Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Position and New Helpful Calendar Tools

This school year I have started a new adventure.  After teaching at Carlmont High School for the last twelve years, I am now our districts new Instructional Technology Specialist.  I spend one day a week at each of the district schools helping teachers integrate technology into their curriculum.

People keep asking me if I miss being in the classroom.  Honestly, after four weeks, I am still not sure.  I miss my AVID students.  I left them after their sophomore year.  And I missing talking with my students and having them hang out in my classroom at lunch.  But there are some things that I definitely don't miss - grading, spending hours setting up biology labs, and getting emails about grades. 

Also, I have had to get used to traveling around to different schools, learning all the different bell schedules, finding my way across new campuses and learning names to so many different people.  

So far, most of what I have been doing is helping teachers and other staff get to know two new programs our district has adopted - School Loop and GAFE.  It feels great to see teachers excited about what these tools can do, but I can't wait to start helping teachers actually plan lessons and integrate technology into their classes for students to use.  We have so many great teachers in our district, and I look forward to working with them and their students.

In this new position, I have found that I rely on my Google calendar immensely.   Last week I had appointments with twenty different teachers, and that doesn't include the meetings I had at the district office.  I have found two tools that work with my Google calendar that have saved my sanity.  One is Schedule Once, and the other is the Google calendar text notifications.

The first few weeks of this position, teachers were emailing me asking to meet, but they didn't tell me what school they were at, or would ask to meet fourth period, but forget to tell me that they had an assembly schedule that day.  I ended up spending a ton of time emailing back and forth to set up meetings.  I started to explore different ways to book appointments - GAFE's appt slots (not great for varied schedules), (didn't put the calendar event on the appt. booker's calendar) and then found and loved Schedule Once.  Schedule Once allows me to set up 5 booking calendars, one for each school I visit.  I can then set my availability and give out the website to my booking calendar.  Teachers can choose their school, pick an amount of time they would like to meet, and then find an open slot.  When they book an appointment it goes to my Google calendar as well as theirs.  I even have it set up to send a reminder email to the teacher the morning before the meeting.  It is the greatest tool ever!  I don't have to worry about anything, their is no emailing back and forth, and the appointments just show up in my calendar.

Now that I had all these appointments set up, I would get really involved with helping the teachers I was meeting with, that I didn't watch the clock as carefully as I should.  So I played around with my phone notification settings.  I didn't want to get event notifications for every one of my Google calendars.  So I checked out the settings on the Google calendar.  I set it up so my work appointment calendar would send me a text message 10 minutes before the start of each meeting.  Now, I get a text, and I know I need to get moving to my next appointment.  

I look forward to a great year, and know that I will be able to have an impact on so many more student's learning.  I met a lot of other teachers who are starting working in educational technology TOSA positions this year, so I know I will be collaborating with some great teachers this year as I figure out this new job.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Shorten URLs with

When using the class sets of Chromebooks or iPads it can be hard to get links out to your students.  You can send them a document using Doctopus or post links on a webpage, but sometimes you find something in the middle of class and you need a quick way to send out a link. is the answer.  You can go to the website and paste in a link to the web address you want to shorten.  

To make things even simpler, you can download the shortener Chrome Extension which will show up right next to your Omnibox.  Then, all you have to do is be on whatever website you want to share, click the extension, and it will give you the short URL.  This short URL is much easier to write up on the board to share with students.  (Just be careful with some characters such as a capital i and lowercase l.  You can always click the link again to get a different short URL that is easier to read.)

Or, you can get a QR code which you can project or you can copy (Control C) and paste (Control V) it onto a document.

This should help you share links with students and get students to the right spot much quicker.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sound the Alert!

Alerts is not one of Google's most well known tools, but I have found it very useful.  

Google Alerts allow you to automatically receive email alerts for search queries that you set up.  

As a teacher, I use Alerts to notify me of current events that relate to the topic I am currently teaching.  For example, during my last unit, evolution, I set up an alert using the keyword speciation.  I wanted to find current and relevant news articles that I could share with my students, but I didn't want to spend the time to keep searching the web.  Anytime google found this keyword, it sent me an email with a link to the website.

If your students are doing a research project, you can teach them how to set up alerts to get new information about their topic.

I think that Alerts would be a useful tool for school administrators to get emails each time their school is mentioned on the web or in the news.  Here is an example of a Google Alert email that I received about my school.  

It is pretty easy and quick to set up.  Just go to and fill out the form with your search query.  You can change the settings to customize the search and the amount of emails you receive.  You can even set it to search blogs, news, videos, other websites!

I would love to hear other creative ideas on how you would use Google Alerts.  Please share in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Copy and Paste - Using Your Clipboard History

Have you ever needed to copy and paste more than one thing at a time?  I am usually working with multiple tabs open on my Chrome Browser, and many times have multiple links or names that I am trying to paste into one document at the same time.  And it drives me nuts that sometimes I "lose" something in my clipboard when I copy something new. 
The clipboard is the place where the things you copy are stored.  You can add things to the clip board by pressing Control C on a PC, Command C on a Mac, or right clicking on something and choosing Copy.  To paste what is on your clipboard you will press Control V on a PC, Command V on a Mac, or right click and press Paste.  
I'm sure you are used to people saying "There's an app for that"....  Well, now there's an extension for that!  Clipboard History is a great Chrome extension that stays up next to your Omnibox (URL address bar) and keeps a history of all of the things you have copied.

This is a list of things I have "copied" and I can click on any of
these to bring it back to my clipboard to paste into a document.
To Use Clipboard History:
  1. The first thing you need to do to use Clipboard History is download the extension.  Click on the Clipboard History link and click on the blue "+Free" button.  
  2. After you have installed it, all you have to do is click on the icon of the orange clipboard up on the right of your screen, next to the Omnibox (address bar).  
  3. Then click on the information you previously copied and want to use again, and it brings it back into your clipboard and allows you to paste that information into whatever you are working on.

You will love this extension.  It will save you lots of time and make things just a little bit easier for you!  Just to write this blog post, I used the extension three times!

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Spring Break "Project" - QR Code Dice

Leading up to spring break, I was so looking forward to some time off.  I had so many things I needed to work on - conference presentations, applications, cleaning, errands, etc.  I kept telling myself I'd get it done over break.  Soon, my list was a mile long and now that I'm back at work, I only got about half way through it.  Well, maybe only a third of the way through it....  Spring break is always too short!
Work in Progress - Just need the sixth side "Mod Podged" on.

On the last day of school before spring break, I saw a tweet for a blog post called "Roll the Dice on QR Codes" by Krissy Venosdale.  Krissy made QR code dice which linked to six different Google presentation slides.  So with one die, you can change and edit the Google presentation at any time to change up the dice.  The uses for this are endless!  Check out her blog for more information and great ideas.

The examples Krissy listed seemed to be best suited for elementary school students.  But I can imagine using this in my high school science classroom in so many different ways.  I can use it as a unit review and have six different questions or topics for students to review.  The dice can be used to give out articles for students to read and then practice writing arguments with claims and evidence.  My students could use the dice to roll for assignment or project topics, and then get into a group with other students who rolled the same topic.  And the best part, once making the dice, you can use them for all these different activities.  After seeing this blog post, I knew I had another project that I had to get done over spring break!

First, I created six different Google Presentations.  But I didn't want students to see the entire presentation page when they scanned the QR code, I just wanted them to go straight to the presentation in "play" mode.  So I chose to publish the slideshow.

Then I needed to make the QR codes.  I used to do this.

I was then able to paste the QR codes into a table on a Word doc.  I printed them out on cardstock, and then used Matte Mod Podge with a foam brush to adhere them to 1.5" wooden blocks.  The Mod Podge works really well to adhere and protect the paper so they can be used for years in the future.

Here's a video I found with instructions on how to use Mod Podge to adhere paper to wood.

I am so excited to use these with my students!  Thanks Krissy for sharing such a great idea!  I am sure there are a ton of creative uses for these QR blocks that I haven't even thought of.  If you have any cool ideas on how to use these with students, please share in the comments.

Monday, April 7, 2014

KQED Do Now and Common Core

This past school year I have been having my students participate in the monthly KQED Do Now Science twitter chats.   Do Now is a weekly online activity where students learn about current events through various media, such as videos, articles, and more.  A question is posed, and students then get a chance to discuss the topic using social media (twitter or responding to the KQED blog).  

This program is a great way for teachers to teach students Common Core skills with relevant and current issues.

The Do Now topics are not just science topics....  in addition to the monthly Science topics,  there are weekly Civics, Government & Politics topics, and Arts/Popular Culture topics twice a month.  

Do Now gives students a chance to engage and respond to current issues, learn science (or art, civics, politics, etc) content, and digital citizenship skills while they explore ways to connect topics in their classes to the present day. 

I have found that having students participate in this program is a great way to:
  1. Have students learn about current events
    • Each week, KQED picks topics that are in the news.  Students have already heard about many of the topics, but don't know what is going on.
  2. Make what we are learning in class relevant to student lives
    • Many of the science current events link to things we have or will be studying in class.  So this is a great way for students to see how what we are learning really is important, and they must understand it because they will see it again outside of school.
  3. Learn digital citizenship
    • Students put some crazy things out on social media.  Their future employers and colleges will see this.  Through this program, I am able to teach my students how to use social media for learning, and help them develop a positive digital footprint.  KQED even has some instructions for teachers and students.
  4. Communicate with others
    • Students are interacting with their classmates and other students participating in the Do Now conversation on twitter and/or the KQED blog.  They must "listen" to what the others are "saying" (posting), create thoughtful responses, and engage in conversation.  
  5. Practice writing arguments (claims, evidence, and justification)
    • When I have students read and watch the Do Now media, I have them take notes on the topic. They then answer the question by making a claim, supporting it with evidence, and writing out their justification.  They write this out on a argumentation graphic organizer.  (My students have practiced this many times with other science problems. Read my previous blog post for more information and examples.)  Then, they must consolidate their answer into a concise 140 character tweet.  
  6. Create and publish content, and share it with a world wide audience
    • Many times students can't share their entire argument in 140 characters.  I encourage them to share their entire claim as a image in their tweet.  They also may make memes, short videos, or other content that they share in the Do Now online conversation.  KQED has some great resources to show students how to do this on their webpage.
Past Do Nows have included some of these great topics:
Common Core State Standards
Another great thing about having students participate in KQED's Do Now program is that it addresses a huge amount of the Common Core State Standards.  I looked through the History/Social Studies, Science & Technical Subjects Literacy and Writing standards and found that most of the standards can be addressed by participating. Here are the ones that can be met by the Do Now program:


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).

Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, defining the question the author seeks to address.

Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem.


Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.

Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form and in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.

Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented.

Introduce a topic and organize ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic and convey a style appropriate to the discipline and context as well as to the expertise of likely readers.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

How to Use in Your Classroom (Tips)

  • Have students sign up for Twitter at home.  When multiple students all sign up at the same time from one campus, Twitter thinks your are not a real person.  Here are my instructions I gave my students to sign up on their own.
  • The first time I gave students a Do Now assignment, I gave them an entire 50 minute period to go through the materials on the webpage, take notes, and write out their argument.  The next day, I gave them time to write out their 140 character post(s).  I also had to show them how to tweet and what must go in the tweet (hashtag, @kqededspace, etc.)  Then they spent the rest of the period posting their tweets, responding to tweets, and retweeting.  (The next time around, I was able to spend just one period on the assignment.)
  • Students loved seeing all the tweets come in.  On iPads, it is a little harder to keep up with the tweets while following the hashtag.  It doesn't seem to update as often as on a webpage.  So I opened up and ran Visible Tweets which I projected for the class.  They loved having their tweets pop up on the board.
  • After doing Do Now a few times, students did not converse with each other as often as I liked.  So I started doing a twitter chat where I posted questions which they had to respond to throughout the period.  That helped them start to communicate and collaborate with each other.  I posted questions as "Q1:  with the question following", and they had to answer "A1:  with their answer".
  • My next goal is to pair up with other classes so they can communicate in a chat at the same time (rather than seeing tweets from other students later in the day or the next day).
  • Have fun!  The topics may not fit into your curriculum perfectly.  Many times I have not yet covered a the current topic in my content, but I still think it fosters valuable critical thinking, argumentation, and digital literacy skills.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Research in Google Docs - Using the Research Tool and NEW Easy Bib Add-on

Can Google Docs get any better?  They always seem to be coming out with new tools that make life easier.  I love how they are always changing for the better.

Today, Google just added Add-ons to their Docs and Sheets.  Add-ons are tools created by developer partners that add extra features to help you do your work.

One of the cool new Add-ons is by Easy Bib.  Easy Bib is an amazing tool to help you write bibliographies.  The new (free!) Add-on integrates into your Google Docs.  Once you install the Easy Bib Add-on, you can use it in each of your documents to help you create a perfectly formatted bibliography in APA, MLA, or Chicago styles.  It even indents the second line!

Here's a video on how to use the Add-on as well as how to use the Google Research Tool to find sources, insert them into your document, and cite the sources as footnotes.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Peer Review using Google Forms and the autoCrat Script

Students should always have feedback throughout their learning processes to help them grow and succeed.  This might be when they are writing essays, lab reports, or creating videos or other projects. Unfortunately, I don't always have all the time I would like to provide feedback, so occasionally I have students peer evaluate or review each other's work.  

In the past, I used to create rubrics and photocopy way too many papers so that each project could be evaluated by multiple other students.  This was such a waste of paper.  

Last  year, I decided to set up a Google form for students to fill out as they reviewed the work.  Then I used the autoCrat script to "mail merge" the information from the form into a nice document that was much easier to read then the spreadsheet.  This document is then automatically emailed to the student so they can review the feedback and continue working on their assignment.

I have created a screencast showing the step by step instructions on how to set this up and use the script.  (UPDATE:  Scripts are now gone b/c of the new version of sheets.  Click on this link instead for an autocrat tutorial.  The tutorial in this link is not the same form as in the below video, but it will help you use autocrat.  You may still want to watch the video below for ideas about this peer editing form.)

If you would like a copy of my spreadsheet (and form) and the merged document, click on the links below.  You can make copies of them which will save them into your Google Drive and then run the autoCrat script to set it up to use with your own students.

Click here for a copy of the spreadsheet and form.  

Click here for a copy of the merged document.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Save Time. Use Your Omnibox

The Omnibox is the search bar at the top of your Chrome Browser.  It does a lot more than just search for information or take you to your web site URL.

The Omnibox can be used as a timer, a calculator, search your google drive, and can even add events to your calendar.  

If you need a quick timer for a class activity, type timer and the amount of time into the Omnibox.  
It will start counting down.  You can even make the timer full screen by clicking on the blue image of "four corners" on the bottom right.

Type in a problem to see it solved on a calculator.
Or just type in calculator.
You can even make line graphs....
and moving 3D graphs!

Search your Gmail (or Google Drive, YouTube, etc.)
To be able to use the omnibox to search your Gmail, you have to set it up in the Chrome settings.

1.  Go to settings.
2.  In the "Search" section, click on "Manage Search Engines".
3.  Scroll to the bottom to add your custom search engines.  
4.  In the first box, enter your new search name.  (Gmail, Drive, etc.)
5.  Then in the keyword box, enter in the letter or shortcut you want to use.  (g for Gmail, dr for Drive, etc.)  You can choose anything you want it to be.
6.  In the last box, enter in the web URL from below.
Keyword: g
Keyword: dr 
Keyword: yt
7.  Now, when you want to search your Gmail, Drive, or Youtube, type in a g (or dr or yt) into your Omnibox, followed by tab.  You will see this:
8.  All you have to do now, it type in what you want to search your Gmail (Drive or Youtube) for.

Add Google Calendar Events from Your Ominbox
To add a calendar event directly from your omnibox, you will do the same thing as above.  Go to settings, manage search engines, other search engines, and then add in the following:
Add Calendar EventKeyword:  cal

Now, to use it, type "cal" into the Omnibox and press tab.   
Then, type in the name of the event, the date, and time.  It will bring you to the calendar event add page.  And then you can choose your calendar, edit the event, and then save the event!

One Last Tip
Have you ever had too many tabs open, and want to easily and quickly switch back and forth between tabs?  Press "Control" and the Number "3" (If I want to open the third tab).  On a mac, press "Command" instead of "Control".

Maybe Just One More....
To open a tab that you accidentally closed, type "Control", "Shift", and "T".  (On a Mac:  "Command", "Shift", and "T")

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Help Students Find Credible Sources

Common Core State Standards & Finding Credible Sources
Common Core Standards require that students are able to find sources when doing research and analyze them for credibility.  Here is an applicable CCSS standard for Writing in History, Science, and Technical Subjects: 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
Finding Sources can be tough for students.  I cringe when students post or as their sources in their bibliography.  I want my students to learn how to find actual and credible sources (and be able to site them properly).  Wikipedia is a good starting point to find out general information, or find links to other sources, but Wikipedia itself should never be their source.  And is a search engine, not a source!

The first thing I do to help my students is to find some reliable sites and create a Custom Google Search for my students.  Students don't search the entire web, but use a custom search bar on my webpage that only searches sites that I have preselected.  Here is a link to my previous post about creating Custom Google Search Engines.  But even then, how do students really know that the source is reliable?  They won't always have a teacher creating a Custom Search Engine for them.  Students need to be able to determine if the website is credible.

A Great Idea from Catlin Tucker
Last fall, I attended the Fall CUE conference in Napa, and went to a session by Catlin Tucker - Common Core:  The Art of Argument Writing.  (If you ever get a chance to see her, be sure you do!  And read her book - it is great if you are thinking of how to integrate technology and Common Core practices into your classes.)  

One of the activities she shared was her Got Credibility? Google Form.  (Here is a link where you can find a copy of her form and her video on how to make a copy of it so that you can use it with your students.)  This form asks the students to answer questions about their web source such as "Does the source have an author?" or "Is there any bias presented in this resource?".  After students go through all of the questions, they should have a pretty solid idea of whether their resources is credible.  

I copied Catlin's form, and modified it a little bit for my class.  (In my biology class, I have students use APA instead of MLA.  I also added some info on websites that will work on our iPads to get the APA citations.)  I then set up the Google Script autoCrat to merge the data students submitted on the form into a Google Doc that was then emailed back to them.  I wanted students to have access to their citations and work that they did when they checked the credibility of their sources.

My Lesson Plan
When I first introduced this form to my students, I asked my students what resources they use to research a topic.  We had a discussion about credibility, and then I showed them the Google form.  I then gave them a website/resource to use to fill out the Got Credibility form.  I used a great website called Help Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.  This website is very detailed and students have to navigate around it to be able to answer the questions on the Got Credibility form.  

Students spent the rest of the period exploring the Tree Octopus website and checked its credibility by filling out the form.  Below is a copy of a filled out form from one of my students.  (This is what was emailed to each student after they submitted their form and the autoCrat script merged the data and sent them the document.)  Most students discovered that the source was NOT credible, that in fact it was a hoax.  

Click here to view the original document

After the students participated in this activity in class, I had them search for their own resources to use as sources for their upcoming research project.  I required them to complete the form for each of their resources that they used in the project.  After filling it out a few times, they now seem to have a good grasp on how to tell if a resource is credible.  Here is a video one of my students made of tips on determining the credibility of a source.

Other Hoax Sites
I have been searching for other "fake" websites to use when introducing the Got Credibility form.  Here are a few good ones.

If you find any other good hoax cites, please list them in the comments.

Here is a copy of my version of Catlin's Got Credibility? spreadsheet/form and the merge document I used with autoCrat to send out a filled out form/document to my students.   Be sure to make copies of both into your Google Drive.  You will then need to install the autoCrat script into the spreadsheet, and then link the merge fields from the document template when you set up the script.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Google Cultural Institute - an Amazing Resource for Educators

If you can't take your students on field trips  to view artwork in museums, visit other countries to view heritage sites, or show them original archives, bring the world to your students in your own classroom.

Google Cultural Institute is an amazing resources that is broken up into three sections:  Art Project, World Wonders Project, and Archive Exhibitions (Historic Moments).  

I learned about the Google Cultural Institute a few months ago, but didn't really explore it in depth until after I attended the Google Teacher Academy last month in December.  I think it is a wonderful tool for teachers to use in their classes.  Below, I have described the resources available and included some screen shots and Google created intro videos to introduce the different parts of the Google Cultural Institute. 

I believe that this is a great tool that can be utilized in every subject area with a little creativity. It's pretty obvious how history and art teachers would use it.  But math teachers could have students calculate the angles on historical buildings using the World Wonders Project.  World language teachers could have students visit historical sites or look at artwork created in the countries that students are learning about.   Science teachers could have students learn about ecosystems and environments, or the see some the effect of the nuclear bombs in the Historic Moments Collection.  English teachers can have their students visit the Globe Theatre

Check it out.  The Google Cultural Institute is an amazing tool that can bring the world to your students.

Art Project

Art Project has brought "street view" inside museums around the world, which you can access from any computer in an internet equipped classroom.  

Walk the floors of the Museum of Modern Art and discover Van Gogh's Starry Night,

look at the entire painting,

and even zoom in to see the brush strokes.

You can even create galleries of work and compare two pieces of artwork at once.  The museum exhibits not only include paintings, but textiles, statues, etc.  And, the educator page gives you some lesson ideas and you create your own quizzes.

World Wonders Project

The World Wonders Project brings World Heritage Sites to life with Google Street View and 3D Modeling.   

View images and street views of amazing historical and important sites from around the world and learn about the history of each location.

Visit the World Wonders Project education page for resources and lessons for educators.

Historic Moments

Explore online exhibitions (including photos, documents, videos, etc.) detailing the stories behind significant moments in human history.  Learn about Nelson Mandela, Marie Curie, the bombing of Hiroshima, and much more.  

The search feature is great.  It allows you to search for any topic or historical figure and find information, videos, photos, and other media.  The LIFE photo collection is included in the Google Cultural Institute too.

Learn How to Use the Google Cultural Institute
Watch this quick video to learn how to use the Google Cultural Institute website.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Years! PD Opportunities for the New Year

A new year brings lots of new opportunities for educators to renew their passion for education.  There are some great local opportunities for teachers to meet with other dedicated educators, get some new ideas for the classroom, and add some inspiration back into their work day.  

Below is a list of local (to Northern California) conferences that I have attended in the past, or will be attending/presenting at this year.  Many of these conferences included workshops on how to integrate technology into your curriculum (which is a very important part of CCSS).  There are beginner to advanced sessions on using technology, so don't be afraid if you are just starting to look into how to integrate tech into your teaching.   There are also many workshops about great teaching and learning, that can be used with or without technology.

Learn how to integrate Google Apps for Education in your classes.  I attended the one this past summer at Sequoia High School and it was great!  There are a lot of session choices to attend.

CUE conferences and great... you get to learn about different ways to integrate technology into your class, breakfast and lunch is included, and the day always ends with a great raffle.

This is a free conference where the purpose is for you to play with different technologies or apps so that you are comfortable using them in your classes.  (Playdate stands for People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration.)

CUE Rockstar camps are a lot of fun.  Each session is two hours long, so you really get a chance to try out what you are learning with the support of the faculty.  There are long breakfasts and lunches where you get to network and continue you learning with the other participants.  The locations of the camps allow you to explore some great areas of California and are an extra bonus "vacation".  Here is a blog post I wrote when I attended a Rockstar Camp this summer.  And here is another one written by the creator of the Rockstar Camps.

This is another free event where the educators develop the schedule for the day in the morning.  It is a great way to meet other passionate educators and discuss topics that interest you.

See the description above fore the East Bay CUE Cool Tools

See the description above for CUE Rockstar Napa Valley.

Try something new this year and attend one of these great events!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 - A Time to Renew, Re-imagine, Recommit, and Reach Out

A week ago I received an email from David Theriault inviting me to be a guest moderator of #caedchat (California Ed Chat) on Twitter tonight.  I was surprised to be asked and I consider it a great honor to be included.  

I have actively been participating on twitter and in different ed chats for the past nine months and have developed a very strong PLN.  My PLN has allowed me to grow as an educator and I have been provided with many new opportunities because of the connections I have made with many great local educators as well as those in other states and countries. 

I have always been very shy, and with the encouragement of those I have met online, I have started blogging, and presenting to "strangers" instead of just the staff at my school. I have taken steps to move out of my comfort zone and get more involved.  Because of my PLN I was able to learn about, attend, and even present at different conferences.  I even helped moderate a chat tonight!  And my best memory or achievement of the year was being selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy in Stockholm last month.  It was an amazing experience and I loved meeting and learning with such a diverse, international group of educators.

The topic of tonight's chat was "A Time to Renew, Re-imagine, Recommit, and Reach Out".   The first question was "What is your favorite renewal process or activity".  What really helps me clear my mind so I can start fresh is going out into nature, getting away from it all.  I love to go birding.  Hiking and seeing such beautiful animals in beautiful spots really focuses my mind on nothing but being outdoors.  Then I am rejuvenated to go back to reality and work towards achieving new goals in my classroom.  The greatest thing about birding, is that it allows me to renew each time I do it, not just at the beginning of the year.  

Another question was to create an image with my motto for the year.  I chose an image that I took in Sweden last month of a Great Gray Owl.  The Great Gray Owl was the bird assigned to me for a report in my first Avian Sciences course at UC Davis my freshmen year of college.  It was during this class that I decided to switch my major from the safe engineering to the unsafe Avian Sciences.  My parents weren't thrilled... how would I ever get a job with that as a major?  But I realized I loved studying birds and conservation and I knew that I had to follow my heart.  Here is my image and motto:

This motto is fitting... for both me in college following my heart, as well as for me trying new things now in my career, for my students as they are learning and growing into adults, and for the other teachers that I interact and work with as they try new things in their classrooms.  Everyone should believe in themselves.  As you try new things, you may fail.  But failure allows you to learn and grow.  If you believe in yourself, you have the potential and pretty much the guarantee, to be a success.

Another question in the chat tonight was what was your favorite inspirational moment.  In teaching, my students always inspire me.  Well, not always... but each student has done little things, or sometimes big things, that are inspiring.  But as a teacher, I am always inspired by conversations with my PLN on twitter,  at conferences, or edcamps. I always learn from educators who choose to attend, participate and share what they are doing.  Professional Development is what keeps me moving forward.  I want to learn new things and find better ways to be an inspiration and a motivator to my students.

In tonight's chat we were also asked to share a inspirational video, quote, or resource.  One of my favorite's is Google's Moonshot Thinking video.  I think it is a great video to show students (and other staff) that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

The last question was what I wanted to focus on this year as a connected educator.  This year, my focus as a connected educator is to make more real connections and build relationships with those in my PLN.  I want to step out of my comfort zone and introduce myself in person to members of my PLN if I see them at a conference.  I want to build better relationships and friendships with those I interact with online.  I also want to give back and share what I have learned with others - teachers at my school, or other educators online who happen to find my blog or read my tweets on twitter.  I have learned so much from my PLN and I want to share the great things you have given me.

This year, I will believe in myself to renew my passion for education, re-imagine my curriculum to meet the needs of all of my students, recommit to why I became a teacher, and reach out to form stronger relationships with members of my PLN.

Thanks David for inviting me to be a guest moderator!  It was a great experience which I hope to be able to do again.