Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Love Story

Last Tuesday morning I fell in love.  Head over heels, irrevocably, intensely, impossibly, and wonderfully in love.  I expected it…and yet, the depth and utter wonder was unexpected and emotional.

I felt my heart expand when I laid eyes on him.  I looked closely and realized I knew him, maybe I’ve always known him. It was truly love at first sight.

How could this tiny being have so much power over me? And all of the those feelings were magnified this weekend when I met him in person.

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I am a grandma and I want to shout from the rooftops!  My baby boy now has a baby boy of his own…a tiny little boy who takes me back in time to when his father was a baby. But…it’s also so different. I get the delight of cuddling that sweet baby, smelling that incredible newborn baby smell, but I also get to hand him back to his capable mom and dad when he needs to be fed and I get to sleep when he is fussy in the middle of the night. I get to be helpful (I hope) and supportive, but the big decisions are not mine.  I can worry–but he has parents to worry for him too.

It was hard to say goodbye and go home last night, leaving that beautiful boy and his amazing parents to their new lives together as we returned home to our everyday lives. But everything has changed too, enriched by a new life and new possibility.  The world is just a bit better with that little guy in it and my world has expanded–just like my heart, and I have new things to think about, learn about, and plan for.  (And yes, the next trip to see him is already planned!)

And this is just the beginning…I will be a grandma again in the next week or so when my other son also becomes a dad.  There’s plenty of room in my heart and in my world–and I am sure that I will be falling in love again and again.  I am a grandma, it’s an incredible state of mind!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Tree

We have a quirky tree that grows along the side of our driveway.  At one time it was nearly choked to death with ivy growing up its trunk.  It has a strange spiky trunk and a few broken branches that jut out in odd directions.  But it is that very character that draws my attention to it almost every day.  And it makes a perfect frame for varying light and sky conditions.  I have tons of photos of this one tree.  I took this one earlier in the week when I noticed that it was blooming…and the sun was reflecting off the leaves.

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A few days before that I was noticing the sun, bright and summer-like, a very different kind of glow.img_9716

We had a foggy morning recently…and I had to stop as I got ready to get in my car to head to work to pull out my phone and capture the mistiness in a photograph.  I love the way the morning sun creates an almost silhouette effect

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Sometimes this one tree is the perfect frame for the sherbet colors of sunset, with soft and wispy clouds.img_9236

Or with the reds and pinks of a clearer sky.  (You may also be noticing that the tree wasn’t in bloom for these pictures.)

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The moon sometimes peeks through its branches, partially hidden in the milky white clouds.

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Gray clouds with just a splash of blue appeared on one of those rare stormy days.

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And the white puffballs look so soft you can almost feel them against the brilliant blue of the sky on this day.

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There is just something about the twists and turns of the branches of this one tree that creates interesting angles and draws my eye.  It reminds me to look up, to pay attention to the light, to the clouds, to the moon…and more.

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So, this week be on the lookout for your one tree (or one building or one hillside or one street corner) and document how it changes in different light, in different weather, at different times of the day or night.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #onetree for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Fine your one tree (or one something else) this week and spend some time noticing and documenting.  I can’t wait to see what you learn when you pay close attention to your #onetree.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Sometimes a change of scenery can be the perfect push to increase creativity.  So, instead of heading to the beach, I got on a long sleek train and headed up to Los Angeles.  I’ve only ridden a train a few times in my life, but I wanted to explore whether or not the train would be a better option than driving myself through typical weekday LA traffic.

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The Surfliner takes a coastal route as it leaves my place, offering spectacular views of the ocean.  A young woman sitting across from me on her way to Disneyland informed me that the views end when you can no longer see the ocean.  But I kept my eyes peeled for interesting images–and was rewarded by a rich palette of visual textures.

It’s interesting to see what occupies the places near the train tracks. Where the tracks are near the ocean, there are restaurants and homes…and lots of apartments.  As we moved more inland, the spaces near the tracks were filled with building goods stacked high. The rough rusted back of this sign made me wonder what it said from the other side and the stacks of yellow-tipped smooth black pipes caught my eye.

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After some very slow going because of a freight train with a lopsided load, as we came around a corner, the LA skyline came into view. Short and tall, old and new, metal and painted, my eye was drawn to the arrangements that make up downtown.img_9741

As we pulled into Union Station, I caught a glimpse of the sun peeking out from behind the nearby building.  The milky clouds, the bright sun, and the dirty train window all create an interesting textural composition.

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As we changed course and headed toward Burbank, I noticed all the lines of the electrical towers.  Vertical, horizontal, and crisscrossing lines create floating tic-tac-toe boards against the blue and white sky.

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And the LA aquaduct came into view.  These mostly empty cement riverbeds run through the city bisected with bridges of different types and purposes. In some places you might notice the tags of graffiti artists along the cement sides and ducks floating in the shallow pools.

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These iconic palms lined up in rows against the pinks and tangerines of the buildings signaled our approach to the suburbs.  And the blue skies became more mottled white as the weather shifted from summer in February to impending rain.

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As I waited for the train to take me back home later that evening, shiny wetness reflected the lights of the station. And in the distance you can see my train making its approach.

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So take a look around for some visual texture this week.  Will you find it in your ordinary outings or will you need to venture out into parts unknown?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #texture for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Keep your eyes peeled for texture this week…it may be created with color, with line, because of the clouds or even a dirty window.  I look forward to seeing how texture fills your life…and your lens!

Digital Learning Day 2016

While it seems strange to limit digital learning to a day, designating a day to highlight the ways digital learning is being integrated into formal learning experiences is an important way to showcase that digital learning is here…and should be taking place in our schools to the advantage of all our students.

This year, the focus of Digital Learning Day is the issue of digital equity…or in the form of a hashtag, #techquity.  A lot of people believe that digital equity is all about access to devices and internet…and of course, those are important issues, but #techquity is also about what students are asked to do and required to do with digital tools in their learning environments.  All too often, digital tools become virtual replacements of low level exercises formerly confined to worksheets…or they become “wow” presentations of work students already did without the digital tools, with no real digital advantage.  So the question becomes, what exactly constitutes digital equity?  This is a question we have been exploring here in San Diego in an initiative we call Smart Tech Use for Equity where teachers are documenting a tech use in their classroom, focused on whether or not this practice actually makes a difference for students.  Our work was featured in the latest issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine.

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At a recent leadership meeting at the SDAWP (San Diego Area Writing Project) we opened up a discussion about how to best highlight the work SDAWP teachers are doing with digital learning in their classrooms.  Our leadership group is a diverse cross-section of SDAWP teachers, representing levels from kindergarten to college and a variety of student demographics.  The beauty of this group is that we bring diverse experiences and opinions to the group–and are willing to engage in conversations where we do not all agree.  We discussed what we have done in the past…and what we might do in the future to share the work we know that SDAWP teachers are doing in their classrooms.

For some years now at the SDAWP we have had an SDAWP Twitter Fellow of the Week. Modeled after Sweden’s citizen Twitter campaign, SDAWP teachers share a glimpse of their teaching and their lives in San Diego. This work has allowed us to showcase the wonderful teaching and learning that takes place in our classrooms and has put us in touch with other teachers, educators, authors, and researchers from all over the country (and perhaps the world). But…it’s on Twitter and some folks are simply resistant to Twitter, so there are many educators this effort doesn’t reach.

The SDAWP also has a Facebook page.  And because of the SDAWP Facebook page, many SDAWP teachers use their personal Facebook pages to connect to one another and share what is going on in their classrooms.  But, our “official” SDAWP Facebook page doesn’t reflect this. Up to this point it has been used to share mostly external resources and pertinent information for those interested in the teaching of writing. Occasionally, we have opportunities to celebrate the teaching of our SDAWP fellows…but even though we have a team of administrators, teachers can only post prominently on the SDAWP page if they post as an administrator.  So, why not open this opportunity up to more SDAWP teachers?

So, for Digital Learning Day 2016 we launch the SDAWP Facebook Fellow of the Week. Each week a different SDAWP teacher will post something going on in her/his classroom–celebrating the students they work with and their learning efforts.  Some of the work will be specifically digital and some will not, but all will show ways SDAWP teachers strive to support the learners in their classrooms, honoring their lives and experiences in the process.

We hope to democratize our SDAWP Facebook page as a different teacher each week takes on the role of administrator and adds their own content to the page.  Of course, careful attention will be paid to student privacy…a role that teachers have become increasingly aware of in this world of digital media, in our schools, and in our lives.  We also hope that this effort will show the many ways digital equity is practiced in classrooms…and expose the inequities (many beyond the the control of classroom teachers) that still need our attention and effort.

How will you mark Digital Learning Day?