One Word 2016



As I embark into the 2016 journey, I am choosing one to guide myself throughout the year.

My one word is “community.”

My goal is to share more of the story of my school’s journey from opening on the first day to the end of the 2016 school year. I want our community to know how amazing our students are and how hard our staff works to design amazing learning experiences.

If you want to learn more about my school you can find us at!


Share #YourEdustory 2016.


What is the best thing you do for your district?


Share #Youredustory Week 4:

What is the best thing you do for your district?

Sometimes we get to go to conferences. Other times we don’t have the money or we don’t have the time to travel another county or state to attend a conference. But we all know that conferences bring a refreshing breath of inspiration into your classroom and learning about all the new opportunities for educational technology has become more important than ever.

So what do we do about this dilemma? How do we afford to attend a conference and how do we bring a love for educational technology to more teachers?

The answer?

Create a FREE educational technology conference for teachers in your district!

That is just what a group of colleagues and I did. We got the idea one day, drafted up a plan, and asked the powers that be at the district office. We were given an enthusiastic green light and the planning began.

We decided to call our conference Edtech2U and these were our goals:

  • To offer a FREE edtech conference for EUSD teachers, by EUSD teachers.  
  • To hold at least 12 sessions per conference
  • Promote a bridge between all certificated staff.
  • Provide an online resource for teachers to refer back to after the conference

Actually, we had a huge response in our first year with about 125 attending the first annual conference. We had over 20 sessions and teachers from all of our 23 sites attended. We are now in the planning stages for our third Edtech2U conference and we are hoping it will be even better!

Here is how we did this:

  1. We formed a group willing to put this together.
  2. Drafted a plan.
  3. Asked our Superintendent.
  4. Selected a day.
  5. Planned a location (we used the district office).
  6. Asked people to present.
  7. Found sponsors! We have had tremendous support from our teacher’s union and the Escondido Education Foundation.
  8. Everyone loves food! Starbucks has always donated coffee and Jimbo’s donates fresh organic fruit. We also use some of the donation money to purchase lunch.
  9. We got a few prizes.
  10. We set up an Eventbrite ticket. This is a great free planning tool for large events. This tool is free is your event is free. Also, it is very easy to use.
  11. W sent out an email to all teachers inviting them!

We had a great time and people walked away with a new understanding of how technology can be used to engage students, activate creativity, and help to better organize day to day teaching.

Here is a video that was made after our first event:


Sphero: Interactive Coding and Fun!


It’s undeniable. The look on any child’s face who plays with Sphero for the first time is sheer delight. Every single time.

Since purchasing Sphero as part of the research my colleagues and I are doing to create a innovative new school, I have witnessed children and adults alike, experience the same reaction to Sphero. First a look of awe, then wonder, then pure excitement.

Sphero is a new robot created to help kids experience the power of learning code and the wonder of robotics. Sphero can do tricks, is waterproof, and even has augmented reality capabilities. With any Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, you can download over 30 apps that controls Sphero. The apps have a variety of capabilities such as: driving, programming (coding), arcade style games, augmented reality, tabletop games, and even multiplayer games.

Here are some of the apps I have tested:

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 3.24.38 PMSphero– This app is the first app you should download. This app allows you to sharpen your driving skills in a game based way. You can adjust Sphero’s color, speed, and even add some new tricks. My personal favorite is when Sphero dances.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 3.28.57 PMSphero Draw N’ Drive–  This is another driving app. You simply draw a line on the screen and Sphero will travel the same pattern on the floor. You can adjust colors as well.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 3.29.10 PMSphero MacroLab– This is a programming app. This is one of the apps you will need to download to do the SPRK lessons (keep reading to learn more about the SPRK curriculum).

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 3.30.27 PMorbBasic– This is another programming app used in the SPRK curriculum.


Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 3.33.05 PMSharky the Beaver– This is an augmented reality app that turns Sphero into Sharky the Beaver. You will fall in love with the character’s silly antics. This unique technology makes it appear as though Sharky comes to life. Sphero is designed to be the trigger thus allowing Sharky to move around. (iOS only)

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 4.05.06 PMSphero Cam– Test your filming capabilities as you record or take images of Sphero in action!


Sphero really is a versatile robot, but for classroom use it is an engaging way for children to learn coding skills. What I like most about using Sphero to teach coding skills is that kids have an interactive and instant result of seeing their code play right in front of them.

If you visit Sphero’s website they have STEM based lessons and challenges called SPRK. I have had the opportunity to test out the “Core lessons” which help to build beginning coding skills with the MacroLab app. While learning coding skills, students are also utilizing math and science knowledge such as the interaction of speed, distance, and time. The STEM Challenges are multi-day experiments that help students collaborate and use critical thinking skills to solve problems.

Here is an image of students making a prediction about the speed, distance, and time Core lesson and preparing the code to play:


I have had the opportunity to play with Sphero both at home with my children and in classroom settings. Sphero brings smiles and fun to any room. If you happen to be looking for an interesting and educational holiday or birthday gift, or if you are looking to integrate STEM lessons into your classroom, Sphero is the way to go!

Here I am with Sharky:


View Sphero promo video:

Here is a link to my Sphero in Education Youtube playlist.


One Screen of Apps


iPads aren’t for content consuming!

They are for content creating!

All the apps you should need for your classroom can fit onto one screen of apps. Here is my “one screen” of apps created using ThingLink:



End of the Year Wordle Gift


I found this idea long ago while scrolling through Pinterest. I didn’t Pin It, therefore I can’t say which creative teacher came up with this idea but this is my spin on a very memorable end of the year project that I am doing for my students this year.

This year my students and I spent a lot of time determining character traits of characters in our books, such as Lina and Doon in City of Ember, August in Wonder, and Melody in Out of My Mind. We even analyzed antagonist characters like Julian in Wonder. However, we haven’t really analyzed each other’s character traits.

This project is quite simple. The students each write one positive character trait for each person in our classroom. I even tossed in myself, our principal, and our amazing librarian. Then these words are used to create this:

Screen shot 2014-06-05 at 10.08.42 PM

This is the Wordle that my students made for me. I will share with you how you can make one of these for each of your students for an end of the year gift. Enjoy!

Here is how it is done:

Step 1:

Create a Google Form. Here is an example of the one I made (with my students’ names changed). Link here. Notice the only “required” question I included was: What is your name? The rest of the questions on the form are one word answers for the name of each student in the class. I added our principal, librarian, and myself as these would make nice end of the year gift for them as well.

Step 2:

Create a shortened link or a QR code so your students can access your Google Form. I like to use QR Stuff.



Step 3:

Introduce the activity to your class. Be sure you explain that the focus is on the positive traits of each person and that everyone in the classroom has many positive traits that can highlighted. I allowed my students to work together for this project. Also, I had lists of character traits for my students to access to help scaffold this activity.

Step 4:

After all the responses are in, go over each child’s column of words to be certain only kind words were chosen, that students only used one word per person, and to check over spelling. My students did a fantastic job focusing on the positive. It really was quite rewarding to see how kind they were to each other with this project.

Also during this step, add each child’s name to the bottom of their column at least 10 times. This will help make their name stand out on Wordle.

Step 5:

Access To create a Wordle just select the “create” button on their homepage. Now go back to your Google Form, find the column for one of your students and copy that entire column (including their name written at least 10 times). Then paste those words into the “create” space on Wordle. Then select “go.”

Wordle will generate an image using the words. The way Wordle works is the more times a certain word is used, the bigger that word will appear on the final image. That is why I had you write the child’s name at least ten times. That made their name the biggest word on the Wordle.

From here, Wordle allows you to change the font, colors, and layout. Play with these until you find a final image you like. Then print your Wordle. I actually saved my Wordles as PDFs  and then I printed them in color.

Step 6:

Go to your local dollar store and purchase 8×10 frames and frame your Wordle project for each student in your class. I plan to give these to students on the last day of school as my goodbye gift.


This is sure to be a huge hit this year. Fourth graders are very concerned about what others think about them and this is such a great way to celebrate all that amazing about each child in the class. This is sure to be a memorable keepsake!

Lastly, just for fun, I copied all of the words from all of the students and created one class Wordle. It describes this year’s class perfectly. Here it is:

Screen shot 2014-06-05 at 10.27.39 PM


Teacher of the Year Leadership Summit



Once a teacher of the year, always a teacher of the year. And with that comes some amazing opportunities. One of which is my chance to help my friend, Alex Kajitani, with his first ever Teacher of the Year Leadership Summit. This summit is designed to bring together amazing educators from all over California to help develop our leadership skills. My part in the summit is to share how technology can help connect you to the world of education beyond your classroom walls, school site, and even your district.

The  big idea I want you all to take away is that becoming a connected educator will   not only impact your leadership skills, but will ultimately impact your classroom and change you as an educator forever. Here are three ways you can become a connected educator:

1. Blog!

Here are some great blogging tools:

Here are some of my favorite educational bloggers:

2. Social Media

Perhaps one of the biggest game changers in my career was connecting with educators from around the World. While my teammates and I can come up with some amazing ideas in our classroom… we can learn so much more from educators from all over. There have been several times during planning meetings where we are stuck on an idea. Then my teammates will say, “Ask your Twitter friends!” And it never fails, when I ask my PLN they always come up with an amazing answer or tool to help.

Teacher of the Year Leadership Summit.027

3. Vlog!

What does that even mean? Right? Well is is the combination of video and blog. Vlog! Some educators are beginning to vlog and share their ideas via  video conferencing. Here is a list of some of my favorite vloggers or vlogger shows:

Since becoming a Teacher of the Year, I have become more comfortable sharing what happens in my classroom with so many people. Using social media and blogging has really opened my classroom doors even wider. Since I began to share my classroom strategies and ideas on Twitter and my blog there has been an amazing side effect… I have learned far more from my PLN than I have shared. And that is the whole idea!

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Earth Image found on Wikipedia Commons.