Monday, April 27, 2015

Google Hangouts or Skype: Which, When & Why?

The use of technology in our schools is bringing the world to our students. Thus, understanding how to best harness various technologies to get the most out of what your school has is essential.

Many schools focus on the SAMR Model when envisioning where they want the technology initiatives in their schools to take their students.  The ability to videoconference is one of these important technology tools that can kick your school's technology initiative into the higher levels of SAMR.

No matter what resource you decide to use, the important thing is to get kids connecting and collaborating with others. 

Many videoconferencing tools exist, my two favorites are Skype in the Classroom and Google Hangouts (Google Hangouts on Air).  

I use these two resources in two very distinctly different ways.  

Google Hangouts on Air:  

HERE is my presentation about using Google Hangouts at NCCE 2015.  It contains step by step picture directions! YAY!  

You can also watch me present about Google Hangouts for SimpleK12 HERE

Lee's Summit R-7 School District in Lee's Summit, MO has an all inclusive Google Hangouts Guide for Teachers.  The link I like best on this site is the one that takes you to a collaborative Google Document with amazing ideas collected from the #eduhangout group.  You can add how YOU have used Google Hangouts HERE.

Skype in the Classroom:

The best part of this post is near the end where they share stories from teachers who successfully used Skype in their classrooms for a variety of projects. To me, real learning takes place when we reflect on what we did in the classroom with our students and then share our successes and pitfalls/failures with others.

1- Working on a history project using Skype
This is a story of 7th  grade students who have used Skype as a part of their history project that resulted in their collaboration with the curator of the National Museum in Canada 
2- Using Skype to help a classmate join classroom from homeRead this post to learn how a 4th grade class used Skype to help a classmate with leukemia become a part of the classroom from her home.
3- Connecting two classes using Skype
learn how this teacher brought two classes, who had been tweeting all semester, to finally get together and meet face-to-face via Skype.
4- Using Skype in classroom language
Find out how this teacher used Skype to help her students learn a foreign language from native speakers of that language.

#iCONNECT Tech Tips Smore: Mark The Date Edition

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Coding/Robotics Showcase Featuring Faith Plunkett


This session was cancelled due to an unexpected conflict with standardized testing. Stay tuned as we will try our best to rescheduled.

Faith Plunkett is an Entertainment Technology Academy instructor and has been named a 2015 PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator

Join us and other schools as we talk about the benefits of coding & robotics in your classroom.

This event will be done via Google Hangouts on Air.  Please check with your IT Department to make sure your school will allow you to use this resource.


See a report about Faith on the local news HERE.

Talk With Author/Illustrator Ed Hose

Our visit with the amazing Ed Hose was a wonderful success! It was fun to see and hear from student at other schools as they asked Ed Hose questions about being an illustrator.  

One student asked Ed what type of schooling she had to take to be an artist. I loved it when Ed Hose said that learning math made art beautiful and magical.  

Ed also shared with us how she uses her art to make people happy. When her friend, Peggy, was going through chemotherapy, Ed Hose painted her head for different events. This made getting through the tough parts of her cancer treatment a bit more bearable. You can read more about Peggy HERE.

Ed Hose also encourages you to send her your colorings from her Totally Off The Wall coloring book to +Ed Hose on G+ or @edhose on Twitter. She just might use your page in an upcoming advertisement for the coloring book! 
Ms. Bates' 1st grade students 
Ms. McMunn & Ms. English's 3rd grade students
More by Ms. English's 3rd grade students

Below are some highlights from Instagram and Twitter about our visit with Ed Hose.

If you would like to watch the recording of our conversation with Ed Hose just click the play button below!

Original Post (April 22, 2015)

Author & Illustrator, Ed Hose, will hangout with kids across the country on May 4, 2015 at 11:00am ET.  Ask questions LIVE on the Google+ Event Page or using the Twitter hashtag, #EdHose.

Learn more about Ed Hose HERE:

This event will be broadcast via Google Hangouts on Air.  Please check with your IT Department to make sure your school will allow you to use this resource.


Earth Day at Elkmont High School

Breanna Ingle, super talented and creative art teacher at Elkmont High School, celebrated Earth Day with Elkmont High School students and teachers with a creative art project that eliminated crayon supply waste.

After a year of cool art activities many crayons were just nubs and pieces.  Taking advantage of this resource, Ms. Ingle melted these scraps down and made brand new crayons to sell on Earth Day to fund more art supplies for next school year.

The signs made to label the various crayons created were equally as cute and creative!  Elkmont High School is fortune to have such an amazing art teacher like Ms. Ingle! We all LOVE her!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The RETURN of The True Adventures of a High School Librarian

I am proud to announce that The True Adventures of a High School Librarian RETURNS for the 2015-2016 school year!

Starting in August 2015 I will begin a new adventure working at the amazing, innovative, forward thinking, technology driven James Clemens High School in Madison, AL.

While this decision breaks my heart because it will take me away from the wonderful teachers and students at Elkmont High School that I have fallen in love with over the past year, I feel blessed beyond belief that this door has been opened.  The potential for professional growth is great and I can't wait to be a part of the JCHS Family!


My new home 2015-2016


Super proud of my new school! Read about it below or click HERE.

3 Tennessee Valley schools make Washington Post's 'Top 10 Most Challenging Schools in Alabama' list

MADISON, AL (WAFF) -Three Tennessee Valley schools made the list of the Top 10 Most Challenging Schools in Alabama.
The Washington Post released the list and Bob Jones, Buckhorn, and James Clemens schools are on it. These schools also made the national list.

Madison City was the only school district in Alabama to have more than one school in the top 10 of Alabama Schools. James Clemens placed third and Bob Jones ninth in Alabama.

Several of the top 10 Alabama schools, including number one Jefferson County IB and number two Loveless Academic Magnet Program in Montgomery, are magnet schools.

Buckhorn High School was the only other North Alabama high school in the state's top 10.

Nationally, James Clemens was 651 on the list and Bob Jones was 1,116 on the list of the 2,327 high schools in the Most Challenging High Schools rankings. That list is out of 30,000 public and private high schools nationwide.

The list is based on the number of college-level tests given at a school in the previous calendar year and the number of graduates that year.

Another factor is the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career, called equity and excellence, (E&E).

For the Washington Post list, click here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Breaking Up When You're Still In Love

Change comes with an array of mixed emotions.  It is with both joy and sorrow in my heart today to announce that I have resigned my position with Limestone County Schools.  This decision has come with great thought and contemplation but I feel that I would be remise to not walk through doors that God has found fit to open for me at this time.

Below is my open letter of resignation to Ms. Zebra Green, Ms. Karen Tucker and Mr. Garris.

Thank you Ms. Tucker, Ms. Green and Mr. Garris for allotting 5 minutes out of your busy schedules to meet with you today, Monday, April 20, 2015.

First, it has been an incredible professional growth experience to work under the guidance of Ms. Karen Tucker during the 2014-2015 school year as Limestone County Schools Digital Passport Initiative was rolled out to all 3rd and 4th grade students.  

Ms. Tucker’s vision for this initiative along with the foresight and wherewithal to understand the critical need for embedded PD that lead to the hiring of a top notch team of Instructional Technology Facilitators is to be commended.  School districts across the country from the east coast to the west coast, in the north and in the south are envious of what Limestone County Schools has been able to accomplish with the Digital Passport Initiative this school year.

In addition to Ms. Tucker’s vision for the Digital Passport Initiative her trust in the team she assembled for this monumental task should also be recognized and praised.  While many administrators micromanage or have their program planned down to the smallest detail, Ms.Tucker trusted each Instructional Technology Facilitator the freedom to design an instructional program that best fit the needs of their individual schools with little oversight and no formal evaluations or feedback as to if each Instructional Technology Facilitator was meeting the anticipated goals and objectives envisioned for the Digital Passport Initiative.  

This brave “letting go” by Ms. Tucker and the Central Office lead to an amazingly supportive, collaborative group of Instructional Technology Facilitators that has ultimately brought out the best in each of us that has benefited each of the Digital Passport Initiative schools.  I cannot thank you enough for trusting me as a member of this very special team.

Mr. Garris.  From the first day I meet the 3rd and 4th grade teachers at Elkmont High School I fell head over heels in love. As I have worked with them and grown to know their students my love has only grown stronger.  You, like Ms. Tucker, have allowed me to bring my expertise, the shared know-how of the other Limestone County School Instructional Technology Facilitators and the ingeniousness of my Professional Learning Network into your school and trusted me to deliver the best instructional program to the teachers and students at Elkmont High School with little oversight and no formal evaluations or feedback.  This hands off approach has allowed our Digital Passport Initiative Team to make progress beyond what I had thought possible at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.  They have truly surpassed my greatest expectations.  

It is with mixed emotions that I come before you today to turn in my letter of resignation with Limestone County Schools.  Mixed emotions because I have truly loved every single minute working with the teachers and students at Elkmont High School and the Instructional Technology Facilitator Team and it breaks my heart to leave such a dynamic group of dedicated educators.

My experiences this year have been one of the greatest professional growth opportunities in my 23 years as an Alabama educator and for this I am filled with gratitude.  I am also thankful for this opportunity to learn and grow in Limestone County Schools as it has lead to many wonderful new professional opportunities.  I am excited about the many doors that have opened and are continuing to open in regards to my future endeavors in education and know that many of these doors are opening due to the unique experience I have had working with the Digital Passport Initiative in Limestone County Schools this year.   

Thank you again for this unique opportunity to be a part of Limestone County Schools Digital Passport Initiative. I know without a doubt that Limestone County School will continue to grow under Ms. Karen Tucker’s leadership.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

BAM! Kick It Up A Notch @Your Library!

Presented at the Limestone County Schools Librarian Professional Development Session April 2015

It was my pleasure this past week to presented at the Limestone County Schools Librarian Professional Development Session April 2015 at Elkmont High School.  Lots of changes have been happening in Limestone County this year with BYOD implementation and the move to a 1:1 environment with the Digital Passport Initiative providing MacBook Air Laptops to each student in grades 3-12 within the next 4 years.

LCS Librarians have been challenged by administration to "Kick It Up a Notch" in their libraries to see how they can get on board with these programs and support collaboration between teachers, Instructional Technology Facilitators and the Libraries. 

After spending the day with theses amazing school librarians I am confident that the growth I have seen over the past year working in Limestone County Schools will continue to grow and benefit the instructional and learning needs of students.

Keep an eye on Limestone County Schools! They are a small school with a BIG bite in the technology integration movement!  Great things are on the way!

Friday, April 17, 2015



STOP passively sitting by waiting for someone to bring professional learning to you.  Harness the power of Google to answer your teaching and learning questions.







*Special Report for Teachers: If you think your classroom is behind the times, you like to connect and learn from other educators, or you need to bring your classroom into the 21st Century – this is a must read.
Let me get right to the point… The Teacher Learning Community is a membership available for teachers just like you who know integrating the latest educational tips and techniques in the classroom will engage their students and increase academic achievement. When you join, you’ll get immediate access to a global network of educators with whom you can share and collaborate, live and recorded webinars with education leaders, a resource center for sharing classroom documents, as well as a collection of over 500 hours of classroom technology how-to videos available anytime anywhere. It’s all the help and support you’ll ever need from your very own personal learning network (PLN)!
Read more HERE!
*Content copied from SimpleK12


*Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.

What makes Edcamp an unconference? Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, Edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Instead of one person standing in front of the room talking for an hour, people are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. Sponsors don’t have their own special sessions or tables, all of the space and time are reserved for the things the people there want to talk about. People could pay hundreds of dollars to attend another conference, or they could go to Edcamp for free.

Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, Edcamp strives to bring teachers together to talk about the things that matter most to them: their interests, passions, and questions. Teachers who attend Edcamp can choose to lead sessions on those things that matter, with an expectation that the people in the room will work together to build understanding by sharing their own knowledge and questions.

Edcamps are:

  • free
  • non-commercial and conducted with a vendor-free presence
  • hosted by any organization interested in furthering the Edcamp mission
  • made up of sessions that are determined on the day of the event
  • events where anyone who attends can be a presenter
  • reliant on the “law of two feet” that encourages participants to find a session that meets their needs

Hundreds of Edcamp events have been held to date around the world. Find one near you today.

*Content copied from EdCamp Foundation Wiki Page

*A week on Twitter is like a years worth of Professional Development.

Twitter can act as powerful and economical mean to give your students best and latest information on various subjects. However, a lot of educators just feel overwhelmed on how to make best of Twitter. Here are some easy yet effective ways Twitter can help in your professional development.

Use Hashtags to Search Information

Hashtags (#) are used in Twitter and placed before certain phrases or word to help to gather relevant information available on Twitter. Hashtags actually are search queries that help users to look tweets, chats and discussions related to that specific topic. When users put a phrase with hashtag in the search box, they will see a drop down list; this list contains the most common used phrases as suggestion. It is an important list that gives an insight about the type of information or hastags trending on Twitter.

For example - If a forth grade teacher wants to get latest discussions and idea on teaching the 4th grade. Making a tweet and putting the term with the hashtag (#4thchat) enables the teacher to collect valuable inputs and resources. And surely for this you need to know the common hashtags. Read more...

Find YOUR hashtag HERE.


Finding time to read professional journals to stay current in your profession is almost impossible for a busy teacher.

Stay current with these great sites. They bring the best from professional journals, blogs, articles, etc right to you:

RebelMouse: is based on the idea that people are proud of what they share on social networks, but are starting to feel embarrassed about their websites. RebelMouse creates your social front page, building a dynamic site around what you share.

You can connect all of your social networks—including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram—and create one beautiful page of your entire online presence. RebelMouse can also be embedded on your blog or site, and it can even be used to power your domain.

FlipBoard: is part social app, and part magazine and news app. It gathers content from social networks, news publications and blogs. Then the app displays stories, articles, blog posts, videos and other pieces of content in a magazine-like format. is an online service that “organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy to read newspaper-style format.” You can create these “newspapers” to aggregate content for Twitter users, lists, or hashtags.