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.

Heutagogy.

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!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

OLW...End of Year Reflection



Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesdays.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave a comment or two.


Discover


It's been a year of discovery for me.  Focusing on this One Little Word has helped me pay attention to the little things.  When I chose Discover as my word, I envisioned discovering new places to dine (my husband and I really like going out to eat), and new places to visit...maybe some new recipes (hmmm...things seem to revolve around food).  I did discover all of those things, but I also discovered so much more.


Once a month, I meet up with some friends for Sunday brunch.  Our friend Stella has organized us and she KNOWS our town.  We try new restaurants and we spend the next few hours laughing and sharing favorite books we've read.  I am currently reading The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen Year-Old Boy with Autism and can't wait to start The One Thing, both books I learned about at brunch.  Sharon shared The Best Yes, which was a great book for me to read.  I knew I needed to read it when I read the description:  Are you living with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and aching with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul? And if you haven't heard about Serial, you need to check it out.  I'm hooked and find myself listening to this riveting podcast every time I'm in the car.  From the website:  Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story - a true story - over the course of an entire season. Each season, we'll follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. And we won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it's important to listen to the episodes in order, starting with Episode 1.   

I am on Episode 7 and am looking forward to listening to the rest of the series before winter break is over.

Franki shared TheSkimm and I'm so glad I discovered it this year. These two ladies have such great voice and I find myself trying to guess the story based on the headlines. So far, I'm not so great at it, but they make me chuckle. I read it in the morning before I go to work and it makes me feel like I can talk intelligently about what's going on in the world.


After two years of having no pets in the house, Scout and Jem adopted us right after Thanksgiving. I rediscovered how much fun (and work!) having puppies can be.
I watched both my mother and mother-in-law deal with serious health issues this summer and fall. I discovered what love looks like after 50 and 60 years of marriage. I saw sides of my dad and father-in-law that I hadn't seen before and it has been so beautiful to watch.







In fact, I discovered a lot about my dad this summer. After a brief explanation of hashtags on Twitter,
I started calling my dad #Awesome because he was literally awesome in how he took over Mom's care. I then got the nickname "#AwesomeToo. I spent quite a bit of time at their house before and after surgery. Some of the times I enjoyed the most were those Dad and I spent fixing dinner together. It turns out that we make a good team in the kitchen. Imagine my surprise when I opened my gift this Christmas.  



It's been a year of ups and downs. I've dealt with things that I never thought I'd deal with as a wife and mother, but in the end, I discovered some important truths...

  • Some things are worth fighting for, especially when the going is tough. 
  • Your kids never stop needing you. It doesn't matter how old they are. You never stop worrying and will do whatever is needed to help your kids, no matter how old they are. 
  • It's ok to ask for help. You don't need to be strong all the time and you don't need to have all the answers all the time. 
  • Family and friends are a lifeline. Sharing stories is healing. 
  • Prayer is essential. 
Discovery has been a good word for me this year. I'm still waiting for my new word to find me, although I think it's lurking nearby. 

Here's wishing you a very happy New Year!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Celebration Saturday

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for hosting Celebration Saturday.  It's a place for people to gather to celebrate the big and small things in their lives.  Please visit her site to read about others' celebrations.



Sifting.

Cracking.

Mixing.                          

Scooping.                                      

Rolling.


Baking Christmas cookies ~ it's one of my favorite traditions.  I started so many years ago, standing on a kitchen chair next to my mom.  She taught me how to carefully measure - not over the bowl- but over the sink.  It wouldn't do to have extra salt or flour falling into the bowl.  She taught me how to crack an egg without getting any shell into the batter.  She taught me the difference between folding and mixing.  I knew it was getting close to Christmas baking time as an assortment of containers began piling up...ice cream tubs, gift boxes, Cool-Whip containers, anything that would hold cookies in the freezer. When she ran out of freezer space, Mom started stacking containers in the frigid garage.  

Every Christmas Eve, we gathered at my Aunt Cathi's house.  Grandma, Pop, aunts, uncles and loads of cousins filled her house.  It was a night of laughter, love and lots of good food to eat.  My mom and aunts brought their specialties.  I couldn't wait for my Aunt Cathi's Spritz and Peanut Butter Blossoms, Mom's Butterballs (known as Mexican Wedding Cakes to most people) and iced sugar cookies  and Aunt Janey's Molasses cookies sprinkled with red and green sugar.  


 Today, I continued the tradition.  Candle light flickered, Christmas music filled the background and I began...sifting, cracking, mixing, scooping, and rolling.  As the aroma of cinnamon and chocolate swirled throughout my kitchen, my mind wandered back to those early days of baking with my mom and how much I loved spending time with her and my aunts.   I wondered what went through their minds when they were doing their baking all those years ago.  Did they reminisce about the important women in their pasts like I did today?  I hope so.

And now tonight, it's my table that's filled with these old favorites.   It's just not Christmas without them.   It's been my favorite kind of day.


Wishing all of you a very happy and blessed holiday season.