Monday, June 24, 2019

Curation Activities You Can Do

Last week, I shared "Digital Curation Tools You Can Do" with 3 digital tools you can use to curate the various articles, ideas, activities, books, etc that you come across. If one of these works well for you, awesome! 

This week I want to share a different idea about curation. YOU don't have to do it all. 

"Why not have STUDENTS help with the curation of sources?"

Today, I'm sharing 3 different ways you could have students curate WITH you below, but let's talk about WHY you should have students curate sources.

We all want our students to be using good and credible sources, right? So quite often, we provide the sources FOR our students. But we are missing out on a big opportunity when we do this. At some point, students will be researching on their own. They will be sifting through vast amount of information that is at their fingertips. Have you ever seen students research? They go for the first few links - not the best ones - and call it a day.

That's why I think this is such a good activity. The skill of finding good, credible sources is a tough one. It's tough for many adults! I've heard many teachers comment on how their students don't find good sources and ask how we help them get better.

Think about this the next time you ask your students to do research. What if you collaborated with them on this task? What if this was step one in the research/project/activity? Hear me out ...

This can be beneficial on a couple of levels for you and your students. First, even if you ask each student in your class to find a single source, you could end up with 20+ sources of information on your topic. How great is that? Students finding the sources and then having a bank to refer to? Hot dog! Can you imagine what your bank of sources would look like if you have each student find 2 ... or more? And how about then having students use that bank of sources to DO the project or activity? How awesome!

Before curating, start out with reminders as to what makes sources good and then challenge students to go find ONE. Now, that might sound super easy, but I'm not suggesting JUST finding a source. The student must provide a short summary of the info AND ... here's my favorite ... explain why they chose this source. Explain what makes it "good"? I also think you should layer in a little fun and suggest that if more than 1 person submits the same source, the one with the best explanation gets credit and the other(s) have to find a new source! Now we get into providing the best explanation ... kicking it up a notch!

The second, and possibly more important piece to this activity, is for you to then have discussions about the sources they have collected. Once you have your initial bank of sources, take some time to pull up a few of them and talk through them as a class. Have the student who found the source explain their thinking and allow other students to ask questions. Now we are dipping into presenting skills. Yay!! 

After the first few, you might want to challenge your students to pair up and have these discussions with a partner and provide the opportunity to change their source. We all can pick out bummers, so putting into practice immediately can help students solidify their knowledge. They are curating and evaluating sources as the same time. And yes, they HAVE to explain why they think it's credible. 

Having conversations about the credibility WITH the students allows them to share their thinking ... and allows YOU to clear up misconceptions or help them reframe their thinking. And might I add ... they are seeing the CONTENT over and over with each source you cover? It's like a double-gift. And ultimately, you and your students have a solid bank of sources to work with.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, I have 3 different ways you can collect the information to ensure your students have a place to start. They only require a Google account and you can customize what you are looking for. I've created 3 different curation collections using Google Sheets, Forms, and Slides. They all have the same format, and to give a clearer idea, I used the idea of finding sources for an American Revolution unit. You can adjust colors to fit your theme. Feel free to make your own copy and use it. They will all open up in Template mode, so click on the blue "Use Template" button in the top right corner and it's all yours. I will also house these on my Templates for Teachers website.

Google Form  A Google Form is another simple and easy way to collect sources, this time with less concern over information getting lost or changed. Allowing students to enter information using the Form, and then sharing the resulting Sheet can be shared with just viewing privileges. Don't worry, you and your students can still click each link so it can still be shared as a bank of sources. It would be an excellent starting point for doing a class collaboration on curation. Forms keep the information organized and allow you to give very clear instructions. You are welcome to click the link below - it will make your own copy and from there you can modify it or use it as inspiration.

COPY Form for "American Revolution Curation"   (Sorry ... the template URL trick doesn't work for Forms)

Google Sheet ↭ A Google Sheet is a simple and easy way to collect sources, or anything else, really. Give each column a name and a purpose and let the information be gathered. The sheet I created has 5 columns: one for the student's name, one for the name of the person/event/fact, one for the URL, one for the summary, and one for the reasoning behind the selection of the source. The beauty of a Sheet is with the top row "frozen", you can alphabetize by any column you'd like. If you ask students to find 3 sources, alphabetizing column A will allow you see quickly how many each student has submitted. I also find the ability to have multiple tabs along the bottom keep information separated yet all in the same spot. You are welcome to take and modify this Sheet to make it work for you and your students

Google Slide ↭ A Google Slide is DEFINITELY not for your first go-round with classroom curation. I created a Slide deck in the same theme as the Form and the Sheet. There is a slide for a Person, Event, and Fact. Each student would need to make a copy of each. You will end up with quite an extensive Slide deck! I did color code the Slides to make it slightly easier. Like the Sheet, sharing editing privileges opens up the ability for accidents to happen. Another way to go about doing this, is to give each student a copy of their own to work on, and then share the Slide decks with viewing abilities. I really love Slides and can see this working ... but please know that this is probably the toughest one. You and your students need to be very cautious about using it. As with the Form and the Sheet, you are welcome to use this Slide deck or take it and customize it for your use. 

I do hope these are helpful activities for you and your students. I believe these can be incredibly powerful ways to help your students become better researchers!

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

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Digital Curation Tools You Can Do

Do you ever feel like you have information overload? 

I do. A lot. I see so much I want to read or try or create or soak in or share out. I feel like I am constantly reading and looking. My husband often asks, "How do you have so much going on in your brain?" 😊 But I don't feel like this is a bad thing ... not at all.

What I struggle with is keeping all the good things I see organized in a way that will make sense to me now AND later. Call me crazy, but I've not found "the perfect" system. I hear people swear by this tool or that tool, and I feel a little jealous! I wish I had "the perfect" system. I've tried out others' systems, but it doesn't work for me - not in the "perfect" sense. I like a lot of things about a lot of tools, so until I find "IT", I will continue to use a variety of tools to curate what I come across & want to keep.

Why curate? I couldn't possibly do everything right now ... I need to prioritize, and I support a variety of teachers with a variety of needs. I curate a wide variety of tools, activities, people, books, blogs, resources, conferences, and more. I do this all year long and summer is a great time to take a good look at what you've got and sift through. In fact, it's on my to do list ... to better organize - for both personal and professional items. 

If you are interested in digital curation tools, I've got a few to share, but there are dozens out there. These are ones I've spent some time working with and feel like I can comment on.

Pinterest ↭ hands down, my oldest curation tool. I got hooked on Pinterest when I was pregnant with my middle daughter. I could sit and snuggle her and scroll through Pinterest in small chunks or long periods when I could just rock with her. I love being able to create boards for groups of ideas. And the secret boards are perfect for projects you don't want everyone else to know about! Many dinner recipes were found this way. I don't use it a great deal anymore - I'm not a fan of the many links where you are linked out to a place you also have to have an account or you have to pay to use. I do curate my blog posts there under a board I call "Tech You Can Do" (LINK HERE). Pinterest has both an app for mobile devices as well as a Chrome extension that I use.

Pearltrees  another social bookmarking tool. While I've used it some, I've not dug in deep. I love the visual aspect of Pearltrees. I love that I can add more than websites to it. I've used Pearltrees only for a year or so and I think it provides a nice view of curated "things". Right now, I have 3 groups of "pearls" where I've curated Twitters I follow, various learning opportunities I want to share out, and professional learning with podcasts and people that I admire. I have embedded them on my website and from the stats, this page gets a fair amount of views. (LINK HERE) Pearltrees has a Chrome extension that I'd highly recommend if want to use it. It also has a mobile app that is easy to use.

Wakelet  is similar to both Pinterest and Pearltrees. It is also a digital bookmarking tool. This is a newer tool with a familiar feel. I have tried to get into using it, but being honest, I've not. I do know several people who really like Wakelet, and it's a top tool in the edtech world. You can make collections and these collections can be shared. Wakelet is intended for those 13 years and older. But collections can be shared with younger students.

If you are interested in learning more, check these links out:

Authors - Sean, Karly, Dr. Randall Sampson, Jen Saarinen, Scott Titmas, Claudio Zavala Jr., Paul West, John Bimmerle
*** UPDATE!!! *** Thanks to Andy, my Tech Director, for sharing this tip ... teachers can share Wakelet collections with students in their Google Classrooms. How awesome!!! Kim Mattina shared this "how to" VIDEO. (Thanks, Kim!)

Email ↭ I know this is probably on everyone's "Do Not Do" list, but I've found it to be a great tool for curation. I often email myself a link with a short note attached so I know who I was wanting to share with or a note to remind myself later what I was thinking. If it's school related, I email it to my school account; if it's for me personally, I will email it to my personal email account. This has worked REALLY well! Part of the reason it works, is the little badge reminds me I have something waiting for me. And I check my email several times a day. It is definitely going to be a tool I continue to use. (Hey, sometimes you just have to be a rebel, right?)

This is a very small collection, so if I don't list one here & you have an awesome one, please reach out! Maybe you will have the one I've been searching for.  Next week, I'll be back with a different take on curating and curation tools.

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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Summer Learning: Midwest Leadership Summit reflection

Last week, I shared several suggestions for educators to do some summer learning. I am excited to share the first summer learning activity I've done this summer. I was fortunate enough to attend the Midwest Leadership Summit this past week. And it was amazing!!! 

100% a dream come true!

Today I'm going to focus on Day 1 with George Couros. But let me back up a bit ... I bought the book "The Innovator's Mindset" about 2 years ago after reading good reviews. The summary of the book really appealed to me. . . . And then it sat on my shelf, unread. Our curriculum director, Becky Tompkins, pulled it out in a meeting and asked if we'd be interested in a book study. I agreed, thinking now I'd have some accountability in reading it.

Reading doesn't describe what I did with this book! Post-it notes, highlighting, scribbling notes in the margins, texting excited aha's! and "I love this!" messages back and forth is a more accurate description. Nothing in this book is earth shattering. It all simply reaffirms everything I know to be good teaching and learning. The book gave me the opportunity to pump my fist in the air and say, "Yes! THIS is what we need to get back to. THIS is good."

Our team loved it so much, we hosted a district wide professional book study. We gamified it - giving me the opportunity to put into action some much desired attempts at gamification. We incorporated several tech tools to demonstrate classroom application with our teachers. We hoped at least 10 would sign up and we had over 70! Using our LMS, the digital conversations across buildings brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Teachers bravely shared ideas inspired by the book. What an impact it had ... the conversations it sparked ... the relationships it helped me build and strengthen ... the excitement it inspired. Incredible! It was an amazing success!

I then facilitated round #2, as a joint venture between my district and BCESC. Another successful adventure where more teachers from my district and teachers in surrounding districts were able to share in the same wonderful discussion and idea sharing. I followed that with round #3 with even more teachers.

Now ... back to THIS summer. 
When I was invited, I locked in the date on my calendar - no way would I miss this. A great group from my district was attending and I was excited. I arrived early and we snagged the closest tables to the podium. George was finishing setting up, so Becky, my curriculum director, and I jumped on the opportunity to get our books signed and snag a selfie with him. When others from our group arrived, I shared my excitement. Our tech director even teased me about all the post-it notes hanging out of my book. I told him it demonstrated the thinking I was having while reading the book and what better honor could I give George but to show him that thinking he inspired?

We settled in and George began. To demonstrate the power of being a connected educator, George gave me a shout out --- whaaaaaatt????? That blew me away! He covered many of the quotes I've included below and I spent the day listening and reflecting and talking with a room full of people who share the same ideas and goals. Below are just a few of the quotes that had an impact on me while reading. If you've not read this book, maybe these quotes and my reflection on them might encourage you to pick it up. You won't regret it. And if you need someone to chat about it with, please don't hesitate to contact me ( or on Twitter @kiefersj). 

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

"Once you stop learning, you start dying."
~ Albert Einstein

The book starts out with this quote. WOW! It drew me in immediately and I think about this quote often. I always think back to college when my dad teased me that I was going to be a perpetual student. (I may have been changing my major for the 3 time ... 🀣) Now I think back and say, "How did he know???" YES! I would absolutely consider myself a perpetual student. What a compliment! I can honestly say I learn something every day. Maybe it's something I planned to learn, other times it's things I need to learn to do my job, and still other times, it's something I didn't expect to learn.

"If you don't believe in your idea, why would anyone else?"
~ #InnovatorsMindset

This one really speaks to me on a personal level. I had been toying with the idea of blogging for a while. I made excuses. I found other things to do. I reasoned with myself that no one would read it ... after all, I wasn't a writer. Reading this quote really hit home. If I didn't believe in it, of course no one else would! So I decided to take the leap, and with continued support from my husband, I published my 1st entry on November 18, 2017. I set the goal to write once per week, and for the most part, I've been successful . . . And I've had a lot of positive feedback. (Thank you, George! I might not have started sharing out if not for this.)

"... innovation is not about changing everything, sometimes you only need 
to change one thing."
~ George Couros

This quote has meant a lot, not just to me, but for many of the teachers I work with. This allows us to be human. This encourages us to make change possible. All of us can identify ONE thing to adjust/change/modify/overhaul and follow through to make it happen. ONE thing. Take one step. The enemy to this thinking, most often, is ourselves. When I'd talk with teachers about what they wanted to try/do/add/modify, we'd talk about this quote. I reassure them they didn't need an overhaul. They should only look at ONE thing to change. I firmly believe, once that "ONE thing" happens, another one thing will happen, and then another, and so on.

"... innovate inside the box."
~ George Couros

This final quote is one I talk about most often. Changing one thing allows us the grace to start. Innovating inside the box brings together the real world with the dream world, in a very realistic way. The way I explain this quote is to take all of the challenges we face and STILL DO SOMETHING to make learning work for our learners. We DO have limits with finances, personnel, state & curricular mandates, as well as time, and many more limits. All of these are limited. And 99% of the time, we can't do anything about these ... we have to exist within these. Wishing and hoping they change won't help. However, we don't have to allow them to be "game-over". We can exist within these and make wonderful things happen for our learners. That's where the challenge is - that's where the true beauty and joy will be found. 

Let's work together to flourish within the boundaries around us. Truthfully, isn't that what we want our students to do, too?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Summer 2019 Learning You Can Do

Hello, summer vacation!!! Take a deep breath ... slow down ... enjoy coffee on the porch ... take a nap ... sleep in/stay up late NOT grading or planning! ... use the bathroom whenever you want ... shall I continue? 

Most teachers enjoy a slower pace on their summer breaks. I also know many teachers use - at least part of - their summer break to do some professional learning. I'm one of them. 

I often hear how kids are sponges ... I feel like I am, too! I honestly love learning. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't learn something. It's usually not earth-shattering. (I think that would get old real quick!) 

Last year I posted a few ideas ["Summer 2018 Learning You Can Do"] and I feel like this is such a good topic, I want to expand a bit more this year. I've found many non-traditional methods of learning that I've come to not only love, but depend on.

πŸ”Š Podcasts

If you've followed me for awhile, you know I πŸ’– podcasts! I am a faithful follower of several. I listen on my drive to & from work several times a week. I listen while my daughters have soccer practice. I listen when I go for walks. I listen when I fold laundry or make breakfast. I focus mostly on edtech podcasts, but your options really are limitless. 

Podcasts are perfect for on-the-go learners. When I'm driving, I can't read ... but I can listen. When I'm at soccer practice, wifi isn't good. And while I love music (I listen to that when I run), when I'm walking, I get lost in my thoughts, and most of the time, my thoughts lead right to edtech. Podcasts can range from a few minutes to an hour or more.

I don't just listen. More often than not, I get ideas that I share with a specific teacher based on conversations I've had with them. I use it to create something. I tweet out a connection I've made to the podcast. Basically - I share it with someone. I encourage you to do the same.

Looking for suggestions? I've highlighted several podcasts over the past year. The label is #PodPeeks, or click HERE. ALL very good! If you want quick suggestions check out the shelf below.

πŸ“š Reading

I also πŸ’— to read. Ever since I was a child, I have loved to read. I subscribe to several blogs - love how they arrive TO me. I click on links others tweet out. I have joined several Facebook groups and read things shared within these communities. I do very much the same thing when I find good stuff by reading ... I'll email it, or tweet it, or text it to the person/people I think would benefit from it.

There are also many phenomenal books focused on education, whether philosophy, pedagogy, or specific content. Often, the authors or various groups will run book studies. Better yet, gather a few of your teacher friends, agree on a book, then set a date to meet and talk about the book. (Tip: often you can find discussion questions online, or just have each reader bring a question or two to discuss.) Share. Talk about it.

Looking for suggestions? I have a list at the VERY bottom of my site of good ones (scroll until you can't scroll anymore). Looking for a few quick suggestions right now? Check out the "shelf" below. All GREAT reads!

πŸŽ’ Continuing Education

There are loads of classes - online & in person - you can take. It might help to contact your Curriculum Director. Many times they are able to guide you to good ones. Are you looking to advance your degree? You'll want to ensure you also get PD credit, too, so be sure to check with your LPDC before investing any money. There are many online options to check into, so choose wisely.

Interested in working to become a Google Certified Educator Level 1? I am facilitating an online course this summer through BCESC - Butler County Educational Services Center - on becoming a Google Certified Educator Level 1. I'd love for you to join us. It's set up to be done in your own time ... as your summer allows. I've included due dates, but only to guide you to complete before August 1. Interested? Click the LINK to register. If you use GSuite in your classroom, this is a perfect way to earn continuing education credit.

πŸ‘₯ Workshops/Conferences

Summertime can also be a great time to attend a conference or workshop! During the school year, getting a sub and writing sub plans can often be very difficult. Summertime can allow you to attend without these. Are you looking for workshops/conferences in your area? Most conferences will be posting information on social media & have hashtags you can follow, even if you don't attend.

Here are a few to get you started:

* Edsurge US K-12 Education Technology Conferences 2019  [website for additional info]
"The EdSurge K-12 Education Technology Conferences calendar PDF lists the dates and locations of more than 60 K-12 edtech conferences and events in the United States for 2019, big and small, that should be on your radar." Several of the ones below are included.

* Teach with Tech Conference online conference (July 22-24) [website for more info]
Completely free (option to purchase a "ticket" in order to have access to replays for 1 year) online conference with some big edtech names! 60+ VIDEO SESSIONS from 60 SPEAKERS. I've got my ticket ... and I'm looking forward to tuning in!

* [website for more info] is an online portal for access to loads of online webinars to watch. There is plenty of variety - you'll be sure to find something of value to you.

* Eric Curts webinars [website for webinars] 
Eric has posted over 15 Google-focused webinars available for you to watch. Take a short quiz afterwards and earn a certificate for it. Free!

* ISTE Conference in Philadelphia,PA (June 23-26) [website for more info]
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference is probably the biggest edtech conference there is. I've never attended but I have heard some pretty amazing things about this. I'd be willing to put money down that you will find something that will work for you.

* High AIMS in Fairfield, OH (Aug 1 & 2) [website for more info]
High AIMS is an organization committed to supporting school districts in SW Ohio. Each summer, a conference is held to allow educators “creating a network of leaders who inspire students and one another to be engaged, high performing learners.” If you are in the area, there is still time! Register HERE

***Bonus - I'll co-presenting a few sessions! I'd love to see you there!

* SPARCC at Stark State College in North Canton, OH (Aug 9) [website for more info]
For the 15th year, SPARCC is hosting an educational technology conference. Registration is FREE, but you must register. 

***Bonus - I'll be heading up to co-present with my colleague, Beth Kingsley. 

Shall I continue? 😊 There is no end to the learning you can do this summer! Books, podcats, in-person, virtual, and more. You have so many options.

Don't make excuses, make it happen!

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

Monday, May 27, 2019

Celebration You Can Do

I'll keep it short ... it's a holiday after all! 

Maybe this week you are wrapping up your school year -- finish strong! 
Maybe you are enjoying your first week out of school like me -- yea! 
Or maybe you still have some time to go -- you got this! 

I'll be back next week with some summer learning opportunities & ideas.

. . . . In the mean time, enjoy your holiday!

P.S. If you are curious, Memorial Day is an American holiday where we honor all the men and women who have died while serving our country in the military. It's always on the final Monday in May. Interested in a short video (less than 4 minutes)? Check out this one's ↬ .

Monday, May 20, 2019

Reflection ... and a Look Ahead ... You Can Do

I had an unexpected conversation last week that led to some great thinking and sharing. In order to explain, I'll need my "soapbox" ... in honor of Jake Miller of the Educational Duct Tape podcast.

I was returning a repaired Chromebook to a 4th grade classroom at the end of the day and I ended up chatting with the teacher for a bit. I had just spent time with two of her classes. We had been cleaning up their Google Drives in preparation for them to move to our middle school this fall. (This is a great opportunity to teach them some digital organization: the 2 views of Drive, how to keep/remove "Quick Access", make folders, delete/move items, etc ... but that's a topic for another blog.)

I asked the teacher if there was anything else she would like to cover or anything she wished we could do. She mentioned her wish that students couldn't change their backgrounds. I paused for a minute before responding. [This isn't the first time I've encountered this wish.] And I simply asked, "Why?"

She proceeded to tell me how students spend a lot of time changing the backgrounds and some aren't super appropriate. She also feels it's just a time sucker. I agreed - because it can be a time sucker - and having knowledge of the Google Admin Console, I know full well we can restrict this. I met her eye and told her this was in fact possible. She looked slightly surprised, so I quickly continued. 

Ahem .... enter ..... my soapbox ......

We live in a digital world and in our district, we are 1:1 with Chromebooks from 1st through 12th grade. (We even have a mix of iPads and Chromebooks in our kindergarten classrooms.) We provide them with digital accounts and access to various programs to enhance their learning. We want, no - we expect our students to use them. We want them to create using them. We also expect the students take care of the devices. And we know full well, that long after they stop coming in our doors, they will be employed in a job that can almost be guaranteed to use a device of some kind. 

So this leads me to the following ...

Should we restrict everything? 

If not, how much do we restrict?

Is this in their best interest? Or ours?

Is this a good philosophy to utilize? 

Do we do this to maximize learning time and minimize distractions?

OR . . . do we use this as another teaching and learning opportunity? 

We would never expect a 1st grader to read and understand a book written by Shakespeare or solve complex physics problems. In that same thinking, we can't expect them to understand how to do (or not do) things on a device until we scaffold and teach them and provide time and opportunity to practice.

I proposed to her the following idea ... We want them to want to take care of their Chromebook. So, what if, next year, they allowed students to change their backgrounds? [Imagine her surprise! ... but let me continue ...] I reminded her students spend a LOT of time on their Chromebooks and we want them to feel some type of ownership over them. I suggested she decide a time frame she (ideally, along with her team) is good with, and set aside time to allow students to change their background during that time. It doesn't have to be long, 5 min per month is plenty! I offered to be available to help with this. 

And when the time comes, remind them THIS is the time to change backgrounds. Therefore, if they change backgrounds at other times, it's not ok and they can handle that the same as when students don't follow other rules.

I also told her she has every right to deem backgrounds appropriate and inappropriate. In fact, this is a conversation I hope they have them their students. Often! I went on to challenge her to stop and think about it. I said I was willing to bet the vast majority of  the backgrounds ARE school appropriate. (She agreed.) And just like anything else, if a student has an inappropriate background, she can instruct them to change it and if they change it to an inappropriate one again, treat it like any other discipline infraction. (I even suggested that if a student violates this too much, change their background to a very generic one and then if they are caught with anything else, additional discipline will be incurred.)

The final thought I shared was this. If she has these conversations now this hopefully can translate into a long-lasting positive impact on them as they grow up. I said the likelihood of her 4th graders choosing something SUPER inappropriate was small, and she can use this as a teachable moment. We can't talk to our students enough about what is and is not appropriate in this digital age.

Now, as I step down off my soap box, I hope I have shared a little nugget for you to ponder. Will YOU be the teacher who dares to talk with your students about appropriate and inappropriate digital actions? Will YOU be the teacher who allows students to make small mistakes and learn from them before they are huge mistakes with REAL and strong consequences? Will YOU be the teacher who decides one conversation isn't enough?

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

Monday, May 13, 2019

A School App You Can Do

A few months ago, I wrote about creating an "app" using Google Slides, "Your Very Own App You Can Do". I focused on using it for our traveling purposes and even shared a template for one. There are many good ideas packed into that article.

I'm back with one geared specifically for a teacher to use as communication in and for the classroom. Newsletters are good, emails are better, digital platforms allowing direct communication even better, but to have something that will allow a constant stream of communication is ideal. As much as I love using Google Slides to create this method of communication, I firmly believe only YOU will know if it is best for your students, their parents, and your situation.

There are so many pieces to communicate as a teacher. But, as a teacher - one who uses these pieces every day multiple times a day - it doesn't feel like a big deal to navigate between all of them. As a parent, it's overwhelming and even aggravating! (Especially if you have children at different schools who use different platforms.)

Imagine this ... different pieces of your classroom brought into ONE location?!?!

It can be done!!! Using a Google Slide, you can organize, provide information, even link outside programs in a manageable way that makes it really easy for parents to navigate and use. And because it's a Google Slide, you can view it from the web, mobile, or tablets. You can also edit it from the web, mobile, or tablets.

I've created a template that you are welcome to make a copy of and hit the ground running! I've included instructions and tips for each slide, as well as the beginnings of ideas and placements. The beautiful thing about a Google Slide as an app, everything ... literally, everything, is customizable! The proportions, for example - I believe a useful app would be used mostly on a mobile device. You can change the setup of a Slide by going into "File", scroll down to "Page Setup" and then select "Custom". I maximized to proportions of the templates I created by customizing to 8.5 x 11 inches. However, if you believe most of your viewers will use your app on a computer, you may want to size it to maximize your dimensions to best fit a computer screen.

Check out "Your Very Own School App You Can Do" template. You can view it on your computer as a Google Slide. You can also click the blue "Use Template" in the top right corner and have a copy that is yours to adjust and manipulate to suit you.

If you click on this "Your Very Own School App You Can Do" link, you can view it on your phone like an app. When you open the link, it will open in your web browser, and then find the share button and then select the 'Add to Home Screen'. It will add it as an "app" icon to your mobile screen. This is a perfect option for parents, or students who use tablets. If

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Authentic Writing You Can Do ... with your Students!

I've shared several times that as a Technology Integration Specialist, I do not have my own classroom of students. Nor do I have any kind of regular teaching schedule. This allows me to work any teacher and any group of students! My goal is that I anything/everything I do supports classroom instruction and I love when teachers come to me and ask me to work with students. Sometimes, what we set out to do morphs into something else ... and it's always a good thing!

At the beginning of March, Mrs. Laura Counts approached me to help a group of her students. These 5 students had read several books by Sandra Markle (@Sandra_Markle) and had decided they wanted to write their own book, in her style. Laura asked if I would help. Wow! They wanted to do the research, the writing, AND the designing of the book! 

The overall task was this: the students were inspired after reading a non-fiction book to write their own book. As a group, they decided to research bird feet and each selected a bird. They would use their research to write in the style of Sandra Markle. Meanwhile, I would work with them to take their writings and make it into a book.

We set to work. I met with the students a couple times a week to work on the actual book design and on the other days, they would do their research. I had such fun talking through the design process ... we had a LOT of decisions to make! Which tool do we use? Book Creator? Google Slides? Something else? We settled on Slides. Then we poured over every detail ... the dimensions of the book (we literally pulled out a ruler to measure!); making the wooden sign; which font(s) to use - this was a BIG conversation ... do we all use the same? does each author use a different one?; whose page goes first? last? order?; gathering the credits for the images we used; and many more! I have to hand it to these 5 kiddos. They did an AMAZING job! They put forth their very best. It really shows!

A very interesting conversation we had very early on was whether or not Ms. Markle would

Sunday, April 21, 2019

#PodPeeks: Educational Duct Tape

I've not featured a podcast in awhile and do I have a good one for you today!!! I love listening to podcasts especially learning while I'm driving. Now that spring soccer season has begun, I have hour and half long practices twice a week. Perfect opportunity to listen to even more!

A new-er addition to my podcast rotation is Educational Duct Tape by Jake Miller (@JakeMillerTech). You may know him for his #EduGIF's (I'm in the hard-G club). I've been following him for quite awhile. I also find it super cool that he is also from Ohio! He's relatively new to podcasting, with just 16 podcasts published to date, but once he joins your rotation, you won't want to miss future ones. The combination of his soapbox moments, his humor, his all-start line up of guests, and just his way of sharing is incredibly relatable and fun. 

Obviously, I'd recommend all of the episodes, but I know how precious time is, so, if you are only going to go check out ONE, I recommend Episode 10 with Matt Miller. I'll be honest - I was super impressed to hear who his guest was, but what really took me by storm was Jake's "soapbox" moment on this episode. Jake takes a few minutes at the beginning of each episode to highlight/share something that has been impactful to him in some way. This episode, he shared about "adjacent possible theory" by Stuart Kauffman, and I was BLOWN away! Yes, yes, yes a million times! I immediately shared it with my curriculum director and she was just as taken with it. I love when I share something that speaks to me and know it makes a difference to others.

Ross meeting
The adjacent possible theory Jake shared completely altered our small group meeting later in the week ... to the point, I found out later, that the meeting was completely altered and  the adjacent possible theory became the focus. Becky - our curriculum director - "blamed" me. (I'll own that!) She played Jake's soapbox moment during our meeting and I kid you not, it seemed to impact everyone. I snapped this picture of our meeting and Tweeted it out so Jake would also know how much of an impact he made on us.