The Sunshine Award or the Sunshine Elevens or one of several other versions of inspiration and encouragement for bloggers has been rapidly circulating the blogosphere. Thank you, Scott Hazeu, for nominating me. Scott has been an inspiring educator since we met a year ago, in virtual-land, via the ETMOOC (Educational Technology Massive Open Online Course) through the genius work of Alec Couros. His commitment to education, reflection, and writing is a motivator in my teaching, and he always seems to pop-up when I need a boost. Thanks for this too Scott, it’s a great blog post that I’ll use with my Creative Writing class for their blogs!
Dosia McKay – Abstract Art
Here’s how this chain letter of inspiration works:
- Acknowledge the nominating blogger & let them know when you complete your blog post.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
- List 11 bloggers.
- Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
- Hunni’s additional criteria: embed links and visuals that personalize the post
Eleven Random Facts About Me:
1. My first university degree is a theatre degree.
2. I bite my nails and it drive my husband crazy.
3. I’m an introvert (few believe this, but it is true).
4. I broke a girl’s arm in three places, in Grade 8, and the kids called me “Rocky” (I kicked her in defence, I swear)
5. I am an art and music aficionado, but suck at both, being neither an artist nor a musician!
6. I procrastinate with Facebook games (sigh) – Candy Crush, Bubble Witch, Words of Wonder, and Solitaire.
7. I have loved home architecture and home design since I was nine years old. Pinterest and HGTV continue the passion!
8. I have wanderlust to travel and experience the world!
9. My classroom is a like home and to my students I’m “mom” (I love that they feel this way about me and my class space)
10. I love being surrounded by flowers and in nature.
11. We hope to retire half-time in Argentina. (as we’ll be doing for a semester starting next month – tee hee)
Answering Scott’s Questions:
1. What do you do for escape or relaxation?
I LOVE escape and relaxation, but usually as a lazy homebody! People never believe I’m capable of it because I’m a workaholic. I guess I’m like a faucet – I can be all hot (working like a maniac), but easily switch to pure cold (totally relaxed and chill). So, what does my cool look like?
- hanging with my beautiful children and husband
- cooking and baking, especially with my hubby or kids
- dinner parties, tea parties, or BBQ with friends
- TV shows (HGTV, Coronation Street, Parenthood, Orange is the New Black – otherwise, it is tough to get my attention to watch TV well)
- beach lounging
- I hate being cold, but have enjoyed skiing and snowshoeing
2. What is one concern you have about the future of technology?
Although I’m a strong voice for the use of technology in my teaching, I don’t believe that school should just have students hiding behind computer screens. I believe that having my home and class lined with actual books is essential, that opening a book and smelling the pages will always be a value to me and I want to model this for my students. I believe that students should learn the art of cursive writing – we may type more than anything else, but a paper and pen never fails you and I pray the beauty of cursive should never die; along with the beauty of journal writing and a snail mail letter! Regarding thinking with depth and breadth, I fear students often don’t expand their thinking beyond 140 characters. Finally, I also worry that students could lose the ability to carry face-to-face conversation. We, as teachers, are the vanguards to save books, handwriting, critically thoughtful writing, and speaking with social etiquettes.
3. Share one Ah-Ha! moment you’ve had (in or out of a classroom).
My greatest “ah-ha” came from attending NCTE 2012 (National Council Teachers of English) in Chicago when I sat in an audience watching – in utter awe and humility – Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, and Jim Burke. That moment changed the trajectory of my teaching practice, my writing identity, and my blog pioneering with students! It lead to me finding the courage to present at NCTE 2013 in Boston! I am a fan-girl of those three gurus and an NCTE junkie every since. The more I experience, the better I get in the classroom! I love the growth, inspiration, and learning and I especially love meeting great teachers from across the US and Canada!
4. Which books (one fiction, one non-fiction) would you recommend to new teachers?
An Interesting Question! And I cannot control myself to ONE of each when asked such a question, silly man!
Let’s start with non-fiction that would help an English teacher: Book Love and Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle, Readicide by Kelly Gallagher, English Teacher’s Companion and What’s the Big Idea by Jim Burke, and Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. For any new teacher I’d recommend: The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer and What Great Teacher’s Do Differently by Todd Whittaker.
For personal fiction – this is hard because it is based on such a personal preference (see my Goodreads). I believe that people can connect when they have like-minded interests in books. So, my favourites of all time are Wuthering Heights, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, The Book of Negroes, The Virgin Blue, The Last Cato, The Shadow of the Wind, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Unbearable Lightness of Being, Time Traveller’s Wife, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. (okay – I’ll stop here, but I could go on and on)
Regarding the teaching of novels, I believe teachers are always seeking “to teach” lists, so I’ll share some of mine. These are the books I enjoyed teaching at various grades: Shakespeare with every grade from 6-12 – but I am a true devotee to Hamlet with Gr. 12, The Giver (Gr. 6), Diary of Anne Frank (Gr. 8), Of Mice and Men (Gr 9), Speak (Gr.9), Cry the Beloved Country (9), Forbidden City (Gr. 9), Joy Luck Club (10), The Hunger Games (Gr. 10), To Kill a Mockingbird – this one is my old friend (Gr. 10), The Kite Runner (Gr. 11), Flowers for Algernon (Gr. 11), Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Gr. 11), Cyrano de Bergerac (Gr 11), The Crucible (Gr. 11), Frankenstein (Gr. 11), Life of Pi (Gr 11), The Wizard of Earthsea (Gr. 12), Streetcar Named Desire (Gr 12), Night (Gr. 12), Handmaid’s Tale (Gr. 12), One Hundred Year’s of Solitude (Gr. 12), Things Fall Apart (Gr.12), and House of Spirits (Gr. 12).
5. What’s one of your guilty pleasures? (again one? I’ll take 4)
- books (obviously from above) and reading anything from blogs, to news, etc…
- coffee – oh, how I love thee, especially hip coffee houses with cappuccino
- red wine
- Indian food
6. If you had to change careers, what new career would you choose?
- In Kati Marton’s memoir Paris: A Love Story I felt that I was reading my other life’s calling: international diplomacy and journalism;
- Owner of a hip coffee/tea shop with a borrowing library: a meeting place for music, slam poetry, improv games, small theatre, and classes in all art forms;
- A travel writer;
- An architect or home designer.
7. When you’re not immersed in the present, do you find yourself more often looking back or looking ahead?
- ALL! I’m a hopeless muser of the past, present, and future: a dreamer and a reminiscer.
8. What is your favourite season? Why?
- Summer! Although I love my work, I hate structure, bells, routines, marking piles and to-do lists. So the freedom of summer let’s me revel in a peacefully creative state-of-being and I get to see my own family and friends. Plus, I’ve come to love camping in the mountains!
9. If I handed you $100, what would you do with it?
- I’d go out to dinner at Notable with my wonderful husband!
10. What metaphor/simile describes your writing process? (eg. My writing is like a tube of toothpaste. It flows quickly at first, but at the end it’s hard to squeeze out the last little bit and finish the tube.)
- A small boat on a river – get in and it starts to float with ripples and rapids along the way; I love that each journey is different and I always end in a different place.
11. Which Twitter hashtag would you follow if you could only follow one?
- Penny Kittle – a constant source of inspiring PD
Bloggers (some of these good people have been through this exercise, but they are worth taking a look)
Eleven Questions for Bloggers
- What do you do for escape or for relaxation?
- What film or play has captured your heart?
- What books would you recommend?
- What has been the best vacation you have ever had – specify where, when, and why?
- What’s one of your guilty pleasures?
- If you could travel to any ONE place in the world, where would you go?
- What is your life mantra, or quote, or credo?
- What is your favourite season? Why?
- What is your favourite musician/band or artist (or all)?
- Who or what inspires your writing?
- What metaphor/simile describes your writing process? (eg. My writing is like a tube of toothpaste. It flows quickly at first, but at the end it’s hard to squeeze out the last little bit and finish the tube.)?
Happy blogging in 2014! Thank you for your inspirational words and efforts.