Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jamberry Giveaway

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter you might have noticed that my feed has been taken over my new favorite thing right now!  Being a teacher I didn't have time or the funds to get my nails done, but I tried on Jamberry this summer in July, and my nails have not been naked since!
Kiss Me Ombre

Favorite things about Jamberry:
-I LOVE how many designs there are!  I could do a simple color, add accent nails, or even design my own. (I am also in love with the Nail Lacquer Line that is now available- the strengthening basecoat under my wraps are awesome)
-Since they are wraps, I don't have to worry about being uncoordinated in painting my nails
-They are so affordable!
-A manicure can last about 2 weeks and a pedicure about a month
-I can put them on while watching TV using the fantastic Mini Heater
-My nails look great even after I take them off.
Excuse the super short fingernail (weekend causality) but check out how good my real nail looks and I have been wearing Jamberry for over 5 months!

To celebrate the end of 2013 I am hosting a Jamberry Giveaway! Just do the super simple activities listed below.  A winner of the $15 eGiftcard will be drawn on Tuesday December 31st at noon.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you interested in hosting a catalog party, face 2 face party or Facebook party?  Let me know! I would love for you to earn the awesome Hostess gifts!  Interested in joining my team and becoming a consultant? I can help you there too!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Techformers Unite

You might have noticed that I am sort of on a Tech Challenge kick lately.  I LOVE using technology (shhh.. I know this is a shocker!) and I want to help teachers see how easy it is to use in the classroom.  One of the main reasons I wanted to become a Instructional Technology Specialist was so I could begin to affect even more people (students and staff)  I have loved how the challenges are going over in my school, so I decided to branch out!

I put a plea out to my Facebook friends, and I had 9 fabulous friends say they were interested in helping with Tech Challenges.  With LeaAnne, Dave, Robin, Helen, Mindi, Aimee, Jeremy, Sheila, Jan, Jennifer and myself the Techformers Unite group was formed.

"As educators (of any form or fashion) we are constantly saving the world through various challenges! Join the Techformers Unite team to boldly take on technology challenges that increases the use of these tools in your classroom. If you are ready to be a part of the Techformers Unite group, you just need to join our group and start attempting the various challenges! These challenges can be completely done by you, or you can do them with the students that you work with! Remember that any challenges you complete and post about need to comply with your schools/district rules for posting pictures/information. You are in charge of keeping up with what challenges you complete when you fill out the Google Form at the end of the month! On other social media? Share using #TechformersU"

Our idea:
Create various challenges for each month that could be accomplished by teachers and even be carried over to the classroom.
We started with the 12 days of Techmas

Thanks Cindy Wallace for the awesome logo!

For the month of December there will be 12 challenges.  You can find the challenges on the Weebly  and also on our Facebook Page  At the end of each month we will post a Google form where participants can post what challenges they completed that month (there might be prizes involved!)  The challenges do not have to be done in any certain order, but people can share their completed challenges by posting in the comments of the challenge on the Facebook page or sharing through social media using #techformersU.  You can also find our Twitter account at TekFormersUnite

Now, we are currently in an icemageddon going on in the DFW area, so I am sure that that might have some impact this weekend on how many challenges get done.  

The first challenge (posted this morning 12/9/13) ended up with over 70 wonderful word clouds that different people created over their favorite holiday song.  Not only that, but I hadn't even posted the full challenge and people were already posting their challenges. 
Are you up for the challenge? Find our group Techformers Unite and learn some new tools and tricks.  In the process you will also have a chance to meet some amazing people!  I am So excited to see where these challenges will take us!  I am even more excited that I am able to collaborate with even more people over things that I love.  Cindy Wallace wrote a great blog about our Techformers Unite Challenges here

Tomorrow is another bad weather day (this ice is crazy), but we are pairing up classes for the #kidwish project!  

I hope you will join in our Techformers Unite challenges.  December has 12, but the rest of the months will be only 4 or 5.  How do you increase technology use on your campuses?  How do you get teachers excited to use technology in the classroom?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Walking in a Techy Wonderland

The first part of this year I worked on finding my place in my new role.  So many ideas.. so little time.. but not wanting to crazily overwhelm people that I work with either!  So, I don't think my to-do list will ever get completely done (it never did when I was a teacher either) but there are some of the coolest projects that are coming up!

I blogged about our tree that comes to life here by using the Aurasma app.
It only takes a second!

We are pairing Special Needs Classrooms with Regular Education classrooms to share holiday cards and also New Years wishes!  We are pairing up classrooms on Thursday December 5, 2013 for this first round! Sign up at  (special ed friends.. this is a GREAT chance to collaborate!)  We are going to have more projects throughout the year, but this is a great start.

12 Days of Technology
I have LOVED creating the Tech Challenges for my staff... and the conversation it is sparking.  So, I put it on Facebook looking for people to collaborate to create holiday tech challenges.  Be watching for information on how you too can participate!

Do you have any projects in the works?  I hope you take a moment to vote for our tree.. and sign up to participate in #kidwish!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Make it Monday- Irving Arts Center Christmas Tree

Every year the Irving Arts Center has a tree decorating contest.  This year the theme is Navidad Latinoamerica! As soon as the theme was announced last year, I knew how I wanted to decorate it!  Then during the summer I learned about Aurasma from Two Guys and some iPads and Todd Nesloney, and I knew what else I wanted to do with the tree!  Thanks to my partner in crime Alex Alkire (aka AMAZING Art Teacher) we were on a mission!

So, our tree is themed as a giant Spanish skirt. 

Although our tree looks awesome (if I do say so myself!) what is even better is it is INTERACTIVE!  Each picture that is on the tree is tagged with an Aura.

I watched this video about a hundred times.  Aurasma is an amazing app, but there are definitely some tricks (and it is also awesome... but when you are working with 50+ pictures it is also a little more time consuming than I planned)

What I did:
-Take a picture of a student (I tried really hard to get 2 from each class in the school, but I ran out of time)
-I asked the student to say this sentence I am from ____ and during the holidays we ____
-Downloaded these pictures on my computer (you can use Aurasma through the iPad/device, but then only that iPad/device is able to see the Aura)
-VERY IMPORTANT-I had to edit each picture so the pixels were 480x640
-I then followed the directions that were listed in the above videos and the rest that were on Drew Minock's Youtube channel (oh and I bugged Todd about a hundred times!)
-I created a channel called Elliott Christmas Tree and put all of the pictures and videos that channel.
-During our Hispanic Heritage Month celebration I also took video of students doing traditional dances.  After they danced I took a group photo.  

At the foot of our Christmas tree I also included this picture how to
Now. I realize that not everyone is going to download the app and interact with our tree. 

Our note about the ornaments at the base of the Christmas tree is this:
The traditions of Latin America are so rich!  Between the colors, stories, traditions and food Latin America boasts wonderful ways to celebrate the season. 

Elliott Elementary chose to showcase 4 different Latin American locations.  Our tree has the embodiment of a Folklorico dancer’s skirt.   Her skirt carries hand crafted ornaments that the Mini Davinci’s created to represent the different areas. All the picture ornaments will come to life after you follow the directions for downloading the Aurasma app.
Ecuador is represented by the fans (Aventador) which are found all over Ecuador and are made by the local Indian groups.
Puerto Rico is represented by the Three Kings.  Three Kings Day/Epiphany celebrates the Three Wise Men’s visit to see the newborn Christ by exchanging gifts.
Mexico is represented on our tree by the poinsettias are native to Latin America especially in the Southern Mexico region.
El Salvador is represented by the Roman Candles.   Families in El Salvador celebrate by playing with sparklers and fireworks during the holiday season.
There are so many regions and areas to celebrate during the holiday season.  A large part of celebrating is joining family members for food and fellowship.  The pictures on our tree represent different areas across the world!  Students shared where they were from and what they eat during the holiday season.
Our school celebrates the rich traditions of Latin America by having a Hispanic Heritage Celebration every year.  The group pictures around our tree will also come to life by using the Aurasma app.
We hope you enjoy your journey through various Latin American traditions and will dance your way through the holidays!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tech Challenge Update

We just completed our first month of Tech Challenges, and I am pretty happy how it turned out!  You can check out my first Tech Challenge Blog here.
My challenges for November were:
-Non-Negotiable-Complete the STaR Chart (guess what! Everyone did this!)
-Science- Use Voki to share science words.  These were posted on our Scientifically Sharing blog.
-Web2.0- Skype- connect with another classroom using Skype
-Data-Driven-Comment on either the Number Crunching blog or Wonderful Writing blog
-Support Staff- Create 2 Voki's to go with the Number Crunching blog

The end product for the first month
-Non-Negotiable- ALL the teachers completed this!
-Data-Driven- I had about 1/3 of the teachers participate in commenting on the blog
-Science- just a handful of teachers participated
-Web 2.0- just a handful of teachers
-Support Staff- I had about 1/3 of the support staff join in the challenge
To keep up with who was completing challenges I created an Excel document.  As a teacher completed the challenge I added an X.  I highlighted the box after I had put the badge in their box and given the swag that they earned.

My overall experience? I knew going in that not everyone was going to participate.  My goal for the Tech Challenges is to plant seeds!  It made my heart SO happy when I had a teacher approach me to ask for help on how to complete the Tech Challenges.  I loved seeing her class comment come up on the blog.  It made my heart SO happy when another teacher told me that she enjoyed the Number Crunching blog because it was a perfect transition.  It also made my heart SO happy that I had 2 teachers complete ALL of the Tech Challenges!
One of the Tech Challenge game boards

The badges for the Tech Challenge game board
I just finished up the December Tech Challenges.  I have contacted a couple of the websites/tools we will be using this next month.
Loved that Voki sent some great prizes for the teachers!

Loved that Skype in the Classroom also sent some great incentives!
I just finished creating the challenges for next month.  You can find December challenges here  I have enjoyed the communication that the Tech Challenges have opened between myself and teachers.  I have also enjoyed hearing teachers discuss with me how they are going to use these tools next (outside of what was required for the challenge!)  The challenges are basic, but who knows how big the seed will grow and where it might transplant.  I can't wait to see what else the teachers that I work with accomplish!

Have you tried Tech Challenges?  What are the pros/cons that you have seen?  What are some great tools that should be included in future Tech Challenges?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

#kidwish-Connecting LIFE/Special Ed classrooms with Mainstream Classes

I am just so stinking excited to write this blog!  For the past 6 years I have had the opportunity to break down walls of my LIFE (Living in a Functional Environment) classroom by participating in online collaborative projects and virtual tours.  I had a chance to do these activities because I had amazing teachers that I could collaborate with. 

Being a teacher is tough these days, and being a special education teacher brings on even more challenges! Challenges that are worth it, but challenges none the less.  There are a TON of amazing projects online for classrooms and my class and I have participated in many of them.  I knew how to modify the projects so my students could be successful and participate, but also be challenged at the same time.  I have the same expectations as other teachers, I wanted my students to have the world! As I connected with other classrooms I noticed that there were not very many special education classrooms that were taking on the challenge of collaborative online projects.

And then...... it happened!   Several of my amazing friends (Dyane SmokorowskiMichael Soskil, and Karen Wright-Balbier) began talking about the idea of creating a project that would partner LIFE/special education classrooms with regular education classrooms. #kidwish is starting out as a Holiday Card Exchange and New Years Wish for the World exchange using video conferencing and extension activities, but we hope that it expands to so much more than that. 

Now you might be thinking, why is it so important to identify a LIFE/special ed classrooms and pair them up with a mainstream classrooms?  I had the opportunity to connect with Dyane's class for this very project for the last 5 years.  My students LOVED it!  It gave them a chance to be creative on a holiday card, they received something in the mail, and they were able to connect with someone outside of our school setting. I also was able to see a change.  My students began to take more time in their holiday cards (works on writing, following directions and most importantly... creativity).  My students also began to attend and participate more during the actual video conference.  Nothing could make my heart soar more to hear the students reading along with the book and then ending the video call with holiday carols (even my non-verbal students would attempt to participate)

So, LIFE/special ed teachers I challenge you to sign up and participate in this project! You never know what connections you might make from it!  Our classes ended up Skype calling with other classrooms and even other LIFE classrooms.  We have done science projects, shared ideas, and read lots of stories.  The ideas are limitless if you take that first step!  Want more information, check out the website ? Want to email me with questions  

My wish is for all students to have the same opportunities inside and outside the classroom no matter what the abilities are.

I have written about my fears of losing my niche as a special education teacher when becoming an Instructional Technology Specialist.  I am so stinking excited that this is giving me a chance to share my love of connecting, technology and special education.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Adventure (A Not so Techy Blog)

I am the first one to admit I probably have over 50 different nail polishes in my closet.  I didn't ever paint my nails, but my toenails were ALWAYS painted!  Ever so often I had a gift so I could get my nails done (but that was always a special treat)  This past summer I was at a local conference and ran across a Jamberry Nails booth.  I skimmed through the catalog and look book that the consultant had and exchanged information.  A few weeks later I ordered my first set of Jamberry Nails and I haven't looked back!

Jamberry has created the newest, most affordable and long lasting way to accessorize fingers or toes. Jamberry nail wraps are a solid film covering that can be applied directly to the nail to achieve a look not found anywhere else. This special material is both pressure and heat activated to create a watertight bond to your nail. The film is finished with a high gloss protective layer that prevents your nail wrap from chipping or scuffing.
This new nail treatment can be applied in just fifteen minutes at home on your own or with family and friends. With over 300 styles available, these designer nail wraps are made to last up to 2 weeks on fingers and 6 weeks on toes. With Jamberry nail wraps, achieving a salon look that was once reserved only to the professionals is now simple, affordable, and available to women everywhere through our growing network of consultants." 
Northern Flare
Things I LOVE about Jamberry
-They are affordable!  They have a special of buy 3 get one 1 free... which is only around $45!
-They look great on fingers and toes.  Each sheet can do 2 manicures and 2 pedicures
-They are super easy to put on!  All you need is a blow dryer (I do enjoy the Jamberry Heater much more though!)
-I love that there is no drying time.
-I love that when you take off the nail it doesn't kill your nail (I take mine off with baby oil)

This last weekend I had a chance to attend the Dallas Regional Conference where I learned even more about the company.  It was so inspiring to hear all of the stories of how being a Jamberry Independent Consultant had changed lives of these people.  Not only that, but it is based out of the USA and created by a family following their own dreams!

Team Cute Nails

Do you want to know more, purchase, or host a party.. let me know.  You can order directly from my site at   You can also check out my personal Facebook page where I will hold various contests and post information on specials and upcoming fashion! This new endeavor is going to help pay for various meds as we try to grow our family (but you can read more about my personal story here) 

Part of Team Cute Nails with members from the Jamberry Home Office

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tech Challenges

I wrote back in the first of August how I wanted to create Tech Challenges.  You can find that blog here.  I was inspired by so many people!  Such as Dave Tchozewski, Amy Mayer, Nancy Mangum, Angelyn Cheatham, Jessica Branch, Aimee Bartis and SO many more!  I just knew I was going to start these in October.

Well, it ended up being the end of October when I dipped my foot in to the Tech Challenge mode (just been a little busy getting everything figured out!)

Please feel free to use my ideas (but do credit back.. I have spent a bit of time on these getting them started)

Teachers had about 4 days to create and send me their posters.  I put little treats in their boxes today if they took the challenge!

Today I sent an email to staff with my first Tech Challenges.  I know that not everyone is going to participate...but I know that I enjoyed creating them and I can't wait to help teachers accomplish them.

Each month there will be 4 challenges.  
Non-Negotiable- This challenge will be something that is either required by the school, or required by the district.
Science based
Web 2.0 Tool
Data Driven

The challenges are fun, but there are prizes involved too! Each challenge has a specific logo that will be attached to a certificate that I created.

Complete the 1 Non-Negotiable- logo for the certificate
Complete 2 challenges-Logos and some goodies in their box (I am contacting the companies that our challenges are about to see if they will send swag for me to give to teachers)
Complete 3 challenges-logos, goodies in the  box and a free jeans pass
Complete all 4 challenges- logos, goodies in your box, a free jeans pass and I will take the class for 30 minutes!

If all 4 are completed the names will go in a drawing and there will be one winner chosen each month that will get an hour lunch.

Now, I don't just have awesome teachers on staff... I have some pretty amazing support staff (paraprofessionals) that I think we sometimes forget about.  I decided that I wanted them to have 1 challenge a month too.  This challenge will be somewhat like a challenge a teacher has, but I know that there are time constraints that are involved.

If they complete their challenge they earn a free jeans pass.  For every 2 they earn I will cover their lunch duty for 30 minutes.

I love that my principal is on board with this!  I am also excited that hopefully with a little nudging even more technology will be used.  I have already enjoyed meeting with teachers and even doing some co-teaching!

Want to see what the challenges are for the month of November?  Check them out here.

How do you get your teachers excited about using tech. What supports do you put in place to have both teachers and students be successful?

My goal is... even if a teacher does not do a challenge, that possibly their way of thinking changes a little bit.  I work with some pretty amazing teachers!

I leave you with a product from my first tech challenge.  This one was submitted by my school nurse!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Magnificent and Movie Monday

What a whirlwind year it has already been!  I have been neglecting this blog.  I am pretty excited that this next week that I don't have ANY meetings (insert a knock on wood here!)

Magnificent Monday- Liveslide by AtlasLearning
I heard the buzz about LiveSlide this summer at ISTE.  I quickly signed up for the wait list ready to find out more about the product.  You can find out more about the AtlasLearning company here.

After talking with @ipadsammyI am SUPER excited to use this product!

LiveSlide is a product that works across platforms.  I have to admit, this is one of the things that is most exciting to me!  As we have various devices in each classroom
LiveSlide offers the availability to set up classes and create a more interactive environment for your students. The ideas are limitless for using LiveSlide in the classroom. 
Things I am excited about:
-The ability to quickly poll the class to see where the students are
-The option to upload and use my own PDFs and pictures (but there are also some fantastic backgrounds included!)
-The ability to quickly add a slide while interacting with students

Did I mention that there is a replay and note option... and it is ACROSS platforms!  This next month I will be in classrooms more, and I can not wait to showcase it!  Be watching for a follow up blog!

Movie Monday
I have 3 movies to share!  I want to finish completely decorating my lab before I take a video showing it off.

I made a commercial using iMovie about using devices

I made another iMovie with actual directions for using various devices in school

I created a how-to video over Tech or Treat Challenge using Big Huge Labs.  Want to see my whole challenge?  Check out this document

How has your year been?  Are there things that you have fallen behind on.. or caught up on?  On another note.. I became a Jamberry Nails Consultant!  Interested in purchasing nails, let me know.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mail Call Monday- Most Asked Question about Unique

I can't believe that we are about to start our fourth week of school!  Although I have been teaching for 12 years, I feel like a brand new teacher this year!

I have mentioned in my previous blogs that I am no longer in the LIFE (Living in a Functional Environment) Classroom.  I am now our campus ITS (Instructional Technology Specialist) I just thought I was done with the acronyms! One of my main fears when I left the classroom is that I would not be relevant anymore in the field of special ed.... but with my copious videos and my blogs that I have posted I still get questions (and this makes my heart happy!)  I am also the mentor for the teacher that took over my classroom (who is rocking it out!)

One of the main questions I get is about my Big Idea poster

I absolutely LOVED using the Unique Curriculum and News 2 You.  It had so many resources, ideas, lessons and so much more.  Although I used the Unique Curriculum, I still had IEP's that I had to cover too. This is why the Big Idea board was  created.

Title- Was the Big Idea from the Unique Unit that month
Subtitle- Was each subject I focused on in class
Bullets- First bullet- The big idea for that subject
              Second-Fourth bullet were more IEP based
              Second bullet- Level 1 focus
              Third bullet- Level 2 focus
              Fourth bullet- Level 3 focus and extension activities

Each of my students was on a different level.  Unique is set up this way, but so is our standardized testing.  

Having this Big Idea board not only helped those that entered the classroom see what the different students were working on, but it also helped keep me on track!  Working with so many different grade levels can be a challenge at times (well worth it), but being organized in every way possible is important.

Do you have questions for me?  Have you checked out my youtube page?  Would you like to be a guest blogger for my Mail Call Monday?  Let me know!  You can find me on twitter @akbusybee or email me  I LOVE hearing from readers!

If you want to read a few more of my Unique and News 2 You blogs, you can find them here:
Unique Curriculum

Next week is Movie Monday and I hope to actually have a video up of my new office and classrooms!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Make it Monday- Preparing for International Dot Day!

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter.. you know the chatter is about #DotDay.  This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of The Dot (one of the best books!)  I have written about International Dot Day several times and have had T.J. Shay even guest blog for me!

This weekend our school will be celebrating (along with over a million people) International Dot Day.  We are inviting families to enjoy festivities at school that will allow them to be creative and Make Their Mark.  My partner in crime (our Amazing Art Teacher- Alex Alkire) and I decided that we needed new shirts this year.   Last year we made Dot Day shirts using sharpies and rubbing alcohol.  It worked pretty well.. until you washed it.  This year we stuck with easy (and they turned out great!)

Dot Day 2012
Do you have a Dot Day shirt yet?  Here are 2 ideas for you to use!  The first one is uber easy... and the 2nd one takes a few more steps.

Shirt Number 1
-shirt of your choice
-fabric paint
-circle stampers
Finished product
 Step 1- choose your colors
Fabric paint and circle stampers
 Step 2- Stamp Away! We put placemats in the middle of our shirts so the paint would not bleed
Ms. Alkire adding some sparkles to her shirt
Step 3- Let it dry then it is ready to wear!  When I wash this shirt, I turn it inside out.

Shirt 2- Thank goodness for Pinterest!  Ms. Alkire found this blog with a cool tutorial for a do it yourself hand-dye t-shirt

-white t-shirt
-Elmers glue (the directions say the blue gel.. we use regular Elmer's glue and it seemed to work
-Rit dye
Step 1- Create a design on your shirt using the glue. Something we learned.. if you put a drawing underneath the shirt to trace, it will bleed through.
 Step 2- Let dry for 24 hours
 Step 3- Prepare your dye.  I did this outside.  I put about 3 cups of water in the tub and the full package of Rit
 Step 4- Let shirts soak in the tub for 10-15 minutes.  It was pretty cool to watch it change color
 Step 5- Let dry completely (I sure do love that we have space in our backyard to do this!)
 Step 6- Rinse- I rinsed it in the bucket first with a little dish soap.  I realized; however, that not all of the glue had come out yet.  I threw it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle.  I then washed it one more time regular with a little bit of soap.
 Step 7- Take them out and let them dry!  I will probably wash the shirt on its own for a few more times.  There is still a little residual glue left (when we do this again we are going to try with the original directions of the blue gel)
Overall I LOVE this idea!  I can't wait to showcase our super crafty shirts!

Have you created your own Dot Day shirts?  How are you celebrating Dot Day?  Have you signed up at the Dot Club?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mail Call Monday- International Dot Day

My favorite station that Alex Alkire thought up!
It is only 27 days until the 5th Annual International Dot Day!  Last year was my first year to participate in International Dot Day, but it won't be my last (and truthfully.. I think every day should be Dot Day!)

What is Dot Day?
International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009.
The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe. (The Dot
I have written several blogs over it here and here.  I even had the FOUNDER T.J. Shay write a guest post for me too!
Finally got to meet T.J.Shay and Becky Conners! Some of my amazing Fablevision Friends

Last year our school celebrated by having a Dot Day Celebration and invited students to make their mark at different stations (glow stick station, coffee filter station, thank you for helping us make our mark note station and of course a cookie station!).  Some of the staff even decorated our own Dot Day shirts to wear as part of the celebration.
Only some of the staff that celebrated last year from our school

But the reason that I love Dot Day the most is because of the reminder that no matter how big or small you are, you can make a mark in this world.  I am a believer (this is my motto) that every man, woman, and child that I come in contact with has some bigger greatness inside them... even if I can't see it.  It is so very important for us to BELIEVE in all those that we meet.    Last year my students created a video to celebrate the day.  

Want more information?  Check out the International Dot Day facebook page connect with others through twitter using #dotday and sign up at The Dot Club.  But most importantly.. Connect the Dots and encourage those around you to Make their Mark and see where it takes you!

Love a Reynolds' Wrap with Paul and Peter Reynolds
 Have you celebrated Dot Day before?  Do you want to get connected?  Check out these other resources:
I could not talk about Dot Day and also mention Angela Maiers with Choose2Matter
The Busy Librarian talks with Shannon Miller
Shannon Miller
Kelly Hines

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tech Challenges and Goals for 2013-14

We are just days away from the first day of school, and I am so excited about my new adventure as the Instructional Technology Specialist on campus!  I do know a couple of things about myself:
1. I am a believer
2.I am extremely patient
3 I am EXTREMELY passionate about using technology (are you shocked)

Now, the believing and patience go hand in hand. I know that as long as I remind people that I believe in them and that I am patient that we accomplish a ton together.  The 3rd thing is a little harder... only because I get so excited about different things.

Something that I have been mulling around is doing tech challenges for the staff at my school. I realize that everyone is super busy, so I want to make them fun and meaningful.  Thank goodness for google and twitter to get the ideas flowing.  I connected with Cynthia Treichler who pointed me to Dave Tchozewski.  He had created some great challenges for his schools.  You can find them here  As I did a little more digging and  Amy Mayer posted a GREAT resource of Simple Sticker Staff Development Project

So, taking those all in mind I created my first challenge this summer.
Here are my ideas for this year:
Each month there will be 4 challenges. I realize that not everyone is going to be super excited about trying technology.. but hopefully these challenges will help staff think outside the box!

Challenge 1- Will be a non-negotiable.  This challenge will be whatever is required by the district or the school.  Everyone will complete this challenge
Challenge 2- Web 2.0 tool.  This will be over a web tool that would work in any classroom.  I don't want any of these tools to be add ons, but to be helpful to instruction
Challenge 3- Data based- This will vary month to month as what educators are working on 
Challenge 4- Science based

I plan to release each of these challenges at the first of the month allowing staff to work on them at their own pace and time (and this way I can enter classrooms and help them with these challenges too!)  Now, it is all fun and games for completing a challenge.. but there have to be some goodies involved too.. right?

I am going to do something like what Amy does with badges (still working on how I want to do it)  If the teacher completes challenge 1 they get the badge (what is in the circle on the challenge page.. but I think I might change this to squares so they look more like apps)  A staff member completes 2 challenges they get a little item.. complete 3.. bigger item.. and complete 4 challenges they get a goodie (have ideas for prizes.. PLEASE let me know!) and get their name in a drawing.   Still working out ideas for prizes and goodies!

You can find some of the challenges on a Pinterest board Nancy Mangum and I created for a Collaborative Project Session  that we presented on at Podstock (well.. I helped virtually).

With all that being said.. I have some big ideas next year.. but I know that I need to tone it down some too (not too much.. but I don't want to scare people right away :)
I am going to stick with the same blog themes I had last year- I will blog at least every Monday
Magnificent Monday- Favorite tool/app/website or anything at the time
Movie Monday- Something for the classroom or a tutorial
Mail Call Monday- take email questions or have guest bloggers
Make it Monday- share a how to one of my crafts

My Goals for this year-
1. Cut down on emails to staff (I am going to go for one a week.. of course I will respond as needed.. but will save all my excitement for tools to one a week!)
2. Be conscious of my time on the computer and other devices.  Yes, I want to be connected.. but do I need to be connected 24x7 (some days I think yes!)
3. My last goal would be to lose 15 more pounds!

What are your goals this year?  Do you use badges/challenges with your staff or students.. what type of goodies do you have. Do you have any words of wisdom for new Instructional Technology Specialist?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Oh my goodness, I just realized that I have had this blog for 2 years!  2 years and almost 100 posts. I have enjoyed reading over my previous post and seeing how my ideas have pretty much stayed the same, but I have grown as an educator.  It was all too perfect that my first blog on here was over Podstock 2011

As I have mentioned before, I am starting a new position next year as an Instructional Technology Specialist. I have run into a couple of twitter friends who are also starting this new position!  Wendy, Syndney, and Jamie and are super exited to start a weekly #ITSnewbiechat

Jamie wrote a great post here Are you new to the Instructional Technology Specialist field?  Are you a veteran ITS willing to share some great ideas and help collaborate?  Hope to see you at our #ITSnewbiechat on Sundays!

Tomorrow starts my first real day as an ITS!  I will be attending leadership training.  At the beginning of every school year I write my own "IEP" of sorts of my goals for the year.  I have several brewing already, but will be putting them paper within the next week!  I do have to say, however, that I did a great job on my goals this summer!  My goal was to pool hop an read books.  This pool from Wal-Mart has been by far my favorite purchase this summer!

perfect way to read books!

Do you set goals for yourself at the beginning of the year?  How have you enjoyed your summer?

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Today I finished up my 4th edCamp and I learn something new each time!

What is an EdCamp?  Edcamp is a free, democratic, participant-driven professional development for teachers.  You can find out more about it here (and to see if one is going to be near you!)

Today's EdCamp brought to you by Keller ISD!  

I love learning and connecting with people, but this EdCamp was a little different.  I facilitated no sessions, I did no presentations (and.. presentations are of course not allowed).. I didn't even bring my laptop.  The past EdCamps I have been a teacher.  Not only was I a teacher, but I was a special education teacher.  So, I listened to ideas and percolated on how I could modify them for my classroom.  When I shared, I shared on how it would affect my students and what my students were doing.  I have changed positions, so I went to sessions that I knew NOTHING about (but knew it would benefit my school)  I was not disappointed.

Before I get to much farther.. I learned a ton from a ton of people (so, I apologize now if I don't get everyone listed)  I also didn't take as many pictures this time.. because my brain was moving too fast!

These are just a few of my notes.  You can also check out notes that some of my fellow tweeps took. Don't forget to check the #edcampfwtx twitter feed too

First Session- STEM
So, I am a nerd.. and having the chance to hang out in a 5th grade science classroom last year with an awesome science teacher.. I wanted to learn more.  
Just a few ideas
There were some great conversations, but I can't wait to connect more with TinaTrisha and Tony They are doing some awesome things at their school
-I want to look more into TAME (Texas Alliance for Minority in Engineering)
-Look into bringing in Air Traffic Control into the school (maybe even a news for kids)
-Use the Flipboard app and choose rss feeds that pertain to science- science articles, science tweets, science blogs
-Have book of the month club that is STEM based and then have a challenge to go along with it
-Explain This- put up explain this signs around schools and have students explain them ie. paper towel holders, doorknobs, window latches and so on
So much learning!

Second Session-Edmodo
I went to the wrong session, and yes.. I know I can vote with my feet, but instead I stayed and connected.  I enjoyed chatting with another tweep about my ideas for staff tech challenges this year.  I will be blogging about that more, but here was my first challenge.


Check out this awesome ice cream that Jon created for Martha now.. that is some talent!

 Third Session-Augmented Reality-The Tech Ninja's facilitated
Todd and Stacey are so awesome!
Let me just say.. my mind is BLOWN! I love using QR codes, and I still will use them.. but there are so many cool ways and ideas that you can use Augmented reality!    I
My brain is still racing from all the ideas that I got during this session.. but until you see it.. it is kind of hard to explain.
Check out:
-  I had a chance to meet Brad and Drew at ISTE for just a few minutes, but I have been following along on twitter.. and now I am hooked!
-Erin Klein is another great person to follow and I love her blog about the Colar app
-Apps to use Aurasma, DAQRI, and colAR App
-For Aurasma people must be following your channel for the aura to work.  See twoguysandsomeipads for how toos, directions, ideas and so much more
-use Aurasma for ARD's.  Have a piece of work that the students have done as the trigger for the aura.  Once triggered it offers a video of the student explaining what they are working on
-Use Aurasma for homework help
-Living museums
-Center information
-Scavenger hunts
-The DAQRI cubes that are Elements look AWESOME!

I have so many more ideas.. and this is something that I will be delving into more!

Final Session- Flipped Classroom
Ready for a confession.. after the AR session I really couldn't focus more.  My brain was way to full! It did make me realize that I am pretty partial to my PLN even more!
A few of my favorite people! Stacey, Todd and Wendy Don't really know what I would do without these guys ;)

Met a friend from Kansas! Was so nice to meet Kayla

Super excited to be working more with this fantastic lady right here!

My brain is full.. I learned a ton.. can't wait to really share in real life!  Next EdCamp for me... the one I am helping organize on October 12, 2013 for #edcampdallas

Have you attended an edcamp?  What were your take aways?  I am very excited to start sharing even more on this blog!