Monthly Archives: December 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why

You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own.  And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part.  Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective.  When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.  Everything…affects everything.  

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

When you post an embarrassing photograph or video of someone else or you forward an inappropriate email or you continue adding to the rumor, think twice.  As one of my undergraduates said it best last semester, “If you’re not part of the solution; you are part of the problem.”

Props to Jay Asher for writing such a powerful story about the consequences of our actions in Thirteen Reasons Why.  It is required reading for one of my undergraduate technology courses next semester and I strongly suggest that you add it to your must-read list too.

What are your   you engage, model and teach empathy and perspective early and often in our classrooms?


Tuned out and plugged in

Guilty. Makes me question what message I’m sending to my son?  Honestly, what is more important than face to face time?  Nothing.  How many times have you seen people in public tuned out and plugged in even though they are not alone?

Last semester I shared with my students how we never received personal phone calls at school when I first began teaching in the early 90’s.  The only messages we ever received were from parents asking us to call at our earliest convenience. Those days are over.  Now we have made ourselves available 24/7.  The messages we receive all day aren’t just messages we find in our mailbox at school either.  We  receive all sorts of updates/messages professional and personal throughout the day now.  Is this what our lives have become?

There is no reason why anyone should break eye contact to check a device.  Since I have been more aware of my own actions, I no longer immediately answer the beep or the vibration of my iPhone when I’m with face to face with anyone and I limit checking it when I’m home with my family.

We can’t become the generation that tuned out and plugged in or we’ll be the generation who missed out!


Thank you PLN for changing teacher preparation!

What a semester! Full of Twitter, wiffiti, Skype, Schoology, Posterous, KidBlog, Edmodo, YouTube, iMovie, MovieMaker, StoryJumper, Prezi, #digcit, #fys11, #icitizen….

The best part?  You – my PLN! 

I asked for virtual mentors in a post in July: Looking for virtual elementary teachers to be science and social studies mentors. I was looking for elementary teachers to be virtual mentors, as well as guest experts via Skype for my graduate course and you responded above and beyond my expectations!

Here’s what my EDUC 555 students had to say about the virtual experience:

  • Having a virtual mentor has been awesome!  As with Skype, my virtual mentor has provided me with knowledge and ideas all the way from Hawaii!
  • I believe Skyping with virtual mentors in class was essential to the success of EDUC 555.  The conversations that were sparked during and after our Skype sessions were one of the aspects that made this class as successful as it was.
  • I loved hearing from all of the different people who have Skyped into our classroom. I would LOVE to be in the class where the students are creating an app about the butterflies.  I also love the welcoming “letter” that our new friend from Canada sent to her kids. I would have loved to see the classroom before the first day of school and gotten an introduction to the things we were going to do in that coming school year. Also, our latest Skyper , WOW; I still cannot get over how much time he set aside in his life for us! I have told some of my teacher friends about him and how amazing his presentation was for us (even connecting the CT standards into the presentation) and how he spent an hour with our class and was so excited and happy to share with us and get us just as excited as he was about incorporating science into our own classrooms. Truly amazing experience!
  • Watching my classmates try new things, writing lessons in groups, and learning from the virtual mentors via Skype and Twitter have been incredible experiences. The virtual mentors, especially, have made this class something incredible to remember. Their warmth, reflection, wealth of knowledge, interest in helping other educators, and all around advice was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Also, this class taught me that one could absolutely use Skype effectively in the classroom. The group of youngsters from Tennessee teaching our group how to be good teachers is a fond memory that I hope I can reproduce from the other side with my class. Perhaps I can Skype in with my class when I’m student teaching!
  • EDUC555 has not been the typical teacher preparation course. Incorporating both science and social studies into a sixteen week course is a challenge. I feel that both contents are being addressed in depth due to the integration of Skype and virtual mentors into the classroom. Skyping in with science and social studies teachers from all over has opened up doors that would have otherwise remained closed. The teachers that have reached out through Skype have been truly passionate about education and willing to help any way they could.
  • This class truly helped to show me that there really is a community of teachers, who are also learners, who care and want to share. I smile to think that these teachers are out there, ready to share their knowledge and experience and advice. It is not just about teaching but about humanity, and I am thankful for the kindness of these teachers we met on Skype. Our classroom Skye sessions were very beneficial for me, without them I would not have been aware of the vast world of resources that exist online and through others.

The list could go on and on….

An extra special thank you to Tom Riddle from South Carolina, Glenn Gibson and Amy Murray from Calgary, Aviva Dunsiger from Ancaster, Paula Naugle from New Orlean, Sean Musselman, Nancy Carroll, Tracy Sockalosky and Shawn Avery from Massachusetts, Evelyn Heckman from Hawaii, Leah LaCrosse from Ohio, Autumn Laidler from Chicago, Ben Curran from Michigan, and Tamra Lanning and her 5th grade students from Tennessee for sharing your time, passion and expertise with my students.  This experience has changed me as a learner and as a teacher educator.  You provided such a rich learning opportunity and you have changed teacher preparation!  Thank you for the bottom of my heart!

Other related posts: Higher Ed Goes Virtual and Endless possibilities when you know that #youmatter


A million reasons and more

Turning the corner on the final week of the semester and a graduate student sends me this tweet:

I was shattered after watching Jonah Mawry describe Whats going on...

This is exactly why I wanted to teach Pleased to Tweet You: Are You a Socially Responsible Digital Citizen? as a First Year Seminar this year.  I’ve blogged and tweeted about it all semester using the #digcit, #fys11 and #icitizen hash tags.  My freshmen have engaged elementary, middle and high school students in conversation about what it means to be socially responsible in the 21st century both on and off line.  We have focused on empathy and asked K-12 students to join us on our crusade to be the generation that views and treats all human beings as equals.  Our final multimedia projects will be shared and posted on Twitter this Thursday.

To Jonah Mawry – thank you for sharing your story with us!  Your courage has provided me a million reasons and more to continue to engage others in this conversation!


A teachable moment in line waiting to see Santa

Yesterday, we were waiting in line to see Santa.  A girl behind us, maybe six or seven years old said to her dad, “I don’t want to see Santa.”  When her dad asked why she responded, “Santa was mean to Rudolph.”  As we waited, her comment lingered and began to weigh heavy on me.  Was Santa mean to Rudolph?  I quickly retold the story to myself in my mind.

Here is what I can remember, Rudolph was different and his father was embarrassed and tried to make him look and act like the other reindeer.  His friends made fun of him, called him names and wouldn’t let him play.  The reindeer teacher, Coach Comet sent Rudolph home because he was different and poor Rudolph left home in a storm because he felt as if he didn’t belong.  On his journey, he met Hermey the Elf and Yokon Cornelius and they end up at the Island of Misfit Toys.  Oh no, I thought to myself, this is too familiar.  I’ve been talking about this all semester with my students.

But, was Santa mean to Rudolph?  What was his role in the story?  Had he been a bystander and allowed this to happen?  After much thought and deliberation, I finally decided that Santa was not mean-spirited towards Rudolph.  How could he be?  He’s just a jolly old soul!  He probably could have done more in the beginning and perhaps he could have engaged the young reindeer and the teacher into a conversation on what it means to be socially responsible, but Santa was not intentionally mean to Rudolph.  I’m just glad that the rest of the reindeer figured out how wrong they were about Rudolph and I thank that young girl in line waiting to meet Santa yesterday for providing me a time to reflect on this teachable moment.

As one of my college freshmen said it best last week, “If you’re not the solution; you are part of the problem.”  Here’s to engaging more people into the conversation so no one feels like Rudolph, Hermey, Yokon, Bumble or the other toys on the Island of Misfit Toys.  As we embrace the spirit of the season, make sure we take the time to be part of the solution!