Top Ten #ISTE18 TakeAways

Where to begin?! I am truly grateful to have been given the amazing opportunity by my school district to attend my first International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference this past week, held here at McCormick Place in Chicago. I was very excited when I first learned I was going but even more appreciative after attending and experiencing first-hand the invaluable connections and immense resources. I’m quite certain I made some new lasting relationships with colleagues, and have loads of material and ideas to bring back to school. Here are just some of my highlights:

  1. Presenting William Fremd High School’s #TeacherTakeover Social Media Event: My school’s Digital Democracy team, Viking Network, had the privilege of taking part in a learner-centered collaboration with The Teacher’s Guild, an innovative community bringing teachers together, and was chosen as a favorite to speak at #ISTE18 in the “Digital Citizenship & Design Thinking: Build Ideas for your Classroom session! I was honored to represent Fremd at #ISTE18 and share amongst long-distance colleagues! The room full of fellow educators truly inspired me with their earnest feedback and inquiries about building school culture and empowering students through positive social media usage!  It was such an uplifting, worthwhile experience to connect with everyone including Alysha English of The Teacher’s Guild as well as other collaboration favorites I admire very much, like Katey Hileman and Gail Desler. (who I met later at ISTE‘s #DigCit PLN meeting!). I know we will keep in touch and continue learning from each other. If interested, the #TeacherTakeover presentation is available HERE.

Sharing Fremd High School’s #TeacherTakeover at ISTE18 “Digital Citizenship & Design Thinking” session

2. Sitting in a research paper session with Dr. Kristen Mattson sharing her dissertation, “Moving Beyond Personal Responsibility: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Digital Citizenship Curricula: There were many of us at a smaller table setting, affording opportunity to informally chat on our pedagogical beliefs about the incorporation of digital citizenship in our classrooms and schools. I was super excited to meet Dr. Mattson after following her tweets, and her book was literally sitting in my “Wish List” on Amazon to purchase. Glad I snagged one before it sold out the next day at ISTE. I just started reading, and already have take-aways within Chapter 1.  I can’t wait to share with the team back at school, and gain more inspiration from Kristen!

Side note: the educational world is powerfully small – one of us sitting in the session was an educator from West Leyden (my mom’s alma mater!) who just happens to also be a Fremd parent. I have to say I truly enjoyed making the connections at ISTE!

3. Joining ISTE’s #DigCit PLN On the last morning of the conference, I excitedly walked into a room full of like-minded educators who came together to meet and share ideas for empowering our students to be participatory, empowered digital (and RL!) citizens. There, I met some wonderful new #digcit colleagues like Nancy Watson and chatted again with Dr. Kristen Mattson. I had the chance to share a little bit about Viking Network‘s first year in creating #digcit awareness amongst our students, and can’t wait to get more involved!

At ISTE”s #DigCit PLN meeting

Check out ISTE’s #DigCitCommit Moment for more highlights (thank you, ISTE, for including my tweet amongst so many great #digcitcommit declarations).

4. Re-joining Illinois Computing Educators (ICE): – I was a previous happy member of this local ISTE affiliate, and spoke at the 2014 ICE annual conference about Blogging in the Classroom, but hadn’t renewed my membership in a couple of years. I’m glad I did, and look forward to participating and giving back to our local community! 

5. Joining the ISTE EdTech Coaches Network: I just found out at #ISTE18 that my application to become one of my school’s technology coaches next year was accepted, and I couldn’t be more excited! Integrating technology to best help students create, learn and grow is another passion of mine, and I can’t wait to help my colleagues in every way I can. Soooo the first place I went after finding out was upstairs to ISTE’S EdTech Coaches playground!!! The playground areas at ISTE are set up as fun destinations to gain loads of resources in a small amount of space and time. Ed tech specialists were gathered amongst various tables and small groups, offering snippets of resources in moments.

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#ISTE18 Playground

6. Meeting some of my idols: When creating my program agenda, I sifted through the ISTE program, searching for EdTech superstars I’ve been following on Twitter.

I was eager to hear Shaelynn Farnsworth and Web20Classroom speak about Differentiation: Meeting the Diverse Needs of of Learners with Technology., and was lucky to chat with Shaelynn afterward for a few minutes for advice. Thank you, Shaelynn!! Your resources are always useful – you’re inspiring!!

with Shaelynn Farnsworth

I combed through the exhibit hall to make it in time to see Alice Keeler speak about “Pulling the Paragraph” in Google Docs. Thank you, Alice! Your tech tips are indispensable! And the selfies were fun!! Check out a previous blog I wrote about one of Alice’s book HERE.

with Alice Keeler

And  . . .

Eric Curts, Matt Miller, Vicki Davis, Kasey Bell

7. Watching Vicki Davis,Kasey Bell,Matt Miller and Eric Curts share their best Tech Tips during “Goog Smacked” . . . sitting third row center:. I seriously didn’t stop taking notes all hour except to take a couple pics (oh, and catch a “Shake Up Learning” t-shirt from Kasey Bell!!). . . these four superstars shared one after the other after the other. If you blinked, you missed something. Thank you to each of you for an hour well-spent!!

8.Listening to Keynote Speakers Andy Weir, author, former software engineer; Katie Martin, Ph.D., education leader, teacher and author; Michael Cohen, designer, educator and creativity instigator. I sat down that Tuesday morning and felt sincerely grateful to be sitting in that auditorium, and have opportunity to hear these incredibly inspirational educators. Below is something from Katie Martin’s presentation that resonated with me. I just ordered her book, Learner-Center Innovation, and can’t wait to dive in and gain more inspiration from her!

Check out Katie’s ISTE moment on Twitter HERE for more (thank you, Katie, for including my tweet!):

Katie Martin – just one of many resonating moments for me

9. Creating at Apple’s #EveryoneCanCreate station: Many thanks to Tricia Fuglestad for letting me know about this! (another fun connection: Tricia was the first person I met at ISTE, standing in line for coffee . . . she’s an award-winning, impactful art teacher who student taught at Fremd!) Apple set up an interactive mural set up encouraging attendees to draw and play. Yours truly is not an artist by any means so I opted to sketch a “Post Positive” reminder instead just to try out Tayasui Sketches I will say, though, that I already downloaded the app; it’s super easy to use and I can see its value for student use for projects or posts!

#EveryoneCanCreate

10. Scavenging around the exhibit hall: I walked away from the exhibit hall with an armful of information from a slew of ed tech vendors – Alexa in the Classroom (this is so interesting to me!), Google for Education, Apple, new digital research platforms, student portfolio platforms, digital writing platforms . . . the list goes on. Swag is always fun – especially when it includes items that I can bring back to share with my colleagues!

 

Honestly, my biggest takeaway has been the invaluable connections – it’s the conversations I had the chance to have with both local and distant colleagues that inspire me the most. Like it or not, our digital life is fast becoming as much a part of our world as our real life (or RL, as I often heard at ISTE). Now more than ever, it’s important to work together as we empower our students to be participatory, proactive citizens – both digitally and IRL!

Writers Week 2017

I am honored and lucky to work at Fremd High School – where great things happen every day, where students inspire with their eagerness to learn while teachers touch lives with their passions and knowledge. One particular week I feel blessed to be a part of is Writers Week. Founded twenty-three years by now retired English teachers Gary Anderson and Tony Romano, and now tirelessly run by English teachers Gina Enk and Russ Anderson, Writers Week is an annual celebration of writing during which professional writers, students and faculty share their stories to help us better understand writing and authors. It offers wonderful opportunity for students to make the connection between what we do in the classroom and the outside world they are preparing for. Writers Week always inspires my students to write more and I’m inspired write along with them!

The following is just a taste of the many, many memorable moments that stick out in my mind of Writers Week 23. For a complete video archive of each period, each day, visit the Writers Week video archive HERE. Writers Week certainly inspired me to write more, and what better way to start than with Writers Week itself!!

Students:

Months before, students are invited to submit their writing to share during Writers Week. Every year, many, many students stand bravely in front of the auditorium filled with their peers and teachers. One of my own AP Language students shared her Indian culture and passion for dance while a beautiful video of her recital played behind her as she read; and, another of my Expository Composition students shared a comical rhyming “roast,” as well as her “This I Believe” essay – two proud teacher moments for me! So many students disclosed bravely – one talked about overcoming cancer, another about getting over her grandmother’s death, another revealed she suffered from social anxiety while another shared her love for her favorite stuffed animal. Such courageous sharing going on!

I’ve never seen a more polite, supportive audience of peers through all of this. Students shared lessons learned – one talked about finding that “firework moment” in which you learn and grow, one declared that bad days make good days even better, while another told stories from teaching preschool depicting how little kids say the darnedest things. One of the co-editors of The Logue, the school newspaper I co-advise, eloquently spoke of Muslim contributions to the U.S. and the fact that many are simply scared of what they don’t know  . . to which she received a standing ovation!! Unbelievable, goose-bump moment!  I could go on . . . . over fifty students spoke throughout the course of the five days.

This year, students were lucky to here from a former student as well. Erin Dismeier, a 2009 grad and radio broadcast producer came to speak to students about writing for the radio, and how different that is. Students had a chance to hear a sampling of her actual broadcasts! It’s important for students to see the success of alumni who started out like them.

Faculty

In addition to the students, faculty takes part in the sharing. Virtually every department in the school has been represented with teachers sharing their own writing. It’s eye-opening for students to see that their science or P.E. or math teachers write too! This year, for instance, science teacher Brad Graba shared the importance of being scientifically literate, business teacher Brittany Seivers illustrated – through her own personal story – how we are all going through something but that’s what ultimately unites us, and world language teacher Andrea Fritz shared own writing inspired by her mom. And having her parents there was very touching for the students, I might add. Of course, it wouldn’t be Writers Week without English teachers writing: Eric Schaeffer shared a re-count of when he courageously took part in Running with the Bulls in Pamplona; Grant Dawson shared his two-week jury duty experience, English t.a. Torie Eldridge told about overcoming the death of her mom, Marilyn Berdick wrote a fun story about the Cubs (and sang!); Jaclyn Han recited her own versions of Encyclopedia of Me and Russ Anderson wrote about sharing his love for the Cubs with his own children. The unbelievable amount of sharing going on during this week is like at no other school.

Moreover, Fremd students have been lucky to have a chance to hear from three retired English teachers, coming back to share in the writing celebration. Gary Anderson, co-founder of Writers Week, has never missed a year of presenting. For his 23rd year, he bravely disclosed about his strained relationship with his own father. Tony Romano, co-founder of Writers Week, previewed a few chapters of his third, new book to be published, and Kevin Breuner recited one of his stories titled “Original Sin,” a story from his youth playing golf. The different perspectives the students gain about writing . . . about life . . . .  is something they will remember for a long time.

Professional Writers:

Mary Fons:  Mary Fons is a regular Writers Week favorite. She is a writer, quilter, designer and teaches a storytelling class at the University of Chicago.  Students and faculty alike adore and are inspired by her as she shares her knowledge of storytelling. I am especially impressed with her willingness to put herself out there, to write what she knows and feels and live with passion – this is fabulous for students to see! One challenge she offered students is to write lipograms, a composition in which the writer intentionally omits a particular letter of the alphabet. What a way to challenge the writing muscles! 

Rebecca Makkai: Rebecca Makkai is a fictional writer, with works including the short story collection, Music in Wartime and The Hundred-Year House, a novel about the secrets of an old-money family. She shared her own insight into storytelling and writing, pointing out that the best stories are ones in which characters change both internally and externally. Hearing a professional author talk about the story arc solidifies for the students what they practice within their own classroom writing.

Taylor Mali: Taylor Mali has been to Fremd’s Writers Week numerous times but this was my first time seeing him live – and I left inspired! We read poetry in class, we have the kids write poetry but, man, to have them hear poetry being read from the poet himself is exciting for kids. Mali orally interpreted quite a few of his poems, including “What Teachers Make” (per the request of a student in the audience), and interestingly declared that teaching is a lot like poetry – both instruct and entertain. He’s got a good point . . . we’re not just there to teach the content but to relate to students in such a way that they buy in, that they see connections, that they see want to learn.

AJ Pine: Amy Pine is a former English teacher at Fremd High School and a published new adult author of four different series of novels. As she herself indicated to her audience at WW, what we do in the classroom does connect to life outside – and what better way to see that then through the success of one of the student’s own former teachers. Amy talked about everything from the importance of digital citizenship to how to be disciplined enough to sit down and write a book.

Tyehimba Jess: Tyehimba Jess, acclaimed poet and author of Leadbelly and Ollo, shared a number of his pieces, including a concrete sonnet, a sonnet that visually conveys the meaning of the piece the graphic arrangement of the words themselves, as well as an intriguing crown of sonnets, a sequence of sonnets usually addressing one subject or person. The preceding and succeeding sonnets are linked by repeating the last line of the preceding sonnet to the first line of the succeeding. What was most fascinating about Tyehimba’s sequence is that the sequence makes complete sense no matter the order of the reading of the sonnets: up and down, left to right, diagonally. Now that is a challenge . . . one of my colleagues was so inspired, he started to write his own sonnet sequence to his wife for Valentine’d Day.

Jeremy McCarter: Jeremy McCarter enthralled students with the story of how his book Hamilton: The Revolution came into being born. As he stated at one point, ideas waiting to come out of our brains and into realization is like feeling “super pregnant” with ideas inside of us growing and waiting to become real. And while success may sometimes look fore-ordained, it’s not. What seems to come together well is only through hard work along with many trials and tribulations. McCarter recommends reading Stephen Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat for further writing inspiration. The premise of the book is “content dictates form” . . . we can’t prejudge how to achieve something until we know what we want to achieve. It is only then we can start to take the steps to achieve that something. So true.

Students running up to meet Andrew McCarty, co-author of

Students running up to meet Jeremy McCarter, co-author of Hamilton: The Revolution

G Neri : YA author G Neri, author of the popular graphic novel, Yummy, spoke of the importance of reading fiction to gain empathy. Something he said that still resonates with me is “When you start to open up to opportunities, opportunity opens up to you.” This is so very true – the more open you are, the more opportunities come your way. Students need to hear this, and hearing it from someone other than their usual teachers makes it even more impactful.

Joe Meno and Billy Lombardo: Joe Meno is Chicago fiction author and playwright; Billy Lombardo is a Chicago fiction author and educator. For two class periods, the two writers shared their writing and had a unique personal conversation about writing as they sat side-by-side on the stage. They asked each other questions before inviting students to do the same. Students thoughtful questions attested to the audience interest.

The above are just a sampling of the many, many inspiring, impactful moments of Writers Week. I did not list every presenter, just a sampling. Every period of every day brought more learning, more insight, more inspiration for students and teachers alike. Day after day, students left chatting about what they just saw on stage . . . left inspired to write a bit more and inspired to read a bit more. Bottom line, Writers Week makes us all a bit more nice to each other, a bit more glad to do what we get to do every day in the classroom – share our own passions for reading and writing with our students.

 

 

An Old Girl and The Sea – a.k.a. What I did over Summer 2016

We are all connected by our love of travel!

This year, my family splurged on an 8-day trip to Cuba for my mother’s birthday. I took advantage of the opportunity and planned for a unique educational exposition I would never forget!

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” ~Sir Richard Burton

It’s an eye-opening experience to visit a third-world, underdeveloped country. It puts the modernized stress we place on ourselves into much-needed perspective. Everything in Cuba is contently old-fashioned. For instance, you won’t find an American car newer than a 1962 model (one result from the 1962 U.S. embargo against Cuba).  Mind you, those cars are in pristine condition as pride in ownership runs rampant.

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As a high school English teacher, I was especially excited to visit Ernest Hemingway’s old stomping grounds and his home in Cuba, where he resided for more than 20 years. His sailboat, Pilar, that he fished on many times not unlike the protagonist in his novella The Old Man and the Sea, still sits decaying off a Caribbean coast. (Fun fact: Ernest’s widow, Mary, wanted to have it sunk so no one could use it again, but Cuban government red tape prevented that from happening). Where allowed, I took pictures to show my students. For instance, we spent quite a bit of time talking to the owner of Hemingway’s favorite restaurant, LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO, who explained how Hemingway’s family, including granddaughter Mariel, still come by when visiting Cuba. Interestingly, a Cuban resident who overheard our conversation that I’m an English teacher, proceeded to show me pictures around the restaurant of other Spanish poets who’ve frequented there. Just a great example of the congeniality of Cuba.

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on wall at LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO

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Hemingway’s grandson

Hemingway's granddaughter

Hemingway’s granddaughter

Mario Beneditti, poet

Mario Beneditti, poet

Miguel Bonasso, screenwriter

Miguel Bonasso, screenwriter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They say everything happens for a reason. Now I know why I never read  The Old Man and the Sea before . . . because I had to read it in its authentic setting!!! Let me just say that lying on a serene, peaceful beach off the Caribbean coast, staring at the very sea in which Santiago’s fishing adventures take place was awe-inspiring. For the record, Hemingway did not write Old Man in Cuba – he actually wrote that in another beautiful setting, the Bahamas. Nevertheless, living for over twenty years ten miles out of Havana had an impact on Hemingway’s writing. I will never forget reading that book in that location. Imagine what an assignment it would be to require students read a book within the setting illustrated within that book!! Safe settings only, of course. One of the main benefits of reading is our ability to experience faraway cultures we may not otherwise have the chance to.

VeraderoBeach

Besides learning more about Hemingway, our trip to Cuba included visits to Museum of the Revolution, breathtaking cathedrals, baseball games and music. We also took a 3-hour bike tour for a unique perspective of the outskirts of Havana. We saw military sites, memorial monuments, the Colon Cemetery (no pictures allowed!), and dedicated parks and forest preserves.

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Obama loosened travel restrictions to Cuba in September 2015 and, in doing so, he expanded for travelers who have a humanitarian or educational purpose. We have to get visas, but that extra effort is worth it. The president’s visit to Cuba in March 2016 additionally lead the way for further congenial relations.

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Plaza de la Catedral

Although the United States’ past relationship with Cuba may have portrayed the country as unsafe for travel, it is extremely safe. We talked extensively to Cuban residents and officials who reiterate that Cuba’s crime statistics indicate that it’s one of the safest countries in the world. We walked off the beaten path a few times and felt completely safe and welcome. Just brush up on your Spanish as English is not the dominant language.

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Communication outside of Cuba was a challenge. There is no cellular data. Wi-Fi is available only at certain hotels, and even that has many time and site restrictions too. Honestly, it was wonderful to see local people always socializing, always out and about, even very late into the evening . . . simply talking. No hunched shoulders behind screens!! One other small but very significant detail – travelers used to modern necessities need to bring their own of everything – and I do mean everything (toilet paper, anyone?). Stores are far and few between, and those that exist hold limited supplies; but, the local artisans selling their handmade unique art will make you forget the “necessities” we choose to spend our money on.

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on the Prado

The food was delicious and fresh. Cubans eat well with what their Earth provides. Seafood, sweet potatoes and plantains are plentiful.

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Who knows how Cuba might change radically within the next few years. Will pro-America slogans start to emerge? Will signs of capitalism bring more goods and services? Signs point to yes but I’m blessed to have had the unique opportunity to venture forth now, to experience Cuba at its most authentic. The world is our authentic classroom.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ~Gustave Flaubert

Endearing Endings/Bright Beginnings

August 22, 2001 sounds like it was a long time ago but, in so many ways, it feels like a super short period. Last week, I completed my 13th year teaching at Palatine High School.  I earned so much invaluable experience serving as educator to the PHS students and gained so many cherished friendships with colleagues – I would not trade one day of my tenure as a Pirate.   To broaden my professional growth, however, I am excited to write that I transferred to Palatine’s sister school on the other side of town, William Fremd High School!!  As of this week, a Viking helmet takes the place of the Pirate hat on my head.

I’ve felt connections to Fremd for quite some time.  My daughter graduated in 2010 with nothing but positive academic and extra-curricular experiences that she still talks about today.  Additionally, I’ve enjoyed working with numerous Fremd colleagues – enjoyably presenting together at NCTE, sharing and networking on our PLN, and teaming up at Institute days.  Finally, Fremd’s interview is ‘the interview that never was’ back when I was seeking my first position in the district 13 years ago:   Fremd’s (then) principal called me first but Palatine’s (then) principal interviewed me first.  Being the eagerly excited new teacher, I happily took Palatine’s offer and didn’t looked back!

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Pieces of PHS Memories!

Some of the PHS memories I’ll always cherish . . .

~ Assisting in the hosting of EdCamp2014 at PHS:  This year I transformed much of my teaching to 1:1 teaching with iPads.  See my post here in regards to making that switch.  Integrating educational technology has fast become a passion of mine and attending conferences such as EdCamp continues to prove invaluable.  Moreover, assisting in organizing EdCamp 2014 at PHS this May was truly productive, memorable and fun.  If you are an educator and have not attended an EdCamp yet, you may want to check it out at some point.  They are free, informal conferences in which the participants drive the course of the day!!  Each attendee has opportunity to offer what can be presented, and each attendee has opportunity to present and/or simply drop in to each session as needed.  It’s a simple way to network and gain loads of resources in just a couple of hours.  See the PHS Technology Coordinator’s post on the latest EdCamp here.

~ Writers Day:  I was lucky to serve our school in hosting Writers Day for the past two years.  I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to see students get excited about, talk about and hear about the significance of writing in our every day world.  Modeling our purpose and format from the acclaimed Fremd High School’s Writers Week, PHS’s annual Writers Day began a few years ago as an opportunity for students to celebrate and experience writing in ways that classroom time does not allow. We have visiting authors as well as student and faculty writers share, perform and discuss their work.  Read HERE for more pictures and information about this year’s PHS Writers Day and the NCTE 2013 conference I presented with colleagues about hosting Writers Day or Week.

~ Choreographing and organizing the very first dance PHS “flash mob:”    This is an experience I will never forget!!  Stemmed from a whim idea I had one day when I saw my former French teacher’s FB post about a teacher dance at her own school, I decided to go for it!  After months of keeping the secret from students (staff did a great job with this!) with disguised emails, early morning dance sessions hidden in the wrestling room, and private YouTube how-tos for the teachers, a good majority of staff performed, shocked and wowed students!!   Feel free to check out a more detailed commentary of my experience in coordinating this right HERE. .  . .

~ Coordinating the Literacy Coaching program:  As a reading teacher, I was happy to offer my services as mentor to new teachers, offering resources and feedback on integrating best practice reading strategies within each content area.  Having the chance to mentor creative, motivated teachers outside of the English department was immensely eye-opening and educational.  I enjoyed collaborating with the Applied Technology, Art, Music, World Language, and Family & Consumer Science department during my three years as a literacy coach.  You can read more about the program in my post here.  Establishing collaborative relationships with the Applied Tech department, in particular, led to the Engineering teacher and me drafting a proposal for a district technical writing course.  Stay tuned for more information on that!

~ Designing the Freshman Study Hall program:  This goes back to my earlier years at PHS.  When we had a more traditional study hall for nearly all incoming freshmen and sophomores, I enjoyed researching and organizing study skill mini-lessons for staff throughout the building to share with the study hall students on a bi-weekly basis.  For instance, one week Media Center specialists came in to speak about research skills, another week math teachers came in to demonstrate that solving seemingly difficult math problems can be broken down into doable step-by-steps, and yet another week, our principal, talked about summer reading and what he was going to read that summer!  It was another productive way for me to get to work with many wonderful colleagues in the building.

Some things I look forward to embarking upon at Fremd . . . .

~ Assisting with the The Logue, Fremd’s school newspaper!:  This truly excites me!!  I’ve already met our student staff for the upcoming school year and canNOT wait to work with these talented souls!  These students seem earnestly eager to represent and share Viking Pride through the paper, and I’m just as earnestly eager to watch, guide, and learn as they do!  This year, District 211 is embarking on the first year of producing all-digital newspapers at all five of our schools and WORDPRESS is the platform.  With a WordPress.org, WordPress.com, and Edubogs account of my own, I can’t be more thrilled about this.  I so look forward to working with the students as they learn and refine their digital journalism skills.  One added perk for me . . . my daughter served as an editor on the paper when she was a Viking herself . . . all the more reason for me to enjoy The Logue.  🙂

~ Working with Fremd’s special education department to teach a co-taught English course!:  I am honored to utilize my reading background to serve the special needs of students at Fremd on a sophomore-level co-taught course.  I’ve already met my partnering teacher and was instantly connected.   We are in the midst of planning our curriculum and look forward to meeting our new students in August!!

~ Helping wherever I’m needed with Fremd’s fabulous Writers Week!:  I look forward to assisting my colleagues in any which way I can to promote the 21st annual Writers Week.  I’ll be honored to be teaching amongst this exciting week and serving the school during his acclaimed tradition at Fremd.  I had fine practice with coordinating Palatine’s Writers Day over the past two years and learning from Fremd’s newly retired, revered English teachers Gary Anderson and Tony Romano.

The countless learning and teachable moments, achievements and memories I know are yet to be made at Fremd!:  Dare I say it already feels like home?!!!!  It’s not even possible to yet write all of the experiences I have to look forward to at Fremd.   I’ll let my exclamation points speak for themselves!

“If you do not create change, change will create you.”  ~Unknown

Change is good.  Every great accomplishment and milestone – both professionally and personally – stems from conscious change.  We grow and learn from every small or more major change within our lives.  I look back fondly on the growth experiences I’ve gained in my educational career as I excitedly look forward to the new insights, perspectives, connections, experiences I will gain at my new school.  Go Pirates!  Go Vikings!