I’m excited to be taking part in the Bodacious Bloggers summer blog hop! May’s prompt was for us to take our readers on a tour of where we live – check out the May blog hop here or take a tour of my city here. This month’s prompt is to recap highlights from the last decade of our lives. This month’s prompt got me thinking…
2005 vs. 2015, my use of technology over the past 10 years has really influenced and molded who I am today and how I get things done. For this reason I thought it was worth taking a look back at not only my life, but also the past 10 years of my life with tech. I hope that through this recap of my life and experiences with tech you will learn a bit more about me, where I come from, where I’ve been, how I’ve grown and where I’m going. Maybe you’ll even be a little inspired to take on a little more tech in your own life 🙂
By 2005 I had long forgotten my outdated beeper and was staying connected through my Motorala RAZR V3, a sleek flip cellphone that became very popular and affordable after its initial 2004 release. Yes! There was a time when we lived without Smartphones! Don’t know how, but we did.
2005 was also the first time I used a digital camera to take pics while on vacation. That year the hubby and I went on our dream vacation to Hawaii and took a Canon PowerShot A510 camera with us. I remember being so glad we did because there was so much beauty to document during that trip. We didn’t have to run to the local drug store to develop film upon our return. Sure don’t miss that! Instead we saved all the images on a CD and stuffed that CD into a CD wallet that would later hold lots of other photo CDs. How simple!
The MacBook was my first love in terms of Apple products. My love affair with anything and everything Apple initially began in 2006 when my school purchased some new MacBook computers. I was lucky enough to have access to two of these beauties in my very own classroom. I loved them! The kids loved them! Our work suddenly became simpler, more enjoyable. I started using one of the MacBooks for my work, lesson plans, student tracking, etc. The other one was always available to my students. In no time they had begun typing out their stories, conducting research online, playing digital games, watching video podcasts, etc. And these were only 2nd graders!
It was incredible to see how engaged they were and how quickly they picked up new skills. Everything was rewarded with extra computer time that year! Ha! These were the best behaved 8-year-olds you’ve ever seen. I know it sounds horrible that I was bribing them with screen time but what can I say, it was working. They were learning! Even my most struggling student was motivated to complete tasks when allowed to do so on the computer. I must tell you that this is also when I began to realize just how much of an impact technology could have on learning. I was so intrigued by the possibilities!
During 2006 my cellphone got a little upgrade. Remember that Motorola RAZR from 2005? Well, I loved it so much that I knew I needed the magenta pink version as soon as it hit the market. However, I’m usually not one to splurge on myself so I didn’t run out and buy it. My hubby however did, and surprised me with it for my birthday! He’s the best!
This was my lucky year! When a colleague passed up on the opportunity to get a SMART Board installed in her classroom, I jumped at the chance to get it into my own classroom. It was one of the best things that ever happened to my teaching career. No, seriously! I say this because it sparked a new passion in me. It brought new life to my lessons. It gave me a new sense of creativity. It engaged my students like never before and it simplified my work in so many ways. My days of creating visuals on poster boards and chart paper were now over. I could now create it all on the computer, revamp it and reuse it year after year. My classroom was transformed into an interactive learning arena with endless possibilities. We took virtual field trips, communicated with other classrooms across the country and both my students and I loved it!
If you have a school-aged kiddo you may have encountered a SMART Board in their classroom. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and want to learn more about the interactive whiteboards that have become a hot commodity in today’s classrooms, you can click here.
2007 was also the year I got my first iPod. Remember how I told you that I am not one to splurge on myself? Well, by the time 2007 rolled around I had wanted an iPod for some time but could not bring myself to spend the $$ on it. Once again my hubby surprised me for my birthday. I told you he’s the best! I loved my brand new electric blue iPod Mini. Until that moment I had listened to music on my flash-based Dell DJ Ditty MP3 player.
I remember spending hours sitting in front of my DELL desktop computer downloading music CD, after music CD into my iTunes library. And although I was in love with my new sleek Apple gadget, I could not bring myself to part ways with my little DJ Ditty. I continued using it as a flash drive to store documents. Actually, you won’t believe me if I tell you that I still own both my iPod Mini and my DJ Ditty. I do! They are like a little piece of tech history that I can’t seem to part ways with…
My son was born in 2008. What a magical time that was! My husband documented every little moment. All with that Canon camera from way back in 2005. Every evening after putting our baby boy to bed, the hubby (a.k.a. the proud papa) would download the pics of the day onto his HP laptop and we would sit together, click through each pic and marvel at every special moments of that day. Then one day disaster struck! That old HP laptop crashed and died and we lost months worth of photos. It was devastating to lose months of memories. We were determined to never let that happen again so we ran out and purchased a 2 terabyte external hard drive. From that point on we backed up every photo. 2 terabytes! We were sure that would give us infinite storage. Well, guess what? 7 years later and we’ve already burned through half of it! What can I say? We DO take tons and tons of pics! 🙂
This was the year that I became the technology teacher at my school. I was so inspired by how much my students loved to use technology and seeing how they embraced learning through technology pushed me to want to innovate and teach them in new ways. It motivated me to want to learn more about how technology could influence learning and engage students in authentic learning experiences. It was an exciting time! I felt like I was reinventing myself and working towards perfecting my craft.
When I took on this new role I didn’t realize just how much it would impact the type of teacher (and parent) that I would become. These new experiences quickly led me to better understand that technology, when used appropriately, could foster learning and encourage thinking, problem solving and creativity. It sparked my passion for educational technology and began to mold me into the tech-savvy teacher and mommy that I consider myself to be today.
2010 – 2011
During this time period my classroom was buzzing with kids trying new things, asking questions, collaborating, learning. It was wonderful to watch. I still remember the day my students got to use the classroom iPads for the first time. How excited they were! Of course those first few times were mostly play and exploration but eventually they went on to use it for great things. They learned to research topics of interests, practice skills through a variety of kid friendly apps, create digital stories and document their learning to later share with others. They asked questions about real world problems and created podcasts to share their thoughts with the world. They worked in teams to solve problems and began to take active roles in their own learning. It was a wonderful time!
My experiences with iPads in the classroom eventually transferred into my home life and I decided to buy one for my kid. By now my iPod had gotten an upgrade too and my son had learned to use my new iPod Touch to watch educational videos and play on educational apps. At the age of 3 he was already reading and completing simple math problems. All thanks to the exposure and practice he had experienced through apps on my iPod. I felt bad that he was doing all this work on such a small device so I gave in and invested in an iPad for him. He loved it! But I think I loved it more. See the pic below — he was taking selfies in no time. He’s too funny!
And yes some parents might be against screen time at such a young age but I’m all for it: in moderation, with purpose and supervision. More specifics warrants an entire other post. Maybe I’ll write one, one of these days 🙂
By 2011 my iPod mini had been tucked away in a desk drawer and my new iPod Touch was taking center stage. It changed how I completed daily tasks for work and at home. I was no longer just listening to music on my iPod! I was keeping calendars, taking notes, getting organized. I was amazed at how simple it was to link my school laptops, desktops, iPads and iPod to one iTunes account and have everything at my fingertips (somewhere in a cloud) no matter where I was or what device I was using.
During the summer of 2012 I was honored to receive a City Gardens Club of New York Scholarship and traveled to Hog Island in Maine to take part in Audubon’s Educator’s Week. What an amazing experience that was! That old Canon camera from 2005 was now long gone and I was using my new SONY Cyber-Shot camera to document every breathtaking scene I encountered along Maine’s Muscongus Bay. I learned practical approaches to bring environmental education curriculum into my classroom, met some wonderfully enthusiastic instructors and walked away with a wide array of approaches, methods, and activities for engaging both children and adults in learning about nature.
I also participated in workshops using techniques in art, music, theater, journaling, and other disciplines and participated in Audubon Camp field trips, including a boat trip to the restored Atlantic Puffin and Tern colony on Eastern Egg Rock (YES! I saw Puffins, highlight of my trip) intertidal explorations, and hiking through Hog Island’s unspoiled spruce-fir forest. During my trip I also worked on creating inquiry-based lessons on birds and other topics, and explored low and high-tech methods of teaching science. It was such an incredible learning experience!
You can view more images from my incredible 2011 summer experience by checking out my Flickr album. While on this trip I took a crash course in photography and snapped some pretty amazing photos. I was super proud of my new acquired photography skills, especially when my photos were selected to appear on the Audubon Hog Island website to promote the Sharing Nature program for educators. You can view my images on their website by clicking here.
Also, remember that girly Motorola RAZR from 2006 that I loved so much? It was long gone by now. In 2012 my hubby won the prize for best husband once more! Because as you’ve probably realized by now, I never buy new phones for myself. He eventually got me a new iPhone 4! Oh and how it changed my life!!!
Now that all my Apple products were in sync I began to focus on how apps could make my life at home and at school a bit simpler. 2012 was all about the apps! I discovered apps for just about everything and anything. At work my students were using apps to further their learning, create movies, take photos, document learning. I was using apps to keep a digital gradebook, track students and keep digital portfolios. At home I was keeping the family organized through apps, even keeping my finances in check through an app. My kid was using all kinds of apps too and I was even keeping his behavior in check through an app. Yep, there’s an app for that 🙂
Here’s just a short list of apps that I started using and fell in love with.
I still use these and more today!
ThisLife – Digital photo library intelligently organized and accessible across all your devices
Dropbox – Cloud storage that allows you to save and share files across devices and with others
Evernote – Tools to help you stay organized across all your devices
FreshGrade – Capture, document and communicate student learning through digital portfolios
Safe Note Classic – Password protected app that lets you create quick notes or store passwords all in one place.
Stop Motion Studio – Create beautiful stop motion animated movies on any device
Magisto – Magically turns your photos and videos into memorable movies you’ll love to watch
Class Dojo – Classroom management tool that delivers positive reinforcement in a fun way
Beep & Boop – A behavior system your kids will love!
BrainPop Jr. Movie of the Week App – Free and super fun animated movies for K-3 learners
Learning Videos by StoryBots – Fun musical videos featuring concepts like time, outer space, how the body works, vehicles and animals, and so much more! Kids love it!!!
Nighty Night! – Cute bedtime ritual app for young kids
I was having so much fun with technology in 2012. I even learned to create a google website and created one for my class so we could share learning with parents and explore the possibilities of a flipped classroom. If you’re curious about our learning, you can checkout our website by clicking here.
And if you’re like me, always on the hunt for cool new apps, you might want to also check out some of my app reviews here 🙂
In the summer of 2013 I was blessed with the incredible opportunity to become part of the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) Summer Pathways for Innovation Teaching Fellows Program and was granted the opportunity to work with Hive NYC and a group of Maker Education Initiative’s Maker Corps to gain experience teaching in informal settings (with a focus on making/doing as learning), and to develop and implement resources that aligned with the principles of Connected Learning as well as Common Core Standards. It was an incredible experience on so many levels, both professionally and personally. I’ve always considered myself a lifelong learner and to me this was the perfect learning experience. I even got to attend my first Maker Faire and got to check out a 3D printer for the first time. I loved every minute of it!
2013 was also the year that I was finally able to afford a little splurge on myself (thanks to that nice stipend I got from my summer work). I bought myself my very own new super sleek and sparkly MacBook Pro. I quickly discovered that the old – back in 2005 -MacBook had only been puppy love. Now this was true love! If you own one of these YOU KNOW! 😉
2014 brought incredible new experiences! By now I was working at a new innovative school that I truly loved, with a truly talented group of leaders and professionals. They inspired me on a daily basis! I became part of an incredible team of teachers that I eventually came to consider more than just colleagues. We formed bonds that made us friends and turned us into family. We became so close that during the Spring Break of 2014 we made plans to travel to China together. It was the trip of a lifetime, one to cross off from our bucket lists. Tickets were purchased and itineraries planned and then I received the most amazing news ever. I was pregnant!
Wow! That was unexpected but so very welcomed. We were over the moon with this news. Shortly there after we discovered that we were expecting a girl. That made it even more special! But Yikes! I was supposed to go to China!
Well tickets for the China trip had already been purchased and planned and like my husband said “you’re pregnant, not dead, so no reason to not go”. He truly is the best! Always supportive in everything I do. So off I went to China, with my baby bump.
In October 2014 our baby girl completed our little family. I feel so blessed to be her mom.
And yes! We’ve already taken thousands of pics of this little princess. Only difference is that by the time she was born I had a new phone. Yeah, you guessed it, another gift from the hubby. This photo above was taken with my iPhone 5C (in my favorite color, blue). We rarely use our camera anymore. I’m keeping my photos mostly in the cloud these days. The hubby and I now share photos via shared PhotoStreams. I also have all my photos uploading automatically to my Dropbox account. The hubby and I also share an account on the ThisLife app (you can check out my app review here). I’m telling you! Technology really does make my life so much simpler. 🙂
My hubby still has a fear of losing precious memories so every now and then he will still backup all of our photos to that hard drive from back in 2008
A lot is happening right now in 2015.
I started this little blog space in 2015. Here’s why.
My son turns six this summer and I’m planning a party.
My baby girl will turn 1 this year. I can’t wait!
The hubby upgraded my phone AGAIN! Because he knows what I need, because it was Mother’s Day and because he knows I’m too cheap (let’s face it) to get one for myself. Can you guess what I got? Let’s just say I might already be cheating on my MacBook Pro. Hahaha! That’s how much I love my new iPhone! Forget the cameras, the flashdrives, external hard drives, iPods and iPads. With this new baby, plus a few good apps, I can manage it all from right here! I really don’t know how I ever lived without it!