Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

My A-Z Teacher LIST for the New School Year

A-Z Teacher LIST 
With the new year about to begin, I’d like to share my A-Z Teaching List.   If you have suggestions, please share.
Gail Hennessey

A-Always exhibit an interest in what you are teaching.  If you think it’s important , your students will, too. Have an assessment for how to grade your students.

B- Be prepared with your lesson. Have “bell ringers" to keep students on task when you  are collecting papers, etc. It’s better to have MORE than not enough for each day’s lesson.

C-Try to make connections with other areas of study with cross curricular activities whenever possible.  Critique your lessons each day for what you liked and what needs improvement. 

D- Dress for success, your “teacher uniform"  should not be too casual, Decorate your room.(It’s your “home away from home for 7 hours each day). Don’t READ your with the students.

E-Establish expectations and a class climate which students will come to expect each class. Keep an “emergency folder"with activities for a couple of days which a sub can do should you be called away and not have time to leave detailed lesson plans. Make EYE contact with your students.

F-Try and Focus on the positive each day.  Negatives will only get you down. Fire drill procedures and emergency Z Schedule procedures should be learned immediately and reviewed with the students.

G- Set up a Grading system. How many grades will you give a week, what will the different assignments be weighed for importance, etc. 

H- Have consequences for students not meeting your requirement and follow through with parent telephone calls, after school or lunch detention, etc. HANG students’ work around the room.  State and post your Homework policy.

I- Offer incentive especially for younger learners such as “praise"  for good work, less homework passes  or bonus point, etc. REWARD positive behavior. Make sporadic  “positive" telephone calls home.(Personal note: The initial voice of the parent was always suspect when I’d say I was their teacher calling. When I said I was calling to say how proud I was of their son/daughter for a particular reason  and wanted to call, their tone changed. I had a number of parents contact the principal AFTER my call to say how the call had such a positive impact. The student was always walking on air the next day,too! I remember some students sharing they got a positive treat because of my phone call!) 

J-Just try your best and realize you won’t always have a successful lesson.

K-Keep  note paper in your desk(or Thank you notes)  and distribute to students who show improvement, responsibility, citizenship, helpfulness ,etc.

L-Try and laugh each day! 

M- “Menu"  of what will be covered in the class-write it on the board so students know what is to be covered. Mark your papers.  If you give an assignment, look at what is done. (My feeling is students shouldn’t mark students’ work....that’s(in my opinion)  your job. Peer review doesn’t count as I believe this can be a useful learning tool).Motivate your students by “acting"  and performing.

N- Never be alone with a student!(especially middle school and high school students).

O- Be Organized. Keep folders of lessons developed, websites used so you have them for future reference. 

P-Use Primary sources to help to enhance the lesson and foster DBQ essay writinHomeschool Curriculum Marketplaceg, Gather Personal information on each student (birthday, telephone, address, study buddy to send work if ill, etc.) Proof read any work that is distributed to students for spelling and grammar. Speak professionally.

Q- Ask lots of questions to keep your students on task.

R- Review often all  terms and concepts throughout your unit. (Have the students HEAR, SEE , READ and WRITE , more than one method to help retain materials covered in class)Have a daily routine.  How will you arrange your room?  What works best for the particular students, rows, groups, assigned seats,etc.) *** Personally, I allow the students to sit with whom they’d like thus already finding “Friends"  and allow them to  stay where they selected unless they show that they can’t work well during class where they are sitting. Create a RUBIC for student assessment.

S-Share some personal self interests with your students(favorite color, favorite author or sports team, etc.). I shared my ballerina picture from when I was 10 and my 6th grade report card. There was a photograph of my husband and my dogs on my desk. Set an example, for some, you may be their only positive role model!  Smile!(it’s a great stress reducer)  Shake hands with the students on the first day and during the school year.

T- Ask experienced teachers for ideas on classroom management and other issues. Be open to suggestions. 

U- Use text to self connections whenever possible. Try and find a way for kids to see a connection with what is being taught and their lives.

V- Have variety of teaching styles and activities in your lesson.

W-Wrap up each lesson by reviewing the key concepts, vocabulary and any assignment to be given.  WALK around the room during the presentation of your lesson . Have students WRITE in journals, their notes(interactive notebooks), etc.

X- Do “xtras"  such as chaperoning a dance, going to a sporting event, having students come for lunch.

Y- “You"  set the tone of your classroom. Someone needs to be in charge of your classroom, make sure it is you!

Z- Get enough ZZZZZZZZZZ each night so you are well rested for the next day.

Gail  Hennessey

My website for teachers/kids:

Illustration from:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What Would YOU Do? Possible Bell Ringer Activity

What would you do? 

Possible Bell Ringer photograph to share with you to use with your students.
I was walking on a NJ beach searching for sand dollars(and found several in good shape) and took this photograph.  Hope you find this of value to use with your students!

Share the photograph with your students:

Your Turn:
1. Where would your footprints take you?

2. Write a paragraph describing the person that may have left these footprints. What were they thinking? 

Wishing you all a wonderful school year!


Monday, July 31, 2017

The Solar Eclipse is Coming on August 21st!

A total solar eclipse to cover the USA from coast to coast hasn’t occurred in the USA since 1918 and one to exclusively occur only over the United Sates hasn’t happened since Revolutionary War days (1776). However, that will change on August 21st. On that day, the moon will block out the sun leaving what scientists call a “diamond ring remaining. The entire solar event will last just 3 minutes.Since I wasn’t around in 1918, it will be an amazing scientific event to witness(on television news) as I will not be in the path of the eclipse where I live in Upstate New York! 

Did you Know?
1. The moon is actually 400 times smaller than the sun? Since the sun is about 400 times father away, the moon will be able to “cover” the sun during the eclipse.
2. Scientists say that animals may react strangely to an eclipse. Night creatures may be more active and day creatures may think it’s time to go to sleep.
3. Columbus used a lunar eclipse in 1504 to get the native people on the island of Jamaica to give he and his crew food.
4. The average speed of the moon crossing the USA is about 1651 mph.(two times faster than a supersonic jet)
5. The next total solar eclipse  will be in 2024.
6. The first to see the total solar eclipse, if the weather cooperates, will be West Coast of Oregon at 10:16 AM . Charleston ,SC will have the eclipse at 2:48 pm.
7 The 12 states in the path of the solar eclipse are: South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Georgia, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming.
8. DO NOT look at the eclipse before or after as it can do eye damage!
9. A total solar eclipse is rare because you need the Earth, moon and sun to all be lined up with their orbital paths.

Illustration from:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Past Lives...Hmmmm

This is not the usual posting but I wanted to share an experience in my life in hopes that it might be of help to someone else.
I just finished reading Kristina McMorris’ The Pieces We Keep which included the topic of past lives. It got me remembering about my own encounter with this topic.(It's a great read!)
For the past twenty-five years or so, a woman has been making my life very unpleasant. A year ago, I  decided that it was finally time to have a confrontation, to finally come to terms with her.  It was on an beautiful sunny August day, that I met this woman, Judy, she was... my past life.
Before you shake your head, let me say that I, too, was very skeptical of the entire concept. However, after years of trying traditional medical options, I felt I had nothing to lose by contacting someone who specializes in past life regressions to try and  rid me of night terror for which I suffered for so many years. 
For years, like clockwork, I would wake up within 40 minutes of going to sleep, around 11:40.  Aroused from a deep sleep, I would start screaming, “no, no, no”.  My heart would be palpitating at a tremendous pace, I would wake up visibly shaken. I was terrified that I was dying. My husband would calm me down and within minutes, I would return to sleep for the evening. This routine occurred a couple of days a week.   Awakening with one of my night terrors,  first with loud whimpers and then screams echoing from the bedroom, was extremely embarrassing when we’d travel to a bed and breakfast or stayed with friends  for the weekend.
My primary physician sent me to a neurologist who prescribed a strong tranquilizer to help with the episodes, to little effect. After a couple of days of being so groggy during the daytime, I had to stop the drug medication.  My doctor then suggested another doctor that specialized in sleep disorders. I spent two nights in a sleep lab, hooked up to lots of wires stuck onto my scalp with a clay like substance. I commented to the technician that it would be a wonder that I’d be able to “sleep” with so many wires and equipment hooked up to my during the evening. Just as I thought, I had no sleep problem the first night and was asked to stay another evening....nothing the next day, either.  Of, course, the  following night when I was back home in my own bed, I had a terrible episode. Another visit to the doctor, another prescribed to help me sleep. This medication caused my white blood cells to be so depleted, I was eventually taken off the pills!
After numerous doctors were unsuccessful in trying to help me with my night terrors, I finally gave up ever getting any help from these extremely unpleasant night episodes.  The screams, the horrific panic, the heart palpitations and embarrassment continued. Then, one day, I picked up Carol Bowman’s book,Children’s Past Lives. Her book shared a phenomenon where very young children often recount past-lives. She also discussed how fears and issues we deal with in our lives might have a connection with a previous life.  I was intrigued. Nothing else had worked for me so what did I have to lose in trying a non traditional avenue to seek help? I thought that I’d contact her.
It took me another couple of years before I actually  contacted Carol. My hesitation...worries what people might think of me if they learned that I was seeking out such a non-traditional therapeutic approach to my night terrors. But the nightmares continued. I finally picked up the telephone and dialed Carl Bowman and made the appointment.  
My husband accompanied me on the four hour drive to meet Carol and maybe my past. With a book to read, he waited outside on the porch as I went in for my session, which would last for three hours. Carol and I spoke for about an  hour, getting acquainted, building a confidence bond and discussing  reasons why I came for a session. Carol asked me if there was a period in history of particular interest, of which I said the holocaust.  She asked me why did this time in history seem to be a focus for me and I said a great aunt died in the concentration camps. Silently, I was a bit disappointed and skeptical at this point.  Would  this pre discussion cause me to create a past life from this period , drawing a “life” from the many movies and books I’d read on the time period? I, then, moved to a comfortable floor cushion, lights turned down.  I was asked to close my eyes as relaxation techniques were used. I was asked to focus on a distant time and just start speaking of what was coming to the forefront. I began to talk about being a nurse in a children’s ward of a hospital. I gave my name.....Judy.  The year was 1941. In extremely vivid details(which I will not go into), I talked about the last day of my life, being abducted around 11:15 from the streets near Temple University, in Philadelphia, PA, and dying around 11:40.  Screams, hysteria crying, intense fear, regrets that my family would never know what happened to me, all came through in my session with Carol. When done, I was shocked at the story which I had brought to the surface for the very first time. Carol had taped the entire regressive therapy session. She gave it to me when I left.
Was it my imagination at work creating the memory of a young woman who died a traumatic  death, or, did I actually, remember a distant past I had once lived?  What ever the truth may be, one thing is certain, my horrible night terrors have virtually gone and to that, I am most grateful to Carol, and ,to myself for trying this alternative idea to alleviate  my night terrors. I have made peace with this memory of Judy and she has now found the peace to also move on, as well, from my unconscious mind. 
As for the tape made during the session, it’s in a drawer, one which I will probably never have the desire or need to replay.

I’ve been asked whether I plan to “investigate” a disappearance of a nurse in Philadelphia, PA, in 1941. Sometimes, I  am tempted to do this, to see whether there may be any validity to my memories brought to the surface on that particular August day. However, at this point, I have no needs to search out ... Judy.

* I'd love to hear from anyone who reads this blog as to whether they have had similar past life encounters, too.

Gail Hennessey

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Tour de France 2017 has begun! Possible Interactive Notebook Activity

The 2017, Tour de France began on July1st and ends on July 23rd. It's considered the world's biggest and most exciting bicycling race. It is in its 114 year!  Athletes competing in the race will travel  approximately 3516 k (2183miles) during the 22 day race. This year's Tour de France began in Dusseldorf,German, and will end in Paris, France. Each day(called stages), a leader  will be awarded a yellow jersey(or Maillot Jaune in French). In addition to the yellow jersey, there is a polka dot jersey awarded to the best climber(king of the mountains), a white jersey( the best youngest rider) and a green jersey(best sprinter).The Tour de France began in 1903. 
See a map with the 2017 route:

Fun Facts:

Only men compete in the Tour de France.

Approximately, 123,900 calories are burned by each rider in the Tour de France.

42000 water bottles will be used by the racers!

Someone figured out that enough sweat is created from racers competing in the 22 day race, to flush a toilet 39 times!

Riders from France have won the most races!(36 as of 2015)

Vocabulary word: Peloton, the term for the "pack" of riders.

Extension Activities:
1. Write a diary pretending to be one of the cyclists in the Tour de France. What do you see? Feel? Hear?

2. Try this FREE crossword puzzle on France:

3. Draw/color a picture of a bicycle. Write a fact learned about the Tour de France on your drawing.

4. Read about the Eiffel Tower, one of France's most famous landmarks:

5. Do you think women should be allowed to compete with the men's Tour de France? Why or why not?

6. Learn some fun facts about France:

Illustration from:Wpclipart

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

For Those Taking A Summer Break and For Those Who Are Not...

Wishing those of you who are now on Summer Break a very relaxing time. As someone that taught for 33 1/2 years, the very first FULL day of vacation was always the beginning of possibilities of things to do that I didn't get to do during the school year. In fact, I remember dreading the alarm clock going off at 6AM during the school year yet during the summer, I gleefully got up at 6AM because the day was all mine! I wanted to seize every bit of the day.  Enjoy each and every day of your vacation. It will go too quickly!  Read a book, garden, listen to music, take a pottery class, visit with friends and family, take a trip, sit by the pool(or visit someone who has one), binge watch a series(so many great ones on Netflix! See below) and most importantly, take a break from thinking about school! Really! Even if it is only for a couple of weeks, place thinking about your classroom on hold for just a wee bit!

Of, course, if you are on the computer,  please check in from time to time as I will continue to make blog postings, update my website for teachers/kids and add new teaching resources to my store.  :-)

For those of you who have school or summer school during  July and August, I will continue to update my blog posting as well as my website for teachers/kids( Please continue to check in as you may find something of value to use with your students!


Recommendations of shows to Binge watch on Netflix:

Midsomer Murders( Amazing how many murders take place in the villages of England!)
Murdoch Mysteries(Historical mysteries that will make you look up some information!)
Father Brown
Death in Paradise (Think Columbo in Paradise)
Doc Martin(Love Cornwall, England, where this quirky doctor series is filmed)
The Crown
Call the Midwife(awesome)Really...I didn't think I would like it and I am hooked.
Broadchurch(powerful police story told in several season)
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries(1920 flapper solves mysteries in Australia)

Recent Books I have enjoyed which I'd recommend:
Pamela Flavey's books about Ireland: The Linen Queen, The Yellow House and just out, The Girls of Ennismore

Kristina McMorris: Just read The Edge of Lost  I will plan to read her other three books!

All Sarah Jio books are great!(Most take place in two eras and are intertwined by the end.)

Pam Jenoff: Wow, I really like her historical books(mostly set in WW2-at least the one's I've read: The Orphan's Tale and the Diplomate's Wife. She has at least 7 more I will be reading.

Note: Illustration from

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

No Photographs, Please!(INA)

No Photographs, Please!
One of the most beautiful countries to visit(in my humble opinion) is Switzerland. I remember visiting a small village(Murren) near Interlaken. There aren't any cars in Murren and to get there you need to take both a cable car and a cog train. Absolutely, a "Heidi" moment looking out at the mountains for the hotel window and hearing cow bells when off hiking. I recommend a visit if you are ever traveling in this area of Switzerland!

This news story caught my attention. I thought it might be a possible Interactive Notebook Activity, bell ringer, etc. With school winding down for many(and over for some), this writing prompt might be something to hold for when you return to classes.

Have a wonderful summer vacation!

A new law in the village of Berg√ľn/Bravuogn, in the Swiss Alps will surprise visitors. Photographs have been banned. Seems the village is so beautiful, town leaders are concerned that people seeing photographs posted by tourists might get depressed! Signs are posted in the tiny village near St. Moritz stating fines may be charged to those taking photographs.

For Students:

What are your thoughts on this news story?

Why might the village have really tried to do this?

Write three facts you know about the country of Switzerland.

Learn about Switzerland with this resource: 
Did you know that a Swiss man named Bertrand Piccard was the first person to circumnavigate the earth in a hot-air balloon? Did you know that the first chocolate bar was made in Switzerland back in 1819? Learn more about this mountainous country with this informative webquest on Switzerland!
Mapwork, 9 web questions, extension activities and key...

Photograph from