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! 🙂

My First Ever #PasstheScopeEDU

I just finished my first ever #PassTheScopeEDU yesterday! Pass the Scope EDU is an event that happens every third Thursday of the month. Educators from around the world sign up to do 5-15 minute Persicopes about a certain topic depending on the month. This month’s topics were: what are we planning on doing this year that is new to us and what gets our creative mojo going?  You can view my Periscope from yesterday here: Heather’s PeriscopeTV    You can also access the Storify of yesterday’s scoping at: July 21st Storify

The next #PassTheScopeEDU is on Thursday, August 18th! Follow us on Twitter and Periscope!PTSEDU Slide 2

This year I am very excited to say that I am going to be gamifying my classroom!! I have been doing a Book Study this summer on “Explore Like a Pirate” by Michael Matera. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend it! My friend Tisha Richmond, who is a gamification genius, is hosting a twitter chat book study on Tuesday nights at 8pm PST at #SOXPLAP and the Explore Like a Pirate crew gets together weekly on Twitter on Wednesdays at 5pm PST. Join us on #SOXPLAP this next week for Chapters 6 and 7!

CH 6 & 7 #soxplap

The other new thing for me this year is that I am on a mission to “Starbucks my classroom”. Basically it’s just a fancy way of saying I want to get rid of most of the desks in my classroom and replace them with flexible seating. I want my students to be able to move around the classroom easily and to gather together to collaborate on projects. For years I have felt that my desks were just in the way. They were just a place for students to store their junk but I didn’t know what to do about it…until now. I have always had places in my classroom for flexible seating so it’s not like I’m starting with no seating options at all. I already have a base to start with, now I just need to build from that. I have reached out to friends and family for old furniture and looked on Craigslist but everything is a tad above my price point. As a teacher and a mom of two small kiddos, I don’t have money to spend on these things. Luckily for me Pledge Cents just happened to be part of our Pass The Scope EDU this month and they are an amazing company who help teachers crowd source their projects for their classrooms. You can find my Pledge Cents cause here: Flexible Seating for Collaboration and TeamworkAdobe Spark (13)

Getting Ready for ISTE 2016

Yikes!! I can’t believe that ISTE 2016 is almost here!!! I have been dying to go to ISTE for a very long time and finally this year I have the chance to go! In fact, my district just hired 9 EdTech Teacher Leaders as an extra duty position and they are sending the whole squad!! Well minus two members of the team who just happened to be having babies this month. 🙂

I am actually quite surprised by the amount of information and prep leading up to this conference. I already knew it was going to be a BIG one and that it would most likely be overwhelming but I did not expect the amount of connecting and collaboration that would happen in the months leading up to the conference. I have been very lucky to have “met” some amazing people in my Twitter PLN who have guided me in the right direction concerning the ins and outs of ISTE planning. I also recently was invited to join my very first Voxer group to discuss ISTE with others who have been to ISTE before. I have learned quite a few things but some of the most important tips and tricks I’ve learned are:

  1. Make sure to have a business card handy. A business card? What? As a teacher I don’t think I’ve ever needed a business cardScreen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.02.58 PM before so….I’ve never made one! But, it turns out that you will be meeting A LOT of people at ISTE and one of the biggest benefits of the conference itself will be the connections you make and continue once the conference is over. So I went on Groupon and found a great deal on business cards. $9.99 for 100 cards on Zazzle printed front and back. I included my name, title, Twitter Handle, Voxer, email, and blog site. Here’s the link to the Groupon deal if you want to check it out:
  2. Print labels with your info. on them to use for the drawings in the Expo. I went to NCCE 2016 in February which is about half as small as ISTE and it was insane trying to write my info on a million little tickets to enter myself into raffles in the Expo hall. I can only imagine how many there will be at ISTE!! I read somewhere that it would take 46 hours to walk and stop on every aisle in the Expo at ISTE! That just blows my mind! Now don’t get me wrong…I love free stuff but I definitely don’t want to spend two entire days of the conference walking around the EXPO. So, in an effort to kick my free stuff into high gear, I created some labels with the required info on them so that I can just slap the label on the entry form and call it a day! Some info to make sure and include would be: name, district, address (I put my school address), phone number (classroom/school number), and email address. I also made my labels on Zazzle and was able to pay one S&H for both my cards and my labels. You can check out the labels here:
  3. Plan but be flexible. Planning ahead is vital when it comes to such a large conference. I read that there are over 1,000 different sessions held plus workshops, keynotes, and all of the “activities” that aren’t listed on the schedule! The first thing I did was download the ISTE 2016 app on my iPad and my iPhone. If you haven’t done that yet go do it! NOW! It’s great because you can browse the different options by day and time and then click on the star to favorite the ones you like. Once I went through a few times and made sure that I had everything I liked favorited, I went through my favorites and narrowed down the sessions by day and time. I now have a loose idea of what sessions I want to go to. Some advice that I got from my Voxer friends is to walk the conference center before the conference starts and check out where the sessions are. Sometimes you might pick two sessions that are back to back but are so far apart physically that it would be impossible for you to make it on time. Also, I made sure that I didn’t plan every second of every day. I’m going to need some down time to relax and reflect on the things that I’ve learned. I might also hear about a session while I’m there or meet up with a great group to collaborate with. I’m definitely the planning type but I am trying my best to stay flexible!!

Just a few more weeks and we will be on our way to Denver!! Woohoo!! So excited to learn and experience ISTE for the first time! If you haven’t already, please connect with my on Twitter at @hmarrs24


One of my favorite new apps to use in class this year is Classkick. It is great for both whole group lessons and independent or flipped lessons. I use Classkick with my third graders during math lessons often when I want to share a lesson and have all of my students work on the same problem on their own iPads. I can write or draw a problem on my iPad and it automatically shows up on their iPad. Then they can work on the problem while I watch and give feedback in real time.

Classkick is also used very often during our reading workshop. I like to use it for our leveled reading books, word work, dictation, etc. Students can watch a video or listen to the story on their own and then answer questions, find evidence in a picture of the text, or draw out their answer. Here is a screencast that gives you an idea of some of the ways Classkick is being used in my classroom.


Professional Development for Teachers

How many professional development sessions have you been to in the last year that have actually been valuable to you in your teaching and learning? If you can count them on one hand, then the PD in our profession is failing. It’s not just failing you, it’s failing our students as well. The more I talk to teachers and administrators in different districts and different states one thing is always the same: PD is not personalized, usually top-down, and not impacting teaching and learning the way that it should be. So what do we do? How do we solve this problem?

About a month ago my district opened a position for an EdTech Teacher Leader. It is an extra duty position so I still get to continue teaching 3rd grade but in addition to that I get to be part of a team that provides Technology PD to our district. As part of that PD, we also get to meet 1:1 with teachers, team teach, and work with teachers in their classrooms on integrating tech into their classes. Needless to say, I am extremely excited for this new opportunity!!

But now the question hangs in the air: what do we do to make the PD that we are offering different from all of the other PD they get? How do we personalize it? How do we make it accessible to teachers K-12 when they need it? How do we differentiate it so that teachers with less tech experience don’t get lost but teachers with more tech experience don’t get bored?

What if we offer a differentiated, collaborative program online where teachers can move at their own pace? Is there such a place? I think there could be. I’ve spent much time searching and trying out different ideas. The best place I found so far is called Participate Learning. I was introduced to it at NCCE 2016 a few weeks ago. It’s an easily accessible platform online where multiple people can collaborate on a “collection” adding resources, videos, links, etc. You can share your collection with others for them to access. There is also the ability to have discussions within the collection. Here is a link to my Seesaw collection. Check it out and let me know what you think. Do you think this will be a good solution to our PD problem? Any suggestions? Any other options to consider?

Seesaw at NCCE 2016

Is it really almost the last day of the conference already? I can’t believe that it will be over tomorrow…I’ve been looking forward to this for sooo long now! Even though tomorrow is the last day, it is also the day of my presentation!! I will be presenting a workshop on Utilizing Seesaw:The Learning Journal in the 1:1 Classroom. My workshop is from 10:15-12:15 in room 2B. Come check it out!FullSizeRender 3

Welcome to those of you who are here because you are attending my workshop! Please make sure that you are following #seesawncce on Twitter during the workshop. You can post questions, comments, and resources using the #seesawncce. If you don’t have iTunesU, you are still able to access the Keynote slides for the workshop here.

If for some crazy reason we happen to have more than 50 people wanting to sign up for the iTunesU course, I made a copy of the course that you can sign up for here. Unfortunately, iTunesU has a max class size of 50 and although I doubt that the class will be over 50, I’ve done presentations before that filled up fast and I wasn’t prepared! IMG_1257

During the workshop we will be having some time to play around with the Seesaw app as well as some of my other fav apps. I’ve created some Stations for you to visit as you spend your time discovering this amazing app. My hope is that you are going to be so excited about Seesaw that you will not only go back and use it in your classroom but also that you will be teaching other staff and teachers at your school! You can access the station posters here if you would like to use them for your own PD or even in the classroom! They have been fully tested by my own students and they LOVED going around to each station! IMG_0789

Our First Twitter Chat was a Success!

We hosted our first Twitter chat ever this morning as a class! As part of EdCamp Global Classrooms we hosted a Twitter Chat on Creation Apps in the Elementary Classroom. You can catch the Storify here.

It was such a new experience for me and totally out of the realm of what we normally do in the classroom! It took me a very LONG time to jump into the Twitter world to begin with. I definitely was not a fan and was usually found saying, “I don’t want to know what everyone had for breakfast!” in response to anyone who asked why I wasn’t on Twitter. After probably the 10th time that one of my techy friends told me I NEEDED to be on Twitter, I decided to try it out. I made an account and followed a few education people but didn’t really have focus and so I lost interest in it very quickly. About 6 months later I was reading a blog post about how wonderful Twitter was for this person’s professional development. Sadly, I can’t remember who it was or where I read it. 😦 Anyhow, I decided to give it a go one more time only this time with a more focused intent: Ed Tech.

I ONLY followed people who were Ed Tech Bloggers, Ed Tech Teachers/Coaches, and the Apps that I really liked to use in my classroom. Suddenly I saw what everyone had been talking about: the amazing personal learning community that I can create for myself! I can now say that Twitter is the SINGLE BEST thing I have done for my own professional development since I started teaching. I have learned so much from all of the amazing educators and Ed Tech gurus, I have connected with teachers and classes from all over the world, and I’ve been able to bring something into the classroom that not only engages students but connects them on a global level!

It have definitely come a long way in the world of Twitter and I feel that I have so much further to go! Today I can now say that I have successfully hosted my first Twitter chat and I can’t wait for more!

Follow my class @ereroom9  or me @hmarrs24

We are hoping to have more #room9chat in the future!

Ed Camp Global Classrooms 2016

Have you heard of Ed Camp Global? If you haven’t, you have got to check them out right now! I attended Ed Camp Global online last summer and it was by far the best thing I’ve done for my own professional development in years!! So when I heard that they were planning on doing Ed Camp Global Classrooms, I knew I just had to be involved. My classroom is going to host our VERY FIRST Twitter chat ever. We will be chatting about Creation Apps in the Elementary Classroom on Thursday, January 28th at 9am PST. You can follow the chat at #room9chat. We will be taking a closer look at the creation apps that have had the biggest impact on our learning.

Of course, we won’t be the only classroom presenting during the 48 hour ECGC2016. Check out the full schedule here. And don’t forget to jump on to our Twitter chat next Thursday!!