Tag Archives: reading

Halloween Horror shatters school stress.

We sat outside, surrounding our fire pit, and roasting marshmallows on sticks. Each of us listening to the next scary story as if a monster might jump right out of the storyteller’s mouth.

It was as simple as that. We forgot the horror of  early morning carpools and catching colds as well as the burden of too much homework. 

Halloween seems to creep up at just the right time. I wish I could say that I meditate everyday in order to maintain a peaceful and tranquil life, but I don’t. And, frankly, I really enjoy the strange worlds we can create around this time of year.

Think Creepy Thoughts

You can do something as simple as sitting around a fire or even on the couch with only candles lighting the room and telling stories to really enjoying the crazy American commercialism of anything Halloween. In fact, while I was browsing Amazon for inexpensive decor, candy, and costumes, I thought I’d share some of what I found.

Using Halloween horror to take the edge off often imbues a sense of freedom and creativity into our lives. It also gives our kids some relief without the drama of a “vacation.” 

So many people might head to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, and there’s always something to do wherever you live. Enjoying pumpkin patches for young kids or going to Halloween parties for older kids might be a good distraction.

But, often, staying home and simply enjoying the season is the best choice when trying to save your sanity.

Start with Decorations.

Decorations are cheap and fun. I found glittery black branches and put them in a purple vase that I already had. Then, I used the leftover branches to make crowns. 

BranchesVase
Our vase combined with the black glittery branches looks chic and sets the tone for wicked fun.

I also found a pack of black glittery birds, crows if you will, that I hung from the chandelier and placed throughout the house.

14 Inch Glittery Halloween Branches Purple Orange and Black (Set of 3)
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Then, I hung a glittery black wreath inside our Christmas wreath. Essentially, you can make the wreath out of the branches. It’s cheaper that way.

If the wreath is too tame, you can always get a bit more elaborate with door decor. The black glittery wreath branches worked nicely with our Winter holiday wreath.

When our kids were small we used a skeleton head with a microphone to scare the trick or treaters on Halloween, but it was also a lot of fun to mess around with whenever anyone visited. However, you can get the one above on Amazon and it’s a lot easier to use because we ended up breaking the cord for the microphone and damaging the skeleton head.

Walking into our house feels different now and different is good when the stresses of life start to take over. 

Weekend Hibernation

Weekends are a great time to head to the theaters or visit nearby haunted houses or themed activities. However, sometimes you just want to hibernate. 

With all the technology and resources available and if you’ve taken the time to decorate even a little, you can kick back and enjoy Halloween at home.

American Horror Story: Freak Show Blu-ray

Just get some food, drinks, and movies or watch a series. If you have Netflix, the latter shouldn’t be too difficult to manage. Because I’m like a five year old when it comes to scary shows, I still haven’t gotten through the first episode of American Horror Story, but there are other movies and shows to binge watch.

Food and Drinks

And, binging on favorite foods also keeps stress at bay during the Halloween season. You don’t need to eat tons of candy, although that’s a great past time. All you need is some favorite comfort foods and plenty of cushions and couches to curl up on.

Food really isn’t that difficult to manage. Not everything has to be theme centric. Order a pizza or make one. Pop some popcorn and get some sodas for simplicity’s sake. But, if you want to add some themed accents, there are a lot of easy ways to do that.

Bundle of 2 Halloween Ice Cube Trays with Gummy Eyeballs, One Purple and One Orange Tray Each With 14 Gummy Eyes

Plop some eyeball ice cubes into the drinks.

The jello brain mold is great also because it’s easy to use and makes a great centerpiece on the coffee table or counter. And, gross Halloween snacks such as Edible Insects in a bag really help take the edge off. 

But, if that’s too disgusting for you, fun candy pops remind us to enjoy life and take a second to laugh. Bottom line, sugar helps sometimes. There’s a reason why kids love it so much.

Great Halloween/Horror Movies or Series

Entertainment all depends on you, especially when it comes to viewing choices.  

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories

IMPORTANT NOTE:  A lot of these films are books, so this is a great way to jumpstart reading skills. The Goosebumps series is a weird little series that kids start reading around third grade. Roald Dahl, well, need I say more. His books are pure entertainment. There’s also a collection of Campfire stories to help you along if you decide to roast marshmallows.


Goosebumps Classic (Series 1) – 10 Books Set Collection R.L. Stine

Now, my kids watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline when they were younger then later told me Coraline really freaked them out because of the hidden door and the button eyes. You need to make a decision based on age and exposure to past content. If your kids get scared after watching Monsters Inc. then you might want to hold off on Coraline. 

For older kids, especially teenagers, let them choose. Really, I’m usually the one who’s scared of the movies they watch. Some great classic movies to watch are Beetlejuice, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, and Jaws. 

If you want psychological thrillers, Signs and the Sixth Sense may be good choices to start. For more intense stories, there’s always films adapted from Stephen King novels. The Shining always delivers, and the more recent version of IT will definitely scare everyone watching.

It really doesn’t matter how you work it as much as to just forget about school long enough to destress and have fun.

 

Distracted by Distractions

Watching students test has become an obsession for me, as a teacher and as a mom. I first began studying The Test about 10 years ago.

I had always held a deep disdain for even the mention of the word “test” while plowing through my school years. I hated tests because I’d shut down and perform poorly on tests. This happened after an encounter with a terrible test at a young age. So, I began to loathe testing.

mctest

It wasn’t until I became a teacher that I felt compelled to study and ultimately understand the process of taking a test. After all, teachers have to create tests so I needed to know exactly how I should start, so I searched different websites dedicated to teaching educators how to create tests.

I began with multiple choice questions and answers because those were the kinds of test items that made no sense to me. I rarely understood why my answer was wrong when teachers reviewed answers with my classes.

The reviews usually consisted of teachers ticking off the right answers and only explaining one or two in a very matter of fact way, as if to say, “Don’t you dare question the logic of the test.”

So, I never did. I only questioned my intelligence, which meant I thought I was an idiot. Until now.

The first question I had

was why in the hell am I creating a multiple choice test anyway? Where did the damn thing come from?

The Washington Post has a great article about the origins of the multiple choice test. The writer also adds some background information about how educators assess students and questions the validity of the act of testing at all. It’s definitely worth the read. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/13/AR2006111301007.html

According to The Washington Post, an educator named Frederick J. Kelly, the Dean of Education at the University of Kansas, created the first multiple-choice test in 1914. From that point on, that style of testing mushroomed into what we find students struggling over throughout their educational life.

So when I sat down to research the very idea of creating the multiple choice tests, I found a mountain of information on the subject. So much information, that I really had to sift through it quickly or I could’ve been reading for months nonstop.

The most surprising and most valuable information was the method of using a distractor in the multiple-choice answers.

Ironically enough, the word “distraction” has become the 21st century go-to word to describe everything associated with everything electronic and has young students drowning in schools.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching a student test nowadays, you’d see very quickly how and why students often struggle with standardized tests. First, they see a paper with words on it and cringe. If it’s on the computer, they won’t cringe but that doesn’t mean they’ll concentrate on the material being presented to them, especially if it requires reading.

Most unsuccessful students seem to skim or scan whatever they’re reading and answer the questions by returning to the text to search for answers, which means that they’ve most likely missed the main point of the passage, which then throws off their answers to just about everything.

They end up with low scores and are left feeling stupid, anxious, and defeated.

They go home and become more addicted to the distractions that help them to feel confident, happy, and friendly—gaming and social media.

These are the distractions that reward them. The test drains them. And, we, parents and teachers, feel twice as frustrated and confused.

However, by observing this, every year I don’t begin my multiple choice creations with distractors. I begin my journey with my own brand of distractions.

And it works.

Written by Lisa Chesser

This post and others to follow will focus on teaching and helping children succeed in school. I’m working on a book that will have more details on sifting through the minds of children in order to help them find success in a system that often destroys their ability to succeed.

Distractor Rationale

http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/tmrs/tmrs_rg/distractor_rationales.pdf

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