Friday Two Cents: Valentine’s Day Kindness


This past week many students had a lot of exciting things happening at school. Monday was the 100thday of the school year; Tuesday we had a rare snow day and the schools were closed; Wednesday report cards went home and Thursday was Valentine’s Day.   Yet I saw something during Valentine’s Day that I thought is worthy of mentioning.  In a school I work at, the kindergarten teachers decided to do something different and dare I say daring.  Instead of giving parents a class list for the students and parents to make Valentine’s cards, they helped the students to each make a card and have everyone in the class sign it.  

When I heard of this idea I loved it right away.  I know that it would be a lot of work for the teachers to organize but I thought this would teach the students so many things in the process. First off it is Eco (environmentally) friendly. How many of us would go out and buy or create cards for February 14thto simply throw them into the trash on the 15th. Second it is in line with the idea of inclusion in the classroom.  The idea is that everyone gets a card but we have all seen that not everyone gets one and that one child feels terrible when they do not get a card.  Or worse specific children are targeted to not get any cards because someone else tells everyone to not give them one.  Along that same idea not everyone can afford to purchase cards and if they make homemade ones they are ostracised because of it.  

Valentine’s Day Card

I was so impressed with the idea I suggested it to other teachers and parents at other schools. Yet their response was less than enthusiastic. Many flat out rejected the idea. They said that many of the parents are into doing the cards and they go all out with cards, candy and other stuff. In fact many students are not writing names or messages on the cards but the parents are.   

I found this interesting and a bit disturbing.  Yet from what I have observed in our society I should not be surprised.  There are a lot of people interested in only showing off and making themselves feel good at another’s expense.  These cards would alleviate all these problems and self-centredness for many people. In short it gives a small act of kindness to everyone in the class and I know that even a small act of kindness can make you feel amazing.    

Inspiring Words from my Colleagues

When I was in teacher’s college many of us, myself included, was stressed out and at our breaking point.  Yet during a class a colleague handed out pieces of paper each with our names on it. The sheets would go around the room and everyone would write one thing, a phrase or one word about what they like about that person or what best describes that person. After we each got the paper and I can tell you once I say all the comments the feeling was amazing.  When I heard of these valentine’s cards, it reminded me of that activity and how I felt receiving it in the end.  Yes the cards involve simply writing your name, but your classmates still took the time to sign your card.  To a child that simple act of kindness, signing their card, would go a long way to making them feel amazing.  

In the end isn’t that’s what Valentine’s Day all about.  Sharing love and kindness with others.  I am reminded of the famous quote by Aesop …

‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Aesop

My deepest thanks and highest praise to my colleagues in the kindergarten program for implementing this wonderful Valentine’s Day act of kindness.  

Advertisements

Comic Strips: Hpy Valentine’s Day?


February the month when many search their heart to express how they feel about that someone special.  Yet in this digital world are we getting away with expressing ourselves only through a LED screen?  Do we truly know how to express ourselves without our phones?  With this in mind, it gave me plenty of material to think about for this month’s The Craziest Things.  

In many cases, people cannot live without their phones.  They call, text, surf and play endless games with it.  But has our obsession with our phones come to the point when it replaces our face-to-face interaction with others. How far with this go?  Only time will tell.  

I hope you enjoy February’s The Craziest Things: Hpy Valentine’s Day?

February The Craziest Things

Friday Two Cents: A Problem Solving Model


In it there are four levels to achieve your goal to solve a problem.  The great thing is that you can use this problem-solving model not just for mathematical problems but also other problems in you may face in your life.  Here is my break down of the model…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote several posts about resolutions and making plans to help you beat the winter blues.  I have always thought that planning out things helps to solve the problems that I face on a daily basis, yet I have wanted something tangible that I can see in black and white to help me explain it to others.  I did find such a piece when I took a mathematics additional qualification course a couple of years ago.  It was in the Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised) document of all places. It is on page 13, figure 1: Problem Solving Model.  

Understand the Problem (the exploratory stage)

This stage should be self-evident.  I cannot tell you how many times I would have students come up to me and say, “I don’t get it.”  Then I would ask, “Did you read the question?”  Most of them would say ‘Ahhh no.’  ‘READ THE QUESTION’ I would say and then look in the question for the pieces you need to answer it.  Others I would rephrase the question to emphasize the important information they may need.  Basically what is the question asking of you: what is the problem?  The best advise I say to people is talk to someone about the problem so you can see it for different angles, especially after you read it several times.  

Make A Plan

Is there another situation that you may have seen a similar problem?  I tell students don’t try and reinvent the wheel.  Or in other words don’t start from scratch look at another situations where you solved a similar problem and try and rework it for this situation.  In essence, “Make a Plan”, think of a strategy you used before and use that plan.  Tweak the plan to fit your needs.  

Carry Out the Plan

Put you plan into motion.  Draw, write, use objects to help you visualize the plan and then implement it. Use different tools to make you plan work, monitor it and make adjustments when needed.  If you planned for something and you don’t need it, don’t use it. Why waste time and energy when you do not need it. 

Look Back at the Solution

Check you results, go back to the question to make sure that it actually answers it.  Does it make sense?  You have to go through the process again from the beginning to refine you answer or correct any mistakes you may have seen.  Could you get the same result another way, perhaps and easier way? This way you can use that revised plan in the future.  

I created this visual to help myself and others try and visualize how to solve a problem.  Maybe it will inspire other teachers and students to think more about how any problem can be solved so long as you have the tools and desire to make the effort in trying.  Remember what Napoleon Hill once said …

‘Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.’ Napoleon Hill

A Problem Solving Model

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2005). The Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised). Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/math18curr.pdf

Art Inspiration: Art That Comes Alive As A Tattoo


 I have been asked to create different pieces of art for people on a number of subjects and themes.  Some for professional reasons like a magazine layout or a background for a school play.  For others because they wanted me to show them how something looks like in a drawing like a cartoon character or a student request like drawing a pig.  But nothing is as personal until someone asked me to draw him or her a tattoo.   To be honest I am honoured to be asked to create a tattoo for them.  I created a few other tattoos, mostly for family or family friends yet this person is a colleague and some one whom I respect and consider a friend.   

Kelpies
I have drawn another tattoo for her of her Chinese zodiac animal however this second tattoo was inspired by my resent trip to Scotland with her and others. The land, people and stories so inspired me that I painted and drew many images of this experience.  One such legend or story were about the Kelpies in Scottish lore.  I had the fortune to visit the Kelpies near Falkirk and they were impressive.  They truly are a sight to behold in person. These 30-metre high horse heads rising out of the ground, illuminated in different colours were simply spectacular to behold.  They inspired me to create my version of the legendary creatures.  
This past summer I drew and painted the Kelpies and another Scottish mythical creature, the Unicorn over and over again.  My friend saw the images and asked if I could draw her a tattoo with these legendary creatures.   So I set off drawing and showing her my progress.  We went through several changes and suggestions but they were all worth it.  
The final image has a unicorn rearing on its hind legs with a kelpie in front of it.  The kelpie is modeled after a Thoroughbred horse.  I wanted to show and use a bred of horse that is known for its swiftness. I drew it looking down with a malevolent look, as if looking for it next victim.  The tail is similar to a mermaid but I wanted the look of the tail to have an almost wing like look with ribs along the inside for extra power. 
James IV Coats of Arms
With the unicorn I wanted to show its power and strength.  In Scottish lore it is seen as a powerful creature something a king, nobility or warrior would want.  James IV so wanted to show his strength that he incorporated the unicorn into his coat of arms.  With this in mind I thought of a Scottish warhorse and what better then the famous Clydesdale horses.  They are known for their strength and I love the feathering hair on their legs, which I think is a great touch for a unicorn.   They are also used in British and Scottish Calvary units up into the present. I have him rearing up to show its strength with a tough military look on his face.  I created mains for both creatures to represent flames.  I wanted the creatures to have a swift fiery look about them.  I continued the look into the unicorn’s horn as well.  

Unicorn and Kelpie Tattoo
This was a labour of love for me and when my friend wanted to use is as a tattoo, I cannot tell you how honoured I felt. They remind me of a culture I truly enjoyed and had the good fortune to experience.  Going to Scotland, touching the ground, the plants, the water, breathing in the air inspired me to create. These creatures, this drawing is the culmination of hours of imagining and drawing, trying to bring these noble creatures to life. Having my friend wear them as a tattoo only enhances my love for them even more.  To my friend I say, Thank you.  Thank you, for helping to inspire this and for bringing it to life.   
Inspiration comes to life

Friday Two Cents: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together


Between watching hockey games and playoff football, many commercials have been mentioning mental health awareness.  It surrounds the ‘Lets Talk’ campaign on January 30.  It tries to raise awareness and support for people with mental health issues.  Seeing these ads made me think about how many people I know are suffering and this time of year is not all that great to help people get out of there situation.  

You see the January blues, as many call them is a real issue for many people.   For years I have thought that the January Blues was simply a myth, but as I got older I found that January is probably one of my least favourite time of the year.  I could not explain it but I discovered that someone actually found a reason why.   
In 2005 person from the Cardiff University calculated that the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year. I am not sure of all the calculations but from what I read it involves, weather factors (the lack of sunlight and cold temperatures), the debt load people feel one month after Christmas, and the abandonment of new years resolutions.  All these factors are blamed for the most depressing day of the year and if you talk to many people they would agree with this.  
Yet Isabella Goldie, director of development and delivery at the London-based Mental Health Foundation says that “Blue Monday” isn’t real.  She says that this calculation is all a PR stunt to make people feel that they need a vacation or break and it motivates them to buy vacations. She continues to say that feeling sad or gloomy for a day and real mental illness are vastly different.  Yet she also notes that the idea of Blue Monday is not entirely off because the environment affects mental health.  Seasonal affective disorder, a depression that occurs around the same season each year is one example.  
Real or not real this time of year does affect many people.  So how can we fight back?  I found 3 helpful tips courtesy of Health Magazine that can help.  Mind you these are for any Mondays but there is nothing wrong with starting these helpful tips on Blue Monday is there?

  1. Make Monday’s plan on Friday – and write it down. That way you can relax without any “don’t forget to do this” thoughts echoing through your brain over the weekend.
  2. Indulge on Sunday. Dr. Suzanne Zoglio is the author of Recharge in Minutes: The Quick-Lift Way To Less Stress. And she says don’t waste Sunday worrying about Monday. Instead, do something you love that you didn’t have time to do during the week – reading a few chapters of a new book, or spending a couple of hours at the park. That way, you’ll be fully recharged and satisfied when the weekend ends.
  3. Give Monday meaning. Before crawling out of bed, Zoglio says take 3 minutes to focus on what’s important to you. What kind of person do you want to be today? Fun, kind, disciplined? What important thing do you want to accomplish? Once you have a plan, it’ll help make Monday meaningful, rather than dreadful.
After reading through these suggestions, I realise that I already do these.  Dr. Zoglio is basically saying that you need to plan out what you want to do. I usually like to know what I am about to do on a specific day and planning out, even in my head what the day will look like helps a lot.  I guess I have to remember that saying I from that old show “The A-Team”.   After every successful mission, the character John “Hannibal” Smith(played by George Peppard) would always say …

‘I love it when a plan comes together.’ John “Hannibal” Smith (played by George Peppard)

Comic Strips: No Brain Work


January is the beginning of many things.  A New Year, resolutions and of course the return to the routine for many people including students.  With this in mind, it gave me plenty of material to think about for this month’s The Craziest Things.  

On many occasions I have returned to the classroom on the first day after winter break feeling like it was not long enough.  The time went by too quickly and you feel like you never had a chance to truly rest.  Well if I felt that way and I know a few other colleagues felt the same, it would stand to reason that the students would too.  In truth I have seen many students act just like the student in the comics strip. 

I won’t ruin the comic for you, I will simply let you enjoy January’s The Craziest Things: No Brain Work.

Friday Two Cents: Positive Thoughts For The New Year


‘I do expect a lot from myself, but it’s also a balance of being… positive and also pushing yourself.’ Venus Williams

With the beginning of the New Year many people make resolutions to improve themselves in some way.  Many plan to get physically fit, eat better or others to do something they have always wanted to do.  I for one have never made any resolutions because I know I will not follow through on these empty wishes.  I know that true change takes discipline, determination and most important time. Several years ago I came to a realization that I needed to lose weight and have a healthier lifestyle.  I took discipline, determination and time to make them a reality and to be honest I am still working on them. 

Many people forget their resolutions by the time Super Bowl arrives.  That is usually the first weekend of February for those of you who are not into football. If you are one of those people I have found something that just might help you make some long-term changes in your life that is more effective than a spur of the moment resolution.  These tips come from Dr. Joan Borysenko – author of Inner Peace for Busy People: 52 Simple Strategies for Transforming Your Life. 
Take a few hours to envision your life.  A good way to do this is to imagine yourself at 90 looking back at your life and taking stock.  Then ask yourself these questions:
  • What matters most to me?
  • What did I learn in my life?
  • How do I want to be remembered?
  • Are there things I wish I’d done but never got around to?
From these write down your answers in 6 major groups relating to; family, friends, faith, finances, fitness and work. One example in the area of fitness, when you are 90 you won’t care that you have strong leg muscles but you will care that you can walk to couple of blocks down the street to the store. 
They say use a real notebook instead of typing these down in a computer.  This way you can look back at the answers and keep tabs for the year.  Also for most people when you write things down they become more real.  Think about it.  When someone tells you a phone number you retain it more if you write it down. 
Then one final tip is to find ways to use your talents to help others.  If you are a good storyteller, read to children at the hospital.  Make a positive influence in someone’s life. One of the best ways to increase your health and happiness is to make a positive difference in the world.   Sometimes it starts with your way of thinking.  

Which type of person are you?

As Willie Nelson once said …

‘Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.’ Willie Nelson

doug --- off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

The Trombonist's Mouthpiece

Music, education, and philosophy

Paul Gauchi

My innermost thoughts I wish to share. These things Inspire me, maybe they will inspire you.

Lucia Lorenzi

the body politic: musings and meanderings

Eternal Atlantis

Official Website of Luciana Cavallaro

The Art Studio by Mark Moore

Where Imagination Becomes Realality

Daniel is funny

Monsters, Jokes, Analogies

A Step onto the Road

The journeying of a literary hopeful

teachingontheverge

Thinking deeply about education

The Baggage Handler

I made the impossible easy in both worlds!

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Belief Blog

Spreading the Power of Belief

The First Gates

Stories, Dreams, Imagination, Soul

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods

The writer gives life to a story, the reader keeps it alive.

Mama Cormier

.... my journey to a healthy life, making new memories and so much more