Creating a PD Badge Program


As an Instructional Technology Specialist, its my job to help my teachers learn how to integrate technology in meaningful ways.  But what happens when the teachers just don’t have the time?  Time is a precious commodity for educators so I was looking for a way to provide technology professional development but without taking up too much time or causing more stress to their daily schedules.

After reading Kasey Bell’s blog post about Denton ISD’s use of badges to gamify their technology PD, I was hooked.  Find out how I created the program and lessons we’ve learned during implementation.  You’ll also have access to templates of the forms and badges we use!  Go to my PD Badge page and keep reading!

Peer Feedback with Google Classroom

Untitled image (3)Ashley Lay, a 7th grade ELAR teacher in Prosper ISD, is doing great things with Google Classroom. Most recently she used it as a method for students to provide feedback to each other as they analyze each other’s writings.  First she had students complete an assignment called Fan Fiction in which they used a Google Doc to create their own versions of a story they read in class.  Students then submitted links to these documents in Google Classroom.  The assignment is shown below.

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I love that students had to submit the link to their own document before seeing the links of their fellow classmates.

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The student can then see their own answer with student replies on one tab.  The other tab takes them to their classmates’ submissions.  They can then look at the replies to their own and other students’ submissions.

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Peer Feedback has many advantages for Ashley’s students.  The students can develop their ability to provide constructive feedback and are provided advice as they edit their drafts.  This method also gives students a larger audience for their work than a single teacher.  As students provide feedback, the writer can see different opinions and point of views.
Using Google Classroom for this activity let’s Ashley’s students share their work without making it completely public online.  This is a great way to simulate a blogging type activity while keeping students safe within the GAFE district domain.  Thanks for sharing Ashley!

Eventzee EDU – Ready…Set…GO!

After using Eventzee at our #ProsperTrendingNow Technology day last June, Prosper ISD teachers have been anxiously awaiting the EDU version to use with students.  The guys at Eventzee have been working tirelessly to get it up and running and Prosper ISD teachers are extremely grateful to them!  We are excited to be their “test” group as we help them work out any kinks and provide feedback on how it is working in classrooms.

We’ve had some great hunts in the past couple of weeks including an event introducing the 8th grade band members to the high school band, a middle school Intro to Yearbook class practicing their photo taking skills and a high school Fasion Design class showing off  their fashion knowledge on a field trip to North Park Mall.  Upcoming events include a middle school ELAR event on Edgar Allen Poe and composition techniques for our Yearbook students.

Students have loved the engaging hunts that let them show their learning.  Teachers are enjoying the instant feedback it provides students.  Wende Holland (@wende_wende), our Middle School Intro to Yearbook teacher, liked that she could reject the photos students were submitting and it made them really analyze what they were doing and how to do it better.  She also liked that, “I can see the common errors my students are making, which shows me what I need to go back and reteach.”

It was also recognized that when a photo was submitted, acccommodations could be taken into consideration and applied instantly for students with IEP and 504 plans.  One student’s best effort may not be the same as another’s and the teacher can assign point values accordingly.

After the hunt – The learning doesn’t have to end when the hunt does!  You can “debrief” with your students after the event to reinforce the concepts covered throughout the hunt.  Some ideas include showing a photo that was rejected next to a photo that was approved.  Don’t tell students which photo was accepted or rejected and have them brainstorm reasons for both.  You could even use a photo from the hunt as a formative assessment to gauge individual learning.  The photo could be displayed and you could ask them for specific proof of a concept or ask them if it was accepted or rejected and why.  Make sure to use pictures from a different class period so it’s not easier for the person that took the picture.

For more information on how you can try Eventzee EDU go to the Contact us section


Back to School Reflection: From Teacher to ITS

Well, it’s week 3 and I’m just now getting to my first week blog reflection.  This year I am transitioning out of the classroom into a full time Instructional Technology Specialist and my first goal was to blog at least once a week…that’s not going so well.  I am learning that I am just as busy as ITS as I was as a classroom teacher, it’s just a different kind of busy.  As a teacher, I had my lists and I crossed things off as I finished them.  As an ITS, I’m quickly realizing that is not how it works for me anymore.  I start everyday with a list of things I need to get done, but depending on teacher needs, some or none of the things on that list might get done.  I’m also realizing that I can rush around all day and be incredibly busy but can’t pinpoint what I did that day.  I’ve also moved into my own office, if you can call a tiny room that holds the PTO closet in between two classroom my own.  I actually have to go through a classroom to get in or out of my office.   This is definitely a world that my organized self needs to adjust to.

And despite the craziness listed in the paragraph above, I LOVE my new role.  My first two weeks were busy with showing teachers how to set up their website as my district transitions to Schoolwires, collecting BYOD forms and helping teachers use their district Google Drive accounts and classroom Chromebooks for the first time.  I was also able to sneak in some actual instructional technology time as I created a QR code poster for the organelles of an animal cell for my 7th grade Science team.  

My next goal is to finally finish the Google tutorial videos I started and get them on my website as well as helping Eventzee roll out their EDU version.  I’m also looking forward to attending team meetings in the coming weeks and finding ways to help teachers in the classroom.  It’s going to be a GREAT year!

Here is a copy of my first Tech Newsletter for the RMS staff…Thanks to @sylviaduckworth @alicekeeler @ShakeUpLearning for posting some great resources on Twitter for me to share with them!

EiA Issue 1

EiA Issue 1

Build a ‘Shark Tank Show’ in Your Classroom

Inside the classroom, outside the box!

“Innovation is change that unlocks new value” By Jamie Notter


The TV show ‘Shark Tank’ gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to sell a business idea to millionaire entrepreneurs in only a few minutes. One day when watching the show I thought ‘why couldn’t we take this idea and add it into the classroom?’ That is when I started brainstorming different ways to use the ‘Shark Tank’ framework to bring in more student ownership into the classroom. I soon realized I have been doing a version of ‘Shark Tank’ in my classroom before Shark Tank was invented!

Each year in my math class, students were put into groups and had to design a theme park. This project lasted all year long and for each standard/skill, they had a different piece to complete. For example, area and perimeter: The students had to mathematically figure out how to best utilize their blueprint to fit…

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ReIgnite your Passion this Summer

As the last days of school are among us, teachers around the globe are looking forward to summer break. This is also the best time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the school year. After talking with some first year teachers, this is a practice that comes naturally to them as they strive to do things differently next year. How many experienced teachers do you know that reflect upon their school year and strive to do better next year? How many of us have the same passion for teaching and learning that we had at the beginning of our careers? Thankfully, I am more passionate about teaching and learning than I was during my first year. I have found several ways to reignite my passion, not only at the end of a long school year but throughout the year as well.

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Listening to educational leaders is a great way to re-energize your attitude. After listening to Todd Whitaker @ToddWhitaker at a staff development day last week, my excitement for next year has me thinking about ways that I can be a better teacher. One of the things he said during his keynote that stuck with me was, “Great teachers don’t have rules, they have expectations.”   We need to be consistent and have higher expectations for our students. Often, when we have rules, students want to know the consequences of breaking those rules. This helps them weigh whether breaking the rule is worth it. Whitaker pointed out that the greatest gift that we can give our students is confidence and when we criticize them, we chip away at their confidence. We need to create relationships with our students and increase our praise of their accomplishments.

Another way to renew your passion is to find staff development opportunities throughout the summer. You can attend workshops in your area or look for statewide or nationwide conferences depending on your budget. You can also look into attending different events virtually. Some of my favorite annual conferences include ISTE, BLC, and TCEA. (click on each for more information.) I’m really excited about virtually attending FlipCon14 in a couple of weeks. I have heard Jonathan Bergmann @jonbergmann

and Aarons Sams @chemicalsams speak several times and I always come away with something new. Another speaker that I’m looking forward to hearing again this summer is Alan November @globalearner. If you can’t attend conferences, you can still learn something new by following the conference hashtags on Twitter.   { ISTE – #iste2014 ; BLC – #blc14 ; TCEA – #tcea15 ; FlipCon – #flipcon14 }

Webinars are also a great way to discover new ideas for your classroom. You can watch and learn at your convenience.  Catching up on your summer reading list is also a great idea!  Check out the resources listed below.

Webinars: Google, EdTechTeacher, SimpleK12, Sophia, TechLearning, TCEA

My summer reading list includes:  teachlikepirate goodteachersdoflippedlearningclassroomhabit    essentialquestions    blendedlearning    flipping2   goinggoogle    googleapps

All of these things can help rekindle your passion for teaching and help you learn new tools and strategies to help your students learn. However you recharge over the summer, remember that attitude is everything! Keep your interactions with students, parents, and fellow teachers positive. In the words of @ToddWhitaker, “Raise the praise, minimize the criticize!”

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The Flipped Classroom: Road to Success

Flipped Classroom Curated Magazine

Strategies for Handling Emerging Technologies

1. Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the technology.
2. Try it out. Use the technology and practice with it before using it with your students.
3. Make sure the technology doesn’t distract students from the objective of the lesson.
4. Don’t give up. Use the technology several times before deciding if it is a good fit for your class.
5. Communicate with parents and students about the technology and why you chose to use it.


Chase, Cheryl. CK-12 Foundation Blog (March 31, 2014) “What ‘They’ Forgot to Tell You When Flipping the Classroom.” This article gives one teacher’s experience with the flipped classroom, from curation to assessment.

Honeycutt, Barbi. (July 31, 2013) “10 Formative Assessment Strategies for Flipped Learning Environments.” This article gives 10 assessment strategies for the flipped classroom.

Honeycutt, Barbi. (July 1, 2013) “5 Ways to Address Student Resistance in the Flipped Classroom.”  This is a great article on how to deal with students and their feelings about change when using the flipped model in your classroom.

Lorenzetti, Jennifer. (Oct. 4, 2013) “How to Create Assessments for the Flipped Classroom.”  This article gives examples of formative and summative assessment in the flipped classroom.

TeachThought Staff. (Feb. 14, 2014) “10 Common Misconceptions About The Flipped Classroom.”   This post clears up the most common misconceptions about the flipped classroom. It does a great job of explaining why others resist this method.


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