Learning Styles

During teacher training, we had courses devoted to various learning styles. The premise was that we all learn through different modes, and those modes should all be used to deliver content in a way students could easily process.

One of the theories is that there are three different modalities or avenues for information to be delivered – visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. When planning lessons, we were charged with keeping these modalities in mind. Today I am in classrooms where the students learn vocabulary by gathering at the front of the room and reading a definition aloud while miming a related action, thereby hitting all three modalities. It’s a difficult thing to do with every subject.

The other theory we studied was that of multiple intelligences, which defines intelligence as not merely a product of reasoning and ability to understand complex ideas, but acknowledges that there are a variety of ways that a person can be smart that may not show up on our commonly accepted measuring tool, the standardized test.


Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences

This theory comes in handy when planning lessons. Students are more likely to learn when they feel a connection. Acknowledging that success on a standardized test doesn’t dictate success in life frees a student to reach his or her own potential. Gardner reasoned that it takes all kinds of people to make this world work, and by giving students freedom to interact with content in a way that is relevant to them, they are more likely to learn.

As a teacher, I see this on a daily basis. Students are more invested in something that is meaningful to them. A student who loves sports will be more inclined to read and work math problems that are related to his or her interest in the subject. Giving students research projects in a subject area they are interested in yields enthusiastic results. Offering students varied means to show knowledge of a subject allows them to own the learning process. A song created about the American Revolution that accurately reflects a predetermined set of learning goals is every bit as relevant as a multiple choice quiz.

Acknowledging multiple intelligences also give students ownership of the learning process, and our goal as teachers should not be to help students pass a test, but should be to create lifelong learners.

I was recently in a second grade classroom with a girl who was in every support group imaginable. She was not only low in reading and math, but had a hard time focusing on content the class was learning. At the end of the day, we switched to an art project. This girl threw herself into the project with an enthusiasm and focus that I hadn’t seen from her all day. She quickly completed a beautiful project and asked to do another. It was hard to pull her away when it came time to clean up. This kind of interest is what we hope for as teachers. In an era of focusing on the standardized test, we are leaving these kids behind. This particular school had done away with art in favor of more math and reading instruction, and this student was being left behind in spite of good intentions.

I understand this student. I was this student. Today, I can read and study difficult concepts, but I still reach the point where if I don’t have a creative outlet, all learning stops and pressure begins to build. I’m sure this is true for the active child, the musical child, the inter/intrapersonal child. Education favors the linguistic/mathematical model, but when it comes to the endgame of career and job selection, we need those visual/spatial, interpersonal, naturalistic students to thrive in their areas of interest. Education must support all students.

If you are interested in finding out what your learning styles are, there are plenty of online quizzes to help you out. I found that I’m pretty well rounded when it comes to the three modalities, and multiple intelligences. That probably comes from age and experience, and from providing my brain with many and varied opportunities to provide connections.

What are your strengths? Was there anything that helped or hindered your learning process?

Learning styles quiz

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences quiz 


What’s your learning style? Do you prefer learning in a group and in an interactive setting? Or one-on-one? Do you retain information best through lectures, or visuals, or simply by reading books?

Coveting Coffee Perfection

Photo credit: sean dreilinger via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

As I prepare my morning cup of nature’s great elixer, I find myself longing for a state-of-the-art espresso machine. My little, black Krups Duomo gets the job done, but it’s a miniature donkey in a world of sleek racehorses. Whatever machinery lies under the plastic shell strives valiantly to produce an economical version of great espresso. It shlushes and shlurps as it pushes coffee out, forming a temporary coffee bubble ring around the small cup. This “foam” does not last, and as the bubbles quickly disappear, so does my dream of a tawny, frothy, true crema.

I think about the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. A friend introduced me to a trendy little coffee bar in Salem called Archive. I ordered a latte, and it was delivered with the requisite artistic rendering of something in the foam. What I remember most, though, is that crema tantalizing my tastebuds, delicious and smooth. Oh, how many mornings I’ve longed for that cup of coffee.

It’s not something my hard-working Krups could ever produce.

I yearn for a stainless-steel beauty to grace my countertop, gleaming and winking a profound good morning, its nozzles and tubes lending a steampunk addition to the already eclectic decorating scheme, with a winking digital display promising a first-rate start to the day. Peeling back the burnished cover, the state of the art engineering would reveal itself – insulated double boilers, copper tubing, electronic parts, perfectly aligned and ready to go to work, all pledging to deliver the best cup of coffee, and all on my kitchen counter. A heady crema would be mine to enjoy every day! And with a double boiler promising a quick pitcher of frothed milk, just think of all the foam art I could create!

But alas, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Krups Duomo, fear not. Unless I win the Powerball lottery, you are safely ensconced in your place of honor on the kitchen counter.

Photo credit: franzj via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


Photo credit: Schill via Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: DanLacher via Foter.com / CC BY

In response to The Daily Post prompt: Tell us about the one luxury item you wish you could afford, in as much detail as you can. Paint a picture for us.

Oregon Occupied

I consider myself a reasonable person. I am generally moderate in most discussions, with an ability to see both sides of an issue. I am also a teacher and a parent, with no tolerance for temper tantrums and standoffs. If you have a case to make, make it. I will listen. I will think about it and perhaps research your points to see if they make sense. I will make a decision based on reason, rather than emotion. If you threaten, stomp feet, slam doors, or stage an armed takeover a government facility, you muddy your cause, and I no longer want to hear about it.

This is why the Oregon Standoff, as it has been called, is particularly problematic to me.

There are justifiable concerns here. The Oregon ranchers, the Hammonds, were sentenced under a mandatory sentencing law that required them to serve 5 years each for arson. You can debate the hows and whys of that case, but a decision was made. A judge chose not to impose the mandatory sentence, the decision was appealed, and the mandatory sentence stood. I contend that there is a case for repealing mandatory minimum sentences and allowing context back into the sentencing conversation. This involves calling your representatives. Find some lawyers, set up a GoFundMe account, and fix it the laws the right way. It’s a slower process than taking over a building with a bunch of guns, but it’s our democratic way. Take it to the highest court in the land.

Another concern is the management of land. The communities of Central Oregon and other rural communities like it are frustrated at the restrictions placed on them by the government. They claim that setting aside land has cost them jobs and their livelihood. I see the frustration, but in an ever-shrinking world it’s more important than ever to balance resource management with conservation. Opening land that is being held in the public trust for the enrichment of a few is a bad idea. The people of Burns, Oregon are going to profit from the land at a fraction of what large investors and corporations stand to gain from it, and if you think the government (which is us) doesn’t care about you, wait until you see the attitude of big business.

Then there is the whole militia movement. I’m sorry, but you can quote the Constitution and parade the flag like you own it, but you will never speak for me on the necessity to rise up against a government (which is us) that is still able to manage a peaceful transfer of power. When the guy in charge reaches the end of his term, he vacates the premises. He doesn’t hang on any longer than he (or she) is due. The next qualified, elected candidate steps up to the task for the next four years. Does this aspect of our government have its flaws? Of course it does. But it still works.


As with any argument, you can get mired in rhetoric. Militants claim to be upholding the Constitution and Oathkeepers hold fast to the oath to “protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Which parts of the Constitution are they defending? Article 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the following responsibilities:

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; 

The militia that we have seen recently in the Oregon occupation was not, to my knowledge, formed under the supervision of the Congress of the United States. Congress has not, to my knowledge, called them forth to repel invasions or suppress insurrections. On the contrary, they seem to be at the brink being the ones to stage the insurrection. Who has organized, armed and disciplined its members?  If they are self-styled and not regulated by Congress, doesn’t that put them in opposition to the Constitution they swore to uphold?

There is a lot of back and forth about the staging and response to this situation. This zealous group of self-proclaimed patriots are challenging the authority of the American government (which is us) and have said that they will use deadly force if necessary to promote their agenda, which at this stage sounds like taking back the land from we-the-people. (Is this stealing?) I ask you, who are the insurrectionists? Where is the reasoned debate? Are you willing to set the precedent of negotiating with terrorists?

If you are a conservative reading this, ask yourself if you would be okay with the opposing viewpoint taking this stand based on their agenda.


To my loyal readers, I promise to get off my soapbox. I just feel the need to speak out against this occupation. This is my state and I am offended by outsiders hijacking it. I also love my country and am unwilling to let it be torn apart from the inside without raising my own voice in protest. Thanks for your patience.

Happy Meal

Wary eyes watched her. He had been in her class for only a week, resulting in two room clears and numerous door slams. She smiled. They were scheduled to share lunch in her classroom that afternoon. Trust would melt that icicle heart.

Three Percent is NOT a Democracy

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Are we still a democracy?

Hey, wait a minute. We were never a true democracy, but rather a representative republic.

Okay. Are we still a Representative Republic? Or a Representative Democracy? Or any form of government dedicated to the will of the people?

At the time of this writing, we have a group of armed men who have staged a takeover of a wildlife refuge in my state. They have guns and have told us all that they are willing to use them. What they have done is illegal and intimidating. You can throw in other words if you like – treason and sedition come to my mind.

But wait a minute. They are just like Rosa Parks. They are just peacefully standing up for their rights.

They are not Rosa Parks. What did Mrs. Parks do? Let’s review the history. She refused to relinquish her appointed place on the bus for a more privileged person, setting off a boycott of a service that catered to the underprivileged community that needed that service, a peaceful protest to gain basic human rights of equality under the law. The NAACP was able to galvanize a movement behind her small act because she was a hard-working, stellar member of the community who had done nothing wrong. She was following the unjust law of the day and still she was victimized. I don’t know that I would have had the courage.

The Malheur occupiers are squatters and invaders, nothing more. In their states’ rights view, I wish the Oregon National Guard would go in and arrest them as invaders. Can they do that?

Oh, come on. They are just protesting federal overreach. This is a just cause. Besides, nobody has been hurt.

Well, thank goodness! The fact that nobody has been hurt is due to restraint by law enforcement. These guys have made goodbye videos to their families. What does that tell you about their intentions? They have made threats to the sheriff and have brought an arsenal that they intend to use.

It’s a lose-lose for law enforcement, really. If they do what they should do and enforce the law, the militia groups will shout, “See? We told you the Feds are tyrannical.” If they don’t go in and do what they should do, the militias feel powerful and will do this again and again and again. I vote for the former.

Hey, over here. You know the real reason that law enforcement hasn’t gone in because they are white, right? If this was Ferguson, they would have been there in armored vehicles, guns blazing, tear gas flying.

Well, there’s probably some truth to that, but this is a different situation, and a similar situation to others that have ended badly in the past. Do you know about the militia movement in America? Or are you like me, who has a superficial knowledge that they are out there, but not really what they represent, nor what they are planning on doing with all of their training? And yes, they have been training. Just to give you a quick reminder, Timothy McVeigh, one of our own, the worst domestic terrorist in my time, was a part of this movement.

The Oklahoma Federal Building bombing killed 168 Americans (who live under the same flag that these people have appropriated as theirs), including 19 children, and injured another 600. Seven hundred sixty-eight civilian victims, including children. I remember at the time of the bombing we as a country looked outward. Surely this was a Muslim extremist, a terrorist like the ones who tried to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993 and had previously hijacked and brought down airplanes full of innocents. Who else would want to cause such destruction? Who else would give America such a punch to the gut? When it was discovered that it was one of our own, a military veteran, no less, there was a collective gasp. What the hell was happening to our country?

Timothy McVeigh was just a small part of a larger movement to destroy our country from within, to take shots at the federal government, the backbone that keeps us all together. He lashed out in a planned attack, terrorizing a nation and killing and maiming civilians whose only “crime” was to be employed by the federal government. His motive? He hoped to instigate widespread revolt against the federal government for the Waco Siege and Ruby Ridge. Like the terrorists in the Middle East, his victims were civilians.

The movement is still there, and still ready to strike. They have appropriated the Constitution. They have appropriated the flag. They think this gives them the right to terrorize the rest of us who also hold the Constitution and the flag as our own. This is why law enforcement is proceeding with caution. You can’t reason with these people. After Bundy’s father staged his own standoff with the federal government over his refusal to pay grazing fees on public lands, two followers of the militia movement were galvanized, not to march peacefully or walk to work, but to shoot two law enforcement officials who were eating pizza.

I ask you, what type of people have this much resentment toward law enforcement? Hmm…. lawbreakers?

But getting back to my original question, are we still a democracy? One of the militia groups is called the Three Percent, based on the premise that only 3 percent of colonists took up arms against the British in the Revolutionary War. (Still wondering about their motives?) If you have three percent of the people making decisions for the other 97 percent, is that a democracy? I think you know the answer.

Welcome to our own version of the Taliban.




Just one last look before I go
As the morning light tenderly caresses
Ridges and valleys of time,
Revealing the years in your face.

My skin tingles with the echo of your full lips,
The memory brushing over me like a warm breeze
Of passion aged like fine wine.

Brows unfurrowed in sleep
Release in me an urge to trace
That ridge over bottomless eyes now hidden.
The cares of the day briefly
Relinquishing their hold over you.

Breath that tickled my neck
And whispered in my ear
Now sighs deeply in sleep’s embrace
As you roam where I cannot follow.

Do you dream of simpler days?

If you were to wake
Would you draw me back to you,
Dismissing the obligations of the day?

But for the furrowed brow, I would return.

Yet I must go.
Sleep on, my love,
Though I must leave,
My heart remains with you.


<a href=”http://yeahwrite.me/fiction-poetry-writing-challenge-247/”><img src=”http://yeahwrite.me/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/fiction247.png”></a&gt;

Vaccinate Against the Hate

Photo credit: NIAID via Foter.com / CC BY

An illness is spreading in our society, a virus that’s propagating and mutating, diving deep within our cells and lying dormant until conditions are right, at which time it flares, infects, and proliferates, leaving disaster in its wake. The Black Death has nothing on this virus. This virus feeds on fear. This virus is Hate.

There are certain carriers, the Typhoid Marys of our age, who may not exhibit outward signs of the virus, but spread it nonetheless to unsuspecting victims. It taps through the tympanic membrane of our ears through radio waves, where it seeps into our brains, degrading synapses, hardening the soft tissue, and silencing the thought processes. It spreads in hazy waves through the ever-present screen to delicate eyes, scaling over the tender visual system and causing a type of blindness that is self propagating. It is transmitted from the podium, where it enters the bloodstream directly in a rush of adrenaline.

Once in the body, the virus starts to spread, seeking out an environment conducive to growth and replication. In the absence of these conditions, it enters a dormant state, walled off, waiting for the right condition to emerge. When it finds the right environment, it grows fiercely, transforming the host into a leprous mass of pathogens. In its final stages, this virus infiltrates the heart, causing it to seize up and shrink in size. This is when it is at its most virulent.

Sadly, once infected, there is little hope for the victim. He or she becomes a vector, passing the virus on to other unsuspecting victims. Family members are the first to be infected, children being the most vulnerable. Unsuspecting friends, if unvaccinated, are also susceptible to the contagion. It may even spread through places of worship. Bombarding the virus with high levels of antibodies may have limited results. Quarantine is often necessary.

Though news of the spread of the disease is distressing, there is hope. A vaccine exists that can filter the virus from the system before it ever gets a foothold. This vaccine is offered to everyone in the country, though sadly, some still deny its benefits. It is available at the local elementary school, where children learn how to work together despite their differences. It is available at the middle schools, where young minds are introduced to the great thinkers of the ages through the written word. Inoculation continues at the high school, where students are taught to filter subjective information through the scientific process. To receive maximum benefit, post-secondary inoculations are required, fine tuning the immune response. Further boosters may be self-administered.

The availability of this vaccine does not guarantee resistance to the disease. The virus may still creep in through lapses in vaccination or dilution of the antivirus. Resistance is only as good as the strength of the immune system. The ear needs to be attuned to diverse voices to maintain flexibility. The soft brain tissues need frequent stimulation through the written word and intelligent discussion to keep the synapses functioning. The tender eye needs reprieve from the harsh and confusing signals of the screen to be able to clearly see the path ahead. Most importantly, the heart needs nourishment and exercise in the form of love, friendship, and generosity to beat and grow. Of course it is always helpful to avoid travel to areas where the virus persists.

If the above conditions are met, there is hope that the virus that is infecting our country may be controlled. Vaccinate. Before it is too late.

This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Dwight D. Eisenhower


Saturday a small, armed group took over a federal building in the unassuming state of Oregon. It’s a small building, probably closed for the season, but that’s irrelevant. They are trespassing. With guns.

Their recent migration to the small town of Burns, Oregon was to “peacefully protest” (their words) the extension of a sentence of a rancher who burned federal lands, possibly as a cover-up for poaching, and was convicted of arson. The community of Burns was justifiably worried by the intrusion. They didn’t ask these people to come. Eastern Oregonians have issues with land rights and many other rural issues that don’t get much air time, but not to the point of waving guns around and decrying the government. But this group, led by Ammon Bundy, took it upon themselves to appropriate this state and this case to promote an agenda. You can discuss the merits of the arson case until the cows come home (pun intended), but that’s beside the point. What is more troublesome is the lack of faith in our current system of government and the apparent willingness of some people to take up arms.

I recently read an article citing “The Trump Effect.” You may have read something similar at some point, but the gist of it was that straight-talking Donald has brought these people out of their hiding places and given them the courage to push civility aside and say whatever they please, no matter who suffers for it. The drunk uncle has been unleashed upon the public, and the result is division. The result is also people thinking that marching with guns through a small town and taking over a bird refuge are a justifiable response to a court decision.

There are many tangential threads of response to this occupation. There are attempts to compare the situation to the killing of a black child wielding an air-soft gun or to the rioting in Ferguson. When we question the lawlessness of Bundy’s group’s actions, we get a redirect to a different issue. The race card has been played, citing the lack of law enforcement reaction to the fact that the men are white. I’m sure law enforcement doesn’t relish the thought of trying to pry these guys, who have already stated that they are willing to die for their position, from their perch. Why, these gentlemen are merely getting some rest in a building owned by we-the-people. They aren’t really doing anything wrong, right? Unless you believe in the rule of law. Unless you want to live in a civil society, where these things are decided by the courts, and not by we-the-people wielding guns. Bundy and his crew ally themselves to the Forefathers who also fought the big, bad government of the time. I mean, they’re just looking out for our interests, right? They have hung the American flag over the Malhuer Refuge sign, a flag symbolizing our unity under the federal government. Perhaps the irony is lost on them.

None of these tangents should detract from the real question of whether or not our system of government is working, and if not, what do we do about it?

I’ve heard disturbing talk from both extremes citing the R word – revolution. I have to ask what we are revolting from? These anti-government guys may want to revolt from the government, who in their eyes is taking more power and more land. The other end of the spectrum is revolting from the corporate powers-that-be who own and manage most the wealth of the country. People clamor for the good-old-days, though I’m not sure if they are talking the days of Jim Crow or the robber barons. (We may be headed toward the latter.) Everything seems to be fueled by fear.

Is the country trending toward incivility, as it seems to be? When civility breaks down, what does that say about civilization itself? We have to agree to let the mostly peaceful system work, kinks and all. We have an agreed upon set of laws, and it’s in our best interest as a country to follow them where they stand and to work within the system to change them if they are not working. When you pick up guns and hole up in a federal building, when you detonate a truck-bomb outside of a federal building, you are not working within the system, and folks, for the most part, the system works.

We will never be 100% in agreement with decisions made in Salem, Oregon or Washington, D.C. We can’t be. We are a diverse nation, and the needs of the many outweigh the needs (or wants) of the few. We must accept that the other guy might win an election, but that he will do his best to promote the welfare of our country. We must recognize our responsibility to educate ourselves as to the issues of the day and to vote according to what is in the best interest of the nation. To cry foul and march down the street with gun in hand, to take over a federal building, no matter the size, contributes to the breakdown of society. The right to protest is built into our Constitution. The right to intimidation is not.

Some important issues have been resolved through peaceful protest. To my knowledge none of them involved a gun.