A Personal Reminder: The Joy of Open

Picture of young child intently looking at a laptop screen.  My friend tagged me in this very happy memory today which brought me great joy.  Seven years ago, I livestreamed my dissertation defense.  It was completely natural for me that the culminating moment of the dissertation journey would be open. I “exposed” my dissertation file before defending, I’d been blogging regularly since 2004, my practicum was (is?) a blog, I tweet – heck yes I was going to stream my dissertation! My committee was (I think somewhat hesitantly) agreeable (though the discussion of the results would of course have to be closed!) I think they were somewhat surprised when about 25 people showed up in person…and about 40 or so more online. While I was full of the requisite nerves, I was determined to approach my defense as a celebration, a community celebration.

About 4 years prior to this moment, I failed my dissertation proposal defense. It’s not a secret, but, not something I’ve really ever talked about openly before. This was one of those pivotal moments which I know fed into my personal desire to open up these “closed” processes of academia. Had I been able to attend a proposal defense before my high-stakes moment, maybe I would have done better? (We could talk a lot more about that experience, but, let’s move on…) By opening up my dissertation defense, a bunch of sweet little kiddos got to watch (a woman) achieving a dream (in person and online).  Fellow graduate students were welcomed into a space that is normally not open/welcoming so they could get a glimpse of the process.  I was elated that the college support staff I invited were there, there is no way I could have completed my PhD journey without them.  My students (many of whom watched from around the globe) got to see their teacher and mentor “on the spot.” My own dear teachers and mentors (from K12 onward) were also able to attend from afar.

Since I’m back in the classroom now, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to (re)articulate my own philosophy of teaching and learning (things like this are resonating with my thoughts).  Open is still at my core, and I’m inspired to continue sharing and working on, and in, open pedagogical spaces.

Thank you Arizona State University

Leigh in front of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers CollegeOn August 15th I started my position as a Clinical Associate Faculty member with the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University.  I am very thankful that I’m able to continue living in Michigan as a “remote” employee.  Having taught online previously, I’m very comfortable “living online” but, I know that there is still value in a physical presence and grounding. I feel very lucky that as part of my employment, I’m able to visit ASU a few times a semester. I returned from my first visit just under a week ago – and I came back energized and excited by the possibilities this new position will offer. My primary responsibility will be teaching with the Educational Leadership and Innovation EdD program.  I also serve on the program committee.  This fall I’m teaching TEL 703- Innovation in Teaching and Learning , TEL 707 – Reading the Research, and TEL 713 – Advanced Qualitative Methods. The curriculum for the program was developed collaboratively and I’m beyond elated to be returning to teaching.  The minute I opened up the course and with every email received, assignment submitted and zoom session completed my heart is filling with passion and joy. In addition to my work in the EdD program, I’m also a faculty fellow with the Office of Scholarship and Innovation – where I get to collaborate with some familiar faces :)

I started out the semester with a 2 week immersive onsite visit to ASU which gave me tremendous insight into the culture and landscape of my new academic home. (And, as I’ve found out upon my return, completely changed my body chemistry and I love the desert heat more than I thought I would!)  I stayed close to the Tempe campus and was able to take advantage of the tremendous campus shuttles. My meetings were spread across the Tempe, Downtown and West campuses and never once did I have to worry about having a car.

ASU #1 in Innovaton Everywhere you go, you’re reminded that ASU is #1 in innovation.  Those who work in universities are no stranger to the rankings game and we usually take these lists with a grain of salt (and a roll of the eye.) But, it does mean something – and experiencing the physical campus along with the online campus has given me solid evidence to support this accolade.  I was so impressed with the level of student services (in person and online) with the physical accommodations in the buildings and student and community centeredness of what I experienced.   I also experienced this passion as I met my new colleagues and as we were welcomed and challenged by Dr. Crow in his Fall 2018 Faculty and Staff Welcome message, and echoed by Dean Basile, who in her welcome message challenged us to “take beautiful risks, through principled innovation.”

ASU’s charter is as follows:

ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.

Leigh in front of ASU CharterI know this post skews positive, and one could say tinted with rose (or maroon) colored glasses – but I honestly had (and still have) my critical lenses on.  Starting somewhere new after 20 years of experience behind my belt gives me a different (hopefully more experienced and nuanced) outlook on things.  I’m excited to dig in and do the difficult work, to become a member of the ASU community, find ways to improve our service to the communities we serve, to learn more about myself, and to continue to grow as a teacher-scholar.


Thank you Michigan State University

Tomorrow, I will make my 120 mile round trip commute for the last time as this week ends my employment at Michigan State University.  Starting in August, I will begin a new journey as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Leadership and Innovation (EdD) program at Arizona State University.  I will be working remotely from Michigan and traveling to Arizona a few times per semester.

Twenty-four years ago, I stepped foot on campus as a first generation college freshman. Since then, (with the exception of a two year window right after I graduated with my BA) I have had a direct affiliation with MSU – either as an MA/PhD student and/or employee.  Over the years, I have collected a boundless amount of institutional memory. I experienced the university as a student (in two different colleges, in three different programs), an alum, as a fixed term instructor, advisor, academic specialist and administrator.  MSU has given me the world, quite literally.  I have had the opportunity to teach and present overseas, something I never would have imagined as a possibility when I stepped foot on campus 24 years ago. If you click through the archives of this blog, you’ll see almost 15 years of reflections on my work at MSU – it’s difficult for me to summarize the depth of my experiences and opportunities in one singular culminating farewell post.

I am excited for my new adventure, a new opportunity to gain institutional memory.  I am extraordinarily thankful for every opportunity MSU has given to me, every opportunity I have created for myself, and every single person I have had the great fortune of crossing paths with during my time as a Spartan.  Luckily, I work in an industry that values collaboration and connection – and I’ll still be able to write, create, and collaborate with my friends and colleagues. Even though this is not goodbye forever, it does end an important and transformational affiliation, one that I am leaving filled with gratitude.

Thank you & Farewell #MSUrbanSTEM

On December 18, 2013 Sonya, Punya, Anurag & I took this picture (in the snow, on the roof of Erickson Hall) to celebrate the official signing of the Wipro Urban STEM Fellowship Program at MSU.

We knew we were starting something special – but I don’t think we knew just how special. Fast forward 4 1/2 years, and it’s hard to believe that we are at the end of this journey. 124 amazing Chicago Public School teachers completed the MSUrbanSTEM fellowship program. In that time, they published 8 books, created resources on their websites, and continue to share and network via #MSUrbanSTEM.  As a research team, we published and presented an impressive amount of scholarship. Beyond the tangible artifacts, we all have been profoundly changed by this experience.  O’Sullivan et. al (2002) define transformative learning as:

Experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and irreversibly alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race and gender; our body awareness, our visions of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of possibilities for social justice, peace and personal joy.

This definition succinctly sums up my experience over the past 4 1/2 years. I am truly grateful to my collaborators, colleagues & the incredible Chicago Public School teachers.

So lucky to work with these amazing people #MSUrbanSTEM


#MSUrbanSTEM - telepresence is amazing


Works Cited
O’Sullivan, E. V., Morrell, A., & O’Connor, M. A. (2002). Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning: Essays on theory and praxis (Lst ed.). New York, N.Y: Palgrave.

2017. It was a year!

Inspired by Catherine (who was inspired by Lorna, who was inspired by Anne-Marie), I’m going to take a few minutes to reflect on 2017.

I’ll start with tangible academic successes – these are the easiest to account for :)


Schopieray, S., Mapes, K., Long, C. P., Thomas, S., Wolf, L.G. (2017, June) Domain of One’s Own at MSU: Promoting Digital Presence and Public Scholarship. Domains 2017. University of Oklahoma. http://domains.reclaimhosting.com

Wolf, L.G. (2017, June) Keynote (virtual). Design Thinking: Going from Practice to Theory and Theory to Practice. JALTCALL 2017. Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan. https://conference2017.jaltcall.org/

Wolf, L.G. (2017, June) Facilitator. Tackling Wicked Problems Using Design Thinking. Educational Technology Organization of Michigan Summer Retreat. http://etom.org/events/etom-spring-2017-2/

Wolf, L.G. (2017, May) Keynote. What is it you do again? Discussing the intents, purposes & vocabularies surrounding learning design. 4TVirtual Conference (Online) Recording: http://www.4tvirtualcon.com/

Wolf, L.G. (2017, February) Stories from #MSUHub: Using Scrum for Innovative Educational Design. NUIGalway School of Education and St. Angela’s College, Sligo. Galway, Ireland.

Papers & Publications

Mishra, P., Gunnings-Moton, S., Wolf, L.G., Berzina-Pitcher, I, & Seals, C. (2017). Introduction: Innovative STEM Professional Development for Urban Educators: Multiple Perspectives on the MSUrbanSTEM Project. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 36(3), 211-217

Seals, C., Mehta, S., Wolf, L.G., & Marcotte, C. (2017). Theory and Implementation of an Innovative Teacher Professional Development Program. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 36(3), 219-235

Rosenberg, J.M., Greenhalgh, S. P., Wolf, L.G., & Koehler, M. J. (2017). Strategies, Use, and Impact of Social Media for Supporting Teacher Community within Professional Development: The Case of One Urban STEM Program. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 36(3), 255-267

Horton, A., Mishra, P., Wolf, L., Seals, C., & Marcotte, C.. (2017, November). Developing a Culture of Shared Practice through the use of Personal Learning Networks amongst STEM Educators. Poster presentation at the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) International Convention.

Seals, C., Mehta, S, Berzina-Pitcher, I., & Wolf, L. (2017). Enhancing teacher efficacy for Urban STEM teachers facing challenges to their teaching. Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, & Research, 13, 135-146. https://aera-ultr.wixsite.com/ultr/journal-of-ultr

Heintz, A., Hagerman, M.S., Boltz, L.O., & Wolf, L.G. (2017). Teacher awarenesses and blended instruction practices: Interview research with K-12 teachers. Handbook for Digital Learning in K-12 Schools. Springer.

Now, some personal and professional highlights. In February, I was lucky to return to my second home to visit Science Gallery Dublin (and discuss plans for Science Gallery Lab Detroit!)

I can’t be in Ireland without stopping by my heart’s home (Galway.) While in Galway I was lucky to meet with my dear friends at the School of Education at NUI Galway & new friends at St. Angela’s College, Sligo to talk a bit about the work we’re doing at the MSU Hub. (Here’s a recap of the talk.)


Sadly, the MSUrbanSTEM fellowship program came to a close in May (it was a 3 year grant) – this was truly a transformational experience for all involved.


Luckily, we have one more year with our Sustainability Fellows!

What an incredible & inspiring group of people! Energized after a day with the #MSUrbanSTEM Sustainability fellows

In July I had the honor of officiating Bill & Joe’s amazing wedding!

marriage officiant












After the wedding, we headed back home for two weeks in Ireland.  It was my first time traveling there on vacation! I was reunited with these amazing ladies:

4 awesome women









and even got out on the links with Scott

leigh and scott in the rain










When I got home, I was able to have some special auntie time with all of my nieces and nephew!

nieces, nephew and aunt










At the end of October I had a scheduled surgery (in my continuing saga with endometriosis) back at the Cleveland Clinic. Unfortunately they found that the endometriosis had become incredibly invasive and 5 inches of my colon (in addition to my uterus) had to be removed thanks to the disease.  I will need to go back in a few months for one more surgery, then, all will be fixed with the main offenders now gone!












The last few months have been a blur of recovery and getting back to work. I was lucky that Mary Carty came by for a special visit after I returned home <3












Those are some of personal the highlights of the year. I will leave you with Beannacht: A Blessing for the New Year from John O’Donohue to start 2018 (a poem I frequently referenced to get through 2017):

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green,
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.


In Heaven

My heart has been broken since I received word that my friend Bianca Ní Ghrógáin passed away.  It was was just one short year ago we met for the first time.  Catherine, Pam, Mary, Helen and I had had planned a lunch when I arrived in Galway for the summer. Pam emailed and said Bianca would be in town too, would anyone mind if she joined? Of course we didn’t – and there was the beginning of a fast friendship. Our band of #ITWomen continuing to grow stronger. We all left that lunch with a tremendous sense of energy and hope in our hearts.

It has been an honour to know Bianca.  Like many of my #edchatie family, we instantly connected as if we had known each other for well beyond 351 days – not even a full calendar year.  Bianca came back to Galway a few weeks after this picture to attend the #GREAT14 conference put on by our students, continuing to make connections, share her expertise for Making and education in general. Our connections continued on twitter over the past year – and we were looking forward to seeing each other again this summer.

There is a large void in all of our hearts – do a quick google search or search on twitter, to start to scratch the surface of Bianca’s impact on this world. Read her blog: http://rangbianca.com/.  Listen to her being interviewed by a student to see how much she loved teaching.  Listen to her recently being interviewed on Dublin City FM.

This sadness and loss is quite surreal right now.  I am forever grateful for the time we had together and my heart truly aches for a life and a friend lost incredibly too soon.

Real world math & design help needed! #quiltproblems #problemsolved

Update: at 8:36 pm the wonderful @nikkapotamus came to the rescue with this solution. At 9:07, the block is fixed, stitched & ready to be sent to Boston.  The kindness, generosity and intelligence of this connected world never ceases to amaze me!

Problem solved!


SO, I was bound and determined to start, and finish my quilt block(s) for Quilts for Boston tonight. I was planning to make my blocks out of jelly roll strips I had lying around.

I was super excited when I found this tutorial:

The requirements for the Quilts for Boston block are “All blocks should be 12½” tall x the width of your choice.” So, I sewed together 6 strips so the height of the strips were 12 1/2.  I cut two blocks of 12 1/2 by 12 1/2 with the intention of following the tutorial to make the block above.  I cut two other blocks “width of my choice” with the remaining fabric.

I followed the tutorial exactly, and the block looks beautiful…but…mathematically minded friends, do you see where I went wrong?

Real life math problem, help!

The middle block is beautiful, and for the first block I have ever made it my entire life, one may even go as far as to say it’s perfect…but it’s 17 x 17.  SO mathies & quilties, any suggestions on what I should do? I did not sew the 4 blocks for the big square together yet.  At minimum, I have 2 simple blocks that can go to Boston BUT would love to find a way to salvage the pieces in the middle – they are each 8 1/2, by 8 1/2.

Tips & tricks welcome!

Stitches of Genius: I made a quilt

Play on Sparks of Genius for blog post

Anyone who has read Sparks of Genius knows that forming patterns is an essential cognitive tool for the creative mind. Well, I’ve been exercising the heck out of my mind (and patience) lately by teaching myself how to quilt.  YouTube and bloggers have been my best friends through this process and when I’m really stuck, I call, text or skype with my sis who is quite an accomplished seamstress. There is a whole language I’m learning in reading patterns. More often than not the pattern will list a few measurements and then say “piece, quilt and bind” as if a novice stitcher knows what that means. Luckily, a quick search will lead me to extraordinarily helpful tutorials to help me figure out what all of these things mean.

My first few play projects involved quite a bit of cutting and sewing a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I quickly learned that I have difficulty sewing in a straight line.  Thank goodness they make tools to help people like me and after purchasing a 1/4″ presser foot with guide, I was in the straight line business!

While doing my homework on quilting I was intrigued by something called a “jelly roll.” I found quite a few easy looking (on the surface) quilts that were made out of jelly roll strips.  I settled on this “Pick Up Sticks” pattern and found a really cool jelly roll called “Comma” that has some fun typographic elements.  I found a great fabric for in-between the strips that had straight lines that I could use as a guide when I got to the quilting part.  Everything on the top came together fairly smoothly. I kept repeating to my self “right sides together” (I had problems with that early on) and things were good to go as I pieced together the front.

#making first quilt. Front = done.

Binding intimidates me. I specifically have to tip my hat to Made-by-Rae for her “Easy Cheat Binding” tutorial.  I will try “real” binding this next round, but, wanted to give this cheat a try as I could easily visualize how the quilt would come together.  I need work keeping the batting and backing flat and smooth as I’m quilting, but I think this turned out quite well and I can see myself cheating again in the future.  (I’m not sure if flat & smooth are the proper sewing terms?)

Now that I feel comfortable, it’s time to level up to  the next project…
SUPER excited about the twitter baby blanket/quilt in the works! #learning

Reflections on India: Working towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society.

Now that I’m back home and fully readjusted to the Eastern Time Zone, I have a minute to sit and think about my recent trip to India.  I had the amazing opportunity to travel with Punya (and a few other MSU colleagues) on his latest trip to Azim Premji University (APU) in Bangalore. (You can read & watch more about the project here.) Punya and I ran a workshop on motivation for students in the MA in Education and MA in Development programs (along with a few other folks associated with APU.)

I highly suggest you take some time to read Anurag Behar‘s writings on livemint.com. Anurag is the Vice Chancellor of the University and his reflections are much more eloquent than I could ever hope to construct. They give you deep insight into the incredibly brilliant minds behind APU and the Azim Premji Foundation and their work towards their mission of creating a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society.

I feel so incredibly fortunate that I had the opportunity to work with educators in our workshop who work in contexts completely foreign to anything I have ever experienced.  As is always the case, I learned much more than the students may have learned from me. In addition to our work in the motivation short course, I was able to participate in meetings with the web and publications team responsible for the Teachers of India portal.  I had entirely too much fun “geeking out” with the team (RamG, Nithin & Mujahidul.) It has been a while since I’ve been in such a state of excitement and flow, talking social networking, open source and creative commons – it was my most cherished moment of the trip.

On a side note, I had the opportunity to get to know Jack and Sharon Schwille on this trip as we were all staying at the guest house.  Jack and Sharon had amassed a large collection of books on India during their travel and were a wealth of knowledge and stories about the history of India.  I was particularly intrigued by A Princess Remembers: The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur and have ordered a copy – can’t wait to read it. They certainly did not teach the history of India in my high school so I have a lot of catching up to do.   I have also ordered India After Ghandi by Ramachandra Guha.  (Prior to my visit I did read the MSU One Book One Community selection Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.)

In short, during my week in Bangalore I had an amazing time. I returned energized, inspired and thankful.

And yes, I did love the food.

Thank you Mary, Pam & Catherine #ald12

#CESI12 Tweet up!!

This year for Ada Lovelace Day, I would like to thank three special IT women: Mary Loftus, Pam O’Brien, Catherine Cronin. (pictured from left to right above.) I’m trying to remember how our connection began…I believe it was via another special woman, Pam Moran and #edchatie. Our connection was immediate and I have learned (and continue to learn) so much from our exchanges online and offline.  In a very short time, our community has grown into a hashtag (#ITWomen), has generated conference proposals (for both Grace Hopper & SXSWedu) and now includes many more women in IT and educational leadership. I am thankful every day to call these amazing women my friends.

2011 Post – Thank you Dr. Caroline Haythornthwaite
2010 Post – Thank you Dr. Catherine Mohr



You too can contribute to Ada Lovelace Day!

Just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Write about a women in science, technology, engineering or maths whose achievements you admire.
  2. Publish your story online.
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  5. Tell your friends! Twitter hashtag is #ald12