Monday, November 30, 2015

All Good Things Must Come to an End: A Reflection

It is hard to believe that my fall semester of my junior year is coming to an end. When I first began my IT 365 course, I felt a little intimidated by what was expected. I remember wondering to myself, how am I ever going to learn this? Now that it has ended, however, I can give myself a pat on the back for learning everything that I have.

I have learned standards for what teachers are expected to know and reside to as a teacher. I have learned how to create and save a concept map to teach my students a creative and fun way to come up with a flow chart. I have also learned that there are a variety of tools online for students to use, and most importantly there are so many free sites out there that allow teachers to use their products to enhance students' learning all for free!

My strong points include being able to research and teach myself how to complete a project. I also find myself very resourceful in finding the best-of-the-best sites and resources to use. I think of this as my strong point simply because I was a blogger prior to going back to school full-time. I would research and promote different companies, and that took a lot of time and effort on my part.

A weakness that I have is being confident in my ability to create something meaningful for my students. I have to constantly remind myself that as long as I work hard and put forth my best effort, my students will benefit from me and my knowledge of technology. I recognize this as a weakness because it is something I battle internally with every class and every day decision making in my life.

My future learning goal to improve on this weakness is to build my self-confidence and continue with exploring everything that the Internet has to offer. I want to find teacher blogs that have incredible resources, and find teachers whole styles complement my own. I feel if I surround myself with positive resources and ideas, that I will succeed and be even better for it which each passing day.

I plan on using technology in my classroom; that is a must! My favorite idea is to create a classroom blog for my parents. I struggle with keeping paper reminders, and think that if I also incorporate a digital website, that my classroom parents will enjoy that. I miss seeing my children every day, and really enjoy being able to see my children in their classroom element. By providing pictures (with faces/identities kept safe and private), class updates, what we are learning, a calendar, and spelling guides, that I will benefiting not only the parents, but also my students.

I enjoyed this course very much. I learned so much more than I already knew about technology in the classroom. I am confident that I will benefit all of my future students with fun and exciting ways to learn.

Assisting with Assistive Technology

In today's classroom, students all work together inclusively. What does this mean exactly? This means that a student is not singled out to a separate classroom for a learning disorder. Classrooms are now considered all-inclusive to include every student regardless if there is a learning disorder.

With the all-inclusive classroom comes preparing future teachers for teaching students that may have a learning disability. With the PowerPoint presentation below, I have given many examples of ways that a teacher may teach a student who may need assistance in a particular area. This can include eyesight, hearing, and restricted use of a hand or an arm.

Some ways that I found to assist my students was by listing a variety of free photo websites and free sound file websites. These websites were all visited by me to ensure that they were what they said they were, and I hand picked my top three for each category.

I also screen captured what to do for a student who is visually impaired. Perhaps they were a low vision computer user; I took a screenshot as to what this should look like for the student, and also for teachers to know exactly what it should look like for that student.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Teacher's Best Friend

Teachers are realizing that technology can be a blessing in the classroom and especially as a way to communicate with parents and guardians. There have been many times that I remember one of my children losing their calendar, or perhaps I deleted an email from my daughter's teacher that I should not have deleted.

Enter Google Sites. Google Sites is free (yay for free!) and it allows someone to build and totally customize their own website. I was able to find a free background for my blog via an online scrapbooking website to spruce my site up a little. I added in an about me section, created a calendar,

Here is a screenshot of my website, Mrs. Garza's Fabulous First Graders:

I had a lot of fun creating this website and really wish that my daughters' teachers would use a free website. I feel that I already did a lot of the legwork in designing it and creating it, now I will update it once I have my own classroom full of students. I can include my class calendar for homework, field trips, and special dates; a school calendar; an about me page; as well as a list of important and valuable online resources for my parents to use with their children at home.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Google Groups

Google is truly a one-stop shop for so many things. A great way for teachers to create a group assignment in older students is Google Groups. Google Groups is a way for a group of students to work together online. All the student needs is an email address and access to a computer.

For my IT class we created a fiction story on Google Docs. From Google Docs I created a few paragraphs to begin our project. It was titled An Unlikely Love Story. It was about a bird and squirrel that fell in love, although very unlikely.

Below is the snippet that I created:

There once were two animals that ended up falling in love. It wasn’t always a harmonious connection, you see. These two animals were more different than night and day. You see, one was a bird and one was a squirrel. Their story began one cold October morning.
The wind was blowing hard and the acorns were falling from the tree faster than Scotty the squirrel could gather them. With his arms full, acorns were dropping left and right as he ran up the giant oak tree where he has lived for years.
“Ouch!” cried a voice down below.
Scotty stopped what he was doing and peered down below between the bare branches. Not seeing anything he ran back up the tree, dropping acorns as he went on his merry way.
“Ouch!” cried the voice again.
Scotty stopped and peeked once again. This time he saw the most beautiful bird he had ever seen.
“Are you okay?” he asked the beautiful bird.
“No,” huffed the bird as her feathers shook off the acorn remnants. “I am NOT okay.”(Karen Garza)

My group members then added their own paragraphs until we had a complete story. I loved this assignment!

Another great Google Groups idea is to create a slide presentation. I created a lesson about learning contractions. I was then able to share this with my group members via email. I loved seeing everything that they created!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Web Tools 2.0

There will be times that I will need worksheet ideas for my students. I am thinking ahead to the future to when I have students who may need extra guidance and assistance when learning new ideas. Maybe I will have a parent request extra practice sheets for his or her child. There may even be times that I have a parent that is wanting to have a list of handy websites for his or her child for those long holiday and summer breaks.

Enter ABCteach. ABCteach is an excellent resource to have on hand for spelling, math, handwriting, and more. Below is my worksheet that I used for my future students.

I also have an answer key for my worksheet that I can pass along to any parent that requests it.

Another fun learning resource for students is creating a crossword puzzle for my students. I remember using crossword puzzles as a way to study when I was back in school. allows you to put in clues, and then create a crossword with the answers. Crosswords are a fun way for students to learn, but they don't feel like it is tedious homework. It can also be used for class parties as a way to fill the time.

How many times have you tried to study for an exam only to not know which study method works best for you? Enter Quizlet. With Quizlet a student (or teacher) can create a way that works for them to study. I created a multiple choice test to study. I found this method to be one of my favorites; especially with so much learning being online now. Technology is improving daily and I feel like this will be beneficial to our future students.

Why Be Boring?

There have been many times that I have visited an office, a classroom, or even a home, where the decor is a little less eye-catching. As a future teacher it is extremely important to me to have a classroom that my students want to come into every day. I want colors that make them feel safe, I want ideas posted on my walls to make them feel inspired, and I want learning centers that make them feel the need to learn.

A project that fits all of these descriptions is from the website, Wordle. This website has a variety of ways for a teacher to inspire his or her students by creating pictures with words.

For this project I had my main topic be adjectives. Wordle made that word all capital letters. I then came up with a list of adjectives to surround my main topic. I love this topic for this project for many reasons. The first being that I can print this and frame it at any size in my classroom. If I am teaching my students about adjectives, what better way to inspire them than to have a creative picture showcasing different adjectives. Writing doesn't come naturally for all students; I want to have the ability to inspire them even when I am not there talking to them. Wordle has made that possible. 

I would like to do other parts of a sentence for a future Wordle project. Nouns, verbs, and adverbs would all be a lot of fun to create, print, and hang up on a wall of inspiration for my students. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

New Title: Movie Producer

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to make my own movie. In my mind I would be sitting in a director's chair yelling out, "Cut!" and rewriting scenes as we went. I recently got the chance to make my own movie, and let me tell you, it was an incredible experience. Okay, it wasn't quite the movie producing dream that I have had my sights set on, but it was a fun experience and one that will be a great skill to have and use in my classroom.

My movie was based on my family. I have a husband and four children, and my husband was deployed for two of the four pregnancies. To say my life has been blessed is an understatement. I loved going back in time to those moments that I realized I was pregnant, and to those sacred moments after my babies were born.

The movie was created in Movie Maker. This program allowed me to 100% customize my film, from the photos, music, font, colors, to the transitions and speed of each slide. The final copy blew my mind, and I'm not going to lie, it made me tear up.

All in all, this was a great project to use and there are many ways that I can incorporate this into my future classrooms.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Concept Maps: What a Concept!

Concept maps; we have all heard about them, but how do we use one in the classroom? I created one for language arts in the 2nd grade. If you haven't noticed by now, I am a book nerd. I have one laying in the chair next to me in class, just in case I get done early and have a little time to sneak in a page or two or three.

My love of literature is what I am known for in my family. My parents, my siblings, my husband, and my children are aware of my obsession with reading. I took this obsession and turned it into a project to use for my future students.

My main idea of the map was 'Books for Second Graders'. I then made branches off of that main topic for my subtopics. My subtopics were: 'Girl Main Characters', 'Boy Main Characters', 'Fantasy', 'Animal Characters', and 'Mysteries'. From each subtopic I gave two book ideas for each one of the categories. Some of my book choices were more recent, while others were classics that I grew up with.

Teachers can use concept maps for any subject. offers a great app as well as a free trial for teachers to try it out before they purchase it. Once there, the realm of possibilities is endless. After the map is created there is an opportunity to write notes on a separate screen. This would be great for a teacher to jot down key main points that he or she would like to discuss with her students.

Taking the Guesswork Out of a Rubric

By a show of hands, how many of you have painstakingly created a rubric by scratch? No templates, no websites, you straight up made yourself a rubric and loved it? I did, too, until I was introduced to RubiStar.

This website is a must for all teachers, whether you are an old pro, or you are a student learning about teaching. You simply visit and then get started. On the homepage there is a list of different subjects into which you want to create a rubric for. I chose Reading for my subject. From there it will list different subareas for your subject.

RubiStar offered already created rubrics, create your own rubrics, as well as an option to add onto an already created rubric. Below is a picture of my created rubric that I chose. I love how it turned out! One of the hardest things with grading is figuring out how you will grade, how to deduct points, what makes a project worth a perfect score, etc. RubiStar took out a lot of the guess work for me.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Originality is Best

I recently had an opportunity to play around with Turnitin. If you are unsure of what Turnitin is, it is an incredible tool to assist teachers in flagging plagiarized work. The student uploads their paper within this program. Turnitin then processes and gives the student a percentage of what is plagiarized.  Most teachers will have a percentage for the student to keep their plagiarized number under. For example, my class had to keep ours under twenty-five percent for the specific assignment.

This assignment was two-fold. The first being to plagiarize a report to see what it means to plagiarize. After my submission I received a 98%! That is NOT a good number.

For the second part, my assignment had to be under twenty-five percent. I received a 2%. So much better than that prior 98%, wouldn't you say?

When I went through high school in the 90s there was no Turnitin software loaded on my school's computer system. Everything was turned in by hand, by a typewriter. I cannot imagine how hard it was for professors to flag plagiarism. Now teachers use Turnitin and this helps catch students who cheat as well as it helps students get a feel for what true plagiarism really is.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reflecting Back to My Concept Map

Books for Second Graders
I recently had an opportunity to create a concept map for a grade and subject of my choosing. Me, being a lover of all things English and Literature Arts, chose 2nd grade Language Arts. My map created an easy-to-follow diagram of books for second grade students, both boys and girls. 

I had five different categories: Mysteries, Animal Characters, Boy Main Characters, Girl Main Characters, and Fantasy. I didn't want to label any category 'books for girls' or 'books for boys'. I never want one of my students to feel as if because they like books with an opposite sex main character that that is a bad thing. 

With each main topic I chose two different books that fit into the specific genre that I came up with. I had a lot of fun browsing books that sounded like great reads, and that had interesting main characters. Many of these books were older books being published before my year of birth (1979), and others were newer releases. I included the book titles and authors for my students to write down and have an easy access to finding these books at the library.

Off of my fantasy main topic I had a book called Journey. This book is truly incredible. I bought it for my own children and they adore it. The great thing about Journey is that there are no words! Each student has their own journey that they create in their mind as they read. I branched off of Journey to add two more thought bubbles. In these thought bubbles I created what the book is about and why I love this book so much so that I recommend it to my students.

I loved making a concept map and can see it being used in a variety of different ways for my classroom. It isn't as easy as it looks to create. You need to have colors that will capture your students' eyes, but you don't want the colors so obnoxious that it makes it difficult to read or distracting. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

ISTE Standards

ISTE stands for International Society for Technology in Education. This organization has an international scope which focuses on the improvement of both teaching and learning through an effective integration of technology from grades pre-kindergarten through 12th as well as for teacher education. With membership to this organization comes many different opportunities for the member to include information, opportunities for networking, and guidance to integrate technology into the classroom. ISTE provides many different resources on their website,, to include links to bookstores that offer publications to help guide the technology using teacher, a monthly journal, a yearly conference, a multitude of resources that share ideas about integrating technology into the classroom, the National Educational Technology Standards for teachers (NETS-T), students (NETS-S), and administrators (NETS-A).

The ISTE standards are as follows:

1. Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity

Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments. a. Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources c. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes d. Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments

2. Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments

Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the Standards•S. a. Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity b. Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress c. Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources d. Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards, and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching

3. Model digital age work and learning

Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society. a. Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations b. Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation ISTE Standards Teachers International Society for Technology in Education Effective teachers model and apply the ISTE Standards for Students (Standards•S) as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; enrich professional practice; and provide positive models for students, colleagues, and the community. All teachers should meet the following standards and performance indicators. c. Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats d. Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning

4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices. a. Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources b. Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources c. Promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information d. Develop and model cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures using digital age communication and collaboration tools

5. Engage in professional growth and leadership

Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources. a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning b. Exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others c. Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning d. Contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and selfrenewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community

Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Introduction

Hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet. Before I go any further, I would like to tell you a little about myself and who I am, where I come from.

I was raised in a mid-size city called Springfield, Missouri. I lived here from before kindergarten through the age of 21. A month into my 21st year I joined the Air Force where I served from July of 2000 until July of 2007. In that short amount of time I lived in Texas, Turkey, and deployed for approximately six months to Balad, Iraq.

I am a mom of four children ages 7, 6, 4, and 2 years old (three girls and one boy). My husband has been in the Air Force for over 18 years.

My dream has always been to be an elementary teacher. After the military and being a stay at home mom I decided to make my one time dream become a reality. It has been a great journey thus far, and I am excited with the possibilities that my future holds in the school system

The purpose of the blogfolio is to keep a permanent portfolio of all of my work. This is both important and useful because when I receive my teaching certification I will have this collection of work to go back and utilize as needed. It is a great idea and concept, as well as a great way to ensure it doesn't get destroyed an/or deleted as paper files or files on a computer. It is also a great idea because as a teacher we need to be schooled on technology frequently and keep up with our students, as well as learn about technology so we can ensure our future students will be taught with appropriate information.