Tag Archives: #professionaldevelopment

This is NOT a Cat Lesson

You can’t always be certain.  Sometimes what it appears to be just isn’t so.  Sometimes it is something entirely different.  Sometimes it is what it is.  Most times this is the truth.
It either is or isn’t – a cat.  Right?

Recently, Minnesota author/illustrator Mike Wohnoutka addressed the Southwest Minnesota Reading Council hosted on the Martin Luther College campus in New Ulm, Minnesota.  I was privileged to attend with a former student-teacher gone teacher and two teacher candidates.  It was an evening filled with learning, laughter, reading, reflecting, doodling, and discussion.  What does a cat got to do with it, you ask?  Let me tell you….

Growing up with three older brothers, Mike Wohnoutka loved to draw, and he was determined to do well. From early on he would go to his room to read to get away from a little of the noise. He displayed talent early on, and his Headstart teacher noticed right away.  She wrote a note on his report card indicating that he was an artist and that he should continue to draw. Later on in life his high school teacher suggested that he go to the library to learn about and study others’ works.  He then went on to enter a contest in high school with a portrait of his dad, which drew him on the path to an art school in Savannah, Georgia with a 4-year scholarship.

Fast forward to today, and you will find that Mike had multiple opportunities to try out his talents – sometimes noticed and sometimes unnoticed.  His talent is obvious and telling. He drew a cartoon masterpiece within seconds right before our eyes. It was incredible.

Throughout his time as a write and illustrator, Wohnoutka has had opportunities to work with a plethora of talented folks.  He shared about his life as an author/illustrator and how each day starts with sitting in his study and thinking. It usually involves some coffee; sometimes there is music, sometimes there isn’t.  “Think about who. Think about what.”  That is telling lesson right there, and one we agree with as a principle.  Dr. Wendy & I tell our teacher candidates that we teach learners, not subjects. We teach who, not what.  When writing This is Not a Cat, Wohnoutka started with character development. That makes sense and is where we all should start – with the who, with us.

He talked about one particular work that we loved to hear about, to read about, and now to share with our students.  This is Not a Cat. It reminded us that what we see is not always what we should believe.  It also made me think about not being too overly confident with a decision; there is room for error in that suit.  The mice in this picture book are pretty scared when they see a cat, which turns out to be a rat in a cat suit.  Later, a real cat hunts that rat.  This made me think of the phrase “what goes around, comes around.” Karma.

So many lessons in that simple but awesome book.  Maybe I am grasping at straws but so be it. I saw the talent first hand. I am no literary award granter, but I like a book that can hook a reader and share a lesson or two.  If it can cause a little suspense and some laughter, even better.

Southwest MN Reading Council Executive Board Members with Author/Illustrator Mike Wohnoutka

In closing… recently our SMSU colleague family has experienced deaths that have caused us to reflect on what is important.  What is important to you? Find out and stay the course… Life is too important and too short not to know.  Know what is a cat and what is not.

Stay Calm & Draw or Write On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.




Tweet, Meet, & Greet



We don’t know about you, but man oh man, we are tired!  Just returned from the annual ASCD conference in Atlanta, Georgia, where we met up with some fabulous peeps from all over the globe; the list is long, and maybe it included you!?

If you were able to join us at our session, Oh, the People You’ll Meet If Only You’ll Tweet on April 2, 2016, we promised to share our twitter resource highlight list.  Voila – here it is:



Just a few others we mentioned…and that you won’t be able to resist:



Some other conference highlights outside of our session:
(We know, hard to believe there were any, but it is true.)

@donwettrick – Shared his passion about Pure Genius.  #PureGenius

@manuelscott – Original Freedom Writer, who shared his life story to inspire us as educators to continue to be more and do more for others.  Scott challenges us to teach like someone else’s life depends on it because it does.

…Fast forward thru “unhandled” ASCD speakers…

What does it take to the best?  @ShannaPeeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, knows as she shared her stories, and expressed, “We are saved by what we create and who we love in a very real way.”

Wait!  The best is not over yet!  Best coffee shop encounter while in Atlanta – meeting two educators from the Netherlands, and having an unconference while soaking up the sun between sessions.  Join us in following these two Dutch teacher trainers:


Learning can happen with a variety of people and in a variety of places.  Follow these hashtags to take your Twitter PD to the next level:

#ascd16 – for highlights of the conference in Atlanta, GA


And last but certainly NOT least…


If you remember from our last blog, Dr. Wendy was hoping to meet one of her favorite tweeps – Ms. Stephanie Frosch @steph_frosch.  She accomplished her goal, and gave her a hug because their friendship started on Twitter and grew into a real flower. Peace out!


BLOG Twitter ASCD16 2

Fabulous time!  But now we need a nap…  Zzzzzzzzz…

Stay Calm & Tweet On!
Profs Dr. C. &Dr. V.
@kiddielitprof  &  @drvteacher

Twitter Ya at ASCD


Did you hear the news?  We are excited to see you at the ASCD conference in Atlanta, Georgia this week.  Wait!  You aren’t going?  There is still time!  So maybe we are optimistic to a fault… If you can’t join us in person, join us on Twitter.

Our session, #1257 is titled “Oh, The People You’ll Meet If Only You’ll Tweet” and we present on Saturday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. in GWCC, Building B, Level 3, Room B310. Wow…if you see two people wandering around who happen to be wearing SMSU gear, please help us find our room. 🙂

Following the right folks on Twitter can help us become better leaders because of the dynamic ideas shared there. Our session will show you who to follow, and how to use social media tools to your professional development advantage. Some awesome folks that we have met are Dave Burgess, Todd and Beth Whitaker, Rick Wormeli, Peter DeWitt, George Couros, and others thanks to Twitter.

Our goal is to share resources and connect people. And the most exciting news is that someone Wendy adores on Twitter is going to be at ASCD. We are hopeful that we will meet her there. Maybe she will stop by our session so we can give her a hug…and we can because we are friends on Twitter.

See you in Georgia!

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

We ARE Better Together


We recently returned from Charleston, SC where we presented at the 2015 Center for Scholastic Inquiry’s International Academic Research Conference. We learned from and with some of the best of the best practitioners across the globe in the areas of education, business, and behavioral science. And, of course, we enjoyed a little pleasure and relaxation on top of it all.

Our research presentation was on Bloom’s Taxonomy mixed with Web 2.0 tools used in Higher Education. Besides the little bit of a technology glitch, our presentation went well. Better than we ever imagined. We’ll share why in a second.

We attended many sessions as well. We learned from experts – researchers and practitioners – in the areas of preparing candidates to teach English learners, Instagram use in education, bullying in the workplace, teacher candidate dispositions, and much more in fields of education, business, and behavioral sciences. Our lightbulb moment was realizing that we are not alone when it comes to dealing with some of these issues – and across various fields and workplaces.

Alone, we are smart, and we handle whatever issue may park itself in our departments. Together, with all these experts from varied disciplines and various locations across the globe, we discussed and brainstormed, and shared. Together we were brilliant and found solutions to these issues.

If you have not heard of this conference, we recommend you check it out. Hopefully next year we will get the privilege of learning with and from YOU in Scottsdale, AZ! Because as Steven Anderson noted, “Alone we are smart. Together, we are brilliant.”

Oh, yes, and about our session. We won the ‘Best Presentation’ award. Not bad for our first time being there! 🙂 It’s kind of like golf…you have that ONE good shot that keeps you coming back. We had that ONE good presentation that will keep us going back time and time again. (Thanks, Dr. Tanya Yerigan!).


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

Tweet Like a PIRATE Day

BLOG pirate twitter 1

“AHHHH” (scream). “He just followed me!!!”

“WHAT??? He hasn’t followed me yet! Green monster over here…a little envious. Oh, wait…AHHHHHH (scream) he just followed me, too!!!”

Those were the screams echoing on campus during the first ever ED Social Studies Methods #SMSUtlap live twitter chat held last Thursday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  As their professor, I couldn’t help but laugh and then laugh some more. 🙂

BLOG pirate twitter 2

Who is he you ask?? THE one and only pirate of course…Dave Burgess. He jumped in on the #SMSUtlap chat, and the teacher candidates were very excited about that! Dave is the author of the book “Teach like a PIRATE” which is a required read in my class. He joined in on the conversation, and he started following the candidates. That is one of his strong points…Dave believes in building his PLN with “connected educators and meeting the new wave of life-changers!”

BLOG pirate twitter 3

The teacher candidates had never participated in a live Twitter chat before this class. Many of their friends on Twitter were sending them text messages during the chat asking “what are you doing???” One teacher candidate even apologized on her Twitter page for all the ‘random’ tweets she was sending out. Certainly a new concept to these young future teachers.

Fast forward to week #2 of our second-ever #SMSUtlap live chat… And, of course, the teacher candidates became very excited again to see Dave pop in on the chat for a little bit. Thanks for joining us, Captain. You made their day!

BLOG pirate twitter 4

#SMSUtlap teacher candidates were a lot quicker this week with posting their questions that were on creative posters using postermywall.com. YES…they are tweeting like pirates. They even did a little dancing to YMCA. Multitaskers in the making—tweeting AND dancing! They have left their comfort zone! 🙂

BLOG pirate twitter 5

Next week will be our last live chat, and believe it or not, the teacher candidates are bummed about that. Join us if you can! Proud of all of you upcoming teachers!!! Keep tweeting like a pirate.

Below are a few of the posters made by these tweeters…enjoy!

BLOG pirate twitter 6

BLOG pirate twitter 7

BLOG pirate twitter 8

BLOG pirate twitter 9

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