Monthly Archives: January 2016

Compliment Cones: A Dollar Investment Yields Big Dividends



These little, rubber cones have brought smile after smile to my classroom for the past several years.  A  colleague introduced them to me; and when she moved, I inherited her stash.  Now they are a regular part of my teaching.

Here are ways to use them:

Are you one of the first to post your warm up on Google Classroom?  You get a compliment  cone!

Did you capitalize properly? You get a compliment cone!

Did you put a lot of effort into a small assignment? You get a compliment cone!

Did you offer an insightful answer?  You get a compliment cone!

Did you take a healthy chance and share your writing with the class? You get a compliment cone!

Were you a leader in class? You get a compliment cone!

Is your group on task? You get a compliment cone!

Did you notice a typo in my writing? You get a compliment cone!

The possibilities are endless.

You can find them at Dollar Tree, Amazon and other retailers.

One  caveat:  this year, my 9th graders have found great delight in suctioning them to the tables so they make popping sounds when they remove them.  No good deed, lol.

If you use Compliment Cones, please tell us how below!




#SmarterSunday: Idle Minds Are The Angels’ Work


This article made me reframe the use of the word “busy.”  I try not to describe myself as “busy” and when people say, “You’re busy, Heather,” I try to stress that I’ve learned to say “yes” to things that give me energy and “no” to what doesn’t make me happy.

But you know what? I still over-extend myself and have an endless to-do list. I recently said to a friend, “Yeah, I have a tendency to expect too much of myself.” She turned hear head to me, blue eyes wide, and said, “Ya think?”

Anyone else in the same situation?

I recently came across No Time To Think by Kate Murphy and found the missing link – allowing myself to do nothing.  “Idle mental processing” allows  you to be more empathetic,  more creative, and a better problem-solver.  Sign me up.

Here are my four words for 2016, inspired by No Time To Think and this #Success Saturday post.  I hope I can live up to them.



Digital Detox: The Nine Day Fix


IMG_0567I took nine days off from social media. For me, that meant no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  I wanted to see what it would be like to digitally disconnect.

I am also dealing with the terminal illness of a loved one, so my patience for people complaining about minor things is at an all-time low. His sickness has also made me reconsider how I interact with important people in my life.

These three factors made me decide a break from the digital lifestyle was in order

What have I learned since December 23rd?

  1. I  checked Facebook too damn much.  I didn’t realize how much of a habit it had become.  And for what?  IT’S MOSTLY EPHEMERA, INCLUDING WHAT I POST.  It can provide a false sense of intimacy with people. It was taking time away from being with the people next to me. It was embarrassing to realize how often my fingers automatically tried to press of the white F on my phone the first two days of this break.

2.  I had to find another way to unwind my brain. For example, when I had a break at work, I’d sometimes click on Facebook to just escape from my job to see what’s going on in the world.  For the past nine days, I couldn’t do that.  I read magazines and the newspaper more.  I read news from actual news websites more often, instead of Facebook pals telling me what I should read.   Sometimes I did nothing. Which leads me to…

3. It’s nice do nothing.  The line at the bank last Saturday was approximately ten people deep. Instead of getting out my phone, I people watched.  I was still and quiet.  It was enjoyable to stand in line like it was 1999. This happened all week at the grocery store, Wawa, wherever.  I noticed the world around me much more. My brain was more quiet. This clip from Louie C.K. on Conan says it all about being alone. Start at 1:00.

4. There’s nothing wrong with checking social media to see what’s up – I’ll just do it less often.  Right now, once a day, in the evening is my plan.  I naturally enjoy people, their stories, their photos, their insights.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Ultimately, I want to be more physically present for myself and the people in the room.

Have you ever tried a digital detox?  What was it like? What did you learn?