Saturday, January 20, 2018

What I Have Learned, Thought About, and Created: Week of 1.15.18


I have a lot of books that I haven't read through. This year, my goal is to tackle some of these educational books in chunks. One example is Alice Keeler's book 50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom. If I were to sit down and read the book, I wouldn't be able to absorb all the tips as well so I'm trying to set aside some time to tackle just one tip a week. This week, I read tip #50 (don't ask me why I started on the last tip, this is against all rules I have for reading books :)!).  She suggested using Google Forms where students reflect on their weekly progress and what they have been learning. With the autocrat add-on in Sheets, these can be set up to email to parents anytime a new response is added.  I love the idea of this!


I'm reading Conscious Discipline: Building Resilient Classrooms. Chapter 9 is Positive Intent.  This quote made me pause and think. It is so very true.
Wouldn't life, in general, be so much better if we believed the best in others?


For something a little lighter today, I learned that Texas girl does not have clothes designed to stand outside when it is 13 degrees!  My elementary wardrobe has grown with all types of holiday attire (get ready GES, I have already purchased some Valentine clothes as well!), but now it is growing with winter layers as well!


Stick Around App was introduced to me today by my friend, Kerissa Bearce (side note: if you aren't having regular 1:1 PLCs, you are missing out!). The first thing that caught my eye was the Venn Diagram template. I know teachers using iPads have missed the Venn application from Read Write Think. There were quite a few other templates for students to organize their thoughts. I'm looking forward to exploring this further.


I'm a little behind in my Google update emails, but Google blogged about a few minor changes to some apps in GSuite.  There is nothing big in this update. However, I now need to learn about Alt text! 

To add a line or page break in Docs:
Before: Insert > Page break or Column break
After: Insert > Break > Page break or Column break

To add Alt text to a shape in Docs or Slides:
Before: Select shape > Format > Alt text. This option will be removed from the menu.
After: Right click on shape > Alt text. This is the new way to add alt text to a shape.

To change a shape in Slides:
Before: Select shape > Format > Change shape. This option will be removed from the menu.
After: Right click on shape > Change shape. This is the new way to change a shape.

The HTML view in Slides is being removed from the menu.
Before: View > HTML
After: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+P

If you would like to receive updates on GSuite applications via an email, you can go to the full blog post here and subscribe by email!

These are the few of the ways that I thought about this week. Where did you find your learning? Mine came from books, collaboration, and following a blog!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What I Have Learned, Thought About, and Created: Week of 12.18.17


I was enjoying my time talking to a student at school and asked, "What are you looking forward to on your holiday break?" What I wasn't expecting was the answer that they didn't want a break because they were happy at school. At that moment, I knew I should have known better. Not every child is going to have a two-week break filled with family, travels, gifts, or food. Yes, I should have known better but this person of privilege hadn't spent the time I should have thinking about this question before I asked it. I went on to talk to the student wanting to ensure that their basic needs would be met (which I feel confident that they will be) and I realized two things. One, yes, the child wasn't going to have the same holiday I will, but this child was also genuinely happy at school.

This sweet first grader found joy in coming to school. She loved her teacher and she loved learning. How do we keep this going? Is it the child that changes over the years, the content, or the instruction?  How can we transform our schools to where our high school seniors are saying the same types of things as they prepare for the holiday break?

Secondly, we need to remember that school is a safe place for many of our students. They come to school and find someone who cares for them, who loves them, and spends time with them. They are served a hot meal in the cafeteria. These are things that many of us take for granted. They are definitely things I never had to worry about nor my children. I spent some time researching holidays and students and found an article entitled Not All Students Look Forward to the Holidays: How We Can Help It is worthy of spending a few minutes reading before heading into the break. It definitely gave me some things to think on.  Who is a student you can reach out to over the holidays?  That simple act of kindness could be the highlight of their break!


Another blog I subscribe to is Student Voice. It is run by students and it never fails to impress me with the work they are doing in schools and in advocating for public education through their local and state governments. You can subscribe to their blog here as read their weekly newsletter. In this week's post, they shared an article by Youth Truth and results of their most recent survey on student engagement.  This research directly connected to my Monday thoughts on how to keep students engaged in learning the way they are when they are young.

I am passionate about student voice and I do believe the place to start in making changes to ensure our students want to come to school, and find joy in it, begins by asking students!  I'll wrap up Tuesday's learning with this quote from a middle school student. Just another reason to be someone for a child!  #KidsDeserveIt

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What I Have Learned, Thought About, and Created: Week of 12.11.17

For a long time, I've wanted to write a blog about the things I thought about, or learned, during the week.  I knew if I started a new blog for this, then I would need to blog weekly and that was a lot of pressure. If you could see the drafts of my blog, you would be able to see that I have started this multiple weeks. Well, this week I decided that there are no rules saying I would need to do this weekly and if this is my only weekly post, then that is absolutely fine!

I love to learn. I believe that learning happens in all sorts of places. I will advocate that professional development doesn't have to happen in a workshop or conference, but it happens daily around us. I learn from so many different places and as I write these weekly posts, I will try to remember to share where I get my learning. 

So, here goes week 1!


Today, I read Five Ways to Boost Student Engagement with Flow Theory. (It came across my daily digest.  You can select categories of interest on Medium and get a daily email with links to articles. Bonus, it even tells you how long it will take you to read the article!).

There have been plenty of times as an adult learner that I get so focused on a task, I don't want to pause for even the simplest of tasks because I don't want to break my concentration; I'm in a groove!  However, I think back to the number of times I would announce to my own children that they needed to put something away for us to do something at that moment. They would ask for a few more minutes. I did this same thing in the classroom. After all, I had a schedule. We had standards to learn, things to do, and we needed to move on. I wonder how many times I interrupted flow?

How does flow happen in the classroom?  The article points out the importance of student choice and agency and finding learning challenges that the student is intrinsically motivated to complete. Then, helping the student understand the metacognition cycle necessary to begin and complete the challenge successfully. This article is one I am going to continue to think about. The idea of flow embodies much of what we look for in a learner-centered classroom.  What are your thoughts?


Results Coaching published an article entitled Managing Our Biases (you can sign up for their newsletter on their site). Last year, I read Teachers' Explicit Expectations and Implicit Prejudiced Attitudes to Educational Achievement: Relations with Student Achievement and the Ethnic Achievement Gap. It is a fascinating study on bias that examines the effects of implicit bias on achievement.  Implicit bias is the bias in our behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes that often operate at a level below conscious awareness and without intentional control; basically, we are unaware of feelings that we might have for or against a type of person. This particular research concluded that the implicit bias of a teacher had a significant impact on the mathematical achievement of students.

I spent some time exploring various implicit bias tests from Harvard.  At first, I found these online tests rather hoaxy, but the more I explored them and then read about the research, I was intrigued. We regularly discuss closing the achievement gap and we focus on students and intervening, but what if we started by focusing on our self, the educator?  The above research connects implicit bias to math achievement. What if we could improve our students while improving the person we are?  What if there is something that we are doing that we are totally unaware of (implicit bias) that we could change to improve the future of our students?  Sign me up!

I just linked a lot of information above, so let me give you a quick rundown!
  • You don't really have much time at all?  Take a couple of the Harvard implicit bias tests linked above. These are quick, interesting and could help you develop an awareness to any bias you might have. 
  • You found out you have a bias or you just want to know a little bit about bias, read the first article from Results Coaching.
  • You geek out about data and you enjoy an academic journal read or you just really do want to know more in order to help improve instruction for students, read the second article.

Tuesday, Part 2!

I have long been a fan of changing URLs in Google to copy, view, etc. However, I LOVE the new hack to make a template. Previously, when some changes the URL to force make a copy, most users continue and make a copy of a document they have not viewed.  In doing this, you might end up with a lot of random stuff in your Drive that you really didn't want a copy of in the first place.  In the past, I used a hack of changing the URL that ended in "copy" and making it "view" which allowed me to see the document and then choose if I wanted to make a copy (You can still do this if someone shares a copy link document with you).  However, this new hack allows you to change the URL so others can preview it and then choose to use the template!  

You can read the full article from Shake Up Learning here. You can also subscribe to her blog posts or follow her on Twitter!


Today I took some time to create!  Our students are all creating eportfolios of their work and I believe it is important for teachers to take the time to reflect on their goals and achievements and have an eportfolio as well. It is time for me to do an update on mine, but you can view it here. In February, I will be presenting on eportfolios at TCEA, so I took some time today to create a resource for the presentation session and to share with teachers who are ready to create their own eportfolio.  This is a work in progress, but I wanted to share with you what I have so far. If you would like to make a copy of it, you will get to try out the new Use Template feature that I blogged about on Tuesday!  The template is available at this link


I love the work of Eric Curts and his focus on using GSuite Apps in unique ways in the classroom. I get his blog post delivered to my inbox.  You can subscribe here. Here is currently writing an ongoing post on the 12 Days of Techmas.  Yesterday's post was focused on creative ways to use Google Drawings.  I LOVE Google Drawings and I don't see it used as much as other Google tools.  I was excited to look at his post and see what he was recommending. He included one of my favorites which is using Google Drawings to insert video into a Google Doc (I use this in HyperDocs all the time!).  In addition to some of my favorite uses, he also included a few I had not thought of previously. One of them was how to insert a Drawing into a Doc and select scribble as the line to allow students to use it as a whiteboard to insert into a Google Drawing. My math teacher heart got all excited about this option!  He included this image in his blog post that you can read here. I highly recommend reading his post if you work with students on computers.  It is a little trickier to use Drawings on an iPad (when will that app come?), but you could still good some good ideas!


Last week was Hour of Code and kids across the world were coding in their classrooms and homes!  I am a firm believer in encouraging girls into STEM careers as I do believe they are underrepresented, but I believe we do this by exposing them to these concepts. Today I read No Need to Pinkify from Code Like a Girl (I found this article from my email as well). It talked about how we don't need to attract girls to coding by flowery fonts and pink and purple polka dots but we need to give them equal exposer to coding. The article was a short read but one that caused me to think about my practices. 

Part 2

I'm still enjoying Eric Curt's 12 Days of Techmas.  Today he wrote about his favorite Chrome Extensions and you can read the full post here. He listed a few that I have not tried yet. One I am starting to explore is VoiceIn Voice Typing.  Voice typing has been in Google Apps for a while, but this extension allows users to speak rather than type into any text field. This could be useful for our students on Chromebooks who are still struggling to type.  You can find the extension at this link.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Student Voice is a passion of mine and Flipgrid is a tool that helps amplify those voices!  For those new to Flipgrid, it is a web-based video reflection tool that allows teachers to provide a prompt and students then create a video response.

Before I share with you the ins and outs of using Flipgrid, I want to share some reasons why you would want to use Flipgrid!
  • Voices that are often silent in class have an avenue to share their thoughts
  • Reflection is powerful. Flipgrid allows you to set the maximum amount of time for a response ranging from 15 seconds to 5 minutes. For shorter reflections, students must reflect and synthesize the information to provide a succinct video reflection.
  • Video reflections can be shared with the family through a private link allowing parents to see first-hand their students thinking through their learning.
  • Flip the family connection and ask family members to share with your class. You can easily bring in experts from outside of your classroom walls to share about a topic of your choice.
  • 100% engagement for your students. Everyone has a voice.
  • Use it to engage students in dialogue on current events, book talks, a voice in classroom learning and more. 
There are so many uses, but these are a few reasons why I think it is worth your time.
Let's get started. Go to and sign up to create a free account. 

Here is a comparison of the Free Account and the Classroom Account if you decide to change to a paid account at a later date.

After creating your account, you are ready to begin setting up your grid and topics.  Watch this Flipgrid introduction video that has been enhanced using Edpuzzle to provide additional details. It walks you through account set-up, creating your grid, and adding topics!

For those who like step-by-step visuals, here are resources to support you!

You are now ready to add a topic. You can have multiple topics on your one free grid!

Make sure you scroll down before you create a topic to look at your other options!

Response settings include:
  • Selfie Decorations:  You can control if students can customize their selfie at the end of the video with stickers and/or drawings or turn off these options.
  • Emoji Reactions: Do you want students to be able to leave emoji feedback or only like other videos?
  • Response Moderation: Turn on if you want to approve students' videos before they are posted on your topic
You are now ready to go with Flipgrid!  Want to see what it is like from a student's perspective?  Respond to my Flipgrid and tell me how you could use Flipgrid to engage students! 

Note: To respond to a Fligrid on an iPad, make sure students have the free Flipgrid app!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Google Email Contacts

It's that time of the year!  Parents are completing Google forms, updating Skyward information, and more. We have all types of data, but sometimes it is difficult to get it from one place to another. Contact lists for your classes are a quick way to send an email to your students' parents throughout the year. Rather than enter contacts one by one, use the digital data you already have!

Here is a copy of a Google Sheet ready to import into your Gmail Contacts!  From wherever you have your digital data (a Google Sheet from Google Form Responses, Excel from Skyward export, etc.), you can copy and paste your info into the correct fields. I have found that it is best to not delete any fields but only enter the information that you would like to import.

Once you have entered your information, download your Google Sheet as a Comma-separated value (.csv) file.

Open Contacts> More> Import.

When prompted to import contacts from other accounts, select CSV or vCard file.
This feature is currently only available in the old version of Google Contacts, so select "Go To Old Version".

Once on the old version, select Import Contacts

Select "Choose File" and navigate to the Sheet you saved as a .csv file. Click Import and watch the magic happen.

Once the import is complete, look at the left-hand column for the import labeled by date and select.

Look across the top of the screen and find "More", select the drop-down box and select "Rename group" and rename your contact group.

Now, you are ready to start communicating!  When you are composing an email, begin typing the name of your contact group and it should appear as a choice to select!  Don't forget to include your contact group in the BCC field!

Are you sharing your homeroom students with another teacher?  You can share your new contact group with them as well!  Here is a blog post with step-by-step instructions!

 Happy "e"mailing!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What I Learned at #ISTE17 Day 3

Today was the end of the ISTE 2017 conference.  I was in a session this morning that included the following quote:

However, simply hearing about new things does not mean I have acquired new skills. The Conscious Competence model specifies four stages towards skill acquisition.

(Women Embracing Brilliance, 2010)

In regards to much of my learning at ISTE, I find myself in the Conscious Incompetence stage.  I've now heard these great ideas or found resources, but I have a great deal of learning left to do.  I have skills to acquire so they can be put to use to improve instruction for our students!  So, today's top 5 list of things I have learned is really more about the top 5 things I have heard about that I need to explore and master.

1. Photospheres

According to Mary Howard, a photosphere is "a 360-degree panorama feature. It's designed to be a pseudo-immersive experience allowing the viewer to feel as though they are in or at the location" (Howard, 2017).  We used Google Streetview to capture a 360-degree video. The Streetview app has a 360 camera built into the app! From there, we looked at other resources where we could find photospheres or 360 images we could alter. She suggested or Flickr. (Please make sure you practice good digital citizenship and uses images that are fair use.)  After locating an image, she edited them in Pixlr and hosted at Holobuilder.  I'll be exploring these resources further. If you would like to explore on your own as well, here is a link to the presentation! Create, Capture and Cardboard your Curriculum: 360 Photospheres

At first look, this seems to work much like Padlet as a place for collaboratively sharing ideas. However, Dotstorming allows you to vote on your favorite ideas shared. Here are some posts on Dotstorming that I have found to review later: Dotstorming by ICC TLC and Search results for Free Technology for Teachers with multiple blog posts. Richard Byrne also has a detailed YouTube video on dotstorming. Note, this video was created in 2015 and features have been added since this time.

(above video linked from

Videoant is a tool to allow users to add annotations, or comments, to web-hosted videos. There are multiple video annotation tools available. Part of my learning process will be comparing these products to see which one works best within our district.

3. Poll Everywhere in Google Slides

I have used this feature some in the past, but not near enough, and I know I haven't modeled it well.  The Poll Everywhere Chrome Extension allows you to embed polls directly into your Slide presentation. When you create a new Poll Everywhere, you have options for multiple choice, word cloud, Q&A, rank order, clickable image, survey, or open-ended questions. You can learn more about Poll Everywhere in Google Slides at

(above video linked at

4.  Quizlet Live

When Quizlet added their Live feature, teachers gained a digital way to use the Numbered Heads Together Cooperative Learning Strategy. Quizlet Live assigns teams (zebras, alligators, oxen, etc. ). Every participant's device sees answer options, but the answer options all are different between all team members. Participants have to talk together because you may not have the correct answer on your screen. Here is a video tutorial I found that explains more about Quizlet Live.

(the above video is linked from

5. YouTube

I went to a quick session with Google on Using Video As an Instructional Tool.  Lately, I've been spending more time exploring YouTube and realizing there are so many functions in YouTube that I have not been utilizing.  I hope to explore them further this summer. I did pull a couple of things from this session that I will share in bullet form:
  • Every minute, over 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.
  • YouTube has over 1.3 billion users (½ of the internet).
  • YouTube reaches more 18-49 yr olds than any cable network.
  • It's all thanks to Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
  • Tyler Tarver led this session and has a very engaging personality. His site includes math and Google videos. 
  • Tarver believes everyone should download YouTube, YouTube Music, and YouTube Capture (records video and forces you to turn camera to the side)
  • Creation vs. Curation: if you are afraid to create your own videos, then start curating others!
  • Find channels you like and subscribe to them. Find videos you like and add to Playlists.
  • Notifications are legit. Look for bell icon. Set up notifications for people you like and you will be notified anytime they add a new video.
  • Create videos for bell ringers!  You can have it start playing while you are taking attendance, talk to kids, etc. QuickTime on Mac or Screencastify on Chrome devices are easy tools to learn to create your own videos.
  • Unlisted allows anyone with a link to view your video. Note, someone can take your link and post it elsewhere, and people can see it then…

Each of my posts from ISTE has had a bonus piece of information, but this bonus is a big one!  You don't have to attend ISTE (or other conferences) to have great learning!  We want our students to be self-regulated learners, and we should model it as well.  My learning from ISTE won't stop because I am home.  I'll still be learning from it probably this time next year!  Here are some sources to get you started on your own learning path!

  1.  Search #ISTE17 on Twitter and be prepared to open link upon link of learning goodness!  Hint: I use Tweetdeck to organize my Twitter and currently have a column of all ISTE17 goodness.
  2. Search the website for conference sessions. Many times, you can access resources from sessions without having to log in as an attendee. ISTE is one of those conferences. Go to and start exploring sessions. You can narrow down your search to sessions with digital resources, or you can find the names of presenters that you are interested in and follow them on Twitter to build your PLN and keep the learning going!
  3. Find a name that you know that attended ISTE and see what information they are curating for you!  I happened to see Richard Byrne from filming in the bloggers' lounge, so I went to his page to see what he had to offer. His YouTube Channel has some live videos and interviews he did this week that I look forward to checking out. Friday morning, he will be live on his channel to recap ISTE17.  Byrne also wrote some posts this week while at ISTE that are on his site linked above.  Byrne is just one blogger who was active this week. Search to see if your favorite blogger was there as well. If you find a great post, we would love to have you share in the comments!
So, the rest of my summer will include some great learning. I'm going to take the time to refresh my mind and body, but in my opinion, a refresh doesn't mean to do nothing. If I were to refresh my house over the summer, I wouldn't let it build up dust. I would work to clean it and make it better. I hope to do the same with my brain this summer!

Note:  Anytime you are exploring new resources, make sure you check out the age requirements to ensure they are appropriate for your students and that the terms of service allow for users under 13, etc.  Also, use Common Sense Education to see if they have reviews of the product you are going to use (you can also find additional sites worth exploring on their page at As I continue to learn about the above products, I will be practicing these above tips!


Howard, M. (2017). Create, capture and cardboard your curriculum: 360 photospheres. Retrieved from

Women Embracing Brilliance. (2010). The four stages of learning. Retrieved from

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I Learned at #ISTE17 Day 2

My brain is starting to stay in a state of fog! There is so much learning here at ISTE. I've heard there are around 15,000 people in attendance. The sessions are full of information, but the conversations are also rich with learning. I mentioned yesterday that relationships were important to my learning and they are making a repeat appearance in today's top 5.

Here are the top 5 things I learned:

Relationships Part 2

1.  Today's relationships that grew my practice came in the form of the "Playground" that focused on Ed Tech Coaching. I have enjoyed the playground feature of the conference. Each day has a different theme with tables for small group learning and conversations. Most of today's playground sessions focused on Instructional coaching. Here is a link to the schedule with many presentations linked. There were some books that were suggested to read that I am going to explore further:
  • The Global Education Guidebook: Humanizing K-12 Classrooms Worldwide Through Equitable Partnerships
  • The Global Educator
  • Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-Directed Leaders and Learners
  • Made to Stick
  • Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling For Less
  • Learning First, Technology Second: The Educators Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons
2.  Yesterday, I mentioned Flipgrid (and I still need 10 people to respond to a post with a quick video reflection on something they have learned this summer at ). Tonight, while enjoying the evening at the rooftop pool, Erin shared with me an innovative way to use Flipgrid. The teacher created a Flipgrid and sent the link to parents and asked for them to respond with a video on their experience with the upcoming content.  During the classroom learning, the teacher played video clips of the parents' responses. What a fun way to bring relevance to the learning and connect the parent to the classroom!

3. While in the pool, Kerissa shared a hidden gem within Chrome!  On the iPad or other mobile devices with the Chrome app installed, pull down to reveal the Spotlight search and search for "QR".

Select "Scan QR Code" and you can scan directly within your browser!  No need for Chrome extensions or QR reading apps!

Thank you, Kerissa, for sharing your learning and your willingness to pose for my picture! I'm sure there was so much more learning gleaned from relationships, but I am going to move on to learning from my sessions!

4.  I went to a great session on giving feedback within Google Apps led by Eric Curts (one of my favorite bloggers!). Eric suggested giving video feedback by creating a Screencastify as you review the document and then putting a link to the video in a comment on the document. Your students hear your voice and see exactly what you are referencing on their paper!  Susan wrote a post on Screencastify earlier this year that you can read here. You can access Eric's full presentation on his website!  If you don't read closely, you might miss this gem for ELA teachers with pre-canned comments with links to learning resources for the student!

5. Google Forms

I was invited to attend a roundtable meeting with our Texas Google Edu representative. In this meeting, we gave feedback on GSuite Apps and heard about updates that were forecasted to come soon. In the midst of all the ISTE learning, I missed the announcement of the updates to Google Forms and the ability to batch grade questions in quizzes.  Here is a tweet from Google with an animated GIF to show the steps.  Ricard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers also wrote a post to share a little more about this new feature!

Bonus: Take a moment to explore a new resource announced by Google yesterday!

There are so many other things that I learned today that will have to be a later post. I'll leave you today with a couple of quotes from Alice Keeler to ponder!

Signing off at 12:45 AM to get ready for another day of learning tomorrow!