Saturday, October 18, 2014

Student Talk: Getting Ready for the Online SBAC

I'll be the first to tell you that elementary teachers in my district are feeling a bit stressed out about taking the Smarter Balanced assessment online! While we have not had a standard keyboarding curriculum in the past, we also have a different range of technology available at each elementary school. Some schools have only one computer lab in the library while others have Chromebooks in nearly every classroom and computer labs, as well! Not to mention, this is our first year fully teaching the Common Core standards. We are definitely feeling the pressure and insecurity that surrounds this type of transition and I can't imagine we are the only ones out there!

To help quell fears surrounding the use of an online assessment, as well as to begin identifying the areas of greatest need in relation to basic technology skills, I organized several SBAC trial runs.  Here is some of the feedback we received from students and teachers in a 3rd and 5th grade classroom as it regards to technology literacy. Please note, we did not ask students to focus on the content of the test during the trials.

If you'd like to get a snapshot of your students ability to navigate and interact with the Smarter Balanced assessments, set aside some time and allow students to explore the available practice tests. The short training tests that are available are only 6 questions long and utilize all of the question varieties present on the full practice/official tests. 

Here are some helpful tips from our first trials:
  • Empower students and remove pressure by explaining that is their job to "give the test a test!"
  • Give minimal instructions about the testing interface to get an accurate snapshot of what students know and are able to figure out on their own, then go back and review other features as necessary
  • Show them the pause feature and take them for a short break outside
  • Provide students with index cards to share their thoughts and feelings about the online testing environment and involve them in a discussion afterwards
  • Have an older classroom (that has already done a trial) send tech buddies to younger classrooms to provide extra help/guidance during their trial
  • Don't combine this trial with one that is focused on the content of the test, keep them separate (students should be allowed to write any sentences in the extended response spaces, for example)
I also used ThingLink to create an Interactive Tour of Smarter Balanced Testing Environment the testing environment for teachers to use as an introduction or for students to explore independently.

Remember, technology is meant to be used in the classroom to extend, engage, or enrich learning experiences to promote student growth, not hinder it! While the transition to taking an online assessment may seem oppositional to this guiding principal it is not something we are unable to overcome with careful preparation and implementation. So, start early in your preparations, utilize all of your resources (tech coaches, support staff, etc.), and involve your students in developing a plan for becoming comfortable with technology skills by the testing window! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Teacher Talk: Whidbey Island Google in Education Summit by AppsEvents

I am thrilled to announce that I have been confirmed to present at the Whidbey Island Google in Education Summit by AppsEvents being held at Coupeville Middle/High School! I received my confirmation e-mail today, along with my badge as a summit speaker.

I invite anyone who is able to join me at the first Google for Education Whidbey Island Summit to be held at Coupeville High School on March 28 - 29, 2015.  Regardless of whether you can join us, a link to my presentations and the schedule is here

This high intensity two day event focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, practicing administrators and solution providers.

If you are in the area or able to travel (Whidbey Island is gorgeous!!) you can register now to send teachers, administrators, tech directors/tech support staff, and anyone who is interested in finding out more about leveraging Google tools to support student learning.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Teacher Talk: Starting with iPads in Second Grade! (part 1)

While I have shared some of my personal experiences working with iPads in the classroom, I have finally had my first formal experience serving as a coach to another group of teachers who are new to the integration of iPads! Since I know these individuals are not the only ones just starting out with this technology, I thought I would share some of what we talked about, concerns that were raised, and what our next steps will be.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Talk, Talk, Talk - A New Way of Approaching Posts!

Hi Everyone,

As many of you know I began a new position this year as the Instructional Facilitator of Technology for my district. I've been busy working with K through 12th grade teachers, staff, and students. This has caused my technology exploration and discoveries to live between both the worlds of teachers and that of students. I've had a hard time relating this to my blog and as a result my postings have been sporadic and infrequent!

So, I am doing a bit of a re-organization and will be labeling my posts in a new way! This will allow me to share a broader range of topics, ideas, strategies, and opportunities while allowing you as the reader to differentiate easily between what would be most applicable to you!

Posts will be classified as one of the two (for now) topics below:

  • Teacher Talk: These posts will be oriented toward professional growth for teachers. They might address topics like a great tool for classroom management or scheduling, a tutorial on how to create a resource for students, or an approach that might be useful in tackling technology integration.

  • Student Talk: Posts that start with "Student Talk" will be designed for teachers to use similar to lesson plans or while lesson planning. They are directly related to delivering classroom instruction.
I look forward to being able to post more frequently with these new guidelines in place!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekly Tech Blitz Challenges!

Once a week. Thirty minutes. One tool. One goal. Collaborative discussion. Valuable resources. Direct classroom impact. 

These statements describe the Weekly Tech Blitz Challenges that I offer to the staff of Oak Harbor Public Schools as an optional professional development opportunity. They are an interactive way to learn about useful technology tools in the matter of 30 minutes in the comfort of your home! Since they have been so positively received at work, I thought you all would enjoy them, too!

I invite you to take a look at the Weekly Tech Blitz Website! There you will find an agenda of what will be covered in upcoming weeks, as well as all that we have already covered. 

Unfortunately, if you are not a member of our district you will be unable to participate in the Google Groups we are using to discuss and extend our knowledge and application of these tools. But, I invite you to discuss them at any time with me. I will also be sure to cross-post any challenges I find particularly relevant for early childhood educators.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Let's start the school year off right!

Welcome to the new school year! I know for some of you it’s well under way, while for those of us that started after Labor Day it’s only the first full week of school! I’ve been a busy bee getting the new technology training plan established and running for my district, as well as populating our brand new website with lots of great resources for teachers. Returning to the blog is a welcome change of pace and has me excited to share what I’ve learned this summer with you! 

In honor of the start of the school year and the return of the lesson plan, I thought I would highlight one of the weekly technology challenges I am offering for staff at school. It is all about using Google Calendar for lesson planning.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Yesterday was the second and final day of the GAFE Summit. I attended four more sessions which were focused around specific tools and strategies than those of the previous day which were a bit more big picture focused. I've used the same format from yesterday and captured my biggest take-away, actions inspired, and remaining questions from each session to provide you with some insight on Day Two. I even remembered to include links to the session descriptions and my notes from the sessions this time!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


It's officially "intermission" of the CA GAFE Summit 2014 and I thought I'd share a bit about my day with you. I decided the best way to summarize my experience today was to share the biggest take-away and remaining questions I had about each session. Also, in most cases I was inspired to plan for or take specific action (either in the future or immediately) and I thought that would be helpful to include. Without further ado...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Social Media for Young Learners?!

I know what thoughts are most likely running through your head right now...

  • These students are too young, they are still learning how to interact in person!
  • Social media could expose these students to a lot of unhealthy examples or predators!
  • What relevancy does social media have for students who can't type efficiently, let alone spell?
Am I right? Well, these were the thoughts rushing through my head when I discovered the power Twitter held for my own professional development and then had the crushing realization that this type of community was probably not a possibility for the young learners I teach! However, I am happy to say I have been proved wrong!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teachable Moments: The Power of a PLN

Well, it's a whopping 63 degrees here at my house with plans for it to get up to 74! Gotta keep hoping for that warm summer weather - although, with no air condition I should be careful what I wish for up here in the Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, the enjoyable weather has been perfect for some reading. I thought you all might like to dive into some good material as well!

Since I focused on how teachers can continue to grow and learn this summer using Twitter last week, I thought I would highlight some of the articles and neat finds from my first adventures in the world of Twitter. Below you will find 5 of my favorite resource finds that I discovered thanks to all the members of my PLN (professional learning network).

  • 11 Chrome Extensions Every Smart Teacher Loves to Use: If you're a Google fan like me, than your browser of choice is Google Chrome. These extensions add a whole new level of productivity to what I already consider to be an ideal browser. I am looking forward to seeing how they will continue to increase my ease of access and organization when the school year starts back up.
  • 6 Ideas for Teaching Digital Reputation: Alright, this might not be necessarily helpful for us early childhood educators within the classroom...but, I loved getting a look at how some of the social media and Web 2.0 tools that aren't a perfect fit for young learners are being harnessed to create amazing learning experiences for older students! I wish I could've participated in some of these assignments as a student.
  • EDpuzzle: This cool new tool will transform not only some of the professional development sessions I will be offering this summer, but will lead to some really neat and engaging multimedia activities in the classroom. Be sure to watch the demo video and set-up your own account so you are ready to go when the school year comes around. You might even consider getting some videos set up during the Summer break.
  • ISTE 2014 Session Notes: Now, this one is a doozy! It is a collection of all the notes that attendees of ISTE 2014 were willing to share publicly with those that did and did not attend. I find it rather powerful that so many people were willing to share their take-a-aways from the conference with others to provide a comprehensive overview of one of ed tech's largest gatherings. The notes are organized by category, so look for a topic that interests you and get reading!
  • International Dot Day Club: Well, this one is perfect for early learners and captures the themes of global collaboration and creativity - both which I have featured separately through teachable moments and free resources! This unique project sounds like a great way to get your school year off to the right start from so many different could take the form of a geometry lesson, social-emotional discussion, differentiation explanation, basic tech skills introduction (using Paint or FreeDraw on the computer), and so much more!
While these resources may not share a consistent classroom theme, they are all resources I discovered through my PLN via Twitter...and these are only 5 of the multitude of resources that were shared out! I will try and highlight some more thematic collections of resources in the future, but for now my main goal was to showcase the power of my professional learning network. Now, it's your turn to give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Teachable Moment: Twitter for Summer PD

Since it is summertime, I thought I'd take a slightly different approach to my typical Teachable Moment Monday and make it for the teacher (instead of for the students)! I personally use the summer to pursue some new professional development opportunities and catch up on hot topics I noted during the school year but didn't have an opportunity to try out. The power of Twitter has been one of these surprising hot topics that has transformed the way I approach my summer professional development.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Free Sunday: Global Education Networks

Well, summer has officially impacted the blog! I am bringing you an overview of several global education networks two days late courtesy of a week of nice weather and a captivating book that won my attention for the better part of the week. So, without further ado - let's take a look at how you can easily connect your students with classrooms around the world!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Interview Help? Global Perspectives on Tech Integration

I am doing research on technology integration in South Africa for a global perspectives graduate class. In order to better facilitate the number of responses I received (Thank You!!), I'm going to momentarily commandeer my blog to post my interview questions and create a conversation. However, I do think my regular readers will find the conversation rather intriguing!

To all those who are responding to my recent tweet, THANK YOU! I was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic responses I received! I am looking forward to learning more about what trends you all are seeing in technology integration and the collaborative discussion we will hopefully be able to have on the topic of global technology integration. I've provided a copy of my official cover letter (per my course requirements) to give you a better understanding of myself, as well as to share the interview questions with you.

Please feel free to respond as a comment to this post or email me at Thanks, again!

Teachable Moment: Global Citizenship

Nelson Mandela's statement that "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world" is popularly quoted by educators. Are you striving to inspire your young learners to change the world through your teaching? Today I am sharing a few ideas for building global citizens within the classroom through a stream of teachable moments.

Monday, June 9, 2014

See you June 23rd!

To all my readers,

I am simply writing this post to let you know of a very brief hiatus I will be taking from the blog until June 23rd. The main reason for this mini-break is the fact that the last 7 days of school are upon me and that involves quite a bit of extra duties this year around. I will be cleaning out my classroom, taking on some extra fun activities with my students, and transitioning to a new office and position within the district. My two graduate classes do not stop during this time, either! Not to mention, my hubby just made it home from a deployment and I'd like to try and balance the craziness of life without overwhelming myself! Most importantly, I just don't feel like I'd be writing as powerful and meaningful posts as I could during this time period with so many commitments on my schedule!

So, without further ado...see you on the 23rd! :)

Thanks for understanding!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Free Friday: Digital Citizenship

Ever since my students I completed the "Webonauts Internet Academy" by PBSKids together a few months ago, they have been hooked. Every time they earn free choice time in the computer lab, the first activity they choose to return to is the Webonauts. However, there are quite a few good resources out there for teaching digital citizenship or promoting awareness of Internet safety that I'd like to share today.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's all about teaching...even if it's teachers!

I am thrilled to be sharing with you all that I have recently interviewed, been offered, and accepted a position as the Instructional Facilitator of Technology Integration for the Oak Harbor School District (OHSD)! I do not officially take over this role until June 17th, but my mind is already racing with all that it will entail. I believe it will be a great opportunity to apply so much of my graduate studies, as well as to grow in my understanding and application of new technologies.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Teachable Moments: Digital Manners

Inspired by my current graduate classes which are focused on global perspectives and virtual schooling, I will be highlighting a few easy ways to impress on young learners the necessity for using their manners when interacting online.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Free Friday: Popplet

Thinking maps, graphic organizers, lists, diagrams....these are all tools we utilize on a daily basis to help our students organize their thoughts, knowledge, and questions. Most teachers commonly use paper copies of these structures or hand draw them on the board, but Popplet is a tool that expands possibilities in the realm of brainstorming, sequencing, and mapping with young learners.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Teachable Moments: Printing

Have you ever gotten to the end of computer lab time and asked your students to press the print button only to watch all of their hands go up multiple times as they walk their way through the series of print screens? Take a moment to check your students knowledge of how the printing process works and provide them with a foundation for how machines communicate with one another!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Free Friday: Google Doc Story

One of my students greatest challenges in our second grade writing curriculum was the concept of dialogue - how to read it, how to write it, and when it was appropriate to use it! When I discovered Google Doc Story Builder, the concept easily clicked for them. Not to mention, it motivated some of my reluctant writers to beg to be able to use this resource in the computer lab.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Digital City of Stories: Part One

As my second grade team begins to wrap up a unique project-based learning experience with our students, I wanted to bring an in-depth look at the process behind the product to you. Stay tuned for a posting all about the final product in early June.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Teachable Moments: The Mouse/Touch Screen

So, I have a pretty good feeling that most early childhood educators are probably raising an eyebrow and going "huh?" over the mention of trying to teach young learners about the different clicks on a mouse or gestures on a touch screen. However, if you teach the basics about the tools your students use to operate a computer their ability to troubleshoot in the computer will greatly increase!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Free Friday: Wonderopolis

Have you ever wondered what's in a Wonderball? Well, if you didn't grow up in the 90's you probably haven't. But, I bet you or your students have wondered about a wide variety of other things! This week's featured resource is Wonderopolis.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reaching Outside the Classroom Walls

As I continue to serve as the site manager for a brand new school website launch, I am constantly reminded of all the amazing  and free resources that are available to our parents and students. However, I know many of my families are not fully aware of or knowledgeable about how to access these resources despite the reminders and instructions sent home. It's as if there is an invisible forcefield within the walls of my classroom that erases my students' knowledge of all the computer or iPad activities they beg to do during the school day!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Teachable Moments: The URL

Has a student ever asked a question during class that has caused you to stop and "Google it?" This is an almost daily occurrence in my classroom especially when we are reading any sort of text (especially non-fiction) or observing a special holiday. If you left it up to your students to choose the best result to find the answer to their question, would they make a good choice?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Free Friday: Interactive Sites Weebly

Whether you are familiar with an interactive whiteboard, or not, the site Interactive Sites for Education, created and maintained by Karen Ogren is an invaluable resource in the elementary classroom. Karen has graciously compiled a multitude of online games and activities based on their subject matter for use by teachers and students.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teachable Moments: The Password

Every Monday I will be highlighting a small moment during the school day that could be easily used for teaching educational technology skills and content with minimal interruption to your scheduled lesson plan. These teachable moments are valuable opportunities to help your young learners become digitally literate! I will also be including some ideas to transform these moments into stand alone lessons, as well.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Free Friday: Online Typing Programs

I am going to feature some of the free technology tools and resources I use regularly in my classroom every Friday. On occasion there will also be a free printable or lesson resource produced by me included! Be sure to check back next Friday for the next featured tool/resource! If you are looking for a resource for a particular purpose or content area, I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Teachable Moments: The Computer Lab Trap

My school district has no formal digital literacy curriculum so time in the computer lab is often spent on STAR Reading and Math assessments, reading and playing games on Starfall, on CoolMath4Kids, etc. While I do not discount these activities and recognize their potential in providing valuable reinforcement of essential skills (there is never enough instructional time), I believe we are doing a disservice to our students by using websites in isolation. Our approach to computer lab time should be a comprehensive one.

New Google Drive Apps

In doing my own daily blog reading, I discovered that new Google Drive Apps are available that isolate Google Docs and Sheets. I'll leave the details on this change to the Pros at Google until I have a chance to spend some quality time with the new apps myself! I'll post my own thoughts then.

In the meantime, see what the Google Drive Blog has to say about it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Google Teacher Academy

Well, I just submitted my application for the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View, CA and Atlanta, WA! It was a fun application to complete and is a step towards my goal of pursuing more professional development in the way of instructional technology communities. That particular goal was largely behind the revival of this blog, but then the instructional technology communities I belonged to only include that of my fellow graduate students in my program at UMUC and the technology team at my district. So, here's to actively pursuing your goals and throwing your heart into your passions!

They are only accepting 100 applicants (65 for Mountain View and 35 for Atlanta), so I know it's a long shot that I would get selected, but if I'm going to actively pursue my goal I've got to at least try!

As a part of the application I had to create a video that demonstrated how I was innovative in the classroom through the use of technology. I chose to showcase our on-going second grade grant project and thought you might enjoy checking out the video!

If you'd like to learn more about the grant, you can check out the full proposal here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

What are you working with?

In my second grade classroom I currently have quite a few technology resources. Some of them are a result of district initiatives and trainings while others I have procured through grants, etc. I've got a breakdown of my set-up below, but would love to hear about what you are working with to!

The main writing and projection surface in my room is a Smartboard.  In our district these were purchased through the district for those individuals who completed the Tier 3 Training Program a few years back. While the program still remains, the incentives have changed to reflect current technologies. However, it seems the program will take on a new format next year as the district moves from a readiness-model in regards to technology training to an equity model. Regardless, I have been fortunate enough to be placed in a room of a teacher who is on special assignment this year as a literacy coach and have been able to retain her Smartboard. I use the Smartboard for just about every type of projection and lesson, so be prepared for many more mosts on this technology from the sessions I have helped to lead regarding it's uses in the classrooms. There is already a few such posts on the blog regarding "Pho-Smartboard" Techniques and Young Learners and the Smartboard.

Apple iPads & Apple TV
There are currently 4 iPad Minis available for use in my classroom. These were procured through several different grants from the Oak Harbor Educational Foundation and Donors Choose. I'll dedicate a separate post to pursuing grants for classroom technology, but it has certainly been a useful funding source that has greatly added to the possible learning experiences within my classroom. Currently, the iPad Minis are used as a part of my literacy workstations, as a tool in remedial math services, within my classroom reward system, for a special community-based social studies project (A Digital City of Stories), and for whole class instruction. The two Apple iPads in my classroom are almost solely used to guide instruction using the Splashtop App when they are not being used similarly to the iPad minis in small group instruction.

ELMO Document Camera
I like to think of the document camera as a pretty standard piece of classroom technology now, but I am curious if people are starting to use other technology tools to accomplish the same goals? I've heard of and seen the use of an iPad stand as a possible substitute for the document camera through Apple TV, but I haven't seen or heard of this becoming a standard practice anywhere.

I'll do my best to keep you updated on any changes to my classroom technology outfit, but in the meantime feel free to share what you are using! Are there any particular tools you've found for those young learners?

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Well, I guess at this point I don't have followers outside of my graduate classes in Instructional Technology. So, this is a hello to those future visitors who are wondering about this blog!

As I near the end of my time as a graduate student (MEd. Instructional Technology, UMUC) I feel more and more compelled to share the knowledge and skills I have gained over the past two years with fellow educators. I am also eager to build new relationships with other educators who share a passion for integrating technology in the early childhood classroom.

As a military spouse, I already have had invested technology commitments at several different schools and know that this trend will ultimately continue as our journey with the Navy continues. I hope that this blog, in it's revival, will help me in continuing to share technology integration experiences, tools, and ideas with colleagues past, present, and future.

Since this blog began as an assignment for a graduate course and therefore, it does include some helpful tips about integrating technology in the early childhood classroom already. However, there has been a hiatus of activity for almost a year. So, let me share a brief preview of what you can expect in the near future...

- An update on my current classroom technologies and how they are being used
- An overview of my experiences introducing my class of 2nd graders to Google Apps for Education
- A look at a sample Digital Literacy Workshop created for elementary educators
- A preview of my team's work surrounding an OHEF Grant: A Digital City of Stories
- A reflection on my experiences applying for a variety of Google training opportunities
- A synopsis of my on-going acclamation to a MacBook Pro Retina from PC (1 day in so far!)

I look forward to sharing many of these posts with you and am especially excited about the professional learning community that may ensure from the discussions and collaborations that take place here!

Thanks for joining the revival!