Archive for May 7th, 2014


Vote by May 9th!

May 7, 2014

Exciting news from the Albert S. Hall School, Waterville, Maine

Three representatives from Google made a surprise visit to the Albert S. Hall School recently to award 5th grader, Inga Zimba, as a State Winner in the 2014 Doodle 4 Google Competition!! The design (and statement) were created as part of an assignment introduced in Art Class by art teacher Hollie Hilton. Congratulations to Inga who created a design to Save the Bees.

You can go to and cast your vote (click Vote/4-5/and find Inga’s Save a Google Bee) for her to be a national finalist! You may vote on your own multiple devices and please share with family and friends! Voting ends May 9th. Inga will travel to California to learn if her idea was selected.


This is what Inga’s art teacher, Hollie Hilton, said about her

I have had the privilege of teaching art to Inga for two years. Inga possesses a quest for knowledge in the arts with exceptional curiosity. She persists in completing activities beyond the time frame of the art class, always asking if she can take it home to pursue it further. Not only does she bring back the finished art, she explains what she did by expressing herself with competence, confidence and a smile. Inga has the instinctive nature to be completely relaxed and confident when learning something new. After she understands the concept of a lesson, she then takes it a step further with her distinctive nuances and intellectual playfulness. She is humble, poised and well spoken.

A perfect example of her exceptional skill is a result of a lesson I recently taught for the Doodle 4 Google contest. Inga not only created a masterpiece for a “doodle”; she created a piece that incorporated what she was learning in science at school and what she was researching at home with her father. From the subtle nuances, such as; the play of the Google letters to exhibit a bee’s eyesight or the seriousness of her message, Inga took her art lesson to an exceptional level. This is evidence of initiating higher problem solving skills at an advanced level.  She took past techniques that she has learned in art, such as gradation, to help create a 3-D illusion. Her dedication of taking every art lesson to its fullest potential is proof of her passion and commitment.  A distinguished panel of judges in the Doodle 4 Google contest awarded Ingaís art and message and she is this years state winner.

You can go to the links below to read an article and hear Inga and Hollie on the topic.

Please support Maine and vote for Inga’s artwork!




May 7, 2014

Survival Tool

This is part of the Teacher Appreciation Week series. I love to laugh and want to remind/inform you about how essential it is in our crazy, busy lives of teaching!

Laughter is an important item in the teacher’s toolkit. Even though April was National Humor month doesn’t mean its over. In fact, I suggest you take National Teacher Appreciation week to think about laughter. (Just don’t get to serious about this topic). This post is a reminder of the importance of laughter in your educator bag.

I was several years into my teaching career when an administrator (who I had a high level of respect for) pointed out to me that I was taking myself way to seriously. I looked closely at that statement and what that meant to me and to my students. I made a few small changes and to my surprise the environment in my classroom changed. I no longer looked at situations through the same lens but viewed each one uniquely. I thought I had to be serious in order to have control, for my students to be successful, and for my classroom to look a certain way when others visited. As I continued on my teaching journey I realized that one key to a successful classroom was including fun and laughter in every lesson and encouraging my students to be joyful.

When situations move towards being stressful I ask myself how important it is to “tangle”. I remind myself to take the high road and most importantly my bottom line question: Is this a dance or a wrestle? Most often it is a dance – we all know that dancing is more fun!

As the same goes “laughter is some of the best medicine”. Each of us knows how laughter impacts us and in addition the research supports that.


  • activates our natural, brain-boosting endorphins,
  • relieves depression,
  • helps fight cancer growth,
  • relieves frustration and stress,
  • improves our immune system, and
  • enhances oxygen by messaging the liver, kidneys and pancreas.

Laughter can reduce our medical bills and increase our work productivity up to 31%. It is know that people who laugh regularly use less sick-time and often problem-solve more creatively.

Recently I heard that along with the rise of yoga classes there are some laughter yoga classes. I have yet to see this in action however, it sounds intriguing. Some work places are offering yoga laughter classes to help relieve stress. Not to mention the number of calories burned is sure to rise with a large group laughing together. When someone is enjoying a hearty laughter it is difficult not to laugh or at least smile.

A couple of laughter websites to help increase your laughter:

And lastly, Christa Scalies offers the following reasons to add laughter to your survival kit or as I’d like to say your educator bag. Please don’t wait until the next break or vacation from your work to think about how to make laughter an important component of your day.

Laughter helps us de-stress, learn, cope, transcend, recharge, renew, hope, optimize, enjoy, create, meditate, digest, exercise, connect, engage, energize, oxygenate, release, persist, and persevere.

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~ Milton Berle

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