Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Excitement for SMART Summit Mounts

I am proud to be a SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE or SMARTee). Proud of our educational community. Proud of the work we do, and thrilled at how we support one another. 

I have been a SEE since 2008. After I discovered the awesome that is SMARTboards and SMART Notebook, I dived in to learn all I could about being an engaging educator. I took online webinars with SMARTians (employees of SMART Tech), looked at other lessons teachers and SMARTians had created, and attempted to begin creating my own. As I got better, I read about the SMART Exemplary Educator program and applied. A strange thing happened. I got in! 

This is where Deena Zenyk steps in. I began asking LOTS of questions, how could I be involved, now that I was a SEE what could I do?! 

Deena, as many of you know, is the link between SEEs and SMART Technologies. She always answers my emails, questions, calms fears, tackles the world. Wonderfully kind. And since that first email, has become a wonderful lifelong friend.

Since becoming a SEE, I have been fortunate to have had the most amazing experiences. I got to be a part of the ASCD Conference and work along with SMART Technologies personal when it was in San Francisco, write for EdCompass Blog and Magazine, be a part of software trials and webinars, went to launch events, and interact with the most amazing people who share the same passion for education and technology that I do.

2011 SEE Mentors
One HUGE Perk? The SMARTEE Summit.

Yes! The SEE SUMMIT! This is the epitome of all things SMART educators! It is a week long professional development sprinkled with fun and experiences that last forever. 

Being a SEE doesn't simply get you to the SEE Summit. You do have to apply. This year marks the fifth year of the SEE Summit and I still can't believe I get to go again.

I am one of those oddities, along with Renee Fruge, have attended four summits, including this year, and once as a SEE Mentor. Each time I have been amazed that I was even chosen, thrilled to be going, and blessed to meet so many wonderful, passionate, people that become lifelong friends. Not to mention TONS to bring back and apply in my classroom.
As you can imagine....I am getting really excited. Excited for the learning that will take place, the friendships that will be made, the EPIC reunions that are about to happen, and of course, to continue to grow as an educator. 

Oh.....and for dueling pianos, and Lake Louise, Banff, whooooo girls, white hats, and Broken Toys. 

2010 SEE Summit 

2011 SEE Summit
2012 SEE Summit
Yes, that is my teddy bear, Honey NizzleFitz

Saturday, July 12, 2014

EdCampHOME 3.0-A Reflection

Thank you EdCampHOME mods for letting borrow your logo!
As many of you know, Edcamps are EPIC. AMAZING. AWE-INSPIRING. And simply #EduAWSOME! 

Like many others, I was excited for EdCampHOME 3.0. I loved that it was an event in the evening, and that I was tapped to help. I had attended the first EdCampHOME as a watcher, 2.0 as a participant, so needless to say I was thrilled to help and be an "initiator". 

Thursday came along....along with a dentist appointment! It was scheduled at 3PM, so if I got in and out I would make it on time. But, alas, I got in late and out about 4:05PM. Thank goodness for smart phones! I got to join the party via my phone till I made it home, just in time for the initiator Google Hangout (GHO). So while I listened, I prepared my workspace. 

What I didn't realize is that my headphone/microphone wasn't completely charged, nor did I realize that I needed to fix the settings in my GHO AND my Mac! As a result, the first session I moderated, Makerspace on a Shoestring Budget, I sounded like a robot. Thank goodness those in the session started while I fixed my "voice". 

The discussion that ensued was priceless. I have been reading Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager. Needless to say, I was very excited to hear what others have done in their classrooms. I was joined by Anne Jenks, Jamison Luke, Marcie Herbert, Tamra Dollar, Leslye Thiery, Liza Browne, and others that were watching. As the conversation went on (and I finally didn't sound like a robot), we discovered that all of us were in the process of creating a makerspace. We want our students to be creative, to try and fail, and try and succeed. Plus, we all wanted to "hangout" again to see where everyone is in their makerspace classroom. 

We talked about 3D printers (here is one that was suggested), coding, and traditional materials for our makerspaces. One resource shared was CtiyXProject X. They " introduces key 21st century skills, including emotional literacy, empathy, design thinking, creative problem solving, and social literacy using hands-on engagement with 3D printing and modeling technologies"(IDEAco2014). Best part? They have a workshop that is FREE and a toolkit that is FREE! Something to test out this year. 

My second session was 1:1 Classroom for Newbies. I have to admit, this one was my session suggestion and a selfish one at that! I am piloting 1:1 with Chromebooks next year and wanted to "steal" as many ideas as I could! I have been trying to prepare, creating lessons and such, but is anyone truly prepared to go 1:1?! I guess I'll find out!

Session two ran much more smoothly than the first (whew!) and I was joined by a small, but insightful group including: Tina Nording, Natalie McKalip, Kathy Nichols, and Travis Phelps. We introduced our selves and discovered that many of us are just beginning the journey. So we shared different resources that would help ease the 1:1 journey. I mentioned Zaption and EDpuzzle. Both are similar in that you have your students interact with the video they are watching. I like it as you get to check in with your students as they work. Plus, students get to work at their own pace. I created a lesson on each site for digital citizenship that I am pretty excited about it. 

Other resources shared was Hemingway. Hemingway is a great app/web based tool in that as students write helps them write more precise and clear. The site gives students' suggestions in color to help improve their writing. Another similar web based tool is No Red Ink, made by teachers for teachers. It offers high interest material, authentic assessments, blended learning, unlimited practice, and adaptive technology. Best part, FREE!

So much learning and sharing! We are certainly better together and EdCampHOME proves that. No matter how little we know, or even how much, participating in an event like EdCampHOME inspires everyone. We push each other to be better, to grow, to share, to make our "closed classroom" a more open and even global classroom. And better yet....we can participate in EdCampHOME in our pajamas!