Monday, July 29, 2013

UnPublished Posts of the Past:Over My Head? Self-Doubt About My Latest Endeavor

Oh, Christine McVie, how you taunt me.

Ever since the 4th of July I have been periodically hearing her singing "Over My Head" in the  back of my mind.  While I have been a Fleetwood Mac fan since I discovered the 'white album' in 1975, I am finding this repetition somewhat annoying. Over the past few days, it has played with increasing frequency and intensity.

Call it nerves.  Here we are two weeks from the starting date for teachers, and I am nowhere near ready.  My summer reading goals were a complete failure; the lesson plans I had hoped to have completed by now are only partially done. I have been to the farm once --ONCE--this summer.

But I have been very busy, replacing my original goals with more spontaneous responses to professional development.  I have, somewhat accidentally, created and am moderating a Google+ Community to support candidates seeking National Board Teaching Certification in Library Media. This community will replace the Yahoo Group that so many library media specialists, including me, used to help achieve certification. Nationally. Oh, my word, what was I thinking!

My role in this group is accidental, in that I was did not start out with the intention of creating and moderating a group.  In response to the news that the Yahoo group would close due to the retirement of the Cynthia Wilson, the group owner/moderator, many people expressed interest in maintaining the group in some form.  On July 7 I suggested that this might be the time to move the group to another, more evolved forum.  Janet Clark suggested Google Hangouts, and while investigating that possibility, I discovered Google+ Communities.  I created a community called "Library NBCT Support" and referred it to the Yahoo group for comment.  By July 8 we had 17 members and Cynthia's blessing to move the files to our new community.  We are now up and running with 48 members and ready to help support new library NBCT candidates this coming school year.

I am thankful, very thankful, to the three people who have jumped in and contributed knowledge to this community: Kim Gunter from Florence, MS; Michael Brocato of Jefferson Parish, LA; and Missy Hinerman of Bridgeport, WV. These three epitomize the sharing that is trademark of the library profession. Without their input, this community would be nowhere near ready.  Of course, the creators and contributors to the Yahoo group- Cynthia Wilson, AnnMarie Pipkin and many more- deserve countless thanks for developing this vision of mentorship since it's inception in 2001.

I guess as I am writing this, the self-doubt is melting, knowing that this endeavor is supported by many NBCT library media specialists.  As Janet Clark said to me in one of our initial emails, "people will help, and we will learn together."  This is a true example of collaboration and mentorship.  I am looking forward to our first year.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Parent's Wishes for His Child's Teachers: Chris Kennedy at TEDxWestVan...

This is a wonderful TEDxTalk by a man in the unique position as a parent and a superintendent of schools. I hope you enjoy his insights.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Am NOT Achieving My Goals

I ran into a former student and her mother at the store yesterday.  It was very nice to see them and catch up.  When I asked Kristen how her first year of college went, she sheepishly hung her head and confessed that she had not done as well as she had wanted.

I assured that transitioning to college was an adjustment and that it was not unusual to have a less than stellar start.  

Then her mother said, "Ask her what she means by not doing as well as she had hoped!"  I looked at Kristen.

"I only had a 3.4," she admitted.  

"A 3.4!  That's nothing to be ashamed of!"  I told her.  I continued saying that there was more to life than studying and that she should, in essence, stop and smell the roses.

Later that evening I realized that the same advice applied to me.  

I began my summer vacation with a wild list of plans.  For starters, here is the list of resources I wanted to read and annotate:
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness [Kindle Edition]

Breaking Free [Kindle Edition]

Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life [Kindle Edition]

Cyber literacy : evaluating the reliability of data
Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs [Paperback] [2009] American Library Association.

The End Games [Kindle Edition]

Facebook House: Insider Tales of Mark Zuckerberg and His Empire's Tumultuous First Days

Goal Sticking: How to Go Beyond Goal Setting and Get on the Road to Success (Goal Sticking Series) [Kindle Edition]

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)[Kindle Edition]

The Myth of the Garage[Kindle Edition]

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty [Kindle Edition]

The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future
Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (P.S.) [Kindle Edition]

Using Common Core Standards to Enhance Classroom Instruction & Assessment [Kindle Edition]
So far, I am on Empowering Learners.  

Next, consider my lesson planning goals:  By now I should have completed 10 lesson plans for kindergarten and first grades, and five for second grade.  So far: 10 for kindergarten and six for first.

According to my Google Tasks list, by the time the weekend is over I should have:
Nolan is quite a charmer.

  • displayed my Big6 posters
  • laminated construction paper for my Reading Counts markers
  • ordered digital duplicator supplies for the beginning of the school year
So why am I so far behind?  One word: Nolan.  Nolan is my adorable almost 10 week old grandson.  He is taking a lot of my time.  And I am taking my one advice and enjoying this.  On the rest, I will do what I can!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Why the New Header?

I recently changed the header photo on my blog from the stock photo of a beautiful beach to a photo I had taken at my farm circa 1980.  I think the change reflects how I have grown (and aged) over the last few years since this blog began.

When the picture was taken, I did not technically own the farm.  It was part of the estate my great-grandmother (Ida Knost Burgy) left to my grandmother (Cora Burgy Westbrook) and her siblings.  My grandmother died in 1957, passing her interest to my grandfather (Thomas Harry Westbrook), who in turn bequeathed his interest in the property to my father (Harry Clifton Westbrook) and uncle (Darrell Lynn Westbrook).  My grandmother's brother (Noah Burgy) passed in 1970, leaving his 1/3 interest with my grandmother's remaining sibling (Marie Burgy Matheny).  When Aunt Marie passed in 2002, my husband and I bought the interest from both Aunt Marie's and Uncle Darrell's heirs.

None of the names listed above are important to the reader.  To me, however, they are important in preserving a piece of the past as a wheelhouse to which I can return and center myself.  While the beach captured my imagination as a child and young adult, it left little for me to hold onto, aside from memories of vacations past.  The beach is wild and every changing.  My writing, planning and thinking when I was there was fanciful and based on dreams with no real foundation. The farm is solid and slow to change.  It is a place of peace and solitude.  I do my best writing, planning and reflecting there, seeded on the solid experiences of the past and nurtured by the thoughtful contemplation of the writings of others.

One of the most important admissions of learning is realizing that in the total scheme of things, one knows nothing.  In my beach days, I knew everything.  Today, in my farm days, I realize how little I know.  Today, I am much more receptive to the thoughts and experiences of others.

Ironically, none of the man-made items in this photo remain.  The house was consumed by fire in 1997.  The barn fell down years ago, and the garage and the smokehouse were demolished soon after we bought the property.  My first car, a 1971 Plymouth Valiant (aka Prince) expired in 1982, and my dogs, Tiny and Mabeline, died in the mid-80s.  

I still dream of all of these, the house and my dogs, the smokehouse and barn. I still maintain that Prince was a more rugged and maneuverable vehicle than most four-wheel drive trucks.  These are parts of my past that cannot (I hope and pray) be erased by time.

What keeps me focused is what remains: my husband (barely visible on the porch) and the land itself. Like  my reading, writing and reflecting on my practice as a teacher and a school library media specialist, they require commitment and nurturing, time and care.

That is fine by me.

A Backwards Review of the 100 Most Influential Education Blogs

On June 18 Onalytica released its six-month ranking of the 100 most influential education blogs. According to the post the 'influence factor' measures the impact of a blog, popularity measures how well the blog is know by other education bloggers. and over-influence is a measurement of how influential a blog is beyond its popularity. All of this is based on the number and quality of citations a blog receives.

Needless to say, I am unfamiliar with most of these blogs. During the next several weeks I will look at all the blogs in reverse order.  I want to see what I am missing!

If Michael Kaechele's blog is number 100, I can't wait to get to the top of the list.  In reviewing three month's worth of blogs I have uncovered many gems. For starters, following a link of the blog I found Sanderling, a mobile professional development site still currently in beta.  I am excited about the promise of this site, which will allow teachers to track their self-designed professional development.  It wpuld be more than wonderful if districts buy in to this concept and at least recognize the self-directed efforts of their employees.  Equally interesting was an overview of his school's professional development conference that brought in nationally prominent speakers.  I would love to see my district sponsor a conference like this!
It seems the blog is updated about once a week.  Consider me a subscriber!

Patrick Larkin is the Assistant Superintendent for Learning in the Burlington (MA) Public Schools.  Among other distinctions he serves as Senior Associate for EdTech Teacher.  

Judging from the content I viewed from early May, Larkin reposts and analyzes posts from other bloggers regularly.  This is great, because it initiates a conversation, analyzing the viewpoints of the writers from his own perspectives.  So far I can tell that he is quite aware and involved with teachers and students in his district.  I am impressed that he, an administrator, takes the time to write this blog.  Staying tuned. 

98. The Fischbowl

Karl Fisch, a math instructor/technology specialist from Colorado has been blogging for many years.  His writings often involve mathematics, understandably, but also address education as a whole.  In one post I read he  commented that he did not know whether to encourage or discourage a student who aspired to be a teacher. In another he described the curriculum map he had written to address Algebra I in the Common Core.  

In 2006 Fisch created the Did You Know/Shift Happens slideshow that most of us have seen at faculty meetings and professional development sessions.  The presentation that was originally used at one of his staff meetings went viral and has now been translated and adapted numerous times.

I think Fisch should be followed because of his reputation as a leader and because of his awesome, extensive Diigo bookmarks that he calls Karl Fisch's Public Library.  As I was reviewing the list I was caught up in links and spent at least an hour digressing from this post.  It was heaven.

97.  edcetera

According to the site's description "We blog about education trends and technology for everyone on the college campus, including administrators, educators and campus bookstore managers. Come for the most recent findings in higher ed, stay for the insight and expert analysis."

My immediate reaction was that this was not likely to be relevant to me, and I maintain that opinion.  With so many quality options to follow, reading this blog is not the best use of my time.  I can see some benefit of following this blog if one is a high school educator.  I saw some great links that my CTE friends might find interesting. There are many tools and ideas here that can be adapted and used at the secondary level.  

96.  Bud the Teacher

The subtitle of this blog is Inquiring and Reflection for Better Learning.  The first post I viewed was titled "What Socrates Would Call Wisdom."  Without going into further depth, I was hooked.

Bud Hunt has an impressive resume as an educator.  He left the language arts classroom six years ago to become the technology director in his Colorado school district.  He writes about classroom and personal life experiences and how they relate to education as a whole.  His beautifully written blog is reflective, inspiring and rooted in improving students' learning experiences.  

I am a new subscriber.

Moldovan, Andreea. "What Has Changed in the Top 100 Influential Education Blogs Ranking?" Blog. Onalytica, Ltd., 18 June 2013. Web. 27 June 2013. .