CAACE Conference – 2016!!!

Well, it’s been a whole year, and I came back! Love presenting to the crowds at the CAACE conference in Mystic, CT. Adult learners have their own style. Bringing ideas and having discussions with others about what learners need is so important. Providing guidance to new tools for those who work endlessly for our adult population is an amazing feeling! Thank you for having me back!


Please reference these Google slides from the presentations!!

Google Apps for Education

Google Classroom


Thank you for a great time! I can not wait to come back next year!


iPad Basics – Naugatuck Continuing Education

Good Evening!

Tonight we are going to learn the basics of the iPad!

Please use this link to follow the presentation on your iPad.

Other topics will include:

Other resources:

iPad Basics Tutorials

iPad and iPhone: iMovie for iOS Basics

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Reflections from the CRA Conference…

I believe that this is what Ian O’Byrne is speaking of when he encourages us to blog about our journey through the IT&DML program. Whether we go off the path or stay on the straight and narrow, there is a therapeutic element to writing about our experiences.

On Friday, October 24th, I presented at the Connecticut Reading Association’s Conference in Cromwell, CT. This was my fourth consecutive year presenting on technology and literacy. The materials have morphed from the start, however, the message has been the same… don’t be afraid to experiment and use technology. I was able to collect a splattering of different tools to support digital literacy. I was able to speak to these tools based on MY experience. It felt great to be able to bring something different to the table for these educators that may have been new and fresh.

I began the day on a not so positive note. And now, I feel shameful for thinking that my time was going to be wasted. I found out a few weeks prior to the event that I was slotted for the 2:50-3:50 workshop on a Friday afternoon… Yes, a Friday afternoon workshop… no bueno. Having attended Friday workshops, I know the excuses… and I can not blame anyone for being creative when they want to book out and get a head start on traffic. With that being said, I set my expectations on an intimate group of maybe ten or twelve participants. I had bought chocolate and had the promise of dinner out afterwards, so I was good…

I was so surprised to see the room fill up as the 2:50 mark hit. As I looked around, there were maybe a few empty chairs, but basically, I had a great showing. I love presenting to educators who truly have a passion for learning something new and wanting to find out about new tools that work with other teachers and students. Just like my students in class, I look at faces to see how I am doing. Sharing materials is one thing, because anyone can Google up what I put out there. However, bringing these tools to the teachers with the excitement I have when using them with students was even better. I truly believe that creating a place where teachers can learn from each other in a no-pressure, exploratory environment is what is necessary to build trust and comfort. I am hoping that I can do that for staff and students to support them in becoming college and career ready.

So, my takeaway from the conference… It doesn’t matter what time the presentation is on the board for… what matters is what you have to present and how will it impact educators. I imagewill continue to share my ideas, experiences and “good stuff” with teachers and students. Knowledge sharing is all empowering… especially when there is passion behind learning.

Thank you!

Collaboration Lesson Reflection


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In the article “What are cooperative and collaborative learning?” (Thirteen Ed Online, 2004), a variety of descriptors are listed. Teachers need to be aware of what collaborative learning looks like and how it can take place in his/her classroom. There are many great teachers who have not been trained formally in collaborative/cooperative learning, however, the need to emphasize these environments is imparative.

Students need to be prepared for the workforce. There are many opportunities for teachers to create cooperative/collaborative environments without overkill. If students can complete the following criteria within an interdisciplinary setting, they will be better prepared for college and career expectations. Collaborative/Cooperative groups actively participate, give respect, celebrate diversity, learn skills for resolving conflict, use previous experience and knowledge and have clearly identified goals.

In Edutopia’s Big Thinkers Series, John Seely Brown “Motivating Learners,” discusses how passion and competitive hunger can drive intrinsic motivation. This is important in the world of immediate satisfaction, engagement and motivation. This is one hot topic in the classroom. With our current evaluation system in our district, we are rated on how engaging and rigorous our lessons are developed. What better of an opportunity than to tune into what students want/need while providing teachable moments. As educators, we do not need to know it all, but provide students with enough confidence to be able to explore and create their own learning. There needs to be an element of reciprocal teaching happening in our classrooms today.

These strategies are not new, nor are they out of reach for our teachers in today’s classrooms. However, educators need support, just like students do.

Click here to see my lesson on incorporating reading comprehension strategies during reading workshop. This can be a very individualized activity, but it is possible to take it to the next level in order to support a cooperative/collaborative classroom.



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Module 2 Reflection – How to support collaboration

Students working collaboratively and co-constructing knowledge is a powerful learning experience. What scaffolds can the teacher put in place to support all students as they collaborate?

The Module 2 reflective question asks how can a teacher scaffold support for students to work collaboratively. I believe that in this program, we have learned so many different avenues to connect (physically) with other students, but not as much as HOW. These shared readings have provided a great foundation for teachers to begin their journey.

When discussing the tools to share and work together, the article The Way of the Wiki: Building Online Creativity and Cooperation by Grace Rubenstein (April 13, 2014) describes the “ultimate enabler(s) of collaboration”, the wikispace. Teachers can use a wiki to share a virtual space for working together with parameters set for equity of participation. This is a characteristic all teachers struggle with when instilling values of accountability with students and group work.

Beyond accountability, teachers need to provide examples and activities that support a positive digital footprint. Students needs to be aware of the dangers of the Internet, however, they need to be “present” in a way that showcases effective skills and collaborative study. Many teachers have incorporated either wikis or a type of blogging site like Edmodo to their classroom repertoire. These pages are often private and not searchable. It’s a double standard when it comes to what we need to improve and what we are saying we need to protect against.

The most useful reading I found was the one from the College Preparatory School in Oakland, CA. It provided the “how” to get students to be group members and HOW to lead discussions that are student-based. Collaborative Learning Builds Deeper Understanding from May 2014, shows teachers that students can be instructed on how to own their learning and create environments that support group work and accountable talk. Students in the video discuss how their daily group work in math is a benefit to them by talking about their answers and work BEFORE they ask the teacher. Students can learn from each other in this respectful environment.

The following recommendations from the school provide teachers with a jumping point in order to create a similar atmosphere and learning environment within his/her own classroom.

  • Creating an Effective Classroom Geography

  • Focusing on the Process, Not Right Answers

  • Building Accountability

  • Letting Students Teach One Another

  • Encouraging Students to Be In Tune With One Another


The one that held tight with me was the one about creating a classroom geography. Not only is it important to be able to visually see all students in the room in order to have effective discussions, but the use of the visual map is ingenious. This small task can make all the difference when faced with students who need to either step back from overtaking the group, or working with those students who need to participate more. It’s not a “gotcha” moment, but a reflective self-awareness of collaboration and idea sharing. All of these components of collaboration were technology-free, as well. I believe that is why I honed in on it being the biggest takeaway from Module 2.

Module 1 – Digital Texts and Tools in the Classroom

In what ways do you now authentically and effectively use digital texts and tools in your classroom?

I always feel that there is always more than can be done to use digital text and tools in the classroom. As a leader of the use of technology (not an expert, but a leader) I am always working to incorporate the use of digital text and tools. I work hard to help teachers see the relevancy, despite the occasional inconvenience and creative tricks of the trade that we sometimes need. Personally, I try to embed different types of media in order to get students to understand the foundational elements of comprehension. If I can connect a student to a skill or task using the Interent and it can be carried over to text, then I’m all over it.

In my Reader/Writer Workshop class, we are using Kyleen Beers and Robert Probst’s Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading (Heinemann, 2012) to teach skill development and improve comprehension. Alone, using traditional texts, I do not feel my struggling readers would buy into the format of looking for Signposts (Contrasts/Contradictions, Aha Moments, Again and Again, Tough Questions, Words of the Wiser, and Memory Moment). I have been using clips from to show students examples of the pivitol moments that lead to deeper understanding. After the mini-lesson with the video clip, I move to use an excerpt to reinforce the skill within text. Students do not have visuals or other cues (music, facial expressions). However, it is very difficult to pick mood out of traditional text. This way, I scaffold the instruction for students to progress into application to other text formats.

I use Pinterest to search out how other educators have used the strategy instruction in their classrooms. This has proven to be an invaluable resource when seeing what has worked with others and how it is presented in a visual format. I can read blogs about strategy instruction, but I find myself moving more toward the multimodal collection of sharing.

The anxiety of it all…


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I have never been one for change if I am comfortable with something. So now that we need to step out of our comfort zone and create a platform for our work, I’m feeling that same reflective guilt that has been in full force since July of 2013. Some call it procrastination… but let’s refer to it as “professional reflective practice” with an element of “oh crap, I have to get this done.” The guilt of the posts not being done in a systematic way is what is bothering me. I am ALWAYS thinking about what has to get done, but getting it done is another matter. I have learned how to prioritize and use time more efficiently. It’s just that there is still that cloud of accountability hanging low.

I have been fighting with Google Sites because I don’t really like it. At least, right now I don’t. I will figure it out, I will be able to tool around and find my way. It’s a time thing. When time is so limited, and we need to devote our precious moments to something that doesn’t come easy, I believe our natural reaction is to avoid. I feel lucky to have seen the other students’ portfolios and feel that Wix may be easier for me to manipulate as an appropriate platform. I am also dealing with the district site and trying to develop that one, as well. I don’t want to link outside of that page just yet. I need to set an example for staff. You know… what we have can do the job, so don’t complain… It’s like a snowball effect of where I need to put my information. Also, I have been asked to do multiple presentations for staff. My position is changing, but without the acknowledgment of “she can’t do both”… because I don’t want to ruin it for myself. I battle between doing what I love (the technology coaching piece) and I’m still teaching a few classes and heading up the intervention program.

So, I am still working on the site and fine-tuning the school website. Continually a work in progress…

Multiliteracies… Designing social futures…

When reading A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures (Cazden, Cope, Fairclough, Gee, et al Harvard Educational Review: 1996), I was initially put off by the date of the publication. Noticing that the article was from 1996 created a hesitation in recieving the information in a purposeful way. However, after going through it, I realized how closely it related to our educational system and my daily challenges in 2014. I could not help but relate to the teachers who are having difficulties shifting educational practices to close the gaps in the educaitonal disparties of educational outcomes.

The most challenging issues I encounter with teachers is the unawareness of how crutial this is to the development of the student in preparing for work life. These individuals are trying to change their ways of instructional delivery with the incorporation of technology. I can still see elements of institutionalized learning, although our administration is working diligently at getting teachers to move away with a shifting curricula in all content areas. The new curricula focuses on different skills, changing from individual to social learning. In the article, we learn that teaching pedagogy is about the teaching and learning relationship and the literacy pedagogy has a huge focus on subcultures and individuality. Teachers who are unable to comprehend the influences that socialization may have a difficult time bringing students where they need to be in order to be college and career ready.

As I have entered into my eighteenth year of teaching, I now can see the shifts of theory/practice. Our writing focus has gone from narrative, expository, persuasive and task-oriented (developmentally sequenced) to narrative, expository/informational, persuasive/argumentative. These tasks are now continually spiraled for students to continue to grow and refine skills, instead of abdoning them after a certain high-stakes assessment has been administered. The process which began many years ago to incorporate different types of literacy for multimodal learning is finally hitting hard with the responsibility of preparing our students for a productive future.