Holiday Cheer

It’s the holiday season, and I love this time of year. I taught high school English for over 15 years, and during that time, one of my favorite things to do this time of year was to break out the Robert Frost poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. It is a favorite

because of one of the interpretations you can read into the poem that connects directly to the holiday season. Here is the poem:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.


I let the students read through the poem a couple of times. We talk about diction and rhyme and structure, and get all of those analytical things taken care of. It is a beautiful and pastoral. But then I get all Christmas on them and ask them to identify the speaker. Go ahead and read it again, I’ll wait. Still don’t have it? Well let’s see if I can guide you there.

So who do we know that knows what you are doing, who is always watching?

Who comes to visit around “the darkest evening of the year,” winter solstice?

Whose beast of burden, “little horse,” would think it queer to “stop without a farmhouse near?”

What kind of person puts bells that jingle on their harness?

Who, around this time of year, has promises to keep, and a long, long journey to make over one night?

That’s right kids, it’s Santa. Go look back and see how well that fits. Pretty well, right?

While it may not be what Frost intended, it is a valid and supported reading of the text, and when you place some of the evidence in the right light, or pull some details out and highlight them like the questions above point you to do, it all leads up to, as Sinatra and others sang, I mean the big fat man with the long white beard.

Misreading or not, it is a fun exercise and all the kids get a kick out of it. And if I can open their eyes to maybe see that poetry isn’t so bad, then that is good too.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.






Conference Overview- California Educational Technology Professionals Association, Pasadena, Ca Nov. 14-17, 2017

Astronaut Fun! Overall take on the conference

Tom’s Take Away- John Morgan and the One thing they did at Capo Unified to make their PD great and timely and applicable to their whole organization

Mike’s Take Away-1:1 Rollouts by other districts, Andrew Schwab, wireless shoutout (Unite, Apple TV, AirTame, ScreenBeam, NovoPro), Capstone w/ Capo USD, Future Ready (Rocklin, Pomona, Davis school districts)

Exhibit Hall Madness!

IACUE Presentation and what to expect and how to visit us

Flipgrid Ambassador and licenses


One Thing at a time

A few months ago, I read a book called “The One Thing” by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, and found myself enchanted by the seemingly simple ways to keep focus and to really work on being better One Thing at a time. It was a great read and I was able to adapt some of the ideas into my workflow and work ethic to make my life and work a little more focused and deliberate.

But recently I attended CETPA 2017, and went to a session by Dr.  John Morgan, Director of EdTech for Capistrano Unified that changed the way I viewed the book and the way I am now approaching teacher training for my district.

John’s presentation about their district transformation was great, and in Capo Unified, they focused on one thing to help their teachers integrate technology- Google Slides. It was the “One Thing” that made the teachers see they could innovate and bring their current tools with them on the journey. So much of the time teachers fear change because they think that by embracing technology and learning about new tools means they need to abandon old tools and ways of doing things. With the “One Thing” model, teachers could bring their bag of tricks with them and use just one tool to tech it up.

I think that the ease of use and the “One Thing” attitude can be helpful in my current district when approaching technology integration. We are a Microsoft district, and so we have extensive training on OneNote, which is a great classroom app. I think that by concentrating on just training for OneNote, we could lower anxiety and concentrate efforts in training to get more teachers trained, excited and using tech than before. The beauty of OneNote being our one platform is that is very versatile.  Our tech-anxious teachers can learn and explore the basics of student rostering, digitizing curriculum and collaborating online, building their confidence and tech acumen. Our more advanced or tech literate teachers can explore some of the advanced features like embedding content from PowerPoint, Forms, videos off the net, and even interactive apps like Flipgrid and Discovery Education, which can be placed right into a OneNote page for ease of access and use.

By boiling down our Tech outreach and training to “One Thing” -OneNote in this case, we can maximize our professional developments and create a manageable system of training, supporting and expanding our teacher’s tech use and student experience. Thanks John for sharing your experiences and for inspiring our simplified and focused tech integration strategy!

TTTP055- Black Friday Special

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

TTTP053- Fall CUE and the Podfather

FallCue 2017 and the Podfather

  • Thursday 10/26
    • Need you to present right now! (Audio in the Classroom)
    • Sketch 50 w/ Misty Kluesner & Cate Tolnai
    • No room for you!
  • Friday 10/27
    • Playtime in the STEAMpunk Playground Ozobots and Spheros
      • Helping to set-up, more than willing…
    • Digital Breakout Edu with Microsoft OneNote with Maria Turner & Melinda Richwine
    • Circuit Studies with Makey-Makeys with Rick Phelan
    • Better Together Learning Network
    • Aurdino: What is it what do I do with it? with David Platt, Heidi Baynes and special guest Roger Wagner of Hyperduino and Hyperstudio
  • Saturday 10/28
    • Tried to get into Lesson Builder’s Fair session with Jon Corippo and Lindsey Blass Absolutely packed, next time.
    • Went to with David Thornburg and his wife Norma -STEAM curriculum areas with 3D printers, Arduinos, micro:bits and other new tools for the K-12 classroom.
    • with Jennifer Harrison Principal, Tustin Unified School District and Traci DiLellio Teacher Grades 3/4, Tustin Unified School District
    • with Monica Bennett and Valerie Sun
    • Finally, with Heidi Baynes TOSA-Instructional Technology, San Jacinto Unified School District, Gabrielle Henderson, Denise Leonard, Mark Synnott, Joseph Williams and again special guest Roger Wagner.
  • Sunday 10/29 Podfather Leo Laporte
    • check out about the hour and fifteen minute mark to see us in the studio, and a sticker of ours on Leo’s Desk.

My Visit with the Podfather

This weekend I crossed something off my bucket list- a visit to Eastside Studios and meeting a geek God, Leo Laporte. of “The Screen Savers” and “The Tech Guy” shows.

I have been listening to Leo forever, and cannot honestly remember a time when I wasn’t tuning into KFI on the weekends or firing up the TWIT app and tuning in for episodes of “The Tech Guy.” Being a lover of tech and all things geeky, “The Tech Guy” show has been my go to place to tech news and reviews, help when things go wonky ( is one of the best resources for tech help/news/reviews on the internet). He and his show are my dose of tech geekiness that completes my weekend, and when I can’t listen I feel out of the loop on tech news.

I have wanted to visit the studio and see where the magic happens for years, especially after being able to see him live on the app, which supplies a video feed as well as audio of the show. Work circumstances placed me in Northern California last weekend, and I emailed the show to see if I could get tickets to the show, and lo and behold, I was told there was space.

The experience was awesome. From the pleasant studio staff to Leo himself, they all hit it out of the park!  Leo has a down-to-earth style and is easy to talk to. He was interested in the things I am doing, and I loved geeking out with him about our shared love of everything tech. I was also amazed (and crazy envious) by the amount of tech loaded into his office studio, from the 12 monitors surrounding the room to the 6 or 7 devices he was interacting with during the show (Note 8, Galaxy Tablet, iPad, surface book/pro, Linux computer, MacBook). I get flustered talking and working a computer at the same time for my screencasts, and here he is switching camera angles, working his mixer, bringing up callers, researching questions online. He was a multi-tasking wizard. And on top of all that, I was impressed by his genuine interest in helping each and every caller, staying on with almost all of them through commercials and taking the time to make sure they were helped or pointed in the right direction.

He made me feel like a friend coming to visit, and I loved watching the magic happen during the show both on and off the air. We talked about everything: his new Barbeque grill (ceramic, nice!), and AI tech and watching him pose for his Amazon Echo Look, and even my podcast, and instantly relating shared experiences of being prepared on the go and always having the right dongle for the job. We could have spent all day talking about the awesome history of tech he has hidden behind his desk (old iPods, palm pilots, phones and cameras from tech past). It was an experience I will not soon forget.

Thank you, Leo, for being the example and the standard by which I measure my success in my role of helping with tech. I strive to be as relatable, patient, helpful, and geeky as you. If our little show can help even the tiniest percentage of people you do, I will consider it time well spent!

TTTP052- Don’t Forget your Dongle


Episode 52

  • SGVCUE Wrap up- highlights and good take aways
    • SGVCUE Board did an amazing job
    • Superintendent and board member Armando Barajas
    • Ann Kozma
    • Playground
    • Coordination and prep work, wow
    • Lessons learned from hosting our first CUE tech conf. (wear comfortable shoes!, bring extra dongles and connectors, ask for as much help and volunteers as possible!)
      • Jason, Katie, David, James, Christine, Kistrina, Kris, Matt, Jose, Valerie, April
  • FallCUE
    • Looking forward to:
      • Connecting with Friends
      • Getting some good PD ideas- digital Breakout EDU w/ OneNote
      • Sharing our expertise in STEAMpunk and ConntectedTL playgrounds
      • Visiting the podfather Leo Laporte
    • Working In:
      • STEAMPUNK Playground
      • Better Together TOSAchat and ConnectedTL Joint venture
    • Other highlighted sessions
    • Brad Montague
  • Congrats to Covina High Launching their podcast! Covina High Tech Tips with Tech Squad