2014 Year in Review

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As 2014 draws to a close, I, much like other educators look back at what the year brought me, both good and bad.

1. Starting off in the Spring, I came up with App Dice. Such a simple tool that is now used and enjoyed by teachers and students all over the globe. When I see an App Smash or talk about App Dice at a conference, on Twitter, Blog or webpage and see App Dice being used. I just smile. Great seeing something I came up with being used for learning and education.

2. Teach Like a Pirate. While I didn’t jump on board the ship until the summer, Teach like a Pirate by Dave Burgess has really reignited my passion. In late May I was feeling very burned out. Sure my App Dice were being used but all of a sudden I just felt: “Now what?” It’s a question that many of us get when we hit a major success point. Ever since picking up the book and following so many fellow pirates online and even talked with some at Edcamps. Becoming a Pirate has really made myself rethink how I do things and create lessons and projects. Since starting TLAP, I’m now working on Tech like a Pirate and coming up with new Hooks to use in the classroom. Ahoy!

3. Tech Smashing really came to life for me, after making App Dice and getting more and more into SAMR Modeling and looking at other ecosystems for learning. Finding ways or creating ways to tech smash different devices from Makey Makey to Google Glass really was a great new adventure I have really come to enjoy. I am so happy to be continuing the use of Tech Smashing and exploring 2:1 programs now. I have to thank Courtney Pepe, Sue Gorman, Kevin Honeycutt, Don Wettrick, Craig Badura, Megan Zigmond and Kasey Bell for getting me there.

4. Stick Around has continued to be my favorite App. Thanks to Tony Vincent I have rediscovered old passions, came up with great ways to use Stick Around with my students and teachers and really started rethinking my blog more and more. Amazing how one App did all of that.

5. My Book was a big accomplishment this year after six years, seeing My Life as a Comic Book Reader come to life has been a dream come true. Many who don’t know, the story was born out of a very dark time in my life and getting the book to print caused me to travel back down those roads and see how far I have come. Now, thanks to this, I’m working on my second book, Small Hope and getting my first teacher’s guide book, Dice UP the Classroom together. I never considered myself a writer and in the last year, I have now realized, I am.

6. Going back to using Legos again has been a large accomplishment that my teachers have really loved working with again. In November, when I came up with Tech Smash the Lego Classroom, it was like being a kid again learning how to build and create. Something, I really want my own son, Tyler to experience as he grows up.

7. Gaming has started to creep into my life again, not to the point of where I have to pull out my iPhone and play Angry Birds (I deleted it) but using Gamification for education has really started to spark in me again with Minecraft, Google Classroom and more. I hope to really put it more into my teaching style in 2015.

8. One of the biggest accomplishments this year has been deciding on my dissertation, I take the Cadency Exam this March and let me tell you. That is one test I am doing my best to prepare for it since it will decide if I can write my dissertation on Self-Efficacy of Post Service Teachers in the Mobile Classroom. Yet, to get to this point has been amazing. I never thought I was smart enough to ever have a doctorate or a master’s for that matter. I listen to the wrong people who called me average and now, I’ve learned how wrong I was to listen to those people. We choose who we want to be and if others can’t see that we are not lost causes, then they don’t belong in our lives.

I have to admit though there has been a lot of bad in 2014. My wife losing her job hurt us financially, I had benign cysts removed that were non cancerous. Medical costs have hit us, I have had my account hacked twice and finances have been in real despair for the first time since I lost my job back in 2010. While my wife has returned to work and major expenses have finally been paid off, the linger of debt has been on my shoulders more than it should be. I pray that 2015 will see a true financial stability for the first time in a long time but only time will tell. Its times like this when I look back at the year and I can smile and know there was more good than bad. Especially, when I have had years where there truly was more bad than good. 2003, 2008 and 2010 come to my mind too many times when I do truly think of real hard times. Where I saw others find success where I couldn’t. However, its remember those days that show how truly blessed I am now and how far I have come. I know for a fact while the pits that did happen in 2014 have been bad, I have found a way through them. I look at the end of 2014 not happy its over but knowing how much I triumph over these times. I always look to the new year as a fresh start and even better days ahead. As I wrote in My Life as a Comic Book Reader and now in Small Hope. Despite where you go, there are always better days ahead and you will get there even when it doesn’t look like you can.
So, here is to 2014 and the road ahead to 2015.

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