The Grad School Journey Begins

Image via / Kris McNeil

Well, I’m finally doing it. Taking the grad school plunge. I’m really pumped to be getting a degree in a field that I’m so passionate about – Instructional Technology! We set up a blog for the program, and I’m sharing my first post here as well. Hope you enjoy!


Bringing Web 2.0 to Life for Teachers & Students

Bringing It Home


What will YOU do to promote connected education?

What will YOU do to promote connected education?


The Connected Education Echo Chamber

There is a lot of talk these days in education circles about the power of connecting through social media, yet a vast majority of educators have yet to experience the benefits of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for themselves. They hear people talk about it, maybe a friend has even told them about it, but they haven’t taken the leap yet to see what this “connected education” thing is all about? Why? What are they waiting for?




That’s right, I said it – they’re waiting for you, connected educator. They’re waiting for you, planner of school- and district-level professional development. They’re waiting for the people who are connected to start focusing on spreading the message to others instead of just tweeting about how great Twitter is and hoping that other people will get the message by osmosis. It reminds me of a church, where the members spend their time in worship and talking about how amazing their church is, then sit back and wonder why more people don’t show up. One of the major purposes of using social media as an educator is to spread the word and get more educators connected. If you are not intentionally making efforts to do that, then you are only contributing to this echo chamber mentality.


This summer, I made an intentional effort to help show other educators the power of social media, and I am continuing it during this school year. Three of the ways that I have done this are by starting an educational chat for educators in my area (#Gwinchat), including social media as a part of our professional learning at my school, and by personally encouraging and engaging educators new to Twitter and social media.


Start (or participate in ) a Chat

#ISTE2014 Day 1 Recap: It’s All About the Connections



Going in to this year’s ISTE conference, I made it a personal goal to spend more time connecting with people and sharing the story of our students, our school, and my personal passions as an educator. Today was a day spent doing just that! In addition to holding a meet-up for our district teachers and helping several of them get connected to social media, I spent a great deal of my day seeking out and talking to other educators that I’ve connected with on Twitter this year. Todd Nesloney and I spent awhile talking about his new job as principal of Navasota Intermediate School and I also met one of his awesome new fourth grade teachers, Michael Donnelly.


Above all, today taught me that there is power and value in the connections that we make online, but nothing can truly replace face-to-face interactions. You gain new insights on your role as an educator through each new person that you come into contact with. These are the connections that will drive my work in the next year as I seek to be an innovator for positive change within my school, our district, and beyond. A very special shout-out goes to Catherine Flippen and Lindsey Brouillard who were forced to put up with my ramblings and musings throughout the day. Add them to your PLN! They are amazing educators! Here are a few pictures of other amazing educators that I met today!



I have been both humbled and inspired through the connections I have made through social media over the past year, and today provided a glimpse into the power of strengthening those connections as we move forward to change education for the better. Each of these people goes out of their way daily to learn, create, and share their journey with others. Rafranz Davis and Jennie Magiera both touched on this powerful theme in their Ignite session speeches. My goal for this conference is to inspire others to make the connections and share what they learn with others – the true beneficiaries of this work are our students, who need us to provide passionate, relevant learning opportunities each day! Can’t wait for tomorrow!

Spice Up an Old Presentation

Welcome! This year I’m excited to be part of the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. The theme this year is Make The Difference and we are on an amazing world tour. I am your  Inspire Leader for this leg of the journey as we travel to Atlanta, Georgia. I invite you to accomplish the following goal: ‘Spice Up an Old Presentation’’.




Accomplish The Goal

We all have them – those great presentations (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.) that we made a few years back that we love to use every year. We spent a lot of time on them to get them ‘just perfect’, and we love bringing them back out each year or each semester for our new students to learn from. This year, I am challenging you to spice up your old presentation to give it new life and to use it to add some inspiration and motivation to your students’ learning, no matter what the topic or the course. Some suggestions for giving your presentation a little spring cleaning:


  • Update the images in your presentation – consider adding personal images or infographic-style avatars
  • Choose a new theme with a modern or novel layout that will grab students’ attention
  • Eliminate bullet points (or at least use nifty ones like these stars!)
  • Revise your text to include less words per page, and greater screen space devoted to images
  • Add a link to a video
  • Add a poll from Socrative or another web tool to gather formative assessment data during your presentation
  • Narrate and post your presentation to an online host (SlideShare, YouTube, etc.) so students can view it from any internet-enabled device
  • Make a mini-version of your presentation using a new app or web tool


You certainly don’t have to do all of these steps to a single presentation to spice it up. Any 1 or a combination of these steps will breathe new life  into your old presentation and get you thinking about ways to engage your students with the content. Be sure to check out a list of resources at the end of this post to help you accomplish this challenge.

My Reflection


Taking a critical look at my past work is something that I usually dread and will procrastinate or avoid it if at all possible. However, I have realized that being reflective is an essential part of being an educator. If I don’t seek to constantly improve my pedagogy and my practice, I am doing a great disservice to my students. I only have these students once. They only have one shot at learning in my class. I don’t have time to try it out next year, I need to get started now!

In the past year, I have started using Google Slides as my go-to presentation tool. I love the ease with which I can insert images by url, insert YouTube video, and share with my colleagues. Haiku Deck has also been a favorite of mine. I’ve taken an old Revolutionary War presentation and made a deck with only images and titles. It provided a great conversation starter for my students and they were able to learn from the images and from each other without the screen being cluttered with text.


I’m looking forward to learning from you as you take this challenge – I can’t wait to see all of the great work that you and your students do!


About Atlanta, GA


The Peach State; The Heart of the Deep South; Atlanta goes by many names. A  new one will be added this year – home of the ISTE 2014 conference! I’m excited to welcome educators from around the world to Atlanta, GA. We have amazing food, Southern hospitality, and beautiful, lush landscapes to awe and inspire you. Here are a few of my favorite things and places. I hope you’ll be able to visit us in June for ISTE14!



Piedmont Park, a 189-acre urban park, is located less

than a mile from downtown Atlanta attractions



Mary Mac’s has AMAZING southern food! Be sure to check them out for

the best sweet tea, country-fried teak, and, of course, peach pie!


The fabulous Fox Theater is a favorite Atlanta venue for

concerts, shows, and entertainment of all kinds!