Posts Tagged ‘summer’

So, I’ve been thinking about art and technology. In my fantasy life, I am an artist. In my real life, I an educator with access to a lot of technology and art supplies.

Recently I have been using Adobe Capture (the free app version) to create black and white images that I then cut into wood on the lasercutter and print. First, use the ‘shapes’ feature in Adobe Capture. I can use the sliding scale to determine how much black I want in the image. Below you can see the image I was using and how Adobe Capture transformed it.

Next I put the image into Adobe Illustrator, did the image trace, expanded it and deleted a few stray bits. Then I raster engraved that image onto wood using the lasercutter. I reversed the black and white so that the lasercutter cut away all the areas of white, leaving the raised portions the equivalent of the dark areas in the image. From there, I could ink the wood and print it on paper.


The question I have is, although the print is quite nice, I am wondering if it is art. I mean how much did I really do here? I found the chair sitting as is in my house. I did move some junk and maybe a cat off of it. I used the app to take a picture, cropped out what I didn’t want, used the slider to decide the black/white balance, which the app implemented. This is the hard part, in my opinion. I made minimal changes to the image. The lasercutter cut the wood. I inked the block and put the paper on.

I don’t know. I didn’t draw or cut the print image. I made minimal decisions about color and paper. I chose the amount of black and white, altered lighting a bit to get the pattern I wanted.

This makes me think of the picture book Seen Art by Joe Scieszka and Lane Smith. (Our main character ends up in the MoMA in New York and keeps asking if anyone has “seen Art?” Various people talk to him about the works in the museum including the helicopter that hangs from the ceiling, which the other museum patron recognizes for its engineering but admits some wonder if it is Art. Finally, our hero finds what he has been looking for–his friend Art.) As I think about this, I wonder if I can come to terms with this idea be taking into account the lower case or capital a in art. Maybe these prints (I have many more) are not capital A Art (said with deep, serious voice), but maybe they are small a art, which is probably about right for me.


This goat has read my post and is wondering if I am crazy.
CCO public domain image.

So, I’ve been thinking about my summer reading. I’m actually kind of obsessing about it. I can’t wait to get started. I already wrote about my literature plan and have started reading two of the books on my list.

I also have a professional learning reading plan.

Top on my list are a few of the Hacking Learning books, in particular, Hacking Assessment by Starr Sackstein and Hacking Project Based Learning by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy. I am a big fan of Star Sackstein via Twitter. And, I went to Ross and Erin’s session about PBL at EduCon in January and was really impressed with their honesty about their progress in understanding and implementing PBL.

This is the summer that I will finish several education reads, including several books that I recommend to people all the time, but may not have quite finished. I’ll admit to Mindstorms by Seymour Papert and Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager being on the list. A few others I am keeping to myself.

I’m also going to brush up on my Understanding by Design background and have already collected a bunch of online resources.

My other big topics are going to be pretty much anything that comes out of Project Zero (especially in relation to Global Education and Global Competencies) and Interdisciplinary curriculum readings.

Finally, I have a lot of reading and learning to do in relation to the class I am teaching next year which is an interdisciplinary course about ‘the fantastics’ (fantastic creatures and fantastic places). I’ve got a growing LiveBinder of resources and book list and a lot of books to read.

Oh, and I have a bunch of edtech things to investigate; I get behind during the school year and have to go through all the bookmarks and OneTab (I love this tool) collections once I have time to review. Currently, I’m thinking a lot about things like Flipgrid,, and HyperDocs. This may or may not be the summer that I make respectable progress with Arduido and/or soft circuitry beyond the basics.

I can totally do all that, right?


So, I’ve been thinking about what I plan to read over the summer. There are a few more weeks before students and teachers are off, and I have a few books I would like to finish before then. I just finished I’m Looking Through You by Jennifer Finey Boylan, and currently, I am reading The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino.


As I have mentioned before, I have a tendency to plan big, too big. I am teaching a new-to-me course next year, again, and have all of those books to read or reread as well, but somehow those don’t count. Plus, I have some teaching books I want to read. And, I’m sure I’ll read some YA and graphic novels in addition. I mean, there’s a new graphic novel about the Dalai Lama out!! (Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet by Robert Thurman and others. Fun facts: Professor Thurman taught a class I took in college, and my undergrad thesis was about Tibetan Buddhist women.)

Here’s my list to date.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. I gave this to my dad for Christmas and now get to read it myself.

The Amber Spy Glass by Philip Pullman. I have not read the final book in the His Dark Materials series. I am not letting myself start this one yet. I have things I need to do.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I have been eyeing this since it came out. My school library does not have it or I would have read it already.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. This is a potential read for my English class next year. (I may stick with the circus theme and reread The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern as another option.)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith is sitting on my kitchen table, waiting.


I sometimes like to read a few books that somehow relate or go together. Other times, I just read all over the place. I’m a big fan of women pioneer stories (non-fiction) and don’t have any of that on my list so far. It gets harder and harder to find ones I have not read at bookstores on the East Coast.

What else would you recommend?


Summer Reading

Posted: August 1, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

So, I’ve been thinking about my summer reading. I am prone to compiling huge lists of reading and doing for the summer. I somehow think that I have 36 hours in the day in addition to being more productive, all evidence to the contrary.

Last summer I read a lot of books, which was great. I also got into a regular blogging habit. This summer I am trying to keep up the blogging, the reading, and add more making. Oh, and pie, and lounging with my family. You can see that I am perhaps a bit too ambitious in my plans.  However, here’s what I’ve read since June 10th, which was graduation day.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.20.14 PMFeathers, by Jacqueline Woodson. I was looking for another book by her for my YA Literature class. I’m keeping HUSH, but might drop Brown Girl Dreaming. Feathers is an interesting story, very short, probably too young for the group, and doesn’t fit in with the other titles, but could make for some good discussion.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.48.03 PMInterdicsiplinary Curriculum: Design and Implementation by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. I am part of an interdisciplinary task force that is beginning at my school. This is our summer read. Lots of great info and some solid examples. Also, helpful ways to think about curriculum. Another ASCD winner.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.22.27 PMThe Golden Compass (It’s Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman. I had not read this before and decided it needed to rectify that situation. I enjoyed the book, but have to say that I did not love it. The story is just getting started by the last third of the book. There are two more books in the series; I’m curious as to what happens, but maybe not curious enough.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.22.56 PMMosquitoland by David Arnold. I got this at a sidewalk sale for a great deal at my local indy children’s book store. I think I also had read about it on some list or other. Had some thoughtful things to say about mental health and families. It did not fall into a perfect ending.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.24.00 PMMarch, Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Graphic novel by congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis about his early life. I can’t wait to read book 2. Book 3 comes out tomorrow. I missed him when he was in Philly at Amalgam Comics for a reading. That will teach me not to check if the event requires tickets.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.27.38 PMThe Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I don’t know why I had not read this book either. I can see why it’s a classic. My daughter and I both read it while we were on a family trip. I think it would be a great one to pair with something contemporary that deals with racism.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.49.55 PMZero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything by David Lang. Make: magazine publishes a lot of maker guides and resources. I enjoyed David Lang’s story of becoming a maker. Towards the end it got to be more about the business options, which is not as interesting to me. However, reading about how he found his way to a community, knowledge, and a new mindset about making was interesting.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.52.45 PMThe Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. The cover intrigued me and there was a positive comment on the back from Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins, which I really liked. This was an interesting story of a family of four grown siblings. A good page turned where I wanted to know what happened. A neat, though not necessarily predictable, ending.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.34.04 PMAnd, I have been trying  to get through Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The writing is lovely, and I am finding lots to ponder in the narrative. Yet, I can neither make progress nor keep reading for any length of time. Ugh!

I have a few other school/education titles in the cue along with books that I will be teaching next year. However, I think that I can give myself another week to read non-school books. I need to find a title or two that I can’t put down. Has anyone read Homegoing by Yaa Giasi, or Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie or H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald?


Any other suggestions?

Public domain image from

Public domain image from

So, I’ve been thinking about change. Over this past school year, I’ve been part of our strategic planning committee and am now leading a task force to investigate our interdisciplinary program. And last week, I participated in the week-long Penn Summer Leadership Institute course organized by University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and ADVIS (Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools).

Our first session on Thursday was led by Cathy Hall. She spoke about the shifting ideas in technology in schools over the past 25 years or so. After some discussion, she asked the group to think about $5 million dollars and what it could be used for in the name of innovation at our schools. What would we do if we had that amount of money to spend over the course of 3 years, what  would we spend the money on? What would we definitely keep? What would we change? I thought this was a really interesting idea to consider.

Here’s what I came up with (remember the assignment was to consider using this money is support of innovation) in 7 minutes.

  • I would rewrite teacher contracts to include 2 weeks of professional learning each summer and a pay increase to cover this time.
  • Then, I would have significant professional learning for everyone around project based learning and interdisciplinary work. Buck Institute and High Tech High would be up on my list of options there.
  • Finally, I would give grants to grade level teams as they developed particular projects that required either professional development, resources, books, visits etc.


Then, as I was describing this to my husband, I realized that an interesting next step would be to consider how far you could go without $5 million. How important is that money to the process? Once you have your plan, is that more important than the money? Does the idea of the money get you thinking outside of the box, but turn out not to be critical in the implementation?

So, what if I did not have all that money? What could I still plan?

  • Serious summer work: maybe this gets spread across several years with smaller groups attending each year. With paying for training and a smaller group make this financially very reasonable?
  • And, could we go with more of a train the trainer model so that in the following years, we would be able to provide the relevant training in-house?
  • Team projects could also be scaled down in terms of money. Yes, to all the online research and talking to others people can do. Maybe less travel that involves flying.

Either way, what a great catalyst for thinking. I may give it a try with the task force in the fall.


CLMOOC postcard from Karen

CLMOOC postcard from Karen

So, I’ve been thinking about the new summer of CLMOOC.

I signed up for the postcard swap and got my postcard in the mail the other day. I a few photos and am ready to make some postcard too. I know I’m a little late on the postcards, but I’m going to combine the postcard making with my taxonomy project (where I make sets of things). I’ve got some ideas to combine my images with some blackout poetry perhaps. Lots of ideas swirling around in my head during a week where I have a and a week-long, all-day class, so it’s weekend making for me.

Anyway, I’m excited for the rest of CLMOOC to start on July 10th. (The FAQs page gives some good background on the experience, which I find a little hard to explain.) The emphasis on making and connecting that with really abstract ideas about place and community really spoke to me. I spent hours both thinking about the ideas and making things that related. Not all of the things I made were successful in terms of projects, but spending time thinking about making something to speak to these larger ideas was a great exercise. It made my brain hurt, in a good way.

Reflecting back on it, I think that the work I did on CLMOOC put me in a different mindset when the school year began. It meant that I had been thinking, making, and writing about some big issues over the summer. It was like cross training. I came back to my usual topics in technology with renewed energy, excited, and ready to think differently.

Win, win, win!

  So, I’ve been thinking about a colleague’s summer professional development. I know I should be thinking about my own professional development, and I am, but this other summer work just got me thinking.

My colleague is an artist and art teacher who has just started the Low-Residency MFA program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Awesome! At our opening faculty meeting she shared a little about a particular project from one of her courses this summer. It was called the taxonomy project. Make 10 works in each of 10 categories, all small in size, no time to be super careful or precious, come up the categories, no changing, and get busy.

As my colleague shared both her work and the lessons she learned from the project, I thought about how this related to writing. I’m thinking a lot about making time for a lot more writing in my English class and the idea that many small art works would push creativity resonated with me. Doing more short writing (that may not even be graded) seems analogous to the taxonomy project. In the summer teaching writing course that I took, several of the instructors spoke about what improves writing–a lot of writing improves writing, not a lot of teacher correction on a little bit of writing. (Really why should this not be the case? A lot of what makes kids better readers is reading, reading a lot. So no surprise.) Just doing a thing over and over, I believe that would be called practice, works. Another thing that my colleague noted was that with the 10 categories, she was forced to come up with a lot of potential ideas rather than commit to one, even one that she thought was going to great. And, in doing so, she found other ideas that were really interesting. How will my still inexperienced writers find new paths and new techniques if they don’t ever have to push through “I’ve got nothing.” 100 pieces of writing in my one semester course seems somewhat unrealistic. I mean the kids do take other classes besides mine. So more, reason to stick to my goal of more writing.

And, I totally want to do my own taxonomy art project. There is no way I have the time or skill to do that, but here’s my first set of 10 objects.

I may work on several collections of slightly altered objects, seems a good fit for my level of artistic ability. What other objects should I consider collecting and altering?