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professornana
30 April 2016 @ 02:07 pm
Though there are still a few more hours of reading available today, I think I will go ahead and share my list. I can always count any other book for May, right?

APRIL 2016 BOOKS READ

243. DARE TO DISAPPOINT: GROWING UP IN TURKEY
244. BUG IN A VACUUM
245. MAX THE BRAVE
246. DON’T TOUCH THIS BOOK
247. DON’T PUSH THE BUTTON
248. DRAGONS LOVE TACOS
249. THE SECRET LIFE OF SQUIRRELS
250. FRANKENCRAYON
251. CLICK, CLACK, PEEP
252. HIGHLY ILLOGICAL BEHAVIOR
253. LILY AND DUNKIN
254. BABYMOUSE GOES FOR THE GOLD
255. THIS PLANE
256. NIGHT OWL
257. DIGGER MAN
258. I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE
259. TRACTOR MAC: FARM DAYS
260. BEFORE I LEAVE
261. BUNNY DREAMS
262. ROY’S HOUSE
263. GOOD NIGHT, TRUCK
264. SHAPE SHIFT
265. IT’S NOT EASY BEING NUMBER THREE
266. GO, LITTLE GREEN TRUCK
267. BLACK? WHITE! DAY? NIGHT!
268. WALTER WAS WORRIED
269. ONE BOY
270. LEMONS ARE NOT RED
271. CLICK
272. I LOVE DAD
273. HAVE A LOOK, SAYS BOOK
274. JACK’S WORRY
275. WHERE’S THE PARTY?
276. ONE HUNDRED BONES
277. VERY LITTLE SLEEPING BEAUTY
278. STOP FOLLOWING ME, MOON
279. BATHTIME WITH THEO AND BEAU
280. CAT NAP
281. PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT HATCHING
292. THE GIRL WITH THE PARROT ON HER HEAD
293. SWEATER WEATHER
294. SHRUNKEN TREASURES
295. AMERICAN ACE
296. SALT TO THE SEA
297. GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES
298. THE WILD ROBOT
299. THE LENDING ZOO
300. THE CHAMELEON THAT SAVED NOAH’S ARK
301. GOOD NIGHT OWL
302. APOLLO THE BRILLIANT ONE
303. LOVING VS. VIRGINIA
304. STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
305. THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER
306. I’LL WAIT MR. PANDA
307. PLEASE SAY PLEASE
308. PAINTING PEPETTE
309. THE HATERS
310. HEARTLESS
311. THERE’S A GIRAFFE IN MY SOUP
312. SWATCH: THE GIRL WHO LOVED COLORS
313. MIGHTY TRUCK
314. I LOVE YOU ALREADY!
315. LITTLE SLEEPYHEAD
316. BEARD BOY
317. PLAYTIME?
318. OOPS POUNCE QUICK RUN
319. MY HOUSE
320. WORM LOVES WORM
321. THE DEAD BIRD
322. RAIN FISH
323. BEAR AND HARE: WHERE’S HARE?
324. WHEN SPRING COMES
325. WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS A HUSH AND A SHUSH
326. AMELIA BEDELIA BY THE YARD
327. ECHO ECHO
328. FROM WOLF TO WOOF
329. CHIMPANZEES FOR TEA
330. SAM AND THE CONSTRUCTION SITE
331. LET’S SALSA
332. LUPITA’S FIRST DANCE
333. THE CUYCUY STOLE MY CASCARONES
334. USE YOUR IMAGINATION (BUT BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR)
335. THE WONDER
336. COME AND DANCE WICKED WITCH
337. WHEN THE WIND BLEW
338. GRANDAD’S ISLAND
339. EVA AND SADIE AND THE BEST CLASSROOM EVER
340. I DON’T LIKE SNAKES
341. COMING HOME
342. DAYTIME NIGHTTIME
343. BLIZZARD
344. SURPRISE IN THE MEADOW
345. CAPTAIN JACK AND THE PIRATES
346. TIPTOE TAPIRS
347. WHAT IN THE WORLD?
348. ONE DAY
349. GO TO SLEEP, MONSTER
350. I WANT A MONSTER
351. NINE TEN
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Current Location: home
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
professornana
29 April 2016 @ 09:09 am
School Library Journal reported the latest statistics on school library budgets here: http://www.slj.com/2016/04/budgets-funding/school-library-budgets-rise-20-yet-challenges-remain-spending-survey-2016/#_. I was stopped cold here: "On average, school library annual budgets climbed nearly 20 percent for the 2015–16 school year, to $8,315. That’s up from $6,970 in 2013–14. The median, too, reflected almost a 20 percent bump: $5,380 for the 2015–16 school year, up from $4,500 two years prior."

Median spending for school libraries was a little over $5K. I look at this figure and shake my head. I have been known to spend several thousand dollars each year on books. I spent more than $500 during my last visit to Vroman's to buy some books to leave behind in a district where I was speaking. How can school libraries manage to update collections, to meet the needs and interests of their readers, to ensure diversity if they are severely limited with budgets like this?

It is not bad enough that school librarians are an endangered species in some places, now we are endangering the lives of the collections as well? This is a crime. The punishment? Well, the folks who get punished here are the kids. There will not be new books, books that might serve as windows and mirrors and doors, books that contain current information, books that support their needs and interests and preferences as readers. I wonder if there is some correlation between the relatively flat spending in school libraries and the relative flatness of test scores? We KNOW that already from the work done by Lance et al. Maybe someone needs to remind those in charge of budgets that this does exist?

Take a look at the terrific infographic included in the SLK report:



I guess it is time to do some bake sales for the library budget.
 
 
Current Location: home
Current Mood: miffed
 
 
professornana
28 April 2016 @ 09:05 am
I was reading an article by Will Richardson this morning about the elephants in the classroom (http://willrichardson.com/9-elephants-classroom-unsettle-us/) and ran across this thought from Seymour Papert that talks about "intuitive, empathic, common sense knowledge about learning." I know that in my teaching I do rely on intuition and empathy and common sense as well as the pedagogical base. I think that teaching requires both cognitive and affective, both theory and practice, both thought and feeling.

So, why the title of this post? It is sort of a blending of random thoughts. As I read the Richardson article, I kept thinking about how some would have us teach reading in such a way as to create un-readers. Lately, I have seen renewed call for phonics instruction (not that it ever went away, mind you) based on a very small study of adults in the field of neuroscience. I see piece after piece about teaching the CCSS. And I see pieces about dissecting text. Most often, I see articles about testing. I wonder how any of this leads to anything other than un-reading.


Perhaps a better term for un-reading might be school reading. Kids do read at school, but it is not the reading they will do as lifelong readers, lifelong learners. I read. A LOT. and I do not take tests over my reading. I do not create dioramas about the books I read. I do not write book reports. I am not unlike other adult readers here. Instead, my fellow readers and I share books, talk about books.

Yesterday, Karin Perry and I sat in our conference room after lunch and read a stack of picture books. We swapped titles. She would read one and pass it to me and vice versa. When we were done, we placed some on the whiteboard edge and displayed others on the book table (yes, we keep a small table in our conference room for displaying books. Recently, the display has focused on #wndb). The other department members will grab books when they need a break, read the books, and then we float them onto the giving away cart in our hallway. Students come and take books for their future classroom libraries. We also have some other department faculty who come by to pick up books as well. This, I will argue, is reading.

I know this piece has meandered (so, what else is new you might ask?). I am still turning this idea of un-reading over in my brain. I want to liken it to the un-writing I did for my dissertation, that 3rd person void of voice writing. Yes, it was writing, but it did not have heart and soul in it. It was without voice, without life, without passion. Now when I write, there is voice and life and passion. Ditto reading, I think. There is the souls, lifeless, passionless reading I can recall from some of my school days. And then there is the reading I was doing outside of school. Yes, I became a lifelong reader. I would argue, though, that I am still a reader because I found reading outside of school pleasurable and meaningful; it fed my mind and my heart and my soul.

I worry, though, about those kids who do not have this sort of counterbalance, this outside of school opportunity to become lost in a book.
 
 
Current Location: home
Current Mood: pondering
 
 
professornana
27 April 2016 @ 03:52 pm
Sat in a workshop today given by one of my colleagues at the university. New learning: more internet devices than people exist; IPv6 protocol allows us to assign an IP address to every grain of sand on earth. How does this affect communication and networking? How many electronic devices do we have in our homes?

Metadata is a love note to the future.

As a counterpoint, a recent newsletter from one of my professional organizations was touting the use of text sets, AKA thematic units, AKA (BSP) reading ladders. So, on one hand I am learning about how much more I can do with social media and then I am dragged back to the Rip Van Winkle world of education.

Yet, I know both ends of this spectrum are essential. I am not the person who says that books will become obsolete and that libraries should all be composed of eBooks and online resources. But neither am I a luddite who insists on the actual physical book. I feel comfortable with a foot in both worlds. Rather than the road less travelled, I want the opportunity to explore both roads, to circle back to the fork and take one road and then the other and then perhaps circle back and do it all over again. It is to so much that the roads will change (though they do as anyone who has lived in one place for any length of time can attest), but I change. I change with each step I take down one road. I change with each book I read. I change with each web site I visit. And for someone who hates change, I seem to do a lot of it.

I wonder about our kids and how they feel and where they would situate themselves? How do they feel about changing roads and changing selves?
 
 
Current Location: campus
Current Mood: wondering
 
 
professornana
26 April 2016 @ 01:37 pm
"But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing." Philip Pullman

Here is the link to the entire speech by Pullman: https://astridlindgrenmemorialaward.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/children-need-art-and-stories-and-poems-and-music-as-much-as-they-need-love-and-food-and-fresh-air-and-play/.

The title is almost ironic as many schools now have cut back and/or eliminated recess for kids during the annual testing torture. Pullman calls this narrowing of focus away from arts and solely on STEM or only on math and ELA as they are tested "cultural starvation." I concur. Last week I told a friend that Prince had died. The response, Prince who? This weekend I played the SNL tribute of Prince. At first my BH was not paying much attention. But as song after song played, he put down his book, watched the video, and even spoke about how much he had underestimated the man and his music. His mind was fed. So was his soul. I have walked around for days now with snippets of Prince songs running through my brain.

Imagine not having access to music and art and stories. In some places, this is not just a dystopian dream, it is reality. Libraries are closing. Funds for books are cut drastically. Today, I put books out on our FREE BOOKS cart in the hall. There are several students who know to come by weekly to troll the shelves. They were thrilled today to find picture books, chapter books, and YA books. Those shelves are much lighter than they were this morning. These are future teachers, and I am thrilled that these books will make their way into classrooms soon. These kids' minds and hearts and sould will be fed. As Pullman concludes: "We say, correctly, that every child has a right to food and shelter, to education, to medical treatment, and so on. We must understand that every child has a right to the experience of culture. We must fully understand that without stories and poems and pictures and music, children will starve."
 
 
Current Location: home
Current Mood: hungryhungry
 
 
professornana
25 April 2016 @ 11:56 am
Yesterday I referred to an article in Ed Week by Charlotte Danielson which indicated that as many as 6% of our teachers are "bad." Imagine my surprise today when I saw an op-ed piece in HuffPost asking who in the world this person is: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/who-is-charlotte-danielso_b_3415034.html. And here we go again. Someone (Danielson) is speaking as an expert, and yet we do not seem to know her credentials as an educator. Yet, there are schools across the country using her company's rubric for evaluating teachers. She is, obviously, skilled as a marketer.

"Unfortunately, nobody, not the Times, the New York State Education Department, the New York City Department of Education, nor the teachers’ union have demonstrated any positive correlation between teacher assessments based on the Danielson rubrics, good teaching, and the implementation of new higher academic standards for students under Common Core."


Sigh. You can look at the web site for this company: http://www.danielsongroup.org/framework/. Most of this looks like what I learned in my ed prep program more than 40 years ago. I will admit that I was not a pro in all of these areas until I actually had my own classroom and some elbow room to be autonomous. Many of the same pieces of the rubric were part of the appraisal system used to evaluate my teaching (and still are components at the university level). But I still am having trouble wrapping my head around measurement. I would love to see much more detail.

For instance, one of the domains talks about using assessment in instruction. What does assessment look like? In my online classroom, assessment occurs when students complete an assignment. That assignment asks them to apply their learning to something new (I hope that makes sense). Assessment NEVER looks like a test in my classes. It never will. So, would I pass this aspect? What outcomes are acceptable? How is managing behavior measured? I have more and more questions the more I read.

And, of course, I am obsessed with assessment right now because this is the time each semester when my students evaluate me using an online form. It is one that is not used by any other LS program anywhere, and yet somehow it is supposed to be an effective measure of my teaching. I received notice today that less than 30% of my students have completed the form. I hate to let the folks in charge know, but this is the end of the semester, and my students are trying to finish up their final assignments. They might or might not get around to the form. It is not a priority for them. It only becomes a priority when they see what their final grade appears to be. Correlation, I wonder?

I learn more about my teaching and my student learning from their own work. Sometimes, it becomes apparent to me that I have not made something abundantly clear. And sometimes it becomes apparent that sometimes I need to tweak or change or delete or add. Does this make me a "bad" teacher for not making something totally clear or a "good" teacher for being aware that there is a problem? I guess it depends on whose rubric we use.

Here is my favorite number for today, though. I have read 7 picture books so far. 7 X 32 = 224 pages! This is a number I can be pleased with, happy about. Maybe it is time to bmp up that number and take another picture book break?
 
 
Current Location: office
Current Mood: puzzled
 
 
professornana
24 April 2016 @ 04:10 pm
Last week a lot of rain fell in Houston and surrounding areas. The good news is that BH and I live in a lakeside subdivision, so the rain has a wonderful place to run off. The bad news is for the folks who live downstream once the lake waters pour into a local river. More bad news: water inside schools and school libraries. It was impossible to know, however, to gauge exactly how much rainfall there was. Reports varied from place to place and even from channel to channel. The folks setting up the TLA conference in downtown Houston called it a "little rain" and later had to backpedal a tad to warn people coming in to the conference to watch the weather carefully and make safe decisions. The good news? Many made it in to the conference albeit with some travel delays.

But in education, numbers is a more serious game than rainfall. A recent Ed Week article estimated the percentage of bad teachers at 6% (http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp;jsessionid=BBE6533001FEEDC696E42C592105EEDB.santino2?rssid=25919961&item=http%3a%2f%2fapi.edweek.org%2fv1%2few%2f%3fuuid%3d0D79A9D0-0274-11E6-853F-71C9B3743667&cmp=eml-enl-eu-news2-RM&cid=25919971&bcid=25919971&intc=mob-topnav). I am not certain how we even begin to measure something like this. And I thin it is rather important we ask these questions if we are to understand how to move forward from identifying bad teachers to assisting them. But I hate that we scatter numbers around sometimes without knowing what those numbers even mean.

One of my favorite sites shows how numbers can be used in absolutely meaningless ways. For instance, look at this correlation:



Or maybe this correlation:



These are, obviously, hilarious looks at how correlational data can be misconstrued. Unfortunately, I see similar correlational data used in education. And each time I do, I remember this sentence from my stat classes: correlation does not equal causation. We can show lots of correlations but we need to know sometimes the underlying causation. For instance, many packaged programs that claim to increase test scores show data that appears to confirm their claims. One of my favorite offenders here are the programs that make kids take quizzes over books. They claim it increases test scores. However, if you look a bit more closely at the program, there are other components involved. They include, in some instances, choice, time to read, a reading climate at the school, and more. Those factors are, by and large, what is driving the test scores. We have the research that shows more than correlations. But the companies producing these programs ignore those other components and make claims that it is the program driving the scores.

Of course, some of these programs had exhibit booths at the TLA conference (see how I circled back here). But I left TLA Friday morning to head north to the North Texas Teen Book Festival. Thousands of kids came Saturday to listen to more than 60 different authors. They stood in lines waiting for autographed books (and they bought a ton of books). Karin Perry and I heard screaming as we approached the autographing area. We were convinced someone was being trampled. However, the scream was coming from a girl who came skipping out of the autographing area holding two books above her head and screaming, "I got them signed. Oh em Gee! I got to get them signed." This scene repeated itself over and over again. A young man walked up to Gordon Korman while we were chatting and shook his hand and reminded Gordon that he had waited last year to get his autograph and that THIS year he would wait to get James Dashner's signature. I saw kids hand Sharpies to authors so they could get their shirts signed.

So, here is some data for you. Thousands of kids. Tens of thousands of books. Seventy-five authors. A Saturday. Buses from hundreds of miles away. No correlations needed. I know the cause for these numbers: kids love books, kids love meeting the authors, educators love kids and authors and books enough to take time on Saturday to chaperone the field trip. Finally, he planning/program committee knows the power of putting books and kids and authors together. No one in attendance could doubt what the numbers were saying loud and clear.
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Current Location: Irving
Current Mood: moved
 
 
professornana
23 April 2016 @ 07:28 pm
So, I touched a raw nerve with yesterday's post about folks grabbing books at TLA. Theresa the usual blowback. So people suggested I focus on the positive. I am absolutely POSITIVE that taking more than one book without the express permission of the publisher still deprives others from getting even one book. I am absolutely POSITIVE that the ARCs are not free but publishers produce them so we can see what is forthcoming and, hopefully, generate some good press for the books. I am absolutely POSITIVE that wheeled carts for the express purpose of carrying off more swag is wrong.

I was not the only one who witnessed this. Here is a report from someone helping out with conference activities, "You should've seen librarians taking free books for autographs and then ducking out getting in another line and going again without ever going through the line for the autograph."

And this from someone in publishing, "It's like this at all educational conferences and disconcerting, indeed. Always hopeful the ARCs will be read and shared."

And this from another librarian, " I get SO mad when people just swoop and grab. They don't even look to see if it would be fit for their campus."

There were others who affirmed what I saw, but I have seen it at many conferences as well. It is inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse, either. If you want multiple copies, ask. If you are looking for some swag to give to your book groups, ask. If you want to hand an ARC to a colleague, ask.

Quit making excuses for behaviors you would correct in others.
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Current Location: Irving
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
 
 
professornana
22 April 2016 @ 07:31 pm
You have been warned. Once again, the time has come for me to play Mean Conference Attendee and chastise so-called "professionals" for their incredibly poor behavior. I spent last week at the TLA Conference in Houston. I had a wonderful time and had the chance to visit with old friends, meet new authors, and even share dinner with some students and alumni. I loved every single minute of that. Karin Perry and I toured exhibits and shot some video at booths which we will piece together into a virtual tour of exhibits at TLA. Today, we drove from Houston to Irving for the second conference, the North Texas Teen Book Festival. Karin and Rose Borck and I moderated panels on topics of diversity, censorship, and labeling. We had about 200 educators come over for the afternoon. Despite our exhaustion, we pulled lots of energy from the audience and from the authors: Alex Gino, C A London, Holly Black, Julie Murphy, Kathi Appelt, Nathan Hale, Cindy Pon, Karen Blumenthal, Varian Johnson, Jonathan Maberry, Christina Diaz Gonzales, and Marie Lu.

HOWEVER...you knew there had to be a BUT somewhere, right?

At TLA, we spied some terrible behavior. I see it every single time I attend a conference, but it is even more apparent when I am working the exhibit booth for our department. Wheeled carts (which, BTW, are prohibited on the floor of the Exhibit Hall) crammed full of ARCs passed by. Others had multiple bags laden with same. In said cart and bags were multiple copies of ARCs. Some of these professionals feel it is acceptable to swoop in, grab all they can, and move on to the next stack. There are three things that trouble me about this practice.

#1: It is not professional. In fact, it is downright rude. ARCs are the very generous gift of the publishers. They are there to help promote the new books. But some folks seem to feel as if these are free and do not cost the publishers a penny. They feel it is appropriate to take as much as they can grab. They are very much wrong. ARCs cost money to produce, people. They are put out as a courtesy. One per customer, please.

#2: Many were simply grabbing books without any regard to whether or not the book would be appropriate for their patrons. About the only question I heard was, "is there language in it?" My usual response to this is to quip, that, "yes, there is language. The book is written in English and has lots of words in it." Grabbing books without taking note of intended audience is one more sign that this is greed at work.

#3: When someone grabs more than 1 book, that means others will get ZERO books.

I also want to believe that not of there ARCs will end up in circulation or, worse, on eBay. I want to believe they will all be read by the people scooping them up. I brought home 6 ARCs. I can assure you I will read every single one of them. I did not take an ARC I did not think would be one i could read and then add to my lists of good books to recommend to educators.

If you were one of the "greedy grabbers," I hope you will reconsider your actions. There is no excuse for this behavior. NONE. I even saw a few people duck under tables looking for anything that might be hidden if the booth was empty at the time. I walked up to one person I saw doing this and asked if I could assist them in finding something. They had the good sense to look a bit guilty.

I know budgets are tight. I know we all want to go back with good books to read. All I ask is that we show some consideration. Take what you can read. Take what is appropriate. And finally, FLOAT THE BOOKS TO NEW READERS. I have a pile of bags and boxes at hoe that are waiting for that floating on. I will be carrying them to PD sessions where I have the option of driving with a car dangerously full of books.

TAKEONE. READ ONE. SHARE ONE.
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Current Location: Irving
Current Mood: relievedrelieved
 
 
professornana
21 April 2016 @ 05:45 pm
Even though TLA conference week is crazy busy, I still find time to follow some of the links in my Twitter feed. This one (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2016/04/common_core_curricula_teacher_materials.html?cmp=soc-edit-tw) from Education Week was a blog posting about where teachers fun the materials they were using for CCSS. Curious minds want to know. I want to know.

So, here is the information about ELA resources for CCSS.



It is heartening to see 90%+ of teachers surveyed using materials they developed themselves. What was disheartening, though, was how many programs were sources for CCSS including Accelerated Reader (how does a quiz program meets any of the standards, I wonder, unless it is a standard about reading for trivialized details?). The other disheartening fact: while 90%+ of elementary teachers use trade books only about 50% of secondary teachers use trade books. Honestly, I want to weep when I see that kind od drop off in using real books. How can kids become LIFE ready if they do not read REAL books?

Here is another chart from the article showing online resources consulted for materials for CCSS.



IMHO, the sites that should be ranked near the top are NCTE (our professional organization) and Read.Write.Think. Instead Pinterest is near the top as is Teachers Paying Teachers. Pinterest? Really? I suggest reading Donalyn Miller's piece from the Texas Library Journal called INTEREST ISN'T PEDAGOGY: http://www.txla.org/pinterest-isnt-pedagogy.

For the life of me, I fail to understand teachers who are not active professionally, who do to read professional journals, who do not take advantage of the information offered by professional organizations. Yes, yes, I know that the cost of being professional is considered by some to be a good reason NOT to be active professionally. But many organizations offer discounts for students. Many organizations are making parts of their publications available online. Check out the ALAN materials: http://www.alan-ya.org/publications/the-alan-review/the-alan-review-columns/.

After a day of conference during which I filled a bag with ARCS, met new authors, hugged former and current students, and walked 3 miles looking at all that was available to read, I know that the cost of membership and registration is totally worth it. I cannot imagine what I would miss were it not for my professional ties. There are many who look at what I do and think, that looks easy. I know my own former residents of the back room thought my job was easy at the university. People who attend my sessions always tell me they want my job. If I make it look easy, I have accomplished much. But I can tell you that making something look easy requires a LOT of preparation.

When I watch the cooking shows, I am always a bit amazed at the 15 minute meals. And then I look critically and think--hey, who shredded the cheese, who cut the veggies you threw into the pan, who remembered to defrost the meat, what happened when you THOUGHT you had a jar of sauce and discovered someone had used it already? Those questions reflect the reality and are not included in the 15 minutes the meal took to prepare.


And so it is with my job. Students are already clamoring for information about summer classes. I have posted reading lists. I have the other materials all ready to launch soon online. My panel moderator duties for tomorrow and Saturday have been completed and stored to my Google drive. Prepare for my presentations and, like my pals Karin Perry and Donalyn Miller, now tweak slides incessantly and obsessively. When it is all prepared, it should look easy; it should be fun. But behind the scenes, the work is a bit tougher. And much more rewarding because of that.
 
 
Current Location: downtown Houston TLA
Current Mood: preparing