Sunday, August 1, 2021

Summer Learning I did, and You Still Can Do

Before the new school year kicks in, I wanted to recap the learning I've done and shared this past summer. I'll be starting back to school in about 2 weeks. How has time has gone by so quickly?

This past summer wasn't as busy for me as the summer before, but I didn't sit around either! I needed a break more than I thought I did and I was grateful my family was able to go on our COVID-delayed vacation in June.

I know many of us are STILL taking a much deserved break, but some are busily preparing for the upcoming school year and looking for some learning. Rest assured, these learning opportunities aren't going anywhere and plenty of others will join them.

The first item I want to point out is the "Professional Learning" tab at the top of my site. I have been collecting free &/or low cost professional development for awhile now and have it all here on this page. There are filters at the top you can use to better guide your search along with the ability to do a keyword search. There is a TON out there ... so be sure to take a look. And come back in a week or so, I'm sure I'll be adding to it.

Next, I want to share the summer series I did with Dr. Desiree Alexander, of Educator Alexander. She is my Google Innovator Coach and who I also did an Intro to Google Series with during the summer of 2020. BOTH of these series and their resources can be found on our site, "Level Up with Google". The Level Up series is at the top and the intro series is at the bottom. There are 6 two hour webinars in the Level Up, covering Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings & Jamboard, and Sites. The Intro series has 10 two hour webinars covering Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drive, Classroom, Forms as Assessments, collection of Google Apps, Chrome, and Sites. 

AND I was able to do my first in-person presentations last week at a great conference here in Cincinnati called "High AIMs". Wow! Did it feel both great and weird at the same time! I presented twice - once solo, and once with a colleague. For my solo session, I share numerous ways you can use Google Sheets in the classroom (including pre-made templates you can go ahead and share). For the joint session, Brittney Priore and I share our brand new project, Tech With Littles. Brittney is a 1st grade teacher and she and I teamed up to create Tech with Littles to further help and promote the "purposeful integration of technology" in your classroom, with a focus on the littlest learners. I'm SUPER excited about this ... it's not just activities you can do, but also the thinking behind them and the WHY we need to purposefully integrate technology into our classrooms. Both sessions and their resources are on "My Presentations" tab. (You will need to search for earlier events, as they are over.)

My summer isn't over, yet, and I still have some presentations to go. The next will be at the G-Tech Summit this Wednesday, August 4. I will do 3 presentations. You can still sign up for this awesome, FREE, and virtual summit and join in all the goodies! Jon Corippo and Jake Miller will be doing keynotes so you definitely do NOT want to miss out! You can sign up - for FREE - on their website, G-Tech Summit. All of my sessions are showing on "My Presentations" tab already.

This week on Friday, I will present twice at the SPARCC Conference, hosted by Eric Curts and friends. One session is a pre-recorded session "Start Your Digital Year on the Right Foot" and one live - virtual - session "Start Google Classroom on the Right Foot". This, too, is FREE, and you can still sign up on the main SPARRC Conference site. You will find links to both the live and prerecorded sessions here. I'd love to "see" you!

And finally, to wrap it up, before summer wraps up, I will also be recording my presentations for Kasey Bell's "Shake Up Learning Back to School Conference". It's not until later in September, but being pre-recorded sessions, so I need to get mine done before school kicks into gear. As Kasey would say, I'm #SuperExcited for this! YOU can register - it's FREE, all on-line, and you can watch and re-watch as many of them as you'd like. There is the ability to upgrade your access with her "All Access Pass" and hold onto access to these videos AND so many more of her wonderful classes, if you are interested.

Bottom line - as much as I needed and wanted a break, my break didn't happen by turning my brain off. I keep learning everyday and I've enjoyed doing so. I hope you are interested in at least one of the above learnings - let me know which one helps you the most!

Reach out with comments below or any of the social media links above. I'd love to hear from you! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Summer Sunday Tip #7: Goals You Can Do

This is my last Summer Sunday Tip and it's all about looking forward. If you've followed me for awhile, you know that I am a goal-setter. I am a BIG believer in goals and I think you should, too!

I set goals professionally.

I set goals personally.

I set goals physically.

I set goals mentally.

I haven't always written them down, and I've shared them out even less. I believe in goal setting, but I'm also afraid to share with others my goals, in case I don't succeed ... I know I need to be better about this. It's not that I'm afraid I won't reach the goal, it's more that I don't want others to see me as a failure. (It's crazy, right!?!)

This is my FINAL "Summer Sunday Tip" - set goals for yourself. 

Set short and long term goals. Set as many as you want ... and then prioritize them. Which ones can you do NOW? Which ones need to wait a little bit? Which ones will take you longer? Which ones do you need someone else to help you with them?

I write my goals out for the entire calendar year. Then I identify ones I want to achieve in each month. And then I write daily, ones that I want to do today to remind me of their importance. Nothing super fancy, I write in my notebook.

Here's a peek at some of mine:

* what's left of this summer 👉family pictures; finish overhauling the hall closet; paint the pantry; hang wallpaper in our 1st floor hallway

* upcoming school year 👉adjust to the shift in my role with the opening of a new building; publicize the Staff Help hub; create a better parent resource

* for my blog 👉try to publish once per week; work on improvements; get back to sharing on my TYCD: Resources

* for my joint ventures  👉work faithfully at sharing out

* physically  👉 keep up with running; regularly strength train; work on core strength

* family life  👉stay conscious of time and needs; be supportive; eat healthier ... minimize eating out; BE there

I hope that you set - and achieve! - the goals you set for yourself. Goals can always be adjusted, never beat yourself up over not achieving them. Heck, 2 weeks ago, I finished painting the cabinet in my daughter's bathroom that I had planned on getting done over Christmas break! But I don't give up. It might take me longer than I had planned, but I'll do it.

That's my ultimate goal - do what I set out to do, and do it to the best of my ability.

Next week, I'll return and share the learning adventures I've done this summer. I'll also share some exciting new adventures I'm taking on!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Summer Sunday Tip #6: Clean Up Classroom You NEED to Do

I'm not a big fan of repeating myself so soon - but today's tip is a SUPER IMPORTANT step. And I'll admit, cleaning hasn't really ever been my thing. BUT with the last couple of years, I've become a big believer in keeping our digital spaces neat and tidy, just like our living spaces. While majority of my blogs are aimed towards teachers who use Google and its products, you can easily swap out any LMS for today's FINAL "Summer Sunday Tip" --> 

Clean it up.

Whatever that means. 

Return work, archive classes, recycle/trash what needs to be, and start this coming year with a fresh slate. I am familiar with a couple of LMS's, and see a ton of value in just archiving - makes it super easy to reuse assignments, materials, resources in the future. So depending on your specific LMS, you may need to adjust a few of the steps. 

I shared these Slides in early May and if you've not yet done these 4 things ... why??? I beg you - do it for you and do it for your students. 

Often, our students are stuck with what teachers don't take care of. You'd never want your new students to walk into class with their backpack still full of last years papers, notebooks, and work, right? That's what not cleaning up our digital space does for them.

This is all pretty easy and straightforward ... so waste time. Do it!

AND ... I'm over halfway done with my "Level Up with Google" summer webinar series. We've covered leveling up with Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms. This week we are looking at Drawings & Jamboard (in one webinar) and Google Sites. Whew! That's a lot of leveling up! You can find all of the information and register for these FREE webinars on our website: Level Up with Google

Also - make sure to jump over to My Presentations tab and check out all of the places you'll find me this summer.

Questions? Comments? Reach out using any of the contact links on the top right, under my picture. I'd love to hear from you?

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Summer Sunday Tip #5: Rest & Reflection You Can Do

Going back to a more personal Summer Sunday Tip, when July starts, the newness of summer break has worn off and I start to feel a bit "unsettled". I feel a little panicky and out of sorts. I know I shouldn't, but July 1 always hits me ...


How is this possible? How is summer approaching the half-way mark already? Yikes!

Now, there really is no reason to panic - I still have about 6 weeks before school starts. And just today I checked a big "to do" off my list - one that has been nagging for me to do since I put it on my Christmas Break to do list! Woot! Woot! I still have plenty of time to soak up summer and all the goodness it holds - the sun, the relaxed pace, extra family time, the late nights, the DIY projects, and more.

How do I do this? Honestly, every morning when I journal, I feel like I am also reflecting. It's nothing fancy and it's not difficult. What did I get done yesterday? What do I need - and what do I want - to do today? And by doing this, it helps me focus my attention on smaller pieces to my larger goals. If you are familiar with brain dumps, you know how helpful (and cathartic) it can be to jot down the things running through your brain. That's what journaling does for me each day. 

If you've not ever tried it, I highly recommend pulling out a notebook and try it. I've been faithfully journaling every day for the past 18 months. I even shared a blog about it last March in "Uncertain Times You (& I) Can Do". I don't buy fancy notebooks and my layout has evolved over time. (I do love a good pen - currently I'm loving the scrapbooking blue pen I'm using for the month of July.)

Now ... how about you? Are you staying up late? Catching up on books you've collected? Playing taxi and driving your kids around everywhere? Starting a new work out program? Lounging by the pool? Working on some continuing ed? DIY projects around your house? Binge watching a show on tv?

What ever is occupying your time this summer, I hope you are finding rest and recuperation through it. We all rest and recuperate differently, so enjoy it! 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Summer Sunday Tip #4: Organize Drive - Yes! You Can!

This week my focus goes back to technology. I've been seeing in lots of places teachers asking about switching jobs and how to take their files with them to a new school. It's entirely possible with Google Take-out, but the Google admin has to have allowed it and you have to wait and hope that it works. I'm not against trying it, but I also think there are a lot of possible things to go wrong, so I have a different way of tackling this job.

Since it's summer time, it's a great time to go through your Drive and clean it up a bit because if you weren't aware - Google will be imposing some limitations on storage. Boo! I've had my time to cry over this - and now I'm ready to make the best of it.

Nearly 2 years ago, I wrote a post "Google Drive Organization You Can Do" where I shared 6 steps to help you organize your Drive. I am sharing it again today because the steps still hold value. Organizing your Drive is NOT easy ... for most teachers, it's not fun, so I cannot stress this enough ... set a timer and do it over several days or even a couple of weeks. (I talk about this in Step 3.) You can set aside 10-15 minutes and you'll be shocked at how fast the time goes.

Now, for those of you leaving one school and going to a different school - now is the BEST time for you to tackle this. I find that we tend to hold on to a lot of unneeded files. Take this time to go through your Drive and decide what you REALLY want to keep.

I'd strongly recommend the following proceed in conjunction with the 6 Steps from the post above:

  • in your CURRENT Drive make 2 folders "Keep" and "Don't Need"
  • go through your Drive using the 6 steps - and quickly make a decision as to which folder you need to move it to
  • once you're done, share the "Keep" folder to your PERSONAL account with editing
  • in your personal account, make copies of all the files (you can select multiple files at one time and use the "make a copy" to make copies of all of them at once)
  • you can un-share the "Keep" folder which will take the originals away from your personal account
Here is the slide deck with my 6 tips to Google Drive Organization.

Now, I suppose I should go practice what I preach and do some organization of my own!

Psssst! This week I am joining forces with Dr. Desiree Alexander for "Level Up with Google Sheets" on Tuesday AND "Level Up with Google Slides" on Thursday. Check out the website, "Leveling Up with Google"  devoted to sharing this entire series and the intro series from last year.

Comment below or contact me on any of the social channels - they are all linked above on the right side.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Summer Sunday Tip #3: Stop Avoiding Things You Can Do

Many teachers I know take care of everyone else really well - their families, their students, their schools, their homes, etc - but they put off taking care of themselves. I'm not going to go on and on about self-care and how or even why you should do it. My message today is simple - take care of the things you have avoided (or put off).

Summer is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and say to yourself, what do I need to take care of? For me it's a lot of around the house items but also some personal items. Looking back at my 1st Summer Sunday Tip, Summer Sunday Tip #1: To Do Lists You Can Do, I focused on to do lists. I'm happy to report I've checked a few things off my to do list. They are not glamorous items - oil change, fixed an electric outlet in our kitchen, cleaned out all 3 of my girls closets, and met with our financial planner. But man! It felt great to get those items checked off.

I have several things I still need to check off my lists and a few things to schedule. My girls and I have dentist appointments coming up in July. Isn't that sweet? Yep, we have one giant appointment together. It's a great way to spend about 2 hours.

Female? You know what I'm talking about. Don't put those items off. 

How about some downtime for just you? I still set my alarm so that I have some quiet time in the morning all to myself. I love that time. I cherish that time. Maybe your vision of downtime is reading a book or two? I know I have a couple that I still want to read. 

And here's something else. How about some crafty time? I hope to paint my girls bathroom cabinet and maybe redo the floors, too. I'm half-way through a bit of a reorganization in my basement, so I need to finish that. 

I share all this not to tell you to go find things to do or to do the things that I am doing. But in summer, I use my time very differently than I do during the year. That is a benefit of this extended time off.

So ... what do YOU usually put off during the school year? Pick one thing to check off your list tomorrow. Then repeat the next day. You'll feel better. (It goes so well with my Summer Tip #1!)

And the next thing on my list of things we've avoided ... vacation! We couldn't do it last year, so no more postponing! I'm signing off to enjoy!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Summer Sunday Tip #2: Organize Chrome (in 5 Steps) You Can Do

Time seems to pass differently in the summer for me. It's still 24 hours in one day and 7 days in one week, but summer feels like an endless stretch of time, yet I know it's not. I don't spend nearly the amount on time on professional work during the summer - but I have things I really want to get done. This series of tips is meant to capture small chunks of time and use them productively.

Summer Sunday Tip #1 was all about "To Do" lists. I use to do lists to help organize myself daily and for long projects. One thing on my to do list is to take some time and organize my Chrome accounts. I try to be good during the school year, but if I take about 15-20 minutes at the beginning of the summer, I can get through my Chrome accounts and do some clean up work. School is fresh "enough", yet not breathing down my neck, so I'm sure to keep only what I really need.

Step 1: Separate Chrome Accounts
This is a huge problem for a lot of people - they don't 100% understand the difference between logging into their Chrome account vs their Google account. If you've ever not been able to find something in your account and you are shocked to find it in a different account, this is probably your cause. There might be a bit of work here ... but the bottom line is this - it's EASY to keep your Chrome accounts separate, yet easily accessible. You just have to know how.

Kasey Bell has a great video to show how to do this: 

Once you have your profiles separated, you can work to see if you have files that need to be moved to the correct account.

Believe me ... it is well-worth the time to do this! You will thank yourself later.

Step 2: Bookmarks - use the favicon!
I have a deep love of bookmarks. I will never forget my student, Juliana, who showed me how to use ONLY the favicon for bookmarks that I am super familiar with. (The favicon is the small image that is associated with the website ... the colorful triangle for Drive ... the colorful M for GMail ... etc). It saves SO much space & allows me to use the rest of my bookmark bar for additional websites. 

Check out the video I made showing how to make this happen.

Step 3: Bookmarks - use folders!
Another way I save space & keep my Chrome organized is to create folders on my bookmarks bar. Another super simple tip and goes a LONG way in helping keep my organized. As a classroom teacher, I had a folder for each unit and each chapter, saving me a ton of time year after year when I wanted to find the same great resources. I use folders as categories to group like bookmarks together.

Check out the video I made showing how to make this happen.

Step 4: Bookmarks - delete!
Something a lot of people might not think about when organizing their Chrome is to actually go ahead and delete the unwanted - or unused - bookmarks. When I sit down with teachers to do some organization in Chrome, many are often surprised the sheer number of bookmarks they have. "Wow!" or "I don't remember bookmarking that!" are common comments. It doesn't matter when, or why, you did, if you aren't using it, delete it. You might be surprised how much cleaner and easier it is for you when you are looking for the bookmarks you really do use. Another super simple way you can organize your Chrome account.

Check out the video I made showing how to make this happen.

Step 5: Customize your theme & profile for each account.
The final suggestion I have for you when organizing your Chrome accounts is to change the theme and your profile image. I have several Google accounts (a personal one, a school one, a Google Trainer one, and a couple of others). If they all had the same profile image and looked the same, I would struggle in knowing which is which. I have strategically used a different profile image for each and used the available Chrome themes to help me more easily see which account I am using. This is a MUST if you have multiple accounts.

Check out the video I made showing how to make this happen.

I promise, after doing these 5 steps, your Chrome accounts will feel organized. Each step should be fairly simple and easy to do.

Come back next week - Tip #3 will focus on doing the things we put off during the school year.

Questions? Comment ⤵ or connect & follow me on any of these platforms:

Psssssst! Have you heard? I've got some upcoming presentations YOU can join me! Here's a quick peek, but for a list of all of my upcoming and an up-to-date list, head over to "My Presentations" page. (I just added a couple more of August, too!)

  • Tuesday, June 22 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Docs
  • Tuesday, June 29 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Sheets
  • Thursday, July 1 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Slides 
  • Friday, July 9 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Forms
  • Monday, July 12 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Drawings and Jamboard
  • Tuesday, July 13 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Sites

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Summer Sunday Tip #1: To Do Lists You Can Do

Fact: I love my to do lists. 

Fact: I have multiple to do lists - both personally and professionally.

Fact: There is something super satisfying about checking off an item on my "to do" list.

Today I am kicking off series of blog posts focused on small and doable things perfect for summer time. And the first thing I want to focus on is "to do" lists. 

Summer Sunday Tip #1 : create your own to do list for things you want to accomplish. This should take no more than 5 minutes. Use something as simple and handy as a notebook and pen. Or do something digital - Google Keep, the Reminders or Notes app, or even a Google Doc or Sheet. 

Not buying in? Here's why you should:

My to do lists often reflect and incorporate my goals. They are long-term and short-term as well as reminders. They are a means of centering me each day. They are also a source of brain-dumping where I can write out projects or ideas that maybe I can't do right now, but I can record, modify, improve on later.

I start each month with writing out a to do list of what I'd like to accomplish that month, broken into big categories. I don't have tons of items in each category and often there is carry over from the month before.

  • personal - family items, around-the-house projects
  • fitness - my Apple watch goal, a milage goal for running
  • school - items specific to school projects/activities
  • professional - my blogs, presentations
Next, I journal every day. The final part to my daily journal is my to do list for that specific day. Since I workout in the mornings, I start with my fitness goal. The rest of the list are items like blogging, laundry, scheduling "x" appointments, DIY projects, and my daughters' activities. If I'm in the middle of a project, I'll add a part of the project I'd like to get done. Most days, my to do list is no more than 10 items long.

Now, for school purposes, the school year is over. But that doesn't mean I've checked everything off my school to do list. Before I closed the book on the 20/21 school year, I wrote out a to do list so I wouldn't forget things. Most of these are items that I need to do in order to start the year off, but a few items are things I didn't complete before school ended.

And you might be asking why do I do this? I find to do lists to be both calming and overwhelming. I find my to do lists to continually grow and evolve and be revised. I sometimes refer to my to do list as a "to don't" list ... that's in the overwhelming moments. These lists are a way for me to jot down reminders and important items I don't want to forget.  My ultimate goal is to check things off - but not to be "done". Each day will require new "to do's".

Finally, how do I do my lists? You are probably assuming I use some app for my to do lists, but I don't. Believe me, I have tried. I have tried so many different apps and I just haven't found the same satisfaction as using a pen to check it off - or to add to it. I just love my colored pens and paper.

Next steps:

Have you grabbed that notebook (or app) yet? Go ahead. Reach for it. 
  • Do you have a fitness goal? Maybe you want to start a walking program. Maybe you want to increase your weights. Write it down.
  • Are there projects around the house you have been putting off? Right down. Have you been putting off calling the plumber for that leaky toilet? Write it out.
  • Need to pack for a summer vacation? To do lists will lessen the crazy last minute running around.
  • Random items you want to do? Jot it down.
I've got one more thing for you to add, "Come back next week to Tech You Can Do". My Summer Sunday Tip #2 will be about organizing Chrome. Just like this week's tip, it shouldn't take all that long, but it will pay off BIG time. And summer is the perfect time to clean it up.

Psssssst! Have you heard? I've got some upcoming presentations that YOU can join me! Here's a quick peek, but for a list of all of my upcoming and an up-to-date list, head over to "My Presentations" page. 

  • Wednesday, June 9 @ 2:05 pm EST - #WakeletCommunityWeek: Wakelet for Everyone!
  • Tuesday, June 22 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Docs
  • Tuesday, June 29 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Sheets
  • Thursday, July 1 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Slides 
  • Friday, July 9 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Forms
  • Monday, July 12 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Drawings and Jamboard
  • Tuesday, July 13 @ 1 pm EST - Level Up with Google Sites

Do you have questions? Feel free to comment ⤵ or connect & follow me on any of these platforms:

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Wrapping Up the Year You Can Do

I've never run a marathon - the most I've done is half of one. But that is still 13.1 miles. I pushed myself during training and I pushed myself during the race. I feel like this school year has been a lot like running a half-marathon. And I don't mind admitting this - I'm tired. I feel like I've been pushing myself all year. And I'm exhausted. We will be crossing the finish line on Thursday. I've got to keep going until Thursday.

As I reflect on this, I ask myself what went well, what didn't go well, what are areas I want to improve on, what areas can be put aside, am I doing enough, am I doing too much, and so on. And as much I want to say I will close the door on the 20/21 school year and just enjoy summer, I am already looking forward to the 21/22 school year. Isn't that natural? How do you close out a year without looking toward next year?

Wrapping up a year with thoughts toward next year simply mean that you can put this year to rest while helping to ensure a good start to next year. (We didn't really get that last year, did we?) I've got some tips on wrapping up this year - with a look to the future - so that next year starts as smooth as possible.

Tip #1 - Take care of your Google Classroom (or LMS)

Two weeks ago, I shared "End of Year Google Classroom You Can Do". Don't skip this. Do it now and it will benefit you AND your students,

Tip #2 - Reflect

I have this included in Tip #1, but reflect on more than just your digital classroom. None of us liked all the restrictions, but let's focus on what and how we built relationships. What will you keep doing? What can you improve on? Did you "up" your communication with parents in a digital fashion? Did you like virtual conferences? Generate a few really positives and add a few things you'd want to keep improving on. (No need to list out all of the dislikes ... too many of them! And most we had zero control over.)

Tip #3 - Unplugging your school computer

BEFORE you unplug everything, take pictures of the back of your computer and where the cords plug in the wall. Don't rely on your memory to do this - a quick couple of photos will do a better job. Bonus tip: find those tiny colored dots or use washi tape to help you realign cord to outlet. 

Tip #4 - Turn everything off

Honestly, I love this because it does save some energy, but beyond that, it's just really good practice to unplug when you won't be using something for a period of time. (I recommend it at our winter and spring breaks, too.) And be diligent - your computer, your projector, your speakers, even pencil sharpeners. Everything.

Tip #5 - Student computers

Each district will probably share their own list of what to do with any student devices. But if not, at the VERY least, have students completely power down - not just close the lid - and then unplug from the wall. Just like your school computer and peripherals, no need to be charging them if students won't be using them.

Tip #6 - Do summer YOUR way

Every teacher has a method to their summer breaks. Some shut off their teacher brain completely for a period of time, some never shut it off. Some use summer to do professional learning, others don't. Some go on vacation right away, some wait until the end. Some have summer jobs, others don't. There is NO RIGHT way! Do it your way! Use your time in the summer to refuel however you want. And don't let others stress you out about how you are doing it. Me ... I don't turn my brain off. I use it in a different way, and I enjoy more free time, but it's always on. Below I've got some ways that I will be using my brain - and if they appeal to you, I'd love it if you join me!

I'll keep blogging here - probably about twice a month or so.

I'll be doing some presentations - be sure to check My Presentations calendar for these events!

I'll keep sharing on my Tech You Can Do: Resources blog.

I'm hoping to add some additional templates to Templates for Teachers.

Enjoy the rest of your year and the start to summer!

Do you have questions? Feel free to comment ⤵ or connect & follow me on any of these platforms:

Sunday, May 9, 2021

End of Year Google Classroom You Can Do

The month of May always brings mixed emotions - excitement because that means warmer weather and a bit of stress because we are on the countdown to wrap up this school year. This year brings with it relief that we have made it through. We have learned we can do education in this new world ... and we have learned from our mistakes. Wrapping up this year highlights for me the need to do some cleaning up in a manner that is meaningful in our Google Classrooms. Not only will this help us NOW, but it will also mean we can start next year on a better "foot".

I want to focus in on 4 areas of great importance - reflection, Google Drive, Classroom, and Calendar. I believe spending a little bit of time on them now are the keys to wrapping up the year in a productive manner and will go a long way in starting next year off well.

I hope this helps you wrap your year up! Don't hesitate to reach out with questions. The final slide shares a few other resources - I'm not the only one who believes in wrapping up Google Classroom.

I also want to share some exciting news! With summer approaching, I'll be adding a few presentations I'll be doing (most are still virtual) so be sure to check out My Presentations tab. 

Also, I'm #SuperExcited to share that I will be joining THE Kasey Bell and Shake Up Learning team to provide professional learning for teachers! This is a part-time, consulting basis. Yay!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

MORE Slide Master You Can Do

Yowzer! I've had such a positive response to my previous blog "Slide Master You Can Do" that I'm adding to the video collection today. I break apart several of the components of the master slide so you can see a detailed - but quick - view of how it impacts your entire slide deck. I've also collected these all in my "Google Slides: Master Slides" YouTube playlist. Feel free to share this playlist with colleagues and your students! (I'd also love it if you click the subscribe button.)

Adjusting the theme & its impact

Font, text boxes & text placeholders

Changing the theme colors

Renaming the master slides

There is so much to the master slide - be sure to play around and check it out. Do you have questions? Feel free to comment ⤵. 

Or connect & follow me on any of these platforms:

P.S. I have Google Slides Wakelet collections full of tips, tricks, and other resources.

AND ... I've got a couple of upcoming presentations you might be interested in. Check them out on My Presentations calendar for information and registration. 

AND I'll be doing a "Level Up Google" series with Dr. Desiree Alexander again this summer! You can find all of the information and registration links on this website - Level Up with Google. You will even find the "Intro to Google" series I did last summer as well.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Slide Master You Can Do

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted. Spring has been in the air and I've taken advantage of the nicer weather. And to be honest, I needed some downtime. I've tried to not feel TOO guilty, but I needed it. I wanted it. But I'm back today! And I hope today's little tutorial on the master slides is worth the wait.

I LOVE Google Slides. I love it for so many reasons - it's simple yet versatile, it's completely customizable. Slides is my "go-to" tool.  BUT ... I have been intimidated by one aspect of Slides until recently. The master slide. 

For a long time, I thought was a Slidedeck that I created with specific layouts and colors and just reused over and over. Ha! Nope. Slidesmania has taught me otherwise. (Thank you!) Last summer I forced myself to learn about it. I made a copy of a Slidesmania template and broke it apart. And while I am no expert, I do feel a lot more comfortable with it and the benefits of it. And I'd like to share that with you.

When you create a Slidedeck for your students, my guess is there are things you want them to be able to manipulate and other things you do not. And we ALL know kids will delete (accidentally or purposefully) and we want to create as little a headache for ourselves as possible. The master slide can go a looooong way in helping with this.

I'm going to break it down: First - what IS the master slide? Second - why use the master? and Finally - how do you adjust the master slide? I think videos are the way to go. 

Questions? Why not use the comments under the videos in YouTube? I'll respond, but others can also respond, too! 

What IS the master slide?

Why use the master slide?

BONUS! Why use the master slide? Special tip!

How to adjust the master slide?

There is so much more to the master slide - be sure to play around and check it out. Do you have questions? Feel free to comment ⤵. 

Or connect & follow me on any of these platforms:

P.S. I have Google Slides Wakelet collections full of tips, tricks, and other resources.

AND ... I've got a couple of upcoming presentations you might be interested in. Check them out on My Presentations calendar for information and registration. 

AND I'll be doing a "Level Up Google" series with Dr. Desiree Alexander again this summer! You can find all of the information and registration links on this website - Level Up with Google. You will even find the "Intro to Google" series I did last summer as well.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Google Forms + Mote You Can Do

 Happy Sunday! This one is going to be pretty short & to the point. I totally forget about how Mote can work with Google Forms. (And all 3 of my daughters have sporting events this weekend keeping us busy!)

Earlier this month, I shared how you can use Mote - an audio feedback extension - with Docs, Sheets, Slides & Classroom in "Easy Audio You Can Do (& love!)". I didn't think about it at the time, but I had forgotten about Forms. That thought dawned on me this week and as with a couple of the ways I shared previously, using Mote with Google Forms isn't in the form Mote was developed for, but that doesn't make it any less useful. In fact, it might just give you the added ability in Forms you were previously looking for.

How about using Mote in Forms to provide an audio of the question &/or as an answer? I'll admit, it's not perfect, but it's possible and does work. I'll share a video below. And maybe ... once you see how I thought to use it, maybe you'll think of another way and share it, too!

***After thought, before publishing***

After I recorded the video below, I had a thought ... as the teacher, create questions that allow for students to submit a link to a Mote as an answer. It would be just like I recorded the questions and pasted the link in the description, but the student adds it as an answer. How awesome would that be? (Please make sure having students use Mote is approved in your district first!)

I encourage you to explore Mote and be creative on the many different ways you can use it with the Google applications. Interested in signing up? If I've persuaded you, be sure to click on this link that will give you 60 days FREE on the Unlimited tier. And as always, if you have comment or question, be sure to leave it below ⤵.

Or connect & follow me on any of these platforms:

P.S. I have Wakelet collections full of tips, tricks, and other resources for Forms & Mote:

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Personal Gmail Clean Up You Can Do

I have a couple of confessions to make: I'm a bit of a pack-rat and I love storage. I love of boxes and I love organizing. 

One of the things I absolutely LOVE about Google is the amount of storage I have (17 GB in my personal account & unlimited in my school account). But one of the things I struggle with is when Google makes changes. Now, I'm not worried about my school storage - and I feel like I'm pretty organized. But, I've not been as neat & tidy in my personal account. 

I have been creeping closer and closer to the max storage on my personal account for the past couple of years and I knew I'd have to do something. I believe I have plenty of storage but I see a need to do a better job organizing and prioritizing what I decide to keep. I am going to do this in chunks. I am going to tackle my Gmail first. Trying to tackle it all at once is both overwhelming and not feasible. (I'm a teacher and a mom, remember!) 

Everyone has a method of organizing, even if they don't know it. I could show you how I like to organize, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. I might have different categories than you or I might have a different comfort level in the length of time I hold on to items. It's ALL ok ... as long as it works for you. That means it's a system you actually use and like. And stick to. That's always the key - you have to stick with it.

This weekend I'm focusing on organizing my personal Gmail. I really need to do some purging. I've known this for awhile. Here is my plan of attack:

Before I published this, I got wrapped up in the purging. It felt good! My timer went off and I kept purging! I picked it back up today and I got through all of my folders. (Seriously, how many emails from 2013 did I really need to hold on to? Yes, I kept reminding myself of that!) I'm not quite done. I have one category to go through and clean up, but it's a biggie! It has close to 6,000 emails. I'm not looking forward to it. But I know it'll feel good to tackle it. One step at a time.

I do have additional tips & tricks for Gmail if you are interested. I save them in my Gmail Wakelet collection ➜

Next up, cleaning & organizing my Google Drive!

I am also super excited to share I have TWO upcoming events you can join me in:
  • Saturday, April 17 - I will be presenting at the Power Up Conference. You can register at this link.
  • June & July 2021 - I will be teaming up with Dr. Desiree Alexander (of EducatorAlexander) for a 6 part series "Leveling Up with Google Tools"! All of the info & registration can be found at this website:

If you have a question about this blog (or any of my other shares), please feel free to comment below ⤵.

You can also send me an email -

Or find me on social media - all my links are above under my photo on the right side.

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Easy Audio You Can Do (& LOVE!)

I am super pumped to share this today! I was crazy excited about a year ago when we could start inserting audio in Google Slides. I was pumped! I shared out "Insert Audio (... for kids!) You Can Do" a little more than one year ago. It's not super complicate, and it's definitely doable for both you and students, BUT ... today makes inserting audio CRAZY SIMPLE!

Today ... if you are sitting down ... get ready to jump for joy! I'm going to share something that I absolutely adore and it's many uses! Mote. This tool is my new favorite tool and I can't stop sharing it and finding new ways to use it.

I. Absolutely. Love. It!

Here's the general overview of Mote. It's an extension. Add it to your Chrome profile and it then shows up in your extensions bar, yes, AND inside Google Slides as well as in your comment box in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Classroom. Now you can easily - and quickly - record your voice in all of these areas! And the voice notes all save to your Google Drive with the correct share settings so they are ready to be listened to! Voilá!

If you are interested ... Mote can do far more than record voice comments. You can also provide transcriptions (in over 20 languages) and edit the transcriptions. And you can record "Motes" to be shared in places outside of the Google Apps listed above. (That's a topic for another day - of go to their website and learn about their other capabilities.)

Have I convinced you to give Mote a try? If so, I can offer you the chance to have a 60 day FREE trial of the Unlimited tier. Yep - that's right ... click on this link and you get 60 days FREE on the Unlimited tier. Woot!

I thought it would be best to demo each of the ways you can use Mote in the following short videos. While these are ALL awesome ways to use Mote to share audio feedback, I'll give you a tip - I saved the BEST for last ... promise!

Using Mote in Google Docs Comments

Using Mote in Google Sheets ... TWO different ways

Using Mote in Google Slides Comments

Using Mote ON Google Slides

Using Mote in Google Classroom Comments

Using Mote in Google Classroom's Comment Bank

If I've persuaded you, be sure to 
click on this link that will give you 60 days FREE on the Unlimited tier. And as always, if you have comment or question, be sure to leave it below ⤵.

Or connect & follow me on any of these platforms:

P.S. I have Wakelet collections full of tips, tricks, and other resources for many of the applications I shared in these videos. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Have an idea? You can do it!

Quite often, I have conversations with other teachers that start off with, "Sarah, I wish ..." or "I'd really like to try ..." or even "Do you think I could ..." I always feel a little spark in my heart and it brings a smile to my lips when I hear this. 

These conversations are really what gave me inspiration for my Google Innovator project. I spent 14 years in the classroom and often had these same thoughts. I was always lucky enough to have colleagues who would listen and bounce ideas around with me. I always had supportive administrators who allowed me to try out ideas. Now that I am in a tech integration role, my job is focused on supporting teachers and integrating technology in meaningful ways.

I want to focus on what I consider the most powerful part of my Innovator project today - the "Idea Investigation". I created "Innovation You Can Do" to be a comprehensive and flexible workflow to take an idea from spark to launch. Over the past month, I have used the Idea Investigation to give structure to several ideas. Three are ideas of mine and two are ideas others have shared with me that they want to work on.

Upon completion of the idea investigation, I see the foundation of my next steps. I see where I need, not just want, the project to go. And, I have a reference guide to this idea in the event that I cannot focus on this idea right now. I see how having it down on paper forces me to think through and solidify the idea. And yes, I have printed out the Idea Investigation and physically written it out - it makes it more real.

For one of the collaborative projects, I gave the Idea Investigation to the two people who suggested it. It was insightful to have all 3 of us fill this out and when we brought them together - the bones of it was the same, but we each had a slightly different perspective and a few different - but necessary requirements - came to light.

This isn't just something that works for me, this can work for you. I hope you take a look at it and try it out with an idea you have. I'm sharing this because I believe in sharing what works. I believe that too many great ideas won't make it beyond the spark phase because the creator don't know where to start. You can start here. You can start with this "Idea Investigation". You CAN do this.

Here is a link to the whole "Innovation You Can Do" workbook. You are welcome to use the entire workbook to guide a timeline, meetings with others as you work through your project, and reflections. If you only want the Idea Investigation, it's Slide 3. Feel free to print it out or keep it digitally.

And if you are looking to bounce ideas around, feel free to comment below ⤵ , email me ( find me on social media:

Twitter - @kiefersj
Facebook - Sarah Kiefer
Wakelet - @kiefersj
YouTube - my channel

Monday, February 22, 2021

Graphic Organizers You Can Do

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.

This year is no different. This past week at the "Learning with Google" event, Google announced there will be some changes in storage capacity and that got me thinking. I need to do some major digital cleaning and organization! I won't hit the panic button. I love organizing! So I am going to seize this opportunity to do some cleaning & organizing.

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.

Here is a link to "Graphic Organizers Galore!" Feel free to make your own copy so you can customize how it works best for you. I've included a link to the original Google Slide in case you'd want to come back and see when more have been added.

If you are looking for some help on organizing in your digital spaces, I have "Google Drive Organization You Can Do" that might interest you. It's six steps to helping you organize your Google Drive.

As always, if you have questions or comments:

🌟feel free to comment below 
🌟find me on Twitter (@kiefersj)
🌟find me on Facebook (Sarah Kiefer)
🌟email me (

And you check out my Google Slides Wakelet collection, too!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Tech-infused Valentine's activities You Can Do

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 - 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.

If you want your own copy, here is a link for a template view: Valentine's Day

Looking for more - or different activities - for Valentine's Day? I've got an entire Valentine's Wakelet collection for them! 

I hope you (& your students) enjoy this or any of the other activities! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below!

You can also find me on:
Twitter - @kiefersj
Facebook - Sarah Kiefer