Saturday, August 20, 2011

Patching together the summer

     What a summer!  As I get ready to gear up for the upcoming school year, although I do not think I ever stopped, I am wondering where this so called "free" time has gone. 
     Summer school is over; the students seemed to have a good time; especially putting together the play.  We truly did not think they would pull it all together - but they did.  A great theme- having a positive attitude.  I think how often we all need that little reminder that it could always be worse, and that just a little bit of ambition and effort will make us successful.  The girls did a great job singing "The Climb" and Ray was amazing as "Bug's Bunny".  I'm proud of them all.
     Seems that everything I wanted to get done this summer is starting to get completed.  It makes me feel so successful when the three quilts I started are completed; even with the interuption of having my sewing room dismantled for several days.  Didn't think it would cause alarm, but I certainly had problems finding all the tools I needed.  Even managed to sew 100 lanyards for FCCLA fundraising.  So any of you Southern cohorts - see me for custom designed and created lanyards!
    I managed some free time - see the linked Shutterfly book for a view of 2 day trips.  Had a great time exploring some of natures bounties within an hour of my home.  The Morris Aboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and Batsto Lake and Village were just two of the short trips we took this summer.
    So the pieces are coming together - better than unravelling... summer is waning, but we have fall to look forward to!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sweltering Summer Stitching

It's been a little more than a month since I have added anything to this patchwork of thoughts.  Taking some time off to regroup and organize for the upcoming school year.  I have managed to get 3 units of curriculum rewritten, integrating some of the great technology tools we learned this past spring.  I can't wait to begin classes!  On a personal note, it's been hot in Jersey - just when you want the air conditioning to finally die.  It lasted about 40 years, so I guess it didn't owe us anything - just did it have to die during a heat wave?
Now that it is up and running again I can focus on finishing some of the quilts I have contracts for.

The family heritage research continues - turns out my great-great grandmother was also a graduate of Drexel University Home Economics - back in the early 1900's -  I graduated from Drexel Home Economics  in 1980.  The things that we as family members have in common!  I even found out that one of the aides I am working with this summer is related to the "Parker" family of Parkertown, New Jersey - That's on my grandpop's side of the family.  So now my family circle is enlarging - like the 525 members is not enough...
so back to finding out the snippets of information that is my family history.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pieces falling into place

Schools is out, but my research continues.  As part of learning instructional technology I thought I would take upon research into my family history; so many times the people in our families have led us to be the people we are today.  I seem to have an interest in the women of my family at the turn of the century - 1900!  After researching Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards, I was wondering what I could find out about my great - great grandmother, Charlotta Yhlen Olsen.  Little information was noted on the geneology information that I had, so off I went.

Turns out she was in the 21st graduating class of  the Womens Medical College of Pennsylvania.  According to the records, she graduated in 1873 after spending 3 years studying medicine; at a time when women were not able to join men in the same classrooms or clinics.  Drexel University has done a great job archiving the actual documents online.  Through these archives, I've seen her matriculation - graduation announcement and her actual thesis:  30 pages HANDWRITTEN on the subject of Glaucoma.  I am so glad that I am a student in the 21st Century!  Not only do I have equal access to what men have, I have the ability to research without walking into a library, have millions of research papers to review, collaboration and communication is instantaneous and last, but certainly not least - I do not have to write it by hand - hence it is legible!

Could her belief in education, no matter the obstacles have something to do with my interest in continuing my education?  Sometimes working with the tsunami of technology seems like a huge obstacle to me, but like my GG Grandmom, I will continue to put all pieces together ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Works in Progress

Well, our second class is over, and work is submitted, but is it done?  I know for a fact that my work is ready for editing and updating already after seeing some of the additional tools that were presented yesterday.  The end of the school year has brought me mixed feelings: glad to finish up another year, sad that I will have to change my routines - I am comforted in having so much to do, energized to delve into energizing my lesson plans for next year, relishing the thought of some down time just to check out books at my new local library and create a few quilt projects.  I'm searching for my creativity this summer!

 Changing Education Paradigms is an interesting RSA animation video narrated by Sir Kenneth Robinson.  Check it out, enjoy the graphics, and truly think objectively at his opinion.  His belief that we need to change how we think about educating our population based on our society structure.  Some ideas are so simple, I wonder how we did not think of them before. 

 I am looking forward to my summer, but can't wait to get back to class in September.
I said I would post some of our creative toys made with recycled fabrics, they are soft and cuddly, created and designed by 8th grade students.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Trash into Toys

This week we were busy learning the basics of creativity in my 8th grade Family and Consumer Science Class. We began creating a toy for a preschool child. Being as it is the end of the year, and that most supplies have been used already, neccessity becomes the mother of invention. Goal: Learn basic sewing techniques, and develop a toy using resources that were rereadily available. Our solution: Cut up those old Tee Shirts and bedspreads that are laying around collecting dust. Those shirts have been recycled into some really creative stuffed animals - they are so much softer that felt. The chenille bedspread - well that turned into bears and puppets. Pictures will follow this coming week; but while you are waiting, enjoy this video lecture through the TED lectures. "Toys Teach" - this is the point of the lecture, and amazingly we don't need much money to make it happen!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The little things you need to know...

In keeping with the fruit fly theme that was introduced to us with the Virtual Fruit Fly Lab of Sally's, followed by the fruit fly "blabberize" by Darlene, I thought I would add my two cents worth.  Kids need healthy bugs, is an interesting article about the healthy bacteria that is needed in kids (and adults) stomachs for healthy nutrition.  As you read the article you wil see that the healthy bugs tend to generate from FRUIT!  That certainly is no surprise to the Fruit Fly!  In light of that it is important that we get to know our New Dietary Guidelines that were just released by the USDA.  the new guide to healthy eating!
Time to eat fruit - timing is great as all the local fruit are starting to rippen.  Strawberries are juicy and healthy; and those blueberries are heavy on the bushes now - expect to see them at the farmers markets soon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Are We There Yet?

I just found this link to Real Simple, with games that are fun to play with kids .... so as you begin the summer travel, one or two of these may come in handy.  Most are not technologically advanced, but creativity is a sought after commodity.  Let's help kids THINK!
27 Low-Cost, High-Imagination Games Real Simple

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I was thinking of tesselations the other day because I need to design a quilt.  I know what a tesselation is, but in my never ending quest to gain meanings of words and labels, I thought I would search for a definition.  According to  a tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again covering a plane without any gaps or overlaps.  I'm sure Mr. Brady taught me that in 8th grade, but that is ancient history - glad to know I've been using it all these years.  So how does this relate to our Instructional Technology class?  I'm not really sure, but I am trying to cover all bases, learning and gleaning information that will enable me to reach my goals for this program.

Monday offered another array of tools and the instructional applications; the Fly Lab was intriguing, definately glad I won't be seeing any additional Fruit Flies in our room.  Zunal is a great tool - I really like the fact that all the links are right in front of the student, including the assessment.  This will make my webquest so much easier to manage with the class.  Storybird is perfect for a child development class.  I try to teach my students the importance in early literacy and reading within child development; this will give me a tool to create an age appropriate story, without worrying about student artistic talent.  Befuddlr - cool tool for photo's and notes - I'm going to try to put together a unit on kitchen tools (you know, those tools that actually tell you what they are) 

Well back to my quilt design... enjoy a completed design of a memory quilt.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More from the piles of scraps called life...

Life is so fun... and the learning never ends.  I've been working on this project of a family tree, tracing our family with a cousin who really does not know many of his extended family.  Well through a little questioning and a mother who had some "stuff" we found out we were related to a soldier from the US Revolutionary War... then she pulls out a paper showing membership of a Great-Great Grandmother in the "Sons & daughters of the Mayflower"... so... off we go on that search.  Now we have linked the family together through several generations using Family Mingle, a fun way to communicate and keep track of all those important dates.  It stays private, so we can collaborate across the many miles that keep us apart.  So while I should be working on my contract items, I search for the "scraps of fabric" that made me into the "complete quilt" that I am. So far I have done this using free sites - has a clearing house on all sorts of information, and others who are doing the same. Oh yeah - one of my ancestors was hung on Sept 22, 1692 in Salem, MA as a "witch" - Doesn't that explain ALOT!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Threads that keep us together

Throughout our life there are threads that hold us together.  The threads that stayed strong this past week were my team members.  Through marathon skyping on weekends, combined with working lunches and independent work, we managed to pull together a project we were equally proud of.  Kudo's to Scott and Julie.  The amazing thing was how they kept me sane - Thanks.

Speaking of threads, I did take an evening off to visit with my cousin and her family that came in from Durban, South Africa for a short visit.  Had the opportunity to work with her son, Jed, to organize our extended family tree.  We sat side by side with our laptops, entering the information we knew into the coolest site, Family Mingle.  From zero to 144 family members in two days.  Check out the site, it allows for secure photo albums, contact information, calendars, event planning, message board...  I know it is not "education related" but it is allowing us to organize our family using the family papers we have floating around.  I can't wait to be able to send out birthday cards on time - the calendar is GREAT! Hopefully none of the family will pass out when they get their card on time!

Well onward we go... here's a quilt to keep you warm after the FREEZE!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

$2M school cafeteria camera study creates controversy

This one is for the books -
$2M school cafeteria camera study creates controversy

There have been many ways we have tried to combat the obesity epidemic, but is
"Big Brother" the answer? This seems that it has no sound educational background
behind it. Seems to me that the San Antonio School District has been SOLD a bill
of goods. For $2 million we could pay some Family and Consumer Science teachers
to teach nutritional decision making, involving the community. Students will eat
what their parents eat; so making them feel guilty at school will have little affect at
all on the kids. 
So on several levels this just seems wrong:
  • $2 million federal tax dollars being spent in five schools
  • The lack of privacy as to what is eaten
  • The kids realize that they could just easily rearrange what is on their plates when they throw them out.
  • We aren't teaching children good eating habits - If we don't offer the poor choices, the students will not eat them.
Let's get real - teach nutrition in a real way, let them experience real food, healthy food and they will eat it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I remember a time, not so long ago, when we had to go to sleep because the TV stopped broadcasting.
I remember a time, no zerox machines, we carried books and paper and pencils; copied and figured.

I remember when the TV showed us Sit-coms (Situation Comedies) when families were disfunctional in a very functional way.  No such thing as reality TV,we wanted our reality to be the Partridge's or Brady's.
I remember when the computer game first came out at Christmas - it was the gift that the rich kids got (I did not, but Bobbi did) - I was in college that year - remember Atari and the first Pong; followed quickly by Space Invaders.
We did not have computer games in school - in fact the most games we played were pick up football and basketball.
Computers were the size of my house, and you had to carry those silly punch cards around and hope they did not drop, when they fell it certainly messed up the program - not really - it just would not run.
The Apple IIe came to Drexel the year I graduated - it was going to save time, money and paper.
31 years later and I may be saving some paper - but I certainly am not saving time - who could know how much time it would take to learn all of these new tools and review the theories and pioneers.
Luckily I am enjoying the time I spend.  So many tools, so little time for use.
It's a brave new world, and the brave will be the "outlayers".

The year is winding down; last night I watched the middle school awards ceremony.  The kids looked so nice dressed up, and it was wonderful to see so many proud parents.  It is hard work to keep the grades up to all A's.  My congratulations go out to all those students.
This week will be topped off with the PFFE test - it has been a long time since I took a computerized test, but since I'm getting so good at keyboarding...

Today was breakfast all day in my class.  Great pancakes and french toast, but that 4th period class out did themselves with an awesome breakfast buffet.  I love it when they eat nutritious meals - even the die hard carnivores ate the fruit salad!  I'm sure that they felt well fueled for the rest of the day!  The responses on the lab evaluations are gratifying.  Setting the evaluation up on the laptop was  stroke of genius if I say so myself - No paper and I can grade them easily!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Crazy Quilt of Life

Crazy quilts are awesome - they take the chaos of my fabric scrap box and turn into gorgeous heirlooms.  This week the only quilts I can possible think about making are "Crazy".  So much is going on it reminds me of a crazy quilt.  Crazy quilts have been around for a long time, generally becoming popular in the late 1870's after the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition  where the public experienced the Assymetrical art of Japan.  Throughout history, the practical arts offer creative outlets for those who needed a voice.  How awesome it is to have the opportunity to blend such traditional arts with technology - I live in a great time!

This IT History project is large; working with Julie and Scott will keep me sane.  The research has been eye opening, and I'm beginning to see how everything works and connects.  Coming up with creative tools and ideas for my contract items has been challenging, but I am finding some items that will create a cohesive cluster of work that will be beneficial to my instructional goals.

Just found out that I need to take a 3 hour Personal Financial Literacy test - this is to develop the cut offs for the national certification.  I guess I need to study up to make sure I remember all the technical jargon and figure out percentages!!

Tomorrow is Chef for a Day - looking forward to seeing Sara's healthy dessert prepared.  The kids seem excited, and I am very proud that Sara is in FCCLA with me.

And on top of all this we have the ASK testing.  Long drawn out testing, leaving the kids bouncing off  the wall.

The good news is that when all of this combines together it will help develop us into the people we were meant to be.  Like the crazy quilt that keeps us warm and comforted - well tonight we might need that quilt!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another stitch in time

Well it is May!  I can't believe how fast this year is flying by.  Today I was outside, enjoying a beautiful spring day that wa sunny and warm.  The dogwood is blooming and look so clean.  The rain that came in the past few weeks certainly helped to make the day great - if it had not rained, the plants would not be as green as they are.  Discovered a cardinal nest in a bush nearest the woods - 3rd year in a row.  Guess they like the food we provide.

Worked more on my Instructional Technology class.  It's hard, and I still have problems remembering those passwords.  Had a chance to create an assignment for my students - create a PSA for food safety - using glogster - it's posted on this blog - check it out.  I had fun creating it!

Came across this cartoon - life is all about perception!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another patch in our quilt of life

Today looks like it will be a gorgeous spring day in New Jersey.  As you get out and enjoy the day, remember that our food can sometimes become dangerous.  We need to keep our food safe to prevent nasty stomach ailments.  Follow the simple safety tips that our offered through the Home Food Safety council.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Layers upon layers...

Wow, have I learned alot this past week.  That Wimba checklist was long, but searching throught the guides was worth it.  I am still trying to figure out the definition of Wimba - why can't things be called what they are?  Last night I experienced a "Snow Ball", no we did not have a mid spring blizzard, it turned out to be a microphone so that the archived library research workshop would have audio of the participants.  Glad to know the Hammonton group have the same dynamics as SRSD.  (You'll understand when you hear the beginning audio - that's what is called a "teaser" in advertising)

 I attended the Capstone presentations last evening.  I was impressed by the professionalism of the event and the products that were presented.  It certainly gave me a focus, so that this work will build up to create a usable product.  Right now there are many thoughts running through my head, but I feel by seeing the results of the program that I have direction... Now I can start building with a foundation towards my own capstone. The layers of this quilt of education are beginning to show.  The introduction to instructional technology course is certainly going to offer the foundation that all the components (scraps of fabric) will rest upon.  Well we come face-to-face in class on monday, can't wait to see you all

Just one random link for you to think upon - Los Angeles Unified School District is banning flavored milk Jamie Oliver on Jimmie Kimmel Live

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

a patch here and then another...

What a day yesterday was!  I planned on spending the afternoon in WIMBA with the optional class.  I thought my computer was already to accept all that would happen; it texted fine on April 12th.  Well, in keeping with my techno jinxing; I was not able to communicate - How many times can an error message appear?  After 7 hours of communicating with stockton help, blackboard help, comcast help and Amy, I have learned more about "hidden" history files than I ever needed or wanted to know.  Now my students know one of my favorite sayings is: "Time is Money"  Well, 7 hours of wasted spring break is PRICELESS!
Is this tech worth it?  Still not resolved, so if you see a laptop flying through the air in South Jersey, I can almost bet it's mine!

But on a better note: after all the hair pulling I went through, I actually was able to attend my 11PM Stocks and Bonds Webinar that was through "Go To Meeting".  All communication worked fine there, so I'm thinking the other issue was "Blackboard".  Learned a ton about Stocks and Bonds, and hope to use technology to practice wealth management.  Somehow I need to pay for all the technology.  Hopefully the time spent until 1AM will translate into money.

Speaking about money - found a great video about "Free Offers" that is offered through the FTC.  It is simple and to the point, and certainly something that every consumer should understand.  In case you did not know - YOU ARE CONSUMERS.  Found it on the federal gov't's blog:  federal gov't blog; check it out.
free trial

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nutrition through technology

I'm sure you are aware that the United States is facing an obesity epidemic.  Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her platform, the State of New Jersey has instituted all sorts of nutritional guidelines for school nutrition, food producers have changed their labels, restaurants need to give caloric information... and yet we all keep gaining weight. 
      Since I have the opportunity to teach nutrition, I thought it would be great to integrate some of the tools that are available to any of use with computers, or smart phones.   Tools are great, and it is important to learn how to use them, so for two days this week my students tracked and analyzed their food intake and physical activity levels on two different web 2.0 tools.  Even though we encountered a few technical glitches, the students were amazed as to how they were eating and they found ways that they could change their daily habits.  I need to para-phrase one of my students when he stated that how could we possibly know we were not eating properly when we don't know what we individually should eat.  GOOD POINT!
Enter these sites to see if you know what you should eat for a healthy diet: mypyramid tracker or Fit Day.
Both allow you to track your daily intake and physical activity.  Lets be great role models for our students!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Check out the new link

Check out the link I just posted below about financial planning and discussions with your parents.
This is a tough subject, but I expect the webinar to be interesting and informative.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Changes already!

I thought about my blog, and decided that the dandelion seeds just did not cut it.  The thought of those weeds growing shortly made me sneeze! 
Now I'm so excited because I managed to create a patchwork quilt background that really fits my personality.  I love quilting - it's a great way to recycle and reuse.  Old clothing can become the a new treasured accessory.  Those old fabrics bring back memories everytime the quilt gets used and new memories are made.  A quilt is comforting in the cold - I love them in the summer when my family turns the AC on high!  The quilt can also be symbolic - putting together the old and new to mesh into a useable and usually adored accessory.  Something like meshing together 21st century technology with the tried and true educational theory of the past.  Now I'm sure that I will continue to find ways to mesh my practical, creative side with technology - I'm inspired (but I still can't remember those silly passwords)
If you like the idea of the memories of quilts check out this great childrens book:

The Quilt Story
 Tony Johnston (author) Tomie dePaola (illustrator)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Creating in the 21st Century

I am a creator: clothing, meals, fun, entertainment, photography, art, chaos.  But today my creation takes on a whole new dimension; A BLOG.  Who knew that all those communicating devices from Star Trek would make it into my laptop.  Who does come up with this vocabulary?  A BLOG, a laptop, a WIKI, and IPOD; whatever happened to naming a tool by what it does?  You know what I'm talking about; an ice cream scoop, a blender, a mixing bowl, a sewing machine... tools that tell you what they are!  I am going into this with an open mind because I love a challenge, it wouldn't be worth getting up in the morning if I could not learn something new.  I just wish I could remember how to get onto the sites... maybe this technology will come up with a way for me to remember those silly little details.
As I study Instructional Technology I will strive to develop instructional methods based on sound research that will help my students develop into successful adults who are globally connected.  I want to make sure they are getting reasonable, realistic experiences that will develop them into responsible citizens who can make great, well thought out decisions.  I will certainly have more to follow as this journey seems to be taking off... Up, Up and A W A Y!