Friday, March 28, 2014


Have you ever seen the prize patrol?  The one for Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstatkes?  (The one I don't think anyone ever wins?!)

It wasn't quite as loud, and it wasn't televised, but the Bloomfield Hills Foundation Prize Patrol came to my class today!  Now, I'm not one that is easily taken by surprise (or, maybe I am.......) but this was a complete shock!

I requested four Chromebooks and four MaKeyMaKeys for my class, as we've really been into coding and programming and such, and well, if you know MaKeyMaKey, you'd want one too!

Short and sweet the visit was, but it left a lasting imprint on my Thinkers and I.  The fourth graders could not stop talking about it all day, and that only fueled my excitement.  Order is in, and we are ready to see what we can MaKeyMakey!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


It's a well-known fact in the educational community that March is reading month.  As an elementary teacher, we do all sorts of things to make reading even more fun this month, using things like contests and give-aways to build enthusiasm for something that is expected every day of the year.  The whole year.  Not just the school year.

My classroom held four "events" for the month.  Week one had us decorating our door, with every Thinker creating a book cover for their favorite book.  Week two brought on a bookmark decorating contest.  My favorite was week three, where the kids got a ticket for a free book raffle every day they avoided the screen at home.  We called it "screen-time shut-down" and it was quite a success!  Week four will end with a morning of pajamas, stuffed animals, and blankets as we read away the morning before spring break begins.

It got me thinking, though, how at their age, kids don't understand how important reading is.  They don't realize how much their education can grow simply by remembering to do their "20 minutes" of reading each night.  In particular, my student's don't realize how lucky they are to grow up within a community that values reading, and is surrounded by books.

It saddens me to know that so many kids grow up without books.  One of the info graphics I found said that in poverty, there is often 1 book per 300 kids, whereas in a community like mine, there is often 13 books per every child.  Shocked me!

Importance of Nightly Reading Infographic.

Every year for curriculum night, I send home a handout that outlines the information above.  Considering I'm totally loving info graphics right now (and can't wait to start making them with my students thanks to a session at MACUL!) I found this graphic representation to be quite striking.  I will be sharing it with my class, too, as the graphic appeal will be a bit clearer to them, and hopefully, they'll start remembering their reading on their own……. hey, one can dream, right?!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

MACUL: Big Ideas

This was the theme of this year's conference.  Ignite Learning.  And lots and lots of learning was definitely ignited!

I spent the last two days soaking in all the Macul goodness, and trying to come up with the BIG IDEAS gleaned from the conference.  It's not been an easy task!  As I tweeted toward the end of the conference, I definitely need a brain-cpu upgrade, so many great tidbits from Macul that I can't process them all!  I was so sad to leave at the end of my two wonderful days, and I'm already looking forward to next year's conference in Detroit!

Anyway, the BIG IDEAS of the two days?  Here you go:

Making info graphics!
  • Adam Bellow should be president, or at least secretary of education. His vision for education, which was shared by probably every person at Macul, is one that needs to infect the nation.
  • We need to give kids a little more freedom, and a little less directions.  School should not be sucking the love out of learning.  Teach kids to embrace the "how can I make it better?" motto instead of the "am I done yet?" mantra.
  • Allow kids to focus on what fascinates them.  We need to empower them to explore what they're passionate about, which, chances are they have no idea because they're never asked what matters to them.  Don't focus on the right answer, focus on getting GREAT answers.
  • As teachers, it's time to break the chains that hold us back.  Instead of worrying about "what's the worst that could happen?" we can shift perspectives, and think about "what's the best that could happen?"
  • Oregon Trail or Organ Trail??
  • Finally, and most importantly, it's all about the relationship.  No amount of technology will ever replace relationship.  Too many kids have a story to tell and don't feel they can.  Build that relationship.  Empower them to be heard.

More to come……..

Saturday, March 15, 2014

MACUL 2014 - Thank You!!

Funny.  I started this blog while AT Macul last year.  Think I got two posts written before life took over again.  This year?  This year will be different!  It already has been! (as evidenced by the number of posts previous to this!)

I am still a little hung over from my Macul experience.  And no, I don't drink.  At all.  But boy…… the energy, the enthusiasm, the collaboration….. enough to ignite anyone's fire for learning!  That was the theme, too, IGNITE LEARNING.  Yep.  Definitely fit that theme.  Might even be burning strong enough to be the theme for next year's Macul, too.

Anyway, this is (hopefully) the first of a few posts that will be devoted to my Macul experience.  Last year was my first year going, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, experiencing the same kind of high and hangover effect that I am experiencing now.  The difference is, this year, not only have I gotten super handy at twitter…… but I also presented.  Talk about WOW!  I can't believe I actually got to present at Macul!  It was such a rush!

This post is actually a thank you post.

Thank you to those who came to my sessions!  I hope you gained something new that you are able to put in to practice as soon as you're back in the classroom!  PLEASE feel free to tweet me or email me if you have any questions about anything shared.  There was a lot of information packed into a short amount of time!  The presentation is available via the Teaching with Technology link on THIS page.

Thank you to Macul, for allowing me to present at the conference.  It was humbling to be presenting among so many outstanding educators, and I'm honored to have been able to share with my colleagues.

Thank you to Meghan for staying with Sparky while I was gone.  I loved having him at home so I could spy on him via webcam!

Lastly, Thank you to my district, Bloomfield Hills Schools, for allowing me to go spend two days in Grand Rapids learning and sharing with some of the best and brightest!

Goal for my third year at Macul?  Presenting again, AND finally, student showcase!

#macul14 was awe inspiring…….. It's going to be tough waiting for 2015!!