Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reflections of ISTE 2012- The Beginning

As I sit in the San Diego airport I can't even wrap my brain around all that has happened in the last 5 days. ISTE was amazing, overwhelming, fantastic, and so many other descriptive words. There are going to be several blogs in the coming future of all that I learned and all that I did, but today... I have other ideas for my blog.

I have to admit that I did learn a ton, but I learned the most from the poster sessions and the people that I actually met along the way.

This has been one of the most amazing years, but also been one of the toughest years. It has been amazing becuase I have had the different honors awarded to me from TCEA Teacher of the Year, to NSBA 20 Educators to Watch, to Tech and Learning Most Influential in Ed-Tech. I have had the chance to present at the Autism State Conference in Houston and the New Leaf in Learning Conference in Chicago, and the Autism Conference in Amarillo. I have had the chance to attend CoSN in Washington D.C., TCEA in Austin, and now ISTE in San Diego.

I would not have had all of these awesome opportunities had I not had the supportive husband that told me to go try, the parents that helped me financially along the way along with moral support, several other people that helped me financially get to the different areas, and of course my amazing PLN! The Professional Learning Network (aslo known as friends) have been so amazing

So, what was ISTE to me? It was connections, gathering wth people with like minded ideas, reminding each other that even though we are doing some crazy things.. we need to continue to do it for the kids (because in the end.. isn't that the most important) and yesterday it was the ones that allowed me a shoulder to cry on as I got news of not getting a job that I thought I had wanted for so long. With those tears came amazing friends with assurances that everything happens for a reason... and it just means that I am getting ready for some bigger and better things. I think that is also means that there is change in the air! Am I scared right now.. of course I am... do I have a job for next year.. yes I do... but am I thinking about change... YES I AM! Thank you all my ISTE people! Thank you Lorie, Nancy, Sherry, Dyane and Kay for being the should I could lean on and cry. Thank you Paul, Dean, and Mitch for always watching out for me and being ready with a hug when I needed it. Thank you Carol for fun adventures. Thank you Rebecca for the AMAZING opportunity that you allowed me to have to attend ISTE. Thank you Ginger for your honesty and love... I really enjoyed our conversations. Thank you Kevin for making me feel and reminding me that I am going to make a change.. and not to give up. There are so many other amazing people that helped make ISTE amazing like Jim, Karen, Kelly, Marilyn, and Allan.

I don't know where next year is going to lead. If it is back in the classroom.. I am going to rock it. If it is something else.. I will rock that too! Whatever or wherever my next adventure takes me.. I know that I will have my supportive family by my side.. and my AMAZING friends to help me get through!

Once I get back to Dallas there will be blogs with lots of links of the different things I learned and the people that I met!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ISTE 12- What a Whirlwind!

So, I am sure that you noticed (for all of those awesome followers out there!) that I did not post yesterday. These 2 days have been full of making connections, meeting new people, and sitting in on some fantastic sessions.

Monday I made my way to bloggers cafe to hang out with some awesome friends. I did make it to a session over Adobe Premiere and creating documentaries. Although a vendor (I am so apprehensive sometimes about attending vendor sessions... sorry) they had real teachers presenting and it was hands on. I really enjoyed using the software, but I enjoyed even more learning about how others were digital storytelling in their classroom. You know me, always a sucker for connecting with people :) I have to admit I did not attend any more sessions after that but headed out for lunch around 3. Even though there is only a 2 hour time change difference.. that is still a HUGE change. Monday evening was full of events. I had a chance to chat with creators and founders of kidblogs, class dojo, remind 101, and educreations. I will have to go back and add links to all of those when I am no longer mobile :) Of course I got to see my BrainPOP friends which always makes me so happy. Speaking of BrainPOP.. there is a BrainPOPJr App!

Today was preparing for the AWESOME Follett Software Great Thinkers Event! When I get back to Dallas this event is going to get its own blog, because my mind is still going 90 to nothing tonight! Rebecca Levinson had a fantastic panel.. ones that were not necessarily ones you would think of to see at a teacher based conference... but what conversations that were had!

I have so much more to write, but my brain is oh so very tired! More reflections to come this weekend. Tomorrow I am going to hit up some poster sessions and take lots more pictures :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

ISTE 2012 The Beginning

The time on my watch says 1am, no wonder I am so tired :) However, I am not on Texas time anymore, I am on San Diego, California time!

I have been offered the coolest opportunity ever! I have the chance to attend ISTE 2012! What is ISTE you ask? ISTE is International Society for Technology in Education.. in other words it is a GIANT tech conference!

I read up on all of the newbie blogs on how to prepare... and yep.. I still wasn't prepared!

Things That I did do (now, remember.. I have only been here for about 6 hours now)
-introduced myself to some awesome people (however.. they might have thought I was slightly crazy.. the excitement of ISTE has me a little overwhelmed.. I promise I will be much more calm tomorrow)
-packed comfortable shoes! Only been here a few hours, but already have done some major walking..

That is pretty much where my list ends for now. I am scouring over the ISTE giant binder right now trying to figure out what my game plan will be for tomorrow. On the way home from dinner I did stop and get me a 6 pack of bottled water, granola bars, and breakfast food (this way I will be much more pleasant!)

I look forward to learning tons and meeting a ton of cool people! I wish I had understood better about bringing address labels for the doorprize drawings, it is going to take me FOREVER to get those all filled out. I will try to post pictures along the way, but doing this ISTE completely mobile.

Things I am looking forward to:
-meeting other educators and having some great conversations.
-seeing some of my awesome friends again!
-taking lots of pictures
-The Follett Great Thinkers meet up is going to be awesome!

So.. for now, I guess I had better sign off and pretend to get some sleep. Looking forward to lots of learning. Be sure to check out the twitter feed #ISTE12

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Diviners

Have I mentioned that I have the coolest friends?  Let me say it again... I have the COOLEST friends!  This evening I was invited to a play The Diviners by Jim Leaonard Jr. that was being put on at Arts Fifth Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas.  You know me, I can never say no to adventures and great friends.

I arrived early with the Plybons.  David was playing Ferris, the father, and Elaine was working the sound board.  The venue is small and quaint, but one where you feel the passion of the theater running through the veins of all that enter.  Although I arrived early I was able to drink in all of the hustle and bustle of excited actors and actresses.

The scenes were set in sepia tones, and the director did an amazing job of keeping the tone.  It was continuous from the set background to the clothing the character wore.  I won't give the story away... because you need to go see it!  But, I want to share why it affected me so.  Brian Dougher took some unbelievable photos.  

The main character was a boy with intellectual disability.. and the young actor did an AMAZING job of portraying him.   This play and the actors did a great job of showing how loving and caring a community can be.  It also showed, however, how hard it must be at times to be a parent of a child with any type of varying ability.  I was pulled into the characters lives in the first 5 minutes.  When Elaine told me to bring Kleenexes, I knew it was going to be for the end... but I found myself using them during the first act.  The heart, soul, and emotions that came through this play were unbelievable.  

Find out more information and how to buy tickets at Jason Leyva's website.  They are of course on Facebook  and twitter  I can not wait to see another one their productions (might even go see this one again!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ISTE 2012

I am SO super excited!  I get to attend my FIRST ISTE this year!  So, for the next couple of weeks this blog and my youtube page are going to be devoted to ISTE!  I plan to take lots of pictures and lots of videos of the things I learn, the people I meet, the connections I make... and of course some ins and outs I learn along the way.

My first video is about the ISTE app.  How are you preparing for ISTE?  I have already read some great blogs. Flourishing Kids wrote this one -11 mistakes I made at ISTE @flourishingkids.  The Nerdy Teacher wrote another one over-The Nerdy Teachers Guide to ISTE 2012 @thenerdyteacher

There are SO many more blogs out there.. just check out twitter and follow the hashtag #ISTE12

Are you going to ISTE? How are you preparing?  I hope to connect!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Skype in the Classroom

I just LOVE twitter! I love seeing what people are talking about, learning new things, and SHARING! Last week I had Skype in the Classroom follow me.. and ask how I used Skype in the Classroom.  So, I thought I would give a quick overview!

3 years ago I attended the first Podstock and met some amazing people!  Amazing people that were excited to collaborate and video conference with my self contained special education classroom.  Now, I say video conference.. skype was blocked at the time in our district so we were using gmail chat.  Now our school is able to use skype and oh my goodness the opportunities my students have had!

Our first couple of calls were not very successful, not because of connection issues.. but because I hadn't taught my students how to be a good audience or good participants.  Once I put the rules in place my students couldn't wait to see who was going to be our next skype call!

Our classroom has skyped with Kimberly in El Paso, where her class read us stories.  I then skyped with a Dyane's class in Kansas where exchanged Christmas cards, sang carols, and read a book.  After those first few skype/video conference calls.. I wanted more! I wrote a grant for 50 webcams.  This would give each LIFE classroom a webcam, so we could start video conferencing throughout the district and beyond.  I wrote social directions for students to follow that incorporated words and picture symbols.

Since those first calls our classroom has had a chance to skype with Kim's class in Kansas and was able to see a real llama, skype with Olivia Holt from Disney's Kickin It over bullying, Dyane's class for Christmas and Dr. Seuss birthday, Elaine in Illinois to tell her thank you, and classrooms across our district.  We have created collaborative poems using google docs and skype.  I even took my students on a virtual tour of the National Museum when I was in DC for CoSN for the NSBA 20 to Watch Reception.  You can check out some of our products that we made collaboratively at our class blog

This year I found a private donor that donated an iPad 2 to our classroom which made skype calls so much easier!

I am super excited to see what other educators are on Skype in the Classroom website.  I have some good connections, but I am always looking for other people to connect with!  How do you use Skype in the Classroom?  Who do you connect with?  What activities do you do?

So, for the next 2 weeks I am going to be talking about ISTE!  Be watching for videos, snippets of information, and just ISTE talk in general.  I am a complete newbie!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Did you know that ISTE 2012 is 7 days away.. Podstock is 32 days away.. and then DENSI is 34 days away.. and 105 days until Edcampdallas?  So.. with all that being said my email has been FLOODED with emails!  I LOVE getting emails from teachers and collaborating!

So, if you emailed me last week.. I deleted the email before I could reply.  I am SO sorry!  Please email me again (and I promise I won't hit the delete key!)  I feel so bad!  I have scoured every mailbox for the last hour to try to find the email.. with no luck.

Be watching for lots of blogs coming up!  Skype in the classroom, ISTE 2012, Podstock, DENSI and just life in general.  Happy Father's Day tomorrow.. and happy 7 year anniversary to my amazing and talented husband!