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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


Warning: if you don’t have kids, much of this post won’t make sense.

They say that, when a woman becomes pregnant, she immediately becomes a mother, and the father doesn’t become one until he has the child in his arms. I’m certainly in that category.  There were certain concepts I just did not understand.  One of them was reading, watching, or doing the same activity, over and over and over. Then my twins came, and everything changed. Everything. I think this goes without saying, but things changed for the better.

Currently, my daughters are obsessed with the 2016 animated movie “Trolls.” Sometimes they watch the movie two, even three times a day. This is not the first movie they have been glued to; before this was Disney’s “Moana,” and before that was every episode of “Little Einstein’s,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “PJ Masks,” “Goldie & Bear,” “The Wiggles,” and the 60’s version of “Batman.” There are books that go with us everywhere, and certain activities have to be done every day including long walks or wagon rides, coloring and singing at least three songs. When I introduce a new toy or a new show to them, they buck. Wanting nothing to do with it, they want to focus solely on what they already know.  It is habitual.

Back to the “Trolls” movie. If you haven’t seen it, I can tell you every line. I’ll spare you that; the gist of the story is that there is a group of happy trolls and a group of unhappy monsters called the Bergens. The Bergens believe that if they eat a troll once a year (called Trollstice), they will experience true happiness. Through a series of fun songs, dances, and goofiness, Trollstice is avoided and true happiness is discovered.

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous

furniture 640x398

I loved the idea of desks with wheels. My lessons usually involve some combination of partner work, small-group work, whole-class discussion, inner circle/outer circle discussions, independent work. Movable desks seemed to make sense for this kind of collaborative practice.

And I have noticed  a few distinct benefits:

  • It can be fun to push oneself around in one of these desks
  • It's very easy to push the desks around the classroom (no heavy lifting required) and scratches on the floor are significantly less likely to appear
  • Students can more fluidly shift between partners
  • It's easier for students to turn around to see what's happening in different parts of the room.

With that said, I can't say that this new desk necessarily makes collaboration easier for my students -- particularly since my students are already so adept at team work. Classroom furniture should reflect our pedagogical values. I do see the potential benefits of Node chairs, but it seems like a stretch to dub them "real world" or "21st century."

A few issues that I've noticed:

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


A couple of years ago my husband and I took a 20th Anniversary trip.  The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone have always been on our bucket list so we decided to go to out west.

I remember reading about the Tetons and the elevation of Grand Teton .... an elevation of 13,776 feet.  Almost 2 miles.  What makes the Tetons particularly awe-inspiring is the landscape next to it.  They are at at the edge of a flat valley which allows for the stunning views.  You can step back and appreciate them in full.  And there is no gentle slope up or foothills - it's a fault-block mountain so - BAM there they are!  Imagine how you drew a mountain as a kid - those triangles popping up out of the grass.  That's what the Grand Tetons looked like.  It is truly the most beautiful place I've ever been, and I'm a bit obsessed now.

We've camped in West Virginia where we climbed Spruce Knob, which is (for this area) a healthy 4,863 feet.  We've been to the Smoky Mountains several times and hiked to the top Clingman's Dome at 6,643 feet - tallest peak of the Smokies.   I could not wait to see what 13,776 looked like!

But when we got there, I was surprised.  Please don't take this for disappointment - but 13,776 didn't look nearly as "tall" as I had imagined.  And that's when it struck me - I hadn't considered the prominence of a mountain.

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


“Bridie, how can we celebrate George Washington’s birthday?”

It was a very straight forward question from a precocious seven-year-old and I jumped on it, eager to teach a little history lesson as well as to encourage use of the internet for actual research and not just a way to see what your friends ate for breakfast.

First, I explained that Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February, meaning it can occur the 15th through the 21st inclusive, in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732.

I was even more chuffed with myself to add that colloquially, it is widely known as Presidents' Day and is often an occasion to remember all the presidents, not just George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February. The term "Presidents' Day" was coined in a deliberate attempt to change the holiday into one to celebrate all presidents. I even explained the correct punctuation of "Presidents' vs President's" Day.

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


“When you are three, everything is a brand-new Ferrari.”

This was my explanation to a group of parents of preschool-aged children at a recent workshop about sharing, and how to effectively teach this concept to young children. I had asked each parent to come with an example of either a time when they felt sharing worked effectively, or an example of a time when it was a total disaster.

One dad in particular, John, shared how he had been extremely upset and embarrassed over an episode at his daughter’s recent third birthday party. His daughter had opened all of her gifts and was especially excited over her new toy called “Shopkins.” When she was then told to share them with her fellow party-goers who were equally excited about said Shopkins, a full-on, hysterical, screaming, crying, peel-the-pain-off-the-walls-wailing meltdown ensued.

Sharing is a hot-button topic for parents because it is presumed to be an indicator of a child’s successful social and emotional development. It is also falsely presumed to be the same as teaching a child to be generous. Parents worry that if their children do not share well or take turns, then they will not have any friends, or will not turn out to be good people. Naturally, no parent ever wants to see those things happen. Sharing and taking turns are important skills; however, adults often expect them of children far earlier than is age appropriate. Many parents will insist that their children share their belongings with other children. What does this really teach them?

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