Microsoft Innovative Educator

Microsoft Innovative Educator

Monday, May 7, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Week

Lately, there has been so much talk about teachers/education. I'm sure you've heard about it in some shape or form. The topics that grab my attention: guns, salaries, strikes, funding...the list could go on and on. And the opinions vary.  Well, no matter what side of the pendulum you swing on: from teachers are overworked and underpaid to teachers are overpaid and underworked (Yes, educators, I actually read that somewhere!) that is not what this blog is about. This Blog Is Why I hope you take some time to show some appreciation for a teacher; support a dreamer.

This Blog is about the Dreamers. The educators that have big dreams. They don't just want the status quo for their students. These educators want more. And for them, the sky's the limit. Or is it DonorsChoose? If you dream it, try to get it funded! I really enjoy seeing the variety of projects that are posted by teachers here. I get so inspired and even for me, it makes me want to dream bigger. Try harder. Work harder. That makes me excited for students. When you have educators who will dream big, then that opens the door for students who will do the same. These dreamers will spark the minds of tomorrow's creators, innovators, or...dare I say, EDUCATORS.

Once in a while, I get a chance to support my fellow educators. I wish I could do more to support these classrooms and help them get funded. One of the ways that I have been able to get my own projects funded is by sharing, sharing, sharing. So, as an additional show of support, I am sharing all of the projects entered in my RANDOM contest through my blog and social media platforms.

Project Links: 
Project: Classroom Document Camera

Project: The Flight of the Butterfly

Project: Laptop for Learning

Project: More Reps Means Better Prep (Donations doubled thanks to Dick's Sporting Goods)

Project: Every Botley Will be Coding! (Only $153 to go)

Project: Everyone Can Be the Teacher!

**Fully Funded** Project: No Summer Slide for Us!

Project: Can You Hear What I Hear? You shouldn't!

Project: We Want to Sit on the Floor (Only $185 to go)

Best of Luck for funding your projects! #kidsdeserveit

                                          (Thank you DonorsChoose for the kind words!)

A special shout-out to my fellow colleagues:
Brooklyn Springs Elementary

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Have you ever been at a place in your career or your life where you are not quite sure which direction to go, which way to move? These days, that's where I am professionally. I have experienced so many different successes and I am proud of the things that I have accomplished, but I continually ask myself, "Is there more?" "Should I be doing more?" This Blog Is Why I feel as though I need to take a moment and truly reflect so feel free to share your thoughts/stories with me.

Not very long ago, I found myself in the role of administrator. Not just administrator, but principal. In my first few days, I was scared. After getting over that, I was determined, dedicated, and passionate. I had worked hard to get there, the work was hard, but I loved it. I loved every minute of it. Except the end. Only two years in, and I found myself back on the market seeking another position. It wasn't what I wanted to do, but it was what I had to do. Since that time, I have struggled. Struggled with confidence in myself. I went back into the classroom and I enjoyed being back in the swing of things. I feel as though it made me a better teacher. But that's just my opinion. The problem, though, once you see the whole picture or big picture (as you do as an administrator), it is super hard to take those lenses off.

In my journey to find myself, and ultimately that "right fit", I found something else. I found myself traveling down a different path. I saw a posting for Instructional Technology Coach and after reading over the job description, I decided to apply. I thought, "Hey, this sounds like me. Why not?" And over the summer I attended a camp learning all about cybersecurity, technology integration, and technology standards. By the time I started my new position, I was ready! And I found myself in a position that allows me to do all the things that I love. I get to share my passion for technology, learn about new resources, plan professional development sessions, and be in many different classrooms. And as an added bonus, I am still a part of the admin team. It's like living a dream. How did I just stumble into my passion like that?

So what's the problem? I still find myself searching the job postings, looking at administrator positions and wondering if I should apply. There is still that feeling that my impact could be or should be greater. At the same time, traveling back down that road would require me to give up so many of the things that I have come to love in my role as Coach. I like being able to go into classrooms without being seen as "evaluator". I enjoy creating and teaching lessons or hosting "Hour of Code" with a Coding Lab. My dream is to start a LEGO Lab or even a STEM/STEAM lab. Would I still be able to find the time that it takes to commit to these goals? Do I want to risk giving up my DREAM job? Why is this position of administrator still pulling so hard at my heart strings when I truly love what I do?

Well, for now, I am sure my principal will be happy to know that I am just looking, wondering, and encouraging others. I haven't applied for any. I'll just keep that option in my back pocket.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Kindness Ripple

I have been a member of DonorsChoose since 2016, which is not that long, but it has been truly amazing. As an educator, it is great to take an idea that you want to implement in the classroom or in your school and make it come to life. What a great feeling when you get that email, fax, and eventually that package of materials. Even the students' faces light up like it is Christmas. Just imagine, you can make Christmas happen at any time! This Blog Is Why the #kindnessripple has me even more inspired to be a part of DonorsChoose.

So far, I have completed 8 projects using this online crowdfunding company. In addition to creating/completing my own projects, I enjoy inspiring or offering advice to other teachers to help them get going with making their classroom dreams come true. Watching another class experience the awesomeness of receiving that special package or packages is just as magical as opening them yourself. One of my most memorable experiences with DC, was getting a project funded that covered the costs of a field trip for each student in my grade level. This was the highest amount that I had proposed for a project and my team put in a lot of work to get as many donations as possible. Nearing the final hour, I had to break the news to them that I didn't think we were going to make it. BUT, before our deadline arrived, I received a message from the Caring Classrooms community. This is a successful giving community that guarantees funding for DC projects promoted on their page. As my birthday gift (thank goodness for birthdays), our project was going on their page. That is a moment that I will never forget. I loved the feeling of watching the messages from other educators across the country as they helped us reach our goal.

Inspiration. That is another exceptional component of the DonorsChoose movement. You become inspired to not only create dreams for YOUR students, but to support the dreams of OTHER classrooms. I don't get the chance to donate to other projects as much as I would like to, but it is a great feeling when I get to bless someone else. Well, now that brings me to the reason for me sitting down to write this blog post. I received an email from DonorsChoose that I would be getting my very FIRST thank you package. I have mailed a few, but this one was just for me. I watched the mailbox for days (which I never do, just ask the mister)! When that envelope finally arrived, I was ecstatic. I will cherish these cards. Not too long after, I got that same feeling when @Ripple funded every single project on the DonorsChoose website. I didn't even have a project up, but I was so pumped that I couldn't sleep that night just thinking about all of the classrooms that would be effected by such a wonderful gesture.

Now, I am on my way to ten. My goal is to have ten completed projects by the end of this school year. Here is a peek at my two current (final) projects for the year:

Botley Crew: Computer Science in Our Future

Bots, Camera, Action

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Keynote Speaker: Gerry Brooks

As many of my fellow colleagues are heading back to work after a relaxing Spring Break, I am just getting started! And how do you think I started it off? That's right, work-related! But, in my defense, it was a much needed laugh break. This Blog Is Why: if you have not had the chance to hear principal Gerry (pronounced "Gary", but southern) Brooks speak, make plans to be at his next event.

Here is one of my favorite clips, just in case you have not seen his work (no judgment):

Even though we may know him as the fun-loving guy who makes us laugh with his southern accent and funny videos, he delivered some powerful gems. What I enjoyed about his presentation was the REAL-ness. He shared his journey as an administrator and a YouTube sensation (my words, not his). As educators, we all face similar struggles. Principal Brooks sheds some light on how he has handled situations and adds in a little humor through video messages. There were several times I had tears rolling down my face and I just could not help but laugh out loud (no, really).

His message is great for principals and/or staff who may need a little culture and climate boost. It's like standing before a mirror and realizing, "Yes, I do that." Or "You know, I could do that better." It's not about pointing fingers or placing blame, but understanding our role in building the culture/climate of our work space. So as not to ruin the experience for you, I am going to share a few general points.

Keynote Speaker Highlights: 
1) As a former administrator, one of my mantras was "Have Fun" because we are in a tough business and if we don't take time to laugh, the stress becomes unbearable.

2) There are some things that are within our control to change. If so, change it if you don't like it. And the things we cannot change, we should not allow those to consume our days.


3) Finally, do you reflect on personality types in your building/work space? What makes you tick? Do you pay attention to the likes/dislikes of those around you? One of the ways that I like to start off a semester with my college students is by completing some type of fun personality quiz similar to the Myers-Briggs inventory. I also like to share my results. I completed the real (paid) version in college and again as an administrator. My results were exactly the same despite a span of about 15 years. What that tells me is that this is just who I am: good, bad, or indifferent. I think it's important to know how others like to work and/or interact with others. Let's take the guess work out and really get to know those that we spend a great deal of time with in our work lives.
Here's one that I like to use: Personality Test

One final video for the road...Happy Spring Break!!

Monday, February 19, 2018

***For RDG 101 Students Only*** Let's Blog

It's that time of year again! I am looking forward to sharing the blogging world with a new batch of learners. It is my mission to build a tribe of bloggers one blog at a time. This semester, students will have focused blog assignments based on readings and topics discussed in class. I hope you will take this opportunity to learn and grow from your peers with this unique platform. This Blog Is Why I am excited to see your blogging talents unfold and I look forward to sharing this experience with you. Shake off your nerves and have fun!

Here are a few tips to get you started!

Top 10 Blogging Tips:

  1. Choose a topic you are passionate about.
  2. Be different.
  3. Write like you talk.
  4. Include quality content in your blog.
  5. Include pictures-pay attention to details.
  6. Professional formatting-pay attention to details.
  7. Do your research. Look at other blogs.
  8. Fake it until you make it!
  9. Use your platform for good. Bring positive vibes.
  10. Build a Tribe. Connect and interact with others.
Remember, you will also post comments to your classmates' blogs. Use this post to help you easily find links to their blog pages.  Don't forget to add your links, add an image, keep it professional, and ENJOY! (Along with other requirements as listed on your rubric.)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Technology Integration w/Video Games

Always learning. As an educator, this is not only a motto but a way of life. How can you ever stop learning in this world of educating tomorrow's future leaders? You can't. This Blog Is Why I am seeking your advice about a cool new educational, technology tool that I recently picked up.

This past summer, I participated in the GenCyber teacher camp and became just a little bit more techie. I am intrigued by the world of computer science and all that it has to offer. Our students today are so lucky that they get to grow up in a time where, if they play it right, they can CREATE their own job/career path. How amazing is that? As an educator, I feel lucky that I am able to bring experiences to students/schools that will prepare the next generation for jobs/careers that do not even exist yet. It starts with a knowledge of computer science, coding, robotics, and other related topics. Our summer camp experience didn't end this summer and I am grateful for the extended opportunities we have had throughout this school year. At our most recent session, we explored several tools that can be used in classrooms for students at all levels (elementary and up). The one that I am trying this week, is Bloxels. With Bloxels, students (or teachers) can create their own video games. One feature that I liked was the ability to add content through the storyboard. Students can play the video game and practice skills or review material along the way. Now, I am new to using Bloxels and this is not a sales pitch. Take a look at my Flipgrid (code: ca6b46) and I hope to get some new, creative ideas for how to use Bloxels in the classroom.

Learn More About Bloxels

My Bloxels Flipgrid

Share a Flipgrid


Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Microsoft Experience

Have you joined the Microsoft Movement yet? If not, I invite you to read on. And even if you have, there may something that you have missed. As a current Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE), I enjoyed a fulfilling experience at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). This was all thanks to Microsoft and I was not disappointed. For months, I have been looking forward to my first flight experience and my first time presenting at this national conference. This Blog Is Why I encourage educators to follow your dreams and connect with those who will support you in making your dreams come true. 

My most memorable experience was volunteering at the Microsoft booth and introducing other educators to the Microsoft Innovative Educator program. As an added bonus, they each received a t-shirt for earning the badge during the conference. 

You can follow that same path. Here's how:

Step 1: Join the Microsoft Educator Community. Community Sign-up Here 
In this community you have access to free resources that will assist you with integrating technology in the classroom. There are self-paced courses for your personal professional development. If you want to schedule a Skype session, this is the place to be. Find authors, guest speakers, classrooms around the world, and virtual field trip opportunities at your fingertips. 

Step 2: Become an MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator). Certified MIE Journey
Now that you have the resources to become an expert at technology integration, why not get certified? Earn 1,000 points through the Educator community by taking courses, participating in Skype events and/or sharing through your social media platforms. How easy is that? Once you earn your badge, show it off and encourage others to do the same.

Step 3: What's Next? Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert
Keep earning badges/certifications. Find your niche. What is your favorite Microsoft tool or product? Learn about it. Present to your colleagues or at conferences. You can set your own path. For me, the next step was the MIEE program (link above). The nomination window is set for April 15, 2018-July 15, 2018. If you have earned your MIE badge, the final step in the application process will be creating a 2-minute video. Don't be nervous and have fun!

As an MIEE, I hope you take advantage of the MIE Travel Program. Last year, I submitted a proposal to present at FETC and I was excited when it was accepted. But, the icing on the cake was being accepted to the MIE Travel Program. They handle your registration (if needed), travel and lodging. Talk about stress free! Thank you Microsoft for an awesome experience. There are some amazing people on the team from sales to marketing and programs and I am proud to be a part of it. (Special shout out to Robyn Hrivnatz. She's the BEST!)

FETC Extras: 

FETC 2018: Your Digital Footprint

Interview with @EduTechGuys: