Friday, May 30, 2008


“Punk-related ideologies are mostly concerned with individual freedom. Common punk views include the DIY ethic, non-conformity, direct action, and not selling out.”Wikipedia

It appears to have been started by Jim Groom, expanded by Mike Caulfield, and is now being blogged about by Doug Belshaw, Jennifer Jones, and David Warlick, to name but a few.

My understanding of "edupunk" is that it refers to a philosophy of freely exploring, sharing, and conversing about Web 2.0 applications. Like all counter-culture movements, it draws on the energy and commitment of its adherents.

At first, the whole concept sounded strange, even ludicrous. But by putting it into a familiar context - the hippie subculture of my younger years - I could see how and where this new revolution is happening and what the next "new world order" might look like.

It's all about conversation, action, interaction: participate, educate, liberate.

I think I get it now.

"Hippies sought to free themselves from societal restrictions, choose their own ways, and find new meanings in life...Although not as visible as it once was, hippie culture has never died out completely: hippies and neo-hippies can still be found on college campuses, on communes, and at gatherings and festivals. Many embrace the hippie values of peace, love, and community, and hippies may still be found in bohemian enclaves around the world." -Wikipedia

"Punk ain't dead" by ThisParticularGreg
"We are stardust, we are golden..." by SuziJane

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I had the best of many worlds today. One of Clay Burell's KIS students, Stephanie Cho, set up a Skype call so that the two of us could discuss her school project.

Once we were done speaking, I drove over to my community's high school to hear David Warlick speak.

Stephanie was charming and a bit nervous. Our conversation centered on food and memories but took an interesting detour when she asked my opinion on cyber safety and online mentoring.

David Warlick had spent the day conducting professional development workshops in my local district, then invited parents and community members to an additional presentation in the evening. He was relaxed and articulate, and his insights regarding the "flat classroom" were well-received.

So in the course of one day, I was able to interact with a student in South Korea and a cutting edge educator in my own home town.

Life is, indeed, full of the most amazing opportunities.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Not As Easy As It Used to Be

Mac: This ain't gonna be easy.
Indiana Jones : Not as easy as it used to be.
-Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

University professor Henry Jones, Jr. specializes in education and adventure. Perhaps if he were employed in a K-12 facility, he would find both aspects of his life combined in the daily realities of public school teaching.

Indiana Jones: Not as easy as it used to be.
With curriculum driven by high-stakes standardized testing, there is little flexibility or room for experimentation. Unless innovation translates into immediate results, it is neither sought nor encouraged.

Mutt Williams: You're a "teacher"?
Indiana Jones: Part time
Most teachers must combine instruction with an endless stream of paperwork and numerous professional development requirements.

Mutt Williams: Professor, this really is a dead end!
Indiana Jones: [opens a hidden door] Come on Genius.
The creative teacher will try to share meaningful learning experiences with students regardless of whether tools and technologies are blocked (or non-existent).

Agent Irina Spalko: Belief, Dr. Jones, is a gift you have not experienced. My sympathies.
Belief is the gift that makes teaching worth the time and trouble. Belief in students, belief in the future...Indy did experience that gift, and so do teachers around the globe.

"Their treasure wasn't gold, it was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure. " -Indiana Jones

In Memoriam

He served his country in war...

Completed his own education and encouraged his children to be lifelong learners...

Was a loving husband, father and grandfather...

He has been gone for almost five years now, but he lives as a bright memory in our hearts. I love you, Dad.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On the Occasion of my 200th Blog Posting

I wrote and posted my first blog entry on June 4, 2007. Re-reading that naive and hopeful little essay reminds me how far I've come and how much farther I still hope to travel.

My academic goals seem almost laughable: none of the technologies I envisioned using are in place. The best I could do for my students was to enroll them in a district-endorsed Blackboard account. All interactive sites are blocked (including PB wiki), YouTube is inaccessible, student email accounts, even those spun off of a teacher account, are forbidden. We are 19th century citizens of a 21st century world.

Personally, blogging has been an unqualified success. It provides an outlet for creative expression, a venue for professional reflection, and a connective conduit to people from around the globe.

I'm too impatient to wait until June to post this celebratory blog, so there will be a separate "Blog Birthday" message then.

Today, I decided to spotlight some of my own personal favorites from the 200.

Sentimental (tie)
Four Weddings
She Never Existed Before: Mother's Day 2008

Nostalgic (3-way tie)
Happy Birthday to Me!
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
Age of Aquarius


Best (and only) Guest Posting
Fly on Your Heavy Feet

Most Popular
I'm Nobody! Who Are You?
Why Would You Want to Do This?
The Student Voice
Something of Value

Most Creative
The Bloggers

Best Images - Summer
Nature's Peace

Best Images - Autumn
In October

Most Deeply Felt
Stars were with me most of all

Thank you all for sharing this Journey with me.

“200” by xiaming

Friday, May 23, 2008

Girls' Night Out

(Cross-posted at This Mommy Gig)

Since we had one unused Snow Day left, our school district decided to use it on Friday, May 23, creating a most welcome 4-day weekend for the Memorial Day holiday.

Thursday seemed like the perfect evening for a Girls' Night Out.

Whenever work stress starts to mount - during standardized testing weeks or as the school year draws to a close - someone will suggest one of these impromptu get-togethers. Sometimes it involves dinner and a movie, once we enjoyed an evening of comedy (featuring female comedians) at a local club. Last night, five of us simply met for an extended dinner.

Although we teach in the same district, we rarely have the chance to interact during the work week. Yes, we did talk about students, testing, and schedules. But we're all women, all married, all moms. Health issues came up: one of us is a breast cancer survivor, another is about to return to work after recent surgery. Our mothering topics ranged from silly (how to cope with a family of living room sock-shedders) to serious (dealing with an adult child's autism). We quietly listened to a friend describe her unemployed husband's new involvement with poker. He had just returned from a jaunt to Atlantic City with a friend, and she wasn't sure when she'd decide to speak to him again. She wasn't looking for advice or even sympathy, only needed to talk about the situation with women who wouldn't criticize or judge her. Speaking about her frustration and anger seemed to comfort her; she knows we'll be there for her if she requires more support.

It wasn't a "wild" evening, though we've had some of those. It was satisfying on a human level. For all of my involvement with technology and Twitter, I still crave face to face interaction. It was fun to laugh and chatter in real time.

No matter your job description or workload, make sure to set aside some time to spend with The Girls. Whether it's coffee at Starbucks or a weekend in Vegas, you need a chance to connect with other working women.

Take a minute to think of some Girls' Night Out activities that would appeal to you. Then get online or get on the phone and make it happen.

"Young friends" by Gwennypics

Sunday, May 18, 2008


"Down the lane marched the lilac hedge, vague as sea mist, making poetry in the moonlight." -Clementine Paddleford

Our lilacs have finally bloomed: exasperated with the changeable spring, they've defiantly burst into lavender and white glory. The smell is intoxicating, reminiscent of childhood and sunshine and ragged-stemmed bouquets gathered by the armful for grateful mothers and teachers.

Lilacs require neither weeding nor fertilizing. They fling their fragrance to the skies for any who care to stop and enjoy it. Their heart-shaped leaves glow brightly now; in dusty summer, the green hedges provide perches for visiting birds and playhouses for young explorers.

Sean Hannity shares these bits of lilac lore:
"Here in Maine the Lilac Trees are planted near old foundations or older homes, living for well over a hundred years.

An old traditional gift to a new marriage was a Lilac tree. Given for the lovely fragrance and wonderful light purple flowers that come every spring, it was the sign of health, well-being, and fortune when planted near the homes.

Almost every wedding had this gift given or even planted by a family member in the wife's choice of locations. Most are planted near outhouses and near kitchen windows or near entrances for scent and view of the flowers.

The White Lilac was often planted for a remembrance tree. Loss of a loved one is often marked by one of the White Lilacs. They are often found growing near older grave yards or planted in a corner of the farms."

Lilacs appear as nature gathers itself for the blooming frenzy of summer. They are a gentle, fragrant promise of the warmth and color that is to come.

"You are the great flood of our souls
Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,
You are the smell of all Summers,
The love of wives and children,
The recollection of the gardens of little children..."
-Amy Lowell, Lilacs

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Objects Modified by Changing Light

“The Impressionists dissolved forms. They painted blurry ‘impressions’ of objects modified by changing light and atmospheric conditions—drifts of fog, shimmering forest shadows, the glow of gas lamps on rainy streets." -Stephen Kern

Although my online presence began, for all intents and purposes, less than a year ago, I've been a mother since 1977. When offered the opportunity to display this facet of my life by contributing to This Mommy Gig, I jumped at the chance. While my technology education may still have some significant gaps, I've got the motherhood experience covered.

Impressionist painters delineate a world where "colors are juxtaposed or contrasted directly, with none of the dark shadows used by the realists" (Paul Zucker). This new site, with its blending of different areas of personal interest: blogging, technology, motherhood, reminded me of an Impressionist work of art.

I'm still very much a work in progress. Realistic, Classic, Romantic: what artistic style would define your life?

"Green Apple" by Tim Cordell

Sunday, May 11, 2008

She Never Existed Before: Mother's Day 2008

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." -Rajneesh

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." -Elizabeth Stone

"Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime."
-William Shakespeare

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Meaningful Meme: Bullying

"st stanislaus is beaten by his brother" by antmoose

Clay Burell has once again challenged bloggers to think, respond, and make a difference.

In "A Meaningful Meme: Your 'Bullied Then, Successful Now' Stories" he re-links us to a podcast posting about his personal experiences with bullies and asks readers to share their own stories.

To be honest, my childhood was undramatic and largely uneventful. I was subject to some teasing about being chubby, which caused a lot of pre-teen angst, but my strong sense of self was able to bring me through this period relatively unscathed. I'm still conscious of my weight, but my eating habits are moderate and I don't have unreasonable expectations about my appearance. One positive result of my less-than-lean years is that I'm sensitive to the weight anxiety of others, particularly young females, and take care never to make any remarks that might be interpreted as critical of their body type.

With motherhood came an unexpected surge of rage and aggression when dealing with bullies: anyone who taunted or tormented my children had to deal with my militant protective instincts. My son and daughter have each fought their own battles with bullies, but the story is theirs to tell, if they so choose.

Now, as a teacher, I have come up against the latest, most vicious, form of bullying, cyber bullying. A school social worker told me that this is a very real danger, more traumatic than face to face bullying for a number of reasons:
  • it occurs 24/7 so the victim can not escape even if physically removed from the bullies
  • the (perceived) anonymity of the Internet encourages people who would not normally engage in bullying behavior to become cruel and verbally abusive
  • others join in and goad the "combatants," frequently expanding the number of people involved, sometimes even drawing parents into the fracas
  • online confrontations can spill over into real life, resulting in fights at school
  • for those who are unable to cope with cyber bullying, there can be tragic results
There are a number of excellent online resources that deal with cyber bullying, cyber safety, and good digital citizenship. NetSmartz, WiredSafety, and the National Crime Prevention Council provide information on these issues.

The company for which I am a consultant, CyberSmart!, offers a free K-8 online curriculum with standards-based lesson plans and activity sheets that cover all aspects of responsible Internet use. There will be additions made to existing CyberSmart! lessons on bullying to create a complete bullying package of lessons for grades 2-12 available by beginning of the 2008-09 school year.

If you haven't done so yet, be sure to watch Growing Up Online, the PBS documentary about how the Internet impacts the lives of our children.

Even those of us who weren't personally victimized by bullies recognize their power for evil. Whether face to face or online, bullying is unacceptable at any age. We all need to be aware, alert, and ready to intervene wherever, whenever, however bullying appears.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine

I'm going to let it shine


This little light of mine

I'm going to let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Out in the dark
I'm going to let it shine

Oh, out in the dark
I'm going to let it shine


Out in the dark

I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine
-This Little Light of Mine, Traditional lyrics from Spiritual Workshop

Self-promotion or self-esteem? When is it desirable and socially acceptable to share/announce/shout to the world news of a personal triumph?

Joanna Young, a Scottish writing coach, had this to say about power and voice:

"It makes me think of Wendi Kelly's words on having faith in your own voice, however small it might sound to you. Of how much encouragement and support an online community (like my friends on Twitter) can offer you, and how much power that gives us (both in the giving and the taking)... Of the people and places we carry with us, and how those memories work into our writing and give our words power. How the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs."

Hawaiian leadership consultant and author, Rosa Say, recently edited and posted, "Humility in the Workplace". She reminds us that
"We can be confident, and we can be self-assured; humility does not call for us to be meek, or consider ourselves lower in stature. We do not require less of ourselves, and we take our role and our responsibilities seriously. However what humility does, is create a sort of receptacle of acceptance in us, so we are open to being filled with the knowledge and opinions of others. Humility is a kind of hunger for more abundance. The greater our humility, the greater our fascination with the world around us, and the more we learn."

These women promote self-awareness and self-confidence. They do not believe, nor do I, that "self" is just another four-letter word.

Bonfire or flickering votive, shine on.

"And if everyone lit just one little candleWhat a bright world this would be" -One Little Candle, (George Mysels / J. Maloy Roach)

"Candle" by kkalyan
"Lighting candles" by gadl

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Tomorrow, May 6, is my birthday. In lieu of gifts, please share a birthday memory.

Here's mine:

For a party in the 1950s, little girls donned fancy dresses, buckled their patent leather Mary Janes, and played games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Drop the Clothespin in the Bottle, and Musical Chairs. Gifts might include Colorforms, paper dolls, a Slinky, or a board game like Uncle Wiggily. A lucky girl like me, who had a spring birth date, might receive a shiny new bike or wagon to enjoy as the weather got warmer and we headed outdoors for long afternoons of play.

As a special treat, I was allowed to eat cake for breakfast the next morning, quite a concession for my loving but strict parents to make.

These days, my birthday parties more often take the form of dinner with my husband, two children, and their spouses [my dear son-in-law had to work and missed this outing]. This year's gifts included a gift certificate and a Pilates mat.

My birthdays roll merrily along and each year brings new experiences. This is the first year I've had a blog to celebrate on and Twitter friends to celebrate with.

Isn't life grand!