I’m Still Here

I realize I haven’t posted anything to my blog this weekend.  I basically wanted to just pull the covers over my head this morning and stay in bed all day.  Of course, this is not what I did.  However, I did take the opportunity to sleep in this morning.  I even started reading my book club book.  I wanted to go for a run, but my strained hamstring is still bugging me.  My hamstring is feeling better, but it is still sore.  Running is out of the question for a while.

I know why I am feeling tired today.  Yesterday I had class for my administrative credential.  After class, I had a meeting to discuss my presentation on March 1st for the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) Spring Conference.  When I got home, I had some homework to complete and then, the rest of the evening was devoted to organizing my notes and my Power Point presentation for the conference.  At one point during the evening, I decided I just needed to save my work and turn off the computer.  I decided to pour myself a glass of wine and enjoy the coverage of the Winter Olympics.

I needed to take a break.  I needed a moment to shut my brain off.  Unfortunately, that meant taking a break from writing on my blog.  I did write, but it was for other reasons.  I am glad it is Sunday.  It’s the start of a new week.  Time to start all over.  Time for new ideas.  Time to get moving again.

Digital Learning Day 2014

Happy Digital Learning Day 2014!  Today I celebrated with my 2nd grade students.  For National Day on Writing, I had discussed the idea of upstanders and bystanders with my students.  We wrote about it, and I had mentioned this in one of my previous blogs.  I believe I even tweeted something out on Twitter a while back.  That’s when I heard from Jayne Marlink (@JMarlinkCWP), Executive Director of the California Writing Project.  She mentioned that one of the components of Digital Learning Day was going to be “Upstanders, Not Bystanders:  A Digital Call To Write and Call to Action.”  I loved this idea because I could connect it back to what my students did for National Day on Writing.

I was excited to participate in Digital Learning Day, but the closer it got, the more I realized it was going to be harder than I thought.  I do not have technology in my classroom where every kid could have access to it.  Many schools have iPad carts or have instituted a Bring Your Own Device policy.  However, my school did not have any of those things in place.  We have one computer in each classroom, a computer lab, and a mini-lab in each building that consists of 12 computers.  These computers are in a common area in the building we call a mall.  The computers in this mini-lab have to be shared between eight classrooms.  My school is also in the middle of MAPS testing, so the computer lab was closed so classes could take the test.  It was a dilemma, how was I going to give my students the chance to get their hands on technology during Digital Learning Day?

I woke up this morning and realized that I had reserved six of the mall computers for small group activity.  I usually meet with small reading groups and have students work independently in centers.  The computers make up one of my center activities on Wednesdays.  I decided I would read the book, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell.  It is a fun story about a young girl who doesn’t let a bully get her down.  She even gets the bully to be a friend by just being herself.

Molly

After reading the book, I had my students write in their journal about the importance of being an upstander.  Then, they wrote a promise about how they would be an upstander themselves.  As students finished writing, they were able to go to the mall computers and type what they wrote on their blog to share with others.  Since I only had six computers available, I had the other students draw posters encouraging others to be upstanders while they were waiting for a computer to open up.  Here are a few of my favorite posters.

upstander1

upstander3

upstander2

It worked pretty well.  In fact, the 4th grade teacher across the mall commented on how quietly my students were working.  We were having a fun time while we were doing our work.  I got to walk around and take pictures of my students drawing and blogging.

blog

The best thing is that I learned something new on Digital Learning Day.  I downloaded the app Animoto on my iPad and learned how to make short videos.  I was able to share the videos of my students participating in Digital Learning Day.

I was pretty proud of myself.  I figured out a way for this day to work even though I do not have access to a lot of technology.  I was able to make do with what I have.  I was happy to be a participant in this day of digital learning and not be a bystander.  I think my students had a wonderful time, and I did, too.

#Nerdlution Challenge Update

I just realized this is Day 26 of my 50 day #nerdlution challenge.  That means I am more than halfway through with this challenge.  I started the challenge back on December 2nd.  I decided I would post something to my blog every day for 50 days straight.  So far I have been on track.  It has been a challenge.  Some days I do not know what to write about.  I will sit in front of my computer and realize I hadn’t done anything interesting.  I just went back and read my previous posts.  I am amazed that I have been able to keep up with this challenge for 26 days now.  I think part of the reason I am successful is that I am on vacation right now.  I can sit down at the computer whenever I want and write.  This might be more difficult to do when school starts up again.  However, I am really going to give it my best effort to complete this challenge.  I mean, if I could keep up with my blog while I was at Disneyland, I am pretty sure I can continue posting after school starts again.  Right?

I am also wondering how other folks are doing with their #nerdlution challenges.  When the challenge first began, I saw a lot of tweets on Twitter.  People were sharing what they would be doing for the 50 days.  I wonder if they were able to keep it up.  I wonder how people are feeling now that we are more than halfway through.  I am going to have to do some investigating with this.

All I know is that I am pretty proud of myself for trying to stick with it.  I wonder what will happen after the 50 days are up.  I believe the end of the challenge is on January 20th.  I remember reading somewhere that it takes about 3 weeks for a behavior to become a habit.  I would say that I am definitely over that 3 week window.  I hope I will just keep on writing even after I am done with the challenge.  Or, maybe I will just have to come up with a new one for myself.

SDAWP Reunion

This morning, my SDAWP (San Diego Area Writing Project) cohort had a reunion since finishing up our Summer Institute back in July.  It was great to see everyone again and to catch up with each other’s lives.  Then, the real work began.  Our opening writing prompt asked us to tell how the Summer Institute impacted our pedagogy and/or us personally.  I realized that going through SI has connected me to other educators, authors, etc. through social media.  I mentioned in my writing that I would have never ventured into the world of Twitter or the blogosphere if it weren’t for my involvement with the SI.  I realized that I do not need to be isolated within the confines of my classroom walls.  I can learn about what other people are doing in theirs, and I can share what I am doing in mine.  Kim Douillard, director of SDAWP, helped me realize that my tweets and blogs are not only read by the few followers I have, but they go beyond.  People who like what they read can retweet to their followers and so on and so on.  One of the reasons why I did not want to even participate in social media is because I thought I had nothing valuable to say or offer.  I always felt no one else would want to know about my learnings or observations, but that is not true.  I have learned that something I do can inspire someone else.

The second way that SI has affected me is that I realize I have leadership potential.  I have a new-found confidence.  As a result of my learnings, I decided to go for my administrative credential.  The SI challenged me to think about how I can affect change.  What can I do to change the world?  That to me is exciting.

Interestingly enough, the last part of our morning was spent on talking about leadership.  What does it mean to be a leader?  Can anyone be one?  How important is good leadership?  We had awesome discussions in small groups and whole group.

I really enjoyed the morning.  It was just what I needed to focus me on my goals.  It has allowed me to rethink what I am doing in the classroom.  It has reminded me that it is okay to take risks.  Be fearless and not fearful.  It was just the kick in the pants that I needed to get me going again.  I feel motivated and energized.  Thanks SDAWP!

SDAWP Fall Conference 2013

This morning I spent a wonderful morning at University of California San Diego (UCSD) attending the San Diego Area Writing Project’s (SDAWP) Fall Conference.  I was able to attend 2 amazing workshops, but the best part about the morning was going through it with my friends.  Four of my colleagues from work were able to attend this morning’s conference as well.  I am so fortunate to have people at work that I can share ideas with.  We can talk about how we are using the new information we learned with each other.  It’s nice to have others around you who “get” it.

The other thing that I enjoyed from this morning (besides the workshops) was seeing my SDAWP friends from the Summer Institute.  I was able to reconnect with friends I made and ask them how their school year was going so far.  It was like a reunion and there were many hugs given during the continental breakfast before the workshop began.  In a few months we will be getting together again to plan the SDAWP Spring Conference.  I am sure it will be a lot of hard work, but I know we will also have fun because we get to work with each other once again.

As far as the workshops went, I attended a workshop lead by Aja Booker, teacher from San Diego Global Vision Academies Middle School.  Her workshop was called Writing Strategies to Support Complex Text.  Wow.  I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation.  Aja gave us strategies we could use in our classrooms tomorrow.  The strategies she shared will help students gain a deeper understanding of challenging and difficult text.  Even though the presentation was geared towards 3rd-8th grade, I believe I can adapt what she shared to meet my needs in 2nd grade.

I also attended a workshop given by fellow blogger, Barb Montfort (Wear the Cape).  Yes, I finally got to meet her in person!  I have been following her blog, so it was nice to talk to her in the flesh.  Her workshop was entitled Embracing Uncertainty:  Exploring Digital Tools for Digital Writing Purposes.  As educators we would not wait to teach literacy.  Therefore, we should not wait to teach digital literacy either.  I learned something about mindset from Barb.  There are two kinds of mindsets-fixed and growth.  When you are of a fixed mindset, you avoid challenges and give up easily when faced with a problem.  You find reasons why something cannot be accomplished and you ignore useful negative feedback.  On the other hand, people with a growth mindset embrace challenges, persevere, look for people who can support them, and listen harder.  I realize I want to be of a growth mindset.  Barb encouraged everyone to embrace technology, especially when it comes to digital writing.  I, myself, would have never considered getting a Twitter account or even starting a blog.  But, here I am.  Thanks to SDAWP Summer Institute.  Here is a picture of my friend embracing Twitter.

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If you are still wondering if you should get a Twitter account, here is an informative article written by Kim Douillard, director of SDAWP, entitled Why Not Try Twitter?

It was an eventful morning.  It reminds me of what I need to do next in my classroom with writing.  Once again, I am energized.  I cannot wait for the Spring Conference!

You Have To Start Somewhere

I am new to the world of blogging.  I have read other people’s blogs and decided to write one of my own.  I have no idea how often I will write, but if I know this blog is hanging over me, it will give me a reason to write often.

I am a 2nd grade teacher, and this summer I became a San Diego Area Writing Project fellow.  During this invitational summer institute, participants were encouraged to write daily.  I enjoyed discovering the possibilities through writing since I did not see myself as a writer before the institute.  When the summer institute was over I vowed to continue the routine of writing daily.  The institute ended  almost four weeks ago, and sadly, I have only written in my journal two times.

Another thing SDAWP fellows were encouraged to do was to sign up for social sharing sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram .  I decided to join Twitter and Instagram.  I started participating in the “Photo A Day” challenge started by the director of  SDAWP.  This challenge is something I have enjoyed doing and have been able to post consistently.  The photo challenge this week was on #curves.  So, when they presented a new challenge I thought it would probably be best to start a blog.  That way I could write down many of my thoughts and ideas.  The new challenge will be about mentor texts and how we use them in our classroom.

Here I am now.  A newbie in the blogging world.  But, I had to start somewhere.  I think the hardest part so far was trying to think of a title for my blog!  I had different titles to start, but this one stuck.  Pink is my favorite color and the term tickle me pink means to be very pleased.  I hope that people who visit are somehow pleased and entertained by what I have posted.  And, I in turn will be pleased for having done so.