Welcome to Quest4Hope

Here you will find my personal quests that give my life meaning. As I have searched for purpose, it is my hope that my life becomes everything it was destined for- first for my family and then for my friends that God has been so gracious to send to me.

***Names and places have been changed for internet security.

The 5 Chaps

The 5 Chaps

Monday, June 9, 2008

Walnut Grove Plantation--Back In the Day!

By G-man and Olivia

Walnut Grove Plantation was built by Thomas Moore in 1783. Today it still stands with the kitchen, schoolhouse, slave quarters, and more. We visited this plantation to experience what life was like in the 19th century.

This is living room the main house. Our guide is showing us how they snuffed out a candle with a special tool that looks like tweezers. They never blew out their candle for fear of sparks flying. This room was used for reading, playing games, quilting and talking.


This is the parents'bedroom. We learned that they would take a hot bed pan heated from the fire and place it under the bed to help them keep warm. On the floor beside the bed, they had a trundle to pull out for the small children to sleep. They also kept a pot close to the bed to go to the bathroom until morning. It was too dark to go to the outhouse . They may not find their way to the house or a wild animal could come attack.

This is the dining room. It was attached to the back of the house close to the kitchen which was several yards away from the house. The kitchen could catch on fire easy, so they placed it away from the house. Across from the dining room, they had a warming room to prepare and warm the food brought from the kitchen.
G-Man's Thoughts- Touring the main house of the plantation was awesome. Seeing the house upstairs and downstairs was interesting. My favorite part was thinking about how everyone had to go to the bathroom during the night.
Lily's Thoughts- My favorite part of the main house was seeing the kids' bedroom upstairs. All of the kids had to sleep together in the beds all in one room. I would like sharing a bedroom.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Science In The Kitchen


The The 5 Chaps' have been studying atoms and molecules in Chemistry this week. We have discovered that atoms and molecules make up everything in the world. Scientists call these things materials which can be in the form of solids, liquids, or gases.

Today, we made a chemical reaction of a liquid and solid and created a gas called carbon dioxide by mixing vinegar and baking soda in a bottle. First, we poured about 1 cm of vinegar into a bottle. Then we poured 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a balloon.

Finally we put the balloon on the top of the bottle and shook the baking soda inside. The balloon began to blow up. Afterwards, we experimented with different quantities of our materials, like 1 inch of vinegar and 3 teaspoons of baking soda. When we increased the ingredients, we created more carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is a gas. When we created carbon dioxide in the bottle, the balloon captured the gas. Normally, a gas's molecules spread out and bounce about so fast and escape without anyone seeing. Today, we were able to see the gas try to escape.

Lily said, "It was sooooo cool!"

G-man said, " It was fun and exiting to watch the chemicals explode into the balloon like a rocket!"

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire"

I want to review a wonderful book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading by Rafe Esquith called "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire." Esquith is a veteran and highly acclaimed teacher in Los Angeles who has been recognized nationally for his passionate methods of mentoring his students beyond the "typical school day."

This is a challenging must read for educators that outlines how Esquith goes above and beyond the call of teaching to reach his students. He gives new insight for a fresh, young teacher searching for the best teaching methods and challenges the most experieced to press beyond their comfort zones in reaching their students.

I particularly enjoyed reaquainting myself with methods in reading and writing I have used in the classroom in past years and determining how I might "tweak" my plans as I re-enter the classroom. I love the way that he looks beyond his standards that he is teaching and integrates life long lessons for his children in his class. He takes his daily and weekly expectations and weaves them through his students' lives to prepare them for college- even in an elementary classroom.

Chemistry Has Begun!

This week at the "Chapman Academy", we are exploring atoms and molecules and the materials that they make. We explored some online activities working with the different properties of various materials. G-man and Lily have taken their Science Vocabulary and have made diagrams and charts to display their work as we learn more about Chemistry in their mini-presentation folders.

Please take the time to enjoy one of the activities we worked on today as we explored different responses of materials.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Strengths Finder #3- Harmony

The third strength I have discovered by reading "Teaching With Your Strengths" is harmony. My mind reverts back to the old Coke commercial as people from all over the world sings out "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony....I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep them company."
This strength focuses on finding common ground and looking for consensus. A strong value of colloboration and working on a team is a motivator for the harmonic personality. I have often looked for ways to bring people together and find a middle ground of agreement if there was much opposition.
I believe I will be able to use this strength in a variety of ways as I work with students, parents, and staff.

Strength Finder #2- FOCUS

According to "Teaching With Your Strengths" by Liesveld and Miller, I have found that another strength I can use in the classroom is focus. I tend to be guided by goals and objectives which forces me to be efficient. I tend to measure my activities by the value of asking, "will it project me to my goal?" This strength can be useful in the classroom as I help students set their own benchmarks and teach them to measure them. I want to impart the value to showing students that today's behavior will bring tomorrow's results as we celebrate our small successes and put them together to bring us to an awesome finish.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Strength #1 Achiever

In the book "Teach With Your Strengths", I found that one of my natural strengths and abilities is that of an "achiever."

Liesveld and Miller define an "achiever" as someone who is driven by accomplishment. It is someone who must achieve something tangible every single day in order feel good about themselves, even days of rest and vacation. It is like an internal fire that constantly drives a person to the next goal or objective. I live by checklists and visual organizers. My mind is constantly turning focusing on my next objective. Finishing my checklists and completion of projects are sweet victories for me.

As an achiever, I must look for ways to capitalize my investment of determination and diligence so that my efforts align with my ultimate goals. This would be particularly true for extra projects and events. Sometimes, because of my drive, I have taken on an extreme amount of busywork that wastes my time. I must center my mind on the most important goals and zero in on them.

I am a self-starter who needs little external motivation to see a project to completion. However, I must learn that not everyone is wired like me. There are times that I get frustrated with those who seem to need more external motivation. It is of upmost importance that I continue to explore ways to motivate my students and understand that it is necessary to use several sources of motivation to challenge an underperforming student.

One of my core values as a teacher is that of progress and improvement. I want to have benchmarks for my students to achieve and challenge them to make continuous improvement. I get much satisfaction seeing student improvements charted on visual organizers. I want to take this internal drive and give students the extra push to reach the "right expectation" and not just a high expection so as to refrain from frustration and keep my students thriving at all levels.

A caution was given to "Acheivers" to take the time to celebrate their accomplishments and give time to let others do the same. Acheivers always look ahead to the next goal rarely spending time enjoying their success. The pace of life and work is always full speed ahead, but as the leader in the classroom I must recognize that students may need a "break" and need a more leisurely pace in order to thrive. There are times that I recognize that I have gotten frustrated because the children, or even adults that I work with, can't seem to work as quickly as I do. If I can learn to vary the pace in my classroom, I should be able to have my students and co-workers keep up with my full speed when it is enforced.

Finally, I need to learn how to celebrate sweet success. If I could learn to slow down enough to pause and drink in the satisfaction of completeing a project; I would be more contented internally.

"Teaching With Your Strengths"

I just finished reading the book "Teach With Your Strengths" by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller. This is a professional development book for teachers to find their strengths and learn to use them to their fullest measure in their classroom.

Everyone is born with natural talents and it is our responsiblity to maximize them in every area of life. This book also details how many people will identify their weaknesses and spend countless hours and resources to make their weakness at best mediocre. Liesveld and Miller advises idenitification of natural "strengths" and learn how to put them to work in your classroom. An online strengths finder assessment is included with the purchase of the book so that you may easily identify your top 5 strengths and use the rest of the book as a coaching tool to improve teaching methods.

I plan to use the next few posts to journal on my strengths and how I might put them to work in my teaching

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Creating a Trust in Children

It is important, in order to create a classroom of investigative risk-takers in learning, that teacher work early to establish a trust factor in their children. As I blogged earlier, establishing respect is important and needed to create a safe structure; but connecting with our students relationally helps as well in creating a successful classroom.

First, to do this, I would love to send out a letter before school starts to the children in my class so they can feel that they already know me. Perhaps creating another blog for my classroom so students have the opportunity to connect to me early if they would like. On the first day of school, I plan to present a slideshow of me and things that I do and places I have traveled so that the kids can make an immediate connection. They will see that I am a real person; more than just their teacher.

Second, Be DRAMATIC. My family will tell you that I am the drama queen of the clan. I have learned the art of being a bit overzealous in different situations. Over the years, I have toned down and actually have turned into quite a serious person; but have I learned that my BIG facial expressions and sometimes silly ways to reach the kids when they least expect it, helps me to win some children over. One year, I believe I surprised the entire 3rd grade and staff when I broke out into a little rap about coin identification at a family math night. No one ever expected it and it ended up being requested again at the teacher staff meeting later. I guess I made quite a fun impression; but more importantly, I was able to connect to my students in a new way. Mrs. C. keeps them on their toes!

Finally, as children come in the first day I want to set very clear expectations by giving the "teacher" speech. I want children to know that my main objective is for them to learn and to give them the best education possible. I plan to give 100% and I expect them to give 100% as well. I want them to know how much I care and I will do whatever it takes for us to have a successful year.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Creating Structure

I believe that kids need and like having structure. They feel safe as they measure their boundaries. It is the teacher's and parent's responsibility to create a safe and secure classroom culture. One way to do this is to establish clear expectations. It is important for our children to like us and for them to feel that we love them. We do this through affirming them and encouraging them.

But it is also necessary that our children learn to respect us. Children will naturally test their boundaries so they are aware of what is accepted. As mentors to children, it is our responsibility to follow-through on consequences that have been set up as a result of an infraction to the rules.

This is hard when we love our kids so much and want to affirm them. And many times, we as mentors want affirmation back from them. It is difficult to risk their disappointment and receive a not so glowing report from them. However, as mentors to children, we are doing them a severe injustice of not setting safe boundaries and guidelines --and following through!!!

Our children crave structure and need to know what to expect!

Life Lesson #6 Play "Mirror" in discussions

What is "Mirror" you ask? We should teach our children to mirror a conversation for courtesy. If you are asked a question in conversation, return the question.

Ex. If someone asks you "Did you have a good day?" Answer and ask a question in return.
"Yes, my day was great! How was your day?"

It is only polite to show others that you are just as interested in them as they are in you.

We should teach our children that a good discussion has an ebb and flow. The only way they will learn this valuable life lesson which will help them in the future is to model it yourself. Ask your children or student, "How was your day?" But expect them to return the favor by playing "Mirror" by saying "mirror, mirror on the wall..." After this favorite rhyme echoing through their ears a few times will lead them to develop very good manners.

Life Lesson #5- Bragging

Bragging will get you nowhere. It really is a sign of weakness. It is wonderful to excel, but many times if you "toot" your on horn; no one else will. I want to teach my children that when they are good at something; remain confident but yet humble. A boastful attitude can actually work against us. We need to give time for others to discover our abilities. When we do, our skills actually seem much larger when they are realized by others.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


FOCUS has been a blast! It is impossible to document off of the fun we have had, but here are a few highlights!
Click to play FOCUS Fun
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a scrapbook - it's easy!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rule #4

During Discussions, respect others' comments, opinions, and ideas.

We must create a nonthreatening atmosphere where it is okay to make comments and ask questions. Without this, we discourage the spirit of inquiry and the excitement of learning as we focus on fear instead of learning. Children need to be trained to never laugh or make fun of someone's comments. It is okay to disagree, but children need to develop the art of being diplomatic in their discussions. Teach children to respond positively to a friend's ideas, but politely express how they may feel. I always say, "if you do not have anything positive to say, please say nothing at all."

Life Lesson #3

When someone wins or does something well; congratulate them!!

We all love praise, but why is it so hard to give? When we don't do this, we leave room for jealousy to develop. I want my children to become very free with their praise and encouragement of others. When we praise each other, everyone improves. I want to create a culture of celebrating. I want to teach my children that you stay where you are celebrated and not tolerated. But in order to accomplish this, mustn't we follow the Golden Rule? Praise others and you will be praised. Encourage others, and you will be encouraged!

On the Write Road

Francis Bacon once wrote, "Reading maketh a full man, Conference a ready man, and Writing an exact man." Students should be taught to express themselves with precision. Our objective as educators is to understand that writing well will ultimately will help student for the rest of their lives, whether by applying for college or applying for a job or even opening the door for other to enter a whole new world through publication. The following are my steps to put my children on the "write" road.

1. Start Up Grammar- Daily grammar sentences are a perfect way to start the morning taking advantage of the first minutes of the day. I follow up with by teaching a skill and going through corrections and practicing the skill using jingles and music. I like to also teach students to use their time wisely as they finish their work in a timely and adequate manner by avoiding the dreaded rewrite which could lead to homework.

2. Essay of the Week- The idea for the essay is to teach proper structure for essays and then follow it up by assigning the essay topic for the weekend. However, they have a week to go through the writing process during the week and turn in their final copy on the following Friday. Assigning essays like this helps students learn to balance work and play.

3. Monthly Book Report- As apart of my reading and writing strategies, book reports are used to develop students. While there are many templates and creative models to create a book report, I recommend using one repititively so that students can become familiar with story elements and summarizing a book. It is important to remember to help children choose a book on his or her level. The key is to build confidence in their reading and writing abilities.

4. Young Authors' Project- One of my favorite activities that I have had students to do is to choose a topic of writing in order to author their own book from start to finish. I tell them that they can write about anything!! This is a memorable experience as students brainstorm, write, revise, edit, and publish.

Students have time to work on any of their writing activities during the block of time for writing at least 3 times a week called Writer's Workshop. They may work on their essays, their book reports, or their Author's project. During this time I usually begin with a quick lesson writing traits, but mostly, you may witness silent writing, editing circles, teacher revising conferencing, or computer publishing.

One of the most exciting parts of our "Writing Workshops" are the celebration events. One of our favorites is our Author's Tea. Each quarter, students may pick out the writing they are most proud of to read aloud to the class and any guest that came to hear our sharing. The ultimate favorite is our Author's Project Book Signing. Students may present their books to their class, share a synopsis, and offer to sign autographs. These books are collected in the class library for reading time and each student has a place to make positive comments and reviews in the back of their books. For most students, these books are treasured forever!

Loving to Read!

Giving our children the gift of reading is one of the most important gifts we can give to children. Reading is more than a subject taught, it is a foundation for life. It is important to become a mentor of reading for our children. We must never push them off to their rooms to read their assignments, invite them to read with you. On many nights our family will sit in the den together with our own books of interest reading. And while reading, we may speak up and share interesting things we are reading about. If we want our children to become avid readers, we must model that.

Another way to do this is frequently go to the library. There is nothing more exciting than taking a trip to the library and have the opportunity to see rows and rows of books knowing that we have the opportunity to pick any of them to take home! I am always curious what my children will pick out each week as we make our library week. Many times it lets me know what our next adventure will be about, whether it is about aircraft carriers or an author like Peggy Parish who is know for the famous "Amelia Bedelia", my favorite book character!

Another wonderful idea to build love for reading is developing book clubs. Opportunities to read a book with a group and discuss it is fun and gives extra incentive to read. Families can also develop their own book club reading a book together or individually and discussing it. Currently, my kids and I spend time at the breakfast table reading "Little House" books by Laura Ingles Wilder. Sometimes, I have also used books on cd allowing my children to listen in on a great piece of literature while eating, but especially in the car. BUT, if you do this--please take the time to stop it and discuss the adventures in the book to gain the most in that type of learning experience. I hope my children will grow appreciating the time we gathered around the table with a glass of milk and a good book discussing the lessons and values found in a great piece of literature.

While teaching our children to read, we must always look for ways to build their confidence. Book reports are a good way to do this. Reading a book on their ability level and sharing it is a great way to read and display new found knowledge from it.

Finally, making reading relevant is a key to loving to read. There are so many wondeful plays and movies adapted after great pieces of literature. Take the opportunity of our culture to read the books before the movie or play and on the way home compare and contrast the book and the movie. What a wonderful learning tool we all can take advantage of!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

HIGH Expectations

I have lived a life of with high expectations placed on me. As a child growing up, I had HIGH expectations from my parents. I resented these expectations, but I grew to appreciate them later in life because it taught me to aim high.

However, as I have reflected on this, I am not sure that these HIGH expectations were the most helpful in my life. I am learning that having the right expectations are much more important that having high expectations. Because of my upbringing, I learned to develop HIGH expecations in my life. I have achieved alot; but I also have had alot of disappointment.

High expectations may or may not be achieved; but the right expectation is carefully thought out and achievable. I have learned that high expectation is a hope, but the right expectation is a plan. Confidence is built as we achieve and plan. In mentoring children I hope to set the right expecations for them, not just a high one. I certainly have no intention of aiming low; but I want to have plenty of opportunities for celebrating successes and give recognition for such.

Giving recognition for success to a child is a big motivator. It builds confidence and self assurance. It helps to continually raise the bar of success. We must find ways to celebrate improvements and not just criterion met so that we have success across the board in classrooms and meet what should be the ultimate expectation of educators- creating life long learners.

Relationship is the Key to Teaching!

I can remember my fourth grade teacher vividly- Mrs. Eason. She was my favorite in my school career. It was in 4th grade that I can remember wanting to become a teacher. I have been thinking about what makes a good teacher. A good teacher is one who has lasting impact. Mrs. Eason did that for me. I may not remember the specific lessons and objectives for that 4th grade classroom; but I remember the feeling of wanting to succeed in her room. I remember the culture of Mrs. E's classroom. It was the culture that made a lasting impression on me.

My 4th grade year was a significant year because my third grade year was terrible. I can remember being belittled and stressed in my third grade year. I can remember losing confidence that year and hating school. But it was in Mrs. E's class that my excitement for learning and school returned.

Mrs. E was approachable, she was compassionate. In my elementary years, I had a love for talking. I loved it so much, that many times I ended up by the teacher's desk each year to control my enthusiasm. Each year this happened was heart-wrenching for me. My 1st and 3rd grade teacher had a way of making me feel terrible about my lack of self-control. My 2nd grade teacher was more encouraging and gave me benchmarks of accomplishment as I earned my group privileges back. But it was Mrs. Eason that took the time to help me redirect my energies. Yes, I did end up at her desk a time or two; but I knew she cared. She did not just put me there to get me out of her hair- she engaged me, she helped me.

Mrs. E created a classroom where it was okay to fail and it was okay to ask questions. Everyone makes mistakes. But when we stop trying is when true failure begins. I came to understand that year that I had value to add to the group. For 3 years, I had been shoved away;but it 4th grade, something changed. I learned to channel my gift of gab in to cooperative groups and in creative expression through art. Not only did I become successful at school, I began to develop a desire to teach as well.

Looking back, I realize that the key to Mrs. Eason's success in her classroom was investment. She apparently understood that her relationship with her students is what would make learning successful.

I have read the quote, "Learning is fundamentally an act of self confidence." If teachers come to this understanding, the entire culture of school would change. We must look for ways to develop the self confidence of our students every day. Our classrooms need become a laboratory where it is okay to explore possibilities. Students feel safe if they get the wrong answer as long as we learn together how to get the correct one. It is okay to express an opinion as long as we are respectful of others. And it is exciting to explore new questions and inquiries.

Students will connect to this classroom culture as teachers look past the black and white of their planbooks and really invest in the lives of their students.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Life Lesson 2-- Make Eye Contact

When someone is speaking to you, keep your eyes on the speaker at all times. When someone makes a comment, turn and face that person.

This helps you as an individual to develop confidence and it brings respect to what you are saying when you establish and keep eye contact. As we grow older in life, this is a key lesson to take into all of our relationships, especially that of business.

As a mentor, we must exhibit this life lesson. Looking our children in the eye when we are talking will bring connection and confidence between you and your children. It will also teach our children the habit of this life lesson.

How to Develop a Love for Reading

We must look at reading as not just a subject, but a foundation for life. Reading is more than decoding and comprehension . It is a door that opens up new information and new imaginations. Establishing a life long love for reading is not only educational, it can be therapeautic as readers can lose themselves in a whole other world.

But, how as educators can we develop this love for reading?

1. Be a mentor to your children. If we as parents and educators exhibit a love for reading, it will catch to our children.

2. Listen to books on CD, but PLEASE take the time to stop and discuss!! There are so many opportunities lost without a good book discussion. Need some help for some starters? Go to www.learninglinks.com. They have thousand book related units.

3. Visit the library often! Nothing can replace the experience of being in a building full of books and having the regular experience of checking out books of interest.

4. Remember that our goal is to build confidence in reading, not be the reading police and continually point out weaknesses. We want to develop the joy and fun of reading. If a child really enjoying the story and gets stuck-- it is not the time to insert your phonics lesson. Make a note to do that later. Simply help with the word and continue on into the world they are getting lost in.

5. For multiple abilities, require once a month book reports on ability level. This is another way to instill confidence.

6. Find a book club or start one yourself, even in the family. Families can have their own book club by reading together and discussing the book. Or even assigning chapters to be read by dinner so that the book discussion may be done over dinner.

7. Look for ways to make reading relevant with movies, plays, activities.

Fear Vs. Trust

In a family, civic group, classroom, etc.; it is important that leaders create the proper culture in their group. Many times we try to manage our groups by fear. We threaten with loss of privileges and treats. We sometimes hope that fear of a punishment will motivate our children to make the correct choices. While punishments and rewards have their place in classroom and family management, using fear to train chilren has no place in our society. Yet it happens all the time; and most of the time, very innocently.

I personally was raised this way. I feared spankings, I feared being yelled at, I feared losing privileges, I feared rejection. This fear did not motivate me to make positive decisions for myself or others. It motivated me to stay out of trouble--to lay low. I believe that is a major contributing factor of the many break downs in the youth of our society.

Trust must be reestablished. A pledge of trust must be developed between a mentor and student. A culture of safety and trust must be developed in our classrooms and meetings so that children are not afraid to take risks. Children must be encouraged to explore and inquire. If fear is the ruling overseer, how will children feel about taking those educational risks.

It is time to look at our learning cultures and embrace new ways to establish trust in our mentoring relationships.

Life Lesson- Respond to Adults

I want my children to create for themselves a positive vibe with grown ups. The famous Golden Rule follows this lesson. If we want respect, we must give respect. Even adults will develop a respect for children and vice versa if we will learn to be respectful to one another.

KIDS-- When an adult speaks to you, respond with a "yes maam" or "No sir." Just nodding or saying anything else is simply not acceptable. Doing this will bring respect to you from adults. They will treat you differently.

ADULTS-- Take the time to respond to your children. A simple nod or "uh-huh" from you can show disinterest. It is our responsibility as mentors to our children to build their confidence and show the same respect that many times we should require in responding to one another. It is also important that your children see you model this in your own life to others.

This life lesson will promote respectful culture and successful relationships.

Mentoring Children

Mentoring children has always been a priority in my life. In college, I took 4 years to prepare myself for the education field. Being an educator in the public school system was quite a joy for me, but it did not occur to me that being a mentor in a child's life was a key part of my job until my own children have reached the age of learning from me.

As I have reflected on re-entering the classroom, I want to come in with set objectives of what I can accomplish for a group of children in a given year. I want to make sure that I teach the standards given to my grade level; but more than that, I want to instill a love for life and learning in the children in my classroom. I want my children to exit my class feeling that they were apart of something significant. I want "Gifted Greg" and "Struggling Susie" to both leave my classroom proud of their individual contributions given within the assigned year. I want the children I mentor for the year to carry basic life lessons with them on into their education and their world.

Saying that, I plan to collect life lessons to establish the learning culture for my future classes. These blogs will be labeled Life Lessons for future reference. However, I must give credit to Ron Clark and his book "The Essential 55" which has inspired me to adopt my own essentials for the children that I mentor.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


The last couple of weeks have been very introspective for me as I have considered the changing pace of life- for myself and for others.

Stress and difficulty plays no prejudice to anyone. We all experience it. What we we do during those times is the key. Most of the time it is the springboard into our next assignment in life.

Teaching has given me the opportunity to give many assignments. My children have not always taken them with the excitment that I have hoped for; nevertheless, it has been an assignment that they must complete.

There have been days that our 2 hour work schedule turned into an all day marathon of completing a few simple assignments. And being the persistent teacher I am; we deadlocked until the objective was met. During the afternoon, friends would come to the door to play. But because he wasted his valuable learning time, the luxury of playing the inviting, warm sunshine had been missed. When my little one realized that nothing else would take place until the assignment was done; he dried his tears and amazingly began to work out the IMPOSSIBLE problems with ease. I knew that it was never a matter of his ability to complete the assignment; but his attitude. My G-man now makes himself a checklist everyday of his assignments. He finds much pleasure in completing his own to-do list. He told me the other day, "Mom, you know, if we all will just accept our list of to do's without complaining; we get a great reward at the end of the day."

Brilliant kid!

Then my Father, God spoke to me. He reminded me that He has given me some assignments. And just like my boy, I have been obstinate- refusing to face the work and problems that are easy to solve. It's just I have an "I don't want to." And the longer that I refuse to do the work that He has intended to do; the longer this season will last. Time for an attitude change. I would hate to miss opportunities that await me because I refused to "do my assignments."

I now feel that God has given me a new assignment. No, I am not jumping up and down and excited about it. But He has shown me; it's time to move on to learning some new challenges so He can open up brand new opportunities for me.

Father, help me become the student that I and You would desire. Teachable and Obedient, ready to learn the easy and hard problems You give to me.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Perfect Princess Power!

Having a princess in the family is a special feeling. While the boys have been downstairs watching the kickoff of Nascar season, the girls have been busy creating!
We had feet baths and pedicures, made ornate watercolor fans, and adorned our heads with handmade princess hats.
Lily and I agreed that the boys certainly could not have beaten our fun night by a long shot!
Thanks for being in my world, Lil'!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Lost" finatic here!

Watching "Lost" has turned into a date night for my dh and I! I had a meeting tonight and knew that it would be recorded for me. But to my surprise, my sweetheart waited up for me until 10:30 to watch it with me. An experience that is richer when we watch it together! Thanks, Honey!

This week, my summation is that the "rescuers" are with the Dharma Intiative and they are after Ben because of his hostile take over on the island. They have finally caught up with him! But for some reason Dharma has gone to great lengths to keep this island covered up; including faking the recovering of the plane. Still not sure what that is about. And I still wonder about the true inhabitants of the island. Who are they?

I predict that one of the six is Sayid. I also think Sawyer has to be one of them too. And last of all, my guess has been that Jon is in the coffin. I think somehow he is manipulated back to the world.

Lasty, going out on a limb here, my prediction that Michael is the man planted on the freighter. Now that would be really crazy, but I have learned that Lost has written in some unexpected, crazy things.

It will be interesting to see what happens as we continue in the season.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Birthday to my Lil' Caboose!

Three years ago this week, you graced my life! And oh what a blessing you have been! You brought peace to my heart and completion to our family. There is not a day that goes by that you don't crack me up! The Lord knew I needed something else to keep me on my toes.

Strong and determined already! You will cup my face in your chubby little hands to make sure I hear you at all costs. Somehow you convince me and your siblings train tracks several times a day. Why isn't once enough? And if a day goes by without watching Thomas or a train documentary that we have Tivoed, it's a miracle. You're the only child that talks about himself in third person. I think you just love hearing your name!

The other day you helped set the table for the first time! I saw the excitement of the sense of accomplishment in your eyes.

Mischievious- yes you are! You've stuffed play dough in our outlets, dumped sugar on the counter, and have dug in the trash can. I have survived markers on my walls before, but markers on my carpet?! You have taken the cake!

I believe that God has sent you straight from Heaven to complete the5chaps! I love seeing you grow and learn everyday! I have no doubt a strong, faithful man you will become!

Happy 3rd Birthday!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lighting a Fire!!

Last week, I posted in response to a meme commenting my thoughts on the famous quote of William Butler Yeats, "Education is simply not filling the pail, but lighting the fire."

Well I did it! The blogging left me on a heart search of how exactly I could reach my 10 yr. son. He is the sweetest kid with a tender spirit, but I had run into some walls in reaching him as far as homeschooling goes. He told me he hates school! What a blow to the teacher! We have actually butted heads since he was 4 years old. I, as a public school teacher, was determined to raise a child who loved learning, books, and school. But that romance ended early. I began to ask myself what I was doing wrong. But my 7 yr. daughter as taken an excited affinity toward school. She loves it and picks up her studies quickly.

This week I decided to change things up a bit and create a lapbook. I knew that Lily would love it, but I never anticipated that G-man would go for it. We spent our mornings and afternoons finding information on rainforests and coming up with creative ways to display our findings. I will have to admit that I found Evan-Moor's teacherfilebox very helpful.

G-man presented his rainforest book at co-op on Wednesday. In class, he went from a kid who sits back and watches to a whiz raising his hand with all the answers and new information about rainforests. He even became very passionate about the deforestation of rainforests and is looking for ways to make a difference. That also led us into a discussion of politics and the role of lobbyists.

I have been so psyched about our improvements and the real learning that has taken place this week. We are going to create another lapbook in celebration of President's Day in the next couple of weeks. I hope this spark spreads in our Quests4Hope!

Pictures of Rainforest Lapbook

G-man created an anaconda you see on the left. He wrote a report in first person as if the snake is telling about himself. Lily made the leaf-cutter ant and dictated what she learned. They also included various facts about the forest floor of the rainforest.

Both children wrote poetry about the vines in the rainforest and posted them on the leaves. They also studied the Kapok tree and included information under the pod they created. I believe the most fun was learning about the jaguar who is known as the "King of the Rainforest" as he is at the top of the food chain.
The children enjoyed making drawings. G-man included a deer in the powerful jaws of his jaguar.

The 5 Chaps have started a fire!

Friday, January 25, 2008



"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."- William Butler Yeats

This has to be one of my most favorite quotes. I discovered it while reading on www.courageousbeings.com , a site that helps turn homeschooling from boring to being highly motivating. I have not participated in any of their EPIC units, but I do love their philosophy!

In a nutshell-- It is understood that there are dendrites in your brain that help "fire off" information and make connections, will reproduce themselves when a child is immersed in multisensory experiences. These type of experiences promote the best learning. That is why I love field trips so much.

It is not enough to sit at a table and do a worksheet--BORING! It has also been found that these dendrites begin to die after 4 days of boredom. Thus, when we stop looking at educating as completing a lesson or curriculum as success and begin to find ways to immerse our children into valuable learning experiences; the dendrites reproduce themselves and the brain is "firing" up!

For me, it has been a reminder that as an educator my main goal is to teach my children to become life long learners. If I can develop a spirit of inquiry in my children I have ultimately accomplished the main goal of education! Learning is not something that just stops at age 18 or 21. We all are continually learning. It is a necessity for survival, but it also makes a wonderful and rich life for the one who is learning and for those around him.

This quote has revitalized my outlook on homeschooling and education in general! I hope it sets all educators on fire as we attempt to to raise up a generation of motivated, inquiring, intellectual individuals.

What I would love to explore more is the how of turning a "bored" student into one who is excited about inquiry and learning. Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

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Who says school has to be boring! Enjoy our January learning fun!

Check Out Our Cowpens Field Trip!

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Battle of Cowpens Anniversary

The 5 Chaps took a trip back in time to The Battle of Cowpens. This weekend was the 227th Anniversary Celebration of the victory that Daniel Morgan led the early Americans in.

We learned that this was a great victory for the Patriots and gave them an upward swing in the American Revolution for South Carolina. We witnessed cannons firing, the early militia firing their muskets, and the calvary charging.

We were able to really experience the feel of the day as it was bitter cold similarly as it was 227 years ago.

We walked through the Continental Camp as they prepared for their battle which lasted less than an hour.

Being their on the battleground, I felt history touch me in remembering what the Patriots so dearly fought for. Going home, our family discussed the outcome if there was no revolt.

No America?

We became thankful for what our forefathers sacrificed so many years ago!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Meme- Homeschool Tips and Tricks

HOTM MagazineFriday Homeschool Meme: Tips and Tricks of Homeschooling Our Homeschooling Family

Homeschooling has been a wonderful experience for my family for the last 3 years. However, it does come with the challenges that one must learn how to overcome. I want to attempt to list the top 10 list for The 5 Chaps!

10- Be willing to toss a curriculum or lesson plans when it just is not working- or at least sell it on ebay! We all want to stick it out to the end, but sometimes we just waste our time.
Every child has a different temperate and a different learning style with multiple intelligences. Just because it worked for a sibling or Johnny across the street, doesn't mean that it will fit your child. It took me a year to find the perfect reading curriculum for my daughter. I just couldn't find the fit for her. But when I finally did, we went through the book and found where she was and finished the rest of the book in 12 weeks and now we have moved on at a great pace. We are now sticking with that curriculum because it works for her. Where would she be if I were more willing to experiment?

9- Know your child's temperament and learning style/ multiple intelligences. There are several online resources to find out if your child leans more toward auditory, visual, or kinestetic learning including the multiple intelligences. This helps a teacher know how to zero in on how the child learns best and teach to that strength. Oh the beauty of homeschooling as we play to the strengths of our children. This has been a key for me in connecting with my children in their learning.

8- Make a schedule and stick to it; but be willing to veer from it when needed. I am constantly working at this. I have found that I have very positive days when we stick to our schedule and I don't stop for extra phone calls or errands. But take breaks for those special times, like for us when it snows in SC!!

7- Include field trips in your learning! This is our favorite activity of homeschooling. We try to have at least one a week. Go to the park, nature observatory, science museums, zoos, historical sites, bread companies, plays, etc. We went to our state's visitor center and collected all of the brochures and found some wonderful historical facts of our state and have made plans to tour our local area.

8- When you do tour, include friends! My children love learning with other homeschoolers and I also love having a mom around to have an adult conversation with (about what? of course, our kids!)


7- Squeeze every bit of naptime for what it's worth!!

6- It's okay to let the tv help a little while! At Christmas my little train finatic watch "The Polar Express" 3 or 4 times a week while we worked on school. During the off season, he loves to watch train documentaries. Go figure!

5- Have on hand lots of stickers, markers, and play dough!

4- Let them watch and be involved too. My toddler will watch computer time for my kids, listen in on stories, and try to do the activities they are involved in like shaving cream spelling time.

3- On the days that you have had enough and feel like you need a "calgon" break"; but yet know that is impossible too. STOP- and remind yourself not to be so serious and do something fun with the kids. It helps me and the kids to get refocused.

2- Join a support group of some kind. I cannot recommend this more than anything else! When we isolate ourselves, we feel like we are the only homeschoolers in the world and quitting gets too easy. Being with other moms for support and insights has been invaluable for me and for my children. My support group has activities for kids, moms, couples, and families. It is almost like a second family.

1- PRAY and submit yourself to your Heavenly Father each and every day. Set the atmosphere of your home each and everyday with an uplifting devotional and music of your choice! This makes all the difference in the world!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Igniting Learning at Home

I have run across one of the most intiguing studies on learning and brain development. I found the information from a site that a couple of homeschool veterans hosts using material by Susan Kovalik at http://www.courageousbeings.com/. I highly recommend this site.

It is found that dendrites (the little squiggles that grow from a nueron in the brain) can grow or shrink as children experience boredom or learning. It has been found that boredom can actually change the structure of the brain. However, with rich sensory input, the greater the physiological growth in the brain and thus the greater the learning that will be wired into long-term memory.

It is important to get children to connect emotionally with the material you want to cover. Robert Sylwester has been quoted to say "emotion drives attention, and attention drives learning, memory, problem solving and just about everything else."

This philosophy of education has really sparked something in me. It is not enough to present some information to children and drive it in them. That is not learning. We must engage our students with multi-sensory input to compel their emotions which will in turn spark their brains.

There is sooooo much more to this research, I have only just begun. It certainly has challenged me to set some new goals for my homeschool learning with my children. I am ready for excitement to fill the air when it comes to learning encouraging my children to make inquiries and contributions from what they are learning.

I hope to write more on this subject as we begin our own EPIC with a "Little House" Study. In closing, I do believe that William Butler Yeats summed up what education- whether homeschooling or traditional education- should be--

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Like most people, the new year has brought many thoughts on the upcoming year and what it has in store. I would have to say that this year has a very different feel than others. My dh and I have a strong family focus this year. For the last 13 years, our lives have been about full time ministry but this year it is about The5chaps. Serving others in ministry has been very rewarding and fulfilling, but I allowed it to consume me to the point that I lost myself. This year is about finding me. I don't mean in a selfish way. I have no plans of trekking my own pursuits and serving up a piece of life for me and mine. I simply want to find myself in "beauty of the Lord... as he establishes the work of my hands" just as David pens in Psalm 90:17. (Thanks Rachel Anne @ http://www.homesanctuary.com/!)

With all of my heart, I believe God brought my husband and I out of full-time ministry to bless us and to show favor to our family as we learn to walk with Him in a new context. I am not sure where God is taking us ultimately, but I am okay with it as long as He remains in control. I hope to pen more about this journey along the next year.

So with that I have fashioned a blueprint for the new year called
"2008 Revolution"

1. Faith: Establish a fresh pattern of reading, studying, and serving God just because I really, really desire to and not out the responsibility of being in ministry.

2. Family: Rediscover and fall in love with my husband again! Share lots of family fun times with my children. LAUGH TOGETHER OFTEN!!

3. Friends: Develop new relationships with others that can add and multiply into our lives and purpose to reciprocate that back.

4. Fitness: Learn to love running. 5k here I come!

5. Finances: Become more generous. But not just with my money-- with my words, my thoughts, my time, my effort.

6. Fun: Being a choleric-type personality; I have determined that this year is a year to let go and just have loads of fun and do some things I have never done! Bottom line-- ENJOY THE LIFE GOD HAS GIVEN ME!

Here's to '08!! Ready or not, here I come!