Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hour of Code is Coming

December 8th through the 15th is designated as Computer Science Education Week. is spirting an initiative to challenge 10 million students to give computer programming a try. It is called The Hour of Code So many resources are available at:

  • hour of code -
  • Code -
I am preparing a kickoff party for Monday to help teachers begin to think about ways to celebrate The Hour of Code in their individual classrooms. This should be so much fun. I will have photos of our event soon. But I wanted to share something that I created. I used the only software found at to create business cards with commands on them. A class could use these to "program" each other or their teacher. Shuffle the cards. Choose one. Follow the command. You have created a program. It might be fun to create attribute cards too. Like numbers. How many steps forward or how many steps backward? But for now, this is what I created. Thought I might share. FYI, the robot clipart is available inside the software. Thrilled with that. I decided to go with a Robot theme for our celebration. Our students will have an opportunity to try several online and offline resources. I can't wait to see their comments.

I'd love to know what you think of the file. Will it be useful to you?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

STEAM Café Started

This year similarly to other schools our building needs are larger than our building space. So the mobile lab that I built two years ago was to become a classroom. Thankfully administration supported the idea of my using some space that was once part storage and part faculty lounge. The space was more a storage area than a faculty lounge. But we did have a microwave, refrigerator and a bathroom. Over the summer I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Nashville, TN with the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute. We discussed and explored many educational and edtech themes together. Thanks to Kristy Vincent we had a maker faire evening. Recently I had done some reading about STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics) instruction in the classroom and elementary school. With all these ideas swimming in my head and thought of where will I work with staff? And how will I encourage my colleagues to bring some creativity back and yet still make strides towards the common core? I passed a coffee house in Virginia called "Steamy's Cafe" twice. Each time their attractive sign out front caught my eye. While exploring a teacher store on our road trip (What else do teachers do on summer vacation roadtrips?) it finally clicked. I emailed my principal with my idea. What if I borrowed the "teachers' lounge"? I could redesign it to have multi-use spaces. We could of course setup an area with laptops for professional development. We could setup an area to make the lending library useful again. We could setup an area for teachers to come have their break and enjoy a lunch together. I'd like to incorporate the STEAM idea. Maybe make it the STEAM Cafe? And the idea was born.

So when I returned from my road trip I got to work. I reached out to members of my PLN and DEN-ln. Thank you guys! I asked if you had the opportunity to design such a space what materials would you put out. There is a joke that goes around Facebook - Teachers the only profession that steals from home and brings it to work instead of the reverse. I looked around my boxes (created when I packed up the Mobile Lab). I looked around our apartment. I visited The Christmas Tree Shop, The $1 Zone, Walmart, Target, and online stores. Supplies were gathered. Areas were designed for the various intertwined disciplines of STEAM. Coffee pots were invested in and more.

The space developed and unfolded. There was no official launch. Teachers just slowly discovered it. Some are so enamored they declare, "Don't tell people. Let this be our secret". Others are joyful and share the news with others, "Have you seen the STEAM Cafe? I'll bring in some coffee. Should we bring in some milk? Oh I have left over Halloween candy can I bring it to share?" I admit I love hearing the conversations.

So thank you to everyone and their enthusiasm. Thank you to administration for letting me have a vision and run with it to fruition. Below are a few photos from the transformation. I unfortunately don't have many before photos. But believe me it was dusty and stacked with boxes of useless items. Things were condensed and reorganized, cleaned and rearranged.

Here are a two before photos:

And now for the fun part - a few after photos:

Coffee Area

Science Area

Science Area:
Realia, Discovery DVDs, magnifying glasses, pinwheels, etc.

Science Area

Technology Area:
Laptops, SMARTBoard, desktops, Technology Scrabble

Technology Scrabble - ty DEN friends

Computer Resources

Engineering Area:
Kinex, Legos, cardboard, Popsicle sticks, battery lights, vinegar and pennies (chemical engineering)

Art Area:
Paint, stickers, glue, stencils, construction paper

Math Area:
Dice, unit blocks, geoboards (found during cleanup), books, play money

Sorry this post took so long to get written. I was busy designing and creating. I was busy teaching. Now that I've had a day off, I look forward to returning to my new space. Both this space and I will be growing and developing throughout the year. I hope to have more to share as we move forward together. If you have any ideas for additions/suggestions please share. I'm always open to ideas.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Today's #RememberDEN or #DENsigh post is for Porter Palmer. I love the way you see all of us. I wish there was a mirror that let us see what you see. From the first moment we each have the privilege of connecting face to face with you, you know right away who we are. You bring us into your heart. The love with which you greet us every time after be it virtual or physical is heartwarming. Today I noticed this pink mirror that said, "Princess" around the frame. Of course the nickname brought you to mind. But it also made me think of how you see each of us with such love. For that I am grateful. Thank you for loving us all as each of us are.

#RememberDEN, #DENsigh for Porter Palmer.
They need to make one trimmed in rose gold so that I could then purchase it and send it your way. This is not the quality that befits our DENprincess.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Today was an actual day of rest. I can honestly say that I did nothing. Well except check Facebook and Twitter. I did no research for work. I went no where. Bill controlled the TV. I slept late and woke up only to play on Facebook and participate in #napchat. Can I just say it was wonderful? I need to do that more often.  But as I went no where I have not taken any photos for today's challenge. But as I looked at my phone I noticed this one. It was taken on our road trip in WV.
#RememberDEN, #DENsigh for Conni Mulligan

Friday, August 1, 2014

Remember DEN and again

Sorry, I forgot to blog my own photo challenge yesterday. That isn't to say that I didn't think of DEN friends. I was at Google Headquarters in New York City. What an honor to have been permitted to visit with administration from my district! We were attending The Google Leadership Symposium, NYC. Of course I thought of DENnis Grice who recently became a Google Certified Teacher through Google Teacher Academy. But there was also this wonderful huge table with bins of Legos out. The Google Tour Guide explained that Googlers are allowed to experiment and explore with Legos to relieve their minds for a few minutes. Google believes this absent minded play may free up the mind to process other great ideas that are brewing in the brain. I love this idea. I will be implementing it next year at school. Look at that fabulous guitar that Andrew Phoenix created during the maker faire at #DENSI2014. Imagine what my staff could create while letting other thoughts simmer for awhile. I look forward to finding out.

So these photos are for DENnis Grice and Andrew Phoenix in lieu of yesterday's post:

#RememberDEN, #DENsigh for DENnis Grice

#RememberDEN, #DENsigh for Andrew Phoenix
Now for today's #RememberDEN, #DENsigh. I was looking for things to revamp/update our professional development space. I came across this monkey at a store that made me smile and think of all those beautiful customized sock monkeys that were created. So today's smile was brought to me by Zulma Whiteford. Every year I am impressed with what one small group of people can do. Lunches packed, monkeys made, books collected. Each year the Leadership Council service project gets better and better. Thank you Zulma for spearheading it all. Know that your efforts are appreciated and many are affected. Both those that receive the offerings and those that participate.
#RememberDEN, #DENsigh for Zulma Whiteford

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Trying to remember to stick with the blog challenge. Probably a good idea since this was my idea. Lol.
So as I'm gathering things from my suitcases, I come a crossed this:

Haha I totally forgot that I had a Starbuck's card with me. 
But of course seeing this reminds me of Tim Childers.

Have you taken up the challenge of sharing a photo a day that reminds you of a #DENSI2014 friend?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Love it! Last evening LeaAnne Daughrity suggested that maybe we should use the hashtag #DENsigh for this blog/photo challenge. I think that's perfect memories of friends from DENSI as a DENsigh. Thanks LeaAnne.

So here is today's photo post. While we were on our road trip. We stopped off in Gatlinburg, TN. One of the many fun attractions they have is a Hollywood Star Car Museum. Of course finding the Shelby from Gone in 60s Seconds made me think of our adorable WDEN weather girl. Shelby Bailey, this photo is for you:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Remember DEN

I'll have a blog post soon about my adventures at #DENSI2014, Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute 2014. It was such an amazing time of learning and laughing. I need some time to digest all that I learned and formulate my notes into something that resembles English. Then I'll be glad to post and share. But soon after DENSI wrapped, I found myself taking pictures of things that made me think of DENSI friends. So I posted a challenge on Facebook:

Love that you can always count on the DEN. I couldn't find my original post to include it here. Thankfully Nicole Pennea Richardson was able to locate it for me. So here is my original Facebook posting: "I have a challenge for my ‪#‎DENSI2014‬ friends if anyone is interested. I try not to post when I am out of town (Internet Security) so this project in my head will begin in a few days when we return to NY. But as I visit through TN I find myself snapping pictures that make me think of DENSI friends. I found a fact about bees at the Guinness World Record exhibit (thought of Cheryl), found a silver Shelby at the Hollywood Star Cars exhibit (thought of Shelby), took a picture at dinner of a disco ball (thought of Kristy).Susan Gauthier just posted that she can't eat s'mores without thinking of me.... So here my idea. A small challenge I propose. Let's print out the attendee list from (thanks so much for LeaAnne and Dave building that wonderful site) and each day snap a picture that in some way makes us think of a DEN friend. For those that are just getting started blogging you might find it useful for something to spark the next 150 days of blogging. Just an idea. But who wants to accept the challenge?"

I was away enjoying a roadtrip back from TN with my husband. Wifi was wonky along the way. But now that I have returned, it is time to take up my own challenge. So here are a few post #DENSI reflections for REMEMBER DEN.

This was the first photo that I took that made me think of a DEN friend. Can you guess which friend I was thinking of?
Yep, I was thinking of Kristy Vincent - of course. She had the most amazingly creative costume for the Music Themed Costume Party at DENSI2014.

The next photo was taken for Cheryl Lykowski:
During the #DENSI2014 DENovator faire she created solo bee condos. I thought that she just might appreciate this interesting fact that I learned while at the Guinness Book of World Records.

This photo was taken in rememberance of all my DENSI friends that will be looking forward to #SharkWeek:

While in Virginia, I kept finding signs about Frederick's County. Of course this made me think of my wonderful roomie for this year - Sheila Fredericks:

While shopping in Pennsylvania, I found a Bacon Candle. Yes, Yankee Candle apparently has a candle called, "MMM, BACON". Although this brings many DEN friends to mind. My first reaction was I need a photo of that for Steve Dembo:

Yes, my husband has warped my conscious memory. I usually see phone boxes and think, "Why isn't it a blue police box? I want a Tardis." But now my first thought was "Wow, I need this for my DEN friends from the United Kingdom." It was such an honor to meet you and connect with you. I look forward to continuing our dialogue we began about education philosophy differences. This photo goes out to our new UK DENfriends:

I hope to keep finding images that in my eye bring thoughts of DEN friends to mind. I will be trying to share REMEMBER DEN moments along the way.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

ISTE2014... so it begins

What begins? #ISTE2014 began for me last night. It was our last day of school for this year. It should be time to put our feet up and relax. Nope... As a connected educator and a perpetual learner it was time to head off for the wonderful ISTE conference. After the close of school, I ran home. Rechecked to make sure I packed everything I might need. Headed to the airport. Met up with colleagues I am lucky enough to call friends. And away to ISTE we go...

I admit this educator who normally runs on just a few hours sleep, slept quite well for the night. Woke up and headed to the conference center to check in. 

What a great feeling to connect with friends I haven't seen in what feels like forever (even if maybe it was just since July).  We scoped out the lay of the land. Participated in some interesting discussions. Networked with friends. Twitter, Facebook, The ISTE Networking Game... I'm glad the servers could handle us all (for the most part). I had the pleasure of running into so many of my beloved Discovery Education friends. I lost count! What an amazing feeling.

Next it was on to a party hosted by Class Dojo. How nice to make new friends! 

Then we returned to put our feet up on the balcony. Watch a beautiful sunset. And relax for a little bit.

Of course I had to round out the night on social media and blogging. But it was nice to spend some time today connecting in the real world. I think perhaps we all need to remember to put down our devices for a moment and enjoy life as it happens. 
Otherwise, you might miss the view like this...
Savor the moments when we take time to reflect and review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

T-minus... (cross post)

Forgive me - I felt this should appear on my personal education blog as well as my Discovery Education Blog,
The ISTE 2014 conference is about to be underway. The Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute (DENSI) is nearly underway. What a busy exhilarating time for teachers. In younger years I use to so look forward to Summer Vacation. The last day of school for a year meant freedom. It meant relaxation. It meant beach time. It meant reading time. Now, in my recent years, I look upon the last days of school differently. They are now a blur of preparation to go begin MY learning processing. For the last 9 months I have focused on the learning of our students and my fellow teachers and staff. Of course I kept learning in small bits during this time. For example, I “attend” #DENchat, Thursday night Twitter Chats to continue learning from my PLN. But the summer is time to focus on what I am interested in learning. Our school wraps things up for students on Friday. Yes, Friday… please give me patience to wait that long. But then I board the plane and I head off for adventures. Not rest and relaxation at the beach. Oh, no, not me. I head off for more hustle and bustle and chaos and overwhelming technology learning options. Yes I attend ISTE2014. I would not have it any other way. There is so much available: informal moments in between sessions, formal sessions, poster sessions, live face-to-face events, workshops, blogging areas, playgrounds, vendor booths, spotlight showcases and more.
If you are attending also, here are a few tips I have learned after attending a few ISTE conferences:
  • *Bring business cards – You will meet many many folks that you may want to followup with. (Consider creating a QR Code – the digital version of a business card)

  • *Create personal labels – There will be many many vendors requesting your information. How many times can you write your name, address, and email address over and over again. Quite a few will let you afix your preprinted label to their lists and/or cards.

  • *Wear appropriate shoes – I love heels. They look amazing. But for long days at the ISTE conference center – opt for comfort. You will be glad you did.

  • *Water bottles can be a fashion statement. Does yours have bling? Pretty colors? Your school logo? Your favorite vendor’s logo? Does yours clip onto your bag? And the best part they serve a purpose. It is important to stay hydrated. Remember this year is being hosted by lovely Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not called “Hot-lanta” for nothing.

  • *Google Calendar – Please do not over book yourself. Leave yourself some time to digest and absorb what you have been exposed to during the conference. You can plan out your events to make sure the items you truly want to attend do not overlap. Also save (and saver) some time for blogging, twitter chatting, sharing, and reflecting.
Speaking of taking a breather – I saved myself a few days and then after #ISTE2014 wraps, I head to Tennessee for DENSI2014. As if ISTE wasn’t a fabulous few days of high-impact learning – bring on #DENSI2014! A week long of the best, most indepth learning I experience as a teacher all year. I look forward to this even with such glee. The conversations leading up to this event are so much fun. They help long time DEN leadership council members to reconnect. And I think it helps those that have never attended a DENSI to pick up some of our enthusiasm. New members are welcomed with open arms. The world of DENSI is a world of acceptance and love. It’s like an automatic golden ticket to the greatest family of educators around. I can’t wait to meet all our new friends and reconnect with longtime DEN friends. Would time just get here already?!!
This year I will be assisting with leading one of the DENSI2014 teams. I look forward to us all getting to know each other better. I feel like I’ll be a Teacher Summer Camp counselor this year. I hope my team will have an amazing time together.
The  ISTE and DENSI count down is on. The count down is nearing it’s final stages. Synchronize watches, and twitter feeds, and edmodo groups, and all that other great technology stuff. So excited to see what we will learn this year…

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I know that I am older now. The music I enjoyed is quickly (sadly) becoming elevator music. This is a detail that I despise. But none-the-less it is happening. So I know that I am slowly entering that decent into the mindset of "My Generation..." However, here is my tale from this weekend.

I enjoy sitting out in the backyard of our apartment, relaxing and reading. It is something that last year between time management, bad weather, illness (I got hit with a bunch of summer colds), lethargy, and bugs I just did not get to do too enough of during my months "off". I had all of these plans of creating a backyard oasis. None of the details were implemented. So this year, I decided to start sooner (we teach until June 27 so Summer break is still quite a ways off for me). I purchased a large planter container at my local dollar store. I have these ideas to build a fairy garden in the container for some interest in the backyard. I tried our dollar store, Target, Kmart, CVS, Riteaid, and more. Somehow there is a considerable lack of dollhouse furniture. What? Isn't this a standard for young children? Apparently not anymore. As I walked the aisles of Target today, this blog post circulated and formulated in my head.

I know so many parents these days feel the need to raise their own little genius. But this desire to be Einstein comes at what cost? And even Einstein had his moments of play. Wasn't he quoted as having said, "Play is the highest form of research." Dollhouses taught mechanics - this opens this way, this pulls there. Dollhouses taught math and spacial relationships - will my furniture fit? If I create a rug how long and wide should it be? If I put the couch here where will the table fit. Dollhouses taught color and aesthetics - Will these colors clash? Will that be seen? Oh this might match!

Instead, what is readily available? Toy versions of electronics (Believe me I am pro these devices but as in all things - with moderation). Legos now have blinking lights. Regular and pastel Legos aren't engaging enough anymore? They have to light up?!

Dolls dressed more like tarts and ladies of the night then Strawberry Shortcake and Lemon Meringue Pie (for those that don't know these were dolls when I was young). Which don't even get me started on that franchise. Strawberry Shortcake was a doll that I could relate to with her plump cheeks and little dresses. Now she's in pants and with a much thinner physique. Urgh! (But that is another post for another day!)

Back to my original theme. Must we overstimulate children? Rows of flashcards. Rows of flashing toys. Rows of dolls with too much makeup. Rows of vampire dolls.  Can we please return to the days where children (boys or girls) were allowed to use their imagination to explore and play? My friend recently relayed a tale about her children and a playdate. She sent them out to play in the backyard. They didn't know what to do with themselves. They looked at her like they were being punished. They were being kept from their computers, video games, e-book readers, etc. They waited by the backdoor until they were permitted to return to the land of plugged in devices. Go play!!!!

My suggestion? Please invest in jump ropes, jax, balls, chalk and teach your children to think outside the box. This is just as valuable a skill as filling in the right bubble to answer the Common Core questions. But when students are at home please oh please just let them be kids. And I will try to find ways to help students play while covering the concepts required by the Common Core to share with my teachers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poem in Your Pocket Day

One of the fabulous teachers at our school brought an idea for celebrating Poetry Month to our administration. Thankfully the school principal agreed. Through the month of April students have been exploring poems. What a great way to look at language. Tomorrow, April 24th is Poem in Your Pocket Day. I hear the idea is to stop people and see if they have a poem in their pocket. If they do encourage them to share what they have. Being an Instructional Technology Facilitator, I figured I would Google for a computer poem. There are many. There weren't any that won me over. Certainly not something I am ready to carry in my pocket all day. But if a student stopped me and asked if I had a poem what would I say. I'd hate to see their face fall. That isn't what I want. No, not at all. So what was I to do...
Draft something myself...

"My Digital Day" by Mrs. Shields

My day begins each morning with an alarm clock to stop.
Then reach for my phone on the kitchen counter-top.
If there is time, the blue coffee light begins to blink.
Soon too my brain begins to think.
Out the door I dash, still a bit blurry.
Car alarm I push in a hurry.

Gratitude for traffic lights that keep me in one piece.
I start my day at work very early to enjoy a little peace.

Scan my security door clicker.
Convenient to let me in quicker.
Boot up my computer.
There's email to read.
“Please, no major problems today,” I plead.

Help teachers find new resources on the net.
Oh, here is one your students will love - I bet!
Research, explore, through so much to scroll.
Use the right words and I'm on quite a roll.

Chosen words of the right kind
to just right websites I will find.
Pick a few gems to share
with teachers that care.
It's a joy showing them what I have found.
From teacher to teacher it will pass around.
Time to show students so we have a common ground.

Hopefully I have found the pick of the crop.
Oh the magic that is found within my laptop!

I'd still love to find a better poem about technology for students. Maybe something about Google or the Internet. I put out a call to my personal learning network on Twitter. If you know of one, I'd love to see what you have to share. Hope you have a very happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Timely Lesson

Still not sure if this was a timely lesson or a lesson in timing. For the last few weeks, students in 5th grade have been reading a passage from about a planned solar-powered solo flight. The passage was brief but perfect for our short class periods. This allowed time to read and time to reflect in Google Docs. I used this to assist students with gaining the skills they need to create Google Presentations.
My lesson today was a little different with a particular fifth grade class. Class time quickly dwindled. So I modified what we have been doing in the other classes (working with text clues) for this class. Today, I had them figure out which person the article is really about (there are three names listed). Many accurately chose Bertrand Piccard. Those that didn't were shown how easy it is to correct our work in Google presentations. Then I asked the students to create a new slide where they would very briefly express their prediction. Would he and his team be successful? Would they find failure? While waiting for their class to arrive I had noticed the date mentioned in the article. Here is the line that caught my eye, "Piccard wants to make the first test flight by the end of 2007. He hopes to fly around the world in 2010." (  I must have had my coffee today because I realized this is 2014. I hadn't heard anything about a plane crossing the globe that was solar-powered. But that did not mean that it hadn't happened.

So I asked the students to make their predictions. I promised to followup with research with them. Together we would find out if he and his team were successful or not. This evening for fun (yes I'm that kind of educator - fun involves Googling to benefit my students) I took to the Internet to see if there were any recent mentions of this flight. Of course I filtered using the Google Tool of search by time. I am still floored by what I found! April 15th CNN posted an article stating that Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg recently unveiled their prototype of the solar-powered airplane. It seems in 2010 they were successful in flying non-stop for 26 hours. Wow! Now they are poised to try for 72 hours.

The nerd in me is cheering. The environmentalist in me is squealing with glee. The educator in me is so excited to share my new knowledge with our students. Could this have been any more perfect - recent news update, Earth Day activity, Google Docs integration lesson? A very powerful moment in time for our students and myself.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Returning from Spring Break and Easter

Tomorrow we return to school after a week's Spring Break. Prior to the Spring Recess I had posted a blog spot holder to remind me of the ideas circulating in my head. Now that I have rested (a little - lots of family commitments during a break) I am ready to blog.

The idea floating loosely in my brain as we approached Spring Break was how we need to be willing to try new things. In Edtech we need some individualized, personalized review process of tools that spring up. One size does not fit all. One size SHOULD not fit all in education as well. The tool that is perfect for one student may be overly stimulating for another. One that is engaging for one child may be too banal for another. Finding the right fit for EACH student is essential. [Now please don't get me started on the one size fits all assessments. Are they really an adequate determinate if learning and growth have taken place? Oh let's solder that synapse closed for this afternoon.]

As educators in 2014 we are blessed if not overwhelmed. There is a multitude of tools available to help us accentuate our classrooms. Some are wonderful. Some are not so wonderful. As educators we need to view these tools with a discerning eye. Will this help my students? Will this assist Susy with this one skill? Would this better suit Tommy's need to _____?

Tools come and go. Should we be teaching students how to use tools? Or how to think and use a variety of tools to accomplish a task? Things that are free today may become "freemium" tomorrow. Or even high end "premium" and beyond our wallets. I am reminded of the phrase my mother use to remind me of in growing up: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket!" Sage advice. Count on nothing. Explore new tools. Compare. Enjoy while you can today with an eye on tomorrow's future.

But how lucky we are to sort through all these wonderful options. Evaluate. Examine. Trial. Dabble. Explore. Evaluate again (Let's not overlook the review and re-evaluation phase). Seeing what school district filters will permit and block. Seeing what is too fancy and not fancy enough. What sites and programs have annoying characters or background music? Seek out tools that are just right. There are just too many tools available in today's modern world. One educator cannot possibly open every egg that is hatched. But a great educator will open a few and see if they are twins (lead to another comparable tool), fertilized (ready to take on life in your classroom), broken or veiny (not ready for use in your particular class). But you won't know until you crack a few open. So pick a few from the basket and play.

And some will hopefully be a perfect fit. I know several teachers that are thrilled when I show them how their SMARTBoard can be interactive tools for learning. They are so much more than presentation screens. I read recently (sorry I don't remember where I wish I could quote them) that if only the teacher is touching the SMARTBoard you are using it wrong! Powerful but true. Let the kids create, drag, collaborate, unveil, cover, guess, estimate, predict, draw, explain, draft a diagram, chart, etc. All those wonderful real world skills that they will need in the field (whatever field they choose).

Remember to project things of value. Look for programs and websites that enhance not just fill time. Seek tools that accentuate what you are doing not create new curriculum. Technology should be a tool to enhance student learning and performance. Not just one more subject area to cover. What tools will you personally select to sit in your egg carton of digital tools? Would you prefer the Microsoft Word egg in your carton or the Google Documents egg in your carton? And how nice that it is really easy to swap eggs in and out of your carton as time goes on. If you just leave eggs untouched in a carton they will eventually go bad. We don't want classrooms that stink. We want classrooms full of color by the use of many rich resources that are available and appropriate for the children in our rooms.

Thank you for your patience while this professional development idea boiled over in my brain during Spring Break. Hope you find the analogy useful. What will you make with all the tools available? Will you create an omelette with spice and color? Or will you create scrambled eggs with no appeal? Start slow. Crack an egg open and scramble them... Maybe add some thyme (time)... and see where that leads you. Experiment further. Add some roasted peppers (marinated thoughts of others found on Twitter). Experiment again. Taste and see if it has made a difference.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Blog Post to Come

In discussions the last few days, a technology professional development idea is coming to mind. Today begins the first day of our Spring Break. Today was spent attending #lhrictechexpo. The perfect way to spend a Friday before a vacation. But for once I am not going to work. I am not going to expand on the idea that is swirling in my head.  I am not going to organize and share my notes from today's conference. I am however, placing this image here to remind me to come back and blog:

But for this evening, I am going to go enjoy the fact that our school calendar includes a week off. I'm sure this desire for downtime won't last long. So feel free to check back in a few days. Excuse me while I go grab my nook, a pillow, a blankie, and a comfy spot on the couch.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Tweets

A member of my DEN-ln, Nancy Sharoff just shared a resource - Twitter is a wonderful tool for professional development. When I first joined Twitter, I was following several friends that I had met through Discovery Education, (@DiscoveryEd). I mostly watched. I mostly read. Back then it was called lurking. But slowly I began to communicate. There are a few moments in time stand out in my mind. I had posted about being sick. Someone asked me at a conference if I was now feeling better. Wait, how did she know I was under the weather?! Oh they actually read MY twitter status. Wow what a feeling! Then at a different conference I had someone come up and introduce themselves to me. They recognized me from my Twitter account. What a laugh that was for me. I seem to focus on what I learn, read, enjoy from others on Twitter and don't really consider the butterfly effect of my own words. It always surprises me when someone retweets something that I "said".

So Nancy posted this cute tool that goes back in time and finds your very first tweet that you sent out into cyberspace. Can't believe my first tweet was in 2007.  Where has the time gone!? Not exactly pearls of wisdom dripping from my keys, "I'm creating my own twitter account after reading about it on the DEN blog." Lmfao. My DEN loyalty and pride ever shinning through my earliest communications.

Are you ready to step into the virtual Tardis, leap through time to your first Twitter post?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Voice in My Head Sings, "It's Google Chrome"

So my friend posted a video of a bunch of guys dancing a line dance to Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. Recently I had some popup ads I had to get eradicate from my computer. Somehow as I watched this my brain started singing a different set of lyrics. I had to run to my word processor and put this town. I hope this brings a techie smile. Basically an ode to Google Chrome.
Please picture the tune that is everyone on the airwaves these days while reading the following:

Ok now window's closed, tried to appropriate you
But there is Chrome, baby, it's another browser.
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don't need no popups
Hey, hey, hey
That browser's not your maker
And that's why I'm gonna show'ya a new tool
I know you want it
I know you hate it
I know you need it
It's Google Chrome
Can't keep it to just me
Why stick with just the classic
Talk about browsing faster
I hate these IE error lines
I know you want better
I know you deserve better
I know you need better
Cause it's a good tool
away Internet Explorer
Don't make me get nasty
Go download, you will thank me

I know I marvel at how my brain is wired too. But hope it made my techie friends smile.

Our Digital/Connected World

The other evening the weather report called for 3 - 6 inches of snow. Yes, I'm in NY. The weather report further called for icy rain and freezing conditions. As I relaxed with Facebook after a long day it was nice to see reports start coming in that we would have a Snow Day. How did this word reach me? News traveled quickly via our district Facebook page, our district Twitter account. At the Board of Education meeting the Interim Superintendent made the announcement. Those present continued to spread the word through their mobile devices. This was all before the official phone call announcement from the school district took place. I marveled at how quickly news spread. THIS is the power of social media. Rapid sharing of information to the masses. I think my mind focused on this, because I was disappointed that my celebration of Digital Learning Day ( would need to be postponed.

And yet, the inner small child celebrated the news that we would have a snow day! Yes, please. I could so use a rest. But again I'm me. Did I rest today? Only now (while blogging mind you) at 4:49 am I actually relaxing on the couch. Since today was Digital Learning Day I had to connect with my PLN and attend a few virtual events.

As people voiced their concerns about prepping for power outages and expressed gratitude that their power came back, I was grateful for my access. I realized just how connected I am.  I think I swallowed a "horse-tablet sized blue pill" eons ago.

I woke up and looked at my digital clock.
I made some Cream of Farina in the microwave.
I checked my smartphone.
I turned on my Nook.
I booted up my computer. (All in the first 10 minutes or so of being awake.)
I took a photo of the snow outside.
I logged in.
I loaded my TweetDeck.
I loaded my Facebook.
I checked in on my PLN.
I tuned in for the Library of Congress Digital Learning Day stream.
I tuned in for a bit of the Discovery Educator Network Google Hangout.
I took part in the discussion at the ChatSpace on the Library of Congress Digital Learning Day stream.
I decided I needed to encapsulate this Digital/Connected Life I lead.
Today I was "off" but I would certainly say that I was "on". Wouldn't you?

Did you spend Digital Learning Day using digital devices? Were you connected?

Monday, January 13, 2014


It dawned upon me today. Success is try squared. If you don't try and try you will never succeed. Anything worth succeeding in is worth putting the effort into. I know some days there just aren't enough hours in the day. And other days are smooth sailing. But I hope you try and try and try again until you reach your goals.

Have you tried something new today? If we aren't constantly learning and trying we will never be succeeding. This afternoon, I was working on something that just wouldn't go my way. But I stuck with it and rather proud I completed my task in the end. And a teacher thanked me for the previous resources I had compiled and asked for a copy even though what I was working on was for another grade level. I admit, that felt quite good.

What have you tried lately? I'm trying to share more valuable content on Twitter and this blog. I'd love to hear what you are trying. And even better if after trying and trying you succeed. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Divergent Paths to a Destination

Both paths will reach the same destination
Recently, I attended a conference where a presenter suggested offering students various entry points for engagement to a lesson. Some students will not check in to a lesson unless you find that key that unlocks their interest. While listening to this presenter an image of a road map came to mind. Two students will approach the same destination but one may take a direct path while another takes a more meandering path. Is either right? Or are both equally valid for a child's progress. I am grateful to this presenter for reminding me to help students find ways to check into a lesson. Technology offers many opportunities for engagement. The presenter's sample of teaching vocabulary for bicycle and having a building behind the digital image with another word in a child's native tongue may spark interest. This concept fascinates me. I hope in coming days to work with our teacher's to provide some such varying stop signs along the road to help students make connections to the lesson and/or assignment. Do you provide opportunities for students to engage on their own playing field along the way to your destination of knowledge acquisition?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


We had a meeting today discussing how software and technology can accentuate pedagogy. I had a brainstorm. I had a thought for a concept that I wanted to remember to blog this evening. I wrote it in my ipad. But it is too cold today. I don't want to go get my ipad and look up what I wanted to blog. My apologies for being a slacker. But if you care enough to visit, I hope to have another blog post up soon. Now off to curl up under a blankie and try to stay warm. Have a great night!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sharing More Sweetness

While researching resources and activities to share for next month's Digital Learning Day, I came across this: These are lesson plans provided by The Hershey Story.  There are lessons for grades K-3, 3-6, 6-8, 9-10, 9-12. Sounds like a little something for everyone. What fun! And I'm sure some could be adjusted. Hershey and Advertising maybe labeled 11-12. But couldn't this same topic be adjusted to work with younger students.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

How Sweet It Is!

As part of the Self-Initiated Blog Challenge, started by Kelly Hines, we were challenged to share a favorite book for reading or teaching. I don't really have a favorite. There are several that I love. But I wanted to share a new tool that I found. Are you aware of the ingeniousness behind these books by Jerry Pallotta and Rob Bolster? They have found a way to make math instruction both engaging and tangible. I so wish I had this in school. For Digital Learning Day on February 5, 2014, I will be celebrating with my teachers. I have chosen a Chocolate theme - “Digital Learning – How Sweet It Is!” In my research looking for ideas both decorative and instructional, I came across this book. The title is The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book. What a great idea! I always struggled with understanding math concepts in school. But this creates such a wonderful visual to work with for teachers and students alike. There is also an additional and a subtraction book. I am so happy that I discovered these in advance. Come pay day, these are definitely on my list. My goal this year is to share more "valuable content". I think this definitely falls under that category. Hope you think so as well.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Goal: "Share more valuable content"

My Goal this year: “Share more valuable content.”

Daily, I live digitally. Wake up. Turn on either the computer or the cell phone (or both) and see what's going on with friends, family, and members of my PLN. I absorb so much from so many. Having all of this new knowledge is wonderful. Having someone else gain something positive from my having this new knowledge – oh wouldn't that be more powerful!?

Last night and this morning it snowed. The view out my window is beautiful since I don't have to go shovel it. So, today I can enjoy it. Now had this been Monday when I return to work... Oh I'd have told the snow where they can shovel it! But does anyone care about all that? I am realizing how much more value there would be in sharing quality, valuable resources with my PLN. This will be my goal this year. I know every day I will not accomplish this. I am so impressed with my friends that curate and collaborate daily. But I do plan to attempt to periodically “Share more valuable content.”

I know “Share more valuable content” is rather subjective. What I find valuable others might not. But as they say, “You can't please everyone all of the time.” So I won't try. I will however share that recipe (, that party/celebration idea (, that educational resources ( or educational insight/reflection/professional development ( Hope you will care enough to take a look and that you will deem the content shared valuable.

update: Decided to create a visualization as part of the Blog Challenge (
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