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

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