Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Lighter Side: Sunshine Award

During the past few weeks I have been nominated for a Sunshine Award by bloggers I admire greatly.  However, the busyness of the Christmas season has left me little time to read, write, or respond to posts.  Today is the first time I've had to sit down to catch up.  (Truth statement:  this took a few days to write.)  The Sunshine Award seemed like the perfect way to get back in the groove.

Here is a description for the Sunshine Award shared by Matt Renwick:
The Sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger and then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know!

and the rules:
  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

Let's start with 11 random facts about me:
  • Fantasy sports are my new obsession.  
  • I am addicted to foofoo coffee.  If Starbucks wasn't so expensive I'd be there everyday for a marble mocha.  
  • Saturdays are my favorite days because I wake up early to read and write.  It is the one chunk of time I feel like I own.  (I guess it's the one chunk of time I've always owned....let's hear it for Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s.)  
  • I'm an advocate for public education.  I believe strongly in the power of public schools, when fairly/adequately funded and not bogged down by standardized testing, to be a positive place for learning.  I'm grateful to be working in a public school district that proves this daily by putting children first, trying to maintain balance in directives sent from state/federal officials who know little about teaching children, and working to create innovative learning environments.  
  • I love poetry.  Some of my favorite poets include Billy Collins, Ted Kooser, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes.  I love when iTunes has a collection of audio poetry read by the poet.  
  • I guess you could say I am part of teaching family.  I am married to a teacher.  Jeff teaches 8th grade Language Arts.  My oldest daughter is now a teacher and teaches 8th grade Language Arts too.  My son is at The Ohio State University working toward is education degree in primary education.  (My youngest daughter is adamant she will major in business.)  My youngest brother teaches high school math, my brother-in-law teaches middle school science, and my other brother is a superintendent.  Family dinners are quite exciting.  
  • When spring arrives you will find me out in my flowerbeds working to prepare for the upcoming perennials and determining arrangements for the annuals I will sprinkle throughout.  
  • Right now there is snow on my patio, but it is my favorite place to be as soon as the weather starts to warm up. 
  • I spend too much time on Twitter.  I learn so much from the people who spend time sharing, collaborating, and asking thoughtful questions.  I find most of the books I plan to read by paying attention to the recommendations of the book lovers I follow.  
  • If I had the money, I would spend weekends traveling from city to city.  I enjoy checking out restaurants in cities, visiting museums, hearing about the history and getting a sense for the culture of an area.  
  • I miss my time with genealogy.  Several years ago I began researching my family history with the goal of finding all of my great great great grandparents.  I managed to accomplish this task and enjoyed the work so much that I began working on our family history.  Unfortunately, time in so many other things has taken me away from this work and I'd love to get back to it.  

Here are my answers to questions from the nominating blogs of , Matt RenwickJulie BalenRose CappelliFranki SibbersonRhonda Deighton, and Maureen Devlin.  I'm cheating a bit and picking from all of their pages.

1.  What songs/bands are on your favorite playlist right now?  (Matt)

I'm not very good at picking favorites as I like so many different artists and genres.  My iPod is full of a variety of genres of music by many different bands and artists.  Putting it on random shuffle is always worth a laugh or two.  However, I must admit to enjoying top 40 music.  Right now I'm loving listening to Royals by Pure Heroine, Let Her Go by Passenger, I Love It by Icona Pop, Counting Stars by One Republic.  My favorite bands/artists include:  Fun, Imagine Dragons, Adele, The Script.    

2.  Who are your favorite authors?  (Rose)

I probably read more nonfiction and poetry than most readers.  When I do read fiction I tend to read the books everyone is talking about.  My favorite adult fiction authors would include:  Amy Tan, Jodi Picoult, and Mitch Albom.  You know I have to also mention my favorite children's authors:  Kevin Henkes, Lester Laminack, Cynthia Rylant, Eve Bunting, Mem Fox, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Todd Parr, and Oliver Jeffers.  You can read more about my favorite children's authors here and here.  

3.  What makes you laugh?  (Julie)

I love to laugh and I really don't do enough of it.  I enjoy going to comedy clubs, listening to comedians on my iPod, and watching really hilarious movies.  The funniest movies every??  Austin Powers, Anchorman, Bridesmaids, Meet the Fockers, You Me and Dupree.

4.  What is the best thing that happened to you this week?  (Franki)

Dinner at the Mad Mex and a movie, Anchorman II, with the hubby.

5.  Which 2-5 professional books were the most influential in molding you as a teacher? Explain. (Rhonda)

The first book was In the Middle by Nancie Atwell.  At the time, I was teaching sixth grade.  This book changed the way I thought about ownership in the classroom and helped me to see ways to make student learning authentic and purposeful.  The second book was Guided Reading by Fountas and Pinnell.  At this point, I had moved from sixth to first grade and really needed some help teaching emergent readers.  Other major professional reads:  Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller, Opening Minds by Peter Johnston, and Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks.

6.  What is your greatest professional challenge at this time?  (Maureen)

Balancing the collection of data from assessment with the forward movement of instruction.

7.  Apple or Microsoft?  (Matt)

Apple!  I suppose it started in my college years when we were learning to work with Macs.  Yes, the old Apple IICs.  Later we owned several Windows based computers, but dealt with so many problems often a result of virus protection/corruption. We began slowly moving back toward being an Apple based household.  I love the way my Apple devices work together and easily allow sharing.  They're a bit more user friendly.  I'm thankful to work in an Apple school where students easily move from device to device.  Apple systems are perfect for creating and sharing with others...and you just can't beat Apple's customer service.  

8.  What is the one skill you bring to a collaborative group that helps the group succeed?  (Maureen)

I'm able to synthesize the thoughts of others and put them together in a plan that moves us forward.  

9.  List three high points of 2013.  (Julie)

Choice Literacy retreat, #nerdcamp2013 (and #carpd), and a trip to Cincinnati.

10.  Is your favorite meal breakfast, lunch or dinner?  Why?  (Franki)

Lunch.  It's middle of the road.  It can be breakfasty, more like dinner, or light and refreshing.  There are so many different choices for lunch.  It can be hot or cold.  It's also usually a little lighter.  If you go out for lunch, you can usually find a lunch menu full of interesting combinations and reduced pricing.

11.  You are writing. Describe the scene.  Where do you write? Paper and pen, journal, notebook, or computer? Music or quiet? Office, den, living room? Desk or couch? (Rhonda)

If it's summer I am sitting on my patio with my computer most likely.  It has to be quiet so I get up earlier than everyone else to sneak a little time before the day begins at our house.  If it is winter, I'm probably on my couch sitting by my patio doors wishing it was warm enough to be outside.  At times, you will find me with my notebook and a purple pen with a medium tip or my NoteShelf app open.

Bonus Question:  If I wasn't an educator I would... (Matt)  

I really can't imagine doing anything else.  I'm glad I chose a profession that makes me happy.  It's much easier to get up every morning when you like what you are doing.  However, if I didn't teach I'd spend my time writing.  I enjoy writing.  If I had enough money that it wasn't necessary to work or if I had all the time needed to play and learn, I would love to dabble in writing children's books or poetry.

11 Questions

  1. When you look out the window or door of your house, what do you see?  (What's your favorite view?)
  2. Ocean or mountains?
  3. What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
  4. What is the best book you read in 2013?
  5. Who is your favorite book character?  Why?
  6. What is the one thing you wish you could have someone else to do for you?
  7. What inspires you?
  8. What do you make time for?
  9. If you could spend a month on any continent with your expenses paid, where would you go?  Why?
  10. What are your favorite games to play?
  11. If you could make one change in the world, what would you want to change?  
11 Invitations to Participate
I think this meme has been going for weeks and many blogs have been mentioned.  I'm going to share 11 bloggers who I wish posted more often or are just getting started that I look forward to following.  No pressure intended to blog more or to participate in this (this post takes a long time to write); just a shout-out to tell you I enjoy reading your writing.
  1. Tonya Buelow:  Learning, Growing, and Reflector Educator
  2. Nicole Kessler:  The Life of a Teacher;  Random Thoughts and Reflections 
  3. Valerie Ruckes:  The Sensibly Savvy Teacher
  4. Jacki Prati:  Teacher at Heart
  5. Katie Muhtaris:  Coffee Filled Musings
  6. Jackie Haworth:  Family Trove
  7. Kassia Owedekind:  Math Exchanges
  8. Kathleen Gillis:  Gillis and Her Big Mouth
  9. Cathryn Petticrew:  Principal Reflections
  10. Karen Szymusiak:  Talkworthy
  11. Katie DiCesare:  Creative Literacy


  1. It was so much fun to read your 11 random facts and the answers to our collective questions. Saturdays have to be my favourite days as well for much the same reason. I enjoyed reading about your family of teachers. We’ve quite a few as well (mostly my nieces and nephews and I) and it certainly does make family gatherings interesting. How wonderful to have the skill/aptitude you express in your answer to question number 8. I believe that this is a leadership quality that is crucial to the success of a team and yet it is somehow understated, right? Thanks for a juicy read!

  2. Wow! I learned a whole bunch of new things about you. :) And, now I have some new blogs to explore (and new songs and new poets). I am always learning from you. Happy New Year!

  3. Fun stuff. I know you love to laugh (and I love your laugh), but I never would have picked you for so much comedy! And yes, this post takes a long time to write. While I was writing mine, I got nominated two more times.

  4. I enjoyed reading your answers!