Sunday, August 2, 2015

I promise I can explain!

Sooo... it's been awhile and you've heard crickets from me over the past 8 months after I had made a pledge to be a more conscious blogger but I promise there is a perfectly logical explanation for this....

We found out we were expecting in December and the holidays came and went with a fury! I transferred buildings and will be teaching third grade at a brand new county school that is currently being built. We sold our house, bought a new house, moved, celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary and are currently paintin
g and doing some remodeling. I've also been beyond busy this summer with photography! To say we are over achievers and took a lot on is an understatement. I won't go into ALL the details but that in a nutshell explains my absence in the blogging world.

Somehow today is August 2nd...summer is nearly over...I am due with our first sweet baby boy in 26 days and have a to-do list 6 miles long both personally and professionally! I have not given much thought to the school scene besides a few random pins so I thought now was as good a time as ever to start stalking other blogs and trying to get myself back into the school mode... which will be short lived until our little dude arrives.

Monday, December 15, 2014

VSTE Recap

Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) hosted their annual edtech conference at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach December 7-9! I attended as a first timer and presented two sessions, 15 + Tech Tools That You Can Use Next Week and Mystery Location in Action!

One of my favorite things about conferences is connecting with other educators who are doing amazing things in their classroom. I love being surrounded by other educators who are excited about learning from and sharing with others. There is such a buzz and excitement at conferences and VSTE did not disappoint. VSTE had something for everyone, awesome concurrent sessions, engaging workshops, thought-provoking speakers (Steven Anderson, Sylvia Martinez and Rob Furman), model classrooms, exhibitors and even an interactive hackerspace! Kudos to the hard-working VSTE Conference Committee and Board Members for pulling everything together. The conference was well organized and there were lots of little touches that really made this conference stand out. The online scheduling was also so easy to use and reference throughout the conference!

I decided to share a few of my conference experiences using Thinglink, one of my favorite tech tools. Thinglink allows you to make an image interactive! I used the PicCollage app on my phone to create a collage of a few of my favorite photos from the conference which I emailed to myself, saved and uploaded to Thinglink in less than 5 minutes! Then I added captions, links and videos to briefly recap the conference! Click around on the image to interact!

 CLICK HERE to check out my VSTE Thinglink if the touch points are not appearing here! The embedding is being temperamental.

Sunday was the only day I didn't present so it was more low-key for me! I attended a few sessions, met some new friends and volunteered at the registration desk. Since I am obsessed with QR Codes, "What Are you QR-ious" was my favorite session from Sunday! 

Monday started off in the dark literally, I woke up with no power at the Hilton and one thing after another seemed to go wrong! I found Starbucks (hidden inside the Harris Teeter) and a luxurious bathroom at the conference center to quickly plug in my straightener and fix a few flyways (yes, I packed my hair straightener) and those two little things got my day back on the right track. Sylvia Marinez's keynote put a smile on my face and learning about the Makers Movement was really motivating. 

While clicking around and making last minute changes to my conference schedule online I found the "popular" tab and wanted to see if there were any sessions that I had missed or initially skipped over. I was BLOWN AWAY when I realized that my session had made the top 10 and had 158 people signed up to attend. 

I snuck out of the morning keynote a bit early to get set up for my workshop. I arrived at the room to find 10 + people camped out. 

Of course wifi decided to be difficult and I started the session skipping Adam Bellow's Filter Wall video a #FETC throwback and presenting the first few tools from memory! Luckily a majority of the attendees were able to open my Prezi and handouts and the format worked until Cynthia, a fellow PWCS ITC saved me with her laptop which had great connectivity!

Throughout the session I highlighted my favorite edtech tools. I like to share tools that are FREE, easy to use, don't take a lot of time to learn or set up and can be used across grade levels and content areas! My goal for the session was to get everyone involved and using the tools which I think is so important. 

We had a BLAST playing Kahoot and that one seemed to be the favorite tool of the session. If you don't know Kahoot, you must check it out! It is an interactive, game-based, quick response system that is HIGHLY engaging. 

Who doesn't use Google maps? But did you know that you can create your own interactive map! By this time we were running short on time but check out the VSTE attendee Google Map that a few participants added to!

I am hoping to be more active on my blog and plan to dedicate a post to go more in depth on each of the 26 tools that I highlighted during my presentation! 

On Tuesday, I presented Mystery Location in Action which is my newest edtech OBSESSION and definitely deserves and requires several more posts! I will attach my Prezi but stay tuned for MORE information on this interactive geography game! One of the best parts of this session was connecting with Mr. Vesco's 3rd grade class in Kansas for a live call. I could have shared my experiences, photos, videos, kids quotes, teacher's testimonies, etc. but I think the most meaningful thing is participating in a Mystery Location call and seeing what it looks like in action. 

I have so much more to share and much more motivation to blog so be on the lookout but I will leave you with one of my favorite videos from VSTE shared by Steven Anderson and friends, #beAWESOME #bebrave #beMOREdog!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Yesterday I attended my first decamp and I absolutely fell in LOVE with the edcamp UNconference model. The mood was relaxed, everyone dressed pretty casual and breakfast was served (thank you Starbucks, DD and Harris Teeter)! Then Joan Le, gave us the edcamp rules and told us that per 75% of the educators in the room were newbies which made me feel even more relaxed. There was a table of colorful stickies and markers. You put ANYTHING education on the sticky, the focus is not always technology and then a board is created. Like stickies are grouped together and sessions are created… no presentations, just a group of teachers. You don't have to be an expert to lead a session just willing to start a discussion or ask a question. 

I decided to share about Mystery Skype and we had an awesome discussion. I love that everyone has their tech out and is tweeting, taking notes, Googling, etc. We made some great connections during each session and it was awesome to spend the day with likeminded educators who willingly gave up their Saturday to attend a professional development. 

One of the edcamp rules is that you "vote with your feet" and are free to come and go from session to session. No one gets offended because there aren't any presenters, just educators brought together to share their expertise, learn from others, ask questions, connect, and grow professionally. 

During the Smack Down everyone got to share a tool or thought but of course no one wanted to go first. I  borrowed this pic from Twitter but I don't think Mr. Lands will mind:)! 

I had an awesome day but one of the best parts was that I won a CHROME BOOK! ! ! I never WIN anything and I am so excited to play with my new toy. Thank you AlchemyLearning and edcampARL!

The edcampARL team did an outstanding job pulling the day together! I had such an amazing day and completely fell in love with the edcamp model. I am attending #edcampDCMetro next weekend in Bethesda, MD and cannot wait! I am also a little obsessed with the idea of planning my own edcamp with a team. I was up far past my bedtime researching and connecting with other edcamp organizers! #iamanerd #whenwillisleep #bemoreawesome

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I cannot say enough about the power of Twitter! I love learning from other educators and sharing my expertise. #edchats are an awesome way to expand your PLN and I have made some amazing connections with likeminded educators. Twitter has exposed me to some amazing ideas, resources and opportunities!

I may have became a little obsessed with Twtiter back in January before FETC 2014 and could've probably won an award for the most #fetc tweets i.e. biggest nerd. Let's just say that Jennifer Womble, the event organizer KNEW my Twitter handle when I arrived in sunny Florida and introduced myself. 

Anyways, I "met" Tara L. on Twitter right before I left for FETC, we connected over a #fetc tweet and I was able to actually meet her in person at the conference. This was my first time meeting a "Tweep" and I have to admit it was a little awkward BUT she was so sweet and we had a great conversation! During our brief meeting she invited me to check out EdCamp Arlington and later tweeted me the information at me.

I had never heard of edcamp but was eager to learn more. I became fascinated and registered as soon as I got home from FETC! As usual I began researching and finding out everything I could about edcamp. THIS is where I always began. You gotta LOVE Google and all the places you can go.

The first thing I learned is that edcamp is an UNconference! There are no proposals or presentations. No brochures or vendors trying to sell you a program! Edcamps are organized by educators FOR educators. They are participant driven professional development conferences. Sessions are decided upon the morning of the event by participant suggestions. Talk about teacher empowerment and meaningful professional development.

I am MOST looking forward to connecting with other educators, sharing experiences, expertise, ideas, and resources. I learned A LOT at FETC and was honored to be able to present and share but my biggest takeaways this year were the connections that I made with people either face to face or on Twitter. I learned so much in our unstructured time just talking to other educators and that is exactly the focus of edcamp! I can't wait to attend on Saturday. Have you ever attended an edcamp? What advice would you give to a #newbie?! Is there an edcamp in YOUR area? 


Check out our Mystery Locaction thinglink. Thinglink is a free Web 2.0 tool that allows you to make an image interactive by adding different touch points (using Chrome)! The touch points can be linked to text, YouTube videos, websites, etc. Thinglink is user-friendly and really easy to use! AFTER I made this I realized I should've used a regular US Map because we are coloring the map as we go and this one will stay as is! What do you think about thinglink? How could you use it in your classroom?

Mystery Location

I became intrigued with Mystery Skype about a month ago when I saw the hashtag in my newsfeed on Twitter. I started doing some research and fell in love! I found a lot of awesome resources on Twitter and other tech blogs that I follow and it didn't take long before I was obsessed. 

Mystery Skype which we had to change to Mystery Location because Skype and Google Hangouts are blocked by our district is a great way to connect with other classes around the United States and even the world to practice geography skills. We use our video conferencing program called Webx to travel to different states in the US. 

I've made most of my Mystery Location connections through Twitter and have really seen the power of a PLN come to life. Planning is definitely a big part of getting Mystery Location off of the ground. I've kept everything organized in a Google Drive table that is beautifully color coded.  I also did 3 lessons before our first call to introduce Mystery Location, to come up with questions and to facilitate a practice session.

The 5th grade social studies curriculum in Virginia is entirely geography! They spend all year learning the regions of the US, each state, capital, and everything in between. I knew Mystery Location would be an amazing real world application to put our geography skills to the test! 

Essentially Mystery Location is a big game of Guess Who but rather than trying to figure out a person we are trying to figure out a mystery location by asking yes/no questions! Our goal is to figure out their state and sometimes we even go down to the city! Everyone has a job and is fully engaged throughout the call. 

We begin the call with Greeters who introduce our class and welcome the guest class. Then we play Rock, Paper, Scissors with the other class to see who gets to ask the first question. The Inquirers are responsible for asking questions and we created a list of questions in Google Drive that they use to go from (i.e. Does you start border another country? Does your state border the Atlantic Ocean? Is your state in the X time zone? Is your state in the X region? etc.) The State Experts are responsible for answering the questions that the other class asks of our state! The Data Collectors are responsible for keeping track the clues and the questions that we ask of the other class using Google Forms. This information goes to the Think Tank. The Think Tank is responsible for using the clues to try to narrow down their location and suggestion questions to the Inquirers. The Runners get information from one group to another because we need to keep the class pretty quiet so we can hear what is going on. There are Map Trackers and Geographers who are in charge of narrowing down the location using wall maps and Google Maps/Earth. The back channelers chat with the guest class on TodaysMeet to help with clues. After the greeter finishes their introduction they are in charge of writing the clues on chart paper. We also have photographers, videographers and reporters to be sure we capture the whole event! The closers finish up the call by thanking the other class and sharing some facts about our school and state. We also like to ask questions about the other school and state! 

So far we have connected with 11 different classes in 8 states and we have over 35 Mystery Location calls scheduled in 29 of the 50 states :)! We've had so much fun, learned a TON already, and hope to hit all 50 states before the end of the year!

In addition to an awesome way to practice geography skills we've also integrated writing on our Weebly Mystery Location blog and I am going to come up with some integrated math lessons including measurement, elapsed time, etc.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February Currenlty

February snuck up on me and I am excited to participate in February Currently

Listening to: We aren't big football fans in our house but we have the Super Bowl on. I love watching the commercials and I don't want to be the only one at work who didn't watch tomorrow when everyone is talking about it!

Loving: I just spent a week in Florida attending and presenting at FETC! It is an amazing ed tech conference and I love every second of it but I am happy to be home with my husband, our two puppies, our home and getting back into a regular routine.

Thinking: January has been so off and on between holidays, snow days, work days and the conference!  If I am counting correctly I worked 10 days in the month of January ( I don't have my planner RIGHT in front of me. ) 

Wanting: FETC was such a whirlwind and my brain is overflowing with ideas and take aways from the conference. I want to sit down and go through my notes and start getting my February Tech Training together BUT my brain cannot handle it right now.

Needing: I do NOT sleep when I am away from my husband/the girls and the week was jam packed so I am completely drained and exhausted! I just need to go to bed but I am too stubborn. I also need to go to the doctor tomorrow for four separate issues - 1. A sinus infection  2. A bump on my skull/neck - I think it's swollen lymph nodes from said infection 3. A rash/ break out I've had on my face for EVER and 3. My knee.

1. TRUTH - Tomorrow is my birthday!
2. FIB- I am not running a full marathon this year but I am running a half in September and a race a month - knee permitting.
3. TRUTH- I am #obsessed with Twitter and have really expanded my PLN in the past few weeks by participating in #edchats #edtechchats and attending #fetc! Are you on Twitter? What do YOU love about it? Do you participate in chats?

Thanks for stopping by! I would love to have you as a follower :)!

FETC 2014

I didn't think it would be possible for FETC 2014 to top last years amazing ed tech conference but IT DID (OK, maybe not the weather but EVERYTHING else)! I don't even know where to begin because my brain is overflowing with ideas and I am completely exhausted!

We kicked off FETC 2014 by attending the first annual Photo Walk which got moved indoors because of the rain. Despite the weather we had fun searching for the letters F E T C in architecture and signs around the conference center. We also met some awesome people from New Jersey who we spent time with all week and this is where our shirts first got scanned :)! 

The Tech Share featured Kathy Schrock, Hall Davidson, Leslie Fisher and Adam Bellow. If you do not follow these four on Twitter you should. Their websites are all awesome resources as well. Leslie is absolutely hilarious and it is like a stand up comedy show while learning all about the latest and greatest in technology. Adam is also quite funny and shared his version of Wrecking Ball which is still stuck in my head! The week was jam packed from 9:30am on Wednesday until 5 pm on Friday. We attended awesome keynote presentations and other concurrent and featured sessions. I will share some of my favorite FETC finds when I have more time to digest everything and look over my notes! 

Meghan and I presented #SCANAPALOOZA2 on Thursday at 4:20 and I wanted to share all of our presentation materials with YOU. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions!

In addition to learning so much, being inspired by amazing speakers, and putting a few new tricks in my tool bag here are my FETC Top 10 Favorites 

10. Badge ribbons

9. Dell Balloon Artist (I got a princess crown)

8. FETC Photo Walk

7. Being tweeted back by Adam Bellow, Leslie Fisher, edmodo, remind101 and blendspace

6. Meeting and chatting with Jennifer Womble, Adam Bellow and Leslie Fisher

5. Hanging out with Remind 101 team

4. Getting edmodo and remind101 tee shirts, one was MUCH harder to get than the other

3. Leslie Fisher shout out during her presentation


2. Having our shirts scanned and presenting SCANAPALOOZA#2 

1. Expanding my PLN on Twitter and connecting/meeting with some awesome educators from NJ, NC, VA, IL and Canada

Here is our #flipgram video that we submitted for the #instagram challenge for Day in the Life of FETC. We didn't realize instagram cut you off at 15 seconds and our video is over a minute. #OOPS! #FAIL If you haven't downloaded Flipgram yet you should. It is so easy to use and it makes slideshow creation a breeze. You can even add music :)! 

The Florida sunshine decided to peek out just as we were getting ready to board our plane and head home to DC! #sunatatimelikethis

Thursday, January 23, 2014

FETC 2014 and Twitter

I am not sharing anything TOO techy tonight just my excitement for #FETC (Florida Education Technology Conference) and my newfound love for #twitter!

First let's start with FETC! Last year was my first time attending this phenomenal conference in Orlando, Florida. It was by far one of the most amazing professional development experiences that I've ever had. I learned enough from Leslie Fisher, Adam Bellows, Kathy Schrock and Hall Davidson in the opening Tech Shoot Out to be happy to pack it up and head home BUT it was a jam packed 3 days full of tech overload from some truly creative and talented educators from around the globe. Not only was the conference a huge learning experience but the weather was great and we spent a day at Disney World and an evening at Epcot.

Meghan, Derra and I presented SCANAPALOOZA, a concurrent session about QR Codes integrated with the highest levels of Bloom's Taxonomy! 

We had hot pink shirts made with QR Codes on them that linked to our video. The presentation was a huge success and we got tons of positive feedback. I can't wait to share our SCANAPALOOZA #2 presentation at FETC and will be posting it on the blog when I return! This year our color is LIME GREEN (not my choice but I won't get into that)! 

This year when we were given the opportunity to submit a proposal again the deadline got away from us but luckily FETC extended it and we were able to pull SCANAPALOOZA #2 together! Our proposal was accepted and we are off to sunny Florida again on Monday to attend and present at FETC! I am super excited for the opportunity to present and learn alongside of some of the nations most tech savvy and innovative educators! Tell me HOW YOU use QR Codes and what would you like to learn if you were attending our session?

Now, about Twitter! I have had an account for months, well actually years and I haven't done much with it. I used it to enter contests and I would occasionally check out the #edchat BUT I never really "got" Twitter. I did a lot of observing and not too much engaging or interacting UNTIL recently. In anticipation of #FETC I started spending more time on Twitter and NOW I AM OBSESSED! I have already learned so much in the few days that I have really been participating and made some connections with other techy educators. If you don't "get" Twitter, I would encourage you to give it a second chance and find some #edchats to participate in and other educators to connect with.       

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

5th Grade QR Code Scavenger Hunt

Happy Tuesday and snow day for lots of my blogging friends! I hope you kept warm as temperatures across most of the country were below zero! I was rather productive today and had an awesome free day! Against all rules I am posting a SECOND blog today. 

I spent most of the afternoon working on a 5th Grade integrated QR Code lesson (math and social studies)! I used QRStuff to make the QR Codes, Google Map Distance Calculator to find the distance between the places and a site for conversions, call it cheating or time saving! Click each image to be taken to the website :)!

Here is the finished QR Code Scavenger Hunt which I will print and display around my room!

Here is the recording page that students will use as they work through the scavenger hunt. 

If you are interested in doing this activity with your students leave a comment and email and I will happily share the original files! You can always adapt and make changes so it will work for YOUR students :)! 
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