Less Talk, More Action

I can’t say that I love getting the “alien look” but it does remind me that I’m on the right track sometimes. When I used iPads in my classroom to maximize workflow and amplify curriculum, I got alien looks. When I purchased Bloxels and started using them in my classroom, I got alien looks. And a few weeks ago when I took my third graders snowshoeing at Crater Lake, I got the alien look. IMG_9928.JPGWhy is it that those same people who gave me this look complain about how little PE/exercise our students get? Why is that they post on Facebook that the kindergartens in Germany that are held in the woods are so amazing and how we should have something like that here? Where is the disconnect between what they think our students should be doing and what we are actually doing with them? It’s action.

The hardest part about taking any sort of action in our lives is getting started. Going from doing nothing to doing something always seems to be the most difficult part. In Education there can be many obstacles to getting started: money, time, administration, politics, not feeling supported, being afraid of failure, ….the list goes on and on. While some of these are very real hurdles, many can be overcome just by putting one foot in front of the other. For me, I am the biggest problem. I get in my own way all of the time. I always want to start out at a sprint, then I tire too quickly and get overwhelmed. I have to remind myself that not everything has to be planned out and perfect from the get-go. I also have to remind myself that just because someone thinks I’m crazy for trying something does not actually make me crazy! I don’t know how many times I’ve found myself questioning a decision or a project just based off of one person’s opinion. Why do I do that? How can I take months of thinking and planning and somehow feel like it is going up in smoke because one person didn’t like it? I need to get over that….and quick!!

One of the best ways that I have found to get over many of the hurdles I find when starting something new is to turn to my PLN. I have a fantastic PLN on Twitter that has been my sounding board and my inspiration for many of the new endeavors I’ve taken on. Whenever I have an idea or I find an idea that I want to try, my PLN is always there to help me brainstorm ideas for overcoming obstacles, encourage me to get started, and give me feedback along the way. I can be real with them and honest. But the thing about a PLN is that you only get out of it what you put in. If you are unwilling to be someone else’s sounding board and cheering squad then you will have a tough time building a strong PLN. IMG_0138

If you have been thinking about doing something out of the box or you’ve had an idea rolling around in your head but just haven’t done anything with it, I highly encourage you to get started today! Your students deserve your best every single day and that includes all of your crazy ideas! Let’s stop talking about how we can make learning and education better for kids and start DOING it!

Get started and keep going!

IMG_0060.PNGFeel free to follow me on Twitter @hmarrs24. I would be happy to be your sounding board, encourager, and voice of reason when you need it! 🙂


Spring Break Fun and #Sketch50

I didn’t realize how much I needed a break until it came! It has been such a wonderful and restful week with my family. We spent some time out in the woods up at the cabin this week. It was still pretty snowy up there but we got to spend some quality time with each other and with some good friends!IMG_9873

We also got quite a bit done in our front yard. So thankful for the last few days of great weather! It’s been such a long winter here that we haven’t had time to get out in the yard and fix it up! It feels so good to get going on it. Now we just have our backyard to do…..which is unfortunately a BIGGER job than the front….but we are making progress!

Not only do I enjoy all of the time with my family and working around the house, but I also very much enjoy the time that I get to reflect, revise, and plan my way forward. Breaks are such a wonderful time to reflect on my practices in the classroom. How have I been doing? What is working? What is not and how can I change it or ditch it? I also take advantage of this time that I have to continue my learning and connect with other educators. I love learning during a break because it gives me time to process my learning and plan how I might utilize what I’ve learned in the classroom. One great example is my recent participation in #Sketch50 on Twitter. It’s just what it sounds like! 50 sketches in 50 days! Each day I check @Sketch_50 on Twitter for the daily topic then I sit down and sketch. Once I’m done, I post it on Twitter with the hashtag and tag some of my friends. I’ve also started a Padlet to watch the development of my sketches over time. It is so cool to look at the progression already in just six days!

Made with Padlet

I’ve been doing sketchnotes with my students in the classroom since the fall. It has been so amazing to see how excited my students get when I tell them that we are going to be sketchnoting our story for the week. It’s also amazing because it reaches many of my students who are not normally engaged especially in reading. With third graders I stick to paper and pencil on day one and then we go back to it on day two to add color. This way students are able to focus on one piece at a time. When we are done, we take pictures of our work and post them to Seesaw in our digital journals.


NCCE Day 3

Achieving More by Going Paper-Less with Elizabeth Rossmiller


Generation Z- They were born in a tech world but we can’t expect them to know how to use the tools in a valuable manner. We can’t expect that they know how to be digital citizens. 

How are we making learning ungoogleable? 

Teaching skills, how-to not what, evaluating sources, what are you going to do with what you know?, creating, designing, connecting learning to their life, explain your thinking, choosing tools based on what will work best

Epic! Books for Kids- record themselves reading books from Epic. 

Video-blogging- Vlogging during class. We could do a weekly Vlog on Seesaw to record our learning, aha moments, and goals. 

EDpuzzle- Take any video from YouTube including videos you make and add questions or instructions to the video. 

KidBlog- teaching commenting explicitly so students add value to other’s learning

Book to read: Amplify

Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom https://www.amazon.com/dp/0325074739/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_E-u1yb8FRSH7S

 Cultivating “SuperBetter” Powers: How to teach students using research-based strategies of gamefulness with Tabitha Ellison and Mary Snyder

Slides for presentation: HTTPS://goo.gl/pdofMS 

 4 Resiliencies: Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Social 

Mental- hands out and palms up

Social- shake hands with someone for 6 seconds

Physical- stand up with arms up 

Emotional- pictures or videos of baby animals “looking at photos and videos of baby animals is all it takes to make virtually anyone feel the emotion of love.” ~Jane McGonagal   I’ve never heard of this before but who wouldn’t want a good excuse to look at baby animals throughout the day!! 

Power Ups- Positive actions you ca take to feel better, stronger, healthier, or more connected anytime, anyplace. Power ups are learning tools, self-regulation tools, oppotunities to engage in conversations and build relationships, activated as often as students need them. The power is in the conversation with students. 

Badges made on canva.com

Reflections on the week

This week went by so quickly! It is amazing the brain-overload that I always feel on the last day of a conference. It has been a whirlwind of a week but I have been so encouraged and inspired by some amazing educators this week. My favorite parts of the whole conference were getting to meet my twitter peeps face to face, the great conversations we’ve had in between sessions and the wonderful convos last night at the Seesaw Social, and, of course, presenting with my good friend Tisha! I’m so excited to sit down and reflect on everything that I’ve learned this week and how I will implement it in my classroom and my life. 

NCCE Day 2 Leading and Learning

 Adventures in Gamification

 Wow those two hours went by super fast! Before the workshop started, I was worried about the wifi working (as many presenters were struggling with it the day before). Luckily for us, the internet worked really well for us throughout our presentation! I was also a little nervous about co-presenting for the first time at a large conference. I’ve presented many times but never with someone else at a conference this size. I’m so glad that I got to present with my good friend Tisha. We did a really great job of playing off of each other and the flow was really smooth. When you present on a theme that is so broad like Gamification, it can be very difficult to meet the needs and answer the questions of the participants. It was wonderful to have both the elementary perspective and the high-school perspective. It was a really effective way to portray the different elements of Gamification and how we are implementing them into our classrooms. I look forward to presenting with Tisha again in the future! 

My First Experience with BreakoutEDU with Mike Nye and Cindy Dziurzynski

I have heard of BreakoutEDU and I totally love the idea but I’ve never actually experienced it. I’ve looked into it online and tried to wrap my head around it but have been unsuccessful. Many people have told me that I need to experience it to really understand so I’m very excited to participate in this workshop today! 

Directional Lock: Colored the arrows on a grid in the order of the list on the sheet 

Key lock: Had to find another box and break out of that one then figure out a math clue to figure out the small box combo. In the small box there was a black light. 

Black light: We could see the circled dates on a calendar that we were given which we then used to open another key. 

QR code took us to a form where we input more information to unlock the other locks. 

Feel free to adjust the games on the site to meet your needs. You can customize to meet your equipment, time, and content. The Storyline is the most difficult part not the mechanics. 

Bit.ly/custombreakout  is a great resource for tools to customize your own BreakoutEDU games. 

Check out Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes at keeptalkinggame.com 

NCCE 2017 Day 1

Tweedledee and Tweedledum with Kam Koyama

 Learned some new things about TweetDeck. Found new people to follow on Twitter. Introduced a few other teachers to the power of a PLN. 


Meeting Steve Wyborney

“Tell me your 30 second elevator pitch” Yikes! What a thing to ask! How do I fit who I am as an educator, what I believe about education, and what I’m doing in the classroom into 30 seconds?? 


Someone Found Me!

“Are you the Seesaw gal?” Why yes, yes I am! It’s so surreal when people recognize you from a presenting at a previous conference and want to connect with you. Seesaw is such an amazing app that I’m never surprised when people love the app but it’s so fun to talk to people who want to learn more and discover other ways to implement it in the classroom. 


Putting the R in SAMR  with Gil Anspacher

Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking- the 4 C’s 

“Tech enables the Redefining- tech doesn’t redefine the lesson it allows for you to redefine”

Constructivist: Construct, Knowlegde, Meaning, From Experience

 Alan November- TED Video

 Step 1: Research 


 Step 2: Plan 

Step 3: Create

 Step 4: Evaluate

Getting Started:

Start small, have a clear outline of the process, get students involved, make sure you have a template/format for your students. 

Digital Tools to Connect, Create, and Collaborate with Shannon McClintock Miller

So lucky I got a seat! The line was out the door and down the hall for this amazing presentation !


Smithsonian, Newsela, BrainPop, DK Findout!, #GoOpen OER Resources and Tools (link to Symbaloo in the slides)

Connect your kids to the world using Skype in the Classroom, FlipGrid


Photos for Class, PicMonkey, YouTube Creator Studio, Adobe Spark, Slides in Google Drive, Slides Carnival, Piktochart, Smore (Educator Hive), StoryBird, ComicMaster, StoryboardThat, Buncee, Recite, Spell with Flickr, LEGO buildwithchrome.com


Padlet (have students publish their work on Padlet), Creatubbles, Creatubbles Minecraft Mod, Geoguessr, What Was There, 

Places to Find Tools:

Twitter, Pinterest, AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning, The Library Voice Blog

Takeaways from a great opening Keynote with Jaime Casap

“Education disrupts poverty” I absolutely love this! Isn’t that exactly what we want education to do?

“Students today are not that different from us. How they think about learning is different then how we think about learning.”


The amazing, wonderful iPhone that I have in my pocket is the worst technology my 6 year old son will ever know. He’s going to find it in a thrift store some day and put it on a shelf as a relic. 

We need a culture shift in education. 


What a fantastic day of learning today! Tisha and I are sitting here in our hotel room exhausted and preparing ourselves for tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we are going to be leading a workshop on Gamification. It is the first ever presentation for either one of us where we are going to be presenting with another person. I think the main reason this makes me nervous is that we will talk over each other or I will talk too much. However, I think this is going to be so incredibly powerful for educators to see how different our classes are and our ways of gamifying and yet how impactful and immersive it is in both classes. No matter what, we are going to have fun and get to share our passion for teaching and learning!

Reflections on a Crazy Week

Holy cow! What a week this week has been! I’m still exhausted and it’s Saturday night! Not only did I have my new student teacher start this week but we also had an administrator walk through, swimming lessons, and I started parent-teacher conferencing. I am so excited to have another student teacher! I really enjoy sharing my love of learning and growing but man is it tiring! I forget sometimes just how many decisions I make in a day and why I make all of them. I am painfully reminded when I have a student teacher as I discuss the whats and whys of the day. I really want them to understand why I do things and not just take them at face-value. I remember writing half a million reflections during my masters program. We hated them so much at the time that the word “reflection” became a dirty word that everyone would cringe at hearing. But somehow all of that time spent writing those reflections (ugh..I still can’t even think it without a recoil) turned into years of internal reflections and growth. I hate to admit it but it set me up for auto-reflecting when I really got into my profession. It has been the catalyst for enormous amounts of growth, humility, and learning. I’m looking forward to sharing all of that with my student teacher!

Aside from all of the craziness of the week, the highlight of my week was our project during literacy. My students have been reading a folktale called “Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun”. We have spent a few weeks doing vocabulary projects, reading the story together, and writing our own folktales but….all of that pales in comparison to the awesome project we got to create this week! As a class we created a Grandmother Spider video game using Bloxels. My students lost their minds when I told them what we were going to be doing!

Each group had their own mission in creating the game. One group was in charge of creating the characters for our game. They had to design our main character, the enemies, and the background. Each of the other groups were in charge of creating one level of the game based on one of our vocabulary words. Their game level had to reflect the vocab word in every way. From their terrain to the hazards to the coins, everything had to represent the vocab word. In each game level they had to hide or protect a white story block. The goal of the main character on each level is to get to the story block or checkpoint on that level. The teams set up their story block to tell what their vocab word was and the definition. Once all levels were complete and our characters were ready to play, we put it all together! Not only were my students 100% engaged but we were meeting WAY more standards than just the standards for literacy!



#iPDX17 & the first Seesaw Social in Oregon

I am so excited to go to AcceleratEd and IntegratEd this week in Portland! I love my Twitter PLN but it is so amazing to get to meet face to face and connect with my local PLN as well! In an effort to bring more educators together, Seesaw has started Seesaw Socials! On Thursday evening after the conference from 5-6pm we will be meeting at the Columbia Bar and Grill for some good food and great company! You can sign up on Eventbrite here: Seesaw Social or just show up!



In an attempt to connect prior to the conference and during, I created a list of #iPDX17 attendees I put together on Twitter: 

I’m also excited to host a #CoffeeEDU on Friday morning in the Columbia Bar & Grill. Time is still to be determined. Look for updates on Twitter by following me @hmarrs24 or following the conference hashtag #iPDX17.

Blogging Inspiration

At least three or four times a year I get the blogging itch. I get all excited about blogging and then that excitement goes away quickly and I don’t think about it much until three months later when I get the itch again. The more I read and talk to friends, I find that I’m not alone! And for that I am very grateful! I love having a PLN that understands the highs and lows of the work we do and is willing to share their faults right along with their strengths!
I’ve been inspired recently by some of my fellow Southern Oregon educators who are making it a priority to blog this year. My friend Tisha Richmond is a constant inspiration to me in so many different ways and I’m so glad that we found each other! Her goal this year is to blog once a week. Now, I’m not saying that I will even come close to that but I am looking forward to trying!
So how am I going to tackle this task? Well, I’ve decided to try using an app called Blogo to see if I will be able to blog more often and quicker using the app. I have so many different things going on that I needed something quick and easy. I’m also going to start planning out my topics and blogs ahead of time. Using inspiration when it hits instead of sitting down to write and waiting to be inspired.
Where do you find your inspiration for blogging? My classroom is just one of many places I find my inspiration. I also find it when I talk to my PLN on twitter. Whether I’m on the #XPLAP chat on Wednesdays or moderating the #OrEdChat on Sunday evenings, my PLN is always full of new ideas and positivity! In just a few weeks #OrEdChat will be starting a book study on Kids Deserve It! Join us on Sunday evenings at 8:30p PST as we make our way through the book. I’m really looking forward to diving in because amazing books like Kids Deserve It and Explore Like a Pirate that are written by fantastic educators are yet another place where I find my inspiration!


I Officially Stink at Blogging!

Ok, so I officially stink at blogging! I can always think of things to write about, that’s not my problem. Most of the time I even have it all written out in my head….it’s when I sit down to write it all out that I just can’t make it happen. For years I have tried to fight my “problem” but now I’ve decided to embrace it. Oh well…who says that you have to write to have a great blog anyway?? Well…here goes my first attempt at a video blog, better known as a “Vlog”. Wish me luck!!

Alright, so I totally already messed it up! I didn’t think about the fact that my phone is a vertical camera and now my video is small and funny looking and what is up with that face that I’m making? Yikes! But I’m posting it anyway! It’s not the first and it won’t be the last time I mess this thing up! Next time….I’ll remember to fix that…I hope! 🙂