Monday, February 18, 2013

Movie Monday- Students and Technology

I had a request to do a  short video clip telling future teachers three things they need to know about students and technology.  It is hard to choose just 3 things!

My 3 Things:
-Students are changing (I know that is so cliche.. but it is SO true!)  The background, expectations, and upbringing of students has changed.  As educators we need to keep that in mind when we work with various students.
-Students are connected!  This is not going to change!  Take this time to work with students on the importance of a digital footprint.  It is also a great time for you to connect with others through social media (You would be AMAZED at the learning that can happen outside your classroom walls!)
-The most important one to me... Technology gives students a voice!  Students come to class with varying backgrounds and abilities.  Technology gives students an opportunity to connect with others outside of their 5 walls, but also levels the playing field!

What are your three things?  How has technology improved your teaching and your classroom?  How are you changing the way you teach to meet the needs of all your students?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Magnificent Monday-TCEA13 Takeaways

The Rocking TCEA13 BrainPOP crew
Last week I was able to attend TCEA13 and hang out with the AWESOME BrainPOP crew!  When I wasn't hanging out at the booth I had a chance to meet some tweeps, join some sessions, and just do some great learning!  So, enjoy the pictures and check out the links to the resources.
I found the Tech Chicks!
A few years ago I found this great Podcast.  I do a ton of driving.. and I never know what kind of radio stations are around.. so I love a good podcast.  The Tech Chicks are SO fun to listen to, great ideas and just around awesomeness! I am really excited.. they even said that they would do a guest blog for me on an upcoming Mail Call Monday!
Loving my new Techlandia sticker!
Another great podcast that is fairly new is the Techlandia podcast.  I love listening to @ipadsammy and @tedrosececi 
Hanging out with @TechNinjaStacey, @TechNinjaTodd and @RafranzDavis  
The 3 Tech Ninjas did a guest post for me.  Another great crew that is good to follow and learn from!

Had to include a picture of the photowalk that I helped lead.  @BryanPDoyle was a GREAT leader!  Thanks @ChristyCate for getting it all organized!
 Some other great things to learn more about!
New Leaf In Learning- One of the best conferences that I had a chance to attend last year was New Leaf in Learning by Follett.  They are now working on a great learning community!  Sign up and see what everything is all about.  I can't wait to connect with more people in this community!

WatershED Project- (first of all.. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of this! I was SO bad at taking pictures this year)  This is another project by Follett. This is a beautiful website that asks educators what they want their students to be able to do.  Rebecca Levinson has done a great job of recruiting educators to take a moment to take a moment and reflect on what they want students to be able to do.

StraightAce-I had a chance to sit down to breakfast with the creators of this app.  It looks super interesting and I can't wait to learn more about it!
StraightAce is a newly designed math app and service that transforms smartphones and tablets — which teens already love — into powerful learning tools that are fun to use. Your child can study numerous math topics, answering as few as 10 questions a day, in order to master the subject with confidence.
The following day, your child can review questions from the previous day using our flashcard function. One week later, the questions your child answered incorrectly will automatically appear again to ensure that all lessons have been fully learned. Your child's math skills will improve significantly through repeated use of StraightAce.
But our service is not just about answering questions. It's rich in content, too. For example, we provide a lesson before they tackle questions and offer hints to nudge your child along. And we always give ample but concise explanations after each answer is submitted. As an added bonus, the app allows parents to see their child's learning progress.

There were so many great things going on at TCEA!  It also marked the end of the TCEA Classroom Teacher of the Year reign for me :)  I loved all the learning, but I can't wait to see what this next year will hold!  Did you go to TCEA?  What were your takeaways?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mail Call Money-Tech Ninjas

Last year I helped lead EdCampDallas.. and I had a chance to meet the Tech Ninjas!  Now.. anything with the word Ninja in it you know it is going to be cool.  I didn't have a chance to see their session, but I heard EVERYONE talking about it afterwards.  I found their website  I found TechNinjaTodd and TechNinjaStacey and started following along their adventures.  I finally had a chance to see Todd present at TCEA1011 and was impressed by his dynamic presentation style.

This past week I was able to catch up with both Tech Ninja's at TCEA13 Convention.  With his super busy schedule we are just a little late on the Mail Call Monday Blog (which.. I can handle!)  I had a chance to be an honorary Tech Ninja... and you can apply to be one too!  Thanks guys for bringing me in :)


I've always been the type of person who sees the value in learning.  I also believe that as a teacher we should always continue to find ways to keep learning.  This past week I had the opportunity to attend two incredibly different conferences; TCEA and the Region IV Math Conference.

 First I had the opportunity to not only attend the TCEA 2013 conference, but also to present as part of The 3 Tech Ninjas.  Stacey (@TechNinjaStacey) and I had originally only signed up to present a "Ninja Technology" session on Wednesday afternoon.  But a few weeks before TCEA began we were contacted about presenting twice on Tuesday for TATN, once at an Edmodo Booth (On Wednesday), and once on the Digital Square (on Thursday).  We love presenting and talking about Web 2.0 Tools, the Flipped Classroom, and Skype/Twitter.  I'm also proud to say that two of our sessions were filled with no extra seating!!  We were able to spread the Tech Ninja knowledge to hundreds of people and it was a blast!  What was also amazing was last minute @iPadSammy gave me the idea to do a TCEA Smackdown in the Digital Square on Friday.  A smackdown is a EdCamp idea, but it's a time to get people together and everyone just share one thing they learned from the week!  We decided to do this about 3:00 on Thursday afternoon and only had Twitter to advertise.  We had about 30 or so people show up!  It was incredible and you can check out the #tceasmack hashtag on Twitter to learn with us!

Presenting is fun, but I must say building those relationships was by far the best part of my week.  I am quite active on Twitter, and have built an incredible PLN, but many of my PLN I had never had the opportunity to meet before.  I can no longer say that!  This week I met hundreds of people who I've been interacting with on Twitter.  It was so neat to finally get to put a real face with someone's tweets.  I was able to laugh with them, share stories, and just learn more about them!  We went to dinners, attended each other's sessions, hung out together in the digital square, and even did a little dancing with the Wii at the TCEA Social!  Building those relationships was so much fun and provided me with many great memories.

But we also go to TCEA every year to learn.  And man did I learn a lot.  I've decided the best way to share some of that learning is just to list a few of the things I learned. allows you to brainstorm easily with others

WordLens (app) - you can use the app to translate anything the camera is viewing.  It is so cool to see this app in action

If you have an iPhone, you can go into the "Settings" and "General" and "Accessibility" and turn your "Speak Selection" to ON.  What you can then do is highlight paragraphs in your iBooks and it will read them to you! is just a really neat way to show off tweets over a certian topic.  Definitely going to use this idea for EdCampWaller (

Chirp (app) - allows you to share photos, websites, and more through sound waves! - can create and share polls!  Super Easy! - really cool site that lets you create a Google Story using Google Docs
There is so much learning that takes place at things like TCEA that it's often hard to put it into words.  If you want to learn from afar you can always check out the Twitter hashtag #tcea13 and check out all the learning that took place.

 So yes, I'm crazy.  I got back late Friday evening from TCEA and then had to get up super early to attend and present at the Region IV Math Conference. I have attended this conference before but never presented at it.  I was excited to attend a conference where it was really focused around the subject I'm so passionate about. I had noticed that Region IV was advertising to Tweet using the hashtag #r4mathconf so I was also pumped that I would get to learn from others on Twitter who were attending since I couldn't be in every session.

Well my first session to present was at 8:00am.  Those are always tough, because teachers are notorious for NOT showing up on time.  I ended up having a room full of about 40 teachers.  I did my normal Web 2.0 tools presentation, but man I was shocked.  With over 40 teachers in my session only 2 had heard of Remind101, four had heard of QR codes, and another four had heard of Edmodo.  I couldn't believe the lack of knowledge of amazing Web 2.0 tools!  And the more I attended the conference that day, the more I began to realize that many of these teachers had been so beaten down by their districts blocking this and that, that many of them had given up on trying to use technology in their classrooms.  That broke my heart.

Anyway, so I finished my Web 2.0 session, got great feedback, and then decided to attend a session before I presented on the Flipped Classroom.  While I was sitting in the next session I decided to check out Twitter.  And to my surprise I was the ONLY teacher there who was tweeting using the #r4mathconf hashtag.  Seriously?!?!  I had come from TCEA the week before, where thousands of people were using a hashtag, to a conference today with probably close to 1,000 attending and no one tweeting but me?!?!  So I tweeted out to Region IV asking if they would mind me doing an "impromptu Twitter 101" session in the hall.  Surprisingly, not only did they NOT object, but they gave me a classroom during lunch and highly advertised that people come learn about Twitter!!  I was so pumped.  So at lunch that day I taught about 45 people how to Tweet, use hashtags, and learn from people all over the world.  Now let me say, I have the BEST PLN on Twitter.  Period. I tweeted out to my PLN several times on Saturday for help.  I first asked them to tweet why they love Twitter using the #r4mathconf hashtag and then while doing my Twitter 101 session I just randomly tweeted out for someone to Tweet me (many responses)!  The people attending my session were in shock at how quickly people were interacting with me and how much learning was taking place on the fly!  Suffice to say I think I was able to convince many educators to try out the power of Twitter.

I was also able to do my Flipped Classroom session.  Those always seem to be the most popular.  I probably had about 100 in my room, and they really seemed open to the idea.  I had many teachers wanting to asking questions and learn more about my implementation.

In closing, I can't express how beneficial it is as a teacher to continually be learning, and that's exactly what I did this week.  My brain is so overloaded with the people I met, sessions I taught, and things I learned!  I can't wait to go back to my school tomorrow and implement many of my new ideas!

I have also told many people all week, that our campus is an open campus and we welcome teachers coming to observe!  If you ever want to check out my classroom just let me know, I love guests!  We're also working on figuring the best way to live stream my class as well to show a Flipped Classroom/Project Based Learning Classroom in action.

Don't forget about the awesome opportunity to come learn with teachers from all around the state on April 27th!  It's a FREE conference with MANY heavy-hitters attending.  It promises to be a day of incredible learning. You can learn more and sign up here

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Raise your hand if you make new years resolutions to lose weight... both of my hands go up!  I always make the resolution, but I never really follow through (much like most everyone else making resolutions.. right?)

This year was a little different.  After Christmas our household had some financial toughness... I am still trying to battle with different job things that frustrate me greatly.. This was the AH HA moment that I needed.There are not many things that I can change immediately (losing weight is one of those too) But.. I have CONTROL over losing weight.  There are other things in my life that I really don't have much control over until this summer.

Taken September 2012

So, I downloaded the app Lose It (blogged about it here), I joined the Fit42 group on Facebook (that a ton of my edtech friends are on) and I have my rocking accountability partner KimberlyW (we text what we eat and when we work out!)

In the past when I wanted to lose weight I always told myself I won't eat fast food.. I won't drink any more sodas.. and I will work out every day.  That would last maybe a whole week.  This time I changed that!

I have NOT deprived myself of anything!  I still have my soda (I just write it down)  I still have fast food (but I order the kids meal.. and I write it down) I go to the gym.. and enjoy it!I have discovered that me spending an hour at the gym works great.  I have a ton of stressors (see above) I do cardio (bike or elliptical) for 30 minutes and then I lift weights for 15-20 minutes.  Afterwards I feel SO much better! I have even started leaving school at a decent time so I can get to the gym.  A big change I do too is I stop eating and drinking at 8pm (I know that sounds late.. but I am always going!)

Last week I spent a week in Austin for TCEA (blog for that coming soon.. and I PROMISE I have a great guest blogger coming.. they are just running a little behind... hint.. hint.. Ninjas :)  I wore a pedometer and ended up walking over 20 miles.  I got up 2 mornings and used the gym in the hotel.  I also enjoyed the great Austin food (tried to keep up with my 8pm time) enjoyed beverages with friends.  I did come prepared.  I brought my own snacks (yogurt, water bottles, oranges, and cereal)

So.. the day that I got back from Austin I weighed myself.. and found I lost 2.6 pounds! So, in other words.. I have lost a total of 16.3 pounds! I know that soon I will be hitting a plateau, but I am ready!  It has been SO nice to be in control of something!
On a Photowalk in Austin 

Monday, February 4, 2013

TCEA13 Bound!

Just finished packing to head out tomorrow at noon for TCEA13.  TCEA (Texas Computer Education Agency Convention) takes place in Austin, Texas. I know.. I know.. it is Mail Call Monday.  It might end up being a Mail Call Wednesday or Thursday :) My awesome guest bloggers are UBER busy getting ready for TCEA themselves!  The 3 Tech Ninjas are going to be my next guest bloggers.

There is going to be a ton of great learning happening in Austin over the next few days.  Can't make it?  That is okay.. check out twitter or other social media platforms.  Just check for the hashtag #TCEA13.

Things I am looking forward to:
-Hanging out with some AWESOME BrainPOP peeps!
-Presenting with Stuart Burt over Shooting, Editing, and Making Movies on the iPad
-Helping host a TCEA13 Photowalk
-Attending some great sessions
-Connecting with all those Tweeps that I follow online!

Are you going to #TCEA13?  What sessions are on your must do list?  Because of my commitments I am not going to be able to attend all the sessions that I want to.. but if you are going you should totally check out:
-Tech Chicks (I LOVE this podcast!)
-anything with @iPadsammy- His new podcast rocks!
-The 3 Tech Ninjas- anything with Ninja has to be good!

There are SO many to list, and I know that I am leaving off so many.

If you are going to #TCEA13 please introduce yourself!  If I have forgotten your name I apologize now :)  Happy learning!