Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Creating New Language Arts Material for the Common Core

Textbook companies are working like crazy to develop materials that are based on the Common Core State Standards (and also working like crazy to develop digital texts--but that's for another blog post!).  In my reading this week I found guidelines which have been published to help guide textbook authors in creating materials for the Common Core.  If you are interested in reading more...check them out here:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ideas for Before, During, and After Reading

In my readings this past week I saw a link to a list of 100 ideas to do before, during, and after reading.  You may want to check out some of these ideas as it's always fun to try something new!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Looking for New Resources?

I stumbled across this slideshow of websites in my reading last week.  It highlights 50 great websites--and has a bit of something for everyone.  Some of them may not be anything you'd ever use-but you can click through the slides relatively quickly and just look at the resources that interest you.  It's great how many tools there are on the web!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mickey Goodman: Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids

Thanks, Kevin Cessna, for sending me this article link.  This is an interesting read--and one I think that ties in nicely with what I've been reading in the book "Mindset".  After reading the article I'm left considering the idea that it is OK to fail young to learn what it feels like and how to handle it.  Interesting thoughts...take time to read this one!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Free Subscriptions to Online Professional Development from the IDOE

Online Learning announcement from the IDOE:

The Indiana Department of Education is pleased to announce the availability of free
subscriptions to an online professional development and collaboration service for Indiana
teachers. The service is provided by Simple K-12 and the subscriptions are available to all
Indiana Educators for the balance of the 2012 calendar year. Services include webinars hosted
by education leaders, a shared resource center, online learning programs, and social networking
to create a unique global community dedicated to helping educators succeed in the 21st
century. If such a service is of interest, the IDOE will help school corporations generate
accounts for as many educators as needed. Just contact Gary Bates at the IDOE to get

Monday, February 13, 2012

Inspiring Students--Blues Project at BFMS

Happy Monday!  Sometimes it can be difficult to start the work week on a Monday morning.  What can be motivating to get up on Monday morning is to read about something inspirational--so why not here on my blog!

My new Monday installments will be about great educators working hard to inspire students--right here in Valparaiso.

Today's installment is about the Blues Project which will be put on in March (March 10th at VHS to be exact) by students from Ben Franklin Middle School in Valparaiso under the direction of Scott Cvelbar, 8th grade teacher at BFMS.  I had the opportunity to attend this for the first time in 2011--and it was a wonderful mix of student talent, local talent, and education (on top of it also being entertaining!).

So why am I thinking about this a month ahead of time?  Well, last week the 8th grade students at BFMS had the opportunity to hear from Fruteland Jackson (, a Blues Historian.  This was a beautiful tie into the curriculum the students have been studying and this Blues Project on which they've been working.  Students even had the opportunity to create their own Blues song...great fun!  It was wonderful to see student and teacher engagement high during Fruteland's presentation.

Especially moving was to watch Mr. Cvelbar as he listened to Fruteland speak and play.  It was clear to see the passion he has for Blues music, inspiring kids, and connected learning.  Thanks, Mr. Cvelbar, for inspiring the students of Valparaiso Community Schools.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Blog-days

Don't we all look forward to Fridays?  I know that after my alarm clock goes off Friday morning I know the next morning the alarm clock won't be what jolts me from sleep.  I know that I will get to do something fun Friday evening.  I know that I will probably not cook dinner (even though I do enjoy cooking!).  A change is coming in my routine--and although I'm Type A I do like to deviate from my usual day's schedule sometimes...

With that in mind, I'm going to change what I do on my blog on Fridays, too.  I'm really enjoying writing this blog, although it makes me spend lots of my free time staying current on my educational reading.  But Fridays--I want them to be different here, too!

In 2011 I completed my dissertation for my Ph.D.  Mostly I'm glad those days are over.  One thing I learned was that in most of the dissertation it was not about what I thought--it was about what other people thought.  In first drafts I had to edit many times to remove my thoughts and opinions.  For many of you that know me...I tend to have lots of those!

SO...this is my blog...and I think my Friday Blog-day routine will be to share something that I've been thinking--rather than reporting on what others have been thinking.  If nothing else it will be an interesting experiment for me--and hopefully one that you as the reader will be able to find some meaning in!

With that--I look forward to next Friday (and no alarm clock tomorrow morning)!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ted Talks--it's an Addiction!

I admit it.  I love Ted Talks.  I learn all sorts of things I didn't even know that I cared about!  This one is one that caught my attention recently that I enjoyed watching.  Dan Meyer is a math teacher--and presents some interesting ideas here--check it out!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Balance of Informational and Literary Texts in K-5 and Literary Non-Fiction in Grades 6-12: Opening New Worlds for Teachers and Students

I found this video through a blog that I follow.  Turns out that the Hunt Institute has produced a whole series of videos focused on the Common Core.  They are quick to watch and informative.  While I'm  not going to post the entire series of them on this blog--if you go to YouTube and search for Hunt Institute you can pick ones that may interest you to watch!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Broken Links Restored!

Due to the IDOE changing over to a new website some of my links were broken.  I believe I have now restored them and they all work!  Also--some new content has been added!  I'm hoping this blog can be a "one-stop-shop" for you to find links to the things you need!  Happy Tuesday!

What I Am

Here's a great video that I've heard that a couple of schools in Valparaiso have been watching with their students.  I thought I'd share it with you in case you hadn't heard it yet--pretty fun stuff.  Disclaimer--it's also quite catchy--so you may be singing it all through the day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Have you heard of this website?  Neither had I until last week.  One of our teachers, Kelly Garant was telling me about a project she was working on to bring an author in to speak to students at Flint Lake.  She listed this project on this website and donors (from all over!) can choose to give money to this project or any other project about which they are passionate.  Kelly already completed a project for her Science Bowl team (which placed first in Indiana in their division) and received funding through this website.

As I looked further into this website, I noticed that there are several Valparaiso teachers using it to give an opportunity to support the great things they are doing in their classrooms.  All of them had someone give money to their projects.

One disclaimer--it is a slipper slope once you start looking--lots of people are doing lots of neat things--and it's hard when you want to support lots of great projects!  I commend these teachers for creative projects and creative thinking that allows passionate people with financial resources to support them!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Google Chrome...

I like most things related to technology.  I like to know what things are rolling out and how to use them.  Even as I get older (yes, today I can admit that I'm not the new young pup--but don't ask me tomorrow!) I like to stay current with the latest and greatest technology trends.  I don't need to know how they work or how to program them--but I enjoy things that make me more productive, help me learn new things, and even that are fun.

The other day I was challenged by a fellow administrator (Beth Krutz) as she is using Google Chrome as was touting the things it could do.  I've resisted Google Chrome and had even heard some criticism of it.  For some reason this conversation brought out the competitive, not wanting to fall behind side of me and so I made the leap and downloaded Chrome.

Now I'm fascinated by it.  There are productivity and educational apps for Chrome.  They even have a machine marketed in part with the one-to-one initiatives in mind that is inexpensive and does the basic things devices need to do.  While the jury is still out for what I think of Chrome--you might want to check it out to and see what you think.

For those of you interested in knowing more, here are some interesting things I've read online now that I'm paying attention to headlines that have Google Chrome in them!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Report on Education

Ever wonder where Indiana falls education wise compared to other states?  Check out this report:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


As you know, handwriting standards are not found within the Common Core.  While the Valparaiso Community Schools have yet to make any changes to the curriculum in terms of handwriting, there is an interesting conversation to be had about the purpose of handwriting.  Here's an article Kevin Cessna passed along to me the other day which stimulated some of my thinking:

As a teacher, I was not a big stickler on handwriting.  I rarely take notes by hand.  I do use sticky notes (often covering large portions of my desk!), but those are notes to myself of tasks to accomplish and calls to return.  In my everyday life, I rarely communicate using a pen and paper.

Does this mean that it holds no instructional value for kids?  I don't think I'm ready to draw that conclusion.  I think this article does a great job at highlighting some of the benefits.  I think there's a lot more to come on this discussion as studies continue and as we shift to using the Common Core in all grade levels.