Posted in Lesson plan component, professional development, teaching, Tech-ventures

Adobe Spark Video Tutorial

Last week, after making and sharing two digital stories, I received many compliments on my video making skills. I feel like a bit of a cheater, though, because it was actually extremely easy. In fact, this week, I’ve created a quick tutorial on how to use Adobe Spark Videos to create a video as beautiful as mine! I have to admit… the tutorial took more skill to create than the digital stories did!

I learned many valuable lessons while making this tutorial:

First and foremost, I gained an appreciation for all those people who have made tutorials that I have watched a long the way. I used to believe that a 2-minute video was “short”. HA! Now, I know that every minute of video is at least an hour, usually 2 or 3 hours, of planning, recording and editing. I’m sure that people who have honed their craft over time can shave some time off of this, but for us beginners, it is hard work!

Next, I feel so proud of what I have done. This feeling of wanting to shout about my learning from the rooftops (or blog posts…) is a feeling I want my students to have every time they complete a task for me. You know why? Because this will not be the last tutorial I ever make. I had fun. I want to do it again. Oddly, the same thing happened with my digital story. I had so much fun that I made TWO!

Lastly, I learned that in the age of technology, it is unlikely that I will find one tool that will do everything I need it to do. For this project, I used 3 different products and I will share it on 3 different websites, not including Creative Commons, which I used to license the video. In today’s world, we need many different tools working together to accomplish the tasks ahead.

Please watch the tutorial and let me know what you think! 


Posted in Lesson plan component, professional development, teaching, Tech-ventures

Digital Story-telling

Wow. This week has been a journey for me in a number of ways. First, I finished off my 3rd school year at CHS and moved out of my classroom as my family will be making a big move to the Texas Panhandle this summer. This last week was extra bittersweet as I prepared to leave my classroom, my students and my sweet colleagues.

Not only has this transition been a journey, but I have also been on an educational journey working toward my Master’s in Education Technology Leadership from Lamar University. This week our topic has been digital story-telling.

To be honest, I started this week of classwork with excitement. I have had my students use digital storytelling in a number of ways. I have encouraged other teachers to do the same, but there is something cathartic about getting to tell my own story.

Our class read and watched work from  and Joe Lambert, who works at Story Center. Separately, I have also fallen in love with NPR’s Story Corps project as well.

In our weekly web conference, our course professor encouraged us to branch out and use tools that are new to us. I have been using iMovie for about the last 2 years (thanks to @mradkins), and it has become my “go to” movie-making product for educational purposes… heck, I even taught my husband how to use it to make videos for our church on Sundays! This week, I decided to explore a tool that I was introduced to this February at the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin: Spark Video, which is an Adobe product.

See my Digital Story below: 

I have to admit that this was not only fun for me, it was also a creative outlet. I am a writer. I always have been, and I’d like to think that I always will be. However, for the last 5 years, I’ve also been a Wife, a Mother, an Educator, and an extra busy person all around. This gave me a chance to focus on a couple of things I’ve written in the past (the script from this came from my personal blog post “Ten Years and a Yellow Butterfly”) and deeply process them in a way that I’ve had a tendency to overlook in the last several years.

You see, I’d like to believe that education is meant to be a journey. This week of learning for me has reaffirmed the deeply held convictions and passions within me about who I am as an educator and how I hope to be everyday in my classroom.

Enjoy, CL

p.s. I got a little giddy over this project and actually did a second video as well… Here it is:


Posted in Google, professional development

#AllTheGoogles Part 5: Google Forms

form pic

Google forms are a quick and easy way to gather information. They can be used to collect data in a number of different ways:

  • multiple choice
  • check boxes (select multiple)
  • short answer
  • short field (for a name, or similar info) and more!

In teaching, these forms can be created, and the link can be sent to students via Google Classroom, remind, email, edmodo or simple posted in the classroom for students to access. Once they do, the data can be used for many purposes and save the teacher time. Some examples:

  1. Instead of the beginning of the year “questionnaire”, create a google form to collect this information. For me, the paper forms just sit in my filing cabinet and never get sorted through. This way, you can access the results in a Google Sheet (more on this in a bit…) and manipulate or view the date there.
  2. Give a quick poll or check for understanding as bell work or as the ticket out the door. The data will be quickly collected and provide you a snapshot of what students think or know about a topic.
  3. Give a survey to project department data. As a Spanish teacher and department chair, our department is constantly trying to find ways to encourage participation beyond the second year of Spanish. We used Google docs to create a survey of Spanish 1 and 2 students from every section to find out their plans and interests related to continuing in the program. We are using that data to plan for next year!
  4. Quizzes/ Tests. There is a grand debate on whether Google Forms can be used for graded work. I’m not sure where I fall on the spectrum, but know that the option is there. There are many sources online with step-by-step details for creating quizzes that can be graded by you or even be self-graded if you wish.

Now, why is Google forms so awesome??!?!? Well! The results from Forms automatically populate in a Google sheet. They are organized by the person responding and the question they respond to. You will have a quick view of: who participated, when, which questions they answered and what their answers were. You can then use this to create a quick chart, organize the responses or use them for grades. 

Are you planning to explore forms? Try this practice form… now! 

And view the automatically created Google Sheet with results!

What do you think? Please leave a comment below! 


Posted in professional development, Uncategorized

Something New

(This is just a Google Series intermission! Have no fear!)

In groups, I see kids gravitate towards what they know. They choose the task they are most suited to do. They regurgitate the knowledge they already firmly held. 

That isn’t learning. And, while they may be very good at it… it isn’t helping them get the most out of the experience.

This is the concept behind Cooperative Learning. In Group Work, students choose a task and complete it with the group. In Cooperative Learning… Students are assigned roles that contribute to the learning of the whole. Cooperative Learning works best when it is used often. Sometimes students will choose the role they know they are good at… other times, they teacher will assign the a role which will force them to grow. 

This has been my thought process as I debate my choices for my masters degree. I have narrowed it down to two choices (well, two for this masters, anyway). The programs I am choosing between are either: something that I know well, that will get me where I want to go (aka, the less challenging route) vs. something I don’t know as well, that will also get me where I want to go. (aka, the scarier, more challenging route.)

I’m excited to say, that as a (more) mature learner, I understand that I’ll grow more in the program full of new topics for me to study. It will be a different road, a more challenging one, but it will be worth it.

These are the moments I look for in my students. I alternate between them choosing roles and me assigning them… at some point, some of them decide to jump in and try something new, all on their own. When I recognize this, my heart smiles.

Today my heart is smiling at the re-realized remembrance that teachers are learners too. 

What do you still want to learn? Please share it with me! 


Posted in Google, professional development, teaching

Google Series Part 4: Google Drive

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is essentially a cloud service by Google. Using Drive means that your files are accessible to you from any device that has internet connection. 

Why is Drive better than other cloud services, or better than my flash drive… or better than my hard drive?

Haha, I’m glad you asked! I have iCloud on my iPhone… but it only comes with 5GB of storage–which seems like a lot… until they ask you to pay for more. If a person has a gmail… they get 30gb free! If you have an educational Google account (as I do, since my district has “Gone Google”) then you have UNLIMITED drive storage. 

I signed up for Google Drive over the summer, in one of the very first google trainings that our new district Director of Digital Learning was hosting. Since then, I have been trying to convince the world of its awesomeness. Finally, the Digital Learning Committee (which I chair) recommended to the campus that on our next staff development day, all teachers be required to attend a training and sign up.

…Shortly after that, I ran into one of my fellow Spanish teachers, sitting at her desk. She was looking at her Drive in awe. She shared with me the many ways Drive was going to make her life easier. Here is a picture of her Desktop and her Desktop (ha, see what I did there?)photo 2

photo 1




Drive has been my Go-to and saving grace this year. I am a frazzled lady, and I often start working on a task at home and get to school, only to realize the file I need is on my home computer. Drive has changed my productivity, for the better. A teacher’s productivity is directly related to student outcomes. In a teacher’s world, every second counts. If I can save some time, that is time I can be interacting with kids, providing feedback and growing relationships. 

Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Google Drive: 

  • Google Drive works best when you check the box that allows any file to be converted into a Google file. This means that if you upload a “Word” document… you’ll be able to open it, even on a computer that doesn’t have Word. Most of your formatting will be the same. Every now and then, something changes… but you can always convert the file back!
  • Google Drive has a Google search bar… this is amazing! You can search for the title of the file or any word that might be in the file. This is much easier than the process to do the same thing on a normal computer… and even better, you can do this from ANY computer with internet access (or device!)
  • Google Drive allows you to seamlessly share files with contacts. We’ll get into this more in the next post but: you can share items with links through email, invite others to edit your files, push files to the web as individual webpages with links and more!
  • Drive has an intuitive “incoming” folder that keeps a list of any files shared with you, almost like an “inbox”.
  • As mentioned in my previous post about Google Classroom, Classroom actually creates and manages assignment folders and files in your Drive. When a student “submits” the assignment, it magically appears in your folder!
  • Any file can be added to drive. I have uploaded tons of videos and sound files that I use for listening assignments in my Spanish classes, and Google opens them with the web-based Google Play. This is amazing, since teachers often have to fight with quicktime and windows based systems that may not agree in file type.

The best part about this tool, for me, is that it’s free. Most of the things I can think of that would save me some time or chaos… cost too much money. Everyone knows teachers only spend money on Bills, Students, Their kids or their “other kids”… rarely on something that is just for the purposes of making their lives better.

Are you using Drive? How has it changed your world? Leave a comment 🙂


Missed part of this series? Get caught up!

Part 1: Google Voice
Part 2: Google Voice (cont.)
Part 3: Google Classroom
Posted in Google, professional development, teaching, Uncategorized

Google Series Part 3: Google Classroom

I can only compare what I know. I know that about 2 years ago, I was introduced to the world of Flipped learning, and as a teacher who had interned with Florida Virtual School, the idea of putting part of my teaching life online appealed to me.

Think about it… Students are online anyway. Most of the time, they really don’t mind adding a school website to the list. They end up doing what they do on all the websites… in fact, they probably are doing what you did to get here. They scroll; they get lost; they read mindlessly; they click on links and learn stuff unintentionally. Its almost osmosis. 

Our current Academic Dean and a team of others in our district introduced me to Edmodo. I’m an all or nothing person (for better or worse!) and a dove right in. Within a few weeks, all of my classes were signed up, students were completing assignments, and we were rolling. I flipped some, but for me, the value of the online medium was the potential for the increase in the language production. 

In a matter of weeks, my students were:

  • Commenting on things in Spanish.
  • Presenting stuff to me (writings AND videos) in Spanish
  • Communicating with me openly about their grades, questions, concerns
  • Sharing relevant content.
  • Making up absent work
  • Completing other assignments, notes and more on Edmodo!

Believe it or not, I didn’t have the commonly feared “inappropriate” posts, even with nearly 200 teenagers 14-19 years old enrolled! In fact, I even conducted part of my maternity leave last year on Edmodo.

But… I did have these problems:

  • Constant log in issues. (Thankfully, on edmodo, teachers can reset student passwords, that is a huge plus!)
  • Problems with the “feed”. Edmodo is modeled after a social network style, and the feed brings up the most popular “posts” in their “network” or classes… meaning that since some students didn’t actually click on my class, they missed out on important posts.
  • A confusing interface… for teachers AND for students.

Of course, neither of these lists is exhaustive. Edmodo has served me well, and my students are still currently enrolled… but over the past few months, we’ve transitioned away to the sleeker, simpler: Google Classroom. 

Google Classroom Vs. Edmodo

Google classroom is accessed by students through their own Gmail accounts, or through school created ones, if you school has “gone Google” (as ours has). This means, students will have to set and reset their own passwords… BUT since they probably already have gmail accounts, they likely already actually know their passwords…. unlike the password for the random educational thing they were forced to sign up for….

It is also a simplified version of blackboard, essentially. Instead of a lame (sorry, Edmodo) version of Facebook, the interface actually mirrors a system they will hopefully be using in a few short years, if we do our jobs and prepare them for college.

The feed in each “classroom” is sequential, meaning the most recent posts appear at the top, instead of the most popular.

Students can turn in assignments, teachers can edit those assignments, and return them with comments. Its amazing. Providing feedback is at the core of constant improvement; Google Classroom make it easy.

The most amazing  part of Google Classroom, for me, is its integration into the rest of the Google world. For instance:

  • Students can attach content from Google docs/ Google Drive directly to their assignments.
  • Assignments are automatically  organized into folders in my google drive by class period.
  • Students log in with Gmail
  • and more!

Although some would complain that the tools Edmodo offers (such as Snapshot, quiz making, and the Apps) aren’t available in Google, I’m glad. In fact, this is part of what contributes to the simplicity of the tool… which directly contributes to my student’s success. AND I am simplifying as a result. For instance, I have been using tools like Kahoot or Google Forms instead  of quizzes by edmodo. Additionally, as a language teacher, production really is my ultimate goal, and encouraging interaction instead of participation in automatically graded quizzes, really is more inline with my goals.

Are you using Classroom? What are your thoughts? 


In case you missed Parts 1 & 2:

Part 1

Part 2

Also, check me out on Tpt! 



Posted in Google, professional development, teaching

Google Voice Part 2: In Any classroom

Google Voice: In Any Classroom


Ah, the dreaded exit ticket. 

Really, it sounds like such a great idea at first. Hold the kids accountable. Use those last few minutes of class productively. Get a quick snapshot of student understanding. Have something quick to grade for a daily grade. Have kids actually apply the standard you just covered.

Win-win, right???

Ha. Wrong.  You see, first you have to cut out all those exit tickets. Pass them out. They have to do them. <–All of that is the easy part. People suggest these exit tickets as a regular part of the routine. Several times a week or even every day. The only problem is: there are some things that paper clips can’t fix. i.e.: my desk. See sample below.


You see, for teachers like me, who are moms and wives and department chairs and, you know, 12 other responsibilities to mention, we don’t have time for that. I don’t need another tiny slip of paper (or stack of them) to try to remember not to lose.

How can Google Voice help?

With Google Voice, you get a phone number. Not only can students leave you a voice message (as mentioned in Part 1 of this series), but they can also text the phone number as well! The messages collect in your Google Voice account, and are also sent to your email account.

This is life changing. 

At the end of class, kids put their things away, and I ask them a short question. For me, usually, this is a short production task (in Spanish), perhaps, a question to answer or a topic to write about. Students text the phone number and the assignment comes to my email.

Why is this so awesome?

  • Sometimes kids need more time to finish than time allows. They can take the cell phone with them.
  • You can provide feedback! Text back!
    • Are you worried about the privacy implications of that? Well, worry a little less. Texting through Google Voice creates a paper trail. All messages to and from the account are saved. Its the ultimate teacher “CYA”.
  • Students without phones can still complete the assignment on a sticky note, or from the phone of a friend.
  • It eliminates (or nearly does) the tiny stacks of paper ravaging your desk.

Other ideas: I haven’t tried but really want to!

  • Give this phone number to parents instead of your regular cell phone number. Keep the conversation going via text.
  • Encourage kids to text questions about homework, projects and more.
  • Create lists in Google voice to text extra credit opportunities, links to important info and more.

Have any ideas yet??? Comment below! 


Posted in Google, homework, professional development

Google Voice: Part 1- In The Language Classroom

Google voice has rocked my world this year. I had previously wanted to see what I could use Google Voice for, but, like most teachers, I didn’t have time for another “tool” to add to my list and make my life harder. After attending the ACTFL Convention this year, however, my perspective changed.

I sat in on a session by one of the ACTFL teachers of the year, Carrie Toth, who runs as she talked about different way she has added authentic assessment to her classes. She shared that when students have projects that many classes traditionally “present” (aka: waste 3 days of class time presenting), she instead uses Google Voice. In a room so crowded with people that I was in a corner on the floor, here I sat, suddenly engaged beyond measure. This woman had the answers to all my problems.

Any student who has ever sat in my classroom knows 2 things (ok, hopefully more than 2 things…)

  1. Mrs. Wilson doesn’t waste time.
  2. Everything we do has a purpose.

I literally refuse to waste even a second. And, if a student asks me “why” I usually have a dissertation like response of my thought process behind the request.

Presentations had always been an irritation of mine. They worked so hard… shouldn’t they present it? To be honest… these presentations aren’t going to be that great. Who listens to them anyway??? The class can’t hold their attention span long enough to hear more than one. UGH now we are a week behind 😦 

Instead, Carrie explains, that she has students call and leave their presentations using Google Voice. Genius. Students are then able to:

  • Speak with a lower affective filter.
  • Practice several times before calling.
  • Call again to record a better version.
  • Not waste 3 class days listening to their Spanish 1 classmates repeat all 15 words they know (ahem, I mean…. um… sorry!)

I was anxious to try this, and I was amazed at the results. My students did fantastically. They even worked harder on their accents, because they felt that me having a voicemail was more “permanent”.

Tips and Ideas: 

  1. Carrie suggested using some of the time that would have been spent on presentations to do a “museum” style walkabout, encouraging students to interact in the TL instead (Interpersonal).
  2. Use Google Voice for AP level classes to record their cultural comparisons.
  3. Google Voice voicemails cut off at 3 minutes. When students don’t have much dead space… that is actually quite a lot of time! But, be careful about assigning something that can’t be recorded in the time limit. For example, during their celebrity family presentations, I graded their project as a written piece, but asked students only to share the 5 most interesting things via voicemail.
  4. You can set up Google Voice to ring to a phone… but since the main use for it is voicemail (for a teacher), I recommend setting it to “Do Not Disturb”, so that it will automatically record voicemails.
  5. In your voicemail message, remind students to leave their name…haha, seems obvious, but you are a teacher, so you understand.
  6. Space your assignments out, so that your voicemail box isn’t clogged with too many assignments at once. One week I gave an assignment to Spanish 1. Once those voicemails had been graded, I assigned a Voice assignment to Spanish 3. A few late Spanish 1 assignments got mixed in, and there was a delay in grading them.

Have any ideas yet? 




Posted in Google, professional development, teaching


Google owns the interwebs.


This was my revelation about 2 years ago when I went to sign up for gmail, and I found that Google already knew my email address. It was a funny “conspiracy” theory then as I laughed it off…but since then I’ve discovered the world of Google–and more than just a search engine or email platform… Google is a set of tools beyond what I could have ever imagined. This year, Google has changed my classroom for the better.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be detailing my Google adventure from the perspective of a language teacher, but so much of what I’ve found has implications for any classroom. This summer, I’m even planning to get Google Certified!

Check back to see my posts on:

  • Google Voice
  • Google Classroom
  • Google Drive / Docs/ Slides
  • Google Forms
  • YouTube
  • Picasa
  • Google Play

See you soon!

How are you using Google? Tell me below!


Posted in professional development

Catching up– Reflecting on my practicum with FLVS

In the Spring of 2011 I was able to participate in a pilot program where I could complete part of my practicum through Florida Virtual School and the other part in the traditional classroom. The reality of education today is that online education is becoming a more and more popular option for students for a variety of reasons. Schools are finding that offering online classes of less popular sections is more cost effective. In addition the online environment is an extremely effective option for students who can succeed in a less traditional environment.

During my time working with a middle school beginning Spanish class, I worked with a student who was taking the class from Italy because their father was there with the military. I met FLVS teachers who had worked with students online to help them achieve their high school diplomas from home while dealing with terminal illnesses. I also found that for some students with social disorders, FLVS was an option that allowed them to be successful as well.

I learned so much from my time with FLVS–and in particular, two incredibly valuable concepts. First, I was able to witness first hand how a system of constant communication between the student, teacher, and the family create success and accountability for all parties involved. FLVS has policies and standards in place that require documented communications between the three parties involved. Unlike in the traditional classroom, almost every communication is personally addressed to the student which helps establish personal rapport and a real relationship. The teacher communicates with each parent regularly, and in fact, if the teacher does not contact the parent after a certain amount of time, the student is prevented from continuing in the course. This system holds students accountable to their parents and their teachers; it holds the parents accountable to the teacher and the student; and it holds the teacher accountable to the parents and the students.

Secondly, I learned how to provide effective, encouraging feedback to students. I cannot emphasize how monumental this learning was for me. College teaches theory, but this experience gave me practice. I learned that students need to know: 1.) What they did well, and 2.) How they can improve. Believe me, sometimes its hard to tell a student who scored a 0/20 what they did well, but it forced me to take a look at the student’s thinking process and realize, “Ok. They are getting the first step of this, but they need to practice of this…”. Feedback is more than a Star or a Stamp or an X.  Feedback should build students up and help them grow–no matter their ability level. Even an A student has room to improve.

I had a wonderful experience with FLVS and it helped me develop a new appreciation for teaching in the online environment. The burning question is: What do I like better: teaching online or teaching in the classroom? Honestly, it is hard to say. In fact, it is impossible to say. I love FLVS for the relationships it helps build and the success it allows non-traditional students to have. Nothing can replace the feeling to helping a student who needs a different type of environment succeed. On the other hand, my greatest joys in my college career and in my internship have been: 1.) developing my own lessons and curriculum (which is something FLVS teachers do not do) and 2.) personally and physically teaching. I love that tired feeling I have at the end of the day from the mental, emotional and physical involvement of teaching. As I have heard it said, “It is the hardest job I have ever wanted to go back to.”

As I said, it is tough to say which I enjoy more. I feel like there is a real place in education for both of these, and there is a place for me in either one of these environments.