Friday, March 31, 2017


I started a blog post a few weeks ago, but never hit post. I have it in my drafts waiting for another time. This week however, I'm at #NSTA17 in LA. There is nothing like presenting at a conference to make me realize how neglected my poor little blog has become. Something about teaching full time and having three kids makes that happen.

Yesterday I had the privilege to share STEAM in Action at the National Science Teachers Association Conference. It was a 30 minute session and went SO fast. I could have easily talked for an hour. I was pleased with how it went and I made some great contacts.

Now I get to enjoy the rest of the conference! So far I've heard Bill Nye and Andy Weir speak. How cool is that?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

First Grade Garden Preview

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since my last post! I've been busy with these darlings.

I went back to work just before winter break. Working full time with three kids has been an adjustment, but it is going well. The baby is already 8 and a half months. My oldest finishes kindergarten in just a couple of weeks. Time flies!

I have some posts planned for this summer, but I wanted to share this video before then. I worked with the first grade team on an amazing project the last couple of months. This was the promotional video we put together before the big culminating activity.

I plan to share more of the behind the scenes once the end-of-school craziness dies down, but I couldn't wait to share the preview!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Earthenware Explortions: A STEAM Unit Overview

Last summer I applied for and won a License for Learning Grant. The STEAM Lab was a fine art classroom before, so it still has a kiln. Last year I did projects with my kindergarten and fifth grade classes.  My goal for the year was to be sure that all my classes got to participate in a ceramics project. Thanks to the grant funds each of my 18 classes got to do a ceramics project related to math/science concepts taught in the regular classroom.

Here is an overview of the projects that we did:

Kindergarten: Ladybugs (insects)
First Grade: Shape bowls (geometry)
Second Grade: Footprint Necklaces (measurement)
Third Grade: Bells (sound energy)
Fourth Grade: Owls (heat energy)
Fifth Grade: MC Escher hot plates (area)

I consulted with an art teacher I worked with at summer camp who talked me through the ordering process. Each student started with clay and formed their project. We waited for the pieces to dry and did a bisque fire.

This was the first time I attempted using glaze. I was nervous, but it went well.

I managed to keep everything organized. This cart was my organizational crutch. I sorted the projects by class/grade. That being said, we *might* have finished the fourth and fifth grade projects on the last full day of school, but it all got done!

Grades 1-5 took pictures and posted about their individual projects using Padlet. This was a great way for me to remind students to focus on the classroom math/science content.

I plan to post about each of the projects over the next week or so. This was one of my very favorite projects. I'm already working on finding funding to continue next year.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

iPad Apps from the STEAM Lab

After two years of requests, this spring I got a class set of iPad minis thanks to a school wide technology grant. Knowing they were on the way, I spent a little over a month going through the apps I wanted to include. I organized them in a Google Doc for our IT specialist.

I started with the STEAM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. I added folders for Augmented Reality, Creation Apps, Coding, Photography, and Video. The list is available here. I plan to update the spreadsheet later this summer.

I moved the Utilities (including Settings), and other standard apps that you can't move to the second page. There is a link to my Portaportal on the second page as well.

We spend most of our time App Smashing using the Creation Apps folder. The pottery app is the student choice. While I still feel like we have just started to scratch the surface, I'm loving these new resources.

I have a few minor tweaks planned this summer. There are a few apps I don't think we need that are taking up valuable space. I want to add KonaKona and Popplet. Is there anything else that you think I'm missing?

The other big purchase was a class set of wireless Bluetooth headphones.

I tried headphones with the iMacs when I first started in the STEAM Lab. The first week I had two computers pulled down by well intentioned kindergarteners that forgot they were still wearing the headphones. I quickly removed the headphones and muted the volume. For about a year I searched for wireless headphones that could work in the lab setting. One of our first grade teachers recommended Lil Gadgets. I've had a class set of the Untangled Pro headphones for three months now. So far I'm impressed. They come in several colors - white was not my choice! They are a small company and have a year warranty. They are worth checking out.

I have been really happy with these new additions to the STEAM Lab.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer Days

The school year ended and I went right into summer camp. I've taught drama at the enrichment camp at my school for about 7 years now. I've always done half days, but this summer I was able to pick up mornings teaching STEAM as well. It is laid back and fun, but working 8-5 each day at 6 months pregnant is hard. The extra money will allow me to extend my maternity leave in the fall though, so it is more than worth it!

My oldest starts kindergarten in the fall. She is at camp with me this summer and loving every minute of it! I actually stayed home today because her younger brother was sick. I finally had time to look at the presenter details for ISTE. I had no idea the poster area would be so large! I've done both these presentations at other conferences, but now that school is out I need work on updating and final touches. I'm really looking forward to the conference!

I also have wrap up posts planned for this week. I have neglected my blog in all the craziness of this school year, but there were several projects that I really want to share.

I hope your summer is going well!

Monday, March 9, 2015

St. Patrick's Day 2016 Preview

It's been quiet here on the blog for a while, but with good reason.

My two preschoolers are over the moon with excitement!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wrapping up 2014

I'm sitting on the couch watching my Arkansas Razorbacks in the Texas Bowl. It is the first time this since school let out that I've pulled out my laptop and done anything at all work related. Even then, it is mostly fun and not "work." I have stopped by my classroom a few times, but only to feed the fish and water our seedlings. Newspaper pots, anyone?

My husband and I splurged a few days before Christmas. We hired "The Maids" to come in and deep clean the house. It had to be one of my very best ideas ever. After that, I declared this to be the Christmas of no mess and no stress. Amazingly enough, it actually worked. I'm considering making 2015 the year of no stress and no mess. We'll see how it goes!

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you saw my big news.

I'm still in shock! I submitted two proposals for ISTE 2015. My goal was to try for a poster session so that I could just attend the conference. My husband said that I was selling myself short. To humor him, I submitted a modified version of the session I did at the NCTM regional conference. On the day that resulted were announced, I had my Tweetdeck open and waiting for word that the notifications had been sent out. I was so sure that I was going to get a rejections that I didn't add to the "still waiting to hear" posts. I logged in to my account at 8pm to see that both proposals were accepted. I was left flabbergasted!

Before then, of course is FETC. I had an amazing time last year. If you are going to FETC, so sure to check out this post. I first learned about the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator program at a session at FETC. If you are a teacher that is passionate about using technology in the classroom, I would highly recommend looking into this program.

Happy New Year! My the rest of your break have no mess and no stress!