Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

28/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
7 Comments

Owning Our Learning

In a Slice of Life post by Carol Varsalona this week, I was inspired to ask again my essential question about education:

How can I empower students to own their own learning?

Carol called questions like this burning questions. This is a burning question in my professional life. I’ve been saying it and trying it since 2011, when I first learned about Alan November’s book called, Who Owns the Learning? I struggle in my current situation because teaching and learning are much more traditional and academic than what I’ve been used to. I sometimes feel I am going uphill in a rowboat.

I don’t ever want to give up, but sometimes I struggle passing the learning torch on to my students.

I am trying to help students own learning, but to tell the truth I’m a little discouraged now. Here, perhaps as a reminder to myself, are some things I’m attempting:

  1. Self-assessment checklists of learning
  2. Tests can be retaken after students master the material
  3. Student learning presentations to parents by students instead of parent teacher conferences
  4. Students have a safe place to own their strengths and weaknesses, where they don’t have to pretend to be something they aren’t
  5. Authentic audiences for student work–pen pals, a global audience through global projects, Twitter, and our class and individual blogs
  6. Less emphasis on grades
  7. Figuring out problems instead of easy answers
  8. Student classroom jobs
  9. Students believe: “All are students, all are learners”

I would appreciate any advice. What am I missing that I need to try or renew?

Here are a couple of images that inspired me today:

Never stop asking questions.

A post shared by Edutopia (@edutopia) on

Image by Bill Ferriter with CC BY 2..0 license.

28/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

The Princess and the Pea

Last night, I was reminded of the old story, The Princess and the Pea. My husband is trying to heal a bad back and looking for just the right mattress.

Since we have a memory foam pad on our bed, last night’s experiment was for him to not use the memory foam. We just folded the pad over onto my side of the bed, and I fell into a big soft pillow, falling right to sleep like a princess.

However, like the princess in the story, my sleep was disrupted with a bit of tossing and turning. Unlike the princess, it was not because I felt some foreign object through all the mattresses. I felt a bit smothered by all the softness.

Tonight we’ll try something new.

21/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

It’s Mother’s Day in Bahrain

Another day of external review / inspections at our school. It’s been a lot of work and a bit of stress. Today I forgot all about my writing, and spent all evening getting my students’ Mother’s Day posts up and running for the moms. It’s now almost bedtime, and another busy day tomorrow.

For those reasons, today I’ll share my students’ Slices of Life with their sweet mamas and a picture of this lovely coffee cup I got from Hussain for Mother’s Day.

20/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
5 Comments

My Favorite Conversation with a Student Today

It was an email conversation last night, actually. (I wanted to wait and ask his permission to share it with you, and he said I could.)

Last week the U.S. sprung ahead for Daylight Savings Time. In Bahrain, as in most of Asia, there is no such time change. We had this conversation through email.

S: Hi Mrs. Denise, the time in the U.S. has jumped ahead 1 hour!!!

😮😮😮

Me: Yes, that’s right! I’m glad we don’t change!

S: I saw that from the slice of life challenge website that at 2am u.s time, they jumped ahead one hour that means they became 3 am !!!

I didn’t respond again at that time, but a week later, he sent me a followup email:

Does Donald Trump changed it?

19/Mar/2017
by Denise Krebs
9 Comments

Differentiation Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Do Jigsaw Puzzles

“Aunt Josephine? When we go to the store for puzzles, can we not get jigsaw puzzles?” I pleaded.

Wisely, she left my question unanswered and said, “We’ll see what they have when we get there.”

My seven-year-old self fretted the whole rest of the day and all the way to the dime store in town. My 10-year-old sister and I were staying for a week at Aunt Josephine’s farm.

Why we would continue to keep going back year after year when we got so homesick, I don’t know, but we persisted in the coming years. A lot of it was fun- -spending time with the baby animals, riding on the tractor and in the back of the hay wagon- -but the dark and noisy nights scared us. Farm animal noises.

Anyway, one of the things Aunt Josephine loved was jigsaw puzzles. She and my sister were enjoying putting together a difficult puzzle. I don’t know how many pieces- -maybe 500, 200, or possibly even less. I don’t remember, but the number of pieces was daunting to me! I did not enjoy helping, and it probably made me more homesick and lonely watching them do the puzzle together.

When my aunt told me she would buy a puzzle for me that I would like, I got excited, but remained skeptical. I couldn’t imagine there was such a thing, so I worried.

That evening, as she promised, she took us into town and right to the toy section.

And there, when I saw it, I jumped for joy: a cardboard puzzle in a tray, with guides to line up the 15 pieces. A puzzle that rocked a picture of a sweet kitten in a basket. My heart soared! Now that’s a puzzle. That’s the kind of puzzle I love.

“Oh good,” I said. “They have good puzzles here–not jigsaw puzzles.”

My aunt showed me the label: 15-piece jigsaw puzzle. “I guess you will be able to get a jigsaw puzzle, after all,” she said, with a smile. Then she bought me two different kitten puzzles.


I was reminded of that story this morning as I made a verb game for my students–some of whom are advanced grade five readers, as good as many native English speaking grade 5 students I’ve known. On the other hand, some of them are still learning basic English vocabulary. All of them study half of their day in Arabic subjects.

Differentiation. We can all play the games, all do the work, all learn the strategies. We sometimes need to do it at a different level, and that’s OK.

Purpose: practicing with verb forms. #differentiation #cy365 #t365project

A post shared by Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs) on

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