Sunday, December 2, 2018

15 Days of Resources You Can Do

This share has been brewing in my brain for quite some time and it feels like the perfect time of year! The rush of the new school year has worn down, the weather is changing, and you have a good grasp on this year's students. Now is the time to stretch ... check out something new ... try something new ... To help, I've compiled 15 resources for you to review and see if any fit you and your students.  

Starting with today and for the following 14 week days, I will share a resource I've come across and some potential applications for it on my companion blog. Nothing long winded - just enough to peek your interest, or for you to pass on. I will add links to each description below the graphic for your perusal. Please share these! It might not be the best fit for you, but it might be just what your friend needs. 

Week 2:

Dec 10: [LINK]

Week 1:

Dec 3: Adobe Spark for Education [LINK]

Dec 4: Locked Quizzes in Google Forms [LINK]

Dec 5: Science Journal with Google [LINK]

Dec 6: 250 Virtual Field Trips [LINK]

Dec 7: Multiplication Games [LINK]

Friday, November 23, 2018

Reminders for Me

This one is for me, but I'm sharing because maybe you need it, too. 

I was listening to a podcast from John Spencer "Why Balance Is Critical for Creative Work" as I packed my lunch and ate breakfast earlier this week. He said several things that spoke to me. But the one that really stuck out is this:

"There’s a difference between being busy and being productive."

I feel like I was so busy in October and the beginning of November. I know I let numerous things drop. But I can't say confidently that I was productive. Sure, on a few things I was, but not overall.

I need to stop for a moment & remind myself: 

  • it's ok to take a break & just hang out
  • it's ok to skip a week (or 2!) in writing
  • it's ok to shift the focus to another area
And the big one -
  • it's ok to say no

You see, I got hit with a nasty head cold/sinus infection that required two trips to the doctor. Several nights of sleeping upright and coughing until I was beyond exhausted. The amount of cough drops I consumed can't really be healthy ... and just as I finished my antibiotic, I stepped on a tour bus headed to Philadelphia & Washington, DC with 230 teachers, parents, and 8th graders.

This trip was one for the record books - it was our largest trip ever (yea!), but also our most challenging trip. 99% of the issues were beyond our control ... after all, what bus company tells you less than 24 hours into your trip they are taking your FIVE buses away??? Only to replace them and have 2 of those buses break down on separate days requiring MORE replacement buses?!? I mean seriously ... ?!?

But we made it. We tackled every obstacle thrown at us. Maybe not always perfectly, but we did it. And a BIG shout out to my fellow coordinator, Alyssa. She handled the many obstacles so well! She's the reason we even have the trip. Our tour guides & tour company were amazing, as always, and we couldn't have asked for a better group of teacher chaperones who help anchor our trip year after year. The parents we take are stellar! They leave no doubt in my mind that we do the right thing by taking them with us. Oh ... and our kids are pretty awesome, too! 😊

Now that this year's trip is done (a huge job!), I need to adjust my focus on priorities, not just shiny objects in my path. I will need to stop and realign my productivity. I don't want people to see me and say, "Wow. She's so busy ..." Instead, I want people to see quality in my work. I want people to know that when I am working with them, I am giving them my best. 

In the same podcast mentioned above, John also says,

"being productive is fueled by purpose."

This week is Thanksgiving ... what a perfect time of year to RE-focus on my purpose. I think I'll take time this holiday to do this. How about you?

Please feel free to reach out. You can comment below, or find me on Twitter @kiefersj -- or Google+ +SarahKiefer .

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Small Things I Want to Do and You Can Do, too!

Last week, I had the privilege of visiting the Hilliard City School district near Columbus, OH. I made the journey with a small group from my own district. I chose to focus on the elementary options of the visit since that is the grade level I work at. (Others in my group got to see the amazing things at the middle and high school level.) 

I'd like to share some of the things the 2 elementaries are doing. I visited JW Reason Elementary and Brown Elementary. Kudos to BOTH principals! Both were very energetic and passionate about their jobs and roles in moving their staff and students forward. Kudos to all the staff at both for the awesome things I saw going on! You should all be proud!

So many of these are things are low-tech, and high impact.

🔻FOLDER OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM  easy access to a folder containing students who shouldn't be photographed. I could see this working in any school. Going a step further, teachers could include other specific info (just be careful with HIPPA). I could see it being the "go-to" for fire or safety drills and hanging in a spot in the classroom near the door.

🔻GOALS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM  each student's photo was hanging outside the classroom with a speech bubble that can be written on with dry erase over and over. Even the teacher was included! What a great visual on what each person is working towards. Some were school related, but not necessarily.

🔻DISTRICT UNITED PLAN, YET BUILDING UNIQUE  everywhere I went, it was clear Hilliard had bought into a program called the R-factor. I heard a lot about it. And the message clear and united. But each of the principals made it clear they were allowed their own twist to it. The underlying message is the same ... but the implementation was specific and unique to the building. It was also great to hear from the 2 tech guys who split their time between 2 buildings - this is my role as well! They both shared they could use the same vocab in each building.

Monday, October 15, 2018

7 Tips for Successful Screencasting You Can Do

Last week, I wrote about 4 reasons why screencasting has greatly helped me. And from looks of it, I wasn't the only one who was talking about screencasting last week! 

You can read last week's here ↬ Screencasting You Can Do.

Another EdTech guru I follow - Jake Miller - shared "3 Screencastify Features You (Probably) Didn't Know About". He's right! I didn't know about these 3! You definitely should read this.

Today, I want to share some tips if you've not started, or are new to, screencasting. Screencasting is a great tool for teachers for the reasons I shared last week, but it's also a great tool for students to use, too! They will most likely take to it easier than you or I!

Here are a few suggestions & tips:

When setting up your account (or setting up accounts with students), make sure you set it to automatically save to Google Drive. To do this, click on the extension, select  "Options" & on the new browser window, the top option is saving to Drive or on local device. I LOVE the Drive option. It will create a Screencastify folder for easy access with ALL your recordings in one place.

Learn and think through the potential uses for the recording options. You can record the browser tab, the entire desktop, or just the webcam (meaning what your camera sees). Each option has it's pros & cons. If you just choose the browser tab, you have to stay in just the open tab. The desktop will capture everything you can see on your screen. The webcam can capture outward images.

There's a time and place for your just your webcam to record. There's a time and place you don't want the webcam at all. There's also a time and place to have the webcam AND your screen being recorded. 

Be sure to point out specifically to your students the little black circle IS their camera! Some may not make that connection without it and be unsure where exactly to look.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Screencasting You Can Do

One area of tech I did nothing with when I had my own classroom was screencasting. To be honest, I had a hard time listening to myself! Then, one of the first things I was asked to do when I started as a tech integration person was to screencast how to log into various programs. Gulp! Now, I had to!

I won't lie - it took me FOREVER! I made and deleted and remade and deleted some more. Fast-forward 2 years, and while I still do not really care to hear myself, I find it much easier to do as well as a HIGHLY efficient way to accomplish various tasks. (I'll explain later.)

I truly wish I had gotten on board with screencasting while I was in the classroom because I've found some pretty awesome ways to use it that save time and allow you to build a bank of good resources.

I know there are all kinds of screencasting tools out there - my preferred one is Screencastify. It allows me to log in with my Google account and I choose to have it automatically save my videos to My Drive. SUPER easy! I only use the free version & have yet to hit any need for a paid version. (Sure some of the editing tools would be nice, but I've made do.)

I'll share some tips at the end. Here are some of the ways I've found screencasting is helpful:

"How To" or Demonstrations

I am split between two elementaries and I often am asked "how to" questions or "I need help with" ... but I'm at the other elementary. While I could type out directions, I've found it very helpful to create a quick little video and then share it. I've received very positive feedback from this - it's specific to the person and it provides a visual along with the auditory instructions. 

CHALLENGE: record a "how to" for your students.


A big part of my job is supporting teachers with integrating tech into their classrooms. Last winter, we did a district-wide professional book study on George Couros "The Innovator's Mindset". It was fantastic!!! As part of the wrap up, I devised "The Innovator in YOU" so our teachers could capitalize on these great ideas. One was a 2nd grade teacher who said he'd like to make videos to share with the parents on how to do the math. (Don't laugh ... this is a regular complaint for math at all ages! It's mostly a vocab thing.) I helped him get going on this project. Eventually, the hope is he will teach his students how to create these. But for now, wow! What a great idea! 

You can check him out his YouTube channel is "David Williams". I love this & I've shared it with as many primary teachers I can. Better yet, subscribe and you'll be notified each time he posts a new video.

CHALLENGE: record a video on a specific area your students struggle & share it.