One Little Word Wednesday: Thread

First day of school was a foggy one.
Tuesday evening at 9:21 pm

I looked up my son's bus number on the school website for the second or third time. He'd have to be at the stop by about 6:50 AM.

Bus 81

First pickup at Lincoln Rd. & Robinwood Dr. at 6:44 a.m. Left on Robinwood Dr., left on S. Dixie Hwy., right on Kay Dr. picking up at Aimy Dr. Right on Poplar Dr. picking up at Teakwood Dr. Lef ton Teakwood Dr., left on Raven Parkway, right on Timber Lane, right on E. Dartmoor, left on Charing Cross to pickup. Left on Wimbledon Park Dr. picking up at Woodpine Dr. Left on Woodpine Dr. picking up at W. Dartmoor Dr. Right on Timber Lane, right on W. Brookshire Dr. picking up at Shadowood Dr. Left on S. Dixie Hwy., right on Northfield Dr. picking up to Wildwood Dr. Left on Wildwood Dr. picking up in middle of block. Left on Kay Dr. picking up at Nobil Dr. Right on Nobil Dr., right on W. Albain Rd. picking up to S. Telegraph Rd.

In my mind, I could visualize bus 81 threading through the neighborhood streets, stopping to pick up half-asleep teenagers. My son would have to get up at 6:00 and I would sip coffee as I watched the bus doors clap behind him as he headed to the back of the bus to snooze. I always feel better watching him actually get on the bus, even though he is 15.


What I Didn't Do

School starts today. The "didn't do" list below is a recap of my summer.

No trips to NYC but I got to see my daughter as Janet Van De Graaff. :)
I didn't travel to NYC to see a Broadway show or take a family vacation.

I didn't ride any roller coasters although I felt like I was on one for most of the summer.

I didn't revise my NaNoWriMo novel.

I didn't read the classics I loaded onto my iPad. I opted for trashy beach stuff.

I didn't dye my hair blond or get any tattoos or piercings.

I didn't lose 10 pounds or get back on my gluten-free diet that when I'm on makes me feel wonderful.

I didn't throw up or pass out when I watched my daughter perform in her first professional musical production. I did hide in the back row of the theater just in case.

I didn't throw up or pass out when I had to learn how to change my son's wound dressing. One of my biggest accomplishments of the summer.

I didn't get divorced or have a major illness.

I didn't quite let go of all my anger about losing what I had worked so hard for professionally, but I'm getting there.

I didn't just ponder growing my own tomatoes. They tasted divine.

I didn't stop breathing or scream when I took my teenage son out to practice driving. I stuck to gasping and pushing my pretend brake.

I didn't teach summer school.

I didn't get a speeding ticket, get in any accidents, or lose my keys.

I didn't hold on to all my children's books I used in my last position. They now reside in classrooms in Michigan and Florida.

I didn't have a garage sale.

I didn't sleep well.

I didn't get a pedicure.

I didn't feel torn when my daughter went back to college.

I didn't think the summer would fly this fast.


How Bad Would It Be to Just Throw It All Away?

A box of my super important office stuff.
This morning's tech inservice ended early so I had time to race home to meet the nurse so we could check and repack my son's wound. That left enough time to eat a lunch of Twizzlers and Diet Coke on the way to school. I was anxious to dig into my new office space and clean, throw-out, and re-arrange. Outside, it was pouring. Really pouring. I wrapped several piles of books in plastic bags and loaded them into my trunk along with some crates. I parked close to one of the side doors of the school and put my bagged-up books in my teacher cart and wheeled in the first of many loads. By the time I made it in the building, I was soaked. I squeaked down the long hallway, pulling my teacher cart behind me. When I reached my office, I flipped on the switch and stood in the doorway, dripping. Before I could even bring any of my own stuff in the room, I would have to go through the bookshelves and purge dozens of ancient speech exercise books. I left my own junk in the hallway and started unloading the bookshelves. At first, I considered each resource manual. I paged through them thinking about whether or not it contained anything I might use during the coming school year. When I started to find my own name written on the inside covers of some of the resource books I began pitching most of them into a large plastic storage bin. Half of these speech drill books were mine when I was a speech therapist for the district twenty years ago. Good grief.


Last week, I started experimenting with a web tool called I first heard about it when reading a post written by Stacey Shubitz, co-author of Two Writing Teachers. collects a selection of tweets posted by you and your followers and organizes them into an appealing newspaper format. As the editor of my newspaper, which I named the School SLP & Literacy Daily, I can publish it as is or delete or add articles. I can also add web content I find using the bookmarklet. I don't have total control of where those articles appear in my newspaper but I can move articles as a lead story and any web content I add myself appears on the front page. I can tweet my newspaper or embed a sidebar gadget into my blog that shows my latest edition.

Screenshot of one of my recent editions.

There is also an option to automatically tweet your newspaper, which I would probably never do. Everytime my daily edition becomes available for me to view, there are always irrelevant tweets, photos, or videos that I want removed. I can view all the tweets included in the edition and delete anything I don't like. In the free application, there is always advertising that I cannot control. If I wanted to spend $9.99 per month, I could control most aspects of the paper including advertising. Chances of that happening are slim. And the iPhone app is pretty useless. It is easier to access your account through Safari if you are using your iPad.

One of the most interesting features which I haven't used yet is the option to add an editor's note. Not sure why I have been avoiding it. Maybe it is because I've never written an editorial and I'm not sure what I'm doing. I think as I further solidify in my mind the purpose of my newspaper and the audience I want to connect with, an editor's note will seem easier. Creating the newspaper and learning to use has been an interesting process and well worth the effort. The more I use it, the more I see how teachers might use it with students. The writerly decisions involved in curating and publishing using are authentic and would promote purposeful discussion about audience and purpose.

One Little Word Wednesday: Thread

"Could you take these in?"

Her blue eyes looked at me sweetly. She held two silky tank tops toward me.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, I got them on clearance but they are a little big and when I raise my arms you can sort of see my bra. I'll put them on if you want to see what I mean?" She slipped the peach one over her head.

"I learned how to use the sewing machine in the costume shop when I worked at the play house this summer. I could probably do it myself. I just need to sew the sides, right?" We both knew she had no intention of altering the blouses herself.

I considered the baggy armholes, pulled open my sewing desk drawer, grabbed my pin cusion, and began pinching and pinning the extra fabric on both side seams. After the peach top was marked, she lifted it carefully over her head to avoid getting poked. We repeated the process with the magenta top. I checked my drawer for coordinating thread but came up short.

"You're going to have to get me some matching thread if you want me to fix these." I looked at her hoping she would decide that shopping for thread was too much trouble. But instead she put her blouses in a plastic Kroger sack and set off for Hobby Lobby. I really didn't feel like I had time to alter two blouses that would end up in a wad on my daughter's apartment floor. But I did. She had to leave Thursday to go back to college.

Poetry App: PoetryMagnets

I recently tried out a free app called PoetryMagnets. It simulates using little magnet words to create a poem. Words for your poem can be selected from a stream of magnets that can be scrolled through at the bottom of the screen. Words come in several categories. Once a magnet is chosen, it can be moved around or discarded back into the stream.

I enjoyed the spontaneity of choosing from the river of words and playing around with spacing. My favorite part was that I could save my poem as an image right to my camera roll. Then I decided to play with the image further with a free photo editing app called PhotoPen.

I think older students would have a lot of fun using PoetryMagnets. It would be a great way to get students talking and reflecting about their writing process. Sometimes I struggled to move the magnets exactly where I wanted them and at one point I couldn't get one magnet to move at all. Also, there is only one background but for a free app, I still think it worth playing with.


Twitter: Let's Do Lunch!

As I mentioned last week, it took me six months to compose my first tweet after opening my Twitter account. Good grief. I never considered Twitter as a way to connect and collaborate until Stacey's TWT post about trying out Pinterest and Twitter last November. Getting started with Pinterest felt easier although it took some trial and error. It has proved to be an excellent way to begin to connect with other speech therapists. With my transition back to speech this fall, I hoped that Twitter might also be a useful way to expand my hunt for other speech therapists like me. One problem is that I'm still so drawn to all the literacy tweets that I forget that I'm supposed to be looking for speech stuff. But I will keep at it. Like Pinterest and blogging, Twitter will take time and starting slow works fine with me. And right now, I am so excited when I see that someone I know from the TWT community posts a tweet. It feels like looking across a noisy crowded cafeteria on the first day of school and seeing a familiar face and being so relieved that I will have someone to eat lunch with. So if you are thinking about diving into Twitter but you are afraid of eating alone, don't worry. I'll look for you, if you'll look for me. Maybe we can eat lunch together. Seriously, if you are interested in Twitter, read Stacey's previously mentioned post and her recent post on microblogging. Also, check out the excellent LiveBinder below curated by Steven Anderson. It's filled with resources to help get you started with Twitter.

An Educators Guide To Twitter

Thankful Thursday

How did it get to be Thursday already? My gratitude list may seem a little strange but it reflects my current state. My son's ongoing recovery from pilonidal cyst surgery has dominated my thoughts and actions for several weeks. And by the way, he is healing like a champ and his attitude is stellar. I couldn't be prouder of my teenager.



Starting to Tweet

I created a Twitter account at least six months ago. I figured out how to re-tweet but felt paralyzed composing my own tweet. One of my goals this summer was to get comfortable with Twitter so today, I tried again. I tweeted about how much I like the Blogsy app, then about what I was reading, and then I replied to a tweet posted by ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association) about the misconceptions that colleagues have about the roles of speech therapists. I still don't really get the whole hash tag thing but I am determined. I've promised myself I will keep at it. Check out this tweet and blog post from Franki Sibberson.

A Little Story

Yesterday I had fun creating a story with the Little Story Maker app. Young writers can make books several pages long with an image and sentence on each page. An audio recording can also be added to each page so as the text is read it is highlighted. I can't wait to try this with kindergarteners and first graders. My guess is they would absolutely love the audio feature and would find it very motivating. Students could make books of sight words, how-to books, or books about themselves. They could draw their own illustrations then take a picture of their work and upload the image into their story. I feel this app has so much potential. Silvia Tolisano wrote a very informative post on her blog about the specific features of Little Story Maker as well as some of the drawbacks such as not being able to upload the finished book as an epub file.

Update: When I returned to the app today to review my book, all the audio recordings were erased with the exception of the last page. After reading the reviews on the iTunes page, it appears that this is a common problem along with other bugs. This makes me very sad. This app has so much potential. I hope the developers fix it.

This is a screenshot of the book I made.

Weird Thing to Write a Poem About

This poem was written using a fun and free app called Visual Poet. The only drawback is that the final image that is created can't be sent directly to your camera roll. I had to email the image to myself first then save it to my camera roll. It would be interesting to further edit the image with a photo app. I think students could do some powerful writing with Visual Poet. The text blocks can be easily repositioned and edited making it particularly useful in teaching young writers about using line breaks and the spacing of the text. The three picture blocks could also be used to teach about stanzas. Another way to use this app relates to how the writer chooses the image for each of the blocks. Different areas of the image can be zoomed in on making it perfect for writing descriptive sentences. So many possibilites.
Pain in the Butt

More Healing, More Writing

I think my son is about to turn the corner in his healing process. The original golf ball size pilonidal cyst cavity (warning: pictures from Wikipedia link are not for the squeamish) has almost closed. It started at approximately 2.9 cm deep and has reduced in size to .7 cm deep. He also has a 9 cm incision running the length of his butt crack that once contained additional channels caused by the cyst. This area is also healing nicely. Right now I want this entire nightmare to be over. Daily packing of his wound and monitoring his medication, pain, and signs of infection have been all consuming. I seldom leave the house unless I'm getting groceries or medical supplies. I relinquished control of my lap top so my son would have something to do while on the couch or in bed.

Even though I haven't written any posts in several days, I have been writing, mostly journal entries and lists. I knew I would eventually write about this pilonidal cyst thing but I wasn't sure what that would look like. And since I primarily use my lap top to compose and post, not having easy access to it was a convenient excuse. I have used my iPad and the Blogsy app to post before but I was so slow at using the iPad's internal keyboard that it took forever and I became frustrated. I decided to spring for an Apple wireless keyboard with my birthday Amazon gift cards. The keyboard is super lightweight and portable. Directions for using it with an iPad are not included in the tiny instruction book but one two-minute YouTube video is all it took to get things up and running. It wasn't cheap, almost $70.00, but I absolutely love it and I'm now enjoying posting with my iPad.

My Apple wireless keyboard was so easy to set up and works like a charm.



Lessons in Wound Care

I'm learning more about wound care than I ever anticipated.
Sweet rain. I sat in my car in my driveway and listened. As I reclined my seat, I closed my eyes. Thunder. The taps of rain grew stronger and louder against the roof and windows. There was no need to worry about the groceries in the trunk. No ice cream to melt or milk to spoil. As the rain began to let up, I knew I would have to shlep the bags into the house, put everything away, then check on my son. He usually slept about an hour after each dressing change. I think it was a combination of the oxycodone and the stress of dealing with having several inches of sterile Kerlix poked and pushed into the gaping cavities created by that wretched pilonidal cyst. Wound packing occured twice daily. Learning the tools and procedures of this process nearly caused me to pass out when I first saw my son's wound after his surgery. Watching the surgeon pull the packing out as my son shook and cried out in pain was almost too much to bare.

The rain slowed to a sprinkle and I left my car cocoon and unloaded the groceries. I grabbed the bag containing cotton tip applicators, which are like Q-tips only longer and packaged to be sterile, and took them up to my his room. I was right. He was still sleeping. I put the applicators next to the other supplies on a table near his bed and watched him sleeping for a bit. He was only fifteen but he looked much older with his muscled 6' 2" frame and scruffy facial hair. He is still my brave little boy.


Keep on Writing

Big sigh. Participating in the TWT Slice of Life Challenge and NaNoWriMo showed me how to stick with it. These experiences taught me that sometimes writing feels hard. I realize this is a normal feeling but I'm still annoyed with myself. I have been writing so much in my head for days and days but unable to commit anything to paper. So today, I'm allowing myself to rip the Band-Aid off, lower my standards, and just get something down. I have been feeling a little paralyzed in general lately. To avoid actually writing anything, I managed to organize all of my professional books into one bookcase. One shelf for coaching and PD, one for reading, one for writing, and one for word study. And I created a new blog, One Speech Therapist, and I've spent far too much time Pinterest cruising. I have several writing projects staring at me. For example, I wanted to create some kind of eBook or photo book for my lit coach buddies using stories we wrote on napkins when we were together presenting in Corpus Christi several years ago. I got started then I got stuck and the half finished project is sitting on my office chair nestled between two other unfinished projects. I'm thinking I need to impose a deadline on myself. Or maybe I need to get myself going by finishing something smaller, like this post.

eReader Convert

Screen shot of books I'm currently reading using the
Kindle app on my iPad.
Reading books on my iPad has changed me as a reader. I have always been a big nonfiction reader, mostly professional books and procedural texts. But since getting the Kindle app, I've read more fiction  in the last two months than I have in years. I can finally see the text big and crisp and back lit. I don't have to turn my head from side to side to find the sweet spot in my bifocals. I can feel my eyes relax and I know I'm reading faster. Maybe I just think I am reading faster. Funny, even as an adult the idea of reading faster makes me feel more proficient.

As a kid, I struggled with reading, at least that is what my one of my teachers thought. I didn't like reading because I wasn't good at it. I remember my second grade teacher would let out this audible impatient sigh every time I couldn't remember the difference between "there" and "where" and "were." I hated the Sally, Dick, and Jane books. Those books weren't anything like the books at home. I much preferred Madeline and Curious George but I couldn't read those either. I loved books but I hated reading. From this former struggling readers point of view, reading is more appealing with my iPad.

In my mind's eye, I see eReaders the same way I see classroom amplification systems. Classroom amplification systems increase student attention and the redundancy of the auditory signal. This means that it is easier for students to pick up on sounds and words and the subtleties of oral communication that carry so much meaning. For example, I love reading aloud using a REDCAT because I can change the intensity and cadence of my voice in ways that hold the attention of a large group of children. And classroom amplification systems are especially effective for children who have had multiple ear infections or attention and learning difficulties. A device such as the REDCAT amplifies the teachers voice so that background noise is less distracting. For me, the iPad works in a similar way. It enhances the visual signal and helps me focus on the print. Reading feels easier. I'm not overwhelmed by the amount of text on the page and I feel like I'm reading faster even though I'm probably not. I am also less fatigued when I read.

I would love to get more eReaders or iPads into the hands of kids, especially struggling or disengaged readers. I would be fascinated to hear what children have to say about their own reading experiences when using an eReader. Hopefully, major studies will quickly appear to show what impact these devices are having on young readers. I wonder if reading using an eReader changes reading process. I created the Lino It canvas below to save links to articles I have been collecting on the this topic. Select the the icon of the canvas below for a larger view.

One Little Word Wednesday: Thread

The first happy vegetables from my
garden. :)
I'm growing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers for the first time. My garden is more like a patch, very small with five tomato plants, five pepper plants (one died), and three cucumber plants. I harvested my first cuke and three banana peppers yesterday. I really don't know squat about growing things. As a kid, my dad's garden took up most of the backyard. I liked being in the backyard among the beans, tomatoes, and strawberries. Somehow my little patch stitches me to my childhood summers. Summers meant sewing projects, riding my bike to the pool, and sitting in my crab apple tree pretending to be Julie Andrews or Karen Carpenter and surveying the progress of my dad's vegetables. Summers meant getting bored too, which wasn't a bad thing at all. When I was a child, having nothing to do wasn't something that was advertised too loudly. Complaining about being bored resulted in cleaning and weeding. As an adult, I am seldom if ever bored, which must be why my house tends to be a mess and there are weeds in my garden. When I go out this morning and survey my patch, I won't be sitting in a tree or singing. I'll be drinking tea and humming threads of Wouldn't It be Loverly.

Six-Foot Wingspan

"It's a rooster. It's one of the neighbor's roosters. See the red."

"No way, that thing is huge. I'm getting the camera."

"Maybe it's a turkey."

"Here, look through the lens."

"Geez, that thing is butt-ugly.That bird has one wicked helmet."

Yes, turkey vultures are butt-ugly, at least their heads are. What the heck was a turkey vulture doing in our neighborhood? He didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave. As he swooshed down from our neighbor's fence I could see the wingspan. Amazing. I wanted to get closer look with the camera but I was a little afraid. I didn't know if these birds were dangerous or not. My 6'2" football player son, who first spied the raptor wouldn't leave the deck. Baby. I stepped out into the grass, a good 30 yards from the thing, and tried to focus the camera. Maybe just another step. I snapped a few pictures. His feathers were beautiful but that head . . . and that icky eye.

"Mommmmm, he's lookin' at you. If that thing gets any closer, I'm outta here."

Wish I could have held the camera steadier.

Sticking with Blogger (for now)

With my recent move back to speech therapy I figured why not start a new blog to document this transition. I created One Speech Therapist as a companion blog to One Literacy Coach. Since I view blogs as ongoing pieces of writing, I needed to consider audience and purpose for the new blog. My purpose for blogging really hasn't changed in the last year and a half. I blog because I enjoy connecting with other educators, bloggers, and writers and sharing ideas. I'm not interested in selling anything or blogging for profit. The challenging part for me for this new blog is audience. Who do I want to connect with? Speech therapists have lots of different specialties and work in many different settings. And I'm not even sure who I am as a speech therapist anymore, although I'm working on it. I've been reading, reading, reading, articles and published handouts and PowerPoint's from recent conferences. I'm also reading professional books written by speech therapists with a deep understanding of literacy and the reciprocal nature of oral language, written language, and reading. So what does all this have to do with sticking with Blogger?

I considered using WordPress for my new blog. I read and reread blog post after blog post touting the benefits and disadvantages of a variety of web hosts, and I decided to stick with Blogger. I know I don't own my content but I'm okay with that. And WordPress isn't going to help me with my concerns about audience. Figuring out audience will take time and effort regardless of the blogging platform I choose to use. WordPress has wonderful features but  I'm not willing to invest the time yet to learn how to navigate it. Blogger is so easy to use and I haven't encountered significant reasons to switch. My biggest whine about Blogger used to be the lack of threaded comments and they added that feature a few months ago. I also enjoy using Blogsy to write and publish posts and it works like a charm in Blogger. Actually, I think Blogsy works great with WordPress and other web hosts as well. Blogsy is an awesome app by the way. So for now, I'm sticking with Blogger.

Going Back to Speech

So you are going back to speech therapy. Wow. That is sort of unexpected. You have been gone for twelve years, which is about nine years longer than you ever anticipated. So why did you leave your comfy speech therapy world to dive into the unchartered territory of literacy coaching to begin with? Oh yeah, you wanted to see if you could glean enough about the connections between oral language, reading, and writing so that you could assist children with language learning difficulties to better access core curriculum. Yup. That’s why. So did you figure all that out yet? Nope. Yeah, but you know a lot more now than you did twelve years ago, right? Yup. That’s good, right? Yup. You knew you would probably have to go back eventually and it isn’t that you left speech because you didn’t like it. You were just looking . . . looking for something more. Looking for answers. Hoping to study things that your grad school profs would have certainly viewed as out of the realm of a speech therapist. So how are you going to handle this transition back? After everything you’ve learned, there is no way you will do things the way you used too. Nope. No way. Maybe some things. You seem a little . . . worried, no, no, more than worried, maybe . . . scared. Yeah, I know you are still sad about the whole lit coach thing but you have to move on. So you are sad and scared and ticked and a whole bunch of other emotions but you’re gonna have to get over it. Good grief, at least you have a good job for crying out loud! That is a heck of a lot more than a lot of people can say in this town. Get off your pity-pot. Here is a to-do list to help get you going.

  1. Find your ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association) membership card and log into their website.
  2. Review and collect relevant articles on CCSS and speech therapy services from LSHSS (Language Speech and Hearing Services in the Schools) journals.
  3. Search for interesting speech therapist bloggers.
  4. Check Pinterest for speech therapy resources and apps.
  5. Obtain a copy of Michigan Guidelines for Speech Therapy Services.
  6. Read the last book in the 50 Shades trilogy. 

Moving On

 Change feels more inevitable than good right now. Learning communities don't last forever. They are static. I know that. I understand that. I accept it. But I don't have to like it. The literacy coaching initiative in our district has officially come to an end. We had a good run. Twelve years. Twelve years of study, discovery, experimenting, documenting success, and collaboration. To my fellow cliff divers, Fran, Laura, Colleen, and Billi, you have changed the course of my life. Words just aren't enough.

Body Just Quit

I haven’t been playing much on Pinterest since before the SOL Challenge. In fact, I haven't posted on my blog much more than once per week since the challenge. I’ve been more focused on getting a job. I am glad to say that last Friday, I found out that I have a position, a new position within my district. I was doing some testing with a student when I heard a tap, tap, tapping at my door. One of my principals and another administrator, both of whom I have deep respect for, entered the room with news on their faces. I was told I had a coaching position but that I would be moving to another building. One of the administrators continued to talk but I really didn’t hear. I was stunned. Overwhelmed. Another move. Put on your game face. Don’t cry. I felt clammy. After they left, I sat in my chair and stared at the floor, the table, the wall, then back to the door. No tears yet. Then I moved to my desk and continued to tinker with a smart board lesson I had started working on earlier in the morning. I knew that the pair of administrators was in the process of telling one of my teaching partners across the hall that she also got one of the new coaching positions and she would also be moving.

By the end of the day, the clammy feeling had turned to chills. My sinuses were draining and the familiar sore throat was starting. I could tell my ears were filling with fluid. By Saturday, I figured I would have a full blown sinus infection. And I did. When the nurse at the Urgent Care took my temp it was 101 degrees. No wonder I felt shivery on Friday. The diagnosis was a double ear infection and sinus infection. I left with a Z-pac and headed to Walgreens for more Motrin and decongestant. I just wanted to sleep. My lids begged to close to shield my eyes from the sunshine. And that was that. My body refused to be pushed any further. I had to go to bed. The laundry and kitchen floor would have to wait. My teenage son would have to feed himself and my husband would have to go to Kroger’s and empty the litter boxes.

So what does all of this have to do with Pinterest? The thing about sinus infections is that they make me so tired but I can’t sleep because breathing is a challenge. Pinterest is fairly mindless. I can repin things that strike me and “like” the items that pique my interest but I want to look at more closely prior to pinning. Right now, mindless pinning is a useful distraction.

Blog Neglect

My blog is in major need of some spring cleaning. I tend to let it get so cluttered up, like my desk. But it is time. Time to revisit my purpose for this blog. What do I hope to accomplish, if anything? Many things to think about. I started thinking about overhauling my blog back in April when Stacey and Ruth unveiled the new fancy shmancy TWT layout, which I love. I experimented with a few templates but nothing felt right. What I should be doing is keeping a list of things I enjoy or appreciate about other blogs. Since the beginning, I wanted my blog to be an avenue for sharing and connecting with other educators and writers. I wanted to use the blog to sharpen and develop my writer's voice. Since those goals remain important, maybe I should just tweak rather than completely gutting it.

Planning for Intervention and Enrichment

I recently had the amazing experience of working with members of my school's SIP team to create some tools to assist classroom teachers to make instructional decisions for students who are struggling as well as students who are excelling beyond developmental or grade level expectations. Collaborating and sharing with professionals so passionate about student achievement was a blast to say the least. We based our work on Richard Allington's Six T's of exemplary teaching and the Optimal Learning Model (Regie Routman's version). Further, we brought with us a belief that all students can achieve at high levels and all learners need instruction that engages higher level thinking. We visualized groups of teachers coming together monthly to examine their classroom formative and summative data, sharing ideas with peers, and walking away with a tier 1/tier 2 plan of action all in one hour. Yes, it may seem lofty, but why not try? And add to that, we wanted teachers and administrators to be able to access these tools with their iPads. Our pie-in-the-sky plan incorporates Google Docs and LiveBinders. The mind map below is an overview of the planning process.


Blogging with My iPad

Blogging with my iPad . . . seems like a natural next step in my growing app addiction. This post was written and posted using an app called Blogsy. The app is fun to use and not difficult to figure out. Blogsy includes excellent tutorial videos. Embedding images from Picasa, Flicker, or your iPad camera roll is surprisingly easy. Maybe this will be the push I need to clean all my photos and images out of my hard drive and organize them in web albums in Picasa. Many fixes for Wordpress users were included in the most recent update. If you are interested in composing posts from your iPad, the $4.99 price is quite reasonable. So far, Blogsy is an app that actually does what it claims to do.


A Mess in the Cloud

I think I am on iPad app overload. There. Are. So. Many. Apps. And. So. Little. Time. The whole app thing is quite the racket. I started off telling myself I would only upload free apps. That lasted about a day. Even the cost of the less expensive apps adds up quickly. Paying for an app feels a little like gambling. Is the app worth 2.99? Will it actually work the way it says it will in the iTunes App Store? It sure is easy to hit “buy” and punch in your apple ID. And one would think that updating ones apps would be a good thing. Not necessarily. One of my favorite apps was recently updated and it no longer works in a way that serves my purposes. Fabulous. Even so, I’m learning from my mistakes and successes and am becoming savvier at reading reviews on apps and the companies that create them. And I do see a day when I might be able to work nearly paperless. How cool would that be? So instead of a mess all over on my desk, I’ll have a mess up in the cloud. 

Still Feeling Seasick

I finally had my interview last Friday. I interviewed for one of the new coaching positions that was created for the upcoming school year in my district. My previous position as a literacy coach was eliminated. I was very nervous, almost physically ill. Throughout the weekend that followed the interview, I hammered myself about what I should have said as well as all the dorky stuff that came out of my mouth.  I was one of a boat load, thirty-ish I think, of candidates that rotated through three interview stations. We had 15 minutes to impress each group before moving to the next. Even though I knew most of the interviewers, I still felt very exposed and vulnerable and nauseous. I probably won’t know if I got the position for another 2 or 3 weeks. 

More on Digital Conferring Notebooks

I've been playing for weeks with the idea of using an iPad as a digital notebook. Last week I posted about using an app called GoDocs together with a form I created in Google docs. I've been using the apps in tandem with some pleasing results. Editing Google docs with an iPad appears to be a common bugaboo among both iPad and Android users. I've spent lots of time researching and reading blog posts and help forums on the topic. And for some bizarre reason, I find that interesting. A lot of what I figured out came from trial and error. I like that I can quickly enter information on a customized form and view all my notes on a spreadsheet on my iPad. I can also sort my notes by name so I can view all my notes on one student at once. As I was making my form, I had to think about how I wanted the information displayed in the spreadsheet. Like I said, lots of trial and error. The following are screen shots of my current form as it appears on my iPad. The last screenshot is the spreadsheet that collects the information gathered by filling out the form as I confer with my students. After using my form, I'm already thinking about revisions. Playing around with Google docs forms and spreadsheets led me to even more questions. What if I wanted to create more of a portfolio for individual students? Well, Jennifer at I hablo espanglish and Linda at Teacherdance were totally right about Evernote. It is quickly becoming the basket for all my student information and has a portfolio feel. More about Evernote later in the week.

I added pull-down menus for name and reading level.

I could probably get rid of the box for date since all
the information is automatically time-stamped in
the spreadsheet.

I created "go to" pages so that  I can select an area
for improvement as part of a multiple choice question
 and go right to a page of teaching points for that
particular area.

The spreadsheet should be viewed in a list view which allows me to sort the
information by name, level, or areas of concern. This is helpful for
forming strategy groups. I can also go into the spreadsheet on my iPad
and edit any of the information in the cells.

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