“What exactly do you do?”

I am often asked “what exactly do you do in your new job?”  I thought about this and decided to highlight some of the “things I do!”  Here’s a glimpse of the past week or two…


I like to be a resource for teachers!  I love coming to their classes and watching them teach and allow me to help (I call it “boots on the ground”) students with their needs.  I have been known to go into a class and teach the lesson (how-tos, whys, etc) of a new tech tool and let the teacher engage with students as well.  I went into some classes (thank you Mrs. Alms & Mrs. Ashford) that were working on a Science unit developing mindmaps or presentations of the different ecosytems (pictured here).

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In this classroom we gave a brief introduction to Powtoon and really just let the students run with it.  It was amazing to see what they created in a short amount of time and how creative they are with their presentations.  Great job Ms. Lamb!  I look forward to coming back to their class for their final presentations.

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Mrs. Neal’s class usually has a STEM challenge once a week.  This week I was invited to see how students solved the “bird beak challenge.”  Students worked in teams to determine what the best beak would be to pick up beans out of a plastic container.  Earlier in the week, in their Science unit, the students had compiled a Padlet full of useful information on bird beaks and which characteristics are associated with which beak.  Some groups used technology to find the best beak and then build it, others went straight for the supplies and just went for it!  The competition was very close, as only 3 beans separated the top 3 winners.  I loved watching them collaborate with each other and work as a team to come up with the best beak for the competition. #STEMchallenge

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Next up was a little professional development for myself…and this time…I took a few teachers with me!  I am part of a Technology Integration Specialists group that meets twice a semester and after attending in September I thought, I need to bring teachers with me next time!  I took 7 others with me from across the district and it was just as awesome as the last time.  We have group Q & A ‘edcamp style’ in the morning and do “speed geeking” in the afternoon.  So valuable!!  Here are some of the teachers networking and playing with Google Cardboard!  #lovegoodPD

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I had a chance to help out at a faculty meeting and help answer questions over Google Classroom, Gmail and Google Drive which was awesome.  Our teachers are really utilizing these tools and I’m excited to help alleviate some anxiety so teachers feel more comfortable using them.  Great job CRI presenters for your great work!

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The next PD opportunity took me to St. Louis for a Google Workshop!  It was very exciting to get to learn from some Google experts as well as hear what others are doing with Google in their schools.  The best part of the session was the panel at the end, which included some great students, telling their thoughts on the transformation their schools have made using the Google platform.  It was great to hear their thoughts and expertise.  We had an opportunity to collaborate as a district too on our vision so I hope to continue those conversations as we move forward.

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Another event I wanted to share with you was the follow-up from an earlier post.  I took the Color Alive app into a 1st grade class and they loved it!  (see earlier post)  Knowing that our Kindergarten friends would also be in love with this, I presented these apps at a collaboration session for K teachers and the result was amazing!  Mrs. I’s class used the app and created their characters.  They then used the ipad to take pictures of their character in a certain place in the room or school and then wrote a story about it!  Mrs. I let us come in when the students would be presenting their stories to the class and it was definitely the highlight of the day!  The students put their coloring, their pic from the app as well as their story under the document camera and stood in front of their class and read their stories.  It was awesome!  Check out these awesome pics and stories!  #kindergartenrocks

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The last event I want to share with you is a collaboration session taught by STUDENTS!  At our HS, we have a Tech Practicum class where the students help our tech guys and learn about tech needs, certifications, etc.  This group of guys is phenomenal.  They are some of the hardest workers but also have a great personality and are very knowledgeable (& pretty funny too).  I wasn’t sure how it would go over but I had these gentlemen be resources to 2 other groups of teachers (while I also had a group) on Google Drive/Docs.  The setting was more of a “playground” where teachers could come and work and have experts in the room in case they had questions.  These guys did a phenomenal job (survery results were awesome) and we are excited to have them as part of our team!!  Kudos to Mr. Howard who also supervises and leads them, he is a great teacher!!

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So, as you can see, I LOVE my job and love working all different groups of people!  So, I guess you could say…..”this is what I do!!”




1st graders with Color Alive!!

Yesterday I had the privilege of introducing Crayola’s Color Alive to one of our 1st-grade classes!  This is one of our pilot classrooms with Google Nexus Tablets.  They colored their sheets and it was soo exciting to see their images “come to life.”  The students were so excited and enjoyed making their image fly, land on people’s shoulders and even make the fire-breathing dragon seem friendly!  We talk about these students being digital natives and I use that word a lot….but all of it came to life today.  I walked in thinking I knew a lot about the app and how to make it work and left being shown 3 new things the app could do because the 1ST GRADERS FIGURED IT OUT!!  They are so quick to learn and adapt when they don’t know and they are not afraid to try anything! The next step is for them to use this image and write about it in their writer’s notebook AND to post their pics on Seesaw so all their parents can see!  This hour made my whole week!  I love my job!!

Here are some pics and videos from my experience!

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20151026_131700  Now we have come to life

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This video says it all…they were sooo excited (& you can see one was even a little frustrated…we worked it out though)…

Makerspace Anyone?


A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting our district’s Maker space.  I went in for 2 hours to watch students learn, create and engage in an awesome learning experience.   Our Maker space is located in the library on our Cedar Ridge Intermediate campus (gr 4-6).  Mrs. Matzat, our librarian has spent a ton of time, energy and money to make this space awesome for our students.  It was amazing to watch students learn, create and work at several different stations within the maker space.

Mrs. Matzat started the class with returning library books and checking out new ones.  The students then found their laptop, logged in and watched the video that corresponded to their station (Mrs. Matzat had pre-recorded these lessons and loaded them onto her website).  After they watched their video, they were able to enter the maker space!

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What is a Maker space?

“Maker spaces, sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs are creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. In libraries they often have 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools, and more. Here are some excellent resources for anyone thinking about setting up a makerspace in their organization” (Kroski, 2014).

Here’s some pics from my observations…


Waving Hand Station – students had to use these circuits and instructions to make their hand wave (see video).

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These students put circuits together to play Happy Birthday and eventually to sing to their teacher whose birthday happened to be the next day!!



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This young man made his airplane fly by using lego online and coding!  Exciting!!





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These students used a program called Scratch to code as well on the computers!


Osmo – Osmo is an educational gaming system that works with your iPad and four game apps to transform the physical space in front of the iPad into a digital game board. The games help increase problem solving, creative thinking, visual, spatial and abstract thinking skills. Compatible with iPad 2 and up and comes with four incredibly fun games: Tangram, Newton, Words, and Masterpiece.

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Students were using the Masterpiece area of the Osmo game.  They took a picture of themselves on the ipad and then it reflected it onto the paper where they drew themselves.


Sphero – this is a ball that is a programmable robot that changes colors, directions, speed, etc.  The students had to program the ball to go a certain distance, change colors and change directions.  Students needed to know quite a bit of science and math to make this work.

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Makey Makey – Check out what a Makey Makey can do by clicking here!

The students had a great time finding objects that would conduct so they could use the makey makey!!

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Playing the drums and the piano with their makey makey!

To top off the day, Mrs. Matzat’s 3D printer was delivered at the end of class!  WOW…what a day!!  Superb learning environment!

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What a week!

As I step back and reflect on this week, I am so excited about the possibilities at Branson!  I started my week finding some resources for classes to use to be able to annotate onto PDF’s.  Read and Write for Google and Kami are 2 new chrome extensions that work great for this!  For that teacher to be able to implement something that fast was amazing!

Tuesday, the high school principal and I went on a site visit to Ozark High School where I was able to see in action the power of technology in every student’s hands and the impact it can have on learning.  Engagement, higher level thinking opportunities and efficiency were results I saw in action.  We also got to take a look at the “tech space” where students and staff help make it all happen!  I am very thankful for colleagues that take time out of their busy day to meet with me/us (thanks Amy)!

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I finished my day meeting with another building’s tech committee, which was engaging and fun!  I’ve had the privilege of meeting with several buildings tech committees and am so excited about the possibilities for professional development for our staff this year.  As we plan for specific, relevant and important PD, I am thankful for teachers who are ready to help make it happen and principals giving it the time it needs/deserves!

Thursday I visited a 5th grade classroom to observe digital readers and writers notebooks and the lesson that was taught!  Students were engaged and had some amazing work!  They were so excited to share their stories with me.  It was also great to see the teacher engaged digitally and physically with her students as they worked in groups.  Bonus: I got an email from one of them during the class (when they were allowed to use email) as well!  Good stuff!!

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Friday may have been the highlight of my week though as I got to meet and participate in a workshop with Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger)!  I was planning to see him in November and was informed he was coming to Spokane, MO earlier and decided to make it happen!  I have followed him on Twitter for a while and am currently reading his book Digital Leadership!  He was phenomenal and I sat there shaking my head for most of the day agreeing with many of his ideas and thoughts!  (He encouraged us all to start ‘that blog we’ve been putting off’ as well…)

2 questions resonated with me from his talk…1) are your students prepared for THEIR world? and 2)  how do you define digital leadership?

This video describes an “active learner.”  I love her statement of  “my school has to keep up with me!”  Another example is this painting image….it begs the question, if the top image is school and the bottom image is life, are we preparing our students for THEIR world/life?   I know the Branson School District will continue to give students the opportunity to dream big, be themselves and be prepared for life!

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Digital Leadership – what does it mean to you?  I like these 7 pillars…

digital leadership


Wow…what a week!  Lots of things to think about….thanks for reading!



New Beginning…

As I reflect upon the beginning of my new journey, I realize we have some great people here!  I am thrilled to be meeting new people and faces every day and am thankful for the opportunity to serve in this great district!  I hope to continue to meet more people and get familiar with “the little folks” and their world (my eyes are opened each day to the elementary world after being a secondary teacher/administrator).  I am ready for this ‘new beginning!’  #blessed

I have also learned that teachers enjoy having new resources thrown their way as often as possible.  I am already being asked…”how can I do…”  “how do you do this….” “I didn’t know that could do this….”  However, I am struggling with the proper medium to give out that information…{ta da! insert this site}…so I am going to give it a shot!  I am going to make this the new home of any information/links/websites/blogs/etc I come across that I feel others would benefit from.  Feel free to subscribe to it and that way you will be notified when new content is posted.  I will do my best to organize it so you can find what you want easily and quickly!