Sunday, December 18, 2022

Google Groups You Can Do

The end of November/beginning of December was rough for me. I thought I had a migraine I couldn't get rid of and ended up spending 3 days in the hospital, undergoing a bunch of tests (all came back normal), ultimately to be diagnosed with shingles. I was stopped in my tracks. It was beyond awful. The pain was horrendous & nothing helped. It appeared on my face. And in my right eye.

With shingles, I had reduced vision for a week or so, so my inboxes were a giant mess when I was able to finally take a look. Ugh. I was also under strict orders to TAKE IT EASY. REST. DO NOT WORK. [I have never been a believer in "zero inbox". Mostly because I just didn't think I could achieve it. So I honestly didn't try hard.]

BUT ... I used this time as an opportunity to take the time and DO something about it. All it took was adjusting the settings in the several Google Groups I belong to. I love the learning and sharing that happens in these groups and I don't want to "miss out" ... but I also can't read/respond to everything. 

I did a little reading on what the settings actually meant and voilá! I am a changed person! (well ... when it comes to email, anyway)

I put together a quick overview of what it looks like - and below, I will link to some Google Groups resources, if you want to dive in a little deeper like I did.

Google Groups Help page "Create a group & choose group settings".

P.S. I'm not missing out! If anything, I am smarter about the ones I actually read, and feel good about the learning I do. And I know I managing my time better. Rather than 20 or so emails, I get a max of ONE per group. WOW!!!

P.P.S. I also decided to turn off the text message notifications on my watch. That has also made a difference! It's little things like this that are going to help me move into 2023 with a better balance and helping me focus on the "now". 

My challenge to you ... what is one little change can you make? Here are a few I'm contemplating trying next ... thoughts?

  • Turn off notifications for social media? 
  • Turn off the little red circle badge letting you know the number of notifications?
  • Only checking emails at designated times of the day?
I hope 2022 ends on a positive and healthy note for you and 2023 starts out the same.

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? Sign up here!  ***

Monday, October 17, 2022

Communication You Can Do

I started this post awhile back and I'll admit ... I feel like a post about communication should be an example of the focus - good communication. I hesitate to hold myself up as an example of "good communication" since I don't know that I do it well. I try, but always feel like I fall short. The following quote is a guiding force for me. 

In my PLN recently, newsletters and forms of communication have been talked about and ideas shared and questioned. The "who" - "why" -"how" - "how often" - "what tool" are big questions. I don't think there is one correct answer - rather, if you are the one creating the communication, you need to account for your audience and their preferences. Another key to good communication is the relationship you have with those you are communicating with. 

Let's break it down:

WHO ➙ are you communicating with? Staff? Students? Admin? Parents? Community?

WHY ➙ are you doing this? Is it to train/teach? Share info? Remind? Update? 

HOW ➙ are you sending out communication? Is it on social media? Is it via email? A newsletter? A piece of paper, possibly hung up in the teacher area? Or a combo of two or more of these?

HOW OFTEN ➙ is this on a regular basis? What is the regularity - daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc?

WHAT TOOL ➙ this goes right along with "How" ... are you able to leverage to paid tool or do you need to stick to free tools? Do you need a tool that provides data/analytics? Do you know how the tool works?

If you can identify answers to all of these above, I think you are in good shape. If you can't answer them all, I suggest taking some time to think through them and maybe even have a conversation with others about them.

Here's how it helped me this year. I added the middle school & high school to the buildings I am supporting this year, so now I'm supporting all of our buildings preK-12. I've been in the elementary buildings for about 5 years, and I added the new intermediate school last year. I used to teach at the middle school, but I've done very little interacting with teachers at the high school. I felt it was important to communicate with the teachers ... all of them ... so they knew I was someone who was happy to help. I had a relationship with most of the teachers in our district, but some I didn't. I wanted to build their ability to trouble-shoot and identify resources that could help them, since our tech team was smaller and I didn't want to increase their "downtime" when an issue arose. We have limited funds, if any, for this. I had to do it regular enough they would remember me & come to expect it, yet not so often they'd overlook it and I couldn't sustain it. I needed a super easy way to reach ALL of them.

I weighed my options of a newsletter, blog, website, doc, or email and I realized I was over complicating matters. We have a staff group email already set up and email was going to be the way ANYthing "got" to them whether it was a newsletter or Doc, etc, so I went with a newsletter as an email. I pushed myself to come up with a creative title and landed on "🗣 Hey, RLSD - Did you know ...". Being mindful of my time - and my teachers - I decided every other week and I picked Tuesdays to send it out. (And yes, I put serious thought into which day of the week to send it.)

Now here's the fun part - Google Docs has added the building block called "Email draft". 🧡 it! I can draft the email in a Google Doc, giving me the ability to work on it over time ... and several ahead if I'd like ... and not worry about the "accidental" sending. I keep the info short and sweet. I link to more detailed info, so it's not packed with text. And of course, I sprinkle in emoji's to appeal to the visual interest. At the bottom, I inserted hyperlinks to important resources for continual reminders of their existence. When I'm ready to start the next one, I just make a copy and replace the info. Voilá!

In time, I plan to include a link to the folder where I have these drafts housed so staff can look back. I have gotten positive feedback from the first few I've shared out. I am trying to include timely info about our programming or updates along with keyboard shortcuts or other quick tips.

Question for you ➙ do you send out regular communication? What works for you? Have you found what doesn't? Want to toss some ideas around? I'd be happy to ... just connect - all my socials are found in the top right of my blog. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Getting Help You Can Do ... I did!

Recently, I reached out to fellow Google Innovator - Chris Smith - for help with Data Studio. I had a project I honestly didn't think was possible. Chris showed me it absolutely was possible! He made it happen and recently shared our story on his blog - Smith Visualizations. 

He has graciously allowed me to share it here as well. I know I have a lot of learning to do with Data Studio, but I have friends who are also patient teachers, so I know I'll continue learning.

Chris Smith - Smith Visualizations

If you have an idea or project in mind - especially one that you aren't sure if it's possible - reach out ... to me, to a colleague, to a virtual friend, to someone ... and allow them to help.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Start Your LMS You Can Do

School is back in session! We just completed our first week of school and I feel the rhythm of school settling in. It's going to be a roller coaster - for sure - but I do love routine and seeing students and colleagues on a regular basis.

Since we are starting a new year, I'm excited to share a file I created for the teachers in my district. We are continuing with the same LMS' we've used for numerous years - Schoology for our upper grades and Google Classroom for our younger grades. And this year, we are starting without the heavy threat of closure, so I feel like we can all take another step forward in our use of both platforms. 

But I also know we are not all at the same spot. We have brand new to teaching staff, we have brand new to our district staff, and we have a large group of returning staff, so I'm trying to be mindful of everyone's background. I've created a "one-pager" for each that will help you get started, take a step forward, and then to challenge you to add something new to your experience. 

I created them in Google Slides, so I will share the file, but I do want to note, I am working off experience in my district. If you are a teacher somewhere else, I truly hope this helps. If you are a coach and supporting other teachers, you may want to make a copy of the Slides and adjust it to best suit you and your teachers. I've also included a "template" if you wanted to duplicate them for other programs ... I think I might do this for additional programs we use.

Looking to make a copy? Here is "Start Your LMS You Can Do". 

As always, reach out if you have questions. Both Schoology and Google Classroom offer so many features and possibilities in our digital classrooms.

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? Sign up here!  ***

Monday, August 8, 2022

Less IS More You Can Do

Truth #1 - I've not published a blog in quite some time.
Truth #2 - I've not spent as much time on social media this summer.
Truth #3 - I've not missed it.
Truth #4 - These past 2 years have been more than tiring ... and this coming year is also going to be tough, too.
Truth #5 - I'm ready to get back into it. 

I feel like I barely crept over the finish line in June of this year. I ended the year tired.

But now the new school year is here, I am ready. I've done a lot of thinking this summer and I've come to realize something. 

Less IS more.

I am one person and I cannot do everything. And I'm ok with this idea. I've not always been ... and I know I won't be perfect, but this is my focus for the year. I DID do professional learning this summer, but I didn't spend time learning new tools or applications - I spent time learning more about the ones I already use and I found some pretty cool things. I feel more confident with them. 

And I'm going to set goals that are more realistic. New blog twice a month ... new resources on TYCD: Resources twice a month ... new Templates for Teachers and Tech with Littles at least once a month. I'm also going to look around for some places to present.

I am also going to keep myself surrounded by good people. As a friend recently said in a text, "my coworkers are ridiculously amazing" ... I'm lucky to work with these people.

I hope as the new school year starts for you, you too, take a little time and really think about where you are spending your time and energy. Put it into the things that matter - the people who matter - and don't get caught up by "shiny" or "pinterest-y" things. 

You know what makes education REALLY work? The people who care. Not the programs, not the tools, not the politics. The people. 

*** Every Monday, I share a newsletter with a collection of Tech You Can Do resources. It is delivered right to your inbox. Interested? Sign up here!  ***

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

High AIMS presentations (June 15, 2022)

I WAS excited to jump back into presenting this week at one of the first conferences I presented at solo - High AIMS in Cincinnati, Ohio. I've not been to many face-to-face conferences yet and I was excited to be back in person and connect with people again.

This year, I had 2 solo presentations and 2 joint presentations planned. Since we experienced a wild storm, High AIMS has been cancelled - boo! - so I'm sharing out on behalf of Beth, Brittney, & myself. Please feel free to share widely and if you have questions, just let me know!

Google Classroom: Start to Finish
Presentation link

Google Classroom is an easy to use management system for the digital classroom. In this session, I will share 8 "Big Ideas" to help you set your Google Classroom up - in a way that is right for you - from the beginning.

Then, when the year (or grading period) is wrapping up, let's focus on 4 areas of importance to end the year on a good foot. I believe spending a little bit of time closing out the year (or grading period) is the key to ending in a productive manner so you can start next year (or grading period) off well.

Let's do it together!

Tech with Littles (with Brittney Priore)
Presentation link

Using technology in the classroom with our youngest students can be challenging ... but it CAN be done! It can also be fun and educational. It's all about the HOW. Join us, a 1st grade teacher and technology integration specialist as we share how you can use technology in your classroom with your students.

Creating Templates Using Google Tools (with Beth Kingsley)
Presentation link

Participants will be challenged to think differently about projects and assignments no matter the age and ability level of the student. This session will inspire teachers to go beyond worksheets while meeting the standards. Participants will learn how to challenge their students in a collaborative setting to do more than they may have ever thought possible, all while using technology.

In this session, participants will learn how to utilize Google tools to create interactive and engaging templates in their classrooms. Templates will provide students a starting point for creativity and creation. Participants that bring lessons will walk away with templates that can be immediately used in their classrooms.

Organize Google Drive in 6 Steps
Presentation link

Is your Google Drive a mess? Do you struggle to find files or folders? I can help! I’ve helped numerous teachers (& students) organize their Drive. No tricks involved … but it will be fun! I promise. Give me 60 minutes, max, and we will get you started on the path to long-term organization that you will WANT to stay on top of.

We want to say thank you to Jennie Thompson for all the work she did to plan and organize High AIMS. 

Please reach out below or on the socials if you have questions or want to learn more.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Certificates You Can Do ... EASY!

I'm excited to have something I TRULY believe will help YOUR teaching life become so much easier! 


As crazy as it might be, I have some teachers thinking forward to wrapping up the year (wow!) and the topic of certificates has come up. For today's teachers, there are unlimited possibilities for certificates. And I'm going to add to your tool belt today. In fact, this might replace everything you are doing because of its simplicity, its ease of use, and its possibilities.

Canva is "a graphic design platform, used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content." I've recently jumped in and have been using to to create the images that go along with my blogs. 

And then I noticed the "Templates" tab. That leads me to today. Their Templates tab is organized into 6 categories, one being education. CERTIFICATES. Sure, I expected to some good ones. But I was blown away!!!!

As a teacher, you can even get Canva Pro FREE! Yep! You and your students. It's simple - go to and sign up.

Now, for the templates, I could just point you to their website and where to find the link, but I'm going to give you an overview of just how EASY Canva is to use for your certificates and how you can create just one OR create a TON! Just click play!

Did I hook you in? Ready to start your own account? Are you interested in learning more? 
Check out the resources I've got ready for you:

And if this has been helpful, sign up for my Monday morning "Tech You Can Do" newsletter. Delivered directly to your inbox each week, I share tech tips, activities, resources, & more!

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Sunday, February 27, 2022

Videos in Wakelet You Can Do

Have you wished you could watch a YouTube video without all of the "extras" on the page? What if I told you that you CAN ... and it's SUPER easy? In fact, it's probably one of the easiest tips I'm passing along lately.

I was reminded of this recently when one of the elementary music teachers I work emailed me hoping to do just that. He did NOT want all of the ads, the comments, and the suggested videos to show when he showed a video in class.

You will need 2 things: the video(s) you want to show & a Wakelet account. [Wakelet is "a digital curation platform that lets teachers and students organize a mix of content for easy access" and is FREE to use. I have hundreds of collections. I've talked about Wakelet numerous times and love sharing how great it is to use.]

Here's what I showed the music teacher:

  1. Create a collection - the view status (public, private, unlisted) depends on how/who you want to share it with.
  2. Copy & paste the video link into the collection.
  3. View the video IN Wakelet.
Done. It's as simple as that. Would you like to see it in action? I made a quick video to share this & see the final product. 

p.s. The music teacher can use this single collection over and over to curate any/all videos he might want to use during the year OR he can share this collection directly with his students in Google Classroom (or any LMS you use) so they can view it on their own. WOW!

Quick suggestion - why not create an entire "playlist" in the Wakelet collection? Share the collection with your students and viola! You have a playlist without all the "extras", too! And don't stop there ... if you are looking for a way to share videos with parents, you can use Wakelet for the same purpose! (Thanks Jake Miller for the idea!)

Are you looking for other ways you can use Wakelet? I've got another blog post to help you out! Check out "Wakelet You Can Do". 

Was this helpful? Did you try it out? I'd love to hear from you! Comment below or tag me on the "socials" - all links are to the right.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

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Monday, February 14, 2022

Learning Communities You Can Do

Do you have a good support circle? I'm not talking about social friends - yes, they are important - I'm asking about your "professional learning network", or your PLN. People you can reach out to when you need help with your job. Maybe to bounce ideas around with, help you solve a problem, share resources with, remind you to give yourself grace, and more.

If you don't have a PLN, and I'm referring to the bigger world - DO IT. Create a professional account on a platform of your choice. (I like Twitter and Facebook.) Keep it professional. Find others that are like you - your grade level, your content, your teaching style, etc. Follow them. Join some groups. Don't feel required to interact until you are ready. Use these groups and people to do what we always tell our students ... ASK FOR HELP. 

Why am I focusing on this right now? I am lucky to be part of several great learning communities and I want to encourage you to join them. Here's a great example of the power of my PLN ...

The story:
A teacher texts me and asks about an extension to "shade" part of her computer screen. Yep, I know there was one. I couldn't remember the name, so I did some looking. Couldn't find it. Looked in the Chrome Web Store. Nothing. Searched on Google. Nothing. Looked in a book that I thought had it. Nope. I was striking out - I the teacher know I couldn't think of it.

Then, just before I put my phone down for the night, I threw it out on Twitter. I tagged a couple of people in my PLN and sent it out. I had confidence at least one of them would chime in with help. And that they did. I've linked the Tweet thread on the screenshot below. Just my simple question.

I received responses from more that the people I tagged. 11 suggestions were made. And I think several of them will work ... and I didn't know about them before I asked. See what happened was, people were not only answering my question, they were broadening my questions reach by tagging others - people and companies in a couple of instances - they thought might be helpful. I am SUPER excited!

Here are the top three four I'm going look into:
  • using the "Stickies" tool on Macs (it's built in, nothing to download or install, I can re-size as much as necessary, even change color & type on them)
  • the extension (which is packed with a TON more features than a screen shade)
  • the extension Helperbird (which has 38 other features - the company chimed in on this)
  • just before I published, I looked back at the Tweet and found Texthelp chimed in, too, so this is definitely on the list!
Here's something to note about these ideas - I don't know the people who suggested them. I am super grateful they chose to respond. When you use a platform like Twitter, not only can you reach out to your PLN, you can reach out to the wider world.

Can you add to this? That would be awesome! See, it's not going to just help me ... anyone who reads the Tweet will learn everything I just did. How cool is that? 

Have you used any of these? Do you have a preference? Let me know in the comments or on the socials. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

2033 Time Capsule You Can Do

We are in a very unique month ... February 2022 ... or 2-2022. And if you look at specific dates, you'll see two more more unique dates: 2-2-2022 and 2-22-2022. Have seen the posts on social media suggesting  students to create time capsules like I have? What makes 2/2022 even more unique is the current first graders will be in their SENIOR YEAR in 2033! Layer on specific dates and these 1st graders will experience March 3, 2033 ... or 3-3-2033 ... in their senior year.

How cool are these dates?

I shared this idea of time capsules with the 1st grade teachers in my district and they all loved it as much as I did. I'm excited to see what becomes of this activity! Today, I am sharing the digital activity I created to go in the time capsules.

This activity is loosely based on the idea of capturing "now" in a way that can easily be compared to future dates. I bought something like this for my own daughters capturing their birth year information. You are welcome to use it "as is" or it can be completely customized to better fit you and your students. I created one slide to fit current 1st graders and one slide that will work for students of all ages.

Interested? Click the image below to make a copy for you & your students. What else will you include in YOUR time capsules?

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Storage, Clean Up & Recommendations You Can Do

This year I am going to have to make some big changes to my Google Drive. I am nearing the max storage for my personal account and I am going to HAVE to take care of it. I have stumbled on a super easy way to see where my storage is being used and it comes with some suggestions on what I can get rid of.

Now, I AM talking about my personal account, but if I'm smart, I'll also pay attention to my school account because education domains will soon have limited storage as well. (For more information on the differences in storage and all features, please refer to Compare Editions.) And while I am not super worried right now, I DO know that if I'm going to share easy tips, I'm going to also go ahead and take advantage of them in my school account, too!

I have a LOT in my Google account. The line showing my storage is colored yellow ... I'm at 83% full. HOW? It's not that I am unorganized it's that I've been using Google for a long time and I've been loving how it saves to the cloud and I can access it anywhere. So I've been using it. 

I found a link to see how my storage was being used at the very bottom of my Gmail awhile back and now I also see it in Drive. But I ALSO heard on John Sowash's podcast, The Chromebook Classroom, the episode called "10 Links you should click (Jan 2022)" about Google One website. It's brilliantly helpful!

Interested in what you can see and tips on cleaning up your Google account? Check out this video:

After I recorded, I emptied the trash in my Drive and saved myself 10% of my storage! Easy peasy! (And most of them were videos I had deleted.)  WOW! I even noticed that clicking on the storage cloud in Drive will take you to a list of the largest files in your Drive. Easy way to delete your larger files that you no longer need, right? 

Don't put this off ... paying for storage is not a bad idea, but don't paying for storage when you don't really have to.

I didn't mention working on organization, but if you are interested in working on that, I've got a few resources for you:

Saturday, January 8, 2022

New Year's Goals I Can Do & You Can, too!

I had this whole blog written and then I realized I had it backwards. I do not make New Year's resolutions. I have made daily resolutions for the past 2 years. I have attempted to focus on 3-5 personal and 5 school related goals each day. I include big goals and little tasks. I include boring and routine items as well as exciting and thrilling. 

And then I read John Spencer's blog post, Using the SLIME Method for Setting New Year’s Resolutions, and I knew exactly what I had been missing (ok, I actually listened to his podcast, also linked in the article above). 

I LOVE John's proposal to do AND let go ... to keep doing AND get better ... and to have fun. And to wrap it up with the acronym "SLIME"? So fun! And be sure to read all the way through John's post. Near the bottom, he covers the difference between process & product goals. This is critical because I believe they go together. I realize that by having my daily goals/tasks, I am itemizing my process goals in order to achieve my product goals. After listening to John, I realize how important these daily goals/tasks are to me in order to achieve my larger product goals. Yes! 

Here are my 2022 SLIME goals/resolutions - I firmly believe that writing them down and sharing them makes me more accountable. 

Start: use Smore to share out resources in a more "collection" manner
Let go: of the stress & guilt I put on myself
Improve: my time spent with my family - both immediate & extended
Maintain: the new strength training consistency
Experiment: work on a top secret project (or two!)

Can you do this with students? Sure! They may not fully understand it without your guidance but John's graphics and built in suggestions can help. This could also make a great mid-year reflection and writing or video or creative assignment. 

Are you looking for other activities to do with your students at the beginning of this new year? I've started building "The New Year" Wakelet Collection.  If you have something I could add, I'd love to know about it! Please post it below or tag me on social media. We are better together!