Tech for Kids: An Infographic

As parents and teachers, we sometimes struggle with knowing which tech skills with which to start our kids off early.

Well, here’s a good starting point. TECH for kids

Foto Friday: The Distance

He looks out into the distance, eyes trying to focus on the hope of what is beyond–beyond his glass walls, beyond his patch of withering grass, beyond his captivity.

Gentle Giant

The Distance

Getting Kids to DIY: Arduino

leo_1988.jpgLast year, I went to a training for SparkFun, an electronics retailer in here in Colorado that manufactures and sells microcontroller development boards and breakout boards. Going to the PD was a pivotal point in my development as a technology teacher because I was taking my knowledge from a purely web-based set of knowledge and skills to actual object-based coding and product development. Under the guidance of the other Tech teacher, I was able to then turn around and teach my newfound coding skills to my students. Every day was an adventure because I was learning something, and then immediately applying it in the classroom. Getting involved in the electronics DIY movement has been more than just fun and enriching, but has challenged me to think about how things are made and how I can make them better (instead of complaining about how they don’t work).

Angelina Ramirez (L) and Stacey Adame of Team 567 Safety present their fire door alarm to the judges during the Guppy Tank competition for 8th graders May 20, 2015 from Denver’s KIPP Academy. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post)

Team 56 Safety presents their fire door alarm during the Guppy Tank competition (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post)

Mr. Best, the 8th grade Tech teacher, has taken teaching middle schoolers how to use technology to a whole new level. This last trimester has been in preparing our 8th graders for Denver’s first Guppy Tank, which you can read about here. Seeing my students up there speaking so eloquently about something that they thought of on their own, 3D printed, built and programmed on their own, and then presented to a board of potential investors was one of my proudest moments as an educator.

I fully intend on introducing my daughters to web-based and object based coding, learning how to build circuits, solder, etc… The basic projects are incredibly easy and tech skills, even basic ones, are essential to have in an age where EVERYTHING in our kids lives has its foundation in tech.


What is Arduino?

  2. Forefront Beginner’s Guide to Arduino 
  3. Instructables (videos)
  4. MakeUseOf

Getting Started

  2. This is a set of video tutorials on YouTube and they are GREAT! 
  3. SparkFun Tutorials

Where to Buy

  1. Radio Shack (yes, I know they’re going under, but they while they’re still here, most of them still have really great in-store selections!)
  2. SparkFun Website
  3. Arduino Website

In the comments below, please let me know if I can help you find exactly what you are looking for or if you have any more questions.

Also, spread the love by sharing this post around your own part of the social media universe!

Moving On

I distinctly remember sitting somewhere in the middle of the sanctuary as a child, desperately wanting to get closer to the missionary that was speaking at my church. Hearing her stories of adventure and living on faith sparked my imagination and birthed an incurable wanderlust. After those Sunday night services, I would corner the visiting missionaries, begging for more stories and more vivid descriptions than they had time for. I prayed for years, asking God to make me a missionary so I could have my own adventures and explore exotic lands and cultures.

Fast forward 20 years and having some extensive travel under my belt, I am incredibly grateful for all my experiences, especially the ones that are about to come. About a year ago, my husband and I realized that we needed to move to Germany. God has a funny way of showing you your next turn in life and then taking dreams and making them a reality. We didn’t know how we were going to get over there, but we were ready and willing to sell everything and just go-no job or place to live-if we needed to. I started applying for teaching jobs all over Germany and praying that one would come through. 31 applications and 30 rejections later, and I received an interview request. That interview then turned into a job offer and I gladly accepted! I would be working at a German-English Bilingual school in Potsdam, a small town 30 minutes outside Berlin. Everything was looking up and we were even investigating housing options in Potsdam when the thing I most dreaded happened-an email saying that something was wrong with my hiring process. The state that Potsdam in in, Brandenburg, had a law requiring all foreign teachers to pass the C1 German fluency exam, that required near perfect fluency.  I was devastated, and after looking for loopholes (of which none applied to me), we had to resign that I could work there starting in August. SInce all the teaching positions I was qualified to teach in at my current school had already been filled, I didn’t have a job here and we had to find a solution and quickly!

Now this grey area between what you know has been promised and despair at not seeing the promise can be a deep pit of hopelessness and doubt and the only thing that held me together and stopped me from loosing sight was my faith and the hope that all things would work together for good. I had to relinquish whatever control I thought I had and trust that Germany had been put on our hearts for a reason. I also had to be okay with God’s timing. Maybe now wasn’t right and I have to be okay with that.

OK, back to quick changes-We were getting desperate and didn’t know what to do. We talked about moving straight to Germany without a job, yet for some reason, we felt that we should as his parents if we could stay with them for a few months  until we could figure things out…we were going to be there for Christmas anyway, so what was a few extra months? They’ve always said that they would never tell their children that they couldn’t come back home if they ever needed to, so we will be moving in with them the last week of June. I’ll be starting language school soon after we arrive and Sofie will begin kindergarten at the school my mother-in-law teaches at.

Did I mention that my in-laws live in Paraguay…South America?! yea…small detail, I know.

So yea, life is crazy and we’re doing crazy things like selling everything, picking up and moving to 2 different continents in the span of a year, but you know what? I’d rather be doing God’s “crazy” and know that He has a plan than my playing it safe and living a normal-safe-life-will-go-as-planned-kinda life.

I’m more than ecstatic to see what’s in store fore us. I know that there is a plan and I have no idea where we’ll be in a year, but I’m learning to give up control and trust God more and work with my husband as a true team and value my daughters more and hey!–the pictures and memories will be great!

So, until next time, remember that all who wander are not lost and look forward to some spectacular updates because life has a funny way of being completely crazy but good too.

Running for a Reason

KIPP Runs ColfaxOn February 12, 2015 I wrote this Facebook post:

There is no module in teacher training or PD on how to tell your students about the death of one of their teachers, but that is exactly what we did today. It was the single most difficult day I’ve experienced as a teacher, but I am so grateful to be at the school I do-it is beautiful to see a community pull together and support each other, students, teachers, faculty, and parents alike in times of tragedy like this. Life is so short and can be taken away at a moment’s notice and without explanation. Hug those you love a little longer, make amends with those you should, and live life with passion and purpose, for we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

This Sunday, I will be running in the Colfax Marathon Relay with over 100 other fellow teachers, students, and supporters of KIPP: Colorado to honor the memory of one of the best teachers and passionate people I have ever had the privilege of working with. Peter Ewbank, our 8th grade Composition at KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy, passed away this February suddenly.

Peter was passionate about finding ways to reduce the achievement gap and to keep his memory alive and make his lasting impact, his family, friends, and co-workers have banded together and created PEAK Achievers Foundation, a foundation whose objective is to help underprivileged youth with the college experience and to reinforce and build upon college preparedness skills emphasized by KIPP. As a PEAK Achiever, select 8th graders will work through 5 years of leadership and mentoring courses and will volunteer to make their community a better place. Additionally, at the end of their Senior year, one PEAK Achiever will be awarded a substantial scholarship to help them make their way to and through college. I have personally taught all of the 8th graders in this first cohort of PEAK Achievers and the students that will be in next year’s cohort. They are incredibly hard working students that refuse to allow their circumstances to hold them back from achieving their goals. They are kind, show grit in the hardest of times, and have shown grace even when their world came crashing down around them. They are world shakers and changers and it has been a privilege being their teacher.

To support PEAK Achievers, all of the runners have committed to raise money in support of this foundation. I have never asked anything of my readers, but this one time I will…If you would, please help me support the PEAK Achievers in one of the following ways:

  1. Help me reach my financial goal by giving on this secure webpage
  2. Share my donating page on all your social media sites
  3. Share this post to raise awareness for the PEAK Achievers Foundation
  4. Spread the word and tell your friends and family!

KIPP Runs Colfax

Thank you so much for your readership and thank you for contribution, whether it was financial or through spreading the word. I am passionate about helping my students rise above their circumstances so they have all the opportunity of choice in their future.

Foto Friday: Bathing in Sunlight

Had the pleasure of capturing this serene moment of a fierce predator.

Had the pleasure of capturing this serene moment of a fierce predator.

Arches National Park

I love visiting new and exciting places, and one of the MANY on my bucket list was Arches National Park in Utah. Enjoy some of my pictures from this breathtaking day. Oh, and a side note…one afternoon was not nearly enough time to do this place justice. I wish I had a whole week to explore this place and have the time to sit and enjoy its beauty instead of rushing from one arch to another.

Bow Ties are Cool


Photo Friday: Fall Colors

I love the fall colors so much that I wanted to share this picture I took on the way to Mesa Verde last fall…


Wean, don’t whine.

I’ve gotta admit, I’ve not been much of myself this past week. I’ve been a little more emotional than usual and it’s taken me some time to figure out why…my youngest, Lore, is weaning.

“Oh…”, you say…one of THOSE posts…

Yes. it is.

Lore, who is less than a week from turning 1, is my cuddly one. Out of my two daughters, she’s always been more cuddly and typically enjoys being held for long periods of time. I’ve gotten used to this and I enjoy it. Breastfeeding was SO HARD at the beginning and for about the first 6 weeks, I almost quit at least 6 times a day, but little by little, the pain and torture eased and it became easy. This time, nursing was actually enjoyable. Lore and I cuddled, we played, when she was sick or upset or hurting or just needed some intimacy, nursing is usually what she needed to calm her down. Quite frankly, as a mother, there’s just something so special knowing that by body is doing this amazing thing every day, all day long, and producing a life-sustaining necessity.

When my first daughter stopped nursing, it wasn’t too big of a deal. I never really felt “good at it” and by the time she was 9 months old, we had just moved across the country and I started a job where I didn’t get enough time to pump, so there was a noticeable difference right away. She realized this, and as the independent little person Sofie is, she just stopped cold turkey–she wasn’t interested anymore. So, from one day to the next, she stopped nursing and it was fine with me. I had been looking forward to it.

But it’s not that way this time.

I’m more sure of myself this time around and have gained a sense of self-confidence as a nursing-mother. I was prepared to let Lore nurse (almost) as long as she wanted. I even looked forward to getting home from work so the first thing I could do was cuddle with her and feed her. But now, she’s just not as interested and it was pretty sudden. No preparation, just BAM! all grown up–at least it seems that way.

I know our kids are supposed to grow up and it is a part of a healthy social/emotional/physical development to detach from mom. I just hadn’t prepared myself yet.

So my new mantra for this time is “Wean, don’t whine”. Appreciate all the good around me and how Lore is amazing and growing up and healthy and yes, again, amazing. I love seeing her grow up and this is a part of it.

How about you…were you ready for it when your little one stopped nursing? What were some perks to having a weaned baby vs. a nursing baby? Please add your comments below to add to the discussion!

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