Friday, May 27, 2016

Celebrating with Friends

When life comes 
a calling with celebrations, 
what do you do?





Last Sunday, I celebrated the bridal shower of a framily member whom I watched grow up since she was a baby. I was also fortunate enough to help decorate for the event.

On Tuesday, I was interviewed by Larry Jacobs of Education Talk Radio on my perspective of the upcoming International Literacy Association's 2016 Conference. You can read about that wonderful experience here

During the week, I noticed, wondered, created digital compositions and image poems, and wrote blogs and poetry in between shopping for additional plants for my gardens. 

All week long, I enjoyed corresponding with colleagues who were sending in their offerings for my upcoming spring gallery, Spring's Seeds. If you go to #SpringsSeeds on Twitter, you can start to see my growing virtual garden of poetry blossoms.

It was a full week of celebrating and now there is more celebrating to do with the start of the Memorial Day Weekend. 

Remember, "The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is to celebrate."

Please visit Ruth Ayres at Celebrate This Week, a place where weekly celebrations are posted by the blogging community. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Persona Poems Line-up

At Today's Little Ditty, hosted by Michelle H. Barnes, Laura Shovan challenged all who are interested to write persona poems during the month of May. Below you will find my offerings. 

It is my intent to speak my mind,
to be intentional as I act upon my words;
deliberate as I move through the motions .
I am a connected educator,
one of thousands across the globe.
I speak with intentionality.
A growth mindset leads me.
Positivity guides me. 
I listen and hear my colleagues
as I create alongside them,
hoping to impact teaching and learning
on a daily basis.
With intent, I move to the beat,
feeling the sparks of connectivity
letting my voice rise with the collective chorus
for the greater good of learners first!
©CVarsalona, 2016
As I was walking to my flower garden today, I saw a few mounds of ant hills. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the ants busily scurrying around a circular mound with a deep hole. This #noticepoem for children evolved.

Vintage painting, artist unknown (seen here)
It's storytime-
hugs and books
with Daddy and James.
Daddy nestles us 
close together.
Millie comes along.
We love to listen to
Daddy's deep voice
as he reads 
our favorite book.
When I grow up
I will read
Scratchfoot again
and again to Millie.
I'm going to be
a great reader
like Daddy.
He told me so.
©CVarsalona, 2016

Please visit Julie Larios at The Drift Record for the Poetry Friday Round-up and don't forget to check out the persona poems at Today's Little Ditty.

I hope you enjoyed my writing adventure that had me noticing and wondering.

NOTE: The deadline for offering digital compositions (poem and photo), an inspirational quote, or photo for Spring's Seeds Gallery that I am designing is next week. I look forward to Poetry Friday friends submitting their inspirational blooms for my virtual garden. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Table Turned

As a co-moderator of #NYEDChat I have had the opportunity to interview various educators at the different Long Island EdCamp events but on May 24th the table was turned. I was an interviewee. 

It was a surprise to be contacted by the @ILAToday team of the International Literacy Association to speak about the upcoming conference, #ILA16, in Boston this summer. Prior to yesterday's interview, I had the opportunity to prep with April Hall and communicate with the broadcaster, Larry Jacobs. It is always a wonderful experience collaborating with those who are like-minded and enthusiastic. 

Since I am a member and have been attending International Literacy Association's conferences years before it switched over from being called the International Reading Association (IRA), I was asked to give my perspective on the upcoming conference. I was pleasantly surprised by Larry Jacob's humor that immediately brought a light-hearted touch to the interview. At the onset, Stephen Sye, ILA Associate Executive Director, was asked to describe the differences between IRA and ILA. He noted that ILA is expanding its reach to include parents and community members along with educators. It is directing its attention to literacy around the world. He added that the conference this year, titled Transforming Lives Through Literacy 2.0, will have between 6,000 to 7,000 educators and exhibitors attending from July 9-11, 2016. On July 8th, EdCamp Literacy will be held and I will not only attend but hope to participate as a presenter. 

Besides the usual academic influence at the conference, there will be social events to keep the energy level high. Lit Night at Fenway Ball Park and the Inaugural Steps to Literacy 5K are highlights of the festivities. Other bonus features are free conference registration for pre-service teachers and the first timers to the conference session on how to make the most of the conference experience. 

Beyond attending amazing sessions with literacy experts, I will be presenting a workshop with my team, colleague Dr. Michele Haiken and poet Laura Purdie Salas. In our hands-on session, Transforming Writer's Lives with Digital Tools as Powerful Agents to Impact Literacy Instruction, Authenticate Voice, & Present Positive Perspectives, we will present a series of creative and collaborative activities to explore the power of digital tools to affect change in literacy instruction, engage learners as writers, and create agency in classrooms. In addition to presenting and attending sessions, I will be pleased to network with colleagues across the country and meet up with long-time conference friends, literacy experts, and poets, make face-to-face contact with Twitter friends, and be passionately caught up in the learning experience.

As a Wonder Lead Ambassador for Wonderopolis, I will highlight the inquiry/noticing and wondering process in my presentations and hope to connect many educators with the wonders of the Wonderopolis free site. You can find me tweeting from the conference floor and blogging about #ILA16 when I return home. 

Am I excited for this experience? I certainly am and hope that my passion for learning and being an ILA member was heard throughout the interview. You can access the archive of the interview here

With the table turned, I was able to experience what it takes to be a good listener and responder during an interview. I also found out just what a small world this is. During the interview, Larry Jacobs asked me if I knew a Twitter colleague, Tom Whitby, here on Long Island. It just so happens that I not only know Tom, a fellow connected educator and author, but I have interviewed him. Larry has known Tom for years so after the interview both Larry and I notified Tom of our meeting on air.

I thank both April Hall and Larry Jacobs for partnering to highlight the International Literacy Association's 2016 Conference and including me as an interviewee and spokesperson.

This post is also visible on my Wonder Ground blog site and can be accessed here.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

Our EduNarrative is Important

This morning, I opened the windows to the beautiful start of a day and listened to the chirping sounds filtering through. The sun shone brightly and spring seemed to be popping out all over. Flowers and trees were in bloom and people were milling about. 

Twitter was also chirping early this morning. Sean Gaillard opened the day with reminders that we would be celebrating the positives at #CelebrateMonday. A tweet from another edufriend, Alex Stubenbort, came through my Twitter feed, posing a question of the week: How can teachers as a group dispel the "just a teacher" narrative that is so prevalent in our society? Why is this important to do so?

Since I was about to write a tribute post to teachers I replied to Alex's request, asking educators to join #weteach365 and change the narrative of education. 

Teaching has been an honored tradition throughout the years. Articles have been written showing that the teacher is the one who has the ability to shape the course of a child's future. Teachers, as the awakeners, guide students on their journeys. They are the influencers. James H. Stronge's work on effective teaching notes this in the following #eduinspiration:

On #CelebrateMonday and every day of the school year, teachers are asked to tell their stories. They post photos of their interactive classrooms, their makerspaces, and passion projects to showcase the successes of their craft as it impacts student learning. Edunarratives need to shine in praise of what effective teachers do best: ignite passions, provide choices leading to amplified student voice, and promote student ownership of learning. 

As a collective body of practitioners, teachers can change the narrative of education through concerted efforts as awakeners, leaders, and change agents for they are the champions of the child and difference makers who impact learning

Why is it important to tell your edunarrative
Write to #weteach365 on Twitter with your response.

Please visit Two Writing Teachers here to read other Slice of Life Tuesday slices.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Digital platforms, like Twitter, are used daily by connected colleagues for professional learning. It is the intent of these educators to broaden their reach and cross regional boundaries as a means of communicating on a global scale. Learning becomes a continual cycle through conversations, infographics, and blogs. Digital change happens as we connect and explore educational issues together.

It is my intent to speak my mind,
to be intentional as I act upon my words;
deliberate as I move through the motions .
I am a connected educator,
one of thousands across the globe.
I speak with intentionality.
A growth mindset leads me.
Positivity guides me. 
I listen and hear my colleagues
as I create alongside them,
hoping to impact teaching and learning
on a daily basis.
With intent, I move to the beat,
feeling the sparks of connectivity
letting my voice rise with the collective chorus
for the greater good of learners first!

With whom do you connect and what is your intent for moving education forward in your locale? 

Please visit Digilit Sunday hosted by Margaret Simon to read the viewpoints of other educators on the topic of intent. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Celebrate Learning to the #Lastbell

Living in the positive world of connected educators allows me to fill each day with new thinking. As a lifelong learner, I join others to continue the path to learning and to provide a fertile ground for our students to grow. Today, I celebrate the learning that I am part of as the school year winds down. 

This past week, I attended a statewide ELA Framework conference. While there I listened and learned from Chris Tovani, reflected, and then, created digital inspirations to tweet out to my colleagues across the globe. It is always motivating to hear thoughts from a national presenter that validates our thinking.

As a statewide team, the educators I worked with were able to follow up our two days of engaged learning with Chris. Through collaborative, collegial conversations, we built a resource library on Schoology for future turnkey presentations on student-centered learning. 

It is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by like-minded, positive educators who always are concerned about students. Learning is something to celebrate all year round but especially until the last bell of the school year. 

As you celebrate your school closings, post photos of active learning under the hashtag, #lastbell, a movement started by my Twitter colleague, Jennifer Hogan who is the co-founder of #ALedchat, #USedchat, and

Learning can come from all different sources. #satchat is a leader in Twitter chats. Today's chat on teachers as leaders provided me with the inspiration to synthesize my learning through a digital inspiration. 

Before leaving for the conference, I was inspired to design my garden so family and friends could enjoy the meditation and herb gardens when the weather warms up. While this was not directed instruction from educators, it allowed me to take the skills gathered from years of learning to create. 

In this stilled space, I can continue my learning as I read professional texts to broaden my knowledge bank.

How will you celebrate your learning this week 
and share it with others?

Please visit Ruth Ayres' Celebrate This Week post here to read how other educators celebrate life from a positive thinking standpoint.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Postcard Poetry

At the turn of the 20th century, "post cards" were the rage. People would write lovely short notes to each other on beautifully decorated cards and send them by post as in the example below. 

The above "Post Card" is part of my ephemera collection and speaks of the value of reading poetry. When I was teaching reading to elementary children, I would share cards like the one above with my students who delighted in reading what people "in the old days" wrote to each other. 

Since I did not know what a magpie was, I researched the bird and found out the following. Magpies are:
  • small to medium sized birds that have a long tail with black-and-white or brightly colored plumage
  • known for their chattering
  • live across the world
  • symbols of good luck and good fortune in China and Korea 

To honor the tradition of the 20th PostCard, I wrote the following poetry postcard to my Twitter friend and host of Poetry Friday, Margaret Simon.

I am happy to see that Jone MacCulloch, another Poetry Friend friend, encourages her learners at Silver Star Elementary in Vancouver, Washington to continue the tradition of sending postcards through the Poetry Postcard Project. I was delighted to receive the poetry postcard below from 4th grader Lexi V.

If you feel creative, you might enjoy creating a poetry postcard like the one I composed above for my spring gallery, Spring's Seeds. The deadline to submit a digital composition is at the end of May. You can access the invitation and information here

Please visit the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Margaret Simon's blog  here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Peaceful Prospect

Everyone needs time away from the routine to recoup and refresh. Mother's Day Weekend was my time to savor family moments and discover a peaceful prospect. 

On a dismal-looking Friday before Mother's Day, my husband, son, and I traveled to Virginia to visit my daughter and son-in-law in their new home. The rains did not cease to teem the entire ride down but that did not put a damper on the day for me. Celebrating with the family is my gratitude time no matter what the weather holds in store. 

While the rains continued to pelt and the cool temperature remained, we arrived in Reston and rode through the neighborhood until we found the new home owners' residence. With only a quick peek through the rain soaked windows we were off to my daughter's google-like office space. To say that I was in awe of the new home and work environment is an understatement. 

You can access photos of the weekend here

The second day greeted us with sunshine and pleasantries of life. The entire area was full of nature's nooks and crannies. There was greenery in abundance and long stretches of nature paths. The sounds of spring filled the air. A chipmunk hid; the birds swooped in to nibble on their findings; streams rippled on. 

Mother's Day 2016 was a memory never to be forgotten. It was my time to slow down and savor peaceful moments. 

This notice poem evolved from observation and reflection.

At Slice of Life today, Two Writing Teachers posted a mantra: Write, Share, Give. That sounds like another peaceful prospect to me. What will bring peace to your day?
Write. Share. Give.
You can access the link here. 

Monday, May 16, 2016


The time is right, I thought this morning. My garden needs refreshing. After all, it is spring or so I thought as I donned my winter jacket. A chill was in the air  but I was determined to put the plants I purchased in the ground and so the design process began. As I worked, I reflected on the topic, refresh, that Margaret Simon asked the Digilit Sunday blogging community to consider.

Since the day was spent in the endeavor of creating my meditation garden, today I am in replay mode, thinking of ways to reconnect with nature and life, even though it is still very cool outside.

On #CelebrateMonday, a Twitter site started by a colleague Sean Gaillard to accentuate the positives, I ask my readers to think about what spring offers. It is a pathway to renewing, refreshing our thoughts and actions. In springtime, we can gather, sit, and wait for inspiration and then act with positivity to finish the days strong until the summer months come upon us. 

"Spring is in the air" in our minds and hearts even though the weather here on Long Island says differently. If you travel over to one of my previous blogs, you will hear the short ditty song, Spring is in the Air, I created. The link up is here. 

So on this #CelebrateMonday, replay last week's moments to start this week off strong. 

Don't forget to link-up with Digilit Sunday here to read other blogger's thoughts on the topic, refresh. 

Perhaps you would like to see what is blooming in my virtual garden. Travel to the Twitter hashtag, #SpringsSeeds, to view the new blossoms that keep popping up for my spring online gallery, Spring's Seeds.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Celebrating Words

This week was filled with words streaming across my mind and finding a home in digital poetry. As thoughts were generated, I started uploading digital images that I recently took while visiting my daughter and son-in-law last weekend in Virginia. You can access that Celebrate This Week post here

Playing with words and creating digital inspirations are fun-filled passions for me so keeping an eye on positivity, despite the interferences along the way, is a prerequisite.

Below are some of my digital inspirations that I created during the week for my blog site

You can access the full version of this image poem at

Please visit Ruth Ayres at Celebrate This Week where the community of bloggers writes about their celebrations each week. This week, Ruth is sharing the news of an amazing raffle. You can access the site here

Are you interested in creating a digital inspiration for my upcoming spring gallery, Spring's Seeds? If so, the invitation to the challenge can be found here