Category Archives: Professional Development

Twitter, IFTTT, and Evernote for Taking Notes

At a recent conference, I was teasing a friend between sessions that I didn’t see any tweets from him during the last session. He mentioned that he was too busy taking notes to tweet. I mentioned that my tweets are a main component of my notes during conferences.

I do like to share the information that I am learning at a conference for those who are not lucky enough to attend. I have also found that trying to take notes then tweet is both time consuming and that I can miss something while trying to share my notes. My note-taking process during a conference is using Twitter, Evernote, and an IFTTT recipe.

I always have Evernote open during a conference to take notes because not all content is necessary Twitter worthy, but is necessary for me to know and keep. There also tend to be instances where 140 characters are simply not enough to thoroughly take the notes.

Using an IFTTT recipe (similar to this one) that saves all of my favorite tweets to Evernote, I am able to capture my tweets as notes in Evernote. This recipe is helpful in two ways. The first is that the material that is Twitter worthy gets typed in 140 characters and tweeted without being typed into or copied from Evernote notes. Once the session over, I quickly favorite my own tweets. These tweets are sent as separate notes to my Evernote inbox folder. The second is that I can favorite tweets from either the same session or other sessions going on at the conference and have those tweets go to my Evernote inbox as well. This is great for when people are tweeting apps, ideas, or quotes from other sessions that I want to look into at a later time.

After the conference is over, I tend to debrief with my notes and combine them into one or two master notes with different sections for the main topics. All of my tweets are saved as separate notes and I pull the relevant information into my master notes. In addition, it gives me time to review the tweets that I favorited that I didn’t have time to look into during the conference sessions.

I realize that this may be a little time consuming, but I do like essentially “live” tweeting from conferences and being able to save some time by letting my tweets be my notes.

GTAMTV Review – Where to Start?

This is a question that I have been asking myself since I returned from the Google Teacher Academy – Mountain View. I have so much information that I want to share with my colleagues, students, and educators around the country that I have no idea where to start. I’ve tried breaking it down by tool, relevant subject area, and/or importance, but I have found that there is too much overlap and it was becoming more work than when I started.

Partial Notes from GTAMTV

During my prep period today, I went into the principal’s conference room and just started writing on the whiteboard. I put ideas, tools, subject areas, and whatever else I thought on the board. I started drawing arrows, questions marks, and asterisks. The whiteboard looks like a mess and after a half hour or so, my principal walked in to see what I was doing in her conference room.

She smiled and asked me to explain one of the items on the board. I picked the research tools in Google Docs because it is something that can help our teachers right away. From there, I started to randomly work my way around the board trying to do a quick summary of each item. Another teacher walked into the room and says, “Tell me about the YouTube thing.” I give a quick summary of the YouTube Editor and move on to one of the other related topics. I stop to take a breath and my principal asks me to stop talking and asks what are the most important items that you can do professional development on that will get the school the biggest bang for the buck.

I circle about five broad topics that will have the biggest impact on the school. We work out a date in January and I am going to be presenting those topics to a select group of students and teachers that want to come in on a Saturday to learn more about Google. I am going to develop the presentation as a “train the trainer” style professional development because those students and teachers will be able to go to their departments and friends and show them some of the great things that I learned next week.

Professional development with Google tools is not part of my action plan since I do a lot of professional development already with Google Apps and iPads. Today was a good day. I was able to finally organize some thoughts, get feedback, and start to create a plan to share what I have learned. I plan to post more information about my experiences at GTAMTV and share the knowledge that I learned, but I first needed to find a place to start and with some help from my friends, I found that place.

Using Google Docs to Share Modified Assignments

I was preparing a tutorial tonight for our school’s department chairs. We are trying to come up with ways to easily share to additional resources or modified assignments to those students that are struggling through Google Calendars and Docs. The idea is simple enough. The teacher that is modifying the assignment or providing additional resources assigns the student a number or letter. The student knows to go to the class calendar and if he/she sees “Student C” click on this document, he or she clicks on the link to get the assignment/resource.

The catch for us is that the default settings on Docs is if someone has a school Google login, they can see the document. I created the tutorial below to show our teachers how to turn off the “Public” feature, turn it into “Private,” and share it with the student.

[googleapps domain=”docs” dir=”presentation/embed” query=”id=1IPZ_94XKqvRMTEr-Mp1DjB3UPwRRa41ON60SBQLuIRI&start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000″ width=”480″ height=”389″ /]

My GTAMTV Application Responses

After seeing several fellow GTAMTV attendee’s application, I have decided to post mine online as well.



Describe Your Role as a Professional Developer

My experience utilizing education technology has led me to deliver professional development at schools, my district, and state and national conferences. I spearheaded my school’s transition to Google Apps and trained the entire student body and faculty.  I’ve delivered sessions on Google Apps, technology and iPad best practices to enhance instruction and improve classroom management, and STEM related topics to educators at the regional and state ACTE conferences and National Science Foundation conference.

Describe Your Level of Proficiency with Google Apps

I am proficient with Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sites, and administer the Google Apps for Education accounts for my school. My proficiency with Google Apps allows me to develop presentations and tutorials for faculty and students. I have taught my students to utilize Google Apps daily to plan, create, and collaborate.

Favorite Non-Google Technology Tools/Products That You Use on a Regular Basis


What Inspired You to Apply to the Google Teacher Academy?

A student said to me, “I love Google. It makes everything easier and more efficient when working in group plus I get to take it everywhere.” I am inspired to apply to the GTA because of my students and a desire to become a better educator. My students are always craving new technology and using Google Apps is an essential part of my classroom as well as their other classes. GTA will improve my knowledge and provide resources that will help me prepare students to become college and career ready regardless of their post-high school aspirations. Attending the GTA is not only about increasing my knowledge and my students’ knowledge, but also allowing me to continue to provide relevant professional development for teachers and administrators. I find it rewarding to provide professional development for others so that I can make a difference beyond the confines my classroom.

Describe One of Your Favorite Teaching Moments. What Made it so Special for Your and Your Students?

Victor was one of my former students. He is autistic and tends to be shy in front of groups. During Victor’s first year, he participated in a small group presentation for a project they completed. When it came to Victor’s turn to introduce himself, he was too shy to say his name and stepped away from the group. Three years later, Victor and a team member were presenting their senior project. Victor participated in a 15 minute presentation in front of his peers, faculty, and parents. He was knowledgeable and articulate. At the end of his presentation, some of his peers gave him a standing ovation. I am proud that I created a safe learning environment, centered around project-based learning, technology, and group presentations, that gave Victor the skills he needed to present in front of a large group. Victor is currently enrolled in classes at a community college.

Describe an Obstacle you Encountered in Your Professional Life and How You Overcame It.

After my first year of teaching computer applications, my administrator talked to me about my schedule for the following year. He asked me if I was willing to teach 3D Animations. My background was in business, and I was hesitant to teach classes using software that I didn’t know. I spent that summer, and every summer since, pouring through textbooks and tutorials, attending professional development, and going to conferences to learn more. Despite improving each year, I realized there are always going to be students that know more than I do about technology, but I embrace the challenge. My style of teaching is constantly evolving. My classroom is no longer a teacher-dominated learning environment, but I act as a facilitator of learning. I believe that real learning occurs when students have authentic opportunities to absorb, experience, and create without the constraints of a “traditional” classroom environment.

GTAMTV – My Changes from GTANY

I was talking to a colleague about the application process for the Google Teacher Academy – Mountain View and was comparing it to the New York application. I told him that all the questions and video requirements were the same and the process was identical. He asked me what I had done differently on the GTAMTV application compared to my GTANY. This was an easy answer because I had done a lot differently.

  • Time – I spent far more time on this application. I was trying to cram the GTANY application in between a family trip to Hawaii and creating three different presentations for a CTE conference.
  • Help – I asked for it. My principal, CTE coordinator, and my wife all read, reread, and suggested edits and critiqued the video. The extra set of eyes helped me realize that I take most of what I do in the classroom and outside the classroom for granted. I had to do something that I am not comfortable with – being a little boastful.
  • Change the Narrative – With the exception of my favorite teaching moment, I changed the response on every answer and I changed one essay response and the entire video on the second to last day before the deadline. My responses were missing something from the first time and in my early drafts. They seemed a little cookie-cutter and nothing seemed to stand out until I bumped into one of my students in the hall. He asked what I was working on and I told him. He responds with “I love Google. It makes everything easier and more efficient when working in group plus I get to take it everywhere.” This was what inspired me to attend the Google Teacher Academy – the students. My passion for teaching was finally explained in words and in my video because of this quote. My writer’s block was gone and the video was remade because I finally realized that it was my passion for teaching and improving myself for my students, school, and district.
  • Change the video – In my first application, I tried to explain how I use Google and technology in my classroom in 60 seconds. It was 60 seconds of non-stop talking. If I had 5 minutes, I probably could not get all the different ways I use Google and technology into a video. In the GTAMTV video, I had a theme – Passion. I minimized my words and let the video do the talking. Finally, I had pictures of students and their work which allowed me to show some of the technology I use in the classroom.
  • Social Media – I started posting information more often to Twitter and Facebook. The biggest item here wasn’t the posting, but after I missed out on GTANY, I started to follow everyone who was accepted and those who didn’t. I watched their videos, followed their blogs, and spent more time on Twitter. I have learned a lot from these educators and while it may not have had a direct impact on my application, it probably helped me indirectly.

The biggest difference between my applications was mentioned earlier – passion. I wrote about my passion and included it in my video. My application was more about that passion and less about my resume. I have no idea what made the difference this time, but I am proud of the changes I made because it enabled to give the reviewers a better perspective of me.

GTAMTV – Getting In

I am sitting at my computer still amazed and excited that, one day ago, I received an email that I was accepted into the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View in December. This was my second attempt to get in to a GTA with the first being the New York GTA that recently concluded.

Just like several other educators, I was watching the Twitter feed waiting to see if anyone had any news. The funny thing was that the first hashtag (#gtamv) I was using wasn’t very popular. I was starting to think that it wasn’t the right day for the announcement until a teacher pointed out that I had the wrong hashtag. Once I was following the right hashtag (#gtamtv), I was relieved to see that there were several educators anxiously waiting. I was nervous and wasn’t quite sure if I have done enough to get in this time. It also didn’t help that my principal was texting me every 15 minutes to see if I heard anything.

Continue reading


During the past month, I have been working on several projects which has caused me to reflect on how I teach, what our school does well, and how have I managed to get here.

The first project was a presentation for the STEM Smart: Lessons Learned from Successful Schools workshop in Las Vegas. This presentation was hard because we had to capture what we do as a school to promote STEM and be successful at it. The problem was that we were confined to 45 minutes and had to address specific topics set by Successful STEM Education. Our topics included how we are setup as a CTE school, project-based learning (PBL), staff development, community involvement, incorporating technology, and a specific example of a STEM project that we incorporate. In the three plus years that our school has been open, we have done so many things that it is hard to capture all of it in 45 minutes. We tried to determine what our best practices are and highlight those. My component of the presentation was the community involvement and incorporating technology where I focused on our use of Google Apps for Education, the 1:1 iPad program, and the various other technologies seen our campus on a daily basis. The majority of my time was spent on Google Apps for Education and the iPad program especially since we started collecting data on our student’s usage of those tools, but it was important not to skip out on the other items like Edmodo and laptop carts because they contribute to our school’s success. Our presentation, as well as all the others from the workshop, are available on the conference website.

The second project was working on an application for our school to earn an award. I am not sure if I can disclose the award that we are applying for so I will not mention it by name. This was an application that our three administrators, myself, and an English teacher have been working on for awhile. Like the STEM presentation, this application was difficult because we needed to capture everything within a specific word limit. For the most part, we were able to stay within the word limit in the first or second draft in most sections. Unfortunately, the sections that we were over in, we were over by hundreds of words. Through some creative writing and some major cuts to sections, we were able to get all of the sections within the proper word count.

The final project that I am working on (not completed yet) is the Google Teacher Academy application. For an application that I have previously completed, this has been a learning experience for me. Obviously, since I did not get into the last Google Teacher Academy, I have been rethinking every answer that I gave on the last application. This may mean that I am answering questions with different examples all together or just rewriting sections to make them better. I am not done with the application yet because I need to cut some words from most of the sections and edit a video.

I mention these three projects because while it is sometimes difficult to be limited by time or word counts, I think it is an important exercise in reflection. I have had to think about what is really important in each section of a presentation or application and be able to convey that message in a limited space. I always want my students and my children to get to the point without rambling and now the shoe is on the other foot and it is my turn to get to the point. These presentations and applications have been great at getting me to think about what is important, what do we do really well, and how can I present it in short period of time. While it may be difficult, I have enjoyed the journey and I look forward to future chances to reflect back on the opportunities that have been given to me at Southwest CTA.

ISTE Big 3

I was reading a blog post from Vicki Davis titled Walk on #iste12. The idea behind the post is “What are you going to do next?” There was a lot of information at ISTE and to focus on only three areas is going to be difficult, but here they are:

  • Personalized education – Our school and myself already have a focus on personalized education, but that is because of the CTE focus. I want to improve how I deliver content, projects, and interact with students to provide them with a more personalized education.
  • Apps – I saw several great apps for education and I am still deciphering them. My goals in to pick three to use in my classroom this year and provide a short description of all the other apps and provide them to our staff for them to research what would work best in their classroom.
  • Improve my presentations – I did not present at ISTE, but I participated in several great sessions where the presenters interacted with the audience, were engaging in presentation materials, and added back-channeling. I want to improve my skills in all three areas.

ISTE Day 2 – Great Resources and Food for Thought

Today at ISTE started off with a great keynote from Dr. Yong Zhao. He has a great mix of statistics and humor in his presentation. Some of the quotes from his presentation will be addressed in future posts, but I think his presentation and delivery was one of the best keynotes that I have seen. After the keynote, I attended four sessions with a breakdown of three of them below. There is only a breakdown of three because I walked out of a session and went to the exhibit hall.

Session 1 – EduTecher’s Web Tools Will Make Your Classroom Rock! – This presentation was not one of the one’s that I was planning on attending before yesterday because I had planned on seeing some other presentations on educational tools. Based on what I saw on Twitter yesterday, I changed my mind and wasn’t disappointed. Adam Bellow provided a list of excellent tools and short demos on how they worked. There were so many great apps that I emailed the list to four of my fellow technology teachers as soon as the session was over because I know that they will want to play with them before the school year starts.

Session 2 – Bailed out 30 minutes in and went to the exhibit floor.

Session 3 – A Broader Perspective on Data: Infographics and Visualization – David Warlick is an entertaining and informative speaker. By the time David’s session ended, I was ready to start creating my own infographics and develop a project for my students to create a relative infographic. One of the lines that David used what that he would like to see data fairs instead of science fairs. Considering that most industries are data driven in some manner, this would be a great exercise for students.

Session 4 – The Steep Unlearning Curve: Rethinking Schools, Classrooms, and Learning – There were several great sessions to choose from this time period, but I decided to go to Will Richardson’s because of the Twitter and blog posts that I have read from him in the past. His session was inspirational and also highlighted how much work there is to do to change education. I cannot disagree with the three things that teachers need to unlearn in order to rethink schools: delivery, assessment, and competitiveness. While I think that I have made changes in those three since my first year of teaching, I still have a ways to go especially in engaging others to unlearn what they have always done.

It was a great second day and I am looking forward to the third day tomorrow. There is so much going on here that I don’t want it to end, but I also know that I need time to absorb everything that I have seen and heard.

ISTE Day 1 – A First for Everything

Today was my first day at the ISTE conference – I skipped Sir Ken Robinson’s keynote because I had seen him a few months ago at the ACTE conference. I wasn’t sure what I should expect from ISTE, but the day contained a few surprises.

Every session was full so get there early. I have been to conferences where there are one or two sessions that are full during the entire conference. Today, I attended five sessions and all five sessions were full. For the first time attending any conference, I had a perfect record of picking sessions. I  went to five great sessions where I picked up something new or was inspired at each session.

Session 1: Are You in Top Form? Google Forms for Administrators – I use some Google Forms at school and our administration uses them as well. When I left this session, I was impressed by the templates and the formulas that make them work, the amount of data that was collected in these forms was incredible, and I realized that our school and myself do not use Google Forms enough to collect data.

Session 2: Becoming a Mobile Learner – Two years ago, the iSchool initiative video was shown at the Nevada ACTE conference. From the minute I saw the video, I was texting my principal and CTE coordinator that this is what we should be doing at our school. Two years later, I work at a school where 10th-12th grades can opt-in for an iOS device and was recognized for being an Apple Distinguished School. It was great to see how the iSchool initiative has developed over time. It was also great to get some apps to look at including: iStudy Pro, Cramberry, Meal Snap, and TourWrist (which I heard about 4 times today).

Session 3: Google Slam: GCTs Share New Tricks for Some “Old” Tools – I use Google products frequently and think that I am pretty good at most Google products. I learned several new “slams” that I will be able to use in my classroom including Google Voice for receiving questions from students, Form Emailer Scripts, and YouTube annotations.

Session 4: There’s an App for That! Finding Real Solutions with Today’s Apps (Version 2.0) – I was looking forward to this presentation all day because some of the educators on the panel were some of the first people I started to follow when I joined Twitter and I subscribed to their blog RSS feeds. While they did take some criticism in the backchannel for they way the technology was working, I was actually impressed how smooth it was going. It is difficult to alternate and project six different iPads using Apple TV and I thought they did a great job. This session was all about apps and I got a few that I can use including Mindo, Green Screen, and Tapose. The only thing that I wish was added to this session was that each panelist could have stated their favorite app.

Session 5: Beyond Googling: Using Technology To Build A Culture of Inquiry – Another session that I was looking forward to all day for the same reason as above. I have seen other presentations online from Chris Lehmann and this one did not disappoint. At my school, we do some similar things to the Science Leadership Academy and it was great to hear the stories from Chris and be inspired to do more with our project-based learning projects.

I have several other take-aways from today’s sessions and will post those once I fully absorb them. It is getting late and I am looking forward to day two of ISTE.