Playing with Fonts & Lettering

I found my next creative project. On a errand to purchase a new sketchbook since my last one is filled, I stumbled across the book, Creative Lettering: Techniques & Tips from Top Artists by Jenny Doh. This book is a vision of beauty and inspiration. So much can be communicated via text done creatively. Hence, my new creative project. I want to up my text representation skills through creative lettering. Armed with a new sketchbook and inspiration, these are my first two creations. One was inspired by the amazing Brad Montague keynote at #CUE16 in the words of Kid President, "Be More Awesome."
The second is just a chance to play with framing words. I look forward to playing with more fonts and lettering as I fill my new sketchbook.

Mindfulness Practices for Self-Care

Day 5 of #AprilBlogaDay asks "How do you pace yourself throughout the week? What rituals of self-care do you have that make the school year a little easier to manage?" Reflecting on this prompt, rituals did not immediately come to mind. Then, I found this article, "The Biology of Positive Habits" that describes how our brains are predisposed evolutionary with a "negativity bias."1 Those in education recognize the neuroplasticity of the brain in our daily work with students. The authors maintain that by approaching our work with mindfulness, we can train our brains towards positivity and suggests 5 Mindfulness Exercises.

5 Mindfulness Practices Sketchnote

Previously, I described my sketchnoting as a mindfulness practice. But it's not a ritual for me. Three of my last five daily blog posts have contained a sketchnote and the process reminds me how the practice provides focus and calm in the midst of daily stressors. As I think about the other five recommendations, there is much room for improvement in incorporating daily exercise as a form of self-care. There is definitely a need to develop more rituals for self-care and during this process, I need to remember #5. Creating new habits take time. Be kind to myself and keep going.

1"The Biology of Positive Habits | Harvard Graduate School of ..." 2016. 5 Apr. 2016 <>

Approaches to Teaching Reading

3 Fresh Approaches to Teaching Reading sketchnote
Today I came across the article, "3 Fresh Approaches to Teaching Reading," by Doug Lemov published on Lemov presents Independent Reading, Students Reading Aloud, and Reading Aloud to Students as the three approaches. He describes the benefits of each approach and outlines limitations of each approach in isolation.  In the end, Lemov suggests the importance of balance. Each approach offers a critical component to students development as readers and the full benefit is only achieved with a strategic and thoughtful balanced blend of each.

The use of fresh in the title is both sad and hopeful. It's sad because when I began my teaching career this approach was common practice in classrooms and we moved so far away from balance during the NCLB-era. There is a generation of students who missed opportunities to curl up with a great book, listen to each other and their teacher read aloud on a daily basis.  At the same time, it's hopeful that these approaches are considered fresh again for the next generation of readers.

Advice to First Year Me

Day 3 of #AprilBlogaDay asks for Advice to a first year me. I answered a similar prompt last year and my answer was "Be You." I think this answer is still relevant today. Once I was my authentic self in the classroom as opposed to playing a "perceived" teacher role my first year changed dramatically.

Today, I would add to this advice that relationships matter. Take the time to build relationships with your students, your teacher colleagues, and other staff. My first year me started so focused on creating the best, possible lesson by focusing on the technical details and content, that I completely forgot who and where I was teaching. Ultimately we teach kids and work with people. That must always be our first priority. Teaching can be tremendously lonely within the four walls of a classroom if we choose not to focus on relationships.  In today's connected world, there really is no excuse for not connected with others as professionals.  That doesn't mean that every teacher should be on Twitter or have a blog or some other absolute, but rather that every educator must work to build relationships in a manner that is authentic to them.

Digital Decimal Place Value Tiles

As a follow-up to my previous blog post on digital place value discs, these are the companions to use for modeling decimal numbers. Included in the shared Google Drive folder below are decimal tiles for tenths, hundredths, and thousandths that were created using Google Drawing. Decimal tiles are purposefully square to differentiate from whole number place value discs. Also included in this folder is a Google Drawing Place Value Mat and a Google Slides File that is ready to be used as an interactive place value mat.

5 Instant Creativity Boosters

Yesterday, I came across the following article by Jessica Stillman entitled, "More Ideas in Minutes: 5 Instant Creativity Boosters," published on The first suggestion was to Doodle. It's been a while since I've done any sketchnoting and needing a creativity boost after a long work week, this article provided the perfect topic for a sketchnote. I have the weekend to try out recommendations 2, 3, and 5.