July 28

SMART Superheroes

Home sweet home. After 6 fabulous days at the SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) Summit in Calgary, Alberta Canada I’m home. I’ve hugged my family, unpacked and even started laundry but my heart has a sad spot. For those 6 amazing days I’ve been surrounded by 56 passionate educators from the around the world. We love technology integration so much so that we spent one week of summer submerged in it. Our utopia. SMART Technologies has gone so far beyond treating us like the superheroes we now know we are. We are one SMART superhero team. 

Looking at photographs, reading social media posts, my heart is a little heavy to know my team is all over the world..and not with me collaborating, talking and laughing. My heart is also beaming with pride knowing I can call on any of them and they will be there to guide me, help me, support me-the perfect side kick. 


SEEs and SMART developers at the Hackathon

Why is this week so amazing? How do I begin to explain it? Is it my friends who I’ve kept in touch with since the 2012 Summit who greeted me with best hugs? Is it the new leader who studied all of our profiles and said hello with our name as soon as we arrived at the hotel, which set the tone for this adventure? Is it the bonding events that occurred every day in every way imaginable be it challenging sessions, evening events or the discussions about how to continue, share and grow our passion for collaboration? Or was it that when we spoke with SMART Technology developers, marketing engineers and executives there was no “us and them”, we are a team. A team that shared, supported, challenged and created amazing things.    

                                                                                            The beginning of the application explained it as “a week long intensive professional development”. It was a week long, but intensive doesn’t seem to match the experience…empowering would be better. For I am now empowered with tools of a program that promotes cross-curricular learning. I am empowered with a collaborative team that lives in different corners of the world and a plan to show our students how wonderful each area is. I am empowered with ideas and a plan to find more superhero teachers in my local school. Most importantly I am empowered with a family of superheroes that each have their own unique super power that is ready to shine.

Thank you, SMART Technologies, for reminding me that I have super powers, side kicks and superheroes all around me.


A few superheroes (teachers from around the world)


March 10

Too Young to Research?

How young is too young to research facts? At a very young age we read to children. They may be your children, nieces, nephews, or students. As we read, we begin to ask questions-What do you think the he’ll do next? Where is the shoe hiding? Comprehension skills are a part of young minds long before we realize it. Continuing that process as these young people enter Kindergarten and First grade is key to creating a love of reading that will carry them through all of their academics. 1gr research

Finding a site that is age appropriate where the language is on the level of a 5-7 year old can be a challenge. Although I normally don’t use paid sites on my blog, Pebble go offers exactly what is needed at this age level. Navigating through the site is completed by using limited language and easy-to-understand graphics.

pb main page

 Creating a 5-7 question worksheet paired with a story will allow the students to practice or research in a well, laid out piece of literature with language they can understand. Looking at the image to the left, you will see a speaker that reads the story to the child, highlighted key words that offer pronunciation and definition when clicked and chapters sorted by the tabs at the top.

You can find out more about pricing and/or obtain a free two week trial.

pg story


March 6


McFarland, USA is an uplifting movie about a coach who works in a predominately Latino town and trains a group of students who become state champion cross country runners. Through his journey, he learns of the challenges the boys face with their families and economic responsibilities to work in the vegetable fields. These boys begin their day before sunrise to work in the fields, go to school and return to the fields for a late afternoon shift. For those of you that don’t know the labor intensive job working in the fields requires, this movie will surely open your eyes.

It leaves me wondering about my roots and the challenges faced generations ago. What did it take for my great grandmother to travel from Poland to America over 100 years ago? How did she get the money to travel here? What obstacles did she have to overcome as she was trying to start her life in America?


Here are some ideas for your students to learn about their families and challenges they have faced:

  • Jewel of a Book  directions for the project are listed on the page, but instead of handwritten-same shaped jewels, use a program like Paint, Publisher or Pixie to create the shape and add text.
  • Use a picture of a tree found in a photo gallery and import saved pictures and text boxes to display the information
  • Using Timeline from www.readwritethink.org, have students organize their collected research of their family line onto a timeline. This will also give a different perspective to any historical figures you are covering in your class. The file can be saved and completed at a later time.
  • Here is a sample project outline to help you get started.



February 22

True Colors

“So don’t be afraid to let them show/Your true colors/True colors are beautiful,Like a rainbow” True Colors Cyndi Lauper 8/25/86 (video by MattyBraps)

What do your students know about their classmates? What if instead of sitting near their friends, they had to sit next to someone new? As scary as it sounds, when we break our normal routine, amazing things can happen. What if you took 5-10 minutes of the class’s down time to learn about other people in the room?  Yes, during the day, time is a hot commodity and must be devoted to the curriculum, but what about when the students are first coming into class in the morning, recess or during afternoon bus call. The students are talking at this time anyway, but usually with their buddies. It is the perfect time to learn about those people they spend so much time with during the school day.

What are some things they can do:

  • Put all the kids names in a bucket. Each person pulls out a partner and they need to learn three new facts about that person.
  • Put all the kids’ names in a bucket and have half the class pick one out. They will sit near them at the lunch table and talk about their favorite lunch treats or after school snacks.
  • Find one person who has a common hobby and share stories with them.
  • Find one person who has a different hobby then you and ask questions about it
  • Give each students a bingo card with each of the classmate’s names on them. Place a line under each person’s name and have the students write one fact they have learned about their classmate. The caller may say “Place a bingo chip on someone who likes to play soccer.”

February 16

Creativity Inspired the Cat

“Don’t impress them with technology, let them be amazed by what they can create with it.” ~author unknown

After multiple snow squalls and ice events we are finally getting our “big” snow. Excitement is in the air as the children all stare at the clock waiting for that early dismissal bell to leave. The teachers are looking at their lesson plans for the week and feeling the pressure of keeping up with curriculum so they are on track for those state assessments in May. Assigning homework over the next few days not knowing how long we will be out can be a bit tricky. A little bit ago I offered ideas on how a LMS can be used for snow days however with real snow those kids will want to be IN it. Below are some ideas that incorporate snow day fun and academics-but be sure to get out with your children. This is where the memories are made.

  • Once the snow starts to fall, measure it traditionally and non-traditionally. Document all data in an excel worksheet. Display it in a graph-there are several to choose from. IMG_4498[1]
  • Write your name, or your family’s names, in the snow so they are all the same height and width. Using your mobile device, take a picture from the highest point to capture all of the names. Import the picture into Publisher, add a seasonal frame and print.
  • Reenact a historical scene from a time period you are studying. Use the snow to build walls or cannon balls. Write a script that will allow all members of your family to participate. Record the event on your device and upload to cloud based sites such as Dropbox or your class’s LMS
  • Scoop the same amount of snow in several bowls and bring them into the house. Place the bowls in different locations…some by an outside door while others are closer to the heater. Create a hypothesis stating how long it will take before they melt. Time them to check your estimations. You can also take pictures at different intervals to check the progress. Write a news article as though you are an accomplished scientist stating your findings using the images to support your data.