Tag Archives: blogging

A Day for the Unexpected

I started my morning with an unexpected email from a former student…checking in, updating us on the new school year, and letting us know that she misses us.  And she reminded me that she had a couple of blog posts pending and would I please publish them.  (Her blog is still connected to my class since we haven’t started blogging yet this year in our class and her class hasn’t started blogging yet either.)

Last month she started celebrating a “person of the month”…her aunt was her person of the month for August.  Imagine my surprise when I found this afternoon that I was featured on Mallory’s blog as her September Person of the Month.  Here is a glimpse of the post:

Mrs. Douillard was very supportive of my writing career, yes I am very interested in being an author, she encouraged creative thinking and when someone said they were “done” she said you could always make things better! She taught me many different writing styles, and introduced me to blogging.

It is amazing to be celebrated publicly by a student for inspiring and encouraging her as a writer. This unexpected honor touches my heart and reminds me that the work of teachers is often not realized in the moment, it unfolds over time, often in unexpected ways.

The end of the post celebrates teachers and urges teachers to “take a day off and relax at the beach…”  By coincidence, I did stop by the beach after work today.  It’s been oppressively hot here in normally moderate San Diego, and with no air conditioning in my classroom, sweat has become part of my fashion statement!  So to cool off, I headed to the beach to dip my toes in the waves.  When I pulled up I noticed the large waves caused by the hurricane off the coast of Mexico and the towering white clouds in the sky…not just over the mountains, but more to the west and north than usual.  Of course I had to capture some pictures of the waves…although they don’t begin to capture the size and power I watched.

big surf

As I cooled my feet along the edge of the water with my sandals in my hand, still dressed in my work clothes (a skirt and top), a rogue wave surged and drenched me nearly to the waist! (Definitely cooled me off!)  I chuckled to myself as I walked back to my car and searched for a grocery bag to sit on as I drove home!

Thanks Mallory, for the honor of being named Person of the Month for September…and for encouraging teachers to “take a day off and relax at the beach.”  You definitely made my day today!

Blog Birthday: A Reflection

Today marks one year since I began this blog.  I began with a 30 day blogging challenge for myself–creating an urgency to blog every day for 30 days in a row.  And in retrospect, that was a smart move to help me establish a habit of writing every day, day in and day out, even when I wasn’t feeling like I had anything to say.  In the last 365 days, I posted a blog post 293 of them…that’s a little over 80% of the days in the year!

This morning I had plans to read all 293 posts and then create some kind of reflection based on that reading.  And while I think it’s a good idea to go back and read all my posts, I only managed to get through the first 30 days before my life called and I was off to the beach and running those errands that just don’t get accomplished during the work week.

(Making time to photograph and play pushes me to create more balance in my professional and personal life…a good thing, I think!)

I’ve noticed lots of bull kelp on the beach in the last week.  There is something beautiful and fascinating about these large floats…definitely evokes the wabi sabi for me!

bull kelp

So instead of reflecting on the year’s worth of posts, I decided to highlight five from those first 30 days that continue to speak to me…and I know that I returned to their themes throughout the year–and may continue to return to them.

1.  Dandelions: A Photo Essay – I noticed that I had a number of posts about my fascination with the ordinary, and what I learned about myself and my students by paying attention to small details.  This particular post continues to be one of my favorites.

2.  Fireflies – This is another post about something little–that many people take for granted.  I loved learning that fireflies are the most ordinary of insects, and the most extraordinary!  We southern Californians miss so much by not having these lights in our everyday lives!

3.  Spaces for Learning – Hmmm…I just discovered I have two posts from last July with the same title!  I like this one that talks about “third spaces” for learning, outside the spaces claimed by hierarchies and organizations.  These are the spaces we claim for ourselves as learners.  I’m not done thinking about this idea… and it keeps emerging over and over again in my life…as a teacher, as a learner, and as a human.  (The other post was about Genius Hour, which is related…)

4.  A Small Orange Bead – This post is really about the power of connections and connectedness as a learner.  Opportunities to learn in a community create deep pathways and provide support that matters to learners.

5.  Boys and Bears – There is a physicality to learning that we sometimes forget as adults.  My observations of boys at the polar bear exhibit pushed me to think about how physical interactions have the power to pique curiosity and deepen learning experiences.

A year of blogging has taught me so much about myself as a writer, as a learner, as a photographer, and as an explorer in the world.  It has heightened my senses as I lean closer to my surroundings to understand them and myself through my writing and photography.  When I chose the blog title, Thinking Through My Lens, I wanted to play on the word lens to represent more than a camera’s eye…I also wanted it to represent my own biases, questions, and goals.

I look forward to another year of Thinking Through My Lens…and hope you will continue to bump your thinking against mine, sharing your insights and discoveries so that we can learn more about our world and ourselves, together.


Stars Emerge

Writing is hard.  Teaching writing is harder. And every once in a while the effort of teaching writing and supporting and inspiring writers comes together in ways that make your heart sing and tears flow.

I had one of those moments yesterday.

The first, second, and third grade bloggers were hard at work in our classroom.  The room was filled with the productive hum of writers at work.  I moved around the room, helping with inserting youtube links to the digital stories we had created, troubleshooting technical issues, and helping those emerging writers get their ideas pinned to the digital page.

One of my students called me over, asking for help with a formatting issue.  And that’s when I noticed the poem.  “Where is the poem from?” I wondered.  “I wrote it,” he replied.  “Will you read it to me?” I asked.  And he did.


A poem

Two stars diverge sending each other down to earth like eagles mating, gripping each other so hard that before they descend and hit the ground they turn into dust. As all the stars shine and shimmer with a shine so big it blinds eyes.

The portal of time, a hole, may it be a dimension to another world? Might it have different forms of life? Or does it hold the keys to the past as you turn the engine?

May it be a beach of darkness or is it truly where your body is when you pass away.

Still a star inside, you shine, a star big enough to fill this sad place with colors and light up the world.

Are all the stars just a puzzle or are they illusions that move and move as you play the game, the game of life?

I have loved watching this writer go from a reluctant and troubled writer to a creative, confident, and willing writer over the three years in our class.  Writers don’t follow easy, uncluttered pathways, instead, like stars and diamonds they emerge from from pressure and heat and time and the tumultuous intricacies of the universe.  I am so lucky to spend three years with my students, it often takes that long for writers to emerge–finding both confidence and voice as writing instruction, practice, and a supportive writing community come together over time.

I’m still thinking about Brit’s poem…great writing does that.  It ignites a fire in the reader, kindled by the writer.  It’s burning bright and hot.


You might want to stop by Brit’s blog and leave a comment.  I know I will.

Celebrating 100 Posts!

I never would have believed when I started this blog way back in July that I would get to 100 posts…and except for one day a week or so ago, all those posts were consecutive days!  So to celebrate, here are some thoughts on the value of blogging…and writing every day.  (And a silly picture of a balloon I saw at the grocery store)


1.  Writing every day gives me authenticity as a writer.  I’m not just talking about the value of writing–I am “walking the walk” of a writer.  As my friend Janis stated in her blog post yesterday,

We must write when we are inspired, and we must write when we are not. We need to feel the joy and the pain of the process in order to understand what our students experience.

I work through my own blocks and figure out ways to find topics to write about and put words on the page.  I am also more aware of the writing of others and notice how they put words together.

2.   As a blogger, I have joined a community of other writers.  I would never have believed that I would have 99 followers to my blog…most of whom I have never met.  And yet these new friends encourage my writing and my photography by their mere presence.  And I’ve come to realize that people read my blog even when they don’t make their presence known.  I get little hints now and then from an unexpected reader and I realize again that my audience stretches beyond me.

3.  Blogging has taught me the value of commenting on other people’s blog posts.  I have definitely been guilty of reading blog post after blog post…and never commenting.  As a blogger myself, I know that comments can push my thinking and increase my motivation to write.  I now take the time to comment on a regular basis and I read blogs differently–always looking for the ways bloggers make connections and create energy around their posts.

4.  Blogging pushes me as a writer and as a photographer.  My photography inspires my writing and my writing inspires my photography.  Both practices encourage me to look closely at my world and pay attention to the little things.  And both have become regular practices in my life…habits! (The good kind!)

5.  Blogging connects me.  I am producing content on the web as well as consuming content.  I am more connected to other educators…all over the world, and more conscious of sharing ideas and resources.  I join in with challenges that other bloggers post, linking my blog posts to theirs…and inspiring some different kinds of writing that I might not undertake on my own.  I continue to look for ways to connect, to learn from others, and to share with others. That is the heart of being a connected educator.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect.  I am celebrating my 100th blog post in the middle of Connected Educator’s month!

Are you thinking about blogging?  Start small…and keep at it.  I’d love to know what you find valuable about blogging.

Celebrating the Ordinary

I wasn’t going to post today…and if you’ve been following me you will know that is significant. In the last 98 days I have only not posted on one day, and the practice of writing and posting each day has become very important, so when I decide not to post it feels like a major decision.  And then I got a tweet from my friend Janis (check out her blog!) pointing me to Ruth Ayres’ Saturday Celebrations (this is the practice week).

This week I have been celebrating the ordinary.  You can see it in my blog posts here and here. And today was a blissfully ordinary day. I slept in, spent a quiet morning puttering about, ran a few errands, had lunch with my hubby, ran a few more errands…and bought a new book. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.  The first few chapters are promising… elements of graphic novels right in the novel itself! It will be my bedtime reading tonight.

This month for #sdawpphotovoices we are using writing as our photo prompt.  And while writing is valuable to me…creating interesting photographs that reflect writing has been challenging.  How do you make something ordinary, like writing, look like art?  I’ve been experimenting with cropping and filters to get some new and different effects.  Here is collage of a few of of my photos from this month.


So thanks, Janis, for the nudge to think about what I have to celebrate this week…and for the nudge to write and post today.

What are you celebrating this week?

A Summer of Making: Reflections on CLMOOC

If you’ve been reading my blog at all you know that I participated in something called the CLMOOC this summer.  The Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration was an opportunity to experiment with the principles that underlie Connected Learning.  This short video gives some more information or check the link above.

When I originally signed up to participate in the MOOC I thought I would stay on the fringes, read what others posted, and think about how the participants interacted.  I knew I would be time challenged, after all I would be facilitating the SDAWP Summer Institute during the bulk of the MOOC.  But somehow, I was quickly drawn into action.  I used my photo-a-day work as my introduction and posted a couple of photos.  Immediately I began to get feedback, comments, and links to others’ work with a similar focus…I was hooked!  Then came the #vineoffmonday. I was already playing with Vine and with Instagram video, so it was fun to see what others were doing.  I loved Kevin’s invitation to make a seven second story and even though I wasn’t particularly successful, the challenge was valuable–and it’s something I can see having my students try (even if they don’t use a social media platform like Vine to do it).

I’d been thinking about starting a blog for a couple of years…and have had a couple of false starts where I posted once or twice and then never returned.  With the CLMOOC community around me, I decided to create a new blog AND to challenge myself to posting 30 days in a row. Remember, this was not a “summer’s off” undertaking–with this community around me, I made my decision to blog right in the middle of the SI I talked about earlier.  (And if you know writing projects at all, you know that it is an intense and focused time of meaningful, challenging work–even as a facilitator.)

My blog became my space for “makes.”  I explored my photography in a variety of ways, thought about learning and spaces for learning, considered my own classroom and how I might approach my teaching differently, and wrote and wrote and posted and posted…today is my 34th consecutive post!

And…I earned my first badge!


To earn the badge I had to submit one of my makes, reflecting on its significance.  I chose my Spaces for Learning post that I wrote in response to an invitation from Terry to respond to a Washington Post article about teachers and teaching.

I am strangely proud of my badge.  It represents a summer of exploration and of putting myself “out there.”  It has been about writing every day even when I am busy and tired and would rather just hang out or watch some mindless TV.  It has been about being public with my learning process and trying things beyond my comfort zone.  And I still see lots of spaces for my learning to grow.  I definitely have a better understanding of the Connected Learning principles and how they support my own learning and risk taking.  I plan to create more spaces for this kind of learning for my students…and for the teachers I come in contact with.  It has definitely been a summer of making and connected learning for me…and I don’t want it to stop!