Tuesday, April 24, 2012

42 is the Answer

 I have taken a brief hiatus from the blog, but am back for at least the weekly slice. Have been working explicitly on my personal goal of achieving a perfect 6 by my nephew's fourth birthday, a fourth for both of us.  We will celebrate together hopefully in August.  I have walked away from many obstacles including cake on my birthday today. Although I had started explicitly working on my health in August 2010, it took until April 2011 for the habits that I have firmly ingrained over the past year to stick.  This past week I celebrated reaching over 400 miles  that I have actually recorded since August 2011. My aim is to get to at least 600 by the end of the school year.  I have a little over 6 weeks to do that. I know I can. Lightening is the only obstacle that will keep me from heading out.  As my companera, Erin, says or my interpretation of what she says just tying your laces is the first step in any battle.   Every step is part of my battle.  This weekend kicked off with a rain-soaked Friday walk.    Saturday morning led my feet to Pappy's where I picked 8 pounds of blueberries and 5 pounds of strawberries. Some found their way into friends' hands; other found their way into the freezer.  I love  heading out to a U-Pick with my family. I think it is important for Hope to understand that food comes from some place, plus your hard work has a reward.

Early Sunday morning, my favorite outdoor time, was chilly and my feet moved quickly through Baldwin Park.  The otters stayed in this Sunday, not enough sun.  Monday and Tuesday were two days I didn't have it in me.  Each day after work one of my companeras was at my portable door, dressed and ready to go. I  confess, if they weren't there and ready to go, I would not have made it; found so many other things more important to do, but truly  less so.  The most important part of my life this year has been to slow down. Put one foot in front of each other. Keep my life simple and good.  And that at 42 is my answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tech Tuesday

I was innovating today and no one was there to capture it. Innovating success and epic fail, not just over the course of the day, but in one class period. Highs and lows are the inevitable experiences most teachers have during the course of an instructional day. The events in my 3rd period class today illustrate how precarious using technology in schools is, even though we are in the 21st century and cultivating 21st century learners. On my twitter feed, my PLN, I remember one person saying that teachers using technology in schools today are like wizards. We truly are.

 After the fake fire drill bell in second period, when I saw how fast my freshman could actually move, the real fire drill bell sounded in third period when most of my students were taking a quiz. Not a paper quiz, but using their cell phones via Socrative, my current favorite tech tool. I have been using Socrative for two months. It was introduced to me by a beginning math teacher at my school. He was struggling because he had issues related to discipline and usage, my problems have been with technology itself and actual access. 

Socrative allows students' cell phones to perform as an instant response system. I love it. My students have loved it. It is pretty easy to use. It isn't always stable. We don't have a 1:1 tech ratio in my classroom so students use my cell phone and share each other’s when we do individual responses. It is important to figure out how to use tech in a classroom, especially if you are in a school like mine where the media center and the labs are all closed for testing for most the fourth nine weeks. I love Socrative best for the collaborative quizzes where kids have a 1:3 ratio with their hardware. When that happens, we are covered and engaged. We only need 8 web-functional phones to do so including mine. When we use it as individuals, we have a piece of writing or reading that we do while waiting for our turn.

 When the fire drill bell rang today in the midst of our quiz, we made an executive decision to keep quizzing while heading out to the field. Kids were nervous at first, especially afraid that they would get in trouble for having their cell phones out. But they did it; they stayed in a group close to me. They kept testing. It was shocking to see the range of our Wi-Fi. It let us walk far out into the practice field behind our portables. Some teachers can't even get Wi-Fi in their classrooms since the walls are like concrete bunkers. We kept quizzing. Kids wandered over wondering we were doing. "Taking a quiz," said one of my students surprisingly happy. "Man, my teacher doesn't do that!" responded one of the kids.

 When we went back into the room, we walked by a dean and one of my students said, "Look Dean B, we have our cell phones out." He didn't jump to conclusions and gave the right answer, "I am sure that you are doing something educational with Dr. Scanlon." We got right back to the business of writing and quizzing and the power went out. All of our technology was down, the AC (90 degree weather in Florida now), lights, the document camera and projector. Amazingly the Wi-Fi was still up and students finished their quizzes or shared their phone with others so they could take it. We could still write. Without our document camera, I transferred the writing assignment to the board. No matter the conditions, I was able to keep an instructional flow. It's not always this easy

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Generated a tagxedo which captured the big ideas in my blog for this past month
Wow!  Made it through the Slice of Life Challenge!  It wasn't always easy.  The SOLC challenged hosted by the phenomenal women at www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com was an incredible reminder of what it is like to be among a community of writers, just digitally.  I haven't lived that since my time in the National Writing Project at the University of Central Florida over ten years ago when I first meet Lee Ann who encouraged me to do this challenge with her. Having had her by my side in some many ways--parenting, writing, teaching and learning has pushed me professionally and personally. Thanks for that gift, especially bringing back the power of writing to me.

Over the past 31 days I have been thinking about how I sustain this habit. Writing daily is exercising, just for your mind instead of your heart, or maybe a little of both.  Writing is a way of processing life, work, reading, writing, thinking, parenting and just managing.  Writing and sharing my writing has unintended effects, such as inspiring other writers in my life, Jenny, Dale, and my daughter to name a few. 

Participating in the SOLC encouraged me to challenge to my students in May.  They need to feel the power of their words.  Participating made me realize that I need to keep writing.  I profess that I would rather read than write. I know that if I truly want to continue to cultivate writers or teachers of writers, I must keep writing.  Participating reminded me of the challenges that writers face daily.  It is not easy.

Ultimately I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who actually read my blog. Thank you for taking time out of your day to peek into mine.  Just liking, commenting, or stopping by, your visits mattered.  I didn't realize that it would. I had forgotten the power of an audience and the impact that readers have on a writer. It made me want to be better.