Monday, March 24, 2014


A double selfie to start the day!

What exactly is an EdCamp?

On Saturday, March 22nd, I experienced powerful, positive, passionate, and collaborative learning amongst educators at....EdCampOMAHA!  It is a FREE event focused on professional, meaningful, and relevant development amongst educators!  

The morning started with a mini info session as to how the day would flow and then the boards were rolled in.  The boards had different time slots available for ANYBODY to create sessions about ANYTHING!  As I watched people walk to the boards, I couldn't help but think how amazing it was to not have a set agenda/sessions for the day.  This agenda was being created before my eyes by people who had a passion for something they felt was important to share to all!  Michelle Boyce (EdCamp Newbie) even put up a session about her Agile Classroom!  Way to go Michelle!  
Michelle Boyce being a rockstar
hosting/talking about the agile classroom
she has created at her very first EdCampOMAHA!  
The sessions were very casual (not your typical sit and listen sessions) and open for discussion.  In all of the sessions I attended, people were sharing, collaborating, questioning, creating, learning, and more importantly...they were passionate.  Love that the EdCamp sessions allowed people to share their passions with each other!  In the Agile Classroom session, ran by Michelle Boyce, there were multiple topics brought to the table within just that one session!  It started with the agile classroom and from there we discussed, world/cross curriculuar connections being made with blogging and kidblog, building community, classroom management and so much more!  The casual format allows people the opportunity to share and pose questions about what is being discussed. 

The great thing about the relaxed environment at EdCamp is that you can feel free to move in and out of sessions as you need to.  Nobody takes offense because there are SO many great sessions taking place at once and sometimes you feel the need to split the time to enhance your learning experience!  Sharae Geldes and I went to the same sessions and attended different sessions as well.  This was great because we can both come together and share what we learned with each other!  
Speed Dating EDU/TECH
style with Brent Catlett!

Sessions ranged from technology, classroom design, photography, global connections, tech newbies, app smashing, and SO MUCH MORE!  The sessions weren't solely focused around technology, there were a variety of amazing educational topics as well!   Here is a link that has the sessions from EdCampOMAHA .  I also suggest following #edcampomaha.  Take the time to scroll through and read some inspiring tweets from those who attended.  People also tweeted information/resources!

Inspiring educators to
follow on Twitter!
I met a ton of fantastic educators and learned more than I ever thought I could in one day and five sessions.   I am excited to take these ideas back to my classroom and provide my students with more wonderful opportunities.  From app smashing, to global connections, then onto creating a more agile classroom (and so much more), my students are in for a great and surprising rest of the year!  Of course meeting and making connections with several inspiring and passionate educators was one of the best parts of EdCampOMAHA (thanks Brent Catlett (@catlett1) for posting the Speed Dating EDU/TECH style session).  The connections made will stay with me as continue this amazing journey as an educator.  

A Few Inspiring Tweets from EdCampOMAHA:

The world is too negative! We'll teach our Ss that the glass is half 
full and 2enjoy every last sip!

 The conversations are the best part of

RT : Great quote of the day - You aren’t giving up a Saturday- I’m gaining! -

 The power of watching a passionate teacher in action is so inspiring!

Ditto! RT : i seriously love ’s passion for being a “camera-toting teacher”

"Fair is you getting what you need to be successful."-- Michelle Boyce

After my experience at EdCampOMAHA, I am still left wondering....

         Why can't all professional development be like EdCamps?  We are always telling and teaching our students to collaborate, share, and question because that is how we all learn and develop our ideas as well as create new ones.   We learn from others by sharing what we are passionate about, listening, questioning, challenging others to open their minds and think in a different way, so why aren't professional development days giving educators the platform/opportunity to engage in these conversations?  Teachers sharing their passions, supporting, learning, and celebrating each other and the amazing things each of us have accomplished within our own classrooms and with our students would contribute to building a supportive community amongst our staff!  We always say there is never enough time to have a meaningful and productive time to collaborate, so why not give it a try! What is the worst that can happen...we learn something new and are inspired by one another?!

EdCampOMAHA has inspired me to bring this idea to my principal for future professional development days.  If we are able to implement an EdCamp professional development day, there could be an amazing opportunity for growth amongst teachers within our building.  An EdCamp style professional development day would be FREE, inspiring, give educators the opportunity to share what they are passionate about with others, and allow for discussion, questioning, collaboration, and so much more!  I am inspired and ready....who is with me?!?! 

Added Bonus...

I almost forgot about an added bonus to our UNBELIEVABLE day!  Within our iPad Academy we have coaches. Brent Catlett is my coach as well as all of the people listed on his shirt below.  A couple of came up with the idea to create a t-shirt for Brent and surprise him at EdCampOMAHA!  The reaction was priceless (kicking myself for not recording it)!  We are all very proud to have Brent as a coach.  He is an amazing and inspiring person that challenges and pushes me to be a better teacher each and every day!  Brent, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the....


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Celebration of Learning!

Celebration of Learning Room
In the past I have conducted what I thought was a student-led conference, but after this year I realized what it truly looks like when students lead a conference!  Having a set of iPads has given my students more choice and the power to create and demonstrate what they know and understand in multiple ways.  

Teacher-Parent Room
Sharae Geldes and I both have a set of classroom iPads and collaborated when planning our conferences.  The week before conferences we sent home a letter explaining the format of our 3rd quarter conferences.  We also sent home the unofficial report card.  This gave parents time to look it over and have questions prepared to ask the teacher.  We also gave parents the option to have a traditional conference if they were not comfortable with a student-led conference.  Parents have always signed up for a 15 minute time slot, so that was their guaranteed time with the teacher.  Outside of the 15 minutes they could travel to the Celebration of Learning Room and stay as long as they wanted.  

Students showed their Keynote journals
and the Stick Around Rocks and Mineral
sort puzzle they create

We put together a checklist of various learning stations (by curriculuar area) that students could show their parents.  Students were demonstrating their learning, watching student created "how to" videos, and challenging their parents' knowledge using various apps!

We had 5 students make a "how to"
math video of five different concepts.
Then as the parents sat down with their child
they scanned the QR code and watched
the video and solved a problem together.
To ensure parents had some privacy and for those who wanted a more traditional conference, we had one room set aside for the stations and the celebration of learning and one for parents to discuss their students' learning with the teacher.  Both rooms had quiet and peaceful music playing so that there wasn't an awkward silence and it then allowed for some privacy.  

Refreshments (The best part of the
night according to our 4th graders!)

After conferences we sent out a survey to our parents.  I think that asking for feedback is an important process in being able to improve and to see the Celebration of Learning (student conferences) in the eyes of the parents.  We are currently receiving responses and will take all of the feedback into consideration when planning conferences next year. 
Students could pick an app and
showcase other work they have
created in other subjects as well!

Here are some of the items we created for our Celebration of Learning!  

Celebrate Learning Checklist

Parent Letter

A huge thank you to Bellevue Public Schools, the iPad Academy, and Brent Catlett for giving my students, as well as myself, this amazing opportunity!  They were all smiles and proud to show their creative and hard work to their parents! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Stick Around" and hangout with Tony Vincent!

Tony Vincent
Thanks to the one and only Brent Catlett (@catlett1), our class was given the amazing opportunity to hangout with Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent), creator of the app, Stick Around (@StickAroundApp)!  There were several classrooms hanging out across the district as well.  Our 4th graders were able to ask Tony questions about his app.  Tony even added student suggestions to his list!  He also informed us of some very interesting updates coming soon.  One great feature added to the Stick Around app was the ability to delete stickers as well as duplicate stickers and shapes.  He gave a quick mini lesson as to how the kids can duplicate stickers.  Our students were excited to learn about how they can now duplicate the shapes and stickers they have created for their puzzle.
Cole asking Tony Vincent, "How did you create StickAround?"

Stick Around is an amazing app that is beneficial for students as well as teachers.  It is an app that can be used at any grade level and in all curriculuar areas!  I have created puzzles in Math, Social Studies, and Spelling so far.  In the Midwest puzzle below, I added links to each sticker.  First the kids can solve the puzzle as a way to practice and review the states and capitals.  When they click Check (upper right hand corner), the puzzle automatically corrects itself.  The kids get instant feedback as to whether or not they solved it correctly! After they solve the puzzle, they can tap on the links I have added to each sticker to learn more about each state.   There are so many possibilities within this one puzzle I created for my students. 
Social Studies Stick Around Puzzle I created for the Midwest Region. 
Not only can teachers create puzzles for students, but students can create puzzles for other students!  My students have created puzzles for Rocks and Minerals in Sharae Geldes's class.  They have also created puzzles in Math.  Recently, my students created a puzzle that incorporated adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals.  They were able to pick the problems, solve, check their work, and create a puzzle.  They exported it to their Drive and into their Stick Around folder (this folder is a part of the gClass folders I created so we can share and create as a class).  The next day, students went into their Stick Around folder and picked various puzzles that their classmates created and then solved each puzzle.  The Stick Around app requires students to take what they have learned and apply it! 

Just as my students are able to access classmates' puzzles, as a teacher I am able to do the same with other educators.  Brent Catlett set up a shared folder for teachers that have the Stick Around app.  We are able to access various Stick Around puzzles and share those with our students!  It is such a great way to collaborate, share, and be inspired by what others have created!  Stick Around has a lot of potential within the classroom.  Teachers and students can create puzzles with words, images, recordings, drawings, and links!  Students are able to pick a way that best helps them demonstrate what they have learned.  Visit my students' blogs to see puzzles they have created and to read more about our inspiring, fun, and fantastic hangout with Tony Vincent!   

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Read Across America Hangout

Brent Catlett came to me with an idea that was posted in a G+ Community for Read Across America Week.  West De Pere, a School District in Wisconsin, wanted to participate in Live Hangouts with classrooms across the United States (Read Across America )!  A couple of days before our actual hangout, we did a hangout with our partner class from Wisconsin.  We were able to share facts about Nebraska, our classroom, and practice reading.  My students were able to find and share their knowledge about our state and learn about another state from the Midwest Region (we are currently studying this region in Social Studies).  

My class represented the state of Nebraska!  We decided to read the book, When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore.  It is currently nominated for a Golden Sower Award.

It was an amazing opportunity for my students!  I love how this hangout was able to be reading to life!

Check out our Live Hangout!
Read Across America Hangout