Sunday, February 28, 2021
Monday, February 22, 2021
February is a time of year that I struggle. In Ohio, the weather is gloomy and cold, and I feel like we've been stuck inside the house for "long enough". I am not a big fan of snow, and this year we've gotten plenty of snow. Being inside always makes me look around and see clutter ... everywhere. I usually take time and doing some purging and organizing. And not just in my closets and living areas. I also look digitally.
My first step also coincides with a question from a couple of teachers about graphic organizers. The possibilities are limitless, but at the heart, there are some very basic graphic organizers that work in multiple different contents and for multiple different reasons. I did some searching and digging and I have brought together - in ONE Google Slide deck - 25 graphic organizers. I have kept them pretty generic. The reason for that is that I've also included a video on how to "better" use them in your classroom so they fit you and your students perfectly. [My favorite tip is to use the "Master slide" to help limit the "oopsies" of accidental deletions.]
Now, what I'd really LOVE to do, is collaborate with you and make this a really beefy collection of graphic organizers. After checking these out, the final Slide has a link to a Google Form where you can share a link to a graphic organizer you have created/used/found helpful and a link to spreadsheet that will become populated with links to all of these various graphic organizers that people share. Please share and encourage others to share theirs, too! Can you imagine what this collection will look like and the awesomeness that will be created with it?
Here is my Google Slide "Graphic Organizers Galore!" where I also share the video on "How To: Copy & customize a graphic organizer using the Master Slide". Below this, you will find a link for you to make a copy for yourself.
Sunday, February 7, 2021
I was inspired last Monday to create an activity for a group of kindergarteners for Groundhog's Day. I had just watched a video about a new extension called Mote. (Website - https://www.justmote.me/) I thought it would be perfect to use, if it worked the way that had been explained. It absolutely did what it said - easily inserted audio onto Google Slides.
I shared the activity via Google Classroom and I got to see first-hand these kiddos doing the activities I had designed. For the most part I was thrilled! But I also saw some things I had not anticipated. I knew I could do better and I wanted to do better! So this week, I sat down and took all of that in and created what I am sharing below.
One of the things I realized very quickly is including audio is a VERY important step, especially if we want to encourage independence. Adding audio in short snippets and locating it in strategic spots is also important. Something else I realized is these kiddos like choice. I try to use a variety of activities that use different skills. I also wanted to make sure there was several activities so the kiddos who can do more have more to do. Keeping each slide simple is also important.
Finally, more than ever, I see how valuable the master slide is for this age group. Being able to put text or visuals on a slide with little ability for students to accidentally delete is critical. I have been intimidated by the master slide for awhile, but I'm embracing it now and loving the benefits!
And ... if you've not yet checked out Mote, don't waste another minute! I cannot tell you how easy it is to use!!! (And it saves directly to your Google Drive - but not in a specific folder, so make sure to organize the recordings right away.)
The slides below are created for kindergartners, but you are welcome to make your own copy and modify it to better fit your students! The links are below.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Google is good at many things ... one being change. One change you may or may not have even noticed is dealing with extensions on your Chrome account. I know I noticed it for awhile, but didn't pay much attention to it. [Could that be because of the pandemic, one might ask???]
Now that I've explored it, I've found it to be an excellent addition to the extensions area. I went from an extension tool bar that looked like this:
To an extension tool bar that now looks like this:
So much better! I choose to "unpin" extensions I do not frequently use. I didn't delete them, I just don't have to see them all the time. Yes! To better explain and demonstrate this, here's a video:
Sunday, January 24, 2021
I have said it before & I'll say it again ... Google Slides is probably one of the most versatile apps in the Google suite. And one of my absolute favorites! During a session with one of my teachers, we had about 10 minutes left and the teacher asked me to show him "anything". He was eager to learn. I asked him to open a Google Slides activity he already had - I had noticed something the week prior I wanted to show him, but we ran out of time. We covered a handful of quick "tips" in those 10 minutes and it inspired me to create the resource below and share it with all of you!
Google Slides is an app many teachers are really comfortable with. There is SOOOOO much to Google Slides that I would never profess to know everything - I'm still learning! Today I've pulled together nine tips/items in Slides that you may not know about. Hopefully there will be a nugget or two you find helpful. And if it's helpful to you, please do share with friends! And if you see something you aren't familiar with in Slides, hover over it to find out what it's called ... and then click! You might teach yourself something new!
Sunday, January 17, 2021
I've seen so many people share their one word for 2021. It has taken me a bit longer and like so many things in my life, last year has shaped my one word. I've done some reflecting while also looking forward. It dawned on me that as difficult as last year was, I ALSO saw so many bright spots - so much good. I am tired of hearing about all of the things we "can't" do and the complaining about what we've "lost" ... so, in 2021, I am choosing to focus my attention on all of the blessings in my life. And that is my word - BLESSINGS.
Now, before I go too much further, I am well aware that I cannot ignore the things we can't do or that we've lost. I will be sad and upset about them. And there will be times I will be down right angry or hurt. That's just part of being human. At the same time, I know that I am very blessed in my life and I want to make sure I do not loose sight of that. There is a lot of negativity happening and I want to make sure that I also see - and highlight - the good that is happening, too.
I have been journaling every day for the past year and I've made an adjustment to incorporate my one word. Rather than write down things I'm grateful for, I've adjusted that section to be where I write out my blessings. Topping my list everyday is my family & our health. These are two of the greatest blessings I have. The rest of my list will vary from day to day, but some of my top blessings recently are having a job (and a job that I love), music, a good team, warm days in the winter time, the ability to connect with educators near & far, my girls able to attend school face-to-face, quiet time in the morning, and so on.
This year, I want to focus on the blessings around me; give blessings to others; and to BE a blessing.
Through my blog, I try to BE a blessing to all of you by sharing my adventures and activities I am lucky enough to be part of. I also hope that I can inspire you to look to the positives.
One final note - on Monday, Feb 8 at 6 pm, I will be appearing on Kim Mattina's podcast - The Suite Talk. I will be sharing about using Google Sheets in the classroom. (Hint: it won't be limited to spread sheets! And yep .... templates will be included!)
I'd love to hear from you! You can leave a comment below - reach out on Twitter & Facebook - or even email me at email@example.com
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Personally, I struggle with this week's topic. It's tough and it's been even tougher the past twelve months. Today, I am focusing on BOUNDARIES.
A little background ... my district has been in-person from the start of this school year. I dared to hope we could remain this way for 2 weeks. Two weeks came and went. Then a month. Then the entire first quarter. Yes, we had positive cases and plenty of quarantines. But we stayed in-person. We switched to remote learning for the final two day prior to Christmas break and for the first week after break. Computers were sent home with the kindergarten through 4th grade students who needed them during this time. (They don't take them home on a daily basis.)
Here's the story. I was sitting at my daughter's indoor soccer game the day after we sent computers home. I received a text message from Laura, a friend who teaches 4th grade. Laura is an amazing teacher and was reaching out for advice.
She tells me a student of hers had already sent 14 comments through Google Classroom. (This is the NEXT morning ... a Saturday morning!) Laura hadn't answered any of them yet and I could feel the guilt oozing through her words. She goes on to say she is trying hard to be present for her own children. But her final comment made me pause ... "Am I being a meany?"
Wow. How many times have YOU been in that spot? Exhausted. Given all you have AT school that day/week and it's the weekend. But a student asks for help. I knew exactly what Laura was feeling. Every bit of it. I also knew she KNEW the right answer. She just wanted to hear it from someone else.
I responded quickly with "Not. At. All."
I went on to suggest she respond ONCE. Tell the student she is excited the student is eager to learn, but it's important to enjoy the weekend and if the student really wanted to work on the schoolwork, read and follow the directions. I also suggested to Laura she tell the student that she'll answer additional questions on Monday and even do a virtual meeting if needed.
Laura responded with relief. Like so many teachers, she was exhausted. She just needed to hear it's ok to put school work to the side on the weekends. I told her "Computer access doesn't mean you have to be accessible 100%."
I knew this would help this student, but it got me thinking about ALL of her students ... all of OUR students. I told Laura that students need boundaries with computers, too. The students we sent chromebooks home with might not have regular access to a device of their own and therefor this was big for them. I suggested she spend some time during her virtual meeting with her students creating agreed upon boundaries - very similar to what she'd done at the beginning of the year in-person. I firmly believe we must specifically TEACH our students the boundaries. We cannot expect them to just "know".
Laura's guilt quickly turned to excitement and she told me she was definitely going to have that conversation with her students on Monday. She agreed - this was really our first extended remote learning time. Remote learning was new to our kiddos. She wanted to everything she could to set them up for success!
Here's my thinking - boundaries WILL work, IF everyone knows where they are. We cannot make assumptions. Teaching & learning is no exception. We HAVE to make boundaries - both when we are in-person and virtual (or hybrid or whatever the case might be). I believe it is important to bring our students in on this conversation.
Our remote learning week has come and gone. Laura shared notes with me about this process and I'm excited to say she has agreed I can share the story with you, too! The first image is Laura's classroom rules, created at the beginning of the school year. Our elementary has had a pride pledge for longer than I've been working there. They say it everyday during announcements. "I am respectful. I am responsible. I am a peaceful problem solver. I can learn and I will learn." Laura's class based their rules on this. And I think it's brilliant!
Sunday, January 3, 2021
🎉 Happy New Year! I haven't been super active on social media over the break but I did see a quote that I absolutely LOVE and I think it speaks loudly to what we all need to hear at the beginning of a new year and I want to start off sharing it with you:
You are tough. We've made it though tough times and we will make it through more tough times. Because we are tough. We have each other.
As a classroom teacher I would use the same wording over and over for my students. I would also reuse most of the wording when assigning a modified copy of an assignment to a group of students and only assigning to them. Not having to retype it ALL and redoing all the settings is a HUGE time saver! I could repeat this as many times as needed - copy the title, directions, topic, due date, point value & only have to change the attachment and students it is assigned to. Talk about being able to differentiate in a timely manner! Yes!!!
Two cautions when reusing posts with attachments:
- Do yourself a favor ... make NEW copies of any attachments like Docs, Slides, or Sheets.
- If you have a Google Form attached, delete the link it automatically brings over and take the handful of seconds it will take to relink it.