Student Created Digital BreakoutEDU....

Student-Created Digital BreakoutEDU....

Teaching students critical thinking skills is a struggle for teachers. Students are used to receiving information and repeating it, then moving on to the next set of information. To get students to dive in deeper and make connections is hard and time-consuming in the classroom. For the past year and a half, I have either created or used pre-made digital breakout with my students to help them learn critical thinking skills.

It dawned on me as I was teaching skills such as hyperlinking, uploading images, embedding, and just creating with digital tools that my students needed to be building digital breakouts. I am limited on the digital tools my students can use, either because they cost or the filter blocks them. SMORE is one of the tools that I use with my students. Using the free version of SMORE my students are limited to only creating three SMOREs.

My school is also a GAFE school (Google Apps for Education). SMORE is a simple way of learning how to upload images and learn to hyperlink. You can even embed a Google Form within SMORE. Before I had my students create their digital breakout in SMORE, I had them write a story and create a SMORE around their story. Giving them practice using the different options within the SMORE format.

Creating the Digital BreakoutEDU:

I placed students into groups with one student being the captain. The captain was in charge of the SMORE. Since students are limited to only being able to create three SMORES I had the captain create the digital breakout with their SMORE account. As a team, they had to devise a plan for sharing the information with the captain for it to be placed on the SMORE. The team was also required to document what role each person did in the creating of the SMORE.

The Requirements for the Digital BreakoutEDU:

  • The captain had to obtain feedback from the team on the topic their digital breakout would be over. Then decide on the theme keeping the team's interest in mind.
  • On the Google Form, they had to have 5 to 8 clues.
    • I demonstrated how to set up the Google Form for it to work correctly for the digital breakout.
  • Each link had to take the user to where a clue could be found.
  • Each image had to relate to the digital breakout & provide a clue.
  • If the Google Form needed a particular format such as a date or letters for a directional lock, then under the clue an example would be required.
  • A story or scenario was needed on the SMORE to tie all the pieces together.

Student-Created Digital BreakoutEDU:

Making Augmented Coloring Pages Meaningful ....

Making Augmented Coloring Pages Meaningful...

I get asked all the time how do you use Quiver's coloring pages in a meaningful way other than an
attention grabber?

I recently shared in the July Quiver EDU newsletter ways to use the Penguin and the Kea bird pages. (
To learn more ways to use Quiver's Augmented coloring pages in your classroom join the Quiver EDU Facebook group.  There you can get ideas, interact with the Quiver Ambassadors, and even share your ideas.  (

Don't forget to sign up for the Quiver EDU newsletters. (

Summer Apps....

Summer Apps....

I bet you are asking yourself; "What apps would an EdTech Leader load on her own children's' personal iPads/Tablets/Smartphones for the summer?" As most teachers and parents know that you lose some of the knowledge if you don't use it on a regular basis, so kids need to exercise that learning muscle.

What would an EdTech Leader load on her own children's iPads/Tablets/Smartphones? Well you are in luck. I have children at all levels.  Below is a list of apps that my children use.

All Apps are subject to change, depending on the developer.  Some may be free now and may cost later or vise a versa.   

My oldest son is in college and doesn't use a tablet other than for reading, but he still uses EdTech tools, but on his computer. Most of these web-tools do have apps.  I like to use EdTech tools that are universal.  Meaning I like to be able to touch any device and access my content being a computer, my phone or my tablet.

College EdTech Tools:

My youngest son will be entering his senior year and is busy studying for his ACT, or we like to hope he is.  He also using a computer over a tablet but does have some useful Android apps on his phone and has access to an iPad. Most of these do have apps.

High School EdTech Tools:

For the people that call me mom by mistake or out of endearment. I still call them my kids even if we are on summer break I would load these apps on their devices.

Middle School EdTech Tools:

I change my daughter's apps frequently.  When she masters a learning app I will change it out, or if I find a better creating app.  I do currently block YouTube for her, just because she was spending most of her time on non-educational videos or preschool level cartoons.  

Our rule of thumb in order to use a device the kids have to use it for educational purpose or for creating.  If they are going to use the device just to watch stupid cat videos or to play numb minding games we take it away for a short period of time.  I do allow 1 of those mind numbing games for her to play, just because sometimes you need to zone out from time to time.  If she plays it the most then I do remove them.

Mid Elementary EdTech Tools:

There is NO RIGHT Answer ...

There is NO RIGHT Answer ...

My teaching career has focused around "EdTech" before the term was even used.  When I was working on my Masters well over a decade ago the focus was a specialist in "Classroom Technology" since Edtech wasn't even a term we used yet.  Today if you did a search in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary you will not find the definition for Edtech, but it is a term we widely use today.  In 2013 EdTechReview added to their online dictionary "What is Edtech?"

EdTech stands for Education Technology. 
EdTech is a study and ethical practice for facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. 
In other words, use of technology in form of products/apps/tools to enhance learning, pedagogy and instruction. It is not replacing any current practices, but it is the use of those tools to aid in the delivery of education.
                                                                                        ~ EdTechReview

I tell my students that there is NO Right answer when it comes to learning how to use a tech tool. You need to find the way to use the technology or tool that best works for you. Technology is always changing and evolving.  Which is the reason I love to teach using tech.  It challenges me and keeps me learning.  To think about how much technology and its' uses have changed is amazing.  To know that we've sent men to the moon on less technology knowledge decades ago and our smartwatches, cell phones, and tablets have more processing power now just blows my mind.

To think back to when my parents were in school and to know that they job I teach wasn't even a thought or blip in the world of education.  The world we are preparing on students will not be the same world we know right now.  So how can we teach our students to be prepared for their future if we have no idea what will be in their future?

Did you know that there are ten or more ways to copy something using technology depending on the device, app/software you are using?  Do you know all of the ten or more ways?  How many ways could you copy in 1970, 1950, 1930, 1900, or earlier?  My point is that the world is ever changing including how we learn.

We need to teach our students to think of all of the possible ways to get the solution you desire.  For example how many equations can you write were the answer equals 4?  How many ways can you use the word SUN or JUMP?  We need to teach critical thinking and ways to apply tools not necessary ways to use them.  How I would use a tool is not necessary the way you would.

I like to let my students explore what works for them.  You would not believe how many times I hear but your the teacher tell me if this is the right answer.  My response normally is "You tell me".  Did you get the desire outcome?  Will your solution solve the problem if not what can you change?  When I tell them that there is no right answer, they get frustrated with me.  For so long they've been conditioned that there is a right and wrong way or right and wrong answer.  There are a million possible ways to write equations were the answer is 4 like there are a million ways to use technology tools in education.

There is NO RIGHT Answer just what works best for you.

We learn best by exploring and discovery. Allow time for yourself and your students to discover what works best for them. Companies like Google believe in this and allow 20% time. 20% time empowers employees to be more creative and innovative.  So doesn't education give students time to explore, create, and innovate?  Why do we focus on memorization and drill and kill strategies.  Why not let them explore and discover.  When we learned to walk our parents didn't sit us down and talked about the science of walking and drilled us the facts.  No we discovered hey if I stand here and then move my leg I move.  We tried things and if we didn't get to our desire location we tried something else until we achieved what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go.  There is no one way in learning to walk, we discovered what works best for us.  Some of us even became innovators during this process and found ways to get where we wanted to go fast or create short cuts.  We are wired to think like this but some where in the learning process we lost it.

So how many ways you can you think of to copy something?

Reflection of 2016 and the Start of 2017....

Reflection of 2016 and the Start of 2017....

2016 was a year certain a year of change.  My oldest son graduated from high school and then turned around and went off to college.  My youngest son finally had a bedroom all to himself and had to step it up a little in helping out with the house and watching his little sister.  Both boys started working part time and shopping for their own clothes.  Which has been nice and funny at them same time, they have ordered the same items off of Amazon, in the same sizes.  Our lives are suppose to change it is just the circle of life.  I shared with my sons that their are four stages of Santa Claus.  They just laughed at me, but think about it.  At a young age believe in Santa. Then as we get older we stop believing.  When we be come parents we become Santa.  The last stage takes the longest to achieve but when we become grandparents we start to look like Mrs. Claus or Santa himself.  Thus there are four stages of Santa.  For the past 18 years I've been in stage three. Some day I will make it to stage 4, but it will be Eric that will look like Santa.  My point is that life changes, it would dull if everything stays the same.

In 2016 I've made some great friends and attended some pretty inspiring conferences.  I even wrote and published a book.  I get a kick out of being able to say "Hey I wrote the book on That!".  A group of ladies made my day when they stop me to ask if I was the Diary of a Techie and wanted to take a selfie with me.  I kind of felt like a mini celebrity for a moment.  When I attend edCamps or conferences I like to participate as a learner, because I am also there to learn.  I was tickled pink when I attend an edCamp this summer and a group of teachers were making sure everyone knew Katie Ann was the go-to person for augmented reality in education, they even made sure everyone wrote down my contact information.  Amy one of the teachers in the group made sure I even wrote down the blog address & Twitter Id.  She was very passionate about it.  I was tickled because she didn't recognized me.  Guess I don't look the same with a ponytail and glasses on. Towards the end of the edCamp I did introduced myself to them. Pictures were taken, info exchanged, and I answered a lot of questions and gave them some tips on using augmented reality in their classrooms.

For 2017 I want to inspire others.  As a teacher I plant seeds in a garden, some seeds grow quickly while others take a lot of care before they bloom.  I don't only want to watch my garden grow, I want to inspire others to grow and change.  Instead of being a so called gardener planting seeds I want to tend to a garden that nourishes the growth of caterpillars and butterflies.  Think of me as a Caretaker of a Butterfly Garden, tending to the plants that nourishes both the caterpillars who have yet to find their wings and the butterflies that have made the garden their home.  I want to inspire others grow their wings, help them take flight, and support their growth.  I not only want to inspire others to grow but to become Caretakers of their own gardens.  I want to help others find the right plants, soil, and sun for their own garden.  When each have our own gifts, talents, interests, and needs I just want to help develop them & inspire a new caretaker.

What is your #oneword2017?