Friday, July 15, 2016

Reflections from ISTE 2016

My takeaways from ISTE 2016

This blog post is my reflection for the CMLE scholarship I received to help cover part of my cost to attend ISTE 2016. I am sending a big  THANK YOU to the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange for your support. You can learn more about 

The two questions I will reflect on include:

  • What were your favorite takeaways or new things learned? 
  • As a result of attending this event, can you identify and explain a few things you can use/apply to your work or practice?

  • BreakOut EDU

    Who is ready for something different?! I am and I am excited about BreakOut EDU. James and Mark created a box with locks that correspond to numerous lessons you can pick for your students to solve and break open the box. It has been really neat to see their journey and BreakOut Edu grow over the past year. If you were one of the lucky attendees who got to participate in the challenge, you got to experience their new BreakOut EDU bus. I was not one of those lucky people but have had the experience at a few Google Summits in classrooms.
    The two games I got to experience are:
    You can learn more about the games at 

    While participating in the game, I was part of a team of educators who all had the same goal, to solve the puzzles to break open the box. Each time I participated, my role in the game changed based on the other personalities in the room. One time, I was a leader in helping others figure out what to do. The next time I was a worker and was assigned a task to figure out with a small group of people.

    I now look forward to leading my first BreakOut Edu in August at workshop I am leading for Innovative Educator Consulting as a team building activity. The website shares that "Breakout EDU creates ultra-engaging learning games for people of all ages. Games (Breakouts) teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve." Exactly what I am looking for!! I hope the participants are inspired, like I was, to bring this back to their schools.

    I challenge you to try it and share your experience on social media with the team. 
    • Computer Science for All is an effort many are participating in...
    Sunday afternoon I participated in the Computational Thinking Playground. As people walked towards the auditorium with the keynote, they passed the playground. Many stopped in to see what it was about. I was able to lead a few unplugged activities.

    • Happy Maps (Course 1)
    • Real Life Algorithms - Dice Race (Course 3)
    Throughout the week at ISTE, we had a challenge for people to share how they are using Computer Science (CS) in their classrooms. You can see how people responded by checking out #wecancode on Twitter.

    Tuesday morning there was a surprise appearance by R2-D2 and Hadi Partovi, founder of, where he explained how important it is to expose all students to CS. would like educators to know
    • “Anybody can learn” (whether you’re a student or teacher)
    • It’s about “computer science,” not “code,” and our focus is on schools
    • Computer science is foundational - for EVERY child
    • Improving diversity is core to our mission
    • This is a teacher-powered movement
    Hadi showed how easy it is to get started in your first plugged activity by creating a game in the Star Wars hour of code course. My poster session took place right after the keynote finished and many people stopped by. My topic was on how kids can code and many ways to approach it. However, many people were interested in since Hadi had just spoke about it. I am obviously a huge fan of, I was happy to talk a lot about it and answer questions.

    I was able to connect with many teachers are implementing CS into their schools. My role at technology conferences has evolved over the past few years. At first, I would attend to consume information. Now I attend to share information, empower educators in their practice, and make connections that last beyond the conference.

    **At my workshop last week an attendee shared the following link this document has each day of the conference broken down with resources for each session. Yikes!! This is a great tool. **

    Wednesday, July 13, 2016

    2016 ISTE Standards for Students

    Have you seen the new ISTE standards For Students 2016 ?? One that I am excited about (well, I am excited about many) is #5

    Check out the rest of the standards. Which ones do you find easy to implement? Which ones will you have to make a thoughtful effort to implement?

    While trying to find a copy of the standards to download and add to this blog, I ran into road blocks. Does anyone have a PDF version you can share with me?

    Teach Kids STEAM with Hands-On Coding Blocks | Indiegogo

    If you are looking to try something new with coding in your classroom.... Check out Teach Kids STEAM with Hands-On Coding Blocks | Indiegogo

    Their goal is to bridge the gap between Computer Science and Literacy.

    I look forward to my first adventure with Cody Blox.

    You can learn more at

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    Twin Cities Start Up Weekend EDU 2016 - Creation Time- Part 3

    A side rule in startup weekend is that if you have at least four people who are interested in creating a project, you can go ahead and create it! So, even though I did not make the top 10 in sticky note voting, I did have three other people interested in helping make my dream a reality!

    Syeed, Michael, Jon, and I  created team DigiDoc.

    Our core team spent the weekend creating a tool that could help teachers organize and track their CEUs, while storing them in a secure space. Throughout the weekend, we were able to work with other attendees and mentors to create our program. I was amazed at times when a handful of people would be working on the code to run our program.

    It was exciting to me when I understood what was being talked about. Having taught lessons from's K-5 fundamentals courses, I now know basic vocabulary like function, loop, and algorithm.  Every once in a while I would hear these words and have a small bit of insight into what they were currently working on. 

    Monday, April 11, 2016

    Twin Cities Start Up Weekend EDU 2016-The Pitch- Part 2-

    After making a pitch at Start Up Weekend, we could lobby or pitch for votes. I had a few sticky note votes on my poster, but not as many as other posters as I looked around. In the pictures below, you can see me selling my pitch to other participants. 

    The people in the picture above are part of the group of participants whose pitches got the most votes. As you can see, I am not in this picture. My pitch had a few votes, but not enough to make the top 10.  Stay tuned to find out what happened next!

    Friday, April 8, 2016

    Google Expeditions

    Last week we were lucky enough to try Google Expeditions. 
    We had access to different types of viewers

    Our students were able to explore the world from the bottom of the ocean to the moon! Teachers were able to pick from over 100 field trips and tie previous learning experiences to their Google Expedition experience. 

    Students had time to explore images on their own and  we were able to focus their attention when needed. The software had built-in points for images with more information.  A teacher could simply touch a pin to focus the class. Students could follow an arrow on their device to focus where the was directing them. The teacher could read more information about that location to the class. 

    It was a great experience for both students and teachers. I am excited for the future of this program and look forward to getting it in the hands of more students!

    Sunday, March 13, 2016

    Twin Cities Start Up Weekend EDU 2016 - Introduction to Ermarie - Part 1

    It was a blur of a weekend. We started Friday night at 5:30pm with the opportunity to pitch an idea. Then, moved into forming teams to create projects around popular pitches and ended with a presentation of the final products on Sunday evening at 6pm. 

    After years of asking other people if they had a solution or could create a solution, I finally took care of it! 

    What is the solution for? As a teacher in Minnesota, I need to attend 125 hours of Professional Development (PD) every five years. I also need to attend PD on five different topics. With a June 30th deadline, I need to turn in all of my documents to the state of Minnesota to renew my license. 

    For the last eight years, I have kept all of my documents in a file folder or three ring binder. Even though I would try to stay organized and keep a running total of my hours, it would always turn into a mess that would require hours of organization and compilation in order to turn it in. 

    As a person who is pretty interested in technology, I turned to cloud storage options to try and help with this mess. While I didn’t have a problem with the options I tried, they just were not created for this situation. I always thought: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place that I could organize and save all of my documents somewhere online that I am in control of?” 

    I look forward to sharing more information with you about Ermarie (the name has changed from DigiDocs during startup weekend to now Ermarie). Ermarie will help you easily save your documents to your own online secure storage space. Documents can be uploaded from your computer or captured with the camera on our phone. When the time comes to share your documents, you have the ability to easily share a link with a time limit that you set. 

    The two qualities that make this program stand alone from other options are ease of use and ownership. A key feature of Ermarie is that you are the owner of the information, the information follows you wherever you go. I look forward to sharing more of Ermarie's details with you! Try it out and then PLEASE give me your feedback!! We are in the very early stages of sharing this great app with people and are eagerly awaiting your feedback!!

    The team behind DigiDocs (now Ermarie) and one of our mentors Eric Nelson celebrating after a long weekend!

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016

    Google Drive Bingo for Beginners

    Tonight I will be leading a Community Education class on the topic of Google Drive for beginners.

    Planning for tonight my goals include

    • How to access Google Drive
    • Introduction to Google Drive
    • Creating, accessing, and sharing Google Docs
    • Finding items that were shared with you

    Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will be sharing Kasey Bell's Google Drive and Google Doc Cheat Sheets. You can find them here. You can find her on Twitter @ShakeUPLearning .

    As a way to wrap up class and check for understanding, I am borrowing Alice Keeler's Bingo Board. You can find her on Twitter @AliceKeeler . Here is her blog post and template. Here is my version of the Bingo boards with the "I can" statements I am hoping my attendees will walk away from class with. 

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    Presidents Day 2016

    Today I am one of many teachers who won't be at school working, many of us are at home working. Today is Presidents Day. 
    Here is a list of what I will be doing today, what are you doing?

    1. While drinking coffee and watching the morning news, I am scrolling through a recap of the Twitter chat #MNlead that happened last night.

    2. I recently found which is a crowdsourced, searchable map and calendar of education events around the world. If you haven't seen it yet, I would recommend checking it out and adding events to it!

    3. Have you attended a free day of learning around computer science in elementary education? If you haven't, I invite you to join me at any of my upcoming workshops! Learn more about the at

    4. I am preparing my presentation on Formative Assessment tools for this Wednesday. I get to have an hour with new educators to share a few best practices and have a discussion around what they are doing and what they would like to do . Do you have any tools you love and want to share?

    5. I am working on finding funding for my trip to ISTE 2016! I will be speaking at the conference. I have applied to be a volunteer and have received a scholarship from CMLE (Thank you!!) Any suggestions for other places to look?

    6.Working on the last few finishing touches for my MN iOS Summit presentation on why and how kids can code in your elementary classrooms. I think pictures speak louder than words, do you have any pictures you love and would be willing to share with me? I am looking for students who are working through any computer science lessons, with or without technology.

    7. Checking email. It seems as though it is a never ending task! It is a great treat to get emails like the following.   I love to hear how people are implementing their learning and of their "problems." This is a great problem to have! Do you have a story to share? Feel free to email me

    Now it's time to refresh my coffee cup and continue on with my to-do list. The first thing will be to check in with EdSurge  and see if they have anything about theeducationcalendar and if not I will share it with them!

    Friday, January 29, 2016

    Free Music You Can Download!!

    Have you ever found yourself searching for music that you can use in a video project? What about your students? I know I have!!! I would like to give a Shoutout to Jim Sill for this tip:

    Go to :

    to browse and download free music for your projects!

    Thursday, January 28, 2016

    Inserting Text Boxes into Google Docs

    As I was setting up a Google Hangout On Air today, I came across a Google+ post from Eric Curts. He explains how to insert a version of a text box into a Google Doc. Currently, inserting a text box is not an option, but inserting a Google Drawing is an option. Here is his video explaining how to do it!! It's a great tip that I have never thought of!

    Click here to access his blog post.