Sunday, December 30, 2012

#Rechat...A Saturday Surprise

Sometimes I think things happen for a reason and today was one of those I look back over my winter break, I find that I have taken a much needed mental break from school.  I had a very busy fall and really needed to disconnect from a lot of things...However, yesterday I stumbled upon  #rechat and fell back into the groove quickly. The hour long chat went so quickly and there was so many great conversations happening, that it actually felt good to be easing my way back into the school mode. 

 If you are not sure what #rechat is, it is a Twitter chat that happens on Saturday mornings at 9:00 EST with the goal to "rethink, reflect, and re-imagine education. #rechat was started by John T. Spencer, who blogs at edrethink.

Yesterdays topic was about the role of play in school. Paula White moderated the can read her reflection here

Let's take a look at some of the great thinking and sharing that took place during the chat....

I love this quote from John. I think he really hit the nail on the head here. "Play" is almost treated as a four letter word in school. If you are "playing," well, then you MUST NOT be learning!

I think play is most needed in Middle and Upper school. That's when all the fun is drained out of learning because it is being replaced with content, content, and more content. Ugh...I think content is important, but not at the cost of our students future.

Crazy how fear drives everything that we do or do not do...I love this quote by Seth Godin...."Fear is the dream killer, the silent voice that pushes us to lose our passion in a vain attempt to seek safety. While you can work hard to dream smaller dreams, I think it's better to embrace the fear and find bigger goals instead." Isn't it OUR JOB to help guide students in finding their dreams and passions? Why, then would we let OUR FEAR snuff out our students dreams and passions...

Exactly! It is a shift in our thinking as teachers and as parents. It looks and feels scary because this is not the way we were taught. Does this mean that it's the wrong way then? I don't think so...but I would rather test out this process and fail and learn along the way, than not having the opportunity to at all.

I think play is anything and everything when you are discovering, exploring, being curious, asking questions, looking for answers…can't this be done with all ages? OR is learning defined by how well a student performs on a test or even worse a standardized test.

This makes me really sad to hear and know that so much of the hands on learning that once no longer happening. I guess the #maker movement is trying to help with bringing some of it back...

I will close with another quote and you think "it's possible to learn without play?"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hope in Humanity

"How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed. But what an imprint your footsteps have left upon our hearts.” 
~ Dorothy Ferguson

Thinking about all those lives that have been affected...if there ever was a is the time, to not lose hope in humanity...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thank You

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation 
is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~ John F. Kennedy

Photo Credit: John H. Gray
Thank you to those who are serving and have served our country.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Feeling Like Myself Again

Photo Credit: jennaream 
So much for keeping up with NaBloPoMo and digiwrimo...My last post was on the 7th...

I guess it started later in the day on Friday and lasted ALL.DAY.LONG. It's really hard to explain a migraine to someone who has never had one. It is excruciating pain...above my left eye all the way back to the base of my head.

I can't really focus on anything and have to lay down with pillows over my head to block out the light and sound. Usually, I just take a Maxalt or two and then I am good to go. Problem was I didn't have any more pills and needed an updated prescription so there was nothing left to save me. I had to power through it...

Today is a new day and am feeling back to my normal self. It feels good to be able to get things done...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Technology a Catalyst for Change

I have never been comfortable with the term "mastered." Some people will say that I am a master of technology because the word "technology" is in my job title. Others will say I am an iPad master because I am fluent and knowledgeable with using iPads in education or I have mastered the art of organization because I am super organized.  I like to think of it more along the lines of being comfortable with problem solving, learning, and failing...

Jeff Utecht writes that in todays world we have to become comfortable with always being a beginner.

"This is the world we live in. Things change, and change without warning. Yesterday I felt I was a very productive user of Gmail. Today I was a beginner. Today I had to learn, I had to play with a program that I had mastered and start over at being a beginner.
And….I’m OK with that because I realize I’m really never going to master anything again. I’m constantly working towards mastery but as soon as I think I have reached it, things change, progression comes, and I’m back at the beginning. I live in a state of prepetual beta."
 I don't know if you have to be comfortable with always being a beginner...I think it is being comfortable with not being "an expert" and having the "I think I can" mindset...a problem solving, curious, patient, teacher who is not afraid of failure = one powerful message being sent to students.

Change is hard...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful for the Right to Vote

A few quotes for the day...

"If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children."    ~ Coretta Scott King

“Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals, and to imagine that together we can do great things.
In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.”   
~ Caroline Kennedy 

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, November 5, 2012

10 Things Teachers [Should] Know

Another post lost in September, but will be brought back to life in November for NaBloPoMo and dgiwrimo!

I was reading Michelle's post 10 Things Entrepreneurs [Should] Know and obviously it made me think of teaching and learning. I think these 10 things can apply to any teacher no matter how long you have been in the field...(my comments are in blue). What else would you add to the list?

1.  You’re never finished. There’s always more to be done. Bigger plans, more emails, another phone call, scheduled meetings, surprise encounters…Researching new techniques, emails to read/reply to, phone calls to make, meetings to attend, parent meetings, conferences, grading, plans to create, etc. 

2.  You have to set boundaries. For yourself, your relationships, your time, your values, your abilities, your email checking. Prioritize, identify what is important to you, and rank your daily to-do list...Make to-do lists every week, prioritize, be part of positive conversations, don't like something...change it, don't complain about it.

3.  Everyone has an opinion. That doesn’t mean you have to take their advice. Listen, and take what works for you... Be an active listener. You can always learn something new.

4.  You’ll be scared and nervous and anxious as hell. Starting is scary. It doesn’t go away, but it gets better... After 17 years of teaching...I am still nervous/anxious about the start of school, but once it gets going I am loving every minute of it!

5.  You will fail. And you’ll fail hard. You’ll really f— something up, but you’ll learn from it and you’ll change it for next time...Yes, lessons will fail! The will learn from your mistakes and the lesson will be even better.

6.  Not every idea is a slam dunk. That’s OK... It is GREAT to have ideas, but remember to be open to new ones too.

7.  Celebrate the wins. Even the really small ones. If you don’t recognize where you’re going and how far you’ve come, you won’t want to keep moving forward...When one of your students has an "AhHa" moment, you have an "AhHa" moment, you tried something new, a smile made your day.

8.  It’s OK to ask for help. It’s impossible to know all there is to know about everything that is involved with running a business. Find people who can help and don’t be afraid to admit ignorance... It's OK to ask for help. It's OK to ask for help. (get it)

9.  It’s a process. You learn to ride the tide. Sometimes it’s in your favor, other times you’re swimming in the ocean for what seems like forever. There will be another wave, you’ll get to the shore, and then you can swim back out and do it all over again...Identify the crazy times of the year and mentally prepare for them. 

10.  It’s OK. It’s going to be OK. You’re OK. What you don’t know is OK. What people think of you is OK. Be OK with yourself...Take a deep will be all be OK.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spark Truck Made a Visit to FHS

Not sure why I never ended up posting this two months ago...

Anyway, thanks to Andrew and Shannan the Spark Truck made a stop at Flint Hill. It was a great day to see this fourth grade class exploring and creating. Wishing students had more than just a few hours to explore and create...Shouldn't school always be about exploring, creating and making?

It's About Learning..Not Technology

So it is day four of my NaBloPoMo or digwrimo and I am already a day behind! Two lessons learned here...when I know I am going to be really busy and possibly traveling, I need to plan ahead so that I don't get behind AND it looks like I will be posting twice today (does that still count!)?

Dean Shareski at EduCon 2.4 
As I was catching up on my Google feed, I noticed that there are also a lot of people talking about learning...thankfully I follow some smart people :) because they seem to articulate what I have been thinking...I have great blog posts in my head...I just don't seem to be able to get them down in writing...

Once again, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano created another amazing presentation about learning...

Learning2learn from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

She gives me inspiration that some day I too, can articulate the thoughts or "posts" that I have in my head down into an actual post or slide deck...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Born to Learn

Photo Credit cogdogblog
I have been thinking about learning a lot these days...What makes us learn? Does everyone love to learn? Do all teachers love to learn? How do we learn? Do we learn best in varied environments? Do we learn by doing? By listening? By listening and doing? As usual, I have more questions than answers and this is not something that I can "Google" to get the answer.

What I do know is that I am a passionate and curious explorer. Many colleagues and friends think that I am passionate about technology, because that is what my job title says. When in reality, I am passionate about learning. I have always loved learning...I think that is one of the many reasons that I love to travel so much...I get to learn about new countries, cultures, customs, food, smells, transportation, life, experiences, I could go on and on...

So it was kind of ironic  when I stumbled upon Maggies's post about allowing natural curiosity to flourish. Her blog referenced a set of videos from Born to Learn. Born to Learn is a series of thought provoking animations on how humans learn. Here are a few things that they say about learning...
"Most of today's schools are based on the assumption that children are born to be taught, rather than to learn."
"Children learn incredibly quickly by following the example of people they admire."
"If the wrong model of learning is country will ever get the results it seeks." 
So, have we been applying the wrong model of learning in our schools? I think so, what do you think?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another Year, Another Challenge

Photo Credit BasketMakers
Here we go again! It's November 1 and that means it is #digiwrimo aka digital writing month. It's crazy to think that Andrew challenged me with this task about one year ago...where has that year gone!?

This past year has had 53 posts (more than doubled what I had posted in the previous 2 years!), a 1:1 iPad rollout, a 900+ MacBook Air rollout, an iPad summit, 9,000 page views, a trip to Panama, a trip to Guatemala, lots of thinking about learning, a LOT of learning, living life, and the daily ups and downs of a technology integrations specialist (can we change that title?)...I guess that is for another day and another post....

So here's to another year, more posts, new connections, and a LOT MORE learning...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thinking About Learning

A little food for thought...

"Knowing something is an obsolete idea. You don't actually need to know can find out at the point you ned to know it. It's the teachers job to point young minds towards the right kind of question. The teacher does not need to give any answers, because answers are everywhere. We know from years of measurements that learners that find the answers themselves retain it better than if they are told the answer." - Sugata Mitra

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What is School For

I thought I stayed on top of all things Seth. Apparently, I some how missed this little piece of inspiration. Thankful for Joey for bringing it to my attention...

There are MANY quotes that struck me in his talk, but these two really hit home...
"Fitting in is a short term strategy that gets you nowhere....standing out is a long term strategy that takes guts and produces results...If you care enough about your work to be willing to be criticized for it, then you have done a good days work."
"What people do quite naturally...if it is work...they try to figure out how to do less AND if it is art...we try and figure out how to do more." 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pursuing Your Passions

Sometimes a post stops you in your tracks...brings a tear to your you goose bumps as you read/listen. This post touched my soul...

"Better to have a short life that is what you like doing...then a long life spent in a miserable way...."
Are we teaching our children how to truly live...To explore their passions...To find their interests...To really enjoy spending their life...To really like what they are doing...To become a master at something..."What do you desire?"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Photo by chsh/ii
Thankful Thursday is back! Today I am thankful for my husband Ron. He loves and accepts me for who I am on the inside and out. He is my rock and best friend. Thank you for always encouraging me to grow and see the world in a different light...

xoxo Liss

"Find a partner who encourages you to grow, who won't cling to you, who will let you go out into the world, and trust that you will come back." ~Unknown

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Thinking About Death Clarifies Our Life"...

Catching up on my unread posts I came across this gem posted on Journey with Technology. Artist and TED fellow, Candy Chang shares her Before I Die project at TEDGlobal 2012. This gives me inspiration for what to do with a blank bulletin board in my room...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

5 Things I Learned This Summer

In an effort to get out of my blogging rut and reflect on some of my summer journeys I thought it would be easiest if I compiled a list of things I learned...

  • Appreciating the simplicity of life in Panama while living with the Embera in the rainforest and Kuna Yala natives in the San Blas Islands

  • Embera Living

    Kuna Yala Living...island style

  • Experiencing the beautiful Mayan culture in the Western Highlands of Guatemala while doing service with HSP /AMA and Parters in Service. I really missed being in South East Asia this year, but living and working with these three indigenous groups fed my soul in a different way.

Participating in a Mayan Ceremony

Our first family we helped build a stove for.

Our second family we helped build a stove for.

  • Understanding that I DO REALLY NEED to allow myself some down time. The tweets, blog posts and emails can all be put on hold. Turning my "tech" self off for 2 weeks was hard, but much needed. 

I feel energized for the new year and am looking forward to what the 2012 - 2013 school year will bring!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Curious or Insane

I am sitting here on my is early evening on Wednesday. We have been "out" of school for almost a week, however I am finding that I can't turn myself off. I should be winding down and giving myself a break....

Instead...I am going through my GoogleReader gathering ideas about new projects for next apps to sites to share...lessons to try...

Should I be winding down? I mentioned to a few teachers that I really wished we had year round school...I don't want it to end...keep the learning alive...

Is there something wrong with me OR am I just a curious being, passionate about learning...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Failure WAS an Option

I am jumping for joy right now because of this message..."Your delivery was successful!"

I have been working on publishing this book for what seems like reality it was probably only about a week. Every time I tried to "deliver"  I received an error message. 

Failure was an option, but I wouldn't let the error message break me...I Persevered...tackling each error message until...SUCCESS! 

I must admit, it feels pretty good to have officially submitted something to (hopefully) be published in the iBooks bookstore!

Stay tuned for an update on the process and a big thank you to Jane for the inspiration...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Loving Scribble Press

A couple of weeks ago Joey traveled to Allen Brook School in Williston, Vermont to spend some time in Sharon Davison's classroom. While there she also visited a second grade class.  She observed the students using the Scribble Press app to publish their realistic fiction stories. Later that day she sent me an email letting me know about this incredible app. I instantly downloaded distracted and never went back to it until last week...  

Last Thursday I was looking for apps to share at our weekly Appy Hour and stumbled back upon Scribble Press...I was hooked the instant that I opened the marker wall (anyone that knows me, knows that I am an organizational fiend)! This would be a perfect app to share with my JK -4 teachers. It was an instant success!


Long story short, my JK teachers and I did a Guided Discovery of the app today. After a brief introduction of the "Home" screen our JKers were ready to go. Due to time restrictions, the only direction that we gave them was to only explore the drawing section.

They eagerly went back to their tables and were ready to explore! To our amazement they were instantly engaged! It was amazing to see how quickly they discovered that the marker wall allowed them to change color, size, and shape. 

I then heard someone say "I found stickers" and "Look I changed the color of my background!" As we walked around the room, a few had discovered the camera we saw self portraits and big buddy pictures being added to their canvases...

There was about 20 minutes of discovery time and then they had a chance to share what they discovered. Everyone wanted to share!

It was so exciting to see how they were going about discovering, exploring, and creating...all done with little to no help from their teachers! 

Needless to say, it was an exciting 45 minutes in the JK house! 

If you would like to learn more about the Scribble Press app, check out their webpage or download the app...did I mention it's FREE! They even have a "For Educators" section with new features for teachers! 

FHS Lower School teachers and students are loving Scribble Press!





Sunday, April 22, 2012

Building Blocks for a Happy Life

One of the many lessons I have learned from my travels is that the people I have encountered in small, rural villages seem to be really happy. How is this so? At first glimpse, life seems to be so hard...traveling for basic needs such as water and in small thatched houses...little to no education...hard laborious work day after day...

Over the last couple of years I have had many thoughts about what truly makes people happy. Is it material things and possessions...degrees from prestigious universities and six figure salaries OR is it relationships, community, loving life, and service to others...

After watching  The Happy Movie I realized my thoughts were pretty close to what was shared in the film.

The Happy Movie touches upon some core principles of life...


Having new experiences

Friends and family

Doing things that are meaningful

Appreciating what we have

These are the things that truly make us happy...they are the building blocks for a happy life.