As I’ll not have school tomorrow due to Parent-Teacher conference Tuesday and tonight, here are some take aways from the month that was:

Winter stinks: I know, I know.  I live in Northeast Iowa I should be used to this by now.  True, and honestly, I love winter as I’m quite warm, but seriously.  Do we need not one, but two polar vortexes?  Do we need weeks and weeks below freezing?  Do we need -28* at my house one day??  Good grief!

Testing stinking when winter stinks: Again, come on, you live in Northeast Iowa!!  In my own defense, we’ve had nine snow days this year, eight of them coming after Christmas break.  We’ve not had a true week of school with no early outs, late starts, or missed days since the week before Christmas break.  How will this look on our tests, only time will tell.  I cannot see it being a good things happening though!

Virtual Learning Days, why not: There have been a number of stories done of “virtual learning days”, and a couple of times we’ve talked about them with our fun hashtag #edcampfrozen.  True, much needs to be done to see how these might look, but why not give it a shot?  No, I don’t expect students to be logged in even at home all the time.  A snow day is a gift from the winter gods which should be treated with care!  However, with nine of them, why not try something different?? We as an educational system can do better with time like this.

Just Ask: I’ve been playing with Newsela ( off and on all year long, trying to find time to get it into my classroom.  Today, we played with the highlighting portion of the site, and I loved the fact I could see what my students were picking out as important in their reading.  After I tweeted that out, I had a back and forth with LeeAnn (@HeyLeeAnn) and she mentioned how she loved the annotation part of Newsela.  What?  So we talked about that a bit and it’s currently in beta testing, but they are looking for people to use it. So, after a quick “could I play with your new toy” email, our classroom is signed up to work with the annotation portion of this awesome site!  If I didn’t ask, we’d not be doing it, so ask away.  The worst thing that can happen is someone emails you back saying no!

Engagement is Personal: I participated in #livedchat last night, and the topic was student engagement.  The first question was “what engages you”, an awesome lead in!  The varied responses just reminded me that while we work to engage our students, we as adults need that too.  We must have that “thing” that we love to do or else we drift along.  For me, it’s basketball.  I love watching, coaching, and playing the game.  Cooking, creating, reading, gardening, and so many others were thrown out there.  Our own engagement to life is so personal, yet, when we bring that into the classroom, it helps students to see that we are real people.  My students love the fact that I play basketball and it adds another layer to our classroom relationships.

Just Keep Swimming: As I think of Dory and Marlin, I just keep pushing forward.  I’ve blogged and tweeted both about smiling and keeping positive in the face of so much “stuff”.  There’s so much we can do with just a few little things: a kind word, a token of our appreciation, or simply a Diet Coke.  We need to keep each other up as if we aren’t watching out for each other, who will?

I’ll wish February a fond farewell with a smile and a look to the south and warmer temperatures! Winter can’t go on forever, can it? 🙂