A time of reflection and renewal – a good time to revitalize this blog!picture easter eggs

With child #2 almost done with college and hopefully launching into the world, we look back and celebrate. We also look forward to new opportunities. New opportunities to serve others, to build up others, to renew others.  Onward.

A bit of paradise

I like to travel off the beaten path. During our visit to Costa Rica, we wanted to NOT stay in resorts. To that end, we wanted some time in the cloud forest, and some time on the beach.  We decided on this treehouse

picture playa matapalo

Playa Matapalo, Costa Rica

, and this beach tent. I can’t say enough about Playa Matapalo, and the beautiful beach. It was simply stunning and I look forward to returning.

Summer learning

dogr school admins

The learning never stops for DOGR teachers and administrators.

Yesterday a small group of Diocese of Grand Rapids school administrators gathered to learn about and refine social media skills. We used this wikipage as our jump page. Of course, we didn’t get to everything on the page, but rather the page served as a resource and starting point. Some of the most important pieces of the day were conversations around efficiencies for engagement, from finding time to leveraging utilities such as hootsuite, buffer, or tweetdeck.

For example, how does one find the time to engage? St. John Vianney principal Gregg Bruno (@PrincipalSJV) shared that he plans on leveraging his iPad around the school, sharing directly from the device while out in classrooms and engaging with teachers and students. He encouraged his colleagues to “model fearlessness”, and reminded them that the learning and engagement may not be perfect, that failure is OK, and that it is going to be messy.  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

And yes, I better break out this blog and get it going again myself! I tend to prefer twitter instead of taking the time to write longer blog posts, but perhaps it is time to revisit and relaunch this little ol’ blog.

A new school year starts

So, it’s true. I started a new position in May 2012 in the Office of Catholic Schools at the Diocese of Grand Rapids. We have 31 schools and nearly 6000 students – it is a humbling experience to be in a leadership position with this organization. I have had the pleasure of visiting several schools, meeting with teachers and administrators, and having fantastic discussions about their hopes, dreams, and what they need in order to provide an outstanding Catholic education. We have good people doing good work here, and I am excited to be a part of it!  I’ve decided to resuscitate this personal blog, and perhaps even start a second blog specific to my position – we’ll see! I still tend to post more on twitter and and diigo/delicious, sharing quick nuggets in those venues. So my goal? Be back in the saddle with this blog! Have a great weekend –

Google Apps for Education and the latest Google Apps for Ed Certified Trainer

So a couple questions today.   Does your school use the Google Apps for Education service? If so, are you still also licensing Microsoft Office?  If so, does your school have a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer?

I’m thinking about pursuing Google Apps certification as it will encourage me to dig deeper into the Apps than perhaps I have in the past.  Any techie friends find it particularly useful?

Working with teachers in China

July and August brought an unexpected trip to Beijing, China, to work with fantastic practicing K-12 Chinese teachers.  We had little time to prepare materials and did much work and preparation on the fly.  Fortunately I had a couple weeks to hit garage sales and take along readers, culturally interesting items, etc. to take with me. And, thanks to my extended family, even some video clips recorded during family vacation. Here is the wiki we put together for this fantastic event!

Big Huge Labs Offers Education Accounts

Have you been to Big Huge Labs lately? Did you know that you can set up education accounts so your students can create products without having to have an email? Be sure to explore the myriad of quick products such as trading cards, museum photos, motivation posters – all customizable!

Here’s a photo of our dog, Lane. Museum quality, don’t you think? lane at the museum

Connecting elementary students – the power of the learning network

I learn so much from my PLN on Twitter – from interesting websites, to student work, to asking and answering questions. I have also seen over the past couple years numerous projects where teachers are using Twitter to make a call for participation, asking for input on projects, advice, etc.

Last week this particular tweet caught my eye:

Immediately I thought to myself, what a great way to inspire young learners to create content for a real audience. I happened to be headed to work with some teachers in New Jersey at that moment, therefore I replied:

I was very excited to see what the students might create. What form would it take?  I soon received my answer the next day:

I excitedly clicked the URL to see my video (which I am linking to directly here since the Tweet above goes to the blog main page).  I was thrilled to see my video “planned and acted by 1st graders”.

Of course, I thanked the students:

I see that elementary students in different classes, not just first graders, are creating and planning videos in order to “teach” Spanish to people around the world. For additional examples, visit @wpespanyol on Twitter to see the various requests and responses.

How are you connecting your students to the world? To what authentic audiences are your students presenting? If your students are too young to connect themselves, how are you facilitating that connection?