Simple Sunset Celebration


A few days ago my DH and I celebrated my birthday on a weeknight. We dropped in at Skyloft in Laguna Beach and enjoyed the rooftop view and generous happy hour appetizer portions. Then we got gelato to nibble on as we strolled the boardwalk. A lovely tourist from Spain offered to take our picture and she caught us in a wonderful light. I’m lucky to have enjoyed many wonderful birthday celebrations, but this simple and low-key early evening with my best friend was one of the most special. Sometimes less truly is more.

As the sun set, we drove home and I spent the rest of the night entering progress grades that were due the next morning. *sigh* Life is… ironic. But mostly in a really good way. 🙂

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October is Filipino American History Month


My parents came to the United States as medical interns from the University of the Philippines to the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, a suburb of Chicago. After having four children and establishing themselves at the University of Chicago as a PhD in pathology and a pediatrician La Rabida, a tertiary care facility, they became citizens. We moved to Northern California, and we children all pursued advanced degrees, becoming a lawyer/teacher, nurse/manager, engineer and human resources training consultant. 

Filipino American History Month celebrates the work ethic and strong family values that have produced similar success stories in the Filipino-American community for over 4oo years. I’m very proud that my family, my “calabash” aunties and uncles and cousins, my community (geographic and online)  have contributed so much to the immense mixed salad that is our diverse and democratic country. May it continue to strenghthen and grow!

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Waxing and Waning Tweets


I’ve been disappointed in myself that I haven’t been as active on Twitter or in my favorite Twitter chats or Google+ communities since school began. Then I realized that I’ve had to develop different priorities. To everything there is a season. At least I’m still listening to education podcasts. And I’m confident that I’ll resume active participation in my online PLN (professional learning network) as I create a comfortable and efficient school routine. It takes time. 

Teachers constantly  shake their heads at non-teachers’ envy of our “summers off.” Ironically, my summers are even more packed with professional development activities than the rest of the year. This summer I presented at two conferences, attended two, put in 3 days of site and district learning, plus spent countless hours of thinking and planning and dreaming about the coming school year. Granted, I also attended San Diego Comic-Con and visited Washington DC. But I collected there ideas to share with my students.

My commitment to and enjoyment of growing in my profession remains steady even though my activities wax and wane. Twitter can wait.

Two Days at SDCC

imageThis July I got to experience Thursday and Friday of San Diego Comic-Con, thanks friends in the awesome crew of usual suspects with whom I’ve been attending scifi and fantasy conventions the past few years. While briefer than I’m used to, the two packed days fed my soul. Unlike past years, I did NOT spend the night in line for epic panels in Hall H or Ballroom 20. Nor did I venture off-site to ticketed shows or fan parties. I didn’t even spend more than an hour in the Exhibit Hall. SDCC is too huge for any one person to describe, but I’m happy with my experience.

The short notice precluded any fancy cosplay, but I did  walk around Friday with Bitty, my fire lizard, perched on my shoulder. We’re pictured at a Punished Props meetup on Friday with professional cosplayers Bill and Brittany Doran. I also brought her back to her home “colony,” (Imaginarium Galleries) where the dragon maker autographed her feet and I sprouted the cat ears in my photo above.

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My favorite panels this year were with artists, from a panel with MAD Magazine icons like Sergio Aragones to the new Betty and Veronica writer/artist Adam Hughes. I could knit while watching them created under the document camera. Also, it was worth waiting an hour or so in line for the Indigo Ballroom to see Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) and Ted Danson promote a new show called “The Good Place” and the cast of “Silicon Valley” just being hilarious. I made a plug for educators’ roles in combating sexism in movies, and the panelists had all teachers in the room raise their hands. No, I can’t go an hour without mentioning my “kids” or finding connections to my curriculum.

Knitting content: just received a new shawl kit in the mail from Craftsy called Drachenfels. It’ll be next up after I finish the baby blanket.

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No Time Like the Present


Photo credit: bina.au

Me, again! Not uncommonly, I go through bouts of writing paralysis and writing … prolificness. I found the past school year incredibly demanding and the summer crazy busy, but have decided that writing is too important to me NOT to take out a few minutes at least five days a week to document my thoughts. 

On family:

  • Appreciate each other daily. The health challenges plagueing our elderly parents have forced me and my DH into thinking about our own planning for the future. Perhaps this is TMI (too morbid info) but our Christmas gift to ourselves last year was a funeral plot and prepaid plan that saves a ton of money on an inevitable expense. More importantly, we are more careful of our own health. My Pokemon GO obsession comes just in time to encourage me to walk around more.

On work:

  • I love my job! I’m so lucky to be an educator. My DH and I have a standing bet that I can’t go more than an hour at a time without mentioning “my kids” or considering how something I just learned can be adapted to my classroom. I spent a ton of time as both a presenter and participant in a number of EdTech workshops this summer from CUE Rock Star Teacher Camps and a GAFE Summit in Riverside to a day-long training with Code.org and planning with my grant partner Freya on how we’ll use our 1:1 Chromebooks in our classes next year.
  • Breakout EDU is a fun, fabulous tool to teach and reinforce key skills in future-ready students. THIS ARTICLE emphasizes that automation cannot replace a human’s ability to, among other skills, solve mysteries.

Knitting content: 

  • Op-Art baby blanket. I’m making great progress for the newest niece, Adeline. Hope she won’t be too old to appreciate it by the time I get it delivered!

The Importance of Being Empathetic

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My Brit Lit juniors just finished studying  The Importance of Being Earnest, hence, this  post’s title. I participated in two stimulating Twitter EdTech chats yesterday where empathy emerged as a key element in student engagement, problem solving, and the design thinking process. I love the diagram above as a reminder for how to approach so many issues in life.

Empathy also came up during my journey home from visiting my mom in Fremont. The news that my flight was delayed an hour made me grumpy. Seeing five people in wheelchairs at my gate and assuming they would all take a long time to board made me grumpier, I’m ashamed to admit. Then I observed them more closely. All were elderly; most were cheerful; several appeared to be traveling together. I thought about how my frail mom refuses to travel by air any more and reflected on how wonderful and spunky these wheelchair travelers were. I want to be them when I grow up. I empathize.

You Can (Sort of) Go Home Again

image.jpegMy family lived here (155 Surmont, Los Gatos) for one year when we first moved to California in the 70’s. There were no bushes and only newly-planted trees at the time, and both the top floor (visible), the floor below it, and shrubs on the slope were open to the street. It’s located at the border of Los Gatos and San Jose, very near Union Middle School, where I attended EdCamp San Jose. Afterward, I took a nostalgic drive to the old neighborhood and my former junior high, now called a middle school.

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I’m probably not alone in having less-than-idyllic memories of 8th grade. It was hard enough being an outsider at a school where everyone else had already attended for a year, but I was also an academic odd fish. I rewrote an Agatha Christie novel into a screenplay and performed it with half-hearted “volunteers.” I aced all the grammar tests. I read voraciously. My English teacher finally made me his “teaching assistant” to give me something to do while he delivered curriculum to my classmates.

Happily, teachers today are able to differentiate more effectively than back in the day. I love a motto that I’be heard but whose attribution I forget: “I want to be the teacher I needed at that age.”