Feeling Strong

Post 15 on the 30-Day Blogging ChallengeName 5 strengths you have as an educator.

I’m halfway there!


I’ve come up with these 5 terms to describe myself. I wonder if colleagues or friends would think otherwise.


Passionate: I genuinely enjoy what I do and am passionate about education, technology, and the integration of the two.

Life-long learner: I love to learn. I am thankful for my PLN which helps me grow, see things from different perspectives, and learn more every day.

Hard-working: Because I like what I do, I find it easier to immerse myself in it. Time truly does fly! I imagine some in our schools wonder what I do all day as I used to with my predecessor. No one works harder than a classroom teacher; I’ll be the first to say that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. I do.

 Leader: Seven years ago I turned in my professional development plan for the next 7 years. (It’s time for my license renewal!) One goal was to take on more of a leadership role with technology. Needless to say, that happened. I find myself taking on more leadership opportunities and welcome the chance to work with and lead others.

Fun: I had to lighten it up a bit! I am more fun than some realize, though my children would beg to differ. It’s all about relationships, right? I spend a lot of time trying to build relationships. I wish others would do the same with me. They might like what they find.


Feedback for Learning

Post 14 in the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeWhat is feedback for learning and how well do you give it as an educator?



Feedback is critical for learning. However, there are some important elements that must be in place for feedback to be effective.

1. First we need to build community. Whether adopting and implementing the principles of Responsive Classroom or building community in other ways, students need to feel safe, trusted, and respected. They need to know how to communicate and collaborate.

2. We need to develop a culture in which students know making mistakes is part of the learning process. Edutopia shared this post a few years ago that still resonates with me, The Role of Mistakes in the Classroom.

3. We need a growth mindset and clear definitions of how we grow and learn. I’ve been revisiting Jackie Gerstein’s post, The Educator with a Growth Mindset, a few times in recent weeks.

4. We need an audience. It can’t only be the teacher and classmates. Here’s a quote from How Digital Writing is Making Kids Smarter, that illustrates the value of a larger audience.

“Academic studies have found that whenever students write for other actual, live people, they throw their back into the work -– producing writing with better organization and content, and nearly 40 percent longer than when they write for just their instructor,” Thompson writes.

5. We need to learn about feedback and commenting. This is something we intentionally teach. What are the parts of a good comment? How do we give one another feedback? How will it help us and impact our work? How do we interact with others in person and online?

I rely on the classroom teachers with whom I work to establish these elements in the culture of their classrooms. When I get the privilege of working with them, I see the impact that learning feedback has on their experience in school. When these elements are in place, the real learning happens. Feedback truly is for learning.

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by Karl Horton: http://flickr.com/photos/karlhorton/1903050006


Top Tech Tools

Post 13 on the 30-Day Blogging ChallengeName the top tech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom and rank them in order of their effectiveness, in your opinion.

tools “A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamt of by its author.” – Stephen C. Johnson

The larger challenge here is that nowhere in the above prompt does it give me an idea of how many top tech tools I can list!

I’ll go for 3 that I use professionally and 3 that I recommend using with students.


1. Google tools: Email, Calendars, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Maps, Drawing, Google+, and Sites. There are more tools than that – but those I use on a daily basis. I haven’t used Office products in many years. When you can collaborate and access your things from anywhere, why use anything else?

2. Twitter- I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008. That’s 6 years ago! I’d say I began to see the power and use of Twitter about a year later and haven’t looked back. It’s the place where educators connect, share, support one another, stretch each other’s thinking, and get resources – all whenever you want it. I feel very fortunate to have my PLN.

3. Diigo – I use Diigo to save and share anything I find on the web. I have Twitter and Diigo connected so that anything I favorite on Twitter automatically saves to Diigo. I save many links each day and then have access to all of my resources anytime from anywhere. Plus, I can use the social side of it to see what others are saving and sharing, use Groups to collect collaboratively, and offer what I’ve shared to others.

With Students:

1. Common Sense Media: I value the work that went into designing their Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence and highly recommend these resources to all educators. I’ve also used and am again using the Digital Passport site (and app) with students. Graphite is a fabulous tool where resources have been evaluated and vetted by other educators. Thank you Common Sense Media, for all you do to support educators, students, and parents.

2. Google tools, again: Having a Google Apps for Education domain has contributed to a big shift in the way we teach and the way we integrate technology. These tools enable students to use technology as a tool to support learning, rather than starting with the tech and trying to go from there. Collaboration and sharing has impacted the amount of printing as students turn their work in digitally. Google Classroom is just getting underway, but already I’m hearing excitement and enthusiasm from the teachers using it.

3. I use a variety of iPads apps with students to encourage them to share their learning with others. We offer choice and students decide on the best app to meet their needs. Some of these might include: iMovie, Haiku Deck, Book Creator, or Explain Everything. Those apps would be at the top of my list for that purpose.

I look forward to reading the 13th post that other bloggers have shared to get their perspective on top tech tools.

 Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by katerha: http://flickr.com/photos/katerha/5746905652

Predicting the Future

Post 12 in the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?


I’m going to borrow a format from another blogger in the challenge.

5 years Ago:

I was just getting underway in my transition from classroom teacher to Technology Integration Specialist. We were adopting a new platform for our school website and about to move toward implementing our Google Apps for Education domain. I was adapting to not having my own class and instead, working with students and adults. We had not yet heard of iPads or Chromebooks.


I’ve definitely settled into this role! As a teacher, I enjoy working with students and adults, but have definitely been doing more with adults for professional development. I miss the classroom, but am constantly challenged by the frequent innovations with technology. We’re implementing our first 1:1 with Chromebooks. We’re connecting, collaborating, and sharing a lot with a broad audience.

In 5 years:

Because technology changes so quickly, it’s hard to predict what life in schools and in the ed tech realm will look like in 5 years. I hope to be teaching teachers, as I am now, but perhaps more online. Students will each have their own Personal Learning Plan, ePortfolio, and will be more involved in designing their academic programs, with guidance from educators and mentors. I envision future schools looking something like the what’s featured in the video below, which was a selection of the White House Film Festival for 2014.

Best Part of the Day

Post 11 for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: “What is your favorite part of the school day and why?”


My first inclination is to respond as students might- recess and going home! But no, I have more to share.

I work in two school buildings – one that is for grades preK-2 (Allen Brook School) and the other grades 3-8 (Williston Central School). There is an education technology support staff person who works in each building; we have a great team!

We offer after school support times once a week in each building. Sometimes this is a drop-in for support, brainstorming, project-planning time. At others we state ahead of time that we’ll have a special focus for those who interested, which might range from how to set up a photo slideshow, introduction to Google+, exploring particular iPad apps, or more. Sometimes people contact us ahead of time to let us know what they’d like some help with.tech time

We just got underway again for this school year, this week. Yesterday at Williston Central School, two educators came for support. Because there were two of us, they each had 1-1 time!

Today, at the Allen Brook School, there are 8 educators who came! Wow. Teachers were working on slide shows for curriculum nights, setting up blogs, creating presentations, and editing websites. Teachers were helping one another, light-heartedly joking around (it WAS after school), and eager to collaborate.

For me, this is a time to build relationships, provide student-centered (teachers are the students!) opportunities, and professional development in an informal setting.

The enthusiasm, dedication, and working with this awesome faculty who are always ready to learn more is the best part of my day.


15 Things About Me

Today’s 30-Day Blogging Challenge is a series of lists.



I love curling up with a good book.

I am an NFL football fan.

I can eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream happily.

I love to learn.

I’ve got two amazing sons.




Travel with my husband – Italy, France, Caribbean…

A get-together with college friends

Travel to see the western US as a family

Publish a book




Challenge myself professionally

Balance personal and professional lives better

Prioritize and see what’s really important






Lots of laughter with teammates from years past

Cried- when people jumped to conclusions without knowing me or all information






I am more of an introvert than people realize.



Little Known Information

Post 9 on the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: “Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).”


Well, that stumped me. I’m a fairly public person when it comes to my work, but the “that no one knows about (or may not care)” proved challenging. I even went to visit some long-time colleagues to see if they could trigger something for me.

Here’s what they suggested I write about; it feels like I’m tooting my own horn, but  oh well.

Last year in our supervisory union, we had consultants come in and assess the status of technology integration in the various schools. The outcomes were presented to the supervisory union school board and elements have been shared with our local school boards, communities, and faculty. I’m going to share some of it here now, quite publicly.

In the last 5 years, since I’ve been in the role of Technology Integration Specialist, I played a part in building upon and further developing a positive culture around technology integration. I also give most of the credit to the amazing administrator with whom I work, Walter Nardelli, and an even more remarkable faculty in two schools.

visionHere are some tidbits that were presented in the findings about the schools in which I work:

“When the vision is clear and leaders communicate plans and expectations and provide adequate resources and infrastructure, conditions for success are in place.”  (this in a paragraph describing the success in Williston)

“Students at WSD are more likely to have similar experiences in acquiring technology literacy skills.”

“Teachers at WSD understand expectations about the use and application of technology and are held accountable to meet these expectations.”

Part of the study was a survey for faculty. Here are some tidbits from the survey:

At your school, how frequently are educators exposed to innovations and technology integration strategies? 87% of those who responded said “on an on-going basis”.

Over the last two years, have you participated in school or district-offered PD that was in any way related to technology use? 85% of those who responded said YES.

Innovative, technology-supported teaching practices are recognized   98% said yes.

Educators are excited about learning new ways of using learning technology to improve student learning in their content areas or grade levels.  90% said yes.

We are thinking ahead- how do we continue to improve and provide deep, rich learning experiences for our students? Where and how can technology support that work? We’re fine-tuning our next steps. Stay tuned.


Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by Celestine Chua: http://flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/12011208754


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