Get Your Tech’ On – NYSCATE 2015

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Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the NYSCATE conference in Rochester. It was of course an amazing experience. I was so happy to get together with like-minded educators using technology in their classrooms to collaborate and innovate.

I learned so many great things and was reminded about a great deal of other things, which I have used in the past but I have since forgotten about. In order to make sure I didn’t let the excitement and learning fade away with the business of running a 4th grade classroom, I decided to implement a plan to try some new things by the end of this week.

Plickers: This has been on my ‘to try list’ for what seems like forever. Plickers is a formative assessment teacher tool that requires only one device. Students are given cards (tip:print them out on cardstock) which they simply hold up in a certain direction, indicating a multiple choice answer. Then all you need to do is scan the room using your device’s camera. How great is that!

Genius hour While not as easy to implement, I am so excited to bring Genius Hour and Passion Projects to my classroom. Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. From their website: It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. The teacher provides a set amount of time for the students to work on their passion projects.  Students are then challenged to explore something to do a project over that they want to learn about.  They spend several weeks researching the topic before they start creating a product that will be shared with the class/school/world.  Deadlines are limited and creativity is encouraged.  Throughout the process the teacher facilitates the student projects to ensure that they are on task. (

Gafe– Google acts like a second brain to me, so why shouldn’t my kids also use it to empower them? Our school launched Google apps for the teachers last year, but this year I want to make it my mission to get Google Classroom and Gafe (Google apps for education) up and running! I learned so many amazing ways to support my students and their learning that I cannot wait to get started.

Sway– Microsoft is not a company I knew much about prior to the conference, but I was blown away with all they have created (for free) for the classroom. My absolute favorite was Sway. One thing that resonated with me at the conference was how “its not about the technology, but it’s about the work.” Aligning with this mindset, Sway presents itself as a great tool because it doesn’t require a massive amount of training to use. Sway is an easy-to-use digital storytelling app. It allows users to create and share interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more. And you and your class can use it (and all of Microsoft’s apps) for free!


Forging Lifelong Memories – Our Trip to the White House Kitchen Garden


Looking back on your childhood memories, you’ll quickly realize that a lot
of them are centered around school. It is no wonder then, that as educators
we try so hard to make as many positive memories as we can for our students
each year. On September 30, 2014, my 4th-grade students forged memories that will surely last a lifetime with a visit to the White House Garden.

Visiting Washington D.C. is in itself an amazing and iconic American
experience. However, being invited to enter the White House and tour the
First Family’s Garden is something most people only dream of. In fact, very
few people are allowed the opportunity to actually do just this. So when we received the news they could send a class of students there,
you can only imagine the excitement that this once in a lifetime
opportunity ignited.

Curated by the White House Staff, students were invited onto the White
House property where they were able to explore the kitchen garden and learn
about the rich history behind it all. The student’s faces gleamed with smiles of excitement as they asked questions and took the whole experience in. Their smiles were mirrored by those of the White House staff and secret service men who escorted the group, as they were delighted to take-in the excitement and happiness of their small visitors from New York City. And as if on cue to add a fairytale ending to the story, who should come to visit the garden at the same time? Sunny, the First Family’s adorable new dog whose visit made such an impression to the kids that their smiles stretched even further!


Interested in applying for a tour of your own? Find the details here!

Want to build your own kitchen garden? Check this list out

(adapted from an article I wrote for our District’s Newsletter)

Peace, Love, Summer – Keeping Kids Well Fed Over Summer Break

While summer is an exciting time for students and parents alike, for many families that rely on free and reduced lunch programs, it also brings with it a sense of fear and anxiety as it also brings these programs to an end.  During the school year, 21 million school children receive free or reduced-price lunch — but during summer, 90% of those 21 million kids have limited or no access to meals they receive when school is in session. 

ConAgra Foods partnered with Kid President, Robby Novak, to inspire Americans to take action so that all kids can “be awesome this summer.”

The ConAgra Foods Foundation is donating the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America for every view, like, or share of this video through July 31st!

While I am by NO means a supporter of Con Agra and their #gmo policies, feeding kids is something I can get behind. SO VIEW, LIKE, AND SHARE!!!! You’ll be helping to feed kids across this fine country of ours by doing so.



#whatthekidsneedtoknow – How to Be More Awesome!

Need to be inspired? Look no further!

(Plus, who out there doesn’t need a reason to dance?)


If you aren’t familiar with Kid President (@iamkidpresident) and his incredibly inspiring and humorous videos, now it the time to cuddle up with your laptop and visit his YouTube site, as it is long overdue! His YouTube Channel, SoulPancake is full of incredibly inspiring videos that have been enjoyed by millions. With so many great videos it’s hard to choose a favorite, but I would say that ‘A Pep Talk’ is definitely one of my top 3!


I recently shared with my students this video: Kid President’s Letter To A Person On Their First Day Here

 At the end of the video, Kid President invites the viewer to share with him their own thoughts on #whatthekidsneedtoknow. He invites us to compile a list of things that make an awesome person, and share it with the world to give more people a reason to dance! What’s not to love about this assignment? It gets students to focus on the things they want to see more in themselves and others, while also reflecting on what things in life are really important to happiness and survival … DANCING AND CORNDOGS!


In groups, my students set out to share their own life lessons to a person on their first day here. The first step, was compiling a list of at least five life lessons they wanted to focus on as a group. The second step, was to create a storyboard for their multimedia presentation. The last step, using Domo powered by GoAnimate, was to produce a cartoon video depicting #whatthekidsneedtoknow according to them! (If you want to learn more about Domo, visit this past blog post of mine).


The following are links with what they came up with. I may be biased, but I think they did a rather AWESOME job!

Group One

Group Two

Group Three 

Group Four


Exciting News: A Kid President Show is coming to the HUB network!