Friday, September 23, 2016

Maker Space! Near Pod! Class Flow! Tech OH MY!

     It has been a busy busy time since my last post!  Summer was filled with lots of great PD, brainstorming for a more innovative year, and some continuing education.  I spent my summer working on my STEM Education Certification through Texas A & M University.  We dove right in with a course on student centered learning environments and project based learning.  This really catapulted what I was already doing within my district.  I am in my districts cohort for project based learning and flipped classroom, so taking this course helped me prepare for the cohort and my classroom as well.  I also went to CAMT (Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching) this summer with my fellow teachers in San Antonio, TX and really focused on hands-on mathematics.

I also attended training for the newest Promethean boards and a great emerging software program called Class Flow.  I will post about Class Flow separately as there is so much to talk about!

     At the start of school, I found out that I was selected as a grant recipient for my school from the Marshall Education Foundation and the funds will be used to establish a Maker Space on my campus.  Now we fast forward to the 5th week of school and I'm still working at Texas A&M on my certification while teaching.  I was sad to have my Promethean Board moved out of the classroom, but since I knew it was coming, I focused on how to keep my students TECH happy!  As a STEM and math teacher, it isn't only about the math.  I'll give you a hint, it still involves Class Flow, and the incorporation of NearPod as well.

    Stay tuned this year to see how Projects are incorporated, STEM is running rampant, and our tech is getting better and better!  What are you doing this year??

Thursday, April 7, 2016


     I got some great news today strolling through the faculty lounge.  I saw I had some items in my teacher box and found a letter from AEP the power company.  I'm sure the secretaries were wondering why I would get my power bill sent to school!  But.. I opened it to see an awesome letter notifying me that I had been chosen for a grant I applied for call the Teacher Vision Grant.  I'm sure for many teachers out there, it isn't that big of a deal, but for me WOO HOO!  Man I am thrilled!

My grant is for $500 for STEM/STEAM use.  What I am doing is going to be so much fun for the kids.  I used the grant to purchase an iPad mini, a protective case, an iPod touch, and a View Master virtual reality viewer.  My students are going to be making Aurasma's to turn our stagnant word wall into an augmented reality word wall.  Students will be making videos explaining the mathematical words and even solving problems for each word.  Students who are having trouble remembering a concept will be able to go back to the word wall and use a 3D viewer with iPod to scan the word they need help with and watch a video.

I am so excited about this project for my kids.  It will enable them to immerse themselves in learning and teaching others.  What is going on with your classroom?  I know it is near the end of the year, but what an amazing year it has been!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Chromebook Drama

   First let me start out this post by saying, this is somewhat of a rant, and somewhat of a timeline that I've been through to find new things, cool things, and in some cases I may have bitten off more than I can chew!

   I've been blessed to work at schools with plenty of technology, but not all technology is created equal.  More recently my challenge is making the Chromebook compatible with all the STEM projects I want to do for my students.  Recently we embarked on a Zoo creation project.  Students have spent the last few weeks researching zoos, animals, and habitats.  My ultimate goal was have students create a habitat using SketchUp and put that 3D habitat into a playground using the software Playing Mondo.  It is a bit of an ambitious project, but the student will be able to do so much with the Playing Mondo (PM) software as time goes by that I knew I wanted to try everything I could.  Enter the dragon... or Chromebook in my case.

   First... most programs that are compatible with PM aren't compatible with the Chromebook.  For instance, SketchUp works wonderfully with Windows, Mac, and I believe even Linux... but not with Chromebook.  I found a way to navigate this process which has taken some genius work with our IT department, but it still isn't in place.  What I proposed was that SketchUp be downloaded to a server and the students be given remote access to that server.  Imagine my surprise when IT said that it was possible.  The only downer is that IT is trying to figure out how to not give students access to the other items on that server.  So I sit and wait.

   Then another amazing idea popped in my head.  I decided to take a look at other 3d generation programs that might be compatible with PM, and ran across a program called Blender.  Well of course, it isn't Chromebook compatible, but I happened across an amazing YouTube video that made me realize, I can make this work!

As a matter of fact using "Roll App" it is doable and there are so many more apps coming within the program, that this may be a really useful tool in the future.  Then I noticed... WOW, this is really technical for 5th graders!  It may be time to scale down my daydream and put into practice a really cool reality that won't frustrate my students!

    Some things I've learned:

1.  Get a great list of Chromebook shortcuts (it is a necessity).  You can pretty much google this and come up with all kinds of resources.

2.  Once you have a great project idea, check to see if it will be Chromebook Compatible... I'm having a hard time finding a whole lot that is.

3.  If it isn't Chromebook compatible, get creative with your searches.  Chances are a hacker has figured out how to make it work.  You just want to be careful that it isn't a hack that is so technical your kids can't accomplish it.

Man I love my job!  What will I learn next?

Care to share your expertise?  I would love to hear about your experiences.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Teaching with Google

Teaching with a lot of tech is a huge goal I have for my Math/STEM classroom.  The importance isn't just to say I'm using technology, but to bring real 21st Century skills into the learning environment while I'm still ensuring growth in my content area by covering my state mandated standards.  It doesn't matter what your state standards are, technology in the classroom is a must.

Currently I am working on training with Google.  They have a really great program for teachers to get free professional development, and when you are done, you can be a certified Google for Education expert.  If you are on Twitter, you check out Google for Education's page and follow it.

A really cool thing I learned today:

Icognito Windows for Chrome - Who knew that you could make what you are doing private on a public computer!?  I sure did not.

Whether you consider yourself tech savvy or a beginner, these are really great tutorials to learn about Google tech in the classroom.  In addition earning professional development credit is a benefit to every teacher.