" Please visit me at my new online home, www.thevolunteermom.com."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

This Blog Has Been Moved

Please visit me at my new online home, The Volunteer Mom.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Calling Out My Technical Peeps

I have been thinking for quite sometime that I would like to set up a website of my own but I have no clue where to begin or what I need to do. There is some part of me that realizes how pathetic this is in this day and age but hey, I know I can count on my more technical friends to help me out. So in list form, this is exactly what I would like to do:

-either import or point this blog to the new website.
-have the capability to link directly to other places where I have an online presence (namely Facebook, Twitter and my online store, Zazzle).
-have a few pages dedicated directly to certain things (for example one for an about me kind of thing, one for my work in PTA/Education, one for more professional type things like my resume etc).
-something with a very basic, easy way to update and maintain the site (and by easy I mean even someone as relatively clueless about this type of thing can figure it out).
-I would like to do this all in the most inexpensive yet effective way possible.

Can any one help me figure this out? I did go online but was overwhelmed with the amount of choices and possibilities out there. Even if that wasn't the case, I would still prefer the advice and assistance of someone I know.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Eye Opening

One of the most informative workshops I participated while in Washington, DC with the Massachusetts State PTA was called, "21st Century Voices: Using Social Media to Persuade and Inform."  I thought I already had a good grasp of how influential online/social communications could be.   I had no idea.

I  have copied my notes here as well as the video we saw as part of the presentation.  As the video indicates, it is no longer a question of if we use social media, instead, it comes down to how well we use it.

Workshop 1:  21st Century Voices:  Using Social Media to Persuade and Inform: Notes

-71% of America is on Facebook
-If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest.
-Facebook is the 2nd most visited site on the internet-Google is first.
-In terms of time spent on each site, Facebook dwarfs Google.
-The number of Facebook users is larger than the population of China (actual users not just people who sign up).
-It took three years, two months and one day to get to the billionth tweet. Now there are a billion tweets a week.
- A year ago, people sent 50 million tweets a day. On March 11, 2011, the tally was 177 million.
-There were 456 tweets per second after Michael Jackson died in 2009. That record was broken on New Year’s Day this year with 6,939 tweets after midnight in Japan on New Year’s morning there.
- There were 572,000 new Twitter accounts created on March 12, 2011; there were 460,000 new accounts created daily, on average, in the past month.
-Mobile users increased 182% in the past year.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vote For Allin Frawley On April 2nd

What follows is a letter to the editor of the Middleboro Gazette that unfortunately did not make this weeks edition.  I fully support Allin and ask that you join with me in bringing a positive change to Middleboro by voting for him on April 2nd.

I am writing to voice my support for Board of Selectman candidate Allin Frawley.  Allin will bring to the board the dedication, common sense approach and drive needed to make a difference in Middleboro. 
In many ways, Allin has already shown a commitment to the town of Middleboro.  Through his past and present service on various town committees including the Charter Review/Change Committee, the Conservation Committee, the Open Space Planning Committee, the EMS Committee, the Community Preservation Act Bylaw Committee and the Zoning Recodification Task Force, Allin has demonstrated his desire to take an active role in the town.  Allin also attends Board of Selectmen meetings on a regular basis.  

More than that, Allin has proven to be accessible to the citizens of this town.  Recognizing that there has never been an easier or more effective way to stay in immediate and direct contact with his supporters, Allin has developed a website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts.  In addition, he has opened a campaign headquarters downtown where voters can stop in, meet Allin, ask questions and share their concerns.  His willingness to listen and respond to voters will make him, if elected, a true representative of the people.

I ask you to join me in voting for Allin on April 2nd.  As a selectman, Allin will represent Middleboro honorably and will make sure that our voices are heard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What We've Got Here Is A Failure To Communicate

Most of my readers are aware of the many committees and task forces I serve on as well as the volunteer positions I hold.  If not (or if you just don't remember!), please see this post for the most recent list.  My reasons for taking such an active role in the lives of my children through these committees are many and varied but first and foremost is my commitment to the education of my daughter's and the critical role I know parent involvement plays in their success. That being said, I don't join a committee, organization or take on a volunteer position just because it looks good.  I do it because I want  to and because I care and want to make a difference.   In many of the committees I serve on or the organizations I belong to I dive right in, usually taking on some sort of role beyond just being a member.  I give my full attention and dedication to my work on these committees and make sure that I am timely in all of my communications, carry out whatever tasks are expected of me and take an active, participatory role in all I do.  There are a few areas in my life in which my commitment and dedication are lacking (mostly when it comes to taking care of me) but in the instances above in which my work will directly affect others, you can be sure that I will see whatever I start  right through to the end.

Perhaps it  is because of my overwhelmingly strong sense of responsibility that it bothers me when others don't share this intense dedication and commitment. It is frustrating beyond belief when someone else steps up to the plate to do something and they don't.  It is even more aggravating when I step up the plate to do something and  the lack of follow through of someone else impedes my ability to do my job well, or in the case I am referring to, at all.  Exactly how hard is it to respond to my repeated inquiries so I can proceed with my tasks with the appropriate information?  I can rest easy knowing I have done my part by trying, on multiple occasions to get the information needed.  What I can't deal with is someone else's lack of follow through making me look bad.

Monday, March 21, 2011

DC Update

What follows is the letter I sent to the PTA membership shortly after I got back from DC.

The PTA's mission is to be a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child.  This mission has never been more clear to me than it was at the National PTA Federal Legislative Conference held in Washington, DC last week.  As a representative of the Massachusetts PTA Delegation (which also included President Mary Ann Stewart and President-Elect, Erik Champy) I had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with PTA leaders from all over the country and Europe.  This experience gave me an inspired and new perspective on how far reaching and influential the PTA can truly be.  The PTA is not just about fundraising.  It's about parents taking action, creating community partnerships, and empowering parents to become engaged and involved.

While in DC, I was able to participate in various trainings which were informative and interesting. I learned an incredible amount of information that I look forward to applying to my "job" as President of the Middleborough Elementary PTA.

Perhaps the most exciting and empowering part of my experience took place when the PTA "stormed" Capitol Hill.  On Thursday, March 10th conference attendees from all over the country met with their states Congressmen and Senators, sharing the PTA message, "Every Child, One Voice."  The Massachusetts PTA met directly with Congressman Barney Frank and with the offices of Congressman Ed Markey, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and Senators Kerry and Brown.  Though he did not meet directly with us, Senator Brown stopped by to say hello.  During our meetings we discussed the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act-No Child Left Behind, the importance of family engagement in education and the current budget crisis.  We were well received and could tell that our representatives and senators truly appreciate hearing from their constituents.  Below is a picture of the Massachusetts PTA with Congressman Barney Frank.  

I have always been passionate about the PTA and advocating on behalf of children.  This experience allowed me the opportunity to develop that passion even further.  It truly was an inspiring and exciting event.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How Much Is Too Much/Too Little?

How much help do you provide your child when it comes to completing a homework assignment?  How do you handle it when, even after explaining the scenario, your child is so frustrated by the process that she is in hysterics saying she can't do it? These questions are not rhetorical so by all means, feel free to answer.

There really is no way to put this gently.  Katherine has more trouble putting a sentence together, forming a paragraph and summarizing a book/passage than I have ever seen.  It doesn't seem right to me that it is still so difficult more than halfway through her fifth grade year. This only comes out in her writing; her speaking and language is fine (though generally it is very simplistic). 

These problems are not new to Katherine.  In both first and second grade she received Title I services for reading/ ELA.  She made some decent gains and was dropped for third and fourth grade.  I still thought at that point that she needed extra reinforcement particularly with writing.  Toward the end of fourth grade, after many discussions with her teacher (who saw some of the same problems but attributed Katherine's struggles to more of an attention/motivation concern), I decided to request an evaluation.  The results indicated that she had pretty much average capabilities across the board.  I would have to look back, but I don't specifically remember her being given any kind of writing assignment as part of the testing.  There is no question in my mind that this would have indicated a marked weakness for her had such a test been administered.

A number of weeks after Katherine's most recent report card, I checked in with her teacher, explaining some of my serious concerns with her writing and asked her if she had made any progress since the report card came out.  She said she had some of the same concerns and suggested we meet.  At the meeting we both agreed that the problem was real and her teacher suggested that since her testing came back okay,  perhaps we should go the medical route and see if there was another possibility (read: ADHD).  After filling out parent and teacher surveys, we met with the doctor, who said, yes, based on our discussion and surveys it seems like she may have the ADHD: inattentive type.   She thought medication would be the best route and though I didn't jump right on that bandwagon with Emily,  by this time with Katherine, it just seemed like the right thing to do.  So here we are three or four weeks in to the medicine (which is supposed to be fast acting as in immediate) and nothing has changed.  She isn't on a high dose (10 mgs which could go as high as 30-40 mgs but the doctor said that is usually what they would prescribe a teen) and of course, the first medicine tried might not work.  Katherine was so frustrated and worked up about this specific writing assignment that she was hysterically crying and having serious stomach pains.  Seriously, I was half jokingly wondering in my own thoughts if the child needed an anti-anxiety medication as well.

I can't be their frontal lobe....my own has a problem functioning correctly for me never mind trying to do the work for someone else. So, in the instance of this assignment, I made her do half of it.  I could not see forcing her to finish it in the condition she was in.  The quality of her work would have suffered above and beyond the struggles she already has with it and besides that, I felt really bad for her.  Should fifth grade really be this stressful?  It's freaking fifth grade.  Admittedly, we should have started this assignment earlier on in the weekend.  Instead, we enjoyed a stress free, fun family weekend and I refuse to feel guilty about that.  I am going to send in a note to her teacher with the part of the assignment that is complete and let her know that the rest will be in on Tuesday.  Maybe this is a cop out.  I don't know and really, I don't care.

What I do know is that for Katherine's sanity and mine, we need to figure something out, and quickly.

All advice, constructive criticism, and thoughts are welcome and appreciated.