If a Tree Falls…

For the last few months Oregon EdChat (#OrEdChat) has been doing a book study on Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. This past week we were discussing Chapter 15: Unleash Social Media to Tell Your School’s Story. This message isn’t exactly new to me. I’ve heard it many times and it’s something that I am completely onboard with! 

#BookSnap of Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney & Adam Welcome

Each time I read about or discuss the necessity of telling our school or classroom’s story with the world, the wheels in my head start turning (I’m not sure they ever really stop…). Although I might think this is a completely necessary part of the educational world we live in, I tend to be in the minority. So many of the educators I work with are still not on social media for anything professional much less sharing their school/classroom story. We’ve all heard the expression, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” It makes me think… “If I’m doing amazing things in my classroom/school and I don’t share them out on social media, does it make the same impact I COULD be making on my students, families, and community that I serve?” 

By sharing our story we make our selves more relevant to our students, more accessible to families, a better connection to our community, a stronger support system to other educators. That sounds FANTASTIC! This is exactly what I want to be as an educator. We know our job is more than just teaching a lesson. We also know what things make teaching easier to do. Building relationships, creating connections, finding our people. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t educators jump onboard and set sail on the Social Media ocean liner? Everyone has their reasons but I’ve narrowed it down to three of the most common reasons I hear: 

  • Fear- Fear of social media, fear of the unknown, fear of what families, students, or community members might say. 
  • Time- No time for anything “extra”, no time to learn how, no time to keep track of it all
  • Knowledge- Don’t know how social media works, don’t know how to get started, don’t know what to put out there

Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome say it very well in their book “Kids Deserve It” when they say that we all have time for exactly what we make time for. Isn’t that the truth? What we make time for shows where our priorities lie. As educators our priorities are extremely important not just for us but for our students as well. The way that we prioritize our time directly affects our teaching and our students’ learning. So how do we encourage others to take the same jump into social media that we have? How do we get them to walk past fear, pick up knowledge, and reprioritize their time? I think that we can first and foremost be models. If I share my classroom’s story on social media and then share my successes in doing so with my colleagues, it gets them thinking and asking questions. They can see how sharing my story is positively impacting my classroom and my teaching. Once I get their wheels turning, I offer some knowledge. We get together and look at my classroom’s social media, create an account for them, and get them started on the right track. Once they start to see the value in sharing their story, being on social media starts to make it’s way up the priority list which means….more time! 

This is not a failsafe plan by any means. Sometimes it’s successful in days and sometimes it takes months or years. And then again sometimes it fails epically. But for better or worse, I keep on sharing my story and my classroom’s story because at the end of the day I know the exponential benefits it has for my students, families, and community. 


ISTE Shorts: #NextLevelEdu- Gamification, Anchor Charts, PLF

I’ve been asked several times over the course of the last few days, “What is your big take-away from ISTE 2017?” I get the feeling that people are wanting me to tell them that I found a tool, idea, or a session that I just can’t wait to implement next year. Although, I have found some new tools and ideas that I will definitely be using in the future, I believe that my biggest take-away has been that I am going to take the things that I’m already doing to the Next Level. My PLN, gamification, BookSnaps, and anchor charts are just a few things I’ve leveled up this week due to my experiences at ISTE17!

Gamification: Gamification in itself is Next Level education. Layering the most engaging game mechanics over our curriculum allows educators to take their classrooms to the next level. As I’ve said before, Michael Matera and Tisha Richmond have both been pivotal in my implementation of gamification this year. It blows my mind that a high school teacher and a middle school teacher have had such a huge impact on my elementary classroom! If you would have told me who I would be influenced by and what I would be doing in my classroom a few years ago, I never would have believed you. It means the world to me to be a part of the #xplap (Explore Like a Pirate) crew. They are the most genuine, hard working, creative, passionate people and I’m so lucky to call them my friends! 

Nick Davis, Michael Matera, Adam Bold, Tisha Richmond, Tara Martin, and Jonathan Spike (Not pictured: Carrie Baughcum)

I think many people, including myself at one point, look at gamification as a huge monster of a project. When in reality it’s just taking what we do every day and taking it to the next level. I already had my students in groups. I already had a point system in place. But in organizing my thoughts, creating a theme, and layering game mechanics, I was able to take what I already had in place to a level that was more accessible and far more engaging for my students than ever before. 

Anchor Charts: For years I’ve been following Erin Flanagan of Erintegration on Facebook and Twitter so when I saw that she was presenting at ISTE, I jumped on the chance to hear her speak…no matter what it was about! So, I went to Erin’s Interactive Anchor  Charts session and, as I had expected, it was excellent! She showed us some of her regular anchor charts (which were way better than mine have ever been) and then showed us how she took them to the next level by adding an element of technology to them where students could interact with the anchor charts. My favorite things that I took away from this session were: typing up your anchor chart after you make it with your class to make it look cleaner, adding QR codes to the chart for students to interact with, and using interactive anchor charts as part of reading workshop. What great ways to take something many of us already do in the classroom and take it to the Next Level! 

Professional Learning Family as my Next Level PLN: My journey to becoming a connected educator has been so amazing and completely unexpected. After refusing to get on Twitter for a few years, I finally decided to jump on board. Over the past two years Twitter has quickly become the best thing I’ve done for my own PD. I have made friends, found support, been involved in multiple online EdCamps, and created the #OrEdChat. My professional learning network means a lot to me and I would not be the educator I am today if it weren’t for them. However, when I started meeting my tribe at conferences this year, my PLN truly went to the next level. The connections grew stronger, the face to face time allowed for deeper conversations, and they became my Professional Learning Family. Shared experiences, inside jokes, laughter, and fun times are all things that will live in my heart and pop up in my mind every time I think of them. Instead of being sad that I won’t see them again for a while, I am looking forward to the future to seeing more of my PLF face to face and continuing to build and nurture these relationships.

What makes us different? Over and over again I heard people talking about how great it is to be around the people who “get us” here at ISTE. That we feel like we live on an island by ourselves for the majority of the year where we have access to a smart phone and internet but no other human contact. Why is that? Why are there so many of us who are so like minded converging in one place and yet we can’t even find others in our own schools like us? Why are we the kind of people getting the alien look or elbowed by other teachers during a staff meeting and told to stop talking before we say something that causes us all to try something new? What makes us so different? These questions plagued me every time I heard someone exclaim that it feels so good to be surrounded by our own people! 

After some reflection and thought, I believe the one thing that sets us apart is that we are willing to take education to the next level. We are willing to take our students, classrooms, schools, personal and professional development to the next level. We start where we are and we take steps to make it happen. We have a growth mindset and know that we will fail forward many times. We will push the envelope, make people cringe, and reach out to our PLN for support. We are Next Level Educators. 

How are you taking education to the next level? Share with us on Twitter at #NextLevelEDU

ISTE Shorts: Sketchnoting 

One of my favorite things that I have implemented this year is sketchnoting. I first learned about sketchnoting on Twitter in the fall. I loved the potential that it had, especially in reading, so I went ahead and tried it out. We started by covering some of the basics of sketchnoting. I wanted my students to have purpose and know the difference between a good sketchnotes and a doodle. Pinterest has an enormous amount of examples, both good and bad. I chose a few and showed them to my students. We discussed the elements needed to create a successful sketchnote. We also discussed some of the things not to do. I modeled a sketchnote for them using the title, author, and vocabulary words among other things. The first time we listened to the story we closed our eyes and visualized images in our head. The second time we listened to the story, we only sketched out our sketchnote with a pencil. Once we were done with our pencil drawings, we went back to add color, connections, details, bubbles, etc. Here’s some examples of student sketchnotes: https://youtu.be/GaZvPOoV5vQ 

Over the year I have learned more from Sunni Brown (@SunniBrown) at IntegratEd and on Twitter from people like Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) and all of the amazing educators who participated in #Sketch50. So when I heard that Sylvia was going to be at ISTE and talking in an Ignite, I made sure that I was there! I was hoping that I would also run into Sylvia at the Seesaw booth today as she was scheduled to be there during the hour before me. But…I got to talking with the guys in the Kahoot booth and ended up missing her. 😦  

It was a wonderful surprise when later that day I met Mandi Tolen in the Blogger’s Cafe during a meet up with my friends Tara and Tisha. While Mandi and I walked to the Expo together afterward she told me that she was also a sketchnoter. Wanting to know more, I asked her about what she likes to use, how it works, etc. Needless to say, I totally picked her brain on the topic! Not only did she tell me all about how she uses Procreate and DoInk to sketch and animate her sketchnotes, she dropped her bag right there in the middle of the Expo, got out her iPad, and SHOWED us how she uses Procreate! It was absolutely the best “unsession” I went to this week! She showed us features that I didn’t know existed, gave me pointers on how to save my sketches for later use, and explained how she added them to DoInk! I was so grateful for her willingness to take time out of her day and share her own knowledge with me!! She’s fantastic! Make sure that you are following Mandi on Twitter at @TTmomTT!

ISTE17 Days 1 & 2

ISTE is flying by! It’s already the end of day 2 and I am totally exhausted! I flew out of Seattle Saturday night and got into San Antonio on Sunday morning. Luckily I got to meet up with my friend Elizabeth Rossmiller of Tech Out my Class on the second flight from Dallas to San Antonio. Elizabeth and I have been friends on Twitter for a long time and got a chance to meet a few months ago in Portland at NCCE 2017. She is a Tech Coach in Gresham and has an amazing blog! You can find her on Twitter at @techoutmyclass and make sure to check out her blog here: http://www.techoutmyclass.com/ 

Elizabeth and I at the Seesaw Booth

After getting settled in at the hotel and freshening up, I got to meet some of my #xplap crew face to face finally! I was so sad that I didn’t get to hang with one of my fav twitter peeps Carrie Baughcum for longer as she had to jet. 😦 She is just as amazing in person as she is in the Twitter-sphere! Speaking of totally geeking out on meeting my Twitter PLN, take a look at all of these outstanding educators who are part of my Personal Learning Family (as Sarah Thomas likes to call it) that I have met in just the last two days:

Joanna VanRaden and I at the conference center

Tara Martin (#BookSnaps) and I at the Seesaw Booth

Tisha Richmond and I

Michael Matera, Nick Davis, Tisha Richmond, & Adam Bold

Julie Jacobs and I at the Seesaw Booth

These people right here have all had a significant impact on me as a person, a professional, and an educator! I cannot overstate the fact that Twitter is by far the most powerful thing I’ve done for my professional development in my entire career. It is amazing the connections, support, encouragement, inspiration, resources, ideas, and relationships that have come out of being active on Twitter. It’s not that I don’t find conferences like ISTE to be valuable, I find them to be extremely valuable. It’s just that these conferences are so much more impactful when you get to connect with the amazing educators that you talk to in the Twittersphere everyday face to face! It’s one thing to go to sessions and walk around the Expo hall but it is such a different experience to know the presenters, go out to lunch with your PLN, and play games with them until 1 in the morning! The connections you make are powerful and continue on into your Twittersphere and on to the next conference. The other thing that makes Twitter one step higher on the PD ladder is that it is daily, take it when you need it, differentiated, personalized professional development like no other. I’m so excited to see what adventures my PLN and I are going to go on next! 

When I wasn’t just meandering about chatting it up with people (although that did happen quite a bit), I actually did go to sessions and visit the Expo hall! I went to a session today that Joanna VanRaden did on Blending the Writer’s Workshop and it was fantastic. I really like the idea of creating content in video form to teach my students the writing lesson and then having more time to spend with students one on one or in small groups. It really is the number one issue that teachers have in all things: TIME! In blending your workshop, you are able to in a sense create more time for yourself by creating a writing master clone of yourself. Then you can use the time you would have spent teaching the lesson, answering questions (Can I go to the bathroom?? When’s lunch??), and otherwise just managing children to actually spend quality time working directly with students on their writing. If you want to check out more about Joanna and her fantastic writing ideas, you can find her on Twitter at @joannavrteaches

Keep an eye out tomorrow for another blog post! It’s late and I’m tired…so this gal is off to bed! 

Reflections on the Gamified Classroom

I cannot believe that just one year ago I learned about gamification while sitting in a Southern Oregon EdTech Cadre meeting. My good friend Tisha Richmond (Check out her blog here: The Connected Culinary Clasroom) shared her experiences with gamification and all of the amazing things she was doing in her classroom and I just knew I had to find out more! Last summer we did a book study on “Explore Like a Pirate” by Michael Matera. It was amazing to me to read this book as it was such a catalyst for ideas! I have gone back and read it multiple times and even now I have ideas exploding in my head with every page! If you have not already read this book, I highly recommend that you run out to the store (or if you’re lazy like me…go to Amazon) right now and buy it. Summer is the best time for reading and professional development because we actually have time to process and plan!

Every summer I learn so much and I get very excited (just ask anyone who has spent any amount of time with me during the summer…my excitement may be a tad overwhelming at times…). So this last year I knew I needed to reign it in a little. I wanted to focus on just one or two things and do them really well instead of trying to do everything. So, after some deliberation I decided to go with flexible seating and gamification. Holy cow was I in luck because when I showed up in the fall to meet my students, I had 30 students and 20 of them were boys! I can not tell you enough how powerful the combination of flexible seating and gamification were in my classroom this year! I’m not saying that my girls didn’t also enjoy these things but, WOW! the boys in my classroom definitely benefited the most I think. But I’m not going to get into flexible seating too much right now…that’s a post for another time. For now, let’s get back to gamification. IMG_0749Gamifying my classroom had many benefits but some of the biggest ones I saw this past year were:

  • Unified our class and brought us together as a team. In elementary school this seems to be an easier task than in middle or high. We usually spend our first month of school doing activities and projects that bind us together and teach procedures and expectations that help keep our team successful. However, this year it did not take a month, not even a full week for our class to bond. The minute that they watched our intro video and we ALL became a part of the Ascension Space Exploration Program, they knew we were in this together. You should have seen their faces!! They were completely ecstatic! What an amazing experience to bond with your class in a way that no other class gets to. Even if other classes are gamifying or if I use the same theme next year, no one will ever go on the journey that we went on this year as a team! That kind of bond is irreplaceable and invaluable in the classroom.
  • Students were doing school work when it wasn’t required on weekends and holidays and without getting a grade! As our gamified year went on, we would launch side missions. Side missions are projects or assignments done outside of school for XP and not for a grade. Some of our side missions were vocabulary projects or make a project surrounding the Super Moon last fall. When Winter Break came around I knew I wanted to have them do a side mission over the break but I wanted it to be more engaging and immersive than the ones we had previously done. So…I made up a story about us finding a lost astronaut in space named Rogue. Rogue had been out there for a long time and he was very lonely. I made a video using Tellagami to introduce Rogue to the class.​

    ​ I explained that he was so lonely that he would like to go home with them over break. I gave each student a cardstock cut out of Rogue the Astronaut and told them to take him on their adventures of the break. They needed to take pictures of themselves with Rogue and write about their adventures. They could put their project together however they want to and would get a varying amount of XP depending on what we all thought they deserve based on their project. When we got back from Winter Break I was blown away by the projects they turned in!! Some students made poster boards, some printed out the pictures and wrote on the back, and one of my students brought in an entire book that she wrote with a picture and story on every single page! I couldn’t believe that I just got 70% of my students writing over Winter Break and they didn’t even get a grade for it!

  • It gave otherwise unengaged, uninterested students an opportunity to jump in to school head first and gave them a sense of pride in themselves and the work they’ve done. Some of my most unengaged and uninterested students tend to be my kiddos who are above grade level academically. They get bored with doing what everyone else is doing and don’t feel challenged enough so they check out, cause trouble, or just are interested in putting effort in anymore. Gamification has allowed for these students to jump back into the game and really take off! I was able to get their attention, keep it, and extend their learning easier this year than I have in the past. Through side missions, boss battles, and items I was able to get them into the game so much so that they started making parts of our game up themselves!! We used Sumdog as a way to have boss battles. Sumdog is a math app where students can play a game against another student in the classroom but the math problems will be tailored to that studnet’s math level. Students got to challenge each other to a game and the winner won XP. Many of my students loved boss battles but one day one student said, “Hey what if we did Mega Boss Battles!” I was intrigued, so I asked him to tell me more. He said that a mega boss battle would be a boss battle against me for double the XP. Since Sumdog levels the math according to the player, the playing field was leveled for them. While I was being asked to multiply decimals, they were being asked the perimeter of a rectangle or what 6X7 is. Mega Boss Battles were an immediate hit! And my student who made it up could not have been more proud of his idea!
  • It empowered my students to creatively solve problems in our classroom. My class this year was particularly low in math. I had to completely change the way I had been teaching math. I created a plan where I would teach whole group for 15 minutes then we would have four rotations where I met with small groups and taught the lesson again in a different way while filling in holes where I could. About half way through the school year we started running into a problem where too many students needed my help with their assignment and I did not have the time to help everyone since I was working with small groups for the majority of the math time. One of my students asked if it would be possible to help other students when they were finished. I said of cours
    e! Later he suggested that students who help be compensated for their time with XP. That night I went home and tried to figure out who these new characters in our game were going to be, how to tie them in, and how much XP to offer. The next day I came in with Mechanical Engineer badges on lanyards ready to teach my students how to help others with their work without doing the work for them. It turned out to be not only beneficial for my students who were struggling but also for my Mechanical Engineers! Now my students who were finished early were spending their time teaching the math to others instead of doing other fast finisher options.
  • We got to have some very special shared experiences. Share experiences bring people together in such a special way. Before gamification we enjoyed shared experiences like reading a chapter book together as a class or going on a special field trip but nothing compares to the special shared experiences you get to have in a gamified classroom. There are too many to list here but my last and one of my favorite shared experiences was at the end of the year when we found out which crew had won. Which crew had accrued the most XP and therefore found the planet that would save Earth and restore our resources! In celebration, I had t-shirts made for them and they got to wear them to school on the last day! Of course, I had to get one for myself too! 😉


Flipping Some Bottles Reflections

Last week my class did the Bottle Flipping Challenge. You can find out more about the lesson here: Flipping Some Bottles

It was so much fun! My students had a blast and learned so much! We were collecting data, graphing, learning about probability, scientific inquiry, and measurement. This is the exact reason why I love project-based learning so much. It takes real-life situations (ok, so you may never flip a bottle in your adult life….but to kids it is definitely real-life!) and connects them with curriculum and standards in a fun and engaging way. What makes it even better is that I’ve never seen a great project based learning experience that didn’t hit at least 5 different standards across the curriculum. It’s amazing that we aren’t doing more of this in schools!

After having gone through the Bottle Flipping experience, I do have some insights and reflections that I want to share with you:

  1. Make sure to label the water bottles with the bottle number AND the number of milliliters that will be in that bottle.
  2. Start with the smallest number of milliliters in bottle #1 and go up to the largest amount of milliliters in bottle #15. This will give your graph more of a trend look than a random one. I started with 100 ml and went up to 300 ml since I had 500 ml water bottles.
  3. Model for students how to go from bottle to bottle and where to keep track of the data. I had modeled it for my students in the classroom but when we went out to the playground, a few of them got confused. I told them they did not need to go in order from #1-15 but they did need to make sure that their data is on the correct line. Unfortunately, a few of my students started at #1 (even if they were at bottle #13) and went straight down the page not paying any attention to the bottle numbers. Luckily they wrote down the ml amounts so we could figure it out!
  4. Make sure to have some time for students to finish up before going on to the class totals. I had about 6 kids who did not get done flipping the bottles during the amount of time they were given originally so I had to have them finish the next day.
  5. Next time I think I will have students fill out a google form (or something similar) with their information so as to collect the class totals. This time I had them hold up the number on their fingers and I had to do a TON of mental math. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the end of that lesson!

Overall, I think the lesson was definitely a success and the kids will remember it for a long time! I’m excited to do it again next year!

Flipping Some Bottles

I am SO gyaylad that state testing is over!! I’m not shy about how much I dislike the state testing. How much time it takes from learning, how it’s not developmentally appropriate, how it doesn’t provide information that informs my teaching like assessments should. Now that it’s over, we can get back to our regularly scheduled amazing learning experiences!!

This week I’m teaching measurement. I will be honest: measurement is not my strong suit. I can’t ever remember liters, quarts, pints, etc. and it makes me crazy! So…I decided to spice it up and make it fun! Both for my own benefit and for my students! As I thought about what to do about measuring milliliters, I looked at the curriculum. It only had worksheets with pictures of things asking what unit of measurement you would use to measure the water in a bathtub or in a bucket. This is probably how I learned to measure and why, to this day, I am unable to decipher between a quart and a pint (shh! Don’t tell anyone!). I knew I had to make measuring hands on and fun or my students will turn out like me, heaven forbid!

So, I decided to have a Bottle Flipping Challenge. The great thing about hands on, project-based learning is that you are never just teaching one thing! During the Bottle Flipping Challenge, my students will not only be measuring milliliters but we will also be collecting data, creating graphs, and discussing probability. That kind of stuff just makes my teacher heart flutter!

Here’s the plan (feel free to use any or all of it….stealing is welcomed around here):

First, students will get into partners. They will be given a water bottle with a number on it (I’m numbering my water bottles 1-15 for tracking purposes), a post-it with a certain amount of milliliters (ex. 45ml), and a beaker that measure milliliters. As partners, students will measure out the amount of water they were given on the post-it note into the beaker, dump out the rest of the water in the sink and refill their water bottle with the specific amount that they measured out. (I could have measured out each water bottle on my own but this way students are actually getting a chance to practice measuring to the milliliter and have a hand in setting up the project)

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.13.06 AMNext, we will set out all of the 15 water bottles on the playground. Each water bottle will be labeled with the bottle number and the # of milliliters of water inside the bottle. Students will need their clipboard, pencil, and their data sheet:

PDF: Bottle Flip Challenge

Once students have their things, they will be able to go to each water bottle and flip each one 5 times. Students do not have to go in number order. As they flip their bottles, they will need to write out how many milliliters of water each bottle has and keep track of how many successful throws and epic fails they have for each one.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.17.27 AMAfter all of the flipping of bottles is finished, we will come back to the classroom to take a look at our data. As a class we will add up all of our successful throws and our epic fails for each bottle and record them on this sheet:

PDF: Bottle Flip Challenge Class Totals

Once we have the totals for each of the 15 bottles, students will flip their sheet over and graph the successful throws for each bottle. When the graphing is done, we will be able to easily pick out which bottle was most successful,Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 8.33.18 PM which was least successful, and discuss why we think we had these results. Here is the graphing paper we will use:

PDF:Bottle Flip Challenge Class Totals Bar Graph

We will be doing this project over a period of two days. I’ve never tried this before so I can’t wait to see if it actually pans out! But that is part of the fun isn’t it? Being creative and taking risks? I think so!! I  will be writing a follow up to this post once we do our project later this week. I’m looking forward to sharing how it went and letting you in on some insights to making it even better!

I have had so much fun just planning and setting up this project and I know that when I have fun teaching, my students will have fun learning!

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.