Saturday, December 5, 2015

Lesson Learned


I used to be a "numbers" person. I used to write EVERYTHING down in my running journal - miles, time, distance, heart rate, and even how I felt. When I started biking, in went those numbers, as well. Add in the cross country skiing, then the roller skiing, then the exercise videos. I had these journals filled from 1997-2009.

HUGE life events happened. I switched to walking and biking - A TON.

Moved, changed priorities, tossed my wristwatch, stopped being so obsessive about numbers.

I have an inkling as to where my heart monitor is...

I started this 20-day challenge with a goal. I think I've stoked the embers once again, but I'm not in full "let's get healthy and STAY healthy" mode just yet. The chart helped - this is my lesson from this past week - I NEED a chart or record in order to keep consistent with exercise.

Once the 20 days were over, my chart was complete. Since then, I've only walked TWICE - in five days.


Plans to keep this up - KEEP the chart! I added more paper to the chart today. Yes. Folded and taped it right next to the other. I like seeing the yellow highlighted bars. They keep me motivated! After this chart is finished, I'll figure out something so that I can continue documenting the walks. I may have to resort to a running journal once again.

30-Day Challenge #2 - over and out. (It's never fully finished, is it...?!)

Side note: Since December 1st, I've been taking a photo-a-day again, as well. I'm getting the categories from #cy365. We'll see if I can keep up with this one, too! It'll be easier now that I'm putting them on Instagram, only.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Walking It Off

It's been 19 days into this 20-day challenge. My goal was 10 minutes a day on average, and my REAL goal was 20 minutes a day average. (I just don't like to be disappointed!) As of today, my average is... (drum roll, please...)
Created with Flame Painter
Yes! 19.5 minutes per day average! I like it.

What I've noticed the past two weeks -

  • A pattern - walk three days, take a day off and stretch. The days off are not because I "didn't want to" walk; they're for various reasons.
  • I've lost weight. Wha?? Yes. I had some to lose, and I lost 9 pounds. Crazy, I know.
  • I'm eating better. This is probably because my body is needing different foods!
  • I'm sleeping better. I think it's all the fresh air. I only count my outside walks.
  • I feel good.

I'll keep this up for longer than 20 days. I'll write one more progress report before I share final results with my students. I know this is a great habit to get back into, and I'm excited that biking in the spring will be so much easier when I keep my body moving this upcoming winter.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Walking Into Fall

Week One Progress:

I started on Wednesday of last week - November 11th - because it was such a BEAUTIFUL day outside! I wolfed down my lunch and then got outside during the school day. I walked for 16 minutes and felt so good! Because it felt so good, I ended up taking my last class outside for the second half of the block. The next day was bitter cold and wet out, so I walked after dinner instead - 30 minutes with my love. We tried to walk off that Chipotle burrito! Friday I did not get my walk in... My lower back / hips were achy. I stretched on Friday. It was a good reminder that my back needs to stretch after exercise. (Gosh, it's been too long!) I had to make a decision then... what was my true goal? Walking 10 minutes a day or just making sure I walk when I can? Saturday we walked for 25 minutes and saw progress on the dam in Busse Woods. Today we have plans to walk to Jewel and the library - should be at least 20 minutes.

On Saturday, I also created my chart to keep my progress. Sadly, my highlighter ran out of juice. I'll have to borrow one from the student station... Don't ask me why I chose a highlighter - it was a split-second decision. I made a line for my goal, and then made another line for my real goal... I really think I can walk 20 minutes a day, but I don't want to disappoint myself, so 10 minutes is more "doable." I still hope my average per day is 20 minutes for these 20 days...
Making this chart made me think of my students - how will they document their progress? I know it depends on what they'll choose to do - and that's exciting to me! I made the simple chart that they can copy and edit if they like. (Click on the link or type in They can share their progress through blog posts, video updates, a Google document "viewable by anyone," a paragraph on paper, or an email to me. I'd like to fill up the bulletin board with updates if they're not published for all to see. We'll keep track of just HOW we'll keep track on this spreadsheet.

Whatever happens, I believe getting outside to walk might stick - because I really want it to. I want to be able to get back on that bike this spring and ride long distances once again.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Time to Get Moving - 20-Day Challenge

My students and I will be embarking on a 20-Day Challenge this year - mine starts TODAY!

Inspired by Matt Cutts...

We're cutting it down to 20 days, so that we can fit it in and share our progress before Winter Break. I brainstormed six ideas, and came up with this one that is DAILY, REASONABLE, and it BENEFITS someone (me and my family):

I will walk every day for at least 10 minutes a day.

This will benefit me and my family, because I will be healthier (I never get any exercise these days!), sleep better, and be less crabby (because I'll sleep better - I hope).

Nothing huge here. Nothing life-changing. Helpful, no less. I'll write more next week to journal how many minutes I've walked each day and how it has affected me and my family...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Question of the Day

I like to get students engaged as SOON as they come into the classroom.

I've tweaked this idea I saw on Twitter (or Pinterest?) a few years ago to fit my needs. I use one sheet of magnet paper, cut in in four long strips, then each strip is cut in 1/2 inch widths. Here is how it looks:
(Please excuse the quality of this video - Turns out TubeChop videos don't show up on iPads...)

Our question bank is on this document. Students will be in charge of writing the questions and posting them this next school year.

What questions would you ask? Please leave your questions in the comments below.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

What's My Thing?

This post was written weeks ago... 
I didn't want to post it on my professional blog, then realized it belongs here.

Possible titles for the rambling here…
I’m in a funk.
Emotional Roller Coaster
Silly Thoughts
Why are you reading this post?
I should’ve just put this in a journal.

An editor at Stenhouse contacted me with the possibility of writing a book for them. I sent the email to my love, and he wrote back, “It was only a matter of time.”

Stop. No. We’ve talked about this before. I won’t ever write a book because everything is already written, and I just steal ideas and use them in my classroom. I don’t create anything new. I have no ‘grand idea’ to share. I’m a curator. I collect great ideas, try them in the classroom, and then share out.

But why not? Why not talk to this woman and see what she has to say? There are plenty of teachers out there who haven’t seen any of the ideas I’ve seen. A week later, I was on the phone with her, letting her know what I thought I could write about. She asked me to create an outline. I wrote one, she tweaked it, and I got started writing a book. I was writing a book. This idea totally went to my head, although I didn’t realize it until a few weeks later.

I told my parents. I told two confidantes at work. I told my students. I thought it was a great mini lesson when I told them that the editor made myriad comments to my first chapter that I revised diligently. When I went to visit Paul Solarz’s class on March 13th, I decided to not tell him. (It wasn’t a sure bet anyway...) He was going to be publishing his own book in a week or so! He showed me the cover and I was so very excited for him!

One week later, I received an email. My first rejection letter, I suppose. I wrote about it for my reflection for my 7th graders, and I shared the fact that I was not going to stop. I had already written five chapters. I was going to continue writing! Even if I don’t find a publisher, I can say, “I wrote a book.” How many other people can say that? Isn’t this something everyone dreams of at some point or other? Isn’t it what so many of my Twitter pals are doing - successfully??

Paul’s book came out. Of course I ordered it. It’s been sitting on my stack of books for a few days now. I want to learn from it. I want to take his ideas and run with them in my classroom. Why haven’t I picked it up? Well, it could be because I was reading a fantastic young adult novel (I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson) or it could be because my next professional book is supposed to be Assessment 3.0 (and I’m on chapter 4 of that one). But here’s the real reason: I’d want to write what Paul wrote. I’d want to put it in “my book.” A thought came to me: I suddenly don’t want to continue writing my book. Too many other people have so many stellar ideas. I want to just learn more from others.

Another discussion with my husband today helped me once again. I won’t lose what I’ve written. No one is taking that away from me. I just don’t want to continue down that road at this moment. I’m much more comfortable learning from others. So maybe I won’t ever write a book. Is that so terrible? As Bob loves to say, “Hell no.” Realizing this, I entered a new phase. I wondered, “If I’m not going to write a book, what’s my thing?” I was feeling like a failure for giving up.

All of this happened within the span of five weeks. Just five weeks of my life, and suddenly I think of myself as a failure. Aw, forget Carol Dweck’s Mindset ideas and research. What do I do well? I dabble in everything. Photography. Blogging. Baking. DIYs. Crayon art. I mean, really. What do I do that impacts others? How will I be remembered? What’s my THING? I don’t think I have one.

Gotta get out of this funk. Do I need a "thing" to be remembered by? I remember when I first got on Twitter. It became about getting followers. Then I decided I had to blog like everyone else did. Now I feel as if I need to write a book - just because "everyone else" has? I consider myself a writer, but I’m going to drop this book idea (for now). I’ve GOT to read Paul’s book - this week! It’s calling out to me. Before I do, however, I have to figure out - What do I do well? What’s my thing? I need to write about this so I can move on. It’s silly of me to stay too long in this funk, so I’m realizing what talents or skills I’m grateful for. I’m taking Angela Maiers’s advice - I’m going to realize my genius and do something with it.

I curate ideas. I’ve created many documents that are now crowdsourced, so we can learn from each other. The LiveBinder is currently my “claim to fame” regarding Genius Hour. Need an inspirational quote? I’ve got quite a few. Want some writing prompts? You’ve come to the right place. I collect - virtually. Thank goodness I have a small house, or I might collect more physical items - other than books! Ask me for something, and if I don’t already have it, I will try to find it for you (and then add it to my collection)! It's been suggested I make this site subscription based, so I can earn something from it, but then many people would not be accessing it, and it was meant to be shared.

I try new things. In the classroom, my students help me with this. They are my inspiration, as it should be. Even if we fail, I know we’ll learn from it. Online, my Twitter PLN helps me with this. I began blogging because of them. Writing a book is still a possibility because of them (remember our conversation at #EdCamp302, Avra??). At home, my family helps. I hear a lot of “Sure. Why not?” which I hear myself saying every day at school.

I look on the bright side. If it’s difficult, I do things like writing this post - or talking it out - or singing at the top of my lungs - so I can get out of any silly funk I’m in! I wake up optimistic. Every new day is a blank slate, and anything could happen! I steer away from complaints and encourage and share the positives instead.

I stick with ideas that work, and ditch ideas that don’t. I’ve been making a day-by-day calendar for my husband since we’ve met. He knows what he’s getting each Christmas - a gift of blood and sweat! My brownies and cupcakes will always be from a box. When I purchase a piece of clothing, a piece must go to Goodwill. I will keep a care bag in each vehicle at all times. The book idea isn’t working for me right now, so it will be kept in my Google Docs sleeping, and I will stick with blog posts. The Easter bunny cake I created last year took WAY too long, so this year I went back to chocolate-covered strawberries. I do what works, until it’s time for a change.

I love. I love my husband more than anything. My students and family are second. I don’t hold back when it comes to letting them know how much they matter. (I need to get better at this with more staff at my school.) I enjoy sharing how much I appreciate the little things in life. “Gratitude” is still my “one word.” I was reminded of this today when I was in this funk. I’m an emotional girl - I let myself feel. Thank you to my loved ones for letting me be who I am, and accepting me as such the fool - especially on days like this when I’m on an emotional roller coaster and too focused on myself.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My First Rejection Letter

Well, I have to say that this has got to be my best Genius Hour project yet. It has been the one I've stuck with the longest, and the one I feel I've worked the hardest at. So why am I a bit bummed? I received my first rejection letter on March 24th...

I didn't cry. Not one tear. I wondered why, because I cry at everything - good and bad! I figured it out this week, as I CONTINUED to write the book. I don't NEED to write a book. I never did. This woman contacted me, out of the blue, to see if we could come up with a book idea. I have told Bob time and time again that I can't write a book - everyone else has already written the ones I'd write about, and they know so much more! Together, we've figured out that I'm a great CURATOR. I curate ideas and steal them to use in the classroom.

So why am I going to continue to write this book? I like it. I enjoy putting ideas on paper (well, Google Docs) that people might actually benefit from some day. I enjoy organizing it so it makes sense. I enjoy ... dare I say it? ... the challenge. It's tough. But guess what? I have NO deadline! No one is pressuring me to write a book! No publisher may ever pick it up! When I'm done, however, I'll be able to say, "I wrote a book." This, in itself, has become my motivation this week.

Here is the new spreadsheet (the older one is the other tab) - with my new goal of 25 minutes a day of writing on average. I believe my reading will stay consistent - it's much easier to get in 20 minutes of reading than writing - so I took that off the chart. I'm going to try for a one-month goal of 25 minutes a day........ Therefore, no updates on this blog until the first of May! If I can accomplish this goal, I'll share my writing with two other publishers to see what they say... (I'll brace myself prior - eek! - but I will be writing a book, no matter what they say!)