Impact! – One Word 2019

Boom!  Pow!  Wham!  Pop!  Impact!  Just like the onomatopoeias used in comic books, I want my actions in 2019 to make “noise” causing people to think and change their mindset about how we help our students become independent, passionate, confident, solution-oriented citizens in this global world.  Much like a meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere becomes brighter because of the friction between the meteor and the atmosphere, I hope to create friction in a way that lights a fire facilitating change for all the learners in my care.

How can I use what I am learning to impact my colleagues, students and parents that I come in contact with on a daily basis?    

How can I impact the parts of our educational system that are outdated to better serve our students?

How can I help my students impact their community in positive ways?

How do I create meaningful opportunities and experiences that impact my students and their desire to use their talents and passions to change the world?

How will you impact those around you in 2019?





In thinking of where education is headed, I truly see students as the creators of content and change.   In helping students to connect with professionals for a year long passion project I have been seeing the potential that connecting students with these professionals can do.  What if students had direct access to the huge knowledge base from all the professionals in our communities?   What if there was a more organic connection between business and education that gave students a way to be able to contribute in authentic ways with those professionals to develop their passions earlier.  Students creating content for their communities!

What if students were also able to reach out to other students to ask them the questions they have about the geography, economy or political systems in their areas instead of hearing it second hand from a teacher or text?  I believe that connecting students to students through this creating of content for each other will help to build a more tolerant, understanding and truly connected world.  Students creating content for students.  This is the vision that I presented in my application for the Google Educator Innovator Program.  I didn’t get it this time…however I know I can do better and hope to do a better job as I misinterpreted  the number of characters as number of words and had to butcher my writing in the last 30 minutes before it was due!  I can’t wait to try again and do my very best!  :):):)



Creators of Content

We are all creators of content.

This week the new thing that I am trying is to help students become creators of content.  In the process of creating the example and a tutorial for students to use to become creators of content I made the connection that one of the many reasons I love being a teacher is that I get to create content.  I also realized how many design decisions I was making and what a great opportunity it is for students to have to create content to show not only their understanding of a topic but also their ability to design, problem solve and troubleshoot when creating something!  Such a transferable skill!

This what I created to help students create content for examples of energy transformations.

Energy Transformation Video Example

Tutorial Video for Creating Energy Transformation Video

Create.  Create.  Create.


In the Midst of it

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”              ―Aristotle

To create that sweet spot in learning I just have to dive in, try new things and allow it to get a little messy. It seems to me that it is in this space, in the midst of it all is where the magic of learning truly happens.


  1. Instead of having students do individual research with their own documents they used a shared google slide deck to create a resource that included characteristics of each of the planets and moons in our solar system.  Students were to ask at least six of their own questions focused on the important variables to support life such as, atmospheric composition, gravitational force, average temperature, and distance from the sun.  
  2. The shared slide deck was used by all students in the class to find characteristics of the planet that would support their favorite pop culture character or a made up character living on that planet/moon. Evidence was required to support each claim.  
  3. There were a variety of choices for students to choose from to create their own characters or there were bios provided of popular pop culture characters to use as a reference.  Students also had the choice of creating a short story with their created characters in it.  
  4. The advanced portion of the assignment was anything that they believed to be above the proficient on the rubric and had to be turned in with a reflection that includes evidence supporting the claim of being above the proficient marking!  I also created a hyperdoc for students to use for finding resources, downloading templates as well as turning in and looking at their peers products!  


Students were super excited about the project and jumped right in.  One change for next year is to create a template slide for the required questions and a template slide for them to add several of their own so there is consistency in how the slides are presented for those students who struggle to find information.  

I believe that students might be able to complete the task quicker and use it more easily.  The resource that we created was not very useful because students had asked many different questions.  

Students really liked the “Pop” and action figure templates that I got out the resources presented in the, Play Like a Pirate book written by Quinn Rollins, which is a great read with lots of applications that you can use right away!  Students jumped right in creating characters in series with one another, such as the “Jupiter” and “Pluto” series of characters, and started planning stories around the characteristics as a way to extend their learning.


Some required questions next year need to be:  

  • What is the gravity on that planetary body?  
  • Does it have an atmosphere?  If so what is it made of?  
  • How far from the sun is the planetary body?  What is the average temperature of the planet?  
  • What is the rotational and orbital period of the planetary body?  (how long is one day and one year?  

I am also going to design a google slide deck by changing the master slide to have several choices that will help guide their thinking.  

  1. One slide will be the required questions for consistency
  2. Second slide will have a space for students to ask their own questions to extend the thinking.  

By focusing the research portion I hope that it will take less time to create the resource and actually create a resource that we can use as a class to think about our created/chosen characters!  

Into the midst of it I go!  

Keep Climbing

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”

– Thomas Jefferson

When I first moved to Colorado,  I wanted to be one of those people who had climbed a fourteener, one of the 54 mountain peaks here in CO that are above 14,000 feet.  It was something that I had never done before, an arduous climb filled with giant boulders, to the top of a windy mountain peak.  We started at the trailhead around 4:30 am and summited about 7:00 am on that same summer morning.  It was well worth it.   The 360-degree views with miles of visibility were unlike anything I had ever experienced.  The wind was blowing rigorously as it blew my hair around and filled up my clothing,  a feeling that I can go back to when I visualize the experience.  An experience that I choose to have because of something I wanted.  This climb is much like the arduous joyful climb that I am enduring in changing my classroom over to a student-led space. A choice I am making because I want my students to truly experience the joy of learning and creating.  One of the biggest changes that I am embracing in class is the idea that students can be creators of content. I decided that the topic of space rocks was a topic that I would use to encourage students to become creators of content by producing videos for youtube.

Character is grown in the climb, where the risks are taken and knowledge is gained.  Standing on the peak is easy and even though the climb may be hard, it is what matters most.  I choose to climb.

New and Better:

  1. Giving students complete control over how they presented their understanding of the different type of space rocks.  Students could use any tool to present (technology or paper and pen).
  2. The advanced (4 for standards-based grading) portion of the rubric was left blank so that students could extend their own learning above the standard in their own way.
  3. Students who want their work shared with the world had their presentations converted and uploaded onto my teacher youtube channel.


Overall, students were engaged in the task.  The project was introduced using an information graphic which ended up being one of the main sources that students used to gather information (not the richest in content). I think introducing the topics in a different way may have allowed students to create more authentic presentations of the content and used more resources. I’m not actually sure that students did, in fact, create their own content.  I did upload their videos onto youtube which had students all a buzz.  I don’t feel as if the open portion of the rubric for the advanced portion was as effective as I hoped.  Next time I offer this choice in the rubric there will be criteria regarding a reflection to be turned in with the project of how it goes above the standard.  I also felt as if I ran out of time to teach students how to convert the files over and need to make the time as its taking to much of my time to do it.


  1. Do not use the information graphic to introduce the content.  Create a slide show with the images to have a discussion beforehand, or have some sort of fun vocabulary sort to do at the beginning before having them create the projects.
  2. Teach students how to convert the presentation files to movie files on their own.
  3. The advanced portion of the rubric needs a written reflection to be turned in to justify how it is going above the standard.

I will continue to work hard and climb on from good to great!  Time to dig!

Seeing differently…Week 4 #IMMOOC

The examples that resonate with me about strengths-based leadership is the idea that we have to do a better job reaching out to people where they are and not assuming that they are where we are.  I know the benefits of taking the time to hear someone’s story in order to understand where they are coming from and know it is critical but am beginning to see things differently.  I know I need to be more intentional in looking for strengths and help others to see the strengths others see in them and the strengths they see in themselves.   I believe it is important to ask myself, what are my strengths?  They are:  Energetic, forward thinking, highly curious, open minded to new ideas, love learning, inspire others, spontaneous, enjoy collaboration.  What traits am I lacking?  Thinking all the details through,  Organization, restraint.  How am I excluding those around me because they see it differently?

The professional learning opportunities that I am choosing to participate usually have at least one of the “8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classrooms” present, however, I believe professional development needs a redesign.  Echoed by teachers I speak with everywhere is that most professional development is the sit and get type!  I am currently participating in a program that my district IT department has developed called the Digital Innovation Program.  I have grown a tremendous amount, however, am still thirsty for time to reflect and move forward by reflecting and sharing with others, but there just isn’t enough time in the day or allowed when we are at our trainings.  As a result, I have worked independently to grow through the books and connections I am making on my own.  That is why I have chosen to participate in this book study!  It has encouraged me to get my thoughts down even if only for myself!  I am realizing that I must find a way to use my time more efficiently!  Hmmmmm…What does that look like?  How can we all share how we see the world more and share the difference as we see them?

On “Powerful learning first, technology second” (

It was that time again, the annual walking field trip 8th-grade students take to a local dairy to learn about the chemical and physical changes that occur throughout the milking process. Each year 145+ students, 20+ chaperones, and 4+ teachers took the mile long trek to a local Dairy to learn about science content within the context of something that is in their community.  Students spend the day learning from professionals/professors in the dairy industry about how the animals are cared for, how the waste is managed, end products and the processes that create them, and how the animals are milked which allows them to understand what is happening there and be a little more tolerant of the smell that sometimes comes from it!   It’s a special day that ends with a picnic at a local park for lunch before students walk back to school for the end of the day!  This year I really wanted to do something different with the information students collected at the dairy so they were given the task of producing something that was able to show their understanding of chemical and physical changes occurring at the dairy which we will share on twitter and youtube as soon as I have the proper permissions.  I shared all the images (250+) that I had taken during the field trip and then they went ahead choosing different district approved tech tools, paper/marker, etc. to create their product!  I found that the powerful learning that students did with the professionals at the dairy sharing their real world knowledge and careers had an impact on the quality of output and time that students put into formalizing what they learned at the dairy!

Questions to focus on this week!

What does the astronomy look like?  What do I need to do to actually gamify the unit?  How can I tie in asking questions before our telescope night and how do I get student voice into the unit?  What if I was to survey students asking what they need to learn best and then structure this unit around those needs?  Really want to give students their own voice in how they learn and what they learn to meet the standards!

How can I start to utilize this idea of strengths-based leadership to help push those that I mentor and myself further?  What things am I looking for?





Reflections on New and Better Week 2 #IMMOOC

There are several things this year that I am working on making new and better than they were before.  Our school has a one to one program and this change gives students autonomy in how they process and master content.  It is changing the way I think about everything.  Here is a couple of examples of how I believe I am changing the way content is delivered into something better and new in my science 8 classroom!

Science Digital Interactive Notebooks:

I decided to take the interactive notebooks that we use in my science classroom from a paper notebook into a digital format.    The notebook creates easy access to resources that we use in class much like a website.  It creates a space for students to link how they are processing content in their own unique way and they can’t lose it or forget to save using Google apps for education!  I’m finding that it is easy and more efficient to communicate with students!  Both better and new because it truly does allow for individualized education and access for all students!  The first step….

Digital Late/Missing Assignment Turn in Form

I have always had a physical space in my classroom where students turn in paper assignments.  However, with the change that I’ve made moving to a digital interactive notebook and the google classroom, I found that I was unable to keep up with each google classroom, each assignment, and resubmitted assignments.  To solve the problem I created a Google form that students use to share a link to missing or resubmitted assignments so that I am able to quickly process these assignments.  This makes it easier for students to communicate when they have turned in an assignment and makes for a quicker return as I am able to do it from anywhere with an app on my phone and don’t have to remember to check the turn in box.  New and better!

Cornell Note Taking

The Cornell notes student take now have links to videos and resources students can use to help them if they choose to use it.  Because the notes are in a google document students are able to use the “Research Tool” to insert images, find videos, data and cite it as they go!  It makes it so much richer as we are able to share so many different examples visually in an instant.

Breakout EDU Syllabus/Course Content Introduction Activity

This year I decided to introduce expectations and the course topics for my science 8 class using a  Breakout EDU  activity that I created based on what I wanted students discussing to solve the puzzles!  I created my own box out of a cooler with a lock, a chain and eight different lock boxes to get out of!  I hid the 27 clues all over the room with a green dot sticker on each so they knew it was an actual clue!  The activity created a movement around the room allowing students to get to know where things were in the classroom.  Students naturally were curious about the locked box and worked together to solve the puzzles, working on one then moving to another when no good ideas came.  It allowed my students to start to build trust with one another and also sent a message that I believed they could do it and “breakout”.   Several of the class periods counted down as the timer approached 0 seconds!

Asking Students what they think

I really loved the idea presented during the youtube live session two of asking students that aren’t meeting the standards, why they think they aren’t.  This seems so simple yet I’m imagining how powerful it could be.  Give students a say in their education!  Just makes sense.  I am going to work with my team around this question and how we can get our students thoughts about the things that affect their educational experience and their learning!

As I reflect on what I have created this year I realize there is still so much more to do and what has been done is not great, yet.  It is the beginning of a new mindset!  I move forward one foot in front of the other!

As I move into this new week I am inspired and excited to continuing to create opportunities for students to learn by creating!  Opportunities continue to be created for innovation if we continue to ask questions.  So here is mine for the week:

I need to continue to ask what other parts of instruction can be changed to make them new and better?

How can I use our field trip to the dairy to create an opportunity for students to create something authentic to share what they learn there?

What does a class meeting look like?