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 reach out! You can contact me through any number of my social channels.

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 - reach out! All of my "socials" links are in the top right corner. 

Be sure to 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