Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2016 Funeral

I got an email yesterday that read:

I will email you the short prayer service video for D held at the funeral home. You will be very moved and very proud of your former students, T, C, and E. T and C are speakers and E reads the petitions.

And many thoughts went through my mind.

Thoughts of sadness for this family. I met them as their children's teacher and then we stayed friends. I recalled how proud D's wife was when T got accepted into college. "Must have been that great 4th grade teacher he had," I joked with her.

Thoughts about how technology changes our world so much. And now, I guess, even the exiting of our world. Because we can record so easily, I guess it is an option now. Who knew?

I immediately thought back to 1988, October. Did I speak? No. Instead, I was busy trying to find a black maternity dress because I was days past my due date for my first child to be born. D and my dad exited this world in the same way - sudden heart attack. He at age 72 and mine at age 55. Neither meeting any grandchildren.

If I had a video of my dad's funeral service, would I rewatch it? I'm not sure I would. Instead, I liked that the email I got also said:

The family played highlights from C's wedding, including D's moving toast to C and walking her down the aisle.

With my dad and the technology available prior to 1988, I can only cherish photos and I do. I am also glad that I used Judith Viorst poem, What Dads Do to write my own poem last year about my dad. (I wrote about the writing of this poem HERE.) It goes like this:

What Dads Do by Sally Donnelly, inspired by Judith Viorst
(Click HERE to read Judith Viorst's poem)

Throws parties
Makes people laugh
Creates good times for all
Signs his signature in the fanciest way
Draws amazing illustrations for your school book report
Buys you just the present that you need
Visits you when you are away at college
Treats you and your friends to strawberry daiquiris.

Dads work hard,
play hard
and laugh big.
I wish I still had one.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

DigiLit Sunday: Curves

This week's DigiLit topic is CURVES
Connect to Margaret Simon's blog Reflections on the Tech to learn more.

To be perfectly honest, when I got a tweet yesterday sharing this word as an invite to join the Sunday conversation, I didn't think I had anything to say about technology as related to the word CURVES. 

In Virginia, there is a woman's gym called CURVES and as I googled it just now, I see it is a franchise with locations all over. I personally have never been to a Curves gym but one thing I know about it is that you enter, workout in one station, then move to the next station. And once at the end, your workout has targeted all parts of your body.

When I reflected on this gym called CURVES, I do see connections to it and using technology. I personally made it a goal after returning from the Digital and Media Literacy Conference at TCRWP, that I would try ONE technology a week until the end of school. Last week, I tried Todays Meet with my students. This week I asked them to go to KIDDLE to research  science topic. It is a safe visual search engine for kids. Next week, I want to try the GREEN SCREEN at my school. They are going to stand in front of an image of the natural disaster they researched and share as if they are a newscaster on the scene reporting on this "breaking news". Week by week, as if station by station, I am trying out something in the tech world with my students along for the ride. I guess I am curving my way along a tech path!!

I also think about CURVES as I recall how Colleen Cruz modeled how to teach kids to navigate a website. First, she had us PREVIEW the whole webpage. We saw a video, some text with hyperlinks, ads on the left side. After previewing, she reminded us that now we need to make decisions. Should I read the text first or watch the video? Should I click the hyperlink which takes me to another page to be previewed and then more decisions to be made? She described the inks as like wormholes. Do I click and CURVE my way down to the next page, next page, next page? Does each click help me to understand more about what I set out to learn today OR is the click and curve just a distractor? I'm starting to realize that I need to be an active digital reader who sets a purpose for my reading and then makes a plan to follow a path (sometimes CURVEY!) to reach my goal. 

And finally, as I prepare to post my blog reflection as related to CURVES, I will be hitting "SHIFT-2" on my keyboard and a CURVEY a appears ---> @ !! 

And to think that at first glance, I aw no connection between tech and curves

Thanks Margaret and the DigiLit community for getting me to think today!!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Celebrate - Moms and Poetry!!

Today I celebrate the magical hour spent in my classroom yesterday!!

I invited all moms and grandmas to come to our Morning Meeting in my 3rd grade classroom on Friday. My mom came (and it was even her 81st birthday!). Almost all my students brought along a mom (20/22!) and three brought grandmas and one grandpa tagged along too.

I asked them to bring a poem they liked and the day before I asked each student to pick a poem that either they had written or just one they liked. Then they practice saying it to a partner 10 times!

I recalled from last May, Judith Viorst saying when she visited my classroom, that I should encourage children to memorize poetry. She said, "A poem should live inside their body." (click HERE to read about her visit last year!)

So as I awoke Friday morning, I practiced my poem 10 times, too. I wanted to be able to recite it and have it live IN me!! I had chosen my favorite - Dreams by Langston Hughes.

Then at 9am, the magic happened!! My mom, one student whose mom couldn't attend and me started. Jackson told a riddle - A man lived in a one-story house with a pink door, pink shutters, pink couch, pink, table, pink bed and pink lamp. What color were the stairs?  (answer at the bottom!!)

I recited using hand motions, Dreams and my mom read Trees by Joyce Kilmer.
Then, as a symphony share, turns were taken.
Lots of Shel Silverstein
Lots of poems written by the student reader
A piece of Shakespeare read at Elle's mom's wedding
A piece written by Paul that a mom explained helps her be a better wife and mom and friend that started with the line "Love is kind..."
Then a grandma said she didn't have a poem but she likes to sing and asked us to sing along...
   "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine..."
That's when my eyes teared up!

Magic happens when moms and kids can just stop and take time to listen to poems and share a favorite!!

I celebrate moms and poetry, celebrated yesterday during a magical Morning Meeting!

Riddle Answer - There is no stair - it is a one-story house!!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

DitiLit - Function

This week’s DigiLit Sunday topic is “function”.

Connect to Margaret Simon’s blog Reflections On the Teche to read more.

Julieanne started her post this Sunday by stating: "I’m wondering, how are my students functioning with technology and how is technology functioning for them." As I read this, I thought about how, by using technology, my students' approximations look really good.

Last week I learned about Brian Cambourne's research on the Conditions for Learning:

The idea is that the approximation step allows for the learner to be free to approximate a skill, as making mistakes is essential when learning.

This week my students used kidblog, iMovie trailers, and TodaysMeet as three tech tools, all functioning as a way to show their thinking. Because of the tech form being used, it allowed their approximations to look really good! Sure, mistakes were there but because kidblog allows for a photo to be easily added to enhance the words and iMovie adds the dramatic music to match the story line and TodaysMeet limits you to just 140 characters, all 3 tools allowed for sharing of thoughts in a form that makes all users look and sound smart.

I think it is a great time to be a digital native! So many tools are available, allowing each user to function and share their thinking to communicate with others. It is also a great (but very challenging time) to be the teacher of these digital natives. As the teacher, I will push myself to think about the function of each digital tool and help each user make wise choices so they can best share their thinking.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Celebrate - Using a new technology - TodaysMeet

Today I celebrate using new technology. I returned to school on Monday after being out last week Wed-Fri. Instead of teaching my students, I was a student myself at Teachers College. I attended their 2nd Annual Digital and Media Literacy Institute.

During the keynote by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, she suggested picking an app or a technology and trying it out for the week. In that spirit and because of the modeling of this website during the institute, I picked Todays Meet.

On Monday, I introduced it to my students through a read-aloud and called the "room" Readaloud212.

On Tuesday, a student asked if they could "say something" about their independent reading using Todays Meet. Duh! Of course!! So I set up the 2nd TodaysMeet room called IndepReading212. I set the room to stay opened for a month and for the rest of the week, reminded the students to "say something" about what they read that day during independent reading time in the IndepReading212 room.

On Wed, two girls picked the 2 copies of I Survived the Shark Attack and started reading it as a "club". I asked if they wanted me to set us a TodaysMeet for them to jot down their thoughts to share with each other. They loved this idea so I set up a room called CarolineEllieBookClub.

On Thursday, it was library checkout time. I asked if anyone else wanted to form a book club. I suggested that they could find multiple copies of books while at the library. MANY wanted to, so I set up six more rooms to hold onto book club discussions.

On Friday, another class joined my room for a lesson that ended 10 minutes early. Whenever I have time like this, I like to fill it with a read-aloud. I quickly created another room on TodaysMeet called MadelineReadAloud and had all 44 kids access the link. And in honor of Ludwig Bemelmans' birthday, I read aloud his book, Madeline. All in the room were engaged, enjoying an old favorite while using an iPad to jot their thoughts about the book on the TodaysMeet page!

I celebrate that I tried using TodaysMeet this week.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Form helps!

I awoke knowing I had to pack and head home. I've been in NYC all week attending the 2nd Annual Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Digital and Media Institute. My head is spinning and so ready to explode. The thing giving me comfort is that it is almost summer...a time for me to play and explore and try all the things I became aware of this week as the best literacy minds shared!

Then I read Margaret's focus today on DigitLit: Form

The institute ended with a celebration involving an Ignite Session. Ignite was described in the Welcome email as:

Finally, during the last day of the institute, we will be offering an Ignite session. For those of you who are new to Ignite sessions, they are participant led presentations, which are very quick and packed with information. Like its older sister Pecha Kucha, Ignite is a presentation structure that has a strict time limit which forces the speaker to be precise and thoughtful about what to include and how to show it. It is completely voluntary. In an Ignite session, presenters will have 5 total minutes to present. They will have 20 slides, each slide automatically moving on after 15 seconds. We will offer a sign up for the Ignite session on site and will have a limited number of slots available.

You can prepare your presentation ahead of your arrival at the institute, or you can plan it based on what you learned during your week with us. If you are interested in learning more about Ignite, you might want to watch a sample. Here is a link to Penny Kittle’s Ignite session at NCTE 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zp‐GUaX2ow . Additionally, if you would like to learn how to create your own Ignite session, you might want to check out these tips:http://scottberkun.com/2009/how‐to‐give‐a‐great‐ignite‐talk/

As I read this in the email before arriving, I thought how I could share about blogging - my own experience, as well as, the story of my students' experience with Kidblog since March. I had some ideas in my head so when once at the Institute, I signed up to give one.

Wednesday evening I started gathering ideas, photos, jots of why I love to blog and how amazed I was by my students' blogging experience during the month of March (which I posted about on this blog a few times in March!).

After sitting in a day of workshops, I also thought I needed a structure to my Ignite presentation (all the wonderful staff developers had done this so well as they presented). On the first day, Colleen Cruz shared the research by Brian Cambourne on Conditions for Learning. This list seems the prefect lens to use to share my blogging story.

I was thinking of this list as the lens to see my story through but as I read Margaret's DigiLit#24 post today, I realize it is also the FORM. I wholeheartedly agree, FORM matters, no matter the writing genre. Seeing my story through the conditions of learning allowed me to share my love of blogging across 20 slides in the 5 minute format.

I need to head to the bus station now and will plan to add MORE (like the link to my presentation!) to my post on Tuesday to the TwoWritingTeachers. But just had to celebrate now with Margaret, a day to celebrate FORM!!!

P.S. Despite being SO nervous to present, I included my favorite bloggers in my presentation. Having you along helped me to be brave and IGNITE!!

Two slides I shared:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

All Aboard - Next Stop TCRWP Digital and Media Institute!!

I'm on the train!!

It's taking me from Union Station in DC to Penn Station in NYC.

Then I'll take the 1 Uptown and get off at 116th/Columbia University stop

Where I'll head 5 blocks to TC's Guest housing.

Wednesday I'm observing reading and writing workshop at PS158.

Then Thursday-Saturday from 9-3pm I will  happily learned from Colleen Cruz in a large group and Lindsay Mann in a small group and have an option to attend a closing workshop each day. I'm also being encouraged to try to present Ignite-style during Saturday's closing.

I'm on the train!!

I'm excited to learn from the best all at the 2nd Annual TCRWP Digital and Media Institute!!

Be sure to check out my tweets (@sally.donnelly1)

and I promise to take good notes and share what I learn!!