Sunday, January 24, 2021

9 Google Slides Tips You Can Do

I have said it before & I'll say it again ... Google Slides is probably one of the most versatile apps in the Google suite. And one of my absolute favorites! During a session with one of my teachers, we had about 10 minutes left and the teacher asked me to show him "anything". He was eager to learn. I asked him to open a Google Slides activity he already had - I had noticed something the week prior I wanted to show him, but we ran out of time. We covered a handful of quick "tips" in those 10 minutes and it inspired me to create the resource below and share it with all of you!

Google Slides is an app many teachers are really comfortable with. There is SOOOOO much to Google Slides that I would never profess to know everything - I'm still learning! Today I've pulled together nine tips/items in Slides that you may not know about. Hopefully there will be a nugget or two you find helpful. And if it's helpful to you, please do share with friends! And if you see something you aren't familiar with in Slides, hover over it to find out what it's called ... and then click! You might teach yourself something new!

Looking for more about Slides? I've got a Google Slides Wakelet Collection you can check out. 

Do you have a Google Slides tip you think others would find helpful? Feel free to leave it below ⤵

Or Tweet at me @kiefersj 

Or email me 

Or connect with me on Facebook - Sarah Kiefer

Sunday, January 17, 2021

2021 One Word I Can Do

I've seen so many people share their one word for 2021. It has taken me a bit longer and like so many things in my life, last year has shaped my one word. I've done some reflecting while also looking forward. It dawned on me that as difficult as last year was, I ALSO saw so many bright spots - so much good. I am tired of hearing about all of the things we "can't" do and the complaining about what we've "lost" ... so, in 2021, I am choosing to focus my attention on all of the blessings in my life. And that is my word - BLESSINGS.

Now, before I go too much further, I am well aware that I cannot ignore the things we can't do or that we've lost. I will be sad and upset about them. And there will be times I will be down right angry or hurt. That's just part of being human. At the same time, I know that I am very blessed in my life and I want to make sure I do not loose sight of that. There is a lot of negativity happening and I want to make sure that I also see - and highlight - the good that is happening, too. 

I have been journaling every day for the past year and I've made an adjustment to incorporate my one word. Rather than write down things I'm grateful for, I've adjusted that section to be where I write out my blessings. Topping my list everyday is my family & our health. These are two of the greatest blessings I have. The rest of my list will vary from day to day, but some of my top blessings recently are having a job (and a job that I love), music, a good team, warm days in the winter time, the ability to connect with educators near & far, my girls able to attend school face-to-face, quiet time in the morning, and so on.

This year, I want to focus on the blessings around me; give blessings to others; and to BE a blessing.   

Through my blog, I try to BE a blessing to all of you by sharing my adventures and activities I am lucky enough to be part of. I also hope that I can inspire you to look to the positives. 

One final note - on Monday, Feb 8 at 6 pm, I will be appearing on Kim Mattina's podcast - The Suite Talk. I will be sharing about using Google Sheets in the classroom. (Hint: it won't be limited to spread sheets! And yep .... templates will be included!)

I'd love to hear from you! You can leave a comment below - reach out on Twitter & Facebook - or even email me at


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Boundaries You Can Do

Personally, I struggle with this week's topic. It's tough and it's been even tougher the past twelve months. Today, I am focusing on BOUNDARIES. 

A little background ... my district has been in-person from the start of this school year. I dared to hope we could remain this way for 2 weeks. Two weeks came and went. Then a month. Then the entire first quarter. Yes, we had positive cases and plenty of quarantines. But we stayed in-person. We switched to remote learning for the final two day prior to Christmas break and for the first week after break. Computers were sent home with the kindergarten through 4th grade students who needed them during this time. (They don't take them home on a daily basis.)

Here's the story. I was sitting at my daughter's indoor soccer game the day after we sent computers home. I received a text message from Laura, a friend who teaches 4th grade. Laura is an amazing teacher and was reaching out for advice.

She tells me a student of hers had already sent 14 comments through Google Classroom. (This is the NEXT morning ... a Saturday morning!) Laura hadn't answered any of them yet and I could feel the guilt oozing through her words. She goes on to say she is trying hard to be present for her own children. But her final comment made me pause ... "Am I being a meany?"

Wow. How many times have YOU been in that spot? Exhausted. Given all you have AT school that day/week and it's the weekend. But a student asks for help. I knew exactly what Laura was feeling. Every bit of it. I also knew she KNEW the right answer. She just wanted to hear it from someone else.

I responded quickly with "Not. At. All.

I went on to suggest she respond ONCE. Tell the student she is excited the student is eager to learn, but it's important to enjoy the weekend and if the student really wanted to work on the schoolwork, read and follow the directions. I also suggested to Laura she tell the student that she'll answer additional questions on Monday and even do a virtual meeting if needed.

Laura responded with relief. Like so many teachers, she was exhausted. She just needed to hear it's ok to put school work to the side on the weekends. I told her "Computer access doesn't mean you have to be accessible 100%."

I knew this would help this student, but it got me thinking about ALL of her students ... all of OUR students. I told Laura that students need boundaries with computers, too. The students we sent chromebooks home with might not have regular access to a device of their own and therefor this was big for them. I suggested she spend some time during her virtual meeting with her students creating agreed upon boundaries - very similar to what she'd done at the beginning of the year in-person. I firmly believe we must specifically TEACH our students the boundaries. We cannot expect them to just "know".

Laura's guilt quickly turned to excitement and she told me she was definitely going to have that conversation with her students on Monday. She agreed - this was really our first extended remote learning time. Remote learning was new to our kiddos. She wanted to everything she could to set them up for success!

Here's my thinking - boundaries WILL work, IF everyone knows where they are. We cannot make assumptions. Teaching & learning is no exception. We HAVE to make boundaries - both when we are in-person and virtual (or hybrid or whatever the case might be). I believe it is important to bring our students in on this conversation.

Our remote learning week has come and gone. Laura shared notes with me about this process and I'm excited to say she has agreed I can share the story with you, too! The first image is Laura's classroom rules, created at the beginning of the school year. Our elementary has had a pride pledge for longer than I've been working there. They say it everyday during announcements. "I am respectful. I am responsible. I am a peaceful problem solver. I can learn and I will learn." Laura's class based their rules on this. And I think it's brilliant!

Laura shared her updated classroom created rules for virtual learning. They kept the rules based on being respectful, responsible, and a peaceful problem solver. How awesome is this???

It's never to late to set boundaries with your students. 
It's never to late to set boundaries for yourself. (I work on my boundaries daily.)
I promise, you won't regret it.

Do you have a comment? Feel free to leave it below. Connect with me on Twitter & Facebook - my links are under my picture near the top right. You can also email me at 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Google Classroom: Reuse post You Can Do

 🎉 Happy New Year! I haven't been super active on social media over the break but I did see a quote that I absolutely LOVE and I think it speaks loudly to what we all need to hear at the beginning of a new year and I want to start off sharing it with you:

~Robert H. Schuller

You are tough. We've made it though tough times and we will make it through more tough times. Because we are tough. We have each other.

Now ...

I am returning to Google Classroom to focus on one of the possibilities we have when creating a post. The "Reuse post" option. This might not register as a valuable option, but it absolutely is! The value really comes in as a time saver. When you reuse a post, you are making a copy of the original post, but you have the ability to change what you need to for the new post, whether that is the due date, topic, students it's assigned to, point value, title, description, or the attachments.

As a classroom teacher I would use the same wording over and over for my students. I would also reuse most of the wording when assigning a modified copy of an assignment to a group of students and only assigning to them. Not having to retype it ALL and redoing all the settings is a HUGE time saver! I could repeat this as many times as needed - copy the title, directions, topic, due date, point value & only have to change the attachment and students it is assigned to. Talk about being able to differentiate in a timely manner! Yes!!!

Two cautions when reusing posts with attachments: 

  1. Do yourself a favor ... make NEW copies of any attachments like Docs, Slides, or Sheets.

  2. If you have a Google Form attached, delete the link it automatically brings over and take the handful of seconds it will take to relink it. 
I've seen so many teachers have weird and unexplainable issues and they all seem to trace back to reusing the attachments rather than creating new. 

I do hope you will use the reuse post to be a tad bit more efficient in your Classrooms. If you are looking for additional tips, tricks, or resources related to Google Classroom, please check out my Google Classroom Wakelet collection. I am continually adding to this collection.

Have a question or comment? You can find me on social media by clicking any of the links under my photo in the upper right corner. Feel free to leave your question or comment below ⤵ I'd love to connect with you!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020: We Did It!

2020 has been quite the year! Ups and downs, ins and outs, twists and turns. It's a relief to be able to say "I've done it! I've made it!" ... and I'll bet you feel the same. 😀I truly hope we do not experience another year like this anytime soon.

When I look back at who I was and where I was one year ago, and I think about how I was looking forward to the challenges 2020 was going to bring, I could not have ever predicted what we have all gone through. I had plans for 2020 - and then they went sideways.

I'm not going to spend today mourning what could have been. Instead, I'm going to celebrate my 10 most read blogs from the year as a recap. The pandemic played a major role in what I wrote for the majority of the year - and that's what I want to celebrate. We might all be in different spots, but there are so many similarities that bring us together.

Not surprising, many of the top read are about Google Classroom. It has become a passion of mine to share tips and resources about Classroom. And during the spring closure, I had quite the revelation: we teachers need to stop looking at Classroom (or whatever you LMS is) as teachers. We must look at it as a student and then design our Classrooms with THEM as our driving principle. That shines as a guiding principle for many of my blogs this year.

Here are the "10 Most Read Blogs of 2020" ⤸ 

#10: Google Photos e-portfolio You Can Do - Are you looking for an easy way for students to share their paper work? How about using Google Photos? This is perfect for students of ALL ages! As the teacher, create the album for each student & share it to their account. Using the comment feature, you can also provide feedback on work they upload. Best part ... it all stays connected to the students' Google accounts!

#9: Grading Forms in Classroom You Can Do - I worked closely with a 4th grade teacher to create this workflow. Grading and returning a Google Form in Classroom so students can see both their grade and any feedback you provide is not the easiest ... but it IS possible! The key is in the settings you do - and don't worry, if you don't get it right before having students complete it, you can always come back and fix it!

#8: Google Classroom Item Types You Can Do - One of the easiest things a teacher can do to better organize and use Google Classroom is to strictly stick to using the best item type for the material being posted. During the spring closure, I found a lack of understanding of what the items types are "best" for. I share an entire presentation with specifics for each item type. (Be sure to check out the final 2 slides - they are handy, ready-to-print reference sheets!) And when you post your material strategically using the best item type, your students (& their parents!) will have less confusion as to what must be done.

#7: Insert Audio (... for kids!) You Can Do - And amazing update to Google Slides is the ability to add audio! Not only can you add audio, so can your students! When I shared this out in early 2020, my focus was not just on the teacher adding audio, but I shared this geared towards showing your students how to add audio. Step-by-step directions AND a quick-print PDF makes it even easier for you to add audio. Game changer for sure! 

#6: Research Template You Can Do - Many of my blogs are inspired by my day job, but quite a few are inspired because I am also a mom. I teach in a different district than where my girls go school, so I get to see how even more teachers teach. This one was inspired by how my middle daughter was doing research for a report. In all honesty, she wasn't taught HOW to research. I realized that for the most part, we AREN'T teaching our students HOW, so I created this template that ANY teacher can take, insert their specifics, and share it to students to provide a structured approach to teaching students how to research.  

 New Quarter = New Classroom You Can Do - With our "new normal", our need to keep our digital classrooms organized is even more important. Many teachers aren't teaching students in face-to-face situations, some are in hybrid situations, and some, even though they are face-to-face, rely heavily on digital classrooms to lessen the use of paper. I STRONGLY recommend starting with a NEW classroom at the quarter/grading breaks. Use these 7 steps to help you, your students, and their parents focus on the now.

#4: A Deeper Dive into Google Classroom Posting Options You Can Do - Did you know there are many posting options in Google Classroom? And just like item types, use them strategically to "better" organize your materials and you'll reap the benefits. Topics, scheduling, and draft mode will allow you to plan ahead, organize, and have material "magically" show up just when you want or need it to. Design your Classroom through lens of your students. It will pay off. I promise.

#3: Classroom Header Template You Can Do - This is purely for fun! Google Classroom provides a somewhat random image for your header. Based on the name you give your Classroom, you might get lucky that it matches the content. However, you CAN choose your own header, or even better, create your own and then upload it for a custom look. But, this allows you to go one step further ... include your students on the design of your Classroom and give them some ownership and pride in the look of the Classroom they use just as much as you. This can be a class project!

#2: Starting Google Classroom You Can Do - How much thought have you put into setting up your Google Classroom - or other digital classroom? My second most read blog in 2020 is one where I share an 8 ideas to really put some thought into as you set up your new Classrooms. If you are an administrator, I also recommend you go through this process as it will give you insight as to your recommendations for the teachers you serve and support. Doing this process as a teaching team, or even whole building, and ultimately aligning the general structure of ALL digital Classrooms will benefit your teachers, your students, and your parents. Not having to "learn" a new structure for each teacher will lessen the frustration at home, and right now, that is super important. 

P.S. this process can work for ANY digital classroom, not just Google Classrooms.

#1: Google Classroom "To Do/To Review" You Can Do - Late summer always brings updates to Classroom and this year is no exception. This year's BIG update was a "To Do" (for students) and a "To Review" (for students). THIS. WAS. MAJOR. With a click on the "To Do", students can now see all of their assigned work for all classes, or just one class. This simple look is game changer! I also tucked in a view of the teacher's "To Review" where you will see ALL assignments, or assignments for a specific class. This blog also shares some overall guidance for Google Classrooms.

I hope you enjoy this final week of 2020 and that you are able to rest, relax, and enjoy. Thank you for reading and sharing my blog out. I absolutely love creating, designing, and sharing out what I do. I truly hope that it is helpful. I will continue to share in 2021. And thanks to a conversation with a colleague and friend, I have a pretty awesome one to start the year off with! As a district we will start the new year off remotely and she was struggling with setting boundaries with students in this digital world.

Please feel free to comment below ⤵ - Tweet at me @kiefersj - on Facebook Sarah Kiefer - or even email me I'd love to hear from you!