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To Share or Not to Share...or to Sell?

This post was originally published at http://blog.cue.org/to-share-or-not-to-share-or-to-sell/. 
Education Week recently published an article on their website that touched upon some issuesTeachers Pay Teachers sellers had or were experiencing with the selling of their products on the TPT platform. The author also delves into the “ethics of selling vs. sharing” – which reminded me of a blog entry that I had started quite a few months ago and thought I would revisit for this week’s blog post.
I’ve had a few conversations recently with various colleagues about sharing versus not sharing materials and documents that teachers – myself included – have created. What is OK to share? What isn’t? Here are some thoughts to consider…
I’ve been a Teachers Pay Teachers seller since about 2012 – six years! Now, I don’t run a store that’s making me enough money where I can retire from my day job and stay home and focus on my TPT making (although I wish I did!) I don’t even make enough annually to pay for a nice family vacation. I started my TPT store with the intention of putting products up that I made for my own classroom use – products that other teachers might find useful and that might earn me a couple of extra bucks on the side. I did not start my store with the goal of leaving the classroom or making more annually than I do as a teacher (which, some TPT sellers do!) I was simply working my side hustle.
With that being said, I have invested in my TPT store and purchased commercial fonts, clip art, and the licenses that go with those in order to sell products that are pleasing to the eye and that fellow teachers would be proud to use in their classrooms. Fonts, clip art, and commercial licenses are NOT cheap – especially if you don’t sell tons of stuff! But I did it – and continue to do it – because that’s what a responsible seller does.
So when it comes to teachers sharing TPT purchases without purchasing the additional licenses – as a seller myself – it irks me and I try to encourage my colleagues to see why additional licenses are important (and why sellers aren’t just doing it to make an extra buck!) We aren’t trying to swindle you…but we also shoulder costs for our products that may go unnoticed or unknown to buyers.
Now, my take on products I make in the G-Suite is a little different. I tend to want to share what I make with other educators! Things like graphic organizers, newsletters, Docs templates – fairly generic items that any teacher could manipulate and use in his or her classroom. I know that there are teachers out there who do put more effort than I do into my G-Suite creations and subsequently feel the need to sell their products (and I totally get that). But, I tend to be of the “sharing is caring” mentality when it comes to my G-Suite products.
This leads us to the bigger question – when do (or should) we share? And what do we share? With the way we teach constantly changing and the need for lessons to address the 4 C’s of 21st-century learning, teachers should be actively trying to work with and collaborate with other teachers. (That’s kind of the whole point behind the collaborative component of the G-Suite apps – getting “collaborators” to work on documents TOGETHER). I think this also means the sharing of valuable resources that other teachers could use in their own classrooms and inspire their colleagues to use.
I know that lessons can be a beast – and that many educators want to put a price tag on their hard work and upload it to TPT as soon as possible. (Again, I get it…I’ve been there.) But I also think of all the educators who post their hard work to share with others – Eric Curts (Control Alt Achieve), Lisa Highfill and the HyperDoc girls (HyperDocs), and the entire#TeachersGiveTeachers movement – without asking so much as a penny (just a simple “give credit where credit is due”). If educators were more open and willing to share their QUALITYresources and templates, can you only imagine the effect it would have on our students?

Classroom Newsletters Go Digital

I was all about the weekly classroom newsletter as a beginning kindergarten teacher. It had cutesy graphics by DJ Inkers, homework information, tips and tricks for parents, and what I thought was an abundance of resources for my classroom parents. As my workload increased, I found myself slacking on the newsletter front; what had been a weekly resource was turning into a monthly gig.

It wasn't until I went to a session at a local Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit that I learned that newsletters didn't have to boring, paper things - they could be digital, they could be engaging, and they could be fun.


The presenter at this particular session introduced the class to Sara Malchow's newsletter - a completely interactive newsletter made through Google Slides. (I also liked Meagan Kelly's newsletter - something she shared with her students and families.) There were hyperlinks! There were animations! It was colorful and pretty - but it was also a source of information! And I knew that I needed to have one for myself.


Sara Malchow's newsletter

That was two years ago.

The time to get that newsletter done never came - until my new job and a new purpose for the newsletter came into perspective. As a Technology TOSA, I have the amazing opportunity of working at four different elementary schools across our district. I go into TK-5th grade classrooms, working with approximately 1,200 students (give or take) and about 53 teachers. And I have teachers who are actually using the technology and want to learn more!


So, taking inspiration from Malchow and so many other educators who have transitioned to digital newsletters, I dove in and created a newsletter of my own. I've started simple but have my staples - my notes to teachers (where I review what I've been working on with students and where we will be going in the next month), no-cost-low-cost professional development opportunities coming up, a "Did you know.." section (where I include information on free resources for teachers), and finally, a chrome extension/add-on or website of the month.


My latest edition for teachers

Short, digestible, and to the point - most of the time. Something that the teachers I work with could read and pull information from - maybe even get inspired by. (My journalistic heart skips a beat every time I see teachers live on the document!)


Do you create digital newsletters for your class? Who do you share them with? Let me know by giving me a shout-out on Twitter @KristinOropeza - I would love to see what you've created!

Get Googley This Winter with Activities from Eric Curts

With many educators looking forward to the upcoming winter break, some of us may need a little help wrangling in our kiddos in the days leading up to their time off. While Teachers Pay Teachers is inundated with holiday activities you can pay for, look no further than Eric Curts (Control Alt Achieve) and his wonderful, FREE holiday resources. His activities get students writing, while also being very tech-friendly and skill-based.
In Curts’ “6 Googley Wintertime Activities for Kids” educators gain access to some valuable winter G-Suite activities including “Build a Snowman with Google Slides,” “Wintertime Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings,” and “Pixel Art Ornaments with Google Sheets.”
If you’re looking for winter activities that will engage your students while still addressing important technology skills, then Curts’ activities should be on YOUR Christmas wish list.

Ringing in the New Year with a Good Read

My leisure reading books
My last week of winter break begins today and all I can think about is the enormous stack of books that is currently sitting on my desk - books that have been collected since September and have gone unread while work and extracurricular duties (and just life!) consumed most of my days.

And I love books - I love reading. I am a bibliophile to the max. I cannot keep away from both big-box bookstores and hole-in-the-wall treasures I find during my weekend adventures. I visit my local library almost every week (mostly for my daughter, but I manage to sneak a few books into our bag before leaving). I love books - both bound and digital.

I read for both pleasure and professional reasons. I subscribe to journals and magazines and read research on a consistent basis. I'm a sucker for historical biographies, dystopian novels, and science fiction thrillers - and the ever-growing collection of educational books for teachers, thanks to publishing houses like Dave Burgess Consulting and Heinemann.


I've seen quite a few other teachers on social media sharing their reads this week, so I thought that I would share some of my favorites along with some of the books that are currently on my "To Read" list.
Just a few of my favorite recent reads

Favorites:

- Google Apps for Littles by Christine Pinto and Alice Keeler (I honestly carry a copy of this in my work bag and refer it to any and all TK-2nd grade teachers I know who are trying to use technology in their classrooms. The book has some great ideas and I've been a fan and follower of Christine Pinto for some time - she knows what she's doing with getting the "Littles" online and computer-using!

- The Kickstart Guide to Making Great Makerspaces by Laura Fleming (This book was my own blueprint last year as I tried to forge a makerspace area in my own special education K-3 classroom. This book is a great read for anyone interested in incorporating the maker movement into their own classroom but just don't know how or where to start.)

- Science Notebooks: Writing About Inquiry by Lori Fulton and Brian Campbell (After receiving this book at a phenomenal NGSS training I went to this past summer hosted by UCR and the California Science Project, it's a great look at how educators can use science notebooks in their classroom to encourage NGSS-geared science skills, student questioning and inquiry, and data organization of science content and observations.)

To Read:
- The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King
- The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros
- Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
- Hacking the Writing Workshop: Redesign with Making in Mind by Angela Stockman
- Blended Learning in Action by Catlin R. Tucker, Tiffany Wycoff, and Jason T. Green



What books are you currently reading or are sitting on your desk or bedside table? Let me know by giving me a shout-out with your fave on Twitter @KristinOropeza.

Want to Grow as an Educator? PRESENT!

This post was originally published at http://blog.cue.org/want-to-grow-as-an-educator-present/

I was recently involved in a #caedchat Twitter chat in which the question was posed – “What is the value of speaking at a conference? How does one go about doing so?”
This question got me thinking (as they usually do) and it probed me to do some self-reflection. Why present at conferences at all?
1. It (not so gently) pushes you to grow as an educator. Presenting wasn’t even on my radar until this past summer when I approached one of my close colleagues, Angela Barnett, and brought up the idea of submitting a proposal to a local conference. Why not, we said? What’s the worst that could happen – we get turned down? And we did…a few times. Until we didn’t and were asked to come present (for the first time EVER) at Gold Coast CUE’s Techtober event. That first proposal acceptance snowballed into a slew of others (California STEAM Symposium,SGVCUE’s Innovation CelebrationSDCUE’s Tech FairIACUE’s Tech Fair, and the Spring CUE Conference). Every time I get up in front of a room full of my peers, it pushes me to step a little bit more out of my box and comfort zone. (I am no public speaker!) It also teaches me some very valuable things about myself as an educator of adults – patience, positivity, and passion just to name a few!

Tech Tribe EDU at SGVCUE's Innovation Celebration
2. Represent. I wanted to start presenting because I, as a special education teacher, felt majorly underrepresented at every conference I went to. I wasn’t seeing many SPED teachers showing up to the conferences that I was attending. And I was seeing even fewer up at the front room, talking about the things that I value and wanted to hear about. Gandhi’s “Be the change” words played over and over in my head every time I saw another conference schedule that lacked teachers with backgrounds or experience in teaching students in special education. If you’re not seeing the types of presenters you want to at conferences, apply, apply, apply! BE THE CHANGE!
3. Passion is tangible. I don’t consider what I do to be “innovative” or at the forefront of EdTech. But I have a passion for helping students, especially students who have long been marginalized. The tools and strategies I preach aren’t new. But I find that they work with the demographics I teach…and work well. I would hope that my passion and background in special education is what helps bring educators to our sessions. I absolutely LOVE when I see teacher attendees (and admins!) get excited about the material I’m presenting! It makes me want to go out and keep presenting – to share the knowledge!

Old friends and new friends alike (pictured from left: Kristin, Nancy Minicozzi, Angela, and Laurie Pettay)
4. Network with your Twitter PLN IRL! The power of Twitter is truly amazing. I have made more professional connections via social media than I have in any of the districts that I have worked for – combined. Not only do I have the privilege of chatting, tweeting with, and connecting with these educators online, but I’m also now doing it as a conference presenter, connecting with my professional learning network in real life! I’m meeting those individuals whom I follow and admire on Twitter – they are filling the seats of my session or workshop. Talk about having to bring your A-game!
5. Opportunities abound. I don’t think that I would have ever had the guts to apply to be CUE’s next OnCUE blogger had I not taken a chance with presenting. Presenting pushed me – and continues to push me – into becoming a better educator than I was before. I grow a little more confident in my craft every time I present and I have someone approach me and say, “Hey! That was a great session! I really learned something!” Presenting at conferences will definitely make you a better educator…and it can lead to other opportunities you couldn’t (or wouldn’t let yourself) imagine before getting into presenting.
If you’re looking to present a proposal for an upcoming conference (or would just like to attend one), here are some upcoming conferences that you don’t want to miss:
– CUELA Palooza, January 12th, 2019 @ National University, Los Angeles
– IACUE’s Tech Fair, January 19th, 2019 @ Bloomington HS, Bloomington, CA
– Cahuilla CUE’s Tech Fest, February 2nd, 2019 @ Desert Ridge Academy, Indio, CA
– MDUSD & EBCUE STEM & EdTech Symposium, February 23rd, 2019 @ Valley View Middle School, Pleasant Hill, CA
– Silicon Valley CUE’s Teach Through Technology, March 2nd, 2019 @ The Harker School, San Jose, CA
– Spring CUE Conference, March 14th-16th, 2019 @ Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA

My Gmail Inbox Causes Me Anxiety...You?

Create a "School Year" label then
add sub-labels under that year
I'm embarrassed every time someone gets a peek at my Gmail screen - But one day, a fellow teacher mentor (without judgement) suggested that I create labels for school years (2018-19).  Slowly, I've been deleting and moving - I'm proud to say that I'm down 300 emails!!!  It's taking a bit of time, but it's been well worth it.

Some categories I have created reflect my teacher leader roles (ELA, ELD, TIP), updates from EdTechTeam, and correspondence with parents.  What's nice is that the labels are for your eyes only...no one knows if you made a label for non-sense emails, such as, "Reminders from Hell."



So, let's begin to tame the Gmail Inbox:
  1. On the left side in your menu, scroll to the bottom and click on "More" - Then scroll down again.  You will see "+ Create New Label" and click on it.
  2. A pop-up will appear where you will create your School Year 2018-19 label - Click on "Create"
  3. Once created you will find it in your menu on the left - The 3 dots will give you a new menu where you can edit your label
  4. Add a color to better manipulate your labels (I'm a visual person, plus I like colors)
  5. Start adding "Sub-Labels" or wait until you get an email that needs saving

If you need a visual here is a short clip on what it looks like to follow the steps above:


Think about starting this new school year by using the "Label" feature for Gmail 
and begin organizing your Gmail life.

I hope this helps you - like It has helped me relieve some anxiety...Share any thoughts below and suggestions for keeping the Gmail Inbox under control.

Perfectly Pear-ed

Every good EdTech teacher has a few secret weapons up their sleeves - go-to’s for student engagement, something that’ll hook their students...sometimes, it's just something "fun." I have my favorites - but there are some I pull out more than others. Pear Deck is one of those tools.

Pear Deck is an EdTech company offering a web-based application to K-12 schools and teachers. Pear Deck Slides gives teachers the "ability to engage and assess every student in every row, no matter what grade or subject." Pear Deck will help teachers create an interactive and community-focused classroom that builds confidence and comprehension.


Pear Deck Slides is very similar to a slide show, like PowerPoint or Google Slides. But instead of static (read: boring) informational sides, you can make interactive slides that let every student participate in your questions or prompts from their devices.




I didn't have (or didn't make many) opportunities last year to use it in my classroom - I felt my kiddos were all over the place academically (and rightfully so - I had FOUR grade levels in one room!) and I didn't put much time into creating presentations that my entire class could benefit from...because really, I had barely enough time to pull on a clean pair of pants in the mornings.

This year, in my new position, I have planning time each week to create lessons. I'm creating lessons that are engaging and relevant, thanks in part to Pear Deck.

The first time I used Pear Deck with some of my new students (a particular 5th grade class) - the kids literally "oohed" and "aahed." They couldn't believe the magic of Pear Deck. And it really is - without having to buy any additional programs or software, I am able to hold the pace of instruction (and my presentation) and have control of what my students see on their screens while increasing student participation rates.




So, how does it work? Students are given a link to join your presentation. They enter a class code (very similar to that of Google Classroom) and it connects them to your presentation. Once connected, the teacher is able to control the pacing of the presentation and what students see on their screens. If I move forward to the next slide on the presentation, so do their screens. Magic, see.

With the help of the add-on, students are able to interact with your presentation - answering questions and checking their comprehension throughout. The teacher has the ability to review answers to the questions by (anonymously) projecting the answers onto the board - a feature I love because it encourages everyone to participate and have a voice (the teacher still has access to see which students provided what responses through their dashboard, if needed - something I always point out to my students in case they'd dare to make inappropriate remarks or comments.)


Students can draw/write on slides like these with the help of Pear Deck.
"True or False" questions are just one type of question that teachers can use to gauge student comprehension.
I also love that it seamlessly integrates with Google Slides - I was a big Google Slides user before and this add-on just reaffirmed my love for both. Another thing I love - the team at Pear Deck is so responsive to their users' needs. If I have a question or concern, I can easily send them an email and I have a reply in my inbox in a couple of days. Big plus for a busy teacher.

Let's also talk data - because, really, who doesn't LOVE data (said no teacher ever!) Pear Deck sends me weekly reports on my engagement numbers. If I have a teacher or administrator doubting the effectiveness of this awesome program, all I have to do is share these numbers - noting the number of interactions students are having when I do this kind of presentation compared to that of a static lecture.



What I love most about Pear Deck is that it allows all of my kiddos to participate and be involved - not just a select, brave few. The anonymity of the sharing components allows even my shyest, introverts to participate without having to feel "outed." Everyone has a voice and all voices matter.

Pear Deck is a FREE add-on for Google Slides and can be found under the "Get Add-Ons" feature in Google Slides.


Twitter Chats - What's That?

When Angela first told me she'd participated in her first Twitter chat a year and a half ago, I did a double-take and said, "What the heck is a Twitter chat?" She patiently explained to me what it was, how it worked, and how to participate. Since first learning about Twitter chats, I've been an avid participator (and sometimes stalker) of them.

First, a Twitter chat is a public conversation via Twitter, centered around one central hashtag. Twitter chats are regular and reoccurring (sometimes every week, sometimes bi-monthly, sometimes once a month) and are usually themed to connect people with similar interests.


Twitter chats are moderated by one or more individuals. The moderators come up with a list of predetermined questions that are asked within the Twitter chat time frame; most chats are an hour long, others are 30 minutes. The moderators "ask" the questions and facilitate a conversation with other Twitter users around these questions. Twitter users will answer the question, using the specified hashtag so that other users can follow, respond, and retweet.

Angela's initial advice to me when starting Twitter chats - stalk and then stalk some more. I started by watching and following a few chats I was interested in. I "liked" a few tweets that resonated with me. It wasn't until a few chats later (and once I really understood the flow of a Twitter chat) that I felt brave enough to try it out.


And I didn't completely fail or embarrass myself! I connected with some great individuals, had a conversation about a topic that I was passionate about, and slowly began the groundwork to building my online PLN (personal learning network) - something I didn't even know existed prior to my Twitter usage.

Now - a word of caution. There are Twitter chats...and there are chats that remind me of why I hated middle school so much. Chats where the "regulars" are wondering who you are and why you're there...the kind where your responses get the cold-shoulder and make you want to crawl into a corner and shrivel up into a ball. I don't have any recommendations for these types of situations...but I will say that the chats I enjoy the most are the ones where I feel welcomed, my opinion is valued, and the other "chatters" genuinely want to know me.



Some of my favorite chats include the following:

  • #newteacherjourney (Sunday nights @ 8:30 CST/6:30 PST)
  • #caedchat (Sunday nights @ 8pm PST)
  • #flipclass (Monday nights @ 5pm PST)
  • #tosachat (Monday nights @ 8pm PST)
  • #cuechat (Tuesday nights @ 7pm PST)
  • #cuelachat (Every third Tuesday @ 8pm PST)
  • #ditchbook (Thursday nights @ 7pm PST)
My advice to anyone wanting to grow their PLN or just connect with people outside of their school bubble...join a Twitter chat. Stalk and participate. You'll be a better educator because of it. Oh...and stay tuned for #TechTribeEDU's chat - coming soon!

Student Log-Ins...To Memorize, or Not To Memorize?

In 3rd grade, students begin to show more independence which is extremely helpful when integrating technology in the classroom.  However, there is one roadblock (out of many) that I try to tackle at the start of the year: students and their login information.

One of my Ah-Ha moments was when there was a discussion at my site about students needing to "know" their log-in information without any help.  This made me think: "Why should I expect my students to memorize their login information?" (yes it is helpful) but I, as an adult, have PWs and account info written down, saved in Keep, etc...
This is me picking my battles, not only for myself as a teacher, but for my students.

Let me start with explaining that in our district, students are assigned emails starting in TK...but depending on the number of names a student has (2 last names) or if there are others with similar last names, emails can be daunting due to their length.  These emails are used to log into their Google account, hence their chrome books.
email example: Adriane_ValleyBarnett@myabcusd.org
AND... you would think that using birthdays as passwords would be convenient BUT they are never composed the same way for each account a student might have: 
  • ConnectEd: ES20010223
  • baggies, magnet clips, student # labels
  • Accelerated Reader: 2/23/2001 (notice the month)

Because of the many login cards I received I decided to create login packets that students kept in baggies with their earbuds at their desks.  And I'll be honest, if I were still teaching 2nd grade I would be doing this same thing...actually for grades TK-3rd.  I feel that by 4th grade most of the students know their logins, but getting to this point is half the battle.

So, instead of focusing on the memorization part, I teach how to stay organized and how to keep information in a localized location.

Having a Growth Mindset with Technology Integration

I am by no means an expert on EdTech...let me admit that up front. There are things that I don’t know how to do and I will be the first to admit that when I don’t know something, I turn to Google. As a technology lead teacher last year, I had teachers approach me with more technical issues on their Chromebooks and rather than waiting weeks for one of the district’s IT people to come check it out, I took to the nearest search engine and tried troubleshooting the issue myself.

I will also admit that I have a huge learning curve when it comes to the Chromebooks - even though I have been a computer-user since the tender age of three (when my mom placed me on her lap and we played computer-based Sesame Street games on a behemoth of a desktop). As an adult professional, my preference has always been Macs, so having to learn the odds and outs of a PC again took me some time...and even now, I still don’t have them down pat.


I know teachers hear buzzwords and power phrases like “growth mindset” and “the power of yet” — but not many fully embrace such perspectives...at least not in the ways that we encourage our students to. As a teacher leader, I found quite a few teachers who were afraid of taking risks - whether it was because they were afraid of failure or something not going right with the technology, or they were afraid of the tech disrupting their regularly scheduled routines or way of teaching. Rather than attempt a lesson - or anything really - they let the technology sit there, collecting dust.




Now, I am the last person to tell another teacher how or what to teach - but I am a strong proponent for technology use in the classroom. I uphold the belief that technology is a tool for enhancing the already good teaching that is occurring in many classrooms. Even if teachers begin their EdTech integration simply substituting the technology for a current practice or routine - I give kudos because it’s a starting point! If it gets the teacher more comfortable with the tech, than I am all for it. If it encourages them to try some new app or website the next time they pull the Chromebooks out, then I feel we’ve accomplished something.

I feel that the little successes aren’t always celebrated or looked at as special things...but they should be. Especially if it gets teachers (who were very set in their ways) trying something new and taking that initial risk with technology. Technology doesn’t always work...things don’t always go right. But it’s important that students see this and take it as a teachable moment for all.


When it comes to technology integration, districts often shove the technology into the classrooms and expect teachers not only to learn the new tech (on their own time and dime) but also be proficient in integrating technology based on a few professional development days per year. Teachers don’t learn this way.


I conducted an action-research project this past year through a teacher leader program I was involved in. During the course of my research, I learned that teachers need three things in order to be successful with technology integration. First, they need to have positive, personal experiences with technology. Second, they need to have opportunities to observe teachers who are effectively using technology in the classroom. Finally, teachers need to be exposed to supportive, socio-cultural influences through the creation of norms and the discussion of methods/strategies with other educators (Ertmer, 2005).


Presenting for district administrators, fellow Teacher Leaders, and families

I think districts who are “getting it right” are providing their teachers access to not only relevant, meaningful PD opportunities involving (but not necessarily centered around) technology, but also providing experienced personnel to help support EdTech integration in the classroom. Sometimes districts forget that teachers are learners too - and that districts need to invest in their teachers just as much as they do their students. This means providing the tools and personnel to support teachers rolling out technology in the classrooms.



Why Travel Across the U.S. for a Tech Conference


From June 28th - July 1st I was in New Jersey attending FlipTech East Coast 2018 - And one of the questions that I was asked repeatedly was Why? ... Why did I travel all the way to New Jersey for a tech conference? Well, let me start with how this even began...

Around mid-May I was on Twitter participating in a Twitter chat when I noticed a tweet giving away two scholarships to attend @FlipTechEC - and truth be told, as I applied immediately, I did not pay attention to the EC part - All I thought was, “Hey, Why Not?!  Free conference? Yes, please.”

Seconds after I hit submit on that Google Form I get a tweet from @spEDTECHer - I responded (of course)...

And as I’m reading everything over to construct my response...a BIG Uh, Oh formed. What did I apply for? Excited, Nervous - What do I do if I actually get chosen?!?
Then it happened.  I got an email stating: Congratulations! FlipTech East Coast would like to extend a FREE invitation for you to attend our exceptional conference taking place on Friday, June 29th and Saturday, June 30th at Collingswood High School in Collingswood, NJ.

Again...Why Go?  Because I do believe that maybe not Everything, but Many Things Happen for a Reason.  With that being said, what an amazing opportunity to be invited across the country to join other educators who are interested, curious, and passionate about Flipped Learning. Anyone could have been chosen, and that anyone was me.

Unfortunately, there are not many technology events for teachers in my neck of the woods, let alone for teachers who want to Flip.  In order to attend a summit, conference, or EdCamp I need to travel quite a distance - and with CA traffic the commute is even longer than what it should be.  They are also very expensive - If I’m going to fork out my own hard earned cash for professional development (my own personal learning) then I might as well make it worthwhile.

And I Did!

From start to finish the committee, including lead organizer @collsphysistry of #FTEC18 ran the function smoothly.  They thought of everything!

Before I left CA there was
a Digital Conference Program with links to interviews with the presenters. Loved This - I was able to map out my schedule and “meet” the people who were presenting before the first day.  This really helped me gauge what sessions would be in my best interest - It’s always a bummer walking into a session blind and feeling like you are stuck - This time I had a better idea of how I would be spending my time.

When I arrived in New Jersey
I was nervous to meet other people, despite my big mouth and loud thinking, I can be quiet and shy in a room full of strangers.

During my first morning I joined @KyleNiemis and another teacher at a table for breakfast talk.  So far so good...friendly people. When lunch came I had the pleasure of sitting with three wonderful women (I'd like to mention @MrsFisher19 and @DOminiakSCIENCE here) who took me in and quickly made me a part of their group.  By Day 2 I was offered rides to and from my hotel and was invited to additional social gatherings.  I completely felt like I was part of this tribe ≛ PLN.


#FTEC18 had A Lot to Offer

DAY1
The Key-Notes were so on point!  @ChemicalSams & @EmergingEdTech had two different messages, but were completely relevant in their own right.  Being a teacher is not just about being the one who delivers the content...it is the person who can help our students become owners of their learning - Creators of a Student Centered environment.  And as facilitators don't focus on the middle - "Design for the fringe and all...will benefit."

"Balancing Tech with Our Young Digital Citizens" with @EricaRipston: At the beginning of the year survey parents about what tech looks like at home (maybe at Back To School night).  Through a session conversation it hit me that yes, the adults at home are also models, however, it looks like we, as teachers, need to include them in lessons about basic digital citizenship and why it is important to un-plug once in awhile.

"In Class Flip: Understanding the Logistics Behind the Flip" with @MarthaRamirezco and @CRbuitrago: This duo is awesome - Absolultely loved learning from these two educators from Colombia.  They are so smart...They applied one of their techniques to the delivery of this session. Participants were able to immerse themselves in a rotation model while learning about how to incorporate an IN CLASS FLIP.  Even though they teach adult learners I was able to relate to this process. With 30 students I can just duplicate the stations making it manageable (ie. do two station #1s).

"Crafting Autonomous Learners with Hyperdocs and Flipped Learning" with @CRbuitrago: Enjoyed learning from Carolina so much that I had to stick around for another round.  She teaches English to adults and uses Hyperdocs to do so.  I feel that ELA/ELD content is my strongest area and to see all the different ways to use a hyperdoc model to teach grammar was so beneficial. I'm definitely checking out ThingLink and DeckToys for next year - a creative spin on Hyperdocs.

"Flipping the Pre-Laboratory Introduction in the Science Classroom" with Robert King: Even though the wi-fi was down we were still able to see examples by the verbal sharing of YouTube links (I always say that tech is like magic...AND I adore magic so much).  


On my phone I viewed a quick video
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While I'm gradually implementing NGSS and transforming what science instruction looks like in an elementary classroom I can generate videos that prep my young learners and give them the confidence they need to follow through with a hands-on excercise - ultimately Building that Student Agency.


Student Panel: This is the first ever student panel I have seen at a conference.  It was comprised of AP Chemistry students at Collingswood HS. These particular students are very active and involved in extra-curricular activities.  As a traveling athlete, having access to wifi on the school bus is a must...Students who don't get home until well after dinner on a school night due to school functions away from home base can still get work done.  There is also more time during the class period to receive help and clarification if needed. Downfall, not all students will take advantage or have the capabilities to partake in a Flipped Learning setting.

Viewing of "Most Likely to Succeed": Day 1 couldn't have ended any better. Every parent, guardian, and educator should see this film.  Talk about giving students choice and voice...this is the window to which we are all looking for - What many of us are attempting.  If education actually supported this type of learning experience what would the future hold? Thinking about the year that I had and the group of third graders I closely worked with brought tears - Yes, I cried (publicly I might add).  But it's hard not to feel responsible for the future of our students when you are sometimes the only direct role model they have for 180 days. I was honored to be asked to help with a discussion after the movie by @spEDTECHer and wished the conversations could continue, but it was late and we all needed a break.

DAY2
FlipCamp (EdCamp style): What a brilliant idea...one day of conference is tiring in itself so being able to have something light on the second day was, lack for some better words, a good idea.  There were a variety of sessions (formal, directed, and attendee driven). Because I didn't join in any of the sessions by @matthew_t_moore I decided to hang with a group that he assisted.  I enjoyed having someone to help guide the conversation and even share their personal thoughts on Flipped Learning.

Conferences: CA v. New Jersey
It was so interesting to me that I was pretty much the only elementary teacher at this conference AND the majority of teachers who were in attendance were NOT ELA teachers.  Most of my experiences with tech conferences have been where the participants are mostly primary teachers and the sessions are focused on apps used for reading and writing.

I was pleasantly surprised by this phenomena.  It gave me a new hope and validated the way I am using technology within my own classroom...across subject areas.

Why Did I Go To #FTEC18?
I hope it's clear by now why I decided to spend time and money on a conference being held on the other side of this country (literally).  If not, read a little further:

As an educator and someone very fond of learning I am constantly trying to better myself so that I can be the best for my students.  Yes, I teach 3rd grade and Yes, we have 1:1 chromebooks in the classroom...This means that I need to find meaningful ways to use this tool in conjunction with the curriculum so that students are mastering the standards.  Does it have to be cookie cutter? Does it look the same for every student, every teacher? I am growing my PLN (something I knew nothing about a year ago) and finding ways to bring real-life learning into an elementary school classroom.  Yes, students will be using technology in high school, even middle school, but if I can better prepare these young scholars for what they will be exposed to in 4-6 years from now, then I should. The point of school is not to test, not to memorize, but to be prepared for and succeed the next year, and the year after that.

Because I attended this conference I will forever be reminded that "We must not only teach students to know and to do, but also to be."  There are so many definitions for Flipped Learning, but "there is no right way" or THE way to do it - Only YOUR Way. Start small and find methods that compliment your teaching style and your students' needs - You can make it work...Why? (hope the message is clear) Because EdTech is NOT going away nor the idea of Flipped or Blended Learning.

Build Your PLN (there are so many shout-outs in this text and there are more that I did not mention:@flipping_A_tchr & @MrsStephenson3 & @DynamicDuda338 & @mollywmus), Communicate with others (ask questions and share ideas), Collaborate with educators outside of your space (webinars, video chats, Travel!), Be Creative on how you deliver content/standards (use YouTube and Hyperdocs), and most of all Be a Critical Thinker (EdTechTeam Blog: Critical Thinking). Aren't these the expectations we have of our students?