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

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Uncertain Times You (& I) CAN Do

Today's post was originally going to be incredibly different from what I'm writing ... it's hard to even believe. A week ago, I was coming off the high of working on a wonderful project (which I was going to share, but I'll now save for next week) and now I'm at the beginning of a mandated 3 week shut-down of school.

Let's start by saying this: these are uncertain and historic times. I could NEVER have anticipated this. Prior to Thursday, my district hadn't even closed a single day for the flu! I had been aware of the stress and concern over the COVID-19 disease through my email threads but it hadn't really hit home. When I received the request from Becky, my curriculum director, on Wednesday asking us to clear Thursday morning schedules to meet and help plan for the potential closure ... it hit home. She never asks us to clear our schedule.

During our pre-planned in-service day Friday, we rolled out the best plan we could to our staff. Becky had already given the staff her expectations and guidance via an email. She & other district leaders were making their way to each building on Friday to address the staff in person and answer questions. I was to work with my elementary buildings to come up with distance learning opportunities. As I worked with each grade level team, I reiterated Becky's expectations and did my best to support them. I was so impressed with these teams that I left Friday feeling incredibly confident in our elementary plan for distance learning.

I want to share a few of my take-aways from Thursday & Friday, as well as my plans for the next 3 weeks.

Take-away #1 - 
THIS IS HISTORIC. I've had snow days off school. I've had cold days off school. I even had a few days off when the remnants of a hurricane created a multi-day power outage (important to note I'm in Ohio). I've never had a governor-mandated closure. As one of the kindergarten teams noted in their letter home ... we are all witnessing history! We will all look back one day and remember this. We will learn from these days and we will -hopefully- be stronger.

Take-away #2 -
This is NOT a vacation. This is more so for the mom in me ... I have 3 daughters who are also out of school. They know this isn't normal and I don't want them to be scared. But literally ALL of their activities have been cancelled. ALL of them. As we ate dinner last night, we talked about it not being a vacation. The younger two were sent home with most of their workbooks and the oldest has her school-issued device. They will be expected to be doing "something". I told them we aren't going to stay up late and sleep in late and we are going to have some designated learning time. (Don't worry, I'm not super mean - but I have always believed in a routine of some kind!)

Take-away #3 -
This is NOT homeschooling. I am not becoming a homeschooling mom overnight. I even tried my best to stress this to my teachers, we can't expect the parents of our students to become teachers either. I want my girls to have learning opportunities during this time - preferably from their teachers - but at the least, reading books, doing some writing, and practicing math in some way. I'm not interested in mastering 3 different grade levels worth of content, nor do I want my daughters to be stressed over gaining 3 weeks worth of curriculum at home during this time. Let's be honest - we need to stay healthy and maintain where we are now. Also, we are going to have a LOT of family time, too. We need to keep busy in a different way because we are going to be together a LOT. (Even more so if my husband is told not to come into work any more either ...)

Take-away #4 -
We WILL be slowing down. While this is being forced upon us, I'm not going to say it's all bad. I had even commented in my blog just last week, that time hasn't been my friend and if I could have skipped sleeping, I would have. Guess what? I now have enforced time to really slow down. No running to soccer or basketball or dance ... no cramming in dinner ... no need to set my alarm (but I will ... keep reading to find out why) ... and so on. We are going to experience a very different way of looking at time.

Take-away #5 -
I can choose what I want to focus on. I better understand COVID-19. I better understand it's potential impact. I better understand how I can be smart about protecting myself & my family. Armed with this knowledge, I also am better able to focus. I will focus on keeping things simple ... keeping things "normal" ... keeping things "regular" ... and helping my family and colleagues to do the same. It'll be a different looking normal and regular, but I'm eager to learn.

With all of this being said ... what am I planning to do?

Project #1: Daily planning
Continue my daily planning. Around Christmas break, I started each day with a daily plan. I had listened to Rachel Hollis (of the "Girl, Wash Your Face" fame) and she shared the journaling she had been doing for years. I have faithfully done this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. since. I set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier, just to fit it in. It has been a fabulous way to start my day and looking back at previous days really helps me to see what I have/haven't accomplished. I'm going to insert the "plan" that I've followed, slightly adapted from Rachel's plan. Feel free to use it or adjust it.

My "take" on Rachel Hollis' journal.

Project #2: Blogging
I've got a plan rolling around in my head how I can use these next 3 weeks to better support my colleagues (and you, my readers). Nothing wild and crazy, but what a better time to try out a new idea than when I'm not incredibly pressed for time? Look for something soon! 

Project #3: Keeping in Touch
I am planning on keeping in touch with my colleagues over this time - so here's your warning! ๐Ÿ˜ We have to keep this time away as human as possible. There's always the phone, video conferencing, texting, and email (and probably more options I'm not remembering right now).

Project #4: Keeping a Routine
Like I mentioned above, I'm going to stick to a routine. I'm not going to get up at the same time, but I AM going to set my alarm so I keep my body in a rhythm. I'm not going to stay up until all hours of the night. (I'm going to do the same for my daughters.) I'm going to keep up my workout routine - as much for my mental health as for my physical health. We are going to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner around "normal" times. We might even do some "home ec" and do some baking and cooking! We are also going to do school work Monday-Friday and keep weekends less structured.

Project #5: Home Improvements
What better time to tackle some home improvement than a time where staying home is being encouraged? We've already painted my oldest daughter's bedroom and now we are moving on to replacing carpet with new flooring. My girls are getting some much needed manual labor experience!

Project #6: Continue My Own Learning
I'm currently taking a break in-between coats of trim paint to write this. Since this is really a one-person job, I am able to catch up on some podcasts. While my girls do their reading, I'm going to be able to read books of my own! This is something I've really gotten away from. First up - "Vintage Innovation" by John Spencer. There are a few online activities I might also dip my toe into ...

My bottom-line is I'm going to do my best to keep myself (and my family in as "normal" a routine as possible so we don't get lost in the crazy of this time. We are going to navigate this time - together - as best as we can. I hope that you do as well. Don't be afraid to reach out if you are not feeling connected ... we are all here and we are blessed enough to have multiple ways to connect without being in person. Please take care of yourself and your family and stay healthy!

And when we go back ... and we WILL go back ... I hope I do it better and stronger than I did before. ๐Ÿ’–

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 .


Monday, March 9, 2020

Innovation You Can Do

Have you had a period of time where it doesn't matter how you look at it, time isn't your friend? That has been me the last month or so. So many GOOD things going on and if I had the ability to completely skip sleeping I would have done so! I chose the word "Intentional" for my word this year and I am struggling to be true to it. My blogging was one of the items that needed to be put on hold while I completed other projects.

One of my BIGGEST projects has been my Google Innovator project. I am nearing the 6 month point and I feel like it's a great time for an update. I am blessed to have 3 amazing educators working through my project with me. I have a great cohort and coach working with me. And my mentor is incredible.

I've kept my project on the quiet side, mostly because I am protective of it and like most people, I really worry about putting it out there. It kind of feels like I'm letting one of my "babies play in traffic" ๐Ÿ˜† by sharing.

Deep breath ... here's the background. For my application to the Google Innovator Academy, I had to identify a problem I saw in education. I had to share my problem as a video. I am no video expert, but I am pretty proud of this video. I used the skills I had, and with the photo skills of my youngest daughter, and a few free pieces of tech (, the Noun Project, Bensound, Screencastify, and few others) to create it.

I was elated to find out in August I had been accepted to the #NYC19 Google Innovator cohort! At the academy, they put us through the Design Thinking process with the help of Les McBeth and other Innovators. Let me just say, those were 3 FULL days packed with thinking, re-thinking, and thinking some more! It was an amazing experience I will carry with me forever.

And my project was born ... "Innovation You Can Do".

Truly, the best part of my job is working with teachers and students. Therefor, my project focuses on creating a framework, a structure, that - I hope - anyone can use to take their idea from the "spark" to the "launch". I've had many teachers throw an idea out but then follow with they don't know where to start (I know that feeling!). That's where my project comes into the picture. My hope for "Innovation You Can Do" is it will walk the "Designer" (the one with the idea) through the process from "spark" to "launch". The "Collaborator" (the coach, the support person) acts as a second perspective, an additional resource, a friend, a listening ear, a question-er to the Designer in this process.

Currently, I am honored to be working with 3 amazing educators who were willing to bring their idea to life using "Innovation You Can Do".

At our first meeting, I give them a copy of "Innovation You Can Do" and we walk through the workbook. Each project is unique, so the first task to be completed is a "Needs Assessment". When we meet again, we go over the needs assessment and questions are asked to clarify as well as agreeing on a rough timeline. While it has the ability to flex, we are looking to pin down a "launch" date. At this point, each project takes a unique path. We decide what the next piece is that needs to be done and when to meet again. Once a date is decided, we lay out what each of us is responsible to do prior to the meeting.

I am excited to get these projects off the ground and solidify "Innovation You Can Do". It has already come a long way from what I initially put together and I see it taking shape. Innovation really IS possible ... and when you have someone walking the path with you, it is definitely achievable.

I know all I've shared is my idea, but my hope is that this is enough for you to picture it. I will be back to share the actual project.

After reading this, if you are willing, I'd love to know your thoughts and feedback on it. You can comment below, respond on Twitter (@kiefersj), or send me an email - .

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Import Calendar Dates You Can Do

Do you create numerous calendar events? Are you a "calendar" person?

Google Calendar is my lifeline. I depend on it every day. I also see how powerful Google Calendars are for larger purposes ... buildings, staffs, communities, large groups, etc. But the problem is, creating calendar events on a large scale can take large amounts of time. It can open the door for errors.

Awhile back, I searched and searched and found a few helpful resources. I found an article or two, a couple of videos ... but what I really wanted was a template that was ready-to-go and "easy" to use. What I had found was the "theory" behind using a Google Sheet and importing it to Google Calendar. Since I couldn't find a template, I made one and today I want to share that out.

It is a basic, simple, and straight-forward idea. Take a Google Sheet, format it correctly, load in your dates (& as much info as you want to), save as a csv, and upload to the correct Google Calendar. Voilรก!

I have used this method for athletic calendars very successfully. I've also recently shared this idea with my district for our yearly calendar. I see this as very helpful. Each building can have its own tab. Tabs can be duplicated - or individual rows can be copied over - for events that need to be on multiple calendars.

To be 100% honest, the first time you create a large number of events, you are not going to "save" a ton of time, but the benefits come in when you have repeating events or you use the same large number of events over and over. For example, a weekly repeating meeting ... create the dates on 2 rows, then use the "magic" of selecting them both & pulling down on the "blue box" to keep that repeating time frame. And if you are like many schools, you probably use "comparable dates" year after year ... and that is where I see a Sheet saving time. [Also, one person can create the district-level events and they be copied over to each building, or use the calendar layering ability to have them all show at the same time.]

Included with the template is a tab for directions. I also tucked in "notes" on each of the column headers to help guide you when you are actually creating your events. I've tried to create this to be something ANYone can do, but if you get stuck or you need help, feel free to reach out!

And finally, at the bottom of the instructions tab, I added a couple of tips on ways you could go further. Interested in an automatic creation of events from your Sheet? Yep - it's possible ... check out the "How to automatically add a schedule from Google Sheets into Calendar" video. Maybe one day, I'll tackle that, too! 

Here is a sneak peak at the template ↬

Link to "template/preview" option (allows for quick copy)

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

You can also find this on my "Templates for Teachers" website. Feel free to check this one out, along with the 70+ other templates my colleague Beth Kingsley & I have created and shared out.

Looking for Sheets or Calendar ideas/tips/tricks? Check out my Wakelet collections: 
Google Sheets Wakelet
Google Calendar Wakelet

And, as always, have a question or comment? I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below, email me at, or find me on Twitter @kiefersj.