"Learning, Teaching and Leading "

Birthday Memories

Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in QR Codes | 0 comments

My birthday is coming up.   Since it lands during the Christmas break the office staff celebrated my birthday on Friday.  These ladies are so creative.

Nancy Alvarez Birthday

The gifts they gave me are evidence that they know me so well. They got me my very own label maker since I took over the office one.  (Yes, I am a little OCD, shh!)

They also bought me one of my favorite desserts, angel food cake, strawberries and whipped cream.

You all know how much I love QR codes.  Inside my birthday card they put lots of small gifts with QR codes on them.  Each QR code is linked to a video of staff members wishing me a happy birthday.  How cool is that!

Nancy Alvarez Birthday

I am part Cuban so I love black beans and white rice.  My school nurse friend made some just for me!

I work with the best group of ladies.  I feel so blessed.

Teaching with Nancy


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#PTChat Takeaway

Posted by on Dec 13, 2014 in 21st Century Teaching & Learning, Twitter | 0 comments

As you all know I help moderate a #DualLangChat for bilingual educators the first Sunday of every month.  This past week, I found a new Twitter chat called #PTchat.  I really did not know much about the topic, I kind of stumbled upon this chat accidentally after following a Tweet from Joe Mazza.

I was part of this great discussion about how to create opportunities for students to discover their passion and make their dreams come true.  In this chat I met Sallome Hralima.  She is a Social Architect and Chief Dream Director in NYC for .

Here is a brief video she created that will give you a taste about what she is trying to accomplish to make a lasting difference in the lives of students.

Sallome Has a Dream from PlanIt Brooklyn on Vimeo.

How do you empower your students to find their passion, discover their purpose and live their dreams?

Teaching with Nancy

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Learning Spaces: What does your classroom say about you?

Posted by on Nov 23, 2014 in 21st Century Teaching & Learning, Learning Spaces | 2 comments

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit classrooms in a neighboring school district with a group of administrators from the school district where I work.  The focus of our learning walks for the day was on learning spaces.

When I think about learning spaces, many different things come to mind.

  • How is a 21st century classroom set up?
  • What features would you expect to see?
  • What does your classroom say about you, the teacher?

more importantly .  . . 

  • What does your classroom say to your students?

As an administrator I visit classrooms daily.  Students do not need to be in the room for me to know what kind of learning goes on in the classroom.  The way the classroom is set up and organized is evidence of the type of teaching and learning that happen there.

Here are some pictures I took while on my “field trip”, others are pictures of teachers I know that have shared their classroom photos with me.  When you view these different learning spaces, what stand out to you? What do these classrooms speak to you?


Learning Spaces

Learning Spaces

Learning Spaces

Learning Spaces

The way teachers sets up their classrooms says a lot about what they value.  Does your classroom foster creativity, collaboration and innovation?

What does your classroom say about YOU?

Teaching with Nancy

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Developing Phonological Awareness Using QR Codes

Posted by on Nov 22, 2014 in 21st Century Teaching & Learning, EdTech, Phonological Awareness, QR Codes | 1 comment

Developing Phonological Awareness Using QR Codes

I don’t know what your experience is with QR codes, but I hope by the time you finish reading this post you will be excited about using them with your students.  I had a blogger friend ask me if I would write a post for her site about using QR codes to help students develop their phonological awareness.  After writing the post I thought I would be a good idea to share it on my own blog too.

I’ll share some ideas, resources and then give you all the information you need to create your own QR codes.

Audio QR Codes

QR (Quick Response) codes can be scanned using a free app on any smart device. For phonological awareness activities, I create QR codes with audio.  Basically, students scan the QR code with their smart device and listen to the recording.  When I learned how to do this I got pretty excited.  Just think about it for a moment,  the possibilities are endless.  You can record anything and in any language.

Try it out for yourself!

I am a visual person to a fault.  If you are anything like me, you need to see it and try it out yourself to understand exactly what I am trying to describe to you. If you don’t already have a QR code reader on your smart phone or tablet, download one.  My favorite QR reader is called QR Code Reader and Scanner,  it is free and works great.

Here are a few examples for you to test out.

QR Code Initial Sounds

This is a free download. Click here to download your copy for your class.

QR Code Rhyming

This is a free download. Click here to download your own copy for your class.  This activity is also available in Spanish.  Click here for the Spanish version. 

QR Code Syllable Sort

Besides these examples you could record two words and have students determine if they begin with the same sound.  Instead of initial sounds you can have students listen for the medial or ending sound.  With a little brainstorming, I am sure you will discover that the possibilities are limitless.

QR Code Resources

I am going to share two places you can find free QR resources if you are not yet ready to create your own.  On my blog I have a free download section where you can find a few free QR stations I’ve created.  Another place you can find a ton of ideas for using QR codes in the classroom in general is a Pinterest board I have.  Every time I come across a unique way to use QR codes I pin it there.  If you follow the board you will have access to everything I find.

Follow Teaching with Nancy’s board QR Code Learning Stations and Classroom Ideas on Pinterest.

Creating Your Own Audio QR Codes

I’ve created a website I use for times I facilitate professional development on this topic.  On this site you will find everything you need to know to create your very own audio QR codes.  There is a section with tutorials that includes a video I created that will show you every step.  Even if you do not consider yourself to be super tech savvy, don’t worry you can do this!

QR Codes in the Classroom Header Medium 3

If you have never used QR codes in this way I hope I have inspired you to at least investigate them a bit more.  If you already use QR codes in your classroom, I hope I have shown you some new ideas you can begin using with your students.

Teaching with Nancy


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Aspiring Administrators

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in 21st Century Teaching & Learning, Leadership | 0 comments

TWU Panel Photo

Former TWU Graduate School Panel of School Administrators

As you all know I am a new administrator. I completed my master’s degree in educational leadership at Texas Women’s University (TWU) in December of 2013.

You can imagine how excited I was when a former professor asked me if I would be part of a panel of TWU graduates now serving in an administrative role. I am all about helping others get ahead, and love to guide and help people towards reaching their dreams and goals.

For a little over an hour, the panel I was on answered questions put together by a group of aspiring administrators currently in their last semester at TWU.

They came up with really good questions. There were a couple of questions that stood out to me.

Question 1

One question was about what the administrative team can do to cultivate a positive school climate. That is so important, in fact, too important to leave to chance. You do not need to be in an administrative role to know that school culture can make or break a school.

3 things an administrator can do to cultivate a positive school culture:

1. If and when at all possible, involve teacher in the decision-making process.
2. Provide PD choices. One size does not fit all!
3. Appreciate and acknowledge teachers verbally and tangibly! Notes of appreciation and surprise snack delivered to their door work wonders on my campus.

Question 2

Another question that was asked was, “If you could tell an aspiring principal one thing, what would that be?”

This one is pretty simple for me. I would say, “Keep growing!” Learning does not end when you get your diploma. Learning is life long. I tell teacher all the time, “Do not depend on your administrators or school district to develop you professionally.” That may sound strange coming from someone who is in part responsible for developing and delivering PD at the campus level but I mean it.

I highly encourage teachers to seek out learning opportunities that interest them. This is something I practice personally. For example, just this past month I spent one Saturday attending EdCamp Dallas and another Saturday attending TCEA Emerge. No one said I had to go, most times I go alone to these things because sadly many people around me are not interested.

As a campus administrator, I feel a greater responsibility to continue to learn and grow.  As an instructional leader, it is my job to know and keep up with the latest trends plus, I am kind of an Ed. Tech. geek, I love learning how others are using technology in their classrooms to engage students and boost learning.

Office vs. Classroom

Teaching is a DIFFICULT job. I have been out of the classroom for 4 years now. I can tell you first hand, the most important things that happen in a school do NOT happen in the office, it happens in the classroom!

As I grow and learn in my new role, I hope those around me view me as a leader that is there to support and propel them.

Teaching with Nancy

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