Over the last several years, I have tried many different ways to teach coding to young kids. Until December, nothing really got the kids going. That's when Hour of Code became available. There were a few things I did before I got them started, including teaching binary numbers and coding without computers. But with those under our belts, we jumped right into 20 hours of coding. Every kid was able to finish their 20 hours and by the end of the semester, the students were easily making games in Scratch. It was a great success and the first time I felt like the kids were able to really be successful. I look forward to taking another class through the process and helping them go even further into creating apps for use on
One year ago, I started a journey. With my husband at my side, together we decided to try and better our lives so that when we someday got to go to Disney with our family, we would be able to enjoy it without hesitation and panting breaths. It was not a quick journey. It was long and painful and it was just how I imagined a marathon must feel.
It was May of 2013. Since January, I had been watching a friend who started boot camp, drop pounds daily. She was doing something I had never been able to do in my life, lose weight. I had never considered myself obese, but I was. As a matter of fact, I was morbidly obese. Okay, saying that makes me teary-eyed. I was so big that it hurt my stomach to bend over. It hurt to breath when I knelt down. When I pulled my knees in close to my chest... they never got close. When I looked down, I could only see my belly. I hated it! I hated everything about what became of my body. Only my husband's help and his continued motivation would get me through these first few months. And they did.
In May I started to walk. I documented the entire journey in miles so that I would know what I had done. I documented it so that I could see visually what I had done and where I was going. Below you can see my first three months and the frequency of my walking. The purple represents walking events. The red represents biking events and the blue represents running events. For five weeks, I was very focused and determined to be faithful.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Sometimes Friday, I also did 30 minutes of bootcamp. I have a friend from High School named Laurie Alves, who runs her own training camp called Stronger Fitness. I met with her at 6:30 am 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes of exercises online. For the first three months there where very few weights involved, which was a good thing, because I couldn't do much. I was good to not want to throw up at the end of the 30 minutes. I liked it because it was private, I didn't have to worry about looking stupid or not being able to do something. We worked via webcam to get the job done. Within these three months, I could see the difference. I was losing weight. I was losing inches. I was finally seeing something change when I never had before.
With a slight, newfound confidence, in my schedule, I decided in late July to join the North Texas Runners running group. As far as running is concerned, it was the single best thing I did. Had I not joined the group, I wouldn't have met so many motivating people willing to pull me in and show me the right way to do things. Although I began running in mid July, my mind didn't consider me a runner for quite a bit longer. You can see by looking at the calendar's below the transition from walking (purple) to running (blue) is starting to take shape. Some weeks I was a little bit more eager than other weeks, but I continued to push through. My schedule may not have been consistent, but my persistence was and it paid off quickly (if you consider turtles quick).
I decided sometime in August that I was not going to run the Showdown in October as a 5k, like I had done so poorly and untrained the year before. I was going to run the Showdown Half Marathon this time and I was going to do it right. I was finally training the way I wanted to for so many years. Between bootcamp and my long runs on Saturdays, my distance was finally starting to increase and my body wasn't falling apart. It would have been such a great start to my half marathon journey, except I couldn't wait anymore. So in late October, feeling more mentally ready than ever, I decided to join my fellow NTX runners and run the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, before the Showdown Half.
This picture was taken over 5 months into my journey. At this point, I had lost close to 30 pounds and was on top of the world. I ran and finished this race in record time. This was my second half marathon ( the first being 1-1-11) and I ran this one in 2:46:41. I was so proud because my first half was 3:07:37. This was a big jump and I knew I probably couldn't get much better.
With this newfound confidence, I steamed full power into the next race. I was so excited, I just knew I was going to rock it. In October, the Showdown arrived. The morning of the race, I didn't have a good feeling. Before the PBF Half, I had focused so closely on drinking and eating properly. I fell off the wagon on this one. I knew I wash't drinking enough, but obviously there was a lesson to be learned. At mile 8 I got a stabbing pain in my shoulder blade. By mile 9 I was nauseous and starting to hyperventilate. By mile ten I thought I was not going to finish. I was walking the rest. For the first time in months, I was walking again. I was so mad at myself. I finished the race by the grace of God and a fellow runner dragging me. I should have immediately seeked medical attention, something I look back on and regret immensely. It could have turned out so bad. Thankfully it didn't. But now I knew the repercussions and it will not happen again if I can avoid it. I finished the race in 3:07:04. What a let down to come so far and then fall so far again.
Lea Anne Turns 40
I don't really have a smile on my face every time I run. I honestly don't always enjoy going out for a run, but I do it. I do it today because I know in some tomorrow I will want to run again. And if I don't run today, tomorrow might not be possible.
Before I knew it, I had 6 half marathons down in less than 4 months and I was no longer walking during the week. The best part was my New Years Eve run resulted in such a tremendous boost to my PR. I finished in 2:18. In my mind, I knew I had reached the pinnacle. I dropped my time by 49 minutes from the race before. No way. I thought, "I may never run that fast again, so I am going to soak in the joy today." A little bit of Nancy-isms set in.
And in true Forrest Gump Style, I continued to run. I didn't know where I was going, I just ran. I ran The Cowtown Half, The Rock & Roll Half, The Fairview Half. And once again I reached a milestone. I PR'd again. In the Fairview I ran in 2:17:13. My time continues to get better. It doesn't happen every race, but it continues to happen. I now know that part of running and success at running is confidence. I don't go into every race feeling 100%. I felt sure that the Fairview would be a tough one for me since the route is similar to the Showdown, but we can't always predict the outcome.
It was during these last few races that the itch to try something else started to bubble to the surface. So many friends were attempting a full marathon. I didn't think I was ready but I knew it was something I needed to try. In college, I watched in awe of those that could run that far, never expecting that someday I too would attempt one.
The date was set for the OKC Memorial Marathon and within a month of my last half, I took it head on. I know I didn't prepare perfectly. I know my body fell apart the week before the race. I know everything was telling me to just wait and complete it in December. However, this was what I needed to do to finish out my year of transformation. Before the race, I knew it would not be a great time. I knew things where not in my favor. But I also knew, (after my husband convinced me), that I never walk away. I may physically, but mentally, I will be back to fight another day. And so I did. After three hours of sitting in a parking garage sheltering from a storm. With a 2 hour delayed start to the race and a steamy starting gate, I began the race. The early morning run became a midday run and the steamy start turned into a sunny hot day. With temps nearing 85* I ran... for 6 hours. It was not a time to shout from the roof tops, but with 35 MPH sustained winds and 50MPH gusts, and 7 miles with straight headwinds I would not complain about my time and just be thrilled that I finished at all. Although I couldn't run the last few miles because of the bronchitis aggravated be the winds, I did sprint the last half mile. If not for me, for my friend Olivia who is always there at the end with me (in spirit and in army voice).
I did it. I finished out the most amazing year of accomplishments in my life. While this doesn't compare to getting married and having my little boys, for me it was huge! Those smiling faces above have made this year one that I will never forget. This year has been just like running the marathon I just finished, At times it was stormy, steamy, hot, sunny and windy all at once. At times I didn't think I could do any more. But I pushed. I will continue to push. I may not run a half marathon every month. I may not put all my miles in every week, but I will not give up. I know somewhere in me there is a 2:16 half waiting to happen. I know there is a 5 hour marathon in there too. Maybe someday soon I can share with you about those. Until then, I will continue to run the race set before me.
1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
I get that prize every time my feet hit the pavement!
Our district has fallen in love with Sundry Notes! Sundry notes for teachers, Sundry Notes for students, Sundry Notes for administrators... yes, sometimes one size does fit all! Earlier this year, one of our district teachers started using the program and shared it with a friend who shared it with another until a wildfire had erupted. Along the way, one of the teachers decided to use it with his students. During a campus visit, I saw what his students were doing with it in science and decided to try it out myself. It didn't take long for me to find the pleasure in the app as well, so I too passed it on. We decided with so much interest, we ought to show the administrative council during a meeting. Many of them instantly saw the potential as well and Sundry Notes was added to their iPad immediately. It's an epidemic here in McKinney! A good one.
Sundry Notes is a glorified notebook with many bells and whistles. Like many of the note apps, it allows you to take text notes. However, this app allows a lot more than just that. With the pro vernon the user can add audio, photos, tables, drawings and symbols. In addition, and this is my favorite part, the user can connect wirelessly with friends on the same network and share a document they are creating. The collaborators can then do things simultaneously while not messing up the others work. The notes can then be saved in stacks just like notebooks can hold multiple papers. Students can create multiple stacks and when they are ready, share it with others in many different cloud storage locations like Evernote and Dropbox. The sharing can allow the teacher to grade the document and allow the student to share it for others to see as well.
While many consider uploading to dropbox an added step, you will find that the students will catch on extremely quickly and the benefit of easy storing a bonus. Most of our teachers using this have created a classroom drop box and given each of the students a folder. The students then upload their documents to their folder while not interfering with anyone else's work. Although it is not a private storage amongst classmates, it is not available to those who aren't logged in. To clarify, a teacher would log into the account on the student devices making it unavailable to those without a logged in device and without the password (ie. the teacher). If you are concerned about a student erasing another student's work, it is possible to do. It simply takes some classroom etiquette standards to ensure this does't become an issue. There is always one, but he/she also eats their pencils and loses their library books... fortunately, we never give up hope on them!
All in all, it is a fantastic App. It has many app competitors and some are great apps as well. But to my knowledge, nothing does it quite as well as Sundry Notes. There is a free version to test out and you can certainly get your feet wet with that, but if you have a few pennies in the change jar, throw caution to the wind and invest in a great app today. You will use it next school year!
This week I received an e-mail from the Instructional Technology Director in MISD sharing these great links from El Paso ISD discussing the new Technology Application TEKS.
Segment 1: The New Technology Application TEKS: An Introduction
Where did the TEKS come from, what are they based on, and how do they compare to the old TA TEKS? What are the NETS-S Standards that the TEKS are based on?
Segment 2: The New Technology Application TEKS: The Six Strands
What are the six strands that make up the new Technology Application TEKS? In this segment, we look at each strand and how the TA TEKS are related to the NETS-S standards.
Segment 3: The New Technology Application TEKS: How to Read the TA TEKS
Most teachers know how to read TEKS, but this segment reminds us how the TEKS are structured. Introduction Statements, Knowledge and Skills Statements, the Strands, the Student Expectations, and Including Statements are all part of this segment.
Segment 4: The New Technology Application TEKS: Comparing Strands Across Grade Levels
Even though the strands are the same from grades K to 8, the student expectations change dramatically from grade level to grade level. This segment looks at the student expectations and how each grade level must be taught in order for students to become truly technology literate.
I had a few minutes today to learn the layout of weebly website editor and was thrilled to see how easy it is to use. Right now I am typing my first blog on my iPad and am seeing opportunities for next year. Although editing the website itself is not iPad friendly, blogging through the iPad obviously works okay... as long as its using text only. I think I need to look further into this and see how we can make this work in the iPad classrooms... Especially since these classrooms still have computers in them. Have you used this with iPads? If so, contact me. I want to see what you're doing!