Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Monday, October 27, 2014

10--27-14 EdCamp Mount Vernon, Maiden Voyage

We did it!  EdCampMount Vernon is in the books!

 Music created by our EdCamp Sponsor Flocabulary

I thought about the line from Field of Dreams, "If we build it, they will come."  In the case of EdCamp, the line could be "If they come, it will be built".  Since its inception back in the Spring we have worked hard to learn all that we could about the EdCamp model and encourage teachers who have not experienced this model to give it a try. Our biggest concern and work had to do with convincing people to come, not with the organization of the event itself.

So, after many sleepless nights and doubts that anyone would actually come on Saturday to try a "new" type of PD,  I was excited to see the brave and innovative teachers come through the doors of Mount Vernon High School ready and willing to try something new.  And boy did these teachers step up to the plate and make this a great day of learning, sharing and collaboration!

During the kick off to the event, I asked teachers to share what they wanted to learn during the day.  Teachers immediately started sharing ideas:  writing strategies, global collaboration, hi cap strategies, making coding real, photo sharing, writing strategies, coaching strategies and even ROBOTS!  Before the kick off, I had the opportunity to visit with many of the participants, and as the teachers started sharing what they wanted to learn, I felt like a matchmaker, getting excited about the connections I knew would happen that day.  I got even giddier when I asked the next question.  "What would you be willing to share?"  Hands popped up right away. Lots of great ideas and topics, many fitting right in with the learning that people had shared earlier.  How exciting!

Next, I showed everyone an empty schedule board with spots for 20 sessions throughout the day.  Immediately, teachers went to work adding sessions to the board.  In no time, the board was complete and we were ready to roll.

The rest of the day was filled with great connections, and sharing resources.  We shared our learning on a collaborative Google Doc.  Check out all the sessions and the notes here.  There were sessions on coaching, Special Ed, getting students moving during class, video editing, digital story telling, ROBOTS,  coding, physical computing, the writing process, and more.  With teachers from 7 districts coming from as far away as Olympia there were many great connections made.

By the end of the day, everyone was asking when the next EdCamp Mount Vernon would be.  As we reflected on the day, we all were mulling over the possibilities for using this model in other ways including Staff meetings, district PD, even in our own classrooms. The folks who had joined us from Lake Stevens left ready to put a date on the calendar in February to host their own event and invite all of us.

I think that the model worked so well, because everyone who was at the event wanted to be there and came ready to learn and share.  How very exciting.

Even though I had hoped that hundreds would show up and remain a little disappointed that more teachers from the Mount Vernon School District didn't participate, The number of people who did attend seemed to be the perfect amount for a group of newbies trying out a new and different idea.  I know that after the teachers who participated today return and share with others about EdCamp, we will have many more in attendance the next time and even more learning and sharing.

I am so thankful for all the help from our EdCamp Mount Vernon Team made up of our Digital Literacy Coaches, our Teaching and Learning Team and our Tech Department.  Their hard work and support made this day possible.

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities:

November 15, Seattle Pacific University

E-ARTC Technology and Diversity Speaker Event October 29 WWU and NCTA (Mount Vernon)

Digital Literacy Workshop Calendar: Multiple events throughout the year.  Hangouts on Air open to all who want to join or watch the archives

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

E-ARTC Technology and Diversity Speaker Event

·         To RSVP (and provide us with an estimated # of attendees), click this link ASAP to Google forms and  indicate all sessions you plan to attend
Top of Form
·         For Driving Directions, as needed:
o    (a.m.) To WWU and Parking Office, in Bellingham
o    (p.m.) To NCTA in Mt. Vernon – driving directions are on the attached NCTA Parking Permit Doc
·         For Free Parking:
§  (a.m.) at WWU - drive to the Parking Office and ask for a free permit for this event
§  (p.m.) at NCTA – click on the attached ‘NCTA Parking Permit’ doc to print a free pass for your car
·         For Clock Hours (thanks to SETC), you must attend a minimum of 3 hrs. Go to  to create an account/register for clock hour session #108031. Open the 2 attached Clock Hour form docs for more details

·         For Questions, contact
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10-07-14 Aprendiendo muchos idiomas en Madison

Googling 5th Graders in the Madison Lab
Today I dropped in to learn at Madison Elementary.  Madison is our Dual Language school.  (Spanish and English).  I am sorry to say that after years of being away from a sustained need and opportunity to speak Spanish, I am getting pretty rusty.  Time for me to change that.  I do great at the listening and understanding piece, but completely freeze when I think of teaching in Spanish.  Something for me to work on for sure. My belief is that every child should have the opportunity to learn and be fluent in at least two languages in Elementary School.  I am thankful that we have this initiative in our district and that it continues to grow.   Sra. Romero invited me to "speak Google" with some of her 3rd grade students while she worked with another group.  It was fun to see how fluent these students already are with logging in and using their Google Drive even though they were just introduced to this in the lab last week by the amazing Tech Specialist Melissa McPhaden.
BrainPop in Spanish
 I had fun seeing what they were able to do and giving them a few new tips.  Their charge was then to teach the other group what they had learned.  Not only are students learning Spanish, English and Google at Madison, thanks to the innovative work of their Library Media Specialist, Sharon Sackett, working with Melissa McPhaden and Leslie Bunzel, the students are also learning the language of coding. Starting in Kindergarten using an iPad app called Kodable, all the way up to 5th grade where students are creating in Scratch.  Ms. Sackett has the opportunity to see students multiple times a week, so she is going beyond the normal library lessons and doing a variety of STEM activities including Lego Construction and Coding.  She is making connections to Common Core, Tech and Next Generation Science Standards as she encourages problem solving, planning, communication and collaboration.
Fun bulletin board encouraging positive social skills
Mr. Hoare had invited me in to see the 4th graders roller skating.  He told me that there would be plenty of "uploading" and "downloading" as the kids learned a new skill.  Unfortunately, my time didn't work out to get to see that.  It was fun to get to meet a couple of the new teachers.  I look forward to getting to know and work with each of them.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

10-02-14 Connected Educator

Today I got the green light to open up our EdCamp Mount Vernon to everyone, not just our School District.  This is exciting because it will give us the opportunity to hear many voices and get great ideas from many different perspectives.  So what did I do to start getting the word out?  I emailed our regional list serve and asked my colleagues in other area districts to spread the word. I jumped on Twitter and shared out to my PLN (Professional Learning Network) of over 1000 followers and provided a link to our website and asked them to spread the word,  I went to our Facebook Page and shared the link there.  I added a Public Event on my Google + Page.  I went to my Google Drive and share the information with a group of Tech TOSAs I collaborate with via Google Docs.  That sounds like a lot of work, but in reality, it only took a few minutes and now the ball is rolling.  People who connect to my PLN with any of these tools will then be able to share with their own personal PLNs. This is what Connected Educators do.
Krissy Venosdale

 I've often heard from others that they just don't have time to build a Professional Learning Network.  I would say, I don't have time not to have a Professional Learning Network.  Having access to smart and talented educators from all over the world who will answer questions, brainstorm ideas and even try things out with me really makes a world of differences and has provided me with the most powerful professional development opportunities that I have ever had.  My thinking is stretched. My knowledge is expanded.  My library of resources grows exponentially.  I am inspired.  I am encouraged and I am supported.  I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with the fact that there is one of me in my position in a district of 6000 or so.  But then I remember that I am not alone.  At my fingertips, I have access to a great cloud of inspiration, ideas and support for what I do. I remember when Twitter was fairly new, but already a main source of my information and connections as an educator, I would have other teachers come to me and ask me if I could ask "my people" about a resource, idea etc.  Although the teachers weren't yet ready to build their own PLN, they were beginning to realize the power of my PLN. They say that the smartest person in the room is the room.  Well, that is even a more exciting thought when my room is as big as the earth.  There is so much to learn and share and so many people willing to join me in my journey. This is Connected Educator's Month.  And although this is technically about the wealth of online connections available to teachers, I think that EdCamp is a great way to foster this type of connection and sharing.  I'll have to admit, that online, I do a lot more learning/collecting than sharing.  This is true with most of us.  If we are dabbling with the idea of a PLN, we usually start out by finding places and people who share resources.  (Blogs, Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers).  When our Professional Learning Network really takes off though, is when we not only collect from others, but we begin to share our own ideas.  We learn that we have something to say, unique ideas and skills that are worth sharing with others.  This is empowering.  When those ideas stay just within us, they do not have as many opportunities to grow and improve.  Once ideas are shared, they become powerful.  I hope that you will join me in building professional learning network both online and at events like our EdCamp Mount Vernon coming up on October 25.


Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities

Registration is now open! 

October 25, 21014
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Mount Vernon High School
Find out more here... 

Next Google Hangout: Google Docs : 10/06/14
Google Docs Sandbox Sessions: 10/9/14 4pm DO Tech Lab, 1013/14 3pm Mount Baker
Going Google (Secondary): 10/10/14
EdCamp Mount Vernon : 10/25/14 Pin It Now!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10-01-14 Chromebook Lab Pioneers

Mike Medcalf helping change a computer lab into a K classroom.
This week's drop in was to Little Mountain Elementary.  Little Mountain is bursting at the seams currently. They have more kids than classrooms.  This is being remedied by dismantling their computer lab and making that space into a new Kindergarten classroom.  With no physical space for a lab classroom, Yvonne Bowman is taking her classes "on the road".  This brave soul received a cart of Chromebooks this morning, just in time to start working with her first class of students.  She had a great group of 3rd graders in Mrs. Maxwell's class who made the process go well.  Although, the students had been learning their network password, they now needed to learn their Google log-in which added 20 characters to the log-in that they had previously been working on.  (It is now their username plus the email address. ) Mrs. Maxwell, was prepared with student log in information for the various programs that they use already on cards for the kids and the kids knew just what to do.
The first look at the new Chromebooks!
I'd say that this whole scenario is a great example of how we as educators practice flexibility daily. We just do what we need to do to make learning work for our students.  There are still many lessons to learn as Little Mountain pioneers through our first traveling Chromebook lab.  I look forward to learning, problem solving and brainstorming with these educators as we make this new system work in a way that is engaging and effective for our students.

Love the exercise balls for chairs.  I first saw this
when I visited the Googleplex. :) 
Besides it being moving day and new Chromebook Lab day at Little Mountain, it was also picture day.  There seemed to be a hive of activity everywhere I went and teachers were rushing to smile for a picture and get back to their rooms to prepare for the day.  I did get a chance to chat with a few teachers and help answer a few techy questions, but even with not much visiting time, I was able to see a lot of great preparation from teachers and many welcoming smiles for their students as the day began.  I look forward to learning more with Little Mountain teachers this year and getting to know all of the new teachers on board for this great adventure of teaching. Pin It Now!

Monday, September 29, 2014

09-29-14 Yopp!

Photo by Martha Thornburgh (Roswellsgirl)

Sometimes I feel like a voice calling in the wilderness or perhaps a citizen of Whoville making as much noise as I think possible as I try to share with teachers.  Teachers are busy, busy people and it takes a lot for me to break into their world and be heard. My training isn't in marketing, it is in teaching.  Teachers don't often have to market their classes and hope that someone responds. Teachers don't make elaborate plans for classes in which students may or may not show up.  Teachers usually have a captive audience and their planning is based on the audience that is certain. For me it is a shot in the dark and I try every avenue possible and every method I can think of to make my voice heard against the deafening clamor of the daily life of a teacher.  

My charge is to help inspire, encourage, inform and support teachers as they work to integrate technology into teaching in effective and engaging ways.   My plan of action is to try to meet the teachers where they are, share information in the most convenient format for their own particular needs.  To that end, I send emails, create Pinterest Boards, maintain a Facebook Page, author a blog, develop websites, make classroom visits, offer after school classes, and the list goes on and on. And yet, with all of the commotion I make, I am barely heard.  

Why am I sharing this?  Who will even read it?  I am sharing because frankly I am frustrated.  I want to do my job better.  I need suggestions on how to be better heard.  How can I, one person, inspire, encourage, inform and support when no one is even listening? I am not sharing to make people feel guilty for not reading my messages, and attending my trainings.  There are reasons you don't, I get that.  I just have to figure out if what I am currently doing isn't helpful to teachers, what changes I need to make to help you.  

Just in case someone is reading.... here is what I am currently doing to try to promote digital learning.  What suggestions do you have for what I am already doing? What additions do you think I should make?  
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

09-24-14 Learning at Lincoln

Lincoln is celebrating students' success in making great choices.
This morning I had the opportunity to go visit my old stomping grounds of Lincoln Elementary. My goal was to check in with teachers to see how things are going and see how I could support them.  My first stop was Gracie Johnston's 5th grade class.  Gracie attended my trainings this summer and when I walked in the room, she excitedly told me about how she had just shared a Google Doc with her students.  She also showed me a great Google Presentation A-Z Science Book her students had created.  We looked a little at how she can use the comment tools to help her student's edit their writing. Her students are practicing their keyboarding and composing skills by reading and writing about current events using Google Docs. Very exciting!  Kylie, one of Gracie's students (and her daughter) was busy creating on the computer while waiting for class to start.  She had found the app "Floor Planner" in Google Drive (under Create - Connect More Apps).  Kylie had created a whole estate with each room planned out with furniture, carpets, etc.  She had cars in the driveway and a forest to play in.  Amazing creativity and skill.  What a great tool that could be used to explain the scene in a story or plan and measure materials in math.  (Or just practice creativity and problem solving while having fun.)

Thanks Kylie for teaching me something new!
Thanks Kylie for teaching me something new! I also visited with Susan Kruckenberg.  She mentioned that the students were learning about Magnets and Electricity in Science.  I shared with her how I am learning about electrical circuits and computer coding.  We cooked up a plan for me to come in and share my Makey Makey with her students and talk about conductivity.  I can't wait!

In the Library, Rocio Bradley excitedly told me how she is connecting Common Core activities with Technology in the lab and library.  This is a new position for her so she is learning lots.  She was tying different media together to help students have a purpose with their keyboarding and composing on the computer skills.

After school got going, I enjoyed popping into several classes to see their morning routines.  Tammy Moehl's Class sang a great song about Causes and Effects to the tune of the Adams family and Liz Johnson's 3rd graders showed me their problem solving skills as they worked on their morning starting activities using Unifix cubes for manipulatives.

I always come away from visits with teachers and students energized and full of ideas.  Thanks Lincoln for a great visit.  Looking forward to my next visit and exploring electrical circuits and computer science with Mrs. Kruckenberg's class. Pin It Now!

09-23-14 Getting Geeky: Join Us For Geeky Teachers Club Oct. 1

Today I created a drum set with a potted plant, some Scratch code and a Makey Makey.  As I worked through the process, I felt like I was learning a whole other language and indeed I was.  I was learning to code.  I have to say, when I look at circuit boards, resistors, diodes, etc.,  I feel way out of my league of nerdiness. But let me turn my potted plant into a drum set and you have me hooked.

We have several teachers who are very excited about the power of teaching coding, and physical computing to students.  Not only do students who know how to code have great career opportunities in their future, but it also helps them to understand algebraic concepts, sequencing, logic, problem solving and to develop their creativity.

I decided that this is the year that I am going to get beyond my fear of coding, circuits and such and learn how to use these tools so that I can help champion these ideas in our district.  I have purchased an Arduino Kit, a Makey Makey and am going through tutorials for Scratch on  For most of us, this is a very foreign world.  But we are teachers, we love learning and trying new things.

With this in mind, I have scheduled a time for teachers wanting to learn more about coding and physical computing to come together about once a month to play and learn together.  Fortunately, we have some really knowledgeable people in this field right here in our district who are excited about sharing their knowledge with us.  But for the most part, we are all newbies at this and we will be learning together.

I hope that you will take on this challenge and join us in learning at our Geeky Teachers Club: Coding in the Classroom.  Our first session will be at the District Office Tech Lab on Wednesday, October 1.  The lab will be open from 3:00 - 5:00 with the idea that the first hour is more suitable schedule wise for secondary teachers and the second hour are more suitable for elementary teachers but please feel free to come to whichever session fits your needs most.  I plan to bring my potted plant and play the drums.  You can play too.  These sessions and the content are appropriate for all grade levels.  Kindergarteners can learn to code!

I plan to share my progress in this blog throughout the year, so stay tuned and watch as I learn and I hope that you will jump in and learn with me. Plan to come have some geeky fun at our first Geeky Teachers Club next week.

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities

Registration is now open! 

October 25, 21014
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Mount Vernon High School
Find out more here... 

Next Google Hangout: Google Forms : 9/22/14 Archive
Google Forms Sandbox Sessions: 9/29/14 LaVenture or 10/02/14 DO Tech Lab
Geeky Teachers Club: 10/1/14
Going Google (Secondary): 10/10/14
EdCamp Mount Vernon : 10/25/14 Pin It Now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

09-17-14 Dropping in for Inspiration

Rainbow Chute from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 Brian Fuller, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio
This year, I have set up a "drop in" schedule to make sure I am able to regularly get around all the schools to see what is happening and learn how I best can support. This morning I "dropped in" at Jefferson Elementary. I felt a bit awkward at first, because I know that often, people have some sort of an agenda when they are making classroom visits.  But I was just there to see what was happening, let teachers know that I was there to support them and help out when I could.  It turned out to be a great visit.  I got to visit with Mistry Williams about life in Kindergarten.  She shared with me how she was using music videos for transition activities with the kids. Here are a few she likes. Alphabet videos by “Have Fun Teaching  , KidsTV123 and HarryKindergarten    I shared GoNoodle, a great website with fun "Brain Breaks" for students.  Deena Franklin shared that she and Becky Wietzke were going to participate in the Global Read Aloud again this year.  She is making plans to connect with other classrooms via Skype and Edmodo.  While visiting with Marla Egbers and Melinda Flaig, they shared that they were planning to participate in a Discovery Education virtual field trip to the National Archives today to make connections with their unit on the Constitution.  I even had the opportunity to help Rosie Alves, secretary, set up her Google Account.  She was immediately excited about how she could use this tool to share documents with teachers.  Andy Bishop, Jefferson's new Digital Literacy Coach shared that he had led a little workshop during their last staff meeting on Google Docs. Alyssa Willey shared how she plans to use Google Presentations to create GLAD content area big books.  In Jane Anderson's first grade class, students were building knowledge of community which is the school's theme for the month.  She had the kids working as as a community in small groups.  I even got to sing a long to "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" with her first grade community.  Thanks to all of the teachers at Jefferson who let me into their world for a little while this morning.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

09-12-14 My One Word: SHARE

Invest in Sharing from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 Jonathan McIntosh, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
Several of my friends in my PLN (Professional Learning Network) have challenged me to identify one focus word for the year.  My word is SHARE.  For those of you who know me, you will not be surprised by my choice.  The message of the power of sharing is something I SHARE often.  Here are a few of the ways I see that playing out in my position as a Digital Literacy Specialist this year.

I realize that we all have different workflows and avenues for getting information and learning new things.  So one of my goals is to do my best to SHARE where my teachers are.

Online this means, sharing on my blog, on Facebook, in e-mail, on my website, in webinars, on Pinterest in Google Docs and wherever else I find our teachers accessing information.

I also want to take every opportunity I can to be in schools, in classrooms, in PLCs and other conversations.

That is how I plan to share, but another part of this goal word for me is to encourage our teachers to participate in the power of sharing.  We have amazing teachers doing amazing things in their classrooms, trying and learning new things and even sometimes making mistakes that are very much worth sharing so that the rest of us don't end up taking that same path.  I do not believe that our teachers are stingy and don't want to share.  But I do believe that many lack the confidence to share or the belief that they have something worth sharing with others.  One of my goals this year is to be a cheerleader for these teachers to help them see that they have great things to share and that sharing can be a powerful force in improving learning.

I mentioned my PLN earlier.  I have cultivated this amazing PLN from educators from around the world who freely share and collaborate with others in a variety of ways in variety of places around the web.  I always know that I can go to my PLN to ask questions, get ideas and learn new things.  I have to admit though, that I feel like I am much more a consumer of this amazing knowledge and content than a producer.  This year I also want to make a concerted effort to share my ideas and the resources I create with others.

So here goes to a great year of sharing, learning from sharers, encouraging others to share and creating things to share.

Speaking of people who do an amazing job of sharing with others.  Susan Oxnevad of the Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners is always creating and sharing great things. (One of my heroes)  In my effort to share in the "places" our teachers are hanging out, I decided to set up a Pinterest account just for sharing Digital Literacy ideas and resources with our teachers.  As I was cruising around Pinterest looking for things to pin, I kept finding these amazing ThingLink creations where teachers had used this tool to create differentiated lessons and tutorials on a variety of subjects.  This had the fingerprint of Susan Oxnevad all over it.  These creations were made through the Thinglink Teacher Challenge that Susan facilitated this summer.  The challenge is now over, but the lessons and the creations remain.  Here is an example of a differentiated lesson created with Thinglink from Cindy Darden. .

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities

Registration is now open! 

October 25, 21014
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Mount Vernon High School
Find out more here... 

Next Google Hangout: Google Forms : 9/22/14

Going Google (Secondary): 10/10/14

EdCamp Mount Vernon : 10/25/14

Digital Literacy Calendar Pin It Now!