Bethany LaDue Nugent

Apple Teacher...FOR KIDS!?!?

Earlier this year, I was reflecting on how much Apple Teacher has helped the staff that I’ve worked with to complete the program. I thought of the powerful uses, and how many fewer questions I had gotten from teachers and thought to myself……

“I wish there was an Apple Teacher for students!”

and I was off and rolling……

“YES! And teachers could use it independently with their classes!
YES! And we could use videos so that reading isn’t an issue for younger kids!

YES! And we teachers could share those videos when they want kids to create a project in an app!

YES! And we could spread it throughout our district

YES! And we could make it available to other teachers from other places to help them transform their students into expert users

YES! And when students complete the program they could help other teachers with projects when they get stuck!
YES! And the teachers could give students more choice; more ways to "Show what they know” than just worksheets and tests"

and so on…

and so on……

and so on……….

I took the idea to my library teacher, Carrie, who oversees our High Performance Learning (HPL) program, and  one of our district’s technology managers, Cat. The three of us met up and over lunch shortly after and the idea began to grow. We decided that we would incorporate it into our techEssentials program, a resource that’s previously been used for teacher technology trainings/tutorials..


That’s when techEssentials Academy was born (though my heart still really wants to call the program “Apple Student!” <3)

In October, Carrie, on behalf of our team, put a lot of work into applying for a grant through the La Crosse Public Education Foundation and we got started working, not knowing if the grant would come through or not.

I began developing the program. We started out thinking that it would be a great iTunes U course, but quickly realized that an iBook may be easier, and would make it more manageable as it continues to grow.

So….what exactly is the program? Here’s a quick rundown:

1. Students watch a video to learn the basics of an app

2. They get a few options for projects, and a checklist of components that must be included in their project.

3. Students take a quiz and upload their project. If they score at least 22/25, they earn their badge!

YES….There are badges!

We looked into online badging, but again, wanted a solution that would be easy to manage as the program grew. In our school, each student will receive a lanyard, and they will earn a pin button (like the miniature buttons that you often see in stores) for each app they master! As the program grows, we will provide future teachers (or as we refer to them, techEssentials Academy Leaders -TEAL-) with sticker/stamp charts they can use with their kids in the event they can’t/choose not to purchase pins. (Sidenote—-A few weeks ago, Carrie received word that the grant we applied for has been funded, and we are excited to order the lanyards and pins to award to those students who have already begun earning badges.)

There are 3 Levels to the program

Similar to Apple Teacher, there is a Productivity level and a Creativity Level, and we also added an additional level for a few other apps, including Explain Everything, Green Screen, etc. We hope that this will allow teachers to have leaders no matter what app they choose to use in their rooms, as well as allowing students to have expanded opportunities to tell their stories and use their creativity through their work. Students can earn any of the badges, but once they’ve accomplished all three levels, they become a “techEssentials Academy Master(TEAM)” and join our student TechTEAM, made up entirely of masters.

The Pilot…….is underway!

I am excited to say that our very first group of techEssentials Academy students are currently working their way through the program. It has been amazing to see their excitement for the project, and hear them excitedly race to complete the badges and asking questions like “Can I work on this at recess? Can I take it home?”

We currently have Pages and Keynote available to students, and are near completion of the Clips badge. As I continue creating the videos, quizzes, and iBook, Carrie works to develop the student project ideas and lists. We are excited to finalize this program and I look forward to sharing it with the ADE world in the near future! Our ultimate goal is to make the program accessible to teachers out-of-district to help them create their very own leaders in their own schools.

December 21st 2017
<p>About a month ago I got one of those emails. The one that leaves you feeling eager to get started, but admittedly nervous about trying something completely new for the first time. What was it?</p><p><br/>Sketchnotes. And the invitation to present them at an upcoming district technology committee meeting. </p><p><br/>Yes, I am an art teacher, so of course it’s fair to assume that I am a huge sketch note junkie. To be honest, though, I had always sketched on paper, and when designing, I preferred the tablet that I use with my MacBook to get the precise design that I am looking for. I draw all the time with my students, telling them to take risks and not be afraid to fail. I’m continually telling them to give it a try, make a mark, and just get started on their adventure. This email was my chance to walk the “adventure” talk that I always give my kids.</p><p>I had always loved seeing others peoples’ sketchnotes. I remembered retweeting them after a conference last fall, seeing them presented during a meeting last year, and adoring tons of them that came out of ADE Academy last summer (like the ones from my amazing roommate @Stephaine Lee!), but if I’m totally honest I didn’t know if it was for me. I liked sketching for fun, but when I worked on drawing, I was too much of a perfectionist to get into sketching quick enough to keep track of what a speaker was saying, let alone represent it in my art.</p><p>With my email in hand, though, I knew it was time to set off on this new adventure. Knowing it would be easier to present if I was a sketch-noter myself, I nervously but excitedly took on the challenge of creating my own at a conference last weekend. What did I find? <br/><br/>Sketchnotes are most definitely my style.</p><p>(Shocking. I know—-An art teacher who likes sketch notes? Betcha didn’t see that coming.)</p><p>As I sat down with my new Apple Pencil (which by the way made ALL the difference in my sketching) in the first keynote of the weekend, I feverishly set to work, trying to represent the ideas presented in my notes. I didn’t have time to worry about perfection, and after about 10 minutes, I had totally found my groove. Sketchnoting was exhilarating to me. The challenge of trying to get your ideas down on paper fast enough that you don’t miss the next big thing the speaker says was a total artist adrenaline rush, and after that first experience sketch noting, I reviewed my notes with excitement.  I realized that I remembered and could explain, exactly what my drawings meant and how they related to in the presentation, much better than I ever could with the typical bullets and indents of traditional note taking.</p><p>And just like that, I’m sold.</p><p>Fast forward a couple days and it’s time to present, which of course is always easier when you’re truly passionate about what you’re presenting. Lucky for me, I still had that adrenaline rush from the conference (the same energy that kept me up till 11pm working on sketches after just getting home from the conference!). </p><p>I started the activity by asking teachers to close their laptops and just focus on the directions. Each teacher was given a new Apple Pencil to keep, and I shared a video overview of the app Autodesk Sketchbook (see it here: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnp7_Sqv76I">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnp7_Sqv76I</a>). Afterwards, I asked teachers to draw some simple objects; starting with a cloud, then moving on to a house, and then some of their favorite things (food, animal, movie, etc.) I shared how I use layers to draw and then add color underneath, and allowed teachers to experiment with the tools in the app.</p><p>I was honest with the teachers and told them that we were sketching these basic objects so that they could get out of their heads and just get back to that place where they were comfortable drawing (something many adults lose as they grow up).</p><p>After giving teachers time to explore, I gathered everyone’s attention and had them prepare to sketch note to the video “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You” (<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-gQLqv9f4o">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-gQLqv9f4o</a>). As teachers listened and sketched I watched them, working through their ideas as fast as they could, the same way that I had just a few days earlier. <br/><br/>When we were done, I shared my experience with teachers; the idea that I didn’t know that I would love sketch notes either, and the story of my experience in college, when I realized that art isn’t a talent you’re born with, it is something you learn like reading or writing. I shared with them that most adults don’t draw because we believe it’s something we “don’t have the talent for,” when really it’s just something we haven’t learned to do yet. (Yet….now that’s a powerful word).  I encouraged teachers to allow their students to practice and pursue sketch notes. I shared that just like when you read the newspaper, it is the images that stick out, and I shared with them how I could still remember so many details from the weekend’s conference simply because I sketch noted instead of taking traditional notes.</p><p>By the time we left, teachers were enthusiastically sketching (and playing!) in the app. As an art teacher, that was such a rewarding moment. So many adults lose their confidence to draw as they grow up, but seeing them excitedly drawing and playing in the app reminded me that sometimes teachers just have to be told to play, to draw, and to explore a new adventure. Sometimes, that teacher is the one looking in the mirror, who must take her own advice and discovers a new passion.</p>

About a month ago I got one of those emails. The one that leaves you feeling eager to get started, but admittedly nervous about trying something completely new for the first time. What was it?


Sketchnotes. And the invitation to present them at an upcoming district technology committee meeting.


Yes, I am an art teacher, so of course it’s fair to assume that I am a huge sketch note junkie. To be honest, though, I had always sketched on paper, and when designing, I preferred the tablet that I use with my MacBook to get the precise design that I am looking for. I draw all the time with my students, telling them to take risks and not be afraid to fail. I’m continually telling them to give it a try, make a mark, and just get started on their adventure. This email was my chance to walk the “adventure” talk that I always give my kids.

I had always loved seeing others peoples’ sketchnotes. I remembered retweeting them after a conference last fall, seeing them presented during a meeting last year, and adoring tons of them that came out of ADE Academy last summer (like the ones from my amazing roommate @Stephaine Lee!), but if I’m totally honest I didn’t know if it was for me. I liked sketching for fun, but when I worked on drawing, I was too much of a perfectionist to get into sketching quick enough to keep track of what a speaker was saying, let alone represent it in my art.

With my email in hand, though, I knew it was time to set off on this new adventure. Knowing it would be easier to present if I was a sketch-noter myself, I nervously but excitedly took on the challenge of creating my own at a conference last weekend. What did I find?

Sketchnotes are most definitely my style.

(Shocking. I know—-An art teacher who likes sketch notes? Betcha didn’t see that coming.)

As I sat down with my new Apple Pencil (which by the way made ALL the difference in my sketching) in the first keynote of the weekend, I feverishly set to work, trying to represent the ideas presented in my notes. I didn’t have time to worry about perfection, and after about 10 minutes, I had totally found my groove. Sketchnoting was exhilarating to me. The challenge of trying to get your ideas down on paper fast enough that you don’t miss the next big thing the speaker says was a total artist adrenaline rush, and after that first experience sketch noting, I reviewed my notes with excitement.  I realized that I remembered and could explain, exactly what my drawings meant and how they related to in the presentation, much better than I ever could with the typical bullets and indents of traditional note taking.

And just like that, I’m sold.

Fast forward a couple days and it’s time to present, which of course is always easier when you’re truly passionate about what you’re presenting. Lucky for me, I still had that adrenaline rush from the conference (the same energy that kept me up till 11pm working on sketches after just getting home from the conference!).

I started the activity by asking teachers to close their laptops and just focus on the directions. Each teacher was given a new Apple Pencil to keep, and I shared a video overview of the app Autodesk Sketchbook (see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnp7_Sqv76I). Afterwards, I asked teachers to draw some simple objects; starting with a cloud, then moving on to a house, and then some of their favorite things (food, animal, movie, etc.) I shared how I use layers to draw and then add color underneath, and allowed teachers to experiment with the tools in the app.

I was honest with the teachers and told them that we were sketching these basic objects so that they could get out of their heads and just get back to that place where they were comfortable drawing (something many adults lose as they grow up).

After giving teachers time to explore, I gathered everyone’s attention and had them prepare to sketch note to the video “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-gQLqv9f4o). As teachers listened and sketched I watched them, working through their ideas as fast as they could, the same way that I had just a few days earlier.

When we were done, I shared my experience with teachers; the idea that I didn’t know that I would love sketch notes either, and the story of my experience in college, when I realized that art isn’t a talent you’re born with, it is something you learn like reading or writing. I shared with them that most adults don’t draw because we believe it’s something we “don’t have the talent for,” when really it’s just something we haven’t learned to do yet. (Yet….now that’s a powerful word).  I encouraged teachers to allow their students to practice and pursue sketch notes. I shared that just like when you read the newspaper, it is the images that stick out, and I shared with them how I could still remember so many details from the weekend’s conference simply because I sketch noted instead of taking traditional notes.

By the time we left, teachers were enthusiastically sketching (and playing!) in the app. As an art teacher, that was such a rewarding moment. So many adults lose their confidence to draw as they grow up, but seeing them excitedly drawing and playing in the app reminded me that sometimes teachers just have to be told to play, to draw, and to explore a new adventure. Sometimes, that teacher is the one looking in the mirror, who must take her own advice and discovers a new passion.

December 20th 2017

TIES 2017

“TIES? What’s that?” I thought to myself as I sat through a district technology meeting in fall of 2016. Naive? Maybe, but I had never had the opportunity to attend a technology conference for professional development in my 6 years of teaching. Now as I reflect back, TIES 2016 was more than my first tech conference, it was the experience that opened the doors for me to the wonderful world of people who love tech just as much as I do.

Fast forward a year (one big year, but I’ll blog about that later) and I’m back at TIES 2017, this time, as a presenter and an attendee.

The entire TIES experience was remarkable, with awesome keynotes by Ken Shelton and Jennie Magiera that inspired my first-ever sketchnotes (made way better by my new pencil and the app Autodesk Sketchbook).

Before attending the conference, I was asked to bring back my takeaways to present to other district staff and I found myself completely focused on the big ideas of the conference; the idea of telling your story, hearing and sharing student stories, and telling untold stories. That idea really resonated with me.

In the age of social media, everyone has a voice. It is ever-more apparent by the devices in the hands of nearly everyone we see on a daily basis. Everyone has a chance to connect. It’s unbelievably simple to bring people together (and unfortunately also terribly simple for these tools to tear people apart). I thought about the idea of sharing your story, and though it’s a risk for students, I was inspired to put even further emphasis on hearing my students stories….through art. I am excited to implement this idea through the rest of the year and future projects.

On Monday I presented “Let’s Get Creative with Apple,” and it was wonderful to watch the “aha” moments come across the faces of our attendees. From tools as simple as Instant Alpha, to the new shapes in Keynote, and the powerful Clips app, it was amazing to watch the excitement and know that  these tools would lead to even more innovative classrooms and more students sharing their stories. Some of the notes from our presentation, as well as videos we shared with teachers and a freebie AirDrop poster are now available on my website and I’m excited to provide resources that will make teachers’ lives easier and encourage them to further integrate tech in their classrooms. Check them out athttp://bethanymarieexpressions.yolasite.com/TIES.php

Thanks to Jennie’s TIES presentation, today I found my “wizard moments” and was reminded of the magic  that happens every day in our classrooms; the moments that remind us why we became teachers. I noticed students enthusiastically jumping into a Pages project (and one even bragging to his sibling that he is going to become a Master through our badging student program), and persevering, even when they got stuck. One of my students (who struggles a bit with writing) had no clue what to write in his story in Pages, and was ready to quit after he had written two short sentences about the awesomeness of his dog. I encouraged him to write about adventures of his dog while he is away, and suddenly his frustration turned to excited “wait….I can do that!?!?!” He got back to work enthusiastically typing away, and I was reminded of the untold story of wizards. Both of these different moments with students reminded me of our amazing ability to make learning fun for kids simply by changing the way we approach the project.  I am excited to continue using my “wizard” skills to make a difference with my students through creating projects that help them continue to share their stories.

December 19th 2017

I have always loved sharing my students’ work with their parents, families, and the community. My next-door-neighbor music teacher Karla even jokes with me about my excitement as I run in her room to show her what the kids created.

Over the years I have tried many ways to display and share student work. Of course, there is the traditional art show every spring at the library, and the classic bulletin boards in the school, and I have found these to be great spaces for sharing, though they come with their own challenges (we hae a small school with limited display space….and on top of that—who has the time to keep track of whose art is where and rotate it in and out all the time anyway!?)

A few years back as I discussed this challenge with my principal and our clothesline art galleries were born. By using Command Strip hooks (turned sideways), yarn, and clothespins, an afternoon turned our elevator area into an art gallery! The best part - it is close to my room and four lines are at kid height - meaning that they can help change things out!)

As a teacher who loves technology, my next goal was to share with those who are outside of our school through the use of social media. I started with taking simple pictures of student work and sharing them, but I wanted more. How could I truly show the process in a way that is timely when I only have 45 minutes every three days with each class?

Time-lapse was the answer! I invested in iPad stands (for use with stop motion) and when Apple added the Time-lapse feature to the Camera app, I was SOLD! I began using my iPad stands on student tables to record the process, and I shared the videos on social media. I had found my answer. Correction….I had found one of my answers. :) I loved time-lapsing and so did my kids (especially those who sometimes struggle to stay on task, as they knew if they didn’t work, their video would be empty!). Time lapse was perfect with only one major challenge….I only had four ipad stands in my room, and have classes between 15-28 kids. How could I be sure that ALL students (over 300 of them)  felt like their story was being shared?

Then I met Clips—my newest app obsession—at ADE Academy in the summer of 2017. What is Clips? Clips is an easy-to-use, simple-yet-perfect app for sharing student work. You can record quick videos, add pictures, stickers and amazing live-title captions. This fall, I have been using Clips when I walk around and check in with students. In just a few seconds, I can record a Clip of each student (mid project!) and at the end of the class, the kids are SO EXCITED to see their work on the big screen. Sure, there was some nervousness on their part in the beginning, but it quickly ended as they got the hear the excitement of their classmates viewing everyone’s work on screen. The videos are so easy to produce they can be made while working with kids, and my kids have even started creating their own separate Clips projects! My favorite part - this method of sharing leaves no one out. All students are included in the video, and all parents have something to look for on our class Facebook page. A lot less “how was school today” and a lot more “you did a great job on your art project today!” when they get home from school…..and that makes it all worth it.

Check out our Clips at https://www.facebook.com/hamsotai or on Twitter using #ClipsART or following @bethany_nugent

September 19th 2017

My ADE Academy Experience

It’s been a month since the first day of ADE Academy. How did that happen? After sitting down to write this, and then frustratedly stopping, and coming back to it in an endless cycle, I realized today that it is time to post this. Now or never, right?

Why all the frustration? How do you explain an experience that left you astounded, inspired, and connected? Well, here goes nothing. Warning, it’s long. 

——

Leaving for ADE Academy was a very surreal experience. This program that I had thought about for months was here, and as I boarded my plane to fly from Phoenix to Houston, I was filled with nervous anticipation. Thoughts filled my head and I wasn’t able to sleep; curious about what ADE Academy would bring my way.

It all became real when I landed in Houston, and came down the escalator to see people waiting holding “ADE Academy” signs. I grabbed my bag, and headed over where I was excitedly greeted by a group of three from St. Louis, all a part of the Class of 2017. My nervousness melted away as we excitedly talked about Academy, where we’re from and what we teach, and I quickly realized that the ADE Academy would bring many amazing people into my life.

We boarded the bus, met other ADEs, and a third grade teacher named Christina sat down behind me. Christina would, over the next 4 days, become one of my closest ADE friends. We chatted about or schools and quickly realized that our schools and our kids had a lot in common. Our thoughts about ADE Academy were also very similar; both of us felt nervous and, for lack of a better word, small. A bit insignificant in comparison to former ADEs out making a dent in the universe. More on that later.

Upon arriving at The Woodlands, I checked in, and while I waited for my room to be ready, I checked into ADE Academy. The staff eagerly greeted each one of us, ushering us through stations and into ADE Central where we completed a Breakout EDU box to get the coupon to redeem our ADE t-shirts. After finishing check-in, I dropped my stuff in my room, and headed down to lunch, where I ran into Christina again, and met some other ADEs, including Kathy and Jordan. We ate and chatted, and then I headed back to registration with Christina. As we finished her registration and wandered the hotel we  ran into ADE after ADE, excitedly and nervously waiting for the sessions to begin. We joked about how both of us felt nervous; like the former ADEs we knew of were these amazing rockstars and we must have been picked by accident. We wandered around, got our pictures taken, and after resting a little, I headed down to meet up with Christina for dinner, when I ran into my roommate Steffy, and her friend Emily (also bus friends!) in the hallway! We excitedly greeted each other and decided to head to dinner together, meeting up with Kathy and Jordan at dinner. This group, the six of us, from six different places, with totally different educational experiences, would that night become known affectionately as the Supper 6.

The next morning, we hit up breakfast and all of the new ADEs were ushered into one conference room, which we would later call ADE Central, while the alumni ADEs met in the main conference room. We greeted our mentors, received our ADE silver pins, and then, as we turned to leave the room, the alumni ADEs had formed a tunnel for us to walk through, cheering and screaming for us, high-fiving each new ADE and welcoming them to the family. I got goosebumps…..and it may sound cheesy but it is a moment I will never forget.

In our first session we met both Brian and Maxx, who reassured us we did belong here, that we were chosen for a reason. They laid out the plans for our days ahead, telling us about a project we would create, sessions we would attend, and an awesome new app called Clips (that we’d later come to LOVE~!). They shared a video about Apple Distinguished Educators that brought out every emotion; making me reflect on my students back home, the work I’ve done, and the many projects that lie ahead as I work to continue to make a difference in the lives of my children.

We broke out into sessions and, while all of the sessions were amazing, what really struck me about the ADEs is that no matter who you sat down with, everyone was always open to chatting, curious to meet the other ADEs in the group. I loved forming connections with these amazing educators from around the country and can’t wait to continue to connect with other ADEs around the world.

I went to sessions on Extreme Preso Makeover (about reconstructing your presentations to make them more engaging) and a session with Reshan, one of the creators of Explain Everything, where he taught features and uses for EE that I had never imagined, including a really fun way to make your own video game, or even how to record yourself painting like Bob Ross.

At dinner that night, a friend of Emily’s tapped her on the shoulder, and she began to explain to us an amazing story about this gentleman, Mark Coppin, and a young lady he worked with named Sady. She told us how Mark was another ADE and had met Sady at his job at the Anne Carlson Center, and that she had Cerebral Palsy. She explained how Sady had learned to edit video using an accessibility tool attached to her wheelchair, and how Mark had worked with her university, Full Sail University, to help get Sady a full-ride scholarship to that university. She explained that Sady even went on to edit a commercial for Apple. This story was simply amazing and gave me another reminder of why I am here; and all of the amazing doors that can be opened through the use of technology.

The next day as I continued to attend sessions, I realized how different the ADE experience was from any other conference I’d ever attended. ADE Academy was one of those experiences where like-minded people come together and amazing things happen. During the week someone pointed out that when we are here, we aren’t just “the techie,” from each of our schools. It really made me realize what is so special about ADEs. Sure, ADEs know the technology, and we all have our favorite features and apps….but this group of educators was so much more than the gadgets we carry in our hands. We’re a group of educators who understand the doors that technology opens for our students and recognize the far-reaching impact it will have on our students’ lives in a world we can’t even imagine.  

One of the biggest highlights of my ADE experience was a keynote; one that started as a giant secret, and turned into an amazing surprise. In the first few days of ADE Academy I remember asking a few different people if they knew who the Keynote would be. A few joked that maybe it was Tim Cook, while others wondered if it was one of the Ed Tech keynote speakers who speak at conventions across the nation. As we entered the room, we grabbed seats, eager for the announcement of the keynote speaker. As Maxx introduced Mark Coppin, I reflected on the accessibility information that had been shared—-talking about how when you design for average, you design for no one, but when you design for the margins, the products are better for everyone. I remembered Emily’s story and was thrilled to hear the story from Mark himself. As he spoke the entire room was incredibly inspired by the amazing things he has done, not only for Sady, but for all of his patients. As he closed up his keynote, he told us there was one more thing; and sure enough out came Sady to a standing (and screaming) ovation! Sady proceeded to tell us her story, in her words, from the stage. It was amazing to see how she was able to present and use the technology as not only a creative outlet through her videos, but as a voice to share her story and inspire others. It brought an entirely new appreciation for technology to me; making me realize that thirty years ago, someone like Sady may have ended up silenced by her Cerebral Palsy. It was truly a phenomenal experience and one I won’t soon forget. At the end of her keynote, Maxx came back on stage to thank Sady, and give her a gift, and on the screen behind them the number 125 popped up. Sady didn’t know what was about to happen, but the excitement in the room was tangible as each ADE realized what Maxx was about to do. He spoke to Sady and explained that he was so grateful she was able to join us and make her dream come true, but that he had something for her too. As the number 125+1 popped up on the screen behind him, he told Sady that she was the newest ADE in the Class of 2017 (BEST. CLASS. EVER!).

They announced that that evening would be a time to meet Sady, and check out all of the amazing Apple Accessibility features from the team that knows them the best. The night would be a late night of meeting with ADEs and Apple employees, talking and enjoying our last night of Academy.

In the morning, we gathered for more showcases, and an amazing wrap up to this week, with people around the room sharing their biggest takeaways from ADE Academy. We watched the ADE video one last time, and it brought tears to my eyes. Never before had I felt this connected in a group of educators. We all belonged; we were a team, we were all there for the same reasons. We had joked all week that ADE was like summer camp for teachers, and I will say that something about it did feel that way. I left refreshed, and excited, with new connections from all over the country. I can’t wait to continue this journey and see where it takes me. I have no doubt that it will be an absolutely amazing adventure.

August 19th 2017

The journey that led to ADE Academy

I’ve sat down a half dozen times to write this post, unsure of where to start. 

I suppose its best to explain what an ADE is, because it is in understanding the process by which I arrived at ADE Academy that my experience there is best understood. 

Apple Distinguished Educators is a worldwide program; a network of educators using technology in innovative ways. I’ve always been “the techie one” —- ever since high school when I was in all of the business ed classes learning all of the design software I could….maybe even back to late elementary/early middle school when I dove in to “Picture It” and engrossed myself fin adding filters and effects to pictures before incorporating them in to designs (I should have realized THEN that I would end up graduating as an art teacher with an emphasis in Graphic Design and Photography) 

I began my teaching career in the school district of La Crosse in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) school and though I hoped to fully utilize technology, found BYOD to be fairly clunky; with so much variance between devices that it made managing projects very difficult. My next year I was at an elementary school, where I was able to check ipads out of the library and use them to do graphic design projects (in Sketchbook X) as well as photo-manipulation. Year three brought me to a middle school where (finally!) the school was 1:1; with each student having their own iPad and each teacher with a Macbook and iPad. I used apps like Showbie, iTunes U, and Keynote and sites like “Today’s Meet” to incorporate tech into daily school life. “Photo Friday”—a day when students would create portfolio pages of the week’s sketchbook assignments and projects—- became an every day part of life; a part of life that would be there for the next few years as I continued working with both elementary (still in lab ipad setup) and middle school. 

After a couple years, I was shifted primarily to elementary school. It was in that shift that my technology integration further grew. I continued using my Professional Development Plan (PDP), Educator Effectiveness Plan, and Master’s Research to incorporate technology into my room, each year stepping further and further up the SAMR scale. What started as simply substituting an app for a piece of paper in art led to online courses, video tutorials, my “backflipped” model of classroom (not flipped….but close to it!), to stop motion and video creation, as well as augmented reality and multi-layered projects incorporating all of these elements. 

With my passion for technology and an understanding of its importance in the future lives of my students, I continued to seek out opportunities to learn and grow with technology. 

Apple Distinguished Educator is something I wanted not for the title, but for the opportunity to network with other educators from around the country and around the world who truly “get it.” ADEs were the teachers that lead other teachers, showing them innovative new technologies and new ways to use technology to transform their educational environments. 

I set to work on my ADE application, nervously filling it in with the lessons I’ve taught and the projects my students have created. I worked tirelessly on my application video, even giving up a Valentine’s Dinner with my husband to be sure my application had the final touches and was everything I wanted it to be. I submitted my application confidently with fingers and toes crossed and a wish upon a star, and two months later, my goal of becoming an ADE would become reality when I excitedly opened my email to find a “Congratulations” from Apple. 

This….I knew, would be a game changer, but it wasn’t until attending ADE Academy last week that I realized just how much of a game changer it would be. 

More on that tomorrow :) 

July 26th 2017

Once upon a time...

So, I’ve wanted to start a blog for a number of years, and after experiencing my first Apple Distinguished Educators Academy event, now seems like the perfect time.

I always wondered how I would start my blog… What to talk about and who would care about what I was thinking… but after attending the Apple Academy, I realized none of that really matters. Its not about who reads it…if anyone reads it….What matters most is getting your story out there; using your words to make a difference, small or large

it doesn’t matter that it’s perfect, it matters that it’s real.

So….where to begin? I guess….me…..who am I? How did I get to be the woman sitting at her computer, exhausted, with her puppy snuggled at her toes as she writes her first babbling blog. Well, here goes nothing.

Who am I, where I am right now?

I am a LaDue, a Day, a Riley and a Nugent; and all have shaped me into who I am. My sister and I grew up in a home surrounded by love and support from all of my many families, all of whom continue to support us as we navigate adulting. My sister has the sweetest son, Noah, who makes me laugh uncontrollably with his silly giggles, and he is the center of attention at nearly all of our family gatherings.

My father. who put the “LaDue” in me and gave me my outgoing personality, passed away when I was six years old; an experience that drastically altered my childhood. I remain close with his family, and all of my many cousins on that side of my family.

I was raised by my mom, a Day, and a single parent who is the most inspirational person I could ever know. After breaking her neck in middle school, my mom was told she would never walk again. Low and behold, she proved them wrong and would become only the third person to walk out of that hospital after suffering a broken neck. She then raised my sister and I after the death of my father and gave us every opportunity that any other kid had….and more. She did it all, from driving between states on the same day for dance competitions and student council camps to getting us to meetings and practices so we wouldn’t ever miss an opportunity. It is from her that I get my adventurous side, although I’m not certain that she’d describe herself that way. She also gave me a heart for service and a love of giving back, through her work with those with disabilities and her servant heart, constantly giving back to our community.

In 2006 I gained a new family, the Rileys, which not only my stepdad, but also his five sisters and all of their kids, many of whom I had gone to school with in our small Wisconsin town.

In 2011, I married my best friend Colin and became a Nugent, gaining a family of in-laws, where I fit in like one of their own. We’re the kind of family that believes in the power of laughter, with memes and gag gifts making frequent appearances at family events. Colin is my best friend, and it is with him by my side that many of my goals—including homeownership, achieving an undergraduate and masters degree, raising a puppy, and checking many items off my bucket list—- have been achieved.

I am a Wisconsinite. A Wisconsin native, born and raised in the small Americana town of Sparta; the kind of town where you’re favorite place to hang out is the old-fashioned ice cream and coffee shop downtown (Ginny’s is the best!), and, much like Cheers, “everyone knows your name.”  My hometown is known as the Bicycling Capital of America, and connects miles of bike trails. Summertime in this small town brings our ironically-named festival, Butterfest, which, aside from a cow-milking contest (which I may have won on a few occasions), has little to do with butter. Fall brings falling leaves, haunted houses, corn mazes, and chili nights at football games. In winter, lights decorate our small community park, snow covers the ground, and everyone can be found bundled up inside with a warm drink, and warmer conversation. Spring in Wisconsin brings road construction season, rain, and of course, flowers, in a state where 50 degrees in the fall means sweatshirt weather, and 50 degrees in spring means it’s time for shorts (Wisconsinites are so flexible!).

I am an adventurer, and I mean that in every sense of the word. I love to travel, and had wanderlust long before I knew what that word actually meant. I live my bucket list every day, seizing opportunities to try new things. I’ve watched a monsoon, fed a giraffe, swam with a dolphin, held a baby kangaroo, visited Korea and Europe, lived through a hurricane and a tornado, slept in a haunted house (for $50 nonetheless), slept on a porch swing, raised a puppy, watched fireworks with Scrooge McDuck, trick or treated in the Happiest Place on Earth, seen the Mona Lisa, designed a mural (complete with a Where’s Waldo), learned to blow glass, met my favorite singer (Gavin Degraw <3 <3 <3) and more. I seize opportunities to explore the world, even when that means it is on a shoestring budget. Growing up I did tons of activities, from figure skating, to baton twirling, color guard, dance, bowling, Girl Scout, Student Council, and more; all of which shaped me to embrace every moment, try new things, and continue to adventure every day.

I’m an art teacher in Wisconsin, about to enter my seventh year teaching. I teach in a school that is unique in many ways, like any other school. I teach in the upper corner of a two-story building in La Crosse, Wisconsin; a school that embraces diversity in unique ways. That two-story building contains two different schools; two different schools on two different calendars with two different philosophies.

The first floor of my school houses Hamilton Early Learning Center, a diverse school, especially for Wisconsin standards. Hamilton’s population consists of less than 53% white students, with 14% Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity (primarily Hmong), 12% Black, 7% Hispanic and 13% of students with two or more ethnicities. As of last November, over 70% of our students were considered economically disadvantaged; a number that is the second-most disadvantaged in our district and continually fluctuates with our highly transient population. We recently excitedly, had our first day of school, and for the first time are offering free breakfast and lunch all of our Hamilton students. The teachers at the school are a family, better known as the Hamily, where each member of our staff works to improve the lives of the students that attend our school, far beyond academics. We’re the kind of school Where you can find family night frequently, a social worker helping families with services, anti-teachers to constantly bend over backwards to improve their students lives outside of school, ensuring they have what they need to succeed.  

The second floor of my school houses the School of Technology and the Arts, a school that is home to the most affluent students in our area, with only a little over 30% economically disadvantaged students. This charter school features for constructs, with an emphasis on integrating the arts in the classroom. In the school are the only students to have drama class in our district, and can begin learning strings instruments in just first grade. The students have extra art time during Hamilton intercessions, and spend 30 minutes per week in a multi-age classroom known as community room. They frequently have artist-in-residence visits, and and their year with a special performance called the informance.

I have a desire to teach art and a love of technology, which come together to create crazy adventures in my classroom. In 2017, I was beyond honored to become a part of the Apple Distinguished Educator’s Class of 2017, (best class ever!). After seeing the stories of other Apple Distinguished Educators and the way they share their stories of the world, I was inspired to continue to share my own.

I am an artist. I have an undergraduate degree in Art and Education from the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse (although I’m truly a UW-Green Bay Phoenix at heart) and as part of my education, took courses in everything from painting, which I absolutely loved, to metalsmithing, which I quickly realized wasn’t really my style. My favorite mediums are photography and graphic design, as well as glassblowing, which I learned through an undergraduate research grant.

I am a volunteer. I volunteer as a member of the board of both the La Crosse Public Education Foundation and Sparta Public Education Foundation, both of which provide grants to teachers to further innovation in the classroom. I also volunteer with Sparta Butterfest as a webmaster, social media contributor and designer. I also co-direct the Miss Sparta Pageant - no judging - where I have helped young women give back hundreds of hours of service and thousands of dollars to our local community. Yes, it’s a pageant (for one night out of 365 in the year) but the organization and the girls that I work with are so much more than “beauty queens.” For starters, we are the only Miss Wisconsin affiliated pageant in Wisconsin that does NOT require that our girls compete in swimsuit. Instead, they give a two minute speech on how they will give back to their community. Empowering, right? Our community helps hold our girls accountable. I love working with them and giving back, but often get judgy faces when I tell people I help with a pageant. I don’t help because of the giltz and glam (although…what art teacher doesn’t love a little sparkle ;)), I help because of the profound difference that this organization makes in the lives of not only the winners, but all of the contestants, and all of the community organizations that we’re a part of.

I am a friend. I feel so incredibly grateful for the friends that have been by my side along my adventure. From Sam (my bff from 3rd grade who just-so-happened to become an art teacher too) to the “Supper 6″ (a group of ADEs I met at a conference less than a week ago and already feel an incredible bond with) and all along the path between, my friends have given me new perspectives, inspiration, and too many laughs and memories to count.

I am unapologetically Bethany, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You see, all of these parts of me have shaped who I am. I am surrounded by a network of friends, family, teachers, students, and people whose lives and experiences have intertwined with mine to root me firmly in my beliefs with a strong foundation from which to continue to build on. I look to each day with optimism, creativity, and a smile, believing wholeheartedly that I will make a difference.

July 23rd 2017
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July 23rd 2017