Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Learning to Slow Down Lessons

I saw this image on Twitter recently, shared by @teachergoals. 
It's good that teachers are held accountable for the learning that takes place in the classroom and that's the point of standardized testing and curriculum, but in our day to day efforts to push forward, are we pushing beyond the speed of the student. 

It would be nice to end a unit at different points so that students that can move forward can and those that need more time can spend more time on it, but that's not realistic. Classrooms already have a 1-36 ratio in my state. 

I think this problem gets worse as the student moves up into high school. Advanced Placement courses have to teach all the content before the test which usually early May. This means less of the school year to actually teach the content. How is this fair to the students?

Some schools have blended classrooms with technology that allows them to tailor lessons to the particular speed and needs of the student. However, what do all the other schools do?

I love this image because it makes me reflect on my lessons and on teaching on a greater scale. We all have both hares and turtles in our classrooms. It doesn't mean that the hares are better. Sometimes they rush through the work and forget punctuation or key elements in their work. We also have hares that work at a slower pace, but with enough time and encouragement they can get to the finish line. 

Image credit:

If you have technology available to you, use it to help both the fast and the slow learners. Provide more than one opportunity for success. 

New Running Shoes: Brooks Glycerin 15

During the Teal Race last weekend my son won one of the raffle prizes, a $50 gift certificate to Running Revolution in Campbell. I decided to buy his gift certificate from him and use it as an excuse to get new running shoes. Hey, new running gear motivates me. Don't judge me. At this point, anything that keeps me moving is good.

I visited the store. It was a very small store in a strip mall. The people working there were very friendly. I told the employee I had a gift certificate and he made some suggestions on how I could spend it so that I would spend less out of pocket, but I already knew I wanted shoes, nothing else. 

I saw that they had one of those foot pressure machines and asked if I could try it out. Of course, they said yes. I hopped on and in a few seconds, it had my results on the screen. Sometimes CVS or Walgreens will have this type of machine, but this is the first time I was standing there with a person that could interpret what the results meant. 

The red in the image is where I put the post pressure on my feet. I also asked about my foot arch. I know that flat shoes are extremely painful for long periods of time, however, I wasn't sure if I was a medium or a high arch. The store associate said I was a medium arch and told me how it would look on the screen if I was a high arch. Based on these results we went over to the running shoe wall and he selected some shoes that he thought would meet my foot needs. 

He narrowed it down to two pairs that he thought would work. One was the Brooks Ghost 9 and the Brooks Glycerin 15. They didn't have the Ghost in my size, so I tried the Glycerin 15. First, I tried half a size up like a normally do for sneakers and they were way too small. Weird... The employee went to the back room and came back with a half sizer higher than that and they felt great! There was a lot of cushion and support. So, I bought them. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fitness Watch Review: Fitbit Blaze

I've been wearing my Fitbit Blaze for a couple of weeks now. I hesitated to buy a Fitbit, because I'm not a big fan of wearing a watch. However, more and more runners are using an activity watch, so I decided to give it a try. Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, Plum, Silver, Large (US Version)
I'm actually enjoying having it. The Fitbit Blaze keeps track of my heart rate, which I hadn't monitored before. The stats include a breakdown of at what heart rate time is in what zone: peak, cardio, and fat burn. 

It keeps track of how many steps you have taken in a day and the calories you've burned. Once you set your daily goals, it will motivate you to be more active so that you can meet your goals. It also has a little fireworks celebration once you meet your daily goal. 

I was considering getting an Apple watch instead, but after comparing the prices and features, I decided to go with the Fitbit Blaze. 

I get text alerts on my phone and notices of incoming calls. This is handy when I'm driving. My car does have handsfree answering, but it doesn't have caller ID. I can quickly look at my wrist and see who's calling and press the answer button on my steering wheel. 

I was using a separate app on my phone to keep track of my weekly workouts, but the Fitbit comes with its own app that syncs with the watch. I do have to press the exercise and then the run option to tell the watch that I'm going to start running. That's a little bit of a pain because sometimes I forget to do it and then it doesn't track my workout correctly. 

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. It was the right choice for my fitness needs at an affordable price. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Teal's Real Race 2017 a Success

Teal's Real Race was a success! It was my first year participating, but it was their 3rd year of doing it. 

As you may know, I lost my mom this year to Ovarian Cancer. Prepping for this race caused me a lot of anxiety. On the one hand, I was excited to be a part of the festivities, dress in teal, and help support the cause. On the other hand, I miss my mom greatly and I wish I could tell her all about it, but I couldn't. 

It was an emotional experience for me, but I'm glad I was there and I look forward to doing it again next year. 

The day started out with registrations and some breakfast snacks. Followed by speakers and a dance performance. One of the speakers was an 8 year Ovarian Cancer Survivor, Marianne. She encouraged others to be active and do whatever sport you enjoyed the most. She danced in the performance and it was truly moving. 

Next, was the 5K race. Not everyone at the race was able to run or walk, but they were there at the finish line to cheer us on. There were medals handed out to the top 3 men and women. The fastest man finished the race in 16:51. Kids also received medals for participating. There were many dogs doing the race with their families, and of course, they were wearing teal bandannas. 

At the conclusion of the race, there was a raffle. There several prizes including gift certificates for acupuncture, massages, dinner, and athletic gear. 

The charity has not yet met it's goal and has extended the time that we can take donations on the website. If you can, please consider donating. Here's the link

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Star Wars 3D Printing Projects

A friend invited me to visit the Tech Shop in San Jose. She had a membership and I was wanting to play with 3D printing. 

It's a makers paradise. They have many different types of machines you can use. They offer a variety of classes for both kids and adults. There are other Tech Shop locations across the U.S.  

You have to take a safety class before you can operate a particular machine. There's everything from woodworking, vacuum sealing, molding, laser cutters, large printers, etc. Your imagination is the limit. 

We brought our designs on a flash drive and it turns out the 3D printer reads SD cards only. The front desk had a card reader we could borrow. We had reserved a 4-hour window in advance to work on the printer. 

Using one of the computers available, we opened the STL file using a program called Cura. We then transferred it over to the SD card for the printer to read. There's a help desk at the Tech Shop. At one point we were stuck on how to set-up the printer and one of the guys there were very friendly and happy to help us out. 

We used the raw material from the Tech Shop since we didn't have our own. They weighed the roll before and after to determine how much we needed to pay at the end. 

We started by trying to print Jabba the Hut. Here's the link to the free downloadable file. Cura told us that it was going to take 7.5 hours to print the design with its original dimensions. We didn't have that amount of time, so we played with the dimensions and shrunk it to where it only took 7 minutes to print. 

The problem was that the design was so small that it lost a lot of the detail in the head and arms.

When you make anything, there's always trial and error. 

We moved on to trying to print Star Wars Rebel Cookie Cutters. Here's the link to the design. We did verify that we were using food grade material for the cookie cutters. 

There were two different cookie cutter designs for the same Rebel symbol. I haven't figured out why, but we printed them both out. 

Each cookie cutter took about 33 minutes to print. If you have longer projects that will take more than your allotted time to print, you can ask for the machine to be reserved. 

We increased the filament setting on the cookie cutter on the left and the design came out better. 

Now I'll need to put these cookie cutters to the test and make a batch of cookies. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Run 9/12/17 2.7 Miles

The temperatures here in Northern California have been unusually high, in the 100's. We live close to the water, so it's normally cooler here, but even with that, it's been pretty miserable. We usually run in the afternoon. Today we had to make an exception because of our schedules and run at noon. 

We passed this nice group of bikers out on their lunch workout.

There's only 60 days until the Thor 10K runDisney race. I'm still far from where I would like to be. We've running every day with one break day in the week. 

Progress is slow, but I have run for longer than I could a few months ago. I'm still slow, but I'm focusing on slow and steady, not fast. I'm still using the Couch to 10K app as my training program. 

I've been doing little things like wearing a Disney shirt to motivate me and remind me to keep the eye on the prize. I bought this particular shirt at Tee Digi. Here's the link.

What do you do to stay motivated for your next race?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Learning to Code with Star Wars

October 3, 2017, is the release date of the Star Wars Coding Projects book in both Kindle and print. Available for pre-order now.

 Click link here to purchase.

This book uses Scratch to teach kids ages 8-12, grade level 3-7 how to code by creating their own characters, driving a spaceship through an asteroid belt or an adventure. Teaches essential coding skills. 

Projects are shareable and competitive as you can challenge kids to beat your top score. Steps for coding are easy to follow, numbered, and well illustrated. 

This book is bound to encourage kids to learn how to code by using the characters they know and love. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Zuchinni Noodles (Zunoodles) Asian Inspired Recipe

  • Zucchini Noodles
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Minced Ginger
  • Olive Oil

1. Spiralize a few zucchinis using a spiralizer. 
You can also buy a package of zucchinis already spiralized at Whole Foods, but if you are going to continually spiralize vegetables, it's better to buy a spiralizer. Link to one here
2. Pour approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Once warm, add the zucchini noodles.
3. Toss noodles until they are soft.
4. Add some minced ginger to taste. Continue to toss the noodles so that the flavor integrates evenly.
5. Add a little of both soy sauce and teriyaki sauce to the pan. 
6. Continue to toss until fully cooked. 

If your kids hate the taste of vegetables, this is a great way to hide the flavor. 

Serve the zucchini noodles by themselves or with a side of salmon or chicken. 

Introduction to Simple Machines for Kids

Teaching students to build simple machines is an important part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math (STEAM) curriculum and the maker classroom. K'Nex provides students with the building blocks to let their imaginations soar. 

This kit includes an educational guide for teachers to get lesson ideas for their classes. Students investigate wheels, axles, and inclined planes. 

This set allows kids to work as a team, fostering collaboration among students. While this set provides instructions for 7 projects, the possibilities are only limited by the child's imagination. Encourage their own adaptation of the project or help them to use their project to connect with real world applications. 

Here's the link to the digital lesson plan that goes with this K'Nex kit. Click here for more details. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Disney Pixar Coco Film Focuses on Hispanic Traditions

Disney has an amazing ability to take traditional folkloric stories of various places around the world and transforming them into a family fun movie. 

When I was in Italy, I learned that Pinnochio was based on an Italian folkloric character. Visit Rome and you will not only find Holy Water and Rosaries as souvenirs, but also small wooden Pinnochio's. 

When I went to Ireland, I visited the Leprechaun Museum in Dublin, Ireland, yes, there's such a thing, and they told us that the story of leprechauns was told to children there for ages. I also remember the narrator saying that the leprechauns in their folkloric stories wore brown, not green clothes. 

This time Disney does it again with the upcoming film Coco. As a Spanish Teacher and fellow Hispanic, I can see so much culture integrated into the film that it's amazing. Finally, a film that explains Day of the Dead is not a scary day, but as something culturally beautiful and almost magic. 

Here's the trailer for the Disney/Pixar film Coco. 

In theaters, November 22, 2017. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Free STEAM Lessons for Teachers & Students

Instructables provides free premium memberships for teachers and their students. It's a website that offers a variety of STEAM related classes that you can take at your own pace. Each lesson has a downloadable pdf file. There are contest and competitions for the makers to get excited about creating new projects. 

Lessons for students in grades K-12.

Topics include
Math, Art, Science, Electronics, Engineering, Arduino, Robotics, 3D Printing, & Workshop. 

You can use the Instructables website to learn something new, teach students a new project, compete with other makers, get inspired, and much more. 

Ideal for the regular classroom teacher that is interested in these topics and wants to create something of their own, the Robotics Teacher, Wood Shop Teacher, STEAM classes, and School Maker Workshops. 

To sign-up for a free teacher premium account, click here. If you're wanting to explore the website before signing up, click here

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Avengers Half Spider-Girl Running Costume

runDisney Avengers Half Marathon Weekend is coming up and I'm dressing up as, yep, you guessed it, Spider-Girl. 

I love how the new Marvel super heroes include a female version of all the traditional super heroes. With the exception of Wonder Woman, girls didn't have many options when it came to female super heroes, but now they do, which is awesome. 

Here's the link to my runDisney story, in case you missed it. 

Visor- Made by me. Here's the link to the blog post of how I made it. 

Tank top- Bought on Etsy from iGlowRunning.

Skirt- Bought on Etsy from PrettyPumpkin

Monday, August 28, 2017

How to Teach Grammar and Writing to Students of Today

Grammarly offers Chrome users a free extension in the Chrome web store. Click here to download it. 

As the name suggests, it helps improve your grammar, but also your punctuation and word choice. 

How is this different than spell check, you ask? Well, it seems to do a better job at catching writing errors. It's built into your Chrome browser, if you use the extension, and then anywhere where you need a correction Grammarly will help you. It's almost like it's always looking over your shoulder making sure you don't make any mistakes.

Grammarly sends you a weekly email with your performance with this tool. This notification is called Grammarly Insights. At the end of the email, Grammarly gives you your top two mistakes. So, it's not just fixing mistakes, it's working with you to teach you how to improve your writing. 

You can unsubscribe from Grammarly Insights email and still use the tool.

Grammarly offers achievement digital badges that will motivate users to continue using the tool and write correctly. 

Teacher and student use
Teaching grammar just became much easier and practical. With Common Core Standards, writing is no longer just limited to Language Arts, all teachers should be incorporating writing opportunities in their classes. 

Some suggestions:
  • Have students install the free Chrome extension. 
  • Have students use Grammarly Insights email as a reflective tool. What were some common errors they made this week? How can they improve those errors in the future?
  • Have students keep track and share their digital badges on their digital portfolios. Great way to show parents and loved ones all digital school achievements and progress. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Free Socks. Just Pay Shipping.

Feat Socks is offering a free pair of socks, valued up to $12. All you have to do is pay the $4.89 shipping. While supplies last. 

1. Click this link to order. 
2. Copy the coupon code: thankshomies
3. Select the claim your socks now button on the bottom of the page.
4. Search for your free socks. 

Hint: If you want to look for socks valued at $12 or under, select All Socks on the top of the search bar and then Singles.  

Walk, Run, Jog and Donate Free Money to Charity With App

The Charity Miles App allows you to exercise and earn money for your charity of choice. It's available for iOS and Android. It's easy to use. You log in. Then, you pick a charity. Next, you pick what you will be doing, whether walking inside, outside, riding your bike, etc. 

It doesn't have to be a separate workout in order to count it on Charity Miles. You can turn on the app when you walk your dog, for example, and have that earn money for your charity.  

Schools, churches, clubs that are always looking for ways to help the community can use Charity Miles to help earn money for several good causes. It doesn't cost anything. The app is free. When you sign-in, the app will tell you who the sponsor will be. It's usually a company that is funding the exercise. Here's an example of one of my tweets. My run was sponsored by All Whites Eggs. 
At the end of your walk, run, bike, the app will allow you to share the info online on social media. I suggest doing this so that the company sponsoring your walk is acknowledged and it also creates more awareness for the cause and the app. 

Here's the link to the app. If you workout with other apps, no worries, you can have multiple apps running at the same time. Charity Miles is now my 3rd app running on my phone when I work out. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Run 8/19/17 2.9 Miles

I was able to improve my pace for this run. Woohoo!

 I wore my limited edition Bambi tank top. It was a special offer that if you bought the movie on Blu-Ray, you could order it online with Disney Movie Rewards. I had posted about it earlier. Click here to view the post.

We did part of the Guadalupe Trail. The trail extends much further. Maybe next time we can try to go further. 

I used the MapMyRun app. I ran as much as I could, then slowed down and walked until I could catch my breath, and then start over again. 

It was hot out. We didn't carry water on the run. We instead had it in the car waiting for us when we came back. 

Another workout in the bag. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Running Photos Featured on Instagram

I'm pretty happy that two of my running photos got featured this week on Instagram. I'm a new runner and my times are a joke when you compare them to the expert runners. However, I try not to let that discourage me, I'm having fun with it and I'm working on being healthy, so I'm proud of myself for pushing myself to get out there and exercise. 

A post shared by RunnerClick (@runnerclick) on

Friday, August 18, 2017

Journey to Solar Eclipse 2017

The Solar Eclipse 2017 is a big event for many Americans. There are many people are traveling this weekend so they can witness it first-hand.

Jim left on yesterday, Thursday to Madras, Oregon, which is in the path of totality. As he sends me information, I will update this post.

Madras has a population of 6,200 and is expecting 100,000 visitors this weekend. The total eclipse will last 2 minutes. Solar eclipses crossing the US from coast to coast: 1918, 2017, 2045, and 2099.

These are my eclipse glasses. Made by Jim with welding glass #14 darkness. We used them last time there was an eclipse.

Jim was first in line waiting for the campground to open.

Here's an early shot as the first campers come into the campground and set-up their tents.

A neighboring camper forgot to pack the rods for his tent. Oops!

These campgrounds don't have showers available to the guests. In order to shower, you have to take a shuttle to the other side of town and use the showers at the Aquatic Center, and then take another shuttle back. Jim discovered a local gym was offering a weekend pass for showers and it was only a 10-minute walk from camp.

One hour wait for the black line shuttle in Madras.

Campsite view on Saturday morning. It's starting to get packed in.

Sunday morning. Beautiful hot air balloons are flying over the campsite.

What do you do when you're waiting for the eclipse? You go to Solarfest.
Q & A with NASA at SolarFest. The current speaker is Daniel Ryan from NASA.

Daniel shared that the moon and the sun appear to be the same size because the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, but it is 400 times closer.

SolarFest attire.

This is the line to enter to see the NASA exhibit.

Of course, what natural phenomenon is not complete without lip gloss and a hat. 

The stores in Madras have run out of $1 and $5 bills and are now issuing gold $1 coins. 

Some people fear that there will be a gas shortage, so they are stocking up just in case.