WEMTA 2016

This is a little past-due, but it’s still worth the share!



On April 11th, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a day of the WEMTA conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. WEMTA is the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association, and each year this association holds a conference for education personnel (teachers, administrators, professors, librarians, etc.). This year, WEMTA was held for three days, and I attended the second day.

Let’s just be clear here–this was an awesome event. I attended with my Ed. Media Apps instructor and a few fellow classmates. I attended a few speakers, but what was really cool is that my group were speakers! I had so many people asking, as I was wearing my UWP shirt, “Oh, when did you graduate?” and having to tell them that I am, indeed, still a student. That shocked them. What probably shocked them more, however, was when they saw that I was both a first time attendee and a presenter. Talk about getting your foot in the door!

I’ve included some photos, some taken by me, others taken by my fellow classmates. It was such an educational and awesome opportunity. I am so glad I went, even if I did miss four classes. I learned so much, and even snagged some goodies at the Vendor Hall. Hopefully I’ll make it back there someday!


This was our presentation! It functioned more as a workshop where attendees learned how to use a simple green screen.
The paintings at the Kalahari Resort, where the conference as held, were super extravagant. Perhaps they were not as awesome as the conference itself, but they were totally selfie-worthy.



The Wisdom of My Fellow Bloggers

As I have mentioned, I started this blog for my Ed. Media Apps class. Throughout my blogging days, my fellow classmates have been blogging their way through the semester too. So, in this post, I will showcase the top three things I have learned from my fellow bloggers.

  1. To begin, in his blog, Wesley Wingert talks to his readers about Green Screening. His this blog posts, he lists a nice little “Q&A” section about the benefits of using the green screen in the classroom. Here’s the section featuring those questions and answers–

Q. Where can I find the materials for a green screen, and how much will it cost?

A. Actually, a cheap and effective way to build a green screen is buy finding an open space and taping or hooking a green shower curtain to the wall. One would also need, preferably, a tripod and a recording device such as an ipad or camcorder.

Q. What devices can use green screen technology?

A. Certain apple devices can download apps (for a small fee) that warp the green screen behind you as you record, but also most computers can change the green screen while editing the footage on imovie.

Q. Where can I find an awesome example of a green screen project?

A. Look no further. Keep in mind, this was done for a school project and used a minimal budget: perfect for teachers!

Any further question?  From working with Wesley on a green screen project, I found that he has many great and innovated ideas for using this tool in the classroom. Green screening is a (simple) way to add a little fun into education. With green screening, the possibilities are endless. Further, I highly recommend checking out the green screening video Wesley posted on his blog. Also, check out his Demoslam on green screening!

2. My fellow blogger Stephanie Walrack talks about Pinterest as collaboration tool in the classroom. Before this post, I only saw Pinterest in the light of DIY home crafts (I am a very crafty person…crafty as in craft-making). Stephanie is also a secondary education major like myself, so I tuned right in to this blog post. She says she looks at Pinterest for lesson plans! I learned from her that you can quite literally search for lesson plan ideas on Pinterest. Goodbye, broad Google search, right? Once you find something you like, you can “pin” it to your board for later usage and even share those ideas with fellow teachers. Give me a second, I have to make a Pinterest account now…

Also, I really like Stephanie’s Philosophy pageI love reading other future teachers’ education philosophies, and Stephanie has some great beliefs!

3. My third learning experience is from Patrick SwansonIn one of his blog posts, he talks about a flipped classroom. I was always intrigued by the idea of a flipped classroom, so Patrick’s post helped answer a lot of my questions. Unfortunately, Patrick had a bad experience with a flipped classroom, but his bad experience helped me to know what not to do in a flipped classroom situation. For example, in a flipped classroom, the lesson is taught outside the classroom–the lesson basically becomes homework. The classroom time then becomes a homework or study session where the students can work with the teacher on any problems that arose when they watched/ listened to the lesson. Because of this, teachers should make their lessons very clear and thorough so students can easily understand them. Aside from the bad, Patrick also highlighted some good aspects of a flipped classroom. Some good points include, students can learn the lesson on their own time which gives them the time they need to learn. Some students need more time to understand a lesson while some need less.

I highly recommend checking out Patrick’s blog post. He posted some links about flipped classrooms that can clear up any confusion or questions that someone might have!


Communication and Collaboration: Google Hangouts


Google Hangouts is just one of the many collaboration tools that can used to foster classroom communication. Google Hangouts allows users to chat to individuals or in groups, make phone calls, and make video calls–all for free. All one needs to do is sign up for a Google account, preferable a Google Plus account.


Here’s a screenshot of my Hangouts page, if I follow the link above. As you can see, you can video chat or message anyone if your contacts. To add someone to your chat, you simply need to add their Google email (Gmail) into the search bar. You can also search by name, but I recommend searching by Gmail because when you search by name, you get basically any Google Plus user. 

Google Hangouts can be used in the classroom for many different uses. For example, if students are working in groups for a project, they can communicate over Hangouts via group chat so everyone gets the message (way easier than group texting).Teachers can also bring in “guest speakers” via video call on Hangouts. This way, the students can still communicate in real time with the speaker without the speaker having to physically travel to the classroom. This can also be helpful if the speaker had planned to come to the classroom but cannot travel a long distance due to, say, weather. Further, teachers can also communicate with students via video call if they are away from the class. For example, if you as a teacher had to unexpectedly leave school but had a test to give the same day, you can make a quick call to the class to give them instruction on the test while another teacher watches over them. 

Overall, Google Hangouts is very simple to use. For those who need a little help, Google Support has a great Help Page. 

If you are curious about more communication and collaboration tools, check out Collaboration LiveBinder!

Tools for Formative Assessment: Kahoot

Today I’m going to tell you about Kahoot! Kahoot is a free online assessment source. You simply have to sign up to use it. Users then are able to create their own learning games in which they can add their own questions, images, and videos. Need some inspiration on why to use Kahoot? On their website, Kahoot features stories from other blogs and news sources on how to use Kahoot as an assessment tool as well as articles that basically tell readers how fun and easy Kahoot is. Give them a read!

Kahoot is a wonderful tool because it put a little fun into assessment. A quiz on Kahoot can be used to measure how much students learned from a lesson without having the students feel like they are taking a formal quiz. Students (or “players”) simply have to join the quiz using a PIN and a username. Students can use a computer or mobile device, it doesn’t matter–as long as they are online, they can assess your Kahoot! There is a feature that blocks cruel or crude names from being made. Students then take the quiz online as a group. Each question is timed and scored. The one with the most points at the end wins!

Kahoot is a good tool to use for review games. It’s slightly competitive and fun–and it’s also a form of assessment so students are learning! In addition, quizzes on Kahoot can be made for any subject! Kahoot also has an entire page dedicated on ways to play Kahoot! These include using Kahoot to introduce new topics, as a form of assessment, or even as a survey. Kahoot offers many features for your need of assessment. For example, an introductory Kahoot can be used later in a lesson to assess how much students have learned. There is a mode called “Ghost Mode” that allows students to play against their previous scores.

There are also many great step-by-step tutorials that walk you through how to use Kahoot if you are a beginner. I have one here:

If videos aren’t your thing, Kahoot also has a step-by-step tutorial PDF.

Interested in trying out this cool new tool? You can find out how Kahoot works here and get started for free!

Guest Blog!

Guess what? I get a introduce a guest blogger! What’s even more awesome is I don’t have to write this entire blog myself!

My guest blogger is Wesley Wingert, who is a near and dear friend, classmate, and royal pain. He is a secondary education English major at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

And now, I shall turn it over to Mr. Wingert.

Hello! My name is Wesley Wingert and I’ve known Ms. Burbach for my entire college career. Together we’ve shared our opinions on a wide variety of topics, one of the most important being education. Of course, we are both on the way to becoming teachers. This semester, for the first time we share a class together: Educational Media Applications. I’ve been invited to write on her blog, so here goes.

It’s April 4th. It’s my birthday today. My 21st, in fact. But I’m not thinking about drinking, and not very much about celebrating (though I did go out to dinner). What am I thinking about? One research paper in my Shakespeare class, one in my Classical Mythology class, and another research paper in my History of the English Language class, all due near the end of the semester. On top of all of this, of course, is the rest of my regular homework load, which includes daily hours of reading from all of these subjects and a healthy dose of studying and homework from my Spanish course. Usually I am not one to procrastinate. In fact, if I don’t have a paper done days before it is do, I feel extremely guilty and a little ashamed of myself.

Lately, though, I feel I have been procrastinating. I haven’t started a single one of these large projects, because, well, I’ve been doing all my other homework and I’ve been able to tell myself that I’m doing enough. But I’m not. So I need a way to focus, and restrain myself to getting my work done. Now, in order to cut myself off from playing videogames, there’s a simple solution. I’ll have my brother hide my power cord. But, on the matter of getting distracted on my laptop, well… I can’t exactly hide that. I need it to write my papers. So what can I do? Well, technology, of course. I found an extension for Google Chrome called “Stay Focused”. What you can do with this extension is limit the amount of time that you will allow yourself to spend on a website each day. I plan on setting my allotted time to Facebook to be no more than 10 minutes each day. With this in place, rest assured I will solely be working on my projects (however slowly). This entire thing may seem a little silly, but when it comes down to it, it is very easy to get distracted and/or procrastinate in an age where technology surrounds you. But, as you have just read, technology can help you if you know what to look for.

So, if technology has helped me in my personal life with just a minimal amount of effort, what are its implications in the classroom? Well, as I’m sure Ms. Burbach has already mentioned in numerous blog posts, infusing technology into the classroom is not only entertaining, but also essential. Teachers need to keep up with their students in order to understand and relate to them, but, most importantly, keep them interested in what they’re teaching. Believe it or not, there are fun technology tools for almost any topic (Coolmath4kids, anyone?). If you don’t believe me, just google them. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my little interruption in Ms. Burbach’s blog. Bye now!

The SAMR Model

The SAMR Model, taken from Dr. Puentedura’s blog.

The SAMR Model (also called the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model) was created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura and has changed the way technology impacts both teaching and learning. The SAMR Model is a progressive model that teachers can follow as they integrate technology into the classroom.

Google has published a site titled “Technology is Learning(following quote taken from the site) that explains the SAMR Model in more detail.

While one might argue over whether an activity can be defined as one level or another, the important concept to grasp here is the level of student engagement. One might well measure progression along these levels by looking at who is asking the important questions.  As one moves along the continuum, computer technology becomes more important in the classroom but at the same time becomes more invisibly woven into the demands of good teaching and learning.

The SAMR Model can be applied to nearly any academic subject. As a future social science/ history teacher, I know that the SAMR Model will impact my teaching. Sometimes history can either be hard to grasp or just plain boring for kids (or both). It can be difficult to contextualize or analyze a photo or painting taken centuries ago. With the SAMR Model, history can come to life.

I made the following video to demonstrate just that.

Now, I credit myself as being a proud future history teacher, but technically I am a proud future social science teacher. Still, the SAMR Model can be applied to every social science out there. Here’s a very basic Geography example taken from EdofICTJSSALC Wiki.

SAMR travel guide flow chart2

Admittedly, that’s not my favorite example for geography (why not use virtual reality for cultural geography!), but it is simple and easy to execute.

The beauty about technology is that a) there is so much other there and b) it has the ability to do things textbooks can’t. Sure, there are some good historical films that can be shown, but how many historians have watched seemingly accurate history films and still found inaccuracies? It doesn’t have to be that way! Why not have students make their own historical “movies” that they can share with the class! The SAMR Model allows teachers to take all that technological “stuff” that is available and put it to use in a fun and educational manner. For those reasons and more, the SAMR Model will definitely impact how I teach my future students.


index Indeed, in all of my courses I am learning new information, skills, and trends in education, but none of them are as mentally overwhelming and stimulating as learning about the integration of technology in the classroom.

I am learning about this integration of technology in Ed. Media Apps. The integration of technology is just what it sounds like–using technology in the classroom to amplify teaching and better learning. The thing is, there are so many options out there in terms of technology. That’s the overwhelming part. I mean, a month ago, Google was just a search engine, Google+ was this boring thing my friend from Hungary showed me, and Google Docs and Drive were things we made in high school because the computers were as old as we were and apparently were prone to viruses from USB drives (What are those things even called anymore? Thumb drives? I’ve always just called them “USB’s”). Now I’m learning that Google makes virtual reality devices. When did that happen? I swear I haven’t been living under a rock. As I have stated before in this post, I didn’t see much technology while in primary and secondary school. Now that I, a future educator, am exposed to the many options and wonders of integrating technology into the classroom, it’s rather overwhelming.

Technology as a whole is making a huge impact on education. There are many ways and models to integrate technology into the classroom, such as the SAMR model. By integrating technology into the classroom, students and teachers are able to explore their subject more–and faster. Technology allows for on-demand learning. Technology opens a new world of projects. Sure, posters were always fun to make…but what about self-narrated videos?  Further, teachers should really be on the lookout with a careful eye for new technology. Not only does it keep the teacher in-touch with their students both culturally and socially, but technology as a whole probably isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Technology is what kids are used to now-a-days. Why not bring that familiarity into the classroom? As I stated before, integrating technology into teaching gives students nearly endless opportunities to learn and grow. Of course, the “old” ways of teaching with a good ol’ white board and projects made of poster board don’t have to be thrown out the window–but let’s be honest, which of the following sounds both fun and educational: making a poster about a country or researching  a country, looking up local places on Google Maps, and then making a green screen video explaining signification locations in the country? I’m not trying to swing your vote here, but I’m liking the sound of the latter option.

Now, integrating technology sounds fun, fine, and dandy, right? But..how does a teacher do such a thing? How can they if they don’t have the support or funding? Where do they start? When does technology stop becoming educational and start becoming just for fun?

Those questions overwhelm me a bit. Technology can be a wonderful thing in a classroom if it is used correctly. There are many, many things out on the Internet that are complete garbage, but there are many, many more things that are useful. It’s all about knowing where and how to look. First, you can Google it! Trying looking up educational apps for students. If there is someone out there who is knowledgeable about technology integration in the classroom (like Mrs. Brogley), consult them. Search for other teachers in your area–or not in your area–who may be having the same issues, or search for teachers who have integrating technology successfully into their classrooms and ask them how they were able to do so. Search for conferences on the topic (or many just the hashtag of a conference) and follow the conversation. Use technology to learn about technology!


A quick edit.

12476921_10153860481495196_821978036_oThis is a photo of the top of my bookshelf, something I prize. It consists of a block with one of my favorite sayings, a copy of the original document of citizenship from my Prussian Great-Great-Great Grandpa Burbach, dated 1860, a mini jack-o-lantern lantern, some of my most prized books that are too large for regular shelves, a teddy bear piggy bank-turned book stopper that my sister painted and gifted to me years ago, and finally a Parrot rifle model that I bought at Antietam National Battlefield. Above it is a block that reads “Once upon a time..” that I found on an Alice in Wonderland (huge Alice fan) display at my favorite bookstore.

I wanted to make that block stand out because it fits the nature of a bookshelf so well. I find the saying “Once upon a time…” to be open-ended and imaginative. That very phrase can spark thousands of thoughts. Not only does this phrase initiate creative fictional thoughts, but also has implications of an unknown past. Once upon a time, a man named Nicholas Burbach became an American citizen; once upon a time, a great civil war shook the nation…the possibilities are endless.

Technological changes in the past 10 years

Remember taking typing tests in elementary school? Remember those awful floppy disks? Remember VHS’s and VCRs? I do, and boy, I do not miss them. Elementary school for me was about as tech-less as one can imagine today. Sure, we did some learning computer games (Math Blasters, anyone?) and of course typing tests, but never did we have hands-on technology to enhance our learning. That stuff just didn’t exist! I remember movies days, when the teacher would have to go to the library and get a TV cart (of course, with a tube TV attached to it), wheel that unsightly thing into the classroom, and then place it just right at the front of the room so everyone could see it. Large screens apparently didn’t exist in the early 2000’s. Oh, and let’s not forget research projects. Say, my third grade self wanted to learn about Harry S. Truman for my social studies Presidents’ Day project. How grateful was I that my library had not one but TWO additions of World Book Encyclopedia! Of course, myself and most of my classmates dreaded those things more than chicken patty lunch days (couldn’t we have gotten an upgrade on lunch too?), but alas, no one even thought about hopping on Google to do research.

I’ve observed elementary classrooms where there are SmartBoards that the class works on together and laptops, tablets, IPads, and computers for kids to access when they please. It blew my mind to see little fingers typing as fast as myself, or swiping screens with more efficiency that I could manage. I had to take a step back and realize that a lot has changed in the past ten years.

It wasn’t until the last years of high school that SmartBoards were used throughout my school. Before that, whiteboards were the “big deal”. Of course, nearly everyone knew what a smartphone was (or had one) by the end of my senior year and most people had updated laptops. In the first two years or so of high school (2009, 2010), my computer teacher (yeah, we actually got taught computer skills and coding back then!) bought a cart of Dell laptops that could be rented out by teachers. What a lovely idea! …Except those laptops were old and practically useless when the school got them. What started as a nice start to integrating technology into the classroom turned into a flop due to poor funding and unease about change. The thing is, though, things had already changed by then and those changes were not stopping.

I suppose those changes were spurred by the evolution of information processing and communications. Let’s be honest, we like things fast and we like things immediately. Ever had a slow computer? It’s awful, isn’t it? Yet it was less than a decade ago that people were suffering through dial-up internet. Google, Apple, and Samsung have made huge leaps in technology over the years, and people are fascinated by it. It’s curiosity and convenience, really, that got people caught on the fast track of technology integration in schools. Technology is a wonderful thing. It allows us to connect to other people and ideas in a blink of an eye. It allows us to learn more information faster. It’s no surprise that teachers want to integrate SmartBoards and IPads into their classrooms. Technology makes lessons fun for everyone. It allows us to do more, see more, and be more. What’s nice about technology today is that someone has already done it. A new and creative lesson is just a Google search away!

Just me and my blog…

Welcome to my first blog post! In this post I will explain my goals for this semester, Spring 2016, what my plans for this blog is, and why, exactly, I want to be a teacher.

To begin, my main goal for this semester hasn’t really strayed from my normal goal–that is, to continue my streak of getting nothing lower than an A- in any of my classes. I’m a junior in college and have a straight A academic record. How crazy is that! Aside from that, I have nearly completed my social science requirements (sadly, and my history emphasis), so now I’m focusing on education classes. While my other classes are clearly very important, it is these education classes that really mean a lot–I’m learning things I was never exposed to. To narrow my goals a little bit more, my goal for this semester in Ed. Media Apps is to learn how to integrate technology into my future classroom. Technology is constantly moving forward, so I’m learning that if I don’t keep moving forward with it, I’ll be lost in no time!

Admittedly, I’ve never blogged before…However, I have big plans for this blog. I not only plan to express my ideas as a future educator but as a history lover as well. I also plan to establish myself in a professional manor.

I have a great passion for learning and teaching. I have always liked sharing my knowledge with others, and I have always liked explaining and teaching things (not only to feel pride in myself and the person I’m teaching, but also to help myself feel more secure with what I know). They say that in order to teach something, you have to know that material pretty well, right? My interest to learn, grow, and pass that information on to others has been a large influence on why I have decided to pursue a career in education.

I was extremely lucky to have a great social studies teacher in high school. Not only was she entertaining and knowledgeable in the classroom, she was always looking out for her students. In the middle of my high school career, I hit a rough patch—I lost my best friend for reasons I will never understand, I was stressed with my new job which pulled away my weekends and homework time, and I was just all-around not okay with the situations going on in my life. My teacher could detect those kinds of things in her students. She pulled me aside one day after class, hugged me, and listened to me as I, holding back tears, told her how I felt with my life at that moment in time. Looking back, I realize that that stress and those feelings I was feeling may have been minuscule, but to this teacher, they were not. Those few minutes changed my definition of what it means to be a teacher. Those few minutes made me realize that I want to be a teacher, one who listens and reaches out when need be—who can be trusted, while still being able to influence their students to excel in the classroom.