Brain Full, Body Tired

A List of Things on My Mind

This is a screenshot of one of my Lino It boards. I've always been fond
of colorful sticky notes. :)

21st Century Resume

Click the icon below and check out
 my latest LiveBinder. Ummm, no,
 I didn't get my resume done
yet . . . but I think the cover of
 my binder is cool.
I had a wonderful four-day break except for Tuesday totally snuck up on me. Today feels like it should be Monday. My goals for this past weekend were to work on my resume, learn about Twitter, clean the house, do laundry, see Jersey Boys, go out to dinner with my husband, go to the dentist, and a bunch of other stuff. I can say that I got all the fun activities checked off my to-do list. Half the cleaning was completed and I succeeded in avoiding the whole resume thing entirely.  Rather than write an actual resume, I created a LiveBinder filled with 21st century resume writing resources. It is an awesome binder, if I do say so myself.  Rather than getting something substantial down on the paper, I spent hours creating a resource about how to craft the very thing I have been avoiding. Seriously, Diana? Ridiculous. Truly. How the heck did I ever make it through graduate school for crying out loud?  In November, I wrote 50,000 words in 26 days.  One would think I could force myself to crank out a resume? Pathetic. I wonder if ice cream would help or maybe some nachos. Good grief.

Digital Conferring Notebook

Thanks to Amy Platt who wrote an awesome post on Two Writing Teachers about her digital conferring notebook. And thanks to Stacey and Ruth for providing a place to have this important conversation. I've been playing with the idea myself using Google Docs together with LiveBinders. The notebook is far from finished but my thinking was to try to create a notebook that mirrored what some of my teachers were using in their classrooms. Many teachers liked The Sisters model of having an appointment calendar as well as a class list to track conferences. They also liked the idea of being able to look at the previous conference note prior to or at the time they were conferring with the student. That is why I placed the Google Doc spreadsheet first so they could look at previous notes before tabbing over to the actual Google form. My thinking was to create a tool that could be used not just for note taking but for planning as well. I was thinking about how cool it would be to be able to provide links to additional resources that could help teachers plan strategy groups for their students. LiveBinder does have an iPad App but I haven't played with that yet. In fact, I probably won't have an iPad to try it out until late in the school year. As I said before, my LiveBinder is a work in progress and far from complete but I am willing to share if you are interested. Click on the icon below to view the binder. Be sure to view the binder in Presentation mode which is a tab located in the lower right hand corner. Any and all ideas are appreciated!

Discover LiveBinders

If you haven't discovered LiveBinders, take some time today to investigate this powerful resource. Not only is LiveBinders a free and powerful tool for organizing resources, it is an amazing warehouse of curated information. They also provide excellent and exciting webinars, one of which I viewed just last night on STEM resources. Below are two binders that I have been working on. So many possibilities.

Thankful Thursday

One Little Word Wednesday: Thread

Wednesday. Brain empty. Thread. I guess I’m just going to have to do what I tell the kids to do and just barf what is in my head onto the paper. I’m going to trust that somehow it will connect to thread. I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole resume thing. And I’m proud to say, that I have made a tiny bit of progress. I decided to get myself going by making lists of all the things I’ve done professionally for the last 25 years. Since I know that most of what I write on the paper won’t end up in my final piece, I’m not fussing over every item on the list. The important details will emerge as I continue writing. As I write my lists, I am beginning to think about the format of the piece. This will become clearer when I figure out the audience and purpose. I’m also on the hunt for mentor texts. No matter the end result, going through this process, threading together these bits and pieces of my life might be a good thing. Maybe it will help calm the waters so I don’t feel like such bobbing cork.

Twisted Threads

Thinking Outside the Valentine Box

As a kid, I used to look forward to Valentine’s Day almost as much as Halloween. I remember that every class at my school had a contest for the best valentine box. Each class displayed their winning boxes on a table by the front doors for everyone to admire.  I think I was in the 4th grade before I realized that many of the parents had a heavy hand in making some of the boxes. Not mine. My mom helped me with ideas and finding stuff around the house to use but she left the creating up to me. One year, I made a coffee grinder valentine box, complete with a drawer at the bottom to put my valentines. I remember making the hand crank and the funnel top out of foil and covering the grinder box with pink flannel. It was cute but the drawer was rather small and it didn't slide too well. 

          When I brought it to school and placed it on the heat register that ran the length of our classroom, my friends pointed and whispered. At first I took it as a compliment but in truth, they had no idea what it was. The teacher surmised it was a coffee grinder but most of the kids had never seen one before. After the judging, which occurred during our lunch, I rushed to my pink coffee grinder to find that I hadn't won, not even an honorable mention. During the party, after the valentines and treats were passed out, my teacher came over to me and asked me about my box. She asked me several questions about how I got the idea and how I made it. After she probed a second time if I was sure I made it myself did I realize I was being interrogated. It felt worse that my teacher didn't believe me that I had made it myself than not winning honorable mention. But it was a good lesson. It was just a silly valentine box. From then on, my valentine boxes consisted of a shoe box covered in pink tissue paper with a slit on the top.  

Mentor Sentence Monday: The Incredible Journey

Amazon Link

When I was in 5th grade, one of my favorite books was The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. I remember wanting to read the book because one the characters was a Siamese cat. Burnford's descriptions of the characters are filled with lengthy sentences with multiple commas and semi-colons. Admittedly, I've never felt very confident about teaching young writers to use semi-colons but with Burnford's words as a model, it seems a little easier. Her detailed descriptions of the animal characters are great snippets for teaching snapshots.

The following sentences are from Burnford's The Incredible Journey, page 4:
On the floor, his scarred, bony head resting on one of the man's feet, lay an old white English bull terrier. His slanted almond-shaped eyes, sunk deep within their pinkish rims, were closed; one large triangular ear caught the firelight, flushing the inside a delicate pink, so that it appeared almost translucent.
I generated the following sentences using Burnford's words as a model:
On the bed, his plump, wide head resting on one of the woman's feet, lay an orange domestic short hair. His yellow-green eyes, half-closed within their furry rims, were glowing; one triangular ear caught the sunlight, making the hairs inside glisten.

Slice of Life Challenge Starts in March

I’ve been thinking a lot about the March Slice of Life (SOL) writing challenge sponsored by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres, creators of the Two Writing Teachers blog and authors of Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice. It was my frequent visits to their blog that prompted me to start my own blog so I could participate in the challenge for the first time last year. Taking part in the SOL experience has left its handprints all over both my thinking about young writers and my teaching practice. If you don’t have a blog, consider starting one. It will be good for your writing soul. After all, if we are going to teach youngsters to take risks with their writing and push through the hard parts, shouldn’t we, as their teachers be willing to do the same? Visit TWT and join the SOL challenge.

Using the Right Web Tool for the Job

Screenshot of my Linoit sticky
I've always been interested in tools. When I was little, my dad had a tool room near the back door by the garage. In fact, every house he ever lived in had a workbench with nails, nuts, washers, and drill bits neatly organized in baby food jars and in little plastic drawers. He had various saws and hammers hanging on the pegboard behind the bench. He was quite handy around the house and could build and fix almost anything. My mom also had a tool room of sorts. After my sisters moved out, she turned a spare bedroom into a sewing room. The closet that used to contain paisley blouses, bell bottoms, and mini-skirts, now housed boxes of buttons, bias tape, and patterns. Every tool had a specific job.

Until about a year ago, I was very intimidated by using technology and also by people who seemed to know a lot about technology. I think part of it was because I didn't really have a clear purpose for learning how to use document cameras, smart boards, or web tools. And there was a whole list of techie vocabulary words that I didn't understand. Then I got tired of feeling like I was in the dark and I just started to experiment. I started by creating a blog. In fact, I had a blog before I was ever on Face Book. Having a blog helped me to see a purpose for wanting to learn techie talk. Whenever I get intimidated by technology, I remember my dad's tool bench or my mom's sewing room. Technology and Apps are just tools, nothing more.

 And for me, I often figure things out by making mistakes. That's what happened to me the other day when I tried to use Wallwisher with  Google Docs. Wallwisher is a wonderful tool but it wasn't the right one for the job. I was trying to use a screwdriver to hammer a nail. Not very effective. Then someone told me about Linoit and I tried it. It seems to serve my purpose, at least for now.

Click on the cork board below and check out my Google Form I'm thinking about using as part of a conferring notebook. Post a sticky on my canvas (fancy name for a board) about your thinking. Additional links to resources for creating a digital conferring notebook are posted on the canvas. Do you have experiences with digital conferring notebooks? Post a link to your blog on my canvas or in a comment below. We'll see if this works. :)

One Little Word Wednesday: Thread

My jar of  loose ends and
tangled threads.
It seems like each Wednesday I start the same way. I don’t know what I’m going to write about. As usual, I look over at my jar of thread that I thought was so clever in January.  I just stare at it.  I pick it up and turn it around and around. It has started to look rather untidy inside my jar. A few days ago, my teenage son came into my office, flopped on the day bed, and then took to messing with my jar. He picked it up, unscrewed the lid, and started disturbing and fiddling with the contents. By the time he left my office, my thread jar was in complete disarray. I plunked the spools back into the jar, screwed on the lid, and forgot about it. That is until today. Wednesday. As I look at my jar, I feel like the loose threads of my last several days need to be untangled, rewound, and secured. 

Things Could Be A Lot Worse

Letting Go
photo by Lindsey Emerson

“Do you realize that you have been on the computer since we got home from church?” he said.

This was a pretty gutsy question given that he had spent the day playing Madden NFL 12 and planned on parking his fanny on the couch all evening to watch the Super Bowl.

“And the problem is . . . ?” I fired back at him.

He hesitated, obviously planning out what he was going to say next.

“You have that resume done?” he said.

I peered at him over my glasses, angry. Angry and hurt that he felt he needed to remind me that my position at school had been eliminated for next year. Angry that he was right. Angry that every time I tried to start, I became paralyzed. Talk about writer’s block. I rationalized that I would start the resume when the job descriptions for the new positions were posted. The truth be told, I was choosing not to start. Starting felt like letting go and I hadn’t let go just yet. Starting was admitting that I was going to have to reinvent myself if I planned on staying employed. I still haven’t started. Eventually I’ll have to get off my pity pot.

Mentor Sentence Monday: Missing May

Amazon Link
Cynthia Rylant’s Missing May, won the Newbery Award for 1993. Her words flow together so easily and there is a lovely rhythm to her sentences. The following paragraph is a description of the house of Uncle Ob and Aunt May. The opening sentence of this paragraph (page 5) would be perfect for kids to imitate and would also be a great model for a hook.

Home was, still is, a rusty old trailer stuck on the face of a mountain in Deep Water, in the heart of Fayette County. It looked to me, the first time, like a toy that God had been playing with and accidentally dropped out of heaven. Down and down and down it came and landed, thunk, on this mountain, sort of cockeyed and shaky and grateful to be all in one piece. Well sort of one piece.

I generated the following paragraph using Rylant’s words as my model:

Home was, still is, a sprawling brick ranch pushed back from the road, half-way down Parker Street. It looked to me, the first time, like mismatched shoe boxes pushed together to form an “L” . I figured it had been added on to at least three different times, given that each of the three sections of the house had slightly different kinds of bricks. 

Prezi Love

My principal asked me to make a slide show of some writing celebrations happening in two third grade classrooms. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to play with Prezi. And play I did. It is easy, fun to use, and free. Educators are eligible to use an upgraded version of Prezi for free. I love that I can embed images, video clips, or blog posts directly into the slideshow. I like that Prezi slide shows give viewers a sense of the whole and how the parts or individual slides relate to the whole. The biggest thing is to avoid too much panning or it can give viewers motion sickness. In the last slide, I linked a ThingLink image I created with classroom pictures from the celebrations. I put them into a collage using Picasa, saved the collage as a JPG, then uploaded it as a single image. Here is my Prezi. I rather like it. Hope my principal does too. 

Dabbling in Web 2.0 Tools

If you haven’t discovered LiveBinders yet, you need to check it out. The LiveBinders community explodes with educator resources and invites you to organize and collect anything you find in addition to your own resources into your own binder. If it has a URL, you can put it in a LiveBinder. And it is free! Please check out this outstanding LiveBinder that organizes web 2.0 tools according to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  

One Little Word Wednesday: Thread

I had been hemming and hawing over today’s post. Thread. I almost started writing a post about how I didn’t know what to write about. I avoided writing my post by writing some comments on other blogs. I then returned to my Tuesday post on Web 2.0 Tools and started replying to commenters. Then it came to me. Threaded comments! Blogger recently implemented a threaded commenting system. Personally, I’m thrilled. Ever since I started my blog, I’ve considered adding Discus or a Reply button. I even considered switching to Wordpress because I liked their commenting system better than Blogger’s. But I didn’t. I actually didn’t even know that Blogger had rolled out the system until I read someone else’s blog. I assumed that bloggers using Blogger would be as pleased as I was. Not true. I was very surprised to read how many people hated the new system and wanted Blogger to switch back, or at least give them the option of disabling the system on their own blog. When I read the comments in Blogger Buzz, I could see why some people would be annoyed, even upset by these changes. For me, I’m looking forward to using the system to see if it promotes more conversations. 

Neon Spools

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