Reflections on ASCD

Friday, March 30, 2012 | | 0 comments

I just returned from my first ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) Annual Conference in Philadelphia. My Dad has been attending this very same conference for as long as I can remember, at least the early 90s. He always came back with increased enthusiasm for his work, re-energized to lead his school, and great new ideas for becoming a better teacher and administrator. When I was young, I was convinced I would never become a teacher. Teachers are under paid, under appreciated, and over worked. Why would anyone want to become a teacher, I wondered?

As it turns out, teaching also comes with rewards: the look in a student's eye when the concept suddenly clicks, the pride radiating from students when they do well on a tough assignment, and, more often, past students returning and thanking you for teaching them. As it turns out, those rewards far exceed the pay, appreciation, and hard work. So, as you know, I'm now a "teacher." Why do I put teacher in quotes? Because I'm a college (gasp) teacher. I wasn't formally trained to teach. All of my understanding of the teaching profession comes from my parents and the countless workshops I've attended.

And now I can add ASCD to that list!

My ASCD experience began with a Welcome Reception. I'm glad I attended this reception, as it gave me an idea of the magnitude of this conference. I think I heard a final estimate of 8,000 attendees from over 30 different countries. Compared to my experiences at other conferences (ITAA and CSA) this is HUGE! The feel I got being in the company of 8,000 intelligent, passionate, motivated teachers and administrators is indescribable. Imagine a group of 8,000 people who care so much about future generations that they dedicated their lives to educating students and continue to try to be the best educators they can be. It is really difficult for me to wrap my mind around it.

And one of those educators was my Dad! Yes, my Dad was able to join me for my first ASCD experience. However, for the first time in his career, he wasn't attending to present or attend sessions, he was an exhibitor for Columbia College this year! After 30+ years as a teacher and administrator, my Dad retired and became a recruiter for the online Master of Arts program at Columbia College in Columbia, MO. He spent the entire conference shmoozing with fellow teachers and administrators. Yes, I think he was in Heaven.

I, on the other hand, had serious business to attend to. I had to select the sessions I wanted to attend! After reading every single description, I eliminated a few because they were geared toward a younger student, or they were more suited for administrators than teachers, or they didn't suit my interests. Even after filtering all those out, I had about 5 sessions at each time slot that I wanted to attend. My Dad helped me narrow them down a little further based on the presenters he knew were exceptional. In the end, I decided to attend the following sessions:

I attended the following sessions:

It's Not About the Bling: Effective Technology Integration Trough an Instructional Lens
Debra Pickering, Marzano Research Lab, Littleton, CO
Loni Ghiorso, Kalei Eskridge, and Cheryl Dultz, San Juan Unified School District, CA

The Science of Extreme Storm Chasing
Reed Timmer, TVN Leader Storm Chase, Meteorologist, Discovery Education, Silver Spring, MD

Transformational Technology Integration: Using Google Tools for Education
Char Shryock, Bay Village City Schools, Avon Lake, OH

Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions
Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, The Right Question Institute, Cambridge, MA

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lecture
Rick Smith and Grace Dearborn, Conscious Teaching, Fairfax, CA

The Checklist Manifesto
Atul Gawande, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Developing Creative Confidence and Innovation Skills Through Design Thinking
Deborah Parizek, Henry Ford Learning Institute, Dearborn, MI
Cora Christmas, Henry Ford Academy, Dearborn, MI

 Be a Dynamic Trainer
Laurie Kagan, Kagan Publishing and Professional Development, San Clemente, CA

Engaging Students with Mobile Technology: Using iPads to Address Student Diversity
Daniel Espejo, Edmonton Catholic Schools, Alberta, Canada
Jennifer Harasimiuk, Susana Gerndt, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

From Novice to Pro: What Young Professionals Need to Know
Kevin Scott, ASCD, Alexandria, VA
Patricia Dickeson, Victoria Ayam, Dave Stovenour, Alina Davis, ASCD Emerging Leaders

Mobile Applications for Learning
Helen Mowers and Shari Ehly, Killeen Independent School District, TX

Don't get me wrong, ASCD isn't all work and no play. Teachers are the best at working hard and playing hard. If you're familiar with ASCD, then you're probably familiar with the magazine Educational Leadership. One of the conference's more popular play activities was the opportunity to have your picture put on the cover of your very own Educational Leadership cover! At times during the conference, the line for this photobooth was 30-40 minutes long! Luckily, I was in the know. (The Columbia College booth was right across from the EL Photobooth) so I was one of the first to have my picture taken. I'm now ASCD Famous.

My favorite part of the ASCD Annual Conference was the social media presence. There was a great group sharing information via Twitter, the @ASCD Tweeters were phenomenal, and I came away with an entirely new group of friends, colleagues, and Twitter followers. As one person stated in a tweet, if you didn't have a presence on Twitter this weekend, you  missed half the conference. So true. I also enjoyed the many conference sessions dedicated to the use of social media, both as a professional develop tool and a tool to engage students in the classroom.

Eventually every conference comes to an end. But I'm already pumped for the 2013 ASCD Annual Conference in Chicago. Perhaps I'll even present! Who knows. I look forward to seeing you all  next year!

Three is a Family

Thursday, March 29, 2012 | | 1 comments

This little guy lights up our life. It never ceases to amaze me how dogs seem to love unconditionally. They may annoy us sometimes, or chew up our favorite shoes, or bark incessantly at the dogs in the apartment across the street, but our furry friends hold a special place in our hearts.

Give your furry friend a hug from me and a sniff from Huxley.



A Brunch at Feast

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | | 1 comments

Eric and I have made a habit out of enjoying the delicious Sunday Brunch at Feast. We first discovered Feast when we moved to Bloomington over the summer, they sell tamales at the Farmer's Market for breakfast. We instantly fell in-love with their tamales and later fell in-love with the restaurant. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that we discovered their Sunday brunch. But we were hooked after our first meal.

On this particular Sunday, I had the The Grange Baked Eggs. It had lamb sausage and tomatoes over perfectly baked eggs and topped with greens. In the past, I've tried the Croque Madame (one of my faves) the Breakfast Tamales (a house staple) and the Feast Omlette. I've yet to try something I didn't love. They also have table-top French Press coffee available, which became a favorite of mine last week. Their drip coffee is fine, but there is something a little luxurious (and tasty) about French Press.

Although we've been sitting inside the last few weeks due to cold weather, this past Sunday we enjoyed the 70-something degree weather on their patio. One of the things I really adore about Bloomington is that most of the restaurants offer outdoor seating. Since Feast is such a small restaurant, their outdoor seating is essential. I always prefer the extra room outdoors when the weather allows, sometimes it feels a bit crowded indoors. So if you live in Bloomington, or find yourself in the South-Central part of Indiana, stop by Feast for a lovely meal.

Reading List

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | | 0 comments

It has been a while since I've posted about the books I'm reading. I just finished Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson and I was hooked after reading the first page. It is definitely a "page-turner." I couldn't put it down! This is the book assigned for the April Book Club I'm in and I had it read by March 16th! It is about a middle-aged woman who lost her ability to retain memories. Her mind resets when she sleeps at night and every morning she wakes up thinking she is in her 20s. She doesn't remember yesterday, the previous weeks, the fact that she had a child, or her husband. But how did she come to be this way? Is she getting better?

Prior to reading Before I Go to Sleep, I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Yes, I'm way behind the bandwagon on this one. I know everyone was talking about it like a year ago. But, despite my late arrival to the show, I greatly enjoyed it! It is a feel-good book, for sure. There was no real "problem" or "suspense" or question needing answered. It was just the story of an author and the relationships she developed while writing a story about a literary society formed during World War II. The characters are delightful, I think I liked every single one of them, but also very well developed. The book is written as a series of letters and I enjoyed "discovering" the story through these letters. It was an easy read and a good story.

Finally I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is considered a children's book which was reflected in the writing style but not the content. It seems to be written from the perspective of death, which I think took away from an otherwise fantastic story. The book is about a young girl who steals books during World War II. The fact that she steals books is sort of a secondary theme to her life as a child during the war. Her family struggles to make moral decisions during this time, needing to choose between helping a Jewish friend or doing what is best for their family. The book-stealing keeps the story moving and ties certain scenes together. It took me awhile to get into the book, but I'm glad I finished it. Overall, it was a great book that I would recommend. Funny how I'm reading so many books about World War II.

Happy Reading!

Oliver Winery

Monday, March 26, 2012 | | 0 comments

I'm a little embarrassed that Eric and I just visited this little piece of paradise for the first time about a week ago. I thought that local winery back in Columbia, MO was amazing, but Oliver Winery takes it to a whole new level. Now, the weather could not have been any more beautiful, so that may be swaying my opinion. But overall, we had such an incredible experience, we can't wait to go back!

Visitors have the option of buying cheese and crackers or bringing their own food. All alcohol must be purchased on the premises, and the winery offers to cork bottles for you. Visitors may also participate in the wine tasting, for $5 they can taste up to 8 wines. Eric and I chose to try the Pinot Grigio and we purchased some goat cheese and crackers.

There is ample outdoor seating, the parking lot seemed busy but there were more than enough places for visitors to sit and enjoy a bottle of wine. We had the option of sitting at tables on the oversized, wrap-around porch, or we could sit on picnic tables surrounding the lake, or we could even bring our own blanket and set up a picnic. Eric and I chose a nice space in the shade on the porch.

Every half hour, Oliver Winery features mini-tours. We decided to participate in the tour. We didn't get to see much (as compared to our experiences touring Napa Valley on our honeymoon) but our tour guide was very knowledgeable and we actually learned more about the process of making wine on this tour that any of the tours in Napa.

Eric and I each brought books to read, but we found people watching and chatting took up most of our time. It was fun to watch children feed the fish, the dogs play in the field, and couples enjoying time with their families. The atmosphere can't be beat. We are already planning our next trip (perhaps the weekend of our wedding anniverary?!) 

If you haven't been to Oliver Winery, and you find yourself in the South Central area of Indiana, please stop by! You won't regret a few hours enjoying this fabulous atmosphere.

For more information about Oliver Winery, click here.














The B-Line Trail

Friday, March 23, 2012 | | 0 comments

This Spring Break, Eric and I made an effort to enjoy the unusually beautiful weather we're having in Indiana. One of the ways we chose to enjoy the great outdoors was to take Huxley walking on the B-line Trail in Bloomington. The trail is about 3 miles long, beginning at Adams Street and ending at Country Club Drive. We had often heard of the trail, but we hadn't found time to enjoy it!


The trail features street name paver treatments at each crossing, a human/pet drinking fountain, park benches, limestone accents, trees, and landscaping. Some sections feature energy-efficient LED fixtures. There are seven small plaza areas throughout the trail and two fitness stations just south of First Street.


Huxley absolutely adores walking on the trail. There are many smells, friendly dogs, lots of grass patches, and kids wanting to pet him. You'd think that we don't give him any attention at home by the way he acts when he gets attention from strangers. And, of course, he gets LOTS of attention from strangers. He is still a puppy, so we're still working on keeping him calm when he sees other dogs. He gets so excited and wants to say "hi" to all of them!


Eric and I really enjoy learning about history. Thus, one of my favorite parts of the B-Line are these stations that tell us a little Bloomington history. I love the old images of buildings nearby so I can see how time has affected the town. I love seeing how things have changed over time, for better or worse. There are some really cool old buildings lining the trail.


Bloomington has public art all across town, but the B-Line Trail seems to be especially decorated with fun art by local students and artists. The Bloomington website says the following about the art work pictured below:
Art Across the Americas partnered with Cornerstone Information Systems to create a mural on the east side of Cornerstone's building that faces the B-Line Trail. The mural is the result of the exchange program, Art Across the Americas, that began in the summer of 2008 when 12 students from Bloomington traveled to San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala to paint a mural on the side of a textile shop in the city. Students from Guatemala traveled to Bloomington in June and July, 2009 to paint the mural along the B-Line Trail.
The mural is titled "Worlds Apart, Always Connected"


Below is an image of a piece of the trail. My favorite features include the ample lighting, the large width (plenty of space for pedestrians and bicyclists and dogs.)


Have I mentioned that Huxley LOVES walking the B-line?! :)


There are three fitness stations located on the B-Line Trail. They were provided by IU Health and offer B-Line walkers an opportunity to get a total body workout: balance, upper body, lower body, abs, and stretching. Although I haven't stopped to try them out, I've seen several other walkers taking advantage of this trail addition. It seems to be well enjoyed by the Bloomington community!



One of my favorite features is the public art throughout the trail. The piece below was designed by Joe LaMantia & Stone Belt Artisans in collaboration with Bruce's Welding and Fabrication. It is entitled "Animal Island." The Bloomington website says this about the art:
This collaborative work, by clients and staff of Stone Belt Arc, was the first to be installed on the B-Line Trail. It represents an ongoing partnership between the City of Bloomington and Stone Belt, a local nonprofit that provides education and support to persons with disabilities. Designed and created by Stone Belt clients, this piece is comprised largely of salvaged materials, embodying Bloomington's philosophy of sustainability. The bright colors and whimsical animals speak to the countless children and children-at-heart who use the trail. Atop each animal is an equally colorful and imaginative weather vane, alluding to the fish that tops the Bloomington Courthouse. Mosaic stepping stone flowers in the sidewalk invite people to walk around and explore each animal.



Thursday, March 22, 2012 | | 0 comments

I've gotten myself in this rut, wearing the same earrings every day. I always wear two sets of pearl earrings, one slightly larger than the other (when I was in high school, I had a second set piercings in each ear.) I used to like the pearls, I thought the juxtaposition between the traditional pears and the nontraditional two piercings. But recently, I've been tired of the two pearls.

So when the wonderful people of Anjolee asked me to do a product review of a pair of earrings, I couldn't believe my luck! As I perused their website, I really enjoyed playing around with the multiple views and 360 degree rotation. I also enjoyed customizing my own piece. Although many of the images are showing diamonds, the customer has the option of replacing the diamonds with a stone of their choice.

I chose a garnet. Why? Because Indiana University is doing so well in March Madness! My Hoosier Pride is just radiating from me these days!

When the earrings arrived, they were packaged in a nice red box, were perfectly polished, and glistening against the white interior of the box. It felt like a little present to myself! I've worn these earrings with many outfits, the garnets are a dark red so they match many things. They can be casual (I've worn them with sweaters and jeans), they can be semi-casual like I'm wearing them today, or they would look lovely with a little black dress. The best part about these studs? They look great with my pearls so I can change up my look every once in awhile without completely forgoing my pearls.

I was able to choose between a variety of Diamond Earrings, including Diamond Hoops. I thought the website did a great job showcasing their jewelry, some jewelry websites are difficult to navigate, hard to judge quality, and overall frustrating. But the jewelry is just as beautiful in person as they are on the website. Rest assured you're getting exactly the jewelry you imagine.

So, do you have a special occasion coming up? A birthday? An anniversary? A Monday?
Treat yourself to a pair of Diamond Hoop Earrings or change out the diamonds for your stone of choice, like I did!



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