Friday, December 4, 2020

I Don't Need Material Things, 0r Santa Ain't Got N...

I Don't Need Material Things, 0r Santa Ain't Got N...: Kirk Franklin - Jesus Is The Reason For The Season Jesus Is The Reason For The S...

Know Thy Students

Know Thy Students: A stud...

Praying Hands

Praying Hands: Praying Hands by Albrecht Duer, 1508 Dürer worked for 13 months on the final painting, determined to make it so sound and beautiful &qu...

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Educational Links 12/4/2020

Despite Safety Assurances, School Reopenings Are Taking a Serious Toll on Teachers

Pandemic’s spread in California upends plans for return to school in January — or beyond

Report Offers Clearest Picture Yet Of Pandemic's Impact On Student Learning

A New Way to Think About Work-Life Balance

A school leader shares how he came to understand that work-life balance looks different for different people—and there’s no need to feel guilty about that.

The Beatles - Good King Wenceslas (1963)--Betty Grable. Too

The Beatles - Good King Wenceslas (1963)--Betty Gr...: The Beatles - Good King Wenceslas (1963)

Liberal Arts--Bah, Humbug?

Liberal Arts--Bah, Humbug?: May I also suggest A Christmas Carol--with Patrick Stewart, Jim Carrey, the Muppets and Michael Caine, Mickey Mouse--or my favorite, Geo...

So Differentiate Already!

So Differentiate Already!: Differentiated Instruction Build lessons, develop teaching materials, and vary your approach so that all students, regardless of where...

Shepherds, Why This Jubilee?

Shepherds, Why This Jubilee?: This is a very ancient hymn originally from France--a hint of Latin in the chorus-- the language of the Christian church long before and ...

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Educational Links 12/3/2020

Study: Children with ADHD More Likely to Bully — and to Be Bullied

Three G Suite/ Google Workspaces Updates to Note

An Updated Guide To Questioning In The Classroom

Student Wellbeing

 How to Be an Antiracist Educator: An Interview With Ibram X. Kendi

ISTE 2020: How ed tech coaches are supporting students, teachers in remote learning

Using Microsoft Teams in a Hybrid Classroom

Strategies that foster student collaboration and a sense of community if your district is using Teams as the go-to tech platform for online learning.

Upbeat Educational Outlooks

Upbeat Educational Outlooks: What Believing in the Possibilities Can Do For Learning and Teaching

The Jackson 5 'Up On The Housetop'

The Jackson 5 'Up On The Housetop': The Jackson 5 - Up On The House Top (1970)

Christmas Short Stories


The Gift of the Magi

WCCO's Christmas classic, The Gift Of The Magi, with Dave Moore 12/?/1983 

 Christmas Day in the Morning 


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Educational Links 12/2/2020

Music Is Magic: 9 Hacks to “Beat” ADHD Symptoms

How schools are navigating meal logistics during pandemic

Pandemic’s spread in California casts dark cloud over return to school in January — or beyond

The TeachThought Podcast Ep. 225 Trauma-Proofing Our Schools

Three Ways to Create Online Forms to Collect Samples of Your Students' Work

Thanks to Teachers, Learning Loss This Year Was Not As Bad As Projected, NWEA Finds

4 Criteria for Effective Directions

Directions that are observable, timed, clear, and concise can help ensure student compliance.

Empowering Kids to Kindness

Empowering Kids to Kindness: Teaching Kindness: More Than a Random Act   Why Teaching ...

What Child Is This? (in the snow)

What Child is This - Lindsey Stirling

Monday, November 30, 2020

Educational Links 12/1/2020

Ways to Increase Family Engagement

Editor’s Choice: 50+ Of The Best Educational Toys & Gifts For 2020 [Updated]

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): A teacher’s guide

The Pandemic Will Leave More Students Unprepared For College. Developmental Education Must Help.

Less siloed, more inclusive: Changes to special education teacher preparation expected to have big impact on schools

 Fall assessments to gauge 'COVID slide' may be skewed. Can school districts use them?

5 Ways to Help Students Transfer Their Learning to New Situations

As students gain content knowledge, their next step should be applying it to new problems and across academic disciplines.

Teachable Moment: Hanukkah

MzTeachuh: Teachable Moment: Hanukkah: Hanukkah begins on Sunday, December 22, at sundown.  What Is Hanukkah? All About the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah (Chanukkah)   ht...

Cheesy Jokes and Serious Thoughts for Christmas

What has four legs, a red nose and flies?   Rudolf the Red-Nosed Roadkill.

What is Frosty's favorite dinner?

Spaghetti and snowballs.

                                          Where doe Santa keep his red suit?   
 In his Santa Clauset.

 Knock, knock.

Who's there?


Earl who?

Earl I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.

                                                     Why does Santa use reindeer to pull his sleigh?

                                Because the elephants kept crashing through the roof.

What is the best Christmas carol in the Twilight movies?

I'm Dreaming of a Bite Christmas.

What has a red suit, a white beard and rows of razor sharp teeth? Santa Jaws.

What would you call your wedding anniversary if it was December 25th?

A Marry Christmas.

Who had a beard, webbed feet and wrote "A Christmas Carol?"

Charles Duckens.

What do you call being caught in a chimney with a fat man?

Santa Claustrophobia.

 What happened when the family cat swallowed some tinsel?

He needed a tinselectomy.

Knock, knock.

Who's there?


Anna who?

Anna partridge in a pear tree.

Question: Why was Santa's little helper depressed?
Because he had low elf esteem.

What is Santa's favorite American state?

Question: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Answer: Frostbite.

Where does Christmas come before Thanksgiving?
In the dictionary. 

This is for English teachers. 
Q: What do you call Santa's Helpers?
A: Subordinate Clauses

What is the snowman’s breakfast?
Answer: Frosted flakes!

How do snowmen greet each other?
 : Ice to meet you!

You just had to know eventually I would get to the funny cat pics.

Now for the serious talk. Christmas is a full on holiday--it smells good (catch that scent from the cinnamon pine cones?), looks sparkly and cute (lights up again), feels cozy  (snuggly blankets in front of the fire with hot cocoa or wassail), tastes yummy (yeah, bite the head off that gingerbread man!), sounds great (all types of music singing cheer and closeness and holiday, etc.) It is entertaining with endless gifts,  movies and music and fun.

Except for that annoying bell the Salvation Army persists in ringing at the front of stores. That is so annoying to be bugged to give to the less fortunate. The homeless, or impaired, or orphaned--is that my business? 

Shouldn't we have a right not to have them bug us? Isn't that the separation of church and state? I don't need all that Jesus stuff at this holiday, like giving to the poor, or kindness to strangers if I don't wish to. Peace and forgiveness. That's my business. Condemnation for behavior that's nobody's business but mine. And I shouldn't have to be reminded on a public street. At school Jesus and all that radical Christian stuff has been eradicated. When can I finally have a secular holiday?

Well, first of all the very word holiday is rooted from holyday.  A day to meditate on the spiritual side of life. Christmas means Christ worship in the old days. He is still memorialized as the greatest teacher who ever lived, the proclaimer of brotherhood, kindness and conscience. All the major religions admire him. Why is he considered so irritating to some Americans?

He was an all or nothing sort of person. You were with him or not. He was who he said he was or not. No in between. Forgiveness, purity, mercy. Very, very hard precepts. It is hard to hang with Jesus. Its all or nothing with Christ.

Students in public schools who profess Christianity are in danger of having their civil rights violated by some administrators and staff who find the message of Christ to be very irritating--not only those horrendous ten commandments, but that part about not lusting or lying  and giving to the poor and such. These leaders will nail kids for even saying, 'Merry Christmas.' 

Not much holiday spirit there. Or tolerance. I've observed it first hand towards kids and staff. I was told even playing Handel's Messiah was against the separation of church and state. So, I chose to play it anyway, thinking you have to take a stand sometimes. Might as well be Handel. No problems arose. No lawsuits.

It is our obligation as a democracy to extend tolerance to all. Even the annoying, I-Am-The-Only-Way Jesus, and his followers.

Teachable Moment: Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

Charles Dickens is remembered as the greatest creator of literary characters after Shakespeare. He is also a hero of the Victorian Era, being the conscience of the British Empire and exposing the neglect and abuse of the poor in the burgeoning Industrial Age.

He himself suffered as a child when his father was put into a debtor's prison. But from a young man he wrote numerous popular stories marketed in the United States and the UK, and these have continued to evolve into film, theatre, mini-series and are still enthusiastically enjoyed by generation after generation.

Dickens' novel make characters dynamically real. It is hard to deny knowing Pip or David Copperfield or Oliver Twist personally after reading the novels.

"A Christmas Carol" film, 1984
Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit
He also wrote short stories, and "A Christmas Carol" is one now celebrated in every possible creative venue. My personal favorite is the film (1984) of the same title with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. David Warner, as Bob Cratchit, brings tears to my eyes every year. The script is very compelling. You can show it at a public school because it is not openly a Christian film (Jesus is never mentioned by name), plus there are enough spirits, time travel, etc., that makes it a fantasy.

I've shown it to students of all demographics and they really appreciated it. They felt for Tiny Tim, and were shocked by Ignorance and Want. The kids are relieved Scrooge changes his way and avoids the lonely tragedy of a selfish life. The older students have compared and contrasted two different film versions.

Please consider reading the short story aloud. Dickens can pull the reader into a setting almost miraculously. As Ebenezer Scrooge walks through the streets of London to his home, just to see Marley's face on his door knocker--that is one of the best descriptive passages for mood and tone I have ever read.

How long it would take to list all the various renditions of "A Christmas Carol"? Wow, a couple of days. I do also like "The Muppets' Christmas Carol" with Michael Caine, "Scrooged" with Bill Murray, and Patrick Stewart as Scrooge in the TNT presentation of "A Christmas Carol."

So many Christmas Carols, so little holiday season.

Excellent Christmas Short Story by Pearl S. Buck

This is a very short, very special short story by Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck. It is an internal narrative of a man and his revelation many years earlier on a cold, cold, early Christmas morning.

 We are empowered by love that validates our existence, creates the knowledge we are unique and valuable. We are of import and assigned an exclusive mission in life because of love. We are not expendable; we are loved. 

Please enjoy this story with a secondary-aged kids, maybe your own middle-schooler or teen. It's good for them to realize they are loved, too, even if they can't milk the cows to reciprocate.

Here is a bio of Pearl S. Buck and the complete text of the story. It transcends  demographics.  

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck and the Importance of a Father’s Love

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Educational Links 11/30/2020


We’re All New This Year: How Advice for Rookie Teachers Can Help Everyone During Virtual Learning

20 Of The Best Zoom Tools For Teachers

Pandemic Takes Toll On Children's Mental Health

‘No-Excuses’ and ‘Progressive’ Schools Are Training New Teachers Very Differently About Race

Using Themes to Give Young Students a Sense of PurposeSEL,

No More Snow Days, Thanks to Remote Learning? Not Everyone Agrees

Los Angeles charter schools offered reprieve amid pandemic

For the first time under new law, L.A. Unified considers batch of charter school renewals.

A Soalin'

The poor in Victorian England.

Peter, Paul and Mary - A Soalin' (live in France, 1965)

A Soalin'

 Hey ho, nobody home, meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry, Hey ho, nobody home.
Hey ho, nobody home, Meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry, Hey ho, nobody home.
Hey Ho, nobody home.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

God bless the master of this house, and the mistress also
And all the little children that round your table grow.
The cattle in your stable and the dog by your front door
And all that dwell within your gates
we wish you ten times more.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

Go down into the cellar and see what you can find
If the barrels are not empty we hope you will be kind
We hope you will be kind with your apple and PEAR'
For we'll come no more a 'soalin' till this time next year.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

The streets are very dirty, my shoes are very thin.
I have a little pocket to put a penny in.
If you haven't got a penny, aN ha' penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha' penny then God bless you.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace..
This holy tide of Christmas of beauty and of grace,
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

Institutionalized poverty has been in place for millenium. This song is a combinaton of the ancient practice of begging in England at Christmastime from the homes of barons and other nobles during the middle ages, and, at the very end of the music, a hint of Victorian England--God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen--where institutionalized poverty was challenged, if not eradicated, by groups with a conscience inspired by Charles Dickens and his literature. 'A Christmas Carol' anyone?

As we go about our holiday business and hear the little bell of the Salvation Army--a group born out of the Victorian conscience transplanted to America--maybe we can hear the voices of the poor going a soalin.'

Ten Books for the Holiday Season by Reading Rockets


Warm your hearts with these holiday stories, from old favorites to new delights. These recommended books for kids ages 0-9 are about generosity, love, and friendship, and are perfect for the season, no matter what traditions you celebrate!

Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and YiddishHanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish
By: Emily Sper
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader
The Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, celebrates the rededication of the Jewish temple after a group of ancient heroes defended their right to worship as they wished. This handsome little counting book honors the most joyful of Jewish holidays, and teaches readers how to count from one to eight in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
By: Dr. Seuss
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
The classic tale of the Grinch is now more than 50 years old. But that's just why it's a classic: Seuss' grumpy stealer of Christmas is as fresh today as it was when first published in the mid 20th century.
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
By: Robert Barry
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Mr. Willowby, the unwitting hero of this Christmas classic, looks quite a bit like the little mustachioed mascot from Monopoly. But as befits a Yuletide tale, this diminutive millionaire turns out to be a good bit more generous.
Seven Candles for Kwanzaa
Seven Candles for Kwanzaa
By: Andrea Pinkney & Brian Pinkney
Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Although Kwanzaa commemorates an ancient African harvest ritual, it is a relatively new holiday in North America. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa comfortably explains the origins, language, and daily themes of this warm and festive seven-day holiday.
The Gifts of Kwanzaa
The Gifts of Kwanzaa
By: Synthia James
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
"Habari gani? What news?" Synthia Saint James presents the language and origins of Kwanzaa with enticing writing and bold pictures that honor the people and colors of Africa.
The Night Before Christmas
The Night Before Christmas
By: Clement Moore
Illustrated by: Tasha Tudor
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote The Night before Christmas for his own children. Now, of course, his poem is read aloud to children around the world who are anticipating Santa's arrival.
The Polar Express
The Polar Express
By: Chris Van Allsburg
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus. This holiday classic earned a Caldecott Medal.
The Tomten
The Tomten
By: Astrid Lindgren
Illustrated by: Harald Wiberg
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
From Swedish folklore comes the story of the tomten, a little gnome who watches over us while we sleep. Read this heartwarming version, from the author of Pippi Longstocking, and celebrate a time-honored tradition for the Winter Solstice.
The Trees of the Dancing Goats
The Trees of the Dancing Goats
By: Patricia Polacco
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Polacco has a warm, colorful illustrative style she applies to what at first seems the simple story of a Jewish girl, Trisha, and her Christian neighbors, whose bout with scarlet fever at Christmas threatens to ruin Trisha's Hanukkah. Trisha and her family respond with a loving gesture that is rewarded in kind.
Zigazak: A Magical Hanukkah Night
Zigazak: A Magical Hanukkah Night
By: Eric Kimmel
Illustrated by: Jon Goodell
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Is Hanukkah really all about dancing dreidels and high-flying latkes? Maybe not, but Eric Kimmel and Jon Goodell have put these devilish phenomena to good use in a lighthearted story that teaches Hanukkah traditions--from kazatzkas to gelt--along with a wise, timeless moral.