We had just finish a tech academy session (at my district’s annual technology mini-conference) . Walking to the bathroom together one of my colleagues asked me “How do you do it all?” then another colleague chimed in “Yes, how do you? How do you blog and tweet and present?”
I stood in my bathroom, finishing up my makeup. Tears welled in my eyes. My chest moved in and out and I worked hard to breath out the nerves.
Earlier this week I shared with you about the Teacher Talk Live session I was part of about preventing the Summer Slide. An idea that came out of this wonderful time was my daughters and I hosting a Kids Summer Slam …a time this summer when kids could come together and share all the super great things they have done and/or learned this summer. After this ah ha moment during the session I ran the idea past my daughters (probably should have asked them first if they were in), but when I did ask them they yelled, “Do what mommy? With kids? From anywhere? YES! Mommy! We want to!.” Once I knew they were in we sat down, picked a date and time and I started to bring it all together. With final approval and total excitement from my 8 and 9 year old girls we decided Friday August 7th at 2pm CST we would be when we would be hosting a Kids Summer Slam.
If your child(ren) (and you) are interested in being part of this Summer awesomeness share out or even if you are just interested in getting more information on the Kids Summer Slam click here and fill out this super short form. After you complete the form and we get closer to the date, my daughters and I will be sending you more information about the event.
Don’t miss this super fun chance for your kid(s) to connect and share their awesome with other kids! We hope we will see you there…and HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!!!!
Last week I was asked to join Teacher Tech Live hosted by Oscar Staton. “This is a friendly forum education professionals to discuss public school resources, every day hacks, advice and collaboration.” They want their “viewers to walk away with something useful they can take back to their classrooms and make their lives easier.”
The Night’s Topic: The Summer Slide…
I say don’t!
National Teacher Appreciation week has filled my blog stream with all kinds of stories about teachers! Some stories have been about why they became teachers, others have been about what they learned from the teachers they had and some have been thanked the educators that have inspired them. Reading them made me smile. We don’t just touch our students but we have the chance everyday to impact and inspire future educators and each other…but these posts also got me thinking. I have never shared my story. I have never shared why I became a teacher. Here is my story.
. . .
I was so very proud to earn it. That neon orange vinyl belt that went over my shoulder, around my waist. It clipped in the front and held my silver badge. I was a patrol. My first job as a patrol was to hold the stop sign as kids crossed the street (of what I recall was a pretty busy road) then higher powers realized it probably wasn’t a good idea for a kid to do that and an adult replaced us. So then I was given bus duty. My job was to monitor students getting off the bus and make sure they went to their classes. One day that bus came. It was the bus with the students in the special education classes. They were students with significant disabilities (what I would now describe as significantly cognitively impaired and significantly autistic students). I was curious and than eager to help. So everyday I looked forward to an opportunity to assist with getting those students to and from the bus to their classroom (in a mobile classroom, not attached to our school, away from our school and in no way integrated…I know but it was how it was). Throughout the school year my eagerness to help quickly grew into a fondness, a curiosity and a desire to learn and do more with this teacher and her students. So when the school year ended I decided (I must have talked to the teacher about this all on my own. I don’t even remember how it all came together) I wanted to do more. That summer I came back to school everyday during those student’s summer school and helped. Each morning of those weeks I woke up early, got on my bike and rode it to my elementary school (yes, the ride was uphill and it was a heck of a hill). I remember watching her, studying her and falling in love with being a teacher that summer. It was in those moments of that summer that I knew I wanted to be a teacher.
It was that summer that I discovered what I was made to do.
I have been a Star Wars geek for as long as I can remember. Not only does the movie hold incredibly fond memories for me, I really just love LOVEEEE the movies, the characters…the everything. Super Mario Brothers was our first classroom gamification, then there was Angry Birds, so when my students asked me what would be next and they asked me what about Star Wars. I didn’t even have to think.
HOLY WOW….HECK YES!!!
After Angry Birds (which ended up being exhausting, was way more work than I had anticipated and will probably not be played ever again ever again unless it goes electronic) I was ready to plan a classroom gamification game that was individual and not so time consuming on my part. I really wanted a game that would run itself but would also be strong enough to continue to motivate and be fun for my students…especially at the end of the school year! I knew just the game…Monopoly!!! Not only was it a game I had wanted to make one for two years now (yeah a long time for an idea…I know) it could meet all my classroom gamification requirements.
I started by researching names, places, things and ideas (Best Star Wars site…ever!). I wanted to say is true to the game of Monopoly, while allowing it to ooze Star Wars fun! As I started making the board I also knew (from past gamification experience) while cards and some of the extra details that make Monopoly Monopoly would be fun it would also make making the game time-consuming and eventually take the fun away from the game… because it would never get done. So I decided to try to find that balance. I decided to balance the complexities of the game, getting the game actually made and not making it exhausting for me and unmotivating for the players.
The tweet flowed through my stream.
Anyone up for an Easter weekend “Digital Drawing Challenge”?
“ooooooo I don’t know?!! Maybe I could?! I’m not the artist these people are. I don’t draw like they do. I don’t know…but what if? What if I do? It could be a lot of fun! What if my drawing turns out ok? What if it’s awful compared to theirs? What if its fun? What if I do ok?” the thoughts, the words of doubt, the possibilities and the battle for bravery flowed through my head.
“I want to do it ,” I tweeted excitedly!
The link to the challenge came through my twitter stream later the next week. The prompt was inspired by the Wreck In Journal. We would have to digitally create: “figure out a way to attach these two pages together”. Ideas and thoughts for it danced through my head…”Oye, it also had to be digital. I still can’t find my comfort zone handwriting and drawing more complex pieces digitally…yuck. I stink at them. Pages…two pages joined together…hmmm. Maybe I would get my daughters to pick a page from their favorite book and I would find a way to creatively join them. Maybe I’ll just take two pages and join them some how…hmmm. Hmmmm.”
So as fantastic creative peeps and artists (and can I just share how incredibly warm, friendly, supportive and just as nice as a new artist could hope to find in this space) shared their imaginative creations I peaked in on them when I could and I spent time enjoying…. A sister’s night, a birthday and an early easter celebration but even with all that wonderfulness…it left me with plenty of time to come up with an idea and very, very little time to draw it.
When the days finally slowed and time for me finally appeared, I sat down and digitally drew my interpretation of “attach these two pages together”. I decided that my joining of two pages would be inspired by me…be inspired by the me I have been working to embrace all year. I decided to join the part of me I have known for sixteen years, known I have wanted to be since 5th grade and still love to my core doing and being everyday and the part of me that is new, that I am learning to embrace equally and learning to allow it to enhance, infuse, electrify and color my life and my teaching more then it ever has before.
My interpretation of “attaching these two pages together”…
I had so much fun creating for this challenge. While I love to draw, I generally only just draw my characters on the iPad. This challenge gave me a push to create it all on the iPad. I learned that it is more time consuming than my pencil, paper and sharpie creations, that I need to maintain more layers for easier editing later and that I need to (like all things that need practice) create on it more and continue to practice my lettering and lines. Most of all I am so proud of this super fun, colorful joining of the two pages of me!
If you would like to check out these amazingly kind, welcoming, supportive, talented and inspiring artists you can follow them on twitter via the #TodaysDoodle hashtag or here on their Twitter accounts: Marc Bourguignon, Rob Dimeo, Tracy Levasseur, Lilpeanut, Mauro Toselli, Dr. Makayla Lewis and Monica Lopez
Last quarter my students and I jumped into the world of gamification!
Using Super Mario Brothers I developed a classroom “gamified” behavior system. We had a blast! Not only was it fun and engaging, I saw improvement in student behaviors and it really changed me and our classroom too (I have more to say about that but that is for another post). After eight weeks, Winter Break and a quarter change I knew it was time for something new (I am not one to stick with one thing for too long…and I like to change things up to meet my students needs).
Second quarter came and we entered the world of Angry Birds…
Like Super Mario, I channelled my best and wittiest Angry Bird knowledge. I dust off my sling shot and studied up on my Angry Bird lingo.
I started by putting the students into teams (different than Mario when teams were by class period) Team: Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Transformers. Then I used the themes and premises behind the game to create rules. Finally, it was time for the the towers!
Two weeks in and students smile as they destroy their team’s tower and reveal dots (that mean rolls of the dice…the real fun part). As the dice is rolled teammates stand by, watch and cheer as they hope for the much wanted blue bird.
I couldn’t be happier as I watch student skills improve in classes, I hear them cheering each other on (without me telling them to) and knowing that fun is being had while skills are improving, learning is happening and team work is blossoming!
I’ve started this post in my head about ten times.
Then I started drawing this post.
Then I thought about writing it.
Then I started drawing some more.
Now…here I am now writing my post and like most years, in true Carrie fashion I am taking my own sweet time to get my new year goals up and shared.
I am unsure about who to be, what to share, should I share it all, should I stay more mainstream, is it ok to share it all and what this space will offer for people.
I am… lost.
Up until this new year I have had absolutely no problem at all…ever…EVER writing my goals or picking my word for the year. This year I suddenly feel stuck, torn, a smidge lost, but in the best way ever. In a way I could not be more incredibly happy about being lost and totally and completely confused at the same time.
Let me back up a bit…
When I was in 5th grade I rode my bike to school (it actually was up hill…but only one way) every day to volunteer to work with the a class of students with significant disabilities in a special education at my school. It was during that exact summer I knew in that instant that I wanted to be a special education teacher. Since that moment I have always known, to my core, without a doubt, I was made to be a special education teacher.
It was life changing (yes even that early on).
Fourish years ago I started blogging. I found words, a voice and a confidence I had never had before. I found a community with other woman that supported me, made me brave, gave me confidence and helped me heal. It is also a community of woman that taught me to love my words and helped me discover a part of me that loved to create and illustrate graphically.
It was life changing.
Three years ago my educational career changed. The way I taught changed and I changed as an educator. I rekindled a lost passion, I learned to take risks as an educator, I found my voice as an educator and I took hold of and went after my passion to speak at conferences and educate other teachers.
It was life changing.
This Winter Break I decided to pick up sharpies and start drawing. I was nervous and terrified my drawings would turn out awful, but instead I thought they turned out ok and more important then that I absolutely, ABSOLUTELY LOVED weaving my words in with my drawings to create my stories. It filled me up like creating and writing had NEVER done before.
…and suddenly I was stuck! What did I want my goal to be? Keep writing? Keep drawing? Start making cards? Create things for others? Keep presenting? Keep sharing about things happening in my classroom? Start proposing to speak at larger conferences? Keep sharing ideas I had about using technology with students? I know, I know…real hard problem to have Carrie. To me it is, because you see I deeply love all of it but I also know myself and I want to be the best at all I do. I am also realistic and know that to do that it that way takes lots and lots and lots of time.
So I took some time (remember how I said I started this post like four times…now you see why!) I thought about it all. then I decided to talk to my most favorite person and best listener of this rambling, idea spewing dreamer…my husband.
I discovered I could have it all.
I could do it all.
That my goals could still be what I wanted them to be, I would just need to adjust them a bit.
My 2015 Goals:
1. To share more consistently here…more then once a week, more then every other week…2-3 times a week and all of it…my stories, educational stories and ideas and my drawings too.
2. To own, embrace, know, believe that I am an Artist…there I said it, out loud, right here…I’m an Artist…I am an artist…ok I am still working on it.
3. Continue to present, share my educational experiences and ideas at educational conferences but continue at the state level
4. Draw more…a lot more! Make it part of my weekly routine.
5. Open an Etsy Shop…cards, drawings, doodles (oh and my daughters want in too)
Most of all to worry less about being one thing or another. Worry less…about needing to define and express only one part of who I am in this space, to fit in a box and share only one part of me and to not worry about if I am viewed as an artist, an educator, a mom or wife. Instead be all of them, share who I am, share all parts of me and just be me.
A strong behavior modification system with consistent structure and positive reinforcement is just as important as the academics I teach in my class. After 15 years of teaching I bring with me each year a seasoned behavior system that will meet all students learning and behavioral needs. As the school year goes on I tweek, modify and add to the basic system to ensure that all my students individual needs are met and the very best is brought out of each of them. This year in addition to my basic behavior system I brought back my token ecomony Baughcum Bucks. Initially students were motivated by the positive reinforcement that receiving the bucks gave them. They loved earning the bucks, counting them up, depositing them and using them to purchase prefered incentives. By the beginning of the second quarter the fun, the motivation, the reinforcement behind the system began to fade. The connection between the bucks and the incentives were fading…even lost for some. The bucks simply were not working the way I needed them to any more.
It was time for a change.
I began to think back to 5….10 years ago when I used to use whole class, team based behavior systems…the memory of paper die cuts covering my classroom wall made me smile.
Suddenly I was filled with inspiration…finally after so many forced attempts at trying to come up with just the right idea to gamify my classroom. The reminder of a system I had used years and years ago made it all come together.
Starting Monday my students will enter the world of Mario (you have to say it with the accent) and Luigi.
I am so excited to start it with them I could bust. I can not wait for them to play and see it all come together!
In the words of Mario,
“Here we go!”
Blogging is and has been a long time passion of mine. Having your own space. Having a place to share your words, create and connect with other through stories is just the most incredible and fulfilling thing to me.
From my very first EdCamp I was hooked. The vision, the purpose, the structure it is an amazing and deeply fulfilling and energizing experience.
So this summer (yeah yeah…I’m a smidge late on the post but seriously you wouldn’t have read about it in the middle of July) when I heard there was going to be a EdCamp Home 3.0 organized by the uber amazing and leave you in technology awww David Theriault @davidtedu, Karl Lindgren-Streicher @LS_Karl, Kelly Kermode @coachk and Shawn White @swpax. I was all in (plus I just had to see how they were going to put together an EdCamp with Google Hangouts with educators from all over the United Stated). The session idea forms went out, completed by Edcamp Home attendees, collected and the session were formed….on the list of sessions…Blogging. I really couldn’t wait to attend! Any chance I have to talk blogging…creating, designing, theory, ideas, creative sharing, student blogging, teacher blogging … blogging …I’m absolutely and totally all in!
The session were held via google hangouts with other educators from around the United States (yes, it was incredible and yes I was still in awwww) It was more than I could have hoped for and just as equally powerful as the EdCamps I have attended in real life. When I joined the session I expected to be chat about blogging formats, commenting theory, digital citizenship and ideas about what students should/could write about. It quickly became more then that. As quickly as we all could introduce ourselves…. Kevin Ashworth @SLOlifeKevin, Jedidiah Butler@MathButler, KOgden @KOgden97 and Ms. Fagin @msfagin share some of our ideas, the struggle to connect consistently with other classroom/student blogs came up and the idea of creating something that would help classrooms and student bloggers connect took over. #BlogPals was born.
. . .
Now that we are all well into the second half of our semester or into our second quarter, I figure my fellow educator peeps have fallen into their routines, know their students and are ready to get their blog on (see there was another reason for me waiting until now). Classrooms and students are ready to share their voices with more than each other and four walls. They are ready to connect with another classroom(s).
Fill out the form, join the list, connect!!!
Skill building, structured, routine and direct instruction are the foundation of the instruction I provide. My students flourish in structure, in the routine and the predictable. They excel because of the strong focus on student skills and consistent presence of tools to enable them to compensate for their weaknesses. I spend everyday establishing routines, making my class predictable, working on student skills, building academic skills and teaching/training them to use technology to enhance their learning, help them compensate for their weaknesses and access to information. I am excited for the moment when my students are ready to put down the books and start applying all of these skills to a project.
I came up with a project I knew they would love. I gave a detailed expectation, the project requirements, shared the grading rubric and I taught them how to use app I wanted them to use to produce the final product with (we even practiced using it). I was certain that they would be able to independently make a great final product and finish feeling very successful about what they had created!
I handed out the iPads and sat in the front of the room ready to watch and relish in my teacher glory the awesomeness that I had set up for them to experience and feel about themselves.
One hand went up. Then another. The questions started. One after another, after another. How could this be? I gave them all the tools. I had prepared them. By the time the bell rang I slumped into my chair exhausted, defeated and wondering what the heck just happened!
As I drove home that day I couldn’t help but think about that lesson what had gone so not the way I had expected. How, what I thought was perfectly prepared lesson, a lesson I thought would empower them, enable them to be independent …how could it not have gone perfectly? Then it hit me. The one thing….the one part I had failed to remember. The part I had forgotten was that no matter how much I planned. No matter how much I structured, organized, added visuals to things…it is still new. This project had nothing to do with the project and everything to do with problem-solving. This project wasn’t about creating a product but instead was about practicing and applying problem solving skills…this project was about them taking their problem solving skills to a whole new level!
So I decided it was time to take a new approach.
I first “met” Luis Perez while watching him on a Google Hangout session. He was sharing information about the iPad’s accessibility and switch features. I was in awwww….I was inspired…I wanted to know and learn more. I started by learning more about him. I quickly learned that not only was he an accessibility guru, he was an incredible advocate for universal design and accessibility, a presenter, a professor and he is also visually impaired. I began to follow him on Twitter. I wanted to learn from his philosophy, his ideas and the information he shared. I started following him on Instagram and discovered he was also an amazing photographer….yes, photographer! And I could not wait to see him speak when I heard he was presenting at ICE13 where his presentation did not disappoint. His session was full of tips, information and knowledge about Apples accessibility and switch technology. It was during this session that Luis introduced all of us to an incredible young man from Australia named Christopher Hills. Christopher is an Apple Certified Pro Final Cut Pro X, a Level One and an Accessibility Ambassador and he also has cerebral palsy. To say the least these are two people who truly inspire me, challenge my thinking and make think differently.
… that I was going to take Luis’s #iAmMorePowerfulThanYouThink challenge!
Everyday I am lucky enough to have access to accessible technology in my classroom. This technology is the same technology my students use. It is the very technology that I teach with, use to model tools and strategies for my students with and teach them how to use. It is because of this technology that everyday I am able show my students and that they are learning that they are more powerful than you think! Here is my #iAmMorePowerfulThanYouThink video.
Do you know of someone or are someone who has a “More Powerful” with technology moment? Share it online and then use the hashtag Christopher created #iAmMorePowerfulThanYouThink .
It has been too many weeks since I have created on this space. I have thought about it everyday and miss writing and sharing. The school year is off and in full gear, which also means my daughters lives have also become equally as busy and also means I fall alseep on the couch about a half hour into my favorite TV show every night at about 9 o’clock. BUT just because I haven’t been here doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating (you don’t actually think I could go a single day with out creating or writing something?) For weeks…yes weeks… I have spent my evenings (when I am not falling asleep) and weekends working on my newest conference presentations. The first one I finished was one that I have had an idea for since last spring. I was an idea that I worried would not be special enough, innovative enough or meaningful enough to other educators. I worried it was not worthy enough to share. Well, last Friday I had an opportunity to take a deep breath, a chance to keep stepping out of my comfort zone and I decided it was time to shared my ideas.
Last Friday marked the day…the official day. It marked the day I stood in front of other educators and shared with them that I am a hacker and I decided to teach them how to be hackers too!!!
I know. I know. When you think of hackers you think of something like this
By the time I left their school and could not help but smile as I drove home. They were exactly what I needed. They welcoming. They listened. They questioned. They learned. They reminded me…They reminded me of something I had not remembered or owned for a long time. This group of educators filled me up. They had welcomed me. They had welcomed my ideas. They had soaked up my passion and shared theirs with me. They left me filled with a confidence. It was a confidence that reminded me how deeply I love the incredible things technology can do for students, how much I really love learning and how deeply passionate I am about teaching not just my students but others too.
Here is a SNEAK PEAK at my Hacking Google Apps presentation. It is an interactive and clickable presentation packed full of resources for a variety of EduHacker abilities and there will be more to come soon…I promise!