About Me

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 27: My Days as a Tech Integrator!

I've been tossed into the mix of the tech integration world.  
As a classroom teacher I leveraged all of the technology I could find on a daily basis.        I learned to new tools, understood curriculum, and combined those to support students with technology projects along with collaborating through the process. Once established we then shared those with our colleagues with processes already in place. I enjoy the mess, being part of team, struggling to find just the right way to teach something.  Most of all I enjoy the collaboration with my colleagues. The love for this type of teaching and leveraging of technology landed me out of the classroom.  There are so many days that I feel like a fish out of water, or even worse a tiger without stripes. 
Where are the teachers who want to collaborate, who want to dream big, who want to engage students in work that stretches them.  I know you are out there!  Raise your hand, text me, call me, email me even smoke signals will work.  Pick me, I want to be part of the team, invite me to the table. Don't wait until you've done all the heavy lifting alone, I can help do the lifting!
Today was one of those days where I wasn't invited to the table.  Then asked to support a project just to make sure the computers work.  I get it, but I am not the best person for the job, a technician would be a better choice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 26: This Might Be the First Step

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to WRITE!
I feel a bit like a "Survivor" participant who is asked to talked to the camera regarding my experience as a participant in "Slice of Life". No one has asked me to actually speak about my experience.  While I am on this little hiatus from the classroom, I am trying to find ways to hone my writing skills.  I have watched  (More like stalking) "The Slice of Life" since 2012 reading the posts and wanting to participate.  I didn't join while I was in the classroom, simply because, I didn't want to fail and not post nightly.  I felt that this year, my own children were older and I could take the risk.

So, I have always told my students that writing is difficult, hard work, sometimes you struggle, writing is heartfelt and honest.  Many of the things I wanted to write about were more about ways to work through problems.  Topics, that I really didn't want to share publicly. One of those "Fold over pages" I allow students to do in their writer's notebook when it's not something they want to share. 

I have discovered, that I do like to write and that I am probably a better technical writer, and professional writer than a creative writer.  I would like to become a more creative writer, which I think means, slow down, observe the world that is taking place around me.  Listen. Feel.Smell. Put it into words. I will find a way to tackle this challenge.  I often feel that their are stories, characters, dreamy settings, just waiting to make there way to the page.

I can dream....work towards making it a reality.  This might be the first step.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Home's Where You Are!

Dale Franklin Brooks
November 2007

My Dad left a lasting impression on me in many ways.  
I will never forget wanting to come home from college.  
I promised him anything to come home.  His words to me were, "Home's not where I'm at home's where you are and what you make of it!"  Then he told me to stay one more day and if I still wanted to come home, he would come and get me.  I did stay and never looked back.

I miss the sound of your voice
I wish I could speak with you one more time
I want you to see just how great a baseball player your grandson is
You would love how beautiful your grand daughter sings 
Waiting for the opportunity to sing in church

I miss your Tuesday night call
No one else likes NPR like you
No one cares that I heard an interesting story!
While I don't have mushy memories of you hugging and kissing me
I do have great memories of political debates 
How much you valued my opinion or just listened anyway.
Then offered your thoughts.

I miss your confidence in that I could succeed 
No matter what I wanted to try.  
You encouraged failure 
First one to teach me how to laugh at myself 
Not take myself seriously
I do have memories of walking behind the tractor
Throwing hay bales just like the boys
You even let us drive the truck, the mini-bikes, and the tractor.

The kids miss you too!
Especially Aaron, 
Who desperately wants to learn to ride 
Four Wheelers and drive the red Jeep!
Devin is learning to play the piano, 
I think she got your talent, 
I hope you can hear her in heaven.
I wish we could hear your voice 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day 24: Fire **Updated 3/25/2014

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to WRITE!

Sliding the lock open on my phone to open Facebook to see what had happened in my world.  Scrolling through the entries, I found one by my cousin Mel about being worried about her children's school bus being late.  Scrolling through the comments I discovered, the bus was late because of a fire on the hollow near my parent's home. I become very worried, refreshing often for any sign of what happened. I waited patiently knowing there was nothing I could do to help.

After a while, I began dialing phone numbers, mom's, mom's cell, grandma's phone, Alyson's house, Alyson's cell, my sister Steph's cell, and Steph's house.  No one answered! Trying not to let worry over take me, I could only remember the last time I had gotten cryptic information and found out later my dad had been life lighted to a hospital in Pennsylvania. I sit, I wait, hoping the phone will ring or someone will post a Facebook update!

***The fire did not damage any structures or take any lives.  Just some brush on a big hill.  So grateful for God's mercy!***

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 23: Growing in the Research Process

I've missed Friday and Saturday as illness has infiltrated my home and sometimes, ya just gotta accept ya can't do everything.

  Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to WRITE!

In 2009, our district began a huge overhaul of the curriculum because Connecticut was bringing forth new state standards, now called Common Core. The language arts overhaul caused chaos in the classroom.  It felt like all the good teaching and learning that was being done was being thrown out the door.  In a district like ours, that would be unheard of, because academics are very important in the community.  One of the pieces that felt like it had been dismantled were the research projects at each grade level.  These learning projects were enjoyed by students and teachers.

After the curriculum was drafted to support the state standards and adopted by our district, intense professional development in reading and writing workshop ensued for the next two years.  Then our amazing librarian approached me and we were tasked with writing a new research project that would dovetail with the curriculum. I was lucky enough to pilot this research  and technology opportunity.  The first time through, it felt like we creating as we went along.  It took about a month to complete the project all the way through.  There were amazing components along the way, rubrics, reflection, choice in topic and presentation. 

The following year we rolled out the work to all nine teachers on the grade level so that every fourth grader would have a research experience. It took six weeks for all students to complete a research project the first year and the Librarian and the technology teacher did most of the teaching.  Fast Forward three years and more curriculum tweaks and now the teachers are doing most of the teaching, the librarian and the technology teacher are supporting student learning.  Now the project is done  to completion in about three weeks.

How did that happen you ask? Well, we stopped looking at the research project as a stand alone and as a follow up to all of the non-fiction teaching we do.  The research process is now seen as way to assess the non-fiction unit. It was a long thoughtful process with many tweaks along the way. Now the conversation concerns increasing the difficulty of the content, because now our students are becoming deeper thinkers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 20: Funny Dance Moms

  Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to WRITE!

I sit and wait listening to the unrelenting noise of the tap shoe.  Hoping that Jeanie and Lisa would arrive in time to hear the fun antics of their days.  I am not disappointed! Lisa arrives, as soon as she enters she says, 

"You're not going to be leave this, when I dropped of Caty remember, I didn't have my cell phone and I wasn't going home to get it.  My oldest daughter got hit in the throat with a ball and is in the emergency room with my husband!'  
I'm thinking, how'd ya find that out, ya didn't have your cell phone. 

She takes a deep breath and continues.
"My husband called my sister Jeanie's house and she talked to my upset husband and couldn't get him to calm down, so she hung up on him.  Then she headed out the door, because before I left the studio, I had told her I was going to Joyce Leslie and then Kohls. So Jeanie came to Joyce Leslie, the whole way Jeanie repeated over and over to herself, "Please don't go to Kohls, Please don't go to Kohls.!'  "So, Jeanie caught up to me at Joyce Leslie and explained why she was there. I took her phone and called my husband, explained that I didn't have my cell phone, he couldn't wrap his head around the fact that I was on Jeanie's phone an how Jeanie knew where I was at that time.  Jeanie is waving her hands around saying in a singsong tone "I got sister Lojack! She is doing this over and over again.  I finally tell him that I will head home to check on the dog, get my phone, get Caty and then head to the hospital.  While I am home the dog is throwing her ball around and  it goes under Caty's bed and she goes after it and gets stuck under her bed and can't get out. Now I am on the phone with my husband again because he needs an insurance card.  I got the dog stuck under the bed trying to dig her way out.  I was trying to lift the bed so she could get out, dropped the phone hung up on my husband.  Now he won't answer his phone!" 

She says this all so matter a factly and then begins laughing at how funny it all is. Personal perspective is definitely unique.  These stories always make the hour and half dance session go much faster.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 19: Bella

Cuddle up so sweet and soft

Warm and fuzzy





Melt my heart




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 18: Baseball Season is Coming

  Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to WRITE!

Little League Season is Coming

quiet whispers across the face
stepping on the white rubber
puffs of dirt rise every step
hyper focus
white pentagon
arms drawn back
perfect aim
leg kicks back
as the ball travels
46 feet
across the white
hoping to hear

Today we found out that our coach is a the guy that we played for in the spring. Awesome coach, totally gets that it is more important that the kids learn to play.  Getting overly intense doesn't really work for young kids. This is an excellent perspective to enjoy in the game of Little League Baseball. My husband gets so wrapped up in the game and the win or the lose, he forgets it's the kids on the field not him.  My son always wanting to please his dad, puts on all this bravado when he makes a mistake.  Meanwhile I am on the sidelines, watching, hoping that he will feel like he has lived up to dad's expectations.

While waiting to find out who our coach would be, Aaron had dreams of being on the same team as his buddies from fall ball.  Through many conversations, we discovered that those buddies were all on different teams.  Aaron was devastated. He ran to his room and buried his face in the pillow.  I gave him a few minutes to collect himself.  Then I went and sat next to him to find out why he was so upset.  He expressed that he wasn't sure that he could play baseball against his friends. How would he be able to tag him out in a game.  He sat with a very somber face pondering this new development in his Little League life.  Then it got even worse, one of his really close friends who has been on his little league team is also in his classroom. He pondered how wins and losses would be handled in the classroom.  These are all good life lessons in the moment, but really what he needs right now is a hug, kiss, and a little piece of chocolate.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Day 17: One More Hour, I'm Begging You!

   Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to WRITE!
Just Another Hour
       I need one more hour in my day, just one more to add in the time needed just to take care of me.
Would love to hit the gym, something always seems to get in the way.

      They say make it a priority.  I pack the clothes and prep my head, I can't wait to feel the adrenaline pump and the sweat roll. There is always something in the way, someone needs something.  I think, I'll go as soon as they are in bed, but when nine o'clock comes I just want to sit and melt into a good book, a nice blog, a time of reflection.  I am beginning to think that I need someone to assess my time management!

       Why can't I be like other parents and drop my kids at their extracurriculars activities? Why can't I dismiss their fears and not engage them in conversation when I know something is bothering them and they haven't found a solution.Why can't I leave good enough alone.  Let it ride?

      I ask these other mother's how do you do it?  Look good, work full time, have two kids, and a clean immaculate house.  I often hear, that kids spend time with grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  They also have someone come in once a week to clean their house.  I don't have any of that, I struggle, and never ever get to be part of their group because I am one of the have not's.  Where are the people like me?  The mom's who struggle, the mom's who don't have perfect hair, houses, wardrobes, and kids.  Where are you?  If your here, I probably don't have time to find you, or have a conversation, or even wave my hand hello.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day 16: Stretching and Pulling

                      Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the opportunity to WRITE!

I have a friend who writes a blog about personal experience.  Tonight she wrote about being stretched and pulled in her work life and her personal life.  She reflected, trusting that God wouldn't give her more than she can handle, and that stretching and pulling in life was God's plan.

I too feel this way, a little over two years ago I was asked by our Superintendant of Schools to step out of the classroom and take a K-8 Technology Integrator position.  I was shocked, I had just finished my year as teacher of the year giving me kudos for doing what I loved daily. My reaction wasn't positive, I actually initially said no, but then talked it over with my husband and finally agreed to take on this new role.

This is year two in this role and I still do not feel like I do more tha put out fires and hand out band-aids.  Where are the teachers who really want to dig deep and think about how technology can move them into a place of higher learning?

Raise your hand I am here to help.  Stretching and pulling can make us more flexible. Back to work tomorrow!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 15: Another stab at Poetry

Learning to like this thing called writing.
I get stuck on the grammar of it all.
Where do the periods go?
What about the commas?
Forgetten the colon and semicolon?
Proof read, proof read
It's hard not to miss 
The typo in the mist.

Hear them in my head
See the screeching red
White Chalk
Head hung low
Trying to please
Trying to be valued
Belittled at every turn.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 14: A Little Poetry

So excited to be part of "Slice of Life" with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us too.

I am definately a novice poet.  When we study poetry with students.  They love it, I not sure I do, I am reflecting on why....
Thanks for reading!

into the lane 
shortest line
food on the belt 
one by one 
An older gentleman 
White hair
Blue hat
She Smiled
He Smiled
Sifting Counting
He Pays 
Small to Large
Reflection, Aging, joking
Warm thoughts of not forgetting
All alone

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 13: Pappy

So excited to be part of "Slice of Life" with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us too.

"I'm doing this in honor of Jake mom." He whispered solemnly.
 "I know buddy," She responded.  "Didn't Pappy die of Cancer?"
"He asked tentatively. "Yes," she whispered.

Snuggling a little closer he sighed softly, "I only have one head to have shaved and I really wanted my page to be in honor of both Jake and Pappy. Do you think I could do that?"
"Sure buddy, you can do that, no one will be upset with you." She whispered back.

Shifting deeper into the covers, rubbing his eyes, and yawning almost drifting off to sleep, just one last word.

"Mom. do you think the scientist can find a cure for cancer?"
"We will have to pray that they do with the sincerest of prayers big guy."
"I miss Pappy, it isn't the same without him.:
"Me too." She hugged him a little closer as he drifted off to sleep.

Such deep thoughts before falling asleep, She wondered what was going on in his little head!

Love you Pappy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 12: They Said IT Would Happen!


So excited to be part of "Slice of Life" with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us too.

 I don't have anything in my head to write.  So much happened today, organizing and putting on paper will take a few days.  I'm tired, I'm bone weary tired and I still have to do it all over again on Friday.

That's it
Eyelids are droopy
Eyelids half shut
Eyelids closed
Night, night
Sleepy one!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day 11: Heartfelt Unplanned Ramble


So excited to be part of "Slice of Life" with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us too.

Helping Others

      Sometimes in life you are grateful for everything you have because you watch others truly in need.  This wasn't the post I was going to write tonight.  I was going to write a school reflection.  I tucked that away in my writer's notebook for another night.

     When I got home there was a sticky note on the table that there was a message on the answering machine for me.  Listening to the message, I realized it was a mother of a boy in my son's class.  I called her back and left a message and went on with my evening. At dinner we joked with my son I joked with him about why she was calling.  See this mom is at school everyday for her own son.  So she sees my son everyday and I thought maybe she was going to let me know he had been in trouble at school.

     Little did I know that she was calling me because someone else had approached our PTA about raising some money for their family to help with some medical bills.  I'm not going to go into all the details here because I don't want to invade their privacy for my post. This young man faces such challenges and he does so with a smile everyday.  He has touched my family in such a way, my husband has been brought to tears on more than one occasion, listening to a speech this young man gave and watching his mother attend to her sons needs like it was second nature always jovially.  She is uncomfortable with being part, because she doesn't want to people to think that she is looking for a handout.  Her family has been hit hard by a lack of insurance for the eight surgeries that her son needs this year.  EIGHT SURGERIES!!  8!! Ocho!! Many of which the insurance will not cover.

      So, not only is this mom worried about her son, she is also worried about her house and keeping roof over the families head and feeding everyone.  I think we can dig a little deeper in our pockets and help.  I have vowed to help.  If that means flipping pancakes, washing cars, selling candy bars, just about anything I could do to help.  I will, why because my heart hurts for the hardship this family faces and for the love and generosity they show others.

     If you met them at the mall,  you would notice her son who faces challenges.  He would engage you in conversation.  She makes you feel like you've met a good friend. Some find her over the top, I give her permission to be over the top.  This family needs help and I want to b involved.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Day 10: A Grocery Store Encounter

So excited to be part of "Slice of Life" with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us too.

     Stepping into the lane with the shortest line, she placed her groceries on the belt one by one organizing them loosely by categories,  frozen, refrigerator, pantry, and bathroom.  Before she started unpacking her groceries from the cart, she noticed the older gentleman in front of her.  She smiled a friendly smiled and went on with her task.

      She hears the older gentleman ask the cashier to repeat how much it was.  He sifted through the money in his hand hoping he had calculated correctly.  Switching from a small stack of a $5 and four $1 to a $20 and the exact change from his pocket.  She smiled at him again, he apologized for taking so long.  She smiled a bigger smile, thinking I will be like that someday.  She responded with "Don't worry about it, this is just the right pace for ending the day, enjoyable!

     The cashier agreed with her and the gentleman still uncomfortable with his pace, told a couple of jokes while he waited for his change.

     "Why did the mean teacher have problems with her pupils?  She was cross-eyes!"

   "How did Columbus get to America before the Indians?  He must have made reservations!"

    He gathered his bags, said goodbye and shuffled out the door.

    She realized that he reminded her so much of her own grandfather. The resistance to aging and the loss of independence.  Her heart yearned to tell him, not everyone thought he was irrelevant.  There was at least one young person who would like to hear his stories, who wanted to hear what he had gained from his life experience.

    After paying for her groceries, she walked slowly to her car reaching for her cell phone, dialing the ever familiar number.  "Hi Pap!  How are you?"

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Day 9: 10 Things

So excited to be part of "Slice of Life" with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us too

I will show up! I will create a post! 

Maybe the 10 things list thingy?  

I will ...
1. Go to the gym this week since the weather is cooperating
2. Eat my healthy salad everyday and not soup from the cafeteria
3. Make copies of a DVD for my principal
4. Get to walk my doggies (All three) everyday now that the weather is warmer
5. Play outside with my kids and hope for one day without homework to we can stay out longer.
6. Begin the Easter shopping so I'm not waiting until the last minute
7. Read a good book
8. Call to find a wholesale greenhouse to supply plants before Wednesday
9. Call to get official and unofficial transcripts for my EdTech Degree
10 Finish the application for my graduate degree in EdTech

Bonus:  I will ask three administrators for Letters of Recommendation for this new graduate program.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 8: DEVOS and When Did She Grow Up?

So excited to be part of Slice of Life with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us.

Many Thanks to @dogtrax for the the suggestion. I took the only the bold words from Day 7 and made a poem (maybe?).

Admin Portal
Manage Video Signage
Image Playlist
Add a New Playlist
Add New

Sitting quietly at the table wearing cheetah capri pj pants and a die-tie shirt she thumb through her iPod playlist looking for something to break the silence.  She scanned the list pressed play for the perfect start to her day. The song "Downton" by Lady Antebellum begins to play.  She plugs in her sassy hot pink Skull Candy headphones and sways to the music.  Holding the iPod in her left hand the earphone cord passes in front of her body. She reaches for the  refrigerator door and leans forward to survey the breakfast choices. Pulling out a Gala apple she closed the fridge and opened the freezer to pull-out two Eggo Waffles.  Stepping to the toaster she placed both waffles in the toaster oven setting it to make the waffles toasty warm.  Heading to the pantry she pulled out the Nutella for the waffles.  She walked to the utensil drawer and took out a sharp knife and began slicing the bright red apple into wedges. "Ding" The waffles are ready, she slathered them with a tiny bit of Nutella and swept into her seat just as "Downtown" rolled into "Long Teenage Goodbye".  She smiles reaches for the O.J. Sweeps her hand over the puppy's forehead and lets out a sigh as she eats breakfast listening to her tunes.

When did she become so self-sufficient.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Day 7: Can I Change My Spots? I mean Writing Ways

So excited to be part of Slice of Life with the Two Writing Teachers. You to can join us.

Change my Writing Ways

So, I've enjoyed reading and commenting all week on the blog of others. Can I just say that I am truly envious of those of you who write so beautifully with flowery words that create such imagery for me. I want to do that desperately.  
I enjoy reading books with beautiful language and blogposts that pull me and keep me up thinking about writing. I tip my hat to you and know that there is at least one newbie who would love to join your ranks. 
I think part of my problem is the type of writing I create when I actually do write. Very technical. Can you say DRY!  
I hope there is hope for me to improve my skills. I am not sure where to start to begin to turn bland writing into something entertaining. I am going to challenge myself to writing something besides school reflections. There it is I said it, I will try and thanks for all the encouragement the comments are getting me through the week!

This is one of six documents I typed for upcoming training sessions with teachers and support staff.

Current as of 3/7/2014

Please open a browser Internet Explorer or Chrome to:  devos.westonps.org
Select: Logout to sign in with your Weston Public School computer username and password
Select: Admin Portal (Top right of the screen.)
Select: Manage Video Signage (Second gray box on the right side of the screen)
Select: Image Playlist
Select: Add a New Playlist
Title your Image List.  It is helpful to be specific.  Later in the process you will need to know
which list to select.
Select: Choose File.  This allow you to search for pictures/images on your computer, 
documents folder, or server.  You can select the first picture you would like to select and if all
the pictures are in the same file scroll down hold shift and click on the last picture you would   like to use. These will be uploaded into your DEVOS account.
Global Duration:  time here will apply to all image or you can set the duration for all images individually.
Blue Bar: You will see Image, Duration, Up, Down, and Remove.  This is how you can reorder your playlist.
Save Playlist
Select Signage:  
Select Add New Signage
Select a Name: Be Specific it will be easier to find later
Select a Template: Image Playlist with no logo, first one in the bottom row
Template Settings:  This is where you will click on the image list you would like to use.
Save Signage Save Signage

This will take you back to your the signage you have created.  You can add and remove images at any time on this playlist.

From the playlist you will need the Station Code to display this signage in the district.