Day One at #TCEATOTS

I must admit that it has been a rocky start to day one of TCEA's second annual Tots and Technology Conference here in Galveston. I presented Real People Can Podcast last year and had to present with no Internet access because there wasn't enough "juice" for the conference. (Can you say wing it?!) I thought SURELY this year those issues would be resolved - especially since the conference is in the SAME PLACE!

But no. Same place. Same issues. Luckily my dear friend Amy Mayer (@friedtechnology) went before me and I watched her handle the session with grace and humor. I tried to follow her lead when I presented Go LOCO with EDMODO! Here are my other fellow presenters who had to punt and taught me grace under fire as well as shared some great techno tips and tools!

Quadblogging and Digital Diaries

The first session I attended was Trisha Goins from CCISD. This spitfire of a woman shared some great resources and best practices for blogging with your class. (and she did it mostly without Internet access!)

The first concept she discussed is QuadBlogging. This idea, developed by David Mitchell, partners your class blog with 3 other class blogs across the world (hence the "quad"). Each school is the "focus school" for a week over a period of 4 weeks. What this means is that you visit the "focus" blog for the week and post meaningful comments, interact with that school, and leave your digital footprint on that blog. This is a great way to GET KIDS WRITING! Give them an audience - a GLOBAL audience! (What a great way to cover the TEKS - how about global learning and elapsed time?!) This is also an excellent opportunity for you to teach your students about netiquette and digital citizenship. Trisha shares this great link for teaching your kids how to post quality comments.  (Check out Never Seconds, too - Trisha said her kids loved taking pictures of their food to share with their new world-wide friends!)

Another fabulous concept she shared was the idea of letting students create digital diaries. She created another blog to house her kids’ writing. She let each child login to the blog and post their own personal writing and had them tag the post with their name. GENIUS! Then she was able to invite parents (and even administrators!) to comment on the students’ writing. Not only do the kids now have a meaningful audience, they have feedback from that audience!  LOVE.  THIS!  Trisha also mentioned the 100 Word Challenge and the 5 Sentence Challenge - check them out!

Video Grading and Twitter for Teachers

My hero and friend, Amy Mayer, presented two other sessions I attended.  The first was on Video Grading, which is an amazing and GENIUS concept!  Do you hate to grade?!  Do you feel like the written comments you make are impersonal and ignored by your students?!  You should TOTALLY try video grading - you can record personal messages (in your voice!) and make suggestions on student work while you're in your PJs at home!  The idea is that you would have students submit their work using Google Docs and then share their submission folder with you.  You can then access all of their work at any time and then use a screen-casting service, like Jing, to record a video for each student as you talk about their work.  You can pause the recording, navigate to a new part of their submission, and then resume your "video grading" session.  Upload that video to a password protected folder in screencast, share it with the student (along with the folder password) and voila!  You're done!

Amy also did a session on Twitter for Teachers.  If you aren't using Twitter - YOU SHOULD BE!  It really is a teacher's best tool.  Dr. Howie DiBlasi sold me at TCEA this year and Amy really summed it up today.  Twitter is the best way to find relevant information for your field, stay on top of the trending topics for education and connect with other educators who have valuable information to share!  You can check out my Twitter training materials here.  :)

Dots, Dots, Dots

The last session I attended was presented by Jennifer Hester.  She shared how kindergarten students in her district used iPad drawing apps to create original dot art after reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds.  You can also find more information at The Dot Project - check out the precious YouTube video!  It will definitely inspire you to do this with your kids!  Jennifer shared a cool low-tech idea for transporting multiple iPads around your campus, too - use a dish drying rack.  GENIUS!  (have I said that enough in this post?!)

I am looking forward to day two of Tots and am glad to have presenting behind me so I can just relax and enjoy!  Check back tomorrow to see what sessions I attended and what I learned!!  Oh, and a BIG THANK YOU to all who attended my sesh and were sweet and patient despite the connectivity issues!


  1. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me!! I thought you were in Galveston just for fun -- but wait -- you love your job, so I'm sure it is fun! Enjoy the rest of your conference.


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