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:
-http://www.twoguysandsomeipads.com/  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!

Friday, July 26, 2013

ATPE Summitt

Part of the Irving ATPE members after the banquet
This past week I was able to attend the ATPE Summit.  ATPE is the Association of Texas Professional Educators.

I have been a member of this organization for 11 years.  I joined because I believe that it is important to be a part of an organization.  I always knew that ATPE had lots of benefits such as offering up to $8 million dollars in professional liability insurance, lots of discounts (for hotels and other fun activities) and is member run.

So, I paid my dues every year and knew I was covered.. but then I attended ATPE Summit and I realized how much more ATPE does for me as an educator.  This year I also am taking on more at the local level as I am now the Vice President of Irving ATPE.

I checked in a day early because I was honored to be one of the 3 finalists for the Elementary ATPE Teacher of the Year (I even had a chance to meet up with @classroom_tech and his lovely wife!).  The first day had an awesome opening keynote Edward James Olmos and then breakout sessions.  I of course hit up the technology ones and was not disappointed with Lori Gracey! I also had a chance to listen to Dr. Ruby Payne and Anne Grady  It was a great day of learning (and hanging out with my Irving friends)  The second day was a chance for me to learn more about my role as the Vice President of our local unit.  I also did a little bit of virtual work for Podstock this day.  The first 2 days were great days of learning, but it was Friday that impressed me the most!

So, as I have mentioned ATPE is member run and it also offers supports to teacher, principals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, paraprofessionals, and substitutes.  Friday was the House of Delegates.

  • ATPE members are represented at the Texas State Capitol and state agencies by an experienced team of professional lobbyists that includes former legislative staffers and a former state senator. ATPE also advocates on your behalf at the federal level on issues such as Social Security and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind).("ATPE Benefits website)

How powerful to sit in the audience, vote for different items brought to the table and have a VOICE!  It was so smoothly run, people had a chance to argue for or against topics and share their stories.  As I watched it made me realize how happy I am to be a part of an organization that really supports educators, because it is run by educators.

I look forward to growing in the Irving ATPE, and who knows... I might just start to run for higher positions.
Thanks ATPE Region 18 for all the goodies

Getting ready for the keynote

Robin and I at the banquet

Julie went with me on a photowalk!  I was participating in the #podstockphotowalk virtually

Before the banquet with Doug Rogers and Robin

Monday, July 15, 2013

Magnificent Monday- Rourke's Complete History of our Presidents Encyclopedia

There is only a little bit of time left in Monday, but I wanted to get this one in!  I loved the book set over Sound Adventures, but working with grades kinder-5th grade I was super excited about the set of Encyclopedia's that came in.

4 of the 14 Encyclopedias from Rourke Educational Media 
Each of the books has beautiful pictures, graphics and a plethora of great information.  Each president is introduced with their presidential portrait along with basic information about them.  The encyclopedia then goes into further detail about the president and about the term.  It also includes information about each First Lady.

What I love about these books:
1. So often our students go directly to the computer for information and research.  This is going to be a great tool to work on referencing and finding information (and right at their fingertips!)
2. I love a good table of contents.  I have found it is hard for some students to know how to use the table of contents correctly.  Love this reinforcement!
Great Table of contents
3. The Words to Know that is dispersed throughout each book.  Not only are they important words that need to be focused on, but they also have the pronunciation next to it.
Words to Know
4. The Timeline in each book not only has information, but also pictures to coincide with the information.  Another great tool for students (and teachers) to use.
Timeline in each book
5. The Cabinet Members page is awesome!  It lists the presidents that are in the Encyclopedia and then the various cabinet members while they were in term.
Cabinet Members
There are so many other pieces to this set that I love. My brain is already on overload on how I can use them next year.

Ideas on how I want to use this:
Of course these are going to be a great asset to the classroom for information on presentations, but I am always trying to bring a tech piece into my different lessons.
-Use Mapvivo.com (a super cool tool I just learned about) to track the president's journeys to the White House.
-I have seen many conversations over creating fake facebook walls and this would be a perfect resource for students to use.
-Have students create posters or information using Big Huge Labs.  I love what Mrs. Yollis' class did for Polygons
-Create a Mystery Skype over various presidents and try to guess which president is being discussed

This is wonderful resource from Rourke Educational Media and I can not wait to share it with my students (and come up with more ideas!)  Do you have this set?  How do you utilize it in your classroom?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Adventures (and a little bit of fear)

Adventure- "an exciting or remarkable experience" From Merriam-Webster  I realize that you are completely capable of looking a definition in a dictionary, but it was the start that I needed. (read with caution as this is a short novel that has been mulling around my head)

I see every day teaching as an adventure.  I see every day life as an adventure (and if you have ever had a conversation with me adventure usually comes up at least once!)  I have been lucky enough to have had a multitude of adventures.  Each one of these journeys has allowed me to grow into hopefully a better person and educator. 

In June I completed my 11th year of teaching in a classroom.  I absolutely LOVED my students, LOVE the people I work with and LOVE my school.  When I moved to Elliott I was of course a little scared (I mean.. change is hard)  I loved having the opportunity to open a LIFE classroom and meeting new people.  My first year at Elliott ended and I had created so many new adventures and friendships.. I had found my home!  Last summer I applied for a job and I didn't get it (I mean.. I am a planner.. and I already had it all planned out!) During the summer I had also been told I was not qualified for another position.
The pros of both of these situations:
1. I was able to teach in a FANTASTIC classroom another year!
2. I was able to see my 5th graders off to middle school (I had them since kindergarten!)
3. I was able to create more friendships
4. I had a chance to realize that the job that I thought I wanted really was not the job that I was supposed to have (thanks to all my friends that have listened to my crankiness!)
5. If I had left the classroom last year I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do all of the really cool things that I did with my students!
6. I was named Teacher of the Year for my campus (and had I changed positions.. this would not have happened!)

So..with the end of school means that new adventures were just around the corner.  I had a conversation with my principal about how much I loved my classroom, but this was the perfect year for a change.  I was going to teach resource next year (now.. although I am the one that asked for the change there were still tears involved as I told my amazing paraprofessionals that I would be moving classrooms... and once again I realized how much I need change but change is hard for me!)  I started to plan my summer staff development around my new adventure (and in that planning was also the moving of my classroom to my house because of construction)  During this time I also had the opportunity to interview to be in the Instructional Technology Specialist pool (and I MADE IT!) Not only did I make the pool... I am now going to be the Instructional Technology Specialist for my school (insert jumping up and down and happy dance when I got the phone call)

Here is where my fear begins. 
I am SO very excited to be an ITS (instructional technology specialist), but I have that underlying fear of what if I am not good enough? (I know that we all have this fear... and it only makes us strive even more)  Many of my presentations that I give are over increasing technology in the multi-ability classroom (which have always come from the viewpoint of my LIFE classroom),  how is this going to change how I am viewed in the edtech community?  I am quirky and a little different (shocker to those that know me!) will I have enough to offer to those around me?  Will my special ed peeps know that I have not forgotten them?

I refound this quote from the blog I wrote when I changed schools (you can find it here)
"Change does not change tradition.  It strengthens it.    
Change is a challenge and an opportunity, not a threat."

-Prince Phillip of England
I am ready for a new adventure (even with my fears!) I am also ready for the new connections and stories that being an ITS is going to bring.  With this new adventure means my blog is going to offer different styles of content, but you know I love some differentiation!