Crockpot Pulled Pork & Instant Pot Baked Potato Soup

I bought an Instant Pot from Amazon for Black Friday. I “contemplated for like six days over which one to get” to quote Kyle. I couldn’t decide between six quart and eight quart. I went with the six quart and have absolutely no regrets. It’s a great size and weight. I usually only cook for two people but it could easily cook enough food for 8-10 people, however, if you’re regularly cooking for that many people, I would go with the eight quart or bigger.

I remember when I was in middle school (early 00’s) and my step mom got a pressure cooker. She raved about how she just threw a bunch of stuff in and 30 minutes later, dinner was ready. I didn’t know that feeling until my Instant Pot. I love my Instant Pot and have only received the Burn notification a few times.

Here are a few things I’ve cooked so far:

  • Garlic Parmesan Wings- Kyle said these were the most amazing wings he has ever eaten in his life.
  • Enchilada Soup
  • Tamales (oh, yes I did)
  • Chicken for my cats (yes, I’m that cat mom)

H-E-B Curbside Grocery Pick-up

I love HEB and I am so sorry if you live in a place that doesn’t have one. Their tortillas are the closest to my great-grandma’s homemade ones that I’ve ever had. I started using the online grocery curbside pick-up a year and a half ago and it’s life changing. I’ve used it 22 times since July 4, 2018. It’s free if you submit you order 24 hours before pick-up, with only a 3% markup on groceries, which is completely reasonable since someone else is fighting the crowd for my groceries. I like it because I can stand in my kitchen (or in my classroom) and really figure out what i need. You can do add-ons for up to two hours before your pick up time and sometimes your order is done early, check online using your laptop to see when it’s ready, don’t wait for the email or text.

Shopping online makes it easy to use HEB’s yellow coupons and browse the Weekly Ad. While browsing the Weekly Ad, I saw a great deal for a Boneless Pork Center Loin Roast for about $8.28, regularly $18.53 and added it to my cart… but I didn’t realize it was going to be as big as my leg. I cut it up into several servings of chops and two small roasts, vacuum sealed, and tossed in the freezer.



Crock Pot Pulled Pork

This is not new for me and neither is my crockpot. This recipe is super easy and a crowd favorite. I love my Crock Pot and was honestly a little scarred (spoiler alert) when the Crock Pot killed Jack Pearson in This is Us. A few days ago I pulled a piece of frozen pork from the freezer and allowed it to thaw. This morning, I pulled the meat from the fridge, stuck it in my Crock Pot, added:

  • Meat Tenderizer
  • Pork Seasoning
  • 3/4’s of a can of Dr. Pepper
  • Half a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce

Stirred and cooked on low for 8 hours, flipping every hour (or so) and stirring occasionally until meat was so tender it fell apart.


*We have to keep our buns protected because for some reason, our cat loves carbs and will tear the bag open if left unattended.

Instant Pot Baked Potato Soup

I used Bell of the Kitchen’s Instant Pot Baked Potato Soup Recipe and highly recommend it. This recipe was super easy and delicious!



Classroom Screen

If you haven’t tried, you need to check it out; It’s a game changer in the classroom! I display the classroom screen throughout the period which give students visuals that help them regulate their own behavior during an activity or assignment. has many tools to help with classroom management. In addition to being able to provide instructions for what students should be doing, it helps my students with time management, regulating their own volume, the appropriate conversation for the assigned task, plus more!

Today I had two screens; I put up one before our assessment and one after.

Before:Screen Shot 2019-03-26 at 6.46.14 PM.png

This screen provides instructions, lets students know how much time they have left, indicates there shouldn’t be any talking and phones should be put away.

After: Screen Shot 2019-03-26 at 6.46.46 PM.png

This screen also provides instructions and lets students know how much time they have left but it also tells my students they can work together, use their phones for educational purposes or listen to music, and monitors their overall volume!

Here’s How it Works!

Start by choosing a background.

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Next add tools.

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Use text for instructions.

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The timer is great for time management.

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I was skeptical about the sound level tool but I let my students test it out to make sure it worked and they loved being able to interact with it! You can set it to ding then they get too loud!

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I use work symbols for students to know the appropriate type of conversation for the activity.

The other options are whisper, ask neighbor, and work together.

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I use the traffic light for phones usage.

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My classroom policy is the following:


  • No pictures of anything other than assignments.
  • Be appropriate.

Red: No Phones.


  • You can listen to music with 1 earbud and your phone down on your desk.
  • You can use your phone for an assignment.

Green: Use your phone at your leisure (this is usually only the last 5 minutes of class).


Other Tools:

  • random name
  • qr-code
  • drawing
  • clock
  • exit poll

You can also download your screen to use again!

Tips and Tricks: Write over your classroom screen with your smartboard or mimio!

Texas 154 ESL Supplemental

#154eslsupplemental #ESLcertified #TexasTeachers #MiddleSchool #iteachmiddle #FBISD #diversity #EnglishLearners #Notanad

I recently passed the Texas ESL exam… after failing it two times before.

The first two times, I just studied the packets from the testing website and nothing else. I was close though, very very close.

The third and final time, prior to the exam, I took a course through my district with an educator that literally wrote the book on the Texas ESL exam. My score increased more than 30 points from the first two times, talk about growth!

The course instructors name is Patricia Morales, Ed.D. and the book is titled, Content Review and Practice Book for the Texas Educator Certification ProgramThe book came with the course that I took but can be found for $39.99 on Amazon. The book is great and really breaks down the key components of the competencies for a better understanding of the information needed to pass the test. This book also provides a practice test with answers and rationals.ESL Book

The course with Dr. Morales was engaging and her understanding of the content was evident. I think one of the more important parts of the course was that Dr. Morales was using real life strategies that can be used directly with English Learners in the classroom. Just a few of the strategies she used in the course include: repeating words that were important, enunciating, speaking slowly, using models, examples, facial expressions, hand gestures, providing copies of the PowerPoint with page numbers matching the book, constantly asking if we understood to provide explanations if needed, and looking for confusion when we all just sat there staring. Dr. Morales was an excellent instructor and made the two sessions of 3 hours each (after a long day of work) seem to fly by. Suggestions though, don’t forget some snacks.

The Best Part: We were not working in groups and instead we were in a lecture hall type room that provided everyone with enough space. I CANNOT stand being crowded into a small room sitting at a table with a bunch of other people for long periods of time. I especially prefer lecture style over collaborative groups after teaching all day!

My district will refund the cost of the test and adding it to my certification after I submit the appropriate paperwork.

Links and Resources

Texas Educator Certification Examination Program

Texas English as a Second Language Supplemental ESL Practice Test

154 ESL Supplemental Practice Quiz by ProProfs Quiz Maker

ESL Texas Test 154 Quizlet

UNT CoE ESL TExES Prep Test #154

ESL Concepts 154 Quizlet

How the Grinch Stole my Classroom Christmas Lights


#TheGrinch #TeacherBudget #ChristmasClassroomDecorations #HolidayClassroomDecorations #MiddleSchool #iTeachMiddle


  • 1 strand of lights- Probably 3.99 at Walmart but I just took them from my house.
  • 1 piece of white banner paper about 5 feet long- As a teacher, I have a personal role of white banner paper from Office Depot, I think it was this one that is $7.39. You can probably find some in your work room
  • Black Permanent Marker- The one I used was confiscated from a student at some point so I have no idea how much it was.
  • Green and red paint- 45 cents each at Walmart or ask your friendly neighborhood art teacher.
  • 4 Command Cord Clips These are great for cords, I always have a few laying around for something and they don’t damage the walls.
  • Hot glue gun- I hot glue most things to the wall as I live in Houston and it’s humid here but hot lasts the longest and peels off pretty easily.
  • Projector– I projected a picture of the Grinch stealing lights from my laptop and traced it. If you don’t have a projector, print your picture then crank it through the machine to put it on the transparencies or whatever (shrugging shoulder emoji #millenial).

I traced, painted, outline, and cut my way to this Grinch. He ended up looking so cute and everyone loved it!

Ms. Bedner’s Review GAME OF GAMES

#blendedlearning #testreview #Kahoot! #Quizlet #GimKit #DeckToys #FinalExams #SemesterExams #MiddleSchool #iTeachMiddle #7thGrade #iTeach7th #notanad #shouldbeanad

*These activities are not nearly as fun as Ellen’s Game of Games but I do frequently wish that I could pie my students in the face or send them down a shoot when they get questions wrong.

It’s that time of the year again, final exams to close out the semester. My Seventh Grade Science Semester Exams consist of content covered through the entire semester- so we spend quite a bit of time reviewing the basics of each unit we’ve covered. In order to keep my kids actively thinking [and not brain dead], I incorporate a variety of online games and activities into our lessons, in addition to completing a paper test review. Below you will find the games I use to review with my students as well as how I use the activity. I use the free versions of all of these activities but there are upgraded subscriptions available for each.

I generally give out super cool prizes to the winners  including candy, mechanical or regular pencils, and Titan Tickets our ‘campus currency’.

Paper Test Review

The test review covers all topics from the semester and includes all types of questions including multiple choice, open ended, fill in the blank, creating pictures or diagrams, etc. I give the students 15 minutes every day for a few days to work on what they can. When their review is mostly complete, I let students login to Schoology and check their answers using a digital answer key (done as a shareable Office 365 Word Document so when I make mistakes to the key I don’t have to re-upload) of the review. Some students also get a hard copy of the review depending on their accommodations and needs.

Technology Background and Current Technology Classroom Set Up


  • 1:1-  Each student has their own device to use
  • 2:1- There are 2 students to every 1 device
  • BYOD- Bring Your Own Device

Let me give you a little of my classroom technology background, I have a Masters in Digital Learning & Leading. My first teaching job was at a 1:1 campus where I taught for five years; I was technology spoiled with a class set of 30 laptops in my class… EVERY. DAY. My current school is not 1:1 and has several laptop carts to check-out. Thankfully, I am a part of a grant where I have a “class set” of 15 laptops; Whoever said 2:1 laptops in the classroom was ‘ideal’ clearly has never had 1:1 devices. BUT- We work with what we have. Using the laptops for daily activities consists of half my students completing an activity for half the class period and the other for the other half of the period, or one day half the class does a paper activity, the next day they do a computer activity and vice versa, as well as station rotation, students sharing laptops, and a few devices per group.

We are a BYOD campus so phones are allowed on campus and up to the discretion of the teacher in the classroom. I generally limit use of personal devices in class but encourage them on review days so students are not required to work in pairs- but again, work with what you have. Even though I am at a campus that technically could be considered Title 1, plenty of students have their own devices so sharing is not usually an issue.


I love Quizlet. I personally used Quizlet to study for my 154 ESL Supplemental Exam and recommend it to other teachers all the time.

What it is: Not only can you create your own set of virtual ‘flash cards’, you can also search for specific topics and find sets that have already been created by other people. You (or the student) can use the set to learn, study, or review.

How to Play: The sets can be used to complete a variety of activities based on the cards, see more information on Live below.

What I Do: I have sets of cards created for many of the topics and will share the links with students in Schoology. Students can use the Quizlets at home to study or in class if there is time.

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 10.00.41 AM

Quizlet Live

What it is: Quizlet live is a group game that allows students to work communicate and work collaboratively to answer questions.

How to Play: Students go to, enter a pin, and enter their name. After all students are in the game, Live puts students into random groups with cute animal names like Sharks, Beavers, or Peacocks- just to name a few. Students are put into random groups and must take their laptop or device to work with their temporary group*. When the game starts, each student in the group gets the same questions but different answer choices; They may or may not have the correct answer to the question on their screen, but someone from the group will. Students must work together and share information to choose the correct answer. For every question the group gets correct, they get one point, every time the group gets the incorrect answer, the group loses all of their points. First group to answer a certain number of answers correct in a row wins!

What I Do: *When Live puts students into groups, I write a table number next to each team name on the SmartBoard and students must move to that table group before we start the game. If they take too long, I start the game anyway.



What it is: I typically use Kahoot!’s ‘Quiz’ feature as a review game. Quiz is a group activity where players join a game and answer questions to earn points to earn a spot on the score board. Similar to Quizlet, you can create your own set of questions or search topics of already made Kahoots!. There are other features available on Kahoot! including: independent reviewing using the Jumble feature, discussions, and surveys.

[Image of Question]

How to Play: Students use a pin to login and are asked questions, each question can include a time, picture, etc. I usually play this with my students in single player mode but there is a ‘Team Mode’ too. Students work through questions earning bonuses along the way. Students scores are announced after each question so students are eager to see where they stand among the other students!

[Image of Scoreboard]

What I Do: Before starting the game I mute my speakers and change the settings on the game to ‘Move through automatically’ so I can walk around and monitor the class


What it is: GimKit is a new one for me, but when I heard it was created by high school students, I knew I had to try it. To get the kits, you can search public kits, add original questions, or import questions/ information from Quizlet or a .csv file.

How to Play: Similar to Kahoot! and Quizlet, students use a code to join a game and enter their name. Students win ‘money’ for questions they answer correctly, when students get questions wrong, they lose money. Students can also use their money to upgrade and buy bonuses! GimKit can also be assigned to students as an assignment.

What I Do: I don’t have any tricks here… input from Quizlet?

[Image of screen]


What it is: DeckToys is a digital ‘breakout’ game. Teachers can create lessons by inputting vocabulary terms, videos, slides, and more for students to complete at their own pace! I have been making these for each unit and sticking them in Schoology folders.?”

How to Play: Students join using a link that was shared with them (I share the link to my Schoology course). Depending on the settings, students must correctly complete an activity in order to complete a Deck. Look at the image below: I started this Deck at ‘Start Here’, as I completed each activity, I received a checkmark and the next task was opened up to me. I currently need to complete ‘choices’ in order to move to the next activity.

What I Did: This was a tough one to figure out, my suggestion, play with it. Find a topic that you can easily ace, (for me, it’s Disney Trivia) and see the different ways it can be used and go from there to create your own.

Click the image to play this deck! This was the first deck I made!
Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 1.01.35 PM

There is a way to create classes and have teams with Deck Toys… but I’m not there yet!



Active Collaborative PowerPoint

#PowerPoint #DigitalLearning #AuthenticLearning #ActiveLearning #Collaboration #Office365 #HumanBodySystems #Schoology #21stCenturyLearners #Science #MiddleSchool #iTeachMiddle #7thGrade

All of the students in my district have an Office 365 account which provides them with the office suite.

A cool feature of PowerPoint Online is the option to set up a PowerPoint that is shared and editable with people in your organization.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 6.20.45 PM.png

I created a generic PowerPoint over five of the human body systems. The PowerPoint had a title slide, a slide that listed the body systems, a slide with instructions, and three slides for each system. I then saved a copy of the PowerPoint and changed the title for each of my classes and uploaded the links to my Schoology courses.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 6.31.22 PM.png

In my Schoology course, I put several online resources or articles for each system. This took the longest, I ‘googled’ each system with words like ‘kids’ and ‘teens’ until I found 5-8 resources for each system and linked them in the corresponding folder.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 6.29.19 PM.png

I put my students in groups of 5-6, gave them three laptops, assigned ONE body system per group, showed them how to access the resources and PowerPoint, and told them to be creative and put all of the information they use in their own words.

It was a hit!

Students were able to work collaboratively to research and put together a resource that was kept in Schoology and used for students as a resources to study.

We ended up spending two and a half class periods putting the information together and half of a period presenting the information.

Side Note 1: Tell students to stay in their slides ONLY. Let students know you can see if someone else is in your slides and to pay attention if someone is there that shouldn’t be!

Side Note 2: Students should not change the background because they can potentially change the formatting on all of the slides, while it is an easily fix, students freak out.

Side Note 3: Turn off the editing feature when you’re done.



Pineapple Chart

#ObserveMe #PineappleChart #FBISDEquips #equipacademy #blendedlearning #technologyintegration

This year, my 7th grade science team and I were accepted into a program called Equip Academy, which awarded us 15 classroom laptops per teacher, a 2:1 ratio of students to laptops.

One of the stipulations of our acceptance into the academy, was to allow other teachers to observe us to see how we are implementing the laptops into our lessons. Our program suggested a Pineapple Chart to organize the days where different teachers are available to be observed.

Watch the following video to see how a Pineapple Chart can be used in a school.

The following image is from by Jennifer Gonzalez’s article, How Pineapple Charts Revolutionize Professional Development, this image is an example of what could be posted in a work room or teacher’s lounge to show when and what different teachers are available to be observed. Also check out this article for the Origins of a Pineapple Chart and other real life pineapple chart examples.

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 12.57.02 PM.png

The following image will be hung outside of my classroom on days I am available to be observed. Teachers can scan the QR Code, follow the link, or grab a paper form to provide feedback during the observation.

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 2.43.28 PM.png

Check out 12 #ObserveMe Tips for Getting Feedback from your Colleagues.


I used Microsoft Forms to collect observation data; A QR code is available under the ‘Share’ Option.

QR Code Generator This is a great resource where you can create free QR codes.

Bitly|URL Shortener This awesome site will shorten long site links.



UH We Teach CS Integration Summer Institute

#WeTeachCS #UniversityofHoustonWeTeachCS #UniversityofTexas #Robotics #Coding #Iteachmiddle #Iteach7th #STEM #WeTeachCS #coding #robotics #ProfessionalDevelopment #CS4TX

This week I attended the University of Houston’s We Teach Computer Science Summer Institute. Here are a few tools, resources, or websites that we used. There are more resources hyperlinked throughout the post.

Below are some of the materials provided to me by this collaborative. Each item is linked to it’s website and I have posted about most of the items below as I was able to explore them!

Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 9.14.25 AM  41Mm-d7vzBL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg  41ed45qr8-L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

We want our learners to be:

  • Critical Thinkers
  • Problem Solvers
  • Communicators


Image source:

Important CS Vocabulary from LaunchCS

  • Computer Science– a field in which people use the power of computers to solve problems
  • Computational Thinking- the thought process involved in using algorithms to solve problems. What are the steps needed to solve this problem?
  • Algorithm- a list of ordered steps to complete a task
  • Sequence– a particular order of steps or events
  • Program- an algorithm that has been coded into something that can be run by a machine
  • Debug– find and fix errors (bugs) in programs
  • Event- an action that causes (triggers) something else to happen
  • Pair Programming– two people work together to build a program
  • Loop– the action of doing something over and over again
  • Conditional– A statement that only runs under certain conditions or situations
  • Data– information; quantities, characters, or symbols that are the inputs and outputs of computer programs
  • Variable– a placeholder for a piece of information that can change
  • Abstraction– pulling out specific differences to make one solution for multiple problems
  • Procedure– a named piece of code that you can easily call over and over again; also called a function
  • Parameter– an extra piece of information that you pass to a procedure (or function) to customize it for a specific need

Click here to purchase the above words as posters from LaunchCS!

Unplugged Coding Activities

More unplugged activities available at and

  • Rosie’s Runtime– Helps students understand algorithms, sequencing, and programing.
  • Build- A- Band
  • Scratch Coding Cards
  • Handshake- can be used to teach students about loops!Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 12.43.08 PM.png    Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 12.42.52 PM.png
  • Don’t Eat Pete- Can demonstrate loops, sequencing, and conditionals.Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 1.00.10 PM.png     Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 1.00.22 PM.png

Pair Programming

Pair programming is a technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. There are two job titles in pair programming; The driver writes code and controls the actions of the computer, while the navigator reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 1.58.02 PMScreen Shot 2018-07-10 at 1.58.15 PM


Hardware: Ozobot evo

Software: OzoBlockly This is the site needed to write code and program your Ozobot. There is also an app for iPad that allows you to use the iPad as a control for Ozobot.


Ozobot Activites by Launch CS

Free Ozobot Evo Experience Pack


Hardware: Laptop


Using Scratch, I created blocks that could draw shapes!


Makey Makey

Hardware: Makey Makey, ANY materials you can find!




Hardware: Micro:Bit go



Resources: Free Download- Physical Computing with the Micro:Bit 

Hack Your Headphones

Attach alligator clips to use earbuds with your Micro:Bit!

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 1.52.25 PM.png


Hardware: mBot

Software: click or use the mBlock Blockly app


Finch Robot

Hardware: Finch Robot


SoftwareIn order to use the Finch Robot, you must have theBirdBrain Robot Server downloaded. Finch will work with Scratch* or Snap! *The Scratch Offline Editor must also be downloaded to use Scratch with the Finch



Hardware: Hummingbird kit

Software: Similar to Finch, in order to use the Humminbird, you must have the BirdBrain Robot Server downloaded. Hummingbird will work with Scratch* or Snap! *The Scratch Offline Editor must also be downloaded to use Scratch with the Finch


Logo Summer Institute

#LogoSummerInstitutes #WeTeachCS #UniversityofHoustonWeTeachCS #UniversityofTexas #Robotics #Coding #Iteachmiddle #Iteach7th #STEM #WeTeachCS #coding #robotics #ProfessionalDevelopment

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 7.27.56 PM

I attended the Logo Summer Institute in Pflugerville, Texas hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. I attend through the WeTeach_CS Collaborative at the University of Houston. This workshop provided a lot of valuable information and resources that I hope to incorporate with my coding and robotics club.


General Info: 4 days, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM, breakfast and lunch served, leave with a variety of materials. Cost: $400. Worth it!

Tools and Programs:

Check out THIS website for the Logo Institutes Software and Hardware Guides and Tutorials for a variety of tools.

Scratch Jr

Hardware: iPad

Link/ App: Scratch Jr (Doesn’t work with Mac or PC, must be downloaded for the iPad from the Apple Store, for Android tablets from Google Play, and for Chromebooks from the Chrome Web Store)

Ages: 2 and up



Tools: Laptop &



Scratch & Makey Makey

Hardware: laptop, Makey Makey, paper, aluminum foil, marker, glue stick



My program for the Dino Navigation:

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 12.49.45 PM.png


Hardware: Hummingbird, bird blox bluetooth connector, iPad, batteries, various materials, laptop or iPad, bird blox bluetooth connector

Software: Mac or Pc- BirdBrain Robot Server (This app is needed to run Scratch or Snap! with the Hummingbird or Finch Robot), Scratch 2.0 offline editor iPad: BirdBlox iPad app.

I wrote the following programs using my iPad.

This first program has two sensors which each serve a different purpose. Sensor 1 detects if there is an object within 10 cm, if there is an object, it will turn; Sensor 2 detects if there is a drop, if the distance from sensor 2 becomes greater than 10 cm, the robot will turn.


In the following program, the robot moves with the tilt of the iPad. Tilt the iPad forward and the robot will go forward, tilt the iPad to the right, the robot will turn right, etc.



Hardware: Micro:bit, laptop or iPad





Finally Finals

For the dreaded “What do I do when I’m done with my exam?”

A few weeks ago I visited the Thinkery Austin, an interactive museum for children, with my best friend and her son. While he (13 months at the time) had a great time playing with the door lock for the kids pen, I found an amazing resource that I knew my 7th graders would love: The Brain Hat aka Brain Hemisphere Hat by Ellen McHenry.

Since our unit on the human body was already over, I decided to use this resources for my students when they finished their final exam. Check out some of my students in their Brain Hats!


Below is a screen shot of the parts of the hat and is NOT to scale. Use the link below the image for the full PDF version of the hat in order for the size to print correctly and for other size options!

Click here for full directions for the Brain Hemisphere Hat.

Check out Ellen’s awesome website with an array of resources covering a wide range of topics!