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Screenshot 2014-01-20 15.59.31Today is another big life-event today. My childhood home, the only home I ever knew, goes on the market today. I moved there when I was nine months old.

I can remember where both my sister and brother took their first steps and the door my brother broke by throwing a shoe at me. There’s the front stoop my sister ran over while backing out of the garage, then told my brother to fix it before mom and dad got home. She destroyed it so bad, that it took six months to repair.

Every tree at 1217 was planted by my father or mother. They now are bigger than the house.

There was a time that it WAS the party house in the area for my parents, me, and my siblings. Who could forget a bus load of fifty kids, from a visiting youth group, was dropped off at the house for a party of hundred high school kids!! The neighbors freaked out!

The original color of the house was turquoise, and was often called “the aquarium.” When  my mom decided to repaint the house, without thought she looked over at the paint cans at eye level at the store and picked yellow. No practice paint chips, just “I’ll take fifteen cans of that yellow paint.”

This was the place to hangout since my mom and dad always had an open door and beds for anyone who wanted to crash.

My sweet sixteen sleepover party of thirty-six girls was epic! My parents had an-all night party upstairs with their friends and I had a live-band downstairs with the “girls.” Then there was the “New Year’s Eve” party I had secretly without their knowledge. I tired to pick up as much as I could, they figured it out the moment they got home. I was grounded for two months.

The parties my parents had in the basement outdid any parties the “kids” had. The basement had state-of-art “hi-fi.” Every four years my parents had a election party, hence the red, white, and blue painted walls. It would go on until a winner was declared. 1976 was the last election party and declared at 2:30am. In addition, my dad put in a bathroom so he could watch the Bears game uninterrupted by having to go upstairs to do his business.

My dad always says he would die in the house, which he did in 1980. My grandmother would outlive him and live here for ten years, six years after my dad died. Both my sister and I, with our spouses, would call the basement “home” for months, while we were building our houses. My niece and nephews lived here for six weeks, while waiting for their new home. They even commented that they consider 1217 their “backup” house.

Air-conditioning was not put in until 1991. My childhood hot summers consisted on running cold water on my wrists in the middle of the night in the “pink” bath. When it got really bad, we all went down to the basement with the dehumidifier, that was only if it was over 100 degrees.

My mom is selling it to move, along with Steve and I, to Florida.

The neighborhood has changed and the ranch homes are not as cool, so it might easily be bought by a builder to be torn down, even though it is in excellent condition. My mom is totally ready whatever happens. Memories are stronger than pictures, so I am not going to take last minute pictures.

Thank you 1217, those numbers are forever branded to all who lived here.

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Taking a Right Turn

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God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. He blessed me with a man that supports me. His “Yes, go for it,” was always the cheer from the sidelines in all the things I ever wanted to do. He has allowed me to sour the heights and encouraged me to partake in endeavors I could only dream about.

Steve was offered an amazing package to retire after 25 years at Stepan the last days of December, with retiring on his anniversary date of February 3, 2013. We have always been a team, team players, and team cheerleaders for each other. So, when the opportunity arose for his “TIME,” I have to say “Yes, go for it.”

Our plan was always retire to Florida, but that was YEARS off. We quickly reassessed our lives, put our home on the market, thinking it would take 4-6 months to sell. I would have time to slowly retire and transition to complete retirement. But, I would still work at Golden Apple Foundation until August 2014. The house sold (with an incredible bidding war) in two days, cash. They wanted February 1, closing, but we managed to negotiate it to February 14. We have to be out of our home Friday, February 14, PERIOD.

Both Steve and I are retiring on Monday, February 3, 2014. 2-3-14 (how cool is that number?)

We are making a radical change by selling off everything, moving to Florida, and creating a new simpler life. Gone are the long commutes and busy life of working, travel, conferences, committees, and presenting. We are in the sweetest part of our lives, in excellent health, and the financial ability to retire early. My father died at the age of fifty-three and my mother worked until the age of eighty-two. We see this as a time to really enjoy our lives together with our immediate families and close friends.

Months ago, in August, I applied and was accepted to present and conduct a workshop at Florida Education Technology Conference, January 28-31.  It is considered the premier EdTech conference In the nation. To present there is quite an honor and I presented there last year. I woulld fly with my mother, since she no longer can fly alone, to Florida in order for her to visit with my brother and his family. So, when my mom and I return February 2, Steve and I will be packing up and leaving Illinois.

I never dreamed that all of this would happen so fast. We are still spinning and ready to take the right turn. I guess when you meet someone and get engaged in six days, selling and planning to move in fourteen days, is what you get.

There will be a transitional period of time where I will be back and forth between Florida and Chicago. I am not turning my back on things I involved in with Golden Apple Foundation and Illinois Computing Educators. I will still be helping with the Golden Apple 2014 Selection Committee, the Golden Apple Celebration of Excellence, mentoring Golden Apple Teaching Scholars, and presenting at Illinois Computing Educators Conference and committee. However, I am resigning from all other committees effective immediately.

Dom Belmonte, my boss at Golden Apple Foundation is truly the real deal. In announcing my leaving, he allowed me to completely break down. People that know me I have had some “interesting” relationships with administrators and bosses. To have him as my last boss is truly a God thing. There is a reason why many people want to work here. The past two years at the Golden Apple Foundation I have been blessed in sharing my vision with an amazing group of people who see education as I do. The Foundation is truly an oasis of positive educators making a difference in teachers and children’s lives.

We also will have an opportunity to move with my mother so she can participate her youngest grandchild’s high school experience in Florida. She will be moving out of her house of fifty-eight years, also creating a new life. She will be able to re-connect with my brother’s family, who live in Florida, much like she did with my sister’s family during their high school careers. Of course, she won’t be working at the same high school they way she did with Mary’s kids. But, I can make her completely available to participate in seeing Will grow into a young man. This winter has been extremely difficult for her and the need to move to a warmer climate is important for her. This is a gift I can easily give and it is the right decision.  Anyone who knows my Mom’s story knows her unwavering commitment to her parents in their lives and now I am replicating it for her.

The straight road of life is seen, but making a right turn, a turn off the road to a place you don’t know, don’t know what will happen next, is simply the best. I did when I came to Sunset Ridge School, taking the job after nine years at Aptakisic-Tripp School District. I did with Steve, only knowing him for six days before getting engaged and marrying him six months later. I did it when I put in the MIDI lab at Sunset Ridge School in 2004, then changed my teaching from the traditional general music class to a music creation class using technology. I am doing it now, leaving an incredible job at the Golden Apple Foundation. We moving to an area of the country we have only visited a couple of times, not reinventing ourselves, but creating an entirely different life.

I’m leaving the world of education, music education and technology. I participated in a connected world of educators, musicians, and other like-minded people. I’ll be leaving that world of being super connected in social media. I wanted to leave on top of my game and now it is time to step aside allowing others to lead.

I created a new way of teaching music and music technology, then I was allowed to participate in a “big girl” career at an educational non-profit. Now I am going to completely redefine retirement.

Thanks everyone for all the cheering, connecting, learning, and helping a little “uncelebrated” soprano/flutist to become a passionate musician and educator. I never look back on what was, only what could be. Now is the time, I can feel it. It is THE right turn.

I have woken up – Wake me UP http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/avicii/wakemeup.html

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Getting Started with Your iPad for the Non-Techie Crowd

Published on December 10, 2013 by in apps, iPad
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GettingStartedI recently met with ten elementary teachers who recently received iPads for their classroom at the beginning of the year. They each have a teacher iPad, with six classroom iPads. Many were tech-phobic and nervous about how to use them.  Yes, they had received excellent professional development through their district. Sometimes it takes an outside person to come in and do the exact SAME thing that an inhouse person would do. It is now December and they are just ready to learn. It takes awhile for the non-techies to grasp the new technology and create with the iPad. I was given an expansive list of apps that were available to them through the district. So, the lack of apps was not an issue. In addition, they could also download apps they so desired. The real issue – HOW DO I GET STARTED??  

Posted the information, don’t project the information

If you want your attendees to USE their iPad, don’t project what you are doing, POST it on a website.  I set up my website with all the links and information they would need. This helped those who wanted to go ahead and “do their own thing.” Here’s the link.

Drill and Kill

I ask them what they have done with their iPads with their students and what their expectations are for our time together. They talk about being tech-challenged and their hope of learning something.  Almost all of them go directly to apps that are drill and kill. This is common for the beginner. Simple apps that work and “consume” the time. Well, that’s about to change.


Google Earth

I then ask the question, “Remember the first time you saw Google Earth? What did you want to do? Where did you want to go” EVERYONE always says the same thing…. “My house.”

Yes, people want to make their experience personal. That’s how you start with beginners, you personalize the creation process. So, the drill and kill apps are put to rest. Good-bye!

It begins

It Begins with Literacy

I discuss literacy. Literacy using words, pictures, and music to create transliterate media. Every educator tackles literacy and has their students write stories or research information. So, making them extend the experience puts them all at ease. I explain they need to create a movie with three pictures that are personal or important to them. (Remember Google Earth) They quickly run around and snap, snap, snap. Of course, beginners all use the portrait mode. I show them how the landscape mode is the preferred mode for movies, and they totally grasp it. SEEING the difference, they quickly redo their pictures and edit them. They are seeing purpose AND seeing immediate results.

  Three-picture Video

They quickly put together a three-picture movie, adding music, titles, and even doing voice-overs. The success rate is 100%. They have forgotten to write anything down and quickly realize they have to recreate the entire experience on paper for themselves. They ask me again how it is done. DOING first, then recreate. I get them so involved in the process, that they don’t write things down, they are creating and learning. I am modeling how a classroom lesson should be presented.

YouTube Preview Image   Getting Files from iPads

Of course we discussed how to get the completed files via email, so they could be posted on a secure site. They first set up their personal email account and quickly realize that students will have access to it. “How do I delete??” There are lots of FAILS here. They realize that each one of them will have to set up a dedicated gmail account in order for students to email the movies. We discuss protocol of labeling the files and the possibility of digital or paper record of  the files that are sent.

  Five-picture videos

Finally, I discuss the five-sentence videos. They are class-created stories, with five groups of students, each taking a sentence, creating a picture, then recorded by the teacher using ONE iPad.  Click here for details.


The important thing is to LISTEN, to what they wanted to do. One teacher was talking about her weekly movie she emails parents. She wanted to know how she could have more student creation in the process. I show her smore,com and she is so elated she couldn’t wait to show her students. She immediately began to create a poster and could see the possibilities of replacing her weekly movie. But the replaced technology will be interactive, with links, pictures, and informational.  Smore also works great on an iPad, an added bonus. It is a digital newsletter that you can embed sound, moves, and links.

  Beginner to Advanced Beginner!

The Inservice took ninety minutes and everyone left with something in their bag that they felt they could use tomorrow.. They no longer are using the iPad to drill and kill, but to create literate movies. The “that’s easy,” was the common comment.  What they didn’t realize is they no longer can say they are beginners. They have purpose and direction to create on a personal level.


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