Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Perfect Holiday Gift

Still struggling with what to get your loved ones this holiday season? Having trouble finding the nerdiest gift in town? Have we got the solution for you!

Introducing Tat-tastic by Tech-tastic Blog Corporation. Here you see our first model, the PISD Hotspot logo in the small size.

Order soon because this hot holiday item will be flying off the shelves and not even Santa Claus will be able to get them. But don't take our word for it; look at these testimonials from our customers:

"This is about as nerdy as it gets." - Matt Frey, executive director of instructional technology

"That's very special, isn't it?" - Ronnie Cantu, director of multilingual services

"Hmmm." - Stephany Sipes, LOTE coordinator

Just think of how your special someone will react when they find this Hotspot gem under the tree! Our elves are standing by to take your order.

OR you could make this yourself! Here's how:

  • Find temporary tattoo paper such as this or this.
  • Create your custom design (you'll switch it to reverse print later.)
  • Print on the temporary tattoo paper with your home printer.
  • Apply the custom temporary tattoo according to package directions.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Password Protected: Smart Tips for Managing Passwords

Password Protected

 by Guest Blogger Allison Venuto

If you’re anything like me, you have an overwhelming number of passwords and supreme difficulty remembering them.  Upon arrival at a login screen, you regularly click “reset my password,” you reset the password, you get into the account, you do the work you need, you swear that you’ll remember what you just entered, and you promptly forget the password.  So the next time you need to get into that account, you have to start the process all over again. 

Or.  Is that just me?

Here are some ways I’ve found to help me stop the vicious circle:

1.   Update password updates.  When a website requires a password update, immediately update your password chart with the information.  Remember.  You will forget.

2.   Keep all passwords in one location.  Write passwords on one paper and keep the paper under lock and key.  Another option is to use a free electronic system such as KeePass or Last Pass 4.0 to hold the information in a secure manner.      

3.   Make unique passwords.  Use the first three letters of the website to help you make each password unique.  For example, if your base password is:  People9$, your password for gmail would be People9$gma. 

Here’s to less time clicking the “forgot password” button and more time on making memories with our students.

Allison Venuto currently assists with the AVID program.  She attended ETSI* during Summer 2016 and yells significantly less at her computer screen now. @Mrs_Venuto

*ETSI: Plano ISD's Ed Tech Success Initiative summer institute

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's Hour of Code Week!

The week of December 5-11 marks the 4th annual Hour of Code, where students around the world are encouraged to learn and experiment with simple coding activities. The website began in January 2013, and over 300 million students in 40 countries - who have written over 20 billion lines of code! - have participated to date. is particularly dedicated to encouraging girls and underrepresented minorities to participate.

According to an article from Computer Science Education Week, 90% of parents would like for their students to learn computer science, but only one in four schools teach programming. Participating in the Hour of Code is a great way to get your students started with coding! Here are some resources to help you get your students started in coding.

Follow (and contribute to!) the hashtag #HourofCode on Twitter  to see the latest coding news this week and in the future. Remember, your Instructional Technology team is always here to help you with resources, suggestions, classroom help, and any other encouragement you might need to experiment with coding or other technology ideas. You can do it - and so can your students!

Monday, November 28, 2016

The NEW Google Sites!

For those of you who are Google Sites fans (or foes) and have been waiting for this long anticipated update, the wait is over!  This is a MASSIVE change from the previous version and is worth a second chance if you felt the original Sites was too intimidating.  Plano ISD teachers already have access to start making their own beautiful websites immediately and without too much of a learning curve.  I've included excerpts from G Suite for Education Google Sites cheat sheet.  Please click here for more in depth instructions.

Please feel free to contact any of us in Instructional Technology to help you start developing your own Googlelicious websites.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

YouTube Live - Communicate, Collaborate, and Connect with this Awesome Tool!

YouTube Live is a game-changer when it comes to communicating, training, collaborating, and connecting. You can host a "Live Stream" or schedule an "Event". Both allow you to save and edit (YouTube has excellent video editing tools!) the recording as well as live chat with participants. Here are a few ways to use YouTube Live:

News Flash: Google Hangouts on Air has moved to YouTube Live (no longer on Google+). 

You can still do what you need to do, like schedule recordings or just record your how-to video with no audience, using Live Streaming "Events". 

IMPORTANT Message for Plano Educators
On the Plano ISD network, you will be unable to install the encoder plug-in to use Stream-Live at the present time (but you can do it at home!). However, it will work just fine if you create an "Event" rather than Stream Live.

Getting Started

1. Go to and sign it to your PISD YouTube account using your PISD email address and network password. 
2. Click "My Channel" on the left of your screen. 
3. Click "Video Manager" button in the top center of your screen. 
4. Click "Live Streaming" on the left and select Events (see image above).
5. Click "Schedule New Event". 
6. Enter a title, when you'd like the even to start (either now or later), a description, tags, and then be sure to select the correct privacy setting for your webinar:
    • Private - only you or specific people that you invite.
    • Unlisted - only those who have the link can access it; not searchable on the web.
    • Public - anyone can view and anyone can search and find it.

Example of YouTube Live Event settings

7.For Plano people, under "Type" be sure to select "Quick - using Google Hangouts on Air" as this option does not require the encoder plug-in. 
8. Click the "Go live now" button. 
9. Click "Start Broadcast" in the hangout. Now you're live!
10. Share the link with others by clicking the Links button on the bottom right of your Hangout. 

Copy and paste the YouTube link into an email or however you're sharing it.

11. If you'd like to have a chat going at the same time, grab that same "YouTube Page" link from step 10 and paste it into a new tab in your browser. You'll see the chat box on the right. Viewers can enter questions/comments in the chat box ONLY if they sign in to their YouTube account. Otherwise, it will not be visible. Read more on how to archive the chat below.   

Give it a try! 

Here is a short how-to video how to start a YouTube Live Event. Remember to select your audience, either Public/Unlisted/Private. 

More good step-by-step instructions for when you're ready to start your YouTube Live event.


To give credit to participants for attending/watching, check out these options:

  • Chat - Ask participants to type their name in the Chat box at some point during the broadcast so you can take attendance. BEFORE you finish the broadcast, click the chat pop-out button and print the chat record (or print to PDF). 
  • Form - Ask participants to complete a short Google Form at the end of the broadcast so you'll have the attendance in the Google Sheet. An exit ticket like the one below. Just copy and paste the link into your chat or presentation.  
YouTube Live Exit Ticket screenshot
Link to Form:

Contact Us

There are many more tips and tricks to YouTube Live Events. I was trying to keep this blog post short 'n sweet. Please feel free to contact any one of us in Instructional Technology to help you with perfecting your YouTube Live skills!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why Nearpod is an App You Will Love

If you haven't discovered Nearpod yet, your students might be missing out on some great teacher-student collaboration opportunities. Nearpod is a web 2.0 tool that allows you to push a presentation to your students and keep them on the same screen with you. It has amazing potential both as a presentation tool and an assessment tool, as you can embed polls and other formative assessment tools throughout the presentation.Your students can respond to a prompt by drawing or writing the answer to a question, you (and only you) can see in real time the answers that your students provide, giving you instant feedback on formative assessment. Additionally, you can choose to anonymously show a student's work as an exemplar to the rest of the class.

In addition to making an in-class presentation more interactive, Nearpod also allows your students to view a presentation for homework or as a review. Nearpod is "device agnostic," meaning that it works flawlessly on any device a student might use - iOS or Android phone or tablet, laptop, desktop, Chromebook, etc. There is a paid version, but the free version will give you plenty of options.

Below are some sites and videos to help you get started. Check out Nearpod today!

Nearpod Getting Started Guide

10 Ways to Use Nearpod in the Classroom

Nearpod Instructional Videos Playlist

Nearpod and Google Classroom Integration:

Happy Nearpod'ing! As always, feel free to contact one of your friendly Instructional Technology Specialists if you have any questions about this fantastic tool.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Google Sanity Savers

For this week, let's pour ourselves a cup of tea or coffee and decompress. Educators are constantly bombarded with new technology tools and hardly any time to dig deep into what they can and can't do.  The details and intricacies of a tool are what makes it beautiful, powerful, and innovative.  As I am making my way around the district helping the best educators in the world implement GAFE (Google Apps For Education), common misconceptions or unknown details are brought to light.  I want to share some of the most "I didn't know it could do that!?!" items.  If you want step by step instructions, please contact us in Instructional Tech anytime or check out Atomic Learning.

Google Drive

Owner Status

  1. The owner of a file has the ability to delete at anytime.  
  2. If the owner leaves the district, you have 90 days to make a copy of the file before your access is terminated.  
  3. The owner can transfer ownership to another person at any time.
  4. Check who the owner is by making sure your drive is set to list view and you will see a column titled owner (if you are in My Drive) or shared by (if you are in Shared With Me).

Shared With Me

  1. No, you can't organize within Shared With Me. Sorry.
  2. Yes, you can use the powerful search engine (see below) to pull up files in Shared With Me very quickly. 
  3. This does require a mind shift change and some openness, but you will be happy with the results.
Click on the tiny drop down arrow on the right hand side to access search.


  1. Quickly recall files you have recently opened.
  2. See tips under Shared With Me :-)

Removing/Deleting Files

  1. If you are the owner and choose to remove a file, all collaborators still have access to the file.  To permanently delete the file for everyone, you must go to Trash and then Delete Forever.
  2. If you are NOT the owner and choose to remove a file, you are just removing your access to a file without affecting anyone else. No need for the second step of Delete Forever.

Sharing Settings (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc)

  1. Link to share is not usually necessary, because the collaborators will have the file under Shared With Me.
  2. Who has access is where you control who can edit, comment, or view the file. This is also where you can transfer ownership.  You can even put an expiration date on the accessibility of the file. The default setting is always private.
  3. Invite people - start typing the email address and the intended person will appear.
  4. Owner settings - the first checkbox prevents people who have edit access from changing other's access or the ability to add new people.  The second checkbox prevents people who have commenting or viewing access to download, print, or make a copy of your file.

Google Forms

  1. The link you use to send to recipients will be found when you click Send and then the link icon at the top (see below).
  2. Make a tinyurl if recipients have to physically type the link into their web browser.  You will have the ability to make a custom name instead of nonsensical letters and numbers.  Be careful when making a custom name because you can't alter name later.
  3. Automatically collect respondent's usernames if they are Plano ISD staff or students by checking the box under Send form or within settings.

Hopefully your life will be a little easier after learning some of these sanity savers.  If you come across any tips that would help your fellow educators, please feel free to let any of us know in Instructional Tech and we will blast it out.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Professional Learning in Your Pajamas with Atomic Learning

Want to get some PD hours at your convenience from any location? How about some online learning opportunities for students? For FREE? It’s totally possible with Atomic Learning.

Atomic Learning has online video tutorials and training sessions covering a wide range of topics for staff and students such as Google Classroom, Excel, Spelling City, Google Drive, Digital Citizenship, Effective Note-taking, and much more.

You can find videos in five ways:

Discover - A user selects general topics from a list and that will filter specific tutorials into the Discover area.

Search - A user types the topic / subject in the search field and any associated videos will be displayed in the search results.

Favorites - A user can click a star to mark a specific video as a favorite. Click the “Favorites” tab to find those favorite videos quickly.

My Training - A user can assign him/herself sessions or view recommended sessions.

Spotlights - New or popular sessions can be found in the Spotlights area.

Logging in is simple! As long as you can connect to the internet, you can complete thorough, vetted professional development.

**One quick tip for staff: be sure to save and/or print your certificate for MyLearningPlan!**

Monday, October 10, 2016

Selecting Usage Rights in Google Images

Using images appropriately is a digital citizenship and copyright issue. It is an easy thing to let Google help you find only copyright-free images that are free for you to use, modify, or share - you just have to know one little trick. In Google, type your search term and press Enter. Click Images > Search Tools > Usage rights

If you are not planning to further edit the image, select Labeled for reuse. 

You still need to cite your source! To locate the image URL of the image you want to use, right-click the image, then left-click Copy image address.

When you paste the image address, it should end in .jpeg, as this one does:

Another source for images is Pixabay. Per their website, you may download, modify, and use these images without attribution. Note that you need to download these images before using, rather than linking to them.

Edcamp Dallas is Saturday, October 15 at our very own Sockwell Center! Tickets are sold out, but it's possible there will be some available at the door. Check the Edcamp Dallas Twitter account for updated information.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Presentations that Pop!

This week's blog post features a new application called Bulb.  Click on this link to see how Bulb can beautify presentations, keep digital portfolios, and put goal-setting/progress tracking back in the hands of your students.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Share Classroom Happenings with Parents Using the Kaymbu App

Parents LOVE Classroom Updates

How many teachers do you know have said that their parents want pictures, news, and updates about what is happening in class? Probably more so at the elementary level, right? Well, no matter what age group, I think Kaymbu could be an EASY solution (for all involved!) for strengthening the home-school connection for students and parents.

What is Kaymbu?

An awesome Plano teacher sent me this article yesterday: A Top Education VC says these 6 Startups Could Transform How We Teach Kids. Thank you, @mspolzertech! I was particularly interested in the section on Kaymbu - "a communication portal that lets teachers send pictures, video, and notes to a child's parents" (Weller, 2016). It's an iPad app that a teacher can use to capture classroom activities to share with parents.

I gave it a try and was super impressed with how EASY it was to not only create an account, but to add students, photos, create a Storyboard, add a parent email, and send the Storyboard to the parent. Parents love to receive news and updates as it helps them to reinforce learning at home.

Note that Kaymbu is secure and does not share any photos, videos, or personal data with third parties: Kaymbu's Privacy and Security.

Check out Kaymbu's informative video:

Give Kaymbu a Try!

Start by creating a FREE account either on the website or via the Kaymbu App on your iPad.

What Do You Think?

I want to hear from you! What do you think? Was it easy to use? Is it something that can be seamlessly integrated into your work day, rather than adding one more thing to your plate? Do parents love it?! In the comments below or via email or Twitter, please share whether Kaymbu is truly strengthening relationships between home and school.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What Should Tech Standards For Teachers Look Like?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) develops technology standards for students, teachers, administrators, edu coaches, and computer science educators. Last year, ISTE took on the important task of refreshing the student standards. The new ISTE Standards for Students were released in June 2016 and they're brilliant.

This year, ISTE is refreshing the Standards for Teachers and I am so proud to be on the team that will help to refresh them. But our writing team really needs YOUR help.

What do you think tech standards should look like for teachers? You can let your voice be heard by filling out this survey!

After you complete the survey, pass it along to another educator you know. The input from various perspectives is valuable and crucial to the refresh process. We look forward to hearing your voice!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Celebrate Dot Day!

This week, educators all over the country will be celebrating Dot Day! Here is author Peter Reynolds reading his wonderful book about the creative spirit, The Dot:

The book was published in 2003, and in 2009 a group of educators began celebrating September 15 as International Dot Day, a day for classes everywhere to celebrate the book's themes of bravery, creativity, and self-expression.

Here are resources to help you make the most of Dot Day:

Quiver Vision Augmented Reality Coloring Page (you'll need the Quiver app for iOS or Android - very cool!)

How will you celebrate? We'd love to hear what you and your students do for Dot Day!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Google Classroom Updates

New School Year...New Type of Blog.  We are changing the focus of our tech-tastic blog to now feature a "Tech Tip of the Week".  Be sure to check back often to learn about new technologies or how to use established tech tools in a new way.

Now that you have two full weeks under your belt and everyone is starting to get into the "groove" of school, you might be wondering about the updates to your Google Classroom.  In this post I will concentrate on the much anticipated guardian summaries, easier filtering through topics, and student annotations using the mobile app.

                                                                                      Guardian Summaries

This long asked for feature of parents having access to Google Classroom is finally here (in a sense).  Teachers must invite each parent to receive either daily or weekly automated email summaries about their child's assignments and class announcements.  Parents will NOT be able to log into a teacher's Google Classroom using their personal Gmail account.  If you need more details on how to set up guardian summaries, please click here.  This is a great first step Google has developed in cultivating a stronger school/home connection.


Teacher View
Organizing the stream has gotten much easier because of Topics.  Teachers are able to add custom topics to assignments, questions, and announcements.  You have the freedom to organize by unit, groupings, subjects, and even standards.  Students are able to filter what they see in the stream by choosing a topic.
Student View

Annotations (Mobile App)

Students can show their math work, label parts of speech, mind mapping (brainstorming), and more! Teachers also have the capability to leave handwritten notes and feedback on student work.  This feature can only be utilized on the Classroom app on Android or iOS.  Click here for more detailed instructions.

Your Instructional Tech Team is available to train you, your team, or the entire campus on how to use and/or integrate any of these tools into your current routine.  Please contact us anytime and have a wonderful school year!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Straight Outta the Classroom - My Favorite Tech Tools


My name is Fern Johnson and this is my inaugural blog post as the new instructional technology specialist!  As the new kid on the block (ahem...kid might be stretching it), I wanted to share 5 tech tools that transformed my classroom management, students, and even parent communication.  I challenge you this summer to explore just one new tool or get a deeper understanding of a tool you might already know how to use.

A highly engaging quizzing tool designed to be used for quick assessments both in and out of the classroom.  I especially enjoyed the ability to assign a "Quizizz" as homework and then use the immediate feedback to formulate my small groups the next day. And did I mention that Quizizz grades for you!

This is a very user friendly and low-tech tool that has endless possibilities for classroom use.  Basically, it is a roulette wheel where you can customize the choices on which the spinner will land.  I initially used this as
intended to randomly select students for various classroom activities, but I quickly discovered this could be so much more.  Think of any activity that can give students a choice (independent work problems, scavenger hunts, tutorial times/days, book selections, etc...), and use the wheel!
If you haven't heard of Google Classroom, then please check it out as soon as possible.  If you tried it a few months ago, but it wasn't quite your thing...try again.  Google has listened to us teachers and have made this learning management system better than ever.  Students are able to get their own copy of the assignment, turn it back in, and then you can grade and give meaningful feedback.  All without using one piece of paper!
Want to give students an avenue to communicate with you and others in the classroom without interrupting the class flow?  Today's Meet is your perfect solution.  Very useful in a BYOD environment, this back-channel tool provides a safe environment for students to answer questions, ask questions, make meaningful connections, brainstorm, etc.  Also a very low-tech tool.
This is the only tool that costs some money, but if you want to make your own tutorial videos, paying $5.99 is a very small price to pay for this substantial app.  Expect to have a bit of a learning curve and spend some time getting used to the sound of your own voice.  My parents really enjoyed the videos because they were able to brush up on their math skills and help their children.  If you want to get started on creating a blended classroom, I highly suggest researching this app.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Google Classroom: End of Year Clean Up

Did you use Google Classroom with your students this year? If so, then follow these steps to clean it up as you close out the school year! Y'all have a good summer!

Google Classroom Tips for the end of year clean-up:

Created by Nancy Watson. Inspired by Kristen Tsaoys (@ktsaoys) and Jennifer Fischer (@JenFischer18) of Edison Public School District.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Have You Checked MyLearningPlan?

Are you looking to accumulate some professional development hours this summer? Our department has entered several learning opportunities into MyLearningPlan for Plano ISD staff members. Some options are:

  • Techno-Phobic to Techno-Fabulous
  • Google Tools and Apps (Drive, Docs, Sheets, Classroom)
  • Social Media in Your Classroom
  • Green Screen
  • Paperless Classroom
  • Recording Screencasts
  • Student Engagement Tools
  • And so much more!

Here you will find a detailed list of the courses, dates, times, and descriptions. If you are interested in signing up, just log in to your MyLearningPlan account and search for the class. We hope to see you this summer!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Awesomeness of the Autocrat Google Add-On

My favorite add-on right now is Autocrat for Google Sheets. I learned about it from Amy Mayer +friEdTechnology  at TCEA 2015 and Kim Estes +mamaestes at TCEA 2016. What's great about it is that it allows you to take information from a Google Sheet and merge it into a Google Doc to create a custom certificate that can be automatically emailed to participants! It's a beautiful thing to see Google Forms + Google Sheets + Autocrat + Google Docs = Awesomeness! Here's how it works.


Imagine that you want to send everyone a certificate of completion for attending a training.

Step 1

Create the certificate in a Google Doc.

Amy Mayer's example - certificate of achievement
Wesley Fryer's example - EdCampOKC certificate

Step 2

Create a simple Google Form to gather the attendees' names, email addresses, and session details, like these:

Tx Goo Certificate - Google Drive for Beginners
EdCampOKC Form

Step 3

Once your attendees have completed the form, open the Google Sheet of responses and open Autocrat. First, you'll need to add it. From the menu bar at the top, click Add-Ons, then Get Add-Ons.

Search for Autocrat and click "Free" to add it to Google Sheets.

Once it's added, you can launch Autocrat.

Watch Amy Mayer's 7-min. video to see how it works!

Awesome Autocrat Resources

Google Forms: Automated Awesomeness - Kim Estes' presentation from TCEA 2016. Excellent examples and templates to get you goo-ing.

How to Use Autocrat (7 min.) - Amy Mayer's how-to video

For more ideas on how to use Autocrat, visit Top 5 Ways to Use Autocrat in Education for easy, step-by-step directions.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Combat "Summer Slide"!

All teachers are probably familiar with the loss of students' skills over the summer months, often referred to as the "summer slide." To help students maintain the skills you've worked so hard to help them achieve in the past several months, take a look at these ideas.

Librarian Becky Calzada suggests talking to your students about the research behind the summer slide. "Having conversations with students provides an opportunity for us to educate them and allows students to consider proactive steps to help themselves."

Getting books into kids' hands is an important way to ensure that they continue reading over the summer monhts. Hosting book swap before the end of school allows your students to get access to books without spending a dime; Reading Rockets offers some tips on setting one up.

PlanoRichardson, and Dallas libraries all have summer reading programs that are the best price: FREE. Encourage your students to visit their local libraries. You could set up a Google form for your students to submit each time they read a book. It could look like this (thank you to McKinney ISD's Media Resource Specialist Cindi Bolton for sharing this example at TCEA back in February). Be sure to let someone from your Instructional Technology Team know if you need any help setting up the Google form!

Technology can provide lots of other ways to help you stay connected to your students, too. If your kids can't make it to a physical library, they still have an opportunity to enjoy books on their home computer or even a smart phone. Every elementary schoolmiddle school, and  high school student in Plano ISD has access to ebooks! Ask your school librarian about how your students can access these terrific resources.

If you have a Google Classroom, continue to check in on your students throughout the summer! Encourage them to read. Discuss with them what they're reading, and encourage them to discuss their books with each other. Promote the programs that are happening at your local library.

Does your school have a Twitter account? Encourage your students to submit pictures of themselves reading, and tweet those pictures out! Parents could also tweet the pictures of their students reading, and include a special school hashtag. And don't limit selfie production to just the students - they would love to see your Teacher-Book Selfies tweeted from your classroom account, too!

Many thanks to librarians Cindi Bolton and Brenda Ross for sharing their "No More Summer Slide" presentation at TCEA last February, and provided not only the inspiration for this post, but also most of the suggestions! Also check out the #summerslide hashtag on Twitter.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

PISD Photo Posting Guidelines

Do you have a great photo of students but are unsure if you can Tweet it? Do you update your school's Facebook page and want to use a great photo of students? The new photo posting guidelines allow us to post photos of students if

1. a parent has granted Plano ISD permission and
2. the principal has the username and password to any social media accounts where the photos will be posted.

Posting photos of students on personal social media accounts is not allowed and, as always, posting photos of children without direct parental/guardian permission is prohibited.

This handy chart can help you determine if you should post a photo of a student or not.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Which browser should I use?!

We have the pleasure of working with elementary teachers at their PLC meetings when they so graciously invite us to join in. At a recent meeting, teachers expressed frustration about the variety of websites that function best on different browsers. "Which browser are we supposed to use?!"

Their Campus Technology Assistant (CTA) had given them a print-out of suggested browsers at the beginning of the year. I took his great idea and ran with it. I wanted it to be a living breathing document online that I could keep updated and make it available for the whole school district. 

Below is the Google Doc of recommended browsers for any given website that teachers or students might use. Drawing any conclusions? Basically, make Chrome your default browser and you're likely to have little resistance from most websites. 

What am I missing? Please comment on this blog post or contact one of us in Instructional Technology and we'll add it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Benefits of Learning Communities

Are you a member of a learning community? Hopefully your school provides you with many opportunities to learn from each other; as such, your campus is likely your primary learning community. But technology has made it possible to learn from a host of people outside the walls of your building. Participating in virtual learning communities allows you to take charge of your own professional learning and delve deeper into issues that would enhance your professional growth. You might start as a consumer (i.e. one who just listens/reads) or you could jump in and join in the online conversations that so often take place among the passionate educators who participate.

Here are some suggestions to help get you started: has subgroups for every possible teacher interest, from Autism and other Special Needs groups to grade level or curricular groups. Teachers can even create their own groups in the unlikely event that they can’t locate an existing group for their particular interest.

Facebook offers pages for just about any interest, and Educational Technology is no exception. In addition to Technology groups like TCEA and ISTE, there are Facebook groups for Reading teachers (such as the International Literacy Association), Math teachers (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics), Science Teachers (National Science Teachers Association) and more.

Google for Education
Google has designed free online training, and very affordable steps to achieve certification at varied levels of proficiency, including Google Certified Educator, Google Certified Trainer, and Google Certified Innovator.

Google+/Google Plus is a social network with innumerable options for educators. The service’s primary purpose is to “deliver information, spark discovery and foster conversation between users.”
 It offers many of the same kinds of groups that are available on or Facebook; Educators Technology has publised a list of 10 Google Plus Communities Every Teacher Should Know About.

The International Society for Technology in Education is “the premier nonprofit organization serving educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world.” Subgroups such as the Ed Tech Coaches Network, Digital Citizenship Network, and Literacy Network are examples of online communities in which educators can participate to grow professionally.

Region 10
The Region 10 Educational Service Center hosts a technology conference each year in May. The annual event brings together teachers and campus and district leaders “to share practical digital learning tools and strategies to create engaging classrooms and life-long learners.”!conference/c46c

The Texas Computer Educators Association boasts 35 years of experience integrating technology in schools. TCEA exists to improve teaching and learning through the use of computers and technology and offers many special interest groups (SIGs) to appeal to a wide variety of educator interests.

Although the micro-blogging site might be in decline, educators continue to have many choices in chat topics. Twitter provides countless opportunities for educators to “meet” and chat about a wide variety of subjects related to education.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Conferences Coming Soon!

Are you looking for some fun learning opportunities? Below are some conferences and workshops available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the next few months. Did we forget one? Please comment below and share any other learning opportunities in our area!

Conference Title: E-merge: Fusing Technology and Pedagogy
Date: April 7
Location: Region 11 ESC
Cost: $25.00
Info and Registration Here

Conference Title: TXGoo (Google)
Date: May 14
Location: Frisco, TX
Cost: $80
Info and Registration Here

Conference Title: Region 10 Tech Conference  
Date: May 18
Location: Region 10 ESC
Cost: FREE
Info and Registration Here

Conference Title: GAFE North Texas Summit
Date: June 8 - 9
Location: Burleson, TX
Cost: after April 8, $329
Info and Registration Here

Conference Title: MISD Converge
Date: June 21 - 23
Location: McKinney, TX
Cost: FREE
Info and Registration Here 

Conference Title: Elementary Con
Date: June 23 - 24
Location: Region 11 ESC
Cost: $100
Info and Registration Here 

Conference Title: TIA
Date: July 19 - 20
Location: Denton, TX
Cost: $35
Info and Registration Here

Conference Title: TCEA Tots and Technology
Date: July 24 - 26
Location: Frisco, TX
Cost: $279
Info and Registration Here

Conference Title: PISD Summer Elementary Academy*
Date: July 26 - 28
Location: Plano, TX
Cost: FREE
*This event is only for PISD staff. Schedule will be complete mid-April.

Conference Title: Edcamp Global
Date: July 29 - 30
Location: Online, 24-hour edcamp
Cost: FREE

Conference Title: ETSI*
Date: August 1 - 4
Location: Plano, TX
Cost: FREE
*This event is only for PISD staff. Applications are being accepted until April 8.