Saturday, July 13, 2019

What Team Are You On?

Desmond Howard showing Ohio who is the best in the 1991 meeting in this
storied rivalry.  While the Maize & Blue have had a tough go of it in recent
years, I have a feeling things are about to change! Image courtesy of
https://www.heisman.com/articles/desmond-howard-25th-anniversary-heisman-winner/
Competition is something that has dictated human nature since the beginning of time.  In the beginning, it was about mere survival.  Humans competed with one another for food, for shelter, for protection.  As time went on, competition dictated the successes and failures of nations, of empires.  Today, competition drives so much of the world, as nations compete economically, individuals compete for better jobs, and on a more recreational level, various games, sports, and the rivalries that arise as a result, like the Yankees and Red Sox, Maple Leafs and Canadians, Packers and Bears, and Michigan and Ohio (State, but Michigan fans don't add the rest of the name when referring to the school from the state to the south).

Recently, Pear Deck announced that it was partnering with Microsoft Education to offer its platform for use with PowerPoint Online, something that has been available with Google Slides for some time.  You can check out my post on this announcement, Pear Deck for #MicrosoftEDU, here.  This announcement gave me the opportunity to explore Office365, OneDrive, and other Microsoft apps a little bit further, as I haven't used Microsoft much over the past few years since I started using GSuite for Education apps exclusively.  It also sparked a conversation between me and a handful of others on a recent episode of Sons of Technology: The Podcast about competition between educators and the camps that teachers tend to put themselves into.  Listen to the episode (and subscribe) below or find Sons of Technology wherever you listen to podcasts to check out this conversation and many more.



We all know those people, in fact, we may be those people.  "Forget Microsoft Office365, I'm a Google teacher!"  "Why do you use Nearpod?  Pear Deck is so much better!"  "You're still using Kahoot!?  You know that Quizizz is better, right?"  "I can't believe somebody would buy a phone other than an iPhone, it's light years ahead of anything Android."  You get the picture.  In fact, I have been this guy before, criticizing somebody's preferences over my own.

Over the past couple of years, I have shied away from such criticism.  Who am I to judge somebody based on their personal preferences?  And who am I to judge what a school district provides to its teachers and students?  While I certainly prefer GSuite for Education, it's mostly because it is what I know after the districts I have worked for adopted Google as their platform of choice.  If somebody works in an Office365 district and doesn't have access to Google, I have no place to judge and criticize them.

Why create a divide when we should unite in the name of student
achievement, empowerment, and connectivity! Image courtesy of
https://www.motocms.com/blog/en/microsoft-office-vs-google-docs/
While my shift to a more accepting attitude toward others' preferences was more out of respect for others, it brings about another important point: if something works for you and it is beneficial to student learning, what difference does it make?  We don't need to put ourselves into teams that try to compete against one another when we all have the same goal:  student achievement!

Now, this does not mean that we should support absolutely everything and try to implement every single tool that's available into our classrooms, far from it!  If you like a tool, use it, tell people about it, brag about what it can do for you and your students.  Have constructive debates not about what tool is better, but how each tool can be beneficial.  Try to see all sides and make informed decisions about tools to you, don't just use a tool because a colleague or a company told you to do so.

As for sports though, keep it civil, but keep running your mouths and keep rivalries alive!  I am sorry Randall (Sampson), I love you, but you are a Buckeye fan, so I may be a little bit slower in getting to you if a group of Wolverines has you surrounded.

In closing, one team that I hope you will join will be my book team!  I have been relatively quiet about it, with a few tweets here and there and some mentions occasionally about a book that I have been working on.  As of July 9, 2019, I signed a contract with a publisher on the book that I have been working on for the past few months.  More details will be released as we get closer to a finished product, but I cannot wait to reveal to you what I have been pouring myself into, with the hopes to inspire those that will read my work.

Until next time... 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pear Deck for #MicrosoftEDU

Pear Deck for Microsoft: another great pear!
Image courtesy of peardeck.com
For several years now, I have been hawking the awesomeness of Pear Deck, first from its origins as a stand-alone application, then to its partnership with Google with the Pear Deck for Google Slides add-on.  This week, Pear Deck announced the news that it was now also going to partner with Microsoft to allow for Pear Deck to be used with PowerPoint much like you can do with Google Slides!

Before getting too much deeper, you've always been able to use PowerPoint in creating Pear Deck presentations.  In the early days of Pear Deck, the editor allowed you to create a presentation within the app, but it was very limited in its design, with only a white background, a few options for inserting text and images, and the ability to insert YouTube videos in addition to the interactive questions.  If you wanted to make a presentation more personalized and visually appealing, you could upload a .pdf file, Google Slides, or PowerPoint.  However, each of these file types had to be uploaded into the app, then you inserted the interactive questions as their own slides, not as a conversion of a slide that you made.  While Pear Deck was limiting in the early days of using it, I obviously continued to use it because it was way better than the standard PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation and it did not give me a headache like Prezi (if you don't know Prezi, ask around, someone is bound to tell you the horror stories of the animations that people overused in that program).

Tons of templates at your disposal!
After using Pear Deck for a couple of years, it was announced that an add-on for Google Slides would be the primary method of creating and presenting with Pear Deck.  Now instead of needing to upload files into Pear Deck and making the necessary edits and additions of interactive slides, you could create right in Google Drive and keep your file as a Google Slides file instead of converting it while using the Pear Deck for Google Slides add-on.

Want to create your own interactive
slide? Use one of the options in the
add-on and make it your own!
The add-on also introduced the template slides.  In the template slides, you could insert (and edit) slides for the beginning of the lesson, during the lesson, and the end of the lesson.  Critical thinking slides were eventually introduced, and most recently, social-emotional learning (SEL) template slides were introduced.  All one had to do was click on the template in the add-on and insert it in the presentation.  The add-on also allowed for interactive questions to be added to regular slides as well, so teachers could use their own images and slide designs to create interactive slides.

You could still upload a Microsoft PowerPoint file into Drive and convert it to Slides, but while the original editor was still available for a short time, eventually, the ability for one to present a PowerPoint file disappeared.  In addition, to log into a session, you were required to have a Google account.  This prevented schools that had Microsoft for Education accounts from basking in the sunshine of Pear Deck.  A few of my friends like Tom Covington, Michael Jephcott, and Ben Dickson all work in Microsoft districts, so trying to preach the Pear Deck gospel to them didn't necessarily fall on deaf ears, but it certainly was not something that I'm sure they got too deep into whenever I would start to rave.  On top of that, I work in a district where we have Google accounts, but our email is through Outlook, giving us access to both Google and Office365 platforms.  For those in my district that were using Microsoft, they either had to learn how to use Google Slides in order to use Pear Deck or not use it at all, as it was not available for PowerPoint.

A peek at the Pear Deck for Microsoft add-in. 
But now, Microsoft users rejoice!  Pear Deck is available for PowerPoint! Since this announcement, I have spent some time getting to know how Pear Deck works with Microsoft, refreshing my knowledge of Office365 that I haven't touched in a long time and learning a lot of other aspects of Office that I did not know existed.

It is very similar to how it works for Google Slides.  From PowerPoint Online, download the Pear Deck for Microsoft add-in (not an add-on, as it is referred to in the Googlesphere).  At this time, it is only available for use in PowerPoint Online, but it will be available in the desktop version of PowerPoint soon.  Because the desktop version does have features that the online version does not, you could do the bulk of your design in the desktop version, save it to OneDrive, then open it from OneDrive online and use the Pear Deck add-in.

Here is the major difference between the Google and the Microsoft versions of Pear Deck.  While Google allows you to simply click on a template and add a slide into a presentation, Microsoft requires a little bit more background work first.  In the add-in, the templates are available, but when you click on the link, it directs you to PowerPoint files of the slides.  In order to use them, you need to download copies of the template files (I recommend downloading to OneDrive, but you could save them to your hard drive, desktop, etc.) then copy the specific slide and paste it into your presentation.  It's a little bit of extra work in comparison to the Google version, but it gets the job done.  As for creating your own interactive slides, the process is the same: choose the type of slide in the add-in and go!

Another aspect of the Pear Deck for Google Slides add-on that makes presenting easy is the Google Classroom integration where a presentation can be posted in Classroom rather than giving students a code to log into a presentation.  The Microsoft equivalent, Teams, does not have this integration at this time, but Microsoft has announced that the integration will be available for Teams very soon!  And as more people begin to use the Pear Deck for Microsoft add-in, people will voice their suggestions and improvements will be made.

So, if you are a Microsoft user and are excited about this new partnership, I have created a couple of items to assist you in exploring Pear Deck more.  Please check out my Pear Deck for Microsoft Sway presentation or a sample Pear Deck presentation in PowerPoint below.  And if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to hit me up.  If I don't have an answer for you, I will learn along with you as I need to increase my Office365 knowledge and skills anyway.

Until next time...


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Reflection & Planning for the Fall

A good start to the summer with a
live recording of The BeerEDU
Podcast!  Thank you to Shoe Tree
Brewing Company in Carson City, NV
for being such gracious hosts!
The end of the 2018-2019 school year is upon us.  As I sit down and write this, I have been off for almost a week.  My kids finished up their school years (we are in different districts) and have since gone to California to stay with my parents for a few days, giving my wife and I some time to ourselves before she started her summer classes for her grad program. 

While I had the greatest of intentions to get some things done, I must admit that I have fully taken advantage of the time to recuperate a little bit after what was perhaps the busiest school year that I have had in my 14-year career in education.   I have enjoyed catching up on some shows on Hulu and Netflix, episodes of various podcasts, and been able to put almost 20 miles on my bike in the last two days alone.  I even was able to record a podcast on location at Shoe Tree Brewing Company with my partner in crime, Ben Dickson, meeting with our guest, Rob Williams, to have some beers and have an amazing conversation about the great things happening in Rob's district in Southern & Central Nevada (watch for this to drop on Saturday, June 29, 2019, if you are reading this prior to then).  The past few days has given me the opportunity to reflect on this past year and think about some things that I want to do in the upcoming school year, a little over two months away!

I mentioned that this past year was busy; that is certainly an understatement!  I began the school year in a new school in a new city, working in a role that I had never done before while working on a degree program to become certified to work in my role as a special education teacher.  As the sole breadwinner of the family while my wife is in school, I had to pick up some extra duties to make a little extra cash, so I worked a couple of hours a week as an after-school technology coach and taught two nights of adult education, teaching American government.  I couldn't neglect my duties as Vice President of CUE-NV, so I carved out time to work with my board to put on several events throughout the school year.  I attended and presented at several events, including the CapCUE Tech Fest, FallCUE, a couple of Google Summits, the Tulare County Tech Rodeo, and SpringCUE.  And in between all of that, I submitted and earned my Google Certified Trainer endorsement, completed my Master's in Special Education, and have started working on a book (more on this momentarily), all while balancing my life at home with my wife and two kids and co-hosting two podcasts.  While many will think that I am crazy, I thrive on a busy lifestyle and wouldn't have it any other way! But enough about how busy I've been, let's get to the reflection!

I would be lying if I told you I wasn't apprehensive going into the school year and teaching special education.  While I wasn't nervous about working with students and meeting my new colleagues, I was nervous about the paperwork and other duties of the job.  What I learned very quickly, however: I would rather write IEPs and check in with students than writing lesson plans, grade, and everything else that comes with general education!  I feel that I got to connect with students on a more personal level, learning about their lives, their strengths, and their dreams, which was a lot harder to do as a general education teacher.  Now don't get me wrong, special education is not all rainbows and unicorns, there were certainly frustrating days and students that were very hard to work with at times, and parents that were even harder to work with, but in the end, I am confident that I am making a difference in students' lives and look forward to improving as a special education teacher and continuing to inspire kids and their futures. 

One of my favorite views of Reno a few months back.  I can't believe that
something so beautiful is only a short drive or hike away!
I would also be lying if I said that on a personal level that this past year has been easy.  As the only one bringing in a paycheck, there have certainly been some changes in our lifestyle.  Stress levels have been higher at times as a result.  Because of my full days at school, plus the extra time I have been putting in to make a little extra, I haven't been at home as much, taking a toll on my wife and children.  On top of that, Mary's school schedule has her working all day, then several hours a night on her classes.  Because of how busy we have both been, we haven't been able to enjoy our new home as much as we would like to, to the point that Mary isn't incredibly happy here.  But the good news:  the kids have settled in nicely to their schools and have made friends, Mary is over halfway done with her program, and as a speech pathologist, she will not have a problem getting a job anywhere that she wishes.  At that point, we can start to experience the beauty of where we live (if we decide to stay, I hope so, I personally love it here!) and as I jokingly told a co-worker before school ended when he asked what we would do with two incomes, "We can buy name brand food at the grocery store again!" 

Every little bit helps, and Mary and I cannot be more grateful to you for your help!
And speaking of a change of lifestyle and the struggle to make ends meet at times, I owe it to my wife, Mary, to help her in reaching her goals while she completes her grad program.  The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA, will be having their annual convention in Orlando, FL in November.  It is a wonderful opportunity to further herself professionally and she deserves to go.  However, between the conference registration, flight, hotel, etc., it is something that will be very tough for us to pull off financially.  This is why Mary has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover some of her expenses.  If you would consider making a small donation to her to help her get to Orlando, we would be forever in your debt.  Please visit https://www.gofundme.com/asha-convention-in-orlando to make a donation!  And please share this link out so that others may be able to help as well! 

The last few days have also given me a chance to think about some things that I want to do this fall.  While I will continue to co-teach World History with the same teacher this year, I am also going to be co-teaching Economics with him and another teacher.  Economics was my favorite subject throughout college and I was really hoping to teach it when I got my first teaching job.  However, it just wasn't in the cards and I have never had the opportunity to teach economics, until now!  I will certainly need to brush up on the content to get up to speed, but I am already starting to think about some activities that will help make economics more interesting and applicable to students' real-life experiences, including a budget simulation using Google Sheets.  But something that I really want to do with both classes is to create a "menu" of the different tools that we will use throughout the year.  The menu will include the tool, a sample activity for students to complete, and examples of how we will use the tools throughout the year.  To take it even further, I want to design the menu in a hyperdoc format and post it in Google Classroom as a material that students can refer back to if needed.  Some of the tools that I intend to include, but not limited to, are Pear Deck, Quizizz, Quizlet, the GSuite tools, and Adobe Spark, just to name a few. 

As the summer progresses, more reflection and recuperation is certainly on the docket, but so are a few other things.  Ben and I will continue to record a few episodes of The BeerEDU Podcast, and we have some great guests lined up.  We would love to have some more guests, so if you are interested, please visit bit.ly/beeredupodcast and fill out our guest form!  My other podcast, Sons of Technology: The Podcast, is also going to continue to record and publish episodes, so be on the lookout for both of those.  I also plan to write posts for this blog, perhaps not as frequently as I do during the school year, but I will write nonetheless.  But I also plan to continue working on the book that I have started.  Without going into extreme detail and giving away the entire premise of my book, it is essentially a memoir of the times I have taken risks in my life as a person and a professional and the impact that it has had on me as an educator.  My goal is to inspire others to take risks in their lives and embrace the successes and failures that come with said risks.  I hope to have a completed draft by the end of the summer and hope to have a publisher accept my proposal. 

Excited to start this one!
And of course, summertime is learning time!  Podcasts, scrolling through the Twitter feed, and a couple of events are on my agenda, as is doing some reading that is so hard to fit in during the summer.  I have already completed Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess & Beth Houf, and I am nearly finished with Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond.  My next book will be Be Real by Tara Martin, and I will definitely need to pick up a copy of the next in the #Ditchbook line, Don't Ditch That Tech by Matt Miller, Nate Ridgway, and Angelia Ridgway. 

Hopefully, your summer, if it has started, has been relaxing and has given you time to reflect and you have started to think about some things that you want to do in the next school year. 

Until next time...










Thursday, May 16, 2019

2019 Goals Revisited!

In late December and early January, I decided on my goals for 2019.  I outlined some professional goals and a personal goal for the year with steps on how I wanted to achieve those goals.  As we are already in the middle of May and approaching the halfway point of 2019 (already!), I wanted to revisit those to update myself on my progress, make modifications to my goals if needed and set some new goals for the remainder of the year.  Here is a link to my original 2019 goals blog post if you would like to read it in its entirety rather than getting the CliffsNotes version of it in this post.  

Really proud of this badge, I worked so hard for it!
One of my goals for 2019 was to earn the Google Certified Trainer endorsement.  I have been providing training to various groups and individuals on Google tools and pedagogy for several years, and I have applied to the program in the past.  I was rejected once in 2016, then again in the summer of 2018.  I had ideas as to why I was rejected and I wanted to make sure that this time around, I was going to submit an application that went above and beyond the criteria required.  My goal was to complete the application in stages, that way I could pay attention to all of the details and have everything in order when I was finally ready.  

The plan was to have the application requirements ready by the end of February and the video requirement ready by the end of April, then submitting the entire application (the application window is now year-round; from what I have seen, there is a monthly deadline for review of applications).  I actually got everything in order and submitted in time for the February 28th deadline,  a full two months earlier than I had planned.  However, just submitting it was not my goal; my goal was to have the application accepted and earn the endorsement.  After submitting, the confirmation stated that a decision would be made in 4-6 weeks.  On April 7th, I received the notification that my application was accepted and that I was a newly minted Google Certified Trainer! While part of the requirement of the program is to provide training to others, I think the best part about it is the learning that I have already benefitted from as a result of the interactions with others in the #GoogleET community, and I look forward to continued learning and relationship and PLN building.  

Good feeling when this was displayed on the university's app!  
Over the course of the past year, I have been working on the credits required to earn a Master's in Special Education.  While I could have spread out the program over a maximum of two years, my philosophy was to complete it in as little time as possible to save money, as Western Governors University charges the same amount for tuition regardless of how many credits are completed in a term.  In my first term that ended in December, I had completed 23 of the 31 credits.  Technically, I had all of the requirements for two more credits done, but I would not have received my financial aid if I completed those credits before the end of the term, as it would have made me only part-time with the remaining six credits.  So I held onto my final paper for that class and waited until the first day of the new term, submitted it, and received notification later on that first day that I had completed that class.  Then it was on to complete my practicum hours and Praxis tests.  I completed all of the requirements and submitted my graduation paperwork on April 19, a month and a half before the end of the second term.  

While I thought I was done, it turns out that I had overlooked one more Praxis test that I had to take as a requirement of the university.  I had to scramble to find an available slot in which to register, pay the fee (don't get me started on fees for Praxis tests, the ACT, SAT, or any other test that is provided by some educational testing company, that's a rant for another day, in fact, possibly my next blog post), and take it.  Luckily, I was able to get into a testing center a few days later and complete the exam.  As of this writing, I am still waiting on the results, but I am confident that I did fine, I already passed three other Praxis tests for special education.  But any day now, I should be officially completed with my M.S. in Special Education and I can submit the endorsement for my teaching license.  

As for my personal goal of riding my bike more, while it has not been a complete failure, I certainly have not been keeping up on my goal of riding 100 miles or more a month.  I underestimated the impact of my schedule, the winter weather and its wrath, and my kids' desire to ride with me.  My work schedule is very hectic, often keeping me at school for 12-14 hours a day.  Most days, I want to sleep until I absolutely have to get up and when I get home, it's time for a bit of food, then sleep.  Weekends often mean that I want to relax.  The winter weather was certainly a roadblock for several months, as the cold, the wind, and the rain and snow was often a convenient explanation as to why I wasn't able to get out on the bike (or was it an excuse to stay in and play Nintendo?).  And because my kids got bikes as well, it has been hard to go out on long rides, as they are still young and using training wheels.  

However, I haven't completely ignored my bike.  I like to ride to the post office to get the mail, I've ridden the bike to the local breweries a few times, and I love getting the kids out on theirs with me to ride around the neighborhood a bit.  The 100 miles a month is more like 10 miles a month currently, but with the end of the school approaching soon, I should be able to get more miles under those tires.  And speaking of tires, I even learned how to fix a flat tire after getting a pinch flat on the rear wheel a couple of weeks ago.  I went and bought the tube and tools needed and after a quick YouTube video and 15 minutes, I had fixed it myself.  All of the years riding bikes as a kid and into college, I never had to replace a tube or tire, I only ever had to fill a tire when it got low, so this was a new experience.  I have even explored how to convert my tires to tubeless! A coworker told me about a method where you line the rim with duct tape and it creates a seal that is sufficient enough so that the tire will no longer require a tube.  If you are a biker, here's a quick video on how to do it!  

The Truckee River in Downtown Reno on May 16, 2019, screenshot from a
webcam hosted by the City of Reno.  It is predicted to look like this for
several more weeks as the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada was well above
average for the 2018-2019 winter season.
So at this point, I have met two of my three goals.  So my next step?  Set some new goals and modify my bike goal.  With better weather and more time, I am modifying my riding goal to 30 miles a month, essentially a mile a day.  This will take into account that I cannot do long rides with the kids yet and if I can't get out every day, I can do a longer ride on my own a few days of the month.  Another personal goal: take the kids fishing! My son got a fishing pole for his birthday, so he's been asking almost every day when we can go.  The rivers in our area are raging from the melting mountain snow (with tons of snow still to melt) and the lakes and ponds are high as well, but I look forward to getting the kids out to pull in some trout very soon (I lived on the water when I was kid, fishing was something I didn't get do as much as I would have liked living in Las Vegas, Northern Nevada has many more options to get out on the water more often).  Professionally, I am going to start exploring the Google Certified Innovator program further.  I don't believe that would be able to afford the travel in the next few months, but I would love to explore the application and prepare it for when I am ready to submit, as well as think of a base idea or two that could turn into a project.  I also am setting a goal of helping educators in my district to become excited about the Google Certified Educator level 1 exam.  I would love to help at least 10 educators earn that certification by the end of the year. 

Have you revisited your goals for 2019?  Where are you at in your journey in achieving your goals?  Let's hold one another accountable!

Until next time... 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Certifications & Advanced Degrees

In the past few days on both of the podcasts in which I co-host, The BeerEDU Podcast with Ben Dickson and Sons of Technology: The Podcast with Joe Marquez and a rotating set of amazing educators, we focused on the importance of certifications and advanced degrees and education.  It was not planned to have both of these episodes focus on this topic, it just happened to fall into place in this manner.  Both episodes even had three people in common: me, Katherine Goyette, and Adam Juarez.  We also had Corey Coble join the Sons of Technology episode to share his opinions and expertise.  You can check out both episodes through the links below or search (and subscribe) on your favorite podcasting app.  




The Google Certified Educator, Level 1
badge that is earned after completion of
the Level 1 exam.  
The focal point of both conversations was based on why: why should educators seek out certifications?  What does an educator get out of becoming (insert edtech tool) certified?  Why should educators endorse various tools and act as ambassadors for products and their functions?  And what the conversations really boiled down to was as educators, it's about learning, a growth mindset, and a desire to do what we feel is best for our students.  While there was certainly talk about what tools and what certifications are worthy of pursuing, it all came back to the why.  A great point that was brought up is how much one can and will learn simply by going through the certification process.  

The Google Certified Educator, Level 2
badge that is earned after completion of
the Level 2 exam.
The best example was the process of becoming a Google Certified Educator, either Level 1 or Level 2.  If you have never taken either of the exams, it isn't simply about completing a form, answering a few short questions, and "earning" your badge.  Not to knock any tools out there and not to mention any names of tools, but there are certainly some tools that offer certification or a badge simply by asking for one.  Google's certification program must more rigorous, and the best part about it, it makes one prove that they are knowledgeable of Google's tools AND can APPLY those tools to an educational setting and scenario.  I certainly recall learning a lot of different things each time I completed the Level 1 and Level 2 exams (I have taken each one twice).  If you would like to learn more about the exams, you can check out the Google for Education Teacher Center for more information. 

There also some other certification exams that while I don't believe are as rigorous, I still learned a great deal and earned the certifications.  Two prime examples of these are the Microsoft Innovative Educator and the Apple Teacher Certifications.  Both programs are free (the Google exams are $10 for Level 1, $25 for Level 2) and do not require the process of taking a long exam and demonstration of the use of tools like the Google exams.  However, the certifications weren't simply a "create your account, provide us with some information and we will send you your badge."  Both Microsoft and Apple required knowledge and application of each platforms tools.  

Not a rigorous as the Google exams, in my opinion, but
I am still very proud of earning this certification!
I earned my Apple Teacher certification a few years ago.  With all of this talk about certifications, I think I need to go back and do it again just because it has been over 2 years since I completed the tests.  The Apple certification breaks it down into two segments: iPad and Mac.  There are several topics within each test, such as skills and application of tools like Keynote, Numbers, Garage Band, iMovie, and others.  I don't own a Mac but used one for several years as it was my teacher workstation at a previous school, but I do have several iPads at home.  While I haven't used Numbers, Pages, and Keynote extensively, if much at all, they are very similar to Docs, Sheets, Slides, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, so I was able to get through those exams with a little bit of digging and toying around.  I did struggle some with some of the accessibility tools of each platform, but eventually, I was able to earn both the iPad and Mac certifications.  I don't use Apple products much outside of my personal iPad, but I certainly know more about both systems because of the Apple Teacher program.  And they have a wonderful Twitter chat, the #appleteacher chat on Tuesdays (I haven't participated in a while, I'm sure it's still great) and post great things on the Apple Education Twitter account.  And if you want to do a deeper dive in Apple tools and prove your expertise, there is also the Apple Distinguished Educator program.  You can learn more about all of these on the Apple Education page.  

I earned half of the points at CUE 2018, the other half?
I completed some tutorials while watching the 2018
World Cup one morning in June 2018. 
The Microsoft Innovative Educator came about as a perceived necessity.  When it was determined that I would be moving from Las Vegas to Northern Nevada, I knew that Washoe County School District (Reno/Sparks) was a Microsoft district, not a Google district like most other districts in Nevada.  So when I went to Spring CUE 2018, I made sure to seek out session on some Microsoft tools to become more familiar with the ins and outs of Office365.  I hit the jackpot when I went to a three-hour long CUE Rockstar session that was hosted by Tammy Dunbar.  She went over some common tools like PowerPoint and OneDrive but introduced others that I had never used like OneNote and Sway.  After the session, we were presented with a promo code for points to be used toward the Microsoft Innovative Educator certification, which added up to about half of the points needed.  See, Microsoft gives you a lot of different options in getting their certification.  You can pick and choose from different topics, complete the tutorials and exams, and earn points that will get the certification once you earn 1000 points.  There are a variety of badges that you can earn with Microsoft that demonstrate knowledge of tools, evidence of training teachers in Microsoft tools, and many more.  Like the Apple Teacher program, I learned a great deal about a lot of the Microsoft tools, and while I ended up getting a job in another Google district and don't necessarily use the Microsoft skills often, it's another perspective that I was able to learn about.  If you would like to learn more about the Microsoft Education program, check out their resources, there are a ton of them, plus the Microsoft Education Twitter feed.  

I have a few other certifications and badges to my name as well.  I am a Pear Deck Certified Coach, a distinction in which I had to be nominated for.  Nick Park, an employee of Pear Deck, and I struck up a relationship at first professionally when I worked with him to purchase a site license of Pear Deck for a school.  While we don't see each other much, we do keep in contact and chat every now and then, but he nominated me for the program where I had to complete some webinars and live chats, submit a Pear Deck presentation for review, and now that I am a certified coach, I am part of a group that can share ideas, learn of updates, and "Share the Pear" at conferences.  It's been a lot of fun being a part of the group and promoting such a great product, in my opinion.  I also sport a Flipgrid Certified Educator badge for demonstrating my use and knowledge of Flipgrid.  

My proudest achievement in the certification world!
My favorite certification, by far, is my newest one, Google Certified Trainer.  The process of becoming a trainer is lengthy and rigorous.  You must be a Google Certified Educator, Level 1 and Level 2, complete a trainer assessment exam, complete an application that demonstrates your abilities to train people in Google tools, as well as provide feedback attendees of sessions have given you, and complete a video (here is mine if you'd like to see an example) that tells the world why you should be a trainer and a screencast demonstrating a Google tool.  I applied to be a Trainer in 2016 and was rejected.  I tried again in 2018 and was rejected again.  Finally, in 2019, I applied and was accepted into the program.  Now I am part of a group of educators that can share ideas about how to use Google in the classroom, learn about updates ahead of the general public, and I am listed in a directory of Trainers where people and schools may contact me to inquire about training.  While I love the fact that I can share my expertise, the best part is the opportunity to learn from others and build my professional network further so I can learn even more!  

Further oneself professional is so much more than certification in various tools.  Educators often need to obtain an advanced degree in order to keep up on advances in our field, and if one wants to earn more, districts often require advanced degrees to move along the pay scale.  I earned my first master's degree in 2010, completing a Master's in Education from Southern Utah University.  In 2014, I earned my educational specialist in school administration from Nova Southeastern University.  And now, as of May 2019, I have completed my Master's in Special Education from Western Governors University, a degree that was more out of necessity to get a job when I moved to Northern Nevada.  However, it was a blessing in disguise because it made me realize how much I love special education.  I like to joke with people that I am now one of the most educated people in my school without a doctorate.  All jokes aside, I learned a ton about pedagogy, leadership, and technology going through each of these programs.  I am also very marketable, so if I ever need to move again, I am certified in social studies, physical education, health, special education, and school administration.  Will I pursue a doctorate?  Perhaps, but definitely down the road more.  

What are your thoughts on certifications?  What lessons and knowledge have you learned from your certifications and advanced degrees?  I would love to hear more from you on Twitter, and as a shameless plug, if you have anything that you would like to share on my podcasts, please let me know as we are always looking for great guests.  

Until next time... 






Thursday, April 18, 2019

What is Your Philosophy of Teaching & Learning?

About a year ago, my wife, Mary, was accepted into the graduate program at the University of Nevada to continue her studies of speech and language pathology.  What that meant was uprooting from the place that we had known for the previous 13 years and move north from Las Vegas to Reno.  In that year, while there is so much I miss about Las Vegas, including my friends and "family" and the city as a whole, there is also so much I love about Reno and the surrounding area.  I feel like my family and I have settled in nicely and I have no desire to leave; I have even gone as far as saying that I love my school and community so much that I want to retire from there.  Only 16 more years to go!  

Will this be me on retirement day?  Perhaps, but hopefully, I age better
than Ric Flair did!
All kidding aside, I will only be 53 when I am eligible to retire with a full 30-year pension from the State of Nevada.  While our pension system is very good, I would be taking a significant pay cut upon retirement while having to pay for health insurance, and I would not be able to access my retirement savings for another 7 years afterward.  Needless to say, I will not be retiring at 53.  Whether I continue to work in Nevada or pick up and move to another district, that remains to be seen; after all, that is 16 years down the road!

Part of making the move to Northern Nevada required me to be flexible in obtaining a job.  Positions in my subject area were thin to non-existent, so districts informed me that I could teach special education so long as I took the required classes to become certified.  I enrolled in a master's program through Western Governors University and between the program and working as a special education teacher for the last 7 months or so, I have learned how much I love working in special education and I am very happy with my career shift.  

As I am getting close to completing my degree, I am working on the final portfolio for the program.  Part of the portfolio requires a philosophy of teaching and learning.  I have written these for previous degree programs, including my bachelor's and my first master's degree.  It is something that I think about on a regular basis as well.  That being said, I wanted to share my philosophy as part of this blog post.  

From about the time of my sophomore year in high school, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.  So many of my teachers throughout my years of public school were a tremendous influence on my desire to become a teacher.  Over the course of obtaining my bachelor’s degree in education, a Master’s of Education, an Educational Specialist in school administration, and now, a Master’s of Science in Special Education, plus nearly 14 years as a teacher in a multitude of roles, I have developed a strong philosophy of what it means to be a teacher and what my role and influence on student learning is and should be.

Teaching is one of the most important aspects of my life.  Teaching gives me the opportunity to make a positive influence on students that may not have much positivity in their life because of economic conditions, lack of parental figures, or physical or emotional abuse.  Teaching gives me the opportunity to share things that I am passionate about, such as my love of history, trying new lessons and technology tools, and interacting with young people. Teaching also gives me the opportunity to impact the future of my community and my nation.  The students I work with today are going to be tomorrow’s leaders, auto mechanics, lawyers, farmers, soldiers and sailors, and so much more, and I am honored to be a part of each and every one of their journeys.

As an educator, I have many beliefs regarding teaching and student learning, including that students’ education should be focused on college and career readiness and teaching and learning should be focused on active learning strategies.  Every teacher and school in the United States should strive for 100% high school graduation rates, however, the focus should not simply be getting students to the finish line. Students should finish high school, with their diploma, prepared for further education in college, a vocational trade school, or other educational endeavors or a long-term career that does not require further education.  The major difference between completing high school and college and career readiness is that college and career readiness focuses on more than achievement in academic core subject areas, but focuses on skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking, and exposure to other skills such as computer science and trade skills such as welding and mechanics (Morningstar, Lombardi, & Test, 2018).  It is my belief that not all students are going to college and that many students are pressured to go to college instead of pursuing a career that does not require a college degree, careers that even pay much more than many jobs that require a degree. Schools need to put more of an emphasis on college and career readiness skills and expose students to careers and educational opportunities that do not require college.  In order to achieve these goals, it is my belief that active learning strategies and technology must be the focus of teaching in our schools. Active learning includes many different styles of learning, including collaborative learning, cooperative learning, and problem-based learning, all designed to build students’ college and career readiness skills and help students become actively involved in content, not simply consumers of content; active learning has also been shown to improve students’ retention and understanding of content, as well as students’ satisfaction with classes that incorporate active learning (Hyun, Ediger, & Lee, 2017).  

As a teacher, I want my students to actively work toward building their college and career readiness skills.  I want to instill a culture of problem-solving and collaboration amongst my students. I believe that one of the best ways to instill these skills in my students is through project-based learning (PBL).  Project-based learning presents students with a question, a problem in which to solve. Through research and collaboration, students create a product to demonstrate their learning and their solutions to the problem presented.  It requires students to think outside the box and to work together to solve the problem instead of relying on the teacher to give students the solution. Because of the structure of project-based learning, it will help students build those college and career readiness skills that are so important to their post-secondary success.  And rather than assessment relying on how students respond to a series of multiple-choice questions or other methods of lower depth of knowledge response questions, assessment relies on students’ critical thinking skills in which teachers assess using objective rubrics. This does not mean I do not believe in assessing students’ knowledge through lower depth of knowledge questions; if students are to be assessed in such a manner, I believe that knowledge should be presented in a repetitive manner, with multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning, such as presenting students with an assessment multiple times throughout a unit of study.  

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of an effective classroom, however, is the positive relationships that must be built between the teacher, students, and families.  A positive relationship between the teacher, students, and families consists of open and respectful communication, mutual respect for and toward one another, trust in one another, and an environment that promotes emotional and physical safety for all stakeholders.  To build these relationships, one must be open in communication and communicate in a multitude of ways, such as phone, email, websites and social media. I also have used apps such as Remind to communicate with students and their families. Communication needs to be frequent and students and families should be informed of positive events, not just negative events, in the classroom.  By sharing positive news with students and families, it will make the times in which negative news must be shared easier and support from families will be more likely to occur.

I also believe that a positive relationship with students, families, and colleagues requires one to get to know individuals on an individual basis, not simply an academic or professional basis.  By making a personal connection with students and their families and letting others get to know oneself on a personal level, it shows a human side and builds respect and trust between the teacher, students, and families.  I like to talk to students about their interests in music, sports, and other hobbies, as well as learn about their culture, their ancestry, and other aspects of their family’s roots. Students that feel safe in revealing themselves as people and see their teacher as more than simply a teacher will be more likely to invest in their education and families will be more likely to support the teacher.  

As a professional educator, I live by this philosophy on a daily basis.  I strive to instill my philosophy in every decision I make that has an effect on student learning because ultimately, everything that I do as an educator should have student learning outcomes as its focus.  I strive to build positive relationships with my students, their families, and my colleagues so meeting student success goals are better within reach. And whether I continue to teach for five more years or 30 more years, this philosophy will continue to drive my instruction and adjust as I become a better and more experienced educator.  

References
Hyun, J., Ediger, R., & Lee, D. (2017). Students’ Satisfaction on Their Learning Process in Active Learning and Traditional Classrooms. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 29(1), 108–118. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.wgu.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1135821&site=eds-live&scope=site

Morningstar, M. E., Lombardi, A., & Test, D. (2018). Including College and Career Readiness within a Multitiered Systems of Support Framework. AERA Open, 4(1). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.wgu.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1194142&site=eds-live&scope=site

While you may not need to write a philosophy formally, it is something that one should think about on a regular basis.  I also believe that one should share their philosophy to create a dialogue that can spark fundamental change in our educational system.  I encourage you to do so through whatever means in which you are comfortable.  Through conversation and establishing our personal belief systems, we can all be #BetterTogether!  

Until next time... 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Special #Edtech Tools for #SpecialEducation

All educators want to be organized and efficient.  Each person has their own unique way of accomplishing those things.  Some people have desks and classrooms that look like a tornado blew through, yet they still know where everything is and can get their tasks done.  Others have to have a spotless work area with a specific location for everything.  I fall into the latter category.  I am so organized that colleagues in the past jokingly questioned if I ever taught anything because there was so little clutter and students, knowing that I was a little obsessive-compulsive about my desk, bookshelves, etc. that they would purposely move things, even if it was simply rotating my stapler at a 45 degree angle, knowing that I would move it back as soon as I realized it.  

As a special education teacher, organization and efficiency are even more important.  While I have always had deadlines, the deadlines that I have now have legal implications.  If I don't complete an IEP and hold the meeting by the deadline, I am in violation of district, state, and federal laws.  If I don't take care to ensure my communication and storage of information is confidential and secure, I could also be in violation of laws.  Between my organized-to-a-T nature and these implications, I find it even more important to be as organized as I can be, so I have come up with a short list of Google tools that keep me organized and within the law. 

Now, these tools are not exclusive only to special education.  You can use these tools in the same or similar fashion regardless of your specialty.  However, my descriptions of my usage of these tools are definitely going to be catered to the special education teacher.  If that does not interest, you are free to stop reading now and do something else more productive with your time and energy.  It's ok, I will not judge you! 

What my student information and IEP schedule sheet
 looks like currently toward the end of the school year!
At the beginning of the year when I first received my caseload, I had to determine several things.  I had to figure out when each student's annual IEP was due if the student was due for their three-year evaluation and IEP, whether they were designated as eligible for special education services and limited English proficiency, how to contact their families, and much more.  My first thought was how tedious it was to obtain all of this information in our student information system because I had to look up each student individually, rather than seeing all of my students in one place.  That being said, I created a Google Sheet to organize everything.  In my sheet, I entered each student's name, their grade level, their IEP due date, their limited English proficiency status, and parent/guardian names, phone numbers, and email addresses.  I also created a system of color coding to designate that the student's three-year evaluation was due and when I completed the student's IEP.  As the year has gone on, each student has been highlighted to show that I have completed their plan until next year.  At the time of this writing, I only have one more IEP due before the end of the year!

Once I figured out when my meetings were due, I set out to create a folder for each of my students in Google Drive.  Each folder would contain any evidence that I needed to prepare their IEP, a series of forms for the IEP process (more on this momentarily), and any other information deemed useful for the process of writing the IEP.  I created these folders with the intention of using them for as long as I had the student on my caseload.  Best case scenario, I would have each student for the remainder of their school career and would be able to compare items as they progressed through school.  If a new case manager was to take on one of my students, it would be easy to share my information about the student with the new case manager. 

I also created a series of Google Forms to collect data during the process of building their IEP.  The first form that I created was a parent information form.  In the form, I created a series of questions for parents to answer regarding their child's abilities, struggles, and suggestions for accommodations.  The parent is one of the most integral pieces of the IEP process and sadly, many parents do not participate fully in the process of their child's education.  While I have not received information back from all parents on the form, it has been tremendously helpful in building many of my students' plans this year. 

A second form that I created was designed to be sent to teachers.  The form asks a series of questions regarding teachers perceptions of the student's abilities, struggles, behavior, work ethic, and many others.  Teachers are also asked to provide accommodations that they believe the student would benefit from having in the classroom.  Since I cannot be in a student's classes every day to fully evaluate their abilities, I rely heavily on teachers to provide me with this feedback.

The third form that I created is designed for the student.  I have had students complete it on their own, or I have filled it out while I ask them the questions from the form.  Either way, I sit down with students during the IEP process to ask them their perceptions on their abilities, where they struggle, what has helped them in the past, what they believe may help them in the future, and because I work with high school students, what their plans for after high school may be and what we will need to accomplish in order to meet their post-high school goals.  This is perhaps my favorite part of the process, where I really feel that I can connect with a student on a personal level. 

If you would like to see my forms, please click on the links below.  You will be asked to make a copy of the forms for your own use; use it, modify it, throw it in the trash when you are done, your choice!




A sample of my Google Keep, with some of my
completed checklists for IEP meetings.
When beginning the IEP process, there are several steps that must be taken into consideration, such as contacting parents to schedule a meeting, sending out meeting notices, collecting information from parents, teachers, and the student, working with related services providers like psychologists, speech-language pathologists, counselors, etc.  This is why for each student, I create a checklist note in Google Keep to track each step of the process.  I color code each note to set them apart from other students and pin each one to my page so that they are always at the top.  As I complete each step of the IEP process, I check it off of my list and entering the date in which I completed the step.  While I usually don't set reminders for my calendar, it is a nice option to have, especially if I have several IEPs all due around the same time.  The reminder function allows me to post it to my calendar and notify me when I need to have the process completed. 


This system has served me very well in my first year as a special education teacher.  While it may not work for others, and others may use a different set of tools (I've heard that OneNote is a great IEP organization tool if you are a Microsoft user), but regardless of the tools or the system, as long as the process is completed, then you are in good shape! I would love to hear others tips for the IEP process, so if you have them, share them out on the socials! 

Until next time... 


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Learning from Failure

We add the Bitmojis of our guests for each episode!
In a recent episode of Sons of Technology: The Podcast, one of two podcasts that I help to create, my colleagues, Joe Marquez, Jesus Huerta, and I decided to talk about something that many people are not comfortable or willing to discuss: failure.  In our world, failure is often frowned upon and not seen as an opportunity to reflect, learn, and prepare to be better in the future.  And while we always prepare talking points for Sons of Technology, we don't necessarily prepare statements and detailed and refined sound bites because we want the conversation to flow and sound natural.  In our conversation, we talked a little bit about some times in our careers in which we failed and what we learned from the experience.  Shameless plug: you can listen to Sons of Technology: The Podcast on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts and please tell a friend or colleague, give us a rating on your podcast app, and share your thoughts with us on Twitter by tagging @SonsofTechEDU.

The episode got me thinking a little bit more about times of failure in my 13+ years as an educator. There are so many that I could probably write an entire book just on failures.  However, I don't necessarily remember the circumstances surrounding every failure, and while we should always learn something from failure, that hasn't always been the case. 

Image courtesy of https://www.mariowiki.com/Tubular
While not an educational failure, there is a level in Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo that I struggled with mightily.  In fact, I even watched a video on YouTube that listed the 10 hardest levels in the Super Mario universe and this level made the list, number two to be exact.  The level is in the Star World's Special Zone, the second level named Tubular.  I tried the same approach to beating the level on numerous occasions, with the same result: death! I would spend nearly an hour on the level before my frustration set in and either moved on to another level or quit entirely.  I wasn't learning from my mistakes and trying to do something new.  It took me finding a YouTube video on how to beat the Tubular level before I finally was able to beat it with consistency.  I certainly won't say that the level is easy now, but now that I know how to attack it, I can beat it with a lot less Marios and stress! 

However, many of the failures in our lives and careers don't have a definitive solution or a YouTube video tutorial.  There are a lot of factors that go into failure at times, so not only am I trying to open myself up and admit failure, I am trying to start some dialogue to include others in a conversation to share ideas in solving said failures. 

Image courtesy of blog.flipgrid.com
Unless you have just landed on Earth from Tatooine, Hoth, Dagobah, or Jakku, you are most likely very well aware of Flipgrid.  I love Flipgrid!  I love how it's an alternative to more traditional forms of assessment, it's great for students that struggle to express themselves through writing, it allows for dialogue between teachers and students and between students, and it's an educators favorite four letter F word: FREE!  You know who doesn't love Flipgrid though?  My students!   Just the mere mention of Flipgrid with my students will raise a very audible groan from many of the students.  I see that celebration stories all over social media with Flipgrid, and while I am trying, I am STRUGGLING to get students to embrace it. 

In the beginning of the school year, I introduced Flipgrid to my classes with a quick tutorial and had them introduce themselves, well, the very few that completed the activity.  After asking a handful of students why they didn't complete it, many of them stated that they weren't comfortable on camera.  So to address this concern, I gave students the choice to complete a video with the camera covered or turned off so that it was an audio only recording.  I still could not get students to complete Flipgrid activities!  And I still cannot!  I have given students the option to complete from home, complete in the hallway, a variety of topics and I am at a loss at how to harness the power of this tool in my classes.  Most of my students have resorted to completing activities like writing or typing responses rather than using Flipgrid.  At this point in the school year, I am relatively content with giving them a few choices for assignments and getting something rather than nothing. 

Image courtesy of amazon.com
Another very popular lesson and activity that gets a lot of buzz on the socials is the hyperdoc.  It took me a while to fully grasp the idea behind the design and use of a hyperdoc, but after a little help from The Hyperdoc Handbook and numerous sessions and conversations, I finally felt that I was ready to build and use my first hyperdoc with my class.  I spent some time building what I thought was an amazing lesson on the Industrial Revolution, providing a background activity, some activities to build knowledge and skills surrounding the Industrial Revolution, then a reflection piece at the end for students to demonstrate what they had learned.  I even built in time over the course of a handful of class periods to work with the document, as the students had never seen a hyperdoc before.  And while many students completed the activities, the quality of work was not up to my expectations, nor was the completion rate, as my students skipped some of the activities in the document. 

Full disclosure, I felt so terrible about how it went, I have not created and used another hyperdoc since, and this was over four months ago as of the time of this writing.  I wracked my brain over and over again as to what went wrong and why it did not go as planned.  I had grand plans to incorporate hyperdocs on a regular basis and my co-teacher loved it.  But after reflection and a great conversation with Kelly Hilton, one of the creators of the hyperdoc idea and co-author of The Hyperdoc Handbook with Lisa Highfill and Sarah Landis, I realized that it was a great hyperdoc, for down the road after students have been eased in and understand the process.  I put way too many activities into the document, used way too many different strategies and tools (a modified question formulation techinique, or QFT, a Flipgrid response, and a set of vocabulary in Quizlet were all part of it) and completely overwhelmed my students.  I'm not going to lie, I'm still a little hesitant to build and use another one, but soon I am going to sit down, build one, take the risk and use it with my students because it's not true learning from failure unless you try something new! 

If you don't have this, you need to get a copy NOW!
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Vocabulary was something that I always dreaded in school.  It was always the same: teacher gives a list of vocabulary, you copy the definitions from the glossary in the back of the book, or the teacher tells you to write the definitions in your own words, turn them in, have a quiz or test on the vocabulary later on.  And in the spirit of openness to admitting failure, I was that teacher for a long time.  But now with all of the various digital tools at our disposal, we can make vocabulary much more engaging and interest.  I like to use a trio of tools for vocabulary in my class: Pear Deck's Flashcard Factory, Quizlet, and Quizizz.  Borrowing from Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern and their Eduprotocol Field Guide, I like to begin a unit with a vocabulary "quiz" that does not count for a grade to demonstrate students' prior knowledge.  As the unit progresses, the "quiz" is administered a few more times to improve students' retention of vocabulary and to show their growth.  I use Quizizz for the quiz, students are given the terms and definitions in Flashcard Factory to create digital flashcards that either rewrite the definition, use the term in a sentence, or provide examples of the term, as well as a visual depiction of the term.  Once students have created their cards, we work together to create a set of flashcards from the best ones which are then exported to Quizlet where students can practice the terms through a variety of activities that incorporate the flashcards.  We even play Quizlet Live as a class every now and then to have a fun competition while practicing the terms. 

Sounds like a success, right?  Why am I addressing this as a failure?  Much like how my students cringe when they hear Flipgrid, it's very similar when they know that these activities are coming as well.  Many students especially dislike Flashcard Factory, stating that they would rather be given a list of terms and have them define them.  Many especially dislike the drawing part of the slides, which I can understand a little bit if you are not artistic.  But what is most frustrating is how well students have done throughout the year using this system for vocabulary.  Many times, students will score, on average, about 30-40% on the first quiz, then score about 55-65%, before averaging over 80% as a class on the final quiz of the unit.  I emphasize this each time we use these activities and it's so disheartening at times when students don't seem to care about it.  While I feel like a failure, I know that it's working, so I will continue to use it and make tweaks as I go, when needed. 

As we discussed on our episode of Sons of Technology, embrace failure, share failure, learn from failure, start a conversation about failure.  We will all be #BetterTogether if we can have these conversations.  And advertise these failures on social media, it's not always rainbows and unicorns out there, we are not the perfect world that social media makes our profession out to be sometimes.

Until next time...