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Life Lessons

I was a child of the 70s and a teen of the 80s.  Valley talk was the trend, even in my southern Ohio suburb.  We learned that "totally" was an exclamation, and that "Grody to the maximum!" was a complete explanation.  To add a bit more of a twist, my freshman principal was Mr. Grody.  Oh, teachers, just imagine the jokes...

Each day, Mr. Grody ended the announcements with his "quote of the day," an inspirational saying that was meant to motivate us to do our best in the classroom that day.  Most of his quotes were commonplace, or were expressions we had heard our entire lives from our parents, grandparents, and even on television.  Then came this one:

"If you want to make an impression on the sands of time..."

I remember sitting up straighter in my seat, waiting to hear the end of this one.  It sounded like it was going to be profound.  It was going to be a life lesson I could live by.  And then he finished:

"Wear work boots."

What?  Wear work boots?  How lame!  Where did he get this crap from?  What was he thinking?  That was just silly! 

Or was it?  I am now 44, almost 45 years old, and I still remember that quote from 30 years ago!  And I think of it often, especially when life makes that lesson oh so real!

It wasn't the message I was waiting to hear.  It wasn't about breaking down barriers, or forging new paths, or even starting a revolution (I was very much a little revolutionary!).  But it was about something much more important... You must work, and work hard, for what matters most to you in life.  We don't make significant lasting life impressions by sitting still.  We make them by doing.

I taught with this in mind.  I worked hard, and I taught my students to do the same.  Class was not about a quick lesson; it was about learning what was important, no matter how long that lesson took us to learn.

What will be your impression in the sands of time?

Happy Teaching!


The Beauty of Our Nation

As we travel the United States, we are in awe at the beauty and majesty of our nation.  So far, we have traveled from home in Central Kentucky to Southeast Pennsylvania to Central Florida, across the South from Florida to California, and now we are headed up the West Coast. 

We have driven through deserts, across plains, up (and down) steep graded mountains, along jetty coasts, and through deep dividing valleys.  Our travels have allowed us to see the natural beauty of our country, and to experience life in a way few ever get to enjoy.  It has also helped me to relax, and I am slowly learning to "stop and smell the roses!"

Still, the teacher in me comes out every day.  I see lessons for my students everywhere.  Even more amazing, I see lessons I never could have taught before.  I see the interdisciplinary nature of our world, and I now better understand the regional differences I have taught about for so long!

And now that I've traveled this far, I can't wait to see the rest.  Just imagine what else I will learn as we go!

Happy Teaching!


Modern Travel

Living in the modern world, we are more and more dependent on technology for our trip navigation.  Most of the time, our trusted GPS guides us down the correct path to our destination.  However, it is not fail-proof.  There are times where we find ourselves in a random neighborhood, instead of traveling on the highway we expected to find.  This leads me to a very important lesson I hope all teachers will share with their students, especially those in Geography classes around the world!

We are traveling the entire west coast of America in a 40' motorhome.  We also have our TOAD, a Honda CR-V we town behind the big "bus."  Due to our massive size, we must be very careful as we travel from one location to our next destination.  If the GPS decides to lead us into a tight situation, we may not be able to get out without great effort, and possible great cost.

We have already experienced this little lesson a few times.  We've had to stop, unhook our tow car, and carefully back ourselves out of the sticky situation, all while holding up not-so-happy traffic.

Blaming our situations on the GPS is an easy out, but the lesson has become an easy one to learn, and more importantly, we have now learned how to avoid such situations in the future! 

Traveling blind is no longer an option.  We have gone back to using our basic geography skills to map out our path before ever leaving our site.  With a general outline of the major routes we should be taking, we are more aware of the obstacles we will encounter.  There is also a U.S. Highway Atlas behind my seat, and it has been pulled out en route for a number of reasons.

While our GPS is still a very valuable tool, we are very thankful for having the basic skills we need to navigate our travels.  After all, we do want to be able to find our way home eventually!

Do your students know the Basics of Geography?

Happy Teaching!


Life Lessons: The Real World

Students ask us every day, "What does this have to do with my life?"

"Why do I have to learn this?"

"What good will this ever do me?"

In the classroom, I was always quick to respond the simple truth, learning Social Studies (and Math, Science, ELA, and other disciplines) is what will make you a well-rounded, educated adult; someone able to navigate the real world and all the obstacles you will encounter in it.

As we have started traveling across the country in our newest life adventure, I see my words coming true more and more each day!
  • I am practicing my Social Studies (especially Geography) skills as we navigate our way from town to town and state to state.  I have also learned that GPS systems are not always reliable, and my good ole fashioned Atlas is my most valuable tool.
  • We are using our Math skills as we calculate our distance, plan our our travel times, and estimate our expenditures for gas, lodging, and other travel necessities.  Who knew camping would require such a tight budget and careful planning?!
  • Our ELA skills are being practiced as we learn the different local languages (Yes, there are many different "languages" across our country!) and have to communicate with varied vocabulary.  While we are in the same country, it often seems like a whole new world.
  • Science knowledge has come in handy as we have had to weatherproof ourselves and prepare for the changing climates, not to mention having a safe knowledge of the animals (and bugs!) we have encountered along our path.  I never knew what a "stink bug" was before this adventure, but, oh boy, I know now!  
Where are we headed next?  Here's a few hints!
  • We are currently in Oregon House, CA, surrounded by beautiful mountains and deep in the Sierra foothills.
  • It will be just over 2.5 hours from where we are now, and our new campground is off Interstate 5, just south of Lake Shasta.
  • We travel no more than 55 MPH by state law for our type of vehicle (and we are towing).
  • We will be headed North, closer to the big tall trees we can't wait to see.
  • The people we will encounter always ask about our "southern accent" when we talk, but they like to use the word "Eureka" quite a bit, referring to a big find here back in 1849... Hmmm, isn't there a team here in California called the 49ers?!
  • And our new location brings me great fear... I'm told, as we get closer to those big tall trees, we will see more movement on the ground and in the sky.  Apparently, there are large populations of both bats and rodents in these beautiful landscapes we are traveling through on our wild adventure.  Love the landscapes, not so much the critters!
Now, I need to stop writing about it, and start planning.  I have a campground to reserve, a budget to update, gas costs to estimate, tourist guides to read, and so much more!  Oh, and don't even get me started on the local restaurants and foods we have found on our trip or will find in the future... I'm gaining the weight just thinking about it!

Happy Teaching!


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