Thursday, April 24, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week -- How Tech Transformed Me

It's National Infertility Awareness Week, and while this might not seem related to a blog about transforming instruction with technology, I'd like to share how infertility and social media transformed my life.

I was a social media user before infertility.  I blogged about my dogs and books I'd read.  I tweeted about Harry Potter.  I had a community of people I regularly interacted with.  It was great, but at that time social media was a hobby for me.  Entertainment.  A way to practice my writing and spend some time interacting with others.  Fun.

When infertility came along, however, social media became a lifeline.

Despite the fact that 1 in 8 couples or 7.3 million American women experience infertility, I didn't know anyone who was dealing with it.  Most of my friends didn't have kids, weren't trying to conceive, or were newly pregnant without a struggle.  I didn't have anyone to talk to who could answer my questions or just emphasize with the awful emotional roller coaster I was on.

I started blogging about our struggles because I needed to talk about it.  I needed to put my feelings out there.  I needed a way to process what we were going through.  So I put it out there -- the surgeries, the needles, the hormones, the horrible emotions -- I shared it all.

The more I put myself out there and shared our story, the more connections I made with people who were facing similar struggles.  I was welcomed into the infertility community and found answers, understanding, and friendship.  And the friends who weren't struggling with responded with more love and support than I could have imagined.

Sharing my story truly changed my life.  It helped me connect with the people I needed in my life at that moment -- my people.  Sharing my story gave me the space to work through the anger, the tears, the fear, and the joy.  It taught me to advocate for myself.  Sharing my story taught me to be a better support for my friends, regardless of their struggles.  It gave me the opportunity to educate others on the realities of infertility.

Not only did my social media use help me find the community I needed, it taught me about the real power of social media.  I was able to use social media to share, question, learn, teach, reach out, laugh, cry, and advocate.  I walked away from my experience with infertility not only as the mom to my beautiful daughters, but with a strong belief that we all deserve the chance to tell our stories, to educate the world, to find our people.  I want this for our students, and I want this for our teachers.

Tell your story.  Listen to others' stories.  Reach out.  Connect.  Find your people.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Tech Things on a Friday v.12

It's Friday, and that means I'm sharing some of my favorite tech tools, news, and videos.  This week, I'm sharing five of my favorite apps you can use in Google Chrome.  Have you been to the Chrome Web Store?  There are so many wonderful free apps and browser's a little overwhelming!  To help you get started, here are five of my favorite apps:
  • Movenote for Education allows you to present your documents with video.  What a great way to present an upcoming project by allowing students and parents to see and hear you explain the project while following along with the directions.  Students could also record themselves presenting a project or explaining a math problem.  Movenote integrates with Google Drive, allowing you to easily create presentations using documents from your Drive.  Presentations are then saved in Drive for you to access and share.
  • Tired of PowerPoint?  Getting sick from too many Prezis?  Check out Powtoon Edu!  Powtoon allows you to easily create animated videos and presentations which can be quickly shared to YouTube, Facebook, or downloaded to your computer.  Here's a peek at what Powtoon looks like:

  • I've heard several teachers say that they miss having Kidspiration and Inspiration.  Well, now you can have Lucidchart for Education!  Lucidchart allows you to create flow charts, venn diagrams, mind maps and more...and it allows you to do it collaboratively!
  • If you're a fan of Publisher, I think LucidPress Layout and Design will quickly become your new favorite publishing tool.  LucidPress allows you to create beautiful content for print, digital, or mobile platforms.  Check it out: 

  • My final app to share this week is  I love to watch TED talks, but I struggled with how to jot down notes or remember key moments that I wanted to return to. allows me to take notes alongside YouTube and Coursera videos.  What I love most is that my notes are synchronized with the video.  If I click on a note, I can automatically jump to that point in the video.  This would be a great tool for students to use to take note on video assignments or if you are flipping the classroom!  
What are some of your favorite Google Apps?  How are you using them in your classroom?