Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cool Tools 2016

Just before Thanksgiving break I had the opportunity to attend a special CUE Board dinner with one of my teammates, Josh Harris. We arrived a few minutes late, so there were only a few open seats left at their table. It just happened that one of the seats left was towards the end of the table next to the fabulous Lisa Delapo, one of the co-presidents for EastBay CUE. It was awesome finally getting the chance to meet her and hear about the amazing things happening in and around East Bay.

During our dinner conversations, I learned about an upcoming event, Cool Tools 2016. Not only did the awesome name catch my attention, but hearing that Jon Corippo will be their opening Keynote speaker, I was sold. All I could think about was, "How am I going to be able to make attending Cool Tools 2016 happen?" I wasn't quite sure. Especially since I just registered for CUE's Rockstar TOSA Camp, and I knew my husband wouldn't be thrilled about another big conference.

Before I could even think of a plan of attack, I received a direct message from Lisa on Twitter asking if I would be willing to submit a proposal to present at Cool Tools 2016! I was so honored to be asked to submit a proposal and I knew this was my ticket to attend, so that same day I submitted my request to present!

AND I am excited to announce... 

I will officially be presenting at Cool Tools 2016 on Seesaw! Whoo-hoo!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Hour Of Code 2015

Are You Ready?? 

The Hour of Code holds a special place in my heart. The first time I was introduced to the Hour of Code, I was in the midst of teaching a complex science lesson when my Principal walked in with the Superintendent and her crew. As they walked around and observed our lesson, I noticed our Superintendent was waiting to talk to me, she wanted to ask me a question... And that's when I heard those THREE words for the first time, "Will you be participating in the Hour of Code?"

Wait... what? I must have looked like a deer in the headlights. The Hour of Code? What is that?? I had no idea what the Hour of Code was nor did I want to admit that to my Superintendent! Thank goodness my shock quickly faded enough so I was able to smiled and uttered something coherent back. Later that day, I glanced at my email to see I had an awaiting message from our Superintendent providing me information on how to sign up for the Hour of Code. Needless to say, I hosted my first Hour of Code event back in December of 2013. I reached out to our local community college and had one of their web design professors come introduce my students to HTML code. It was such an amazing experience! An Hour of Code that I will never forget! Now fast forward two years...
Email Blast

We are in full swing planning and organizing Hour of Code events throughout our district. I am luckily enough to be apart of a small, informal planning committee to support our staff. We created an email blast to send of EVERYONE in our district about the Hour of Code is coming! As apart of my Monday Tech Madness sessions, we will be offering THREE different Monday Sessions to provide teachers training and hands-on support for activities to use for the Hour of Code with their own students. Check out the jammed packed presentation for Hour of Code Resources here! This slide deck was created with an idea to provide MORE than enough resources to host the Hour of Code event and provide teachers with a digital lesson plan. Teachers can make a COPY of the slides, then delete out anything that will not apply to their Hour of Code Event. Now they have their own personal presentation to use during their Hour of Code event with their students! Hopefully with this model, we helped minimize the time required to plan and host an event with the hopes more teachers will jump on board this year!

Please feel free to share this resource with ANY and ALL teachers!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Second Annual Solano GAFE Summit

Click HERE to view slides

Our district hosted the second annual Solano GAFE summit this past weekend, November 13-14! As always with any GAFE Summit by Google's Ed Tech Team, the event was a blast!!! From enlightening keynote speakers, advance sessions to time to network with others, the weekend flew by in a blink of an eye.

Besides attending fabulous sessions lead by Susan Stewart, Lisa Highfill, and Donnie Piercey, I had the opportunity to share out about Seesaw. If you haven't had a chance to take a look at Seesaw, I highly recommend checking out what Seesaw has to offer! The slides in my presentation showcase different examples of the types of items students and teachers can add to digital journal with Seesaw. Participants had the opportunity to join one of my classes as a student to add items. I assigned everyone the task of taking a "selfie" and adding details to their selfie which included writing their name on their picture, recording their voice and adding a typed text caption. To warp up my session, I showcased the teacher dashboard and view on Seesaw.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Technology infused field trip

Towards the end of September, I was approached by one of my Kindergarten teachers about helping to arrange a field trip to the fire station for fire safety. OF COURSE I would! Now this might seem a little outside of my scope of support as an Educational Technology Specialist, however my husband is a fire fighter for the station near her school, so it didn't surprise me at all! It took a little begging to my husband because the field trip would include ALL SIX TK and Kindergarten classes! Thankfully my husband and his crew were up for the challenge!

Each class was schedule to walk to the fire station, take a tour through the station, observed a quick demonstration with their fire gear and have an opportunity to climb through the fire truck or engine. My husband thought all of that could occur in 10 minutes!!! We all got a good laugh out of that!! We scheduled 45 minute time blocks for each class, which was perfect and gave the students enough time to explore and ask questions!

Link to View
It wasn't until the weekend before the tours were scheduled, I decided to take a pre-field trip tour while my husband was on duty with my own two children. We parked our car in front of the school, timed how long it took us to walk to the fire station (7.5 minutes) and captured a couple pictures to highlight the tour. Later that evening, I created an informational flyer for all the TK and Kindergarten teachers, which I emailed to them. I loved this idea because it highlighted the trip and I was able to embed a few fire station vocabulary words like Apparatus Bay or Ap Bay for short for the teachers. Click the link below the picture to view


On the morning before the first tours were scheduled, another CRAZY idea popped into my head! What if the students took what they observe and learn at the fire station back to the classroom to showcase their experience? The field trip could be a jumping off point for additional learning activities! Students should be able to share their experience with others, and I knew the perfect way to incorporate their iPads into this!


Last year, a couple of my Kindergarten teachers at this same school created an easy digital project about their field trip to the farm. We used the free App, Shadow Puppet Edu to select pictures (actual pictures the teachers took with their phone on the field trip and pictures of the student writing on paper about the farm) and recorded the students' voice sharing about the farm. At that time, each teacher only had 18 iPads, not enough for each student. This year, many of the classes are close to 1:1 student to iPad ratio and a couple of my teachers at this site have intergraded Seesaw into their classrooms, which is a true game changer for the classroom!! You definitely need to check it out, if you haven't heard about it! Seesaw allows students to create and share their learning with a digital journal!


Back to my CRAZY iPad idea, I had my own son create a Shadow Puppet Edu video with the images I took from our pre-trip to the fire station. It was so cute, that I immediately shared this with the team of teachers who would be touring the fire station with an email. Click here to preview the email and watch his teaser video!


2 out 6 of my teachers took the bait and wanted to enrich their field trip tours with a project to showcase their students' learning experience using their iPads.

The original plan: Our first plan involved the teachers taking pictures during the fire station tour. We would use air drop on the iPads to share the pictures from the teachers' phone to the student devices. Once the students had the images, they would select the ones they wanted to talk about and create a movie about their tour of the fire station. Fabulous idea to incorporate digital story retelling of their real experience!


This original plan would have been great, however, the night before the tours, I received the BEST text for one of the teachers which was the best surprise ever!

"Part of me wants to bring the iPad's with us and have the kids take their own pics LOL BUT THAT WOULD BE CRAAAAAZY! right?! Haha"

Immediately I was so excited!! There was no denying this idea AND so it happened! Kindergarten students from two classes walked to the fire station, holding their iPads to capture their experience touring the fire station from their own point of view!! It was fabulous! ALL the students were engaged in the experience, the tour, capturing images throughout their field trip!


Once the students arrived at the fire station, we took a picture of each student in front of the station's 9-11 Memorial site. Firefighter Shaun met the students out front for a short introduction and lead the students through the fire stations. Students captured their own pictures as they toured the station, including the front office, their bedrooms, living area and kitchen. Next they ventured out to the apparatus bay for a demonstration with Firefight Shaun. The highlights included calling 9-1-1 for help and to call out for help. Firefighter Shaun put on all his structure fire gear, including his mask and air tank. The students all captured a picture of him all suited up. Last, each student climbed up into the fire engine and had their picture taken! Not many people can say they have toured a fire station, however these students have the images to share their experience with the world!


If you've ever worked with kindergartens, you know the struggle to keep their attention and focus on task at hand, however, that was NOT an issue with this project! Each student was so excited to retell their tour of the fire station.

 Link to Field Trip Student Video
The following week, both teachers explicitly taught how to create their movie with the whole class. This helped provide students with a model to follow. During centers, students used Shadow Puppet Edu to create their digital story, retelling their fire station tour. Students selected their images from their field trip, then recorded their voice on each picture. Students were provided the following sentence frame to begin, "Hi, my name is ____ and I took a field trip to the fire station." Then the students shared information about each picture. We were AMAZED at the details each student recalled. Click HERE to view one student's video they created with Shadow Puppet Edu that was uploaded to Seesaw.

Next time you're planning a field trip, I hope you remember this video project and find ways to incorporate technology into your students' experience too!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bugs Below!!!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to help introduce the programming concept of bugs and debugging to a fabulous group of Kindergartners! This class has been learning the basics of programming through sequencing arrow codes with Kodable for the past few weeks. They learned that computers and their Fuzz Friend aliens are not very smart and need their help because they only know how to read a secrete "code" known as arrows. They have been giving their Fuzz Friends the code to travel through the mazes. This activity will help extended their basic understanding of sequencing, create a connection between an idea they already know to a key concept of problem-solving and programing.

Bugs! That's a BUG! 

We began this activity by having the students "think" about a time they made a mistake. After a few moments to think, I shared an example with the class. It went something like this, "One day, I was writing my name and wrote the wrong letter. I made a mistake! Everyone, what I did I make?" The class responded with, "You made a mistake!" I continued to build the excitement in the room. I asked if anyone wanted to share a mistake they had made with the class. After my first volunteer, I had the class respond to their idea by finishing my statement. I repeated the students mistake, "When he spilled his milk, he made a ______!" The class all joined in to finish my statement with mistake. Before calling on the next student, I introduced our concept for today's activity. I told the students, in programming when there is a mistake we call that a bug! So I changed my sentence frame to include this concept. Instead, I said, "When he spilled his milk, that' a BUG!"  We continued to let students share examples of mistakes or problems. After each example, I repeated the mistake and the students responded with "That's a BUG!" This really helped the students develop a strong connection that in programming the word "BUG" means a problem, mistake or error! In programming we need to find bugs and fix them. When we fix problems, we call that debugging!

Next we played a video on debugging by on YouTube. Check out this video here! After watching the video, we introduced the Debugging: Sequence and Algorithm level in Kodable. The students were all excited to see the "bug" in the maze. Our introduction activity helped the students gain an understanding to why their was a "bug" in their maze and they knew their was a mistake that they needed to find and fix in their code.

During centers, all the students had an opportunity to continue working programming their alien Fuzz Friends through the mazes of Kodable!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Using QR Codes in the Classroom

Have you seen QR codes on products in the store? How about on your fast food cups and bags from the store? Flyers in the mail? QR codes have been showing up everywhere. Where have you seen them? Should they be used in the classroom??


QR codes can serve many different purposes in the classroom. 

QR stands for Quick Response. Once a QR code is scanned with a QR code reader, the embedded content in the QR code is instantly shared. QR codes can be linked to online websites, videos, contain audio and text information. QR codes can be linked to anything related to your classroom.

Do you have a classroom website? You can create a QR code for your website to send home to parents to easily scan your QR code to access your website. Do your students produce digital work? You can create QR codes to share their work. These QR codes could be printed and used to make a bulletin board. Do you want integrate technology into your classroom with a fun, engaging activity? You can link reading or questions to QR Codes which require your students to scan the QR code to discover their assignment. These QR Codes can be printed on a handout or posted around the room for a scavenger hunt!!

Making your own QR codes are easy! In Monday's Tech Madness session on using QR Codes in the Classroom we explored two different options for creating your own QR codes. My personal favorite is using the website,! This website allows you to paste links to any online site or type your own content to instantly create your own QR code. You can easily change the color of your QR Code and download the QR code image to easily be uploaded into any word processing program. Another easy way to create your own QR codes is using Google's URL shortener and clicking on details to access a QR code for your website.

There are many FREE QR code readers available for iOS and Android devices. If you have iPads, I highly recommend using QR Code Reader by Scan to have students scan QR codes. This App works well and does not contain Ads like other options I have tried out before.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Coding with Kodable

With so many things going on in the world of Educational Technology right now, I've lost track of time and have forgotten to make time for blogging! I need to start making blogging a priority and continuing to document and share my journey.  Last week I was busy everyday, from team teaching and demo lessons to attending an all day conference head at the Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco! What an AMAZING experience!!! Common Sense Media rocked their first Teacher Institute!

Link to Slides
Even though I have been slacking on my blog posts, I am rocking my professional development goal for myself! This year, I am trying to provided weekly, hour-long, technology related PD opportunities for any and all teachers in my district. Anyone can sign up and come learn about a new tool, concept or strategy for free. This week's Monday Tech Madness session was on coding with Kodable! Check out the slides here! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Building your PLN with Twitter

This week's Monday Tech Madness session focuses on how to build your professional, or also known as personal, learning network (PLN) with Twitter! Our district is encouraging all schools and teachers to jump onto Twitter to share what is going on in classrooms around our district!

Besides sharing out ideas, activities, and resources, Twitter is a great place to find others sharing just like you! Educators are on Twitter sharing ideas, connecting with each and learning about new tools. Twitter chats are great opportunities to share and learn from others on topics that interest you! Don't forget to check out #FSUSD and #FSEdTech to see all the fabulous things happening in our district!

Click here to check out the presentation slides! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Visit from KODABLE

If you are looking for a great resource to introduce and teach computer programming to your students, don't forget to check out Kodable! They are now across platforms, and work well on both iPads and ChromeBooks.

Our district started our adventure using Kodable with our KinderReady program during the summer of 2014. We extended the use of Kodable into all TK and Kindergarten classrooms at our seven title 1 schools last fall.

We have decided to continue using Kodable as a part of our district's curriculum options to support our teachers teach and students learn about computer programming through coding.

Why Kodable? Kodable helps introduce and teach foundation coding skills to students at an early age. Students program their Fuzz Friends through mazes by writing codes with arrows with the correct directions. Kodable has greatly expanded their curriculum and now offer great unplugged, or screen-free lesson resources related to computer programming with Kodable.

This morning, I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet the creator of KodableGrechen Huebner and Brie Gray! We invited them to come out to see Kodable at one of our schools and help us better understand all their new resources available to teachers! What a FUN morning it was!

Our Kindergarten students learned to program a human robot to walk across the room! After we programed, Brie Gray, students tested out our code to program students from their class. My favorite part of this activity was that a "high five" activated our code! This really helped foster a deeper understanding for our Kindergarten students. Students were able to connect their unplugged lesson to the purpose of using the arrows in Kodable to program their Fuzz Friends through the maze.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Coding Session TODAY!

This week's Monday Tech Madness professional development opportunity is a teaser session on's code studio curriculum.

Click Here to View Slides
Over the summer our district became an official K-5 affiliate! One of our Ed Tech Specialists attended an intensive training and brought back her knowledge to spread throughout our district! With our knowledge and my own personal experience teaching's code studio curriculum to my fifth graders, I created an introductory presentation that provides the basics of using their K-5 Curriculum in the classroom.

If you are new to's code studio curriculum, you will need to create your account first! I highly recommend creating your account by logging in with Google, if you teach in a GAFE district. Once you have a teacher account, you can create your class account for your students. You will need to add a new session for each account you teach. Depending your students, you have three different login types. With younger students, I recommend using a picture. Older students can use secret words or their email to login. Also, you will need to decide which course would be best for your students. Here is an overview of each course that is helpful in deciding where to you should begin! They also have a Course 4 in Beta and are expanding their curriculum for Middle School and High School students.

Course URL Address 

Students will need to access your course by signing in on your personalized URL address. For younger (and sometimes older students) this step could be challenging since the URL might look something like this:
QR Code links to Section Login

Here are a few steps that could hep make this simpler! Think about creating a QR code for students to scan to take them to their login, or have a buddy class come help your students bookmark the page for future or link the website to your teacher website for students to quickly find! Planning this important step will help make the delivery of introducing's code studio curriculum much easier for you and your students!    

Course Structure

Each course follows a similar design and has 20 stages, or lessons. Each stage is designed to take students about an hour and might contain an unplugged lesson or puzzles to complete online. The unplugged lessons are one of my favorite components of's code studio curriculum. These lessons introduce and reinforce key coding vocabulary and provide students a deeper understanding of concepts. 

Want to Learn More? 

If you are interested in learning more about's code studio curriculum, please click here to find a workshop near you

Monday, September 14, 2015

Shadow Puppet Edu? YES PLEASE!

Have you heard of Shadow Puppet Edu yet?? This App is FREE and has nothing to do with shadows or puppets or bunnies like the App's icon suggests! Do NOT let this App's name fool you! Students as young as FIVE can use Shadow Puppet Edu to create movies!

                          Simple as 1-2-3

Shadow Puppet Edu is a fabulous tool for creating videos from images and up to 30-second video clips. Simply take photos or video footage with your iPad's camera, or add content from other Apps into your camera role then access those items within Shadow Puppet Edu to create your movie. In addition, Shadow Puppet Edu has built content of maps, famous landmarks and more! Once you select your images and/or video clips, you can rearrange their order then click next to begin recording your video!

Once you tap the big green start button, it will pop up with a count down 3-2-1 then you will be recording! The bottom screen will display the recording time in red counter with a pause button.

While recording a "magic" wand will appear as an option on the lefthand side. This will allow you to select an icon that you can tap anywhere on the screen to display. You can also add text and music to your movie project. If you selected more than one item to add to your movie, then you will have arrows to transition to the next image or video clip.

Once you are finished or would like to preview your movie, click the green save! Next, you will see a prompt that will give you a few options, including previewing and continuing to record or start over, save and send your movie directly to Seesaw!

Here is my Monday Tech Madness presentation on Shadow Puppet Edu! This App can be used to help students create and demonstrate their learning! Students can create audiobooks, practice their reading fluency, explain their thinking, and reflect on their work! The possibilities are truly endless!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Online Field Trip to the San Diego Zoo

If you haven't heard about Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum yet, then you must stop reading this post and head over there immediately... then of course you should come back to finish reading this post! Common Sense Media is a gold mine of resources for all Educators, Parents, Families and Kids!

Common Sense Media truly has captured the art of sharing and talking about common sense issues that are at the heart of building strong digital citizenship skills in our students.

Going Places Safely Lesson 

In a previous blog post, Need Help Teaching Digital Citizenship? I mentioned that our awesome district has created a district-wide scope and sequence map that utilizes Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum for all students. We are in the beginning stages of implementing this plan! In a conversation I had with one of my Kindergarten teachers, I came up with an idea to develop a resource to help teachers teach their required lesson from Unit 1: Going Places Safely. Based on Common Sense Media's lesson plan, I created a Google Slides presentation with the intention teachers can glance through the slides, view the lesson plan, print any resources they would like to use and then seamlessly teach the lesson with minimal time spend prepping for the lesson.

Model Lesson 

Click her to view Slides

Since I developed this idea during a conversation with one of my teachers, she volunteered her class to test out the lesson. Last week I had the opportunity to teach this exact lesson in her classroom. I had a blast teaching this lesson with her students!!! When teaching a room filled with Kindergartners, you have to be prepared for anything, energetic, engaging and intentionally switch things up every few minutes to keep students focused on your lesson.

We began this lesson sitting on their carpet. I introduced our lesson and had students immediately thinking about trips they had taken with their families. We quickly had students turn to their partner. This classroom uses "Mac" and "Cheese" to assign roles when working with partners to pair-share their ideas. These students haven't even been in school for a full month yet, but they have already grasped the routine for pair sharing! Such an important and essential routine necessary to promote collaborative conversations in the classroom.

Next, we took our imaginary field trip! We had students stand up to act out our actions together. It went a little something like this, "Going on a field trip! Gotta put on our jackets. We have to put on our backpacks and walk to the bus. Once we get to the bus, we have to climb up the stairs. Once up the stairs, we have to walk to our seat. We have to sit down. This bus sure is bumpy. (Students pretended to be experiencing a bumpy ride). Phew! We finally made it! Gotta stand up, walk off the bus and down the stairs. Once down the stairs we have to wait inline for our ticket! Now that we have our ticket, what do we need to remember to keep us safe?? Once there, we had students sit back down to discuss important rules to keep us safe.

Since today, we were going to be taking an online field trip, we watched a movie about Jeremiah's online neighborhood. The students were so excited about Jeremiah's experiences on the computer. After watching the short video, we discussed what we saw in the video and reviewed Jeremiah's three rules for going online. Our Kindergarten students used the App, QR Code Reader by Scan to scan a QR Code that was linked to the San Diego Zoo's website. (Created with and Google Docs)

Even with the best preparations completed before a technology lesson, there is always a risk that you might run into a few glitches... And this lesson was no exception! Unfortunately when this App was pushed out to her classroom's iPads, the App did not load correctly. Once we discovered this issue, we quickly switched to an unplanned plan B! We announced that our bus BROKE down, and that while it is being fixed, they could go explore another App on their iPad, Starfall FREE!

After a few problem solving fixes on the computer, I was able to get the QR Code App working for most of her iPads. We switched students from Starfall FREE onto the QR Code App, where once the students scanned the code, they immediately arrived at their field trip destination: The San Diego Zoo!

Online field trips are FUN! After exploring around at the San Diego Zoo, students were instructed to push home, and flip to show us Apples! This is a classroom management strategy to get students to quickly switch from one activity to the next when using their iPads. Since these cases have a circular hole on the back that allows you to see the Apple logo on the back, teachers tend to transition students with the words, "flip and show me Apples" or with other cases or older students, you could say "flip and lock" when you need students to focus on you or transition to the next activity. We had students travel back to the carpet to end our lesson with a class discussion about their field trip!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Using Number Pieces with Seesaw

As a fifth grade teacher, I used to have my students use Number Pieces, an App by Clarity Innovations to create, visualize and model problems. They now have a web version for Number Pieces as well! Last week, I was asked by a teacher, if I thought Number Pieces could be used to demonstrate fact families in her second grade classroom...

Sample of One Student's Work

Of course it can! 

Number Pieces is an excellent App to have students manipulate pieces to create models to demonstrate their understanding of mathematical concepts!

So today, I helped introduce the App to her students for the first time. These students were amazing! We gave the students the task to create a model of a fact using Number Pieces for the fact family of their choice.

We introduced the App by quickly showing her students how to drag pieces on their screen to construct their model. Students then discovered one their own how to change the color of their pieces and add numbers to demonstrate their fact family! I am a strong believer that teaching students how to use a tool should be integrated into an activity. Students will explore, learn and master how to use a tool when they have a real purpose.

Once students had modeled their fact family, each student screen captured their model by holding down the home and lock buttons at the same time to take a picture. Next, students opened their Seesaw App to add their item from their camera roll. Students found their picture, added their voice and text to finish explaining their fact family. What a simple, but easy way for students to demonstrate their understanding of fact families!

Click here is one student's example of their fact family they submitted today into their journal on Seesaw!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Popcorn Letters were Popping!

A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to witness another fantastic letter activity during center time in a Kindergarten classroom. This teacher had prepared bags of "popcorn" filled with letters for her students. During the activity, students pulled out a popcorn letter, found the letter on their alphabet sheet and colored in the popcorn. The students were so excited to find "Letters" of popcorn! So much better than routine letter practice drills.

After viewing this activity, I turned to my good friend Google and Pinterest to search for this activity. Here is a link to Sommer's Lion Pride blog post where she shared her version of the activity for FREE!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Parents Missed Back to School Night?

In today's world, everyone always seems to be busy running all around town... From dropping kids off at school, running to work, picking kids up from school, errands, sport engagements... The list can go on and on...

With my own son in Kindergarten this year, my own life has taken on a new level of busy! Thank goodness I've had a few years of practice with lesson planning and organizing schedules, otherwise I think our family would be coming unglued right about now! However, trying to be in multiple places at once is still a challenge for any parent.

With families becoming increasingly busy, attending important events at school have become even more challenging. What if we can help families feel apart of these school events even if they can't physically attend? Now with the help of technology, families can be more connected than ever, if we take advantage of it!

How do you take advantage of technology to connect with families??

In a recent conversation with a past colleague, she shared a brilliant idea with me! Why don't we record our Back to School Night presentations for families who are unable to attend in person? This allows parents to still feel apart of their child's classroom even if they couldn't attend due to a variety of reasons. Better yet, what about that new student that comes mid-year... How amazing would it be for that student's family to feel apart of important parent nights? Next time you host a parent night, consider asking for a volunteer to record the event. You can upload the recording to Google Drive, YouTube, a class blog or website... What a great way to help families become connected to your classroom!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

iPads + QR Codes + Math = Learning is FUN!

Before the school year started, I had the opportunity to introduce myself and a fellow Educational Technology Specialists at one of our site's staff meeting. During our introduction, we passed around a sign up sheet for twenty minute appointment slots to discuss any technology needs with us. The following day, we returned to meet with teams and individual teachers to discuss their selected topics. During one of these appointments, we scheduled dates to come introduce iPads to all the first grade classrooms.

Monday was the day! We ventured into three different first grade classrooms ready to get our hands dirty with iPads! We started our day off with a few challenges, but those are to be expected time to time with technology. The first activity we had planned was using QR Codes to scan sight words. However, once we scanned the code, it displayed an network error.

Thank goodness we had a back up plan!!! We ran off to the office to make copies of a second activity that I had planned to use closer to Halloween! Note to self.. Always test QR code activities download from online before using them with students!

We used a QR Task Cards Halloween Beginning Addition activity created by Teaching with Technology and Fun on Teachers Pay Teachers as our activity to introduce students to their set of iPads. This activity was AWESOME! Once you download the activity, all you need to do is print sets of QR codes for students to share and a record sheet for each student. For our lesson, we paired up students to share an iPad to complete the task, which I highly recommend since this encourages students to collaborate together. They took turns scanning the QR code and worked together to record and solve each problem. The academic conversations were naturally occurring as students progressed through the QR Codes.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

BIG Goal Update: Monday Tech Madness

Click here to view presentation

is Coming Together!

If you have been following my posts on here, you might have noticed that I have been able to keep up with my first goal so far! We are almost one month into the school year, and as promised, every MONDAY there has been a professional development offered related to TECHNOLOGY! Let the MADNESS continue! The schedule for all of September and October has been created and soon more professional development opportunities will be posted on our district's PD Place this week. A few up coming topics include an hour teaser on Code Studio by, creating videos with Shadow Puppet Edu, building your PLN with Twitter, Coding with Kodable and Using QR Codes in the classroom!

Today I spent a lot of time preparing my presentation for tomorrow's topic, one of my favorites, Google Classroom. I have an hour to introduce a room full of teachers to the fabulous world of Google's Classroom! Last Friday, I was talking to my boss about this upcoming session, and I loved her response... an hour is just enough time to give them a basic understanding, while at the same time enough to make them dangerous. Why do I like the sounds of that so much? Hmm... Maybe it's because I agree! Once teachers get their feet wet into the world of Google Classroom, there's no turning back. The power of digital communication, assignments, and grading forever transforms the classroom environment!

To be continued tomorrow... My computer time is up for today because dinner time is awaiting me!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thank You for Popping in!

Back to school time is often a very busy time for everyone! Teachers are preparing classrooms, planning, creating lessons, attending meetings and professional development trainings... While students and families are preparing for the new school year, shopping for new clothes and supplies, adjusting schedules and enforcing routines that may have been less structured during the summer. Usually within those first few weeks of school, teachers welcome families into their classrooms to learn about the upcoming year with a Back to School Night

This year, I had the opportunity to attend my first Back to School Night as a parent! After many years hosting a Back to School Night for my students' families, I had the chance to sit back and listen to my son's amazing teacher's presentation. From the moment we walked through her door, we felt welcomed. We were asked to sign in, provide our best contacts, picked up papers that included her welcome letter, Kindergarten standards in kid-friendly language, and a flyer about the importance of reading. All things that I normally included in my yearly presentations as well! 

During her presentation, her passion for teaching clearly shined through as she discussed routines, classroom schedules, expectations, curriculum, and how their school's No Excuses University philosophy will be incorporated into their Kindergarten classroom. All essential and typical pieces of information presented at Back to School.

However to my surprise, her presentation was concluded by passing around a gift for each family. She handed us all a bag of popcorn with a message saying welcome and thank you for "Popping in" to her classroom! A simple, but meaningful gesture to show her appreciation for coming! Such a sweet idea... Wish I would've thought of that!

It's amazing how simple acts of appreciation usually have the biggest impact on others! To express our gratitude back, the morning after Back to School Night, we woke up extra early and stopped at a local donut store on our way to school. I let my son pick out a donut for his teacher and her entire team. We rushed to school early to drop off their donuts before school started. While handing out their doughnuts, we expressed how we thought they might enjoy a treat to help them find more energy that morning. Since I knew the morning after Back to School Night was always a little more difficult to get up after a late night at school! In the midst of these conversations, I realized that we could've made cute little tags saying "Donut" you know that this will be a great year!" Hopefully next year, I'll be one step ahead and we'll deliver their donuts in cute little bags!  

It's only been a couple weeks into the year, but I can already tell this is going to be a great year... filled with new events and maybe even a couple of "bugs" that we'll have to debug!! I can't wait to see what this year has in store! Keep following me on here to find out! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Need Help Teaching Digital Citizenship?

Common Sense Media's Curriculum Scope & Sequence

Today's Monday Tech Madness was on our district's adopted Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense Media

All Classrooms Need Digital Citizenship

View Presentation

This piece of knowledge for students is essential for successful technology integration into the classroom and for all students to have a solid foundation to thrive in our digital, 21st Century world! A team of educators from our district worked together to create a pacing guide for all students to receive education on digital citizenship based on the scope and sequence provided by Common Sense Media. We are using the FREE lessons created by Common Sense Media to drive our instruction. Their lessons focus around an essential question, with solid learning objectives, Common Core alignment to standards, key vocabulary, teacher guide to lead conversations with materials and even family resources!

In this professional development session, we shared our district's pacing guide, reviewed and discussed the importance of including digital citizenship curriculum into every classroom and viewed the structure of the lesson plans on Common Sense Media. This is the presentation used during our session titled Monday Tech Madness: Digital Citizenship

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Letter Hunt with QR Codes

Looking for a fun way to introduce letters and iPads to your Kindergarten students? Check out this great FREE activity from Emily Haskell on Teachers Pay Teachers, Uppercase Letter QR Codes!

On the fifth day of school, I had the opportunity to team teach a lesson to introduce students to their iPads. We started off by talking up how special their class is to have iPads for each student. We talked about about how expensive iPads cost and the importance of being safe, responsible and respectful while using our devices.

I prepared a simple display of pictures to show students our activity using Notability. (Click here to view) We played up the treasure hunt for letters to get the students really excited for their task. Then we modeled, modeled and modeled our expectations. Students were then dismissed to their table seats. Students woke their iPads up, searched for our QR Code App and opened it. We used QR Code Reader by Scan because it is free and doesn't have pop up ads like other QR Apps!

Before we dismissed table groups to hurt for letters around the room, we modeled again our expectations, including a few none examples to make sure they would remember our expectations. It went something like this:
  • Stand up, push in your chair, and then pick up your iPad with both hands
  • Next walk around the room, watching out for our friends, remembering to always hold our iPad with two hands
  • Once you find a QR Code, you must aline the QR Code to the square on your screen
  • After it scans, it will reveal your letter, and you walk back to your seat to sit down
  • Our iPads are placed on top of our name tags, then we use our highlighters to trace the letter
  • Once you're done, we tap the X to close the letter and repeat the above steps

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Monday Tech Madness

Today is not only the first Monday of the school year with students in our district, but it is also the first session of Monday Tech Madness! 

Monday Tech Madness is a concept I envisioned towards the end of last year. After many conversations with my supporting teachers, teammates and friends, the concept become a planned goal for this year. Every Monday, there will be an hour long professional development opportunity for teachers centered around technology. Since these sessions are only an hour, each topic will be carefully selected, with the goal teachers will become knowledge and gain confidence to use the skills and tools discussed each week immediately in their classrooms. They will also have the opportunity to work closely with their Ed Tech team and reach out for additional support within their classrooms after each session.

With more teachers having greater access to technology, I felt it was essential to address key components of a successful technology integration classroom during our first few sessions. Our first session will introduce one digital workflow management system that allows students and teachers to create and share digital work. Today's solution is Seesaw, a digital learning journal, that can be used to help teachers manage digital work with students as young as five! 

Here's a link to the slides for today's professional development! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

O-FISH-ALLY a Kindergartener!

Found on Teachers Pay Teachers
The first day of Kindergarten is always filled with mixed emotions! This day is unique from other first days of school. For some it is their FIRST first day of school. For others, it is the FIRST first day at a new, bigger school than their preschool. The air is filled with excitement, joy, nervousness, and possibly a mix of anxiety by all (teachers, students and families). There will be smiles, tears of sadness and excitement expressed by both parents and students, which by the end of the day are hopefully all smiles of joy. The first day of Kindergarten marks an important milestone in the lives of our children and families.

At one of my school sites, the teachers celebrated this important first day with a small snack bag for each student with a special message, "You are o-FISH-ally a Kindergartener!" This simple gesture brought huge smiles to each students face. What a cute idea, that I had to share here!

Get this FREE template on Teachers Pay Teachers by Brooke Bleasdale to use with your class! 

What's Your Weekly Schedule?

As a classroom teacher, your schedule is usually created for you with maybe a little flexibility, but not much. Things such as students arrival, subjects taught, recess, electives and computer lab (if lucky enough to have them as a prep time), lunch and dismal are all predetermined. I was used to that structure. I knew what to expect each day and I could create my lesson plans accordingly. I need that structure in my life, without it, I feel lost, disorganized and without a purpose. To me, life without structure is like a leaf in the wind.

Life as an Ed Tech

Life as an Ed Tech in our district does not inherit the detailed, schedule structure of the classroom teacher. We are handed guidelines to our schedule, which entailed our assigned school sites, our contracted work hours with a thirty-minute lunch break. Now to a classroom teacher, I already can hear people cheering and screaming the word, "FREEDOM!!!!" Yes, we have the freedom to create our own schedules. I'm sure many people would love this flexibility and freedom, but personally it gives me anxiety!

For the past seven years, I've lived in a world where I was able to plan, even backwards plan, my entire school year. I had pacing guides to help guide my instruction, and a daily schedule that provided the structure for the content of my day. Now, I found myself staring at my blank lesson plan book without a clue where to begin. And yes, even as an Ed Tech who truly utilizes Google calendar, I couldn't resist the free lesson plan book from Lakeshore. I am planning to use both this year, but my lesson plan book will become more of my life planner to include work and home events.

My Solution 

As the new school year was approaching, my anxiety about my daily schedule grew. I needed to create my own structure within my guidelines to calm my fears. Since I have seven schools, I couldn't easily give each site the same time each week. I thought about rotating the days of the week I visited each site, however that was quickly ruled out. If my daily schedule changed every week, would I be able to quickly communicate my schedule or would my sites and teachers remember when I was available for support? No, that would've been too confusing. After brainstorming, I finally stumbled upon a solution that I'm very happy to try out this year!

This Schedule is Golden

With this schedule, it gives me a sense of direction. Every Monday, I'll start my day at the same school. This site is one of my schools that has already implemented 1:1 iPads in TK and Kinder. Every classroom follows the same early half day schedule, where students are dismissed at 11:50. I can meet with teachers in the afternoon, or plan and develop future Professional Development trainings. I have set a personal goal to offer district wide professional development every Monday afternoon. With this schedule on Mondays, it provides me the opportunity to have built in time to prepare. For Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week, I will alternate every other week which schools I will be visiting. This schedule creates a predictable pattern for myself, and my teachers that can easily be remember. Also, when deciding which schools were assigned on Wednesdays, I selected two of my schools that have early release on Wednesday for collaboration and planning. I intentionally selected schools with this planning time in the afternoon, so I will hopefully have more available to help in planning and collaboration with these teams. Lastly, I left Friday unassigned for two big reasons. First, our team meetings are held on the first and third Friday's of the month. Second, this gives me time to follow up with teachers that I might have needed more time with during the week. This day allows me to have flexibility to meet the needs of my teachers without missing appointments due to team meetings. This schedule has provided me with the structure I needed to feel ready to provide support to my teachers. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Back to School with Tech

As the last school year came to an end, our Ed Tech Team joined together to offer back to school professional development trainings for teachers in August. We created a vision of a mini-tech conference held within our district for teachers. We wanted to provide a variety of options for teachers to select sessions across two days. We wanted teachers to have flexibility to select topics and times that worked for their schedule. Each day was broken into 3 session and each block had at least 3 options to pick from, for a total of 18 professional development trainings related to technology, in addition to curriculum trainings offered during the same days. This allowed teachers to come for one training (2-2.5 hours) or select multiple sessions to get a full day of training. Our team created a plan and worked hard to make this vision come true!

Our Planning Session (May 2015)

A group of us met together to brainstorm important topics that would be most beneficial to cover. We each started with a stack of sticky notes to write out ideas. We used our office doors to post our sticky notes. Next we read through all the ideas and organized the sticky notes into categories and groups, by similarity and complexity of the topics. We used a Google Doc to record this structure. Once shared with the group, each team member selected topics they would create the content for our presentation. Again, we shared and collaborated on our presentation with Google Slides. A few weeks later, we met again to discuss the progress and planned out a schedule for August.

The BIG Day 

During the first day, August 4th, I was given the opportunity to present three different sessions, for a grand total of 6.5 hours! (Now you don't know this yet, because I haven't been blogging about my life yet, but that was over 3 times the amount of back to back professional development training I've ever presented before!) So this was a BIG DEAL to me. I felt it was a do or die experience, either I could manage training adults for a full day or I was going to have to reevaluate EVERYTHING and jump back into the classroom where I knew I was comfortable and successful with students. Thankfully, I didn't die and I am still here to write about this experience! And actually... Overall, looking back on that day, I am feeling very proud. 

Here are links to view all the presentations from my sessions with descriptions of each: 

  • Session 1: iTeach. iCan. iPad 101  Would you like to get going with your iPad this year? Come find out how to use your iPad in the classroom to help you teach. This session will be designed for the iPad beginner. You will learn general functions and troubleshooting tricks. You will learn multiple ways to utilize the camera, wallpaper, folders and gestures for teaching. You will learn the basics between AirDrop, AirPlay, and Apple TVs in the classroom.You will discover ways to maximize the settings on the device to personalize it and how to keep it up to date.
  • Session 2: iCreate. iSmash. iPad 202 Are you looking for new ways to use your iPad in the classroom? If so, please come to find out ways to get geeky with your device. This session will be designed for the intermediate to advance iPad user. We will begin with an overview of technology integration models to provide common language to discuss lesson design. You will learn multiple ways to create engaging lessons through App Smashing. You will have the chance to explore Notability, Keynote, Popplet, Thinglink, ChatterPix, Shadow Puppet Edu and Seesaw. We will review general troubleshooting tricks and management ideas of your Apps. Teachers will also learn the benefits to using iCloud with their work iPad.   
  • Session 3: Capture Student Learning with Shadow Puppet Edu and Seesaw  Do your students still write on paper? Do your students read books? Do you have iPads? If so, then this might be the right session for you! In this session, we will explore how to create simple digital portfolios and movies with the help of Seesaw and Shadow Puppet Edu. These are both FREE Apps on the iPad and Seesaw is now available for ChromeBooks. We will explore the ways students can capture and share their learning through pictures, drawings, text and videos. This session will cover ideas and lessons for students of ALL ages, even as young as 5! Join us to learn how these Apps could change the way your students publish and share their learning!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

BIG Year! BIG Goals! BIG Announcement!

This year, I turned 30! The months leading up to the BIG 3-0 were filled with deep reflections on my life, analyzing my past and looking towards the future. I have decided that my 30th year is going to be the year that I look back on when I'm 70, saying I made things happen that year. 

So here it is, as I am looking forward to this new school year, I am committing myself to many new personal and professional goals. I hope by declaring my top three goals here, it will help hold myself more accountable to reaching them! 

  • First BIG Goal: I am going to develop, offer and present weekly, hour long, technology based, professional development opportunities to any educator in my district. 

This idea was developed last year, after talking to many teachers about what they want and need from professional development. Most of our professional development opportunities occur after school from 4-6 PM. After teaching all day, staying at work until 6PM can seem daunting, especially for teachers with loved ones waiting for them at home. I am hoping by cutting the time commitment down to an hour, teachers will be able to attend easier. With only an hour to deliver content, the focus of each PD will have to be carefully selected to truly build expertise in one tool, idea or concept at a time. During each session, I hope to provide teachers with information that can be applied immediately into their classrooms. 

  • Second BIG Goal: I am going to promote and model the sharing of ideas and resources to foster collaboration between educators.          

As educators, we are always willing to share our knowledge with our students. We use every tip, trick and gimmick in the book to engage our students, develop their skills and foster their knowledge. However, all too often I see educators keep this knowledge they share so openly with their students hidden from other educators. Collaboration among teammates, grade levels, schools within and outside districts and the world are not always pure. Even within my own team, I've noticed behavior that hinders collaboration, communication, and open sharing of knowledge and resources. Why is this? Now I am not out to answer or solve this question, but I'm committed to promoting and sharing my knowledge with others. I want to build collaboration within my district through sharing knowledge and resources to all educators. 

  • Third BIG Goal : I am going to blog about my progress and adventures each week! 

This blog will be about my journey as an education technology specialist that specializes in Kinder Code. That's right... Our district rocks! We have set a goal to introduce every TK (Transitional Kinder) and Kindergarten student at our seven Title 1 schools to coding!!! My job is to help support these teachers and students reach this goal, while using technology integration to promote student learning. Hence the name of my blog: Coding my way through K! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Who am I?

In some capacities, this should have been my very first post. However, if you know me well you would know there's a running joke with my family and friends that I like to do things backwards, I over-plan, overthink every detail, and take organization to the next level. Therefore this blogging idea to the whole world is quite scary to me. Becoming an educational blogger has been a long time goal of mine, but I've never known where to start. I've written a couple posts at the beginning of the year, but struggled to grasp onto how what I had to say would be important to others. 

Now looking back on my adventures since January, I wish I would have captured and documented my discoveries and challenges along the way here. Before venturing into the world of Ed Tech, I had a variety of experiences that lead me to my position today. I began my career as a 5th grade teacher in August 2008 in Fairfield, CA. 

Due to crazy budget cuts, I was pinked slipped in Spring of 2009. Placed on a list... It took until February of 2011 to be offered a temporary Kindergarten position! Of course I accepted, and finished the school year teaching Kindergarten. Since it was a temporary position, I was placed back on the list hoping for full-time position for the Fall.

Early that next August I was offered a preschool position. I was eager to get back into the classroom, even if it was only a part time position. After a few weeks, I had established routines and procedures, started building relationships and loved my students... Then I was offered another position, full-time teaching a fourth-fifth grade combination class. Afraid to pass up a full-time position, I jumped into a new classroom that September. 

Looking back, that was one of my favorite years teaching. I grew so much as an educator and found confidence in my teaching. However, due to declining enrollment, I was displaced at the end of the year. With many other teachers, I was summoned to a middle school to pick positions from a list of open vacancies based on seniority. What an experience... One I hope to never repeat. It kinda felt like I was at a live auction, but instead of items or cars, we were selecting career choices. Luckily, while waiting for my turn I met the new principal of my old school, which helped to solidify my choice. I decided to teach 3rd grade my very first school. 

Again, looking back it was another great choice. After my first year back, I was given the opportunity to jump up to fifth grade and pilot 1:1 iPads in my classroom! My fifth grade class ended up a four/five combination class, but that didn't matter. Teaching was forever changed after that year! I LOVE teaching with technology, and cannot imagine ever going back to teaching without it! Now of course, we stumbled, struggled and learned so much that first year but I will always remember that year and my students! Too bad I didn't know what a blog was then... I would've had many great stories to have shared! 

That summer, July of 2014, I was selected to teach coding using Kodable to students enrolled in our district's Kinder Ready program. This is when I discovered our district's goal of implementing a new program to teach coding to all our Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten students in our seven title 1 schools. The summer program was extended into the school year and became apart of our district's Ed Tech Specialist team to implement and support. I knew from that moment this was something I wanted to be apart of and immediately applied for the position once it became available. I accepted the position the week of Labor Day, but it took until Christmas to find a teacher qualified and willing to take on a fifth grade, 1:1 device iPad classroom! Fast-ward from end of December to now, August 2015... I am about to begin my first full year as an Education Technology Specialist for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

iOS NorCal Summit Rocked!

Say what?

A conference designated towards Google Apps and iPads together? There wasn't a chance in the world I would miss this opportunity to attend the first iOS NorCal Summit. It was decided, I must attend, but just as a participant. I was too afraid to submit to present for two reasons. First, just out of fear I'd miss someone else's presentation and second, would my presentation be worthy?

However... As the time grew near, I was convinced by some of my colleagues to submit a late proposal to present... Sure enough, I was selected! Those two days at the summit were jammed pack with learning! My presentation centered around using Shadow Puppet Edu to capture student learning. (Here's a link to my presentation) My audience was fabulous and jumped right into their task cards to create their own movies! It was an amazing experience for all! I even had the chance to meet one of the creators of Shadow Puppet Edu and Seesaw, attend his presentation on seesaw, and learned about Aurasma.

 Fingers crossed iOS NorCal becomes a yearly conference here in NorCal!