Saturday, November 16, 2013

...grow. Bloom where you are planted!

Maybe your choice is not, where you are planted. Maybe location is non-negotiable. So look for inspiration to grow using the resources surrounding you, right at your fingertips. Take some time to seek new avenues of learning and to learn from others. Your pathway to reaching your greatest potential today may be right in your own community or it may be globally via Internet. Turn over a new leaf and cultivate your garden right away. Get ahead of next year's planting season, and prepare healthy goals today, for mind body and spirit. You will bloom where you are planted with a touch of "inspirational thinking" fertilizer!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Reflections on My CLMOOC experience

Being a part of the Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaborative, CLMOOC, has been refreshing this hot, steamy summer. Most of the National Writing Collaborative has found me travelling into the Southern region of Ameica and in and out of family homes and summertime festivities.  Thus, my mooc writing and sharing time has been limited, but I have tried my best to connect and share! I am extremely grateful to the administrators of this project. You made my first mooc most enjoyable! Thanks for making every participant feel so welcome.

My learning curve went  way off the top in only my first two weeks of the project  as I explored and enjoyed vizify, vine, google maps, mapmyfitness, google plus,, twitter, and began to learn what is a MOOC and how it works.

My CLMOOC pathway lead me to  mixing and remixing  fitness, literacy, and making connection with others voicing a similar interest. I learned from one of the Administrators of the project, Terry Elliot, about a good book, Spark, discussing the value of exercise on brain growth.  Reading the book has challenged  me to push harder in my own personal workouts.

Blogging about my #clfit goals of fitness allowed me to cross paths with a  fitness expert on my Tumblr microblog. What a delight as she keeps me inspired to keep working at getting fit.. 

As I move beyond the completion of this project,  my credo sums it up, I will continue to combine: learning, exercising , and sharing. (vizify) There is power in getting fit with the encouragement and help of others. Everyone benefits as we get fit together. 

Framed learning activities of making and remaking, inventing and building upon the work of others, and sharing equally in this process is a positive, forward approach to learning. These activities open wondeful opportunities for teaching organizational skills and sequencing.

What's your story? How can you tell your story? How can you connect with others and outreach? Share your adventures.  Brevity sells...6 word stories, 6 sequence pics, and 6 second videos. It is fun to share stories that leave people hanging and figuring the conclusions on their own.

 I will continue to pursue better approaches to fitness and learn to annotate better and faster  with google maps, my next step in learning -- perhaps another Mooc!

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Credo to Live By

 My Credo

Love to learn; learn to live; and live to love.

How can we be lifelong learners?

How can we live healthier lives?

How can we care about others,
encourage other to be learners
and to live healthier?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Got my gear; gettin' ready; go!

CLMOOC Week Cycle Three

Learning Principles 

Isn't that what any type of learning involves? Get the tools -- get prepared -- go learn! Today, we have the ability with the Internet to learn and do, share, connect and inspire others!

That's my hopes with this Creative Learning project. I have learned so much about biking! I have pushed my limits to build endurance and strength. I am finding others with a similar interest locally and I am having a great time sharing and connecting with others around the world about this project.

Along a bike path, running trail, walking area, just wonder what type of natural and historical landmarks, museums, ecosystems, educational opportunities, and points of interest exist? During this project, I hope to explore this question and keep doing so after the CLMOOC is completed. There are many ways to find answers and share with others. An answer to one question opens opportunities to further activity and learning! As I began mini-blogging my hopes for better fitness in Tumblr, a fitness expert favorited my blog. Now, I look forward to reading and learning daily from this resource, regarding diet, exercise, and life style. You see,  learning is always on a curve uphill!

For sure I will keep pushing the limits of fitness on the bike and hope to see some progress in strength and endurance. Maybe even, the pounds will drop. In my neighborhood and local area, as I bike, I look for aspects of the area to learn about. Talking with others, libraries, museums, etc. offer those opportunities to learn. Photography, blogging, marking Google Maps, and conversations with others allows the opportunity to connect and share fun learning. This is, likewise, a great thing to do on vacations!

This collaboration, Making Learning Connected (#clmooc),  is based on learning principles that believe learning activities should be interest-powered, peer-supported, and academically oriented. Join me in this fitness effort in your area or on your next vacation! Do you find getting fit interest-powered? I hope so! Seek encouragement from others! Getting outdoors for some refreshing exercise will open up a world of opportunity to learn even more. What's the history of this area?What can you learn about the ecosystems of this area? How can you share your learning with others? How might you be able to connect with others in your area or globally to improve community living. You will see learning is an uphill journey!

See you along the way!

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Welcome Sight

All Dogs Asleep
Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Greetings from the Welcome Center for Dogs. Notice the bike trail along the right hand side! What fun to have pooches greet me along the way with a few yelps as I bike beside the park! There are many beautiful four-legged friends that just love to come out with their proud owners to socialize. The residents of Altoona, Iowa, are fortunate to have this park. See the two sections; small dogs to the left and large dogs to the right. What joy for dog lovers to see their pets playing and having fun!

Play was, likewise, the focus of the Making Learning Connected - National Writing Project during this past week. For me, I enjoyed layering graphics on photos and creating a fractured nursery rhyme version of Hey Diddle Diddle to compliment the final picture. My goodness, how time flies when having fun. I was still working on my project until after midnight!  For others in this week's assignment, realtime and virtual toys were changed, contorted, animated, and repurposed. The goal for the week allowed  people across the globe to have too much fun and make connections with others doing likewise! Isn't that what learning is all about--being creative, producing, and sharing?

Additionally, during the week, I "played" at creating a map of a 13-mile bike run that I successfully biked --not once, but twice!!! This map was downloaded to my computer and then uploaded to Google Maps. What a surprisingly smooth transaction. I dropped a marker of the Altoona, Iowa, Enabling Gardens on this map. See if you can locate this on Google Maps. Likewise, I will want to include this Dog Park on the map!

During the week, I enjoyed increase use of my Tumblr and Blogger accounts. Creating Vizify cards was fun as well. So, you can see, as I lifelong learner, I am doing just that. I cannot wait to see what I learn this next week!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dog, Cow, and Moon Make Three

The dog, the cow, and the moon make three
A shimmering tale, long told 'bout the team they be!
Look up, towards the stars
Circling our world as they swirl!
Hand-in-hand and fully-charged,
Offering light, hope, and good dreams 
For every boy and girl!

My make for Week Two
The Connected Learning 

Quoting  from the summer learning and sharing blog: Make With Me!

"For this second Make Cycle, one option is to grab an old toy─maybe something that you played with as a kid, or something from the bottom of your kid’s toy box, or perhaps a something that you rescued from abandon in a thrift shop or a yard sale. Study it, consider what it is, think about what it can be. Gather the things necessary to hack it, remix it, or remediate it─your analogue and/or digital tools. Take it apart, put it back together in a different configuration. Add something. Take something away. Make it sparkle. Make it move. Make it light up. Create a digital story, a fan-fiction mash-up, or film a stop-motion animation."

My make involves a picture, a graphic, layering tools in a photo editing program, and a big imagination in fracturing this nursery rhyme! Enjoy! #clmooc

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Google Map - a Route I Hope to Master (on the bike!) -Wk 1 of #clmooc Intro

View Larger Map
This past week, I joined a MOOC to keep me learning this summer! I am combining fitness, online learning, and connection! #clmooc #clfit

And so, I managed to build an introductory page at Vizify. On my intro, I have added a Vizcard with my #clfit plan of action! I had planned to use Animoto for my Connected Learning "make" introduction; however, I learned that this free site adds less than it once did. I have an inactive subscription there, and so I decided to explore Vizify as many others in this collaborative were bragging about it!

I used Flickr to give an introductory set of pictures to the fitness trail that intrigues me most, at the moment. Enjoy the look!

I am using Google Blogspot and Tumblr to journal my summer story and MOOC learning! I learned the importance of tagging and naming the RSS feed. I am thankful for this project showing me the importance of tagging within blogs!

I am using Twitter (@vanhookc) and Google Plus to connect and share with others in this learning community!

I, also, learned how to set up a column in TweetDeck to keep up with #clmooc posting!

I have learned a lot this week! And so, now, I need to think about hitting the real-time trail!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Keep the lights on and the doors open in our libraries

Keep the lights on and the doors open in our libraries.

Keep these facilities staffed with trained personnel, qualified to properly manage libraries. Upon entering a library, watch community members of all ages enjoy the variety of spaces available.

Children and little tots love the library. Where would we be without summer reading programs and challenges to keep reading skills and practice in order? Children’s services offer story times, craft times, storytelling competitions, and great books for children and parents to select for home reading + connection time. These are hands-on activities that are still critical for families today. These events are not the same on a digital device.

Teens need safe spaces to come together and make connections. They need community areas to be social. Upon entering a teen or pre-teen space--sit awhile and watch students enjoy their learning space--talk to them and listen to them--pick up reading materials and share what you are reading, seeing, and thinking. They will appreciate this interaction. They really do enjoy mingling with the older folk! For these teens and pre-teens, they often say, “The library is like home away from home.” They might even use this time to teach their elders, useful digital skills!

Adults need libraries to continue life-long learning. Libraries and librarians offer needed face-to-face interaction on good reads, informational services and resources, and help with digital needs.

The library can’t be beat for offering something to everyone.

Libraries are places for people of all ages, interests, and talents to unite and share, learn and grow, build new relationships, respect, and develop an insight into the lives of others.

Creative Commons Image by C. VanHook

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Originally uploaded by vanhookc
Keep a green tree in your heart
and perhaps a singing bird will come.
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Southern Midwest Teacher Librarian Reflects

Oh my, do I ever have a Southern accent!
Time to reflect on libraries.......

Thank you for the interview, Altoona Herald-Index!


Originally uploaded by vanhookc
These are the things that make me happy: love for others, sparkle, colors in our world, and chocolate! How about you?

Of course my list goes on and on....grandchildren, sunshine, photography, books, laughter of children, puppies at play...

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Happy Days of Teaching

When I decided to retire, in early 2013, I began to write about my past teaching experiences at Southeast Polk in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, over the past 18. Journaling brought to light many treasured memories  in teaching at every single grade level. If you so desire to celebrate these joys with me, here goes... It's 12 pages of happy times!

Hello Iowa!
It’s 1995; the sign says Iowa, you make me smile! We are crossing the Mississippi River to a new home, new jobs, and new schools. Bob’s been transferred to the Newton location of the Maytag Company and Carol’s been hired in the Southeast Polk Community School District. Mr. Thomlin, principal of Four Mile, welcomes Carol to her home-based office – a huge room filled with old videos and cassettes, needing to be weeded—making way for a technology explosion like no one could begin to imagine! During the year, Carol will venture out to meet six other outstanding principals, a great team of library clerks, elementary staffs, and students. She will serve them all as media specialist. Simple task, yes! She just arrived from serving five schools in Indianapolis as Media Specialist. Here’s the story for my next 18 years at SE Polk.
My memory treasure box overflows with heartwarming experiences and thoughts of making new friends along the way.....and if you want to read more

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sad Changes in Education over Forty Years

Today I am a retired teacher. Since 1972, I have taught all grades and many different subjects. My teaching career spans from Tennessee to Indiana to Iowa! For the past nineteen years, I have been a teacher librarian. For the past decade, I have been a teacher librarian in a gigantic high school! I am now retired  and will sadly miss the kids and my teaching colleagues! I do pledge, however, to continue supporting the educational needs of our youth and to show the value of school libraries!

An apple to improve education!
Here are the sad changes, I have seen, over forty years....

10. Schools rush to buy new technology.   When one software version or device becomes dated, schools rush to replace. Allow students to bring their own digital devices and connect. Provide for those who need. Teach flexibility in regards to Web 2.0. It should not be about a single company’s apps, software, or devices; instead, schools must embrace online technology, teach the "ins and outs of cloud storage,"  and use a variety of web bookmarking, note taking, citation making, and graphic editing tools with students-- so to offer students what best promotes learning and preparation for their future. 
9. Lack of interest in the well-planned national celebrations of learning is sad…such as National Poetry Month and Teen Read Month. It goes like this…. “I wish I had…,” “I should have…,” “I didn’t hear about it…,” “I didn’t know about it.” People don’t read announcements. People don’t keep calendars up-to-date, and then it’s too late--the opportunity passes quickly. Staff and administrators should encourage participation in these national, state, and local events and activities. Students will remember participating in these activities far longer than sitting in a classroom seat or staring at a computer screen!
8. Expect our national standards' curriculum to emphasize the basic “core values of humanity.” Global communication, listening to the thoughts of others, respecting what others think, and being considerate rather than defensive, should top everyone’s TO DO list.
7. Digital learning does not take the place of face-to-face communication and personalized education. Technology should not allow the pencil--or pen--and paper to go by the wayside. Why not regularly write a few quick notes of appreciation to others or take the time to visit them, in person, to show gratitude—just because? If we practice and model this, maybe our following generations will think it of value! These are opportunities that build upon a core understanding of humanity!
6. Leadership is not about “showing power” but about helping every human being on the face of this earth achieve their greatest potential.” Let the power be a shared endeavor--one that focuses in leading and lifting each other. It’s in helping one another that we provide the lifelong educational memories worth treasuring.
5. When new leadership enters an organization, they must LISTEN to the wisdom of each individual, regarding his/her best contributions to the organization. Everyone needs to feel their VOICE counts. What are the positives that are already in place before the new leaders arrived? The new leadership should build foundations on these current successes and weave these strengths into their desired plan of action.
4. Are we honoring the creative teaching skills and expertise of every educator? When teachers are advised to use the same methods, materials, and testing models, learning becomes stale and creativity in the classroom becomes suppressed. There are those that would argue to move towards an online education with minimal teachers and space required.  I would argue that students learn from the "face-to-face" interaction with all kinds of teaching styles within the school building. This is learning to cope and succeed in life, in training. It allows for spontaneous interaction and communication. This is critical learning at its best. 
3. Pretesting, post-testing, testing, and more testing places a huge emphasis on test scores rather than nurturing the students’ abilities. Testing takes time away from valuable, authentic instructional time in the classroom. Testing is minimal in meeting the critical needs of developing individual worth. Some believe a formal pre-test sets the student up for failure. We must develop teaching strategies that utilize healthy vibes, smiles, and language to provide positive direction and feedback, so that our children feel success rather than failure from the start. Formative assessment, throughout a unit of study, does just that – molds success. It encourages the learner to develop a positive attitude and an eagerness to want to learn, achieve, and improve.
2.  Keep the lights on and the doors open in our school libraries and keep these facilities staffed with trained educators. It takes qualified personnel to properly manage libraries. Upon entering a school library--sit awhile and watch students enjoy their learning space--talk to students and listen to them--pick up reading materials and share what you are reading, seeing, and thinking. The library is the inner heart and soul of the school and offers great value to the learning process – as the students have said, “My school library is like home away from home.” 
1. Libraries are places for people of all interests and talents to unite and share, learn and grow, build new relationships, respect, and develop an insight into the lives of others.