22 February 2015

Snow Day Reads

A snowy whirlwind two weeks since my last Sunday Salon post and it's been full of both online reading as well as two more books in my book a week journey. Since we've had a Kentucky snow storm (the most snow the state has seen in over 15 years), there's been plenty of time to curl up with books and my iPad to read. Naturally, keeping up with friends on social media has also been a fun way to know what's happening around the state and nation. My friend, Robin, captured this beautiful photo earlier in the week on her way to work. Fortunately for me, I work from home, so there was no need to venture out onto the treacherous roads. A foot of snow may not be much for places like Boston where they are also experiencing record amounts of snow, but for Kentucky, 12-18 inches of snow almost completely shuts things down. Both the public school system and the University of Kentucky cancelled classes this week.

Photo by Robin Hebert. Christianburg, Kentucky Winter 2015
As I've blogged about previously, we ended up in Kentucky because my husband wanted to study at the University of Kentucky where so many literary greats were and continue to be. This article by Lexington's Eric Sutherland highlights some of the literary expertise in our area.

Karen Schubert from Meet the Press offers a brilliant conversation with poet and editor of Accents Publishing, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer. I first met Katerina when she and I served on the Advisory Board for the Kentucky Women Writers Conference together. She's an amazing writer and woman.

Horse jockey Isaac Murphy was celebrated this week on a Lexington blog. If you don't know about Murphy, check out the poetry of Frank X. Walker to learn more.

Leadership & Work
Leadership continues to be on my mind. In 10 Negative Results of Believing People are Incapable I learned some valuable advice for working with people. When people appear to possess a lack of passion or a desire to push beyond the status quo, I'm frustrated with them and begin believing they are incapable of doing their jobs. This article reminded me that some of my behaviors fall into the category where I'll end up with negative results--things like acting with impatience and avoiding conversations. Yep. I'm guilty of those things with individuals who I want to change. Fortunately, the article offers me valuable reminders.

I'm interested not only in leadership, but women in leadership. A friend sent me this piece from Harvard Business Review about how Women Directors Change Boards. Fascinating.

I owe my parents the credit for teaching me about possessing a strong work ethic. They modeled this for me, and I've always been a hard worker. This article Worst Advice Ever? "Work Smarter, Not Harder" caught my attention because I've been hearing people offer this advice for the past few years, and I wondered what it was all about since a strong work ethic was drilled into me from birth. The author of the article, also smart and working on a PhD learned the hard way during his graduate work that to succeed he needed to work both smart and hard. Watching my husband, a very intelligent man, endure years of graduate work, I often thought he took the "work smarter" pathway.

One of my favorite print magazines, Cake & Whiskey, arrived in the mail today, so naturally I read it and also enjoyed their new launch of online content as well on their Sip & Slice blog.

Non-Traditional Schooling

Several school districts in Kentucky are experimenting with non-traditional school days when it snows. I start to cringe when I hear they are "doing packets," and I hope the packets are thoughtful and meaningful assignments requiring students to think, do, and learn, not merely complete busy work. A post by Kentucky teacher, Joe Harris, was encouraging since he highlights using Google Apps to connect with students and to encourage them to write creatively.

A school in Sierra Leone also uses non-traditional schooling since students have been unable to attend school in person due to the Ebola outbreak that ravaged the nation. Students tune into the radio to hear their lessons.

For a healthier approach to the school day, some schools are experimenting with standing classrooms. I know my son would enjoy anything that keeps him from sitting all day. Indeed, many schools fail boys by insisting that they sit so still. A Washington Post article earlier this week brought conversation via Twitter amongst a few of us who feel strongly about this topic.

My place of employment is hosting a huge innovation summit this week, and in preparation for that one of my colleagues blogged about the topics featured at the summit, including alternative school models. Read more here.

This post titled Innovation and Improvement Takes a Sustained Push by Tom Vander Ark explores the importance of school superintendents lengthening their stay in districts if progress around innovation is to be made.

Teacher Features
A teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children, Heidi Givens, shared her thoughts about education in this reflective blog post.

National Board Certified Teacher, Sherri McPherson reflected on why she became a NBCT.

It made my day to read this op-ed by Bob Rothamn on the Hechinger Report because I know and work with two of the teachers quoted. Fantastic teachers doing excellent work.

When a Philadelphia columnist wrote a scathing op-ed about why teachers shouldn't get snow days, a passionate teacher offered this rebuttal.

A short Youtube clip titled How the School to Prison Pipleline Ruins Lives Before they Start is worth your time if you care about inequities in our education system.

Literacy expert, Dr. Timothy Shannahan wrote this terrific piece about the importance of teaching content, not just reading. Again, here's another topic I've blogged about because it upsets me to see children offered such a limited curriculum, and it further upsets me that high level district officials demand this approach.

One of my favorite teacher bloggers is Lillie Marshall. She always includes terrific photos, witty commentary, and insightful travel tips. Check out her photos of the record 6 feet of snow in Boston.


The tenth of February brought the fourteenth birthday of my oldest son, so I revisited my blog post from last year where I shared how Ethan taught me to appreciate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Teachers leading schools continues to be a personal topic of interest to me. Read about how districts are beginning to turn to teachers to lead.

Teaching with digital tools explains the importance of re-thinking the way we teach writing in our schools. In fact, I used this article from 2011 in my own recent blog post on the same topic.

With writing (and writing instruction) on my mind, I also enjoyed this post about creative writing in the time of Common Core.

Being cooped up in the house had us experimenting with recipes. We enjoyed this delicious guacamole recipe and chuckled at the accompanying story.

Always a fan of poetry, I and others around the USA were sad to learn of the death of poet Phillip Levine. He wrote about the working class and his poetry, the hardships and worthiness of manual labor.

Something I've never understood in schools are those walls filled with test scores and rankings of students; it's always infuriated me. Kathleen Jasper articulates this same frustration well in her post titled Shaming Students One Wall at a Time.

When my son brought home his first little tokens printed on a 3-D printer, we thought it was cool, but when I read about 3-D printers being used to make prosthetic hands, the innovative possibilities became more clear and important. Imagine the possibilities in our schools if kids can help do something real with their 3-D prints!