Spring Ahead

As I am home another day staring out my window at the white, snow covered  trees, I no longer see beauty.  Actually, I am tired of it.  Winter can show us beauty in pictures and maybe during one snowfall where you enjoy the benefits of your warm home, a cup of hot cocoa, and a day to catch up on other things in life besides work.  Well, this winter did not give this to me.  I already spent 5 days without power, heat and cable and I am still trying to recoup what I lost in my refrigerator.  Just too many basics to restock up on at once. My schedule is upside down and after staying home today I hope to get completely back on track.

So it is March 13 and Mother Nature promises us Spring in 7 days.  Well I am holding you to this Mother Nature!!!! I think I speak for myself, as well as everyone around me, as a person who is done with winter and who just wants to get back to life.  After missing one week of Pilates, Zumba and Barre classes I am starting to feel as if weeks of work have gone to winter flab.  I browse through my closet, on yet another day home, to think ahead to the fun outfits I will hopefully be wearing soon as I dream of warm weather, sitting on my deck with a glass of wine, and seeing my friends who have all had the same problems.  We all now officially have cabin fever and want to be together again.  Sharing a meal, having a toast to togetherness and just celebrating life! So we are now surrendering Mother Nature and begging you to bring Spring on!!

This is a week of celebrations for me – first, my birthday and then St. Patrick’s Day.  So a little bit of cheating will occur.  I will attempt to limit it to a little bit.  But I have set a new date of Sunday, March 18 (two days before the first day of Spring) to recommit to my eating plan, exercise challenge and to continue becoming a healthier me.  Hope all of you will join me as we get closer to those summer months that we all love and cherish.




Blackout Interruption

So I left work early anticipating a little storm that became an upheaval all around me. The beginning of the trip was painless with just some wind until we got closer to home. Streets were full of thick heavy snowy slush and the wind pushed the car as we drove down one street and had to turn again for a down tree. A few more of these turns and I was almost there. I was ready to kiss the ground when I got home and saw my husband’s car covered with a fallen tree. And so it began….

So we got the tree off the car without a hitch. No scratches. We were lucky. Ok. This should be over soon. No such luck. After two flickers of lights we lost power a little after 3. This was right after another tree fell and blocked the road I would have driven down if I left work on time. Thankful I left early.

We figured this would be an hour blackout tops but the wind continued. It was fierce and loud. We heard fire trucks and emergency vehicles every few minutes. Now I was not so hopeful. Two hours later I decided to just make dinner by lighting the stove. We had some chick pea pasta bolognese with a glass of Cabernet and lit lots of candles.

Our mood was still hopeful until another two hours passed and we started feeling the cold. So bedtime it was at 8:30 – very abnormal for me but I tried. We snuggled under three blankets with out faithful bichon. After a few hours I froze into dreamland.

The next morning I desperately need a cup of coffee and some answers. Coffee down the street with no bagels (machine down of course). So we try the overcrowded diner and spend two hours with other blackout victims waiting for food and charging our phones. Ready to face the world again.

Back home now to a frigid damp house. We call over 50 hotels that are either blacked out as well or booked. Luckily for us (and our marriage) we get a room in the next state. Resting finally, watching Sideways, and craving a glass of Pinot Noir, we hope the prediction of no power for seven days is wrong. Please let them be wrong. Wanted to write in case I can’t get to a computer for another week.


pexels-photo-207962.jpegToday as my youngest child turns 26, I reflect back on what motherhood has done to my life.  From the moment my first child was born almost 29 years ago, my life has never been the same.  They have been the reason I wake up in the morning, cry at the slightest joy or sorrow, and know that this is why I continue to go on each day.

As someone who has lost both her parents and am an only child, these thoughts are even stronger for me.  At the end of the day, it’s my children and my husband that are at the essence of my being.  I am so blessed to have them both and will always reflect on raising my children as the best part of my life.

I have had a career in advertising, I am currently an elementary school teacher and I am a wife, cousin and aunt as well.  The word “mother” is the most important tag I have given myself.  Yes, it is not always easy.  Children hurt your feelings and don’t always make the same decisions you want them to, but in the end they are the essence of your life.  They are the reflection of you that will carry on long after you are gone.  I remember my own mother and how she cherished the ground I walked on even as I was a much older adult.  The love you feel when that baby is placed in your arms never goes away. 

As a mother I would give up everything for their happiness and wish that I can take away all their sorrows.  I want to be there for every joy as well as every bump in the road to help them through.  There is no deeper love than a mother’s love.  And no greater joy in your life.  Happy Birthday baby girl.


Effective Lesson Planning

­Creating An Effective Lesson Plan to Maximize Learning Outcomes

If you were to design a perfect lesson plan, what characteristics do you think it would contain? Lesson plans serve as a framework for the learning activities that will occur in a classroom every day. They should focus the class on specific learning objectives and maximize instructional time. The lesson plan is a tool that effective teachers use to ensure that each part of a lesson supports a specified learning objective and to ensure that the activities and time spent will lead students to master content and skills.

Sometimes teachers think they are creating an amazing lesson plan until it fails for many reasons, and they find out it wasn’t that amazing after all.  There are many components of every lesson plan that are necessary, however, the motivation goal is by far the most important.  What will your lesson plan contain that will motivate students to want to continue listening and ultimately learn what you set out to teach them?

Here are some basic teaching strategies you can use to deliver an effective lesson plan. These characteristics can be used at any grade and can be tailored to your specific class and community of learners.

.  Have an Objective

This is one of the most important first steps to creating your lesson plan.  What will students be able to do when you are done with your lesson?  Having an objective for your lesson isn’t just important for you to know why you are teaching the lesson, but it’s important for the students to know why they need to learn what you are teaching them. As you are planning for your lesson, think about what you need your students to know, and what are they going to take away from your lesson. After you have figured this out, then you need to explain your objective to the students so they know why they need to learn what you are about to teach them. Try to offer real-word examples if you can. Often we can put these objectives on the board and they can be program into Language Objectives and Content Objectives (Social Studies, Math) as well.

. Have a Motivator Ready at the Beginning of Your Lesson

A motivator can be as simple as a fun poem or a video segment.  It can also be a simple question that encourages class discussion.  A class discussion will give you more background information (a student’s schema) and you may be able to alter your delivery of the lesson after getting a better feel for the overall background knowledge in the area you are teaching.  A motivator at the onset of the lesson will grab the students attention to continue in your learning activity.

. Model Your Expectations

Before you begin your actual lesson, make sure that you teach and model your expectations for the lesson. For example, if you were teaching a science experiment, the first thing that you would do is show the students how to properly use the materials. You would also tell them the consequences of what would happen if they do not handle the materials properly.  This type of modelling can be used in any lesson.  For example, in a math lesson you can discuss the manipulatives that will be helping them achieve their goal and how they should and should not be used.

­. Actively Engage Students

Children learn by doing, not just by hearing. Get your students engaged in the lesson by having them partake in hands-on activities and working with others in class (partners or groups). Use cooperative learning techniques, or technology like an iPad or a whiteboard to enhance your lesson. Keep their minds and hands moving and you’ll see that it will help you reach your lessons objective.

.Move Around the Clas

While students are busy applying the skills that you have taught them you need to be mobile and move around the classroom to make sure all students are keeping on track with what they are supposed to be doing. Take this time to answer any questions, give the children who may be off a task a gentle reminder, and scan the classroom to make sure all is going as planned. As you move about the classroom, ask students critical thinking questions to strengthen their comprehension skills. Use how and why questions to make sure that you are meeting your objective.

.Compliment Positive Behaviors

When you see a student paying attention, working hard, and doing what they are supposed to be doing to meet your goal, compliment them. Make sure that all students see you doing this, so they will understand why you are pleased and in turn try to meet your objective for the lesson in a positive way as well.

Once your lesson’s objective has been met, take a moment to reflect upon what had worked and what did not in your lesson. Make a note for next time you need to teach this lesson (next school year) or review a concept (next week).  Look for any patterns that may have come up, or try to find what you were lacking in a particular area. Once you are armed with this knowledge of self-reflection, you can take that information and do something with it. You will find this type of self-reflection is extremely valuable in developing your skills as an educator. This deep understanding will only help your lessons become more effective.

Lesson planning provides time for the teacher to think through resources that will best capture the attention of students and choose learning activities that will clearly convey content required for students to meet the lesson objectives. Effective teachers use lesson plans as a reflective opportunity to make decisions on what activities will best meet the needs of students and to predict/plan reactions to student challenges. When teachers take the time to create detailed plans, they are more likely to present content and skills to students that are objective driven, well-paced, clear, and lead students to mastery of a skill.



‘Italy from autumn to spring’ by Carol Forster

via ‘Italy from autumn to spring’ by Carol Forster


Our Future

67B68E00-6FB8-42B9-8EDB-34535B05BEF1.jpegI often wonder, as both an educator and a citizen of this country, what is going to happen in the world 20 years from now.  In schools, we spend less time teaching respect and common sense.  We spend less time having students study and learn by rote.  I am not saying that a child should memorize the dates of historical events.  What I think they need to know is how to add numbers, how to count change and the basic principles of math so that they can function in every day society.  How will they know if they have enough money to pay their bills if they cannot add simple numbers?

This is even true about reading.  Students read online with some sort of game attached yet you give them an application or sheet to write on and they can’t even remember to write their name on it.  Even if you just said it five minutes ago, they act like they never heard your words.  I am worried for the state of a world who is more interested in people entering our country than those who live here.  We have seen that those who live here have to pay student loans until they have their own children in college, while politicians want new citizens to get it all for free.

This is affecting all elements of our society.  People are forgetting the simple act of interaction.  We can meet online, order online and, if we wanted to, live very comfortably, not ever leaving our house.  We become enveloped in a world where we like the actions of people we barely know on Facebook and feel satisfied with human relationships.

I don’t know about you but I like speaking to you on the phone, meeting you for dinner and chatting with you at the local supermarket.  I worry as we continue into this “technological society of misfits” that our best friend will be Alexa and Suri and not the people that we started our lives with, went through school with and mostly laughed and cried with during our lives.

Yes, I will be the first to admit that I enjoy Facebook and Instagram and the gratification of ordering on Amazon, but I will always find a need for human contact and love.  I want to continue teaching our children that the world is full of wonderful things to learn and experience, and in order to do so we need to be really in it.  So I hope we all continue to enjoy our tech experiences every day but do not forget kindness, love and friendship which is best felt in person.


Tax Season Tension

This morning I decided to organize myself as I finally found myself with a Saturday with nothing planned and no errand to run.  So here I am faced with a folder of paper to organize.  Oh no.  Where to begin?

I get my wits about me and try to recall what I did in the past, before all bills were online and not all tax forms were mailed to you.  This was a good place to start.  I started a list of what forms I needed and what deductions I needed to computer.  A general list was forming in my mind:  house, bank, job, charities, business expenses…. and then my organizing began its flow.

Every year we always fear leaving something out of the pile for our accountant coupled with the fear that we many not receive any money back from the government.  That was always like a bonus for the year in anticipation of a house project or maybe a long awaited vacation.

So, like I did this morning, take a deep breath and start making piles and lists.  That is my life as a teacher, as a writer and now as a tax preparer.

Good luck with your tax returns this year.  Here’s hoping everyone gets a deserved refund that can add to the quality of your life.