Parmley Proud iCoach


Mind Blown iCoach


So, I just thought the staff at Parmley was the best, but then COVID-19 happened. I was panicked and stressed.  How do I support the teachers that are used to working with me face to face or reach out for support or ideas.  How do I help them help our students?  I quickly found, my stress was undue.  This group of teachers and staff not only was prepared for this occasion, but they have blown the whole digital learning right out of the water.  Each week, I see new and exciting things happening for our students and our staff.  Each of you is constantly pushing to do more and be more for our students as we face unprecedented school closures.  The Parmley Mission that “Every Student will learn at high levels” has never been more on display than in our teachers’ weekly video lessons and live Google Meets.  It is impressive how quickly the teachers rallied to support our students and each other.  As I reflect on this year, I have never been prouder to be a part of a campus that truly values the whole student and does whatever it takes to move mountains for their students.  Parmley staff, continue to be the model for our students that through this time we continue to care and strive for excellence.

This week, I want to give a huge shout out to the Kindergarten team as they branched out and gave Peardeck a try.  I know when it was first mentioned in collaborative, these ladies thought the idea was crazy.  However, in true Parmley fashion, they pushed forward to meet the needs of our precious Kindergarten friends.  One thing I respect about the Kinder teachers (to be honest, I do not think I could ever teach Kinder, so much respect to you that love it) is that these ladies always question every decision to make sure it is in the best interest of their students.  A huge shout out to Mrs. Clark for sharing some of her students work from Peardeck below.  Below are some examples of student work using the drawing tool for story retell, number recognition, and graphing.  Thank you for sharing how incredibly fabulous are students are as they share their learning.

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Virtual Learning and Calendar/Tech Support


After two weeks of digital learning, I  am super impressed with the teachers here at Parmley.  You guys have absolutely blown me out of the water with everything you are doing to support our students to continue to excel in their education.  These last two weeks have just reaffirmed how fabulous the staff is and how much we come together to support each other.  Continue to keep up the good work.

Google Meets Reminder handoutIf you are like me, one of my favorite parts of each week is the Google Live Meets.  Watching my daughter interact with her teacher, Mrs. K, and her friends always brings a smile to my face.  It is so exciting to see what the class wants to share, usually their favorite toy or in Jenna’s case her baby brother.  Mrs. K begins each meet reviewing her expectations and having the class practice muting and unmuting their screens.  Thanks to Miss Steinbach, we have a great handout on Google Meets expectations to use with our students.  Just like we begin every collaborative meeting by reviewing our norms, these Google Meets reminders are a great way to start each meet.

Google Calendar Schedule

Example of my email with my events for the day

As we have transitioned to digital learning, I know that I have become more dependent on my calendar than I ever have before.  It was easier when I had a set schedule with a bell ringing to start my day, take attendance, and line up for dismissal.  There is a really cool feature in Google Calendar to receive an email for your upcoming events for each day.  So, each morning at 5:00 am,  I get an email that lets me know what I have coming up for the day.  It has been a lifesaver as I have navigated the ever changing world of our current school situation.  If you are interested in setting this up, either jump on my tech help Google Meet today at 1:00 or email me and I can send you some instructions.

Finally, I  just wanted to remind each of you that every Monday from  1:00 to 2:00, I am online for a Google Meet (link attached) to answer any and all questions.  Feel free to pop in whenever if I can assist you or if you just want to chat.  Do not hesitate to reach out during the week if you have questions.

Hour of Code Week


Map of all the Hour of Code activities in the world

The Hour of Code is a global movement introducing students to computer science.  It initially began as a one hour coding challenge in the hopes that students would have a fun first introduction to computer science.  Instead, it became a global learning, celebration, and awareness event.  With the emphasis placed on computers, computer science is changing every industry on the planet.  Students need opportunities to create technology, as well as nurture their creativity and build problem-solving skills to equip them for future endeavors.

With computer occupations serving as the fast growing and one of the best paying jobs at this time, it is important to offer our students opportunities to learn about and experience these types of job skills.  These occupations also serve as the largest sector of new wages in the United States.  Students need opportunities to not only learn computer skills and etiquette, but also create, network, and share their experiences globally.

Hour of Code takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week, which falls from December 9 -15 this year.  You can learn more about Hour of Code by visiting:

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Impacting the Future


As we enter the holiday season, I always take some time to think of all the many things that I am thankful in my life.  With the stress of life and all the rushing around, it is sometime hard to see the many things that make life special.  I also spend some time during this season making an effort to show those special people in my life how much they truly mean to me and how much I appreciate their love and support.

Recently, I had the great pleasure and honor of thanking the teacher who had the greatest impact on my life.  I was able to attend The Anywhere School training hosted by Fried Technology.  The training was awesome and a great day was spent with some of my fellow iCoaches.  At one point, we were asked to fill in some information on a Google sheet and I happened to notice a name that jumped out at me.  I looked at Courtney and immediately started telling her my story about this teacher.  My parents divorced when I was young and I really struggled with my dad leaving.  It wasn’t a great feeling and I spent most of second grade hating school and begging my mom to not leave me at school each day.  In third grade, that all changed because I was in Mrs. Kana’s class.  Mrs. Kana is the kind of teacher I dream of being and the whole reason I wanted to teach 3rd grade.  She was a first year teacher the year I sat in her room here at Parmley (originally called WES for Willis Elementary School).  She cared very much about my academics, but what she did for my confidence as a person had a greater impact on my life.  Every day, she made each student feel welcomed and loved.  When she spoke to you, you just felt like you were the only person who existed at that moment.  Mrs. Kana celebrated the smallest victories and encouraged you through the struggles.  Being a member of her classroom was a great reward in my educational journey.  As we all gathered back in the main room for lunch, I looked up and recognized her.  I just had to let her know the impact she made on my life.  I called her name and she looked at me.  I said, “Mrs. Kana, it’s Ashley.”   She responded back with “Castleschouldt.”  She gave me the biggest hug, the same hug from my childhood that reassured me that all would be okay.  I was emotional and could feel the tears welling up as I told her she is the reason that I am a teacher.  Teachers, as we enter this next couple of weeks, do not forget the impact that you make on our students.  It has been almost thirty years since I have been a student in Mrs. Kana’s room, but just seeing her that day brought back every good feeling I had about school and myself.

“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”

Dr. Seuss

Digital Citizenship Week


The third week of October is dedicated to teach good digital citizenship in the hopes that our students will become safe and smart when using technology and getting online.  While we do focus on digital citizenship for that one week, it is important that we are teaching and modeling good digital citizenship throughout the year.  Always remind your students the importance of logging out of devices and being careful when sharing/sending information over the web.

Our students and the fabulous Mr. Burns worked on digital citizenship in computer lab last week and will be finishing up this week.  Our kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders read the book

The Technology Tail by Julia Cook

“The Technology Tail” by Julia Cook.  Our littles learned about proper social media etiquette and posting.  It focused on not being an online bully in bright pictures and using rhymes.  We have a copy of the book in the library if you ever want to use it in your classrooms.

Our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders worked independently using Peardeck’s Be Internet Awesome activities.  They focused on Share with Care to look at privacy and profile settings.  The students will be completing the online activity in computer lab this week.

You can check out the Peardeck’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum here.  They have lessons on Sharing Information with Others, Identifying Fake Information, Securing your Information, Online Bullying, and How to Get Help Online.  Each one has some fabulous resources and a teacher’s guide to walk you through using it.

Look at a few of our students’ responses below.

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Lions, Tigers, and Books, Oh My!


Ms. McKay and I had a fabulous week running the Fall Scholastic Book Fair this past week.  Each day, we hit the ground running with students coming in as soon as the doors opened.  It was so exciting to hear our students excitement about books and what they could not wait to buy.

We were doing our very best to listen to the students so we know the must have books needed for our collection.  I was like a kid in a candy store picking out the must haves for the library.

Ms. McKay and Mrs. Soose in their BOOOKS shirts at the Parmley Book Fair

For me, this was the best book fair I have ever been a part of.  I had set a goal for the campus to sell 1.003 books and we exceeded that goal with over 1,200.  I believe that we were so successful due to the teachers support in bringing their classes in to preview and shop the fair and promoting a love of reading on our campus.  Many of our staff shopped the book fair for their classroom libraries and personal home libraries.  Thank you so much and I look forward to the Spring Book Fair.

I cannot forget the awesome support offered to our library from the amazing PTO and Courtney Brown.  Ms. McKay and I know we could have not done it without them.  They went above and beyond helping us set up and tear down the book fair, working registers, and staffing our book fair during the Dudes with Donuts.  One of the best parts of working with the PTO ladies was their help with students that needed support to find books.  Ms. Brown stepped up to man a register for the entirety of Dudes with Donuts and remained to help for the day on Thursday.

In all the hustle of the book fair, I was able to squeeze in a little time with some teachers during the week.  On Tuesday, I got to work with Mrs. Klespis and the K-2 teachers on Numeracy Stations.  I loved sharing a few apps on manipulatives (Ten Frames, Number Lines, and Number Racks) and discussing

Mrs. Soose showing Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Korkowski the Math Learning Center apps

ideas on how to use them and build lessons.  It was a great opportunity for me to work with my younger grades teachers to implement technology.  It opened the door for me to visit with Mrs. Puckett and Ms. McBryde to set up their ipads with the Reflector software.

On Thursday, I was invited to a planning session with Mrs. Crabdree and Mrs. Schultz to create a Goosechase on forms of energy.  Who knew that melts could be an mnemonic device for the five forms of energy?  I seriously thought that was what happened to me when mowing the yard in July.  These ladies used a combination of video and photo evidence with their five missions on mechanical, electrical, light, thermal, and sound energy.

Mrs. Crabdree discussing light energy with her fifth graders

On Friday, the students worked in groups with a Chromebook to move around the building to prove their understanding of MELTS.  Thank you ladies for the courage to try something new and let your students move around the building to find their evidence.

After sending a Google Form on T3 trainings, the staff appears to favor Wednesdays for after school trainings.  Just so you know, I will offer a T3 every other week in the library.  These hour long trainings count as one hour of Professional Learning (the district requires 20 hours each year).  I select topics that I think would be beneficial, but I am open to suggestions if there is something you would like a training on.  So this week’s T3 will be on Wednesday in the library.  We will be learning about Edpuzzle.

If you have not already seen it, check out the newest edition of Bathroom Briefs near you.

Dot Day and Peardeck


International Dot Day is celebrated on September 15th of each year.

International Dot Day was started on September 15, 2009 when a teacher, Terry Shay, introduced his class to Peter H. Reynolds The Dot.  The purpose of the book is to inspire creativity, courage, and collaboration.  In  the book, a teacher encourages a student who does not believe in  themselves to “make their mark.”  The student starts with a dot that leads to a breakthrough in her courage and self-worth.

Throughout this week,  Mr. Burns and our students have been working on Dot Day projects.  Our kindergarten and first grade students used paper plates to express themselves using markers, crayons, and paper.  2nd and 3rd graders used construction paper to create something to represent them.  Mr. Burns provided the students a variety of circular items, i.e. cds, paper towel rolls, and coins, to create dots on their papers.  Some students wrote a short summary about their drawings and what it meant to them.  Our 4th and 5th grade students used construction paper and glued  a black dot to the paper.  Then, they created works for art using the black dot for inspiration.  Look for the students art work to be on display during Open House this week.

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For those of you who missed the Peardeck training on Tuesday, you missed a laughter-filled afternoon.  We had a blast working on an interactive Peardeck in both teacher and student paced modes.  Those teachers in attendance showed their skills on slides about math,  RLA, science, and social studies.  Look at a few of the slides below.

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On the teacher side, you can look at the responses as a whole group or individual.  For example, on a draggable slide, you can have the student responses layered and immediately see if all students understand the material or if you need to review.  One of my favorite things about Peardeck is that you can view individual responses and choose to share one or a few on the projector.   The best part is the student will remain anonymous when you do this.  This allows your shy students to still shine in the classroom.

A few Peardeck highlights (just my opinion):

  • I love the takeaways.  How awesome is it that students can view their responses and the teacher’s notes on their own time?
  • You do not recreate the wheel.  Peardeck allows you to add interactive slides to existing Google Slides presentations.
  • Peardeck has many interactive types – draggable, open-ended, multiple choice, and websites – just to name a few.
  • You can toggle between teacher-led and student-paced during all presentations.  This allows the teacher to check for understanding and bring the class back together to clarify misconceptions.

The best part, our campus has access to all of Peardeck’s features through December.  This includes all interactive features and their massive template gallery.  On Thursday, they added a gallery for Social Studies and more templates are to be released in the coming weeks.  Get with me if you need additional help or support  with Peardeck.



How has technology changed in the classroom


I remember back when I took my technology class at Sam Houston, my professor considered an overhead, a pencil, and manipulatives as forms of technology.  It was easy to get marked high for technology on your observations because everyone used an overhead.  However, these same tools would not be considered technology today.  So, what do we expect to see in a classroom now?

As technology has evolved, so has our opinions about how we use the technology in our classrooms.  I worked as a classroom teacher for Willis when we did the first rollout of devices at the middle school.  For those student take home devices, we just hoped the students were using them at home appropriately.  The next round of devices were a few teachers with a set of tablets in their classrooms.  I vividly remember attending a meeting with Mr. Harkrider telling us he expected them to be used often and for more than just research.   I looked at my partner and asked her are we sure we want to do this?  We jumped in, full steam ahead with support from administration and our campus iCoach.  We learned a lot and tried many new things during that time.  I remember how nervous I was about turning students lose with the devices and what happens if they do something I do not know how to fix.  It was not always smooth sailing, but some of my favorite years in the classroom.  Looking back now, I am still amazed at how differently classrooms look in relation to technology than they did when I started fourteen years ago.

The vision for the instructional technology department is to empower learners to create, innovate, and collaborate.  Thinking back to my college professor’s view of  technology,  I realize it was all about how the teacher used the technology.  Now, it is about how is the student using technology.

ISTE Student Standards Poster

We want our students to take the information they are learning and create a product that illustrates their understanding or extends what they know.  No longer do we want students to create for only their classroom or their school.  Instead, we want them to publish and collaborate outside of our school walls.  To ensure their success, we have to equip them with the tools to do so.  Check out ISTE‘s webpage to learn more about the International Society for Technology in Education student and teacher standards.  It is a fabulous resource for our digital age learners.

With all the new changes with technology in the classroom, how can I help you?  I’m going to share some advice that helped me in the classroom.  First, do not be afraid to ask for help.  My best resource during my technology transition was  my iCoach.  She was always willing to listen as I walked through something I wanted to try, offering suggestions or support as needed, or just being an extra set of eyes and hands when trying new things.  My goal is to support you in using technology to ensure all students will learn at high levels.  Just let me know what you need from me: support during a lesson or planning, researching ideas, or just a sounding board.  I am only an email away.  Secondly, learn from  your students.  Our students are growing up in an age of digital learners.  They will be ahead of us every step of the way.  Let them teach you.  Finally, reflect on your lessons.  With technology, things will go wrong at times.  Reflect on the lesson  and think about how to make it better.  It could be something as simple as giving clearer instructions or working in partners instead of independently.  It is sad to see technology removed from lessons because it went poorly when a small change would have changed the outcome.Bitmoji Image

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