Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Board Game

Write with us each Tuesday at Slice of Life
My daughter taught me a new game yesterday.  We are a card\board gaming family.  My daughter taught me mancala.  She plays during extended day with her friends.  She upcycled the marbles from the Chinese checkers set that she received for Christmas to make the pieces and she put the eggs  in a bowl to make a board using the egg carton. She taught me once and bested me 4 times. Later her dad came home and she taught him too. She currently reigns  as the Mancala champion of the roost.

With a week left in my break, I hope to continue to learn how to play better and spend more time making memories with her
and the rest of my family.  I wish the same for you and yours!
Thank you for making the time to read my words
this year and have a wonderful holiday and new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Winter To-do

Two weeks at home seem so idyllic. Here is a short list of what I am looking forward to doing.

10. Read books with me girl.
9. Art days with friends.
8. Clean my closet.
7.Revise my syllabus.
6. Start writing my article.
5. Collaborate on a proposal for NCTE/ALAN.
4. Hang out with fiends.
3. Work on my taxes.
2. Spring hop.
1. Do more reading.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quickwrite: Gratitude List

This time of year is always crazy and I loved the Two Writing Teachers post suggestion on Sunday that we teach students to express gratitude in writing. It is an antidote to the stress as shared in the post.  Currently we are moving at work out of a building and into a new/old office and furniture keeps popping and piling up.  It is a great time of year to see old friends and family as I was able to do this past weekend, but it can be hectic.  Part of seeking six is keeping that balance during times just like these and my one little word is to focus on well.  If we don't note our gratitude, we lose sight about what really matters.  Here is my quick top 20 in no particular order.

20. Living in a country where I have access to clean water, flushing toilets, and electricity daily.
19. Freedom of speech
18. Choosing how I spend my time
17. The ability to give and share and receive gracefully
16. The ability to recommend and give books---Booksgiving
15.  Spending time with people
14.  Slowing down to spark back up...
13.  Long-time friends
12.  Serving on the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Committee
11. The ability to move physically
12. My job and my contribution to the world are one and the same
11. Living in sunny Florida
10. My virtual writing community
9.   My ulty friends
8.   My health insurance
7.   My CG family
6.   My Knight job and the students there
5.   My day job and my colleagues there
4.   My good friends
3.   My extended family
2.   My healthy husband & daughter
1.   My charmed life

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lessons Learned

My college students have just finished their last blogs for the semester. You can find their reflection posts here. This semester is the second one that I have required all of my undergraduate and graduate students to create and write a blog for our Teaching Writing in Middle and High School class. I first participated in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge in March 2012. I then created a two week mini-challenge in May for my freshmen with my cohort, Lee Ann Spillane.  In the spring of 2013 I challenged my grad students with a range of digital writing choices.  Five of them elected to do the Slice of Life Story Challenge in March with me.  In the fall of 2013, I made digital writing via a blog a mandatory component of the graduate section of the class.  In the spring of 2014, I made it a mandatory component for both undergrads and grads and then have continued that requirement this fall.

Lessons Learned 
  • Even adult writers can struggle coming up with ideas for Open Posts.
  • Some sites such as Tumblr and Wikis are not as easy for others to post feedback. 
  • Be mindful of how/when/what you require for posts.
  • A discussion of audience & purpose are still invaluable.
  • The lessons learned about yourself as a writer and about digital writing matter most for your future students, not the quantity of the posts or comments.  
  • You will learn so much more about your students than what they can reveal to you in class.
  • A mini-lesson on commenting can be helpful.
  • A dedicated feedback partner for each student other than the teacher ensures some writing accountability and everyone gets at least two comments.
  • Students are scared to go public even the ones who seem confidant in class.
  • It takes time to comment on every single student.  Be sure to set aside that time each week.
This year is the fall is the first that I have been dedicated to writing weekly. I want to thank Stacey and her team for creating and continuing to host the weekly slice and the March challenge. It is truly your contribution to the world!  I want to thank Lee Ann Spillane who challenged me to do this with her in 2012.  I also want to thank all of my students and colleagues who have taken the writing plunge. I love every minute of this digital writing learning journey!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DC Photo-Op

One of the mistakes that I have made in my traveling life as an Ultimate Frisbee player, a conference goer, and a teacher consultant was to neglect the city of my destination.  In my forties when I began to pay my way to conferences and come to the realization that I have been to cities such as Savannah, Georgia over 20 times and never seen more than the building surrounding Forsyth Park, I began to deliberately plan my trips with at least one off day.  In Vegas, I enjoyed the NCTE & ALAN conference, but spent my Sunday in Red Rock Canyon and at the Hoover Dam.  In Boston, we toured the historical sites on Sunday including the Boston Public Library, gorgeous.  When I found out my conference was going to be in DC this year, I planned 4 extra days, two with my friend and two with my family. I thought I would share some of my top five sites from this visit since my eye is twitching from reading too many essays today.

5. Crossing the Potomac!  The power of GPS!

 4.  Eleanor...one of the few women represented on the Mall!

 3. The thought and creativity in the design of the 9-11 Memorial at the Pentagon. Visually stunning both day and night!

2. The important ideals of our leaders as invaluable reminders throughout the city.

1.  Seeing the Library of Congress and a real snowfall with my kid.

Now I have a year to figure out what to do in Minneapolis!