Thursday, October 30, 2014

ELC High Scool Chrome Cadre

High School Chrome Cadre members have been busy at ELC. With our implementation of Chromebook carts this year and going 1:1 next year, these staff members have been spending roughly an hour each week discussing and working together to ensure success with our 1:1 initiative.

On Wednesday, they helped teachers understand the works of Google Classroom. With staff at many different levels of knowledge and usage of "GC", our Cadre members took one area and helped our staff dive in. The staff rotated around and were able to get the instruction they needed. Thank you to Mr. Hewitt, Mr. Leonard, Mrs. Condon, Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Wheatley and Ms. Schnoes for all their time and efforts! It makes my job as a district wide technology integrationist a little easier.

Enjoy the pictures of our Cadre at work!


Friday, October 3, 2014

It is a Mindset, Not an Age Thing

Image Credit: Google for Education Newsletter
Many times as I work with adults I hear them say, "I am old and it is hard for me to learn these new technology things or I am too old to do this or yadayada." I don't believe it is an age thing, it is a Mindset.

Are you willing to open your mind and see the world that our students live in? Are you willing to teach today's student in today's technology driven society? Are you willing to let go of your old practices that you used 5, 10, 15 years ago?

Check out Sister Rosemarie DeLauro (pictured on the left), who has been teaching for more than 60 years. I received the 1st ever Google for Education Newsletter a couple of days ago and she is the educator spotlight. Age doesn't limit you but your mind does!

I understand that it is not going to be easy and flawless. It is okay to take risks and make mistakes if it is going to better our students' learning. Relax and enjoy the ride. Our students today have so much to contribute to the world they live in. Give them opportunities to Create, Collaborate, Communicate with the World!

Check out how Google Classroom is being used in her school here.

Sign up for the Google for Education Newsletter here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blogging Excitement is in the Air at Estherville Lincoln Central Middle School

(Cross posted at

Blogging is a powerful medium within our education system. So many things can be learned through blogging. Students use blogs to reflect, tell a story, share their learning along with giving them a voice. Blogging can be used at any grade level and in many different ways.
It was about 2.5 years ago that I as a Business Education teacher fought to get Blogger unblocked in our school district.  I wanted them to blog about their projects and reflect on their learning. I wanted my students to have an authentic audience and write for the world. I struggled to understand why they would not open it up for my students. I almost gave up.

Fast forward to April 2014……
It all started in April of last year when Mrs. Reeves, a 5th grade teacher asked about using Kidblog with her students. So we started to have conversations on what that would look like and experiment with the website. We talked about what she wanted from her students and the blog. I remember having the discussion about do we open the blog up for the world to see or do we keep it just within the classroom? This can be a scary jump for teachers to open their classroom and go beyond their four walls. We decided that her students too needed an authentic audience to write for, so we decided to open it up. She introduced it to her students and started having them blog and comment within their class blogs. We also began to talk with her students about the purpose of a blog and how to comment and write posts. The students enjoyed their short experience with the blog and some even wrote on their blogs over the summer! Can you say AWESOME?!?!

Amazing things are happening in Mrs. Reeve’s classroom. She is innovative and ready to interact with the world. Last Friday Mrs. Reeves came to me and said I spent over an hour approving comments from students from around the country! I said what? Do you know these people? She said no. Tears came to my eyes (and I am not kidding), I was so excited and threw my arms in the air and yelled “YES!” She is active on Twitter and tweeted her blog along with the hashtags #geniushour #5thchat and whola!

Her students are participating in Genius Hour and are blogging about their passion projects. Other classrooms from around the country are helping them by providing feedback and questions concerning their projects.

The comments are amazing! In a 36 hour time frame, some blog posts had 15+ new comments on them. The students are excited. Even students who are normally not assertive went to Mrs. Reeves and said, “Mrs. Reeves, you have to see this, I have comments on my blog.”

And what is really cool….
Other teachers are hearing of the good news and want to begin the journey! Other 5th grade teachers are wanting to start this process. The 6th grade team has begun blogging also and I cannot wait to see how these other blogs take off!

You can read Mrs. Reeves and her students blogs here. Her students would love to hear from you! You can also follow Mrs. Reeves on Twitter here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just the Beginning......

Well, it has been a while since I last posted on my blog and many cool things have been happening here at ELC!

At the high school, we now have 5 carts of Samsung Chromebooks. Although we had some network issues during the first few weeks, we feel we are making progress and making the necessary adjustments to rectify these issues. So I want to brag about what some of our teachers are doing!!!

Image Source: Eric Sheninger: @e_sheninger 
Mrs. Wheatley (English Department) has been using the Chromebooks from day 1. She has a big project going on in her Advanced Communications class that has the students creating an online portfolio of their work. What a great way for them to showcase what they are learning and who they are. This is definitely something they can use beyond their years at the high school. She is also piloting the Chromecast to see how that will work in the classroom. This will definitely make her mobile as she is teaching instead of stuck back in the corner.

Mrs. Turner (Science Department) has her Biotechnology students doing some great things also. She created one Google Presentation and shared it with the class. Then the students were to add their information to the presentation and place the contents in chronological order while all collaborating on the same document at the same time! Students were put in charge of their own learning and will be teaching each other on the various concepts!

Mrs. Hanson (Spanish) reviewed with her class using a website called Kahoot! This proved to be a great way to actively involve all students in her class and reviewing for an assessment.

Ms. Schnoes (Business Department) has just started using Google Classroom with one of her classes. She is also piloting this to see how it can benefit our students.

We are starting a Chrome Cadre here at the high school where a small group of teachers will get together once a week to work on all things Chrome. I am very excited about this group and know it will greatly benefit our teachers and students.

I know there are many other teachers doing wonderful things and I will continue to update you on them! I am so proud to work with the teachers here at ELC. Many are very willing to try new things to enhance their student's learning.

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Reflections ~Choose2Matter LIVE! ~ Estherville, Iowa ~ April 17

First and foremost I have to thank the leader of our district, Tara Paul for making this all a possibility. When Angela Maiers first came to ELC in January, she spoke of Choose2Matter and many thought this would not be possible in Estherville. BUT Mrs. Paul believed in our students and community and pursued the opportunity! I am honored to be a part of her staff and believe that we are headed in the right direction!

It is really hard to put into words what took place over those 2 days. It was awesome to observe 1500+ students, staff and community members working on passion projects TOGETHER!

As Ms. Maiers was opening the day with her keynote talk, I looked around wondering, "Is this really happening here at ELC?" What a special and powerful day our students get to be a part of. I believe it is very important that we give our students the opportunity to work on these types of passion projects whether it be through an event like this or a genius hour.

As I look back to this WONDERFUL day, here are some of my thoughts:
  • The day really wasn't about the projects although we had/have great ideas and things our students are continuing to work on after the fact.
  • It was about
    • Being Brave - tears come to my eyes at the bravery of some of our students! WOW!
    • #YouMatter - Each one of our kids by the end of the day had a t-shirt with their genius on the back. Each student hopefully left the day knowing that they do matter and they can make a difference.
    • Their contributions to our world can make it better! Our students have the power to change the world. Each one of them is a masterpiece and special in their own way! Together we can make that difference by using each other's genius.
    • Collaboration
    • Creation
    • Communication
As I sat in a very special place one day and the speaker said, "Turn to your neighbor and tell them they are a masterpiece", I barely kept it together! I truly believe that statement and the #Choose2Matter event just reiterates that. 

We have many students that do not believe they matter and it breaks my heart! Somewhere along the years they have stopped believing. How do we keep this fire lit? As teachers, we can play a big part in keeping the fire burning.

Our kids here at ELC are amazing and they all matter. They can and will make a difference.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Guest Blog Post by my Daughter: CHOOSE 2 MATTER DAY 1

Choose 2 matter day 1
It was a very fun day for all of us.  all of you had fun too. Today was a important day for everyone.Everyone discoverd their genius and what their good at. The kids came up with ideas to help to help all sorts of things. they got to pick their group that matters to them. everyone came up with good  ideas to help the world. everyone mattered.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

8th Grade Final Projects

Well, it has been awhile since I posted and I have been SUPER busy which is AWESOME! In my last post back in February, the 8th grade students were just in the planning stages of their bullying projects in connection with their novels. As promised, here is the link of the 8th grade projects that were put together. These students did a really nice job and some projects were out of this world! For many of these students, it was their first time putting together a multimedia project of this nature. They had used PowerPoint before but not much more than that.

I am proud of what these kids accomplished and they have only just begun to create! Mrs. Larson took a huge step out of her comfort zone to let me help these kids create and the results were great! These kids used a tool of their choice to inform their school, community and the world about bullying and the harmful effects.

Again, here is the link to their AWESOME projects!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

8th Grade Bullying Unit

Breaking Point
Shadow Club
Over the last couple of weeks I have been working with Angela Larson's 8th grade Communications classes on their Bullying Projects. Between the four classes there are two novels that they are reading, Shadow Club and Breaking Point. Students work on their novel and activities one day then their projects on the opposite days. I took one class period and explained some of the tech tools they could choose to use. I gave them just a couple minute overview and did not go in detail step by step. I believe they just need a little exposure to the tools and then they fly from there. Here is the list that Mrs. Larson and myself compiled. Students were not limited to this list and if they chose to do something different they just needed to get permission.

Classroom Agreement
Inappropriate for Projects
The Goal of the Projects: To allow students the opportunity to apply what they have learned about bullying and inform others in our school, community and the world. With the goal in mind, students are now creating and collaborating with each other while putting together a masterpiece that can be shared with the world. The students are really doing a great job of being creative and collaborating on these projects. Each student took a survey and then the class discussed the results. We want the project tailored to our students and what actually happens at ELC. Here are some pictures of the survey and brainstorming that went on before they were able to actually begin working on their projects: 
Survey Students Took

Survey Results
I am so excited to see the final projects. We will be sharing them with the world from our school's Facebook and Twitter accounts along with me posting to our blog. I think our students can be great advocates to end bullying. Here is our first step to help end the bullying that happens everyday in our society.

 More to follow......

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

App Speed Dating with the Elementary Staff

Wednesday's professional development ROCKED! Let me tell you how this all fell into place.........

A group of nine elementary teachers (including the principal and myself) attended the iPad Summit in Minnesota on February 1. Check out my blog post about it here. We learned so much and came back with some awesome ideas! One of the ideas was having an App Speed Dating Professional Development time where our staff could learn from each other. So we put together 7 stations where we had an expert (one of our very own teachers) teach the staff on how to integrate an app into their classroom. Each station lasted approximately 8 minutes and then teachers rotated to the next station. At the end teachers were able to collaborate with each other on how it would look in their classroom.

Here are some pictures:

Overall I think it went awesome and our teachers were thrilled about what they had learned and they had FUN too! Is it okay to learn and have fun at the same time? I THINK SO!

If you were a part of the App Speed Dating PD on February 19, please leave me your comments about the day! I would love to hear from you!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Apps in Action

After our iPad Summit, I had the opportunity to visit with one of our teachers, Brandi about some of the apps she learned about and is already using with her students.

The apps she is experimenting with include:

FETCH! Lunch Rush!
This app works on basic math skills. Students have to scan a code to see if they answered the math problem correctly. You will need to download the codes in order for this app to work. You can find them here.

This app allows for students to create tutorial videos or explanations of their work. Students then can view other students' videos and collaborate on them.

Awesome to see new learning embedded in the curriculum. iPad Summit MN was well worth our time. Be on the lookout for more apps and ideas we learned while attending the summit!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflections from the iPad Summit MN

Saturday was a great day of learning for a team of teachers from ELC! We spent the day at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, MN at the iPad Summit. The summit was put on by Flipped Education. The summit was "gamified". We had the opportunity to earn digital badges and stickers throughout the day. So fun! Something that could definitely be done with our professional learning or with our students. They used a free service called "Credly" to award the badges to attendees. I was able to earn 4 digital badges and 4 stickers.

We started the day off by listening to the inspirational Jennie Magiera. Her focus on was on the outcome of learning and not the device. We need to let students create. This is a great way to empower our students. As teachers we can differentiate so that our students are not embarrassed by being a low learner. What a great way to increase the confidence in our students. She also touched on giving our students a voice. We can give our students a voice through blogging and video creation to name a couple.

After the keynote, Jennie Magiera, we were fortunate enough to have time to attend four breakout sessions. Once again it is always hard to pick from the breakout sessions because there are so many great ones available. My favorite session was titled "Layered Learning". David Freeburg from St. Paul Public Schools talked about using the iPad and layering apps for more complex learning. Our challenge was to pick 3 apps and create a layered learning experience. My idea was for teachers that use PWIM strategy. Students would use the camera on the iPad to take a picture of something around them could be inside the school or outside of the school. The students then take the picture and use Skitch to annotate the picture with the vocabulary words. Then the students use Book Creator or My Story to create a story with their words. You could even add another app Drawing Pad for the students to create their drawings for their story. Think about a way you can layer your students learning by using a variety of apps to create complex learning.

So many things to be excited about and I can not wait to share our learning with the staff at ELC. I was fortunate to be surrounded by 7 other teachers and an administrator that were just as excited as me. If you are interested in any of these ideas, let me know. I would love to work with you!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Highlights

Well it has been over a month since I blogged. This post will be highlights of the month of January!

1. Elementary teachers at ELC are doing great things with technology! In the past week I have spent most of my time between the elementary buildings helping students and teachers in using Google Drive, conference projects and iPad/Apple TV applications. After leaving professional development I was so excited about the things they are doing. Hopefully I will have some things to share with you in the next week!

2. Angela Maiers visited with our district staff this month! AWESOME! There were so many things that we can use in our daily teaching. Our teachers are incorporating parts of the things she talked about including genius hour and I Matter projects! I am just beginning to read her book Classroom Habitudes and am very excited to continue reading and learn from her.

3. Kevin Honeycutt spoke in Storm Lake and our district leadership team was able to be in attendance! He too was AMAZING! His website is full of resources for our students and teachers. He also introduced us to his other website Artsnacks. There are great resources here for incorporating art into the classroom.

4. Techie Tuesday is up and running again. We have had two sessions; Using the Google Chrome Browser and Haiku Deck. This is a great time to experience new tools. Reminder Techie Tuesday is run every Tuesday beginning at 3:45 in the Online Learning Center.

5. I started a new group called "Google Group". Here we are just focusing strictly on Google tools. We have met just one time where we talked about the Chrome Browser and Chrome Extensions. So many cool things that Google does for us! I am working on a schedule of meeting times for this and will get this to you as soon as I know.

6. Our technology committee has begun to look at devices for our 1to1 initiative. We are bringing in the following devices to look at: iPads, Chromebooks and Netbooks. A select group of high school teachers and students will be part of a pilot group that will use these to find out the pros and cons on each when used in the classroom.

Lastly, it has been a great ride so far. Many things that we can be proud of at ELC. We are moving in the right direction and I am very excited to be a part of it!