Monthly Archives: January 2015

Clouds … Fly A Little Higher

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“It won’t be long now… If only, I had a little bit more time…” – Zach Sobiech

What do you want to do today? Why are you waiting? Stop reading and get started! Okay – maybe finish reading and then get started. 🙂

This past weekend, Laura Sobiech, mom to Zach, spoke about her son’s incredible journey to an audience of stilled listeners at the Legacy Banquet in Marshall, Minnesota. She talked about her life, her family, and her experiences mourning death and more importantly – celebrating life. It seems in our day-to-day rush, we sometimes forget to stop and celebrate our time together. Laura’s talk reminded us to do that.

In Laura’s book, Fly a Little Higher, she shares her story, Zach’s story, with her readers. Zach is well known for his song, Clouds, which he wrote with his mom’s encouragement to write as he battled osteosarcoma. Was his song well known, you ask? As of this blog, the youtube video had over 11 million hits.

Listening to Laura share her story was overwhelming and amazing. It was a challenge to aim a little higher and care a little more. Think back to your resolutions for 2015. Where are you at? What have you accomplished? What could you do more of if you had a little more time? We could go on and on with this blog, but instead watch the Clouds video one more time or listen to the song one more time. One thing is for certain, stop, breathe, listen, and watch the clouds… aim to fly a little higher today.

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

An Orange a Day Makes Best Practices Stay

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“Who needs apples? What educators need are oranges.” And with that you are probably thinking WHAT???

We had the honor of presenting to a fine bunch of educators including former SMSU alumni from three different school districts this morning, and this was the topic of our presentation. We shared active teaching strategies using Bloom’s Taxonomy’s Bloomin Orange and demonstrated best practices by introducing several Bloom’s Web 2.0 tools that we currently use in our courses at SMSU. (Bloom’s Understand Category) was used to poll our participants to find out how many of them knew what Web 2.0 tools are. It was an eyebrow-raising moment when we found out that many of them had no idea what we were talking about. Polleverywhere is a great tool to find out what your audience or students know about a certain topic; a way to assess their prior knowledge. It is also available as an app for the iPad.

Other Web 2.0 tools that were shared with this attentive group of educators are: (Bloom’s Evaluate Category): “Ultimately, blogging will lead to growth as you learn about yourself, your audience and the world around you…leading to further creativity and profitable insights. As you can see by the examples I’ve shared, creators of great achievements always walk down this line” (Patel, 2012, para.24). So considering this, blogging can be more than evaluating, it is creating and sharing, which is the ultimate educational lesson. Kidblog, sponsored by Scholastic, is just one forum to share about your learning. (Bloom’s Create Category): Building a community of learners and a positive on-line learning environment is tremendously important for on-line learners. Animoto is a great tool to assist with this. On-line students have been asked to create an Animoto to introduce themselves to the rest of the on-line class. After they have completed this task, they upload it to the discussion board so all classmates can watch it. It is one fabulous way to get to know each other. (Bloom’s Apply Category): “Poster yourself” is the common tagline for this unique tool. Glogster is a way to express yourself in a poster format. Used in the classroom, it can extend learning and understanding in a different format. In my ELA Methods & Assessment course (can I get a woot-woot?), teacher candidates share about a research-based strategy and “glog” about it to persuade teacher candidates to want to use the strategy in their own teaching and future classroom. (Bloom’s Analyze Category): Using Tagxedo is one way for students to analyze content they are expected to read or have already read. Students choose terms from their assigned chapter that they believe to be significant to them as future teachers. Once their vocabulary words have been chosen, they are asked to create a word cloud using Tagxedo. Our teacher candidates save this image to their Pictures file, insert the image into a word document, then write narrative explaining the vocabulary words they have chosen and WHY these terms are important to them as future teachers.

Challenges from the knowledge gleaned today? These teachers voiced several…

“…time, resources, reliable technology, unnecessary, doesn’t work for my class, fluff…”

Tackle those challenges. Hit them hard. Change the mindset.

We challenge ALL educators to try at least one new Web 2.0 tool in the last half of this school year. Just one. Then in the fall, give another Web 2.0 tool a try.

If you want to learn more about Web 2.0 tools, we suggest following Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) and Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) on Twitter, and also reading their blogs. You will find these two gentlemen to be valuable resources.

Share with us which Web 2.0 tools work for you. …And – if none of the above appeals to you, wait until next week’s blog.

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

The One Word Frenzy – Take 2!

It's True!
                             It’s True!

So did you pick your one word for 2015 yet? As I thought about Wendy’s words, or #oneword, last week, I scoured my brain to consider what my new word for 2015 might be. I tend to be reflective to the point of indecisive at times – wait, maybe that should be my word, Reflection, no wait – I meant, Decision, or did I mean, Consider? All I do know for sure is that I selected a word last year and even posted it to social media somewhere along the way – maybe it was two years ago? I can’t remember the word though, which makes me think I did not do a very good job with the word selection the last time. Or – it was sooo good that it is engrained in my daily life without my realization. Let’s go with that! 🙂

As I was being reflective about my #oneword and contemplating this task, I heard a commercial on tv (didn’t see it as I was multi-tasking work, supervising homework, dinner prep, and laundry), the one word for the year according to this particular commercial should be fiber. LOL! It was a fiber commercial getting on the bandwagon. Ok – stop with the signs. I’m convinced; I’ll start using fiber, and I’ll pick a word already!

Here is my thought process:

Believe is my word for life. It has been since junior high school. I became enthralled with poetry and powered by words about that time. I still continue to be on most days…although it is true that some days I prefer to go without words to take a “brain-break” and just be. That is not the point of this blog, however, so I’ll proceed.

Dance & Balance are good ones – I wish had thought of them before Wendy. 🙂 I didn’t though so I to go my own direction, find my own word. Sometimes we may share words though, so we will be sure to balance and dance together this year!

Now, I am thinking…

Wish is another word that if on my favorite word list along with Conundrum, which could be a problem. I don’t mean to wish away challenges and unknowns. I think it is more that I like to be Hopeful.

What about…

Courage – you can’t change everything, but it doesn’t mean to give up and not try. Maybe my word should be Hope instead as I am the forever-optimist, an idealist with the world continuing to try to shape me into a realist. (No offense to the realists – we need you, too, and I can morph into a realist after hours of trying.)

Come to think of it…

Destiny is another one. I can’t explain why. A former favorite English teacher of mine from high school recently expressed that she dislikes the words “kiddos” and “poop” on her facebook confession; she couldn’t explain why regarding the “poop” dislike, but it sure made me laugh. It must be the adolescent kiddo in me – or maybe it was the fiber commercial.?? It is like when I am in church and get the giggles (mostly past tense for this part as I do have more self-control than I used to when I was a kid and my embarrassed mother was gently squeezing my arm in efforts to get me to calm down.)

Moving on…Finally!

Strength is my word. It is my goal for this year – for my family, life, learning, faith, leadership – all aspects of life. It is important to have strength to move through each day and aim for a better tomorrow. “You are stronger than you think you are.” This phrase is repeated multiple times at BodyPump (fitness class) at the area YMCA. The instructors are constantly pushing us toward our goals – telling us that we have the strength and just need to find it.

With that, pick your word if you haven’t already or share one that you have chosen already. Be determined and specific. Be intentional this year. Be you.

Best wishes to our hopeful readers; may you have the courage and strength to shape your destiny while you dance, balance, and believe.

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

The One Word Frenzy

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Hey, Sonya (and our fabulous readers) …have you been reading all the hoopla lately about the one word theme frenzy for 2015? We are only a few days in and so far this has been the year of one word resolutions.

Twitter and Facebook have been blowing up with this idea of choosing one word. The most recent post on Facebook was Jon Gordon on the Today Show suggesting we pick one word to focus on for this year. Jon first wrote about this one word idea back in January 2011 on his blog. He suggested that we make a poster of the one word we choose. He said we can paint it or draw it or make a poster like the one above. Visit and make your own one word poster.

On Twitter, look for the hashtag #oneword365. Several tweeps are asking us to share our one word, while at the same time they are sharing their one word.

One of those tweeps is author and Women of Faith speaker, Patsy Clairmont . She tweeted this on January 2nd:

@patsyclairmont: Do you have a “watch word” for 2015? It’s a word that serves as a post-it note 2help our heart amidst life’s hustle. I’ve chosen “prayer.”

Patsy has also written a one word book called Twirl: A Fresh Spin at Life ©2013. Each chapter title of this charming book is just one word. For example, the one word for Chapter 1 is MORE. Patsy shares with us how we can be more than what we would ever believe we can be. Chapter 15’s one word title is FRAGRANCE. Patsy shares with us how certain smells remind her of her mother or her grandmother. When I read this chapter, Sonya, it made me think of my own mother and her fragrance of Eternity. I’ll bet there are smells that trigger your memories too, huh, Sonya? It truly is a delightful book, please savor every page.

A few years ago, author Debbie Macomber wrote a book called One Perfect Word: One Word Can Make all the Difference ©2012. This book begins with a story of an English college professor whose written feedback to a student changed the trajectory of this student’s life. The professor read and graded the paper written by this young man, and made this comment on his paper “This is superb work, son. I congratulate you…”

You see, this college student had no positive male role model in his life, and when this professor called him “son,” it changed this young person’s mindset…for the better. “Yes indeed, one word of encouragement can change the world” Debbie tells us after this story.

Each chapter title of Debbie’s book is also one word. She tells us how she started this journey of selecting one word and then goes on to encourage us to pick one word and study it, really understand it, and then let this one word change us. For example, BALANCE is the one word title of Chapter 10. Debbie tells us about the pressures she was feeling that year from all the speaking she was doing. She was overwhelmed and her one word helped her keep balance in her life.

Then this morning, Sonya, I opened up my Daily Guideposts 2015 Devotional and guess what the topic was? Yup…one word. Julie Garmon of Monroe, Georgia, begins her devotional with “It was time to choose a new one-word theme for next year.” I smiled!

I guess it’s time to pick out a word, Sonya. I have chosen DANCE. I’ve decided to try to dance more this year. It is great exercise, it lifts up my spirits, and it is something my parents both loved to do. What word will you select, dear friend?

How about YOU, sweet blog friends? What word will be your one word theme for 2015? Please share your one word with us in the comments below. Whichever one word you choose, we pray it blesses you indeed!

Stay Calm & Lead On!

Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.