Wednesday, December 21, 2016

HyperDoc Handbook

Here's to the last day of the first semester!! I can't believe how quickly the year goes by. This will more than likely be my last post of the year. See you in 2017!

Over the break, I plan on reading the HyperDoc Handbook. It's a way to design lessons using Google Apps by doing the following:

1) Determine your objectives.
2) Select which learning cycle you will use.
3) Select your packaging.
4) Build the workflow.
5) Design the HyperDoc.

From what I can tell, a HyperDoc allows teachers to build in Differentiation, Personalization, and other Scaffolds to support students while providing rigor. It's supposed to go beyond a webquest but look more like a full lesson.

Learn more:
-TeacherCast episode with the authors:
-HyperDoc website:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Twitter Introduction

I've been regularly using Twitter (@JonathanAlmon) for the last few years as my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I can't say enough about the impact it's had on my career. Through others, I've learned about new ideas, products, books, websites, blogs, etc. to improve my teaching. I recommend it to anyone wanting to create a PLN.

For those a little apprehensive about Twitter. I found an excellent 12 day challenge from @BrendanFetters. The #12daysoftwitter challenge was designed to encourage educators, new to twitter, to share and interact with others through the month of December. I realize we're a little late for the challenge, but I thought it could still be a great way to encourage new users to Twitter. Give the 12 Day Challenge a try in January!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Required Reading -- by country

This is an interesting list describing the required reading for students in 28 different countries. TED Ideas created this list to give readers a chance to "expand your horizons - and your bookshelves." The United States books is To Kill A Mockingbird. Can you guess what the other countries chose? Go to TED Ideas to learn more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

InnEdCO Presentation Submissions

During Thanksgiving Break, I submitted an application to present at the 2017 Innovative Education Colorado Conference (InnEdCO) in Keystone, CO. All submissions are up for review on the InnEdCO website.

Here are the steps to vote for me:

1) Go to the InnEdCO website

2) Find my application on the first page under Jonathan Almon

3) Click "Review this Session"

4) Fill out the Google Form

Thanks in advance for helping me get out in front of an audience. I've never presented at a conference, so I'm excited for the opportunity!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Educational Readings

Welcome back from Thanksgiving Break!!

It was extremely restful, long weekend for me. It's always good to spend time with family and friends.

After gorging myself on Thanksgiving dinner, I came across a timely post from A.J. Juliani (co-author of Launch) about what we feed our brains as educators. I can appreciate his approach to reading and writing as it applies to the goal setting strategies many teachers discuss with our students. He reads "at least 25 words a day" which allows him to finish a book a week. The idea of setting small goals resonates with me. I can easily read 25 words a day, and this practice will hopefully push me to read more than that most days.

Also, he provides several ways to find books to read, blogs to follow, and podcasts to listen to. It's a great list if you're not sure where to start when finding materials to learn more about the profession of teaching.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Student Feedback

This school year, I'm focusing (we call it our Personal Growth Plan) on providing students with feedback within each lesson, every day. It's a daunting task, so I'm working to collect as many resources as possible to assist me in creating a plan for feedback.

So far, I've listened to a recent episode of the TeacherCast podcast. Within the episode, Jeff Bradbury, Sam Patterson, Jennifer Judkins, and Matt Buchanan discuss:

1) Using Google Apps, specifically, Google Classroom and Google Docs to provide meaningful feedback with the writing process.  These could really be used in any subject area but they focus on writing.

2) Using the Google Add-On, Orange Slice, to create interactive rubrics that can be easily scored.

What other resources are teachers using to provide students with feedback?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

InnEdCO Call for Presenters

I've had the fortune of attending the InnEdCO (formely TIE) conference a few different times when it was held in Copper Mountain, Colorado. After a hiatus due to the ISTE conference being in Denver last summer, InnEdCO is back in the beautiful Colorado mountain town of Keystone from June 12-15, 2017.

InnEdCO recently released their call for presenters for this innovative conference. You can go to InnEdCO's website to learn more about how to submit an application for review. Applications are due November 28th. I'll be submitting an application with a colleague with the idea of creating a workshop for attendees. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

3D printer - FlashForge Finder

I recently was lucky enough to have a 3D printer, the FlashForge Finder, through Donor's Choose at the beginning of the school year. Honestly, I didn't have a clue what I was getting myself into with 3D printing. I knew I wanted to give students an opportunity to design, create, and share using a 3D printer because I had seen the amazing objects being shared on Twitter. Also, we had a 5th grade teacher move onto another school this year who had been using a 3D printer for a few years. I felt obligated to carry on the tradition for this year's 5th graders.

FlashForge Finder

Of course, I thought it would easily just plug in and start printing. I was wrong. It was a little difficult getting the printing table aligned and balanced. Make sure to follow the directions completely when leveling it. Also, I had trouble with the PLA plastic not sticking to the printing table after the first couple of prints. I ordered BuildTak adhesive and it took care of the problem.

Here are a few websites/articles to help you get started using any 3D printer. I wish I had read these before I started printing:
Here's an example of some of the amazing objects my 5th graders have designed using TinkerCAD:
Nameplates, Lounge Chair/Swimming Pool, 6-sided Die

Thursday, October 20, 2016

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I recently watched the TED Talk from Emilie Wapnick on why certain people have a hard time deciding on they're true calling.

I know some of us are/were truly dumbfounded when an asked what we wanted to be when we grow up. After teaching for 10 years, I still feel as though I don't know what I want to do when I grow up or don't have a true calling. Emilie calls this "multipotentialities." It points to the fact that many people have numerous interests or passions. Many of us find it difficult to pinpoint exactly one passion to follow over the other.

We should introduce our students to perspectives like Emilie's. It's more important to be passionate and deeply involved in numerous activities or interests than be void of passion at all. What's your take on Emilie's "multipotentialities?"

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Innovator's Mindset Week 5 Reflection

After finishing the Innovator's Mindset and watching this week's Youtube discussion, the following
questions caused me to reflect on my own practice and school culture:

1) Do I know and build upon the strengths of those I serve?

Honestly, I could do a much better job of highlighting my students' strengths or interests. I do offer lots of voice and choice in my classroom, but I could do more to push students in the areas where they excel. I'm reminded of a chapter from John Spencer and A.J. Juliani's book, Launch, where they discuss how to have students own their genius and how we, as teachers, should celebrate their geniuses.

2) Are we embracing new (and better) opportunities for learning, and making decisions based on supporting these new realities?

I do this often in my classroom and practice. I create lessons (mainly project-based learning or inquiry-based projects) with the idea that they're going to create something new, share it, and connect with others during the process. Many times the technology (computers) are not the focal point rather it's the learning accelerator, allowing them to share and connect.

3) How do we share openly and regularly to further our own learning and development?

I use this blog to reflect and share with the world about what happens in my classroom and resources I've been using. I would like to do more reflecting on a daily basis. I don't think may of my colleagues, but I think it would be powerful for students and teachers to reflect on their day, every day, using the blogging platform. It would be fun to have a podcast for students and teachers to share their learning as well.

4) Do our professional learning opportunities mirror the learning we want to create for our students?

For the most part, the professional learning opportunities provided by my district have limited choice or voice. I often leave feeling like the PD was a waste of my time. It's getting better as more leaders are realizing the importance of meeting the needs of teachers. I try to give my students voice and choice in what they learn, and when I have to deliver PD, I keep this in mind.

Innovator's Mindset -- Week 5

If you weren't able to view the live Youtube feed for the Innovator's Mindset with sepcial guest, Brad Gustafson, here's a link to yesterday's Youtube feed.

Also, the assignments to complete are:
  1. Read Part 4 of the book (pages 205-231)
  2. Do some type of media reflection on what resonates and share to the #IMMOOC hashtag.  I want to to leave this more open this week.  Do something that is a little bit tough.
  3. Comment on 3 other participant blog posts.
  4. Blog/Podcast/Video/Your Choice based on your thoughts

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Innovator's Mindset Week 4 Reflection

After reading Part 2 of the Innovator's Mindset and watching the Youtube discussion, the following ideas caused me to reflect on how we use technology in our classrooms to support learners and how that could be applied to staff as well:

1) "Technology should personalize, not standardize."

2) Students should create, share, and connect using technology.

3) Staff should create, share, and connect using technology.

All three ideas reminded me of the SAMR model for using technology. The model stands for the following:

Substitution - just replaces what can be done with pencil and paper
Augmentation - effective tool for common tasks
Modification - using technology to create things that wouldn't be possible without that technology
Redefinition - using technology for new tasks that we're inconceivable before technology -- Innovation

How do we give students opportunities to redefine their own learning using technology? How do give them a chance to create, share, and connect with other learners?

The same questions could be posed for educators. How are we given a chance to create, share and connect?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Innovator's Mindset Week 3 Reflection

After reading Part 2 of the Innovator's Mindset and watching the Youtube discussion, the following passage caused me to reflect on how I structure my classroom and lessons:

8 Things to Look for in Today's Classroom

1) Voice -- Do students have a say in what they're learning? 

     Possibilities: surveying students; making changes to curriculum/content/goals based on student feedback -- How else can we include student voice in our classrooms?

2) Choice -- How do students have a choice in what they learn?

     Possibilities: Genius Hour; Choice Boards; Build challenges -- How are students able to choose what they learn in your classroom?

3) Reflection -- How often do students reflect on their work?

     Students need time to think about their learning. Many times, we give a grade and their learning stops. They need time to think about what went well, what didn't, and what can change.

4) Innovation -- How often to students have time to create something new and better?

      Possibilities: Cardboard Challenges; Passion Projects; STEAM projects

5) Critical Thinkers -- How often do students develop and ask their own questions?

     Possibilities: "I Wonder" days -- students develop questions and research them 

6) Problem Solvers -- How often are students solving/finding real world problems?

    Possibilities: students can find an issue with the school and create a solution -- What are other ways we can empower students?

7) Self-Assessment -- How often do students assess their work?

     Possibilities: students can use a kid-friendly rubric to check their work and to provide feedback to a partner. Students can then make changes based on feedback from the rubric and their peers.

8) Connected Learning -- How often do students connect with experts?

     Possibilities: Virtual Fieldtrips; Connecting with experts via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Social Media

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The third meeting for the Innovator's Mindset meets on their Youtube channel.

Saturday, October 1
5pm MST

Special Guest:
Kaleb Rashad

Here is a little bit more more about Kaleb:
Kaleb is the director of the Gary & Jerri-Ann Jacobs @hightechhigh (OG)!! | We are first and foremost an equity project. | We believe that passion matters in work and life. We think school should be a place where you find out what you’re good at doing, what you love to do, and what the world needs.
My belief in #HumanCenteredDesign is deeply rooted in my dissertation research on relational trust and I believe that #HumanCenteredDesign can be used to AMPLIFY our sense of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Innovator's Mindset -- Week 2 Reflection

After reading Part 1 of Innovator's Mindset, watching the Hangout, and creating my video reflection,  I'm struck by the question (pg 49):

"Would you want to be a learner in your own classroom?"

I was a student who struggled to enjoy school throughout my childhood. I was often bored and disengaged. It often felt like the content was there but it was up to me to find it interesting, not the teacher's job to make it interesting. It's one of the reasons I became a teacher, but I've often looked out at my tired, disengaged students and thought:

"Would I want to be a learner in this classroom?"

I was making the same mistakes many teachers have made.  We have this curriculum, these standards, and this standardized test, so we have to get through this. That's what I would tell my students. We just have to do this. I was empathetic in a sense. I understood my students' frustration but wasn't really willing to take risks. It seemed scary.

I'm trying to be an educator who thinks of the students first and how to engage them. I've taken risks on inquiry-based projects like Cardboard Challenges, Egg Drop Challenges, K'NEX Challenges, and other STEM problems for elementary students. I've been floored by their excitement.

Because of a fantastic coach last year, we began brainstorming innovative ways to deliver my content. She turned me onto Twitter and Google+ where I saw amazing things teachers were doing with videos they had created. I used Snagit to make my own leveled videos for students to help students complete tasks. They can view as many times as they need to complete tasks and move onto the next level. It was a real breakthrough for me as an educator.

A student approached me last year and wanted to make his own videos. I showed him how using free screen capturing software. Weeks later, he showed me all the videos he had created showing others how to play certain video games. He'd become a teacher!!! I thought, "I should have students teach other students using these video creations."

It's moments like these where I do feel like an innovative educator. I need to work on continuing to reflect on what worked and what doesn't. How can I improve this project to better engage my students? How can I turn a menial task into something profound? I hope I'm getting better at it every year.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Innovator's Mindset Week 2

The first meeting for the Innovator's Mindset meets on their Youtube channel.

Saturday, Sept 24 (tomorrow morning)
8am MST

Special Guest:
Shawn Clark & Brady Venables

Monday, September 19, 2016

Innovator's Mindset -- Introduction

After reading the introduction to Innovator's Mindset and watching the first Youtube meeting, I'm struck with the idea of creating a culture, within our school community, where educators feel empowered to take risks to foster students' creativity and curiosity. I love the quote:

"Compliance does not foster innovation."

How are we inspiring students to think critically, collaborate with their peers, and develop higher level questions? If we're not tapping into students' natural curiosity and creativity, instead focusing on compliance, students will turn elsewhere to learn. Schools are in danger of becoming the next Blockbuster. They didn't foresee the inevitable and lost out when consumers turned to streaming services. Will our schools become stagnant like Blockbuster, unwilling to change? How do we change the culture of our school community to match the needs of our students?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Innovator's Mindset

The first meeting for the Innovator's Mindset meets on their Youtube channel.

Saturday, Sept 24 (tomorrow night)
6pm MST

Special Guest:
Dave Burgess
Author of Teach Like a Pirate


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Innovator's Mindset by George Cuocos

There's an online book study for Innovator's Mindset by George Coucos. I just ordered the book on Amazon and it discusses ways to unlock students' creativity, talent, and curiosity. The book study will run primarily through Youtube and Twitter. Read though AJ Juliani's blog post to learn more:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Global Carboard Challenge

Throughout the month of September, my 4th graders will participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge. During the challenge, students will design and build things out of cardboard to present on Oct 1 on the Global Cardboard Challenge Day.

The inspiration for the Cardboard Challenge comes from a boy named Caine who built his own arcade out of cardboard.

Learn more about the cardboard challenge by following #cardboardchallenge

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Google Certified Trainer

Last spring, I recently earned my Level 1 Google Educator Certification. I'm looking forward to pushing myself to receive my Level 2 Certification at some point this school year (fingers crossed). After the educator certifications, you can become:

- A Google Certified Trainer
- A Google Certified Innovator

Kasey Bell helps us understand what it takes to become a Google Trainer in her blog, ShakeUp Learning. If you want to know more about ANYTHING Google, follow her on a daily basis.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Google Classroom

Needing help with Google Classroom? Alice Keeler has you covered. She has excellent videos on how to implement Google Classroom into your curriculum.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Donor's Choose

It's that time of year again!! For the beginning of the 2016-17 school, Donor's Choose will match any donation given to your project.

If you aren't familiar with Donor's Choose, you can create a "project" to be funded by private donors. The "project" can include numerous educational materials including technology, books, supplies, etc. Then, you share your project on social media, email, or a website, while donors can discover your projects through the Donor's choose website.

Here's my most recent project: Tools for Our Makerspace

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Do you want technology in your classroom. Are you curious about Makerspaces and STEAM? Not sure where to start?

Eduporium is a one-stop shop to help you decide which technology is right for you, pricing on said technology, and connect to other educators for best ways to use the technology.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Welcome to the 2016-17 school year! I'm so excited to have my students creating, making, designing, and building this year.

With that being said, I thought an appropriate post for the beginning of the year would include an article/podcast on how our (and our students') brains want to learn. The ideas behind John Medina's, neuroscientist, research is we can reach students by doing these 2 things:

-Exercise -- the brain works better after it.

-Sleep -- the developing brain has to have a ton of it to function.

Something to think about as we begin this new school year!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rigor ISTE2016

I'm in my final session of ISTE2016 before the Closing Keynote speakers. It's been an unbelievable few days of learning and growing.

Rigor, Meet Relevance by Janel McCormick and Jessica Herring


Essential Questions:
-What happens when rigor meets relevance?
-How can you bring greater relevance to the work you're already doing in the classroom?

Using tools like iMovie, Sphero, Aurasma to show character emotion, mood, etc => shows relevance

Rigor = empowered learners, innovator designers, & creative communicators (new ISTE standards)

Skills developments = creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking

Excellent rubric to measure rigor:

Inquiry Based Learning ISTE 2016

After roaming the Vendor Hall upstairs (I'll write a post about the cool thing I found up there later), it's onto my 2nd session of the day:

Using Inquiry for Deeper Understanding by Adina Sullivan

Adina's website and Adina's Inquiry presentation

Essential Questions:
-What conditions do you need to learn something that isn't your favorite subject/topic?
-How is this same or different for your students?
-How do you learn differently when you are interested vs when you are just doing as you are told/expected?

-Problem-solving and critical thinking skills
-Facilitates a transfer of knowledge and concepts through creativity and reflection
-Self-directed learning skills using communication and collaboration
-Deeper levels of engagement and understanding

Inquiry Cycle = Questioning =>Research => Discussion => Creating => Reflection => back to Questioning

Science Leadership Academy -- school in Pennsylvania strictly inquiry-based

Inquiry Based learning resources

LittleBits and Design Thinking ISTE2016

It's the third and final day of ISTE2016. For my first session, I'm attending:

Creativity, Innovation, and a "LittleBit" of Design Thinking

LittleBits website

I recently received 4 sets of LittleBits from a Donor's Choose project and am excited to see how other educators are using them. They're essentially small circuits that piece together. Students can build all sorts of things with them.

Little Bits Design Challenge:
-students work collaboratively with LittleBits to create something that makes the world better

Design Thinking:
1) Exploration (empathize & define) -- where do you see problems? Can you define it?
2) Ideation (ideate) -- brainstorming
3) Prototyping (prototype) -- building their first model
4)Modification (test) -- testing and making changes to the prototype
5) Sharing -- could they share beyond the classroom? video? podcast?

Design Thinking => Constructivistm (makerspaces) => Inquiry-based learning

My thoughts:
Design Thinking can work in almost any classroom, content-area, or grade level. In literacy, students can take a stance, research their stance, write an essay explaining their stance, rewrite after constructive criticism, and share it with the world through a blog. The more time spent around the exploration and ideation process the better. Students need to become comfortable with asking questions and thinking deeply on how to answer those questions. This will, hopefully, foster life-long learning in our students and give them the confidence to be curious explorers.

Extra Resources:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Literacy and Personalized Learning ISTE2016

My last session of another amazing day at ISTE2016:

Creating Passionate Literacy Environments Through Personalized Learning in Meeting Hall 504

Presenter: Pernille Ripp

-moving away from "teacher knows best & knows everything"
-"50% of HS students bored EVERYDAY" -- Gallup surveys support this (44% bored)
-most kids don't want to read or write -- we should be asking why not? How could we do better?
-26% of adults haven't read a book in 12 months
-enjoyment = engagement; How do we bring enjoyment back to reading/writing?

5 tenets of choice:
1) choice in engagement
2) product
3) setting
4) timeline
5) assessment

-Whole class novels -- Why do we make kids read at a certain pace? Why does every student in the class have to read a chapter a night? If they finish the book in a day, how do we challenge them? If students abandon the book, is it their fault or ours?
-It's a kid's right to abandon a book, BUT if they continually abandon books, they don't know who they are as readers and writers. Do we provide opportunities for students to understand themselves as readers/writers?

Classroom Redesign ISTE2016

Ready for my 2nd session of the day:

Classroom Redesign: Future-Focused & Student Centered in Meeting Hall 707

-How do we define learning space?

1) Active learning ecosystems
     -How do we exhibit student work to reach an authentic audience? blogs, podcasts, websites
     -Having flexible furniture arrangements -- tables can easily move away to open space, small group vs. large group space
    -Spaces within spaces -- full group, small group, individual work -- student should have choice
    -Pedagogy, Technology, Space


Student Centered Classrooms ISTE2016

After a fantastic Keynote speaker (Dr. Ruha Benjamin, she was inspiring!) this morning and some wandering around the Vendor Booths (tons of fun upstairs), I'm ready to attend my first session of the day:

Student Centered Classrooms in Meeting Hall 707 with Nichole Carter and Jon Samuelson

Jon's podcast =>

Today's Presentation

What is Student Centered?
-student in control = collaboration, PBL, tech, choice, making/creating -- ENGAGEMENT
-teachers = facilitator, coach, find student passion

1) Classroom Redesign
     Apps for designing a classroom = Classroom Architecture, Kaplan Floor Plan, Adobe Draw

2) Blended Learning
     -HyperDocs -- create links for students to explore on their own
     -Pinterest Board -- different ways to provide online avenues to pursue their own learning

3) Student Unconferences
     -Pinterest Boards
     -Adobe Spark -- quickly create animated videos, memes

4) Genius Hour

5) Making & Tinkering
    -Bloxel Overview

made with Adobe Spark

Monday, June 27, 2016

Personalized Learning ISTE2016

For my final session of the day, I'm attending:

How Personalized is Personalized Learning? in Meeting Hall 201

Here's a link to their presentation: 

"How do you determine if the online content we teach is truly available to the learning needs of all students, especially those struggling learners and students with disabilities?"

- To be personalized = competency-based, flexible learning environments, personal learning paths, and includes learner profiles
- 90% of schools use personalized learning through a vendor -- product/curriculum given to teachers
      -This seems scary. How do we make sure it's not just a prescribed product and geared more towards student need?
-Universal Design for Learning
     -the WHY of learning (engagement)
     -the WHAT of learning (representation)
     -the HOW of learning (action & expression)

Extra Resources:


I'm here for the EdTekTalk which features 5 presenters from the the world of Ed Technology.

Here's a link to the presenters:

I'm excited to hear from: (REMEMBER -- a video of the presentation will be available on the ISTE website)

Ayah Bdeir 
"Ayah Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits, an open-source library of modular electronics that snap together with magnets. Bdeir was born in Lebanon, currently lives in New York City, and earned her master's degree in science from the MIT Media Lab. As an esteemed engineer and interactive artist, Bdeir is one of the leaders of the maker movement. Her career is focused on advancing open-source hardware to make education and innovation more accessible to the entire population."


Marley Dias 
"Marley Dias is an 11-year-old from West Orange, New Jersey, who grew tired of reading books in her middle school classes about “white boys and their dogs” so she created a plan, with the help of her mother and founder of GrassROOTS Community Foundation, Janice Johnson Dias, to do something about it. They gathered 1,000 books with relatable female characters, particularly strong, black girls. The movement is incredibly successful, with the trending hashtag #1000BlackGirlBooks, and the collected books have made their way to schools in need around the country."

Makerspaces ISTE2016

After a quick lunch break, I'm headed to my 3rd session of the day. It's my first PANEL session where there are multiple presenters on one topic. Excited to check it out:

MAKE Today and Tomorrow in Meeting Hall 707:
-Are makerspaces a fad or the future of hands-on education?
-How do we align making to curriculum?
-How do we create flexible, dynamic space for students on a limited budget?

**They're using to back channel the panel (we can ask questions/discuss/poll during the panel)**

1) Start small -- find smaller projects, few materials
2) Find a community of makers -- have already tried (
3) Be OK with failure
4) Ask teachers, parents, community for "junk"
5) Find used/obsolete equipment to harvest wires, parts, etc. -- think of safety first (gloves, eyeglasses, etc.)
6) Find carts w/ carts & bins -- making materials mobile
7) Project storage -- racks w/ hanging bags (see pdf below), hallway, tall bins

Extra resources:

Shake Up Learning

After wandering through the Poster sessions in Lobby D (highly recommend), I'm ready for my 2nd full session of the day:

Digital Differentiation with Google Apps in Meeting Room 710: Shake up Learning

Every student learns in different ways and speeds, so we need to create different paths to learning:

1) Choice boards/Menus -- students have a wide array of choices in how to reach the learning goal
     -use google docs to make a TIC-TAC-TOE board -- students choose how to meet the daily goal
     -it works for any subject area/grade level
     -make sure to include different intelligences in each space of the board

2) Chrome Apps:
    -pixton -- comic book creator
    -wevideo -- web based video editor
    -canva -- design tool

3) Differentiating by Reading level:
    -Newsela -- current events/non-fiction based on lexile levels (login w/ Google accts)
    -Books that Grow -- novels/fiction at different reading levels (NOT FREE but worth it)

4) Differentiating w/ Google Contact Groups:
    -group students by interests, readiness, levels, etc.
    -need to setup groups prior but can easily share out to each group

5) Differentiating w/ Google Forms
    -exit tickets, surveys, polls -- allows to know where students are
    -"go to page based on answer" -- if you answered C, you go to another page from someone who answered B -- this called Conditional Branching

6) Google Classroom
    -Parent portal is coming!!!
    -create groups within GC
    -each leveled group could have their own Google Classroom -- send assignments, templates, docs through each classroom

Whew!!! That was a whirlwind sessions. So many slides to go back through and review!

ISTE 2016

It's been a while since I've written a blog post. I've traveled a little bit this summer, but I'm officially back to it this week at ISTE 2016 in Denver!!! So excited for this opportunity to learn and grow.

First up today:
Liberating Genius with Angela Maiers in the Mile High Ballroom 4C
It's all about the Genius Hour movement where students work through inquiry-based projects on any subject of their choice. The power of the Genius Hour projects lies in student choice. All students have something they're passionate about, a topic they're a genius in. They need it to be liberated!

3 phases to unlock their genius:
1) Accept -- Students need to know and accept they're a genius.
2) Accelerate -- Students need to know others are a genius as well and can help others reach their potential.
3) Act -- Students need to act on their passion.

Learn more:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Genius Hour

TeachThought has recently jumped on board with the Genius Hour imitative, basically a way for students to complete an inquiry-based project around something they're passionate about. TeachThought provides 2 podcasts on providing ways for students to create higher level questions. Also, you can sign up for a workshop on creating a Genius Hour project for your students.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Teaching Channel

I was trying to find a website housing teacher professional development video. I stumbled upon Teaching Channel. It has tons of videos of teachers working with students in their classrooms. The videos can be discovered by subject, grade, or content. I found "Content" to be the most helpful. Users can find videos about classroom management, collaboration, differentiation, engagement, etc. Teaching Channel is a fantastic resource.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Twitter in the Classroom

Here's an interesting idea from Alice Keeler: create a classroom Twitter account. She explains how to create an account, how to create a class hashtag, what to tweet, and how to add your class to her list of classroom Twitter accounts. Follow Alice Keeler on her Twitter account or her blog, Teacher Tech.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Slides Q&A

Here's an interesting tool for Google Slides: Slides Q&A. It allows audience members/students to interact with your Google Slide presentation by voting or asking questions with any device (computer, tablet, phone). Here's a full review and video from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Google for Teachers

Another Google post!

Here's an interesting list of the 25 ways Google can make you a better teacher. Hmmm. By better, I think they mean more efficient, organized, and more engaging. Great resource!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Google Tutorials

Richard Byrne's blog, Free Technology for Teachers, provides users with tutorials for Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Many of the videos are screencasts he created, while some of them were collected from other educators. It's a great tools if you're looking to use GAFE in the classroom, start a blog, making conference calls, embedding Google Maps, or using Google Voice. t

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ditching the Textbook

Here's an interesting podcast on TeacherCast. It helps teachers move away from textbooks to using an online format. As a school, we've been looking into cutting out paper bill and moving homework online to save money, resources, and time for teachers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Genius Hour

If you aren't familiar with Genius Hour, it's an educational movement pushing students to learn what they want to learn. As educators, we should be giving students opportunities to follow their interests at least an hour a day, or a Genius Hour. It's a movement also tied closely to personalized learning.

I found a fantastic wikispace page to help teachers pull of a Genius Hour: 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Open Education Resources

There's a big push in the Education world to find, create, and share resources for FREE. They're being called Open Education Resources (OER) and are extremely important to meet to growing needs of teachers and students.

Steven W. Anderson, Web 2.0 Classroom, recently published a blog post about the importance of OER and where to find them. In his post, he lists numerous websites housing OER. Great resource!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Library/Classroom Designs

Here's an interesting article and podcast on redefining the role of the Library space from Cult of Pedagogy: How this School Library Increased Student Use by 1000%.

They changed the layout of the library by having all the books along the wall, bought movable furniture, and increased the interactive technology. Every piece of furniture could be moved and rearranged to meet group collaboration needs. The library basically became an extension of the classrooms where students could work in groups to complete work. Instead of having a makerspace, the library was becoming more of a space for personalized learning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Google Slide Templates

Do your students have Google Apps for Education accounts? Do they frequently build Google Slide presentations? Slide Carnival is an excellent site for helping students find better templates then the ones offered by Google Slides. A colleague introduced me to Slide Carnival today, so I can't wait to have my students use it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Inquiry Based Learning

I recently listened to TeachThought's Podcast (Epsiode 37) about strategies to effectively implement inquiry into your everyday classroom routines. Kimberly Mitchell spoke about the 5 strategies she helped to create involving inquiry based learning and her website: Inquiry Partners. The podcast was an excellent introduction into her 5 strategies:

1) Personal/Emotional Connections
2) Ask higher level questions, talk less
3) Encourage students to use evidence
4) Maintain neutrality during class discussions - be a facilitator
5) Increase student thinking time

Also, the Inquiry Partners website includes videos of each inquiry strategy being effectively implemented into a classroom environment.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ClassCraft & Google Classroom

ClassCraft, a behavior management role playing game for your classroom, is now fully integrated with Google Classroom. It easily allows you to add classes from Google Classroom to Classcraft. I can't wait to get started with my 3-5 grade students.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Free Money for STEAM

Welcome back from Spring Break!!! We even had a couple of snow days before the week off school.

Here's an excellent opportunity a colleague shared with me from Erin Klein's blog (Kleinspiration). It's the Citgo Fueling Education Sweepstakes and is looking to fund teachers having students work through STEAM challenges. Many of these teachers purchase their materials for STEAM challenges and the Citgo Fueling Education Sweepstakes can help with funding.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tech Tool Tourney

In the spirit of March Madness, MindShift has coordinated an effort to choose the year's best educational technology tool. You can vote for your favorite or just learn about widely used tools available for teachers. Also, follow the voting on their twitter hashtag: #techtooltourney.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Computer Science framework

A national committee of state reps, school districts, teachers, technology companies, and organizations have taken to creating a K-12 computer science framework. Their work is scheduled for release during this summer and could be a game changer for technology teachers. Sign up to review their work as they go.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Literacy for ELL's

It's a challenge to teach the writing process to students who's primary language isn't English. Many of them struggle just to access the content. EdSurge has some excellent ideas of how to scaffold the writing process for ELL's. I particulary like the tools they provide to "develop, implement, and evaluate" they're learning as they move through the process.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Creating Great Teachers

Here's an interesting article from EdSurge: Five Ways to Create Rockstar Teachers. It concentrates heavily on professional development for teachers and how to incorporate choice, personalized learning, and teacher leaders within the professional learning community. Also, school leaders need to lead by example and commit to the life-long learning process.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day

Happy Pi Day!! Here are some resources and activities from NASA for students to learn about Pi.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chrome Music Lab

Here's an interesting tool from Google: Chrome Music Lab. It allows users to explore the different sounds and how music works. You can experiment with different sounds like rhythm, harmonies, instruments, voice, and many others. Students will love exploring the different possibilities. An excellent tool for music classes or the 2nd grade sounds unit.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


I finally tried a Google Forms Add-on tool: Flubaroo. After you download it, you can have Flubaroo grade your Google Forms for you. This saves me so much time grading my exit tickets. It's a great resource!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Google Webinar

Are you curious to learn more about Google Apps for Education? SimpleK12 hosts a FREE webinar on Saturday, March 26 from 8am-1:30pm. Attendees learn about GAFE (Google Apps for Education), Google Hangouts,Virtual Field Trips, and getting to know the Chrome web browser. When you register, you receive a FREE ebook: The Best Google Chrome Extensions.

Monday, March 7, 2016

School Reform

Here's an intersting read from EdSurge: From Industrial Models and 'Factory Schools' to....What, Exactly? It discusses the possible avenues schools could reform through personalized learning, flipped classrooms, technology, differentiation, etc. It really leaves it open-ended and wants to start a discussion. It even challenges readers to share their ideas on social media using the hashtag #NextEdStory.  What ideas do you have?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Project Based Learning

Creating a project soon? Use TeachThought's chart of planning questions to move your project from Simple to Complex

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


This might be a game changer! A company called Neverware has created a way to turn old computers (here's a list of their compatible devices) into Chromebooks using the Chrome Operating System. It's $59/device. Sounds like a great deal!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Solar System Apps

My end of the year project for 3rd graders involves a study of our solar system. If you're like me and looking for solar system resources, here's a list of 14 apps for teaching students about the solar system.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Open Educational Resources

There's a big push in education to create and house free, viable, and complete resources for teachers to use. It can be anything for online textbooks, rubrics, lessons, etc. to help schools. You can learn a ton about Open Educational Resources from this article by Edutopia.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Games in the Classroom

EdSurge released an interesting article about the division between teachers on the appropriateness of games in the classroom. Many of the arguments against "gamifying" include shortening students' attention spans and turning them into tech addicts. The article argues the following important points:

1) Games provide a safe environment for failure and learning from mistakes.
2) Games provide a way for students to collaborate and solve problems.
3) Games reach all types of learners (The article even provides specific games for certain types of learners).
4) Games provide a different way to learn for struggling students.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Google Science Fair

Google Science Fair 2016 has begun! It's open to any individual or team of 13-18 years old. Good luck!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Learn to Code

Interested in learning how to build a website? Codecademy recently updated their "build a website" course to include HTML5 and CSS3. I personally enjoy Codecademy and find it a helpful way to get started with coding.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Math with Google

If you don't follow Alice Keeler or her blog, Teacher Tech, you need to start. She's full of excellent Google Resources. Here's one for all the math teachers out there: Teaching Math with Google. She provides step-by-step instructions on how to incorporate Google into you Math classroom AND even has a helpful infographic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Free Makerspace Ebook

Interested in starting a Makerspace in your classroom? Here's a FREE ebook from
 The books provides the following information:

-3D printing and modeling software
-Makerspace materials, resources, websites, and project idea
-Coding & Computer Science
-Maker Business
-Expos, Events & Conferences – Maker / EdTech
-Research & Articles – Maker Movement / EdTech
-Twitter Hashtags

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

3D Printer

Interested in purchasing a 3D printer? ISTE Connects supplies a helpful article on what to look for when purchasing a new printer. They even offer a few models to get you started. A really excellent resource for anyone wanting to get into 3D printing but aren't sure where to start.

Monday, February 15, 2016

President's Day

Happy President's Day!!! Here's a lesson from TedEd describing how George Washington became the first president:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pixar In a Box -- free animation course

Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy paired together to create a program to teach students the basics of animation: Pixar in a Box.

According to Khan Academy, "The course covers different animation-related topics each of which comes with ‘a design focused lesson appropriate for grades 5+, followed by a math focused lesson which is grade specific.’ The topics included are :
  • 'Environment Modeling: Explore how realistic blades of grass are modeled using parabolic arcs.
  • Character Modeling: Explore how clay models are transformed into digital characters using weighted averages.
  • Crowds: Explore how swarms of robots were created for WALL-E using combinatorics.
  • Animation: Explore how animators bring characters to life with the help of Animation curves.
  • Sets and Staging: Explore how virtual sets are constructed using geometric transformations.
  • Rendering: Explore how pixels are painted by solving systems of linear equations."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

50 Google Classroom Tips

If you don't follow Alice Keeler, you should start today. She's a Google guru. She recently went on the podcast, Cool Teacher Show, to promote her recently published book and talk about 50 Things You can do with Google Classroom.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Differentiated Instruction

As a building this year, we've concentrated heavily on improving our differentiated instruction. We're looking into differentiating the content, process, and product in our classrooms. I found this interested article from Maryland Learning, and it gives some helpful hints on how to pull off the difficult task of reaching each student.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Girls Who Code

Here's a cool program: Girls Who Code. They have summer immersion programs and other great resources. We need more girls interested in learning computer programming!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Map Makers

I recently had a Social Studies teacher ask me if I knew of any map maker tools, which led me to stumble across 3 Map Maker tools according to Richard Byrne.  I would love to have students create geography games for our Colorado History projects.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Math Growth Mindset

Amazon recently released a program called With Math I Can. It gives students stories of other students persevering through difficult math concepts. Teachers can use videos to learn more about growth mindset, establishing a culture of grit in the classroom, and how to personalize learning for all students. Parents can use the videos to reinforce the growth mindset at home. I'm excited to see where Amazon goes with this program!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Minecraft in the Classroom

Do your students love Minecraft? Do you have students begging you to use Minecraft? Graphite released a blog post on how to get started with Minecraft in the classroom. It provides a teacher ways to setup Minecraft for the classroom, lessons to try, and ways to check student work. It's a great resource for any teacher willing to try Minecraft but isn't sure where to start.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Google Education Training/Certification

Curious about Google Training or Certification? I'm looking into earning a Google Educator Certification, and during my search, I stumbled across online Google training as well.

Google Training --  The online training include a "Fundamentals Training," and "Advanced Training," a "Devices Training" to learn about Chromebooks and Android devices, and finally, a "Trainer's Training" where you can learn to become a Google Certified Trainer.

Google Certifications -- The certifications include Educator Level 1, Educator Level 2, Certified Trainer, and Certified Innovator.

I'm excited to become an certified Educator Level 1. Who's with me?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Checks for Understanding

I've recently been searching for resources on how to improve my "checks for understanding" with students. I stumbled upon an article (actually an excerpt from a book) from ASCD where a chapter was dedicated to Checks for Understanding. The chapter describes the process of checking for understanding:

1) "Feed-up" -- clarify the purpose, learning goals
2) "Feedback" -- respond to student work
3) "Feed-forward" -- modify your instruction where needed

Also, I found a great collection of ways to Check for Understanding from Edutopia.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Kindergarten Sites, Apps, Games

Here's a list from Graphite of the best Kindergarten websites, apps, or games for learning. I'm always looking for resources to share with my Kindergarten teachers who have an iPad learning center. Any other websites, apps, or games to add to this list?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Google Classroom Tools

According to Alice Keeler, here are the 10 Google Classroom tips every student wants to know. She is well known for her Google expertise, so it's no surprise this particular list is extremely helpful. It includes how to share and turn in assignments with the help of screenshots. Great list!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Differentiation Podcast

Here's a podcast I recently listened to (mostly, it's a little long):
Key points: You need the right environment (growth mindset, supports, access, etc.), quality curriculum (clear learning goals), and formative assessments to establish a starting point to differentiate your lessons.

Youtube Mixtapes

I was recently asked if there was a way to create a "highlight reel" of the YouTube videos they uploaded to their YouTube channel. Here's a possible solution: DragonTape video editor. A user can create, share, and watch up to an hour of their favorite YouTube videos. Richard Byrne has a full review on his blog, Free Technology for Teachers.