Microsoft Innovative Educator

Microsoft Innovative Educator

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Early Birds

I will make this post brief. It's more like an announcement or PSA for all those life-long learners. There are two great conferences coming your way and now is the time to take advantage of the early bird specials for registration. And YES! I will be presenting at both. Hope to see you in 2018. This Blog Is Why the early bird gets the worm.

First up is the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). The conference dates are January 23-26, 2018 in Orlando, FL. You can save $100 with Early Bird registration until December 22nd.

Register Now

Next up is the 2018 Tomorrow's Classrooms Today Conference. The conference dates are May 18-19, 2018 at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. Register soon to take advantage of Early Bird pricing.

#TCT18 Early Bird Pricing

Check here for updates:

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Conference Wrap-Up: Edcamp Palmetto Rock Hill

Giving back. It feels so good. Today as I reflect on Edcamp Palmetto in my town of Rock Hill, there are so many emotions. At first, I was nervous and a little disappointed that we had to compete with so many other great events in the area. But, at the end of the day, it was PERFECT. I was honored to work with so many hard-working and dedicated educators (or future educators). And proud to hear the compliments of organizer Jed Dearybury (@mrdearybury1). This Blog Is Why you have not lived, until you have experienced an Edcamp!
                                           (Photo courtesy: Jed Dearybury)
Behind the Scenes
Usually in my conference wrap-up, I get to share about my experiences attending a conference or edcamp. This time, I have the unique perspective of assisting with planning the event. That is a lot of hard work! Today, as I looked around, I realized that this event was planned and prepared by teachers for teachers. Talk about empowerment.

                      (Photo courtesy:

In preparation for the day, there are meetings (love Google Hangouts), phone calls and visits to businesses, making tough decisions, and then putting it all together the day before everyone arrives. I am thankful for those businesses who jumped on board immediately and offered donations to support teachers. Many of them realize how hard teachers work and want to do what they can to show appreciation. Edcamps are free events and designed to be an informal day of professional growth. The hard-working people that make up edcamp teams are all volunteers. As a volunteer, I learned the art of balance. Trying to assist in planning and preparing as much as possible while still working two jobs, spending time with family, and being sick (two whole weeks). But it is so worth it when you see teachers and students walking away with freebies that will hopefully spark a new innovative lesson in their school or classroom.

This event was hosted at my alma mater, Winthrop University, and again I am bursting with pride. The staff was helpful, welcoming, and accommodating. Thanks to the student volunteers who worked so hard, we were able to get a lot done in a short amount of time. As issues presented themselves, they were on top of a solution immediately! A special shout-out to the PSTA student chapter board members at Winthrop. A job well done.

Edcamp Highlights
My favorite session of the day was "Pass It On" with veteran teachers, newbies, and students. The conversation was positive and inspiring as teachers new to the profession shared some concerns or questions. They were able to hear from veterans about some coping strategies. The conversation was so good that we were almost late to lunch! I heard one participant say as she was leaving the room: "Ooooh, that gave me chills." The stories about building relationships and passion ruled the session.

During the very first session, I floated among three rooms. Yes, you can do that at an edcamp! They were Flipgrid, BreakoutEDU, and Classroom Management. Flipgrid and Breakout allowed participants to be interactive and think about ways they could integrate some lessons in their own classrooms. I made my way to Classroom Management after peeking in at the Collaborative Notes (also a part of Edcamp). There were so many good ideas, strategies, and resources being posted that I just had to witness the conversation for myself.
                                 (Photo courtesy:

My goal for the next Edcamp is to visit the Ongoing Sessions: Cardboard Room and Game Room. In two edcamps, I have not had the chance to fit in all the goodness of the day. I also missed the GooseChase fun, but that's okay because I over-indulged at the last one.

I would love to hear about your highlights from the day! Share in the comments or tweet me @MsClassNSession.

Thank a Sponsor
If you attended Edcamp Palmetto: Rock Hill, don't forget to thank the sponsors. This day would not be possible without their support. I will try my best to list them here and hope I don't miss anyone (but I will keep updating, if I do):
Palmetto Partners
Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA)
Winthrop University
Founders Federal Credit Union
Discovery Place
Lily Sarah Grace
Sharp Business Systems
Makey Makey
Dave Burgess
Matt Miller (Author)
Monica Burns (Author)
its Learning
Goose Chase
EduMatch Publishing
The Pump House
Groucho's Deli
Legal Remedy
The Brass Tap
The Children's Cottage
Burgers & Barley
Leola & Simone
Elaine Miller, Primerica
Go Bigger, Go Home
The Paper Gnome
Faded Crown

Upcoming Dates
March 24, 2018-Columbia College
April 28, 2018-College of Charleston, North Campus

**Apply for an Impact Grant Edcamp Foundation

Saturday, November 4, 2017

30 Snaps in 30 Days

It's blogging time ya'll and I have lots to share! Since my last post, I have been super busy settling into a new year, a new school, and a brand new role. Who knew chromebooks required so much attention?! But, I am loving every minute of it and that makes me even more excited to share some of my experiences and insights. Within that time, I did participate (mostly) in another 30-day Twitter challenge. You know, I just love a good challenge. This Blog Is Why I don't mind sharing that in the middle of hectic days, it was hard to remember that "snap" of the day.

Day 1: 

Collaborative Coaches Meeting (Math, Reading, Technology)

Day 2: 

Another year of being an MIEE (Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert)

Day 3: 

Driving to my dream job and enjoying God's work

Day 4: 

Ready to crack open that LEGO WeDo kit

Day 5: 

A special visitor in the building today

Days 6/7:
I managed to squeeze in ONE blog post.

Day 8:
Professional reading

Day 9:
Completed Google's Digital Citizenship & Safety Course

Day 10:
Fire Drill!!!!

Day 11:
Writing challenge for my college students

Day 12:
First Lego League Mentor/Coach training

Days 13-15:
And then out of nowhere, SICKNESS

Day 16:
Hurricane Watch...Irma

Day 17:
Feeling better...Back to normal

Day 18:
I 💘 my job!

Day 19:
Book sharing on campus

Day 20:
Exciting news/announcements...coming soon

Day 21:
MAP Training

Day 22:
Another challenge for my college students

Day 23:
Wait! Did a student just buzz the office looking for me?

Day 24:
More training: Bullying Prevention

Day 25:
Training sessions completed

Day 26:
DonorsChoose project funded by Advancement Courses (@AdvanceTeaching)

Day 27:
Just another day at the District Office

Day 28:
Introducing Flipgrid

Day 29:
Thanks, Secret Pal!

Day 30:
Getting amped for Edcamp Palmetto! Join us.

While you're here, get your FREE ticket to Edcamp Palmetto and tell a friend!
Edcamp Palmetto ticket

Thursday, November 2, 2017

**For RDG 101 Students Only** Another Round

It's that time of year again! I am looking forward to sharing the blogging world with a new batch of learners. It is my mission to build a tribe of bloggers one blog at a time. This semester, students will have focused blog assignments based on readings and topics discussed in class. I hope you will take this opportunity to learn and grow from your peers with this unique platform. This Blog Is Why I am excited to see your blogging talents unfold and I look forward to sharing this experience with you. Shake off your nerves and have fun!

Here are a few tips to get you started!

Top 10 Blogging Tips:

  1. Choose a topic you are passionate about.
  2. Be different.
  3. Write like you talk.
  4. Include quality content in your blog.
  5. Include pictures-pay attention to details.
  6. Professional formatting-pay attention to details.
  7. Do your research. Look at other blogs.
  8. Fake it until you make it!
  9. Use your platform for good. Bring positive vibes.
  10. Build a Tribe. Connect and interact with others.
Remember, you will also post comments to your classmates' blogs. Use this post to help you easily find links to their blog pages.  Don't forget to add your links, add an image, keep it professional, and ENJOY! (Along with other requirements as listed on your rubric.)

Denny Julian Martinez *(New Link)*

Patricia Moore *(New Link)*

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Conference Wrap-Up: #EdcampPAL

Last year it was Edcamp Sparkle. This year, it was like a kick-off event to the Edcamp Palmetto mini-tour. No matter the name, it was still a great time! This edcamp holds a very special place in my educational heart because it was my first time experiencing an edcamp. And now, I am hooked. This Blog Is Why you should review my first Edcamp Sparkle experience and meet me at one of the upcoming locations (Rock Hill, maybe?!). See you soon.

What is an edcamp? You may be asking yourself this question. This is a FREE, professional development event for educators. Participants in attendance determine the topics for the day. When the sessions begin, everyone in the room becomes an expert or a part of the discussion. You won't find one speaker standing in front of the room ready to go with their Google Slides presentation or Microsoft Sway. Instead, educators share best practice ideas and resources. During the day, there may be a few anchor sessions that are pre-planned presentations or a demo of a product. And the best part of all, there are FREE door prizes donated by businesses who support educators. Whether you walk away with a prize or not, everyone is a winner. There is so much to gain in addition to that: confidence as an educator, a new friend/colleague, meeting your connected educator friends, or a new idea to implement in your classroom/school.
                                                            (Seesaw Ambassadors)

Equip. Encourage. Empower. These are the main tenets (as described by organizer Jed Dearybury) of EdcampPAL, where PAL = playing and learning.

Equip-Your edcamp experience will provide you with tools, resources, and strategies to meet the needs of your students. There's nothing like coming together with like-minded educators on a Saturday morning fired up for a great day of learning and growing.

Encourage-Those same like-minded educators will push you to new limits. At an edcamp you are encouraged to learn and try new ideas. Step outside of your box and think outside of THE box. Want to learn about ozobots or 3-D printers? Speak to the representative. Want to start up a Lego Lab? Talk to Ms. Alisha Bridges from Jesse S. Bobo Elementary. Have an arts-inspired idea? Come play and explore with the team from Lily Sarah Grace (@LilySarahGraceFund).

Empower-Last, but not least. Leave feeling empowered. Empowered to accomplish your goals. Empowered to help your students achieve. Empowered to pursue your dreams. And empowered to be a better you. A better educator who changes lives. That is the power of edcamp.

But wait! It's not all about learning. Remember the "P" is for playing. Have fun with the latest craze. That's right, a GooseChase. Download the app and prepare to be silly. I must admit, I was totally distracted during this year's edcamp because the GooseChase was so much fun. And more fun things kept being added by the minute (it seemed)! But it did make people interact  more. It was great to see people collaborating to get the most people at the Step and Repeat or completing the arm wrestling challenge. And if you weren't completing a challenge, then you were snapping a picture or recording a video for someone who was. Such great fellowship.

What's Next?
When all the fun is over, be sure to say thanks to everyone who makes the event possible. The hard-working team and the generous supporters. Also, if a session sparked an idea for you, don't forget to apply for an Impact Grant. From Edcamp Palmetto, check out the team and the sponsors:

Meet The Team

Thank The Sponsors

Impact Grant


Friday, August 4, 2017

DonorsChoose: Support for Military Families

On the Fourth of July, DonorsChoose enthusiasts were tempted with an offer we couldn't refuse. Just follow @craignewmark on Twitter and receive a $10 code for DonorsChoose to support classrooms with children from military families. Sounds easy enough. Right? As an educator and member of DonorsChoose, it is always great to give back. Thank you to @craignewmark for this campaign and I look forward to more great news about your mission. This Blog Is Why getting the code was easy, finding the project to support not so much.

So, how did I solve my problem? Interested teachers were encouraged to enter a contest with simple rules: 1) "Like" the MsClassNSession Facebook blogger page 2) Comment with a link to your project. View the video below to see the winner:

I wish I could do more to support these classrooms and help them get funded. One of the ways that I have been able to get my own projects funded is by sharing, sharing, sharing. So, as an additional show of support, I am sharing all of the projects entered in the contest through my blog and social media platforms.

Project Links: 
**Fully Funded** Project: Carpeto Equipo 
**Fully Funded** Project: Hands on Learning to Start Our Day
**Fully Funded** Project: Learning Innovative Techniques In Our Reading

Best of Luck for funding your projects! #kidsdeserveit

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Conference Wrap-Up: EdChange Global 2017

Have you ever experienced an online, global slumber party? That's what it was like to participate in the EdChange Global Classrooms 24-hour PD this summer. Although, I jumped on board at the last minute, I was still able to enjoy the fun from beginning to end (of course with some naps in between). One of my favorite components of the conference was the variety of formats they offered for presenters and audience members. Presenters could decide on a Twitter chat, Voxer chat, Google Hangout video, or Periscope video. What an awesome concept! This Blog Is Why PD in your PJ's has taken over my summer conference tour and I am loving it.

Stop #1
After the opening ceremony, participants created Google slides to introduce themselves to the learning community. I enjoyed using the presentation to see who would be joining in and to build my PLN. Here is a sneak peek at MY slide:

Stop #2
Next, I made my way over to Periscope to hang out with Jacqueline Rose (@JRose_Edu). I was amazed at how poised and focused her presentation/share was as she stood outside of her sister's birthday party! She gave some compelling examples about how to incorporate Snapchat in the classroom or for building your PLN.
Snapchat: Your Next PLN

Stop #3
My favorite session of the event was the Twitter chat with Kathi Kersznowski (@kerszi). As a new Instructional Technology Coach, I am always looking for new connections, tools, and resources. This special edition chat using the hashtag #iichat was just what I needed. I have included my list of must-haves from the chat:
Stop #4
Now even though the chat was my favorite, I had the most FUN with the "Name That Tune Challenge". As a true couch potato, this was right up my alley! I must confess that my connection kept going in and out, so I am surprised that I was able to hang in the competition as well as I did. Ha! There was one moment when I lost connection and came back just in time to guess the TV show theme before others. Felt like sliding into home base! This is definitely an icebreaker to add to my list. Try your luck with it:
Name That Tune

Well, the next morning, I was up early to host my own chat using the hashtag #MsClassNSession. It was not as successful as I would have liked, but I am grateful for those that popped in anyway. Special thanks to @cybraryman1 for stopping by to share his tech tools page.
Technology Pages
Chat Questions: "The EdTech Exchange"

If that's not enough, during my live session, I had trouble logging in! I eventually made it and tried my best to make up for lost time. I didn't want that setback to derail my energy and enthusiasm for my session. A huge thanks to all who attended. I am especially thankful to Peggy George. As I mentioned during my online chatting, she is always a great sidekick in those sessions.

Stop #5
Tuning in with Matthew Castilleja gave me the chance to learn about Google Keep and how to use it for keeping my notes, lists, and reminders organized. There were so many surprises about what I can do with this tool. Take a look for yourself:
Google Keep Presentation via MattEduTech

Stop #6
"Leading Digital Literacy" with Katherine Goyette (@kat_goyette) taught me how I want my next online session to go. I liked the way she interacted with and included the audience for feedback, questions, and discussion during the presentation. Even though I had to check out a little early for another online session, I still gained some valuable resources. In her presentation, she addresses skills for the new workforce, digital citizenship, and reluctant teachers.
Leading Digital Literacy

Final Stop 
The last session of the conference for me was all about student blogging. This is a topic that I am passionate about and it was an opportunity for me to learn from someone else. Dianne Csoto (@MViTDiTeach) shares student blog examples and other resources for those ready to implement this tool in the classroom.
Student Blogging

There was definitely a learning curve for me. The joys of technology. In the end, I would do it all over again. I am already looking forward to next year and being a part of the EdChange Global experience.

Thank you to the conference sponsors:
Participate, Hoonuit, CCS Arizona, Flipgrid, Chromville,, Kami for Schools, Nearpod, nepris, VoiceThread, JogNog, Buncee, Classcraft, TechSmith, NutKase Accessories, EduMatch, Deb Atchison, and William Jackson

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Conference Wrap-Up: Upstate Technology Conference 2017

This summer I was fortunate enough to participate in another conference mini-tour, which included my first solo online presentation (I think) for #notatISTE. You can see my post "ISTE Unplugged" for more details.  I am very grateful that I was able to participate in the full two days of #2017utc. Last year, I made it for day 2 only after driving/riding straight from the emergency room just in time to present. Luckily, we did not have to make a pit stop at the ER this year and had a wonderful trip. Again, I am excited to be heading back to Spartanburg in late August for Edcamp Palmetto at Converse College. I hope to see you there! This Blog Is Why I can fill you in on some of my highlights from the conference, in case you missed it.

First, I want to start with some tips for those who attend the Upstate Technology Conference:
1) Use the Sched tool. I know when you log-in and begin to select sessions, it tells you that this does not guarantee your spot in the session. That's okay! Sched is about so much more than that. You can read the presenter's description to see if the session is exactly what you need. Find out what sessions have been scheduled for the day. Get an email of just the sessions you have planned out. And the best part, after the conference, you may be able to get access to to the presenter resources that you missed and heard some great things about.

2) If you are not using Social Media (in this case, Twitter) then sign up today. I think this enhances the conference experience. You can get announcements, share photos, and connect with inspiring educators. How else will you know the best lunch times to avoid the crowds? Or, why those ladies are walking around with umbrellas? Or, that Burns and Byrnes (no relation) are available at the photo booth for selfies? Social Media can be an awesome tool in education, why not try it today and be ready for Upstate 2018.

3) Use this time to connect with your awesome PLN (Professional Learning Network) of friends and bond in person. Enough said.

Okay, back to business. So what did I learn or gain from the conference? My goal was to continue building my toolkit of resources to share with teachers in my new role as Instructional Technology Coach. Did I mention that before? Oh yeah. It's official! And UTC did not disappoint. I liked the interactive components of my sessions with Dr. Monica Burns (@ClassTechTips) and Shalonda Blakeney (@sblakeney3). In these sessions, we explored: Padlet, Nearpod, SparkPost, Google Docs, Slides, and so much more. It sounds like a lot to take in with just one hour each, but the best part is you can still connect with them on Social Media if you have follow-up questions. Remember, that was Tip #2. One of my take-aways for further research is to look at Alice Keeler's (@alicekeeler) book for Google Classroom: 50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom (List).

I also enjoyed the TAG session with Jenna Kay, Thomas McAuliff, and Bethany Whalen: 3 presenters and 3 tools in an hour. I already have my Screencastify extension added on my laptop. I learned about 4 different types of Kahoot quizzes and if you are new to Kahoot, you can just use the ones that are marked public. There is also a new Kahoot app if you want to have students review on-the-go. Finally, there was EdPuzzle. This is a great way to customize those video lessons and get an understanding of what students may be learning from the content by embedding questions. Take a look at this short video for why teachers use it in the classroom.

Ya'll, that was just  Day 1. Now, I am all about tips, tools, resources, and strategies. I gained all of that in just a few hours. So how could Day 2 be any better? I feel as though, Day 2, was tailored just for me: So you are a new tech coach? What are you going to do? Not only did I leave the conference with ideas to share, but I also walked away with some valuable information just for me. The new kid on the block. The new Tech Coach. Questions I didn't think to ask. What will the roll-out for one-to-one look like? How will I support teachers? What are possible PD (Professional Development) options? What will teachers need to know to help students? What will students need to know? I also loved being able to connect with coaches who have done it before, knowing that if I have questions, there is a support system there. Also, connecting with other new coaches as we learn the ropes together. Back to tips #2 and #3. Build your PLN. Grow together. Support each other.

Last, but not least, during my session (see the intro for more specifics about my session) I just want to acknowledge my  prize winners and the wonderful sponsors who continue to support teachers: @GoNoodle, @nearpod, and @Seesaw. A huge--THANK YOU!!

**@ = Twitter connections

Monday, July 3, 2017

GenCyber Teacher Camp 2017

Have you heard about the GenCyber experience? If not, take a look at the link below and find out if there is a camp near you. This is a prime learning opportunity for educators (or students) who want to know more about cybersecurity and careers in computer science related areas. Also, there are grant opportunities to host your own camp for students and/or teachers. This Blog Is Why I don't want to ruin it for the next cohort of teachers (Best of Luck in July), but YOU need to know what you are missing.

About GenCyber

As my time to participate in this week-long camp came closer, I began to get nervous. What do I know about Computer Science? How am I ever going to understand advanced coding and how to read or write it? I am not that familiar with ISTE Technology Standards or the Cybersecurity Principles. And math! I HATE math. Okay, hate is a strong word. I am not that fond of math. What have I gotten myself into??? Before our first day at camp, we received a secret message written in code (*see my spin-off example at the end of this post). We were also encouraged to complete the NSA Day of Cyber course. Intense! If you have students interested in a Computer Science/Technology career path, this is a great way for them to learn the requirements of various positions.

NSA Day of Cyber

So, that's what was going through my mind. What was it REALLY like? Five days of learning, collaborating, teamwork, team building, laughter, fun, aha moments, and ice cream. Of course, there is a great deal of content that is covered in those five full days with just the right amount of engagement mixed in; just the way you want to see a classroom operate. We had several guest speakers come in as well to share community resources and tell us about their first-hand experiences working in the area of Cybersecurity. Our featured guests included: Special Agents from the SC Law Enforcement Division, visitors from SC Cyber and GenCyber, local business owners for Breakout Rooms, an instructor from a local community college, members of an IT consulting firm, and an ethical hacker. I was intrigued to learn about ethical hacking and how this position fits into the business world. Each day you will learn something new and you will not be disappointed (at least not in my opinion). Team building was also an essential component of the camp. We were given a variety of scenarios and activities to incorporate key terms as well as the principles. We worked in teams, small groups, and with partners to complete these tasks. Some of my favorites were the infomercial, breakouts, and minute-to-win-it games. I am still trying to figure out how to eat a cookie off my face without using my hands! A requirement for our camp was that we had to eat lunch together and that was another opportunity for us to bond and get to know each other better. Our favorite lunch time ritual became getting our ice cream fix at the end of our lunch hour. We created some great memories during our camp experience and hopefully gained a new network of colleagues to continuously share lessons and ideas with during the year.

                                           (Voting sticks for our infomercial presentations)

Below are a few resources from the week. And I guarantee, this is just the tip of the iceberg from the resources we gained:

Even though you walk away with some amazing goodies, the best thing you will leave with is a wealth of information that you can share with students, colleagues, parents, family members all about staying safe and preparing for the future (and by the future, I mean now).

                                                         (Hot item from the camp store)

Ready to crack the code? Email your answer to for a FREE virtual Cybersecurity game.

*Secret Message: Dtz mfaj htrj xt kfw! It sty lnaj zu stb.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ISTE Unplugged

My #notatISTE  experience just keeps getting better and better. I hesitated at signing up to share an Unplugged Session. I actually waited until the last minute and decided to take the plunge. This Blog Is Why if you missed my session, no worries, you can check it out here.

A special thanks to Blackboard Collaborate, Steve Hargadon, Peggy George, Michelle Dragalin and everyone else who made this event possible. Of course, I enjoy meeting and interacting with my audience, but I enjoyed my experience with ISTE Unplugged LIVE. The launcher for the event, Blackboard Collaborate was super easy to use. I know I had some "technical difficulties" but those were strictly user error! I liked the ability to schedule your own event with a day and time to fit your schedule. I was also able to select my time zone which is really important when you are dealing with people coming from all over the country/world. After scheduling your event, there are links for training and a practice room. Pure genius! Once again, I could use the links to access the training at my convenience and enter the training room on my own time. I liked that the practice room allowed you to set your preferences, make audio adjustments as needed and then save them. The practice room provided a simulation for the actual presenter's room, so you knew exactly what to expect. Finally, on the big day, there were helpful assistants in the room to help,as needed, and make sure that your session moved along smoothly. Again, thank you Peggy and Michelle! I hope this continues to be a part of the #notatISTE experience and I look forward to another opportunity to present.

Below you will find resources from my session and a link to view the recording:

Google Slides Presentation

ISTE Unplugged Live: Welcome to the Blogger's Cafe (All Sessions)

LiveBinder (Courtesy Peggy George)

If you get a chance to watch the recording of my session, please complete the survey. Thanks!