"We are living a public life on a global stage, the ones who can express themselves best, will be heard." -Laura Hill, Author The Great Story World Mix-Up, co-creator #whatisschool

Read the books I write with my children.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#whatisschool December 1, 2016 6pm EST
What is Good Character?



CharacterCounts.org defines the pillars of good student character as Trustworthiness; Respect; Responsibility; Fairness; Caring; and Citizenship, going on to say that each of the six character traits helps create a positive learning environment for students and a “culture of kindness” making schools a safe environment for students to learn.

While this is true, students do not always come to class with these traits instilled and it falls to the teacher to integrate them into lessons, which is not always an easy task.  So how do we teach good character?


Author and Educator John Holt
John Holt, one of the leading US educational and social critics, was the author of ten influential books that were translated into fourteen languages before his death in the mid 1980s.  In his book, How Children Fail, Holt questions the meaning of good character and it's interpretation by educators saying,

Teachers and schools tend to mistake good behavior for good character. What they prize is docility, suggestibility; the child who will do what he is told; or even better, the child who will do what is wanted without even having to be told. They value most in children what children least value in themselves. Small wonder that their effort to build character is such a failure; they don’t know it when they see it.
Tonight, Laura Hill @candylandcaper and Craig Kemp @mrkempnz invite you to join #whatisschool as we explore the true meaning of  Good Character and strategies to integrate it into lesson plans that are both meaningful and effective to educators already burdened with large class loads, new technology and standardized testing.

#Whatisschool Questions December 1, 2016

1.  How do you define good character?
2.  To what standards of good character do you hold your students, your colleagues?
3.  How can you teach good character?
4. What teaching strategies can you use to integrate “good” character into curriculum areas?
5. What role does technology play in character education?
6. Share your successes, resources and links.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

How I lost 30 lbs in 13 weeks

How I lost 30 lbs in 13 weeks
by Laura Hill

The "before" picture was taken last summer in NYC, I weighed 180 lbs.
The "after picture I took today at 151lbs, I have 20 more to go!

I am posting this for a friend who wants to shed pounds and live a healthier life.  Please share!

This past summer I decided to get in shape.  It wasn't for any specific occasion except that I had put on weight after having children and I wasn't feeling like myself anymore.  When I was pregnant I had gotten  up to a whopping 180lbs and though I had initially lost the weight I found myself creeping back up.

I have been on diets before and they all work for a short time.  The problem always seemed that the diets never really echoed how I eat in real life, which is moderate to good all day with my difficult periods at night where I find myself exhausted, overreached or stressed out from my day and now sitting down with a bag of chips or a candy bar.  

The other reason I was gaining weight was for the last three or four years I'd been writing almost exclusively, which can be a very sedentary job as you could imagine.  I would spend 6 hours a day at the keyboard then spend the evenings driving my children to dance, helping with homework, but never really taking the time to take care of myself.  It's no wonder that I gained so much weight!

So this summer, after a rough 6 months of surgeries for skin cancer I decided to lose 50 lbs, I was determined!

The first thing I did was cruise the Internet looking for diet ideas and I stumbled upon this one simple concept that became the basis for my entire plan:

To lose one pound of fat you have to burn 3500 calories.

This might not seem earth shattering to you but to me it was because knowing that 3500 calories =1 lb of fat meant that I could create a diet formula that would burn the amount of pounds I desired each week.

So let's stop for a moment and think about what fat really is.  Everybody is born with an unchanging body shape.  When we take in more calories than we burn it is stored as fat.  The fat is stored in cells that stretch to make room for more fat so when we lose weight we are really just decreasing the fat content of each cell.

When we gain weight we don't burn the calories, or energy we take in so foods that turn to sugar quickly like breads, sweet vegetables, fruits and snacks are huge players in gaining weight.  Even if I snacked on fruit all day since I was sitting at my keyboard not burning any sugar off I was still gaining weight!  The sugar also led to the growth of harmful yeast in my intestines causing bloat, heartburn and indigestion.

So this is what I did.  

Using the formula 3500 calories= 1 pound I determined what I would need to eat and what I would need to burn to lose several pounds each week.


I eat something like this every morning for breakfast, today it's a
two egg omelet with sauteed mushrooms and kale, took 10 minutes to make.


My diet
For me eating lean meats like chicken and fish, egg whites and nuts was an easy choice.  What was important was that they were MY choice, foods I like.  In the template at the end of this post you can put in the foods you like and the calories associated with them.  Mine looked something like this:

My Lean Protein List 
17 cal one egg white
35 cal 1oz chicken
35 cal 1/2 can tuna
20 cal 1oz (1/16 c) crab
40 cal 1 oz (2-3) shrimp 
27 cal 1 oz lobster 
1(1/2 lb) lobster=4 oz meat
70 cal 1oz (1/8c)ground chuck beef
40 cal per 7 almonds 

Then I added to my list what I call "no-cal" vegetables-the kind with no sugar or starch, again choosing food I liked and knew I could eat for a while.

My "No-Cal" Veggie List 
Green or string beans
Asparagus
Mushrooms
Kale
Lettuce
Spinach
Brussel sprouts 
Broccoli

Lastly, since I knew I'd be cutting out most sugar, carbs and processed foods I chose a few snacks to add to my list that would be very satisfying and allow me to eat a lot.  

My snack list
150 cal per 21 mini pretzels 
150 cal per 2 cups popcorn
Coffee with milk and 1tsp sugar

This is what worked for me, the list you make will include foods that you like.

I have to note that this is the point at which many people asking me how I lost the weight immediately say I could never do that.  And of course they never can because they've already decided they don't want to put in the effort a change like this will take. Remember, you are choosing foods that fit your lifestyle, you are in control that's why it will work, you can do this.


About 10 weeks into the diet I needed a new belt, this had been the only one that fit.
My daughter suggested putting in new holes instead so I could track my progress


My exercise program
So now that I had my food list in check I needed to decide how I would burn calories.  This was kind of a no-brainer as I was already hiking in the woods everyday, that took care of aerobics and leg toning.  I had taken up drumming again which is a great way to get a total body workout especially for the arms and core. Finally, since I love doing crunches I added that to the list to shape my gut, which was my biggest problem spot.  

Now, if you know me you know I blew my knees out mountain biking and can really overdo the gym. I usually last 3 months before I get injured.  My exercise list had to echo activities I could do consistently without injury-your list should fit your lifestyle too.  

After I had my list I attached the calories I could burn for each activity. This is what it looks like.

Sit-ups 450=150 calories 
Hiking 45 min=400 calories plus 150 cals residual burn
Drumming 60 minutes=250 calories

The Laura Hill Weight Loss Program

Now it's time to put this all together.  Your goal is to burn off more calories than you take in.  The more negative calorie intake you can achieve safely, the quicker you will lose the weight.  

Here is my chart from a typical day.  I've provided one for you below to fill in with your own foods and activities.

Tuesday 10/18
Calories in:
35 calories 2 Egg white omelete with mushrooms 
35 calories 1oz grilled BBQ chicken with steamed green beans 
35 calories 1oz grilled BBQ chicken with steamed asparagus
450 calories 60 mini Pretzels 
50 calories 1oz Tilapia with steamed green beans and kale 
90 calories 2 rice cakes 
150 calories 12 Doritos 
Calories in: 845

Calories out
Sit-ups 900=300 calories
Hiking 90 min=800 calories + 300 calories residual 
Drum 45 min=175 calories
Total calories out: 1575
Less total calories in:<845>
Total calories left: <-730>

As long as my total calories left was a negative number I lost weight. I did that for 13 weeks straight!  I also allowed myself condiments in moderation so the food tasted good, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper all made these very low calorie meals scrumptious.  There was purpose in this too.  I knew I was creating new eating habits, some of which I would continue after the initial weight loss in order to maintain my new weight.  I call this eating for life and is a part most diet plans leave out. 

 You need to develop new cravings to make good food choices after you diet.


This is the woods where I hike.  I like it because of the rolling hills,
deer and flowers.  I don't feel like I'm exercising, just enjoying life!


Eating for life 

Now, with the holidays upon us, cold weather and school started up again I'm finding I need to modify my diet.  I still spend the day on a very low intake of lean meats and veggies but have added in some carbs and sweets.  I've maintained my weight at 150 for three weeks!  

Now my goal is to lose the last twenty pounds by the end of March. 130 is an easy weight for me to maintain plus it gives me a 5-10 pound buffer I can stay within, indulging and then working the weight off again.  At that weight I can eat normally without much worry of ever going back up to 180 pounds. 

Remember, you can do this!  Your diet is a temporary state in which you are eating foods you like that are healthy and increasing exercise that you enjoy that targets your problem spots.

What you are getting rid of is a lot of over processed snacks, sugar and carbs that were dragging you down and an eating routine that was probably more habitual than need based.

It's easy to think of a million excuses why this won't work for you.  But it can! If your diet is vegetarian look to supplement proteins and burn sugar calories when ingested before they turn to fat.  If inhibited by physical ailments focus on the food you are eating and make a change.  Try to stick to foods you will want to eat post diet.  If protein shakes and frozen diet meals are your norm great, but if not they aren't a reliable diet base.  And always consult your physician before embarking on any diet or exercise regime. 

The point here is you are in control.  Make a plan that works for you and stick to it.  You will be thrilled with the results, I know I am!  

And let me know how you make out.  Together we are stronger and can turn our dreams into reality.

Post a comment here or tweet me @candylandcaper
No question is not worth asking and I'm happy to share what I've learned.

Laura


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Join Us For A Thanksgiving Slow Chat November 24

Let's Give Thanks

Join @candylandcaper and @mrkempnz as #whatisschool gives thanks in a slow chat all Thanksgiving day Thursday, November 24.



Thanks is defined by the Mirriam Webster Dictionary
as a good feeling that you have towards someone who has helped you, or given something to you.  And at this time of year when our thoughts and reflections turn towards forgiveness, thankfulness and hope those grateful feelings and thoughts of gratitude can spill out and fill us with a desire to express ourselves.  

One of my favorite expressions of gratitude came from a seven year old girl named Amy who, inspired by Roald Dahl's book BFG, sent a special note of thanks to the author along with the gift of a bottle of colored water, oil and glitter.  Dahl knew exactly what it was and sent this note in reply.

Dear Amy,

I must write a special letter and thank you for the dream in the bottle.  You are the first person in the world who has sent me one of these and it intrigued me very much.  I also liked the dream.  Tonight I shall go down to the village and blow it through the bedroom window of some sleeping child and see if it works.

With love from,
Roald Dahl

Can you image her surprise and his at this tiny gesture of giving thanks that brought so much delight to both a small child and great man.  


Giving thanks is often overlooked but even a small gesture can increase your well being and that of those around you.  Here are some reasons to show you are grateful.

1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.  

2. Gratitude improves physical health.

3. Gratitude improves psychological health. 

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. 

5. Grateful people sleep better.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.

7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

Personally, I prescribe to the theory that teaches you should say thank you with every step you take. Often as I walk in the woods or the shore by my home, places where I reflect and often dictate manuscripts as I go, I find myself saying this to the rhythm of my steps: 

thank you, 
thank you, 
thank you.

My stress melts away. I turn off the voice in my head and become mindful of the world around me as I give thanks for being part of it.

To celebrate all we have to be thankful for and all those who have given us a hand, a smile and inspiration or more me @candylandcaper and @mrkempnz will be slow chatting #whatisschool all day Thursday, November 24, as we spend Thanksgiving with our families. Please join us and retweet to all your followers.  Let's give thanks in a big way by adding as many voices as possible.  Especially now, during times when many people face great uncertainty, persecution, war and are filled with doubt, let's show the world the power and positivity we have by giving thanks in a collective voice.

 #WhatIsSchool wants to say Thanks to you! 

Craig and I are so grateful to you for making #whatisschool an amazing place to learn so for Thanksgiving we want to know what you are grateful for!  Join us on November 24 as we slow chat all day.  Spread the word out to as many people as possible, let’s send a global message of hope and gratitude! 

Here are the questions, answer all or any anytime tomorrow!

1.  What are you most grateful for?
2. If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
3. What’s your favorite way to say thank you?
4. Who are you grateful for, who has touched your life and made it better?
5. How can we give thanks all year round all year?
6. Shout out a big THANK YOU to all the people who make your life great!


Remember to use the hostage #whatisschool in your response

Click to download and tweet the image below to your PLN


Let's make some noise


Happy Thanksgiving,
Laura & Craig

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Teach Like A Rock Star

Teach Like A Rock Star
Using pop-culture to teach your students.
by Laura Hill

Last night I brought my daughters, 11 and 13, to see a post hard-core band playing on Long Island.  We saw four bands in all who played for a total of four and a half hours.  Everyone you could imagine was there in the tightly packed but intimate, super-artsy venue that seats 1500.  Huge steel gears and pipe left over from industrial days spun in a dazzling array of colored lights.  Loft seating and stadium chairs overlooked the floor.  A mosh pit opened up, then a girl with blue hair surfed the crowd followed by a dozen others who were lifted up and thrown to the stage by strangers in an ultimate game of "trust fall."  When they reached the stage they were put down in the run by one of the half dozen bouncers on hand to keep things safe.  Kids of all different races, colors and nationalities some sporting colored hair, piercings and tattoos, others satisfied with a simple concert T-shirt mixed, some like my daughter were as young as 11.  After each band played the lead singer held a meet and greet to sign autographs and take photos with a few lucky fans.  And when the show was over we all surged into the street.

So good, you might be thinking to yourself, glad you had a crazy night of family bonding.  But as an educator what does this mean to me?  Well, here's a thought.

Music, Rock 'n' Roll, pop culture, for your generation and the one you are educating, is a vehicle that enables people to find their voice.  Poets like Bob Dylan sang songs that spoke to the changing ideals of a generation.  And you can probably remember times when you were at odds with your parents and peers about your association with Rock, Punk, Grunge, Hardcore, Hip Hop or any other style of music.  What attracted you most likely was the excitement of the musicians but underlying that is something more fundamental, a provocative mindfulness that pushes us to look beyond ourselves, to see the world in a new perspective.  

And, in a world where we all are desperately trying to define our identity online and in person, this is really huge.

At the show, despite the diversity of the audience, there was no fighting, there was no heckling, there was no injury and every band who played sent out a message of using your personal voice to create peaceful solutions to world problems.  The band fronts encourage the audience to get involved in their communities, to have faith, to believe in themselves and to make a change for the better.   The lead singer of Sleeping With Sirens, Kellin Quinn, went so far as to say you're the voice of the generation. Sound familiar?

Today, educators often find themselves straddling a line between what they know and how to interact with a technology driven youth culture that they don't quite understand.  But the truth of the matter is if you combine pop culture with lessons you're going to get a lot more bang out of your book because your students will be much more enthused about what you're teaching.
Let students lead by starting with simple prompts like designing a great a new instrument and see where it goes.  By the time the group is done collaborating and creating their instrument they will have done research, used math, engineering, art, writing, science and maybe even technology-STEAM in an optimum pumped-up application.  Form a band and record a music sample to take it a step further.  Share with other students around the world or better yet collaborate as part of the process and you're mimicking life skills students will use working together in the real world. These types of opportunities are an outlet for personal expression and collaboration with diverse student groups.  

You are giving your students a chance to expand their minds to collaborate and learn without really noticing that they're being taught.

By helping students learn this way you're also showing students how to work together.  When students go and see musicians or are exposed to other influencers that have a positive, inspirational message of hope, love and ingenuity, they will collaborate together to spread a message of hope, love and ingenuity.

This is really important because students at these ages, typically between 11 and 18, are constantly trying to define themselves and find ways to express their emerging personalities, views and interests. 

We as adults have many ways to express ourselves through the clothes we wear, the cars we drive where we choose to live and the people we choose to associate with.  Students  often don't have that much  flexibility of choice, the financing, or the buy-in of decision makers (aka parents, teachers, coaches...) to express themselves in ways they feel represent the people they are becoming.  

If you give students a learning experience that is linked to their popular culture and embeds a message of hope, love and ingenuity your students in turn will have a positive impact on popular culture and become people who can use their voice along with technology to reach millions of others around the world. Look at the opportunities created by YouTube alone.

Immersing students in collaborative experiences using pop culture will take time and effort on your part.

However it will teach them to be stronger people.  By interacting with others and exploring their cultures students will learn tolerance, to overcome adversity, to reject haters and the divisive and often destructive nature of negative messaging. 

As the world gets smaller more often we are being asked to except people who are very different than ourselves, who have different cultures, desires and motives.  If we are going to nurture students who are proactive communicators, lovers of learning, lovers of culture we need to give them a sense that it's OK to explore diverse cultures and to learn to collaborate with others who are very, very different from themselves.

And here's the real uptick- children who can't find their "tribe" in traditional school channels of sports or academics can find acceptance and success in cultural arts, something that has been cut out of many school programs but that is vitally important to creative, out of the box thinking.  It's something I've been fighting for for years and you should too.

Every child should have the opportunity to grow their talents with like minded students.  Last night at the show I saw American youth acting more mature and more like citizens of the world than I  many adults I've seen this past week.

So teachers, educators and concerned people in the world why not take a chance on the youth of today?  Help to make their voice be heard.  Help them bring their culture to life through positive collaborations that will allow them to grow the future in new and exciting ways.

You may have to go out of your comfort zone but you'll be giving voice to a generation that will shape the future and who knows, you may decide that some of the elements of pop culture are right for you too.   

Why not take a chance, what have you got to lose?

I know that going to see the show with my daughters last night was about much more than just music. It was about helping them find like-minded people that are creating a culture of inclusion and freedom of expression, of tolerance, creativity and fun.

Now it's up to you to decide how to let your students use pop culture to learn in your classroom.  How about trying a creative bottle flipping contest in which students explore the world around them creating videotapes of places where they can find the perfect bottle balance?  What about a project in which students create outfits out of recycled materials? 

Teaching children to be resourceful and to use pop culture to express themselves is a gift you can give.  Pop culture usually doesn't grow from plenty but from need and innovation.  It is the voice of the people, so let your students be heard.

-Laura


Friday, November 11, 2016

Creating Student Voice, Let Yourself Be Heard!



Yesterday, a student came to school upset.  He was questioning the election, struggling to come to terms with wars fought by Veterans, with protests and athletes who did not pledge allegiance to their country.  After some conversation it became clear that he was really trying to define why he should be proud to be an American.  This is what I told him.

We as Americans are not the sum of our leaders, our President or policy-makers, we are the guiding voice behind the leader.  And real change does not come from tears and protest but from action.  So today you need to find the truths, perhaps brought forth by candidates in our recent election, heroes, Veterans and role models, and meld those good ideals into your own personal mantra.  This is mine:

I am not pro candidate,
I am pro student, youth and all who seek knowledge.  
I am pro working families. 
I am pro education. 
I am pro freedom. 
I am pro equality. 
I am pro the values of love and kindness, 
And the freedom to choose how I will use them. 

I am pro America and pro all peaceful countries of the world, and I am proud to be an American regardless of what anyone says.  Today, I stand with my fellow Americans, side by side, a nation of all races, colors and ideas. Today, I will work to make this country the best place it can be for myself my family my neighbor, even my enemy.  And if I see something I don't like, I won't walk by but will change it peacefully.

We are the voice of the nation, the voice of future generations. We are the voice of yesterday, tomorrow and today! If we listen to each other we can build the brightest future, one we can be proud to say we had a hand making.

We are Americans. 
We do not cry. 
We dust ourselves off.
We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and we get busy.

All of our parents came here to start a new life, whether they came by ship, by plane or walked the Bering Straight.  It is our job to make sure that life is inclusive of all people, an idea that is fundamental and written on the heart of every American yet challenged at every turn. 
Ignite your passion let it burn! Build a country you that you can be proud of!

Today, put aside your arguments and stand up for your rights. Decide how you will make a difference then unite, and go after that change with a passion and integrity that is unparalleled!

I'd like to note at this time that the student I was working with is of color and at risk.  Not that it should matter but it seems that today more than ever before students need to understand that they can use their words and ideas to effect change and make a better life for themselves and others in their country regardless of their race, sex or any other unique qualities they possess.  I've helped this child and proudly watched him change from a person who used his fists to a young man who has found passion for activism reading about Rosa Parks, MLK and Harriet Tubman, who has seen dreams launch with Amelia Earhart and P.T. Barnum, who has fought in the Alamo.  By empowering our students with a lust for history and showing them the successes and failures of others we can teach them to see trends in the world, we can show them there is value in acting-not just getting upset and raging, that they can band together to create real change.

Students today have more opportunity to be heard than ever before.  

It is our duty as teachers, parents and people of all nations to let the voice of our youth be the "shot" heard 'round the world.  After all, it is their world to inherit and at this tipping point of globalization, war and ecological change they have a right to speak and be heard.  Be the teacher that facilities the change, you can do it!  And who knows, the student you are teaching may in turn change the world for the better for all of us.

God bless you all 
God bless America
Remember our Veterans today.


-Laura

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Join the conversation on Thursday 3 November at 7pm EDT (Thursday 12am BST, Friday 10am AEDT, 12pm NZT, 7am Singapore) as we discuss What Is School? #whatisschool



Questions #whatisschool, November 3, 2016 7PM EDT

1) How have you used radio or broadcasting within your school?
2) What are some of the benefits that you see to improving pupil’s learning through broadcasting?
3) Please share a project/lesson where the use of broadcasting impacted classroom practice.
4) How can we use broadcasting as a medium for engaging the community and even the world?
5) In what ways do you think school radio might enhance pupil wellbeing and self-esteem?
6) Please share some resources or websites that you have used to enhance your broadcasting experience.

TO RECEIVE AUTO ALERTS FOLLOW BY EMAIL