SkillsUSA 2014


SkillsUSA State Winner 2014, Tatiana Jorge, – Advertising Design

March of 2014 we took a number of students to Atlanta, GA to compete in their area of expertise. I’m pleased to say that I had a number of students participate, place, and win! I know might sound odd but I’m excited when I see students doing well. So well in fact that I when they win they almost throw up! Their sickness makes me smile! Not to worry, I’ve never had any actually vomit but they are just so excited to have won that their stomachs get a little sour for a minute but then they are fine. This past year at state I had Graphic Design students complete in a lot of different areas such as:

  • Advertising Design – Tatiana Jorge
  • T-Shirt Design – Amethyst Ortega as well as Lauren Wilds
  • Pin Design – Lauren Wilds as well as Amethyst Ortega
  • Promotional Bulletin Board – Sarah Lowe & Sunny Ramos
  • Computer Maintenance – James Prill
  • Photography – Trevor Martin
  • and Cole Pickard assisted with the Logistics group for Career Pathway Showcase

I’m excited to say that we had several 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners!!!

  • Tatiana Jorge, 1st place in Advertising Design
  • Amethyst Ortega, 3rd place in SkillsUSA T-Shirt Design
  • Lauren Wilds, 2nd place in SkillsUSA Pin Design

Tatiana will now move on to the SkillsUSA National Competition in a couple of weeks! She will be competing in Advertising Design. Please comment on this post if you have any words of encouragement and/or advice for this young talent!


Moon Distance?

Eyes that see beyond what's in front of them will always see an opportunity to do more.

As both a high school teacher and professional development for adults I’ve learned to see beyond what others may or may not want to notice about their potential. I know that sometimes it is hard to see the possibilities in ourselves and I understand that, believe me, I do! One of the most reward things about teaching, that I think most all teachers will agree with, is the joy you get when you see that potential and then you to watch it grow into something great! I’ve always heard that saying “Aim for the moon and if you miss you’ll still be among the stars” but when you think about it the moon is a different distance for everyone. Sometimes in education you will see where people will try to lump students into groups and set their “moon distance” for them. Some students will hit the stars, other will hit the moon, while others will only jump about 3′ off the ground, but they will do so in excitement and joy for what they just obtained! I think everyone’s “moon distance” is adjusted to different heights, whether it is set by someone else, their motivation, their determination, their physical ability, their mental ability, etc… how do to know what “moon distance” is best for you? What are you motivations and determinations in life? Do you have “disabilities”? (Although I must say, I agree with a former student of mine, a Leukemia Survivor, who told me that he was not handicap but rather handicapable!) How can you make those into strengths?

I wonder if some of us are shooting too far…. while others are not shooting far enough. Not to tear down a student’s dream but I’ve have 5’2″ students tell me that they are going to play in the NBA. Of course, I say “that’s wonderful, you can be like Muggsy Bogues!” and then the student will always look back at me and say “who’s that”. Then you have the opposite, I’ll have a student that has such great potential and I truly can see them go far in this world and they are okay with getting by.

I guess the long of the short, here’s my question: with YOUR strength, knowledge, abilities… what are you shooting for and how do you know your “moon distance”?

How to install fonts in Google Drive/Doc

Google Drive

As some of you may already know, I really like Google. I enjoy most of the apps that Google have put out and I use some of them daily. As a high school teacher I have noticed that more and more students either no not own the Microsoft Office Software and/or they have a hard time keeping up with a portable drive such as a jump drive. I have found that Google Drive/Doc has really become a life saver to some of those students. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Microsoft products as well but I admit I like the ability to collaborate with other teachers and/or students via Google Drive/Docs.

As a Graphic Designer I love my fonts! I was disappointed to see so few fonts in Google Drive/Docs. A few months ago I heard another designer talk about “Google Fonts”. I started to think about it and I wanted to figure out how to install more fonts into my Google Drive/Docs. Once I found out how to accomplish this, I admit, I felt a silly. It is so simple and if I would have just read the screen, like my dad always told me, I would have known the answer to this question a long time ago.

Here are some simple and easy steps to install more fonts into your Google Drive/Doc.


What did I tell you… it is really that easy! Happy Googling!

Publicly Shared Notebooks on Evernote


As much as I use Evernote in my daily life, for both professional uses as well as personal uses, my thoughts about “public” or “shared” notebooks have been very limited. I have my students create a notebook in which they share with me and I have created a “shared” notebook with tech tips for my students but I have not thought about notebooks in which users have publicly shared with everyone! I started to take a look to see what kinds of notes are open for all to view and I found some wonderful resources. I defiantly will share these with my students on Monday.

After doing a quick Google search I found a notebook shared through Princeton! This person has a LOT of wonderful notebooks that are open to the public:


From Others:

If you know of any other publicly shared notebook please share in the comments of this post.

BYOD: Bring Your Own Device

My school system has started a new thing this year called BYOD, also known as, Bring Your Own Device. I know a number of other school systems that have gone to this new way of teaching here in recent years. As you know by reading some of my other posts I love technology and with this new idea of BYOD also brings a new way of teaching. I’m currently in my 10th year teaching and a few years ago I heard someone refer to the teachers as “Edutainers”. The more I think about that and what that means I can’t agree with it more. Teachers take on a new role now especially with the BYOD in our system. As a teacher you have to give students quick bursts of information all the time and do it in a way that is not “boring” to the students. I know what you are thinking, but when we were in school we had to do what we had to do, and I agree with you but we grew up in a different time. The students we have in class now have never lived in a world without internet, email, social media, video games, etc. I like to think of it as of “oh shiny generation”. Some students will pay attention long enough until they see something else new and shiny and then they move on. I do like the way that our system went about creating the policies for students to use their devices but it is still up to the teacher in how they wan to incorporate it in class. It allows the teacher or Edutainer make up the rules about how they want to use those devices in their classrooms. The rule taken directly from the student/parent handbook states the following:

Rule 20: Articles Unrelated to School Instruction

Students shall not bring radios, CDs, CD players, MP3 players, video cartridges or games, cameras, battery-powered video games, other electronic games, sports cards or others such as Pokemon, large sums of money, or tazers/shockers, etc. The use of cell phones or personal digital devices (iPods, iPads, tablet computers, eBook reader) during the school day (first bell to last bell) is authorized only under the direction of the classroom teacher to support student instruction. The school assumes no responsibility or liability for lost or damaged cell phones or personal digital devices if brought to school. Unauthorized use of a cell phone or other digital device during the instructional day or on a school bus may result in the following: (1) first offense – device will be taken and parent called to pick up device. (2) Second offense – student will serve a day in ISS and parent will be called to pick up the device (3) third offense – student will serve a day in ISS and parent will be notified that (parent) can pick up the device at the end of the school year. Taking pictures or the recording of audio/video with cell phones or other digital device at school is prohibited unless under the express direction of a teacher as a component of instruction or a project. Students utilizing a cell phone or digital device for the capture of photographs or audio/video may be subject to additional punishment under this progressive discipline code.

A handout was issued to students/staff with additional instructions:

  • The content provided by this connectivity is filtered and activity is monitored for inappropriate content as required the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Additionally, by connecting to this network, you agree that such connectivity is for educational and lawful use only. Any abuse of this system will result in loss of the privilege.
  • Students should only use Personal Electronic Devices (e.g. smart phones, tablets, e-book readers, iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc.) at the direction of a faculty member. Violation of this provision may lead to confiscation of the device. Please refer to the Student and Parent Handbook, Rule # 20 for additional information.
  • Bypassing or attempting to bypass the protection measures provided within the district, including the use of 3G or 4G to bypass the wireless system, will lead to disciplinary action as described in the Internet Acceptable Use Policy.
  • Hacking, or attempting to access restricted systems will also lead to disciplinary action. Individuals caught attempting to do so will lose access to district network resources and may face criminal prosecution.

All that being said, I am curious to find out your thoughts and/or what your school system is doing. Do you think that BYOD is a good thing?

Social Media in the Classroom: Introduction to Edmodo

What can I say, not only do I love Edmodo but more importantly, my students love Edmodo. This school year we decided to try something new, let’s meet the students were they live…. On the Internet through the use of social media. As most schools, websites such as Facebook, Google +, MySapce, LinkedIn, etc. are blocked in the public school setting by law. While at a conference last summer, I was introduced to the FREE for schools social media site called Edmodo. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure that high school students would really jump on the bandwagon but they did… and they LOVE it!!!! They were even excited to learn that there was even an App they can download to their phones, in which they do use, for FREE. I have a lot of students who may not have a lot of access to their home computer but they always have their smart phone or tablets on them. Now, of course, I also have students that don’t have a computer at home, not a smart phone, but I am lucky to have a computer lab as my classroom in which they have access to our class on Edmodo.

If you are a teacher and have not tried Edmodo yet, I really would like you to take a look. A few words to the wise make sure you set ground rules and keep it professional. It has made my life so much easier and I know that the students are always engaged!