Sunday, August 25, 2019

Classroom Header Template You Can Do with activity idea

If you are a GSuite school, you should have access to Google Classroom. Classroom is an incredible platform for teachers to manage the "ebb & flow" of a digital classroom. It is clean, simple, and easy. 

The top of each Classroom has a graphic, automatically assigned upon creation. This header is a great way to help both you and your students visually associate this Classroom with their time in your room.

You are always welcome to leave it as is, but you may choose to create your own header. This can be an exciting way to share your creativity and better indicate the content you cover. [Likewise, if you are using Classroom for a club or activity other than an academic content, you can customize it to fit your group perfectly.]

Many teachers will go ahead and create their header at the beginning of the year and leave it. 

But ... here's something to think about ... 

Why not let your students create the header?

Use this to start the year and work together to create a header the students have input on and create a header they own. During this activity, you can informally assess your students on various levels. You'll see their tech skills, encourage creativity and collaboration, begin building your classroom community, and see how your students interact with each other. Providing guidelines versus allowing a free-form creation can serve different purposes, too. If you will be creating multiple classes, guidelines can provide a bit of that structure to create graphics that clearly separate one class from another. Giving students free reign over the graphic allows creativity flow freely.

And the best part? . . . . . this doesn't have to be a "one and done" activity! What if you repeated this each quarter or semester or unit? What if your students saw their work each time they logged into Classroom. Imagine the pride your students will feel when they see their work! And better yet, surprise them when the unit or quarter rolls over!

You might be saying at this point, ok, ok, all fine and good, but HOW do I do this? It's pretty simple. I created a template you are welcome to use. Keep in mind, the header in Classroom IS responsive. This means that the header will automatically resize based on the device it is being displayed on and some of your design might not display fully. Don't get super involved in having too many things on your header - another reason why this is a great activity for even the littlest of students.

Here is the TEMPLATE for you, along with some tips and specific information on the "how to". When you click the link, it will show a blank white rectangle ... don't worry! Clicking the "Use Template" in the upper right corner will make you your own copy and allow you to see the tips and instructions I've included.

If you'd like to have your students create a header, now that you have your own copy, share it to your Classroom using the "make a copy for each student" option (or groups of students), and let them go to town! As with all my templates, feel free to adjust any of the info I've included on the Drawing - just don't adjust the size of the Drawing. This will give you the best base to start with.

Good luck! If you have your students create headers, please let me know! I'd love to see them! You can tag me on Twitter (@kiefersj), comment below, or even email me . I enjoy seeing what students create! 

Looking for additional info about Google Classroom?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Guardian Emails You Can Do

With the beginning of the year, a topic that is super close to my heart is communication. I can't stress to teachers enough how important it is to have clear and consistent communication. I adopted this philosophy early in my career and it definitely paid off. And being a mom to three girls in school, this is also an important topic on the home front as a parent. I love my girls, but let's be honest, they don't always come home and detail out their day like I would like. Anyway I can gain more insight to their day is very welcome!

Are you a Google Classroom user?

Perfect! You have to try out the Guardian email feature. Beyond the initial setup, there is nothing for teachers to do. And the guardians will receive an email daily or weekly, based on their preferences.


Yes, it's that easy.

Looking for a little more help? Looking to convince others to try it out? I've got you.

I've also started collecting Google Classroom ideas/tips/tricks in a Wakelet collection. I've included a link to the official Classroom help site about Guardian summaries in it, too. 
You can check it out here ↬

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

Monday, August 12, 2019

Back to School Activities You Can Do

 It's the time of year when most schools are heading back to class! As Summer 2019 draws to a close, I'm excited to see what the 2019/2020 school year has in store. I will return to Ross in the same position - which I absolutely love! - and I'm excited to see how we grow, the new challenges we will face, the new people we will meet, and how we will work together to accomplish all that is in store for us.

As I see it, each new year presents me with the opportunity to reinvent myself, in a way. We have a whole new group of students to work with, we have new colleagues to meet, we might have new "things" in our classrooms, or we might be starting over in a completely new place. A new school year for teachers is very much like a new school year as a student. 

As we prepare to return to school, I thought I'd share a couple activities you can do with your students. AND ... they do not have to be digital!

Back-to-School Bento: I came across this tweet by @ClassroomQuips awhile back where a teacher shared about a #BookBento. I was intrigued! For starters, I had no idea what a bento was. Once I had that figured out, I fell in love with the simplicity of the photo. I knew it would make a great digital activity. When I sat down to create one, I realized I didn't want to confine you or your students based on my design. Instead, I created a Slide deck with a VERY basic example, and then a couple of slides with some teacher tips as well as how to use this beyond the first week or so of school. I also encourage you to take a look at the #BookBento hashtag on Twitter for how others are creating.

Using this for a beginning of the year activity, I'd go one of three ways:
  • All About Me Bento ↬ have the students bring in items (or do an image search) that give you info about themselves
  • Summer Vacation Bento  students can tell the story of their summer, in pictures!
  • Goals Bento  ask students to share goals they have for this school year
  • ... don't worry, I tucked in a few ideas of how you can use bentos later in the year.

Or allow your students to choose which one(s) they want to do. 

Here is a link to the example with teacher tips: Back-to-School Bento

[Pssst! You do not have to do this digitally! Allow students to draw their bento's!]

Another option ...

How about a video? A video can be a wonderful way to be introduced to your students. (I also think it can give you a baseline of information for your student. You can brainstorm as a class what they might want to include in their video. You could also incorporate writing by having them write a script for their video. 

How can this happen?
  • Have ipads? turn on the camera and move to video mode. Pair students up and make it a collaborative effort. The videos then "live" on the iPad. Your students can upload to Google Drive, or submit via Google Classroom
  • Have chromebooks? use Screencastify extension to have students record themselves. Screencastify can automatically save to Drive, so have students either share it to you or submit via Google Classroom.
  • Interested in an online method? Try out Flipgrid! The whole point to Flipgrid is to be able to share videos! Don't worry, you can protect your grids so they are not publicly accessible, an it's FREE! If you allow students to see each others videos, they can comment on them and you can incorporate discussion on appropriate commenting. 

If you have gone back -- if you are heading back this week -- or if you don't go back for a little while, just remember, the relationship you build with your students starts every day. Smile and listen. One day at a time. I'll be right there, too, next week. We can and do make a difference in the lives of our students.

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

Monday, August 5, 2019

Google Drive Organization You Can Do

Last week I shared a Slide deck focused on the icons and pieces of Google Drive. I promised to be back this week with a Slide deck focused on organization. I hope I don't disappoint!

When I work with teachers, the moment we need to open their Drive, I'm met with guilty looks and the admission of "My Drive isn't very organized! I keep meaning to get to it, but ..." I do not sit in the judgment seat. As teachers, I believe we do our best and often, we are pressed for time. When I converted to using Drive as my "digital filing cabinet", I, too, struggled. I also have tried enough strategies to know that there is no one perfect method. What I've compiled below are some very simple and basic, no-frills steps to having a better organized Drive.

The top question I get when working with teachers, is "Sarah, how do you organize your Drive? I'll just do mine like yours." WRONG!!!!! My brain works differently than yours. I house different topics than you do. I do what I do, because it works for me. You have to do what works for you. Please know, what I'm sharing today works you through a process rather than give you a formula. You will need to dig a little deep, put some thought into it, but I promise ... it pays off over and over! 

It will be investment of time in the beginning, but once you hone what works for you, you will see it will save you quite a bit of time in the long run. You'll know where the files are you are looking for, you'll spend less time re-creating what you've already created, and you will feel more confident in sharing with others. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm still not 100% perfect, so don't stress. Searching your Drive is incredibly powerful and helpful, even for the most organized. Do I hear a topic for next week? Nah ... I've got you covered already! I shared "Better Searching in Google Drive" on my companion blog "TYCD: Resources". On this blog, I try to share out a resource or tip each Tuesday with a brief overview. I'd love it if you checked it out!

And because I am not the only one sharing about Google Drive, I've created a Wakelet collection for tips/tricks/resources I come across. You can check it out:

Here you go! This week, my Slide deck is here to help you organize your Google Drive better. Feel free to use it for yourself, peers, and most definitely with students. I've based it off what I do with teachers on a regular basis. Some of this is definitely geared to ANY audience, but some is specific to teachers.  If you want to use it with students, great! You might want to make your own copy & take out what doesn't work for your students (or your specific teachers). Enjoy!

Here is a LINK if you want to make a copy & modify it for you. ***

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