Okay, if you read back on this blog at all, you’ll see it’s been 3 years since I posted! I always have good intentions but it just doesn’t always work out.

This year, I hope to be different. This year, I have goals. I put some posters behind my desk at school to provide some motivation for blogging, for trying new things in the classroom, and for really pushing ahead with my PD efforts this year.

So, what did I do with my summer to prepare? As a business/computer teacher who teaches much technology, I can’t ever really take off… there’s too much “new” to learn every year!

June: Well, I started this off with a bang! I actually participated in Missouri DESE Tech Week and presented in Columbia, Missouri, to a group of teachers for three days. We did Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop training. I love to do computer trainings (especially all day for multiple days) because it forces me to come up with new ideas and activities for my own classroom. The website is here if you want to see what we did!  After that, I took some time off with my husband and spent two weeks in Colorado celebrating our 20th anniversary (and we started binge watching How I Met Your Mother).

July: I enjoyed some rest and relaxation in July and prepped for a trip to Arizona for the Arizona ACTE conference, which was in Tucson just recently. This was a 3 1/2 hour workshop for teachers and I had a blast. Here is the info for that one.  I also attended two online conference Teachers Leading Teachers 2015 and the 30 Goals Conference. And, I participated in an online book study that ends today for the book Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day…Now Matter What!  I’ll talk more about some of that in the future. I got “really into” webinars and attended probably 10 different ones through SimpleK12. I also decided to do Google training so I could get Google Certified Educator Level 1 certification, which I achieved this week. And, I submitted a proposal for Edcamp Global, which starts tonight.  Oh, and Sunday is our Future Business Leaders of America officer training, so I worked on those materials (finished that Wednesday!). So, in retrospect, I guess I was pretty busy in July (the last half, anyway).

I’m pretty excited about the new school year. I am thrilled to try a few new things, add some new tools I experimented with this summer to my toolbox, and to just really try to make a difference in the lives of my students. I want to make this year legend-wait for it-ary!

My thoughts on the first day of school…

My thoughts on the first day of school…

I just returned from the MoACTE/MBEA summer conference. This conference is great and always gets me motivated to get back to school and get focused on the upcoming school year.

One session I attended was on dealing with disruptive students. The speaker, Chris, talked about many of Harry Wong’s strategies on “the first days of school” and the importance of focusing on procedures. So, I thought I would share with you my first days plans and how I go about setting the tone for my classroom for day 1.

First, don’t focus on RULES. Focus on PROCEDURES and EXPECTATIONS. Instead of saying, “Don’t run into the room as the bell rings and race to your seat or you will be tardy” my expectation is that you should “Be in your seat, logged on to the computer, and at the class website starting on the bellringer when the bell rings.”  You can have fun with this…use the “how not” strategy and illustrate how NOT to do something. One example of that in my classroom is that I sit in a chair (I have rolling chairs) and I roll across the room to the pencil sharpener to sharpen my pencil. This is not appropriate in my room as they are to keep chairs at the desks. So, I make a big “song and dance” act to roll dramatically across the room and then ask what is wrong with that picture.  Procedures can be a little boring. I do a “Following Directions Follies” activity I adapted that gets them thinking about some of my ways. See attachment to check that out. It’s lots of fun.

Second, revisit the procedures frequently. Remind students. Post posters. Make sure that you model the appropriate behavior at any opportunity. For example, I have a “just do it” policy for sharpening the pencil. You don’t have to ask; get up and go. So, if someone asks to sharpen a pencil, I answer with, “Sure, Bobby…but as a reminder to everyone, you can just get up to sharpen a pencil. No need to ask.” Or if someone asks to go to the bathroom, I ask the class, “How do we leave the room properly? Right, pick up a form at the front door, fill it out and hand it to me. No need to announce to everyone that you need a potty break.”

Third, have something in writing. I hand out a class procedures manual on day 2 that we go over together, using role playing and modeling along the way. We do “review” online activities as bell ringer that first week that reinforce the procedures. It’s here– http://quizlet.com/1073490/jhs-procedures-flash-cards/

Then, about a week or so after that, we take a test (multiple choice). And, you have to master it and retake it until you prove you understand my expectations. If someone violates an expectation, I open the manual, highlight it in yellow, and hand it back to them as a reminder. And, they are supposed to keep it in their class folder, so I’ve been known to ask people to show me, just like a police man checking for your driver’s license.

And, some “new” ideas I plan to incorporate this year (depending on the class) include:

  • Bucket List—Hand out a paper with a bucket on it and have students create a “Bucket List” of things they hope to accomplish this year/semester. Revisit this periodically to see how they are coming along.
  • Guessing Game—Give them a series of true and false statements about the content of the course and have them guess the right answers.

Summer… the biggest perk of teaching! :)

So, it’s summer. It’s already a few days into July. I’m starting to “think” about school again…in between hanging out at the pool and reading on my Kindle, of course. And, I have a few random thoughts as I start to ponder my new school year.

1–My children go to a different school district than I teach and this is the first year for a formal dress code there. I’ve been gathering collared polo shirts, khaki skirts and pants, etc., over the summer (yay, Goodwill!). The policy is not that strict in that it allows blue jeans and jean shorts and any color polo top. So, that’s cool. But, tucking in shirts, belts, and skirts/shorts being no more than 2 inches above the knee isn’t fun. Don’t get me wrong–I teach high school. I see how the girls in my school dress. It’s not good. They aren’t supposed to wear tank tops and do, and I have seen more neon bras under white shirts to last me a lifetime, and seriously, cover your rear end. But, my 6 year old can’t tuck in a shirt for anything. And, my super skinny 10 year old can’t get shorts long enough to fit her skinny waist and meet dress code without looking Amish (sorry, Amish people) so I have to search high and low for capri pants. So, it’s a little challenging. My kids hate jeans, too, so that didn’t help much. What’s funnier is that I actually stress about it. I mean, I am measuring these things. I wonder how many other parents are actually going to the trouble??

2–I’m starting a new class this fall–Applied Business Communication–that will be for ELA credit as well. It’s the first of its kind in Missouri. I have worked on this curriculum some, but I need to get organized. The new common core standards is throwing me off… I really need to focus.

So, yes, I am enjoying summer… but I am starting to dread my lack of preparedness (even though it’s not “prepare” time yet). Meanwhile, I will probably just jump back on Facebook and post pictures of my 200 calorie lunch or pull out the Kindle and go out for some rays.

Gotta love being a teacher! 🙂

Recipe: Coffee Choco Pudding Shake (80 calories!)

So, one of my big weight loss weaknesses is chocolate.. specifically a Mocha Frap from Starbucks. So good. But, I have found a generally low-cost way to make something just as good with my awesome Ninja blender (I love that thing!). Here’s my recipe after some tweaking!


2 T instant coffee

2 T sugar free chocolate instant pudding mix (equals 1 serving of dry, 35 calories)

2 T sugar free Hazelnut syrup (coffee aisle)

1 T dark chocolate cocoa powder, unsweetened (10 calories)

2 tsp Splenda

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup Almond milk (35 calories)

13 ice cubes (that’s really your call, though!)


Pour the milk in the blender and then add the other ingredients except the ice cubes. Blend well for about 2 minutes. Add ice cubes (do in two batches) gradually. Pour and drink. Heavenly 80 calories! 🙂 Note that almond milk is a great alternative in recipes… super healthy, more calcium than regular milk, and less than half the calories.  I love the hazelnut syrup… so good, but if you don’t like nuts, you can omit that. I am a nut freak but there are just so many calories (once I open a can, I can’t stop myself). Enjoy! 🙂

Better late than never…weight loss update

This is awkward… so it’s been super long since I last blogged. But, I did want to let you know that I did lose around 100 pounds and I’ve kept it off for almost a year and a half! It was really not that hard once I set my mind to it. Food journaling and exercise daily were critical parts.  I have exercised every day for over two years now. Though I am not food journaling now, I did for about 7 months of the weight loss, making sure I stayed under 1500 calories per day and moderated my carbs. About every fifth day, I ate what I want and didn’t journal that day. But, it worked for me!

This was late summer in 2010

And this was the “final” picture in December 2010!

Tonya the big loser. :)

And here I am now! 🙂 My hair is really getting long.



Workout Mode

So, I have been working out every day (haven’t missed a day) since the beginning of the year, trying to lose weight. And, my school had a Biggest Loser contest all Jan/Feb ending today. I weighed in this morning with a 25 pound weight loss. I didn’t win, but I am still really proud of my progress. And, I am HOPING that I can double that in the next three months. I’m food journaling (did really well today, only 1350 calories) and did three workouts today. I track all my workouts in Facebook (on a “note” that I update) to keep myself motivated. It’s nice to see my students interested in how I am doing, though. I am not open enough to share just how much I weigh with them, but I am sharing my journey.

E-Portfolios Online!

So, I have created my share of electronic portfolios. And, I’ve found some great websites that are super easy to creating them, namely Zola and Glogster. However, it seems finding sites that the school firewall allow is a whole other problem. I ran across a few more today that are noteworthy (but I’m not at school to see how the firewall treats them). I apparently signed up before for a Carbonmade account. It’s neat… the free one allows five “projects” and a total of 35 images. So, for a Photoshop class like I teach, it would work just fine. I like the pages it creates. Here’s mine with one project/2 images– http://skindawg.carbonmade.com. Another one I liked–and it worked immediately–was Coroflot. It’s probably designed more for “real” industry professionals, though I think I could use it in a classroom. It accepts JPG (or any image), MOV, SWF, QT, and PDF, big plusses for me since I teach multimedia and they create Flash projects. I didn’t see any restrictions. My example is http://www.coroflot.com/skindawg. Probably the most academic in nature is at Zunal.com, zportfolio. It took about an hour to get my confirmation email so I didn’t get started on it yet, but it looks pretty good, too. So, lots of free options out there now for sharing (or even grading) student work! 🙂 Let me know if you have used any of these. I’d love the feedback.

Finally Bought Into Twitter!

So, I attended the Southeast Technology Conference last week and had a great guest speaker, David Warlick, talk about using Twitter to develop a Professional Learning Network. Now, I’ve had Facebook for a long time, and though I do network with colleagues, it is much more personal in nature. I mean, I share photos with family and friends, keep up with what my students are doing, etc. However, for professional networking, I have finally bought into the use of Twitter. I honestly thought of it only as a “Facebook status update only” module and that’s simply not the case. It appears most professionals are using Twitter as a microblog. You can only post 140 characters, so you have to be brief. And, you can post on a certain topic and put a # in front of that topic so people can search for that topic and find your “micro-blog” topic… maybe a great website you’ve found, or an idea you have about teaching something. Anyway, I’m sold and now I am following pros in the fields that I teach about–Web Design, Graphics, Multimedia, Educational Technology. If you haven’t tried it yet, email me and let me convince you, too!

Best Practice–great for changing audio pitch

A really simple program to use if you like to sing (I do…in my room, in the shower, at school, at church…) and sometimes find songs that are too high or too low, this program is super simple for adjusting the pitch.

It’s open source/free, so give it a try sometime. Small download and easy to use!


This has been one interesting school year. We’ve had snow, severe ice causing school to close for days, flooding causing school to close, and an earthquake! What’s next! I think we’re all ready for summer to get here.

Hope everyone else is having a simple, uneventful school year!!