Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Afterglow of EdCampDallas

Working in a special education classroom... I attend a ton of professional development that is not always what I need (but then again.. I am sure that most people say that!) Now, not to say that I don't attend some really good stuff too, but I always like the option of choosing what I want to learn... rather than being told.

A couple of years ago I attended EdCampPlano and knew that I wanted to help when the next one came around.  I emailed the organizers and said I was ready to help.

Okay, so what is an EdCamp?
Edcamps are composed of educators, administrators & staff members who share a vested interest in growing professionally. Unlike other conferences, edcamps are considered to be an unconference because it does not include a key note speaker and the cost of attending is free. You want to share your ideas, sign up to speak. You want to hear the ideas of others being shared, sign up to attend a session.
my favorite photo from @ipadsammy

This weekend EdCampDallas was held in Coppell High School and it was AWESOME!
A few of my favorite things about EdCamps:
-it is FREE!
-there are no vendors (now.. vendors are welcome to attend to be able to network and share, but it is a learning community.. so it is not a you need to buy this product now!)
-you are surrounded by other educators that want to spend their time really learning
-you give teachers a chance to share their knowledge in a setting that might not otherwise be available
-CONNECTIONS! I LOVE connecting with other people outside my classroom.  
Thanks @ipadsammy for a Fantastic video!

@jessica_branch hanging up the schedule
When you walk into an EdCamp there is big blank schedule.  If you want to present.. you sign up.  That easy!  If you attend a session that is not for you... you choose another one (no hard feelings!)

I attended some great sessions! I learned a ton about iMovie from @stuartburt  I also had a chance to present on Technology in the Multi-ability classroom. Hanging out with the Coppell ISD iTeam in the virtual blended learning lab was AWESOME!  I got some great new ideas on presentation forms.  The day ended with a SmackDown and of course DOORPRIZES!

The best way I was able to help was through Doorprizes :) I So appreciate all of the vendors that helped with these awesome doorprizes! You can check out the sponsor page to see all of the sponsors!

Follett send them a tweet @follettsoftware

Horizon Imprinting took care of our awesome Organizer shirts!
Core PD by ETA Hand2mind @ETAhand2mind 
IR Great Innovations LLC

BrainPOP send them a tweet @brainpop

Smoothboard send them a tweet @smoothboard

TechSmithEdusend them a tweet @TechSmithEDU and they also donated 3 camtasia codes!

Big thanks also goes to: 
-ThingLink send them a tweet @ThingLink_EDU
-iHomeEducatorssend them a tweet @iHomeEducator
-Nearpod send them a tweet @Nearpod
-SimpleK12- send them a tweet @SimpleK12
-Flocabulary- send them a tweet @Flocabulary
-Edutopia- send them a tweet @Edutopia
-Wonderopolis- send them a tweet @wonderopolis
-TCEA- send them a tweet @TCEA

Thank you SO much to all that donated, attended, shared, and learned!  I know that I had a fantastic day and am already looking forward to the next one!  EdCampWaller?

Have you attended an EdCamp?  What did you take away from it?

the tweeps at #edcampdallas

Monday, September 24, 2012

Magnificent Monday-IR Great Innovations and Smoothboard Air

If you have been following my youtube videos for any time you have probably seen my How to make an Interactive Whiteboard using a WiiMote.  I have been using a form of Smoothboard since the beginning, and let me tell you how AWESOME Smoothboard Air is!  When I made my first video I had Goh Boon Jin actually comment on video.  I felt SO special!  Since I been using the Smoothboard Air he has answered all the questions that I might have, and have also given me pointers.

I have set up my group/calendar area with the Rear Projection Screen from IR Great Innovations.  I have been working with them for over 3 years now, and they are FANTASTIC! Always super helpful, fast, and kind!  Not only is my rear projection system from there, but also my IR Pens that I use

I love using the IR pens with the wiimote, but the Smoothboard Air ROCKS! Once I load the program I can use the wiimote portion of it, but I can also use my iPad or other mobile device.  

QR code that gives the IP address to add the iPad as a mobile whiteboard device.  No camera? That is okay! As long as you have internet connection you can enter the IP address. 

Scanning the QR code

Now all my devices are synced, but I can also use my IR pen!

Best part?  You can annotate!  These options are also on the  iPad

I am currently using this during my News 2 You and Unique reading time.  I like the ability that I have to be able to highlight specific areas that I want my students to see.  I also like the ability of the pen mode in the IR pen, but also being able to use a stylus on the iPad.  When my students need to write a complete sentence they can do so on the iPad.
Things we have already done using this setup:
-tally marks on favorite snack
-interactive calendar
-sentence writing
-creating hypothesis
-highlighting letters we are working on
-highlighting words we are working on or important words

Working with multi-ability students, I am always looking for ways to meet all learners.  Having this product allows me to increase the rigor in my instruction, but on different levels and different ways... but while still staying on the same topic/idea!

There are SO many other ways that you will be able to use Smoothboard Air.  Have you used it?  What are your favorite things to do?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mail Call Monday- EdCamps- Guest Blogger Jaime Vandergrift

I have had the chance to meet some AMAZING people these past few years!  I had a chance to participate in PadCampDallas that Jaime Vandergrift hosted.  A new form of professional development is popping up all over the US (and EdCampDallas is just around the corner) so I asked if she would write a post on her recent experience EdCampATL.  You can check out the original post here.

Reflections of The Un-Conference Experience – EdCampATL & Beyond

Long time, no blogging! Yes it seems my last blog was also about EdCampAtl, in promoting the event, and here I am now reflecting upon it. To be honest, my blog has hit the back seat in comparison to my digital newsletter. In the last few months, I have wanted to become more connected to my audience, see more analytics, and understand who I was talking to, and what they wanted to hear. I have made the shift from the classroom educator, to the speaker, coach, trainer role full time. In doing so, communication sure changes, and so sorry dear blog… I have neglected you!

With my professional shift, one might ask how I so heartily still jump at the chance to pour months of work into a totally free event, especially now that I get paid to do similar tasks. The answer to that is quite simple I must say… I am a teacher at heart, and boy do we love all things FREE!  Seriously though, I must say that I see the need for edcamps and the philosophy behind them. EdCampAtl, as well as PadCampDallas, both served a very different purpose in the professional development realm. They hand over the learning to the participants, and as a result the take away by attendees always yields better results. Follow any edcamp or padcamp hash tag weeks and months after the event, and see all the tweets about what attendees are NOW doing DIFFERENT, all because of that experience.  Honestly, my commitment to edcamps most certainly make me a BETTER consultant. I won’t ever go into a school without knowing what the teachers in that building want and need. While I honor the vision of the administration, and will do my best to do as asked, I also want to design what I do to give the teachers who are working with me the content THEY want. It is essentially the merging of consulting, with the values of edcamps, which in my mind will only send more of those I meet along the way to edcamp events close to them.  I would love nothing more than to be a part of the changing vision of professional development for educators in the days to come.

If perhaps you are interested in the tech tips and tools I send out each Tuesday morning, you can sign up for my digital newsletter here - - And if that simply isn’t enough… I post daily to my educational technology Facebook page, which you can find and LIKE here - And as always I tweet as @jaimevanderg …. Google + Hangouts are also my new happy place. (A side effect of now working from home without co- workers) …. Find me & Hangout with me there! I love to discuss all things educational!

Also feel free to guilt me into a guest blog post for you… As that tends to bring me back here to just flat out say what I think

Thank you SO much Jaime for guest blogging! Have you been to an EdCamp?  What do you look for in professional development?  Do you want to be a guest blogger on a mail call Monday... email me!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Make it Monday- Getting Ready for International Dot Day 2012

Okay, so a few of my blogs have been about Dot Day lately.  I am much like my mother and I am thankful for connections I make and the stories that I hear along the way.  Dot Day is just that! After following the #dotday tag on twitter I found some amazing teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators.. and so many more that wanted to remind people that you just need to make a mark to make a difference.  You can even check out some really cool authors and illustrators and other celebrities that have taken the time to share their talent by submitting their own dot at Celebri-dots

Reading more about Dot Day my brain started running.. and I wanted to do so much more than just an activity in my classroom (now.. do I have a TON of cool things planned for my classroom.. of course I DO! Keep reading to find out what)  I got with my art teacher, got the okay from the principal... and decided to hold an International Dot Day Event!  Saturday morning from 9am-11am we are inviting families to come make their mark with different dot activities.

I wanted to do something creative with the teachers that are helping, so today after school (oh convenient for Make It Monday) we had a Dot Day T-Shirt Making Party!  Super easy to do.. and I have to admit, so far they look fabulous!

Dot Day Shirts- Tie Dye with Sharpies
Need: sharpies, rubbing alcohol , eye dropper, t-shirt, cups, rubber bands 

Choose where you want to put the cups or cup.  It is up to you what kind of design you want to use!
Once you have the spot, rubberband

Add designs using sharpie (or permanent marker)  Add eye dropper  of alcohol to get your desired effect
Once dry remove rubber bands and cups and throw in dryer to heat set
For Dot Day on the 15th we are going to have 4 stations.  Families will come in and add their dot (made from construction paper) with their signature on it to a paper eagle (our mascot is an eagle) and get their ticket for the stations.  There will be a welcome where The Dot will be read and stations will be explained. We are going to divide k-2 and 3-5 for the day. Stations at school will include: -Glow in the Dark dot station- creating pictures using glow sticks -Thank you station- creating thank you cards using dots to thank those that helped us make our marks -Cookie creation station- decorating cookies -Tie Dye Station- make those cool coffee filter crafts
Making Cool Station Signs!
I am excited about Saturday... but Friday in my classroom is going to ROCK! By following the twitter hashtag #dotday (have I mentioned that few times?) I connected with @matthewwinner who posted some fantastic want ads for connecting with skype in the classroom to connect on Dot Day!  We are connecting with a classroom in Canada so far (more to come!)  There are also some great blogs out there from @mcteach
Thank you @tjshay for helping so many educators dream big, and thanks @peterhreynolds for reminding us to make our mark!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Big Year- Birds of a Feather

I finally had the chance to watch The Big Year.  So, Rotten Tomatoes only gave it 39%, but I found it enjoyable.  I can't pass up a Jack Black movie.  Although my husband and I have varying tastes on movies... we can't pass up an evening of dinner and a movie.  So, we watched.  I enjoyed and my husband made a very interesting observation. Quick overview-Every year there is a competition to see who can see the most birds in the United States. The winner has the ability to say that he/she saw the most birds, meet other people that enjoy watching/looking for birds, sometimes they work together to find more birds, had to give up things at home to travel to see more birds... and sometimes they were conspirators against those that had already found to many birds.  In the end there was no money involved, but more of the journey that was taken to find the most birds. Have I said bird enough times? As we are sitting on the couch, my husband looks over and said this Big Year of hunting birds is like you and your conferences. WOW! Pretty deep for a movie that had low ratings on rotten tomatoes!   What is even more interesting.. is that I agreed with him!  I was very lucky to be able to attend some amazing conferences this year.  Of course I had Podstock where my PLN is the "flock" that I hang with!  This is my favorite conference to meet up with those educators/friends that have the same ideals as I do.  I also had a chance to attend DENSI this year, which had the same feel.  I attended both of these conferences for the connections I could make, my friends I was able to see again, and the learning that I knew would take place.  I also had a chance to attend ISTE2012.  It was pretty amazing, but it was also a chance for me to watch thousands of people learn and watch different kinds of "birds"  There were the ones that embraced newcomers welcoming them into the fold.  These were the ones that understood the importance of collaboration on every level and also the importance of feeling loved and accepted.  There were those that were watching the "birds" as a way to attend required professional development.  There were many different people that were watching many different "birds" Just like in the movie, each of us is on a path to follow their dreams or ambitions.

I think that my husband compared it to my conferences because it took me away from home for almost 4 weeks this summer.  He also compared it because in the end I didn't win anything to prove that I had traveled to all of these conferences.

Isn't it amazing how you can watch a silly movie and it have such a profound idea come from it.  My journey that I was able to take this summer was pretty amazing.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I will continue to work on finding my balance in "bird watching"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Movie Monday-Learning To Earn!

This year I am trying a new behavior incentive.  I really want to work on earning and spending money, so I created the learning to earn board.

Now, just like everything in my classroom, this does not work for every student.  Some students need a higher reinforcer at a faster pace.  But I still want to give all students the opportunity to participate. This is what I have posted on my website for Parent Information
A new update for this year is Learning To Earn!
There will be opportunities throughout the day for your student to be able to earn BeeBucks. 
Every hour students will start on green. 
student stayed on task, did work, and only needed 2 redirections– earns $1.00 BeeBuck
student needed 3-4 redirections to stay on task and complete work– does not earn any BeeBucks
student needed 5-6 redirections to stay on task, Student hit, kicked, bit or scratched a teacher or a friend– owes the bank $1.00 BeeBuck
Students will be able to spend their BeeBucks daily on items such as using a special pen for the day, extra computer time, and other items. There will also be a classroom store that will be open on Friday’s.