Monday, June 10, 2019

I haven't been on the Honor Roll Since High School.

If you'd believe it, I was a bit of a hard worker in High School. I lived on the honor roll and graduated number 11 in my class, but after High School was over, I never gave the Honor Roll much thought.

My work ethic didn't stop when I left school in fact, if anything, it grew in strength. This school year was no exception. For my EdTech life, I found myself away from home volunteering or working about 15 times for anywhere for one to three days at a time. For my job as a Staff Developer, I worked my standard contract, 185 days, plus an additional 196 hours of overtime. That equates to 26 days.

For all of this, I am incredibly exhausted and grateful. This has been one of the most challenging school years of my life, managing the needs of teachers, budget cuts, and my husband and I bought our first house in January (thank you over time). I've had to say no to opportunities with friends and family during this past year all for the career I love, and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I must say I am very happy for summer break so I can recharge my batteries.

I woke up Sunday morning, my third day of summer break, and started my regular routine. When I sat down with my cup of coffee to swipe through my notifications, I saw the following tweet.

At first, I was confused. Why was Jen tagging me in this retweet? So I clicked the link and there in the 11th spot of the Honor Roll I saw my face. I almost did one of those tv sitcom spit takes. I had no idea about this. This was published on June 5th, and I was clueless.

Everyone in education has their sweet spot. My husband works at an Elementary School and loves it, my good friend is a new Teacher Librarian and is kicking but even in her first year. For me, I thought my place was high school, but after 6 years working with adults, I've found mine. I love specializing in pedagogy-first technology integration to enhance practice & student achievement. I'm so grateful that my travels with EdTech have helped me pursue my passion for inspiring others to share their stories & skills through technology. Best of all, I'm so happy that I can share the vision that technology needs to be implemented equitably to provide all students access and opportunity.

I am so lucky to be able to do all of this, and to be highlighted for my efforts is never something I expected. To be included on a list filled with other wonderful educators and EdTech enthusiasts perfectly punctuates the 18/19 school year.

Thank you EdTech Magazine for recognizing me.

P.S. If you're interested in seeing me IRL I'll be at #ISTE2019 this year. Click here to see where I'll be for #ISTE2019 and beyond.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reshma, 60 Minutes and #CSforAll

I've seen the 60 Minutes piece shared quite a bit already today and it really bugged me that a piece focusing on women in tech didn't feature actual women in tech or anyone from the many organizations working to close the gender gap. I know 60 Overtime features an interview with Bonnie Ross, a Microsoft corporate vice president, but I didn't even know Overtime existed and if you don't visit their website you won't see that feature because that's not what's shown in the actual nationalized TV program.

So when I saw the following piece from Reshma, founder of Girls Who Code, I found myself nodding along as I read. When I visit the Google campus, there a men every where, women not so much and you certainly don't want to get me started about hispanic women. Getting girls involved with STEAM and Computer Science isn't just about early exposure and early exposure isn't going to fix this problem at Google or other tech companies. It's about supporting and helping girls see themselves as a professional in that career.

This is something organizations like Girls Who Code and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) do every day throughout our country. I've seen these programs change girls lives first hand. It's a shame 60 Minutes didn't share that story.

I encourage you to read Reshma's response to the article. Better yet, if you share the piece from 60 Minutes, share hers right along with it. #CSforALL

Erasing Women in Tech: How 60 Minutes Ignored Women’s Voices, Stories, and Expertise

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Adventures in NV and AR Part 1

The Silver State Technology conference was wonderful. Any time you get to meet other individuals interested in things you are is a great event. Even if people don’t agree on how to implement technology, it’s always exciting to discuss ideas and learn with others. Friday night opened words from Dr. Jesse Welsh Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Professional Development for the Clark County School District. One thing he shared that I was so happy to see was a screenshot of an article about the digital divide that persists in Maine despite their statewide laptop program. Dr. Welsh shared this not to discourage technology use, but rather to remind us, that educational technology will only perpetuate traditional teaching styles without proper professional development and teacher support.  This isn’t the article he shared, but this is a story from NPR about the laptop program.

Admittedly, I called it an early night and didn’t get stay for the full friday night event. I was nervous about the keynote. This was the first time I would be keynoting to an audience this large, there were over 150 people registered for the event. About a year ago I presented my keynote to some of the teachers at the Norwalk La Mirada Unified School District, but this was a much bigger event. The next day I woke up early to get prepped for the big keynote. I went in to do a soundcheck and make sure all the tech was working because I wanted to make sure nothing would get in my way of sharing my message of TechEsteem. I won’t spoil the keynote, because hopefully you’ll get to see it live one day, but in super short summary I talk about educational technology and how despite challenges, we can harness our TechEsteem to persevere. People who believe in TechEsteme believe we can learn how to use technology for the betterment of education and that our learning can grow and develop over time. True to from, despite the sound check, the sound went out on one of my videos. It could have been a horrible moment, but I just ran off stage and turned up the volume. Kyle also came in with the assist too. It was a #BetterTogether moment for sure. Surprisingly it felt like a planned moment in the keynote, but it wasn’t. Although it was a nice moment to model what TechEsteem can look like.

The event was a great success for Nevada CUE and it was such a pleasure to work with the amazing teachers of Nevada. I’ve always loved visiting the state, I even got married there almost three years ago, and after the amazing conference I have so many new reasons to visit the state. I stayed in the city and enjoyed relaxing on Sunday for making the drive home. When I got home, I unpacked and went to sleep pretty early because I was so tired.The next day I woke up to several texts and messages making sure I was ok. I groggily responded not fully understanding what was going on until after I turned on the NPR Up First Podcast and heard the news.

When it comes to what happened in Las Vegas, well it’s such a complex topic and I know no matter what I type it won’t be enough. I do believe that our country can do more to prevent gun violence and help victims of gun violence. I just hope I’ll get to see that happen. I couldn’t go give blood, (less than a year old tattoo), but what I could do, did and continue to do, is call my government officials to let them know I believe this is a problem worth addressing.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Drop and Give Me Clicks

I know education doesn’t need another acronym, but I’m a big fan of the SAMR model. I think it’s a great way to help teachers think about using technology in the classroom. The thing about the model is, it can often be misinterpreted so I find it really important to help teachers and school sites think critically about SAMR and how it can be implemented in the classroom.

One of the biggest misconceptions of the SAMR model is thinking about redefinition. So often that is set as the be all end all and it’s not. If you watched the vlog you maybe have been thinking, why is the sticker for her SAMR training a cairn? It’s because it’s a reminder for balance on many levels. It’s about balance among the sections of SAMR, between analog and digital activities, individual and teamwork, lecture and collaboration. There isn’t a single one of these things that should overrun a classroom. I wanted the sticker to reflect that and hopefully remind the participants of this message.

As far as the Google Bootcamps go, I have at least one level 1 or level 2 bootcamp scheduled a month to help get more teachers Google Educator certified. Last year I hosted several one bootcamps, but this past week I hosted a level 2 bootcamp to help some level 1 folk move on to the next level. I’m also really excited that individual school sites want all their teachers Google Level 1 Certified. One thing I’ve noticed is even though we’ve been a G Suite District for years there are still many people at the basic level. I think I’m going to create a Google Basics Bootcamp for our district too. Then internally we’d have three levels teachers could potentially progress through.

It’s a short vlog, but a lot happened and more great stuff is on the horizon! Don’t forget you can still sign up for the Silver State Technology Conference and connect with CUE NV on Twitter and check out my interview with Peergrade:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

& We're Back, to School That Is

This vlog was a unique one in the sense I didn’t provide any additional voice overs for the Snaps. I felt a lot made sense on it’s own but I thought I’d still blog a bit about the content.

The all staff PD day (complete Snapchat Story) was quite an undertaking and so much of the planning and preparation you didn’t see because it was done behind the scenes and by a varied group of departments. With something this large, it was only natural to get other groups involved. Plus our department, while a provider of PD in our district, doesn’t hold a monopoly on PD. It was so great to be able to work with teachers that were interested in the SAMR model and help classified employees learn about how they can use Google in the classroom. My hope from the day is that staff I worked with now have another resource or two to help them in their position.

The snaps you see of staff using the HTC Vive were from an exploratory session to begin looking into how we can use the the virtual reality tool in the classroom. There are also some fun snaps from the office just showing some random happenings. One of the things I’m trying to do more this year is get away from my desk during lunch and whenever possible I bring others with me. I think it’s a great way to de-stress, disconnect from technology and get to know others in the department better. While we all work together, sometimes I feel like I barely know my coworkers and I like to change that. So for me, it starts with food but if you know me offline, that’s probably not a surprise to you.

The last major thing covered in the vlog was my short reflection from my first meeting with Renee Hill. While she worked in the district I always admired and looked up to her. In some ways, I was always a bit intimidated by her, but that was never something of her doing. She has command and presence, she’s the kind of person you pay attention to because you know she knows her stuff. There is no her, and that can be scary but a great challenge. When August began to wind down I knew Renee was who I wanted to call for help. I knew she would tell me like it is, and not sugar coat it. With something as important as an opening keynote, I didn’t want lip service, I wanted to know if the keynote sucked. Luckily she liked the first draft and provided great suggestions to help make it even better. I’m excited to keep working with her and I can’t wait to see what we create together.

Don’t forget you can still sign up for the Silver State Technology Conference and connect with CUE NV on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pre-Back to School Happenings

We’re back for the next installment of the blog and I’m coming in under the Tuesday wire, but I’m glad I was able to get it done. Having the video and blog aspect together is a great way to keep me motivated and posting. Thanks for checking in here on the blog and don’t forget to watch the video.

The first set of Snaps comes from the C3TC 2017 Conference that I got to participate in thanks to EdTechTeam. As I said in the vlog, I started my journey with EdTechTeam and really the road to being the coach I am now, years ago as an attendee at a summit. I attended an event in Napa, California and came back inspired to continue learning and sharing with others. That process eventually gave me the confidence to become a local presenter and technology coach for my district. One day an EdTechTeam employee approached me about working for them at an event and since then, I’ve been presenting for them almost on a monthly basis. What I love about working with EdTechTeam is these events are the ultimate iron sharpens iron situation. I’m always surrounded by so many phenomenal people, that I can’t help but learn from them. Whether it’s their presentation delivery, content or innovative ideas. I always return home from working energized and bucket full, and this event was no different. I was so lucky to be able to learn a lot about working with iPads, Seesaw, and Flipgrid. What was also great about this event was just seeing the other presenters. These events are like a family reunion, and this was no different.

A lot of what’s been going on in the department lately has been preparing for teachers to come back to work and August PD day. What you saw in the vlog, though was a bit different. This preparation was specifically for our Elementary Grade Level Leads and Technology Mentors. This is the first time a training of this scale has been undertaken and for the unified purpose of empowering grade level leaders with the skills to enhance their PLC. It was great to see teachers from so many schools across the district get the same information about important subjects like the new California dyslexia guidelines (AB1369), technology integration and adult learning theory. I’m hoping we continue events like this and we get to continue to be involved. One counter point about this, however, is I only got to be involved with the elementary training. Due to miscommunications and schedule conflicts, I wasn’t able to be apart of the secondary event. The good news is the footage from the Elementary PD wrap up is from a self-created inter-department PLC for staff developers. I have hope that meetings in this PLC will help foster collaboration in our district and closed the gap between the multiple departments and staff that provide professional development for teachers.

I think some of the other fun gems from the footage are simple presenter tips that I can pass on to others.
  • Have teachers sit by grade level or content area, especially when sites are mixed. Help push people towards collaboration and give them the opportunity to work in groups so hopefully, this can continue beyond this specific training.
  • When you can, tag team a PD with another presenter you trust. Having a colleague from my department there to help share the load, saved my voice and provided additional perspectives to our learners.
  • If your learners need to respond in an app, have them read something useful, like the California ELA/ELD Framework, important article or useful in district document.
  • Specifically, with technology remind teachers it’s embedded in the standards or in other district initiatives.
  • When attendees are walking in, play music, but not just any music, play stuff people can sing along to. I’m enjoying the Songs to Raise Your Kids to playlist on Google Play right now.
  • If you’re filming sections of your PD and your participants don’t want to be on camera, film the slide they are responding to, that way you get their awesome comments but respect their privacy.

Also, just like the in the vlog, I’m curious what’s your favorite back to school thing to do? Leave your thoughts in the comments and I’ll see you in two weeks for the next installment.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hello World aka the First Vlog

Welcome! As you can see blogging hasn't been my strong suit. So to build in the more reflective piece of the Vlog and going to come here and do a write up of each episode.

One important thing I reveal in the first episode is my struggle with my personal feelings about my job last year. I'm happy to report that I feel cautiously optimistic about this school year but I'll get more into that when we get to the section of the Vlog with the staff meeting pictures. If you're interested in learning more about last year, click here.

First up in the Snap footage was a short bit from Raspberry Picademy.   This was an amazing two-day learning experience hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Part of the academy was an emphasis on physical computing and not just exposing students to computer based coding. It's really about digital making and getting students hands on components to create with hardware and code. I'm currently working on creating a digital ink name tag with a Pi that I’m hoping to debut at the Silver State Technology Conference in September. As a former high school English teacher the one thing I struggle with when in comes to Pis is how to successfully integrate them into the curriculum in a way that is authentic and not just an extra. I can see these work great in science, makerspaces and of course computer science, but I still struggling with the humanities connection. It’s something I hope to continue to explore as I continue to meet and collaborate with other Pi users both in and outside of education. If you’re using Raspberry Pis, I’d love to know what you’re doing with your students.

Another cool professional development I attended this summer was the California Google Geo Teachers Institute. It was such a fun time to be able to attend the Institute because Google Earth for the web had just launched along with the new Google Earth Education website. It was great to get to dive deep into the suite of Geo Tools because it wasn’t something I had ever really looked at before. I had dabbled with My Maps but it was great to get to explore tour builder and some of the geeky sides of mapping with KML files and ODKs. I’m excited to work with the History staff developer in my district to see where we can integrate these tools into our district curriculum to share the stories of place and time. Hopefully, I’ll have more to report on that late. Oh and this event finally gave me the push to purchase a Theta 360s. I can’t wait for it to come in so I can start sharing pictures of my world.

Although it was a half day event the California Teachers Summit was a great event. I really liked that the structure of the event was the same regardless of the satellite location. It was so nice to connect with teachers from the region and chat about topics that are important to us. One of the things I realized while at the conference was the importance of not just connecting and working with other teachers, but letting out local and state government know what we need to be supported. I encourage you to check out 5 Calls to see who your representatives are and let them know that protecting public school funding is important to you.

The LEAPS event was a week long conference for students in public service or law enforcement career pathways to come together to learn more about professions in the field and to practice 21st-century skills. I was only part of it for a day, but I helped students learn basic web design principals and create a web page with Google Sites. They were using them to promote a Shark Tank style presentation. It was a quick 3-hour experience, but it it was fun to interact with students. I’d like to take the content from this presentation and adapt it into something I can do again with more students or adults at conferences.

I spent some time prepping things for Breakout Edu this year. We’re going to continue with our district lending library but we had to replace some locks that died during the year. Normal wear and tear, but hopefully this year our lock graveyard won’t be as full. One thing I’ve learned is it’s important to change the locks as few times as possible to avoid accidentally messing it up. This is especially true for the speed lock. For the upcoming year, there will be either a card or the printed directions with the lock codes inside each box. The other thing we are going to do is not let people take locks out of other kits. We’ll have extra locks on hand if a game requires extra, but the locks in box A will only ever be with A from now on. I think when people went into other boxes to borrow locks when they put them back, they forgot to say what the code was so it was easy to get things confused.

Last but not least there were some Snaps from an all day department meeting. In the meeting, we went over our department vision and goals for the year along with our assigned projects. It was nice to have a clear mission from our department leadership. I’m one of those people that needs to have a clear purpose for what I do to see it as valuable. So this was a welcome meeting. When we got to the sticky notes part, I got a bit worried, there are 7 sticky notes that belong just to me, one of which actually has five sub stickies. Then there are 7 sticky notes that are shared between myself and another technology coach. It’s a bit daunting. I’m excited in many ways because many of these things put me in direct contact with teachers, but I just want to do it well. I don’t like to not put forth my best effort so time management will be big this year.

Our district has invested in the idea of the Gallup Strengths and we talked quite a bit about that at our department meeting too. I’m hoping that will help me with the workload for the year. My top five strengths are relator, command, significance, activator and deliberative. We spent time learning about our strengths and the strengths of other on the team. It seems like this won’t be a one and done type thing so I’m excited to how this progresses and I’m personally excited to use this as an opportunity to grow. The strength I’m going to focus on first is deliberative because one of the qualities of a deliberative person I don’t have it thinking more before I speak

Overall I think all of this is a great start to the year and I’m excited to get going. Fingers crossed I can keep up the vlogging and reflecting to see how all of this turns out. If you go back on the blog I’m sure you’ll see many failed attempts to keep this updated, but I’m hoping I don’t fall into bad habits.

If you have ideas for future vlogs or have feedback feel free to let me know and don’t forget to get connected!