Automation vs Personalization

Just Jen's Thoughts 2 Comments »

I am all for efficiency –

In fact, one of my favorite books “Cheaper by the Dozen” — the book, not the movie — shares a great deal about time efficiency.  The parents, Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth, do many things to save time.  

And every so often, when I am wasting time — or perhaps driving somewhere — or doing some task — my mind turns to the Gilbreth’s — and I wonder what I could do to be as effective with my time as I could.

Yet — on the other hand, I don’t wish let efficiency trump the importance of personalization.

Which is why, I have chosen to stay away from “shortcuts” that send out messages from me that are generic and not personable and not real time.   And which is also why I have turned off the “post for me” on facebook.

I wish to remain in control of what I post — to who — and when.

Which is why, I found it interesting today when someone else verbalized what I felt.


For me — and I strongly say “for me” — it is very important that “I” remember not to let the computer speak for me — especially in areas that need that human connection.

  • I feel — for me — that when I send a thank you to someone — it needs to be me that says thank you.
  • I feel — for me — that when I share out a blog post for someone to read — it needs to be me who shares out that blog post (either while I am reading it or after I have read it)
  • I feel — for me — it is very important that at no time do I let a computer insert words that are could or could not be mine — without ME being the one who hits submit.

I will admit, that when people register for my projects — they get a generic welcome and when I send out certificates of participation — often that is a generic email as well.   But pretty much — everything else is “WYSIWJWH”  (what you see is what Jen wrote herself)

My life is super busy —
but for me, if my life becomes too busy to be authentic and personable
or if I let something say what I should have taken the time to say myself  — then someone please stop me and let me know.

Just my thoughts today



One Time, At EdCamp……

Just Jen's Thoughts 1 Comment »

I am blessed to live in So California and have the availability to attend MANY edcamps during the year.

But yesterday…..well it was the BEST one so far.

I picked up my buddy, Brent Coley, at 6:45 and we headed down to Poway.  This time, I was driving (yeah, new car) and we just talked and talked and talked!!

We arrived at the campus and since we were there a few moments early, we had time to explore the campus.   Very unique look — penguin theme, lots of positive signs, a colorful garden with a garden trellis celebrating two teachers (both who were named Pam) and then wandered into the auditorium to sign in.

At about 8:10 the edcamp began and what they did at 8:15 has to become a STANDARD for all edcamps (in my humble opinion of course).   We merged into small groups to introduce ourselves, share if we had ever been to an edcamp before, and what was something we hoped to learn that day.   We had already found out that over 85% attending were newbies to edcamp so this was an EXCELLENT way to break the ice!

The board filled up rather quickly.  Brent & I had already decided that we would co-facilitiate a Google Forms group – and I was asked to lead a session on Connecting Classrooms.   So, 2 of my 4 sessions were now already determined.   Sessions included Subtext, Math, Twitter, Class DoJo, and many others.

So, I wandered into Room 1 and stayed there for the rest of the Edcamp!

The first session was on BYOD.
Our campus is looking at this and my co-worker and I do not see eye-to-eye on this (he wishes to have 1 device, I am okay with any) so it was good to hear the pros/cons of those who had gone before.   One of the campuses that shared is a Google School and use ipads — and the 2nd graders are having trouble editing their google docs (good to know).   Another campus is using any device and they are having trouble with everyone having similar options (as in apps or software).   Another campus is having problems with wifi logons to their network.   And my AHA moment came about 10 minutes into the session when someone shared about using EVERNOTE with students instead of DROPBOX!!  (need to investigate this more)
What I learned most from this session was:  We need to investigate this much much more!

The second session was on Google Forms – (for admin and teachers)
Brent always does a very good job with this and since only 2 teachers had not used Google Forms….he was able to showcase many forms he uses — a classroom observation form, a parent/student form, quick response questions to staff, etc.   Participants also shared their forms they use:   app evaluations, student observations of presentations using rubric dropdown choice, book reviews, parent/student get acquainted forms, etc.   There was a lot of sharing and Brent shared some new options I did not know about — like Section Header — which was my “AHA” for this class!
What I learned most from this session was:  yet, once again — my love for Google Forms has grown!

The third session was Early Elementary
This edcamp was filled with elementary teachers (which is not always the norm) so it was very nice to sit down with 6 other teachers (2nd grade and below) and just share ideas, apps, requests for help, and more!
There is a kindred spirit between young elementary teachers and we just talked and talked and talked.
What I learned most from this session was: There was no great “AHA” but just a feeling of contentment of being with like minded people!

The final session was on Connecting Classrooms
I started off the session by sharing a wee bit about Projects By Jen but then jumped right into DOT DAY and Global Read Aloud!  I could not remember the website EPals for the longest time, but finally did and also shared about Global School Net.  Some people in group had participated in my projects — so they shared a bit and we also talked quite a bit about Mystery Skype.  The time flew by — there was a GREAT deal of interest — and I think many will make the effort to connect with another class or classes this next year.
What I learned most from this session was:  The excitement of connection.  As I walked back to the auditorium, 1 person in the Connecting Classrooms was sharing with someone not there about what she had learned.  She just talked and talked and talked.  I was so happy I got to hear that.

We ended the edcamp with door prizes — and it was refreshing to see average door prizes (movie tickets, chocolate, lens cleaners, etc).   Lots of laughter, lots of smiles, lots of new friends.

I loved — truly LOVED — this edcamp.  It was simple!   What edcamps used to be…there wasn’t the need to be “bigger and better” — it was just nice.   90ish educators giving up a Saturday morning in July to come together to get ideas to take back to their classrooms.  There were no big names, no experts, no powerpoint slide presentations — there were just sincere conversations and sharing.

It was great.

A big thank you to #EDCAMPIGNITE!!  Well Done!

So, you want to host a #notat…….

Conferences 8 Comments »

Several people have written me emails or sent DM with questions about how to host a #NOTAT……. for other upcoming conferences……

So, here are my thoughts:

Step One:
Don’t overthink it, or you won’t do it.
I expected 20 to join this group — we are almost to 300.   :)

Step Two:
Gather the troops!
Start with a simple google form
formto gather people’s information (I forgot to gather zip codes – which then we could have taken into mapalist to make a very nice map of all our participants.)
(If you don’t have a google account — get one — it will be your very best friend!)
I also created a google doc with info, a google presentation for people to share about themselves, and a G+ Community.   (This was my first time setting up a G+ and I made the mistake of making it private – sorry, that was an oops!)
If you have never used Google – after you log into your gmail account — look for the tiny 9 box up
dotsby the bell on your page, click on that, it will take you to everything you need:   Drive (for documents), G+ (for your community) and more.   Use the hashtag or twitter account when you announce your group — that will help it be seen by everyone who is following the conference on twitter.

Step Three:
Be ready for conversation!
and be personable.
I sent out a welcome email with information to each new member.
As they began to build their slides and post to our community — others stepped up with “welcomes” and “oh, tell me more”, etc.   Our community was very welcoming, very helpful, and very kind.
But to be honest, I think I was busier being #NOTATISTE14 than I would have been at ISTE2014.   Watching twitter, getting requests to join, looking for links, etc took time.

which leads to

Step Four:
Do Not Do This Alone!
Not soon after we began to get a lot of interest, I realized that I needed help.  Plus, I had some personal things (this weekend) I needed to take care of and needed to be Away From The Computer — so I recruited helpers.  Vicky Sedgwick and Lindsay Foster became moderators.  (that meant that they could OK people into the Google Community, etc.)   Vicky started an idea with Badges that just took off and the photowalk was her idea as well.   Sue Waters and Craig Yen keep things current on flipboard and twitter and Jeffrey See went above and beyond by getting vendors to provide doorprizes for our challenge!
In fact, there is an entire extension of our group on VOXER that I have no clue what is going on…..but I trust that Barb Gilman and Vicky Sedgwick are taking good care of it.
Don’t feel you have to have your team in place before you begin — but when people step up to help, let them fly!!!

Step Five:
Make it FUN!!
For me, there had to be more to #NOTATISTE14 than just a hashtag….so I created the CHALLENGE.   10 ways to get points at ISTE and get #notatiste14 people really to feel that were there — virtually.
People started suggesting ideas for challenge points, we had some confusion and needed to clarify some challenge points, and I created a google spreadsheet where people could track their own points (using the honor system) — and though not everyone jumped on board with this — several are having a grand time.
We are also going to try a Google Hangout Karaoke — more on this later.
SO — add some fun to your event.   You don’t have to have challenges, but have something that involves your group in a creative way

Step Six:
Check Your Ego at the Door
You are going to get thank you’s and you are going to get other thoughts as well.  If you are controlling — like I can be, I admit it — you will have to step back and let people run with ideas.    If you feel you HAVE to have your fingerprints on everything — you will be frustrated, your group will be frustrated, and there will be regrets.    People are going to forget how this community started –  people will NOT forgot what this community provided.   And it is NEVER just one person on a team.

Step Seven:
Protect Your Community
Though we were open to everyone — there were certain protective things – important to me — that I implemented for our group.
#1 — I protected their emails.   When sending info to the group, I BCCed.
If they put their email on their slide in the presentation, I didn’t worry about it — they had posted it!
#2 — We did not let vendors into the community to “vendor”
After ISTE2013, where vendors infiltrated the bloggers cafe disguised as “friends” — I had my guard up when companies joined.
After 2 occurrences of what I felt was solicitation and after having sent DM to both companies
– I removed the “vendors’ from our group and posted this:
Gentle Reminder.   #NOTATISTE14 is not a venue where “vendors” are welcome to solicit members — either in chats or in back-channel conversations.   If you wish to share MORE about your product, please do so ONCE by commenting to our twitter account (   Today, I have had to ban 2 people from our group for solicitingI Please respect the members of this group who joined the group to learn and share about #ISTE2014 from afar.   THANK YOU, Jennifer
We have not had any problems since.
#3 — I kept an eye on ideas that sprouted up.
Though I really wished people to fly with ideas, this NOTATISTE14 did have my name attached to it…..and if need be, I was ready to step up and say “WHOA” if necessary.   Thankfully, that has not happened.

Step Eight
Do Your Best To Recognize Your Community
It has been hard to say “Good job” to everyone.  People are making badges, ribbons, writing blog posts, sharing links and pictures.   So try to acknowledge them as you can.    If #ISTE14 was going a bit longer, I would have recruited a “hospitality team” to really make each member feel a part.  We are posting blog links written by members on our twitter feed but I wish we had a better way of showing off badges, selfie pictures, and more!

Step Nine
Don’t Be the Expert
I cannot begin to list all the new opportunities that have come from this #NOTATISTE14 group — people are throwing ideas all over the place and some I pick up — some I don’t.   Some others pick up — some others discard.   There are some many opportunities to learn that even if you only participated for 1 hour – you will learn something.
Let others shine in what they know how to do!  and take the time to learn something new!!

Step Ten
Be appreciative!
Say thank you often!
Smile much and clap for joy at something that surprises you, captivates you, inspired you, etc
People flourish when they are recognized for their contributions!

Step Eleven:  
Don’t be shy in asking for door prizes!
Since we had a challenge, I started asking around to companies I had established relationships with — Tech4Learning, iPeveo — to donate — which they did….and then with help from many people in our community — many more door prizes came in.
So far our list includes:
Spelling City
TechSmith EDU
So, don’t be afraid to ask — many many companies wish to help educators out!!!

Hope this helps!






Not At Iste 14

Conferences No Comments »

It all started on Sunday, June 15th…..sitting around, beginning to get a bit “misty-eyed” seeing all the tweets about “getting ready for ISTE……

and I thought back to last year, when my buddy Dennis Grice hosted the #NOTATISTE13 group — and I thought “well, since Dennis will BE AT ISTE this year, maybe I should continue what he started.”

So, without really much thought — I created a google form where people could join the group — posted it to twitter and expected maybe 20 people or so to join.

RIGHT NOW — we are at 266!
and what an interesting few weeks it has been since that first “google form.”

Our community on Google Plus became very active and our #NOTATISTE14 hashtag was beginning to fill-up my twitter page –

so, I also then created a twitter @notatiste account (so my @jenwagner friends would not get bombarded with #NOTATISTE14 overflowing of tweets)


With the help of Vicky Sedgwick, badges for the conference were created and then ribbons began to appear.


A Voxer group began (but I cannot seem to get Voxer to work so someone else can tell that story).

We also had a #NOTATISTE14 challenge – and a Google Presentation to introduce yourself to others – .

Pictures began to appear of where we were when we were #NOTATISTE14.  Links of family, friends, and events began to appear as well.

And our community began to grow — not only though in numbers — but in friendship and comradery.

We all are learning new things – pushing each other with new opportunities — and sharing sharing sharing.

We have 2 more days of #NOTATISTE14 — so right now, the snowball of opportunities has just begun.

And  because of #NOTATISTE14 — I also got to see this:  (3 of my favorite people in 1 picture)


I have no idea WHAT will happen in the next 48 hours — but so far, I am just jumping with joy!!

THANK YOU all for your enthusiasm.
This has been great fun!





WP Theme & Icons by N.Design Studio
Entries RSS Comments RSS Log in