Blogger’s Liebster Award

Smiles about today:

I opened WordPress to a comment, “Hello there! I nominated you …” from a #zerotohero blogging friend at Incidents of a Dysfunctional Spraffer.

Liebster Award is blogging meme award whereby bloggers support those blogs with fewer than two hundred followers and nominate them for the “Liebster [love — in this case, blogging] Award.” It’s a chance to get to know the person behind the blog, and to support their blogging paths. Thank you, friend, for your support. I also learned how to add an image to a quote format blog post!

Here are the rules:

liebster-blog-award-21. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Questions for Me:

1 What motivates you most in life? Is it your family, your friends, your own will, the weather – I look forward to your answer!

I am motivated to be the best at what I do as a model for my family, my students, as a person on the earth. I believe I am a drop creating ripples that affect others, so I take care that I do no harm, and yet I also stand up for the rights of others to be the best they can be. Since most of my adult life has been based in the education world, I am motivated by the act of creating that which will help my students better understand how to think through their work and life critically and creatively — with their needs and interests in mind. I am motivated by my circle of educator friends [PLN] on Twitter and Google Plus to plan and create a better classroom, each within our own situations, hoping for a better, more humane and personalized learning environment for today’s and tomorrow’s learners of all ages.

I am motivated by my grandchildren, whose genius is reflected in the openness in which they are allowed to create and learn through the passions that inspire them. Our families strive to provide an open and caring path for them to follow. As a parent, I was motivated to create that climate for my children, in hopes they would do the same for their children.

2 What’s the next big thing that you know is going to happen in your life? How are you approaching it?

The next big thing in my life is that my son who has been in Australia is coming home. As a child, one of the books we read together was Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in which the main character’s troubles cause him to say, “I think I’ll move to Australia.”

He’s been dreaming and traveling quite a while, so we’re excited to have him home again and are preparing by having a Wonderful, Marvelous, So Good, Very Happy Day!

3 Home or abroad? Why?

Home. I’m a hobbit; the occasional adventure is fine, but I can tour the world and connect with people all over the world right from this computer through Google Hangouts and Skype. Our granddaughter took us through a tour of Belgium and France this summer, and that was fun enough for me!

I like being the home base!

4 What do you fear the most? Why do you fear it?

I fear losing a family member too soon. My husband and I lost our parents early, and we treasure the time we have with our children and grandchildren. I think that is a parent’s greatest fear, losing a child.

5 What’s the memory you cherish the most? Why?

Giggley At The Beach

When I close my eyes as I sit at home in the house or on the swing in the backyard, I hear laughter and singing, imagination and creating through chatter and banter. As I listen, I imagine the adults and children who have enjoyed life here in our home, or on the beach, our favorite gathering place. It is the proof we have brought joy into the world.

6 Do you like where you live? What are the best/worst things about it?

Yes, I love where I live.

Best: Friendly people of mixed cultures willing to help at any time a neighbor needs it. Beautiful scenery of prairie, meadow, woods, desert, beach, fields.

Worst: Way too cold in the winter, and way too hot in the summer.

7 Do you learn best through doing, listening or seeing? Why do you think that is?

I learn best by seeing things, watching how things are done or reading/viewing about it, and then doing it. Why? That’s is how we learn — observe and try.

8 Who is the most important person in your life? What makes them so special?

The most important person in my life is Scott. My husband. My support in learning and in living. My wise man who reads voraciously, loves compassionately, thinks deeply, and lives peacefully.

9 What’s your idea of a great night?

A great night is a house full of family playing games and munching on our favorite delights. Twice a year we all get together, and this is the “great nights” I love.

10 How would you describe yourself in ten words?

Ten words:  Sheri, a thoughtful, patient, focused, inquisitive, creative, accepting, diligent hobbit.

Ten Bloggers [ -1 ]

Most of what I write about is education, but in #zerotohero I find the rest of the world. If you are an educator following my blog, you may want to check out these blogs — they represent the wider world of wonder in food, writing, photography, art — all bloggers away from the teaching world of school, and an opportunity to think about this in terms of our classrooms: what do our students really find interesting or problematic or worthy of sharing? Because, here you find the world:

So I nominate ten bloggers found through the  #zerotohero challenge:

Made by Steven, a food blog with deliciously unique and cultural delights

An Unexpected Journey, who says she doesn’t know what to do with her life, but writing needs to be part of it!

Rob’s Surf Report, an author and poet who may be too busy to participate

 

Loquacite, an author sharing her stories — her second nomination so, Airlia, just combine your nominations into one post!

Khana’s Web, photographer’s delight — inspiring photos and mixed media to brighten your day

Wanderings by the Wyre, another author and poet to whet your creative mind

Sonya Lira Photography, who lovingly captures nature, especially birds, butterflies, etc. to your delight

61 Musings, is hitchhiking through the universe and sharing a little bit of everything, at age 61.

Questions for Nominees

I realize how busy we all are — many of us have other work and blogging is a hobby, so these questions are thoughtful enough to tell us about you, but short enough you may finish quickly [ or not, if you’ve got the time ].  Thank you in advance to all who choose to participate; if you’ve been nominated more than once, just pick and choose your questions from your nominators and answer away, linking to both.

  1. City or Country? and Why?
  2. Inside or Outside? and Why?
  3. Mac, PC, or ? and Why?
  4. Home or Abroad? and Why?
  5. Cat or Dog? and Why?
  6. Winter or Summer and Why?
  7. An item on your “Bucket List,” explained
  8. A Cherished Memory
  9. A Song that moves you – and Why?
  10. You: in a six word sentence

The above are my ten questions for my ten  #zerotohero – connected bloggers. I hope you enjoy answering them, and please link back to this post as well so that I can find all the posts! The last thing I need to say is another huge thank you to  Incidents of a Dysfunctional Spraffer for nominating me for the award in the first place, and whose nominating blog can be found here.

Remember, the rules are:

1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

#zerotohero Blog With Social Media

Image

So. Our challenge, Day 17, for the #zerotohero WordPress blogging challenge is to connect and publicize with social media, such as Instagram and Google Plus.

Pause…

I have inserted Instagram widget on this blog, but I choose not to connect the two otherwise. Instagram includes many family and fun items that may not pertain to my reflections; they will be connected through the widget only.

I choose also not to connect Facebook: I have so many bad experiences with the Facebook changes. I once returned to my page to find all my photos had been turned open to the public because of recent updates to Facebook’s interface. To change  them, I had to go to each photo to return them to the correct shared settings. That took time. I don’t appreciate that. So, while I check and post to Facebook (usually via Twitter), I don’t connect any app to it except Instagram, and then I choose what to post. The user should be in control, not Facebook.

I also did not connect Twitter: I want to decide when and what to tweet, although anyone can tweet my posts, but that would be the reader’s choice. I really use twitter as a connector for projects, so my tweets are directed to hashtags that reflect those projects and connections.  You see in my title that I included the hashtag — that way I can tweet to this community. I like that about Twitter.

Play…

I did connect my Google Plus; I am connected to many educators in one circle, so it seemed appropriate to share and connect that way. We connect professionally and some personally, developing relationships as well as school projects. It’s truly a “community,” a neighborhood online. Sharing seems a good thing there.

What about you? How did you decide which social media to connect with? How do you choose where to leave your digital footprint, a path always returning to you?

#zerotohero The Header

Our challenge today, Day 7,  for the #zerotohero WordPress blogging challenge is to play around with the header.

So.

Pause…

I really had already played around to keep a simple theme, but I do love to create. So I found my original pause2play logo created in 2010. I cropped it to just the p2p part in Preview and inserted that into Keynote [ Mac Apps ]. I was able to create a squiggly line with a shadow that leads to the two pause icons and another play icon. I adjusted the colors, lines, and opacity and added the shadow.

I decided it needed a little more, so I added my signature line, Reflect Curiosity and Wonder. I ponder and reflect about things I’m curious about, and I try to reflect that curiosity and wonder back to my grandkids and students. I copied that text and flipped it vertically, and made it translucent. I exported it as a tiff and imported it into Sketchbook Express, where I cropped it [Keynote exports the size of a slide] and saved it as a jpeg.

Play…

I don’t know if I’ll keep it. But I love Keynote for the way I can create things like this when I need them as well as it’s slide presentation capabilities.  The header looks OK on mobile devices, and that’s important to one’s consideration.

Day 3 #zerotohero First Posts Jump In the Middle

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Pause…

What’s on my mind? What was I thinking about writing when I started this blog, or started this blogging challenge?

That’s our assignment today for the #zerotohero WordPress blogging challenge.

I’ve written my reasons here and here, but wondered what my first post presented. Jump in the middle...  fits with this task, as it refers to:

“Beginnings are always messy.” ~ John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright

and explains a strategy we use in our writing classroom: just jump in the middle — starts writing, and go back to fill in the before and afters. So I’ll jump in the middle of that first post and continue:

I talked about the beginnings of our school year with this:

“…from Teaching Unmasked by John Spencer:

‘Still, in the middle of May, I always feel that I should have done more. I should have given better feedback on work. I see some students and think, “I hardly know you.”’

I so identify with that. It’s a sinking feeling because I let the fast pace of forced objectives obscure the time needed to know each student. I should have slowed down, taken one more day for sharing, one more day for writing/conferences, one more choice project each quarter. Each of those would meet objectives and meet the human requirement of personalized learning.”

What happened? We did take pictures of parent involvement, but they didn’t make it into a portfolio, although they easily could.
Why not? Because no matter how I try to slow down, I’m always faced with “I let the fast pace of forced objectives obscure the time needed to know each student.”  It happens every year, and now — teachers are also tasked with documenting everything to prove what they do.  And all of these mandates are based on “research.” Today I read Ira Socal‘s post about research. It’s a long read, and an important one. He quotes Peter Høeg:

“When you assess something, you are forced to assume that a linear scale of values can be applied to it. Otherwise no assessment is possible. Every person who says of something that it is good or bad or a bit better than yesterday is declaring that a points system exists; that you can, in a reasonably clear and obvious fashion, set some sort of a number against an achievement.

“But never at any time has a code of practice been laid down for the awarding of points. No offense intended to anyone. Never at any time in the history of the world has anyone-for anything ever so slightly more complicated than the straightforward play of a ball or a 400-meter race-been able to come up with a code of practice that could be learned and followed by several different people, in such a way that they would all arrive at the same mark. Never at any time have they been able to agree on a method for determining when one drawing, one meal, one sentence, one insult, the picking of one lock, one blow, one patriotic song, one Danish essay, one playground, one frog, or one interview is good or bad or better or worse than another.” – Peter Høeg Borderliners

We are all points on an imposed scale.

And improving those points, that scale, on those tests demands that we work towards those goals, rather than towards the learning needs reaching out from the eyes of the students in front of me. We’ve lost our true purpose of education — to draw out the strengths, to lead the person learning — from where each is to where each dreams to be.  Sad, isn’t it?

Over break, I wrote a poem and sketched a book entitled, “Know That You Can” [ link when available] for The Sketchbook Project.  A verse encourages:

Whatever they try

They hear that, “We can”

Together, learning they could

And knowing they can.

The expectations and mandates of teachers, principals, and schools today do not encourage a positive, nurturing, engaging, yet challenging environment. The only focus is on those numbers because the consequences for not achieving those scores are devastating: school takeovers, school closures, teacher firings, negative community images, more intensive skill-based focus without art, music, drama, etc. The reality of how we learn is ignored.

There’s tons of research on how we learn, how we are all so different and do not learn at the same time in the same way. Here’s just a bit from Larry Ferlazzo’s blog at EdWeek.org :

“…Research by Rosalie Fink…Different students have different interests. Teachers can be most effective not by forcing students to learn from one standard curriculum, but by helping them to discover what they are passionate about, what they are especially interested in. Then learning becomes a natural activity for every student.”

It just makes sense, but the focus — in politics and by those who don’t work in schools but make the mandates — is not about students and sense, but is about sensationalism and scores.

So, even though I need to work with my student’s passions and curiosity, as soon as I get back to school I’ll be expected to teach the standards that supposedly teach to the test (and that’s another story). Our school is filled with dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals and a principal who want the best for students to lead them to the opportunities we don’t even know they’ll have. But we’re tied to mandates that teach to today, no matter what the student’s vision is.

However, we have one addition to our curriculum: Genius Hour, which is a time for students to follow their own strengths through coding, art, computer science, their interests. [ More Genius Hour ] It’s a small amount of time, but it’s a start.  [ Personalized, Connected Learning: Here and Here ]

Play…

Progress [ Genius Hour ] has occurred. And I’ve written this post, which shows 1) that change occurs slowly and 2) I’ve got other passions [ writing and drawing ]. Clearly, I know how and as a child I knew how to “play school.” But if you read Ira Socal’s post, you’ll see why learning, and school, is not the same for everyone; so each school needs to be different — one size does not fit all [ nor does one curriculum nor one test ].

What do you think? Have you accepted the negative view of schools, or will you dig into your school district and support schools that focus on helping kids find their strengths rather than focus on tests? The change comes from you — the people.

What’s next? I’m going to jump into the middle of a blog that holds things I consider worth looking into, but I never get to [ So Consider ]. That’s the source for ideas, and an idea for you to try, if you get stuck for ideas. Join Twitter, follow hashtags of interest to you, and send those especially noteworthy to a blog for you to peruse later for further writing.

So, although my original intent was to “jump.. in the middle of an idea, pausing to reflect, and planning how it will or how it could play out in the classroom community,” this new beginning has been a bit messy, but I do want to branch out. This post presents a glimpse into the broader implications of our school system’s current status and brings it back to working around the dilemma through Genius Hour.

What about you? How do you learn? When do you learn? Is it like school is and has been, or do you learn differently? How would school today need to change to accommodate your learning needs? Does your standardized test score from your school years reflect your success today?

Jump anywhere in the middle of this blog, and extend the ideas.  That’s what blogging is all about… extending the conversation. It’s OK if it’s messy; we’re all still learning — because real learning takes time.

Day 2 #zerotohero About – What’s your name?

Day 2 #zerotohero : A WordPress Blogging Challenge

What’s your blogs name? Pause 2 Play

What does it mean? About this blog  and its history

pause2playorg.png.scaled500

Pause to Reflect…

Today’s challenge is to choose a title [ Pause 2 Play ] and add a tagline [ Pause and reflect to play and learn… ] that will reflect our blog’s purpose. In addition, an “About” page or widget helps readers know what your blog is about, which helps drive readers to stick around.

This blog began in 2010 with Posterous, which became extinct, so WordPress became the new home in 2013.

And it was time for a change. Today I shortened and clarified my  About this blog  and revised the history page to include the new focus. I made sure the main ideas were at the top and colored for quick review.  I found some extinct links and made corrections; I added new pictures; I revised how readers navigated to these pages. I had already chosen a cleaner design that works as well on mobile devices as it does online, for my purpose at least.

Play to Learn…

Whenever I visit a blog, I like to know who the person is [ About Me ] behind the words, to know their perspective and focus. I think it’s important to know the name and how to contact them. I realized I needed a quick and short page for what the blog is about, although you can usually tell by the first few posts and by the categories. A tag cloud also helps. I really would like to be better at deciding categories. I’m sure we’ll get into that in this challenge.

So, in the image below, you will se the title of the blog, two pages showing [ Home and About ]. At right at the top is the tagline and below that is the link to the About Pause 2 Play, which briefly explains the blog’s purpose.

pausetaglineabout

 

 

What do you think of the changes? What about your blog? Will your readers know who you are and what your focus is?