Tuesday, March 25, 2014


This past week I had a great mentor tell me that I had Grit. She mentioned that I need to look up Angela Lee Duckworth and take a moment to watch her TEDTalk The Key to Success: Grit.

Webster's Dictionary defines Grit as mental toughness and character.

Now, the reason I write this blog is not from the compliment that was given (but it sure is an awesome one) but because this last week my Long Ways Granny passed away.  Long Ways Granny you ask? Everyone has their nicknames for their relatives.  I grew up in the small town of Canyon, Texas... but my grandmother lived in an the even smaller town of Bovina.  Bovina was a good hour and a half drive away from my house... so of course she is Long Ways Granny.

Ah the early years.  My sister and I about to hunt Easter Eggs.

Beautiful set up to share wonderful memories.

So, this past weekend I drove the 6 hours to get home to be with my family.  Usually at funerals you share memories, thoughts, laughs and you meet people that you never knew were so closely bound by one person and you hug the necks of family members.  But as I listened to the stories that were shared about my grandmother... all I could think about was Grit.  

I have 2 amazing parents (I am going to go ahead and say that mine are the best) that taught me from an early age that the way to get through in life is to work hard, have dreams and never give up.  Anything can be accomplished as long as you put some elbow grease and your mind to it.  They also taught me to always have an open heart and an open mind and to remember that everyone is on a different path. 
My AWESOME parents!

After the funeral many of us traveled out to the "Farm" where my dad was raised.  The stories that were shared during that time will forever be in my heart and my soul.  I listened as people shared stories of my grandparents Grit.  Their perseverance to make a life and a home for their family.  I learned the story of how much sweat went into harvesting good crops. None of this was an easy task with a fast way out, but because of that the land continues to thrive.  

"Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina.  Grit is sticking with your future day in and day out, not just for the week, not for just a month, but for years. and working really hard to make that future a reality.  Grit is like living life like a marathon." Angela Lee Duckworth

I know that I am the person today because of the family members before me that have taught me to have passion.  No matter what my situation I know that with hard work and putting my mind to it I can accomplish anything.  I appreciated the reminder this weekend that by planting seeds and cultivating the land so much can grow.

As was said this weekend
"The fruits of your labor is going to pay off many years from now.  When you think nobody cares and you think when you are doing at the time, is all of this really necessary, it is.Because people like us get to come back and see it, and be reminded of why we are and who we are and why we were created to be that way." Lance Teague

My heritage has always had Grit.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Magnificent Monday-So Long Gnop-Jiye

YAY for spring break!  I have enjoyed sleeping.... and most of all... getting to some of those things that have been stuck on my to do list forever, but keep getting bumped down because of other things.  Such as-I have cleaned/organized both of my Google Drives..... and drum roll please.. my main Gmail account is at INBOX ZERO! Now, I still have 4 other emails I need to work on, but YAY!

A few weeks ago an author connected with me (and even better.. she is a teacher too!) and wanted to share her book.  Katrina Moore's book just recently came out, and I was super excited about the opportunity.
So Long Gnop-Jiye

So Long Gnop-Jiye  by Katrina Moore  is a wonderful story of a mother sharing a childhood story to her children.  During the story the mother (Kuen-Mun) weaves the tale of her family having to quickly leave Hong Kong and relocate to America. During this quick move she had to leave her beloved Gnop-Jiye (little duck) behind along with many of her belongings.  Kuen-Mun continues to share this now bedtime story of how she had to attend a new school and could not understand the language spoken and how as she grew older she had an understanding of the sacrifice that her family made so she would be able to have a better life.

Reasons I love this story:
-It was an easy read, and one that students will be able to easily associate with.  Many of our students are ones that have had to move at some point in their life, and many are also ones that have had to leave their home country.
-Katrina has a FANTASTIC teacher resource guide that you can download! You can find the Teacher Download here . This guide has great question stems, discussion ideas, and also pages that you can use so students can create their own memoir.  It is also a great resource to compare current times with other times throughout history.
-I love how this story is told.  I can remember spending evenings where my own mom would read to me, or share stories of her childhood.  To have this one in a book made it so enjoyable, as I could just imagine the children hanging on every word that the mother told of her journey.

I think as educators we have to remind ourselves to step back and look at the hole picture of the child.  Where have they come from, what is their story?  This book does a great job of reminding not only the reader that people have had to endure great hardships, but also reminding educators that we are all on a journey.

Favorite quote:
"He put down his chopsticks and sighed, 'Kuen-Mun, when were in Hong Kong, all our money and all our riches were taken from us without permission.  We were rich, but we had no freedom.  Now, you are Mary. You may be poor, but you are free to be whoever you want to be.'

Moore, K. (2014). So long gnop-jiye. Mustang: Tate Publishing.

I can't wait to share this book with the teachers on my campus, and I am even more excited that Katrina is going to be a guest author for our CARE Day 2014!  Check out Katrina on Twitter and Facebook and happy reading!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Digital Gaming- SXSWedu Recap

I am so thankful that Spring Break has started... and I finally have a chance to reflect and share my learning from SXSWedu!

I had the amazing opportunity to attend SXSWedu this year with BrainPOP (some of my most favorite people!)

I did a hands on session called Beyond the Gameboard- Digital Gaming in the Kinder-3rd Grade Classroom
Since I have been doing challenges in my school and classroom, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to create challenges for the participants to work through!

Each table had 3 missions. Thanks to Caitlin Andrews for making my envelopes look awesome!

The Game Up Logo was created by BrainPOP (one of my most FAVORITE websites!) You should sign up for a free BrainPOP Educators account so you can see all the great freebies they have!

So, mission one was more geared towards a kinder/1st grade classroom.  Participants had to roll the dice, count up how many dots there were and then fill in the squares.  When the table completed the challenge they received a piece of Moby.

Mission 2 was geared more towards 2nd/3rd.  This one was a much more digital challenge.  I got this amazing idea from Wesley Fryer to create a five picture story! It was super fun to watch participants complete this challenge (and see what resources they used!) You can find more information about this challenge here. Once this was completed they received the 2nd piece of Moby.

Mission 3 was geared more towards 3rd grade.  During this mission participants had to use Google Earth or Google Maps to calculate how many miles each person had traveled.  Once this had been done the table had to come up with a  more central location with the information that they had. This was the last challenge. They received their last piece of Moby and also a BrainPOP calendar.

I had an awesome time watching the different tables finishing the various missions.  Wanted to include a few other pictures from the awesome adventure (I have a ton more on my FB page)  Although for this session I did not have a projector or computer.. I also had a chance to share about the AWESOME games that BrainPOP and BrainPOPJr. has through Game Up! If you think digital games are just about sitting a student in front of a computer or device.. Game Up will make you rethink that! These games are even better when done in a collaborative group.  They offer tons of opportunities for academic conversations and higher order thinking as students (and teachers alike) work through the games.  Did I mention they are FREE!  You should check them out!

After they completed their missions (I only had 30 minutes for this hands on session!) I had a chance to share about Techformers Unite, the Affinity Game and the Tech Challenges I am doing with teachers. SO much to share... and SO little time1

Had a chance to make my own Meme (without using technology!) Check out their blog!

This is one of the biggest highlights!  I am always so inspired by students to amazing things.. and Jack Andraka is awesome! He even took time out of his day to come over and take a selfie with me! Thank you for inspiring Jack!

The Digital Harbor Foundation is doing some amazing things in Baltimore, and I had so much fun changing the colors on these lights

Of course.. I tried to get a group picture of all the AMAZING BrainPOP peeps.. but these random shots will have to do :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

SXSWEdu- Beyond the Gameboard—Digital Gaming and the K-3 Classroom

I am SO stinking excited that I will have a chance to attend...and lead a Hands On Session!
Beyond the Gameboard- Digital Gaming int he K-3 Classroom

If you have been following my blog lately.. you will know that I am all about taking learning in a different way by creating Challenges or Missions.  I of course can't post my "Top Secret" Missions now, but I wanted to share where some of the ideas have come from!

I am LOVING the resources from Wesley Fryer at Mapping Media to the Common Core  I am also thankful to my EdTech Chat N' Chew Podcast group for letting me bounce hundreds of ideas of them!

After the Hands On session is completed I will post the 3 Missions that attendees had to complete and also the products that they created!  

But, I couldn't leave my blog over Digital Gaming without mentioning the AWESOMENESS of the BrainPOP Game Up Games!  The BrainPOP Game Up games are awesome... but have you checked out the ones for BrainPOPJr. What a great way to get kids critically thinking with games.. and collaborating to finish.