17 January 2020

Hi! My name is...

Over the years, I have written a few times about my Internet handle. I even have some background on it on one of the pages for this blog. While my reasons for keeping it have shifted over the years, I realized several years ago that if I give it up, then that makes it available for someone else to use...and then have all my content associated with them. So, while this consequence was unanticipated when I first started blogging, it's a fact of my online existence for as long as it lasts. I have no regrets and I have nothing to hide.


Looking at this tweet (full list here) from this date 10 years ago, reminded me of the power and pitfalls of aliases. While I originally addressed my comment to @scicurious...she has since rebranded (@BeeBrookshire) to reflect her given name (Bethany Brookshire)...but someone else has taken up the original mantle and is using her first username now. (Confused yet?) While I doubt she really cares at this point—she has 63.5K followers, after all—it is only one of several examples of changes I've seen over the years as people adapt their username to new purposes. And who knows what the future holds? Maybe there will be easier ways to update our usernames and retain all of the previous associations. Right now, I'm just going to sit tight on my claim.

16 January 2020

Early to Bed, Early to Rise


According to my adoptive mother, I have always been a morning person. Even now, I am up early (around 4 on workdays) and am much more productive and focused at that point. I realize that it is not the norm, but over the years I have learned to accept that I am just not built for a more typical schedule.

Today's tweet (full list here) from seven years ago reminds me not just of my oddball circadian rhythm, but I also like it because these are my favourite sorts of tweets: strange little connections I make in my mind and then someone else joins in. People on the interwebs are far more clever than I. It's great to make connections with others, if only for a moment in time.

I must admit that I am looking forward to the upcoming long weekend. Not because I will be sleeping in, of course, but for the opportunity to set schedules aside, listen to some music, and find that path to peace.

15 January 2020

A Kind of Hush

It's been a challenging forecast this week. Monday night, when I had insomnia and was wandering around the house at 1 a.m., there was no snow falling or accumulated. But at 4:30 when I got up again, there were lots of fat, fluffy flakes to enjoy. I didn't realize it at first because I could hear the traffic outside and there were no changes to the speed of cars heading down the street.


There is very rarely much snow in this spot, but 20 miles to the north in the town where I work, there is often a different story. Tuesday was no exception. School was canceled. And while I was still expected to work, I decided to stay home until the sun was up. While I don't know what today will hold (I suspect it will be an icy morning and we may open late), I like remembering times when I can stay snuggled up at home and enjoy the peaceful view out the window.

14 January 2020

Eyeo, Eyeo, It's Off to Learn I Go

I started blogging 15+ years ago because there were conversations and connections I wanted to have that weren't available through my day job. Did I find what I was looking for? It has been so much more than that. I have had so many opportunities and met so many fantastic people from this small start. It has changed my life in ways I could never have anticipated.

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to go to the Eyeo Festival. It is not an education conference, but one that sits at the intersection of code, data, and design.


Why did I go? In part because even all these years later, I am looking for conversation and connection that I don't find at work. Because schools shouldn't be a separate unit from the world we produce in the students who leave our walls. Because I want something bigger than what I have right now.

If it wasn't for this conference, I would not have pushed my data stories project forward. I would not have become someone that others seek out for ways to communicate with data. I would not have a vision of what I want to do with my life over the next 10 - 15 years.

I have been thinking about going again this year. When I went last time, I paid all of my expenses, asking my work place to let me count attending this as work (i.e., I didn't have to use vacation days). I suspect that if I go again, I will have to make the same arrangement. But it is an investment and I think it's worth it. I will check out some costs and then make a decision in the next week or so.

Why don't you meet me there?

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

13 January 2020

Why so serious?

A threat of snow for the next few days is looming in the forecast. I am always a bit dubious. Sometimes, a large event is predicted and we barely get a dusting...and other times, like last year, it's only supposed to be a couple of inches and we got close to two feet of the fluffy white stuff. But I am just going to treat this week like all of my plans will be on track (but keep a backup plan in my pocket).

This means that starting on Wednesday, I will be heading out to all six of our elementary schools over the course of six days to do benchmark testing for close to 1600 K - 3 students. I don't go alone, mind you. My office assistants and I take a small army of paraeducators and "sweep" a school each day. It is intensive and exhausting work, but I have to say that I really enjoy it. I like being in the schools and I especially like meeting students.

I also like the serendipity of it all—like the snowfall amount, there's no telling what I'll see or hear along the way. That's why, when I saw this tweet from four years ago, I knew it was the one to post for today (full list here):


The office where I took this picture no longer exists, but I am forever grateful for this random bit of fun as I attended a meeting. These bits of creativity and play are more commonly found in elementary schools. I'm not sure why secondary schools take themselves so much more seriously. Secret smiles (especially ones with googly eyes) sprinkled about a building always make for the best memories.

12 January 2020

I Just Can't Quit You

Before I started my current job, I had my 8 - 5 gig and a side hustle. The side hustle was to build presentations for a variety of clients (more on that in a recent post). They hired me for Prezis, but my favourite presentation tool is PowerPoint.


While I am in a very committed relationship with Excel—one which is occasionally stormy and requires couples counseling—my PowerPoint sidepiece is always a pleasure to be with. I use it to build documents, create simple graphics, and of course, develop presentations.

Although I haven't officially had my shingle out to accept commissions for design work for 5.5 years, I have two clients who consistently check in with me to see if I am accepting projects. Both of them contacted me on Friday...and for whatever reason, I decided to help this time around. I have been pretty firm about turning down extra work, even if I enjoy it. But I have some projects of my own that I hope to launch this spring, and perhaps a little extra cash would motivate me to breathe life into them. Being creative on a deadline is a muscle I need to start exercising again.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

11 January 2020

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

In my current role, I oversee testing throughout the district. If it's required by the feds, the state, or by us, it's in my wheelhouse. This includes gathering data for student placement in our Highly Capable (HiCap) program. For kindergarten and first grade students who are nominated, we use the Peabody Picture Inventory as one of the data points. I schedule time with teachers to go and work with individual students to complete the testing.

There is a spiral bound book that we use. Each page has four pictures, like the one shown below. I say a word like laughing and then the student either points to the picture or says the number underneath the picture. There are sets of 12 pages and we keep going through the test until the student misses 8 or more in the set. Then, I score it so the committee can consider this information, along with a host of other data points, to determine placement.

I love doing these tests...and students are always very engaged. I always spend time chatting with the kids prior to starting the testing. Even though not all nominated students are identified for highly capable services, they are all very bright and they have different things to share than other students their age. One first grader turned out to be so mature, I wondered if we should grab a beer and talk about the economy instead of looking at the picture inventory.

The tweet below comes from this day two years ago (full list here) when I was doing this testing, and it is a story I have told many times.


I don't know if his parents would have appreciated his oversharing as much as I enjoyed it. I will say that he has not been the only student I have tested that associated the term beverage as something that is the exclusive province of adults. While this has absolutely no bearing on the testing or its outcome, it's just been an observation for me about how students pick up vocabulary.

One thing I am hoping to do in the next year or so is expand our identification of students for HiCap in grades K - 2. Right now, we are in compliance with state law...but that is also a very low bar. We don't have an identified program and because identification is dependent upon nominations, we are no doubt missing many students who don't have an advocate. That has to change. I don't know what that will look like just yet, but it's on my radar.