Monday, March 31, 2014

What I Read in March

I'm trying to read more for fun. Here's what I read in March: 

My favorites this month were Counting by 7s, Bigger Than a Breadbox, and Wake Up Missing. The silly writing in the second Templeton Twins book was the perfect mid-month pick-me-up, and much-needed after the more serious The Real Boy. Ursu's previous novel, Breadcrumbs, is one of my favorites and hooked me from the very beginning. The Real Boy...did not, but I eventually warmed to it. Mister Max and Parched did not do much for me, sadly. I also love that Kate Messner references Bigger Than a Breadbox in Wake Up Missing. That was an unintentional connection! Overall, a great month of reading!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Music for Educators (Vol. 1)

I grew up in the age of the mix-tape (and later, CD). According to Nick Hornby's character Rob in High Fidelity, there are all sorts of rules to creating the perfect playlist, but ultimately "making a tape is like writing a letter - there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again..." While I find great pleasure in listening to a perfect mix of hand-selected music, I often enjoy finding the songs and telling the story even more.

With that said, I am going to attempt several education-themed playlists over the next few months, and I present to you Volume 1 below. This first mix is focused around teachers' commitment to the profession and the blurred lines between professional and personal life. Teachers are teachers 24/7, and with that comes certain demands and emotions.

1. Survivor/I will Survive - Glee Cast

Because of that moment when we finally leave our student teaching assignments and get our first real classroom and realize This. Is. Hard.

2. Keep Your Heart Young - Brandi Carlile

Because we work with kids...

 3. All of My Days and All of My Days Off - AC Newman

Because we rarely get a day off.

4. As - Stevie Wonder

Because "until the day that 8x8x8 is 4" we'll love our profession...

5. Just a Cloud Away - Pharrell Willams

...but we all have those days.

6. You Belong Here - Leagues

You're doing what you are meant to do. You are wanted by your students. You belong here.

I hope you've enjoyed Volume 1. Feel free to leave your suggestions for future playlist themes or song suggestions in the comments.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Staying Connected

I've spent the past few weeks completely removed from my role as "teacher." My world has been turned upside down in the best possible way thanks to my adorable new daughter. I'm so thankful for the time off to get to know her, cuddle her, and adjust to parenthood, but to be honest, this has been an incredibly strange feeling and huge shift in thinking. I know the time I have is fleeting, so I've been very intentional about staying away from work as much as I can. Even still, the relentless learner (and probably workaholic) in me has been craving some sort of educational pursuit, while socially, I've been missing the every day interactions from my colleagues. 

Here are some ways I'm trying to stay connected and engaged:

Kid Blog - While not required, many of my students have been posting to their blogs regularly. I love being able to read what's going on in their lives and continue to foster relationships with my students virtually. 

Twitter - Twitter is such an incredibly valuable resource, but it's often  compared to drinking water from a fire hose. There's just so much. While I know I'll never see it all, I've been using my down time to find new educators to follow, catch up on some favorite hashtags, participate in a Twitter chat, and learn more about new topics. The demands of a newborn haven't allowed me to create much new content, so I've been trying to contribute to conversations by sharing as much relevant content as I can. Which brings me to...

Feedly - I subscribe to more blogs than I can keep up with, but I've been slowly making progress thanks to late-night feedings and nap times. I use Feedly to keep track of all my favorite blogs and bloggers. I can always count of great stuff from MindShift, Venspired, TeachThought, and Dangerously Irrelevant.   

Pinterest - This is what I call 'mindless internet.' It's like digital window-shopping! I love the visual organization of Pinterest, and the ability to find a lot of different ideas and activities in a one-stop-shop. eduClipper is another great place for educational resources. Pinterest wins out for me, though, simply because I can search and organize things beyond education. 

NMC Academy - Formerly the HP Catalyst, the NMC Academy offers free professional development on way-cool STEM topics, such as App Design, Citizen Science, Social Entrepreneurship, and more! Many courses are self-guided and require little to no prerequisites. It's learning for the sake of learning. It doesn't get much better than that...I'm hoping to start one soon!

Just a little bit each day helps to keep my mind engaged, inspired, and connected...while still enjoying all the newborn snuggles I can. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What I Read in February

I'm trying to read for fun more. Here's what I read in February:

Are you sensing a theme? You see, I had every intention of waking up early to watch the ALA YMA awards a few weeks ago. My plan, however, was thwarted and I ended up in labor, which, I suppose is a pretty good excuse. I've spent the past few weeks enjoying the 2014 Newbery, Flora & Ulysses, and the rest of the Honor books. 

My favorite of the bunch was The Year of Billy Miller; my least favorite, One Came Home. I'm not usually one for historical fiction, so that wasn't much of a surprise. I thought Flora & Ulysses was quirky, cute, and endearing, but didn't grab me as much as The Tale of Despereaux or Because of Winn-Dixie

I'm off to a great start for March, and I'm planning on chronicling the rest of the books I read this year. Stay tuned!