Monday, November 23, 2015

Flipping for Screencasting!

Hi Friends,
    I'm back to tell you about another fabulous tech tool that I was introduced to at the Summer Institute of Digital Literacy.  It's called Screencastify and it's so much fun to use!

     As students of the Institute, we had to put our project reflection into a screencast.  We were given a quick tutorial and sent on our merry way.  The shocking part is that we were actually successful!  At first, I thought we were going to fail the assignment but Screencastify is VERY user-friendly.  In fact, check out my screencast on screencasting by clicking on the presentation below.

   Why should you start screencasting?  It's the perfect tool to flip your classroom.  Imagine the possibilities when you give your students the tools they need to reteach themselves when concepts may be difficult or the ease of which an absent student can get caught up on missed concepts.  For these reasons, and so many more, it is definitely worth your time to start making your own screencasts.

    Why Screencastify?  Screencastify is a free chrome extension that lives to the right of your omnibox (URL box).  The paid version removes the watermark and allows for videos longer than 10 minutes.  I was very happy with the free version for a couple of reasons.  First, I know that I quickly lose interest when watching tutorials that are way too long.  So when I''m making videos for my students, I keep them short and sweet.  I've read several times that video tutorials should be less than two minutes with under a minute being the ideal length.  Trying to keep to that rule of thumb has really improved my screencasting skills.  Second, I didn't mind the Screencastify watermark on my videos.  In fact, it motivated my students to go to the website and create their own screencasts!

     I did, however, feel the need to upgrade when I became a technology coach.  I did not want the watermark on all of my screencasts which were now being created for my colleagues.  And I was worried that I would need more than 10 minutes for a video length.  I was definitely wrong on the length so I basically upgraded to remove a watermark...oh well.  :)

    A big part of my life now is professional development and training.  This is both terrifying and exciting at the same time.  I LOVE it!  Click on the presentation below for more information on screencasting.  More importantly, have fun with it!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Do You Popplet?

Hi Friends,
    As promised, I'm back with a review of a new tech tool that I was introduced to at the Summer Institute of Digital Literacy in late July.

Popplet is a free online web tool that allows the user to create mind maps and brainstorming diagrams.  The free version enables the user to save up to five popplets at a time.
Benefits of using Popplet:
  1. It has a very easy to use interface.
  2. You can add content from Vimeo, YouTube, or simply by uploading from your computer.
  3. Popplets can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, or by emailing a link.
  4. Collaborators can be added to a Popplet which makes this extremely versatile for teaching.
  5. Popplets can be embedded into your website, blog, wiki, etc.
  6. There is also an easy to use presentation mode.
Constraints of Popplet:
  1. You can not customize text (other than size).
  2. You can not edit images once inside a popple.

As an elementary technology coach, I feel that this tool is an invaluable addition to any teacher’s or administrator’s toolbox.  Besides Popplet’s obvious uses of mind mapping and brainstorming, Popplet can be used in a multitude of ways, making this tool one of the fastest growing in popularity. In addition to Popplet’s wide range of use, there are several more reasons to check it out.  First, Popplet takes only a couple of minutes  to get registered.  Registration is clear and concise.  Next, Popplet has a very small learning curve.  It’s ease of use alone (for any novice) is enticing to today’s very busy educators.  Finally, this tool is appealing to a variety of learners.  The visual learner is the most obvious but because one can insert video, audio, and text, it is appealing to these learning styles as well. 

Popplet has many valuable uses some of which are listed below:
  1. Teacher/Student Uses -
    1. Create a graphic organizer for prewriting purposes during a writers workshop mini lesson.
      1. The popplet can be shared with students so that they can complete the graphic organizer with their own ideas.
      2. The popplet can be displayed while students refer to it to complete their own graphic organizer.
    2. Create a blank timeline for a Social Studies lesson.
    3. Create a popplet that will demonstrate the system in town administration for a rules and laws lesson.
  2. Administrative Uses:
    1. Make a visual plan of the school’s upcoming year.
    2. Map out the goal’s for the year.
    3. Introduce the staff (with images) to everyone.

This is just a small sampling of how Popplet can be used in a classroom or school. Click on the video below to see just how easy it is to create a popplet.

Now check it out for yourself and let me know how you used Popplet in your classroom.

Have a great school year!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

"You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  There is no other like you." ~ Angela Cooke-Jackson

     Wow!  What a week!  A team of teachers from my district just spent an entire week at URI's Digital Literacy Institute.  It was absolutely amazing. I am inspired but overwhelmed, encouraged but fearful.  I have learned so much at one of the best conferences I have ever attended.  The quote above was my favorite quote from the week.  It really hit home with me as I embark on a new journey in my district.  At the time it was spoken, I was feeling much anxiety about expectations - from admins, from colleagues, even from myself.  These words caused me to step back and take a breath.  I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason.  I believe there's a plan that was created for me but not by me.  These words reminded me of just that and just when I needed to hear them.  Funny how that always seems to happen...

   Getting back to the conference ~ Like most teachers (if not all) I had goals for this week.  After all, I was spending nine hours a day with these people.  It was going to be worth my time if it killed me.  So here's what I was looking for:

  1. To learn some new tech tools that I could bring back to my colleagues.
  2. To begin thinking deeply about my new position and how I could be my very best at it.
    That was it.  Not too lofty, right?  After the first day, it was clear that I did not shoot high enough.  I knew right away that I was going to meet and surpass my goals.  I even participated in an unconference as a presenter! There were only five participants but I didn't know that when I threw my name in the hat.  I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and I did.  It was great! 

I'm sure you've heard of the SAMR Model.  It's illustrated below.

   Fluency in digital literacy will move teachers and students through this model until proficiency is reached.  It is critical that digital literacy become a natural part of the classroom - just like literacy itself.  

   In order to accomplish this, we need to move beyond the cool tool excitement and into a mindset that understands that the tool of choice is considered last in planning.  It was such a relief to hear this and at a TECH conference, no less!  The learner, the standards, the outcomes all need to be considered first.  Only then should we be deciding which tool will best meet our needs as educators of the digital natives.

    I'll be back later to highlight some of the 'cool tools' we learned about this week.  In the meantime, consider will you encourage digital literacy among your students?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Google Forms & Guest Blogging

Hi Friends,
                                the techie teacher-button
      Tonight I'm over at The Techie Teacher blogging about Google Forms.  For my first time as a guest blogger, I decided to focus on why EVERYONE should be using google forms in their classrooms and at home.  Check it out HERE.  Thanks, Julie!

Monday, June 29, 2015

A+ Images, You Rock!

Hi Friends,

    Popping in again to tell you about an awesome promotion happening right now on A+ Images. They make custom shirts, teacher apparel, and the world's most amazing class shirts.  Check out the picture below...

     Now I know what you're thinking.  Why on earth would you get a T-shirt that says 'Hopelessly Devoted' when you just changed your blog name?  Well, here's the story...

     Last Wednesday, I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office while my husband was having a procedure done.  I had my laptop and was catching up on my blog reading.  I came across this post written by The Techie Teacher.  Then I came across another post (and I can not, for the life of me, remember who it was...) that said the t-shirt was free.  FREE!  It peaked my I checked them out.

   I couldn't find where it said 'free for teachers' on the site but I had time to kill so I figured I would play around and design a shirt.  I wanted to see how it would look and I wanted to know the price in case the free deal was over.  After designing my shirt, I had the option to request a quote.  That sounded like a good plan.  I would get the quote and then redesign the T-shirt with my new logo when it was ready.  (Remember that little waitlist I mentioned in my last post?)

   Well, this company is on the ball, let me tell you.  That evening, I received an email saying that my t-shirt had shipped!  Holy guacamole, that was fast!  And it arrived today!  Today is only Monday.  It has been only 5 days since I requested the quote and I already have the T-shirt.  That's unbelievable!  And yes, it was 100% free (my favorite price).

   At first, I thought, Oh no! This is not the T-shirt I wanted.  But guess what?  The T-shirt I wanted would not have made it in time for Vegas.  My new blog is not being updated until next week.  So then I had an even better thought.  This is perfect actually! Now I can wear this shirt to show who I was while I introduce the new me.  Love it!  Now if only the business cards make it here on time...  :)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Job, New Blog!

Hi Friends,

   Actually, it's the same blog but it's got a new URL to match my new job.  I've just recently become the first elementary tech coach in my district.  I'm super excited about this new adventure and I want my blog life to reflect the changes that are happening as well.

   Christi Fultz from Designs by Christi will be working on making the changes here at Hopelessly Devoted.   The first time I decided that a change was needed, I simply shortened my blog name but kept the same URL.  My very first blog was called Hopelessly Devoted to Teaching.  It had this really cute Grease theme going which I loved because Grease is one of my all-time favorite movies.  It made sense.  People got it.  When I got tired of the look, I was terrified to change my URL, which by the way, was ...way too long!  So I simply shortened the blog title to Hopelessly Devoted and got a beautiful new look from Christi.  I really, really love my new look but it no longer makes sense.  People no longer get it.  I am happy (with the look) but unhappy.   Sigh...

   Fast forward a couple of years, and now I'm a tech coach.  Now's a good time.  Don't be afraid.  It makes perfect sense to change the URL.  I decided to bite the bullet and sacrifice everything I have worked for and achieved with my little blog.  Deep breaths...

   Because I wanted to keep the same look and all of my posts, Christi recommended that I edit the URL of Hopelessly Devoted.  This made me very happy.  It saved me money and more importantly, it saved my work.  All she has to do to update my blog is change the Title and fix all of the new links.  Of course, I added some new features because I had just saved quite a bit of money.  Why not, right?

   Then some really great people over at the New England Teacher Bloggers Facebook page helped out with my new identity.  A very big thank you goes out to Sally DeCost, Sara Frampton, Jillian Starr, Vera , Bex Mawn, and Jodi Durgin.  With Jodi's expert advice and all of their wonderful suggestions, I was able to come up with Tech Teacher Tidbits as my new identity.  I love it and would not have gotten there without their help.  If any of these ladies are unfamiliar to you, you simply MUST check them out and give them a follow.  It will be worth your time, I promise you!

Elementary Matters
  Frampton's FUNdamentals  

The Tutu Teacher  

     In the meantime, my new URL is  The blog still says Hopelessly Devoted because well, when you love a great designer there's a little bit of a waitlist.  It's not bad and well worth the wait.  I'm really excited to see the changes and updates, though.

   Now, I know what your thinking.  Are you crazy?!  Don't you know you will lose your followers?! The simple answer is yes.  The real answer is that I agonized over this for two years and all I can say is that it just feels right to do it now.  But here's the thing, I still see my followers.  See...?
   What does this mean?  Are they still there?  Why am I there twice?  Will I still show up in their blog readers?  I don't know the answers but if anyone out there does know, please tell me.  I've been jumping back and forth between REALLY, REALLY excited and REALLY, REALLY sad.  It's a tough place to be.  I even mentioned it on FB when I thought I kept my followers.  Oh my God, if someone had changed their URL and I was wrong...that could've been so, so bad.  :(

   Anyway, please leave a comment if you know the answer to my question.  Are my followers still there?  And please consider following me at my new address -  

   Thank you very much, my friends!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Vegas, Anyone?

Just thought I'd put it out there that the SDE National Conference in Vegas is happening in July.  

Click the picture above for a link to the conference.
There are conference days for I Teach K, I Teach First, I Teach Second, Differentiated Instruction, and more.  There's also A Power Up conference day which focuses on technology; a topic which is near and dear to my heart.

Click the picture above for a link to the conference.

And finally...and perhaps best of the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference.  

I have to admit that it's the TpT conference that I am looking forward to the most!  I missed it last year (my daughter got married...yikes!) but I promised myself that I would not miss it this year.  So I ask, are any of you wonderful bloggers and/or sellers heading that way?  How about any of my New England blog buddies?  I'd love to start connecting and planning some fun!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Green Screen Fun

Hi Everyone!

    It's another Snow Day here in New England so it's the perfect time to blog.  I've really enjoyed catching up on my blog feed these past couple of days.  You people are simply amazing and always make me smile.  Thank you!
    Let's start with my latest Tech Teaching.  These past few weeks of science have been about weather.  We've covered everything from the seasons to the water cycle to severe weather storms.  The students have really gotten into it thanks to these fantastic ladies - Amanda Madden from Teachers Clubhouse, Erica Bohrer of Erica's Ed-ventures, and Christina Bainbridge from Bunting, Books and Bright Ideas.  To get to the exact items that I used, click the images below.

    I thought it would be great to end the unit with some green screen fun and the kiddos completely agreed with me (as all good students should! ;) )  So we got right to work on our severe weather posters.  The students were able to chose which severe weather they wanted to talk about and the researching began.

    Once the posters were complete, the students practiced with a buddy to present their information.  I LOVE when their little personalities come out in ways that we don't often get to see.  They are so fun-loving and adorable when we let them have time to be creative...sigh!

    When students felt they were ready to be recorded, we broke out the green screen.  You should've heard the ooohs and aaahs - it was awesome!  You can buy these on Amazon pretty inexpensively or you can use a piece of green cloth, a green tablecloth, etc.  This particular green screen came from the ISTE 2014 conference.  I actually won it at a workshop that I attended.  If you've never been to ISTE...   It. Is. A. Must. DO.  Trust me!

    After the initial kinks were worked out, the classroom transformed into a recording studio.  All I had to say was "Recording now" and the room fell silent while one of their classmates became a meteorologist right before their eyes.  I DIDN"T EVEN HAVE TO USE MY TEACHER VOICE!  In between recordings, they went right back to researching and collaborating.  These are second graders I'm talking about  - it was a beautiful couple of days which is all it took for me to record 23 students during Science time only, I swear to God!

    Once recorded, a student was able to add the green screen effects.  I kept it simple for their first time.  All they had to do was add one or two background photos to their video.  I had already searched for severe weather photos and added them to the camera roll ahead of time.

    We used an app called Green Screen by Do Ink.  It is extremely user friendly and the students took right to it with no effort at all.  I'm working on a tutorial which I will post soon.  In the meantime, check out the video below for a look at the final piece.

    As for the initial kinks, they were simple fixes as well.  First, the student should speak clearly - not too fast or too slow.  They also need to be somewhat loud.  My school has surround sound in every classroom, so they wore my mic to make it easier.  Second, make sure you see only the green screen in the background.  You can't edit the video in green screen to get rid of anything extra.  I'm sure there are apps to edit video but that seemed like an extra, unnecessary step.  I like things easy, people.

   The kiddos are really looking forward to watching all of their weather reports when we get back to school...fourth snow day...sigh!