Sunday, January 19, 2020

4+ Advanced Gmail Tips You Can Do

This will be the final in a 3 part series on Gmail. I'm wrapping it up with 4+ advanced tips. A couple of these tips will take a bit of work on the front end to set up, but once done, it can make a world of difference for taming your inbox. Another tip will prove useful when you need to find emails or content in your email.

I will start off with an admission - I do NOT use all of these. I've collected them and I'm sharing them out, because I understand that while they might not be something I choose to do, you very well might want to. I cannot stress enough how personal email is. The final tip I share is actually a collection of more advanced things you might want to look into. I link you to the Gmail Help page for each of the topics. If you look into one (or more) of them, feel free to look through other ideas. You might find something I didn't point out.

Here is a link where you can make your own copy of "Advanced Gmail Tips". 
Feel free to share these Slides with others. 

I have a growing Wakelet collection dedicated to Gmail for items that I find useful and interesting. Be sure to check it out! There might be a nugget in there to help you, too!

Have a question, comment, or idea? Share them with me on Twitter (@kiefersj), via email:, or in the comments below.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

5 Intermediate Gmail Tips You Can Do

If your email is anything like mine, it's a constant barrage. Emails that I really want, emails that are pure junk, emails that peek my interest, emails that take me down rabbit holes I didn't intend for, emails that inspire me, and so on.

I'll be honest ... email can be incredibly overwhelming. Exhausting, even. Last week I shared some basic Gmail tips - "4 Basic Gmail Tips You Can Do". Today, I'm back with 5 more that can go a loooooong way in helping you organize your Gmail. I've deemed these intermediate, but I promise YOU CAN DO THEM.

Since email won't be going away - let's take control and learn some tips better manage it. Please always remember, email is a very personal thing. Some of these tips might not fit your needs ... it's ok! I hope at least one or two of these will help you tame your email. In the following Slides, I share 5 different tips that can help you manage your email. Below the embedded Slides is a link you are welcome to click on, use, and share with others.
 Here is a link where you can make your own copy of "Intermediate Gmail Tips". 
Feel free to share these Slides with others. 

I have a growing Wakelet collection dedicated to Gmail for items that I find useful and interesting. Be sure to check it out! There might be a nugget in there to help you, too!

Next week, I'll share a 3rd one about Gmail with even more advanced tips. 

Is there something you'd like to know with Gmail? Share them with me on Twitter (@kiefersj), via email:, or in the comments below.

Happy emailing!

Monday, January 6, 2020

4 Basic Gmail Tips You Can Do

Chances are you have at least one email account. I'd even venture a guess you have more than one email. Email is an important part of communication these days and any time I find ways to make it easier, I jump on it.

I have used Gmail as my personal email for more than a decade so when my district switched over to Gmail last year, I was overjoyed! The biggest bonus for me was unlimited storage because we are a GSuite education domain

While doing research about Gmail, I came across the Time magazine article, "How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago" (published April 1, 2014). It is an interesting read about the creation of Gmail.

Today I want to share some basic, yet possibly overlooked tips that can go a long way in helping you organize and tame your email. Do you know how to create labels? Add color & emojis? How about adding a signature to the end of your email? Giving your email a theme? Check out the Slides below to find out these and a few other tips. 

Here is a link where you can make your own copy of "Basic Gmail Tips".

Feel free to share these Slides with others. 

I have a growing Wakelet collection dedicated to Gmail for items that I find useful and interesting. Be sure to check it out! There might be a nugget in there to help you, too!

In my next post, I'll be sharing more advanced tips. Is there something you'd like to know with Gmail? Share them with me on Twitter (@kiefersj), via email:, or in the comments below.

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Look Back and Planning Forward ... I Can Do

Today is my final post for the year & I want to look back on 2019 and share plans and ideas for next year.

2019 was a good year for me. A really good year. I love my job. I can't say it enough. I do. And I know I'm very lucky to be able to say that. I've worked with teachers and students on many different projects and I look forward to continuing in 2020.

I also set a pretty major goal for myself in 2019 - to become a Google Certified Innovator. I applied in 2018, but didn't make it. I was devastated (just ask my husband). I knew I needed to submit a much higher quality application the next time, and worked on my application throughout the first half of the year. I have to give a huge shout-out to Becky Tompkins - she reviewed my application and gave me great feedback. I couldn't have done it without her. Over the summer, I focused on, what was for me, the most daunting piece of the application - the video. After realizing a cartoon video wasn't really "for me," I called on my youngest daughter to help with the creation of a screen-recorded Google Slides. She took pictures of me - I used the website to remove the background. (She did such a wonderful job!) I also used for background music. I was thrilled with the way it turned out. This time, I knew I submitted the best application I could have. On August 13, I spent the day checking email and Twitter ... until about 9 pm when my husband showed me the tweet announcing the NYC cohort with my name on it!!! YAY!!! What an incredible feeling and experience! I'll share more on this later, but I want to give a quick shout out to my sister - Angie - for being my travel buddy on this adventure.

2020 is going to be another good year for me. I have my Google Innovator project to work on and bring to life. I have been assigned an awesome mentor - Adi Aharon - and I look forward to working with her. I have the added bonus of support from my curriculum director - Becky Tompkins - as I continue on this journey. My project focuses on helping teachers achieve the goals they set for themselves. Look for more to come!

I also look forward to adding to Templates for Teachers, the site Beth Kingsley & I co-created. We share out templates we've created for other teachers to use (& modify if desired). So far, we have 76! They are all made with Google, so it's super easy to make your own copy. 

Another project on my radar has to do with one of my other passions - the 8th grade Washington, DC trip I co-coordinate with Alyssa Bruck. Two years ago, I created an "app" for our trip. I used Google Slides. I made version 2.0 for last years trip and I have already started on version 3.0 for the November 2020 trip. Super excited about this!!!

I plan to continue sharing here on this blog. Ideally, I will post on Sundays, but  sometimes (like this one) I'm not able to. I also will continue to share out on my companion blog, TYCD: Resources. I'd love for you to check it out! On this blog, I share resources I've come across that I feel have some value. I keep it short & sweet and focus on the link, the audience, suggested content, targeted grade level, along with a short review. This is typically a Tuesday posting. And on Thursdays, I've been selecting a previous blog (from either one) and sharing that out, too. I've called it "#ThrowbackThursday"'s. If what I share is helpful for you, I encourage you to subscribe - to both blogs, so you will not miss a posting. I also share each blog out on Google+, Twitter, Wakelet, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Finally - I want to thank you, readers. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for your support. I hope 2019 was a good year for you and that 2020 will be an even better year! As I re-read through this, I notice a common theme. I'm not doing it all on my own. My family, my friends, my colleagues, and you are there with me every step of the way. I hope I am there with you, too.

Please don't hesitate to reach out if I can support you:

Monday, December 23, 2019

5 New Templates You Can Do

I have a confession to make ... I am a terrible gift-giver. I want to give people something that means something to them, they will use and love, and often, I fall very short of that goal. However, when I have a clear idea in my mind of what the person wants, I typically find success! The same goes for when I create at school. I want to create things that give teachers and their students something that means something.

This close to Christmas, my gift to you is sharing five of the templates I've created over the past year. Most of the time, I have a very clear picture in my mind of the WHY behind the template, other times it's a bit fuzzier, but my hope is one of these templates might find a place in your classroom. If one of the following templates isn't the right fit for your class, feel free to check out the 70+ others that are housed on my co-created site "Templates for Teachers". 

You can also find the link at the top of my site:

Here we go!

 Fractions with Sheets

Google Sheets is the perfect tool to use when working with fractions. Resizing the cells allows for squares to be grouped together to visually show students fractions. I created this template for younger students to "see" fractions, calculate fractions, and then create their own fractions. The tabs at the bottom guides students through using Sheets with fractions. The 2 fraction blocks tabs will allow students to not only "see" how fractions compare, but can also allow a short intro as to how to change colors and/or fonts in Sheets. The next 2 tabs guide students in "seeing" fractions; experience a little make your own fractions math practice; and finally, create some art with fractions. The catch? You have to write the fractions for each color.

Level Up with Pixel Art in Sheets

I created this activity for students to practice not only fractions, but also to work on their creativity. As I mentioned above, Google Sheets is the perfect partner for fraction work ... the cells quickly become parts of a fraction and when you fill them with color, it gives students a super quick way to "see" fraction parts. This activity is definitely a "step up" from the first "Fractions with Sheets" activity.

I included some basic Google Sheets vocab inside this one so even the newest Sheets users can feel comfortable. The tabs at the bottom will step students through using Sheets.

Checkbook for Students

This activity uses Sheets again (it's a very useful app!) but to work on financial skills. I was working with two teachers who were creating a "city" in their class and had used paper checkbooks in the past. We infused some vocab and background on checking accounts and checkbooks, and the tabs become super handy to separate this information from the checkbook itself. (You can even customize your logo for your checkbook if you'd like using the built in Drawing!) 

*** Bonus *** Want to design your own checks to match your theme? Why yes, you can! Here's a bonus template for that, too ↬ Checks for Students

How To Article

I love when teachers come to me and show me something they have come across and ask if I can help make it happen for their students. I will never turn this down! Often, it's a writing activity of some sort and they've found inspiration in a magazine and want their students to write in that format. Sometimes, they have an idea and I help with the design.  The "How To" article template comes from a conversation I had with 2 third grade teachers who wanted their students to write a "How To" but not just with bullet points. I came across a step-by-step article layout in my second graders' magazine from school. I showed it to my teachers and they gave me the green light! Voilá! I love helping students feel like they are published authors! 

Two Sides To It

The final template I have to share comes from a conversation with another third grade teacher. This time, she had a few examples of what she wanted in hand for me to work from. She was working on opinion writing and really liked the format this provided. Personally, I really like the place at the top for background information, and then diving into the two sides. One piece of feedback I got from this teacher as I was finishing up was that she wanted to print it and have students write on paper. I was happy to oblige, but also wanted to leave it open to also being done digitally. When you open the template, there are 4 options: print, with lines; print, no lines; digital, fully editable; digital, partially editable. 

I hope you have enjoyed these 5 templates! I love making them and seeing students use them. And, as always, any template you find on our site, Templates for Teachers, is not meant to be "perfect". It was created for a purpose, but both Beth & I fully support any teacher in taking what we have shared and adjusting and modifying it to best fit you and your students. 

Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at