Tuesday, July 18, 2017

TCEA #Tots & Technology 2017

TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) is a great organization that promotes and supports the use of technology in education. TCEA provides a wide variety of learning opportunities, such as a statewide conference and local area conferences. TCEA also provides online learning options, including their Lunch and Learn series.

In 2015, I attended TCEA in Austin and reflected on it here. Plus, I attended TCEA Tots & Tech in Galveston and reflected on it here. This year I am thrilled TCEA Tots & Tech is in Arlington, which is very close by! Many teachers and librarians from our district are attending, which makes for great collaboration and deeper learning opportunities. Plus, it is a great time to continue to build relationships.
Some of the GCISD Educators at Tots

One of my favorite things about attending a conference is making connections with others. I've been in touch with another educator in the area for a while as she is looking to find the best next steps in her journey as an educator. We had the opportunity to meet face to face and chat today. It was great to meet the person I've been talking to on the phone and via text and email. One of the sessions today was called 'Birds of a Feather' which provided a room for same area educators to gather, connect, and collaborate. So, all first-grade teachers met in a room, etc. My group consisted of five instructional coaches. We were given questions to discuss then tweet, like a Twitter Chat. It was so nice to have time to meet others in a structured, yet flexible environment. We shared ideas, got connected on Twitter, and discussed challenges and celebrations from our year.
Our Birds of a Feather Group
There are so many opportunities for learning, and some sneak up and surprise you! While attending Miguel Guhlin's session on Blogging and Podcasting, he used me and a few others that were 'voluntold' to share our experiences with blogging in our classrooms. You know I LOVE to blog and had great experiences with my students blogging, but impromptu speaking is a HUGE fear of mine. However, I think once I got going, I shared our blogging story well. He recorded the conversation to share on Voxer, which I think elevated my anxiety; but afterward, I was pretty pumped to share more. I looked up the microphone he used on his phone and want to purchase one for recording students and teachers when I'm on campuses. It was a fun time and I will remember that presentation, for sure!
Me getting interviewed
Other topics included using QR & AR for Early Literacy (@techwnancy) with TONS of ideas and resources plus Lawsome Elementary's (@SusieTowber1 & @SeaLionLibrary) journey to "Playker" Spaces. The resources shared by other educators (blogs, books, robotics) are on my Amazon Wish List and I will share those ideas forward with others I work with. CISD Coaches shared the idea of having a 'Play Date' with teachers and admin to provide time to explore coding and robotics with support nearby as needed, making connections on how to integrate with the curriculum. Our team has InTech Coaching, which made me realize I need to be more intentional about using that time to expose others to the tools we use and learn about on a daily basis.

As silly as it sounds, another fun feature I enjoyed was TCEA provided good food and time to enjoy it with peers. By having food available, we didn't have to leave and waste time going somewhere else, plus we got to visit and enjoy time with people - building relationships and sharing ideas. In my role, I work with staff district-wide so it is wonderful to have time with others to get to know them and share ideas. Plus, it is nice to gain new ideas while hearing new ways to use tools we already love.

Be sure to check out #TCEA to see what kind of professional learning opportunities meet your needs and goals. In what ways do you enjoy learning and connecting as an educator?

Sunday, July 16, 2017


WOW! Attending ISTE this year was awesome! ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education. This year it was held in San Antonio, which made it easy for me to travel to and attend. However, nothing - even the wonderful blog posts and emails prior to - helped me prepare for all that was in store.
Before I begin, I want to encourage you to attend a conference. ANY conference! In Texas, there are so many offered, it is a matter of connecting with someone to find one or more that fit your learning styles and goals. An instructional coach in our district led me to several which in turn began a new platform for learning and sharing for me.
A few of my favorite are:
*ISTE - annual conference bringing people together from around the world
*TCEA - annual conference located in Texas
*TCEA Tots & Technology - primarily focused on elementary (Pk-5) educators
*EdCamp  - an unconference where educators come together and create the agenda on site based on needs of attendees
*iPadpalooza - a learning event unlike the others focused but not limited to iPads and integrating technology
*EdTech Team GAFE Summits - conference learning how to use Google (GSuite) in education in more depth
There are many others, such as SXSWEdu and local area conferences that I enjoy. Search and find some that work for you and GO!
A helpful hint I picked up before attending ISTE was to pick a few topics of focus and stick to them. There are hundreds of options each day and over 15,000 attendees - so many choices made it hard to even know what to do, let alone where to go. So, I picked a few based on what I thought would be beneficial learning to meet my goals. Another hint I read but did not take seriously was wear comfortable shoes. I was dressed more professionally and most people were comfortable (it was super hot and humid and completely appropriate for shorts and tennis shoes). My feet had many blisters and were hurting terribly.

Students sharing how AR amplifies
their language acquisition.

Poster Sessions on all sorts of topics.
This topic is 50 PE Tech Tools!

First, I selected several sessions on Makerspaces. In my classroom I enjoyed exploring the idea of a makerspace and it was always evolving. In my new role, I get to work alongside teachers and librarians who are introducing or evolving their makerspaces in their learning spacees. It was so beneficial to see and hear so many ideas! Pamela Howell shared the idea of Makerspace Ambassadors to create task cards, train teachers, and assist students. One of my favorite new manipulatives I spotted are www.plus-plus.us What a fun tool to use for creating and imaginative exploration! Plus, they were invented by a dad at one of the schools and I love supporting small businesses. Most of the information I gained on makerspaces was at Poster Sessions - these were set up similar to what I would think of as like a Science Fair. Educators would set up with resources and share their ideas. Some included students, which was also a huge favorite of mine! I was able to hear Colleen Graves, who is an amazing educator that I've followed for years, speak on her experiences with makerspaces. All the information - so excited to share!

My second focus was on Tech Teams. As a classroom teacher, I (along with many others) had a Tech Team in the classroom that consisted of students rotating in roles to help support others with their technology. This may include a tech issue or how to use an app for learning purposes. It also often included charging devices and setting them up before we were 1:1 in the classroom. A hope I have in my current role is to begin a few Tech Teams at the elementary level. I was able to visit with many students at Poster Sessions about their roles on a Tech Team. I loved the ideas from Jennifer Casa-Todd @JCasaTodd on having roles that include social media and public relations on the Tech Team. I gained so many tidbits of ideas, like being sure to have a team that is inspiring students to solve problems and promote healthy digital use.

With all the information coming in (there is SO much I'm not including in this post) I felt most moved by the learning I gained regarding Digital Citizenship. At the time, the grad school class I was in was Digital Citizenship, so I already had it on my mind. Plus, our district is working to become Common Sense Media Certified for Digital Citizenship and our team is providing resources and support to students, staff, schools, and community. It is a big goal of mine, but even more so now. I had also just ordered Jennifer Casa-Todd's book Social LEADia the week prior to ISTE after learning about it on Twitter. When I figured out she was presenting, I HAD to go - and meet her! (I did.) Her presentation was amazing. It really made me think. I need to write an entire post on Digital Citizenship soon, but this topic was fueled for me at ISTE. One piece in particular that made an impact on me was at the IGNITE Smackdown by Keegan Korf @OPSMrsKorf She discussed how often we shame students/children into FEAR from their mistakes made on social media, that they do not understand that they can recover from mistakes and trust adults to help them. Instead they often feel alone and ashamed, that they have no future if they do make a mistake or if something hurtful is posted about them. This five minute speech really got to me. How do we support students to see the positive? How do we support students to recover from mistakes? @jdayedu suggested we ensure students know that we are there for them and 'when in doubt, talk it out' but we have to listen and act. As Jennifer Casa-Todd mentioned, it takes more than hanging some 'THINK' posters around campus. As I stated before, more to come on this topic. Another post, another day.

WOW! That barely scratches the surface on my #ISTE17 experience. Y'all, there was so much more!! I was fortunate to meet so many people I connect with on Twitter and Instagram IRL (in real life) A few I met were @TaraMartinEDU @MrsGadtke @jess_malloy @JCasaTodd and SO many others. I got to work as a Seesaw Ambassador in the @Seesaw booth in the EXPO for an hour and loved sharing Seesaw with others. The EXPO!! Oh my - this is where I connected with so many vendors and tools that I use and share with others. It was great to chat and give feedback on how we use these tools in classrooms to amplify learning. I was able to learn from @AliceKeeler @jmattmiller @KleinErin @lhighfill - right there in the EXPO! I met a few educators, too - yes, this shy, introverted person felt brave and met some new people to learn with. I also met a few of my LAMAR professors and one of my online peers IRL.
Meeting @TaraMartinEDU and @MrsGadtke
at the @Seesaw Booth

@jmattmiller PLUS got a book!


My LAMAR professor and peer.

Remember to take time to digest all the information and reflect. Getting away for a conference is also a great time to build community with your team and peers. Meet for lunch, chat about your learning, CONNECT THE DOTS. It's ok to have fun!
See the sites!
Remember the Alamo!
Take time to reflect and
digest ALL the learning.

ISTE was amazing and overwhelming, but I left overflowing with ideas to share and implement. Have you attended a beneficial learning opportunity lately? What is one of your new tidbits of learning to share?