Foster Parenting

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rethinking Digital Writing Club

Thanks to Margaret Simon from Reflections on the Teche for providing this space to share how teachers are using technology in their classrooms.  Please visit her site to see what others are doing.

Tomorrow is the beginning of Digital Writing Club.  This is the second year I've hosted the after school club.  I decided to open it up to fifth graders only, so that I am able to work with the kids more easily.  

To get started, I created a website using Weebly for Education.  It will be our home base.  I created a class and added my students.  Tomorrow, they will design their own web page and complete the  interest survey that I created in Google forms.

Because I've been reading and talking about Education 3.0, I am rethinking what our workshop will look like.  We will definitely be sharing our work on Twitter and working to connect with others outside our group.   I'm also going to use the information that I gather from the survey to do a couple of different things.

Our first two meetings will be planned by me.  I mentioned that we'd be creating webpages tomorrow.  Next week, I'm going to borrow from #clmooc and ask the kids to make something that will introduce themselves to the group.  I learned so much from the maker summer and I want to share that with my students.  

After that, I envision the kids working on creating what they want to create.  Our mini lessons may be led by me or by another student or students who have expertise in an area.  I'd like to work on some design elements with them and I'm sure that the kids will have ideas of their own.  I am envisioning small groups forming organically as the kids find common interests.  In addition, I will seek mentors and other experts and house that information on the homepage of our website.  

I imagine there will be blogs, videos, presentations, digital stories, comics, etc.  I want the kids to make decisions about what format best fits their needs based on their audience and purpose.  

I'm excited about the possibilities, and I'll be sure to share with all of you.

Please share if you've done anything similar with students or if you'd like to connect with us.  Leave your class' twitter handle in the comment section and we will definitely connect.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Questions Bring More Questions

Thank you to Margaret Simon from Reflections on the Teche for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  Please visit her site to read how other educators are integrating technology into their classrooms.

Education 3.0.


SAMR Model

My head is spinning.  I have more questions than answers.  This weekend, after having great conversations with some really smart ladies, I discovered Jackie Gerstein and her blog, User Generated Education.  It's evident that education needs to make a shift.  

I wondering...
Where am I on the continuum from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0?  I'd like to think that I'm between 2.0 and 3.0.  I've certainly evolved in the last 28 years of teaching.

How do we make the shift?  Change is hard!

Does a teacher have to move from 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0, or can she skip right to 3.0?

How do we move to Education 3.0 and still integrate the CCSS?  Do the CCSS keep us from doing all we could do?

How do we help parents understand the need for change?  How do we ensure parents that as we change, we are still giving their children a quality education?

Where do we find others who are making the shift?

These are just the beginnings of everything swirling around in my head.  I ordered two books (even though I was on a self-imposed book buying diet) to help me think through some of these questions.

I'm getting ready to begin my after school digital writing club.  It'll give me the opportunity to try some things very purposefully (and give me fodder for Sunday's posts).

What are your thoughts?  Your own questions?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Snow Day! Slice of Life Tuesday

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

We got a nice surprise today.  The winter storm dropped quite a bit of snow and closed schools all over central Ohio.  So I enjoyed this beautiful, but VERY cold day inside, cuddled under a blanket, drinking tea out of my favorite mug,  reading and having fun with Canva.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Play to Learn to Teach

Thank you to Margaret Simon for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  Please visit her site to read how other educators are incorporating technology into their classrooms.

If there's anything I've learned on the digital journey, it is the importance of letting myself explore and play with different tools.  It gives me the opportunity to be creative, work out the kinks and think about how I might use these tools with my students.  In addition, I am seeing more and more that the way I think about my writing has evolved.  There is so much more to consider  as I craft my digital compositions.

In Crafting Digital Writing, Troy Hicks states, "...that the type of craft elements we insist our student create in their alphabetic texts can be complemented, - or better yet, extended - by the types of craft elements we can use given the availability of digital writing tools.  With digital writing, we need to think with words, of course, yet we also need to begin thinking like artists, web designers, recording engineers, photographers and filmmakers." (2012)

More and more I find myself thinking like a designer or photographer, or whatever it is that I'm creating as I explore different tools and create a variety of digital compositions. I can then use my learning to help my students do the same kind of thinking. My friend Cathy calls this #playtolearn.

Lately, I've been playing with Canva. I discovered it this summer and tried it out to share the makes I did with the #CLMOOC group. For this first one, I used a template provided on the site. I inserted images into the place holders and added my text. It was easy to use and I was satisfied with my first attempt, but I knew it could be better.

I returned to Canva over break and discovered their tutorials for beginners.  Being who I am, I decided to give them a try.  They even have more advanced tutorials in the Design School.

I learned about using frames and text holders to create my OLW image.  I played with fonts (choosing a font that gave a sense of quietness).  I learned that typefaces (designer word for fonts) with rounded edges are friendlier, while those with geometric edges are solid and strong.  In addition I learned serifs lend an air of sophistication.  (Go ahead and click on the link for serifs...I had to look it up and now I understand serif and sans serif).  

I used my new knowledge in yesterday's blog image, although I need to do more work with color and weight of fonts here.  Those are my next tutorials.

Last night I decided to go big and try one of the lessons from the Design School:  How to Design  a Creative Quote for Social Media.    (Much to my surprise,  Cathy sent me a text telling me how much fun she was having on Canva while I was working.  Check out today's post.  )  I chose one of the quotes from my Pinterest board and decided to play with it a bit.  This is what I came up with.  (Aren't the shadows cool?)

While designing this piece, I thought about the font, shape, and color.  I chose this particular font because it gave me the simplified look I wanted.  In addition, I capitalized the words that were important to me.  I wanted the quote to look like it was spilling down the page (to go with that free flowing feeling the quote gives me), so I used the boxes to frame the words and rotated them to help the reader's eye travel down the page. The orange boxes with the darker red frame and shadow effect make the words pop.

Some things to think about...
  • These simple looking images took a lot of time.  Not only was I thinking about my message, but I was learning the technical skills of adding shadows, spacing the text, etc.
  • There was a lot of thought into how I wanted to present my pieces.  Which images will best convey my message?  Do I want to use an image or do I use a graphic instead?
  • I needed to go through this process in order to help my students go through the process.

I think some would ask if it's important to teach our students these skills when they are crafting digital compositions?  I believe it is.  Our students are composing and consuming texts very differently in today's world.  I believe it's my responsibility as a teacher of writers to help my students be able to produce thoughtful quality products.  Even our youngest writers can understand and use  basic elements like choosing a font that conveys a serious tone versus a lighter tone or choosing colors that help words pop out instead of making them impossible to read.  

It is also my goal that students be able to articulate their thinking as they create.  Just as I've asked students to reflect on traditional pieces they've written where they discuss mentors and craft moves they tried, I want them to do the same with digital pieces.  I believe that if I want my students to do these things, then I need to model my own digital writing process, which brings us back to #playtolearn.  

What are you exploring in your own digital journey?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Celebration Saturday...Lessons Learned from my Boy

Thank you to Ruth Ayres of Discover, Build, Play for inviting others to share their celebrations.  Please check out her site to read other celebrations.

Twenty-two years ago, our son Zachary was born.  I distinctly remember my friend telling me that I needed to have a boy.  She went on to explain that Molly had been too easy of a baby and I needed to find out what parenting was really like.  I didn't believe her.  I was pretty sure back then in my naivety that it was all those parenting books I was reading and my exceptional parenting skills that made Molly so easy to raise.  I thought I'd just keep doing what I'd always been doing and all would be fine.  

Although to be honest, a tiny part of me was a little afraid.  I grew up with sisters.  I wasn't really sure how to raise a boy.  I also worried about how I was going to love him as much as I loved Molly. How foolish I was.  The minute I held him, it was love at first sight.

It didn't take long to realize that my friend was right...he was completely different from Molly.  She was verbal at an early age, he didn't talk much, but, oh could he get around.  I learned early on that he could disappear in a split second.  In fact, he's taught me many things...

I am so very thankful that my husband and I were given the privilege of raising this young man.  I would't want it any other way.

Friday, January 2, 2015

My #OLW for 2015 with a little #Nerdlution

I wrote about the importance of slowing down after our summer writing retreat.  It seems I'm a slow learner, because as I began to contemplate my OLW for 2015, the word Quiet kept creeping in.  I'm not very good at being still and quieting my mind.  In fact, I kept trying to push Quiet away.  It's not an active word.  It would require me to turn inward and stop being busy.

However, Quiet wouldn't let go.  It kept coming up in the books I've been reading.  I recently finished The Best Yes by Lysa TerKuerst and am currently reading The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jerry Papasan.  Keller and Papasan say it perfectly, "...the older we get, it seems there is more and more piled on what we believe 'simply must get done.'  Overbooked, overextended, and overcommitted."

Another nudge showed up in my email today.

 It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in work, that I soon can't find the time to exercise, eat right, and have fun.  The following quote from The One Thing spoke loudly to me tonight.  

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls—family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”

So, Quiet is here to stay.  I will take time for being still and listening.  I am getting up in the morning to do yoga and am ending the day with a nice cup of hot tea.  I know that these times of quiet and slowing down will help me prioritize what is really important on my "to do" list.

Taking time for Quiet leads to my #nerdlution.

1.  I joined Jon Acuff's 10 Day Do Over Challenge.  It's the beginning of forming some well needed habits.  I am committing to working for 10 minutes each day on moving my body, be it yoga, strength training or taking a walk.  Hopefully those 10 minutes will turn into a longer period of time.

2.  I will spend at least 30 minutes on my writing each day.  My blogging has become hit or miss and I'd like to get into a better habit of posting.  In addition, I'm working on a book proposal and it's too easy to tell myself that I'll work on it tomorrow.  Eventually, too many tomorrows have gone by and it becomes an all day endeavor to meet my deadlines.

3.  I will spend 10 minutes each day sitting quietly and just paying attention to my breathing.  There are so  many benefits to meditating and anything I can do to live a healthier, less stressed life is good.

4.  I am going to be more cognizant of what I am eating and drinking.  I don't drink enough water, so I will work on getting my 8 to 10 glasses in, which means I will be working on cutting out my Cherry Coke Zero.  This summer, my daughter and I experimented with some delicious infused waters.  If you haven't tried cucumber in your water, you must.  It's delicious.    I also joined Lisa's Cut Out Processed Food in 14 Weeks.    We do a pretty good job of eating healthy foods, but this will help me cut out the junk that we do have.

My overall goal for my #OLW and #nerdlution is to slow down, become aware of how I am spending my time so that what I am doing is helping me live a more purposeful, enjoyable life that enables me to spend time with my family and friends, feel stronger, have more energy, and do the things that I love to do instead of those that I feel like I "should do."  I know that I may slip and fall, but with the support of these different communities, I am hoping that I'll be able to get right back up and keep on trying.

Happy New Year!