Map the Fallen

Take a look at a new resource that allows you to learn more about the soliders that have given their lives for our country. It’s called Map the Fallen, and it’s an interactive file you can view in Google Earth. Here’s a video from CNN about it:

Here are some links to get you started:

Thanks to Kevin Jarrett for sharing this tool!

Yoga and India

I’ve been thinking about this post for a week now. I want to share this incredible lesson that was done with some of our Third Graders as part of the Trek2India Project. However, as many of you know, the actual trip to India by our superintendent was canceled due to the unrest in Mumbia, his first stop. I want to share my reaction to those events as well.

Robyn Zamorski, our speech teacher at G.W. Carver, lived in India for a short period of time. She also currently teaches Yoga at a local fitness club. So it was very fitting to have her teach some of our students some Yoga poses to go along with the India project. But what started out as purely a chance to collaborate with our Physical Education Teacher, Pam Palmer, and Robyn, ended up being one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in education. While I was there only to take pictures and create a Voicethread about the project, I walked away amazed. It started with a class of third graders running into the gym with high energy. I thought to myself, “Well, this will last about 10 minutes..maybe 15 if we are lucky.” I was so wrong. As Robyn lead them through the poses, and the Sanskrit names for them, their energy dropped, and they loved it! I had started running around taking pictures, but quickly changed to moving slowly and deliberately around the room so not to disturb this incredible energy in the room. After watching that lesson, which lasted the whole 30 minutes (and the kids wanted to do it again), I was floored. In the age of stimulation, I’ve always thought we need to keep our students “busy.” I still believe that. But now I understand that kids need a chance to relax and get focused too. I share the VoiceThread below with you….put please understand…it only captures a small fraction of what went on in the gym that day.

With this Trek2India project, Pam Elgin and I had spent lots of time learning about the culture as we prepared the Trek2India Wiki that would be used as the hub of communication between our Superintendent, as he traveled, and our students and teachers here. Pam and I learned about the people, the culture, and some of the history behind India’s democracy. When I first received the news about the events in Mumbia, I was sitting in my car getting ready to pick up some of the food for Thanksgiving dinner the next day. I was floored. Heartbroken. Relieved. I was thankful our Superintendent had not left yet (he was scheduled to leave the day after Thanksgiving). His first schedule hotel stop was the Taj, was one of the hotels affected. But I was also deeply, deeply saddened for the Indian people. News about other countries does not usually affect me that much. I might feel a short sadness when reading an article.  I might thinkabout war and peace in a broad sense.  But hearing this story filled me with a deep, deep sadness. The more I thought about my reaction, the more I realized it was because I felt a tie, so to say, with the people. After spending so much time learning about them, and after almost having the chance to make connections with some of the schools in India, I felt extremely sad to watch their city in flames. I share this because I came to realize the power of making connections with other cultures on a personal level. I’ve known the power on an intellectual level, but never felt the power so strongly on the personal side. The idea I came to understand was that the more our students have the opportunity to learn about other cultures, connect with them, and empathize with their struggles, the more peace we will have in our world.


I was reminded of this awesome video today while preparing for an upcoming workshop…and I really like this version because the title is not as conspicuous (it does have one word not appropriate for school).

And then I found the translation to the words from the song that’s playing during the video…wow!  This is what Matt says about the lyrics:

The lyrics to “Praan” were taken from a poem by a Nobel Prize winning Indian author named Rabindranath Tagore. While the poem was written in Bengali (or Bangla), I chose it based on its English translation, which I later learned to be more of an interpretation that captures the spirit of the original without matching it word-for-word.

The English version of the poem is called “Stream of Life.” Here it is:

The same stream of life
that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world
and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life
that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life
that is rocked in the ocean-cradle
of birth and of death,
in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious
by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages
dancing in my blood this moment.

Finding My Little Sister on Facebook

Amber&IOkay, I realize that title might be a bit deceiving. I don’t really have a “real” little sister. But I did have a sister about 11 years ago in college: a Little Sister with Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. And I just found her on Facebook, 11 years later! It’s a long story. Let me start at the beginning.

When I was a freshman in college at Emory and Henry, two of my friends and I decided to become Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. We were all three matched with a family of three girls…5, 8, and 11. I was matched graduationwith the middle sister, Amber. It was wonderful having my close friends matched with the entire family…we often did things together. The “Littles” quickly became a HUGE part of our lives on campus. We saw them at least once a week, and they frequently spent the night or traveled with us. I even took Amber home over a few holidays and on vacation to the beach with me. As I look back through my college scrap book, her face is everywhere: bowling, skating, plays, amusement parks, playgrounds, the beach, sledding on cafeteria trays, reading, painting, making Easter eggs, celebrating Christmas, PTA programs, and on and on. We were matched all four years, and she came to graduation. However after graduation through uncontrollable family circumstances on her end, I lost her. By then she was about 13.

Because she was such a big part of my life, I continued to wonder where she was and how she was doing. My old friends would often ask about her…she’d become such a big part of my life for those four years.

Then, this past summer, I decided to join Facebook. Yes, that horrible “unsafe” world that we hear about over and over in Internet Safety programs. I originally felt that I just needed to know what it was all about since technology is my job. I quickly found out how powerful it could be, but in a good way. I learned that it was a wonderful way to get in touch with old friends and even family located in far away places. I found my close high school friends, my cousin in China, my college buddies. I was able to see family pictures of my friends and family, and get to know my step-mother’s side of the family much better.

But then it happened! One of my college Big Sister friends found me there and THAT started a ball rolling that ended up with me finally finding Amber again after 11 years, despite her new married name.

The first time I heard from her, I cried. I had been so worried about her all these years, but to find out that she’s okay totally made me so happy, and brought back all those wonderful memories from college. I was able to see pictures of her family…her 2 year old son, her husband, and her trip to Disney World and to St. Augustine. We have talked back and forth, and I found out she’s now a nurse–and LPN on top of that. I’m so very proud of her, and so very relieved to be back in touch. Next month I’m going to visit–she only lives 2 1/2 hours away. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found her again!

Now, I’m not advocating that minors should join Facebook, or that you should post whatever you want on your Facebook page, or allow anyone and everyone to see your personal information. Not at all. Whenever we post on the internet, we should take internet safety very seriously. In Facebook, though, there are security settings that allow you too keep your pictures and information private to everyone but your friends, if you want. Facebook also recommends that you only become friends with people you know in person. I think that’s a great recommendation.

But I did want you to know that there are some very good things about social networking…and that it can, if used correctly, really enhance or rekindle real live relationships. I can offer many stories to support this claim, but finding my long lost Little Sister is definitely, by far, my favorite!