Please imagine Carol Burnett saying that…

I’ve avoided stopping by my own blog due to blog shame. I haven’t posted in months…going on almost a year. I am not sure what my role in teacher blog land is – and if I am really cut out (hah, sewing pun intended) to devote the time and effort required to do a blog justice. So, avoiding logging on has kept the guilt at bay.

The real blog people are dedicated, clever, creative, and apparently don’t require much sleep. That’s not moi.

So, there it is. I don’t know what the next step is, but I’m going to hang on to this site for now – I do love the name! In the meantime, you can find out what is happening in the FCS Lane on twitter @lifenthefcslane – follow me!

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Standards Based Grading and My Light Bulb Moment

A question often asked during an interview for a teaching position usually includes something along the lines of “what do you enjoy most about teaching?”  For me the answer has been when I see my kids having a light bulb moment – when something I’m trying to help them learn and understand suddenly clicks and they get it. It’s those little snippets during the day that make it real, reinforce (for me, at least) that I did something right, and I do make a difference.

light bulb moment

Today I was going to share some of the baby steps I’ve taken toward embracing technology and social media as a day-to-day part of my classroom – but I had a light bulb moment of my own! If you’re a teacher, and Standards Based Grading gives you the willies or just doesn’t make sense, keep reading and click on the links ahead. I promise you, it will be OK.

change ahead

In order to expand my horizons and keep up with up-to-the-minute ideas in education, I seek out information online through blogs, list serves, and online publications. While searching for information about Interactive Student Notebooks earlier this month, I came across Sarah’s Blog – Everybody is a Genius. She won my heart with the bulletin board post  showing the SBG process and today I became a disciple as she explained how mastery of a concept works with SBG.

Source:  Everybody is a Genius on Blogger

I was struggling with how to help my students who have a hard time learning all of the “math” in the measuring unit we do prior to the food preparation labs in our Foods classes. While many kids “get” fractions and are able to demonstrate understanding of how to use them in recipes (for doubling/halving the yield or using equivalents) many of them look like a deer in headlights when they see fractions. In the past, I would allow them to re-test until they passed. But passing didn’t always indicate understanding or mastery and as they progressed through higher level foods courses, the understanding was there just for the test in Foods 1. This year I don’t want them to leave my class without KNOWING these basic concepts. With Standards Based Grading this is an expectation and in a “win-win” method; however long it takes, I want them all to be able to demonstrate that they know this and can use these skills when working with recipes. It is going to take some creative differentiation on my part, but I have some ideas that I think may work, I’ll keep you posted.

fractions visual

I did have some fun with my Foods 1 students last week…to help them understand the value a well-written recipe, teamwork, and efficiency in the kitchens, I gave them a rather poorly written recipe for Gobbly Gooks – basically the “no bake” chocolate, peanut butter (one group used Wow Butter – turned out great!), oatmeal confections. The problem was that the recipe does not use any standard measurements – just blobs, scoops, dit dots, dribbles, and the like. It was a fun experience for all of them and everybody’s end result was edible. Maybe not a state fair competition winner, but edible. Here is a short clip of one group trying to determine just how much is in a scoop of brown sugar and 4 dribbles of milk.

Have a great rest of the weekend – keep cool – we are pushing 100 here in St. Louis!

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What a Week!

Busses Ready to GO!

Last week was the first week of school for us – lots of tired folks on Friday afternoon – but what a great tired. I have to say I believe this was the BEST first week I can remember! It’s wonderful when everything falls in place, and if it doesn’t, no one knows and it works out anyway. I tried several new things with my students – a new folder system, my YouTube channel, a flipped classroom lesson (that will be tested on Monday), and Interactive Student Notebooks. Whew.

tired teacher

 My goal this year (part of our new Teacher Evaluation Instrument for this year) is to be intentional in my use of technology for my students. They LOVE their phones – but I’m setting and maintaining some important guidelines for them in my classes this year. Following our district BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy was a challenge last year – it’s so easy to just let them have them out when their work is finished. I’ve had conversations with teachers who decided to “not fight that battle,” and I get that. But…it’s not the phones themselves – I figured out what bothered me is the lack of acknowledging there were other HUMANS around them who deserved their attention.


So – as I explained my classroom policies/expectations I let them know that their phones were not to be out unless I specifically decided they were useful for that lesson. I shared the problem I have with their phones – and that I consider it rude when they have them out when I am teaching and ignoring the people who were physically THERE in the room was rude as well. So, on the basis of human interaction and “presence,” phones are not welcome.

no cell phones

Of course – there was a freshman (anyone surprised??? I have all 4 levels in my Foods 1 classes) had his out – and he sits 5 feet from my desk – I reminded him about the consequences and asked him to put it away. My plan to increase student interaction by reducing phones worked. For the next 10 minutes or so he was engaged in a conversation – with 4 upper class girls! Tell me, isn’t that better than an inanimate text with someone, especially for a freshman boy?

freshman boyOn the other hand – I DID promise to provide them with opportunities to use them as an extension of what I was teaching. So….drumroll please.. enter my YouTube Channel! Anyone can create a YouTube Channel – where you create or save videos you find on YouTube to share with others. Educators can create one for their students to access and watch video clips at home or as a part of a lesson in the classroom. Our district blocks YouTube via the building wireless – but if a teacher creates a channel and it goes through the YouTube education filter, it is accessible. So – my proud Techno-Teacher moment (I graduated back in the chalk/blackboard/lucky-to-have-an-overheadprojector-days) happened on Tuesday – here are my kids watching a kitchen safety video on my channel. It’s the little things…

2014-08-12 08.42.52


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Folders, Flipped Classroom, and FACS – Oh, My!

I am really, really, REALLY going to try to keep up with my blog this year. For me, keeping up with this is not unlike my experiences with plans to “eat healthier” and “do exercises for my upper arms”. We all know where THAT well-paved road leads. However, each day is new and each school year provides opportunity to improve and do better than the last (a benefit for those of us in education – we get TWO “New Years” a year).

New Year Fireworks

In my last post, I mentioned how Google Drive and available apps will help me to become better organized, save time, and hopefully enhance what I am doing with my students on a day-to-day basis. In both the classroom AND outside of the friendly confines of MHS (have I mentioned what a great high school I am lucky to be associated with before?).

Banners Compressed

A few wall decorations in our cafeteria…

Last week I attended a workshop learn more about the Flipped Classroom. If you have not heard of a “Flipped Class,” I encourage you to check it out here. To those of you who know me, this idea could go the way of my last 5 attempts to join a gym (my last experience was great – foiled by a strained calf muscle the first day of summer Zumba) or how many times I havebeen determined to count my calories on Monday (the wisdom of my friend, Chris, was that a Tuesday is a much better day to start a diet, I agree!) or, well, fill in the blank with my good intentions. But, I am going to give it a try – I think my students will enjoy having more time to work on their projects and less time doing seat work. I will post lessons on my You Tube Channel here,  if you subscribe, you can keep me accountable!

Flipped Classroom

This class is totally flipped!

Another thought floating around in my head has been a way to encourage my students to assume more responsibility for their own learning. The number of times I have had to replace worksheets or heard “I lost my notes,” and “my mom cleaned out my binder” (I’d like to meet a mom that has time to do that) would equal the stars in the sky. Many of us were not born with the organized gene, me included. How I have yearned to be the one who naturally organized her closet by color/garment type or knew where her birth certificate was at the drop of a hat (I do organize my closet now, but the birth certificate?). Knowing it isn’t natural for most of us, and understanding it is important for my student’s success to be able to find what they need when they need to, I have slowly moved toward providing them with an easy way to “keep it all together,” so to speak.


On sale this week!

Today I found it! Thanks to Denise at FACS Classroom Ideas, I now believe I can easily implement a new level of accountability for my students. I toyed with the idea of doing Foldables, but my perfectionist tendencies would likely get in the way. (I may still try this with my Fashion Construction students…) Please check out Denise’s post from today – and if you see me in the aisles of the local mega-mart, don’t be surprised if I am purchasing LOTS of 2 pocket folders in various colors tomorrow! Heck, they are on sale and 0.15/kid is worth it.

I did it – wrote another post! (Yay for me.) See you next Sunday.

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I am getting excited about the opportunities for this baby boomer in the world of education and technology, Google Drive to be exact.

When I became a teacher, life revolved around the intoxicating smell of a freshly printed purple ditto, chalk dust (perfecting my not slanting upward writing technique … baby boomer teacher friends will relate) and hiding behind a podium (in high heels AND hose, yes, pantyhose!!!)  If I was lucky, an overhead projector was included. When I joined my current district there was even more… how can I describe the thrill of having a white board where I could use ANY color of Expo Marker (purchased on my own…and would have micro-chipped each one if I could, somehow they disappeared frequently), well, I wasn’t sure there was anything better!

Until online grade books. ‘Nuff said.

Here is what is coming our way this fall – sign me up!

It hasn’t been released yet, the reason I think it will work for me is that it is so simple – as bells and whistles (and other tech-y stuff I don’t know the name of) are added, I will be able to infuse it at my pace. Isn’t it cool?

I’m almost able to walk by the neon markers in the back to school aisle now.

As I share with my students at the end of every week…make good choices!



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Here Come a Couple New Ideas for Teaching FACS!

I have been out of town for the last several days at the annual Association for Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) conference. Well, not real far out of town…the conference was in St. Louis this year! I always enjoy my time with other FCS (Family and Consumer Sciences) professionals and come home with a revived passion and pride in what I do as an educator and member of this organization.

For several of us, our day started at 6 a.m. for a 3 mile walk downtown. I live in suburban St. Louis, 30 miles west of the city – so being in charge of leading the walks was a challenge and wonderful way for me to learn more about this historic city. This map was an important tool in preparation:

Walking at AAFCS

The program was full of several workshops and programs, it was frustrating to not be in two places at once. I always come back with lots of new ideas and things I can do to be a better teacher. Ideas for sustainability in the fashions/apparel classroom, using social media in and out of the classroom, standards based grading, common core/literacy in the FACS classroom, and opportunities for my students after high school.

Many school districts are moving (or have already moved) toward the use of Standards Based Grading. I’m not going to try to explain how it works and the impact it has on assessment of students (if you want to learn more, you can check it out here and here), let me just say it is a challenge to rethink how I assess my students. Adlai E. Stevenson High School FCS department teachers to the rescue (I just checked the link this evening, they have not uploaded the PowerPoint from their presentation last week – keep checking!) I am excited to implement lots of their ideas for both my Foods and Fashion Construction courses.


A second idea I can’t wait to try are LiveBinders. LiveBinders are a way to organize and control all of the websites/online videos/pdfs and other resources we use in our classrooms each and every day. Cindy Miller, FCSE, Texas Tech University captivated dozens of FCS teachers during her presentation about this wonderful tool. Here is a link to her Family and Consumer Sciences LiveBinder – check out the plethora of ideas and links!

No rest for the weary – tomorrow I will be spending the day learning more about Google Drive…maybe THIS time it will stick! Or maybe I’ll spend some time doodling…


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How Procrastinating Can Help You Sew More…

Yes, it’s been a while. How many times have I said that in this little blog? Um, let’s leave it at several.


I have struggled with a focus for what I should write about – there are lots of bloggers out there who are VERY good at what they do and seem to make it look effortless – no effort of mine would even begin to compare (perfectionism -> procrastination). I kind of like the “that was then, this is now” thing I had going, but that topic can only last so long, and really, who (other than me) is really interested in what I was doing 40 years ago?

In case you ARE interested, on June 22, 1974 I had recently graduated from high school and attended the wedding where I had been “hired” to make all of the bridesmaids dresses – my first REAL, PAID, sewing job! After that, made a futile attempt at getting tan, which doesn’t happen easily in the Pacific Northwest) and tried to play tennis. I still can’t do 2 of those things very well.}

Something else I over-thought was how cute, young, and creative these bloggers were! How could I, practically a senior citizen with no thigh gap, find a place in blog land? Nothing I had to say could be anywhere as compelling as the stuff they were writing about (hmmm…perfectionism ->procrastination again??)


Merricks Art – this girl is DARLING, talented, skilled and a creative inspiration.

But, I have found some really wonderful women who are close to my generation, who sew, and who probably have no idea how they are motivating me to kindle the passion I had for sewing 40 years ago. When I read those diaries, I realize how much of my clothing I made for myself then. And really want to do again. 

So, while I still follow some of these darling young things, and am inspired by them, I have made an effort to find some “kids my own age” to play with. My current favorites are Talk of the House (she’s a mom, teacher and loves to share her love of homes – hers and others she finds on the web and in “real life”), Goodbye Valentino (a Mood Fabrics Sewing network blogger, inspiring seamstress – I live vicariously through her and her sewing!), Outfit Posts (granted, she is young enough to be my daughter, but I’ve learned to shop my closet and create some wonderful outfits from her), Tea Time With Trina (just found her this week – I think I want to be her friend!), to name a few.

Talk of the House

So the result of my blog-posting procrastination? I really have been sewing a lot more in the last year than I had in years. I will be sharing some of the results of my time with my Pfaff and challenging myself to do more. Two projects I am particularly proud of were making my daughter’s wedding rehearsal dress and my MOB (mother of the bride) dress for her May, 2013 wedding. Here are some pictures…

I refashioned my wedding dress for Kate to wear at her rehearsal.

I refashioned my wedding dress for Kate to wear at her rehearsal.

My mother-of-the-bride dress.

My mother-of-the-bride dress.

{I am struggling with formatting so pictures are side by side…help!!}

So, here I go again – am going to try to keep this updated, share what I’m up to in FACS land and weave in (hah, pun NOT intended…) the projects I take on. There are some things I really do want to do – and just need a push – or two.


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