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Happy Halloween! I love days like today when the students bring a lot of extra energy and enthusiasm to class that can be channeled into fun, exciting activities! I hope you're loving your day, too!
Sadly, it's been exactly 14 days since my last post . . . I've been off-line due to a computer crash. My previous computer was only 3 years old (yes, I know that's ancient to computer aficionados -- but still nearly new to me!) so I intended to have it repaired, not replaced. However, the cost of repairing the crashed computer was nearly the same as the cost of purchasing an entirely new system. So, what I thought would be a 3-hour gig at Geek Squad turned into days of shopping and endless waiting, waiting, and more waiting.
The good news: I finally have a (hopefully!) trusty and reliable new computer that should last until . . . well, until it crashes, which will be much sooner than I think it should and much later than the Geek Squad technicians think it should be!  
The reason I'm sharing this: I spend so much time on the computer that I have developed tendinitis. I spend countless hours icing my wrists and forearms, wearing braces, and doing physical therapy exercises to alleviate the pain. The physical therapist said it's important to keep the forearms parallel to the floor when keyboarding. She encouraged me to elevate my keyboard by placing it on a book and then rolling up a towel in front of the keyboard to use as a wrist rest. This was my old set-up -- it was ugly, but it made a significant difference! (Please excuse the visible scratches on the desk from my one-year-old cat, Frodo, who loves to visit me while I work at the computer! I threw in a bonus photo of him!)

When I upgraded my computer, I decided to splurge on an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I purchased a split keyboard with a wrist rest and a separate number keypad . . .

 . . . and a mouse that has a thumb rest and a quick-key for Windows.

I use both with beaded wrist rests from IMAK. It's a pretty sweet set-up:

The sweetest thing about it is I've been pain-free since I started working with this keyboard and mouse! If you can relate to excessive pain in your hands, wrists, and/or forearms from excessive keyboarding, this might be worth a try! For me, being pain-free is SO worth the investment! I wish I'd purchased these a long  time ago! 
Bonus: Because the keyboard is elevated, I'm forced to sit up straighter to work on it comfortably, resulting in less back pain, as well! A win-win!
Oh, and I've finally been able to upload this year's spooky resource, which was put on hold due to being technology-free for a week. I realize it's too late to use it as a Halloween resource this year (my original intention) -- but any time is a good time for some Edgar Allen Poe! If you haven't included his creepy classic in your curriculum repertoire this year, give it a go! You -- and your students! -- will be glad you did! This interactive flip book contains everything you need to spend a day or two with this spooky story!

Also, don't forget to check the 'Extras' page, which will be uploaded with lots of new treats now that I'm back on-line!

Happy Halloween!

"All About the Books, No Trouble"

Thanks to Nashville Public Library for being all about the books . . .

. . . and for creating a great video to share with students!
Happy Friday!

Here's to Malala: One of My True Heroes!

Each year, I ask my middle school students to write an essay comparing and contrasting John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" to Mahatma Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world." They reflect on the lyrics they most agree with and why. It is one of those assignments that I hope inspires critical thinking, a broader worldview, and a sense of valuing humanity for the sake of humanity. Although I never share with my students which lyrics I aspire to, my hope and wish for each them is that they will be the change . . .
Perhaps only half a dozen times in a lifetime do we have the opportunity to bear witness to extraordinary people who are changing the world in such powerful and positive ways that their names will still be known a hundred years from now. I believe Malala Yousafzai is one of those genuinely extraordinary people.
I'm so happy that Malala was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless global work for peace, understanding, education, and girls' rights to equality in cultures where they are suppressed and oppressed!
Here's to Malala . . . a young woman who truly is the change she wishes to see in the world! May she inspire our students. May she inspire our teachers. May she inspire each of us!

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