CLMOOC Week 2 Reflection & Seek Six Sunday

I didn’t have time to do a “Find Five Friday,” so I’m going to write a “Seek Six Sunday” (Shout Out Six Sunday?  Super Six Sunday?) in this blog post, combined with a reflection on Week 2 of CLMOOC.

My first three mentions will be for face-to-face interactions.  The first two are LAWP’s David Crittendon & Bob Land, who combined to teach me this week.  David is in Mississippi for the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, and he is blogging about his experience. In 1964, David worked to register voters in Meridian, Mississippi, which, in my mind, was an act of heroism.  From my comfortable chair, as a white male born in 1977, it’s hard to imagine the courage it took to stand up to segregation, in a setting where people were physically assaulted and even murdered for taking this stand.

David is new to blogging, so I’m not only excited about his online writing because of my interest in his personal story and its historical significance, but also because it represents a wonderful example of Connected Learning.  He’s modeling risk-taking and lifelong learning in a powerful way.

As I thought about David’s work in 1964, and mentally added him to my list of heroes, I thought of another man whose achievements astonish me.  I found this photo at David Mixner’s blog for use in a meme.

Image from

Bob deserves mention for quite a few reasons, not the least of which is his masterful coordination – and release of responsibility to – the LAWP Summer Institute (not to mention his devotion to the Project).  In this case, though, I mention him because he suggested blogging about the Freedom Summer anniversary to David.

On Friday, I took a day off from the Summer Institute to attend a leadership meeting at my district office, facilitated by our site instructional coaches and Ivannia Soto of Whittier College.  I learned a lot from the meeting; my biggest takeaway was the idea that I could use my training in cognitive coaching to support my work as a teacher leader.  I work part-time as a mentor for teachers at my site who are completing BTSA, our state induction system, and I’ve learned how to use questions to support teachers in problem-solving (as opposed to simply pointing out solutions myself).  I realized on Friday that I could use these techniques to help other teachers at my site.

My other three mentions go to CLMOOC members I’ve encountered online:  Paul Allison, for his thought-provoking meme on standards; Sheri Edwards for her expansive & extensive sharing on Twitter; and Scott Glass for compiling CLMOOC political memes.

My reflection on memes:

Frankenstein Meme Hard

…but I’m getting better at it.





LA Writing Project Writing Marathon

This morning, the Los Angeles Writing Project Summer Institute held its annual Writing Marathon. We met at Jameson Brown Coffee on Allen Ave in Pasadena and walked over to the Gold Line station a block or so north.

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The train station platform is very…Southern Californian.

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Our first stop was Memorial Park in Old Pasadena. (My first date with Marlene ended here while I waited for my train. I lived in Koreatown then, and we’d met for dinner at the late lamented Gordon Biersch at One Colorado.) After we walked over to the park, fellows chose writing prompts from a bag that Shahe had brought; then we spread out and wrote for about 15 minutes.

In the middle of our writing, the bells from nearby St. Andrew Church rang out for ten o’clock.

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An old man came by and fed pigeons.

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I wrote a draft of an introduction to the piece on Gay’s Lion Farm that Romeo Guzman invited me to write for the El Monte/South El Monte history reader he and his partner Caribbean Fragoza are putting together under the banner of the South El Monte Arts Posse (SEMAP).  After we wrote for about 15 minutes, we reconvened and shared our writing.

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Next, we rode the train to the Mission Street station in South Pasadena, and walked along El Centro to the South Pasadena Public Library.

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We passed Firefly Bistro, site of the rehearsal dinner for our wedding (and many Valentine’s Day dinners.)

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Outside the library, Shahe passed out prompts. Ravy pointed out an unusual tree.

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Inside the library, I noticed this:

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I was seduced by the 50-cent book stands.

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After writing at the library, we headed to Olvera Street on the Gold Line (via Union Station), and enjoyed lunch together at La Golondrina.   While we waited for our food, we shared our writing once more.

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After lunch, we head back to Allen Avenue.  The train pulled away and we walked back to our cars.

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We use ethnography in our Summer Institute, and yesterday it was my turn.  I used Hackpad to take notes and then to create the ethnography report.

My hope is to share some of the digital tools that I’ve discovered in CLMOOC and to open the ethnography report up for interaction.  I’ve scheduled time in the computer lab; I’m going to email the Hackpad link to each of the SI Fellows, and see what happens.



The central question for my summer inquiry is:  How can I create a healthy balance in my life?

This past year, I’ve found that my professional successes have been tempered by the realization that my success has often come at the cost of nourishing and enjoying my personal relationships.  I know I am not unique in this struggle, and that it is likely to remain a struggle for me, but I do not want to wait any longer to make changes:  I want to reorganize my life.

I know it’s ridiculous, but…

…whenever I try to blog, my biggest stumbling block is the memory of my previous, failed blogs.

I consider these blogs “failed” because I’ve tried to making blogging a part of my routine before and I haven’t been able to make it stick.

In 2009, for example, I had joined a small community of blogging educators, and started to blog two or three times weekly.  Then I got busy with wedding planning and work responsibilities, and I just stopped blogging.  By the time I was ready to start again, I felt that I had been absent too long, and so I just drifted away from the community.

Then, last year, I started to blog again as part of CLMOOC, and I did make blogging part of my routine for a longer period of time.  I started blogging with my students on Kidblog, but by the end of the fall semester, my own blogging – as you can see from the lack of posts on this blog – had become subsumed by my work as the blog administrator for my classes.

This is analogous to my life as a writer – most of my writing is “classroom writing,” e.g. models for my students, lesson plans, and other artifacts that tend to stay in the classroom.

The distinction between “writing to learn” and “learning to write” is helpful to consider here.  I think I do a very good job of using “writing to learn” in my classroom, but I fear that I have not taught my students enough about “learning to write.”  My question – and how nicely this fits in with my guiding question for my summer reflection! – How can I redesign my teaching, and my professional life, so that my writing and my students’ writing strikes a healthy balance between writing to learn and learning to write?