Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Stem Instant Challenges

Hi! Welcome Back. A bunch of life has happened for me since I last updated. Here is a short list:

  • I am now in my 10th year teaching at St. James Academy
  • This year I am only teaching technology
  • I have started teaching computer science AP classes
  • I fell in love and got married to a sweet dude named Chad
  • We got married and have a sweet little dude named Walter Otis
I'm sure once I start updating more regularly, I will go into detail about all those great things. 

But more importantly, I want to share with you what I have been doing in my technology classes. We have a modified block schedule at SJA, meaning mostly block days with one day where we have all 7 classes. This semester I have made the 7 class days (called C days) STEM Instant Challenge days. I am stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things with my technology 1 classes

We have had one so far and it was a success!(for our first STEM day) The students were engaged and tried to be successful. We did the Cup Holder challenge (found here). Now, the first hour I did it, I didn't explain the directions well and the creations weren't as creative. 7th hour crushed it and had some really good designs. Not all of the creations were successful and I had a group in each class not have a structure by testing time but they were actively participating. 

Here are the best creations from each hour:
Here is what I learned for next time:

  1. Mix up the groups - try to have at least one boy and girl in each group - we naturally think different
  2. Start a tub with supplies for STEM challenges so you don't have to go to Walmart everyday
  3. Students don't need a big reward to want to do well - sometimes a simple smelly sticker gets high schoolers invested
  4. KNOW the directions and how you will rate each creation before starting the challenge
  5. Embrace the noise - that means students are working and collaborating (meaning SUCCESS!)
  6. How do you teach students to think outside of the box? That their first idea is not necessarily the best?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Brain Breaks for High School Students

I'm back and I am ready to hit the ground running!

Today, I wanted to share the Symbaloo web mix that I have created for the brain breaks that I use in my classroom. I have used Brain Breaks for several years in my classroom. I have popsicle sticks with all of the brains listed on them in a cup in my classroom but in the past I would pick a stink and just have to go to you tube and search each time. I was ready to update this process!

If you haven't ever used Symbaloo before - it's a great resource. You can put all of your links for a chapter, lesson, unit, etc on one mix and it is easily accessible. If you don't want to create your own mix, you can search their gallery and find many many that have already been created. Be sure to check it out. 

Here is a picture and link to access mine mix on brain breaks. I am going to try to add several new brain breaks throughout the year. Each class has ones that they like and some that they hate- I want to keep it fresh this year.

Love Symbaloo? Love brain breaks? Leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Post #ISTE13

What an amazing, exciting, and overwhelming conference. ISTE was everything that I had hoped for!  So many great stories, experiences, resources, and ideas were shared that I will be able to write several blogs posts about everything that I learned.

But I'm to impatient, so I have put together my top 10 list of #iste13

10. When at the airport to come home, I checked my school email and found that one of my coworkers had started creating flipped videos with a green screen. Not only was he making them but he offered to help any coworkers who were interested in the process.

9. All of the free resources and swag that I got from the Vendors in the exhibit hall. Several pieces will become prizes for our inservice sessions! (Get excited SJA teachers!)

8. The session Amplifying Social Media with students. The presenters had so many great ideas for school wide twitter activity and backchanneling that I have several ideas for implicating into my own classroom.

7. All of the new Web 2.0 tools that I learned. These are great tools to help students achieve the learning they desire and quite frankly the learning that they are capable of achieving.

6. Twitter! Oh my goodness there was such much on twitter that it will take me a while to sort through the archives to see all of the amazing resources, pedagogy, and quotes that were shared the past several days. So many people to follow and learn from!  Over 400,00 tweets using the #iste13 hashtag.

5. The over all theme that technology is a tool or a car to help students learn. You have to have authentic learning and projects that relate to the students lives otherwise the technology doesn't matter because they aren't going to be learning.

4. Unrelated to ISTE, but I have family in the nearby San Antonio Area that I haven't seen in over 5 years that drove 2.5 hours just to have dinner with me and catch up. It was a fantastic away from technology and connectivity for a few hours and have that face to face interaction.

3. ISTE NETS*C session on the standards for Technology Coaches. I am a technology coach for SJA and these standards and the resources that they provided will truly help me professionally and teachers in the years to come.

2. Adam Bellow's closing keynote. Real, honest, inspiring and such an awesome way to close a fantastic conference. I am already looking forward to re-watching his keynote and sharing it with my staff at inservice in August.

1. Learning. I strive to be a lifelong learner and always want to learn. The fact that I got to go and learn new information for 4 days was amazing and something that will benefit me for years to come.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pre - ISTE Blog

I can't believe that this is really happening. After years of researching and drooling over the ISTE conference, I am on a plane going to San Antonio for the ISTE conference. I couldn't be more excited ( ok, quite frankly, overwhelmed!). I have read blog after blog for tips and tricks of what to do and what not to do, that I think I am ready. But are you ever really ready for a educational technology conference with 18,000 people?

I have a few goals that I hope to accomplish while attending ISTE 2013.
  1. SCHOOL: St. James Academy loves iMovie, honestly, what's not to love? You can create, act, and edit video for a great finished product. But as we all know, too much of a good thing is not good. We use them all of the time, and they are becoming the norm instead of the exception. Find a comparable program or project type to access the same higher levels thinking skills but in a different way.
  2. SCHOOL: This is my third year as a technology coach at SJA and I haven't accomplished many of the goals that I set for myself three years ago. Find or learn about a tool or resource that I can take back to help me show my coworkers what I can help them with in their classrooms.
  3. SCHOOL: A couple of years ago, I attended a smaller technology conference called MACE and learned about a classroom blog. I thought that it was a great thing for student who are absent, especially in mathematics but I have never tried it or really knew how to get started or how to implement. Find examples of high school classrooms and learn about how to get started and do's and not do's.
  4. PERSONAL: Be a sponge! With this being my first ISTE conference, I really have no idea of how much I am going to learn. I know that it is going to be a lot of info. Find 2 things that I can try/use within my own classes in the upcoming school year. (I know that I will find way more than 2!)

Another goal is to keep this blog current throughout the conference and even after! The best resources to an educator are the tips and tricks learned by other educators in the field. I want to make a contribution (no matter how small) to a field that I love am and am passionate about!

If this is your first time going to ISTE (and even if it's not) what are you most looking forward to?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

QR Code Basics

QR Codes! A whole new EASY world to incorporate into the classrooms!

First, welcome back! I am so excited to be bringing you these tech tips this year. You should know that these first couple of weeks, the blog will include new tips and instructions for Studywiz, PowerSchool, and Lanschool. Then by September, the blog will focus on various web 2.0 resources to make teaching fun and effective! As always, if you run across a site or tool that is AmAzIng, please share! (Heads up, prizes are staying around for this year too! :) )

Second, above is the presentation on QR codes that we did in our technology session today. This session was just a QUICK overview. What ways can you think of using a QR code in your classroom?  I can't wait to see your Challenge Entries!

Lastly, Welcome Back and I look forward to working with you this year!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers

We all have grand ideas and plans to make new things over the summer to spruce up our classroom and curriculum, but often life throws us a curve ball and we don't get to it. Or maybe during school, we are fresh out of ideas on ways that we can reteach a topic. Or you know the days that the flu bug or other germs pop out of nowhere and we have to make sub plans. I have stumbled upon a great resource for just those situations.

Yup! Teachers Pay Teachers. The site has great organization and filters that you can use to find exactly what you are looking for. You could search by grade level, subject, idea, etc. You can pay for some resources or download the ones that people put up for free.

You should know that there are THOUSANDS of free resources that you don't need to pay for and are really great quality too! Just the other day I downloaded a resources about Cheating and what students may or may not think that cheating is. (Here it is:

I did just purchase my first thing from TpT this evening. It was painless and easy and downloaded right to my computer. It was a clip art graphic set of owls. :) I love little clip art to add to different things and this pack was perfect. Owl Clip Art Package

This is a great resource for any subject! Check it out! Be sure to add a comment if you try it or download a really great resource that others could use!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Bucket List

I don't know about you but every summer, I make a list of things that I would like to accomplish before I go back to school in August. Truthfully, half of the items that I want to get done don't (but that's another blog post). :)

However, one thing on my list will get done this summer because I signed up for it back in February. (It could of been around the time of my last blog post, actually!) I will be RUNNING a 5K on July 1st. Now, I am not going to be setting any pace records but I just don't want to walk any of it.

In my search of fun and upbeat running music, I found a site called  This site is amazing! You simply have to enter your targeted time for running, walking, or cycling a mile and it will give you pages and pages of songs that have the beats per minute (bpm) to meet your targeted pace time. Another great thing about the site is that it allows you to preview a suggested song and links to buy on or Itunes.

You can also sort your results by genre to find the kind of music that you like to listen to.

Speaking of running music, does anyone have a go to favorite to keep them motivated? Please add yours in the comments below! :)