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More Homework Meme: Musings from the Mile High City

Tis the season for joyful giving, receiving and good old-fashioned fun! 

Just when I feared my writer's block was buried deep inside underneath lots of turkey, trimmings and Christmas cookies, the lovely Ariel Sacks (On the Shoulders of Giants) saved me from having to think about what my fellow bloggers and teacher leaders might want to read next. She graciously "tagged" me in the "More Homework Meme," a game designed to reveal who teacher writers are when we're not teaching or writing! 

Ariel posed 11 questions for tagged bloggers to answer. Here's my best attempt to receive the meme in the spirit of the season, and give back in the form of the following responses:

1. What is a great education book you hold dear? 

My shelves are filled with professional texts and books about education. I also have a healthy stack of new books I'm anxious to dig into over the break (including Ariel's Whole Novels for the Whole Class: A Student-Centered Approach, and Marsha Ratzel's Teaching in High Gear: My Shift Toward a Student-Driven, Inquiry-Based Science Classroom). Bottom line: if a book focuses on keeping students at the center while improving teacher practice, I'm hooked. If I had to name one text that I continue to come back to it'd be Peter Johnston's Choice Words. This thin book of wisdom on how our language impacts children's learning is dog-eared, highlighted, and marked up in the margins. It reminds me that what we say and how we say it matters. I'm also heavily inspired and influenced by Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Both books remind me of the importance of genuine high expectations, and serve as mentors for the classroom community I work daily to create. 

2. What is a great non-education book you hold dear?

This is a tough one. I hold many books dear, from classics to contemporary young adult fiction. One of my childhood (and adulthood) favorites is Harper Lee's masterpiece: To Kill A Mockingbird. As a child I imagined having a friend like Scout, longed for a brother like Jem, and admired and appreciated Atticus, a character who to this day represents the type of parent, person, and subtle social justice champion our world still needs. First published in 1960, this book continues to teach its readers about the human experience in the 21st century...and likely for many generations to come. 

3. E-reader or old-fashioned paper?

Both. I love having a backlit, portable e-reader filled with books, magazines, and newspapers at my fingertips and not having to worry about running out of reading material. But sometimes, I just need to feel the weight of a "real" book in my hands, smell the ink on the pages, and experience the act of reading--the old-fashioned way. 

4. What's your morning preference: coffee, tea, water, or other?

Coffee. My morning beverage tends to double as breakfast so I often indulge in flavored lattes (or at this time of year skinny peppermint mochas :). I always have a bottle of water alongside my caffeine, but tend to drain my coffee tumbler first. I occasionally choose tea (chai is my favorite), especially if I feel the sniffles approaching. 

5. What drives you to write, given how busy you are with everything else? Answer in one sentence only.

I write to authentically share with my students why writing matters...and because it's therapeutic, reflective and fun.

6. How do you get to work in the morning?

Like most Coloradoans, I drive. My bright apple red Mazda 3 gets me from point A to point B -- about a 15-20 minute commute from home to school.

7. What TV show--past or present--is funniest?

Admittedly, I'm more into dramas. But the classic I Love Lucy is pretty hard to beat, and the quirky Seinfeld still retains its humor and is reprised frequently in the form of family jokes and inside references. 

8. What dish do you cook for company?

If I can, I get out of cooking altogether and take company out for dinner :). As such, I don't have a "go-to" dish and tend to create a menu based on the event or guest list. I follow recipes pretty religiously since I rarely make the same thing on a regular basis.

9. If you had to live in another country, which one would it be? 

It's a tie--for beauty and nostalgia (and an abundance of amazing food and wine), I'd live in Italy, the country where I honeymooned. And for very different reasons, I'd live in Ethiopia, a country with which I'm developing a very personal and spiritual connection. I believe every American should live in (or at least visit) the developing world to more fully understand the global human experience. 

10. Where are your grandparents from?

My maternal grandparents were from the former Yugoslavia (Croatia and Slovenia) and my paternal grandparents had ancestral ties to the United Kingdom (Ireland and England). All four called Colorado home however, so my family roots in my home state run deep. 

11. If you had to wear either sweatpants and a t-shirt or formal attire (formal, not business casual, folks) to work every day for a month, which one would you choose?   

I love dressing up now and then, but would have to opt for sweatpants and a t-shirt. I wouldn't want my attire (or really high heels) to slow me down from keeping up with a room full of adolescents...and comfortable clothes are currently my mainstay for working in the virtual world! 

Your turn! 

Want to join in the meme merriment? Just create a new post with your responses (add the link below) or post your musings to one or more of the questions here in the comments. (Note: I'm not tagging 11 bloggers since so many of my fellow CTQ edu-bloggers have already been tagged -- read herehere and here for more fun facts and to access other tagged bloggers). 

Questions:

1. Who would you invite (dead or alive) to a dinner party of 10 if you knew your invitees would RSVP "yes!"

2. What's that one song that gets stuck in your head?

3. Where do you do your best lesson planning?

4. If you were stranded on a deserted island with access to one book, one movie, and one snack of your choice what would you choose?

5. Mac or PC?

6. What are you most proud of?

7. How has blogging changed you as a person, a writer or a teacher?

8. Do you make (and keep) resolutions? Why/why not?

10. Define teacher leadership in 140 characters (then tweet it! :)

11. What's one thing on your bucket list that you've been able to cross off?

May your 2014 be filled with joy, abundant blessings, passionate teacher leadership, and a voracious growth mindset that supports you through any challenges or problems of practice. Cheers!

4 Comments

Cheryl Suliteanu commented on December 30, 2013 at 3:08pm:

let the fun continue :)

Questions:

1. Who would you invite (dead or alive) to a dinner party of 10 if you knew your invitees would RSVP "yes!"

Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King (they never met in person!), Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, Tom Hanks, Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan (my inspiration to be a teacher!), Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, and Malala Yousafzai.  Equality, education, courage, perseverance, idealism, constructive debate, women's contributions to the world, multiple perspectives... 

2. What's that one song that gets stuck in your head?

Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants

3. Where do you do your best lesson planning?

Vinaka, a coffee house holding on to the pre-Starbucks-sit-relax-with-a-real-mug-with-refills-hang-out-with-friends-mismatched-furniture kind of place.

4. If you were stranded on a deserted island with access to one book, one movie, and one snack of your choice what would you choose?

Can I bring my dogs?! If I had them, I wouldn't need a book or movie!! ;-) Snack... movie theater popcorn!

5. Mac or PC?

BOTH!! I like Powerpoint better than Keynote, but Mac for everything else :)

6. What are you most proud of?

I am definitely most proud of the accomplishments and professional growth I've acheived in the two years since I became part of CTQ.

7. How has blogging changed you as a person, a writer or a teacher?

Since I am not (yet) a blogger, I look forward to reading what other's are experiencing!!

8. Do you make (and keep) resolutions? Why/why not?

Nope! If I need to accomplish something it shouldn't depend on the time of year!

10. Define teacher leadership in 140 characters (then tweet it! :)

Teacher leadership = collaboration among ed community so every child has opportunity to experience success in life.

11. What's one thing on your bucket list that you've been able to cross off?

I was able to attain national recognition for writing about my vision for innovative education (I didn't know it was on my bucket list, but now that it happened, it's pretty awesome :)

May your 2014 be filled with joy, abundant blessings, passionate teacher leadership, and a voracious growth mindset that supports you through any challenges or problems of practice. Cheers!

And here's some new questions to ponder! Let's keep the fun going:

1.  What is your funniest teaching experience?

2. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you’d spend the money on?

3. Dog, cat, bird, reptile, other? Why or why not?

4.  Would you rather explore space or the oceans? Why?

5.  If you made a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

6.  What book would you want every student to read?

7.  If money, time, and transportation were no obstacle, what field trip would you take your students on?

8.  What is your ancestry? (Is anyone 100% ____ ?)

9.  Tropical island, Africa, or Europe?

10.  If we started a CTQ school, what would you most like to contribute as a teacher? As a teacher leader?

Jessica Cuthbertson Jessica Cuthbertson commented on January 3, 2014 at 11:38pm:

Can I be #11 at that dinner party?

Cheryl,

Thanks for playing along (and adding new questions for others to ponder! :) I LOVE your dinner party list line-up...and would definitely find a way to weasel an invite to that dinner party if I had the chance! Many of my own inspirational heroes made your list! And, as a fellow mama of fur babies, of COURSE you can bring your dogs on that hypothetical deserted island :) -- although I think you might still want a book when your pooches poop out and take naps? :) 

I'll be brief but try to tackle your list of questions and feel free to tag others!

1. A singular moment is not springing to mind but my best days are ones where lots of laughter (including at my expense) fills the room :).

2. Philanthropy -- I think it would be incredible to donate money to organizations that make a difference for others and "spread the wealth" far and wide.

3. Dog(s) all the way. I currently have three mini-Schnauzers. I believe there's a reason that dog is god spelled backwards and canine companions have rescued me many times in my life.

4. Oceans -- the underwater feels mysterious and rich with life. Living in a land-locked state I've always dreamed about the ocean. 

5. Well, I can't imagine a movie about my life (would be quite the sleeper I fear :) but it would be fabulous to be played by someone with serious acting chops (and curves) like Scarlett Johannson!

6. To Kill A Mockingbird

7. With those obstacles removed, I'd take the around the world to experience life and culture on every contintent!

8. I'm Slovenian (50%), Irish and English. My maternal grandparents were both first generation immigrants from the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia and Slovenia).

9. Definitely Africa (but Europe is lovely, too :).

10. First and foremost, I'd want to teach at that school! I'd also want to help design a middle school program that integrates literacy across the disciplines and uses literacy skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and service learning in real world contexts based on problems/solutions and projects students work to design, create and implement in their communities. 

Shannon Cde Baca commented on December 30, 2013 at 3:30pm:

Continuing the fun!

My Answers:

1. Who would you invite (dead or alive) to a dinner party of 10 if you knew your invitees would RSVP "yes!"  Maya Angelou

2. What's that one song that gets stuck in your head? "Here Come's the Sun"

3. Where do you do your best lesson planning? This used to be during ineffective staff development meetings but now it is early AM in my downstairs office.

4. If you were stranded on a deserted island with access to one book, one movie, and one snack of your choice what would you choose? Book would be Don Quixote, movie ... I am not sure... snack would be chips (so good and so bad).

5. Mac or PC? Currently MAC

6. What are you most proud of? I was a good daughter to my Mom.

7. How has blogging changed you as a person, a writer or a teacher? I have become more aware of issues I did not think about before...other perspectives too.

8. Do you make (and keep) resolutions? Why/why not? I make them and eventualy keep them. I think it is important to reflect on what you want to do in the time you have.

10. Define teacher leadership in 140 characters (then tweet it! :)

Teacher leadership is the opportunity to use our talents to make the changes to education we all know we need.

11. What's one thing on your bucket list that you've been able to cross off?

I rafted the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon.

Jessica Cuthbertson Jessica Cuthbertson commented on January 3, 2014 at 11:21pm:

Thanks Shannon! :)

Thanks for playing along, Shannon! :)

Enjoyed a little glimpse into your world - both professional and personal. The "where you do (or did) your best lesson planning" made me laugh out loud :). And if you have to have a song stuck in your head, well, in my opinion you can't go wrong with the Beatles! :)

Happy New Year!

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