Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Fountain of Youth?

Image from www.traveljournals.net

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit with a student teacher located over 2 1/2 hours from campus. The drive was not the fun part, although it was exciting to view fall harvest from the windows of the Escape. No, the fun occurred while witnessing this early career teacher interacting with her administrator, cooperating teachers, and students. She is doing an incredible job there already and it is only her third week of classes!

The entire student teaching group this quarter is one of those rare groups. You know the type. They take initiative. They help one another. They share without having to be asked. They are open, honest, caring. They provide support to one another, to the staff at their placements and to their students. Honestly, they make this whole professorial gig pretty great. I am well aware groups like this don't come along very often so I am trying to soak in the rich camaraderie and collegiality being demonstrated.

They also cause me to pause and reflect on my own career. What do I do to encourage collaboration among our preservice teachers? Do I demonstrate it in my dealings with others? Do I do all I can to help others? Do I push the boundaries of what I currently know and do? How can I improve? Am I willing to risk what is safe to make it so? These thoughts are coming at the perfect time... just as I am planning for the new quarter.

Ahh... working with young professionals can be soo invigorating!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just Because You CAN!

Image from http://www.arcadevoid.com

This is an incredible waste of time but to be perfectly honest, sometimes we need to waste a moment or to... in order to collect ourselves.

So, squish away!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Make it Work!

Image from: logichp.com

I absolutely LOVE Project Runway. Seriously, the show is the highlight of my week. Not only does it showcase some of the most incredibly talented people but it pushes those talents to do more than even they believed they could.
I often wonder what a similar concept would look like in the field of education. Perhaps teachers would design lessons that would pull students out of the classroom and place them in unique situations and settings. Perhaps the lessons would look more like problem based learning with students designing the learning based on a topic, question, concept or challenge posed by the teacher. Perhaps there would be deep engagement and on-task behavior on the part of students rather than frustration and resentment. Perhaps teachers would experience feelings of fulfillment over their career choice rather than feelings of doubt.

Rather than more accountability, standardized tests, and legislation education could benefit from Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn issuing a challenge to help it move to the next level. Who knows, for the first time education might just be in rather than out!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fresh Tomatoes

Image from: growingupsidedowntomatoes.com

I just love the bounty summer brings. Although I live in a dump with a postage stamp yard and a poor climate for growing the vegetables I want, I do have plenty of friends and family with gardens and a desire to share the fruits (or vegetables) of their labor. My dad grows the BEST tomatoes which I recently turned into an incredible marinara and froze the rest for use this winter.

So, here here to the vine ripened, garden tomato. There is nothing like you!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Easier Photo Editing?!

Okay, so I am not the greatest when it comes to editing photos. I mean, the whole thing kind of intimidates me AND it takes soo long to figure out. Well, a friend told me about Picnik, a free, online photo editing tool. Yes, I know there are other tools with many more bells and whistles but I just don't have the time to sit and play with them to (1) figure them out and (2) get my pictures the way I want them (if you know me you will know I am a bit anal when it comes to details). Picnik gives you a little edge to your work AND makes your pictures pop!

So, here is the before....

And here is the after.

Nice, right? In just 2 minutes, I was able to sharpen the face and make those great colors a little more vibrant. Give Picnik a try. You might be surprised by what it can do to quickly improve your pictures!

Imagine the Possibilities!

Image from tech.groups.yahoo.com

Upon arriving at the office today, I turned on the computer and immediately dove into my email. I found a great video from a student related to Bloom's Taxonomy. Well, that video sent me searching for other little gems on an educational technology blog. Although it took a couple of hours, my scavenging was not in vain. I turned up this great tool for gathering audience feedback in real time.

As a teacher, presenter, trainer, facilitator, consultant... one often likes to know what the audience is thinking and to be certain the points made are clear and well-received. TodaysMeet allows presenters to accomplish just that! It also helps presenters answer audience questions as they arise. Imagine what this could do for students too afraid to ask questions. TodaysMeet seems to provide a space for members of an audience to communicate with the facilitator while he or she is facilitating, without disrupting the presentation flow. It also allows the facilitator the opportunity to tailor the presentation as it is delivered, rather than waiting until the end to realize they have missed the mark. TodaysMeet lets audience members communicate with the presenter via Twitter on their smart phones and internet. What a powerful tool!

I would imagine some ground rules or norms would need to be set to ensure the audience frames their comments and questions in a positive manner. I would also imagine the use of such a tool is not for the faint at heart. However, set up is rather simple. Just create a room, identify how long the comments should be saved, create a Twitter hashmark (#) identifier, and start "talking". It is THAT easy!!

As teachers, lets embrace the backchannel (everything going on in the room other than that which is coming from the presenter) and make our classrooms or meeting rooms more effective. I intend to give this tool a try during the fall and I would encourage you all to do the same.

Risk boldly my friends!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Divine Hot Beverage

Image from: http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/

I absolutely adore coconut cream pie. The following is a tasty warm beverage for coconut cream pie hot chocolate. While August may not be the best time to sample, you can always save the recipe for a warm winter's evening. Once you have a taste, you will be dreaming up occasions where you can serve and enjoy. It may even become a new Christmas morning tradition!

Coconut Cream Pie Hot Chocolate
(Serves 4)

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 package (11 oz) white chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • Whipped cream
  • Shredded, sweetened coconut

Heat milk, cream and extract in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in chips and combine until smooth. Pour mixture into mugs and top with whipped cream and coconut. Serve and enjoy!

Note: This treat is equally delicious as a chocolate coconut drink as well!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beautiful Blogs

I just love a beautiful blog. I am not sure what it is about the colors, photos, or musings but I think my new-found affinity for the digital may be related to my love of gorgeous papers and divine pens. You don't even want to know how many cards, stickers, reams of paper, or boxes of pens I have stockpiled. It is astounding.

I last posted to this blog in November, 2005 as a way to share my experiences in graduate school. Alas, that didn't last. Homework, teaching, writing a dissertation... it all got in the way. Oh, and around that time I discovered facebook. Ah, facebook... the most divine time suck but such an amazing invention.

So, let's try this again. -- Take 2!

At right, I have listed some of my favorite blogs. I am sure there are more but here is a start. I absolutely adore The Pioneer Woman and if you have yet to discover her, put down what you are doing and go there now. You will NOT be disappointed. A friend introduced me to Enjoying The Small Things which left me bawling my eyes out in the middle of the night one evening. Feel free to check out this smattering of favorite blogs and let me know what you think. If you have other suggestions, feel free to share. I am always game for a beautiful blog!

Image from: http://thepioneerwoman.com