Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tell me and I will forget

I must share the excitement I am currently experiencing. You know...the joy you feel when a student blows your mind with something amazing. If you have never witnessed this effect, you might need to re-think your teaching methods.

2015-12-02 08.55.13.jpgWell, yesterday, my principal shared a cool new device Google calls ‘Cardboard.' Yes, it is just cardboard. But this one is packaged colorfully in Google style. She gladly handed it over to me.  

I am an Elementary Instructional Specialist Technology Teacher. Whew! I teach, train, support, and plan collaboratively with teachers and students in the effort to integrate hands-on experiences and technology into classroom instruction. I also like to tinker and make. Students work alongside me during their recess times or after school to tinker and make as well.  

Commercial over; back to my story.

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So, I took the Google Cardboard into my after school class and handed it to one student. I was expecting many questions like what is this? What am I supposed to do with this? How does it work? Can you show me? No! I did not get a response at all. This student opens it up, figured out how to manipulate the box to simulate a viewfinder. Now came the puzzled look. His facial expression said what next? I had to provide some direction. Questioning is a tool I love to use with my curious students. I asked him where could we go to find out more? He quickly said the Internet and proceeded forward. He found the Google Cardboard site and discovered an app was needed. He downloaded the app, and my involvement was over.   

But it didn't stop there. Here is where the excitement enters. This student wanted his very own cardboard viewer. Together we searched the Google Cardboard site and found how to purchase one. And then we saw where you can build it yourself. The student’s eyes lit up like he was just gifted with a new Playstation. He immediately started looking for materials he would need to create his own cardboard viewer. But we could find them all before dismissal. I promised him I would have the materials and tools needed for the next day.

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Tomorrow was a little too late. This student could not stop thinking about what he could do if he just had the materials and time. Before he left the school building he had gathered a few, but not all of the materials needed to make his cardboard. He almost gifted himself some lenses from the Science lab, but I warned him against it. He got home, notified his family that he would working on something for school and did not want them to disturb him for about two hours (why for school?... that’s another conversation). He shared it took him three hours. He made his own Cardboard!

Again, if this does not excite you as an educator, you might want to re-consider your practice. Five days a week for about 180 school days, teachers enter a classroom and present new information and materials to students. We often benchmark and assess for understanding and mastery because it is good instructional practice and expected. But we seldom provide opportunities for our students to apply what they have learned. After all, how do we ever expect our students to practice the soft skills needed for the real world like creativity to innovate. Thank you Google for inspiring this child to do more than just doing school.

Angelique Moulton
Interventionist Specialist Technology Teacher
Westwood Elementary/ Spring Branch ISD

Houston, Texas

Friday, February 13, 2015

On Posting-Get Your Blogging On!

You know if you post, they will read!  That is true. If you are consistent in posting very frequently, more people will come back to read. I am trying to encourage myself to be more consistent in my posts and to also encourage other fellow bloggers too.  Here are my thoughts about blogging:

  1. It is a cathartic action.  You get to write to find yourself.  You get to write to let some feelings out and vent.  
  2. You can be creative.  It is your blog.  You decide what you want to post and when you want to post. You are the boss of your own destiny.
  3. Someone will eventually read it.  They may like it or hate it.  It really doesn't matter because people you may not know are reading it.
  4. You can make your writing grow along with your ideas.  Ideas come from experience and contemplation.  Sometimes you don't even know your message or idea until your flesh it out in writing.  Ideas are born through writing.
  5. Writing is a social act.  You may get some comments from time to time. It is such a unique idea to know that you are possibly connecting with people all over the world.  Through Google stats you can pinpoint your audience.  It will tell you how many page views you have by day, week, month and all time.  You can also see how many people are viewing certain posts.  This way you can see what people are paying attention to.  That may narrow your focus on certain types of posts.  It is nice to know that your audience is global!
  6. Writing digitally is fun!  Getting your idea out there is thrilling and worth the effort. It doesn't have to be perfect, just out there.
These are my thoughts about blogging and posting. I am sure I have more, but I haven't thought of them yet because I haven't written them down. Happy blogging!  Get your blogging on!  POST! POST! POST!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Follow your heart
Have you ever been advised to do something and you kind of ignored it? You know you should listen but you have a million and one excuses why you just can't get started. And then one day...confirmation! Some small voice gets you to act.

I was fortunate to attend the 2015 TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) conference held in Austin last week. It is always exciting to be among like-minded people sharing ideas and discussing the possibilities of the use of technology in education. It was three days of listening, learning, and being motivated to do more upon returning to our home campuses. 

But the best part of my conference was meeting the people I follow daily on Twitter. The goal is to teach global communication skills to our students, but educators rarely seek those opportunities for themselves. The 2015 TCEA conference allowed me to meet and hear fellow Tweeters share their ideas in the flesh. But what happens when someone who you have never anticipated meeting confirms what you have been advised to do all along by a co-worker you see almost daily in your school building? 

Well, I can now answer that question.  You listen, and then you act! I have been encouraged for more than a month to write my ideas, thoughts and feelings in a blog.  I have resisted and ignored my inner need to share a part of me in words. It took a small voice from my Tweeter world to speak life into what my co-worker had been encouraging me to do all the while. But that voice made it loud and clear that I should have listened the first time those words spoke to my heart. I was told by a fellow tweeter my voice needs to be heard. Affirmation? Heck yea!

Thank you Maureen Ucles for encouraging me to share small pieces of myself with those who care to know. May I continue blogging and growing myself and others through words. 


I love to talk with Angelique because we have so much in common. She shares some really cool websites and is totally addicted to technology.  It is nice to find such a kindred spirit.

I wonder though, and I know this is off task, does she know when Xtranormal will relaunch?  I am so desperate to make more fun videos using this tool. It is way better than GoAnimate.  GoAnimate is a great tool, but when you have experienced Xtranormal, anything else is a step down.

Does anyone out there know when and if Xtranormal will return?  I know that a group bought it and was going to relaunch, but hasn't done so yet. In the meantime, is there any software that could compare to it?  I would buy it, providing it isn't too expensive for a teacher's budget.  Chime in!

I will leave you with an Xtranormal video, if I can find one of my old ones.

Today Is Special

This is my first post for Today is Special!  Angelique invited me to join so now I feel the pressure to post something very profound.  Since Angelique is a rather techie person, I think that I would like to share one of my videos that I produced with Camtasia.  I hope you enjoy and remember, everyday is special.  Some days are better than others.  Any day that I can post is a day that I am super chill and be myself!  Express yourself!