Sunday, October 25, 2020

Google Classroom: 10 Things to Know & Do

Yesterday was busy! I presented - virtually - at the TCCA Conference with my Google Innovator Coach, Dr. Desiree Alexander. It was amazing! What a great conference! Being in Ohio, this isn't a conference I've ever attended, but wow! It was great.

I presented two sessions - one about Classroom and one about Sheets. Today, I want to share my Google Classroom session. It goes right along with my intentional focus on Classroom since the beginning of the school year. My session was recorded and shared on YouTube, so feel free to watch below. The presentation slides are also linked below. Limiting myself to the "Top 10" things in Classroom wasn't easy, but I do believe if you have a strong understanding of these 10, you will be far more successful when you use Classroom.

Here are the slides for the presentation for this session. I'd love to hear your feedback!

Here is the link for the Google Classroom: Top 10 Things to Know and Do presentation. I'd love to hear comments below - or Tweet at me @kiefersj - or on Facebook - even via email .

Next week, I'll be back to share my Google Sheets for the Classroom video and resource. Sheets is NOT just a spreadsheet ... there are soooo many ways you can use Sheets in the Classroom. I share a bunch of templates that are ready to go!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Study Habits Your Students Can Do

Most of the inspiration for my blogs come from my day job as a Technology Integration Specialist. But I'm also a mom and sometimes my daughters provide me inspiration. I'm taking a break from my focus on Google Classroom, but I'll come back with more soon.

This week I will be on a soapbox. Study habits - study skills - study methods. It's something I realized a long time ago as a classroom teacher that my students didn't natively know how to do. We want to believe they can and often we assume they can. But the truth is, most students don't know how.

What spurred this soapbox? My 5th grade daughter had a vocab quiz last Friday. I somehow missed it until Thursday. When I asked if she studied, she paused and then said yes. I asked how, and she replied with my least favorite response ... she said she looked at the words on her paper. Only this time, her paper was digital, so that means she stared at her computer screen. Aaaarrrggghhhh!!!! Go ahead, ask me how she did ... 😞.

Here's the deal - my daughter is a good kid. She can do well at school, but it takes effort. She doesn't mind studying, but she's not always interested IN studying. We have found methods that work for her and work really well. BUT - she has to work at it. She has to put forth energy. And she needs the push to do it. (Can I also interject that she adores her teachers?) She did ... or least she felt like she did. She's in 5th grade ... she should know, right? And as the "mean mom", I expect her to make her own study material. I will help her, but she has to do the work.

Soooooo .... what works? What are my chosen tools for this? Well - I have a couple. But it really depends on WHAT she is studying. That's the key. There isn't one perfect tool for studying. There isn't one perfect way TO study. That's also the hard part. And it's different for each student.

And now, more than ever, our students need to be taught how to create their own study material. We no longer assume they will be face-to-face and we can support them in person. We HAVE to teach them how to utilize the tools available. Using tech is ONE method. It isn't the ONLY method. Some students do better with pencil and paper. But when we provide the material to study from/with, they can create what works best. We as teachers need to help our students figure out what IS that method, or methodS. 

And that's the thing ... we have to teach them. Below are two super easy, super flexible, and super impactful tools that you can get going with to help your students (or your own children). 

Two of my favorite tools to help students study are & Quizlet.

Flippity is my favorite tool. All of the options are built from a Google Sheet. This means that all you do is make a copy of the template and customize it for your needs. This means NO account creation ... NO worries about how to log in at school or at home. The final product is a website that can be shared, posted in Classroom or another LMS, emailed home to parents, accessed on a computer, tablet, or even phone. And, it's free. Yep! Flippity has numerous templates you can use; below I highlight 3 that work really well as study tools. MAKE sure you check out all the rest! Flashcards: suggested use vocabulary words or study guides

Key features:
  • front/back traditional look
  • can be spoken for accessibility and additional support
  • images can be also be used
  • color can be changed for the card and/or the text
  • hyperlinks can be included
  • videos can be included
  • multiple ways to practice ➔ flashcards, list, matching, practice
  • generate printables Spelling Words: suggested use ➔ study spelling words. This tool will all you to create a customized list for each of your students OR make one website to use long-term and add to each week. 

Key features: 
  • words will be spoken for students
  • sentences can be - but don't have to be - added for context
  • multiple ways to practice ➔ list (listen to words); practice spelling words; quiz (independent testing); more - additional "games" Matching Game: use this to help students match 2 items; for young learners to teach words or match capital to lower case letters; for older students to learn vocab words, work on memory skills, learn foreign languages; pretty much anything you can think of!

Key features:
  • words spoken
  • match image to word
  • timer is an option
  • cards can be numbered

*** BONUS *** Flippity is built on Google Sheets. This coming Saturday I will be presenting at the TCCA virtual conference. My second session is 100% about using Google Sheets in the Classroom. It's a FREE conference and I will be sharing templates for many Google Sheets activities. I hope to see you there! You can register for the conference at this website My first session is Google Classroom Top 10 Tips. You are welcome to join one or both ;). 

Quizlet is a website where you can create sets of study material. Each set of material you create allows students to customize how they choose to learn, review, and practice the information. If they are old enough (over 13), students can also have their own accounts and generate their own study material. If they are under 13, I highly recommend YOU create the material and share it with students. They do NOT have to have an account to practice.  

Quizlet is a tool I discovered a good many years ago and it quickly became a regular study tool for my students. I began using it with my own daughter when she entered 3rd grade. It was incredibly helpful for my students and my daughter. I know it will be beneficial to yours, too!

I loved it because I would make the set of material to study/review and I KNEW my students were studying accurate information. There were plenty of options for them to choose the method that works - a practice test, games, flashcards, and a couple more. I had a handful of students who enjoyed using what I pushed out to write out study material on their own. (Again, I then KNEW they were studying the accurate information.) One girl would regularly make her own flashcards by simply copying what I pushed out ... and it worked really well - FOR HER. Many of my students would play the game pieces but so many more of my students would generate practice test after practice test. I even had some who would use the printable option to print out flashcards or practice tests and do them on paper. I encouraged any/all of these methods. The only one I wouldn't accept as "true" studying was if they told me they went through the flashcards. I would put them up on my projector and showed them why ... all they had to do is click through in about 5 seconds. This is NOT studying! They had to show actual effort.

Now, the first year was tough as I built the study sets, but after that, I had my study sets ready to go at the beginning of every chapter and all I had to do was share the links. I could adjust easily and know that the information was accurate.

And just like Flippity, Quizlet is accessible on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. It's fantastic!

Now ... these both are great independent tools but there is something to be said about doing some review/studying IN the classroom, too. For that, I've collected resources in a Wakelet. Check out my Gamification Wakelet Collection. There are a bunch in there for you to check out & use!

Wrapping up, I'd love to hear from you! Do you have a comment? Leave it below. Want to connect on Twitter? Please do - @kiefersj . Have a specific comment or request for help? Please email me:

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Feedback in Google Classroom You Can Do - and you REALLY should!

Back in May, I shared how to work through the decision making process of how to best set up your Classroom ... in July, I shared a decision making framework to help decide how many classrooms to have ... and for the past 5 weeks, I've focused on smaller pieces of Google Classroom. This week, I want to focus on feedback in Classroom. Any and all of these can be found by choosing the "Google Classroom" label on the far right. 

At first glance, Classroom is a means to share and collect digital work. Very true. And a much needed component to our current classrooms. But let's not stop there. Any time we talk about work in a classroom, a teachers brain also thinks about grading. Grading isn't solely about percentages or letter grades. We need to push beyond this. We need to give our students feedback. You can do this in Classroom and do it well.

This can be easier than you think. IF you know what to do and how to do it. First of all, you have to understand the item types in Classroom. I've written a very detailed explanation of Google Classroom Item Types that can be helpful. Next, you need to understand the difference in HOW to provide this feedback. Finally, you must understand that students need explicit instructions on looking for AND acting on feedback.

*** I'd like to take a minute and highlight a very simple - yet highly effective - method to encourage, support, and teach your students to read and act on the feedback that you provide. I heard about it awhile back from the Cult of Pedagogy podcast by Jennifer Gonzalez. I've linked the article, "Delaying the Grade" written by Kristy Louden for the podcast here and in the slides below. I'd definitely put it in the "Jedi mindtrick" category! And it's incredibly simple ...... provide feedback withOUT a grade! Pause for a minute. Grades have a very final feel to them. Feedback is meant to support and encourage revision. Work can't be both final and on-going at the same time. So don't confuse your students with a grade until it's truly finished. ***

Feedback can be done in several ways in Classroom. Below is a slidedeck that shares how to do this with Assignments, Quiz assignments, and Questions. I've devoted one slide to each. Let's explore them today.

Be sure to check out my Wakelet Collection focused on Google Classroom. It's a growing collection of tips, tricks, & resources.

And as always - do you have a comment? I'd love to read & respond to it below. You can also email me at or Tweet at me. You can find me on Twitter @kiefersj.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Parents and Google Classroom You Can Do

Many times, as teachers, we focus on our content, schedules, the students in front of us, and all the ups and downs of teaching. How often do you stop and remember to include parents in that list? There was a part of my career where I didn't. That wasn't a stellar decision. Parents are part of education and we cannot ignore this fact.

I'm a mom, too. I have 3 daughters. As my oldest entered each new grade, it seemed that teachers communicated less - both in content and frequency. I struggled with this. She didn't come home and tell me all about her day. School happened at school; home was home. I didn't know how to help ... and she needed help. It was exhausting trying to chase down what was for homework and when tests and quizzes were and what to study. Because of this, I decided it was far easier for ME to communicate to all of my students (& their parents) than having them feeling this same frustration. It took me less than 5 minutes - after all, I was the one assigning the work! I wanted their time to be spent DOING rather than figuring out what to do. I also wanted to empower the parents to be able to have conversations with their student.

When I realized this and actively worked to include parents more in the happenings of my class, I loved the results. For one, I received far more "thank you" emails than "I didn't know" emails. Conferences were less stressful - communication was already a constant and parents weren't surprised. I also realized that my students - 7th & 8th graders - truly needed this extra support. It's not that they weren't being held responsible, it was that I was giving the parents the tools TO hold the student responsible at home because the parent knew what was expected.

Now, more than ever, communication between home and school is important. I see that from both sides - professionally and personally. I see teachers everywhere working to create the best out of whatever situation they are in. And this is hard. Teaching is hard. But we CAN do it.

Because of this, I've been focusing recently on sharing out small chunks about Google Classroom. Today, I want to focus on this audience in connection with Google Classroom: parents. Whether you are in a remote situation, a hybrid situation, or even face-to-face, parents are there with their students. We have to keep this in mind and keep them as part of our planning and thinking with Classroom.

Google Classroom can be a very effective way to build a partnership with parents. The best way is through Guardian Emails. This is an easy, built in way to give parents the information needed to support their student. This is helpful in face-to-face situations where sometimes homework can be a mystery but also during hybrid and remote times, when digital communication is the best we have. Classroom is also great for situations that change over time. It can be a consistent platform for parents to rely on information about their students' schoolwork.

Now, the first step is to understand parents do NOT have an intuitive idea or concept about Google Classroom. In many ways, we have to TEACH the parents about Classroom. I suggest keeping it simple. If you decide to use Guardian emails, I created a letter you are welcome to take, customize to fit your parents, and share. You can find it here: Guardian Email Parent Letter (click the "Use Template" button in the top right corner to make your own copy).

The second step is to decide how you want to use Google Classroom to communicate with parents. THIS WILL NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF YOU USING CLASSROOM FOR ACTIVITIES WITH YOUR STUDENTS. This decision allows parents a view into your digital Classroom. 

I see two possible methods for using Classroom with/for parents. One - to simply communicate homework. And two - to allow parents complete insight to the digital activities and homework for their student. Neither is right or wrong, better or worse. In the Slide deck below, I share pros/cons of each method along with some tips.

Regardless of how you decide to use Google Classroom with your parents, please let me stress a few things. This is actually a repeat of my "Final tips" Slide in the above resource:
  • Use Classroom DAILY to share - it’s the ONLY way parents will receive an email.
  • Use the scheduling feature so that the information for THAT DAY shows up - do not assume parents will remember on Thursday to go back and read what was posted on Monday.
  • Do NOT use abbreviations - it only takes a second to write it out. It can make the difference for parents. (We are stressed and we know they are too. Give them a little help here.)
  • Remember - parents canNOT click on links or expand anything out. Honestly, they don't need to. (If it’s work to be done, the student will be logging in to complete it.)
  • Add multiple guardians, BUT be sure any email you include is a person who is allowed to have access to information about this student.
  • Ask a trusted parent in your class to forward you a Guardian email. Teachers don’t automatically receive a copy. It can be helpful to see what the guardians see.
  • Keep it simple. This will help you and the parents.

I promise, including and intentionally thinking about parents and your Google Classroom is a step you will be thrilled you took.

As always, I'd love to hear from you! Comment below - email me: - or tweet at me @kiefersj.

And don't forget ... I'm a avid Wakelet curator. Be sure to check out my All Things Google collections. I have one specific to Google Classroom as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Deeper Dive into Google Classroom Posting Options You Can Do

Have you looked at your Google classroom through your students eyes? If you have, you know how important it is. If not, this can be a game changer. I challenge you to. No ... I dare you to! Login as one of your students. Or, if you have access, add a fake student to your classroom and login as them … regularly. Look around. What do you see?

A deeper dive into Classroom posting
Really look to see how you’ve got your classroom organized and structured and labeled. Look AS A STUDENT. You might be shocked.  Now that school has begun again, whether you’re face-to-face or hybrid or remote, your students are looking at that classroom. They’re trying to figure out the organization. How hard is it for them? How easy would you like it to be for them?

Let's start with Topics. The best recommendation I can give you is to use weekly dates for your topics. Be super intentional about the name you gave to your topic. Let’s look at two examples:

Look at the difference for students. Spelling out September if you use "Week of ..." means that your students won’t see numbers. Using the abbreviation SEPT and the weekly dates allows for students to see the numbers in the dates for the weeks. 

TIP #1: Create all of your weekly topics at the beginning of the quarter. BUT, don’t post anything to them until you are ready. Students won’t even see it. That’s right. Go ahead and create them and as each week becomes live, so will that topic.

TIP #2: Keep the most current date on top means it’s the first thing students see. This makes it incredibly easy for them to get to this weeks activities quite easily. 

TIP #3: Put your topics in backwards order. Example: you plan to have a Classroom for 1st quarter. (and create new for 2nd - a great tip, by the way!) Use all 9 weeks as your topics, but have the last week at the top. This forces the "most current" to be at the top. Since topics don't show until something is posted, students won't even know they are there.

TIP #4: Students can click on the topic name to the left to further narrow their view and classwork. Yep! Have students click on the topic and all they will see JUST the activities for the selected week. Great for students of all ages - in person or remotely. (And think of their parents supporting them as well!)

TIP #5: Being intentional about giving everything a Topic allows you to NOT assign a topic to items that you want to be listed at the top - to give students quick access, or regular access to. Example, your classroom routines/expectations; a link to programs used on a regular basis; your grade program; etc. BE INTENTIONAL about this. Do not overuse it. 

Now, let's talk about posting assignments, quizzes, activities, materials, etc.  As you create your assignments, quizzes, etc, what do you DO?

Think about the "old days" ... I have several worksheets, activities, and quizzes I need to copy for the week. I head to the copier to make my copies. When I return with my stacks, am I handing them out to my students and thinking that: 

A) they won't look at them or do them until I tell them

B) they will keep them in the order I give them to them

C) they will hold on to them?

Chances are, you are laughing to yourself right now. Of course you wouldn't hand out the entire week's worth of paper copies. You'd leave them in stacks on your desk and pass them out when appropriate. 

The good news - you have options! 

OPTION #1: Go ahead and post/assign them. This gives immediate access. They show up right way. If students have access to Gmail, they will also receive an immediate notification the teacher has posted/assigned something and it will provide a link to take them to it directly. This is a great option if you are ready for your students to have access RIGHT THEN. 

But what if you don't need them to have it NOW ... what if you are planning ahead?

OPTION #2: Schedule it! I love planning ahead, when possible. When I was still in the classroom I tried to plan by the unit ... I liked knowing how long we'd spend on each topic. This allowed me to incorporate PD days, assemblies, or other interruptions. Scheduling posts (whether they are assignments, materials, or even quizzes) is a powerful tool. You schedule everything to post right when you want your students to have access. (You can even schedule down to the minute!) Students won't see it until you are ready for them to have access. Great for planners! It was also great for sub plans or days I knew I'd have to be out.

OPTION #3: Draft mode. This ability is key for those who plan ahead, but can't quite put an exact day or time on it. It works the same as scheduling - you can package your entire assignment, quiz, material, etc, just how you want, and when you are ready, take 30 seconds to open it in edit mode & voila! Assign/post!

Using these options strategically will do you many favors. Students see what they need, when they need it. Nothing more, nothing less. And by also using the topics, it helps keep students focused on the current work and build off it as the days and weeks pass.

Take a little time to digest this. Maybe call on a friend and invite them as a student to your Classroom and let them tell you what they see ... and reciprocate in their Classroom. (You can also unenroll yourself or they can do it for you.)

Bonus Tip: Have you already posted assignments, quizzes, materials, etc and after reading this want to undo that? Unfortunately, you can't. BUT, you can use the "Reuse post" option when you click on "Create" and make each one "new". It allows you to duplicate the work you've already done and use the scheduling or draft mode. Be sure to delete the posted ones so it's less confusing for both you and your students.

Cheat sheet for a deeper dive

Finally: You'll find a link to a cheat sheet to the left on topics and the 3 options I mentioned above for your assignments, materials, quizzes, etc to be posted. I truly hope it helps. Whether your students are 7 years old or 17 years old, how YOU structure and organize your Classroom will go a long way. It matters. It matters now and it will matter in future weeks and months.

Link to make your own copy.

Link to viewing.

These last few weeks, I've focused in heavily on the student and teacher side of Classroom. Have you missed out on them? I've linked them here:

Next week, I hope to share a deeper look at the parent side, partnered with ways teachers can better support parents.

And ... did you know I collect Google Classroom tips, tricks, and resources? Yep - I use Wakelet to do this. I encourage you to check out my Classroom Wakelet collection. I find goodies all over the place and I keep them together here.

Can I help? I'd be happy to help you better organize your Classroom or answer questions you have or even take a peak at your Classroom. Comment below, email me - - or Tweet at me @kiefersj

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A Deep Dive into Google Classroom Settings You Can Do

Google Classroom A Deep Dive into the settings.
As promised, today we are going on a deep dive into the settings you can adjust and customize in Google Classroom. These settings can go a long way in making your Classroom experience smooth and efficient. Below, I breakdown 4 main settings areas that you should be comfortable with. 

As with many things in Google, you can adjust any of these settings and "live" with them for awhile and change them again if they aren't working for you. I always recommend NOT changing a default setting - what is turned on OR off prior to you making changes - unless you are confident on what you are adjusting. Talking with other teachers who use Classroom, or reach out to me, will help you make a decision that works well.

Many of the settings are going to directly impact you, the teacher. Some settings will adjust what Classroom looks like for your students. 

In the presentation below, I share four different settings areas in Classroom. I suggest you have your Classroom open in another tab or window, or even on another device so you can make adjustments that you are comfortable with as you go through this. As I mentioned before, making a change now is not permanent. Feel free to adjust these settings as the year progresses.

Over the past 6 months or so, I've written about Google Classroom several times. If you are looking for more info or assistance with Classroom, please click on this link to all of the "Google Classroom" blogs I've written.

In the upcoming weeks, I plan to share about guardian summaries and better assisting parents with Classroom. Stay tuned for some deep dives!

Google Classroom Wakelet collection

I highly recommend checking out my Google Classroom Wakelet collection, too. I continually am curating tips, tricks, and resources to better support our use of Classroom.

Do you have questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also Tweet at me ... @kiefersj or email me

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Google Classroom Item Types You Can Do

I am finding it more important than ever to help teachers understand and use the right "item type" in Google Classroom. While it may not seem necessary, please understand it DOES make difference. It became incredibly clear to me during the spring closure. And now, I hope to help teachers put intentional thought into the use each of the item types in Classroom.

Last week, I shared "Google Classroom "To Do/To Review" You Can Do". Using the right item type will help keep your students To Do list clear and easy to use. It will also help keep your To Review list clean and organized.

There are currently 7 item types in Classroom. It is important to put thought into the item types you select. They each have a purpose. They each have a meaning. If we use the item type that truly matches the intention we have planned for our students, it will go a long way in keeping out Classrooms organized and packed with purpose. Our students (and their families) deserve this. I also see a big payoff for teachers - the more clear our setup is, the fewer questions we will have to answer.

Another big tip I want to pass on ... be sure to specifically teach your students about the icons. Teaching them intentionally to recognize the icons will also payoff in the long run. When you understand and use the right item type, and they recognize the icons and their purpose, everyone wins.

In the presentation below, I share the purpose and when to use each item type. The final two Slides are meant to be printed and kept close at hand for when you are creating in your Google Classroom. A link for you to view & print is below the Slides.

To view this Google Slides, please click on the link "Google Classroom Item Types". You are welcome to print any/all of this. Please also share with your colleagues. If we all operate from a consistent place, everyone will be better organized.

In the upcoming weeks, I plan to share about top settings and guardian summaries in Classroom. Stay tuned for some deep dives!

Google Classroom Wakelet collection

I highly recommend checking out my Google Classroom Wakelet collection, too. I continually am curating tips, tricks, and resources to better support our use of Classroom.

Do you have questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also Tweet at me ... @kiefersj or email me

Monday, September 7, 2020

Google Classroom "To Do/To Review" You Can Do

Google Classroom got a few - much needed - features in August. One that has been a "game changer" is the new "To Do" & "To Review" section. This is NOT to be overlooked, especially with your students. In the spring, one of the biggest headaches for students and their parents at home was knowing what to do and when it was due. 

With the "To Do" feature - and some specific teaching - students will have clear knowledge of what is due and when. Be sure to show this to your students and explain how helpful it is. It will also help YOU see Classroom how they see it. (I showed the To Do to my own 5th & 3rd grade daughters and it truly is SUPER easy to read.) The To Do list layers all classes for students.

For teachers, the "To Review" feature will provide a simple and clear way to easily see work that has been assigned and what needs to (and can be) graded. You can see all of your classes layered together OR select one class and focus in.

Below are Slides I created to help guide teachers in this new reality of face-to-face, blended, hybrid, or remote teaching and learning. I start with Google Classroom specific vocabulary and then a quick overview of each of the new pieces as well as some suggestions on organizing Classroom. Keep in mind, simplicity and clarity are your best friends. 

Organize Classroom through your students eyes and you will have a very successful year! I always wanted my students to spend their time doing the work rather than figuring out what they needed to do and when it was due. On the final slide, I share some organizational strategies you can implement, too. 

I have also recently written a couple of other posts about Google Classroom and the thinking behind creating and using it with students. I hope you check these out, too:

And finally, check out my Google Classroom Wakelet. I continually collect tips, tricks, and resources specific to Classroom. 

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also Tweet at me ... @kiefersj or email me

This year is going to be a year like no other ... and we can make it successful and wonderful.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Dear Educators, You Can!

Dear Educators,

I've been trying to write this for 3 weeks. As with most everything in 2020, plans changed. I should already have had 2 weeks of school under my belt by now, but my first day is this coming Thursday. My oldest daughter still has a week of summer vacation before starting high school. I should have spent the majority of this weekend at a soccer tournament. I don't think I have the right words, but I need to get this out. I know I can.

This reality has a new feeling ... I hesitate to call this "normal" ... I don't want this to BE normal. This reality has new and different challenges. I've shed tears and I know more will come. I've been angry and felt defeated. COVID-19 has rocked me. What started out as a 3 week pause, turned into a full remote learning for the entire fourth quarter. Then summer was extended as guidelines changed and precautions were outlined and new safety measures were developed.

With everything, I know I have a choice. I have a choice with my words and my actions. I may not like my choices, but they are there for me to make the best of. I'm not perfect and I won't always make the right choice. 

We say the same thing to our daughters here at home. My youngest two girls started school this past week. Face-to-face, five days a week. They have to have their temperatures taken before entering school. They wear masks. They mostly sit in their desks. Specials teachers come to their rooms. They sit on dots spaced out in the cafeteria. And when we explained the "rules" for school, they smiled and accepted them. They don't like wearing masks, but they wanted to go back to school. I cried when we dropped them off ... HAPPY tears! After 5 months, they were back in school.

I don't want this to be "normal" ... but I have accepted this is what we have to do right now. And I want to face this head on and do the best I can. 

I listened to one of my favorite podcasts this morning on my post-run cool down. The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros. It was 10 minutes long and he talked about giving grace to others and yourself. He said it well when he said it's easy to give others grace but often, it's tough to give it to ourselves. That is so very true! Give your students grace; give their parents grace; give your colleagues grace; give your administrators grace; and give YOURSELF grace. You can.

As this school year starts, I don't know truly what to expect. I hope I meet the challenges head on. I hope I ask for and seek help when I need it. I hope that my daughters have a good year. I hope that we all stay healthy. I hope we use this forced change to improve everything we do. I hope that we will look back on this school year and say, with confidence, we did it!

Stay connected ... I'd love to hear your comments below. Tweet at me ... @kiefersj. Need some help? Feel free to email me ... .


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 (