Monday, October 20, 2014

Celebrate 2014 National Day on Writing with #NYEDChat Because Writing Matters

Today, Monday, October 20, 2014 is National Day on Writing sponsored by NCTE, the National Writing Project, and The New York Times Learning Network. #NYEDChat is inviting all Connected Colleagues to celebrate writing with Blanca Duarte and me, tonight's NYEDChat moderators, at 8:30 pm EST. Join us for a fast-paced, our conversation, entitled, "Writing Matters." 

Perhaps, your writing style is a particular genre, such as poetry, essay, narrative, or maybe you best express yourself through art, photography, film, or graphics. You may opt for the traditional form of paper and pencil or intrigued by digital mediums. Some people showcase their writing in street art while others blog, publish, or write letters. Whatever your style is we welcome you to showcase it in the Twitter conversation that will begin at 8:30 pm EST and post your writing or link to it below in the comment section

Six questions will be presented for the Twitter convo (see below). Since this is an open chat for all connected colleagues we ask that you spread the word so this conversation can be joined by colleagues across the globe. Let's hear what you have to say on the art of writing. 

Join NYEDChat as we celebrate this day because 
"Writing Matters!"

I watch their flight
As dreamers wander 
and writers write. 

CVarsalona 2014

NYEDChat Questions

Welcome to #NYEDChat. Please introduce yourself with your name, role, and location.
8:30 pm
Tag a tweep to join #NYEDChat tonight. Writing Matters!
8:31 pm
Beside using #NYEDChat you can tweet with #MYWritingCommunity to join the national initiative on writing.
8:31 pm
Q1 What type of writing fits your style? #NYEDChat
8:35 pm
Q2 Who do you have in mind when you write? #NYEDChat
8:43 pm
Q3  Why is writing in all its forms (paper/pen, digital, film, videos, in art, infographics, etc.) important. #NYEDChat
8:51 pm
Q4 How can you encourage others to become connected colleagues who value voice?  #NYEDChat #WriteMyCommunity
8:59 pm
Q5 How does your writing influence others and/or impact students’ writing lives?  #NYEDChat #WriteMyCommunity
Q6 Do you have any parting advice for those who might be interested in blogging or writing professionally?
9:16 pm
Link your voice with #NYEDChat at Riddle in 140 char? 5 word poem? Blog link? Other? Have fun writing.
9:20 pm
Thank you for joining #NYEDChat tonight. Be connected and continue to write. #CEM14 #WriteMyCommunity
9:28 pm
Join #NYEDChat on November 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm EST TOPIC: TBD
9:29 pm

Friday, October 17, 2014

Playing with Words for Ghoulish Delight

Are you ready? 
Here's my pumpkin fright for Halloween Night.

In real life this pumpkin is a large ceramic one with a huge candle inside that sits on my bay window greeting everyone who enters my house.

Join Michelle Barnes at Today's Little Ditty to enter her Poetry Friday Parlor of Horrors and perhaps the hand will pop out at you. There you will find a host of poetry friends with an array of delights for you to read.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Achieving Peace

Sometimes life's struggles seems overwhelming, even when they are not as tough as we think they are. At these times, it is wise to step back and reflect on the best way to restore balance. This is not an easy process nor a fix; it is one step. Just as we declutter our rooms, we must declutter our minds to keep balance and peace in sight. 

This week Holly Mueller, one of my Twitter friends and literacy colleague, has asked us to write about peace for the Spiritual Journey Thursday community. I thank Holly for bringing such a timely topic to the forefront of my life. 

It seems so long ago that I wrote about hope and was filled with Robbie Seay Band's Song of Hope but it was only one week ago. Could so much have happened in one short week that unraveled the golden thread of balance? Ahh, but this is the way of life! While in the midst of issues, it is difficult to step back and reflect on how to achieve balance and peace again. But, this is a necessary move as we walk forward on the road of life. 

So for two days I have pondered on the topic of achieving peace. I surmised that it is not a walk that I walk alone. I found a soothing song, Perfect Peace, by Laura Story with one line that popped out and resonated with me. "Though this life is hard, I will always give you perfect peace." My take away after listening to that song is that reflection, meditation, and the hand of the Divine lights the way when days seems murky. 

Needing a creative outlet to achieve peace and balance, I turned to writing and emaze for my offering this week. When life's moments seem overwhelming and your balance is off, let the song's words and the Divine Light guide your path for we do not have to bear the load of life alone. 

For the presentation and zeno poem please go here.

I have a special thank you this week to Michelle Barnes who featured J. Patrick Lewis, poet extraordinaire. He created the poetic form called the zeno, a 10-line verse form with a repeating syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4, 2,1,4,2,1 and a rhyme scheme of abcdefdghd. During October, Michelle will collect zenos at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com for an end of the month celebration and a chance to win a copy of J. Patrick Lewis' new "best of" collection.

Here is a second look at my humble attempt at my first zeno.

Reflection on Achieving Peace

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Unconnected to Connected - The Journey

Before July 1, 2013, I was clueless about the wide world of connectivity afforded by Twitter and other social media platforms. True, I had been to conferences and heard Will Richardson and Marc Prensky talk about the internet, digital natives, and a wealth of resources. True, I had always been a fan of integrating technology into literacy lessons. But in truth, I had not taken the leap of faith to enter the world of social media other than friending and viewing comments on Facebook. With the onset of what I call my "unretirement" as an educator, Twitter rocked my professional world. I became a connected educator, a global citizen breaking down barriers, regions, and boundaries to reach out to educators across the globe. Twitter became my viable channel to be expressive about life, learning, and literacy. It allowed my voice to surface, connect, and collaborate on issues of importance. 

Moving from unconnected to connected has been an expansive journey from no exposure, to lurking, to moderating #NYEDChat, to interviewing on live GHOs, to creating and launching three global virtual digital galleries of artistic expressions. I termed my blog Beyond LiteracyLink because of the interactive nature of my journey. Twitter, Pinterest, and GHO have allowed my individual voice to join with the collective voice of connected educators and citizens of the world. My message is clear: Be a risk taker! Move beyond oneness toward togetherness. Connected educators, together we are one!

(This piece of writing was featured as one of the responses in Tom Whitby's October 6, 2014 Edutopia blog post: The Connected Educator: All About Connectedness. It so happened that one afternoon last month Tom tweeted that he would like tweeters in his PLN to send in thoughts on the theme of being connected. I decided to act upon his request and penned this piece in the short time that I was allotted. This is not my usual style. Being a literacy person, I always like to have time to mull over my ideas and refine them before making them public, but time was of the essence. You can imagine how surprised I was when this was published thanks to Tom's invitation. Being a connected educator is a joining of collegial spirits who are inspired to grow as learners in a world of collaborative talk.)

Image from Pinterest
Since this is Slice of Life Tuesday I thought it would be appropriate to submit my journey as a connected educator. This year has been one of bonding with virtual Twitter friends, F2F contacts in some instances, and an immersion in daily writing. With Connected Educators' Month upon us, it is good practice to stay committed to a profession that impacts teaching and learning on a daily basis. 

is sponsored by Two Writing Teachers today 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Poetry Friday on The Variety of Words to Craft a Poem

When the editor of O (the Oprah Magazine) asked Maya Angelou on how to write a poem she replied, “Like a pianist runs her fingers over the keys, I’ll search my mind for what to say." Maya Angelou was a gifted and prolific writer who continues to inspire me to refine every thought I craftHer words remind me that our fingers are the tools of a voice that calls us to compose. Some days there is a snippet of inspiration to move the spirit. Other days there is the constant revision of words churning and being refined and then there are the days when words don't hit the right note. 

Read Elinor Wylie's thoughts on the many varieties of crafted words.

Pretty Words by Elinor Wylie
Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enamelled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathred birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver dish,
Blue Persian kittens fed on cream and curds.

I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.

Elinor Wylie

Enjoy crafting thoughts this season in hopes of finding fall on a bright autumn day. 
I added a new poem about finding fall. It can be viewed here. Comments are welcomed.

Each Friday, different poets open their sites to host a variety of writers who celebrate the love of poetry. This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Tricia Stohr-Hunt. Please stroll over to Tricia's site, The Miss Rumphius Effect

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Songs of Hope

Throughout the years I have walked down different paths on life's journey with faith as my guide so spending time writing about a spiritual journey filled with hope is right timing. Holly Mueller, a Twitter friend, has asked that we share aspects of our spiritual journey today. With the topic of hope as my prompt, I write despite the pressing call of various tasks because hope is my beacon that moves me forward each day.

Holly has reminded us that the Biblical explanation of hope is confident expectation. I have never thought of hope with those words in mind but do know that without hope I would often be adrift in the turbulent sea of life. Perhaps, you have felt the same nagging feeling during times of stress. At these times, I try to remain calm, call on Divine Providence to support me, and repeat these words from Psalm 33:18, Hope in the Lord and His unfailing love. It is the unfailing word that guides me; the constant presence of hope from the infinite Giver of abiding hope that cushions my missteps and lights my path. It is now with confident expectation I will open each day forward.

In the night when stresses mount, let the anxious voice inside give rise to a song of hope. 

 Listen to A Song Of Hope here.

Thank you Holly and the members of Spiritual Journey Thursday for thoughtful posts on this #ThankfulThursday.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Single Leaf Finding Fall

It was one of those quiet evenings just before the last fleck of light folded the night into darkness when I walked out to the deck. Much to my amazement, I found one single leaf waiting for someone to caress its patterned shape. The leaf was a signal for me to to find joy in nature's simple autumnal beauty. 

Because the season of autumn has always been one of my highlights of the year, I ask all those who are interested in capturing its images through the lens of a photographer and poet to join me in  finding fall. 

In tribute to the journey of a single leaf finding fall, I created a 30 second video that was supposed to air on DigiLit Sunday, hosted by Margaret Simon, last Sunday. Since the tasks of the week got the best of me, I am showcasing the Animoto video here.

Narrative for Video:
We relaxed, reflected, and recharged searching for summer serenity. Now summer turns to fall and I ask that you come reflect with me about the majesty of autumn. Find fall among the leaves, the changing temperatures, the shortened days. Dream big. Search!

To spark children's interest in writing poetry about autumn leaves, I suggest starting with a favorite fall activity from my childhood. Ask students to take a nature walk, find a special leaf, preserve it with wax paper and an iron, and bring it to school the next day. When class begins, ask the learners to complete an admit ticket for a reflective writing first task.  The prompt would be: What 4 words describe your autumn leaf? A read aloud of the poem, Fall, leaves, fall by Emily Bronte would follow with students engaging in a collaborative conversation about the author's purpose in writing this poem.

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day. 

To continue the creative writing activity, the short poem and video I created can be introduced as an example of the artistic practice of transmediation, the combination of various "expressive media types" for a multi-sensory experience. Through the models presented, learners will see how technology can be integrated into a literacy lesson to stimulate the senses and allow for the experiences of reading, analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, and communicating. Students will delve into the theme of finding fall through different mediums. Ultimately, they will create their own poem based on the leaf they found or an image of one from an active internet search. 

Poetry Friday is being hosted this week by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup. You will be delighted by Jama's pain au chocolat that graces her site. Not only are there yummy treats but wonderful offerings from a range of writers. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Harvesting a Garden of Thoughtful Dialogue with Connected Colleagues

If you ever wondered about Twitter chat conversations, it will benefit you to join one session to lurk and learn before immersing yourself in the threaded conversation. You can find a myriad of hashtag communities for heart-filled conversations, instant collaboration, and learning when you search through Twitter. It never fails each time I enter a chat that I encounter individuals whom I know or new ones to converse with. 

The power of the connected world rests in a meeting of minds with individuals from various profession. Twitter allows for this to happen each day and night. It all begins with a desire to afford yourself collaborative conversations about life, learning, and/or leadership. You can even explore avenues of thought with those outside your field of interest. This will broaden your perspective. If you search for chats inside your field, you will find a variety that have discussions on pertinent topics. Endless possibilities await those who believe in the power of connecting through social media platforms. 

The poem below is dedicated to those who tirelessly seek online professional development opportunities to further their growth and impact the well-being of others.  
In fields of open dialogue,
not one but many individuals connect-
engaging in bursts of conversations
filling learning spaces.

On fertile ground, collegial thought
develops through circles of talk-
grows through connected conversations
that twist, turn, and flourish
from budding seeds of learning
into pods of knowledge.

Not one but many 
connected colleagues form bonds, 
grow ideas in connected spaces
nurtured by open-mindsets,
to impact their living and learning lives.
-cvarsalona 2014

I would like to thank the various groups across the nation and world that I chat with via Twitter channels. Our threaded conversations are powered through a connected Twittersphere that spreads our thoughts. 

Tonight, I send out a special thanks to the #LeadWithGiants community who declared me an official "Giant" among them. This is such an honor when you only know each other virtually. Articulation in 140 characters is precise when you want a global world to hear your voice come through loud and clear. 

Reflect - Connect - Flourish
in gardens of thoughtful dialogue with connected colleagues!

I also would like to thank the #SOL14 Community for their faithfulness to the task of crafting posts each week to engage the adult learner. Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.