May 18, 2016

Make A Big Splash Into Summer Learning


Summer break”: two words that bring smiles to both teachers and students. For those in education, summer is a time for relaxation, reflecting, and also new learning. Whether you are attending a conference like ISTE, or creating your own personalized learning experience, utilizing this “break” to explore new tools and strategies that help expand your teaching toolbox can be very rewarding. Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips.

Expand Your Classroom Walls: 
While you’re lounging by the pool, think about how you can share the awesome things going on in your classroom. How can you expand the four walls of your classroom to develop lifelong learners, producers, and publishers? Many teachers use blogging as a way to share information with parents and other educators the wonderful things they are doing in their classroom.

Connect Worldwide:
Try Connecting: Are you a connected educator? How do you develop relationships with other educators, besides the ones at your own school? How do you measure how effectively you have been integrating technology into your classroom? Are you using Twitter, Voxer, Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook, or other social media tools to expand your personal learning network? Social media allows you to create your own learning opportunities, anywhere, and anytime. The connections you make through social media lead you to a wealth of knowledge that is not made possible without it. Twitter, one of my favorites, allows you to quickly find specific examples of how educators are using tools, and allows you to participate in valuable dialogue on any topic through chats, and by using the search box on Twitter.

Learn From Others:
Maybe you are more comfortable connecting with people in person than through the virtual world. Attending conferences, edcamps, and playdates are great ways to make lifelong friends, and connections in your local community.

As we bring this school year to a close, I am sure you will use this summer to relax, but also make some time to reflect. As educators, we must stay current by finding innovative ways to engage students. Don't let the whole summer go by without exploring ways to improve the quality of your instructional practices, by refilling your learning toolbox!

April 20, 2016

5 Ways To Use Video In The Classroom


Video in the classroom is powerful, because it has the ability to make the classroom come alive, and make meaningful learning experiences and connections. Video allows you to deliver long-lasting images, and reach children with various learning styles. But how do you make sure you’re keeping things fresh?
Here are a few ways you can incorporate video projects in your classroom—on a daily basis.

1) Flip your classroom—but for real

Flipped classrooms allows for a student to never again miss a lesson. Essentially, that style of teaching allows you to break down your classroom walls, and expand learning outside of the classroom. With a recorded lesson, students can watch an uninterrupted lesson as many times as they need to at their own pace. Students don't have to stop at just watching your lessons—they can view information from other teachers and experts to gain new perspectives.
What Equipment Do You Need to Produce Videos? At The Minimum:
  • A recording device (webcam, camera, or screencasting software)
  • Access to editing software (iMovie, windows movie maker, or an online tool)
  • Computer, laptop, or tablet
  • An online presence to post videos like YouTube, SchoolTube, or Vimeo
Consider creating simple videos using Screencast-o-matic, orQuicktime Player. These tools allow you to screencast (record) what's on your computer screen, meaning you can record audio and video. To supplement, there are some great digital content resources like PBS LearningMedia, Youtube, WatchknowLearn, and Discovery Education that are sure to bring amazing experiences for your students.

2) Jazz up student assessments

Tests come in all shapes and sizes—so why not incorporate some video this month into your assessment style? Students can show their learning in unique ways, such as by recording themselves reading a book, passage, or an essay that they wrote, or recording labs, or science experiments. Try using the camera app on your iPad, iPhone, or Chromebook to achieve that, or for audio only, there’s Audioboom.
Additionally, a favorite tool of mine is EDpuzzle—a free platform that allows you to take videos and embed quizzes directly into those clips. You can make any video yours, and crop the video to use only what you need for your lesson. Students can view the videos on the EDpuzzle website, on the app, on your website, or even on your website, if you choose to embed the video. And one other important piece of information: EDpuzzle also collects data as students watch and interact with the video, so you can track how they’re progressing.
Students can show their learning in unique ways, such as by recording themselves reading a book, passage, or an essay that they wrote, or by recording labs or science experiments.

3) Bring video into student projects and storytelling

Projects are a staple in most classrooms, so here are two tools to help students incorporate more storytelling into those projects. And for the record, these projects don’t need to be confined to your own class; for example, students could use the following tools to showcase school events through student lead broadcast teams, or news channels.
First up, Present.Me’s free online website allows you to upload content (PDF, PowerPoint, etc.) to an online platform, and record video of yourself presenting the information. The viewer sees a split screen, with your presentation on one side, and a video recording on the other side.
Next up, there’s Videolicious. This free tool is very user-friendly and great for taking pictures to tell stories. Create a professional looking video in minutes using the website or app—kids will feel like they’re in control.

4) Think about parent communication

Are you worried that parents aren’t reading your emails? Add excitement to a parent weekly newsletter or email by creating a video, instead. Using green screen apps like Touchcast or Do Ink, you can create amazing video projects with your students that grabs any parent’s attention.
And by the way—what if you shared what’s happening in your classroom with student-made animations? A fun way I like to do this is with Tellagami, a mobile app that lets you create an animated “Gami.” You can use the computer animated voice, or add your own to create animated anticipatory sets to introduce a unit or lesson animated Gami video. Mash your Gami with iMovie and embed quizzes, and other special features—in fact, this tool is versatile enough that you can consider for the other three points above.

5) Use video for professional development best practices

We can’t forget about ourselves, teachers. Teachers can create amazing video recordings of classroom best practices and store them on a website, or YouTube channel using a Ricoh Theta camera that records a 360-degree view of a room.
As you get better with using video in your classroom, you can look for additional technology tools that help supplement your technology skills. 

Got some tools that you like? Feel free to share in the comments section.

March 14, 2016

Coding with Ozobots






The STEM lesson for 2nd grade incorporated using Ozobot Robots to teach States of Matter & Mapping Skills.

I first learned about Ozobots this past summer. I caught the Amazon Prime sale and purchased two for my kids as toys. Little did I know the impact it could have in the classroom!


2nd grade students had just completed their unit on States of Matter, and I was looking for a way to incorporate my new ozobots I won for my school, and I came across this great blog post by Kim Mattina in which she used Ozobots with middle schoolers to program the States of Matter. I modified the lesson to address curriculum objectives for 2nd grade, and then along the way,  I found a way to connect it to their mapping unit too. 

How to Use Augmented Reality To Transform Your Classroom

Augmented Reality is changing education. What started out as something that was simply “cool” has become a way to engage learners like never before.

In fact, while I was first introduced to Augmented Reality through the Aurasma App, I never imagined that while walking through a trendy neighborhood in Washington D.C. this past summer, I would come across the first public interactive augmented reality mural dedicated to the life of the actor Paul Robeson. Designed by artist Corey L. Stowers, this mural allows viewers to scan and thus trigger images of his artwork with their mobile devices, accessing historical videos and original content that depict the life of the great athlete, performer, and civil rights activist.
What started out as something that was simply “cool” has become a way to engage learners like never before.

It was at this moment that I realized that Augmented Reality was a way to bring a new dimension to learning. By unlocking the everyday world, one can dig deeper and engage learners in a new and interesting way.
What is “Augmented Reality”?

Augmented Reality (AR) content can be accessed by scanning or viewing a trigger image with a mobile device that creates a subsequent action. This action can be a video, another image, 3D Animations, Games, QR code, or whatever you want it to be. For example, take a look at this GIF below to see real AR in action.


How can I start using AR in my classroom?

Using the Aurasma App and Aurasma Studio, you can create your own “Auras” (or AR experiences), and use them to engage students in creative ways. For example, jazz up your school’s art show, or make math come alive through videos of students solving math problems--perhaps students can trigger an Aura by pointing their smartphone at a particular equation. You could even attach a trigger image to a Google Form to request time with the school counselor, or make a class picture image on your teacher website trigger a virtual tour of a classroom.
And why exactly should I start doing this? It sounds like a lot of work.

Augmented reality apps connected to content can create mind-blowing learning experiences and endless learning possibilities. These type of learning experiences really speak to the needs of visual learners.

The beauty of Augmented Reality is that the learning experiences can be as easy or as complex as you want. You can create your own, or download the numerous already-made apps connected to various content. But what’s even more enticing is that students can easily create these experiences on their own in a matter of minutes.
What are the best AR apps and resources out there?

The options for using AR are endless, and so here a few awesome Augmented Reality apps and resources being used in classrooms to provide engaging content and interactions for students:

Popar Toys: This catalog of AR resources changes the way children read books, look at posters, or complete puzzles. (Basically, everything is an animated picture!) Enjoy their interactive books on Planets, Bugs, Dinosaurs, Safari, and Sea Life, or perhaps the interactive charts on Human Anatomy, Periodic Tables, World Maps, The Solar System and US Presidents.
Daqri: One of the leading augmented reality developers, Daqri is the creator of Daqri Studio--a truly creative tool for designing your own Augmented Reality projects. Science teachers, check out 

Anatomy 4D (which allows you to view 3-D images of the human body, and heart) and Elements 4D (which enhances a chemistry classroom by bringing the periodic table to life).
Quiver (formerly Colar) App: Quiver has different coloring pages from every subject area. When partnered with the app, the coloring pages come to life and have animated actions. For instance, students can create their own flag, and tie it to science and weather by controlling the wind. Or, check out a world map that shows day and night views of the world when activated with the app.
Chromville: Chromville’s science-based coloring pages ignite creativity in children through art, technology, and the eight multiple intelligences. The Chromville Visual App uses its characters to promote storytelling and features a classroom component that has coloring pages explaining the likes of the human body and parts of plant.
Fetch Lunch Rush: This fun PBS kids game app uses printable cards as augmented reality game pieces. In the game, kids help Ruff the Dog feed sushi to a movie crew by solving the math problems. Each game piece is a trigger image that comes to life when scanned.
STAR Augmented Reality Worksheets: With these interactive materials, the worksheet comes alive and transposes 3-dimensional models and video resources to reinforce content.
AugThat: Developed by a former teacher, AugThat creates augmented reality content for classrooms, specifically targeting students that fall through the cracks and aren’t engaged. They create animated lessons in a variety of formats, including 360-degree virtual environments and 3-dimensional experiences.
Two Guys and Some iPads: These sought-after keynote speakers and Augmented Reality gurus share various ways to incorporate Augmented Reality into the classroom and give practical examples of simple ways that teachers around the world are using AR.
Do you want to allow students to interact with 3D models? Break down the walls of the classroom? Experiment with an AR app--and see the magic happen.

Augmented Reality is an example of a technology that can make classroom learning more transformational and engaging. What in the past had seemed like fantasy is now a part of our reality. There are practical examples for Augmented Reality being used in classrooms around the world, as the ability to overlay digital content and information onto the real world--using triggers like images and locations--opens up a whole new world of learning opportunities.

Do you want to allow students to interact with 3D models? Bring learning to life? Break down the walls of the classroom? Experiment with an AR app--and see the magic happen.

What other ideas do you have about incorporating Augmented Reality in your classroom?

March 11, 2016

7 Ways to Spark Innovation and Collaboration In Your School


Here’s a big question: how can educators create learning experiences that foster collaboration, and problem solving, but also nurture imagination and curiosity during the school day?

It’s simple: try something new. An innovative teacher is a mentor, and allows his or her students to share their voices and become future innovators. Innovators make learning relevant, and they commit to sharing digital learning content and powerful ideas for improving teaching and learning.

March 3, 2016

My Journey Towards Innovation- A Google Certified Innovator Story

“Life's a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experiences to enjoy.” (somebody very smart)


I am a Google Certified Innovator

This time last week, I was on my way to Mountain View, California to embark on an experience that is difficult to put into words. Well, I think I might have two words “Mind Blown” (*drops mic*).  Besides the excitement of my birthday (Feb. 24 - which happened to be a school snow day), I had the opportunity to join 34 other educators, from all over the world, who possessed the same passions, dedication, and mindset that I do about technology and innovation, making meaningful connections along the way. This group of educators were selected as Google Certified Innovators, (formerly the Google Certified Educator program). We are the first cohort to experience the new certified innovator program, so it was quite an honor. Although the academy was held in Mountain View at Google Headquarters, and Google is a tech company, this academy was very little about tech, in fact it was more about mindset. (however, I did get to experiment with a ricoh theta 360 camera). The academy was more about, ”How do we spark innovation, change our way of thinking, learning, building relationships, and school culture.

“You must unlearn what you have learned”-Yoda

All of the stories you have heard about the fabulousness of Google is all true! From riding your bike across the campus, all you can eat eateries, volleyball games in the courtyard, nap pods, and even heated toilet seats. As Google guests, we reaped all those benefits. I get Googley just thinking about it. But there might be some things you didn’t know about Google.  Google has specific beliefs about learning based on data. Google’s philosophy is “make our place the best place to learn.”  This hit home for me, as I connected it to my role as a technology coach working with students and teachers everyday.  


Google believes:

Learning is a process: people develop over time through practice, feedback, and reflection.

Learning happens in real life: It occurs through the challenges people face everyday.

Learning is personal: Everyone has their own motivations and preferences about how, when and what they learn. (by the way, nothing is mandatory at Google)

Learning is social: It happens as people interact with and teach each other. (Peers, teams, cohort, informal, and formal settings)

Happy employees are more productive, so they believe in finding the best people, growing them, and keeping them. EQ Schools Founder and Chief Happiness Officer, Roni Habib stopped by to talk to us about happiness and emotional intelligence. He shared some great teamwork and “happy building” activities we could implement in any classroom or PD day. He put it best, as he talked about students, “We shouldn’t just teach content, we should teach our students to be happy.” Ultimately, that’s what any parent wants for their child, and that’s what we really want for our students. Happiness. It’s just that simple.

Imagine if school districts across the country embraced that same mindset? Classrooms full of teachers and students who felt that their happiness and well-being was always at the forefront of the minds of the national and state level educational policy makers, school board members, and district administrators. I wonder what impact that might have on education? (Things that make you go hmmm....)

A little about the program:
As Certified innovators we are developing an innovation project for a problem in education that we want to solve. In exchange, we receive 12 months of ongoing support for our innovation project, a mentor, opportunities for growth and collaboration, and access to a global community of other innovators. Ultimately, the opportunity to Transform, Advocate, and Grow. "The goal of the Innovation Academy is to build community and trust, create connections with Coaches and Advisors, get inspired by Googley culture, and prepare to complete their Innovation Project within 12 months."

The beginning:

This was actually my first time applying. I had heard about the Google Certified Educator Academy, but the academy dates seemed to always conflict with my schedule, plus I felt it was a goal that was too difficult to obtain. There are only 1300 people in the world who have this credential. I have been a Google Certified Trainer for years, so when I heard about the opportunity to attend the academy at Google Headquarters in Mountain View California, I was pumped. This by far was the most extensive program application I have ever completed, because it required me to dig deep and embrace my passion. I had to really think about how I could truly impact and spark innovation in my school community and ultimately globally.


Take a glimpse into my application.


Vision Deck:



Vision Video:



Before the Academy:
As soon as I received my acceptance email into the Academy, the journey and work began. We spent the weeks before preparing for the academy by building community through virtual team building activities, and extensive tasks. Each week we were given a different mission card with several tasks to complete. Our first task was to view each innovator’s video and vision slide decks.  Then to our surprise, we all received a mini breakout Edu box in the mail. Figuring out what to do with the boxes became our next challenge. My partner was Matt, from Wisconsin, he was awesome, and we immediately connected. By the time we got to Mountain View, our cohort had completed 4 mission cards, and probably exchanged more than 500 emails, hangout chats, and tweets. (We were a very connected chatty group)

The Academy:
We had so many powerful global leaders, heavy hitters, innovative speakers, and powerful conversations.. They just kept coming… We had sparks (inspirational talks), then sprints (speed work time), hypercamps (an edcamp 1st cousin), then reflections, dance battles, and magic tricks...we built prototypes, brainstormed ideas, had courageous conversations, and sometimes went really far outside of our comfort zones. And.It.didn’t.stop. and I didn’t want it to.  I was truly at a “nerdfest” and I loved every minute of  it. As I said earlier, “Mind Blown”!

Here are a few of the nuggets of knowledge I took away from the academy.

“He who knows others is wise, but he who knows himself is enlightened”

I learned about myself, and about the others around me. I found my tribe, and we made deep connections. Each innovator was placed on a team. We had a team cheer, name, symbol, and walk-up song. Our symbol was the Peace sign, so my team will be forever known as the Black Eyed P.E.A.C.E. (Passionate, Educators, Always, Collaborating, Effectively)


Our coach  Jay Atawood, introduced me to Derek Sivers. “what’s obvious to you, is amazing to others”. Often times we think our ideas are too simple, or just too obvious, and that everybody knows what we know, but the truth is they don’t, so you shouldn’t be afraid to share your passion, or hedgehog. Jay compared the fox and the hedgehog. A fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Take your skills, values, and passions, and find your hedgehog.


“Be like a postage stamp, Stick to one thing, until you finish it” - Josh Billings 

Jennie Magiera reminded me to always remember the Why. Why do we do what we do? Sometimes you can’t share the why, because it can be overwhelming to others. But it’s important to always "keep your eye on the why". Keeping your “eye on the why”, prioritize the things that matter the most. Your “Big Rocks”, - big ideas, and organize your “Pebbles”- the must-do weekly items that will support or get you to the “Why”, and then make time for the “sand” all that other unscheduled stuff, (social media, emails, etc.).

Gina Rosales, the Google X Marketing Manager taught me about Moonshot thinking- a series of amazing audacious things. Moonshot thinking is all about solving a huge problem that affects a lot of people by launching moonshot technologies that make the world a radically better place. In order to have moonshot thinking, you have believe that the impossible is possible. You have to learn to say Yes, and… instead of Yes, but… You have to fail fast, and kill the bad ideas quickly, to move on to the good ones.

Mark Wagner, Google Edtech Team, taught me that our future as educators is in the past, and this is only the beginning for our students, but by “blending science and technology with the heart of a teacher, you can make the future better”.


Kevin Brookhouser author of the 20 Time book,  talked about giving students more freedom in what they learn and how they learn it. If we show students that their work has value, beyond the work they are doing, and how it affects the lives of others in their community, their learning has purpose.

One of my biggest takeaways came from Danieta Morgan, an Instructional Systems Coordinator from New Visions for Public Schools in NY. She taught me about overcoming fear. Fears have the ability to break you and hold you back, and control your mind. Most of time these fears are just in your mind, and are not necessarily real. Resist fighting fears, but instead, dance and play with fear and let it take you wherever it wants to go. “We can resist fear and get hurt, let it run our lives, or we can “dance with it.”

I started off this journey with a vision to change the way learning looks in the classroom, I now realize a major part of that change involves a change in mindset. I am now inspired and full of creative confidence. Now the real work begins.

This journey has not been easy - in fact it has been quite the challenge, but through these challenges I have become better, and more inspired.- P.Brown

I thank you for being a part of my journey.

December 3, 2015

How Might We Create Experiences For Students To Encourage Creativity & Exploration During The School Day?



STEM Design Experiences empower students to be creators in the fields of Technology, Science and Engineering through hands-on learning.

Throughout the school year I will work with teachers to create STEM experiences aligned to district curriculum for students. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The goal of STEM is to provide students with real-world problem solving opportunities. STEM allows students to think outside the box with project-based learning. STEM experiences are about collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, delegation responsibility, and innovation. They are designed to help our students become 21st century digital age learners by creating, inventing, and designing through challenge based learning activities, and exploration.

These experiences have completely transformed learning in the classroom

November 18, 2015

TOP 10 Ways To Deliver The Worst PD EVER!


Now we are all professionals and have never actually done this during a PD session (well I hope not) but I have certainly had the feelings to do so.. So here we go, my top 10 ways to deliver the worst PD ever.. and no particular order….

November 5, 2015

Testing Giving You The Blues? Get Creative with EdTech Formative Assessments


I began to think about the 15 years in education and my various experiences. I remember being that shy little girl in my elementary class who would sometimes know the answer, or had a question, but didn’t feel comfortable speaking out. I used to experience so much test anxiety. I wish my teachers had access to the digital tools and resources available in our classrooms today. There are so many ways that kids can creatively show you their learning in a timely and efficient manner, and ways teachers can conduct assessments that take away the testing anxiety that plagues so many kids.