Thursday, October 15, 2015

Neglected Blog

Are you tired of all my excuses about my lack of blogging?  Sometimes I wonder if I should just give it up, but when I take the time and read through my blog, I enjoy remembering what I did.

The whole reason I've decided to pay attention to my blog right now is because I'm teaching my ETEP class about blogging.  I haven't used Blogger in so long, I think I almost forgot how!  So in honor of my ETEP students, I'm posting something now.

My third year working as a technology specialist has gotten off to a crazy-busy start.  One of my schools got new iPads to replace the teachers' aging ones, and also 3 new chromebook carts.  I have been drowning in a sea of equipment!  I am slowly and gradually getting all that equipment where it belongs.  My other school will be getting their first chromebook cart this year, so I'm planning a lot of training on how to use Google.

I prefer blogs that have some pictures, so I'm going to throw a few of them in here just so I can say I did.

Lego League 2014
The picture above is of my Lego League team from last year.  It was my first year coaching and I loved it!  Our goals were to have fun and not get a 0 score.  We met both of them.  I'm enjoying my new team this year and we are busy exploring the Trash Trek theme.

The pictures below are the sweet little hands that were given to me last year on my birthday.  One thing I really miss about being an STS is the sweet notes you get from kids.  The teacher that had her students do this for me made my day.  I still have those hands and look them from time to time and just smile.

And finally, just for the fun of it, I'm going to add a youtube video below.  One of my favorite non-teaching things to do is play English Handbells.  One of my favorite songs I've played is the one in the video below.  This is not my bell choir.  I don't have any videos of my bell choir.  Mostly, I just wanted to put a video in to show that it can be done.

And that brings us to the end of this post.  We'll see how long it takes for me to post again.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How did it get to be February?

Fun Technology Tools

Hi all,

So sorry for neglecting my blog so long.  Life just gets busy and this is the ball that seems to always get dropped.

I've been having great fun exploring some new, and not-so-new technology tools.  I thought I'd share a few of my favorites of late.

Tiny Tap

I have posted about Tiny Tap before.  This app continues to improve all the time.  It used to have a very early childhood look to it, but it now looks a little less baby-ish.  Students or teachers can use this app to create their own games or apps.  This can be a creative thing for students to do, or a great way for a teachers to present or review material. Some of the games my first graders made a few years ago, as well as a sample are listed on their website under my name here.


Kahoot is a very fun quiz/video game tool.  The teacher can create or use pre-created quizzes.  The students see the question on a projected screen and answer on whatever device they are using.  It's incredibly engaging and students keep begging for more.  

Students celebrate their correct answers on Kahoot!


Powtoon is a website that allows teachers and students to create great videos using several free templates.  The videos can then be uploaded to Youtube.  There's a few templates built specifically for education including meet the teacher and book reports.  It takes a short time to learn how all the tools work, but I felt it was time well spent because I can now teach it to my students and have them make awesome videos.  Below is a video I created in about 15 minutes.


Plickers is a website where teachers and/or students can create quizzes.  The fun part about them is they are like clickers, but low-tech.  All you need is a paper copy of the plickers, available to print for free from their webpage, or to purchase from Amazon and a mobile device with a camera such as a smart phone or tablet.  The teacher controls the quiz using the app by selecting a question and then scanning student plickers as they hold them up according to their answer.  Click here for my quick reference sheet for plickers.

Students hold up their plickers to be scanned.

Who knows when I'll pick up my blogger ball again?!  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  I hope you enjoy some of these great technology tools!  Let me know if you have any questions, or if you've discovered a great tool you'd like me to share with others.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014


It has been a crazy start to the year.  We have a new on-line testing system that has had serious issues compounded by a lack of training of anyone (including me) so no one knew how to fix or deal with the issues.

But now it's October.   The first round of testing is over and I'm getting back into the swing of things.  Technology is set up and running in both schools and I've been busy teaching kids and teachers.  Right now the focus has been on Internet safety and keyboard basics.  Not the most exciting topics, but they are foundational skills.

I have spent some time working on my teacher website and reorganizing it.  It's still not where I want it to be, but it's looking better.  I've also built a Lego League website for my team.  So, life has been busy on the webosphere.

I have enjoyed being a teacher trainer in the ETEP program our district has.  It is a new challenge for me.  At first I felt like I was in over my head, but I'm beginning to become more comfortable with it.  I'm learning new things from the students and co-teachers of this cohort.  Today I got to go visit one of the students as they taught.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy watching other teachers teach.  We teachers are just awesome.  If I could have one wish for the teachers I work with, it would be that they could have the time to visit other teachers and see what they do.  It's better than any professional development I've ever had.

First Lego League....oh, where to begin.  If I felt in over my head with ETEP, I'm at the bottom of the pond with Lego League.  I finally got a team picked out and we had our first meeting on Monday.  I think it's going to be so fun!  But I have no idea what I'm doing as a coach.  I'm definitely going to be faking it 'til I make it.  :)  The nice thing is that Lego League is very much a constructivist type of approach to teaching.  I'm more a facilitator or guide than a teacher.  I will learn it all alongside the kids.

One of my schools is getting a new computer lab.  I'm excited to get the new technology, but it's stressful redistributing everything and making sure everything will be up and running with minimal disruption to teachers and students.

So that's all the news from around here.  Now for a few technology tidbits:

Have you seen Plickers?  They are awesome!  There's a class set of paper cards you can print out from their website.  Each card is different and has what looks like a large QR code on it.  The cards have sides labeled A, B, C and D.  Ask students questions and they hold up their card with the corresponding answer facing up.  You scan the cards with a phone or tablet and it tabulates the student scores.  It's a great way to engage your students and have an informal assessment at the same time.

I created a document about how to create a bookmark bar and save items to it in the three major browsers.  It has surprised me how many teachers I know that weren't utilizing this wonderful feature of web browsers.  Here is a link to that document.

That's enough for now.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Where did I go?

That's a good question.  I got very tied up in the new job last year.  Between the newness of everything and spending so much time with technology, I really didn't feel like taking the time to update my blog.  I learned so much about technology and how to teach it last year!  I love working with both the teachers and the kids.  While the fixing stuff part of the job isn't my favorite, there's a certain satisfaction in coming to a teacher's rescue and getting things up and running for them.

Goals for the next year:

Coach a First Lego League Team

This is definitely a first for me and involves working closely with a group of ten students in 4th-6th grade.  I need to come up with an application process and a way to choose which ten get on the team.  This is not going to be easy--I hate that it's so limited in numbers, but I understand the reason for it.   I'm pretty excited and very nervous about the whole thing.  I chose to do this because the one thing I missed most last year about not having my own class of kids was the relationships.  This will give me a core group of kids to focus on.

If you're not familiar with First Lego League, students work as a team to solve a challenge each year.  This year's problem is "World Class".  They will research and create solutions to meeting the educational needs of students of this generation.  They'll build a a robot and other parts out of legos and program the robot to solve problems.  There's also a part about teamwork/sportsmanship and those social skills.

My knowledge of this is still very limited, but I'll be learning a lot and will hopefully update here as we go along.

Teaching Teachers

I was asked to be a teacher trainer this year.  I felt honored to be chosen.  I will be teaching tech to teachers in the evenings twice a month.  One thing I learned last year was how much I enjoy teaching teachers how to use technology.  These teachers are selected because of their interest, so it will be even more enjoyable to teach eager teachers.

Besides the training job, I'll also be teaching the teachers at my schools.  This is an interesting challenge because just like kids, there is a large variety of skill (and anxiety) levels in teachers.  I hope to meet the needs of all skill levels both in training teachers before or after school, and when they bring their classes in for me to teach.  I want to get better at Smart and Mimio so that I can help the teachers master these wonderful teaching tools I always wish I'd had when I was in the classroom.

Teaching Students

Of course, I'm all about the kids, too!  This year I want to have students track their progress with technology.  The lower grades will track their progress on their abilities including:  naming parts of the computer, logging on, logging off, mousing, minimize/maximize, power off/on, internet safety, digital presentation, and writing.  Upper grades will track their progress in:  internet safety, digital citizenship, password safety, keyboarding, digital presentation and writing.  These will use a variety of apps, web tools, and programs.

Social Media

I am going to shoot for a realistic goal of blogging at least once a month.  We'll see how that goes.  I also need to continue working on my teaching website.  I can't decide how I want to organize it, so it's all over the place right now.


I seriously need to lose weight.  I started a diet in the spring and it went out the window this summer when I went on a 2 week road trip across the country.  I need to get back to it this school year, and not only diet, but also exercise.

I didn't get all the junk around my house sorted through this summer.  I totally admit I was lazy during the time I was actually home.  I really need to finish sorting through all my stuff.

And Finally....

I know this was long and without pictures.  I plan on doing better next time.  I just wanted to get started on blogging again before the inclination went away and don't have the patience to go hunting for pictures.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What a first month!


I have now survived almost one calendar month of my new job!  I am really liking it a lot.  I'm learning more stuff than I can remember!  I love working with the teachers at both schools and look forward to working with students more once I can get everything running smoothly and make up a schedule (hopefully soon)!

One of the things I've taught to the teachers at my schools was iPad and Windows 7 Tips and Tricks.

Right now it's very hard for me to want to face much computer time once I get home, so that's why my blog posts have been few and far between.  I'm hoping I'll eventually be able to get back to a semi-regular blogging schedule.

Today we remember September 11, 2001.  I made a resource page for my teachers and some of them found it useful.  That made me feel like all the time I put into it was worth it.  I think it's really important that we teach our younger students (who were born after that date) what happened--they are often confused about it.

And on that note, I'm going to post this and get away from the computer...or at least try to....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The First Day 2013

Things I missed today as school started:  The teachers I taught with last year.  But I get to work with lots of wonderful teachers at new (to me) schools.

Things I did not miss today:
First day jitters
Lack of sleep the night before
Teaching procedures and rules and then more procedures and rules...
Announcements interrupting my teaching
Recess/bus/hall duty
Kids (I enjoyed seeing them in the halls and classrooms I entered)
Paperwork to go home
Figuring out who goes where at the end of the day and getting them there

I think I'm going to do just fine with not having my own class.  :)   I'm really enjoying my new job so far even though I still have lots to learn and it is stressful, it's a different kind of stress and I will learn it and even be good at it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Day of School

Lettering from
Tomorrow is the first day of school here.  It's going to be interesting to see how I handle not having my own class.  So far I'm rather enjoying it.  There's probably an equal amount of stress, but it feels like a different kind of stress.  The complete pressure to work miracles with students is off, and I can tell.  That's been replaced with the stress of trying to support the teachers at my schools as they go through those pressures.

To all of you out there who have already started or are starting soon, I wish you a wonderful new year filled with the joys of learning and childhood.