In the summer time…

when all the trees and leaves are green…it’s really hard to be stuck inside, working online. Of course, if you’re wireless, and if you have a laptop, you can always go outside and work. Ah, the joys of working from home, online!

I enjoyed a great July, visiting my dad and daughter and other relatives in Indiana. The weather was even nice, most of the time.

There was lots of hugging and baby-holding going on (I have a new grandson, born in May).

I have to admit, I miss being near my family, so we have decided to try to sell our house here in Texas and move closer to my family in Indiana.

This old house is going to take a lot of work to get ready, though, but since I work from home, I can do little things here and there, in between working for the different schools.

I have a couple projects to finish up before the fall session gets started, and then I need to get my classes ready for the first day. I always enjoy starting fresh each semester. I have lots of new, 21st century ideas to incorporate into my classes, like digital storytelling. I want to try that with my high school English classes this year.

How about you? Any good 21st century projects you’d like to share with the rest of us? We’re all in this together, so let’s share our ideas.

Well, deadlines are at hand…gotta run for now. I promise I’ll try not to be so long in between posts from now on.

Have a great one!!



You might be a blogger if…

…you take an online blogging course!


Well, taking the course doesn’t guarantee that you will actually become a frequent blogger, but it will tell you almost everything you ever wanted to know about blogging, and it will certainly help you get started. I am proud to be an alumni of Blogging 101, or the  “BlogWritingCourse,” and you can take the same course, starting October 12!

Blogging 101 is an 8-week, instructor-led course, and it’s only $59.00! What a fantastic deal!

The instructors are fabulous and trust me, learning how to be a blogger in a class with other newbies helps build your confidence, and it’s so much more fun learning and blogging with others who are just like you! You don’t have to spend hours fiddling with the technology and frustrating yourself; just go into the classroom and ask somebody! Quick answers from instructors and helpful support from classmates definitely motivate you to keep going!

I would recommend this course to anyone who is thinking about blogging, who is already blogging but wants to fine-tune their skills, or who really wants to blog, but is scared by the thought of all that technology. At the very least, go visit the site, and after reading about it, then you can decide if taking the course is something that interests you.

Oh, and it is an online course, so if you have not had the experience of taking an online course, then this would be a great place to start! If you are a traditional teacher, thinking about making the move to online teaching, this would be a great first experience. Most online schools want their teachers to have had the experience of being a student in an online class, so they can understand the problems and frustrations faced by their students. Really, taking (and completing) this class is a win-win situation! Not only do you obtain the knowledge to start your own blog, but you also end up with a little something you can add to your resume! Student

What are you waiting for?

The link is over there in the right-hand column of this page…yep, you have to scroll down a little, but you’ll see the gold and black button; just click on it and poof…there you are!

Okay, for those who are too lazy to scroll…here’s another way to get there:



Oh, and please come back and tell me about your experience in the class! I need more blogs to add to my personal “blogroll”!

Until next time,

Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!


What am I doing here?


Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what I’m doing here–teaching online, I mean. Here I am, teaching a new graduate class on 21st century literacy skills, and yet I feel like such an infant when it comes to using those skills myself. Oh, I know and understand the industry lingo; “blogging” and the “blogosphere,” words like “social networking” and “bookmarking sites,” “RSS feeds” and “tags,” “wikis” and “Web 2.0” fill my curriculum and often spill off of my fingers (out of my mouth). But I’m no digital native; I only know ABOUT those things. I’m not really very efficient at using any of them, yet. I sign up for all of the latest online tools, and skim and scan the Help tutorials, but I don’t really UTILIZE them with any degree of frequency, so I have very little success with any of them. And why is that, you ask? Because I feel so, so overwhelmed with it all. For instance, I have many email accounts scattered around the Web; I belong to several social networking sites and listservs; I have a few blogs and wikis; my husband and I own several different websites; I have accounts at many online tools and apps. Heck, I even “tweet” on “Twitter”! twitter_bird_follow_me

But I’m never the same person on any of them; why is that? I use Password Safe to keep track of all these different registrations, but here’s my problem. Let’s say I have a student who wants to share a private video on YouTube. He plugs in my school email address, thinking that will work, and it should, except I didn’t register at YouTube with my school email address. Ooops. What happens? Well, I do get his invitation in the school email, but when I go to view it, I don’t get to see it unless I sign up with my school email address. So I do, and I get to see it, but now I have one more username and password to keep track of.


One Stop Shop

One Stop Shop

What I need is a one-stop shop for me, online teacher, Mrs. Viki Gardner. A place that will hold all my pertinent information and actually filter it to the proper places. I should be able to go anywhere on the Internet with one name and password and every place should automatically know me. When a student types in my school email address in order to share his work, that email address should light up and say, “Hey, that’s one of Viki Gardner’s work addresses; I know her! Here’s where that invitation needs to be sent…”

That’s just one corner of the chaos. I could choose any number of skills to discuss, but let’s talk about blogs for now. They’re a huge part of Web 2.0 these days. Everybody blogs, but few people blog successfully. Why? Because most of us are still trying to figure it out. What’s the best way to Blog? What is the best blog host to use? Would this theme be better than that theme? Is this widget better than that widget? What if I want to blog about different topics? Do I start more blogs? What if I want to have more authors; will this host let me do that? What if I want to have more pages? This blog won’t let me do that! By the time we figure out the answers to our questions, we are out of time.

blogshakespearecomicOkay, so now you have a blog; what will you say? You want people to visit and “follow” you, but how do you hold their interest enough to want to come back? And when you do get some “followers,” you really start to sweat; Oh no, now you have to write well and you have to write frequently, or you’ll lose them. Well, I’ve heard that one way to keep them coming back is to wow them with graphics and multimedia. Hmmm…what do you know about that? Can you make a digital story and then embed it into the blog? Can you even turn a URL into a hyperlink on the blog?

Hands to the head again…can’t I just click something and make it all happen?frazzled


In my class, we’re working in Google Documents this week, so I guess I better go refresh my memory…now where are those tutorials again?

Until next time,

Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!


T-R-E-E-S…that’s how I spell relief!

Every evening, my hubby and I spend a couple hours “looking at trees.” We have a three-seater swing on our patio, so we spend the hours between dinner and twilight relaxing in our swing, watching our dogs play, chatting about our day and looking at our trees. This relaxes me because when I’m outside in God’s playground, I can forget about the stress that screams at me from my computer screen. Yes, there is stress in online teaching. 


Last summer, I was experiencing an abnormal amount of this stress because the employers at my “bread and butter” job decided to go with an all automated format, so they didn’t need me or any teacher any longer. That revelation brought forth visions of living in our car, cruising to local “hot spots” so I could apply to new “bread and butter” jobs. As it turned out, a very sweet and wise young student suggested that when I feel stressed, I should go “look at trees.” She claimed that this is how she liked to relax–looking at trees always helped calm her jangling nerves. Who knew that such a simple and innocent remedy would soon become life changing?


One evening, still unsure of our future economic situation, hubby and I decided to take the student’s advice and we ventured out to the swing in the backyard. We discovered the calming and peaceful feeling that comes from “looking at trees.” That evening, we started making plans to pull ourselves out of our financial dilemma.  






After many days, weeks and months of looking at trees, I now have fairly steady income and looking at trees has become a nightly ritual. Our dogs have figured out that we make the journey outside after we eat supper, so as soon as they hear the sound of dishes being cleared, they are at our feet, tails wagging happily, knowing we are going “outside.” Hubby leads the parade, closely followed by Buttercup, then me, then Rosie. At the back door, the girls bound off, running a couple laps around the yard and then taking up their positions for the nightly “patrol.” Rosie jumps up in the swing to take her place beside Mama, and Buttercup keeps vigil at Daddy’s feet.



As we all sit there, swinging and staring at the trees while twilight descends upon us, I am reminded of the first stanza of a poem I chose to deliver in a college Speech class: “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Although the only children still living at home are our dogs, the poem is a nostalgic reminder of our children and grandchildren who live in other states, and whom we miss very much. 

At the end of the day, it’s a welcome relief to share my swing with my incredibly supportive husband and look at God’s beautiful trees. They do help me find peace and calm in this fast-paced, 21st century life.

So, whether you teach online or in a traditional classroom, and even if you’re not a teacher, you can find relief! Try “looking at trees”; it really works!


Mike and me

Until next time,
Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!


P.S. Here is a copy of “The Children’s Hour” (in its entirety), so you don’t have to go look it up. 😉

The Children’s Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

Our grandkids

Our grandchildren