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What it Means to Connect the Concepts by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Looking down on rocky mountains, gray pillars of stone, green pine trees
Stunning rock pillars in Switzerland Image by BlackPowder75 on Pixabay

Imparting information and seeing your child grasp it is one thing, but that knowledge will only take root when the information the child has learned is applied. Application is key. You can teach your child all day long about the mechanics of riding a bicycle, but until your child gets on the bike and rides it by himself, he will not completely understand what it means to ride a bike.

So how can you take classroom learning and successfully apply it to real life situations? By watching for everyday opportunities to link learning to life.

Turn everyday life experiences into practical teaching opportunities that your children will enjoy.

After teaching about rocks, take your children outdoors to look for rocks. You can do this as you work through the curriculum, but remember that everywhere you take your children, there’s an opportunity to review what you all learned about rocks in the classroom. The lake, a stream, the street, a playground: these are all places where rocks are found.

Take the time to collect a few rocks from each place, label them, and back in “the lab” (home or classroom), compare and contrast the rocks. How are the features of the rocks taken from the lake or a stream different from those collected from the street or road and playground? And don’t merely guess;  refer to previously taught materials when making assertions.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
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The Top 6 Teaching Skills by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A bright blue metallic background. Man in suit holds a plate. The word "Skills" appears and four symbols: tools, person, head with cogs, light bulb.

The following skills are necessary to be a great teacher:

Communication

  • Verbal and written, friendly body language, and the ability to really listen.

Critical Thinking

  • Ability to solve a variety of problems often under a tight deadline.
  • Ability to answer difficult questions on the spot, solve conflicts between students, revise lesson plans, and deal with issues among colleagues.
  • Knowing the appropriate resources to use to solve questions and conflicts quickly and effectively.

Organization

  • Juggling several tasks in a day, from teaching and attending meetings, to lesson planning and grading.
  • Keeping it all organized and in writing.

Passion

  • Being enthusiastic about whatever subject s/he is teaching. Students see that passion and become enthusiastic participants.

Patience

  • Demonstrating patience when dealing with difficult classroom situations, explaining concepts multiple times, and dealing with parents, colleagues, and administrators.
  • Handling situations with a calm, professional demeanor with careful attention to the challenge of the moment.
  • Emotional control and maturity can be learned and must be practiced.

Technical Skills

  • Teachers must understand the material they teach. Even teachers of very young children need significant expertise. It is not enough for a first-grade math teachers to know how to perform basic arithmetic; s/he must have a solid understanding of numbers and numeric relationships in order to be able to explain the material in a thorough and responsive way.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

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What Does it Mean to be a Teacher by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A teacher’s role is multifaceted. Their job is to counsel students, help them learn how to use their knowledge and integrate it into their lives so they will become valuable members of society. Teachers are encouraged to adapt learning methods to each individual student’s learning style, to challenge and to inspire them to learn.

An illustration of a gray chalkboard, with an attractive woman about 30 with short red hair and glasses holding open a book to check something.
Teacher image by Tumisu on Pixabay

Teacher Duties

The duties of an elementary school teacher include:

  • Planning lessons that teach specific subjects such as math, science, and English.
  • Teaching lessons in whole-group or small-group configurations.
  • Assessing and evaluating student’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Preparing students for standardized tests.
  • Communicating student progress to parents or, in the case of homeschooling, to the state.
  • Developing and enforcing classroom rules.
  • Supervising children in extracurricular activities such as lunch and recess.
  • Conducting in-class activities.
  • Planning field trips from simple exploratory walks around school activities, to traveling by school bus to activities in the city.

Teacher Standards

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle
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The Heart of a Teacher is… by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

The heart of a great teacher is:

colorful paper hearts, red, yellow, pink, hanging from a clothesline by clothes pins, with a green bush and floral background
The heart of a great teacher has room for all her or his students.

Compassionate

Compassion is the utmost feeling of understanding and showing others that you are concerned about them. A compassionate teacher models this characteristic through his/her actions, and as a result, students will be more open to understanding the world around them.

Empathetic

Being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see things from their perspective can have a powerful impact on students’ decisions and actions.

Positive

Staying positive when it’s tough can have a tremendously positive impact on students and everyone around us. Looking on the bright side and staying positive about classroom assignments such as science experiments and processes encourages students.

Networking

A great teacher bridges gaps and builds relationships and a community.

Inspirational

An inspirational teacher uncovers hidden treasures, possibilities, and magic right before her students’ eyes.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

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Stalking Chile, the Red Green-Iguana by Pam Bickell

I’ve taken care of Ms. Powers home and reptiles when she travels for a couple of years now. They all answer to their names and I know each of them personally, though I’m closer to some than to others. Chile, a reddish green iguana is young and pretty skittish. He was very nervous about me when he first came to live with Elaine, but after a while, he realized I was delivering daily deluxe salads and he stayed in one place as I set his salad plate inside his enclosure.

Though he ate his salad every day, I never saw him eating. It didn’t matter how many times I walked into the room, he was never near his food dish—but the food had disappeared.

I’m thinking, “Gumby arms?” And I decided to become a stalker.

Chile, the stalkee, however, did not cooperate, EVER. Food gone every day with no chewing action witnessed by me.

One day, I crept around the corner and HE HAD GREENS hanging from his mouth. I spun and ran for my phone camera. I KNEW I would be too late, but he was in the same spot. I slowed, acting casual, pretending like I didn’t see him. Then I snapped his picture! I was so proud of my stalking, I texted it to Elaine. She was proud of me, too. 😊

A reddish green iguana inside a cage, standing at a salad plate, with greens in his mouth.
Got ya, Chile!

A few days later, I walked into the room and Chile was chomping away at his salad. I thought of my camera, he looked up at me, and improbable as it sounds, he sent me a thought: “I LET you see me eating. You’re a really bad stalker. Take another picture if you want.”

So, I did.

a reddish green iguana standing on a log in his cage, chewing on salad greens
“I LET you see me eating. Duh!”

But never again will I stalk an iguana. They’re just too dang smart.

Lyric Power Publishing offers student workbooks and activity sheets for teachers, tutors and home schooling parents. One of them is a workbook all about the amazing creatures we call iguanas.

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Lightning and Me–We’re Close by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Blue sky but light is fading. Lightning strikes power poles. Dark line of trees across bottom of picture.
Nope, not just ONE pole . . .

When lightning strikes, you probably do not want to be near me.  I’ve never been directly struck by lightning, but too many times, it has struck close by. I opened my apartment door in Houston during a thunderstorm and the bolt hit just outside my door.  All my hair stood on end as I closed the door. I’ve been inside multiple houses when bolts struck the house directly in front of where I sat.

My favorite occurrence of near misses occurred in Pensacola, FL. One of the main thoroughfares is a wide, straight road with regularly-spaced power transformers on poles. I was driving home in a violent thunderstorm, when a lightning bolt flashed through the air, striking a transformer as I passed. Boom! The transformer exploded in sparks. I was startled, but I continued. Boom! The next transformer exploded with another bolt as I passed. A third transformer met the same fate as I drove by it. Boom! Followed by the fourth! Boom!

Grateful to have finally traversed the stretch of the road with the power lines, I now had to cross railroad tracks. Just before I reached the tracks, lightning struck the rails on my right. The electricity sparked as it rushed down the rails in my direction! I floored my car’s gas pedal hoping to outrun the approaching sparks. “Don’t touch the frame of the car,” I told myself. “Surely my rubber tires will protect me.” But after the four power poles, I raced across the tracks just in time and I didn’t have to find out.

So, if you’re ever near me with lightning in the area, you might want to move away. 😊

Elaine A.Powers loves an adventure and never sits still for long. She also writes stories for children that feature adventurous non-human characters, such as Grow Home, Little Seeds.

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Eating Together as a Family Leads to Better Grades by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A father, mother and two children at the dinner table in a room with French doors and windows. Mother is placing a dish on the table.
Family time is related to better grades.

Studies have proven that there’s a significant link between family dinners and academic performance. A report by CASA (Christian Academic Support Association) found that teens who have between five and seven family dinners per week were twice as likely to report receiving mostly A’s and B’s in school, compared to those teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week. In addition, only nine percent of teens who ate frequently with their families did poorly in school, according to the report.”

And the conversations that take place around the dinner table help boost children’s verbal skills and thinking skills.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

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Seven Ways to Motivate Your Students to do the Assignment by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A photo of statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with the words 7 ways to motivate your students

Seven ways to motivate your students to do their assignments:

  • Give them a reason why they should.
    • A poll of the students in my 6th grade Language Arts class:
      • “I want to get good grades”
      • “I know I will need this education later in life”
      • “My mom and dad expect me to do well.”
      • “I want to go on to seventh grade.”
      • “I want to be in student council and be a tutor.”
      • “I want to get a good job when I grow up.”
      • “I want to do well so I can be a better person.”
  • Give a lot of individual genuine praise.
    • Ways to say “Good Job”
      • “You’ve got your brain in gear today!”
      • “That was first class work.”
      • “Congratulations, you got it right!”
      • “You’ve got the hang of it.
      • “That’s an interesting way of looking at it.”
      • “That’s “A” work.
      • “Keep working on it; you’re improving.”
      • “You are learning fast.”
      • “Keep up the good work!”
      • “It looks like it is going to be a super paper.”
  • Choose subjects that interest them and are “cool” to work on.
  • Provide extra time and extra chances for them to complete their work.
  • Take a lot of time to explain concepts and directions well.
  • Make subjects easy to understand.
    • Speak in language of their grade level, not in teacher-ese.
  • Make things seem easier than they really are.
    • Math doesn’t have to have “problems.” It can have “situations.” And harder problems can become “fancier situations.”

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher, and creator of the comprehensive educational supplemental workbooks published by Lyric Power Publishing.

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Cuckoos: Anis and Roadrunners by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I have written about birds such as roadrunners and anis and didn’t realize at the time that they were both members of the Cuckoo family. No, not the bird that pops out of the clock, but the family of medium-sized birds that are found throughout the world on all continents except Antarctica. The cuckoo family members live in a variety of habitats, including forests, mangroves and deserts.

A Greater Roadrunner brown and white bird, standing in a desert
Greater Roadrunner

The two basic body types have adapted to their environments: tree dwellers, like anis, are slender; and ground dwellers, like roadrunners, are stocky. Most cuckoos have long tails that are used for steering, whether flying or running.

Ani Bird

The interesting characteristic of the cuckoos is their zygodactyl feet: two toes point forward and two toes point back, making an X. This means you can’t tell which direction the bird is going.

Since cuckoos are found worldwide, many legends have been created about them. Cuckoos were sacred to the Greek goddess, Hera, who ruled over the heavens and the earth. Cuckoos are also sacred in India to Kamadeva, the god of desire and longing. In contrast, cuckoos are associated with cuckoldry in Europe and with unrequited love in Japan. In the Bahamas, the smooth billed ani is believed to bring death, which, of course, is not true.

Roadrunners are cuckoo family members in the Southwest U.S., where they are of special significance for Native Americans. Roadrunners are believed to ward off evil. The X-shaped footprints conceal the direction the bird is running, so spirits can’t follow them. The roadrunners are symbols of strength. Some cultures believe they are sacred and do not kill them, while others use their meat to gain strength.

An orange book cover with a roadrunner popping out of a blue circle, with the words Don't Make Me Fly

Elaine A. Powers is the author of Don’t Make Me Fly, which is a fun-fact book about Roadrunners, written in rhyme, colorfully illustrated by Nicholas Thorpe.

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Trevor, the Amazing, Climbing Box Turtle! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A box turtle, climbing onto a box, stuffed between a glass door and a screen door
Trevor, between the doors. The box was supposed to stop him from doing this…

When we think about turtles, like box turtles, we think about an animal that spends his days roaming around on the ground, stumbling over low rocks and debris. However, I have found male box turtles, at least my box turtle, Trevor, to be a daredevil. Trevor had been moved from family to family to family—until someone decided that Trevor should have a forever home and he came to live with me.  I contacted the State and was told he should never be released into the wild because, having been in captivity so long, he could introduce new diseases.

Trevor became an interesting family member. Back East, he loved going out on the lawn. He would wait until I wasn’t watching, then make a break for it. Fortunately, he has short little legs and I could outrun him, but he could be quite quick. He liked leaping off stairs and in one case, a balcony. Soft landings and maybe a guardian angel allowed him to survive. He wasn’t injured, not even a chipped shell. Trevor must tour, even if it means stepping off an edge!

Then there was the day I looked for Trevor all around the house and couldn’t find him. I looked under and behind every piece of furniture and in every corner, and checked that all doors were closed, but no Trevor. Where could he be? I went into my sunroom again, where I often find Trevor. I heard a scraping sound, coming from the ceiling. There he was! Trevor had climbed up the screen door, bracing his back against the sliding glass door, until he reached the top.

A door is opened, to a screen door, with a Box Turtle climbing up the screen
Here the Amazing Trevor is attempting to climb the screen without the glass door as a support.

Trevor continues this behavior in my Arizona house. Here are some photos of Trevor climbing up the screen door. The mixer box was supposed to keep him out of there. Didn’t work.

Below, Rose wanted to join in the fun, but she didn’t fit.

So, when looking for your box turtle, be sure to look up!

a turtle on abox inside a narrow space between two doors, with a tortoise that is too big, trying to squeeze into the space
Rose, a red-foot tortoise, wants to play but can’t quite fit in the space!

Elaine A. Powers is the author of the fun, rhyming, science-based books about critters called the “Don’t Series.” In Don’t Call Me Turtle, she explains how to tell the difference between tortoises and turtles.