#Edublogs Club Week 7: A Listicle — Top 5 Things I Learned at TCEA


A Listicle…I really like that word. I didn’t realize all those blog posts and articles I’ve enjoyed had a specific name! And it’s such a coincidence that I had just recently created a listicle-ish after returning from TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) in Austin, TX. I was inspired by a librarian I follow on Twitter (@richellereads) who created a Top 5 Smore and I wanted to do the same. Sadly, the title of my Smore was cut off because of it’s size and what my blog page allows…please overlook that. If you’d prefer to look at it in its original format, check it out here.

I do wonder why we are somehow wired to enjoy listicles. Maybe it’s because we know what we’re getting into. If you tell me you have compiled a list of the ten best Ryan Gosling ‘Hey Girl’ memes, I know what I’m going to be reading about and I also know what my time commitment will be. Also, I would read that! Maybe that’s comforting somehow.

I chose to share my TCEA Takeaways with my staff and upper administration because I went to the conference intent on bringing things back to share. One of the greatest parts of education is sharing with others and having them share with you! I have been lucky enough in my career to have learned from some incredible educators thanks to their willingness to share. I could have created a Top 20+ list for sure..it was a fantastic conference. But for the sake of time and attention, I chose to keep it to five items to make the most of the time I have to share with busy teachers. And I have the rest of the year to share more.

#EduBlogs Club Week 6: Challenges

A challenging situation. Such a great prompt. And a great exercise too! I think when we are challenged, that’s when we show what we’re made of. If life was to move along perfectly, how would we test ourselves?

Choosing the challenge I wanted to write about was easy. I am living it and learning from it every day! After spending 10 years in one school district, I made the decision last year to leave for the benefit of my family. I left what was comfortable..and I left what I was beginning to take for granted. I am beyond happy in my new position, doing what I love and working with amazing educators and students, but sometimes it is difficult. It’s the little things you know? It’s knowing who to ask for things, which office to go to, how to request a PO (that’s it own unique challenge!), how to find the copy paper. And don’t even get me started on the number of athletic gyms we have here! #igetlostsometimes

I went from knowing the majority of the upper administration and who to go to when I needed to ask a question to floundering a bit. But this has given me the chance to think about it and understand, “It’s okay…as long as…” It’s okay to be the new girl on the block as long as I’m open to meeting new people and reach out. It’s okay to not be 100% sure as long as I ask questions and learn what I need to know. And it’s okay to make mistakes…as long as I learn from them. (Oh man, it’s been a learning year!)

Having to be new has made me more aware of new students who arrive mid year and are forced to start over in a new place. My choice to change districts and jobs was my decision. The students who are in these situations are typically not the ones making the decision to move. We all need a little grace from time to time. It’s nice to be reminded of that.

#EduBlogs Club Week 5: Free Web Tools

Free Web Tools…one of my favorite things! I love finding and trying out new tools and learning how they can be beneficial to students and teachers…at NO COST!


After struggling to make creative, pretty signage in Word and taking a very long time to download fonts and try to format everything and nothing ever looking quite the way I wanted, and they all came out looking the same, I was introduced to Canva and will never go back to Word! It’s amazing. It is format friendly (you click & move something where you want it and it goes there), you can upload your own images or use the pre-loaded ones, pre-made layouts make you look like a pro, and it’s fun! I was introduced to Canva a while back and played with it, but didn’t learn to love it until I stopped trying to only use the pre-made layouts. While they are really awesome, I found myself removing nearly all the elements to make my own, so I finally tried starting with a blank canvas and building on my own. I have used it this year more than ever and you can be sure that every sign and display I’ve made has been made with Canva. I created a library logo using it too. See?


#2 Adobe Spark

This tool is a new find as well. I heard about it in my librarian PLN this year and went back to work and used it the next day. It is very intuitive, drag and drop, easy! This is a video creator that allows you to create slides, add text and images, music, and voice recording. Below is an example Spark I created for a class here at AHS. They were going to use it for an upcoming project. The only criticism I have about Spark is that it doesn’t allow for much creativity with the images you can add to the slides. But that’s where Canva comes in! I was able to get more creative with Canva, save the file as an image and use it on my Spark project. Win!

#3 Symbaloo

This is not a new tool, but it’s a good one. The idea is simple…a grid of tiles you can organize however you like, that will take you out to sites you want to have collected. I use this on this website for tools I’d like to be available to students in a very visual way. You can make multiple boards and easily update them. Embedding them onto your website is super easy, or sharing a link works just as well. I like the visuals so I always embed mine. Here’s an example:

#4 Smore

Finally….Smore. This is a free tool, but I have paid for the upgrade because I was using it so much and wanted to keep my past designs. Smore is an digital newsletter. It’s great for sharing announcements, new tools, upcoming dates, etc. It would even be great for teachers to use to highlight a new topic or resources to try. I create a S’more for my staff each month with things I find that I would like to show them. A S’more can hold links, pictures, text, embedded videos, and it’s all drag and drop. I think with the free version, you may only be able to create and save 3 before you reach the limit? The paid version is $59 a year I believe. For me, and with how much I use it, it was worth the investment. Once you create a S’more you can share a link or embed it. On this website, I save all the links of old S’mores for my teachers, and embed the most current.

Feel free to check out my S’more page.

There are certainly many more tools that I’ve enjoyed using, but these four that I’ve shared here are the ones I use regularly and rely on for much of what I do.