Category Archives: education

Support for Raising Teens

This post is sponsored by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication.  All opinions (and memories!) are my own.

She has come so far. When you slow down to think about it, this is nothing short of amazing.

Then….

I’ll never forget the day my daughter made her first attempt to communicate using sign language. We had been teaching a few basic signs for the words more, light, eat, drink, and sleep. Those concepts that help parents communicate with babies and toddlers before they can use words and can prevent tantrums and frustration. We really needed that. I was holding her on my hip in her bedroom after a bath. I had flipped on the light to change her diaper and she looked up, her slate blue eyes seeing the shiny overhead light as if for the very first time. She took her tiny fingers, put them in a ball, and then opened them, looking up, and pointing with the other hand. She was making the sign for light. “Yes!” I said, “Light!” Her face lit up (oh yes, I meant that pun!) in understanding. She was glowing, exuberant, satisfied.

We understood each other.

Now…

As I watch her sprint toward the finish line at a cross country race, I see all at once this same determination, spirit, and courage. She juggles homework, her love of reading for hours on end, practices, and time with her sister on a daily basis, while remaining curious, open and kind. How incredible is it that these people we helped learned the basics of communication and how the world works can do all of these things at once now?

As she opens up her stride and is pumping toward the finish I see all that she has been, all that she is, and who she is becoming. It is no less magnificent and magical than the moment with the light many years ago.

And while back when she was a baby and toddler I had baby sign language books, what to eat when books, baby sleep books, and many others… there are very few resources for parents of teens. It helps me to remember how far she has come, who she is at her very core, and let these thoughts and memories guide me as I learn to parent a teenager.

Thankfully, we have a new resource just for parenting teens. The Center for Parent and Teen Communication is a new, valuable resource for every parent navigating the teen years.

And this sentence (and article) from Dr. Ken Ginsberg speaks volumes to me as a parent and as an educator:

“Love is seeing someone as they deserve to be seen, rather than seeing them based upon behaviors they might be displaying.”

I need to write that quote somewhere and see it everyday. We need to look for the good in our kids and our students, no matter what behaviors they might be demonstrating.  I’m looking forward to more gems like this one from him and the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. In fact, I just shared the above article and video with a friend who is the parent of a teenager, and hope you will do the same.  



We all need support and guidance with parenting teens every so often.

 

New Tools for Teachers (for Salamander Sky and beyond)


I had the lovely opportunity to present to an inspiring, passionate group of educators and children’s book authors yesterday morning at the amazing Bear Pond Books. They came out to my workshop called Picture Books and Project Based Learning. It focused on how teachers can use picture books as a launching pad for engaging, exciting project based learning experiences with their students.

For the workshop and beyond, I created two new resources. One, is an Educator’s Guide to Project Based Learning. This resource details the science themes and the Next Generation Science Standards that can be met from the concepts presented in Salamander Sky, and a discussion guide with activities for pre-reading, during reading, and post reading, as well as additional media that can support learning.

For those teachers focused on project based learning, I created this website that features each stage of project based learning with ideas for how Salamander Sky can guide and inspire these projects. There are so many ways students can share their learning, tell a science story, and create original works that benefit the community and world.

Please feel free to be in touch with questions, ideas, or to share what you are up to with students!

 

Project Based Learning with The Order of the Trees

I’m excited to share something I’ve wanted to make for a long time. As a former teacher, and current professional development coordinator, I spend a lot of time researching and planning project based learning experiences with teachers. I wanted to create something that could be used as a guide for a project based learning unit based on my middle grade novel, The Order of the Trees, published by Green Writers Press in 2015. 

This website is a working draft of those plans. It can be used while reading the book with students either aloud or in small groups, or it can be used after the book has been read as a culminating, immersive, integrated project.

It is my hope that I can add a student work page to the sites and feature student projects. Please share any work, feedback on the plans, questions or ideas with me! We are in this together. Also, I would be happy to Skype into your classroom to discuss projects with students, or answer their emails.

I hope you find this useful! Weebly is an easy website builder that teachers and students can use to create media rich, beautiful sites pretty quickly. I think that each project having an online home like this could provide a bridge to at home learning and a great way for families to stay connected to project work.  Google sites are also a good tool for this. Often, it helps teachers and students to have an online home for projects. Teachers can easily share curated links and resources this way.

Please let me know if you have any questions, ideas for this unit, or any thoughts about this tool.

“Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being.”
— Victor Hugo