Month: July 2012

Rumor Has It – Finding the Truth in Online Information

Adele says “rumor has it.” It is so easy to believe “rumors” no matter how good and pure of heart that they may seem. I recently read a beautiful story behind an amazing poem. I read the story on a Facebook group that I am a part of. I was mesermized by the thoughtful words of an inspirational elderly man. A picture was attached to his story and I was curious if the picture was the actual photo of the author. I needed a picture to go along with the story. So, I began researching via Google… I did find his picture, but after hours of research.

Here is the Original Poem

Source: and

Below are versions of the story behind the poem that follows. I directly “cut and pasted” them from the sources listed. Please keep in mind that both story one and two are false.

Story 1 “When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in GRASS VALLEY , CA . It was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the home. One nurse took her copy to Missouri . The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem. And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet. Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!” – and more than 10 other websites.

Another website quoted the story a bit differently:

Story 2 “When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a hospital in England, it appeared she had left nothing of value. The nurse, packing up her possessions, found this poem. The quality so impressed the staff that copies were distributed to all the nurses in the hospital. This poem then later appeared in the Christmas edition of “Beacon House News,” a magazine of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Association. This was the Lady’s bequest for posterity.”” – (I couldn’t find the poem published in any publication from the Beacon House or the Northern Ireland Mental Health Association).

Story 3 A message board user posted: “It’s been around a fairly long time. I worked as a care assistant in many nursing homes and residential homes between 1995 and 2004, and without fail, in every single one, someone would have pinned a copy of this poem on the staff noticeboard.” –

Surprisingly, I discovered that the poem (that I thought was written by an elderly man in a nursing home) was actually written by a home-bound disabled man who has authored hundreds of poems. David Griffith is the original author of the widely circulated poem, “Too Soon Old.” I also discovered that the poem (as mentioned in the false background, did not actually appear in the Christmas edition of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. This magazine does not exist. It is only found in google searches, in places where others have quoted the un-original version of the poem and background behind it. More than ten websites quote this poem as having been published in this non-existent magazine. However, an elderly person in a nursing home may have been found with this poem in his pocket. Perhaps the words of this poem spoke to his heart and how he felt as his years were coming to an end. Perhaps many aged individuals feel this way right now. (Source: )

Story 4 -The real story….I found the original authors website, thanks to Dianne’s article @ Mr. Griffith’s website has his countless number of poems published online. They are amazing! He writes about his brother who is mentally ill, and shares insight for Kevin’s pure love for God. David also wrote some humorous poems called “Adam’s Underwear” and “Dr. Seuss Explains Computers.” David is actually a home-bound disabled person. He’s been writing and publishing short stories since 1969-forty three years ago (as of July, 2012). I have emailed him to find out more about him. To be honest, I am not sure if he is still living. His website is dated 2001-2008 and his guestbook is too full to receive more messages.

A link on his page led me to his photo. (you can view it there, as my blog won’t let me post it….it must be copyrighted)

After typing his name in google images, I found a similar picture. At the following website, I found out that he was born in 1941 in Corpus Christi, Texas. If he is in fact still alive, he would be age 71. He was number 10 in a 10 child family. His parents were born late in the 1890s, and they too were from large families. He played high school football then later joined the Marines where he served two tours in Vietnam. After his military service he went to College and become an engineer and then a Southern Baptist Minister. He became homebound after suffering from a series of stress related heart attacks in the late 80s, and then a motorcycle wreck. He was left with spinal injuries and with a mobility impairment in 1991. He also suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Once fully disabled Dave refused to give-up, but started a writing workshop and came on the internet full time. He is the author of over 600 poems and 100 short, stories, much of his works can be found at where he maintains over 450 pages of his writings in page format. Dave is single, and lives alone with a full-time caregiver in Fort Worth, Texas. He refuses to live the life of a “cripple,” but rather travels, writes and maintains as active a lifestyle as his illnesses and injuries allow. Source:,%208.htm (published 2007)

So, why did I spend all of this time researching the true story? I simply wanted to prove and follow several points. First, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Second, think of how others feel-no matter how young or old they may be. Actively listen and help them in some way-don’t feel sorry for them. Next, research stories and find out the real meaning and history behind them. Also, enjoy poetry! Finally, learn about the stories behind your favorite poems and authors-it might make the poem come to life and become more personal. Last but not least, don’t quote a poem, statement or article without first reading the actual article and/or source.

Too Much Technology?

By: Andrea Chouhan

The TV is no longer the only form of technological entertainment-for kids and adults! When my first child was a baby, I stimulated his mind with classical music while he watched a Baby Einstein DVD. As he smiled at the moving toys and watched the cause and effect relationships of each, he giggled and was very focused. By the time I had my second child, I could not watch and listen to it anymore. I loved the music, but the repetitive moving plastic toys, started to irritate me (and I was even multi-tasking!)

The iPod came on to the market in 2007-the birth year of my third child. By age 2 he somehow got hold of it and he was satisfied during fussy spells. I found that this device could be used as a quick babysitter while I did my grocery shopping! Soon, my then 4 and 6 year old children became interested in playing on the iPod too! I helped them each find so many free apps that were a mix of games and educational fun. We began reading and listening to bedtime stories on it. This was by far, a cooler toy than the Atari that I played when I was a child!

However, I did witness some negative effects from too much iPod use. Just like with any toy, when I needed to take away the iPod (because I needed to use it) my children would have tantrums. I finally had to put my foot down and use the microwave timer to allow each child to play for 10 minutes at a time. They learned this routine well and the tantrums became non-existent. Too much of a good thing can definitely become a bad thing. In fact, in 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time for children under age 2. I am sure some parents have already introduced their babies to the ipod, as I did, however no research proves that ipod use is damaging. Some studies do warn that attention and behavior problems could result, though. However, too much of anything can be damaging, right? Too much computer, TV, alcohol, video games, ice cream, shopping can be detrimental.

We must be careful to ensure that a child is not engrossed in using any device for long periods of time. Adults must rely on their intuition and anecdotal evidence to guide their decision making about when and how much technology their children interact with. It is our responsibility to teach children (and ourselves) the appropriate and inappropriate uses of such new novelties.

Technology can make the lives of children better, as Warren Buckleitner proclaims. The NAEYC also asserts that “we now have the tools we need to start improving the quality of childhood.” What research does tell us, is that “the brain is changing in response to the changes brought about by the high tech information age in which we live” (2010). Did you know that our brain has cravings? Sprenger’s research reveals that the brain craves novelty, excitement and innovation (2010). Technology such as: iPods, iPads, video games and interactive white boards offer children (and many adults) this type of stimulation.


(Furman, E., 2012). “Coolest Tech Toys of 2012”

(Ghazi Aska, J., 2012) “Toddler and touch screens: pros and cons for parents to consider” Deseret News-Online Magazine

(Buckleitner, W., 2000) “A Day in the Life of a Kid in 2020” Children’s Software Review, January/February.

(Sprenger, M., 2010) Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age. ASDC: Alexandria, VA.

“Tech Toys for Kiddies”

images from google

The Need for National Standards

How does the American Curriculum measure up to countries teaching with a National curriculum? I will briefly explore some positive effects of having a national curriculum while comparing top performing and low performing countries. The ideas offered here are my opinions based on my research. More detailed data can be found in the sources provided at the end of this article.

I am proud to say that I am an American teacher. However, what to teach and how to teach it, is always a concern for principals and legislators. Teachers have less difficulty knowing what to teach. In the distant past, American students outperformed children from around the world. For many years, American students have rated much lower than other advancing nations. The “No Child Left Behind Act” was created to address this problem. This act allowed each state to develop their own curriculum under certain limited federal regulation. However, it merely caused more problems and confusion in the American education system.

During my career as a teacher in Texas, I have taught Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Second and Third Grade. I taught Special Needs children, GT students and English Language learners as well. I worked at five different campuses and noticed such vast differences in the methods of delivering the learning standards. The reason being: the state of Texas developed learning standards, objective and benchmarks for each grade level. The school district, the principal, the school and then the teachers respectively decided which of those standards to teach and how to present them. Some schools were more lenient, while others were extremely stressful for both the teacher and students. The one commonality at each school was this: test taking skills and strategies were at the forefront. Schools in Texas are rated, each year, based on the results of the standardized testing system. Principals and teachers work diligently to prepare children for these tests.

In England there is one national curriculum (developed in 1992). They are now an above average scoring country on the TIMSS. The United States scored in the slightly below average level. The US has begun developing Common Core State Standards, which provides standards for each subject and grade level. Not all of the 50 states have adopted such standards. Virginia, Nebraska, Texas, and Alaska are the four states that have chosen to continue using their state, not national standards. Perhaps government leaders feel that their existing standards are sufficient or superior? Other countries, such as Sweden and Australia are in the process of moving towards adopting a national curriculum. On the TIMSS, their students scored slightly below average. These countries desire student success, similar to Singapore and France. Hopefully, their new national curriculums will lead the way.

Dr. McPherson has researched one key element in national curriculums. These schools teach the same subjects and for the same amount of minutes per year. For example, every Kindergarten student will receive the same amount of time learning English in Singapore. Many high performing countries have a national curriculum which proves to be successful in the results of national assessments. Many countries have such a national curriculum and have had it for many years: France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. In 2003, the highest performing 4th and 8th grade students came from the following countries: Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Taipei, England, Russian Federation, Hungary (results on the TIMSS-Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). The majority of these top performers are from countries with a National Curriculum!

After reviewing the Kindergarten standards, I noticed that the Texas Math standards were much more rigorous. While teaching Kindergarten in Texas, quite often we teachers grumbled about the complexity of the Math skills that we were required to teach. Perhaps Texas wants to push the children to higher levels? Now, the Common Core Standards of the US assert that “more learning time in Kindergarten should be devoted to number than to other topics.” Numbers, shapes, counting, object sorting, addition and subtraction are the main skills that are targeted in the Common Core US Kindergarten Math standards. The British Curriculum in Kindergarten (Key Stage 1) focuses on numbers, shapes, space, addition and subtraction, as well. Under the British and US common standards, all children in Kindergarten will be learning addition and subtraction. However, countries without common guidelines may not even teach addition in Kindergarten. This poses a problem for a child who moves from one state or province to another-or event from one country to another. Thus, revealing the need for common standards. Similarly, a child who is only being taught letter names in Kindergarten in Scotland (another below average country on the TIMSS) will have difficulty when transferring to a Kindergarten in England where his peers are reading words and sentences. When this same child moves along each grade level, he is at risk for reading below age level. He would be missing that foundation of phonics. I was curious about the major differences between the British and US learning standards. As a result, I researched and then compiled the details of the similarities and differences between the Kindergarten Math and Reading Standards. To see these details, click here:

Comparing US Common Core Standards to British National Standards: MATH

Comparing US Common Core Standards to British National Standards: READING

After reviewing the comparisons, I noticed that both have about 50% of the same standards, but the other 50% varies. Some differences in Math are: The British Curriculum teaches: ordering 1 and 2 digit numbers and also rounding 2-digit numbers to the nearest whole number. The US Curriculum only orders 1 digit numbers and does not introduce rounding of numbers, in Kindergarten. On the other hand, the US Curriculum teaches the concept of greater than and less than, while the British does not. The British teaches how to use odd and even numbers whereas the US does not. One might wonder which country has the best curriculum. With each society having its own standards, laws and school systems-the curriculum they choose may already be meeting the needs of their population. On the other hand, it may not. Studies show that students that scored higher on international tests are ones that are part of more advanced countries.


(2012) ASDC. “Common Core Adoptions by State”

(2012). Department for UK Education:

(2012). Common Core State Standards Initiative:

(2009) “Choosing Between the British and American Curriculum” Online Magazine: The Essentials Guide: Shanghai,

(2012) “Education in Sweden: Lessons for Life”

(2012, McPherson, Fiona). “Educational Curricula” MemPowered website children/international-curricula

Author of this article: Andrea Chouhan from

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Homework Stinks – but Kid boxes are Fun!


Let’s face it-homework stinks. Kids hate it and teachers hate creating it and finding creative ways to get children to complete it on time. Long, paper and pencil homework is not 100 % productive for Pre-K and Kindergarten children. They learn by playing and they have fun by playing-not being tortured with writing and sitting for long periods of time. So, what to do, what to do, then? Children need to be active-and not necessarily with a paper and pencil. Well, some brilliant moms and teachers must have been pondering similar ideas and dilemmas. The problem has productively been solved with the Busy Bag, Travel kit, Theme Bag-whatever you call it! It is a bag/box/container that is filled with fun stuff and it keeps a child engaged for more than five minutes. I am on a mission to create a learning kit, in comparison to the ideas that I discover. My goal is to make a kit based on what a child is currently learning about in my classroom. So, because I know that in reality-these Take Home Kits are not my own brilliant original idea, I am setting off on my own journey to discover what other teachers and moms out there have already created.

To begin finding inspirations, I begin with Pinterest (of course!)  Hmmm….so…..what will my Take Home Kits look like? Maybe, it will look like these that follow, perhaps????

Spider Learning Bag –  I just love the tea set and stuffed animals that are here to encourage a child to act out the story. It was created by Ms. Annie @ kindergarten at heart. I just love her learning bags!

Toddler Busy Bag – I love how @ The Princess and the Tot, this super mom created this bag full of colored paper clips and paint sample cards. This is a fun way to color sort. The bag is just an inexpensive pencil holder zipper pouch!

Toddler Learning Baskets – Lindsay over @ Passionate Homemaking created a list of supplies and activities for toddler bags. There are not many visuals of what the kit looks like, but they are so geniusly simple, that I am sure that you can imagine them, just as I did!

Camp Bag – Victoria @ one-crafty-momma is so crafty with this idea! This would be a kit that could not be reused as often. But I think it is one worth noting here, because it is just so darn clever. It also looks like a lot of fun to make. The child is learning while making each item, as well as the bag! (She actually made this as a birthday party bag-but I just can’t help to see the educational side of it!)

Bean Learning Bag – Look carefully-these beans have sight words written on them! This cool idea from Melissa @ Chasing Cheerios is seriously smart!

Retail Learning Kit – And-if you don’t have the time to make a kit, then you can buy one and have it shipped and delivered to you!. Jessica Kim created her own business with these amazing BabbaBoxes. How smart she is! She creates kits and subscriptions for parents to order kits per month or year.

BabbaBox Sample 1

Ok-now I have been inspired. I am ready to begin planning the contents for my Take Home Learning Kits. My goal is to incorporate learning and educational stimulation with the activities provided in the Kit. I want my students to have fun, enjoy thinking and using art, as well as be challenged with Math and Language tasks. I also want my kits to contain a real book, puzzle, art activity, technology element, drama task and incorporate collaboration with a parent. I am so excited. My journey begins.

21st Century Learning Skills-Do you have them?

By: Andrea Chouhan

“For students to succeed in the coming decades, they must also learn to be creative, think critically, communicate, and collaborate.” New literacies of information, media and technology skills are additional skills that are vital for 21st Century Learning. Young children are already self-learning how to digitally think critically.

Let’s face it-children and students crave technology. Technology grabs their attention, is exciting and is engaging in many ways. Other than handheld blinking light toys, 2- 3 year olds first technology is the iPod or iPad. Its ease of use and simple directions are learned quickly. Young children learn that if they touch the screen-something exciting will happen. Sounds and animation are a given. This interactive technology wins against watching a cartoon on t.v.

The next type of technology that young children interact with is laptop computers. Like the iPad, it is handheld and interactive but in a different way. The computer allows a child to learn by searching the internet, using the keyboard to type letters and words, and using the mouse to click and drag objects on the screen.

All the above technologies foster learning by reaching out to so many learning styles: tactile, visual and auditory. Students today are influenced by the media-rich and instant technology based environment. Technology provides immediate, fast, engaging, and dynamic learning experiences. Students’ methods of learning are different than earlier generations. Students collaborate, network and communicate via technology, like Twitter, blogs, texting and Facebook. They learn online and rely on digital media for information and socialization. They crave this technology, just like prior generations craved the radio and talking on the home telephone.

It almost seems unfair that children have such easy access to technologies that were not even created when we were in high school. This brings up the fact that these children have the opportunity to learn more efficiently, than we did as children.

“Today’s students need to be prepared for life in a world that will require new skills. That need puts schools at the forefront of technology adoption and education.” In order for teachers to meet students “where they are at” schools must create a learning environment that inspires students to attain the 21st century skills that society demands of us. The classroom should be student-centered instead of teacher centered. In a student centered classroom, learners are engaged in meaningful conversations, interactions with technology and group-based tasks. The direction of learning is facilitated by the teacher, as opposed to being dogmatic about covering specific standards. Long gone should be teacher-centered classrooms, where the teacher stands in front of the classroom and talks while the students take notes and listen. Who actually likes to sit and take notes anyway? This is not a conducive style of learning for most people. This requires tough change, which begins with the school and then the teacher. This change begins with integrating and aligning technology within curriculum, instruction, learning standards, teacher professional development and student assessment. In order for schools, teachers and parents to nurture student learning, they must learn about these new technologies. Just as teenagers acquire more knowledge from the internet than they do their parents, we adults need to follow their example. To start with, I encourage you to investigate some of the new technologies that I have discovered. A simple Google search provided me with knowledge on the following: Augmented reality learning, iStation computer assessments, Animation-ish software. By clicking on the links below, you can begin your journey towards critical and creative thinking. Can you use these new technologies? Can your child or student use them? If so, how? Enjoy your learning journey!


e-book, “21st Century Learning”: Tech & Learning Online Magazine


Computer-based Reading Assessment-

Animation-ish Graphic design Software for children-

Letters Alive, Augmented Reality 3-D Software for the Whiteboard

Augmented Reality Technology Brings Sesame Street Characters to Life | Augmented Reality in Education and Training |

Interesting Parenting Article:

Interactive WhiteBoard interactivity!

Children love using Interactive whiteboards in the classroom. I have observed that children learn more and are involved more when they are actually interacting with the board, with their touch.  It is true that children learn by doing, therefore the whiteboard should be used to its full capability-instead of just being a backdrop to view Power Points and video’s. Power Points and video’s are important too, but should not be the only method for delivering instruction. Children are very capable of coming up to the screen and touching it to advance each slide. I have realized that I need to include more whiteboard interaction into my teaching. I will be using this cute little picture icon to display whiteboard activities that I have found online, from other other teachers. I am excited to start using other professionals activities!

Here are my teacher inspiration blogs below!

Here’s an early childhood one- It’s one of my favorites!

Here is an Australian sight that allows you to use activities for free.

This one is by Carson Dellosa and includes a free download unit:

More downloads here:

This post below is even better than mine and has a comprehensive list of hundreds of interactive lessons!


Kids just want to have fun….during Summer time (and mom just wants to keep them busy)!

Here are my top 5 some fun things that I did with my own children….ages 5, 7 and 9. Maybe you can try some of them too, with your kids!

1. Local Field Trip – We went to the Fish Market (the fresh seafood section of our local grocery store). The kids had fun on this “free field trip.” I just bought shrimp-that they didn’t eat. Oh well, they will never forget those little fish eyes staring at them!
2. Fruit Scavenger Hunt – I told each child the fruit that I wanted them to find, gave them a plastic bag, then told them how many that I wanted. They each came back so proud! We ended up with a variety of fruit to take home…but we ended up making fruit salad. I let them use butter knives to cut the fruit.
3. Kids Grocery List – I split the grocery list three ways and it was each childs job to find the items on their list. We all stayed together during this process and they were not allowed to get anything else, than what was on their list. (The list was actually MY grocery list!)
4. Swim in the house – Yes, this sounds weird, but for some reason my kids love swimming in the bathtub. They also get a little clean in the process. I let them use their water guns and floats also.
5. Gold Rush – Randomly drop coins under furniture, cushions, in the washroom, under the towels and in the dirty clothes. Tell each child that they have to find a certain amount of money. This is good teamwork-if they are honest! Or, you can just tell them that whatever money that they find, they can keep.