Sway With Me!

I took the opportunity to play around with a new digital tool (for me at least!) for this digital resources reflection.  I hadn’t heard of Sway before this week, but thanks to a fellow classmate and teacher, I got to playing around with it and really loved it!

I used Sway to address crucial questions when reflecting on how digital technology has impacted my life both personally and professionally.  Additionally, I talk about ways in which educators can stay current on changes, updates and trends in education, and how we can continue to further our own learning opportunities.

Please take a moment and Sway with me!

The Cyberbullying Epidemic

I watched two videos this week that addressed cyberbullying, and I found them to be very interesting and thought provoking.  The first was a Ted Talk by Monica Lewinsky, who you’ll remember became known as the young White House intern that had an affair with then President Bill Clinton (Lewinsky, 2015).  Monica Lewinsky’s talk was particularly interesting to me because I remember living through the whole Lewinsky/Clinton scandal.  While I was young (12-13 to be exact) I remember it so vividly, and I remember the cruel words that were used to describe her.  Even worse, many people in my immediate circle of family and friends were ones that used some of those words to describe her.  Words like “mistress”, “the other woman”.  Although we didn’t use the more vulgar words, she still had this negative image painted about her.  And what’s sad is that while I remember living and hearing of the whole ordeal, I don’t think I really knew the whole story, and hearing her point of view in the talk was a bit of a wake up call for me.  My biggest takeaway from the video? There are always two sides to a story, and we (the whole world) got one side of it… what the media wanted us to see and think.. for nearly a decade.  Yes, the circumstances were unfortunate, but having to live through the ridicule played out for the whole world to see has got be incredibly difficult.  But can you imagine what it would have been like had it have happened in a time where everything is posted on social media?  I actually feel a bit sick to my stomach because I can easily see how some people would think it is unbearable to live through.  Society scrutinizes every single thing about celebrities, politicians, etc.. and society is relentless.  The Lewinsky/Clinton scandal broke out before Facebook and Twitter, but we did have the internet.  If anything, watching her speak made be feel guilty, a bit shameful but inspired by her courage.

The  second video was also an inspiring Ted Talk given by Shane Koyczan.  The video was really amazing.  He not only spoke truth of what often times is considered “taboo” to talk about, but he put on quite a performance.  He words were so so powerful and nearly brought me to tears, because he is the voice of so many people, young and old, that endure such hateful words and harassment.. and many times when the issue is brought up to an adult, family member or parent, they blow off the issue.  “Oh, toughen up”, “it wasn’t that bad” (Koyczan, 2013).  But what are we telling our youth?  That how they’re feeling and how someone is treating them doesn’t matter?  This is what is scary.  I want my kids coming to me with any issue that might be bothering them.  I am their advocate and if I don’t stand up for them and let them know that they matter, no one will.  What would I do to prevent cyberbullying and promote kindness if I had unlimited resources?  I really don’t believe that this epidemic is a matter of resources.  Parents need to be involved in their kids lives.  Kids need to be shown and taught respect.  Respect and Compassion trump nearly everything for me, and my kids will show respect to their elders and to their peers.

Just two days ago on the way to school, we were listening to the radio and the father of a local girl that committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying and harassment back in November was on the air speaking with the radio hosts of two arrests that were recently made in the case.  My 7 year old son was listening and casually asked me, “Mom, what are they talking about?”  While I didn’t get into the way the girl passed, I simply told him, “A young girl that passed away was being bullied and made fun of by other people, and even though the bad things they said about the girl were not true, she believed them.  The words we use with others can really affect how they feel about themselves, which is why we always need to be respectful and use honey sweet words with everyone.”  There is also another local situation going on in a neighboring school district that goes a long with this topic.  Another beautiful girl, 17, passed away this passed Sunday by taking her own life.  While the family and student body are coping with her loss, several students approached the school’s yearbook committee asking them if they could create a memoriam page dedicated to her to celebrate her life.  They quickly declined stating, “you know we can’t do that because of the way Hannah died”.  Instead of celebrating the life of a beautiful student and friend to many, they are afraid of glorifying the way she died.  I feel like THIS is part of the problem.  Ignoring the situation does NO good.  I understand it is a touchy situation for many, but these sorts of things need to be talked about.  We need to do better and be open with our children, teach them and our students important values like respect, compassion and forgiveness, and talk about these sorts of things, should they come up.


2 People Charged in Connection to Texas City Teen’s 2016 Suicide. (2017, March 16). Retrieved from http://abc13.com/news/2-arrested-in-texas-city-teens-suicide/1803923/

Bludau, J. ((2017, March 22). Family Petitioning for Daughter’s Memorial Page in Yearbook After She Took Her Own Life. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved from http://www.click2houston.com/news/family-says-pearland-school-denies-yearbook-page-in-memory-of-daughter-who-took-her-own-life-

Koyczan, S. (2013, March 8). “To This Day”… For the Bullied and Beautiful. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa1iS1MqUy4

Lewinsky, M. (2015, March 20). The Price of Shame. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_8y0WLm78U

Applicable Resources

Diep, F. (2014, September 30). Confronting My Cyberbully, 13 Years Later. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/confronting-my-cyberbully-thirteen-years-later/380888/

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2015). Developing a positive school climate: Top ten tips to prevent bullying and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying Research Center. Hinduja_Patchin_School-Climate-Top-Ten-Tips-To-Prevent-Cyberbullying.pdf

Hoffman, J. (2010, June 27). Online Bullies Pull Schools Into The Fray. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/style/28bully.html

Strut Central. (2012, March 22). The Cyber Bullying Virus. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5PZ_Bh-M6o

What Is Cyberbullying? (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html




Compiling Resources for an Online Course

Last week, I gave some insight on what I’d be up to for the 5 weeks as a part of my grad school course.  As I mentioned before, I am in the process of designing an all online course for my 8th grade photography class on Schoology, in which they will be collaborating with our youngest students, the Betas (3-4 year olds) on a storytelling project.

I’ve spent quite some time designing the framework for this course,week by week, including carefully choosing a variety of resources, including videos, TedTalks, articles, case studies, discussion posts, and assignments.  All of the selected resources and materials have been added in their designated spots within the Schoology LMS.  As this is a collaborative storytelling project using photography, I’ve added one of the videos that will be apart of my course below.  Is Photography Storytelling?

In addition to gathering resources, I’ve carefully planned out a detailed outline that covers about 50% of the course.  I will expand on this outline in the coming weeks and will update it here, but for now, this is what is being planned for this 5 week course.

Leading Organizational Change- Why, How and What

Months of research and planning have gone into the development of my innovation plan that I will begin piloting in August of the 2016-2017 school year.  The past 7 months of my graduate studies have been completely eye opening for me and have provided me with the resources and tools I need to take on such a challenge…. and I’m ready for it.

Just like a new product a company promotes and tries to get consumers to buy, I’m trying to “sell” my innovation plan.  No longer is it just an idea, but we are in the beginning stages of leading organizational change.  The Why, How and What statements are crucial to promoting the significance of my plan for innovation, because it’s one thing to get by department leaders on board, but now I’ve got to get the rest of my colleagues on board as well- and this might prove to be just as challenging, if not more than before.


In the video, John Kotter explains the importance of establishing a sense of urgency when embarking on any sort of major change in an organization.  This video along with The Heart of Change, also by Kotter  presents the notion that it isn’t enough to merely ask something of someone- this won’t yield the type of change that is desired.  So what will?

“You have to win over the hearts and the minds of people.”

In other words, what you’ve got to do is find a way to connect your mission, plan or purpose with your target people, whether that be consumers, managers, education leaders or colleagues.  Simon Sinek also provides great information of where to start when beginning a program that integrates likes and passions.  In his own words, “You start with WHY”.  So taking into account Kotter’s work along with Sinek’s, I’ve developed the following Why, How and What statements for my innovation plan.



Created using https://www.tackk.com/board.  Click here for a full interactive view of the above TACKK board.



Leading Change: Establish a Sense of Urgency. (2013). Retrieved July 12, 2016, from https://youtu.be/2Yfrj2Y9IlI

Start With Why- How Great Leaders Inspire Action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound. (2009). Retrieved July 14, 2016, from https://youtu.be/u4ZoJKF_VuA

The Heart of Change. (2011).  Retrieved July 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NKti9MyAAw



Zip, Zap, Zop!

I’m in my fourth class in my Masters program and for this class, there was some reading to be done before the start of the course.  I found Douglas Thomas and John Brown’s book, A New Culture of Learning, to be such an inspiring read.  That book, coupled with the week’s videos have really given me the confirmation that what we are doing in this program (our innovative plans) are exactly what we should be doing.  I know some have already felt like their ideas have been shot down, or maybe they’re not getting the support they need from their colleagues, but as our professor, Dr. Harapnuik said at the beginning of his CSLE video, “Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change”.  This is what’s wrong with our country right now.  I think everyone knows that our education system has to change, but everyone is too damn scared to START the change.  No offense to anyone.  And for many, the more times you hear “No, no, no..” well that just kills your passion all together.

I love the example that Thomas gave in his TEDx video of the three old child walking down the beach and becomes enthralled by this tree.  He begins to touch the tree bark, smell it and even put it in his mouth.  Although we don’t go around tasting everything, we need to remember that this is learning.  You see the curiosity and excitement in children when they are discovering.  It’s quite sad to hear that administrators in our country are limiting and banding the very things that captivate our attention and actually might help encourage our students to want to learn and want to discover.  But no.. instead we take it away.  This is NOT how we create an thriving learning environment.  Let’s give students tools that they can use to go out and explore the world and document it.  That’s when we see their eyes light up.. that’s when they control their own learning.

When I think about how play combines passion, imagination and constraint, I immediately think of an experience I had today at earlier this week.  Our students got out of school last week, but faculty and teachers returned for our last week yesterday to wrap up our class rooms, have some end of year meetings and even a professional development opportunity.  Our professional development was interesting… and FUN.  We had Kim McGaw, director of professional programs at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, come speak with us and we did a lot of different games and activities that encouraged us to play and work together, and also to think about our passions and something we might want to change in this next school year in relationship to our grade levels and/or subjects.  One of the first activities we did was divide into groups of about 10 and we played a game called “Zip, Zap, Zop”.  We basically all stood in a circle, and one person started the game but clapping and pointing (in a sort of “shoot and point” kind of gesture) to another person in the group while yelling “Zip!”.  Then the person they pointed at does the same clap/point gesture to another person in the group while yelling “Zap!”  It went on and on and a repetitive motion and very soon what you heard from each group was laughter.  We were in groups of colleagues, many that we don’t talk to on a regular basis because of different divisions and what not, but we were playing this game, and these were the rules and you had to be paying attention and we might have looked quite silly, but it was fun.  We then played a similar game called “Red ball, yellow ball, blue ball” where in the same circle we were standing in, we throw a “fake” red ball to each other.  You don’t know who the person is going to throw the ball to next, so you have stay on your toes.  Gradually, Kim would throw in a different color “ball” while we were still passing along the red ball. We had to become creative and come up with ways to differentiate which ball was which, because then it just became a bunch of yelling and we couldn’t keep any one ball going.  Some groups decided that they would throw the red ball in a passing motion, and use a kicking motion for the yellow ball and a volleyball bump motion for the blue ball.  This exercise proved to be much more difficult because everything was happening simultaneously but within these rules of the game, there was plenty of laughter.  I think this is a great example of play combining imagination, passion and constraint.  Every group thought of different was to keep the game going.  I think we teachers need to create an environment where our students use their imaginations on projects that matter to them.  This is honoring their passions.  I’m providing a separate link below of Kim McGaw giving a brief summary of her Lego Serious Play workshop that she has also been doing.



Harapnuik, D. (2015, May 8). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE). Retrieved May 28, 2016, from https://youtu.be/eZ-c7rz7eT4

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace?

Thomas, D. (2012, September 12). A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/lM80GXlyX0U


A thousand times yes.

Sir Ken Robinson is an “internationally recognized authority in creativity and innovation in education and business, also one of the world’s leading speakers. Videos of his famous talks to the prestigious TED Conference are the most viewed in the history of the organization and have been seen by an estimated 300 million people in over 150 countries”.

And aside from that… he’s pretty awesome.  And hilarious.

In just a couple weeks, Houston gets the exciting opportunity of having Sir Ken Robinson speak at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Information can be found at http://houstonaplus.org