Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why I do what I do..........

I didn't realize when I first saw the You Matter manifesto on Twitter last year just how much it would change my life. It has become an integral part of why I do what I do. I've not only hung it on my bulletin board this year, but I've made kids read it. Sometimes as a special education teacher, I don't always get to see the academic light bulbs or the academic progress. However this year I've gotten to see the bulbs that go off when all kids realize that they matter and can make a difference. Today I had the privilege to serve as a hero alongside other heroes(policemen, firemen, members of the armed forces, and medical heroes etc.). We had the opportunity to take kids on a shopping spree for Christmas, thanks to a local church. Watching these kids spend almost an hour shopping for what they wanted was priceless and humbling at the same time. Today was a day I will never forget. Today was a day that I got to see the You Matter manifesto seed planted in almost 600 kids. This is why I do what I do. I also caught myself talking about "my kids" today and had one of the other volunteers ask if I had kids. (Other teachers understand what I mean).

If you are unfamiliar with the You Matter manifesto, check out this link:  You Matter Manifesto

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Missing in Action

Wow...where did this school year go? I started at a brand new school this year that just opened. Let's just say my time has been consumed with functional technology so much that I have almost forgotten to stop and be creative. I found creative me again this weekend. I got back on Pinterest. I started my Tech Newsletter for school and am now(finally posting) on this blog. I've been keeping my devotional one up to date and I'm sorry I've neglected this one.

I'm learning about balance and learning that being the social media manager for a brand new school is not easy. I haven't been on my Twitter as much because I've been on the school Twitter. I found my inspiration at an unusual place too this weekend. I loved being back with a PLN and connecting with others at the UAH Alabama Qualifier for Lego League. It re-energized my PLN need and I can't wait for ALedchat tomorrow night.

Stay tuned,....I promise to share more this week.

For now: here is the Tech Newsletter I made for my teachersWeek 1 Newsletter

Monday, August 11, 2014

I'm back!

What a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been(and a blur at that). School started for teachers on July 31st and the students came back August 5th. I transferred to our brand new intermediate school which has lead to an interesting start to the school year. The beginning of the year is always full of fun, add to that contractors finishing up a few things. I'll admit last week WORE ME OUT. Then again it seems like most first weeks of school do. However I am so thankful for a PLN that refocuses me and helps encourage me. Tonight's Twitter chat was just what I needed to refocus and remember that taking care of me matters.
Have a great week! Be the difference to a child and be that friend to a colleague. Everyone is looking for someone to listen.

Post to come later this week or by the weekend: Summer recap on new tech tools. (Yep I forgot to do a recap with as fast as summer ended.).

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dear Teacher...You Matter

So tomorrow is the first day of school for teachers in my system. Yep summer is a thing of the past for this year and exciting days are ahead to welcome in an multiple opportunities to make a difference. I've been thinking about this blog for a couple of weeks now and what exactly I wanted to say. I thought about doing two separate for my tech blog and one for my devo blog, but what I have to say fits with both. So if you follow both you will see the same post.  Tomorrow starts my 9th year of teaching. What I have learned in the last year and half could more than fill a book about teaching, sadly most of you would question whether some of it is true or not. So here is my dear teacher post to start the year. My hope and prayer is that EVERY teacher regardless of what they teach will know at some point each and every day how much they matter.

Dear Teacher,
I know you are sitting there thinking where did summer go and how quickly the time has passed. You are also sitting there questioning how it will all get finished before the students walk through the doors on their first day of school. Rest assured it will because it always does. By now your dreams have been filled with lesson plans and designing your classroom in your head, that was how I always knew the start of school was soon ahead.  Get to know your students that first week. More than everything you will study for the year, they want to know how much you care. Give it your all during the day, but remember to take time for you. It's about balance and giving to yourself allows you to give to those precious kids you impact every day. I know you will have days when things do not go according to plan. You will feel stressed at times, frustrated at others, and some days may just leave you feeling wore out. It will happen, but those days and moments will pass. On those days though remember this...YOU MATTER! What you do is important and you are making a difference in lives. Don't let the feeling of stress or frustration cause you to doubt this important truth.  So teacher reading this, take those two words into your room this year and into your school. Share them with a colleague and your students. Thank you for doing what you do, for giving your heart to those kids, and for loving them for who they are. You make a difference, what you do matters, and most of all remember YOU MATTER. 

A fellow teacher

So where is this coming from? I am on a mission. I can be pitiful about some stuff this year or I can do something about it(aka powerful as Joyce Meyer always says).  My words for the school year for me personally are intentional, determined, and discipline. I'll blog about more of that later, but I have decided to look for ways to be intentional with encouragement. I know who I am as a teacher (finally) and regardless of the actions of others, I have to move on from that. That being said, I've learned from past experience that sow into others and God will sow back into you. Have a wonderful school year teacher friends and everyone! I wish you the best. I pray your year is filled with moments that make you smile and love what you do. Don't let anyone make you feel like you aren't enough or that you don't matter, because you do! 


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Flipping your PD

Out of the three sessions I presented at NATC, this one was my favorite topic. Flipping your PD and expanding your PLN is a topic I am passionate about. A little background on where I am with this topic. This time last year I was only beginning to understand what a PLN was and how to Flip my PD. When I say beginning to understand, my Twitter was set to private, I mean beginning to understand. My first EdCamp opened my eyes to a whole new world of connecting and I started to see the possibilities. Before I only used Twitter to follow people and read what they wrote. I can't remember doing any original tweets of my own other than re-tweeting what everyone else was posting. (I now realize that only showed up to a select few). As far as hash tag's go, I was still clueless. Fast forward a year, Twitter has become one of my favorite social media outlets. The value of a PLN is priceless. There were days last school year when I know I would not have made it without having a group to turn to. I've helped moderate a few of the spedchat's on Tuesday nights and participated in a few of ALedchat's. I was honored at ISTE last week to meet some of the people whom I have followed from a distance via Twitter. People who also train with Simple K-12 and who I have looked up to from afar for a couple of years now. I'm a better teacher because I learned how to expand my PLN. I'm a better teacher because I not only learned what to do, I did it. We can sit in session after session on the same topi, but if we never put anything into practice what have we learned?

Every educator has a PLN because you work with others. How you utilize that PLN is up to you(whether you collaborate, learn from etc.). When you expand your PLN outside of your school and even your system, you open yourself up to the opportunity of not only connecting with other educators but growing from their expertise. Your PLN can help you take the knowledge you have and apply it in the classroom.

So here are some practical steps in expanding your PLN:
1. First create the account and get started on Twitter! Make sure you set it as public so you can connect and reach out to others through hash tag's. If you are hesitant, just keep a watch on your account. If someone strange follows you, you can block them with a couple of clicks.

2. Find people to follow....For me when I first started I went to the list of trainers on Simple K-12 and followed some of them. That list includes some of the best in their fields, so I knew this was a place to start. I had also attended several of their webinars, so I wanted to continue learning from them. Then once you follow someone, find out who they follow. Eventually you start connecting with others and they are connecting with you!

3. Keep it short! You want someone to be able to re-tweet what you said. Learn the lingo...I was about six months in before I caught on that Ts meant teachers and Ss meant students. You have 140 characters, make them count and make them meaningful. Also make some original tweets. I was nervous about this at first, but I am slowly getting it right. Don't get discouraged, it will come.

4. When you see a post that you like or a link you want to revisit, favorite it. You can access your favorites in a certain spot later. Don't make the mistake of saying oh I'll find it again later. You won't. Favorite it by clicking on the star and look at it later.

5. Flipping your PD means nothing more than Rewindable Learning. It's learning that you pick to meet your need and where you want to grow. There are webinars out there now and a Twitter chat for every area. The link to the master schedule is on my handout (link below). One of my wonderful PLN members whom I have learned so much, used that phrase at an EdCamp and it has stuck. Flipped Learning is just that Rewindable. If you need to hear it again(or read it again), you can. We have all sat in sessions and thought to ourselves how does this apply to what I do. You hold the key to finding that learning avenue that is meant just for you. Sessions will still be there at various workshops(we all have to attend them at some point), but flipping your PD and expanding your PLN will help you to stay focused and learning at all times. It allows you to reach out to others that you may never think to ask a question or help from. We all are better when we are connected and stronger.

 Flipping your PD handout

Any questions let me know! Follow me on Twitter(@mnmann) or leave a comment here!
Keep growing through connecting,
Always remember #YouMatter

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I am an educator...

This was on the front of a T-shirt I received at ISTE last week. The back said, what are you. It is one of my favorites and I can't wait to wear it one Friday at work. This is a different kind of post, but it will be short I promise. This summer I have had a lot of time for reflection. I needed it after the year I had. We all have one of those years though. The year when we question why we are doing what we are doing. The year when we seem to analyze every one of our "teaching" philosophies so to speak. With that being said here a few of those revised and reflected philosophies. Maybe they'll tell you a little more about me ;-) Back to Technology posts on Monday with two webinar recaps and then later this week we have our local tech conference!

1. I used to say technology was one of my passions. Now I know it is Technology Integration that is one of my passions. It's not enough to just give teachers or students the tool, we need to show them how it applies to life(and content). Then let them create!

2. All behavior has a reason period. The student isn't acting a certain way just to act it. It may be a learned behavior or trait, but there is a reason behind why they do what they do. Same thing can be said for working with adults. Most that have put up a wall or seem hard to get to know are that way for a reason. Be yourself and you may be the one who can find a way to push a brick through on the wall.
(I loved this from Pinterest!) So true!!

3. Everyone matters. I read about the #YouMatter project/campaign on Twitter early last year. I actually had the opportunity to implement it at one school before I left. It was eye-opening to watch the teachers read their notes. Everyone needs to hear they matter and make a difference. I know for me personally, I can do a lot and deal with a lot if I know someone cares. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. Give it out and it will come back to you. I'm looking for ways to implement this next year period. I will post on here as I am able to so that others can have ideas of ways they can possible share it as well.  If you are not sure what I'm talking about watch this clip on YouTube: You Matter YouTube

4. Share what you know and what you do not know. You may never find the answers to your questions if you are not willing the ask them. I love having a PLN for that. I had the privilege to meet some of my PLN while in Atlanta for ISTE. Find a group you can learn from and grow! If you are having trouble doing that in your own school environment, reach out to a PLN through a webinar or on Twitter. It will renew you as a teacher and light a fire in you that hopefully you can spread to your local colleagues. We are all in this together and together can help each other grow. I'll be posting more on this in a couple of weeks. 

5. Keep learning! It doesn't matter if is reading an article or taking the time to catch up on a piece of literature, always find time to be a student yourself. I am finding it makes you a better teacher! 

For some the summer is on the down hill slope and for some they have a little longer to go, before you go back to school this year, take some time to reflect. Reflection is a key piece to good teaching. It takes the teacher who struggled and turns him/her into the teacher who has overcome. Always remember though that what you do matters! Do what you do with your head held high knowing it matters and has value! 

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Skitch examples

Skitch has become one of my favorite apps to allow students to create and take ownership in their work. I thought I had deleted all of my Skitch examples when I switched classrooms this year, but I found some of them. (Apparently Evernote saves your deleted files until you empty your deleted file folder ;-).  So here are some examples. If you have any questions let me know. I am working on a pictorial handout to include on my LiveBinder with how to use Skitch.

This is a worksheet that I took a screen shot of from the Safari tab.  Then using Skitch the student was able to annotate on top with his finger. The annotation is saved into Evernote or can be emailed to the Teacher. 

This is a screenshot of something made in the Easy Bake app. In Skitch the student could write about their creation or even write directions. 

These are pictures from a classroom. The wording on them is from a student. These could easily be inserted into a student's picture schedule or list of what to do during the day. The student(s) will feel ownership since they have helped create it. The pictures are saved into an Evernote folder and can easily be saved into a folder on the Desktop for printing purposes. 

Another screenshot used to to collect data on a student. The annotations are done using Skitch and are saved into an Evernote folder. 

This is a picture of a worksheet that a student needed to re-do. Skitch allowed for some guided practice/assistance and the student was able to complete the worksheet again on the iPad. This would also work for students with fine motor difficulties. They could type the answers using Skitch instead of having to write them out. 

I will include more this year. I apologize that I didn't think about it before, but I am glad I had not emptied out my deleted files on Evernote. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I would also love to hear how you use Skitch 

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ISTE Recap

Oh my what an amazing conference ISTE was. It was my first time and honestly I did not know what to expect. Others had tried to tell me, but until you experience that many people (16,000+) in one area it is hard to put it into words. I am only beginning to reflect and process what I learned, what I want to do next, and goals. For too long I have let others write my goals and attempt to define who I was as an educator. This post will be my three main take aways from the conference and a few pictures ;-) I will share more of the tools I learned later. ISTE taught me that I have a voice and reminded me I matter. I learned that what I say and do is important to someone and they are watching/listening. The line of but I'm just a special education teacher is not valid. I think often times teachers do not feel like they have a voice so they keep to themselves when the truth is they have more to share than anyone realizes. Find your voice and share it. You have something to offer and what you say/do matters to more than you know.

1. Stay connected....If you do not have a PLN, find one. You will grow from them more than you realize. Last year was a rough year for me in the classroom. My PLN helped me find my voice, ignite a fire, and then reminded me of both when I wasn't sure. If you need help starting one, leave a comment or connect me with me on Twitter.

2. You have a voice and your students do as well. Empower them to find theirs and remind them how much they matter. (Give them tasks that matter and watch the seeds bloom).

3. Technology is a tool. Put it in the hands of students and let them create the masterpieces of tomorrow. Technology is just that a tool. It's not for playing games, but giving students an opportunity to create. Give students the what of a project and let them figure out the why and the how.

Do I have more take aways from ISTE, yes but they are not in words just yet. Below are a few pictures of some of my favorite moments at ISTE. I was incredibly blessed to be able to share in a BYOD session and help out in the Simple K-12 sessions with the other trainers. My teaching cup is full and I am determined more than ever to keep it that way. Share it out and then take time to put more back in keeps a cup full and a teacher healthy.
Thanks for letting me share!

Till next time ISTE! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

ISTE Preview

I'm working on finalizing my ISTE presentation and just thought I would do a quick blog for those that may not be able to attend ISTE. Here is just a few of the tools I will be discussing in my BYOD session. 

Five tools to share with those that may not be able to attend ISTE:

Tech tool for teachers: Remind-This is a great tool for teachers to use to stay in contact with parents. Often times we only call when behavior problems arise, but with this tool teachers can contact parents for the positive things as well! It is also beneficial to special education teachers to remind parents about meetings and returning much needed paperwork. 

Tech tool for to help students with behavior issues: Class Dojo-This app allows teachers to keep track of positive and negative occurrences for students. It is customizable and the data can be shared with parents or other teachers. It is beneficial to special education teachers because this way the general education teachers can record data for a specific behavior and easily report back the level of mastery. 

Tech Tool for Reading: Word Wizard-This app allows for students to practice building words with letter tiles. The app allows for teachers to enter in their own word lists for students to practice. The tiles are color coded with vowels and consonants and match what students are used to from center activities. This app gives hands on practice for students of various exceptionalities and allows for them to use all of their senses. As students build the words, the sounds are blended together with the app. 

Tech Tool for Math: Math Playground-This website offers practice with word problems, how to videos, and a section with Common Core links. Teachers can use the website at first in guided practice or for independent when students are ready.  

Tech Tool for Fine Motor: Letter School-This app allows for not only fine motor practice of each letter, but provides guided instruction and independent practice for writing each of the letters. The app also incorporates the phoneme for each letter allowing for the students to hear it while they practice writing the letter. 

Keep a watch on my Live Binder(link on the blog) and my Twitter feed. I will post the entire presentation on there after ISTE is completed(may even be before so just keep watching!). 

Keep learning!
@mnmann (Twitter handle) 

Top Ten Part 4

Part four and the final post for the series ;-) Here are my last four Go-To Tech Tools that I use on a regular basis. These last four are more for organizational and professional use.

Tech Tool #7  Wunderlist
This site/app allows you to manage all of your to-do lists. No more multiple lists on multiple sticky notes. Now you can put your lists all in one place and have access on your phone, iPad, and computer. 

Tech Tool #8 Greenshot
Greenshot is the tool I use to take the screen shots you see in the blog posts. It is free and very easy to use. 

Tech Tool #9 Google Drive
Google Drive has become a lifesaver now that I have finally learned how to use it with all of my devices. It saves me so much time and is less stress. I'll be doing a more in depth post about how I use it later on hopefully before school starts back. If you have any questions before then though just email me or leave a comment! 

Tech Tool #10: Dropbox
This final tech tool is one of my favorites. I don't know what I would have done over the last couple of years without this tool. It has basically replaced my need to remember a flash drive. It also is handy when taking pictures on a device because my Camera Uploads sync with my Dropbox. 

Thanks for letting me share my favorite Top 10 Tech Tools. Let me know if you have any questions! 
Keep making a difference and just be YOU!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Top Ten Part 3

My Go to #5 and #6 involve developing a PLN. If you had asked me last year what a PLN was I am not sure I would have been able to tell you. Fast forward a year and I not only know what a PLN is, but I learn something new from them daily(and most I have never met face to face). By the way...PLN is Professional Learning Network. I am on both of these sites daily! If you have any questions about either, leave me a comment or send me an email.

Tech Tool #5: Simple K-12
Oh where would I be without my blue bunny family. Simple K-12 offers webinars, resources, and a way of connecting with educators across the country! This was a valuable resource for me as Alabama started to implement the Common Core standards. It was beneficial to go and view some of the webinars from states that were already implementing the standards and to learn from what worked(and what didn't). Webinars and resources are shared for a range of topics! Sign up for a free account and have access to special days of learning. Sign up for a full account and have access to webinars on demand and all live webinars. 

Tech Tool #6: Twitter
Twitter has opened my world to a network of educators that I would never be connected with face to face. It allows me the opportunity to learn from others in a non traditional setting. Last summer I was still a Twitter newbie. I can now moderate a chat, and regularly participate in a couple of different chats. I am growing to love Twitter more and more each day. Connecting with my PLN via Twitter has lit a fire for me professionally on more than one occasion. 

Happy learning!

Twitter handle: @mnmann

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Top 10 Part 2

This post will have tools 3-4. If you follow me on Pinterest, I am slowly getting the boards organizing and adding more specific ones. So make sure and check out the new boards ;-)

Go to Tech Tool #3: Evernote.....I am really not sure who told me about Evernote first, but I do not know how I ever lived without this tool. Evernote is my go to app for note taking, list making, and basically my place if I want to remember something. I have it installed on my computer, on my phone, and my iPad. I only use the free version and pay attention to how much I can upload at certain times. I may one day upgrade, but for now free works. Last year I used Evernote with documentation in the classroom and portfolio type things. I hope to do even more of that this year(I am attending a session on this at ISTE ;-)). Evernote notebooks can be shared between people and it also syncs up with tool #4 which we will talk about it in a minute. I have really found it beneficial when at a workshop and I don't want to write down the slide the presenter is showing. I just take a quick picture with my camera and upload it to Evernote and take my notes there. Evernote also works with your email account(No more having to print out confirmations).

Link to Evernote site: Evernote

Tech Tool #4: Skitch....Skitch syncs up with your Evernote account. As a special education teacher, I found Skitch to be beneficial when making picture schedules and rule posters for various students. The student could take a picture with the iPad and then annotate on top of the picture what the rule or time of the day was. These pictures are also saved in an Evernote notebook, so inserting them in a document or printing is simple. Worksheets can also be completed via Skitch and emailed or saved to the camera roll. Below is a screen shot of a an example of a what could be completed using Skitch. 

Any questions feel free to leave a comment or follow me on Twitter. Part 3 will be this weekend and I will finish up with the last two posts in this series next week. Then I will share my two favorite new tools I learned about at AETC and then it is off to ISTE. Thanks for reading and following ;-) I'm making progress at this and trying to improve with each post. 

Keep making a difference in all you do and say! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten List part 1

So I started out with thinking I only had a top five of go-to resources to share. I was wrong...the list quickly made it up to 10. So here is part 1 of my Top "Go-To" Tech Treasures. I will share two a day. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. I will share a screen shot of the tool and how I use it on a regular basis(most daily).

Tool #1 Live Binder
I heard about this tool a couple of years ago and started using it regularly over the last month. It is basically an online way of organizing a "binder" of information. This is how I display my presentations for others to view later and provide links to important resources(Symbaloo's etc.). I also use it to share resources with others in our system(handouts from meetings etc.). It is very user friendly. Possible classroom uses: Student Portfolios, Teacher Handbooks, Important Papers(one link for parents to access everything(newsletters, calendars etc.)

Here is a link for a couple of tutorials: Live Binder Tutorials
Here is the link to the main site:
Here is a screen shot of what a live binder looks like:

Tech Tool #2 Symbaloo 
Again I heard about Symbaloo a couple of years ago, but finally started putting it to regular use a year ago. (If you haven't caught on yet, once I figure out where I can use the tool, I use it's just putting into practice what I hear about that takes time).  Symbaloo is a great organization tool for all of your bookmarks. I have started making some for the webinars and presentations I conduct(no more having to thumb through a PowerPoint for a link). Teachers could use it in their classrooms to share websites with parents or in the lower grades to create an easy home page of favorites. 

Symbaloo Link: Symbaloo
Here is a screen shot of what a Symbaloo looks like(There is a tab on my LiveBinder of several of the Symbaloo's I have created). 

Thanks for reading today! I leave you with a quote from Teach Like a Pirate " Teaching is a job filled with frustrations, trials, and tests of your patience. Use your passion to soar over obstacles instead of crashing into them and burning out."  If you have not read this book I highly recommend it! Follow me on Twitter (@mnmann). I'll be back tomorrow with a post on my favorite "go-to" tech tools #3 and #4. 

Be Passionate about what you do and remember You matter! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Webinar recap

Today's webinar with Simple K-12 was on Elementary Apps for Common Core Reading and Math. If you are a member, check it out and let me know what you think. If you are not a member, sign up and participate in the free days of learning(there is one coming up this week!). Technology problems happen to everyone even those of us who may consider ourselves techie. Apparently my computer decided to run an update after I had logged on to go to webinar. At that point, it would not let me log into ANYTHING else. So I could do the webinar, but not the back channel discussion or share any website resources. Not fun....I like things to go a certain way, but at some point you have to learn to roll with it and discover Plan B. Techie problems happen to us all....I'm sure that made someone feel better ;-)

Here are two apps(both available on android and IOS devices) I shared in my presentation along with a few of my favorite common core websites:

Tellagami is quickly becoming one of my new favorite apps. It is available in the App store as well as the Google Play Store(and it is free). I used it this past school year in my iPad club with K-2 students. They did amazing without any instruction.  Our students can figure more out then we ever realized if we will just let them play. I loved how they quickly started sharing with others when they discovered another thing it could do. Lesson learned: Let the students play with an app and investigate, they will learn it and be able to apply what they know afterwards. Tellagami can be used in a variety of ways depending on the age of students. The Speaking and Listening strand of the English Language Arts CCSS(Common Core State Standards). As I said possibilities are endless(book reports, presentations on informational text, math explanation videos..)

My students LOVE Math Blaster. The addition portion is free, but it costs for the other "chapters". Depending on what age you teach, you may want to just pay the $3.99 for the other seven groups. Math Blaster is interactive Math Fluency practice that the students love because they feel like they are playing a game. Math Fluency is addressed in some of the lower grades for the CCSS, but it is important in the upper grades as well. Students have to be able to know how to solve the problem and apply what they have learned. The computation portion becomes the foundation for the application skill. 

These are my favorite websites that allow you to search for activities based on the standard:

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Twitter or Pinterest and remember to check out my Live Binder. I will be posting links to presentations as they are loaded. (I'll also send out a tweet when I update). Tomorrow I will start with sharing my top five "go to" tech tools that I use on almost a daily basis. 

Happy Learning,

Monday's Musings

Surely I'm not the only techie person who has tech issues, but I really wish mine wouldn't misbehave on webinar days. ISTE is next week and to say I am excited is an understatement. I'm also very, very nervous. This will be my first time attending ISTE and I'm also presenting a BYOD session on Sunday. AETC was a lot of fun and truly inspirational. I love connecting with teachers and expanding my PLN. I realized during my session that there are some of the tools that I consider my "go-to" tech tools that some teachers are not familiar with yet. I will be sharing more about those as we lead up to ISTE. I will also be mentioning a few new tools that I am excited about implementing during this coming school year. This post is short, because I have a webinar in 30 minutes with my friends at Simple K-12. The webinar is on Common Core Apps for Reading and Math. Later on tonight, I will share two apps that are available on Android and IOS devices that can help teachers implement standards. If you are a member of Simple K-12, join me this afternoon at 2:00 Central/3:00 Eastern. Stay tuned to the blog...lots more to share and that's before ISTE. I'm reading Teach Like a Pirate right now, so look for quotes from that as well.

Thank you all for your support on the blog and I hope to finally turn this into a resource for teachers. I just finished my 8th year of teaching. This past year I felt like I learned something new every day(some days more than I could handle). I also feel like I finally have a "teaching philosophy" that I can put into words. I've been reflecting on that the last couple of weeks and looking at why I do what I do. So I may share that in another post as well. If you ever come to a session that I present or a webinar, my goal/outcome is simple. I want you to be able to leave with something you can take back to your classroom and know how you are going to use. Too many times we sit through sessions and learn about a lot of new tools(apps and sites etc.), but it's the application of those tools that enhances learning.

Thanks for reading today! I'll be back later tonight with a recap of the webinar and tomorrow with the first of my top five "go to" tech tools.

In the meantime, my AETC presentation is loaded on my livebinder under the Special Education tab and the links are under the Symbaloo tab. Check it out ;-) Leave a comment or connect with me if you have any questions.

Thank you for making a difference each and every day,

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Conference Season Starts tomorrow

I'm bound for my first conference tomorrow. I have four total this summer along with three more webinars before school starts back July 30th. I hope you will keep a watch on the blog, because yes I am posting more resources! LiveBinder has been updated with some symbaloo links from a couple of webinars I have presented lately for Simple K-12. I have also already uploaded handouts for this week's presentation. I'll post exact links to that when I get home. (Wouldn't want to spoil anything just yet...). Updates are coming to Pinterest as well. I'm in the process of doing even more organization. (It's sad when I can't find what I need on my own board).

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL summer!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

To the teacher down the hall

**I know it's been a while since I posted something and I will catch this one up soon. Here's a post for Teacher Appreciation Week.

I don't know about you, but this year has taken its toll on me. I have never been more ready to quit or run for something else. However defeat is not in my vocabulary so for now I press on. I woke up with this on my heart. It's Teacher Appreciation Week and my  heart was burdened for those who may be in the same boat I have found myself in many times. Sometimes all you want to hear is thank you. I'm going to be honest and open for a minute. It's hard not to let the green eyed monster rear his head when you see other teachers being appreciated when you never even hear thank you. All teachers matter and all teachers make a difference. So teacher down the hall or across the building, this is for you.

Dear teacher down the hall,
I saw you just the other day, but I'm not sure you saw me. You were headed down the hall with your kids lined one, two, three. You had papers in your hand and a look on your face. I stopped and said a prayer for God to give you grace. I asked Him to give you something that day that would make you smile, because I could tell you had gone the extra mile. In August they came to you as seeds still in the package, but now it's May the blooms have started to show. They all have a different color and no two look alike, but that's okay because you have found them precious in your sight. You saw them just as seeds and started to water and feed. Now they are starting to bloom all because of you. Those flowers in turn one day will plant seeds all their own. Your garden is just now starting to grow. You matter each and every day, just by showing others the way.
Teacher across the school

Teachers reading this....Thank you! I know the road isn't easy and most days we feel like giving up. To borrow words from Dr. Seuss, Rest if you must but don't you quit! Summer is coming. I pray you all have a chance to be appreciated this week and know that you are making a difference. If you haven't heard it yet then let me say it...thank you! Your students are better for you being their teacher. You have touched their lives in ways you may not even realize.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rigor and Special Needs Students

Reading this for an upcoming webinar and presentation....

This book is a short read and FULL of information. So far it has been practical and easy to apply. Black line masters are included so that the strategies shared can be implemented in the classroom. As I work on the presentation, I'm also working on a couple of tools that can be used with the strategies to increase rigor with special needs students. The two I'm focusing on right now are Padlet and Skitch, so stay tuned! 

Quotes from the book thus far: 
  • "Having high expectations starts with the recognition that every student possesses the potential to succeed at his or her individual level. " 
  • "Consider rewards from the students' points of view. Some students respond to public praise; others prefer to be rewarded privately." 
  • " Instead of running to the rescue of students who can succeed without us or even refusing to help such students, it is important to find ways to teach students to gain independence in their problem solving." 
Stay tuned! More to come I promise ;-)
Don't forget to check out my LiveBinder this week. I'm posting more resources. 

Have questions or need something! Leave a comment, I will reply and connect back with you. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Always a learner.......

I'll admit....I've been in a teaching slump lately. I don't know what exactly started it, even though I can kind of guess when it started. From what I can tell on social media and just talking with other teachers, there has been a lot of the slump going around. It is so hard as teachers to keep going at times because we give so much of ourselves throughout the day. We pour everything we have into our students until we literally have nothing left to give. Most weeks we tend to run low on Wednesday or Thursday, but at times Monday can drain all that we have. I'm a special education teacher. With that being said, sometimes it is harder for us to keep going. We may give all we have just on Monday due to the needs of our students and the demands put on by federal./state guidelines. One thing I have found that lights my fire again or at least makes me smile is learning. I love reading professional literature that others have recommended. I love connecting with teachers on social media and gaining new ideas. I love connecting with others and developing my PLN (Professional Learning Network). Today was a day of that type of learning. If you have never been to an EdCamp I highly recommend it. EdCamp is a laid back conference where teachers get together and share what they want to. They connect with others on social media and find ways to enhance their own professional growth.  Once I find a few minutes to play with what I learned today, I will be sharing. Until then, find an EdCamp close to you and make plans to attend! I promise you will not be disappointed. As teachers, we learn every day. We learn by what we say and do. We learn by the content we teach. We also learn by listening and researching new ideas and a better way to do things. We chose teaching because we love learning. It may be a job during the day, but the learning never stops.

Until next time

Sharing a little about Simple K-12 today at EdCamp. I love this site! It makes professional development rewindable and has expanded my PLN to so many places. Blessed to present and share with others through this resource as well. If you have any questions about it, leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Missing in Action....

Since I last posted I have changed jobs and moved classrooms all while celebrating two major holidays and fighting off more than one sinus thing. With that being said, I'm back!!! I have a stack of books I'm reading that I will blog and share about soon. I also have some new presentations for Simple K-12 in the works that I will share on here along with just some tips and tricks of integrating Common Core standards into the classroom using technology. I will also be adding some more about how to use technology to meet the needs of exceptional learners. So stay tuned, I know I've said it before, but 2014 has a lot in store.

I have moved all of my handouts that were previously on my school site to my Tech Treasure livebinder. The first two tabs for the live binder are the link to this blog and my Simple K-12 link.

Check it out here:
TechTreasures Live Binder (

Follow me on Twitter, I'm going to EdCampMadisonAL tomorrow and will be sure to share a lot of new things throughout the day. @mnmann

Thank you to those that read the blog and allow me to share everything I've learned. I appreciate you listening and reading more than you know!

Make a Difference in 2014!