Monday, June 29, 2015

What's a 1 in 3, #iste2015? And, why should you attend?

Today, I got to take part in the inaugural ISTE 1 in 3 talk. And, by take part, I mean present. And, by present, I mean be the very first presenter ever of the ISTE 1 in 3 talks. I can't say that the little tidbit did not add to my already-increasing nerves. However, that's not what this post is about. This is about why you should attend them and why you should try these for staff development and future conferences.

Here's what's great: you only have three minutes, which means you get to hear a lot of really inspiring stuff and, if you don't enjoy one, it's only three minutes!

Here's how it works: Each person has a set of slides they have created. There is no restraint to the slides. You can have as few or as many as you want. The catch: you have to say it all in 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, your mic is cut off and your half of the stage goes dark. If you are in mid-sentence, you end in mid-sentence. Meanwhile, the next person immediately begins their presentation from the other half of the stage. The presentations continue alternating on different halves of the stage until the end. The countdown clock starts immediately once the previous presentation is done.

It is intense as a presenter. It also allows you to focus on the gist. It's a great practice for students. Imagine if you had to cut your students down to these? Though I often struggled to get my students to use 3 minutes, I think I could win them over in this format. The focus is on the content and the delivery.

This would also be a great closing/opening session at any conference or professional development. You could even shorten it to 60-seconds. Similar to an elevator pitch, you could have participants share their stories/sessions in 60 seconds in order to win over audience members to their sessions.

The possibilities are numerous.  Having delivered both an Ignite and a 1 in 3, they are different in nature. A 1 in 3 is an inspirational idea. An Ignite can be that, but often it is also a topic of controversy meant to spark/ignite the audience.

There are still two more rounds of 1 in 3s so make sure you attend! You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Life after the #ignite talk #hacked #iste2015

One hour ago, I finished my first ever Ignite talk. It was the most exhilarating and nerve-wrenching five minute presentation I have ever given,

Here's how it works: You submit an idea - in early May - one that will Ignite the world. And, at the end of May, you are given acceptance or denial. Lucky for me, I was accepted. That meant I had two weeks to prepare 20 slides - no less, no more - with a five minute timeline. I had my trusty friend, +Krista Tyler review my slides and my notes. At the time, I thought that would be it. It was only just beginning.

Each slide says on for 15 seconds, which means you have to time your slides and rehearse according to a very strict timeline. It also means you have to get to the point. You have to ignite.

In preparing my Ignite, I realized this would be a great writing practice for students. As I rehearsed, I trimmed down and editing my presentation. In fact, I made an edit every time. What an awesome way to teach the revision process in a holistic way?!

After weeks of small practices, it came time for today. And, I was fortunate enough to go after the awesome Rafranz Davis - superstar from last year! My nerves only grew. But the time came, and I told my story - the one I wanted everyone to hear - the one about students - the one about doing good - the one I hope will ignite others to do good.

Life after the talk? I am more inspired than ever to give my students more real challenges and to find all of my students that have a passion for "hacking" and ignite it and guide it.

In case you missed the Ignite talk, you can check out my presentation (with notes) below. Be sure to catch the rest of the Ignite sessions. This is only round one of four. So much more to Ignite you!!! I only wish I could see them all.


Click on the gear to open the speaker notes that go with this presentation. Message me at @christyfenne if you want to chat about starting student tech clubs. I'd love to connect!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#google search like a ninja #gafechat

Searching and searching effectively are two of my favorite topics. In fact, I think they are critical life skills. So, I've started compiling all of Google's best resources for searching. Check them out and share those I may have missed.

Check out for more details!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Updates to #drawings & #docs &gplus #gafe

Today, I added another great resource from Ditch That Textbook to my Google Drawings faves presentation. Check out his awesome Drawings templates!

And, check out the fantastic Google Docs templates resource I added to my Google Docs faves presentation.

Finally, check out the the information on Google + Collections that I added to my +1 Your Google Life presentation. Though Google + is being divided into pieces, Collections is a great asset. It's the Pinterest of Google +.

All Google Drive presentations can also be accessed through


Share your #EduStory @ktyler_ITS

This week's topic: Who should share their edustory? Write a letter to someone in your pln and ask if they would join Share #YourEdustory?

This is my favorite topic so far! And, it's a perfect way to get others involved in this awesome writing/journaling adventure. 

Many names come to mind when I think of those who should be joining this sharing challenge. I'd love to read the #edustory of my childhood teachers. I'd even love to read the #edustory of my parents, my grandparents, and other key members of my life. When you understand someone's #edustory, you can better figure out their #edufuture. The most important group are students. If I still had a classroom of students, I would ask my students to complete a similar challenge, journaling and sharing their #edustory to one another and to the world. My former students (including myself) could never verbalize or construct their feelings about education into writing or speech. Writing an #edustory blog is a great way to promote visible thinking, metacognition, and self-reflection. 

However, since I can't name all the students or people in my life (many of whom are not on Twitter), I choose Krista Tyler, one of my co-workers and someone who is, surprisingly, not doing this challenge. Krista became an instructional technology specialist at my former district a year after me. Since she joined though, life has not been the same. In fact, I look forward to reading her tweets and retweets. I want to know what she has to say because it's creative. This world needs more of the creative folks. She's inspiring. And...I see the impact she has on her students. Heck, last year when we were at ISTE Atlanta, a former student of hers from Austin, Texas recognized her on the street, stopped her, and started conversation. Now, that's a connection. And, it's a critical voice to hear. She needs to share how she impacts students. More people need to hear what she has to say and show. She truly makes learning fun.

So, here's her letter (and, if you know Krista, please shove a computer in front of her and get her typing):

You have been summoned. Yes, you. Your voice noticeably missed from the #edustory blogging challenge. Why is that? We need your voice!

It's really quite simple. Go to this Website and get the Google Calendar of blogging topics. You will be reminded of upcoming blogging topics (once a week) through your phone as well! How cool is that? 

Once a week, you will be given a new topic. Go to your blog creator of choice and type up a new entry each week for that topic. Share it out with the hashtag #edustory. 

Yes, that's it. It's so simple so why aren't you joining it?!

Your voice is a critical voice. The world needs more of it and your enthusiasm. Think of the impact you can have on educators, students, parents, and community members. Share your #edustory.

And, guess what? I can help you get started if you need to. I'm even writing this post to get you interested. And, when you are done writing your first post, bring in another critical voice. Bring in a student. I know you can.

I'll be patiently waiting for your #edustory. 

Your #edustalker,


Now - it's your turn to bring in another voice into the #edustory circle!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

#makelibchat - more making & library resources!

I recently finished reading Sew Electric & The Art of Tinkering, both of which are awesome books for maker environments. And, I highly recommend them for anyone considering creating a makerspace. Today, I added in a resource page from Getting Smart with a list of apps for making on the iPad. Check out the presentation below for more makerspace ideas for your library. And, share out any that you have.

Check out for more resources!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#YourEduStory - What is pedagogical innovation?

This week's topic: what is pedagogical innovation?

According to Meriam-Webster, pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching, especially for an academic or theoretical concept. Likewise, innovation is a new method or product.

If you combine the two definitions, "pedagogical innovation" should mean a new method of teaching.

However, this seems to mean a variety of things to different people. We think of innovation as "better," even though it just means "new." And, as we know, new is not always better. This is where schools, businesses, and governement can be steered incorrectly. We think of innovation and pedagogical innovation as a good thing. But, that translates to: anything new we try must be better or, as some do it: doing something new for the sake of doing something new. This is no different than those who use technology for the sake of technology.

To me, pedagogical innovation is a new method of teaching that enhances previous methods. It is not used merely for the sake of trying something new. This does not lead to new, sustained, methods of teaching. Instead, it leads to the cycles we see in education.

When I first started teaching, my mentor teacher told me that I would see certain practices and methods return multiple times. These methods are not sustained methods of practice. Rather, they are new methods that are used for the sake of trying something new.

A revised definition of pedagogical innovation should include words like: enhance, sustain, transform. These are the new practices we want.

I am a huge believer in maker and creator environments. I am also a supporter of bringing coding and programs like MinecraftEDU into the classroom; however, all of these can fall under practices that may be new, but may not be sustainable. The problem is often in the education surrounding these new methods. Hour of Code produced an awareness around coding. But, many teachers I talk to still do not see or understand WHY it is important. When introducing a new method, it is critical to also emphasize the why. Without the why, it is not sustainable and it will not transform. Instead, it will be just another new idea some teachers feel forced to try.

Pedagogical innovation is also more than coming to a district and initating new practices. It is putting measures in place so they will be sustained. A former boss of mine once told me that true innovation is when, after you leave a place, the practices carry on. If the practices only continue while you are there, you are not innovating. You are introducing a new wave of thought, but you are not transforming.

There is a great video about leaders and followers, as shown through dance. The leaders are those who have the crazy, innovative, new ideas. We need them to introduce new methods. But, we need the followers to create a movement and to sustain a movement. Without the followers, we just have a few crazy ideas. This is pedagogical innovation to me. It is more than a few new methods of teaching. It is a sustained movement within and outside of the school.

How will you sustain and nuture change?

Monday, June 15, 2015

#tceatots - Chrome for K-5!

Sadly, due to some "fun" plane adventures, I ended up spending the night in the airport so I had to cancel my session on creativity in Chrome. However, it is available here for those who want to check out the resources.

Tomorrow, I'm presenting on Secrets of a Google Ninja: Social Studies Ninja. These are the tips, tricks, and tools Google offers that are competely free and perfect for your Social Studies classroom. I hope to see you there @1PM!


Friday, June 12, 2015

#gegct summit tomorrow! #appsu

I am excited to be part of an awesome group of presenters tomorrow and Sunday at the Apps University Summit in Connecticut! In case you miss the resources, you can catch my three sessions here:

Making Google Sites...Beautiful:

Let's Get Chromified:

Google Apps Hacked:

Enjoy and register before tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#coding resources for your summer

Enjoy some new additions to my list of favorite applications to get started into coding. It features everything from outreach and learning the how-tos to articles on the necessity for code in the curriculum. Check out for more coding resources or check out the document below.

Recent additions include:

  • Roominate: Developed by girls for girls to learn STEM
  • Udacity: Teamed with Google to learn Android app development for free
  • Code Fights: Test your coding skills against others

#BeYouEdu: Finding Your Tribe

When +Dr. Will Deyamport, III first mentioned June's topic of finding your tribe, I immediately thought of my career. But, in reading others, I noticed a theme: the people around them made up their tribe. Clearly, a tribe has varied meanings.

Because of this, I decided to look up "tribe." According to Merriam-Webster, a tribe is: a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader. It also said a tribe is a large number of people or a close-knit group.

Perhaps, it was the latter term that brought my instincts to say "career." I feel at home in my career. It is challenge and safe simultaneously. I am surrounded by others who are passionate about change. It is encouraging and frustrating all at once. It is like a family.

After reading the definition, it occurred to me that the definition of tribe itself could cause problems. It states that there is a recognized leader. However, I've never thought of a tribe that way. It has felt equal to me - a place where I can grow as I need to. But, do all feel this way? Do others feel as if there is a recognized leader? Are they followers in their own tribe? Or, am I perhaps the leader of my tribe and I don't realize it? What are you: a leader or a follower? Do you feel like there is room for growth in your tribe?

I know many of my students and teachers are in tribes where there is no room for growth. There is a leader in place that stifles their growth. They need to leave their tribe. Despite the definition, a tribe needs to be a nurturing place. Without that nurturing, the individual and the tribe cannot grow.

For most of my life, I have been a competitive runner (and I'd still be if my knee didn't have a voice the the matter). And, for most of my youth, running was my tribe. I would compete to move up the ladder in my group. I retreated to this group of athletes who knew my journey. It was challenging and nurturing. However, there came a time when I had to leave that tribe after injuries continued to plague me. Now, it is just a part of my past.

You have the right to leave your tribe. If your tribe is prohibiting you from growing or it is causing you pain, leave it.

We often feel loyalty to a tribe, but tribes can be flexible.

I am now part of an innovative tribe. I gravitate toward others who are passionate and excited about making a difference. The members of that tribe change constantly. In many ways, we are wanderers, in search of a tribe that meets our current needs. And, that's okay. Tribes must be fluid. They must allow for turnover and new blood.

I am also part of own family. That tribe continues to change as new members are added and others, sadly, leave.

Be part of a tribe that nurtures you. Be willing to change tribes. Be willing to join multiple tribes. And, be willing to be a leader and a follower.

What's your tribe look like?

Monday, June 8, 2015

#YourEduStory School year reflections

Once again, I transposed weeks so I am backtracking and doing last week's post for this week.

Last week's topic: Most of us are somewhere near the end point of the school year. Reflect on the 2014-15 school year. What went well? What didn't go as well? What changes are you going to make for the 2015-16 school year?

This year, our school board approved the addition of nearly 15 more positions in the instructional technology department where I work. It was a great decision for the district, but it changed my year significantly. Until that point, I split my time between an elementary campus and a high school campus. With the addition of new positions, I was moved to the high school full-time about a week before school started. So, even though I had started many programs at the elementary, I had to abandon them without any notice. It was a bittersweet start for sure.

Because of having to leave some of the programs I enjoyed, I went to the high school with ammo to start secondary versions of the clubs. I was ready to see the same level of enjoyment I had with elementary teachers. I was ready to take on the world. In some ways, I felt invincible. But, I was not.

In many ways, this year was full of changes that forced me to change how I viewed my position and my own goals for my position. I was reminded of baby steps. While you may have intentions of taking on the world, you have to run that idea by the rest of the group. They may not have the same ideas.

Compromise. Smile. Be patient. If I could sum up my year, it would be with those three actions. With every change, you need to compromise. You need to smile. You need to be patient. And, if you can't do all three, smile. Do lots of smiling.

Though I never got our student tech program running in the manner I planned, we did make some small steps. We were able to do professional development, which brought in more teachers into training than we had ever had. The students gave us a new perspective. They moved us away from just being the "IT" office to being a spot where students visited too.

I only had three opportunities for large-scale professional development, which was less than I hoped for. However, all three were more successful than any one previously. They were teacher-driven and allowed for teacher choice. We were able to change technology training away from "how-tos" and more to "whys." Professional development grew.

Several new systems threw in major wrenches into the year. At times, we had to drop everything just to focus on the problems associated with these new systems. And, while I do not wish the havoc those programs caused on any teacher, we did bond as a unit. We learned to improvise. And, we all improvised very well.

This year was not full of earth-shattering events like last year's Google Ninja Academy. However, it was a year of small steps and a year of progression. Last year, we had big events that set into motion many changes. This year, we implemented those changes. This year was more difficult for that reason and the progress was less evident. But, it was there.

Next year, I'll be leaving my current district for a slightly different position with a new set of students and teachers. Once again, I cannot wait to "set the ground on fire." However, I come in with new perspective. As my librarian said: it's not about what you are going to do. You are one person. It's more about what the team will do. So, rather than coming in with a huge set of ideas to change a system I really don't know, I am going to tone down my excitement and "compromise, smile, and be patient." It's a challenge. Many of us in the EdTech field are passionate and we come in with grand ideas, ready to change the world. And, that excitement is needed, but it needs to be put in the context of what the team will do.

What can WE do?

Free images & image marquees for #google #sites!

I love finding ways to make Google Sites more...beautiful (it can be done). So, today, I've added in a list of resources for finding free images as well as how to add marquees to your Website. Check out to find both presentations (Google Sites 1 and Google Sites 2). 

Free images (from John Rampton)

Need Creative Commons or free to use (be sure to cite!) images for your Website? Check out these!

  • Pixabay - A large database of public domain images
  • New Old Stock - Vintage photos from the public archives
  • Unsplash - Graphically pleasing creative commons images
  • Foodie's Feed - High-res food images that are free to use (w/o citation) but cannot be sold..
  • Death to the Stock Photo - Free to use images for commerical images, but must cite appropriately
  • Magdeleine - Great high-res images that are public domain or free to use without attribution

Marquees (from Jedip Verma)

You can also add an image marquee (scrolling bar of images) to any page of your Google Site. Check out how here along with an example.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

#geo tools for the elementary class

I love Google's Geo Tools and already have a presentation of some of the resources specific to geo.  But, I decided to make some revisions for the elementary classroom with lesson/class ideas in the speakers' notes at the bottom of each slide. I'll be sharing this at Tech for Tots next week if you plan on attending.

If you know of other Google Geo tools (elementary) that I'm missing, be sure to comment! Check out the presentation here or below.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Girl Power - empowering girls in education

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to compile all of the resources I had collected on girls in education into one presentation. This year, I have co-sponsored a chapter of Girls Who Code after several of our girls expressed interest in getting more girls into the STEM fields. Since then, I have been on a mission to find more resources to support all ages and all interests. Check out the Girl Power presentation for the full version or, go to

Today, I added in:

  • Information on Margaret Hamilton, the woman coder who saved the moon landing!
  • Amy Poehler's Smart Girls - an organization devoted to imagination and intelligence over fitting in. 
  • Check out this EdSurge article on designing STEM for girls. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

#YourEduStory: Why are, or aren't, graduation and promotion ceremonies important?

This week's topic: Why are, or aren't, graduation and promotion ceremonies important?

Or, what is the role/importance of ceremonies in school/society?

I've been involved in competitive sports since I was six years old and it's no surprise to those who know me that I am extremely competitive. As a child, my parents would stay for the awards ceremonies of races that signified an accomplishment. They never put stock in participant awards. When I was cleaning out my room after college, I found a box of certificates for participation and threw them out. They had no meaning to me.

I finished my first 10K when I was eight years old. I trained for three months for it with a local running group, For Kids Only. I did not medal in the race, but my parents surprised me with a trophy. In this case, I did not place, but it was a significant accomplishment for me so my parents rewarded that.

As much as that trophy meant to me, what I remember is not the ceremony, but the sprinklers at the end and the cheering crowd. I remember the journey - not the culmination.

The same can be said about other ceremonies and graduations. Arriving on that graduation stand means a variety of things to people. For me, it was the last final step before I could go to college. It meant very little to me. For my younger brother, though, it was a significant moment. We did not know until he was handed his diploma if he actually graduated. School was a struggle for him. The ceremony was significant to him.

I attended my Bachelor's ceremony only because my close-knit group of UTeach friends were also attending. It was my last chance to see them before we all moved away. By the time I finished my Master's degree, I did not bother to complete the graduation paperwork. And, by the time of my specialist degree, I did not even know when the ceremony was. For me, what was significant had nothing to do with the ceremony. It was about the journey or the next step. Graduation was another "thing" to do. For others, it is a formal way of marking the end of something, a time to say goodbye.

When I think about the students I work with and their graduation ceremonies. They are more of a celebration of something ending. They are a chance to say goodbye. For some, they mark a new beginning and for others, they are a reminder of a less than comforting future. I had a student one time who admitted to failing because he was not found of the world outside of school. He did not want to graduate. To him, a ceremony was a reminder that his safety was over.

While I know I am an exception with my own personal views on ceremonies as I'm not a ceremonial sort of person, they do serve a marker for some, but can be a slap in the face to others. Now, graduation is an important marker of high school. It's almost a rite of passage.

If we think of graduation ceremonies like other sports awards ceremonies, it looks different. The ceremony may mark a significant accomplishment, but it is not the accomplishment. The focus needs to go on the accomplishment. The ceremonies can be what they are - a time to say goodbye, a rite of passage - but the focus needs to shift.

In sports, yes, I wanted to win. However, the ceremony was never as important as the actual win to me. I always wanted the medal/trophy and the win.

What is your focus on? What will your students remember the most in 10 years? 15 years? 50 years? That's where our time and energy need to go.

More Google Geo Tools for your summer! #gafechat

Recently, I found a few Chrome extensions and sites I can't live without anymore. So, I have shared them on the Geosize Your Google World presentation, also found on

I just added: