Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer Recap

I can't believe that tomorrow starts my 10th year at Irving ISD!  That means at the end of this year I will have been in a school system for 13 years.. and wow how times have changed in just that short amount of time!  I will be posting a blog about goals for this year this week. (I apologize now for the long post :) Just know that there are a TON of other pictures and information)

This summer
-I had a chance to attend and present at the Region 10 ATPE Convention
-I had a chance to spend almost a week in Canyon with my family and Misty
-I was able to attend the State ATPE Summit where I won Support Staff of the Year!
-I spent 3 days with my amazing Podstock Family
-I was able to attend the Destination ImagiNation Ignite conference and met some awesome new people.
Since I have been a terrible blogger this summer.. I am going to give my fave 3 from each event!

Region 10 ATPE Convention:
1. Had a chance to hang out with some of the best people!
2. Learned about the changes that are happening in ATPE
3. Had a chance to present (and even did an okay job even though my computer crashed that morning!)

Canyon with Misty- I can't even begin to think of my top 3! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you can find my hundreds of pictures there :)

ATPE Summit 2014
1. Had a chance to sit in and vote on what I wanted our ATPE lobbyist to work on this next year in the House of Delegates.
2. Was reminded again how important it is to be a part of an organization (and ATPE is AMAZING!)
3. Won Support Staff of the Year.. and had a chance to catch up with my best friend Lesley!

Podstock 2014
This year the theme for Podstock was Super Heroes.  So, I transformed into the Busy Bee (are you surprised?)  Podstock this yeas was very different for myself.  I am a Podstock Stalker (I often call myself a Podstalker)  It was amazing as always.  For myself.. I felt a little out of place (NO.. this is not a bad thing what so ever!) There were so many amazing people there.. and they were all making their own amazing Podstock memories.  It took me a long time to reflect on this.  I read the Twitter feed, Facebook feed, and all the blog posts and realize that although it was different for me other newbie Podstockers were seeing the greatness of the connections!
1. LOVE seeing all my friends old and new.. I mean my FAMILY!  Podstock is where I am rejuvenated!
2. Great extra events- I LOVED the Pinewood Derby (and of course I loved the Gift Exchange and Photowalk) and our new Scavenger Hunt!
3. Not going to lie.. my costume sort of rocked :)

Destination ImagiNation Ignite Conference
I have been a Destination ImagiNation Team Manager for 6 years now (at least.. I think 6) and this year I was able to attend a one day conference.
1. Able to connect with people from around the world! It was such a global conference!
2. Learned some new ideas to use this next year for our own DI teams at Elliott
3. Had a great evening with a new friend Peter

This summer I also had a chance to work for SMU at various technology camps.  It was a busy summer (but I don't think I would know how to spend my time if I wasn't busy!)  

What was your favorite part of your summer?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It is the most wonderful time of the year!  July is one of my favorite months of the year. 
This summer I began by hanging out at the SMU Plano campus and teaching various courses by Black Rocket to excited 3-5th graders (and somewhat excited) 6-8th graders (middle schoolers are just a little different.  I have had a blast though!  So far I have taught Coding (HTML, CSS, and a little bit of Java) and creating applications using Construct 2.  In a couple of weeks I will be teaching a Minecraft class! 

Anyway.. so July is my favorite because...
-I get to see my family!  The first week of July I usually make the trek to Amarillo with one of my partners in crime Misty to hang out with family and of course see friends.
-ATPE Summit is in July. I have always been a member of ATPE, but after going to Summit last year I realized how  much ATPE really does for me as a teacher.  This next year I will even be the president of the Irving ATPE. I wrote about last years Summit here This year I am even presenting (and I am super honored to be a finalist for an award too!)


My most favorite part of July is PODSTOCK!
Now, I know that some people like to go to Spas to relax and rejuvenate .. but I am one of those crazy people that love to go to conferences.. and Podstock is my most favorite of all!
Podstock is not just a conference.. it is my family. It is 3 days of meeting others that are as excited about technology in education as I am.  It is also the time for me to not feel out of place because of my quirkiness.  Each year is a different theme, and this year is Super Hero!  I am currently out of town, so having a tough time on the computer that I am using to upload my Super Hero Picture, but you can find it here- But, my Super Hero is "The Busy Bee"  I am always finding the good in all that I meet and BEElieving in them!

So, not only is there a conference.. but there are ton of fun extras you can do too!  Ginger and I just did a whole show to the extras and you can listen to it here. ESSDACK always does an amazing job, but I love that they let me play along and create things too!  Some of the extras that I am helping with:
-John Martin (Edventures) and I are working on a challenge scavenger hunt using Social Scavenger  We will be launching the MCDT (Make, Create, Do, Teach) Challenges on Monday July 14th!  Be following #podstock14 for more information
-I am super excited about the 5th annual Gift Exchange!  Anyone is welcome to join.  All you need is a gift that is under $25 and show up about 5pm on Thursday July 17th.  The most important thing to remember about the gift, it needs to represent you, your classroom or where you are from.  I LOVE hearing the stories behind all of the gifts.
-Podstock Photowalk will be Friday morning July 18th.  We will be meeting at 7am (I know that sounds early.. but it is totally worth it!) and heading out at 7:15am.  Participants joining will be back in time for the first session.

There are of course a ton of other things happening in July and at Podstock.  I will have another blog coming next week of the costumes I am creating so I can transform into "The Busy Bee" (I mean.. what other conference do you get a chance to dress up at!)

What is your favorite conference and why?  Have you attended Podstock before?  Are you going to join in all the fun extras?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring #DENVirtCon

Wow! These weeks are just flying by!  I can't believe that it is almost the end of  the year.  I have already started making a list of the things that I want to do during the summer... and even more.. I have started making a list of the things I want to do with kids next year!  I have to say.. to keep myself organized I am loving my Uncalendar-

Anyway, yesterday I participated in my 3rd DENvirtcon (Discover Education Network Virtual Conference)... but it was my First to present!  I presented over Are You up for the Challenge and shared how I am using Tech challenges for teachers, classrooms and students.  Would you like all my resources.. check out my Livebinder
During my session I proposed a #DENvirtcon Mission!  One of my favorite challenges I have done with adults is from Wesley Fryer is the 5 Photo Story- Find out about it here
Check out some people that took on the challenge!
Thanks Dayson

Thanks Louise
I also had a Smore submitted by Jeannine Shields

Loved that people took on the challenge and did it their own way!

I hosted an event at my school, picked up donuts had out the DEN Swag and got ready for an AWESOME day of learning!
Top 3 reasons I love the DENvirtcon
3. I get to choose my own learning... and on my own time!  There were SO many amazing sessions offered.  My weekends get so busy.. so I love that I can require myself to get some amazing PD.  I could watch a Live event.. or choose to watch an archived one.
2. The people I get to meet!  It is awesome to hangout with people face 2 face, but I also love that I can collaborate with people virtually.  Check out the #DENvirtcon hashtag for some great conversations!
The number 1 reason I love the #DENvirtcon
1. The INSPIRATION I get from hearing from other people that are in my shoes.. and doing some awesome things!

You can find all of the archived sessions at and there are some AWESOME ones!

Best way to start the day.. donuts and swag!

I was ready for my preso!

One of my favorite speakers! I LOVE the stories that Elaine Plybon shares

Thanks for the awesome lunch!
The Irving F2F crew

Thank you to all the DEN crew and a HUGE thank you goes out to Steve Dembo and Chad Lehman for answering all of my crazy silly questions and putting on a great day!  Even though there were a few tech glitches.. that gave our f2f group time to discuss the different things we had learned... and an opportunity to catch up on the Twitter feed (which was FLYING!)  Thanks for the lunch, learning and fun!   I can't wait until next year!

Did you attend the #DENvirtcon?  What was your big take away?

Not going to lie.. biggest highlight of the day- Jane McGonigal favorited one of my tweets. and then responded to it!
Love her book Reality is Broken- Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World

Sunday, April 20, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week 2014

I know I have been absent in blogging lately.  It is testing season at school and my to do list is huge... but I haven't been the most productive!

Hubby and I did have a chance to visit the bluebonnets (was a little sad that we are missing Wolfgang, but I know that he is watching down from doggy Heaven)

This week, however, marks National Infertility Awareness Week.  I know that I use this blog for educational thoughts, but I wanted to share a more personal note to help raise awareness.  Much like with my weight loss blogs I have posted, I want to start off with I am VERY happy with who I am and where I stand in life. I am also VERY happy for all my friends that have their own families (now.. in reality.. I do have some sad times.. but I am allowed those, right?)  

When I was in my late teens/early 20's I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Feel free to read up on it, I won't go into all the details... other than it affects my sugars (which makes it hard to lose weight) and affects my hormones which makes it hard to become pregnant.  My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years (I can't believe that this summer is 9 years!) and for 8 of those we have tried to start a family off and on.  Our trials have been through trials of Clomid, injections, weight loss, and tears of feeling like less of a woman because I can not have children easily.  We have spent thousands of dollars to try to start our little family.  This last summer, because of my weight loss, I finally had some progress with the Clomid medication, but when the 3rd month came around... it was no longer showing that it was being effective.  I am grateful for the friends that understand this hard journey... because honestly I do judge myself often.  
You can find more information on this infographic here

Looking for information on National Infertility Week? Check this website out.

I have 2 favorite videos when talking about infertility: What If (and I ask myself this often, there are so many What If questions when thinking about starting a family)

On a final note.. wherever my children might come from, I know that I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing children over my career. I might not be a true mother, but I do know the love of a child.  Take heart to those that struggle to start a family.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


This past week I had a great mentor tell me that I had Grit. She mentioned that I need to look up Angela Lee Duckworth and take a moment to watch her TEDTalk The Key to Success: Grit.

Webster's Dictionary defines Grit as mental toughness and character.

Now, the reason I write this blog is not from the compliment that was given (but it sure is an awesome one) but because this last week my Long Ways Granny passed away.  Long Ways Granny you ask? Everyone has their nicknames for their relatives.  I grew up in the small town of Canyon, Texas... but my grandmother lived in an the even smaller town of Bovina.  Bovina was a good hour and a half drive away from my house... so of course she is Long Ways Granny.

Ah the early years.  My sister and I about to hunt Easter Eggs.

Beautiful set up to share wonderful memories.

So, this past weekend I drove the 6 hours to get home to be with my family.  Usually at funerals you share memories, thoughts, laughs and you meet people that you never knew were so closely bound by one person and you hug the necks of family members.  But as I listened to the stories that were shared about my grandmother... all I could think about was Grit.  

I have 2 amazing parents (I am going to go ahead and say that mine are the best) that taught me from an early age that the way to get through in life is to work hard, have dreams and never give up.  Anything can be accomplished as long as you put some elbow grease and your mind to it.  They also taught me to always have an open heart and an open mind and to remember that everyone is on a different path. 
My AWESOME parents!

After the funeral many of us traveled out to the "Farm" where my dad was raised.  The stories that were shared during that time will forever be in my heart and my soul.  I listened as people shared stories of my grandparents Grit.  Their perseverance to make a life and a home for their family.  I learned the story of how much sweat went into harvesting good crops. None of this was an easy task with a fast way out, but because of that the land continues to thrive.  

"Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina.  Grit is sticking with your future day in and day out, not just for the week, not for just a month, but for years. and working really hard to make that future a reality.  Grit is like living life like a marathon." Angela Lee Duckworth

I know that I am the person today because of the family members before me that have taught me to have passion.  No matter what my situation I know that with hard work and putting my mind to it I can accomplish anything.  I appreciated the reminder this weekend that by planting seeds and cultivating the land so much can grow.

As was said this weekend
"The fruits of your labor is going to pay off many years from now.  When you think nobody cares and you think when you are doing at the time, is all of this really necessary, it is.Because people like us get to come back and see it, and be reminded of why we are and who we are and why we were created to be that way." Lance Teague

My heritage has always had Grit.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Magnificent Monday-So Long Gnop-Jiye

YAY for spring break!  I have enjoyed sleeping.... and most of all... getting to some of those things that have been stuck on my to do list forever, but keep getting bumped down because of other things.  Such as-I have cleaned/organized both of my Google Drives..... and drum roll please.. my main Gmail account is at INBOX ZERO! Now, I still have 4 other emails I need to work on, but YAY!

A few weeks ago an author connected with me (and even better.. she is a teacher too!) and wanted to share her book.  Katrina Moore's book just recently came out, and I was super excited about the opportunity.
So Long Gnop-Jiye

So Long Gnop-Jiye  by Katrina Moore  is a wonderful story of a mother sharing a childhood story to her children.  During the story the mother (Kuen-Mun) weaves the tale of her family having to quickly leave Hong Kong and relocate to America. During this quick move she had to leave her beloved Gnop-Jiye (little duck) behind along with many of her belongings.  Kuen-Mun continues to share this now bedtime story of how she had to attend a new school and could not understand the language spoken and how as she grew older she had an understanding of the sacrifice that her family made so she would be able to have a better life.

Reasons I love this story:
-It was an easy read, and one that students will be able to easily associate with.  Many of our students are ones that have had to move at some point in their life, and many are also ones that have had to leave their home country.
-Katrina has a FANTASTIC teacher resource guide that you can download! You can find the Teacher Download here . This guide has great question stems, discussion ideas, and also pages that you can use so students can create their own memoir.  It is also a great resource to compare current times with other times throughout history.
-I love how this story is told.  I can remember spending evenings where my own mom would read to me, or share stories of her childhood.  To have this one in a book made it so enjoyable, as I could just imagine the children hanging on every word that the mother told of her journey.

I think as educators we have to remind ourselves to step back and look at the hole picture of the child.  Where have they come from, what is their story?  This book does a great job of reminding not only the reader that people have had to endure great hardships, but also reminding educators that we are all on a journey.

Favorite quote:
"He put down his chopsticks and sighed, 'Kuen-Mun, when were in Hong Kong, all our money and all our riches were taken from us without permission.  We were rich, but we had no freedom.  Now, you are Mary. You may be poor, but you are free to be whoever you want to be.'

Moore, K. (2014). So long gnop-jiye. Mustang: Tate Publishing.

I can't wait to share this book with the teachers on my campus, and I am even more excited that Katrina is going to be a guest author for our CARE Day 2014!  Check out Katrina on Twitter and Facebook and happy reading!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Digital Gaming- SXSWedu Recap

I am so thankful that Spring Break has started... and I finally have a chance to reflect and share my learning from SXSWedu!

I had the amazing opportunity to attend SXSWedu this year with BrainPOP (some of my most favorite people!)

I did a hands on session called Beyond the Gameboard- Digital Gaming in the Kinder-3rd Grade Classroom
Since I have been doing challenges in my school and classroom, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to create challenges for the participants to work through!

Each table had 3 missions. Thanks to Caitlin Andrews for making my envelopes look awesome!

The Game Up Logo was created by BrainPOP (one of my most FAVORITE websites!) You should sign up for a free BrainPOP Educators account so you can see all the great freebies they have!

So, mission one was more geared towards a kinder/1st grade classroom.  Participants had to roll the dice, count up how many dots there were and then fill in the squares.  When the table completed the challenge they received a piece of Moby.

Mission 2 was geared more towards 2nd/3rd.  This one was a much more digital challenge.  I got this amazing idea from Wesley Fryer to create a five picture story! It was super fun to watch participants complete this challenge (and see what resources they used!) You can find more information about this challenge here. Once this was completed they received the 2nd piece of Moby.

Mission 3 was geared more towards 3rd grade.  During this mission participants had to use Google Earth or Google Maps to calculate how many miles each person had traveled.  Once this had been done the table had to come up with a  more central location with the information that they had. This was the last challenge. They received their last piece of Moby and also a BrainPOP calendar.

I had an awesome time watching the different tables finishing the various missions.  Wanted to include a few other pictures from the awesome adventure (I have a ton more on my FB page)  Although for this session I did not have a projector or computer.. I also had a chance to share about the AWESOME games that BrainPOP and BrainPOPJr. has through Game Up! If you think digital games are just about sitting a student in front of a computer or device.. Game Up will make you rethink that! These games are even better when done in a collaborative group.  They offer tons of opportunities for academic conversations and higher order thinking as students (and teachers alike) work through the games.  Did I mention they are FREE!  You should check them out!

After they completed their missions (I only had 30 minutes for this hands on session!) I had a chance to share about Techformers Unite, the Affinity Game and the Tech Challenges I am doing with teachers. SO much to share... and SO little time1

Had a chance to make my own Meme (without using technology!) Check out their blog!

This is one of the biggest highlights!  I am always so inspired by students to amazing things.. and Jack Andraka is awesome! He even took time out of his day to come over and take a selfie with me! Thank you for inspiring Jack!

The Digital Harbor Foundation is doing some amazing things in Baltimore, and I had so much fun changing the colors on these lights

Of course.. I tried to get a group picture of all the AMAZING BrainPOP peeps.. but these random shots will have to do :)