Monthly Archives: July 2012

Forcing Myself to Blog

My day so far in pictures:

If tea were to vanish from planet earth…I would cry.

I’m in awe of people that manage busy professional and personal lives and still manage to blog daily or nearly daily. I’m still trying to find a model and establish a habit for blogging that works for me. So today, I’m posting pictures. I like pictures.

LoTi PD first item on the agenda today!

Summers off is a myth! Today GV’s 1:1 team, which has expanded to included 5th grade (yay!), is meeting to discuss explore LoTi and LoTi observation with the HEAT rubric. LoTi is my second husband- I love it. More info via We have  a couple of newbies to the team so we’re covering too – another awesome tool. Schoology takes the practicial elements of moodle and the social elements of facebook and blends it together for an awesome LMS. Two thumbs way up for schoology from Mrs. Barnes.
(Clearly I am rambling now, but I’m writing so I’m just going to roll with it!)

Looming in my office….

135 laptops are looming in my office. They’re quietly calling my name begging to be readied for the coming school year. Yes, I love, LOVE teaching in a 1:1 environment…but I have a confession… I am not a wire head and prepping laptops and updating inventory makes me grumpy. I feel better now! Laptops will get my full attention later this week.
(and the rambling continues, but I’m having fun…)

WISE Team Meeting

My day will be capped off by a WISE/Leadership team meeting. Confession- I actually enjoy these meetings. I can let my 100% dorky educator side show unabashedly. I work with great people-they tolerate me.

Equally as dorky child

My children, who view GV as a second home, have commandeered a neighbor’s classroom and are letting their dorky sides shine too!

It’s time for me to get to work. It isn’t a masterpiece, but I wrote today. Two gold stars for me.


Revamping Lesson Plan Templates and Design

I am determined to find a way/program/app/site for designing and storing my lesson/unit/project plans this year.
I just haven’t found one that I like so far in my teaching career. It isn’t for lack of trying or available resources. I just haven’t found one that’s “just right” (channeling the three little bears over here) for me.

Last year I used the school’s online gradebook. While there isn’t anything that I specifically dislike about using the online gradebook, it just feels clunky (yes, tech sometimes feels clunky to me…trust me it makes complete sense in my head).

I’m trying something new this year. I figure now is the perfect time for me to find a system with which I feel compatible since I’m expecting a slightly more rigorous and in depth evaluation with newly adopted TLE model. I want to be confident that I’m documenting my lesson/unit/project plans effectively and efficiently with technology tools.

Here’s my model for this year. I’m going to use as my daily “keeping myself on track” planner, and I’ve developed a  google form to record detailed lesson, unit, and/or project plans. The google form marries resources from, LoTi HEAT, and a few look fors from the TULSA TLE model that GV will be adopting.

Imputing components of plans should happen with ease via the google form, BUT I’m concerned about the final product being stored as a spreadsheet. My plan is to share the spreadsheet with my administrators and peers, and in a perfect world, since it is a collaborative document,  they could offer feedback via the spreadsheet.

Eager for feedback. How do you or teachers you work with use technology in documenting lesson plans. Have you found a model that you love. Have you spotted a crucial MISSING component from my proposed model?

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What do we want? CHANGE! When do we want it? YESTERDAY! What do we get? DISAPPOINTED?

Keep Your Coins, i Want CHANGE Pictures, Images and Photos

This evening I came across a lifehacker article on my Facebook feed (hyperlinked in the quote) regarding passion and career choices. The article closed with:
“Choosing something you love shouldn’t be so much about looking for a good feeling, but more about how you handle the bad ones.”

This line is bouncing around my mind. I’m relatively new to education. I embarked on my formal education career ( I say formal because I consider my 7 years as a stay at home mom as valuable ‘teaching’ years too.) 4 years ago. As an alternatively certified teacher, I sometimes look at educational issues, policies, and procedures from an outsider’s perspective and, at times, find the system perplexing.

However, my passion remains…almost to fault. I believe in pushing myself and pushing for our school to be its best- pedagogy, methodology, PBL, PLN, CCSS, LoTi, and who knows how many other scholarly acronyms!

The “good feelings” abound. Watching students that are truly engaged by relevant projects and rigorous learning experiences facilitated by skilled teachers in a 1:1 environment- Good Gravy, it truly is amazing! I leave the campus feeling beyond lucky to have talented peers, amazing students, and phenomenal technology resources almost everyday. Wait…almost?

There are bad moments too. I can honestly say that my “bad moments” aren’t caused by students or classroom management issues. Perhaps students provide some challenging moments, but not bad moments.
Because I see the power of PBL and routine technology integration on a daily basis throughout the school year, sometimes I become discouraged by the rate of change in educational institutions. I want everyone to integrate technology (not necessarily my way but in some way), I want everyone to be reading educational blogs. I want everyone to love their students and find joy in teaching. I want every teacher to be effective. I want everyone to be engaged in dialogues to improve professionally. I want schools to be positive environments for students and teachers. Since I’m confessing here…ya, I want a lot of things and I know they may not all be reasonable or realistic- I’m a dreamer with high standards.

So how do I handle those moments when my educational fantasies and day dreams come crashing down around my ears? When my passion for education turns into disappointment, anger, or tears pooling in my eyes? How do I overcome the bad moments?

As a teacher, I literally do some deep breathing then close my door and dive into learning and teaching with my students. Or the year that I acted solely as a edtech coach, I went into a teacher’s room that inspired me and observed the power of an awesome learning environment.

It works for me.

How do you cope with the bad moments?

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Superb Teachers, What makes you tick?

I originally created/shared this post on June 18th via Wes Fryer’s blog. Just thought I’d share/archive it here too.

I work in a small, rural PK-8 district, Grand View. Grand View consists of an early childhood center, elementary, and middle school all close and comfy with one another on one site just north of Tahlequah city limits in Northeastern Oklahoma.
Recently, our superintendent announced that he’d be interviewing applicants for a few different teaching positions. Two positions are in 1:1 classrooms. (I’d be glad to share details with anyone who wants to join the crazy, BUT awesome, Grand View 1:1 team!)

Lately, I’ve found myself pondering what ingredients make for an amazing, high quality teacher? These new teachers to the Grand View district will be responsible for teaching students that I love. My own children may wind up in these classrooms too. As a parent, district patron, and employee of the district I want the very best for this little country school, but what qualities do you look for in an amazing teacher?

I wonder what students would list as their ‘must haves” for new GV teachers?

What attributes should potential, AWESOME teammates possess? Let me give this a go:

    Teachers that I respect treat students with respect and take the time to develop positive relationships.
    People with passion for education teach with gusto.
    Schools need to be places that foster CREATIVITY- lets start with creative teachers! (If all the textbooks vanished tomorrow would you freak?)
  4. DEDICATION to continue to learn and grow
    Dedication to learn isn’t demonstrated by attending a few PD days a year. Are you having ongoing conversations with your team mates? Planning projects together? Do you attend conferences? Are you connected with folks in your building and beyond to push yourself to learn and grow?
  5. NOT a control freak!!
    True student/learner-centered instruction means you have to let students have ownership of their education. Are you cool with that?

I realize that I haven’t included technology integration on my list. That’s on purpose. Technology is never the focus in my classroom although it’s used everyday. Teachers today should strive to develop a comfort level with using technology for their own learning and to create an environment for their students that allows for creativity and critical thinking. Many professionals use technology to complete their work tasks- let your students research and create using technology too- not as a special event but a daily necessity.

These are the characteristics that popped into my head; what ingredients do you think make for a superb teacher?


I originally created/shared this post on June 14th. We still love OKC Thunder at Grand View and in my household…seriously, how could you not? With the OKC trio of  Durant, Harden, and Westbrook making the USA team, I’m still THUNDERSTRUCK!

As a 1:1 educator and educational technology integration specialist, when Wes asked me if I’d like to contribute a #playingwithmedia post for his blog I jumped on the opportunity. I work at Grand View, a rural PK-8 district in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. Our summer camp is in full swing, and we have students working to collect family stories with ipods, planning garden plots, creating community service project proposals, making edible poop and boogers (!), and a slew of electives ranging from website design to line dancing. I pondered, in between mentoring students on their projects and improvisational games in drama class, which project should I highlight? Then a funny thing happened…our students suddenly sprouted beards.
The Grand View students were THUNDERed UP!

Oklahoma City’s NBA team, the Thunder, are in the NBA Finals. Even though we live in northeastern Oklahoma, we support OUR team! The school, and really I think the WHOLE state, is fired up about THUNDER basketball. As a teacher, sometimes you strike while the iron is hot. Grand View’s 6th-8th grade students grabbed a few friends and cameras then started capturing pictures and videos.
We spent about an hour taking photographs and TALKING about how the team has inspired us and taught us about teamwork, and  ultimately we had fun together as a school family.
Game 2 of the NBA Finals is tonight at 8pm CST- Grand View hopes you’ll join us and THUNDER UP!
The amazing songs featured in our video are used with permission and created by Chris Castor. Check him out on YouTube .

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Wonder What I’ll Learn Today?

Yesterday at a family gathering I had an opportunity to visit with my husband’s Great Uncle John. John is on the verge of his 95th birthday. Talking with John is amazing. The man is a treasue trove of information richer than the Foxfire series and  perhaps the wisest man I have the pleasure to know.  As we visited about tree grafting,  wild pig chop suey (he was being funny- he wants me to come up with a recipe- my husband hunts wild hogs…in fact that’s what he’s doing at this very moment), and many other topics.

Hard at Work Making Memories

At one moment we both looked out the kitchen window to see the kids playing outside (and maybe being a bit ornery too), he looked me in the eye and said, “they’re making history. Everyday they’re making history. You never know what’ll they’ll remember from today. Maybe it’ll be something a cousin said to them or something they see, but they’ll learn something today that’ll be with them all their life. You can never stop learning. I learn something everyday.”

John is so right. What are we doing as educators to ensure that our students are making memories and connections?

Now I’m off to make something of today. I’m excited to discover what I’ll learn today!



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Lily’s Interview #GVSummerCamp

Lily, my 10 year old daughter, interviewed her dad recently as part of a project for summer camp at Grand View.

All of the soon to be 5th grade students attending summer camp wrote interview questions, interviewed a family member using an ipod to capture audio, and edited their audio and visuals together using imovie on the ipods.

Students then uploaded their projects to the school’s youtube channel.

I’ll be posting more student projects with the hashtag #GVSummerCamp.
It brings me joy to see what students create.

I’ll be honest, I cringe at the errors in their published projects,  but they’re learning and practicing.
I’m curious.

What policies/procedures do you have in place for students in regards to revisions/proofing multi-media projects? 
Do share!  

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

Return to blogging…perhaps…?

Jack, one of the many mammals running around this place, my blogging buddy

A couple of years ago (years…gasp…it actually has been that long) I was blogging on a quasi-regular basis to share technology resources with my fellow teachers. Long story short- I stopped. No grand reason.
A few weeks ago Wes Fryer invited me to contribute to his blog while he was unplugged on a backpacking trip.
I really wasn’t sure what I would write about, but I took him up on the invitation. I figured I could come up with something. Long story short-I did. MORE IMPORTANTLY, I had fun writing those posts. So much fun that I’m going to rejoin the blogging world.
I’m a Mama and a teacher/edtech coach. I live on a farm with cows, chickens, mules, and lots and lots of dogs.
I’m sure that the majority of what’s published here will be education related, but a little bit of my personal (non-professional) interests will seep through I’m sure.
Look forward to sharing my ideas, thoughts, and ponderings with you!