Monday, March 30, 2015

Want Ad:

The mentor text that inspired my writing tonight is from Kathleen Cushman's Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers From High School Students. There is a Want Ad for teachers in there crafted by student writers. I've written about many different topics. Here is mine about the learners I want! Each year when the slicing gets tough, this want ad writing is an easy way to come up with a quick piece.


Must have sense of humor; must not make other learners feel bad by cutting them down; must understand that teachers are human and make mistakes; must take responsibility for actions; must not disguise the fact that they like learning; must be tenacious when encountering “mental blocks”; must choose honesty over escapism; must not scream; must learn to tolerate others; must ask for help and recognize that the teacher is not a mind reader; must try to come to school on every day, on time and prepared; must not leave garbage for others to pick up; must be patient;  must have respect for people’s belongings; must get to know teachers and let teachers get to know them; must know that grades aren’t the only thing, but are a reflection of your academic achievement; must be flexible; must be hardworking; must not run with scissors; must play well with others; 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Seven

7. A wonderful week hanging out with my daughter. Her strength, curiosity, and spirit spur me to do better each day.

6. A husband who saves every receipt, which is really helpful come tax time.  This detail is the attention that he applies to work refinishing furniture and his art.  It is a detail lost upon me. I prefer the big picture.

5. Reading time this past week.  Many books were finished this week for my work on the Elizabeth Amelia Walden committee.  By summer I will get back to my regularly scheduled reading list.

4. Lingering at lunch and breakfast with friends and family during break. Rather than a 20 minute quick bite at the desk or table near the window (sometimes).  The company was a welcome respite from my daily lunch regime.

3. Being okay forgetting to post yesterday.  This is my fourth year slicing and I haven't posted with the urgency that I felt year 1 and 2.  I had my post for Saturday. I just didn't upload. It slipped my mind.  I remembered once.  It slipped my mind.  I know I can write and post every day if needed.  It's ok not too!

2. The season finale of The Walking Dead.  My husband and child, mostly my child, are obsessed.  He introduced her to the comics when she was in 2nd grade and then they started watching together.  Her favorite books are the two compendiums, $60 dollar books.  I started watching briefly with them and enjoyed zombies for what the show was me the question, what makes us human and civilized?    I love the show, but despite my daughters urging have not read the comics.  I decided to let them watch it together this season knowing that they can share the moments and I can catch the reruns.

1. Going back to work and colleagues that I love.  I do love the break, but the routines and rhythm of work is good for me!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tarpon Springs

Last Sunday, I had an opportunity to continue to explore Florida's west coast.  I grew up on the east coast of Florida and prefer the cold Atlantic ocean and the waves it brings.  The Gulf of Mexico feels like bath water in the summer and it's too hot to enjoy!  I have, however, always wanted to go see Tarpon Springs, the Greek isle of Florida.  So after camping in the Withlacoochie and floating down the Weeki Wachee River, we headed to Tarpon Springs for the day.

Immediately we were inundated with the blaring of Greek music and the blue and white flag of Greece.  We happened upon the parade to celebrate Greek independence.  I felt a little conspicuous in my Rick Riordan purple and gold Camp Jupiter shirt with my SPQR blatantly displayed. I wouldn't know if I was being disparaged as the streets were filled with Greek.  Everyone young and old was speaking it.  I was awash in the language. I don't know if that would happen on any other day in Tarpon Springs, but that glorious spring afternoon, the streets were filled with the language, songs, and costumes of  Greece.

You can enjoy the many Greek dishes as cafes line the main street, but what I always want when I am on the coast is fresh fish.  We skipped the many restaurants for one on the docks.  We sat outside and watched the ships sail into the tiny port.  After a delicious meal, we wandered like tourists and purchased some sponges as that is what the city was settled for in the early 1800s. To learn more about how Tarpon Springs was settled, learn more in this Florida Frontiers story here: Greek Culture Flourishes

Friday, March 27, 2015

My Writing Journey

This week I used Piktochart to document my instructional writing journey.  The titles I shared last week about my teaching reading instructional journey helped me uncover how to become a better teacher of reading.  Thinking about my instructional journey as a teacher of writing, I figured out that writing more was one of the ways that I became a better teacher of writing and my infographic this week is reflective of that journey. Yes, there were more books that I could have included, but piktochart limits the number of images that you can upload for your free account!  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

So You Want to Run an edCamp?

Attended an edCamp and want to run one yourself?  Yes, you can! I thought that I would share some ideas and tools that helped our team co-organize edCamp Orange this past winter! Know this for sure...You can't do it alone!  Give yourself at least four-six months out to plan, organize, and advertise with a team of 2-6 people.  You need people with all types of talents.  They just need to be willing to donate the time! (If you have no idea what an edCamp is, check out my post earlier this year  edCamp edspiration!)

1. Location! Location! Location!  Find a location! One that is big enough to grow in case your camp does.  Your school site is best!  It can be readily available and affordable, most often free. Be sure to check to see if you need some type of insurance.  You will need a large meeting room to convene in the am, at lunch, and at the end of the day.  You will need classrooms.  It helps if they are tech enhanced with a projector and computer, but that isn't a necessity.

2. Be Smart about Choosing a Date!  Honestly people go away for three day weekends!  We are pooped at the end of a marking period.  We deliberately tagged our event at the end of a tech conference, but you want to be sure that there are no looming holidays and people are fresh.  I suggest 1-2 weeks in from the beginning of a grading period. The beginning of the school year is hard and rushed for many people.

2. Amplify with Tech Tools: Start with the wonderful resources at The edCamp Foundation.   .  I actually got to phone conference with Kristie Swanson the founder.  She said the key is that you have a place and time to meet and to  not worry about the frills. Next steps use google. Also you can check out  the edCamp Wikispaces. Create an event email and use google drive to share documents to co-create with your committee and check over letters sent out and to keep track of what's going on and who is doing what.  Google Hangouts is also an amazing tool to plan virtually rather than face to face.  Use eventbrite as a tool for registration. Later you will find this handy to communicate to your participants, help them sign-in, and create name badges. It is free and easy to learn.  Even if it is a paid event, you will be able to use this tool.

3.  People-Power;  You need a crew for set-up the day before.  You need a crew for morning sign-in and room check.  You need someone(s) available all day in the main room.  Tasks like checking in late arrivals, picking up garbage, setting up food, breaking down food, or just answering questions, or being a host to people who take a break for sessions are reasons that the main room should be manned.  It should be manned in a way that each organizer\volunteer gets to enjoy or present sessions.  You need a crew to stay after and clean up.  You need a crew the day or days after to return items to their proper places, especially if you are at a school site.

4.  Food\Beverage Power:  Do you need it? No!  Is it nice to have? Yes! Food and beverages aren't a must, but it is nice to linger over lunch and continue the learning.    At the very least a coffee service in the am is nice.  Even athletic coolers filled with water and ice are nice!  At the edCamp I attended and the edCamp I co-organized lunch was provided for teachers.  It was quite simply pizza and a salad.  You just need to let people know...should they brown bag it?

5. Other Thoughts:  The rule of thumb is that you will have half the number of people who register actually show up!  Things happen. Prizes or swag! It is nice and it doesn't hurt to ask!  You never know who might be happy to donate to your cause.  It is a worthy one, grassroots participant driven teacher professional learning.  Use social media! Schedule tweets and write blogs and tap into your learning community.

Maybe you just want to attend one first?  Check out what's happening here:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Eye-Spy Visits to Springs Past

Juniper Springs, a shaded pool where kids love to flip off the deck.

In seven days, March 31st this challenge will be over.  Just four days ago, I uploaded my 200th post! I meant to celebrate that.  I am also hoping as I do at the end of every challenge to continue the weekly slicing.  I haven't been able to sustain that yet.  I did, however, pick up posting weekly in fall. I spend most of my day off today commenting on all my students' posts.  I haven't been so good at taking pictures of nature this week although I spent most of the weekend camping and hiking.  I do tend to disconnect when I am in the wild.  Here are some images from springs that are worth visiting! I won't get there during spring break as I am always looking to hop into a new undiscovered by me spring.

Ginnie Springs- a private spring located in north central Florida!  You can float down the Sante Fe River.Timing is everything here as it can get rowdy with college students

De Leon Springs- a good swimming hole, but the highlight is the pancake breakfast at the grist mill.
Rock Springs at Kelly Park- a beginner spring with two run's and rarely is the water over most 6-8 year olds heads.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Know For Sure

Another slice inspired this post today.  Writing today about what I know for sure and in reality there is little that I know for sure, but here are a few nuggets.

  • Where we put our energy, we will see growth.
  • We will always be able to find the time for what matters or what we value.
  • You will be surprised by what you can accomplish when you focus and work.  
  • I don't like to reread books or watch movies again, but I will listen to a song I love over and over and over.
  • My mind and my thinking can hold me back.
  • I am living a charmed life
  • I am privileged to have the quality of medical insurance that I have.  
  • People matter
  • Count the small wins each day. They add up.
  • Time is the most valuable gift you can give.