03 January 2016

A few thoughts about what I read online December 27, 2015- January 4, 2016

Well over a year ago I started a series where I shared on my blog what I read online each week or two weeks. Keeping up with the links was time consuming but fun, and I was always pleasantly surprised by the responses my readers provided via Twitter, Facebook, email, and even in person. This year, I'm reviving the series and adding a twist. Instead of sharing a larger number of links, I'm going to try sharing thoughts on various articles because sometimes sharing links with only 140 characters just isn't enough room to reflect, and I don't always want to write a full blog post for each article I share either. We'll see how this new format goes, and in the spirit of ongoing learning, I'll revamp or forgo the idea all together if it's not working. So, please let me know what you think!

Star Wars and Women
Please don't judge my skills. This cake was made with love.
I am no cake decorator, but I did challenge myself
to surprise my son five years ago when he longed
for a cake made by me with a Star Wars theme. 

I read two articles about Star Wars: The Force Awakens over winter break, and started a blog post specifically about the movie but then realized I didn't really want an entire post about the movie because to be completely honest, I originally went to see the movie with my family because A) my sons love the Star Wars series and were holding on with eagerness to the movie's release the weekend winter break began and B) I coveted time on Christmas Eve with my husband and sons and our family friends, especially since all our other family live over 300 miles away. We made the movie and lunch afterward a special event.

One article, Star Wars is a Game Changerresonated with me because while watching the movie, I was pleasantly surprised about the intentional and positive portrayal of women as competent individuals not needing men to protect them. THIS is a message I want my sons to know and understand. Early in the movie when Rey yells "stop grabbing my hand" to Finn, I knew the movie would be different from the previous Star Wars movies which I had seen only as an adult (Neither my husband nor I were allowed to watch the movies as kids). This scene reminds me of the movie Elizabeth when she yells "I am no man's Elizabeth." One of my favorite movies and definitely a favorite line from a movie.

Kentucky & Colorado

While moving to Kentucky never topped my list of most desirable things to do, I've certainly made the most of my life here. Article titles like this one, A wary start to Syrian refugees' new life in Kentucky, from the Washington Post make me wonder if I want to stay here but when you actually read the article, you learn about how some people in Kentucky really are trying to help fellow humans.

Education issues and topics in Kentucky will continue to be controversial in the coming months as debates about whether we should finally join most of the nation in adopting charter schools ensue. Personally, I'm not theoretically opposed to charter schools. What I want is for ALL students to have equitable access to a high quality and enjoyable education, and we have a lot of work to do in Kentucky to ensure this happens either through charter schools or traditional public schools. My biggest question--what evidence do we have that what we are currently doing in traditional schools is working? If we don't have such evidence, why not try something new? Something new might be charter schools. We shall see.

After working long-distance with educators in Colorado, traveling there frequently for work and  vacationing there with my family for ten days last summer, my love for The Centennial State continues to grow.

This week I read multiple articles about innovative work happening in Colorado. This one about inquiry learning moving from teacher-guided to student-driven was one of my favorites. I especially appreciated that the examples were in elementary schools. Who says elementary students can't lead their learning? The article offers practical advice and question- stems to start with teacher guided and move toward student-driven with younger students, and I'd venture to say from my experience with high schoolers that this works with teens too.

Another article about Colorado I appreciated was this one about a group of educators in Boulder who are rehinking high school as part of the XQ America challenge. Here in Kentucky, I'm working with a small group doing something similar.

Finally, I'll share a couple of links to articles about a book I just finished reading (my first book of 2016). Since Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden was published in 2011, the articles I read are also a few years old, but the book was terrific (I'll write more about the book itself later this week). Typically when I really enjoy a book, I start looking for articles or other online writing about it to learn more. Wickenden, executive editor of The New Yorker, wrote this article prior to writing the book, so this article is great if you want a synopsis of the story. Since we vacationed in Steamboat Springs and Nothing Daunted was the second book I read that was set in Colorado, I decided to check the Off the Beaten Path Bookstore blog and found an article about a book signing and performance. Though the information was dated, I enjoyed reading about two more Steamboat area museums...maybe I'll visit them next time I make it out there.