Been Away Too Long

I've spent the holidays away from New York City with my family, enjoying simple pleasures and complex carbohydrates.  I've lost myself in this many days of relaxation, and though I know it's insane to say this, I'm itching to get back to routines.

I snapped these while trying to relish some of December's daylight hours.

See you soon, NYC.

31 Days Of December

I am so delighted that I've seen this project come to life.

My dear friends, Kate and Oliver, have been putting together and sharing a beautifully curated guide to quality gifts for men.  For each day in December, they list five well-made and thoughtfully designed products in a certain category.  Day One was specifically created for blue shirts, because they are perfect and versatile and everyone needs multiple (girls, too).  Two was for socks. There is a selection of lovely watches to consider on Day Nine.  Day Six gives due attention to the underrated household slipper.

I know I struggle to shop for the grown-up boys in my life, and the items they have chosen for their site are so wonderful.

Also, these kids write terrific copy.  I'm obsessed.

I'm working hard to not buy some of these things for myself.  Though this guy is really calling my name.

I'm excited to check back for what the twelve remaining days will bring!

The Last Speck of Fall In Central Park

Since these photos were taken last week, the temperature has dropped nearly twenty degrees.  A powdery white snow blanket covered the city, which was beautiful for about ten minutes until a lot of rain fell on top of it.  The current state of things is slushy and brown.


I woke up last Saturday morning with zero plans.  I called Kristin and was so happy with how easily I convinced her to put a coat on and go outside with me.

That was it.  That was the whole plan.  Let's go outside.








It really felt like fall hung out for a little while this year.  Even though it feels like we're fully in the winter now, with the sun setting before the school day is really out, the shortest day of the year is less than a week away.

Winter Trees, by William Carlos Williams

Photograph taken in Bronx, NY, on my iPhone.

A Gift Guide For Teachers: 2013

This gift guide is part wish list and part things I already have and love.  These would all make great gifts for teachers and all of the other learners in your life.

one // pretty glass containers for the quick-reheat leftover lunch that she'll have 15 minutes to devour
two // nerds love bookends.  end of story. (har har)
three // cute notebooks can be filled with all of the things
four //  how adorable are these days of the week pencils?
five //  can a planner ever be too big?  i think not.
six // these resilient little succulents would be perfect for bringing life to classroom decor!
seven //  a desk accessory to hold those flyaway paper clips.  also.  i need gold paper clips.
eight // a fun magazine subscription is a great break from student essays.  NY Mag is my choice.
nine //  a stapler must be strong, sturdy, and dang handsome.
ten // spice up the grading pile with colors.  these are my favorite pens.
eleven //  i carry my bkr bottle everywhere.  it might be the best thing i own.
twelve //  stickygram turns photos into magnets! these could be amazing on the white board.
thirteen //  motivational posters in beautiful designs are always welcome for my classroom walls.

TED Talks: Our Digital Selves

To follow our initial conversations about what it means to be consumers of digital media, I wanted the students to do some thinking and writing on their own.  Over the weekend, they chose two of these three TED Talks to watch and think critically about.  I gave them some questions to answer to help them process the relevancy and meaning of the talks.

We talked about TED topics, conferences, and speakers, and I told them how nerdy I am because I watch these for fun and stream them on my mobile devices because it's cool like that.

Number of students who had heard of TED before last week:  four.

Number of students who downloaded the TED app on their phones over the weekend and actually admitted it: two.

Baby steps.

I thought I'd share the talks I selected for their introduction and the questions I asked.  I'll be reading their responses in the next few days, and will have more to report then.

Amber Case: We Are All Cyborgs Now

  1. What changes in our society has the speaker observed?
  2. Why is she concerned about our society, specifically adolescents?
  3. Do you think her talk ends on a hopeful tone?  Why or why not?
  4. Connect to self: How do you relate to the changes Ms. Case describes?  

Nicholas Christakis: The Hidden Influence of Social Networks
  1. How did Nicholas Christakis use social media?  What did he prove?
  2. How do clusters arise in social networks, according to the speaker?
  3. What implications do these results have?  In other words, what is the value of networks?  If we’re not focusing specifically on obesity or geography, what should people know or do to think about who is in their friend networks?
  4. Connect to self:  What kind of network do you want to be in?  Do you have control over this?  How?  What do you want your role in that network to be?

Sherry Turkle: Connected But Alone

  1. According to Turkle, how do our devices affect us psychologically?  Give examples.
  2. What does she argue is the bedrock of development for teens, and why does this make the Goldilocks Effect especially troubling for adolescents?
  3. What is Turkle asking her audience to consider/change/do?  Why?
  4. Connect to self:  How have the psychological effects of technology use affected you and those around you?  What do you think is the role of vulnerability and empathy in these effects?

I know their responses will bring a variety I haven't fully anticipated.  They're growing up in such an interesting time!  

Afton Mountain Vineyards


We took a brief adventure as a family this Thanksgiving weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday.  It was so lovely to head west of my parents' little suburb, and Afton Mountain Vineyards was a real treat.  We tasted everything, then chose our favorites and sat by the fire pit with our picnic.

As restful as it is to get away from New York sometimes, the holidays can be just as hectic outside of the city.  It was nice to break away from the constant movement and holiday-makings to just enjoy being together.

Plus, they don't call them the Blue Ridge Mountains for nothing.  It's beautiful on this side of Virginia.



Digital Media Concept Map

I'm beginning to introduce the topic of digital media and our messy relationship with it with the tenth graders.  To stimulate our thinking, we made a concept map on the board to include media types, actions we take as users, feelings we have about our relationships with it, and possible fears that arise. It looked like this:

My students were born in 1998, so they've never really lived on a planet without cell phones or Internet.  They're not looking at these questions through the lens of how the world has massively changed, but simply how the world just is.  It's pretty strange for them, I imagine, to step outside of their own time and space to see themselves as users and consumers in this tremendously shifting landscape.

This conversation was the tip of the iceberg to a unit on digital citizenship, and I'm excited to see how the kids form their own ideas as we progress.

Slide background borrowed from Exploding Dog.
Concept map idea borrowed from Common Sense Media.