Thursday, November 6, 2014

Texas STAR Chart

Every year all teachers in Texas are required to complete the Texas STAR Chart. This survey asks teachers to respond to questions about their use of technology in the classroom, the training they get for technology, the support of their campus and administrators and the infrastructure of the district's network. This data is used by campus and district staff for planning in the area of technology initiative and integration.

Many teachers see the STAR Chart as an annual task and are happy to get it off their "to do" list, but what they may not realize is how important their answers are. Not only does the data get reported to TEA each year, district tech teams use teachers' answers for planning PD, tech plans, instructional goals and equipment purchases.

This presentation includes the STAR Chart questions with a summary of what Target Tech for each of those questions means:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Stitch Fix - a website for that has nothing to do with Education

A coworker of mine stopped me about a month ago to tell me about this new site she read about in Good Housekeeping. The site, called Stitch Fix, connects users with a virtual stylist who takes all of the information you add to your style profile and selects 5 items to send to you. The styling fee is $20 and shipments can be scheduled every two weeks, monthly, or every other month. Keep what you want and your credit card will be billed for those items. Return what you don't want in the prepaid shipping box you get with you fix. If you decide to keep all 5 items, you get a 25% discount. Plus your $20 styling fee is applied to anything you keep.

There is even ways to earn credit. Each user gets a referral code (mine is If someone uses your code link to register, you get $25 credit towards future purchases. You can also post a picture of yourself in a Stitch Fix item on social media with the hashtag #stitchfixfriday to enter a weekly contest for $50 credit.

I love this idea for several reasons:

1. I live in the middle of nowhere. The nearest mall in 45 minutes away and they are limited in options. The idea that a professional stylist is picking my clothes and they come to my house is worth the $20. Plus, I would pay more than $20 for gas to and from a decent shopping establishment.

2. I can try stuff on with other items in my closet. I hate buying something that I think will match, but then when I get it home it doesn't match and I have to return it. This takes the hassle out of trying to remember what you have and make imaginary outfits in your head.

3. I hate online shopping for clothes because I never know if they will fit. It is a hassle to return items online. The folks at Stitch Fix realize that returning items in a huge possibility so they make it easy.

My first Stitch Fix is in transit to me even as I type. I can't wait to see what is in my box!!!

4. It's like Christmas morning as many times a year as I want!!!

Tools for Embedded Librarianship - TLA District 1

The wonders of technology!!! So tomorrow morning I am going to sit in my living room at my home on the Texas coast, probably in my pjs, and speak to the TLA District 1 Fall Meeting in San Angelo, TX eight hours away.

Here is my presentation:

And here is a link to The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education.

A question was asked about royalty-free pictures. Here is a link to a collection of resources from a training I did a few years ago:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Job, New Blog

I have started a new position as Director of Instructional Technology for Bay City ISD. Many challenges, many opportunities, tons of rewards.

Here's my new blog address:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sub email Accounts in Gmail

Another reason I love Google, but where have I been?!?

Yesterday I was conducting a workshop for elementary teachers on Digital Learning. We discussed a few web tools, like Animoto, Voki, and others, which require user accounts. One of the teachers (thanks Aurora Aparicio!) said she used sub email in her Gmail account for her students to setup web tool accounts. Brilliant!!

To make this work, the teacher needs to setup a gmail account. I would not use my personal gmail, but setup one that is "teachery" in nature. For me it could be "" or "". Once you have setup the email, you can use as many sub accounts as you wish. You do not have to setup additional account, just assign the students an email that is attached to your own. For example, if my email was "" a sub email could be "". The email delivery system will ignore what is between the + and @ signs. The emails will be delivered to your Gmail inbox. The + sign after your email username is required for the sub email accounts to work.

It would also be a good idea to setup up a filter in the email so that all emails sent to the sub email gets put into its own folder. This will keep your email from getting overwhelmed as well as give you a folder for each student's work. Animoto, for instance, generates an email when each video is completed. Using sub email and filters, that email will be delivered to the student's folder in your email and you will just have to click the link to view and grade the finished project.

There is setup involved on the part of the teacher, but it is worth it! Of course if your school has student emails for all students then let the kids setup their own account. But if your kids don't have an email, this would be a great work around!

Friday, May 23, 2014


On Wednesday I presented at the annual Region 3 ESC School Board Conference. This is the third time I have presented at this conference in the past four years. This year my topic was "Tech Integration: Forget What. Let's Talk Why and How." I concentrated on reasons why technology integration was important with today's students and how it can be successfully included in instruction. Schools sometimes get so bogged down in what devices to buy that they miss the purpose of what digital learning is all about.

I decided to demonstrate a device neutral application to add some engagement in my presentation. I have used Socrative, Poll Everywhere, and Infused Learning in sessions before so I wanted something new. I decided to try Kahoot ( Unlike the other response systems, Kahoot acts more like the trivia games you see in restaurants where your get points based on how quickly you answer a question correctly and displays a leaderboard after each question. My quiz was types of instructional technology so I used an image of each device and the participants selected the name of the device from three choices. Just for fun I gave a prize to the winner of each game.

This tool would be useful in classes with any type of web-connected device. Teachers can create quizzes to start each class that review content from the day before. The winner of the quiz could get a free homework pass or extra points. This game-based student response system works perfectly for many types of scenarios. Kahoot also offers survey and discussion formats.