Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This tells me.....nothing

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 16(16)
Right Brain Dominance: 16(16)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How the Apple Lost His Color

Just for fun, I thought I would share this with you. I originally wrote it in Jr. high, but I re-wrote it just for you:

How the Apple Lost His Color

A Fable

When the earth was fresh and new, the apple was, arguably, the most beautiful fruit in the whole world. When you see apples today, you see a wide variety of pretty colors, from deep reds to light greens and yellows, to pretty much everything in between. Then, it was not uncommon to see an apple with all these colors brilliantly painted across it, like the loveliest rainbow that no-one had ever seen in one little fruit.

When the good Lord was putting together the world, he gave all the fruit all a choice as to how they would be placed on earth. Some of them opted to be up on trees, so they could constantly look at the wonder of creation. Others thought they would do best in bushes where they could stick together in the cold and be shaded from the sun. Still others thought they would be most useful growing on a vine where they could easily be harvested.

The apple’s idea was a little bit different. He thought that, since he was the most beautiful, he should get the most important place in the garden. So, he asked if he could be placed on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since no-one had any objections (other than a slight “humph” from the peach, who thought she was the most beautiful fruit in the garden) and the Good Lord had told them they could be wherever they wanted, it was decided that the apple would get the tree.

Before we put you there, I must warn you”, said the Good Lord. “I made your fruit as delicious and nutritious as any other, but the people I place here mustn’t take a bite out of you. For if they do: they will surely die.”

Undeterred, the apple took his spot as the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was proud of his position, perched high above all the other fruits, his beauty shining for all too see. But, gradually, the apple began to notice something. As Adam and Eve walked about the garden, sampling the fruits for the very first time, they always had something wonderful to say about each and every one of them.

Adam would try a pear or a pomegranate or a plum and rave to Eve about how delicious they tasted. Eve picked berries and they would extol the virtues of blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries and strawberries. The apple watched as they worked their way through the tropical fruits together, gasping in delight as they sampled the kiwis, mangos, bananas and pineapples. He started to cringe when they found the citrus fruit and the laughed delightedly at the way the sweet and tart fruits made their faces pucker. It was just too much for apple when they finally tried a peach and she grinned gleefully at him as they obviously enjoyed the fruit, lavishing it with praise and thanking the Good Lord for making a fruit like the peach.

One day, ole slew foot himself slipped up behind Eve as she was looking at how beautiful the apple was, perched up in his tree. Now to say that the apple had a hand in all that transpired immediately after this might be saying a little too much. But, when Eve was thinking about taking that fateful bite, the trees most beautiful, most delicious looking apple somehow managed to find its way to a branch that was just inches away from Eve’s tempted hand. And when Adam was thinking about what he was to do, the tastiest part of apple was facing itself right towards Adam’s salivating mouth.

After the Good Lord dealt with the skulking Adam and Eve, banishing them from the garden forever, he had a talk with apple, that was more than a little chagrined after seeing all the evil that befell mankind.

“Apple”, said the Good Lord, “I know you didn’t make them take a bite out of you, but you sure didn’t do anything to slow them down. Because of this, you will share in the curse of mankind. Through all his sorrows and troubles you will be there with him. He will harvest you only by the sweat of his brow and you will nourish him only so he has the strength to harvest you again. And you will see him die. Because you used your beauty to tempt him, with all your fantastic colors, you will only have one color on each apple tree that mankind works so hard to grow.”

And this is how the apple lost his color.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The rest of the rules

And here are the remainder of Brea's school rules. Check them out, they are entertaining, informative and effective.

Stay in your chair or your square. Stay in your chair or your square!
This one is tricky. The idea is that everyone is allotted their own space and in order to avoid chaos, you should try to stay confined to that space. I respect this rule. I like to have my own spot at the dinner table, my own side of the bed, and my own desk in the office. I can be a creature of habit that way. I remember Sophomore year of high school, I entered US History class late after a doctor appointment and someone was sitting in MY seat. I could hardly focus because my chi was all off. But at the same time, I need stimulation and some of my best ideas have come while showering or running. In fact, the whole Rules song was composed in the shower. So the bottom line is, there are times that you need to be still and it’s nice to have your own protected space for that. There are also times you need to move and find inspiration. Try to be aware of which time is which and in the mean time, stay out of my personal space while I’m standing in line.

And although my toys are cool. I can’t bring them to school.
Unless it’s show and tell. Even then, no one likes a bragger.

And no running in the classroom.
Because it’s just not safe. People get hurt, coffee gets spilt, bodies are less likely to be kept to themselves.

Number eight’s no stealing. And cheating is stealing. So don’t break break number eight for goodness sake!
No stealing is also number eight of the ten commandments. I figured if I was going to create a list of rules, I might well steal one from the Creator. There is a fine line between collaboration and ripping off other’s ideas. Being a creative person, there have been many times I have seen one of my brain children running around with someone else’s clothes on. I did all the work of coming up with the idea and so and so changed the font, added glitter, and tada--made it their own. As a teacher I would experiment with various seating arrangements--rows to work on establishing independent work, pairs for partner work, and quads for group work. Each have their own place in the grown up world and should be introduced early, but don’t think I didn’t staple together file folders to make shields for the kids to have up during tests. You can only get so far in life riding on other people’s work and ideas, so figure out how to prove yourself with integrity. Also stop thieving my stuff.

Number nine’s our motto to be kind: If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.
Speaking of stealing, I did take this one from Thumper, but I changed it to make it more grammatically correct. (Come on, “don’t say nothing at all”? Isn’t that a double negative?) I also used this rule to introduce some new vocabulary to my young learners. A motto is a phrase meant to formally describe the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. In informal ways, it can be a rule or slogan someone follows or lives their life by. Establishing one’s self as the kind of person who isn’t a total idiotic jerk, or at the very least, the quiet one during a gossip session, is a pretty good way to live your life. I was once asked to write down the three most hurtful things anyone had ever said to me. Thirty seconds later I had my list. Mean things are hard to forget, even if they were said decades ago. The point of this activity was to encourage me to keep the mouth part of my body in check and make choices that wouldn’t put my name and words on someone else’s list. Words are the most powerful tool we possess; they can destroy or build up depending on how they are used. Another good motto to live by is, Be a Builder.

And number ten from beginning to end--ALWAYS TRY YOUR BEST!
The one rule philosophy followers often suggest this rule to be the end all, be all of classroom rules. Pretty much anything a child does you can direct back to these four words.

“Billy, did you do your homework?”
“Was that trying your best?”
“Sally, did you lie about what happened at recess?”
“Was that trying your best?”

“Eva, did you stab that kid with the toy you brought to school after I told you to keep your body to yourself?” I got her on four counts for that.

Not only is this rule a good universal totem for classroom management, it also is a good agreement to have with yourself. As Don Miguel Ruiz's put it in his book The Four Agreements, our best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

One of the best motivational speakers I have ever heard was an Olympic swimmer named Josh Davis. He told us this story about his goal of breaking a world record in the 2000 Olympics. He trained and trained and on the day of his event, he broke the record. It was the best he had ever swam. But that day, three other swimmers also broke the record and walked away with the gold, silver, and bronze medals. He had done his best, better than anyone have ever done before but he doesn’t have a medal to show for it. We will never have all the accolades we deserve, but we can always have pride in a job well done if we always try our best.

A final lesson from the rules--people remember songs better than lists, so next time you want someone to follow your directions (the first time) put a little tune to it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The first of the rules

And here is the first half of Brea's "rules" song. Give it a look, you are sure to enjoy. extra credit if you know where this picture is from.

Learning From the Rules
A guest post by Brea Ashcraft

directions the first time, teacher shouldn't have to say it twice.
Follow directions the first time, it’s not just the rule it’s nice.

fair amount of what we do in life is following directions. Every once
in a while some great new discovery is made when someone deviates, but
honestly, most rule breakers are just obnoxious nincompoops. If you
want to be a law abiding citizen, who efficiently gets stuff done, and
isn’t a pain in everyone's side, just follow the directions. The first time.

Rule number two, at home or at school, you gotta keep your body to yourself.
rule lists say, “No hitting.” Then you see handwritten next to it, “No
pushing.” Later, “No biting” is added. Avoid the addendums and make it
simple--no part of your body should be messing with anyone else’s body.
This rule should also be posted in high schools and college dorm
buildings. There are expectations though. Hugging is usually okay.
And when a mommy and a daddy who have made a covenant of marriage love
each other very much, they can share their bodies too. But most of
the time you're best off keeping your body to yourself.

Rule number three, it’s important for me, to raise my hand, and not shout out.
down, most broken rule. Input is given so freely these days that
sometimes it’s refreshing to be more selective with who you call on for
answers. Choose your counsel wisely. On the flip side, be a little
guarded. Everyone doesn’t need to know everything that is happening in
your life all the time. If you talk too much, people tune you out and
stop listening. Plus, you get labeled as an interrupter, conversation
hog, know-it-all, excessive Facebook poster or just plain annoying.

Rule number four, at my desk or on the floor, you’ve check your body and listen.
your bodies was inspired by assembling a Mr. Potato Head. I would hold
the bare potato and ask, “What does Mr. Potato Head need to keep his
eyes on the speaker?” Someone would raise their hand (see rule 3) and
say, “Eyes!” I would insert the eyes into the eye socket hole. Then I
would ask, “What does he need to listen to the speaker?” “Hears!”
Someone would shout out. I would call on someone else because they
broke a rule. “Ears.” The called on speaker would answer. And we would
go through this until we established that a Ready to Learn Mr. Potato
Head was in check. Eyes on the speaker, ears ready to listen, mouth
shut unless called on, hands folded, at their sides or working, and nose
just there for decoration. The truth is, no matter how much we think
it saves us time, we are not meant to multi-task. Doing anything other
than what you are trying to do slows you down, disrupts your focus, and
if it’s done while driving, puts you in danger. Save yourself the time,
the mistakes, and possibly your life, and keep your body and brain in

Doot, doot, doot, doot
So this was just a musical segue into the next rule, but a good reminder that music is a great tool to use for transitions.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Follow the rules.

As I mentioned, this page has been neglected the last week due to the horrible tragedy which occurred here and the extra duties I had as a result of that. But I am back now.

My friend Brea, when she was a school teacher, wrote a song about the ten rules in her classroom. She recently sent me a copy of the lyrics and the thoughts behind each of them. I was going to share the lyrics, but I think I will give you what she wrote about each rule with the rule itself, then after I share all that, we can put it all together and sing it.

I am going to publish it in serial format, so you will have to come back. But, here is her introduction. Later on, I will try to get her to sing it for you:

Learning From the Rules
A guest post by Brea Ashcraft

used to be a First Grade teacher. I say “used to be” because I
currently am not getting paid by a school to teach First Grade, but I
believe some people are gifted with teaching and even if they are not in
a classroom, they still teach. James thought he could still learn a
little something from me and asked me to guest post on his blog.

a teacher starts a school year, one of the most important things to
establish are the rules. Teachers have many philosophies on what the
best way to make a set of rules is. Some think there should only be
one. Some say three at the most. Others say, include every possible
rule that could be broken so there is no confusion when one is. I say,
make ten rules and write a song about it. The following is my rules
song that I taught my kids every year and the lessons each rule taught

(Come back tomorrow to get started with the rules)

Monday, January 10, 2011


Yes. This page is being neglected.

There is a good reason for it. I have been busy doing stuff. It's been in the news.

I've got some good stuff upcoming, as well as a guest blogger.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Excuses, excuses

I don't usually re-post other people's stuff, but I thought this was good for the New Year.

Here is the post from

What’s Your Excuse for Not Achieving
Your Goals?

And here are a few highlights:

Leo Tolstoy wrote War and Peace while living in a small house with his wife and 13 children.

e.e. cumming’s first book of poetry was rejected by fifteen publishers. He self-published it, dedicated it to the fifteen rejectors, and became one of America’s greatest poets.

Abraham Lincoln lost multiple jobs, went bankrupt, and failed in numerous bids for public office before being sworn in as the 16th President of the United States.