Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics

There is nothing better than a good adventure story, except when there is a GREAT adventure story created through the collaboration of an entire 5th grade class AND the proceeds from its sale go to Special Olympics!!!

Prior to their school year being cut short by the Coronavirus, Mrs. Rebecca Harvey‘s 5th grade class read The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood.

Isle of Storms 4

The class was fascinated by the character Punky. In the book, Punky is the uncle of main character Delrita. The story revolves around Delrita’s desire to go unnoticed by society because of the embarrassment she feels over Punky’s behavior, while still loving his childlike ways. Punky has Down Syndrome and the challenges of living with and loving someone who has an intellectual disability are shared in an honest and compelling manner.

The class was so moved by Punky’s story and connections they made to individuals with Down Syndrome that they decided to do something for the Special Olympics. They just weren’t sure what it was yet.

Continue reading “Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics”

The Hardest Kind of Teacher – #WiseWordsWednesday

The Hardest Kind of Teacher

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever heard smoke alarms go off in vacation condos?

If you’ve ever heard a vacation condo smoke alarm, you know it is a very displeasing sound, as alarms should be.

For two years in a row now I have had the displeasure of hearing the exact same vacation condo smoke alarm blaring for all the world to hear. It wouldn’t be so bad except that when the smoke alarm goes off in our condo unit it goes off in all four of the condo units. 

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “What lesson does this experience teach us?”

Well, there are a few simple life lesson reminders ringing in these alarms.

1. If you ring the alarm too many times, people will ignore your cries for help. It goes along with the proverbial, “Don’t cry wolf.” Our alarm went off so many times last summer that all of the men hanging out telling fish stories on the deck totally ignored the blaring beeps because they didn’t think there was a problem, when in fact, there was a pot boiling over inside as I attending to a bike cycle accident booboo outside.

During our most recent vacation, I set the alarm off repeatedly trying to make a breakfast casserole, no one came running to our aid because they believed there was no fire. They were right; there was no fire, but what if there had been?

The experience lesson here is: If you know an alarm is faulty be prepared to not have anyone come to your aid.

2. The alarms in the other condo units are just as touchy as the one in our room. Unfortunately, this does not stop my panic reaction when I hear the smoke alarm sound. I am always ready to jump up and rescue whomever is in danger. This is stressful because I haven’t had to rescue anyone but went through the adrenaline and fear of needing to save someone with each and every siren sound.

This life lesson is very similar to #1: If you know someone else has a faulty alarm, be weary of always rushing to their aid. It may not always be a fire you can put out or even need to attempt to squelch. It may just be another hot mess looking for someone to rescue them from their insecurities or poor choices.

Let the lessons of touchy fire alarms and emotional appeals allow us to make positive choices as we determine how we use our energy. Don’t go pushing that panic button if panic isn’t needed and you don’t have to suit up and charge in every time someone signals for help. Make the most of your intents and use your energy in real emergencies.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Always know where the emergency exits are. Just in case…

 

Quarantine: What Teachers Are Expecting from Parents

COVID Parent Expectations

As our nation faces another week of stay-at-home orders, mandated and self-quarantines, and growing fears for time lost from work or school, I recently had someone ask me, “What do you, as an educator, think about trying to keep school going at home?”

Well, I can’t speak for ALL educators, but here is what I know and believe.

First of all, we miss the kids. We miss the classroom. We miss being able to teach, interact, hug, listen to, and learn from our students.

The greatest hope we have for our students is that they are safe, secure, and still learning on some level.

While most parents don’t have degrees in classroom management or educational psychology, the majority understand what it means to be a kid. Maintaining awareness for their innocence and young minds needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts as we interact with them.

With regards to lesson plans, please just do your best. Try to provide opportunities for kids to make connections between what they normally would be learning in school and what they are getting at home. While there aren’t SmartBoards, extensive libraries, and gymnasiums in our homes, there are still plenty of ways to encourage our kids to keep learning. Some families don’t have computers or internet access. There are still ways to engage children in reading, math, science, and physical activity. Parents, allow yourselves to learn news ways to communicate positively with your children and let them know that change is hard, but we can make it easier together.

To those who say, “It’s not my job to teach. I’m not making my kids do homework,” teachers view all children as their own. When you refuse to put effort into helping your own child learn, you are refusing to help everyone. Please don’t take that from them or us. We all deserve to have knowledge and understanding as this pandemic impacts our lives. You are that child’s parent, and, therefore, you are their first teacher. Join us in the work we do to ensure bright futures open to continued growth and knowledge.

Finally, please remember teachers are people too. We have fears, anxiety, and questions that can’t be answered. We are doing our best to share as much information and as many opportunities as possible with your kids, while caring for/teaching/raising/coping with our own families. Please don’t let our efforts be something that is also lost during this time of crisis.

Again, I can’t speak for all teacher, but this is what I believe most would say. Be safe. Stay healthy. Read, write, experiment, exercise, love, and learn.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Parents, it’s okay to put yourself in detention if you need a time out, but don’t punish your kid if new Math is confusing. Teachers had to learn it too.

P.P.S. Parents, it’s also okay to give yourself an apple or a chocolate bar when you’ve done a good job of helping get through those workbook pages.

P.P.P.S. Teacher friends, thank you for stretching yourselves and adapting to these crazy conditions. You’ve all earned A’s in my book.

Letters Already Included – Wise Words Wednesday

20200204_131523.jpg

Greeting cards are one of the best parts of birthdays, anniversaries, saying thank you, or just to brighten someone’s day. At my son’s 7th birthday party, I gained a new appreciation for the messages inside greeting cards.

A few of the boys made cards to go with their gifts. These were particularly sweet and showed some serious artistic promise. Others purchased greeting cards they thought the birthday boy would enjoy. (His loves for the color yellow, Legos, outer space, and dinosaurs were well represented.)

The magical epiphany of greeting card messages came as the huddle of wiggling wish givers waited for my son to sound out the words inside a store-bought card. One of my son’s buddies (who had made his own card) exclaimed, “It came with all those letters already inside!” 

Wow! 

That 7 year-old boy realized something as simple as a card already containing an expression of friendship was something to celebrate. The fact there was an option to give a card with the message right there inside was something to be proud of, to feel excited about, and to make a gift extra fancy.

Here is your Intentergy challenge for today. You are just like that card. You already have the letters inside you. Dedicate your intent and energy to putting the message out there for others. Be proud of your accomplishments and of your friends and family. Share excitement for great things happening around you. Fancy things up a bit with some flattering, faith-filled, or funny messages. You were sent here with all those letters already inside you. It’s okay if you don’t sound like a Hallmark commercial. The simplest sentiments and discoveries (like a card with the letters already inside) are better anyway.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Special shout out to my friend Angela for being the mom who sacrificed herself as a warrior in the Nerf gun war. Angela took one for the mom team allowing the Nerf war teams to be even. I salute you!

 

The “Eternal Punchline”

Eternal Punchline

We all have had times when we felt like everyone was laughing at us (and not in a good way). It feels terrible. It alienates us. It is not what anyone deserves.

Jose and his smile definitely brighten the day.

In one of my Oral Communications classes, my student Jose shared a powerful statement based on the personal strength he discovered in himself after years of feeling like the “eternal punchline.”

Jose is Mexican-American, hard-working, and a super talented speaker. He is not a traditional student in that he is not “fresh” out of high school, but he is most definitely a refreshing addition to his program and to all those he encounters.

The Oral Communications course is designed to bring awareness to interpersonal differences and strengthen communication skills. With most of the chapters in our text, I ask students to write a personal reflection on the content or how it applies to their own experiences. Chapter 6 is on unfair judgement and bias. I asked my students to share their thoughts on a time when they experienced bias in their own personal lives and how it has affected the way they communicate with or view others.

Jose’s response was so honest and so powerful, I had to read it a few times to wrap my head around his pragmatic approach to the unfair way others (even his closest friends) have spoken to or of him. Continue reading “The “Eternal Punchline””

Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Sue Gelven

Sue and me

Dear Sue,

Thank you so much for accepting my lunch invitation. Meeting with you was wonderful!

Before we had our lunch date, the only times I had met you were at random school and community events and with each encounter I have admired you more and more.

In listening to you talk about your family, it is obvious you are passionate about those in your brood (both blood relation and those by happenstance). Your willingness to share the memories of your husband Don and the experiences you had together is so wonderfully appreciated. I cannot imagine the lengths you went through to keep your family moving (literally across the country) and growing. I am in awe of the steps you took to become an educator. If you hadn’t been so diligent, there are thousands of students, parents, and fellow educators who would not have benefited from your awesomeness (myself included).

I was particularly inspired by your storytelling ability. The art of telling a story is one that is not lost on me and I could have listened to your stories for hours. (We MUST have another lunch date!) It was in the stories you shared about the strength and resilience of women in your life that you showed great exuberance. When asked if you had ever considered writing a book, your answer about wishing you could document the life of Emma Busch was so cool to me. There are so many stories that never get told because they are simply forgotten.

I expected your answer to the book writing question to be that you would first consider writing on teaching or faith but that you had such a specific and vivid subject in mind, makes me REALLY want to read her story (as told by you, of course).  The world would definitely benefit from the stories you have to share. Continue reading “Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Sue Gelven”

Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Dr. Deeken

wp-1550336426671.jpg

Dear Dr. Deeken,

I am so glad you accepted my invitation and am even happier that we made that lunch date happen!

I would like to apologize for taking so long to write this letter. Life just has a way of getting away from me. Before we met, I promised to limit my questions to 10. I hope I was able to keep that promise. There were just so many things I wanted to discuss.

When we sat down and I had a chance to tell you that my friends were all jealous of our lunch date, you said that you hoped, “We were not underwhelmed” by your responses. (Clearly you did not see how starstruck I was to be dining with THE Dr. Deeken.) 

As always you listened, shared, taught, and inspired me.

One of the questions I asked was “What was your favorite advice for parents?”

Your sweet and smart responses of “Enjoy each and every stage of childhood, (speaking from personal experience),” “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, and “Don’t let kids dictate; You’re the parent. You’re not the friend” were true to the doctrines of appointments heard by thousands of parents and still need to be shared daily.

The fact that you have 10 children of your own is still one that awes me. The fact that you carried a panel of about 2000 patients floored me. When asked how you managed, you gave tremendous credit to your husband and said something that too many of us feel in the healthcare and educational professions, “I short-changed my family. You can’t get time back.” In learning that you often took your charts home to finish each night, after making your hospital rounds and full days of check-ups and medical emergencies, it’s no wonder you felt spread too thin. I think it’s fair to say that you did a marvelous job of tackling some tough stuff. Continue reading “Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Dr. Deeken”

I Can Explain… – Wise Words Wednesday

I can explain it

“I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”

The hardest part of communication is when the sender expresses the message to best of his or her ability but the receiver cannot wrap their brain around what is being shared.

As a part of each week’s lessons, I include an article or example for my students to evaluate. They are then to respond to a prompt about the excerpt. In a recent journal assignment, I shared an article about research writing and the fact that your words should be the star of the paper and the sources are your supporting characters. I was very surprised to read the response of one student in particular.

Their response said that they had not understood their thoughts and words were to be the star. The student only thought they were supposed to use the words of others as they developed their paper.

Even though our first SIX weeks had been about what interested the students and what their potential thesis and counterarguments would be, that particular student failed to understand that it is the author’s words, thoughts, and opinions that make a paper relevant.

I started to reply to the journal entry with an apology for not being clear on the intent behind their research, but then I asked myself,

“Can I make them understand with an apology?”

Continue reading “I Can Explain… – Wise Words Wednesday”

Sue Gelven, will you have lunch with me? – Sincerely, Intentergy

Dear Sue,

15 years ago I began teaching at Linn High School, and so frequently was my teaching style compared to yours, that I was scared to tell others what I was doing in the classroom for fear of failing the very high expectations set by your example.

Sue Gelven 1

Sue just hanging out in Egypt.

As time has gone by, I have had the honor of not only getting to meet you but to teach some of your grandchildren and to enjoy the stories of your travels via your fabulous Facebook posts. I have watched you bounce back from the loss of your amazing husband and become a Renaissance woman with your hunting and handy-woman skills. (You use a chain saw!)

 

Sue, I would love to have a lunch with you because I believe you have some seriously powerful messages to share.

What is it that inspires you to choose the destinations of your trips? What do you remember or miss most from teaching? What lesson did you hope ALL of your students would learn from your classes? What do you hope to teach those you encounter today? Where do you get the ammunition for all the rodents you exterminate? What is your next handy-woman project?Have you written a book? Are you going to write a book? Coffee or tea?

These are just a few of the things I would love to speak about with you. My goal with Intentergy is to bring positive purpose to the day, and I know you will be a wonderful resource for me to tap into and charge some ideas for inspiration and ingenuity.

So, it is with extreme trepidation and excitement that I ask, Sue Gelven, will you please have lunch with me?

Sincerely,

Melanie A. Peters

Sue Gelven 3

Lara and Sue

P.S. Sue’s beautiful daughter (and my friend) Lara graciously let me use her photos for this post. Thank you, Lara!

 

 

Intentergy is 3! Happy Blogiversary!

blogiversary

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Intentergy!!!

How is it that three years of posts are in the past?

When I started Intentergy, I had lots of ideas. Many of those ideas I have put into action. Some I have totally tossed aside. Others are still in the works. And too many to count have made their way into my creative cogs.

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented, liked, shared, and replied to any of my work. Your support means a great deal to me.

Please continue to read and write in response to Intentergy posts. I always want to grow and become a better source for my site. Without your feedback, I cannot do either to my fullest potential.

Intentergy is energy with positive purpose. Sharing my ideas, stories, challenges, and experiences has been one of the most rewarding purposes in my adult life. I will continue to put my version of Intentergy out into the universe and I hope you all will do the same.

Below are a few of my favorite posts from the past. Please enjoy this scroll down memory lane.

Helium (2)Thank you, World Wide Web!

29 Gifts

Require Sunscreen

Positive Pants

Overalls and a Pocket WatchGrandpa Frank

Emergency Room Enlightenment

Are There Toys in Heaven?

Don’t Knock Jokes

Alleluia After Lent

Helium

The Power of Yet

Inking God’s Plan

What has been your favorite Intentergy post?

Happy anniversary to all of you who have followed since the beginning! Thanks for having an open heart and mind and a willingness to share in the positive energy. You are blessings in my life.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. If anyone would like to send an anniversary gift, I love comments, feedback, and shares of posts or chocolate. Chocolate is always good.