Thursday, May 1, 2014

IL: Reflections on the year gone by

As this school year comes to a close, it is time to take a look back on all that you have accomplished.  As a teacher you have changed, your classrooms have changed and as an educator you have grown.  For your final blog response, we would like you to reflect on how this year has changed you and your classroom.  The "ups" and the "downs", the successes and the "I would do different next times".  Then talk about how you plan to continue your professional learning next year.  What resources have you developed?  What contacts have you made?  What networks will you take advantage of?

Thank you for a great year and never stop learning!


  1. I have really enjoyed being a member of this cohort. I feel I have made some great connections with teachers at other schools who will be able to help me continue to use technology in my classroom.

    I was a little nervous at the start of the year when I introduced my students (2nd grade) to blogging. I only had one parent in particular who was not supportive of this idea. I also made it an expectation that all my kiddos memorize their Google log-ins. Once the kids got going it became an important skill we used 1X or 2X a month. My kids would blog responses to reading instead of writing in their reading notebook. We also blogged with a classmate who had moved to Australia.

    I have also started using Google Forms for homework assignments. The kids LOVE being able to do their homework on line and using Flubaroo makes grading super

    Being a presenter at the conference made me really step outside my comfort zone. I am glad that I did it and learned a lot from my fellow presenters.

    Thanks everyone!

  2. It has been a great year of learning! I looked forward to our sessions and enjoyed learning from the "slams".

    We were introduced to so many tools that are invaluable to use in the classroom. We have the opportunity to model good use of technology and our students benefit.

    My google site has been in a constant state of change. I look forward to adding/subtracting to it before the beginning of the new year. I want to make my website a resource for the parents of my students as well as my student and will continue to enhance it so that it is a tool.

    My teammate and I developed a google intranet site that we use daily. It is a great resource to us as well as to our other teammates.

    I met some amazing teachers and feel that I am a little more tech savvy than I I was at the beginning of the year.

    Thank you for the opportunity to be a member of this creative group!

  3. At the 2013 Inspired Learning conference, I was amazed by all the resources we had right here in LPS that I didn’t know about and wasn’t utilizing to reach my students. I decided then that I wanted to more actively pursue opportunities to integrate technology into my classroom so I joined the Inspired Learning cohort and I am so glad I did. I learned so much from the leaders and the other members of the cohort and my classroom is better for it.
    One of the things I liked the best was learning how to make the most out of the Google Apps and extensions. Most of my students were already familiar with using docs, presentations and forms but the cohort taught me simple ways to make using these apps a part of our everyday classroom procedures. I also REALLY liked building my classroom hub, I know that I will continue to update and use this site throughout my career.
    I didn’t expect to get as much out of this year’s conference as I did last year. I think I was so focused on being a presenter this year that I didn’t think about also being a learner but that was a mistake.
    I had heard about the Inspired Writing cohort and I had thought about joining that at the end of last year so I was excited to attend the “Writing in a Digital Environment” session. f I wanted to learn more about the process and the impact it was having on student learning and achievement. I thought this presentation was amazingly honest. The teachers told us how much work was required to do this and how much it helped them to run their writer’s workshops. I so appreciated this as it helped me to realistically assess if I wanted to use these strategies in my classroom.
    I also loved how they explained the impact it was having on their students by showing student examples of writing. I am always looking for a way to meet my kids individual needs while still keeping an active learning community and some of the revising and editing strategies presented seem like a good way to do that. I also feel like this is a much better way to keep kids accountable for making meaningful revisions to their work; I particularly liked the highlighting in different colors for different changes. So often I think kids just say “yes, I edited and revised” without actually doing the work and using some of the tips I learned in this session would help me to avoid that.
    Perhaps next year I will join Inspired Writing :-)

  4. This has been a highly beneficial learning opportunity for me and have been recommending it for next year to all of my colleagues. The wealth of information I learned about creating a classroom conducive to 21st century learning was worth all of the Saturday work (ha!)

    I have taught 4th grade for 8 years and became pretty adept at using various technological resources with my students to increase their engagement and learning. But this year I began teaching 2nd grade and was nervous about how that might look and I wasn't sure where to begin. This class gave the tools I needed to get started and to give met the confidence that even our littlest ones CAN do it.

    My students blogged, published and shared their writing on Google Docs, navigated my classroom website with ease and interacted with learning videos to review important math concepts.

    For my future work, I envision working more closely with my second grade teammates on building upon what we've already done with our second graders. I know they can do even more than what we taught them to do this year. I will also be working in conjunction with our certified computer coach next year - a new position at our school. I have already discussed with him how we can get our second graders blogging for an audience outside their classmates. I would also like to partner up with another second grade classroom to facilitate transitioning to a wider audience - a group in which my students can also share their published writing.

    It was a great experience presenting at the Inspired Learning conference. At the beginning of this cohort I never thought I would create something that would be valuable enough that others would want to learn about from me - but as I became more knowledgeable in using the tools that were presentend to us, and I used them with my own class, I realized that what I was doing with my second graders was something that I wanted others in the district to see.

    We have so much talent in LPS and I feel honored to work in this district and be learning from and working alongside the best of the best.

  5. This has been an amazing year for me with my classes and now that I am wrapping it up I realize that I have obtained my goals, technology wise, due to the extra focus I have had because of this class.

    I had had the goal of building a reusable online hub for my classroom that would be the baseline for years to come and I feel that I am 80-85% of the way there. While I am not able to reuse the site exactly the way I wanted to I have deliberately created a template that I can copy and paste into a new Google site each year and will not have to "recreate the wheel" every time! This is exciting because the amount of time spent each week preparing for the next weeks lessons is sometimes overwhelming but now I have reduced that time overall. The hub that I have built will help students be successful by giving them access, outside of school, to all of the resources we have here at school. This empowers the students to take charge of their education and takes a ton of work off of my plate.

    Otherwise this class has been awesome for introducing me to new tricks and websites that I was not aware of (coverit live being one of them that I hope to use in the future) and other ones that I had forgotten about over the years. I have enjoyed getting to know my colleagues from other schools and have appreciated what Randy, Niki and Katie have done for us! I look forward to working with them more in the future!

    Next year I hope to be a more valuable employee in my building by offering my experience with technology where it is needed and plan on helping others to build successful classroom hubs for their students as well! Part of my job description is changing to include teaching STEM classes for 6th graders with one of my colleagues and I hope to use a number of the sites and tools we have learned about in this class in that new position. The goal, when all is said and done, is for the students to be the ones using and becoming literate with technology and I feel more prepared to help them get there!

    I hope you all have a wonderful summer, we have worked hard this year and deserve it!

  6. As I look back on my year in the Instructional Technology class I, at first, feel so far behind. Every time I look up there is a new acronym that people are throwing around as if everyone should know it and "why don't I?". But, when I look back at my original goal of being able to use google docs with better efficiency, I am very pleased with the progress I've made. At the beginning of the school year I tried to do a google presentation and just couldn't figure it out. By the end of the year I was all over it. If you view my presentation on closed captions you will think I went crazy with being able to draw red arrows on my slides. Really, I was pointing out important features on the slide. I was happy that I didn't have to add the arrows with a Sharpie! One of the classes in which I worked had an awesome teacher who used technology for almost everything. I was able to get access to students' work, make comments, check progress, etc. It was all so valuable. Now I can working on a web site that I can get up and running for next year. It will provide students and parents support in the out of school hours (of which there are many) during the school year! I am hoping to continue my technology usage, always knowing I will be a few steps behind, but using it as a tool of access and efficiency for my students. Thank you to all who encouraged me throughout the school year. I am awed by the technological gurus who work in my midst!


  7. The 2013-2014 school year has been a year of amazing growth for me because of my involvement with the Learning Cohort. My goal was to learn about technology and how to incorporate it in my math classes. Along the way, I realize that the students could use Google Docs in math class. The students used it as a tool to monitor their progress on math skills and standards and then shared their progress with the parents. Also, I developed a classroom hub that really reached out to parents and students while helping me stay organized.

    Back at our first class meeting I thought I might be in over my head as I had never used Google Docs and the only technology I had available to me was the smart board and my desktop computer. As I reflect over the year, I realize how much I have learned and how this has changed the instruction in my classroom. I have been able to post help videos on my hub, assign lessons for students that were not at school, and provide copies of assignments. In class, I was able to differentiate because the technology allowed for access to enrichment for some and additional help for others and gave me access to Edmodo, Desmos calculator, and Padlet for class discussions. While I may not be a technology guru, I have really made progress this year.

    As I transition to a new position next year, I look forward to using all the resources I have been introduced to in my new position. I appreciate all the help provided by the IT staff and our leaders in the cohort. This was an awesome experience and I would highly recommend others enroll in the Inspired Learning cohort.

  8. The technology cohort enabled me to focus on technology this year within my second grade classroom. My eyes were opened to what was available with technology, not only for my second grade students, but for all learners at every grade level. Learning Google and all of its caveats has been a wonderful addition to my skill set. I can take what I have learned this year and apply it to future years in teaching, and I feel comfortable maneuvering along the technological highway to discover more!
    Being given time to create, process, and collaborate has been wonderful. The year passed quickly, it seems like so long ago that I was first setting up my classroom hub! I would plan to do more in-depth assignments with my blog next time, and I will feel more comfortable with this, as well. I plan on staying in touch with the colleagues I have worked alongside this year so that our students can connect, too. One beauty about technology is that we can stay connected very easily!
    Seeing all of the presentations and hearing about how different educators integrate technology has certainly been inspiring. Thank you!

  9. While this was my eleventh year teaching, it was my second year of teaching and being a mom. It was also my second year job sharing my fourth grade position. I do feel that I have improved in my roles this year! It was easier to juggle the obligations of work life and home life, and to be more collaborative with my team at school. Obviously, some of what made it easier was that it was no longer brand new....and of course, a little more sleep. :-) However, taking this class definitely added to my improvements in the classroom and to feeling re-energized and invested in my work. Using our class Google Site and Google Drive as communication tools for kids was a huge positive. My students continue to be so engaged by technology and using their netbooks. It has been amazing to see their overall growth and success. As their confidence in their own abilities have blossomed, their learning has soared! They are more engaged in writing and ss/science and they absolutely love the collaborative tools that Google offers. They help each other, they explore and they seek answers independently, taking responsibility for their own learning. One student in particular, is quite memorable, as she started her own club called, "Caring with Creativity" to help encourage our community to come together to help others. She even created her own blog site for the club. It's students like her that help us teachers keep ticking.

    In the future, I would like to use our class Google Site to help better link parents to what is happening in the classroom. I would also like to become more savvy with some of the tools I learned about at the Inspired Learning Conference. I would like to have kids collaborating even more, with more structure and I would still love to add Cover it Live into my lessons. Also, I would like to explore more ways to integrate the SMART board and technology into my math lessons. Luckily, I feel that my resources are amazing! Randy is always willing and available to help and Katie will be our computer coach next year, which is truly wonderful for our school. I also feel that LPS has so many highly effective teachers that I have connected with through professional development or on Twitter. Therefore, my problem isn't lack of ideas, it is lack of time to implement them all! I am glad I participated in this class, as I definitely learned a lot and I know that the technology world has so much more to offer.

  10. This year was exciting for me as a professional. I have completed my Master's in educational Technology as of Friday May 9th. I am extremely grateful to Randy who has mentored me through this program, but especially the Inspired Learning cohort. Writing papers and technology plans wasn't nearly as affective as this cohort. I have been giving amazing new tools and ideas that I began implementing in my first grade classroom. Realizing our 21st century learners are digital natives and trusting them to use technology to enhance their learning was neat to see. I saw 6/7 year olds blogging and publishing their stories in Google docs. I am excited to implement more technology each year as my trust for first graders increase. I have also been able to take my learning and help my collegues set up their own website as well as using more applications in Google. I loved this cohort because I was able to form great relationships with other teachers within the district and present at the IL conference and in Copper Mountain at InnEdCo in June. I know this is an exciting time for us and thank the IL cohort for believing in our talent for technology inteh classroom.

  11. As I reflect upon this past year, I’m pleased with my growth my students’ growth. I tried a few new things, some of those integrating technology and others not. The outcomes from my students were much improved.
    I tried using technology to create the final product on stories my students write. After a unit learning about self-esteem and it’s effect on learning, my students write and illustrate a children’s book that we then read to elementary students. In the past, the end products looked very homemade with ribbons and yarns holding construction paper together. By using Popplet as a storyboard aid, then PowerPoint to upload illustrations with text and finally publishing through Shutterfly, the students’ end product was of a much higher quality than in previous years. The students’ writing level increased proportionally to the quality of the end product. I will definitely be keeping this project!
    Another new effort for me was trying Twitter as a method of staying in touch with the students. I found that not all students had Twitter accounts and were not willing to get them. With only 2/3’s of the class participating, the idea of communication with the class was lost on some. I also found the importance of clarifying that the students need to ‘Follow’ the class Twitter and that I needn’t ‘Follow’ the teenagers. TMI! I may try this tool in the future to introduce the kids to following for academic reasons and not just social.
    I really used the paperless class concept this past year. I created a new Google website for my class only to have access. There I posted all assignments and communications. Students submitted almost all of their work on the Google Docs accounts. I found the online access great, but also online grading does take a little getting used to as well as instructing students on naming conventions. It’s difficult to locate the assignments if they are all named differently. Adjustments need to be made as some of that piece was cumbersome. I am so excited to use Doctopus (demonstrated at the Inspired Conference) as my online assignment and grading organization tool next year. I think I will see great improvements in the ease of online work. I like using Google Docs as a method of linking assignments and lessons, but I think I will change the format a little next year so it is easier to read and access. assignments by date.
    The use of my class blog and student created blogs enhance communication. I think I have improvements to make their as far as reaching greater audiences.
    My ‘ups’ were far greater than my ‘downs’ this past year. Communication with both the students and the parents was so much easier than in the past with a simple link to my website. I believe student learning was richer and deeper because of the technology I used. Collaboration on student projects was enhanced. Students were able to demonstrate their critical thinking and creativity more easily.
    Through the Inspired Learning Cohort, I have added new resources to my “bag of tricks” and plan to continue using them:
    *following colleagues and educational gurus on Twitter, blogs and Google +
    *using Scoop-It to stay on top of current articles
    *learning new tools and new thinking at the InnEdCo conference networking there
    *accessing the Inspired Writing Toolbox and teaching my students to utilize that gift!
    *intentionally planning learning outcomes that use technology as a part of the thinking process.
    This has truly been a rewarding experience and I would highly encourage fellow teachers to participate. Many thanks!

  12. This has certainly been a whirlwind year (as they always are) and I am thankful to have made it through. I have the privilege every year to teach not only my own classes but to also work in the classes of many of the talented teachers at Powell. This year was no different, I not only was able to gain the knowledge from my classmates in Inspired Learning, but also to work side by side with Marnie Jordan. I have learned so much from both my classmates and her and I am thankful for the fresh perspective on teaching this has provided.

    In my own classroom I felt more confident to try out different technological tools and try things in new and innovative ways in order to engage and prepare students more fully.

    Next year I will definitely continue to maintain my classroom site as well as use the site that Peggy and I created for our team. Both of these resources make my life at work more seamless. I enjoy having places to keep everything whether it be professional or for my classroom. This year I also had students experiment with both Prezi and WeVideo and next year I would like to work more with those tools and help students build confidence in using both as I know they are expected to know and use them in their general education classes. I found this year that my small group classes were a great time to try out some of the tools they were being asked to use. My students were able to build confidence in the small group setting and then take their knowledge back to the general education classes.

    Next year I will also continue to look to my colleagues within Powell to provide direction and ideas. I will be working with a new set of teachers and I look forward to seeing the ways they engage students with innovative technology tools. I also am pleased that I now have more confidence and tools so that I can offer suggestions for supporting student's learning through technology.

    I will say the most valuable part of this class was being given time (our class sessions) to work with others and ask questions. I rarely have the time for that in or out of school. So I really valued the time we were given to try new things, experiment, etc. Thank you so much for all the support!

  13. I am so thankful my teammates talked me into joining the Inspired Learning Cohort. I have learned a tremendous amount about the possibilities technology has to offer and am in awe at what teachers are doing in this district! I have learned to not let the frustration of technical difficulties make me give up. I know I can figure things out if I just relax and keep trying. I have learned to not be afraid to ask for help and that I'm certainly not the only one who feels intimidated at times.

    What I love about this career is that each new school year is an opportunity to start over, change focus, set goals, do better! This year was all about getting my feet wet and gaining confidence and this cohort was just the encouragement, support and motivation I needed. Next year I plan to continue practicing and experimenting with technology and all it's possibilities as I find new ways to engage students, and use these tools to make my job easier and manage my time better. Next year I plan to continue using my Classroom Hub for communication and Google Forms for my homework reading log. I want to be better about our Blog and keeping up with moderating comments, and I want to keep finding opportunities to use Google and all its tools to enhance my lessons in all subjects. I want to be very thoughtful about how I use all these new ideas and resources I've gained to help my students show what they know and be engaged, creative, fearless learners! I also want to continue expanding my network and taking advantage of the experts and resources I have available to me. This next year will be a completely different experience for both me and my incoming students. I am so excited to keep learning and growing with them. But first, I think I'll take a few months of relaxation:). Happy summer to you all!


  14. Teresa Vigil- May 19, 2014
    1. How has this year with Inspired Learning changed my classroom?
    For the past three years, I have felt stagnant in several areas in the implementation and practice of technology skills within the classroom and in my organization, lesson planning, and communication with students and parents. Upon hearing about the Inspired Learning class, I knew that this was the class to assist me in not only informing me of the tools and skills available, but also the opportunity to learn these skills and implement them into my classroom, organization, and communication. Communicating with my students online in a clear manner keeps my students accountable and informed along with their parents. Documentation of the days agenda and homework is easily accessible for all parties involved and a great communication tool for students who are unclear on homework assignments or have missed school. A classroom Hub keeps all of us connected including my colleagues, students, parents, etc. The potential for students to review lessons, make-up notes, takes quizzes, receive additional support and interventions is incredible. The possibilities to further the connection between all involved will be amazing.
    2. What were the “ups and downs” --the successes and/or the things I would do different next time?
    Successes and and failures are just a part of learning and I definitely had my share of overcoming the challenges, obstacles, and frustration of setting up a classroom Hub. The jargon, the organization, and feeling comfortable with moving from one site to another on Google docs was at the least exasperating and at best confusing. Once I got into the swing of things along with overcoming my fears and frustrations, and finally asking for HELP, support, and one-on-one assistance, my understanding improved, the organization piece started to fall into place. Definitely, at the beginning, I would seek assistance and good advice on scaffolding my organization to fit my content, my needs and my style.
    3. How will I continue my professional learning next year?
    Next year, I will continue using the technology team, teammates in Inspired learning to continue on my quest to improve my technology and communication skills with my students, parents and colleagues. Furthermore, I will continue to learn additional skills to improve my classroom Hub. In order for me to move forward with my professional learning, I will continue to seek support from the technology team, skilled colleagues, and my inspired cohort members.
    4. What resources have you developed?
    The best resource I have developed thus far has been a Classroom Hub which is and will be the Hub and focus of my teaching, my student’s learning and the communication between us. Resources such as lessons on content, assignments, additional support, tests/quizzes will be accessible through my classroom hub. Furthermore, I have developed tests/quizzes using google forms and flubaroo
    to assist me in taking a snapshot of my students learning and understanding of the material and giving immediate feedback to the students.
    5. What contacts have you made?
    I have made numerous contacts with fellow teachers throughout the district and also in my own school. Not only have we formed a collaborative team at my school with my cohort from Inspired Learning, but I have been able to receive additional support, knowledge, and skills from each person’s unique strengths and talents. In addition, I have made new contacts with other teachers in different content areas that have assisted me in creating google doc forms along with flubaroo for tests/quizzes.
    6. What networks will you take advantage of?
    The Inspired Learning network will be primary source of support along with my cohorts and the technology team. Also, I will continue to take advantage of available classes from the district and outside of the district to continue my quest to improve my skills and further my classroom Hub.

  15. 1. How has this year with Inspired Learning changed my classroom?
    Inspired Learning changed my classroom in several ways. First, it gave me the confidence to use Google Documents and my Classroom HUB for assignments, projects, and student collaboration, such as editing, revising and turning in of student work. I also realized that this makes life a little easier when a student needs another worksheet because they lost the first one. Secondly, I was able to communicate with parents in a more practical way, showing them the documents that were created for and by their child. I could say with confidence, "Look on my classroom HUB on Google Sites, find a specific Unit, open it and find the worksheet or homework that was assigned." Thirdly, using these tools was a practical way to document what I have done with students by way of assessments, assignments, differentiation of assignments, and final projects.
    2. What were the “ups and downs” --the successes and/or the things I would do different next time?
    In reviewing other teacher's Classroom HUB websites, I found that everyone has a different organizational style. At first I made my HUB way too confusing, even for me. When I streamlined the HUB, by linking documents, using Google Documents to type the student work and by linking other resources, such as Learn Zillion, for students' review of skills, I felt I had a much better resource for myself and the students and parents. I also learned how to type up an Agenda page that scrolls for each week so absent students can find what they missed and get caught up on their work.
    3. How will I continue my professional learning next year?
    I plan to continue to meet with my teammate, Teresa Vigil-Valentine, to streamline our CORE calendar and consolidate CORE documents and communication with students and parents. I will also meet with Amy Atherton during our 8th grade PLC meetings to make better use of programs like Fluberoo for testing and Blogging about books for independent reading.
    4. What resources have you developed?
    Val Grenawalt and Stephanie Fast are good resources for the grammar sites and videos they have developed for their language arts classes. Using Google forms for student final turn in of written assignments will be on the top of my list for my Classroom HUB as well as creating links to grammar and vocabulary websites that will be helpful for my students' growth.
    5. What contacts have you made?
    Dana Levesque, Randy Stall, and Cynthia Kirchner will be the main people I will contact at the district level. Amy Atherton, Jen Chavers, Stephanie Fast, and Val Grenawalt are EMS teachers in my building that are knowledgeable and are willing to share and help me when I need it.
    6. What networks will you take advantage of?
    The teachers that I worked with in the Inspired Learning class this past year will be part of the network of LPS teachers who are using technology. I also plan to continue to work on my classroom HUB with the teachers at Euclid who are willing to collaborate with me.

  16. I am so glad that I took this class! I feel what I learned has helped me become a better teacher and communicator with parents. Many of the lessons presented to us I still want to implement into my classroom--Google Forms, Cover It Live, Google Presentations, etc...I also want to learn more about the resources out there for my Smart Board. I am so excited to have Katie as our computer coach, as I feel she will be such an asset in teaching myself and my students the ins and outs of Google. My students had a blast learning Google Drawings and I believe there are endless opportunities with that program.
    My Google Site made my life easier with parents this year. All of the information that they needed was right on the site. The parents appreciated having that resource and the monthly newsletters I posted. Next year, I want to incorporate student use of the site, not just parents.
    I was always afraid of technology, but with the right support and not being afraid to ask, technology is pretty exciting. I look forward to what my students and I will learn next year. I know with technology, my students are always actively engaged. Sometimes I feel like pulling my hair out, but I just need to take a deep breath and remember it is only a computer! :)
    Thank you for all of the great ideas, learning, and conversation. I really valued this class.

  17. This Inspired Writing class has pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. I have been comfortable using technology in my classroom for a while, but I always fall back on the same tools and programs. This class has made me aware of what else is out there for my classroom - both things I have forgotten about and things that are new. With all the other demands of the new standards and curriculum that have been started in our buildings technology had been going to the back burner. This class made me remember that technology is not something that adds more to my plate, rather it can make things easier and more exciting for my students as we continue to work towards the new standards.

    The ups have been getting my Google Site into better condition and seeing my students catch onto the technology and problem solve on their own. I loved seeing my students choose technology when given a choice on what to create for a project or how to present something. The downs still seem to be the time management and remembering that I need to "go slow to go fast". I need to remember that it is okay to go slow in the beginning so I can get all my students comfortable with the technology, because then it will go faster later in the year. I still need to find a better way to get my students to memorize their username and password and sign on quickly. :)

    The collaboration has been great and I look forward to continuing this collaborating with other teachers across the district. It is great to see what they have been doing in regards to technology and helping their students learn.