Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The One With Hope #slice2013

Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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At this very moment, I am at a Choice Literacy writing retreat with Ruth! How exciting is that!? I need to snap a picture so I can share it next week when I reflect on the awesomeness that is this experience...but that's not until next week. This week, I'm talking about a different awesome experience that I had last week when I volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. 
Feed My Starving Children is an organization that provides food to malnourished children. Volunteers hand-pack specifically formulated meals that they then ship to nearly 70 countries around the world. My older son, my husband and I met one of Peanut's friend's from preschool (they go waaaay back, all the way to preschool...two years ago...) and their preschool teacher. The entire experience was completely organized and efficient and we packed enough meals to fill 14 boxes that were scheduled to ship to Nicaragua. 
Whenever I volunteer, I hope that I'm making a difference in someone else's life. I know that it nourishes my spirit to go and work with others and to try to make a difference but I sincerely hope that it does make in impact for the people I'm hoping to help. 

This trip was extra special because it was the first time Peanut has gone to volunteer to help others. They do a fantastic job of introducing the work and the need for this work and the impact it makes before and after the packing. Peanut followed through the motions, helping scoop veggies into the food packs and putting labels on the bags. Afterwards, we watched a video that showed food being delivered to people and how they shared with each other, eating out of whatever they could find. Then, they showed a picture of an eight-year-old boy who was so malnourished that he weighed less than 25 pounds. I leaned over and told Peanut that that little boy was older than he was but he didn't have enough food. I watched his face as he made that connection. The screen changed and they showed the boy after receiving meals from Feed My Starving Children and he looked completely transformed. He looked vibrant and healthy and much like Peanut; they could have been cousins. Peanut's face changed again and he said, "That boy was older than me?" I like to think that he got it, at least, he got it to the extent that a six-year-old can get it. He is only six. While I understand that there is still a whole wide world for him to figure out, this is a little start in helping him recognize how we can make the world a better place. What I hope that he got out of the experience was a realization that there are people in the world who live a life vastly different from our own,  that we need to be thankful for the things we have but also that we can support others, impact change, and hopefully make a difference.

When I volunteer, I feel a sense of hope in the difference we can make. This time, I felt a totally different kind of hope. It was a feeling that by taking Peanut with us and opening his eyes at such a young age that there is hope that he'll grow up to be a caring and compassionate person who is generous and kind to others. It just fills me with hope (and maybe some tears) thinking how the world could be a better place if we fill it with little six-year-olds ready and willing to make a difference. Isn't that a great kind of hope? 

Have you ever volunteered for Feed My Starving Children or volunteered with students before? Do you do other activities to help students serve the local community or even a larger organization? I would love to hear your stories!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/29/13

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover the next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Please take note that the IMWAYR button has been updated to include Unleashing Readers.
In case you missed the announcement, 
Kellee is now blogging at Unleashing Readers with Ricki Ginsberg. 
We will be cohosting IMWAYR from now on.
They launched their blog last week and it's going to be a fabulous resource! 
Be sure to grab the updated button! 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: I FINISHED WUTHERING HEIGHTS! I did it. I stuck with it and finished it. Ricki asked if I was going to review it, I might have to blog about it for Slice of Life because it was quite an experience. I read a few picture books this week and made some progress in Wonder Light but didn't get quite as much reading in as I had hoped. I did start listening to The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han as well. The book pics made a return this week which was fun.

Reviewed Last Week:

Just click on any picture above to go read the review

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: This week I'm planning to finish The Summer I Turned Pretty and then I'm hoping to start listening to Ungifted by Gordon Korman or The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando. (I haven't decided which yet!) I also plan to read Falling Hard: 100 Poems by Teenagers. Yesterday I shared that I'll be at a writing retreat with Choice Literacy this week and have decided to take the week off from blogging to get back into writing and catch up on some reading. I'll share my slice of life tomorrow and then will be back on Sunday to share how all my writing is going. Have a great week!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to hear about these books. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Week 5

Can you believe how far we have made it into our Teachers Write adventure?! How exciting to think of how far we have come and that we still have a few more great weeks ahead of us as well. I'm actually off today to a writing retreat with Brenda Power from Choice Literacy and other contributors to Choice Literacy. I'm over the moon to be able to have a few days to spend time with other fabulous writers and to have focused time for my own writing. It's been a crazy summer with taking two courses and starting a new job so I haven't written as much as I did last year. This week's writing tip is really exactly what I need to hear this week...so many of you seem to really be getting a lot of writing done but maybe now is the time to chose one piece to really focus on or time to push yourself to find a specific writing time or to up the amount of time your write a week. 
This summer, I've talked about making sure to write for yourself, about opening your eyes to ideas all around you, using some kind of writer's notebook and reading a lot...but I haven't really talked about writing just yet. And really, what it all comes down to is just writing. I know for me that it's important to just sit down and do it. Once I sit down, all of my thinking, planning and preparing does pay off because I can get it done once I sit down. So, enough excuses talking about writing, let's really get to it! 
Author, Jane Yolen, has a neat little Writer's FAQ page on her website where she shares her thoughts on writing. She reminds us of BIC - Butt In Chair. That's going to be my mantra for the week. I'm actually going to take a break from book reviews this week so I can spend time on my revisions and get into a groove. I'm not sure I've ever taken time off of blogging, I wish I had reviews planned out but since I don't, I'm going to not review for the week. It's scary to share this but I need to do this for myself so I hope readers understand. Eeee!
When it comes to getting my butt in a chair in front of my laptop, I know I do best in the morning when I'm fresh. I also know I love my laundry room when I'm at home. If I really want to get lost in my writing, it helps if I'm in my laundry room but I also love writing at Starbucks. Finding a time to write and a place to write that really works for me helps me a lot. Last year, I wrote first thing in the morning in my laundry room. This year, since I'm working on revisions, I almost feel like I would rather have nice long chunks of time to write. I may need to mix in my short morning writing sprints with some longer revising times.

I would love to hear your strategies for getting your butt in that chair! I was thinking a little incentive might be great, too...but after reading The Power of Habit this year, I wonder if I just need to set up a really great routine so my brain just wants to get to writing because that's what it knows. How awesome would that be? Do you reward yourself for writing? Or do you have a stellar routine that works for you?

My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
This week, I didn't get to my goal of writing every day. I'm super bummed but part of me knew that I was going to the retreat today and knew I would really get to focus on my writing so I let myself not push myself to write. It's sad to look back and think of how little writing I did...but at the same time, I'd rather think about how I can be better this week than to dwell on the pit of last week.

For this upcoming week, I'm going to get as much done as I can at the retreat and then try to write first thing in the morning after I get back. I've been getting up around 5:00 to get to work early. If I work out at night and shower, then I can get up and write in the morning and then head off to work. We'll see if this works...but it feels amazing to have a plan. I'll have to see how things go and adjust next week. Instead of writing book reviews this week, I'm going to give myself that time to really focus on revisions. I'm actually really excited!

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Today, in the comments section:
How do you get your butt in the chair?
Where do you like to write?
When do you like to write?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild - Must Read Mentor Text

Each week Stacia and Amanda at Collaboration Cuties host a Must-Read Mentor Texts link-up. There is a different theme focus every week throughout the month and blogs can link up on Sundays. I'll be rotating through reviews of different mentor texts for language arts, math, science, and social studies. You can check out their blog for previous link-ups to connect with other mentor texts they have shared and other bloggers have reviewed, too. This week, we're talking mentor texts for social studies!

Title: Mr. Tiger Goes wild 
Author: Peter Brown 
Illustrator: Peter Brown 
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: September 3, 2013  
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Are you bored with being so proper?
Do you want to have more fun?
Mr. Tiger knows exactly how you feel. So he decides to go wild.
But does he go too far? 
From Caldecott Honor artist Peter Brown comes a story that shows there's a time and place for everything...even going wild. 
What I Think: Today, I picked a maybe untraditional picture book for a social studies mentor text but I love this book so much and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how it does really talk about people and society and culture and to me, that's social studies.
     First of all, this book is great to read with students to talk about being yourself and following your own dreams. One of the classes I took this summer focused on young adolescent development. We looked closely at Erik Erickson's theory of psychosocial development. The identity versus role confusion stage is so critical and it's important that we help students navigate this stage. I love that Mr. Tiger recognize how he might like to change things up and then he follows his dreams. Reading Mr. Tiger Goes Wild with this lens would be great for students of any age.
     It's also a book that I think relates to trying something new or different. Earlier this year a friend told me about the diffusion of innovations which is a theory that attempts to look at how, why and at what rate new ideas and technologies spread through cultures. It's a neat little graph that shows different people: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards. Everett Rogers wrote a whole book on this theory in the 60's entitled Diffusion of Innovation. I had never heard of the diffusion of innovations but it fascinates me. My department last year focused on supporting adult learners and encouraging adult learners to adopt the growth mindset. This helped me see how not everyone is going to jump on board with a new idea, but I believe that if you get a few people going and modeling something new or different and talking about it (especially why and why it's worthy of trying) than others will hopefully follow along. Sometimes being that innovator or an early adopter isn't always easy  so I loved reading this book and seeing that even though it wasn't easy for Mr. Tiger to make the decision to go wild, he believed in himself and trusted his instincts and went for it. How many times in life to we try something new? Hopefully, a lot of times! Stretching ourselves is how we grow and as lifelong learners, we should be pushing ourselves to grow. Mr. Tiger could be the growth mindset mascot! Just keep him in mind when you try something new...and share his story with students and talk to them about trying something new. It can be scary but it can also be invigorating. In the end, Mr. Tiger is a leader. I love it!
     Besides the themes in this book, I love it as a mentor text to talk about dialogue. We get to hear about Mr. Tiger from the narrator but to show what the other characters in the book think about Mr. Tiger, Peter uses the other characters' thought or talking bubbles to show us what they think of Mr. Tiger. Dialogue is super powerful in writing because it lets readers into the heads of other characters. While readers may have a limited point-of-view or even a broad point-of-view, hearing what a character says lets readers see how others perceive the main character(s). In this case it's completely brilliant because we easily connect with Mr. Tiger but it's imperative to his story that we are reminded how his friends and others see him. Through their eyes, we realize how wild Mr. Tiger truly goes.
     I have two more things to point out before my final thought about Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. One is that the artwork is awesome. It's just awesome. I've enjoyed Peter Brown's style in his other books, but the colors and the shapes in this book are great. He uses color and shapes/lines to really show the different between Mr. Tiger's proper life and his wild life. It's fantastic. And, related to the artwork, this book has movement. There are a few moments when my kids and I just looked at the pictures and laughed and roared. When I think about the funny parts, it's because something funny is happening on the pages but each of those moments seem to come to life in my head because the illustrations are full of inferences that come to life as you read. I'm not sure how to articulate this well, but when you read it, I think you'll see how it just seems like Mr. Tiger is running all around through the book. Again, it's simply awesome.
     Here's my final thought: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is Caldecott worthy. I said it, and you heard it here! I'm not usually one to get caught up in the awards or in anticipating what books will win awards but I honestly believe Mr. Tiger Goes Wild deserves it this year. Bravo, Mr. Brown!
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 12 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 12  
Read With: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf  Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, It's a Book by Lane Smith   
Snatch of Text: 
"He wanted to loosen up.
He wanted to have fun.
He wanted to be...wild." 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Making Inferences, Visualizing 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Expository, Persuasive, Anaphora, Dialogue, Personification
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you did something different from everyone else, be sure to include how you felt and how you dealt with that feeling. Choose something you feel strongly about - whether it's a feeling or a belief or a thing people should do or try - and explain why you support it. Take that a step further and create a persuasive artifact that encourages others to try something new - make sure to include evidence of why they should try this.
Topics Covered: Instincts, Trust, Belief, Adversity, Leadership, Culture, Integration - Social Studies  
I *heart* It:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It and Poetry Friday

Today Sherry at Semi-Colon is hosting Poetry Friday. 
Be sure to visit and check out the other Poetry Friday posts! 
Thank you, Sherry!

Title: Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It 
Author: Gail Carson Levine  
Illustrator: Matthew Cordell 
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Publication Date: March, 2012 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Poetry/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: 
This Is Just to Say

If you’re looking 

for a nice happy book

put this one down 
and run away 

Forgive me 

and good cheer 
                                                     are boring

Inspired by William Carlos Williams’s famous poem ”This Is Just to Say,” Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine delivers a wickedly funny collection of her own false apology poems, imagining how tricksters really feel about the mischief they make. Matthew Cordell’s clever and playful line art lightheartedly captures the spirit of the poetry. This is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever apologized . . . and not really meant it.  
What I Think: After nErDcamp, someone (I *think* it was Franki?) suggested we could have taken a whole session to talk about Jon Klassen's book I Want My Hat Back. I haven't gotten tired of talking about that book yet and actually shared both I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat with some of my new co-workers this week. I love hearing someone giggle as they read through it and debating whether they are Team Rabbit or Team Bear...or neither, afterwards. It was so perfect that I discovered this book, Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It by Gail Carson Levine. I laughed out loud throughout this book because of the great poems Gail puts together. Lots of the poems have connections to fairy tales which make them perfect to pair with traditional fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
     Gail also does a few great things in this book that make is to unique. Gail puts the introduction to the book a few poems into the collection. I loved that she did this. I was completely pulled in by the poems but then all of a sudden, she takes time to explain where the form for the poems originated. She explains that William Carlos Williams wrote the original poem that prompted her poems. She talks about how to imitate the form and how it's okay to play with it a little bit or to simply fit your poem into the structure that is set up. I love that she makes it sounds so easy to write the poem. Sometimes we need to hear that something has been done for us and that we can easily add our own creativity. What a great way to get kids into poetry. I have a feeling kids would also be able to come up with lots of instances when they or someone else did something they may not have been truly sorry for doing...and Gail makes sure to tell readers that if they are going to try writing their own "This Is Just to Say" poems that they truly should have some mean-ness to them. This book is a perfect mentor text for getting kids into poetry!
Read Together: Grades 3 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 12 
Read With: I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, traditional versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves or others 
Snatch of Text:  
This Is Just to Say

I swiped 
your lucky

made you tragically
the state playoff

Forgive me
the cap
keeps the sun
out of my eyes

Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Poetry, Personal Narrative 
Writing Prompts: Choose a character from a book who you don't believe was sincere about something he or she did and write your own "This Is Just to Say" poem. Use the form Gail Caron Levine uses to construct you poem. Write your own "This Is Just to Say" poem about a time in your life when you did something you didn't feel bad about.
Topics Covered: Honesty, Family, Humor, Sincerity  
I *heart* It:
Here's my own "This Is Just To Say" poem from the rabbit's perspective from I Want My Hat Back!

This Is Just to Say
By Jen Vincent

I have stolen
your hat
and pointy

which you 
have searched and searched for
cannot live without

Forgive me
it looks better
on me

Feel free to write your own if these give you some inspiration. And please share! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shark in the Library!

Title: Shark in the Library! 
Author: Cari Meister  
Illustrator: Remy Simard 
Publisher: Capstone Publishers 
Publication Date: September, 2010 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel 
GoodReads Summary:  Noah is thrilled when the week's library theme is sea creatures. But when Noah can't find the stuffed shark, he is disappointed. Noah knows there is a shark in the library, and he is going to find it!
What I Think: This simple graphic novel is a great introduction to graphic novels in general and students visiting the library at school. At the beginning of this book, there is a guide for how to read graphic novels, outlining which direction to read the pictures. I'm a huge fan of graphic novels so it's exciting to see graphic novels for young readers. This book would make a great read aloud in the library because it talks about visiting the library and doing research in the library. It can also introduce graphic novels and teachers or librarians could show students where they can find the graphic novels in the library. The artwork is bright and cute and I can see how students would enjoy this as an entry into graphic novels.
     After reading this book, students could be asked to develop some kind of visual representation of how to use the library or appropriate library behavior. I have seen science teachers ask students to make posters to show the safety rules in the classrooms. Students could make something similar for the library and add in a paragraph that outlines why they need to be quiet or why they need to return books on time, etc. Letting students get creative about what they produce gives them freedom to develop something unique for the library and also gives them the opportunity to take ownership in what happens in the library.
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 2 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 2 
Read With:  Balloon Toons books like Adopt a Glurb by Elise Gravel
Snatch of Text: See inside the book. 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Expository 
Writing Prompts: Write about one of your visits to the library, maybe your first first or your most recent visit. Create a visual piece that teaches other students about the library; how to use the library or how to behave in the library.
Topics Covered: Exploration, Discovery, Learning 
I *heart* It:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Giant Pandas and Pandas

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, I'll review non-fiction picture book. (It may not always be a picture book. Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other non-fiction books are shared this week!

Title: Giant Pandas (Endangered and Threatened Animals) 
Author: Brenda Haugen  
Publisher: Capstone Press 
Publication Date: July 2012  
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Informational/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Describes the life cycle and characteristics of pandas, including physical and environmental threats to the species. 
Snatch of Text: "On a cold, wet mountain in central China, a black and white bear sits in a dimly lit forest. Sunlight streams through the coniferous trees, shining its light on the bamboo growing beneath. The giant panda chews a stalk of the woody grass. Its powerful jaws make quick work of its meal. The panda is in no hurry. The shy animal will move only bout 500 yards (457 meters) all day. Pandas spend most of their waking hours filling their round bellies with bamboo.
     Many species of bamboo grow in the forests. Despite the variety, pandas only like 25 types of bamboo. And only a few are found where pandas call home. But that's not all. Fewer forests mean fewer pandas. This unique bear is disappearing." (p. 4)  
I *heart* It:

Title: Pandas (National Geographic Kids) 
Author: Anne Schreiber    
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books 
Publication Date: January 2010 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Informational/Picture Book  
GoodReads Summary: The whole world loves panda bears. Everyone loves to watch them play, climb, cuddle, and chew. But careful, they can scratch too—just look at that tree! Pandas live in wild places very faraway, and they are the STAR ATTRACTIONS of every zoo that keeps them safe and well, all over the world.  
Snatch of Text: "Bamboo for breakfast, bamboo for lunch, bamboo for dinner, and bamboo to munch. What do pandas eat? You guessed it - bamboo! It makes up almost all of a panda's diet." (p. 12) 

I *heart* It:
What I Think: I learned so much about giant pandas and red pandas even. These books work well separately but also together. We read the National Geographic book first, it's more of an introduction to pandas and their habits and habitats. There are some panda jokes throughout the book that were amusing. Overall, this book is more colorful and visually appealing.
     Giant Pandas is a more specific resource that shares more information about the giant pandas being endangered, what is being done to support them, and what readers can do to help. It also has a few great visuals that help readers understand the information that is being presented. While the colors are more muted, there is a great map that shows how the size of the pandas' habitat has changed from prehistoric times until now and a comparison of how big a giant panda actually is to a six-foot-tall man. The text features in this book seemed to be much more helpful and clear.
     Pandas are completely adorable, the photographs of the pandas in both of the books are wonderful and charming. They seem to capture the true gentle spirit of pandas. By reading both of these, we learned a lot about pandas. While I knew they ate lots of bamboo and that there are not many pandas left, I didn't quite understand just how much bamboo they really eat or how few pandas there are in the world. Sharing these two books is a great way to compare two resources and then to head off to do more research to find other resources to compare. Students could research more information about pandas or even learn more about endangered animals and the impact humans are having on animal habitats and animals in general.
Read Together: Grades K - 6 
Read Alone: Grades K - 6 
Read With: Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Author's Purpose, Using Non-Fiction Text Features
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Persuasive, Compare and Contrast 
Writing Prompts: After reading about pandas, write a persuasive argument to convince readers to support pandas or other endangered animals in some way.  
Topics Covered: Integration - Science, Endangered Animals, Compassion, Integration - Social Studies 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The One Where I Go to Google #slice2013

Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here. 

*          *          *

Last week, I drove down to the Google Offices in Chicago with my new colleague, Brian, to attend a Science Fist STEM Social that one of our other colleagues, Marc, hosts. I could spend a whole post talking about the adventure we had just getting there barely on time on an almost empty tank of gas but instead I'll talk about the event itself. 

Science Fist is an organization Marc founded with other educators to bring after school STEM programs to students. This event was a STEM social cohosted by Science Fist where educators and others involved in STEM program could attend, network and this time, learn specifically about Raspberry Pis. 

I love technology but I honestly don't know much about the insides of all my fancy gadgets. From what I (now) understand, a Raspberry Pi is essentially a little computer the size of a credit card. Literally, the whole thing can fit inside of an Altoids tin. Basically, you can buy this little guy and then hook it up to a monitor or TV and go from there. You can upload an application to a flash drive and plug it in and run that application, or you can use an application like Scratch and learn how to program the computer to do what you want it to do. Here's what a Raspberry Pi looks like:
We heard from a few different people who know all sorts about Raspberry Pi but I was most impressed by John Moosemiller, a recent graduate from a local high school. He told his story of convincing some of his friends to buy Raspberry Pis with him and how they taught themselves what to do with them. You can visit John's YouTube page for videos about what he has done with Raspberry Pi. He also started an organization with friends called Project LEAD - which stands for Project Learn Everything Applying DIY (Do It Yourself) which focuses on giving students the tools to take learning into their own hands. It was pretty impressive to hear John speak and then to talk with him afterwards. Brian and I were curious how early students might start playing around with a Raspberry Pi and talked with a principal who used it with 5th graders this year but who believes even a 1st or 2nd grader could start to learn about the pieces, how they work together, and start to try some of the basic programming with support. Did I mention a Raspberry Pi is less than $50? That might be the most exciting part, kids can really get to work learning about computer science for a pretty reasonable cost.
I was so glad that I went (and made it...and they let us into the Google offices because we got there in the knick of time...) to this event. After the presentations, I met a few people from my district who are also excited about expanding and growing the world of STEM. As much as I love technology, I know more about technology and literacy or technology and connecting and networking than I do about technology and science, and engineering and math. That's the part of my job as a coordinator of instructional technology where I'll be learning a lot this year. Sitting in the Google offices, listening to people brainstorm how they could see using a Raspberry Pi with students to gauge air quality or bake bread, completely had my head feeling like it was ready to explode...but it's exactly the kind of feeling I love. I love that I get to have experiences like this that really force me to lean into discomfort, or in this case jump into discomfort with two feet. 

I could have felt completely out of place and disconnected at this event, but going with a colleague, asking questions to learn more, and being open to hearing others' experiences, really helped to make me feel like I was part of the STEM family. I think having this type of attitude when it comes to new learning is so important. It also made me realize how important it is for us to model this attitude for students. So often, it's easy to shut ourselves off from new experiences, from trying new things, or being vulnerable to admitting we don't have the answers - especially as teachers. I believe by owning the fact that there are things we don't know or can't do is crucial in making an impact on students. Thinking back to Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck, she asserts that we need to teach kids how our brain works and that we can learn if we only try. But first we need to be honest and open about not knowing something, only then can we be open to learning and can learning happen. 
Have you had an experience with leaning into discomfort recently? Do you ever get stressed out when you are learning or experiencing something new? And how do you deal with it, or what helps you manage that discomfort? How might recognizing this help you support students who might be living in a state of leaning into discomfort as they experience a new school year or new experiences in school? I would love to hear your thoughts!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/28/2023

  It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop hosted by Kelle...