Saturday, February 4, 2017

30 Days of Trash

I see myself doing this.

Our Last Spring

Our last spring in NC.

Love the simple pleasure and joy that flowers bring, signaling the change of seasons and kindling treasured memories. I planted the bulbs with the boys 10 years ago and the monster Lenten Rose with my Dad. I remember well the day he and I transplanted it from Rutherfordton. It loved where we planted it, at the corner of the house, and it grew with wild abandon, hence I named it my monster Lenten Rose.

And yes, I talk to my flowers, the hawk overhead, and of course, marvel at the beauty in each sunrise and sunset.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Authentic - I LOVE That!

We’re having a great time in the media center with authentic learning.  Students are using the databases in NCWiseOwl and Destiny to drive their point-of-need information, digital, and media literacy experiences as they gather information for their STEAM fair projects.

I am happy that students were able to identify why we use approved internet sites - safe content, appropriate for reading level, and the content/source of the information could be trusted/is vetted.

We’ve created Google folders, downloaded articles and moved them into the research folder, shared the folders and files with partners, created a Google document for the bibliography, and saved our citations.  

We’ve revisited Google Chrome extension that can help them with note taking (Read & Write and Scrible).

Of course we also reviewed the list of 10 Zero Talent skills and students are beginning to name them from memory.


It’s exciting to observe students assisting peers with locating information and sources with keyword adjustments, exploring different databases, and walking with others to the bookshelves to locate a call number.  When students demonstrate their learning through the transfer of knowledge to others it’s sweet to watch and what I’m striving for.

Students are also evaluating the information they find to make sure it meets their informational needs.  We talked yesterday about topic selection before knowing if information would be available. The struggle can be frustrating, but with support during these moments it’s a win-win.  It’s true that we often learn the most and remember the process and steps to success this way. I LOVE that!

As each class departs, I let them know I’m here if they need me.



Monday, January 23, 2017

Our staff thoroughly enjoyed our training today.  Special thanks to our ITF, Teresa Thomassen, for coordinating an enjoyable PD session.


Dr. Sharon Jones is a fabulous and engaging presenter.  We all loved the CODE swag, too.


Dr. Jones emphasized the benefits of introducing coding at an early age and highlighted the job prospects associated with coding.  It’s the intersection of a variety of subjects - art, math, science, etc.  The possibilities for creativity are endless - that I LOVE! Check out the student creations on the website!

From the website:

If you're an elementary teacher, please go to to find a workshop near you! or you can visit to find a facilitator in your area.

Happy Coding!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Goals, You Matter, Zero Talent

The students enjoyed Silver Packages and were thoughtfully challenged by the question, “Who do you owe a debt of gratitude?”.  In past years I have talked about New Year’s celebrations, traditions, and resolutions, and had students write resolutions.  This year, when I received an email from ClassDojo titled, The perfect activity to kick off 2017 🎉, I was excited to have the 3-5 students grapple with becoming goal setters.   The challenge for students was to set a short-term, 3-6 month goal, one that didn’t have to be school related. It became obvious to me that there were key ideas in my What Do You Think? blog post that I wanted students to hear, believe and ponder.

Knowing that the You Matter message could be difficult for some elementary students to understand, I used examples about my “ability” to jump a distance.  Even before I began my journey and while I was on my journey to reach my jumping goal, I was enough, just as I was.  I introduced Angela Maiers to the students as my friend and shared with them that even though Angela and I had never met, she has impacted my life through the You Matter manifesto.  I showed them my You Matter shirt and began to slowly read the You Matter manifesto to the students, making eye contact around the room and gesturing to them as I spoke. Students had time to read the manifesto to themselves.

We have discussed before “that there is only one you”.  I demonstrated that, “Once I move forward, the choice and time to move any other direction are no longer an option for me, at least not in the same way.  Each decision, or lack of one, shapes what happens next - what I see, who I meet, what my options are to do next, etc”.  Decisions right now affect this afternoon, and that affects tomorrow, etc., culminating into the larger timeframes of life. I shared one thing that all three (3) of my sons can do that isn’t graded - they can get themselves up in the morning without any prodding, which allows more than just to be on time.  This will continue to reap benefits for them and I’m sure it will be valued by their employer. Reading from a vast variety of information sources I remembered and shared with students that the act of putting their goal in writing was powerful and the simple act of writing it down increased the likelihood that they would reach their goal. Wish I would have shared that it has to do with our brains.

We went through the ClassDojo goal setting activity and I reinforced that the goal did not have to be school related.  I introduced students to the Zero Talent list.  I used the example that I was an excellent softball player, but my coach had instructed me not to swing at the 1st pitch.  Glancing around the media center, I asked a student from each class to throw me a pitch.  You guessed it! I swung.  “Was I coachable?” “NO!”  We talked about the importance of making their goal measureable, referring back to my jumping example for distance and time to achieve the goal.  After a Kagan Think, Pair, Share the students began to write their goal and steps.  For the second group of classes - I added the You Matter message on their paper - I wanted them to have a copy of the manifesto with their goal.   The You Matter manifesto and the Zero Talent image were available for students to refer to, and many used the concepts in their goals.

The majority of students set goals for sports and school. It was rewarding and exciting to see students incorporate items from the zero talent skills list and to hear them share with each other about their goals, contributions and gifts.  

These resonated with me …

My goal is to tell the truth.

Make it through the week.
I need to get better at getting up.

Respect my parents.

Be on(e)  time.

I want to get better at building and diesing. (designing)

Be thankful.

Thank you, students and Angela Maiers.  I am very thankful indeed!



Friday, January 6, 2017

Coding Club - Our Last Meeting

Today was our last 2nd & 3rd grade coding club!  

The students took a survey and made word clouds today as part of our last meeting. I wanted feedback on what they enjoyed, would change, and most importantly to reflect on our time together.

Students learned and reinforced several skills as they created their word clouds and uploaded them to the Padlet. Most importantly, early finishers transferred their knowledge helping others! (Wink) Here’s what I asked them to do: Make a word cloud about coding using the Word Clouds app.  Save to the camera Roll. Put the word cloud on this padlet.

I saw one student today at The Ned Show Assembly, during media class, and in the lunchroom.  Each time he told me that he never wanted our coding club to end and that he would not want to leave the media center when our club time was over today.  His word cloud was my favorite! Can you guess which one it was?

Enjoy the padlet here or via the QR code below.

My favorite was ...

I was impressed at the time students took thinking about their responses and the clarifying questions they asked me before responding. Now to the survey data!

This response warmed my heart! I wonder who wrote it!
My favorite thing(s) about coding club ... "My favorite thing about coding club is that we learn new things and I love mrs crook."

I should have asked the students why they chose their favorite coding tool.  “Other” could mean that they couldn’t pick just one …?

I guess one (1) OK for how I did isn’t bad :)

I’m especially thankful for all the students who hugged and thanked me on their way out of the media center as we played Emily Arrow's "I Am Yoga" song.  It’s inspired by the book I Am Yoga written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.  I LOVE it!  It’s playing now as I type :)

Enjoy via SafeShareTV.

Wishing you the best on your journey.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

What do you think?

Author’s note: post inspired by this Facebook memory


Reading  numerous blogs and news articles I have an open mind when it comes to the challenges surrounding education and the potential solutions to multifaceted issues we face.

Thankfully, I tempered my approach and response to the grades our three very different sons have received. Of course we praised our high achiever/performer, but more than that we championed his passion for subjects and interests for what now has become central to his major in college.  If you follow my blog you know about another son’s coffee table military encyclopedia weighing close to 5 pounds.  I’m pleased to tell you that we supported his interests as well with the same results. He was recognized glowingly when awarded the character award in 8th grade by his team of teachers - I love it when the video pops up on the “on this day in Facebook” memories.  He’s  now a Cadet Private at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina - I love how that sounds!  Falling somewhere in the middle is our other son. Yes, you guessed it he is all over the place.  Working hard for each point - how fortunate for him a 10 point scale was adopted this year.

What do these arbitrary grades mean anyway and do they do more harm than good?  A snapshot on a random day, at a random time? What about the research that supports school beginning later in the day? Where is the room for passion, creativity, discovery, … ?  Isn’t that what is really important to individuals? What would you add that is missing from the crowded school day?  I love my friend, Angela Maiers, and Choose2Matter.  Our families, schools, communities and world need our students discovering and adopting the You Matter message in their lives.


There are so many things we don’t measure or grade, like the ability to save someone’s life through training in a club, having compassion for others, being empathetic, being able to get yourself out of bed each day without prodding, etc.

Available everywhere now, sadly I do not know who the“10 Things That Require Zero Talent” list should be attributed to. You can learn more or refamiliarize yourself with the list here.


There’s even a twist on the 1st list.

How can we embed the items on the lists in our school day?

I have more questions than answers.  Here’s another - what do you think?

As my rambling comes to a close on New Year’s Eve 2016 I want you to take inspiration from Peter H. Reynolds on this day in 2013:


Happy New Year!