This Is a Prayer for the 9/11 Families and All of Us, Not a Blogpost.

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...
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It’s the 9th anniversary of the the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA, and as I usually do on this sad day, I’m watching the History Channel, “The Day the Towers Fell”.   It just feels like the very least I can do-honoring the souls of the departed by praying, watching and remembering.

For those of you who don’t get the History Channel, you can watch first person accounts here at Awesome Stories, which has links to more 9/11 news stories and news accounts, as well as newer 9/11 photos, released according to the Freedom of Information Act.  And here is a link to the Library of Congress Exhibit on 9/11.

Because I’m only human, I can’t help praying even harder today for everyone who lost anyone dear to them on 9/11, because my own oldest daughter just moved to NYC.  What if such a thing happened to her?  I know I couldn’t endure it, and as I look at all the photographers and filmmakers talking about the photos they took, or could not bring themselves to take on that day, my own child’s face rises before me.  That could be My child speaking.  My own firstborn is a beautiful, personable young adult and a talented photographer with her whole life ahead of her, and I love her every bit as much as the mothers and fathers loved the children they lost on 9/11; how can they stand their terrible pain?

I can’t imaging losing any of my children in a terrorist attack, or any other way!  2,749 innocent people died at Ground Zero on 9/11!  When you think of all the people they each left behind, and all of that collective pain, how can anyone not spend every 9/11 on their knees in prayer?

Every year, I watch some of the very same documentaries and learn something I didn’t know before-it’s like my mind can’t ever take it all in.  Today I heard comments from firefighters who survived who don’t remember how they got to the site, and others who don’t remember how they got home.  But they went back to work the next day. Did you know there was a class of brand new firefighters whose very first day on the job was on 9/11?  And not only did they not die, they showed back up for work the very next day-every one of them.  And so I’m praying to thank God for them, for all those heroes we hear about, like Dean Witter‘s Rick Lescorla, and all those people we may never know about, who helped people escape from those towering infernos and never said a word about it-some who may have never lived to tell the tales. Brad Fetchet, Greg Atlas, I learned your names today, and pray for your souls, and for your families.

I’m praying too, for all those everyday people still alive who were anywhere near Ground Zero, or in Washington, or Pennsylvania on 9/11, who witnessed sights, and heard sounds, no human should ever have to endure, who will wrestle with their memories of 9/11 for the rest of their lives.  I feel like I’m watching in solidarity with those people who stood on the streets in NYC with their eyes on the Towers, and didn’t turn their heads away while people jumped to their deaths, because it was their only way to say,  “We’re here with you, and it’s okay, we understand-we won’t let you die alone-and we’ll never forget you.”

With every year that passes, it seems even more important to let the families of the departed know, we have not forgotten.  And so my blogpost today is just one big prayer-for the souls of the departed, may they rest in peace, and for the 9/11 families and friends left behind, for the responders, for the witnesses, for you and your loved ones too-and for my family and myself-for all of us who’re still alive, and trying to stay that way in this crazy, mixed-up world.

God, please heal us all, and help us model patience and tolerance.  Help all of us in this world to accept and help each other, even if we don’t understand each other, so that we can finally live together peacefully, in this beautiful world You made for us.  Amen.

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Smart Boards!

Anchor Green Primary School
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Learn About Smart Boards Here! Mr. Clarke is available 24/7 on this Pageflake; he’s got Smart Board information and truly useful links-even for Primary School teachers all right here-along with a page of Education Tips, Technology Tutorials-tons of good information and ideas!

I can’t tell you what an awesome resource this is for teachers like me! I have a Smart Board and I’ve been to the classes that my school offers to teach us how to use them, and everything makes perfectly  good sense- until I get back to my classroom.  I take notes, but somehow I seem to forget most of the interesting things the IT Staff shows us how to do-and I like to differentiate instruction-relating Dance to Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Music, and Visual Arts–which isn’t difficult if you teach Dance as a Fine Art, and not simply as a healthy alternative to “regular” PE classes.

Now that I’ve got Mr. Clarke’s Pageflake to refer to, I won’t feel quite so helpless!  Now if I could only wave my magic wand and make time stand still for about a week-or maybe a month- so I could try everything out!

SUPER VOLUNTEER IDEA!  Want to learn about Smart Boards?  Got some time to kill?  Talk to the teacher about an upcoming unit of study and do some research for him/her.  Find and load some appropriate activities on the Smart Board for your child’s teacher too-you can load activities while everyone is at lunch and recess, or put everything in an online folder that the teacher can access on his/her own time; your teacher will be so grateful!

Here’s some ideas I got from Mr. Clarke for using the Smart Board in the Primary Dance Studio in the private school where I teach-but these ideas will work in all kinds of classrooms:

1) Illustrate and write a book as a class. Use the record feature to narrate the text. We made up a story about a statues that came to life when they heard magic music floating through the sculpture garden at midnight.  We can record it-with music- on the Smart Board.

2) Diagram activities.  We’ve been making “Movement Maps” in the 3rd Grade Dance classes-a form of diagramming-drawing out the floor patterns and directions we want to move in, and deciding which verbs and adverbs to dance!

3) Teach steps to a math problem.  Dancers count-most often to * but how many math problems can you make with movement, i.e. four jumps plus 4 slides =8 movements that can be performed to 8 beats to a bar of music. Try it!  Can you make up 6 + 2= 8, or 4=2=2+ 8?

4) Have students share projects during Parent/Teacher/Student conferences.  Our kids aren’t here during the conferences but there;s no reason why the Smart Board can’t play videos we’ve mad eof some of the dances they’ve been creating in class.


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Using “Wordle” for Learning In and Out of the Classroom!

Caffeine Powered Automaton Wordle
Image by mutednarayan via Flickr

Wordle is such a nifty tool to use with your students-for just about every subject! If you haven’t tried it yet-you should!

I used Wordle to make a Chance Dance Experimenting Tool for my Primary Dance students in grades 1-3 to play around with at home.  Not only will my students have fun using “chance” to see what kind of interesting dances they can make up at home from simple verbs and other easy words, they can also work on their handwriting at the same time, and will also be working on sequencing and memorizing the experimental dance  phrases they’ve written down as they enjoy the creative process.  I’m going to encourage the kids to come in and show their Wordle dances to the class the next day-and I bet their Language Arts teachers will be excited to see what they’ve created too!

By clicking on my link for “fun” (with a parent with them so they don’t browse, indiscriminately all over the Wordle Gallery)-the students can easily discover how to make their own Wordles too-for dance AND other subjects!  I put the link to Wordle on my Dance Wiki to make it easy for the children to experiment at home and in hopes they’ll create new Wordles too.  If they copy and paste the link to their Wordle Dance Experiment into an email and send it to me at school, we can look their Experiments up in the Wordle Gallery, put them up on the Smart Board in my dance studio and try them out-how cool is that?!

TEACHERS: If you’re reading this and happen to make a Wordle with YOUR class, using verbs, Or verbs and adverbs that are “appropriate” for 3-5th graders, please send me the link-maybe we can get a collaboration going where we copy your verbs and add adverbs to them

or vice-versa;  then we can send You a link to the  new wordle we made from your words-and trade back and forth–even if you don’t dance yours, it’s fun to “talk” with students who are in a different school somewhere else in the USA or the World!

VOCABULARY LESSONS?  It’s fun to use Wordle to study vocabulary!  Just get the kids to type in all the words they need to learn, then push “Randomize” to scramble them up.  Let them choose a black and white or color picture to print out if you have plenty of colored ink!  Give the children the definitions, numbered, on a separate piece of paper, and let then kids hunt through the Wordle to find and circle the correct vocabulary word-writing the number of the definition beside the word it goes with.  Staple the list of definitions to the Wordle and students can take them home and use them to study for tests.  Be sure to put the web address on the Wordle so the students can make more “Study Wordles” at home for other subjects too! design or a

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Fall Storytelling in the Classroom (and Home)!

North American Tales

Autumn is a great time for Storytelling in the Classroom-and in the Dance classroom too.  Most Primary students enjoy acting out and even dancing the  stories they’ve heard or read.

Here’s several links to Native American and other stories teachers can enjoy with their students in the elementary classroom, and parents will find interesting for story time at home too.

Native American Tales including Coyote Stories

Bear Stories

Jaguar Stories

Other Stories About America and Americans of Long Ago

Now here’s the most useful link of all:

Tim Sheppard’s Storytelling Resources I don’t know what Isn’t on Tim Sheppard’s site-there are more stories and links than I’ve ever found in one place-on all kinds of subjects.  You could spend a month just looking at everything you’ll find here!

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Finally, a Kids’ Dance Game Online!

Dance Video explains \”Floor Paths\”

Artopia has an Online Dance Studio Game for Kids!  How cool!

And just in time too-I was working on floor paths with my 3rd Graders the other day-amazing that they have trouble playing “Follow the Leader” while keeping a large enough circle going (close to all the walls) so that they can see each other plainly and have room to make changes to their moves when the leader does.  Just from seeing that, I know we have some work to do so they can make patterns other than just back and forth and side to side when they dance!

I’m hoping this video helps, because I’m going to make simple “Maps” for the dancers to follow-from Point A to Point B to Point C in a week or so, (which is also a great way for the students to understand “line segments”), and then I will be showing them how to make choreography maps for themselves  the following week.  If you teach dance and try this with your kids, or show them the video, let me know how it worked out for you!

There are lots of interesting sections for your students here-one is “Meet the Artist”, where the dancers and other students can learn about choreographers, including Dan Wagoner, who I studied with when I  apprenticed at Atlanta Contemporary Dance Company in 1979 and 1980.

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9/11: 102 Minutes That Changed America

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If you have not seen The History Channel Special “102 Minutes that Changed America“, please, do whatever you need to do to see this video-is the real, actual  history- filmed and recorded by 102 people while the events of 9/11 unfolded on that sparkling Fall day, 2001.  This is the professionally pieced together time-lined historical footage of everyday people’s and fire, police and emergency responders’ own cell phone calls, cell phone videos, home movies, 911 calls, live news reports, and “you-are-there” eyewitness reports of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as they actually occurred.  No “spin”, no announcers-just the raw, true, stunning, incredulous, horrified, auditory and visual reports, emotion filled and visually graphic footage of the two plane crashes, the fires, the archival record of the 102 minutes that changed America..

Over and over again, you hear 911 operators telling people to stuff material under the doors, to sit tight and wait for someone to lead them out of the building, not to leave their office, not to leave their floors, that they have every fire and emergency person headed their way.  The  South Tower Command Post Commander is heard getting the list of engine, ladder trucks and fire battalions on the way, an unbelievable list, and the Commander asking if they can keep his line open. So tragic…

Virtually everyone in Lower Manhattan, it looks like, begins walking-you can here them being evacuated, “All civilians keep moving North”! People hang out the windows, drop from the windows, and you can hear people in their home movies going from variations of, “What in the world is going on here?”, all the way to someone in his home movie with horror and anguish, “He fell out the window, oh my God!  The guy waving the flag-he fell, oh these poor people…”

I’m sorry that this blogpost skips around but I’m watching as I try to type and tell you what I’m seeing and hearing.  It’s so painful, but we must never forget these poor people who died!  There were incredible people who never knew they would be called upon to help who you see giving help to others.  One man was prepared-after the bombing in ’93, Rick Lescorla of Morgan Stanley was determined it should never happen again, and did everything he could to warn everyone that another attack, from the air, was probable.  He worked to get emergency procedures changed, and Rick trained his company’s employees with fire drills every three months, and got 2700 people out from Morgan Stanley safely.

It’s impossible to say which part of the “102 Minutes…” special is the most compelling, but this has to be seen more than once to be comprehended. the screen goes completely black at times-and all you hear are the sounds, and then there is no real sound except the sound of the buildings coming down and the visuals from different perspectives, up close, from a block away, three blocks away- of the the smoke coming out from around the buildings as they fell- the panicked people running for their lives up Church Street as the sirens wail.

“Help me, somebody, help me!”, you hear from a brown haze of swirling debris so thick that sunlight can barely be seen.  In the haze, you can hear someone banging and yelling for help. It’s chilling beyond anything you can imagine but it has to be heard, it has to be seen, and remembered,

One of the things that pains me most is simply all the footage that people didn’t even know they were filming as they ran, the crazy swinging view of the floor and the stairs as individuals and families scrambled to get out of their high rise apartments buildings. It took people four and five hours to be able to talk to their family members to let them know they had survived.

Also touching is the sight of a couple of dust covered firemen calling their families, a man who looks like a hotel manager says to someone off screen, “Everyone is dead.”, asking “Do you want to call someone?”  People just coughing and coughing, barely able to ask for water.  Whie dust covers everything-four inches thick.  Buildings that took 10 years to build fell in ten seconds.

There’s an early scene of chaos before the first tower actually fell, with nothing but police on the scene running everywhere and barking orders to a very confused looking business man in a crisp white shirt and tie carrying his briefcase, who has obviously walked out into the wrong street and doesn’t know which way to go.  He could be my husband, my brother, and the shock on his face, in his eyes, is piercing.

Thousands of people stand on the street sobbing and standing in shock, blessing themselves, praying, trying to dial their cell phones, “I’m ok, Mom!”  How grim to see and hear the sights and sounds of a busy fire batallion getting ready to enter the second tower as walking resolutely with grim faces to what we now know is their death, and the only sound is their fellow firemen already in the Towers yelling over their walkie talkies, and then a couple of minutes you watch the Tower they entered fall in a tower of smoke and dust.

From comments by one of the people who filmed, it was it was 288 from Queens. Again the sirens and the blackness and then the brown debris-filled haze.  The calls of dispatchers talking to firemen still on theway to each other over the radios, “We are unable to hear any communication”.

My heart is wrenched by the sound of the soft sobs of the young mother in the arms of her husband, so quiet and so heartbreaking, trying not to let her preschooler hear her crying after she and her husband, and the viewer watch the second tower fall from their apartment window.

Other stunning visuals: the harbor scene where the whole of Manhattan is one billowing cloud.  A dust covered man-totally white in a white haze, says to an unseen person with a rueful grin, “Thank God, I can still run-I’m 69-but I can run”. He stands alone in what looks like the end of the world.  In some ways, it was the end-the end of our country’s innocence.

Feet trudging up a debris filled street like the scene of a war movie-camera forgotten it films the littered roadway.  Clean, newly arrived firemen wearing masks, gingerly pick their way in silence through the rubble-there is nothing to do-no one to save.  They stand and stare silently in obvious shock at what remains.  There’s footage of the street obviously filmed by a woman as she escaped through the devastation sobbing quietly as she walks.  I’m amazed by the sight of a man wearing a full face gas mask carries a toddler who has nothing over his wide-eyed baby’s face.

My eyes fill with tears at the sight of the dust covered high school aged son coming into his apartment, filmed by a camera swinging forogtten on someone’s arm-perhas his mother?  She keeps saying through her panicked tears, “Frank?  Frank?”

A preschool child walks up and stands in front of her father and his camcorder, and reports what she’s noticed from the window directly to the camera, “The World Trade Center-it’s not there anymore, right, Dada?” She has no idea what she’s saying, just as old as my own son was when the Towers fell, just that sweet age when he still called is father Dada too.  He was home from preschool that day, safe in Atlanta ona gorgeous Fall day, “helping” Daddy wait for our new den carpet to be installed, a rare chance to play all day on a week day with dad.

You don’t want to believe it’s true, but it’s all too real.  You see people’s reactions, and hear them to news reports and see and hear them calling their family and friends, “Monday night football saved my life-I was 15 minutes late this morning, or I would have been inside that building”.  You see the blue sky where the towers used to be.  Watch them listening to radios, watching the big news screens in Times Square.

It’s so hard for me listening to the families-especially the family with their school age children at home who see the fire out the window.  “DAd, what is that falling-is that a person?  Oh my God!”  The woman who filmed that said she had no idea at that point she filmed people jumping out the windows to get away from death by fire. They’re watching when the second plane hits-and you hear the whole family screaming and crying- the boy yelling, “Oh no..What do we do?!” and you watch what they’re seeing, the explosion of fire spreading across the second Tower.

“It came straight down like a sand castle.”  Some families have their cameras running out the window, with small children at home who are being asked in the sweet voices Mommies use when they want to go to their rooms and play so Mommy and Daddy can watch tv, and the wife saying, “I can’t see the Tower-it’s gone, the Tower is gone!” and her husband (sounding like mine probably would) telling her they are not going anywhere.  And then they find out they have to evacuate but there is really no where to go because of the dust.

Here in Atlanta, the sky was so beautiful and the air crisp and clean-a memorably gorgeous day and I went off to teach dance at my sons preschool without a care in the world-I didn’t watch the news or listen to the radio, which is unusual for me, but I was enjoying the morning.I didn’t fully understand what happened until I left my son’s preschool and headed to my studio at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.  It was the first day of dance classes there, and I was stopping by to help the teacher, who had been my own student from age 3-18.

Rebecca Rachelson called me as I was driving towards the studio just a few blocks away, and was crying uncontrollably because she was so shaken by what she had seen on tv and -understandably afraid for her family members and friends in Manhattan and NYC.  I’m grateful for her call to this day because it prepared me for the shocking sight I got when I approached the driveway to the Church  closest to the Preschool and Recreation Department where and my dance studio-parents everywhere, most of them fathers-a very unusual sight in the middle of a weekday morning in the Church driveway.

They were abandoning their cars and running full speed onto the playground, grabbing their toddlers and small children up intheir arms -running back to their cars and leaving.  As I waited, trying to figure out how to turn into the parking lot, a mother drove up, got out of her car, leaving it running in the middle of the street, with the driver’s side door wide open-she jumped into her husband’s car and they drove off with their child- her car was left right in the middle of the carpool lane.  You can’t believe what this represented to me-total and complete panic.

I somehow managed to park and after a quick call to my husband, called my daughter in her college in Boulder, Colorado to tell her what was happening, and then went to my studio- where I sat all day alone, not watching the tv or listening to the news on purpose so that if a child was dropped off for dance that day, I would not show any distress in my face, voice or demeanor.  A few did come but were quickly taken away by parents.

I spoke to my friend in Savannah several times because her sister had business directly across the street from the Trade Center, and her sister’s 4 year old daughter and husband had come with her on her trip, and were walking to catch the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty when the whole nightmare began.  It wasn’t until 9pm that I found out they were finally reunited and safe, and got off the phone to watch the news and saw the Towers come down.

Like everyone else, I’ll never forget that day-and the days that followed.  We kept waiting for someone, anyone to be found, but as the film of the Towers falling was shown over and over, we had to admit that their was probably nothing left to find of any of the people.  Pray for them and their families.  Don’t ever forget.

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Structured Procrastination?

A sandy beach at the Little Sand Bay Visitor C...
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Summer’s just about over-for all practical purposes, it ends tonight!

Tomorrow I have to go do a task I told myself I’d go down to school and do this summer- why did I put it off so long?

And it’s way past time to get busy finishing all my Web 2.0 course Tasks for k12learning2.0!  So why am I looking around for different pictures for previous blog posts?  Why can’t I make myself go straight to learning about “pod-casting” and just make one about something-anything- and just get it over with?

I have no idea…or I had no idea why until somehow I found this article!

Structured Procrastination-what a great idea!  And just in time for Back-to-School/ faculty planning week!  John Perry shows how to develop a great reputation for getting a lot done without having to tackle any of your truly onerous tasks-at least, not right off the bat!

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