Saturday, November 18, 2017

Going Digital with the BreakoutEDU Platform

BreakoutEDU has a new platform: 👍
You can now create digital games on their site: 👏

...but wait, how do you do that?

I'm not an expert, but I made a quick screencast to show what the new digital game creation tool looks like. You do need platform access to create games, but digital games are always free to play. 

Warning: The "game" I am creating is about the most boring game known to mankind. I think there is a lot of potential to be super creative with these games - play around and enjoy! And please share, I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Colorado Summit 2017: Takeaways

Nearly a week later, and I am finally getting the chance to sit down and blog about the Ed Tech Team Colorado Summit! I had an amazing time (complete with very little sleep!) - here are the three main themes that describe my weekend.


#sunchatbloggers buddies - @brianrozinsky & @historicalipad
More than anything else, this conference was about connecting with others for me! I had the pleasure of meeting several people that I have interacted with online, and it was so much fun to finally meet in real life. Being only the second ed tech conference I've ever attended, this is the first time I have really seen the breadth of my #PLN. I met so many friends of friends and it seemed like there were common connections everywhere! Last year, when attending this conference, I was just getting started on Twitter. This year, I met so many #eduheroes and realized the impact of being a globally connected educator!


From the keynote speakers (@amyburvall@jheil65) to the sessions (including sketchnoting by @sylviaduckworth), the innate creativity in all of us and the need for it in education was at the forefront of my takeaways from this conference. Even the winning demo slam was @sylviaduckworth rapping with Incredibox! As a music teacher, this fed my soul! It is always so affirming to hear the more creative subjects celebrated. But beyond that, I loved the way we talked about tying it all together - it is not about creating in isolation, but infusing that into everything we do as educators!


I can't talk about this event without looking back to my #oneword2017, LEAD. Over the past year, I have slowly come to view myself as a leader in different ways. Starting with being the leader of my classroom, moving to leading a building in my summer admin job, and now being in a leadership position with educational technology in my district, I have been challenged to step up and grow. At the conference, I had a couple of interactions that challenged me to continue to think wider about my influence, as a leader in the greater educational technology community. I still feel like just one small voice in a chorus, but it's humbling to realize that some people may see me as a leader. I feel a sense of responsibility to be a positive voice, to be someone who is unafraid to push for change but who will do so in a way that always communicates love and respect for others. And I feel a renewed sense of purpose in being REAL (both online & in person), in being ME, and in sharing my story.

Thank you, everyone who helped make the weekend a success! What were your biggest takeaways from the Colorado Summit?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

One Year Ago

One year ago, I went to my first ever educational technology conference.
One year ago, a friend asked me if I was presenting there.
One year ago, what my mind was screaming was, "NO WAY, there's no way I have enough expertise or anything to share at an ed tech conference like this!"
One year ago, what I said was, "No - I might present at a music conference sometime about how to incorporate technology into a music classroom; that's more where I see myself sharing."

This year, I am going to my second educational technology conference.
This year, I am presenting/co-presenting four sessions.
This year, I'm a bit nervous, but excited to share and learn with everyone who comes to my sessions.
This year, I am recruiting others to share & present too!

What's changed? I haven't become an expert in the past year. Sure, I've learned some things and grown, but it's not like "what I know" is drastically different.
What's changed? I see myself not just as a music teacher who is interested in tech, but as an ed tech leader.
What's changed? More than anything, it's my mindset and my willingness to share in this community of learners.
What's changed? I am growing in confidence as my #oneword of LEAD is really playing out in my life this year.

Here's to a great 2017 Colorado #edtechteam Summit!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gratitude: How #Edtechteam Summits & #BreakoutEDU Changed My Life!

As we prepare for the #edtechteam summit this weekend, I've found myself reflecting on the path that has brought me to my position as an ed tech specialist. In many ways, my journey started two years ago with a summit that I didn't attend.

Wait, what?

Two years ago, my brother, who is a math/computer science teacher, attended a GAFE (Google Apps for Education) Summit hosted by my district. Here I was, barely even aware that it was happening, yet my brother drove an hour and a half to attend. We met up for breakfast one day because he was in the area, but that was about the extent of that.

A few weeks later, we were both home for Thanksgiving break, and he set up this cool thing that he had heard about at the summit: a BreakoutEDU box. My sister, dad, & I all played Time Warp, and we had a blast! I liked the idea of using it in the classroom, but didn't really see it as realistic for music...or for the number of students I had in each class. It became a fun idea, tucked away in the back of my mind, that maybe I could pull out if I ever found myself in a situation that would fit.

Fast forward two years. 

My mind continued to stew on the idea of BreakoutEDU, and that summer, seeing the digital versions really drew me in. Creating my own games led me to get on Twitter, to develop a PLN, to begin this blog, and to dive into the ed tech world. From there, I started gamifying my classes, implementing genius hour projects, experiencing a pseudo-1:1 environment by hogging regularly checking out a Chromebook cart, getting more involved in my district's ed tech initiatives through applying for a cohort, and eventually landing in my current job as an ed tech specialist.

As I reflect, I can't help but feel grateful to so many people who influenced my journey without even knowing it. I'm thankful for the Ed Tech Team & the people in my district who brought the summit to Boulder, CO. I'm thankful to the BreakoutEDU folks for creating an engaging opportunity that was my first glimpse of why I should attend conferences like this. I'm thankful to my brother for sharing his learning! I'm thankful to the people who started BreakoutEDU Digital, which was my gateway drug to the world of PLNs & connecting with a global community. And I'm thankful for all of those who encouraged me along the way and let me step out, explore, and grow, even when that included some wins and some failures.

"Big things often have small beginnings."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

BreakoutEDU: An Update

Have you heard? BreakoutEDU now has an updated game platform & new digital game creation tool! When it all came out this week, I had to be really disciplined to focus on work because I just wanted to play with it!

Let me start by saying that, yes, this new platform does cost money ($60/year, although there is a discount going right now). The subscription comes with many things, but the part I am going to focus on today is the part that made me want to play: the new BreakoutEDU Digital Game Creation tool! I've written several digital games and housed them on Google Sites. It works well, but there can be some downsides to using a Google Form as the lockbox. This new tool solves a lot of those issues and looks awesome!

I don't want to give away too much, but it is very user-friendly and walks through the major steps needed to create a game! The five lock types (number, letter, directional, color, & shape) give an expanded array of options for clues & codes. The layout is simple & sleek, and the "share" feature makes it easy to copy a link or embed your "digital lockbox" on any site.

One of the things I struggled with when first looking at this tool was the fact that it is not as customizable as a Google Site in terms of layout, formatting, etc. Often, I use those features to hide clues in my game. The embed feature solved my problem, though - I could still create a site with all of my clues & formatting, and then just embed the digital lockbox straight onto the website!

Here's another honest moment: I love the new tool, but it doesn't do everything want it to...YET! The BreakoutEDU team has always had amazing customer service, and this week is no exception. I know they are looking at the feedback, responding, and continuing to improve their product because I've seen their responses through email (I've sent a couple of questions their way) and the Facebook group. I can't wait to see how they continue to build and refine this tool in the future.

Want to experience it for yourself? Check out a Thanksgiving-themed game I moved over to the new platform and have fun playing!