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Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 | 0 comments

CritterKin, Kids and SEL

CKSEL - Corrected Times V4

Questions for the Chat are Below

CritterKin is hosting a Twitter chat as part of this year’s EdCampGlobal entitled, “CritterKin, Kids and Social Emotional Learning.”   To access the chat, type in the hashtag #CKSEL into the search bar on Twitter and you will be taken to the live feed. We will hope to see you at 6:00 am on August 1st. Questions for the chat are below:

Welcome!  Today’s topic focuses on how CritterKin (animal family) can be used to foster emotional literacy skills (SEL). #CKSEL

Introductions: Please share your name, location & 1 thing your CritterKin (animal family) has taught you about SEL. #CKSEL

Q1: SEL is often described as teaching “soft skills.” Are soft skills less important than traditional ones? #CKSEL

Q2: How can cultivating empathy, compassion & kindness contribute 2 enhanced academic & cognitive performance? #CKSEL

Q3: CritterKin uses stories told from dogs’ view 2 explore human behavior. What’re advantages 2 this approach? #CKSEL

Q4: How can story-driven PBL be used to reinforce SEL and empower students to have a voice in the world?#CKSEL

Q5: A central CritterKin theme is that no one is perfect & one size does not fit all? How can we reinforce this in the classroom?

Q6: Share some examples of ways you have brought Social Emotional Learning into your classroom.

Challenge: Give your students a chance to experience SEL with others around the world. Sign up for #NPHCBlogIt


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Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 | 0 comments

Q & A in Illinois

Q and A with Jena VVSD1
Click HERE or On the Image Above to Watch a Q and A with second and third graders in Illinois

There’s nothing better than talking to kids, and I always make sure to leave some time for them to ask questions. I’ve been asked everything from my age to whether or not I think I was a dog before, so almost nothing fazes me. The one thing they never seem to expect is when I ask a question of my own. It’s only fair, right?

In addition to in-person and virtual visits via GHO Skype, I’ve done quite a few real-time Twitter chats. Just another way to engage and give kids the chance to practice their writing skills. One hundred and forty characters is a challenge for everyone!

To Schedule Your Own Visit, Contact Me:


Phone: (919) 615 – 0666

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Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 | 0 comments

Teaching Kindness Little by Little

Poco a Poco Collage1A
Click HERE to Get Your Free Copy of Poco a Poco

When I first heard about the dogs being left at the garbage dump in Cozumel, Mexico I was horrified. Then the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) introduced me to the people who were saving those dogs lives and I realized there was a story that needed to be told. It is a heartbreaking story, to be sure. No one likes to think of dogs being left at a dump, but for every act of abandonment there has been an equally compelling act of kindness and courage, often by those in desperate straits themselves.

Poco a Poco is based on actual events and was written to support the IFAW’s new “Cats, Dogs and Us” program, designed to educate people worldwide about the unique relationship between human beings and their pets. I hope you will get your free copy today and help spread the word about how best to care for our furry friends.  To get your Free copy, click HERE.

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Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 | 0 comments

Spending Time in Texas

Ms Jenaia Hugs2 Framed 1000x746
Click HERE or on Image to Read About My Visit to Warren Elementary

It’s true what they say about Texas. Everything is a little bit bigger there, including the hearts of the people. I spent an amazing two days with the teachers and students at Warren Elementary, after more than a year of working with them virtually. Don’t get me wrong. I love virtual visits, but there’s nothing quite like being hugged by 600 kids to make your heart happy.

Thank you to all the wonderful folks who collaborated to make this happen. You can read all about my visit here:

To learn more about how you can bring CritterKin to your school, visit the Program Page:

And don’t forget to check out the amazing stories of joyful collaboration and project based learning here:

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Posted by on Jul 10, 2015 | 0 comments

Jena Ball – What Do Your Shoes Say About You?


Shoe Collage1

We’d been talking about what it means to feel different – to be misunderstood because of how you look, the clothes you wear or the language you speak. The conversations stemmed from a book we were reading called Lead With Your Heart in which the main character decorates an ugly pair of white tennis shoes and wears them to school. The reaction of the other students was predictably unkind at first, and most of the students reading the story with me could understand why. As one eleven year old put it, “She was asking for trouble. You don’t want to mess with the fashion police.”

Fast forward a week. The students had had a chance to read how the challenge was resolved in the book, but more importantly had been asked to design their own shoes. We asked them to decorate their shoes so they showed what they were like on the inside.  As usual the kids surprised and delighted me with their creativity and candor as they revealed their love of rainbows and stained glass, pit bulls and Jurassic Park, and Notre Dame football. But don’t take my word for it. Here is what some of the 2nd – 4th graders had to say about their shoes:

Bianca – Go Black Hawks!

My shoes have a lot to say. I put bows on here because I have lots of friends. The rainbow shoelaces show I am a happy person, and the hearts show I am a hugger. I like to hug people. I also love cats, so there is a cat down here on the side beside the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is there because I am part French. Oh, and I love the Black Hawks! Go Black Hawks!

Emily – My Dog Shoes

My shoes show that I love my dogs and they love me. I love them like they are human. My mom has three pit bulls and my grandma has two. Grandma also has a border collie named Rocky. Pit bulls are the best dogs. They are loving and kind and sweet.

Elyssa – Bob’s Shoes

I love Bob’s Shoes because they make purple and green shoes and those are my favorite colors.  Green is also my Mom’s favorite color. Blue makes me think of watching TV. I used orange because it shows I like playing and purple because it makes me think of playing outside.

Gloria – Fuschia Shoes

I really like to paint things pink. These lines show water moving. I like the way water sounds when it moves. These lines here show trees blowing in the wind.

Arjum – You Rock!

My shoes have stars because I rock. I also made them red and green because I like Christmas. The purple and yellow are to show a cool pattern, and the blue reminds me of water.

Caleb – Notre Dame Shoes

These are my Notre Dame shoes. I made them because my brother plays football for Notre Dame. He is a defensive lineman. I love football, but I miss my brother. He left in September and I hope he comes home soon to visit.

Diego – Stained Glass Shoes

I like rainbows and stained glass a lot. I used blue because it’s my favorite color.

Shivam – Jurassic World Shoes

I made Jurassic World shoes cuz I love Jurassic World. I used yellow in my shoes because yellow is the color of a lot of dinosaurs. I used blue to show the creatures that live in the water and green to show the leaf eaters. I used red to show the meat eater animals. In my Jurassic World you can level up so I created a three star system.


Shoe Collage2


Okay, so now it’s your turn! What do your shoes say about you?







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