Diamonds: The Beautiful Thing About Today

Joy is not in things; it is in us.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Tc Morgan via Compfight

I would like to say that Maya Angelou’s worldview shaped mine, including the way I view what it means (and how awesome it is) to be a woman.

I love Maya Angelou.

She is and always will be one of my favorites. She was one of the LIVING poets that I shared with students. I love many of the things she said over the years during speaking engagements and interviews, such as the idea that people won’t remember what you say or do, but they will always remember how you make them feel … about how we can be a rainbow in other people’s clouds … about how we are only as blind as we want to be … about how growing up means we stop blaming our parents … about the greatest agony of all–bearing an untold story within oneself … about how we can change because of something that happens to us, but it doesn’t mean we have to be reduced by it … about how love knows no boundaries … about how we should seek life’s laughter. There is more.

I would like to say that Maya Angelou’s worldview shaped mine, including the way I view what it means (and how awesome it is) to be a woman.

MY all-time favorite Maya Angelou quote comes from my all-time favorite Maya Angelou poem, “Still I Rise.”

It goes a little something like this:

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

When I read those lines for the first time … I was just like BOOM. YEAHHHHH. Still. I. Rise. I am woman! THIS, ladies, is how you SHOULD feel … most of the time. THIS is how you should approach life.

Maya Angelou captured the POWER of the WOMAN. WITH WORDS.

The beautiful thing about TODAY is that from this point forward Maya will live FOREVER through her words and through the worldview she shared with her readers and loved ones.

Playing with Beowulf

This assignment was featured in an episode of “Learning World” on Euronews. Check it out! Our portion begins at the 6 min. 30 sec. mark. –> Learning World

the beastie prowls
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: jason via Compfight

“Playing” and “Beowulf” don’t typically appear in close conjunction with one another. Really “playing” and English class don’t go hand in hand often enough, in my opinion. This assignment is designed to combat the perceived stuffiness associated with old texts. Through play, we can find and make meaning–even when we’re beyond the age usually affiliated with “playing”.

What is one thing the big kids like to play with? Social media! In this assignment I ask my students to celebrate and showcase the language of Beowulf (in translation) through the currently popular Vine app. In doing so, they will be zeroing in on and mastering a tiny portion of a text that can otherwise seem daunting to a reader–especially a young one–and thereby providing a stepping stone upon which they can launch into deeper understanding of this text as well as other similarly difficult ones that they will inevitably encounter in this class and beyond. What follows are the instructions I provided my students and an example Vine that a student and I created.

BeowulfVine

This assignment is designed not only to look at the text “under a microscope” for greater understanding of it, but also to celebrate the language and story of Beowulf, the oldest written English-language story in existence. For this assignment, we will use the Burton Raffel translation from our textbook.

PROCEDURE

THINK. What was the most engaging part or aspect of the story? Who was your favorite character, and why? Are there any words or lines that especially stand out to you? What were some examples of kennings and alliteration the author/translator used?

CHOOSE. Identify a line or lines from the text on which you’d like to focus.

PLAN YOUR VINE. How can you bring this line of text to life in a creative, celebratory fun manner in 6 seconds or less? Will you use a costume? an accent? props? Will you need to recruit friends to be a part of your video?

TIPS. Use the following checklist to guide your planning.

Make sure …
… you know how to pronounce all of the words in your chosen line(s).
… to speak clearly and enunciate each word, so it is easy for your audience to understand you (especially if you decide to use an accent).
… to project your voice and speak loudly enough that the camera picks up your voice (without overpowering the microphone and speakers).
… to use a costume, props or “special effects”. It will make it more fun for you and your audience.
… experiment with different ways to deliver the line(s).
… practice it BEFORE you commit it to video.

Your final product should show evidence of planning and celebration! Have fun playing with Beowulf and friends.

 

EXAMPLE:

UPDATE: Here are some of the results from this year’s group (2013-14 semester 2)

Here are some quote choices. You are welcome to pick others, but these are some of the ones I thought would lend themselves well for Vining.

page 40

The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees and leaves …

So Hrothgar’s men lived happy in his hall/Till the monster stirred, that demon! that fiend! Grendel!

page 42

He was spawned in that slime, conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain.

The Almighty drove those demons out, and their exile was bitter, shut away from men.

The monster’s/Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws.

At daybreak, with the sun’s first light, they saw/How well he had worked …

page 43

So Grendel rules, fought with the righteous/One against many, and won …

So mankind’s enemy continued his crimes/Killing as often as he could, coming/Alone, bloodthirsty and horrible.

He never/Dared to touch King Hrothgar’s glorious Throne, protected by God–God,/whose love Grendel could not know.

page 44

Beowulf, Higlac’s/Follower and the strongest of the Geats … /Heard how Grendel filled nights with horror.

None of the wise ones regretted his going, much/As he was loved by the Geats: the omens were good …

So Beowulf/Chose the mightiest men he could find, the bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen/In all

page 45

“Whose soldiers are you,/You who’ve been carried in your deep-keeled ship/Across the sea-road to this country of mine? …”

page 46

“Nor have I ever seen,/Out of all the men on earth, on greater/than has come with you …”
“… No commoner carries/Such weapons, unless his appearance, and his beauty/Are both lies …”

“You! Tell me your name,/And your father’s name; no spies go further onto Danish/Soil than you’ve already come …”

“We are Geats/Men who follow Higlac. My father was a famous soldier, known far and wide/As a leader of men.”

“A soldier should know the difference between words/And deeds, and keep that knowledge clear/In his brain.”

“I believe your words. I trust in your friendship. Go forward, weapons and armor/And all, on into Denmark.”

page 47

They marched, Beowulf and his men/ … until they could see the gables/Of Herot, covered with hammered gold/And glowing in the sun …

“Hail Hrothgar!/Higlac is my cousin and my king; the days/Of my youth have been filled with glory.”

“Now Grendel’s/Name has echoed in our land: sailors/Have brought us stories of Herot, the best of all mead-halls, deserted and useless …”

“My people have said, the wisest, most knowing/And best of them, that my duty was to go to the Danes’/Great king.”

“They have seen my strength for themselves,/Have watched me rise from the darkness of war,/Dripping with my enemies blood.”

page 48

“I swam/In the blackness of night, hunting monsters/Out of the ocean, and killing them one/By one … /Now Grendel and I are called/Together, and I’ve come”

“Grant me, then,/Lord and protector of this noble place,/A single request!”

“I have come so far,/O shelterer of warriors and your people’s loved friend …”

“…I alone and with the help of my men,/May purge all evil from this hall.”

“I have heard/Too that the monster’s scorn of men/Is so great that he needs no weapons and fears non.”

“My lord Higlac/Might think less of me if I let my sword/Go where my feet were afraid to …”

“… my hands/Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life/Against the monster.”

“God must decide/Who will be given to death’s cold grip.”

page 49

Out from the marsh, rom the foot of misty/Hills and bogs, bearing God’s hatred, Grendel came …

He journeyed, forever joyless,/Straight to the door, then snapped it open …

By morning, the monster’s mind was hot/With the thought of food and the feasting his belly/Would soon know.

But fate, that night, intended/Grendel to gnaw the broken bones/Of his last human supper.

And Grendel’s great teeth came together/Snapping life shut.

page 50

The infamous killer fought/For his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat,/Desiring nothing but escape.

That trip to Herot/Was a miserable journey for the writhing monster!

The high hall rang, its roof boards swayed,/And Danes shook with terror.

That mighty protector of men/Leaped out, knowing the fiend was no use/To anyone in Denmark.

… the sharpest and hardest iron/Could not scratch at his skin, for that sin-stained demon/Had bewitched all men’s weapons …

page 51

The monster’s hatred rose higher/But his power had gone. He twisted in pain/And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder/Snapped …

The battle was over. Beowulf/Had been granted new glory.

Grendel escaped/But wounded as he was could flee to his den … Only to die

He, who had come to them from across the sea/Bold and strong-minded, had driven affliction/Off, purged Herot clean.

… the Danes/Had been served as he’d boasted he’d serve them …

Beowulf,/A prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel/Ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering/Forced on Hrothgar’s helpless people/By a bloodthirsty fiend.

No Dane doubted/The victory, for the proof, hanging high/From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s/Arm, claw and shoulder and all.

#NETA14InstaWalk: This Mission IS Possible!

All righty #NETA14 attendees: We have a mission for you–a mission of possibility–if you will. Welcome to the #NETA14InstaWalk. We are your task masters and hosts, Jodie Morgenson (AKA morgetron)

photo 2

AND Eliu Paopao (AKA paopao)

photo 1

and we will be guiding you through this most arduous, but rewarding experience.

We don’t want to flood Instagram with such intrepid volumes of awesome that it implodes or anything, though this will be difficult, because face it, teachers who spend time improving themselves for the sake of their students and attend events like #NETA14 are undeniably radical. That being said, we don’t want to overshadow the existing awesomeness that is already happening in the inner workings and cogs of the #NETA14 machine, but we do want to HIGHLIGHT it! Make it shine! Therefore, we are going to ask you to to do some reconnaissance–for the betterment of #NETA14 networking–and of yourselves.

<DRAMATIC PAUSE>

Your mission, dear #NETA14 attendees, should you choose to accept it, is to use your spyglass, (in the form of a camera, or a phone, or an iPad) to seize the very awesome to which we earlier referred and share it with the world via the Instagram hashtag #NETA14InstaWalk. Capture the awesome on camera and share it with the world (or at least with us). Let’s make a tiny ripple in the social media realm and force the Instaworld and the Tweetosphere and the Faceplace raise their styli in the air, mid-swipe and declare, “Something is going on in La Vista Nebraska, and we want to know what it is.”

For simply participating, you can earn this esteemed badge:

MissionPossible.png

That’s right: You heard me. For simply posting a single piece of insider intelligence–just one little picture on Instagram with this hashtag: #NETA14InstaWalk–you will earn this shiny spyglass inspired badge. We chose this spyglass to represent YOU, giving THE WORLD the insider’s view of the convention from the ultimate infiltration level–that of an attendee.

FELICITY2.jpg

Next up? The Felicity Badge. What brings you joy? What inspires you? Who makes education a better place? Capture this in the form of these four TASKS to earn this badge. Make sure to include the word “FELICITY” in your post and hashtag it with #NETA14InstaWalk.

TASKS 1-4–>Post photos portraying …

  • something at #NETA14 that makes you happy

  • a poster sesh that taught you something new

  • a breakout session inspiration

  • someone who makes education a better place

(Why the Starfish? If you’ve never had a chance to read “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley, you should. It is a beautiful story of inspiration, kindness, and felicity. This is why we chose this as our symbol.)

fashionista.jpg

You know you look good. (Just admit it.) And so do your friends. Gone are the days of the stuffy polyester pants-wearing curmudgeonly teacher. Teachers are fashionable. Teachers have got it goin’ on. Make sure to include the word “FASHION” in your post and hashtag it with #NETA14InstaWalk.

TASKS 5-8–> To earn The Fashionista Badge take photos of …

  • hat you wore on Thursday of #NETA14.

  • what you wore on Friday of #NETA14.

  • good lookin’ groups of educators

  • ANY noteworthy #edufashion that you spy  (a la Kristina Peters–@Mrskmpeters)

Foodie3.jpg

Everybody’s gotta eat, so let’s share in the yummy. Make sure to include the word “FOODIE” in your post and hashtag it with #NETA14InstaWalk.

TASKS 9-12–> To earn The Foodie Badge spy on your own plate, and share photos of …

  • beautiful breakfast

  • the savory and the sweet (snack-time)

  • hydration station (leaded or unleaded–your choice)

  • let’s do lunch

FRIENDZY3.jpg

NETA is truly the ultimate networking event for teachers seeking to improve their practice and share in expertise. It’s natural that our friends show up to this event because we like to surround ourselves with people who love to learn. Celebrate these friendships–old and new. Make sure to include the word “FRIENDZY” in your post and hashtag it with #NETA14InstaWalk.

TASKS 13-16–> To earn The Friendzy Badge take photos of …

  • reunions–friends you haven’t seen for a while

  • new friends–people you just met!

  • session selfies–> (Think Craig Badura-@mrbadura-at #edcampomaha)

  • digi-friends (friends you’ve only met digitally prior to today)

CAMtoteED3.jpg

Complete ALL of the aforementioned missions to earn THE HIGHEST AWARD available during the #NETA14InstaWalk–The Camera Totin’ Educator Badge–as inspired by Laura Gilchrist (@LauraGilchrist4).

Mainly we just want you to have fun and enjoy the conference. If you get a chance to snap some photos, don’t forget to include the hashtag. We may regram some of your posts. All of the posts will show up on NETA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed though. The hashtag will be the only way PaoPao and Morgetron will be able to find your pics, so it’s super important!

Above all, keep on being the awesome educator that you are, and if you have a chance to share your insider’s view of NETA, we hope you do it through the #NETA14InstaWalk!

————————————————————-

LOOKING for…?

…INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO INSTAWALK? –> CLICK ON THIS –> How do you InstaWalk?

…BADGES AND TASKS? –> CLICK ON THIS –> Take me to the badges!

… A WAY TO ASK A QUESTION? –> (Remove the asterisks) and EMAIL ME HERE –> *morgetron*@*gmail.com*.

… THE NETA INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT? CLICK ON THIS: @NEBEDTECH

#NETA14InstaWalk … or InstaParty?

If you’re looking for THE #NETA14InstaWalk Tasks & Badges, CLICK HERE–> This Mission Is Possible!
You are cordially invited to our party, our #NETA14InstaWalk party, that is.

MissionPossible

Later this week, educators from all over the region will be flocking to the the La Vista Convention Center for the premier Midwestern educational technology convention–> #NETA14 and this year, Eliu PaoPao and I will be hosting the first ever InstaWalk. We want YOU to join us.

What is an InstaWalk? you might be asking. An Instawalk is a photo scavenger hunt of sorts designed to infuse #NETA14 with an element of fun and whimsy, whilst offering yet another brilliant opportunity for attendees to network. Also, we’ve decided to gamify it by offering badges to those of you who carry out the given tasks.

To participate, follow these steps.

1. If you don’t have the Instagram app on your mobile device, download it from the app store and establish an account.

2. We will post the scavenger tasks in a couple of places: here on my blog, on Paopao’s blog and on NETA’s Instagram. Either check back here, or follow the NETA Instagram to see the prompts.

3. Fulfill the scavenger tasks throughout your NETA14 experience. Snap; share; search; interact.

4. Make sure to add #NETA14InstaWalk to all of your photo captions. This will send your photo to an Instagram backchannel that will allow everyone to see our photos in one place. Some of these photos will be regrammed on the NETA Instagram account. (Please note that if you have a PRIVATE Instagram account, you photos will not show up in the backchannel for everyone to see. They will only appear to those users who follow you. There are pros and cons to private accounts.)

5. This is for fun, so don’t let it stress you out! If you can’t fulfill one of the prompts, NBD. It’s not a contest; it’s strictly to make our conference experience more fun, so we hope you enjoy it! Everyone who plays is a winner, and even those who don’t play can enjoy the fruits of our labor.

6. If you’re more of a lurker, you can also watch the fun unfold by searching for the #NETA14 hashtag on Instagram (via the EXPLORE function) or clicking on the tag when it appears in the caption of a photo. However, I want to encourage you to pop your comfy lurking bubble and at least try one of the tasks. This will be a very supportive environment to test the waters of social media, if you haven’t done so before.

In addition to posting your photos, we also encourage you to comment on and “LIKE” others’ photos as well. Interaction is the goal here! You can also share your photos via Twitter or Facebook. Josh Allen has set up an IFTTT recipe to share these photos via the NETA Facebook page and Twitter and Elui and I will share some of them via our personal Twitter feeds also (@epaopao & @morgetron).

Paopao and I will be keeping our eyes on the #NETA14InstaWalk backchannel, and we will be delivering badges to everyone who earns them via shared Google Drive Folder! If you earn a badge, we will tag you on the badge post on Instagram and then, eventually contact you to download your very own copy of the badge to display wherever you want to display it. Remember EVERYONE who plays, wins.

#slowchated Poetry is for everyone (AND this is a party)!

This post is cross-posted here: #SLOWCHATED BLOG.
poetryparty

You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.

~ Carol Ann Duffy

April is National Poetry month, which means that April is a month that ONLY English teachers should be interested in … right?

EL-WRONGO-BONGO.

Poetry is for EVERYONE … even you, and you, and especially you … and your grandma, and your best friend and your grandma’s best friend. So let’s get this party started with some personal definitions of poetry. Nothing says PAR-TAY like defining words. #W00t! <smashes generic cola can into forehead>

Remember: It’s a party, so be raw; be honest. If you hate poetry, tell us why. If you love it, wreck a guitar and tell us about it. Wear a jaunty hat, and flirt with the idea of wearing false eyelashes–just for this week–just for our party. Also: Glitter. There can never be too much glitter. Consider all of this as you think up your definition of poetry.

I’m going to to ease you into this with a question, but FAIR WARNING, much of what I’ll be asking of you this week will not be so much questions as they will be TASKS or better yet … PARTY GAMES. Consider DAY 1 the ice-breaker-mingly-honeymoon-fancy cheese-and-crackers phase of the party.

Day 1 (Q1): What is Poetry? #slowchated

poetry1

Lawrence Ferlinghetti said, “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” Carl Sandburg said, “Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.” Bob Dylan said, “I think a poet is anybody who wouldn’t call himself a poet.” Emily Dickinson said, “If I feel physically, as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” Rita Dove said, “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Marianna Moore said, “Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.” Leonard Cohen said, “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

How do YOU define poetry? Feel free to be straightforward or … poetic. I want to hear from some English teachers, of course, but I for sure want to hear from EVERYONE else too.

DAY 2/QUESTION 2:

Q2.1: What is your fave poem or if you hate poetry (WHY?) what is your most palatable poem? (Provide a link, if possible.) #slowchated

Q2.2: Tell us WHY said poem is your fave or more palatable than others … For a bonus points, do an interpretive dance. #slowchated

(Yes, it’s THAT kind of party.)

DAY 3/Question 3:

PARTY TRICK TIME–>Q3: How is education like a poem? Education is like a poem because …

Q3expansion: You can insert any edu-term in there, if you so desire … Learning/Teaching/Education is like a poem because … #slowchated

DAY 4/QUESTIONS 4, 5, and 6

I’m going to add QUESTIONS 4, 5, AND 6 on DAY 4 because I’m AGAIN breaking the rules … which sort of makes me a poet, eh? Eh? EHHH? I’m viewing questions 4, 5, and 6 as a “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE” because I know that we are all busy people and there’s probably a good chance that none of us will have time to do ALL THREE (four really –hehehe) of these things because, as I stated before, they are more so TASKS than they are QUESTIONS, so if you would choose just one of these things, it would make me infinitely happy. I’m also hoping that by giving you a head’s up about Question 6.1 and 6.2 that it will increase the likelihood that more of you will do it (since you have three whole days to do it! Of course, if you were able to get to all three, you would get the PARTY HARDY award from this here poetry party.

Q4:Let’s brainstorm a million or less ideas for ways to use poetry (especially in the non-ELA classroom).

Q5: Write a less than 140 character poem about the topic of your choice and tweet it at us.

Q6.1: Capture a video of yourself doing an oral interpretation of your favorite poem by someone else.

or

Q6.2: Capture a video of yourself doing an oral interpretation of a poem YOU wrote.

Can you imagine what a fan-freakin-tastic archive this will be, if we all made a video?

POETRY RESOURCES for ALL Y’ALL.

20 POETS on the MEANING of POETRY

WHAT is POETRY? 50 DEFINITIONS and COUNTING

POEMS.COM

POETRY 180

POETRY ABOUT POETRY

POETRY FOUNDATION

IDEAS for EVERYDAY FOR THE REST OF THE MONTH+

POETRY EVERYWHERE!

Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.

~ Jack Kerouac

Why School? (as inspired by Mrs. Ripp’s 5th graders)

 

pictorial-banner_25_lg

Dear #phsCONlit students,

Today, we are going to be reading some of Pernille Ripp’s 5th graders’ blog post about this question: WHY SCHOOL?

1. Think about your own answer to this question (Why school?) and the follow-ups that are easily derived. (What has it done for you? Is it important? Is it for everyone? What alternatives are there? What works well? What could be better?) Answer these questions either mentally, on paper, or in your own blog.

2. Then … (and only after you’ve given it some significant thought) read what the 5th graders had to say. There are links to their blogs below.

3. Respond to their blog posts in the comments.

4. Remember: Comments need to be high quality. Here are some guidelines to follow when posting.

The best kinds of comments are …

A. questions that extend the conversation

Why do you believe the unicameral is such a positive thing?
OR
Do you believe that this will change the way we do business in America?

B. observations about the content or style of the post

I noticed that you are very passionate about aliens!
OR
I’d never thought about deer habitats from the perspective of a deer before I read your post.

C. counter-points to a position (done respectfully)

As someone who has experienced hunger first-hand, I disagree with your stance on welfare.

D. personal or observational connections you made to their post

This reminds me of the time I made my teacher laugh so hard, she cried.
OR
Your writing reminds me of David Sedaris’s!

Mix up your response types too. READ the OTHER COMMENTS already posted and try to add something NEW to the conversation.

LINKS:

MRS. RIPPEMMYMICHAELDANIELLESAFFRONALEXNISAZACHKEVINCIANABRUNOJACKLOGANCHARLESALLINATESYDNEYCOLINELLAMORGANMACKENZIE

#NETA14InstaWalk: Another Dynamite Opportunity to Network at This Year’s Conference

The NETA convention always presents plenty of opportunities for educators from all over Nebraska and nearby states to connect on a personal level, from Tweet ups to a Twitter hashtag (#NETA14 this year!) to surrounding oneself with like-minded learners and educational movers and  shakers–in the flesh. Recently, NETA Board Member, soon-to-be President-Elect and Bald and Bearded Wonder, Josh Allen  approached me about hosting NETA’s first ever InstaWalk. Of course, being the social media-obsessed lady that I am, I totally geeked out about the prospect and so here we are.

We’ll be modeling ourselves after the ASCD Instawalk, but we will be putting our own Midwestern twist on it.

Essentially, the NETA14 InstaWalk will be a photo scavenger hunt for all conference attendees. We will share our photos via Instagram, using the #NETA14 hashtag and then we will regram some of the tagged photos on NETA’s very own (and very new) Instagram account (@nebedtech). I will also share some here on my blog. Naturally, I will be participating too because I do love me some Instagram. I have three accounts–> one personal one (@morgetron), one for my classroom (@mizmorgetron) and one for a special project that my Contemporary Literature students undertook this semester (@dollyfamilyrules). This will be yet another way to network with other attendees (and presenters), but will serve also as a virtual tour for anyone who can’t make it to the event this year.

To participate, follow these steps.

1. If you don’t have the Instagram app on your mobile device, download it from the app store and establish an account.

2.  On both Thursday and Friday of the conference, we will post the daily scavenger hunts in a couple of places … here on my blog and on NETA’s Instagram. Either check back here, or follow the NETA Instagram to see the prompts.

3. Fulfill the scavenger tasks throughout your NETA14 experience. Snap, share, search, interact.

4. Make sure to add #NETA14InstaWalk to all of your photo captions. This will send your photo to an Instagram backchannel that will allow everyone to see our photos in one place. Some of these photos will be regrammed on the NETA Instagram account. (Please note that if you have a PRIVATE Instagram account, you photos will not show up in the backchannel for everyone. They will only appear to those users who follow you. There are pros and cons to private accounts.)

5. This is for fun, so don’t let it stress you out! If you can’t fulfill one of the prompts, NBD. It’s not a contest; it’s strictly to make our conference experience more fun, so we hope you enjoy it!

6. If you’re more of a lurker, you can also watch the fun unfold by searching for the #NETA14 hashtag on Instagram (via the EXPLORE function) or clicking on the tag when it appears in the caption of a photo. However, I want to encourage you to pop your comfy lurking bubble and at least try one of the tasks. This will be a very supportive environment to test the waters of social media, if you haven’t done so before.

Krissy Venosdale hosted ASCD’s InstaWalk this year, and, thanks to Twitter, I will be picking her brain for pro-tips! Josh also suggested I reach out to Eliu Uati Paopao as a co-host and we will be putting our heads together this Wednesday for a brainstorming session via Google Hangout.

In addition to posting your photos, we also encourage you to comment on and “LIKE” others’ photos as well. Interaction is the goal here! You can also share your photos via Twitter or Facebook. Josh will be helping me to set up an IFTTT recipe to share these photos via the NETA Facebook page and Elui and I will share some of them via our personal Twitter feeds also (@epaopao & @morgetron).

We’ll be offering a Scavenger Hunt Preview sometime soon, so stay tuned for updates and make sure to follow us on Instagram –>

@nebedtech!

Instagram

#slowchated Week 5: Balancing Life as an Educator AKA The Wild Ride

This is cross-posted here –> SLOWCHATED.

Now that week 6 is nearly coming to a close, I am ready to publish (the overly long) reflection of Week 5. (Brevity in writing is NOT one of my strong-points. Brevity in speaking is a specialty, so don’t ask me to TELL you about Week 5; you’ll just have to read about it here). Please note: I consider this a draft, but since it is overdue, I’m going to go ahead and hit “PUBLISH” and go back and edit later, which WILL include re-working the jacked up format.

Jeffrey Farley (@FarleyJeffrey) summed Week 5 up best:

During Week 5, we managed to explore this wide topic deeply (& sometimes irreverently) & the moderator (yours truly) was tricky–a cheater really–who had all sorts of sneaky question maneuvers. For example, Question 1 was really two questions. I posted Qs1 with the intention of focusing on the positives we see in education. On the daily, there are so many negative stories in the media that it’s easy to get bogged down with a poor attitude towards our profession. WE know what GOOD STUFF is happening every single day, but it’s a rarity for the media to share it–especially the NATIONAL media.

* Q1.1: Eds-> Tell me something good! In your current position, what brings you joy?

* Q1.2: Edu-Friends-> What are some positive observations you’ve made about education?

The responses to these questions were heartening. Here is a sample. (To see more you can check out the archive. It’s included at the end of this post.) We saw plenty of references to … … supportive administrations:

… staff camaraderie …

… teachers treating students as their own:

Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.31.18

… a little system-bucking, here and there:

Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.33.51

… and of course, plenty of references to our students:

Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.32.42Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.35.08

Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.36.09Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.37.13

Day 2 was more practical …

Q2: What are some steps you have taken (or should take) to ensure your work-life balance? #slowchated

Like so many educators, Kevin Ashworth (@SLOlifeKevin) noted that TEACHING is what brings him joy:

Plenty of others chimed in with some sage advice as well.

Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.51.09Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.51.20

Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.51.27Screenshot 2014-03-08 10.51.57

Day 3 was opposite day.

* Q3: What are some factors/habits that guarantee teacher burnout?

In short, if you want to burnout, devote your life to nothing but curriculum and standards, never forgive yourself for messing up, hang out by yourself ALL THE TIME, NEVER HAVE FUN and be sure to grade EVERYTHING.

Day 4 proved to be another day of tweaking the format:

* Q4.1 Edu-Newbs: What challenges have you faced regarding work-life balance?

* Q4.2 Edu-Vets: If you were to give a piece of advice to a newb teacher about work-life balance, what would that be?

I will let the tweets speak for themselves. (Remember the archive has so many more. This is just a sample.)

Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.07.53Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.07.59

Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.08.05Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.10.17Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.10.58Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.11.14Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.11.20Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.12.01

Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.12.20Screenshot 2014-03-08 11.12.37

The Day 5 question was admittedly a loaded question. It made all sorts of assumptions about the #slowchated participants, but it is an open forum, so anyone had the right to challenge it. Some embraced the question and others did question the question, which led to some spirited dialogue.

* Q5: How do you remain positive in a climate of edu-cynicism, edu-ugliness, & edu-enemies?

And I appreciate those who questioned the question …

… and the resulting dialogue …

During week 5 this video went viral, which only served to solidify my belief in the sentiment behind the loaded nature of the Week 5 Question:

I was disenchanted to find out via Facebook friends that this exact style of training had been used recently in a Nebraska district. *Sighhhh* (I sent this video in an email to my principal and director of learning begging them to NOT jump on this bandwagon.)

This question definitely brought out my inner-snark. I get so disheartened when I see report after report about how those in power are attacking our profession under the guise of accountability, so I am at some times swayed into negativity. It’s what gives me my fight though. It’s what keeps me here–because I believe that I can do some good and I can advocate for our profession and my colleagues and my school. My tolerance for policy that is NOT GOOD for students is NIL, so I have to be here to change it. Giving up to the incessant cynicism directed towards our profession will not do anyone any good though it does serve a purpose, I suppose. It forces us to think critically and reflectively about our own practices AND justify them when necessary. Entertaining our own cynicism from time to time can keep us sharp. It can keep the fire burning to fight the good fight.

Question 5 sparked deeper thought from another #slowchated participant as well. Ross LeBrun couldn’t stick to the 140 character limitation, so he wrote this–> HOW MUCH PENCILS? in response to the DAY 5 question.

Day 6 brought us full circle and focused us back on THE GOOD STUFF because THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD STUFF IN EDUCATION!

* Q6 (is not really a Q): Tell us about something you recently witnessed IN YOUR SCHOOL that you consider a POSITIVE ED STORY

I will leave you with another mere sampling of stories that will make you feel good about our profession. Check out the archive for others AND look for them in your own school. You WILL FIND THEM!

And here is the ARCHIVE:

And Change-o Was Her Name-o.

When I started this blog last year–the inaugural year of my school’s 1:1 iPad initiative, I thought the name I chose was so clever. I mean iPad … iTeachiLearn. Get it?

How delightfully clever am I, said I, gleefully clicking my heels in celebration as I hit “publish” for the first time.

But then the other day I was poking around Twitter, when this link came across my feed:

 

I heard a record player’s needle scratch vinyl as I realized … uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh … I’m not the only one. I went and poked around Dave Mulder‘s website: iTeach and iLearn and I was just like “OH MANNNNN” especially when I realized that his blog was older than mine.

Then, I did what any modern-day tech-savvy teacher should do PRIOR to establishing a new blog and Googled “iTeach iLearn” and OF COURSE, Dave’s blog came up and so did a bunch of other stuff that used the same or similar title: There’s an ORG with the same name, as well as an un-uploaded book, an RTI Tier at a school in Washington, a spiral-bound book about iPads, a slideshare slideshow, a barely established Pinterest Board, a NING, and an archive of student podcasts.

Let this be a cautionary tale, friends. Always Google your intended name, pre-establishment.

So, I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking … actually that’s an exaggeration. I had TWO names picked out prior to establishing this blog and I ended up going with iTeach iLearn because of the 1:1 iPad connection. However, though iPads have certainly played a role in my blogging experience, they are not the focus of this blog, so my original name choice is probably more telling anyway. Now, I’m going to reveal to you my new blog name, (which I did Google and came up with ONE similarly named blog, but nothing else, so I’m forging ahead), and the name is … (drum roll, please) … Small Teacher, Big World, same tagline. New name. Same tasty flavor.

And now you know why.

P.S. Dave Mulder plays the ukulele and loves Jesus. I WANT to play the ukulele player and totally love Jesus. Coinkydink? I think not–>We’re actually the same person. DUNdunDUNNNNN.

Just kidding. We’re are definitely NOT the same person, but we both obviously have excellent taste in blog titles.

I have a favorite author today because he made my students feel important.

IMG_7417

a typical interaction between someone else and me about favorite books—>

PERSON: So, who is your favorite author?

ME: I can’t pick one favorite author. I have many favorites.

PERSON: Well, if you HAD to pick one, who would you pick?

ME: I CAN’T! There are too many books. Too many writers. There is so much good writing in the world.

PERSON: Just pick one.

ME: Would you ever demand that I choose a favorite child?

PERSON: Seriously. Just pick one.

ME (shrieking): I TOLD YOU. I CAN’T PICK JUST ONE!!! (At this point, I turn into a werewolf and devour everyone in sight.)

However, today, if you asked me who my favorite author was, I would, without hesitation say, “Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone.” (Winter’s Bone was made into a movie that starred Jennifer Lawrence pre-Hunger Games.)

 Last week, I got it in my head that I wanted to tell Daniel Woodrell about the inspired work my students were doing after reading Winter’s Bone. I searched for and maybe even found his home address (but I wasn’t 100% sure). After some thought, I decided that would be creepy of me to send him a letter to his home anyway (and maybe a waste of time because it might not have even been the right David Woodrell), so I searched for an email address. Nothing came up for him, but when I searched “contact Daniel Woodrell”, I found his literary agent’s assistant’s email address and decided that this would be the most professional way to approach an author with whom I am personally unacquainted.

On Friday, I sent an email to David’s agent’s assistant that explained the project and provided a link for them to go take a look-see.

To give you some background, Winter’s Bone is about Ree Dolly, a 16-year-old girl taxed with looking after her mentally ill mother, and two young brothers, on next to nothing, after her dad goes out one day and doesn’t return. The family lives in the Missouri Ozarks and the action begins when the local sheriff rolls onto Ree’s property to inform her that her father put their house and land up for bail the last time he was arrested (for cooking meth). If he doesn’t show up for court, the house and land will be sold to the highest bidder and Ree and the rest of her family will be living in a cave. Ree has no choice but to go looking for her dad, and in doing so, must face family members who live very rough lives, by some very harsh rules, and one of those rules is that you best be minding your own business, if you know what’s good for yougirl <insert chest poke here> so this poses a challenge for someone who needs information.

IMG_7376

In the assignment, the students found Dolly Family Rules either stated outright or inferred from characters’ dialogue and actions in the text. They each selected one rule and took a picture that somehow represented that rule. Then, using the Aviary app, they overlaid the text with the rules (or the text and the inferred rule) on the photo. They sent the finished products to me and I posted it to an Instagram account I created specifically for this purpose.

Today, I was very pleased and surprised to see that Daniel Woodrell sent us an email!

Today, I was very pleased and surprised to see that Daniel Woodrell sent us an email! He told us that he loved to know that his lonely words found companions in us. He also said that he likes the project and complimented my students’ photography. Then, he revealed that he spent some time in Nebraska back in the 70′s. He even made mention of Aksarben. Needless to say, this simple 6-sentence note that Daniel took the time to sent made ten students and one teacher very happy today. <Swoon.>

Here is my Contemporary Literature class’s Instagram account: DOLLY FAMILY RULES.

IMG_7415