Foster Parenting

Sunday, June 29, 2014

DigiLit Sunday...Reflections on This Week's Make Cycle #2

Thank you to Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  You can check her site for other posts about how teachers are using and thinking about technology in their classrooms.

This week's #clmooc make cycle #2, creating a meme was a challenge for me.  I was flummoxed, frustrated, and doubtful of my ability.  But I persevered and I created 3 different memes.  I learned so much through the process...but it wasn't so much about how to create memes.  It was more about myself as a learner and thinking about the implications for my classroom.  

First, memes are a relatively new genre for me.  I read them and laugh at those I see posted on Facebook, but I never thought about making one.  I don't see myself as that clever, witty person who creates memes.  When I read the assignment, a bit of dread sat in the pit of my stomach.  (Hmm..wonder how many of my students feel this way when I introduce a new genre to them?)  I decided to do what I would ask my students to do.  I immersed myself in the genre.  It's advice I heard from Katie Wood Ray, many years ago when I attended one of her sessions at a conference.  It's advice I still adhere to each and every time I begin a new unit of study with my young writers.  

So, I read memes, I read blogs and more blogs about memes, I read articles on how to make memes.   I collected memes to use as mentor texts.  I read and read and read for 4 days straight.  I sought an expert.  My brother-in-law creates memes all the time.  He's got that sense of humor that just lends itself to meme making.  I asked him for some support.  He gave me advice which you can see below in our FB conversation.

Finally, on Friday night, I sat down to create some memes.  Wonderopolis came to the rescue (like they often do) with this post about memes.  They provided a link to this Pinterest board about memes which would be great to share with my own elementary aged students.   It helped me get going.

I wanted to make my own, so I thought about this past week's events.  The Luis Suarez bite seemed like good material.  I shared my thinking with Tom and he gave me some feedback.  (Little did he know that we were having a writing conference).  

This is the first meme I made using imgflip.

Here's the second one I made after reading Mary Ellen's blog post where she suggested using song titles.  

And lastly, I had to go back to Tom's Hokey Pokey suggestion.  One of the things I found was that the picture is just as important as the words.  Figuring out how to make the two work together is part of the challenge.  I scrolled through picture after picture, discarding different ideas until I came upon a picture of Vladimir Putin.  There was just something about the look on his face (and who he is) that made this funny to me.

Right now, I'm thinking a lot about helping kids choose tools based on their purpose and audience.  I know that I had several kids in my class last year whose sense of humor would have been perfect for this kind of project.  It would be an interesting mini study on humor in writing.  I can see kids creating memes to put into their blogs or as part of a bigger project.  I'm keeping memes in mind for next year's digital writing group of 4th and 5th graders.  I think they'll enjoy it.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Digilit Sunday Reflecting on Make Cycle 1

Thank you to Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  You can check her site for other posts about how teachers are using and thinking about technology in their classrooms.

 On Friday, I posted my first project where I used Bitstrips to create a comic about How to Be Julie as part of the summer #clmooc.  Today, I want to talk a little bit more about #clmooc and why I signed up.

I am a true believer that writing teachers need to be writers.  While participating in the Columbus Area Writing Project Summer Institute in 2007, I learned first hand what it was to be a writer.  I immediately gained a better understanding of what my young writers went through each time I asked them to write.  My conviction has only grown stronger in the last seven years. As I've moved more and more into the digital world with my students, I continue to see the importance of trying the things I am going to ask my students to do.

I received several announcements about #clmooc through the National Writing Project.  I was a little intimidated.  After all, the people who were already in the group are so much more experienced than me when it comes to digital compositions.  At first, I ignored the invitations.  Then, I looked around a bit to see what it was all about.  I became intrigued.  I knew that if I was going to grow, I needed to jump in.  And who better to learn from?  Here, I had access to the experts.  I also knew it would give me material for DigiLit Sundays.  :)  And now that I have a week under my belt, I know that there are a lot of newbies like me.  If I'm going to ask my students to take risks, then I need to do it too.  As Chris Butts said in Saturday's email, There are no scorekeepers or judges in CLMOOC. It’s about making, connecting, and learning. 

Why Connected Learning was the last push I needed.  Anything that is run by the National Writing Project and any of its affiliates is always, always, always, learner driven in a risk-free, safe environment.  The introduction to their page says it all:

For more than a century, educators have strived to customize education to the learner. Connected Learning leverages the advances of the digital age to make that dream a reality — connecting academics to interests, learners to inspiring peers and mentors, and educational goals to the higher order skills the new economy rewards. Six principles (below) define it and allow every young person to experience learning that is social, participatory, interest-driven and relevant to the opportunities of our time.

Saturday's email asked for reflections.  Reflecting is so very important and I've come to make it more and more a part of my assessment with my students.

What I made last week:I used Bitstrips to make How To Be Julie comic.I tried out Thinglink.  I've seen some references on Margaret's blog.  I made My Digital Avatar and All About Grilled Pizza (which, by the way, I'm in the process of making while  putting this blog together).

What I'm Working On:
Nothing is in process right now (except for dough rising for our dinner of grilled pizza tonight).

What's Next?
I want to spend more time with Thinglink.
I want to work on curating all of this information.
I'd like to work with Wordfoto.
I want to try out Canva.
I'd hope to participate in a Twitter chat this week.

What did I learn from this week?
First and foremost, I learned what a great, supportive community this is.  People replied to my post right away and I've connected with more people on Twitter.  Once I decided to create a comic, I wasn't sure where to start.  A quick google search gave me plenty of choices.  I was a little confused at first, but once again, a quick search on YouTube, and I found a tutorial (by a boy who sounds to be about 12) on how to use it.  I had a lot of fun doing all of my creations.  The openness of the make cycles validated my conviction of giving kids choice in reading and writing workshops.

What do you see as the purpose of making this week?
I think the biggest purpose for me was to get my feet wet, begin to explore the community, and connect with others.

I'm looking forward to seeing what next week brings.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Celebrations

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations.  Please visit her blog to read other celebrations or add your own.  You can also read more on Twitter #celebratelu.

Again, I celebrate that it's summer and my time is flexible.  And I celebrate that my husband does not mind that I take a week to spend time with my mom.  I'm staying with my parents and like I mentioned before, I am filled with gratitude as I watch my dad with my mom.  It's very sweet.  She'll have some procedure next week that will hopefully give her some relief before she has surgery in the middle of July.

I had dinner with my best friend from college on my way up here.  It's always so nice to reconnect with friends.  Even though we don't see each other very often, we are able to get caught up right away as if we lived next door.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday in mentor training, which I was dreading.  It ended up being the best PD I've ever had from ODE.  The trainers were entertaining, knowledgeable, and uplifting.  I left with a tool bag of practical ideas and excitement about the upcoming year.  The young teacher I will be mentoring is a former student of our elementary school. Although I didn't have her in my class, I had her younger brother and her family is absolutely wonderful.

It was fun to follow #allwrite14 on Twitter this week since I couldn't go and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some new people through #clmooc (which I wrote about yesterday).

The best part of summer?  Time to read.  I read Lisa Graff's Absolutely Almost last night in one sitting.  I'll be writing more about that later.  It left me with lots to think about.  Maybe I should celebrate (or not), the ease of downloading a book on my Kindle.  I ordered it last  night at 9:00 and read until I finished, close to 1:00 AM.  I don't get to do that during the school year.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Joining the Making Learning Connected Community...Make With Me Cycle 1: How to Be Julie

It was with great interest (and a little nervousness) that I signed up for #clmooc.  One of my goals for this summer is to learn some new digital tools and think about how I might use them in my classroom new role as a literacy coach. (I guess I am still getting used to the idea that I won't have a classroom anymore).

  It's 6 weeks of open make cycles, each one led by a different writing project.  The Welcome Letter does a great job of explaining.  It's not too late to sign up.  I read the first cycle, which asks us to create a "how to" that will somehow introduce us to the rest of the group, and my wheels started turning.

I spent some time looking at other blogs for this first cycle.  I wasn't quite sure what I would do.  I thought about using Glogster or Prezi, but I've used those tools before and my goal is to try new things.  I perused CLMOOC Make Bank and spent quite a bit of time with Introduction Makes because I knew that was what I wanted to do.  After viewing this comic, I decided that I'd create my own introduction comic.

I did a little search and came upon Bitstrips.  I found this tutorial that gave me some quick tips to get me started.  I soon realized that I've seen these comics from my friends on Facebook.  Now I know how they did it.  :)

So, here's my first Bitstrip:  My introduction to #clmooc.  I'm looking forward to meeting other makers and learning some new tools.  Think about jumping in and joining the fun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesdays...Saying Good-bye

Thank you so much to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave a comment.

Early this morning, we said good-bye to Chanju as she boarded a plane with her mother for a trip to the east coast before returning to Korea.  One hug wasn't enough.  With promises to see each other again, I let her go and  watched her through tear-filled eyes until she walked through security.  We stayed until I couldn't see her any more.

Her mom wrote me a note, which means the world to me.  You see, I wrote a similar note to Gulcin last year when we brought Annie back home from Turkey.  Being a host mom has changed me.    Each time my husband and I agreed to take in and love another child from another country, we were not always sure who was going to walk through our door.  It isn't always easy, but it's worth every bit of effort.

 My heart has grown bigger and my perspective on life and cultures has been enriched.  Each young woman who began her life with us as an exchange students, left our home as a member of our family.  I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

So, as I sit in my very quiet home, something (and someone) seems to be missing.  We will soon be back to our busy lives and a new normal will come to be.  But for right now, I'm going to miss hearing Chanju come through the door with her cheerful "hi," or checking off license plates from different states, or going to Rita's Italian Ice (I found out I love Orange Gelati).  For right now, I'm going to savor the good memories and be thankful for one more opportunity to be a mom.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Celebrating the Week

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations.  I've been away for awhile because I was too "busy," but it didn't take long for me to realize how important this practice is.  It's too easy to get bogged down in what isn't going right, and I need to stay focused on the positive.  So, I'm glad to be back and will make sure that I return each week to celebrate with others.  Please check Ruth's site to visit other celebrations.

I'm looking forward to going to the airport this evening to meet our exchange daughter's mom.  Chanju arrived in Columbus in the middle of August, which means her mom hasn't been able to give her a hug for 10 months.  I remember what I was feeling last year at this time as we navigated through the Turkish airport.  I couldn't wait to wrap my arms around Annie.  I wasn't sure I'd ever let go.  I'm so excited for Chanju's mom, Miyeon, to have the same experience with Chanju.  I'm pretty sure that "mom's need for a hug" is universal.  We'll have 3 days to spend together before the two of them leave for a visit to DC and New York and then back home where Chanju will be reunited with her father and the rest of the family.

Our oldest daughter set off for her new job in DC this week.  I am so happy for her.  She's worked hard and it is paying off.  It's such a good feeling to see your children be successful and happy.

  Mom's had a bit of a set back and it's been too easy to fall into my typical worry mode.  Even though we all wish she was feeling better, there are many things to celebrate.  First and most important, my dad has been WONDERFUL!  My dad was a pretty traditional dad when I was growing up...home from work expecting dinner on the table, he did the outside work, Mom took care of the kids and did all the cooking and cleaning.  Well, he is doing it all right now and being very patient and nurturing.  I'm also glad that my time is more flexible right now.  I'll be headed back up north next week to hang out with Mom and Dad.  Mom and I can drink tea and chat, while Dad makes dinner for both of us.  :)  (Just kidding...I can give Dad a break too).

I celebrate time to work in my garden.  Gardening is therapeutic for me and I've so enjoyed digging in the dirt this week.  I have to say my garden looks the best it's looked for several years.  I even have some hope that I'll be able to keep at it this summer.

Last but not least, I'm doing a happy dance this afternoon.  I finished the draft for my chapter of the book I'm contributing to and turned it in for peer review.  As you can see from the above photo, I had a beautiful spot for working.  I've had so much fun writing and have appreciated the support from Troy Hicks and the other wonderful teachers in our group.  Now that this part of the project is over, I've got some time to think about new writing projects and do a better job of posting on my blog.

I hope all of you find many things to celebrate this upcoming week.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Slice of Life...Filled with Gratitude

Thank you so much to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesdays.  Please stop by their blog to read other slices and leave a comment or two.

I left my mom's house two weeks ago, not sure what was in store for her future.  In fact, the last time I participated in Slice of Life, I was exhausted and scared to death.  We didn't know what was wrong with Mom and we weren't sure if the doctors would be able to help her.  For someone like me, there is not much worse than not knowing.  By the time she was sent home, she had a diagnosis of spinal stenosis and a bulging disc.  With instructions to see a physical therapist and the orthopedic surgeon, she came home dependent on a walker and still in a lot of pain.  I was worried that this would be her new life.

I talked with her every day.  She's had good days and bad days and Dad's been taking excellent care of her.  Each day, she sounded a little better.  She got good reports from the physical therapist and seemed to be on the upswing.  I was feeling hopeful as I traveled to Brimfield this weekend to celebrate her birthday with her.

As I placed her birthday cake on the table and called out to her, I was readying myself to see her sitting on the couch, wrapped in the heating pad.  I can't begin to explain how I felt when she met me in the kitchen, walking independently with no walker,  a big smile on her face and her arms open wide for a hug.  My day instantly got 100 times brighter.  I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present for her.

Here's Mom with most of her grandchildren and a few extras.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

DigiLit Sunday...Our Wonder Projects

Thank you to Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  Please check out her blog, Reflections on the Teche, to see how others are incorporating technology into their classrooms.

Our Wonder Projects came to life when my students shared them with their parents and our school community on Wednesday.  I received a lot of positive feedback from parents who were impressed with the work the students did.  From my own perspective, I was amazed.   Having done this project last year, I had time to reflect and make improvements.  The extra time and changes I incorporated paid off.  My students made purposeful, conscious decisions as they created their web pages.  Going through their reflections made me realize just how much they learned this year.  I'll be sharing my reflections on the process this week.  For now, take a look and if you have time, leave a comment on our Comments for Students page.  Click on the link below to view Wondering in Room 114.  I am so very grateful to Wonderopolis for being such a quality mentor text for my students.

Wondering in Room 114