Monthly Archives: June 2014

Not Your Ordinary Camp


CAMP. I love that word. When I hear the word CAMP I am flooded with fantastic memories of swimming, horseback riding, archery, arts and crafts, not so good food, suntan, sleepaway, great friends and Lake Cotoctin.

But now I am going to different kind of camp. One that includes Voxer, ApprenNET, 100 like-minded people from across the world, and a deep conversation about engaging parents in our schools.  And this camp is COOL. Our discussion, thus far, revolves around the first two chapters of the book Behind the Bake Sale, by Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies.

This is GROWN-UP camp via #ptcamp (check out the Twitter feed) and the AMAZING Joe Mazza, whose vision and passion for improving education is inspiring thousands daily. Thank you, Joe!

Here are my take-aways, so far:

  • Schools across the world are doing amazing things to engage parents.
  • Schools across the world are also struggling in their efforts to engage parents.
  • In some schools, students are leading conferences with parents. They are about 15-20 minutes, using a script.
  • Parent/Teacher home visits are POWERFUL in building relationships.
  • Language interpreters are necessary to meet the needs of our diverse families.
  • Families should be considered “full partners” and “co-creators” (Professor Karen Mapp’s words, not mine 🙂

Take a minute to look at the image below and think about what version applies most to your school (whether you’re an educator or parent).

Be honest and please share comments.



The Power of Three

There is power in 3’s.  One of the most interesting concepts is the power of 3.  Just think about it for a moment:

Earth is the 3rd rock from the sun.

The English Language grants our first 3 digits with unique endings: first, second, third, but the rest are followed by a measly “th”.

Sporting events typically award players up to third place.

We are given 3 choices of drink size: Small, Medium, Large

The 3 Musketeers, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears…

There are 3 national networks: ABC, NBC, CBS (ok, so now there’s FOX)

Even the Stooges came in “3’s”.

As you think about how many iconic and powerful things come in 3’s, reflect back on your first 3 years in your chosen profession.  Most likely your career improved each year and by the third year you probably reached a level of comfort you never thought you’d feel during your first year. By the 3rd year, you were probably ready for another change.

When it comes to teaching, relocating, trying something new, or reading a book, think about the power of 3.

Teaching: By your third year, you know the content well and can navigate a classroom with confidence.

Relocating: After three years, you’ve made strong connections, built relationships and know how to live like a local.

Trying Something New: You’ve likely mastered the skill.

Reading a Book: Each time you read, you discover something new or deepened your connection to the story or characters. Each time you read it’s a different experience.

Change is hard.

Change is scary.

Change is healthy.

But three years in, you might realize that change was just what you needed.

Even if it takes 3 years to feel that way.


Liebster Award?

My new friend, Jen Houlette over at surprised me this weekend by nominating me for a Liebster Award. (Thank you, Jen!) While honored, my 1st thought was: “What is the “Liebster Award?” I discovered that the Liebster Award doesn’t seem to hold any clout other than PR. Its primary purpose: simply a way to discover new blogs with very few followings. Nonetheless, it’s an honor to receive any kind of recognition for my new adventure in blogging.

Official rules for the Liebster award

  1. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the questions designated by the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  3. Place YOUR nominations for the Liebster Award! Nominate five (or more) other bloggers that have less than 200 followers. Make sure to notify them via comment/email, etc.
  4. Make up a set of questions for those nominated bloggers to answer.
  5. Display the Liebster award badge on your blog!

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I love music. It is my happy place. Sometimes sad, but mostly happy.

2. I love reading. But I didn’t always. Not until I was a “grown-up”. Kinda sad.

3. I’ve moved way too many times. It is NEVER fun.

4. I can’t sing, but I still do.

5. I have a Twitter addiction at the moment.

6. I chew a LOT of gum.

7. Exercise is an important part of my life. It’s a mental thing.

8. I love live sporting events.

9. I could listen to Coldplay all day.

10. I have two incredible boys that keep me very busy.

11. I just received my Masters in Reading–online, which worked perfectly for me!


11 Questions asked by Jen Houlette: (Thanks again for the nomination!)

1) What made you decide to become a teacher?

My mother. Her encouragement and foresight inspired me to discover myself through teaching. (Thanks mom!)

2) What children’s book is your favorite?

That’s not a fair question—too many to choose from. Here’s a few:                                    Flotsamstellalunaoh, the places you’ll go!the true story of the three little pigsknuffle bunny: a cautionary talethe dotsector 7chicka chicka boom boomanimalia

Front Cover           

Told you it was hard to pick just one!

3) If you went back to school, what degree or endorsement would you pursue?

I would want a degree in Literacy Coaching and a degree in Educational Technology. Twitter has inspired my passion for new tech. Also love the idea of getting my PhD–Dr. Priddy sounds so nice 😉

4) If you wrote a book, what would it be about?

Whoah, that’s a tough one. Maybe strategies and mentor texts, but that pretty much already exists.

5) What website, app, or other technology tool could you not live without?

Twitter, note-taking app, smart phone calendar.

6) If you were given $500 to spend on your classroom, what would you buy?

Why more books, of course…and ways to organize all the literacy.

7) What teacher was your favorite and why?

My favorite teacher Ms. Sexton, 10th grade Social Studies. She made learning fun and relevant.

8) What is the name of a book you are currently reading?

Digital Leadership Sheninger, Eric/ Zhao, Yong (FRW) 1 of 1 product image



9) Describe your ideal classroom space.

Modern, organized, clean, open, many tables for collaboration, Smartboard, many computers/laptops, video cameras/flip cameras for recording, many shelves for books, white boards but plenty of space for anchor charts, student centered, book nooks with comfy chairs throughout the room, music playing in the background from the iPod station…one can dream.

10) What would you be doing with your life if you weren’t teaching?

Continue being a mom, volunteering at the school in any way, sharing through my blog/FB page, Twitter

11) Why did you decide to start writing a blog?

Blogging for me is definitely outside of my comfort zone. Writing is not a strength, but reflection is–I am always thinking and analyzing and critiquing myself. Blogging is a way to show vulnerability, grow through writing, and share what I’m learning.

My Nominations:

I am nominating 5 of my blogger friends from the #10summerblogs challenge, which inspired me to start blogging. 

1. Ben Kuhlman Teaching Writing and Writing Teaching

2. Diane Peterson The Real Deal

3. John Hines Coach Hines Blogs

4. Lori London Science is Everywhere

5. Dorothy Suskind Jungle Gym Negotiations

My Questions for Nominee’s:

1. What are you currently reading?

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

3. What song would be playing if you turned your car on right now?

4. What do you do in your down time?

5. Describe your perfect classroom.

6. Name your favorite movie.

7. What topic would you present at a conference?

8. Name someone you’d like to meet one day.

9. List your top 5 Twitter follows.

10. What is your guilty pleasure? Why?

You Know The Feeling…

You know the feeling.

What you feel when you see your child after too much time away.

What you feel when you start a new book and your hooked with the first few sentences.

What you feel when you walk on the boardwalk as a 7-year-old when you catch a glimpse of that roller coaster way up ahead.

What you feel when you’re almost near the “finish line”.

What you feel when you find the “perfect pair of jeans” ON SALE!

Your heart beats a little faster. You move a little quicker.  And you’re smiling–though you probably don’t even realize it.

The ANTICIPATION.  The RUSH.  The mental HIGH.

That’s how I feel every time I log onto Twitter. Whether it’s a quote, infographic, or something new to take back into the classroom, it’s the same feeling.

And boy, does it feel good.

Here are my top 10 takeaways from Twitter THIS WEEK!

10.  Answer Garden: Digital scribble space. Using 20 characters or less, you can use this as a Q & A forum for students or brainstorm session. Quick and easy!

9. A link to an incredible book club for summer reading: For those interested feel free to join the #satchat book discussion on Digital Leadership #ACretreat14

8. If you want to update your resume, prezi is the way to go for educators. @techgirljenny has an AMAZING resume for ideas.

7. Looking to increase your Digital Leadership? Follow these challenges…

6. Can’t forget the late great Maya Angelou

5. #complichat is a new Twitter chat debuting June 10th at 8:30 EST. @bethhill2829 and @jenngroach will be hosting.  Amazing educators!

4. Did you know you can WEAR technology? Check this out:

3. Why creativity in the classroom is so important:

2. Use this image to guide you during an interview: (posted by @plugusin)Embedded image permalink

1. And finally, ask yourselves these 7 questions as you end your week, courtesy of this post by @2morrowknight. 

What have you taken away from Twitter this week?