Guest Post: Digital Leadership Day 2015 by Zach Snow

Below is a guest post from Zach Snow, Instructional Technology Coordinator in Royse City ISD. This post was originally published on Zach Snow’s blog: Digital High Five.

Like most people, I learn at a deeper level when I can tie my learning directly to an experience.

Today I had the opportunity to learn from, EdCamp Founder, Kristen Swanson. But, even more significantly, I had the opportunity to learn with my oldest son, Jacob.

Jacob was invited to be a student panelist for Region 10’s Digital Leadership Day workshop. Digital Leadership Day was a pre-conference event for Regions 10’s Annual Technology Conference. The day was filled with opportunities to process through some of the challenges, obstacles, and yes {many many} ideas. The goals for the day centered around:

  • Student Voice
  • Personalization of Learning
  • Change Requires Active Management

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The student panel, made up of 13 students ranging in age from 9-18, answered questions regarding how technology impacts their learning each and every day. I cannot even tell you how many times I have heard it said “technology in the classroom is a distraction”. However, in listening to the students share their experiences it seems that the reality is exactly opposite. Time and time again we heard students say that the utilization of technology allows them to extend their learning and find the resources they need to be successful. For the first time today I heard a student say that a textbook was nothing more than a “supplemental resource”.  I thought this was so cool. The students talked about those things that become barriers to their learning, such as blocked sites/resources. And they talked about how impactful those teachers are that allow them to be in charge of their own learning. This IS a best practice.

That brings me to this image…

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Jacob mentioned something during the panel discussion about his Genius Hour project, so during one of the breaks a teacher came over to ask Jacob to explain what Genius Hour was and how his project was coming together. At this moment, I realized how important my son’s voice is. All of a sudden, Jacob was the expert. In this 4-5 minute conversation, he may have helped to shape a teacher’s classroom. He may have sparked an interest. He may have created an incredible learning experience for another student whom he will never meet. He may have changed the world…for someone. I know that seems a bit like over-played, dramatized, hyperbole…but what if? See, the thing is, I’ve been telling my son that he is a world-changer all of his life. I say this to him and his little brother all of the time because, well, I believe it. This was one of those moments. This was one of those experiences. And I learned so much. And I will never forget today’s learning.


Zach Snow

Kasey Bell

Kasey Bell is a Digital Learning Consultant for Region 10 ESC.

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2014 Digital Fluency Conference #R10Tech

DFconference14-250x250The Region 10 Technology Conference on May 6th was a great day of learning, sharing, and networking. I am always up for a day of learning, and it is even more worthwhile when it is in my backyard!

Keynote: Leslie Fisher
I was super excited to hear the Keynote speaker Leslie Fisher.  I follow her on Twitter and Facebook.  Leslie began the day with a fast-paced session sharing some amazing gadgets.  I cannot lie, my favorites were the wearable technology that she shared.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about all of the new technology, because it levels the playing field for all types of learners.

Below are a few of the gadgets that were featured in Leslie’s Keynote:

-Myo Armband

-The Eye Tribe

-Android Wear

The keynote was filled with great resources. I also appreciate that even though she showcased a ton of cutting edge technology, it all came back to making life more accessible for adults and students–talk about differentiation!

Region 10 did an amazing job, and offered so many great sessions.  I enjoyed the variety of regular presentation slots along with student led sessions, the digital playground area, and of course, the great door prizes!

Top 5 Takeaways from the 2014 Digital Fluency Conference

5. Celeste ISD is doing some great things with augmented reality. Visit their site for resources:

4. Wendy Sanders‘ session on using Voxer as a communication tool in the classroom was amazing.

3.  I enjoyed watching teachers actively engage in a challenge! Participants in my session, “Empowering Teachers to Use Technology Through Tech Challenges,” completed a tech challenge by creating a 5 picture story.

2. The food trucks were AWESOME!

1. Words of wisdom from a friend: “You don’t always know what you don’t know.” @Zachsnow

I walked away with so many great ideas and inspiration.  I leave you with this quote from Leslie Fisher’s Keynote:

“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

- Steve Jobs



Andrea Keller is an Instructional Technology Specialist who spends every waking moment encouraging the youth of today. She spent 11 years in the special education world as a self contained LIFE (living in a functional environment) teacher where she pushed her low-verbal and non-verbal students to new heights using various forms of technology. She was named Texas Computer Education Agency Classroom Teacher of the Year in 2011-2012 school year. She was also named 20 Educators to Watch by the National School Board Association. Andrea has also be recognized by both the local Irving and Region 10 Association of Texas Professional Educators as classroom teacher of the year. In her current role Andrea is able to help train teachers in using technology to increase instruction. She has instituted monthly Technology Challenges on her campus, and has created the same games through Techformers Unite. To reach all students Andrea opens her computer lab in the morning for extra tutoring and for students to have a chance to do technology projects through the Flight Program. When not on school time, she is helping lead students into a world of unlimited possibilities through “Destination ImagiNation” Andrea Keller is a true busybee and is truly a cutting edge 21st century teacher.

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Students Explore their Passions with #GeniusHour – by Guest Blogger, Stuart Burt

Recently, a colleague (@getheather) and I have embarked on an amazing journey with a group of 3-5 grade students. This journey is called Genius Hour. Below is a short video created by Chris Kesler (@iamkesler) that does a great job of explaining the process and reasoning behind Genius Hour.

Heather started this process two months ago with 40 kids and idea. I had heard of Genius Hour and agreed to come along for the ride. I was not quite ready for what I was about to be a part of. The students, on the other hand, were born for this.  Genius Hour was a natural fit for these students.

Our plan was to meet with the students every Friday for an hour.  During our first meeting, we explained the process and show a few videos (Caine’s Arcade) to get them thinking. We try to start each meeting with a video to motivate them and get their creative juices flowing.  During our second meeting, we had them discuss with a group their passion. During this process, we stress the importance of their projects being based on their passions.

In our fourth meeting, the students are asked to list three passion project ideas and present them to a facilitator.  The students are given as long as they need for this process and are are instructed to research projects on their iPads. After each student has a few project ideas, they take their list to a facilitator for approval.  As a facilitator, its important to be their guide and help them shape an idea into a project.  After the projects are selected, the real fun begins.

During the design and construction phase, the students list the supplies they need.  Some supplies are brought from home, and some are found by the facilitators.  Between weeks, Heather and I searched for as much of the supplies as we could find.  Art supplies, legos, laptops, butcher paper, and clay are amongst the list of things the students asked for.  When they arrived to start building, we pretty much turned them loose.  It was neat to see students with similar projects automatically group up and start bouncing ideas off of each other.

Students are given as much time as they need to work on a project.  There are no deadlines, or cutoffs.  Students are encouraged to make mistakes and start new projects when they need to.  Project didn’t work out the way you intended, start over with a new plan.

So, now you know the process, but why? Why should you start a #geniushour at your school?  Passion. Its all about passion.  If we can help kids find their passion, won’t they be more motivated to learn?  Will learning become intrinsic? Each of our students are unique; there are no two alike. It is our mission as educators to help them discover who the are and who they are to become in the future. #Geniushour is one way to help with that mission.

Enjoy Messy Learning!

Some #GeniusHour resources:



Stuart Burt is the Director of Technology at Community ISD in Nevada TX. At CISD, he encourages staff and students to think outside the box and strives to give them the resources they need to be successful. He is also the Area 10 director for TCEA. Stuart, his wife Karli, and twin girls live in Rockwall, TX.

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A Recipe for Awesome – by Guest Blogger, Aimee Bartis

EdCampAwesomeEdCampAwesome was Saturday, February 22nd at Royse City High School.  EdCampAwesome certainly lived up to it’s name.  I had the pleasure of working as an organizer for EdCampAwesome.  After everything wrapped up, several people asked about putting on their own EdCamp. Here’s a recipe for an Awesome EdCamp.

Start with 2 guys (or gals) with an idea so crazy that it just might work

In our case this was Stuart Burt and Zach Snow.  They hatched the idea in October.  And instead of just thinking about how cool it would be, they set about to make it happen.  That’s the case with most great leaders, they think and then they act.

Add in passionate educators.

When I think of the team Stuart and Zach assembled, I think passion.  Everyone was excited to help and learn together.  No one said, I can’t do that.  Everyone did their part.  It takes a team of diverse experiences to pull off something like EdCamp.  You’ll need creativity, technical skills, connections and boldness to plan a successful EdCamp.

Fold into G+

All our planning was done through Google+.  I think we had one face to face meeting when we met at Royse City HS to work on logistics.  And even then, not everyone could attend.  Notes were posted in our private G+ community.  Questions were asked and answered.  We had Google Hangouts to plan and discuss.

Drop in 300 more passionate educators

Without a doubt, educators who attend EdCamps are passionate. Why else would they give up their Saturday to learn? Because they care about their students and their profession.  To EdCamp educators, they don’t have a job, they have a calling.  Educators at EdCamps come wanting to learn and willing to share.

Stir in interesting sessions and lively discussions

The schedule is built that morning from participant suggestions – something they want to learn and something they can lead a discussion about.  We had AWESOME sessions – Coding in Elementary, Twitter, Time Management, Student Branding, Reading Strategies and Differentiation to name a few.

Sift out fear

Many EdCampAwesome educators were new to the idea of EdCamps. But they came anyway! And they left energized and excited. Several of them joined Twitter so they could continue learning on their own time. They are now in charge of their own professional development.  Their excitement pumped me up.  It’s contagious.

Bake for 8 hours

For me, EdCamps are never long enough. There’s not enough time to meet all the people I want to meet or attend all the sessions I want to go to.  Eight hours flies by.  Even lunch is an extension of the learning.  Not all participants talk about tools and strategies at lunch but most each lunch with someone new and that opens the door to more connections.

Sprinkle with thoughtfulness

Thoughtfulness is a powerful force for good.  I don’t think that we, as organizers, set out to design an EdCamp experience that was thoughtful but it happened. We worked hard to make sure participants had more than they expected.  We had a great breakfast thanks to Chiloso and Sapling Learning.  In the afternoon we put out chips and salsa from Arboledas.  The Royse City HS Drumline welcomed us in the morning.  Swag feel from the 2nd floor in between sessions.  We had LOTS of giveaways and swag.  I think everyone left with something. I have to shout out to Christina and Christie, our swag divas. Those ladies worked the phones, hit the sidewalks and brought home some great stuff for the EdCampers.

Serve with Fun

I can honestly say that Saturday was fun! It was fun to see our months of hard work pay off.  I had a little too much fun giving away prizes.  (Watch out if you give me a mic) Participants had fun.  And isn’t that when we learn the most, when we’re having fun and relaxed? It’s fun to try to quantify how many students will be effected by what educators learned at EdCampAwesome.  If not by something learned directly, then by the igniting of a fiery passion for education.  And that makes EdCampAwesome truly awesome and worth my time.

If you weren’t able to join us, follow @EdCampAwesome on Twitter for announcements for next year!





Aimee is the Educational Technology Specialist at Sunnyvale Middle School. Aimee is a writer, reader and big thinker. She loves to serve educators, help them integrate technology and engage their students. You can find Aimee at her website and on Twitter @aimeegbartis

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7th Annual Doodle 4 Google!

This year’s theme: If I Could Invent One Thing To Make the World a Better Place…

One talented young artist will see his or her artwork appear on the Google homepage, receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and win a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school!images Discovery Education created three videos and activity packs to introduce your K-12 classroom to the creative process:

  • Activity Pack One: Imagine
  • Activity Pack Two: Create
  • Activity Pack Three: Share and Collaborate (Coming February 18th)

Join Doodle 4 Google for “Connected Classrooms: Meet the Doodler,” part two of a three-part series Wednesday, Feb 19th, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM. Part three takes place Wednesday, Feb 26th, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM.

The closing date for entries is Thursday, March 20th. For contest details and to enter click here.

Ashley Gilliam

Ashley Gilliam

Educational consultant and tech facilitator supporting innovations in learning, education & technology.

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Skype With An Author On World Read Aloud Day March 5th!

Teacher-reads-to-infant-s-001LitWorld‘s advocacy campaign for the human right of literacy, World Read Aloud Day, calls worldwide attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. Kate Messner has published a list of authors who have volunteered their time to read aloud to classrooms and libraries all over the world on March 5th. Join the global movement and register your participation today!

Ashley Gilliam

Ashley Gilliam

Educational consultant and tech facilitator supporting innovations in learning, education & technology.

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18 Days Until Digital Learning Day!

February 5th is Digital Learning Day. Digital Learning Day is about giving every child the opportunity to learn in a digital environment. Take the pledge to support the effective use of digital learning and make sure to add your DLDay event to the calendar!


Ashley Gilliam

Ashley Gilliam

Educational consultant and tech facilitator supporting innovations in learning, education & technology.

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Google Week @10


Region 10 is proud to present training from The EdTechTeam, Lead by Google Certified Teachers and Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers.

Google Apps for Education Certification Boot Camp (2 day)
January 27-28, 2014
Google Apps for Education Certification Boot Camp serves two purposes: to raise awareness about how Google Apps can be used in education (with students and among colleagues), and to prepare participants to pass the Google Apps for Education Qualification Tests. Each session includes an interactive overview, top tips from the Google Apps for Education Training Center, hands-on activities, and inspiring ideas for how to use Google Apps for teaching, learning, and professional collaboration. The activities are flexible, designed to help new users quickly understand the core magic of each app – and to challenge veteran users by revealing features and innovative uses they never imagined. The experience is grounded in Google culture, complete with high-energy fast-paced demonstrations and challenging activities that can truly be called hard fun. There is no better preparation for teaching and learning with Google Apps – or for passing the Google Apps EDU tests. During the second day of this two-day boot camp, participants prepare their applications to become Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers. Certification is not included in the boot camp (passing six tests, submitting an application, and approval from Google are required following the event). Taking tests and applying for certification is not necessary for participating in the boot camp. There is a $250 fee for this BYOD workshop.
Register here

Google in Education
January 29, 2014
This one-day hands-on primer begins with a welcome activity that invites participants to co-create a new vision for education in the age of Google. Discover a tool kit of research tools for students and educators, including advanced search techniques, Google Books, Google Scholar, Google News, Google Alerts and more. Learn how Google Docs and Google Drive can facilitate collaboration and creation between students and among colleagues. Experience the ease of online publishing with Google Sites (and Blogger). Learn to expand your own personal learning network online with Google+. Even more inspiring instructional ideas conclude the day before a final reflection activity. This special workshop, hosted in the Google Office, offers something for beginners and intermediate users. There is a $150 fee for this BYOD workshop.
Register here

1:1 with Google Chromebooks (2 day)
January 30-31, 2014
This comprehensive two-day workshop develops awareness of current instructional practice and exposes participants to the changes that need to occur in order for a 1:1 initiative with Chromebooks to be successful. There is a $250 fee for this BYOD workshop.
Register here


Kasey Bell

Kasey Bell is a Digital Learning Consultant for Region 10 ESC.

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What is Edcamp?



What is Edcamp? EdCamp is a very unique professional learning opportunity for educators. Also know as the “unconference,” Edcamp presents a new way for educators to convene, connect, and share with each other.

“What makes Edcamp an unconference? Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, Edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Instead of one person standing in front of the room talking for an hour, people are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. Sponsors don’t have their own special sessions or tables, all of the space and time are reserved for the things the people there want to talk about. People could pay hundreds of dollars to attend another conference, or they could go to Edcamp for free.” – from

Edcamps are:

  • free
  • non-commercial and conducted with a vendor-free presence
  • hosted by any organization interested in furthering the edcamp mission
  • made up of sessions that are determined on the day of the event
  • events where anyone who attends can be a presenter
  • reliant on the “law of two feet” that encourages participants to find a session that meets their needs

If you have never attended an Edcamp, I challenge you to try it! It’s a professional learning experience unlike any other. Edcamps are booming in the North Texas area. There is one scheduled for Feb. 22, 2014 at Royse City High School. For more info, follow @EdcampAwesome.

Look for more information on local Edcamps on this blog.

To learn more about the Edcamp movement and upcoming Edcamps, visit the Edcamp Wiki at


Kasey Bell

Kasey Bell is a Digital Learning Consultant for Region 10 ESC.

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20th Annual Region 10 Tech Conference is May 6!

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Come celebrate technology and learning with educators from around the Region 10 area. There will be break-out sessions from teachers and educators from the Region 10 area, an informative exhibit hall from our best vendors, a digital playground, demo slams, TONS of door prizes, AND our Lunch-and-Learn sessions will be led by STUDENTS!

Check out our new website for links to registration, presentation proposals and vendor registration:

Follow our new twitter account for the latest information: @R10Tech


Kasey Bell

Kasey Bell is a Digital Learning Consultant for Region 10 ESC.

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