Know Who Your Real Friends Are

Choose your friends wisely!
Choose your friends wisely!

Friends will come and go. The real friends will stay in your life and they will genuinely care about you and support you in all your endeavours. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between your real friends and your fake friends but you will get a vibe from each person you associate yourself with.

Real friends will always have your back and will always have your best interests at heart. Notice how I didn’t say that real friends are always on your side. For me personally, a real friend is someone who tells me when I am in the wrong. The last thing I would want in a friend is someone who takes my side even when I am in the wrong. It is down to this that people tend to go down the wrong path in life.

A real friend will also help you in your time of need. They will be there for you and will encourage you to do anything you put your mind to. When you ask them for help, they will be there and will show their support every step of the way. They will also make time and go out of their way to help you.

Friends are crucial with your daily habits and how you behave around people. If you surround yourself with negative people, you will naturally pick up the habits of your friends. Surround yourself with those people who have good habits and who treat others with respect.

What qualities would you want in a friend? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Source: Know Who Your Real Friends Are

Every School Needs a Research Group

I’m looking forward to 12:50 this Wednesday, the time that is usually reserved for teachers and students to eat lunch. Usually my lunch routine is to sign out, walk across the street (carefully), and choose between ma la tang or ma la xiang guo from one of the stalls that cater to mostly Chinese college students. Sometimes I just go to my school cafeteria and get a salad. But this Wednesday I’m going to arrange to get my salad to go, as a group of us is meeting to discuss an article about teaching.

I’m extremely busy this week, too. In my role as design teacher, I’m in charge of getting the props made in time for the PYP production. I’ve also got a bunch of units that I would like the students to finish up neatly before Chinese New Year on Thursday. And then there’s my homework for my doctoral degree; I count 16 articles in my reading queue of similar length to the one we’re supposed to read for this 12:50 Wednesday discussion group before I head off to Thailand for the holiday. And yet I’m making the time to read this one as well.

In the past, I’ve facilitated optional book clubs that were filled with participants and rich discussion, and mandatory ones in which all the teachers did was complain. I’ve put together a research group in which teachers read peer-reviewed articles, and I’ve opened my classroom to research database trainings. I’ve experienced a range of responses from teachers about these efforts; Some think it’s normal, some think it’s a waste of time, some are always too busy to read a 6 page article. Some think it’s too inconvenient to arrange their salad to be put in a to go container.

But this is the work, guys. This is the stuff of a profession. We read and we read and we grapple with ideas. We confront our biases and well-intentioned beliefs with arguments from the evidence. We are not simply employees, we are students of learning and cognition. We are teachers and we are learners.

Now, let’s go study!


The Benefits of the Copy Stage of Making

In Learning in the Making: How to Plan, Execute, and Assess Powerful Makerspace Lessons, I propose a model for the stages of making.

I believe that the heart of making is creating new and unique things. I also realize that in order for this type of making to occur, there needs to be some scaffolding so that maker learners can develop a foundation of knowledge and skills. This post focuses on the Copy Stage of this model.

  • Copy – make something almost exactly as someone else has done.

In this age of information abundance, there really is an unlimited number of DIY resources, tutorials, Youtube videos, online instructors and instructions on making all kind of things. These resources provide a good beginning for acquiring some solid foundational skills and knowledge for learning how a make something one has never made before.

For a recent classroom activity, I wanted students to learn about and use Adafruit’s Circuit Playground. Some students made a Circuit Playground Dreidel (they learned about dreidels from an Orthodox Jewish student who was in my class and they loved it!) using the directions found at, and others made the Circuit Playground Scratch game with the directions found at I provided them with these directions and the expectation that the learners follow them pretty much on their own with me acting as an explainer and coach when they ran into difficulties. Here is a video of my learners enjoying their newly made dreidels.

The benefits of beginning maker activities with the Copy Stage includes:

  • Basic Skill Development and Acquisition
  • Foundational Skills for More Advanced and Creative Projects
  • Following Step-By-Step Directions
  • Positive Problem-Solving When Obstacles Occur
  • Asking for Help From Peers
  • A Sense of Accomplishment About Finishing a Project
  • Enjoying the Use of Finished Products They Made

There has been a fair amount of criticism leveraged against “paint-by-numbers” types of STEM and maker kits. This criticism revolves around the stifling of the creativity of learners. I contend that learners need foundational skills so that they can be freed up to be creative. Think about learning how to cook or play an instrument. The basic and foundational skills need to be there in order for the makers to go in directions that are new and creative for them. For example, I spent several decades as a ceramic artist, making wheel thrown and altered pottery. I needed to know how to throw a decent bowl before I could go in that direction (and yes, my pottery in this image began as wheel thrown cylinders).


Speak slowly with voices down Listen carefully the nature’s sound Listen when the river burbles And when the brook ripples A rustling sound in the glade Listen calmly standing in a shade Let the nature answer your questions Get the answers in its expressions Listen to the leaves rustling Feels like they are whispering Listen... Continue Reading →

Book Review

The Emerald Tablet by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios What do Indiana Jones and Benedict Hitchens have in common? They are archaeologists who seem to get into a lot of trouble and caught up in the wrong crowd. This is the second book by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios with the character Benedict Hitchens, and I don’t think it…

Going On A STEM-Maker Journey WITH My Students

Last semester, I worked with a few high school students to create a project for the New Mexico Governor’s STEM Challenge. Being a learner-centric, process-oriented educator (hence, the name of my blog – User Generated Education), I embraced the following practices during this project.

  • Learners selected and developed their problem statement and guiding question.
  • Learners naturally tapped into one another’s strengths, managing their strengths without any intervention from me. Some were good at problem conception, others at envisioning solutions, others at research, and still others at creating the graphics.
  • My role was that of resource provider and feedback provider. I shared and explained the challenge requirements, reviewed the qualities of valid websites, gave feedback on their research and written work, and provided them with materials and tools such as Arduinos.
  • Community resources were used reinforcing that communities contain experts – that teachers don’t have to be experts at everything. We visited the local makerspace so the learners could learn and use their 3d printers and laser cutter.
  • Given the nature of this project-based, problem-based format, grading was based strictly on class participation using the criteria of, “Worked on the project during class time.”

Although, I often approach my classroom instruction using the practices as specified above, this one took me even farther from a place of knowing. They selected CO2 emissions and a chemistry-based solution of which I knew very little, so I was not a content expert. We learned about this together. I had a little experience with Arduinos but not lots so I was not a technology expert. We learned a lot more about how these worked together. We went on this journey together and I loved being a co-learner with my students.

Here is a highlight video of their project:

Much to my chagrin, they did not win an award (19 awards were given to the 43 entries). Their rewards, though, cannot be overstated:

  1. They learned some concrete and practical skills from going to the local makerspace, and getting instruction on their 3D printers and laser cutter. They also helped them work out some difficulties they had troubleshooting problems with the Arduino part of the project.
  2. They experienced the rewards and frustrations of working on a months long project including persistence, having a growth mindset, dealing with failure, and following through with a project through its completion.
  3. One of the students has pretty much checked out of school. She was mostly fully engaged throughout the duration of this project.

Even though their excitement about attending and presenting their project was obvious during the hour long ride home as they spent that time brainstorming ideas for projects for next year’s Governor’s STEM Challenge.


Infamous Pirate

In the old days traveling had a mayor inconvenience, if we can call it that, just an inconvenience, but in fact your own integrity, and physical security was at risk, not only you could loose your money and goods, but your life, and women be abused sexually by the bandits, even kidnapped.


A highwayman was a robber who stole from travellers. This type of thief usually travelled and robbed by horse as compared to a footpad who travelled and robbed on foot; mounted highwaymen were widely considered to be socially superior to footpads.

Such criminals operated in Great Britain from the Elizabethan era until the early 19th century. In many other countries, they persisted for a few decades longer, until the mid or late 19th century. But of course robbery on the roads, and piracy on the many Seas of the World, have been common since the early annals of History.

And elsewhere around the World, even today Piracy on the High seas its common.


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Pirates Hold At Gunpoint.

I guess we will never get rid of it, until every Human being on the planet turns if not into a Saint, at least into an honest man, or woman for that matters, they were also cases of ladies of who robbed the Highways, and the High Seas.

Jacquotte Delahaye Lady pirate

The above images  romanticized portraits of such nefarious individuals, more likely they were as ugly as the deeds, that they perpetuated.

But lets get to the point, today Cyberspace its a new dimension of traveling, and due to total lack of regulation, and lack of responsibility from our governments, and the many sharks of profiteering it thrives with old style Highwaymen, and Pirates, who do their business, by extracting ransom from the common sheep flock, that mean us the common person, now days titled the consumer, forced to pay a ransom to navigate unmolested into the dangerous, and full of Highwaymen, and Pirates of Cyberspace.

With not privacy to protect, or be invaded by adds, and soliciting, like there’s no tomorrow, they may even hold your computer for ransom, or spy to rob you, at least Dick Turpin got caught and was hanged from the neck.


An account in The Gentleman’s Magazine for 7 April 1739 notes Turpin’s brashness: “Turpin behaved in an undaunted manner; as he mounted the ladder, feeling his right leg tremble, he spoke a few words to the topsman, then threw himself off, and expired in five minutes.”  

Dick Turpin Grave

I am not a vicious man claiming for capital death to such individuals, but yes, like maybe most of you will like an end to that vicious invasion of privacy, and endless soliciting, that has become the experience of traveling Online, and the fact there’s almost no way to travel undisturbed, if not paying for protection, itself the reason to countless legal scams, used  by the same companies you pay to protect you.  They thrive on your fear and impotence.


“Beliefs” About How Students Learn can Only Get You So Far

What are your beliefs about student learning? How do students best learn? If you’re like me you’ve been asked at the start of a PD session or a faculty meeting to discuss your deeply-held beliefs about some aspect of student learning in a Think-Pair-Share or a gallery walk. Or maybe you were interviewed for a teaching position and asked to expound upon them.

Beliefs are fine when it comes to religion or values. Beliefs fall short when it comes to facts about, say, gravity. Whatever you believe about gravity – such as the elementary student who believes that when you drop an apple and a bowling ball at the same height then the bowling ball will land first – is useless, or even detrimental to progress. It is better to learn facts whenever you’re talking about situations comparable to gravity, because one’s beliefs can feel intuitive, but also be wrong. Take the example of learning styles. You may feel deep down in your bones that a student is a visual learner, just like you, but the evidence that such a categorization exists or can best be addressed with instruction tailored for visual learners has long been debunked (i.e. Kirschner, 2017; Willingham & Dobolyi, 2015). Believing in something before evidence comes to light is one thing; Believing in something after mountains of evidence has proven something unlikely to be true is malpractice.

Beliefs about how students learn can also be well-intentioned, but result in further disadvantaging the very students you were meant to help. Take what we have learned from the whole language vs. phonics wars of years past; By forgoing “boring” phonics instruction in elementary schools in order to “nurture” a love of reading through discovery, we found that students weren’t learning to read and therefore would unlikely end up as life-long readers. Reading is a great example of how talking incessantly about our beliefs together around the round table is often a waste of time because the science is quite clear on what constitutes effective reading instruction (National Reading Panel, 2000). I fear that talking about our beliefs in cases comparable to reading instruction only leads to the vindication of myths (Macdonald et al., 2017) that end up doing a disservice to kids; “We may all think differently from each other about x, but since we are all entitled to our opinions, I am just as right as anyone else.”

Instead of hashing out our beliefs about learning – which often can be answered by findings from scientific research – it seems more productive to spend our time defining our goals. Unlike individual beliefs about how students learn, it is entirely up to us to determine the goal of education. There are many to choose from, such as:

The ultimate goal of school is…

  • For students to have a pleasant and memorable childhood
  • For students to get a good job when they’re done
  • For students to be prepared for (and get into a good) university
  • For students to be socialized into our country’s way of doing things
  • For students to grow into good, well-rounded people
  • To raise a generation that can prevent the impending climate crisis
  • To erase inequality in this world

As you can see, educational goals can be so radically different from each other that adopting and pursuing any one of them can radically change the nature of a school. If a teacher’s ultimate goal is the first goal in this list, “For students to have a pleasant and memorable childhood”, he will probably find it unethical to force kids to do anything they do not want to do, such as taking achievement tests or doing boring things. It is probably important to him that the school generously carves out free, unstructured play in the timetable in lieu of structured phonics lessons, or perhaps he rejects the idea of adults determining a timetable altogether. If he accidentally winds up at a school that emphasizes academic progress in reading and math, he will likely butt heads with administrators and colleagues, and certain parents may fight for their children to not be in his class. Whenever there is a mismatch between the goals of the organization and the goals of the individual, this sort of tension will occur, especially if the goals were never made explicit. Are all international schools clear about their goals when recruiting teachers and admitting families? I don’t think so.

So, to put it bluntly, I don’t really want to listen anymore to what Greg The Biology Teacher believes about how students learn. To illuminate how the mind works, how humans sense information in one’s environment, process it in consciousness, encode it into long-term memory and retrieve it and manipulate it in working memory… we can go to science for that. What I do care about is what your goals are. And in this world of international education, where every school can set its own goals, handpick its own faculty, and construct its own ethos, I say schools should go ahead and PICK ONE. They can start with lists like the incomplete one I included above. Once the school has clearly defined and articulated its educational goal, the school can, with steadfast resolve and laser-focus, start making moves towards achieving the promise of that goal. And job-seeking teachers and prospective parents can choose whether or not to apply there.

– Zach Groshell @mrzachg


Kirschner, P. A. (2017). Stop propagating the learning styles myth. Computers and Education, 106, 166–171.

Macdonald, K., Germine, L., Anderson, A., Christodoulou, J., & McGrath, L. M. (2017). Dispelling the myth: Training in education or neuroscience decreases but does not eliminate beliefs in neuromyths. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(AUG), 1–16.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. NIH Publication No. 00-4769.

Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The Scientific Status of Learning Styles Theories. Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 266–271.


First Confident Post after New Year. 💕💯

This was a personal experience that I would like to share with whoever reading this.

Well, it was last year when my alliance was fixed, and I was engaged right after that. I had like 4 solid months for marriage. An important interval where every bride would be of mixed emotions. Just like that, I was too. Just after a couple of weeks after I got married, I had so many pimples all over my face. A completely clueless situation where you just don’t understand why it is happening so. Maybe because of a few stress or the feeling of fear to new life, coz they say stress is the major reason behind. I was totally depressed with that. I didn’t know what to do or how to face people, because that is the time so many visit you, the “new bride”.
The questions, laughter, hate, and all those I underwent are something so painful. People usually care less about asking “Hey how is your new life?”. Instead, they love asking, “What is wrong with your face? You never had this before?”. They ask you all the “Why & How” factors, when you’re already dying over it. I would also agree that I had good sweet people on my side who never questioned about it directly to me nor did they comment on it. Each and every day after marriage were the days where I used to sit in the room and cry to my husband. I couldn’t help saving or controlling myself from that depression as a very few people around kept adding stress with hell lot of questions and sarcasm. This doesn’t may sound too problematic to a few reading this. But being a girl, carrying so much inside, couldn’t tell anyone about it, couldn’t guess what’s happening around, I felt lost in the period where I was supposed to be happy. Those tears, regrets, guilt lead me to take a decision on what could be done to solve that little issue. I started doing all the possible ways to clear it. Had plenty of water, detoxing my body in natural ways, healthier foods, vegetables. Of all, the best thing I did was, I stopped stressing myself over the questions and hurtful words from anyone. I stayed calm, positive. No matter what happens I decided not to react. Doing that so longer fetched me the most unexpected results. I cleansed not just my face and body, but also my soul, thoughts, and mind.
We, humans, usually when facing something become frustrated and angry over it. I was the same before. Instead, using the same as a weapon to build me became more easier that pleasing anyone or minding them. It is completely useless to cry over things that worry us. Take it as a challenge and become mentally and physically stronger. Today, I’m thanking people who pulled me down. 💫🌟
Stay positive. Stay blessed. ♥

© Yashica Priya

Grand Turk Island

If you blink, you will miss it. The island of Grand Turk is only 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. The only way to visit Turks and Caicos via cruise ship is through the Grand Turk cruise port.

Panoramic view of Grand Turk photographed from Deck 11 of the Carnival Elation.

For the Carnival Elation second port of call on a five day itinerary, we decided to go with the flow. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rent a car, or take a group excursion.

It’s us again

A gentleman approached me as soon as we walked through the Duty Free shop. He asked what I was interesting in doing and seeing. He offered us a two hour tour for half the rate of what Carnival charges. We were on a open air tram with people from Chicago and some Jamaicans from New York. It was a good time.

Grand Turk is still recovering from back to back Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The land is not suitable to produce anything. There are two import deliveries every week.

Donkeys and wild horses roam the island freely. There are areas with pink flamingos, although we did not see any during our excursion. We probably saw more donkeys than humans. Apparently everyone was recovering from Christmas parties the night before.

Donkeys were very concentrated near the lighthouse.

With just over 3,000 residents, most homes do not have addresses. Residents are known for the color of their home or the owner’s name. When two cruise ships are docked, the travelers outnumber the locals.

There is a small airport that offers commuter flights to Providenciales (Provo).

The beach is literally steps away from the ship dock. The left side is rocky, but easy to find conch shells.

The dry and sunny weather is the perfect combination for sea salt production. Remnants of the low profiting “white gold” that ended in the 1960’s are still around.

Average of 350 sunny days a year.

I was mesmerized by how beautiful the water was. I have never seen the ocean have a glow like I saw in Grand Turk.

The darker blue area is called “The Grand Turk Wall” because of a 7,000 ft plunge.

We drove through the capital of Turks and Caicos, Cockburn Town, and made a stop in the “downtown” area for shopping, food and drinks.

Todd’s- the oldest store on the island. Built in the 1880’s.
Historic Lighthouse at the Northernmost part of Grand Turk.

After the island tour, I had a few hours to hang out at the beach and enjoy the crystal clear water. I walked along the beach to the popular Jack’s Shack hangout. I was looking forward to seeing their Golden Doodles (one passed away Dec 2nd) digging in the sand.

I found this doggy minding his business.
Margaritaville Grand Turk located steps from the beach.
Lifeguard on Duty
South end of the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Best spot for conch shells. Oceanside massage huts.

I wanted my passport stamped, but the office was closed due to the holiday. I spent the rest of the time buying souvenirs and walking around the John Glenn Mercury 7 open air museum. His space craft launched from Port Canaveral, and landed in the Atlantic Ocean, near Grand Turk.

Splashdown Grand Turk. Replica of John Glenn’s spacecraft at the airport.
On the way back to Port Canaveral.

Kelsie Lou

Source: Grand Turk Island