January 31, 2015

January Confusion

OK, a month ago I thought I had it all figured out. I had determined themes for each day of the week to theoretically make it easier to blog everyday. I also dabbled in the #FMSPhotoADay project and enjoyed sharing and comparing other interpretations of the daily prompt around the world. Yet, somehow rather than being more focused in my purpose, I became more confused. I ended up posting two photos each day (unless I could find a way for both prompts to coincide). My own themes required choosing archived photos (especially on French Fridays) so the monthly calendar no longer reflects all current images.  So tomorrow, it's back to the drawing board.


January 31, 2015 {31/365}
Cave Point County Park
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

January 30, 2015

French Friday: Petite

Photo prise en janvier 2013

Connaissez-vous cette très petite maison au no 13 quai Voltaire 75007 à Paris? Elle est si étroite, mais je la trouve absolument charmante avec sa porte bleue, sa belle fenêtre, ses jolies sculptures, et ses deux petits balcons. J'aime imaginer l'intérieur qui ressemble à une maison de poupées. C'est un bel exemple que les meilleures chose sont souvent aux plus petits paquets!
January 29, 2015


January 29, 2015 {29/365} (Original July 2013)

Some things never change despite a change of season. This will always be "home" for the Larsons. My great-grandfather owned the store and my grandparents owned the house since the late 1800's. My dad grew up here and my Grandma Dodo (my mom's aunt) lived upstairs in the apartment. I spent summers and weekends here and even have a scar on my lip from where I feel on the stairs. Yep, some things last forever!

January 28, 2015


January 28, 2015 {28/365} Colorful

"I never met a color I didn't like." ~ Dale Chihuly

Many view winter in Wisconsin as drab, devoid of color; however, I love our winter palate: the snowy white canvas, a steely blue-gray sky, the lacy dark branches of barren trees. Yet after a while, especially after a January thaw, I begin searching for brief glimpses of brighter color like berries or song birds. Today, the mild temperatures beckoned me to explore, but the only bright hue I found was the blaze orange of ice fishermen's jackets out on the lake.  Thwarted in my quest for natural color, I looked to art to satisfy my craving. Dale Chihuly's Isola di San Giacomo in Palude Chandelier II (2000) at the Milwaukee Art Museum never disappoints!
January 27, 2015

EdTech and Educator Effectiveness

January 27, 2015 {27/365} Ideas

Ever since returning from the Google Teacher Academy last summer, the gears have been turning on my GTA Action Plan. As new Google Certified Teachers, my cohort and I were taught about Moonshot Thinking and "Solving for X". The idea is to identify a "huge problem" -- a problem of practice that extends beyond just own our classrooms, buildings, or even districts, to propose a "radical solution," and to use "breakthrough technology" to help solve the problem.

As both EdTech Coach and Educator Effectiveness Coach in the Pewaukee School District where the The Danielson Framework for Teaching is used to evaluate educators, I decided to focus on how technology can help teachers with Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities (the four domains of the Danielson Framework).

Here is my Action Plan/"Moon Shot" thinking: 
  • “The Problem”: Teachers often view technology integration and professional development as “just another thing” that they have to do rather than recognizing how effective use of technology will not only improve student performance and engagement, but also their own teaching practice, i.e. “educator effectiveness.” The State of Wisconsin’s Educator Effectiveness system uses “a performance-based evaluation that leads to improved student learning by supporting the continuous improvement of educator practice.” Districts implement the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System “to ensure that educators receive quality data to identify and inform individual areas of: 1) strength; 2) needed improvement; and 3) ongoing support for professional growth” (http://ee.dpi.wi.gov/). The challenge is to help teachers recognize that educational technology is not a separate event, but rather an embedded practice that will assist them in becoming more effective educators.
  • “The Solution”: By combining my two roles of EdTech Coach and Educator Effectiveness Coach, I intend to provide tools and examples for teachers to use as they seek to improve their professional practice (as scored by the Danielson Framework For Teachers). I began my project by aligning the components of the Danielson Framework with the ISTE Standards for Teachers to illustrate how incorporating EdTech as is not "just another thing" to do, but rather a means to improving teachers' effectiveness in each of the four domains and their subcomponents.
  • “The Breakthrough Technology”: Google Tools/Apps for Education (Docs, Sheets, Forms, Sites, Presentations, etc.), Social Media (Blogger, Google+, G+ Communities, Google Groups), Google Hangouts and Hangouts-on-Air, other social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)
  • "The X" Factor - For months, I have been curating tools and artifacts to create a resource (tinyurl.com/EdTechEE) for teachers (in Pewaukee, throughout the state of Wisconsin, and beyond).  I have shared my work locally and at state conferences, and have invited educators to share their ideas so that we call can learn from each other.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, January 28, 2015) at 8:00 pm CST, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will feature my ideas on their weekly #WIEE Twitter chat. Join us to share your own ideas and to discuss how technology can be used to advance both teacher practice and student achievement.

January 28th Update:
January 26, 2015


January 26, 2015 {26/365} Tea

"A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is 
until you put her in hot water." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

[Yet strength can also be blended with a bit of sweetness.]
January 25, 2015


January 25, 2015 {25/365} Tiki

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." ~ Saint Augustine

This tiki is the Hawaiian god of love and happiness. We bought him on our honeymoon nearly ten years ago to guard over our home and remind us to take time to enjoy life.  The photos that share his shelf also remind us that every once and while, we need a change of scenery, whether near (Cana Island Light, Door County - center photo) or far (the palms of Waikiki Beach - left or the monuments of Paris - right). It's always around this time of year when the holidays are over, the days are shorter and colder (and this year, bleaker without a cover of fresh, white snow), that I start to feel restless. Time to turn another page.
January 24, 2015


January 24, 2015 {24/365} Piano

"Life is like a piano. What you get out of it 
depends on how you play it." ~ Tom Lehrer
January 23, 2015

French Friday: Hiver

January 23, 2015 {23/365} « Hiver »

Two years ago this week, I took a quick 4-day weekend trip to Paris for a convention -- Lucky me! My initial plan was to skip all the typical, touristy spots and just stroll around, enjoying my Paris -- cafés, bookshops, boutiques, coffee, wine, pastries... oh, que ça me manque! I arrived to gray skies which didn't faze me at all since I think Paris is even more beautiful against a steely backdrop. After my requisite meetings, I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and evening with "Bonjour, Paris!" on a continual loop in my head before returning to my hotel, exhausted and jet-lagged.

When I woke on Saturday morning, Paris was transformed into a Winter Wonderland! The biggest winter storm in recent history dropped over 20 cm of fluffy snow on this already breathtaking city. Everyone loves Paris in the Springtime, but if possible, I think my nordic heart made me love it even more under a blanket of white. How could I resist viewing all of Paris' landmarks frosted like a wedding cake? So I wandered for hours, marveling at the glorious site. I must admit, it was terribly fun for this Wisconsin girl to watch the blissful French children and dogs play in the snow (as well as the chic Parisians slipping & sliding in their fashionable yet completely inappropriate footwear ;)
I've shared these photos before, 
but today, as we anticipate a weekend snowstorm,
I find myself pining for Paris sous la neige!
And as much as I love the iconic monuments...
it's the less expected photos that I share today.
(Like this spot, where this happened!)
Things that I wouldn't normally be compelled 
to photograph suddenly caught my eye
Every glorious detail
That wonderful Paris limestone -- I love this color palate!
Every little embellishment
I'm home in the USA, but I miss my beloved Paris.
She seems so far away. Yet I know she's always there...
...waiting for my return -- bientôt, j'espère!
(OK...maybe just one of the Eiffel Tower ;-)

January 22, 2015


January 22, 2015 {22/2015} "Whirlybirds"

Original photo: February 7, 2013

Unlike other Throwback Thursday posts, today's image is not an edited version of the original, but rather a retake of a subject that still inspires me. After the snow fell in big, fluffy flakes yesterday, I revisited this favorite tree outside my old French classroom. I've always loved how the snow clings to its branches and seedpods. After two years, it's fun to see the progression of iPhone camera technology (clearer colors, higher resolution - Click on the small picture to view its full size) as well as my own progress in framing, focus, depth of field, and composition. Although I prefer the lacier patterns of the original photo's seeds, I must leave those details to Mother Nature.

January 21, 2015


January 21, 2015 {15/365} "Different Perspective"

"God blesses us all with different views and perspectives."
~ LL Cool J (Everyone takes a photo from the front.)
January 20, 2015


January 20, 2014 {20/365} "Vintage Technology"

Just recently, I've become a bit obsessed with vintage technology, specifically typewriters (featured here and here) and cameras (like the ones pictured here). It isn't that I particularly enjoy antiques or antique shops; in fact, anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't like clutter. I prefer well-organized, minimalist fashion and décor, featuring a few statement pieces, and of course, I love cutting-edge technology. Yet, for the past few months, I've been pining for these antiquated devices, craving a beautiful old typewriter and camera to display among my most cherished books and found treasures. I find them wonderfully simple yet sophisticated and beautiful in their clean, mid-century design. I think that I've finally figured out what I find most attractive about vintage cameras and typewriters. They represent the technology that has allowed people to be creative: to write novels, poetry, and love letters (although those should truly be handwritten), to take photos of loved ones, to capture the beauty in nature and special events as well as everyday moments that become special once discovered and documented.

In August, I reflected on what I've learned by maintaining this blog, by writing and taking pictures everyday. Today on this Tech Tuesday, I'd like to refocus my lens on the creative process:
"Since I began blogging and participating in Project 365 activities, I have taken thousands of photographs. I often take multiple shots of the same subject -- sometimes on the same day, sometimes at different times of day (à la Monet), and sometimes days, weeks, months, or even a year later. Studying my photos has taught me so much about focus, composition, color, light, angles, and editing. And although "a picture is worth a thousand words," writing captions and narratives to accompany my photos has further challenged me to be both visually and verbally creative. When I look back on my own progress, I learned so much from the "mistakes" that I've made. The process has not only taught me to be a better writer and photographer, but it has also taught me some valuable life lessons. I have learned:
FOCUS: Be constantly present and observant. Focus on what is beautiful, unusual, the details that make a picture special, uniquely your own. Looking at things from different angles provides new opportunities to witness moments that would be missed if they were only observed from a single point of view. “When you start to change the way you see things, the things you see start to change.” ~ Wayne Dyer  
PERSEVERANCE: Commitment to a project of this magnitude can be challenging. There are days when nothing seems interesting; when it feels like there's nothing to photograph and/or nothing to write. There are nights when it's late and I'm tired, but I don't want to disappoint myself by not posting. There are moments when I know I have the potential to take a great picture, but the light, the camera, or the subject don't seem to be cooperating. There are times when there are no words. I've learned not to give up: Light changes, subjects move, and my own control over angles and focus can make all the difference. "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained." ~ Marie Curie 
ACCEPTANCE: Sometimes, I can predict what my day will bring and what photos I might take, but even those pictures always look different in my mind than they do on my screen. My iPhone has predictable limitations. Sometimes, I know that I will never get close enough to capture what I see, and regardless of how much I plan, I can't control the weather, the natural light, or movement and will of others. I can only try new perspectives. "Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it." ~ Michael J. Fox 
BALANCE: It is important to strike a balance between photos and words that are carefully planned, composed, and edited, and those beautiful, unexpected moments that require quick reflexes. So often when I've taken several shots of the same subject, it is my first impression that becomes the photo of the day. As much as I insist on presence and awareness, it is impossible to be fully present if one is constantly viewing life through a camera lens. “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” ~ Keith Urban 
SHARING: Creative expression (art, music, writing, etc.) is meant to be shared. Although I began this project to challenge myself and that continues to be my primary focus, I have rather serendipitously found an audience for my work via social media and word of mouth. The feedback and encouragement that I receive further challenge me to try new things and to continue to improve. Although it is impossible to please everyone, everyday, it is empowering to know that others look forward to my daily offerings (so thank you!). "Art is about sharing. You wouldn't be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought." ~ David Hockney

January 19, 2015

Same Boat

January 19, 2015 {19/365} Boat

“We may have all come on different ships,
but we're in the same boat now."
 ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
January 18, 2015

January Thaw

January 18, 2015 {18/365} "Thawing"

"Seasonal diversions can ease the bite of any winter.  
One is the January thaw." ~ Hal Borland
January 17, 2015


January 17, 2015 {17/365} Comparison

"It's a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas...and we're wearing sunglasses." ~ Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers)

Today, we made our annual road trip to Chicago for the Strictly Sail ShowWhat a difference a year makes! Last year, it was Strictly Sail; this year it was Chicago Boat, RV, and Strictly Sail Show. Last year it was at Navy Pier; this year it was at McCormick Place. Last year, it was fun; this year it was not. Last year, we stayed in the city; this year, we went home. But there was one consolation: Last year, it was -25º; this year, it was 56º!