Have you glogged?

Seems kind of like a personal question, doesn’t it?  Have I glogged?

(stage whisper) What does glogged mean??

As I prepare for my new adventure in the classroom, I’m discovering new, cool technology tools almost daily that I hope I’ll remember to use with my students!!

Following is my trail to learning about glogging:  I was scanning teachersnotebook.com for some great ideas (free too!) and came across some information provided by Katie Ann Wilson called “How to Make an Interactive Review/Quiz using Google Forms, download it here.  At the end were examples, so I clicked on one to see an example – pretty cool!

Then I spotted a link on the page Titled “My Glog” and under that “Glogging.”  I’d heard of vlogging (video blog) but I’d never heard of glogging.  I couldn’t resist…and I jumped into the rabbit hole.  That link took me to Katie Ann’s page “Glogging in My Classroom” on Glogster Edu. There are various links there such as “What is glogging?” and “Glogging in the Classroom.”  From there I linked to Education World with an article about Glogging posters, with great links for teacher examples that demonstrate the possibilities for Glogster.  Naturally, I clicked on “Shakespearean Parodies” and found an outstanding poster!  Please, click and find it!

So the next time you need some inspiration don’t be afraid to “click through” the rabbit hole to find some really excellent and fun ideas for your classroom!  (or just for fun!)

Literature By The Numbers, 30.376.

School vs Learning by George CourosI stopped on the path to a new chapter in my life, and looked back over my shoulder. What have I learned this semester?

At the beginning of the semester, I didn’t know there was a genre of literature for young adults/adolescents! I don’t know if my teachers ever considered whether or not I was reading at the appropriate level, and they never asked about what else I was reading.

Page by Paige by Laura Lee GulledgeThis semester I discovered graphic novels! I read comic books as child, but I’ve never known there were entire novels captured in pictures/dialogue! (Doesn’t everyone like books with pictures?) Of the 26 books I read this semester (definitely the most books I’ve read in the span of 4 months!), my favorite was the graphic novel, “Page by Paige” by Laura Lee Gulledge. Not only did Gulledge write the book, she drew the art as well! If I were to suggest a book to be added to the list of required reading, this graphic novel would certainly be at the top of the list.  They’re such a great way to get hesitant readers to dive in!

Fahrenheit 451 graphic novelOr how about another graphic novel that I read, “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury? I’ve never been able to get all the way through “Fahrenheit 451” before, but this was a great way to read this complicated story! My second favorite graphic novel was “Drama” by Raina Telgemeier, for two reasons, 1) it’s a graphic novel, my new Drama by Raina Telgemeierfavorite genre, and 2) it’s about students putting on a musical – right up my alley!!!

Since I work full-time and take college courses to complete my endorsement, I listened to audio books for some of my reading.  I couldn’t have gotten through so many books without them. Besides, I really enjoy audio books, sometimes more than reading, depending upon the book.

Catching Fire - Suzanne CollinsI listened to the “Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins, and “Divergent” series by Veronica Roth series, and really enjoyed them. I highly recommend using audio books. I’ll likely use them in my classes next year.

Of the required reading, my favorite book was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  I appreciated the self-deprecating humor that lightened the serious content.  I will certainly be using this book in my class! A close second was How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson, because I easily connected with the main character, even though my childhood was not very similar.

My favorite blog, among those that I wrote, was “Keep the Passion!” meant to express my thoughts about being passionate about education. I am passionate about theater and teaching! William Yeats once said:

lighting of a fire WB Yeats

Effie Trinket, Hunger Games
Effie Trinket, Hunger Games

Right On!  Preach it, brother!  Which leads me to my choice of blogs from my fellow Lit classmates: Pamela Lliteras and Rian Mamula write with a positive, supportive, and humorous voice in their blogs.  They are passionate about literature and learning!

Pride and Prejudice Jane AustenMy Goodreads page is loaded with “Want to Read” books, but I’ll be looking for books to share with my students, and then ask them to share their reviews in the form of “daily book advertisements.” Tops on my list to share will be the faves listed here, and more.  I’ll be reading books recommended by classmates, like “Yummy,” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” I’ll also look at some classics like “Pride and Prejudice,” and not so classic, like “Matilda.”

Reading can be fun, informative, instructive and self-reflective. Sometimes students don’t know they’re using a book as a mirror or window until we show them. I might even begin my reading time in class with a question, “What do you know about Young Adult Literature?”

live like the gates openSo what did I achieve this semester? Thus far I’ve written 30 blogs containing 13,476 words, 376 tweets (out of 905 total since January), read 15+ articles, 26 books in 100+ hours, over 16 weeks, and earned 3 credit hours. Add to that podcasts, videos and countless TedTalks! Those are some impressive numbers, but the best thing that I’ve accomplished is discovering how to share my love of literature and learning with my future students! And that’s pretty exciting!

Life is a Great Adventure!

Life is a Great Adventure and I’m making plans to close one chapter and go onto the next one!  It’s so exciting to finally be going on to teach, to share my experience and knowledge with my students, and work with colleagues to provide the best educational experience we can for the students!

I hope you enjoy my video – filled with many pictures of me, my beloved family, friends and random funny pictures, with a running theme…I want to be the wind beneath my students’ wings!

The rest of my message is in the video…have fun!

Becoming an Innovative Life-Long Learner

“Great teachers see transformational moments and enter into those moments as learners with their students, technology aided or not…” Kelly Christopherson

Fiction story reading center, Source: The Guardian
Fiction story reading center, Source: The Guardian

I’ve spent my life learning new ideas, activities and, when in different cultures, new social mores.  I consider myself to be a life-long learner, especially when it comes to innovative technology. (I love technology!)  I believe it’s important for teachers to be life-long learners, and teach their students how to live a life that includes new and interesting things.  Innovation in learning looks more like a collaboration between the educator and the students, each learning from the other.

From our reading The Mindset of an Innovator by George Couros, this quote was an important takeaway for me:

“I listen and learn from different perspectives, because I know we are much better together than we could ever be alone. I can learn from anyone and any situation.”

And this had real meaning for me, as well:

“I believe that my abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed, leading to the creation of new and better ideas.”

And from The Steep “Unlearning Curve”

“We need to unlearn our fear of putting ourselves and our students “out there” for we’ve proven we can do it in safe, relevant and effective ways.”

I’ve proven to myself over and over that I can build new knowledge, abilities and talents, and thus greater creative abilities.  Sometimes I’m even surprised at how much I know about certain topics, like theater and mentoring.  And yet, I had an epiphany of sorts today, and here it is:

I don’t know it all, and I don’t need to know it all to teach, because I can learn along with my students!  Not only that, I’ll learn from them!

As I read The Mindset of an Innovator, I knew that I would certainly be learning from my colleagues, but I wondered if it had occurred to anyone else that we don’t need to be experts to learn from each other.  My experiences and knowledge should be shared for the edification and learning of others, colleagues and students alike.  Perhaps some of you knew this already, but it’s all new to me, and there I go learning again!

When I read The Steep “Unlearning Curve,” I laughed out loud.  It was like we were on the same page – I was reading my own thoughts!

“We need to unlearn the premise that we know more than our kids, because in many cases, they can now be our teachers as well.”

I may know more than my students in some areas, but I am sure that I’ll be learning from them too!

Here’s a rhetorical question: When teachers have all their lesson plans completed, and stay in the same school, teaching the same class, do they stop learning?  I hope not.  I also hope I never stop learning, because how boring would that be?

I’m still becoming an Innovative Life-Long Learner, because it’s all about the journey, not a destination.

Work in Progress Mural project - Udavi Gentillesse School - India Source: The Guardian
Work in Progress
Mural project – Udavi Gentillesse School – India
Source: The Guardian

What are you reading? Monday, April 27, 2015

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie loves the theater, even if she can’t sing well enough to try out for her school musical, “Moon over Misissippi.” Instead, she becomes the set designer for the drama department stage crew, with some great ideas for set pieces.

But when drama and romance—both onstage and off—cause problems, Callie finds that set design may be the easiest part of putting on a play.  Callie is likable, hardworking, and enthusiastic, but she is as confused about relationships and love as any young teen, and she flits from crush to crush in a believable fashion.

Drama is clearly teen oriented.  Telgemeier tells a cheerful story with realistic portrayals of middle-school characters. Nonactors will love having the spotlight shine on the backstage action, but even those who shun the stage altogether will identify with this roller-coaster ride through young teen emotions. Telgemeier addresses issues such as homosexuality simply and without over-the-top fanfare.

Her deceptively simple art is similar to “Archie” comics, but it is grounded in a firm sense of style and washed in warm colors to give the story an open, welcoming feel. I especially enjoyed how she used theatrical details like “Act 2” and an Intermission curtain part way through the story.  This realistic and sympathetic story reveals Telgemeier’s keen eye for young teen life.

Yaqui by Meg MedinaYaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award

This excellent novel features Piedad “Piddy” Sanchez, a Latina girl who does well in school, thanks to her determination to get into a good school and the support of her single mother.  When Piddy transfers to a new school and hears that Yaqui Delgado plans to beat her up, she has no idea why she has become a target of a bully.  The mysterious Yaqui has decided that Piddy is stuck up, shakes her booty too much, and has eyes for her boyfriend.  Piddy wouldn’t know Yaqui’s boyfriend if she fell over him, but that is beside the point.

Piddy comes to life in this story, and it feels like you know her.  Medina’s excellent use of Spanish interspersed in the dialogue helps to build not only the atmosphere, but the characters of her mother and the sassy Lila, her mother’s best friend.

Bullying is a very serious topic, and this book stands head and shoulders above others.  Even though the subject matter is rather grim, there are some lighter points. The ending was very honest and realistic.  A pleasant and fast read; classic bullying/coming of age/cultural confusion girl novel. Good selection for middle and lower high school age students.

The Dance of Autumn by Vicky DeWald

DiamondsA brown willow leaf taps my hand.

Shall we dance?  I look up

Marshmallow fluff, swift through azure sky,

Sunlight sparkles, a million shattered diamonds

Glittering on the waves.

The red burning bush bows to the tall thistle

She tosses her plumes with a flip

They swirl, and they twirl and they dip, dancing

To the crickets harmonious song.

A lime green miller, bumble bee and monarch butterfly

Flutter by and linger over bright faced daisies

Periwinkle dragonflies cruise low, racing by

RushesA frog squats in the grass, warming in the sun

Watching warily with one twitching eye.

Shocks of yellow, tufts of gold

Tucked among fifty shades of green

A flashing silver fish leaps out of the bay

Twisting for its lunch, with a splash

Thick reeds and rushes wave it away.

A breeze rushes across the water

To join in the celebration

And the willow, leaves “all aflutter,”

Swings and sways,

Long tendrils trailing around her.


Dehydrating: What about it?

As most of you know by now, my independent learning project was experimenting with dehydrating food for long term storage, to take camping or, my favorite reason, making a healthy organic snack!

risksdemotivator As with most things, I approached it with confidence, imagining that I would be successful in all the experiments I chose, and of course, not all of them were successful.  However, I was not deterred, and pressed on!  Some of them, like the peas and corn, I probably won’t do again, unless I really need dried vegies to pack for a big trip.  The sweet potato dog treats were a total failure, but I have another idea to try for that, and will try again!

Dehydrating BibleIt was quite easy for me to be motivated to experiment with dehydrating because I like to preserve food all kinds of ways, and I got a big, new dehydrator for Christmas!  The challenging part was finding the time! (Am I right?!)  I had no shortage of ideas to dehydrate, thanks to my Dehydrator Bible and Pinterest!

The best part happened when I was successful and my family gobbled up the goodies – like the beef jerky (VERY popular with the men folk) and the caramel apple slices (VERY popular with me!).  I’m certain those two snacks will show up again in the future – nom, nom, nom…

This type of project might work well in the classroom as a way for me to get to know the students, as a presentation tool and as a writing tool.  I could ask them to produce a project (with parameters and time limit) based on their interests.  I could then assign a “proposal” piece of writing, detailing why they chose that project, and submitted for pre-approval.  Then I could assign another written reflection after the project is completed, detailing how the project was created and what it means to them.  Of course, when the project is completed, I would ask them to share it with the class.  This will achieve several goals: 1) the students get to choose the project, 2) in something that interests them, 3) may work on it during class time, 4) share it with the class, and 4) it will be used as another writing assignment.  And if possible, I would display their projects in the school.  Now, I just need to figure out how many state standards I can pin to that project!!

Thanks Dr. Ellington, for the idea for my classes! I’m sure my students will thank you too!

live like the gates open


What are you reading? Monday, April 20, 2015

Allegiant by Veronica RothAllegiant by Veronica Roth (third and final book in the Divergent series)

If you loved Divergent, think twice before reading Allegiant.  This book was unlike the other books in the series, and left me with more questions than answers.  Also, the dual narrator pattern was confusing and didn’t work.  Tobias and Tris virtually have the same experiences and perspective, and it was difficult to remember who was talking!  I spent a lot of time trying to remind myself whose voice I was reading.  What happened to Four, the Dauntless legend, the one who was sensitive but tough, the one who took charge rather than let other people lead him?

Spoiler Alert:  Backstory revealed

In this book, we learn how the factions came to be, and how/why the people are so different.  Many years ago, in order to cure people of undesirable traits such as cowardice, selfishness, aggression, low intelligence and dishonesty – which were believed to be the cause of all of humanity’s problems. (That sounds a little judgmental doesn’t it?) So, some scientists figured out how to remove the specific genes that caused these traits. The alterations began to take effect after a few generations, and what they discovered was that removing the gene for one trait just enhanced another bad trait, leading to a war between those who had been genetically altered and those who hadn’t. Then the leadership sought to correct that mistake by rounding up scores of genetically damaged people, sticking “corrected” genes in them, and locking them up in a controlled environment (the factions, in one city) to wait for them to reproduce enough times for the bad genes to heal and return to a state of genetic purity (aka divergence).  I’m not sure how you find the gene for personality, but that sounds like a warning against manipulating genes if ever there was one!

The worst part is that the backstory is anticlimactic – it does nothing to move the plot forward, rather it only wraps it up in the tedious Tris/Tobias “univoice.”  Is this Truman Show the purpose and ultimate culmination of the story?  I don’t expect the “happily ever after” for every story, but this book ended poorly.  This book was long and unfulfilling, perhaps the author should have let the story end at Divergent – at least there was a challenging story and hope for the future at the end.  As you might guess, I wasn’t impressed with the final installation of this series.  Read at your own risk…of boredom.

Creating a Pinterest Pin with Canva

After reading “Online Creation Tools: Piktograph and Canva,” and “Take 5: Comic Book/Strip Creation Tools,” I chose the online tool Canva to create a small poster. I worked through the tutorial, and it seemed very easy, so I moved on and selected a template of picture placements, a grid for pictures.

The template had text and several sample photographs set in a graph.  I assumed the template photos could be replaced with my own photographs. I uploaded several of my final product photos from my dehydrating project, and proceeded to replace the pictures on the template. All of the photos sized themselves right into the template – very slick! Then I hit a snag…

I attempted to replace the text on the template, with no luck at all. I read the help tab, and went to the support page searching for additional instructions, and I clicked, and clicked, and right clicked, until I just about threw the mouse across the room! There was no text box to click on as the instructions stated. No picture covered up the text. No background covered the text. Nothing I did could get the text off of the template, so I finally scrapped that template and looked for another one.

Organic Snacks 3I selected a template quick “advertising” post for Pinterest, linking to my website, featuring organic snacks created through dehydrating. It only required one photograph (instead of the four I had previously), the text boxes worked, and I could change, not only the text, but the font as well. I decided to create a simple advertisement, with a title, subtitle, subtext and a reference to my blogsite. (Of course my blog isn’t dedicated to dehydrating, but I’m just practicing here, right?) Not much text is necessary on this type of graphic because it’s created to stir interest for a website, not provide details.

I’m a “show me” person, so I would prefer to learn new programs or graphic tools in the classroom with an instructor present. It was very frustrating reading instructions that were of no use because the template didn’t function as it should. Another down side to it is that all pictures that I would like to upload for use in a poster would need to be manipulated with another program prior to uploading it. There are very few options for manipulation in the program (cropping, for example).

This could be useful for small informational posters in the classroom because pictures are stimulating in learning. Canva could be especially useful for instructing ESL students, by connecting pictures to words. I would need to work with it more to become comfortable. I’m still more comfortable with PowerPoint and Excel for now.