Monday, December 9, 2013

12 Days of Techmas & #TechformersU!

What do you get when you combine a love of technology, fierce classroom teachers, and an easy way to connect? Techformers Unite! 

Andrea Keller, @akbusybee, ITS in Irving ISD, and all around techie rockstar is the brains behind the genius. She came up with the idea and posted about it on her blog:

"As educators (of any form or fashion) we are constantly saving the world through various challenges! Join the Techformers Unite team to boldly take on technology challenges that increases the use of these tools in your classroom. If you are ready to be a part of the Techformers Unite group, you just need to join our group and start attempting the various challenges! These challenges can be completely done by you, or you can do them with the students that you work with! Remember that any challenges you complete and post about need to comply with your schools/district rules for posting pictures/information. You are in charge of keeping up with what challenges you complete when you fill out the Google Form at the end of the month! On other social media? Share using #TechformersU

Our idea:
Create various challenges for each month that could be accomplished by teachers and even be carried over to the classroom. 
We started with the 12 days of Techmas

Thanks Cindy Wallace for the awesome logo!

For the month of December there will be 12 challenges.  You can find the challenges on the Weebly  and also on our Facebook Page  At the end of each month we will post a Google form where participants can post what challenges they completed that month (there might be prizes involved!)  The challenges do not have to be done in any certain order, but people can share their completed challenges by posting in the comments of the challenge on the Facebook page or sharing through social media using #techformersU.  You can also find our Twitter account atTekFormersUnite

Now, we are currently in an icemageddon going on in the DFW area, so I am sure that that might have some impact this weekend on how many challenges get done.  

The first challenge (posted this morning 12/9/13) ended up with over 70 wonderful word clouds that different people created over their favorite holiday song.  Not only that, but I hadn't even posted the full challenge and people were already posting their challenges. 
Are you up for the challenge? Find our group Techformers Unite and learn some new tools and tricks.  In the process you will also have a chance to meet some amazing people!  I am So excited to see where these challenges will take us!  I am even more excited that I am able to collaborate with even more people over things that I love.  Cindy Wallace wrote a great blog about our Techformers Unite Challenges here"

21st Century Teaching Resources

Have you ever experienced this?  You are browsing around on the Internet and come across a great list of ideas, perfect for your classroom and for your students.  You continue doing some research and realize that you forgot to bookmark that site that had everything you wanted in a “one-stop, one-shop” format, you click the back arrow repeatedly only to realize that you’ve closed all the windows except the one you are on and have lost the site.  It’s happened to all of us. 

I’ve come across such a site – a “Teacher’s Comprehensive List of Great Educational Resources” ranging from 21st Century Teaching Resources to a plethora of iPad Apps to integrate into your classroom and teaching.  Be sure and bookmark this site, it’s one worth visiting on a regular basis! 

Click 21st Century Teaching Resources to access this exceptional list of resources.

After you've browsed around, let us know which app or resources caught your attention and is one that you can't wait to integrate into your classroom!  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Yummy Math

Yummy Math is a website designed to share mathematics problems and scenarios based on things happening in the world today. For example, the activity for November was based on Thanksgiving traditions.Yummy Math lists activities chronologically as well as by mathematics subject area. Two mathematics teachers, Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis, developed Yummy Math and welcome suggestions from other mathematics teachers. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Hour of Code

Computer Science Education Week is working with numerous partners to create and curate fantastic Hour of Code Activities for all age groups, with or without computers.  The introductory video gives just a snapshot of what students will do as they participate in the Hour of Code activities.  What a wonderful opportunity for our students to be engaged, collaborating, and creating!

Hour of code is an introduction to computer science designed to demystify code and show that anyone can learn the basics. The Hour of Code provides hour-long tutorials featuring Mark Zuckeberg, Bill Gates, Angry Birds, and Plants vs. Zombies -- for your computer, tablet or smartphone.

PD in your Pjs! YES PLEASE!

Safari Montage is hosting a Texas Users Online Training Day on 7 December 2013!  The online conference will run from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.  Aside from getting to learn in your PJ's, the next best part of this conference is that the presenters are users just like you!  These are professionals serving children in districts and schools across our great state. Each presenter has wonderful 'just-in-time' information to share with you on topics such as: best practices for searching, moving into the digital world, and connecting your classroom, just to name a few.

As always, there is great information being shared on the Safari Montage HD Network.  If you are not already signed up on this network, why not sign-up today?  (

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Keynote/Showbie Classroom Workflow

The Keynote/Showbie Classroom Workflow
(Mike Sammartano)

This is amazing for your student when they are creating and submitting presentations. The teacher creates a template presentation in Keynote and send it to the students using Showbie (free app and account). On the other hand, students will be able to get the file in their own Showbie account, open it in Keynote, edit it save it and send it back using Showbie. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Create & Grade Assignments with Google Forms

I know I post frequently about Google, and perhaps I should apologize for that. However, I'm not really sorry because Google just does some pretty cool things for teachers and students!
This week, I did a Flipped Classroom workshop with some teachers. They ranged from elementary up to high school. Since our our K-12 students all have Google accounts, I decided to focus on creating quizzes and assignments in Google Forms and how you can have them self-grade. The teachers all loved it. So, I thought I'd share it here.
If you have no clue what Google Forms are, check out this quick video summary.

To create a form from your Google Drive account:
  1. Click the red Create button, then Form.
  1. In the form template that opens, you can add any questions you'd like. You can also organize your form by adding headers and dividing your form into several pages.
  1. Should you need more help, check out this Google Support page:
Once you've shared your Form with students, parents, whomever, you can install a simple script Called Flubaroo in your responses spreadsheet.
  • From your Responses Spreadsheet, click Insert, and then Script.
  • In the window that appears, type Flubaroo in the search field.
  • Click Install. Then, authorize it by clicking Continue and then Accept.
Now that you've installed the Flubaroo Script, watch this brief demo of Flubaroo in action:

If you have any questions, please contact your campus technology integration specialist or facilitator. Don't know who that is? Ask your TIC or PTIC and they will :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Top Internet Safety Tips for Parents

Top Internet Safety Tips for Parents

  1. Talk with your child about Internet safety as soon as he/she begins using the Internet. It is never too early to start discussing the importance of being a good digital citizen.
  2. Use age-appropriate filtering, blocking and monitoring software on all Internet-enabled devices used by your child, including laptops, wireless phones and video games.
  3. Stay involved in your child’s online world by setting limits on his/her “screen time” and monitoring who your child is communicating with online. Get to know the web sites your child is visiting and educate yourself about your child’s online activities.
  4. Review FOSI’s Internet Safety Contract with your family members and consider having all family members sign the agreement.
  5. Explain to your child that he/she should never give out personally identifiable information online. For example, your child should understand that he/she should not post detailed information about his/her whereabouts.
  6. Make sure your child knows never to meet someone they met online face-to-face without first talking with you about the situation.
  7. Tell your child to never share their passwords with anyone, including friends. 
  8. Explain the consequences of posting inappropriate material online. For example, a child’s reputation can be impacted by a status entry or an image that is shared.
  9. Monitor your child’s mobile phone usage and review text messages sent and received, including images downloaded and uploaded.
  10. Educate yourself on the latest threats facing kids online (e.g., cyberbullying, sexting, etc.) and arm yourself with information that will allow you to talk to your child about being a good digital citizen.
Information Taken from: 


Do not grade papers anymore, sign up for an acount and let your webcam do the grading.

Training tutorials:

Monday, November 4, 2013

#MysterySkype: Connecting the Classroom Globally!

Most people have used Skype with friends or loved ones. However, have you ever Skyped with a mystery person? How about a Mystery Class?

#MysterySkype is an educational game created by teachers that can teach numerous subject areas from mathematics to history! Challenge your students to work together as detectives, gather clues from another class, and solve a mystery. Can you say real-life problem solving at it's best?!?!?

Check out this adorable video showcasing how a 5th grade class uses Skype with geography. They happen to be #MysterySkype pros, having completed 30 different mysteries in less than six months.

So how do you get started?
STEP 1 - Find a class
STEP 2 - Arrange a Time
STEP 3 - Share Your Story

There are a ton of ways that you can 'play' a mystery skype and it will vary from classroom to classroom based on the needs of your curriculum. Here are a few ideas from the Skype in the Classroom website on what you could try:

  • Twenty Questions: Students in each class prepare a set of 20 questions and 5-10 clues for the other class before their call. The classes try to guess each other’s location by answering the questions and using additional clues for a little extra help. This can work well for your first Mystery Skype lesson and is a good way to improve your students’ knowledge of where they live. 
  • Yes or No Answers: Classes are only allowed to ask each other questions which will get a yes or no answer. The number of questions may be limited to 20 if you want an additional challenge. These lessons can be more spontaneous and require students to think on their feet as the questions aren't prepared in advance.
  • Mystery Skype Jobs: Some teachers have found that when students have specific responsibilities during a Mystery Skype lesson they work better as a team and the whole class becomes more engaged.
    These roles can include greeters, question keepers, Bing mappers, runners, bloggers, photographers, live tweeters, reporters, and anything else that works for your class. If you need some more ideas, teacher Pernille Ripp has put together a fantastic list on her blog of the jobs that her class has developed.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Have our classrooms changed that much?

Bloom's Taxonomy and Bloom's Revised Taxonomy are key tools for teachers and instructional designers.  With the advancements in Technology and many schools embracing Technology in their classrooms, Bloom's Digital Taxonomy was introduced.

Bloom's original premise that you can't apply knowledge and concepts if you don't understand them and learning continues to be a process. Better stated:  

  • Before we can understand a concept we have to remember it.
  • Before we can apply the concept we must understand it.
  • Before we can analyze it we must be able to apply it.
  • Before we can evaluate its impact we must have analyzed it.
  • Before we can create we must have remembered, understood, applied, analyzed, and evaluated.  

As we've moved into the 20th century and embraced technology, also known as Web 2.0 tools, the resources available to teachers have moved from ancillaries associated with textbook to websites and now apps to take advantage of the mobile devices available to students and teachers.  Technology has replaced worksheets as students now demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of concepts by creating and producing products.    

How do you determine how a website or an app can be used to address Bloom’s Taxonomy?  The list of sites and apps is lengthy and ever changing.  To assist with this vast amount of information, I will share a number of sites that I found useful in determining which website or app best fits with Bloom’s new Digital Taxonomy. 

Where do you find sites and or apps to address each of these new verbs?  Through a bit of research, I found a number of sites that do an excellent job of identifying websites and apps that address each of the individual categories.  The information shared below is only a small sampling of what is available to help determine what website or app will help address the learning for students.  Explore and bookmark those sites and apps which best address the needs of your students. We would enjoy hearing from you as you explore the numerous sites listed and let us know what you found to be the most beneficial for you and your students.

To access a snapshot of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy for Apps, click HERE

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy for Websites 

The Blooms Digital Taxonomy Quicksheets are resources created as a quick and easy summary of the six different taxonomic levels of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy.  They define the different taxonomic levels, provide the Digital Taxonomy verbs with some possibilities for classroom use.  To access and download these resources, click HERE

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Are You a Connected Educator????

Did you know that October has been declared by the Department of Education to be Connected Educator Month?

What does this mean??? Well, it started just last year in 2012 with an entire month of webinars, blog posts, ideas, discussions and more all about increasing the importance of educators being connected. You can read more about it on the official website.

Here is a great video that shows interviews of educators who describe the importance of being connected:

If you are already a connected educator or if you are wanting to dig in a little more, make sure to follow the hashtag #ce13 on Twitter to see the amazing month long discussions happening RIGHT NOW!

Here is a plethora of resources, or gems of greatness some might say, that are all about being a connected educator and collected via Twitter. Check them out and join the discussion!

Also, be sure you don't miss the events calendar for a listing of upcoming, ongoing, and past event that might interest you as a connected educator. 

Google Drive as a Feedback Tool

Since all of our students, K-12, have a GISD Google Drive account, I wanted to share an idea of how to incorporate this into your instruction. 

If you have no idea what Google Drive is, check out this brief video for an introduction:

While Google drive boasts a ton of useful tools, I want to focus now on using it to give your students feedback on their writing. Writing is a huge focus for our District this year and I can't think of a more useful tech tool to make this easier and effective for your students.

Google Docs is the Microsoft Word of the Google Products Suite. It is not as robust as Word or Apple's Pages, but that really makes it much easier for our kids to use! That being said, Google has still provided plenty of word processing features such as margins, formatting, inserting media and text, etc.

Your students simply need to log in using their GISD account info. For elementary students, their log in is and their password is their ID number. For secondary students, it's with nPin as their password.

Once they're in, they simply need to click 'Create' and choose 'Document.'

Once they do this, a word processor will appear and they can type normally. Google saves their progress automatically, so there is no need for them to even click 'save.' In fact, there is no save button!

Students will click 'Share' in the top right corner and share their live document with you, the teacher! Be sure the students choose the "can edit" option when giving you sharing rights.

Here's where the feedback comes in. Instead of emailing documents back and forth or you carrying home piles of papers to mark up and pass out again, the teacher logs in to his or her Google Drive account and finds the student's document that was shared with them. From here, the teacher can make live comments or corrections to the student's document!

To add a comment, just highlight a portion of text and click the Comment button. You can then type as much or as little as you like. The student will see the comment the next time he or she logs in and can make adjustments. Or, they could comment you back and a discussion begins! Giving feedback has never been easier.

Once the document is finished, it's easy to download into Microsoft Word by selecting File/Download As/Word or to simply click File/Print.

I really think this time saving productivity tool can revolutionize the feedback process! Let us know if we can help you.

Hope everyone had a great Fair Day :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

CoolTools for the Classroom 

While browsing through my Twitter feeds looking for something new and exciting to share with you, I ran across a resource that is a definite “must check out. –  This tool provides a new way to create books using PDF documents.  Check out CoolTools for the Classroom flipsnack book – not only is this a great example of a flipsnack book, the resources listed on the various pages are some of best “CoolTools” I’ve seen in a while.  Browse through the flipsnack book, glean some new ideas, and share with your campus. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Embracing Mobile Learning

Embracing Mobile Learning

Imagine this – You walk up and see a child sitting outside the school waiting for their ride.  She is so engrossed with her cellphone that she doesn’t even look up to see that mom is pulling up.  The following conversation unfolds:

Teacher:  Hey, you better look up.  Mom is coming around the corner, and she is not going to be happy to have to honk her horn and compete with a phone.

Student:  Just a sec.  I’m almost done with my assignment.

Teacher:  Assignment!  You’re on your phone.  What kind of assignment is on your phone?

Student:  ELA.  I have to post 5 examples of conflict and state whether they are major or minor.

Teacher:  Wait, how are doing that on your phone?

Student:  Edmodo.  Got the app.  It’s free.  You should try it with your classes.

Think this is fiction?  No, for Mrs. Cristales’s students at Sellers University this conversation has unfolded.  Parents have also reported that their teenagers sitting on the couch at home are in fact doing homework on their phone! 

Edmodo ( is a free web resource that allows teachers to create online groups for their classes to have discussions, assignments, resources, and lessons 24/7.  If you are wanting to know more, please inquire about training.

Edmodo Campus-Wide Professional Learning

Two campuses:  South Garland HS and Sellers University have both embraced Edmodo as a campus-wide professional collaboration tool.  Teachers submit their lesson plans online where others can view it and reflect in a supportive group.  Administrators can see the lesson plans on their Ipads as they do CWTs.  Each department has a group where they can conduct online meetings, distribute information, and submit documentation while saving trees and money at the same time!

Let us know what great things your campuses are doing.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A teacher never stops trying...

to teach and inspire 

"Every Student, Every Day"!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

As you talk with your students about holidays and, perhaps, what they did over the Labor Day holiday, consider giving them a brief history lesson!

The History Channel has a great series on YouTube of short video clips explaining holidays. They have great application for education. Here is their video on The History of Labor Day:

Also, Ted ED has an interesting, short, video on why Americans and Canadians celebrate Labor Day.

Think about viewing these with your students as you hear them talking about what they did on their day off!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do You Dojo?

There is some very exciting news for all you Dojoers out there.....Class Dojo has created a YouTube channel that hosts 21 different videos that will walk you through everything that you could possibly want to know about using Class Dojo.

If you have never heard of Class Dojo, you might think I am talking a different language right now. However after you watch this (from the handy dandy Dojo YouTube channel), it will become a little more clear.

Or maybe you are an experienced Dojoer, and want to know how to import behaviors from another class. They have one for that, too!

I HIGHLY encourage you to check out the Class Dojo YouTube channel as you begin setting expectations with your students for this school year. Class Dojo is an excellent way to encourage and promote positive character traits within your classroom.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Skype 'n Tell

Yesterday, I was fortunate to be able to witness a video conference at Handley Elementary. Mrs. Nuñez, a 5th grade teacher, coordinated an e-visit with Dr. Ana Sanchez, a microbiologist at Brock University in Canada. Dr. Sanchez chatted with the students about her research with infectious diseases and how she uses the scientific method of discovery every day!

The students were hooked, engaged, and asked great questions. I was so impressed, I just had to share! Major kudos to Mrs. Nuñez and her students for thinking outside the box! The kids will definitely remember this exciting day in 5th grade!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Engagement with Easiteach!

Today I had the extreme privledge of being invited into Mrs. Casiano's kindergarten class (at Sewell Elementary) to see the AMAZING ways that she is integrating technology, specifically the Easiteach software, into her lessons. When I say amazing, I mean auh-ma-zing!

As I witnessed the instruction and learning that was happening, I became more and more excited. (Have I mentioned what an EdTech nerd I am?) I just couldn't wait to share it with others.

Mrs. Casiano is a long-time user of the Easiteach program and classpad. A while back she had the idea of getting multiple wireless keyboards and mice to use with the software. This way her students could interact directly with the software while she facilitates the lesson with the classpad. She now has one for every 2-3 students or table in her room. 

Today she used the existing district curriculum (worksheets from ConnectEd) for the students to practice the vocabulary and spelling skills that they had been working on that week in kindergarten. Students took turns typing the words directly onto the worksheet using the wireless tools.

Talk about engagement! Every student was focused on helping label all of the objects in the worksheet. When one student became stuck or confused, another would be able provide immediate help from their wireless keyboard at their table.

Mrs. Casiano explained to me how using the Easiteach software this way has really changed the learning in her classroom. Even students who struggle academically or have communication problems will jump at the chance to interact with the Easiteach software using a keyboard or mouse.

I'm giving a <<virtual standing ovation>> to Mrs. Casiano for her innovative way of technology integration and teaching!!! WAY TO GO!!!

What could be more perfect than that?!? How about getting a drawing of myself and the students using the technology from a new sweet kindergarten friend? 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

April is Poetry Month

Don't Forget that April is poetry month. Use Poetry - Real Classroom Ideas resources, discovered by Kathy Rohmer, to introduce your class to poetry, and then organize a poetry slam! Your students will love you for it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Map Tales

Map Tales is a really cool site for creating digital stories. Think Storybird with a geography twist instead of art. Basically, someone can create a story using actual geographical points of location. Each of these points can be edited and modified by the author. Look at this example student presentation on The Odyssey by Homer.

I know many of you reading are elementary teachers, but you can definitely modify this to fit a more age-appropriate story!

How much cooler would a student book report or presentation be using this instead of boring old PowerPoint? I think the answer is obvious :)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Calling All Android Dojo-ers!!

For all those Class Dojo lovers, who happen to also carry an Android phone or tablet.......the wait is over!

Class Dojo has officially launched the app in Google Play. Now you can award students from virtually anywhere and continuously update your class points on the go.

Way to go Dojo! Get the FREE APP HERE.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seuss-tastic Day Coming!

Anyone who knew me when I was in the classroom, would quickly tell you how obsessed I am with Dr. Seuss. He is whimsy, fun, thought provoking and comical. I love him so much, my entire classroom was Seussical. So, as ever Seuss-obsessed person already knows....his birthday is right around the corner on March 2. Right in time with

Here is a great infographic about some little known fact about his works:

I am also linking several great websites to use, if you choose to incorporate Seuss into your Read Across America Day coming up:

I hope everyone have a Seuss-tastic day! And remember, "“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!