Baptized in Christ

unnamedAttending Mass as family on Sunday filled my heart with so much Catholic joy. As different as each member of my family is from one another, our faith is the same. That creates a lot of power in the pews.

What’s even more incredible is that a three week old can bring a family together to fill those pews.

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Stopping to See the Leaves Change

IMG_0160I asked John if I missed fall last year because I seem overly struck by its beauty this year. Without hesitation, he reminded in one word why I was too busy to fully appreciate it last year: Thesis.

How quickly I forgot that life consuming 70-pager.

This year, I’m soaking up the scenery. With a quiet weekend before some November travels begin, John and I had our routine coffee date from our own front porch today. After three days of parent/teacher conferences, I wanted nothing more than to lose myself outside in the sunlight. The sweet taste of pumpkin syrup in my blonde roast reminded me that today’s 70 degree weather won’t stick around long.

So, I’ll double my appreciation for the red, orange, and yellow this year and overcompensate for last year’s loss.

Voxer

One of the “out of my comfort zone” ITEC ideas I jumped into was using Voxer to keep the positive momentum going. Voxer is a free app (for the lite version) and allows texting, audio, and photo sharing between people or groups of people without using your phone number. Originally, I saw a vision of using this communication tool for my newspaper editors. However, since last week, it’s a been a communication tool among roughly 15 area educators in this “ITEC14″ group. The person who started the group gives a weekly challenge, and each member is expected to participate. This week’s challenge includes finding a song lyric that we’ll live by in our classrooms this week. I already submitting my choice, “Living on a prayer”, for personal and professional reasons.

In addition, we’ve shared some interesting education ideas: “What if teachers got to pick their ‘team’ of other teachers to work with? What would happen to teachers who weren’t picked?” So far the group has given me great contacts and lots of powerful reflection.

Are you familiar with Voxer? If so, add me!

What song would you pick to be the soundtrack to your week?

America Reads

Every English teacher loves America Reads Day! Students get excited about reading in a new location or bringing in a snack to munch on while they devour their pages at the same time. I’ve posted a lot about my passion for reading, after all, my master’s degree has a reading emphasis. When I was gathering my stuff for school this morning, I forgot my free reading book. I went back for it. I was not going to monitor or test students for reading today. I was going to sit back and enjoy it with them.

That’s just what we did. I marched my freshmen reading class down to the library to take in the sunny fall day on our campus. The library’s football field view is pretty tough to beat (don’d mind my reflection)! We read silently, read out loud, and even just laughed about the characters in our books. It was only 43 minutes, but every student smiled at some point during class, all with a book in their hand. That’s worth celebrating!

ITEC14

IMG_0074ITEC14 was held in Des Moines on Monday and Tuesday. I’m bursting with excitement at the ideas and passion presenters from all over the country shared. Just to give you the highlights, I met so many “celebrities” (Adam Bellow, Shannon Miller, Jimmy Casta, Aaron Maurer…etc). I follow them on twitter and read their professional blogs, but meeting them left me a bit starstruck. One of these people included meeting author Peter H. Reynolds, author of The Dot, a children’s book. He made the trip all the way from Boston to share his passion and read The Dot aloud to us while encouraging us to “make our mark” and “connect the dots”. This book was the foundation for International Dot Day. Check out his blog to see how The Dot even made it into space!

Another highlight was trying out Google Glass for the first time. I even took a photo and e-mailed it all by voice command. I’m interested in learning more about this device and can’t wait to see how it improves in years to come.

IMG_0094Last, but certainly not least, I had the opportunity to have my thesis data on display. I was available for questions during the Poster Presentation sections of the conference. I had some in-depth conversations with other educators ranging from professionals at the college level to elementary level about my topic of writing motivation using and iPad vs. paper and pencil.

To sum up the two days, my mind is racing as I evaluate and plan how to integrate a million engaging ideas into my classroom. Since tomorrow marks the end of our school’s academic quarter, I’m pushing these ideas aside until grades are submitted this weekend. Look for more ITEC reflection soon! Until then, look up The Dot on Youtube.

Be More, Be Loras

IMG_0060As John and I soaked up a perfect fall day at Loras for homecoming yesterday, there was plenty of reflection. From entering the library without the overwhelming study anxiety, to attending Mass with my husband by my side, I was happy to evaluate where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I enjoyed my time at Loras. That being said, four years of college always included a weight on my shoulders. It was a weight I didn’t know was there until it was finally gone. The weight was uncertainty and a life that included so much IMG_0063unbalance.

Late nights, terrible eating habits, and emotional ups and downs were all common elements all four years. I missed John for four years, but knew we weren’t supposed to be at the same college, two thoughts that never made sense together.

It wasn’t until my senior year when I realized why God guided me to Loras. From Bible study my freshman year to requesting a Catholic school to student teach (and writing an essay defending my request), Loras encouraged me to explore my faith for four years. By the end, Catholicism was my foundation. That has made all the difference.

As we participated in the homecoming Mass yesterday afternoon, I reflected on the weight no longer on my shoulders. That anxiety no longer exists. I’m thankful for Loras being more than a private, liberal arts college. It’s a Catholic college that stretched me to be more.