Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Tinkering Forward: The Maker Movement Continues at B-A


And so it began… Summer vacation—as well as Phase II of our Media Center Makeover known as Project Reimagine!

In order to continue providing students with real-life, engaging, authentic and lifelong learning experiences, we will be working throughout the next few months to revamp the existing middle/high school media center to achieve the following goals:

» Goal I: Revamp the antiquated reference section of the traditional library into a makerspace for middle school students. This area will include low-tech and high-tech equipment that provides students with the opportunity to experiment with electronics, robotics, circuitry, computer programming and gaming software/hardware.

» Goal II: Convert the existing library classroom into a TV/Movie Production Studio. This room will be used to broadcast the high school and middle school announcements each morning as well as the filming of curricular-related videos and presentations as well as the recording of podcasts, music and audio for multimedia projects. Plans are also being made to incorporate green screen technology, STEM Labs and the Escape Room concept into this area as well.

» Goal III: Add additional TVs to display current events, replays of sporting events, concerts and other school activities (similar to a digital billboard containing school news, info, etc.)

» Goal IV: Include study carousels and charging stations to the existing areas.

» Goal V: Extend the new ceiling, flooring and paint colors to match the remainder of the media center.

In addition to the changes being made at the MS/HS level, plans are also being formulated to open a second makerspace at Myers during the 2017-18 school year. This area will include high-tech equipment such as laser and vinyl cutters, 3D printers and additional robotic programs.

Stay tuned in to see where our next maker ed-venture leads us!

In the meantime, check out some of the progress we’ve already made thanks to the assistance of my high school Tech Club/Independent Study students.

Packing old encyclopedias, almanacs and other outdated resources to make room for the new makerspace.

Transporting outdated resources to storage & removing the old metal shelving units.

My most favorite picture: The “box fort” some middle school students created when they were helping us pack books. I’d say this constitutes the very first “make” in our new space!

The space as of this week… One step closer to “making” it happen!

Be sure to follow this space and/or @edutech20 and @BAmakertribe on Twitter for the latest updates to our project as well as info related to how we’re planning to utilize this area with our students.

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The iPadpalooza Smackdown IV: Digital Resources on the Go


Welcome to the iPadpalooza Smackdown—the highlights, takeaways and some swanky digital resources from my edtech adventures at this app-mazing learning festival!

After taking a few days off, I’m back in the blogosphere to share thoughts from my final day of edtech awesomeness in Austin, Texas. Check it out right here, right now…

The day began with multiple impromptu conversations—unplanned encounters that often result in the best learning experiences of all…

Lisa Johnson: The Techchef4u and I talked at length regarding analog sketchnoting—how, when, why, materials, etc. And I even got a behind the scenes look at her work as she shared her professional and personal journals with me. What an inspiration! As an individual who really enjoys scrapbooking and doodling but can never seem to find the time to do so any longer, I have now set a new goal: To begin sketchnoting on a regular basis. Stay tuned for some original artwork based on my ed-ventures in Austin…

In the meantime, check out some swanky examples from the Techchef4u

Or you can even check out a video created by Lisa at iPadpalooza on this very topic…

Oh, and in case you missed it… Be sure to take a look at Lisa’s latest read Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future Ready Skills for Secondary Students. Jam packed with original ideas and activities from the Tech Chef herself, this is a must-have for your summer book list.

On my way to a session I bumped into the Makerfication gurus, Rick Funes and Andres Joubert, and was able to ask additional questions about implementing this concept in my district. Their enthusiasm and energy that is present when they speak about their passion—connecting making and gaming—is so contagious. Tap here to check out my Day Two Smackdown for more info about “the corner of making and gaming.

Cathy Yenca: There’s always a takeaway when I have the opportunity to connect with Mathy Cathy. Whether it’s virtually or in 3D, the time spent is always well worth it. This time the focus was on the power of Keynote—an app that can be leveraged for so much more than presentations. Be sure to access the digital flyer from Cathy’s session here. You’ll be amazed at how much this tool can make an impact in your classroom!

Next up: Six-word story, Six Unique Shots: Enhancing Writing Through Multimedia… This session, facilitated by Don Goble, focused on taking the paper/pencil six word story literacy strategy to a new level by transforming it into a video format.

Take a deeper look into this topic by downloading a copy of Don’s iBook and/or access some super cool student examples (and more!) by visiting the LHS-TV site here.

In the meantime, here’s an example I created during the session.

As a total escape room junkie, one of the best parts of the week was having the opportunity to visit the official iPadpalooza Pokémon themed breakout room designed by members of the Eanes iVengers Team, including Jen Flood, Fred Benetiz and Rich Lombardo. Solving the really unique clues and riddles with my team of 12 was a challenging yet super fun time—one that was hands-down a favorite of mine.

Did I happen to mention that my group totally rocked it! Yep—we escaped with a record-breaking nine minutes to spare…Boom!

Not only did I earn the coveted sticker for busting out of the escape room, but this adventure also led to me having some face time in the VIP green room with Tara Martin, the creator of the BookSnaps and one of my escape room teammates. I had the opportunity to get a one-on-one lowdown about this trending topic as well as the chance to hear the personal story behind how her brainchild came to be one of the latest edtech sensations. One word (as Tara would say): #eduawesomeness!

Here’s an example of a booksnap—one I snagged from Twitter from Mena Hill. To learn more about this powerful way to get students reading and writing with one of their go-to social media apps, check out this introductory post from Tara’s fabulous site here.

My last session—Movers & Makers—focused on the basics of 3D printing. I’m hoping to incorporate this type of technology into one of our Makerspaces in the upcoming year…

And then there was the ending celebration which was nothing short of a rock concert—prizes, prizes and more prizes including iTunes Cards, Apple Watches and iPad Minis; voting for the student film festival winners; announcement of the week long APPmazing Race winners; a Dance Off with top honors receiving a new iPad Pro; a video montage highlighting good times from the past six years and best of all—an EdTech Rock Opera written and performed by Felix Jacomino and his wife Judy. #hilarious

Here’s a sample of their musical genius…

A visual wrap up of the final event, which includes one of my fav pics: Me with my peeps who are originally from PA—Tim & Mathy Cathy Yenca…

And then the news came… Carl Hooker announced that this would be the final year of iPadpalooza, Austin-style… *sigh! Although I was totally disappointed to hear this info, I am looking forward to what comes next from the iVengers Team. If it’s anything at all similar to the four days I spent learning, connecting and networking—it will be well worth the wait!

And my final thoughts… Thank you Eanes ISD for an app-solutely amazing experience! You guys rock… Seriously! Until next time—peace out! ♥

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The iPadpalooza Smackdown III: Digital Resources on the Go


Welcome to the iPadpalooza Smackdown—the highlights, takeaways and some swanky digital resources from my edtech adventures at this app-mazing learning festival!

I checked out of the blogosphere for a few days to enjoy the sights and sounds of Austin—including a visit to the very unique Graffiti Park on Castle Hills. Loved the concept of an open creative space where anyone is welcome to add their own art to the existing murals.

Stay tuned for some super cool stuff from Day Three… Only at iPadpalooza!

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The iPadpalooza Smackdown II: Digital Resources on the Go


Welcome to the iPadpalooza Smackdown—the highlights, takeaways and some swanky digital resources from my edtech adventures at this app-mazing learning festival!

Check ’em out right here, right now…

Day Two got rolling with an inspirational presentation featuring keynote speaker Jason Silva, the Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s #1 rated series, Brain Games, who shared some of his “Shots of Awe,” micro-documentaries exploring creativity, innovation, technology and futurism.

Next up: Make! Move! Makerfy!—A totally cool session about combining two making and gaming into a hands-on, high intensity, collaborative project-based learning activities dubbed as Makerfication. Miami technovators Rick Funes and Andres Joubert hit this one out of the park as they shared their excitement, energy and tons of ideas, examples and resources to make this concept come alive in your world.

To better understand the concept of Makerfication, we participated in a group “make”—to engineer a tower for the city of Austin with a predetermined set of materials. Points based on teamwork, problem solving and creativty were awarded to each group as we worked to accomplish the task. And then of course, a winner was determined at the end of the session.

Highlights from the action in the room…

Then there was the costume contest to commemorate Dress up Day. The creativity and laughter that resulted from seeing all kinds of funny scenes throughout the day added to the energy.

More food trucks and live music during lunch…

It’s just not official until you visit the Photobooth…

My first afternoon session—Bill is Digitally Literate… Be Like Bill focused on teaching students digital literacy skills as well as the importance of showing them how to use social media responsibly so they can become effective communicators in today’s society. In order to do so, Steve Dembo suggests incorporating activities in which students create memes to succinctly convey information and ideas.

One point he shared that really resonated with me was that how to do something complex starts with something simple and that the smallest form of creativity is just that—like a meme. At a glance these types of visuals appear to be very simplistic; however, they can often time speak volumes.

An example I created using the imgflip Meme Generator:

Dembo also discussed the importance of teaching students to be skeptical and critical so they don’t automatically believe everything they read online.

Fake news or reality? You decide. In the meantime, check out the link to this very useful presentation here.

Last stop of the Day: So, You Want to be an EdTech Integrator?

With Richard Wells from New Zealand in the house, I had the awesome opportunity to share insights from a day in the life of an ed-techie alongside a group of colleagues from around the world. Despite our differences—geographical locations, workplaces, roles and experiences, a common theme emerged as the key to success: Knowing and being able to articulate your why as well as building relationships and trust with staff and students.

A super high five to Felix Jacomino for giving me this way cool opportunity!

This tweet was pretty epic too!

And then there was this random encounter with Reshan and Sam, the Explain Everything guys—plus one!

The day concluded with another adventure on South Congress Street… More putzing, shopping and some after hours making with “play dough” at Home Slice Pizza.

Last stop: The Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset where I got the chance to witness the largest urban bat colony  in the world (1.5 million of them!) spiral from underneath the structure into the night sky for their nightly feeding frenzy. Way. Cool. Seriously!

My Takeaway: We all could learn a lot from a Mexican free-tailed bat… Like—Find your tribe and then stick with ’em! That said, I hope you found your peeps throughout this week of learning, collaborating and networking. Be sure it doesn’t end there though… Continue to connect, share and make a differnce with them way beyond iPadpalooza!

Stay tuned for more really good stuff from the place where the edtech magic is still happening…

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The iPadpalooza Smackdown I: Digital Resources on the Go


Welcome to the iPadpalooza Smackdown—the highlights, takeaways and some swanky digital resources from my edtech adventures at this app-making learning festival!

Check ’em out right here, right now…

Day One kicked off with a variety of super cool activities that created an atmosphere of high energy, inspiration and motivation including…

» An amazing light show produced by students from Westlake High School…

» A Keynotathon featuring 12 edtech gurus speaking about their passion when it comes to education…

» A super funny spin off of Carpool Karaoke to give a shout out to the event’s sponsors…

Yep, that’s me with the one and only Mathy Cathy!

And then the sessions began…

First up—This Might Get Messy, a hands-on workshop in which the speakers, Kelly Garner & Wendy Powers, provided tons of practical ideas for building a makerspace as well as activities that can be utilized to get students thinking, designing, creating…making! Click here to snag a copy of my notes. (Disclaimer: Doc is in total rough draft form but includes lots of useful info.)

And then there was this: The best lunch idea…ever! Food trucks and live music—what could be better!

Next up—AppSmashing for Evil, a presentation about fun and inventive ways to mix apps together for evil…and learning. Don’t miss this Smore flyer that is jam-packed with apps that can be used to get those creative brains movin’ and shakin’ and demonstrating knowledge in a visual way!

We had some good laughs with our assignment: reating an appsmash about the mastermind behind iPadpalooza, Carl Hooker As you can imagine, generating spoofs about someone with that last name is pretty easy! Check out some pretty funny visuals made by other participants at #wwchs.

Messing around with the Sphero challenges was pretty fun too! I’m looking forward to developing some of these activities for our students.

The day concluded with me having the opportunity to present about my District’s 1:1 iPad initiative, specifically the keys to our success story. A shout out to Tim Yenca for the encouragement to apply for a spot in this year’s lineup. I’m so appreaciative of this amazing opportunity!

The video I created for my gig…

And of course, I also had the opportunity to connect in real-time with some peeps from my virtual PLNs including Sandy who is a member of the Tech with Us Facebook Community.

Then I had the opportunity to putz around on Congress Street in Austin in the evening… What a super cool place filled with neat restaurants, one-of-a-kind novelty shops and other fun stuff!

Stay tuned for more really good stuff from the place where the edtech magic is happening…

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iPadpalooza: Ready… Set… Learning on the Go!


And just like that—it’s here… Summer vacation and iPadpalooza—a three-day learning festival being held at the Westlake High School in Austin, Texas—and my first-ever trip to a national conference. Not only will I be spending the next four days with some of the most awesome edtech rockstars on the planet—Carl Hooker, Steve Dembo, Matt Miller, Reshan Richards, Tom Murray and Greg Kulowiec to name a few, but I also get the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of my most favorite PLN peeps that I’ve only known to date via Twitter and the blogosphere—Lisa Johnson (The Tech Chef) and Cathy Yenca (Mathy Cathy). Additionally, I will have the chance to reconnect with Tim Yenca, my district’s Apple Professional Learning Specialist, and the person who convinced me that I should not miss this opportunity as well. Thanks so much for encouraging me to be present at this event so I could expand my connections, skills and knowledge with the best of the best!

Not only am I attending various sessions on making, gamification, escape rooms, movie production and more, but I was also selected to be a presenter. On Tuesday, I’ll be hosting a Swift Talk entitled Project iLearn: Our Ed-venuture from No Tech to Anytime Tech in which I will discuss my District’s 1:1 iPad success story. And on Wednesday I was invited to be a panelist for the So, You Want to be an EdTech Integrator? session that will be facilitated by Felix Jacomino.

And the learning has already begun… I just finished my first session on sketchnoting in this amazing room called The Incubator, a classroom that was designed with the Shark Tank concept in mind. Students use this high-tech innovative space to develop a startup, with only one product selected to receive the funding needed to make the protype a reality. #waycool #makeitreal #kidsdeserveit

Sketchnoting… what in the world? Maybe this collaborative collage of words and doodles generated by all participants in the session will help explain, as it’s essentially a sketchnote.

Check out my first attempt at sketchnoting—one that involved charting the high and low points of my teaching career via a graph (specifically, one using the x and y axis). Great ideas to follow regarding how this concept can be integrated into the K-12 curriculum… #supercoolstuff

Stay tuned for more info from my ed-venture in the Lone Star State, which will include some app-solutely amazing ideas and resources that can be incorporated into your learning space!

In the meantime, check out more details about iPadpalooza by clicking here. Or join us virtually by following along on Twitter via these coordinates: @iPadpalooza or #iplza17.

I’m off to my next session—Using Digital Tools to Give Every Student a Voice in Math with the one and only Mathy Cathy!

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Operation Recycle Part II: Get Your Breakout On!


Earlier in the week I wrote a post about Operation Recycle, a brand-new Breakout EDU game I recently designed for our school’s sixth grade environmental field trip—one that was based on the importance of recycling.

The Concept: With 50 minutes on the clock, teams of students were “locked” in Mr. T’s laboratory, a room filled with clues, puzzles, riddles and brain teasers. The goal was simple… Solve the mystery to get out in time—and save the planet!

The Materials: Cans, bottles, locks, ransom notes, equations, a card sort, maps, puzzles, treasure boxes and more.

The Players: Teams of sixth grade campers.

The Outcome: Students used logic, problem solving skills, communication and teamwork to “breakout” of our makeshift escape room… And had a lot of fun doing so!

Highlights from Day 1:

Highlights from Day 2:

Kermit, Corey & Bailey—The guys who helped me make it happen…

We unlocked the the fun… Only at Camp Kanesatake!

Stay tuned for more info about how you can snag a copy of this breakout activity for your classroom…

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Create Powerful Learning Experiences with Visuals


Did you know that the human brain can process visuals way faster than text? Yep, not only are they more interesting and eye-catching, it’s a proven fact that we’re actually wired to respond more favorably to visuals. Furthermore, according to a recent study, 65% of the population now consists of visuals learners which would explain why our society is so hooked on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram—all technologies that are essentially image-based.

Obviously, we are living in the age of visual information. So, if that’s the case, then shouldn’t we be teaching and learning in that same age of age of visual information as well? As educators, shouldn’t we be leveraging the power of visuals in all types of instruction?

Of course, these are rhetorical questions because it’s apparent that images are clearly the key to engaging students. They quickly transmit messages, improve comprehension, strengthen retention of knowledge and motivate learning. That said, check out the infographic shown below that illustrates the types of visuals that ignite our brains.

types of visuals

A shout out to SH!FT eLearning for sharing this useful graphic! Learn more about how each visual shown on the infographic can impact learning here.

Classroom Connection:

This “visual about visuals” focuses on the type of content that should be used to create a more engaging online course, but this info can be applied to all types of learning situations.

If you would like to read more information about the power of visuals in learning, check out an interesting article here.

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Operation Recycle Part I: Get Your Breakout On!


What do you get when you combine cans, bottles and other recyclable materials with locks, ransom notes, equations, a card sort, maps, puzzles, ingenious treasure boxes and more?

Operation Recycle: My super cool breakout game designed for our school’s sixth grade environmental field trip!

Stay tuned for more details about my brand-new escape room experience that teaches students about the importance of recycling.

Unlock the fun… Only at Camp Kanesatake!

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Tech-knowledge-y Lives Here!


Introducing… A short promo video I created to share on my social media spaces. The end goal: To encourage educators to check out the Edutech for Teachers blog for digital resources that can be integrated into classroom activities.

Critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity and research skills… All of these matter in today’s flat world. Therefore, a tech-knowledge-y infused curriculum that reinforces them matters too. After all, #kidsdeserveit!

Thanks in advance for sharing the #edtech love! ♥

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Hey, edu-tech gurus!

Looking for some technology integration ideas to enhance your classroom lessons? Then be sure to check out my "Tech Tips" for the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools, applications and web sites that can be incorporated into activities and/or projects. Although some posts may not be applicable to your content area or grade level, be sure to check back often as I will be varying ideas in order to provide resources across the K-12 curriculum.

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