TCEA TechNotes 02.04.14
Outstanding Educators Recognized
Each year, TCEA seeks to recognize those educators who exemplify all that is best in our profession with awards and professional scholarships. This year's list of finalists is an amazing gathering of tremendous talent, supreme dedication, and endless hours of hard work. They will be recognized in a reception today at the 2014 Convention & Exposition, and the winner in each category will be named. We salute these educational heroes and encourage you to do the same.
Classroom Teacher of the Year
  • Pedro Delgado, El Paso ISD
  • Nicole Hicks, Celeste ISD
  • Todd Nesloney, Waller ISD
District or Campus Administrator of the Year
  • Shannon Fuller, East Central ISD
  • Alicia Gonzalez-Carrillo, United ISD
  • Danny McFarland, Hardin-Jefferson ISD
Instructional Technology Specialist of the Year
  • Shannon Kirkland, Texarkana ISD
  • Rory Peacock, Northwest ISD
  • Karen Wright-Balbier, El Paso ISD
Library Media Specialist of the Year
  • Carolyn Foote, Eanes ISD
  • Tammy Turner, Frisco ISD
  • Pamela Voyles, Port Aransas ISD
Making It Happen (recipients)
  • Jennifer Bergland, TCEA
  • Nelson Coulter, Guthrie CSD
Superintendent of the Year
  • Sharon Doughty, Port Aransas ISD
  • Susan Kincannon, Ed.D., Belton ISD
  • Jerrod Pickering, Lorenzo ISD
Technical Support Person of the Year
  • Alex Dixie, Deer Park ISD
  • Chad Greene, Klein ISD
  • Kip Robins, Region 6 Education Service Center
Technology Administrator of the Year
  • Diana Benner, Del Valle ISD
  • Scott Hagedorn, Hardin-Jefferson ISD
  • Carl Shawn, Northwest ISD
Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Technology in Education (recipient) - Barbara Brown, Lewisville ISD
Those educators or future educators receiving scholarships include:
Jeri Hodges Leadership Scholarship - Louise Morgan, Crowley ISD and Ruth Wolfe, Port Neches Groves ISD
Richard A. Brown Student Scholarship - Marty Ham, Student at University of North Texas
Robert E. Knight Professional Scholarship - Brandon Grell, Northside ISD and a Student at University of Texas at San Antonio
It's Happening Now!
If you aren't able to attend the week-long TCEA 2014 Convention & Exposition this year, you can still follow along. Just search for the Twitter hashtag "#tcea14" and read what convention attendees are learning. Or download the free TCEA convention app, available for iOS and Android, and easily follow the Twitter stream from there. Keep the learning going!

What's the Best Stylus for Your Device? 
By Randy Rodgers, Seguin ISD
Thirteen elementary and high school students in Seguin ISD evaluated five different touchscreen styluses recently, rating them from 1 to 3 stars in a variety of tasks, including drawing, writing, and game play, along with the comfort of each. The styluses evaluated represent popular models available in several different styles, shapes, and features. Prices ranged from $7.50 to $74.95. The styluses reviewed included:
  • Adonit Jot Pro ($29.99 - Amazon). Metal stylus with a rubber grip, internal magnets which allow it to stick to the tablet, and a transparent, plastic disk tip.

  • BoxWave Touchscreen KinderStylus ($7.50 - Amazon). Plastic stylus shaped like an over-sized Crayon that comes in a variety of colors.

  • Cosmonaut ($25.00 - Amazon). Wide-grip, rubber stylus resembling a very large, black Crayon. Heaviest stylus tested.

  • Jot Script Evernote Edition ($74.95 - Evernote Market). Battery-powered stylus that uses the device's Bluetooth connection instead of screen pressure, allowing for a fine, metal tip.

  • TruGlide Stylus ($14.95--Amazon). Thin, metal stylus with a unique, microfiber cloth tip, promising reduced friction.


Five second grade product testers from Rodriguez Elementary in Seguin unanimously expressed that the TruGlide stylus was the "best" stylus, saying it "works best" and is "the awesomest." It was easily the top vote-getter for drawing, writing, and game play. The Jot Pro scored the highest rating for comfort. The BoxWave, while likely the cutest stylus, failed to impress, scoring lowest for comfort, writing, and overall average.


Eight seniors at Seguin High School narrowly selected the Evernote Jot Script at best overall, also scoring it highest for drawing and comfort. Students described the Jot Script as "smooth writing" and "professional," although one described a delay in responsiveness as a possible issue. The TruGlide finished second in the test, but was selected best for writing and game play. As with the elementary testers, the over-sized styluses were not well-received, with the BoxWave and Cosmonaut finishing fourth and fifth respectively. The Cosmonaut was criticized for being "very heavy," "laggy," and "not good (for) fine motor skills."


Overall, the TruGlide stylus was the top point-getter. Testers found it to be comfortable and capable for every task, and rated it best for drawing, writing, and game play. One possible area of concern might be the durability of the microfiber tip. However, the stylus is affordable at $12.99 as tested, so replacement should not be a major issue.  

Free Reading Webinar: Getting to the Core of Instruction with myON
Join Dr. Beryl Bailey, CCC/SLP for a one-hour, free webinar on how to leverage myON to teach students to critically analyze, communicate about, and comprehend complex text. Attendees will receive a demonstration on how to conduct a close read with myON books, free until March 31. myON books are available for students in grades K-12.

The webinar will be February 13 beginning at 3:00 p.m. CST. Register here.

Interactive U. S. History Games from PBS
Mission US is a wonderful multimedia project that immerses players in U. S. history content through three free interactive online games. The games are targeted for middle school students, but may be used by younger students with teacher help.
  • Mission 1: "For Crown or Colony?" puts players in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a printer's apprentice in 1770 Boston. Students encounter both Patriots and Loyalists, and when rising tensions result in the Boston Massacre, they must choose where their loyalties lie.
  • In Mission 2: "Flight to Freedom," players take on the role of Lucy, a 14-year old slave in Kentucky. As they navigate her escape and journey to Ohio, they discover that life in the "free" North is dangerous and difficult. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act brings disaster. Will Lucy ever truly be free?
  • In Mission 3: "A Cheyenne Odyssey," students become Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy whose life is changed by the encroachment of white settlers, railroads, and U. S. military expeditions. As buffalo diminish and the U. S. expands westward, players experience the Cheyenne's persistence through conflict and national transformation.

All of the games require that students register, but no fee is required. They may play online or via the iPad or Android apps. Curriculum materials and videos for teacher use are also available. Other missions are planned for release later in 2014 and in 2015.


Skype with an Author on World Read-Aloud Day
Join World Read-Aloud Day will be Wednesday, March 5. Celebrate the joy of reading by having an author Skype with your class to discuss a favorite book. This fantastic website offers a list of authors who have volunteered to virtually meet with students that day.

TCEA Convention Hashtag
Best Stylus for Your Device
Free Reading Webinar
Member Spotlight
Tech Literacy Assessment
February Holidays
Google Tips: Earth

Discover more exciting events
If you need an expert on network infrastructure, consider calling on Pat Startz, the technology coordinator in Falls City ISD in Area 20 and our featured member this issue. Pat is currently number 11 on the TCEA Community Leaderboard, a ranking she has earned as she shares her tremendous technical insight with others on a regular basis.
Pat gained many of her technical skills from her father, helping him fix almost anything from old tube-type televisions to radio towers. She received her BS in Science and Computer Science and began teaching in Falls City. While working, she completed her Masters in Educational Technology Leadership from Lamar University.
Pat updated her district's network in 2012 and since then, has been busy with iPad, Android, and Windows tablets and touchscreen projects. She is currently getting ready for a 1:1 mobile device deployment in August 2014, preparing both the physical and the human infrastructure for such a change. She's also busy planning a new K-12 campus that will open by January 2016.
Pat's four children joke that she is a "device junkie," much like many of us. You can find her in the Community. 

The deadline to sign up for the free TCEA and 8th Grade Technology Literacy Assessment is February 14. The assessment is free to all public, private, and charter schools in the state of Texas. 
The assessment measures the student's knowledge of digital literacy and basic computer skills as aligned to the TA-TEKS. The resulting data of both individual performance and a statewide measurement of comparison is shared with the districts and can be used for STaR Chart reporting and to better inform instruction. The assessment is designed to be completed in one class period and is a web-based and platform-neutral tool that performs on all devices.
To learn more and sign up before the February 14 deadline, visit this website.
Looking for some fun events to celebrate in February? This calendar has some excellent and little-known holidays this month, along with links to resources, activities, and crafts. For a few more off-beat holidays, try this website.


Google Earth can help you bring a world of information alive for your students. It is a free download for Mac or Windows and can be used with all grade levels. Students can use Google Earth to explore topics like the progress of human civilization, the growth of cities, and the impact of natural disasters. Teachers can use Google Earth demos to get students excited about geography beyond the static map or use different Google Earth layers to study transportation, demographics, economics, and specific local or exotic contexts.

Here are some resources to help you utilize this powerful tool in your classroom:
The TCEA office will be closed on Monday, February 10 as we rest up from convention. We'll be back available to you on February 11.
TechNotes is a free e-newsletter published bimonthly by TCEA, a member-based organization devoted to innovating teaching and learning. Subscribe at