Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trusting Efficiency of Tools - Slice of Life

I was having lunch with some writing friends and sharing this little slice from my summer when they wanted to know where my writer's notebook was because I had a story.  I asked where is the story?  Where is the article?  In their minds, it was all in these three small words - Efficiency of Tools.  I'm not sure it's an article but thought I could make it a slice of life post.  The big lesson from telling this story is never go anywhere without a writer's notebook when you are spending time with writer's, being a writer.

This summer I spent some time helping my middle daughter who is twelve and a half sew a dress for her yearly 4H project.  We were in the middle of her dress and at a 4H meeting talking to another member's mom about her project.  I was describing how hard it is to get the seam finish, a zig-zag stitch close to the edge as I know the judges like to see.  She shared when she sewed for 4H and started using a Serger machine she started going to the State Fair.  She asked if we had a Serger and I said no, continuing to share "I'm not really sure what it all does and I think I can just zig-zag the finish and get the same effect."  She offered to help us serge her remaining edges of her dress.

"Oh my!  Dear Serger, where have you been all my life!"  I had no idea what a brilliant invention this machine was.  I needed to work with an expert.  I needed to see the expert thread and rethread this machine.  I needed to see the expert demonstrate how it worked.  I needed to see how easy it is to use.  I needed to see my daughter's excitement when her stitches were truly right to the edge, how much faster it was, and how it trims the fabric as you finish them.  This takes the stitches right to the edge.  I gathered a lot of trust during one short visit with a tool that could increase my creativity, quality and production.

I grew up as a 4H gal and my mother made me sew each year.  I dreaded it.  I am thankful now.  I have sewn many, many, many things over the years.  I'm not a fancy fabric kind of gal but can whip up some pillow, curtains, or a skirt with what I know.  My oldest daughter chose to sew for two years and didn't ask again.  I'm thrilled my middle daughter is sewing for a second year and seems to enjoy the process and creativity in designing her own ideas.  I discovered this year and often get reminded in the summer, sewing is a creative outlet for me and one I enjoy doing.

As my friends were reliving my story and I was taking notes the phrase, "trusting efficiency of tools" led me to reflect on how I need to approach using an Interactive Whiteboard in my classroom.  I need to look at it as a tool for creativity.  I need to find experts to show me the way.  I need to work with experts to get me started.  I need to remind myself as I saw the Serger machine rethreaded a few times, I too will need to retry things on the interactive white board while trusting the efficiency of the tool.  My shift in thinking about Interactive Whiteboards began when I read Literacy Smarts.  As a learner, I need to remember to approach something with an open mind and gather information by watching because I think I will find out there are tools out there waiting to make my teaching more efficient.

Thank you Mary Lee and Ruth for guiding this slice of life.


  1. Both of our children did 4H all through school and as I look back I remember all the lessons we learned as a family. Isn't it fun when we know something as teachers and then our learning transfers to another topic? Thanks for this slice!

  2. Fabulous comparison and connection that you've made. I wish I had a seerger and now I wish I had a board that was smart. xo nanc

  3. I appreciate the links you have made in this post between tools, creativity, new learning and making learning accessible through all of the above!

  4. Isn't it great when a tool can make life easier in the hands of an expert? Learning is definitely a lifelong experience - thanks for a great slice!

  5. I love that aha of knowing now that if you are going to meet with writer friends that you have to have your writer's notebook with you! I enjoyed seeing a glimpse into the connections between your daughters and you with regards to 4-H and then seeing the link to your life as a teacher with the whiteboard.

  6. It's a good story...whether as a blog post or article!

  7. Mandy --
    I'm glad you captured this story. What insightful friends you were sitting with. Do I know them? (haha)

  8. I love this story Mandy. Isn't it funny how the everyday moments in life bring insight into our teaching?