Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Lobstah Truck Style

Today I am thankful for heading on a little adventure with my friend Leslie! We have been talking about lobster rolls and making a visit to the Lobster Truck all summer. Sadly, we never made UNTIL... today! Yes, we FINALLY made it!  We enjoyed a nice, relaxing hour long lunch in the park. Chatting...breathing in the fresh, winter air...AND enjoying our lostah rolls! Not bad, for a Thursday afternoon in December!

We made it!

LOVE how cute it is!

Waiting in line with everyone else.

Almost there....what to get, what to get!

Went with the original meal.

Can you say DEE-LISH!

Cute little statue in the park.

Loving the down time of winter break...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Loving Pinterest

I was going through my Google Reader this morning and came across this post by Kristen about a great list of educational apps on Pinterest. Pinterest is all abuzz right now with people sharing and pinning all the things they love. I have seen it all over my rss feeds from DIY blogers, but never thought of it as a way to share apps. Kuddos to Dan Callahan for a great idea!

So...thanks Dan and Kristen for shedding some new light on my Pinterest curiosity! I think I may be sitting here a bit longer as I pin all the apps I have on my iPad and the ones we are using for our 1:1 iPad program at FHS.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Toys for Tots

Can't believe a whole week has flown by and another Thursday is here! Maybe it is harder to believe that I have not blogged in a whole week after blogging every day for a month!

Anyway...this week I am thankful for organizations like Toys for Tots. Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a service project helping prepare gift bags for needy children. To be honest, I did not know too much about the organization, but what better way to learn more about it - than spend  a morning doing service for them! I met some really great people, learned more about the organization Volunteer Fairfax, and most importantly learned about Toys for Tots goal (which I love)...
The primary goal of the Foundation is the same as that of the overall Toys for Tots Program: i.e. –  to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them into becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. 

What's not to love... an organization that helps to make a happy Christmas for those children who may otherwise have not received anything. I know, I know... the holidays are not all about the toys, but for some kids this may be all that they have...

I did learn that there are MANY generous people out there. A lot of the donations that we unpacked and sorted were for children ages 0-11...not too many things for the teenage children. I guess we forget that teenagers appreciate fun things too. So..if you are thinking about making a donation this holiday season, consider donating something for a teen boy or girl and give to Toys for Tots.

Lots of Toys to Choose From

Bike Donations
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
- Thornton Wilder

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Photo (cc) C├ęsar Poyatos
Today I am thankful for winter breaks...

Looking forward to some down time with family and friends.

Reading, watching movies, having coffee dates, and just doing nothing...

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.  ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Love What You Do, Do What You Love

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~Confucius
For those in the field of education, we go to a school every day. For some it may be a job...for others it is work. For me, it is a place that I look forward to after day. The energy, spirit, learning, and sense of community are so inspiring to me...

Here is an example of some of the great teaching and learning at Flint Hill School and why I LOVE what I do...

One of my second grade teachers created this lesson on creating pictographs using the Keynote, PS Express, and camera apps. The best part of the lesson...supporting and watching this teacher shine!  She is a poster child for my support model of -  I teach, you watch...I teach, you support...You teach, I support...You teach, I watch. She did one amazing job, and I was one proud mama bear!

Not too many people can say they love what they do...Fortunately for me, I have found a school that I LOVE going to each and every day!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for my husband who has a passion for amphibians, specifically toads. He has taught me how to love our 8 little, bumpy friends. Here is a video of "Harriet" looking for some dinner on her way to bed. Hope you enjoy the 48 second clip...


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo = The End

Photo (cc) michellerle

Today is the last day of November...which means it's also the last day of NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month! I really can't believe that I made it, well not exactly...but almost! I feel like I need to have a little party for myself!

As mentioned before, I have learned so much from this experience...

One thing I know for sure is that as we move into December, I hope to take the lessons learned and continue with regular postings...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Choices We Make

This amazing TEDx Talk by Amy Purdy is inspirational, powerful, and heart warming. The raw emotion she showed was so genuine and pure. She explains that the choices we make determine how are lives will be, not by what happens to us. She says you have two options when faced with hardships...
Let it beat you down OR get creative and discover a way to use it to your advantage.
Imagination allows us to break down borders, to move beyond our circumstances, to create and constantly progress.
The next time I am feeling defeated about things that are happening in my life, I will watch Amy's talk and remember to NOT let it beat me down, but rather get creative and choose to take whatever it may be as a learning experience.

Monday, November 28, 2011

iPad App Goes Viral

Book Creator has gone viral in the Lower School! Currently students in grades K-2 are all writing stories using Book Creator. I am so excited with how my teachers and students have taken to this fabulous app!

Prior to using the app, I taught a 30-45 minute guided discovery with each class.  Below is an example of a kindergarten student who created a book in about 2, 30 minute being the guided discovery that I did with his class and the other during an indoor recess time! Imagine that...students choosing to write/create during recess!

What I thought was even cooler...was how he incorporated 2 additional apps to create and edit his pictures. First, he added pictures from his camera roll. Next, he created the rainy/rainbow pictures using the CHALK_BOARD app. Then, he took screen shots of his drawings. Finally, he used the PS Express app to rotate the rainy/rainbow pictures...saved them and then inserted into his final page...pretty amazing for a kindergartener!

The icing on the cake...seeing his reaction when he shared his book to me via email and then, that was priceless! 

...have I mentioned lately just how much I LOVE what I do!

(I am sure that all the elementary teachers out there can translate his writing. For everyone else...see the captions)

Leaves come from Maple trees and Oak trees
Turkeys are not fast runners, but the skinny ones are.

Lego people are delicate.
Plants need water to grow and the sun.

Rainbows come after rainy days.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Home Stretch

Photo (cc) Anne
It's hard to believe that 27 days ago Andrew from TieandJeans suggested doing a 30 day blogging challenge....I anxiously agreed, not knowing if I could do it. 3 weeks and 6 days later...I have made the turn and am heading into the home stretch!  I did it... AND there actually may be hope for me as a blogger! Here is a reflection of my blogging journey and a few things that I have learned along the way...

  • Blogging is enjoyable, when you have things to write about.
  • It's a challenge on Friday nights when you want to come home from work and crash on the couch.
  • Having a few posts in draft form would help with my Friday night frustrations.
  • Making a list of blogging topics is an essential tool for me...I often think of things to blog about on my drive home...if I don't write them down, I forget about them (well...maybe not write them down WHILE I am driving).
  • Some of my posts that were posted out of desperation for making a post that day were TED Talks, pictures, or quotes...funny thing...some of those posts generated a lot of traffic.
  • Learning to move beyond my embarrassment and fear of writing. As Seth Godin says...
Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.
  • Reading blogs, LOTS of blogs has helped me in my blogging journey.
  • I don't blog for others, but for my learning...although, it is cool to look at the stats and to receive a comment or two.
  • I often say that I don't articulate my thoughts well...I have learned to just write how I talk and eventually I will find my voice.
  • By blogging, I am modeling to my teachers who may be interested in blogging.
  • I am setting a good example to my students on how to have a positive digital footprint.
  • I have more posts in one month than I have had in two years...this is exciting, people!
  • I was not 100% on my 30 days = 30 posts...I missed 3 days...I still think this is a major accomplishment!
  • Starting this 30 day challenge has me thinking of other 30 day challenges I can start.
  • I was able to accomplish this goal because I believed in myself.
As I come to the end of my 30 day challenge...I may not write a post a day, but I KNOW I WILL continue down this blogging path...A special thank you to Andrew for pushing me out of my comfort zone!
Dare to believe - because believing makes it so.  
- Beth Mende Conny

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Movie Series

I LOVE this time of year...decorating, baking, celebrating, traditions, and giving. One of my favorite holiday traditions is watching seasonal movies. Today I started the holiday movie series with Love Actually (2003). It is a British romantic comedy about different aspects of love told through ten separate stories. A must see for the holiday season!

Here are a few more that I will be watching over the next month...

Planes Trains and Automobiles  (1987)

A Christmas Story (1983)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Die Hard (1988)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I think Seth Godin says it best...

A great way to give thanks... 
for the privileges we've got is to do important work.
Your job, your internet access, your education, your role in a civilized society... all of them are a platform, a chance to do art, a way for you to give back and to honor those that enabled you to get to this point.
For every person reading this there are a thousand people (literally a thousand) in underprivileged nations and situations that would love to have your slot. Don't waste it.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learning Numbers Through the Lens of an iPad

Another great day of learning in the JK house! To show their understanding of number sense, students placed various objects on construction paper to represent numbers 1 thru 10. They used the camera app on the iPad to take pictures of each number represented. I wish I could have bottled the excitement in the room! These little four year olds were so engaged in what they were doing...doesn't get any better than this! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

One Day of Peace

Imagine what life would be like with more peace in the world...even if for one day. Jeremy Gilley turns his dream into reality. Worth the 17:41 of your time...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tweaking a Lesson

One thing I love about teaching is that when a lesson doesn't go in the direction that you had envisioned, you can tweak it and try again with another class...

Our language arts coach, first grade teacher and I planned a fiction writing lesson using the Book Creator app. First, students would gather their ideas using a graphic organizer. Then, using just the graphic organizer and their iPad they would begin writing their story. We weren't sure how this was going to turn out, but we thought we'd go for it anyway...

On Monday, Joey (LA Coach) introduced the lesson to the class. She read the story she had created and published in Book Creator and modeled how students were going to use the graphc organizer to gather their thoughts for their fiction story. The next day, I came in and did a guided discovery of the app. Students discovered the many features the app had to offer.  They practiced adding text and making layouts. By Wednesday, students were ready to begin and were eagerly waiting to start writing! How great is that?! As they began to work we noticed that most of the class knew exactly what they wanted to write. They gathered their thoughts and started typing away...a few others had a bit of a challenge taking their thoughts and putting it into a story while trying to type. To help them with the process, we decided to have them tell us their story. This seemed to help them a lot. This got thinking...

What other apps did they have on their machines that would assist them with the writing process? Then I remembered...they had Quick Voice! Quick Voice is a voice recorder app that is super easy to use...Students could use Quick Voice to record/listen to their story and then use Book Creator to draft, edit, design, and then publish to iBooks. This would be perfect! I will let you know how it goes when we try it out with the next class...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for a job that I love and am passionate about...
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It Never Hurts to Ask

While visiting Cedars School last year, one of the many lessons that I learned from their teachers, was that it never hurts to contact App developers. I remember Alison telling me how they had contacted the developer of the Toontatsic App to ask them to make some modifications. To my surprise the developer worked with Cedars and made the adjustments...

Fast forward about six months and we finally had an opportunity to contact a developer. We had purchased the Magnabet App and noticed that it had a variety of punctuation marks for students to use, but it did not have a "period." I told the teacher that I was working with that I would contact the developer to see if they can add the never hurts to ask, right? Well...later that night, I emailed the developer and less than 15 minutes later I received the following response...SCORE!

I was so excited that I emailed my teachers to let them know what took place and to encourage them to do the same.

On Monday, I received the following email from our Language Arts coach about contacting the developers of the Book Creator App...

Of course, I was SUPER excited for her! Here is the response she got from the developer...

And another response she received from Dan...

Lesson never hurts to ask! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's Not About the Flashy Tools

 Seth Godin's writes about adversity and the route to success. He says the following...
Resource-rich regions often fall behind in developing significant industrial and cultural capabilities. Japan does well despite having very few resources at all.Well-rounded and popular people rarely change the world. The one voted most likely to succeed probably won't.Genuine success is scarce, and the scarcity comes from the barriers that keep everyone from having it. If it weren't for the scarcity, it wouldn't be valuable, after all.It's difficult to change an industry, set a world record, land big clients, or do art that influences others. When faced with this difficulty, those with other, seemingly better options see the barrier and walk away.Why bother? The thinking is that we can just pump some more oil or smile and gladhand our way to an acceptably happy outcome.On the other hand, people who believe they have fewer options take a look at the barrier and realize that even though it will be difficult to cross, it's the single best option they've got.This is one of the dangers of overfunded/undertested startup companies. Without an astute CEO in charge, they begin to worry more about not losing what they've already got than the real reason they started the project in the first place.
When I read this it makes me think of schools...

Are the schools with the most resources the ones with the most resourceful/creative teachers who are thinking outside the box...pushing their students to collaborate, communicate, create, and think critically?

I don't know the answer, but I can make a good assumption based upon my experiences working in various schools and counties the past 15 years...

As far as I am's not about the flashy's about the learning.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"It's a Book, I Have to Print It"

I was reading a post by Dr. Schuester over at The View from My Windowless Office about students having to create poster board projects when they are living in a 1:1 laptop environment. She poses the question "How do we release teachers from feeling that they have to decorate their walls with student work to prove the students are learning?" She suggests that teachers use the technology that the students have so that they can share their projects electronically with peers, parents, and the community. It seems so obvious, right? Well...

Her post brought me back to a conversation I was having with a few teachers about the Book Creator App. It went something like this...I was explaining how simple the App was to they could have students create picture, ABC, number, fiction, non-fiction, and how-to books with a few easy finger taps and swipes.  I proceeded with excitement to explain that the best part was when they shared their finished book, they had the option to open it in iBooks! Just imagine all your students publishing their books and seeing them on the iBook, book shelf...AND they could even email their books to their classmates! I thought wouldn't this be a way to give our students an authentic writing experience...A way for them to create, collaborate, and communicate with others? We started making progress and...THEN...the question was asked..."Can students print the books when they are done?" Why do they NEED to print, I asked? Because IT'S A BOOK and kids like having their books. All I heard was Charlie Brown's teacher saying....Wanh, wanh! I know, I know change is hard...

I guess this is why I need to head back to the "shallow end" for awhile...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

36 Hours in Atlanta

Today has been a whirlwind of a day. Flew to Atalnta this morning with 7 other colleagues to visit an Apple site school in the morning. We talked shop over lunch at Atlanta Fish Market and then had about a 2 hour meeting/brainstorming session at our hotel. It was a great meeting where we hashed out what developing a professional brand looks like, discussed ways to use social media in school to develop our professional brand and as a marketing tool. In addition, we also touched upon a few curricular topics in lower and middle school. It was a high energy meeting where a lot was accomplished. I appreciated having the time to brainstorm and set some of the ideas in motion. Our meeting conversation continued into dinner at Local Three. All, in all today was a perfect blend of collaboration, socialization, and indulging in local cuisine!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A New Approach

I have been thinking a lot about my work with teachers these days. Some days feeling really great about what I do... and others are a bit more challenging. Yesterday was a perfect example of feeling great about what I do...I had about 10-12 teachers attend my weekly "Appy Hour." Teachers come to collaborate and share how they have been using their iPads in the classroom. They share new Apps, projects they may be doing with their students, and tips/tricks they have discovered. I LOVE this time. Teachers come because they want to, not because they are forced into it for PD. I may entice them with cookies, muffins, or pumpkin roll...but for the most part I think they are there to learn and collaborate with their colleagues. I received one of the nicest compliments shortly after Appy Hour was over...
Just wanted to say THANK YOU for holding these Appy Hours… Every time I go, I walk away with new apps and new ideas from you and others who join the group… Not to mention the yummy food/ snacks you share.
This made me smile and gave me reassurance that I am doing my job. Fortunately or unfortunately I do not live in Utopia. While the majority of my days are great, there are those days/weeks that are just one challenge after another. When I have these days, I often question what I could be doing differently to support my I offer more trainings, hold more 1:1 sessions, create training documents/resources, etc, etc...

Well, today as I was going through my Google Reader I came across Jen's blog post. She articulated everything that I have been thinking for the past couple of weeks. I love her analogy of "heading back to the shallow end of the pool." She explains that there are 4 types of teachers in education today....

a.  The ones that are comfy in the deep end of the pool.   (This is pretty much anyone within my twitter network, the people who write the blogs I follow, conference speakers, the DEN network, etc) 
b.  The ones who are comfy in the shallow end of the pool.  (This includes most (but not all) of the people who participate in my projects, many of the teachers on my campus, and a majority of people I speak with through this blog and at conferences.) 
c.  The ones who are sitting in the lounge chairs near the pool.  (This includes the lurkers we all know who are seeing what is happening in education, but are still quite comfortable where they are sitting.) 
d.  And the one’s who refuse to exist that the pool even exists.   (no more needs to be said here.) 
And I have realized, and I have decided, that I am heading back to the shallow end of the pool.   I think it is much more important for me to be in the shallow end of the pool.   I know I have stopped being effective when all I do is holler “come on out, the water is fine” when indeed what I need to do is head back to the shallow end and work with the MANY there to help them get to the deep end.
So from now on, I am going to exist more with the group #2 and #3.

When I read this post it was like an "Ah Ha" moment for me! Instead of getting down on myself, I am going to try a new approach and work with the teachers who are "sitting in the lounge chairs by the pool" and those "that are comfy in the shallow end of the pool." Hopefully, my willingness to go back to the shallow end will be more effective in getting more teachers to venture off into the deep end.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

Thanks to those who are serving and have served...

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.- John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Make Today a Masterpiece

This morning, I was talking with my Division Director about how fast the school year seemed to be going. We were having a hard time believing that Thanksgiving is just two weeks away. In a teachers world..we have two weeks until Thanksgiving, five weeks until winter break, and then it's all down hill from there...pathetic as it may seem - many of us start thinking about the next school year when we return from winter break.

You see, I work in a very frenetic paced school. Don't get me wrong...I THRIVE on this pace. I feel more organized and energized when the day is full. However, I often get caught up with everything that needs to be done and what's ahead, that I forget to slow down and appreciate each day for what it is..a gift, a blessing, a masterpiece.

So...on this "Thankful Thursday" I vow to slow down a bit and smell the roses...appreciate the vibrant colors on the trees and see the breathtaking sunsets on my way home. I am thankful for each day that I have been given. I will let go of the past, I am not going to be anxious about tomorrow...Instead, I will trust in today, and enjoy today, living life to the fullest.
Too often we get distracted by what's outside our control. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. And you can't do anything about tomorrow; it is yet to come. However, tomorrow is determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece." 
- John Wooden

Life is Short...Live Your Dream

The folks at Holstee have just released a video to go along with their manifesto. If you haven't MUST! 

It's a no brainer is short. Find your PASSION...not tomorrow, not in a week...FIND it NOW and START LIVING YOUR DREAM!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ah Ha Moments

I love "Ah Ha" moments! I love them more when they come from teachers! Today was a double header with the Ah Ha moments!

"Ah Ha" moment #1... chatting with a teacher about iPads. One of her comments to me was "What's so great about the iPad, is that I don't have to know how to do everything with them; and that's OK, because my students are teaching me! I am learning from them and I love it...they are so engaged and excited about learning!"

"Ah Ha" moment #2... working with a teacher after school on ways to share her human body exit interviews with students families. I could see the light bulb go off and the next thing I know we were talking about her creating a YouTube account for her class to share their video projects with family and friends.

As mentioned before, we just rolled out 400 iPads in grades JK thru 4. So...there has been a lot of change in the Lower School division at my school. 

As with anything new...change is hard. I am so thankful for the "Ah Ha" moments that these two teachers had today and look forward to more moments like these...

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.  - Alan Watts

Monday, November 7, 2011


If you want happiness for an hour - take a nap. If you want happiness for a day - go fishing. If you want happiness for a month - get married. If you want happiness for a year - inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime - help others.
- Chinese Proverb
Teaching English to students in Na Som, Laos

Teaching English to Monks in Luang Prabang, Laos

Planting rice in Ban Chiang Yuen, Thailand

Delivering meals to elderly people in Ban Chiang Yuen, Thailand

Donating 2,400,000  kip to an island village in Laos