#NJPAECET2 Live Blog: Effective Reading Strategies for the Content Areas

Session: Effective Reading Strategies for the Content Areas
Presenter: Heather Rocco
Slides are here (will post the link once Heather tweets it out!).

Love this spectrum by Margaret Early (1965)!
The research shows:
ages 0-12: Reading for unconscious delight
ages 12-15: Reading to test against main character
ages 15-22: Reading for philosophical speculation
ages 22+: Reading for enjoyment

Book rec:
Notice and Note (Kylene Beers & Bob Probst)

Quote from Bob Probst: Rigor doesn’t reside in the text. It’s what you do with it. If you look at a barbell, the rigor doesn’t come from the weight itself; it comes from trying to lift it. <– love this metaphor!

Quotes from Notice and Note
“Rigor without relevance is just hard.”
“To raise the rigor, you have to relevance.”
“To raise the relevance, the students must be the ones asking the questions.”

Reading Strategy
*Project chart with random words from an article that students are going to read. Tell students to do their best to put the words/phrases together to make a sentence.
*Heather took examples of the sentences and typed them into a chart that was projected on the board.
*She told us to work with a partner and pick one sentence from the list and write two or three about that sentence.
*We shared our questions, and Heather typed the answers in a chart (next to each sentence).
*Heather gave us the article from which the words originated and told us to read it. While we read, we were supposed to keep track (metacognitively) of what we were doing. I noticed right away that I was eagerly checking to see if my sentence was right. I caught myself reading the content with a really clear purpose. I also found that I was doing some compare and contrast between what I had predicted and what the text was actually about. I can see kids loving something like this; it adds a certain level of excitement as I read about a topic that might otherwise not feel relevant.

Reading Strategy (Read Around)
(great pre-reading strategy)
Find the one line…
*that interests you
*that confuses you (what line do you have no idea what the author is talking about?)
*contradicts your thinking
*best summarizes the text
*that shows the counterclaim
*(and anything else you want)

All you ask them to do is just highlight the one line that [does whatever you told them to this time].

Then do a read around. Have every kid read their one line out loud. They are not allowed to change their line even if they have the same line as someone else.
Five participants read their lines around, and we then discussed what happened. Say “Ok listeners, what did you hear?”)
*summarized the whole article
*pulled out the main points
*found things we didn’t notice before
*reinforced important parts of the passage

Reading Strategy (Poster Activity)
(good during reading strategy)
*Identify excerpt
*Paste in the middle of large paper
*Give students markers
*Write, but don’t speak
*NO TALKING!

I have done something similar to this before (thanks, Uzay!), but I’ve always put different extracts on the posters. What I loved about this variation is that every poster had the same extract, so it really gave a great overview of all the different interpretations. I found myself doing a lot of re-reading to help get more context for my classmates’ comments. The no talking rule also really helped find some quiet time to process.

Have to get to my next session- thanks for all the great ideas, Heather!

#NJPAECET2 Live Blog: Leading Literacy

Session: Leading Literacy
Presenter: Heather Rocco
Slides are here

I was extremely excited for this presentation for a few reasons. #1- Heather and I chat on Twitter, and I was excited to finally meet her in person! #2- I love literacy and I love leadership; yay for one presentation that combines them both! #3-

Heather started off by having participants doing some thinking and writing on their own (yay writing!). She asked us to think about literacy instruction in our school, specifically:
*What is going well?
*What needs improvement?
*What are your department/school goals?

I won’t share my answers here because they ended up being somewhat personal. Isn’t it funny how just taking a few minutes to write about something can bring up all sorts of realizations and feelings that you didn’t know were there?

We then moved into some sharing with partners and then with the larger group. I loved listening to everyone and seeing where they were coming from. There’s something comforting in learning that the issues we’re seeing at my school around literacy are not unique to us; it seems like there is a paradigm shift happening in education now (for better or worse), and everyone is trying to grapple with it in a way that will best help young people. This is a good reminder for me that, all politics aside, school is for the kids. That’s it. (#quotesfromPenny) (I miss Penny.)

Heather referenced Doug Fisher & Nancy Frye’s gradual release of responsibility model. The model is a teaching framework, but Heather says she looks at it through a leadership lens. She breaks down her leadership plan into four stages: hunting and gathering, mapmaking, building a fire, and setting them free.

Hunting and gathering
*data collection/analysis: combination of quantitative and qualitative data (including anecdotal evidence like talking to kids and teachers)
*observation trends: be mindful of trends in classroom observations
*survey: survey teachers to see what they want to work on for the year and what they need from their leader(s)
Important: if you create a department that they don’t think they need, they will never buy into it. Wherever possible, create a goal that department members come up with.

I keep hearing this over and over in my leadership classes, and Heather reiterated it today: Don’t say anything in a meeting that you can put in a memo. In fact, Heather doesn’t call her faculty meetings “faculty meetings.” She calls them “opportunities for learning.” I will take this with me as I become a leader!

Mapmaking
*identify most pressing issues
*plan yearlong PD in meetings (and use your rock star teachers to share their expertise. The admin doesn’t always have to be presenting PD; use teachers!)
*utilize small groups (and mix the groups up from time to time!)
*request input from seasoned and new teachers
*be transparent (be honest and open; share why you are doing what you’re doing. Just like kids, teachers want to know that everything has a purpose.)

Building a Fire
*Department meetings
Start meetings with something fun (good news to share, bring in a poem, share a book that they’re reading or that the kids are reading, etc.)
Meetings are mostly discussion based; she provides guiding questions and bullet points for teachers to focus their ideas. The meeting closes with an exit card to get some feedback on what teachers want to discuss at the next meeting or where they are in this process.
*Lesson plan conferences
Pick a focus for the year for lesson plans (example: assessment). Meet with teachers on a regular basis to talk about lesson plans (about 30-45 minutes). Sit down, talk about plans, talk about kids, etc. It’s a great way to individualize instruction for teachers (can help Ts find resources, books, articles, experts, etc.).
*Demo lessons
Offer demonstrate lessons for your teachers. You can offer to go into the teacher’s class and teach a lesson in something teachers need help with (and teachers take Heather up on this). This is also a great way to keep admins in touch with what’s going on in the classroom these days. I really love this idea, and as someone who worries about being miserable if I left the classroom, it gives an opportunity to stay connected to kids.
*Workshops
Find workshops that you think teachers might be interested in and pass them along. Then teachers can bring everything back to school and pass it along!
*Share resources
Stay in the loop (thank you, Twitter!) so you can send teachers links and resources. Create files and documents on Google Drive to build an archive of resources.

Independent Reading
I’m so excited Heather addressed this because I really struggle with finding time for SSR, and I KNOW how important it is!
In her district, Heather’s English teachers give their kids 10 minutes of independent reading at the beginning of the period every day. I liked how she told the story about how long it took and how it wasn’t something that happened right away. There is still hope!

Setting Them Free
*Opportunities to share (in meetings, via email, etc.)
*Continuing PD
*Showcase teacher expertise
*Establish PLN (Twitter!)

Heather closed with what I needed to hear: SLOW DOWN!! My problem is always that I try to do too many things at once.
“Choose one thing you care about and resolve to do it well. Whether you succeed or not, you will be the better for the effort.”
–William Alexander

And remember, TAKE CARE OF YOU!!

Book recs:
*Book Love (Penny Kittle)
*The Book Whisperer (Donalyn Miller)

Great session, Heather! Thank you! :)

#NJPAECET2 Live Blog: A Framework for Leading: Five Exemplary Leadership Practices

Presentation Name: A Framework for Leading: Five Exemplary Leadership Practices
Presenters: Jimmy Casas and Jeff Zoul
Book recommendation: The Leadership Challenge

Just a disclaimer here…this blog post is mostly a big long list of quotes from Jeff and Jimmy. They kept saying such awesome things that I couldn’t process much beyond quoting them! Haha.

I love the title slide; it references “intentional acts of everyday leadership.” This reminds me of my times in Mallorca, where I learned that leadership is something that can be taught, learned, and practiced. One doesn’t simply become a leader accidentally; it’s something intentional that one does!

We started by some thinking about culture and climate. Jeff asked us to write a list to fill in the blank in this sentence: I want to be involved in a school that emphasizes a culture of ______. Here are my responses:
*literacy
*learning
*trust
*risk
*discovery
*joy
*humor

Video: Drew Dudley – Everyday Acts of Leadership <–watch it – it's so good!!

Jeff: Every teacher is a leader; they're leaders of kids. Amen!

Lollipop moments: something said or did something that fundamentally made your life better.
As school leaders, we can do simple things that make teachers' lives better (simple does not have to mean small).

MICEE (5 exemplary leadership practices)
Model the way
Inspire a shared vision
Challenge the process
Enable others to act
Encourage the heart

Jimmy said there are two things he’ll keep coming back to throughout the presentation: MODELING and MINDSET.
Jimmy: “It’s hard to be a leader. It really really is. It’s even harder to be an excellent leader.”

If you want to be great, you have to model every day what greatness looks like, and you have to have an everyday mindset of greatness.

Leaders have on standard, and that standard is excellence. That takes an enormous amount of energy, passion, commitment, and dedication. But if you really want to be great, you can be great if you want to.

Greatness only knows one level; it’s right here! *puts hand above head*

Challenge to classroom teachers for Monday:
Stand at your door and high five every kid coming in. Say to them things like, “you are great!” “you are awesome!” “you are the best!” “you are the best of the best!” “you rock!”
And then do it every day for the rest of the year and watch what happens to the culture of your classroom.

No really, DO IT!!

There is no reason why our cultures can’t be cultures of awesomeness. But you’ve gotta keep bringin’ it because that’s what leaders do.

Leaders think long term; they don’t think short term. Your mindset HAS to switch to long term because thinking short term will kill you. That’s how we have to think about our kids when we’re championing our kids.

Carry the banner: bring a positive voice every day about the organization (inside and out of school). You don’t go to the grocery store and gossip about school. You have to maintain positivity about the organization ALWAYS. Stay positive!

Inspire a shared vision
*Infuse a sense of pride
*”Students first” mindset
*Student recognition

What you see in the main entrance shows what your school culture is about. Trophy case? Plaque? Mission statement? Artwork?

When you do student recognition, make it so big and so visible that people will walk in, see it, and say WOW.

Encourage the heart
Two a day: two personal notes to two teachers per day (morning routine). Could be personal, tell them why you value/appreciate them. Love this idea! Could leave notes in mailbox or deliver them in person and say thank you back. When you do this, teachers start writing notes to each other and the kids. How’s that for a culture?

Sharing student voice: Interview kids- (Tell me what you like about our school. Tell me what the challenges are in our school. Tell me how welcome you feel in our school.)

Making the calls: Called every parent and thanked them for sharing their kids with us. Take notes on every reaction from the parents and share that with the teachers.

Jeff talked a bit about the most important habits of a school leader. He said that no matter how many times he asks people what the most important traits are, the answers are almost always “encourage the heart” and “model the way.” He made the great point that if you don’t walk the walk, everything else you do just comes off as a gimmick.

This is just a random thing that I loved: bow-tie Wednesday! What a fun way to bond kids/teachers and add to the culture of the school.

Excellent session- thanks, Jeff and Jimmy! Loved the participants, too! So willing to share, and I loved hearing the stories about leaders who have impacted them. Yay!

#NJPAECET2 Live Blog: Using Informational Text to Teach Literature

Session: Using Informational Text to Teach Literature
Presenters: Audrey Fisch and Susan Chenelle
Twitter: @UsingInfoText
Web: www.usinginformationaltext.com

The session started with a TED Talk about collaboration (I wanted to link it here but can’t find it at the moment. Will keep looking). I liked how the video set the context of how important collaboration is to get things done. The speaker in the TED Talk referenced the idea of “not enough” and how collaboration helps overcome obstacles.

My favorite line from the video is “Leggo my ego.” When you collaborate, you have to put your ego aside. It takes a certain amount of humility to get comfortable with the fact that not all your ideas are the only ones that matter. Remember that everyone at the table has a voice.

The session then moved on to talking about what informational texts are and how we use them. People use info texts in different ways:
*history: primary sources
*science/English: articles to give background on certain topics (example: using articles about leadership to teach Lord of the Flies

Using informational text is more important that PARCC and CCSS…it’s what we want to do! This is an opportunity to make connections among subjects. Engaging informational texts give us a chance to make our content relevant to today’s student.

(I just realized this might sound disjointed. Please keep in mind that I’m writing as the session goes; I’m not focusing too much on transitions and all that for this particular post.) :)

Point from a participant (history teacher): So many teachers don’t want to get rid of the content (so many details to know in history), so it’s hard to teach the literacy skills. How do you get teachers to understand what reading informational text is? It doesn’t mean just reading a chapter in a textbook!

Audrey Fisch noted that the need for content is relevant in all subject areas, but we can use literacy instruction (info text in particular) to enhance instruction of content.

Awesome comment from participant: We have to rememember, historians don’t become historians because of reading a chapter in a textbook. They were inspired by discovering things from reading and uncovering real historical documents. If we focus only on textbooks, we might lose the magic of falling in love with the content!

Another great point from the crowd: There is a big gap, particularly with secondary teachers, in literacy instruction. Would love something like a 5-class high school literacy cert for teachers. It’s not that teachers don’t WANT to teach literacy. However, they weren’t trained on how to do so. We need more resource to help teachers support students with the skills needed for CCSS, PARCC, and beyond.

Resource to use: NY Times Learning Network Blog (My kids know I love me some New York Times!

To keep in mind: It’s not ok to just give the kids an informational text and say “ok read this and make the connections!” This is something that is hard, and we need to have a structure/framework to help use info texts in engaging and relevant ways.

Steps for using informational texts
(sorry I’m not using real bullets/numbering; I don’t know how to do that in the WordPress app):
1- Find something interesting (that relates to what you’re already teaching).
2- Use excerpts. You do not have to use every single word in every article. Think about what will be distracting to students; what is outside your particular focus?
3- Design some fun vocab activities to pre-load unfamiliar words and ideas in the info text. This way the text will not become an impediment. Remember, every kid in the class doesn’t have to complete every single exercise. (Vocab skits are great because they hear the word being used 20-30 times in 10 minutes. That will get them walking out of the room using the words.)
4- Create questions to help kids notice important concepts and textual features.
5- Create PARCC-style multiple-choice questions to check for understanding (little bits of practice along the way so they won’t be intimidated by PARCC when it comes to the test).
6- Create follow-up writing and discussion activities that ask students to articulate key ideas and textual evidence.

I’m so thankful that Audrey and Susan gave us a packet of goodies to help put together lessons like this; I will definitely use the templates and guides for writing these types of questions! Can’t wait to share them with Sarah and Kelly back at home!

So when should you use informational texts?
*When your students are having trouble engaging with content
*When you want your students to have greater background knowledge, but you don’t want to lecture them
*When you want your students to be better readers and thinkers (when, as the presentation slides said, is always!)

Had a bit of a segue (but it was totally relevant!). We talked a bit about how challenging using a dictionary can be for students. To be honest, I never really thought of that; I guess I just assume that everyone can use a dictionary. People made great points that we want kids to be in the habit of looking up words when they read (I try to reinforce this with my students every day). Electronic tools are great to help build this habit because they always have their devices on them. Teach them to use them!

Love this idea!!
Set up a Google news alert for articles about your topic (the example from Susan Chenelle was an alert on the American Dream for when she teaches Gatsby). This way Google will do the work for her and email her once a week with current events related to themes she’s working on. Love this idea!

Remember! Lots of articles come with videos; start with showing the video to get them thinking about the topic. Do whatever it takes to connect with an idea!

I wanted to embed a few pictures, but the wifi isn’t cooperating, so this is about it! Thanks for reading; I think live blogging will be my new obsession. Now I don’t have to go home and do it later! Woot!

PS- We ran over time a bit, so I’m not proofreading yet. If you catch a typo, I’ll go back and fix it tonight or tomorrow! :)

El ultimo fin de semana (I know I need an accent mark in there somewhere, but I don’t know how to make them on my bluetooth keyboard)

I am sad to report that this past weekend was my last one here in Mallorca (until next year, that is). The good news is that it was an excellent weekend, so I don’t feel that it was wasted. My time here has been amazing; I am so glad I did this program. It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. Remember, no one ever regrets the things they do, but they do regret the things they DON’T do. So before I get into my post, I encourage you to jump at opportunities that present themselves in your life. You won’t regret it.

Friday was a good day in class. We met the students who we are observing and had our pre-observation conference. The conference was supposed to be about an hour, but I have two groups, so I got about 30 minutes each. I really enjoyed meeting the students and working with them; I learned a lot from them, and I think (I hope!) they learned a lot from me. It made me feel that being an educational leader is still teaching, which, of course, is what I love to do. The pre-conference felt oddly like the conferences I’ve had with my students about their topics for papers and presentations. I felt like I knew my stuff enough to offer some good feedback and suggestions. Initially I was extremely nervous about this assignment (I started sweating when I read it on the syllabus in June), but I’m overall pleased with how it ended up going.

To celebrate, I met up with Ligia at the beach (our Friday routine!). This time there were a bunch of us, and we spent a little time at Charlotte (one of our favorite cafes) beforehand. We then went swimming in the sea and took a bunch of goofy pictures with Ligia’s underwater camera. (Side note to myself for next year: Get one of those cameras! I was going to get one after Ecuador last year, but I forgot all about that!) As usual, it was a beautiful, relaxing Friday afternoon. Here are some of our photos (thanks to Ligia for WhatsApping them to me! Is “WhatsApping” a verb?!?!).

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After the beach, Crystal and I came home and unwound for a bit. We considered going into Palma but ended up going out to eat at a seafood restaurant in Cala Mayor instead. It was quite delicious; we both had the sea bass, and it was one of those fish that still had the bones and head and everything. Normally that would scare me, but, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking more risks with my food, so I dug in. I mean, how could I not eat a fish when literally looking at the Mediterranean Sea?! I’m glad I got over my fear of fish vertebrae because it was very tasty indeed! Shockingly, I didn’t get any photos of my dinner this time. I was too busy enjoying it, I guess!

Saturday was a very fun day; Erin, Crystal, and I went into a town called Soller. It’s one of those very Spain-like places with a big open market and lots of amazing food and merchandise. It may or may have been the day I spent the most money on jewelry for myself because I may or may not be an extremely selfish souvenir shopper. Ahem.

The train to Soller is really cool; it’s an old-time wood train that chug-a-lugs all the way from Palma to Soller. The best part was the two-mile tunnel through a mountain that basically made its own air conditioning (have I mentioned that it’s hot in Spain??). There was such an awesome cold breeze as we went through the tunnel, which was much needed. The train stopped on the way for us to get a few scenic shots, which was fun.

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We had a great time in Soller, browsing the market and picking up some great items like terra cotta bowls and pretty jewelry. I loved the lady who worked at the terra cotta pottery place; she talked to us a lot and told us how to use the bowls. She said we can do anything with them- they can go in the oven, on the grill, or on the stovetop, and you can put (almost) anything you want in them. She suggested pasta, veggies, or meat. The one thing you can’t do is cook a tortilla espanola (sorry, can’t find the n with a tilde on bluetooth keyboard) because potatoes don’t cook well in these particular bowls. But everything else is fair game. She also explained that the flat ones are made from molds, but the ones with rounder bottoms are hand made (I have one of each kind). I love that I was able to find them to bring home because pretty much everywhere I’ve been in Mallorca has had these bowls. I will think of this trip every time I see mine at home. Yay.

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We saw some lovely scenery on the way home from Soller, and we were lucky enough to get the cushy seats on the return train! It was a great way to see more of the island while shopping and being social. The whole outing was overall a great success! And what’s better is that we found chocolate con churros when we got off the train! Trust me, chocolate con churros is the best way to end an excursion!

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We came home and siestaed (yet another verb I made up) for a while…my siesta in particular was a long while (almost tres horas). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there really is something to this whole siesta thing! I will never again feel guilty for “wasting” time on a nap at home! I would be open to teaching in Spain for many reasons, but high on the list is siesta.

We didn’t do much on Saturday night, other than a trip to Istanbul (the restaurant, not the country) for kebabs. We stayed home and waited for Jimmy (Erin’s husband to arrive). I was excited to see him because I worked with him at Biotech and have missed having him there for the past couple of years. It was great to catch up.

On Sunday morning, Jimmy and I spent more time chatting, and then around two, Crystal and I went to the beach. The sun was blazing overhead, so in between puzzles from my puzzle book, we went for a nice long swim in the sea. I’ve been here for almost five weeks, and I still can’t get over how gorgeous the water is! It’s so clear, warm, and calm. I also love how salty it is because I can float around without putting any effort in. I’ve been doing some legit swimming, too, which is a great workout (I haven’t run in this heat, so the swimming makes me feel a little bit less lazy). I almost want to start swimming at home, but I know it’s much harder in the ocean in NJ because of the riptide. There’s not really much of a current here, so I’m not scared to go farther out in the Mediterranean.

I figured I should be more studious once we got back from the beach, so I worked on my presentation that was due today (even though when we got to class, my professor told me we were pushing the presos back). I put together my slides and took notes, so I felt pretty productive. Then we went for tapas at that place I went on my second night here (I forget the name but something with an X….Txaka or something like that). We ordered way too much food but had a great time laughing and sharing stories. I also really liked practicing my Spanish with Jimmy. He’s really patient and an excellent teacher, so I was able to say much more to him in Spanish than I have since I’ve been here. If only he could be my personal conversation partner every day!

I finished the rest of my preso when I got home (sorry for being obnoxious and calling it a “preso,” but that’s what people on the circuit call it, and I’m trying to be a person on the circuit), and then we slapped out some sleep.

So far today has been pretty good. I observed a lesson by one of my groups, and the post-observation conference seemed to go well. I enjoyed working with my students and learned a lot from them. I hope they learned something from me, too! I came home right after school because Crystal is leaving today, and I wanted to say good-bye and walk her to the bus stop. It was very fun having her here, and we find it funny that we have spent more time together in Spanish-speaking countries than in America! I just finished our good-byes, and of course now I’m about to take a siesta. So that about does it! I hope to blog once or twice more before I leave; if nothing else, I’ll be able to write about Tapas Tuesday tomorrow! Can’t wait to try some new and delicious food. I also have my second observation tomorrow, my preso one day this week, and my school improvement project due Thursday (I’m writing about teacher morale…should be fun!). Then Thursday is the graduation/end-of-summer party, and Friday I leave. :(

Ok, siesta is calling. Good night!

The one in which I try a list

Many of my students use a list format when they blog. Because I haven’t written in a week and I don’t want this post to be 8 million pages long, I will now do the same. This format is also in honor of my observation report assignment, which you will read about below.

Now that I’m halfway done with the post, I’m realizing it’s like half list and half paragraphs. Just ignore the inconsistency, please. :)

In case you were wondering, here’s what I’ve been up to these days:

Monday, 21 July
First day of supervision class (officially called SUPV 520 Staff Supervision)
I was nervous about this class because it looked like the heaviest workload, and after being double-Pennied, I wasn’t sure I could handle it (it is not nearly as bad as it looked).
Came straight home from school because I was exhausted and took a nice siesta (why are naps so frowned upon at home? They’re amazing.).
When I woke up, I made guacamole and fajitas for dinner. Not to brag, but they were quite tasty indeed.

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Started working on my first paper for my new class, and I got most of it done. I was pretty excited because I did it a day early! I don’t remember the last time I ever did anything a day early. It felt great.
I did my reading for the next day and then went to bed.

Tuesday, 22 July
Day 2 of supervision class- it’s going well, and I like the professor. Learning a lot; pleasantly surprised to be enjoying the work
I stayed in the computer lab after class to revise my paper, but that went quickly. While there, Ligia came to see if I wanted to go get my nails done with her and Julia. I jumped on that because my nails were overgrown and making me crazy.
Asked for gels and was disappointed when I realized halfway through that he was doing acrylics. Young is going to kill me. However, they look great and are a fun color. I feel artsy.
Word to the wise: if you want gel nails in Spain, ask for porcelain!
Either way, it was fun to be girly and hang out at the mall with my friends. I feel like Benjamin Button- the longer I’m here, the more I regress.
Home to relax after the mall- needed to get some down time before tapas Tuesday!
Went into Palma (finally!) to enjoy some tapas for Tapas Tuesday.
Walked around the old city a bit.

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The food was amazing! Honestly I don’t even 100% know exactly what we ate (I’ve been trying not to be too picky here)…a lot of pork, some fish, great cheese, and more. It was fun because I hadn’t been in the city yet, so it was good to see the nightlife there. It was pretty unbearably hot and crowded, but I was still glad for the experience. We went to a place called Molto Barro or something, and then another place with the word “toys” in the name. I forget what else it was called. Erin and I left earlier than the 20somethings and were home by midnight.

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Wednesday, 23 July
School again, as is the routine every weekday. We aren’t allowed to miss class (though I wouldn’t anyway).
Went straight to the beach to work on our homework. It was basically the best assignment ever. We had to go to a public place (beach, cafe, etc.) and pick a person or group to observe for 20-30 minutes (we had to write down everything we saw). Derrick, Molly, and I decided to go to the beach together and observe the same people and compare notes.
We ended up making up a whole story about the couple we observed based on what we saw. I am sorry to report that their relationship isn’t doing well, and despite their best efforts in this last-ditch-effort vacation to salvage things, they aren’t going to make it. Very sad indeed.
The funniest part was when they went into the ocean and we thought were observing them. We were diligently writing down everything we saw happen, and in the middle of it, our real couple sat back down on the blanket! The whole experience was interesting, and I learned a lot about the value of observation.
Here are my notes because I know that’s what you’re dying to see.

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After the beach, I went home to unwind for a bit and then headed to the airport to pick up my friend Crystal. She is staying with me for a few days.
I was sweaty and nervous because it was my first time navigating the bus system, but I figured it out and did just fine. The first bus was really late, so I was late picking her up.
I did get to speak Spanish to a woman on the elevator (she was picking up her friends from Valencia) and the lady at the information desk (I found out where to find Crystal by conversing only in Spanish!).
We took the bus back and pretty much went straight out to dinner with my school friends. We had tapas, and everything was fabulous. My friends went out after that, but Crystal and I just got some helado and called it a night.

Thursday, 24 July
Class in the morning.
Crystal and Maria met me and Erin at school right at 12:30, and we headed to a local market in Palma that Maria had found a few weeks ago.
I carried a melon.
The fruit samples were quite delicious, and I got to practice my Spanish some more. I’m not doing as well as I thought I would in five weeks, but I’m getting there.
I bought some Mallorcan souvenirs like terra cotta platters and an olive wood cutting board.
Went to lunch at a little cafe- had a goat cheese and watermelon salad that was amazing.
Walked around in Palma for a while, until the melon got heavy and we got hot.
Once we were back in Cala Mayor, Crystal and I went to sit and have a drink by the beach. It was a beautiful night with all the colors in the sky.
Crystal noticed a couple hugging for a long time, and we realized that the guy was proposing! It was a beautiful moment, and we felt special that we got to observe it from afar, even though I suppose we were invading their privacy in a way. The whole thing was pretty awesome; it was a perfect evening.

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Once we got home, we cooked a delicious dinner (pasta, chicken, asparagus, served in my new Mallorcan pottery).
We never ate the melon.

Friday, 25 July
It is 2:22am, and I’m starting to pass out. Will finish tomorrow, hopefully.
In the meantime, I will leave you with my favorite photo of this trip so far (photo credz to Ligia). I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty happy here.

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Two down, one to go

This will be another semi-uneventful post, as the week itself was rather uneventful. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still having an amazing time. But now it’s sort of to the point where I feel like I live here, so every meal isn’t the exciting outing that it once was. With that being said, I will still never tire of this view no matter how many times I see it:

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The end of the week was pretty busy; my final project (a curriculum analysis) was due on Friday, and I was up late Thursday night finishing it (no all-nighter this time, though! Woo hoo!). I stayed at school on Thursday after class because I wanted to use a real computer to do my tables and graphs for my project (I am surviving with just the iPad this year, but a laptop would be handy). When I sat down in front of the computer all ready to do my work, I was surprised by the realization that I actually had no idea how to analyze the data I wanted to analyze. I wanted to look at English scores for students at my school, based on home towns. I stared at the data table for a while and finally gave up and admitted that I lacked the knowledge to do that sort of analysis. I ended up being pleased with my project nonetheless and am glad I didn’t overthink it too much. I have been learning this summer that I tend to overthink and overdo things, so I’ve been working on stepping back a bit. I think that’s why I didn’t have to do another all-nighter. Yay.

After I finished at the computer lab, I went with a few friends (Erin, Molly, Derrick) for pizza at Casa de la Abuela (that was the name of the restaurant; I don’t know any grandmothers here, nor do I know where their houses are). The pizza was delish, but there was one snafu. Our purpose in going there was to get pizza for our class lunch on Friday (I was class rep and therefore responsible for organizing lunch). As it turns out, they were closed for lunch, so I couldn’t get the lunch that I had promised my class. Derrick had the genius idea of ordering a bunch of bocadillos (sandwiches) and pastries from the local coffee shop, so that’s what we decided to do. It actually worked out really well; we had the bocadillos, chips, sangria, and pastries, and we gave our professor Penny a t-shirt that we personalized with #data. The story behind the #data thing is too long to type, but trust me, it was funny, and the shirt/card combo made her cry! I had accidentally left the marker we used to make the shirt in the bag, so we all ended up signing it for her. It was an all-around successful last day, I’d say!

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After class, Ligia and I had our traditional Friday beach outing, this time with Molly and a few others. It was a good time, and we swam out to the buoy again. I have been enjoying the swimming; it’s a great workout, and the water here is super warm. It’s also nice that there’s basically no riptide, even though the water has been slightly choppy. I feel safer swimming out farther here than I would at home. I’m also wondering why I don’t swim much at home in the summer. Lame. When I get back, I want to be sure I get myself to the beach a couple times a week!

Our beach outing was followed by a trip to the Pelicano for a gathering organized by the folks at TCNJ. We were able to see Penny one last time, which I enjoyed because I was able to thank her for a great two sessions. I really have learned a lot from her, and I will stay in touch. She’s been super encouraging and has helped me see myself and the whole idea of ed leadership in a different light. I’m inspired! Here’s a group shot of some great folks from class, plus, of course, Penny.

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Another fun part of the evening was getting to spend time with Erin, my friend from Biotech. I mentioned in another post that Erin is the one who told me about the TCNJ Mallorca program, which was awesome of her because I’m so glad I’m here! I mean, the Spain part is obvious, but I also love the classes and am doing well, which is great. I’ve wanted to be back in school for quite some time, and this is the perfect way to do it. So thanks, Erin!

Here we are enjoying the lovely view from the Pelicano.

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The Pelicano party was over at 8:30, so from there we headed back to Istanbul and got kebabs (I really like those kebabs), and then we went to a place called the Cowboy Bar. It used to be a really popular bar for American Navy guys when they’d come to port in Mallorca, but they don’t come here anymore, so now the owner (an oldish British gentleman) doesn’t get much business. They only stay open on Fridays and Saturdays. I loved it, though. The second I walked in, I felt like I was back in America. There was a pool table and tons of great American music, and those neon Coors Light signs up all over (don’t worry, though, I didn’t have any Coors Light). Lots of people from school were there, and it was fun to hang out and unwind after a long week.

I didn’t do too much for the rest of the weekend; yesterday was a day for lounging around and catching up on sleep. Erin and I went grocery shopping and bought way too much stuff (we shopped hungry…never a good decision). Then Derrick, Molly, Erin, and I went for burgers at Charlotte (still another one of my favorite places). Derrick and Molly went out, but Erin and I just grabbed some ice cream and headed home to watch a movie. After some regional copyright issues from Amazon, we ended up renting Fargo from iTunes. Have you ever seen Fargo? It was the first time for both of us. That movie is CRAZY! I can definitely see why it got so many accolades, though.

Today was productive as far as school is concerned; I spent some time downloading all the files I need for my supervision class, which starts tomorrow. I did the reading for tomorrow, which was a breeze compared to my last two classes. It felt good to have it done early and then just enjoy the rest of the day. Erin and I went to the beach and then the orientation for the third session at Bellver College (the TCNJ Mallorca site). Then we came home and relaxed for the rest of the evening. I FaceTimed my mom, who is in Florida, which means I got to see my Aunt Laney, too, which was a bonus. Mom said she was looking for my next blog post, so I figured I’d write one to make her happy! And that takes me to about here, which I suppose means I’m done! Only 12 days to go- I can’t believe how fast this time is flying by! Wish me luck in my third and final class of the summer!

And here are some recent pictures of my kitty friends. They make me miss Ender and Bean!

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