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!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Google Photos for Space & Savings You Can Do

I'd hoped to have this out last week, but I've been busy trying to get a few home projects done and spending time outside with my husband and girls. I'm hoping you enjoy this - it's an easy one ... and one that will pay off long term!

Today's share is directed to you as a person, more than you as a teacher. During the school year, I focus far more on academic shares, so today is meant to help you in your life outside of school.

Have you ever received the message on your phone you are out of storage and you need to:
  • purchase more?
  • delete things?
It's quite the bummer! An alternative is purchase a new phone with additional memory ... but really?

No need! It's easier than any of these. All you need is a Google account & one specific app - Google Photos. It's free and has massive storage.

I learned this several years ago when I needed to create space on my phone, but still wanted to be able to see my photos. I learned about Google Photos ... and then I found out I could set it up to AUTOMATICALLY back up all my photos! Mind-blown! Now, I never worry about losing my photos and I can go all the way back to 2006 when I took my first digital photos and enjoy the walk down memory lane.

I've posted some Slides below to help you navigate through setting it up -it's super easy, I promise. I have an iPhone, so Android users, I apologize ... your screen might look slightly different, but I do not think it will be too far off.

As always, feel free to share & reach out if you have any questions!

*** And a side note before you jump in ... I will be doing a series of 8 FREE webinars soon where each one focuses on an introduction to a single Google app. 

I've also been asked to make a second appearance with the GEG Louisiana in July (yay!). 

To help share these, I've added the page "My Presentations" to the header row in my blog and I've embedded a calendar for quick access to these presentations & their registration links.

I'd love to "see" you there! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! ***

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions, or you'd like help with this - or any of the items I share. You can comment below, reach out on Twitter (@kiefersj), or email me (

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Starting Google Classroom You Can Do

Some of us are wrapping up the 2019-2020 school year ... some are still in school. Regardless, if you use Google Classroom, you might be thinking about how to use it "better". In my district, we just finished the year, so I used this opportunity to have conversations around what we can modify or improve in our use of Google Classroom. 

I boiled it down to 8 "big ideas". While they are specific to Google Classroom, if you use another platform, you can still use these ideas and adjust the specifics to yours. I have this set up as more of a reflection activity - 8 topics, each linked to a slide with some info, and a reflection slide following. Feel free to make your own copy (use the "Template" link) or just write out your reflections on paper. This can be helpful for you to sketch out ideas or plans or thoughts rather than digitally. I challenge you to share this with your team of teachers - those you work closest with and have them do the same. The conversations that follow might help all of you form an even better plan as to how to use Classroom.

On a related note, the closure we all just experienced has reaffirmed my belief that we cannot operate as silos. It has also led me to believe we need each other more than ever. And we can't go wrong as long as we are working to improve ourselves.

The Slides below are a modified version of Slidesmania's Challenge Board (this girl is a genius!).

I'd like my own copy, please! Use this TEMPLATE link.

I'd like to just view the entire Slide deck. No problem, use this VIEW ONLY link.

I had the honor of presenting for Dr. Desiree Alexander this past Friday. I share 3 different ways to build an app for your classroom. I loved every minute! Desiree is my #NYC19 Innovator coach from Google's Certified Innovator Academy. She puts on many FREE webinars regularly. If you are interested in learning more & attending them, please go to her website: .

I will be presenting on "6 Steps to Organize Google Drive" on June 2 at 1 pm EST (12 pm CST) for the GEG Louisiana. The leader is fellow #NYC19 Google Innovator, Wiley Brazier! You can sign up on the GEG Louisiana website.

I will be co-presenting on Sat, Sept 12, 2020, with Beth Kingsley all about our Templates for Teachers website. This will be hosted by Dr. Desiree Alexander and is FREE! You can register now and reminders will come to you when it gets closer. 

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions, or you'd like help with this - or any of the items I share. You can comment below, reach out on Twitter (@kiefersj), or email me (

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Distance Learning Tracker App You Can Do

Several weeks ago, one of my teachers came to me and we talked through an issue. Distance learning had thrown a curveball in the way parents, students, and teachers could track the work that has been done and still had yet to be done. Relying, in part, on a major piece to my Google Innovator Project, we talked through a "needs assessment". I connected her needs with an idea I had been working on for the upcoming DC trip - a personalized "To Do" list. There are 2 pieces needed to make this idea work - a Google Sheet & Glide Apps.

I took my "To Do" list and modified it somewhat to work so this teacher (and any others) can take the template sheet, connect it to Glide Apps, and have a viable app to share with parents as a way to keep them informed about student work. (I also suppose you can set it up to include a narrative column as well.) And so the "Distance Learning Assignment Tracker App" sprang to life!

I shared it out on last month's GEG Ohio meeting where I shared this out with a quickly written workflow. [You can catch it here on YouTube, April 2020 GEG Ohio Meeting. I start about an hour in to the meeting.] I wanted to polish it up and include a more friendly layout, so I've pasted it below.

I also am very excited to share I will be presenting on this (& my other apps I've built & shared for school use) THIS coming Saturday, May 30, 2020, at 12 pm EST. My Innovator coach, Dr. Desiree Alexander, hosts FREE webinars and I am honored to be one of the presenters. You can register here -> Build an App for Your Classroom <- I'd love to see you there!

I will also be presenting on "6 Steps to Organize Google Drive" on June 2 at 1 pm EST (12 pm CST) for the GEG Louisiana. The leader is fellow #NYC19 Google Innovator, Wiley Brazier! You can sign up on the GEG Louisiana website

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions, or you'd like help with this - or any of the items I share. You can comment below, reach out on Twitter (@kiefersj), or email me (

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Templates You Can Do ... like Alyssa!

I am thrilled to share this today! It's a bright spot in all of the strange and difficult times we've been through the past couple of months. To start, you might know I have a co-created website - Templates for Teachers - with Beth Kingsley. We shared it nearly two years ago and have worked to add to it. About a month ago, we shifted it over to a new site and have enjoyed it even more! I can't believe it's been a month since we shared out the new site. We've published a handful more templates as we continue to move them over & we'd love for you to check them out.

Beth's and my goal with Templates for Teachers is that we create for our classes and we share the templates on our site for anyone to take. You are welcome to use them as they are, or modify them to your own needs. Our previous site only allowed us to actually share the templates. Our new site allows us to also share ideas on how to use them with younger or older students. You can also use the filtering to help you view similar templates or types of templates.

I received an email from a good friend of mine, Alyssa, on April 29. She shared a Google Slide with me and included a note telling me she'd found a template on our site & modified it to fit her class. It's stories like this that are bright spots in the midst of these strange times. 

Here is Alyssa's story - Beth created the "Mother's Day Gazette" for her 3rd graders as a project for Mother's Day last year. (This is an amazing template and they turned out super awesome!) Alyssa was browsing our site and saw it. Alyssa is a 7th & 8th grade Social Studies teacher, mind you. When she saw the gazette, she saw it as a way for her 7th grade students to demonstrate their learning of the Renaissance with a scrapbook. 

Whaaaaaaat??? Do you see a Renaissance scrapbook from the Mother's Day Gazette? I didn't, but Alyssa did! And she is graciously allowing me to share it on our Templates for Teachers website - to quickly find it, click on the label "Alyssa Bruck" on the far right side of the site! You have to check it out - BOTH are amazing! And it's truly a dream come true for me to see a colleague (& friend!) to take one of our templates and modify it to fit her needs in such a creative way!

Alyssa has since followed up the scrapbook with THREE more Renaissance themed templates! (These are also featured on our Templates site) And then this week - just when I was struggling with focus on school work, yet ANOTHER email from Alyssa appeared. I opened it to find a Civil War Choice Board she created & is using with her students during these last weeks of remote learning. Kudos to you, Alyssa! I was blown away! Truly! And to think ... all of this happening during our time of remote learning!?!

This just goes to demonstrate we all have room to grow and we all have our struggles. But when we pull together, we can do more than we thought possible. I count myself lucky to work with both Beth & Alyssa, and I count myself lucky to be able to share it with you. 

Do you have questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! Please comment below - connect on Twitter (@kiefersj) - or email me directly (

Finally, I have a few exciting things to share:

* I was honored to be a guest on the GEG Ohio April meeting. I shared about the apps I've created with Slides & Glide Apps. You can check out the recording here (April meeting YouTube link) - be sure to fill out the fill out the form to earn PD credit!

* I am going to present a more detailed session about building apps with my #NYC19 Google Innovator Coach, Dr. Desiree Alexander, on her FREE webinar series. This will be Sat, May 30 @ 12 pm EST (11 am CST). You can find more info & the sign up link at .

* I will also be presenting "6 Steps to Organize Your Google Drive" on June 2 at 1 pm EST (12 pm CST) for the GEG Louisiana. The leader is fellow #NYC19 Google Innovator, Wiley Brazier! You can sign up on the GEG Louisiana website

Sunday, May 3, 2020

*UPDATED* Share Settings You Can Do

Just two weeks ago, I shared a blog all about the share settings in Google files. I laughed recently, when I heard about - and then saw - the new interface for the share settings! I have to say, change is constantly happening with Google. This change isn't a major one, but if you aren't aware you might be caught off-guard and struggle a little. Personally, I kind of like it! It is a bit more visually appealing - but you do need to adjust to the location of a few items.

To help with this, I created this "*UPDATED* Share Settings You Can Do":

As always, feel free to share this! If it works better for you to make a copy & modify it to best fit your situation, for for it!

Template preview link

File --> Make a Copy link

Do you have a question or comment? Please leave a comment below, reach out to me on Twitter (@kiefersj), or email me, .

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Infusion of Tech You Can Do

I planned to share this about 6 weeks ago - my heart was swelling with pride & accomplishment! Life changed suddenly and I put this on pause. Now, I want to share it because it deserves its day in the spotlight. It's sure to make you smile!

The second grade team at one of my buildings asked me to help them last year with their Wax Museum. They wanted to record their students "being" the historical person and then share the video with parents. We set up shop in a small conference room with a simple black background and the title "2nd Grade Wax Museum". I used a video recorder to make a video for each teacher and then handed it over to each teacher to share. When all was said & done, one of the teachers and I started chatting about potential "level ups" for the next year.

Fast-forward to THIS year. Our district is knee-deep in PBL's (project-based learning). This 2nd grade team chose to use the wax museum to be their PBL and they asked me to help. We talked through their requirements and structure and I came prepared with some ideas. We settled on how we wanted it to go ... and can I tell you right now how PROUD I am of the students?!?!?! (The teachers did a phenomenal job getting them ready, too, but the students were the stars!)

The whole theme to my blog is "Tech You Can Do" and each week my goal is to share something that you and your students can do. For this one, I don't have a template for you to duplicate. But what I am going to share below is their process and what the students did. It is just flat out awesome and I know you can duplicate something out of here for your own students.

May I start by pointing out to you that we are talking about 7 & 8 year olds? Yep. Second graders are 7 & 8 years old. To start, they chose a person that interested them. Then they did some guided research with their teachers - and used both online and print resources. Students took their research and turned it into a paragraph about their person, most of them using a first-person voice. This was typed on a single Google Slide. A second Google Slide was used to create a backdrop for their person using images or items that match their person. Throughout this, they also were working on costumes or props for their person.

Prior to our scheduled taping day, I turned a conference room into our "studio" with the help of our media manager, Diana. After various trouble-shooting and some quick thinking between Diana & myself, we welcomed the famous people into the studio. On recording day, each student stood in front of a large screen display - with their background on display; I was in the center, next to a table with my phone, which was our recording device, a pair of headphones with a microphone attached stretching toward the student; and a second large screen behind me, displaying their Slide with their paragraph (our "teleprompter"). We also had tape, a step stood, and various odds & ends that allowed for the "best" recording for each student. A chromebook was attached to each display to allow the teachers to bring up their Google Classroom where the 2 Google Slides were housed.

Now you, might think, whoa. What did you do with all those videos? Easy!!! Each teacher set-up a Flipgrid grid and I actually just recorded IN the app, so each students' video automatically was captured there. At the end of each recording, I adjusted the names to be that of the student & their historical person. IT. WAS. (and still is) AMAZING!!!! 

And it doesn't end there ... an unintended ability with Flipgrid is the teachers were able to share the videos with their class - allowing for commenting - but ALSO, a QR code & link directly to each student was created and easily shared. Oh how I love when a tool works out so nicely!!! It was amazing to see the kids and be part of this project. Working as a team, we recording right around 100 students! (I even re-recorded a few whose videos were taped side-ways.)

I'd like to wrap this up with a couple of main points:
  1. I've used Flipgrid maybe twice before this ... it was a huge risk on my part! Yikes! I was nervous!
  2. This was big change in the way this project worked for the teachers ... and it was AWESOME!
  3. It's never a bad idea to try something new!

We got some really positive feedback from this from the parents. My favorite is one of the teachers shared that the dad of a student is currently deployed, and his mom wrote to say thank you because she could share the video very quickly and easily. The dad could see his child and feel better connected. Tears. Then and now. 

I also want to give a shout out to Ann Kozma! I contacted her prior to the taping to ask some questions. THANK YOU! I appreciate your help!

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Share Settings You Can Do

A common conversation I have is about share settings. Recently, this has been a focus for many teachers, within my district and world-wide. To be fully honest - share settings still trip me up at times.

Today, I'd like to share a Google Slides I created to help explain the various share settings that are possible. This was created with the additional possibilities we have within a domain. Chances are, if you work in a school that utilizes Google, you have a "domain". This means you have additional possibilities for sharing over a personal Google account.

Please use this - and share this with others. I hope it provides a clearer understanding of the share settings. Students can benefit from this, too, but please remember I created this truly with an adult in mind. And now that I write this, it totally makes sense that I could make a version for students. If, no when I do, I'll be sure to share it. Do you have one you'd be willing to share? Please do!

Link to the "template view". Please click on the "Use Template" button in the top right corner.

Link to a "view only" copy. Please use the File --> Make a copy option to make your own copy.

As always, feel free to make your own copy! 

Do you have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below ... or reach out on Twitter (@kiefersj) ... or email me directly (

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Google Photos e-portfolio You Can Do

One of my favorite books of the past several years is "The Innovator's Mindset" by George Couros. It sat on my bookshelf for a good six months before reading it, but when I did ....... WOW! Very early on in his book, George shares 2 definitions of innovation on page 19 that I carry with me on a daily basis:

The Innovator's Mindset, George Couros, p.19 (2015)

I've included this as a preface to my share today. Like many of the other items I have shared, today's is a product of a conversation with a teacher I work with and is aimed at filling a need she has. Like many schools around the world, we are deep in remote learning right now. And like many schools, we are doing the best we can as we learn this new way of educating our students. Our awesome curriculum director provided clear direction as we move forward into this method of educating our students. She referred to it as the "One-third rule." 
1/3 new learning
1/3 practice
1/3 feedback

From this mindset, a first grade teacher called me and wanted to talk about how to do the feedback part. It's easy when you are AT school ... it's easy when the student is right in FRONT of you ... it's easy when you spend 6-7 hours each weekday with them ... but what about now? We talked about what she was hoping to do, what she needed to do, what she wanted to do, the tools we have, and so on. Long story ... several ideas tossed around ... and finally ... around 10 pm, I asked her to remind me what she absolutely had to have. She said an easy place for parents to share photos, two way communication, and for it to be simple. [It's important to note - our 1st grade students do not access email, nor have they heavily used Google Classroom, parents had been sharing photos of work already, AND we need to keep this SIMPLE.] 

That is when it hit me. I called on the "iteration" definition from George - why not use Google Photos to create a shared album for students (&/or their parents) to share their work with the teacher?!?! I have used Google Photos in my personal life for quite some time, and I love the sharing ability AND the commenting ability.

Next hurdle ... what about parents who don't have a Google account? Have no fear - our students all have Google accounts! Why not have the parents use the child's Google account to do this? No new accounts AND it will "live" with the child's school account for as long as necessary - even when we return to school.

It's definitely a different line of thinking ... and will take some work to set up, but I believe it's a doable option. Many adults are used to taking & sharing photos, so this borrows on that already learned skill. This also streamlines the sharing for the teacher - it's all in one spot. The commenting also provides evidence for feedback as well as notifications for both sides - home & school.

Now, I'm not one to throw ideas around without backing it up with some instruction/guide. I created a slidedeck to help the teachers and parents. Feel free to make your own copy or share it out as is. You will also want to check - like I did - that Google Photos is turned on for your students. 

I hope this provides an easy method of communication for teachers, parents, and students. The feedback the original teacher has already received has been positive. I know there will be hiccups along the way, but I'm excited to see how this goes!

Looking for a link to a View Only version? Please use "File --> Make a Copy" to make your own copy.

Want to look at the Template version? Please click on "Use Template" in the upper right corner to make it your own.

I'd love to hear how this goes for you if you choose to use it. And if I can be of help, please don't hesitate to comment below; contact me on Twitter (@kiefersj); or email me (

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Video Conferencing You Can Do

About a month ago, I would NEVER had guessed that I would be returning from Spring Break ready to continue with distance learning in my district, let alone across Ohio & much of the world! This is new territory for everyone!

Video conferencing has been around for awhile ... but before March 13, I hadn't done much of it. Since then, I've stopped counting the number video conferences I've been a part of. And not only is it "normal" for me, it's also "normal" for my own daughters.

When my district moved into distance learning, several of us began working through what would become guides for our teachers. I won't profess perfection, and we learned a lot by reading and talking with others. We did formulate a plan and have moved forward with it.

My district decided to utilize Zoom. Is it right for you? I can't say. We decided this was the best plan for ourselves after weighing pros/cons of a few different platforms. EVERY platform will have pros/cons so please don't think that I am saying Zoom is better than others. It is what we decided on. But, I do feel like the guidelines we shared can work for ANY video platform.

I am sharing this out today in case you are interested in something to help guide what you do & don't do while video conferencing. As with anything I share, please feel free to make a copy & modify to fit you & your district better. I've kept it very simple, as I believe simplicity is best, especially right now. I also do not believe the focus should be on the "tool" ... it should always be focused on the usage and goal of the tool. 

I recreated the doc for our district on Slides, to make it more visual. Below the one for teachers, I created a VERY generic video conferencing tips for students. This one is not specific to any platform.

Here is the one for teachers:

Want to make your own copy? ↬ Link to "View Only" (please use File --> Make a copy)

Here is the one for students:

Want to make your own copy? ↬ Link to "View Only" (please use File --> Make a copy)

I hope these guides help. 

As always, if you have a comment or question, please feel free to comment below, reach out on Twitter (@kiefersj), or email me (

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Remote Learning By the Numbers You Can Do

W O W.

It's been a little more than 2 weeks since Governor DeWine ordered the closure of all schools in Ohio. I was sitting in the Curriculum Department when he made the announcement. I look back at that day & feel like it was surreal. I'll remember that day forever. We had been anticipating an announcement of some kind - but the swiftness was overwhelming. The next day was a pre-planned in-service day for my district and we pivoted from what we had planned on doing, to prepare for what it would mean to teach remotely.

Here I am, 2 weeks later. We used 2 calamity days and 8 days of remote learning. I can honestly say that nothing - and everything - in my teaching career has allowed me the strength to sit here and write this to you. I have no magical answers; I have no "right" answers; and I have no idea how much longer we will continue remote learning. But what I DO know is this:

  • I will not be broken by this.
  • I will be stronger because of this.
  • I will make mistakes and learn from them.
  • I will cry and dry my tears.
  • I will be upset - even angry. And then I will channel that anger into something productive.
  • I will see my colleagues create amazing digital lessons.
  • I will see students do some pretty cool things at home.
  • I will see my district leadership guide us through this time of uncertainty with grace and strength that even they didn't know they had.
  • I will see a change in education that will hopefully prove to be for the better. 
I know these things to be true even though all of this stems from something so unexpected, so strange, and so unwanted.

This week is spring break for me. And it's one more thing that will be pivoting. One more thing that will be changed. I had been looking forward to 5 days of being home while my family carried on with their normal lives. This was what I expected. Instead, I will work with my daughters on their schoolwork. I will be thankful my husband is still employed and has a job he is needed at. I will work on school "stuff" - even though I know I don't have to. I will also do some of the things I had planned previously ... and I'll get to that in a minute.

I have focused my writing on activities and lessons that you can take and do in your classroom. I don't share a lot about my personal life. But today I am going to open up a bit. I feel like I need to be more open. Contrary to what many might think, computers and technology aren't my whole life. I do unplug and I do have other hobbies. 

For one, running has been a major part of my life since college. I have completed several half-marathons and 5ks. I run 3 or 4 times a week. On the other days, I do a fast-walk or the Maxtrainer. I've also included planks to strengthen my core.

I journal daily. Not like the narrative type - I shared my journal style two weeks ago in "Uncertain Times You (& I) CAN Do." I have done this faithfully since late December. It has given me focus, routine, and a means to reflect. I am encouraging my daughters to do the same.

And I LOVE DIY. I love watching it and trying things on my own. I grew up watching "This Old House" and I still am a faithful viewer. While I do not have a huge repertoire of tools, I do own several and they come in handy quite often. And many assume my husband does the work, but he finds DIY frustrating and allows me to do it. He's MUCH better at the outside work. He loves taking care of our yard and plants and all of that. I have brown thumb. I couldn't identify more than a couple of flowers and 1 tree - my favorite, a Japanese maple. We balance each other well in this respect.

First completed floor
A handful of years ago, we ripped up the carpet and vinyl flooring on our first floor and replaced it with a click-together flooring. While we were mostly happy, we've realized it wasn't the best option for kids and dogs. We've sorely needed to replace carpet on our 2nd floor. Can you guess what I had planned for spring break? That is my big project. I am replacing all the carpet in our bedrooms, hallway, and closets. No small feat. It also allows me to work out some stress and frustration. We had the flooring picked out, so on weekends that might have been spent at soccer fields, I am spending it replacing the floors upstairs. So far, I'm proud to share I've completed 2 bedrooms, about half of the hall, and I'm heading into our youngest daughters bedroom today.

All of this leads me to the share I have for today. As I was working to figure out a cut around a doorway Thursday night, I started thinking about all the things I have/haven't done over these past two weeks. And with the "By the Numbers" template Ryan O'Donnell (@creativeedtech) shared a while ago as inspiration, I've created "Remote Learning By the Numbers ... So Far." 

Here is mine for the past two weeks. I am thinking I will update it again at some point. (Maybe while it's all over. Maybe after spring break. Maybe I won't.) It sure would be fun to see some others Remote Learning By the Numbers ... So Far. Please share yours! 

Would you like to use mine to make a copy for yourself? Feel free! Here is a link to my Google Drawing. You are welcome to make a copy & modify it to fit yourself.

If you have any questions or comments or if I can help, PLEASE reach out. Please comment below, reach out on Twitter, @kiefersj, or email me at