About Lacy Bartlett

This year has brought amazing changes for Lacy that includes moving to a new state, transitioning out of the classroom, and landing her dream job in Manor's Instructional Technology Department. She and her husband, Aaron, along with our two fur children, Dolby & Daisy, have just moved here from Fresno, California as of June. As a classroom teacher, she dreamed of moving to Austin, transitioning out of the classroom, and assisting teachers in integrating innovative teaching into their classrooms. Manor ISD has made all those dreams come true! She is already going through "classroom withdrawals" and empathizes with everything teachers balance on a daily basis. Wherever you are at on the technology spectrum, invite me over and I will strategize on how technology can make your classroom more innovative, efficient, and 21st century learning environment. Her goal is that you will learn something new, feel supported in your implementation, and be amazed at what your students will create.

Playdate Austin 2014: Student-led PD

If you have ever asked the question, “What does that Instructional Technology Specialist actually do all day?” then you are not alone. While attending SXSWEDU this year, I made friends with two folks from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. When I asked what they did, they said they we Instructional Tech Specialists. And then they stopped talking. I though maybe this was perhaps Danish stoicism at play, but we Southerners can’t let that be the end of the conversation now can we, y’all? I asked a few more questions and a conversation erupted on the nature of our jobs, misconceptions of technology usage, cultural comparisons of technology integration, etc. The more I try to give the elevator pitch of what I do, my team has narrowed it down to a simply stated, “We try and put ourselves out of a job.” It actually happened for the first time this weekend at Playdate Austin 2014.

Our entire super team is within a year out of the classroom, so becoming strategists who support teachers in their integration of technology took some foundational turns in the last year. We found very quickly that a majority of teachers hold the following misconceptions about technology integration.

Misconception #1 Innovation always includes a device

Misconception #2 Technology integration is sparkly and fun, but not connected to student achievement

Misconception #3 You have be tech savvy to innovate.

Misconception #4 Teachers don’t have time because they are too busy being teachers.

Addressing these misconceptions led us to do what we believe teachers should always do in their professional practice. Try something new! We realized that we could spend ages battling the monolith that is called “Educational Bureaucracy” or we could begin with the end in mind.

If the ultimate goal is to see students creating, presenting, utilizing 21st century tools, collaborating, accessing the world as their audience, or walking off the stage with a diploma and a portfolio of experience then why not skip teachers and meet that goal first. We hypothesized that teachers have the same hearts for student success as we do and that they had become jaded by “the machine.” What if teachers learned from students and we didn’t rely teachers to have to learn these tools? We predicted that teachers would be begging for support as they innovated their classrooms once students, not instructional technologists, showed their stuff. Y’all, it works like a charm.

@ManorHS innovative student leaders working with staff

@ManorHS innovative student leaders working with staff

Playdate Austin was so successful that this entry is only meant to share why student led professional development works so well for us. There is just too much good to post in 1 blog. But a teaser for Part 2 of this Playdate Austin 2014 review was my absolute favorite moment from last Saturday.

During our demo slam where teachers shared their learning with the student presenters, an elementary school teacher happened to visit a playroom where a high school student was presenting. The high schooler had been her student in the 1st grade! As they reunited, she shared to the crowd how proud she was of the growth this student had made and invited her to come teach her tech tool to her 1st grade class. My colleague assigned to that particular school chuckled and shouted, “Hey! that’s my job!” There it is…our mission is far from accomplished, but can you imagine the shift we would see in education when we empower student voices as agents of change and innovation in our classrooms? It’s no longer a theory, it’s being done right here in Manor ISD and it’s catching on…

Check out the full recap here.



I got stuff, now what?!

The day has come when your dreams have come true and you get that bundle of iPads, or those chrome books, or that projector (for some). We Instructional Tech folks call this “stuff” because Technology for the classroom is changing every 14 seconds. Perhaps you feel as if getting your stuff is a dream come true or your worst nightmare. Many teachers jump off the innovation cliff themselves, and they fly. They are doing innovative things that should be shared on a national platform and have no idea that they are changing the game. That is not who I’m talking about today.

I recently worked with a teacher who I was told would need a lot, I mean a lot of support. This teacher even told me that they would never be able to do the most simple level of tech integration in their class. Funny thing is, that the whole time this teacher was explaining why they couldn’t (not they wouldn’t, that is a very different problem) they were setting up the management specs on their new iPad bundle. I say, “Do you realize how complex the process you are doing right now is? You are doing it beautifully!” This teacher interrupted me refusing my celebration, “But I’ll never be able to do all these app things or fancy things everyone else can do.” After refusing my first public compliment, I rebutted with another, “I don’t believe you. If you couldn’t, you wouldn’t have done what you just did so well. Forget the how, tell me what you would like to see happen in your class with these iPads.” From there, I set up a plan with this teacher to to team teach with me until comfortable doing it on their own. This teacher is simply overwhelmed by all the possibilities (and probably my passion too) and doesn’t know where to start. Innovation in your classroom IS a daunting task. Let me share a tool that might help you take baby steps until you realize that you too are flying and not falling off the cliff. It’s called SAMR.

Think of SAMR as Bloom’s Taxonomy for the use of Technology in the classroom. Just because you have iPads and they don’t have dust on them, does not mean you are using them effectively. This graphic will help you translate the levels of learning to how you are currently or planning to use technology in your classroom.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.59.28 AM


Our team often discourses about how we are seeing technology used for in these terms. If you are not printing worksheets, but your students are completing them digitally, you are substituting. If you are navigating your presentations wirelessly from the back of the class, you are substituting. This is a place to start, but don’t stop there!

Augmentation is when the process changes to something that is more efficient and effective. When you change a process, you are innovating if it is more efficient. Notice I said nothing about technology here. Drill and kill has no place in Augmentation, but any tool or program that makes life more efficient and functional does.

Modification and Redefinition is when you are changing the game of education. Forget rules, you are doing whatever it takes to see students behaving like the current workforce. A great anchor question at this state is, “Are my students creating with their knowledge?” You are not just using Nepris to learn a concept, but using that professional connection for students to gain feedback on prototypes from actual professionals. You are transforming how you communicate with your students and families. You are using Twitter and Remind 101 to share and send information out instead of a newsletter. You are seeing that the information is being absorbed, you are spending less time, and your students are more engaged in their learning environment beyond the traditional school day. When you students are sharing projects, giving feedback, and receiving constructive criticism digitally.

Still confused? Watch SAMR in 120 Seconds here

I would encourage you to set doable goals with someone who can support you (ahem, iTeach) alongside a cohort of a few others who are doing the same thing. For example, a goal might be to substitute a tech tool for a dongle. Using a practice app instead of a worksheet checks off the substitution tier. Using Doceri to navigate through your visual presentations makes the process more effective (you are in the powers one more), so you are now in Augmentation. Students turning in projects via Google Docs is Modification of a creation process. Students tweeting to gain feedback from around the world is the Redefinition of how they learn and produce. Each tier is a good tier. Technology integration requires you to move back and forth between these tiers. Setting 1-2 (not 7) goals within a semester or trimester will have you up and innovating before you know it!


The Conover Effect

In my last post, I mentioned that I ask the question, “What if?” a lot (hence my twitter handle @whatifclass). In my line of work, a benefit of being out of the classroom is being able to visit teachers far and wide who are changing the game. My role is to not only celebrate what is happening in our own classrooms in Manor, but also what is happening right next door…in Pflugerville.

Through a serendipitous series of events, many of us have had our minds blown by visiting Mr. Conover’s class at John B. Connally High School. Hang with me while I explain how a Chilean copper mine, game salad, the Geology department at UT, skype, and project management have in common. When you enter Mr. Conover’s classroom, you see a student skyping with some scientists and sharing her clay models with them, other students working on a keyboard writing music, some digitally sketching, but all are on task completing completely different tasks. Conover has created an environment where within multiple periods, students must collaborate digitally via Google tools in quite a unique structure. We interviewed teams of artists, musicians, designers, and even project managers (talk about giving students a role!). A junior in high school we spoke with was incredibly articulate as he explained how to his second year as a project manager put him in a position to help develop first year project managers. He explained his expectations for his teams and the routines he set up to check in on their progress. Again, this is a junior in high school. These students create not mock businesses and proposals, but actual presentations for graphic artists, game developers from those currently working in the Simi Hills of Austin. Many were so impressed that the relationships end up in internship opportunities and donations to the class. Conover has taken his role as an educator and leveraged it to CONNECT his students to the actual workforce. I said to stay with me on how gaming, geology, and Chile are connected, so here it is. The key vocabulary to focus on here is relationship, connected, creative, and digital.

The story goes like this. Dr. Pierce from the Geology department at UT worked in Chile preserving local geological resources in that community and built a relationships with the local copper miners there. Meanwhile, Conover decides he wants to shake up his STEAM class and knocks on some doors at UT. Conover and Pierce really look outside the box and ask, “What if we didn’t just teach kids about gaming, but gaming with a real word purpose?” Together, they help students digitally collaborate with the miners and the geology department to identify community challenges so that they can create a game to help bring awareness and solve that problem.

This is a different call of duty. For example, I interviewed a students who was developing a game using a free web 2.0 program that was reminiscent of Pac Man. The goal was to bring awareness to oil spills near Texas forest habitats and “eat up” the oil barrels in the environment he’d created. The student even revised the game after he found that players were cheating the system and actually doing more damage to the forest environment to merely win the game.

This may be happening in a district next door, but I encourage you to start asking “What if?” for your classroom. I know what you are thinking, “Lacy! You want me to work a full day teaching, go to my staff meeting, grade papers, prep for the next day, feed my family, and THEN go rub elbows with the Austin Tech community in an effort to make connections from the real world to my classroom?!”Nope. I want you to feed your family well, make eye contact, AND enjoy them as well as what you do. I just want you to ask,”What if?” more! Here are a few great ways to build relationships, connect your classroom to the real world, and give your students an audience. Here’s a few simple, efficient ways to have your own “Conover Effect.”

1. Network and View all your Relationships as a Possible Asset to your Classroom. When you go to your spouse’s holiday party, get social! Find out what they all do! You might run across an interior designer who would love to come and digitally come (Google Hangout) to your class as you happen to be teaching area and surface area or measurement in an upcoming TEK.

2. Capitalize on the Network of Others. Some folks DO have the ability to go to all those after school activities that inspire educators. Find a few well connected folks, use and abuse them! Ask them to share resources that might be pertinent to you. You can do this by following them on Twitter or Google +. The only wrong question is the one unasked. Someone may personally know a screenwriter that can speak with your class about the process from napkin to silver screen. Set aside 15-20 minutes to check up on what the guru’s are up to. It’s a great practice to set aside time that will refresh you.

3. Treat Yourself as a Professional. Professionals network, grow their network, and diversify those they work with. Don’t be afraid to reach out to programmers, coders, voice over actors, geneticists, universities, etc. They all WANT to give back and simply don’t know about the opportunities to do so. You’d be surprised how many Austin companies actually incentivize their employees to do more community service in exchange for extra PTO.

This is not bring your dad to work day I’m talking about. I’m saying ask and hunt for free, creative, integrated speakers and activities using things like Clearsea, Google’s new Connected Classrooms (stop reading this right now and Google that-it will rock your world),  or a physical guest to give your students an audience that will motivate them and connect them to the universities and companies that make Austin such a promising city. As you start to think towards starting a new year your students may be starting to tune out your voice, start asking yourself how you can bring new voices into your classroom. Just remember to start that thought process with, “What if?”


The “MacGuyver” Mindset

I love telling folks I work for Manor ISD. They gaze at you like you just started to glow and say, ” The place where Obama came?” I smile, and say,”Yes, He came to Manor New Tech High School.” As a teacher, you walk into New Tech and feel just as Charlie did when he toured Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Every passion, belief, and hope I have for our broken education system is laid to rest when you tour that campus. They are just doing such amazing things! If you have never seen it. Go. Now.

BUT we also have 12 other schools in our district. These other schools are NOT 1-1. Some of our campuses dongle into a tv screen to project because they have no projector. Some of our campuses have 16 iPads available for checkout, but they are iPad 1′s with no camera and therefore cutting student creation opportunity in half. We do have 3 other 1-1 campuses, but some are actually 60%. You can see the look of despair on teacher’s faces when you explain all the things they could do with technology in their classrooms because they focus on what they don’t have, or the management issues that might arise, or find that the technology is glitchy when they do use it. George Couros recently came and spoke at Manor High School and said, “When we say we won’t use the technology available because it won’t work for us, we communicate to our students that they don’t have to use that math when it just won’t work for them.” Implementing Tech into low tech areas becomes a matter of practicing the perseverance we preach to our students.

Technology setups are so different for whatever reason at each campus, and teachers often focus on the “have nots” mindset. But then there are some that engage with what I can only describe as “MacGuyvering” tech usage in their classrooms. These teachers prove their growth mindset because they see the need and that our students deserve the opportunity to collaborate and be digitally creative.

Let’s take Blake Manor Elementary for example. When I was assigned Blake Manor, I quickly assumed that I would not spend much time at that campus because they have a few classrooms with even a projector. Many share one with a grade level. Yes, there are iPads in the library but they are 1′s with no camera. When you want to see student create, no camera presents some pretty tall hurdles to jump over. Yet, this is the campus I am constantly running to. This is the campus where Ms. Simpson is begging me to come spend an extra 20 minutes of computer lab time getting their kids logged into their district Google account.

Now, if you have never seen a 2nd grader send their first email, I can assure you it is the same as watching a little one taking their first steps. I got email responses like this…

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 12.38.02 PMScreen Shot 2013-11-15 at 12.37.28 PMScreen Shot 2013-11-15 at 12.38.28 PM

One girl inquired if you could do this at home. Before I knew it, this 2nd grader was showing her mom how she could email me from home and figured out the conventions of email naming so she could thank her teacher as well. 2nd grade, ya’ll, in a school where many teachers can only rely on their transparancy projector. This came out of a no iPad classroom.

Down the hall is a 5 iPad classroom. Ms. Boatright’s class was hoping to better practice strong beginnings through digital storyboarding in their fiction writing and happened to be writing spooky stories during the Halloween season. We decided that the structures in the imovie trailer app were perfect for having students storyboard their writing. The next time I popped in at Blake Manor, every Instructional Tech Specialist’s dream came true.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 12.39.50 PM Ms. Boatright didn’t just use tech for tech’s sake. She saw dramatic improvement in the writing structure these 4th graders were producing. There is so much happening to innovate the learning environment from our lowest tech campus. Here are the things that set Blake Manor apart…

1. They get what they get and don’t throw a fit. They have a can do mindset and are unaware of what their don’t have.

2. They create the time to make innovation happen. Many campuses see technology as an add on to the sheer impossible amount of tasks a teacher has on their to do list. They don’t halt instruction or pacing calendars. They ask for 15-20 minutes of an open pocket in the computer lab.

3. They make student creation happen in whatever “MacGuyver” fashion they must-duck tap, paper clips, bubble gum, and all. I’ll tell you they are one of the happiest campuses for doing so!

One thing we know about technology for sure is that it will most often get glitchy right when you need it to work. But that is it’s nature. Technology forces you to problem solve, collaborate, and ask for help. Your students need to engage with you in the troubleshooting process when the tech goes south. Adopting that MacGuyver mindset with grow your students more than your strongest delivered directly instructed lesson ever could.

Meet Lacy


Welcome to the iTeach Manor Blog! We have had quite a few changes in our department over the last 6 months with lots of new faces. As a matter of fact, we are experiencing an interesting season in the Technology Department of Manor ISD. In order to get started at making this blog a meaningful and inspiring resource for you, we thought we would start with each of our team members writing a bio post first. It is important that for as mobile as we are throughout the district, you understand the context we are coming from. We have huge plans, hopes, and dreams for the students of Manor and rely on our connectedness to the classroom, its teachers, and its students to make those dreams reality. That said, on our team of 4 there are 3 brand new faces from outside the district. I am the one from out of state. Let me rewind and explain how in the world I ended up in my dream job.

So almost a year to the month ago while we lived our happy little life in Fresno, CA, my husband received a job offer in Austin. We knew change was a comin’ and leaped through the door that opened. In my time at a special little elementary school in Manor’s sister city of Selma, CA, I was incredibly blessed to be in a small town with big leaders. My admin and district leadership were visionaries most do not have the fortune to work with. I was WELL trained as a teacher-leader and flourished in many years of struggle. I started in an overflow classroom, moved with my bubble, and finally got settled in the most perfect situation a teacher can imagine. I finally had the collaborative buy in and freedom to try many things in my District-technology in the classroom being one of them. I was fortunate to work in a district where the doors were always open and I was able to be involved at the top level to support the classroom level. Somehow I found a niche in technology.

Technology was my survival skill for the most rag tag kids to the ones at risk of being bored in their brilliance. It was through simple technology usage on a campus with no wifi and no devices other than a teacher Dell desktop, 4 broken thin clients, and a thin client computer lab bound by district directed programs that I was able to help create a culture of increased teacher collaboration and high levels of student tech usage at very young ages. My final year in Selma was magical. My kids could effortless explain appropriate usage to district personal, demo new technology, and even act as MY IT Support. It was this very special class that made me send my husband off to Texas and join him 7 months laters once the school year was over. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but how those students transformed in that time was worth every minute of it.

At this point the plate spinning act of running a classroom that was challenging and innovate while getting my feet wet with District responsiblities and extracurriculars had me labeling myself with what educators know as “burnout.” When you are trained, they tell you to pace yourself, they tell you to set boundaries, but then you have 32 little faces that deserve every opportunity you were born with. This gratifying season of burnout in a job done well also had me realizing that I could multiply my efforts by becoming a teacher trainer. I had no idea what that looked like. I knew I was pretty comfortable presenting to colleagues, fairly energizing, and passionate about creating an environment that truly prepares kids for Century 21. I also new I happened to be moving to a technology hub in Austin. I started asking “What if?”

What if I didn’t teach? What if I could do anything? What if I could teach teachers how to use technology? What if I could see more kids succeed as much as Room 6 did? Then I thought…Well, insert any insecurity here. After 30 applications knowing that seeing “California” on my credential kicked me out of many piles, this strange thing happened when my husband asks if I had heard of an app called Meetup. He tells me to search “Edtech” and I found an EdTech Austin Meetup happening the next week. Angela Matthews, Manor’s Chief Technology Officer, was on the discussion panel as was another teacher who is now on our team, Stephanie Cerda. I was so impressed with the heart of the technology usage in Manor as a way to bring equity to east of the 35 that I email her the next day (something I would never normally do) and the rest is history.

So in this introductory novella, let me share what drives my involvement in educational technology. First and at my core, I believe in equity. That each and every child deserves the experience of doing something that makes them passionate and benefits this world. I was born into educational privilege and want to see the kids from rural, migrant, language learning, under-serviced, and forgotten communities to have the same opportunity that others are often born into. Secondly, I believe in efficiency. I cannot load the dishwasher without thinking there must be a way to do this faster, better, and with less stress so I can spend that time with my family. You are in the trenches, overworked, under-appreciated, tired, and weary. Technology provides the opportunity to save precious time, energy, and resources so that you have the juice to innovate with your students and still be a human being with the capacity to engage in your family and community on more than just the weekend and during the summer. I hope you will begin following me @whatifclass as I strategize with teachers, coaches, students, and administrators to make Manor classrooms as an exemplar of innovation and 21st century learning.