One Busy Week

Conferences SMARTBoard workshops

This week is going to be a super busy one! 

 We will be at the ROE in Charleston on Wednesday for an evening session.  Mom and I are going head-to-head for a Web 2.0 Smackdown!  Don’t worry, I will keep you posted on who wins.  If I had to predict, it would be me.  I might have a little competitive streak in me.  Just a little.

Friday we will be getting EARLY to head to Springfield for the IETC conference.  A SMARTBoard session is in order.  We have put together 10 Ways to Get SMARTer.  It was SO hard to decide what to include.  I wish the session was longer than 50 minutes so we could include more.  Including something for all levels of SMARTBoard users along with subject areas, and grade levels was a challenge, but I think we have managed to do it.

After the conference on Friday, we are heading up to Chicago to join @principalspage for the IASB convention.  While we have been attending this conference for quite a few years now, it will be the first time to present there.  We are teaming up with Dr. Richard Voltz for a Top 10 Technology session in which we will count down our favorite ways to incorporate the use of technology in our classrooms.  Dr. Voltz will be presenting his Top 10 and will explain how they apply from an adminstrator’s point of view.  We will present ours from the classroom perspective, obviously.  Can’t wait!

Updates will be posted once we have time to catch our breath.  It has been a super busy fall and I can’t believe that we have neglected the blog for as long as we have.  It is time for that neglect to come to an end.


Gettin’ Ready


Tomorrow is the first day of our Recess TEC 2010 Summer Series.  This is our second summer hosting them at EIASE.

We always feel like we are hosting a party, and this year is no exception. We love to plan the snacks, workshops, presentations, and we look forward to renewing friendships that have been made over the past years. Part of the planning including updating our netbook lab, and to clean off old files and upload the new. After a day moving among computers, we can say that we are ready…

See you in the morning!

Aim High

reflections SMARTBoard workshops

This picture, taken during our lunch break from Friday’s workshop, actually represents two ends of the spectrum. To one side you have a SMARTBoard that is, in every sense of the word, “inaccessible”. (Unless, of course, you stand on a well-used paint ladder and ssstttrrreeetttccchhh your arms as far as you possibly can to reach the other side. I joked that it would help if I were stretchy like Mrs. Incredible)
On the other end of the spectrum, you have a wonderful group of teachers who were very enthusiastic to learn how to USE their new SMARTBoards for the upcoming school year.
So what does one do in this situation?
Raise to new heights…(PUN INTENDED!)
I spent six hours on this ladder projecting my voice over a very loud wall AC unit and two fans that helped the teachers keep their cool throughout today’s SMARTBoard workshop.
All in all, it was fabulous. Tiring, but fabulous!
The teachers were able to recognize the irony of this misplaced SMARTBoard in their computer lab, and they completely understood that the whole point of implementing this awesome piece of technology lies in the fingertips of the kids!
That’s right… KIDS!


As I watched Shannon balancing on the ladder all day, I provided one-on-one assistance and “manned” the computer in the back of the room to reach the menu items and type. We usually stay at the board as much as possible to model its optimum use, but today was filled with exceptions.
We cannot speak more highly of a group of teachers as they worked through the activities, and their eagerness to learn made it all worthwhile.
We especially would like to thank Mary for inviting us to present, and one last thing…
We also appreciated the full-length “skinny mirror” in the girls’ restroom. We just felt that much better at the end of the day… 🙂
So…can you identify any other funny ironies in this picture? (Hint…take a look at the pens as well as the size of the projected image.)

Hey Thomasboro…Did We Leave Our Chocolate Basket?

SMARTBoard workshops

As I was packing up the car last night for our week in Maroa-Forsyth, I noticed something was definitely missing from our “stuff”.  The saving grace to some workshop participants to get them through the day.  That’s right…the beloved candy basket.  I think we left it with the wonderful teachers at Thomasboro Elementary School.  These teachers ROCKED!  We spent two days with them last week and can honestly say they cranked out more Notebook files than any other group of teachers with whom we have ever held a Make and Take.  They are SO prepared for the beginning of school.  We helped teachers make lunch count slides, behavior management tools, classroom management tools, incentives, as well as a myriad of vocabulary lessons and interactive templates.  HOLY SMOKES…they were on FIRE!

So…Thomasboro…Did we leave our chocolate basket in your lab?  Because I can’t find it anywhere. And if you DO have it…please feel free to keep the leftover chocolate.  But could you give the basket to JR for delivery to Oakland?

This missing piece of gear, prompted a quick pitstop on my way to meet Mom this morning.  At Wal-Mart,  I grabbed a medium sized plastic bowl along with Hershey Chocolate Nuggets, Hershey Kisses, and Lifesavers for our participants today. (Don’t worry, I paid for them.) 

And quite frankly after listening to me blabber about proper SMARTBoard integration for 2 hours…they NEEDED it…BADLY!

This picture was also featured as our “Moment” of the day.  Check it out!

Our Newest SMARTBoard Trainer

reflections SMARTBoard tips workshops

We would like to welcome the newest SMARTBoard trainer as a member of the Recess TEC Inc. team of employees.  Pretty cute huh?  I love the tattoos and the ripped stomach muscles.

Mom and I have been in Camp Point, IL for the past two days to provide SMARTBoard training to teachers.  We love working with the folks at Central High School…but WOW is it a LOOOONNNNG drive.  At the end of the day today, Mom held up this drawing that was in the corner of the room.  I have absolutely no idea why it was drawn…I am sure that it had a purpose in someone’s class this spring.  Boy would I like to know the details.  I will probably ask the next group of teachers we train when we head back to Camp Point for our next round of sessions in July.

In the meantime, Mom and I enjoyed our overnight stay in Quincy and were able to find some pretty cute places to eat.  Dinner… and breakfast (we sat at the table right next to the Christmas tree in that image…obviously the tree was not there today). 

These are the pictures that Mom took of the two places.
 Tiramasu and The Park Bench

We have been noticing some different updates in Notebook software since our last round of training this past spring.  We love it when that happens.  It is like unwrapping a little surprise gift in the middle of a workshop.  One is that the shape pen no longer snaps into a shape perpendicular to the toolbar.  If you draw it at a slant, it will snap into place in the exact angle that you drew it.  This is a perfect update for one of my examples in the workshop.  Another update we noticed is the Image Group Generator.  One of our favorite tools has been the Group Generator all year.  Now we see there is one that can be used with images rather than words!  YIPPEE!  Did I mention we love new SMARTBoard “stuff”?

Ok…off to Thomasboro for the next two days…busy, busy!  Just the way we like it!

Finding the Sun

reflections SMARTBoard workshops
It was pointed out to me by a friend that MSN reported January 18th as the bleakest day of the year 2010.
We were fortunate then.
Several times that day Shannon and I looked out the window to view the gray and foggy skies and commented that we were happy to be conducting a workshop, and that the fact that it was such a dreary day provided no regrets that we were working on a day off from school.  Wonderful Teachers
In fact, we hardly felt like we were working.
First, It was a long trip since Shannon lives as far east from the center of the state as Camp Point is west.
It was also a relaxing trip and a “first” for Recess TEC in that we had to find a “room at the inn” due to the distance.
But most important, we had the good fortune to meet new friends at Camp Point School District.
The teachers there were, well….
“Enthusiastic” doesn’t even describe it.
They gave up their holiday to rise early, without pay, and join us for a day-long session in SMARTBoard training.
The morning was spent showing ways the board can be used in classrooms, and despite the fact that several had
had their boards for a couple of years, they were never distracted and they were very focused on the new things they were seeing. They were open to sharing, helping, and making suggestions to encourage each other.
Bleak day? Can’t say that it was for us…

On the Road Again…


On the Road AgainEveryone needs a little time off from work.  It gives us a chance to relax and recharge.  But now that we are recharged and refocused it is time to get back to work.  Tonight Mom and I will be back on the road again.  We are heading as far west in IL as one can travel and it happens to be our first workshop in that part of the state.  Needless to say, we are excited about branching out.  It is also the first time that we have had to stay over night the day before a workshop.  I am looking forward to the opportunity to spend productive work time with Mom.  Typically we work remotely over IM, Google Docs and other forms of technology to get “stuff” done.  I just hope we can stay focused long enough to get things accomplished.  And for those of you who know us…you know how difficult that can be!

I am sure there will be an update after tomorrow’s training session in Camp Point, IL.  Stay tuned…

Dove Chocolate’s Words of Wisdom

SMARTBoard workshops

doveToday I had the pleasure of combining two of my favorite loves during one of our beginners’ workshops, Dove Dark Chocolate and the SMARTBoard .  How, you ask, did I manage to combine those two items in a training? Mom and I had just finished our lunches of fresh ripe juicy peaches and Clif Bars and were heading back into the ROE training room when I spotted a basket of individually wrapped chocolates.  Dove Dark Chocolates to be exact.  Well, yum!  I had to pick one up to finish off my healthy lunch.  I mean come on, Dark Chocolate is full of healthy flavonoids and antioxidants.  I couldn’t NOT have one.  It would have been detrimental to my health.

After unwrapping and enjoying my after lunch treat, I noticed the message that was inscribed on the copper foil wrapper.  It said “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  Well…I love that.  There is nothing I hate worse than failing.  But to have that outlook regarding failure sheds a whole new light on the topic. 

During the afternoon hands-on portion of our training, a participant asked if it was possible to hold down the shift key on the SMARTBoard and drag the corner of a circle to keep the shape in proportion.  Well, to be honest, I had never tried that, so I wasn’t for sure if it would work or not.  I pulled up the keyboard and gave it a shot all while Mom said, “Shan, that isn’t going to work because you have two points of contact.”  Of course, there is that failure thing again…I immediately made my “zip it” noise and indicated that I wanted to TRY it. 

Thank goodness my mom is VERY patient.  She sighed a short sigh, smiled, and politely said, “Go ahead.”  Well of course it DIDN’T work.  Not only is my mom patient, she is one smart and tech savvy lady.  That must be why I wanted her to be my partner in this corporation in the first place.

As soon as I demonstrated the “failure” of the shift key/circle drag, I reached over, grabbed my Dove wrapper and read it to the participants.  They all smiled politely and then I proceeded to re-answer the question.  “No sir, you are actually not able to press the shift key and drag the corner of the circle simultaneously while at the SMARTBoard.  The reason this will not work is because you are trying to command the SMARTBoard to do two different things with two different points of contact and the SMARTBoard only recognizes one point of contact.” 🙂 

You see, I was able to “begin again more intelligently” with my response to his question.

So thank you Dove, for the great piece of advice wrapped around a great piece of chocolate.

NECC Reflections #2

reflections SMARTBoard workshops

Autistic ChildrenMy niece, Allison, came into our lives thirty years ago. She has provided us with a glimpse of another world that we can’t begin to understand, only because we are limited in both our intellect and ability to “see” things the way she does. As a child, Allison “danced with the fairies” and was lost in thoughts that we could only wish to share with her. She was first diagnosed with significant developmental delays with “islands of ability” or possible “childhood schizophrenia”.  When Allison was five, her pediatrician called my sister, Diana, at work. He had just returned from attending a conference in California and was very excited to have found an “answer”.  Allison eventually was “labeled” autistic, and was placed in special classes in schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Diana worked as a political consultant at the state and federal levels, and used any and all connections she had to educate herself on autism. She became an officer in the Autism Society of America, and became proactive in securing the best help to enable Allison to become all she could be. Eventually we learned that Allison’s symptoms were best described as Asperger’s Syndrome, and she was not only very high functioning, but had an IQ that was far above anyone else in our family. When she was twelve, Allison described to me a book that she was reading about “parallel universes” in terms I could understand. My “Allison Stories” include finding piles of miniature notebook pages under her bed with hieroglyphics of different thoughts and messages filling each page, all easily translated by her at the age of eight. On a visit I took her to buy a bathing suit, and she absolutely needed the black one-piece with a huge beautiful sequined pineapple filling the front. How could I refuse? She loved nothing more than to sit in front of the television under a huge open golf umbrella watching Comedy Central and laughing with the audience. Her humor is quick, dry, and catches you off-guard bringing you to your knees. She has been to “Burning Man”, belonged to a tango club, belly-dances, and has taken Diana and me on a trip to southern France for the “Gathering of the Gypsies”. On our trip to Paris, her first request was to go to the cemetery to see the grave of Jim Morrison. On our trip through the Louvre, she was our personal guide. Just this past Sunday her post on Facebook read, I just had a great day yesterday at Plunderthon. I and a bunch of other people dressed as pirates and went on a bender in Downtown Portland. Yyaaarrr!!!”

So, with Allison in mind, I chose to attend the NECC session entitled “Increasing Attention Span of Students with Autism Using Interactive Technology” presented by Randy Welch, Chief Program Officer, at the Spaulding Youth Center in Tilton, New Hampshire and Kathleen McClaskey, President of EdTech Associates. It was the first session that brought tears to my eyes. With a great deal of conviction and dedication, Randy described the difference that SMARTBoards made in five of their classrooms where the students ranged from ages 7 to 20. He described how the use of these boards help children focus on communicating and for the first time, they found words to relate their experiences and thoughts to their teachers, aids, and other children. Videos took us into the classroom and we were introduced to several of the children, specifically “Katie”, and watched their progress in ways that I have never seen before.

Leaving that session I was excited to share with Shannon what I had seen. I was convinced that schools need to require a SMARTBoard in every special class, and that interactive websites and Web 2.0 tools are included in their curriculum.

The school in which I teach now has SMARTBoards in every classroom. Two of our teachers who work with special needs children, both friends and partners with whom I have taught, attended our SMARTBoard workshops in the first session of our 2009 Summer Series. They were both excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities of how to use the boards in their classrooms, and I look forward to watching them grow and learn, and providing additional help and support to get them started on what promises to be an exciting path to an exciting future.

I invite you to read the handout that was provided in the workshop I attended.