Tuesday, March 7, 2017

CHS 10th Read Across America 2017

Creative Voices Book Club and student advisor Ms. Geraldine Cvetic, Chesapeake High media specialist, held their 10th annual Read Across America event Wednesday March 1st, 2017 and proved we are never too old to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday.  The day reflected their mission to promote reading and their 2017 theme Read to be Informed, Be informed to Care and Care to make a difference. They brought new meaning to the word care:  contribute advocate respect and educate. Poetry also proclaimed their message:

Be fully alive

Stay curious ask questions

Let your voice be heard!

 The event included contests, a Scholastic Book Fair, back to back speakers, a panel discussion on reading as a means of critical thinking and an author’s luncheon including student presentation on what they are willing to fight for. 

The media center was rockin’ and rolling all day long!  The first speaker was Ming Diaz, storyteller, face painter and public speaking enthusiast, who has remarkably presented and face painted at all previous  Read Across America events; he emphasized the importance of communication to students and gave them tips on how to speak to be heard about what they are willing to stand up for.  Ming also face painted assisted by three CHS art students. At the end of the day he commented that these students gave their very best throughout the day adding they had great work ethics.  Pasadena author Brigid Kememmer’s characters advocates for equality and kindness through her YA characters in her page-turner Elemental series.  A lively panel discussion included two CHS teachers, a former student and 2nd year panel member Taylor Young and current student Alex Van Valkenburg, who joined guests to answer questions like what advice can you give students about reading.   Alex VanValkenburgh compared reading to his cross country sport and said never look at how much you have left to read no matter how long it is just be present to what’s happening and enjoy the journey.  Bill Hoard, CHS teacher and Ben Faroe co-authors talked about the experience of writing together.  The day was broken up with book signings and an author luncheon whereby club members presented to guests about what they are willing to advocate for.  Cassie Jarrell read her award-winning essay about her milestone books and the importance of reading in her life.  As Anne Frank, Kristen Brass believes daily journal writing is therapy and healing.  Julie Kennon, a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, advocates for imagination and made a creative gift for each guest, a reminder of her message.   Arthur Jones, the featured speaker and an international journalist after hearing the students’ presentations said, “These students have more to teach me than I could ever teach them.  They give me hope”.   Aziz Abdur-Ra’oof gave a fast pace and mesmerizing talk on Fail Faster with Growth Mindset the Fail meaning First attempt at learning.  Visionary, author and artist Daniel Nie has been attending CHS Read Across America for the past 5 years.  Building Your Own American Dream, his latest book, has a dedication to former library assistant Taylor Young and CHS graduate with 4 years of AP Chinese who helped Daniel edit his book. Taylor Young said she is indebted to Daniel who gave her two original paintings.  The day ended on a musical note with Tech-Ed teacher, historian and author of Baltimore Bluegrass Tim Newby who gave an energetic and motivating presentation on research stressing the importance of “cite as you write”.  He recently was awarded a Certificate of Merit from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections for excellence in Best Research in Recorded Country Music.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Many thanks to the Maryland Humanities Council’s Maryland Center for the Book for awarding CHS 30 copies of this year’s One Maryland One Book selection The Boys in the Boat. 
The 2015 theme is “Sports: the human drama of athletic competition.” This year's book The Boys in the Boat celebrates the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team—nine working class boys who stormed the rowing world, transformed the sport, and galvanized the attention of millions of Americans."

Creative Voices Media Team traveled to Glen Burnie High, thanks to the efforts of Andrea Sporre, to hear Daniel Brown give words of wisdom to our team:  think big, develop perseverance, be earnest, put your heart in what you decide to do, build bonds of trust, do not let each other down, have humility, learn to listen & learn from your mistakes.  Most of all, be in the same boat: find your own swing!               
Come in the Cougars Learning Commons, join in on reading this historic and thought provoking title!  Think about it Chesapeake! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ISTE 2015 Alan November

This afternoon Ziz wanted to meet with me to see what I learned attending ISTE 2015.  At the last minute, he surprised me by asking if I would allow him to interview me on Periscope about it instead.  I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I said yes.  One of the  questions he asked is what was the best takeaway of the conference.  I immediately said Alan November.  Get to know him.  In my enthusiasm I said I would blog about his presentation, so I am keeping my word.

During Alan's presentation he asked:  Is technology making a difference?  Then he stated, If no, then your investment in technology is a million dollar pencil.

You may want to follow him on Twitter @globalearner@NLearning  or go to his website, November Learning Better yet go to his YouTube videos or TED presentation.

Involve to Solve:  to change learners - let students design their own problems
Involve not Solve:  beyond the lesson plan, let the students formulate their own questions.

I just found this great tool that goes along with Alan's tips:  Goggle Guide

Teach students to find the right questions in order to access the highest quality of information by maximizing the use of Wikipedia & Google to design good queries.  Searching a topic in the countries students are studying will give them authentic up to date information.  For example, if students are studying the Mali culture why not search the Irish Google site to get the best information.  Just put the topic, then the word site, colon and then the country code - culture site: ie

Here is a link to country codes:  Country Codes

Students would learn to get a perspective from a place they do not live.

Give students a piece of provocative information. Then ask how do you query that piece of information?

To be continued...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lead by Strings - Freed by Love

We all want to follow our hearts and dreams.  Throughout history there have been different rules for girls than boys.  Throughout history women have been bound by Old World Traditions. 

Once upon a time there was a little girl, that little girl was my mother

She came into the world on March 30, 1925, naked and unaware of the difficult life ahead of her, by the hands of a local midwife in a small room on Warren St. belonging to her Aunt Maria and her poppa’s Uncle Pete in downtown St. Louis.  It was an Irish neighborhood with immigrants from not only Ireland, but Germany and Italy as well.

She was christened Gerolama or Geraldine, nick name, Momo or Mamie, no middle name, at Our Lady Help of Christians church.  It was a little Italian church rented from the Protestants.  (My mother thinks this is amusing, since in those days, she was told the Protestants would all go to hell!) I remember that church well because as a little girl, my grandma, who was a very big and rough grandma, being all of 5 feet, would take me by the hand and drag me there for special occasions which always involved candles, processions and special indulgences that did away with time in purgatory.

My mother’s name was given according to an old Sicilian tradition.  The first-born female will be named after the father’s mother. 

Mamie’s parents, Rosalia Ciaramataro and Salvatore Sanfilippo, immigrated to the United States in 1923.  Brave young souls, they each boarded a large crowed boat alone, and headed for the steerage. They clung their few possessions to their bodies and left behind their beloved Trapido, a beautiful village, near the Tyranian Sea, with its fishermen, colorful boats, huts, dirt roads and olive orchards.  They left their village of rich tradition and heart-breaking poverty, the kind of poverty that made them hunger for a better life, for America, the land of opportunity!  They were armed with a third grade education, intelligence, integrity, common sense, a sense of purpose, a remarkable resourcefulness and the grit to ultimately get them through a life in a foreign land, the depression and the raising of 9 children.

Mamie, the first born of Rosalia and Salvatore, was her parents pride and joy; she was obedient, hard working and intelligent.  Not knowing a word of English, she began her short-lived education.  Mamie at age five walked into Sacred Heart School scared and timid.  What a site she was with her long bangs and big eyes.  The hands of her mother made every stitch of clothing down to the cotton underwear under her dress and the socks that covered her feet.  Not knowing a word of English, what strange sounds came into her ears!  She was extraordinary in many ways not only in her appearance.  As soon as she could walk, a soft cloth was put in her hands and she learned her first lesson, how to dust.  Before she entered Sacred Heart School with the young Sisters of Loretto, only five years old, she was already trained to help her mother with more difficult household chores like changing diapers of her multiplying siblings.

Her parents taught her “work makes you noble”.   She knew she was already a very noble little girl, for her parents were good and kind, but hard taskmasters, and over protective.  When a neighbor child came to the door asking her to play.  Her reply was as instructed, I can ‘t come out and play, I have to help my mother. Mamie grew in knowledge and stature, but not too much, she only reached 4 feet 11 inches, weighting 90 lbs.  She was most appreciated by her parents.  She became their window to their adopted country.  They needed to know, and she was the door to that knowing.  Daily, she read and translated the St. Louis Post to her parents and their tenants. They were so proud of her!

America’s opportunities did not come without a price.  After a long day of pushing a wooden cart filled with fresh vegetables from north to south St. Louis, Salvatore would come home and wash up to sit with Rosalia on the stoop to share stories with their family and neighbors, as was the custom in their native land.  Mr. Russo was the wise, older one.  The younger ones would follow what he said.  “The boys help their poppa and the girls help their momma.   The boys will have to support their family, so they need to go on to school, but the girls will stay home and have babies.  The girls, they don’t need to go to school.”

Although Mamie was praised for her efforts and adored for what she could do for her parents.  She followed their rules and the commandments, especially the Fourth Commandment.  Boys help their father and girls help their mother.  In total there were seven boys and two girls. Since her sister was born 18 years later, Mamie had more than her share of work.   A girl will only stay home and have babies, why would she need to go on to school?  So when the good sisters gave her a scholarship to St. Rock High School.  She had to go to Sr. Mary Edwards and say “my mother will not allow me to go to high school.”  The sister looked with heart wrenching compassion into her eyes and said, “I don’t understand why a mother would not want her daughter to go to school.” 

Well Mr. Russo was right!  My mom stayed home and had seven children of her own; I was the 2nd of six daughters.  She ran the house, cooked, cleaned, took care of finances and sewed most of our clothes. When I was in high school, she sewed all of my prom dresses out of beautiful fabrics like brocade and Swiss dot, using patterns that I picked out. My mom had a gift for sewing!

The reason she was such a professional seamstress is….
When Mamie was 15 her mom sent her to a Hadley Technical School for a sewing class.  Soon after she finished her sewing class, one morning after mass, her mother said, “Mamie, Mamie, a lady is going to take you to get a job”, and sure enough, a very mysterious woman, dressed all in black and wearing a hat with netting over her eyes, came to her home and took her on the trolley car.   For the whole trip, the woman did not say a word, nor did my mother.  They got off the trolley on Washington Ave., there were factories lining both sides of the street, every kind of clothing factory imaginable, from men’s suits to women’s lingerie.  This woman led her into one of the dress factory.  They then went into a rickety old elevator and rose to the 7th floor, when the huge doors opened, she saw a very big man cutting a tall stack of fabric.   As instructed, she went up to the man and asked if she could have a job.  He answered in a Jewish accent, “How old are you?”  She knew the right answer, for she was told what to say beforehand, “I am seventeen years old”.  The law at the time was you had to be at least 17 years old to operate a power machine.  The man smiled a knowing smile.  She was 15, but she got the job!

Learning was her delight and escape.  After eight short years it came to an end.
Because she did not go on to high school, she always felt inferior.  So after her children were raised, at the age of 65, she went to night school to earn her GED.  After a few lessons the teacher told her to take the test.  She didn’t feel ready, but she took it anyway and passed with flying colors.  She is so proud of her high school certificate!  Mamie is now 88 years old.  Her old strings are cut and have been replaced by the strings of old age.  Her husband of 64 years has passed away, she is left with time: time to think.   What if?  What if I went on to school?  What if I followed my heart?  What if I knew my own value and power?  What if I played by my own rules? With all the questions, there are no regrets, she is very proud of the work she has done.  After grieving my father’s death, she is looking for some work, something to make her noble.  Women have different rules.  My mother with her abiding integrity, loyalty and common sense followed her conscience.  She followed the rules set for her.  Throughout history there have been different rules for women than there are for men and my mother gave her 6 daughters new rules.  She gave us wings!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thrown Away

Thrown Away

Those who uncover the meaning of life
Strong soaring spirits too soon does fade

In time few know the good they gave
Their life’s work just thrown away

If you remember, shout out without shame
Stop, listen, their voice speaks for us all

Treasure their good let their legacy live
As a beacon of truth to guide our way

I wrote this poem in response to Michael Glaser telling me this story:

He went to a school to present and found the books of his friend and former Poet Laureate Lucille Clifton in the library trashcan.  It deeply hurt him.  I’ve read some of her work and have heard about her life and because of Michael, her memory is alive in me.

I thought about it and feel there are many who are disregarded after having given so much.  People forget and the young just don’t know.  At CHS, I remember people like Mr. Sullivan who made all the Cougars hanging everywhere and Teddy Betts, whose classroom was such an inspiration to me.  The list goes on…

Read about Lucille Clifton. Lucille Clifton Biography

Listen to her poems. Audio & Podcasts

Watch Lucille. NewsHour Poetry Series

Michael Glaser speaks on Lucille.   Come Celebrate With Me

"writing is a way of continuing to hope…perhaps for me it is a way of remembering I am not alone." "I would like to be seen as a women whose roots go back to Africa, who tried to honor being human.  My inclination is to try to help."  -Lucille Clifton

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What's Your Favorite Color?

When I asked Michael Glaser, Maryland's Poet Laureate, what's your favorite color? he replied with this poem.  It was so sweet, it was on my mind all day.  How lucky his wife is to be thought of in such a touching way.  After being inspired by his poem, I thought of the slogan for our 8th annual Read across America, poetry puts pictures in our heads and lingers inout hearts.  Thank you Michael for gifting CHS with your presence!

I hope all of us take the time to think of our favorite color and share it through the images and feelings of a poem.

my favorite color is blue!
like the ocean,
like the sky,
like the color of my wife's eyes-
each vibrant and changing-
so many hues
it depends on my mood
as I try to imagine
which shade of blue
I'd want to choose!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Riding the Dragon with Dr. Robert Wicks

Last Saturday, March 1st, I attended Dr, Wicks lenten retreat at St. Anthony's Shrine.  The insights he gave made a huge difference in my life.  His stories and humor made it easy to remember his points.  This interview reinforced what was taught during his presentation.  My word is inspiration and my buffer word is kindness.  I will be reading Riding the Dragon and utilizing the tools Dr. Wicks has shared.  I am a teacher with the many stresses of my chosen career.  I hope teachers are exposed to Dr. Wicks.  He could make a huge impact in the world of education.  Thank you Dr. Wicks, Geri Cvetic  Riding the Dragon Interview