Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Precious Moment

A room full of grown-ups, most of whom she is meeting for the first time. It doesn't take long for her to realize she is the sole child. She can use that to her advantage. She makes her way to her purse and pulls out her Silly Putty. The blue Silly Putty becomes 'band-aids' for her imagined wa-was (Arabic for owies). Circulating the room to show off her handy work gets fabulous reactions.


After dinner the adults' attention shifts to the two dear people we have gathered to say good-bye to. We congregate in the living room to cover them in prayers. G is in the dining room hamming it up with Daddy and another friend. As soon as she realizes what is happening in the living room she makes a bee line to the group and stands close; still and quiet.


This is a precious moment to me. My child's spirituality continues to touch my heart. She is very tuned in to moments that she can be part of a community drawing closer to God. I am thankful for the reminders and the blessings.

Monday, October 29, 2012

What Are You Reading?

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun. Since I read both I will post to both. Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.
This has been a stupendous month for books. Nearly all of these book I want to put in my classroom library. (I have marked them with a *) 

Here is what I have read this month.

 Wife for Hire by Janet Evanovich
Don't judge me! This was a 'bath tub book'. I read books that have been passed to me that I wouldn't care if they fell in the tub and I don't have to really think to read it or pick it back up after days or weeks.

 One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

 Goodbye Sarajevo by Atka Reid and Hana Schofield

The dry and understated humor in this book was greatly appreciated by me, but would be hard for most of my students to follow especially as ELLs.

 Marshfield Dreams by Ralph Fletcher
Great mentor texts for my students. We read several of these vignettes during our memoir unit.

 Hex Hall Book One by Rachel Hawkins
I wrote about some series that I have thoroughly enjoyed in this post. This series can be added to the list. I especially like the snarky protagonist.

 The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

 Spell Bound (Hex Hall Book Two) by Rachel Hawkins
My library had the first one available for Kindle. I instantly wanted to read the rest, but they weren't available. I don't often purchase Kindle books, but I couldn't wait!

 Demonglass (Hex Hall Book Three) by Rachel Hawkins

 Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The first half of this book had me hooked because I couldn't figure out what the big picture was. The second half kept me turning the pages because I wanted to know how the story unfolded. The sequel isn't out until February, so now I wait.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cyberbullying: Infographic

This is an infographic I will share with my students in advisory. I want to share it as a means to start conversation.

We'll see how it goes. Will the visual presentation of information draw them in more than something read or told to them? I'll let you know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Soul Smiles


Ping, Ping


Ping, Ping, Ping

My mind becomes conscious, though my eyes stay shut. I can tell from the darkness pushing on my eye lids that it is still night. I can’t tell if that means 11pm or 2am.

Some rights reserved by Arlo Bates

The pinging continues. I only know of two things that make that sound. Our bedroom air conditioner is an old style where the metal box sits outside the house. The pinging sound is either bird claws doing a tap dance or it is rain.


I open my eyes and spring out of bed. I cross the room quickly, lift the shade, and peer out the window. Our bedroom is too high up and there isn’t enough light for me to be able to see anything. I head downstairs and open the front door.

It is really raining. Not just a few drops, but steady rain falling from the sky!
I retrieve my camping chair and place it on the front porch, mostly under the overhang. It is 4:45am. I am in my nightgown with my bare legs and feet out in the rain. The temperature is perfect. Ah, I think, I could sit here until the sun comes up.

But I don’t. The mosquitoes find me. When the fourth one lands I decide it is better to head inside than itch for days.

By the time G wakes up the rain has stopped and the clouds are parting. I am sure the overall accumulation is barely anything, but it rained. We haven’t had more than 4 drops, one afternoon, in nearly two years. My Seattle soul smiles.

Some rights reserved by sea turtle

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shaken, Not Stirred

This is the infographic I want to use…

James Bond: 50 Years of Movies

But I haven't come up with a compelling and appropriate way to integrate it into my curriculum.

Stay tuned for an infographic for use in the classroom.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I was asked to present a workshop for our staff about the "Flipped Classroom". I decided the initial conversation needed to be about what a "Flipped Classroom" is and why someone would think about doing it. (The conversation is now primed for part two, how to "Flip".)

The presentation below is what I used for my workshops. I tried very hard to use visuals to anchor points, but to have the concepts and discussions NOT be on the slides. I also included a few video clips. I think hearing other voices helps people take in new information.


Most, if not all, of us can ride a bike. Many of us learned to pedal with a tricycle. Many of us moved to a 'big kid bike' by first using training wheels.

Three wheels in the back added stability, which bred confidence. Eventually the grownup who was walking with us gave us a push and then they were no longer needed. We could ride a bike.

I chose these images because learning to ride a bike is a big deal and it is an illustration nearly all kids can relate to. I do lots of talking about learning to ride a bike as we launch our memoir unit.

These images could be used to get kids thinking about their memories and experiences. Simply putting the photos before my students would get them talking. Talking is a fabulous pre-writing activity. Before they realize it I have gotten them from gabbing with their neighbor to pushing lead through their notebooks, where the work of the writer continues.

Another reason I chose these two images is because they are too centered. As we take our memoirs into digital storytelling we could revisit these images and talk about the rule of thirds.

How could they improve the composition of these photos? What is gained and lost by each change? Could they take a better one themselves? How will this knowledge impact their storyboarding? What else do they wonder about?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I hadn't realized how much I missed silence until I stumbled into some the other day. I was home by myself. (Well, not actually by myself as G was asleep upstairs.) I was cold so I turned off the AC. I then turned off the one in the kitchen as well.

All of a sudden it was quiet.

Do you know quiet? The hush of what you can't hear when you wake up and it has snowed overnight. The world is muted. Hushed. Quiet.

426156449_5824c2d247_z_quietSome rights reserved by jajoIII

Life with a three year old doesn't allow for much quiet. If she is awake, one of three things is most likely happening.

One; talking. She is very verbal. I love listening to the way her mind works, but it is pretty constant and even a mother can want for a mute or pause button.

Thankfully there is a two - she could be giggling. When you are three years old emotions are heightened. Laughter and giggles are plentiful and wonderful.

Unfortunately the flip side of those emotions is the final option- tears. Not just moisture seeping from the eyes. That would not be very three. Most tears come with complete melt downs. Those are the moments that number one doesn't seem so bad.

Now add to the three year old the background noise of our AC units. No, we don't have central air. Each room has its own wall-mounted air conditioner. When you live in the tropics, and it is stinking hot, AC is a life saver. The AC is always on.

The ACs in our home are not the quiet kind. (In fact I was enjoying the quiet so much that I turned off the one in our bedroom before I crawled into bed. Later, when it was getting too warm and I needed to turn it back on the sound could have been mistaken for a small plane starting up and heading down the runway.)

2320500088_8bc58b17c7_z_small planeSome rights reserved by TheScream

So now I remember what quiet is. I remember that I like quiet. I remember that I can find quiet here, all I have to do is turn off the AC.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Evening On The Spit

Every summer we go camping. Camping with family and friends is a constant, the location is a variable. This summer we went to Dungeness Recreation Area near Sequim, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

Within the recreation area is a spit - a narrow sliver of beach, extending five miles out into the salt water. The spit is very narrow, barely visible when the tide is in and punctuated by a light house at the terminus.

We saved one evening of our camping adventure for visiting the spit. After dinner we gathered layers for warmth and jackets to buffet the wind, shovel and pail for G, and started out along the trail.

The path edges the top of the cliff until you are above the beginning of the spit and entering a special, protected area. They especially want to protect the area for wildlife - primarily birds.


At this point you start down a hill, through the forest. The path is wide - wide enough for four or five people to walk side-by-side in most places. Eventually the downward grade increases.

Just before the final decent you are afforded your first view of the spit. From the observation platform you can see the entire spit, including the steady flicker of rotating light from the sentry way out at the end.

After taking it all in; the spit, the Strait of Juan de Fuca (used as a shipping lane for vessels transiting from Puget Sound out to the Pacific Ocean), the San Juan Islands, and the southern part of Vancouver Island, Canada. Besides the spit this area is in a wide, shallow bay. You can see the shoreline's crescent to your left, ending at Port Angeles.

As I watched the water I realized something was breaking the surface. Fish jumping? That was my first guess and then I watched for another moment. There was a seal frolicking - popping up and diving down again. I pondered if it was fishing or simply playing. Was it solitary or was only one breaking the surface at a time? I watched.

As evening approached, the sinking sun began to color the sky as a watercolor artist would brush their painting. The lights in nearby towns began to twinkles and the brisk breeze necessitated coats to be zipped up.

Once down the hill the gentle crashing of small waves competed with the sound of the wind and G's giggles as she splayed in the sand - sending Daddy to the waves for water.

Grandparents headed down the beach, determined to explore a bit of the shrinking sand as they raced the tide - and the clock. The spit closed at 8 p.m.

In our final moment G hid among the logs on the beach, waiting to scare her returning grandparents as I watched a cruise ship heading out for the Inside Passage.

What a glorious evening for adventures.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What Are You Reading?

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun. Since I read both I will post to both. Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.

Here is what I have read in the past month.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Want To Go Private? by Sarah Littman

Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

No Room For Bullies edited by Jose Bolton & Stan Graeve