6 Tips for Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather in Texas

When many people think of Texas, they do not think of a place that has to worry about winter weather. However, this perception is not at all correct, particularly for Northern Texas. There are plenty of issues that can arise during the winter months, especially if winter storms occur. Snow is certainly a threat, as well as freezing temperatures or inordinate amounts of rain that lead to flooding. If you’re moving to Northern Texas or are wondering how you can better protect your home, here are some tips for getting your house ready to weather the trying winter months here in Texas.

Check out your furnace system

Before the winter months begin, take time to examine your furnace system. Most people do not regularly check their furnace and assume it’ll continue optimally running for a long time. The last scenario you want is your furnace to suddenly stop working in the winter as the temperatures rapidly drop. Make sure your furnace is clean and that all connections are secure. You might have to replace certain parts, but if you maintain regular upkeep on your furnace, you’ll avoid greater costs in the future.

Clean your gutters

This step might not be intuitive, especially right before winter, but if you live in areas of Texas that get significant rainfall or even snow, it’s vitally important. Whether it’s just rain or melting snow, there’s going to be a lot of water around your home. Make sure you give it the easiest possible route off of your home and into the ground.

Make sure everything’s insulated

startingly majority of homes in the United States are not properly insulated, so make sure yours is. In most cases, you can easily add more insulation on top of whatever you have, you just need to buy the materials and secure it in the proper areas. Once you’re done, you’ll likely see a significant decrease in your energy costs as well. During cold months, you’ll save money, be more comfortable, and avoid overexerting your heating system.

Fix any leaks

You might have a minor leak and figure it can wait a few months to get fixed, but leaks should be taken care of as soon as possible. Whether you’re just patching the leak or fixing entire sections of your roof, take care of it before heavy winter storms. What might seem like a small leak could turn into a huge problem as snow, ice, and rain put weight on your roof and occur in large amounts.

Stock up on supplies

Once rough weather occurs, there’s a high likelihood that you may be stuck in your home, possibly without electricity. Make sure you have enough food, water, and light sources to last a few days. Also, if you have pets, stock up on food for them as well. Investing in a generator is also a good idea and so is keeping extra gas on hand for your vehicles or the generator.

Avoid driving during rough weather

If the weather is particularly bad and there’s significant amounts of snow or extensive flooding, just stay off the roads. Even if you’re confident in your driving abilities, you cannot be sure that the other people on the road are safe drivers. Be smart and wait out the rough weather indoors, which shouldn’t be a problem if you stocked up on supplies.


5 Ways Students Can Participate in Activism in High School


No matter what school district you work in, there are going to be students who care about issues affecting the world. Student activism is becoming increasingly common, particularly on college campuses, but it’s also popular at the high school level. If you have students who are passionate about specific causes, support their interest and help them become more active in working to better these causes. Whether they’re passionate about the environment, civil rights, animal welfare, helping children, or something else, provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to make a difference.

Educate yourself & others

The first step high school students can take to becoming more involved in their chosen type of activism is by educating themselves and others. If they truly want to make a difference, taking the time to be informed on issues and understand the context is important. Read up on recent news and related websites or blogs in order to learn everything possible. Then, share this newfound knowledge with others through conversations or posts on social media. They could even start a blog and talk about the issues they care about.

Find local organizations

If you live in or near a city, there are bound to be many organizations focusing on a variety of issues. Most organizations allow teenagers to help out if they’re under 18, as long as they have parental permission. Teach your students about these resources and let them know that their time and help is valuable.

Start a fundraiser

If your students cannot give significant time to an organization or cause, starting a fundraiser at school and in the local community could be a good solution. Whether it’s a drive for needed items or just for funds, whatever is raised can then be sent to the organization or cause the students support.

Create a school club

If there isn’t currently an organization at your school that focuses on the student’s chosen issue, they can certainly start one. It’s common for specific causes to be represented at schools and then regular fundraisers and events are organized. For most districts, creating a club is fairly straightforward and encouraged by schools. It’s a fantastic way for your student to become more of an activist and raise awareness of an important issue.

Connect with people

A final step students can take to become a young activist is connecting with other people. Whether in the community, at school, or across the country, there are other people who share the student’s interest in a particular issue. Students can also attend events, such as larger fundraisers, protests, marches, or lectures on the issue. As they begin talking with others and forging new connections, writing a petition or contacting those holding public office is also a great option.

How to Avoid Getting the Flu


No one enjoys suffering from flu symptoms. An achy body, chills, fever, and a lack of energy can take a serious toll, and there’s no cure for it. The flu is dangerous, and it requires time and rest to overcome these symptoms. Unfortunately, the flu can sometimes be fatal. Even if it isn’t life-threatening for you specifically, you could spend a week or more out of work or school, which no one wants to have to deal with. The best way to deal with the flu is to prevent getting it in the first place, which is why you should practice the following tips to avoid the flu.

Schedule a flu vaccine

There’s a long-standing rumor that getting the flu shot makes people sick, but this is nothing more than a simple misconception. The flu shot doesn’t cause sickness; the reaction you may experience immediately following a flu shot is simply your body’s natural response to something foreign entering the body. This vaccine helps prime the body to fight flu germs prior to the germs attacking the immune system. It significantly decreases a person’s chance of falling victim to actual flu germs.

Make hand-washing a habit

Anytime someone touches a doorknob, a railing, a bathroom faucet, a countertop in public, or anything anywhere, the germs from that surface are transferred onto the hands of the person doing the touching. Those germs are then spread to anything that person touches, and they can easily make their way into a person’s mouth, nose, or throat with a single touch. It’s why hand-washing should become an important habit. Personal hygiene should be particularly important during a strong flu season.

Improve the immune system

People with a compromised immune system are far more likely to catch germs because their immune system is unable to appropriately fight germs. However, that’s also a problem for people who consider themselves healthy. People who don’t exercise, eat well, manage their stress, or even sleep enough are more likely to be diagnosed with the flu.

The best way to avoid the flu is to make the immune system as strong as possible, and this is done by helping the body stay strong. Exercise and healthy food help the body stay strong, and sleeping well allows the body to rest and grow stronger. You need to take care of yourself as much as possible in order to keep your immune system strong against the flu.

The flu is dangerous, and it can affect everyone in a household before even one person realizes it’s present. It can be incredibly harmful to very young children and the elderly. There’s no flu cure, which is why everyone should practice healthy habits, get a flu shot, and keep their bodies strong and able. A weak body is susceptible to illness not just limited to the flu, and no one likes being sick, especially when it’s preventable.

3 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Your Classroom

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Bullying can happen at any time and in any place. Because it is something that could escalate into a very unfavorable situation, it shouldn’t be written off as simply childhood teasing. As educators, we need to take bullying seriously and take measures to prevent it. Bullying could be detrimental to one’s emotional health, mental health, and physical health. It could even threaten a life.

While no one can be around every student at every moment of the day, there are a few key things that can be done to better ensure that bullying is minimized in the classroom. Controlling bullying is as simple as knowing what it is, how it looks, and where it happens.

Know what bullying actually is

Bullying shouldn’t be written off as teasing. While teasing is done merely to irritate or annoy another individual, bullying is much different. According to Sweeting and West, bullying happens when there is an imbalance of power.

Bullying can be excessive teasing, threats, or name calling. It could also be anything that makes an individual feel uncomfortable going where he needs or wants to go. Bullying can be verbal, nonverbal, or physical. If a students seems hurt or uncomfortable with something another student student did or said, ask them about it. If the student is seriously upset and you feel the need to intervene, do so. However, it may be better to first address the situation with the upset student.

Know the warning signs

Children who are being bullied often show signs. While no child exhibits the exact same signs as another, educating oneself in the signs of a person who is being bullied could prevent further bullying. It is also helpful to know the common signs of an actual bully. Knowing what to look out for could prevent a child from being bullied or from bullying others.

Children who are being bullied often have random bruises. They could also have low-self esteem, a decreased interest in school, or could be getting their personal belongings damaged. Children who bully others often get into a great deal of fights or have friends who are bullies. There are lots of other warning signs to watch out for, so educate yourself.

Know where bullying happens

Statistics show that most bullying happens in areas where adults aren’t usually present, such as on the playground, on the school bus, and in hallways. Bullying can also occur when kids are walking to and from school, in the cafeteria, and online.

Staff should do their best to monitor these locations. However, since it is impossible to keep an eye on all students at all times, it is critical that it is communicated to students the importance of reaching out to an adult when he or she is being bullied or suspects bullying. Remember to educate your kids on the seriousness of bullying and where they can go for help if they’re a victim of bullying or witness it happening.

6 Ways to Get More Involved in Your Local Community


No matter where you live, there’s some kind of community life in your neighborhood. Whether you live in an urban or rural setting, getting community members involved in groups and connecting with one another benefits everyone living in the area. If you’re involved in your community, you’ll know what’s going on and be aware of any issues or events. You get to know other people living around you and can make lifelong friendships. Living in a city like Dallas means there are lots of organizations to join and participate in community life, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s how you can get involved with your local community and start to make a difference.

Check out local websites

One of the simplest ways to find out how to get involved in your local community is by checking local websites. Most towns have their own websites that features a calendar and announces events or meetings. You can also try browsing Facebook for local groups and join those that seem interesting. Do not feel shy about messaging the admin of the group to see how you can help out.

Talk to your neighbors

It’s likely that at least one of the people living near you is involved in the community in some way. Go ahead and ask your friends and acquaintances if they know about any events or organizations in the community that need help or new members. If you find an organization, invite your friends to get involved with you.

Watch poster boards

When you’re paying a visit to your local bank or another business, pay attention to flyers and notices posted. Volunteer opportunities are often advertised throughout the neighborhood along with open positions in groups. Regular community events are also a great way to meet people who are involved in the neighborhood; the more people you get to know, the better you can get involved in the community.

Join a religious organization

Some of the most active community organizations are houses of worship. If you follow any kind of organized religion that’s represented in your area, go ahead and begin attending events. Offer to help out with dinners or philanthropic events. Most religious organizations are happy for the help and focus more on serving the community during these events than knowing what your personal beliefs are.

Find volunteer opportunities

You can simply look up philanthropic organizations in your area and volunteer your time there. Most cities and towns have donations centers, thrift stores, homeless shelters, or animal shelters. No matter where you live, it should be relatively easy to find a way to give back to the community.

Start your own group

If you really can’t find something in your community, or at least something that fits you, go ahead and start your own group. Get some neighbors and friends together and start focusing on finding a solution to a local issue or undertake a service project. You can certainly take the initiative yourself and make a difference.

5 Skills to Teach Your Students that They Won’t Learn in School


Teaching in and off itself is a challenging profession. For some students, you’re the first adult that’s really cared about their life or been interested in their future plans. In the United States, education is required up to a certain age, so you’ll work with students from all walks of life. Some want to be in the classroom and others hate it. However, one day your students are going to face the world outside of school and be completely responsible for themselves (if they aren’t already). Having a well-rounded education is important and you need to focus on the subject you’re teaching them, but it’s also vital that students learn necessary life skills as early as possible. Here are some simple skills you can teach your students and incorporate into your classroom, no matter what subject you’re usually teaching.


This skill is one I’ve addressed previously, highlighting ways you can instill a sense of professionalism in your students. No matter where they go in their future careers, being able to carry themselves in a professional manner is invaluable. Teach your students to successfully interview for a job and they’ll already be ahead of many others.

Resume writing

While this topic is related to professionalism, it’s also worth mentioning on its own. Even in high school, many students are applying and working jobs in order to gain some income. If they apply for college or a job right out of high school, having a resume, or at least a record of jobs and volunteer work, is incredibly beneficial. Teach them how to format it correctly and what kind of language to use to create a solid resume.

Personal finance

This topic could be a class all on its own, but teaching students basic personal finance skills is important. Teach them about a credit card, how to open their own bank account, about interest and loans. Most students come out of high school with zero knowledge about personal finance, which can severely impact them as they move through life. Knowledge of how to manage personal finances helps students avoid making bad financial decisions and getting into overwhelming debt.


Students are often stressed out and rarely know how to manage these emotions. Teach your students about self-care options, such as how to calm themselves down, who to talk to if they’re experiencing a crisis, and other useful resources. Letting them know about local clinics they can visit or methods to use during times of stress can help immensely.

Healthy lifestyle

For students, health concerns may not be common. However, it’s important for them to be mindful of their health as early as possible. Let them know the importance of getting enough rest, eating nutritious and balanced meals, and getting regular exercise. They’ll be grateful for this advice as they get older.

Dallas, TX During the Holiday Season


Like any city, Dallas has a wide array of events occurring during the holiday season. We love celebrating Christmas in Dallas and you’ll see this fact is true. Although it’s extremely unlikely there will be snow, you can still make the most of the holidays in the city. You have the chance to attend great events and see beautiful decorations. Dallas goes all out for the holidays and makes it a memorable time each year. If you’re in Dallas over the holidays, here are some events you should make it a point to try to check out!

Dallas Arboretum

Always a great place to visit, the Dallas Arboretum goes all out for Christmas. The Arboretum features the 12 Days of Christmas, an exhibit of twelve gazebos that are decorated for the holidays with gorgeous decorations that create elaborate scenes. You can also visit the DeGolyer House to see their display of over 800 nutcrackers. Besides these two main events, the Arboretum is decorated with half a million lights, features musical performances, a Christmas market, and reindeer.

Christmas in the Square

Now through the end of December, you can visit Frisco’s Square for endless Christmas activities. There’s an ice rink, food, sleigh rides, and plenty of live entertainment. The square even has man-made snow on Friday and Saturday nights! You’ll also see the incredible Christmas lights choreographed to music.

Grapevine, TX

Though this isn’t exactly in Dallas because Grapevine is a Dallas suburb, it certainly needs to be included on this list. Grapevine is known as “the Christmas Capital of Texas” and for good reason. The entire downtown transforms a month ahead of Christmas, featuring decorations and events all month long. Anything holiday related you could possibly think of, you’ll find in Grapevine.

Dallas by Chocolate tours

If you want to see the Christmas lights in neighborhoods around Dallas, these tours are the way to do it. Each tour takes a few hours, featuring private transportation to see the best lights in the city, all while offering participants chocolate and hot cocoa samples. You even get your own tour guide who takes you from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Lone Star Park

The park is being being transformed into a gorgeous winter wonderland this year. You’ll be able to attend a huge carnival, see Santa, watch acrobatic performances, and try incredible food. This wonderland is part of the lantern festival annually held in Houston, so make sure to visit the over-sized Chinese lantern displays.

Prairie Lights

Another Dallas suburb, Grand Prairie, offers beautiful Christmas lights that are worth visiting. There are over four million lights you can drive through and see. You can even stop in a small Christmas village with Santa, get hot chocolate, and walk through a forest filled with Christmas lights. Finally, as you finish your drive, you’ll pass through the world’s largest animated light tunnel.

How to Keep Your Students Focused During the Holidays

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The holidays can be a wonderful chance to indulge in festivities, cultural experiences and more, but it can be difficult to keep your students focused on learning with all this excitement and their anticipation of the holidays. Many times, students of all ages and grade-levels are starting to tune-out and look towards the coming holidays and having some time off of school. These feelings are totally natural; you’re probably looking forward to the holidays too.

It’s important to remember that your students are children and budding young-adults, not robots. By recognizing this fact, and accepting that you cannot change it, it becomes much easier to instead tailor your teaching and lessons to this development. Now, let’s talk about some ways you can use the holiday spirit to keep your students engaged, focused, and progressing in their educations!

Maintain classroom structure

Don’t throw your rules and established expectations out the window. You can’t expect your students to not be distracted during the holidays, but students thrive on stability. Everyone, yourself included, performs better when previously established norms are followed.

Continue to assign your regular weekly or bi-weekly assignments, have homework due at the normal dates, etc. Don’t abandon classroom structure you’ve established, use it! Keeping with the same routine can help students stay focused because they know what’s expected of them.

Tailor your lessons to the season

The easiest way to keep your students focused and working hard is to tailor your lessons to the holiday at hand. Don’t ignore the fact that Christmas is right around the corner, embrace it!

Regardless of your subject-matter, you can find a way to tie it into the season’s festivities into at least some lessons. Your students will appreciate the much-needed break from “hard content”, and the creativity these assignments usually employ. Try to incorporate some fun activities that are relevant to the holidays that the students will enjoy while also learning something new.

Keep your pace, don’t overwork

It’s important to continue teaching at your normal pace. Don’t suddenly pile on two-weeks worth of work and expect your students to actually do it over their winter break — it’s called a break for a reason. They’ll only be miserable before and after break and you’ll have to deal with this attitude.

Keep this idea in mind during the rest of the school year. Make sure you get through key chapters and lessons with enough time to spare so you’re not cramming before the holiday!

A final word on holidays

Remember that holidays are a special time in every culture. Embrace this, and use it as a break from the factory-like routine of schooling. Enhance your lesson plans, ask your students what their plans are and share yours, and remember – you deserve a break, too. Use this time to recharge and revitalize, the year isn’t over yet!

Why Cell Phones Should Be Allowed in Schools


Should cell phones be allowed in schools? This question has existed for almost as long as cell phones have been around. Many schools outright ban the technology and tell students not to use their phones at all during the school day. While many districts have relaxed this stance, there is still the question of whether or not students should be allowed to use cell phones during class. Many argue that there are great benefits to using phones and various apps can be used that enhance the learning experience. Others argue that the distraction of using phones outweighs any benefits and there are no ways to monitor what students are doing on their phones. Here are some of the many benefits to allowing students to use cell phones for educational reasons and I think these outweigh any potential issues.

Educational apps

The largest benefit of using phones in class is that students can download educational apps or look up information while working on a project. Students can also take pictures to send to other classmates or to reference later or even video chat with an absent student. There are many apps available for specific subjects that serve as study aids, such as making flashcards or learning a language. Even if you don’t want to use cell phones in your classroom, educate students about apps they can use on their own to facilitate deeper learning.

Students feel less rebellious

When students are told that under no circumstances are they allowed to use their phones, it often leads to rebellion and resentful feelings. While you should hold your position of authority and not give in to students’ whims, you can certainly allow them some time to use their phone which makes for more satisfied students.

Useful for emergencies

Whether or not you let students use their cell phones in class, it’s incredibly helpful to have them at school. Students can easily contact their parents if an emergency arises or reach out for help. If there’s an emergency at home, parents can reach their children through a simple call or text. Let your students know that if there is a reason they must use their phone, it’s okay to let you know there’s an emergency.

Preparation for the real world

Students certainly change between their teenage years and when they enter the workforce, but they’ll still have cell phones. For many jobs, you’re able (and often encouraged) to use your phone whenever and can check it as often as you like. It’s important that students learn self control and do not always have to check their phones, but also know how to utilize it in ways that benefit their current task, whether in the classroom or the workplace.

How to avoid issues

Even though I believe cell phones should be utilized in the classroom, there are certainly risks, such as students becoming too distracted. Experiment by only allowing phones out during a certain portion of class and require that students use them for the task at hand. Make sure they know if they’re not using their phones to further class, you’ll stop allowing them to have their phones out at all. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to allow students to use cell phones in your class and how you plan to monitor the use of them.

Iconic Texas Foods


Some say that everything is bigger in Texas while others go the extra mile and say that everything is simply better in Texas. Everyone might not agree with those first two statements, but something people from all over can agree upon is that Texas has fantastic food. The following are some of the most iconic foods to come out of the state and are certainly worth trying if you ever get a chance to visit.

The Texan BBQ

There is no doubt that BBQ can be done all over the world, but Texas is known for their touch. For some reason, a person can tell the difference between barbecues and some are just plain better than others. Maybe Texas’s secret has to do with the slow-smoking process the meat goes through, or maybe it has to do with the marinade. Whatever it may be, something makes the BBQ in Texas one of a kind.

The Chili

Many know Texas for the chili. The deliciousness and the simplicity of the dish cannot be duplicated anywhere else. One of the key differences between this chili and others is that not one bean will be found, which is quite unusual because many people think of beans as a staple in chili.

Chicken Fried Steak

Everything tastes better fried, and that is something that Texans took to heart since the state is also known for chicken fried steak. The gravy is just the cherry on top, and it definitely makes the meal complete. This dish is one you do not want to miss.

The Queso

There is no doubt that the Latin culture has fused into the Texas culture in a few ways. One of the most beloved ways is how it has transformed food in the state. Queso is just melted cheese and some chili peppers added to the top of some Mexican food along with chips. Though that might sound simple, it takes real skill to make quality queso.

Pop over All

This may not sound great to health enthusiasts, but a good Texan will likely choose a Dr. Pepper before they reach for any other beverage. In fact, most Texans will likely push a bottle of water away if its standing in the way of a Dr. Pepper, which can be found throughout the state.

Pies in Texas

Every state has a sweet that they are known for, and Texas is no different. This state is known for pecan pies. It would be hard to find a good Texan home without pecan pies at least a few times each year. This is especially true during the holidays though pecan pies go well with any season.

These are just some of the foods that Texas is known for though there are others like the infamous Texas fair foods where almost all foods are deep fried, including Twinkies. At the end of the day, these types of foods may be duplicated elsewhere, but they can only be truly made in Texas.