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.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...