IETC 2014

IETC 2014

News tips workshops

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-9-2014

It’s time for IETC 2014, the Illinois Education & Technology Conference.
We are looking forward to once again seeing good friends and making new friends.
We’re always excited to share ways to collaborate, instruct, moderate, and expand the use of technology.

Our first IETC 2014 event will be this Wednesday, September 12th, when we will be presenting a Pre-Conference Workshop, “Google Magic: Captivate, Motivate, and Educate Your Students”, from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in the Plaza D Meeting Room. Although registration for this workshop is closed, we always learn from our attendees.
We promise to share tips and ways to use Google Apps for Education each day as we attend IETC 2014. Follow us on our Facebook Page or on Twitter, @nbrach and @brachsmith.

IETC 2014

We will host two sessions on Thursday:
Session II:  11:15-12:05 – “Digital Storytelling for All”
Digital storytelling? Uhhh, no thanks. I don’t teach Language Arts. We know, we know. We’ve heard it before. You might not realize what is involved in digital storytelling. Or maybe we can convince you to incorporate it into your classes no matter what subject or age you teach. Students want to create content. Attend this session to find out how! (CCSS will be addressed in this session.) (Audience: All grade levels).

Session III: 12:15-1:05 – “The Classics”
With all of the new technology introduced on a daily basis, sometimes you forget what you’ve already learned. Or, maybe you missed it the first time around. Join us for a technology integration “refresher.” We’ll talk about things that we’ve loved from the beginning of our technology adventures that we think have stood the test of time! (Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to point out all CCSS integration.) (Audience: All grade levels).

Yes, there is a walk for me before the end of the day.
But not until we work to finalize our presentations so that our friends can have workshops where they will learn and have a great time.

See you soon!

[Tweet “Looking forward to #IETC 2014 and our sessions on Wed. and Thurs.”]


App Review iPad2 reflections tips workshops

Not Just Another App

Last spring I was asked to check out a couple of apps from a local company called Spinlight Studios.
AlphaTots and TallyTots.
I did.

Now, I’ll be honest.

I have absolutely NO personal background in teaching early elementary.

I filed the apps in the back of my mind, but retrieved them during workshops as suggestions for early elementary educators.
They were good.
Just not the kind of apps to which I could relate.

Then came TableTots,
an app by this same company that was released this week.

I downloaded the day it was released,
and I immediately became the “Spinlight Studio” stalker.

I emailed Spinlight Studios to let them know how excited I was about the app.
I played with it a little more,
and I called Mom to tell her to download it immediately.

I emailed the company again to back up my initial thoughts with more exciting praise.

I know what you are all thinking…

Mom and I have been downloading and playing with apps for use in the educational setting for quite some time now.

We are pretty selective when it comes to apps that we add to our presentations.

I must say, this one is a “no-brainer”.

TableTots immediately went to the “Top 10” portion of our workshop.
This app is the first app I have seen that allows teachers to use the iPad for interactive INSTRUCTION.
Effective interactive instruction, I might add.

Don’t get me wrong.
We are pretty creative girls who can turn almost anything into a learning experience for kids.

Can anyone say Virtual Bubblewrap for number patterns?

“Autotunes” and the Gettysburg Address?

But, what we have encountered is a slew of educational apps designed to review specific, individual skills, many in a Q&A format followed by some sort of game or incentive.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Quite frankly, that might be all that a handful of students needs to motivate and reinforce a skill with which they are struggling.

THAT, however, does not represent the style of teaching we advocate using on a regular basis.
TableTots DOES reflect our style of teaching…
and learning.

This app starts with a “Table” which reminds me of a “placemat” for the iPad.
At least that is what popped into my head as I was playing.
There are quite a few of these from which to choose, which is fantastic.

Mom and I love to mix it up!

After you choose your table, you move on to the type of manipulative you want to use.
Letters, numbers, shapes, money, place value pieces, or dominoes.
Are you seeing the potential here?

Once you choose your manipulatives,
you can start teaching and interacting with your students.
Allow the kids to come up with problems and solutions of their own.
Customize it for YOUR curriculum, the skills YOU need to teach!

What a concept!

Honestly, the sky is the limit with this app.
There are so many applications that can be used for DIFFERENTIATED instruction.

Take for example, sorting coins.
Beginners could sort the coins by size,
while higher achieving students could combine the sorting into different amounts of money.
Even higher achieving students could create money math problems using these manipulatives.

I love the versatility!
Go download it…
and no, I am not getting paid for this review.

Instead, the Spinlight Studio Staff,
(I love alliteration…yes, I am a geek),
might be in the process of acquiring a restraining order.

Just sayin’.


tips workshops

Saturday Morning Message ~ 7-30-2011

As we draw closer to the first day of school,
we are drawing closer to the end of our summer workshops.

It has been exciting to visit new schools, and see all the innovative ways teachers are implementing technology into their daily lessons.

The last few weeks, we have helped teachers build projects to be viewed in the Windows Media Player during orientation and open house.

One question that comes up over and over is…

“How can I make my movie loop?”

They would like to have their movie replay without having to return to the computer.

The answer is…

There is a little button on the left side of the “Play Button” that is the “Loop Button”.
Just click that and anything viewed from then on will “loop”.

To discontinue the looping, just deselect the button.

We knew you would say that… 
Just click on this image for a larger view.


Stop the Spinning!

iPad2 tips workshops

Monday Morning Message ~ 5-9-2011

Shannon and I  have recently each purchased an iPad2.

We are playing learning the benefits, down- loading apps, and are discovering the endless potential they have to motivate and engage our students to learn new things.

This summer we will host our first iPad workshops, and our biggest challenge will be to narrow it down to three hours!

This week’s tip is brought to you courtesy of my school’s librarian, Mrs. Muzzy. She is as excited about technology as we are, and when I brought the new iPad2 to school, she stopped by to take a look.

As I was showing her some of the apps I thought she might like, the screen began to rotate to as it does when you turn it from “portrait” to “landscape”.

She shared a tip that I have shared with several people, and it immediately made our lives easier.

If you double-click the “Home Button”, the viewing screen will lift upward to reveal your reccent apps.

If you push those to the right, you will find some setting options that will allow you to lock your orientation, dim or brighten the screen light, and if you are using multimedia, those controls are available to you, as well.

If you slide it back to the left, you will return to your most recent apps.

To return to the full screen, just simply tap above on the screen once.

Fun, yes?

We thought you would like that…

Thanks for the tips, Mrs. Muzzy!

We’re Talking “Apps”!

iPad2 Photography SMARTBoard tips workshops

Monday Morning Message ~ 4-11-2011

We have finalized our Sixth Annual Summer Workshop Series which will once again be held at the EIASE headquarters in between Mattoon and Charleston.
This summer our theme is “Boot Camp”.
No, we’re not talking about crawling on our tummies with an M16 or digging foxholes.
We’re talking about “DIGITAL Boot Camp”!
Arm yourself with excitement about the future, a positive attitude, and a willingness to try some new things. 

Not only do we have our beginner-advanced SMARTBoard training, but we have also added a “10 Ways to Get SMARTer” session for folks who would like some new integration ideas or a refresher course. 

In addition to our SMARTBoard sessions, we are offering a variety of sessions for general technology integration, including one that focuses on iPad apps for classroom use.
You heard it! We’re talking “APPS”! 

Make this the summer you “get in digital shape” to fight the battle against student apathy.

Because when you get excited, your kids can’t help but be excited, too!

We hope to see you there! 

Shannon and Nancy

Oh yes! Our”Monday Morning Tip”…
This is a picture of my brand new iPad2.
The “app” you see here is “Nightstand”.
It was taken last night and it’s going to make sure I get up in the morning on time!

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.


Christmas in August

reflections SMARTBoard workshops

Cross-post from yesterday’s 365 Blog

Shannon and I have been hitting it hard on the road for nine days straight.
And have we mentioned that it is hot?
And that tomorrow is my first day back to school?

So, this morning when we arrived in Fairfield for our second day
providing SMARTBoard training,
one of their wonderful teachers met us with a gift to welcome in the new
school year.
We have never received a gift from a participant before, and we were
delighted with her thoughtfulness and generosity.

We wanted to share her gift with the rest of you, and to let her know
how much it is appreciated.

To all of the teachers who have shared summer days with us,
from Shannon and me…

Thank YOU for your
willingness to learn,
willingness to share your ideas,
your love of children,
and your love of teaching.

Have a great year and make it fun…

8-12/365 ~Nancy

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!