#BHMChallenge – Week 3

Respecting Differences, The Strength in Feeling Powerless, Documenting your Journey, Improving our Community, Significance in Nobility, Embracing New Experiences, and The Power of Storytelling! Join us in week 3 of the Black History Month Creativity Challenge!  We encourage you to share your creations on social media using the hashtags #BHMChallenge2020, #AppleEduChat, and #EveryoneCanCreate!

#BHMChallenge – Week 2

Entrepreneurship, Finding Your Passion, the Power in Creation, the Passion in Inventing, the Significance of Using your Imagination, Design Thinking, the Fight for the Marginalized!  Join us in week 1 of the Black History Month Creativity Challenge!  We encourage you to share your creations on social media using the hashtags #BHMChallenge2020, #AppleEduChat, and #EveryoneCanCreate!

#BHMChallenge 2020 – Week 1

A love of STEM, Changing Your Community, the Power of Perseverance,  the Gift of Music, the Power of Relationships, Fighting the Unjust Law, and Building your own Way.   Join us in week 1 of the Black History Month Creativity Challenge!  We encourage you to share your creations on social media using the hastags #BHMChallenge2020, #AppleEduChat, and #EveryoneCanCreate!

Join Us for the 2020 Black History Month Creativity Challenge!

Join fellow Apple Distinguished Educators and myself with the Black History Month Creativity Challenge.  Our passion is creativity with content in the classroom and how iPad can transform teaching and learning in your learning spaces.  Each day there is a different challenge that encourages you to engage with iPad (or iPhone) and Apple tools in a way that promotes the 4Cs and 21st Century Learning.  Share your creations on social media using the following hashtags – #BHMChallenge2020 #AppleEDUChat #EveryoneCanCreate

Can’t wait to see what you and your students create!


TED Talk Thursday – Pearl Arredondo’s “My Story From Gangland Daughter to Star Teacher”

My good friend, Ken Shelton, shares an experience about a student who was consistently late to his first period class because he had been tasked with getting his younger siblings to school every day.  He laid out and ironed their clothes, fed them breakfast, and got them on the bus; all before heading to school himself.  His first period teacher was asked to just have a conversation about his tardiness, hoping to promote an honest discussion and maybe a workaround.  Her response amounted to her refusing to even initiate a discussion and saying that his failing her class would teach him the importance of being responsible….


Like really??

If you’ve never seen this video, I encourage you to watch.  And if you already have, watch again.  Either way, let me hear your thoughts.

Until the next time,

TED Talk Spotlight – Rita Pierson’s “Every Kid Needs a Champion”

I could watch Rita Pierson’s video over and over again, because it resonates deep within me and my inner belief that relationships is a game changer in building relationships.    If you’ve never watched this video, it’s a must see.  If you’ve watched it before – watch it again.  Either way, let me know your thoughts.


Until the next time,

Goodbye Google Photos!

Guilty As Charged

I’m definitely guilty of it.  It’s so easy to just go to google.com, find the picture you want and download it.  And we know it’s wrong – we as adults know it’s wrong.  But in our speed race lives, it’s easier to go with it.

Who’s what you need to know:

  • Google Images is not a good option. Most images are protected by copyright (and the advanced search filter to find images available for reuse can be complicated).  You can be prosecuted for using images that are protected by copyright.

But, what if I told you that there are resources to use that are just as easy as using Google Photos?  And legal?!

Classroom Resources

Below you’ll find resources that have been shared to me through Kathleen Morris that will provide a snapshot of what some of the more popular sites do and do not offer.

Most of these websites are simple to use, because they don’t require attribution (citing where the work came from).  The only exception is Photos for Class, but the instructions on how to do that is on the site!

So basically you will just need to know how to search for an image, save it, and add it to your work.

Task Cards

1. Task Card for Students Under 13

This document walks your younger students through the process of finding an image on Photos for Class and openclipart.

I am so thankful for Kathleen who provided  two printables for your classroom. You can print these off as handouts, place them on the wall as posters, embed them into your class website, or add them to your Schoology course.


2. Poster for Older Students and Teachers

This document references the five sites that are useful for 13+ students (remembering Pixabay requires permission for users aged 13-18).


Next Steps

I encourage you to start using the resources in the post so that we can stay above the reaches of the law. 🙂  Let me know how things go! And if you’re interested in learning more, check out Kathleen’s full blog post here.

Until the next time,

Spending Quality Time With My Geeks!

This year I am spending soooooo much more time with teachers – which I love. In addition to that, a few principals have initiated Student Tech Support groups or, as we call them, “Geek Squads”! I try to meet with the students once a month and show them how to use tools and troubleshoot through usage.  As many of you who follow me know, the hardest part about this job is being away from kids – I miss them terribly.  So now, I get the best of both worlds.  Today I met with my elementary Geek Squad and we had an amazing time!!

When I meet with each group, I try to combine showing them technical skills through instructional ways.  So today’s technical focus was Google logins, Schoology Assignment split screen on the iPad, annotating through Adobe Acrobat, and Flipgrid.  That’s a lot isn’t it.  But they did a fabulous job of it all!

We used main idea as the curriculum skill and used text about Ruby Bridges to practice the technical skills.

Ruby Bridges with US Marshals on the school steps.


Students opened a Google Doc that I created asking two questions that focused on main idea and supporting details.  They then watched a short video clip about Ruby Bridges and took notes in the app.  It was so cool watching them work in real time!

After that, I airdropped a piece of text to them using Apple Classroom and they opened it in Adobe Acrobat.  They used the Split Screen feature to follow allow with the text (I read) and we discussed potential main ideas and supporting details which they annotated in Adobe.

Using the information they highlighted in the text, they answered the questions and then used that information to put into a FlipGrid video.  It was their first time using most of these tools – especially FlipGrid and without headphones and microphones it got pretty loud.

All in all though, I think they did a fabulous job!  I’m so proud of the work that they’re doing and always look forward to our next interaction!!

Their FlipGrid videos!

Until the next time!

The Balancing Act

Acrobatics Travis via Compfight

If you’ve followed my social media world, you know that I district has just realized it’s 1:1 dream. *Cue the “Oh Happy Day” music*  And as I sang earlier (in my Daveed Diggs voice), “Now the work at home begins…”

With this huge initiative, our team feels a strong sense of urgency.  South Carolina has decided to move to online testing and it is imperative that children have numerous experiences with the technology that they will be interacting with throughout the year. We stand by our belief that the 4C’s is what will assist us in doing that.  And we are constantly afraid that there just aren’t enough hours in the day right now with the limited human resources that we have to provide the support that is needed.  I think I can accurately say that we all are a little panicky.

Although we’ve become 100% 1:1 this year, it’s been a four year process (we did a 1:1 classroom pilot, then we were 3:1, 2:1 and now 1:1), so we have a huge variety of comfortability with successful technology integration and getting to where we need to be will definitely be a balancing act.

South Carolina also has a technology proficiency requirement for all certified staff.  They have allowed districts to determine what that should look like which I appreciate, but it’s also difficult to know the right balance of giving teachers the push they really need while not overwhelming them and providing them the support they need.

We’ve decided to require 6 hours of professional development that focuses on technology integration with students with them submitting a “portfolio” which is really just a spotlight of their favorite lesson with students.  Easy Peasy, right? Wrong!  Our teachers are already overwhelmed with other mandates, I’m afraid that this took them right over the edge.  And if you’re a teacher in my district, “I’m sorry.”  Again, we juggle getting them the information in a timely fashion – but without the answer of the questions there, it has the potential to cause panic.  And panicked they did.

So to prepare for my upcoming visits, I created two sites (hindsight, I should’ve just done one) for my 3-5 and 6-8 teachers that provided teachers with lessons and examples.  And then came the fun part!  I got a chance to be the teacher while my teachers were my students executing the activities that I created.

Check them out here!

3-5 Portfolio                                          6-8 Portfolio

I had an amazing time “teaching” again.  My students were scientists….famous people from the Renaissance, bloggers, and researchers. And for the most part, the feedback was extremely positive, my middle school math lesson definitely needs work, and the reflection that we ask teachers to do during the activity helped me to reflect on my practices with them.

What I learned (or I say – what was reinforced), was that when there is a fear of the technology, the learner is more likely to feel overwhelmed with a new task.  For the most part, teacher’s were quickly calmed once we went through the lesson and I demonstrated how simple it was to gather the required artifacts.  Those who were overwhelmed with how the tech works will definitely need additional support.

The best part….they got it!  When asked for feedback, here’s the quote that made me smile:

I liked the lesson. Even though the piece on Chatterkid really wasn’t the point or focus of the lesson, that was the positive take away. I see that as a new tool I will use class.

I’ve made arrangements with one principal (and plan to share the plan with all my schools) to offer continued support and I have a few more schools to visit, so I’ll keep you updated.

Until the next time,



Clipspiration: Quick Clips to Inspire Creativity in the Classroom

As a part of my Apple Distinguished Educator experience, I was fortuitous enough to join the Clipspiration team.  This team focuses on the Clips app (created by Apple) and offers quick and easy ways various tools can be incorporated in the classroom.  Clips is a free app that lets you make fun videos to share with others.  I really like it because it has the Live Titles feature, which lets you create captions and title – just by talking.  As you talk, text automatically appears perfectly synced with your voice (like close captioning).

My most recent Clips contribution focused on one of my most favorite activities “Visual Vocabulary”.  In 2013, The New York Times launched its now annual Visual Vocabulary Student Contest.  That year, I had my students create these vocabulary videos based on our word banks.

This Clipsiration example highlights the why and how PLUS my favorite clip ever!

What are other vocabulary activities you complete with students to assist with mastery?

Until the next time,