Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stuck on Stick Around

On December 13, 2013 +Tony Vincent came out with a new app called +Stick Around

I love it and I think it has tremendous potential!  Essentially the app allows you to create "puzzles" to share out to your students.  These puzzles can be anything you can think of and can tie to any curriculum there is within our schools, from foreign language in high school to Dr. Suess in grade school.  Math, Science, Social Studies, Grammar, Health, Reading, and Words their Way in my district are areas of curriculum that we are tieing puzzles to which are all easily created, shared, and learned.

+Tony Vincent of course is amazing and has wonderful resources available for you to learn up on his new app Stick Around.  I would start with his website from there you can click on the Stick Around icon and go to this page loaded with video tutorials, blog, user guide, and other great resources.

Watch this great 1:39 trailer via Vimeo on Stick Around!

In my district we have our #ipadacademy which is comprised of 38 teachers and classrooms using 1:1 ipads with their students!

We have many of those 38 classrooms using the Stick Around App and they love it!  The possibilities are truly endless with what a teacher could create for his or her classroom to drive home a concept the students need to learn, to review concepts, to challenge them, quiz them, or to just plain have FUN!  These puzzles can easily be considered formative assessments.

Teachers in our #ipadacademy are creating all sorts of puzzles on a variety of things and here is perhaps where the greatest beauty of Stick Around occurs in my opinion.
As you can see above and to the right, we created a Shared Google Drive Folder and broke it down by grade level and then within the grade level broke it down by subject or content area.  The greatness then occurs because the folder is shared to everyone and that means everyone can access everyone else's puzzles whenever they want.  They can also look through other grade levels to get ideas!  So in our case within the #ipadacademy we have teachers sprinkled all over the district.  Let's take 4th grade for example, there are four 4th grade teachers at three different buildings.  One of those teachers could create a puzzle one morning for Math because they were inspired to do so and the moment they drop the .stickaround file / puzzle into the Math shared Google Drive folder the others would immediately have access to it and be able to copy it and drop it to their students in a matter of a few taps or clicks.

Student created Math puzzle
So let's discuss the student aspect of this.  I have coached our teachers to use shared folders in Google Drive with their students as well.  Most of the teachers I work with have used gClassFolders for this process.  gClassFolders does an amazing job of creating View and Edit folders for all of your students really quickly with limited work.  Watch this great tutorial by my #nebedu friend Mickie Mueller to see what it can do!  It is seriously amazing and worth learning if you are a heavy Google Drive user with students like we are.

Student created Science puzzle
Once students have those folders shared with them in Google Drive they need to add those folders to their Drive by selecting them and choosing "add to my drive" so they can easily access the puzzles that are shared with them from the teachers.  Also, more importantly, we have found this to be the easiest way to have kids share the puzzles they have proudly created to their classmates.  Trust me when I say the kids will love creating puzzles and the cool thing is some of your students may come up with ideas / puzzles you did not even think of and then it very well may become the featured puzzle to drive home a concept within your curriculum.

Student created Math puzzle
There is so much pride taken by students in creating their puzzles and the other interesting part of this is the fact that kids are taking the time to create these puzzles is in its own way them learning the concepts.  The fact that they have to think about the right and wrong answers of a puzzle they are creating really helps them retain the concepts.  Once they start sharing their puzzles on a given concept to the shared Google Drive folders their classmates have even more practice happens on concepts as they "play" each others puzzles.  It's a WIN WIN!  or perhaps an #eduwin!!  You can't go wrong with this app!!

Our #ipadacademy Google Hangout with Tony!

Another amazing thing about Stick Around is Tony Vincent!  Tony and his team are approachable and willing to listen to the suggestions of educators and our students.  App improvements are continuing to come out and Tony and Stick Around are approachable on Twitter and Google Plus.  Read up here on how our #ipadacademy connected with Tony via Google Hangout!

Another great resource to check out is this wikispace where teachers can share and steal other puzzle ideas to and from:
Stick Around is on Pinterest too!
Like them on Facebook!

Quite simply I am STUCK ON STICK AROUND because of its capabilities, its ease of use, and its versatility with Google Drive.  I highly recommend you check it out in the APP Store near you!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Just in the nick of time

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend my 4th Edcamp Omaha on the UNO campus.  I will start with:  I have never met an Edcamp I did not like.  This was no different!  I loved it and had a blast!  Actually, in all honesty, I needed it.

This time of year can sometimes be tricky to find motivation, inspiration, and the energy to keep working hard to finish the school year strong!

As I mentioned this was my 4th Edcamp Omaha, but my 9th overall Edcamp I have attended.  Technically I could add 2 more to that total for 11 if I counted Husky Edcamp that my friend +Craig Badura has invited me to come to the past couple of years in his district for their PD day, but who's counting anyway.  It's possible my numbers are off because I am terrible with dates and keeping track of stuff like this!  I wrote about Husky Edcamp if you care to read.

There are simple reasons as to why I have attended so many.  Edcamps never let me down!  This personalized professional development is always beneficial and rewarding for me to attend!  I read this post by Alex Glade who edcamp Omaha this year and I was surprised at his apprehension and thoughts of not getting something from it, but you will see he soon found out he was wrong and enjoyed it.  The other interesting thing to me was I never crossed paths with him and he attended 4 different sessions than me and he also had a great day!  Hmmmm.  Maybe Edcamp is on to something!

This year was even better than I anticipated it being for several reasons!  My colleagues pictured here to the right plus several others not pictured from my district came!  Never have we had this many people from our district come.  Not even close to these kinds of numbers, but this year was different and many of the educators I work with in our #ipadacademy showed up and even surprised me with the shirt at the left!  So cool!  I was shocked!  As you can see they were all wearing them too!  It was so awesome having #TeamCAT represented so well.  I was shocked, honored, and humbled by all of them!  Thank you guys so much!

I only ran one session this time at the beginning of the day called SPEED Dating EDU / Tech Style.  I got this idea from following #edcampLiberty one Saturday via Twitter.  My goals for the session were to get people up and moving while at the same time meeting new people, having conversations, and making new connections.  Of course, learning an app or educational tool within the time allotted wouldn't hurt either.  It was very fun, interactive and maybe a little loud, evident by the tweet below:

Stacy Behmer showing off her Google Glass!
After that I attended Let's Get Smashed with +Craig Badura & +Heather Callihan on App Smashing and had a blast!  In fact my colleagues +Jennifer Manning & +Michelle Boyce put together this app smash that I lended my voice and picture too.  Watch this 18 seconds:

Lunch was fabulous as well, I was able to eat with Craig, Heather, Michelle, Sharae, Jenn, Terrie, Peg, and Darin Swenson from Minnesota.  I was excited to visit with Darin because Edcamp Omaha was the 1st time we had met face to face so it was fun to connect with someone like him that is within my extended PLN on Twitter!  Read Darin's post on his 1st edcamp in Omaha.

The afternoon was also fabulous!  As the lucky Coach of +Michelle Boyce I encouraged her to put up a session on her up and coming Agile Classroom that she has written about here.  She did an awesome job moderating her session, sharing her story, and allowing for conversation, the true essence of edcamp in my opinion.  It was perhaps my favorite session of the day!  The conversation was rich and encouraging for both of us!  You can read about her experience at her first edcamp here:

I finished my day in the awe-inspiring +Laura Gilchrist photo session!  We were all encouraged to become "camera-toting teachers"!  It was so much fun and inspiring!  I believe that education could use more pictures telling its story and Laura does such an amazing job with this and she shared all her secrets of success with us as we bantered and played around together in the session.  The picture below is courtesy of Laura's Flickr set for Edcamp Omaha she created, which you can see here:
Group picture from Laura's session!
I finished my evening having dinner with several edcamp goers downtown at the Blatt!  It was cool too because I got to meet the married couple Beth and Chris Basinger from Iowa and had a nice visit with them.  Also, I got a chance to spend time visiting with Toby Brown which is always good.  Making new connections like this and seeing old friends and personalizing your own professional development are what makes edcamp so special to me.  I was overjoyed by the amount of people from my district that attended.  I have been to so many great edcamps and they have become a part of my lifeline in education.  I'm not sure what I would do without them.

I encourage you to read my colleague +Jennifer Manning 's amazing reflection on her 1st edcamp here:

I think my colleagues Jenn, Sharae, Michelle, and the #ipadacademy folks made this year's edcamp Omaha my personal favorite so far because seeing the light bulbs turn on for them and having them see what I have seen by attending edcamps just simply makes me happy.  I believe many of them now have the same bug I have where they will be craving another edcamp sooner than later to recharge their batteries for FREE!  Also, being suprised by my Team from #ipadacademy was extra special as well.  Thanks again to all of you!  You know I think you all rock and I am so impressed by all of you!

My colleague +Ann Feldmann also wrote about her edcamp Omaha experience here.

Some more fun had in our photo session with +Eliu Paopao and young student Liv Nebel:
Liv and I won in case you were wondering.
This edcamp for me was just in the nick of time.  I needed this blast of energizing, free, personalized, professional development, surrounded by like minded educators who want to share, learn, get better, and grow!  I feel absolutely rejuvenated to finish the year strong.  Thank you to everyone who made it super fabulous as usual!

Special thanks to +Josh Allen and +Kristina Peters for co-organizing this fabulous event and to +Bob Goeman for hosting it at UNO!  Here is Kristina's reflection on the day.

O my GOSH, I almost forgot, you won't want to miss next year's edcamp!  Trust me!  Several of us took a tour on a possible slight change of venue on the UNO campus to a new building which will be off the chain!  Kristina and I were doing the happy dance to some Pharell, literally!  It is a gorgeous new building with state of the art equipment that shall be amazing so long as Mr. Goeman can come through again!  Seriously amazing!

To further your growth on why you might want to attend an edcamp check out our +Dads InEd Google Hangout with co-founder of the Edcamp "un"conference with Dan Callahan as he talks about the Edcamp Foundation and Edcamp DOE (Department of Education) happening in Washington DC!

Check out the edcamp nearest you!

Friday, March 21, 2014

'twas the night before Edcamp

'Twas the night before Edcamp, when all through the school
Not a teacher was teaching, not even lesson planning;
The lesson plan book was closed with care,
With the idea of Edcamp permeating through the air.

Their students were all home playing games on their devices,
While their moms whip up homemade dishes full of tasty spices;
And the teacher in her PJ's, and her para home to rest,
They just settled in to grade those stinkin' tests.

Photo from @lauragilchrist4
The Edcamp organizers sent out an email reminding me tomorrow was the day,
when educators from all around would converge to play;
No keynotes, no formal presentations, but conversations,
With great sponsors and even maybe a little swag and quite possibly some education fashion.

It was time for the Tweet-up, the party has began,
out the door, start the car, and into the streets I ran;
Nothing like educators sittin' around talkin' shop,
The "un"conference hasn't even started, and things are starting to pop!

And then with red, green, and blue sharpees, name tags filled up
while donuts and brews of coffee started to fill educators cups;
Sessions began to fill, some where apprehensive,
Not sure that they had something to give.

When then it happens, you see that person "you know" that you've been anxious to meet,
But ironically its a followed tweep, that actually you've never met, and you swear they are sweet;
So with sometimes anxiety filled in your heart,
you get up the strength to go up and say hi and be the first one to start!

Now, Omaha!  Now, Des Moines!  Now KC and Boston!
On LA! on St Louis! on Dallas and Austin!
To the blank white boards!  To the sessions for all!
Now post away!  Post Away!  Post away all!

Sessions start to fill, like kids at a park,
people start to wonder where they think they can make their mark;
Tough decisions often have to be made,
But vote on your feet if this ain't your parade.

Did I mention this is Free?
That educators do this with me?
Because they want to get better, and customize their PD,
All I know is its the right place to be.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#ipadacademy 5

I am way overdue on my update to this series of posts I have created on our #ipadacademy in Bellevue Public Schools as I try to chronicle the happenings of our Academy.

Here are the previous posts I have written about the #ipadacademy if you want to go back and catch up.  Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, and Post 4.

So let's catch up shall we?  Last time I wrote it was January and we were just getting ready to add on 18 new teachers into the #ipadacademy!  I wrote about how I was adding a 2nd grade, 5th grade, and three 6th grade teachers at the same building as well as a 4th grade teacher at another building.  All of these teachers are doing amazing at this point 3 short months later!  I am completely energized by all of them and continue to be inspired and motivated by those teachers I worked with before adding 6 new people to whom I coach.

I love the role I get to play as coach!  I fell in love with teaching through coaching basketball.  Be able to "coach" these teachers and work with them, collaborate, and plan together is amazing!  They are all unique, confident, open, willing to try new things, awesome educators who are beginning to transform their classrooms!  I am truly blessed to work with each of them daily.

Speaking of coaching, I truly believe much of the success with our #ipadacademy has been because of the 1 on 1 coaching these teachers receive.  Without it, I'm not sure this would be as successful.  Please don't take me wrong and think I am saying this is all about me, because its not, but I am saying coaching in general.  These teachers might not move the way they are moving without having a coach.

I also attribute much of our success on three other things:
# 1.  We have monthly collaboration days where each teacher in the iPad Academy comes to our Support Center training room and we allow them to collaborate, work together, plan, and prepare lessons.  We have established an "edcamp" like feel where we post some times for people to share out about different apps or things they are working on or post a session on what they want to learn.
# 2.  We have a private Google + Community well established where all the teachers within the Academy have access as well as upper administration from our main office and the local building principals involved.  This has proved to be a fabulous place to share ideas, trials and tribulations, as well as successes.
# 3.  The hashtag #ipadacademy where we all share and tweet out to.  Of course this is public and anyone can see it, but the beauty is anyone can chime in too with an idea or suggestion which often happens.  Sharing via Twitter using #ipadacademy is great because again, everyone in the Academy can see those tweets using Tweetdeck easily and support, encourage, and pose questions to each other if needed, nevermind the fact that everyone's PLN's can tweet with us too!

What does our future look like?  Well it is Bright!  In fact, the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.
Sadly, financially our district is taking a pretty bad budget cut next year from what we are being told to the tune of $5 million dollars.  Our Director of Technology +Greg Boettger has let us know that no new devices will be purchased next school year, 2014-15.  This, of course, is disappointing, but at the same time we have 38 teachers doing amazing things and that will only get better!

My colleagues +Ann Feldmann and +Jennifer Krzystowczyk are finishing up their Spring Apple Foundations Training (AFT) now and they will be offering an AFT this summer and teachers in the current spring AFT and this summer will be aligned to apply for the Academy when the day comes again when more iPads will hopefully be purchased by the district.  I wish I had a crystal ball showing me the future, of course I don't, so in the meantime I will continue to work with the amazing educators in the #ipadacademy and continue to move the mountains we are moving together.

I highly encourage you to reference this Google Doc for all of the educators in the #ipadacademy.  It has their Twitter handles, blogs, and kids' blog sites.  Some current apps that we are loving and exploring include Stick Around by +Tony Vincent, EduClipper by +Adam Bellow, Ask3, Google Earth, iMovie, Popplet, Quizlet, Notability, Khan Academy, Front Row, and Explain Everything to name a few.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


One Saturday morning I got on Twitter and saw some friends tweeting from #edcampliberty in Missouri.  So I pulled up the hashtag on my tweetdeck and started following along here and there as the morning went along.

My friend +Laura Gilchrist shared a tweet about being in some sort of SPEED DATING type session where people were sharing out there favorite educational & technology tools to each other much like a Speed Dating event would be in trying to find a date.  I asked Laura for more details and she and I replied back and forth a few times until I understood the concept.  Thanks to Laura for helping me!

As an educator who loves to attend Edcamps I was really drawn to the idea of this session first of all because it sounded so interactive and secondly because edcamps to me mean conversations and interaction not sit and get presentations so I thought this sounded like a homerun of a session because everyone would have an opportunity to share and learn from lots of people!  Also, building new connections and relationships with like minded educators!

Since then I brought the idea to my district and within our iPad Academy each month we have collaboration days for them.  In January we added a whole new group of teachers into the academy so we adapted the idea a little and had our current iPad Academy people sit in the inner circle and the newbies rotated around the outside circle getting a chance to visit with all the "veterans" of the Academy and learn from them!  They loved it!  It served as an ice breaker and get to know you loaded with learning all rolled into one simple fast-paced, energetic activity.

A month or so later I was able to put this session to the true test when my good friend +Craig Badura from Aurora, Nebraska asked me to come to #huskyedcamp in his district for their PD day.  So I told Craig I would do the session there.  It was awesome!  I had a full house so we moved it into the hallway which actually I thought worked out really well!

That leads me to the present day.  Edcamp Omaha is March 22nd and I intend to put it up as a session there because I think folks will love it!  I know I would.  I hope someone will come.  ;  )

So let me give you the gist of how I have done this session.

Step 1.  Explain how the session works to everyone.  Share what the goals are:  relationship building and learning / sharing with each other.
Step 2.  Line people up facing each other like I did in above picture in hallway or have chairs and inner circle and outer circle in the other picture above from my district collab day.
Step 3.  Get a timer going on your phone or have an online timer site like this one: to display through a projector.  This is best case scenario because then people can see the time and potentially hear the sound when the timer is up.  As the facilitator you have to manage this clock.  Trust me this is loud, fun, and fast paced.
Step 4.  Decide how much time you will give the 2 people to chat.  I have used 2 and 1/2 minutes and 3 minutes in roughly 45 to 60 minute sessions.  You figure that is 15 switches in 45 minutes at 3 min a piece.  These both worked out fine and to be honest sometimes when I used my phone as the timer we went over.  The key is to just keep it moving.  If you go too long I could see it losing its energy.  It's possible I suppose that if you had a smaller group you could extend the time.  Also, note it's possible and ok if not everyone shares with everyone in the session.

I promised my friend +Jennifer Kirsch that I would write this post because she was asking me about it on Twitter.  So I came through Jenny!  Here it is.  Steal, adapt, or use it!  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Excited for EduClipper

Have you seen EduClipper?

Founder and creator +Adam Bellow has put together a fabulous Social Media like tool for students that is safe and potentially controlled by teachers.

+eduClipper has tons of potential for teachers and students!  If you are on Pinterest than you will understand the concept of +eduClipper in that you can "Clip" (like "pinning") a variety of things like Websites, Images, videos, and more.  You can "re Clip" and comment and like other clips you find.  You can annotate over photo's within the app as well as a portfolio builder that has great potential once you get clipping lots of resources or things created on the ipad or computer.  Another great aspect of +eduClipper is how the account can go with the kids as they move along and grow older and teachers can simply get them a class code to join and not have to set up all new accounts for each kid, each year.  This ability truly lets kids control their own presence on the site or ipad app and those with access at home can continue "clipping" at home!

I really appreciate that the app or website allows teachers to discuss digital citizenship with kids and talk to them about what is worthy of clipping, how to comment appropriately on other clips, students can create portfolio's of their work to showcase, connect with other kids from all over to be inspired and learn from, and many other great features.

I work with many teachers in our #ipadacademy and I have brought +eduClipper  to them via the iPad app.  The app is fairly new as Adam continues to work with his team to improve and update it.  Recently Adam had a Google Hangout with many of the classrooms I work with and answered questions our students and teachers had.  It was awesome!  One thing I love about Adam since the day I met him at ISTE in San Diego was how down to earth and humble he is.  He treated our students with respect and at one point even wrote down an idea one of the students suggested for improving the app and later tweeted me to say it was in the works!

The students were inspired on many different levels of the hangout with Adam.  Adam talked about how he was coding in 3rd grade and at one point he and a 6th grader were having a "code" talk which flew over my head!  It was so cool to see him connecting with different students and inspiring them to think BIG!  He spoke about hard work and perseverance in making +eduClipper and all the great new features and improvements he is planning to make!  Our students blogged about it on several different class blogs:  and  and

I know in my world in the #ipadacademy we are Excited for EduClipper and we would suggest that you take a look at it when you get a chance!  Thank you again Adam for hanging out with us to talk +eduClipper we really appreciate it!

Check it out online here:
or in iTunes here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Where would I be?

This past couple weeks I have been doing an awful lot of presenting.  In some of the sessions I presented I was showcasing one of my favorite Google tools:  Hangouts!

I got all kinds of help from my PLN (Personal Learning Network) and colleagues helping me showcase and model Hangouts.  Also, I got help from the PLN when sharing Google Forms via Twitter for feedback.

During one session I was leading, during exploration / play time, I had a conversation with a principal who was in my session.  During our conversation, like many I have with other educators, I was struck by his lack of "Connectedness".  So many things we discussed I kept thinking if he was "Connected" he would have all the answers to his questions.  I am in no way trying to say he is a poor educator, but knowing what I know now, it got me thinking about this question:

Where would I be without my PLN?

Living now as a "Connected Educator" it is very hard to comprehend how I did anything in the past without them!  To me, being a "Connected Educator" means you are using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, EduClipper, Linkedin, and Vine to connect yourself to thousands of other amazing educators that are using those social media tools / networks as well.  Blogging is another area of being a "Connected Educator" in my opinion as well.  I love to reflect in this space as well as read from other bloggers sharing their thoughts, lessons, best practices, trials and tribulations, and ideas.

As I mentioned, when I was speaking to this principal I referred to earlier I was immediately struck by the fact that he was not "Connected".  I wanted to have an intervention with him, I wanted to show him what I see now, I wanted to weep for him (jk), but I was like, if only he was "Connected" he would have a wealth of information, inspiration, help, and guidance at his fingertips whenever he wanted.  I am not even getting into the other educators in my sessions that were also not "Connected".  It can become somewhat maddening to me and troubling at the same time.

It's 2014, times have changed.  I started my teaching career 16 years ago.  Many of those years I was not "Connected" and I did just fine, but looking at who I have become as an educator now, I can't help but think how much better I could have been in the previous years when I was not "Connected" if I actually was "Connected".

Most recently, my fellow Nebraska Technology Integration Specialists and Tech Leaders from around the state got together for what we called a "Meet and Share" Camp.  It was a chance for us to converge on one place and have some face to face time to learn and grow.  The day was full of rich conversations and collaboration.  This group, my PLN within Nebraska, has become a backbone of my sounding board for ideas, inspiration, and growth as an educator.

The bottom line for me is I am not sure where I would be without my PLN.

Where would you be?