Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Summer Reading

Posted: August 1, 2016 in Uncategorized
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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?



So, I’ve been thinking about maker projects and STEAM a lot lately. I co-taught a minor class last year called Digital Fabrication. It only met a time or two a week and was ungraded. We worked with soldering circuits, 3D printing, and laser cutting/engraving. Let’s just say, I was not an expert in a lot of this.

It turned out not too many of the students were either. My co-teacher had a lot of technical skills. I provided some creative ideas, gender diversity, and a more artistic perspective. Now that it’s summer, I need to learn some more about the tools we use. We have a few 3D printers, soldering materials, and a laser cutter/engraver. I have done some soldering in the past and am a fairly confident solderer, but not exactly a circuitry expert. (When I was younger one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a stained glass window repairer.) My colleague and co-teacher is not only good with circuits and soldering but has also done quite a bit of 3D printing, so we have some know-how there. That leaves laser cutting/engraving wide open, waiting for an expert. My other colleague, @Mr_Fornaro has also been working on learning the ins and outs of the laser engraver.

On a VERY rainy Sunday, I went to the Department of Making and Doing to take a class on laser cutting/engraving with the @Betny802. It was supposedly about using the laser cutter for jewelry making, but it didn’t really matter what you made. We worked in Adobe Illustrator and got the very basics. There is plenty more to learn and practice, plenty. But, I now know what kinds of things I need to know, which is not only a step up, but also makes it easier to progress. Plus, is there a better way to spend a Saturday than making stuff? I will answer this for you. No, there is not.

So, we learned a few basics about Adobe Illustrator and were off. @Betny802 tweeted this at the end of the class.

I also made a chicken pendant which I put on some reddish cord I had at home. I wore it to school last week. I thought central administrative team meetings might benefit from a humorous accessory.

Photo on 7-2-15 at 3.49 PM

I can’t wait to learn more about Adobe Illustrator. Summer is so great.


So, I’ve been thinking about and participating in conversations on Twitter as the school year has wound down. A few weeks ago I saw a tweet about having a school hashtag for students to share learning over the summer. I thought, what about teachers?

I tweeted that to a few colleagues and got a couple of takers. Here’s my first tweet:


I’m hoping that a few more people join in. I even sent an email to all the colleagues at my school hoping to get some more participation.

Hi everyone,

A few of colleagues have been tweeting summer learning with the hashtag #ShipleySummer. If you read something, see something, learn something, feel free to join in the tweeting. Also, search the hashtag or add it as a column on tweetdeck or hootsuite. Then, you can see what your colleagues are up to and take advantage of what they are learning. 

And, if you aren’t on the Twitter bandwagon yet and this has made you curious, I’m available to introduce you.

Happy summer and happy tweeting,


At the end of the month I’m going to send a collection of the things shared on the hashtag in the hopes of encouraging more participation. So far, there are a few enthusiastic tweeters, but I’m sure there are other colleagues out there learning.

Has anyone else tried something similar?


So, I’ve been thinking about how I spent my summer. More specifically, I have been thinking about what I did not do in terms of school.

Here’s what I did do officially:

  • I participated in 2 FULL days of training for our new Mac laptops.
  • 1 full and 1 partial day of PD/training about a new model for language arts and other strategies.
  • Attended the ISTE conference — 3 -4 days of stuffing info and ideas into my head, meeting other educators, tweeting, walking, and then doing it again. (I did get my picture taken with Moby the robot from BrainPop!)
All of this was before July even rolled around. At that point, I have to say my brain was full. I set down my bag and went about being a mom to my personal kids. I did talk to colleagues about plans we had for the new school year and participate in a few Twitter chats. But, until it got to be later in August, that bag that came back from school and ISTE just sat in the corner.
And, I think that’s ok. It’s not like I shut off my brain. There are very few situations in which that is a good idea. That goes double for if you are at home with your elementary school aged kids. I read a lot of young adult literature that I wanted to catch up on. I had gotten really behind on what my students might be reading. I didn’t write on this blog. I really thought I wanted to and thought I was looking forward to writing about some things that got passed over at the end of the year. But, it turned out I didn’t.
I keep having to remind myself that it’s ok. I didn’t come back to school unprepared. In fact I came back refreshed and excited about the new year. I learned all sorts of things, spent a lot of time swimming with my kids, and my bag was waiting for me when I was ready to pick it up again.