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

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
Click on icon to go to my website:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Would you like a Chairless Desk? Bell ringer activity

 Do you like to sit in a chair at a desk at school? Some schools are testing a new type of desk...minus a chair! Schools in both a Texas elementary school and New Jersey elementary school have experimented with  chair-less desks. Schools in  Great Britain and Australia are also testing whether such desks might encourage learning and help fight obesity. The test desks had a sensor that recorded the amount of steps the students took and thus, the amount of calories they burned up while at the desks during the lessons. About 100-800 calories were burned a day. Studies suggest there is less fidgeting and more focus on lessons with stand-up desks. Stools are available if a student needs to sit for a bit.  What do you think of such desks?
1. Would a stand-up desk make you more alert?
2. Do you think younger kids or older kids would best adapt to such stand-up desks?
3. Can you think of any positive aspects of a stand-up desk?
4. Can you think of any negative aspects of a stand-up desk?

Personally, at about $500 per stand-up desk, I'd prefer the money used for school supplies and more classroom teachers!



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pay it Forward!

Paying it forward. A few years ago there was a movie with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment, called Pay it Forward. The idea was a young boy, as part of a school project, started a chain reaction by doing an act of kindness for a stranger.

A few months ago, my mom passed away. She asked that we do an act of kindness in her memory if we wished to do something to remember her.  I recently began taking piano lessons again after more than 40 years. It has brought me such joy!  It got me thinking. My mom and dad gave me a wonderful gift of piano lessons when I was a little girl. This might be a great way to “pay it forward” and do something in my mom’s memory.  I contacted my piano teacher with my idea. Did he have any students whose parents might be finding it a struggle to give their children the give of music,especially with the holidays soon upon us? If,so, I wanted to pay for their lessons. He did have such a family and I am now passing on a random act of kindness to strangers. I think my mom would have really liked this. I hope that the two children will in turn, try to think of something they can do to “pay it forward” to someone else.

What can kids do as random acts of kindness?
Maybe, it might be donating a pair of winter gloves or a hat to someone who might be in need with the winter months coming.You can purchase both at most $1 stores.  It doesn't have to involve money. Maybe, a child could offer to sit with a new student at lunchtime so they don’t feel alone in a new school. A child could put a smiley face on a student’s desk that may be having a bad day.It might be helping to review for a quiz with another student or helping them organize their notebooks for a particular subject. It might be offering to do something for an elderly neighbor.

What  ideas might you have to suggest which kids could do to “pay it forward”? With anti-bullying month in October, this might be a helpful list to compile and, an activity to promote with your students!

Interesting piece of historical trivia: Ben Franklin did a "pay it forward" to a person named Benjamin Webb. The year was 1784 and Franklin gave some money to Webb. Franklin told Webb that he didn't want the money repaid but instead, use the money to help someone else out at some point.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Speak Up to Bullying!

During September 29-October 3rd, kids and adults are being encouraged to join the “I Speak Up” campaign sponsored by the Cartoon Network. It is the annual challenge to stand up to bullying. It is hoped that one million people will to make a video stating just three words, “I Speak Up” and upload their recordings to their site. Go to to learn more. National Bullying Prevention Month is in October but should be practiced every day of the year.

Discussion Questions:
What is your definition of a bully?  What are some examples of bullying?

Why do you think some people are bullies?

If you see someone being bullied, what could YOU do?

If YOU are being bullied, what could YOU do?

Have you ever been bullied? How did you feel? What did you do?

Have YOU ever bullied someone else? Have you ever been asked by others to join them in bullying someone else? How did you react to this?

Using Literature to discuss the issue of bullying:

  • Read the story, the Ugly Duckling to start a discussion on bullying. Best Children's Books

  • Another story to read is Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm. Find the story

  • Still another story is Cinderella.Find the story online at this link:Together We Teach

  • There are also many contemporary books that deal with bullying. Here is a small sampling for elementary and middle school student.
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by Stan Berenstain
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  • Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  • Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Vedick.
  • The Bully from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler with Jared Lee.
  • My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
  • Roxie and the Hooligans by Phillis Reynolds Naylor 

  • Find more books on bullying and read summaries at this link: 

    Read and listen to a short story about bullying online at this link:

  • Newspapers in Education. Comic book story about bullying might lead to a good follow up discussion.


    I have compiled lots of resources for classroom teachers to use on this topic. Go to this link:

    Bully Free Graffiti Art is from