Tourist in your own town

Have you ever taken a different look at the town you live in? My family loves to go on small adventures and today we decided to do take an adventure not far from our home… in our city of Columbia, SC. We were able to experience a carnival atmosphere, take a step back in history, and take in the arts.

IMG_0959The day started on a sidewalk in the Rosewood area of town. It was time for the annual #MardiGrasSC parade. This is a great parade with such fun and energy. Mardi Gras is an growing event in Columbia. My family loves to watch every year. The parade is great because anyone can be a part of it. Just show up! My favorite part is probably the drum line. It’s a great family event. The parade participants throw a ton of beads and candy for the kids (and adults alike). People dress up in great costumes and for a brief moment you feel slightly transported to New Orleans. This was the 4th year of the parade and it was the largest to date. After the parade you can join an all day celebration of Mardi Gras at City Roots, an in-town sustainable farm. We are such fans we are going to participant with our own Krewe next year.

Here is a little taste of the Benedict Drum Line  that preformed today.

After the parade, we decided to take a step back in history by taking a gorgeous stroll across the Gervias St. bridge. Over the last month Columbia has been celebrating the Burning ofIMG_0969 Columbia by General Sherman during the Civil War. The “celebration” continued today with the Battle of Columbia. At 12:00 the city was under siege by union troops on the banks of the Congaree River. We watched the battle begin as the cannons were fired from the west and the Confederates used shotguns to fire back from the east banks. There are still a number of events this month to continue the celebration.

I used to teach history and visited a number of American Revolution and Civil War reenactments but I don’t think I have ever been as close to the cannons while they were being fired as I was today. My entire body felt the cannon blast. I have no idea how the reenacters can stand it. I was not prepared with earplugs and my fingers stuck in my ears was not the best protection. It makes me think about how many actual soldiers that made it home from the war could hear.

IMG_0978The final destination for the day was an infusion of the arts at the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA). It was a Valentine’s Family Day.  CMA has the BEST events for families and adult nights. The family day included multiple stations to create valentine’s day cards, heart necklaces, secret message cards, create your own gallery, fingerprint art, and selfie booth. CMA also created a great scavenger hunt in the art galleries for kids and parents.

The programing at the Columbia Museum of Art just keeps getting better. My favorite event they hold is Arts and Draughts. It’s a monthly night out with art, music, and local brews.

The best part of the day was when the 8 year old says, “Today was a really great day.” Today we were able to enjoy multiple facets of the city and it was all FREE. So get out there and become a tourist in your own city. You might be surprised by what you find.

Reboot. Going back to my roots.

The secret is out. In case you haven’t heard, you may want to sit down. Ready? I have decided to go back to the classroom in August. Gasp! “What?” “Are you sure?” Yes, I am sure. It’s something that has been tapping me on the shoulder for over a year. It’s time. I have been out of the classroom for about 8 years. Throughout that time I have enjoyed school level technology integration jobs, district level technology education jobs, consulting, and traveling more than I ever thought possible having a career in education. Alas, it’s time.

I thought I would take a few minutes to share with you the why. Some people have said to me, “Why would you want to give up a district level position?” Really? For me, it’s not about the district level position. It’s about the impact I feel I am making. So let me go through my list in no particular order.

1. Passion. I feel like I am not making a difference. I go to work everyday and help create ideas for teachers to try. But what difference does it make? Last year I watched Taylor Mali’s poetry slam “What teachers make?” and it reminded me of the feelings I had and I loved being a teacher.

His honesty and passion about students makes me cry, my heart beats fast, and gives me goose bumps every time I see the video.

2. Vision. Everyday “we” (as in everyone I know worldwide in educational technology) talk about what we want to see in our classrooms. A lot of times what we want to see and what we see don’t match up. I have a skill set that is being wasted. By wasted, I mean, I have been afforded a lot of additional educational training due to the jobs I have held in the last 8 years  I do not routinely practice. Let me go back to the classroom and see what I can do. Can I make the vision come to fruition?

3. DENSI. Last summer I spend a week at Discovery Education Network’s Summer Institute (DENSI) with 150 other educators. It had been years since I last attended and I was a little nervous about it. I was skeptical at first thinking, “What can I learn from this group?” What I took away was an amazing love of teaching and willingness to try for the sake of learning and loving students. So many people made an impact on me that week. They hold a special place in my heart for helping me find my way back to my passion of teaching.

4. Validity. I provide professional development giving teachers ideas of how they can use technology with their content. Yet, I never get to actually try any of the ideas. My voice has no validity. I know you may say that is not true but from where I am standing today, that is my lens. I want to be able to share ideas from classroom happenings. I want to share in the frustration students go through when they are being pushed a little harder to get the best out of them. I want to share technology integration ideas with teachers and be able to say what worked and what didn’t.

5. My family. I want to be home more. Summers are hard on our household. Monday through Thursday are long work days and we barely get to see each other. Summer camps don’t last as long as we need. The sun stays shining long in to the night. It still isn’t up long enough to get everything in and quality time spent.

6. Pride. I know pride can be seen as a bad thing but I used to be proud to say, “I am a teacher.” I didn’t have to explain anything. Now when I asked what I do, it ends in a 5 minute explanation and the person usually confusing what I do with I.T. No, I don’t fix or build anything that has to do with the physical computer.

7. Community and connection. Nothing can replace the community and connection you build with students and a school. I have the privilege to still remain in contact with students I taught 15 years ago. I care about them and am proud when they succeed. I want that connection with students again.

IMG_3664So what I am I doing to prepare? One thing I am doing is attending as much professional development as I can surrounding curriculum and the art of teaching. Last week I attended an AP Human Geography workshop on global migration conducted by the University of South Carolina – Center of Excellence for Geographic Education. It was an amazing day of learning. My brain was afloat from all of the wonderful information that was given. I am also taking a couple of days off in March to head to the 70th annual ASCD Conference. I attended this conference last year for the first time and Dr. Russell J. Quaglia’s (http://www.qisa.org/) keynote on student voice was the most inspiring session for me. His keynote was just the kick in the ass I needed to think about student voice and what I was doing to increase the volume about student voice. I am very excited to see what inspiration comes from the conference for me this year.

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IMG_0770Another thing I am doing is a little old school but I am keeping a journal of what I want to do as a teacher. I am filling the notebook with ideas, tips, professional development notes, etc. It’s my little offline learning place. I am surprised how much I have all ready put in the notebook. I think this helps me realize my decision is the right one.

Do I know where or what yet? No, I do not know where I will be teaching or what subject within the realm of Social Studies I will be teaching but I know I will end up where I need to be. When I started teaching I wondered if it was a calling or a career. I think I’ve always know I was called to be a teacher.

I have LOVED the opportunities I have been given being on the edge of the technology education field. It’s just time to get back to doing this work WITH students. I can’t wait for what will be in store for me come August.

What does a teacher need?

I need your help.

Here’s a scenario. It’s early August, a high school teacher is preparing her classroom for the new year. She is a new teacher and wants to incorporate the latest educational practices in her classroom.

I am wondering in the age of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking (4Cs); the maker movement; Project Based Learning; Passion Based Learning; Design Thinking; 1:1 implementations; what supplies does a high school teacher need to be successful?  Once a teacher compiles this list, what is the best way to go about getting all of those supplies? I am not just talking about posters on the wall. I am talking about real everyday supplies like post it notes, chart paper, etc.??

Please leave a comment below or add your suggestions of a supply list for this classroom here.

 

 

2014 in review

I’ve had blogs for years but this year I decided to mashup all of my individual blogs in to one. My stats aren’t stellar but they are showing some progress. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Handmade for the Holidays Blog Hop M.A.S.W. Style

Last week I announcement resliced by Jordan’s Handmade for the Holidays Blog Hop. Today is my day! I’m so excited to share with you my favorite handmade tutorial as well as some of my favorite handmade businesses. If you are in the Columbia area, I give you a couple local events you can attend to purchase handmade gifts this holiday season.

hh blog hop image2I have spent a lot of time in the craft room lately, preparing for the holidays. Today, I would like to share with you an easy wreath you can create for your home or a gift for someone this holiday season.

What do you need?

  1. A foam wreath 8″, 10″, or 12″
  2. 12″X12″ Designer Paper about 4 sheets cut in to 1 1/2″ strips
  3. A glue gun
  4. 24″ Ribbon to match the paper
  5. A bow or other accent piece that matches
  6. Scissors

This tutorial is from Chic’n Scratch and it was created at Halloween. I used this tutorial to create holiday wreaths.

I loved making this wreath and made a couple of them. I overlapped my paper a little more than the video showed and I also used a hot glue gun to adhere my paper on the wreath. This allowed the wreath to be stronger than if I just used a craft adhesive.

12" and 8" wreaths

12″ and 8″ wreaths

Handmade Businesses I Love

HazRat

jellykoe – is an independent toy company based out of Columbia, SC.  It is owned and operated by Kelly and J. Spencer Shull.  jellykoe specializes in handmade designer plush and custom vinyl, resin, and hand sculpted action figures.  In addition to their toy lines, jellykoe also offers original artwork and illustration. Online Shop, Facebook

I absolutely LOVE their plush designs!

 

 

necklace+2

Surcee

Surcee Jewelry – This is a new addition of a handmade business that I love. I found out a past student of mine is creating jewelry. She resides in Charleston, SC. All pieces are hand-crafted and made with quality materials. We love to use beautiful gemstones and beads and are always looking for unique charms and pendants. The pieces are beautiful and one of a kind. Online Shop, Facebook

 

 

Summer Days

Summer Days

Grapes and Gallery – This might be a little off the beaten trail for a “handmade business” but Grapes and Gallery is a local shop where you can “explore your inner artist” and create your very own painting. You can paint with an artist guiding you on a specific painting or you can “do your own thing” by painting what you want on Saturday mornings.

Facebook

 

 

Local Events

Are you in Columbia, SC and want to see some great handmade items in person? Here are a couple of events I love!

sodaSoda City – This market is every Saturday from 9:00-1:00. It’s open year round so you never have to be without something to do on Saturday morning. The vendors vary from local farmers to handmade items, baked goods to vintage fashion.

If you can’t make it to Soda City on Saturdays, stop in to Nest Monday through Friday. Nest is Soda City’s artisan store front on Main Street.

 

 

December 14

December 14

Crafty Feast – is a 100% handmade, juried, independent craft fair in Columbia, SC. Their goal is to bring unique and funky crafts from around the region in a 1 day festival format. This is my favorite craft fair of the year. I’m usually a vendor at this event but decided to take this year off to be a customer. This year Crafty Feast is December 14 from 12-6pm at the Columbia Convention Center. Admission is only $2!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers who will be sharing more crafty gift ideas with you this week:

Continue to support handmade businesses by following Columbia’s Etsy Market Team on Facebook where you’ll stay in the loop with upcoming events and all things crafty in Columbia.

Handmade for the Holidays Blog Hop – starting next week!

With the holidays here, I will be spending some time working on my crafts. Next week I’ll be joining 5 crafty bloggers to participate in a Handmade for the Holidays Blog Hop hosted by resliced by Jordan!

hh blog hop image2

The series will start on Monday, December 1 and run through next Friday, December 5, 2014.

Here’s how it will work:

Each day one blogger will share with you links to some of her favorite handmade gift tutorials. In addition, we’ll also share with you some handmade shops we’re looking forward to supporting (hello, gift ideas!) and some local craft fairs and other events where you can support local artisans this season.

Here’s the schedule:

Monday: Jordan of resliced by Jordan

  • Jordan is a full-time data nerd with a fierce passion for making things by hand. She owns a small handmade business called resliced where she focuses on upcycling to create one-of-a-kind jewelry and purses. Read more about Jordan here.
    • Jordan’s favorite crafts include: sewing (mostly bags & occasionally garments), jewelry making, calligraphy and just about anything else!

Tuesday: MaryAnn of Life is a Maker Faire

  • MaryAnn spends her days training teachers to better utilize technology in the classroom. To escape the Monday-Friday grind, MaryAnn makes cards and other paper goods for her handmade business, M.A.S.W. Designs. Read more about MaryAnn here.
    • MaryAnn’s favorite crafts include: Anything paper – cards, treat bags, banners, etc; Sewing; Baking- cookies, cakes, or any sweets.

Wednesday: Rachel of Sew Happily Ever After

  • Rachel spends her days chasing children around the classroom as an elementary teacher and her evenings chasing her adorable toddler around (and she’s got another little one on the way!). From making you a custom t-shirt quilt to sewing up some seriously impressive clothing – you name it, Rachel can sew it! Read more about Rachel here.
    • Rachel’s favorite crafts include: sewing garments (womens & girls), home decor sewing, and quilting – anything with fabric and thread! Rachel also enjoys photography and cooking.

Thursday: Addie of Addie K.

  • From a wedding dress to a 20 foot boat cover, Addie has been there and sewed that! Addie has been sewing for more than 20 years and has spent the last half of those teaching others to sew – at The Art Institute of Charlotte, at Midlands Technical College starting in the spring, and she’s even available for private lessons! In addition, Addie is also a talented pattern designer. Read more about Addie here.
    • Addie’s favorite crafts include: sewing clothing, quilting, embroidery, kid-friendly crafts and upcycling / finding creative ways to reuse things.

Friday: Shanika of Life is Pichey AND Emily of Butterfly Vintage

  • Shanika loves to craft so much that she founded Gather & Craft as a way to encourage members of the community to come together and create (gather and craft). Recently, Shanika started offering her handmade goods to the public through her new shop, Sebastian Harper. Read more about Shanika here.
    • Shanika’s favorite crafts include: anything fiber related, sewing (hand and machine), knitting, crocheting, natural dyeing.
  • Emily is a former art teacher turned vintage fashion expert {browse her shop on Etsy}. In addition to stocking my closet full of vintage clothes, Emily is also a graphic designer with Sandra Mack Studio. Read more about Emily here.
    • Emily’s favorite crafts include: painting, repurposing, minimal sewing, paper crafts, garlands and anything that incorporates vintage material.

I hope you’ll “hop” around and support the other bloggers participating – subscribe to their blogs, like their Facebook pages and share the love with these gals!

Continue to support handmade businesses by following Columbia’s Etsy Market Team on Facebook where you’ll stay in the loop with upcoming events and all things crafty in Columbia.

 

Life as a beginning runner.

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In August, my husband and I decided it would be a good idea to start running. I am not sure why… it was August in SOUTH CAROLINA! What were we thinking, right? We began the Ease in to 5K program (Couch to 5K). I have never run before in my life. It was something I never thought I would do. Since August we have completed our first 5K and are schedule more through the holidays to keep us moving.

Some things I have learned in the last few months:

1. Running gives me confidence. It’s a hard to explain but running makes me stand a little taller. Not just because of the physical benefits of exercise but because I can say I did it. Prior to August I could barely run 30 seconds straight let alone 45 minutes that I do now. When it comes to workout plans I have not been known to stick to a plan. I stuck with it and when I complete a run no matter how short or long I feel a sense of accomplishment.

I'm slow and that is ok.

I’m slow and that is ok.

2. I’m slow but that is ok. Speed is not what I am after. I want to finish. I am super slow. At times I wonder if it would be faster to walk but I keep trying. I know that everyday I get out there and complete a run, it makes me stronger mentally and physically. One of the things I enjoy about running is it allows me to let go of everything that is going on in my life. The only thing I focus on is meeting today’s running goal. Can I make it to the next tree/stop sign? I push through my brain saying, “Why are you doing this? No one is chasing you.” I have found that I don’t like to just run. My thing is intervals. It helps me push through to the next recovery time.

3. I am more aware of my body and what it needs. So many things are going on here. First off, my body is changing. I am not drastically losing weight but I feel leaner. My close fit differently in some cases they are too big. My body now gives me very clear signs when I eat things that are good for me and things that aren’t good for me. My taste/palette have changed. Processed foods taste gross. It’s almost like exercise has become the translation mechanism for my eating habits.

4. Sugar is the enemy and water is my best friend. There is not other way to say it. One week out from Halloween and I can say I have eaten my fair share of sugar and my body feels awful. I’m slow and sluggish. Sugar is everywhere and I need to be mindful of how much I am ingesting. On the other side of the spectrum I have learned just how important water is to the body. If I don’t drink enough when I run, I feel like I am literally running and going nowhere.

5. The runner community is amazing. I think this is the most rewarding part of the last few months.  Runners are so supportive.  No matter if you need help when your head is getting in the way of you running, you are looking for the right shoes, or just to tell you “Great Job! Keep it up!” The community is amazing. When I completed the 5K a couple of weeks ago, a woman I didn’t know walked up to me and said, “Are you MaryAnn?” “Congratulations on your first 5K! I run with Shirley and she said you would be here today.”  It was great. We shared our experience. I showed her my road rash and her and another women were like, “Yeah, it happens to all of us!”

My Thought.

My Thought.