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Saturday, February 28, 2015

He Lived Long and Prospered

The passing of Leonard Nimoy was so sad to hear, but reading the tributes and messages from fans really made me think of the impact one person can have.  I know this feels a little off-topic, but bear with me here.

  I have always been fascinated with space, I went to space camp in sixth grade, and twice more as an educator (thanks to a fabulous program by Honeywell!).  Space truly is the "final frontier," and having a show like Star Trek that not only explored the possibilities of space travel,  but also the possibilities of a world where discrimination and greed were a thing of the past was amazing.

Watching someone like Mr. Nimoy, who made being intellectual and bookish "cool" was special.  I wasn't a very extroverted child, and spent a lot of time reading, solving puzzles, and exploring outside.  So that slight social awkwardness and logical thinking that Spock exuded was something I could relate to.  I didn't get to watch much Star Trek as a child, but I was always drawn to  Nimoy's character.  (My husband really got me into watching Star Trek more.  We watched some of the original series, but mostly The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.  And oh, the scene with Kirk and a dying Spock in Wrath of Khan, what a tearjerker.)

Maybe this is why I always have a special place in my heart for *that* kid.  You know the one.  The one that has a little trouble making friends, seems a little recluse, but loves learning new things.  Is always eager to solve a problem, and loves to share what they know with you.

So, here's to you Mr. your caring spirit, and absolute love for what you did.  For embracing Mr. Roddenberry's message, your character, and your fans.

Thank you for bringing us Mr. Spock, the guy who made being "logical" cool, but who also showed us the power and importance of emotion.  Rest in peace, you have lived long and prospered!

Cheers to you, Mr. Nimoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Teachers Are Heroes...AGAIN!

In case you haven't seen the updated "count down clock" on the Teachers Pay Teachers site, you've got an extra sale day tomorrow!  So, just a reminder to save up to 28%!

Thank you for ALL you do to reach your students!  You are heroes!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bringing Logic Back

Like Justin Timberlake, I've decided that something needs to be brought back.  No...not that, silly. Logic.

With every unit I did, we used higher order thinking skills to make connections with what we were learning.  We evaluated whether something would work, we applied skills we had learned, we created ways to share what we had learned...but sometimes when we got to the test, certain students would struggle with the fact that "you didn't ask us this before," or "this wasn't on the study guide."

Now, before I go on, you should know I always made study guides similar to the test format, because I always felt it helped lessen anxiety on the day of the test. The "information" was on the study guide, they just needed to bring the understanding to the party.

If we are doing a social studies test about geography and map skills for example,  I am not going to use the exact same map on the test that I used on the study guide. Why?  Well, it isn't a map memorization test, it is a map skills test.  Can you look at a map and answer questions applying the skills you have learned?  Believe it or not, this has merited conferences with parents before.  "But they told me that they studied the wrong map."  You are so right,  they did, because if they studied the map, then they studied the wrong thing!

What does this have to do with logic, you ask?  Well, those connections that some students are lacking come a lot easier with a little common sense, deductive reasoning, and logic.

How can you "practice" using logic?  I mean, there are no text books on "common sense."  (Okay, Thomas Paine's book does not count!)  Unless it is indoor recess time, trying to explain why you have five games of "Clue" going on with your class groups may be difficult...but there is a way to practice deductive reasoning and logic, with logic puzzles!

I have loved these little "X" and "O" riddled things since I was first introduced to them in second grade.  I instantly became addicted.  "Is that all we have for our warm-up today?" I'd ask, having polished it off in just a few minutes.  As I got better at them, the matrices became larger, the clues, more complex, and as a result, they became more rewarding.  It is like gymnastics for your brain, and I loved it.  Best thing was, I could explain how I knew that "Jenny was the one who brought the tulips to the teacher on Wednesday", or why "Lisa couldn't have possibly been the student who brought flowers on Friday."  I began to learn how to use what facts I knew, to explain other things I had learned because of putting facts together.

This is what you want your students to be able to do, make connections, take their knowledge and create understanding!  Also, the practice of using deductive reasoning to eliminate possibilities is oh-so-helpful when it comes to multiple choice tests (which many state tests are!).

So, want to try this out with your students?  Download my free logic puzzles here:

 Just so you know, these make GREAT "early work" for testing days to stretch their brains.  Kids love puzzles, and these are no exception!  I also have holiday logic puzzle sets, and a set I just made with even more puzzles here:

 Please visit my page on Facebook where I'll be having a giveaway to celebrate my first blog post!  It starts February 23rd and goes until March 2nd!  Be sure to enter by going to the "Giveaway" tab! 

 Here's hoping to create a lot more "logic" fans!