Going Back to College – Kind Of

Recently I’ve been wanting to start something new during my free time. I didn’t want to be under pressure, but I want to grow as a human. And I found out about free college courses one can take. This is very cool. I learned about it at the end of last year, and today I got serious about it and enrolled on EdEx.

storm clouds GIF

Those who know me know I’m a bit obsessed with weather. I have three weather apps on my phone, and I track 3-5 locations at any given time. One of the great delights in my world is tracking whichever new weather front is heading my way (yes, Maya is hitting us tomorrow).

I know, I know. To each their own, right?

So I dove into my new adventure with full intentions of signing up for a course on weather. But a very important criteria for me is to take a course at my own pace. No pressure. This is my idea of constructive leisure, after all. And the only weather courses were ones on global environment or tornadoes. Neither of which totally appealed to me. So I branched out.

It was an interesting process — reading through courses and realizing what appealed to me. There were many computer coding offerings I was tempted by, but reminded myself this is for my leisure, and I want something quite different from my work. I looked into neuroscience and nanotechnology — all great stuff! And I might do those in the future. But then I found a course that is currently calling my name. It’s called:

The World History of Modern Wine

red wine GIF

Oooooh, yeah. Wine is my definite vice of choice, and thanks to my Uncle John, I have a fascination for history. This is the description for the course:

This course explores the growth of global wine production and trade over the past three centuries. You will explore key themes in wine history and learn about the methods and resources that historians use to understand the past.

The course is designed for both wine-lovers who want to know more about their favorite beverage, and for history-lovers who are curious about the growing field of commodity history.

Topics include the differences between the “old” and “new” worlds of wine, the changing nature of taste, and innovations in wine quality. We’ll discuss the historical development of appellation systems to classify wine, as well as the importance of global trade in creating the world’s distinctive wine regions.


Is that perfect, or what? I was torn between diving in and blogging about it. You all in the blogoshpere won, and I hope some of you will be excited about courses you can take as well — I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Now I’m off to learn for an hour before I head back to work. I so love this technological era we live in where all this great info is at our fingertips. What a gift!

I Got a 70% in Blogging University

Blogging U.
And I’m 100% okay with that.

As many of you know, I tried my hand at poetry writing a bit ago. I’m always telling people how much I love Blogging University, and I was taking full advantage of the coursework by taking part in the Poetry class.

So here’s the confession: I only did seven out of the ten lessons. And it really bothered me that I didn’t finish.

And here’s the catch: One of the benefits of Blogging University  that I always rave about is the fact that you can do the free course at your own pace. It’s totally okay to skip lessons or fall behind.

But I didn’t listen to myself, and it ate at me. My pre-holiday life was filled with personal and professional deadlines, my energy level was fighting a sugar-induced dip, and my brain was starting to spin towards next year’s goals. I had the lessons on my to-do list, but kept pushing them off until the lateness was getting pretty embarrassing. Headaches ensued, and I considered staying up hours later to catch up. Not an optimal choice.

Then it hit me. I had the freedom to let go. That’s what Blogging University is all about. I can always take the class over, or write those prompts another time. It will still be free so no $ lost. Only wisdom gained.

The fact that I was three lessons behind did not take away from the reality that:

  • I actually wrote poetry for the first time in forever.
  • I learned about different poetry styles.
  • I met some seriously talented writers in my class who are now my role models.
  • I received critiques that made my writing stronger.
  • I was greatly encouraged by the community.
  • And now I have some incredible poetry to read when I relax with coffee and my WordPress Reader.

What an incredible take-away! Yeah, I only hit 70% of the assignments, but I benefitted 100%.

Thanks for the free courses, Blogging University!

See you on the Commons if you are in Blogging 101 in January 🙂

We Helped Make History

Wide Awake Club Library

There are many things I love about this rural area I have come to call my home. One of our greatest treasures is our library. Run almost entirely by volunteers, it’s the one in which we hold our WordPress meetups. Yesterday it moved. Not by itself, of course.  And not the building, really. To be more precise – the contents of the library were moved by community members on Nov 17, 2015.

CJ, Hudi and I showed up at the requested noon hour to find a room filled with adult volunteers. We were given a game plan regarding how we would help move approximately 46,000 items from the old library to the new building.

Then the real heroes showed up. As I glanced up the street on the blessedly warm, sunny day (a true gift because it could have been snowing and/or raining at this time of year) I saw a stream of kids heading toward the library. That’s right. Kids. About 120 middle school students walked down the hill from the school, along with their teachers, ready to help.

Muscles, energy and cheerful attitudes melded together to create super moving machines as we worked as a unit to schlep the books from one building to another. That’s .17 miles each way.

Kids entered the library one-by-one and were told where to go by an adult volunteer. When they were sent to nonfiction, they made their way to me, and I piled books in their arms, being careful not to overload them.

Now I don’t want to ever hear anyone tell me that kids are lazy and don’t know the value of work. Kid after kid came to me, requesting that I add more books to their pile, echoing a line I became familiar with as the hour progressed: “Load me up. I help haul firewood at home. I’m used to this.”

And that was not a mis-type. I meant hour. Maybe an hour and a half, but certainly not two hours. Those amazing kids and adult volunteers moved all the items. All 46,000-ish items. Just wow.

It was inspirational.

My favorite parts of the day?

  • Seeing all the volunteers who showed up during a busy work day.
  • Watching the crossing guard and two police (who were there to make sure the kids crossed the street safely) interact with the kids who were begging to see their tasers 🙂
  • Listening to a student aide who was sitting in a quiet corner with a special needs child, reassuring him and saying that she was really proud of him for the two trips he took.
  • Checking out the titles of the books I was passing off. Making lists of new ones to read and falling in love again with books I have read and appreciated. Then getting to tell the kids about them.
  • Seeing how the process opened the kids’ eyes to the treasure of the library as they learned about all the library had to offer. I heard an adult volunteer explain what sci-fi (science fiction) was, and I heard kids comment on special moments they had in areas in the library in the past. “Will they have nice little nooks in the new library?” was one of the best questions I was asked during the day.

There was one girl who summed up the day as I thanked her while she was walking out with her 7th or 8th stack of books. She shrugged and said, “Hey, we’re Fillmore. We do whatever it takes.”

Well said.

After donuts and cider, the kiddos headed back to an assembly at school, excited over the prospect of seeing their principal get slimed.

Who knew being part of history could be so inspiring and so much fun?

My First Contributor's Day

IMG_20151030_120931811While I’ve been to numerous WordCamps, I’ve never been to a contributor’s day before. It’s pretty wild seeing people group themselves by strength and interest, dedicating a day to make WordPress stronger and better. Nothing like seeing the community in action. My group? Lesson plans. We are working on creating, testing, and fine-tuning lessons for meetup organizers and educators. Love it!

My First Contributor’s Day

IMG_20151030_120931811While I’ve been to numerous WordCamps, I’ve never been to a contributor’s day before. It’s pretty wild seeing people group themselves by strength and interest, dedicating a day to make WordPress stronger and better. Nothing like seeing the community in action. My group? Lesson plans. We are working on creating, testing, and fine-tuning lessons for meetup organizers and educators. Love it!

Homeschooling Heaven – Free Curriculum Supplements From PBS LearningMedia™

Learning is fun. I firmly believe it, and it’s one of the messages I really want to get across to my kids. One way to do that is by using the Internet as a resource for interactive learning. But I am so tired of looking for free curriculum for homeschooling, finding the perfect site, then finding out that I can get more that two “free” items from this site “dedicated to learning,”just “for the price of…”. You know what I’m saying? Then I learned about PBS LearningMedia™.
PBS LearningMedia™ For Educators – Including Homeschool Families
We homeschooling parents are recognized as educators at last! Last Friday Rob Lippincott, PBS Senior Vice President for Education, kindly took the time to walk me through the free PBS LearningMedia™ website offerings. I was thrilled to see all the educational resources aligned to state curriculum.
However, I think the best part of the virtual tour was when I asked, “How can I access this site?” Lippincott responded by reminding me that as a homeschooler, I was a teacher. I could sign up like any other educator. Wow.
From Glaciers to Geometry
Once you log into the site, you can access interactive materials in a variety of subjects. Choose by grade level and by language. The PBS site offers materials in English, Spanish and Navajo. Your child can watch video clips, read interesting information, and manipulate interactive materials on specified subjects.
Currently, the website offers over 14,000 media assets, and it’s only getting bigger. They use local PBS stations as a point-of-delivery and hope to broaden their offerings by eventually offering educational apps. One of my favorite features on the site is the ability to make a list of favorite assets.
PBS has grand plans for this site, and it’s actively working with educators to make it better. Give it a try, and offer your input. Let’s all work together to make learning as fun as possible for our kids.

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