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Monday
Jul282014

Be Careful What You Wish For ...

I have been saying that I was ready for a new challenge …

You have to be ready for what you say you want …

I taught 4th grade for 7 years focusing on reading and writing. Then I jumped into a gifted education position working with 3rd and 4th grade students before jumping into instructional technology. For the past several years, I have worked with teachers at elementary schools sharing resources and developing skills.

Are you noticing a theme?

Elementary School!

I do work for a k-12 school system and two of my certifications are k-12, but still I feel more comfortable working with elementary schools.

And that could be part of the problem …

Feeling comfortable

I have often written that in order to grow, one needs to stretch and venture outside the comfort zone.

Perhaps the advice I give should be advice I follow …

As I sat around a table with my coworkers today trying to figure out plans for next year, I gave quite a passionate speech about why I wanted to continue working with only elementary schools, especially since we are focusing on early literacy.

Not ten minutes later, I heard myself volunteering to work with a middle school …

A middle school!!!!!

What was I thinking?

I am not exactly sure … even though that is the question I kept repeating for the rest of the afternoon.

When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone?

Was it forced or voluntary?

How did it turn out?

After taking several deep breaths and a step back, I began to think of taking on a middle school as another step in the journey …

I am not really sure where that journey is headed …

But I am sure I will learn

And I hope to help others along the way …

Maybe it is a journey to explore literacy …

To me, literacy is so much more than just basic reading and writing …

So the general idea of literacy is inside my comfort zone …

But helping middle school teachers find ways to encourage literacy in subject areas will be a stretch for me …

But I said I wanted a challenge!

 

Who knows what challenges I will volunteer for tomorrow? :)

 

 

Saturday
Jul262014

Adding Action to Ideas

How many times have you had an idea and then it did not turn out the same way when you added action to that idea?

That has happened to me so many times that I have just come to expect the mismatch …

Sure, it can be a little (or a lot) frustrating when something doesn’t turn out the exact way you thought it would (or should), but there are times when it turns out better …

And there are times when it doesn’t …

But no matter how it turns out, you accomplished something by taking an idea and adding action to it!

That is something many people don’t do …

In an effort to encourage and stretch my own creative thinking, I am participating in Journal 52, which is an art journal project. Each week we are given prompts that we can respond to by creating using any materials, any inspiration, and any format we like. It is amazing to see all the different ways a prompt can be used to inspire creation!

For me, it is all about taking an idea and adding some action …

I have sketchbooks and art supplies as well as ideas, but I haven’t done much with all of those things in a while, so participating in Journal 52 gives me that extra push to add some action to those ideas!

As of right now, I have created something for the prompt each week! There is officially no requirement to stay caught up or to even do each week, but in my mind part of the challenge for me is also sticking with something to completion and not just fading off in the middle!

I do admit that most of the ideas in my head do not match the creations on the page that eventually happen …

And I am OK with that

Even as what I called “a recovering perfectionist” I have learned that I can learn something from each step in the journey, even if I don’t really like it! :)

But this week was different!!!!

The prompt was Fashion …

I am a big fan of clothes, pocketbooks, and shoes!

Almost immediately, an idea started forming in my mind …

But I did not get a chance to put that idea into action until a week later …

Even though I thought about it and made edits in my mind all week long!

Last night, I created!!!

Some of you may notice that I mention loving pocketbooks earlier in this post, but the word purses apears on the art journal page …. the other word would not fit and sometimes you have to make minor adjustments just to make it work! :)

Now I am not saying my creation turned out EXACTLY as I pictured it in my head, but it is pretty close!

I started wondering why this turned out so much like the image in my head when other ones don’t …

That could be explained away by saying that the piece just took on a life of its own and the artist just let go and let it happen …

And although that sounds good, I think there might be something more than that at play here … at least for this piece …

Normally with the pages I have created for the Journal52 project, I read the prompt, get an idea, and then create … BOOM!

My ideas are not fully thought out and I tend to create as I make adjustments for the materials I have close or the things that are new or whatever has caught my attention at the moment.

How many times do we make decisions based on those reasons?

Patience is not something I excel at … I tend to trust my instincts and gut feelings and just go for it!

This time, the idea for my creation sat and simmered  …

I thought about what could be the best way to create the image that was in my head. I also decided I did not want to just use one material but wanted to find a way to combine different pieces.

Working backwards, I had an idea for what the end should be, so I was able to figure out what steps needed to occur first to lay the foundation.

Making the edits and small changes in my mind before starting and rushing forward allowed me to consider the impact those changes would have on the steps that would come later.

Too many times, my ideas get stuck in this stage of the process and action is not applied …

I have also found that if I think about the options and analyze to much, I lose the excitement for the creation (or the blog post) and never move forward …

To prevent that from happening, I went into my creation space (table with art supplies) and just started …

I must admit that in my mind, I did not see the tree as brown. It was just drawn with a black pen. I drew it with a black pen and added lots of lines to start and then after adding the green watercolor for the grass, I decided to add a few different brown watercolors for the tree … And maybe I should have used brighter colors for the purses but the Frosted Designs paper was what I grabbed first!

So even though my idea was thought out, I still needed to make small changes based on the circumstances … and that is OK

Just because you make a plan doesn’t mean you have to stick to it 100% … just make sure that the changes are to make it better and not because something else caught your eye and distracted you!

I added action to my idea!

And I am pretty happy about the way it turned out!

 

What ideas do you have that need some action added?

 

 

Thursday
Jul242014

Process vs. Product

Since June 1st, I have been decorating an index card a day

I would like to say that I do more creating than decorating, but whatever it is, I am enjoying it!

Participating in the Daisy Yellow Art Index-Card-A-Day Challenge has allowed me to try some new techniques and materials …

But most of all, it has allowed me to CREATE each day!

At times I went along with the optional prompts or even tried some of the themes provided for the whole group, but most of the time, I just started and let it happen …

I tried to not overanalyze and worry so much that it prevented me from even starting!

And I can happily say that I have created a card each day …

Do I like all the cards I have created?

No

But I just let it go and keep going  (not easy for a recovering perfectionist!)

For me, my participation in this challenge is not to produce 61 wonderful pieces of art …

It is simply to create each day for 61 days …

for me, it is more about the process than the product …

My June Index Cards

Can you think of other things that are more about the process than the product?

Do you think Learning would fit that description?

I learn something from each index card that I create … even if it is learning what not to do the next time!

 

I also think STEAM could be like that ….

It is more about the process than the product

It is about taking chances and trying new things

And not being afraid to fail …

Think about the learning that takes place when skills are introduced, practiced, and refined …

Innovation

Questioning

Collaborating

Predicting

Communicating

Problem Solving

Researching

Analyzing

Forming Conclusions

Critical Thinking

Creative Thinking

And so many more …

Those are skills that involved in so many areas, not just the STEAM-specific ones!

 

How would this be assessed?

Would you look at the index cards I created and make a decision based on that?

What about the thinking and learning involved in creating the cards?

 

It is not just about the end result, but in the processes involved in getting to the end result …

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jul232014

A Plan and A Goal

Planning?

What does it mean to plan?

Who needs to be involved in and with planning?

I can’t say that I feel like I can fully answer those questions, but I know so much more now that I did previously in terms of ways to answers parts of those questions ….

As a teacher, I know about planning a lesson for my students, but there are so many more things to consider when you are planning for educational technology, grant writing, and/or even for a whole school or school system.

One thing I have learned is that there are so many more pieces that need to be considered, evaluated, and measured.

As much I was get frustrated when doing planning as a group, it has helped me see some points that need to be considered. I did not realize all the learning that was taking place at the same time, but the more I reflect on that experience, the more I realize how much I gained from it.

It is crucial to know who to approach with certain ideas, questions, and plans as well as knowing the best time to contact them. It is also important to know who your supporters are and if that will help or hurt when you present the idea to another possible supporter.

A plan needs to include both a big idea as well as the specific supporting details that are necessary. Since most people generally excel in one of those areas more than the other, having a small group work together on planning projects can also be quite beneficial. 

Please note that I said SMALL, since I feel that when too many cooks are in the kitchen, the meal does not end up being fully prepared in the end.

When planning, you also have to be willing to ask for help from those who know more about certain areas than you. Asking for that type of assistance is not something to be seen as a weakness but is recognized as a strength in realizing the power of the knowledge of many.

Collaboration plays a major role in the “behind the scenes” planning that must take place.

That collaboration can take many forms. 

It can be very beneficial to look back at what you and others have done to help the plan avoid pitfalls and overcome obstacles early in the planning stages.

You have to start with the end in mind and then determine the steps needed to propel you on the journey.

But it is also important not to let your personal goals get in the way of the professional goals of the plan …

If you have to change the plan to make it better fit with your personal goals, then there is potentially a problem …

It is important to realize that you have both personal goals and professional goals as well as to recognize the impact those goals can have on the plans you create ….

If I stop and think about it, I am involved in planning in so many areas that I did not even realize before. I feel that I will be better able to benefit in those planning opportunities when I recognize them as that …

Monday
Jul212014

Resources, Resources, Resources ...

One of my ISTE 2014 Goals was to meet Candace Hackett Shively!

In the “Grow Creativity!” article, Candace Hackett Shively shares four aspects of creativity: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.

This article had me hooked from the beginning:

The world needs creative thinkers, scientists, engineers, leaders, and contributing workers. yet research repeatedly shows creativity is schooled out of us. 

In many ways that article inspired the Creative Thinking Prompts on my blog!

So I wanted to meet her …

And she told me to call her Candy!!

Eeeeeeekkkkkk!

So not only did I get to meet her, but I got to get resources too!

I also attended a session she and Melissa Henning did on Nourishing Gifted Learners using Technology in any classroom.

Having taught Gifted Learners in the past, I was interested in what they had to share ..

They posted the whole list of resources on a page on the TeachersFirst site! And it is not just a list, but you find a description, teacher comments, suggested grade levels, and a link to the resource in categories.

Here are 5 that really stood out to me:

I know there are so many more resources found on those pages, but starting small is one way not to get overwhelmed …

And that is my advice at the end of every session I attend or present …

Pick a few and learn as much as you can about them and then move on …

You will be amazed at what skills will transfer …