2016...The Year of the PLN
I decided that was a fitting name for 2016. So much has happened these past 365 days. So much has been shared. 4,793 tweets sent. 325 Instagram posts. Thousands of emails sent. Thousands of photos taken.
2 blog posts written. TWO.
That is going to change in 2017. I hope it changes in 2017.
I've spent the past week reflecting on this past year and found myself sketchnoting the events that took place each month. As I began to fill in the calendar, I saw some repeating patterns. CUE Rockstar. TOSAchat. Greenscreen by DoInk. BreakoutEDU. Sketchnotes. And of course FSD.
Wow! I am so fortunate to have had so many amazing experiences this past year. I connected with so many people, developed new friendships, grew in so many ways and was able to share what I'm most passionate about with others, both near and far. The connections I made, the places I went, the people I spent time with...everything I did helped shape my 2016 and made me better for it.
So here is my look back. My 2016...in pictures.
December was filled with work, adventure, and rest. I finished my course classes for my Preliminary Administrative Services Credential. After 16 months of work, I reached the end. Well, almost the end. I just have to finish my Fieldwork Project and a few odds and ends. Then I will be done. I have no plans to become a Principal, but we'll see where this new piece of paper takes me!
I saw a new part of the world and the most epic sunrise over Bali and the most epic sunset over Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. I want to see the world. I want to make memories all over the planet. I got to do just that and I loved every minute of it. Well, every minute minus the parts that were a result of my friend's run in with some fire coral. Taking a donkey cart to our hotel because there are no cars allowed on Gili T. CHECK. Walking through a sacred forest surrounded by monkeys. CHECK. Watching the full moon rise over the Bali Sea. CHECK.
November was filled with lots of fun and learning. #edcampNOC came and went. So did a cowbell. #PlayPD was launched. TikiTOSA happened. I got a Disneyland Annual Pass, thanks to Lindsey Blass. I used it a lot too! I spent my third Thanksgiving in Chicago, my home away from home. I was reminded that a work-life balance is important too. But, of course, I still did all the things.
October was incredibly full. It was also incredibly rewarding too. This month seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. It seemed to last forever too. In the midst of it all, a last minute trip to Portland seemed like the right thing to do. It was. Fall colors. Crisp air. Time with a dear friend and her sweet family. It was the perfect getaway. FallCUE was the perfect ending to this busy month. Presenting four sessions in two days felt like a whirlwind. It also felt exhilarating. SnapchatEDU with Sabba Quidwai. Ozobots with the FSD TOSA team. Epic Learning with my Superintendent. And a CUE Rockstar Greenscreen Playground with Jody Green. It was a blast! We got in a second, official #TOSAchat TikiTOSA, which is always blast...until it ended with a hit and run on my new car. Oh well. That's what insurance is for. Throw in some sessions on sketchnoting for #TADL and a NRCAL Conference too. Busy. Busy. Busy.
September is always fun. We're a month into school already and we kick of the month with FSD's Strengthening Your Core Conference. Hands down, this is one of the BEST professional development opportunities around. Nearly 700 teachers get to choose what their PD day will look like. Choice matters. Voice matters. The PD is meaningful and teacher driven. I had a blast presenting with my boss. I had a blast seeing new sparks ignited our teachers.
The Apple Teacher certification launched in September. Immediately, there was a buzz on Twitter. I think I earned my certification for Mac and iPad within the first 48 hours of the program's launch! SO excited that Apple launched this.
This month was so special for me. I gave my first Keynote at the Norwalk - La Mirada Blended Learning Summit. What an honor to get to share some insight and encouragement with local teachers who are just starting a 1:1 initiative.
Back to School time is always such a rush of excitement. The start of school this year meant the start of my third year as a TOSA in FSD. I absolutely love my job and getting to support teachers and students with the innovative and instructional use of technology in the classroom. This August year, I began to really showcase technology in FSD via Snapchat. I also connected with an amazing group of people and it's grown into my SnapchatEDU PLN. Connections via social media have allowed me to interact with all kinds of amazing folks, both near and far, and we've been able to explore, share, and contribute to the bigger EDU movements that are happening in classrooms around the world. Who knew that Snapchat would provide so many great new connections and so much incredible learning?!
July brought me 18,159 miles of adventures! I love July...for so many reasons. This is usually the only time I get for "summer" vacation, so I use every minute that I can for travel and adventure. This year, I finally made it to Alaska. That had been on the list for a while. The beauty of this state did not disappoint. The mountains. The trees. The glaciers. The fresh air. The stillness of each morning as the fog cleared as our cruise ship drifted by.... I loved it all.
The idea of "Diamond Time" was born after a conversation with a taxi driver in Vancouver. He asked how we liked our time in Alaska. When I responded that I loved everything about it, he just smiled and said, "Ahhh...diamond time!" YES! That is what it was. Diamond time. That little phrase sparked so many thoughts for me, it would eventually become the topic for the Keynote I was going to give in August. How do we spend our time living? How do we spend our time in the classroom? I loved being a classroom teacher. I had many, many moments in the classroom with my baby birds that I would consider to be "Diamond Time." I wondered, though, how many students - in classrooms today - got to experience Diamond Time.
June was insane. I spent 14 days, back to back, doing professional development in FSD. It was amazing and exhausting. Seriously. I love the team of innovators that I work with. I love my job. We get to support nearly 700 teachers in the Fullerton School District and during June we trained new and returning iPersonalize teachers. We had 5 days with new iP teachers and 5 days with veteran iP teachers. And we had a BLAST! iPersonalize is our quest based, experiential, gamified curriculum in FSD. Since we teach with a gamified curriculum you know we do our PD with gamified content too! Teachers earned badges, leveled up and celebrated success like it was going out of style! Really. We laughed. We cried. We danced. And we grew as educators in the process. If you are really interested in knowing what we do in our PD, you can check out my #SnapchatEDU Stories from the iPersonalize PD on my YouTube page.
I can't let this opportunity pass without sharing how thankful I am for the team of visionaries that I work with. I work with the best team in the world. Honestly. From the top down, I couldn't ask for better colleagues and friends. I would not have survived the insane PD workload of June 2016 without my amazing boss, Pablo Diaz (@teachusingtech). He keeps us going. He allows us to do our thing. He leads and guides us with passion and integrity. It was an incredible PD experience for me as a presenter, because I got to share it with incredible folks like Pablo, Jason, Susan (@suechu22) and Mathew (@mabarn). Watch the iPersonalize Work Week videos...you'll see I really do work with the best folks around.
Besides PD, June was a time for my own professional growth. I went to #CUERockstar VISTA, played my first BreakoutEDU Digital game, went to #ISTE16 and of course went on a late night Pretzel Ride. One of the most epic days of all of 2016 happened at ISTE. I got to meet and sketchnote with Sylvia Duckworth and I had a major fangirl moment when she complimented me on my sketchnotes. I also met Ben Forta, who is like one of THE reasons that one of my favorite apps, Adobe Spark Video, even exists. I also got to film a web series with THE Chris Haskell for his Cool Teacher Show and I met THE Karen Miller, co-creator of the Greenscreen by DoInk app. It was like the universe aligned and all of the best parts of my edtech world came to life, real life, in human form!
School’s out for summer! And what a year it was! I can’t believe that I finished my second year out of the classroom. Time is FLYING by. This month was sort of incredible...for many reasons. The first one, my dear little Maddie graduated from Tarleton State University. Maddie is like my sister. I’ve known her since she was 6 months old and tt was a great honor to get to be in Texas that weekend to see her walk across the stage and collect her diploma! Go, Maddie, go! Dream BIG! Another big event in May was #FSDRobotNation. You might have seen tweets that Fullerton School District is building a Robot Nation. We really are. My awesome colleague, Jason (@Askmrchong) had the idea of developing an inter-district robotics competition with FSD schools and beyond. Who would have ever imagined that this first year this program would have grown so wildly and been so successful?!? Check out some of these pictures that were shared on Twitter from @FSDRobotNation!
This month allowed me some time to work on my Google Certifications. I earned both the Google Level 1 and Level 2 Certifications this month...yay! I got to attend a CUE Rockstar camp in Orcutt, CA in April. It was the first ever STEAMPUNK Rockstar camp and it was awesome! We explored Maker Spaces, Robotics, 360° Math, and made real life connections with more folks from my #TOSAchat community. Speaking of #TOSAchat… I got to moderate a chat this month with my friend Cynthia (@teachingtechnix) and we chose a topic related to FRIENDS. It is always amazing to connect with my PLN during these Twitter chats…and so fun to see that this one was trending on Twitter because of the awesome participation of friends across CA and the US who joined in to chat.
Skull turned 40. We all celebrated in Chicago. The Dews came up from Texas. It was so fun to have our families together to celebrate. The fact that we were there for River Dyeing Day was a bonus...and it sure is something else! Chicago goes CRAZY on River Dyeing Day. Seriously.
Two other big events happened in March. The first one was SXSW EDU. I had never been. I am so used to CA EdTech events, I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. I was not disappointed. I feel like the sessions and discussions that I went to at SXSW EDU were bigger and tended to have a more global perspective. I loved that I got to connect with so many ADE friends and attend their sessions. Hearing from folks like Sabba Quidwai (askMsQ), Michael Hernandez (@cinehead) and Kristin Zeimke (@KristinZiemke) opened my mind to bigger possibilities, topics like social justice, and gave me ideas for new things I wanted to integrate back at home. It was also at SXSW EDU that I got to connect with some of my other favorite ADEs, Jake Lee (@teachingjake) and Liz Castillo (@liz_castillo) and hear about the amazing work they are doing at Punahou School in Hawaii. I am always so inspired by my ADE friends. The other big event this month was the National CUE Conference in Palm Spings. #CUE16 did not disappoint. I was only able to stick around for the first 2 days due to my Admin Credential Program...but the time I had there was BEYOND amazing! My session was focused on using Greenscreens of course...and I was overwhelmed by how many folks showed up! They were even spilling out the door… I had planned on doing a Playground style session, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was a perfect detour to the original plan. I think it might have been one of my favorite presenting experiences ever. Folks were into the topic. The energy in the room was positive...and I think that folks walked away with many new ideas, tips and tricks and I predict that a greenscreen movement is going to spread across the land.
My job as a TOSA is a unique role in education. I get to teach and coach my peers the same time as I get to be in classrooms teaching students who to use technology. This month, I was asked by CUE to be a Lead Learner at a CUE Rockstar Black Label event for TOSAs only. It was so cool to connect with other local educators who are in the same role that I am. I am thankful for those connections and the opportunity to connect with others in the #CUERockstar community because they share the same kind of crazy, passionate, innovative mindset and they are the ones who are Lone Nuts who have found their tribe. Another local event happened at the beginning of February. It’s one of my favorite events to present at every year. My first experience with the OC CUE Tech Fest was when my students were selected to present at the 2012 Student Technology Showcase. I’ve been presenting at OC CUE ever since. This year I did a Greenscreen Playground and a Robot Playground. It is always great to help educators learn new tools to use in their classrooms. It’s even more fun when we get to play and learn at the same time.
The beginning of what will be an incredible year...I just know it. I was asked to do a Coffee Break for the SGV CUE affiliate and that means I get to do another Greenscreen Playground. I love helping others learn new tools and I’m always up for some fun. It’s like the best of both worlds...combine some PD with some play based learning. Throw in some fun teachers who show up to learn on a Saturday and it’s like a learning party! I’m writing this on the last day of January 2017. It was yesterday that this event showed up in my TimeHop. 2016 flew by. I know 2017 will pass by in a flash too.
2016 brought so many rich and incredible experiences my way. I am so thankful for the incredible people from all my circles...my colleagues, my friends, and of course my family. I know that the next 11 months will be incredible. So, here’s to yesterday and all that is coming tomorrow.