How My Virtual School Views Technology

This week I gave a survey to staff members at my school in order to better understand how our school is already using technology to help students and how open we are to learning more. I created a 13 question survey using Google Forms to help me get to these answers. You can view (and even take!) the survey here: Technology Survey. However this survey is specifically geared towards educators at my school, Michigan Connections Academy, so many of the questions and/or options might not make sense to you.

I sent the survey out Sunday night and was happily surprised by the results. About a third of the staff took the survey during the work week! You can see the breakdown in this info graphic created using [I’m sorry to say that I didn’t realize WordPress doesn’t support iframes and I cannot have the pretty pictures right here for you and you must click to view them.]

As you can see I got a wide range of teachers from different grades, though more secondary than elementary. I would expect that since last year I taught 6-12 grade and they know me better, so responding to a survey from me might mean more to them.

I learned from my survey that educators at my school are using a WIDE RANDE of digital tools already, outside of the required ones. This shows the breakdown per grade level as well. 

Of course I wanted to know more than just what technologies were being used, but I wanted to get a glimpse at why they were using those specific technologies. To learn more click on this link for an that allows you to choose grade level groups or just look at the total of responding educators.

So now I know who responded, what they are using, how they chose why they are using it (or at least the beginning of knowing this information), so now I wanted to know how we can change and continue to learn and use new digital technologies. Staff members were really interested in learning more and getting trained, especially if it didn’t take up any more of the precious time during the day: see this here for more!

Now that you got a summary of the data I collected, I encourage you to read my short (about 700 words) paper that goes over my analysis of the data. If you have any conclusions, comments, helpful ways MICA can improve please let me know in the comments!


Create infographics & online charts | (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from

One account. All of Google. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from

It all starts here

Reflection on CEP 811

I can’t believe it – but summer is over. This is my first week back and since my school is amazing they sent about 30 teachers (myself included!) to the PLC conference in Grand Rapids this year. I’m so excited to learn about how we can create a better school culture and ultimately increase student learning by working collaboratively in a PLC!

PLC Thin Enactment

Professional Learning Communities are the key for student success

The end of summer also means the end of the graduate course I’ve been taking through MSU, CEP 811, about adapting innovative technology in education. It seems like I just started this course and it’s already over – and boy have I learned a lot!


One major focus of this course has been the maker movement. I’ve posted ideas and lesson plans and tutorials about how to use a MakeyMakey in a classroom, as well as read/watched how my classmates thought to use them in their classrooms. During our first field trip meeting, I’m going to show my idea for how to use a MakeyMakey (or two or three!) to have students creatively design an interactive musical room for guests to explore. I think that my co-workers will love this idea and see the potential for getting students to work together in an innovative way while working on general skills of problem-solving and perseverance.

However I don’t know if I’m going to be able to use the specific technology of my MakeyMakey in many other situations. I work at a virtual school as an online Title 1 teacher, so most days I cannot have students physically in front of me to play with the MakeyMakey. As a public school I can’t require that families purchase their own MakeyMakey. My school also has a national curriculum that is created and given to us, so I can’t add it into most of my daily lessons.

MakeyMakey Collage

Child making a strawberry and play-dough drum-set using a Makeymakey

Luckily this whole course wasn’t a waste of time just because I can’t use the MakeyMakey frequently! I learned about so many other resources and tools that I’m planning to use with my students. I loved the mind map tool that I tried out last week. Students will be able to create bubble charts and spider web charts electronically using this free and easy to use site.

I have already emailed all my colleagues the UDL guideline checklist that I filled out on my revised musical lesson last week. This year we are really trying to work on our RTI (response to intervention) and inclusion of Title/SPED students in general education courses. I think that this will help teachers to have a comprehensive list to look through and be a good place to start PLC conversations on the same footing.

Interestingly enough I will probably use the creative commons search site more often than any other resource I played with this semester. I can’t believe I haven’t been using this for years! It’s a great site where you can search for pictures, videos, songs, etc. that you can use without plagiarizing or stealing. I used to just go to Google images and copy/paste what I liked (I know – bad, bad, bad) but now I can model to my students responsible internet usage on a daily basis.

Social Media

Did I use this image already? I just love it!

I also want to continue updating this blog on a weekly basis. Starting this has been a wonderful way for me to reflect on my continued education as a teacher as well as network with others around the world. I’ve even been updating my Twitter when I haven’t been asked to by a professor! I think it’s important to work with others that are doing what I’m doing or are interested in what I’m doing. The PLC conference that I’m at right now says that the number one thing that schools can do to improve student learning is collaboration. We are taking that to heart this school as a school by forming PLC teams that meet frequently, but I also want to carry collaboration over to my online presence through Twitter and this blog.

My MSU professors this semester have been amazing. They have followed through with what they preach about pushing me to develop my technology and educational skills further each and every week. Last week you saw a lesson plan that I can guarantee you I would not have been able to write 3 months ago. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what a MakeyMakey is, what the maker movement is all about, what UDL stands for, how to use UDL principals to improve learning for all students, how to imbed links and videos in blog posts, how to tweet effectively, … the list could go on!

This week I’m writing this blog post and adding pictures from creative commons, linking to other sites and my own blog, using Twitter to blog about this exciting PLC conference I’m at, and thinking differently about how I’m going to use the 1:1 computer ratio more effectively this school year in my classroom. I’m changed and I’m hoping to bring some of this change to my co-workers this year. Not because I have to, not because there’s an awkward silence in a staff meeting, but because I’m excited about the how relevant what I’ve learned this year really is. I’m passionate and I want to inspire that in everyone I touch this year. I’m thrilled to start a new school year!


1. Dave Jenson. (2011). We’re working on it!. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr:

2. Jabiz Raisdana. (2013). Strawberry Drumset: First go at Makey Makey. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr: 

3. Ken Whytock. (2013). Educational resource: “School Boards need to do better with their learning communities”. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr:

4. Lance Catedral. (2011). week 21-2 (start). Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr:

5. mkhmarketing. (2011). The Art of Social Media. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr: 

EdCamp T-shirts


Has anyone reading this heard of an EdCamp before? Don’t worry if you haven’t – I hadn’t until a few weeks ago. Even after I heard about it, looked it up, researched a bit, I still didn’t fully understand. Sometimes I just need to do to understand. Recently I got to do and I participated in an EdCamp un-conference. I’ll try to explain what an EdCamp is enough for you to try one yourself. You can organize one with your co-workers, your department, your school, or you can join a more formal one in your area.

Teacher Meeting

EdCamp is more like a discussion than anything else. It’s a free meeting of educators to discuss current issues/content/resources in a collaborative way. The “speaker” is usually a fellow EdCamp unconference goer that facilitates more than lectures.

Last week I was able to participate in one through my CEP 811 graduate course using Google Hangout. We were each asked to bring a topic to talk about that we were interested in and researched about. I even made a PowerPoint presentation to help me. Unfortunately I can’t share that with you because on Monday this week my computer completely died; something with a black screen of death and “hard drive issues”. I backup my work frequently, but just not quite weekly so it’s forever gone (or at least until I recreate it).

Google Hangout

To summarize what I experienced participating in EdCamp I’ll first talk about the prep work that I did. I wanted to facilitate a conversation about 1-to-1 technology in schools. I first thought about my own experiences (what’s a better place to start?) with working in a brick-and-mortar school of over 1,000 with one computer lab, to working at a virtual school where we provide every student with a computer and headset. I then hit Google to look for reliable research, useful tools/resources, and news articles. I’m sad to say that I lost my specific references with my dead computer. L

I then took all the resources and compiled them into a PowerPoint. When you prepare for one, you could just reference the ideas, print articles, bring up things on your phone or laptop, or any other method that you are comfortable with. EdCamp is about coming together to discuss ideas – there aren’t rules about how you convey what you know. Built into my PowerPoint were questions to ask; open-ended questions to allow for conversation to flow between members of EdCamp. Remember that you aren’t a lecturer when you lead a part of an EdCamp experience, you are a facilitator. You share what you know, but then open it up to others. I got a lot of new references, resources, and ideas from my co-workers that I had never even heard of, and more clarification and personal stories about some that I had heard of. It was amazing!

 1 to 1 Laptops in School

Below are just a few of the resources that we discussed:

Khan Academy – Free site with many instructional videos; mainly math and science related at the moment

GoSoapBox – Mobile app that acts as a clicker to conduct live polls or question

Edu Creations – Make your own instructional videos

Web Assign – Instant grading tool and assessment tool with a built in email in the system

Lon-CAPA – Site where you assign problems for students to complete with instant feedback

Study Island Site with problems you can assign to students that adapt to their learning, enrich or supplement your lessons, aligned to state standard / Common Core

Download Destination – Expensive, but amazing, program with over 33,000 electronic and audio books; the real narration reads the book so there’s not a robotic voice

Of course, I was not the only one sharing during EdCamp. We had people speak about many different topics in education. The one that I really inspired me was about augmented reality. I had heard the phrase before, but honestly couldn’t tell you one thing about what it meant. Augmented reality is when physical things are scanned by a phone/iPad/computer and then additional resources/videos/sounds are attached. If you’ve heard of QR codes – AR (augmented reality) is a similar idea taken even further and made more visually appealing.  The person leading the discussion works at the Detroit Institute of Arts and help set up where you can go to their app on a phone, scan a piece of art work in the museum while you are there, and learn more about the artist and how the art piece was made. I thought about how I could set up an AR app like this to help my online students explore spaces near them. I can have pictures in books that link to extra material, posters or symbols around a room that lead to additional material, or symbols around a field trip location with supplemental resources. You can add layers and layers to a physical item, which is exciting!

 Augmented Reality

I enjoyed the EdCamp experience greatly. While I was speaking people listening were talking and sharing in a chat pod to build on my material. This collaboration was great to see while I was sharing specific resources. This allowed for a multiple layer presentation. If you are presenting in a physical space you can use Todays Meet to allow people to type response and chat while you are speaking without interrupting you. Next time I would have verbally encouraged this more to ensure everyone realized that this was an option and one I would not be offended by.

I think that I could introduce this idea to my school and host short EdCamps periodically during staff/team/content meeting times. Each person could be asked to bring a topic to talk about and facilitate a conversation. This would help relieve the sometimes blank stares that happen when open-ended sharing time occurs. It would also be a great way for staff to work collaboratively to share strategies and ideas that work well in their environment.

If I were to bring EdCamp to my school I would first have a short meeting, recording, or detailed email to explain the idea of an EdCamp (maybe I could reference this blog post!). Once people felt comfortable with the general idea and had time to ask questions I would then determine a time and place to hold the EdCamp. Since it’s an interactive meeting about topics that educators are passionate about, I wouldn’t assign topics and would rather let teachers brainstorm topic ideas together and then choose one that they are excited about. I think it would also be acceptable to not “present” at EdCamp and just be a participant. Together with the participants I would come up with expectations of the experience and discuss having a time limit on each topic. I believe that everyone could value from an unconference like this! I encourage anyone reading this to go out and participate in one – even if you have to start a new one yourself!



Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones. (2013). G+Hangouts – 07. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr:

Jeff Peterson. (2007). DSC00004. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr:

Kevin Jarett. (2012). Edcamp stickers. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr:

Laura Gilchrist. (2014). 5/365 Creativity. My Edcamp Tshirts to date! (January 5, 2014) Edcamps stoke my creativity and the people I meet there enrich my life and inspire me. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr:

Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography. (2014). 14284-educational technology 1494-Edit. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from Flickr: 

 Tom. (2010). Augmented Reality. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from