SOL17 DoodleaDay 7 Inner Critic


How do you overcome your inner critic?

#DoodleaDay is helping me have that conversation — the one in the above doodle. It’s so common, isn’t it? Especially if you’re just starting a project of any kind. For me it was starting blogging, and then to keep up with blogging.

And now it is doodling– I doodle in lines and squiggles; I’m not an artist, but I think this doodling daily is improving that, along with overcoming my blogging arguments.

So my advice to myself and my readers is to to keep trying — and like that last part on the doodle:

we learn when we read and watch what others do,

so acknowledge those who went before

by honoring them with your take

on what was learned from them,

and share so others learn too.

Just go where your heart takes you and share it–

As sharing like this makes the world great!


Places I’ve learned:

Resources to Start Blogging:

The Fear of Sharing by George Couros 

A Series of blog posts on blogging by George Couros

Why Educators Blog: A series by Sue Waters from Scroll down for more posts

A JumpStart in Technology Class by Jennifer Gonzalez [I’ve take it; it’s awesome- my work here]


haiku sol17 blossoms hail.001.jpeg

Ideas blossom

Doubt hails to destroy, yet melts

to open thought’s bud.


This post is:

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today:  Inner Critic Conversation

My Doodling song — one of my very favorites:

Title Song from Star Trek Enterprise: Where My Heart Will Take Me (Faith of the Heart) originally written by Diane Warren, reworked by Dennis McCarthy for Star Trek Enterprise and sung by Russell Watson.


Doodle by Sheri Edwards

Blossom image and poetry by Sheri Edwards

DigiLit Sunday Balance

Balancing Goals and Needs

The sun rises, sometimes behind the fog and clouds, but it is always there, shining for us.


We rise, and focus on this day’s agenda. Our agenda, our focus for each day is but one part of our bigger dreams and goals. Each day is a journey whose purpose reflects personal and career goals, with specific individual and work goals.

The path of these goals that we envision is often not linear, not smooth; our needs for living, safety, loving, belonging, and community intersect with the needs, and the goals, of others. This is our human journey.

We have learned to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise so we grow as communities in respect and acceptance of our differences, in order to help all of us move forward in our pursuit of happiness, that dream that always shines for us, that hope that keeps us going despite roadblocks, missteps, and obstacles.

Balance comes from our respect for the rights and needs of others, as well as standing firm in our own needs and rights. I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s wise words in the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

I believe each person is naturally entitled to do as he pleases so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

So for balance, we enjoy and learn from our journey, including learning from and accepting others. We meet our own needs, and connect with others in meeting theirs. There are twists and turns, missteps, and respites. But we take the time and action to join in our journeys as time moves us forward, as the sun, hidden or brightly shining, keeps us focused on goals that change and move with our journey’s reflections and insights.

In our personal lives, we daily are interrupted with life’s challenges, which affect our goals and needs. So when one opportunity closes, we turn to find another. The opportunity could be a job, a grant, a friend, but life situations could change– a job closing or elimination, a grant unfilled, a perspective changed, our health changed, a death. Because, as John Lennon, reminded us:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

But the important thing is the full verse:

Before you cross the street take my hand.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon: Beautiful Boy

It is our connections, our communion of fellowship with each other, that keeps us balanced and able to continue, and help others continue, in the journey.

In the classroom, that means we teach the whole child: interests, passions, needs. We take time to express and understand and care to each other’s ideas and feelings, because we are connected, we are a community of learners. Our conversations and connections help us deal with life’s challenges and ideas so we can decide how to move forward.

Without that balance of working together, we become inert in our ventures or ideologues of rigidness, unable to see the beauty of our human uniquenesses and unable to connect with our fellow travelers in our human journey. As Marie Curie said:

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

Marie Curie

Goals, yes; yet with those goals, our needs draw us together as a community so each of our journeys can succeed. In the journey of life as we follow our dreams and goals, take each other by the hand, share and connect, and help each other. That is balance.








Part of DigiLit Sunday

Margaret Gibson

Jan 7 Community History

Jan 7 Community History

I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. We are tied together in a history that dates to the building of Grand Coulee Dam. It’s a rich history forged in a tumultuous time, during the Great Depression, in which our solution to the devastation was the New Deal: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s determination to help the American people. Grand Coulee Dam was one of the great infrastructure components. Thousands of people flocked to work on one of the wonders of the world, the largest gravity dam and concrete structure in the world at the time which would not only provide power but also irrigation to hundreds of thousands of miles of semi-arid lands, giving life to the land. It’s power provided the electricity to build the warplanes that helped win World War II. And that dam stopped the migration of salmon, the mainstay of food for the local Native American tribes, who had been forced onto a reservation, the roads closed, and families visiting each other from other areas of the Pacific Northwest found themselves trapped and forced to stay as well. The original reservation was formed in 1872 by Executive Order of President Grant. The reservations are sovereign nations, many with treaties with the United States of America. 

Nespelem, a town just northeast of the Columbia River’s turn to the west, is the tribal agency for the Colville Confederated Tribes. The reservation borders the Columbia River [in the portion behind Chief Joseph Dam called Lake Rufus Woods], which flows through Elmer City and Coulee Dam, is blocked by the Grand Coulee Dam to form Lake Roosevelt behind it, and provides the water that forms Banks Lake which borders Electric City. East Coulee Dam sits on the reservation; West Coulee Dam does not. Between Coulee Dam below the Grand Coulee Dam and Electric City above the Dam is the town of Grand Coulee. The five towns are tied by the water and land where the people live who make this semi-arid shrub-steppe biome their home.

So, we are a community rich in history, a history built on the culture of those who chose to live here. Nespelem, of course, is home to Native Americans whose own rich history spans thousands of years. It had it’s own businesses, schools, agencies, attractions— and it’s own history of converging cultures. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, west Coulee Dam was home to engineers, the designers and supervisors. East Coulee Dam was home to workers; originally it was called Mason City and was to be a model town for the New Deal. Grand Coulee arose from the thousands who came, living in tents and make-shift shacks hoping for work at the Dam, or creating their own work and businesses to serve the thousands arriving to work. Elmer City, on the Colville Reservation, was incorporated in 1947. Electric City incorporated in 1950.

Yes, I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. And as a rural community, our identity flows from family, friends, and neighbors who find ways to work together to support our community. We’re still working on that part; communities of diverse cultures take time to nurture.


Image: Marked up NASA Public Domain

#140WC Happy Holidays


Happy Holidays

Holidays of all kinds occur around this time; traditions in so many different cultures. Our school is filled with choices for spreading cheer and sharing traditions, or just enjoying each other’s company. Some add decorations to a tree. Others add wall art to the hallway. Some draw portraits of their classmates. Others practice singing or dancing for a holiday program.  Students take leadership positions and become Master of Ceremonies for a holiday program. Some bring in treats to share, like traditional fry bread, venison jerky, or salmon. The community is excited for the program, when each class performs in song, readings, or dance. Some classes sing or recite in one of the traditional languages.

And all of this we squeeze in as part of and while reading and writing to learn the standards. Because, in reality, it is the joy of sharing together that builds the community needed for continued learning.

WC: 158

Join the #140WC Challenge





It’s summer:









I am enlightened by my reading, writing, conversing, and connecting. It spawns new ideas for next year, focusing on Common Core State Standards as ideas shape themselves. I see a path ahead of me filled with old debris to be discarded, but old concepts to integrate into the goal, the light ahead, an opening to reach and enjoy renewed.

I stand atop the ravine, surrounded by Virginia Creeper vines with chattering squirrels above me. I know I choose the path best needed for my students. I know that I am not alone, for I am a connected learner.

Besides reading [Reinventing Writing by Vicki Davis for one example ], I have been writing posts for my #clmooc experience and for the CORElaborate Blogathon. I wrote and shared poetry.  I walked around my neighborhood for inspiration. I helped save the trees in our park by writing a tweet.

Inspiration is all around. One place is #clmooc. That is a Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration. I was involved as a participant and as part of the support team. Read about my #clmooc experience and learn about Connected Learning. It really isn’t anything new — except in how we are connected. Not through snail mail pen pals, not through TV news, not by traveling places. Although all those are available, in today’s world, we connect online through Google Hangouts, online communities like the clmooc Google Plus community, through social media, and through blogs, tweets, photo apps, etc. I can be connected right now to my friends around the world with a click of my mouse. That’s what has changed. That means we can pursue our interests, with peers around the world, for shared purposes, to learn academic goals, in an openly networked community to create products of interest for personal or societal reasons.

So education has changed, and I’m ready. I’m ready and supported and inspired by my clmooc Google Plus community and my Twitter PLN, as I reciprocate the collaboration. In fact, some of the middle school educators have started a community of our own: Connect in the Middle at MightyBell. We’ve started small circles to plan and implement curriculum on Social Justice, ePortfolios, and Connect2Learn, a collaborative blog for student writing prompts. If you work with middle school students, please consider joining.


What about you? What inspired you and your learning this summer? Let’s connect our paths and share what we’ve learned!




Yes, We Can Serve…

Check out the writing classroom at Nespelem School.

We’ve started a voicethread that other students across the country are joining. President Obama asked for a new spirit of service to our country. Our students heard that call in the Inaugural Address and responded in small ways to improve their community. In fact, we’ve started new goals after our first round of service.

Listen to what we started and other kids in Wisconsin who have joined us have to say. Another school in San Diego will also join us. Click here. Voicethread may be forwarding the final version to President Obama.

The fifth grade class is working with a class from Memphis, Tennessee; you’ll see comments from this school on student pages. We’ll be working on projects and skyping each other for video discussions. Our Dance Group under the direction of Terrie Sanger will share traditional dancing via video Skype. Students in both classrooms are thrilled to work together.

It’s a bold new world, and our kids expect to part of it in ways most of people don’t understand yet.

Our goal is to guide students to responsible and positive use of the power of these tools while learning. Our students expect, no; they are demanding this now.

Enjoy our voices, and thanks for supporting us.

Note: also blogged at: Nespelem Eagles and What Else-

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This museum could be online for all.

This museum could be online for all.

Ben Wilkoff’s Learning is Change Blog explained this tenet from the Educon 2.1 conference:

“Idea six: The purpose of school is to expose kids to people who are actually doing what is possible. Perhaps it is in finding out how things really work. Perhaps it is in not knowing everything. Perhaps it is in knowing exactly what you want to do with your life.”

A Reflection

Idea Six embodies the heart of education. Whether at home or in school, we strive in our human capacity to know ourselves, our talents, our skills. We want to improve at that which we show skill. We want to learn how the world works, and find avenues through which our travel adds to our strengths as we search for a way to work throughout our lives in careers that hopefully reflect our abilities.

I know; we have tests to pass and standards to teach. Why? So students know skills to be successful in today’s ever-changing world so our country stays strong and viable. Standards in content provide the background to move forward in developing our ideas and questions. Standards in process provide heuristic strategies to create our stance and solutions. They guide us in our search for how the world works.

But does everyone need to know everything, and pass the same test to prove it? If I buy a new electric car, I expect whichever one I drive home will be the same quality and standard that my neighbor’s car has. However, my neighbor will have different places to go, different ways to drive, and different purposes for his car. The thing is standardized; the people are not.

Isn’t that what we have forgotten in education? the people teaching and the people learning. The people use the standards to reach personal goals, and they grow with each goal in different ways. Remember the adage, “Different strokes for different folks.” When we standardize the people part, we dilute and detract from the possible proficiencies of each person; we funnel the future into today’s tenets instead of feeding the future with the informed heuristic possibilities of lifelong learners, whose individual and collective competencies could solve unimaginable problems.

The word “education” derives from the Latin “educere — lead out.” Education should lead students to find themselves, to strengthen what they do well, to discover hidden talents, and to learn from others who use their talents well so that students, too, become productive, creative citizens. Students don’t need to know everything, and they will learn what they need to know — when it’s needed to learn about themselves or to learn how things work as they create and interact in learning quests of which they have chosen the focus and in which the standards provide background, guidance, and focus.

At home, students choose where, what, and why to learn; the interactive Internet draws them to that which captures their interests and strengths. Unless education mirrors that interactive choice, leading students to known and hidden talents, educational institutions will find resistance from students; it won’t serve the needs to learn and use their own strengths.

Connecting students with people who are doing what is possible — or could be possible — leads students to knowing their own talents; the Internet provides a river of connections in simple texts, expert queries (“Ask a _____”), interactive projects, collaborative quests, and real-time or archived media interactions. How many classrooms today allow this interactive, student-focused curricula that leads students to “knowing what they want to do with their lives?”

How would educators do that? The standards provide the harbor, a reference point in content and process; the educators and students decide the direction of their journey into the river, planning the places and prospects that contain the current and forge the flow of learning, creating their own ports of explorations and expertise to which others connect. These ports are personal docks displaying each student’s possibilities and proficiencies — a lifelong legacy of learning. Moor to the dock to discover the scope of the scholarship and the compass of the course; a test isn’t required. I think classrooms would be more joyful, inclusive, and active places if we help and connect people in their process of developing their possibilities; classrooms would be places where students WANT to go — to augment and evince their odyssey. Wouldn’t that be something?

A Possible Outline

The Start:

A Discipline

The Standards in Content and Process

Standard-Summarizing Scenarios

The Quest:

Your interest?

Your reason?

Your question?

Your goal?

Your knowledge?

Your resources?

Your plan?

Your journey.

Your reflection/revision/retracking.

Your presentation [of the journey; of the learning; of standard (content and process) references; of breakthrough (discovery or obstacle) in thoughts, knowledge, standards, solutions; of collaboration; of peer review; of continuing questions and quests.]

The End:

There is none; it’s a lifelong process.