Facilitated Learning and Garnering Interest in Learning Using Technology for Special Education

Students in special education have strengths and weaknesses. Teachers who accommodate and modify instruction to meet student needs will have improved learning. Temple Grandin recognizes the need for accommodating learning based on student need. For example, she states students with Autism are often visual learners. They need engagement, topics of interest, art, and less reading and oral language. (TedTalk). Using technology aids in accelerating learning and developing skills by differentiating the learning, accommodating, modifying to reach every child.

Students of all abilities learn best when the subject is of interest to them, as well as the delivery method is engaging. We all can remember that “one teacher” in our childhood who was boring, monotone in delivery, and used lecture/study/paper exams to teach. Can you remember much of anything from that teacher other than trying to stay awake in the class? Research today cites evidence that facilitated learning, using technology in class, gamification, WebQuests and other interactive approaches to teaching is far more engaging and yields higher learning outcomes than lecture-based instruction. In Dr. Elana Treat’s class, she is doing just that. She uses technology to use gamification and differentiate the students’ learning. Students are so engaged in the learning that they continue to work on their assignments even on sick days. They are learning history, current events, science, math, reading, writing. They develop soft skills of problem-solving, teamwork, collaboration, communication, all within one topical study. (Hobgood, Ormsby). Not only is the teacher the facilitator of the student’s learning, she is teaching her students to take responsibility for their own learning. The students are engaged, they are learning at their ability level (whether gifted or special needs). These skills are all 21st-century skills that employers are looking for.

In addition to transforming the classroom using computers, Internet and gamification, assistive technology has improved the learning of more significant needs. E-readers, iPad apps, text through Bookshare, digital textbooks, Dragon Speak software and other assistive technology allows students the ability to learn and participate in the classroom. (Hayes). Online schools and online classes are also alternative learning opportunities. (Sabo). Google is a great resource for special education by using the voice typing in Google Drive documents or using the vast resources of add-in features to improve writing, research, and math. Students who once struggled with organizational skills now use Google calendar to keep track of due dates, Drive to save files on, complete and turn in homework. Some students use their phones or other scanning devices to upload their written homework to the Drive and then turn in their homework. Accessibility and ease of use is common with free to low-cost technology.

“Technology has made leaps in terms of bringing special education students into the general education classroom,” states Shannon McCord. (Locke). Students who once were segregated or unable to participate with peers are now excelling, have improved self-esteem and have skills which equalize them with their peers, all thanks to using the technology available to them. (O, Chris).



Hayes, H. (2013). How Technology Is Helping Special-Needs Students Excel. Website. Retrieved February 27, 2017. From: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/03/how-technology-helping-special-needs-students-excel

Hobgood, B., Ormsby, L. ( n.d.) Inclusion in the 21st-century classroom: Differentiating with technology. Website. Retrieved February 27, 2017. From: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/every-learner/6776

Locke, (2014). ‘Bridging the Gap’: Technology in Special Education. Website. Retrieved February 27, 2017. From: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-11-26-bridging-the-gap-technology-in-special-education

O, Chris. (n.d.) Technology Benefits Special Education Classrooms – And Beyond. Website. Retrieved February 27, 2017. From: https://www.speechbuddy.com/blog/iep/technology-benefits-special-education-classrooms-and-beyond/

Sabo, R. (2013). Designing an education in the 21st century. Website. Retrieved: February 27, 2017. From: http://www.onlineschools.com/blog/designing-an-education-in-the-21st-century 

TedTalk. (2013). The world needs all kinds of minds – Temple Grandin. Website. Retrieved February 27, 2017. From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKhg68QJlo0



The Teacher’s Role in the Culturally Responsive Classroom

Module 1 Writing Assignment /Culturally Responsive Instruction

The Teacher’s Role in the Culturally Responsive Classroom

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Teachers have an important role to play in the development of the lives of their students. Not only are they teaching academic rigor, they also are teaching social expectations, affecting attitudes and mindsets of their students. This role also includes teaching respect and awareness when it comes to social, racial, cultural and economic differences.

Students come to school with their own worldview. They see things from their own experiences, cultural norms and expectations. History has already made it’s footprint upon the life of the student. The student may not even recognize that footprint exists. However, the historical (recent or even generational) imprint affects expectations and thinking patterns due to race, culture, poverty. It affects the way the student sees the world around him as well as how others think of him. Experiences affirm what he knows about himself and his world or affects how others see him.


These cultural norms also affect how students learn. For example, in African-American cultures, developing a relationship with the student is imperative before the student learns academically with the teacher. Direct eye contact with a person in authority is considered disrespectful in some cultures, whereas it is expected in most classrooms. In some cultures, a student is to sit quietly and be obedient, as compared to African-Americans who are louder and more boisterous. In the first example, a teacher may find the student withdrawn and in the other the student to be a troublemaker. The effective teacher learns what the cultural norms are with her students. She not only teaches flexibility to her students, she too learns to be flexible. Students need to develop the ability to move between their primary culture as well as the dominant culture. (Tileston, Darling 2008). The teacher facilitates the student learning that ability, by teaching how to function in the dominant culture (language, social expectations, academically), while acknowledging and valuing the primary culture.

There are many cultures to take in to consideration. Not only are there race and nationality differences, but also that of poverty. There is economic poverty but also deficit thinking, learned helplessness and low achievement. The teacher’s role is to assist the student in overcoming these obstacles and create an environment which promotes success. Failure is not an option. The teacher can model how to deal with mistakes and failures. By encouraging attempts, teaching how to learn from mistakes, possibly even learning to laugh at mistakes, the student learns how to grow emotionally.  There is so much a teacher can do to help her students be successful whether in economic poverty or emotional. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2r55tAOXAc)

Collectivism is highly valued in a majority of the world population. The values of the family unit such as obligation, duty, tradition, harmony, family integrity and interdependence is considered more important than that of the individual in these cultures. (Tileston, Darling 2008). Americans highly value individualistic traits and therefore, teachers may not consider this mindset when planning lessons. However, this is an important belief system for teachers to take into consideration when working with students of other cultures as it affects the student’s thinking and practices within the classroom.  Teachers can support the student by implementing strategies which encourage students according to their cultural mindset. These strategies may include cooperative learning, affirmation,  inquiry-based projects and group discussions. Individualist vs. Collectivist Cultures

Vocabulary is another area that needs to be addressed when working with diverse cultures and children in poverty. Students coming from other countries, especially ELL students, will not have the vocabulary foundation necessary to understand tasks assigned. Even students who have been in the country for some time and have developed conversational English understanding may continue to have challenges with academic language, especially in middle to high school years. Pre-teaching vocabulary is crucial. It is important to be proactive and not assume all students understand the vocabulary presented. This is also true for students who live in poverty. According to a study by Hart and Risley in the 1960’s, on average, children from welfare homes had less than one-third the vocabulary as that of a child in a professional home. (The Early Catastrophe Article).

Culture is extremely important to most people. It is where we come from, our home, our roots. It is where we are accepted and affirmed. These cultures differ by traditions, practices, and belief systems. The cultural differences can either divide or enrich the lives of students. Teachers have the wonderful opportunity to enrich the lives of the students by teaching cultural understanding in the classroom. Students can share their language, talk about their traditions with their peers, compare and contrast holiday traditions. This allows the teacher to teach relationship building skills, flexibility, caring, open dialogue.  One of the most exciting examples I have seen recently is a middle school assignment called, “Write Your Story.” In the assignment, the students are given a lengthy time to basically build their own family tree. They write and present to the class who they are, where they come from, share traditions, stories of family members and create presentations in which to share their story with their peers. This assignment has allowed students to delve deeper into their family history and affirmed their story as well as their culture. It also allows opportunities for others to learn more about the culture of their peers.

The teacher’s role in a culturally responsive classroom has no place for prejudice towards racial differences, cultural differences, poverty, stereotypes, learned helplessness, or deficit thinking. Instead, her role is to create a classroom where differences are appreciated, and culture is honored. Students who live in poverty have hope and are supported. Students are expected to participate, learn and grow. There is no room for failure, meanness or hate. The teacher envisions their student successful and dreams are fulfilled. Teachers cannot change the world, but they can change one life at a time.

Additional video clip resources can be found at Edutopia: Five-Minute Film Festival: Culturally Responsive Teaching



Five-Minute Film Festival: Culturally Responsive Teaching. (2014, September 26). Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/five-minute-film-festival-culturally-responsive-teachingGay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Individualist vs. Collectivist Cultures. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkUVe6KzAJU

Poverty in the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2r55tAOXAcThe Early Catastrophy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://www.aft.org//sites/default/files/periodicals/TheEarlyCatastrophe.pdf

The Early Catastrophy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://www.aft.org//sites/default/files/periodicals/TheEarlyCatastrophe.pdf

Tileston, D. W., & Darling, S. K. (2008). Why culture counts: Teaching children of poverty. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.


Special Education in the Middle School Setting



I’ve been off the Blogging grid for quite some time now. After my last blog, I was transferred from being an elementary special education teacher to a secondary special education teacher, especially working with MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS! YIKES! I need to watch my words. Things I said I would “never do” always come back to haunt me. I NEVER wanted to work with those hormonal, drama filled kiddos who were all taller than me. Give me the kiddos who adore their teacher, love the challenge of learning to read and do math. I certainly did not want to be thrown back into middle and high school again. It really wasn’t my thing when I was a student! …BUT GOD! God had other plans. Once again, He proved He had a good plan when He gave me a new assignment.

Working on the secondary side has been hard work, lots of overtime, a ton more paperwork, stressful, yes–hormonal and drama filled (mine and theirs, just kidding) but oh, so rewarding! I work with a phenomenal team, we have a wonderful group of students we work with and the challenge has been great! I love working with these students! The opportunities to make a difference in their lives has been so rewarding. The pace of their growth has increased exponentially! Oh, did I mention I had to remember how to do Algebra all over again?

This challenge brought about other changes as well. I am now a college student again. Hopefully by the end of this year, I will have my masters degree and be several credits into my Ed.D in Educational Leadership.  But enough about me.

Throughout the last two years of working with special education students in middle and high school, I have come to recognize an area of need that is common to many if not most special education students. It is the area of Executive Functioning (EF). I began to recognize that my students were all having difficulties with keeping up with homework assignments, organizing their materials, using good study habits, having difficulties with test taking, overactive or underactive, attention, impulse control, memory and other skills associated with EF. At first, I thought it was due to immaturity or lack of motivation, but as I researched it (this topic will be part of my thesis as well), I learned that these were actually symptoms of a much larger problem and were all related to their disability. The disabilities most often were found in students with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autism (ASD), Asperger Syndrome (Asp). It was also in one form or another with most every other diagnosis and it affected nearly every core class they were in.

As the year progressed last year, I began to collect lesson plans which addressed these areas in order to teach skills and strategies. Over the summer, I was given the opportunity to create a Learning Strategies class with a syllabus and course outline. My co-worker was very helpful as well. She had started a collection of her own. We bounced ideas off of each other throughout the year. Once I started college, I learned that the area of Executive Functioning, Brain Based learning, Visual Thinking, metacognition and using Multiple Learning Styles in the classroom were all research based methods which have proven to be successful. Here we were already using many of the strategies and had developed lessons specifically addressing EF weaknesses.

I also began to see progress in the lives of my students. I created a framework for my students to work within, had clear expectations, scaffolded lessons, monitored the students for success, held them accountable for their work. Most importantly, we developed a relationship where they knew I value them and want to see them successful. And successful they are!

Students who were failing 1st-semester last year, having as many as 35+ missing assignments in several classes are now on the honor roll this year! There was only one student out of the last 3 semesters who had more than 10 missing assignments this semester. Students who had the “deer in the headlights” look, full of panic and feeling overwhelmed are becoming independent and are organized.

In upcoming weeks, I will share some of the books and authors which have been invaluable to me. I may also share some of my strategies with you. For now, here are a few of the most important strategies you can get started with:

  • #1: Build a rapport with your students. Get to know them well. Know their story. Really “see” your students. I pray for my students all the time and ask the Lord to help me see them through His eyes. I know their strengths and weaknesses. I know what they want to do with their lives. I can envision the person they are on their way to becoming.
  • Help them see the value of what they are doing and why. It isn’t just an assignment for a grade sake. It is learning lifelong skills, preparing for the future, learning problem-solving skills and more.
  • Create a sense of structure for them. Especially in the lives of an ADHD, their world is too large. They see all the details but can’t organize it or see the whole picture. Providing a sense of structure or framework for thinking is critical for organizing their world. I have clear expectations, hold them accountable.
  • Have a great sense of humor. There will be good days and bad, but a great sense of humor helps maintain balance and sanity.
  • Provide a strong support system for your student and keep everyone on the same page. Most often, I use emails  (great for tracking data too). I have a para in the classrooms that the student struggles with. She lets me know what the lessons are, if the student has turned in homework, any needs or successes she observes. The student, para, teacher, parents and I all work together as a team.
  • Teach specific skills to address the EF dysfunction. Model those skills and strategies. For example: how to study for a test, how to remember information, how to write notes, how to find information in a textbook, what is main idea/what is a detail, how often to clean out the locker, what papers to keep and get rid of, how to manage school papers and folder, when to clean out the folder, how to manage distractions, how to prepare a place to study at night. Specific lessons are taught on each of these topics. I also teach specific lessons on Visible Thinking (how to think and how to think about what you are thinking about). Don’t assume your student knows this and can apply it by the time they are in middle school. It sounds strange to those of us who do these things automatically, but it may not come naturally for EF students.
  • Scaffold learning. Support heavily initially, but gradually diminish support. Teach the student to think and do for themselves. Celebrate success, both privately and in class. Foster independence. I tell my students, “My job is to work myself out of a job.”
  • Teach students to use resources which make their life easier. Did you know that Google Docs has a feature where you can speak directly into the computer, Chromebook or other device and it types the words into the document? It works just as well as DragonSpeak. Bookshare.org is a great resource for students with disabilities. It even has audio textbooks. Some of our other textbooks are online…no more lost textbooks. One of our students kept losing his homework. He now scans his homework and saves it on Drive and shares it with the teacher. No more lost homework. Google Docs also has an add-in feature called EasyBib. Bibliographies can be created within minutes. Kindle and Audible are also great technology resources.
  • My Skills Math group is now using Ablenet Equals mathematics program which is designed especially special education students in K-12. In one semester, we have seen nearly a 40% increase in academic understanding in 3/4 of our students and a 17% increase in the student with the smallest percentage of progress. This curriculum is using multi-sensory learning, reinforces vocabulary, is sequential and is very structured. It not only is great for low functioning students, it also supports their executive functioning with all the visuals it includes. The data collection tools, worksheets and assessments are great! It even has goals and objectives for IEPs.

So, you see, I’ve been in a great growth pattern myself over the last couple of years but am learning a great deal in supporting my students who have a variety of disabilities. Here are a few of the successful stories from last year to date:

  1. One of my students was so successful, we discontinued services. It took him a while to feel comfortable with the idea. He said he loved my class so much and didn’t want to leave. He occasionally comes to see me just to say hi and to let me know he misses me. (Awww, warm fuzzies over this kiddo. Got to love a kid who loves his teacher).
  2. Three-fourths of my Skills Math (the high group) from last year are now in the mainstream math classroom.
  3. Some of my students diminished services 50% from last year.
  4. Every single student on my caseload from last year to this year have dramatically reduced or even eliminated late and missing assignments! (YAY! The regular ed teachers sure notice this one).
  5. Every one of the students are now more independent, are using technology to improve their organizational skills, need less adult support to maintain those skills and are taking personal responsibility for their learning.

Most importantly, I give 100% credit to God for His wisdom. He put me in this position. I am so very thankful to be given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of my students. He gives me wisdom, patience, and understanding on how to work with these individuals. It is because of His wisdom that these strategies were first implemented, then by His grace that I was given an opportunity to go back to college to learn about the research, best practices, and new strategies. Next, I am thankful to be working in a great school district with awesome co-workers! How many people can go to work and love their job and nearly 100% of the people they work with. Even on my worst day, I still love my job….like most sped teachers, I could do with having less paperwork, but that is another blog for another day. For now, I am blessed and am loving the opportunity to work with MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS!

What kind of role model am I? Am I “good enough”?

I have been resting up all week during spring break. It gave me a lot of time to rest, catch up on things I had let go for awhile, get some school work completed. Here it is the last day of break. I’m rested, looking forward to going back to school and working with my students there. Today, though, I’m reflecting on my own children and grandchildren.

During the week, I got to have dinner with my youngest daughter.She works so much it is hard to get any time with her right now. It was really nice just sitting at the restaurant and just talking.

T he rest of the week, I didn’t get much time with the rest of the family. My oldest daughter went out of town to visit grandpa-in-law with her husband and children. They stopped at the cemetery to visit grandma-in-law, showing their little daughters where their family roots were, paying respects. I am so glad she got to do that. I think it is important for my granddaughters to know where they comes from, to develop a sense of where she belongs. It also was good for grandpa to know grandma is still loved and is honored.

It made me think of my daughter’s relationship with her grandma, my mom. She was only 4 1/2 when Mama passed, but there was a strong bond there. My mom loved her unconditionally and she knew it. I still have the last photo of them together. Mama gave her an apron that was made by her grandma for me (Grannie was my great grandmother). Grannie had made a matching set of aprons for Mama and me when I was about 4 1/2. Now here was my Mama passing it down to my daughter. I didn’t know it then, (but I somehow think my Mama knew) but that was the last time they were together as six months later, she was gone from cancer.

As I said, family heritage is very important. The intentional passing on faith, family heritage, traditions, belongings, etc. isn’t as important in our society as it was when I was younger. I am of an age now where I realize I’m not a 30-something individual. I don’t feel old, I still feel I am in my 30’s but my driver’s license, skin and body are telling me I’m older. I’m not listening to them though. I’m going to stay in my 30’s as long as I can. However, I do have to look to the future. I am now the matron of the family. I need to make sure I pass on my faith, traditions, family heritage and the things that are important to me on to my children and grand children.

Did I just say that?  Yes, I’m a grandma now. I’m too young to be a grandma of four, but I love every minute I have with my babies.

When I look for a role model on how to be a good grandma, I think of my Momo. Mama was “Mama,” not “Grandma” in my eyes. She was only 48 when she passed. That is way too young to be a “Grandma.”
My Momo is known as “one of the last of the southern belles.” That’s coming from my other southern grandma Josie. (She’s another pretty awesome woman of faith).

As I mentioned in one of my other posts, Momo led me to the Lord at the age of four. I think that is one of the main reasons she is so dear to my heart.
Every morning when I woke up, is smell her big breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, buttermilk biscuits and hot coffee wafting through the house. It was so warm and inviting. Add to that the sound of her singing old hymns in such a sweet song of reverence and love, you just knew, she knew who her Savior was.

Momo is my role model as first of all, she knows her Jesus. Every part of her puts ‘flesh’ to our Lord. She is now almost 94, bent in half from osteoporosis, but still talks about her Jesus, and lives her life simply and with joy. Her house is filled with family and the savory smell of food cooking in the kitchen as it has been for probably over 75 years. Her life is first of all a life of faith and love. Secondly, it is of family. Third, she shows her love for her Lord while she cooks and to her family as she serves. Today, it is more of the family giving back to her with making and serving the Sunday dinners at her house now, but even that is an extension of the love she gave for so many years.

Her legacy is a family who now serves the Lord in their own homes, churches and communities. There are ministers, missionaries, nurses, doctors, teachers, contractors, farmers, hairdressers, computer-IT guys, mechanics and more who are carrying on the faith and faithfulness that she modeled in her life.

So now I question myself. What kind of role model am I? I can clearly see all the mistakes I made as a mom…I suppose that’s normal. Hindsight is always 20-20 they say. I was the best mom I knew how to be. I did my best to teach my children how to love the Lord as best as I knew how. But for me, I got too busy. I worked so hard at trying to do the right thing that I never “got” it in time. God spoke to me once and said, “Be, not do.” I didn’t get it. I did more as time went on, but not while the kids were still at home. If only I had relaxed, just enjoyed my life, my Lord, my kids, my husband. But my low-self-esteem got in the way.

I always felt ‘not good enough.’ I hear it’s something a lot of people deal with. I had it bad. I wanted SO hard to be like Grandma Jessie, to live right and do right as she would always say. She always loved me unconditionally, so it wasn’t something she had said or done that was the problem. It was a lie I had picked up along the way, some things that had happened in my early childhood which seemed to confirm it and a lifetime of believing a lie.

It was the week that my first grandchild was born that it all changed. Literally days before she arrived, I had what was thought at the time to be a heart attack sent me into the hospital. They found nothing, but kept me for tests for a few days. I sat there in the bed and reflected on my life. I had spent nearly 50 years in trying to be good enough, to do it right. I stuffed my emotions, i went along with the program, whatever that was. I didn’t even know who I was or what I really wanted in life. I finally came to myself and said to heck (used stronger language than that) and told myself that I didn’t want to die like that. I wanted to live life to the fullest. I wanted to enjoy the life that God had given me. I wasn’t good enough on my own, no one is. That is why we need Jesus. I needed to be real with myself and my family.

When I left the hospital, I told my husband things were going to be different. I didn’t  know how this would all work out, we might have a few more fights, but I needed to change. He said, “Good. I was wondering when you would do that.” It’s been almost eight years now. I’ve never been happier in my life. I’ve let go of the personal expectations, what I thought were others’ expectations, even of what I thought God’s expectations for me of ‘being good enough’ was.

It’s been a long journey, but here I am. I am confident in who I am, what my talents are. I have a much better marriage, I think my kids appreciate me more.

So back to my original question for myself. What kind of role model am I? I think I am being real. I am real, I laugh and cry over my family’s victories and trials. I am responsible. I am faithful I hang in there when times get tough. I live my life to please my Lord. I model the things Momo taught me with family and food. But, it’s no longer the 1960’s when I saw her do those things. I can’t stay home and take care of my family, live on the farm and have all the healthy things she had. I can’t sing like she does. So I am learning to bring her faith (and mine) into the 21st century.

When I sing, I play CD’s and videos as I cook or clean. I love to zumba (even though I look like something is caught in my britches—I am NOT coordinated). I don’t mind though. I am free and I am having fun! If someone laughs at me, they at least had a laugh today. I can take it. If not, they’re laughing with me.

When I cook, I do it with passion. I love food and sharing it with others. I am learning to quilt, making over the old ones that Momo gave us and learning how to do quilting with my sister, who is very modern in her approach. I am doing Ancestry.com with my Dad and learning about our family, passing that on to my children. I am trying to redevelop the habit to write letters and send cards on birthdays, to reconnect with the family.

I am beginning to pass my faith along through letters, emails, and now blogging. My children and grandchildren should know about all the wonderful things God has done in my life and the lives of our family. There are so many stories to tell of healings, miracles, visions, dreams. Our lives have been a whole soap opera of comedy and drama as you’ll see in future posts.

I think some of the biggest regrets I have with my own children are that I didn’t pray with them often enough. I prayed for them, cried at night at their bedsides and in my quiet times, but not often enough to where they were participating in it with me. I regret I was too private in my life and struggles. I got frustrated too easily. I didn’t always speak up when I should.

Today though, I have changed that. I may not have done all the right things, been perfect with my kids, not “been good enough” but that is the past. My kids know my heart, they still love me, they survived and they’re good people. Today, I can learn and grow from my younger days. I am now going to be the best grandmother (Momo) I can be. I will model my faith, my love of family, share my food and recipes with them (my 3 year old grand daughter cooks with me and the 2 year old is trying). I will pass down my heritage to them.

What kind of role model am I? I am a woman of faith, full of unconditional love and is happy in her own skin, enjoying every day the Lord gives me. I think that is “good enough.”

Barbecued Chicken with Creamy Corn Casserole and Baked Beans

Today it was back to work…Monday.

I certainly didn’t want to go. It had been a lazy weekend, except for having friends over Friday night. Man, the FOOD was delicious and spending time with FRIENDS I hadn’t seen in over a month was great too. (I’ll have to share the Creamy Bay Scallop Spaghetti recipe with you another day). Saturday, I was lazy, hanging around doing nothing all day…healthy for a change, not like the 10 day head-cold right after Christmas where I lay around sick as a dog!

This weekend I also started this blog. What an amazing response from so many people…and there are even some followers! Thank you to all you who are encouraging me. Sunday was a day of worship, celebrating my FAITH in the Lord with our church FAMILY and coming home to the London Broil dinner afterwards. Like I said, I didn’t want to go back. I enjoyed my weekend way too much!


So now that I’m sharing my recipes, a friend who’s been reading my blog asked me to make corn casserole as I made it once at their house and her husband absolutely loved it. I asked, what to add as the main dish, she said, “barbecue chicken.” Okay, I was drooling as it sounded so much better than the chili dogs I was planning for Monday.

So, after work, I headed straight to the store and bought the ingredients. So, Pam, this is for you. By the way, I’m bringing the leftover corn casserole to work for you guys to finish off tomorrow. It’s way too much for just Joe and I.



The chicken was nothing more than pan frying it on the stove until the skin was lightly browned , then baked in the oven with bottled barbecue sauce over it. The beans are canned beans (which were a different brand than my usual one. Once I opened the can and tasted it, I wasn’t too pleased, so I added a little of the barbecue sauce to it and dressed it up a little). Remember I said it was Monday? I’m not cooking everything from scratch after a long day at work! The corn casserole redeemed me from this prepackaged meal.

Now, here it is…

Creamy Corn Casserole


1 can creamed corn

1 can corn, drained

1 8oz container sour cream

1/4 stick butter, melted

1 egg

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Usually I make this in a casserole dish, but this time, I put it in the cast iron skillet. I LOVE the crunchy crust it created and highly recommend the cast iron skillet. It was creamy and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside.


I also tried making it as a “one dish” recipe. I sprayed the pan with non-stick spray, then mixed all the ingredients in the pan and stuck it in the oven. No mixing dishes to wash!

Set the timer for 40 minutes and walk away. When the timer went off, dinner was done!


All I needed now was a tall glass of icy, cold sweet tea to go with it! Momo Jessie would be proud!

(In the picture to the right, notice the little cast iron skillet for the beans was a bit full, so I covered the outside with foil so it wouldn’t drip in the oven).

Sunday Lunch: Balsamic Glazed London Broil Steak, “Twice Baked” Potatoes and Pear, Feta Salad with Raspberry Dressing

 ImageToday it is just Joe and I for lunch. I wanted something a little fancy, yet didn’t break the bank. This took only 20 minutes to make and tasted phenomenal! I used pre-made products wherever possible and that helped with the timing immensely! Today I will list all the ingredients, then describe the process I prepared it in. This serves 4 people.


1 bacon-wrapped London Broil (from the butcher case, about 1 pound)

Balsamic salad dressing

Flat leaf parsley

Garlic salt

1 package Sour cream and chive potatoes prepared (from deli or dairy section)

Cheddar blend shredded cheese


1 package mixed greens salad

1 package feta cheese, crumbled

1 package craisin type cranberries

1 package chopped, candied nuts (either pecan or walnut)

1 pear


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium high. Drizzle the pan lightly with olive oil, no more than a tablespoon or so. As one cooking personality states, “A couple of turns around the pan.” Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the London Broil and lightly brown both sides. Spray a glass pie pan with nonstick spray and lay the steak in it. In a small bowl, mix about 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh parsley with 1/4 cup of balsamic salad dressing and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Pour over steak. Set it in the oven.

Lightly spray ramekins with non-stick spray. Add a single serving of the sour cream mashed potatoes to each ramekin. Set it in the oven. Set timer for 10 minutes.

(At this point, I had enough time to unload the dishwasher that had been started just before leaving for church).

Next, I pulled the salad ingredients out of the fridge and cupboard: spring lettuce, pear, dressing, feta, craisins and nuts. Then I gathered the bowls for the salad and made each salad individually.

Layer: lettuce, light sprinkle each of: nuts, craisins, feta. Thinly slice pear across the top and lightly drizzle a good raspberry dressing on top. (FYI: The bottled raspberry dressings I’ve tried are too vinegary. The one I purchased was in the lettuce section of the produce aisle. It’s a little more spendy, but I love the rich raspberry flavor of the fresh varieties and you don’t need much on each salad so it’ll last longer).

Once the timer goes off, turn the steak over and baste the meat with the drippings. Pull the potatoes out of the oven. Stir the potatoes, then put a dot of butter on top of each ramekin, then sprinkle cheese on top. Return to oven. Set the timer for another 10 minutes.

Set the table for lunch. Turn the oven off when the timer goes off and wait another 5 minutes before removing the food from the oven.

Now here I need to make a confession. I really didn’t think through the serving size of this steak. For goodness sake, it was a full pound! I took the photo for presentation with the whole thing on one plate. However, I divided it in half for each of us. The potatoes and the steak were enough for four people and I served it up as for two!

Plate up as follows: Serve a ramekin per person, cut the steak into FOUR pieces and plate next to the ramekin. Stir the glaze from the bottom of the pie plate and drizzle on top of each steak. Serve with the salad.

The cost of this fantastic, rich tasting meal was pretty inexpensive when you compare it to a restaurant meal (but tasted much better than at a restaurant).

Breakdown (approximately):

London Broil: $8.00

Potatoes: $3.00

Cheese: $2.00 (used about a 1/3 of a cup; figure about 50 cents worth)

MEAT AND POTATOES: $12.00 ($3.00 per person)

Lettuce: $3.00

Craisins: $2.00 (used only a little)

Nuts: $3.00 (used only a little)

Feta: $3.00 (used only a little)

Pear: $1.00 (used only 1/3 of it)

Salad dressing: $4.00 (used only a few tablespoons)

SALAD: $1.50-$2.00 estimated per person

TOTAL: $4.50-$5.00 per person

Roasted Vegetables with Marinated Pork Steak

A friend from work asked me to start posting my recipes when I put this photo on Facebook this last week, which prompted me to begin blogging. I received a lot of complements from it. It’s a simple go-to recipe I created a few years ago that is filling, inexpensive and tasty.

Roasted Vegetables with Pork Steak

 If you want to make this you can add any of the ingredients I mention or add/delete as you like. I vary this recipe all the time.

This only takes about 30 minutes to make it, so it’ll be a quick, hearty meal after a long hard day of work.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Roasted Vegetable Ingredients:

1-2 potatoes per person, cubed

1 zucchini, sliced per 2 people

1/2 red or white onion, cubed per 2 people

1/3 each red and green peppers, cubed

1/3 container of Portabella mushrooms, sliced per 2 people

Olive oil

Seasoning salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Celery salt


Pork Ingredients:

1 pork steak per person

1/2 cup marinade (I used a marinade from my local meat market. Just use your favorite kind.)

Put the steaks in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it.

Prepare the vegetables. as mentioned above. Keep each vegetable separate from each other. Put the potatoes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil to lightly coat. Lightly sprinkle the potatoes with seasoning salt, pepper, celery salt and paprika. (Sometimes I sprinkle with garlic powder as well).

Put the pork in a shallow dish (I usually use a cake pan or pie pan dish for the two of us).  Put the pork in the oven. 

Put the potatoes on a sprayed cookie sheet on a single layer and bake for 15 minutes, turning once at about 10 minutes in.

After 15 minutes have passed flip the pork steaks and return them to the oven. Pull the cookie sheet with the potatoes out of the oven, toss the potatoes and push off to one side of the cookie sheet. In the bowl you used for the potatoes, pour the rest of the vegetables in, drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle the seasonings on. Lay the vegetables in a single layer on the other half of the cookie sheet and return it to the oven. Set the timer for another 15 minutes.

At the 30 minute mark, the roasted vegetables and pork should be done. Test the potatoes and pork for doneness and remove from the oven if done. If not, it should only take another 5-10 more depending on how small or large your cuts are.

As seen in the photo, I mixed the vegetables together and lay it on as a base to the dish, then sliced the pork steak and served on top.


For years a pastor friend of mine told me I needed to write a book about my life. I’d been through so many things throughout my life, things which were often funny, surprising, painful, joyful, and filled with lessons learned. My husband and I always have a story to tell. I said I would write the book if ever I found out what the point of the story was. It’s been over 30 years since he told me the first time. I’ve tried to figure out what the point was, the moral to my story, if you will. I still don’t really know. However, the drive to write has been strong for the last few years and I’ve decided it’s time to just start.

My own life story began when I was born on my mother’s 18th birthday and two days after my dad’s 21st birthday. Four years later, my mother was pregnant and divorced. Life dramatically changed. As the first grandchild on both sides of the family, I was always treated as a princess and the apple of my grandfather’s eye. I still remember sitting in the washtub on the back porch when my tall and lanky grandpa came in from the fields, head brushing against the ceiling of the porch as he was so tall and would smile such a huge, loving smile. I knew I was loved unconditionally.

Sometime that year, he suddenly passed away. My Momo Jessie and I (as well as the rest of the family) were devastated. For whatever reason, that summer I stayed with my grandma. At night, I slept in her soft, feather-down bed, piled high with homemade quilts and snuggled into the warmth of those blankets and her love. Every morning I would wake up to her homemade buttermilk biscuits with Eagle Brand syrup, homemade savory sausage and bacon fresh from a neighbor’s farm, fluffy scrambled eggs  from the chickens in the yard and strong coffee brewed on the stove with lots of cream and sugar which she called ‘white coffee.’ It was so scrumptious, I’d practically wake up drooling.

One morning, when we awoke, she was still in bed and told me how she had a dream of grandpa in heaven. He was very happy and told her he loved her so much and couldn’t wait for her to join him. It was that day I decided I too wanted to go to this wonderful place where my grandpa was. This Jesus who loved us so much and who grandma and grandpa loved so much was someone I would love and have in my life as well. It was at four years old that I gave my life to Christ.

Two years later, Mama met a wonderful man who had three kids of his own. Mama was now 24 years old, remarried and had five children under the age of 6. My brother and I now had three more siblings. Mama did her best to blend the family and did a fine job of it. I grew up with a huge family of two moms, two dads, multiple grandparents, aunts and uncles and so many cousins I couldn’t count. When my step sister (three months older than me) and I graduated from eighth grade,  our graduation party was so big we needed two full sheet cakes and had the picnic outdoors since we couldn’t fit all the family in the house.

Throughout my years growing up, the themes that ran consistent in my home were: FAITH in Christ, FAMILY, FOOD, FRIENDS, FUN, FINANCES and FUTURE. These continue to be important in my life and hopefully, I’ve been successful in passing down those values to my own five children. My role models have primarily been my Grandma Jessie, My mom (now with the Lord), aunts, teachers, friends throughout the years and the Proverbs 31 woman.

One of my passions has been cooking. I think I got that from watching Grandma Jessie cook, or maybe it was how the family all came together during the meal process-cooking, eating, and cleaning up afterwards. By the way, the picture on the front page is her home. This was the one place in the whole world where I always felt loved, accepted, adored, relaxed and free to be myself. Even as a young grade-schooler, my favorite past-time was to sit out on that old porch swing, drinking some sweet tea, listening to the old country and western songs on the radio propped in the windowsill and the locust in the trees while shelling buckets of black-eyed peas for Momo.

Throughout this blog, I’ll be striving to pass those values on to you. I want you to learn from the experiences in my life. If telling my stories will draw you closer to the Lord, help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made, give you a laugh or smile, it will all be worth it.

I’m just learning to blog, so it will be an experience for us both. Hopefully I will be able to categorize the posts into chapters of sorts with the above titles so you can look for those posts easier. Feel free to comment or share along the way. I’d love if this becomes a community of family and friends. My main request from you is to please follow Momo’s rule to “live right and do right” by being nice in your comments (no critical or attacking comments, and no soliciting, thank you). Well, here goes…