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Monday, March 12, 2018

Get Inspired With Irish Spring Diffuser Blend

Are you ready for Spring?  Even if it’s not here, you can get that Spring fresh scent with March’s diffuser blend: Irish Spring. 

Get Inspired With Irish Spring Diffuser Blend

You can make this blend with:
3 Lime
3 Rosemary
2 Lemon
2 Spearmint

Irish Spring is the perfect blend for March because:
We are all looking forward to Spring.  This is such a clean-smelling blend that it makes me think about those first days of Spring that keep me looking forward to opening up the windows and basking in the sun.

Let's talk about why each of the Ingredients are so effective:

Like most citrus oils, lime has cleansing properties, due to a compound called limonene. It’s great for cleaning surfaces in your cleaning spray and purifying the air in our Diffuser Blend. 

Another amazing multipurpose oil. This oil fights respiratory infections and chronic fatigue, improves memory and focus, and promotes emotional balance.  One of its main constituents is a hydrocarbon called Terpinen-4-ol (pronounced ter-pin-in-4-O-L), which has an antibacterial and antifungal effect similar to what is found in Melaleuca. 

If you’ve watched any of my previous videos, you know that lemon is one of my absolute favorites. It’s a purifier and cleanser, much like lime. I put it in my liquid dish soap and powder detergents. It’s also in my seasonal allergy Diffuser Blend, so stay tuned for that!

I call this “peppermint light”. It’s a really clean and refreshing scent. I believe peppermint would overpower the other oils in this blend, so spearmint is perfect. It promotes focus and uplifts our mood, which is why it’s the last ingredient in this cleansing spring blend. 

Fun facts To compliment the Irish Spring Blend:
Need to get stickers or sticker residue off something?  Just use a few drops of lemon oil!  Massage it onto the residue with your fingers and voila!  No need for goo gone!

Have a great month and I’ll see you next time where I’ll be sharing a blend inspired by allergy season!

Monday, February 26, 2018

How to Reach the “Unreachable” Students

Do you want to increase student participation and assignment/homework completion?  Do you have students who seem impossible to motivate?  Then I have some solutions for you in this post!

How to Reach the “Unreachable” Students

1. Rethink Homework
If homework isn’t getting completed on a regular basis, consider not assigning it. 
  • Make all work achievable in class time. 
  • Have them break up information and present it to each other.  Students can complete a graphic organizer as others present. 

You can also read my homework post based on Myron Dwek’s Grading Smarter Not Harder

How to Reach the “Unreachable” Students

2. Rethink Study Guides
  • First, start with the test in mind. Create study guides from the tests. 
  • To help students keep track of them, print them on colored paper. 
  • Have them quiz each other daily on the study guide, even if it’s just a few minutes at the beginning of class. 

3. Rethink Review and Test Prep
Turn it into a game with this Review Games Packet

How to Reach the “Unreachable” Students

If you have access to technology:
 Webquests, edPuzzle, Kahoot (and more) can all add excitement to a class while reviewing content. 

Offer extra credit for thinking outside the box:
I tell them they can add any information not already on the test related to this subject to the study guide for extra credit.

4. Get Them Moving
I give a specific example of this in my post on 22 Interactive Learning Structures 

How to Reach the “Unreachable” Students

Another post I did was based on Rick Wormeli’s Summarization in Any Subject

You can pick up a FREE copy of the Human Bingo board
How to Reach the “Unreachable” Students

Some other good options for getting students standing and moving:
Learning stations
Gallery walks

What are some other ways you reach those students who struggle?  I always need more ideas!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Increasing Student Participation in Class Discussions

Do you want to increase student participation in class discussions?  How do you keep the conversations on task so it becomes a valuable teaching tool?  If so, my post on class discussions is for you!

Increasing Student Participation in Class Discussions

Step 1: Start With a Non-Academic Subject
You can talk about their favorite sport or food to start.  EVERYONE has background knowledge on things like this.  It eases the anxiety over having to remember what they just learned in class because no one forgets that pizza is their favorite food!

Step 2:  Teach Students How to Talk
So many times, we assume that students know how and when to talk to each other during a discussion.  As a current 7th Grade teacher and a former 4th Grade teacher, I can assure you that is not the case.  Even from subject to subject and teacher to teacher, expectations on how to talk during a discussion can be different.  So we need to explicitly teach our expectations and procedures for talking to each other.

Some ways to teach students how to talk:

Target one skill at a time, per student
Some need to talk LESS, some need to make more specific text-based contributions, some should practice asking clarifying questions, etc.  Help students make goals for themselves and write them down, if need be.

Practice by using very explicit sentence stems
For example, you might want to come up with some sentence-stems that apply to your subject, such as "When you were talking about _____, I was a little confused about _______.  Could you clarify what you meant?"  There are many free examples of sentence stems available for free on the Internet.  Model it with the teacher practicing with student, then have students practice in partners, and finally, practice whole class.

Don't allow students to shrug their shoulders and say, "I don't know".
Instead, have them say, ”I don’t know yet, but I think...” before they respond. This way, everyone knows they’re guessing and there’s no reason to make fun or laugh at their answer. You can also do a lot of lead in to it, and create success with easy questions. For example, “What’s a vocab word we can use to say _______?”, “Who can stretch this idea and add more?”, Or “I’m not sure, but I think...”.  Then they can fill in the gaps.

Teach students to use their resources to supplement their thinking.
It also helps to have very organized notes and binders for them to keep their information together. If a student tries to say, "I don't know",  encourage them to look it up!

Use bingo chips to help students know how much to talk.
In a structured discussion, give students 2 bingo chips each. When they talk, they put one chip in their team basket. Once chips are gone, they are encouraged to help their team mates speak who have chips. Sometimes this looks like them feeding the other student word for word, but all students participate in the discussion.

Do you have any tips and tricks you'd add to the list?  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Improving Teacher Morale With Incentives

Are looking to improve school or teacher morale in your building?  Whether you are a principal or part of a morale-boosting committee, check out this post on what incentives teachers want most!

Improving Teacher Morale With Incentives

Some things to keep in mind before choosing your incentives:

  • Remember:  It isn't the gift/prize, it is the thought that someone cares.
  • Get to know your staff. Some people would rather have tangible prizes, while others would be thrilled with having their class covered for an hour. 

Some general low-cost or no-cost prizes that teachers might like: 

  • Scratch-Off lottery tickets (check to make sure they are allowed in your building first) 
  • Passes to wear jeans on a non-jeans day
  • Someone will bring coffee/their favorite beverage to their classroom
  • Candy delivery
  • Make their copies
  • Recess coverage
  • Offer to help grade a set of papers (1/2 hour of time. )
  • Lunch delivered from a take- out restaurant.
  • Give little “pick-me-ups” through the year at random times. For example, Post-it pad and a pen, or a sheet of stickers and a bookmark...cute little things that are inexpensive but that brighten a teacher's day. 

For administrators:

  • Waive your walk through/observation for the day
  • Get out of school free pass - allowed to leave 10 -15 minutes early one day
  • Let the teacher leave when the students leave one day
  • Late start for the day (cover homeroom)
  • The teacher gets a "free" day to do something fun with their class, maybe board games, outside time, sidewalk chalk art, whatever the teacher thinks will be fun.
  • Offer to cover an hour of class for a teacher so they can have extra planning or a longer lunch.
  • Reserved parking spot (Depends on size of school)

What are some things you'd add to the list?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Cuddle Up With February’s Diffuser Blend

Hello, and welcome to Heather's Hypothesis! I'm Heather Reeve: 7th grade Life Science teacher, mom, wife, and essential oil lover.   Each month, I'll be sharing a different essential oil blend and getting scientific about each of its ingredients. 

With that being said, let's get right to February's  blend: Cuddle Up Concoction. 

Cuddle Up With February’s Diffuser Blend

You can make this blend with:
2 Cedarwood
2 Lavender
2 Ylang Ylang
2 Wild Orange

Cuddle Up Concoction is the perfect blend for February because:
We can always use more reasons to cuddle up.  This particular blend helps us wind down after a long day and helps us connect with our loved ones.

Let's talk about why each of the Ingredients are so effective:

If you don’t have cedarwood, please put it in your cart!  It has an amazing earthy scent that grounds and soothes your nerves.  This is the part of the blend that helps us relax.  This is why it’s often used in massage therapy.  It also increases focus for those of us with AD/HD because it increases concentration, while soothing anxious feelings. Ladies, this is the oil that shuts down the million tabs we have open in our brains. It takes us from feeling alone to feeling connected: Perfect for encouraging cuddling. 

This is another oil that EVERYONE needs.  It can be diffused, taken internally, or used topically to promote relaxation and sleep.  It also helps with soothing skin irritations, such as acne or mild scrapes and burns. 

Its main makeup is linalool, which is a naturally occurring terpene alcohol found in many flowering and spice plants.  It’s what gives many cleaning products and perfumes their smell and interestingly enough, it can also be used as a flea, fruit fly, and cockroach insecticide.  Now, it’s important to note that Linalool is also what gets exploited in typical beauty products and cleaners. If you’ve ever smelled REAL lavender and then compared it to “lavender-scented” products, you can immediately tell that the scented products are less linalool and more chemically produced. 

Ylang Ylang
 I like to call Ylang Ylang the “poor man’s Jasmine”, at least as far as smells go.  They both are used in many perfumes and also to relax and encourage, uh, cuddling. Ylang ylang is what gives our blend its relaxing and uplifting qualities.  It promotes a positive outlook that I personally need in these dark days of winter. It takes us from burdened to exuberant, which is particularly important for women. We often can’t turn off our mental to-do lists, and we need to!

Wild Orange
This is the energizing part of our blend that also promotes a healthy immune system.  It takes us from drained to productive, which is especially important in these dark days of winter. We come home exhausted and ready to collapse from workout no all day. Wild orange gives us that energy to give back to our loved ones. 

Fun facts To compliment the Cuddle Up Concoction  Blend:
Ylang Ylang can be added to a facial steam to refresh your skin.  

Many “love potions diffuser blends” have Ylang Ylang in them.  Could that be because it relaxes you and opens your mind?  Just some food for thought….

Have a great month and I’ll see you next time on Heather’s Hypothesis where I’ll be sharing a blend inspired by St. Patrick’s Day!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Is Extra Credit a Viable Teaching Tool?

Does your school require you to give extra credit to students who don’t get the grades they expected?  Do you wonder how to make extra credit a viable teaching tool without creating unnecessary work for yourself?  Then my post on extra credit is for you!

Is Extra Credit a Viable Teaching Tool?

Many schools are moving toward a “no fail” policy for students.  In response, teachers are turning to creative ways to help students learn the material. One such way is extra credit. 

First, I’d like to look at the pros and cons.


If a student wants to show mastery of the content in a way other than a test, you might want to consider it on a case by case basis, but it would have to be something meaningful.  I talk more about that in the "Things to Consider" section below.


If you already do the following, it might pad a student's grade too much if you add extra credit on to those activities:
Test corrections for partial credit
Extended time to complete assignments with no penalty

Things to consider before allowing students to use extra credit:

Is it meaningful?  In other words: 
Does it align to the standards you are teaching?
Could it take the place of a classwork grade or a test grade?
Will it help a student master the subject matter?

Is the student missing work that would prepare them for completing the extra credit?
If students haven't completed homework and classwork, how will they know the information well enough to complete the extra credit?  You may want to have them complete the missing assignments and give them credit for those before assigning extra credit.

How much will it count?
10% of the grade?
Replacing a test grade?
Replacing a classwork grade?

How difficult should extra credit be?
More difficult than classwork or homework?
The same level of difficulty as those assignments?

Will it include extra curricular activities that tie into what you are teaching?
For example, if a family goes to a museum, could a student present orally or in writing what they learned?  What about family vacations?
Can students play online games and take screen shots to show they have mastered the information for extra credit?
Can a student use a study guide they created to take or retake a test for extra credit?

What's your stance on extra credit?  I could always use a fresh perspective!

Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Teach When You’ve Lost Your Voice

How do you teach if you can't talk?  It's that time of year again where the germs are everywhere and even the most seasoned teacher is susceptible to getting sick.  If you're looking for some tips on how to keep the learning going when you're not feeling well, then this post is for you!

How to Teach When You’ve Lost Your Voice

Step 1: Take care of yourself
If you are truly sick and feeling awful, take a day off and get yourself rested!  No one wants to share germs and you won't get better if you push yourself beyond your limits.  And while you're at it, DON'T bring any work home.  You're not resting if you're working.

With that being said, if you still feel well enough to push on, here are some strategies to get you through the day.

Drink hot tea with honey and magnesium.  
Click here to read about how I make my tea.

How to Teach When You’ve Lost Your Voice: Magnesium Tea

Diffuse essential oils to combat your sore throat.
My favorite blend for this is lemon, lavender, and peppermint.

How to Teach When You’ve Lost Your Voice: Singer's Spray

Step 2:  Be Honest With Students
Just being honest and asking the students for a personal favor of being quiet and paying close attention has always worked for me.

Step 3:  Write and display your directions to the class
Some ways to do this:

  • PowerPoint slides 
  • Posters
  • If students have access to computers, put your directions on an online repository so students can read the directions and move at their own pace

I’ve typed my directions as I go and projected them on the screen so kids have to read to know what to do. 

Step 4: Assign students as class leaders to relay directions

Step 5: Use visual cues to get students attention
These could include:

  • Clapping for their attention
  • Flicking the lights on and off
  • Raise your hand and have your class leaders quiet those around them

Step 6: Use Self-Guided Stations
Be sure to have some of these ready BEFORE you get sick.  Teach your students how to use them ahead of time.  It's not going to work well to try to teach students how to complete the stations when you have no voice.

Step 7: Use Class Incentives
As a last resort, I have a “prize bag” that floats from desk to desk of students who are paying attention. They get their name in a raffle for a small reward at the end of the day. They get super quiet when they see me walk over and put the bag on a student’s desk.

What do you do when you have to teach with no voice?  I can always use more tricks up my sleeve!