ILP Week 1 — June 24, 2018

ILP Week 1

What is Hashimoto Thyroid Disease?

I thought that I would start out by giving a little background on what it is.  Hashimoto Disease is a condition where your immune system begins attacking your thyroid.  As you may know your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is found in the front part of your neck (under the Adam’s apple). The thyroid is a gland that is part of the endocrine system.  Your endocrine system is responsible for many things in your body such as metabolism, breathing, heart rate, body temperature, etc.  So, you can see that if that is under attack many things in your body are affected. It was no wonder that I started to gain weight and be so tired that I would almost fall asleep on my drive home from teaching.  My face, fingers, and ankles were so puffy that I didn’t even look like the same person. This is a good article from Mayo Clinic that tells you more about Hashimoto’s.  Hashimoto’s Article I also found this article about the thyroid gland and the endocrine system to be helpful.  Thyroid/Endocrine System

It is a powerful feeling just learning the facts of the medical end of it to be knowledgeable. When I understand what the thyroid does, I understand more of why I am having the symptoms I am having. However, I do think it is interesting in almost all the medical articles that I have read makes it sound like treatment is pretty easy.  But when you talk to or follow the people who are diagnosed with the disease, it is NOT treated that easily.  Which is why I’ve chosen this to be my independent learning project.

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Two books that I have read that were helpful…in different ways from each other, but helpful.

Now What?

Of course there are people out there with this disease with a lot to say.  It’s been quite a process reading through google searches, tweets, Pinterest, etc.  What I mean is, I want to find people who are 1. positive, 2, knowledgeable, 3. helpful, and 4. empowering.  Not being rude, but it’s been hard to know if some of the things that I am reading are hurtful or helpful. I’m having a difficult time trusting some of the things that people who have this disease are saying. I want to have hope and to feel empowered with what I am doing to help myself.  So, what I have decided to do is try to build a strong network of people who have the 4 characteristics that I’m looking for.  I’ve also decided that I will focus on diet and exercise as it pertains to Hashimoto’s Disease. I’m hoping that by narrowing down my focus, I will have better success in finding exactly what it is I’m looking for.






Photo by from Pexels

What are PLNs?

After doing some research, I found out that PLN (personal learning network) is a professional network in order to connect with people to help develop your own skills.  Something that I noticed throughout all my research were all the C’s: Collect, Communicate, Collaborate, and Create. I like this because it helps you to connect with people who have great ideas, resources, and knowledge to share.  As teachers it is so important to be able to collaborate with each other to better educate our students. This is just one article that I read that helps to define what a PLN is and why you should be a part of it. What is a PLN? This article, however, was my favorite one.  I love how it goes through a step by step explanation.  It is very easy to follow. Building your PLN

I love to see things that other teachers try in their classrooms.  It enables me to be able to try new things and to stay fresh as a teacher.  I’ve shared many times that I have been teaching for over 20 years, but that doesn’t mean that I stop learning.  I’ve also shared that it is so important for me to model to my students how to be a life long learner.  I believe that my experiences that I have can be shared just as well.  This is why PLN is a great way to do that.  You are able to share with others through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.  This allows you to gain knowledge from people all over the world easily.  I ran across this video while doing my research.  It was very helpful in showing how to build a network through Twitter. I followed his steps to start building mine.

In fact, I have already started to build my PLN.  I decided that I would concentrate on upper elementary teachers or even middle school and high school.  Since I teach many different subjects, I wanted to be able to get ideas for all those subjects.  As I have written before, I participated in an amazing science workshop.  So, I wanted to follow teachers that have great ideas about science.  And of course, because of my love for books and writing, I am making sure to follow teachers that share books they are reading and ideas for helping students in their writing.  I will be honest and add that as excited as I am about creating this network, I am having a difficult time being able to just read through their tweets and blogs.  I’m hoping once my summer classes are over, I will be able to focus on the ideas and not homework!

Independent Learning Project — June 18, 2018

Independent Learning Project

What to do?

I was trying to figure out what it is that I want to learn about. I feel that being a teacher, I am constantly learning new things.  Since I’m taking classes to add to my teaching endorsement, I’m learning new things.  I’m raising 3 teenagers, so you can imagine all the new things that I am learning with them around!  Being a mom, wife, daughter, teacher, etc. I have to admit that I really haven’t thought of what I want to learn about just for me. Not for school, not for my children or husband, but for me. I really want to take this opportunity to learn something that can be meaningful and maybe to have permission to be selfish about it.  But I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Then when I was out walking one gorgeous evening, I thought of something. Which happens quite often.  It’s the reason I walk in the evenings.  I listen to nature, enjoy the beautiful scenery of where I am blessed to live, and I just breathe…and think through life’s problems.


What am I passionate about?

I have decided to do my research on something that is a little different than any of the examples that were given…my health. You see, less than a year ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that is attacking my thyroid called Hashimoto’s. To make a long story short, I went from being a very healthy adult, working out 5-6 days a week, with lots of energy to keep up with my kids’ and school schedules to barely being able to function.  I gained 40 pounds in less than three years, my body hurt so badly that I had to quit working out, and I would have to take an hour nap almost every day after school.  It took 5 years of these symptoms(plus more) and having to fight for testing to finally get a diagnosis.

However, since this diagnosis, I haven’t been happy with the specialists that I have gone to.  I need more hope than what I am getting.  This isn’t life threatening, but my quality of life needs to be better, healthier.  This summer I have decided to take control of my situation.  I’ve changed doctors to someone who is working with me to make a plan to get me to feeling better.  I have started working with a nutritionist to help me figure out how to fuel my body more efficiently.  Now, with this independent learning project, I can use time to learn as much as I possibly can for my health.  What could be any more important than that?

Reflections on hacking/making/playing — June 16, 2018

Reflections on hacking/making/playing

A Science Workshop…

On Monday and Tuesday of this week I attended a two day science workshop.  Before I get into that I want to remind people that I am moving from teaching 2nd grade to teaching 6th grade.  Because of our scheduling, I am going to be teaching a science class for the 5th and 6th grades.

Now let me go on to explain that I haven’t taught science for many years.  We have been partially departmentalized, and I have been responsible for teaching the language classes (writing and grammar) while the other teacher taught science.  I am very excited to be teaching the older elementary kids, however my stress level has risen knowing that I’m going to be teaching a subject that I haven’t taught in a while.  I wasn’t ok with feeling this way, so I signed up for a science workshop in hopes that I would learn something and that it would be worth my time. This workshop was so worth my time!

How this Science Workshop connects to our readings and TED Talks…


The workshop was presented by a retired chemistry teacher named Brett D. Moulding.  How he taught us in the workshop was modeling how we would teach the kids in our classrooms.  We were up, moving around, doing investigations, and learning before he ever lectured about whatever it was we were investigating.  It was amazing to me that by “flip flopping” the lesson from the traditional lecture, then investigate…to investigate, then lecture seemed much more natural. The hack in this type of teaching is by changing the way it was being presented. This flip flop model he called the GRC (Gather Reason Communicate) Instructional Sequence. Moulding spoke a lot about kids being naturally curious, and how we need to use that curiosity to enable students to drive their own learning and to become life long learners, not just learning for the test. This is where play and make come in.  The investigating that we did through experiments, making models, or using observation skills in order to learn was so much more meaningful.

As the two days went on, I got to thinking about how you could set up all your lessons like this.  How this model would work for whatever subject you are teaching.  As an elementary teacher, I am responsible for all areas of discipline, even if we are partially departmentalized.  Elementary teachers teach Reading, Writing, Grammar, Science, Math, SS, etc. So, I was very excited to have learned and participated in this workshop. Here is a link  from Heather Johnston, a high school science teacher who blogged about an interview she had with Brett Moulding that would be worth checking out. Brett Moulding Interview

Since I was at the workshop for two days I didn’t start work on this class until Wednesday.  So, you can imagine my excitement when I watched Logan LaPlante’s “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy” and read Bud Hunt’s “Centering on Essential Lenses:Make/Hack/Play”.  I thought to myself that this is exactly what I have spent the last two days thinking about! Then I watched Ramsey Musallam’s “3 Rules to Spark Learning” which I will share with you.  He, like Moulding, teaches chemistry. Musallam, also, spoke about the importance of being curious, and using that curiosity to teach students.

On a final note…

I have to share a personal moment of being a proud mom.  I was in the middle of writing my blog post and reflecting about all the things that I had learned this week. While sitting at my desk, I looked outside and saw my oldest son.  When Moulding and Musallam talk about curiosity being natural, I thought they are definitely talking about my son.  He has been curious his entire life, and continues to be curious.  As he was walking back from doing chores that evening, he noticed some grasses growing that he wondered what they were.  Instead of leaving it at that, he came inside, found a book that listed the common grasses of Nebraska, and headed out to identify them.  I pray that no one ever squelches or takes that curiosity away from him.  He is an example of a person who is on track to being a lifelong learner! And isn’t that our main goal as teachers?


Digital Literacy Research — June 11, 2018

Digital Literacy Research

What does digital literacy mean?

After doing some research about digital literacy, I have come to the conclusion that it is the intersection of technology and literacy.  You need to be able to gain information through using the variety of technologies.  Digital devices such as computers, smart phones, laptops, tablets, etc are used to be able to communicate, collaborate, and express thoughts. I also learned that digital literacy is not just gaining that information, but being able to evaluate and create. To be able to do this, web browsers, search engines, email, blogs, photo and video software, etc are used.

This leads into an important aspect of digital literacy which is becoming fluent. People must be able to be efficient in technology skills, evaluate the relevance and accuracy of the information they find, and be proficient in creating digital content for a specific audience.  All of these things must also be done thoughtfully and responsibly.

So, as you can see, many skills must be learned in order to be successful.  For me personally, this is completely overwhelming.  Especially since I did not grow up with these technologies, and I’m not even that old! Last semester was the first time I had even posted a blog or used Twitter. This was a huge step for me. I have come a long way through some very patient nudging from Professor Ellington, however I am not confident at all in my abilities when it comes to creating or expressing myself digitally.

I feel that I am more open minded than I was before.  I’m willing to continue learning, but it is the risk-taking aspect of this digital learning that makes me stress.  I expect that this class is going to push me even farther than my last class.  Already I have noticed that in our assignments that we have a “blogging boot camp” which will challenge me to add something new to my blog posts.  Honestly, when I first see these, I’m not happy.  However, after doing research on digital literacy and fluency, I understand that this is a step that I need in order to be able to teach my students.

When I was in college for my education training, a professor once told me that I should not ask my students to do something that I, myself, am not willing to do. If I am asking them to take risks to enable their learning, then I need to take risks myself.  If I am asking them to become life long learners, then I must walk the walk!

A blog that I read while doing this research talked about that journey from digital literacy to digital fluency.  Journey from Digital Literacy to Digital Fluency It was an interesting post that articulated how I feel about this process myself.  I hope that you enjoy this well.


Me, as a learner —

Me, as a learner


Start with the negative…

I know that I probably shouldn’t start with the negative, but I am.  My first experiences in school were very positive.  I can’t necessarily remember everything, however I remember a feeling of being confident and happy.  I loved my teachers and I didn’t doubt that they loved me back!


Then I got into 6th grade.  That is when I became aware that I was bad in math.  Until then, I didn’t realize.  I found this out when I was put to the back of the room with a couple of other kids that were bad at math as well.  We didn’t get to do what the other kids were doing.  We had “special assignments”, and when we had questions, we went to the para in the back that was with us, not to the teacher. The reason why I included this into my story of my life as a learner was because it had such an impact on me that it has made me the teacher I am today.  Never do I ever want to make a student to feel that way.  I understand now as an adult that I wasn’t bad at math, I struggled, but I wasn’t bad.

Now on to the positive…

Very early on I realized that I was a visual learner who loved to be shown exactly how to do something by a teacher who is right there with me.  Which is so interesting considering that I am taking so many online courses.  They have all taken me completely out of my comfort zone, because I have to figure things out without that visual or a teacher in person.  I’m looking things up on my own and reading to learn how to do something.


Since my 6th grade math teacher, I was very fortunate to have many teachers who made a very positive impact.  To this day there are 3 teachers, 1 elementary and 2 high school, that I still think very fondly of.  All three of them were so caring to everyone and made me feel respected.  They were the ones that inspired me to go into education.


The times that I have most loved learning was when I was in college.  It was there that the love of books and reading was instilled.  I had 2 college professors that encouraged me and enabled me to believe that teaching was my calling.  I embraced that feeling and actually became a true student.  In high school, I was more serious about sports and my social life, however in college is where I began to see myself as a learner. For some reason, that’s just when it clicked for me.


The most important moment of my life as a learner was when I had my youngest child.  He was born with a cloudy cornea.  The first several years of his life was spent seeing doctor after doctor after doctor.  He had a cornea transplant when he was four months old and another eye surgery when he was a year old.  Those first years I not only learned as much about the eye as I could so that I could understand what the doctors were talking about, but I also learned how to be an advocate for my child.  Thankfully we have AMAZING doctors that have been with him since he was 5 days old. And he is doing AMAZINGLY well as a 14 year old student and athlete….and driver!


Book Love Chapters 8 & 9 — April 22, 2018

Book Love Chapters 8 & 9


Chapter 8:

I loved her idea of Big Idea Books!  What a great thing to do with the students using the books that they are reading on their own.  It’s a way to connect many different books, and still give them choice.  I, again, loved that she gave examples to show exactly what she did to help set up our own.  The quote “Students remember what they do and what they discover, not what they are told,” really sums up what the purpose of the Big Idea Books is suppose to do.

The other great idea from Chapter 8 was how she has her students write a quarterly reading reflection.  I love how she has her students reflect at their reading-rate, what their interests are, the total number of books they read, and what genres they read the most.  What an amazing way to look at what you have done, and to set new goals for the next quarter.

Chapter 9:

This was probably my favorite chapter.  I have been saying for years how I have felt like all the testing that we do fails to truly know what some students are capable of, especially the ones who struggle.  I have seen year after year students barely able to read, be able to read a chapter book by the end of the year.  Or barely write a sentence for their story, and by March be able to write at least 3 paragraphs with a beginning, middle, and end.  However, according to state testing still not be proficient at grade level.  It makes me so sad!

I loved how she talked about how our own reading life matters.  It does.  We model for our students what reading should look like, and if we don’t read, why would they read.  We can’t say how important reading is, and fail to show them with our own personal reading that it is important and that you can enjoy reading.

What a great professional book this was to read.  I’ve many pages marked with dog ears, sticky notes, and highlights to refer back to year after year!


Summer Reading Plans —

Summer Reading Plans


Of course I am looking forward to summer vacation.  It’s the only time that I am not bound to such a stringent schedule, and I love that feeling.  However, I will be taking more classes and since I will be teaching a new grade level, I will also be busy learning the curriculum for 6th grade.  Which leads me into my reading plans for this summer.

My plan is to read books that fall in the 5th, 6th, 7th grade level so that I can be familiar with what the students will be reading.  And of course, I want to be able to do book talks and recommend books to my students. I have spent quite a bit of time looking at the Notable Children’s Books 2018 list to get me started.  Books are ordered, made a list of books that are available at my local library, and all there is left to do is start reading!

My goal is to read 2 books a week. I feel like this will be something that I would be able to do without feeling too much pressure, I still have a new curriculum to learn and classes to take.  I’ll read where-ever and whenever I have a moment….at home, camping, outside, cuddled up on my couch, etc.

Happy summer reading!

Monday Reading Response 13 — April 19, 2018

Monday Reading Response 13


Book Overview:

Theodore Boone is the 13 year old son of two lawyers.  All of his life he has been around lawyers, judges, the courthouse.  In fact the courthouse is his favorite place in the whole world. It is normal for kids to come to him with legal questions and for him to help them with legal advice.  Until one day when a kid comes to him asking him to keep a secret that throws Theodore in the middle of the biggest murder case in Strattenburg’s history. A murder case in which his favorite judge, friend, and idol, Judge Gantry, is presiding over. The information that Theodore knows could turn the case upside down, but the witness refuses to come forward for fear of being sent back to El Salvador.  Should Theo tell what he knows to prevent a murderer from being found not guilty, or should he keep this secret to prevent a witness being deported?

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book.  I have read a few of John Grisham’s books before, so when I found this book on my bookshelf I thought that I would give it a try.  It did not disappoint.  The book was an easy read, and I found myself thinking that kids in 5th-7th grade would enjoy reading it.  The story line was easy to follow and moved fast enough that I didn’t get bored with it.  Cute story and it is a series.

Monday Reading Response 12 — April 12, 2018

Monday Reading Response 12



Deadly by Julie Chibbaro is a historical fiction book set in the early 1900s in New York City about a 16 year old girl, Prudence, who is not like other girls of her age.  She is attending Mrs. Browning’s School for Girls where she is taught how to be a lady and trained in jobs such as a secretary. But Prudence is not interested in that.  She is interested in science.  Particularly about disease and death.  Prudence lives with her mother, since her dad left for the war and never came back.  Her brother died from complications from an accident.  Because it is just her and her mother, Prudence gets a job with the Department of Health and Sanitation.  This leads her into a whole new world, where she feels like she is finally being challenged.  She is the personal assistant to Mr. Soper, the Sanitation Engineer.

There has been an outbreak of typhoid fever and Mr. Soper is trying to find the source.  Eventually their investigating leads to a person named Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant and a cook for rich households.  Mary is later found to be a healthy carrier of the typhoid bacteria and is quarantined until they figure out how to help her. However, Mary, now known as Typhoid Mary, is fighting back and takes the Department to court to regain her freedom.  Will she be freed to go out and get more people sick? Or will the judge keep her quarantined?

My Review:

I did not purposely choose another historical fiction book.  I found the cover interesting and just started reading it, not realizing it was a book about Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary).  As I got to reading, I did have to take some time to do some research about the case.  It is a very interesting story.  I really did enjoy the book and found myself being able to read it quickly.  I liked the character of Prudence and the story that was developed with her and her growing confidence to be the person that she was meant to be.