Dear Teachers,

I just got back from a fabulous experience: participating in the Google for Education Certified Innovators Academy and becoming an official Google Innovator! My husband asked me in the airport on the way home, “Do you feel any different?” I thought about that question for a few seconds before I answered; the reply was a resounding yes, but maybe not for the reasons I was originally expecting. cupcake

But before I get into that, I thought I would share with you some of the trip’s lagniappes, a term that was the subject of one of the Spark sessions by the fabulous Tinashe Blanchet. A lagniappe, as you likely read above, is an unexpected something extra. I experienced so many lagniappes on my trip to London, it’s hard to know where to begin. The first memorable one was this lovely gift that showed up in our hotel room the evening before the Academy began. Totally unexpected and made me feel so happy and excited and optimistic about the following day’s adventures! Many thanks to Wendy Gorton and Becky Evans at Google for starting us out on such a fun note!

The second lagniappe (although not an entirely unexpected one) was the Oh-My-Gawd experience of being at the Google offices. The entire Academy experience would have been indescribably amazing if it had all taken place in a barn, but having it in the Google meeting rooms really put the icing on the (ahem) cupcake. We were treated like royalty for the three days of the Academy, getting a glimpse of what it would be like to be (and eat like) a Googler. In addition to the incredible information we learned on the design thinking process and how to apply that to our innovation projects, we heard some inside scoop about what it takes to become a Googler, what’s on the horizon for Google for Education products, and the future of Chrome.

Physical lagniappes included some of this deliciously nerdy swag: innovatorcollage

Tinashe encouraged all of us to include lagniappes in our work with students, to look for the lagniappes in our innovation projects, and to be the lagniappes that others might need. Being a lagniappe for others is something I’d never really considered before; that’s a humbling yet challenging idea. But it makes sense; of course it’s the people and relationships in our lives that bring us our biggest lagniappes.


So, when I thought about my husband’s question – about whether I felt changed by the experience – I realized I’d been wrong about my expectations. Before I left, if I’d thought about it at all, I probably would’ve said that “feeling different” would be about finally making it into the cool kids’ club. A lifelong nerd, I had assumed that I would somehow feel like I’d finally arrived or belonged. And – not gonna lie – it is pretty stinkin’ awesome to be in the Innovators’ club. But the real feeling of “changed-ness” comes from having had the pleasure and privilege of meeting all of the wonderful, brilliant, committed educators who are now not only lifelong professional contacts, but also friends. The capital-F kind of friends, like those you meet at camp, who bond over shared experiences and inside jokes (#wehadacartwheel) and memories. They’re the friends who make you cry upon leaving them because they’re just such genuinely good people and the thought of not seeing them again for ages makes you sad. The friends who change you for the better.

Now that’s a lagniappe.



On Not Being the Smartest Person in the Room

Dear Teachers,

Growing up, I was usually among the “smart kids” in my classes. Learning (or at least, getting good grades) came easily to me all the way through elementary school. And then I hit 8th grade, and Algebra. I just couldn’t get it; it made no sense whatsoever to me, and back then there was no such thing as “promoting a growth mindset.” I just knew that for the first time in my life, something was hard, and I had to work at it. I assumed that all the other information I had gathered about myself as a good student was simply wrong, and that I must be “bad at math.” Grades in my other classes slipped as well, and so I began to experiment with a new identity: that of Not That Great a Student. I wasn’t exactly comfortable in that persona but with no one telling me otherwise, I tried it out for a while to see how it fit. I didn’t much like it, and have always regretted that slide in my grades and my reputation. Continue reading

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ – Keep Those Chromebooks Rollin’!

Dear Teachers,

It’s an exciting time in our district. We have 8 elementary campuses that are going 1:1 with Chromebooks this spring. A couple of schools already have their Chromebooks, and the other 6 will have them by the end of April. After about two decades of having 5-7 computers per class, this is an enormous paradigm shift,  and one that most teachers are eagerly embracing! Continue reading

About that Google Innovator Thing…

Dear Teachers,

Guess what? The third time really was the charm for me: I was accepted yesterday into the Google Innovator program, for my plot to take over the world CLICK project! It was a whirlwind of a day, between paying attention to all the emails from the Innovator program, the hundreds of laudatory tweets from and about my new tribe (#lon17 and #GoogleEI), and the Hangout chat that kept pinging on my phone. And oh yeah, trying to get my actual job done! I am still a bit stunned, to be honest. I feel like I’m finally in the cool kids’ club (and believe me, I’ve pretty much NEVER been in the cool kids’ club).


Continue reading

Digital Citizenship as Standard Operating Procedure

Dear Teachers,

I was working with my friend Julie Paddock today on our presentation for NCCE in a couple of weeks. I say “our” presentation, but it is really going to be all Julie; although I had originally hoped to be heading to Portland to co-present with her, it didn’t work out that way. So I’ll be Skyping in (barring any technology failures) and moderating the Padlet that Julie will be using for the backchannel chat. (Aside: honestly, how cool is that, that I’ll be able to participate in a conference in the Pacific Northwest from down here in Texas? It’s such a fun time to be in Education!) Continue reading

Numbers 36, 37, and 38 in My Plot to Take Over the World

Dear Teachers,

CLICK has gotten three submissions in the past two days, bumping up the number of student-created tech tips from 35 to 38. One is a graphic about coloring a folder by a 4th grader, and you can find that one here. You can find some tips on Keyboard Commands, also by a 4th grader, on this page. And if you have ever wondered about the Rules of Texting, check out the suggestions by two middle schoolers here. Continue reading