". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April: The Downhill Slope, or Uphill All the Way?

Easter, egg, daffodils, vintage, the graphics fairy, April, May, spring
April showers bring May flowers

April showers may be falling, but teachers and students can't slow down to go puddle stomping just yet. It's state standardized testing season! The juniors at your district may be taking the SAT, and everyone's talking about prom, academic fair, concerts, and drama plays to wind up the year. Next thing we know, it'll be final exams and graduation! Where did the time go?

From my white board
During this frenetic month of April, I'm constantly reminding myself to pause and pray.

If I don't, I'll lose sight of God's care over me. I'm praying for my students to learn empathy, to do their best on their ISATs, and to learn their lines for drama. For my own kids and myself, I always ask for a good day. No matter how rushed we are in the morning, I stop the car at the stop sign on our road (our "praying spot") and my sons and I pray for God's blessing on our day.

How thankful I am for the bright spots coming our way this stressful month! Students showcase their learning, teachers celebrate improvement, and we all start counting down the weeks till the end of school. April is National Poetry Month, National Child Abuse Prevention MonthAutism Acceptance Month, Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month, and, ironically (to me at least), Stress Awareness Month. April 24 is Idaho's Day of Holocaust Remembrance, a great opportunity to learn about a very dark time in history so we can prevent its being repeated. The message couldn't be more timely.

And for the believer, Easter reminds us of God's resurrection power.

Luke 24:5-8 says, "and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 'He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.' And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest."

May we all seek the Lord this Easter season and know His power to raise the dead and save the lost.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Unpacking Idaho's 2017 Federal Programs Conference

 It's great to be back from the 2017 Federal Programs Conference in Boise! Now to unpack what I've learned. . . .

First some highlights for those of you who wonder what it's like to go to a conference like this.

  • Keynote speakers Charlotte Danielson, Luis Cruz, Diane Staehr Fenner, and of course rapper MK Asante brought inspiring messages encouraging us to be "merchants of hope," to remember that "If you make an observation, you have an obligation," and to keep doing the work that makes such a difference in the lives of our neediest students. 

    Amy with the great Charlotte Danielson
  • Breakout sessions deepened our understanding of topics under the Federal Progams umbrella (and at this conference, special education). I learned about reaching English Learners, using multicultural literature for inclusion, leveraging score changes in WIDA Access 2.0, apps that support student accessibility, and Socratic Discussions with my friends Wendi and Kim from the Idaho Coaching Network.

  • I presented Choose Your Own Adventure: Writing and Publishing Narratives Using Digital Technology to a great bunch of teachers. Want the slideshow? It's yours! Go to https://goo.gl/c49wS5. The hostess at my session gave me a goody bag with The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore inside. Can't wait to read it!

Amy's presenter badge
  • I got to catch up with some of the great folks from CSI who put on the P20 Educator Conference last summer. They're gearing up for this July, and I'll be presenting Choose Your Own Adventure and Faith and the Public School Teacher there again this year.

  • Came home loaded up with freebies like animal-photo posters from Discovery Education, a coloring book for my daughter, and oodles of books from Stan Steiner's session, "What's New in Multicultural Children's Literature." More on that session another time!

Multicultural literature
  • I got to explore Boise and meet new people. Networking is a huge part of why we go to conferences at all, and I try to take advantage of the chance to get help with issues I'm facing in the classroom, school, or in my district as a whole. (Okay, in my small community, the school and the district are one and the same. But you get what I'm saying).

View from the parking garage near the Boise Centre

What I'd like to see at next year's conference? A session called "Federal Programs 101." After all, some of us (me) are newbies to Fed Programs, and we need to know how to prepare for an audit, manage input from staff members, and make sure our school is doing the best it can to meet the needs of all learners.

More from the conference soon, but in the meantime, what do you think new Federal Programs Directors need to know about their job? Leave comments below! We newbies thank you!

Further Reading:
From eSchool News: 5 technologies to avoid in the classroom-and what to use instead
What Happened When I Interviewed Hip-Hop Artist MK Asante (And a Truck With a Confederate Flag Drove By)
From Dayspring.com: What's in Your Easter Basket?