21 September 2016

September Edition of #PassTheScopeEDU

Image Courtesy of Brian Smith - @BrianRSmithSR
Today is the day for the September Edition of #PassTheScopeEDU and we're excited to make it happen! You're probably wondering why #PassTheScopeEDU is happening on a Wednesday instead of our normal Thursday? It has to do with our theme for September tying in with the International Day of Peace so it's on a different day. We are very excited about the topic this month and hope you all enjoy the messages.

As a reminder, what is #PassTheScopeEDU and how do I take part? #PassTheScopeEDU is an event where educators use Periscope to create a live broadcast (called a Scope) and share their thoughts. Each person participating will be using their own Periscope account and those of us following along will use Periscope to follow and watch their scope wherever we want, making #PassTheScopeEDU a truly personalized PD opportunity.

For our #PassTheScopeEDU event, we're gonna keep each scope live stream to about 5-10 minutes. When the first person finishes their scope they will tell you who is next up and what their Periscope user information is so you can go watch the next part. This continues until the last person finishes and the event ends. We didn't invent the idea of #PassTheScope, but we are very excited to do another one and share some great educational ideas.

If you are more of an auditory learner, check out this great episode of the Hack Learning Podcast by Mark Barnes, who is also participating in this month's edition of #PassTheScopeEDU. It's a great explanation that is short enough you can listen just about anywhere.

Who is involved and when are the times? Often a #PassTheScope event happens all at once, back-to-back, but we are going to do it a little different and have people throughout the day so feel free to jump in whenever you have time. The schedule and lineup are below:

Wednesday, September 21st

8:00am EST / 5:00am PST:
Tracy Brady
Twitter: @mmebrady
Periscope: @mmebrady
Website: ChangingMyRealmOfControl.blogspot.com

8:15am EST / 5:15am PST:
Stacy Lovdahl
Twitter: @braveneutrino
Periscope: @braveneutrino
Website: ScienceToybox.blogspot.com

10:15am EST / 7:15am PST:
Catherine MongisTwitter: @CathMartinique
Periscope: @CathMartinique

10:45am EST / 7:45am PST:
Catherine Mongis
Twitter: @CathMartinique
Periscope: @CathMartinique

11:00am EST / 8:00am PST:
Mary T McCullaghTwitter: @marytmccullagh
Periscope: @marytmccullagh

11:15am EST / 8:15am PST:
Jennifer Casa-ToddTwitter: @JCasaTodd
Periscope: @JCasaTodd

11:30am EST / 8:30am PST:
Dene GaineyTwitter: @dene_gainey
Periscope: @dene_gainey

11:45am EST / 8:45am PST:
Catherine Mongis
Twitter: @CathMartinique
Periscope: @CathMartinique

12:00pm EST / 9:00am PST:
Toutoule Ntoya
Twitter: @ToutouleNtoya
Periscope: @ToutouleNtoya
Website: Toutoule.wix.com/Toutoule-Ntoya

12:15pm EST / 9:15am PST:
Loojimps MarciusTwitter: @lmarcius
Periscope: @lmarcius

12:45pm EST / 9:45am PST:
Rachel Pierson Twitter: @RPiersonEDU
Periscope: @RPiersonEDU

1:30pm EST / 10:30am PST:
Valerie Lewis
Twitter: @iamVLewis
Periscope: @iamVLewis
Website: iamvlewis.wordpress.com

2:00pm EST / 11:00am PST:
Barbara Cotter Twitter: @BcCotter
Periscope: @BcCotter

3:00pm EST / 12:00pm PST:
Tracy Brady
Twitter: @mmebrady
Periscope: @mmebrady
Website: ChangingMyRealmOfControl.blogspot.com

3:15pm EST / 12:15pm PST:
Nicolette James Twitter: @njames
Periscope: @njames

3:30pm EST / 12:30pm PST:
Ashaala Shanae Twitter: @AshaalaShanae
Periscope: @AshaalaShanae

3:45pm EST / 12:45pm PST:
Matt Frattali Twitter: @mfrattali
Periscope: @mfrattali

4:15pm EST / 1:15pm PST:
Brian Smith Twitter: @1to1brian
Periscope: @1to1brian

5:00pm EST / 2:00pm PST:
Sarah Thomas
Twitter: @SarahDaTeechur
Periscope: @SarahDaTeechur
Website: SarahDaTeechur.com

6:00pm EST / 3:00pm PST:
Judy Arzt
Twitter: @JudyArzt
Periscope: @JudyArzt

6:45pm EST / 3:45pm PST:
Kate Zakrzewski Twitter: @carrotmuffins
Periscope: @carrotmuffins

7:00pm EST / 4:00pm PST:
Kimberly Howell Martin Twitter: @kmhmartin
Periscope: @kmhmartin

7:30pm EST / 4:30pm PST:
Venus Miller Twitter: @timetotalkforreal
Periscope: @timetotalkforreal

8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST:
Cassie Reeder Twitter: @reeder_cassie
Periscope: @reeder_cassie

8:45pm EST / 5:45pm PST:
Knikole Taylor Twitter: @knikoletaylor
Periscope: @knikoletaylor

Come join us for #PassTheScopeEDU and don't forget to follow each of these amazing educators on Twitter and Periscope! Also, if you follow the #PassTheScopeEDU on Twitter at @PassTheScopeEDU you'll see reminder tweets so you don't have to worry about when the next scoper is starting. And remember, if you watch, feel free to give lots of hearts because we love you!

18 August 2016

#PassTheScopeEDU August Edition

Image Courtesy of Brian Smith - @BrianRSmithSR
Today is the day for our August Edition of #PassTheScopeEDU and we're excited to make it happen! It's been a crazy wild for me in the last couple of week with me accepting and starting a new job, but I'm excited to be back with my #PassTheScopeEDU crew and hope you'll join us today. Our theme for August is "What did you learn this Summer and how will you use it this year." This is such an excellent topic as school is about to get started because it can help us remember all the amazing things we learned and hopefully help you to also remember some of the amazing things you learned as well.

But what is it and how do I take part? #PassTheScopeEDU is an event where educators use Periscope to create a live broadcast (called a Scope) and share their thoughts. Each person participating will be using their own Periscope account and those of us following along will use Periscope to follow and watch their scope wherever we want, making #PassTheScopeEDU a truly personalized PD opportunity.

For our #PassTheScopeEDU event, we're gonna keep each scope live stream to about 5-10 minutes. When the first person finishes their scope they will tell you who is next up and what their Periscope user information is so you can go watch the next part. This continues until the last person finishes and the event ends. We didn't invent the idea of #PassTheScope, but we are very excited to do another one and share some great educational ideas.

If you are more of an auditory learner, check out this great episode of the Hack Learning Podcast by Mark Barnes, who is also participating in this month's edition of #PassTheScopeEDU. It's a great explanation that is short enough you can listen just about anywhere.


Who is involved and when are the times? Often a #PassTheScope event happens all at once, back-to-back, but we are going to do it a little different and have people throughout the day so feel free to jump in whenever you have time. The schedule and lineup are below:

Thursday, August 18th

Sometime before 12:00pm EST / 9:00am PST:
Dan Kreiness
Twitter: @DKreiness
Periscope: @DKreiness
Website: LeaderOfLearning.wordpress.com

12:00pm EST / 9:00am PST:
Toutoule Ntoya
Twitter: @ToutouleNtoya
Periscope: @ToutouleNtoya
Website: Toutoule.wix.com/Toutoule-Ntoya

12:15pm EST / 9:15am PST:
Jennifer Gwilt
Twitter: @Mrs_Gwilt
Periscope: @Mrs_Gwilt

1:30pm EST / 10:30am PST:
Twitter: @PledgeCents
Periscope: @PledgeCents
Website: Blog.PledgeCents.com

2:30pm EST / 11:30am PST:
Derek Larson ( That's ME! )
Twitter: @lars3eb
Periscope: @lars3eb
Website: EdTechBabble.net

4:00pm EST / 1:00pm PST:
Judy Arzt
Twitter: @JudyArzt
Periscope: @JudyArzt

4:15pm EST / 1:15pm PST:
Jacqueline Rose
Twitter: @JRose_Edu
Periscope: @JRose_Edu

4:30pm EST / 1:30pm PST:
Kate ZakrzewskiTwitter: @CarrottMuffins
Periscope: @CarrottMuffins

5:00pm EST / 2:00pm PST:
Sarah Thomas
Twitter: @SarahDaTeechur
Periscope: @SarahDaTeechur
Website: SarahDaTeechur.com

5:15pm EST / 2:15pm PST:
Matt FrattaliTwitter: @iMattFrat
Periscope: @iMattFrat

5:30pm EST / 2:30pm PST:
Hanane SolorioTwitter: @msHanane68
Periscope: @msHanane68

6:00pm EST / 3:00pm PST:
Cynthia Day
Twitter: @msdayvt
Periscope: @msdayvt

6:30pm EST / 3:30pm PST:
Tracy Brady
Twitter: @mmebrady
Periscope: @mmebrady
Website: ChangingMyRealmOfControl.blogspot.com

6:45pm EST / 3:45am PST:
William Jeffery
Twitter: @CoachJeffery
Periscope: @CoachJeffery

7:00pm EST / 4:00pm PST:
Stacy Lovdahl
Twitter: @braveneutrino
Periscope: @braveneutrino
Website: ScienceToybox.blogspot.com

7:15pm EST / 4:15pm PST:
Heidi CarrTwitter: @carr_8
Periscope: @carr_8

7:30pm EST / 4:30pm PST:
Valerie Lewis
Twitter: @iamVLewis
Periscope: @iamVLewis
Website: iamvlewis.wordpress.com

7:45pm EST / 4:45pm PST:
Kimberly HowellTwitter: @ kmhmartin
Periscope: @ kmhmartin

10:00pm EST / 7:00pm PST:
Heather GauckTwitter: @HeatherGauck
Periscope: @HeatherGauck
Website: EdVoiceGauck.weebly.com

11:00pm EST / 8:00pm PST:
Heather Marrs
Twitter: @hmarrs24
Periscope: @hmarrs24
Website: TheTechyTeacherBlog.wordpress.com

Come join us for #PassTheScopeEDU and don't forget to follow each of these amazing educators on Twitter and Periscope! Also, if you follow the #PassTheScopeEDU on Twitter at @PassTheScopeEDU you'll see reminder tweets so you don't have to worry about when the next scoper is starting. And remember, if you watch, feel free to give lots of hearts because we love you!

New Job and Guest Hosting #HouseOfEdTech

I've had a pretty amazing and busy last couple of weeks that have kept me from writing here like I'd like to do. Not that that's any real excuse, but this may actually be a decent reason for why I've been absent for so long. While I spent a lot of time traveling and enjoying family time this summer, I had a life-changing event occur that has left me feeling very excited and nervous all at the same time.

My new home, SEDC!
As of August 1st, 2016, I am no longer a classroom teacher. I've left my post as a 5th grade teacher working with some of the most amazing educators in the state of Utah, if not the entire country, in order to accept the position of Technology Director of Southwest Educational Development Center (SEDC) in Southern Utah. While I have been working on my Administrative Endorsement to work in the area of Educational Leadership, this is a position that is kind of a dream come true! I get to work with some of the best educational technology integrationists and network specialists along with an outstanding Autism Specialist, the most organized office manager and kindest director you could ask for, it's like I'm dreaming here!

While I will miss my time working directly with amazing students and their very patient parents, I look forward to working with teachers to help them in their quest to become the best educators around! I will be working with the six Southwestern counties/school districts in the beautiful state of Utah! I've already spent time in five of the districts and I can't wait to work with each of the 100+ schools in my region.

House of #EdTech Episode 67
While I haven't done the best of job explaining my new position here, I recently had the chance to appear as the guest host for the #HouseOfEdTech podcast with my pal Chris Nesi last week. In that episode, Chris had me explain all about my new position and the process it took for me to apply for and ultimately get the job. You should consider heading over to ChrisNesi.com/67 and listen to Episode 67 of his excellent podcast #HouseOfEdTech. In fact, if you aren't already subscribed to the #HouseOfEdTech then you should correct that mistake and subscribe to one of my absolute favorite podcasts around. Chris produces a great new episode every two weeks and in it you will find excellent tips and tricks that you can "listen to today and use tomorrow." Thanks Chris for letting me come on the show and share my good news!

So, to recap, I have accepted a new position as the Technology Director of SEDC in Southwestern Utah, leaving the classroom after a wonderful eight years working with students. While I'll miss it, I'm already loving the new gig and look forward to all the new things I will learn. I also appeared as the guest host of Episode 67 of #HouseOfEdTech with Chris Nesi. Go ahead and have a listen at ChrisNesi.com/67.

20 July 2016

#PassTheScopeEDU July Edition

Image Courtesy of Brian Smith - @BrianRSmithSr
Tomorrow will be the first time since the creation of #PassTheScopeEDU that I won't be a planned part of the event and I'm not sure I'm okay about it. I was in the right place at the right time to work with the very talented Valerie Lewis and crew in starting the very first #PassTheScopeEDU event back in April and have loved working with the planning crew for each of the latter events. But I won't be an official scoper for the July Edition focusing on Creating Something New for the 2016-17 School Year due to being away with family on vacation.

Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE to disconnect occasionally and be away from the interwebz, but I also legitimately LOVE being involved with my #PassTheScopeEDU crew, so this is a little crazy for me. So don't be alarmed if you see me jump in on a slow moment and share some of my own ideas for the coming school year, and they are many! Plus, I may even have some breaking news about my next year plans. But I didn't officially plan a time due to not knowing where I'll be, but watch out for me. 

If you want to get a run down of who IS participating, look no further than the wonderful Stacey Lovdahl's great post on her site ScienceToyBox. She has put together a nice view of the event as well as another great video, which is shown below. 

Be sure to check out Stacey's blog for the full schedule and join in as much of the #PassTheScopeEDU fun starting at 12pm EST and going until 11pm EST with some breaks in between. And if you can't join in live, be sure to search for #PassTheScopeEDU on Periscope to find out what you missed. 

14 July 2016

Always Learning - #100DayProject - Day 105

I was lucky enough to spend some time today with a group of educators learning about using Social Media in the classroom and it was amazing! While many people may use social media in their private lives, it's not always easy to figure out ways to utilize it properly in the professional setting. Working with these teachers today they proved that even if you don't feel confident in a certain area, with a little explanation and practice you can get anything figured out and be ready for business.

I really enjoy teaching professional development classes for teachers because it allows me the chance to brush up on my skills in specific areas and reassess how I am doing things. Whenever I teach this particular class on social media, I am reminded that I need to spend more time with each of my social profiles to make sure they are up-to-date and not too laggy in information.

Not too bad of an idea, keep your own name safe on Twitter.
One thing that hit me this year had to do with Twitter and the fact that I don't use my real name but instead a screen name of @lars3eb. I came across someone (I feel bad I can't remember who now) who is in a similar situation, using a screen name instead of a real name for Twitter, had set up an additional Twitter account that was based on her actual name but just had it to keep her real name safe. I LOVED the idea so much I did the same thing and don't know why I hadn't done it before. I decided to treat this account differently and protect the tweets because I'm not going to use it that way, but instead as just a way to reserve my name in case I decide to use it later.

I also love when I remember I actually have certain social accounts that don't always get the attention they deserve. By taking the time to go into the account and freshening it up, I feel like I was able to do a better job as well as enjoy the different accounts I have created. It doesn't take much time, but if you even set a repeating event in our calendar for once or twice a year to update social networks you could be even faster. I've already set my alarm for the next refresh and no, it won't be a year from now because it will be much sooner.

13 July 2016

Drive Time - #100DayProject - Day 104

I love driving. It doesn't usually matter where the destination is, I almost always love driving. The only exception is heavy traffic with small children who can't keep themselves occupied. Other than that, I love driving.
Image Source: Pixabay.com

I was lucky to spend some time driving today as I needed to travel 50+ miles to attend the 2016 Utah Rural Schools Conference (#URSA16). The day was near perfect, excellent drive and wonderful learning took place. I was able to attend some great sessions, present a couple of my own, and connect with amazing educators from across the state of Utah. Then when it was all said and done, I was able to drive the same 50+ miles home and have some nice time to reflect on my day and really think about my learning. Sometimes I wish my regular commute was a little more like the one I had today because it allowed me more time to sort out my thoughts before arriving home so I wasn't as stressed or bothered by my day.

So the next time you decide you dislike your commute, try and use it to your advantage. Replay your day, reflect on the good, bad and ugly, and try to allow yourself the chance to calm down before you greet your home and family so you can be more of the person they love instead of the angry and stressed out educator you sometimes are when you get home.

12 July 2016

Password Management - #100DayProject - Day 103

Image Source: Pixabay.com
I love working with teachers to help them learn about how to use technology in their classrooms as well as just finding different ways to use it in their own lives. Today I spent time working with teachers on how to better use social media as a professional educator. We had a smaller group which I really enjoyed because we were able to really get into some different aspects of unseen aspects of social media including defining PLNs and why educators should care about them and the safety needs associated with using social media yourself as well as with your class. A lot of the important stuff that doesn't always get discussed with this topic.

One of the specific topics we discussed was that of password safety and the need to have different passwords for each different site you use or access online. I'm always surprised when I hear about people who are still using the same password across multiple sites. Not only is this incredibly unsafe it's also unnecessary with some modern tools like LastPass and 1Password. Whenever I discuss password safety, I like to show a great summary video on LastPass that Digitwirl created a few years back. Even though the video is almost five years old, I like the way it explains what password managers do and how to use them. 

As we were talking, we were able to discuss the need for better passwords and other ways to manage them that weren't so hi-tech, but I was happy that some of the teachers seemed interested in doing better with their password usage. If you are still using the same password in multiple places online, do yourself a favor and make a switch to keeping yourself safer and find a solution that works for you. 

** Note **
This is not a paid advertisement for LastPass, but I am a very happy customer who enjoys helping others see how password management can keep them safer online. 

10 July 2016

Music Fun - #100DayProject - Day 101

As many of you already know, I am a lover of almost all forms of music. I played in school bands from 6th grade until college where I even received a partial scholarship for my musical experience and commitment. I finally had to quit organized symphonic band when I entered my Elementary Education coursework. Maybe that was one of the reasons I was so excited to go back and play with the retirement concert for my college band director.
Image Source: Pixabay.com

While perusing Facebook today, one of my friends shared an amazing video where a man by the name of Grant Woolard had arranged (and I say composed even though this person didn't write the music) 57 classical songs by 38 different composers. I absolutely LOVED the video and ended up re-sharing it amongst my friends. I've now gone and watched it on YouTube where at the time of this writing it had 2.7 million views! So take a couple minutes and enjoy a very fun piece of classical music mashed up with other great classical songs. And if you play the piano, even just a little like I do, tell me you don't want to buy the sheet music.

I love sharing music-based items because I feel that music is something that ALL kids need to have in their lives and more than just listening to it. I believe that learning how to play a musical instrument helped me in all aspects of my life and especially in school. While it was difficult at times to finish all my homework and still have time for sports and practicing music, I wouldn't trade my musical experiences for anything! I was able to perform in many locations including Disneyland, Fullerton State Jazz Festival, UNLV, across Utah, and even on the stage of Carnegie Hall. None of which involved my time in rock bands and taking part in our mini-tour across Southern Nevada and Northern Utah. I have been very blessed to enjoy many different experiences through music that without I would be a different person.

Please help encourage your students to get involved with music and learn to play an instrument because you never know, they may just come back and thank you for it one day!

I added the name of the man who composed and arranged this amazing work. His name is Grant Woolard and you should check out his other stuff on YouTube as well.

09 July 2016

The End? - #100DayProject - Day 100

So, I actually did it, I made it to Day 100 of this #100DayProject challenge. Did you think I could do it? I didn't think so because I didn't actually make it. You see, I can't quite yet sing along with the Fab Four and their 1969 song off of the Abbey Road album, "The End," because I didn't actually post 100 days of writing yet. You see, I've missed a few days and have therefore only actually posted 94 times. So what does that mean? Did I fail? Am I a disgrace? Let's look at these questions a little more in depth.
Image Source: Pixabay.com

Did I fail? Technically yes because I didn't accomplish my goal of 100 posts in 100 days. Life got in the way and I missed six days due to lack of planning and not having posts ready while traveling. I over-thought my abilities and wasn't able to complete the posts. So I plan to go an extra six days until I hit Day 106 and I'm actually looking forward to it. I've rediscovered the joy of writing and having a regular schedule for my writing. So, even after I finish the 106 days I won't be done here but will continue writing and posting regularly. Will that schedule stay at a daily rate? No, but I will set a regular schedule and am already planning what that schedule will look like, probably 2-3 posts per week with a goal of increasing it to 5+.

I like to think of the word fail as an acronym to help me better understand what it actually means to me.
While some disagree with this acronym, I love it because it helps our students see it's okay to fail as long as we continue with the learning and move along. It's our FIRST attempt, not our only attempt and that's important! If we can help our students develop a love of learning and attempting new things we are doing our job to the fullest. We need to help our students desire to worth through problems and not give up as soon as they "fail" or when it gets difficult. That's why I'm okay that I "failed" with my goal of 100 posts in 100 days because I'm not done yet, I'm going to finish my goal even though it's now a little late and may be deducted in point value.

Image Source: Pixabay.com
Am I a disgrace for not accomplishing my goal? No, because I did something that many people will NEVER attempt because it's hard. Even though I didn't get out 100 posts in 100 days, I got out 94 in 100 days which is amazing! I have renewed my desire to write and as explained above, plan to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Even if I had accomplished much less of the goal, I still wouldn't have been a disgrace because I gave it my all and tried my best. I think this is something I will take from my experience back to the classroom. Sometimes our students will be upset that they didn't achieve their goals perfectly and we need to remind them it's okay and to be proud of the level of success they did achieve. They were able to accomplish part of a goal and had growth more than if they hadn't even tried. We need to be more willing to show them the power of trying by praising the work they do towards their goals and then help them set a new goal for more growth.

So, here's to setting goals, working on goals, failing at goals, and setting new goals to have a cycle of goals. I hope you'll stick around for the next phase of Ed-Tech Babble as I continue to learn and grow in my writing and reflecting on education. Let's not let the #100DayProject be the end of learning here, but instead, a renewed love of learning and renewed sense of purpose.

08 July 2016

My Prayer - #100DayProject - Day 099

I don't even know where to start with this post today, which is part of the reason I'm so late. But I'm going to try anyway and hope to say something meaningful and helpful.
Image Source: Pixabay.com

This has been a hard couple of days here in the United States of America, a place where we are only still united by name. We have watched three horrendous situations take fold and I don't believe there is an end in sight. Our country is broken and in need of someone more than just a doctor, but a healer.

While reading through Facebook, I was reminded of a beautiful and powerful quote by Mahatma Ghandi.
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
How can we not see that the more we attack each other, the farther we get from any real solution? We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world, the example of what a Free Nation should look like, and yet, we're too busy fighting amongst ourselves and killing one another we've forgotten it.

I have a friend who is vacationing in Washington, D.C. right now and he shared some beautiful pictures of his visit on Facebook as well. One of the places he stopped was the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial and while enjoying his picture, I couldn't help but think of the great Reverend's quote about hate multiplying hate.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction....
The chain reaction of evil --
hate begetting hate,
wars producing more wars --
must be broken,
or we shall be plunged
into the dark abyss of annihilation.
Image Source: Pixabay.com
When will we recognize that the only way to fix out country is to fix ourselves? We need to work to destroy the hate from within and then, and only then, will we be able to move past this despair and destruction from within. At this point, it doesn't matter who started what may well become a second Civil War of our nation, it only matters who is the truly stronger one to help end it.

I pray that God will help us in this country to find a solution to our divisions. I pray that He will bless our great nation to once again be the example of what a Free Nation should be. But even with all my prayers, I know that the way God answers us is through each other. He doesn't usually send angels to fix things, He sends us to fix things. We need to willing to follow through with the simple but powerful feelings and promptings we feel throughout the day to serve one another and help make our homes, schools, cities, counties, states, and country a better place. The change we NEED in this country will begin with each and every one of us and how we decide to live each day. I pray that we can live up to that challenge to help each other feel of God's love for you.

07 July 2016

#URSA16 - #100DayProject - Day 098

Image Source: URSA.k12.ut.us
I am so excited to be attending and presenting at the 2016 Utah Rural Schools Conference, next week, July 13-15 at Southern Utah University. I will be presenting four different sessions during two of the three days. If you are in the Southern Utah area, stop by for some great educational sessions about how to be a better educator with or without technology, although I prefer with whenever possible! And if you aren't already in the area, consider making the trip out because URSA has always been one of my favorite conferences to attend. It's like a hidden gem because so few people seem to know about it and yet it's SUCH a great educational conference!

If you aren't able to attend this great conference in person, feel free to attend digitally through the hashtag #URSA16. There will be lots of information to learn, so follow along and join in the learning process. If you have any questions or comments during or after the conference, you can connect with me @lars3eb on Twitter or on my Facebook Page.

I will be presenting the following sessions and would love to see you there!

Wednesday, July 13th:

10:10am: Reimagine learning with the Classroom Trifecta of ClassDojo, Kahoot!, and GoNoodle - Business Building, Room 201
  • Sched Info: http://sched.co/7EcY
  • Slides - Coming Soon
  • Handout - Coming Soon
  • Do you want to help your class run smoother, more effective, and still have time to allow your students to get their wiggles out? If so, this is the session for you! We will be going over three great FREE tools to help you get your class in order for more success and more fun.

  • First is Class Dojo, a great tool to help your students (and their parents) track daily behaviors. Next is Kahoot! an excellent way to get your students excited about review and formative assessment. Third is GoNoodle, a website that will allow you to give your students a needed movement break, even if Mother Nature isn't playing nice.

    Come see how to keep learning fun while still getting great academic results!

2:40pm: Next Gen Pro Dev - Twitter Chats & EdCamps with Jared Covili - Business Building, Room 203
  • Sched Info: http://sched.co/7EcX
  • Slides - Coming Soon
  • Handout - Coming Soon
  • Are you ready to take your Professional Development to the next level? Do you 
  • want to do something that's out of the ordinary and more enjoyable than just
    "sit and get"? Do you want to be able to choose your own adventure when it comes
    to Professional Development?

    If you answered yes to any of these questions then this session is for you! We
    will be discussing how you can use Twitter for more than just playing around by
    taking advantage of some very helpful Twitter Chats. Come learn how to effectively
    participate in these chats by learning about different technology tools that
    can help this process along. We will cover a multitude of different tools that
    will make following along as well as contributing a snap!

    We'll also discuss EdCamps and why you should consider attending one as well as
    possibly starting one of your own. You'll see how EdCamps follow the "unconference"
    model and how you can actually come away from an EdCamp even more excited than
    after a full-on conference.

    Come join us as we move into the Next Generation of Professional Development, a more
    personalized form of PD that's anything BUT the standard sit-and-get!

Friday, July 15th:

9:00am: 6 Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Be Using - Ed Building, Room 202
  • Sched Info: http://sched.co/7EcZ
  • Slides (pdf) - Coming Soon
  • Handout - Coming Soon
  • Dropbox Video - http://bit.ly/15CoDmd
  • LastPass Video - http://bit.ly/WKRVOY
  • Whether you are a techie teacher or a techno-novice, there are a number of online 
  • tools available to help you increase your productivity and perfect your computer

    This session will cover five main technology areas: storage solutions, password
    management, bookmarking, information gathering and information sharing. Each of
    the five areas includes multiple options to help allow for both flexibility of
    choice and availability of assortment.

    The different areas contain multiple tools, including; online flash drives,
    applications to help you remember your different passwords, the ability to save
    your Internet bookmarks to multiple web browsers and computers, sharing your
    bookmarks with others, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, Twitter, and URL shorteners.

    Each of the areas contains both free and paid versions of tools allowing everyone
    the opportunity to use the products regardless of funding and finances.

10:10am: Bringing the Fun to Formative Assessments - Ed Building, Room 202
  • Sched Info: http://sched.co/7Eca
  • Slides - Coming Soon
  • Handout - Coming Soon
  • The last thing many people think of when they hear the word “assessment” is fun, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Come learn how to more effectively assess your students in ways that help the assessment to still be fun and not just another boring test! We will discuss great tools like clickers (SRS devices), Plickers, Kahoot!, and maybe even a QR code or two! Come learn how you can help your next Formative Assessment be more fun and engaging for your students!

If you do come out to #URSA16, please feel free to come and say Hi! I would love to meet you. I hope to see you there!

06 July 2016

Quiet Time - #100DayProject - Day 097

I am the kind of person who loves to sit quietly and think. I usually say "sit and do nothing," but I don't think that's an accurate statement because can you really do nothing? Maybe you can, but I can't because my mind tends to wander anyways so I might as well let it and then it becomes thinking about stuff. So, I am a person who likes to sit and think. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I enjoy driving so much. There is very little to "do" besides drive and think. I realize you can listen to audio entertainment (music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.) or talk with people, but I often drive places alone and actually enjoy the silence when not enjoying some level of audio entertainment.
Image Source: Pixabay.com

In the last 48 hours, I have spent close to five hours driving in a car by myself and enjoying the silence and time to think. While I did listen to a few podcasts (thanks, Chris Nesi for another excellent episode of the #HouseOfEdTech) and some audiobooks, I actually spent some time in quiet solitude to consider all that I've been blessed to do this year so far and to wonder a bit about where I'm headed in the future. And do you know what? It was an incredibly relaxing time in the car.

While spending some time on Twitter tonight, I came across a tweet that was retweeted by the Best Keynote group that really struck a cord with me. The tweet is below.

How often do we allow ourselves to just sit quietly and reflect and think, especially while waiting for an appointment? I agree with Connor and also enjoy my time while waiting. And yet, sometimes still pull out my pocket computer and mess around. Why do we feel the need to constantly be connected to our phones instead of letting ourselves let go? I don't have an answer and am still working on unplugging more often in the spare moments we have throughout the day.

I hope we can all find ways to unplug and learn to enjoy the quiet in our lives. Because life has so few of those moments left, it'd be a shame to waste them all playing games or messing around on social media all the time. Here's to unplugging a little more and thinking about life.

05 July 2016

Kindness - #100DayProject - Day 096

Have you ever had someone compliment you out of the blue that made you feel special and loved? Or are you the type of person who immediately wondered what their catch was, why were they complimenting you out of nowhere? I like to think I'm more of the first example, but more often than not I tend to be the reluctant accepter of nice things. I don't think I'm the only one here, but I'm so confused as to why I do it. Why do we second-guess others who are trying to be kind?

So what set off this thinking process today? I spent the day teaching a class on Web 2.0 for my school district when I noticed a strange tweet addressed to me. As we were talking about Twitter (social media being a good example of Web 2.0 - a term I kind of loathe) I noticed I had a notification show up on my phone for the following tweet.

Are you kidding me? What is this all about? Is this some kind of joke? Who's behind this thing? Sadly, these were some of my initial thoughts about this super nice comment. While I don't understand who is responsible, the more I step back, the more grateful I am for someone creating something so kind in a world where it's the norm to be a jerk online.

Who or what is @TheNiceBot? According to its Twitter bio:
I am The NiceBot. Something mean is posted on Twitter every 60 seconds, so I have been programmed to deliver random niceness every 30 seconds. Have a nice day!
It's also linked to an organization called Champions Against Bullying who are committed to "creating a society where every child has the opportunity to develop, learn and thrive in an environment without fear, without violence and without limitation." On their home page they have a short video PSA that almost made me cry because of its message. Check it out below.

How often do we wait until it's too late to say something kind? Imagine what those kind words could have done for those teens if they had actually heard them instead of just have them be posted after they were gone. I for one think it's time to step up and start sharing more good online and being more kind. It may have taken receiving a compliment from a strange Twitter account to get me on this path, but that's okay as long as I get on the path. Let's all start taking time to be a little more kind online and help those we care about (both online and off) to see just how important and special they are to us.

Thanks for @TheNiceBot and those who created you. Your simple message of kindness has inspired me to be a little kinder, a little more willing to be kind. Here's to helping Champions Against Bullying reach their goal of creating a society where kids can live "without fear, without violence and without limitation." Let's make a difference!

04 July 2016

Happy 4th of July - #100DayProject - Day 095

Happy 4th of July!

God bless America, home of the free because of the brave!


I feel so honored to call the U.S.A. my home because of what this country stands for. I have been blessed to have a number of family members serve in the Armed Forces and am forever indebted to them and the many more who have also served to protect this home of mine. While I recognize America isn't without its flaws and issues, we are all very blessed to call this great country home.

God bless the U.S.A.!

03 July 2016

Birthdays - #100DayProject - Day 094

We celebrated my nephew's birthday yesterday (a couple days late) and it was a fun day. We swam, ate delicious BBQ and cake, and just enjoyed each other's company. It was the perfect summer birthday. I was then reminded my daughter's birthday is also a summer one and that we could be celebrating in a very similar fashion and was excited. Birthdays are supposed to be fun and enjoyable and I've always loved summer birthdays for that very reason.
Image Source: Pixabay.com

My own birthday is at the end of August so I can still have a little of the above feeling but a little different. The main difference is my birthday is often after school has already started so I also get to celebrate at school, something my nephew and daughter may not get to do. Some teachers treat birthdays in a way that if you aren't in class for your actual birthday you don't need to be celebrated, even if it's just on a weekend. I decided long ago that I wasn't going to treat birthdays that way and that every student was going to be celebrated for a birthday, half-birthday, or un-birthday. So what's the difference between the three? Depends on the day of celebration.

  • Birthday --> Your actual birthday, just like normal. Not every student gets to have this option every year, even if their actual birthday is during the regular school year due to weekends and holidays. 
  • Half-birthday --> When you celebrate your birthday on the 6-month mark instead of the year mark. This is perfect for summer birthdays because they may have a June, July, or August birthday that's out of the option for an in-class celebration so you celebrate in December, January, or February instead. I've have had many students tell me their half-birthday celebration was the most fun and often the first experience of celebrating a birthday in class. A fun approach for those summer kiddos. 
  • Un-birthday --> This is used for the student who has a birthday on a weekend, holiday or is absent for their birthday. Another great way to celebrate kids even when their special day doesn't play nice with the regular school calendar. I also use this approach for students whose birthdays are immediately after school ends so it can be closer to their actual birthday instead of six months away. 
One area I need to adjust is the gift. Do you give each student a gift on their birthday? Up until the last year or two, I always gave each student a candy bar of their choice or something similar for my no-treats kids (I've had a couple of diabetic students as well as a bunch doing a no-treat bet with parents). The last two years all I did was sing to them and that was it. Although it worked, I kind of felt like a cheapskate and will probably go back to some kind of treat. I know some teachers go all our and do little trinkets while others order cheap books from Scholastic Books and give each student a book or even a coupon for a book. 

Image Source: Pixabay.com
Another thing I am always open to is students bringing in treats for their birthday. My only restriction for the treats is they are store-bought to keep with district policy. While some parents hate it, others LOVE it and thank me for the limitation. The image above is cupcakes because next to doughnuts (uh, look left for a delicious looking glazed one), cupcakes are probably the second most shared treat with sugar cookies coming in third. While I don't always receive a treat, I probably shouldn't always eat it when I do, but who can resist a sweet treat? 

I teach at the elementary level and probably have a different approach than some of the secondary folks. Do you still celebrate birthdays at the secondary level? How do you do it? Do you offer any kind of gift? Do your students bring in treats? 

Am I the only teacher who celebrates birthdays in a way that allows all students to celebrate in class? Let me know if you do the same thing or if you do something different that also works. And if you don't currently celebrate in this manner, maybe see if you can adjust a little so every student can be recognized in class.

02 July 2016

Sick Kids - #100DayProject - Day 093

I've been helping my parents care for my sick special needs aunt this evening and it made me realize how lucky I am. Even though my lovely wife has been ill for the last couple of days and my son started feeling sick today too, neither of them have thrown up. I am not the type of person who can handle vomit without feeling queasy myself and often end up in the same position. Yuck! I don't do other people sick very well if I have to clean up after them.
Image Source: Pixabay.com

Then I started thinking about my classroom and how I handle sickness at school. I am one of those teachers who would rather not have the student if possible and have been known to send kids home only to have parents later email and ask why they were sent home. My philosophy is better safe than sorry when it comes to illness, especially when it's at school, one of the germiest places on Earth.

But even more than sending kids home, I rarely send home missed work as they leave. I figure if they're sick enough to go home they should be resting and not stressing missed work. Besides, they can always make it up when they get back. I've even had to tell parents to chill and not worry about the work because they're worried the student will fall too far behind after missing part of one day. However, if they've been out for a couple days and seem to be on the mend, I will often send the work home at that point so they can start to ease back into intellectual work before returning to school.

I'm curious about how everyone else handles sickness and missed work. Do you send it home with someone that same day or do like I do and wait until they return? Do you even have the student make up the missing work or just excuse them and move on? I'm assuming responses will vary based on the level of teaching with Secondary more likely to request missed work be made up, but then again, I ask for it and I teach Elementary. So help me out and let me know via the comments or Twitter - @lars3eb.

01 July 2016

Memory Lane - #100DayProject - Day 092

I decided to take a stroll down memory lane tonight and watch one of my favorite superhero movies, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. And it was not only a walk down memory lane because this version of Batman came out in 1993, but because I was watching the actual VHS tape I watched when I was a kid back in 1993. And just in case you forgot what a VHS tape is, here's a link to a Wikipedia article about VHS.
Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Why would I pick an animated version of Batman over many of the other versions available? Because I think the animated version from the early 90s was one of the best produced, not too dark and not too cartoony, even though it was animated. I loved the storylines as well animation style because again, it was a little more realistic than other cartoons. But I also chose Mask of the Phantasm because sometimes nothing beats the older versions of items, even if they lack more modern touches and sometimes it's because of that lack.

Just like my movie selection, I often choose learning tools that are not as modern or digital. I love taking notes with pens/pencils and paper, working out rough drafts on paper as opposed to digital tools, and often prefer to read paper books over ebooks. I also enjoy allowing my students the same option of using either high- or low-tech for projects based on their personal preferences. While there are some assignments I have my students use specific tools, others are totally up to them. And what I love to see is regularly some students will just choose their analog tools over the digital while others always pick digital. I think it's important we allow for choice in tools whenever possible because it shows students it's more about the project or results over the specific tool used. We need to always keep that in mind and never create an assignment merely to use a specific high-tech tool unless the outcome is to help students better learn how that tool works.

Maybe take your own stroll down memory lane and watch a movie or read a book from your past that helps you remember the way things used to be. Then open up to the idea of doing the same in your class next year. Nothing wrong with using a great analog tool every now and then.

30 June 2016

#ISTE2016 Flooding - #100DayProject - Day 091

Image Source: Pixabay.com
I live in a desert and in order to survive, like everywhere else, we depend on the rain. However, different to other climates, deserts have a love-hate relationship with the rain. We desperately need it but we often don't get the best form of rain for our environment. So what happens? We usually get too much in a single storm that causes flash floods and we often end up having damage done in the process of receiving the needed moisture.

Look no further than this report by CBS News on some of the flooding that happened today in Las Vegas, just a short two hours Southwest from me. In fact, Investigative Reporter Vanessa Murphy from CBS Channel 8 shared the following tweet showing just one of many washes in Vegas that are normally dry.

Kind of makes you realize how important it is to be safe out there in the rain. But another area we need to be careful with is information and knowledge. The excellent #ISTE2016 just wrapped up today and it seemed to be a great success! While I was #NotAtISTE2016 this year, it seemed that my social networks were flooded with wonderful information about how to better myself and hopefully create a better learning environment for my students.

Even though the information was good and helpful, it was still a deluge of knowledge that will definitely leave me gasping for air for next little bit. And just like after a physical flood things have to dry out a little, we need to be sure and allow ourselves to "dry out" a little from all the knowledge collected. Now's the time to sit back and reflect on the good, bad, and ugly of the week and see what exactly is worthwhile and what was more hype and excitement. Let's all take a couple of days and let the new knowledge percolate a little so we can better utilize it because just like the excess rain can't all be absorbed into the dry ground, we can't possibly absorb all of the new information. By taking the time to see what fits best for us we will better be able to maximize our learning.

So take some time the next couple of days and allows yourself to reflect and maybe even disconnect a little to see what exactly is the best use of the new tools acquired at #ISTE2016.

29 June 2016

iOS Keyboard Shortcuts - #100DayProject - Day 090

Image Source: Pixabay.com
I've been asked how I am able to type phrases and email addresses so quickly on my iOS devices so I thought I'd share how here. It's not anything I created or invented, but it's a little tip on iOS that many don't seem to know about. It involves the shortcut menu in the Keyboard section of the Settings, so allow me to walk you through step-by-step with some images and all.

Now keep in mind, these directions are for an iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad) so they won't be the same on an Android device. Maybe I'll get some screenshots and do another tutorial on the Android side, but this one is for my Apple users.

Step 1: Settings

To start, you need to go to your Settings app. Your icon may be in a different location, so find the app with the cogwheel. 

Step 2: General Menu

Next, you want to go to your General Menu. It should be near the top in the 3rd section of Settings items. 

Step 3: Keyboard Menu

Now you want to scroll down a little bit looking for the Keyboard Menu. This menu has all sorts of great options that you may want to play with, but we only need one of them for this tutorial. 

Step 4: Text Replacement

You will need to select the Text Replacement menu for the next step. This is an awesome section of the Settings that many don't know exists. 

Step 5: Add New Text Replacement

This is the screen that will show all of your different Text Replacement shortcuts you've created. You won't have very many in your list when you first start, but may end up having lots after you see how easy it is to use these. 

Step 6: Create the Shortcut Phrase

This is probably the most confusing screen of the whole process, one that I have to remind myself each time what part is what, so don't feel bad if you have to re-refer to this image or open a completed Shortcut to remember. Next to Phrase (labeled #1) is where you write out the entire phrase you want to shorten, I used #PassTheScopeEDU here as an example. On the Shortcut (labeled #2) is what you put to have the shortcut text replacement happen. Notice I put "ptsee" to shorten it down. I just now listed it in quotation marks because if I didn't do that it would shorten to #PassTheScopeEDU right away since I am also running an app on my Mac called TextExpander by Smile that is amazing. If you really like this feature on iOS then you may want to consider purchasing TextExpander on your Mac. 

I mentioned above that you could use this same trick to make typing your email addresses easier, so here's a quick tip I use for mine. 

Notice, I used the "@@" as my shortcut to produce my full email address. This makes typing an email address really fast and easy. But what if you have more than one email address, then what? I feel your pain and am here to tell you it's totally possible to have the mess of email addresses cleared. Feast your eyes on the following image.

Just add another @ to the end so you have "@@@" for your 2nd and "@@@@" for your 3rd and so on and so on. If you notice above, I have five different accounts all working with this nice tip and it's great! I highly suggest you try it out. 

I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you tried it and just how much it changed your workflow on iOS devices. I know that this has made participating in Twitter chats easier on my iOS devices. While I still prefer to use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite on a desktop machine, it is nice to have the hashtags work with shortened strokes. The other place I really love this tip is when at conferences. Makes adding in the #ISTE2016 so much faster and less chance of me typing it in wrong. 

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