OCCUE: Thank You!

The goal of attending a conference is attain resources that are applicable to your content area/grade level. OCCUE did not disappoint!

The day began with a wonderful presentation entitled “Let’s Get Serious About Play”. Kelly Hines (@kellyhines) discussed the cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play. She also shared the Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2015. Desired skills include: Strategic Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, Leadership Skills, and Communication Skills. How do we foster these skills in our students? Let them PLAY. Let them CREATE.

Brandi Miller (@teacherbrandi) and Myra Deister (@shhsMath) kept the day rolling with presentations which focused on a variety of engaging apps that can be used in the classroom.

Myra shared an app called Smart Seat which is iTouch, iPhone, and iPad compatible. This app costs $4.99, but she explained that she can easily take roll, call on students during a class discussion, and create a list of detailed data for each student.

smart seat

Screenshot from Myra Deister’s presentation.

Brandi’s presentation focused on Multimedia. There are so many ways in which we can apply multimedia to our classes. We can share content and collaborate during a unit of study. We can also share the information with colleagues, parents, and community members after our unit of study is complete.

Throughout the presentation she taught us how to use Thinglink (@ThingLink), Chatter Pix (@ChatterPixIt), Tellagami (@telligami), and Smore (@SmorePages). While not all of the apps are appropriate for my middle school students, I see the benefit of each. I loved the way that Brandi showed how each of the apps can be used with any age student, and how the students can “mash” these apps together to create an inviting presentation. I am going to share these with my students and see how they use it in their upcoming PBL.


Screenshot from Brandi Miller’s presentation.

Our Keynote Speaker, Sylvia Martinez, shared her expertise in a presentation entitled  A Global Revolution Goes to School: The Maker Movement. I have begun to dabble with this a bit this year, and was excited to learn more. Sylvia discussed the Maker Movement in terms of Fabrication, Physical Computing, and Programming. She discussed the importance of peer mentoring; a necessity for success in a maker space.  I am thrilled because our Technology Coach, Jody Green (@peerlessgreen), and I just put together a wishlist for our STEAM Playground. I can’t wait for our students to get an opportunity to explore! Sylvia encouraged us to follow these hashtags as we explore maker spaces: #makered, #makerspace, and #elemaker.

Gina Whitcomb (@dlfyngyrl76) shared her resources for Going Global: Connecting Students Around the World. Global competency is a critical component of education in the 21st Century, and Gina connected Global competency to the existing 4 C’s (collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication). Gina discussed a wide variety of opportunities for connecting including: Mystery Skype, Global Penpals (www.epals.com), Global Read Aloud (www.globalreadaloud.com), and Global Math Task (www.gmttc.blogspot.com).  I connected with Gina on Twitter, and she has already helped me connect with a classroom in Australia who would like to be blog pals.  I am so excited!


Screenshot from Gina Whitcomb’s presentation.

My day of learning ended on a high note with Wes Kriesel’s (@weskriesel) presentation entitled “Give Me a Camera and I Will Change the World”. This presentation focused on the achievements of the Santa Ana Unified School District. Wes started the day calling each of us by name and welcoming us. He then shared the power of #IamSAUSD. This district is transforming the way that schools and students interact with the community. Such a strong sense of pride! I am so inspired by the work he shared, and I am looking for ways to enhance the community outreach in my own district. Wes, you are more than “just a man with a camera”. Thank you for your contribution!


Screenshot from Wes Kriesel’s presentation.

Yesterday was an exceptional day to learn something new!



Who Am I?

Justin Birckbichler (@Mr_B_Teacher) and Mari Venturino (@MsVenturino) recently started a new slow chat on Twitter entitled #Teach20s.  Last week we focused on Personal Identify Statement.

This week we were asked to explore our Professional Identity. This is a more challenging task since my Professional Identity has grown and evolved over the course of my career. When I was 23 and a new teacher, my focus revolved around Classroom Management and learning new content as I was teaching.  I was energetic and optimistic. I volunteered for every extra curricular opportunity that was available. I was selected for various training opportunities and committees; I was dependable and eager to please.

My Professional Identity changed when I became a mother. It wasn’t until I had my son, and began leaving him in daycare that I understood the importance of trusting and believing in the person who is caring for your child. I began to understand the parents who questioned me about having “children of my own”. I have changed how I interact with my students. I think about how I would want my son’s teachers to speak to him. I “get it”.


I decided to reflect on what I am doing in my classroom this year that has altered my Professional Identity. This year will be known as the year of Twitter. The resources and learning opportunities that I’ve gathered since June have culminated in the classroom that I’ve created this year. My students and I are eternally grateful!


My Professional Identity Statement:

I am Teresa. I create a learning experience where ALL voices are heard and valued. I embrace mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. My students explore their passions and take risks knowing that I am there to support them along the journey. We challenge each other in an effort to become our best possible self.

I am once again excited for the new adventures that await me and my students. We are on a journey together and we embrace each day as an opportunity to learn something new. 


Collaboration Time!

Rather than make a resolution I was not going to keep, I decided to choose a word that would permeate my personal life and educational endeavors. My 2016 word…


I am pleased to say that I have been very diligent in focusing my efforts in this area. During the first 8 days of 2016 I have:

  • participated in new chats on Twitter
  • grown my PLN by following new people from various fields
  • collaborated with two of my colleagues on two different projects

Yesterday was an amazing day of collaboration at IMS.  My morning began with a great conversation with Jody Green (@peerlessgreen), our Tech Coach.  I needed additional support with resources for our 6th grade Project Based Learning (PBL).  Jody provided numerous resources, and helped me focus on the crafting of the various lessons.   We discussed multiples ways I could share the lessons with the team of teachers. After discussing the options, we decided that lessons will be created using various media. With multiple options, each teacher could choose the lesson format that will meet the needs of their students.

The afternoon was spent working with Brenda Valencia (@mrsvalencia201) and her class of 6th graders. Both of our classes are working on creating websites and blogs.  Since her class began the journey first, her students taught my students how to customize a website. It was wonderful to see the students in charge of their learning.

My students love having control over their site, and I love seeing each student’s personality in their creation.

I am thrilled to be collaborating with both Jody and Brenda this year!  I understand the importance of working with others, and want to extend collaborative efforts to other members on my grade level team. Brenda posted this quote on Twitter recently, and it is perfect…


Yesterday was a great day to learn something new!

Let’s Try Something New…

Blogging 101-today’s assignment: “new-to-you” element.  Well, it’s ALL new to me.  I managed to figure out how to get a picture in my post (I realized that it works best when I’m on my iPad since my schools pictures are stored there). Tonight my plan is to embed tweets to share the excitement from earlier today.

Here goes…

My colleague, Mrs. Valencia, and I spent our Winter Break learning and sharing resources on Twitter. We both joined Professional Development sessions on Voxer, and engaged in wonderful discussions on a variety of topics. One of our topics focused on blogging. We knew that we wanted to have our students write blogs, but neither of us knew where to begin. At the conclusion of the session, we had a plan. Today that plan came to life.

Mrs. Valencia could hardly contain her excitement. Her students began to build websites that surpassed her expectations. I could hardly wait to get in her room and speak to the students firsthand.

Then it hit me-our classes should collaborate! Teachers don’t need to tell if students can show.

Mrs. Valencia loved the idea of having her students work with my class. I immediately shared the news on Twitter. First, I shared on my account.

Next, I switched the class account to share the news.

My students are extremely excited! I can hardly wait until our classes can join in a discussion about how to build a website.

Friday will definitely be a great day to learn something new!



Blogging 101: Let the Adventure Begin

Good evening!  My name is Teresa Lee, and I am a math and language arts teacher from California.  This is my 19th year teaching middle school, and I am loving the changes that have happened in my classroom this year.

My students and I have started Genius Hour and we are having wonderful results. As part of the Genius Hour process, the students are expected to blog about their project and share their project with others. I am a firm believer in never having my students do anything that I would not be willing to do myself. That is why I am here today.

The purpose of this blog is twofold: 1) share classroom projects and day-to-day events and 2) reflect on the teaching/learning in my classroom. My first two posts came pretty easily since they focused on reflection. I stalled on classroom projects and “sharing” for a variety of reasons.

I am participating in this Blogging 101 session so I can improve as a blogger, and so I can become more competent when I am working with my students on their blogs.

I am excited to begin this process. I look forward to connecting with other bloggers so I can learn from their expertise.

Today is a great day to learn something new…