Professional Development Opportunities

This summer I came across a Tweet about Edcamp Global. I decided to sign up for it since I've attended other local Edcamps and found them very useful. I wasn't disappointed! I made a lot of great connections, and learned some new things that I hope to use this school year. Because I registered for Edcamp Global, I just got an email about another opportunity to participate in Edcamp Global Classroom. It sounds like a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into other classrooms around the world and possibly even for my students and I to share some of the projects that we are working on. Of course I signed up right away!

I am happy that there are so many professional development opportunities out there besides the traditional ones that are offered by school districts. While many of those are useful, many of them are not. They can be expensive and a waste of time that could be better spent working in the classroom on grades, lessons, etc...

A Ray of Hope

"This must be a good sign," she thought as the sun streamed through the clouds. It had been thirteen days since the sun made its last appearance, and it had been equally as long since she'd had a bit of good luck. In just under two weeks, Leah locked her keys in her car, lost her purse, and was late to work more days than not, to mention just a few things that had gone wrong. "Surely things are beginning to look up for me," Leah hoped as she reached for the lottery ticket, put it in her pocket absentmindedly, and headed for home.

This is my entry for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups Week #111. To learn more about the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups or to read other entries, please visit

Ode to My College-aged Daughter

It can't be that time.
I'm not ready yet.
I thought the years
Would pass slower than that.

It seems I just held you
In my arms the first time.
Beaming with joy
And a tear in my eye.

Now you've grown into
The fine young woman you are.
I certainly couldn't be
More prouder by far.

In the blink of an eye
Those years have passed.
Cherished memories now
That will always last.

It's hard to let go
And watch you take flight
On a path all your own
On this journey called life.

God bless
Love you lots
& P.S. --- text your mom!

Testing Out Apps for School

I am in the process of trying to find high quality apps for school that are useful yet inexpensive. I'm going to post a little review of each app and a sample product if possible/applicable.

TypeDrawing ($2.99): This app lets you draw with words. You can type in your own words or use symbols from a menu. You can change font colors and font, or you can make them random. You can adjust the size of the font manually or you can set the size to be determined by drawing speed. I like that you can import a photo and draw over it and then make the photo transparent, so you don't see that it was ever there. That's what I did for this sample self-portrait...

Wordfoto ($1.99): This app lets you upload a photo and then recreate it using words. You can choose from a preselected list of words or you can enter in words of your own choosing. Here's a sample...

Colorsplash ($1.99): This app lets you upload a photo which is then changed to black and white. Then you get to paint the color back into just the parts that you want colorful. Here's a sample:

Halftone ($0.99): This app lets you upload a photo and turn it into a comic/cartoon type photo. Here's a couple of samples:

Handfont ($3.99): This app lets you write on the screen to set up a font with your very own handwriting. Here's a sample:
If you have suggestions for other free or inexpensive Apps, please leave a comment to tell me about it. Thanks!

A New Venture Into Mobile Learning

I'm in the middle of a new venture at school. We are the proud new owners of an iPad cart with 30 iPads for students to use. It has been a process setting them up. Before beginning the process of setting up the iPads, I did some research online and came across some helpful resources including: iPad deployment: Backup/restore deployment strategy and steps and

Here are some things that I have learned are important.

  1. Set up an email account dedicated to the maintenance of the iPads. You will need this to create an Apple ID to sync the ipads with iTunes. 
  2. Set up an email account dedicated to the maintenance of the volume purchase plan if you intend to purchase apps from the iTunes store. In order to apply to purchase apps through the volume purchase plan, you'll need this email address to create yet another Apple ID.
  3. Download Configurator on an Apple machine that can be dedicated to syncing the iPads. This doesn't mean that the machine can't be used for other purposes.
  4. Wait to label each iPad/iPad case until AFTER you set them up initially. When syncing the first time, the iPads are NOT numbered according to the slot they are in on the cart. I didn't know this until after I had already labeled each iPad and wrote the corresponding number on the case. This meant that, after the initial setup, I had to take all of the covers off, put them on the correct iPad, and put them back in numerical order.

I'm sure there are other things that I will be learning as I keep working through this process. I'll update this post with other tips and ideas that seem important as I come across them.

Communication 101

***Here is my entry for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups, Week 56. If you want to know more about this visit Julia's Place.***

I was foolishly underthe impression that there are some basic fundamentals of good communication. Ifyou wish to get your message across, you must simply follow these steps:
Use eye contact.
Be direct and to thepoint.
Speak clearly.
Being clear is essentialto good communication.

Ha! No one told me thesebasic fundamentals don’t apply to communication with a spouse or a teenager. Nomatter how clear my thoughts seems to me, the messages leaving my lips getcompletely jumbled up before they reach the ears of the intended recipient. Isthere a Communication (with family members) 101 course? Sign me up!

Summer Camp

The campers sat together. The flames, casting eery shadows, jumped and crackled in the breeze. All of them were on edge after the terrible news they had received. Every little noise caused their hearts to race. Tracy was really missing. Everyone thought she had gone to her cabin to be alone, but when she didn't show up for dinner they began to worry. There was no sign of her anywhere around camp. She was the fifth camper to go missing in just over a week. The campers looked around the fire at each other wondering who would be next.

Relief at Long Last

One look around the neighborhood was all it took to see the toll high temperatures and lack of rain had taken on the landscape. Despite best efforts, the lush green grass had become dry and brittle. Beautiful gardens dried up. So when the first rumble was heard in the distance, people started to emerge from their air-conditioned sanctuaries to witness the first drops of rain in weeks. The drops quickly turned into sheets of rain. Puddles began to form and in the blink of an eye the rain turned the road into a river. Young and old alike danced in the rain and squealed with delight. Relief!

This is my second attempt at the 100 word challenge for grown-ups. If you'd like to give it a try, check it out here...100WCGU.

Unfortunate Timing

Prince William was missing his wife terribly. He hated it when they were apart for any length of time and decided to give her a call to see what she was doing. As he dialed her number, he flipped on the television to see how Murray was doing at Wimbledon. He was horrified to see that Murray was just about to serve for the championship when a cell phone rang loudly in the crowd causing him to fault. He was even more horrified to see the camera pan over to the Royal Box where everyone was watching as Katherine tried frantically to silence her phone.

Creative Writing Fun

If you are looking for a way to get your students excited about creative writing, you should check out the 100 Word Challenge (for older students--grade 4 and up) or the 5 sentence challenge (grade 3 and under). Both of these projects were started by Julia Skinner, a former Headteacher of a primary school in England. How does it work? Students find out what the weekly prompt is and then write in their blog either 100 words in response or 5 sentences depending upon their age and ability. The great part is that students get feedback on their writing through comments on their blog post from other students and teachers around the world. Some students are also chosen to be featured in the showcase the next week.Another great aspect of these projects is that your students will also be able to read the work of other students and comment on it. I found this was a bit challenging for some of my students. They wanted to just write generic statements that didn't really offer any useful information. It took some practice to learn how to write good, useful comments.I also think that not only does the 100 Word Challenge and the 5 Sentence Challenge give all students a chance to practice their creative writing, it gives those students who already have a passion for writing a forum to shine.I give the 100WC and the 5SC two thumbs up and a 5 star rating. Check it out for yourself!