Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the first edcamp held in Southeast Minnesota.  This event began to come together this spring and when registration opened I quickly jumped on board.  I have connected with many other educators all over the world through twitter, blogging, and TIES, but I felt that connections in the region I teach in were lacking outside of my building and district.  I knew there had to be amazing teachers doing fantastic things, but I needed to find them.  

The day kicked off bright and early with breakfast in the commons area as we planned our day.  One thing that stood out to me, was the number of people who were offering input into the scheduling.  As you you know or might not know edcamps are built by the attendees.  There is no set topics or presentations.  As we sat at our table, we came up with topics we could present on, topics we could facilitate discussions on, and topics we hoped to learn more about.  Moderators circled the room reading the post-its listing the topics, gauging interest, and looking for support.  If you didn't know before, anyone just walking into the room while this was going on could get the sense that there was a lot of knowledge and interest!  It is not always easy to "present" on the fly, but there was never a time when a topic or block could not be filled.  

Our day was broken into 4 blocks, with lunch in the middle.  The first block I attended was on Twitter and Twitterchats.  While I am a "tweeter"  I was hoping to come across others in the area who were already tweeting and encourage others to jump on board.  The majority of the class had either never signed up for Twitter or had signed up and never tweeted.  The presenter, @tritonkory,  is an avid tweeter in our area and did a fantastic job sharing her knowledge and making the "Twitterverse" not seem so scary. I am hoping to see more of the educators from this session becoming a part of my local PLN on Twitter.

The second session I went to was on Voxer.  I had no idea what to expect, other than it was a walkie talkie type app.  I had received a text a week earlier from a colleague about it, but I had not idea what impact it could have educationally.  This session was lead by @jennywamsley , a super connected educator.  I was excited to hear that Jenny was a PE/Health teacher, this is an area I will be working with as a digital learning coach this year and the role these teachers play is so different from mine.  I am always looking for ideas and thoughts to share with them on innovation and technology.  We quickly set up voxer accounts and moments later had a edcampSEMN chat going with the educators in the room.  We also were introduced to the mneducators chat.  This is a chat that daily poses a reflective question for teachers to respond to and learn from.  I loved that voxer was like Twitter amplified.  I enjoyed getting a response longer than 140 characters and actually hearing the voice behind the thoughts.  How quick and easy it is to leave a 2 minute message as well!   I am anxious to try this in my classroom this year!  I see it as being an easy communication piece amongst my team and paras.  I see paras being able to use it to quickly get messages back to me or contact me if there is a concern that needs my attention elsewhere in the building.  I could also see using it with my students who have reading and writing difficulties.  We could easily set up chat groups or use it one-on-one to ask questions, share concerns, or give reminders! I will have to come back and reflect how that goes at a later point.

At lunch I was able to connect with the attendees from my district.  We all agreed that more Bears should come to the next one :-).  After eating there was a block of time left that was not scheduled.  What was cool about this time, though, was that organizers helped us to group into content area groups.  I was extremely excited to find 4 other special ed/speech-language/ell teachers to collaborate with!  It has been years since I have sat down with other special education teachers outside of my district!  We all agreed it was a very positive experience.  I am hoping we can make this time possible more often!

After lunch I headed to the standing room only "This rocks, this sucks," about education session lead by @MrBarnerWCMS .  I was not sure what this was going to entail, but I knew I had many opinions on things happening in our schools today.  This session gathered topics and then teachers were pitted against each other in a debate/discussion style activity.  Sides of the room were labeled sucks, rocks, and Switzerland.  A topic was read and then you went to the side that described your stance.  We talked about the topic with our common thought peers, then shared with our counterparts.  We tackled some very controversial topics such as merit pay, standardized testing, COMPLIANCE, lunch duty, and more.  WOW, what a cool way to get people to take a stance and get talking.  It was also great to hear the thoughts of others, who obviously find their passion in education and are knowledgeable in their craft.  I hope I didn't talk too much in this session, but I get fired up about a  few of these topics.  It was great to have a receptive audience :-), my husband is not nearly as passionate about educational topics as I am.

The last session I attended was on iMovie it was lead by @Brumbaughcr .  This is a teacher that works at the 45-15 school in Rochester.  You could hear her passion for integrating meaningful technology!  She did a fantastic job sharing ideas and resources when technology was not making this the easiest task :-).  When finished, we had time to share amongst the group iPad apps we use to integrate technology.  I came across with a new use for 30hands and a few ideas to explore this year.  I also was able to share a few of my favorite apps Tellegami, Plickers, and Frontrow.

To wrap up the day we had a Smackdown where participants shared the resources they gained that day with the greater group.  This information was collected by a script created by one of the core team members.  What a wealth of information!  Prizes were also given out and I was the lucky recipient of an upgraded Kidsblog account!  I can't wait to dive into that with my kids.

I left the day feeling excited for the school year and more connected with educators in my region.  I really hope the core team organizes this once again next year. I also hope to get more educators in my district there.  The edcamp model is a proven success and is some of the best, if not the best PD I have experienced.

I look forward to connecting with the educators I met in the coming days and school year.  I have often shared, but I will say it again, I would not be the teacher I am without my PLN.

3 out of 4 of the Byron attendees.  Myself, @jenhegna , and @KHaeussinger

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Wonders

It has been awhile since I have blogged due to a busy, but amazing start to the school year.  I am excited to feel that I have a few minutes to connect and share with others though.  This week my class has been visiting one of my favorite websites quite often as we have a "Wonder Week".  The site we have been exploring is Wonderopolis .  This site features a daily wonder, but you can also look at past wonders.  I wanted to share some of the wonders I am going to be sharing with my students tomorrow.

What is a Jack O Lantern

What is your favorite Halloween Costume?

Why do you say Trick or Treat?

How do you make a monster?

Can you grow Candy Corn?

Do you get spooked easily?

How many bones are in your body?

Do bats need maps?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher Week 2013! Meet The Teacher

1.  This is my 11th year teaching and my tenth in my current school district.  I have taught both elementary and middle school special ed. I have had students in Kindergarten-8th grade.

2.  I taught at the same school I went to kindergarten at for my first job.  It is a huge school district and when I was given a choice of three schools to teach at I knew it would be an experience to go back. It is strange how different everything is when you are an adult :-).  There was only one teacher that I remember being there and she was the teacher of the other kindergarten section.

3. I went to Catholic schools for 16 years, but I am not Catholic.  It was an awesome experience looking back at the community feeling and service opportunities I had. I had 2 ex nuns while in school one at the public school I went to for kindergarten and another in 4th grade. Some of my favorite teachers and the ones who had a big impact on me were nuns.

4.  A few years ago I feel in love with running.  I have been on activity restriction all summer and I miss it so much!  I was hoping to be back to it after my appointment this morning, but the doctor wants me to stick to walking.  I am anxious and hopeful I will be able to get back out there again.  I have ran 30+ 5ks, completed 7 or so Triatholns, and ran 19 half marathons.

5.  I met my wonderful husband of 7 years while in high school.  We went to high schools in different states though :-).  We will have been dating 15 years this August.  We met online.

6. I have a slight obsession with office supplies.  I have more pens, markers, post it notes then anyone could ever possibly need.  I was working to organize them this afternoon and realized I really should not be doing anymore back to school shopping :-).

7. I coach color guard for a local high school.  I have been working with the color guard at my school district's rival school for 7 years.  It is a lot of fun because my husband oversees marching and maneuvering so we are able to spend many hours together.

8. I am a book worm.  I have read tons of books this summer for fun, for professional development, and for my classroom.  I love my Kindle. I did not know if I would like it or not, but having so many books to choose from and never being without a book is wonderful.

9.  I love to scrapbook and be crafty. I have a great group of friends that I am able to get away with a few times a year to scrapbook with.  I am a little sad that I have been on bed rest so much this summer that I do not have much to scrap.  I guess I will have to keep catching up on my old trips and fun activities.

10.  I am a geek.  I love technology and everything about it!  It is not uncommon for me to have my iphonemac book, and Kindle out.  I also sometimes have my iPad, Chromebook, and laptop from my classroom as well.  I am involved in assistive technology for my students.  Last year I took a risk and became a Digital Learning Coach for my building and I love it!  Once a month or so I help other teachers to integrate technology in their classrooms.  I am hoping to present for the first time outside of my school district this winter!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Best From the Midwest Blog Hop!

Last week a group of educators got together to talk blogging!  These educators were from Minnesota and our neighbor to the east, Wisconsin.  I was unable to attend, but I am excited to be a part of the blog hop!

A great part of this blog hop is all of the freebies!  Each stop will give you the chance to pick up a new item!

My give away is ideas for using the site : Wonderopolis!  It includes lesson plans and 2 forms for accompanying lesson ideas.  If you have any feedback I would love to hear it!  Click the graphic to access:

For my freebie I am giving away a document I created to help plan along with your special education teachers for the students you share.  I am going to use this template when meeting with my teams this year to better plan for and support my students.

To access visit this link: Peek at the Week

Your next stop on the hop is to:  Carolyn@ Wise Owl Factory .  She is giving away a Bossy R Word Sort Activity!

Each of the blogs are also offering up a product from their TPT store to one winner,  it is not just one product, but one of their best sellers!  To enter use the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are what others are offering:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Optimum Organization

Sponsored by Kristin and Elizabeth

This week I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to organize my books.  I love books and I am constantly looking for more to add to my classroom collection. I want my books to be organized and easy to access.  Right now they are organized by Lexile.  My students don't always look for books by Lexile, but it lets me easily recommend books.  The books are color coded to Lexile bands, so I can say hey you should pick out a white dot book.  This helps the kids not pick things to hard or to easy.  This year I am moving classrooms, so it has given me an excuse to see if there are better ways to organize it.

Here are is a before picutre:
I have two bookshelves this sizes filled with books, another bookshelf with nonfiction reads, and a bookshelf where I keep brand new books and books that I have purchased specially.  I am thinking this year of breaking things down into genres and series.  How do you keep yours?

This site has awesome ideas: 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tunes Tuesday 7/16

Today I worked on taking a song that I thought many of my students would enjoy from the movie Tangled. It is the song "When Will My Life Begin".

I took the lyrics and created a worksheet to go along with the song that would be good for review of nouns and verbs, along with tense.   I also included rhyming , vocabulary, and editing.

My worksheet can be found at this link: When Will My Life Begin

If this sort of activity interests you, hop on over to Nick's Blog...  Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason

T-Shirt Tuesday

I am always on the look out for fun t-shirts to wear on Casual Fridays.  I love ones that are academic, teacher-y, or related to books.  I thought it would be fun today to share some ideas, if anyone else was looking for things.

Here are some fun designs from Lesson Plan Diva

I love these from Threadless

These come from Booklover Tshirts

The following are from Etsy Shops.  The picture links to their page...

If you have any favorite shirts or sites please share!