Sunday, February 12, 2017

TCEA 2017

This week, I had the opportunity to attend the TCEA conference at the Austin Convention Center. Once I figured out how to navigate the multiple floors and broad expanse of this venue, I was able to connect with amazing educators and learn a lot of practical ways to help teachers improve technology integration.


The first session I attended was titled, Using GSuite in the STEM classroom. Several teachers in my building are already utilizing components of G Suite in their classrooms, but I was interested in the science focus. We do have a STEM program at our campus, but it only serves one third of our 4th and 5th graders, so I was especially interested in how I might help support ALL of our science teachers. This presentation team took a paper airplane problem and guided us through their district's problem-solving framework. The link to the presentation is here, and I recommend you check it out!

Presenters: @NKeithBlend
                   @askatechnogirl

Wednesday morning, I had the honor to be part of a #PersonalizedPD panel discussion. This fun group included Jason Bretzmann, author of Personalized PD, Todd Nesloney, author of Kids Deserve It, and Jessica Torres, elementary assistant principal in Waco, Texas. While I remain unclear on why I was asked to join this group, I am so fortunate I had the opportunity. One of the most fun things for me about this group was that I really only knew the other panelists from Twitter. It was a great experience to interact with members of my PLN and they have fantastic insights into personalizing professional development, which has become a passion of mine since I became an Instructional Coach. We used Today's Meet as a backchannel and the audience asked questions. It was a great way to personalize the session so that we talked about the specific needs of the audience. 

                                                         Photo credit: Aaron Hogan

Next up, I attended a session on implementing DreamBox. We are piloting this adaptive numeracy program with our kindergartners soon, so I was interested in hearing more about the details. I appreciated the presentation, but was even more impressed by the conversation I had afterwards with Tim Hudson. We were able to talk math and professional development opportunities. It is rare to get to talk with someone about the work of Catherine Fosnot at a technology conference! For more details on DreamBox, click here.

Of course, it wouldn't be a conference without a little #patioPD. One of the best parts about gatherings such as TCEA is getting to visit with smart, innovative people who are just as passionate about education as I am. I love connecting with people who have different strengths, viewpoints, and experiences. We truly can learn so much from each other.

Thanks so much, TCEA17!


Monday, February 6, 2017

TPT Sale!


Everything in my TPT store will be 28% off on Tuesday and Wednesday! Swing by for a huge sale!

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Squiggly Story

One of the things I miss most about the classroom is reading to children. There is such power in telling a story well, and read-alouds afforded me the opportunity to use all those skills I learned in high school speech and performance classes. An enjoyment of reading, paired with a well-written children's book can set the stage for a host of learning opportunities, as well as (and equally as important) provide a warm, special experience between a teacher and her class.

Read-alouds build classroom community, provide common experiences, provide models for fluency and comprehension, and are just plain fun. Reading Magic by Mem Fox is one of my favorite books for adults that sheds light on the importance of read-alouds. In it, she talks about the classroom read-aloud and how it's ultimate design is to mimic the loving shared reading experience between a child and parent. Over my years as a classroom teacher, I've accidentally been called, "Mom," over a hundred times, and I truly do believe in the power of books that are read aloud by a trusted adult.

Every so often, a read-aloud comes along that makes me ache to have my own classroom again. A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen did just that. It came up in my Amazon list of books I should (of course) want to buy and I fell in love with the believable story line, the darling illustrations by Mike Lowery, and the myriad classroom implications. As the co-director of the Central Texas Writing Project, I am always on the hunt for books that highlight and celebrate the writing process of children who are not yet writing conventionally. This book is now one of my very favorites, and I cannot wait to share it with teachers this summer.

I borrowed a kindergarten class at the campus where I am the instructional coach so I would have a chance to try this book out with real children. After reading A Squiggly Story (which the kids LOVED by the way), we brainstormed a list of things that the kids may want to write about. In the book, the main character's older says, "It's easy, just write what you know." During this time, I modeled stretching out words and spelling phonetically since kindergartners often get hung up on writing because they want you to tell them how to spell everything.

I am so thankful I work with teachers who open up their classrooms and share their learners with me. 
I had such a fantastic time in kindergarten this week!