Monday, August 31, 2009

SUN: Good For You Or Not?


"You are going to look like a wrinkled old hag. You need to go live in a deep hole in Alaska!", said the dermatologist to me. This is a true story. My complexion is very light and he wanted me to "GET IT!" "Use sunscreen everyday and stay out of the sun!", he said.

I was an avid tennis player so I slathered up for 15 years and hoped I didn't fry. Years later I still wear my sunscreen and choose shade over sun most of the time. But not all the time.

Now the latest medical gurus advise us to "sit in the sun without sunscreen for 10-20minutes a day" and are calling vitamin D the Sunshine Vitamin. A recent British study found that 87% of volunteers (that's a lot) had low blood levels of vitamin D in winter and spring, and 61% had low levels even in summer. They say this deficiency can lead to asthma, heart and auto immune problems, cancer, weak bones and muscles, and mental disorders. Whew!

The bottom line is: Unless you eat a ton of salmon and sardines, eggs and OJ, and shitake mushrooms every day, you better get some sunshine or take supplements. For me, I am having my coffee and breakfast outside every morning with, OMG, naked skin....no sunscreen, not a drop. Ask your doctor what you should do but I'm just sayin'.....it's awfully easy to go sit outside awhile!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pythagoras and Colors


Mention math to most people, it seems, and they grimace as if they have indigestion. So I thought it was high time to have a little fun playing with numbers.

Pythagoras, The Father Of Numbers, lived long, long ago in Greece in the 500BC era. He was a most interesting philosopher and mathematician, famous for discovering the Pythagorean Theorem, the one theorem that every geometry student knows and loves. LOL! The sum of the squares of the legs of any right triangle equals the square of the hypotenuse....you remember, a squared + b squared = c squared?

Pythagoras, who thought numbers were the "essence of all being" had a cult-like following which studied music, astronomy, and religion. He believed in reincarnation and was one of the first to think the earth was round. He discovered the theory of proportion which we all use most every day without even realizing it. "Odd numbers were masculine", he said, "and even numbers were feminine". He was really a strange dude. He had one of his own followers executed! Why? Supposedly because his colleague discovered irrational numbers and Pythagoras found them "unthinkable". Actually rational numbers are, well, totally irrational.
I started this entry to share this numerology quiz. I'm finally getting to it. Here's what you do:
Using the chart above, take each letter in your first and last name and find its corresponding number on the chart. Add up all of the numbers, then add the digits in your answer to a single digit. That is your number.
Example: Sandra Meek 1+1+5+4+9+1+4+5+5+2=37. 3+7=10 1+0=1 So my number is 1. My numerology color personality from the chart is red and here is the description: Red: The most dominant personality. A visionary and risk-taker: energetic, passionate, tenacious, flamboyant, and courageous. I like it! Find your number and go to HouseBeautiful.com to see the meaning of your color. See. Numbers can be fun. No more grimacing!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

PBS: The Start Of School Can Be A Nightmare???

This is a follow-up to my earlier posting entitled 7 Step Survival Guide For Back To School.

PBS is talking about the same happening: going back to school. For some it was August 1 and for some school doesn't start until after Labor Day.

When I was "little" I remember being excited for school to start and getting new school shoes: leather penny loafers or saddle oxfords. We got just a few school supplies and that was it. It was fun to go back, meet the new teacher, and see friends again....and very quickly the novelty wore off and it became as comfortable and familiar as a favorite old shoe.

Today things are so much more complicated. Since PBS gets 'just a little more' website traffic than I do (!), I am sharing their comments with you. These are directly from the PBS site following the article, The Start of School Can Be a Nightmare by Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock.

Jackie writes... My child is going into kindergarten, and my fears are running more along the lines of "my poor sweet baby is going to have his feelings hurt and come home jaded and different." He is a sweet, sensitive boy (think "tin man" from Wizard of Oz) who considers every kid to be a friend he just hasn't met yet. I am afraid the kids on the bus will tell him there is no Santa and that he will have a tough time with mean kids. You get the idea. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:09 AM


Aviva writes... Jackie - Funny, you get the same answer Jeannine got, just on a different level. Like 6th graders in middle school, kindergarten kids are often kept separate from the rest of the students so they can adapt. Sure, they will be on the bus, in the lunch room and at recess with older kids who will open their eyes to new things in the world but that is what we call growing up. Your influence will continue to be your child's primary source as long as you want to keep it that way. Be there to help him grow and learn - that's how we grow as parents too. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM


Heather writes... My unfounded worry is that the mysterious "supplies list" has not yet arrived from the school. I'm somehow worried that I'll miss all the best sales and have the one kid who gets to school with nothing in tow but her backpack. That and we still have no info on the bus route or pick-up/drop-off schedule. Can you tell we're just doing kindy for the first time? Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:23


Aviva writes... Heather - welcome to school! No need to wait for the answers to come to you - head on in there and start asking questions. As a teacher, it is easy to forget some parents are new to this whole school thing. You will not be shamed for not knowing what to do and will probably be cheered on by other parents who have lots of the same questions you do. The teachers will certainly appreciate your desire to be involved and seek out information. So, raise your hand and ask away. In doing so, you will also be setting a great example for your child to do the same. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM


Jeannine writes... My 11 yr. old daughter is entering Middle School as a 6th grader. Nervous about her being around kids older and more advanced -- if you know what I mean. Can't I keep her innocent a while longer or am I dreaming? Posted on August 18, 2009 at 9:48 AM


Aviva writes... Jeannine - Most middle schools are pretty good about keeping 6th graders separated from the "older" kids - quite frankly, the administration would prefer to give these new comers a chance to adapt to their environment. The transition from elementary to middle school is huge. Not only are academic expectations different, social settings are totally, completely foreign to most 6th graders. Yes, your child will be introduced to many new things; however, your personal interaction will help guide her along her way. Be there to answer questions and assist with the rough spots (even when it seems you are being pushed away). Just because it may be true that more day time hours are spent with school peers than with parents, it is also true that parents are still the greatest influence on kids. Posted on August 18, 2009 at 12:50 PM


Janet writes... My son is changing schools. In New York, some schools still keep 6th graders in the Elementary school. This is the case with his previous school. We are moving to Colorado, and his peers have already been in MS for a year. How do I help him handle the new homework load and locker trouble(etc)while he adjusts to a whole new school and set of friends!! (I think I'm more nervous than he is, but his outbursts are telling me otherwise.) :/ Posted on August 18, 2009 at 2:56 PM


Devra writes... Hi Janet, There is a reason moving is listed among the top ten most stressful things a human being can do. It is stressful! If you are identifying that you are more nervous than your son, my first thought would be to try to step outside of yourself and see if you need to keep your own anxiety in check. Kids are much like the horses you will encounter in Colorado, they sense how the people around them feel. Listen and reflect your son's feelings and try not to comb over what he may be feeling or infuse your own nervousness into your son. Examples of each are phrases like " Don't worry, it's going to be fine." or "You don't need to think about that." or "I bet you are worried about the new school and leaving your friends." Instead consider open ended inquiry, and observations that normalize what's going on. Examples of those are "Moving is stressful. Things may be tense around here for a while until everyone settles in to the new place." or "Even if I seem busy, if you need to talk about any of what's going on, let's talk." or "Would you like me to help collect the addresses and phone numbers of your friends here? Are there pictures of places you would like to have before we move?" And if you have plans to visit New York again, let your son know visits will happen in the future. As for the new school and locker trouble, unless you accompanied him to school and figured out those issues when you lived in NY, leave it to your son and school to handle in Colorado. You'll know if he needs help. Let the school know you have concerns, they will work with you to make your son's transition smooth. While I am a native New Yorker, my mother is from Colorado. I can tell you, as can Aviva who now lives in Colorado, the West is fairly laid back in comparison to NY. We're confident your son will make new friends and get his homework done too! If you have more concerns, feel free to email us. Posted on August 19, 2009 at 7:44 AM


Kristen writes... Ok, I'll confess. I'm worried when I drop mine off at preschool that people will look at me oddly when I high-five myself leaving the school. Am I the only person who won't be teary-eyed and long for the moment that I get to pick them up? Summer is a very long time with preschoolers. Posted on August 20, 2009 at 9:39 AM

I'd still love to have your comments below too!

A History Lesson: Edward Kennedy


Edward Kennedy 1932-2009
This video says it all. I wish I could post it here but it is 13 minutes and takes way too long to load. Go see it if you can.

Edward Kennedy was not perfect. None of us are. He lived through a lot of personal pain and fought his own demons because of it. Though two of his brothers outranked him politically, he ended up having more influence on our government than either Jack or Robert. He picked his political battles on which he refused to budge, and on other political issues he was known as a great collaborator on both sides. I did not know that he joined with President George Bush in support of the No Child Left Behind bill. As a teacher, that gives me pause to question the sanity of both of them.....sorry, I couldn't resist that one.

The world has lost a great man today. A perfect man? No. But the balance tips way, way over on the side of good. May he rest in peace with his bros.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

R U More Right Brain Or Left Brain?


We all have two hemispheres in our brain, a right and a left. We tend to say that those of us who are the artists, musicians, and other obviously creative types are more right brained. Those of us who are more linear and logical thinkers, perhaps a bit more organized and structured are thought to be more left brained. Who really knows!
It does affect how we learn and perhaps which teaching styles and personalities we respond to most readily. Right brain students might do well with colored highlighters, colored ink, mind mappings, skits, and more open ended questions that allow a creative thought.
Left brain students might be more comfortable in a more structured classroom with assignments posted daily in the same place each time. Lists, attention to detail, and tests with a clear cut, definite answer might be more to these students' liking.
This is way over-generalized but you get the picture.
Just for fun, take this little quiz . It's free and all you have to put is your first name. Give it a go just for fun and try not to over-think it. Go with your first response. Leave your results in the comments below. It will also tell whether you are more auditory or visual.
I came out exactly 50% right brained and 50% left brained, 46% auditory and 54% visual. So I can learn well by listening but better by seeing. Come on, play along!

Monday, August 24, 2009

One Child Missing From Home

Don't worry. This child isn't really missing but has just gone off to college for the first time. Chances are you drove them, helped them bring in their stuff and get settled, and then said goodbye. How did that go? If it was just a few days ago you might have a few crocodile tears as you read this. If it's been awhile, and you're over it, you are probably smiling and beginning to enjoy your own well deserved freedom.

I remember when I left home for college so long ago. I was a mess. We stopped at a drugstore close to home to pick up a few last minute items and, thankfully, a good friend from high school was there. I begged her to come with us and she did! She was funny and kept me laughing in the back seat, distracting me from the intensity of that drive with my parents. The leaving part was very hard for me...but five minutes after they left, I was happy, happy, happy. A whole new world had just opened up. And I was free.

When we took our kids to a small private college in the N. GA mountains there was no Internet to guide you through this experience. You just had to wing it. I remember it like it was yesterday. I knew they would love their new life. I was happy for them, and yet, I cried on the way home just because we would miss them...

Dr. Michelle Borba has 9 Tips For Saying Goodbye if you want to read them. One I particularly liked was to 'switch your role from micro-manager to mentor'. "Help your child to sense this by your actions", she says. "Don't be too quick to fix things. Gently cut the umbilical cord so they will know that you will no longer intervene when problems arise." Hmmmm. Good advice but easier said than done. First you have to get yourself to know that. Good luck with that one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Much Is Half Of 8?

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Slow Down......Yes, of course, your left brain has already said half of 8 is 4. Correct!

Now, someone else argues, if you take half of 8 vertically you get 3. Hmmm.

And someone else says, "If you take half of 8 horizontally you get 0". Hmmm.

Moral of story: "It just depends on how you look at it!"

I could go lots of places with this discussion such as, maybe this is why we have war, or this is why we get divorced, or, simply, this is why people argue. So "Be Aware, Math is Everywhere" as Steven Diaz says is absolutely right! We may not always see it but it is there.

It has been said God is a Mathematician. I think that is really cool.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Computer Furniture Rocks Out!


I was reading Heather Nicole's blog this morning and came across these pictures of computer furniture/armoires and I just had to share them with you. Mathy,Techy,Artsy Fartsy really is about learning....all kinds, for all people, in all ways. I adore art and I am learning all I can about drawing and painting. It's good for the brain and good for the soul! Thanks to Heather Nicole for finding these "organizer pieces" and letting me share them.

Organization is a key element of learning. Organizing our thoughts and organizing our stuff makes life go better. Who wants to spend all morning looking for keys and your favorite pen! As a CRISS teacher-trainer, I have often presented effective ways to teach and learn and I always use this point from the Project CRISS website.

"Good readers know a variety of ways to organize information for learning. The past thirty years of research in cognitive psychology, as well as more recent research about brain physiology, have demonstrated that learning and memory depend upon transforming information (Jensen, 1998). The more organized, the better remembered. Through Project CRISS, students learn flexible ways for processing information, including strategies such as Power Thinking, selective underlining, two-column notes, and concept mapping. They learn multiple ways to be strategic, metacognitive readers and learners."

So what does this have to do with the awesome armoires Heather Nicole found at Jubella? It's just an acknowledgement and reminder that we all learn differently and organize differently, and we can all use effective, research-based learning strategies to make school go better. Own your own learning. Paint it any color you choose. Be outrageous. Just organize new material in ways that work for you so you will retain it and be able to recall it when you need it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cell Phones In School



You are teaching a class. You look out. Thumbs are moving. You say "Put away your cell phone." No problem. Right? No big deal.

You are teaching a class. You look out. Thumbs are moving. You say "Give me your cell phone now. I will give it to your administrator. Your parent will have to come up to school and pick it up." Bigger deal.

You are teaching a class. You look out. Thumbs are moving. You say "Go to the principal's office. You are being suspended. You know cell phones are against policy." Big deal.

Here is the problem. All the above scenarios are played out every day in high schools or maybe middle schools in the USA as almost every student has a cell phone in his pocket. School administrators are trying to figure this out. Make a big deal or not? You probably say "Not". Consider that it is easy to text answers to a test to a friend across the room or to a friend down the hall or across town or to your child. It is easy to text mom to come rescue you every time there is something to deal with at school. It is easy to bully with texting. It is easy for texting to turn into sexting. It is easy to start rumors with texting. It is easy to break up with texting.

So schools deal with this differently. Do we want phones going off in class? No. Do we want kids "having to go to the bathroom right now" because their phone vibrated? Do we want the high shrill tones ringing that teachers can't hear but that hurt other students' ears?

All of this is why, once more and always, the teacher is THE MOST important element in the classroom. The respect and rapport the students and teachers have with each other is the best way to keep this phone issue under control. That's what I think. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Ya Havin' For Lunch?

This morning I packed my husband's lunch at 5:45 as usual.....lucky duck. I don't mind because I have the whole day to myself, and he is out there 9 to 5ing it as a Computer Science teacher in a large high school. I can picture him there because I taught in the same school! Me, I am enjoying retirement and having another cup of coffee.

Back to the subject. Today he will be having, by request, a green salad with a little shredded cheese and bacon bits, or baco-bits as he says. On the side, a ham sandwich on Double Fiber Whole Wheat bread with a Diet Coke. Not saying this is the greatest lunch in the world but he's a grown man and he likes it.

What is your school serving for lunch today? What is in the vending machines at school? Cokes or water? Candy or nuts? Studies actually show that kids will eat the healthy stuff if it is there for them. They don't say, "Hmm. Let me go find some MSG, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, sugar, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and colorings, and high fat products."

Have lunch with your child at school and see what the choices are. Do what you can to promote healthy lunches and vending machine snacks for our kids. We all like a Snickers or a cupcake every now and then and that's fine. We just don't want to teach our kids that these are everyday treats.

Remember the Food Pyramid turned upside down a few years ago to include 6 food groups instead of 4? It tells us to build our diet around whole grains, dairy, fresh fruit and veggies, with just a little lean meat. How are you and your children doing with that? Getting your 5 or more fruits and veggies every day?

Teach your child early so you don't have to nag and unteach later. He'll thank you someday when healthy eating has become a natural choice. I am signing off to go have a fresh peach right off the tree and a slice of whole wheat toast with my next cup of joe. Enjoy your day and feed you and yours well. And remember to be an advocate for healthy food choices at your child's school.

I'm trying to close this post but keep thinking of those who have nothing to eat and it makes me sad.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

History Buffs Needed


At the end of the movie Julia and Julie the black and white screen silently told us that Julia Child went on along to heaven in 2004 at age 92. (BTW, she didn't learn to really cook until she was 40 so it's never too late!)


I have always wanted to have a timeline on significant and interesting historical events.   By historical I mean anything that happened before today. I'm all about "mathematics" and art, and I know a lot about how to learn, but I am worthless at history.

Help me create this recent, fun timeline.  Just email me from my Contact Me Page. When you send me info I will add it to the timeline. I might find a better place on the blog for the timeline, but for now it will be right here. I really appreciate you helping me sort out what happened when. I know I've left out a lot. It's just a start. Thanks!

Come on! Somebody think of something good!!!  Thanks.

1885 First rabies vaccination (added by Teri)
1886 Statue Of Liberty dedicated (added by Teri)
1945 Victory In Europe (added by Teri)
1964 Beatles on Ed Sullivan Show in USA
1967 Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (added by Teri)
1981 Ronald Reagan was shot (added bu anonymous)
1988 Lockerbie Air Disaster (added by Ness)
1990-91 Desert Storm (added by Tom)
1991 We all read The Firm (added by me)1995 OJ Simpson trial
1995 Oklahoma City bombing
1997 Princess Diana died
2000 Everybody scared of Y2K! Nothing bad happened!
2001 9-11 Terrorist attacks on NYC
2001 First wireless laptop (added by me but Larry doesn't believe me)2004 Julia Child passed away
2004 Tsunami
2004 Bush reelected
2005 Hurricane Katrina
2008 Obama elected
2009 Lost $ in Stock Market
2009 Plane landed safely in Hudson Bay
2009 Michael Jackson died and Billy Mays and Les Paul(added by Colin)
2009 Eunice Kennedy and Edward Kennedy passed away

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Are You A.D.D.?

I just saw "Julia and Julie" at the movies today. Julie (Amy Adams) decided to start a cooking blog and prepare one of Julia Childs' recipes each day for a year. Julie said that she needed to set a deadline for her blog because she was ADD. Otherwise, she said, "I'd never finish". Her husband chuckled as if to say, "having a deadline will make no difference."

A lot of people who have trouble meeting deadlines, concentrating, finishing projects, and being organized are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or A.D.D. Somewhere between 3-5% of school age children are said to have A.D.D. Often very intelligent and highly creative people such as Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise and Walt Disney are labeled A.D.D.

A student with A.D.D. might complete his homework at home but be unable to find it the next day at school. "I know I have it", he might say. He might also forget to bring some of his materials to school or forget to finish his homework. It might appear that the student just doesn't care but that's not the case.

Order does not come naturally to these students, therefore they need to be taught simple ways to organize their work and materials...and practice it over and over again. Teachers expect organized work back from students. So time must be set aside to teach organizational skills.

It's never too early to introduce children to ways of sorting....to notice how things are alike and how they are different. To group items by color or by size can be a game. Having a "place to put things" at school and at home helps the child to control his environment in ways that work for him. The message is not to overly organize or stifle creativity but to create security and foundation through structure.

Since there is a genetic component to ADD, one or both parents may have some of the same characteristics. Communication with home is essential as different strategies are used to help this child have a successful school experience. Be patient. Be your child's champion but do not make excuses for him. Fine line to walk...........

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Painting Gourmet


Eat your vegetables or paint with them? It's your choice. I never heard of painting with them until I saw paintings by Darlene Carman, the Painting Gourmet. Darlene, an award-winning artist, first thought of painting with vegetables when she got hungry on a long hike!
This blog is all about ways to enhance learning based on scientific research. Research has shown that involvement in the arts increases student achievement. Using the left and right brain together is optimum for learning.
We tend to lose interest in art when we first realize that our drawings don't look realistic, usually around age 10. Darlene has found a way around that. Because no one really expects to paint realistically with veggies instead of brushes, children can continue to explore and experiment with painting without the worry of making mistakes.
Darlene's website states: "Darlene uses vegetables to rouse the right brain. She believes that two mental processes occur when a child or an adult paints with vegetables. First, the left brain (logical side) which has no experience producing shapes and form with vegetables, allows the right brain (creative side) to take control. Second, since neither the right nor left brain expects realism from vegetables, the shackles of anxiety are removed and painting is allowed to become spontaneous and fun."
As you get "back to school" again this year, don't overlook the power of the right brain.
Encourage your child to take art or music, to sing, dance, fingerpaint, whatever. Just keep that right brain going when the left wants to take over completely....especially at school.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

7 Step Survival Guide For Back To School!



Your first days back to school at the beginning of the year can be a little overwhelming. These 7 steps are very simple and will help you get through those first few days. Enjoy!

1. You will be sleepy this week so just deal with it. You know you probably won't be able to get to sleep early because you will be excited and you're not used to going to bed early. When you are in class, no matter what, DO NOT put your head down. Get water before every class. You can nap a little when you get home.

2. Leave home a little early this week. Traffic will be heavier than usual the first week and you do not want to be late. Even if you like to make a grand entrance, be on time!

3. Be friendly. No drama. Forget about any little snits left over from last year and just be friendly with everyone, especially new students who don't know anybody. Friendly just means smiling and being nice. Pick your real friends carefully but be friendly to everyone.

4. If you are allowed to choose your seat, sit at the front, near the teacher's desk, seriously, or in the middle of the room. Research shows that students in these seats do better than those who sit in the back or way out on the sides.

5. Listen to your teachers. Bring home handouts and go over them with your parents. If you have any special needs with vision or hearing, make sure your teacher knows. They will appreciate it.

6. Turn off your cell phone. I know you are used to having it on all the time and using it all during the day but get used to having it off while at school. You don't want to get off on the wrong foot with your teacher by having your phone go off during class.

7. Remember you only have one chance to make a first impression so bring your best self to school with you!

Leave a comment and share about YOUR first day!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Got Diploma? NO? Get Your GED! Now!

Hey guys! If you are out of school and don't have a diploma, GO GET ONE! No matter your age, do yourself a favor and get your GED. Even if it has been a long time, it is doable. There are free practice tests online and there are places in most communities that offer help with your GED. A church near me that we sometimes visit has free GED classes. You'll be surprised how well you can do with a little practice.

One out of ever twenty college students has a GED. Many famous people have one too: Peter Jennings NBC news anchor, Chris Rock, Sanjaya Malaker of American Idol, and the TV judge, Judge Mathis all have a GED. On average, a GED grad makes $12,000 a year more than someone who does not graduate from high school and does not get a GED.

There are many people who do not graduate from high school. If you or your child are one of them, take advantage of the online practice. Then take the next step and get this test behind you.

Linescapes in Blue


The uniqueness of Momoko Sudo's linescapes is all her own. Breathtakingly beautiful. Skillfully executed. Imaginative and mathematical. The geometry is right in your face.
It reminds me a little of Escher's work and inspires me. I want to know more.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Get Out Of This Stinkin' Recession


No! No one is going back to school nekkid! That's why we are out shopping for back to school clothes, trying to get the kids what they want and not break the budget. Old Navy is a fave of most kids. Me too! This week they have kids' jeans for only $10 and lots of other BTS clothes for $8-$10! Too good to miss. August 7-13 only. This is just a stock photo so I can't PROMISE they have these exact tops. Let's say this or something even better.
Did you know New Balance is the only tennis shoe made in the USA? I like NB and this gives me a good reason to check them out first! And I do need new tennis shoes!
Happy shopping! Let's get out of this stinkin' recession! Spend money. Spend it wisely, but spend some!




Geeked Up On The Fast Track

Are you 5 or 50? Either way it's back to school time! Retraining programs are popping up to teach old dogs new tricks. What we don't need: more auto workers. What we do need: more nurses. In Detroit, tuition-free programs are packed to retrain auto workers to be nurses, and there is a waiting list! Michigan is moving away from being a manufacturing state to leading the nation with its No Worker Left Behind program.

Green jobs and technology positions are in demand SO, duh, that is the emphasis of the new training programs. "Geeked up and excited" about retraining to be a Chemical Processing Technician says one older learner. Laid off, 53, and excited about learning to write and edit specific computer programs.

The same learning strategies work for older learners as for younger ones. Break your learning and study time into small segments. Practice. Go over and over the material. Use hands-on as much as possible to apply new knowledge to the workplace. Talk to others about what you are learning to reinforce it in your mind.

Michigan, home of the automotive industry, had to do something with unemployment at 14.5%. According to the AARP Bulletin this need birthed the Fast Start Program through community colleges and is providing "just in time workers" for the exploding solar industry and nursing fields.

So learning really is life long. And did you notice the older workers are not saying "poor me"? They say they are "excited". You CAN teach an old dog new tricks and it can be a lot of fun. If YOU are laid off look into ways to retrain for something in demand. You, too, might be excited and find a whole new life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Child Hates His Teacher! My Child Loves His Teacher!

Teachers and students have a unique relationship. For 180 days a year, many students are with their teachers MORE waking hours than they are with us. Ouch! How can I, as a parent, help ensure that this relationship is positive for all parties?

#1. Communicate! Your teacher is most reachable by email. Email her or him the first week of school. Doesn't so much matter what you say as long as it is SHORT and SUPPORTIVE. This email will help your child stand out quicker and will get your email in the "easy to reply" category. All student info is in the system but not necessarily user-friendly, up-to-date, or easy to find.
#2. Be Proactive! Do not say to the teacher, "Just let me know if my child needs help or if there is any problem". Your teacher will try to do this anyway but maybe not as quickly as you would like. Why? High school teachers have up to 150 students daily. Even the BEST teacher cannot always report every need, every disturbance, every everything the moment it happens. On the other hand, you probably only have one or two children to keep up with. Don't rely on the teacher to 'let you know'.
#3. Grades are online 24-7 in almost every school now. Watch them at least weekly. Give the teacher a week to grade and post major tests. See a zero? Don't let it slide. Know the makeup policy. "I didn't know is no excuse". Sounds harsh, I know.
#4. Know your child's counselor. Your child, you, the teacher, and counselor can solve just about any problem that arises. Be a team.
#5. If the teacher/counselor are reachable by phone, put their numbers in your phone. I am not saying to bug them or call everyday with trivial concerns. I am saying that if something is really bothering you or your child, do not sit on it. Communicate with the one who knows them best in the entire building, their teacher.

Stay tuned for more tips to come. Share your thoughts too. People like to get ideas from others in the same boat.....especially while everything is still afloat if you get my drift.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Go To College Free?

Are you the first in your family to go to college? Maybe you can go free.

I just realized today that I am the first in my immediate family to go to college. My mother went to Business School and my father went to the army and then to work. I don't think I ever really thought about it before because everyone has gone since me. My aunt went to college too, and since, all my cousins. It was a real stretch for my parents. They made "just enough" too much to qualify for a teacher scholarship in Georgia, my home state. Some people fudge on their app or manipulate a little to qualify but my parents would never do that. I am thankful for that. I just took it all for granted back then and became a life long public school teacher.

Thanks to Gertha Coffee's UpClose column in the AJC I learned of Allen Nance, founder and president of the Mansell Group. He wants to help other youth, like himself and like me, who are the first to go to college in their family. His site,southernfoundation.org went live just 60 days ago. Check it out and help them reach their goals. You can join as a Facebook cause and become a fan. The possibilities of this organization over time are far reaching and life changing. I will become a fan just as soon as I finish this post! I will also post it on my Facebook page for others to join too. And I will Twitter about it too. Maybe you will too. My Twitter names are RealMath and NoCheating. Follow me there.

We never know what little things we do will make a big difference. We all just do what we can. To have even just a little part in making such a big difference in someone's life is a privilege and it's exciting. It is good Karma to give back.