Sunday, March 8, 2015


Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the North Texas Teen Book Festival. Now, when I put this on my calendar.. I really had NO IDEA how awesome it would be!  I had received an invite from one of my favorite friends (a young woman who I used to nanny for.. and is graduating this year!)  The Festival took place just down the street from my house and when we walked in I thought.. oh.. I am just going to spend a couple of hours and then head back to the house.. I could not have been more wrong.

The festival had a robust schedule of author panels, book speed dating, book sales and the end of the day an awesome book signing.  Did I mention that it was FREE?

I dropped my counterparts in the Book Speed Dating area (To attend the book speed dating, attendees had to have a wristband to attend.  The wristband got them into the area where they chose a table and learned about 4 or 5 different books.. and then were able to choose the one that spoke to them the most.)  I headed to my first panel.

It's the End of the World as We Know It
Explore dystopian and science fiction futures.

I admit it.. my favorite books are young adult books and I love series.  I sat on this panel because I am loving Patrick Carman's books.  (I might or might not have gone through the line and purchased the Pulse, Tremor and Quake)  After sitting in on this panel.. I backtracked through the line and picked up Alex London's books Proxy and Guardian.

I had a chance to sit in on one more session One Story at a Time: Discuss the challenges and freedoms of writing stand alones with Adi Alsaid, Karen Harrington, Claire Legrand, Julie Murphy, Sara Zarr, Jennifer Ziegler and moderated by Carson Thompson

This panel really made me take a second look at the stand alone books.  It was great to hear the authors talk about how they plan out books and how they plan out characters.

My Top 5 Take Aways from #NTTFB15
5. The volunteers that put this on where AMAZING!  There were so many librarians and teachers that had brought groups of students.  Did I mention that it was the Saturday of spring break?  I attend conferences often where I am googly eyed over the different presenters. It was so amazing to see these students/kids so engaged in the author panels.. who gets a chance like that?
4. The panels were fantastic.  There were so many options with so many awesome authors.  These authors really knocked it out of the park (at least the ones that I had a chance to view) 
3. The students that were there.  At each panel they opened up the floor to questions from the audience. The questions that these students came up were AMAZING!  They were so well thought out and such good questions.  It also takes a ton of courage to get up and ask a question.
2. The joy of all attendees.  It was PACKED for this event (I mean, there were buses lined up dropping kids off)  The excitement and book conversations that I overheard were wonderful.  I am an avid gadget girl, but I love the feel of a real book.  There were thousands of young adults, students, and adults alike with their arms full of books and having conversations about all of the topics.
1. "The worst writing I have ever done, is better than the best writing I have never done." said by Alex London.  These authors inspired young learners (and adult learners) how powerful it is to share their work no matter if it is good or bad.  That it is important to be rejected, because that only makes you better.  

Tomorrow I head for #SXSWedu where I will be talking about digital storytelling.  Being a teacher of children with various disabilities I learned how important it is for everyone to have a chance to share their story.. whether it be digital or paperback.  

Thank you #NTTFB15 for an absolutely wonderful event.  I want to volunteer next year!  Happy Reading! I leave you with the lines to get books signed. This just proved that books are awesome and authors are rockstars

Selfie with Alex London

Selfie with Patrick Carman

A great article about it from the Dallas News.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

I know that I start most of my blogs/posts/statements out that I have the coolest parents. I really do have the coolest parents though... I mean.. my dad is SANTA!  This year he is even on a blanket, puzzle, gift bag and card.. You can find them at Boot Barn.   To make sure that I am on the Nice List... I am having a Jamberry Give Away!
#TexasSanta 2013
Just fill out this Rafflecopter!  I will be choosing a name on Friday December 19th to make sure that #texassanta doesn't have me on a Naughty List!
This is what I will be sporting next week!
Now, there is not enough time to order to get them in time for Christmas... BUT you can still order a Gift Card for that special someone!  Want to check out the full catalog.. check out my site! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Tis the season to be crafty.  With the hustle and bustle of my normal schedule, the holidays are my FAVORITE time of year.  My family has always impressed the value of a home made gift... but I chalk up my craftiness to my Aunt Bettie and my Troop leader Nuglet (Nancy Huntington).  Last week my Aunt Bettie passed away, but some of my best memories was learning to do crafty things.. singing fun songs.. and just being with the greatest family.  I know that I have had said this before, but I am super lucky to have a ton of amazing people in my life that continually shape me into the woman that I am.

So, this blog will be overloaded with craftiness.. and done with loving memory of Nuglet and Aunt Bettie. (now, with all that being said.. my crafts are never perfect.. and they are full of cheese.. but I sure do enjoy making them!)

First.. the annual Christmas ornament.  We also created something for family members growing up, but my first year teaching I wanted to make sure that every teacher got something in their box for the holidays.  So.. I make sure to make almost 100 ornaments every year (you can't leave out the awesome cafeteria ladies and custodians!)  This year I got my inspiration from By Stephanie Lynn (you can find the original post here) not going to lie.. this is probably the easiest ornament that I have made in a while.

Materials needed: yarn (and.. the little bit more expensive yarn does work better!) ornament balls (the blog recommends Styrofoam balls but I found these ornaments on sale and when you are making 100 you get creative!) thin black ribbon and silver glitter puffy paint.

Have I mentioned I am a little partial to Santa Claus :) Now, the one tough part of this whole ornament was actually wrapping the ornaments with the yarn was a little hard when you first started because the ornament was so smooth and not an actual ball because of the top part.

 This last week was also Secret Santa.. which means another time for me to have a chance to do some crafts!  I did the regular things like leaving sodas and little trinkets in her box, but I was pretty pleased with  my larger items.

Did I mention that my Secret Santa took great care of me too? I was SO spoiled this week!
What is your favorite thing to do during the holidays? Do you have any traditions?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Tech Bulletin Board

A couple of weeks ago our Destination ImagiNation teams were working on team names for their groups this year.  One of our team managers grabbed a sticky note to write our team name... and we all LOVE DI, but I do have to admit.. this is pretty fantastic!

Anyway, I posted several pictures a few weeks ago about my giant bulletin board I have outside my classroom.. and wanted to share what I do with it.

My board is divided into 3 sections- Solve, Connect and Tech Words and Info

The solve corner has a monthly challenge for students to complete along with a graph.  I invite students to draw a slip of paper from their grade level, answer the question using the graph, and then add it to the answer envelope.  The graph changes every other week.  I then divide the correct answers by grade level and draw one winner (they get some trinket from my prize box)

The Connect portion of the board has a giant map and each time a class connects their class name goes on the roster with how many miles it is from our school.

The tech words that I chose for this month was the app I was training teachers about and also a word from the technology TEKS (both of these were also involved in the solve challenge) The info also has the monthly challenge for teachers and will also have information for students.

Tomorrow I am training students for the Flight Crew (this will be my tech kids that will be in charge of laptops for the classroom) and next week I will be starting the Flight Program.  Lots coming up!

Do you have a bulletin board for your tech?  What do you showcase on it?  Do you train elementary students to help with computers?  Do you have clubs for technology?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happy New Year

Well, to me it is a Happy New Year!  My years go right in stride with school years!

I have so much to blog about, because so much has been going on.. but if you follow me in other social media areas, I am sure that you can figure that out :)

This year I have started my second year as Instructional Technology Specialist... and let me tell you what a wild ride this year has been already!  I am also mentoring 2 lovely brand spanking new LIFE teachers.. along with team managing Destination ImagiNation and doing all of my other odds and ends that I tend to take on!

But, this post is about my word of the year.  For the last couple of years I have tried to come up with a word that will help me get through the year.  This year is Strength

There are lots of changes going on in my world.. and I think that Strength is super appropriate for this year... not only in school, but also in my life.  So, this year I will have Strength no matter what obstacles I might have.. I can be persistent.  So, I was thinking about this year.. and decided this year I needed a song as well.  My amazing friend Todd Nesloney shared this song by Shawn McDonald.. and it is PERFECT!

I have to remind myself that no matter what might be happening in my life.. that I need to have Strength.. and stay Brave!

I know that you are all waiting for my goals for this year!
-Blog at least once a month.  I loved when I was writing weekly, but I don't know if I can even begin to make that commitment (but watch as soon as I post this blog that I start writing weekly!)
-Be aware of the the time that I am spending at school.  I haven't gotten into my groove yet for not working 12 hour days.. but hopefully that will all change this next week! I am finally to a point in school where I feel like I can leave before 6 :)
-Be better about sharing my learning this year. (some things that I am going to be working on.. Flight Curriculum.. new Tech Challenges... and lots of global collaboration!)

But.. I think my biggest goal this year is not school related at all.  I want to be caught up on bills.  I know that we all struggle.. but that is one of my biggest goals this year!

Do you have goals for this year?  Do you have a word of the year.. or a song of the year?  Looking forward to to catching back up with my blog this year!

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?