Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy Lunar New Year!

So... it is a New Year!  Today begins the Year of the Horse!

Since I seem to have lost about 2 months in my posting, I will eliminate the traditional Holiday Greetings!
Needless to say, I hope I did not offend by forgetting this traditional time.

 I love the Lunar New Year as it gives me a chance to regroup myself after the craziness of the end of our traditional calendar year - 15 days.  It also helps that I love Chinese Food, and it gives me a reason to order out Lemon Chicken.

I will begin my New Year, as always trying to organize myself, my mind, and my environment so I make better use of all.  This seems like a tall order, but with everything that goes in in my life, it will become necessary.

My stitching continues on fast an furious; learning to make those great traditional holiday stockings like my grandmother made; practicing the art of "double knitting" for warm hats, re-upholstering chairs and making throw pillows.  My students continually surprise me with what they want to make, so as they challenge themselves they challenge and inspire me.  

I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on the Master's Capstone Project - Linking Family and Consumer Science with STEAM education. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

The results of my research show a direct correlation, but the implementation of the integration is lacking. So now I have to ask:
  • Have we silo'd  education so much that the practical applications have become so far removed that students can not see the links?  
  • Have we as FCS teachers done such a good job that we have created our own obsolescence?  
  • If the above is true, then why the high levels of obesity, lack of financial literacy, and screams for teaching Critical Thinking and Creativity?
So my year of the Horse will gallop on at breakneck speed - I just hope I can hold on for the ride!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Presentation Week

I've been teaching for nine years in New Jersey and I am blessed.  Even though teachers are much maligned as being selfish, lazy and basically unfit to teach our children, I do not see it.  I don't say this lightly as I have experience the business management side of life also.  There are bad seeds in all professions but those bad seeds do not define the profession.  Unfortunately for teachers, we are paid by the taxpayer; the taxpayer who believes they know how to teach better than the classroom teacher - you know - we all went to school so we are experts.
Atlantic City Convention Center

In New Jersey we as teachers are given an amazing opportunity the first week of November.  The NJEA teacher convention.  It's not a great opportunity because we aren't teaching, it is a great opportunity to hone our craft of teaching, without taking the time out of the class.
Nine years ago, 2 months into my first teaching position, I entered a professional development workshop on teaching Financial Literacy.  My life changed.  In that one, 1 1/2 hour workshop I learned more than a book could have taught me.  The ideas I took away that I could easily implement into my classroom were priceless.  The cost of the workshop - FREE!  Learning from your peers was something that ignited a spark.

So this year I am wearing a different hat; I am a presenter.  I have the honor of presenting 3 different times at the convention.

Presenting for the New Jersey Cooperative Education Association I will offer "To Market, To Market", an overview of teaching the entrepreneurial skill sets of creativity through Project Based Learning.  This will give the participants some hands-on experiences that can be integrated into teaching creativity - a 21st Century Life Skill that is cited a necessary for success in the future.    Enjoy playing the Market Game developed for the PBS show "To Market, To Market to buy a Fat Pig"  Game designed by Jared Weinstock of Drexel University (my alma mater! go Dragons!)

 In High Tech Hall, with informal drop in sessions I will be sharing two different Web 2.0 tools that can be used by many educators. - a mindmap tool that includes presentation and collaboration elements.  This tool keeps evolving, with so many ways to put it to use in the classroom and life in general - check it out - there is a free version with limited features. is another tool that I will present.  This government site offers a glimpse into the Dietary Guidelines recommended by the USDA.  There are many wonderful tools that can be incorporated into many different classrooms, at all different levels.

So, I am not taking a vacation.  I am working hard at making sure the presentations are useful to the teachers who attend.  I've come a long way since I walked into the convention 9 years ago and am truly blessed to have this opportunity.  I know that teachers throughout the country would love the opportunity.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

System Malfunction

I have been so consumed with the writing of my research paper that I have neglected this blog for awhile.  It is time now to rectify that.  The goal of this blog is to identify methods that can integrate technology with the practical world in which we live.  Although I focus much on textiles, and the process of making while using the technological tools available, I think it is important to identify why technology has been created.
I believe that all the technological processes and tools are there to create an ease of completion in whatever task that needs to be done.
            With that being said, I had the opportunity this month to discover the potential of serious malfunctions with technology as it is seen by the consumer.
             As a consumer who has had a tremendous number of years in the field of customer service, I try to be a patient customer.  This was not the case this month as I attempted to purchase 2 chairs.

After waiting for 8 weeks to have the custom designed chairs delivered; they were.  The fabric was right, yet both chairs had recliner mechanism issues, padding issues and general poor workmanship.  After following the "corporate" policies; sending out a repairman after two weeks waiting it was determined that the cost of repairing the chairs would be over and above the cost of replacing.  But wait - the Michigan office needs to send paperwork - even though it is in the computer to allow for a re-selection - Never mind that the customer is in the store, ready to do so.  Oh, you decide you want a floor sample - well, we need to wait for the supervisor in Michigan (who won't be in for two days) to contact the Store Manager (who is scheduled off two days from now), it is because we need to make sure the "Inventory" department is correct.

So how about we "problem solve" here - the customer is willing to take a different chair, out of the clearance selection, off the floor in two of the local stores.  The customer is willing to deliver back to the store the two damaged chairs.  The customer is willing to change the design of her room, so that the problem and sale can be complete within four months of paying cash for the chairs.

* Response - but the computer system isn't set up for that!  The inventory system will be all messed up!

Note to retailers:  You will not be in business without your customers.

Thank goodness, after me being more patient than I ever thought possible, I was able to convince Kathy, the Store Manager of LaZBoy Gallery, Turnersville, NJ that policies are there to create a system, but that sometimes exceptions and good old common sense needs to be put into practice.  Don't let a computer system run the show - that would take the human element out of a creative career opportunity.

Now the company went from an unhappy customer to one who is at least satisfied.  Not exactly exuberantly happy, but at least the chairs are working, and satisfy my needs.

The point of this post - remember your ultimate goal when utilizing technology and systems.  They should not be the defining answer to all situations.  Make the system work for you!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Family and Consumer Science in the news...

So last week Dan Abrams on Good Morning America, part of the Jury's Out segment commented that parents should teach their children "Home Ec".  Jury's Out - Bring Back Home Ec?

So many responses came in supporting "Home Ec" - known as Family and Consumer Science, thank you very much, led to Dan Abrams visiting Belleville, New Jersey where he got to spend a class period in "Intro to Culinary".  He was a student in the class with 15 students, taught by "J" one of many FCS teachers in New Jersey, AAFCS member and an FCCLA adviser.

Yeah J! Thanks for representing us.  I am sure that he had his eyes opened as to how it's not just "cooking", but that the essential skills of life are all intertwined.

So everyone - tune in to "Good Morning America" tomorrow morning, the segment is due to be aired!