Sunday, August 2, 2020

Making the Most of August You Can Do

August always brings mixed emotions for me. August signals the beginning of the end of summer ... school supply shopping ... heavy prep work for the coming school year ... rush to finish projects around the house ... squeeze in family time ... ramping up of fall sports ... soaking up every bit of sunshine possible ... all good, yet a little sad - I love summer!

August 2020 is in many ways the same, yet COMPLETELY different! If I'm being honest, the past 4 1/2 months have been both wonderful (extra family time, enforced slow down of running around, extra learning time) and stressful (the unknowns, the fears, the crazy, the emotional roller coaster). It's also been physically taxing on me (I fell on a run & required shoulder surgery - I'm 6.5 weeks post-surgery, healing nicely, but this is going to take time). But I'm not here to complain!

Thanks to the wonderful people around me, I've been able to accomplish a great many things this summer and I still have some items to check off my "to do" list. I'm excited!

Back in April, I kicked it off with presenting at the April meeting for GEG Ohio. I shared how you can create an "app" using Google Slides. There is a lot of goodness in this meeting - I appear around the 1 hour mark.

From there, a huge thanks goes out to Dr. Desiree Alexander, my #NYC19 Innovator Coach. She allowed me to share 11 - yes ELEVEN - webinars with a great many educators. And ... we have a few more planned! Yay! Not only does she do these live, but she records them and shares them out on her YouTube channel (Educator Alexander) so you can watch them afterwards. All the resources are tucked in the show notes, so be sure to click the "show more" so you can learn right along with the recording.

Pre-injury, I installed new floors throughout our 1st and 2nd floors. We also did a fair amount of painting. Unfortunately, our new stair treads were backordered and didn't come in until after my surgery. My dad is super handy and came over a couple of times and helped complete most of the projects! My mom got to enjoy some fun with my girls, too.

I also was able to participate in a handful of conferences that moved their entire conference online and offered it freely to everyone! There was EdChange Global, WeVideo Creator Community, and Beyond the Bootcamp with Jeff Bradbury. You can find them all on my YouTube Channel on the "My Presentations" playlist.

And I have a few more things still coming up! This week will kick off Monday with the G-Tech Summit hosted by the Genoa Area Local Schools in Ohio. I'll be presenting on both Monday & Tuesday. I encourage you to join in the learning fun - there will be tons!

I'm also excited to keep learning about Data Studio, Blended Learning, Google's new Certified Coach curriculum, and I've always got a stack of books to read. 

Guess I better get moving and tackle some of the items on my "Today's To Do" list. How about you? What's on your list?

Have a question or comment? Please leave it below. Or Tweet at me - @kiefersj - I'd love to connect. Would you like some help with something - feel free to email me .

Sunday, July 26, 2020

How MANY Google Classrooms Can You Do?

Nearly a month ago, I shared a reflective activity I had designed to better help teachers think through the process of setting up their Google Classrooms. I called it "Starting Google Classroom You Can Do." It is a great step-by-step process you can do individually, as a teaching team, or even as a leadership team to better guide your teachers. Feel free to make a copy of the slides so you can get right to work! I included 8 topics to consider, gave some specific thoughts on each one, and then asked a reflective question.

Since I've published it, I have presented on this at the EdChange Global virtual conference and incorporated it into my webinar "Tech You Can Do: Intro to Google Classroom". Both times, it has been well received. You see, as teachers, now more than ever, we need to Stop. Think. Reflect. Question. Discuss. Think. Reflect. Discuss. We have taken the blinders off and, hopefully by now, we've all accepted the fact that education is changing. And while change IS scary, change CAN be good! We can grab this change by the horns and MAKE it great!

I have had numerous conversations with teachers the past several weeks regarding the number of Google Classrooms to have -- wouldn't it be nice to just have someone tell us the "right" answer here? 

That's the tough part ... there ISN'T a right answer.

Each class is unique. Each teacher is unique. Be ok with this.

Embrace this!

Now, since you DO have to set up Classroom(s), let's dive in deeper on this. Since there is no magical formula, you need to consider a few things. I've created a Slide deck to walk you through this thinking. I don't have all the answers ... I don't know the best situation for you ... but I can help you doing some solid thinking. I can give you some pointers to jumpstart your planning, so you can make the best decision for you! Good luck!

If you have questions, you'd like additional help, or if you'd like to have a discussion with me to best decide your path, please reach out! Comment below, email me, Tweet at me, or Facebook me! All my contact info is to the right.

Would you like a link to share with others? Here you go! (I've also use a new URL trick I've learned to remove the navigation menu!)

I have been staying busy this past month or so with quite a few presentations & I still have a handful more coming up! Please check out My Presentations tab if you are interested in hearing more from me. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Wakelet You Can Do

I write today to share today a tool that has helped me out ... a LOT! Our lives are all busy for many reasons - personal life, work life, extracurriculars, and more ... I have spent countless hours trying to figure out a system of curation that makes me happy, and one that works across platforms because I don't always have my computer with me. About a year I wrote about curation in "Digital Curation Tools You Can Do", and I mentioned I wasn't super "taken" with Wakelet. One year later, after becoming frustrated with everything else I was trying, I tried Wakelet again, rode the "Wakelet wave" and fell in love! 

Wakelet is an app, an extension, and a website - I use all 3! It is super visual, easy to use & modify, and you can curate more than digital links. In fact, you can add 10 different "things".

I highly suggest you check out Wakelet ... the ability to quickly add links, videos, PDFs, etc to ONE spot and come back over and over has been incredibly helpful. I have begun using Wakelet in some non-traditional ways, too, that I've found crazy helpful.

For example: 

Webinars & Resources
I have tuned into countless webinars these past several months & am constantly opening tabs to see the resources shared, taking screenshots of important things, along with jotting notes down on paper. Now, how do I keep ALL of that together - for myself to reflect on or to potential share with others? A Wakelet collection! That's right -- I create a collection (& most of the time an image I've taken works as a great cover). The title starts with "Professional Learning: "Title" ... and the description gives some kind of description of the topic. After that, it becomes a quick process of opening a new tab (I allow Wakelet to "control" my new tab), and drag & drop the sites I opened; upload the images I took; and finally, take photos of my notes & upload, too. 


I can even add text to include a reflection or additional notes I want to highlight. If possible, I'll include a link to the recording so it truly means EVERYTHING is in ONE spot! As a bonus - I have the ability to share this collection with others! [Note: I don't typically make these public as I don't want to upset any of the presenters by sharing without their permission.]

Here is an example - be sure to click on the < > to scroll through!

Topic Specific
This is probably the easiest and basic way to use Wakelet. Create a collection & start popping in items that relate. Refer to it, share it, add collaborators - enjoy! I have so many of these! One for each Google app, one for each content area, one for areas of high interest to myself! (I have 91 collections right now!)

The collection below is one where I collect digital activities in one spot. I can come back and look for something specific, or if someone asks about activities I know of, it's a quick share of this collection and they have 80+ ones to scroll through. Don't you LOVE the visual appeal!?!? Major bonus points for me!

Don't forget - click on the < > to scroll through!

Collections of Collections
This one is newer for me but packs an AMAZING punch! Wouldn't it be awesome if you could gather up multiple topics into one BIG one, but still keep them "separate"? Well, you CAN and this is perfect!

I updated my "Professional Learning" tab yesterday this way ... I had been using Pearltrees, but hadn't been updating them, or frankly, even looking at them. I'd already duplicated most of them in a Wakelet, but based on the views of this page, others ARE looking at this specific page, so I didn't want to get rid of it. Sooooooo, I created a "Professional Learning" Wakelet collection & embedded it! No preview below ... just head on over to my "Professional Learning" page to check it out. I even embedded the Pearltrees of the peeps I follow on Twitter (b/c I actually like how it looks better!).

Collaborative Professional Collections
This idea came about during our closure and as a result of a discussion with my Tech Director. We needed to pivot on a project of sharing resource guides with our staff and he suggested Wakelet and as soon as he said it, YES!!!!!!! 

These are meant specifically for our staff, so I kept them "unlisted" so only our people can see them. I shared them with the other tech staff so they can also contribute to them and each building has a collection of documents specific to them. I then took each buildings' collection and made a district collection & this is what was shared. Voilá!

Sorry for no preview ... but that's another benefit of Wakelet's ... you don't HAVE to share with everyone 😃.

Bottom line ....
If you've not given Wakelet a try, I highly suggest you do! It's worth your time! Also ... did I mention you can follow people on Wakelet? Yep! You can follow me & receive notifications of when I create new collections. 

You can check out my profile here ➡️

And on a final note ... you can share collections with students!!!! Yep! Check out more info at Wakelet for Students.

Have questions? Want to contact me? 

Tweet at me! @kiefersj
Do you have a comment? Comment below ⤵️

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Google Slides & Forms You Can Do

My journey continues this week with Google Slides & Google Forms.

Google Slides is a presentation tool & Google Forms is a survey tool. But as with Sheets & Docs, don't limit them to their "face value" ... if you do, you will miss out on SOOOO much! 

Slides is probably my "go to" Google app for, well, pretty much ANYthing & EVERYthing I do. Slides allows for SUCH a wide variety of uses - presentations, for sure; but also, interactive activities, eBooks, photo albums, entire lesson plans, writing activities, research, and so much more! Be sure to check out the resources I share. If you are a teacher, you really need to check out and use Slides ... it won't disappoint!

Forms was honestly where I really fell in love with Google. It didn't look like much, but I never looked back once I created my 1st Form - and all I did was use it as a glorified scantron! Forms may not look like much but IT. IS. POWERFUL! Surveys, assessments, interactive activities, choose your own adventures, data collection, curation tool, and so much more! I literally had to walk away from my computer & give myself a pep talk, "You 'could' continue giving examples of ways to use Forms, but you have 10 already!"

And the best part ........... we aren't done. That's right! We are only half-way through this summer webinar series & you can still join in! 

I've got several things coming up this week:
  • Monday, July 6 (1-3 pm EST): Google Drive You Can Do
  • Tuesday, July 7 (9 pm): I will be participating in a Twitter chat about the book "Innovate Inside the Box" by George Couros & Katie Novak.
  • Thursday, July 9 (1 pm EST): I will also be presenting for GEG Louisiana, "Working Together to Support Our Students"
  • Friday, July 10 (6 pm): EdChange Global Conference: I'll present "Build an App for Your Classroom"
  • Saturday, July 11 (8 am): EdChange Global Conference: I'll present "Start Google Classroom on the Right Foot"
And during the rest of July ... Classroom, Chrome, and as many other Google Apps as I can cram into the 2 hours! I have links to the registration for all of these on "My Presentations" calendar page linked above. Everything is FREE & I'd love to see you at any or all of them!

Now, on to my shares for this week ... below you will find the YouTube videos & the resources I use in each presentation.

Google Slides

Video →

Google Forms

Video →

I hope you enjoy these! Please reach out if you have questions or if you'd like some additional help. I've been loving connecting with some of the viewers on Twitter and through email. Together, we are better.

You can comment below ... or Tweet at me @kiefersj ... or even email me at .

Also, be sure to check out Desiree's many other helpful videos & tips on he YouTube Channel → Educator Alexander

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Google Sheets & Docs You Can Do

I am on an epic learning adventure this summer! To make a long story short, I did a short appearance on the GEG Ohio meeting in April and now I've got quite a few virtual sessions lined up. I'm super excited! To check out what I will be presenting & the registration information, please check out the "My Presentations" page.

The first BIG learning adventure I am embarking on is what I want to share today. Together with my #NYC19 Google Innovator coach, Dr. Desiree Alexander, I will be doing an intro class for the Google Apps. Two have already happened, and if you weren't able to tune in, no worries! Desiree shares them on her YouTube Channel. I wanted to also share them here, too, along with the resources.

I do my best to make any presentation I do worthwhile, so I format it to make it a "play along". The first session was about Google Sheets and the second session was on Google Docs. Google Slides is coming up on Tuesday and Forms on Thursday. 

There's still time to join in! Check out the registration doc here, Tech You Can Do: An Intro to Google Apps. And if you can't make the day/time, I highly recommend you register anyway ... Desiree will send the recording out afterwards. 

Google Sheets You Can Do
Google Sheets can be intimidating, but they don't have to be. I even formatted my presentation IN a Google Sheet so you can see that it is far more than a spreadsheet. (It IS a pretty amazing spreadsheet, too.)

I have 2 versions of the resource:

1. This link is what it looked like prior to the recording. (If you want to "play along", make a copy of this one so you can do it authentically on your own.)

2. This link is the after version with all the changes made during the presentation. (Feel free to view/make a copy of what mine looked like afterwards.)

Here is the video:

Google Docs You Can Do
Google Docs is probably the first & easiest of the Google Apps to get going with. It is a word processor, but like ALL of the Google Apps, don't limit them to "only" being their basic format. Docs is much MORE than word processor, as we will see when we dig in.

Here is a link to Google Docs You Can Do. I shared two pretty powerful tools with Docs: one is voice typing. This is awesome for your students with specific learning needs, but ALSO for everyone - yourself included! Another powerful tools is "version history". PLEASE put this in your "teacher bag of tricks" and use it ... not just with your rascals, but also to help all when things gets deleted. It can be a huge help.

Here is the video:

I hope these two encourage you to look at Sheets & Docs in a different light. They are both incredible tools for you and your students. Do you need additional help? Do you have other questions? Feel free to reach out in the comments below ... or email me: ... or reach out on Twitter - @kiefersj.

I hope to connect with you soon!