International Travel w Kids - Communication version (Episode 69)

      Today, we’re gonna talk about international travel with kids and how to stay connected with people back home.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>>
  International Travel w Kids - Communication version (Episode 69) Today, we’re gonna talk about international travel with kids and how to stay connected with people back home.
       If you’re the kind of family who wants to go on vacation overseas to completely disconnect from people while you’re gone, then this conversation might not be for you. Just share it with a friend. But if you’ve got grandparents back home who would love to talk with the kiddos about the fun they’re having while it’s fresh on their minds, then let’s talk about how we tried.
      The Internet. As much as it seems like you can get it everywhere these days, it can still be tough sometimes. Places you’d like to have Internet connection:
  • The place you’re sleeping: hotel, apartment, condo, AirBnB, hostel
  • On transportation: plane, train, subway, bus, boat
  • While eating: restaurant, coffee shop, pub
  • While planning: cafes, government buildings, tourist spots
  • Out in the country, around the city
      These are the places you’re going to want to use the Internet connection to possibly chat on video with family. The hotel is usually the most solid wifi signal, so you’ll need to plan for the time difference back home and see when you need to be at the hotel.
      For phone calls, you have a bunch of options.
      When you’re on wifi, you can call FREE via WhatsApp, but those people have to also be on WhatsApp … if you’re both on it, though, it’s awesome.
      You can call via Skype if you pay to put money on your account.
 International Travel w Kids - Communication version (Episode 69) Today, we’re gonna talk about international travel with kids and how to stay connected with people back home.      You can purchase an international phone and SIM card. We bought ours from a vending machine, seriously. Phone and SIM card. It took some figuring out and asking a local how to do it, but we got it working. This is great for calling local locations in the area you are traveling. Ours also came with 700 international minutes, which we could use from anywhere when we weren’t on wifi. Having the local phone number was helpful to have for a few situations when people needed to call us back. And the beauty of now having the international phone is that I think we can use it anywhere else in the world as long as we buy a SIM card in that country.      Now, let’s get to the secret weapon that makes all this communication even possible. Electricity. This is where it can get tricky. If you’re like us, we’ve never thought about what kinds of power chargers we have. Well, if you want to have the electricity to communicate via phones, laptops, tablets, iPads or anything, you’ll have to figure it out. In the USA, the standard voltage of a power charger or power strip is 120V. In Europe and lots of the world, it’s 240V. So you have to check each of your adapters and see if they can handle up to at least 240V. It’s always super small print on the adapter, but it’s there. On this last trip, the one thing we didn’t was a power strip, and as soon as we plugged it in, it exploded inside, smelled bad, and tripped the apartment breaker box.      Next thing you need to figure out is what the plug adapter code is for the region of the world you’re going. The USA is region A&B. The United Kingdom is region G. So for every electronic device you want to charge, you need an adapter so it can plug in.
      So to recap, you need the proper voltage range and the right region adapter.
      And they look like this … I got this complete set on Amazon, and the work great for all regions of the world. They even plug into each other if you ever need just the right combo. We also got this pretty slick power strip we’re excited to try next time (since I blew up our last one). It has the right voltage for worldwide, multiple plugs and USB charging ports.
 International Travel w Kids - Communication version (Episode 69) Today, we’re gonna talk about international travel with kids and how to stay connected with people back home.      The last way we tried communicating to back home is through postcards. The girls wrote and drew their own postcards, put their own stamps on them, learned how to address them, and we mailed out. The postage costs a little more than domestic, but they were worth it.
      So there you have all our ideas for your kids communicating back home while traveling overseas.

>>>>> Watch International Travel w Kids - Safety version (Episode 68)

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Conversation of the Day: If you were traveling overseas with kids, are you the kind of person who would want to connect with people back at home or the kind who would love to disconnect?
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
 International Travel w Kids - Communication version (Episode 69) Today, we’re gonna talk about international travel with kids and how to stay connected with people back home.

International Travel w Kids - Safety version (Episode 68)

      Today, we’re gonna talk about international travel with kids and strategies to calm fears about safety.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>>
 International Travel w Kids - Safety version (Episode 68)
       We recently went on an international trip with all three of our girls. We were outnumbered. We really value travel: experiencing different cultures and seeing how big the world is compared to just the space and culture that we live in. We have it in our budget so we contribute a little each month to our fund so we are able.
      We started to notice that even though we had saved up $, we were apprehensive to be outnumbered in a different country but we sucked it up and went for it. Many people said we were brave and weren’t willing to try it. We are so glad we did.
      We thought we’d share some of the different things we learned while traveling overseas with children. We wouldn’t say we are experts on this. We’re just sharing what we think we’ve learned so far, so we would love to hear tips and tricks that you can share for when we venture out again.
      So today’s topic, keeping things safe while traveling.
 International Travel w Kids - Safety version (Episode 68)
      I remember watching a movie about people on vacation and there was a tsunami that separated them. It got me thinking that if I couldn’t talk and my ID wasn’t near me, how would people know who I am? I bought this durable personalized bracelet from and I wear it always, even when I’m not traveling. I had one when I was a kid and this is close to the same kind. I got one for each of my kids too. I’m often asked if they are medical ID bracelets and when I say, “No, they are to prevent Jane Doedom,” that seems weird to people. Jane Doe is the name often used for an unidentified woman. Anyway our bracelets say our name, date of birth, emergency contact number, and mine says “USA Citizen.” It’s 4 lines of personalized info.
      During our trip we realized that phone numbers on the girls’ bracelets were our U.S. cell numbers that can’t reach us while we are overseas, unless you get a special plan with international connection (which, please teach us if you know an affordable way with your provider). Because of this we just used an ink pen to write our international phone number on each girl’s arm. It wears off, so you’ll need to refresh it every couple days.
      Boy are we glad we remembered our first aid kit … even if we did forget to check the expiration dates on things. That was a rude awakening ripping open a disinfectant wipe to clean a scraped knee and finding that it was completely dried out. A shin-scrape on an escalator, 4-5 double-knee scrapes, fingers slammed in a door, a cut eyelid from a fall out of bed, and some bug bites. So one of our first trips to the pharmacy was to buy more disinfectant wipes, antibiotic cream, and bandages, so it worked awesome. Compact and portable and oh-so-necessary.
      And then … what’d we do with our wallets and money? We have these handy money belts that go under our shirts. We carry passports, money, credit/ATM cards, and everything in them. We keep our passports in ZipLoc bags because, if you’re like us, you’ll get a tad bit sweaty and don’t want to ruin your travel docs. We put each of our credit/ATM cards in one of these security sleeves so no one can walk by us with a card reader and steal our info. And the last bit we do … and this is humorous and most likely overkill … is we carry a fake wallet, so if someone asks for our money, we can take that out, throw it a ways away, and hightail it out of there while they go after the wallet. And inside it are a bunch of fake credit cards, some old money from other countries that isn’t worth trying to convert into dollars, and a little note that says it’s not nice to steal. Ha!
      Then there’s being safe with your information while using wifi networks around the city you’re traveling in. You might want to check bank amounts or credit card limits, and you want to do it as safely as possible. The safest places are likely at the public government buildings like The National Gallery and maybe any big chain hotel. But if you’re trying to log in at local restaurants or pubs,
  1. be wary of phishing networks that have it open for you to log in then will steal your info, 
  2. ask the establishment what their wifi is, then 
  3. probably only do internet searches and things that don’t require passwords.
      These are the big things we considered and planned for. We’d love to hear what you know.
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>>>>> Watch International Travel w Kids - Communication version (Episode 69)

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Conversation of the Day: (1) What areas do you think we might have something wrong?
(2) What areas do you have ideas to add?
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
 International Travel w Kids - Safety version (Episode 68)

When Teachers SHOULD NOT Grade Student Grammar in Essays (Episode 67)

      Today, we’re having a conversation about all those grammar errors in student essays and how to save hours of time and our sanity while grading them.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>>
 When Teachers SHOULD NOT Grade Student Grammar in Essays (Episode 67)
       It’s soooooooo difficult. We know the feeling. We’ve got the stack of essays in front of us and an enormous mug of coffee (or some other beverage of sanity). And we’re grading, grading, grading … not at home, of course, because we drew that permanent line in the sand back in Episode 3.
      And this feeling overcomes us … we can’t even help ourselves … there is a huge disturbance in the force and it’s the grammar errors in this essay. And this one. And this one. Okay, almost all of them.
      And we feel like we need to fix them all. And we have good reasons that we think we need to fix them:

  • The learners need to know how to use correct grammar in life or they’ll get mocked on TV or social media or won’t get hired.
  • Some learners have even told us they actually want to know the errors they made.
  • If we leave a grammar error uncorrected, it means we think it’s okay for them to use incorrect grammar.
  • If we leave a grammar error uncorrected, another teacher or parent or admin might see it and think we’re incompetent.
  • We need to prove to our students (and parents!) the reason they earned the grade they did, and if we don’t mark up a whole bunch, they’ll think they deserve a higher grade.
  • They won’t know what to fix if we don’t tell them.

      And these reasons and any others in your mind might all be true, to some extent. But they can all be overcome, and none of them are reasons to grade grammar in every essay you grade.

So let’s talk about when we SHOULD grade the grammar and when we SHOULDN’T.

      To do that, we need to separate the steps of the process and actually see each step as separate. Ideating is not outlining is not drafting is not editing is not publishing. And there’s only one step in the process that we the teachers should care about their grammar (maybe).
      Because worrying about grammar KILLS THE IDEA PROCESS for many people. Ideating and editing MUST BE KEPT DIFFERENT. All those marks on their paper just tells them that their ideas suck and kills the creative energy. It kills their desire to play, to explore, to idea adventure. It makes them afraid to get their ideas down on paper because their ideas might be wrong … even though we know wrong grammar doesn’t mean wrong ideas, they don’t feel that when they see all the marks.
      And that’s because the ideas and the grammar ARE DIFFERENT parts of the process. All the first stages of the process are about helping them get their ideas onto paper and into better and better flow, better logic, better persuasion … all that. And if we have them thinking about their spelling and commas and all that crap, then we kill them.
      But wait, wait, even back in 2nd grade my learners were being tested on their grammar. On the test they have to do all the stages in one sitting and they only have one shot.
      You’re exactly right. That is the one stage of the process when the grammar absolutely matters and needs to be correct … when they publish. And testing is one of those times. The publishing stage is last. And we have to scaffold them to that level. That’s one of the bummers of testing is that very few places in real life do we have such a rushed and pressurized writing process. It doesn’t equip them for a real life scenario, but it does equip them for the real life process.
      So what you’re saying is in all the time when you’re training them through how to ideate, outline, and draft, you’re not worrying about grammar and spelling. They can still get it right when they can, but we’re not going to WORRY about it in those stages because those stages are about the ideas.
      Yes, then once we’ve got the thing written and our ideas revised, then we can polish things up and make them pretty. That’s when we take the thing to publish. But that’s also where the in-house state testing process messes things up and stops modeling real life.
      Okay, so let’s go deeper on the idea of polishing. When we were talking the other day in the car, you went pretty deep on that process.
      Yeah, it’s a process I’m passionate about because I’ve learned it the hard way while writing and editing my four unpublished novels. We often combine the revising and editing stages into one stage, and they need to be kept separate whenever possible. And I think it’s focusing on and fixing the spelling and grammar that combines the stages. I call that polishing things up. Polishing is when we’re making things pretty so we can publish.
      But the revising stage isn’t there yet. Is that what you’re saying?
      Revising is just that a re-vision. We have to be able to look at the ideas and the structure and flow and validity and persuasiveness of the ideas in order to see what to keep, what to tweak, what the sledgehammer, and what to trash completely.
      And that’s where spelling and grammar makes it hard to edit. When we focus on fixing all those little grammar parts in the revising stage, we’re polishing our sentences up and it makes it really hard to then tweak, sledgehammer, or trash them.
      Because we’ve made them all pretty. And I could see how it could make you frustrated too because all that grammar and spelling editing would end up a waste of time if you later deleted the sentences, paragraphs, or complete pages.
      Exactly. It feels like a waste of time. But even worse, I think, is that it distracts your idea flow with a completely different mental process … editing. Ideating and editing are completely different. Right brain vs. left brain. It’s hard enough to use our brains, so let’s keep ourselves in one hemisphere.
      I love that … because we’re teaching them how to think … literally … How they can maximize their thinking energies and flow into one side of the brain at a time.
      Yes. I think it’s vitally important.
      Then after they’ve finished the whole process and are getting ready to publish, that’s when you could focus on all the grammar or maybe just focus on the most recent grammar you taught: “On this essay, you’ll be graded on your comma usage with compound sentences. Make sure you use 10 commas with coordinating conjunctions … or something like that.”
      I like the sound of the process. Feels super clear.
Conversation of the Day: What grammar or spelling error do you compulsively feel you have to correct?
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
 When Teachers SHOULD NOT Grade Student Grammar in Essays (Episode 67)

Faith and Beliefs in the Classroom: Students’ Rights Edition (Episode 66)

      Today, we’re gonna start sailing out into some tricky waters with a video series of conversations about Beliefs in the classroom. Today’s focus: What are students allowed to do? 
       Watch the YouTube video here >>>
 Faith and Beliefs in the Classroom: Students’ Rights Edition (Episode 66)
       Everyone has their own kind of belief system about the world. This includes religion, faith, politics, philosophy, ecology, etc. And there are a lot of feelings out there around this topic … Faith and Beliefs in the public school classroom.

  • Maybe we’re confused about the laws and aren’t sure where to start.
  • Maybe we want to dive in, but we’re afraid of doing it wrong and losing our jobs. 
  • Maybe we’re angry at teachers who try. 
  • Maybe we’ve kind of ignored the rules because we feel like we should be able to talk about anything we want. 
  • Maybe we just want to make sure all students have the right to be represented and want to know how.

       We thought it’d be good to start with what the law says and get that cleared up. Parents, students, teachers, and admin all have their own rights and regulations around this but they all echo the same basic principles. Whichever of these groups you’re from (Parents … what can your child do? Students … what can you do? Or Teachers … what can your students do?), we just want to add more clarity for you around what is allowed and what isn’t.
       We’ve tried to make sure we’re accurately outlining these, but please make sure you also look these up too. We’re in this with you and are always learning ourselves.
       So for today, let’s zoom in on students’ rights regarding faith at school.

       The 1st Amendment of the Constitution has the first solid word on this:
       “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
       This means that schools can’t make anyone practice a certain religion but also can’t prohibit the free exercise of it. Schools also cannot abridge the free speech of students.
       But if students were allowed to do or say ANYTHING related to religion, then school could get a little crazy. Which brings us to the 2nd general rule:
       If a school allows any student or group to exercise a right, it must allow all students or groups to exercise that right.
       The last general guideline is that schools can infringe on a right if it is seriously preventing school from functioning smoothly and they must infringe on them all the same.

       So let’s dive into some details.

  • Students can wear religious clothing and jewelry as long as it doesn’t “interfere with the operation of the school” or isn’t lewd or obscene.
  • Students can pray on their own or in self-gathered groups as long as they don’t disrupt school activities.
  • Students can talk about their faith in their schoolwork, projects, artwork, as long as it accomplishes the assignment in quality ways.
  • Students can invite friends to their faith-based events as long as they are respectful of other students’ space and don’t disrupt school activities. 

       This is where the 1st Amendment is joined up with the Equal Access Act. It says that:
       “(a) public secondary schools that receive federal funds (b) “[cannot] deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against” (c) “any students who wish to conduct a meeting” (d) within that “limited open forum” (e) “on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.”

  • Students can distribute printed religious material as long as they don’t significantly disrupt school activities.
  • Students can post flyers or announcements in public spaces where anyone else is allowed to post non-religious content.
  • Students can start any kind of club they want to and invite any outside speakers they want. 
  • Students can mention their faith and religious scriptures in special speeches or ceremonies like awards or graduation.
  • Students can mention their faith and ask faith questions during classroom discussions and while studying novels and stories, history, science, or anything they see their faith as relevant to the learning community and isn’t disruptive.

       Phewee! That was a lot. But we wanted to make sure we brought up a bunch of the different situations to help us better understand the nuances.
       So ... POP QUIZ TIME?

QUESTION: Who can have a club at school?
ANSWER: Anyone. That means Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, atheist … anything. That also means Communist, Democratic, Republican, KKK, environmental, LGBTQ, or anything else similar.
       As well as, of course, chess, cheer, The Walking Dead and disaster prep, robotics, etc.

QUESTION: What if the students can’t find a teacher who will supervise their group when they meet?
ANSWER: Then they can’t meet. Each group has to have a staff chaperon who will supervise the meeting for safety. We’ll get into how much they can get involved in the meeting during our Teachers’ Rights video. But if students can’t find a teacher, they can’t meet.

       So that means that’s the one tricky, fudgy, gray area about whether students get to exercise this right. Because the school can’t make a teacher host a meeting during their non-teaching time. So if the KKK club can’t find a teacher willing to host their group, they can’t meet. And it seems the teachers can have plausible deniability about why they can’t volunteer to supervise a group.
       Yeah, I remember at my public middle school, there was a group of students who came and asked me if they could meet for the Bible club in my room during my lunch time once a week. I said yes and basically worked the whole time and my stuff. They’d bring in pizza, different youth group leaders to lead in Bible studies or activities and such. They’d invite each other to each other’s churches and activities and work together for community-wide service events. And all I the teacher had to do was be there to supervise. But I could have said “No.”
       So there you go. That’s it for Round one exploring the rights of students and how they can live out their various belief systems. Stay tuned for more videos about Teachers Rights and maybe a couple more.
Conversation of the Day: What questions do you have about students’ rights to practice their faith at their public school?
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
 Faith and Beliefs in the Classroom: Students’ Rights Edition (Episode 66)

The First Person Teachers Should Help Each Day (Episode 65)

      Today, we’re gonna talk about the first person teachers should help each day.
       Watch the YouTube video here >>>
 The First Person Teachers Should Help Each Day (Episode 65)
       If you’ve flown on an airplane before, you likely remember the presentation the flight attendants give showing you what to do if there is an emergency. Seatbelts, flotation devices, all that. And the breathing masks. Do you remember what they say about putting on the mask?
“Remember to put your own mask on first before trying to help anyone else.”
        I love that. It’s so simple and clear … put our own masks on first. It’s so easy to forget that day to day. Especially for us teachers. We teachers are super giving people. We’re sacrificial. Most of us became teachers so we could make a difference in the lives of children and the future adults they’ll become. We care. The trouble comes when … in our caring so much for others … we sacrifice caring for ourselves.
        And we’ve actually had this topic in our list for a while, so today felt like the perfect day to discuss it because he’s sick. :)
        Yup, two weeks ago, I took an overnight red-eye back home, got sick later that day, and have had some version of something for two weeks now. As I look back, it’s likely because of a combination of choices to not care for myself first.
        So what could this look like … this “caring for ourselves first”?
        In no particular order … Food is crucial. It’s our fuel. If we’re putting bad fuel into our bodies, we won’t run well. We’ll be tired, won’t be able to focus, and all kinds of other things.
        Exercise. So many studies show that exercise gives us physical energy, and stimulates our minds, and helps us sleep better.
        Sleep. Gotta sleep. I love me my sleep. They say 7 hours minimum for adults. I know many of us buck that system a lot and might even believe our bodies and minds are different. We’re not going deep into that here today, but we are going to ask if we’re “putting on our own mask first” by getting enough sleep.
        Mental health. Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” We’ve gotta know ourselves. How is our mind doing? Our emotional state? Our psyche? Are we good? Do we need to talk with an expert about it? There isn’t any shame in doing so, even if it feels like there is.
        Balance. We’ve talked about it all through our series of videos on HOW TO LEAVE ON TIME AND NEVER TAKE PAPERS HOME AGAIN. We’ll say it again … we have to set boundaries and stick to them. We need to zoom out and examine if it feels like a certain part of our lives is taking over the others. Is it? If so, we likely have a balance issue. It’s hard work, but we’ve gotta wrestle things back into alignment. Put our own masks on first.
        If we don’t, how will we expect to pour everything we’ve got into our moments teaching and with our learners? How will we be balanced enough to pour into our teaching colleagues? To respond well to parents? To respect and collaborate with our admin? To handle the daily looming tide of teaching pressures?
        Put our own masks on first. So what does that look like for you today? Where do you need to start? What’s your next step?
Conversation of the Day: What does “putting your own mask on first” mean to you today?
       Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
The First Person Teachers Should Help Each Day (Episode 65)

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