My calendar has been full lately.  Trip to Des Moines, TICL conference, now it’s the IASL Leadership Academy, tomorrow night is my 25th high school class reunion, and we leave Saturday for ISTE!


Dance card from the USS MAYFLOWER’S second annual ball held in February 1906, at the Washington Navy Yard.

Then when I get back, it’s back to work.  I’m not going to ALA in Chicago, though I probably should.  The 150th anniversary of Gettysburg is from July 1-3, and I thought we would be going to that, too, so I knew I couldn’t do ALA too.

And back to work means starting the building project at the elementary, proceeding on the bookstore model at both schools, getting together the 1KB4K project . . . plus international students, getting together a TAG curriculum (I’m teaching that for a year at 7-12), doing PBIS videos with the guidance counselor, and work on the high school video production studio.  (Oh yes!  We got the ITEC grant!)

And for fun, here’s our first PBIS video, which for whatever reason, I can’t get to embed here.  So click on the “Try something” link . . .

Try something
by: csturgeon


Naval History and Heritage Command.  “83.36.52 Dance Card, USS MAYFLOWER.”  Retrieved on June 20, 2013, from Flickr.com.  Creative Commons License.


Summertime fun

How has it been over a month since I blogged??

It’s summer – finally!  For the first time ever (as a student, mom, and teacher), school went into June, what with all the snow days.  But never fear, Donna and I are finally able to get to work on our summer projects.  The first one is:

Bookstore Model

And not some squishy way like I did before.  I mean, the kids loved that – it made it easy and fun to browse the nonfiction.  However, I was the only person who could put all the books away!  Since we hadn’t changed any spine labels, it was more art than science.

But after going to IASL and hearing about the success at Waukee Middle School and North Liberty Public Library with BISC, I’m going whole-hog.  I’d always been hesitant to do it, because – hello! – I can find any book I want in a public library but always need help at Barnes and Noble.  But the way WMS and NLPL did it, it made so much sense!  I’m starting with fiction, though – I think NF might have to wait until fall.  I’m starting at the high school too, where I think it can have the most affect.  See, here are my fiction shelves:


Which look fine, right?  I’ve done a lot of weeding over the past two years (remember, it used to look like this) and the collection has definitely improved.  But as I reflected on it, I realized that I would never look for a fiction book in my library.  When I go to the public library, I never browse fiction.  Maybe new fiction, but I never, ever, browse the fiction stacks.  I’ll look for favorite authors (but I don’t need to check out Carl Hiaasen’s new book, Bad Monkey, as I have it from Amazon and am loving it!), but that’s about it.  Yet I expected my students to browse fiction?

I mean, look at this shelf:


So that’s Harry Potter (fantasy), then Storm Catchers (horror/thriller), Someday Dancer (historical fiction), next to realistic fiction, next to a mystery, next to humor, next to romance, next to graphic novel . . . you get the idea.  Chaos, pure chaos!!

I mean, it’s not like the high school students are racing to the circulation desk to read these.  But if anything is going to help, I think putting books by genre is it.

So, that means, new spine labels!  So for The Catcher in the Rye, it will say, Fiction/Classics/Salinger.  That’ll be a lot of work, but I believe in efficiency – for now, it’s weeding and sorting, then when I know the categories are solid, we’ll do all the spine labels at once.  Then, the fiction books will be placed back on the shelf, first alphabetically by category then alphabetically by author.  For example, Adventure then Classics then Fantasy then Romance then Science Fiction then Sports.  Within Classics, it would be Alcott then Austen then Bronte then Dickens then Fitzgerald, etc.  I expect we’ll have about 15 different categories.  It will be interesting to see where the gaps in the collection are once I get the books organized this way.

Watch for updates, and posts about our other summer projects.  What’s on your to-do list?

On planning

Of all the days of the year, I probably look forward to January 1 the most. I remember being sort of freaked out as a kid about the end of the year – “This is the last day it will ever be 1978!” but for some reason, I didn’t fret about end-of-times scenarios come January. I love to do lists, planners, and calendars, and resolutions? I’m all about those! (I had some success last year – I’m ten pounds lighter than I was last year at this time.)

From Flickr, used under Creative Commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyjcase/2381294958/

From Flickr, used under Creative Commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyjcase/2381294958/

So, yes, I have had successes – and failures – in the past, and I know the old adage is true – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So with that said, here it is: Resolutions, Version 2.0.13!

Lose 30 pounds – I’ll continue what I did last summer: the Shangri-la diet (crazy but it absolutely works), exercising six days a week (especially now that I picked up an elliptical machine at Goodwill for $10!), biking and walking in the spring (let’s not be crazy – that ain’t happening until the snow is gone), no caffeine, and fast food rarely (once a month max).

Back in my summer biking days

Back in my summer biking days

Educate myself – I’ll continue taking Coursera classes – right now I’m taking Think Again, How to Reason and Argue with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong from Duke University (it’s not too late to join and catch up, so I’m trying to get Rob to sign up so I can say my husband and I are taking a class on arguing). I’m also signed up for The Camera Never Lies (the University of London!) which is about photojournalism, and no kidding, Introduction to Guitar (Berklee College of Music – where my favorite singers, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings attended – maybe we’ll go to a class reunion together, LOL). Find lots more classes – over 200! – at Coursera.org. (With most Coursera classes, if you do well enough, you can get a certificate stating you completed the work. One of those babies is going in my portfolio!) I’m also going to start crafting again – I’ve done some sewing and basketry in the past, and would like to make time for that again. And of course, reading! I’m going to make a point of reading 12 children’s and 12 adult novels this year, and keep track of those books. Doing an end-of-year list is difficult when my Shelfari account is so spotty.

Always the reader!

Always the reader!

Free(r) from debt – I know we can’t get completely out of debt this next year – not with over $40,000 in student loans to pay off! But after living in Music City for a decade, we’re well versed in the ideas of Nashville-based Financial Peace University. Despite what Dave said, going back to school – even with those student loans – wasn’t optional. It had to be done. But we can definitely do his “debt snowball” and get some bills paid off this year.

A proud day (December 2009)

A proud day (December 2009)

There’s a lot of other things I want to do – yoga, home more organized (you should see my office! – or maybe not), recycle. I’m still figuring all that out. I can look back on 2012 proudly – a post for another day, perhaps. But for now, I’m excited about what 2013 will bring!

(The best thing about New Year’s? It’s the one holiday that I’ve created traditions with my family where none really existed before for me – black eyed peas and greens, playing Risk with my sons.). Happy New Year to you!

Weekly Update

Here’s the last to-do list I posted here:

*Book orders at elementary & high school – I did half the order at the elementary, and have the HS one ready to go the next time I’m in the building (the office puts it through).  This week!

*Finish article for newsletter – Check.

*Wednesday teacher exploration meeting – We had that which went pretty well, even if the projector was had a funky TV from 1978 vibe (the display was purple for some inexplicable reason!).  The elementary principal asked me to go to the SAI meeting this week about integrating technology, and we’re going to decide how to proceed with these meetings after that.

*Year-end report infographic – Chirp, chirp, chirp (cricket sounds).  That would be a no.

*Create ebook information page on website – I did this – can’t link to it because whenever I seem to blog (at night), the site is under maintenance.  TLC – it doesn’t need maintenance every stinking night.  FYI.

I did lots of other things too, though, including hosting an anti-bullying assembly on Monday, having two Technology Club and one Book Lover’s Club meetings, and hey, catching up on my RSS!  Hmmm, it felt like a lot of other things even if it doesn’t sound like it.

Oh!  And I got the greatest email from a bestie who said, “I love teaching but no one I know has a passion for their job like you do. You’re awesome.”  How cool is that?!

So, what’s new on the list?

*Order video camera for Technology Club.  We’re making a news program video for Literacy Night next month.  We don’t need to start filming yet – still in the planning stages – but need to do so ASAP.

*Meet with Reading Coach about reading incentive program.  My para and I did a fun program last year, Read Around the World, but it was soooooo heavy on our end with work.  We’re going to change things up so the record keeping is more on the kids.  Students have been asking us what we’re doing this year, and how soon we’re starting.  They really liked the competition aspect of it.  I think it’s a balance to encourage reading for reading’s sake with putting in prizes and such.  Things to consider.

*Make a list of magazines available online.  An English teacher wanted this, and for now, I was able to placate her by giving her a bunch of magazines (like a 3′ high pile!) that we got over the summer.  But I would like to expand that a bit with an online presence.

*Portfolio.  I’m in my second year of teaching, and so my portfolio is due in February.  I have my portfolio online right now and expect to expand on that.  I bought myself a domain and hope to put it there, using Iowa Core standards.  

*Keep up with my Coursera course in Greek and Roman Mythology.  I was done a day early last week, but am reverting to my old habits and finished this week’s work twenty minutes early.  (And only because I did the quiz before I watched all the videos . . . )

By john.schultz, from Flickr
Used with permission under Creative Commons license

Another week, another workload

It’s been a busy week.  Here are things I’m going to hit hard and heavy starting tomorrow:

*Book orders at elementary and high school
    This should have been done a month ago.  Sigh.

*Finish article for newsletter
    I just need to get a couple quotes from staff and students.

*Prepare for Wednesday Teacher Explorations meeting
    This is a new initiative – an optional, after-school meeting for teachers to explore some aspect of technology.  We just had the Google Chromebook roll-out at our school (look for a quote from me in this article!), and teachers are eager to learn about using these effectively in their classrooms.

*Make infographic for year-end report
    I’ve been meaning to do this for a couple months now, and I’ve given myself September 30th as a deadline.

*Create page on website with ebook information
   We have some new ebook initiatives this year and with our AEA, so I need to put all the resources in one spot for teachers and students.

And I do have an outside life, too!

*Start Coursera class on Greek and Roman Mythology
   This will be the third one I’ve started – let’s see if I’ll stick with it.  I got an email that says, “We’ll be engaging in something the likes of which has never quite been seen. You have joined over 50,000 people from around the world.”  Does that mean there’s fifty thousand students in this Greek Mythology course???

*My son’s dermatologist appointment
   DH will be taking him, methinks, as it’s MAP testing at school and I won’t be able to get away.

*Start up Shangri-la diet again, in preparation for starting the 30 Day Shred program
   I’ve lost 14 pounds so far – not weighing myself for a few days after eating a big dinner at my mom’s today! – but have a long ways to go.  It feels good, though, that people are starting to notice.

*Write 2 letters
   Handwritten – so quaint, I know!  But don’t you love getting a hand-written letter in your mailbox?

*Blog five days this week (not counting this one)

*Long bike ride
   Last weekend, DD and I went on a 12-mile ride.  It’s starting to get cooler, but as long as the wind dies down, I’d like to ride a couple days this week, too.

What are you doing this week?