Let’s talk about Pokemon Go!

Educators are always looking for an in.IMG_0696

Here are a few reasons we need to know something about Pokemon Go! before our students return to school this fall.

The technology!  This is Google Maps and Google Earth, coupled with a very intriguing GAME. Every kid likes to play. Adults do too. Not sure? Check out the local park and shopping zones during a Pokemon Go event!

The technology. (Again!)  I’m a huge believer that content, learning, and purpose should drive instructional delivery. Technology should not necessarily be used in the classroom simply because it’s cool. When technology advances a learning purpose in a significant way. I’m all in. 

That said, this technology, geo-located-augmented reality is engaging. Seriously engaging. But it is more than that. A person can learn ALOT about their environment simply by playing the game.

Want to really engage in the sites of import in your town?  I’ve learned so much about historical and significant sites. And not only in places I’ve visited this summer but also in this small seaside town where I’ve lived in for 27 years. All while playing Pokemon Go!  I’d forgotten about the all the astronaut plaques along a local street. And I hadn’t realized there were new art installations. (Check out the Kalpa by Hoon Kwak at Angels Gate Cultural Center.) I’ve also learned there is a National Geodetic Survey benchmark disc from 1978 in town. 

(Side note: I caught my first Pokemon – a common Zubat, in Rome this summer. Talk about content! I learned about far more of the ancient sites in the city from the game than I did from the tour guide!)


Saint Rocco? See the arrow in the upper box? Click and it’ll tell you. (It’s a beautiful church.)

We must use technology that is at the cutting edge of what is possible. This is the world our children are growing up in. And it is growing and changing exponentially.  Our children can navigate better new technology seemingly without effort.  

We know they’re going to come back to school having learned something about this new game.  I’m guessing it will be a popular personal narrative topic for many of our students.  

Bring it on! Let’s talk about it. 

Let’s be ready to listen to their thinking, hear what they’ve been learning and capitalize on the phenomenon.

Parents can capitalize too!  See this great post by Erin Brownfield of Ed Source.  And this is a timely post by Nick Statt over at The Verge.

How might you envision engaging students captured by Pokemon Go! this school year?

What else do YOU want to know about the game? The technology?


Posted in games, Students First, Teaching, thoughts, Uncategorized, Yes | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Culmination 2016

dolphin heart

It has been nearly an entire year since I first walked through the gates of the Sweetest Little School by the Sea to serve as the Principal.

It has been a year filled with so much wonderful my heart can hardly contain it. There have been celebrations and new connections created. Collaborative conversations have developed and grown into year long relationships that serve to buoy our students and lift our community. We have had bumps and falls as well. We expect this. Learning and growing is not for the faint of heart. It is for the courageous, tenacious and strong.

I am inspired by Scott Rocco over at Evolving Educators to share the remarks I made at my first fifth grade culmination as Principal. He so generously shared his from this year at his high school. I love listening to graduation speeches as schools across our great nation close for the academic year and students take big steps with ceremonies marking the important work they have done at school.

Like Scott, I do not share these remarks because I think they’re awesome. I share in hopes others, too will share and we can celebrate the positive culmination of the heavy lifting we have done together as a community of educators. Here is my contribution to this chorus.

dolphin balloon

I’m guessing that as you sit here today you’re thinking, “Didn’t I just enroll him in Kindergarten?”  “Didn’t I just drop her off for the first time?”  And truly, you did.  

I learned recently from that great research journal, Facebook, that we only get our children for 940 Saturdays from birth to high school graduation. So, I did some extensive calculations of my own and came to this:  From birth until this, their fifth-grade culmination, you have already had them for well over half of that.  You’ve had them for about 572 Saturdays. That’s right. So now, just 364 to go.  

Don’t blink! 

Before you know it they’ll be off to college and careers and will consider themselves full-fledged adults.  

But now here they are, completing the first real milestone of their educational careers. 

How they have grown. 

In the year I have known them I have had the great privilege of watching these fifth graders grow into stronger, more confident students taking on responsibilities as well as a few of the attributes we expect of adolescents.  

I am proud to be standing here today as I complete my first year as principal of the Sweetest Little School by the Sea with my first culminating class. And yet, I know I cannot be prouder than you, the family members here today. This is an event worth marking. It is the first of I hope at least two to four more commencement-type ceremonies in which your child will participate. (Middle School, High School, Undergraduate degree, graduate degree… five…doctorates?) This is a most beautiful beginning.

Now I would like to speak directly to the 5th-grade class.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Sir Winston Churchill.

Today, June 9th, 2016 is the day that you, as a class, are going to be promoted from the fifth grade. But you already know that. Still, have you really thought about it? Do you understand what it all means? The official definition of the word culminate is to end or arrive at a final stage. That’s it—the whole definition.  Not very impressive, huh?

I think culmination means more than that. It means you have grown, changed, and you are now ready to move on. School provides for this moving on, but much of the change, growth and readiness has to do with your attitude and your choices. Your six years of elementary school have been a time to of great growth for each of you. You began elementary school as a near baby – only five years old. And here you are, ten or eleven. And from elementary school you will take with you the memories that you’ll hold onto for the rest of your lives, not just a certificate or report card, but also rich experiences, lessons learned, friendships forged. 

Getting to this point involves not only your effort but also the combined effort and support of many people. Think for a minute about all the teachers whose classes you have been part of. Think about the office, cafeteria, yard, transportation and custodial staff. I encourage each of you to take a moment during your last day here to say a heartfelt thank you to at least one person in each one of these positions who has supported you.   

Now, take a look out here at the people who have been your greatest support, your families. You could not be here today without the support of your families. Class of 2016, please stand up for a moment and applaud for your families. Families, we thank you!  (Please be seated.)    

I have a challenge for you, the class of 2016, and parents, we’ll likely need your help too! When you enter college about 370 Saturdays from now, run to the bookstore and purchase one of the pennants from your school. Sent it home to PFMSM.  We’ll celebrate and be so proud of you. And we’ll line the halls with the pennants from you, the students of our great school by the sea.  

Students, as you leave our school, may you find your feet solidly grounded in the experiences you had here. May you spread your wings, try new things, have adventures and great successes. May you also know that sometimes you will try and not succeed. But you can only fail if you stop trying. So persevere, dolphins. Try and try again. You will always be part of the heart and soul of this school, your elementary school. 

We congratulate you on this milestone, and we look forward to hearing of your adventures when you come back to visit. Go out and make us proud! 

Big hugs and thank you to colleagues who shared prior culmination remarks with me, some of which are woven into my own, the indomitable Dr. Sandra Winchell and the amazing Lisa Saldivar!

Posted in celebration, Child Matters, culmination, Principal | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

It’s What’s Up


The school site is a hive abuzz.

We have reached the apex of our year together.

Students sit, heads bowed low over texts and computers. Pencils scritch-scritch-scritch with thoughts and responses, working to show all they know on high-stakes standardised tests.


Teachers have laid it all on the line. Anxious. Hopeful.  Pressure. Stress. 

We know what this time of year means for the school we love so much. For the students we have built into year-end kindergarteners, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth graders. We want them to shine as brightly as we see them.


Parents too are feeling the build. Expectations pile up. We meet them, mostly. When we miss it pains all involved. We reach to exceed. We reach to excel.

Students feel it too. They misstep. They struggle to comply.  They know the day by heart and yet. G. runs away from class up the steps and tries to hide.  Sometimes we all want to do that. And when you’re not yet six you actually can. We understand. We worry.

This is the time of year for deep conversations. Doors are closed for the sharing of private concerns. Individual needs and fears. Disquiet.

Sometimes the pressure threatens to cook us. We sweat. Our hearts pump harder and louder.

But we take deep breaths. We smile at each other. We trust.

you've got this!

Someone says, “You’ve got this.” We believe in each other and strengthen our communion.

We remind each other of the real reasons we come to this sacred place each day to do the best work, the most important work. The work we are each called to do.

We work to build people. These people are so new to our planet. Just five, six, seven… the eldest is eleven.

Junior school children leaving school

We know what matters. It is each child who walks in every day through that gate in the front of the Sweetest Little School by the Sea.


Posted in Child Matters, Passion for teaching, Principal, Step up, lean in, lead., Students First, thoughts, Truths | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cloudy Afternoon


Dishwasher lulling with its low

harummm rum rum


Slight chill through

through the space in the open sliding glass door


blankets cover two

a cozy “L” on the couch

Read aloud

Poems by Jack to Miss Stretchberry

bring thoughts of the dog,

My Buddy


in the house

I left two years ago


Gazing out across the city from this third story apartment

at this seaside town

I love so much

I see a WALL

move through the harbor

down the channel

toward Angel’s Gate and the open sea

stacked deep and wide

with containers bound for China


Brinnnn brinnn brinnn

in the distance a helicopter circles the coast

Dishwasher drains

Whoosh, Glurp, Whoosh.


Eyes close

Quiet breathing





Posted in poetry, Small Moment | 4 Comments

Every day for a month

This month of blogging has been quite a commitment. I have kept others waiting while I blogged away each and every day. I have put things off. I have cleared time. I have made writing, thinking, considering and publishing a daily priority for thirty-one days.

back seat

Some things have had to take a back seat.

Still, I managed to get the most important work done. File my taxes.  Take an awesome trip. See a friend. Work on the school’s budget. Hire a new coordinator. Get to physical therapy. Make a few dinners. And rest each and every night.

successful writer

I did not manage to get all my work done. Get to the post office to pick up a certified letter.See a dear friend for an important birthday. Read the book my book club read this month. Look into a much needed new cell phone. Plan for an important upcoming conference. Or have extra time to sit and ponder at the end of any of these thirty-one days.



There has been pressure.  broken pencil tip

There has been stress.

There has been growth.


WRITING … and publishing each and EVERY DAY FOR A MONTH

  • is a commitment
  • is a journey
  • is a ridiculously HUGE learning experience


WRITING … and publishing each and EVERY DAY FOR A MONTH

  • could spell the start of a new habit
  • could spell the dawn of a new attitude
  • could spell the rearranging of priorities.


WRITING … and publishing each and EVERY DAY FOR A MONTH

has enabled me to truly be able to say . . .

i am a writer

Will I sign up again next year?  Will you?



Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for this incredibly challenging month of writing. Proud to be a member of the Slice of Life Challenge community and the SOLC2016 challenge.  I did it!  Whooooo hoooooo!  For more writers who’ve committed themselves to write every day for a month click here.

SOL with website


Posted in blogging, celebrate, Poem, self reflection, SOL2016, thoughts, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments







words and power

I know this, and so…when I have opportunity, I always choose YES.

The reason?


I want to say that beautiful open creative imaginative word.

I want to grant permission. Give forgiveness. If the power to choose is mine, I choose peace.

When we say NO, we stop action.

We stop activity, possibility, opportunity.

We end abruptly. There must be powerful reason to say NO.


For YES is a symphony only just beginning to play once the sound of the word escapes our lips.

YES is harmony and life-altering, world-view changing realization.

YES is the door to all we can imagine, expect, dream.

YES is exactly what I give way to, allow, embrace and inhabit.



I will always choose



Thank you two writing teachers for stretching me as a reader, writer, person.  What a beautifully amazing 31-day journey.  For amazing posts by rock star writers, check here.


SOL with website

Posted in Poem, SOL2016, Yes | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Dominoes & Thinking Collide

“Let’s play dominoes,” I suggested.

We did.

We played three games. I lost all three.

I got a little discouraged. I began to think maybe I needed to switch up my strategy.

I placed my dominoes by common numbers, a lot like when I play cards.


dominoes, my style

My set up – kind of like cards 


We got set up for another game.

“Would you mind showing me how you set up your dominoes?” I asked my game partner.

“Sure,” he replied.

I went around the table and saw he had placed all of his dominoes in sequence, immediately playable once he began to play.


Dominoes, his style

Props to you, ST, Domino champ


This explained why it took him a little longer to be ready for the initial play, but he was able to play and converse easily throughout the game. He knew exactly what his next moves were all the way through the sequence. I had to to consider which domino I was going to play every time it was my turn.

The problem with the way I was playing was that I never knew what I was going to play next. I hadn’t played out the sequence.

My opponent had thought his play all the way down the line. He lined up his dominoes.

Suddenly I began to consider the difference in our thought processes. If one could think down a line in a game such as this, couldn’t one also think down a line in a project?  What about in instruction? How about across a week’s planning? A month? A year? A lifetime?

I’ve gotten better at dominoes since learning to arrange the tiles according to how they  play out. And I’ve gotten better at thinking too.

Often, as we grow up, our ways of thinking become set. It is easier if we follow these well-worn paths of thought. We know how to think by heart. However, dominoes taught me that when we identify someone who has insight we don’t yet have, if we are willing to ask them to share their knowledge, we can grow our own understanding in unforeseen ways.  Even in dominoes.


Posted in perceptions, self reflection, Small Moment, SOL2016, Story, thoughts, Truths | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments