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Teaching Grown-ups

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Homophones on the road

Homophones on the road

We’ve been out of school on fall break for two weeks.  This is a souvenir I received from someone really special.  This is one of those priceless little gifts that probably nobody else will really understand.  It’s from a husband and wife who come and mentor my little reading rock stars.  Not only do they mentor six of my little people every single week, but they fill-in on short notice when mentors are absent.  They do a lot of really nice things for me.  They are so precious and wonderful.

I often take a little time to give refresher info to the mentors so that they will understand what they’re doing with the kids they mentor each day.  Recently we’ve been working on multiple meaning words and homophones and so I’ve been giving the adults a refresher course on what, exactly, a homophone is.  That’s not common knowledge that we carry through life and use in daily conversation.  Even the most intelligent people forget some things.

So Sandi and David were driving through North Carolina over fall break when they passed this church.  They stopped and went back to take a picture of the homophone on the side of the road so they could show me that they’ve learned what I’m teaching!  It’s hanging on my bulletin board.

These are the kind of gifts that stick with me because they remind me that what I do matters and people care.  Probably silly to everyone else…priceless to me.

LW

Do you have an hour a week to help a second or third grade student become a better reader?  Click here to find out more about how to become a HOSTS mentor. http://www.wayne.k12.in.us/hosts/

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Creating Healthy Eating Habits In Kids

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Advice for parents (particularly parents of young children): Don’t force your kids to eat food they don’t want, or make them feel obligated to clean the plate you, or someone else, loaded for them.  Yes, I’m dead serious.

Think outside the box. Have rules about trying a bite–just one bite. Fight that fight. Do it by always having something visible they know they like. Use it as incentive to get them to try one bite of whatever you’re eating or want them to eat.  Be satisfied with one bite, and have them try the same food two or three times in a year.  Be willing to accept that they won’t like certain things.  If they actually gag, move on.  Don’t offer that again. Offer healthier choices whenever possible, but let them have a say in what they eat, and let them stop eating when they’re full (no desert until at least an hour after dinner–no exceptions.)  If you don’t make it a power struggle, it won’t be a power struggle.  Say “would you like chicken or pasta?”  instead of “do you want chicken?”  Don’t ask “yes/no” questions when one of those choices isn’t acceptable to you.  This way you maintain the structure you want them to have while still letting them feel empowered.  

Our generation is walking proof that “you’ll eat what I cooked whether you want it or not, and you won’t leave the table until your plate is clean” teaches poor eating habits.  It creates adults with serious weight management issues who eat when we’re not really hungry and die of heart disease way too young.

We sit down to a family meal most every night, but we don’t necessarily all eat the same thing. Really, this is less of a big deal than you might think. My kids are now 14 and almost 12. This is how I’ve fed them their whole lives. It isn’t always simple, but I’m observing something really important. They eat only when they feel hungry, and they stop eating when they feel full. They know exactly how much food will satisfy them most of the time, so there is rarely much waste. They don’t eat out of boredom or for comfort. Food is nothing more or less than sustenance to them. They will even stop eating a treat and save it for later once they feel satisfied.

It is actually much easier to throw together an extra something I know my child will want to eat, than to fight with him and dole out consequences for not eating something he really didn’t want.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry–pun intended.  I also don’t care for the subconscious message we send when we say they have to take whatever is offered to them even if they don’t want it–think cigarettes, booze, drugs, and sexual advances.  Kids need to feel empowered to say no when it is appropriate (or imperative!) that they do so.  It’s not a concept, it’s a practice. They learn what they live.  Like everything else, it starts at home–good or bad. 

There is no perfect diet. There is only best case scenario.  The meat and poultry in this country are loaded with hormones and antibiotics. The fruit and veggies are loaded with pesticide and wax.  Most of the fish is farm raised and loaded with artificial color and preservatives.  Everything is loaded with sugar, salt, oil, and flour. Truly healthy food costs a fortune and is nearly impossible to find for the vast majority.  The best we can do for our kids is end the romance with food.  If we teach them discipline and reward them with choice, we create adults with tools for living right in multiple aspects of their lives.

LW

Does Summer Fun Equal Learning Loss?

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The short answer is YES!  With nothing resembling education, they lose the momentum they gained week over week all through the school year.  But, we don’t have to rain on their parade in order to maintain their academic success.

Like every parent out there, I want my kids to have a really fun summer.  Like every parent out there, I want my kids to get a great education.  NWEA testing at my son’s school a few years ago showed that students gained 1.7 years of educational growth during the school year, and lost 1 year over summer break!  As someone who works with students in remedial reading, I can tell you that my typical student loses 1 to 3 reading levels in just 2 months of summer break.  This is something that plagues the hearts and minds of every educator I know.

Much to my dismay, I can’t make my students exercise their brains over the summer. However, much to their dismay, I have begun to take a look at my own children. : ) I could just enforce a certain amount of time they must spend reading a book every day. That goes a long way to helping maintain their educational progress, so I’m not slinging mud a that!  If my students’ grown-up(s) would just do that I’d be on cloud nine!  I have to reign on my own kids like a Spring storm all summer long to make daily reading happen.  So if that’s what I have to do anyway, this year I’m trying something a little different.

I gave the boys a few weeks to relax while I furiously wrote four really intense papers on cognitive development in order to finish up my own college term after my last day of work.  I told the boys to read something every day; I watched to see what they would do without me riding them.  They didn’t pick up a book; not once.  So, today I assigned a research project to each of them.  One child laughed at me; the other one cried.

I’ll tell you a little secret; there are things kids think they hate but once you get them to start doing it, you can’t get them to stop.  PowerPoint is a fun program.  It has progressed to the point that it is pretty easy to use.  And you can make things spin, wobble, fly around, and explode complete with sound effects.  Kids like that.  Kids LOVE that.  And it’s an extremely valuable skill for a vast array of jobs!

So, my 9th grader is researching political parties.  His goal is to find out how and when they started, what they believe, who leads them, a few famous (or infamous!) members, what they use as their symbol and why.  By the time he enters college, it is imperative that he know the difference between education and indoctrination.  High school is his opportunity to ask questions and build on this foundation, so he needs to know what questions to ask.

My 6th grader is gathering all of the base data on every US President since 1960.  I have given him a list of what I want him to find out about them; it isn’t brain surgery and it’s easy to find. I want to know: their name, the names of their wives and children, date of birth/death, dates in office, President # i.e. Obama is our 44th President, political party, and one or two things that we remember about their Presidency.  He has to include a picture of each of them.

Let me repeat, there are things that kids think they hate until they start doing it; then you can’t get them to stop.  Whenever I assign my students a Venn Diagram they moan and groan and the mentors look at me like I’m nuts.  Then they start comparing and contrasting.  When class is over I can’t pry them away from the thing.  “OK, Mrs. W, hold on. I just remembered that this is different and I don’t have it on here.  Can I take this with me?! Can we do this again tomorrow? PLEEEEEASE??”  Everyone is laughing and communicating and comparing and contrasting and learning.  The kids don’t hate me anymore. The mentors stop to thank me on their way out the door for making the time so fun.  It’s all in how you set up a task.

So my sons have to give this one hour per day, only on the week days.  All of their research can be done on the internet.  Do you know how fast an hour goes when you’re Googling and scanning for facts?  Do you know how many skills and brain activities are being used and developed here?  Their final presentation is to be in PowerPoint which they both LOVE.  I expect to see things floating and flying, sizzling and spinning.  They have to create one artifact that is tangible.  It can be anything that relates to their topic–something they draw, or cut out, or glue together, or find somewhere.  This project is due the day before I go back to work (July 29th), so they have plenty of time.

Last night they reluctantly started their research.  Guess what.  They found facts!  They came to me with lists and they were proud of what they had.  They had questions!  When a kid has questions, they’re interested.  So they don’t hate me anymore, they’re not laughing at me, and they’re not crying. Best of all, they’re thinking.  One of them just came to where I’m sitting and writing this with news on in the background, and started asking me intelligent questions about the public figure being interviewed on the TV.  It’s someone he recognizes as a former Vice Presidential candidate.

I believe that this summer project will wind up being interesting for them, and will help maintain their education level, while not sucking all of the fun out of their summer.

Balance.

LW

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

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Dear Mom, I know I wasn’t an easy kid to raise.  I think that’s why God gave me to you; He knew you could do it.  And you did!  I’m far from perfect, but I’m way better than just OK.  You taught us what truly matters in life–love, loyalty, family, faith, education, and moral standards.  All things no amount of money could ever buy.  You led us by example. You ARE the Grandma you set out to be.  Their sun rises and sets in you.

Thanks, Mom.  I love you.  Happy Mother’s Day.

(Click the “Play Button” on the bottom right)

Why I Decided To Become A Teacher

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I can’t seem to find the origin of this quote.  I didn’t say it first (oh, I wish I had!); but it seems well worth keeping.

you find out what true happiness is...

you find out what true happiness is…

Why Tweet?

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First and foremost, Twitter doesn’t try to take over your life.  Second, what’s really happening in the world is all on Twitter.  Whether or not you’re actually “tweeting”, just get a Twitter account and “follow” a few key people who interest you.  Whatever you’re interested in knowing, I promise you it’s on Twitter! We are living in a time when it is more important than ever to REALLY know what’s going on in the world.  The world is now on Twitter.  Even the Pope tweets–really.  I follow him.

Did you know you don’t have to allow your tweets to be public?  You can keep your tweets private so that only your approved followers can see them.

Did you know you can tweet pictures and videos?  Those, too, can easily be private.

Did you know you can connect your Twitter account to your Facebook account so that your tweets are automatically posted to your Facebook page?  You may have noticed that mine are.

Here are a few great resources if you think you want to try Twitter.  It’s very easy to learn, very informative to read, and the privacy settings are simple and straightforward!!  How refreshing.

This one is short and informative http://www.digitaltrends.com/how-to/how-to-use-twitter/

Twitter has a great little “get started” tutorial here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/215585-twitter-101-getting-started-with-twitter

The Twitter help center is wonderful! It’s simple; you can actually understand and manage your privacy! https://support.twitter.com/

I’ll likely keep a Facebook account for a while.  Want to know what Facebook plans for the future? Read here: http://gigaom.com/2013/04/04/why-facebook-home-bothers-me-it-destroys-any-notion-of-privacy/?post_id=1544746837_10200940063414215#_=_ Scary stuff!

We now live in a world where being an informed consumer is not just wise, it’s IMPERATIVE!!

LW

A New Life With A Fifth Family Member

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The Fifth Wormald

Emma grows with us…

The only dogs I’ve ever had are ones I raised from tiny puppies, or one we inherited from a family member, that was raised right, and at 16 years old left very large paws to fill. : (  Emma is my first foray into taking on someone else’s neglected pet with ingrained bad habits.  It’s been a road…

Keep in mind that I have that mojo…y’know, the one that if I go bragging too much, LOOK OUT LAURA, it will bite you in the butt!  This said…

4 mos down this road, she’s family now.  She gets the trust she’s earned.  This now means most nights she gets to sleep on a bed with a person.  Mess around–in the crate you go!  She likes the bed, so I think she really tries to be worthy.

They’re like little kids in so many ways.  She’s developed some coping skills for some of her bad habits.  We’ve found a type of bone she really likes that is made for power chewers.  We keep about three of them around.  I can actually see her use her bone to cope with the stress of wanting to eat a shoe, or a piece of furniture, or a door.  Do I trust her? NOT A CHANCE! But we’re getting there.

She still has a trash fetish, particularly bathroom trash (ew).  I want to choke whoever paper trained her, but great progress is being made.  Weeks go by, then we have a day of scrubbing carpet all over the place, then more weeks go by.  Baby steps…

I could not have imagined what Emma was going to do for my sons.  There are places in some children’s world where dogs can go that people just can’t.  The value is immeasurable and I am blown away by what she has brought to this family…

All of Emma’s training comes from humanely but firmly commanding respect, and rewarding it with love–NOT TREATS!!!  She gets treats every day, but not as blackmail for good behavior.  She is made to behave because that’s required.  She is never hit.  Never chained up.  The crate is her safe haven–not jail unless it’s for her own safety or someone else’s.  Yes, she’s in there when we’re not home–for our safety and hers.  She can’t be allowed to eat my house. I can’t take a chance she gets into trouble she can’t get herself out of safely.  But we go to great lengths to make the days OK for her.  I come home for lunch a few days a week.  She gets a limited amount of treats because we love her.  Have you ever read the ingredients on the average dog treat package?  They’re horrifically unhealthy.  I buy healthy dog treats (Newman’s Peanut Butter Heart-Shaped).  She also gets some cheese, or peanut butter, and believe it or not she likes carrots!

I wasn’t too sure about this back in December.  Now we’re the Wormald 5 and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

LW

My 30 Day Shred

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Four years ago I lost 42 lbs.  I went from a size 14 to a size 6.  Great, right?  The problem is that I lost all of this weight during a maximally stressful time in my life.  I lost it because I was living on Marlboro Lights and Coke Zero–not exactly a healthy diet plan.  So I found myself skinny for the first time in 13 years, but with no real way to manage it.  Within six months I was a size 8, but I was fine with that.  I was making better food choices and that was working for me, but I was fairly sedentary.

A year after I lost the weight, still at a size 8, I quit smoking.  I had been working from home for a decade, so my schedule had a lot of flexibility.  I joined the Y and started working out some and swimming.  I managed to stay in my size 8’s, though they got a little more snug. Some big life changes happened and I went back to the world of working 40 hours (at least!) every week outside my home.  Then I enrolled in college, and promptly slowed down and then stopped working out and swimming.   The next year wasn’t too bad, I was so busy that I didn’t really have time to eat much.  But I became increasingly more sedentary as I began to spend all of my spare time studying.

March 29, 2013 marked 3 years out from my last cigarette.  The only size 8’s I can still wear have a lot of Lycra or spandex mixed in.  The first warm day came last month and I tried to put on something from my summer wardrobe–nothin’ doin’.  Not one single thing in my summer wardrobe fit me.  I could still button a couple of my jeans, but the “muffin top” was enough to make me cry and I was so uncomfortable.

The biggest obstacle I face in weight management is that I cannot eat gluten.  Don’t ask me to tell you what foods I cannot have, because the list of foods I CAN have is much, much shorter.  So there is not a weight loss plan out there that I can follow.  Even Weight Watchers would not give me enough food choices to make it possible for me to stick to the diet–I looked into it.  I only have one size of clothing in my closet.  Part of no longer being a size 14 is getting rid of your size 14 clothing, which I did 4 years ago.  I have no budget for a new wardrobe.  Now what?

Enter Jillian Michaels.  I have never been much on exercise classes.  I don’t like slamming into other people while I’m trying to workout, and I don’t like having to learn a bunch of fancy dance moves made up by the instructor of the week.   I don’t have much time to throw at my workouts, so I need maximum results for a minimum investment of time.  I started doing Internet research and I found really great user reviews on the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. There are 3 levels of workouts.  This is not because Jillian doesn’t want you to get bored.  You have to do Level 1 until you’re strong enough to move on to Level 2.   If you’re looking to be entertained, look elsewhere.  If you’re looking for fancy dancing and chatting with a friend while you’re doing this, look elsewhere.  This is a SERIOUS workout.  For the first week I screamed curse words at the television, but I hung in there.  You only work out for 25 minutes including warm-up and cool down, but you work.  You get out of it what you put into it.  If you stop and rest, you might as well look elsewhere.  You won’t get the results you want.  She has someone doing lower impact, modified versions of all the moves behind her at all times.  If you can’t do the full move, do the modified version but don’t stop moving.

Today is day 18 for me.  I did level 1 for a week, level 2 for a week, and I’ve been on level 3 for 4 days.  By the end of the first week my strength and endurance had increased drastically. I was blown away at what had happened in only 7 days.  I stopped screaming curse words at the television.  All I did was keep on moving through the whole 25 minutes every day.  Some interesting things had begun to happen; I had started to crave this workout.  The endorphin boost is addictive.  I also started making better choices about what I eat. I’m not dieting. Gluten free is all the diet I can ever do.  I just make better choices.  After I hump and sweat through this routine, I don’t really want to chow on some fattening empty calories.  But, Friday night is pizza night at my house. I go down to Monical’s Pizza and get myself a gluten free sausage and mushroom individual pizza, and I eat it.  My husband is a meat and potatoes guy, so I choose lower carb lower calorie foods during the day and eat what my family eats at dinner.  18 days into this I’ve lost about an 1 1/2 inches off my waist and off each of my thighs.  My arms are slimmer and have more definition.  There is no more cellulite in my armpits.  I can now wear about half of the cloths I could not wear 3 weeks ago.  My muffin top from hell is not gone but it’s down to one small roll and getting smaller every day.  Today I was able to do things in the level 3 workout that I could not do 3 days ago.  I feel better than I’ve felt in years.

It’s pretty basic calisthenics.  Jillian is an expert in how to burn the most calories, work the most muscle groups simultaneously, and keep it simple enough for even someone with “two left feet”.  This is not for the weak-willed.  You have to push through the pain.  There weren’t really any negative reviews on this workout, but the few negative things I read were people who got bored of doing the same routine every day for a week or 10 days.  Or people who didn’t like how hard they had to work so they cheated and then wondered why they didn’t get results.  I was just happy when I could finally do what Jillian and Natalie were doing!  I’m not here to be entertained.  I’m here to be healthy, and skinny!  And that’s happening.  One caveat: don’t expect massive weight loss.  A gallon of fat only weighs 5 pounds.  This routine turns your fat into muscle and muscle weighs more than fat.  So worry more about how your cloths fit and how your body looks, and stay off the scale.  I haven’t weighed myself at all.  I don’t have a weight goal.  I have a clothing size goal.  So if I fit into my cloths and they look nice on me, I really don’t care what the scale says.

You don’t even have to go out and buy the DVD.  All of the workouts are on YouTube.  I get YouTube through my DirecTV satellite service so I do these workouts for free right in my living room.  You only need about a 3′ x 6′ space.  You can get YouTube on your computer, tablet, or smartphone for free.   If you need to buy the DVD, it’s only $10 at Walmart. While you’re there, grab some cheap hand weights.  I have a set of 3lb and 5lb.  They’re about $4 to $5 each.  It was 5 days before I could even use the weights in the routine.  I recommend watching each video once before you start the level so you know exactly what to do and can concentrate on just doing it.  You don’t want to be looking at the television while doing some of these exercises–it’s very bad for the neck.  That’s why she keeps it simple.  If you’ve watched it once or twice you know what to do.  I watched the level 3 video 10 days ago and thought “no way am I ever going to be able to do that!”  10 days later, I’m doing it.  This works if you work it.

To your health!

LW

Mrs. W’s Word Feb 12, 2013

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20130212-092838.jpg

Their” shows ownership: “We went to their house for a party.”

Often mistaken for “there” — a place: “He is not here. He is over there.”

Also mistaken for “they’re”–the contraction for “they are”. “They’re coming over to their house because it is fun to be there.”

LW

Dog Training Is Worth Every Penny

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ImageEmma is so sweet, loving, energetic, resourceful, and VERY smart–too smart for her own good.  Imagine that God should pair me with an alpha female dog…oh, the irony in that.  She’s doing much better with her potty training, but today she peed in Nick’s bed, so I did some reading on that.  After ruling out other things, I feel certain it’s a pack animal dominance/protector/safety instinct that we WILL be managing.

Every night Nick hauls Emma’s crate into his room, and that’s where she sleeps.  Ryan is a light sleeper. He wakes up when her collar jingles or she chews her bone. Nick is sleeping over at a friend’s house tonight.  We have Emma’s crate in our room.  Nick and his friend left, I put Emma to bed, and she cried for 30 minutes.  David worked a 13 hour day that started at 3:30 in the morning. Sorry, Emma, no no.  No no.

Exhausted but determined, I hauled my cookies off the bed, got the training leash and collar, and Emma and I had ourselves a little doggy training practice session.  We did it right in the bedroom at 11:00 at night.

We’re between our 2nd and 3rd session of an 8 session training class at Speck’s in Avon, IN.  Becky is really good with the dogs and, most importantly, the humans. I highly recommend her classes–very affordable and very good.  (I don’t get anything for saying that.)  So we’ve learned “Emma, heel!” and “Sit. Stay.”  That’s our practice routine.  And we practiced it, for 10 minutes.  Man, is that little girl determined to be in charge.  When she gave up and began to mind and mind well, I gave her some love, a couple of ice-cubes (one of her favorite things), and put her back to bed with all her favorite bones.  Within a couple of minutes, she was whining again.

I hauled my irritable cookies off the bed again, put the training collar back on and we marched some more.  We heeled, we sat, and we stayed.  We marched all over the house.  We marched in front of Ryan with a little bit of distraction, we stopped, we changed directions, we sat, we stayed–for another 10 minutes.  This time when I felt she had the message, I took her, still on the leash, to her water dish and served her some nice, fresh cold water.  Then I scratched her belly, hugged her, loved her, told her how good she was, and scratched and loved her some more. Then I gave her another ice-cube and put her to bed.

She’s laying there, quiet as a little mouse, sound asleep, FULLY AWARE OF WHO IS RUNNING THIS SHOW.  Emma, girlfriend, it is not you.  These last couple of days she sure has thought so.  Eating the neighbor children’s shoes, shopping in the trash, bothering poor Teddy Piggy, nipping the kids.  Mommy was slacking on the doggy training practice. I’ve learned, and I’m teaching my family, that if Emma is bad it isn’t Emma’s fault; it’s ours.  We’ve failed to teach her our rules and make sure she understands that she will follow them at all times.

Baby steps.

The problem now is that I have to get the rest of the family completely on board.  I make them attend the training classes, but Nick really babies her.  We’ve discussed that he’s making this harder for all of us, but this dog has become something to him that I couldn’t have imagined. He gets it, but there is something special with him and this dog. It’s a road…a new part of the journey.  A difficult, but good part.

My goal now is that I will get her minding me well, and then it will be easier to teach them to do the same things with her I’ve already been doing.  She’ll know how to do them, and we will gain control of her as family. For now, she IS going to mind me.  That’s SO going to happen.

This class was only $89.  It’s once a week for 8 weeks.  I’ve learned so much after only 2 classes. Becky is really great.  She’s helped me and answered questions outside of class.  It’s really humane and useful training.  I’m planning to take the next level session.  By then the weather will be better and we can do this outside where she really has to ignore distractions.  Should be a barrel of monkeys.

I landed an alpha female.  How karmic is that? : )

LW

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