My first post: Reflections and what lies ahead…

I feel like I have been sucked into an edu-tech tornado….

It all started a few months back when I casually mentioned to a colleague, Erin Klein (@kleinerin), how I wasn’t satisfied and needed more with my career but didn’t know what.  I was half way through the year of  “flipping” my classroom lectures but felt that something was missing.  She introduced me to Twitter and quickly my PLN and ideas for the future took off.

As I sit here and reflect on the amazing people I have met, friendships I have created and projects I now am looking forward to implementing into my classroom, I can’t help but wonder, “why was I in the dark for so long?” and “why aren’t more of my colleagues taking advantage of this other world of teaching?”

Ashlie and Erin at the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

Ashlie and Erin at the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

My journey started this past March when I attended the Michigan Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference held in Detroit, MI.  I basically “shadowed” Erin because I had no idea what I was doing, which sessions I should choose and didn’t know a soul.  Luckily, I was blessed with the gift of gab because I quickly made friends and figured out which session fit me.  I attended a gadget workshop and a Web 2.0 workshop both presented by Leslie FisherRedesigning Schools with Flipped Learning presented by Brian BennettThe Epic Evernote Experiment with Nick Provenzano, Adam Bellow’s favorite apps and a social media session held by Erin Klein.  I was also privileged to listen and be inspired by Kevin Hunnicutt, Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo’s keynote addresses.  Each one of them had a message I needed to hear.  They definitely got the wheels turning in my head.

The connections that I made during the MACUL conference were unlike most first-time attendees;  David Prindle (@dprindle), Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian), Ben Rimes (@techsavveyed), Jennifer Bond (@teambond), Adam Bellow (@adambellow) and Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) were some of the people that I developed a great connection and friendship.

Dinner with Jennifer Bond, Erin Klein, Nick Provenzano, Adam Bellow

Dinner with Jennifer Bond, Erin Klein, Nick Provenzano, Adam Bellow among others.

Christine Garland (@CAGarland) in particular got me totally “geeked” about implementing Remind101 (a safe way for teachers to text message their students and stay in touch with parents) into my course this Fall.

Remind 101 guys, Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and Amber Teamann (@8Amber8)

Remind 101 guys including Christine, Todd Nesloney and Amber Teamann (Photo actually taken at ISTE)

After the whirwind of MACUL, I couldn’t relax my brain, I needed more.  Hence, my “off the wall” request to observe Nick Provenzano’s 9th and 10th grade English class at Grosse Pointe High School in Grosse Point , MI.  Now, I teach 8th grade physical science so you are probably wondering why I would want to observe his class.  Nick has been doing some incredible things in his classroom including the implementation of Evernote as a tool to change his traditional English classroom into a 1:1 iPad, paperless, environment.  AMAZING, I thought!  I needed to learn more and how to apply it to a science classroom where my students draw pictures of experiments and diagrams.  How could I use this program to help me go virtually paperless?Nick Provenzano classroom

Have you ever heard of a paperless English classroom?  Nick’s 9th and 10th graders come right in, grab their assigned iPad and sign into Evernote to begin class.  If they want to brainstorm or prefer to write that day, Nick’s desks are covered in Idea Paint, which is this amazing product that you can paint anywhere to create a white erase board.  Nick’s students use it to jot down ideas and notes then take a picture with their iPads to place into their Evernote e-portfolio.Nick Provenzano classroom 2

This got me thinking, and although I will not have access to a classroom set of iPads everyday, it’s in the back of my head.  I definitely am using Evernote now to organize everything from faculty meeting notes, to my lesson plans, to my assignments.  I plan on keeping them in organized folders in my Evernote account.  And the great thing is, I can access them from any device!

You can imagine how I felt when I returned from Nick’s class that day.  So many ideas, again brain was bursting (and just a side note, all of the above happened over my 2-week spring break!!!).  I immediately returned to school and began writing a grant to attend the ISTE 2013 conference held in San Antonio, TX this past June.  Needless to say, I won the grant that sent me to ISTE!

ISTE was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  While I attended some amazing keynotes (Jane McGonigal on Gaming) virtually (Adam Bellow’s “You’re Invited to Change the World”), workshops (Nick Provenzano’s Evernote), sessions (Bellow and Dembo’s Untangling the Web and Alan November’s) and Ignite Sessions (Erin Klein/Jennifer Bond), nothing compares to the “out-of-session” connections I made with other ed-tech junkies!!  I think this is one of the main reasons to attend these conferences!

Ignite session with Amber Teamann (@8Amber8), Kyle Pace (@kylepace), Steven Anderson (@web20classroom), Ryan Vanden Heuval (@techsavvyclass), Brad Waid @techbradwaid), Drew Minock (@techminock)

Ignite session with Amber Teamann, Matt Gomez, Kyle Pace, Nick Provenzano, Steven Anderson, Ryan Vanden Heuvel, Brad Waid , Drew Minock ISTE friends Matt Gomez (@mattBgomez), Joan Young (@flourishingkids), Angela Watson (@Angela_Watson)

Ignite session with Matt Gomez, Joan Young, Angela Watson 

The bloggers cafe was a happening place to be.   Two Guys and Some iPads (Brad Waid @techbradwaid and Drew Minock @techminock) practically camped out there talking non-stop about how augmented reality is a game-changer in education (and I agree!!).  They had tons of people stopping by to see real Aurasma and DAQRI demos.  Andrew Vanden Heuvel (@avheuv)/Google Glass Guy/STEMbite was there explaining how he uses glass to virtually teach SCIENCE!! Way cool! You can guarantee we are Skyping this up-coming school year.  Check out his youtube channel.

Here me wearing Andrew's Google Glass.

Here’s me wearing Andrew’s Google Glass.

Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and I spent a lot of time together discussing how we flipped our classroom this past year.  He has done some amazing things with his 5th graders and has gotten me excited about exploring as a means to organize my videos and upload various other media.  I’ll leave a flipping discussion and what I discover about Sophia to another blog post.  Drew Minock and I also spent a lot of time discussing an ipad app called Cargo Bot where students can learn programing!  This is something I will be implementing as a club this upcoming school year.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

I ended up spending quite a bit of time in the Expo Hall, not to browse all of the vendors and collect all of that free junk, but to get one-on-one time at the Edmodo booth so that I could learn all about their platform and figure out if this is something I want to implement in an 8th grade classroom.  Turns out I ended up winning $100 in Edmodo money to use in their “store” to buy apps!  The other booth that I spent a lot of time at was Techsmith.  Now, I have a little place in my heart for Techsmith, #1 because they are from MI and #2 I fully immersed myself in Camtasia (their video editing software) this year.  I also presented an “off-the-cuff” session about flipping and Camtasia at EdCamp Detroit with Dave McCollom (Techsmith guru).  I consider myself an honorary Techsmith cheerleader 🙂 I learned some new animation tricks courtesy Ryan Eash and did a Google Hangout with the guys back in MI from TX to get more information on their product called Ask3 (which I am also looking to implement this year).

ISTE Social w/ Jennifer Bond

ISTE Social w/ Jennifer Bond, Drew Minock, Brad Waid, Kyle Pace, Nick Provenzano, Erin Klein, Joan Young

Erin Klein, Tom Whitby and Adam Bellow

Erin Klein, Tom Whitby and Adam Bellow

I could go on and on about ISTE but recognize how long MY FIRST POST is! Like I said, it’s been a whirlwind!  I’m up for it though, I was in a rut for the past couple of years.  I feel like I have been revived!  There is so much out there to make your classroom the best it can be.  Erin Klein said it best in her ISTE Ignite presentation, “Would you want to be a student in your classroom?”.  I really think I would.  I’ve flipped my lectures (an ongoing project) and plan on implementing some pretty cool things into my curriculum this year that I have picked up on from some inspiring people.  Stay with me now, my posts won’t be as long in the future (I promise)!  I also promise to give you a taste of what it is like to be a student in my classroom!  Your comments are welcome!  I hope to learn from you as much as I hope you may learn from me!

Thanks for reading! -Ashlie

12 responses to “My first post: Reflections and what lies ahead…

  1. Hi Ashley,

    I LOVE your first post! What a reflective piece. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world. This will be such an inspiration to so many looking to get started with growing personally in their profession.

    I’m so happy we met and connected this year!!

    Lots of love,


  2. I really enjoyed your 1st post and your inspiration. I’m a new blogger and making my own way though flipping. I hope to find some interesting experiences along the way, too.

    • smithsciencegms

      Thanks for the comment Regina! We are basically forging the path together. I hope we can learn together and get our message out there. Basically I want people to know what I do that is so amazing in my classroom, no more hiding!! Can’t wait to see what you create! Thanks for reading!

  3. Ashlie:
    Great post! Thank you for sharing. Your question, “why was I in the dark for so long?” was my feeling a year ago. I continue to be amazed by those who remain unconnected. I’m going to look into idea paint and try to work in my plans a trip to ISTE 2014 around some grad school.
    I look forward to learning with you in the months ahead.

    • smithsciencegms

      Thanks for reading! ISTE was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. I highly recommend going! I’m already thinking about how I can get there next year too! Keep in touch!

  4. Thanks for posting this. I found myself clicking links like crazy. You gave me so much to think about. Do you have any resources on flipping in very low income high schools? I would love to try it, but I don’t want to shut out the kids who are homeless or have no tech at home. Thanks again for a burst of energy in the middle of my summer. I am excited to start planning. 🙂

    • smithsciencegms

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad I helped spark something. I would recommend reading, Flipping Your Classroom by Jonathon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, first. Then check out sights like (take the flipping certification), it has great tutorials that may give you some ideas. Do you kids have access to a computer lab? Do they not have internet at home? Contact me on Twitter and we can continue this conversation. There are lots of PLN’s just for flip teachers that you can connect with!

  5. What an amazing first post with many wonderful blogger connections!
    Remind 101 was my BFF last year! Thanks for sharing about the Idea Paint/Evernote teacher using it in the English class! Sharing with some high school teachers I’m meeting up with tomorrow!!
    ISTE was an unbelievable experience in the good ole SA…my hometown!
    Looking forward to your next post!

    • smithsciencegms

      Thank you! It is amazing the power of Twitter and blogging! This career choice (after 11 yrs) has just become something incredibly new and exciting! I am glad you could take some things away. Isn’t it crazy how I could get so much from a HS English teacher when I teach 8th gd physical science! That is what is so wonderful from all of this. Hope to stay in touch!

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