Friday, November 21, 2014

Friends Who Inspire Me





Friend, Matthew Winner reached his 100th episode of the Let's Get Busy podcast this week.  If you haven't been listening to Matthew's LGBPodcasts you are missing something quite unique and special.  Illustrator, Tracy Bishop, describes the Let's Get Busy Podcast perfectly:

This podcast should be mandatory listening to anyone who wants to write and illustrate picture books. Matthew Winner interviews authors and illustrators about the process of creating books. Matthew adds on his perspective as an elementary teacher librarian. THIS is what makes this podcast so unique and priceless to me. I listen to a ton of podcast where you hear artists talking to other artists or authors talking to industry people. It is such a nice change to hear what teachers and kids think about books. I feel like I'm getting a masters education on picture book making by listening to this podcast.


Friend, Jennifer LaGarde, from Zombie Librarians to Geeking Out over edtech with the EdGeekCast, Jennifer brings the education/librarian community some of the best in professional learning.  Jennifer is also a calm, collected, insightful sounding board.  She is like a wise sage on top of the mountain but with awesome red glasses instead of a beard!





Friend, Elissa Malespina, 2014 School Librarian Bammy Award Winner, #ptchat Radio/Twitter chat co moderator, and ISTE Librarian Network Professional Development Chairperson (just to name a few) is an awe inspiring friend.  How she does everything she does on top of her "real" job and being a wife and mom is beyond me.  I highly recommend you participate in a #ptchat or listen to a #ptchat Bam Radio broadcast if you are not familiar with these great learning sources yet.



Friend, Tom Murray, rocking it for educators all across the nation with his work with the Alliance for Excellent Education and Project 24.  This week Tom represented our community at the White House for #FutureReady schools.  At noon ET on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, Tom lead the #EdTechChat's #FutureReady Twitter chat with President Obama and The White House.  The conversation was not only fun, but informative and very important to the future of our schools.  It is moments like these that I am grateful to be a connected educator.



This Week @Elkmont & Beyond November 17-21, 2014



Student Voice and Choice #StuVoice


One thing the 3rd and 4th grade DPI teachers have embraced this year is empowering student voice and choice via the MacBooks they received this year.

Ms. Anita Bates gave her students the task of writing a first person narratives about a food chain of their choice. Students could use StoryBird, Google Slides, or iMovie to create their story. These stories will be used to help teach grammar and science for the next several weeks. Final stories will be published for other kids in our school and around the world to read.

Ms. Luann Adams let's her students show tech tips they have discovered with the rest of the class. Thursday, Bobbie Jo had discovered a way to make collecting images for use in projects easier by dragging and dropping images onto the desktop. Ms. Adams had Bobbie Jo come up to the front of the classroom to use the Promethean Board to demonstrate to other students her tech tip.

Many teachers are nervous about technology coming into the classroom because they want to have mastery over the technology. The reality is that none of use truly has mastery when talking about use of technology. What we do have is good teaching practices that will make integrating tech into our classrooms easier. We also have STUDENTS who discover new tech tricks everyday and can help teach other students and their teacher. This creates a classroom where everyone is invested in learning together, makes failing or not knowing "OK", and empowers students to be confident in their own abilities to discover and learn on their own rather than waiting for their teacher to tell them what they should learn.

Student voice & choice creates a win-win situation in the classroom!


Modern Totem Poles


Elkmont High School's brilliant Elementary Art Teacher, Breanna Ingle, turns student art into beautiful collaborative art pieces. This week Ms. Ingle put together Modern Totem Poles! How clever!



Tech Tuesdays Coming in 2015 to Elkmont!


After hearing of the great success Casie Barksdale from Tanner has had with Wireless Wednesdays, Elkmont will begin offering Tech Tuesday classes each Tuesday right after school from 3:00-4:00. Our first Tech Tuesday will be Tuesday, January 6, 2015.

Topics will cover a variety of technologies based on teacher interest. Topics covered at Tanner have included:

  • Using Twitter as PD
  • How to add a signature to your email
  • How to set up group contacts in email
  • Technologies for Formative Assessments
  • Using Google Forms & Flubaroo to make quizzes that grade themselves
  • Other suggestions from teachers (please email suggestions to Ms. Nikki Robertson)



eBooks Come To Elkmont High School


Students at Elkmont High School learned about our new ebook selection when they visited librarians, Ms. Joanna Schrimsher & Ms. Beverly Henley this week.

Ms. Tina McMunn's students were excited that they could read books on their MacBook Air laptops and were soon engrossed in reading ebooks.

Check out the great ebooks Elkmont High School's library now has here:



Tweeting with The White House for #FutureReady Schools  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 11:00 CT I participated in #EdTechChat's #FutureReady Twitter chat with President Obama and The White House moderated by Tom Murray.  The conversation was not only fun, but informative and very important to the future of our schools.  It is moments like these that I am grateful to be a connected educator.


EdCamp SandMtn

Saturday, November 22, 2014 I attended EdCampSandMtn organized by my friends, Michael Fowlkes & Janna Bonds.  I was thrilled to meet awesome educators and be reunited with some of my EdCamp friends: Angie Bush, Carmen Buchanan, Carol McLaughlin,  Faith Plunkett, Amanda Dykes, Kelly Etheredge & Chris Jenks.  

One of my favorite sessions I attended was the one lead by Faith Pluckett.  Faith is one of the Entertainment Technology teachers in Huntsville City Schools.  She teaches Coding, Robotics and Gaming to Pre-K through 5th grades.  Faith will be presenting at Disney in December at the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence National Conference.  During her session we got to program BeeBots, play with a Sphero, and learn how to teach our students coding even if we don't have devices!

If you have never attended an EdCamp event you are missing out on the best free PD EVER!  Find out where there will be an EdCamp near you HERE.  If there is no EdCamp near you...start your own!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Doin' It For Themselves



One of the ultimate goals for the Digital Passport Initiative (DPI) and the Instructional Technology Facilitators (ITFs) in each school are to get teachers and students comfortable with using and exploring the Internet with their MacBook Airs even when we are not in the classroom with them.

The teachers at Elkmont High School, even those not yet a part of the Digital Passport Initiative, are enthusiastic about integrating these devices into their classrooms as a natural part of the curriculum.

This week I walked into two different classrooms to the exclamation, "Look what we did!" First, Ms. Anita Bates showed me how her students were using what they had learned about researching and Google Slides to create presentations about the American Revolutionary War.  Next, Ms. Luann Adams told me about how she was getting ready to assign her students to draw examples of a food chain and then thought to use Google instead.  The class tried using a Google Document to make their food chains but found this to be a bit cumbersome.  They search and found Google Drawing (which I haven't even introduced them to yet) and created great food chain examples.  They had them already printed out and posted in the classroom when I arrived!

Judson Meadows, Middle Grades Social Studies teacher & basketball coach at Elkmont High School, has embraced BYOD in his classroom. This week he created a formative assessment quiz that grades itself using Google Forms and Flubaroo. Voila...simple, easy, success!

Tina McMunn, 3rd grade DPI teacher, discovered Soft Schools, a website filled with a dizzying array of games, quizzes, worksheet and more for grades Kindergarten through Middle Grades. Ms. McMunn also search the Internet and found great supporting videos and lesson ideas for their unit on Poetry via LearnZillion. Her kids used LearnZillion to read and analyze the poems "The Fog" by Carl Sandburg and Who Has Seen the Wind? By Christina Rossetti.

Anita Bates, 4th grade DPI teacher, started her unit on the American Revolutionary War by challenging her students to create a Google Presentation based on their own research using the Alabama Virtual Library and other research sources like Kid Rex. Without the Instructional Technology Facilitator in the classroom, the kids had no problem jumping right into the project, as they had learned these skills earlier in the school year.

Atina English, 3rd grade DPI teacher, has tackled using Google Classroom head on with her students. Ms. English is doing an incredible job mastering this new technology and her students see using their MacBook Airs and Google Classroom as a natural part of their everyday classroom experience.

Luann Adams, 4th grade DPI teachers, has incorporated the MacBooks and Google into her daily morning bell ringer to get students started for the day. Ms. Adams has also worked hard to get her students organized with Google Drive folders and using the calendar to keep track of important dates.

I am so proud of the teachers at Elkmont High School for not only being open to learning new technologies but delving into experimenting and discovering new technologies and applications on their own.

Cool Tech Source for ELL Teachers & Students



Michelle Davis is Elkmont High School's energetic ELL teacher. She is so awesome with the kids and is always looking for resources that will help her students with becoming acclimated to life in Elkmont, AL. 

On Veteran's Day Ms. Robertson, Elkmont's Instructional Technology Facilitator, discovered Unite for Literacy. Unite for Literacy provides a wide variety of free ebooks/audio books that have been translated into a wide variety of language because their mission is to eliminate illiteracy at a community, state, national and global scale. Ms. Robertson thought of Ms. Davis and her students immediately and shared this resource with them. 

Since then Ms. Davis has been using Unite for Literacy and has shared it with the rest of the ELL teachers in the Limestone County School District.  She says her students love the site & look forward to using it.

Fifth Grade Interdisciplinary Project Based Learning Unit Wraps Up







Small Town Livin' a Project Based Learning unit that has been in progress since the beginning of the school year came to a wonderful conclusion this week as students presented their work to parents, teachers, central office personnel, the mayor, city council members and community members.

The idea for a Project Based Learning unit was devised last school year and was solidified by Elkmont High School's amazing 5th grade teachers, Ms. Bailey, Ms. Holt & Ms. Hardiman, at a three day professional development training about Project Based Learning in Talladega, AL. 

The PBL Summary read as follows: The students will research and propose an idea for an empty lot in Elkmont, AL downtown area. Students will work together to decide what might be the best addition to our new businesses and downtown atmosphere.

Students began the year with a field trip to downtown Elkmont to look at the businesses, building, geographic features, forms of advertising, etc. in preparation for their project. A tremendous amount of math went into this project as students had to account for the physical size of their businesses, which required them to have a working knowledge of area and perimiter.

Teamwork, collaboration, and compromise was the response from each group when ask what they learned the most about from having worked on this project.

The project included a wide variety of school staff including the Instructional Technology Facilitator, Librarians, Art Teacher and more.

Elkmont High School is proud of the effort our 5th grade unit has put into this project. The results have been phenomenal and a wonderful learning and growth opportunity for our students.

Hour of Code is Coming to Elkmont, AL: Join Us Virtually for the Fun!



Computers are everywhere, but fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago. Girls and minorities are severely underrepresented. Good news is, we’re on our way to change this.

In one week last year, 15 million students tried computer science! Computer science was on homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Disney. President Obama, Shakira and Ashton Kutcher all kicked off the Hour of Code with videos. Over 100 partners came together to support this movement.

Now the Hour of Code movement is aiming for 100 million students.

That’s why every one of the 3rd and 4th grade DPI (Digital Passport Initiative) students at Elkmont High School are joining in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code, during Dec. 8-12. BYOD students in grades 5-12 are encouraged to participate as well.

Elkmont invites schools from all over the world to join us via Google Hangouts or Skype.  Just click HERE or complete the embedded Google Form below so that we can connect our schools for Hour of Code! 

This Week @ Elkmont & Beyond! November 10-14, 2014



Student Voice & Choice


Ms. Anita Bates 4th grade students have been studying food chains in Science and first person narratives in Language Arts. Friday, Ms. Bates let her students choose what technology source they would use to write a first person narrative story about the food chain. Students could choose from StoryBird, Google Presentations, or iMovie to create their stories. These are all technologies they have learned since getting their MacBooks in September as part of Limestone County School's Digital Passport Initiative.

Student dove into writing their stories and for about 30 minutes you could have heard a pin drop and they were so focused on their task. After the first 30 minutes, Ms. Bates and Ms. Robertson had students peer review the story of the friend sitting to the right of them. Students took about ten minutes to review their neighbors story and write constructive comments. Next, students spoke with each other about the comments that were written. Lastly, students went back to their own stories and began implementing the comments suggested.


This story writing activity will continue throughout the next several weeks as students learn the revision process in writing. Upon its conclusion, student's stories will be published on Limestone County School District's DPI website and will be available for other students around the world to read.





Doin' It For Themselves


One of the ultimate goals for the Digital Passport Initiative (DPI) and the Instructional Technology Facilitators (ITFs) in each school are to get teachers and students comfortable with using and exploring the Internet with their MacBook Airs even when we are not in the classroom with them.

The teachers at Elkmont High School, even those not yet a part of the Digital Passport Initiative, are enthusiastic about integrating these devices into their classrooms as a natural part of the curriculum.

Judson Meadows, Middle Grades Social Studies teacher & basketball coach at Elkmont High School, has embraced BYOD in his classroom. This week he created a formative assessment quiz that grades itself using Google Forms and Flubaroo. Voila...simple, easy, success!

Tina McMunn, 3rd grade DPI teacher, discovered Soft Schools, a website filled with a dizzying array of games, quizzes, worksheet and more for grades Kindergarten through Middle Grades. Ms. McMunn also search the Internet and found great supporting videos and lesson ideas for their unit on Poetry via LearnZillion. Her kids used LearnZillion to read and analyze the poems "The Fog" by Carl Sandburg and Who Has Seen the Wind? By Christina Rossetti.

Anita Bates, 4th grade DPI teacher, started her unit on the American Revolutionary War by challenging her students to create a Google Presentation based on their own research using the Alabama Virtual Library and other research sources like Kid Rex. Without the Instructional Technology Facilitator in the classroom, the kids had no problem jumping right into the project, as they had learned these skills earlier in the school year.

Atina English, 3rd grade DPI teacher, has tackled using Google Classroom head on with her students. Ms. English is doing an incredible job mastering this new technology and her students see using their MacBook Airs and Google Classroom as a natural part of their everyday classroom experience.

Luann Adams, 4th grade DPI teachers, has incorporated the MacBooks and Google into her daily morning bell ringer to get students started for the day. Ms. Adams has also worked hard to get her students organized with Google Drive folders and using the calendar to keep track of important dates.


Peer Teaching


Each Thursday the Instructional Technology Facilitator, Ms. Nikki D Robertson, meets with our 3rd grade DPI teachers to answer any burning questions and to plan out a strategy for the following week with using the MacBook Airs. This week our session turned into a brilliant, impromptu sharing session. Ms. Atina English showed the other 3rd grade DPI teachers how she was creating Google Drive folders and organizing materials so that she would have the files easily accessible and ready to go for her classes next year. Ms. Tina McMunn showed the other 3rd grade DPI teachers how to sign their students up to use the website, LearnZillion, and how lessons could be accessed with a simple quick code. By the end of the meeting all of the 3rd grade teachers had folders in place and students entered into the LearnZillion website and ready to start working on their Poetry unit.


Cool Tech Source For ELL Teachers & Students


Michelle Davis is Elkmont High School's energetic ELL teacher. She is so awesome with the kids and is always looking for resources that will help her students with becoming acclimated to life in Elkmont, AL. On Veteran's Day Ms. Robertson, Elkmont's Instructional Technology Facilitator, discovered Unite for Literacy. Unite for Literacy provides a wide variety of free ebooks/audio books that have been translated into a wide variety of language because their mission is to eliminate illiteracy at a community, state, national and global scale. Ms. Robertson thought of Ms. Davis and her students immediately and shared this resource with her. Since then Ms. Davis has been using Unite for Literacy and has shared it with the rest of the ELL teachers in the Limestone County School District.  She says her students love the site & look forward to using it.


Food Chains Using Google Draw


Each year Ms. Adams 4th grade students draw pictures of a food chain during their Food Chain Unit. This year, however, Ms. Adams thought it would be cool to use Google Drawing to create the food chain. The kids jumped right onto Google Drawing and created great food chain illustrations. Ms. Adams printed these out and hung them up for everyone to see.


Fifth Grade Interdisciplinary Project Based Learning Unit Wraps Up


Small Town Livin' a Project Based Learning unit that has been in progress since the beginning of the school year came to a wonderful conclusion this week as students presented their work to parents, teachers, central office personnel and community members.

The idea for a Project Based Learning unit was devised last school year and was solidified by Elkmont High School's amazing 5th grade teachers, Ms. Bailey, Ms. Holt & Ms. Hardiman, at a three day professional development training about Project Based Learning in Talladega, AL. 

The PBL Summary read as follows: The students will research and propose an idea for an empty lot in Elkmont, AL downtown area. Students will work together to decide what might be the best addition to our new businesses and downtown atmosphere.

Students began the year with a field trip to downtown Elkmont to look at the businesses, building, geographic features, forms of advertising, etc. in preparation for their project. A tremendous amount of math went into this project as students had to account for the physical size of their businesses, which required them to have a working knowledge of area and perimiter.

Teamwork, collaboration, and compromise was the response from each group when ask what they learned the most about from having worked on this project.

The project included a wide variety of school staff including the Instructional Technology Facilitator, Librarians, Art Teacher and more.

Elkmont High School is proud of the effort our 5th grade unit has put into this project. The results have been phenomenal and a wonderful learning and growth opportunity for our students.


This group designed and made their own T-shirts to go with their proposed business!



Hour of Code is Coming to Elkmont


Computers are everywhere, but fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago. Girls and minorities are severely underrepresented. Good news is, we’re on our way to change this.

In one week last year, 15 million students tried computer science! Computer science was on homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Disney. President Obama, Shakira and Ashton Kutcher all kicked off the Hour of Code with videos. Over 100 partners came together to support this movement.

Now the Hour of Code movement is aiming for 100 million students.

That’s why every one of the 3rd and 4th grade DPI (Digital Passport Initiative) students at Elkmont High School are joining in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code, during Dec. 8-12. BYOD students in grades 5-12 are encouraged to participate as well.



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