Now that I’ve had the experience of using Dropbox, I have a new tool that I am promoting to my students. This is an amazing tool that has forever transformed the way I think about my tasks. I created folders for work, home, my creative writing endeavors, and my small business. I’ve stored my monthly report in Dropbox so I always have access to it. Today I taught a lesson and mentioned Dropbox as a way for students to collaborate on their project. My assistant principal was observing my teaching during the lesson, and afterward he asked me about Dropbox. I love learning new things and sharing them. I especially enjoy when people get as excited about learning something new as I do. I intend to follow upnwith him to see if he’s tried it. I also plan to offer my Lunch Bytes sessions next year to give teachers a chance to try it.
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After looking at the capabilities of Google+ Hangouts, my first impression is that it would be a great tool for collaborating with my librarian colleagues, even if we can’t leave our buildings. Meetings could be carried out more efficiently and more frequently in a hangout. I would also encourage my students to set up a hangout any time they need to work on group projects. I would love to meet up with some writers in a hangout as well.
Google+ Hangouts might also be a way for me to convene my Teen Writers’s Workshop, but I think Edmodo would be a better option for this purpose. I plan to set up a page and have it serve as a “virtual workshop” where we can discuss ideas, and post writing-related links and writing prompts.
A few weeks ago I started seeing Pinterest pins showing up in my Facebook feed. I soon began hearing that it’s a huge time waster, so I wasn’t really interested in getting involved in it. But for the web 2.0 course I thought I’d give it a try.
I’m hooked. Yes, I knew this would happen. I’m finding all these amazing photos about home decorating, cooking, traveling, and painting my nails. And I won’t even get into the images I pinned of Gerard Butler! Ummm, yeah.
Pinterest is currently blocked in my district, so I’m not sure that it’s use is even a possibility any time soon. However, I could see teachers and students using it as an organizational tool as part of their research. They could create boards for their ancient civilization, or author study, or science project. Perhaps open access is on the horizon.
As a writer, the images are awe-inspiring. I could imagine using the images I pinned to help me describe a scene, the color and textures of an Irish cottage, or even a strong, handsome, male character….named Gerry.
Pinterest will be fund to continue exploring, but it is definitely a huge time-sucker.
Now where was I????
I’ve started an online Web 2.0 workshop because I want to learn more about these features in order to be more up-to-date with my technical knowledge. My immediate focus for these new skills will be for my teaching, with the side benefit of being able to incorporate them into my writing life. So, I’m eager to get started (and need to catch up actually), and am looking forward to learning new things. You’ll see updates on my progress posted here.
I’d love to hear what you think.
Todd Burpo is the narrator of this story about his son, Colton, who suffered a life-threatening illness when he was three-years-old. Many months later, Colton began revealing insights about what he experienced while his body was on the operating table, but he was spending time in Heaven with Jesus, God, and a great-grandfather he never met. Todd details the emotions that he and his wife experienced as they struggled through Colton’s dire illness, and then later as Colton’s story began to unfold. At times I laughed, other times I cried, many times I rejoiced. This book should be required reading for every Christian (and if we can get a few atheists to read it as well, that would be great). Please read this. You won’t regret it.
Tess Hilmo’s debut novel is a story about the power of love to heal and transform. When Olivene Love arrives in rural Binder, Arkansas with her parents and sisters, she expects their stay to be a typical three-day revival event lead by her preacher father. What she doesn’t realize is that she needs to do a bit of saving herself. On a trip into town, Ollie discovers how deeply prejudiced the people of Binder are toward Jimmy Koppel and his mother. It just so happens that Virginia Koppel is sitting in the town jail, having confessed to the murder of her abusive husband, Henry. As soon as his mother is sent away, Jimmy will be sent to live with relatives he’s never met, and town gossip Esther Carter couldn’t be happier to get rid of the both of them. But Ollie has a feeling that something’s not right. She’s determined to get to the bottom of the truth. First she has to convince her father to extend their stay a bit. Once Reverend Love hears the story of Virginia Koppel, he agrees to stay for a few more days. Through Ollie’s clever determination and Reverend Love’s investigation, they manage to uncover the truth behind the murder of Henry Koppel. They also find a way to make a more lasting impression on Binder.
With this novel, I found a nice diversion from the vampire-and-werewolf stories of the Young Adult genre I usually indulge in. Reading this novel is like walking hand-in-hand with a friend in the country. It’s sweet and engaging, and Ollie is a likeable character. There are some small town stereotypes, but Hilmo gives us enough surprises to make the book a worthwhile read. Highly recommended.
When my daughter was barely two-years-old, another mom commented on how advanced she was verbally. This mom wanted advice on how to help her young son, who wasn’t talking that much, improve his verbal skills. “Talk to him,” my husband and I replied. “About what?” she queried. “Everything.” We said. She seemed confused by this comment; as if “everything” was a vocabulary word she didn’t comprehend herself. I continued, “When you’re in the car, talk about signs. Talk about the Stop sign; what the letters are, what color it is, what shape it is, anything you can think of. Go grocery shopping and point out the fruits and vegetables, their colors and shapes. Have him hold them and feel their texture. Talk about whether they’re smooth, rough, or prickly.”
Now, this advice we gave is pretty simple, right? How hard can it be to talk to a baby? But the thing is I don’t think our society is used to doing that, at least not in a productive way. How often do we put the baby in the high chair or bouncy seat or swing and not engage them in conversation, even in one-sided dialogues? I have to admit that the whole idea of talking to my babies about everything was daunting at first. I’m the kind of driver whose mind is busy planning the day’s activities, or I’m daydreaming about getting more sleep, and when it comes to being a passenger, well the scenery looks lovely! Nope, I would rather write, or read, than talk. Lucky for me (and our kids) my husband likes to talk – a lot – so they’ve been exposed from infancy to his non-stop monologues about everything from the weather, to license plates, to the song on the radio, to the flock of migrating geese overhead. Perhaps it’s his penchant for chatting people up that makes my husband a great baby-talker, but he’s got it right. An article in the Sep/Oct 2009 issue of Pediatrics for Parents states that, “the best way to help your child learn to speak it to simply talk with them.” Yay, Daddy!
So, what do I do to contribute to my children’s language development? I read to them. After all, reading out loud is an awful lot like talking, right? Only with a plot! Even before I had kids, I read up on the importance of reading to children. I found The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease helpful, as well as MemFox’s Reading Magic. Even when they, in turn, reached 15 months and would push the picture books away, I persisted. I read constantly and consistently, every night before bed, in the pediatrician’s waiting room, in the car, wherever we were and books were to be found, I read aloud.
While all this reading was going on, I knew someday my efforts would pay off. However, I was not prepared when, at age four, my daughter (and first-born), picked up Green Eggs and Ham and started reading. I was stunned. I figured she must have memorized it from pre-school, so I had her flip through the book and read at random. She was able to do this with no problem. I had a legitimate reader on my hands. She entered kindergarten reading at a third-grade level.
I’m writing this on Saturday night, and this morning we attended an awards ceremony with the Central New York Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, who bestowed upon my child the First Place award certificate for her poem. She also received a $35 check. In tomorrow’s Sunday paper I will find her published poem. She tells me she aspires to be a writer and an artist. I think, “You’re already there.”
As for my son, he did not read at age four, and was not reading before entering kindergarten. In fact he grew frustrated that he couldn’t read and that someone (um, me) wouldn’t drop what they were doing and read to him right now! I gently told him that he would learn to read in kindergarten, and when he did, he would take off. As we approach the end of April, he is reading at the end-of-first-grade level. Oh, and he loves doing math problems on his own. You know addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Yes, in kindergarten. Today was his birthday and his favorite gift was an abacus. I think all that talking and reading has helped!
What do you think? Do you think you’re a writer today because your parents engaged you in frequent conversations as a child? Would you rather talk or write/read? As a writer, what do you do to help influence children to read and/or write?
I’d love to read your comments.
Welcome to my blog. If you’ve found me here, I can only assume that you are interested in the same things that I am. Either that, or you already follow me on Twitter and you’re just dying to see if I have anything more substantial to say.
Whatever the case, I’m glad you’re here, and I look forward to your comments. Just for the record, I’ll be blogging about writing, reading, libraries/librarianship, and education. These topics go together nicely, don’t you think? I like to use anecdotes whenever possible, so you may occasionally read about my children, my students, the weather in Central New York, and my passion for genealogy. (If I mention a dead ancestor from time-to-time don’t be surprised)!
At this point you may be wondering who I am and what gives me the authority to write about these topics. Well, here’s the lowdown: I have always dreamed of being a writer, and of making money from writing. You’ll see a future post about my long and winding road to making that dream approach reality.
I’ve been reading, well…forever it seems. I read all the time, no matter what it is. More on that later as well. I’ve managed to combine writing and reading by being a book reviewer for School Library Journal.
Which brings me to another area of expertise: libraries/librarianship (did you like that segue?). I’ve worked in libraries, in one capacity or another, for 24 years. I have been a high school librarian (library media specialist…teacher/librarian…choose your favorite term) for twelve years. I also moonlight as a substitute librarian for my local public library. I work mostly in the Local History/Genealogy department (other people’s dead ancestors!).
So, that’s it in a nutshell. Why don’t you post a comment and include a link to your blog. I’d love to check you out..er…your blog I mean!