January 1, 2014

Blogging Challenge, Sunshine Award, Homework Meme or whatever else it is called

So I have been asked by many to participate in the PLN Blogging Challenge, Homework Meme, or Sunshine Award which entailed writing a blog post about yourself and then encouraging others to participate.  I have had a difficult time getting back into my blogging since I have begun my new position as the Instructional Leader for 3 elementary buildings.  I have been busy yes, but not so much that I couldn't find the time to share my experiences, questions or thoughts.  This challenge or meme was the push I needed to get me kick-started at blogging again.  I have been requested to particpate or share by numerous folks and the names I can recall at the moment are Ben Gilpin, Aaron Becker, Cory Radisch, Jim Cordery, Hercules Nikolaou, Rosa Isiah, Joy Kirr and most recently by good friend and mentor Jessica Johnson.  Sorry to those that I delayed on.  It was Winter Break and I tried to enjoy it, but I also struggle when I sit down to write about myself.

Here are the rules of the challenge:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
11 random facts about me:
1. I have three kids. Ages 21, 13 & 11.  I also have a cat, but I liked our Dog better.  
2. I played football in college and appear to have escaped with little mental damage....at least the kind that is visible.  Physically the damage is quite visible and I can only blame the training table and my lack of will power to take up running.
3. I am from Wisconsin but went to school in Iowa, student taught in Minnesota, began my teaching career in Illinois, married a gorgeous woman from Indiana, and after being a building administrator for 4 years in Illinois, had the opportunity to move back to Wisconsin and be near my family.
4. I worked with the most amazing elementary teacher I have ever met or seen.  She was incredible to see in the classroom.  She became my best friend, then she honored me by becoming my wife and the mother of my children.  She continues to make me a better person every day.
5. I am a foodie.  I love it, and the better it is the more I enjoy it.  While I need to find a way to conquer its control over me, I will always love good food and the fellowship of good friends enjoying it with me (that does not include when Jimmy Casas takes it off my plate though).  :-)
6. I am a fisherman.  I love getting out on the lakes and facing the challenge of catching bass.  What will they bite on today?  Where will they be hiding today?  Do I move the bait slow or fast?  Every trip out is an experiment.  I can't lie, I often enjoy the serenity and solitude of the outdoors as well, but now that my daughter likes using lures instead of worms and she is willing to take the fish off the hook by herself, well......she is fun to take along as well.
7. I was told by my high school guidance counselor that I should consider a community college or vocational school.  My grades weren't the best.  My high school principal believed in me and wrote me a wonderful letter of recommendation, that and a pretty decent ACT score were enough to get me a chance.  I owe him so much.  His letter and belief in me changed my life in ways I will never fully know, but I know it is my job to repay the gesture provided to me and I look forward to the opportunity.
8. I am a movie buff.  I love watching movies.  I love where they take me, the stories they tell and the visual escape it can be.  I love the story in the books even more, but sometimes my eyes need to feast on the magic that movies share.
9. I love poetry.  I love the rhyme, meter and the beauty of the vocabulary.  Words can be magical.  I wrote a poem to my wife for our wedding.  Apparently she liked it because she said yes and she had it framed.
10. While I played football in college, I am actually a bigger basketball fan.  I was probably a better basketball player than I was at football, but my body build was definitely made for football.  I love coaching and teaching basketball.  I coached during my student teaching experience (football & basketball actually) and I have helped coach my daughters youth league team.  Football is fun, but basketball is my passion.
11. I am an Apple guy.  This is funny because I have not yet been in a district that is an Apple district.  I had an old purple Mac G3 in one district for a short time, but it was my first iPod that convinced me.  Since then I have purchased the original iPad, an iPad2, a iPod for my son, an iPhone, a Macbook Pro, and a whole new set of iPhone 5's for my wife, my oldest son and myself.  Other machines, Microsoft, android are all just fine, but when it comes to preferences, I am an Apple guy.
Now to answer the other 11 questions from the challenge (I was asked different questions from many people, so I decided to use a couple from some of those sent to me and borrow some great ones shared by Jessica......that and I am too lazy to look them all up).
1. What is your favorite tv show? This is tough.  Hard to narrow it to just one.  I have recently been hooked on Downton Abbey, but I also love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cheers, Seinfeld, and Archer.  But if I had to narrow it down to just one, I would currently have to go with The Big Bang Theory.
2. What is one app or resource you’ve learned about on Twitter that has been a game changer for you at work? My favorite apps are still the apps I use for connecting with my PLN.  I love the relationships that have blossomed from connecting with others on Voxer.  I am also a big fan of Pinterest and Google+.
3. What is your typical bedtime? I prefer to hit the sack after the evening news.  Sometimes, when I am completely wiped out I will go to bed at 9pm, and on the nights when my mind can't stop turning I may not conk out until 1pm or so.  I'm afraid when you are a building leader, you sleep when you can.
4. Best book you’ve read in 2013? I am a huge fan of YA books & Dystopian stories. Some of my recent favorites are The Fault in Our Stars, Wonder, Out of My Mind, the Divergent Series, and The Hunger Games.  But when it comes to my favorite books of all time, it is undoubtedly The Harry Potter Series.
5. Favorite Twitter Chat: I find it impossible to narrow this down & small minded to even consider.  Why would I want to learn about just one area of education?  Why would I want to limit the range of people I connect with?  I try to join or lurk into as many as I can.
6. Best place you’ve vacationed? My family (my mother, my brother's family and my sister and her daughter) has been renting a beach house in the Outer Banks for the past 10 years.  Not only is the Outer Banks wonderful, the weather warm, the beach amazing, the houses we've rented beautiful, but the time relaxing and enjoying family has been priceless, memorable and absolutely loaded with laughs and smiles.
7. How has your PLN impacted you? I cannot even begin to count the ways.  They have given me courage, knowledge, support, advise, and friendship.  They have helped me to find joy in challenging times, and kept me focused on what is truly important in education - What's Best for Kids.  This is why it is important to me and a resolution for the new year to make sure I am giving back as much as I receive from my PLN.
8. What motivates you each day to be an educator?  Kids.......and thoughts about their future.
9. What is one of your favorite Leadership quotes?  I use this one often and you can find it on my Twitter profile.  I borrowed it from my mentor Jimmy Casas.  "Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
10. If you had a whole day to do just what you wanted, what would it be? I would go out to dinner with some of the amazing friends I have made on Twitter.  I would need a huge table and everyone would need a microphone connected to my hearing aid, but the conversations I have the incredible members of my PLN are truly some of the most enjoyable memories I have.
11. What are two things on your bucket list that you would like to do yet? I would like to travel through Europe.  My wife and I long to see Ireland, England, Scotland, Norway, Finland, Germany, Spain, Italy and France.  The other place I would like to travel to is Fiji.  I think I saw pictures of the beautiful island when I was young and the dream has stuck with me ever since.

My questions for the following bloggers that I’d like to see complete this challenge:
1.  Chicago Style or New York Style Pizza?
2.  I know it should be pizza, but what is your favorite food?
3.  What is the best Leadership book you have ever read?
4.  What is your favorite fiction book that is a series (at least 3 books)?
5.  What is the ONE National Conference you would most like to attend?
6.  What is the funniest thing you can recall seeing on Twitter?
7.  What or who makes you laugh the most often?
8.  Who, besides your spouse, children or parents, made a huge impact on your life?
9.  Share a challenge you overcame that has made you a better person/teacher/leader.
10.  What are you going to do with the $250 million you win in the Lottery?
11.  What one change would you make in education?

My Bloggers:  (I know some of you may have participated already, I'm always the last)

1. Michelle Baldwin ( @michellek107 )
2. Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks)
3. Chris Stogdill (@ChrisStogdill)
4. Sisyphus (@Sisyphus38)
5. Mike Nitzel (@MikeNitzel)
6. Allison Jackson (@azajacks)
7. Craig Yen (@craigyen)
8. Shannon Clark (@shannonclark7)
9. Ryan Bretag (@ryanbretag)
10. Rik Rowe  (@WHSRowe)
11. Bill Deno  (@Disciplinarian)


  1. I ditto Amber - and kudos on "The Big Bang Theory," Tom! ~Joy

  2. I'm headed to Ireland this summer. Come join me!

  3. Fun stuff!! But now I've got to think about answers to those questions??? Oh my word- is this a test? Is it standards based grading or are you going to factor in participation, etc??? LOL!


  4. Participation is definitely a factor, but I see it as a life skill, so I will take it out of the academic grade. :-)