Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It seems that my blog has had many starts and even more stops.  So many times over the past school year and summer I have thought to myself, "This would make a great blog post!!" yet, here I am with more than a year since my last writing.  It is time for me to "put up or shut up" as many say.  I have talked about the need for digital writing and having that online presence, but have always thought of that as either my Twitter or G+ accounts.  I now think that that is not enough and it is time to move past the 140 character limit of what I am thinking and more importantly, learning.

So I am making a renewed commitment to starting up my blog again. This time, though, I will not make any promises to how often other than to say it will be more frequently than in the past.  I want to get this going.  I need to get this started and to stick with it to hear what others have to say about my ideas and my thoughts. I see so many positive things that can come from getting back into the blogging works.  It is going to happen.  Stay Tuned...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Atlanta Bound!


Tomorrow I leave for my third ISTE conference.  This year it is in steamy Atlanta, Georgia!  I am so fortunate to get to represent WEMTA--our state organization as the Affiliate Liaison to ISTE.
I am looking forward to the conference for so many reasons.

1.  I am attending this for the first time as a Google Certified Teacher.  While I knew I was going to be attending the GTA in Chicago when I went last year, it did not actually happen until July.  This is significant not because it's cool to be a GCT, but because I have a whole new group of friends and colleagues that I have been networking with all year online to connect with.  I can't wait to see them face to face again and to catch up on the incredible things that they do for kids.  I am honored to be a member of this group and hope I get to spend lots of time with them.  I will be hanging out at the Google Playground on Monday to talk Google Glass and some other fun Googley topics.

2.  My presentation schedule is much more manageable this year.  Last year I committed to many things and left the conference feeling that I only really attended a few sessions and didn't make it to the Blogger's cafe at all.  While I enjoyed it tremendously, I felt very busy and rushed during my time in San Antonio.  This year, I only have a half day workshop and some time in the Google Playground.  The other open times will be spent attending sessions, networking, and learning with colleagues.  I am really looking forward to this!

3.  I have a great group scheduled to attend my pre-conference workshop.  I do the workshop because while I technically lead the session, I learn so much from a diverse group of educators that attend.  It truly is a learning network that we build throughout our three hour time slot.  We will be talking about our struggling learners and how we can use technology to make curriculum accessible to them in all areas.

4.  Great events!  I have some great social events scheduled with friends that I don't get to see too often.  Am looking forward to catching up in a relaxed environment.

5.  THE WORLD CUP!!  Can't wait to cheer on the US!!

There are other reasons I'm looking forward to the conference but these are the top five.  So many people from so many diverse backgrounds all in one spot--awesome!!
Many seasoned, "popular" educators have negative things to say about ISTE.  That really bothers me.  We are never too good to learn from each other and to celebrate the incredible things that happen for our students around the globe.  While the conference may not be a perfect venue for every issue we deal with in education, many of us save our pennies throughout the school year just to attend this one event.  Most classroom teachers that I know only get to attend one conference event a year.  I hope that those fortunate enough to attend multiple conferences and those that are well known in the Ed Tech world remember that and save the snarky comments for another time.  I, for one, am super excited about ISTE.  Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Try This Again...

Well, it has been quite some time since I did an official blog post and not just a quick tip on my website.  I am going to try to stick to blogging on a somewhat regular basis--maybe monthly--maybe a little more depending on what has been going on.  Thought I'd do a little reflective post about what the 2013-2014 school brought on.  I am so fortunate to work with such hard working, thoughtful educators everyday.

This past school year has been incredible!  I received Google Glass in November, started a great new group of students called the TechKnow Kids--a Minecraft EDU design group, started a crazy thing called PD in Your PJs, implemented a new tablet pilot program for our K-2 students, and watched members of my TILT team do incredibly powerful things with their students and then share it out with our team.  Whew!  No wonder we are all tired!

I am really proud of having started a Tech Coaching Network for coaches around the state--mainly in my area of Wisconsin, but we network with people all over.  This has been a chance to really talk about the challenges and celebrate the many wins of using technology tools with our kids.  I love that we can go for much of our meeting and just talk kids-not technology, not school--kids.  That has been so encouraging each time we meet!

Glass has been such an interesting addition to my life.  I used it a lot when I first received them and then it started to taper off a little.  A huge update in the past few weeks has encouraged me to get them back on and use them regularly.  I had a very interesting conversation with a gentleman that has Cerebral Palsy about Glass and the potential of technology like this.  He actually got a little teary eyed when he talked about how hands free computing could really be a game changer....and of course that made me get a little teary eyed as well!

I have had the pleasure of presenting at lots of different events throughout the school year.  I love that no matter where I am, all discussions at these events have centered around how to do right by our kids and give them the most opportunities and ask the best questions that we possibly can.  My "techie" colleagues are amazing and such a supportive addition to my life.
I am scheduled for more PD events this summer, so stay tuned....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Well, I have been trying to get back into blogging and couldn't decide which tool I wanted to use to do that. I thought keeping everything nice and clean on my website might be nice, but I have come to realize that I eventually will want all features that Blogger has to offer.

There has been so much that has happened over the last few months that I plan to blog about.  The past year, maybe year and a half have been the most incredible in all my 20 years of teaching--a real culmination of those years.  I have met so many incredible educators, had powerful, career-changing PD opportunities, and have been challenged by various students and teachers in my own district.

Throughout the next few weeks, I will be blogging about the following topics.  I figure if I commit to this in a public forum, I will actually do it!!

  • Summer PD Opportunities--ISTE, Wisconsin School Districts
  • The Google Teacher Academy--Chicago
  • My school districts continued journey into Google-ness
  • My Connected Coaching class
  • The Iowa Tech Conference + Midwest Google Summit
Ok, that's it for now.  Stay Tuned....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We're In!!

Wow!  It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post.  I apologize for my long absence.

Many exciting things have happened for our students and staff!  We have completed the full roll over to Google Apps for Education and have almost all of our 3,200 students collaborating online in some manner.  The summer trainings went well and we are in the midst of offering mini-lessons in each school to continue showing teachers to power of using Google Apps.

Staff has been amazing through this process!!  I get so many emails that say how happy they are with the change and that even though change is hard, they are pushing though and learning as much as they can to make a positive impact on their students.  I am so proud of our staff and students.  I do find myself bragging about them often as I travel to conferences or get questions from teachers in other school districts.  I can't help it!

I have much more to write, but wanted to post a brief update on our progress and will add to this in the very near future...stay tuned...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

And We're Off! Oh, and More Chrome Fun!

Tomorrow begins the marathon of Google training with having 20 teachers in the morning and another 20 in the afternoon. We repeat the process all day Tuesday all day. By Tuesday our entire Second Early Adopter group will be using South Milwaukee Apps and we will be well on our way to having students groups in and testing the sites. To say the excitement is ramping up would be an understatement! I will post later this week with an update on the training dates. After these trainings, we will all have a chance to catch up a bit before we begin final roll out to staff in summer.

And now to Chrome....

I listed my top three extensions of this week in my previous post. Today I list my top three Apps--remember, this can change at any time since there are so many awesome things out there!!

I can't wait to use this with kids! As a former Assistive Technology team member, I remember the days of spending hour after hour trying to evaluate new speech to text programs--and might I also add spending dollar after dollar as those programs were very expensive. This is a FREE speech to text app! Think a browser version of Dragon Dictate. Wow...

So, this is not a super flashy App nor is it super techy. This app gives an outside view of the current weather-as if you are looking out a window. Why would you want that? Well, in the elementary level we try very hard to help kids understand that weather where we live can be different from weather in other places around the world. This app takes looking at local weather around the world another step and actually shows them the weather. It's a great discussion starter. We currently have South Milwaukee, San Francisco and Anchorage, Alaska loaded to look at.

Yep, it's Google Earth inside the Chrome browser. We found this while we were trying to decide if we could get away with Chromebooks at the elementary level. It lacks the bells and whistles of the Google Earth program, but it is a great start!

Next time we will look at some Gmail Labs that can come in very handy. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quick Update + Some Google Chrome Love

We continue moving in a positive direction with our Google Apps roll out...

On March 15th we began the trainings for our Early Adopter Second wave. The training went great! We began by working with our Math Leadership team. These teachers are relatively tech savvy so they were able to help us refine our training materials before we work with the rest of this wave. By this time next week, we will have approximately 120 staff members moved over to our domain and using Mail, Calendar, and Docs as their primary productivity tools.

This is the part of our roll out plan where we begin to introduce students into our domain. While this is incredibly exciting, it is also a little scary as we want to make sure that we teach students how to communicate appropriately online and begin to "put them out there" so that they can collaborate with others. I am so excited to see where this goes from now until the end of the year.

Ok--and now a little Google love...

Wow! We are experimenting with so many different Chrome Apps and Extensions. This has been really fun to do with staff that is already into our domain and using Chrome as their primary browser. Our goal is to test as many as we possibly can to create a district-wide "best of" list by Fall.

Here are three extensions that I use everyday:

Why do I use this? Well, previous to this extension in order to shorten Urls to share, I would have to copy them, navigate to, paste and then copy the new Url and paste that where I need it. With this extension, I navigate to the page, click the extension and BAM! It shortens for me and provides the new link in the same window. Saves too many clicks to count!

If you are a Diigo user, this is very similar to the toolbar or Diigolet. We have many teachers using Diigo so I like to share this as a quick way to annotate or highlight on a page and then share it out.

AWESOME!! This extension dims the rest of the screen when showing any video. Nice to use in the classroom to eliminate distractions. You literally turn off the lights around the video and when you are done, they turn back on. What's not to love?

That's it for now. We are compiling a huge list of extensions and Apps. I will share out our top three Apps in the next post.

Stay tuned...