Even Better than 5 Golden Rings!

One the 5th day of Techmas, my tech coach gave to me…

5 Google Forms

Google forms are the greatest and easiest formative assessment tool ever! Want to know how your class thinks a lesson went? Survey them! Want to measure your students engagement during a project? Survey them! Want to understand what your students need more instruction on? Quiz them! Want to solicit the opinions of your colleagues without running all over the building during your valuable planning time? Survey them too!

All of this, and so much more, can be accomplished by constructing a simple Google Form.

I use form all the time to survey the teachers I coach. They help me ascertain where the teachers I coach are strong and where they need assistance. They help me to secure technology goals from each faculty member, give session choices during PD, and gauge a staff members comfort and ability to integrate tools. Google Forms make it easy to put together a quick survey, assess my co-workers, and evaluate the data collected.

Google Forms also makes it easy to assess our students’ mastery of concepts via the quiz features readily available in Google Form now.

I hope you will share how you’ve used Google Forms, or how you plan to use Google Forms with your students on our Flipgrid 12 Days of Techmas Challenge.


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Day 4 is a Good One to Explore

On the 4th day of Techmas, my tech coach gave to me…

Four Breakout Boxes with Locks

Our students are all about games. The love gaining experience points, exploring in a hand on fashion, and are ultra competitive. Just ask them about Fortnite some time and sit back and listen to them wax for hours.

Sitting in rows, with paper and pencil as their only learning tool, does not get most students jazzed about their learning for the day. However, an opportunity to race the clock, flex their problem solving muscles, and work competitively against other squads and they are suddenly “all in.”

This is what Breakout EDU brings to the table for our learners. They get to work on teams, solve mysteries, and break out of the boredom of traditional learning. In fact, one might dare to say that have fun while learning.

Don’t have a kit, or the means to purchase materials for a kit, why not explore digital options for building your own breakout for your students?

Please submit a video response telling your colleagues one way, or a few different ways, you could incorporate Breakout EDU into your classroom with your students.

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Day 3 of Techmas

On the third day of Techmas, my tech coach gave to me….

Canva for Student Creation

Day 3 is here! And what tool did my tech coach give to me? Canva for those learners who love to use graphics to create digital images to show what they know!

Canva is an easy way to make student brochures, newsletters, or flyers. Even better, it’s the perfect tool to allow your learners to explore and create.

How are you using Canva?

We’d love to have teachers outside of our district participate and share. Please join us by sharing your responses on this grid and share your usage ideas for Day 2’s tool.

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On the 2nd Day of Techmas…

On the first day of Techmas, my tech coach gave to me….

Googley Drawing Skills

Day 2 has arrived! And what tool did my tech coach give to me? Why, Google Drawings of course! Our digital explorers are embracing chromebooks and thanks to GSuite for Education illustrating, creating flowcharts, annotating images, and creating interactive images has never been easier before.

All About Me Drawing

Looking to get to know your students at the beginning of the new marking period? Why not ask them to share a Google drawing that tells you who they are and what they believe in using symbols and Google Drawings!


Allow students to explore content with interactive images, or heat maps, that allow your students to touch hyperlinks on the image to explore additional content such as; videos, docs, websites, etc.  Here are two examples. One is a primary image prepared by 3rd grade educator, Gidget Felty. The other is one prepared for the Keystone Technology Innovation Summit. Check out a live one here from Joe Warns’ 7th grade students.



Flow charts are another awesome way to use this tool with students. As well as sketchnoting ideas, quotes, or concepts.

We’d love to have teachers outside of our district participate and share. Please join us by sharing your responses on this grid and share your usage ideas for Day 2’s tool.

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The 1st Day of Techmas

On the first day of Techmas, my tech coach gave to me….

Flipgrid Fever

In honor of the holiday spirit and to set the tone for reflection and growth upon our return from the New Year, I decided it was time for some technology fun, frivolity, and time to explore tools old and new.

I am in no way, shape, or form a poet or published writer, but I went out on a limb and lassoed twelve tech tools I feel most educators would love to have and use with their students and finessed the lyrics to the Twelves Days of Christmas, and voila! The Twelve Days of Techmas was born.

I decided to use Flipgrid as my platform because a lot of educators are catching “Flipgrid Fever” and it’s a simplistic and short way to show what you know. I was able to give the teachers I coach resources about a given day’s tool and then ask them to film a video, less than two minutes long sharing methods they have used, or will use, to implement this tool in their classroom.

day 1 techmas challenge

Day 1 is here and the responses are trickling in, but I am enjoying the commentary and setting up autocrat to publish certificates of completion for each day’s challenges, delivering emails to participants, and watching my colleagues experience a gamified mini PD where they, themselves, become the presenters and learn from one another.

Want to participate and not a member of our WYAMS faculty?  Join this grid and share your usage ideas for Day 1.


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No More Tomorrows

I was once told by a wise person the most dangerous word in the American language is tomorrow. I was stumped by this revelation, until I opened my mind and allowed myself to list all the times I had looked at my family and said, “Maybe later.” How many times had I said to my spouse, “Why don’t we put that off to tomorrow?” Even more revealing, how many times in our career as educators to we utter the words, “Perhaps in the future…”

If we keep putting off things for tomorrow, we may wake up one day and realize we’ve never chased down our full potential, hit a goal, or made the impact we wanted to because we were too busy focusing on putting off the very things that could be the best choices in our lives and careers.

New things are never easy. Sometimes it’s downright scary to put yourself out there and face failure. Our school, is definitely a scary place for those who fear change. We are in a constant state of flux. New ideas, new leadership, new schedules, new behavior plans, new curriculum… the list is endless, but so is the passion of the administrators and educators that have worked tirelessly on these committees; researched, visited, and drafted new things to bring change to our building. Our students deserve our best, and our best is not achieved by staying stagnant.

Are we going to get everything right on the first try? No! There will be blunders and blooper reels galore, but building a learning community that our students feel like a vital part of and are invested in is worth a few scrapes, scratches, and band-aids in my humble opinion. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Fear keeps us stagnant, fear allows us to grow roots, fear keeps us on the launch pad. As educators, we need a common mission. We need to realize that every step we take, every new idea we explore, every time we experience discomfort, we are making strides towards making a great product for our students.

No invention was ever perfect on the first prototype. We don’t prohibit medical advances, because it works now.  I mean really, who doesn’t want to be laid up for months for a knee replacement when it can be done and rehabilitated in weeks with the forward thinking and innovation of today?

As educators we need to rethink our educational environments to allow our students to take the reigns of their learning, awaken their passions, and give them opportunities to thrive as they communicate, create, think critically, and collaborate in a learning environment that reflects the forward thinking and innovation we want from our future leaders. If our classrooms still feel and look like those we sat in as students, are we giving our students the opportunities to be prepared for their TOMORROW?

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Risks Worth Taking

Let’s face it, as educators, we like to play it safe. We like to earn our gold stars and cross all T’s and dot all of our I’s. We like to get things right. In fact, we fear failure. It plagues us in our back to school dreams, nerves prior to observations, and any time we tip toe outside of our comfort zone the trepidation is real.

How can we expect our learners to step outside their comfort zones and feel confident taking risks if we fail to take any of our own? If we aren’t willing to make mistakes, can we ever really hit our fullest potential?

 “Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s ok to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” – H. Stanley Judd

I firmly believe that the fear we place in change impacts our students. If they only see adults being perfect specimens, getting it right all the time, and fearing to fix “what isn’t broken,” how do we anticipate asking them to go out on a limb and take risks for us?

We need to ensure that we are modeling for them what we want to see from them. As role models, we need to realize that our need for perfection is intimidating to the people around us, especially the young ones who look up to us. When we make errors, it’s always a good idea to face them head on, ask for their feedback on how to adjust, and try it again! This concept mirrors the design thinking process; you brainstorm, you plan, you dream, you prototype, you test, and you adjust until you succeed.

Our students need to realize that progress is a process. Progress is not a race. It’s cyclical, there will be strides forward and backward, and their will be times when we need to go back to the drawing board. But as a well known inventor and scientist once said,

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison


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