New Mentoring Connections

Last fall, we were involved in a mentoring project with preservice teachers in Dean Shareski's class at the University of Regina , in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. So, we were very excited to be able to participate again this term.

This time, Dean has teamed up with Alec Courosa to have even more college students mentoring classes across the country. The way it works is that Dean and Alec's students choose from a list of teachers/classrooms which blogs they would like to follow and mentor. The last time we participated, the college students left comments, exchanged emails with the teacher and posted a video online teaching the class about themselves.

Since most of our teachers only began blogging this year, the first mentorship project was a window into possibilities. Instead of just wondering how they could encourage parents to comment on the class blog, they became interested in what our global visitors might have to say about the work going on in their classroom. Watching clustermap hits was a much more personal experience and the students became much more interested in "who" was making the comments when they saw comments approved on a post. They enjoyed getting to respond to comments if it was needed.

We're so excited to be involved in this project again that we wanted to kick it up a notch by starting off with an introduction video from the three classes involved, Jessica Lipsky's 5th Grade, Cathy Daniels & Randi Timmons 1st Grade and Debby Cothern & Michelle Ellis' K class. Last time, the kids enjoyed getting to actually "see" video clips of their mentor, so we recorded a few quick things to introduce ourselves to the mentor. I hope it will help make the personal connections click with the college students. Give them a quick view of the little faces behind the blog and what they are hoping to get out of this experience. Here are the videos:

Kindergarten Mentor Video from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.

First Grade Mentor Video from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.

I can't wait to see what this term's project brings!


LIVE from the Creek turns ONE

I was recently reminded by Clustermaps (as they notified me of the yearly archived map) that our Professional Development blog, LIVE from the Creek, has just turned one year old.

LIVE from the Creek
began last January as the ten members of our leadership team headed out to a conference in Hollywood, CA. We wanted to share everything we were learning and doing with our teachers and decided the best way to do that would be starting a blog.

Since that time, we've made blogging a requirement for everyone who attends professional development. If they are chosen to attend and would like to continue to attend trainings, they have to be willing to share their work. It's been a huge success. Not only do we have over 90 teachers logging in to read about our learning, we have developed a global audience that gives us feedback through comments.

We just returned from a few days in Orlando, FL at FETC where we blogged our learning. Please jump on over and join in on the conversation!


7 Things You Don't Need to Know About Me

I got tagged on the Seven Things You Don't Need to Know About Me meme by Anne Oro and Bill Genereux . Some of my office mates know me TOO well, so I had to really work on this! So Anne and Bill, here you go:

1. My best friend in high school was Kevin Bond. We used to sit on the bus together and share Walkman tunes. We lost touch after high school but he has recently moved near my brother so I'm sure we'll see each other and catch up again soon.

2. I am afraid of heights. I don't ride roller coasters, climb ladders or look out the window in airplanes. I can directly link this back to a bad field trip experience. When I was in second grade, I lived in Chicago, Illinois and we went on a trip to the Sears tower. I remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as the elevator climbed over 100 floors. When we got to the top floor the kids in my class all rushed to the ceiling to floor window/wall and I got caught in the crowd. I was unintentionally pushed face first into the window looking down on miniscule Chicago. My mother will tell you that when I brought home my drawing of my favorite part of the was a drawing of me sitting of the bus returning to school!

3. I love to draw and paint. I am very critical of myself and don't do well when being artistic on command, which is the only reason I did not choose some area of art for my college degree. I used to fill sketch pads with drawings. This is the last one I drew and it is dated '88 (I had my first child the next year). All of the paintings I painted were framed and hung in my dad's house until he died and now they are in my closet. I really can't look at them.

4. All of my family is from Kentucky. I was born in Lexington, KY. Every summer of my life I visited my mother's childhood home in Jenkins, KY on Wheaton Hollow. She grew up very much like Lorretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter, which is very nearby (same mountain). My grandfather was a coal miner. When I was little I remember him leaving for work before sunrise and arriving home covered head to toe in soot. The whites of his eyes were the only part that resembled the Papaw I knew. My father grew up in Bagdad, KY on a tobacco farm. My Mamaw always told me stories about having to "switch" my daddy. She said she had a peach tree in the yard that never did get to grow!

5. My favorite kind of music is Hip Hop. It all started in high school with songs like this and this. The top 3 songs in my Ipod right now are this, this and this. I know - I don't fit the mold...but that's the way it is. I also like Country music artists like Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Little Big Town.

6. My hair used to be half blonde and half brunette. I was 15 and my favorite rock group at the time was Berlin. It was a interesting look that got a lot of attention, but I wasn't the only person in my high school sporting it. It didn't really suit me, as you can imagine. It didn't help that my hair is hopelessly curly and we didn't have flat irons back then.

7. My first and last car accident wasn't as amazing as Alec Courosa's but it was unusual. I lived in New Orleans, LA when I learned to drive at the age of 15 (you can get you license at this age there). One of the first things they teach you in Driver's Ed is to roll down your windows if you are going into a canal. (The canals run down the middle of almost every street.) The reason is because the water pressure can keep you from escaping. So...when I drove on my first wet road and my car went into a spin...I saw myself heading for a full canal with my brother in the car. I immediately began screaming for him to open the window. I found out that when a car goes airborne into water it will fill halfway up on impact. I watched my brother escape before I tried to get out and the water was up to my neck by that time. With the car in a vertical postion it was hard to wriggle free but I managed to escape with only a few scrapes and the lovely smell of sewage all over. Because the engine was on, the car was totalled. But even though it had just been paid off, my father never complained. Now that I'm a parent, I know why.

I tag the following people:
Susan Phillips
dayle timmons