Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Growing and Learning (Slice of Life Day Thirty-One)

Whoo Hoo!  I made it!  31 Slice of Life posts in 31 days!

I am sitting here in my dining room with the sun streaming in the open windows with a breeze gently flowing in while I reflect on this writing challenge and how it has helped me grow and learn.

There is a wonderful picture book by Edith Pattou titled Mrs. Spritzer's Garden.  In the book a teacher plants and cares for a group of seeds (symbolizing students) over the year by caring for them and giving them what they need to succeed.  I feel that at the beginning of this experience I was a bit like a new seed - tossed into the ground without really knowing how the journey was going to go.  With a bit of watering and tending from my writing community's words of encouragement, I stretched my writing skills and grew out of my seed casing into a wee flower.  Thinking back to my posts some days I grew rapidly by really focusing in on one slice of my day and carefully crafting my writing with choice words.  Other days I didn't grow as much through hastily thrown together posts or distracted writing.  At the conclusion of this daily writing challenge I feel like an early spring flower - just sprouting out of the ground with the hope of someday growing into a blossoming, colorful flower.  

Thank you to the "master gardeners" Stacey and Ruth for inspiring us to write about slices of our lives!   Thank you to all the "gardeners" of the Slice of Life challenge!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bring On The Grocery Shopping (Slice of Life Day Thirty)

Today was one of those days where a trip to the grocery store was necessary due to the complete lack of food in our home.  I prepared for the trip like a Girl Scout troop preparing for a camping trip.  I took stock of what was in the pantry and refrigerator.  A game plan for upcoming meals was mapped out.  The coupon organizer was poured through and assisted in the creation of the seemingly never-ending list that was developing.  After a quick check in with my husband to make sure I had what he needed written on the list, I grabbed my keys, reusable bags, the bag of coupons and the checklist and headed out the door.

I love going grocery shopping in the middle of a weekday because there is less people to try and maneuver around in the aisles.  I try my best to organize my list in order of how the store is mapped out so I don't forget anything, but in evidently I always have to double back for something I missed.  With the quickness and concentration of a Jedi I moved through the aisles plucking items off shelves and tossing them into the cart.  With a sense of accomplishment I crossed things off the list with gusto.  At last I approached the checkout lane and proceeded to load up the conveyor belt with all my purchases.

Now comes the best moment - how much did I save in coupons?  Each time I grocery shop like this I feel like it is a challenge to myself to save as much as possible with coupons from the Sunday paper.  With great satisfaction today's total savings just from coupons was $14!  

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Cleaning Mission Monday (Slice of Life Day Twenty-Nine)

Nick over at thenerdyteacher posted on his blog a Mission Monday challenge to those who wish to accept it.  Traditionally during the season of spring people engage in spring cleaning of their homes.  In his post he proposes that people also take the time to do some digital cleaning of their home and/or school computers.

I tend to be one of the those people that like to hold onto various items for memories, or to possibly be used later in life or with the hope that it will inspire me to try something new.  I am not a hoarder however!    When my husband and I moved into our house late last fall and we were packing our apartment up I got over saving some things really fast and let go of them either through pitching them or donating them.  Today as I move through cleaning our new house I need to keep this in mind to help me weed through things that really need to be kept or things that can be removed from our house.

I also need to repeat that practice and go through my laptop files, RSS feeds and bookmarks.  I am certain I will find some files that could be deleted and others that could be saved for the future.  My bookmarks definitely need reorganized and I have played with the idea of moving them over to a social bookmarking site like Delicious.  Maybe now is the time!  Also, my RSS feeds need to be weeded through so I can make some decisions of which I should keep, if I need to delete any or if there are any I need to add to my Google Reader.

So now that I have said I am going to do all of this I need to get moving on it all!    

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Love My Parents (Slice of Life Day Twenty-Eight)

Quite simply put - I love my parents!

Today my husband and I are going on a date adventure.  We won tickets to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers game today and we decided to make a day trip out of it and visit some friends as well.  We have a dog and since we would be gone most of the day we needed someone to either come to our house and let her out a few times or someone be willing to adopt her for the day.  Parents to the rescue!  They kindly volunteered to have her come to their house for a "sleepover" with them and their dogs.  So now we don't have to rush back to get her this evening before my parents head to bed!  Yeah Mom and Dad!

Also, this morning my husband had to attend a work meeting before we could leave town.  So I dropped him off at the meeting and then headed to my parents house to drop off the dog.  Bless my mother for greeting me at the door with a "Do you need a cup of coffee?"  Yes!  So as I settled into their couch to drink it my father so kindly offered to make me breakfast.  Yes again!  I felt like I was back home visiting from college as he whipped up eggs, bacon and toast for me.  Nothing tastes better than a home-cooked meal that you didn't have to prepare or clean up! 

So now I am sitting at a Panera (with a pleasantly full belly) down the street from my husband's work waiting patiently to get the call to go pick him so we can head off on our date day! 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stop Motion Video Club (Slice of Life Day Twenty-Seven)

After hearing about, reading about and thinking about stop motion videos this year my friend Tony over at Learn Me Sumthin' and I are plunging into this world with a group of 3rd and 4th graders.  We decided to start small this year focusing on two grade levels and then next year possibly branch into more grade levels.  The group will meet once a week for 5 weeks for an hour after school.  We sent out the forms this past week and I was not quite sure what the response would be.

The response was awesome!  We have 38 students who brought back forms expressing interest in joining the "club".   So now we have to start laying some foundations for this to get off the ground successfully.  We are crafting an agreement for the students to sign laying out the expectations for group members.  Anyone have ideas of what we could include?

A big thank you to Kevin at Kevin's Meandering Mind for inspiring this journey!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lenten Friday (Slice of Life Day Twenty-Six)

Fridays during Lent season are always a difficult time for a catholic girl like me.  I take pride in practicing in the abstinence of meat and poultry on Fridays during Lent.  There are a few things working against me though during this time.

I am an Irish lady who enjoys her "meat and potatoes" at meal times.  I admire vegetarians from afar and their ability to create amazing meals that exclude all types of meat. Me?  I come up pretty short in that department. When I think of meal planning it all starts with the meat.  Will the meal be all about chicken, red meat or pork?  Unless I start with the idea of pasta, but then it turns into what type of meat will be in the pasta dish......

Also, I have unfortunate genetic makeup of having food allergies.  I am talking MAJOR food allergies!  I bet when you first starting reading this post you thought I would have fish on Fridays like most catholics.  Wrong!  I am allergic to all fresh fish.  Maybe you thought I could eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during Lent.  Wrong again!  I am allergic to all nuts.  Add legumes to the list of things I am allergic too as well.  I also have the raw deal of being allergic to chocolate!

So you see....Fridays during Lent center around food choices like cheese pizza, noodles with mariana sauce and cheese quesadillas for me.  Heres to one more Friday this season!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Salon Time (Slice of Life Day of Twenty-Five)

I have been going to the same hair dresser now for 10 years.  I have known her longer than I have known my husband!  I love going to the salon she co-owns because it always feels like stopping by a friends house for a visit.  If you have seen the movie Steel Magnolias it is exactly like Trudy's salon.  You come in the back door, announce your arrival and grab a cup of coffee or tea.  You settle in to "catching-up" conversation about what's new, how the family is doing and the local news.  Depending on the time of day it's either daytime soaps, news or Jeopardy on the TV in the corner.  You also can always count on the salon being decorated to reflect the current holiday or season.  Today I had the pleasure of stopping by, sipping a cup of coffee, chatting and getting my hair done!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Teacher and Student Connections (Slice of Life Day Twenty-Four)

Today I had the really awesome experience of bring a teacher to her students even though she was at home recovering from a surgery.  Yesterday she had contacted me with the idea of using a video chat tool to be able to connect with her students.  She wanted to reassure them that she was recovering well, hear about what was going on with them and just overall check in.  We worked on getting her home computer set up with a video chat service (iChat) and scheduled a time that I would go into her classroom and we would "call" her.

You should have seen the faces light up when her face popped up on the screen and the kids realized they could see and talk to her!   And not only the students faces lit up, but hers as well!

The kids took turns asking questions about how her surgery went and what she was up to at home.  A few of the kids took the opportunity to share some tidbits about what was going on in their lives outside of school with her.  It was really interesting to see the connection between the teacher and the students and how much the opportunity to touch base meant to both sides.

Later on in the day the teacher contacted me again through video chat and shared how she wished we had thought earlier about this idea and how she may have been able to read aloud the story for the day.  How cool would that have been?!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peaceful Quiet (Slice of Life Day Twenty-Three)

Tonight was one of those rare occasions where the husband had to work tonight, there were no meetings to attend, no dinner plans with friends and no pressing housekeeping to be done.  Nick over at TheNerdyTeacher posted a "Mission Monday" blog about taking the time for educators to do something nice for themselves.  So I snapped up the opportunity to have a "Mary Night". 

I decided to turn off the cell phone ringer while I accomplished 3 things I have been wanting to do uninterrupted and in almost silence for awhile.  I felt giddy as I changed my settings from "normal" to "silent"!  I did feel a twinge of guilt at the thought of maybe missing my mother call, or an important work call, but quickly quieted that thought with "So let them leave a voicemail!"

I then proceed to complete a 30 minute session of yoga on Wii Fit Plus and focused on my desire to get better at making working out a priority for me.  I did turn the sound down to as soft as I could get it but still being able to hear the instructor.  It took a lot of work though to get my brain focused on yoga and not on other things.  I had to tell myself to be quiet!

After that I prepared my favorite thing to eat - noodles!  Nothing fancy here people, just buttered noodles with some parmesan cheese.  I did not turn on the TV or iPod.  I did not check email, Twitter or my Google Reader.  I did not make the most of my time and try to squeeze in a housekeeping chore like unloading the dishwasher.  I stood there and watched the water boil and listen to the sounds outside.

As I ate my yummy noodles I opened a new book that I have been wanting to start for a few days and started reading with a vengeance.  The silence of the house enveloped me and I got lost in the world of the story.  Little did I know but 30 minutes had passed when I noticed it getting a little bit harder to see the pages because of the lack of light in the room.

Thanks Nick for encouraging me to take time for me!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Perseverance of a Student (Slice of Life Day Twenty-Two)

Today a student was thinking with more innovation than I was and this led to some perseverance on his part and some learning on my part.  I loved every second of it!

This student had been diligently working on a project about the Titanic displaying all the knowledge he had gained through reading books and researching on the web.  He had artfully created colored text boxes, sharp looking topic headings in each box and had imported eye catching pictures of the Titanic to support his text.

But was he satisfied with his final project? No!

Was he going to settle with just these items on his final product like everyone else?  No!  

He posed the question, "Can I find a video about the Titanic and put it on my project?"  Sure! Why not!

He and I tried every which way we could think of to get a video from the web onto his Pages document.  We tried clicking and dragging like you can do with an image.  Nope, didn't work.  We tried using the embedding code.  Nope, that didn't work either.  Then we came to the thought of trying to create a live link to the video on the web.  Bingo!  That worked!

Because of this student's creativity, and his perseverance in wanting this video on his project, it pushed me to not give up on trying solutions to fulfill his wishes.  I appreciate him having patience, and maybe some faith, in me and my abilities!  It was wonderful to see his eyes light up with excitement when we got the link to work!  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grandma's Magical Quilt (Slice of Life Day Twenty-One)

I truly believe I have the best quilt in the world and it holds magical powers. My beautiful quilt was handmade by my Grandma in 1983 just for me. It has bright sunny yellow, crisp green and vibrant red colors throughout the fabric she used for my quilt. I remember when I got it and was told I could use it when I got older. It sat for years in my closet inside a pillowcase to keep it clean. I would be allowed to get it out every once in awhile to admire it, but it always returned to its pillowcase for safe-keeping. I yearned for the day that I could use the quilt for what it was intended for!

Finally, when I reached college age, it was decided I was old enough/responsible enough to use the quilt. During college it resided on my bed and then later on in life it turned into my "couch quilt". I always have it spread across my lap when I am sitting on the couch or I have it wrapped around me like a cocoon if I am laying on the couch napping or watching TV.

I know this quilt has magical powers from my Grandma. Whenever I am sad or sick the quilt makes me feel better by surrounding me with her warmth. Whenever I am exhausted it helps make me comfortable enough to sleep soundly. Being wrapped up in my quilt it is like being wrapped up in my Grandma's wonderful arms!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Family times (Slice of Life Day Twenty)

So I am sitting here surrounded by family at Cincinnati's Hofbrauhaus. We are here to celebrate my father's and brother's birthdays. It occured to me I had to get a post in to keep up with my slice of life writing challenge. My brother so kindly slid across the table his iPhone for me to use for this post. Got to love family and have to love technology!

Friday, March 19, 2010

So Proud! (Slice of Life Day Nineteen)

Today our district held it's 3rd annual Dodgeball Tournament with an elementary 5th grade bracket, a middle school bracket, a high school bracket and an adult league bracket. This was the first year for the fifth grade bracket to be included and after tonight's events I am so glad they did!

The gymnasium was packed, the crowd was loud and the games were lightening quick to watch. My school's fifth grade team was absolutely amazing to watch. They had actual skill and strategy to their games. They exhibited such teamwork and showed support and encouragement towards one another my heart swelled with pride. It was so awesome to watch because in those fifth grade boys I could see the little versions of themselves from long ago when I had them in second grade. I screamed my head off for each of their three games and now I am home drinking water trying to sooth my scratchy throat. But it was well worth it to be a part of cheering them on to the championship round where they won!!!!!!

Technology and Primary Learners

At times it seems that in primary grades teachers are hesitant to introduce or utilize technology tools with their young learners. Maybe it is because they are thinking it is too hard for the students. Maybe it is because the teacher does not feel like an expert or feel comfortable with some of the technology tools that are available. Maybe the feeling is there is so much to teach these young learners there isn't "time" to use technology.

In my experience in the past and this year I have seen a different viewpoint. I feel that primary learners are the perfect people to use technology with because their rate of learning and understanding of new concepts is exponential! They are Digital Natives and us educators are Digital Immigrants.  These students know only of the digital age and expect to interact with technology, not just be passive intakers of information. Also, these younger learners are not afraid to explore something new and figure out what it does with no fear of deleting work or messing things up. I have watched countless young children push various buttons just to see what it did.  In addition, by using technology tools students can learn academic content, practice academic content and show their understanding of academic content and isn't that what we are trying to accomplish in the first place?

Here's a video of ways a teacher in a primary grade in Canada has been tapping into technology tools.  I hope it helps others start thinking of ways they can include our primary learners in the world of technology.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Time Flies! (Slice of Life Day Eighteen)

5 years ago today my life changed forever.

I went on my first date with the amazing man who later became my husband.  That day seems so long ago sometimes, but other times it feels like it was yesterday.

I remember walking out to his car to leave on our journey and thinking how exciting it was and how nervous I was for this date.  The conversation in the car on the way to the restaurant was general getting-to-know you stuff,  but it seemed to come easy to us.  Throughout dinner the conversation continued to flow naturally and it was so comfortable to be around him.  After dinner ended we agreed to go to another establishment to check in on March Madness scores and to keep talking.  We ended up deciding to go see the movie "Hitch" with Will Smith to extend our time together.  If you have ever seen that movie you might agree it may not have been the best choice for a first date movie, but we didn't know!  When I finally was dropped off that evening I felt like I was on cloud nine and I had found someone special.

I guess my hunch was right that night as he is still by my side after 5 years!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Imagination (Slice of Life Story Day Seventeen)

I love when St. Patrick's Day rolls around in an elementary school, especially in the primary grades where imagination still runs rampant.

In one of the schools I teach in some teachers pretend that a leprechaun visits the classroom and does "silly" things like tipping chairs over, leaving books opened on desks, writing notes on whiteboards and spilling green confetti to make a mess.  The little ones go crazy for this stuff! Their imaginations go into hyper-drive and dream up things you never thought possible.  All of a sudden kids are screeching they saw the leprechaun run across the room or they hear tiny footsteps on the ceiling.  The kids end up spending part of the day trying to find and catch the leprechaun.  It's always great fun to watch!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

LOD = Learning On Demand

Currently I am taking a class offered by my school district where the focus is on using technology in the classroom.  There was a discussion about how POD stands for "play on demand".  So that got me thinking about an idea - LOD or "learning on demand".

Picture this:
Teachers and students collaborating and creating items such as documents, slideshows, videos and audio files and then posting them on a website. They then could access these resources at any point in time via the web and/or by downloading them onto a computer or iPod. A teacher could access it to share with another colleague or to reflect on a lesson. Students could access these resources to review a concept, study for an assessment or to learn content that was covered during an absence.

By creating this type of environment it would invite the concept of accessing resources to "learn on demand"!

Spring Smells and Sounds (Slice of Life Day Sixteen)

Spring Smells and Sounds

Crisp Air

Basketballs Bouncing

Squeaky Bikes

Musty Mulch

Runners Feet

Dogs Barking

Mesquite Grills

Birds Chirping

Children Laughing

Monday, March 15, 2010

Energy Zapped (Slice of Life Day Fifteen)

Do you ever have a day where it feels like someone forgot to charge your batteries the night before and then all of a sudden your battery dies?  Do you ever feel like all the energy has been drained out of your body and no amount of pop, coffee or candy is going to kick start you into gear? Do you ever feel like the pep in your step has been zapped?

I do.

Here's to having a difficult adjustment to the time change!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Irish With An Attitude (Slice of Life Story Day Fourteen)

 I had to go into school today to take care of a few things and there was a huge surprise waiting for me on my desk.  I had actually won for the first time ever a basket in the theme basket raffle that was held during Springtacular (school's spring carnival)!!  The theme basket I won was "Irish With An Attitude", which is how I think some people might describe me!

It is filled with all sorts of goodies.  I scored a gift card to Jeni's Ice Cream which makes such delicacies as Salty Caramel Ice Cream.  I got a few more gift cards to different restaurants and speciality shops in my hometown.  Also in the basket were a t-shirt and umbrella baring the "Irish Is An Attitude" logo.  There was a beautiful shamrock lanyard which was awesome because I was thinking about buying a lanyard this week.  There is a great wall hanging I am thinking of using to decorate our downstairs bathroom with since it is bare right now!  

One of the neatest things in this basket was a traditional Irish worry stone.  It is made of connemara marble which is a green marble found in West Ireland.  It is crafted to usually be round with a slight indentation in the middle for you to rub your thumb on.  Legend is that by rubbing a piece of connemara marble you will relieve your worries and bring good luck.  There is a saying that goes with the worry stone:

There are only two things to worry about: either you are well or you are sick. If you are well, then there is nothing to worry about, but if you are sick there are two things for you to worry about: either you get well or you will die. If you get well, then there is nothing to worry about. If you die, then there are two things to worry about: either you go up or you go down. If you go up, then there is nothing to worry about. But if you go down, you will be so busy shaking hands with old friends you won't have time to worry.

Here's a snapshot of the basket before my husband tore into it to find out all the goodies I had won:

Here's a picture of the shamrock lanyard and Irish Worry Stone:

3 days and counting until St. Patrick's Day!

Shrieks and Squeals of Excitement

Friday afternoon I had the craziest, funniest hour ever with a bunch of first graders.  They came bounding into the computer lab with such energy I was taken aback for a moment.  I need to let you in on a few things about what I believe led to this buzz of excitement.  It was the day of our school's Springtacular (spring carnival) and at lunch there was a tootsie roll raffle where they kids buy tootsie rolls by the handful to try and win a prize.  So these kids were hyped up on sugar and overflowing with bottled up anxiousness for the evening event. was their first time coming to the computer lab.

We started off by learning how to log onto the computer using their student account information.  Boring stuff, but necessary.  Then we got to the good part.  Exploring!  The students and I discussed what it meant to explore.  "Try it out" and "Find new things" were some of their answers.  So I set them loose to explore the application we were working with, Pixie.

You should have heard their shrieks and squeals when they discovered what different buttons could do!  You would hear someone scream "Oh Wow Cool!" and then about 5 kids would jump out of their seats and race over to the kid that shouted it out to see what they had discovered.  Then those 5 kids would speed back to their computer and try to recreate what they had seen.  This level of screeching, cheering and running around went on for about 20 minutes.  Then I gave the students an opportunity to share with everyone what they have uncovered during their exploration time.

This is what I love about my job.  Students excitement about using technology!  Yes, it got loud.  VERY LOUD!  But, I didn't mind because I knew it was because they were engaged in what we were doing!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dreaming of Housekeeping Magic (Slice of Life Story Day Thirteen)

I sit here in my house looking around at what all needs to be done and thinking to myself "How in the world does this always seem to pile up?"  Cluttered kitchen countertops with piles of mail, magazines and other random items.  Laundry that needs washed, dried, folded and put away.  Carpets that need vacuumed and floors that need swept and mopped.  And the list goes on.....

Sometimes my mind starts churning at the thought of magic housekeeping helpers that could help make all my dreams come true.  Here are the key characters that keep popping up in my head:

Dish Fairy:  She appears each night in my kitchen to clean up the remnants of the day and put all dishes, left out containers and pots and pans away squeaky clean.

Gain Laundry Detergent Lady (from commercial):  She appears once a week to take care of all our laundry needs from start to finish. 

Mr. Clean (from commercial):  He arrives once a week to take care of sweeping floors, mopping floors, and scrubbing bathrooms to a sparkly finish.

Rachel Ray or Ina Garten or Guy Fieri (Food Network Stars):  Honestly, I think they would have to live with us to keep up with the duties I dream up for them.  Or I guess they could alternate in some way.  They would cheerily shop for and make us all our meals and serve them up with gusto!

Doby (from Harry Potter):  Now I don't want to "own" him but I really like the idea of having someone pick up the house and keep it in order.  I would like for him to live with us as well!

Isn't it so nice to dream?!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Past Comes Back (Slice of Life Story Day Twelve)

This evening was our school's annual Spingtacular (think Spring Carnival) and as always this event never ceases to amaze on so many levels.  I am fortunate to work in a building that has a wonderful PTO who organizes this event.  It is the PTO's biggest fundraiser because of the MASSIVE turnout it has due to the great support of our families.

It's great to be at this event and see current students with their families enjoying quality time together.  Interacting with them outside the school day is a wonderful way to connect with a student and see a different side of them.  But this isn't my favorite part of Springtacular...

I love visiting with the students that come back after having left our school for middle school to attend this event!  When they walk up to me with a huge grin and a "Hey Mrs. B!" it fills me with happiness to see who they have become.  They share with me how school is going, what extracurricular activities they are involved in, how their families are and their favorite memories of our year together.   It lets me know that I played a part in their development and that they knew I cared for them as a student.

So when this time of year rolls around I am always excited to attend Springtacular and reconnect with my past students!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coffee Fail (Slice of Life Story Day Eleven)

Every morning I wake up and think of that beautiful first cup of coffee in the morning.  My coffee pot is pretty sweet because it has the function where you can set it the night before and schedule what time you want it to start brewing in the morning for you so when you walk to the coffee pot in the morning it's sitting there waiting for you like a warm, comfy blanket.

So this morning I walk into the kitchen almost tasting the first sip upon my lips when I see the empty coffee pot before me.  Apparently I had put new grounds in the night before but totally forgot the step of adding water into the reservoir.  Disappointment washed over me.

Coffee Fail!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Melody Can Bring Back A Memory (Slice of Life Story Day Ten)

There's a country song by Clint Black titled "State of Mind" that has a beautiful phrase in it.

"Ain't it funny how a melody can bring back a memory
Take you to another place in time
Completely change your state of mind"

I believe this to be so very true because if I hear certain songs it is as if I am transported back in time through some sort of machine and I experience a moment all over again.

"God Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts takes me to the moment where I stepped into my husband's arms for our first dance on our wedding day.

"Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba transforms me to my freshman year of college.  I feel as if I am standing on the front porch of my sorority house for the first time meeting my sorority sisters.

"Midnight Train to Georgia" covered by the Indigo Girls puts me in the car with my best friend Sam when we drove hours together to go see our friend Mary Ellen.

And......I can't believe I am going to say this......

"Hangin Tough" by New Kids on the Block makes me feel like a kid again fascinated with my first boy band.

What melodies trigger memories for you?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Interactive Timelines via Keynote

In history books across our world students have learned information through viewing timelines printed on the pages.  Students have passively read the information moving from left to right and taking in all the facts laid out for them.  Not any longer!  4th grade students have been taking their knowledge of Ohio history events and turning them into an interactive timeline!

Students first created a slide with a traditional looking timeline of events from Ohio's history.  Then they created hyperlinks on that timeline that link to additional slides describing each event in detail with a visual support of that event.  By doing this students have created an interactive timeline that viewers can pick and choose which events they want to click on and learn more about.

Through creating an Ohio history interactive timeline students utilized many skills simultaneously.  They needed to access their knowledge of Ohio history events and their details in order to create the slides depicting the individual events.  Students needed to show their understanding of intervals on a timeline accurately on the initial slide with their timeline.  Also, students worked on using a slideshow format to demonstrate their understanding Ohio history events.   This was a great way to integrate many skills together!

Slow Motion Noooooooo! (Slice of Life Story Day Nine)

So this morning I was quickly trying to do four things at once: drink the first cup of coffee of the day, eat breakfast, prep slow cooker dinner and make my lunch.  I should have known better than to try to juggle it all at the same time rather than do one thing at a time at that hour of the day!

The kitchen island countertop was cluttered with all the items I was trying to use at the same time.  Pork chops, cream of mushroom soup, coffee mug, bowl of oatmeal, lunch meat and the new jar of mayonnaise which would soon become my enemy of the day.

We all know that a new jar of mayonnaise is sealed for freshness and protection from other elements getting in.  We all know that at times that seal is sealed TIGHT and it seems like it would take an army to get the seal off.  This particular jar's seal over the opening of the jar must have been superglued to the rim for the broken nail I earned while trying to peel it off.  The next step was to get a knife and puncture the top to create a way in.  So I put my fingers in and starting to lift the paper seal off.  Then my fingers slipped and the paper started to snap back.

In slow motion this is what my eyes saw -
A huge white blob of mayonnaise leave the surface of the paper seal and start traveling towards my clean, cute brown sweater through the air.

In slow motion this is what my mind thought -

Sure enough it landed right smack in the middle of my sweater.  No worries, I wiped it off and all was well.

I guess I should have had the cup of coffee BEFORE trying to tackle everything at the same time!

Monday, March 8, 2010

In The Neighborhood (Slice of Life Story Day Eight)

With the sun finally shining on us my husband and I took the advantage to get outside and take a walk.  This wasn't any walk though.  It was our first walk in our new neighborhood!  We moved into our first house the last weekend of November and since then the weather hasn't been fit for walking outside.  I couldn't help but think of Mister Roger's song as we stepped out for our walk.

We noticed some things on our walk that could be called "uncovered treasures" popping up from beneath the melting snow.  It was kind of funny to see random things lying around waiting to be discovered by the proper owners that have been covered for a long time under that thick blanket of snow.

Here's a taste of what we saw:
1.  Holiday decorations on lawns
2.  School project about Sharks
3.  Skateboard
4.  Upside down recycling bin (with lots of snow still around it so we now it was not newly placed there)
5.  a few beverage cans

So check your lawns people and see if there is anything out there waiting for you to discover after the snow has melted!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Up Wins- Hooray! (Slice of Life Story Day Seven)

Tonight while watching the Annual Academy Awards I was very excited to watch Up win the Animated Feature Film Oscar!  I absolutely loved this movie and all of the great lessons it brought with it.  I have to admit I cried several times throughout this movie because of sadness and joy.  

The lesson of grieving after losing a loved one:  I could feel the sense of loss Carl felt when his wife, Ellie, passed on.  I wept openly for his feeling of loneliness that followed.  My heart felt pain for him when he "closed himself off" to others for awhile.  

The lesson of going on adventures:  From Carl and Ellie's adventures to the big adventure Carl and Russell go on through the movie, I appreciated the message to try new things even if they made you push your comfort level.  Carl always seemed a little hesitant at first in these adventures but in the end enjoyed himself. 

The lesson of friendship can span across ages:  I enjoyed how the story brought Carl and Russell together as friends even though the difference in their age.  I think young people can gain a lot from a friendship with an older person.  They can learn from them, and also have them as someone to turn to for support.  I also believe that older people benefit from a friendship with a young person.  They enjoy sharing their stories with others and also it helps keep them "young at heart".   

Kuddos to you, Up, for capturing all of these great lessons for young and old to hear!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What did you just say?! (Slice of Life Story Day Six)

I really debated about sharing this moment but felt it was something many women (and maybe men) could relate to.

So yesterday morning I felt like a kid again being with my mom and brother.  Well, by mid-afternoon that feeling drastically changed.  I felt old.  I am talking tired, frumpy old.

Here's what happened.  I was laying around the house being lazy and so was my husband.  I could feel him staring at me so I inquired what the staring was all about.  And in the most gracious, gentle voice came the terrifying words, "All your gray hairs."


Now, the way he said was incredibly as sweet as could be.  I was in no way mad at him for speaking the awful truth.  Also, I know about these pesky, gray hairs.  I have noticed them tremendously multiple over this year as if they were horrible weeds in a beautiful garden. But it did make me stop for a moment and think.  Do I run to the nearest drugstore, buy a coloring kit and fix this?  Or, do I graciously let my gray go and hope that it looks dignified?

The jury is still out on this one....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Like A Kid Again (Slice of Life Story Day Five)

Yesterday my brother had corrective eye surgery so I volunteered to spend time with him today to try and entertain him.  We agreed that we would start the day off with breakfast together.  When I arrived to pick him up he let me know he had called our mother and invited her along for breakfast too.  It would be the first time in a VERY long time (at least that I can remember) that it was just us kids and mom.  No husband, no wife, no Dad and no tag-along friends.  I was excited at the thought!

When we all arrived at the cafe we picked it was as if my brother and I slipped right back into childhood.  Mom asking a million questions so she could know what was going on in our lives.  My brother and I picking on one another one minute and laughing together the next. The food was yummy.  The coffee was excellent.  The conversation was great.  And the feeling of love for one another and the gift of time together was immense!

What a great way to start off a 3 day weekend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Welcome back old friend! (Slice of Life Story Day Four)

At the end of the day as I walked towards the door I could see a glimpse of the outside.  Were my eyes deceiving me? Was it true?

There it was......THE SUN!!!!

I opened the door and stepped into the sunshine.  I stopped for a moment on the sidewalk and basked in the glory of the almighty star.  It felt so warm on my face and in my head I thought, "Welcome back old friend!  Thank you for finally coming back!"  I could feel the big, huge smile stretch across my face! 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Cry of Help! (Slice of Life Story Day Three)

The other day I was bustling about a second grade classroom assisting them in finishing up their Keynote presentations on a famous American they had chosen to research about.  In this classroom there happens to be one particular student, let's call him H, that is very tech savvy for his age.  H was sitting on one side of the room zapping along swimmingly on his slideshow.  I was on the other side of the room working with another student.

Below is the conversation that transpired between H and I across the room.

H:  Mrs. B!

Me:  Yes H?  What's up?

H:  I deleted it!!!!  Help!!

Me:  What did you delete?

H:  The picture.  You know?  The box that we put the picture in?  (In second grade words this means the picture placeholder)

Me:  It's ok!  Just click on the picture you want from your picture folder and drag it anywhere on the white space.  Then you can move it around and change the size if you want.

H:  ......... (silence, picture an adorable, little boy staring at you with a very blank look)

Me:  H?  Do you understand what I am saying?

H: are...talking about!  (imagine big dramatic pauses in between the words)

Me (trying not to laugh at the dramatics):  It's ok!  I am on my way over to you H!

Lesson to all:  You might think they are tech savvy.  You might think they will know what you mean.  Be prepared for that blank look and the cry of "Help"!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Team Work Makes the Dream Work (Slice of Life Story Day 2)

"Team Work Makes the Dream Work!" my husband jokingly said the other night while we were watching TV.  On the show we were watching there was a sign hanging in the background that promoted teamwork.  I laughed out loud at the saying as I honestly have never heard it before.

But isn't it true?  Doesn't teamwork make the dream work?

I believe so!  Every day there is a team of people that work together to make learning happen in our schools.   From teachers to administrators, bus drivers to custodians and parents to students it takes a community working together for learning to occur.

I, for one, would be lost without my team supporting me!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Undercover Education Administrator

Over the past few weeks I have been watching Undercover Boss on CBS with great interest.  The concept of the show is that top CEOs of major corporations go "undercover" in their companies to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day operations and how they can improve their companies overall.  I was skeptical at first at the thought of this concept.  Would the CEOs really notice anything, own up to problems in their companies or make significant changes?

Not only did these CEOs complete their "undercover" tasks, but they all stepped up to the plate to address what they witnessed and experienced.  All of them have made adjustments to the operations of the companies and most of them have added programs/ opportunities for employees to benefit from.

So this got me thinking......what about the idea of Undercover Education Administrator?  I know, the title doesn't sound as smooth.  But, the concept is an interesting idea.  I wonder what administrators would see, or become aware of, that they wouldn't normally in their role.

Just a thought.....

Day 1 of Slice Of Life Challenge

Some of you may have heard about the fabulous Slice of Life month long writing challenge that has been put forth by two amazing teachers over at Two Writing Teachers.  I encourage you to jump on board and give it a try like I am!

Day 1 of Slice of Life Challenge

I woke up this morning feeling a little sad that I was back from a trip to visit my Grandma.  It was great to see her, spend time with her and help my family out also.  But, it was difficult in the same breath.  My Grandma suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and talking with her gets harder and harder for me and more frustrating for her.  The wonderful thing though is that so far (knock on wood) she's retaining memories from long ago.  So when we visit we usually fall back on those beloved, treasured moments she does remember.

One of my fondest memories of visiting my Grandma when I was little was when we got to go to Eat N Park for dinner.  At the end of the meal I would be allowed to get the FAMOUS Smiley Cookie. I'm talking amazing stuff here people!  Of course, I would always ask for the purple icing because purple is my favorite color.

On this most recent trip I wanted to honor this memory and have something that could bring this memory to the forefront of my mind.  I bought a  Smiley Face Cookie travel mug.  So after waking up a little sad I poured the happy nectar of coffee into my travel mug and a smile stretched across my face of those happy memories of times with Grandma.