER, I decided I would never attempt another cartwheel. Maybe in heaven….
In a car, would you rather drive or be a passenger? Having “conquered” my driving phobia (thanks to the Lord), it is hard for my dearest teaching widower to wrest the steering wheel away from me. It’s a sign of how far I’ve come that I do let him drive us occasionally, no longer needing to practice and practice.
And dord? This is a ghost word that made it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary for a surprisingly long period of time. What do you think it means?
What is Bansho?
a. A type of sushi
b. A form of martial arts
c. A math teaching strategy
It’s a clever math strategy! Bansho was recently featured in Teaching Children Mathematics, a NCTM publication. Originally developed in Japan, this powerful visual strategy has been used successfully in Thailand and for this article, in Texas. Daphyne Miller is the featured teacher.
How does it work? Bansho organizes the math learning process visually (such as across a board or wall), encouraging student-generated ideas and discussion. The board space is divided into sections that correspond to 3 phases in a lesson: activating prior knowledge, exploring a problem, and discussing/ extending the problem. Students connect their ideas to others’ work throughout the process. Teachers must anticipate student responses, provide hands on materials, and monitor student work and interactions.
What does it look like? Depending on the problem being solved, a pictorial representation of the problem is on the left side, along with keywords and related vocabulary. The center section features student work, organized in columns to show a progression from concrete to abstract reasoning. On the far right, student work and teacher input extend the learning. Check out Thinking of Teaching blog for cool images.
How could this be adapted to support special needs students?
- If you look at most Bansho illustrations, you’ll see lots of handwritten work. Using digital tools to capture student work would help those kids who struggle to spell or even draw. Smart boards could be an easy adaptation.
- Provide visual cues for students to communicate during all three phases of the lessons. These could be as basic as index cards printed with cues: “Look at your partner. Ask her to tell you her number sentence. Ask her to write that sentence for you.”
- Pair students carefully. Use a buddy system but don’t wear out the “helpers!”
- Encourage students to use their special interests when extending the math problem to varied topics. This will likely make it easier for them to share their ideas with the group. Allow video recordings for those kiddos who are reluctant to share in a large group.
- Be creative in reducing the visual clutter of a Bansho display. This could include digital instead of paper worksheets, using a smart board for the entire display, or placing the three sections or phases onto separate boards.
If you’re a teacher and earning CEUs to renew your license, there are a lot of terrific inservice opportunities. Many districts offer their own packages and provide in-school workshops. As a longtime National Board Certified educator, I am really pumped about microcredentials. These are additional credit options which allow you to extend and personalize your online learning experience.
My experiences are based on the Friday Institute through the North Carolina State University’s College of Education. Their MOOC courses are FREE premium offerings for folks worldwide. I am still in the process of completing some microcredentials for a fantastic course called Problem Solving in the Digital Age.
How do microcredentials work? They provide the option of going beyond the basic course requirements, while earning more CEUs, of course. In my case, I am taking the skills I learned and applying them to a real world teaching problem. I took this course to solve a particularly perplexing problem and I emerged inspired and equipped. Now I am demonstrating my learning while continuing to address my complex problem.
Earning microcredentials is a lot like the National Board process, with an emphasis on best practices, applying research, and lots of reflection and processing. It’s a data-driven process, but meaningful- not just plugging numbers into boxes. What’s better than the pure application of learning to your current practice?
Some of my past experiences with staff development were awesome. But other “opportunities” left me wishing I could have gone swimming instead. As I glanced around the room, I could see teachers struggling to stay awake, doing lesson plans, passing notes, and keeping a neutral expression while desperately wishing they could use their time productively. Online learning (at the Friday Institute level), in conjunction with microcredentials, provides authentic learning experiences which can be tailored to suit my individual situation. Isn’t that what we want for our students? Lauren Acree has written a comprehensive evaluation of microcredentials, in case I haven’t convinced you!
Thank you so much, sweet Josie, for hosting this weekly reminder to share thankfulness. In my case, it’s more annually, but perhaps I shall get back on track with blogging again!
- Today is my sister’s birthday and I am so thankful for her! She’s got a heart of gold! I love her!
- Speaking of her heart of gold, the kiddos return this week for a summer in North Carolina! We will have a special movie night on Tuesday! Woohoo!
- I finished all my online classes, despite the flu and eardrum and sinuses and everything. Now I am on to my microcredentials. More on that in my next post.
- I think there will be another post! Yes!
- I was SO sick and SO weak for almost 3 months that all I could do was waste away and drag myself to a couple of schools. But once I got there, I was absolutely energized by my students. (And yes, then I dragged myself home and fell on the couch, but those days are OVER!)
- The parents of my kiddos are THE best. Patient, loving, encouraging, funny, dedicated to their kids to the nth degree! I am GRATEFUL for their never-ending support.
- What would the world of writing be like without exclamation points?!? I am hopeful (and grateful) that you can hear my enthusiasm!
- I am grateful that my energy levels and wildness fall just short of ADHD and mania!
- What would this blog be without my faithful followers? Thank you for reading and waiting and waiting and waiting!
- I got a new bible this week, reverting to paper again so I can search and scribble and highlight and weep for joy. I do all my other reading in digital form, but I could never find my spiritual home online.
- This one is for clarkscottroger, a clever man with one of the most unique ways of seeing himself and the world. If you like ingenious and funny, his blog, the Wakefield Doctrine, is for you!
Finally! I am well again! After months of the flu and battling secondary infections, I am healthy and invigorated. Plus I just slept for almost 12 hours! A recent article on sleep habits suggests that younger and middle-aged folks can make up for lost sleep during the week by snoring away on the weekend. Too little and too much sleep are both associated with increased “mortality risk.” But my age group? The ancient ones? The researchers said I am likely to get what I need. They don’t know how hard it is to close a thriller in the middle of the night!
I do feel older today. My dearest teaching widower and I attended a special dinner at church last night for the ancient, 60+ age group. I secretly thought that most of the folks cheated to get a delicious meal. Now that I am officially REALLY old, I’m thinking of some one-liners: Old teachers don’t die, they just lose their class. Or this one: Old teachers don’t die, they just wipe the slate clean. What about this? Old math teachers never die, they just reduce to lowest terms.
Whatever our age, we are thrilled to be alive and well! And looking mighty strong!
It’s been 20 days but feels like a lifetime of H3N2. My doctor said I am still contagious so don’t lean too close to read this. Now I’m on antibiotics for a rough ear and sinus infection. Secondary infections, courtesy of this Mutating Monster. I know this is TMI, but how does an ear produce so much gunk? Fortunately, I still have a tube in there.
A dear one sent me this and made my week. My biggest heartache is that my precious student and his parents are struggling mightily. We text throughout the day, survivors’ lifelines.
Another lifeline from Jesus: Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me (and my student and his family). Yet not my will but yours be done.
Today is Day 15 with H3N2, a mutating monster of a virus. One step forward, two steps back. I am sharing daily progress, woes, and prayers, with a dear student and his family. The kiddo is on Day 18 and his parents are just behind. This is a killer of a virus. The mortality rate for my age group is hardest hit (see that red line?) but my medically fragile student, at age 11, has suffered enormously and his situation is far more precarious than mine.
We spent some agonizing time in the ER, but my dearest flu widower always has clever jokes to make us laugh (and then we cough like crazy). And what a joy to love and care for one another in times like these. My student’s parents are the bravest, kindest, most determined people I have ever met. They are fighting minute by minute to keep their son alive. Sleep deprived, flu-ridden, heart broken, and clinging to faith, they are simply amazing. I do not know how they have survived these weeks. I am barely crawling along and I don’t have to take care of my sweet student throughout the day and night.
I know the Lord is holding us in his hands, whatever the outcome. Better times await.
Too bad no one taught Siri that there are 7 days in a week.
“The Great Shelby Holmes,” by Elizabeth Eulberg, is a terrific mystery for upper elementary and middle school students. It’s a semi-spoof of Sherlock Holmes, but the characters and plot are definitely a stand alone. Set in Harlem, John Watson and his mom (former army doctor in Afghanistan) are starting a new civilian life. John’s parents have just divorced, he’s living off-post for the first time, and their arrival at their new apartment is met with a BANG! Shelby Holmes, a 9-year-old prodigy going into 6th grade, has conducted a “harmless” experiment in her apartment at 221B Baker Street. And it gets more complicated from there!
John is a budding writer who will be attending an arts-focused charter school. Until he met Shelby, his journal had been bare for the past few months. The changes in his life have been painful, he hadn’t made any friends, and school will start in a few weeks. He is amazed at Shelby’s deductive abilities (so was I!) and ends up entangled in the mystery of a missing dog. Their adventure reignites John’s interest in writing as he chronicles the amazing ups and downs of this complex mystery set in New York City.
John and Shelby could not be more different. He is a social kid, eager to make new friends, and Shelby is an odd individual who appears to disdain social norms. This mystery, with its hilarious events, uncertain relationships, and tender moments, is a life-changing experience for both Shelby and Watson (a moniker used by Shelby since he’ll be the third John in their class). John must come to grips with his parents’ divorce, caustic remarks by Shelby, and the conflict surrounding this unusual mystery. Shelby is also forced to confront her asocial behavior and perhaps admit that she actually needs John’s help.
One aspect I especially enjoyed about this book is its racial perspective. Readers with the “white privilege” perspective may be surprised that John is black. And just as I often hear white folks describe that “black doctor” or that “black kid,” John does refer to “white kids” but makes no special reference to black folks. It would be perfect if none of us felt the need to make those distinctions, but it’s refreshing to see the world through nonwhite eyes. More on that in the next book in this series, “The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match.”
I highly recommend this entertaining and thoughtful book. It will keep you guessing- and laughing- throughout!