Adobe Spark

I LOVE Adobe Spark!  This is definitely worth your time.  It is super simple and easy to use on both the IPad and on the web.  There are 3 different parts to Adobe Spark.


Here is an example of an Adobe Spark Page

Here is an example of an Adobe Spark Video that a student made




Scaffolding in just the right way…

Let’s get real…teaching English Language Learners can be a challenge.  I have been teaching students who are learning English for 11 years and every year it is a challenge, but I love it!

Today in a discussion with a colleague we discussed the difference between scaffolding and simply dumbing down the curriculum.  It is so important that we learn that scaffolding isn’t just giving less work, writing less, doing less problems, providing sentence frames…Scaffolding is giving the students the tools/support needed to access the content.

I think that the seesaw has always been the image that I have used to help me understand how best to scaffold to reach my students.


I start by teaching my students the skill, the process using content that is familiar and little easier for them to access.  Then after students have mastered the skill, then I begin to raise the rigor of the content.  I may use sentence frames to support students in the beginning but what I hope is that those frames support them in learning the skill that they can then apply to more rigorous content.

Let’s ReCap

Today is a technology post.  I am trying out a new piece of technology:

I am excited to see what this looks like and if it is effective.  I am careful not to jump to conclusions.  I want to make sure that the tools I use do the following:

Tech that....png

I know that ReCap:

  • engages students because it is about the students and they like that, picture Snapchat meets education…maybe
  • engages students because it peeks their interest
  • connects students because it allows students to use their voice and communicate…this is super important for our ELLs
  • assesses student information quickly because it captures it and allows me to give immediate feedback

So what is Recap…essentially it is a tool that allows teachers to pose a question to students and gives them an opportunity to respond via video.  Teachers can add multiple questions, the questions can be typed or a video question.  Teachers can give feedback and/or share a link to an individual response to share to others.

Candace does a pretty good job summing up all of the features of Recap on her blog.

I am using it for the first time with my fellows that I coach.  I will let you know what I think in the future.  I would definitely not want to use this for something that I want them to carry with them in the future (that I would have them place on their blog) but I could see this as quick, verbal formative assessments.

I LOVE Learning

Today was a great day back in TUSD.  I love learning from the greatness around me.  I was given the opportunity to present two different sessions today.  I felt great success in one session and not as much success in another, but that is okay.  I feel like I can reflect, grow and learn.  I love learning from my mistakes, I love analyzing what I could have done differently to better meet the needs of the teachers, I love figuring out better ways to share information…I LOVE LEARNING.

I also love technology.  One reason why I love technology is because of days like today.  While I was presenting, there were many other presentations going on and I was not able to attend, but with technology I can go back to Haiku (our learning management system) that has all of the presentations and I can learn independently.

I am not stuck living in the dark and missing out on what others have to share.  That today is why I love technology.  

I also enjoy having challenging conversations.  Understand I do NOT like to debate, to argue or to engage in conflict.


to talk about the impossible

to dream about what could be

to challenge the status quo

to think outside the box.  

Why not try something new?  Why not be courageous and try something that may fail, probably will fail?  Why not? What do I have to lose?  Oh…but what do I have to gain!!!!

So here are my ideas (I would say crazy but they aren’t really crazy, they are just different for ME):

  1. I really, really want to create a culture of blogging at my school.  I want to create a Staff Blog where each a week a different staff member will blog about ANYTHING!  I want students to have a blog where they can write freely (within limits of course) about their passions, about their learnings, about their failures.  In PE, I want them to create a blog about how to do a skill…  I want math students to take screen shots of a difficult problem they attempted and show it on their blog (with our without solving it).  I think this could create a culture of writers, a passion for writing, and a ton of mentor texts.  😉
  2. I walk through classrooms all of the time and see so many amazing practices.  I want to capture them and share them out with my staff.  When I observe something GREAT, I want to do a short screen cast or better yet have the teacher do a short screen cast and share it with the staff.  A JOT, if you will.  Just One Thing.  I want to capture this and send it out weekly, or heck why not put it on our STAFF BLOG!
  3. I want to create a really AMAZING task in math to launch a unit.  A task in which students have to think, problem solve, preserver, take a risk, do some math.  I want this task to be so well thought out that it can connect throughout the unit.  “Remember when we did….that is this math concept”.  I want it to be challenging, but not impossible.  I want it to be multiple layers, but not too time consuming.  I want it to be so AWESOME that our teachers feel like they should do that more often…monthly….weekly…daily.

I don’t know exactly what this year holds for me, but I want to fail.  I want to go big, try a lot, challenge the norm, encourage creativity and be bold in my learning.  Let’s go 2016/2017!!!

What’s your purpose?

Such a great question!  Why…

  • Am I a parent?
  • Do I care how my kids act?
  • Do I teach?
  • Am I a coach?
  • Does Rya (my daughter) go to school?
  • Do schools exist?
  • Do we value education?

I have been thinking through the why, the purpose, the reason behind all I do especially in education.  I am reading a book by Sir Ken Robinson and I love how he defines the purpose in education.

“As I see it, the aims of education are to enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them so that they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens.”

I love how the purpose is so much more than standards and tests, it is about the child and how this child can contribute and find success in this society.  And when I say success, I don’t necessarily mean to go to college and get a degree.  I mean what can bring them joy and contribute to making the world a better place, finding their place in this world.

I truly believe that this idea totally supports our three goals for the upcoming school year:

  • Build Relationships
  • Take Risks
  • Engage in Rigorous Curriculum


Mission, Vision, Goals


Today I met with administration and discussed the mission and vision for our school.  I am always so challenged by these conversations because it reminds me that we are here for so much more then to get kids to pass a test.  There is so much more to learning and growing and finding your place in this world.

I was challenged to think through what really is the hope for our students.  Where do we really want them to go and I think more about this now that I have kids.  What do I really, really WANT for my own child.  Here are some of my thoughts (not in any particular order — except the first one).  I want my children…

  1. To fall in love with Jesus.
  • To love people as they are
  • To be bold in kindness
  • To be confident to be different and take risks
  • To be creative
  • To love what they do
  • To grow from mistakes
  • To not worry

I know that we are teachers, but I feel like there is so much more to being teachers.  Reflecting on my years as teaching, I was the best when I:

* Built relationships with the children and the parents and

* Challenged my students 

* Created a classroom environment where they could take risks and not be afraid of failure but be full of hope of what could be…how it could be better…what we could learn…

* Gave my students choices and opportunities to be different and create

I love my job as a coach and now I hope to inspire my teachers to be confident and take risks, to be creative, and to grow from mistakes.

You know what, Mrs. Dinger, our school counselor for 13 years who just died of cancer, did exactly this.  She changed children’s lives because she loved the whole person.  She is an inspiration and a reminder to all of us to stop and focus on what matters.




Thoughts on blogging from George Couros

On Friday I was able to attend and present at the Arcadia Innovation Summit!  Being a Digital Learning Coach has been a great challenge for me and at Arcadia I was able to stretch myself a little bit more by presenting.  I was able to present two different sessions and felt very challenged and great success.

I was then able to attend two sessions and one of them was about Blogging and from that I was challenged a lot about Blogging for me as a professional and to use as with students.  George Couros shared a wide range of ideas and thoughts about this.  He discussed that there were two different types of blogs/portfolios.

Showcase Portfolio vs. Learning Portfolio

Showcase Portfolio:  He uses his blog as his showcase/resume.  Here is a link that shows what his looks like.  There is such beauty in being able to show who you are as a professional and your growth over time is such a simple but deep way.

Learning Portfolio:  This is to show a person’s growth over time.  Here is an example: 2 to 28.  I think this is what I want for my students, a place where they can show their growth over time with evidence, with their creation, with their words and their thoughts.  There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to do this in education because of their age, but I think I will begin exploring what this might look like.

Of course, I went big and decided to try out Word Press and am pretty impressed with how simple it is.  I even started a Blog for all three of my children that I hope to hand over to them one day as they begin to take over telling their story.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, some tech too!

As I begin the 2014/2015 school year, I am reflecting on the last 10 years that I have been teaching. Every single day I have taught the last 10 years, I have used something old that has worked successfully, something new, something I “borrowed” from someone else, and some sort of technology.

This year I am excited to see what old tried and true practices, new strategies, borrowed ideas, and innovative technology I can implement into my 21st Century Classroom. I am determined to daily challenge my students to collaborate, communicate, critically think, and creatively produce.