Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Best Advice I Ever Had...How About You?

This link was making the rounds yesterday and I did enjoy reading what people said. I think the question was really what was the best and the worst advice you ever received? Here is the link. Most responders are from the business or entertainment world.


One thing I thought was striking was the number of people who named their parents. This serves as a reminder to us as parents of the immense influence we have on our children. Here are my bests and worst:

BEST: My parents always taught me to do my best, and modeled this ideal in their own lives. One thing in particular I remember is that my dad would offer me counsel when I failed to measure up to my own standards, maybe making a "B" instead of an "A" in a class. He would say, "Did you do your best?" When I replied yes, he would say, "Then stop worrying! What more could you have done?" I still remind myself of his words today when I "mess up" in trying to perform perfectly in a demanding job.

WORST: My folks were products of their times, and marked by the depression. When I was ready for college, I was told, "You can be a teacher, a secretary, or a nurse. Those are your options. Which will it be?" Today I am glad that we offer young women a much broader range of choices. Actually, becoming a teacher was a happy choice for me, but it would have been exciting and interesting to at least consider other options. My mother had an amazing ability to see into the future though. Maybe she was just putting things in those terms because her intuition told her I should be a teacher. I am happy with my life's work, in any case.

How about you? I would love responses!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping Up With Technology

I am a fine one to talk about keeping up. Here I am woefully overdue to update my blog, despite the fact that I have any number of entries stored in my head. The trip I was anticipating in my previous posting is now a kaleidoscope of wonderful memories. Re-entry was a bit of a challenge, and kept me scrambling all last week. So here I am showing up late for my own party again. I did post last week to several sharing sites asking for tips on keeping up with technology. I asked my tweets and also posted to LM_Net, TLC, and EDTECH. I will post again, but want to share my number one best response, which to my great pride was sent by a former student. Jamie Camp, now librarian at Benfer Elementary in Klein ISD, TX, sent this wonderful missive. Thanks so much, Jamie!

"I try to keep up with tech trends in several ways:
*twitter--you have to build a useful network first though. Start by following some of the well-known tech or library people, like you, Joyce Valenza, David Warlick, Scott McLeod, Wes Fryer--and by looking at their communities, you come to great people like Keisa Williams or Melissa Techmann, Lisa Thumann or Liz Davis. Drop the people that don't tweet, or that tweet too much about stuff that you don't need to know! And tweet back to your community too! It's ok to lurk for awhile, but if you continue only lurking, you're missing a huge resource that could be helping you with your particular interests/projects!

*RSS-if you don't really understand RSS or don't know how to use an aggregator to collect blogs, podcasts, searches, videos of interest to you, this is one of the MOST important tools you should concentrate on! Learn to use Google Reader and/or iTunes! They are invaluable and pretty easy, with lots of tutorials available on their site, CommonCraft youtube, etc.

*podcasts--I've been addicted for years! Especially helpful in this area is the EdTechTalk community. EdTechWeekly is a GREAT source of new info each week. All of the shows that are supported by this community are top-notch. This is really an amazing group of people.

*Social networks: Learn central--this is a community founded by Steve Hargadon, as is another great ning community called Classroom2.0 . The live portion of this site has all sorts of videos and elluminate sessions archived here .
*Delicious is a bookmarking site, which is wildly handy in itself, but the really powerful part of it is the SOCIAL part! Here you can not only store your bookmarks "in the cloud," the tagging feature allows you to see what other people have found too! You can subscribe to a certain tag string or to a certain user. This is very powerful.

*Blogs- Daily, I read several blogs. I intentionally make it part of my day because there is sooo much to be learned out there. Twitter has killed off a few blogs, but there are still some amazing people writing, reflecting and connecting thru blogs. I find new ones all the time, through reading other people's blogs. I drop blogs when I find that they don't meet my interests or needs. Choose a few and read them daily for awhile. Decide how many and which ones meet your needs! Here are my never-miss-them blogs in my Google Reader: Joyce Valenza's NeverEndingSearch, David Warlick's 2Cents Worth and ConnectLearning, Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog, Dr. Bell's For Whom the Bell Told, Richard Byrne's Free Technology 4 Teachers (this one is FANTASTIC for new links/tools for teachers, and it's quick to read) and Bob Sprankle's Bit by Bit."

I should add that you can follow Jamie more closely in her two wonderful blogs:

Sunday, July 5, 2009


The first time I went to London was in 2002, and I was "shadowing" one of my heroes, Dr. Bonnie Thorne, who was actually leading the travel study group. I carried my beloved 35 mm camera and an extra telephoto lens. That was the only "gadget" I took. My cell phone would have been useless and it never occurred to me to carry my laptop. We DID have computer access at the dorm in Regent's College where we stayed. Things are much different now, though. Here is a list of must-have items for travel:
  • Netbook--Asus eee computer
  • Kindle2
  • iPhone (of course!)
  • Casio Exilim camera (brand new)
  • Wireless modem
These items go with me everywhere, now that I think of it, whether it is for a couple of nights with Dad in the Texas Hill Country or on an international trek. The only thing that varies is which/how many computers. I will probably take my big MacBookPro if I am driving, for instance. How about you? What are your must-haves???





Whenever I pack for an upcoming trip, I seek out my little traveling buddies, my Nancy Pearl dolls. Nancy goes wherever I go and has her picture waaaaay too often. She has been to London twice, Ireland, Mexico, East Coast, West Cost, Washington DC, all over Texas, road tripping through the South, Miami, and many more exciting places. It is necessary for me to travel with more than one, because I tend to leave them behind. One floated away in London, bobbing along in Regent's Canal. Another went AWOL after a photo op with the naked cowboy in Times Square. Others have disappeared in Dublin and in Portland, OR. So I take several dolls along. When I did inventory this morning, I made a distressing discovery. A couple of Nancys were terribly maimed. They had both lost arms at the elbow, one missing a right and the other missing the left. The one missing the shushing arm was particularly upset, but wouldn't you know, they both had characteristically stiff upper lips. Since I have packed, unpacked, and packed again and done any number of other over-the-top travel prep things (washing shoes! gluing shoes back together!), I decided I had time to perform surgery on my little buddies. I used wire and pliers, and even with these crude instruments, my little amigas remained serene and still through their procedures. I am happy to report that both operations went well and the Nancys will have a restful evening nestled in my bag. Tomorrow they will be almost good as new!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nerdy July 4th

I guess it says a lot about my nerd quotient that I am online and looking up words July 4th. No homemade ice cream for me, though I did have watermelon for breakfast. I am spending the day packing and grading, so that I can be ready for my upcoming BIG TRIP to Toronto and Chicago, leaving early Monday morning. Anyway, as I was working away, I received an obsequious email. The missive sent me searching for the right word to describe it and that adjective popped up out of the murky recesses of my reading-but-not-speaking vocabulary. This was interesting to me because I can say with fair certainty that I have never used the word before, either in writing or in speech. I wasn't sure how to even spell it but got close enough to get myself to an online dictionary where I could verify that it was the perfect word (YES!) and also hear the pronunciation. Now I plan to use it a lot! Interestingly the email was not from a student, but from someone else I know. Anyway, this little experience turned into a 30 minute detour into territory far afield from grading or packing. Here are two more things I found out:
  • I really like the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary for a quick reference and good, clear pronounciation: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
  • I LOVE THIS AD!!! It was on the dictionary page but I located it via YouTube so I could share it for sure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN2y2WN9bSo
  • Not only that but the Duluth Trading Co. has a rabid fan base (though obviously not among beavers) and all sorts of fun links about its ads. Just Google and see! Plus if you Google today you get to see another great holiday graphic!
  • Oh and...lots of people other than plumbers would do well to wear Duluth's Long Tail T-shirts! Check out the plumber's butt ad as well...
Happy 4th everybody! Have some cabrito and ice cream for me!