April 6

Recap of #RSCON5 Mini-Conference

I spent this morning with educators from all over the world and I loved it!!! We talked about sites and resources that we can use to help make our lives easier, make our students more engaged and provide a platform for our students to share their work. We met online and we talked, laughed, inspired and engaged one another. Fingers typed out comments in the chatroom, shared examples of student/teacher work and clicked links to register for new online tools.  It was a good morning.

It started out with a freestyle rap from the musical guest Jason Levine @FluencyMC.  He reminded us that it is okay to be silly. It is okay to laugh. It is okay to do something that might get you laughed at. My 11 year old daughter laughed at the man on the screen rapping to her about … foolishness as he tried to rhyme words that were thrown out to him. But she also recognized the power that having this sense of the absurd can have in a classroom with a teacher who is willing to connect with students and promote learning.

Next up was the keynote speaker, Steven Anderson and his two girls. His two girls were not actually presenting with him but they were discussed as a reminder to all of us that we must teach to our children in the ways and using the methods that they have become accustomed to using. Even if that means we have to be willing to purchase an iPad Pottyseat. *(Not that anyone is saying that we, parents or teachers, will actually need to buy one but it is important to realize that technology has become so ingrained in our lives that … it will be a purchase made by many.) Steven helped to continue the conversation about the reasonableness of telling them to totally shut offf their devices when at school.  Last week, I laughed at the young Chrisley children, Savannah and Chase, when they melted down when their dad took their phones. They were serious when they said that they wake up in the mornings expecting to see their friend, their cellphone, on their pillow. If a cellphone is their friend, how are they supposed to act when we rip them away!?!?!?

The Inspire Presentations were 5 minute sessions in which we talked about sessions we presented at Reform Symposium 4 or sessions that we intend to present at Reform Symposium 5. We heard from:

André J. Spang, Germany, @Tastenspieler
Title: Be a Maker not a taker!

Sue Beckingham, UK, @SueBecks
Title: Why you need a professional online presence and how to do it!

Eva Buyuksimkesyan, Turkey, @Evab2001
Title: Flip Quiz

Sylvia Guinan, Greece, @ESLBrain
Title: Brainfriendly ways to help students memorise language creatively

Matthew Miller, Egypt, @matthewm1970
Title: Playing to RAMP up learning

Paige Hale, US
Title: Working together: Apps and tools for collaboratively building students’ writing skills

Valerie Burton, US, @MsBisOnline
Title: Publish your ePortfolio using Weebly

Jackie Gerstein, US, @JackieGerstein
Title: STEAM and Maker Education: Inclusive, Engaging, Self-Differentiating

Here is a PDF file of our presentation slides.

We closed out today’s day of learning with a Smackdown session in which we took 2 minutes to show off tools, sites and resources that we think of as ‘must haves.’ Some of the sites that we shared were ThingLink, Smore, Google World Calendar, PrintFriendly, Tagboard, Kidblog and NewsEla. Here are slides from that share session.

All in All, it was a good morning. I spent time with my online friends talking, sharing and being inspired. Can’t wait for the 2nd mini-con on May 4th, 2014 and the next Reform Symposium Conference, RSCON5, that will take place July 11-13th, 2014 and feature 60+presentations, 2 plenaries, 10 keynotes, student presenters, a tech/app/lesson smackdown, and the EdInspire Awards Ceremony.

Thanks so much to Conference Organizers:

Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Peggy George, Chiew Pang, Marcia, Lima, Steve Hargadon and Amy Brinkley



October 13

Self Driven Professional Development #RSCON4

Reform Symposium Free Online Conference (RSCON) is an online worldwide event that took place this weekend, October 11th – 13th. Shelly Terrell invited me to present and it was awesome. October is Connected Educator Month and The Future of Education hosted the conference online in Blackboard Collaborate webinar rooms. It was a great experience to be a part of this awesome group of educators.

Visit The Future of Education

In my session Saturday morning, I shared with people from Texas, Amsterdam, Australia, Africa and elsewhere in the world.  How great is it that we have the opportunity to learn from colleagues from around the world?

My weekend has been one filled with tons of great, inspirational moments. I will be taking the next couple of days to process and make changes in my life and my classroom.
Here are some of the tweets from today


If you missed any of the sessions, click here to catch up on learning sessions that can change your world.
August 19

A Vision of K-12 Students Today


I first saw this video October 10, 2009. Almost 3 years later I ask myself, what am I doing for them?!?!?!?!

In my class in addition to the standard reading the textbook and writing responses, my students,

create ePortfolios using Weebly.com

post to online learning communities like Youthvoices.net

create digital stories using Photopeach and Animoto

collaborate with other classrooms creating an online magazine (I hope)

create “commoncraft” type paper movies

create cartoons 

will document a day of their life for the ONE day on Earth Project

participate in the Peace One Day Initiative

respond to TeachersFirst #XW1W (Across the World Once a Week) question

have online personal learning networks

use blogs and wikis

tweet resources for their PLN


Outside of my class, I blog, tweet and present.  I share with other teachers some of the things that I do and hope that they will see something that they can do (and improve) in their own classrooms. 

YES, I am a Connected Educator.  I share my knowledge with others regularly!!

Do you?

August 4

EdCamp, the ultimate connector #ce12

EdCamps are a great way to connect with other educators in your area. If you are tired of the same old PD, EdCamps, the unconferences, are the way to go.  They allow for professional development to be done BY Teachers FOR Teachers.  To find out more, check out the hangout scheduled for September.  I am an EdCamp Louisiana Organizer and I am soooo hooked on the idea of providing space and opportunities for educators to share and collaborate that I am trying to work on monthly citywide EdCamps for New Orleans.

It is empowering to be able to spend time with other like minded educators who want to share and collaborate ideas and resources to improve our craft.  If EdCamps are new to you, check out the Hangout and learn more.


July 24

I have been chosen to present at T.C.E.A.

I just saw this email

“Dear Valerie,
We are pleased and excited to inform you the TCEA Workshops and Sessions Committee has accepted your proposal to present at the TCEA 2013 Convention & Exposition, February 4-8, 2013, in Austin.”   Whoo Hoo!! I am going to Texas to talk about ePortfolios!!! I <3 Tech.

It was this blurb from their website that made me apply. It sounded like they were talking to me and even though I am not from Texas, I took a chance and applied.

The convention brings together campus and district-level educators for a networking and learning experience that stimulates growth and innovation. Passionate teachers, campus and district leaders unite at this annual event to gather and share the latest trends and best practices for creating engaging classrooms that excite today’s active and inspired learners.

The TCEA annual convention is the educational technology integration and best practices event of the year with more than 400 presentations, 450 exhibiting companies, and networking opportunities

Yay meeeeee!!!!!

Now who is going to tell my Mom and my daughter that this English Teacher is going away to present at another Tech Conference?  Any takers?!?! Any..one….???

July 1

My Blog is for Sharing

I am a Techie Teacher, Lifelong Learner, Mother of 2 and Facilitator of Many. 

 My name is Valerie Burton and I am online.  I am an English Teacher, Intel Trainer, Den Star & Techno Geek who is trying to improve education one tweet, blog and wiki at a time.  I infuse technology into my class as often as I can.  I use my Promethean board and projector regularly.  My assignments are posted on an assignment blog daily, on my whiteboard/chalkboard not so much.  I read books occasionally, I read tweets and blogs often.

I blog because I lovvvve to talk about education, my students, resources to use in my class and more educational stuff.  Blogging is a way of sharing ideas and resources.

I hope to share with you, my readers, thoughts, pictures, articles, and videos, that highlight the resources, influences and tools that lead to good teachers becoming more creative and better teachers.

If you are not interested in education, this probably isn’t the place for you.


My posts are categorized by their purpose and subject matter:

  • some of the things that I am doing, or want to do, or know can be done in any classroom. These posts will be labeled N my Class
  • some of the things that I am reading about and watching untangle in the world around me.  These posts will be labeled N my World. 
  • some of the things that I am thinking about that might have some relevance to you or someone that you know.  These posts will be labeled N my Head.
  • some of the things that I have created, either a writing piece (now that I am a member of the Greater New Orleans Writing Project) or some other creative piece that I have made.  These posts will be labeled N my Heart.



July 1

#EdCamp Swag

This year we have some t-shirts to spread around as give-aways.  

Why?  Because I want to spread the word.  I want someone to put on this t-shirt next month and smile about the session that I facilitated about using Weebly.com to create websites, or Paula’s session about Edmodo, or Tinashe’s session about iPads, or any number of informative and insightful education related conversations they had on July 7th at our Free Day of Learning.

EdCamps are such a powerful vehicle for learning that I want to make sure that we grow them in this area.  I want schools Jefferson Parish to hold EdCamps for subject matter teachers, I want RSD schools to host EdCamps to collaborate and develop system wide projects, I want ACSA to host EdCamps to develop cross-curricular activities to benefit the students.  I want Louisiana Educators to embrace the notion that nobody knows what teachers want better than the teachers themselves, so… let them decide what to be Professionally Developed about.



January 2

Learning and Planning during the break!!!

How am I spending my break?

Reading, Planning, Reading, Planning and a little Grading (yes I still have a few things to grade). My parish is starting a new teacher evaluation process next year and I am so incredibly lucky to be part of the pilot – I did inject a slight bit of sarcasm in that last statement.  I know that I really am lucky because I have a chance to see what is required before it becomes live AND I have an opportunity to make suggestions about what works and what doesn’t work.  The process requires that we maintain an extensive portfolio that demonstrates our effectiveness as teachers.

We will be graded on the following standards:

  • planning
  • instruction
  • environment
  • professionalism
Each of these standards has sub-components involved and we were given suggestions about what documentation to include to prove our competencies.  As I look at the suggestions and rubric requirements, I am pleased to say that I have some of the items and other items that I do not have I can easily create and implement.
This pilot evaluation process is helping me to focus my attention in a more direct way to develop materials, activities, procedures, etc. that will help drive student achievement.  I have created an ePortfolio to help me organize my thoughts, resources and documentation for the evaluation process.  I don’t know think that they had an online digital ePortfolio in mind but as I like to tell the kids – “That’s what I do.  If it can be done online, I will do it online – because Ms.B.isOnline.”
I was touring the Edutopia.org site and came across this video and the resources provided and it spoke to me.  It did not say anything that I don’t know to be true; it just helps to support my ideas about what needs to be done to move the achievement of my students from “barely present in class and doing the least amount of work possible” to “blowing the top off of the test scores and engaged to make their brains smoke from the effort.
The video and resources were developed by Cochrane Collegiate Academy, a failing school that turned their years of failures to success.



Check out their video, look at their resources and decide if what they have done is possible at your school.  I believe that it is IF you get 100% buy in from the faculty.

December 10

Be a part of the AfterGlow

Please mark your calendars and adjust your schedules to join presenters, participants, and organizers of the 2011 K-12 Online Conference in an “AfterGlow” Closing Live Event on Monday, December 12th at 6:00pm PT / 7:00pm MT / 8:00pm CT / 9:00pm ET. If you’re located outside North American timezones, please use this timeanddate.com link (2:00 AM Tuesday, December 13 GMT) to determine the event time in your local area. “The Afterglow” is a fun, celebratory event held in Blackboard Collaborate. It will provide opportunities for presenters to share the stories behind their presentations as well as give participants a chance to ask questions of the presenters. The Blackboard Collaborate session link is: http://tinyurl.com/cr20live. This link may be shared with others on Twitter, Plurk, blogs, etc. Please cross-post this information on your own blog, if possible, so we can amplify this live event and draw a big crowd of educators! (HTML code to cross-post is available.)

'Northern Lights' photo (c) 2008, Image Editor - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The MC for the event will be Susan van Gelder, who will ask the questions of the panel members and facilitate the conversations among presenters and participants. The panel will consist of all of the keynote presenters for the conference, but all presenters are encouraged to join us and come prepared to “raise your hand to take the mic” during the session if desired. Everyone can contribute actively in the chat conversation. The webinar will be an hour long and not every presenter may have an opportunity to share. There is a possibility the conversation may continue after the ‘formal’ closing of the webinar into a post-show. Participation of the presenters is optional during post show as we know everyone’s time is limited.

In addition to joining our upcoming live event, we invite you to check out and comment on a special “backstories of the 2011 K-12 Online Conference” Voicethread. Several of our presenters have already chimed in. Please add your voice and commentary!

Organizers of the 2011 K-12 Online Conference wish to express appreciation to Steve Hargadon and the Classroom 2.0 Live community for providing the “virtual meeting room” for our Afterglow live event. We hope to “see you” virtually in Blackboard Collaborate Monday night! (Use this link for times if you’re outside North America) Please invite other educators you know to join us too!

December 1

Facilitators r Rockstars

K12 Online Conference to check out – Hardware is Not Enough – The Teacher/Facilitator Partnership by Kim Cofino (@mscofino)  and Chrissy Hellyer (@nzchrissy.) 

Their presentation is part of the Team Captain’s strand of the conference and they discussed examples, resources, strategies, processes and resources that can aid the relationship between teacher and facilitator.

After watching their video I am reminded why I talk sooo much about tech integration.  I am a classroom teacher who has dived head first into the tech integration world.  One of my co-workers, Devin Howard, always jokes about how he invited me to participate in an Intel Workshop years ago and I have left him behind. He makes this comment because that first Intel Workshop turned into 2 and then I took workshops on using digital cameras, flip cameras, wikis, blogs, voki, etc…  Once I got bit by the technology bug, I was forever transformed and wanted to transform the world right along with me.

I am not an official Technology Facilitator at my school but I do facilitate as often as possible. Whenever and wherever I can get someone to listen to me about Web 2.0 tools, I talk about them.  Kim and Chrissy talked about the need for a working relationship between the teachers who want and need resources and the facilitators who can help them take their lessons to a new level. They discussed the Who? What? Where? Why? and How? of fostering these relationships.  I needed this reminder/peptalk because there really are people who do not yet see the need for these collaborative efforts and it is, at times, disheartening. 

Wednesday I presented a session at LaCUE called Are You Online Yet? and my goal was to have the participants create a Twitter account, a blog and a wiki.  There were only 4 people (5 including the tech support guy who sat in and contributed) in my session BUT I felt good because everyone there left with a Twitter account and a blog.  We were not able to create a wiki because we spent a lot of time on Twitter and creating their blog.  They had questions and I provided answers and examples. WOW I facilitated!!! 

I feel good about the work that we did because as we began our work one of the teachers asked why she needed a blog.  She said “I don’t have anything important to say.”  I felt heartbroken and I had to fight back the tears because as a classroom teacher I hate it when we feel like we are not valued as an integral part of the education process.  The facilitator in me immediately jumped in and I told her that she had lots to say: the good and bad of a lesson, news about what was going on in her class, news updates that she might want to share with parents and colleagues, etc. Her next question was ‘Who will read it?’  Again the facilitator spoke up and said “Anyone you share a link with will read your posts.”

I talked to her not as a classroom teacher; but as someone who is available and ready to jump in and assist with ideas, resources and support. It was wonderful to be able to help teachers create an online presence.  That same participant who did not feel as though she had something to say went from creating a personal and classroom blog to considering how to create a blog for her school. 

In their presentation, Kim and Chrissy (and others) spoke about ways they could help one another.  We need to create more of these connections. I made a point of making sure that everyone had my contact information so that they could contact me if they had questions or needed help with anything. I did this because just like Kim and Chrissy said “Hardware is Not Enough – The Teacher/Facilitator Partnership” is important. 

Their presentation helped to invigorate my efforts to educate my colleagues at my school.  I took it upon myself to create a wiki and blog for the school and have not gotten any real support from others but thanks to Kim and Chrissy, I will continue to try to create an environment that promotes collaboration and facilitation.

November 22

I love playing in the techie digital sandbox

Yesterday I created another teaser video for my K12 Online Conference.


I Don’t Know


I love creating photomovies and Animoto allows me to combine photos and video clips.  I am ADDICTED to creating photomovies. (A feeling that I want for all of my students – to love creating and sharing work.)

@AngelaMaiers delivered the #K12Online 2011 preconference keynote, The Sandbox Manifesto, yesterday and it was inspirational.  She had two basic messages for us:


  1. Don’t be afraid to play – play can lead to brilliance

I guess I created another video because …. I could.

I could play in the digital storytelling, photomovie making sandbox, so I did.  I like playing in the Web 2.0 techie sandbox and I want as many people as possible to play in there as well.  That is the joy of this year’s K12 Online Conference Theme: Purposeful Play.  PLAYING and teaching our students and colleagues to play with a purpose.  I have been playing in the Web 2.0 Sandbox for several years and I want everyone to know how fun it can be.

I often say that the computer allows me to be the artist that I was meant to be. I don’t sing, I dance fairly well but on the computer.. I feel like a true creative spirit.  I feel AWESOME. I feel empowered to change the world by tweeting, blogging, wikiing, creating photomovies, taking and sharing pictures, making websites, etc.

I feel that I MATTER. @AngelaMaiers‘s message of #YouMatter is a powerful one that we all need to feel and embrace.  We do matter and we need to remember it and act like it.